Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Fear of Falling Up and the Little-Big Feeling

I have a fear of falling up. Not because I've read the Shel Silverstein book Falling Up. This irrational fear goes way back beyond that, in fact, goes all the way back to the balloon release incident of 1979. I was four years old and I let a balloon go at the zoo, not on purpose, but for whatever reason I lost my grip and up it went. I asked my mom when it would come back down and she said it wouldn't.
"Where's it going to go?" I asked her.
"Up into space!" she said, like the idea of it was fantastic.
I imagined my blue balloon going up, up, up beyond all control. What if it didn't want to? What if it wanted to come back down and couldn't and it was scared? I told her this and began to cry. She put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Don't worry. It won't really go that high. It'll burn up in the atmosphere at some point."
And I became a frantic mess. I thought of my balloon, my poor sweet blue balloon that had become my friend, bursting into flames in outer space without me there to save it...Mom always did say it was hard to take me places.
I don't think this one incident triggered my fear of falling up. I think it's always been there, that fear of flying out of control and never coming down, and the balloon was just the first time I saw my own fear come to life. To me, it was directly connected to the Little-Big feeling and the Little-Big feeling is even worse than the fear of falling up. Both of them have been hitting me lately, and at no other time does it hit worse than when I drive over a bridge in the dark.

The Little-Big feeling came to me in a fever. I was lying on the couch and my mom was cooling my forhead with a wet rag.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
"Like there are big pillows on my head."
She laughed. "What does that mean?"
"Big pillows. They're really big."
"That sounds soft and nice," she said.
"No," I said, and I remember that my voice was calm and low because I found it strange that I wasn't panicking. "They're too big. They're squishing me."
I imagined that I was a cartoon character, a boy because I always thought of myself as a boy back then, and I was crouched on the ground trying to lift three pillows that were like boulders over my head. They might have looked like pillows but they were cement and I was tiny underneath them. It's funny that I have this problem because even then, at the age of five, I was tall. But it didn't matter. If pillows could be huge and weigh a ton then I could be very, very small.
I got the same feeling five years later when I saw a picture of the Great Pyramids with people standing next to them.
"That," my 5th grade teacher said, "is how big that pyramid is. Look at the size of that one compared to the people standing next to it."
"I don't see any people," I told her.
"They're the dots at the base," she said, pointing to the tiny blobs that weren't big enough to be the pyramid's toes.
I got the Little-Big feeling then, the feeling that I'm being dwarfed by a planet, something that exists in its enormity to simply remind me of how tiny I am. And when I get this feeling I want to crawl on the floor and lie very still so that it won't see me.
This is why I'm not sure if I could walk through any city with buildings taller than the ones in New Orleans. We don't even have skyscrapers and sometimes when I walk past the taller ones I can't look up or I'll feel an overwhelming sickness and an impulse to hide under a parked car. Which is embarassing.
But I don't have to be standing next to something Big to feel Little. If I see two things next to each other with such a size-difference I get the same panic attack, and when the attack happens that's when I feel like I am flying up.
I'm not exactly sure why this happens to me on the tops of bridges, particulary at night and particulary on the top of this bridge:

This is the suspension bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in Luling. Look pretty, does it? Well, it's not. It's a nightmare suspended on cables, bookended by monolithes. Oh and if you want to see what situation would make me throwup, passout, and die all at once it's if I were forced to do this:

This is a picture of two men who are riding up one of the suspension cables on the Luling Bridge, two men who clearly have never let go of a balloon at the zoo and or were burdened by enormous pillows on their heads. Just looking at this picture is making my hands sweat. This is what I feel is actually happening to me when I cross that bridge - that as I ascend, I am going up the cables and shooting into space and I will never come down. I actually get that feeling of rising that I get when I'm going up in an elevator and I have to remind myself that that feeling isn't real. That in reality I'm just crossing a road...a road that just so happens to be suspended over a river. BUT I CAN'T THINK ABOUT THAT! So I try to think of episodes of Seinfeld instead. Remember the puffy shirt one? Man, that was funny. You know, I heard on NPR that that same shirt is in display at the Smithsonian. Really? Yeah. Bet that's a huge building. Shut up! I want to hide under the steering wheel now and close my eyes until we're over the bridge. Well, you can't. You will die, if you do that, you will die. Garunteed. You have to keep control of yourself. But what if I lose control of myself? What if I want to, but I can't and I lose it and I never get home? Um...remember the episode when Jerry couldn't get that smell out of his car?

My anxiety shoots through the roof if I see something next to the bridge that looks even bigger than the bridge itself, like a crane that's about a mile tall so that it can lift people who don't suffer from the Little-Big feeling to work on top of it. The shapes of both things next to each other make my brain bizerk.
And lately, as I cross the Causeway bridge at night, this feeling consumes me. I can't figure out why this doesn't happen during the day but maybe it's because the daytime sky has points of reference - patches of clouds at varying points and different hues of blue. But at night, on a 24-mile bridge with only my headlights shining the way, the sky is the entire universe. Impossibly vast. I look up at it and I'm floating up, and the anxiety that hits me is like my whole body burning up in the atmosphere.

This is a problem. I'm not moving from across the lake until next month. After that I won't have to cross a bridge every day, just every once and a while. But until then, I have to commute every morning and night across that damn thing and since the time change, every evening is a struggle to convince my mind what is real despite what it sees. It sees planets and burning hot stars coming too close. It feels so small and insignificant and out of control, it begins to squirm and dart around the floor like an insect when the lights come on. During these moments when I feel the fear like flames on my skin, I remind myself where I am, how old I am, and that I'm responsible and smart enough to get myself across the bridge. I try to become the mother I need, and most of the time this works, until times like the other day the sick bastard in my head who wants to get me killed reminded me that astronauts say that they can see The Great Wall of China from space. AAAAAHHH!!! LITTLE-BIG FEELING!!! I can't think about astronauts, they shoot into space on a firecracker out of control! I can never go to China and see The Great Wall! It will crush me and I will die 50 horrible deaths at the sight of it!!! Then I get the feeling that my mother must have gotten with me that day at the zoo when I freaked out over a balloon...Genevieve, Genevieve, Genevieve...will you calm the fuck down?
Unfortunately, telling me to calm down doesn't work. Neither does trying to convince myself that my fear isn't real. But one thing has helped. Since I've figured out that my problem is visual - the contrast of Little-Big shapes, I've learned to cut out as many unnecessary sights as possible. One evening when I was crossing the bridge and squinting against the sight of the sky as if it were the sun glaring at me, I lowered the sun visor...and that was all it took. I gave the dark sky a ceiling. Suddenly, it wasn't filling up the top part of my windshield anymore, hinting at infinity. It was managable.

And when I'm able to get a foothold of the sane grownup inside of me, I remind myself that the smallest things can have equal worth to the biggest things. One atom no less important than all of Jupiter. No one person less important than an Egyptian pyramid. I remember that the blue balloon didn't feel anything - I was feeling everything, more anxiety and fear than a child of four should have to feel. More was going on then than I would allow myself to remember for years and years. Until recently. Which coincidently is when the Little-Big feeling returns like a firecracker shot right into my heart - whenever a lot of anxiety is going on. The size of this problem is equal to the size of my life anxiety, so I know that I need to work on it until it becomes Little again. As a sign of good faith to myself and to all of you, my dears, that things will get better, I am pasting a picture of The Great Wall of China as seen from space:

See? That's not so bad. Kinda cool. Gosh, they must be, uhhhh, 30 miles up or...or something. 30...miles...well that's...far.  Excuse me, everyone, I'm going to go crawl under the bed and pass out.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa Blasphemy

My son hasn't believed in Santa since the second grade. This isn't a huge chunk of time considering that he's in third, but it seems that this decision has aged him in the eyes of teachers and classmates.
"All the kids in my class hate me," he whimpered when I picked him up from school the other day.
"Oh come on, ALL of them?"
And then I realized that it was possible. My kids go to a very small school, and there are only five other kids in Christopher's class - in fact, in his whole grade. It's great in a way because you know everybody and not so great in a way because a dislike of you can easily become a mob-mentality of "ew he's gross!"
"Yes," he said. "All of them because I don't believe in Santa."
"Oh...well...ALL of them believe in Santa? None of them have older siblings who've, you know, broken it to them harshly?"
"I guess not."
"Well...." I said, years of experience escaping me as I struggled for something wise to say.
"Benjamin says I ruin Christmas."
"Oh for goodness sake, you can't single-handedly ruin Benjamin's Christmas by telling him you don't believe in Santa."
"And the teachers don't like me either."
"Christopher that's not true."
"Well, the first grade teacher doesn't. My teacher asked me to bring her something and when I went in their class William said 'Bejamin says you don't believe in Santa' and the other kids yelled at me and the teacher said, 'Sad.'"

I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath before speaking because I knew if I opened my mouth I would say, "Tell those fuckers that if they want Santa Claus to leave them anything they need to stop picking on my son, and I hope that teacher chokes on coal."

When I opened my eyes I said, "Christopher. I'm going to teach you a sentence. Repeat after me: I respect our differences."
"I respect our differences," he said, giggling. "What the heck does that mean?"
"It means that you respect their beliefs and it's a kind way of saying that they need to respect yours even though you disagree. You're, uh, you're going to use it a lot in life. Let's say it again!"
I led him in another round of "I respect our differences." I don't know if he'll use it. It's kind of nerdy, but bless my son, he is a nerd just like his momma. I didn't think I would have to prepare him for this day when it was him against Santa believers. Usually there's a mix of kids in a class - kids who still believe and those who've already caught their mothers filling their stockings. Christopher is probably exaggerating about EVERYBODY in 1st and 3rd grade HATING him for not believeing in Santa, but I'm sure that they're giving him a hard time about it. This is the time in a young man's life when lines are drawn between those who still believe in imaginary gift givers (Santa, Easter Bunny, etc) and those who don't. What I don't understand is adults who give kids a hard time about this. I believe that teacher told him it was "sad" that he doesn't believe in Santa because I've heard other grown-ups do this and I think the next time I hear it I'll just come out and say, "Why? We're actualy LYING to them. You woudn't tell an 8th grader that it's sad he doesn't believe in Santa. You'd send him to the counselor."

Besides all of these people should know that it is I who am Santa! HA! As proof I will now end this blog post so that I can shop on-line, as all proper Santas do. But nothing for the teacher who hurt Christopher's feelings. She just lost out on scented candles until her behavior improves.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Live Literary Panel - on Blog!

I'm standing behind a podium on stage, and I'm arranging a stack of pages, giving them a serious look as if I've written them and understand what they're all about. And there's applause, lots of applause. It's coming from you (this is where you clap).
"Good morning, everyone," I say, and you're looking at me and thinking, "She mentioned that she was tall but, Jesus. I don't think I'm going to be able to focus on anything else she's saying now that I know that she's a giantess."
And since I don't know that you're thinking this, I press on.
"Today we're going to be discussing Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games."
"Which one?" You ask. "There are three."
"All three," I say, grasping all three books with two hands, and dropping one because what I have just tried to do is very awkward. But I pick it up and fan out the paperbacks like playing cards beause I have freakishly long fingers and am able to do this. You are impressed.
"Joining me in our discussion today is literary critic and writer Stephen King..." I nod to my left. The best-selling author sits back in a chair with with one leg propped up on his knee. He has bushy eyebrows, glasses, and looks spooky to us because we know what he's written and it has scared the shit out of us.
"Hiya," he says.
"Literary executioner, Bitina Cleaves..." I motion towards a woman sitting to Stephen King's left. She's wearing a cream-colored suit and matching heels. Her legs are primly crossed, her brown hair is flowing onto her shoulders like a waterfall in a shampoo commercial, there is a dull axe on her lap, and she is covered in blood from the teeth down.
"A pleasure," she growls.
I shift quickly to my right. "Also joining us is my former literary agent, Sarah, and because I couldn't get a sitter, my three kids."
"I told you that I didn't want to come to this," Sarah moans. She is bent forward in her chair with her hand over her face.
"Oh come on Sarah, we get to talk about a book that sold," I whine.
"Unlike yours," she mumbles.
"Sarah, what did we agree to never mention?" I say.
She sits up and sighs. "Fine."
"We don't want to be here either!" two out of three of my kids cry. They are sitting at a table to Sarah's right.
"Too bad!...where's your sister?"
"She's still sleeping," says Emma.
"But she's 13! And she's read the books! She's perfect for this discussion!"
"We need a teenager speak to the love triangle element in the books," says Stephen King. "I can cover the blood and gore because I've been stereotyped for the purposes of this blog to think that way."
"And what did you think of the blood and gore?" I ask.
Bitina Cleaves makes a yummy groan at the word "blood."
"It was delightful," he says, folding his hands on a propped-up knee. "It was the right blend of horrorfying situations, bloody and bruised detail, heart break as in the case of the lilttle girl dying, and death by mutant bees."
I raise my eyebrows. "You enjoyed the mutant bee attacks?"
"Well Gen, you just don't get enough of that in literature."
"Too true."
"Maybe if we'd added that to the end of your book it would have sold," sighs my former agent.
"It's not a horror novel," I say.
"My Girl wasn't horror, it had death by bees, and it was a blockbuster hit."
"That was a movie."
"Think towards the market!!"
"Moooom, what's for dinner?" my son whines.
Betina Cleaves salivates over her axe, and eyeballs Stephen King, mumbling the word "dinner."
"You stay away from me," he says, squirming in his chair.
"Miss Cleaves, Stephen King is an established writer, I doubt he needs a review."
He shoots me a look. "You'd be surprised."
"But we're here to talk about The Hunger Games," I remind them, holding up the books.
My kids double over in their seats. "So hungry! When is this stupid thing over?"
"Later!" I snap. "I'll cook chicken in a few minutes."
The two of them fall out of their chairs and writhe on the ground as if I have told them that I am serving them broiled-frogleg-and-beet salad for dinner because this is what they do when the word "McDonald's" doesn't pop out of my mouth.
Claire, my 13 year old then walks bleary-eyed onto the set. "What's the matter with them?"
"They're hungry. So Claire...what did you think of The Hunger Games?"
She shrugs. "It's ok."
"Ok??" I ask. "You're wearing a Hunger Games T-shirt."
"And you're carrying a bow and arrow, and a life-sized cardboard cutout of Josh Hutcherson."
She shrugs again. "It's, like, whatever."
"Go back to bed."
"What's for dinner?"
"Unsold copies of your mom's book," says Sarah, pulling out a stack of my manuscripts from a bag and a crockpot.
"Hey!" I yell.
"Come on kids," she says, tossing a manuscript into the pot and sprinkling it with pepper. "This is the only way she's ever going to feed you with writing."
"I like your style," Betina Cleaves grumbles at Sarah.
"Guys!" I holler. "This is a series of books that is having a powerful affect on young readers, some of which who are future writers! We need to talk about this. Stephen King, you're still with me, aren't you?"
"Actually, I am kind of hungry." He gets up and strides over to the pot, which is beginning to stew. He sniffs. "Hm...this isn't done, it needs more work."
I sigh and smack my forhead. Then the scent of the book fills the literary executioner's nostrils, and she cries out like Xena. She leaps across the room, lifts the crockpot and drinks everything down in one gulp.
"A sorry attempt for a first novel! Predictable, slow-paced, lame, too lumpy, needs more salt!"
Stephen King pulls a paperback out of his pocket. "My new book on the other hand-"
Bitina weilds her axe and screams, chasing him around the room.
"Oooooh!" my kids whine. "Now what are we supposed to eat?"
"It's ok," says Sarah. "I have all 206 versions of the book that I made your mom rewrite."
She throws them into a cauldron.
I remove my hand from my face, stand up straight, and look back at you guys, the blog audience.
"Well, thank you for joining us today. Tune in next week when we discuss Life of Pi. Special guests will include JK Rowling, a zebra, a random Indian, and Kermit the Frog."
Que theme music, which is cheesy 70's-ish, and fuels my children's overall dissatifiaction. One of them has taken Bitina's axe and is chasing her with it while Stephen King and Sarah discuss different ways of fricasseeing my book.

The unsold copies of which, by the way, you can find here. So get out your forks, bibs, and cooking supplies before diving in....what do you mean, this blogpost has been nothing but shameless promotion? Of course it has! The Hunger Games series hasn't gotten nearly enough attention. I'm just a writer helping another writer out. To prove I'm serious, you can find copies of that poor struggling series here. It's going to be ok, Suzanne Collins! I'll make you famous!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Starts and Stops

I've been working on a blog post for the last few days, and when I saved it (worrying that I wouldn't actually finish it because I have a unfinished-work phobia) I wondered if there were other posts that I'd started and never finished. It turns out there have been a few over the last few years, and I thought I'd string them together. They're interesting in that they shine a penlight on moments of my life in the last four years. Usually it's something heavy, and I was probably paranoid that what I was writing was too depressing to share. Like when I began transcribing a journal I kept in the Food Stamp line a couple of weeks after Hurrican Katrina....

8/29/08 -  A few weeks after Katrina hit, and me and the kids returned home, I went to a dingy little office by the local high school to apply for food stamps. Chris was working in Lafayette, three hours away, because his New Orleans office had flooded, and my sister, her friend, my sister-in-law and her two kids were living with us. The water hadn't been pumped out of the city yet, and nobody was allowed in. The bulk of the bodies hadn't been found. There were military guys everywhere, even pushing grocery carts through the frozen food section of Wal-Mart - armed. It was surreal.

Everybody has a Katrina story. This is mine.

September 13, 2005

I brought a book to the food stamp line. It's not a line, really. You take a number and wait. Right now I'm sitting on a wooden palette waiting to be called. I'm under a big blue tarp so it's not like I'm standing in the sun like I did when I was waiting in line at Wal-Mart.

I'm sitting between two women. The white lady to my right is wearing purple scrubs and tennis shoes. She's got her hand to her forehead and her eyes closed. She did not bring a book. The black lady to my left didn't bring anything to read either, but she's eating a bag of complimentary Cheetos and talking with an older gentleman in a folding chair.

Chris Rose was right in his article the other day. Everybody talks about the hurricane, but no one says the word Katrina.

The lady just called out....

My journal went on, but I stopped transcribing at that point. Another interesting one was three sentences from 1/12/12: I don't want to sell my things. I just want them to vanish. I' m tired of pushing, tired of purging.

As dreary as that sounds, things were worse on 6/23/09 when I began to write about my desperate job search, and then for some reason, stopped writing about that and copied the first lines from the song "Tomorrow Wendy" by Concrete Blonde, which is possibly the most random display of hopelessness I've ever blogged:

"This job search has officially reached a new low," I thought, pushing open the door into Applebees and forcing a grin at the hostess who forced a smile back. "This is who I'll be soon," I thought. "A burnt out woman with no natural smile."
"Hi!" she chirped.
"Hi!" I sang back, strained and pathetic.

It is complete now

Two hands of time are neatly tied

A one way street

She's walkin to the end of the line

And there she meets

The faces she keeps in her heart and mind

They say "Goodbye

Tomorrow Wendy you're going to die"

Some months before that, there was this:
2/8/09: I was standing outside of the AA/Al-anon building on Elysian Fields, and I had to bum a cigarette. I was so shaky that I couldn't keep my hands steady when I held the lighter up to whatever-nasty-brand I'd been given. But me being me, I forgot that cigarettes make me dizzy so I went from feeling rattled, to lost.

Then there's a post with just this:

My friend Ray took the picture of me by the payphone and he said, "Look mysterious." And so I made that face, which just looks pissed. Two things are apparent from this picture. One, judging by the ring, I was still married, and two, I hadn't washed my hair.
Below is another picture of a payphone that I liked for some reason. It looks good because it has washed its hair.
I'm going to go finish my post, but wanted to share these little tidbits, and just say that I'm glad my posts don't end with "Tomorrow Wendy" anymore. As beautiful as that song is - bleh! I might as well listen to it with a plastic bag over my head.
Instead I will leave you with the lyrics that I found to "The Ghost in You", which I found on another unplublished blog post. I don't know why I decided to write them down. They must have had something to do with how I was feeling at the time.
Inside you the times moves
and she don't fade
The ghost in you
She don't fade
Inside you the time moves
and she don't fade

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

30 Minute Delivery or Your Blog is Free

Let's ignore the fact that my blog is free anyway. My point is that I'll be freewriting for the next 30 minutes before I have to get ready to go to work. So prepare for me to change subjects on a dime (told you this blog wasn't free) and lots and lots of typos....What do you mean you're used to that from me? Ok well today I'm doing those things on purpose. How do you like THAT, smart guy? I could just talk to you like this for thirty minutes, pal, wiseguy, smarty-pants. Or maybe not.

How does certain spam end up in my email? This morning a message showed up in my spam the subject of which was, "We fuc. U not call!" Whatever indiscretions I may have had in my life, it was never with someone who was learning English. Not that I wouldn't be interested in such a person, but I've just never had the opportunity. Maybe I should hang out at more Englsih as a Second Language classes. Regardless, I don't know who this person was writing to, but it wasn't me. Being the security-savvy person that I am (stop laughing), I did not click on the email and write back what I was thinking, which was "Madam, you have me mistaken for someone else." No, I clicked on it and replied, "Fuc only so-so. We try more?" because I haven't had a date in a long time.

Speaking of sexuality type stuff, why is it that my post "Hetero Spleen" has gotten more page hits than any of my other posts lately? While posts that contain the word "poetry" get maybe 1-4 views. What are the odds that it's the word "spleen" that does it? So if I wrote "Poetry Spleen" my blog would go viral WHICH BY THE WAY is a term that I really don't like because viruses aren't good. But that aside, I was nervous when I wrote that post because it revealed something personal about myself so I'm glad that people are interested in it and at the same time I'm thinking, "That means that people really, really know that about me. Maybe they're comforted by it because they identify, or maybe they're amused, or maybe they find me interesting, or maybe someone printed it out and burned it along with books, blogs and Ellen Degeneres recordings behind a church....cooool!"

My kids are obsessed with the show "Teen Titans" and now the theme song is in my head. I'm posting it here so that you can listen to it too and the song in my head will go viral. This, despite what a certain English as a Second Language student might tell you, will be the first time I've spread a virus ever.

I wonder if you know when I'm kidding and when I'm not. The people who read this and who know me know when I'm kidding. But the rest of you who only know me as this quirky chick who prefers payphones to cell phones, do YOU know when I'm kidding? I don't know. We'll figure it out together, sometimes I don't even know. But I will say that what I do is take a little bit of truth (Truth: I got spam mail that said "We fuc. U not call!") and embellish (More truth: I did not click on it. I laughed when I saw it and then deleted it). And I've never had a one night stand with anyone in an ESL class, and I'm also pretty sure that I've been spreading viruses since I was a toddler, when I would wipe my nose on the couch.

When did I start writing this? Are my thirty minutes up? Do I count the 20 seconds that it's going to take me to get up and refill my coffee mug? Nah.

What if someone googles English as a Second Language, finds my blog, and is deeply offended? Well, Gen, that probably happened when someone googled "spleen" which is why they're burning it behind a church.

I have to get ready for work now. Have I mentioned to you, my lovelies, that I detest my job? I switched departments in July so I still work for the hospital but I don't like my new position AT ALL. So I'm sticking it out until I can find something else. Writer/editor jobs are hard to come by in New Orleans, but I am applying for them, and over the weekend I applied for an entry-level univeristy librarian job which I am trying not to get my hopes up about. You know, with the reputation that New Orleans has with writers like Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner (hence the two literary festivals) you would think there would be jobs for writers everywhere. Do you have to have William somewhere in your name? Because if that's a requirement, I'll do it. Lady William Genevieve, Esq. that's it, that's my new pen name. Look for it on shelves, and look for me fanning myself under magnolias waiting for a streetcar named William because that's what New Orleans writers do AND I shall be that writer!

Now I really have to get ready for work. Do I really? Yes, really. It's been over 30 minutes and now this post is free. No one's paying you to do this, William. Not...yet. Muhahahahahaha! Which is also what I'm working on. But that's another post for another time. Have a wonderful day, my dears.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Bonus Poetry Share!

I just found this and I wanted to share it with you guys because it's beautiful writing and because it justifies not cleaning in the most eloquent way possible.

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes. Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic—decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

The Pre-Dawn Blues

Have I ever mentioned, and I know I must have but humor me, that the sound of my typing wakes up children? It's 4:00 in the morning. That's 4 am, still dark outside, chickens aren't even nudging farmers awake yet, BUT because I have gotten up to write my 11 year old is wide awake. She's not even bleary-eyed and groggy, she's asking me questions that require thought like, "Mom, why do some of your friends call you Gwenevere?" My answer was, "Go back to bed," which didn't answer her question and made her frustrated.
"I've told you before why some of them call me Gwenevere, don't you remember?"
"Well...who does?"
And she knows the answer to this question too, so I glare at her.
She smiles. "Mooooommy...."
"Go to bed."
"I love you."
"For God's sake, go to bed."
"But I'm not tired!"
"Fine, but don't look over my shoulder while I type."

She sits next to me on the couch and dutifully looks everywhere else but at my laptop. The problem is, she has a running monologue.
"Mommy, why is that plant there? Can we put it somewhere else? Will it grow flowers? Did you buy that coffee cup because it has hearts on it? Why do they call you Gwenevere?"

It is her turn to glare at me.
"I'm going to go write in my bedroom," I say getting up and unplugging the laptop from the wall.
"But WHY?"
"Because I need to write in peace."

She's in the living room now, probably writing letters to a therapist that she has't hired yet. "Year 11 of my life: mom still thinks she exists separately from me. I wish she would stop writing and fix me pancakes with money in them. PS- I'm going to start calling her 'Gwenevere' instead of mom."

The kids have off of school this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, which means that this child can sleep in. She can sleep until noon if she wants. Why won't she do this? Someone explain this to me.

Ooooooooh, wait I know why.Silly me. It's because I'm writing. If I stop writing, she'll fall back to sleep. She's like one of those babydolls that open their eyes when you tilt them back, only her eyes rolling open is dependent on my typing. Actually, it doesn't have to be typing. Pen scratching does it too. I think it even makes the dog have to go to the bathroom. I get up at let's say 3:30 in the morning because I'm that desperate for quiet time to write, take out the rough draft of my book (the first of which I always hand write) and suddenly the dog's eyes pop open and she realizes that her bladder is about to explode. "And hey!" she says, "A human is awake! She doesn't mind putting down her pen to take me for a walk! And I should wake up the rabbit too, she's probably hungry. And a kid! I'll jump on a kid who'll think he can't make his own breakfast! This is an awesome plan! Thank Jesus I have to pee!"

I want to get up to refill my coffee, but am afraid to because the sound of coffee pouring into my cup wakes up 13 year olds. And ooooooh my, that can be sticky.
"MOM! Why is my hair ugly!!!!!" she screams, tossing her clean, beautiful blonde hair around as if it's a dead raccoon on her head.
"Your hair's not ugly, sweetheart, it's-"
"YES IT IS!!!! I HATE IT!! AND I HATE THIS HOUSE!!!" (runs from room, slams door)

Thus my hesitation. I'm going to figure out what to do. Perhaps I could figure it out if I'd gotten that Brain Transplant I mentioned a couple of years ago. I keep forgetting that I was blogging two years ago. I must have gotten up at 1:00 in the morning. Anyway, the reason I bring up that blog post is that I came across it the other day and I can tell that I must have really embarassed myself in a conversation but I don't remember what it was and I don't mention it specifically. What did I say that could make me want to have my brain surgically removed? Maybe I don't want to know. I'm going to go get my coffee, dodge the child and appreciate my selective memory.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I have the internet at home again! I just set it up last night all by myself and nothing exploded! Hooooooraaaaaay!!! If only I could show you how I feel! I these guys:

Oh, internet. Let's never take a break again.
Internet: Ok, but you're a little too enthusiatic about this and it's creeping me out.
Me: Am I? Should I act more casual?
Internet: No, you can be excited. Just stop offering me flowers and lighting candles around my router.
Me: No candles? They're vanilla cupcake scented.
Internet: I have no sense of smell.
Me: Sigh. Then I guess I should eat the breakfast I made for you.
Internet: ...You made me breakfast?
Me (tauntingly): Yeeeees.
Internet: You can have the biscuits. Shove the bacon into the USB port.

I knew we'd get along again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Removing Awesome From My Vocabulary

I was going to update Creature Feature the first chance I got but I felt that I had to write about the other night, and why it made me spend my first waking hours this morning writing on a dirty pile of clothes.

The other night I went with a friend to hear Claire Keegan give a reading of her novella Foster. The handy-dandy link of which will take you to an abridged version of it in The New Yorker. Please try to forget the fact that you haven't read The New Yorker in years because they haven't published any of my work yet. It's the reason I haven't been reading them either, but we're going to have to get past that sad, sad fact and just keep reading and I will keep trying. Deal? Deal. Good talk, friend, good talk.

Anyway, Ms. Foster was reading at Loyola University and the only reason I knew about it was because my friend Stacy works there and helped arrange her appearance. I expected to get there, hide inconspicuously in the back somewhere and listen, and maybe do some writerly thing like take notes. Claire Keegan is Irish, so my notes would read something like, "1) Be foreign, 2) Develop charming Irish accent, 3) Publish award-winning novella in The New Yorker." After thinking this through, I decided not to take notes and just listen.

So not only did I not take obvious, superfluous notes that night, I wasn't able to hide myself in a crowd. When we got there, right on time, there were two other people besides Stacy and myself - a math professor and Claire Keegan. We were sitting outside of the door to the room where the reading was to be held (which I think was a chapel). Ms. Keegan was sniffling, dabbing her nose with a tissue and apologizing in advance if she had to blow her nose during the reading. She looked lovely, with her long red wavy hair and black clothes that I don't remember well except that they was black and draped around her. And I clammed up at the sight of her. I remember that too. It was the kind of clamming up that I would imagine I would do if I ever met Susan Sarandon, or Tom Hanks, only worse. Published writers who give readings are my superstars, and I have no idea what to say to them other than, "Nice to meet you. I love your writing." As far as I'm concered that's all I should have to say to them, because I should never have to drag out the conversation beyond that, ever, ever, ever, ever. And/or ever.

Because after meeting her and saying, "It's nice to meet you. I read 'Foster', I thought it was beautifully written," my friend Stacy SAT DOWN.
"Stacy," I thought, as she got comfotable and asked Claire Keegan something intelligent, "what are you doing? Why aren't we going into the room to sit and wait? Shouldn't we be going into the room to sit and wait? Please?"
But she kept sitting, and the math professor kept sitting and commenting intelligently on Stacy's intelligent observation, and Claire Keegan replied intelligently in an Irish accent which also made it worldly, and so I sat down, and in the moment of silence that followed I felt pressured to say something.
"That's awesome," I said, and they looked at me and blinked. More silence.
"Have you ever been to New Orleans before?" I asked Claire Keegan.
"Yes, actually I graduated from Loyola in 1992."
"Oh wow. Awesome."
More silence. Another professor walked up.
"There aren't too many people in there yet," she said. "Maybe we'll wait another fifteen minutes. I forgot that tonight was the talk on human trafficking."
"Oh," everyone said in unison.
"Human trafficking is a tough business to compete with," I said, and there followed ten seconds of the loudest silence I've ever heard.
So in case you've never experienced this personally, just know that the next time you're at a party and there's an uncomfortable silence, human trafficking jokes do not make good ice breakers.
For the next fifteen minutes, the the three of them talked about things like reading and traveling. So even though I've never been out of the country and the most exotic place I've ever been to is the buffet in Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, you would think that I would atleast be able to participate in half of the conversation because I'm a reader. But NO because they only talked about things I've never read. Like Chekov, which Stacy brought up.
Claire Keegan brightened. "I love Chekov. What were you reading?"
"Chekov," I thought. "I've read things by Chekov but only assigned readings in college. He's good but he doesn't blow my mind, not my God. I can not think of a single writer I like...Carson...something? it Flannery? Flattery? Cannery? J.K.....wizard?...vampire? I know how to read?"
During this time where I couldn't rememeber if I was literate or not, the conversation turned to travel.
"When I was in Belize..." someone said.
"It's Dr. Thomas's turn to go to Paris this summer..." another said.
"I came to school here to experience somewhere different outisde of Ireland," Claire Keegan told me, when I asked why she chose New Orleans to go to college.
"That's awesome," said the girl who chose to go to The University of New Orleans because she didn't think her grades were good enough to get into anywhere else and she was afraid to leave home. And then she graduated 13 years later only, it seemed, to be able to use the word "awesome" in any given situation.
After that, the professor whose turn it wasn't to go to Paris told Claire Keegan that she should get started and I was relieved to get up and go into the room that I think was a chapel. I don't know. At that point I'd lost my ability to observe or describe anything, but it had stained glass windows and portraits of priests on the walls. There were folding chairs set up, filled with students who had decided not to learn about human trafficking and who were all beautiful because they were twenty.
After a brief introduction, in which Claire Keegan's awards and other notable honors were mentioned, she began to read from "Foster." And it was beautiful because she's a beautiful writer, which is why I'm posting the link again in case you missed it. I hope it works. If it doesn't, google "Claire Keegan Foster," and you'll find it.
In the time she was reading, I was able to forget all of the doubts I had about myself as a writer and a human in general, and the fact that I'd failed to be charming. But afterwards, she closed the book and the questions came. I was glad because there was more about the story I wanted to know that I hoped someone else would ask. I didn't want to open my mouth and risk saying something with "awesome" in it. People did, but one of them also asked something unrelated to the story, and his question is the reason I wrote for two hours on a pile of dirty laundry.
"How is the writing scene different in America as opposed to Ireland?" a guy asked.
"Well," she said, and here I am paraphrasing a bit because I don't remember what she said word-for-word, "I'm not as familiar with the writing scene here. More familiar with Canada. But I can tell you that when you boil it down into groups of writers there's a lot of jealousy, but also a lot of support. I've gotten so much wonderful support from other writers and editors," she went on to list them and then said, "I will also say that I don't know if I could do what I do if I lived in America. In Ireland I have the support of The Arts Council, and there's nothing like that here. I don't think I could make a living, and I don't know how writers here do it. But I will say that I believe that any writer, no matter where they live, will be published as long as they don't give up."

Soon after that the questions stopped and Claire Keegan said, "Is it champagne time yet? It's champagne time."
We all filed out and since, not only was I striking out in the conversation department, but I don't drink, I told Stacy I'd be right back, and I stepped outside.
I thought about what she'd said about jealousy. I was jealous, if you couldn't tell from my comment about The New Yorker in the beginning of this post. And I was jealous of her. Award-winning, well-traveled, full-time writer, supported by her government who recognizes her work as a significant contribution to the world. And also, thinking about those 20-something or younger than 20-something year old faces, I'm 37 years old. I'm not old, but really, I don't have much time. And what am I doing? Writing in bursts of energy? Sending out work to be published in bursts of courage, gettting a few rejections, and stopping again, hiding under the covers and avoiding reading sometimes because it's just a reminder of what I'm not doing. Going to my day job every day and hating it because it's not writing.
I don't have time to be afraid anymore, or jealous of other people's success. No time for berating myself for not being smart enough, well-traveled enough, or charming enough.  No time to sit around resenting the fact that it's hard to be a writer in my country and make a living at it UNTIL you can make a living at it. Writers are either nobodys or superstars. Has anyone reading this even heard of Claire Keegan? Now, how many of you have heard of Stephanie Meyer?
Anyway, I bought the latest version of Writer's Market, which I haven't done in a few years. And I made a schedule for myself, which gives me 20 hours of writing a week, which includes the business of sending stuff out. If I don't approach this as a part time job, it won't happen. I'll just keep starting and stopping, starting and stopping. And I'm going to get rejected A LOT. In fact, I got a rejection in the mail the day before yesterday and I pinned it to my wall because that's what they say to do. It was a good rejection, I'll tell you about it later. You will be happy to know that part of the 20 hours includes blogging :)
So this morning, I sat on a pile of dirty laundry on my bedroom floor instead of washing it because if I focus on housework I won't write.  And it was comofrtable. I wrote for two hours. It felt good, free, and terrifying because I had moments where I looked back at what I wrote and I thought, "Who would publish this crap?" or worse, "is this something an agent or editor will make me change?" because I've had that - it's great! Change it. It doesn't matter. I love it, it's what I want to do and the 20 hours a week of my time does not include sitting on my bedroom floor frozen in fear.

When I went back into the building, after thinking about all of these things and knowing I couldn't afford to ever give up again, I looked for Stacy and found her talking to Claire Keegan. I gulped - I know that's cliche but sometimes a cliche is a cliche because it's true. I really, actually gulped. Stacy was thanking her for coming and giving her a business card. Claire Keegan smiled, thanked her in return, and shook her hand.
I said, "It was great to meet you. It was a great reading," because I'd substituted the word "awesome" for "great" and found it necessary to stutter it ever other second. I shook her hand and practically pushed Stacy out the door.
"Well!" Stacy said. "Wasn't that wonderful?"
"Yes," I said.

It was wonderful. Thinking back on my life I can't think of many other moments that were wonderful, beautiful, enlightening, awkward, and awash with insecurity all at the same time. There have been some but not many. They tend to change things though, to set me on a clear path. So here I go.

Oh, by the way, you're in this with me. Awesome.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Momentary Lapse

My Dear Lovely Readers,

I figure if I call you guys lovely things it will make up for my lack of writing. Oh dear, sweet, wonderful, literate, brilliant people that you it working? Or are you the type who will only pay attention if I call you bad things? Because I can do that if called upon, but I won't, lest this post sink to a whole new level. I can, however, direct you to a number of artciles that go out of their way to insult people. Articles titled things like, "People Who Like Bamboo Furniture Would Also Have Voted for Hitler." WHAM! Bamboo fans everywhere slapped in the face! But you won't find that here. And isn't that refreshing? To know that when I do write, it's only meant to make you smile, even if say there's a two week delay?

Which brings me to the delay. I'm switching internet providers. I don't know why I didn't just say that before. I know! I know! I'm terrible at communication! Believe me, this has come up in relationships before. Anyway, I won't get internet at my house again for another week at the lastest and we're all feeling the pain of it. Mostly because my daughters and I have become obsesssed with the series "Once Upon a Time." We're watching it on Netflix, and we haven't finished watching the first season yet. You love it too?? I KNOW, it's addcitive, right? (just go along with the conversation we're having in my head even though some of you are thinking, "People who like 'Once Upon a Time' are worse than people who like bamboo furniture.") It's so good! The storylines! The drama! The whole Brother's Grimm-ness of it all! All thwarted and delayed because I'm switching internet providers! ARRRGHH!!

Oh, and it also means I'm blogging less. I'm at my parent's house right now. They think I'm paying bills. Hee hee! Oh, and I did. Pay my bills. But (whispers) I'm also talking to you guys. I can't wait to get back to our daily talks.

And see this is where my bad communication comes in, right? Because we're not really have a conversation, you're just reading what I say. So in fairness, you may add to the commentary and when you say, "I think people who switch internet providers are worse than people who enjoy watching shows about fairy tale characters who live in Maine and drive trucks," I'll imagine that you said, "I've been waiting for someone to blog about that show! You rock! Never pay your bills again, blog to me only and forever!"

I love this relationship.

ps- Next I will update Creature Feature House
pps- I also like bamboo furniture.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Apology to the Audience

Sorry I haven't written in a while, my friends. I've been letting daily life get in the way of writing. You may take 15 seconds to scold me................................................................................ok, you can stop now. My frail artist senstivity can not possibly take more than 15 seconds of scolding or little pieces of my soul begin to fall away much like my memory of all the lyrics to "Macarena." Which is probably a good thing, but that's not my point!

The point is that I promise to write more tomorrow morning. But right now it's 7:30 and there's a 9 year old boy in my kitchen who can't go to bed until he finishes writing his spelling words. Which I means I can't go to bed until he finishes. Hence my latest exhaustion. Still, I should write while exhausted. It's a good opportunity for silliness.

ps- That nine year old boy in my kitchen is my son. Just in case, you know, I should clarify. Uh....I need sleep.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Is Anyone Else Worried About Allie Brosch?

Who is that, you ask? And then, if you haven't read the title of this post, you're asking me, "Who is who, and what kind of opening sentence is that for a blog post? Please take more writing classes or I will be forced to start reading Lady Gaga tweets again, and I just can't go back to that place in my life, I can't!"

Ok, well first, calm down, we'll get through this together. All celebrity tweets are addictive, the most addictive of course is Steve Martin's. You can't help it. Steve Martin is the world's most brilliantly funny human. His last tweet was "Is the election this year or next year?" See! See! He's being silly because the election is SO obviously this year. And it's even funnier when I explain the joke.

But that's not why I'm writing tonight. I am writing because Allie Brosch, writer of Hyperbole And a Half has not posted anything for about a year and the last thing she wrote was about depression. This woman is so funny that it should be against the laws of perpetual entertainment for her to stop writing. And drawing. I love her drawings so much that, for a while, this was my Facebook profile picture:

I know that I've never posted a picture of myself here, but you'll have to trust me that this is exactly what I look like when I get the impulse to clean. My cleaning cycle happens in mad bursts where I run around with a broom, shaking my stick arms, with my googly eyes popping out. Allie might not have realized that she was drawing me, I'm sure that she thinks she was drawing herself, but I recognized it and I've kept up with her blog ever since to see how I'm doing.

I haven't had any update lately though. Maybe I should do some internet stalking - I mean, google research. (15 minutes later) Ok, I found her. Sorta. She answered a question on and the question was, "Does anybody know what's happening with Allie Brosch?" And she has, indeed, been suffering from depression, but that update was from six months ago. I've wondered from time to time when I read her stuff if she suffered from depression and insecurity. The first thing I'd think was, "How could she possibly feel bad about herself? She's got over 50,000 followers. How could she think she sucks when she's so talented and makes so many people laugh?" But I know that shameful feeling, the feeling of disliking yourself not because you are a bad person but just because you ARE, and it's so hard to shake. Nothing on the outside can cure it, it's all inside stuff and it can shade everything in your life if left untreated.

I just finished reading Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott, and one of my favorite things that she about success as a writer was this, "the realtionship between getting published and mental health was summed up in one line of the movie Cool Runnings which is about the first Jamaican bobsled team. The coach is a four-hundred pound man who had won a gold metal  in Olympc bobsledding twenty years before but has been a complete loser ever since. The men on his team are desperate to win an Olympic medal, just as half the people in my [writing] classes are desperate to get published. But the coach says, 'If you're not enough before the gold metal, you won't be enough with it.' You may want to tape this to the wall near your desk.'"

I forget that just because a person is successful doesn't mean that they don't get insecure about themselves or their work, just like I do. I have 27 followers so if I don't write for a while, that means about a handful of poeple will be disappointed, whereas, the suffering of Allie Brosch has affected thousands of people, and caused me to internet stalk her to make she she's alright which I never NEVER do, unless I'm really worried about someone or unless they said that they were going to call me and they didn't or when it's Steve Martin and he's Tweeted something about going shoe shopping and I suspect that it might be the Payless near my house, then MAYBE I might do some web snooping but other than that I'm a typically well-adjusted non-obsessed person.

Hmm, reading back over this I don't sound all that considered about her as a person, just as someone's whose writing makes me laugh. It's ok, Allie! Take all the time you need to heal yourself! What you're dealing with is something that's not you're fault and is really REALLY hard to fight but you can do it! I'm ok, I've got backup, I can reread my Bloom County collection, and I can follow Ellen Degeneres for good measure...

But wait...Bloom County...That cartoonist hasn't come out with anything in years. Is anyone else worried about Berke Breathed?

ps- I also just found this which I thought was a good, both as an update on Allie Brosch and about depression.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Vigilante Council on Aging

Today, my dears, is my birthday. And yesterday, on the last day of being 36, my daughter said, "Mommy! You're 38 now!"
"No, no, no. Don't go adding years on me. I'm almost 37," I told her, "almost" meaning "six hours away from."
"Oh. Well, I guess you just look older."
"I mean - no- you act older. Like, more mature."
I put my hand on her shoulder. "You can't dig yourself out of this one, dear."
"No, seriously, you're like-"
"Let it go. Get me chocolate."
"Okey dokey."

Today won't be too much different from any other day. My ex picked up the kids this morning and with my free time I plan to write, cook, go to a meeting, and get ready for work tomorrow. My dad is cooking brunch for me, which is a little different, but I gotta say I don't feel all that different.  Maybe there just not too much difference between 36 and 37. Except according to Emma ON MY FACE.

ACK! What if she didn't mean my face? What if there are grays I don't see? What if I've got saggy bits? What if I look like one of the Roller Derby cheerleaders I saw last night with missing teeth and wrinkly arm fat that droops like the face of an old French bulldog? No! I'm too young! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

"Calm down," the more mature part of me says. "Do you have missing teeth?"
"Do you have wrinkly arm fat?"
"No. But I've got arm fat."
"Every woman except those who starve themselves for professional reasons has arm fat."
(sob! sniff!) "Really?"
"Yes, Genevieve. You're still attractive."
"For a 37 year old."
"....I hate you."
"I'm your inner truth. I get that a lot."

And according to my inner truth, those thing will eventually happen to my body. My ultimate plan is....wait. This needs to be announced with proper flourish

**~Gen's Super Awesome Plans For Aging!~**

My plan is, that as my body begins to fall away, I will shine more brightly inside. Like this:

In order for this to happen, I must stick to a strict diet of non-self hatred and hugging pink things. This may sound like a cruel tutelage, but it's a means to a bright, shiny soulful existence, which is ultimately what I want out of life.

While my body is still energetic and my happy appendages have not surrendered to gravity I will leap and dance about as much as possible.

So I'll give you a song that I can't possibly sit down to whenever it comes on. It's Busted by The Black Keys. At precisely 1 minute and 40 seconds, I am compelled to get up and dance like a Blues Brother. Dance with me, my friends!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This is What a Second Line is

The other day my buddy Tom asked me what a Second Line is and I froze in horror because if any of my out-of-state friends ask me this question it means that I have not done my job as a New Orleanian. And since I am not just a New Orleans woman but also a nerd I will first give you the wikipedia definition:
 The "main line" or "first line" is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with the parading permit as well as the brass band. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the "second line." The second line's style of traditional dance, in which participants walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called "second lining." It has been called "the quintessential New Orleans art form — a jazz funeral without a body."[1] Another significant difference from so called "jazz funerals" is second line parades usually lack the slow hymns and dirges played at funerals (although this is not a hard rule; some organizations may have the band play something solemn towards the start of the parade in memory of members deceased since their last parade).

NOTE! You absolutely do not need a parading permit to second line. In fact, if you can get your hands on a brass band right now, you can dance behind them in your living room with a parasol and it's completely legal. And even if it is illegal where you live, a New Orleanian would never arrest you. We would just grab a handkerchief, wave it in the air, follow you around your house, holler things, and drink all of your alcohol. Topless.

When my family Second Lines at weddings we play this song But it doesn't have to be that song. The last wedding I went to for my cousin's daughter, since there were no handkerchief or umbrellas, we grabbed napkins and paraded behind the bride and groom and none of us even stopped to get a permit first. I have just looked online for footage of something like this, but all I can find are clips of brides and grooms Second Lining through the French Quarter and you can only really hear police sirens.

A better example is You Better Second Line which is a clip from a Jazz Funeral for singer Juanita Brooks.  The beginning is slow but theatrical, I think, with the dramatic flourishes of the women in the beginning. After they walk from the grave (at precisely minute 4:40) things really pep up. Feel free to dance around your computer when it plays, and if you do, not only will you not be fined for not having a permit, but you will technically be Second Lining at a Jazz Funeral. In fact, I dare you to hear that whistle blast at minute 4:40 and NOT (at the very least) dance in your seat.

So those are the basics. If anyone has further questions about Second Line feel free to post questions in the commentary. New Orleanians are standing by. Well, they're not really STANDING. They're dancing, and drinking wine from plastic cups at 6:00 in the morning. Hey! You over there! Focus! These people have questions! And for heaven's sake, put your shirt back on!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Piano Needs Meds

At the hospital where I work there's an atrium with a skylight, and that's where the piano sits, right by the coffee shop, in the sunlight. It's mostly volunteers who play it, older gray haired men and women who come with worn books of sheet music. But sometimes it's a short black guy in an Environmental Services uniform, who I guess is on break, and he sits at that piano with no music to follow and he tears that shit up. It's always a lively jazzy song that I've never heard before.

This is in sharp contrast to the people who usually play, and I'm not trying to snub them, I mean they are there to perform and add music to what is usually a frustrating day at a place where no one wants to be. But really, when people are passing by on their way to chemo treatment, is it necessary to play the theme from "Love Story?" You know, that movie where the woman dies of cancer at the end? Or imagine that you're 75 years old and your son has brought you to have blood drawn for the 50th time that week for some test that will conclude that you're old and you're dying, and the piano pipes up with "Sunrise, Sunset?"

Or worse, and I swear this is the worst, "Send in the Clowns." I don't care what visit I'm there for, I mean, it could be a well-visit, where by definition I am there for my annual confirmation that I am doing well, and if I walk past someone playing "Send in The Clowns" I guarantee that I will be diagnosed with heart failure. They don't even play it well, and for some reason that makes it EVEN WORSE. They miss notes and the song hobbles along, as if its suffering from clinical depression.

What is not as bad but spooky, is when no one is there, and the piano plays by itself. The keys go up and down as if someone's working them, but no one's there and all of us walk past this situation as if it's normal. I want to stop, point, and say, "Is this freaking anyone else out? Can we unplug this?" Maybe I'm crazy, but I always get the impression that the piano is lonely and it's pretending someone's there. "I'm ok, I just have to stay focused," it tells itself. "I'll play 'If I Die Young' until Margaret gets back."

The piano needs Prozac. And since we can't stuff pills under its lid the best solution I can come up with is to hire the guy from Environmental Services full time. Something tells me that even his jazzy songs about death won't be depressing. He can play by the coffee shop, bathed in sunlight, and people who are there for hip replacements will start to Second Line. And I will grab a white napkin, wave it over my head and join them. Maybe I could be hired to do it full time! Ok, I need to find this guy and get our plan going. We'll form a duo , call ourselves "Send in the Clowns My Ass," and we'll be a smashing success.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Lawful Addiction Could Perk up My Heinous Depression

I feel hung over but I haven't had a drink in two and a half years. If I could explain why I would. I guess there are things contributing to it, like worries and things like that, but to actually walk around feeling dizzy and numb when I haven't done anything fun to earn that feeling - well that's just bullshit.  I just feel numb all over, sad and directionless. Maybe it's depression.  Let's see, I'll ask.

"Hey, Gen?"
"Yeah, Gen?"
"Are you depressed?"
"Ok, thanks."
"No problem. Talk to you later."

Well, fuck. Now what am I supposed to do? Take a walk? Read inspirational things about love and the world? Lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for the next two months? None of those things are appealing. Blog? Well, I don't really feel like it, but I've missed a few days so here it goes...

The other night I went to see the movie "Lawless." I recommend this movie for the following reasons 1) Gary Oldman is it, 2) the guys who made the movie also wrote/arranged and performed the music on the soundtrack themselves, 3) Guy Pearce is in it, 4) Mennonites are in it, and 5) it's about hillbilly gangsters in the 30's and you can't go wrong with that kind of subject matter. Unfortunately, I wasn't expecting there to be torture so I spent a good bit of the movie hiding behind my hands and telling my friends Lucy and Jamaal to let me know when they finished tar and feathering the bootlegger. I expected there to be shooting but DAMN. I've reached my movie-violence quota for the next six months.

There, I've blogged about something, do I feel better? I don't know, I'll ask myself.

"Gen? Do you feel better?"
"You wanna know if I feel better after you talked about pouring hot tar on people?"
"Hmm. Ok, I'll try again."

So there's a bunny in my living room. She's so cute and pettable! She's white with light brown spots and she's way cuter than the psycho-apocalyptic bunny in "Donnie Darko."

"How's that?" I ask myself. "You have a cute bunny, see. Doesn't that make you feel good?"
"....Why, exactly, did you feel the need to throw in the image of Frank the apocalyptic rabbit in Donnie Darko?"
"I don't know, it just popped in my head."
"Look, I appreciate you trying but you're me and I'm depressed, which means WE'RE depressed, which means it's not likely that you'll be able to say anything that doesn't have some kind of dark and gloomy slant to it."
"Uh...Jake Gyllenhaal is in that movie. He's super cute."
"Sure. Bring up my sexual confusion, THAT doesn't cause me any grief. Because just when I'm think I'm 100% gay, a super cute guy comes along."
"And vice versa. I start to think I really am straight and then a super cute chick walks by-"
"Oh! You're just being impossible right now."
 "That's right. Stop trying so hard, dear. I don't even know why I'm going off on that. I'm comfortable lately with being bisexual. I'm just going to gripe about anything you bring up."
"Hey look...the bunny hopped by your feet."
[Looks down at the rabbit licking my shoe] "She is cute."
"And she loves you."
"She loves my shoe."
"STOP it."
"Ok. She loves me. A cute little forest creature loves me and I'm happy about it. Feel better?"
"Yes. Yes, that does make me feel better."
"Good. Now go lay down on the couch for two months like we talked about."
"We never agreed on that."
"Oooooooh," the me who's determined to stay depressed whines. "But I'm tired!"
"Get a cup of coffee. You have an addiction to keep up, you know."
"Hmm. I do like my legal addictions."
"That's the spirit!"
"Before I go, I should leave my readers with something like I usually do. A song or something."

So we've agreed to leave you with White Light White Heat It's one of the songs from the Lawless soundtrack, and a Velvet Underground cover.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I sit outside by the fountain on my lunch breaks, the one out in front of the hospital that's big enough to swim in. Not dive in, and ok maybe not even accomplish a decent dog-paddle, but my point is that it's big and I'm always tempted to wade in it, and maybe lay on my back and float while kids throw pennies in. It's made of rectangular cement blocks, all different sizes. From the other side of the street it looks like a city in Star Wars, with a waterfall spilling from the long rectangle at the back.

But it hasn't been running since the hurricane hit. Usually the water is clear white and sparkles in the sun, which is why I'm always tempted to jump in, but it's been green since I got back last Friday. It amazes, depresses and impresses me that in two days a gushing fount can become a stagnant puddle of mildew.  I was bummed when I first saw the fountain that way. I think it was the stillness of it, more than the mildew,that bothered me. I sit in a windowless, gray office that my coworkers and I refer to as a cave within a cave. To get to my work space you have to go through one colorless, windowless office and into the next. I need to be outside on my breaks with the sunshine and the water, and when I watch it run it reminds me that I'm alive, that something inside of me is flowing and colorful.

It's almost a week since I got back to work and it still hasn't been cleaned. I still sit by it though. Because it's beginning to change shape. Dragon flies hover over the surface, and tadpoles are squiggling underneath. In one week, it's become a whole other world - uninhabitable for me and but very much alive. I watched the tadpoles swimming today, the way I wish I could do in the fountain without being arrested or committed, and I wondered if they knew why they were there. If they knew that they were born in that spot because a hurricane had come and made it possible.

I heard a story once on Radio Lab about how when a whale dies it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and for the next several decades its decaying body becomes a vibrant world. First the big beasts, like sharks and snow crabs and things eat away at it, phase two is the enrichment opportunist phase where the whale's soft tissue left over from the scavengers is eaten up by smaller things. Phase three is the sulphophilic stage where sulphur mussels, clams and some microscoptic things live off of the nutrients in the bones. The show said that one whale can live 50-75 years, and in its afterlife it can support a community of organisms for another 50-75 years. A whale dying and falling to the bottom of the ocean is called a Whale Fall. I love that. When I die,  unless I die in the water, I won't float gracefully. It will have to be called "Woman Fall Over" or "Woman Trip in Front of Tractor." Wait, that's a headline. But you see what I mean.

What I mean is, life never really stops moving. It just changes shape when it has to.

After I got off of work, I got into my car and immediately began to change shape - the dress shoes and the cardigan come off, the earrings came out, and the "yes ma'am" tone in my voice was replaced by an imitation of Joan Jett singing "Mama Weer All Crazee Now."  I thought about the dragonflies and the tadpoles and hoped they'd find another place before the hospital got around to scrubbing the fountain. I wondered if they knew, just by instinct, that there's always another place to go.

ps - you can geek out on Radio Lab here:  It's everything that a show about things like decaying whales should be.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Water Door Magician

Parker Crush is 16 and she's amazingly strong. She can lift a safe, a solid steel one, that would usually take her aunt, two other locksmiths, and old George to hoist and shuffle on unsteady feet across the locksmith shop, and she can heft it over her head. But to look at her you wouldn't know that she's that strong, in fact, she's kind of scrawny.

She's my teenage, lesbian, super locksmith girl in the book I'm writing called The Water Door Magician, a book which just a month ago didn't have a title. Why did I make her gay? Because I wanted to write something PG and fun for the young adult GLTB crowd. It can't all be adult, R-rated and/or serious, can it? I want this girl to be sure of herself and confident. A good person, but of course she's got to have flaws or she won't be interesting. She's got long reddish-blondish hair, and green eyes. And she carries a leather pouch with lockpick tools inside and one day she breaks into the school disciplinarian's office, but when she opens the door she finds a world called Torwin, and they need her there. Until she finds this place, she's just a punk picking locks and playing pranks on people. The reason she picked that lock is because she heard cries for help on the other side. She had no idea they were coming from another world.

It's fun to write, but it's plot driven and I keep wanting to wander off on small details that don't carry the plot. Like the way Parker's mother Marnie twirls her hair at the kitchen table like she's a little girl deep in thought and how she often reminds Parker of a fidgety little girl, twirling her hair and absent-mindedly eating the French fries off of Parker's plate. 

That's all I got tonight. It's almost midnight and I need to go to bed. Besides, Parker needs another couple of paragraphs before I can let that kid rest, and she's a growing girl who needs her sleep.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kenny's Ghost

Well, it's a few days later, but it feels like longer. The kids and I are safe and back at home, but I know that a lot of other people aren't so lucky, like the entire city of Laplace and Plaquemines Parish. Hope everybody's ok, though displaced.

So Monday night I packed my three kids, the dog (Lily), the rabbit (Ginger), the hamster (Fluffy McFluffersons - Fluffy for short), and the hermit crab (Super Dude) into my little Ford Focus (Madame Blueberry) and headed off in a undisclosed eastern direction to stay with my friends who I will call Hailey and Sven. I was going to call them Madame Blueberry and Super Dude, but those names are already taken. Their house got some tropical storm force winds and a lot of rain, but miraculously never lost power AND! despite the rain we were able to swim and I discovered a love for swimming in the rain. This is the kind of thing that you don't know you like until you do it, kind of like eating escargot. You think "Would I like snails?" and you realize that you can't say for sure until you try. Well, maybe that's just me. There are some who I am sure would like at a plate of snails, or even just think about it and they know, they just feel deep in the pit of their nausea, that they would not like it. I looked at rain pelting on the surface of the pool and thought, "This is pretty. I want to be with the pretty, and I don't care if it's cold."

Of course, I had to do this on my lunch break because I worked remotely from my computer while I was away. Luckily I have a job where I can do that. Um, those of you who were flooded out, can't work and don't have electricity right now, please don't hate me for working in the comfort of an air-conditioned undisclosed eastern location with a pool...You don't like me anyway? Then stop reading my blog, silly!

I got back into town on Thursday and was told to report to the Northshore hospital campus instead of my regular office. So after driving back from Hailey and Sven's I dropped off the kids and the beasts at my aunt's and reported to work in my shorts, T-shirt and sneakers with no socks. The nurse who I reported to didn't seem to care that I was dressed this way or that I smelled like a combination of McDonald's, dog, and sweat.  She gave me an ID bracelet and led me to a set of elevators.
"Now, let's see," she said, after hitting the "up" button, "Which one is Kenny in?"
The elevator door on the left slid open. She shrugged.
"Oh well, I think it's this one, but he's nice." We stepped in and before I could ask she told me, "Kenny's our ghost. They call him Kenneth, but I call him Kenny. Think he died here. Anyway, sometimes he messes with us, but he's alright."
"He only lives in the elevator?"
"Yep." She looked over at me. "I'm serious. You believe all that?"
"Uh, sure. Sometimes."
"I thought it was all bull before. But I believe it now."
"Since Kenny?"
I wondered if this was some sort of initiation thing. Like if she was going to hit the emergency button and play with me. But she didn't seem to be messing around. She was too self-conscience about whether or not I thought she was crazy.
So to be polite I looked around the elevator and said, "Hi Kenny."
Then we hit the third floor and either Kenny's ghost, or the mechanics of the elevator, the inner workings of which I don't understand any more than the afterlife, opened the doors and let us out.
Luckily I didn't have to report there the next day.

So today is my first real day off since I've been home. And now! To clean the debris around my house! And fumigate Madame Blueberry. She still smells like road trip. Like a road trip with sweaty, nervous tall people and their animals. I may have to clean it with fire.

Here is the best 80's song ever for those of you who've spent the whole week living out of your Cars

Monday, August 27, 2012

Isaac's Googly Eye

It was only a couple of days ago that they were saying Tropical Storm Isaac was a disorganized a storm with no well-developed eye. But now it seems to have gotten its shit together, and it's heading straight for us. In these situations I tend to panic. And so...AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Run for the car! Hide the money and the liquor, get the guns! Oh wait, I'm confusing hurricane evacuations with looting my grandparent's house. All I have to do today is pack for my friend Hailey's, who lives to the east of here in an undisclosed location. It's so undisclosed, in fact, that I've been instructed to drive there blindfolded, which is slightly less dangerous than texting while driving.

My point to all of this, as far as Payphone is concerned, is that I might not be able to write for a few days. The kids have off of school, and I need to go into work this morning and find out what in the hell's angels is going on. Until a month ago, I worked in the Safety and Security department, and it was our job to arrange hurricane prep plans for the hospital. But in the two and a half years I was there, we never had a storm. So now I don't know what exactly my role is. I think it's to go into the office, grab my laptop and run. I am ok with this.

Isaac is such an unsentimental bastard that it plans to make landfall on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Maybe this is why I've gone physically numb from time to time in the last 24 hours. Hurricane evacuations were fun when I was a kid. My family would drive up to my uncle's house in Shreveport and my sisters and I would play with our cousins and get a few days off of school. Like a spontaneous vacation. Things were always in one piece when we got back. Now, even though things will most likely be fine, there's this nagging fear that they might not be. Or that we won't be able to come home for weeks, and when we do, things will be different. If I may make my first understatement for the day, it's a bitch to think about.

Stay safe, everyone. Load up on the necessities and all of the things they tell you to do, and remember, even though you might regularly avoid that one neighbour who has an insane arsenal, rants about the inevitability of America's collapse to the point where everyone feels a little uncomfortable at parties, and he maintains a fallout shelter in his backyard from the 50's, you might wanna buy him a beer. Maybe he's not so bad afterall.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I haven't updated Creature Feature House in a while. I think I'll start flip-flopping, update Payphone one day and Creature the next. What would a Payphone Creature look like, I wonder? I just googled images of it, but only found pictures of payphones, stills from Maroon 5's song "Payphone," and a picture of a guy on the phone that says, "Jay Zone's Guide to Payphone Pimpin'." Hmm. These things are not what I picture. I imagine a short, purple monster with an overbite, dropping dimes into the slot to make a call to his lawyer.

"Bill?" he grumbles. "It's Gorg. Any update on the libel suit against that blogger who keeps lumping Muppets and orgies in her posts? The Henson family wants to get back Elmo style...that's right, I know...but my people have been slandered...well, it may seem extreme but they're quite upset...uh huh, uh crayons for two weeks. That's the deal...well, we are monsters. Thanks, Bill. Best to the wife and kids."

Anyway, my trouble with Creature Feature House, well with both blogs really, is that I don't have a feel for their identity yet. Like, if I had to sum up Payphone in a word it would be..."everywhere." I let myself do anything with it, it's my playground. For Creature it would be "family." Ah, there's the trouble. There's a nudge inside of me that says if I'm going to write about me, the kids, and the pets then I should make it family appropriate, like people of all ages can read it, family appropriate. Well, people of all ages CAN read it. There's just no guarantee that an extreme conservative might not kill me. Or pray for me. Oh well. That nudge inside of me has never steered me in the right direction. It's a very fearful nudgling.

Speaking of kids, it's 7:30 and they're already awake. On a Saturday morning. What the hell? So in about a half an hour the craziness of the day will begin, which I'm sure will give me more than enough material for tomorrow's Creature Feature post. It will begin with Intervals, an exercise that my doctor recommended on my last well-visit. It's that routine where you do two minutes of light exercise, then two minutes full-tilt, then two minutes slow, etc, for 20 minutes total. At first I thought, "That's only ten minutes of aerobics, how does that help?" But HOLY SHIT. I am sweaty and out of breath by the end of it, and my whole body aches the next day. For instance, typing is the only move I can make right now that doesn't make me wince.

So your blogess should be looking nice and svelt in the weeks to come. Or as my dear friend and diet buddy, who I will call Hailey, recently said, "we're gonna be so smokin' hot it's going to be illegal to be in the same room together." Lest we give Gorg another shot at calling his lawyer.

"Bill? It's me again. I just came out of Denny's and there are two women in there who are so hot, my Moons Over My Hammy exploded...Yes...uh huh...I see...well, yes, it has been a long time since I've had a date, but I don't see...well, the tall one wasn't wearing a wedding ring, but how would I take her out to dinner if she's so attractive that the waiters melt?"

Hmm, this might be a problem. I don't want to intimidate potential Payphone Creature dates. Maybe I should have ice cream for breakfast. I think it's the only right thing to do.

And this is an aside, but I want to share this with you because this woman is so hilarious it's illegal and Gorg is on his way to call Bill right now. It's The Blogess
ps- Yay, I've learned how to link web addresses to words!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Catapulting Penguins as Promised

Remember the other day when I was wondering whether or not the mention of sex and erotica would increase my blog traffic?  Well, I've gotten two more followers in the last two days. So I can only conclude that this blog has more magnetic sex appeal than Katy Perry wearing magnetic underwear. Thank you for joining us, new vigilantes, and I vow to maintain this page's crazily attractive appeal.  And so, as promised to my commentators, I give to you, Frank Sinatra barbeque themed catapulting Muppet penguin orgy madness....
dsfhskdhlojgpeuu002808jef,asbbkdhwhrwejwteergegbeeb(new york, new york) padoo3453460789581#$ %$^%^*^#@$@#$@(quack)%$#%WFSDFYT^HFQWERFGNKENMbnoert">?Y::::!!!!!!!!!!

My loyalty knows no bounds!

So I have to I just whoring myself? Mentioning sex, phonetically spelling out orgy goings-on, and name-dropping Fifty Shades of Gray, which I've never read, but am piggy-backing on the popularity of for my own gain? Well. Yes. And I'm oddly comfortable with it. A girl's got to get ahead somehow, and it's not going to be by phonetically spelling the mood of my meetings at work which would look like this:
zzzzzzzzzzz(Genevieve, please wake up, I'm talking to you)zzzzzzzzz(snort)?????????

or a long line at Starbucks:

or the Annual Gathering of Letter "Y" Devotees:

No, these things will never work. In fact, I think I just lost three followers. WAIT! What if I take my shirt off? There. Done...What? How did you know I'm wearing a coat under that shirt and am actually now less naked than before? Ok, I'm no good at this whoring thing, but...what do you mean you've heard different? From who?..Oh...Well, the penguins weren't my idea, the catapult just happened to be in the room. Look, my point is if you stick around, I promise you'll always have something to read. Deal? Sweet. And now, as a poetry fanatic, I give you ee cummings. It's not his absolute best, but just so you know I'm not only a smutty blogger, but I have a heart, here 'tis:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
- e. e. cummings ~

I Wanna Wear

I wanna wear suspenders and a tie. A fedora maybe and a vest for no reason. My short hair should be shorter. I'm becoming the Tomboy I used to be, before I had thoughts like, "I need to look like a girl." I didn't just have those thoughts. They screamed at me, terrified, at the age of ten. "Look like a girl NOW," "Grow your hair NOW or you'll never get a boyfriend." "Don't wear that T-shirt with Marylin Monroe on it, they think you're a dyke." "Don't walk like that," "Don't say that, he'll think you're trying to be smart," "Real girls don't run fast," "Real girls don't think about girls." "Real girls don't cry about girls."

I don't care if no man ever finds me attractive again, or a woman for that matter, not if I have to change who I am again.  And I don't care if my mother gives me that confused and disappointed look if I don't wear makeup to weddings or Christmas. Maybe I'll wear eyeliner and a suit. But no more dresses, no more Look Like a Girl Now skirts, blouses, hair, goopy face base, Look Like a Real Girl earrings, exhaustive shoe-to-outfit coordinations, or walking into a room and STILL wondering after all of these years, "I wonder if they know I'm a girl."  And needing them to know.

I'm girl enough.  When I dress like this now, like I really am in my black T-shirts and jeans shorts, sneakers, short-short hair, and no make up, I feel just like this

ps- Like the song, I mean. Not Florence, who's wearing a skirt that's cute on her, but I wouldn't be caught dead in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sex Affects Page Views?

I was looking at my post lists and noticed that I had twice as many page views when I mentioned Fifty Shades of Gray. This leads me to the following possibilities:
1) The color gray is popular
2) Sex is popular
3) Fifty Shades of Gray is popular
4) references to erotica generate more page hits than references to The Muppets
All of these things are possible. And right now I'm all about shameless promotion. So for today's post, I will give you an orgy. Here it is:

ansfklanDSFL,ERW !!@^#$%^$GWgdgvazxmKMakw:":POPO*l%^#%@#bbbbasdarqwqwq(swanky music)e+++++===--342395($nnm,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone take a minute to throw some cold water on your face, I know that was intense. And hey! My page views have sky rocketed! I can now theorize that it could be because:
1) exclamation points are popular
2) blog orgies are all the rage

Either way I'm golden.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Writer Out of Coffee - Shaves Head, Others

I am drinking the last cup of coffee in the house. This is including the ice coffee that I keep in the refrigerator for those days when it's so hot, if I were to sip a freshly brewed cup, my face would melt. My face doesn't look good melty, but I can't go without coffee. It's the last addiction standing now that I have forsaken all others...that sounds almost religious. It is. Because goddamn it, if I don't have coffee there will be hell to pay.

So why don't I just run to the store and get some? Because it would be much easier for you guys to just send espresso shots in the mail. This is beats the rubber chicken suggestion of from the other day by a long shot! Ok, ok, ok...I'm getting excited now. This is what you do, each of you send one coffee bean and I shall combine those beans to make one mighty elixir! A gumbo of caffeine! Only I don't have a grinder, so I'll have to chew them.

I haven't brought myself to get a new grinder since my old one died. It was one I'd grown up with, a Braun, and I woke up every morning from 8-12th grade to its roar in the kitchen. When my parents moved out and I bought the house, Braun stayed. It was part of the deal, like the walls and the plumbing - Braun wasn't going anywhere. And it continued to serve me well until a couple of years ago when it had a stroke and froze up. It was 22 years old by then, which is 87 in grinder years. I tried to fix it, but taking it to the vet probably wasn't a good idea.
"So," I said, petting its dispense cap as it lay on the examination table. "Is there anything you can do for him?"
The vet paused and then said, gravely, "No."
I began to weep. "I knew it, I guess I just didn't want to think it was true."
"Ma'am," he said. "It's a coffee grinder."
More crying. "I know."
"It's not alive."
I stood agape. "Well, not anymore it's not! Come on, Braun, we're going home."
I grabbed his plug and led him out of Captain Obvious's office. Honestly. No bedside manner.

Anyway, I get oddly attached to these things. And honestly, not to dishonour Braun's memory but I haven't avoided getting a new grinder out of loyalty but because I've gotten used to spooning grinds into the filter. Coffee brewing, to me, is all about ritual. Change one aspect of it, and it throws off my whole day.

So what am I going to do about tomorrow morning? I'm going to have to go to the store tonight. I will go to Walmart, pass by the kitchen appliances and think about Braun. Do they even make grinders that run for  22 years anymore? Was Braun made out of a jet engine?

OOH - ok, new idea. Just send me engine parts and I will build my own grinder. It'll have a propeller as a blade, chrome fixtures, white wall tires, and, instead of a plug, an ignition. This is going to be the hotrod of grinders. I shall call her Fuzzy Dice, and she's gonna run until my grandchildren are 87.

And in the spirit of throwing pieces and parts together, I offer you this:

Johnny Cash's "One Piece at a Time." You might have an aversion to country music, but just listen to it and when he mentions something about a car, just substitute it with "coffee grinder."