Friday, November 27, 2009

idyllic whatever

I found a neighborhood I'd never heard of before, east of the East Village. Its main feature was a large castle-like structure blocking the entire length of Houston right at the entrance, beyond Avenue D and the FDR overpass. People came from all over the city to look at it. Apparently it was built by a bored and very rich fourteen year old whose parents never let her leave the house. She built the entire castle inside the main room of her parents' mansion. Her parents were so proud of her work that they had it transferred to Houston as a permanent installation. I guess they were rich enough to pay off all the fines for blocking traffic in perpetuity.

The castle itself wasn't that remarkable, aside from the fact that it was in the middle of the street. I was able to walk right up to it and peer through the narrow windows built into the sides. It was hollow inside and full of trash and blankets.

Beyond the castle, the neighborhood felt like a mix of Franklin, Michigan and the Cotswolds. Lots of sloping green fields and adorable houses and a little main street full of antique shops and art galleries. I decided it was my new favorite part of the city. I went there one day with a friend of mine for a summer picnic. Hundreds of people were gathered in one of the big clearings, sitting on the grass and laughing their heads off.

Then my friend started kissing all the girls around us. We got up and walked down the main street holding hands, and at each house a girl came down to the front gate for a kiss while I stood awkwardly to the side. I realized all these women were people I went to high school with who had since married, some of them with kids of their own. I also realized that somehow, probably in a way Freud could explain quite nicely, all of the above means I am totally psyched out by the prospect of my impending high school reunion.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

team spirit

I moved to an island off the coast of New Zealand to coach the locals in a sport I had invented. It was kind of a combination of ultimate frisbee and volleyball. I called it racquetball.

When I arrived on the island, there was nothing there but a goat and some carrots. My assistant coaches and I managed to live off the land for many years until we eventually cozied up to the native population. We found them, conveniently, in a large gymnasium inside a sporting goods store. I picked up my racquetball equipment (a soft frisbee-like disc) at the front of the store, fighting off several sweaty white guys in tennis clothes and headbands. Then I gathered some local kids and showed them the rules.

We got a pretty good game going in the gym. Kids were swarming out of the woodwork to join the team. Then all of a sudden all the kids cleared off the court except for my original five players. Thousands of people crowded around, packing the bleachers and spilling over onto the sidelines. Six very large local men sauntered onto the opposite side of the net and challenged us to a match. I gave my team a pep talk. We were ready for our big debut. But then the men pulled out a volleyball and my kids panicked. I called a time out and we removed ourselves to the hallway.

"We can do this," I told the kids.

"No we can't."

"Yes you can."

After a few minutes of this, we decided to play the game after all. We'd do one set of volleyball followed by a set of racquetball. The overall winner would banish the other group from the gym forever. The stakes were high, but my team was ready. I was doing the Peace Corps proud.

Friday, November 20, 2009

kill your editor

Corporate capital punishment had been reinstated, although in the book publishing business it was mainly used by authors who were unhappy with the way their editors handled their books. I had the unfortunate luck of having two separate authors sentence me to death at the same time. The authors in question did not believe in coordinating their plans with others, so my first execution was scheduled for the morning and my second for that same afternoon.

Author #1 was a very successful entrepreneur, and a bit of a showman. He rented out a large public atrium and set up ticket booths. The public was welcome at $20 a pop, but he promised an especially gruesome old-school decapitation for their money. I'd be put up on a platform while someone ran at my neck from behind with an authentic samurai sword. As the crowd began to gather, I snuck out from back stage and began pleading my case with them. I hoped that if they got to know me as a person they would be less willing to let my author go through with the beheading. They pretended they couldn't hear me.

At the last second, author #2 rescued me from the chopping block. His motives may have been somewhat self-interested (he didn't want to have to execute a corpse), but for the moment I was grateful. I was kind of upset that author #2 was going through with this. I thought we had a pretty good relationship. But he was very sensitive, and he claimed I had never paid enough attention to him or called him often enough to talk about his work. I suppose that may have been true. I have been very busy lately.

We discussed all this on the car ride upstate. He had rented out a cabin in the woods for a small private ceremony. Just him and me, the still lake, and some geese who would flap up in the air in a big flurry when he shot me in the back of the head and let me fall face-forward into the water. The blood would spread out around my head in the water like a halo, he said. He asked if he needed my permission to write about this in his next book. I told him I thought the imagery was actually rather derivative, but I knew he wouldn't listen to me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

where i live and what i did

A city has been developing, night by night. It's increasingly hilly in the east, where I live, in a neighborhood full of coffee shops and churches and private clubs for horse enthusiasts. Its subway system is labyrinthine. At least four lines intersect at each stop, in cavernous stations with tiered platforms set up like an Escher painting. The newest stations are shiny, metallic mega-malls, full of stores and robots. The station near my house is older, dirt-packed and grungy. Trains stop at random spots, sometimes on different tracks that are only accessible by jumping down between the rails and scurrying across with all the rats.

On weekends I take the train west. At the far end of the city, the densely-packed neighborhoods give way to a series of narrow islands. A single road and multiple bridges connect them, lined with palm trees and roadside diners that specialize in key lime pie.

Most recently, I left the town entirely and ended up in Las Vegas, my least favorite place on Earth. I wandered through themed hotels and ended up with some guy who looked like Eric Bana in the backwoods on the outskirts of town. The heavy forestation seemed unlikely. We met in an abandoned campsite in someone's backyard and fell into step with each other as we beat through the underbrush.

We eventually parted ways, only to run into each other a few hours later. Eric Bana was going nuts. He was jumping over cars and sweating profusely. "You have to help!" he screamed. Apparently someone had called him and told him they had been kidnapped and taken to an unknown location, where they were tied to a chair, stabbed with a very large fish hook, and left to die. Eric Bana was trying to locate this person. "Call 911!" he told me. So I did.

* * *

I woke up early the next morning in a cold sweat, knowing I had done something horribly wrong. The 911 operator had put me on hold, so I told Eric Bana I'd call them back in a few minutes. He ran off to jump over more cars and break into houses and crack some skulls. I wandered back to the main strip and completely forgot about the unknown person gutted like a fish in some rec room somewhere. Vegas does that to you; it's so distracting. I desperately called 911 again, and left a message for Eric Bana, but in the back of my mind I knew it was too late.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

best night ever

I flew to Mars on a sugar-coated sunbeam. Literally.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

wherever you go, there you are

After a big night out on the Upper West Side, I decided to walk home along the Hudson as the sun came up. I ended up at the Frying Pan, which is a bar on an old boat docked on a pier in Chelsea. Turns out the Frying Pan was hiring. The owner offered me $4 an hour to work as a deckhand, scrubbing the decks and generally keeping the place clean. If I did a good job, she said, I could be promoted to bartender when they pulled up anchor and went south for the winter. Despite already having a job with more responsibility and somewhat higher pay, I took the position.

I ended up spending a lot of time alone in the boat, which is as old and creepy as old creepy boats can be. Sometimes I heard voices, and would roam from room to room chasing after them, only to find myself alone in the captain's quarters, scared shitless. So I started inviting my friends to hang out there during the off-hours. One day, everyone I know in New York was chilling out on the lower deck, eating peanutbutter-filled pretzels, when suddenly we were somewhere else and other people entirely.

We called ourselves the Earthlings, and we were a group of twenty-somethings who had been stranded on an island on a far away planet ever since our plane crashed there when we were eight. We were the only survivors. We killed some of the local alien animals and made ourselves some pretty kickass costumes. Mine had a monkey head for a hood that made me look like that wise old monkey dude in the Lion King. All day we would roam through the jungle, looking for food and playing at being jungle animals. At night, we built a huge campfire and told stories about our home planet. There was one guy who was quieter than the rest of us and ostensibly the leader, and he would usually spend the evenings alone out on the beach, staring at the stars. He was the only one of us who had never given up hope of being rescued. He was also kind of hot.

One night the rest of us were lazing around the fire, picking anteater bones out of our teeth, when the hot leader guy came running up all excited. With his big grizzly bear headdress and his face lit up by the flames, he was pretty impressive. "Come quick!" he shouted, and we all chased him down to the beach, where millions of stars were racing across the sky and plunking themselves down in the water. "It's a sign!" he told us, and jumped into the alien sea. We had spent the last fifteen odd years being terrified of that water, and it had kept us from swimming across to another island only a few yards away. But if this guy was going, I was going, too. We all jumped in and paddled over to the other coast.

Turns out it was New Hampshire, and we ended up in some WASPy coastal town where everyone had a North Face fleece and a spaniel. The locals gave us some funny looks, but they were too polite to say anything, so we ended up in some bookstore cafe drinking coffee and looking at all the dogs and their big floppy ears, trying to figure out what we were going to do next.

Monday, September 28, 2009


We signed up a book by an author who turned out to be not only a Nazi sympathizer, but an active member of the Nazi Youth, which had gone underground and had been secretly recruiting members since after the war. I found this out when he turned in his manuscript. It was a rather banal memoir, except that every other paragraph was an excerpt from the Nazi Youth Guide for Active Boys and Girls. I was given the fun task of extracting the guide, line-by-line, before the book went to press. I stayed up all night, removing what turned out to be a rather fascinating outdoor survival guide with no mention of Nazis or any of the untoward activities one normally associates with Nazis. There were plenty of instructions for starting fires and tying knots.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

secret protocol

I was backpacking through a city that was kind of like New York but with even more Asian people. At the hostel, I fell in with this scruffy older man who looked kind of like a less well-preserved Jeff Goldblum. He took me to a shitty looking restaurant and told me a secret protocol. We were to order pancakes and then wait in the kitchen. After our waitress walked away (not into the kitchen), a cupboard opened and a family of four crawled out of the cramped storage space. They provided us with a map that turned out to be a fairly standard and boring walking tour of the city. I was disappointed in mangy Jeff Goldblum. He was not the street-savvy traveler I initially mistook him to be.

Friday, September 11, 2009

travel plans

A couple of my friends were coming to visit, and to save costs, we had them shipped in cold storage. One of the friends was rather tall, so we had to remove her head to fit her in the container. In the back of my mind, I realized this was probably a bad plan. But it all worked out. They arrived and thawed out, and my friend's head popped right back on. She turned to smile at me and said, "hi!" Phew.

Monday, August 3, 2009

all in the family

Guest post from my brother:

To start things off, I had the common post graduation dream where I forgot to write a paper for a class and just realized right before the paper is due and would fail to graduate as a result of not turning the paper in on time. I know that a lot of people have this dream, but it was the first time for me, so it kind of freaked me out. I am better now.

Moving on to more exciting things. This might be a sign that work has taken over. I was dreaming up inventions, some of which seemed like really good ideas at the time but I can't remember all of them now. The one that I do remember is a gem though. The basic concept of the invention is combining two advertising mediums, frisbees and t-shirts. The invention starts out as a frisbee with some sort of logo on it, and when you dunk the frisbee into water, it changes shape and becomes a t-shirt with the same logo on the front. In my deam I thought it was a great idea. When I awoke from the dream I laughed at myself and said no way that hasn't already been invented. I seemed to skip over the fact plastic plus water does not equal fabric. On my way to work, when I finally started to wake up, I remembered this dream and the thoughts that followed and realized that it was in fact the changing of materials that would hold this invention back, not the fact that someone has probably already done it. I could very easily check to see if it is out there but I am not going and prevent my dreams from potentially being crushed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

summer fun times

My mom was driving us to a picnic, going backwards down the highway. Through the front window, we could see the cars behind us with giant matching auras towering high above them. Apparently this was the result of refraction in the tires as the cars drove through puddles. It made the cars look tall and skinny. At some point, we convinced our mom to turn the car around and put the car in drive instead of reverse, and things went much more smoothly.

At the picnic, multiple concerts were going on all around us. Happy hipsters trotted from an outdoor bandshell to a musical parade to a giant rectangular pool that covered half of Queens. It was about two miles long and a mile wide, and we all jumped in and spent the rest of the afternoon breathing underwater, doing backflips.

Then John had to go check his parents into a retirement home and I realized we were 55 years old. The afternoon went downhill from there.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

saving the world is hard.

It was hard to tell what the fuck was going on, exactly. There had been a number of recent technological breakthroughs that made life infinitely more complicated. I was working with an NGO that policed the poaching of endangered species in the Serengeti and/or the Sahara. I wasn't really all that sure where we were. We would wait until nightfall. By shining a light on a mirror about a mile behind us and then looking for the glinting eyes of the poachers in the reflected beam, we were able to locate them without giving away our location. Then we'd surround their camp and, you know, put an end to their poaching.

But then somehow some of us figured out how to melt themselves into goo like that thing in the first Terminator movie and then reconstruct themselves back into normal people. A portable-science-lab experiment gone awry may have been responsible. We were pondering the do-gooding possibilities of this new discovery when some poachers attacked. In the ensuing battle, one especially evil poacher was sprayed with toxic chemicals and melted into nothing. We assumed she was dead. But she wasn't. And she wasn't a poacher, either. She was a super-evil super-villain spy!

So then we had to spend all this time fighting this evil monster of our own creation, which was really hard because she had figured out how to melt at will and then turn herself into anything or anyone (kind of like that one X-Men villain, right?). Anyway, she was screwing everything up everywhere. Meanwhile, I had started dating one of the good melting guys, which was also very complicated on a much smaller scale. (My father did not approve.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

folksy rural fantasy novel, apparently

I grew up in this small town in the Midwest where each generation has a secret coven of witches. Up until my generation, it was always just boys, and my dad had high hopes for my older brother. My dad was actually the head witch in his generation. The position came with a lot of power. All of the witches were really smart and popular. They could turn into dogs (collies, generally) and fly little personal spaceships, but mainly they were excellent authors. Every witch in my dad's generation was an accomplished novelist. My dad represented all the writer-witches from our town. He also somehow got to approve or reject every single novel their publisher published.

People generally found out if they were witches about halfway through high school, when it was the hardest to keep it a secret from the rest of the town. Most of the witches were pretty unpopular right up until the point where they weren't anymore, and it was all they could do to keep from lording it over the other kids who used to beat them up or turn them down for dates. My brother was already a senior in high school, and nothing had happened to him yet as far as I could tell. Then it turned out that I was the witch in the family, the first girl witch the town had ever seen.

Things got really tough for my brother then. I kind of blamed my dad. He was this really judgmental, controlling guy. He liked being in charge of all the other witches and telling them what to do all the time, and it drove him nuts not being able to get my brother to do all the magic stuff, and be a dog and fly around in the little ships and all that. The worst of it was that he was a terrible writer. My brother stopped hanging out with people. Mostly he just moped around the backyard. I would fly down in my personal spaceship and offer to take him for rides, but he just ignored me. The other witches didn't make matters any better. I think they were annoyed with my dad telling them what to do all the time, and they took it out on my brother, ganging up on him in the general store where he worked and making him drop groceries all over the place all the time. He sort of shut down. By the time I left for college he had pretty much stopped talking. I didn't come home for a long time after that.

When I left home, I tried to give up the magic. I got a job as a book editor, and I was pretty good at it. Sometimes I'd get annoyed with agents who would fight me over tiny little things---it was hard not to pull out the old magic tricks to get my way. I worked for a different publisher than the one my dad wrote for, but even so he tried to get his fingers into everything we did and tell me how to do my job. The thing was, inside the industry, the house my dad published with was getting to be kind of a joke. My dad would only let them publish old-fashioned western novels about cowboys. He was convinced these were the only books worth writing, and the only ones anyone who was worth anything really wanted to read. One time I tried to explain to my dad that times were changing, that the world wasn't the way he remembered it being, but my dad never listened to anybody.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


One of my authors and our art director had to spend the night at my house so we could finish up a big project. Unfortunately, I didn't know in advance that they were coming over, so the place was a disaster area. Dishes piled high in the sink, magazines covering the dinner table, clothes strewn around my room like a tornado just struck. Like a good host, I asked if I could get them anything. The author asked for a snack, but there was no food in the house. The art director asked for coffee, which I did not have. So they both settled on a glass of water. Lucky me, at that moment the tap decided to freak out and start spewing a brown soapy goop into the glasses. I managed to clean them out and found some cold water in a long-expired Brita jug in the fridge.

As I carried the glasses back to my room, my brother (who was also my roommate) arrived with several boxes of pizza. The pizza came with a roll of purple paper that you could unfurl in front of you like a royal carpet. It had a picture of a king on it eating pizza. My brother unfurled it into my room, and the author and art director poked their heads out to see what was going on. "This is my brother," I told them. Then a half-naked girl came out of the bathroom. "This is Krissy," my brother said.

Krissy was my brother's new girlfriend. She was also the spokesperson for an edgy brand of bowling balls called THUNDERballs. In their viral-style commercials, Krissy would drive around the country on a bulldozer, breaking down the walls of bowling alleys and "liberating" their old bowling balls. Then she and the THUNDERballs staff would give all the bowlers brand-new, custom-made THUNDERballs and drive off, leaving the bowling alley a wreck behind them.

Just then, my dad popped out of the other bedroom. He had also decided to spend the night unannounced. This was his first time meeting Krissy. I left my brother to do the introductions, grabbed a pizza, and holed up in my room with my guests to work out the cover design for the author's book. I could hear things crashing out in the main room. I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and assumed Krissy was giving my dad a THUNDERballs demo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

in brief

I went shoe shopping with Joyce and John. Nothing much happened. John found some nice sandals.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

procession music and pyramid schemes

My friend Joyce wanted me to play the cello in her wedding. Or maybe it was someone else's wedding, but she said it would mean a lot to her if I played all the same. Before the ceremony, I accidentally left the cello hanging from a tree in a non-waterproof soft case, and during a sudden thunderstorm it became extremely waterlogged. I tried to dry it out as best I could, but as the water dripped from the f-holes the wood warped and separated.

The repairs would be costly. Another friend tricked me into joining her Amway-esque business operation to make some extra bucks. For $75, she gave me five gift-basket kits: a plastic bucket, a box of cheap Quality Street knockoff bon-bons, a bottle of vanilla-scented oil, and a Snickers bar. I was supposed to sell each for $20 and make a slim profit. Instead, I just ate all the Snickers. I was still pretty upset about the cello, and trying to sell people crap just makes me anxious.

Friday, June 5, 2009

alaskan intrigue and artisanal food

I was being held hostage by seasoned criminals (led by Clive Owen, thank goodness!) in a gourmet grocery store in Alaska. I don't think the criminals were especially interested in keeping me, because at some point I just got into an elevator and left. The streets of this Alaskan port town were mean and tough. I felt like a foreigner, wandering through crowds of leering sailors speaking in Spanish. But at some point I had been there long enough to know the ropes, and I made a new friend who had just arrived in town. I showed her the sights, which mostly included all the specialty food shops. Her favorite was the store that just made licorice in an antique train car. "Oh, what a lovely creamery!" she said. My new friend was kind of odd.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

secret show

I had made plans months ago to see this show with some friends. It was somewhere in the Midwest, and I was staying with this girl I'd met a few times but whose name I had forgotten on the trip over. Luckily, she had no idea who I was, either. After dumping my stuff at this mystery girl's house, I headed down to the river, where one of my friends was supposed to arrive by submarine. The sub let people out inside a top-secret government compound and then bussed them out to the entrance. Several people threatened me with machine guns when I tried to walk in. So I waited for my friend and then we walked back to the house along the river. The trees on the banks had petrified animals hanging from the branches---frozen white frogs and squirrels. We knew the monster from The Host was swimming alongside us in the river, but we tried to act natural.

Back at the house, the parents of the girl I was staying with were throwing a raging party in the backyard. There were bonfires among the cornstalks. Maybe this was not a safe thing to do. I don't know, I didn't see a lot of corn growing up. I overheard someone saying, "Oh my god, Winona Ryder is here!" But I never saw her. It turned out this was the show we were all in town to see, which was convenient for me because I didn't need to find a ride home afterward.

At some point during the night, I wandered into the basement. It was the same as the basement at my parents' house, minus all the piles of Christmas ornaments and old ski equipment. Instead, there was a girl sitting alone at a desk under an exposed lightbulb. I knew she was the sister of the girl who let me stay there, but I didn't know her name, either. She talked to me but she didn't make any sense, so I went back upstairs and rejoined the party.

Friday, April 17, 2009

under the sea

It was a dream wedding, except for the fact that I was literally wearing a mermaid dress. I must have gotten drunk and gone dress shopping at that costume store on 4th ave. It even came with a sea foam tulle train. AND a butterfly tiara that was too heavy to stay on my head (if it did, it would have given me an extra eight inches). The whole wedding was mortifying. And then afterward I had to run into the vestibule to get undressed because my parents' next door neighbor wanted to wear the same dress in her wedding, too. Tacky is contagious.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


A bunch of famous American actresses ignited a huge controversy state-side when they all posed topless for a Dutch breast cancer awareness campaign. The actresses included the entire cast of The Women, which I hear was just awful. The American media went to town, reprinting the Dutch poster with all of the nipples blacked out, with the glaring exception of Michelle Pfeiffer's left breast. Scandal!

Monday, April 13, 2009

the internet is not your friend

I was getting some tests done. It was a very thorough assessment, with a physical as well as a bunch of multiple-choice exams. Along the way, one of the computers in the testing facility got a crush on me. But it wasn't one of those cute wall-e "awww" crushes. This computer was a creepy little perv. He would re-arrange monitors to look up my skirt and insert inappropriate personal questions in the tests. Eventually, I took to hiding behind the test administrators so the computer couldn't see that I was in the room.

That whole ordeal went on much longer than I'd planned, so that I was late getting back to Troy to play tennis with an old college professor. He was very upset. He kept saying, "Tell me what time it is. Tell me what time it is," and "I've had enough of this!" He didn't really make any sense, but still, I felt bad. I claimed I didn't get any cellular service on the highway back from the testing facility, but really I'd just forgotten to call.

So we never did get around to playing tennis. I walked home to my parents' house, running into Rory Gilmore along the way. Or maybe it was the actress who plays her. Anyway, she was getting out of a cab, and I made fun of her for always taking cabs home, and she said, "Fuck you, I'm Rory Gilmore."

I was not making anyone happy. I ended up at some hippie retreat on a bunch of volcanic rock formations with my run club. The rocks were uneven and difficult to navigate, but these stupid local kids were just sprinting along, falling head-first every twenty feet and picking themselves back up, apparently with no major injuries. My friend Steve was trying to figure out where we were with his fancy GPS watch, but it wasn't getting any service. Then his friend managed to rig it up so that all the wireless internet in the general vicinity was rerouted to this watch. Electromagnetic waves made the air around Steve's wrist pulse like it was pavement on a summer day. I know none of this makes any sense technologically. But all of that internet in one place made me worried that my computer stalker was going to track me down, so I took off into the volcanic hills.

Monday, April 6, 2009

tell me if you've seen this one

In a hybrid knock-off of both Dawn of the Dead and The Road, I once again found myself in a post-apocalyptic future. After all the zombies gave up and died again, we ventured out of the mall and started heading south. The street was full of people either running for their lives or running a marathon, and we joined the race. Zombie corpses littered the median and the sidewalks. Eventually we hit Florida, which was just as swampy and mosquito-infested as ever. A new hippie society had developed. It mostly involved people being naked and itchy, sitting around under the trees and letting their armpit hair grow long. My brother and I were being eaten alive (by mosquitoes, not those creepy cannibals from The Road), but then we met this random old couple with a Winnebago and a life supply of Off. Off is so wonderfully amazing. I love it. It made the shitty future at least semi-bearable.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

sliding doors

Two things were happening at the same time.

I was in a fancy liquor store with Joe, doing a fancy whiskey tasting. It was $25 for five strange whiskeys. One was extracted from acai. One was grown out of rock crystals. One was a pile of dark black pebbles that turned out to be the magic tea we needed to contain the evil water god we had set loose earlier in the evening, reducing her to nothing more than a small babbling brook.

But I was also on a high school orchestra trip, doing the whiskey tasting in a store that was part liquor store, part gambling den, part Ikea, with the little sister of a bass player in my year. It wasn't actually that guy's little sister, though. That girl's body had recently been re-inhabited by the former best friend of that girl's best friend after the latter died in an unfortunate accident that no one knew about but me, and I only knew because the girl living inside that girl's body had just told me. Needless to say, I was confused, and kept trying to get her to explain as we sipped our whiskey, but she couldn't because the best friend in question was standing right next to us.

In the first version of things, Joe and I ended up in the liquor store after tricking the water god into entering a cave intended for the new chimpanzee at the zoo next door. We then blocked the cave with a large pile of rocks, but we knew she would get out eventually. I'm not sure how the god got loose in the first place. I may or may not have accidentally invoked her earlier in the evening while riding the commuter train. But I knew that if we smuggled out enough of this black pebble tea, and either steeped and drank it or smoked it, possibly while reciting some sort of incantation, the god would be sealed into the chimpazee cave for some time period short of eternity but long enough that we wouldn't have to worry about it in our great-great grandchildrens' lifetimes.

In the other version that was happening at the same time, this second violin player I hated plopped down between me and the re-inhabited girl. "Can I borrow twenty-five dollars?" the annoying violin player asked. The girl, who was much too nice now that she was this other girl, took out the money, no questions asked. Before she could hand it over, I insisted on asking what the money was for. "Gambling," the violin asshole said, with a smug smile. "I already lost a hundred! I have to keep going." I refused to let the girl give her the money, and the violin player pouted and told me I was a bitch before storming off to the linens department.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

spa fail, work fail

My friend Julie and I wanted to lose some weight, so we signed up for this sleep-away spa where they use industrial floor polishers to buff the fat right off you. I know, it sounds like a bad idea. I realized this when they were halfway through my calves and accidentally sanded through to bone. I threatened to sue, and they refunded the money for the rest of the treatments, but I was limping for the rest of the weekend.

At work on Monday, I was assigned to write the next edition of our division's newsletter. The previous edition was mostly about cute cats. I wasn't sure where to start. I thought I had a pretty good first page going, about the impact of the financial crisis on our industry, but all the publicity assistants came over to my computer and made fun of it. I started researching other cute animals, preferably ones wearing clothing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

things we lost in the fire

I got invited to the birthday party of this girl who worked at the place where I used to volunteer, and decided to hell with it, I was going. Also, it was being held in my parents' fancy New York penthouse apartment, so it was pretty convenient for me.

The party was actually fun. I confessed to one of the other volunteers that I was sure everyone there hated me for not volunteering anymore. "Yeah, most of them do," he said, "but I knew you didn't really fit in there anyway." Just then, there was this loud noise in the kitchen. Something on the stove was on fire. Most of the party paid no attention as the flames grew and spread.

"We have to get out of here!" I screamed. I tried to corral the party-goers toward the door, but they were having none of it. Finally, my brother and I made a run for the exit. We got to the sidewalk just as the top of the building blew off in an explosion of flames. The entire floor of my parents' apartment was made of glass, which rose up into the air in one giant sheet and then shattered against the night sky.

Our parents hadn't been at the party, and we didn't know where to find them. We were also very upset. So my brother and I decided to go get some hot chocolate. My brother had a gift card for Starbucks. While we drank the hot chocolate, we brainstormed ways to help our parents find us, seeing as our cell phones were lost in the fire. We settled on putting "Mom, Dad, call me!" in our gchat profiles. I know that's really dumb, but listen, we had just been through an ordeal.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

this has all happened before

It was high school and college graduation all over again at the same time. The night before I dropped my parents and my brother off at their hotel and took the car (magically transformed into the old Dodge Caravan) around the old neighborhood. As I drove by the house on Witherbee, I got a call from a friend who wanted a recommendation of where to take his boyfriend on a date in Birmingham. I told him I'd have to think about that, and in the meantime decided to head over to Birmingham myself and take in a movie. It was almost 2 am when I remembered to call that guy, and by then he and his boyfriend had broken up and he was a big slobbery sobbing mess, so I took him along to the next movie with me to cheer him up.

Luckily, the first event the next day was the band and orchestra awards ceremony, part 2, which I was already planning to use as nap time. (They gave out so many awards to the band and orch kids that they had to break it up into an evening gala, which I'd skipped, and a standard ceremony in an auditorium.) I was super bored and didn't see anyone I knew. I took out a twenty dollar bill and was going to ask the middle-aged man next to me to do something with it. Maybe it was going to be a bet or something, to make me less bored. But at that moment the marching band started a number and I was transfixed by the chubby flag girls. When I looked over, the man was pocketing my twenty!

"Hey, is that your twenty?" I asked him.

He said, "Oh, I thought you wanted me to have it." He gave it back, but then he thought we were flirting, which was awkward. Joe started calling my name from the other side of the auditorium, and I slid over to talk to him over everyone's head. I'm not sure why he was there. He was in band, but at a different high school. Still, it was good to see a friendly face.

Before I could figure it out, we all filed out to head over to the actual graduation ceremony, which was taking place at a highway toll booth in the Appalachian mountains. The teachers lined us up in rows like cars waiting to pay the toll, then we marched through to the other side to listen to the speakers. The first speaker was this guy who lived down the street and was really into biking. He may also have been a priest, judging by his collar. But he didn't bother to prepare a speech, so after a minute he started going, "umm, ummm," and got really mad at us when we stopped paying attention. The next speaker was supposed to talk inside the highway patrolman's office as we chowed down on refreshments. No one listened to her, either, and I felt bad because she was actually very good, and she had made grilled corn and chocolate truffles for us.

Then my cousin Tricia showed up, and told me I was about to lose my job at The Globe and Mail if I didn't organize a techno dance party immediately. I didn't realize I had a job there, but I also didn't want to lose it, so I rounded up six of my graduating friends and told them the rules. We had to stay within a 6'x6' dancing box, and no one could stop dancing, not even for a second. Someone cued up an Erasure remix and we were on our way.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

twitter murder!

The first twitter murder came to pass, sooner than anyone expected. The police didn't know what to do. They tried cordoning off hashtags, confiscating twitpics and issuing warrants for usernames. Mostly they stood around scratching their heads and saying, "What the fuck is a hashtag?"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

shitty day

I was at summer camp with a bunch of people from high school, and it was the last night. I came back from a hike in the woods to discover that the camp owner had left early, giving this creepy guy from my math class a ride back into town. I guess he just got sick of running his camp. The thing is, the camp was the scariest place any of us had ever been. Think Jason scary, or any other horror movie about scary shit happening in the woods. Just about everyone else was taking their chances and hiking out, hoping to get home before dark. Three kids had elected to stay, and I'd been nominated as their chaperone. Great.

So we barricaded ourselves in the camp owner's office, climbed into our sleeping bags, and prepared for a long, sleepless night.

The long, sleepless night dragged on and on, so we started poking around, only to discover old newspaper clippings from the seventies about how the camp owner had gone crazy one night and murdered an entire set of campers with a machine gun. The articles did not specify where he obtained said machine gun, or why he was allowed to continue running his camp after the incident.

"We have to notify the authorities!" I said.

Everyone else disagreed. "If we tell on him, we won't get to camp here next summer," they argued.

"Suit yourself," I said. "I'm out of here." Displaying horrible leadership skills, I abandoned the kids, walked out into the woods, and somehow found my way back to town just in time to run a half marathon. They gave us a free bus ride back to the start line, but I had to hide under a blanket because the camp owner was on the bus, posing as a doctor for the race. They would bring injured people on the bus, and he would immediately determine that amputation was the only option. His saw blades glinted in the sun, and his eyes grew large like a rabid loris' as blood splattered on his new white doctor coat. So I got off the bus.

The full marathon was starting just as I arrived. A cop stopped me from running right in front of the starting line to find my parents. As the marathon runners streamed out of the gate, I noticed my mother near the back. She started running, at a pace way too fast to sustain for the full 26.2 miles. She ran about a hundred yards, then disappeared into an open sewer grate, Wile E. Coyote style. She wasn't moving when they pulled her out. I screamed and screamed and fought to make my way across through the marathon runners, who were not making it easy for me. Everything went dark before I could get close. It was a shitty day all around.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

my famous friends can't help me now

I was hanging out with Michelle Obama, my best friend from college. We were getting breakfast for dinner at Denny's. Every person in the restaurant turned and stared when her husband slid into the booth, but I played it cool. We just sat around, drinking milkshakes and shooting the shit.

But I had to get going to the film set where I was an assistant and occasional babysitter for the movie's eight-year-old star. The set itself was on a beach, about twenty feet out on a sand bar made of aquamarine bathroom tiles. I waded with the young starlet and worried about my upcoming appearance on the Today show.

I had no idea what to wear, and this being a beach feature, the set wardrobe offered little in the way of emergency help. I finally settled on a nice pink blouse before promptly spilling my coffee all over it. No big deal, I thought. The rest of the cast and crew convinced me otherwise. So I found some other shirt and rushed over to the Today show, arriving thirty minutes late.

Katie Couric was back in the host role, and I prepared myself to answer whatever question she decided to throw my way. They tossed me in the interview chair, turned on the lights, and let the camera roll. Katie Couric stared at me in silence. Was I supposed to say something? I drew a complete blank. No cute anecdotes, no funny jokes, not even a boring story about what I had for breakfast. I was convinced she was supposed to be the one to kick things off, but she just raised one eyebrow and smirked. America watched me sweat and squirm. This was not going well.