Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Heart Thrift Shopping

Not only is MacGyver a top-notch carpenter, but he is a genius at operating on a budget. The other day he needed doors for our bathroom, so he took me to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the Goodwill of home improvement shops. I had never been there, and marveled at the buckets of doorknobs, the $3000 widescreen TV for $600, the $45 washing machines, and the crap. I tried to take pictures of everything that awed me, but the employees were giving me disapproving looks. Here's a taste of the appalling treasures I found.

Note the illustration of a gloved hand. Is this supposed to imply that sophisticated ladies use this product, or is it a warning to never touch a mercury switch with your naked flesh? And it's only five cents! Has it ever been so cheap to poison yourself?

Among the mugs and chotchkies I found an old, old bottle of cologne. I couldn't wrap my head around this thing. I mean, it just screams mammy doll, and yet it is celebrated kitsch. Avon Small World Perfume...the smell of racism.

This would be just darling in the parlor. I was really hoping it was a chair with a periscope, but it turned out to have air-conditioning controls, so I guess it's from a hair salon. Or maybe it's really an evil robot from the future. I think we're safe as long as no one plugs it in.

It's a vinyl record! For your car! That caption reads Take a super adventure with "Kid James" through a very special book...the KID JAMES VERSION of the Bible! Discover the stories of Bible Characters who traveled...God's Super Travelers! When I was a kid we listened to our Bill Cosby: Himself cassette tape on road trips, not Christian propaganda. We would have considered this aural punishment. I hope whoever buys this burns it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Memorable Holiday Moments

-I spent all day baking on Christmas Eve. I was trying a fancy new recipe for brownies and had put the nice, pourable batter in the fridge to mellow overnight per the cookbook's suggestion. To my horror, I discovered the consistency had turned to that of stiff modeling clay. I had to dig out chunks of batter and mold them to fit the pan.

-At MacGyver's aunt's Christmas Eve party, his sister Sunshine reminded VBG's sister that she and a guest are invited to her wedding. Sunshine added that the guest does not have to be her boyfriend, and nearby relatives piped up and offered to let Sis bring their dogs. Why? Because dogs are much better people than that tool.

-I've been attending church semi-regularly since this summer, and I joined my family for Christmas Eve services. Before mass started I felt someone staring at me. I knew something was wrong, because I don't believe* it's actually possible to feel another's gaze. I looked over at the source, and discovered the presence of Nick from school. You could say I felt a wave of pure hatred wash over me if you wanted to put it nicely. I spent the first part of mass trying to convince myself I am a grown-up and I do not solve problems with sidekicks to the knee.

-MacGyver and I were in his parents' neighborhood for their Christmas morning get-together. He had the tailgate of his dualie open to wrap a rake, and I was carrying the wrapped presents when a terrier broke out of its yard and ran barking madly toward us. I love dogs, but I am scared of strange ones. In half a second I went from loitering in the street to standing on the tailgate, still holding presents. I guess I levitated. A Christmas Miracle!

-MacGyver's two and a half year old niece, KP, has seen me but has never wanted anything to do with me. So when she kept coming up to me to hand me toys, I was confused. She has better motor skills than Baby Bunny but is less intelligible, and I had no idea what she was very earnestly trying to tell me. Her favorite thing to hand me was a toy plate, a fork, and a Mr. Potato Head ear, so I pretended to cut off chunks and held the fork out. Very solemnly, she pretended along and ate what I offered. She didn't get tired of it, and every member of MacGyver's family got a chance to watch and laugh their asses off.

-This was the first Christmas I did not glue myself to MacGyver's elbow at his grandparents' Christmas party, and I went and made conversation with people independently. His grandparents' parties always stress me out because there's dozens of people who look vaguely familiar, but I can't remember their names, and I have no idea what to say to anybody. I am thinking that next year I should remember to take a pack of malt beverages.

-MacGyver grilled ten pounds of salmon for my family. Droooooool.

-Mercury abruptly announced "I'm too full to" and stopped playing with his sibs. When we figured out what he meant was "I'm too full to do anything but vomit" my sister rushed him to the bathroom, but it was occupied, so she tried to get him to my dad's bathroom. "Tried" is the operative word here. Mercury threw up all over my dad's bedroom carpet.

-Amidst all the gift unwrapping, Baby Bunny found me and crawled onto my lap. She smiled sweetly and grabbed my cheeks with both hands and tried to rip them off of my face.

*I also don't believe Jesus was magical, and yet, there I was.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One Year Later

Dear Mom,

The world misses you. Someone in Cambodia didn't get a cow from Heifer because you weren't around to donate. Most of the birdfeeders at the farm have been put away because you weren't here to fill them. Some asshole blew through a red light guiltlessly because you weren't there to yell at him.

I miss you. Arranging family get-togethers is like herding cats. I never knew how picky dad can be because you quietly fed him what he wanted. I'm still trying to figure out how to get the bloodstains out of the upholstery. You must have been some kind of magician to make order out of this chaos.

This has been the worst year of my life. The suck has been compounded by being unable to receive advice from you. You knew how to make people listen to you, and you always knew the best thing to do, and you had the balls to do it. Remember when you hugged a stranger in an elevator, and she hugged you back and cried on your shoulder? Or when I wanted to strangle my sister-in-law, but instead you visited her in rehab to help her? Or when you stuck to your diet just in case you got better and it made a diference? I've bungled so many situations this year, and run from confrontation on a monthly basis. It seems half of my success as an adult stemmed from your counsel.

At least I know that no matter how much I fuck up, you'll love me anyway.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Feedback for the Damned

Last week I met with the lady that signed my rejection letter. It took almost an entire month to get her to agree to a date and time, which must mean I'm really important, right? No? Screw you! Her explanations were unsurprising, mostly. It was the interview that killed my chances, people. I knew the interview was going badly before it ended, so I was not shocked. At all. My application essay was not received well either, it was about how a PT that I shadowed demonstated commitment to the core values* of the APTA while working with a client. And I had to do it in two pages.

She suggested I get more experience in the field and really work on become an outgoing person. Really? 'Cause I consider my antisocial tendencies as part of my charm. She encouraged me to put myself in positions where I am uncomfortable and am forced to talk to people. That sounds awesome! As awesome as performing self-flaggelation with live wires! She did not know that I was interested in research, which I mentioned during my interview. So, my interviewer apparently didn't share that tidbit with anyone, which makes my three years as research assistant seem unimportant. Then she told me I ought to apply to more than one program, despite informing her minutes prior that since I bought a house here, all my eggs were in her particular basket. Grrr.

I am making a plan to became the applicant they cannot turn away. Ideas, anyone?

*Accountability, altruism, compassion and caring, excellence, integrity, professional duty and social responsibility. Dude, I can barely list that in two pages.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

That's Good Enough For Me

One of the few holiday activities I have done this year is bake. I tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe for a mini-road trip, made a carrot cake for Eid, and and ear-marked about two dozen desserts I want to try for Christmas. I like to tinker with recipes, but can rarely justify it.

I finally had a reason to experiment this week. I wanted to send orange-cranberry cookies to Anami and Joe, and the original recipe wouldn't do. I got the recipe from Evil Ducky, who got it from the internet. The first time she shared them I shoved as many into my gaping maw as I politely could, then silently wished for many more. I made my own batch a few weeks ago with dissimialr results. The flavor was awesome, but my cookies spread out and were more crispy than tender. On top of this, Joey is allergic to eggs, a staple of about every baked good on the face of the planet.

I began by halving the recipe, because I didn't want to waste too much sugar and butter on a potential failure. My taste is along the lines of there can never be enough cranberries, so I increased them by 50%. I also threw in more walnuts to give it better crunch. Then I was stumped. I knew egg replacer was an option, but I didn't know where to buy it. I usually decrease the butter to reduce spread, but with so many nuts and berries I really needed that batter to hold it together. So, I hit the books. Last week I got stood up at Barnes & Noble, so I perused the cookbooks to make the evening less of a waste. That's when I discovered Shirley Corriher. Her explanations about why recipes succeed or fail made sense, and I incorporated her teachings. I replaced the egg with more orange juice for liquid compensation, used cake flour rather than all-purpose for less gluten, and increased the brown to white sugar ratio to absorb more moisture upon standing. I would have used ghee instead of butter to reduce spread, but I didn't have any. It's not something I just have sitting around, OK? I chilled the batter for 24 hours and kept it in the fridge between spooning it onto baking sheets to help them keep their shape. I made them smaller than usual, because I imagined Joe would have them with tea. Hey, it made sense to me.

Ta daaa!

Cream 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup white sugar together till smooth. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon orange zest. In a separate bowl combine 1 1/4 cup cake flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in 1 1/2 cups chopped, fresh cranberries and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12 minutes at 375 F, until the edges are golden. Let them continue to bake on the sheet for a few minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 teaspoon orange zest, 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice, and 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies. Makes 32 to 36.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Dear Santa Claus,

How are you and the Missus? I hope you are well and the North Pole isn't melting too much. I'm sorry I haven't written in so long. We're still cool, right?

I have been very good this year. I have done all of my homework and flossed every day. I haven't punched anyone in the face, and I only yell at people when I am in my car and they can't hear me.

Down to business! This year I want:

-My cats to stop shedding.
-To lose 12 pounds.
-Winning Powerball tickets.
-The library to order all of my requests.
-The economy to stop sucking salty balls.
-Michael Keaton to be funny again.
-This shirt.
-These cookbooks.
-My serotonin level to be awesome.
-Laurie Notaro to comment on my blog, because she loves it.
-Grad school to realize it can't go on without me.
-A helicopter to fly me to San Francisco at my whim.
-A favorable prognosis for my brother.
-To look like Mariska Hargitay. But younger.
-A decent job.
-More cowbell!
-Christian Bale *wink wink*.

I trust you will use good judgement to choose which gifts to bring me. In return, I offer tasty baked goods and coffee. Please inform me of any food allergies.

Hugs and kisses,
Laura Danger

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Get Around

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I would love to visit the lower 48 by the time I'm 30. It's possible, though not likely. Six years ago I had visited very few of the western states, and then a couple of major road trips later I had a big chunk of the US filled in. Two more big road trips (that I'm too broke to do) could get me through New England and the rest of the West. Mississippi and South Carolina will probably be done separately. The big problem with that is: why would I ever want to go to Mississippi? Arkansas and Alabama are my least favorite states, so why would Mississippi be any different? During my entire drive through Arkansas I had a look of abject horror on my face. I decided the state would have a better reputation if they diverged the highway away from the white trash. The image of 50 broken washing machines in front of a rotting trailer home is burned into my memory. I do think it's a little odd that I have never been to Pennsylvania. I mean, it's right on the other side of Ohio, a neighboring state. I'm not trying to ignore you, Pennsylvania, you're just so unassuming and the glitz and excitement of other states (like Nebraska!) draw me in the opposite direction. Maybe if you weren't so, well, Amish I'd notice you.

Gas is almost cheap right now, I should just pick a state and aim for it*. Oh look, there's a state park in northern Mississippi that's less than 6.5 hours from my house. It even sells ice! How convenient! I'm changing my mind about the South already!

*This won't actually be happening, due to finals. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Ratings: Keys

Esc: Not once has the Escape key ever gotten me out of trouble, in fact, I've never used it successfully for ANYTHING. I'll be working an unfamiliar program, something goes wrong, and I think "I'll just Escape!" I push it and nothing happens. I push it again and nothing happens. I don't give up easy though, I just whap it faster and faster until I feel stupid. It's frustrating, like a spermicidal condom breaking and thinking I'm still OK, I have this dandy backup, except OH WAIT IT'S NOT HELPING. What we need is an Abort key. D+

Caps Lock: Who thought of this? How often do people type in all capitals? Did some keyboard developer's pinky get a cramp holding down the shift key? No sane person actually needs a Caps Lock. Sometimes I get emails in all caps, and it shows the sender is either very angry, or very lazy. Good to know. B

Insert: This stupid key has only ever messed up my formatting. I actually had to look up it's function to talk about it. I'm still not sure what it does. What's this overtype mode? Would my life be better if I used it? WHAT'S GOING ON*? C-

The Space Bar: Poor anonymous space bar, it doesn't get a symbol even though we use it more than the letter E. It's such an accomodating key too, so long I can hit it no matter where my hands are. I can use either hand! Genius! A

F2: Imagine you are one of 12 siblings, and only your oldest sib has any respect. But wait! You know Little Mister Perfect better than anyone, you know all his dark secrets, like the incident with the Lucky Charms, smack, and five Canadian Mounties. You even have photographic evidence and a written request for the negatives to be released in case of your untimely death. Who has the power now, F1?! B+

*I didn't even think to use Caps Lock. It's that unnatural.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


MacGyver lent someone our copy of The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King. Neither of us remembers who has it. Normally we'd just buy another, but it's part of a boxed set. Anyone who offers information resulting in a successful location and recovery will be rewarded with baked goods.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Falling in the Ocean

For a long time I've felt like I'm stranded in an ocean. Wave after wave drags me below the surface, and I never know how or if I'm going to breathe again. I only know there will always be another wave. Maybe I'll drown, maybe I'll be swept to shore eventually. I used to care, I used to fight, but I don't anymore. I just try to float. I'm lonely, but I'm not alone. Somewhere people are partying on a cruise ship. Somewhere a couple is falling in love on the beach. Somewhere a swimmer lost a leg to a Tiger Shark. What we have has nothing to do with what we deserve.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Goddamned Chance to Build Character

Yesterday I was supposed to celebrate my sister's birthday by going to the movies and eating ice cream cake. Instead, I got a rejection letter from grad school and spent most of the afternoon sobbing in bed. It got me thinking that I might have a curse, and I have begun researching how to lift a it.

Some answers:

just enter into the kingdom or ur heart,no curse can ever harm u-relaxed and be positive,enjoy every moment but meditate ,meditation will provide u strong shield where no curse can pierce it. Um, no. I don't take advice from LOLwiccans.

lift withyour legs, not your back. Lifting with your back can cause injury Because NO ONE wants a slipped disk on top of a curse.

yes, repent and turn to Jesus and obey His Gospel and His call, and no curse will bother you exept that of sin (which all men are cursed with). No curse has any power over you when you have turned to and become one of God's children who is living in obedience to Him. Of course! Everyone knows Jesus is the bomb at banishing everything pagan!

Curse the curser. Take an object connected to the curser and place a curse on it. Ask a witch doctor or some other person who practices curses to place a counter curse. Tell the person who cursed you, and it cancels the curse he or she placed on you. I asked Jesus what he would do. He said to punch you in the throat for that lame-ass answer.

Go get some of those salt packets you can get a fast food restaurant put one in your pocket. Place them in a black pouch with a red cord, some frankincense, mullein, sage. Also put in the pouch Jet, Obsidian, and some Jasper for good measure, in your pouch before you close it you should put a piece of paper with the following runes arranged in this order with dragon blood ink: Uruz,Algiz, Mannaz, Eihwaz, and Tiwaz. Remember to keep it with you at all times. Forget Christ, I'm putting my faith in rocks!

when you raise your vibrational frequencies with happy loving thoughts, random acts of kindness, trust and faith in your ability to deal with whatever comes along, a curse can no longer hurt you I'm all about the vibrational frequencies, if you know what I mean.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh. Yeah.

Two of my favorite boys:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meow, We Can

Domino: Happy! Happy! Happy!
Me: What's going on? Did you snag a capybara or something?
D: For once my joy has nothing to do with maiming and nomming. Obama is president! One of my own!
M: Wait, what? Cats are libertarian!
Gonk: Not me! I joined the Greenies Party.
M: Buddy, that's the Green Party. It's about social justice and environmentalism, not yummy treats.
G: B-B-B-B-But I p-p-p-prayed all election for Greenies!
M: Stop crying and get control of your bilabial plosives, I'll get your treats!
D: It's pitiful how you fold, origami girl. True, I vote libertarian, but only because anarchists don't run for office.
M: Imagine that.
D: But Obama knows my pain, we face the same prejudices and racism.
M: Now you're just talking crazy-talk.
D: Look at me! White cats exclude me because I'm so black. Black cats reject me 'cause I have too much white. No one sees the real me.
M: No, they see the real you, and they're terrified.
D: Laugh it up, pink monkey. Things are gonna change around here. Obama and I are practically family, and I'll be riding his coattails to power. See, I'm writing him a congratulatory note. I'll mention how much we have in common, and before you know it I'll be on my way to D.C. Remember Socks Clinton? I am so much prettier, I won't even have to send a résumé, just a picture.
M: You don't watch the news much, do you? The Obamas are getting a dog when they move into the White House, and Gonk won't be there to protect you.
D: I don't want to be in his house, I want to be in his Cabinet.
G: Why would you want that? Being shut in the cabinet is punishment! It's dark and scary!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wallowing in Pity

Christmas Eve 2007: My mom passes away.
My Birthday 2008: I deal with pneumonia and a chemistry quiz.
Fourth of July Eve 2008: My brother is diagnosed with bone cancer.
Halloween 2008: We find out the chemo isn't working, his chance of survival plummets to 15%.

Not only do I have to deal with this shit, but I have to do it on days I'm supposed to be happy.

I am so fucking scared of Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The One Not To Forget

The other night I dreamt I was visiting an old friend. We sat on the floor playing video games all day, read comic books, and ate leftover mozzarella garlic bread for breakfast, because, as he put it, "Normal people make toast for breakfast, and this is like that but easier." On the tour of his apartment he couldn't explain why there were four bathrooms, one was just a shallow closet with a showerhead. Quirks like that usually tip me off that I'm asleep, but I ignored the surreal details. When I woke, I missed him so much my tummy hurt.

Why am I posting this? Because I don't want to forget. I've had two good dreams this year, the rest have been nightmares or hazy uninteresting crap. In the other dream I was trail-running on a perfect day, winding through a forest and by a river and over a stream, everything glowing in the presunset light. At the end of the path was a table full of pastries just for me. It was so wonderful I was inspired to use the treadmill at the gym. It didn't work out so well, with the burning lungs and all.

When I was a little kid I had dreams worth going to bed for. When I was 20 I had so many vicious nightmares that I was afraid to go to sleep, and sometimes put it off for a day or two. I've had some terrible nightmares this year that I wish I could forget. I cling to the memories of great days, and I do the same for my nights.

Monday, October 27, 2008


My father's decision to raise goats was met with general approval. "He needs a hobby," they said. "Staying active will do him good," they said. I know better. I know it's just a matter of time until the horror show unfolds and the FBI tries to hush it up, declaring it an act of terrorism or God or somesuch. When my daddy brought goats to the farm, he basically put out the welcome mat for chupacabras.

Don't believe me? Oh right, you just don't believe in chupcabras. You can afford to be dismissive, you're probably drinking a chai latte in an internet-café, making with the Facebook and texting your friends on the flipside. You can act all indifferent, the last time you were near a goat is when McDonald's was pimping the Mc-swine-brain-and-caprine-eyeball-Rib sandwich. Some of us basically live in a Denny's for urban legends, and we live our lives in fear.

My dad and I were standing over the latest bloodless corpse the other day, pondering the turning of the wheel of life while I found a poking-stick.
  "Dad? Can't you just get rid of the herd? Maybe raise pumpkins instead? No self-respecting chupacabra is going to attack a squash." (poke, poke)
  "It's too late for that. Now that there's an infestation, they'll move on to the next food source."
  "Oh shit, that's us, isn't it? My good turtleneck would get ripped to shreds, but I wouldn't be alive to care." (pokepokepokepoke)

So the problem remains, but not for lack of trying. I've tried trapping those goddamn suckers: I tied bait to a stick that propped up a box, labeled Chupacabras, Eat Here!! in black Sharpie. As it happens, that only works in cartoons, and I only got to try it once. The chupacabras ate my box. I tried exterminating: I climbed a tree in the pasture and waited with a gun. Yeah, even though it hurts real bad to shoot yourself in the leg (I'VE HEARD), surprisingly, pellet guns aren't as lethal as you'd think. I tried outsmarting them, but was prematurely thwarted: "Daddy! I have the best idea! The people can wear masks on the back of our heads, and the goats can wear masks on their asses! Just like the Indians do to prevent tiger attacks!" We did not agree on my idea's level of genius. I can't believe I wasted $40 worth of paper machie and tempra paint.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now We Play the Waiting Game

I woke up early this morning, the sky was cold and gray and foreboding. I took my time getting ready and even applied some make-up the right way. I left early to visit mom's grave, I imagined what she would say to me and how proud she would be. A patch of blue appeared.

I found what looked like little chalk marks all over my black pants. WTF? Some flicking and saliva did wonders, and I found a bathroom where I could check the seat for stupid white marks. I wore my friend's suit jacket like a hug. I almost looked grown up.

I had a brief meeting with my host, and had a chance to ask general questions about the college. She smiled a lot, and seemed sincere. She was a good person to start with.

I had exchanged emails with the next person I met, and hoped she didn't remember me. I had sent her a dozen questions about the minutiae of my application. I asked her many of the interviewees were accepted, and she danced around the answer. She informed me I had to write an essay, and led me to and adjunct professor's office. The man next door had a loud, lengthy phone conversation; I heard every word. After a while I started using the highlighters and colored-ink pens belonging to the adjunct prof. I felt only a little bad when I lost a cap.

For the essay I had to read an article about how poverty affects health, summarize the important points, state my reaction, agree or disagree with the authors, ask a question of the authors, describe an answer that would change my mind, and give an example of information that would solidify my initial reaction. WTF? I analyzed it well, and disagreed with the authors. They stated poverty causes poor health, and providing food security and housing stability through a community-based program would treat the root of it. I argued that JOBS are what get people out of poverty, and food banks and homeless shelters are short-term band-aids. My answer was inspired by F-bomb's crusade to employ the population we served. The analysis was good, but the actual wordage sucked. I sent an email asking for my notes to be considered as well.

The interview was about 20 minutes long, and I could have done better. I couldn't give examples of how I've shown leadership, and sometimes I forgot the question I was answering and had to cover. I asked my interviewer a lot of questions at the end, which usually earns points.

The college gave me a free meal, but all my stomach could handle was a smoothie, even though I really wanted pizza. I spent almost all of my lunch waiting in line. I got back just when the first campus tour left. I toured it last February, but the weather had improved and I wanted to enjoy it before my financial aid meeting. I had to wait for the next tour group, and sat next to a girl dressed just like me: black pants and jacket, blue shirt, briefcase. I struck up a conversation and confirmed she was there for the very same reason. A guy joined us a few minutes later. He was also dressed like us and there for a PT interview, but his shirt was red. I took it as a sign he would get rejected first.

The tour guide seemed awfully young, but she tried hard. I let off nervous energy by making random observations, but few appreciated my humor. I didn't care, nothing really mattered to me at that point.

My financial aid meeting was very short. I was informed of the sole scholarship I would be eligible for if I was accepted. I couldn't even get a Legacy Scholarship. I wished I could take the three semesters of free ride my sister-in-law had forsaken for work as a glorified secretary chiropractor's assistant. I tried to think of questions, but it's all moot until I know if I'm accepted.

Which I could know in three weeks.

It's gonna be a long three weeks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I can has intervyoo?

Thursday is the day that strangers will pass judgment on me, and it will affect the rest of my life. I lie awake for hours after going to bed, anticipating their questions and trying to come up with awesome replies. It hasn't been working out so well. I borrowed Bel Canto from the library, so if they ask about my hobbies I don't have to fess up to reading Brisingr, and I can say "I'm reading a great novel recommended on NPR about internationally-diverse hostages in South America who find common ground with music," rather than "My book has dragons and made-up words in it!" I am afraid I will pee my pants during the interrogation. And afterwards, I will be on tenterhooks until I find out if I'm accepted. Between this and my brother's chemo recovery, I will probably be drinking this week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How to Write a Romance Novel, Part The End

Your romance novel is nearly complete. Before you start shopping around for men to bare their chests and abs for the cover, you'll want to write an ending you can be proud of. Since the beginning we all suspected that the lead characters would find a happily ever after. At least, that's where the book ends. You'll want to stop writing the story BEFORE your leads get the herpes or are arrested for tax evasion. Your tale should end with a wedding or a proposal, and you have the option of adding an epilogue wherein the characters create some spawn. It's important to give your readers the standard white picket fence imprisoning two children in suburbia. The audience for this crap doesn't respond as well to the characters escaping corporate Americana to raise goats and sell homemade soaps or moving to Harlem to bring music and happiness to underprivileged children.

Example:"Oh Damian, I'm so happy your attempts at homosexuality failed miserably!"
"So am I, Angeline. I knew it was a sign that I'd think of you, even when making out with Rico. I just had to find my way back to you."
"I'm so happy your STI tests came back negative! We can be together forever now!"
Damian pulled a velvet box out of his blazer pocket and offered his love and a princess-cut diamond-encrusted ring to Angeline. "Does that mean you'll marry me?"
Angeline undid his pants with her teeth and grinned slyly, "Marrying you is just the beginning, baby!" With that, she proceeded to do things to her beloved that her mother would not approve of.


Damian and Angeline married in Hawaii before an intimate gathering of family and friends. Two years later, Angeline gave birth to twins. Damian never doubted the paternity of his children, because Nickolai was hit by a train during their honeymoon. No one missed him, not even a little.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Write a Romance Novel, Part IV

If romance novel characters knew what was good for them, they'd stay in bed. They would just keep fucking each other until they didn't care if one used to be a child prostitute or a great big jerk. Once the sex is over, the real trouble begins. Just when the reader thinks the lead characters have found love, the author adds a twist to make you doubt the Happily Ever After.

It's a good idea to throw something into your novel that ties in with the original problem. If the man was afraid of fatherhood, create a pregnancy scare. If the woman had a broken heart, make her even more vulnerable. If the man was a scarred recluse, have a mob of villagers storm his castle with pitchforks and trebuchets and flaming cows.

Example: Damian walked into a bar to meet with his best friend, Jim Beam. His balls shriveled in horror when he spied Angeline and his brother Nickolai in an intimate booth. "Nicolai!" Damian shouted, suspicion and rage boiling to the surface.
"Damian!" Nickolai replied!
"Angeline!" Damian exclaimed!
"I knew it! I knew women couldn't be trusted! Women I love always leave me for Nickolai!"
"It's not like that! When you pushed me away, I had to find someone who knew about your past! I need to save you before we can be together!"
"Angeline didn't come here for me, Damian, she came here for information about you! Though I have been slipping her date-rape drugs!"
"You lie! You both lie! I hate you all! I'm never going near another woman!" With that, Damian ran off, crying like a little bitch.

You have to really convince the reader that this could be the end, or they'll notice the twenty pages remaining and the jig is totally up. So ramp up the suspense, already!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How to Write a Romance Novel, Part III

Now that you've introduced your characters and kept them apart through weak plot devices, it's time for the climax. Not the part of the story where the reader knows who will win the conflict, because we all know how these works of tripe end. Rather, it's time for the mutual climax. Bow-chicka-bow-bow!

It's important to provide the appropriate setting for the sex. It should be relatively vanilla, so think luxurious four-poster bed rather than semi public pool table. Since you're writing a novel to blend in with the genre, the kinkiest situations will be no wilder than doing it doggy-style in a hot tub. Leave out handcuffs and blindfolds and don't even consider throwing a vibrator into the mix.

Watch your language. Your readers may be reading your book at least in part for the sex, but they don't want to be shocked with words like hard-on, cock, clitoris, fuck, and other terms that normal people use to describe boinking. I've read many books that completely avoid ass and substitute derriere or some weak shit like that. You're probably asking yourself who the Hell talks like that. Guess what? YOU will. It may be histrionic and insipid, but try to think of it as a writing exercise. Some assholes write books without using the letter E, you can work up to this level of grandiose frivolity by omitting penis from your sex scene.

The acts itself can be boiled down to five steps: passionate kiss, foreplay, she pants/begs "Now!", vaginal penetration, mutual orgasm. Throw in some adjectives and you're good to go.

Example: Angeline saw the lit candles and rose petals Damian had scattered about the room, and an excited tingling erupted in her nether region.
"I've wanted you for so long, and tonight you will be mine,"
Damian kissed her with such passion and tenderness she melted in his arms. He took advantage of Angeline's backless dress to run his warm hands up her spine, her skin tingled in his wake and she pressed her body against his arousal. He slowly and expertly unbuttoned her gown, peeled the crimson fabric away from her breasts, and brought his mouth to her peak. He laved her skin with his tongue and Angeline moaned with pleasure. His hands worked her over and soon she was wearing nothing but high-heeled shoes and a smile. He massaged her moist womanhood and to her delight explored the depths and folds with an artful intensity.
"Please, my darling, I need you now."
He slipped his tumescent manhood inside her, and she gloved him as if they were designed for one another. He meant to be gentle, but his desire magnified and his potent love-making soon took them over the edge and into each other's arms, together.

I wrote this piece of crap in roughly 90 seconds, which, coincidentally, was as long as Damian lasted. Zing! I just blended what I thought sex would be like when I was an eighth-grader with some suggestions from Trust me, there is some terrible writing out there, so nothing you create will be worse than what has already been published.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How to Write a Romance Novel, Part II

At this point in the book there is no whoopie. This is the time to develop sexual tension, or something like that. You can't write that they immediately jump in the sack, this is what differentiates your book from erotica or pr0n. Your characters should be kept apart, so give them an obstacle like a long-standing family feud, a working relationship to uphold, a disfigurement that drives one to seclusion, or secrets from the past. These problems cannot be worked out through acting like rational adults or counseling or flipping a coin. Only marinating your characters in hot, id-based sexual attraction will smooth the way to a happy ending.

Your romance novel should have a sense of longing and unrequited affection from at least one of the characters. Often the emotionally stunted one is completely unaware of their true emotions. If you don't have enough material to bridge the gap between page one and the inevitable sex, just repeat yourself a lot.

Example: Damian's expression revealed his tormented soul, which only made Angeline love him more. "My past is too difficult to talk about. I should go."
"No Damian, your past is the weight on your shoulders no man should bear. Let me help you discard it." Angeline's spirit ached to make him whole.
"What's done is done. Rehashing the details won't undo this pain. All that matters now is that I will never let another woman hurt me again." Even as he spoke, Damian felt his heart slowly unfold to Angeline. She looked so vulnerable and unhappy, his skin burned at the idea of kissing the pout off her lips. In truth, he was more afraid of hurting her than himself. She needed a man who could commit, and he couldn't deceive her into believing he was that man. He closed his heart towards her, and generally acted like an angsty middle-schooler.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How to Write a Romance Novel, Part I

When I have to read a lot of heavy, non-fiction material, I get the urge to rot my brain with vodka. Since I'm trying to cut back on that, I reach for a trashy book instead. These are terrible, terrible books. Just the plots, characters, and style are crappy. Of course, this leads to a numbing of the mind and eventual necrosis. Hooray!

I thought it was time to share my talents with the world on how to write one of these salacious tomes. Why? Because my credentials are impeccable. Not only have I not had a damn thing published, I haven't even written one. And what is worse than failure (besides a plague of locusts)? Right! Not even trying! To create a terrible book you need a terrible author, and I can't think of anyone worse than me.

I've noticed that romance novels follow a more predictable formula than a buddy-cop movie. First we meet our leading man and lady. They are attractive and one or both is independently wealthy. It's like a soap opera, the storyline is going to get bogged down if you focus on plausibility so only include careers if they have something to do with falling in love. One or both characters is emotionally fragile and has sworn to never love again. Then an obstacle keeps them from requited love, they have sex, a misunderstanding parts them, and they finally get married. If they were already married, you can make them renew their vows at the end. Same thing.

Example: Angeline surveyed the party, her eyes rested on the handsome figure across the candlelit room. She savored the sight of the tall, broad-shouldered man. The tailored suit indicated sophistication while his alpha male posture cast an air of rugged machismo about him. Her champagne flute slipped through her fingers, for she was distracted by the thought of running her fingers through his thick black hair and fucking his brains out. Startled by the sound of breaking glass he turned to face her, and when his gunmetal gray eyes met her hazel green ones she realized she was staring at her elementary school sweetheart.
Damian's breath caught in his throat when he noticed Angeline. He had not seen her in twenty years, and he remembered the innocent joy of childhood love. The warm, soft emotions surprised him, for he had not felt his heart sing for seven years, not since his college girlfriend aborted her fetus and told him the father was none other than his nemesis and bastard brother Nickolai. His body urged him to gather the sultry form of this familiar stranger in his arms, to discover what time and puberty wrought, to pull her long auburn hair back and ravish her mouth, but his heart said "Nope."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

As If You Even Care

I had been thinking about doing a 100 Things (all the cool kids are doing it!) post for my 100th post, but then I lost track and didn't. So now it isn't special at all.

100 Points of Banal Minutiae

1. I went vegetarian when I was 15 and stayed that way for nine years.
2. Three years ago I added poultry and fish to my diet.
3. I'm that friend that gets real excited when a new Wes Anderson or Christopher Guest movie comes to theaters.
4. The family dog of my childhood was a golden retriever, and I would dearly love to have one of my own.
5. My job as a social worker for the mentally ill made me doubt the existence of God.
6. I had a speech impediment as a kid.
7. So I had to have speech therapy and a surgery to fix it.
8. Since the surgery, I have been terrified of needles.
9. Also, I came to hate the sound of my own voice.
10. I really hate how I sing.
11. Though my mom said that as a kid I had a British accent when I sang, so that was probably entertaining.
12. I have an unnatural affinity for glitter, Taco Bell, and martial arts movies.
13. The smell of dry rot makes me feel all nostalgic.
14. I don't really understand hockey, but I like watching it.
15. When I'm really bored, I make up ice cream flavors and new state mottoes.
16. I have many fears.
17. I've been birding since middle school.
18. I won the award for Best Art Student when I graduated from middle school.
19. I was the best Spanish student my high school ever had (my sister was the best German student). Though maybe someone has outdone me since I graduated.
20. I wish I hadn't forgotten so much of it.
21. I plan to relearn it when I'm not taking career-related classes.
22. I also want to relearn how to play the piano.
23. I am a certified SCUBA diver.
25. I have a first degree black belt in taekwondo.
26. I can't whistle.
27. I have threatened to keel-haul my husband on many occasions. Someday he'll learn I'm not bluffing.
28. I have yet to make a real Internet friend, but I'd like to.
29. I have saved all the letters I've received since I was itty-bitty.
30. I have difficulty discarding magazines in general.
31. I REALLY cannot get rid of a National Geographic. I've lost a couple, but I've been keeping them since 1990.
32. I am drawn to images of lone trees, including the Connecticut quarter and Days of the New album covers.
33. I totally dig black and white photography.
34. I like to cook, I love to bake.
35. I prefer baths to showers.
36. I refuse to carry a purse except for formal occasions.
37. I've been suicidal twice.
38. I have problems navigating through doors. I push when I should pull, or push on the wrong side of the door, or hit my shoulder on the way through.
39. I also have problems opening locks. So picking the lock on my car was a major moment for me.
40. Many people misread my mom's facial expressions (including me), and many people misread mine (including my mom).
41. I love road trips SO MUCH.
42. Early morning is my favorite time of day, but I often sleep through it.
43. I routinely got four hours of sleep a night in college.
44. Now my body demands I get nine.
45. The first three years of college were the most fun of my life.
46. It was the #1 party school in 2002, but I rarely partied.
47. The older I get, the less I like chocolate and U2.
48. I have visited 4 foreign countries and 34 states. And Graceland.
49. On my dad's side, I'm the last of 40 grandchildren.
50. On my mom's side, I'm the last of 16 grandchildren.
51. My siblings and I are the fifth generation to live on the family farm.
52. I can't pick a favorite ice cream flavor, it'd almost be like picking a favorite sibling. I love them each in their own way.
53. I grew up wanting to be a marine biologist specializing in sharks. I kept that dream alive for eight years, then got to high school and college and changed my mind a brizillion times. I've almost narrowed it down!
54. At least since 2004, my personal Christmas seasons have sucked salty balls. I'm really starting to dread December.
55. Canoeing is my favorite activity, but I usually turn to reading, a much more portable hobby.
56. I prefer to be barefoot.
57. I'm a pushover for tiramisu.
58. I entered kindergarten wearing an arm sling, and I graduated high school wearing a back brace.
59. I am not afraid of spiders.
60. The older I get, the more I like cream cheese, Peanuts, and PBS.
61. I only wear make-up a couple times a year, and that's usually only some lip gloss. If it's more than that, someone else has to put it on me 'cause I just don't know how.
62. My favorite book is Where the Wild Things Are.
63. I'm an INFP.
64. I was born on Earth Day in 1981.
65. That means I'm a Taurus born in the year of the Rooster. So I was born a bull cock.
66. I have had too many jobs to list them all on my resume.
67. My favorite tree is the river birch, my favorite flower is the daffodil, my favorite color is blue.
68. Sometimes I do things that are out of character just to see what it feels like. Sometimes I do them to shock my husband.
69. I usually have more than one best friend, but only one has been on the short list for over nine years. That's the longest I've ever had one!
70. I wish I didn't have to wait so long to find out if I did the right thing.
71. I think I would be an alcoholic if I didn't fight the temptation.
72. I have a thing for baked egg dishes (you know, like frittatas, quiches, and flans).
73. I am sort of embarrassed about how much I'm enjoying Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series.
74. I love camping and backpacking. I'm not embarrassed about that at all.
75. My favorite smell is a man's jacket infused with smoke from a campfire.
76. My second favorite smell is baking brownies.
77. No one knows all of my secrets.
78. I hate shopping. Sometimes I cry when I try on pants and have to look in a mirror. Then I have to part with my money, and that's not cool.
79. I can hold a grudge like it's my job.
80. I love pumpkins! They are so huggable and happy!
81. I lose my hair when I'm under a lot of stress.
82. Sometimes I do things just because it scares me to do them, and I like that rush.
83. I feel loneliest in a crowd or at a party.
84. I am very grateful for the friends I have.
85. I can sing Frère Jacques in four languages: English, French, German, and Dari.
86. I have a pet rock named Lucky from when I broke my back. The nurses found him on the long spine board when I got scanned.
87. I yell at Jeopardy! contestants when I know the question and they don't.
88. The key to my heart is cereal-based goodies: Rice Krispies Treats, Indoor S'mores, and Special K Chewies just rock my world.
89. When I was a kindergartner, I decided that since the biblical creation story didn't include dinosaurs, it was a make-believe story.
90. I miss my mom every day.
91. I really like hugging people.
92. I considered becoming Buddhist in high school.
93. My AP Lit teacher tried to convince me to major in English or Creative Writing. I used to be a decent writer, but I lost my skillz somewhere in college. Gosh, I'm so glad I majored in something as useful as Psychology.
94. Saying I'm not exactly fashionable is an understatement.
95. The first time I voted for President (2000) I cast my ballot for Ralph Nader.
96. I want a hobby farm.
97. I can't stand loud noises. Mom reported this aversion goes back to my time in the womb. I take ear plugs to the movie theater, fireworks displays, and the like.
98. I haven't had a professional haircut in eighteen years.
99. I worry too much.
100. If I win the lottery, you won't see me for a while. I'll be traveling.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stranger in a Strange Land

I'm doing better.

Last night Velocibadgergirl and I were accosted at the mall* by two young lads selling cosmetics from a kiosk. They were dressed all in black and did their best to sound Italian or something. We don't wear make-up, so we politely kept walking. The amazing part is when I didn't yell "Can't you see I'm OK with being unpretty? What about my face makes you think I'd be at all interested in buying overpriced crap from two metrosexual posers with fake accents?!?"

See? I'm improving my social skills!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

No News is Stupid

Yesterday I happened* to notice that the first interviews at The University will be in two weeks. The last I heard my application passed the first of three reviews, and that was the first of the month. Surely, I thought, I will hear something today.

I was RIGHT.

As I drove my brother to the doctor's office my phone started buzzing, and I didn't recognize the number. "Hello?" I answered, witty as usual.
"Hi, this is Susan with The University."
"Hi! Hi? How are you?"
"Fine, and you?"
Paaaauuuuuuusssssse. "Oh, I'm OK. Hi!" I totally sounded like a tool. My brother agrees.
"I'm calling..."
You're calling to set up my interview! I know it! This is going to be a day I eternally remember as a pivotal event of my adulthood! JOY! Oh damn, I'm drooling because my heart is in my throat with excitement! YES! I'm winning at life! I thought.
"...because your SAT scores weren't included on your high school transcript. We're going to need that before your application's third review."
Wait, what? You are supposed to be scheduling my interview. You are supposed to be making my life better! Why are you not doing your job? You are fired at talking to me! And I am mentally shaking my fist in rage at you! Take that! "Thanks for telling me. I'll contact my high school and straighten this up today or tomorrow."
"Great, bye."
"Nice talking with you, Susan."

The salt in the wound is that I specifically asked about having my SAT scores included when I requested that transcript. And then? I called my high school? And they had closed twenty minutes before Susan called. Just thinking about it gets my rage fist all shaky.

*Actually, I have been counting the days like I have obsessive-compulsive disorder real bad.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sweet Home

I have been a home-owner (or HOMO-ner, as brother 2 puts it) for a couple of weeks now, and the house is beginning to reveal its secrets. OK, maybe not so much "revealed" as pried out. MacGyver has the demolition of the bathroom well under way. He's done such a good job that you probably wouldn't think that it was ever a bathroom.

The first secret he discovered is the bathroom is nine years younger than the house, evidenced by the dates scrawled onto a board in the wall he tore out. Another wall came down, and he found 13 inches of dead space. An inspection of what remained revealed that the windows in the mud room are load-bearing. My favorite bit is when he found an 8'x8'x14' cistern under the floor, half full of water. He's going to install a pump and we can water the FutureGarden with it.

Also? There's a railroad spike under the basement stairs holding them level, there's a screw jack where some foundation should be, the stove hits three junction boxes before it meets the breaker box, there's asbestos tile under two layers of linoleum in the kitchen, and some of the walls had thousands of mouse bones inside. Lovely!

With luck, we will move in before November, when our five bedroom house has a toilet.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Taking 10 Deep Breaths

It is easy to be nice when life is going well, when you aren't in pain, scared, and frustrated. It is easy to be kind to someone who appreciates you, who is pleasant and agreeable.

A person's character is revealed when the situation is tough.

I'm trying really, really hard to have good character.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Exclamatory Fragments


OMFG, these are so good. I thought the original was delectable, but now they've added spices! Takes it to a whole 'nother level.


Less than a month till Burn After Reading premieres! I've been waiting all summer for this, and it's just a couple weeks till I can bask in the Double Coen-y goodness.


A couple weeks ago I had lost all hope, but we finally closed on a house yesterday morning. It's a two-story white farmhouse in a quainter section of the county, and I'll have my very own stump!

Awesome, isn't it? It's taller than I am and it has all this cool fungus growing on it. The only bad part is MacGyver wants to remove it. Sigh. Maybe I can shellac it and put in on display in my very own house.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Come and Get It or I'll Throw It Out

Due to circumstances involving cancer and pregnancy, MacGyver and I have moved into my dad's house. In a few weeks, we will move into our own house, unless I just jinxed the closing by believing everything will be fine and go as planned. Fuck. Our FutureHouse has about 174 things wrong with it, but only a few that truly make it uninhabitable, like a gas leak and a loose toilet and an unusable bath. Besides the important stuff, it also needs new electric and plumbing and some foundation work and non-ass-sucky replacement kitchen cabinets and a new furnace before it breaks. Moving into my dad's is sort of practice for living in a house that's older than Utah. He has let a few things go unfixed, to put it nicely. He doesn't cook, so he doesn't care about the kitchen unless it's burning down. Really, he probably doesn't care at all because I can't find a fire extinguisher and he can't hear high-pitched noises like smoke alarms anymore. The oven fan is broken and makes a loud buzzing sound at random intervals, so his solution is to turn it off at the breaker. Also, I can't remember when all the burners worked, but we're down to two now. One of the reasons I'm living there is to provide dinner for him and my brother while he's recuperating. Can you see the problem here? That problem would be cooking with half a stove and an oven that drives me guano crazy. It's only been a week of cooking dinners, but already I'm nominating my mother for sainthood. For forty years she made dinner for eight people and served it at six o'clock sharp. I'm cooking for four people that want to eat things I don't deem healthful for a cancer patient and they plain refuse to eat certain foods and I'm awesome if I can get dinner on the table at seven o'clock two nights in a row, plus I'm doing all the clean-up and most of the grocery shopping. HOW DID MY MOTHER DO THIS? How did she manage dinnertime by not drowning the pickier eaters, not ordering pizza more than once a month, and not threatening us with steak knives and the Cuisinart to eat our vegetables? It's comforting to use her pots and pans, to use her knives that my hands have known since elementary school, to look out her window when I'm washing dishes and imagine she felt this way once when she was my age. Oh mom, it's so easy to find more reasons to miss you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Waiting x 6

I'm waiting to find out if I get an interview for grad school.
Waiting for the doctor to schedule my brother's chemotherapy.
Waiting for fall classes to begin.
Waiting for negotiations to end so we can close on the house.
Waiting for my library books to arrive.
Waiting for Pfizer to invent an instant-Zen pill so I can chill.

Anyone want to work a puzzle with me? It looks like I've got some time to kill.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Some Chick: "I can't believe how immature people are in your town!"
Me: Disturbed from my reading by a complete stranger, I stare at her in confusion
SC: "It's like, I was at this light, and like, the person in front of kept talking on his phone when the light turned and blah blah blah!! I couldn't believe it!"
Me: "Yeah, they teach us that in Driver's Ed here."
SC: Laughs like she thinks I was being funny.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Kind of Blessing

I have four older brothers, and they have influenced me a lot over the years. For example, when I was a wee tot, my mom would dish food onto my plate to cool while the family said grace. One night, I examined the food on my plate and interrupted the prayer with "I HATE THIS SHIT! I HATE THIS SHIT! I HATE THIS SHIT!" Now where would a toddler learn that?

Also, my sister turned Baby Bunny into Ellen Ripley from Aliens 3. Check it:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Face-to-Face with Adulthood

On August first, my life went all grown-up on me. My application reached the office of admissions for the physical therapy program I'm dying to enter and MacGyver made an offer on a house: two tiny events that could change our lives forever. By this time next year I'll probably be fully moved in (somewhere) and I could be finishing my first semester of grad school. Just thinking about it makes me light-headed and slightly sick to me stomach. I dislike the commitment of large furniture and I'm facing a thirty year mortgage.

And then? Yesterday we were with MacGyver's extended family and interacted with kids a lot. He mentioned that he thought one niece looked a little bit like me, and when I protested he barely heard me over the ticking of his biological clock.

Jeebus help me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Your Viewing Pleasure

I have spent July studying for finals, worrying about my brother, and preparing my grad school application. Last week I took some time to enjoy the fair with my sister and her kids.

Mercury polishes his bouldering skills on a tractor. I was so proud, he actually didn't care that he got dirty.

Dolly, more mountain goat than monkey, amazes her audience on the climbing wall. Could this be the beginning of her professional rock-climbing career?

Blaze tackles an obstacle closer to his size. He tried so hard to follow his brother, but his arms just weren't long enough. He'll have to settle with being one of the world's cutest children.

Not to be outdone, Baby Bunny conquers the lawn mower.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Tuesday night I took a final exam, grabbed some cards and ate a slab of cheesecake, then rode to Indianapolis. I got about three hours of sleep and then a large chunk of my family took my brother to the medical center. We were there for 15 hours. His surgery took twice as long as they thought it would, in fact, they weren't able to start tumor removal until four hours after the initial incision. A nurse came through the waiting room every 90 minutes to update families on their loved one's condition. I tried to study for my next final, but gave up after a few hours and bought a terrible $5 novel from the gift shop to pass the time. The gift shop sold maybe 50 different books, half were Insipid Christian Inspirational and a third were Crappy Romances. The rest were Pieces of Shit that made Midnight Warrior seem like a jewel in a dung heap. That's bad. Anyway, after a seemingly interminable wait we finally got to see him in the ICU. He had about five tubes coming out of him and was retaining water. I was enormously relieved to see him conscious and talking, but I didn't know quite what to say so I showed him cards and made fun of him. We drove home that night, and I got a few hours of sleep. I job shadowed at a hospital and took my final right afterwards, all while the worst headache I've had in a year ate my brain.

He'll be at the medical center for at least a week. His treatment is still being decided. If it's one type of cancer he'll get chemo. If it's the other the doctors will cross their fingers and throw pennies in a wishing well. The only thing for certain is he'll never have full use of his right leg again. If he's lucky he'll be able to use a cane in a year instead of crutches.

Right now I would settle for him being cancer-free and alive.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

No No No No NO!

Nearly everyone has to experience the death of a parent. I watched my mother's body waste away over the course of months. I watched her take her last breath. I watched the casket lid close over her empty vessel. For years I knew I would outlive her. It is still painful, but I can accept that this is how it has to be.

My brother has been in pain for a year, he was misdiagnosed with herniated disks and received treatments that would not assuage the agony, that would not save his life. A year ago he carried 220 pounds on his handsome six-foot frame with barely a scrap of fat on him, and over thirty pounds has slipped away. In high school he held the bench-press record for non-football players, and even more impressively he was the fastest soccer player in the whole city. A year ago he could still pick me up over his head as if I weighed nothing.

Now we know he has bone cancer. An insidious disease is wrecking his very foundation. I can't accept this.

Of my five siblings, I shared the most active relationship with him. We climbed trees, skated on the pond, hiked in the woods, caught crawdads in the creek, biked through the stripper pits, rollerbladed through downtown, played flashlight tag on the farm. He made life an adventure. No one knows what long-term effects the treatments could have on his body. No one knows if there will even be a long-term. I can't accept this.

There aren't many people I love as much as I love him. Part of me died with my mother. I can't face losing him or any more of me. I can't.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This Isn't Supposed to Happen

My brother has bone cancer. That is not cool.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fuck It to Hell

It occurs to me, after this fucktastic day, that law enforcers are the biggest hypocrites of any profession. One could argue that priests fondling children sure are high on the list, or physicians that self-medicate and smoke or what-have-you. But lawmen, it's the blind clusterfucking the blind. I can't fathom that there is one single cop that has never broken the law. Technically I could fathom a life-long coma victim being deputized, but that's beside the point.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008


Kickass zombie meme stolen from the fabulous Velocibadgergirl:

You are in a mall when the zombies attack. You have:

1. One weapon.
2. One song blasting on the speakers.
3. One famous person to fight alongside you.

Weapon can be real or fictional; you may assume endless ammo if applicable. Person can be real or fictional.

1. Nothing says "swift decapitation" like a kukri.
2. "Fire" by Scooter.
3. My first choice is Terry Pratchett's Death, but if double jeopardy prevents him from doing his job twice, then I want Janet Evanovich's Ranger. And then I want to make out with him. Ranger that is, not Death. Making out with Death would be wrong, dude, wrong.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

That's No Spider Bite

Before my stint as a social worker MacGyver and I went three years without health insurance. It's a damn good thing I signed us up with Anthem when I became unemployed a full time student, because I had to call my doctor again. The pneumonia is gone, but I'm afraid I have developed something more sinister.

"Dr. Awesome's nurse speaking, how may I help you?"
"Somethings wrong with my arm, and my husband is worried it could be serious."
"Please describe it."
"There's a raised red circle about three inches in diameter on my right forearm. It's irritated and really warm. In the middle there's a hard three-quarter inch lump and I can see my blood pulsing, plus on top of it is a fluid-filled pustule. I think it's a spider bite."
"Ma'am, that's no spider bite."
"You're describing the initial stages of zombification. Do you have a headache, chills, fever, or craving for human flesh? Are your ears or nose rotting off?"
"Yeah, a headache, but I still have my nose."
"I'll call in Keflex** to your pharmacy, make sure you take it with food before you lapse into a pretransformation coma."
"Wow. Anything else I should know?"
"Use an alternative form of birth control while on Keflex and have your husband call us if you develop a shuffling gait and a propensity for moaning 'braaaiiinss...'"
"What can you prescribe for that?"
"A shotgun."
"Have a nice day, ma'am, and thank you for choosing Wellcare Clinic."

Needless to say, I'm really glad we caught it in time. This rash is itchy as Hell and my insurance covers Keflex but not facial reconstruction.

**Klingon for "living-dead destroyification serum."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Cat Formerly Known as Gonk

"It's 'Greebo' to you, bish."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I burn like a redhead and barely tan. For years I have been trying to get the sunless tanning lotion to work with me, and this Monday I finally got it right. I managed to have it applied all over without any streaking or oranginess. I used the Build-a-Tan so it was a very pale, subtle tan. However, it was enough for me. I could tell a difference, and it was a nice change from my pasty, pasty skin. The very next day I flung myself into a killer workout, and sweat like the pig I am. Every couple of minutes I had to wipe the perspiration from my face just to keep it under a semblance of control. After an hour of this, my nice white gym towel was brown on both sides. Yup, my self-image raising tan was GONE.

I do I have to say it was easier to handle than the time I wore a new, extra-long teal tank top to teh (alliteration much?) gym and stained my torse green for three days.

People rarely approach me for conversation. In a new situation where I need to make friends (school, clubs, etc) I can count on having to be the one to make the first move. I swear to God there is some sort of force field around me, in every high school class where there was one more desk than student, it would be by me. I every school project with the option of working in pairs or singles, I was the only partnerless scholar. It sucked. It sucked harsh. So yesterday, a guy saw me looking at WWTDD? and commented that it was a good movie, and he had recently checked out the book. I was so confused (Did he mean Fight Club? Or is it really also a book?) that I couldn't utter a sound. After a short, awkward silence he turned away and put his headphones on. I could have had a conversation! With a person! And I blew it! GAAAHHH!

Today at the library I felt an odd, heavy thump on the back of my chair. I turned around to see a cute girl-toddler sprawled behind me on the floor and bursting into sympathy-inducing wails, she had hit one of the rungs hard enough to knock herself over. I looked at her as her mom came swooping in and thought, "My smooveness! It's contagious! Oh no!"

On the bright side, the cats are bound to catch it. Hilarity, it will ensue.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Weird is the New Normal

Reality has been a little askew this lately. For example, Domino has been an cuddle glutton and Gonk has been aloof. She's been all "MOMMY!" and he's been all "I love this chair more than I ever loved you!"

Also? I have been craving healthful food, like vegetables and milk and shit like that. A gallon usually lasts us four to five days. It took me a day to drink almost half of it all by myself. I looked forward to starting off my lunch with steamed vegetables. WTF?

MacGyver and I have gone out of our way to spend time with Amethyst, Custard, and Pie. Not so unusual for him, but for me it ain't natural. It's like a pig walking on its hind legs.

Yesterday I actually said the words "The government made me really happy." We overpaid on our quarterly taxes last year, and we just got a check for it.

I had a pretty good workout this morning, and I was rinsing my face in the locker room when two little old ladies walked up to me.
Granny: "What have you been doing?! You're all red in the face*!"
Nanny Ogg, cackling suggestively: "She had a good weekend, that's what she's been doing!"

* You think? We're at a GYM.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Silver Bells and Cockle Shells

To say I planted a garden would be a stretch of the imagination. Last year I made grandiose plans for a garden on my parents' farm and set out to conquer a patch of the side yard. I built up some beds, planted 7 kinds of seed, and paved my plants' way to Hell with my intentions. I started taking night classes, and they all withered and died when I didn't come back to see them.

So this year I kept my expectations low, nearly statistically insignificant. I bought four baby herb plants from Rural King and plopped them into containers with potting soil. Because they are in containers I get to skip the war of mythic proportions with the Bermuda grass, a plant as lovable as a cockroach. Watering hasn't been much of a problem because it won't stop raining here. I walk past almost daily, and sometimes I even stop to check the turgor pressure and pull tiny little weeds. Despite my avoidance towards doing actual work to make my herbs thrive, I might someday rally to cultivate upwards of TEN plants. That's right, ten. That's more than double my current garden! That's like someone who farms an acre declaring they'll eventually farm two and a half acres! But not really!

My marjoram is doing very well while the rosemary and oregano have yet to hit a growth spurt. What I really care about is the basil, which has finally started to put forth some effort in leafing out. Every time I look at it I have visions of fettuccine drenched in pesto about to enter my maw. It's enough to make me all aquiver.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Answer Key

Answers to the Cinememe:

1. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. The Count of Monte Cristo
3. Super Troopers
4. Sense and Sensibility
5. Army of Darkness
6. The Princess Bride
7. Little Miss Sunshine
8. Psycho
9. The Incredibles
10. Waiting for Guffman

Monday, May 19, 2008

Free Rice!

I discovered this through Schnozz.

It's terribly addictive. Try it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


This meme has been going around, so I stole it from the intrepid Velocibadgergirl at Pardon the Egg Salad.

The rules:

* Pick 10 (or so) of your favorite movies.
* Find, remember, or look up a quote from each movie.
* Post them here for everyone to guess.
* Indicate when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.
* NO googling or cheating by doing an online search. Cheaters never prosper.
* Commenters should share the fun and only guess one movie.

1. "There's obviously something wrong with him. He's taken off his shoes and one of his socks and... actually, I think he's crying."

2. "I find that smuggling is the life for me, and would be delighted to kill your friend the maggot!"
Velocibadgergirl correctly tagged this as The Count of Monte Cristo. King's to you, Velocibadgergirl.

3. "Desperation is a stinky cologne."

4. "I wish to check the position of the Nile. My sister tells me it is in South America."

5. "Don't touch that please, your primitive intellect wouldn't understand things with alloys and compositions and things with... molecular structures."
Norahs1213 knew this was definitely an "A" word and declared it Army of Darkness. Groovy.

6. "Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed in Greenland!"
I was no match for Anami's brains, she called The Princess Bride. She also fights gangs for local charities and stuff.

7. "I'm madly in love with you and it's not because of your brains or your personality."
Macgyver judged this to be Little Miss Sunshine. He is my Superfreak.

8. "I think I must have one of those faces you can't help believing."

9. "This is a hobo suit, darling. You can't be seen in this. I won't allow it. Fifteen years ago, maybe, but now? Feh!"
Evil Ducky revealed the secret identity of The Incredibles. In a world that celebrates mediocrity, she is genuinely exceptional.

10. "People say, You must have been the class clown. And I say, No, I wasn't. But I sat next to the class clown, and I studied him."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

O Fortuna

I grew up under the influence of my mother and brothers' musical tastes. My father doesn't really go out of his way for music, and my sister was usually in a foreign country or studying at IU. Most of my brothers were long-haired headbangers, the oldest formed a metal band and composed songs and played bass. The basement was filled with Iron Maiden posters that gave me nightmares and my ears have been constantly ringing since the second grade. Skid Row was my first favorite band, I had a penchant for singing Anthrax songs on the elementary school playground (while swinging as high as I could with my eyes closed), and two of my brothers performed Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" for my wedding processional.

My mother listened to NPR and classical music. She took us kids to see The Canadian Brass when I was about four and she indulged my show tunes phase in middle school. She didn't expose us to classical music to raise our IQs or make us more worldly, it's what her mother did and she carried it on.

My birthday was Tuesday. I got pneumonia. Since Christmas had been so heart-wrenching I had hoped I could celebrate my birthday twice as much to compensate. Instead, I was sick as a dog and had to rally so I could take my chemistry quiz. Later I watched my brother shake Obama's hand on TV. MacGyver surprised me with a cake, the cake surprised us both by coming out gray. It was that kind of a birthday.

My aforementioned brother bought concert tickets, but his date couldn't get off work. I had just recovered enough to not have to cough out my lungs constantly, and I had just enough notice to slash and burn a season of growth off my legs and toss on a dress and a red leather jacket. We went to Carmina Burana. You have no idea how much I grew up loving this music. I played the CD nearly every day for a period of my life, I played it enough I was practically marinating in it, absorbing it through my skin and burying it in my bones. Hearing it again was like cells woke up and neural pathways lit familiar roads home. I watched the conductor perform his frenetic dance before the orchestra, like a magician commanding elements of chaos to transmute into sonic rapture. Two rows behind us a woman whispered fiercely, "There's somthing wrong with the salad!" I had to hold my breath to keep from laughing.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Even if this doesn't help save the Earth, it makes my computer look slimmer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beware of the Children

My sister is happily fertile. She has 4 kids, ages 7,5, 3.5, and 1.333 years old. There could be more, we don't know when she'll stop. I, on the other had, use multiple forms of birth control and believe taking care of two cats is sometimes more than enough hassle. I love her spawn dearly, but sometimes feel overwhelmed by them. When she asked me to babysit, I gave her Velocibadgergirl's phone number instead. I had never been alone with any of her kids until today.

I babysat the youngest two, and didn't freak out once. Well, not much anyway. Her oldest child had some severe separation anxiety, but not these two. I got there early, and she slipped out, and nothing terrible happened. I was checking the clock about every four minutes for the first half hour, wishing my sister would get home early (she was actually late). Oddly, it never started. The 16-month-old didn't go searching for her mom at all. There were some surprises, like when she spontaneously busted out a downward-facing dog split, ran in circles around me, and assumed a sumo wrestling stance.

I would like to say I kicked baby-sitting's ass, but I had some help from electronic devices that distract kids really well. I also fed the toddler grapes whenever it looked as if she might cry. No one was kidnapped and the house didn't burn down, so at least I didn't suck.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I spent part of my weekend in Bloomington with Joe and Anami, avoiding Little 500 by hiking and reading graphic novels for an unhealthy length of time. The rest of the weekend was spent in the fetal position under the covers, vomiting intermittently. I knew I had been studying too much when I tried to devise a non-gross test for determining if I had yakked pure antacids, or if they had reacted with the HCl yet. I couldn't think of anything, but these people seem geeky enough to. Check out the blue trilobite!

During our graphic novel glut, I read Cairo, by G. Willow Wilson. It is one of the best graphic novels I have ever read, and well worth finding for yourself.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Gone, but not forgotten.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Family Feud

One of the great things about unemployment is getting to talk to my cats more. I spend most of my time studying and doing homework, and they try to help out as much as possible. Gonk's idea of helping includes crawling onto my lap and covering up the list of solubility constants I have to look up ever 15 seconds.

Domino has taken much more interest in helping. She's really just like family: I didn't choose to live with her and I can't get rid of her. An average scenario begins with her getting my attention by knocking the mechanical pencil out of my hand. With her face. A lot.
"Ur doin' it wrong."
"Pardon me?"
"The Henderson-Hasselbach equation. Ur doin' it wrong. You add the log of the ratio of the concentrations of the conjugate base to the acid. You don't subtract it unless you take the reciprocal of the ratio."
"That might explain a few things. Thanks."
"Were you born this stupid or have you been practicing at it? Hey, look at this! Ai'm in ur livin room, fuckin up ur stuff!"
This is when she tries to shred the Hell out of my brother's Turkish rug. Oh no, clawing the crappy cheap carpet isn't an option, she has to remind me why we can't have nice things. Then I throw stuff at her. Gonk tries to intervene.
"I will stop you, mommy! You can't treat my girlfriend like that!"
"Your girlfriend rips out chunks of your fur when she's bored. You really want to get into this?"
"I love her!"
"Don't bat my arm. It throws off my aim."
"I'll call child protective services!"
"Look, if CPS thinks I'm an unfit mother, they're going to put her in the shelter, where she will eventually be put to sleep because no one wants to adopt the feline equivalent of Joan Crawford."
"I'll call the FBI!"
"Good luck with that. This is why we keep the phone book out of your reach. Look! String!"
...."What were we talking about?"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm an Alcoholic Hero. Who Knew?

Which Discworld Character are you Like?
created with
You scored as Commander Samuel Vimes

You are Samuel Vimes! Captain of Ankh-Morpork's city Watch! You are a knight, married to the very wealthy, noble lady Sybil Ramkin. You often walk the streets at night, and are able to tell where you are by the feel of the cobbles under your boots. You always do what is right (that is, what needs to be done) to keep the city safe, even when it seems bad.

Commander Samuel Vimes


Carrot Ironfounderson


The Librarian






Lord Havelock Vetinari


Gytha (Nanny) Ogg


Cohen The Barbarian




Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


Friday, March 28, 2008


I've been thinking about stuff (again). I just thought I'd share.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Paper, Rock, Obama

On the negative side, Bush sucks and his approval rating is a scant 28%. Might the five year anniversary of his war have anything to do with that? On the plus side, he has given me a reason to like all the possible candidates for '08. Because, seriously, it can't get any worse. After eight years of a hypocritical, Earth-raping, illiterate, greedy leader, we get to have somebody else. No matter who gets elected, even if it's a retarded monkey, we can all sleep sounder knowing the most powerful simian in the world is not an incompetent tool.

If John McCain is elected, he will probably keep on with the senseless warmongering . But, at least he has experience and doesn't have an unexplained six month lapse in his military career. He might actually know what he's talking about, so he won't have to resort to yelling "The terrorists hate our freedom!" while pounding his fists on the podium to sway his audience. As a bonus, he's old and white, so he looks the part.

Clinton is a smart lady. You don't get into Wellesley for juggling geese, that's for sure. She's been a Senator since 2000, so she's got that experience thing going for her, sort of. If she is elected, we'll get more Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton repetition, making it easier for future schoolchildren to memorize the Presidents. Plus, we'll get to call Bill "The First Dude" instead of "Mr. President."

Obama could be our hottest President since Reagan. Rowrr! He's articulate and charismatic, the Democratic Golden Boy. He could have been anything, a game-show host or a weatherman even, but instead he chose public service. What a guy!

Right now I'm behind Obama because I think his environmental plan is the best of the three and he's pro-choice. I'm not so picky, I'd probably vote for that retarded monkey if it vowed to add the polar bear to the endangered species list and promised me free ice cream.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Joss Whedon,

I love you more every day. If I could try on someone's mind for a day, it would so be yours. Mostly to see episodes of Firefly that were never filmed and editions of Fray that were never written. Partly to find out what I have to look forward to.

Rock On,

Dear Mitch Daniels,

I hate you with the intensity of a thousand supernovas. What kind of ass-whore appoints a timber industry lobbyist as State Forester? Thanks for setting up the political dominoes to increase the logging of state forests by 500%! You must be some kind of Hoosier antichrist, because you couldn't stop at privatizing our welfare system.

Go Fuck Yourself,

Dear RaJ,



Dear Doppelganger,

You look like me, but way more buff and about 15 pounds lighter. I've always wanted to know how I'd look if I worked out like it was my job, but I imagined I would see it in the mirror, not on some familiar stranger. I have a great view of you when I'm on the StairMaster and you're at the cable cross, and I have to know: what's with the hat? Seriously, who wears a hat when they lift weights? If I lose weight and people start getting us confused, you're going to be an embarrassment. Have pity.

What The Hell,

Dear Everybody,

This is Gonk. He is awesome. Behold!