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.

You Can Leave, But It’s Going to Cost You

@hovy and I were at the 13 Coins, after a night with Miss Coco Peru, who is amazing live. I thought I was going to have one drink and then turn into a pumpkin as usual, but LO there was an amazing singer there belting her face off doing jazz standards. It was like my own personal playlist.

I ordered an old fashioned, and it came back in a martini glass with only a cherry, which I thought was a little strange. It tasted weird, too. I’m kind of used to them being abused, though. It happens. The waitress came around again to check on us and asked if we wanted another round. “Yes,” I said. “Can you do this again but on the rocks with an orange added?” She didn’t bat and eye and said, “Sure.” I got the bill and it said “2 Manhattans.” Well, that explained that. I am hopeless.

Thing two is Edmonds. We were noodling around the art galleries and other shops there and I asked a clerk where to get a drink. He recommended an Irish pub up the street. “It’s dark but the bartender is really nice,” he assured us. It was dark as promised and they had potcheen on the menu. “Irish moonshine” it said. I’d never had it, so naturally I ordered one. Since Hovy was driving and we weren’t going to stay for too long, we closed out the bill right away. The bartender was an older guy–a very jovial fellow and insisted on “buying” me another shot of Bunratty. “If that’s okay with you,” he said to Hovy.

“I hope I don’t turn you straight,” I said to Hovy as we were leaving. “Everyone today thinks we’re married. We need to cover you in giant sequins before we come in next time.” We had a conversation about how weird it is to ask someone permission to give your “wife” another drink. I can drive my own vagina AND liver. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time lately wondering what it will be like when the old timers aren’t around anymore and I am the old timer.

Much Ado About Phyllo

Around ten o’clock yesterday I started craving b’stilla or bastilla or whatever you like. I know I’ve made a recipe very similar to this one more than once and am a little surprised I couldn’t find a picture anywhere. If you’ve never had it, it’s your basic “put it in a phyllo YEAH YEAH this is going to own” but it does have that sweet and savory element that is crack to me. And almonds, AND eggs AND chicken. Basically it’s perfect. If I was to make a food into a bed it would be this food. Would I be sad within ten minutes of laying on it? Yes. But not as sad as I would be if it was, say, ravioli. I dunno.

Strudel’s dad popped up on chat about something and I told him about my craving.

“I’m going to make one tonight. You in?” I said.

“Yeaaah…how about that lentil soup that goes with it?”

“Uhh yeah maybe I can find a shortcut to add that in…”

“And that salad they have with the eggplant!” He lost me at this point.

“Okay, I am making reservations to go out,” I said.

At the appointed kid-friendly hour of 6 p.m. we arrived at the restaurant and were seated promptly. I looked over the menu and picked out some entrees for the five-course meal, knowing with the girls along we would have leftovers later. Oh BOY bastilla. I have it maybe once a year, which is on the low end for something I love so much, but it’s a real treat I look forward to. I hadn’t been to this restaurant in forever, and was a little disappointed to see some changes had been made, like no hand washing before the meal, and there were no floor seating options, and they had added silverware to the tables. It looked like the restaurant had been shaped to the neighborhood, perhaps, which is more working-class and maybe not as foodie as other parts of town. Though really it’s hard to throw a bloated piece of seared goose liver without hitting a foodie in this town.

We ordered from someone who appeared to be the manager, since he was kind of herding the servers and barking orders at the hostess. Before he went he turned and said, “Is anyone a vegetarian here?”

“Oh noooooooo,” I said.

“So lamb is okay?” he asked. I thought this was a little odd since I had ordered a lamb entree, but I went along with it.

“Oh yes, we love lamb.”

At least, this is what I thought happened.

After the soup and salad course, I knew it was time for chicken bastilla. I was imagining cracking into the crisped, sugar-coated dough and getting a scoop of the fluffy chicken and egg mixture in the center.

“Pace yourself, girls, there’s a bootyload of more food coming,” I told them. I didn’t care if they got full, really. That was the point of going out. But I wanted them to have the chance to try everything if they wanted to.

One of the young servers brought the bastilla to our table. “LAMB bastilla,” she said, plunking it down. No sweet top. Hmm, ok, I like lamb…this isn’t what I wanted, but…hmm.

“Oh, I thought we were getting the classic chicken bastilla.”

“This was the only one in the oven,” the server said.

“Uh, okay,” I said. She left and I took a bite. It had…rice. And no sugar. I didn’t see egg. So this was some lovely lamb wrapped in pastry and was cooked very well, but wow was it not hitting the spot. I stopped after a couple of bites. Eventually the manager came over to check on us and made some noise about this being what we had ordered. Boy was I confused. I hate when things like this happen in restaurants, don’t you? I found myself apologizing like I had taken British pills or something. I didn’t want them to think I was upset, because it’s just some pastry for fuck’s sake and I am a very proud person. But I kind of felt like I wanted to cry. I hate being that person who is crying about the wrong pastry. I just thought it was a miscommunication.

He took it away and a server returned.

“Would you like a chicken one,” she said. “I can wrap it up to go.”

“Uhh…do they…save well?”

“Yes,” she said, and gave me a “this job would be great if it wasn’t for the customers” look.

“Okay,” I said.

The two young women who were bringing us food and refilling our water glasses started bringing out the tagines. My secret shame is that I have a kiwi-colored tagine from the Le Creuset seconds store that I have NEVER USED. In FOUR YEARS. That’s not like me, really.

One of the young women asked me if I’d like her to bring the bastilla with dinner instead.

“I mean, it’s going to be late, but it’s kind of like a dessert anyway…”

“YES THAT’S A GREAT IDEA,” I enthused. Let these suckers I was with have the succulent, melting lamb and the honey chicken thighs. More bastilla for ME. Oink, oink.

The bastilla did not appear…and it did not appear…boxes came for the leftovers…and then finally the bastilla came out wrapped in foil. The server plunked it on the table and walked off. I was starting to feel like a total dick. Ah well, the night was not going to quite be what I expected.

I opened the bastilla to peep at it and to let some of the steam out. It was calling me. “NOM ME. JUST A LITTLE.” I started to pick at it with my fork.

“And how is that?” said P.

“Incredible,” I said, and went back to it.

The manager guy came up again. “Did you want a plate for that?” he asked.

“No, it’s fine…it’s just so good. This is my favorite thing.”

“She said you wanted it boxed up.”

“Oh yes,” I said. “And then the other woman came back and asked if I wanted it *with* our dinner and I thought that sounded good sooo I just think there’s been a lot of miscommunications tonight and…”

“Well the servers are twins so you were probably confused.”

They were? What!?

You don’t want to point out that people are twins, because maybe people don’t want to be reminded there is someone they are often confused for, perhaps, but you also don’t want to point out that you didn’t realize people are twins. There is this attitude of “Well, are you sure about that?” I don’t know. I need twin sensitivity training or something. I did not know they were twins, honestly. They were wearing drastically different patterns and did not look alike to me. Maybe cousins.

“Okay,” I said.

We were allowed to sit for quite a while before getting the check, which was nice because the belly dancer showed up and completely delighted the girls and the other children who were at the early family seating. Then we paid and left, and BAM now I am eating my bastilla after bumping it in the stove. I think that place is crossed off my list due to sheer awkwardness from now on. If the pink-haired chick blows it someplace, she cannot return.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

(Lewis Carroll)

I think I need to wave some sage around for a minute. I am NOT dissolving into a pile of goo. Life is still happening. Today we played Whoonu and Clue and cleaned the house. Last Thursday I went to the doctor for my rosacea. I was actually delighted to be going to this dermatologist, because she has received some reviews on Yelp so horrendous that I assumed she was going to march right out of a Larry David comedy, but she was fine.

I don’t care that I am pink so much. I had a terrible friend who was always pleading with me to get some of that green makeup and cover it all up, but I kind of like being pink, actually. It’s just who I am. I hate it when people try to change things in you that you are okay with and are not hurting anyone. I was getting tired of the pain that came with my cheeks flushing. It turns out that the cream she gave me cannot prevent that. Oh well.

And of course we had Halloween. I took so many pictures that I was dreading sorting through them, ho ho.

We carved pumpkins:


Spider Web

A lot of my pictures turn out blurry with this new camera. Basically, I wanted to get the newer version of my old Canon Elph which I loved. I feel like this one is less point-and-shooty. I need dumber technology. I just do not have the energy for anything complicated in my down time, you know?

P. Pumpkin


Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889


I VAN WENT around like this all day. GET IT??? HA HA HA HA.

Franny as a witchy poof:


Strudel went as an Owl:


But P. did the BEST thing, assuming you have ever seen the show Community.

Get ready…

Get set…


I drew the lines and then shaved him down with a small electric razor I have.


It’s Star-burns!



At the end of the night, there was LOOOOOOT!!!


There’s a few more new unique ones on Flickr, if you’re so inclined.

There is a hole where my brain was scooped out.

What is in my brain? The sound of tweetie birds or a pony humming. A lint. The words to the “Thundercats” theme. That’s about it.

I’m just kind of working and summering here, which makes me feel lobotomized in a really good way. I have been working from home for about a year now. Let me tell you how stressful my life is right now: I had a YOGA anxiety dream. I was missing my knee padding. OH NO! Then I remembered: I was at yoga and I could just get up and get some.

I also feel like I’m missing my camera, which is broken. A new one is coming next week, but in summer I think I rely on it a lot to sort of show what I’m up to and what there is to see. Strudel is checking out 50 books from the library at a time and Franny is deep into the chronicles of Mr. Hairy Pooper.

I am spending my spare time listening to George R.R. Martin on audiobook, falling asleep upside down on my bed. I could just transfer it to my MP3 player and lay in bed properly, but this way I am tethered to my PC via headphone cord and it is stupid. I should be writing but I am just empty right now. I think I am still a bit blissed out since I can think again.

The tomato plants are LARGE and blooming. Pics next week.

“It Appears As If A Piece of Me Has Got Motivation”

Regular readers may have noticed I mentioned a vacation in the middle of all my usual blibber-blubber stream-of-consciousness weh-weh-my-pussy-hurts life stuff. I posted a selection of pics from Maui and Molokai, if you’re interested. I had a really nice time. I was there for a week and was pretty much on Seattle time most of the time, up at 4, to bed at 10 at the latest (apparently I am elderly). I drank mai tais and went to beach yoga and hiked around a little and swam A LOT. I have not really had a proper vacation in years. I feel fortunate to have seen three islands now.

Hawaii is always a little weird. It’s another state and primed for tourism, but there is a lot of kind of post-colonial tension still at work there. I had a really interesting talk with a tour guide on Molokai about history and politics once he saw I was receptive to it, away from the other gringos. He was a legend. I wish I could have captured him singing “Fly Me to the Moon” as we were trapped in the van with him. I came back and was sleeping ten-hour stints, which surprised me. Anyway, I am happy to be back now that my schedule’s recovered.

Hot dog sushi at Maui Mall.

“I can’t believe you like money too. We should hang out.”

“Well—I mean, your friends. What do they say when someone is under the weather?”

“Oh,” said Gloria. “Well, I don’t think you’d like what they say.”

“Really? Why? Is it risque?”

“Yes, a little.”

“Tell me. What is it? I won’t be shocked.”

“Well,” said Gloria. “Most of my friends, my men friends, they say ‘I was stewed to the balls last night.’ My girl friends—“

“Really. I took you for a lady but I see I was wrong. Excuse me,” said the woman and stood up and left the room.

–John O’Hara, BUtterfield 8


Something happened before I left town. I was going to tell you about it when I returned, but here I was lying in bed at 5 a.m. just thinking about it, turning all the pieces over in my head. Franny came back on Monday and told me she was gaining another sibling at her father’s house. I cannot adequately describe to you the simultaneous feeling of petty elation and schadenlulz combined with a sinking feeling regarding Franny’s chances over there. Imagine: you are having an orgasm and someone explodes in and tells you your favorite pet of all time has just died. Maybe I need to dial down the hyperbole a little, though, because mostly I was enjoying the news very much, and Franny has spent most of her time at my house for a long time now. So fast on the heels of his third child, and apparently it was a surprise. SeaFed will have at least four children. I did not see this future for him when I was five months pregnant in 2000, his wife, and he was on a table getting his tubes snipped.

It all made me think of YEARS ago, when the whole crack up happened. I don’t talk about this very much, and I don’t think I’ve ever written about it. Really, there’s too much in this world to spend all your time obsessing about the small shit. As an aside, sometimes I wonder if I look like a person obsessed with…all the things I write about here, how I keep dipping into the same deep grooves over and over. I think I am sorting shit out, like most of us do. You will have to take my extremely unreliable word as a narrator that having a conversation with me involves more than three topics.

When you are in a long term relationship sometimes you hit those moments where you reach your hand out and say “I’m sorry, something is changing. Will you take my hand and leap over this canyon with me?” Sometimes the other person balks. How they balk is almost as important as if they had said “Yes, I will jump with you,” but you don’t always realize that at the time. All you want to hear is “YES, I will jump.” The balk, though. Sometimes it’s a gentle balk of “I need more time,” and it’s real and not stalling. Sometimes they say “I will watch you” and you jump and turn around and they are right beside you, having taken a donkey down and up the canyon while you did all the heavy lifting yourself. How clever!

Sometimes there is a balk and it is the Balk of Finality. You turn around and the gap was bigger than you thought, and they look kind of small and sad and alone on the old lame ledge, and their clothes look slightly out of fashion. You miss them and feel unburdened at the same time. Well, this is unfortunate. Now what?

A million years ago when I was still married, I found myself attracted to someone else. It happens! Does it ever. I’m not going to try to plead my case here. I think what happens after the realization is more important than the alleged crime of it happening at all. I approached SeaFed and told him how I felt, and wondered what I should do. Before Franny our marriage looked like the outline of a typical dull marriage: petty battles, small grudges, the occasional mutual victory, the occasional serious blowout. After her it was really going off the rails because I figured out very quickly that I would be happier as an actual single parent than as a person who acted as a single parent, but had this secret obstacle that I had to work around, who would pass out drunk instead of putting his toddler to bed or would corner my friends at the parties I threw to tell them that he delighted in cornering my friends and making them uncomfortable.

Anyway, what ensued after me realizing I was attracted to someone else is that I told him, and armed with nothing more than “and you’ve been disinterested in sex for months now, so I was wondering if you would consider…”

“No,” he said, toweling off after a shower. I think at that point he had been shooting me down for so long his damp nude body just looked like another object in the house, since it was not something I was allowed to touch, nor was there any point in bothering to have carnal thoughts in the direction of it. He laughed a little, as if I had suggested we blow off school and work and take the rest of our grocery money for the month and go parasailing all day. How ludicrous!

Oh if only, I thought. As if this person you have known for years could surprise you and suddenly grow a new head, which would issue up out of their back and replace the old one, and it would be a sensible head that would say things like, “Of course, I have been inconsiderately withholding sex from you for months, so it’s natural that you would want to have sex with someone. Go ahead, if you exploded we’d never get all your guts and brains out of the parquet flooring.” How luxurious it would be to hear the words “I understand,” or “This must be difficult for you,” without having them come from your own mouth.

There followed a period of silences and loneliness and heartbreak, which was hardly about the other person I was attracted to and killed contact with, but more about the feeling of being next to someone who is supposed to be the person who knows you the best (this was my view of marriage at 23) and in reality you are completely alone.

Things happened after this time, the next year. I was busy with grad school and Franny and making new friends and adjusting to my life as a person who was apparently supposed to be completely neutered at 25. Sex, like breathing, is something we take for granted until the second we don’t have it anymore. A hand was around my throat, hard.

The things that happened around the spaces where I was busy were confounding, and I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. The summer before I left I found a pair of women’s sunglasses in my Jetta. This was puzzling. There had been no talk of SeaFed going out with anyone, or him having any plans at all beyond “I’m going out to practice” his saxophone with someone else.

October, there I was on the verge of moving out. All the pieces were sliding into place for me. I had been pricing rentals since summer, choosing my new neighborhood. I had taken a thousand leaps over canyons at this point and I didn’t even think of him much. We were coexisting, he was the upright piano gathering dust in the corner, and I was the broken lamp with the pretty shade that you try to remember to fix the next morning after company is gone and there are dirty glasses all over the living room. We were at a party on a houseboat for one of his friends from one of his attempts at college, a couple of weeks before my birthday. I was cornered out on the deck by one of SeaFed’s high school friends who had attempted to hang himself a couple of years before. The attempt had slashed his vocal chords and he was not able to speak much above a harsh whisper, a difficult obstacle to conversation at a party. I spent most of the night leaned in close to him on the relatively quiet deck. He was an interesting fellow. I could see through the window that SeaFed had spent most of his night talking to one person as well, a small mousy girl wearing glasses.

“Well, what a coincidence,” SeaFed loudly and deliberately said, as we walked off the docks and to our car.

“What’s that,” I said.

“Did you see that woman I was talking to?” he asked.

“Sort of?”

“I went to middle school with her. I have not seen her IN YEARS.”

“Ah,” I said. It all seemed kind of overly-elaborated at the time, and some small chime went off in my brain then, but I let it go. It got filed away with the mystery sunglasses to be considered later, much later. A week after I moved out we had dealings at the bank and he turned up with what was possibly the largest hickey I have ever seen on his neck, administered by the mousy girl at the party, who was probably so thrilled to be able to finally publicly claim him.

Months later, on a day I did not have Franny, I got a call from Franny’s school. “Where is Franny, is she unwell?” I was worried about her, and irritated that her father had not called me or called the school to report her absence, something I assumed was common sense. I called his phone, no answer. I decided to go to his house in Crown Hill, our old house, and knock on the door. His wife, who was not his wife yet, but still the mousy girl who my friends said looked like a smaller, plainer, and less stylish version of me, answered the door. She was taking one of her sick days to care for my daughter. Franny capered in the background in her Hello Kitty panties, BOING BOING BOING with a woman who was not me, who was enough of a sucker to stay home with his kid. She wanted him badly, I could see that then.

I had this unsettling feeling like I had moved out, and nothing had changed. Someone had immediately slotted into my place to take care of my child and clean up any messes. Did I want my position back? Was I jealous? No, it wasn’t like that. I think I was egotistical enough to want to be missed, but it was clear I was not going to get that. Overall I was immediately happier, was relieved, and was sleeping better.

But here was my doppelganger, the one who would put up with all the tedious bullshit I had outgrown after seven years. She wanted more than Franny, she wanted her own babies, and she got them, and a house (her mother’s house, who is now sleeping in a mother-in-law SeaFed fashioned out of a garage). And a husband.

Franny stayed over there recently on the last weekend of the month and she told me that she was hungry, and how little food there was in the cupboards at the end of the month, and I told her she should walk to the store and buy herself some food if that happens again. I felt such relief that she has a pragmatic survivor for a mother who can tell her how to do things without subjecting her to them and making her figure it all out on her own. Still, I was angry. I would prefer that she have enough to eat. Franny reports whinging about not enough money. She did some work for him last weekend to earn money and her father agreed to pay her, but he opened his wallet and basically moths flew out.

“Are they happy about the new baby?” I asked.

“No one seems happy over there,” Franny said.

In the wake of the announcement of the fourth child coming, Franny inquired about the previous promise of her getting her own room there now that she is becoming a preteen and her stepmother snorted and said “That’s probably not going to happen now” and was told that having her visit was going to be a pain now. Franny told me this factually and unflinchingly, because like I was as a child, she is very accepting of every ounce of bullshit adults can lay on her. Reader, I tell you this kind of nonsense is one of the only types that can invoke my vestigial necksnap. “THAT IS NOT OKAY!” I said.

I think about That Poor Woman over there, and yes this is preposterous, but I feel there was a break in the timeline and she is living my life. How grateful I am now that there was a stand in, someone to pass the ferryman’s paddle to, though none of us knew it was happening at the time.

Here is your writer, sitting in tropical climes with sunrises and obnoxious tropical birds happening, feeling like Hemingway except with less glamorous hangovers, a blotchy sunburn, and scoring with 100x fewer bitches.

This is Hallowang

Lordy I am tired. I’ve been averaging about 5 hours a night, broken up, and I don’t know why. It’s just not enough. I’ve tried everything–no coffee, no booze, hot showers, etc. I just have to ride this out. I don’t want sleeping advice; I want a cocktail and some sex, and magical free money to pay for yoga.

I’ll tell you what, though, after sleeping an hour and being up four, I cracked one of those Four Lokos and THAT, my friends, was awesome. I drank half and I slept like the dead after. Also with that and the sleep dep, I was basically tripping balls. There I was, in the living room watching Hulu and intermittently wooing. Yes, Four Loko turns me into a WOO girl. WOOO!

I shall return tomorrow with costume pictures and more pumpkining.

When I’m Alone I Count Myself

Whoa ho ho last night a person who I will not name to protect their innocence and their reputation took me to see Rufus Wainwright. Do you know who that is? I did not. What I heard was, “Evening out with fun friend, ok.” Holy shit. It became much, much, much more than that, unfortunately.

At the door there was a sign that said something to the effect of “Rufus Wainwright asks that you do not clap during the first act.” We were told again at the door by some poor ticket-scanning man who had to keep a straight face. “Mr. Rufus asks…” Okay, I don’t think he called him Mr. Rufus, but I like the way that sounds.

When it was time for Mr. Rufus to start, the auditorium went dark. An employee of the theater took to the stage to remind us to STFU for the third time, “Including as Mr. Rufus enters and leaves the stage, as that is part of the song cycle.” We were told that there would be some art happening behind Mr. Rufus as he played, which was part of the show.

Mr. Rufus ENTERED, stage left. What was this, two heads? No, some kind of elaborate ruffle-goiter thing behind his head and a…was that a cape? flowing behind? All the stage needed now was a candelabra and some bats to count. Was the cape still going on? Did it even enter the stage fully? The cape was so frilly and wow, it was kind of like Edward and Bella fused into one body or something. A couple of small spots were dramatically trained on Mr. Rufus as he sat at the piano and began.

The screen started up behind him, with his playing. It was eyeballs. Actually, it was one eyeball, a grey eye that opened and closed slowly and was gobbed with makeup. Sometimes there were lots, sometimes just one, just like Whack-a-Mole. After the first song people began wooting and clapping, and then stopped abruptly. Mr. Rufus asks that you refrain from making any noise, ok.

The lyrics–I dunno, I tried to follow them, I really did. Sometimes they seemed to not be in English, or in any other language really. Mr. Rufus didn’t seem to have much of a range, he just kept droning on and on very soulfully about something. At one point when things got especially cacophonous, I felt little headaches develop and kind of crackle around across the front of my forehead, which has never ever happened before. An actual music-induced headache.

Finally after an hour or four, he stopped playing. Whack-an-Eye stopped. He rose DRAMATICALLY and begin lurching out the way he came, like Nosferatu, possibly treading on his neverending cape. Finally, once he left the stage, people began whooping and clapping wildly.

“Are people buying this?” I asked my friend.

We fled and I offered to buy drinks, since I put the kibosh on things. As we left there was a man leaving whose front was completely covered in vomit. We took a picture of the sign on the way out.