Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Sidewalks

Lately, I wake up earlier and earlier. Something about four in the morning that makes you feel more alone than ever. Anyone who is anyone is asleep or at work and you're just sitting there staring out the window onto an empty side street full of quiet cars and evergreen bushes. My mind seems to be reaching for something, looking for something, for anything intangible.

Sometimes I think about calling someone but there’s no one to call. Not that I don’t have friends. I do. I also have some family but no one who would understand what I’m trying to say. I can’t talk to them. I can never make them understand. There isn’t anything wrong. There just isn’t anything right.

The world seems pale and heavy and intent on pretending I don’t exist. I’m tired and heavy. I feel so beige and brittle. My skin’s so stiff, I feel the air like fingernails. How long have I been here, empty and staring? Waiting for something to happen.

Nothing happens. In two hours, the automatic coffeepots will kick on. An hour after that the commuters will head out to drop the kids off at school and to get a double-espresso at Starbucks before heading into the grind.

And I'll continue on, one screw among the thousands in the eternal machine of life. But shouldn't there be something more?

Anything more?

Or is life merely fog and lonely winter sidewalks?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I can't get any air in.

It's an awful feeling. I've sucked on my inhaler, had oxygen nubs stuck up my nose, swilled cough syrup, popped antibotics but I still can't breathe.

I'm so tired but I'm afraid to sleep.

Last night, I'm propped up in bed, so tired I could cry but the fizzing of pop rocks in my lungs kept me up. I'm pretty sure they shouldn't make that sound. This was after a day of coughing until I vomited.

When I didn't vomit, blood streaked green mucus comes up. Is that better? I don't know. Then this morning, I threw up white foam. Perhaps, I'm just going mad like a rabid dog and they'll shoot me. It'd be a relief.

Today, I'm not coughing as much but I'm wheezing. That deep, dying rattle wheeze that makes people stop you in the hall and ask if you need 9-1-1. I don't. I've seen three doctors, each more useless than the last.

I have acute bronchitis with asmtha. Suffer and die seems to be the consenus. Perhaps I'm reading into the situation, I don't know. That's what it feels like. That they feel that my wheezing, coughing, vomiting, inability to sleep is a mild problem.

It doesn't feel mild.

I can't breathe.

I don't suppose it matters to anyone but me.

And I still have to go to work.

So I'm kissing all the son-of-a bitches that get on my nerves. Hopefully, I'm contagious.

A girl has to look forward to something.

Monday, December 28, 2009

If Human Marriage was like the Animal World

I've been sick so I'm reposting this article from TNBW.

I was thinking (and that's always dangerous) about how odd/funny it would be if human weddings followed the rules of the animal kingdom.

Preying Mantis-- Bride and Groom say their vows, they get busy, Bride gets knocked up, Bride bites off Groom's head and deposit's her fertilized eggs in his warm corpse. Think of all the money saved on divorce lawyers. Plus, you'd never have to argue about silly stuff when he started to get on your nerves. Then again, I bet male vascectomies would be on the rise.

Dogs--Bride and Groom get married, more or less. Then, while everyone is watching, Groom bangs Bride. Actually, all intact Groomsmen bang Bride. Bride gets knocked up. Groom pretends not to know Bride and commits bigomy with each of the Bridesmaids. Good news is that in the dog world you don't need to be pretty, skinny, or popular to get laid. The bad news is that your house smells like puppy poo. Marriage repeats each year until Bride's ovaries fall out her hoohaa. Female tubals would go through the roof.

Pandas---Both Bride and Groom are fat and disinterested. You eat a lovely vegetarian meal, fart in front of each other, and scratch your private areas because, really, you have no interest in sex. If pressed, the Groom might lay on top of the Bride and take a nap. All children are conceived through IVF and the Bride has the right to sit on any of the ugly ones. Plus, if you ignore the ugly, squirmy things, human nannies come and raise it for you. Really, this is the way to go. No passion but no work.

Ants--Groom works like a dog to impress Bride. Bride has male harem but doesn't sleep with anyone. Finally, she picks a male, does the nasty, creates new males to groom and take care of her. Groom is quickly discarded and a new Groom is picked. More children are created. Groom's job is to take care of Bride and children and not get in the way. Most males would just stick their heads in mud hole and hope to suffocate. Internet porn bills go through the roof.

People---After a long negotiation or a lot of drinks in Vegas and a mutual exchange of gifts, the Groom and Bride decide they can stand each other well enough to cohabitate. This understanding means Groom and Bride must tolerate ex-Grooms, odd family members, and snotty bad-tempered children from previous weddings. If divorced, Bride and Groom both have the right to call each other foul names and flip each other off in traffic.

Now, who are the strange ones? I dunno but I do know one thing....I'm not getting married.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Potato, Please!

Baked Potato, Where Art Thou?

I love spuds. You know, the tater, the grand potato, the ever-elegant potato chip. I love potatoes in almost every form.

French fries and baked potatoes are mmm good. They are also non-essential carbs but worth it, if DONE CORRECTLY. You would think french fries would be hard to screw up. You’d be wrong.

The early french fry was a potato cut into slices and tossed into boiling hot oil and spattered with salt. They had that smooth crunch on the outside, that fluffy white oh-mama-yes puff inside. They were fabulous.

They were so popular, people experimented. Covering them in gooey cheese, sprinkling them with pepper, and god-forbid paprika. Yes, someone tried to make me eat paprika fries. Disgusting.

Then comes the subtle treachery. The limp fries sitting under the heat lamps all day. The health Nazi’s complain about the deep fry oil until it’s replaced with a veggie crisper mix that leaves a grainy lard taste to the outside of my fries. Been to Burger King lately?

I’d rather lick the counter than eat their fries. The new oil is repulsive.

Then, the resturants that claim to be ‘home-cookin” felt left out and came out with home-fries. Home-fries are chopped up little squares of potato which have been fried on the grill with 10 other things and then served wilted. Uber bland.

What I’d love to eat is some good fried potatoes. Fried potatoes are not french fries and they are not home fries. There are about 100 different versions of fried potatoes. My SIL makes the best ones.

She slow steam fries them in pure bacon grease. They have crunchy edges but are soft inside. They taste of that perfect swirl of bacon and potato. Like really great sex, even when you’re full, you don’t want to stop because it’s so good.

You’ll never see these potatoes in resturants because they aren’t good cold and don’t do well reheated. The bacon grease, it’s your friend and your enemy. Plus, you’ll poop out your brains. Still, it tastes good.

If you just want a plain old fry, may I suggest McDonalds. On a good day, fresh from the fryer with a loving sprinkle of salt, their fries are a cheap, quick potato fix. Don’t eat them cold.

Potatoes just aren’t all that good cold or reheated, no matter the form.

When I joined WW to lose weight, the leader (as in take me to yours) suggested replacing fries with a baked potato. This is wonderful in theory. Only you can’t get an edible baked potato in a fast food resturant. You just can’t.

I eat my potato plain, maybe with a touch of salt or a dip of ketchup but no toppings. This is why a Wendy’s baked potato is vile. It’s been baked, microwaved, put under a heat lamp, and served. This potato has no flavor, no hope.

If it were a movie, that potato would be the mindless zombie, hoping for a shovel to the head. It’s bitter to the tongue, glassy to the eye. It smells vaguely ‘green’ in a metallic way. They taste like burnt paper. Bad potato.

Steak resturants aren’t any better. They rely on the topings to cover up the heat lamp taste. When it’s naked, there’s no chance of fooling me. IF you want a good potato, believe it or not, go to Red Lobster.

Red Lobster serves small baked potatoes. They soak them in a water overnight, salt them and slow bake them. The small size assures that they get done all the way through. The salt gives you texture and tang. The skin is tender and tasty enough to eat. My mouth is watering. My computer may short out from all the moisture.

Sometime in the future, I have to tell you about my ideas on potato chips but tonight we’re out of time.

Eat something and be happy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poem: Santa's Off Season


No, I ain’t gonna sit in your lap.
Don’t want no presents, no gifts,
don’t need no old man to give my skirt a lift.
You got a belly like jelly,
and crumbs in your beard.
And what's that smell? Wet reindeer?
And it’s none of your business
if I’ve been naughty or nice.
Sober up, fool, and go home to you wife.
Your cheeks are all rosy, your eyes have a shine,
I know that look...too much wine.
And breaking into houses,
that, moron, is a crime.
I just came over to say...
that you, old man, you're in my way,
so could you move that god-forsaken sleigh?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Don't Care About Tiger Woods

I don't care about Tiger Wood's personal life and neither should you. His wife should care, his kids should care, probably his parents and his close friends should care. I'm a perfect stranger to the man and I have no right to get involved in his life.

So why I am writing about him? I'm sick to the death of people debating if he cheated or didn't cheat or if his wife will divorce him. Why is this our business? Because the man can play a decent game of golf?

Yes, he had a car accident after some sort of disagreement with his wife. He'll pay a fine for the wreck and that should be the end of it. But no, he has to have news reporters crawling through his garbage. People keep wanting to know more and more.

He's not a moral role model.

He's not a priest.

He's a really good golfer. He hasn't promised the public anything more than that and he kept that bargain.

If he cheated on his wife(and I don't know or care), this concerns his wife, his family, and his doctor. You see? I'm not on that list.

Why do people believe that because someone is vaguely famous that the public has the right to know everything about them including the results of their PAP smear or who they're diddling?


If he paid a hooker with company or government money, sure I might need to know that. But only about the public money for an illegal activity, not the sex.

This isn't the case here.

If he was molesting kids, that I would need to know because it's a safety issue. The same thing if he was a rapist.

This isn't the case here.

He's an ordinary man with rather ordinary problem.

And it's none of our business.

A friend of mine claims since Tiger supposedly lied about the car accident, this makes it fair game for public debate. I say he had no obligation to tell the public anything. The police, he had to give the facts to, yes. I'm not a cop, are you?

I'm sure they'd arrest him if he did something illegal.

Since I'm not a cop on the case, it's still not my business.

And who wouldn't omit the fact of a family argument from a police report when you know that report will be made public? The accident facts are the same without that argument info.

Honestly, leave the man and his family alone. If he needs his ass kicked, his wife will do it.

And if she fails at that job, there's always his second wife.


the light: A Poem

the light came through the window
like spears
it cut me in two

as God allowed him to be cut

sliced my insides in thin, round slices
and served me
to the uninvited guests

they took their piece
and found it bitter

bitter black as his box

through the glass
into the clouds, past heaven
I looked to the light

looked for the answers
or even the questions
and found heaven deserted

I was alone as he now was

as he was laid back
into the arms of the earth
I looked to the sky...

and found no mercy,
no God,
nothing but the light

how it empties my soul

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog Pick of the Month: Rachel Gardner/Literary Agent

Click on the link above to visit the blog.

Blog of: Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

One of my favorite blogs for writers. If you haven't started reading this one, you should. She has everything from designing your blog to catching the eye of an agent. One of the useful blogs for writers.

Some topics covered:

Questions to Ask an Agent
Books I've Sold to Publishers
How to Write a Book Proposal
How to Write a Query Letter
List of Writers' Conferences
List of Freelance Editors

Blogger Profile

Rachelle is a literary agent, a writer and a book editor. She is the wife of a firefighter, mom of two amazing daughters, and a follower of Christ. She loves music, books, Starbucks, American Idol, and everything outdoors.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hello Marla Singer

In the movie Fight Club, Marla Singer plays the depressed, impossible woman who drives our main characters around the bend. But the only difference between Marla Singer and most of us depressed souls is that Marla Singer doesn't pretend to be happier than she is.

I mean it takes balls for a woman to attend a Testicular Cancer meeting as a patient. To be so bold, to lie so well that no one even questions why she is there. In the movie, we're told Marla believes she could die at any minute but the tragedy is that she doesn't.

That is at tragedy, isn't it?

I mean we all suffer. We all want to have some meaning in our lives. Some point in the pain of it all. But most of us will just lie to ourselves until we believe the fabrication.

Life is pain and disappointment.

But we're told that we should be happy. We should be grateful that we're alive. We should be happy we don't hurt more.

Marla Singer, where are you?

Without her, we'll all create a Tyler Durden. We'll all blow up our IKEA wastelands. We'll all make our living recycling the fat of rich women into soaps to sell to skinny rich women.

Am I becoming Marla Singer? Dare I hope to be her?

Dare I hope to be bold, to be awake for my life, to scream my pain out open windows just to make the neighbors flinch.

Am I to be Tyler Durden? A sociopath bent on being happy at any one's expense. Someone who would rather blow up the world than live in as the broken shell that it is.

Am I to be the nameless insomniac who is so unhappy he has to go to support groups for the miserable and dying just to feel better about his gray every life?

Or can I really be Marla Singer?

Can I take what I want, be who I want, flaunt my misery as much as I want.

Don't we all want to be Marla Singer?

Don't we all want to wallow in our unhappiness and then sling that badness at the others in their pressed, pretty suits? Don't we all want to be unstable bitches who people both follow and fear?

Aren't you tired of being weak?

Well Hello Marla Singer...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dear Drive-Thru Chick

Dear Drive-Thru Chick,

I write you this letter so I don't get out my crappy little car and yell obscenities into your static filled intercom. I know, I know, I should be a grown-up and not be irritated that you've messed my order up for the 100th time.

It's my fault. I should stop eating here. I know this.
But until then, do not ask me if I want cheese on my plain burger. If I wanted cheese on it, it would be a plain cheeseburger. See?

Don't make me repeat my order three times and then try to give me a iced coffee when I get to the window. I don't drink coffee, I didn't order one. Some pissy caffeine junkie either behind me or ahead of me is going to want that coffee. The only thing I want to do is throw it back at you.

I know. I have anger management problems when I'm hungry. You don't help.

And why won't you give me ketchup? Why? I ask at the intercom, you say yes. I ask at the window, you say yes. I ask, "Is there ketchup in the bag?" You say yes. You LIE. Again.

Oh by the way, do you work weekends at Lee's Chicken? The one by my house that is always out of chicken. That drive-thru chick never sees the irony of her statement. They are always out of chicken.

And Drive-Thru Chick, if the cash register is broken and you can't figure out how to process my order without the pictures on the screen, don't make me wait 15 minutes to tell me to go somewhere else. I might get mad.

Lastly, if I see you tongue kiss the cook while at the window and grope his teenage ass, wash your hand before handing me my food.


I appreciate it.


Your customer,


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who Needs A Working Toilet?

I've been wanting to buy a new toilet. One that I don't have to turn off after each flush. If it keeps leaking it's going to rot the floor out. Plus, I'd like a laptop that doesn't shut itself down every half an hour as well. I lose more work that way.

I've been waiting to see if I hit goal in my sales territory and today it happened. I got my final numbers for bonus.

The good news is that I get bonus because I hit GOAL!!!

The bad news is that I still don't know for how much. Reality!!!

I get my final numbers, my estimated pay out, and it's a healty number worthy of a pedestal toilet and a super computer. But, would it be pro-rated? Pro-rated means getting 1/3 of that hefty number instead of all of it because I haven't worked a full year with the company.

I asked three times if it would be prorated since I started in February.

I was told, 'No, you get the whole thing.'

I got all excited. Visions of big healthy checks were floating in my head. I had dreams of buying a new toilet AND a new laptop. Who knows maybe I would get someone to cut my hair instead of taking the dog trimmer to it myself. The dreams I have... LOL.

But then I got an email this afternoon that says maybe it should be pro-rated.
Maybe. Hmph. I don't like that word. Maybe sucks.

The boss isn't sure which way it will go.

So my money is held up again.

I should get something but who knows how much or when.

It was a nice dream though, wasn't it?

Who needs a working toilet anyway? The laptop I have to have.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Public Shower...Embarrassed

My most embarrassing moment occurred when I was a teenager. I was taking one of those marathon showers that pissed my mother off when I heard the horrifying sound of the door lock popping open.

The door swung inward and my elderly father (already in his late 70’s) wandered in wearing white long-johns. He blinked at the bright light but thankfully hadn't noticed me, naked, behind the clear glass shower doors.

Mortified, I started to call out to him to let him know that I was in the shower but what if he looked over and saw me, you know, naked?

Unfortunately, he whipped out his willy and started peeing. Gross, no fifteen year old girl needs her first look at a real penis to be her father’s ancient one. That’ll put a girl off sex for life.

Blushing furiously, I was deeply relieved when he closed his pant's flap and started to leave the bathroom. Then, he hesitated, leaned out the door and yelled, “George, do you hear water running?”

George, my mother, showed up at the door with two of my brothers, my uncle and one of my sisters. They all peer in and see me, in the shower, without clothes. God, I begged, please let me die now.

“Oval, can’t you see she’s taking a shower?”

I’m bright red and trying to cover myself with nothing but a wash cloth when my dad answers, “Who?”

From that day on, I could take a shower in under 3 minutes.

I should probably be mad

I know I should be upset but I'm not. And no, I don't have a Superman sort of cool that allows me to shrug off nuclear blasts. It's just that I can't seem to care.

About what?

What else? Money.

I'm working once again with a company I once worked with for over seven years. Believe or not, I'm a sale rep. Which if you knew me, would be hilarious. I started back here at the old TL in February. My new territory was in the toilet. Way down in the toilet, beyond the sewage pipe in the yard-- toilet bad.

I drug it kicking and screaming toward positive numbers. I brought it right up to the borderline for hitting goal. It was all coming down to my e-sales which I can't view. So I'm depending on the big bosses to know if I hit goal.

No word from them. Part of that is that my immediate boss quit to take a different job. And I went from a perky, slightly absent woman to a polo wearing-spider tattoo man with a military hair cut. No difference at all. None. Absolutely the same.


So supposedly pay-outs are on December 18th of this month.

I still have no idea if I hit goal and if I did how much I will get.

No one knows.

The other reps are foaming at the mouth.

They want their money for Christmas gifts.

If they didn't hit then they want to know because the new year (starting in August)is half done. Plus we can't get our new goals until we find out if we hit the old one.

You see? Frustrating.

I should be pissy as a bear with a bladder infection.

But I just can't seem to care.

The big bosses will do what they want. If they've spent this much time stroking the numbers, I'm not sure how accurate it will be anyway.

No worries.

My foaming at the mouth doesn't get me anywhere any sooner.

I guess I'll just wait until the 18th and see if I actually get any bonus money.

What do you want to bet the pay out is delayed?


Oh well, I hate shopping anyway.

Don't you love corporate America?


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Just Not That Interesting

It's true. I'm not that interesting. I curled up at my desk at work, out of Diet Mt. Dew, and thinking to rattle off a fun little blog post before I escape to my freezing house in redneck land.

It's warmer here and I'm done for the day so I'll write here rather than go home first.

But I realized I'm boring, lackluster, dull, beige, a faceless corporate cog.

And I'm tired and I have to pee. Okay, okay TMI but I wanted you to get the picture. I live a horrendously ordinary life. Today, at work I spent three hours dividing up territory schools for bookstore calls. Which is exciting except when you understand that 90% of my group will never make the said bookstore calls.

Then I registred for my virtual training classes. BLah.

Then I deleted said classes and reregistered.

Then, realized I dupliated a class.

Deleted it, then rearanged the courses.

I'm one short.

Said screw it and now I'm taking Digital Selling twice.

It's okay, I'll bring a Diet Mt. Dew and a doodle pad.

Really, can life get much more boring than that?

I did have a 40 minute conversation on Angel shells for online courses. I faked most of it.

Somewhere out there in the world someone is gambling away their life savings in Vegas, several people are getting laid (some of them even enjoying it), some are picking the kids up from the sitter.

What am I doing?

Cleaning my drawers for change to buy a Diet Mt. Dew.

I need to get a life.

And I will, as soon as I figure out what kind of life I want.
Until then, I'm going blog about nothing.

And you can't stop me.

Na Na Na Na Na



Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ugly Dog Facts

I use to work in dog rescue, at least until BlackDog became a permanent foster dog. Because of that experience, I often get calls and requests from people wanting animals or wanting to place animals. As you can guess, more people are looking for homes than there are people looking for dogs.

I wish sometimes I could scream because they don't understand the facts of life in rescue.

The Ugly Facts:

1) If your dog is over the age of four and over 25 pounds, both at the same time, he has less than a 15% chance of finding a new home unless he is a purebreed or is exceptional in someway. Loving everyone is not being exceptional.

The local shelter here will euthanize all dogs over the age of 3 unless they are 'exceptional' in some way. These they try to place in private shelters. Few find placements with groups such as ours. We're just too crowded.

2) If your dog is over the age of seven, he has a better chance of becoming a cat than getting adopted. There are some exceptions for small dogs but even with those the odds are lousy.

Over the age of 10? Beg a relative to take him.

3) The larger your adult dog is, the less likely we'll be able to place him. If he's a purebred or looks close to one, that will help but there are no guarantees. Few people have the room or patience for a 100 pound mix-breed adult dog. If the dog is age two and under, there is still hope but the big dogs just take longer to place.

4) Adult Beagles aren't wanted by anyone in the tri-county area. People breed them constantly in the area and you can get an 8 week old puppy off a back of a truck for $25 dollars. Try then to convince someone to pay the $80 dollar adoption fee for an adult one.

Hounds are often loud, smelly, and not as cute when grown up. The rescue turns down about three out of every five beagles and beagle mixes. Not because we don't like the breed but because they take 12 to 18 months longer to place. We need the space. Beagle puppies do adopt quickly though.

5) Dogs that aren't housebroken, have no shots, test positive for heartworm are not eligible for placement. Period. These are the minimums. Dogs that need medication can be placed (sometimes) but it takes longer so expect a huge wait.

6) It isn't acceptable or cute for your dog to lunge, bite, pee in the house, howl, eat furniture, or growl at children. If you can't live with this behavior, why do you think someone else would? You need a trainer, not a rescue.

7) Placing dogs together is nearly impossible as well. The rescue has more luck with small breeds if you want to place a pair. Pairs of large dogs are almost always a no-go.

8) Just because it is a puppy doesn't mean we have room for a litter of 12. We'll try to make room but space is limited and puppies are expensive. All our pups must be vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and housebroken before being homed, so we're committing to a lot of work and expense.

Therefore, we rarely take sick puppies or ones in need of extreme care. On occasion we may make an exception and take donations for a special pup but we only have some much money and time. Our dogs are adopted out at between $80 and $150.00. Most have had $200.00 worth of vet care or more. We don't exactly make a profit. We do this for love.

9) If we can't take your dog, sometimes we will list it for you on the website. Expect it to take a month to a year to place your dog. This is with you working diligently to place him. You need to Facebook your dog, post him at work, run an ad in the paper (with an adoption fee). No fees attract the lab collectors who get dogs for lab experiments. Gee what fun. You need to WORK at getting him adopted, just like we do. People rarely just come up to you and offer to take your dog.

10) We do NOT adopt to anyone who plans on chaining their dog in the yard and leaving him out there in all weather and with no socialization. Sorry. And no, we don't adopt about 'mean' dogs for protection. All of our dogs are well-socialized.

Also, we won't adopt to you if your children try to torture the dogs during the application. Torture includes jumping up and down on a dog, prying open it's mouth, kicking at it, biting the dog, or in the case of one kid, setting it on fire. This isn't cute or kids being kids. So don't be upset if we ask to meet your kids.

11) If one adult is against the dog in the house, then we won't adopt to you. They'll resent the dog and in the end, the dog will come back to us. It's happened before. Everyone must agree.

12) Dogs are not gifts. They are living, breathing animals. Never surprise anyone with a dog.

13)Reasons to get rid of your dog do not include: a new job, a new baby, a new husband, tired of having a dog, want a new puppy, he got too big, or just not interested anymore.

The Yellow Sweater and other Crimes

The following is a family crime that at turns annoys me and makes me laugh hysterically.

My sisters are all much older than me. Much, much older. Now, I hope they finally read my blog so they can complain about that terminology. Due to some crafty math, good genes, and a little plastic surgery in one case, they've manage to slow aging to a crawl.

In real life, all of them are fifty plus this year and I'm stilling hanging on the ass end of my thirties with a death grip. That's life. You get old or you die. Both smell pretty bad.

Because of the age difference, I missed out on the sisterly bickering, fights, back-stabbings, and the yellow sweater. The three kids before me were boys. My testostone buffer so to speak.

I don't believe all three of my sisters have lived in the same house together since the 1970's.

Yet occassionally one of them brings up the yellow sweater. Over the years, the details have gotten ragged, the story complicated, but the bitterness has never faded. As far as I can tell, this is what happened.

My oldest sister, J, graduated high school and purchased a lovely, brand new, tags still on it yellow sweater from her work cash. In a family of eight kids, new was rare. Brand-new, well that was something to talk about.

Now in some versions of the legend, my second sister, R, bought the sweater. But I believe this to be a fallacy. First, she married at 18 and if she was still living at home, she was single and poor like everyone else.

J bought the sweater. R borrowed the sweater. R said she had permission, J said she didn't remember giving it but even if she had, she would never have agreed to let R loan it to the third sister, E.

The sweater came back stained and stretched out.

J had a hissy fit.

All my sisters are flat chested to certain degrees. A, Double A, and Triple A in bra size. If you don't know what a Triple A is, look at a slice of bread out of the toaster. It has about as much boobage as a Triple A bra holds.

To this day, someone will occassionally bring up the yellow sweater. R claims E stained it and stretched it out. E, while admitting to wearing the sweater with R's permission claims there was no way she stretched it out (triple A) and she doesn't remember the stain.

Since she is usually smudged in some way when claiming this, we believe half her story.

R says she did nothing to the sweater.

J says no one had permission to wear her sweater to begin with.

This same arguement has now went on for more than twenty-five years.

The sweater is long since gone.

The sisters have worked their way through several wardrobes, styles, and husbands and still they discuss this 'crime' in their youth.

And to be honest, the whole family looks hideous in yellow. Liked curdled lemon peels.

So, right now, I'm confessing...I TOOK THE SWEATER. While I was toddling around the house in my diaper, I put on the sweater, stuffed the front with grapefruit and ate dinner.

Then I climbed into J's closet and hung it back on the rack even though I've never voluntarily hung anything up in my life.

Now can we all move on?

Nope, I probably ower 15.49 for an ugly misshappen yellow sweater.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Ketchup Snob

Yes, I admit it. I’m a ketchup snob.

First, good ketchup is the perfect vegetable. I know it’s made from tomatoes and tomatoes are really fruits but if the American government says ketchup is a veggie for schools, that’s good enough for me.

The first rule for ketchup is that it’s edible on almost any meat. I like it on steak, burgers, overcooked pork chops (really, it moistens them), and even chicken fingers. Don’t you dare dump it on lobster or crab legs though. If it is a sea floor crap sucker, it’s not a ketchup food.

However, not all ketchup is created equal.

You can tell good ketchup by the color. Dark ketchup, the color of shady brick is nearly inedible. It’s bitter, watery, and disgusting. This is the ketchup of choice at Mexican resturants. The salsa guys who sell them their condiments don’t understand ketchup. I guess it’s not a big part of Tex-Mex cooking.

Like some Italian pizza sauces, Mexican ketchup is lacking sugar. The acidity is foul to a junk food junkie like myself. I like my ketchup sweet, my meat burnt, and no butter on anything. Actually, the perfect food comes in a paper bag through a drive through window with small perfect plastic baggies of ketchup. Sweet, sweet ketchup…mmm. McDonald’s guy, I think I love you.

Good ketchup is bright and cheery, the color of a bright red Christmas stocking. It’s a happy color for happy hungry people.

When traveling to restaurants, if you aren’t sure of the ketchup content, put a bottle in your purse. Be prepared. Could that many boy scouts be wrong?

If the restaurant doesn’t serve ketchup, do you really think you should be eating there?


Hey Writer, You Suck!

You suck.

Well, it’s true. All writers suck at some point in their careers. Even your hero, that literary genius who composed sonnets in his crib and gave a stream-of-consciousness book report on Atlas Shrugged for his third grade book report; he sucked. If you don’t believe me and he’s still alive, sneak into his house one night, gently wake him up, and ask him.

While you’re waiting for the cops to pick you up, I think you’ll discover that compared to his current work, he’ll say that third grade book report sucked. Sucking isn’t the problem, it’s the degree of suck. All writers start with some degree of talent. Some have an ocean’s worth, some have a drop. But that talent has to developed, has to be worked.

A writer with a drop of talent, who writes, workshops, and continues to grow, will have fifty times the success of a literary genius who sits on his butt and waits for opportunities to show up at his door. It’s a combination of work, talent, and sheer stubbornness.

Don’t believe me?

I can prove it. Go to your local bookstore or library and look through the paperback novels. Now stay away from your favorite authors. Just randomly pull ten books off the shelf that you’ve never read or heard of. At least one of those books will be utter crap or at least as good as the crap you write.

You know what the difference is between you and this published author is?

And no it’s not blackmail photos of someone at Random House, it’s commitment. Most writers get rejected. Expect to be rejected. Think of yourself as girl with the neck boil and the lazy eye who wants a date to the prom. If you don’t have a guilty cousin doing you a favor, you’re going to have to ask more than one boy. You’ll get hurt, you’ll cry a bit.

But eventually you’ll figure out that a turtleneck sweater, a pair of tinted glasses, and a push-up bra gets you what you what you want. It’s the same with writing.

It won’t be easy.

You’ll have to work hard to improve your writing flaws, learn to enhance what’s already good and minimize what isn’t.

But it’s not impossible.

Will you get a five book deal and get to tell your current boss to suck it? Probably not. But can you get published? Probably yes.

But are you stubborn enough to keep at it?

Because that’s what it’ll take, sheer stupid stubbornness.

I can do that, can you?

Remember when you suck, Koontz, King, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Rowling, Whitman, Austen sucked too and you read their books, right? Right.

Be proud.

Keep sucking.

I know I will.

~ Tirz

Sick of Jesus

Luckily almost no one reads this blog so I don't have to worry about giving anyone a heart attack. But I'm sick of Religion, Jesus, and anything even remotely related to someone's 'spirituality'.

This time of year I'm bombarded by people who don't take no for answer. No, I don't want to go to your church. No, I don't want to pray with you. No, I won't give a dollar for Jesus.

I'm a little sick of Jesus.

The truth is most extremely religious people make my skin crawl.

Perhaps it's a leftover of my childhood where God was used as a battering ram to get the pious what they wanted or to punish the so-called 'undeserving'.

I believe in the freedom of religion.

I also believe in the freedom FROM religion.

If someone else tries to shame me, blame me, or drag me to another religious service, I'll scream. Don't judge my life by your standards

Worship who or whatever you want. Go to a church, sacrifice a chicken, light a candle. I don't care.

What I do care about is when your religion interferes in my life.

I don't want to be converted, prayed on, prayed for, condemned, or informed of your religious beliefs.

I could care less if you are a Baptist, Catholic, Buddhist, or a Voodoo priestess. I don't want to bow my head for you, bend knee for you, or give my money to you.

Religion can be hand up or a club the head.

But I'm not interested in either. I'm not a challenge. I'm not getting in your way. I just want to be left alone from your mis-guided help.

If praying helps, then pray. Quietly and to yourself.

But don't expect me to join you.

Don't warn me about my everlasting soul. I'm not sure if I believe in the soul. I'm thinking about it.

I'll think good thoughts for you.

I'll be your friend.

I'll read to you when your sick and bring you soup.

I'll rescue abandoned animals.

I'll volunteer my time.

But you should not take advantage of me.

You should not use my willingness to be of use as a platform to bludgeon me with your ideas, however well meant.

Feel free to announce your faith, feel free to worship as you see fit, but allow me the right to do as I see fit.

Without out your shaming disapproval.

I am not a bad person.

And even if I am a bad person, what's it to you?

The Dollar Christmas

I do my Mother's Christmas shopping each year and each year I have to find new and inventive ways to be cheap. My mother gives everyone cash for Christmas BUT she wants something under the tree for them to unwrap.

Because she's giving them a sweaty wad of cash, the budget for gifts is low, really low. This year I have approximately forty-four gifts to buy on a $120.00 budget. Actually, that's a pretty good budget for a mom holiday. I've done it on forty bucks before.

Back when mother did it herself, some of the gifts were interesting. One year she found a multi-pack of men's socks on sale. She bought the socks and wrapped each of my brother's one pair. Yep, one pair.

Only it turned out the socks were boy's not men's. So they were about 6 sizes to small. But Mommy Dearest got offended when the boys had a sense of humor about it and tossed their unopened gifts back and forth between each other, pretending to fight over which pair of socks they received.

Don't think the girl's fared any better. We didn't. Goodwill shirts in garish turquoise or fushia, usually several sizes wrong. Polyester and double knits are so classic. Hah. My mother loves bright colors. Sometimes, the girls got packs of 99cent pantyhose. Those I didn't mind, you can always use pantyhose.

But somewhere over the years the mantle of frugal shopping has been handed down to me.

How do I do it?

Well I laugh at store sales. Roll in the floor, crying laughter. Something on sale for twelve bucks would have to satisfy three people at the very least.

And coupons are useless.

The key is to find one good item for a dead low cost. One year, I found 1 dollar umbrellas. They were acceptable and we all need one. I got about half of the people umbrellas. I put the extra cash into the children's gifts. The kids usually get any money overflow.

Things I've discovered:

Kid's love rubber balls on a string for some reason.
Rubber band Racers are always adored.

Don't need umbrellas?

One year, I found film on clearance. I snooped and found out how many relatives had cameras and what kind. I bought them film. This was before digital was the end all of everything.

This kind of shopping is all about the moment. I'm good at the moment. But it involves hours of combing through Dollar Stores, General Stores, and the occasional Thrift Store.

Do I enjoy it? No, no, no.

I hate it.

When someone at work brags about getting a deal on a video game for their kids for 30 dollars or someone going on and on about how they can only spend fifty dollars per person, I want to vomit.

And the gifts I'll receive will be on the same level as the one's I wrap up.

Ugly scarves, books from discount bin, and one year Barbie shoes. Don't ask, you don't want to know.

I wouldn't mind the books but they are always authors I can't stand like Jackie Collins or some hideous book on self-empowerment. I do not and never will want to read 'The Secret'. It's like bumper stickers for the soul.

So this year, I've been working on a geneology project. I'm printing each family their chart and framing in a cheap frame. More work than money.

No one will care.

I made homemade fabric padded cover albums one year and put pictures in them, my brother gave his to his kids to use in their tree house. My sister sold hers in a yard sale.

I don't suppose it matters.

Perhaps, I should get them all socks?

Nah. Jock straps.


I have a little shopping to do. There are Pez dispensers and rainbow suspenders to purchase.

Happy shopping.

Wish me luck.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Are you Insecure? Writing a Novel

Me too! Me too!

I'd stretching the last few years and I'm trying to write a novel. I'm much more comfortable writing poetry. And if you'll excuse the conceit, I'm a decent poet. Not startling great but decent.

Novel writing is not natural for me but it something I really want to do, at least once. After a few slow starts, I found a story that seems to appeal to readers and appeals to me. But I'm so insecure about novel writing, I hamper myself.

My workshop reviews tie me up in knots for hours. I start to wonder if I'm kidding myself. Maybe I'm not meant to write a book. Maybe the story is idiotic. It's not a traditional book. I'm not a traditional girl. But maybe I went to far down the wrong path?

I get overwhelmed. I don't know what do half the time.

Part is my concept. The book I'm writing is an grown-up adventure story. Each chapter starts with a hook and ends with a hook, much like a child's adventure book.
The larger plot is very loose, the adventure is more important than the destination. Once again, this is not how most books work.

Plus it's first person and the narrator is unreliable. The reader can't always trust her perceptions. It's like being on a roller coaster run by an eight year old hyped on sugar.

My whole concept hinges on voice. The voice of the narrator has to carry it all. But people want explanations. They want everything to be boxed off and clear and concise. But I don't think this book will ever be completely normal. But does that mean it won't be satisfying?

I really don't know.

I have tense problems. That I can fix.

The mis-spellings I can fix.

But when you're doing something new, how can you trust someone on plot? I may be wrong. What I'm doing may not work in the long run. I may never find a publisher.

But I want to finish.


I'm so afraid of failing. Of being a disappointment to my readers, I find myself not writing. Which is worse?

What do I do?

When you don't know how to dance and people give you conflicting instructions? Who do yo listen to? Or do you set down on the dance floor and just cry?

I know the book has moments when it works. I'm not lying to myself there but is that enough? If you can't give the reader the whole meal, should you even bother with the appetizer.

I don't want to fail.

But I feel like such a loser. I keep losing the voice. The character keeps going silent on me.

I feel like I'm writing underwater and all the lines are blurred.

Did I use enough metaphors here? Hah.

I'm not one of those novel writers who lives for my novel. It's not my life's blood, poetry is that for me. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe that's it. Maybe I don't love it enough.

Maybe you need to be in love with your novel.

I don't know.

I'm making myself finish this. I will write this novel.

If only to tell myself that I can write one.

But it shouldn't be this hard.

It shouldn't.

Maybe I am a failure.

I don't know.

Tomorrow is another day and another chapter.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Nikki Giovanni--another woman poet

Nikki Giovanni is one of the greatest poets that you have probably never heard of. So much of our poetic education is rooted in the past that often the more modern writers aren't appreciated while they are still alive. Known for her strong African American themes, accessible style and strong views, Nikki's poetry is one of the voices that echoes both the civil rights movement of the 1960's and still evolving black community.

She was born in 1943 in Knoxville, TN and raised in Cincinnati, OH. She was the second child of two teachers, Yolanda and Jonas. Unlike many of her predecessors, her childhood was reasonably happy. Yet, she always felt this restless need, the dissatisfaction with the way things were. Part of her growing issue with the racial situation was rooted with the problems her sister suffered.

Gary Ann, her sister, was forced to live with relatives for a while as a small child because there were only white schools available where her parents were living. Then as Gary Ann grew older, she attempted to attend a desegregated school. This negative experience scarred Nikki's entire family and began Nikki's passion for civil rights.

In 1955, Nikki and a friend staged a walk out in class when a teacher commented that Emmett Till deserved to be murdered. The school later apologized for these words but this climate of racism fueled Nikki's rebellious spirit. If you listen to her early poetry, you can feel this simmering anger underneath the words.

In the early 1960's, she was thrown out of Fisk University for aggressive and rebellious behavior. She had trouble with the strong conservative views expressed at the small black university. However after a change of management, she returned to Fisk in 1964 to complete a degree in History. While there, Nikki started Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and became the editor of the school paper,Elan.

Her early poetry in the 1960's reflected the activism and burning ideas of the time period. Over the last three decades, her poetry has become calmer, more introspective and more focused on love instead of bitterness. As the times have changed so has this poet. Her audience still seems to be of that same time period, growing with her, changing with her.

In 1967, Nikki finished her first book of poetry, Black Feeling Black Talk, and she self-published it in 1968. The same year she finished her second book titled Black Judgment. Then in the early 1970's, she helped publish one of the first black women's poetry anthologies, Night Comes Softly. The death of her beloved grandmother in 1967 and the birth of her only son in 1969 inspired to write more as both a refuge and a tribute of her life. Her work began to grow and pull in more aspects of her personal life.

Over the next twenty years, she published many of best known works such as: Ego Tripping and Other Poems for Young Readers and A Dialogue: James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni, Those Who Ride the Night Winds, Cotton Candy on A Rainy Day, Gemini (Children's Poetry)and Sacred Cows . . . And Other Edibles. There will never be enough space or time to list all of Nikki's accomplishments. Prolific and timely, she continues to grow and touch the world.

Nothing stopped her from writing even as she successfully battled lung cancer in 1995. By this time she has numerous awards, honorary degrees and speaking credits. Yet even during her her recovery, she was inducted into the National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent and accepted the Appalachian Medallion Award.

In 2004-2005, another one of her spoken word albums,The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection was nominated for a Grammy for the Spoken Word. She is a modern, living icon, representing both the civil right's era and modern African American relationships. She is currently a tenured professor at Virginia Tech.

As the years have passed, her poetry has mellowed and turned inward. She still discusses black ideas, black lives and her own ideas of how to let bitterness go. Her use of alliteration, rhythm and accessible conversation style really connect with a reader's gut and pulls them into flow of her work. That is why she will be remembered, loved, and revered.

Link to one of her poems

Is That Burger Naked?

Nothing should be simpler than an old-fashioned burger but people make it complicated. First, you can’t just order a burger, you have to pick what kind of burger. Beef, buffalo, ostrich, and this is just the first choice.

I suggest you pick beef or sirloin, these are the best two choices according to me. And it is all about me, isn’t it?

Bison/buffalo though is rather dry because of the low-fat content but it is edible. I suggest, and I rarely suggest this, put something damp on it, like ketchup. Ostrich? We are nothing even going there. And chicken is not a burger, it’s a sandwich. Big difference.

Okay, you picked your meat. Then, the bun comes along. It’s not just a bun anymore. It’s a setting. Seeded, non-seeded, toasted, white, wheat, over-sized, undersized…etc. Whatever your bread choice, the restaurant will proudly spew loving words about what they suggest on their menu. Most of that is crap.

About 40% of the calories in your burger are coming from the bun. Yes, the bun. So, is the bread that exciting now? Personally, I just take the bread off and eat the meat plain. If you don’t want do that and look weird, may I suggest throwing away the bottom part of your bun. Take the top part, cut it in half and use the halves to cuddle your meat. If you have to cuddle it. Honestly, it’s fine naked.

You have your meat and your bun.

Now, you can pick from the 83 possible toppings. Ranch, BBQ, Special Sauce, Chipolte Sauce, Italian Sauce etc… Remember, whatever you dump on your burger will cover up the meat taste. You are paying 15 bucks for this burger at a nice resturant, don’t waste the meat. Meat good…mmm.

You picked your meat, your bun, your toppings. But you aren’t done yet.

Now, pick your cheese. I’m lactose intolerant myself but you get to choose cheddar, mozzarella (or however you spell it), hot pepper cheese, or from a list of a dozen other cheeses.

Then, when that’s done, you pick the sides.

By then you’ll be exhausted from your choice selections, I suggest you lay across the table and sleep while your burger cools.

The meat is the best meat available. It’s probably Grade A USDA Angus beef. Might even be Kobe beef. Why mess it up with a pound of toppings and a dozen seasonings.

Just order the damn thing naked and enjoy it.

Burgers made simple.

My Sister Married a Yeti

What is a Yeti? A Yeti is a bigfoot, a sasquash, a big hairy man beast from the woods.

And yes, my sister married one. This is my third sister, referred to as my Third Sister from now on to keep life simple and me out of small claims court.

Her hubby, the Yeti, is tall with a full beard. The beard extends around his neck and down his belly in a festive pelt to keep him warm in the winter months. I know from a horrifying experience that involved a shorty robe and a loose belt, the body hair extends everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.

But the Yeti can't help the body fur. That's just the nature of a Yeti.

What he can help is the sweaty rope sandals with the yellow toenails hanging over the edge. Click, click,click just like a dog on concrete when he walks. Those, click, click.


He could also be gainfully employeed but my sisters rarely marry or date the employable. What's sad is that the Yeti has a law degree. Sis put him through real estate school, built him a labratory to experiment in. Experiment on what I have no idea.

I don't want to know.

When the cops show up, I want plausible deniability.

So you think, he spends all day at home, doing what he wants without even having to do housework, you think he'd at least be romantic. You know grease the marital wheels but no, not him.

He bought my sister floor mats for her birthday last year. Floor mats. How...wonderful?

This year he bought her a fixer-upper sports car. My sister is a tiny woman with a bad back, sniff knees. He loves working on cars. I wonder who that gift was for. Exactly.

I suggested she get him a body wax for his birthday. Sis thought I was kidding.

But no family member is perfect without a lobadomy and the drooling gets on my nerves so you learn to live with the occassional quirk in a relative. That's life.

What kills me is that on holidays, he brings a giant tome of some forgotten lore and spends the day with his nose buried in the book, ignoring the whole family.

Why can't I do that?


You're probably wondering why I'm telling you all this. Well, who else can I tell? My family already knows. And I'm sure he loves me as much as I love him. Is my sarcasm showing? I hope not. I work so hard at being subtle...LOL.

Family is family.

But still when I hear the click, click, click of his nails on the floor, I do close my eyes, in case he has on the shortie robe.

No need for me to see the South Pole.

This Christmas I'm buying him a life time suppy of boxers...and maybe a body brush.

Would that be rude? Probably.


I do need to get started on my Christmas shopping and then my mother's. Geez. Did you hear a click? I thought so.

I'm out of here.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

My mother, the goat, my brother, and me

I blame my mother;she blames my brother, he blames the goat. For my twelfth birthday, I asked my mother for a computer. I would have settled for a typewriter. My mother, being my mother, bought me a nanny goat at a yard sale. Yes, a goat at a yard sale. It was a helluva deal, they threw the chain in for free.

Goats, by definition, are nasty animals. They eat anything, knock over garbage, climb on the cars and they are hell to leash break. This brown nanny goat was particularly destructive. She killed my Dad's two prize peach trees, destroyed our wooden door, and the paint job on a classic Camero. I am pretty sure the neighbors had a shoot on sight order out on her. I don't blame them.

After the nanny goat demolished the car, my mother decided that the animal should probably be in a fenced area. A free roaming goat seem to attract trouble for some reason. I can't figure out why. Realizing that I'm dangerous with a hammer, my mother put my brother in charge of stringing barb-wire to keep the goat contained and I was sent to the store for milk.

Thinking back, I should have felt the impending doom. I'm walking home on the trail from the store, gallon of milk in hand. Since the trail heads downhill, I'm picking up speed at an alarming pace. Just as my house comes into view, I realize my brother has strung one roll of wire at ankle level at the bottom of the trail and, as usual, wandered off. I start windmilling my arms, trying to slow down but there is no hope of stopping now.

I trip over the wire, the milk jug flies high into the air. As I collide with the ground, I manage to kick the goat. The goat screams and runs. Only she is chained to a tree and she is yanked off her feet. The milk jug hits the ground like a bomb. Milk sprays everywhere, the goat screams again, and I am dripping wet.

Our spotted mix breed terrier runs off the back porch and starts licking up the milk. The enraged goat attacks the dog. The goat has horns; the dog is losing. I try to pull the dog away and get bit. I have a sprained ankle, a rabidly mad goat, a squirming dog, and I'm sitting in a milk pond with a bleeding hand.

I hear the back door open, I turn, expecting sympathy, and my mother says, "I hope you're going to clean up this mess. I'm not the maid."

I still blame my mother. She bought the darn goat. All I wanted was a typewriter.

Dizzy Dots: Poem

I wake with rocks in my chest
Mossy, damp ones that sit heavy
And jam rough corners into my ribs
But this, this doesn’t hurt so much,
Not like my lungs hurt
when they are too full for air.

And this wheeze is a normal thing—
--for me.
In its labored mist I see,
The suffocating yellow spots,
Those dizzy dots,
Thick as starving fleas
Already making a meal of me.

How my fingers tingle
As my chest fills with sand,
Lungs bound in tight rubber bands.
Sometimes, I drink coffee—
Hot and black,
Just to try and get my breathing back.

But one day, I might truly dare
To refuse the doctors their tainted air
Then I’ll take a restful sleep
In the airless place in-between
Where that distant ebony sea
Comforts the cold gold stars
who call to me.

In that airless place beyond the sea.

Apple Lover

I'm an apple addict. I love the sweet crunchy goodness of them. With all the varieties, there is an endless supply of new textures and tastes. Recently, my niece vehemently claimed that she hated apples. Stunned, I asked her what kind of apples did she hate and I was dumbfounded when she said, "You know, just apples."

Just apples? There is no such thing as just an apple. It was then I realized why kids don't eat apples and fruit in large quantities. Beyond the competition of candy, power bars, and soda; kids never get a chance to sample all the exciting flavors.

Schools put up posters and ads about eating more fruit, about eating apples, but then they serve small, mealy apples most of the time. The cheapest, least interesting apple option. Dry, tasteless, chewy, thick skinned apples that lay on your tongue like paste. No wonder kids say they hate apples. If a that is the only apple that you had ever tasted, you'd hate apples too.

There are so many wonderful apples worth eating. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, HoneyCrisp, Jonagolds, MacIntosh, Fuji, and Galas are just a few of the apple options. They are as varied as people.

Red Delicious are a nice basic apple. They aren't exciting but they offend the fewest people. They have a simple pale sweetness that is pleasant but not earth shattering. Golden Delicious apples, their sister apple, have thin yellow skin and the flavor is wonderfully mellow.

Granny Smith's apples vibrate with green goodness. However, they are very, very sour. These are not an apple for the weak. These are dare-devil apples. They are hard, sour, and crunchy. Actually, they are perfect for dipping into heated caramel dip. A fantastic treat for any winter day.

Gala apples are small, affordable and decent. Smooth, autumn flavor with a decent crunch. A good beginner apple for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of cash to try some new brands. Galas can be picked up any local grocery. Fuji's are slightly more biting than a Gala but they are a solid beginner apple as well.

My favorite ones are the Pink Lady apples. Pink Lady apples are the perfect blend of tart and sweet. The crunch is wonderful, the texture divine. Mmm...just thinking about Pink Ladies makes me want one. The worst thing about a Pink Lady is that they're expensive as hell and they also bruise easily.

Another new apple on the market is the exciting HoneyCrisp. It has a sharp, kicky taste that makes my tongue water with excitement. I just wish that if schools, work, and the government would like us to grab an apple-that they'd give us one worth eating.

Apples like people come in all colors, flavors, sizes, and textures. Your kids don't like apples? What kinds have they tried?

Cooking anyone?

I'm sitting here watching the finale of Top Chef and eating a bag of potato chips. And for those of you interested, the chips are plain but salty.

I love cooking shows but I don't cook for the most part. I bake occasionally or throw together a homemade pizza but making a meal? Not so much. It's not that I can't cook, I can, but it's my constitutional right not to.

What's super funny is that I spent two hours last night cooking for the dogs. Is that not sad? Truly it is. The BlackDog, the old smelly one, is having stomach issues and she is on a salt-free, low-fat diet. Yeah, I know, my dog is has better health care than you. Me as well.

The first thing to figure out when cooking at my house is what to cook in. I don't have a single pot. No, I really don't, not even under the sink. I do have four pizza pans and three bake dishes. And, of course, one small cast iron skillet. I'm required by my genetic roots to own a cast iron skillet even if I don't cook much in it. I keep it oiled and ready, just in case I decided to make fried potatoes.

You never know. I could get a potato craving.

So I bought a foil turkey pan for three dollars at the grocery store. Threw in some cheap, discounted chicken legs and some water. Turned the knob on the stove and stopped when I felt lucky. What? You think the dog will complain if it's tough? Doubt it.

I roasted/boiled the legs in the oven for what seemed forever. When it seemed done and I had a nice chicken stock (which is cooked chicken juice to all of you non-cooks like me), I poured in the rice. I put it back in the oven and waited for the end to come.

It took forever. Well, maybe another half an hour, seemed like forever. The chicken is done, the rice seems done enough. Can you ruin rice for a dog? Dunno.

I poured in the cut green beans. Not the french cut beans, no dog likes french cut, you can't pick them up. I let the green beans warm in the oven a bit. I told you, I don't have a pot. Oven or nothing.

I ease out the big tub of food and burn the tops of both hands.

I sit it on the stove, forgetting I flipped on the burner a few minutes earlier before I realized I had nothing cook green beans in. The turkey pan is not equipped for the stove, did you know that? Me either. Let's say the smell was horrendous. There was smoke, the fire alarm went nuts, the burner caught fire.

I'm out of flour too. Finally I settled for throwing a plate over it and hoping for the best. I lived and the house is still here. BUT I spent the next two hours beating on the fire alarm, it was stuck on again. I hate that bloody thing. Another reason never to cook.

So fire out, food done, most of the smoke is gone.

I scrape the chicken from the bones and mix it back in.

I plate it up for the dogs and served it.

The three dogs sniffed the plates, looked at each other, then checked out each other's dishes. No one ate anything. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

I pick up a plate and start waddling after the dog, holding under BlackDog's nose to try to entice her. I got growled at. My other two dogs hid.

Oh bloody hell.

I drop the plates in the floor and beat on the fire alarm a bit more. The dogs creep up to the food. Sniff, sniff, sniff. It's not poisoned. At least not on purpose.

Henry Dog eats only the big pieces of chicken.

Tirzah Dog eats only the super tiny chicken pieces.

BlackDog finally eats! But only the green beans. Darn her!

I have three pounds of chicken scented rice now that no one will eat.

I forgot to eat.

Anyone for Chinese?



Who Is Dorothy Parker? Women Writers

Dorothy Parker was a poet, an activist and a bitch. She wasn’t an easy woman to get along with and she didn’t care that she was difficult. Born in 1893 in New Jersey, she lost her mother at an early age and she detested her Roman Catholic stepmother. Her stepmother passed on three years later. Her father became incapacitated and Dorothy cared for him until his death when she was twenty.

She married briefly in 1917 to a alcoholic drug-addicted stockbroker. She divorced him in 1919. Setting her pattern of loving men who were incapable of loving her. In all other parts of her life she was a woman of unflinching confidence but when it came to men, she just couldn’t get it right. She had several well-known affairs, an abortion and several suicide attempts. Even when she married her second husband (both times), Arthur Campbell, she still had affairs. She drank too much and the alcohol use aggravated her depressive episodes.

For all her flaws, she was a witty, brilliant woman. She wrote for Vanity Fair from 1916 to 1920. Her play on words made the public squeal and beg for more. Her mouth got her fired in 1920, when she insulted some very important people. Dorothy embroiled herself into the Jazz Age and began turning out poetry and short stories in earnest.

Her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope published in 1926. Several other books followed including Death and Taxes and Sunset Guns. Her commentaries on society, her dark humor and her intelligence won her critical and public attention. By the end of the 1920’s, she started getting more involved in social causes. She involved herself in protests and even got herself arrested for her beliefs.

After the stock market crash of 1929 and the demise of the Jazz Age, Parker became increasingly disturbed by the growth of fascism in Europe. Although, she never joined the Communist Party, she declared herself a communist in the 1930’s. This statement would cause her to be blackballed in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era and the red scare of the 1950’s.

During World War II, she tried repeatedly to be allowed to be a war correspondent but she couldn’t get permission from the government. Her work also became more political. She involved herself in civil right issues and became increasingly vocal about her views.

As her life evolved so did her work. Her poetry is rather ordinary in rhyme and form. Its her voice that captures the audience. Her conversational tone and rebellious views on both society and love hit a respondent in the audience. Yet, many miss the underlying rage of her poems. The dark laughter of her pieces conceal the anger against her expected role in society, in the uselessness of it all, and of the lack of meaning in her life.

This rage against societal expectations is another reason her work is different from the other feminist writings of the 1920’s. Where Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s women refuse to be boxed by society, Parker’s women are trapped by those expectations. This is perhaps why her work has fallen into disfavor since the 1950’s. Her women can’t seem to save themselves. They can’t seem to use the rage they feel to make any real changes in their world

Yet, during the 20’s and 30’s, Dorothy won numerous awards and was published constantly. Her story, “The Big Blonde” won the O award. She worked on the revised script for “A Star is Born” as well as many other films. It is a pity that for many years, her was forgotten. It has only been recently that critics have once again began exploring her body of work.

After the death of her second husband by accidental overdose in 1963, she spent the last four years of her life deserted by everyone she knew. Alone, she died of a heart attack and was discovered by a maid at her hotel. She left the bulk of her estate to Martin Luther King Jr. She believed strongly in civil rights and hoped that what little she had would aid that effort.

My favorite poem of Dorothy Parker’s is Resume. The sound of the poem is upbeat, in contrast to the subject matter which is suicide. All the ending words are about the effect of suicide attempts except two words: live and give. The noose gives and you live and if suicide is so difficult and painful, is the pain of life any worse? Perhaps, its just easier to live than to bother to kill yourself. What intriguing about this poem is that she manages to make the poem truthful, funny and discussion of life’s meaninglessness in less than two sentences.


Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.






Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back Up Your Writing!

Ah, you write the last sentence of the final paragraph of your 200,000-word epic American Novel and you hit save. You’re exhausted, you’re elated. You’re just a little bit smug. I’m sure you’ve hit Twitter to brag to all your writing frenemies out there in the web world.

Then, the next morning you push your computer’s little ‘Go’ button and the screen remains mysteriously black. Mmm, that doesn’t look good. You check all the cords and it’s plugged in. You hit the button again, several times. Because repeatedly hitting it always works…lol. Still, just a black screen.

Now, your heart is pounding, little droplets of sweat start to stream down the crack of your ass (the sign of real desperation).

You call all your friends, a couple of enemies, and even your sister’s idiot husband who thinks he’s good with computers. Nothing works.

Nearly hysterical by this point, you get in the car in pajamas and flip-flops and drive to the nearest computer fix-it shop. You hold your broken laptop out to the 12-year old with the name tag and blubber, “ahbubhabib broken, boghsdiguy novel”, which he understands as ‘My computer is broken, please retrieve my novel.’

Only three hundred dollars later you know your laptop is dead forever. The boney kid swilling AMP at nine in the morning manages to save a couple of files. You have the draft of six chapters, about twenty-thousand words.

You literally lie down on the sidewalk and wait to die. God is not merciful.

Eventually, the police make you get up. Authority figures rarely understand the pain of losing your writing. And it’s best to go the heck home to start all over on your novel or to throw yourself on the bed and scream. Whatever works for you.

If you’re in an apartment, I suggest you scream with your head buried in your hypo-allergenic pillow. Neighbors don’t understand creative pain either.

Next, you’ll twitter all your friends about your bad luck. Several of them have the nerve to snicker a bit at your expense.

Don’t let this be you!

How can you avoid the humiliation?

First, back up your writing in multiple places. At the very least, set up a free yahoo or g-mail account and email each chapter to yourself. This way it’s waiting in a third party email account that you can access from anywhere.

Second, put it on a flash drive. Then put your flash drive where children can’t flush it down the toilet. Don’t trust the dog around it either. My male dog did something unspeakable to my flash drive that I can’t even repeat here for fear the porn police will arrest me.

Third, put it on an old-fashion disc. There’s a reason we used those things all these years.

Fourth, sign up for a third party writing site that allows you to load your writing but not display it. I use a couple of these sites to ‘store’ my writing for emergencies.

And the last thing to remember is not to dwell on what’s lost. It’s gone. Have a good cry, a beer, or kick a stuffed teddybear but get over it. Either re-write it or write something new.

And back your writing up!

But if you forget and erase something, remember to tell everyone how great it was. After all, they can’t prove otherwise, now can they?

Good Writing!

Let the Dog Go

When do you let go? My oldest dog will be sixteen years old in a few months. She's a cranky, slightly bitter Pom with an attitude. I adore her. On Christmas night two years ago, Katie(the dog) grew lethargic and collapsed. One Veterinary Emergency Room visit later and we are home with a bag of pills and a bill for three hundred dollars.

The frightening diagnosis is congestive heart failure. The following morning, I take her to my regular vet who gives her a larger collection of pills. By 1am on the morning of the 27th , I’m back at the emergency room. Katie can’t breath. Fluid is in the sac around her heart and it is suffocating her. I take her to a specialist, he puts her on a salt free diet, Digoxin, Lasik, and a heart rhythm pill.

The total bill is nearing seven hundred dollars.

Katie coughs half the night. I’m averaging almost three straight hours of sleep each night. I'm utterly exhausted. I wonder if putting her to sleep would be kinder for both of us. Yet, none of the vets will agree or disagree with me. I feel like the vets think that I should keep trying, that I’m giving up too easily. Yet they, in turn, inform me that she might have a year. A whole year of endless coughing, of strangling in her own juices. Great. Yet, not a single one of them recommended euthanasia.

The decision is all mine it seems. Katie's breathing is often labored and her usual endless energy is gone. The last vet added a narcotic cough suppressant to her array of medications. She gets four medications about three to four times a day. She sleeps most of the time when she isn’t coughing.

The finally total on the bill is just over nine hundred and twenty three dollars.

The Human Society of the United States estimates that 63% of homes contain at least one or more dogs and that an average person spends about $220.00 dollars on health care for their pet each year. This is average cost is if your pet is relatively healthy. If your animal has a chronic illness or significant health issue, the expense starts to snowball rather quickly.

Americans love their dogs. Most of us buy high-designer foods, fancy dog beds, and worry about our dog’s emotion and physical health. My three dogs get their teeth cleaned, get regular check ups, and the one had a visit to a canine optimologist. Don’t male dog has early onset glaucoma.

As you may guess, I adore my dogs.

Yet even as a die-hard dog lover, I have to ask when enough is enough. My Katie is an elderly dog. She’s had a good, full life. Most of the time now, she’s exhausted or drugged out of her mind. She doesn’t even get excited when I bring home take-out.

Fifteen years ago, there wouldn’t have been any choices for a dog with Katie’s heart problems at her age. I would have been told to either take her home and try to keep her comfortable until she passed or put her down. With modern advances in canine medicine, now I’m given option after option, drug after drug, until I’m nearly broke and the dog is still miserable.

Veterinarians seem hesitant to bring up putting Katie to sleep. But isn’t it in Katie’s best interest to end her pain and let her move on? What is the point of dragging her inevitable death out over several months with her strung out on narcotics so I can ‘save’ her life?

Plus, as crude as it sounds, money is an issue. I’ve already spent nearly 1,000 dollars on her care in less than a month. I am a single woman with a low income job. This is a tremendous amount of money to me. I have two other dogs to support. I am horrified that money is part of my decision but I have to eat, pay the mortgage and it isn’t like I can get doggie hospice care.

As a dog lover, don’t I have the obligation to say enough is enough for both of us?

Veterinary medicine continues to become more advanced, offering cancer treatments, heart surgeries, and even insulin shots. But as a dog owner, I’m overjoyed and horrified by all the options. Just because a dog’s life can be extended, it doesn’t mean it should. One must always take in to account the quality of life you are offering your beloved furry friend. I think vets should really consider that sometimes with a dog’s age and condition, a quiet death truly is the kindest thing.

As for Katie, our time together is growing short. In the last month, she's had three separate vet office emergencies. I am letting those that love her say good-bye this holiday. Soon, I'll help her leave her pain behind. I’ll cry the whole time but whether or not the vet agrees, I think it is in her best interest.

The Importance of Cake

Good chocolate cake is one of the most perfect things in the universe. Its light, fluffy, like eating air. And the icing...mmm...the icing should be creamy, milk chocolate with no nasty cocoa residue or bitter tang. Chocolate cake shouldn't be abused with fruit filling, inflated with mousse, or chunked up with chips or sprinkles. Cake should be a spiritual experience: simple, pure flavor that bursts on the tongue like rapture.

It is nearly impossible in the age of pre-processed foods and boxed desserts to get anything like a simple piece of cake in a restaurant. Instead, diners are served multi-tiered layers of bitter chocolate stuffed with pudding and mocha shavings layered over dense, stale cake. It disgusts me.

Yet, I am ever the optimist. In the endless nights of waiting, I often find myself sitting in dingy diners, forgotten coffee houses, and a bar. If cake is on the menu, I always order it and wait to be impressed.

Then my endless nights of cake tasting caught up with me. My doctor gave me the news that I needed to trim my expanding waistline and reduce my blood pressure. I found it depressing to think that my days of cake tasting were over. But as any true cake lover will tell you, if there is a will then there is a way.

I decided that there had to be a way to make a moist, fairly low calorie cake that tastes good.

3 egg whites
1/4 to 1/2 a can of Diet Soda. Yes, add diet soda instead of oil.
1/2 cup of water.
3/4 to 1 cup of Splenda* (add to taste)
1 cup of cake flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 to 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder

*I always taste the batter. If it tastes bitter, then add extra Splenda. Splenda is a sugar substitute. No one wants bitter chocolate.
*If it is dry after blending, add more water. Do this slowly. If you add too much, the batter will become watery and not rise correctly.

Mixing and Baking Instructions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
2) Grease non-stick pan with calorie free cooking spray or butter spray
3) Beat egg whites, soda, and Splenda together
4) Add water (Mix cocoa powder with warmed water).
5) Add the salt, flour, and your baking soda
6) Mix and bake approximately 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed from the center cleanly.

Sometimes with soda cakes, you have to bake them slightly longer.

Lazy Version: Take one chocolate cake mix, replace eggs with egg whites, replace oil with diet soda and water, and then mix and bake as directed on the back of the box. I often prefer the lazy version.

I have never been the one to try to make icing from scratch so I am going to keep this simple. Take a can of Milk Chocolate Icing, mix in a cup of Fat-Free Whipped Cream. This will make the icing fluffier, lighter, and reduce the calories. Spread your icing only thinly, I try for the thickness of a quarter turned on its side.

Cut into 8 to 10 pieces if your mix your own. If you use a box cake, then just cut into the servings listed.

Is this the best cake in the world? No, but it is a good cake and the calories are significantly reduced.

I still dream of my perfect piece of chocolate cake. But I also dream of living to a ripe old age so it is a trade off. I hope you enjoy my Diet Soda Cake; I know I always do.

If you have your own favorite recipe for cake, then just substitute egg whites for or eggs, diet soda for oil, and water for milk. However, it is usually best to keep the diet soda to under six ounces total. Too much soda makes the cake very crumbly and overly-moist.

A Cancer Rant

Fuck cancer.

I’m tired of that evil little monster lurking in the shadows, waiting to devour me and mine. I watched my brother die of brain and spinal cancer. He screamed that bats were flying at his head and begged for us to kill him. We just had to watch as it ate him from the inside out.

Cancer killed my aunts, my uncles; chewed at the edges of my family until each time we feel a twinge, we are terrified that it has come to devour us as well. A few years ago, it killed my nephew. Hollowed his bones, destroyed his lungs, and grew tumors in his joints. He died crying.

If cancer were a dragon, I could wear a suit of armor and hunt it down. Burn it, beat it and tear it into tiny bits. If it were alive, I could kill it but instead it’s a bomb wired into my genetic code. I can hear it inside; ticking, ticking and I know I’m going to die. Not softly, not quietly, but in terrible pain.

If that was it; I’d be OK. I wouldn’t relish death by torture but I could face it. What would be worse is if I am the only one who survives. What if I watch them all die? What if they all die screaming with only me to hold their hands?

Fuck you, cancer.

I don’t want talk cures anymore. I don’t want talk about radiation, chemotherapy, or holistic juice diets. I don’t believe in gene therapy or prayer. I don’t want to share my feelings with a counselor. I don’t to want have a child to see its swollen face contorted in endless vomiting.

Cancer is going to kill me. It may even make me beg for mercy in the end but, for now, I’m alive. I laugh, I dance, I paint the walls orange. It may even kill everyone I ever loved but I’ll make it work for every minute it steals from me.

Cancer, be warned; I will not go gentle into that good night. If you come for me, be prepared for a fight.

In parting, I say with all sweetness, "Fuck you, cancer."