Thursday, July 23, 2015

Haiku 1

I've never wanted
Any thing
That is the whole point

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Horse Story

I was on the phone with my grandmother.  I was thinking of when I was little and she would take me with her to feed cattle around town back when she was, as far as I was concerned, a professional cowgirl.  In reality I think she was hired by the owners of some vacant lots to take care of tax-break purposed cattle: de-worm the cows, feed them, save the random horse from a mud pit, etc.  She worked daily on the home-base ranch, a fifteen-minute drive south of her suburban home.

I was thinking about all the mornings--it must have only been on weekend mornings, but it fills my memory so much it might as well have happened every day--that we woke up before dawn to make the rounds to several grocery stores for their bakeries’ day-old pastries. We'd throw them into huge black garbage bags, hoist them in the back of my grandmother’s sky blue jeep, and haul the load to the different pastures to feed what seemed like all of the cows in the county. A five-year old doesn’t pay attention to such trivial things as road signs, but I can see the front gate of each place.  The state's major beef export must have been quite sweet in those days with the cows’ blood oozing with cheese Danishes, glazed doughnuts, and pumpernickel bread.  Grandma always let me pick something fresh from the first bakery before we took our loot. I always chose a Long John.

She wanted to know why I was asking about the cattle and I had no good answer.  I just remembered days of horses and cows, traveling to the middle of the state in a giant white Dueley truck attached to a giant white trailer to sell cattle at a small auction house with a little diner attached to it. I wanted the adult facts to complete my childish recounts of getting corndogs at the diner counter and waitresses in light blue polka dotted dresses and pink ruffled aprons would take my order.  Or that could be what happened, mixed with my memory of old episodes of “Rosanne.”  The quaint antiquity of the diner stuck in the fifties, once a comforting and satisfying treat at the end of our long trip north, now seems sticky with twenty-year old grease, the charm disillusioned by facts learned through life.  The diner was gross really; dirty, and filled with ignorant, old countrified white men.  The corndog was probably… well, of unknown origin.

Then there were, of course, the horses. Each one had a completely unique personality, just like people. Heidi was mine. My grandmother bought her for me when I was 6 years old and her name was Kansas. The previous owner said she liked to be called “K” names, but I had just seen the movie, “Heidi,” featuring Shirley Temple, for the first time and I was having none of it. My horse would be named Heidi and that was that. Heidi was previously a barrel racing horse. That means she would be raced in the rodeo arena around 3 barrels with a rider on her in a special configuration as fast as she could. She was a small Quarter horse, plain brown with dark brown mane and tail. I dressed her in purple reins and bridle. I washed her. I rode her. I loved nothing more than to take her on trail rides. Even then I had no interest in going fast; I just liked to take things slow, observe, drink in everything around me. Heidi didn’t seem to mind this. She was very intuitive and in tune with what I wanted and where I wanted to go. She was not haughty like our Black Arabian. She was not stubborn like our golden Palomino. She was like a mother to me, and I was her wild little pony.

Caught in the throws of curious reminiscence and childhood, I felt a strange desire take hold, like oil seeping through the wall, slowly becoming more visible—a wet, black spot, enlarging, but always an amoeba, shapeless.  I asked my Grandma to keep all those poems she wrote that she showed me when I was little.

“Write for me,” I asked. 

“What do you want me to write about?” she asked. 

“Everything. Start from the beginning and don’t stop.” I said.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I met my uncles for drinks at a local bar. Amid free vodka tonics and the usual howdya-dos to all of their friends, I watched on as the singer strummed his guitar under beads of sweat.

"He's straight," they said. "I wonder why he would choose to take a gig in a gay bar. Look at all these guys trying to get him drunk."

They were, indeed, filling the sweet-faced young singer with shots after almost every song. He sang covers and everyone around the bar clapped and sang along, whooped and hollered when each was done. Certainly, by the end of his set, there was no way he was not drunk. It was a wonder he wasn't slurring his lyrics.

Soon, it was time to leave. On our way out of the bar, a man reached for my arm over my leather jacket. "Oh, aren't you cute? Lookin' all grungyyyy and damagedddd..." It was supposed to be a compliment I think, but it kind of sounded like he was glorifying damaged people more than attempting a compliment. Uncle saw this and pushed me through to the door. Once we were outside, my uncles interrogated me about what the strange man at the bar had said to me. Uncle wanted to go back and punch him.

"Damaged? I'll damage him! What an asshole," he said. I tried to explain that it was fine, he was just a silly drunk guy, but it took a whole block of convincing before he let the matter go. Not until I got in my car and started driving home did it hit me like a ton of bricks. Tears started welling up and all of a sudden it sounded like the bellow of a wounded beast coming out of my mouth. I cried all the way home and even sat in my car a while after. He was right. The strange drunk man was right on the fucking ball. It seems no matter where you go, you can't outrun those goddamned gay-ngels, reader. Just when you least expect it, they pop the fuck out of nowhere and let you know what's what. I closed my eyes and recalled another drive, just months before.

All within the span of a week, I broke up with my girlfriend, I got a speeding ticket, a pissy meter man had slapped me with a parking ticket, and my cell phone was busted in a pitch black hotel room on my grandma's midnight rendezvous to some candy stashed in her bag. Now, sitting in my car drunk and tear stained, I recalled the subsequent cross-country drive with said grandma in a car with little to no AC.

We were driving through the southwest. I bit my nail and watched out of my peripheral my hair fly in and out of the window as I drove. My grandmother, incapable of having a pleasant thought throughout the duration of the trip, sometimes even contradicting herself in case she did, sat next to me.

"'Live Oak?'" she'd scoff. "We have a 'Live Oak' back home. Probably more alive than this one!" And, "Presidential? Yeah, right. Like the president would travel in that RV." And upon seeing a parrot, "We have some pretty parrots... Yeah, well we also have some ugly parrots," as if she was fighting herself.

At one point we saw a young woman on the side of the road obviously having car trouble. "I hope she is okay," I said. "It's pretty dangerous for a young woman to be alone on the side of a road."

"No it's not," said my grandmother.


"I have been stuck on the side of the road before and people have been very nice."

"That's great. But statistically, it really is dangerous for a young wom-"

"Nope. It's only true if you believe it, and I refuse to believe it."

I pulled my keys out of the ignition on and stared at them. They'd changed so much over the last decade--I wished they hadn't. Where I was going, I wasn't going to be needing them -- or any keys -- for a long time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Pee Story

We were driving along an alligator-lined highway in a long, pitch black stretch without any rest stops and I had to pee really badly. For some reason, we had a really large empty soft drink cup. I guess that’s probably why I had to pee so badly. We decided to stop on the side of the road so I could pee in the large vessel because there was no way I was getting out on the side of the road to pee on a dark deserted highway. We stopped and put the hazards on. I grabbed some napkins from the glove box, hopped in the back seat and took down my pants.

The release was sweet and satisfying, especially with “Careless Whisper” playing on the radio in the background.  Suddenly I noticed the cup was getting hefty and I wasn’t even close to done. I decided to dump the cup out the window and continue, but just as I was about to roll the window down I saw a bright light in the rearview mirror and felt myself become lit up from behind. My girlfriend turned around to see me pantless, in the middle seat, my face contorted in panic and shaking a cupful of urine that was now dripping onto the tissue paper I was squatting over. I had noticed a gift bag from the present my grandma had given me only hours before. I had snatched the tissue paper from the pretty pastel bag and spread them out beneath me on the back seat for extra protection. Her mouth dropped. The music was too much. “Turn around!” I yelled.

I had to get rid of the evidence. I couldn’t be ticketed holding a vat of my own pee. Thinking it was some kind of law enforcement, I quickly flung the now dripping cup of piss out the window and it left the cup in a dramatic slow-motion arch into the grass outside. I balled up the tissue paper, pulled up my pants, and yanked a towel I saw crumpled on the floor of the backseat and dabbed the leather dry. The gentleman stopper, who we now saw was a tow truck, shined his brights. We turned off our hazards in hopes that it would give him the message. It did. He pulled back and drove away, leaving me half full of pee and all in a flutter, with George Michael in the background pleading "Ah haa, haa." 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

APA: a work of non fiction

Good afternoon, reader. How was your day? A threesome, you say? Well, bully for you. Today I had the unique pleasure of helping a student who wanted to know how to cite a source with APA style footnotes. Naturally, like the good librarian that I am, I looked up an APA guide book for him. I got the book from the shelves, handed it to him. He took it, glared at it, and said, "I don't have time for this."

Apparently this scholar, who made it all the way into an institution of higher learning and had been entrusted with the mission of doing scholarly research, did not have time to refer to citation rules. Seeing that I was merely being solicited to act as a human encyclopedia and not having the will to stop my nerdy, nerdy librarian self, I flipped back to the index of the APA reference book to find on which page "footnotes" were talked about. I scrambled to the page, pointed my finger and said, "There."

He begrudgingly took the book from me. I was half expecting him to hand it back and ask me  read it out loud to him as if it were a great Austenian novel.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Reader, this was written back in late November 2011, but your librarian is a huge procrastinator. So I apologize, but better late than never:

(spoiler alert) Reader, I never intended for this blog to be a book review blog, but I just finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and out of English-major habit, no sooner after sliding the book into the library drop box did I start sketching out my literary critique of this book as if it were 30% of my grade for a lit class. And then I realized that I have a forum on which, not only can I write, but I can write about whatever the hell I want. So, here it goes.

As usual, this New York Times Best-seller hyped-up story (because I will not deign to call this a novel) was just that: a good story. Now before you get your Superman undies in a knot, hear me out. I am fully aware that this book has been translated from another language to English and, believe you me, I have accounted for this little factoid. My critique lies not in the word choices--like "petrol station" instead of gas station--but in the content and structure of the story itself.

Plot hole: In chapter 11, nowhere does it address the issue that Vanger's generosity to Millenium is unnecessary. If he were going to give Blomkvist devastating evidence about Wennerstrom, then Blomkvist would be able to re-run his story exposing Wennerstrom correctly and regain the paper's success, avoiding the need for Vanger's financial help. He just had to wait it out.

Character breech: If Blomkvist was as skeptical of Vanger in the beginning as the story portrays (and given that he is as good of an investigative report that the story claims), then after he learned that Erika and Vanger had made arrangements behind his back, he would have wondered whether or not Vanger was in cahouts with Wennerstrom, especially considering that Wennerstrom had used a similar tactic to trip Blomkvist up previously. Surely Blomkvist would have thought about the possibility that Vanger might have been pretending to have Blomkvist's and the paper's best interest at heart, meanwhile he was actually taking Blomkvist out of the picture to run the paper into the ground for good.

Character breech: In chapter 8, when Vanger is showing Blomkvist around Hedeby Island, telling him about its inhabitants, he starts explaining Cecilia as shrewd, but on the other hand "...she's one of my relatives for whom I have the highest regard," he tells Blomkvist. Blomkvist replies, "Does that mean that you don't suspect her?" Vanger retreats, "I wouldn't say that. I want you to ponder the matter without any constraints." Later on, in chapter 13, Vanger reverses from trying to keep his opinion out of Blomkvist's research and says, "Cecilia? I don't think she had anything to do with Harriet." Blomkvist pushes on, explaining how Cecilia's closeness to Harriet makes her a possible suspect in his book and Vanger persists, "Mikael, I'm fond of Cecilia. She can be tricky to deal with, but she's ne of the good people in my family." Well, methinks the lady doth protest too much. Although it may have been a device of Larsson's used to steer the reader toward a suspicion of the wrong character (in this case, Cecilia), it comes at a cost of a breech of character for Vanger.

Character breech: In the story, Blomkvist, we learn, has just been burned by the sting of an investigation report gone awry. It does not make sense, therefore, that he should be so absent-minded as to go snooping around a possible serial killer's house in the middle of the night after being shot at earlier that day (by probably the same person) in chapter 23.

Character breech: In chapter 27, Blomkvist is sick with despair about not going public with the "appalling crimes" he had dug out from the Vanger family history. He laments, "He who had lambasted his colleagues for not publishing the truth, here he sat, discussing, negotiating even, the most macabre cover-up he had ever heard of." Just one chapter prior, however, Blomkvist had sat talking with a worried Harriet Vanger about her family's horror stories and had promised, "I'm not thinking of exposing you. I've already breached so many rules of professional conduct in this whole dismal mess that the Journalists Association would undoubtedly expel me if they knew about it." For one so concerned not to misconduct an investigation for the second time, Blomkvist certainly makes a quick turn-around proclaiming truth and justice of reporting in spite of his ill-gotten information AND his promise to Harriet to keep his lips sealed.

Overly flowery and out of place syntax and diction not found anywhere else in the book can be found in chapter 29: "She felt high, as if she had consumed some inappropriate and presumable illegal substance." Not to mention this circumlocutious sentence is out of character for Lizbeth.

Plot hole: In the last chapter it states: "He had not talked to his daughter since [she visited him on Hedeby Island]. He was not a good father." This seemingly important aspect of Blomkvist's character should have been brought up a long time ago to make it have any impact at all... Like at the beginning of the story.

Breech of character: In the last chapter, another emotional epiphany comes out of left field for Lizbeth: "What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst." I say Larsson shouldn't try to describe emotions and should focus more on keeping his characters, well, in character.