Paper Wake


We are on the last page of the year. I was disappointed in my Word Origins Calendar (too many computer terms!) and I won’t be getting another. I’m switching to a Far Side or Golf Tips desk calendar.

The last word of 2010 was “brandy” (the drink – not the girls name popular in the late 70s).  It means burned wine only palatable to old ladies and the English ripped the term off from the Dutch brandewijn. Creative.

I hope you all set your drinks (or towns) on fire on this night of celebration.  Happy New Year!

How Many…

…over-heard conversations have you ever wished you were a part of?

I can’t think of many. Right now I can’t think of one conversation I’ve heard other people having that made me think, “If only I were friends with them!”

Most of the convos that have been shoved in my ears by cell-phone-liberated-strangers-in-close-proximity covered small topics like food or somebody coming over or somebody that has just been over. Business guys always talk about a previous meeting or their next meeting and it’s sooooooo boring. I heard one suit say to another whip-smart business guy “Ya ever hear of the telephone game? We played it as a kid. A story gets told a few times and come out all jarbled at the end.” Pause. “Well anyway that is what I feel like is going on between those two. Bad communication…. what’s that? Sorry – the signal here is bad…”

The time when you are most likely to hear the absolute, undisputable most boring kind of conversation to exit human lips is right after a plane has landed and passengers can use their cell phones while the craft is taxing in. For example: “Hi.” Pause “We’re in.” Pause. “Oh it was fine, we had to wait three minutes to board but what do ya expect from Delta, they should be called Dumtla.” Or (and these kind are always in an unnatural low/private voice), “Hi.” Pause. “Just wanted to let you know we made it.” Pause. “Oh really? How did it turn out?” Pause “No, it was the lobster bisque he was worried about.” Pause. “yeah.” Pause. “No.” Pause. “Just waiting to deplane.” Pause. “No. No one is moving yet.” Pause. “I think someone is moving.” Pause. “Yep someone is moving. I am going to grab my bag.” Pause. “Hold on. I am going to grab my bag.” Pause. “Yep. I got my bag.” Pause. “What did you and dad do for lunch?”

In 2011 there should be a new feature that automatically turns a cell phone off unless there are worthwhile gossip, lifesaving information, sports betting, puns or adventure plans being exchanged.



I've been buried in Christmas. I'm at the Detroit airport suffering from ticketing stress and from being in the security line behind the one person in the entire facility that is flying for the first time in her seventy-three years. When I recover I will post pictures of Christmas wonder.

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Pulse Points of the Season

I love the holidays for many reasons but in particular because my favorite short film genre pops up around this time of year. I’m talking about the perfume commercial – the arty attempt at smell-o-vision!  Look at these pouty people!

What do you think this smells like?
What are they saying? How much does that giant bottle cost?


Hey Middle School:


Chanel No 5:

I loved the 80s

Shalimar has a special place in my heart because my coworker would always ask me if I was wearing “Shalimar” – looks like people that wear Shalimar don’t need to wear anything else.

So classy


That’s The Spirit!

My rockin’ good time with the grannies in Clarksdale yesterday resulted in what feels like some kind of head cold or allergic reaction to cigarette smoke (I can’t tolerate cigarette smoke unless I am smoking) and BBQ.

Of course when you start to feel something come on and you make the mistake of telling people about it, you are going to hear from the echinacea and emergen-C and probiotic advocates and also the smart asses that tell you to avoid dairy. I’ve made it clear several times on this very blog that I have no tolerance for judgmental flimflam disguised as hippy goodwill. Give it up people, we have no control over the common cold OR those two dudes smoking next to my holiday party at the Ground Zero Blues Club.

Tonight I am using MY favorite remedy – the Hot Toddy and napping –the napping is performed intermittently between ESPN 30 for 30s and AMC’s back to back White Christmas’s and texting my one friend unsolicited support for her woes and my other friend unsolicited name suggestions for her unborn child. I cannot stop my important work just because I don’t feel 100%.

This entry says the Hot Toddy is NOT recommended for the common cold because it causes dehydration:

Hot toddy is a name given to a mixed drink, usually including alcohol, that is served hot. Hot toddies are traditionally drunk before going to bed, or in wet and/or cold weather. They were believed to help cure the cold and flu, but the American Lung Association now recommends avoiding treating the common cold with alcoholic beverages as they cause dehydration.[1]

Now tell me why you would eliminate a perfectly good cold remedy just because it causes supposed dehydration when a majority of the over the counter cold medicines do just that? 

     (FYI:January 11th is National Hot Toddy Day)


Good Night


Corrective Measures

B told me that there is no MC in a circus, only a Ringmaster. I think maybe he’s been secretly reading a little too much Tolkien.

The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year. Last night I dreamt that someone stole my car. It was a burgundy version of my car but I was still very upset about it and it set a suspicious tone to my entire day. Dreams can do that to you.

Normally I would be lecturing on Tuesday nights. But now that classes are over I have to adjust to home time. So I read an article about AA in Harpers, removed my nail polish, and ate a pork chop. Now I am going through photos of our drive through Starry Nights (see below).

In day job news, my higher up informed me that the even higher ups have the opinion that people should not trouble them for a raise because we should just be happy to have a job in these hard times. Considering the company I work for has higher ups from the Kennedy family I think they should just be happy they were born and not pass judgment or withhold funds from the rest of us. My point is I didn’t say I wasn’t happy, I just have expensive habits.

Tomorrow I am going to happily take 36 senior citizen volunteers out to a fine holiday lunch in Clarksdale, MS.   Maybe when I get home I will put some polish back on these bare nails.




The MC Wears Jeans : I Went to the Circus


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The circus now is exactly like a pimped out MySpace profile: a bunch of beasts and glitter and animated GIFs trying to decorate a half-dead institution.

Now, here are the things I loved: the peeps I went with, the snow-cone cups in the shape of tigers and elephants, the magic parts (oh no! the girl disappeared! oh look a parrot!), the girls that hung from hoops braided into their hair, the poodles that jumped through hoops, the house cats that walked the tight-ropes, and the acrobat troop that used those see-saw things to propel each other to form human towers two-stories high.

Here are some things I’d like to talk to the Ringling Bros about: the Black-Eyed-Peas soundtrack, the clown, the overweight and wobbly wire walker, the use of iPods in one of the acts, the Master of Ceremonies’ bedazzled, untied Doc Martins and sequined jeans, the elephant and the lions (they all looked like they needed a nap – although seeing an elephant up close is always kind of cool), and the lack of having someone being shot out of a cannon.

Before the show, we noticed a particularly dazzling man-in-cannon toy amongst all of the circus merch but when we went out to admire the toy at intermission – it was gone! It made me wonder if it was due to the last minute cancellation/chickening-out of a new cannon guy.

If I learned anything at the circus it is that, contrary to my numerous threats to B, I will not be joining the circus – at least not any time soon. At least not until they re-instate the cannon act or the MC takes those pants off!  (hell-o)


Sadness, and A Threat

One of my best friends in the world suffered a serious loss last week and there is nothing I or anyone can do to help and it kills me, BUT I have found at least a little way – I’ve offered my services to personally slap, strangle, punch, kick, or send a threatening letter to, or plant Milk Chicken Bomb on anyone that says, “Everything happens for a reason” to her.

So be warned. If you forget your manners and feel the need to spew some second-rate new age drivel (that not only insults a person  because you can’t recognize their pain, but serves no purpose other than making yourself feel more comfortable – which is the opposite of good manners) you will be severely punished and it will be something that happens for a reason indeed.

What happened to empathy?


It Does Not Escape Me

“…irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing.”  (Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee)

“He” is a (fictional) professor - the passage goes on to say, “It is a feature of his profession which he does not remark to Soraya. He doubts there is an irony to match it in hers.”

Coetzee was referring to a hooker, but the passage made me think of my last week of classes. Possibly because I can’t help but think how much we never remember from classes. Possibly because I feel so keen, so insightful from all of my lessons learned this semester. And (most) possibly because some of the students in my class are really familiar with hookers. Some so familiar they are doing time for spending too much time with them. I doubt there is anything other than literary irony to match prison life.

Some of them tried to sneak US Weekly’s inside of their textbooks and I’d say “Put that crap away – I am spitting knowledge over here.”

An older, wiser inmate would say, “they have all these pictures of movie stars getting arrested for drugs – like the Paris and Melinda (he was old, he didn’t know) Hiltons – and all their partying gets glamorized but nobody ever thinks about people doing serious time for getting them drugs…look at us… someone was buying…”

And I’d be like, “wait – are you Paris Hilton’s drug dealer? Sweet!”  Kidding. I wouldn’t say a thing (other than – that would make a good essay topic). It’s not my time to organize a radical uprising, not to mention one inspired by an US Weekly.

It is my time to announce that as of this evening, I just got more time. Free time until mid-January. I’ll miss lecturing and I’ll miss handwriting comments that I have to cross out because my spelling skills fall in the bottom third of the class I am teaching, but for now I am ok that I’m down to one job – well two, if you count being a human.


For My Collection

More postcard maps (these are from the mitten in case you didn’t notice the distinguished shape of the greatest state in the nation):



Out The Window




Lots to do. I’ve had to make all of my observationals on the go. Nothing has changed really. Though, things are greener, it is the holidays, and I’m almost free from this semester.



Welcome Home Weather

When it rains here it is as if a gigantic shipwreck from yesteryear turned the Mississippi River over while unearthing itself, spilling water on buildings and land, turning the paved streets to rambling rivers in order to sail again if only to seek revenge.  Rivers of revenge!!  Windshield wipers of wrath!

It really rained here.

It rained birds in Kentucky:

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I lost an earring and a sweater on my trip, but I found a sock crumpled up in a boot  - as well as a box of old Japanese stationary (old as in 1990s – it wouldn’t qualify for A Collection A Day or anything). 

It all unevens out in the end, I suppose.


Road Block

I haven't been able to post from the road.  If you can read this. It is a miracle.

Employees must wash their hands with dishsoap.

S Kaye

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The Talon Times

Thanks to the time change, my drive to Arkansas in the evenings has changed considerably.

I am now headed due west right during the fall of the sun so I am essentially driving directly into a beam of shrill orange light. I am driving into a nuclear bug zapper for forty-five miles without rest. Straight into the center of a high-beam headlight, just face-first into a flame. Perfect for a sensitive migraineur like myself. And if you think sunglasses will help – well then send me some. I mean – you are wrong. Nothing helps because it is the sun and as we all agree - the sun is very bright. Perhaps it is the brightest object in this great sky we all share.

However, there is a sinister upside to the change in light and timing. Now that I arrive in the farmland right at sunset, it is feeding time in the fields. So I get to see at least ten times the hawks I usually do. (If you haven’t developed an appreciation for taloned animals I suggest you start with a horned owl or something before you move onto a hawk.) It is mass mouse murder for a good seven miles off the highway on my way to class so I am very relaxed by the time I have to lecture.

Not counting Thanksgiving week, I only have two more weeks left in this semester. It has not been easy teaching two classes while saving children during the day (day job). Last week I graded seventy-five essays and I don’t even believe in grades! Some students (the old fashioned and the obsessive compulsive) need grades so I can’t just walk in there and say “I don’t believe in grades, you will notice at the top of your paper is a swatch of color and a hand-written temperature, the color represents the general mood emitting from your work and the temperature is my actually body temperature while reading your essay.”

That wouldn’t work right now because, to be fair, I would have to calibrate the thermometer I use for “grading” at the very beginning of the semester. So I have to stick with regular grades through to the end. Things will be much different next semester I tell you! I will be arriving in the dark of the early winter night, the hawks will be sleeping, I will be using more classic essays for course material, and I will use my body temperature to determine grades. Like the light, we all change.

It’s not that I haven't been driving through Arkansas observing astounding sites and outrageous happenings. It's not that I haven't been working and dealing out justice and charity during the day. It's not that I haven't been watching Boardwalk Empire or planning road trips or having terrible headaches that I could write pages and pages about. It's not that I haven't started a new self-help program to wean myself off the television show Intervention (as I near step 8 I will have to apologize to my readers) - no, no I have been doing many things - I just haven't been able to write about them because I guess you can only keep your eyes open for so many hours a day.


Bloggers Block, Blockers Blog, Blargh

Shelby Farms Xmas Lights

This photo is from Shelby Park Farms. They were setting up the Christmas light extravaganza when we were there doing our Olympic Paddle Boat training last weekend.

Speaking of “we” - B asked me what on earth provoked my last post and I told him I had gone deep into my “Things People Say to Each Other and Things People Have Said To Me” archive and I found that one from my spring trip to Michigan. 

I keep all my notes in all different places – small notepads, large notepads, novelty notepads, envelopes, receipts, carved stones – whatever – sometimes I use a crappy notepad app on my phone. I miss my Blackberry – those are the best for typing/thumbing up some extensive notes.

The notes trapped in my phone rarely get revisited until I have a spare afternoon when I retype them all in a regular word doc and that is what I was doing on Thursday instead of grading papers. (I have not finished typing out the notes OR grading the humongo stack of essays still in front of me)

Here are a couple notes I made to myself over the past week and so*:

  • It is not the coolest idea to be sick when you get home from vacation, but I guess I am not here to be cool.
  • An older woman at a South Memphis thrift store stopped me in the overcoat aisle and asked my opinion on how a crappy tweed jacket fit. She told me that she had just lost seventy pounds and she heard Heidi Klum say it isn’t what you wear but how it fits. I don’t want to be looking like a fool, she said. She kept hunting me down to ask about the fit on some Kasper blazers. We were both in the check out line when she tried to buy me some green sandals and said they were the Caroline Herrera look. I declined and told her it was my pleasure to help. In the parking lot I saw her stop a roller-derby looking chick and her friend to take a cell-phone picture with her. She had a mini van and I wonder if that was the end of her shopping trip.
  • I have more cardigans now than at any other time I can remember. I am counting shrugs as well. I no longer own any bolero jackets. I am successful.
  • Fun food items: bundt cake and mini cheese in red wax.


  *replacing “or so” with “and so” because it is the new slang for almost a half.


The End of the Bar

The last time I was in a Meijer Thrifty Acres with my sister (the soldier) we were buying guacamole and beer and champagne and double stuffed Oreos for Easter. I recognized the woman ringing us up as the same woman you see chatting up whoever at the end of the neighborhood bar, the one that looks like she replaced beer and whiskey for daylight and meals long, long ago. That skinny eye-liner-ed biker woman with the clasp-lock cigarette holder and  million lines around her lips wearing levi’s and some kind of crystal somewhere – you know her. She’s friendly:

“How you guys doing?”

“We’re good. How about you?”

“Oh well ya know, I woke up this morning and no one was throwing dirt on me so I’m doing purty good.” She said it in a good natured, hey - shit-happens type of way, not the way your mother would say it. Then she continued to scan our stuff and said, “I’d rather go party with you guys….”

Let me tell you this - none of the horror stories of the supposed financial crisis hit me until I saw that this woman had to take a job at Meijer's. You can judge a society by how it cages its birds.

That is what I am thinking about right now. Yeah  sure,I woke up this morning and no one was throwing dirt on me (unless you count pledge week at WEVL) but I don’t like thinking about misplaced characters and empty barstools and someone timing our good lady’s smoke breaks. The unfairness of it all kills me. It is, as one would say, my dirt.


Night Wine

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Anyplace, Michigan


I found a Gocco print machine at Amvets (here in Memphis) and this was on one of the screens. Proving further that Michigan is everywhere and with everyone at all times.

Our hearts are the peninsulas and Michigan is the water, surrounding us with sand dunes of comfort and petoskey stones of security, forever.

Actually Michigan is Michigan but I can think of no greater metaphor for circumferential obsession than the Great Lakes.


You’ve Been Steampunked

I didn’t know it, but the insides of my computer have gone steampunk. The motherboard turned to a cheese grater and the processor morphed into one of those stretchy sticky-hand things you get out of those gumball/cheap toy machines.  It’s victorian-futuristic on the inside but looks just like a regular ol’ HP on the outside.

I figured it out when it took an hour to recognize my hard drive and four years to open up a RAW file. I just hope I can continue this important work under these intense limitations.

Here is a wall in San Luis Obispo that has been GumPunked:

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Imagine if this wall ran into this hair art found just down the street at the Mission SLO:

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Yes, people used to do decorative things with hair. Now we just steal it from hair brushes for DNA tests or take it from barber shop floors to sprinkle on bank vaults after a good robbery in order to destroy and confuse the evidence team. 

(I saw it in a movie, relax)

Cover your head and pray -- More from the mission:

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Focus on Frolicking

santamonicaLOVAHS paparazziskl

I’m back and still on PacTime. To fall asleep in time to get enough rest for my 12 hour day tomorrow I will have to hypnotize myself with the images of falling clouds over soft waters, palm trees in the wind, and brake lights.


Many Views and Cramped Shoes

It's good to be here. My eyes are windworn from being atop Griffith Park and my driving foot is cramped from breaking and gassing down nearly the entire stretch of Wilshire. Because if you are not in traffic you are not here. Or maybe you are inside one of the numerous gourmet burger joints or blow-out only salons.

Check this page for ongoing updates (often in the form of cell phone hisptimatic/android/ap pictures):   theskl.tumblr.com


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Star Pow-Wow


Headed out and up in the sky for a visit to LA-la land! I will tell everyone there about freshwater pearls and fields of white gold:


And hopefully I will be checking in to tell of palm trees and expensive sneakers and pinkberry.


Semi-Precious, Partially-Rare


Gathered at the Freshwater Pearl Museum Camden, TN



The free tour of the Freshwater Pearl Museum included a short video of a CBS Evening News program circa 1987 that featured entirely too many close-ups of freshwater pearls being extracted from snotty mussel innards. It was nauseating. I don’t even like to accidently see people eat shrimp on a Red Lobster commercial.

We didn’t get to go on a tour of the pearl farm. The woman working the museum (and gift shop) gave us the rundown on the tours, the next one was in six days and she asked if we were interested in signing up. Well no m’am we weren’t planning on sleeping in the Freshwater Pearl Museum 1986 video viewing room for the next week, but thank you. You can’t fault her for being enthusiastic. Like any good tourist attraction, the tours had special names - one of them was called a “tweener” – meaning if you couldn’t afford the real deal you could be humiliated in front of your friends and family by being forced to say “we’ll just take the tweener tour.”

I think she was happy to have us in the shop because it validated her belief in the mysterious beauty and magical draw of the pearl farm and Tennessee River. “I came here on vacation and stayed here!” She said she wasn’t the only one – same thing happened to three other people in the area including the guy who runs the marina. I was beginning to think this is where people went on the lamb. Our gal at the jewelry counter looked like she was on her fifth life at thirty two. 

Before we left she told us we looked like Katie Perry and that every woman wanted a Tahitian (pearl). I’ve been trying to figure out the hidden messages ever since. I’m sure they are buried somewhere in the slimy mussel meat underwater in the pearl farms of the Tennessee River.


Been Gone


Our of touch and on the road. Back with tales of Tennessee trails quite soon.


Have I Told You This Story Before?

I’ve been having a mild to moderately hard time getting things blogged out because I’ve been writing so many letters lately. I see that in my students as well. Since they spend so much time away from them, they write elaborate letters to their friends and families (and maybe even to their enemies – those letters/vows of revenge can take a lot out of a person) so by the time they have to write in class they are spent. I guess they feel like they have already done all the telling that needs to be told. Not everyone is a performer or a standup comedienne or preacher or amnesiac or some other kind of person who takes pleasure in re-telling and re-telling and re-telling. 

So we must learn to compartmentalize and save certain stories for certain audiences. For example, I thought it would be a great idea to save a mention of the Subway Sandwich Artist, that loves to put just one black olive on the center of my sandwich when I say “extra olives,” just for this blog. It’s visual – just imagine a lone chopped black olive on a bed of shredded Subway lettuce - quirky, right? What if I told you the Sandwich Artist does not speak english very well? Now we are talking about how sandwiches and humor transcend language. What if you knew that the owner of this Subway was a mean ol tyrant who re-uses paper cups and times his Sandwich Assembly line? Now it’s a story about transgression and the mini-revolts of a disempowered wage worker.

I can’t put that in a letter now.


Arkansas Ankle Bracelets

The fields of Arkansas, hereby deemed Smokansas, are still burning. Outdoors has turned to indoors as the entire sky, corner to corner, looks like the inside of a breakroom in a tobacco factory. I keep the windows up but by the end of my 45 minute drive, my throat feels like I’ve been sitting on the wrong side of a campfire for about that long – and it’s not fabulous to lose your voice when you still have to lecture for a couple hours. By that time, the only cure for the scratch attack in my throat is whiskey or fritos - so I’ve been stopping off at the Exxon an exit or so before the compound to get something, anything for relief.

I prefer the Exxon because the Shell is too close to the exit and has a depressing layout and the guys that work there are always on their laptops or cell phones (completely destroys my image of gas station workers). The ladies that work at the Exxon have style (glitter nails and funky angel and jesus pins on their uniforms) and always something to say to me when I buy “Mad Housewife” merlot like, “I saw this in a magazine… makes a great gift,” and there was that time I heard one call the other “Big Booty Judy.”

Perhaps the greatest feature of the Exxon is that it has a very clean bathroom featuring one of those Xxxxcelerator high-powered hand dryers. You know the kind that nearly blow off the epidermal layer of your skin – very extreme hygiene.

So, anyway, yesterday I nearly toppled over a small skinny, skinny man with a long, long pony-tail and teeny, wiry mustache. He was just standing around like a creepy little troll with a bunch of larger ogre dudes waiting for the guys restroom. I started to say “Exscuuuu-uuse you…” when I noticed that his ankles were hand – or I guess in this case it would be - ankle-cuffed together. I looked out the window and saw the white US Extradition van, and the armed officer (sporting a gold hoop earring which made me think; private company) by the door, and I thought, I really hope there aren’t chickconvicts in the ladies room, I’m in no mood for a lipstick riot, but I decided to take a chance knowing Big Booty Judy would have my back.

The second I opened the door a woman screamed. (Yes, this is a recurring but very true theme – screaming in restrooms) I thought she was reacting to the mob of barely supervised prisoners just a few feet away, but apparently she was just startled because she’d put her hands under the Xxcelerator Dryer and was completely unprepared for not only the unmistakable powerful burst of air, but for an air dryer all together. She looked at me and said, “God dang! I expected paper towels to come out of here.”

I laughed. Travel amateur. So I told her, “I’m sure one of the guys out there will let you dry your hands on their pants.”

Welcome to Smokansas.


The Most Creative and Fun Blog Post on Earth

B got me a new yellow wallet. My money is much happier.

The retractable antennae is stuck on my car but the motor for it still goes for about 45 seconds after I turn my car off. It sounds awful, like the bones of a small - but tough - animal (like a hamster or squirrel) being crushed in the gears of a meat grinder. At least that is what I see on the faces of people walking by.

We went this place the other night on a suburban recon mission:

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But it was not the most creative and fun restaurant on earth. There is already a place in Chicago where you can go and the wait staff is mean to you (but for fun, right, because that is fun – the most fun on earth) and draws on your tablecloth. That is creative. At this place they sat us at a crummy table, slapped down some greasy menus, and left us for fifteen minutes. Maybe our waitress could tell that I, myself was creative and would just take it from there.

It was not been my intention but my collection of  photographs of dead birds on sidewalks is growing. I usually just use my phone camera to capture the peaceful post-mortem of these poor sweet reckless creatures. I imagine that they thought just beyond the window was just another funky fly-able space – maybe even another galaxy – it is an easy mistake, sometimes I can’t even be bothered with trying to open the door to my office and I just bash my face into the glass with excitement. That might explain why there have been more than a few outside of my office building, though the most recent birdacide was outside of the gap. In this case, I blame the store’s attractive fall stripe collection and sale posters.

Who will take pictures of us on the sidewalk?


This Town

We saw that bank heist movie last night. The one starring Ben Afflick’s jaw and Jeremy Renner’s twitchy small town mug. A few hours after the movie I found myself in a strip mall parking lot waiting around while all the shops were closing up… the Whole Foods workers bundled up their green aprons and came out with brown paper sacks of groceries and got on bicycles and into metro rideshares and foreign cars. Perfectly normal. But the Office Depot crew came out like they were the original inspiration for Reservoir Dogs. The glass doors parted and light beamed through the forms of seven workers staggered in a majestic reverse-V - all of them dressed in workslacks and white polo shirts, looking uniform, clean, and purposeful – maybe even paper-cutter-dangerous. Their leader had red fuck-you-conditioner hair and a manager’s cell phone belt clip and she motioned for the OD Crew to pile in a white armored van featuring the Office Depot logo (modified slightly with a ammo clip in place of a printer cartridge). One of them did a reverse backflip into the rear of the truck and another kept one foot on the footbed of the passenger side so he could stand up as the driver, the shortest and oldest one of them all, drove them away. I am pretty sure I heard a couple of them barking and loading up their tech-9s in time to pick off a few Whole Foods workers waiting for their rides. You never know where professional take-down crews are assembling. Be nice to your retail worker.


The Traveling Woman

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This photo could have been submitted to my other blog but I actually bought the book so it doesn’t technically qualify. I wanted to see if the weather guide was still accurate and to find out if the author is still alive because if not I would like to steal her name as my pen name.  I’ll report my findings soon.  - Dena Kaye II


Cement Rooms, Snot Floors: Dinner Convo

My sister sent me a letter from Basic Training with detailed drawings of her chemical warfare/gasmask training:



(All drawings 2010 copyright KML, Soldier, USA Army, America the Beautiful)

Now, nearly my entire family has gone through basic training except for me (and my mother, but I’m quite sure they wouldn’t let her in because she would scare the drill sergeants and say such passive aggressive things to the cooks they would be forced to secretly poison the entire battalion in a mass suicide attempt) and I have heard about this day in basic from my brothers and mostly - my dad, who suffered through it probably in ‘68 when they made gas masks out of bandanas and band-aides. It was and still is one of his more animated story presentations – he used to tell us stuff like that over dinner - “You think mom’s burnt Bisquick and tuna casserole smells bad – let me tell you about when I had to hold my breath for forty minutes while a bunch of pansies puked and cried all over themselves…”

According to K, getting tear-gassed is of course, extremely uncomfortable, and produces a LOT of snot.  So there’s just crowds of recruits doubled-over, choking, with eyes watering like supersoakers and strings of snot falling from their nose to the floor. And when they come out – the sadistic trainers (drill sergeants, captains, whoever) are all there to take pictures of people gasping for fresh air through their snot-covered faces. I think the photos are the modern twist to the old tradition. The image that stays with me (and one that I gathered from her letter, not a photo) is of my little sister standing in a pool of other people’s snot and barf waiting for her turn to suffah – suffah for our freedom! For Jersey Shore and blue jeans and automobiles and rock shows and corn mazes and liposuction and Linsay Lohan and booster seats and low airfare and genetically modified fruit and iPhone aps. 

Shine sweet freedom. Shine your light on me. (But keep it away from the floor of that cement room chamber thing – I mean who cleans that up?!)


Feet First

My drive across Old Muddy is becoming more dangerous every day. The bridges are crowded with impatient semi-trucks and everything is down to one lane while being earthquake-proofed and other things that spell commute disaster. Yesterday I was greeted with a doom cloud of smoke as soon as I crossed West Memphis. They (the farmers, the faceless industrial farmers) were burning the fields. Cotton is over. It’s been scooped and combed and sent to China for a chemical bath before being handed over to small children to make my Forever 21 clothes and now it is time to set the past on fire. Driving through the endless cloud of dead field particles with strips of fire at my side made me feel like I was plunging into unknown dimension, and I was, I was in Arkansas dimension.

The smoke lingered even after nightfall, I could still smell charred dirt when I stopped at the Exxon after class. As I was getting out of my car I noticed a young mom holding a lil toddler (the size of your typical novice walker) on her hip. The mom came around to the passenger side of an older mid-sized SUV and plopped the little girl in the front seat and put the seatbelt on her, shut the door and headed for the ice machine and nearly knocked me over because I was busy staring at her kid who was sitting in the front seat with the shoulder strap actually covering half of her chubby face. Just one eye and a babycheek looking back at me. She looked surprisingly comfortable so I could only imagine that she rode this way quite often. And although I am not a daily caretaker of small children, I know that breaks at minimum four known rules, three legislative and one moral, of transporting children in vehicles. In fact it might have been safer to tie her stroller to the trailer hitch. I’m sure if it wasn’t so smoky I would have seen a set up like that. I’m only telling you the things I COULD see in Arkansas.

In other doom observations:

Just yesterday during a productive lunch break, I found a great hand-crocheted black sweater dress at my favorite almost-scabies-free thrift store. I threw it on over my clothes to look in the mirror (I prefer not to go in the dressing room at this particular place because it also doubles as a toilet) and it fit! I turned to the side and thought, “This would be good for a funeral.” That’s what came to mind and then I bought it. If I show up to a holiday party wearing a black sweater dress that will tell you what I think of your party.

Darker still: I have developed a fear/fascination of death by black hole after listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s description of falling into one. He was on the last few minutes of the most recent RadioLab.

When your feet are being pulled at a gravitational velocity so intense that your body snaps in half and then half again and again and again until you are scattered particles of space, that’s when you know you are falling into a black hole (or Arkansas).


All Apologies

B’s Apple Cake went moldy:

2010-09-17 13.36.08_Memphis_Tennessee_US 

What I know about this Jewish Holiday season (aka: The Days of Awe) is only what I have gathered from an episode of Entourage, some absences from students in my class, and an article about 10Q – that happened to inspire this awesome reader comment:

“What is something you would have done differently over the past year?”
I never would have answered a blogger on the internet whom I met once years ago who turned out to be a mentally ill obsessive stalker, harasser, and would be black mailer.
People are seldom what they represent themselves to be.
I vow not to make the same gruesome mistake in both the upcoming New Year or the next Lifetime.

— Perley J. Thibodeau

Perely, Perley! Are you calling me out? I’m not a would-be black mailer son, I’m the real deal!! Now send me your extra Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons or the world will know your full name!!

Note: I would reclaim about 30% of my waking life if I could stay away from the filth and profundity that make up online reader comments, but I can’t stay away – the draw is stronger than all of the real housewives put together.

I only bring up the apple cake and the holidays because I like the idea of asking forgiveness – Catholics are into it, but you have to go through a messenger (usually an old man in a robe). I think I might prefer the ol’ once-a-year approach.

So I apologize to anyone I have wronged – especially those of you that count on this blog for exciting stories and fun photos – I apologize for all of those times you came to check for a new entry and there was the same old entry about my officemate. I’m sorry to all the Starbucks baristas that haven’t gotten a tip from me ever since I started to use the drive-through. I’m very sorry to both the Pistons and the Dodgers because I feel like I gave up on you when times got tough. But really it feels like we are headed into even tougher times and if you don’t pull your shit together I probably will just not pay attention until you get in the playoffs again (or when the Pistons play Miami). I’m sorry that I had to take a hiatus from my short-story chain. I’m sorry I didn’t get to visit with everybody in New York. I’m really sorry to myself that I didn’t get to touch a single Great Lake this whole summer. Sorry to my car for pushing that 3,000 – 5,000 mile oil change. Sorry to the guy at the drive-in movies that we told we didn’t have jumper cables. Sorry to the Department of Education for not having any intention of ever paying more than fifty dollars a month on my student loan. Sorry to the weddings and baby showers I missed this year. Sorry for giving up Diet Coke and Chick-Fil-A. Sorry to the several museums and docent-led tours where I took picture when I wasn’t supposed to. Sorry to my boyfriend for pretending I don’t know how to cook or wash dishes. I’m sorry I think that I have a psychological diagnosis for everyone.

And finally, in the spirit of forgiveness and healing, I also apologize for those of you who use, have used or plan to use in the future, the phrase: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Because it is a phrase that makes me want to make you actually, really, and truly sorry, in the I’ll-give-you-something-to-cry-about sense of the way you can be sorry.

G-d. I feel much better.


In Dreams




Nylon for the War

I bought two pairs of knee-high nylons at the drugstore. Twenty cents a pair. I’ll probably wear them with a pair of slacks or something careerish, but there really is only one right way to wear knee-high reinforced toe nylons : with a skirt or over an ace bandage. It reminds me of gals in borrowed clothes at choir concerts and middle school award ceremonies and everything else I adore. Knee-high in good company.