Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that my sister is a DJ for a local radio station. I think she’s been official for about a year now, but she’s been with the station for much longer. It’s been a cool thing to see unfold, since she worked at the University of Washington station and interned at KEXP for a long time. I know people pick and choose which radio personalities and hosts they like, and some people don’t like certain voices or styles, but I think she’s good at her job. Friends and people I don’t know tell me they like her on-air too. I think she’ll be there for a while.

I mention this not only because I think it’s a cool thing, but also to say that Franny is getting interested in being a DJ now. We’ve been watching Veronica Mars together, and in the third season a college radio station is prominently featured.

“Being a DJ would be so cool,” Franny said one night after we were done with an ep.

“You know, your aunt…is a DJ,” I said.

“Oh yeah!”

“She knew she wanted to do music in high school and she did a job shadow in Olympia with Calvin Johnson. Maybe you could ask if you could watch what she does at the radio station?”

And she did. I have been trying to talk her into signing up for an email address, because I know she’ll need one for high school next year. This was my chance–I asked her to email her aunt about this. Morgan was wildly enthusiastic and she managed to get Franny in for a pretty typical (but exciting) day on her show where a band comes into the studio and plays live and there is a little Q&A. Franny was even able to introduce a Depeche Mode song. I believe she is being recruited.

I let Franny borrow my camera and she took a ton of pictures. There’s just a couple here (I will throw the rest onto Flickr for posterity) but I uploaded the ones she came home with and turned them into a little printed album for a keepsake.


Franny with The Thumpers

My sister has just moved within a couple of neighborhoods of me for the first time in…ever? I am excited to be seeing her more, but I’m also glad that Franny can make more of a connection with her. Morgan’s kind of a bridge (nine years younger than me, thirteen older than Franny) and knows about things I don’t and can give her advice that I can’t. Yay for family.

“What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.”

1.

It’s good that I’m writing so much this week, even though the reasons are crappy. I don’t think I mentioned I was supposed to be at FogCon again last weekend, and I’m super bummed I had to cancel due to not being able to walk or stand. SMALL DETAILS. I did a metric asston of writing after I got back last year and I didn’t even care that I had just started a new role at work and that it was super stressful. Then I think work kind of ate me for a while and I did no writing except around xmas. I tried to substitute running for writing last fall, but it was boring and then I got sick for a month in October. Writing begets writing, too. When I am writing offline, I am blogging more.

Can I say as an aside I feel like I almost never run into anyone who has, like, a three-day or even a week-long cold anymore? It seems like it’s always this epic that lasts for a six weeks wherein three different things are contracted? I know that happens to me and all of my friends.

Maybe the point is this is like one of those time travel tropes where you can go back and give the girl the tampon/ray gun/std in time, but the writing will still happen somehow. You cannot stop it. That sounds good. All I am doing right now is sleeping (exhausted) and peeing, like a baby.

2.

I think of my dogs as coworkers, perhaps in part because I do actually take them to work most days. There are always there, reliable, acting sane (for dogs). They would lay down in front of an avalanche of waffles for me and their little jaws would not stop moving until they went into a carb coma. Edith would probably poot herself to death since she doesn’t seem to handle wheat well.

And yet I think there is this part of me who still likes cats better. They speak to me more with their fickleness and irrational hatreds. I know that dogs have become our mirrors, and I hear a lot of people say that they are more like people, but I think cats are more human. Tiny walnut brains. Confusion. Taking out against something for obscure reasons. Loving other people, things, or cats for even more obscure reasons. Dogs, at least ones who aren’t severely damaged or bred to only love people who are 5’3″ falconry buffs who smell of sage, have public hearts. Cats have secret, unpredictable hearts.

Goethe’s heart feels she should make sweet love to every device I try to interact with.

This is my take on cats: some cats like no one. That’s unfortunate. Some cats like everyone okay, or even a lot, but don’t seem to have a special person. Some cats are lucky, and they love multiple people, which is good, because sometimes people go away or are separated. I have acquired used cats and they have taken a liking to me. I hope they are not pining too hard over lost loves.

Goethe likes me best. I am her person. I realized recently that everyone else I live with finds her slightly hateful, because she is, to them. She is pretty much always nice to me. When I bailed her out of the pound in November the volunteers in the back cheerfully went back to retrieve her and then one returned a few minutes later, empty-handed and frowning, sporting some new claw marks on her forearm.

“Could you…come back and get her?”

“WOW!” Gertie said, when she saw me. She always yells at me with this little pinhead squeak. She swirled around her cell and came forward when I reached for her. “MEW! MEW! MEW!” She sank her claws into my shoulder as she hugged me and banged her head on my face. “Where have you been?” she asked, drooling and purring.

“Oh, good,” the volunteer said, relieved.

“Has she been a jerk?” I asked.

“Well…I’m just surprised to see you holding her. No one else has been able to touch her.”

“I’m her person,” I explained, which was the first time I realized it was true. “And I’m sorry about your arms.”

Sometimes I pet her and sometimes she pets herself on my finger or knuckle. And sometimes we have a lazy standoff where I press my finger to her face and she does nothing. She is no Nietzsche but she’ll do.

My coworker. Note the sliver of my sad red feverish face in the background. SMEXY.

3.

As a small catty P.S., I will say that something interesting happened when I was out of town last month. I boarded the cats, even though my sister was house sitting, because between her coming and going and the contractors, I did not want a cat to disappear and have that be my sister’s problem.

Last time I boarded Mere and Goethe together in their “large” room, which was a nice cube not quite wide enough to hold a bed…maybe like a large closet. It has a window and many levels. This was not available for our recent trip, so I went with two separate cages in a room with a few other cats. There was the option of Mere and Goethe being let out a couple of times a day together to look out the windows and stretch their legs.

Something that always made me sad about their mother-daughter dynamic is that Mere would always beat Goethe’s ass, and Matilida’s, before we lost her. When we got them back from boarding I expected a huge explosion of fighting as they settled down again, but it didn’t come. A day after we got home, I discovered that Mere was grooming Goethe, which was a thing she had not done since Goethe was a tiny kitten.

I thought of this just now when Goethe came to visit me in bed this morning and bang her face on my Kindle, and I discovered the back of her neck was all wet. Thanks, Mom.

Two Bellinis and the Hinge

On Sunday I went to tea for my birthday. It was really nice and I got much more atrociously stuffed than I did in San Francisco recently.

My family isn’t particularly long-lived, but a lot of this could have to do with things like fried food, trailer parks, and basically any kind of shit that you could imagine from Raising Arizona that happened to end up on the cutting room floor. I’ve tipped over the other side of 35 and so it feels like I am on the hinge of my life. I am certainly having my midlife crisis now. It’s going really well. I promise I will write about it when statutes of limitations expire.

I will tell you that I’ve been smoking for the past few months, like a moron. I always had a “reason” before, no matter how specious, but I can’t really justify it lately. It was always court stress, or moving, or general homicidal notions. Now, nothing is really wrong and I am still smoking. I smoked like a chimney in California and I tried to pull my favorite smoking buddy there out into the street with me and she declined.

“I switched to an e-cigarette,” she said.

“Ah.” This was disappointing and also kind of a relief. It’s hard not to be happy that someone you like quit smoking, right?

“I had gum surgery,” she said.

“Oh no.”

“Yes. And my husband said, ‘After you have surgery, why don’t you just quit smoking?’ So I have this e-cigarette but I never really want it because I know it’s there.”

I thought about this for a long time like I always do. It takes me a million years to think about anything. Sometimes it takes me a whole week to get mad about something. It’s just how it is. I know how it is to have something in your hip pocket that feels better for just knowing that it’s there.

I heard what she said, like it rang a bell then, that kept ringing. I knew my birthday was coming up. What if I had my birthday, and it was the second half of my life, and I never smoked again? I can’t break the chain.

Lately I have been thinking about mothers, also. If you’re lucky sometimes you have a second mother, like a friend’s mother, who is really nice to you. Who knows how they feel about you, really. Maybe you’re not really special, just another ratty kid coming around to hoover up peanut butter.

I’ve been thinking about my best friend’s mother, Pat, who was around the age I am now when I really started to notice her as a person. She had four daughters and she was always moving, always working. She seemed beaten down, but so did most of the mothers I knew. I was distrustful of peppy mothers; I thought they must be hiding their real feelings about life and their children.

Pat was older than my mother, but everyone’s mother was older than my mother, the child bride. Pat had married quite young, or so we thought. Later we learned that my friend’s oldest sister belonged to another man, one who had left Pat. Her husband, my friend’s father, was a gruff dick, like all the other fathers we knew. He ran the house in an authoritarian manner, with “Yes, sir” and “No, sir,” and church for me on Sunday if I spent the night on Saturday.

We were scandalized to find a snapshot of Pat with her dark hair fried into a shocking blonde. We stared at it, this tiny window into Pat’s past, before she had kids. We knew that her husband would never allow anything as frivolous as blonde hair now. Pat took the photo from us, wordlessly, and stuck it in a book and slid the book into a high shelf, out of our reach. We knew better than to ask her about it.

I was allowed into places in their house that other kids were not, since I was there so much. Once my friend had to ask Pat permission for something, and I saw her in a rare moment of rest, laying on her bed in dim light.

“Yes,” she said to my friend, in the same tone of voice that I use on my girls now when I want Just One Goddam Moment of Peace for God’s Sake but Hello Yes Daughter What Is It? Terse but resigned.

I crept in behind my friend, taking in the sight of Pat in repose, seeing the jewelry on her dresser, and smelling her perfume, which I only ever recall smelling in her bedroom. Also unlike my mother, who left a wake of Obsession behind her and a myriad of other terrible 80s perfumes that slapped you in the face as she arrived.

Pat was wearing a tank top with no bra and sweatpants. I remember being fascinated by the sight of her breasts, which had slipped with time and four daughters. Gravity was pulling them down into her armpits. I had never seen that much of a body of a woman in her 30s, who had children, and was not bone thin. I think of her now when I look at my own body, which is changing, and yet I dislike less than I used to, when it was more perfect.

“I’ll never be that old,” I thought.

I took an old silk shirt out of my closet yesterday that I probably haven’t worn for three or four years. I slipped it over my head and I saw…something…a spider? Too late. It was over my head. I jumped around and shook my shirt until it fell out. A spider corpse, who knows how old. Somehow it seemed fitting.

Peaking In, Or, What Happens in North Bend Stays in North Bend

HELLO. I’m SJ Alexander. You may remember me from such blogs as “Musing on Poetic Hermaphroditism,” “New Notions In Angry Cuntism,” and “Let’s See If This Fits In Sideways.” Anyway, on Sunday evening I got back from the North Bend/Snoqualmie area of Washyourhandsington, and let me tell you I had a fine time there with my sister.

As I mentioned, I went for the Twin Peaks Festival. I didn’t expect it to change my fucking life or anything, which it didn’t, thank god, because I’m too old for that shit. But I had a really nice time and met some new people. Mostly first timers, because the repeat offenders were catching up with each other, which I completely understood. The festival is aptly named, I think. I’m used to gatherings that have some kind of academic or analytic fa├žade with panels and shit, but this is really just a time for fans to gather and have fun together and geek out. There was a banquet with a costume contest, and a picnic, and a bus tour.

Morgan and I met a young lady there who had talked her father into taking her as a fifteenth birthday present. Let me tell you, I cannot even remember my fifteenth birthday. I said so. My sister said, “I can, Mom made me make my own cake that year.” HA! And aww. I probably blocked mine out. My best family birthday was maybe sixteen when I asked for a bucket of coleslaw and got it. My bar was so low at that point I was like, she cannot fuck up KFC.

The funny thing was that the young lady happened to be dressing up as prom queen Laura Palmer. And my sister grabbed some plastic wrap on the way out of town. So really, our happy weekend friendship was meant to be. She wants to be a filmmaker, and runs a horror fan/review site.

As a bonus surprise, our new friend’s father dressed up as Bob. HA. I’ve made a little album over on the Flickr if you want to see everything.

The highlight of the bus tour was probably the Bookhouse. The tour guide told us it’s now a methlab. We came up behind the fence to take a picture of it. A shirtless tweaker came out to scream at us. “Get the fuck out of here! This is private property (incorrect, we were on separate property). I’m gonna call the fucking cops!” Like hell you were, Mister.

Since we were staying in Snoqualamie and driving back and forth to North Bend, we happened to notice the local shops. I started to get a bang out of how unassuming and modest the names were.

“Where’d you get your hair done?”

“Oh, you know. Another Hair Place.”

“Looks ok.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“For our wedding, we want something tropical.”

“That sounds expensive. We have tulips for you. They’re in season.”

“Um, ok, I guess.”

Nothing to Wear. I looked in and there was half a shirt and a sock on the floor.

Now I have tomatoes setting. How was your weekend???

I’ll see you again in 25 years

This morning I’m leaving with my sister to go up to North Bend, where Twin Peaks was set, for the annual meetup there. It’s kind of sad, actually, that we haven’t taken a trip together in ten years, but you know. Time money babies school divorce. Life. We went camping for her sixteenth birthday. This post is a fun, cringe-inducing blast from the past. The good news is I don’t sound like a 100% moron like I do in some posts (including some from last month) but I see typos, grammar problems, and a declaration that I was done reproducing in 2003. HA! Guess what 2003 SJ? 2004 SJ is coming and her ass is going to SNAP. There followith a Strudel in 2005.

Anyway, I am excited. Twin Peaks first aired when I was in high school, and I didn’t really get the appeal of it. Other than Knots Landing, which I believe I was into solely [ahem] because it afforded the chance to stay up an hour past my bedtime on Thursdays, I didn’t get into a lot of TV when I was a kid. At least, not with my mother.

Plus I thought Nicolette Sheridan was probably the most beautiful woman anywhere, on TV or in a movie. The way her bangs would jump around, since they were so long they kind of rested on top of her eyelashes…well, that was kind of weird, actually. You don’t really see distracting hair like on TV anymore, unless it’s supposed to be distracting. I’m pretty sure I wandered off after the season when the scammy Greek guy showed up, so I didn’t see crazy Alec Baldwin on it. I still have a terrible tendency to wander off from a show during its summer break and not come back. “I’m full,” I say. There’s exceptions.

When I was a kid I thought of TV as something you did by yourself, when you were too lazy to read or move. I usually did something while I watched TV, like draw pictures of totally sweet unicorns or do the puzzle in the TV Guide. So I watched the first couple of episodes of Twin Peaks with my mother, before shit gets really weird, and I thought it just looked like a soap opera, which it was, in its way, or at least a parody of one. They did not hold my interest then because I was in the phase of my life where I was trying to make my own personal soap opera, and do actual drugs, and have actual sex with people/objects instead of just sitting in the safety of my house behind my pulled shades shouting “OH GIRL DO NOT RETURN HIS CALL” at the screen like I do now.

I worked at Tower Records and Video in college, mostly on the video side, and it was free rentals ahoy there. Every shift I would bring home my allotted two movies whether or not I would watch them. I saw White Men Can’t Hump [main actress had alarming leg bruise; when she was on her back her implants floated like biscuits, giving her chest this terraced effect], Jurranal Park [no comment], Edward Penishands [I’m guessing he never got into smartphones later], and a bunch of movies with plots and clothing and TV. The VHS porn section was prodigious, though, and I took to wearing medical gloves since you never knew how slimy a video you would fish out of the return slot bin would be.

So that was when I saw Twin Peaks on VHS, coming home to my unemployed husband counting out stacks and stacks of cash that must never be deposited. Okay, he was not constantly counting fat stacks of Benjamins, this is just how I like to frame him in my memory at that time. My life had become a soap opera I wasn’t enjoying (teen runaway becomes child bride to extremely small-time drug distributor) so I think I was happy to retreat into the cool pines of Twin Peaks then.

Franny’s gone again–I took her to the ferry terminal yesterday. She was very unhappy about leaving again after spending a month over there at the beginning of the summer. She tells me she sneaks out of her room and lurks on the roof when she gets sent there as punishment. She also told me she got into a fight with her father and threw Cheerios at him. I feel like I don’t know who she is when she’s there, but I love sweet Franny and the angry one. I know we can have many faces and behaviors for different situations, but there are some faces I don’t really see. She and I saw the first episode of Orange is the New Black so I sent the book to her after I dropped her off. The cover is subtitled “my year in a women’s prison” so I included a note that read “This seems appropriate. Love Mom.” I hope she reads it.

Everyone was on edge on the way to the terminal (such an appropriate drop off place, really. A terminal. This situation is terminal. Everything’s terminal, though. So.). This meant that Strudel was saying whatever popped into her damn head.

“I think instead of waving at your other sisters, I’m going to just flip everyone off,” Strudel said. She’s 91% nature, I’m convinced, and should thank her lucky fucking stars we haven’t died before now, because the Nice Christian Family who got their mitts on my healthy white baby would have attempted about 28 exorcisms on her by now.

“Strudel, you CAN. NOT. flip my sisters off!!” Franny’s voice rose in pitch and I could see how tense she was, clutching onto the dog in the passenger seat.

“Your sister is not going to flip anyone off,” I said, almost believing it.

“Mom! She’s not allowed, right? My sisters don’t even know what that MEANS.”

“No, she’s not allowed.”

“Mom, what will you do if I do it?” Strudel asked.

“Well. Laugh,” I answered honestly.

“MOM!” Franny was reaching middle-school girl glass-cracking levels with her pitch.

“Strudel will not flip off your other family because she is a NICE PERSON who wants to KEEP THE RESPECT OF HER BIG SISTER. Yes?” I glanced in the rear view.

“Look, it’s the motherfucking po-po,” Strudel said, changing the subject as we passed a cop car that had pulled someone over. It’s never “a cop” or “the police” with this one. Always “the motherfucking po-po.”

And she was fine at the terminal.

Strudel is spending the weekend with her dad as well. Unlike Franny, she throws Cheerios at the ones she loves the most, so probably the same scenes will be enacted by both of my daughters in their respective house, but for very different reasons. It should be a good weekend. I am happy to spend time with my sister, but I will miss my jerks.

Dear MF Diary again

Hello!!! Today’s headline from the weekend is as follows: GOETHE RETURNS.

I know, I know, I didn’t say she was gone. I was feeling super sad about the whole thing and was mourning her quietly and giving extra love to Mere and Matilda. She disappeared a couple of days after the Fourth. Incredibly and much to my relief, the cats don’t mind the fireworks AT ALL, it seems. This is their third year with them. Horace, however, was another story. He spent a few days before, when the extra amateur booms started, hiding under a chair in the corner and scooching under the bed at night on his belly instead of being the little spoon. I called the vet and got a tranquilizer and doped him up every night for three days. He was stumbling around like Courtney Love on a Tuesday until he would pass out. He seems to have forgotten about it now.

ANYWAY. Goethe was gone and gone and I called the pound every day, and was hoping she’d turn up since she’s a menace, chipped, and licensed. P. and I decided to tell ourselves that some old lady had kidnapped her and was smothering her with love and tuna. Even though she is an asshole and hates strangers outside the house and will claw them. Anyway, I knew what the reality probably was and it was a bummer.

Then on Saturday night I was laying in bed and I heard a distinct and annoying yowling! GOETHE RETURNS! She was skinny and demanded pettles for fifteen minutes, and then I gave her some turkey. She didn’t seem to be dehydrated, though, so that’s good. If only you could talk, Gertie. You would say: “Fuck you, gimmie some more turkey or I walk again!”

I also took Feral Dwarf to Dragon Fest, and she had a nice time. She likes eating rando dim sum samplers for $2 each. She also had a fish-shaped waffle with adzuki filling. She also became a dragon.

The yard berries are popping off. I made a blueberry buckle on Sunday but not out of my blueberries. I don’t have enough yet. Maybe in a couple of years.

But for now there is enough for a snack each day. Today Franny came back on the ferry. She had some interesting stories about her month over there, and I’m sure more will come out in the next couple of weeks while she’s here. Then she’s gone for two more weeks, and then back until school starts.

I am also up to my ass in bathroom fixture and tile ideas. It’s time to dig into the utility room. I’ll have some hideous “before” pictures soon, which will be followed by hideous “during” and “after” pictures, because you know my taste. I’m trying to keep it in the flavor of the house, so square tiles and chrome. What I do not want is a tiled countertop like all the surfaces upstairs. Too much work!

“May you burst like a toad”

Summer’s in full swing here now, a little earlier than some years. Some people say summer doesn’t start until July 5th. The yard is looking really beautiful, in spite of a medium amount of benign neglect. Not Grey Gardens level, just a little, though. The only real eyesore is the hedge. It’s been cut back about 6 feet at this point and the top is all level. I know 15 minutes from now it’s going to be UNIFORM WALL OF LAUREL but for now it’s…well. You can see for yourself. It’s providing lots of firewood, which we were using until about two weeks ago, ha.

I put up some pictures of the really amazing, mature rhododendrons that this house came with. That’s how they looked between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but this yard came with almost every shrub and tree that I love. There is a mature pieris. I planted a pieris when I lived in that busted-ass unending renovation project in Crown Hill ten years ago. It was very wee and I left it.

There is a forsythia here. There was a wild forsythia in my backyard as a kid. I say wild, but who knows, really? I was told the woods my parents built their house on was an old farm about a hundred years before we came along so who knows if it just popped up or was planted. Did rural Illinois Victorian-era farmers plant forsythias? I don’t know. We found chucked glass medicine bottles and cow bones in our yard. Forsythias remind me of being little. It was next to a gooseberry bush, and surrounded by many fierce wild blackberries. I was the only one who ate them. Why on earth these were not turned into pies or frozen or canned is beyond me. That is exactly what you do with wild blackberries.

There is a golden chain tree. They make terrible suckers but I love them. Our Swedish grandma neighbor had some when we lived by the Zoo. There is an Italian prune tree. There is a lavender rose that was already established here. I’ve planted one at every house. I never thought much about fir trees, but I do a lot now, because they are my view as I lay in my hammock now. I have wanted a hammock for years but I never really had a yard I wanted to lie around in.

So I have discovered I have plant nostalgia.

Speaking of which, I made Chicago dogs the other night. I crave them in the summer and I feel like it’s my duty to foist them upon the girls occasionally. They are not 100% authentic, but pretty close. I’ve discovered I prefer shredded peperoncini because they’re easier to eat. When I was a kid I thought it was normal to roll into a mall and buy one. I dyed the relish.

I knew something was off and I remembered later that I forgot the raw onions. It was still good though. It’s like a salad on a eyeballs and butthole tube! Ok ok, I buy the beef ones. Seriously, though, do not do this without celery salt. I have celery salt for one reason. I even use my Old Bay more.

I will interrupt this ramble to say What One Dish Of Any Meal Will Taste Like at My House, aka Spices and Herbs I Abuse Most:

1. Paprika
2. Dill
3. Paprika AND dill
4. Thyme
5. Chipotle chili powder

Since I am doing spring mental-barf housekeeping very late, I’ll say that, obviously, beekeeping did not come to pass this year. I swear I was just bone tired a good six months after we moved in here, for lots of reasons. I did pick up a couple of pullets this spring, though. I decided to try the lower-fuss method of getting them feathered out and ready for the yard. The advantages are obvious: they are ready to go in your coop the day you bring them home, no brooder box needed. The drawback is that they are much more skittish since they’re not being held multiple times a day from day one. Strudel can get them to eat out of her hand but I cannot.

However, these old gals are hoors for table scraps.

Chicken n waffles! I made banana-cashew waffles for four. I am still trying to adjust portions to account for Franny’s temporary absence. She eats as much as an adult, and often more.

So here’s the new babies:

The black one is a Jersey giant. I tried to get one before with my last batch when I acquired the Todd Nebula (boo) but the chick cacked it a day in, and my Australorp ended up being named Snooki which suits her very well. The new giant’s name is Fruit Loop. The speckled one is named Fred Burkle. She’s an Orloff. The white one is some utility breed, I think? The interesting thing about her is that she has one blue eye and one greenish one. She didn’t have a name at first but Franny bigfooted it and now her name is Roger Sterling.

To which I say:

I’ve had them for about a month now. Man, I have been busy. I’m trying to balance blogging among the house and work and life and writing! It’s not easy. But I miss it. I think I am over my writing mania period, as I expected would happen. I’m editing now, which is hard, hard, much harder than writing. Every day I do something is a day I feel I haven’t just racked up, uselessly. It’s good to pay the bills but there has to be more, as well. If nothing else I think the discipline of waking up early has done me a lot of good.

In a more timely fashion, here is that hole-plugger I mentioned for the fence.

Ugly!!

Have a nice F.U. England day!!

Dear goddam princess slambook

What’s happening now? It’s Juneuary, but more June than January at the moment. I am feeling pretty mellow.

I did hit kind of a surprising rake in the grass yesterday. I had some free-floating anxiety and ended up taking a personal day. I felt better once I knocked some stuff off my list then relaxed.

I guess it wasn’t totally free-floating though. I suspected it was fallout from court. I’ve lost twenty-five pounds in the past year. I guess I could lose a little more, but EH. Not really a priority.

The girls are looking forward to summer. Franny’s going to be gone for a month out of the gate. I’m hoping she can use some of that time to talk with her dad some and just have a normal, non-overladen-with-yuk-and-subtext-and-angst times.

I don’t know if I mentioned I’m going to the Twin Peaks fest with my sister this summer. I bought a chevron-patterned shirt to wear. I’m getting hyped up about it around myah. Franny and I went to a Kyle MacLachlan Q&A session that was part of him receiving an achievement award, which was followed by a screening of the Twin Peaks pilot. It was so awesome to watch her watching him. That sounds weird, doesn’t it?

We decided we’re having a MacLachlanfest this summer. The Hidden is going on the list (Mr. MacLachlan said: “It’s a good rental.”), for sure, The Flintstones, and maybe some selected eps of Sex and the City. I think it’s going to be THE MOST AMAZING SUMMER EVER.

Here are some jerks I live with:

“I was taken aback, I had come up against the Feminist.”

I’m experiencing that fun kind of mania on that first day after you recover from some kind of bug. An informal poll at my workplace today showed that I am alone in this among respondents surveyed. Ah well. Long story long, I am feeling better.

Also, I am writing a murder mystery as of about two weeks ago. I feel like I need to really think about what I am doing and structure. I want to go really traditional within the classic format. You know, can I do a Tijuana donkey show in haiku format? We will see. I wanted to write another short story, but there is a LOT of plot happening there. Feels full-fledged. It’s kind of nice staring down the barrel of “okay you fucker you’re going to write every day so you might as well turn something out at the appropriate length for the story.” RIGHT? *deep crazy gasping breaths*

I have decided to bone Miss Marple bone up on Miss Marple, to really dive into the epitome of the murder mystery formula. I started with The Moving Finger (1942). Let me tell you, this is my first experience with a moving finger that did not have “-bang” appended to it. Pretty good. Except. The villain is…A FRUSTRATED FEMINIST. Dun dun…unshaven parts. Bitches be libbin.

This is not a review, because why bother? Agatha Christie has her deserved place in the canon. One thing I am enjoying is the vocabulary! For no reason, let’s have an

Agatha Christie Dictionary for Ignant* Americans and Search Engine-Challenged.

Happy Families: UK card game. Reminds me of the American Old Maid game. I bet the Old Maid did it too, in the motherfucking parlor, with her unequal paycheck. :(((( 1.

I hate my love with an A: Game used as a memory device. “Ah,” cried Mrs. Dane Calthrop. “I hate my love with an A. That’s it. Anonymous letters!” 1.

Kit-kat: cockney (?) rhyming slang for “prat.” “Merely kit-kat,” I said in a stern aside to her. 1.

Potatoes in heels: Holes in stockings. 1.

S.A.: sex appeal. “It’s funny, isn’t it?” she said. “Some people have lots of looks and absolutely no S.A.” 1.

1. The Moving Finger

*Ignant=me. I’ll add to this as I read more.

PS I am developing Miss Marple porno:

The Moving Fingerbang
A Caribbean Mystery, or How Miss Marple Got Her Groove Back
A Pocket Full of Rubbers
The Hot Body at the Library
They Do It with Mirrors (as-is)

Prattling about writing and stalkers and Non-Yum

I think I struck a chord with my last post. Thanks, everyone who commented. I really wish it was a comment section full of, “As usual, SJ, we have no idea what you’re talking about.” But life’s not like that, is it?

I have pictures to post this weekend and more writings to make and I wrote for two hours this morning. Boy howdy! Shauny was telling me that she’s using something called 750 Words sometimes. I thought, shit bitches, I am not writing anything close to that! Maybe just a page…. I decided to pay attention to my word count for a couple of days. 1500 one day, and 2100 this morning when I had two hours to write.

Of course, it’s not the word count that’s the primary point. It’s just that it’s fairly easy to knock out and make progress pretty fast. I forgot about this. My mindhack (oh yes I did) for this is to time myself. I started with ten-minute bursts because I cannot justify my way out of ten minutes. Now I am on 30-minute solid bursts where I don’t talk to anyone or look at the internet for “research” or stop unless I really need to. I was really worried about being sick or tired, so if that happens I am going to cut back to ten minutes and see if I can do more from there. The tiniest amount of progress will keep the story fresh in my head.

This story is running on its own steam now–I’ve got it charted (in my head, at least) from start to finish. It’s nice to have one of those periods where you can see it all like a movie and you’re just transcribing what happened. I’ll spend more time this weekend and I suspect it might top out around 20k words in another week or so. I have promised one of my very favorite people that I will put it up somewhere else NOT on iasshole so it has a home and doesn’t get lost and people can download it. The antidote to my mother’s voice in my head calling my writing pretentious is bossy people who I love. Bossing me. The muscle’s coming back fast and it’s like I never stopped now.

Now I have something embarrassing to tell you, which is an unusual occurrence around here, I know. This, however, does not involve things getting stuck in my vagina or whatever, so feel free to wander off. Some time ago I stumbled upon this article, about, yes, Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret. I’ll summarize, since it really doesn’t need to even have an article’s worth of words attached to it. .5 Think about the thing you want to make progress on and do every day. 1. Get a full year’s wall calendar (“year-at-a-glance”) 2. Make an X every day you do the thing you want to do. 3. Don’t break the chain. Now that I am over a week in, it is already hard to think about breaking it.

I have a growing wall of red Xs hanging inside the door of my pantry and it is making me happy. When I walk into work in the morning, I feel like even if I lay under my desk all day (WHICH I WOULD NEVER DREAM OF DOING, COUGH) I would have accomplished enough for the day.

I know what I am writing about after this first story, and then I will have to figure something else out after that, but I have time.

I realized that I have been writing steadily for half my life now. I wrote my first story when I was nine about some cat detectives in the future who have fedoras and Model-Ts except, twist, they are Model-T hovercars. And then 25 years or so later I discovered I basically wrote Meow, The Jury, except shorter. I guess I have always loved noir the best.

As an aside, Jerry Seinfeld always gives me a cringe because when I was a barista in college in Phoenix there was a guy who came in every day, Ted. Ted became very fixated on me and chatted me up most days I worked. He saw me in my terrible Coffee Plantation uniform with my hair in a ponytail every day. I remember Seinfeld was in its last season then, and the media was kind of spacking out about it all and it was kind of idle small talk. This is the time I informally think of as “before pop culture went kablooie” via the internet being what it is today and 50 gajillion cable channels. The splintering. Lots of people were watching Seinfeld.

As an aside within my aside, I was thinking that hardly anyone comes really close to an almost complete overlap in pop culture interests anymore, but at the same time, you can catch someone up in 30 seconds via your pocket computer. So that’s a trade. I realized my Feral Dwarf doesn’t really grok Bugs Bunny references and it may not matter. Bugs Bunny is kind of an asshole. But she can quote Strong Bad, who is an entertaining asshole.

Anyway. My stalker. He was quoting classic Seinfeldy quotes at me and trying to make me laugh and whatnot. I was trying to smile and make as many tips off the tightwads who came through Phoenix’s “fancy” mall as possible. [Actual customer quote: “I have socks that are worth more than you.”] Of course he inquired about my relationship status none-to-subtly with my five a.m. opening shift buddy, who was a peach and a really hard worker, and reignited my love of hiphop via one of those restaurant satellite stations. You have not lived until you have ground several pounds of coffee for the drip urns in preparation to the morning rush by 5:20 a.m., getting some kind of weird contact high from the powdered beans floating in the air while dancing to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” Actually, that is a lie. Even if you have not done that I believe you when you say you’ve lived.

So it’s that thing where you have young girl with nametag who is trapped behind counter and is actually paid to smile, or at least not spit at you. Why does this equal consent? When I was younger I really had issues with men in their 50s-60s hitting on me (I know, I know, this is not an uncommon phenomenon), however, it would really throw fuel on the fire when they would pry into my interests and discover I was basically a 50-year-old woman who looked 20. I did things like dinner theatre, martinis, watercolor classes, Frank Sinatra, gardening, and “being in bed by 9 p.m.” Wait, once when I was 21 or so I accidentally drank red wine AND NyQuil within an hour of each other, and had a really far-out time listening to “Sketches of Spain.” (I had kind of a wild couple of months when I was about 27-and-a-half but I am basically back to being 50 again.) I should have said that I was totally like into parasailing and whatever was on the radio in 1998?? Aguilera?? I don’t know. Ted started getting really overt in the guise of (loudly) talking to himself as he would stir sugar into his coffee: “Yeppers, I could really use an SJ in my life.” I am getting freaked out just typing that fifteen years later.

“Does he not have a job?” I asked my opening buddy one morning as we sliced bagels. She had told me Ted was asking about me and what my schedule was.

“Oh no, he used to come in here a lot before, but then he won the lottery and quit his job. Now he’s here every day.”

“The lottery-lottery?”

“Yeah, he’s loaded.”

This made it sadder, somehow. ASU was a stone’s throw away and he could have pulled any one of hundreds of Britney clones there, but instead he was bothering a sweaty, dairy-vomit-smelling child bride who dyed her hair brown on purpose, and not for any smart reason, like covering grey. I just wanted it browner.

One day on my day off I came in to pick up my paper paycheck so I could spend it on sensible shoes or vegetables or something. Ted was sitting outdoors, which was unusual, because he usually sat within earshot of where I would work on the hot machine.

“Hi SJ!” he shouted at me across the parking lot. Ted’s weaselly face lit up as I pushed my goggles up on top of my head and swung my leg over my scooter. Man, this was his lucky week. He got six days of SJ! As I approached him his face changed and became very confused-looking.

“Hey, Ted,” I replied when I got within polite talking distance. I was never one to shout across parking lots unless someone was in danger or something. “What’s crackin?”

“Uh, nothing…” He blanched a little in the toasty Phoenix springtime sun and looked down into his coffee.

“Okay, see you later, Mr. Chatty.”

As I walked into my store I forgot I was wearing short shorts and a shirt I had picked up at one of the only piercing shops in Honolulu in 1996. It featured cartoony, Coop-like scantily-clad women. One was bent over and trussed up with a ball gag in her mouth, and the other woman was flogging her. The name of the shop, which I believe was Sin, was featured over the picture.

Ted rarely spoke to me after that. I should have thought of it months before!

In Other News.

My old boss sent me this picture today and I captioned it. Oh Friday.