Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dough - A Book Review

Dough is an entertaining memoir by Mort Zacher about coming to terms with your family's eccentricities. Zachter grew up poor in the shadow of his uncles' Lower East Side bakery. It's only as an adult, when he's settling his uncle's financial affairs before committing him to a hospice, that he discovers they were actually very rich.

Dough opens with a photo essay of the two uncles standing in the bakery, a picture where his mother is tell-talingly missing. The memoir alternates between chapters about the author's youth and adulthood. Zachter comes to terms with his bitterness about his impoverished childhood as the book progresses. He lived in a tiny apartment, sleeping on a banquette with his head touching the refrigerator. A buffet meal at a kosher cafeteria was a major affair for his family. He never understood his family's obsessive hoarding, even at his expense, their only offspring.

Because of the title, I expected Dough to be a food memoir, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I loved learning about life on the Lower East Side, but I also really enjoyed the author's reflections on family life and how expressively he wrote about the process of forgiving his uncles.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book Review - the Nineteenth Wife by David Ebershoff

When I heard about The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, I was immediately desperate to get my hands on a copy.  I love historical fiction and have a strange fascination with polygamy and other cults.  As soon as it arrived, I sat down to read it cover to cover.   It did not disappoint.

This novel weaves the stories of two women, both the 19th wives of polygamists, and paints a thorough and captivating portrait of plural marriage from its inception in the 1830s to its current existence with fringe groups.  The first 19th wife is Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young's wife who divorced him and campaigned tirelessly on the lecture circuit to educate America about polygamy.  She was instrumental in convincing Congress to outlaw the practice and forcing the Mormons to renounce it.  Ebershoff fictionalizes her story but also references diverse original sources to bring to life Brigham Young, Ann Eliza Young, her parents and siblings.  The details about life on the frontier as well as the dialogue are authentic and intriguing. 

The other 19th wife's story is radically different from Ann Eliza Young's, and reveals how far from grace plural marriage has fallen.   It is really a murder mystery tale, told through the eyes of Jordan Scott, the wife's outcast gay son.  He is researching the Mesadale Firsts community (fictional but inspired on communities such as the one led by Warren Jeffs) to free his mother from being unjustly convicted of killing his father.  The contrast between the struggles of the Mormon pioneers with their hand-drawn cart journeys to Utah with the present-day Internet and IM technology used by the men of Mesadale to recruit new wives is striking.  Regardless of the advances of technology, however, the hardships of plural marriage to the wives and children remain unchanged.

Ebershoff condemns the practice thoroughly, but he does a great job of showing the fears and beliefs that drive women to choose being a plural wife.  The chapter when he describes Ann Eliza's parents' struggle with Joseph Smith's commandment to embrace polygamy is especially poignant.  It is her mother who tearfully ends up forcing her husband to take on a second wife, in fear of not being with him in heaven.  Once convinced, the husband fully embraced it, taking on multiple wives, and the ensuing strife destroyed their marriage.

Ann Eliza's character is a little murky, one of the hazards of using such a controversial historical figure.  It is hard to believe that she is much of a victim after three failed marriages under her belt in her life.  She is a good illustration of how high and low you could be in early Mormon culture as well as how much women were forced to rely on their own means to provide for themselves.  

The modern sections of the novel do the best job of showing the true victims of "celestial marriage": the children.  Jordan's descriptions of their home life really illustrates their plight: "We slept in triple-decker bunks; or five to a bed, head to foot; or on the couch, four boys elbowing over three cushions; or on the living room floor, on blankets and pillows, twenty kids laid down like tiles.  Shirts and sweaters in plastic garbage bins labelled by size.  Shoes handed down.  Tennis balls and kickballs handed down from one kid to the next.  The only thing in that house that was all my own, that I never had to share with anyone, was a drawer in my dresser, twelve inches wide by fifteen inches deep...  If you're bad at math, that's 1.25 square feet, which was really more than I needed because I didn't have anything to keep inside."

The novel ends on a mixed note.  The 1800s story concludes with the Latter Day Saints renouncing polygamy.  The current day story concludes with Jordan's mother being freed after another killer confesses, but she elects to return to the compound.  Her fear of hell is stronger than a desire to escape a harsh life as a cast-off widow.  The Nineteenth Wife is a thought-provoking expose of polygamy's evolution in America and its presence today.  It's particularly relevant considering all the recent news coverage, but it's also a wonderfully written and captivating novel.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Tonight's Sunday Scribblings prompt is Miracle. It inspired this little fiction tale...

It was going to take a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle would solve the unholy mess that she was in. Jane stared at the screen of her cellphone, wishing desperately that the words picture sent would magically disappear, but she knew that even if she pressed clear and made them disappear, it still wouldn't undo her mistake. Why did Verizon make it so easy to hit send?

She and Brandi had just been messing around, killing time during yet another boring Saturday afternoon in Wichita. They were both broke, having already burned through their monthly allowance: Jane on a killer studded jeans skirt and Brandi on a hot tattoo of cool looking Asian symbols.

They'd decided to go to the mall anyway, it was either that or hanging out in the parking lot at the Circle K. The busy mall was marginally less depressing, even when they couldn't do anything other than window shop. Brandi sometimes stole little things from stores, but Jane never got off on that like Brandi. The last time she'd stole a lip gloss from Rite Aid, she'd felt so guilty about it that she'd actually gone back the next day to put it back. The clerk had stared at her the whole time and she'd almost gotten caught, proof of what a total loser she was, probably the only idiot in the world to get caught returning stolen loot.

They'd ended up in Victoria's Secret, laughing at the skanky lace lingerie displayed in the candy pink store. A snooty saleslady, trying to scare them off, had asked them if they needed any help. Jane had bit her tongue hard to keep from laughing out loud when Brandi had looked her straight in the eyes and asked for her help to pick out something special for the two of them for their wedding night. That snooty lady looked so disgusted but the potential of a commission was too sweet to give in to her homophobic fears.

Jane wasn't too homophobic herself, but she definitely wasn't a lesbian, still she enjoyed a good prank so she went along with Brandi's joke. Next thing she knew, they were naked in a dressing room, putting on matching pink see-through camisoles and posing for the camera. They were laughing so hard that tears were streaming down their faces. It was amazing that they'd been able to even take the picture, but they unfortunately had. Then they took a whole bunch more, pretending to be lesbian lovers. They sat on the floor, among all the discarded outfits, with the frigid and annoyed saleslady right outside the door and reviewed their photoshoot. It was during their next laugh attack that she had hit clicked "yes" to the send to all command.

Now she was going to have a lot of explaining to do at Thanksgiving sitting around the table with her grandmother and her aunts. She would never be able to look her cousins in the face again after they saw that picture. She prayed that no one would be cruel enough to put it out on the Internet or she might actually have to become a lesbian because no guy would ever date her again.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Losing Proposition

Gary and I were sitting in his sister's car, AC blasting to ward off the DC September heat, sharing a Dean and Delucca prociutto sandwich when he turned to me with a conspirational smile. I smiled back, already excited to join him on whatever off the wall adventure he was about to suggest.
"Dude, I have the best idea!"
"Great! What is it?"
"Well, you know how neither one of us has a girlfriend or a boyfriend right now?"
"Don't remind me - I'm trying hard to forget it..."
At that point, my heart was beginning to beat a little faster. I'd never really thought of Gary in that way, he'd always been a really fun buddy who was always game for a party. But he was decent looking and I was crazy lonely. I was beginning to wonder if today was going to be the first day of a glorious relationship - one that could lead to marriage and kids one day.
"So dude, I was thinking that maybe we should hook up, you know, while we don't have anyone else."
"Are you for real! You mean, just hook up, no relationship, no commitment, just until something better comes along?"

Gary turned to me, still smiling, still proud of his stroke of inspiration.

"Yeah, so what do you think?"
"What do I think? I think you're an a**hole, that's what! Take me home, I'm done hanging out."
"What? You don't think it's a good idea? I thought you had nothing to do all afternoon? Why do you want to go home?"
"Just take me home."
"Are you pissed?"
"Why aren't you talking? Are you mad at me? What did I say? Why are you mad?"
"Look - I'm not mad - just take me home."
"But, I thought we were going to go to the music store?"
"Just take me home ... NOW."

And that day marked the end of a beautiful friendship.

The Fiction Friday prompt for today was: Write about a failed proposal.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Beach House Review

Jane Green's latest novel brings together a diverse cast of characters in a big old house in Nantucket. The owner of the house, Nan, is an eccentric old widow who likes to swim nude in strangers' pools during the off-season. In oder to keep the house when her money runs out, she decides to take in boarders thus bringing together Daff, the lonely divorcee, Daniel, the confused recently separated husband, and Michael, a jeweler from Manhattan. The bulk of the story takes place on Nantucket's gorgeous relaxed summer scene.

With the exception of Michael Crichton, I'm not usually a fan of popular fiction. I'll occasionally pick up a James Patterson or a Mary Higgins Clark for the pleasure of a gripping plot to read on the plane, but I often get frustrated by the writing. Jane Green's novel was no exception, but when I persevered, I got hooked by the plot. Once I stopped looking for great sentences to keep in my writing notebook, I started turning to the Beach House like a guilty pleasure, the same way I watch Gossip Girl on tv.

I then feverishly burned through the rest of the book, eager to see whether Nan would manage to hang on to the house, if Daniel would find happiness, and if Daff would stop being lonely. I stayed up until 1AM last night when I finally finished it.

I give it two stars because although I enjoyed it, it's really not my kind of book, but that doesn't mean The Beach Housemight not be your ideal beach pick.

I'm giving away a copy of the Beach House at Chefdruck Musings. Click over to enter to win!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tutu Monstrosity

Jane sat on the hard slatted bench, fidgeting nervously with her shirt buttons. The bench was digging into her legs, undoubtedly making unflattering red marks that would soon be visible to the other moms when she stood up. She looked around, glancing at the wall clock, wondering how much longer she was going to have to wait. She was just thinking that she'd never noticed how grating the peptobismo-pink walls of the dance studio were, when Miss Patti opened the door with a flourish. She beckoned the mothers in with a smile meant to be dazzling but that came off as forced.

Jane quickly removed her pumps and stepped into the brightly list studio. She smiled at Lindsey. Her baby looked so adorable in her black tutu with pink tights - she was the exact image Jane had pictured during pregnancy when she'd dreamed of having a daughter. Jane congratulated herself for having done such a good job with her hair today - not a strand was out of place in the pink chignon pocket. All the little ballerinas looked beautiful, but Lindsey was clearly a cut above the rest as she beamed back at her mother with a broad smile. Even though she was only four, it was already clear that she had a dancer's lean build.

Jane tore her eyes away from her daughter, and turned her attention back to Miss Patti who was addressing the moms from the front of the room. Jane couldn't help but reluctantly admire the woman's toned body as it reflected on all sides in the mirrors around the room. She had to be at least sixty, and her butt and thighs were carved like marble. The definition in her black-spandex clad buttocks became even clearer as Miss Patti bent over to pull out of a cardboard box a sample costume the girls would be wearing at their recital.

It was hard to tell because it was still wrapped in plastic, but it did not seem to be pink. Jane felt a twinge of disappointment which quickly turned to fury when Miss Patti proudly held up a leopard-skin monstrosity. She started gushing about how much fun the costume would be and how well suited it would be to their tap number, but Jane had trouble hearing her over the roar in her ears. There were also a couple of girls crying. The rigid smile on Miss Patti's face grew even tighter as she interrupted her speech to address the growing anarchy. "Now now girls, you are going to be the hit of the recital! You will be wild! This is nothing to cry about. This costume is much more fun than a boring old pink outfit."

Jane swallowed hard, trying to control the tears she could feel brimming on her eyelids. She couldn't cry in front of Lindsey, who was actually oblivious to the commotion, chatting with a little friend. Jane had to have a good attitude, but she felt so powerless to help her daughter. With just a few weeks to go before the recital, it was too late to order more costumes and she couldn't deprive Lindsey of the chance to perform.

She glared at Miss Patti, wondering what on earth had possessed her to pick such a hideous outfit. At that moment, Miss Patti met her eye and her smile faded for a moment as she winked coldly at her. Jane suddenly realized that she was the one to blame. It seemed like her blog wasn't as anonymous as she'd thought after all. Miss Patti must have read her post poking fun at her the other day. She must not have found it funny.

Today's Fiction Friday Prompt: Write about a leopard print dress.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Night is my Playground

Photo courtesy of Photo Bucket - Rema XO.
I'm a little late with my Fiction Friday post. The prompt this week was: Pick a character who loves the dark, and tell us why. Avoid the obvious choices: stealth, monsters, sex, and anything else you immediately thought of.

At night, I am finally safe; safe from the harmful rays of the sun. I wait, hiding behind my blackout curtains, until I see the neighbor's lights wink at me as they blink on one by one, beckoning me out. The twilight of sunset is pure torture for me, as even the sun's weakening rays could cause me irreperable harm, blistering my skin within minutes. I've succumbed to the temptation a few times, desperate to see some natural colors, but have the scars as memories.

When night finally falls, like a comforting blanket, I flee from the home that is my daytime tomb. I walk miles and miles every night, hungry for the stimulation of real sights and sounds, not filtered through the tv screen. If I feel the need for real distance, I'll even ride my bike and cover thirty or forty miles. I can't drive a car as I was not able to take the test at night. Even if I were licensed, I don't think I would chance getting behind the wheel. There are just too many fluorescent lights on the highway, at rest stops and in the toll plazas.

Although the night is my prison, I don't hate it or resent it. Night is my time. Night is my domain. It's the only time when I can pretend to be normal for a few hours. In the darkness I can't see the scars on my hands or the pity in other's eyes as they look at my freakish face.

At some point, every night I make my way to the train tracks, my chosen spot, my favorite spot. I have a little flashlight to guide my steps through the field. Next summer, in early August, when the field is still full of lavender, I'll make my way to the railroad tracks for the last time. I like to imagine that my last sensations will be of the warmth of a summer night coupled with the delicate aroma of flowers. Then the blackness of night will wrap around me forever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free Food for Millionaires Review

Free Food for Millionaires is a sprawling novel depicting the life of Casey Han, a first generation Korean immigrant who navigates the choppy waters of the New York investment banking world. Casey is the oldest daughter of Joseph and Leah, whose lives are split between running a large dry cleaner in midtown Manhattan and participating actively in their Catholic church. Through her hard work and good grades, Casey earns a fully-paid scholarship to Princeton, but she struggles to find her identity amongst all the old money. That struggle carries on after graduation as she begins her career.

I would have loved Free Food for Millionaires, if it had ended around the middle, around page 300. I'm a quick read, and I don't mind a hefty book, but it has to be worth my time. This novel started out with a gripping plot and well-drawn characters, even with the author's confusing point of view shifts. But the author did not know when to stop. She drew out the story by devoting chapters to minor characters such as Casey's mom Leah and Casey's friend Ella.

When I finally reached the end, it was anti-climactic, one of those endings, without giving too much away, that just peter out mid-scene, vaguely hinting at what the future might hold. It seemed that, after watching Casey struggle to make money and have a successful career for close to 600 pages, the author wanted us to conclude that she did not belong in that world and did not deserve love.

I was disappointed by Free Food for Millionaires. I loved getting a a glimpse of the investment banking world and of New York Korean culture. I enjoyed being reminded of the how hard it was to forge my own identity after college. But I wish the story had been tighter, more concise, and ended sooner.

You can also read my review at Dear Reader, and see other responses to it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Luck Turns...

A few weeks ago on Fiction Friday, we wrote about a very unlucky character. Today's challenge is to have his or her luck turn around. It was so painful to write about this poor guy the last time, this should be a piece of cake!

Once the doors of the ambulance closed, it took me a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the dim lighting inside the truck. Then I noticed the paramedic who was busy working on my legs. She was so beautiful that I got scared I had died and gone to heaven and was in the presence of an angel. I didn't want to speak in case she disappeared, but she broke the spell by looking up at me with a warm smile. "I hope I'm not hurting you too much," she said. It seemed like she was speaking to me, but girls like that don't generally speak to guys like me. I craned my head around to see the lucky guy she was addressing, but the shooting pains throughout my body made me collapse back down on the gurney. I shut my eyes, overwhelmed by the pain. I felt a cool touch on my wrist and opened my eyes. She was bent over me and I could feel her sweet breath on my face. Her face was even lovely with a frown of concern. When she saw that I hadn't fainted, she smiled. "Don't worry, you're in good hands. I'm going to make sure you get better really soon." I'm not sure if it was the pain, or my unusual good fortune, but everything went black, and I fainted.

Six days later, I was able to return home. I still wasn't convinced that Joyce was a mortal human, as she truly seemed to be sent from God as a reward for being a decent guy, but I didn't want to jinx my luck by thinking about it too much. True to her word, she hadn't left my side for the entire time I was in the hospital. She'd made sure I was comfortable, that my casts were set well, and that I had my favorite foods. She had even fed me with her own hands so that I wouldn't tire myself out! And now she was wheeling me back to my apartment. Robert had come to visit from work, ostensibly to pay his condolences, but I could tell that it was to make sure I wasn't faking it. Once he'd seen Joyce, his entire attitude had changed. He couldn't believe that such a hot girl was taking care of me.

When we walked into the building, Fat Norma was in the hallway. When she saw me, ambling along with my cane and my casts, she started racing to the elevator to pull her usual shut the door in my face stint. Joyce sized up the situation immediately and briskly walked to the elevator to claim it. She smiled tersely at Norma, and said, "I'm sure we can all fit in here nicely." Norma had no retort and was forced to wait a few minutes for me to make my way to the elevator. When we got to my floor, Joyce escorted me out. When she had her back turned, I looked back at Norma and winked. I wasn't sure when my luck would run out, but it felt good to be a winner for a change!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


My writing group has gone online this summer as everyone travels to their various summer destinations. We're sharing weekly writing prompts in order to stay connected and keep writing...

Last week's writing prompt was Naughty.

Brenda sighed. She was going to have to fire the new nanny. That meant another search, another unpleasant confrontation, and more downtime with no coverage and no one to help out with Tyler and Rex. She felt her breath quicken and her heart race with anxiety just thinking about it. How on earth would she keep them busy? Maybe she could find some sort of military boot camp for little boys to drain them of all that destructive energy. She made a mental note to google that, along with miracle nannies and discipline experts.

When Brenda had hired Mathilda, she'd thought that all her problems were answered. Mathilda was an attractive petite brunette with a functional yet flattering bob. She had been polite and articulate during the interviews as she explained her discipline strategy to Brenda. The words punishment room and spanking rod in Mathilda's elegant British accent were like a beautiful melody in Brenda's ears. If the boys did not succumb to Mathilda's female charms, they would be vanquished by her iron-clad child management technique. Brenda had hired her on the spot, and had only needed one Ambien a night to get her beauty sleep in the weeks before her arrival.

The first few days with Mathilda at the helm had proceeded splendidly. The boys had been so charmed by her that they had become little angels. Brenda hadn't felt her usual need to escape the house. She'd been able to host an impromptu luncheon for the Junior Women's Club steering committee that had gone off without a hitch. Life with Mathilda was going to be wonderful.

Exactly one week after Mathilda arrived, Brenda was woken in the middle of the night out of a delicious non-Ambien natural slumber by a loud thump. It seemed to be coming from the nanny's room. She ran through the house's dark halls and threw open Mathilda's door. Brenda turned on the light and was confronted by a pitiful sight: a red-faced snot-nosed Mathilda sobbing in a heap on the floor. Her perfect coiffe had been transformed into a stringy wet mop sticking to the sides of her face. It took Brenda a few minutes to piece together what Mathilda was repeating over and over again through her hot tears. "Naughty boys! Naughty boys! I've never seen such naughty boys." Brenda suddenly heard muffled giggling from the closet and she sighed, understanding that her short-lived peace was over.

Once Mathilda calmed down enough to give Brenda the details, she'd been filled by a perverse pride for the lethalness of the boys' attack. While they had pretended to be so well-behaved, they had really been on a reconnaissance mission, quietly observing the enemy before electing a battle plan. The attack began on Monday morning at 4:47 AM with a ferocious water balloon attack on Mathilda's sleeping form. It was over as quickly as it began, and Mathilda would have been convinced that she had dreamt it, if she wasn't soaked from head to toe. She'd started walking to the bathroom to change into dry pajamas but she'd slipped on a strategically placed minefield of marbles and landed hard on her side. The thump had shaken the house and woken Brenda.

The termination discussion wasn't difficult as some others had been, as Mathilda was eager to escape the twins. Brenda, Rex and Tyler watched her walking out with her two suitcases, her functional high heels wobbling on the cobblestone street. Rex leaned into Brenda and gave her a little hug before asking, "Was that the last one Mommy? Now will you be our nanny?"

Friday, June 20, 2008


This week's Fiction Friday prompt is: Without it up, use the word Intaglio in your fiction friday entry.

UPS Delivery Truck

The doorbell rings. I peek out of my window, hoping to see the big brown UPS truck I've been waiting for the last few days. I jump up in joy when I spy the bare white legs under the tell-tale brown shorts of the driver walking briskly away. I wonder if he has a choice of shorts or pants and actually chooses the ridiculous shorts. I push that random thought out of my head to run down and get the treasure my little short-clad elf has left me.

My Intaglio is finally here. I had ordered it the first day it was available to the American market. All the articles about it, first in the Italian press, then in the American press raved about it. I couldn't wait to see it, hold it, touch it. I couldn't believe that it was mine.

My friends told me that I was crazy to spend so much money on an Italian gadget. They tried to get me to change my mind, to use the money to go on an exotic vacation, but I could not be swayed. I knew the Intaglio would change my life.

The package was satisfyingly large, but it was devoid of any flashy branding, except for its unusual midnight black color. I bent down to pick it up and had to kneel down as it was heavier than I imagined. I carried it into the house, grunting with effort, but being extremely careful not to drop my $5000 loot. I was going to be eating a lot of plain pasta dinners to help my budget recover; I didn't want to break it before it had a chance to revolutionize my life.

I grabbed the scissors from the drawer and sliced open the box. I slowly slid the shiny black machine out of its styrofoam prison and placed it triumphantly on my counter. My decrepit little kitchen was transformed by the magnificent Intaglio.

I plugged it in and grabbed the porcelain espresso cup I'd purchased just for this occasion. I easily found the drawer for the coffee beans, poured in the water, and pressed the espresso button. The Intaglio came to life with thrilling hissing noises. The gleaming computer screen next to the espresso icon flickered, and turned on, revealing the face of a gorgeous Italian man. He was my Intaglio match of the day. He flashed me a dazzling smile and his "bonjourno bella!" was crystal clear on the state of the art speakers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Review of Rockabye by Rebecca Woolf

Here's my review of Rockabye. I also posted this at the Dear Reader book review blog.

Rockabye: From Wild to Child, the memoir of the first two years of motherhood of party girl turned mother Rebecca Woolf is filled with pearls of wisdom. It reads like the blogs it was likely crafted from, but it flows well.
I found it particularly inspiring at the end when Woolf encourages all mothers to not use being a mother as an excuse to stifle their passions. ”Bringing a child into the world shouldn’t mean locking ourselves out of our own. Nothing will be lost on those who explore their passions limitlessly.” She exhorts all mothers to make room for their own happiness, “Happiness is the most underrated accessory to success. It is paramount to be inspired by life in order to be an inspiration to a child.” Woolf inspires without being preachy.
Woolf also does a great job of capturing a mother’s angst in finding mommy friends to bond with as well as describing her struggles with coming to terms with her son Archer’s special needs. She resents needing the help of “ists” to help him learn how to speak. She also describes some beautiful moments playing with her son. Her love for him and their special bond are palpable, a real celebration of the connection between mother and child.
Rockabye is more than a mommy memoir though. It is a also a chronicle of her developing relationship with the father of her child. She honestly and fearlessly describes their marriage as it morphs from a budding romance to sharing the burden of parenthood together.
Rockabye is a brutally honest tale that left me inspired to continue capturing my own parenting and marital experiences. I loved it, devoured it, and filled pages of my notebooks with its quotes. I give it five stars.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sometimes It's Best to Stay in Bed

I knew I had overslept as soon as I saw how bright it was outside. I looked over at my alarm to understand why it didn't ring. Evil Cat
Turns out the stupid cat knocked over my water glass, again. Must be some sort of passive aggressive way of telling me to sleep less. Maybe some more therapy sessions would help. But no time to think of that, I had to focus on getting to work to avoid being fired. Thanks to the frigging cat, this would be the fifth time this month that I walked in after 9:30. Robert would not be pleased, again.

I raced out of the apartment, and yelled at Fat Norma to hold the elevator. She actually flipped me the bird and smiled evilly before the doors closed in my face. I realized that my shoelace, which I had forgotten to tie in my rush to get out the door, had made it in the elevator. I felt a strong tug on my right foot before it snapped off - breaking my new $200 Johnson and Murphy loafers.

I decided that I could not take the time to wait for the elevator, and took my chances with the stairs. It was only 15 flights, not too bad. I didn't see the banana peel until it was too late. Due to my speed, I basically took flight over the 12 steps until the next landing. I landed, hard, and could not get up. Everything hurt, my back, my legs, my arms... I was shot.

As the ambulance pulled away, I hoped that I would at least have a cast to show Robert the next time I made it in to work. Perhaps that would save my job.

This post was inspired by the Fiction Friday prompt: Sketch out a character with wildly bad luck. Make it a character you like, as we will use her again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blog Catalog

I just signed up for blog catalog. It's a great way to get more exposure for your blog and discover new blogs too.

Check it out.

Friday, June 6, 2008


James couldn't picture the color of his wife's eyes anymore. He couldn't remember the last time he'd really looked into her eyes. Lately her eyes were fixated on one thing - the giant IMac screen in their kitchen. With its bluish glow reflected in her brown eyes, it seemed as though her eyes had morphed into a new color, like those people who get colored lenses and create unnatural looking eye color combinations.

James rued the day he'd walked into the Apple store. He'd been easily seduced by the flawless design of the IMac. He had never thought that he would describe a computer as beautiful, but there simply was no other way to describe it, and the price couldn't be beat. He never would have bought it, even if it had only cost a dollar, if he'd known it would cost him his wife.

The IMac was, as advertised, truly plug and play. It was up and running as soon as he connected the power cord. They had all gathered, drawn in by the stunning purple space screensaver. One by one, the kids had drifted off to their games, and eventually James had gotten up to go to the bathroom. Brenda had just settled in on her stool and had never left. A little while later, when he'd gotten involved with his bathroom private time, Brenda had called out to him, all excited about how clear the ebay fonts were on the new monitor. He hadn't her sound that excited in a long time, and it worried him.

Now she was up late every night, monitoring her many auctions. She bought everything on ebay now: clothing, toys, furniture, even collectibles. They'd never been collectibles people - they used to call those people freaks - and they now were the proud owners of a growing collection of creepy bobble head figurines.

Brenda, who had always prided herself on being a supermom, barely noticed the kids. She only bathed them when they complained of being itchy or in pain. She threw in frozen waffles for breakfast and frozen chicken nuggets for lunch and dinner. She forgot to brush their hair and sign their permission slips. Although Brenda was still living with them, still physically his wife and their mother, she had mentally checked out of their lives.

James had tried speaking to her - at first nicely, then angrily, and finally with utter desperation. Nothing got through to her. She reacted with the least amount of word possible, and turned back to her screen. Now he was out of options, he opened the door to the highest bidder and helped him carry the IMac out to his car. James would miss having a computer, but he missed Brenda more.

Friday, May 23, 2008


get the Fiction Friday code

This Week’s Theme: Conspinkey. Don't look that word up, because it doesn't exist. But you're going to use it in your entry.

I walked into the Iron Arms and was momentarily blinded as my eyes adjusted to the gloomy smoky bar. I scanned the room as nonchalantly as I could. Then I saw him. I almost missed him; he blended in so well with the other guys at the bar, but the beat-up stetson on his lap set him apart.

I walked over to the bar and stopped behind his chair. I coughed the word discreetly into my hand, "Conspinkey." He casually said, "God Bless you. Or is it more PC to say gazundheit nowadays?" I smiled, relieved that I had picked the correct man and that my instinct had been dead on. "Either one is fine with me, thank you. It got chilly early this year, don't you think?" He nodded and replied, "Can I buy you a hot toddy to warm you up?" His innocuous words chilled me to the bone. I squeaked out my answer, "No thanks. Warm drinks don't sit well with me," and I walked out as quickly as I could without calling attention to myself.

I needed to make my way to a private contact point as quickly as I could; there wasn't much time to warn headquarters. I'd been prepared for a shirley temple or even a pint of guinness at the worst, but a hot toddy was the worst possible scenario. There was nothing left to do other than getting as far out of the city as possible. This time tomorrow there would be nothing left.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Baby Bird Soars

The baby bird sat at the edge of the nest, paralyzed with fear. His little talons clung to the bunch of mashed up sticks and feathers that had been the only home he had ever known. The nest had stopped being warm and cozy when his brothers and sisters flew away. It was hard, cold and smelly. His mother hadn’t stopped by with food for the entire day and he was hoarse from chirping out her name in hunger.

He knew that it was time to fly away, but he couldn’t bring himself to take the leap. It was just so high, terribly, terrifyingly high. He could hardly make out the ground below. Why hadn’t his parents chosen a nice low lying bush to make their nest? Now he was left with the difficult choice of plummeting to his death or starving.

With one last pitiful chirp, he closed his eyes tightly and flung himself out into the void. At first, he was falling straight down, plummeting to the death he’d imagined many times before. Then, without knowing exactly how, his wings started flapping and the awful sensation of falling disappeared. He was flying!

At first it was a bumpy ride, then he figured out how to work with the wind instead of against it. He began to glide through the air, buffeted up by the gentle breeze. He came to a beautiful field of wildflowers and swooped down to feast on a cloud of mayflies. His belly now full, he started to enjoy the ride and test out his new skill. He soared into the brilliant blue sky as high as he could go, singing with joy for all the world to hear.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: Soar.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Three Little Pigs

Once upon a time, a single mother had her three sons. They lived frugally in a two bedroom apartment on the bad side of town and yet they could barely make ends meet. She worked two jobs to bring in enough money to clothe and feed three hungry boys but it was never enough. She worked so hard and worried so much that she became severely depressed and was committed to a state mental asylum for shock treatments.

The oldest son told his brothers not to worry because he had a plan. He dropped out of high school, a few months before graduation, and began dealing drugs at local strip bars and night clubs. He made decent money, but it wasn't enough, so he began cutting his product with powdered sugar. One night, a dissatisfied customer shot him in the head and he died.

The second brother put his grief aside in order to care for his youngest brother. He knew better than to get involved with drugs. He had heard that you could make a lot of money by working in construction. He dropped out of school a year before graduation and started working as a builder for a new office building. His athletic body was perfectly suited to the work and he was a hard worker. He quickly became an asset to the crew. He joined a union and quickly got a pay raise. He was making good money and got along well with the other workers; he was happy. One day, hungover from too many beers with the guys while watching the game, he tripped while walking on a beam and fell twenty stories to his death.

The youngest brother was now all alone, but he didn't panic or make desperate choices. At this point, he only had a year of high school left. He continued to work hard in school, living on pasta and tuna sandwiches. He took out a loan in his mother's name to cover any unavoidable expenses. He was named the valedictorian of his class and was accepted at Harvard with a full scholarship. He graduated from Harvard in three years with a dual major in economics and english literature. JP Morgan competed with many other investment banks for the privilege of hiring him. They won him over with a starting salary of $125,000 and a company Lexus.

He moved to a nice two bedroom apartment in a fashionable part of New York City and checked his mother out of her asylum. He set her up in the apartment with a visiting psychiatric nurse. He then moved his brother's bodies to a nearby cemetary and commissioned beautiful matching headstones for their tombs. With his family taken care of, he got to work. He dedicated all his waking hours to conquering Wall Street. He became the youngest partner JP Morgan had ever had. His poor mother never spent another minute worrying that the big bad wolf was at the door.

This story was inspired by the Fiction Friday Prompt: Pick a favorite fairy tale or legend. Now briefly describe how you could update it to the modern day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Horns

Even at night, in the dark, with just a little wimpy quarter moon in the sky, they taunted me. I could see the moon's reflection in the large Texas Longhorns mounted on the back of the Cohen's house; it was like a circus spotlight. Every time I saw them, I got angrier. Even now that I was finally getting ready to take action, just seeing them made me furious.

Those Cohens had pushed me too far when they ignored my last letter. I am not an unreasonable man. I gave them one last chance. I warned them that I would be forced to take action if they didn't remove that flaming insult, but they didn't even bother to answer. They chose to continue to insult the Roma family name with their insinuations that my wife was unfaithful. When they put them up, I explained to them that those horns mean cuckold in Sicily, but they thought I was being funny. They even laughed when I suggested they take them down. Bet they won't be laughing later tonight. Day after day after day I have been mocked by those horns right outside my dining room window, staring me in the face, hinting that my wife lies with another man.

They tried to tell me that the horns were a souvenir from their honeymoon in Arizona, but they couldn't fool me. I saw how they laughed at me when they thought I couldn't see them. I heard them joke about my anger when they were barbecuing with friends. I won't be the butt of jokes. Especially not when I've been so nice to those people. Soon they'll be sorry that they tried to make a fool of me. No one makes a fool of Tony Roma.

The can of gasoline banged against my knee. The pain snapped me out of my dreams of revenge. It was time to get to work.

This piece of fiction was inspired by the Friday Fiction prompt: Using first person narration, logically describe something that is crazy. Click through to see what others did with the prompt!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

PTA Hopes

Sally looked over at the mixed crowd of parents, teachers, and various educational personnel scattered around her. Her palms were sweaty, no matter how much she wiped them on her nicely fitted 7 jeans; she couldn't get rid of that damp clammy feeling. She felt warm and wondered if she looked as flushed and disheveled as she felt.

Principal Edward Singer was up on the podium, droning on and on about the procedures they were going to put in place to prevent further outbreaks of lice at the school. To date there were four kids in two classrooms quarantined at home until they were lice-free. Sally made a mental note to check Madison's hair tomorrow morning then refocused herself on her impending moment of truth. The Glenwood Ridge School PTA meeting was about to come to the miscellaneous portion of the agenda. Sally quickly glanced at the thick stack of white notecards she'd been clutching to assure herself that she was ready to plead her case. She'd been readying herself for this moment for a long time.

It all began when Madison first started eating lunch at school. She tired quickly of Sally's wholesome brown bag lunches and started asking for lunch money. Initially Sally was happy to give her the few dollars a day, as it meant one less thing for her to prepare in the morning. However, Sally quickly became appalled by the poor food options available to the students. The healthiest option was usually frozen pizza, but even that was overshadowed by Doritos, french fries, and chili dogs. No wonder obesity was becoming a crisis in America! Madison's brown bag lunches made a quick comeback, but that did not quell Sally's discomfort with the situation. Glenwood was an affluent community; they should be setting the standard for public school nutrition, not being a victim of a statewide trend. A few months ago, during what she thought was a typically one-sided conversation with her husband Larry, he interrupted her rant about the sad state of affairs in the Glenwood cafeteria with a simple, yet powerful suggestion, "Sally, why don't you stop complaining, and do something about this already." He had stunned her speechless, but her mind started working overtime immediately. Of course she could and should do something. With her degree from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) currently underutilized making Madison's brown bag lunches, she was the perfect person for the job. She would revamp the cafeteria offerings of the Glenwood Ridge Elementary School. It would probably open up a world of opportunity for her in consulting to other schools and maybe even catering! With that one little suggestion, Larry made her fall in love with him all over again.

For months, she studied the programs of cutting edge public schools around the country, beginning with Alice Water's program in California where the students grow their own produce. Now she was ready to start a food revolution right here in Glenwood. Sure, she was going to get the usual budgetary objections, and she certainly did not know how they were going to pay for any of her proposals. She did know her fellow Glenwood parents, always so proud and sanctimonious, and she was sure they would find it insufferable that other schools had superior culinary programs. Glenwood always prided itself on being one of the best schools in the state; they would not want to come up wanting in any category.

Sally was sure the people around her could hear her runaway heart thundering in her chest. The school secretary had just come to the podium to announce that anyone with miscellaneous items should raise their hand to be invited up to speak. Sally started to lift her hand, slowly, shakily at first, then higher and more confidently to gain the attention of the secretary. As Sally prepared to get up, she realized that she felt electrified and more alive than she had felt in years. She took a second to thank Larry silently again for his little suggestion. The secretary called out, "Sally Smith, you are welcome to the podium to bring up a miscellaneous item."

This was a beginning attempt at fiction based on the writing prompt MISCELLANEOUS. For more sunday scribblings on the same prompt, please visit the Sunday Scribblings blog


Lindsay was in a truly foul mood. She was sitting in a creaky and uncomfortable white wicker chair next to the window of her 500 Euro a night room in Santorini. She should have been gazing out onto one of the most beautiful vistas in the world: the Santorini Caldera, a stunning volcanic crater jutting out from pristine blue waters dotted with quaint Greek fishing vessels; instead all she could see was grey fog. It was as if she was wrapped in a thick, damp, foul grey blanket.

Ironically, it made perfect sense that, after 4 days here, she had yet to see the dazzling white rooftops and scintillating blue ocean of Santorini. She didn't question her luck at being stuck in this freakish fog. She was supposed to be here on her honeymoon, relaxing on the black sand beaches with her new husband James, but as she had broken his heart by leaving him at the altar five days ago, it made sense that she would be punished with this foul weather.

James had refused to use the non-refundable tickets to Athens. She'd insisted that he take them and go with his best man, but he had muttered something about going to stay with his mother for a while. It seemed silly to let the tickets go to waste, so she had grabbed her bag and jumped on the plane. There had been no time in all the confusion to ask one of her friends to join her. Now she was sitting here, sick of eating Greek salad and moussaka, with no one to talk to and nothing to do except consider what she'd done.

It had all started so promisingly last July. They had met at Moran's Bar down by the water in Battery Park during a lazy summer happy hour. James was funny, smart, and good-looking in a good-guy-next-door sort of way. After a few mojitos, they'd grabbed some sushi and had ended up talking 'til dawn. By Thanksgiving, they were living together. He had proposed that New Year's eve, with champagne corks and fireworks popping all around them. She had immediately said yes, looking up into his brown eyes. It seemed quick but right. They were so in love.

Once the ring was on her finger, like a lead weight dragging her down, things changed. James' mother, Brenda, took a starring role in their relationship. Lindsey watched helplessly as her new fiance turned into a simpering momma's boy overnight. Her relationship with Brenda rapidly went from cautious polite to outrightly antagonistic. Brenda insisted on being involved in every wedding decision from placecard font to cake flavors. Each time the two women disagreed, James sided with his mother. Lindsey had even asked him angrily one night whether he wouldn't rather be marrying Brenda.

Miraculously they had made it to the wedding day, July 20, exactly one year after their first mojitos. Lindsey had been hoping that once the wedding was over, she and James could go back to the way things used to be, before his mother became a constant third wheel in their lives. She had been particularly looking forward to spending two weeks touring Greece with him alone. Neither had been before, and they had both been so excited to discover Greece together.

On the big day, she had stood outside the heavy mahogany doors of St Alban's Catholic Church, nervously fingering the smooth satin of her gown. She was alone. She had no siblings, and her parents were gone. She was so eager to put the whole wedding mess behind her and begin her life with James as she had imagined it before things got so hard.

The doors slowly swung open and she peered cautiously in the dimly lit church, blinded by the contrast with the sun outside. She could see many of Brenda's friends ogling her critically. She strained to catch a glimpse of James, up at the altar. When she finally spotted him, she paused. James was so intently staring at his mother, sitting in the front pew, that he did not notice his bride. At that moment, Lindsey knew that nothing would ever change. Brenda was part of the package. She realized that going through with the wedding would be a catastrophic mistake. The only easy part of the decision was knowing that Brenda had paid for the wedding and reception. She had to protect herself, even though it probably meant hurting James.

Now she was alone in grey Santorini and she missed the James she'd moved in with, the James she'd falled in love with, the James who was not his mother's son before he was her lover. She stared at the murky waters down below, hearing the sad tolling of the bells warning the sailors off the cliffs, and she wondered whether she would ever love again like she did last fall.

This fiction writing was inspired by this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt: FOUL. Check out how others used the prompt!

Fridge Space

The house is dark and quiet with the exception of the occasional sleep whimper from little Jack. Juliette is snuggled up against my shoulder; her cheek still red and wet with tear tracks. Every few seconds she hiccups a quiet sob and clutches my side more tightly, as if to ensure that I will never leave her in that dark room alone again. I give her soft curls a caress, letting my free hand linger there as we begin to tiptoe down the stairs by the flickering light of the lamp post on the corner.

We get all the way down the stairs without tripping over the baby gate and go around the corner towards the kitchen. The cold tiles on my naked feet send shivers up my spine. The hardwood floor of the kitchen is a relief. I glance at the microwave clock: 2:16AM. With any luck, I can have her back to sleep and be back in bed by 2:30.

I pull open the fridge door, praying that I had the forethought to leave a bottle of milk ready. I glance around the well-stocked fridge shelves, taking in the lack of fridge space with satisfaction: 4 gallons of milk, 3 packs of fleur de sel butter, a big container of tomato corn chowder, a bowl of cut up strawberries and melon, and a Tupperware filled with cut-up roast chicken. I love a full fridge.

A bottle of milk is tucked up in front of the milk cartons in the door. I grab it and sleepily make my way back up the stairs. I tiptoe into Juliette’s room and settle in on her blue armchair to feed her the bottle. She’s asleep again after a few sips and I settle her limp body back in her crib. I tuck her cuddly pink blanket around her and walk out backwards, closing the door with a soft click.

With a few quick quiet steps I’m back on my side of the bed. It’s still warm. I peek at the clock: 2:26AM. I breathe a sigh of satisfaction, pull the covers over my head, and settle back into sleep as the comforting warmth surrounds me.

This post is inspired by the writing prompt "fridge space" on Sunday Scribblings.


Valerie hated her skin, everything about it: the color, the complexion, the greasiness, and most of all the zits. She had an okay body as long as she limited her Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey intake. She'd even heard some basketball players comment on her ass the other day before she had turned around and they'd realized who they were talking about. But then they saw her face and any lascivious yet flattering comments about her bootie just dried right up. Conversation generally stopped when people took in the minefield that her face had become.

She essentially was one big "before" picture for a ProActiv campaign. Unfortunately, she had tried ProActiv, along with every other miracle acne cure out there, but had not had the same success as Jessica Simpson. Her face usually had at least 10 large pimples on the forehead, cheeks, or chin. They were red, inflamed, and impossible to ignore. She spent hours in front of the mirror trying to pop them and when she succeeded, the relief was intense. The aftermath wasn't pretty though. The first few days the zit became a crusty crater and then became a scar. She had dozens of these white scars all over her face, a roadmap to loneliness, a guarantee that she would die a virgin. On bad days, even her best friend Maggie had trouble looking her in the eye!

Valerie had one last hope. There was a little clinic just over the border in Mexico that specialized in these desperate acne cases. They had some sort of weekend treatment based on face masks from some sort of illegal plant extract followed by intense chemical peels. Normally Valerie was skeptical about these types of things, but the testimonials she'd read were so powerful. It really seemed like it was extreme enough to make a difference. Her parents, of course, had refused to help. They just didn't get it. So, she had saved all her babysitting money for the last six months and finally had enough: $1000. Her parents believed that she was going camping with Maggie for the weekend, they'd even given her a little extra allowance to buy camping supplies. She couldn't wait to see their faces when she returned transformed. But she was even more excited to see the basketball players faces on Monday morning!

This fiction was inspired by the Fiction Friday challenge: scars.

Night Train

I've always loved sleep. As a kid, I was always comfortable claiming sleep wherever and whenever I needed it: squeezed next to a farting labrador in the back of our little blue Renault V on long car rides down to the South of France, or curled up tight on the banquette of a brasserie while my parents lingered over coffee with friends after dinner. I loved the security of falling asleep trusting that I would somehow wake up in my bed the next morning.

Once our family grew too large, it became unfeasible to make the annual summer vacation trek down to the South of France piled in the car with all our luggage, girls, and pets. We started taking the night train instead. Everything, mother, daughters, dogs, cat, luggage, and even the car, would get on the train. We usually had a compartment to ourselves which we would fill to the rafters with our bodies and belongings. After a quick dinner of bland plastic-wrapped train sandwiches, our compartment would magically be transformed into a sleeping car. There were three sleeping berths on either side of the car, each with its own set of freshly laundered sheet sleeping bags, brown woolen blankets, and tiny SNCF pillows. I loved that everything was in its own plastic bag; it seemed so new and exciting. My mother must have hated making all those beds, but we didn't notice. As bossy eldest child, I would claim the top bunk and climb to my perch pretending to be a pirate. The perilous climb as the train gathered speed and rushed into the tunnels exiting Paris was quite a thrill.

I would slip my still clothed body in the crisp sheet bag and call out a cheerful goodnight to each of my family members. We kept our clothes on to save time upon arrival. Sleeping in such close proximity to my mother and sisters wasn't an inconvenience; it just added to the sense of adventure. The goodnights would die down quickly as we all fell prey to the rhythmic lullaby of the wheels on the train tracks and let the train's motion rock us to sleep.

When the conductor threw open the compartment door to warn us that we would be in Toulon in 10 minutes, it always seemed as though I had just closed my eyes. My sisters and I barely had time to blink the sleep out of our eyes and extricate ourselves from our berths before we disembarked into the blinding sunlight of the train platform. I have no idea how my mother managed to get her three daughters, two dogs, one cat, and luggage off the train without forgetting anything crucial. But there are no disastrous forgotten kids or luggage stories in our family lore so she must have managed it somehow. We always stepped off the train thrilled to see our grandmother again and to begin a month of vacation at the beach. To this day, I get a comfortable sleepy feeling whenever I ride a train, even if it's only a commuter train to New York City.

Later on, as a college student backpacking through Europe, I took more overnight train rides. The sense romance and adventure was heightened by tales of thefts and rapes by dangerous dark Italian men in the night. Even fraught with danger, I still could not resist the train's rhythmic lullaby and slept much more soundly than at youth hostels.

This post was inspired by the prompt "sleep" at Sunday Scribblings.

Puppy Love

It had been a mistake to eat that last hot dog. Greg knew it the minute that first salty, greasy burp began to bubble up his esophagus. Regret flooded him like the burning acid reflux that was sure to follow. But he knew that he had been powerless in the face of a great adversary; he had always been a sucker for big breasts.
A month ago, at Bob’s Beer Hall on Pleasant Avenue, Monica had looked him up and down with those big caramel doe eyes and had given him the slightest little greedy smile. From that moment on he had been able to think of only one thing: sinking his face between those milky white breasts. She knew it, and he knew it: he was doomed.
Infatuation with a Nathan’s Best hot dog saleswoman was a dangerous game. He had quit his job and started using up his meager savings to travel to the stops along her route. She talked to him, touched him on the arm, even gave him free dog samples, but would always slip away before he could try to kiss her. One thrilling night in a crowded bar on the outskirts of Tucson, the crowd had pressed around her and her tray of mini wieners. In the crush of the happy hour rush, his hand had been pushed into her right breast. It felt just like he’d fantasized. That little taste of paradise had been enough to fuel him to continue the chase through another seven cities.
Now here they were in Hackensack, New Jersey at the annual Bergen County hot dog challenge. Monica had breathlessly explained to him that winning this competition would be a huge win for Nathan’s, and a huge win for her. Anyone who helped her would receive her heartfelt gratitude. She had leaned up against him suggestively and he had agreed to be the Nathan’s competitor, up against the 300-pound monster representing Oscar Meyer. He didn’t know how much lust could make up for the lack of bulk on his scrawny 125 pound body, but he knew that if he didn’t try and find out, he would never get to dive into Monica’s bosom.
He lost pitifully. The Oscar Meyer man had scarfed down fifty hot dogs in ten minutes without breaking a sweat. The last hot dog Greg had consumed was his seventeenth, and it had brought tears to his eyes. Unfortunately, the blurriness in Greg’s eyes had not shielded him from the painful image of the Oscar Meyer Wiener’s meaty hand possessively squeezing Monica’s perfect butt as they walked to his red mustang.

This post is a short short fiction linked to the Sunday Scribblings prompt: Passion. Click through for more interpretations on the same prompt!

Lost Soul

"We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year..." Pink Floyd echoed in the cold dark room. The walls seemed to be pulsating with every electric guitar note. Roger Water's haunting voice began again, "wish you were here..." The burning in Jane's throat and chest was unbearable. She had been sobbing, these animalistic, gut-wrenching cries of despair for over an hour. She didn't think she would ever be able to stop, or even want to stop. Every time she took a shaky breath and lifted her head up, she took in the desolate emptiness of the room and started crying all over again. Jeremy was gone. He had finally left her.

She'd been praying for this moment for the last few months; why did she feel so empty inside? It didn't help that he had taken all her stuff. Instead of slinking away like the sleazy rat he had become, he had made a grand exit by stealing all her clothes, furniture, books, even the wedding picture of her parents. All he'd left her, like some not-so-subtle message, was this Bose IPod dock with her IPod. Unfortunately, he'd even taken the time to erase her entire music library, with the exception of this one song.

Jane thought back to the day they had moved in to this Chelsea studio. They were so happy that day, bickering over whose sofa to keep. They'd ended up making room for both couches and had eaten Chinese food reclining Roman-style on their respective couch. They had even baptized both couches that night by making love on one then the other to test out which one was the most comfortable. She had thought she would be telling a G-rated version of their moving in story to their children one day.

Things went downhill fast from that idyllic day. Living with Jeremy was very different than dating him. He was extremely moody, due to a nasty little cocaine habit he'd kept hidden until now. Once she found out and voiced her displeasure, he promised to quit, but he'd just found better playmates. He didn't even try to hide them, often bringing them to the apartment, and introducing her to them. Every once in a while, they would have a nice day together: a picnic in the park or a movie night on the couch, and she would be reminded of why she had moved in with him. Then the phone would ring and she would hear Candy or Randy's voice on the machine telling Jeremy about a great party, and he would rush out of the apartment. Towards the end, she didn't even have the energy to get angry anymore.

Now she was left with nothing more than the wrinkles of disappointment edged at the corners of her mouth. Slowly the power of Pink Floyd's lyrics started to penetrate her self-indulgent sorrow. What kind of message was he trying to send her? Was he telling her that he still loved her after all that? Or was it some sort of threat? A result of some terrible coke-induced delusion? Should she be scared? Her sobs slowed, she started breathing deep, and shivering. She picked her the phone and called 411. "Hello? I need the number of a 24 hour locksmith." It was time to get herself together.

This post was in response to the prompt, use the lyrics of this Pink Floyd song in a fictional piece from Fiction Friday.

Textbook Treason

This piece of fiction is inspired by this week's Fiction Friday challenge - tell a story that unfolds through text messages. (I took the liberty of mixing it up between text messages and IMs).

SUZYQ: Hey! U there?
AMY269: ☺
SUZYQ: Crazy night, huh?
AMY269: Totally. What happened 2 u?
SUZYQ: Met hot guy. Got digits. U?
AMY269: Got so wasted.
SUZYQ: Brunch Sunday?
AMY269: Same as usual?
SUZYQ: cool. See u.
From 917-456-2789 Friday 2/1/08 10:30AM
From 646-123-4560 Friday 2/1/08 10:31AM
From 917-456-2789 Friday 2/1/08 10:45AM
SUZYQ: He called!
AMY269: Cool.
SUZYQ: Dinner tonight. Totally pumped.
AMY269: Have fun but be careful.
SUZYQ: Got a meeting. Bye.
AMY269: So? Scoop?
SUZYQ: ☺ ☺ ☺ great guy. Don’t want to get too psyched though.
AMY269: Remember Zach.
SUZYQ: that jerk!
AMY269: Movie or party tonight?
SUZYQ: What party?
AMY269: Mike’s.
SUZYQ: Oh God… I’m not in the mood.
AMY269: Come on…. It’ll be fun. Pick up, that’s me calling.
From: Suzie Cell Saturday 2/2/08 1:07PM
From: Paul Cell Saturday 2/2/08 1:45PM
From: Suzie Cell Saturday, 2/2/08 5PM
From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/3/08 3:30AM
From: Suzie Cell Wed 2/6/08 11:30AM
From: Paul Cell Wed 2/6/08 2:30PM
From: Suzie Cell Wed 2/6/08 2:35PM
Sure. 355 W 86 – apt. 15E.
SUZYQ: Ames!!!! Had dinner with HIM again last night. So fun. ☺
AMY269: Can’t talk. In meeting. Call you later.
AMY269: Sorry about be4. Wanna come over to watch Lost 2night?
SUZYQ: sure. I’ll bring wine.
From: Suzie Cell Thursday 2/7/08 10:30PM
AMY269: Hi!
AMY269: What’s up?
SUZYQ: nothing.
AMY269: Did you go out last night with your new guy?
SUZYQ: no.
AMY269: You stayed in on a Friday?
SUZYQ: yeah.
AMY269: Got plans 2night with lover boy?
SUZYQ: no.
AMY269: Come out with me!
SUZYQ: too tired.
AMY269: U OK?
SUZYQ: yeah… just tired.
AMY269: OK. I’ll be at Moran’s if you rally. Brunch tomorrow?
SUZYQ: sure.
From: Suzie Cell Saturday 2/9/08 7:30PM

From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/10/08 11:05AM
From: Amy Cell Sunday 2/10/08 11:45AM
From: Paul Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:05PM
From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:06PM
From: Amy Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:08PM
From: Suzie Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:09PM
From: Amy Cell Sunday 2/10/08 4:10PM

Oh What a Night

There’s a particular smell that takes me right back to college. One little whiff of it and I’m right back, 15 years younger, having a blast. It’s not the smell of new books or dusty libraries, nor is it the chemical smell of dry erase marker. It’s not the smell of burning microwave popcorn during late night study sessions, or of Noxzema on my roommate’s face. It’s the sickly sweet smell of spilt beer on a barroom floor.
Now that I’m a stay-at-home mom in the suburbs, I don’t have many occasions to step into a college bar. We go out on the weekends, but it’s generally not to places with sticky floors. But every once in a great while, I’ll go somewhere that has a hint of stale beer aroma. One hint of a whiff and I’m transported back to late nights dancing with a few of my closest friends in the Pub, our student-run campus bar. Everyone is dripping with sweat, “Oh What a Night” is blasting, and we’re all singing at the top of our lungs. We’ve all been screaming and dancing for hours; we’re hot and wasted; but we don’t care. We’ll stay at the Pub until it closes. It’s where everyone ends up on Saturday night. No one would dream of going home before closing the Pub. The following Monday, we’ll all be back in class together, working hard, but that night we’re all about the celebration, the pure release of letting it all out. Whenever “Oh What a Night” comes on the radio, even if I’m driving the minivan at 8AM with the kids bickering in the back, exhilaration courses through me. For the 90 seconds the song lasts, I’m back at the Pub having the time of my life.

This post was inspired by the prompt "time machine" on Sunday Scribblings.

Joy Fire

“Burn baby burn!” The gorgeous flames licked at the sky, their amber glow clashing with the crisp blue April sky. Tammy put her hands on her hips, loving feeling her hipbones through her chinos, and took in the beautiful sight of her size 8 clothes catching fire.

The last six months had been long and hard but well worth it. The beauty of the blaze almost made up for all those nights without chocolate. Now all that hard work was behind her, burning in that gorgeous bonfire. If her fat clothes didn’t tempt her, she would finally have the discipline to keep her sweet tooth in check and keep on working out.

Just thinking about working out got her blood pumping; she’d never been this fit in her life. Her heart was really racing; she was actually beginning to sweat. Was it the moment? Or was it the fire? Tammy noticed that it was beginning to get a little out of control now that her control-top underwear had caught on fire. The synthetic material was really combustible.

Just as Tammy was beginning to really worry that her little celebratory bonfire was going to take her house, she heard sirens. Just in the nick of time! She glanced at her watch. If they could put the fire out in thirty minutes, she would still have time to make the 1:30 step class.

This fiction was inspired by the Writer's Island prompt: Rising.

Unrequited Love

This post was inspired by the Friday Fiction prompt: "Friend or foe - write about your character's feelings for animals."

John was completely crazy about dogs. He loved them with a passion. He only noticed pretty women if they were walking good-looking dogs, or even ugly dogs. He only had eyes for the pooches. He always carried some sort of dog treat in his pockets, doggie bones of at least two flavors to be sure to have something for finicky palates. He lived to get tails wagging.

John had a great tragedy in his life. He had a certain quality that made dogs fear him. Some dogs ran away from him, some growled at him, and some even lunged at him. None would let him get close enough to pet them. He’d been to see all sorts of specialists, both veterinarians and human doctors, to understand why dogs didn’t reciprocate his affections. The best hypothesis he’d heard was that he emitted a strong predator pheromone. Unfortunately, the research on pheromones was in its infancy. The doctor’s best suggestion had been to try his luck with cats. They just didn’t understand that dog people are not cat people. It was like suggesting that a macho heterosexual become a homosexual because the ladies didn’t care for him.

John continued to hunger for canine affection. He became an expert on pheromones. He increased his dog bone flavor selection and continued stalking the local dog parks and animal rescue centers. His hope never wavered that he would one day encounter a special dog that would appreciate him.


This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings Post: smorgasbord.

A smorgasbord is really another European word for buffet. It somehow seems more decadent and bountiful than the more pedestrian buffet. One is Swedish, the other is French, but they can be used interchangeably to describe the same kind of meal. Smorgasbord is definitely more fun to say.

The most amazing buffet/smorgasbord that I ever attended was Sunday Brunch at the Plaza. The Plaza is currently in the final stages of being transformed into luxury condominiums. They may bring back the Brunch, but it will never be the same. The meal has become even more fantastic in my memory because it can no longer be replicated.

We were at the Plaza to bring my mother and my boyfriend's parents together for the first time. We had just moved in together and my mother was visiting from France. I should have been nervous about bringing our families together, and I probably was, but any butterflies in my stomach flew away the minute I spied the amazing spread at the back of the ballroom. Everything at the Palm Court was golden: the chairs, the painted ceilings, the accent plates, and the chandeliers. There was a string quartet playing with gusto in the corner. Once my eyes and ears tired of the opulence immediately around me, they were drawn to two large golden French doors at the back of the room. This was the gateway to the inner sanctum, where all the glorious food was hiding.

Our waiter came by to distribute mimosas and offer coffee and tea. He then gave us the go ahead to help ourselves to the buffet. My legs and hands were shaking with anticipation. Steve sensed my eagerness and got up to accompany me. Neither one of us could bear to wait for the polite parental get to know you chitchat to end. We had to see for ourselves the delights awaiting us. He took me firmly by the hand and we stepped past the giant golden French doors.

It was an awesome sight. There was a table with a towering array of shellfish: dewy clams and oysters on the half shell, pink shrimp, ruby red Alaskan king crab claws, and even lobster tails. Little ramekins of cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce joined by quarter lemons in adorable little cloth jackets rounded out the shellfish offerings. The usual New York offerings of bagels and lox were taken to the next level with five different kinds of smoked salmon, along with little bowls of caviar, and even a selection of foie gras and pates. There was a mountain of pastries from around the world: croissants, mini chocolate pains au chocolat, strudels, Danishes, brioches, blintzes, and a myriad of flavors of muffins. The sweet vanilla aroma of warm waffles drifted over to us from the waffle station. It mixed pleasantly with the tangy salty smell of the roast beef station. The feast continued with a wide array of savory lunch dishes like mushroom tagliatelle and veal Marsala. They looked good, but were no competition for the rest of the brunch fare. The typical breakfast offerings were like Olympic competitors here: eggs Benedict with either Canadian bacon or smoked salmon with gleaming fresh hollandaise sauce, fluffy silver dollar pancakes with blackberry compote warm on the side, Challah French Toast sprinkled with powdered sugar. My head was swimming trying to decide where to start. Then I looked into the next room and discovered the world of dessert. The room was filled with chocolate and vanilla layer cakes topped with clouds of buttercream frosting, glossy fruit tarts, Boston Cream Pie, German chocolate cakes, mocha mousse cakes, little crystal bowls filled with decadent chocolate mousse, buttery pound cakes, fruit cakes, brownies, and chocolate covered strawberries.

I briefly considered the possibility of just refusing to leave the room for the next week. Then I remembered that brunch ended at 2:30. I came to my senses, realized I was wasting valuable time, and went to work. It was time to take charge of what was sure to be one of the most memorable meals of my life. If I paced myself, I was sure that I would be able to sample the best and the rarest. I found Steve, compared notes, and together we set off to enjoy this momentous meal.


I just don't get it, she thought, as she closed the door with a light little click. Why don't children ever want to go to sleep? Regardless of how tired they are, they fight for every extra minute awake. Ever since she had become a mother, she had been exhausted. She couldn't remember the last time she felt rested. Why didn't she sleep more back when she was single? Tonight, Jayden had bargained for precious extra minutes by introducing a difficult question during her last hug. "Mommy," she whispered, "Can girls marry girls?" Nina had taken a deep breath to compose her thoughts. There were so many ways to go with this question, and each could have repercussions. She could already imagine the annoyed phone calls from other moms asking why her child had been told about lesbianism by Jayden. But the question had to have some root beyond sleep procrastination and that couldn't be brushed off. She had ended up giving her a truthful but fuzzy answer about love. When Jayden had pressed on with, "but how can they have babies mommy," she had cut her off and told her to go to bed. Enough was enough.

She tiptoed past the baby's room and down the stairs, careful not to trip over various dolls and stuffed animals along the way. She found the remote in a bowl of half-eaten goldfish under the sectional. How long had it been there? That was a less controversial mystery. She sat down on the couch, noting the toys scattered around the room. Why don't kids clean up their toys, she wondered. Why don't they realize that would give them more space to play?

She started delicately dropping the goldfish crackers one by one in her mouth. They felt greasy to the touch and she kept wiping her fingertips on her pant leg without ever feeling clean. Why am I eating these disgusting crackers, she wondered as she popped the last one in her mouth. She tossed the empty bowl on the coffee table and wrapped herself in her cozy beige fuzzy blanket. The baby squawked on the monitor. Nina sat up, holding her breath and crossing her fingers. The monitor stayed dark; it seemed the baby had settled back down to sleep. Nina sighed, a mixture of relief and exhaustion. She turned on the TV and turned the channel to her favorite show: Lost. It was high time to start focusing on some adult mysteries for a change.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: I just don't get it Click through for more scribblings on the same prompt.

Piña Colada

This Week’s Theme: Describe a time your character was wronged; even though it was insignificant to the one who wronged them, your character never got over it.

The crystalline Caribbean water sparkled under the hot noonday sun and contrasted beautifully with the pristine white sand of the private beach. Olivia took in the gorgeous view from her perch at a shaded table at the beach snack bar. This hotel was even better than in the brochure. Everything, down to the ice-cold piña colada in front of her with its beads of condensation, was perfect. Sometimes piña coladas were too heavy on the coconut, but this one was just the right combination of rum, pineapple juice and coconut milk. She only drank them on vacation; if done right like this one, a good piña colada really set the tone.

Olivia sighed deeply in total contentment. It was hard to believe that she and her friend Lydia had gotten off the plane only a few hours ago. Five more days of heaven, she thought to herself. It was just what she needed. She could feel the last vestiges of work stress she had been stockpiling over the last few months melt away.

She looked up and spied Lydia walking towards her. Lydia was wearing a beautiful sarong and struggling a bit on the planked floor of the beach restaurant in her high-heeled sandals. Olivia called out, "Hey there! Why don't you take your fancy shoes off? We're in the islands now! You have to feel how delicious this sand is between your toes. Isn't this place amazing?" Lydia looked grumpy and annoyed. "I guess you could call it amazing if you like run-down hovels. I can't believe we're paying $400 a night for this dump. Can you believe it took me over an hour to get a pedicure? And now this stupid wood floor is going to ruin it." Olivia took a deep breath. Maybe it had been a bad idea to invite Lydia to go along on this trip. She had thought it would be fun to go with a girlfriend, but she really hoped Lydia's mood would perk up soon.

"Why don't you join me in a cocktail to get you more in the vacation mood?" Lydia frowned and peered over her large sunglasses to inspect Olivia's drink. "What are you drinking? Do you realize how many calories are in one of those drinks? We need to be in a bikini for 5 days - don't you want to look your best? After all, it's not as though you can afford to gain any more weight. There's nowhere to hide the extra pounds when you're wearing a little bikini like yours." Then Lydia looked over at the bar and spied the hot bartender. She smiled greedily and said, "You know what, maybe a drink is a good idea. I'll be right back. Do you want another?" Olivia sighed before answering, "Why don't you get me an ice water while you're up there."

As Lydia teetered over to the bare-chested bartender, Olivia pushed her drink away sadly. She imagined she could feel the few sips she had just taken get transformed into new cellulite pockets on her butt. She wondered if it was too late to change the coconut shrimp she had ordered for a house salad with dressing on the side. By the time Lydia returned to the table, all giggles and smiles, Olivia was thoroughly depressed. She just wanted to go back to the room and change into that black one-piece she had brought. Five more days in a bathing suit now sounded like pure torture.

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Walking with the Stars

Tropical beaches, with their white sand and impossibly-turquoise water, are incredibly beautiful during the day. At night the glittering daylight colors mutate into a dim blend of browns, blacks and greys. The heat of the day still echoes in the sand trapped between my toes. The rhythmic crashing of the invisible waves upon the beach is a mysterious backdrop to the main event of the night: the awesome spectacle of the night sky. The dazzling blanket of the sky is all the eye can really see. The sky is so huge on the beach, with nothing to obstruct the view, it feels as though I am floating in outer space, surrounded by blackness and little specks of light. I lie on an abandoned beach chair and take in the immensity of the sky. I am stunned by how miniscule I am compared to all of those constellations I wish I could name.

After observing the sky reverently for a while, it's easy to imagine that I am watching an elaborate balls with the many satellites and occasional airplanes doing a spirited dance with the stars. Then, as my eyes begin to get heavy with sleep, a shooting star tears across the dance floor and steals the show. I remember to make a wish and promise myself to keep a piece of this quiet yet awesome glimpse of the universe stored up to chase away future stress.

The waves are beckoning to me now. I get up, roll up my comfy pajama pants and put my feet in the warm water. I'm not quite brave enough to skinny-dip alone on a deserted beach, so I merely walk along the beach, feeling incredibly fortunate to be experiencing this little moment of paradise undisturbed by children or other tourists. I wish I could share this nocturnal beach walk with my husband but he is back in the room watching the children, granting me the gift of this magical solitude. I can see the flickering light of the TV screen through the curtain in our hotel room window. So I walk on, delighting in the feel of the sand between my feet and the warm water on my ankles, knowing that I'm making footsteps that no one will ever see. The black sky melts into the water, it's impossible to see where the sky ends and the water begins. Everywhere, as far as the eye can see, stars sparkle, winking at me, keeping me company.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt: Out of this world.