February 29, 2008

it's all about the hit count, isn't it?

Blogging is really backwards sometimes.

In the real world, people reciprocate when others invite them over. Bob and Martha invite you over for dinner, you reciprocate. If you have them over like two or three times in a row, you eventually say screw you, Bob and Martha, you freeloading ingrates. This ain't a soup kitchen, you know.

Blogs are the opposite. Bob won't bother to come to your blog if you don't go over to his a few dozen times first. Then he drops by and says, "Hi, great blog, ha ha ha you really made me laugh" when you actually posted about how your 18-year-old lap dog just died in your arms and you cried for six days straight. Bob's not paying too much attention. So screw Bob anyway. Who needs him?

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Bob, you suck.

Wait, maybe that's not what I'm trying to say. Sorry, Bob. I hope you come back. I could use the hits to make me feel relevant. But since you're not paying attention anyway, ha ha ha, I hope I made you laugh.

What I'm really trying to say is, why do people read a whole blog post and then not comment? I mean, you invested the time to visit, you read the words. Why not throw little good time after bad and drop a few words on the lonely blogger who thinks no one ever visits? It's not like there's a standard you have to live up to. It's not like you actually have to think before commenting. Look at Bob.

But it doesn't bother me. I have one of those hit counter things, and it even emails me my weekly summary. But I don't know how to use it. Site meters are the ultimate self esteem indicator. There are two types of people who obsess over them: People who have revenue tied to hit counts, and people who have self-esteem tied to hit counts. Everyone else who blogs realizes that they're basically whispering into a hurricane.

February 28, 2008

another prize! yay!

Yesterday at my work they announced the list. Because I was running an offsite all day and couldn't attend, they already told me I was on the list. So I knew before they announced it, but watching the congratulations emails come in was still a bit of a thrill.

"Peter, you've just been awarded with the company's prestigious service award! What are you going to do now?"

"I'm goin' to Disneyworld!"

Literally. Each year the company identifies the high performers in sales and service. To win, you must be nominated and granted a service excellence award. Then, from those winners, you must be selected for a quarterly "best of the winners" award. Those quarterly winners make up the pool from which they picked... me. (Also a large number of others. The company has 160,000 people, after all.)

So in May I'm off to and all-expenses paid trip to Disneyworld with one guest.

The bidding for that guest spot is now open. Leave your bid in the comments.

February 27, 2008

haiku wednesday - February 28, 2008

This week's words are

distant nightmare screams
weak corporate apology
consider your soul

distant stare, straight lips
you consider our future
apology time

distant sirens howl
consider turning me in
no apology

February 26, 2008

I will save the planet

A very good friend, whom I have met in person a sum total of once in my entire life (or was it twice?), today blogged about how she had managed to change one person's life for the better, just a wee little bit, through a small kindness offered on the spur of the moment.

I'll go one better. I'm going to Save our Planet!

That's what the laminated placard promises in my hotel room here in Phoenix, at the San Carlos. This is the only hotel I've been in where the elevator doors are actually copper-plated. Shiny. Orange.

How will I save our planet? I will keep my towel hanging on the rack. I will not throw it down into the tub when I leave my room at the ungodly hour of 6:45 a.m. (Phoenix time, which inexplicably does not obey the laws of nature and change their clocks twice a year like the rest of humanity) for an entire day of meetings. Yes, by keeping my towel hanging on the rack, I will save "tons of detergent and millions of gallons of water"!

And I can spend the day confident in the knowledge that I have done my part.

February 25, 2008

taxi ride

taxi ride

These vinyl seats are cracked and gray,
I think that they were green one day,
and what the heck did he just say?
I think it was in Turkish.

The taxi driver just flipped off
a bus driver at First and Gough.
His cigarette, it makes me cough--
he really is quite jerkish.

We're weaving, cutting, to and fro,
okay, this driver, he's a pro
but still I think I just might blow--
my stomach's feeling queasy.

I wonder if those coffee stains
are really someone's splattered brains
(what someone gets if he complains)
and why's the seat all greasy?

Was that a red light we went through?
A bump--I think I lost a shoe--
I guess I'll kiss my butt adieu
you think he'll let me drive?

I put my head bewteen my knees
(I think the seat is filled with fleas)
and say a prayer that ends with please
and hope that we arrive.

I think that I can take no more
and throw myself down to the floor
I think of jumping out the door--
is that somebody's thong?

There's underwear beneath his seat!
It says it's size "ladies petite"...
I blush at thoughts quite indiscreet.
To whom does it belong?

His tires screech, he honks his horn,
I think that we just went airborne!
I wonder if my folks will mourn.
I'm getting good at prayer.

He says to me, "Your ride's complete
and do you want me give receipt?"
I must be ghost-white like a sheet.
At last, I sigh, we're there.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

February 22, 2008

Fiction Friday: Two Lost Souls

This Week’s Theme: Insert this song lyric into your fiction: ‘We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year.'
Charlie: Dude, answer your phone.
Gilbert: Eff you. I'll answer my phone when I want, dude.
Charlie: What the hell is your ring tone, anyway?
Gilbert: Dark Side of the Moon.
Charlie: Dark side of your butt.
Gilbert: What?
Charlie: You heard me. You gonna answer that?
Gilbert: Nah. It's probably my mom, anyway.
Charlie: You got a special ring tone for your mom? Pink Floyd?
Gilbert: No, dude. She's the only one that ever calls me. Well, her and you. And you're here, so why would you call me, right?
Charlie: Check out that dude over there.
Gilbert: What, the homeless dude in the tie-dye?
Charlie: That's not tie-dye, dude. That's like his breakfast or something.
Gilbert: Barf omelet. Sick.
Charlie: Dude.
Gilbert: So, what guy? That guy over by the red pickup?
Charlie: Dude! Are you blind? That's a chick. No. The guy in the window. Behind the chick.
Gilbert: Oh, man.
Charlie: What's he doing?
Gilbert: Um... marketing, I think. See, he's like got some... something there.
Charlie: Yeah but he's all up in that window, like he's on display or something.
Gilbert: You wanna get lunch?
Charlie: It's like he's a goldfish.
Gilbert: Tuna fish, dude. I need sustenance. Let's get lunch.
Charlie: I wonder if they ever let him out? Maybe he has to stay in there, dude.
Gilbert: You're twisted, man. Let's get lunch.
Charlie: Like those fish at the dentist, just waving their fins and doing that mouth thing.
Gilbert: Mouth thing?
Charlie: You know, like this. Charlie opens and closes his mouth like a fish. Bwoop bwoop bwoop.
Gilbert: Bwoop bwoop bwoop? Dude, I think your blood sugar's low. Let's go eat.
Charlie: They just swim around man, day after day, week after week, month after month.
Gilbert: Looking up to the heavens. I just want lunch! Dude, get a grip, OK? We're not philosophers, dude. We're just two lost souls.
Charlie: Swimming, in a fish bowl. Year after year.
Gilbert: Forget it.
Charlie: It must be really boring being a fish. It must be really boring being that guy.
Gilbert: Yeah, maybe. But I bet they give him lunch.
Charlie: Gilbert's phone rings again. Dude, you gonna answer that?
Gilbert: Yes.
Charlie: Don't you wanna get lunch instead?
Gilbert: Eff you, dude.

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February 21, 2008

Excellence in Scouting

My son was awarded a special, surprise honor tonight. He was brought up in front of everyone and given a plaque and everything. The award was for excellence in scouting--in exhibiting courage and demonstrating outstanding scouting skills under duress.

As many of you know, I am conflicted when it comes to my family's deep involvement in Cub Scouts (and starting next month Boy Scouts also). I am not religious, and Scouting has a strong undercurrent of Christianity at its core. I also favor gay rights and have many gay friends and coworkers, and I abhor BSA's stated policy forbidding gay adults to hold leadership positions in scouting, and forbidding gay youth to participate. I think that policy is reprehensible.

Yet there are so many good skills and values taught and learned through scouting. The outdoors activities and respect of nature are top of my list. And this is where Ethan excelled.

Last Christmas we drove to my mom's in Las Vegas, a trip we very much enjoy. Sam had a broken arm, so he could not go on the rigorous hike up to Turtle Head Peak in Red Rock Canyon. So only Ethan and Grandpa (my stepfather) went. They got up the tough hike to the peak and ate lunch, then started down. Grandpa is a bit of an adventurer, though, and instead of coming down the trail, he wanted to go down the back side of the mountain. Ethan resisted, but what's an 11-year-old going to do when faced with an adamant grandfather? So they trekked down the back side, where there is no trail. It's treacherous and steep, and grandpa fell and got pretty banged up. Ethan, however, kept his cool and did not panic, and he helped grandpa get up and continue on. What makes this scary (from my perspective as a dad) is that the afternoon was wearing on, and they were in an area no other hikers would find them and at least a mile from any road. I shudder to think what might have happened if grandpa had gotten seriously hurt in his fall and was unable to continue on. As it is, they made the road about 3 miles away from the parked car and had to hitch-hike to get back before the park gates closed.

Do I think Ethan deserves an award, including an official letter of commendation from our scouting district? Yes, I do. It must have been very scary for an 11-year-old to see his grandfather fall and get hurt, out in the middle of desert wilderness. But he kept his head and kept grandpa moving. Without the training and practice that he gets from scouting, Ethan might have reacted differently.

We love to go camping and hiking as a family, and I'm glad my boys have a chance to learn these skills very young and get comfortable in the outdoors. I know when they get older they'll have an environmentalist's attitude for conservation and respect of nature, and they'll be able to enjoy it in a way that many people, particularly Americans, don't understand. You can't experience nature from behind the wheel of a Hummer.

illness, crazy busy-ness, queries!

The one really great thing about having a real job is you get paid. Yesterday I had a chat with my boss, and it's raise and bonus time. So, good news coming on the pay stubs next month. Not quite as good as I'd hoped, but damn, I'll take it.

The one really bad thing about having a real job is that... you have to work. This week has been crazy as I've tried to ramp up to host a major meeting next week in Phoenix. In addition, I've been revising my query for Gold Miner's Daughter and polishing the manuscript in the hopes of striking while the iron is hot and capturing the attention of the three agents I connected with at SFWC last weekend.

Plus, that awful cold/flu/cough/ugh that is going around has hit 50% of my household. Fortunately not me (yet). Unfortunately, that means I'm in line to get it right when my Phoenix meetings are at their height.

The upshot: I'd hoped to send out four queries by the end of the week, but I've only managed one so far. And tonight I have a starring role in our big cub scout pack banquet, asking for people to fork over yet more donations.

February 20, 2008

haiku wednesday - February 20, 2008

This week's words are

party punch spiked hard
Vickie in a wet T-shirt?
unravel my mind

rude T-shirt slogan
unravel your bad logic
or I'll punch your face

quittin' time, punch clock
swap coat and tie for T-shirt
unravel the day

February 19, 2008

Contest Time!

I stumbled upon Jason Evans' blog and found he is currently running a contest. Hurry, though, it ends tonight! I've sent in my entry already, a bit of a dark piece I didn't anticipate when I first saw the photo prompt.

UPDATE on 2/20/08: Um... oops. I should look at dates (ahem, Feb 27), not just days (Wednesday). You've got a week.

February 18, 2008

one day upon the jousting field

one day upon the jousting field

I went one day and watched a tilt
between two brave and fearsome knights:
One big, strong Brit real sturdy-built,
One handsome Celt dressed in his kilt.

Their horses on the field did prance,
majestic, wondrous, thrilling sight!
and each man brave to take his chance
did stand up tall and grab his lance.

The horses whinnied, pawed, and neighed
and one fell cry began that fight.
In their saddles the two men swayed
as nearby maidens gasped and prayed.

A hoofy rumble, thundrous pass
a crashy splinter, crowd's delight!
And both were thrown down hard, alas,
and landed each upon the grass.

The Celt, he rolled--we thought him dead,
he gave us all an awful fright.
His kilt flung high above his head
turned all the maidens' faces red.

The Brit stood up and raised his sword
which glinted in the noonday light.
The crowd appreciation roared
as of the field he seemed the lord.

He puffed and smiled, his chest did swell
to show off his unfailing might.
But then an awful plight befell:
down to his feet his trousers fell!

Their goods exposed, the skirted Celt
and pantsless Brit both turned ghost-white.
The crowd laughed loud at what fate dealt
through lack of underwear and belt.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

February 17, 2008

San Francisco Writers Conference

Your mileage may vary, but personally, I found the San Francisco Writers Conference to be an unbelievably useful and fun way to spend the weekend.

Some of the highlights:
The volunteer coordinator, Linda Lee, did an absolutely fabulous job. You can see the bios of all the volunteers on her site. The conference organizers, Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen-Pomada Agency, really ran a classy conference and kept the atmosphere perfect for learning, sharing, and networking.

I missed some of the keynote sessions, but every breakout session I attended (with one exception) was informative and entertaining and worth every minute. (The one exception was moderately informative, but the speakers were not the best.) Here were my favorite sessions, all of which are available in mp3 and CD for a fee:

  • Making a Star Shine, with author May Vanderbilt, agent Nathan Bransford, and editor Christine Pride of Broadway/Random House. These three were entertaining, candid, and very informative. The dynamic between them made for a really fun session. At the end of it, my first thought was that it would be great fun to go out for a drink with the three of them. Plus, they all know their stuff.
  • How Independent Booksellers Can Make a Book a Bestseller, with NCIBA's Hut Landon and Bookshop West Portal owner Neal Sofman. They didn't really talk how independent booksellers can turn your book into a best seller, but they did throw a whole lot of light onto the type of promotion and effort it takes to get your book onto an independent's shelves. Short version: A lot.
  • Pitchcraft, with Katharine Sands of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Katharine wrote a book called "Making the Perfect Pitch," and although I mostly already knew what she was saying, she had a terrific presentation style and filled her talk with quotes and witticisms that made the hour truly entertaining as well as informative.
  • Making The Grade in Middle Grade Fiction, with author Douglas Rees and agent Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada Agency. Rees was amusing and charming, and McLean clearly articulated a lot of useful information about the children's book market. The topic rambled well outside "middle grade" from picture books through YA and beyond. McLean finished off with trends in the market.
  • Do Kids Read Anymore? with Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency, Andrea Brown of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Paul S. Levine of Paul S. Levine Literary Agency. None of the speakers knew the title of the presentation when they sat down, and it was the final session of the conference. So it became an open Q & A, which suited the audience just fine because these three really knew their s**t. Great advice on all topics from graphic novels to film rights to working with agents.
  • Speed Dating With Agents, with a cast of thousands. I managed to sit with all four agents I wanted to speak with, and each expressed enthusiasm for my book and agreed not to change their address if I decided to send them pages. I used what I learned from Katharine Sands to hone my pitch, and I learned more on the fly as I spoke with these agents. Worth the extra $50 to attend this? I would say an unqualified "yes" at this point. It's only worth it if you have a completed project ready to send out, though, and the biggest benefit is getting some face time so you're no longer a faceless name. Plus, the agents get to ask a couple of questions and have to fill three minutes with you, so they're also getting a sense of whether you're someone they can work with.
I attended a few other sessions, but these were my favorites. I met many talented and charming people, including agents and writers and a couple of editors. One is likely to join my current writers/critique group and also has an historical YA story. One agent I never thought of querying said she can't wait to see my work even though I didn't pitch her and she doesn't typically rep my type of novel. That was a weird moment, but I'll follow up with her anyway because you should let a thousand flowers bloom, right?

The worst part about the conference was that it ended. The buzz in the hotel lobby was electrifying even an hour after the final keynote concluded, and many people still milled around yapping away. Now, unfortunately, I have to go to work on Monday and spend the whole week earning money instead of working on my book and sending out queries.

February 15, 2008

The A/V Club

[To all my Fiction Friday friends: Sorry, no time to play today. I hope to return next week! Though I love the prompt and had a good idea picked out.]

Somehow they found me out. They must have read the story I submitted to the contest, where I "came out" as it were. That's right: I'm a writer, sure, but I'm also... an engineer. My college degree is in electrical engineering, and they must have figured because of that I was a total geek back in the day. Although I was getting over my geekiness by college, they'd have been right about me if they'd gone all the way back to high school.

So what did they do? As a volunteer at the writers conference, I've been assigned to the "Tape/Audio" group. There's no sugar coating this. They've forced me into the A/V Club.

You remember the A/V Club in high school, right? The nerds. The geeks. The ones who took film strips seriously, making sure to turn at the beep... and only at the beep. They fixed the lamps in the projectors, wheeled around the A/V carts. And spent time after school doing it, too.

No, I was never in the A/V Club in school. But it looks like I'll be joining them today.

February 14, 2008


Valentine's Day is officially out of control when the Government presents a Stimulation Package to the Economy. I'm wondering what exactly the Economy sees when it opens the Stimulation Package. Cheap massage oil (under $60 a barrel)? Perfume so the housing market won't stink? Dirty pictures of Alan Greenspan? I can imagine the inside of the card:

Dear Economy,
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Tax refunds are fun
So let's give them two!
The Government
Hopefully, The Government gave The Economy just what she wanted. It's almost impossible to pick the right Valentine's Day gift to get the exact desired result. But really, if you've got a fundamentally flawed relationship to begin with, a little chocolate and winky-winky may get you some action one night of the year, but it's not going to rekindle lost romance.

February 11, 2008

the short history of a failed union

the short history of a failed union

I took my love out on a date, and there we shared some abalone.
I gave my love a rose-like flower; she said it was an agrimony.
I gave my love a ring of silver (but it was really antimony).
My love told me that she'd be true, but it was merely sanctimony.
I asked my love to marry me, and so we had a ceremony.
She said "I do," and I did too; I guess you'd call that matrimony.
My love and I, we had a fight, and it devolved to acrimony.
She got a lawyer, so did I, and then we both gave testimony.
She got her way and in the end I had to pay her alimony.
Which means of course that my poor kids will never get their patrimony.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

San Francisco day

2-1-1 : A good thing

Today is February 11th, or 2/11, so United Way makes a big deal out of the 2-1-1 number on this day. As well they should.

Like 911 for emergency response, 411 for information, and 511 for traffic information in many communities, 211 is an easy to remember phone number that can connect people in need with community services that can help. It's a national referral service that can be used by virtually anyone with a need. It's not just for runaway teens or for abused spouses escaping bad homes. It can also be used by grown children seeking elder care for their ailing parents in another state. Or by anyone seeking tax filing assistance. Or by anyone who has a need and wants to find help, whether it's economic, health related, or anything else. And it can be used by people who want to volunteer but don't know where to go or how to do it.

The 211 system now covers 75% of the country, and it relies on private, civil, and public funds to operate. That is, 211 requires county and state approval as well as approval by the local utilities commission, and it also requires a lot of money to set up and operate. I recommend you get to know what this is about and, when you write your congresscritters, ask them to support 211 legislation and funding.

211 is not just a neat idea. When Hurricane Katrina took down the 911 system in parts of Louisiana, the 211 system filled the gap. 211 was instrumental in getting help to thousands of people in Florida after hurricanes hit there the previous year. And 211 is still helping thousands of San Diegans recover from the devastating wild fires of last year. These are just a few examples, and since 211 is 24 x 7 x 365, it helps people every day even when there isn't a disaster happening.

You can go to the 211 web site for more information.

February 8, 2008

Fiction Friday: Flip a coin

This Week’s Theme: Flip a coin. Heads, and your characters hates Valentines Day, Tails, and they love it. Now come up with the reason your character feels the way they do.
I had no idea how little of Interstate 40 my three paperbacks would occupy. At our last stop, a dusty cafe with unbroken windows and unstained porcelain coffee cups, the driver told me we were still only halfway to Albuquerque. Another six hours or thereabouts. "Greyhound Gus" didn't want to stay at the Desert Bluffs Cafe and Gas Stop any longer than I did. He removed his hat and wiped his sweaty, balding head with a spotted handkerchief every few minutes, but he refused to remove his company coat.

The other eight passengers all ate something because where we came from it was lunchtime, but the desert heat had baked away my appetite. I only wanted to keep moving, to get as far away from Jimmy as quickly as I could. I spent most of my time at these stops gazing east along the interstate, looking for the wobbly shimmer of Jimmy's Chevy emerging from the horizon. He wouldn't follow. As long as I didn't call asking him for money, he wouldn't try to follow.

A poor little girl was fairly wilting in her yellow sun dress, but her brother had acquired a set of plastic army men at the last stop and had yet to conclude the war that had raged for over a hundred miles and now had encroached into the sand-swept serenity of the Desert Bluffs. Their father leaned on the pay phone in the parking lot sucking on a cigarette, his blue shirt soaked to the seams. His wife watched through the window with the same look of patient annoyance I'd perfected in waiting for Jimmy when he stepped outside to call one of his "business associates." For the past two years, the business associate's name was Margaret, and he'd been paying her rent in Tulsa. He thought I didn't know.

The young man with the brown eyes leaned over a pump off to the side. He'd taken off his black tee shirt and was bent over, slamming the handle of the pump down so water gushed over his head and down his muscled back. He'd sat down across from me out of Tulsa and introduced himself to me as "Dan--Danny--Dan" and then with jittery fingers shook a cigarette out of a pack to offer me. I said nothing, shook my head no, and looked back at my book. I read my book the next hundred miles, knowing he sat and stared at my breasts in profile. Why shouldn't he, after all? There wasn't anything worth looking at out his window. And he couldn't possibly know how they looked under my shirt, what with being forty years old and having nursed three babies.

I glanced up the road again, expecting the shimmer of a Chevy to pierce the horizon. But it didn't. And with a deep breath I told myself--again--that I was free now, that the sensation of a ring on my finger was not from gold any more but just a depression left from years of relentless pressure. Dan Danny Dan stood up from the fountain, and my gaze traced the rivulets that coursed down his smooth skin and slipped inside the waistband of his jeans. For a moment I imagined my fingers following them.

I looked away, at the ancient cash register on the counter with its one-dollar placard stuck up and bent. At the newspaper spread behind black-soled cowboy boots where the cafe's owner sat with his feet on a table. The newspaper, some local edition, ran a front page story of the Valentine's Day dance tonight down at the Lazy M Ranch. I looked down at my own table, where a quarter and a dime rested next to my empty coffee cup.

Jimmy wouldn't follow, would not try to stop me if I asked for a divorce. But Dan Danny Dan was barely older than my first son. How could I even think about it? But we had five hours, maybe more, before he'd leave the bus in Albuquerque and I'd keep on to Los Angeles. I was a free woman, I reminded myself.

My fingers stretched out, reaching first for the cup but detouring to the quarter. The eagle on its back was spoiled by a black spot. I rubbed it off with my thumb as I noticed the children's mother sitting rigid, holding back tears as she stared out the window at her husband, still on the phone, now turned away from us.

What the hell. I flipped the quarter into the air and caught it, turning it onto the back of my hand but keeping it covered. Heads I do, tails I don't. My heart pounded and my stomach churned from too much coffee and not enough food. Dan Danny Dan stepped onto the bus, and I watched his silhouette glide the length of the bus to the very back. As the round, dusty blue figure of Greyhound Gus the bus driver stepped up next to me, I realized I hadn't breathed in nearly a minute.

"Ready to leave, ma'am, whenever we're all on board."

I smiled up at him, feeling my own sweat running down the empty space between my spine and the clasp of my bra. "Thank you, Gus. I'll be right there."

"Your hand all right?" He stared down at my hands on the table, the right still clasped over the left with the quarter tucked safely out of sight between.

"Oh, yes, thank you."

He looked concerned a moment, then shrugged and turned away. "I'll wait for you, but we still have a ways to go." I could feel the cafe owner's eyes pointed at my profile as I watched Gus waddle across the half melted parking lot and puff his way up the steps. The family bustled themselves up the steps behind him, the father crushing out his cigarette before disappearing inside as well.

"Well?" The scratchy drawl of the cafe owner broke into my silence. He looked mostly Indian, and I wondered if we're actually on a reservation.

"Well, what?" I answered.

"Heads or tails?"

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean," I snapped, sliding the quarter off my hand without looking at it and bolting up out of the chair. He just grinned and scratched the side of his nose with his thumb.

"Have a good trip, miss." He lifted his newspaper again and disappeared behind it.

As I stepped away from the table, my eyes caught site of the quarter, no longer with its eagle side up. I paused in mid stride and then continued, trying to swallow that dry lump that just appeared in my throat. I was a free woman after all, and Jimmy wasn't going to follow. And Dan Danny Dan would be out of my life in five ours, maybe a little more, when he got off in Albuquerque and I carried on to Los Angeles.

I climbed the steps of the grumbling bus, the door closing with a creak behind me. I continued right on past my sweater and three paperbacks in the seat midway back, and I grasped my way to the last row as the bus lurched forward. Dan Danny Dan was staring out the window, and without a word I sat down next to him and slid my hand behind his back, feeling the wet shirt still cool from the deep well at the cafe.

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February 5, 2008

haiku wednesday - February 6, 2008

This week's words are

lonely bridge, still fog
foot crests guardrail, headlights loom
a moment disturbed

two clubs? three no-trump
disturbed, divorced... still playing
lifelong bridge partners

bridge work snarls traffic
disturbed drivers in still cars
take the train next time

bridge to the future
disturbed by mud-slinging jerks
election year, STILL?!?

February 4, 2008

summer ascension

summer ascension

a rainbow dangles around my neck
swaying awkward below hard breaths
as I thrust my feet down on slick pedals

frayed and stringy at its ends
it waggles inches away from
disastrous entanglement with wire spokes

we wobble up Hopewell hill, aiming
at tar blisters risen in the August heat
popping them like other kids' bubble gum

head down, I watch shadows wilt behind
and listen to the Bassetts' hound
yowling how much farther to the top

minutes seem like hours but we arrive
and discard our bikes at the curb,
a temporary graveyard of rubber and steel

we join the other pilgrims
thirsting for childhood summer relief
our bare feet sizzling on concrete

I add my rainbow to the patchwork quilt
and skip off to join the procession
that ascends to the diving board.

One of my writing goals for 2008 is to write at least one light verse or poem every week in addition to my haiku wednesday and fiction friday posts. I will try to do this on Mondays.

February 1, 2008

Fiction Friday: singin' in the rain

This Week’s Theme: Your character was singing out loud in public but did not realize it.
I couldn't stop quivering each time I thought about seeing my name on that playbill. It was only college theater, but to be selected as the female lead! I couldn't wait to call Mom and Dad back home and let them know, but they were sure to be out to their Saturday night dinner.

Jimmy wanted to take me out to celebrate. He said we were going to do it in style, so I wanted to shower and get dolled up. Maybe wear that champagne colored dress I wore to Annie's wedding last June which Todd Flanders liked so much. He actually fell off the porch because he couldn't keep his eyes off me! That was exactly the reaction I wanted from Jimmy tonight, and in that dress and my heels I was sure to get it.

I slipped out of my dress and grabbed my bathrobe and towel, then sauntered down the hallway to the bathroom. Most of the other girls would be down in the living room or out at the library. This big university lifestyle with its big dorms had been difficult to get used to last year. For the really shy girls it was tough knowing that anyone could walk up those stairs and see you in your robe without makeup, or worse, with curlers! Sometimes even boys came up the stairs if they had permission from the dormitory mother.

But I didn't care, floating down the hall with my head in the clouds, my mind on opening night two months from now, on the adoring crowd cheering curtain calls and delivering roses backstage. In the bathroom, I chose the shower stall by the back because it always had the best pressure and hottest water, and I pulled the curtain shut behind me before disrobing.

Steam rose from the green tiles on the floor and the wall, and the hot water fell on me like a summer rainstorm. And I just couldn't help it. Lead in Singin' in the Rain! I was going to play Kathy Selden and have everyone fall in love with me! The water poured down on me, and the steam clouds filled my senses, and I closed my eyes and started in... what a wonderful feeling, I'm happy again! I'm laughin' at clouds, so dark up above! The sun't in my heart... oh yes, I was ready for love all right. Jimmy would be here soon.

I turned off the water but not my song, and I toweled off with the second verse, slipping my robe back on. With a stage flourish, I belted out, "And I'm ready for love!" as I yanked back the flimsy, vinyl curtain that smelled vaguely of mildew and bleach.

The bathroom was full of people--girls from the dormitory, boys from who knew where. There must have been a dozen people crammed into this little room, and all staring at me in my bathrobe with a shower cap blobbed on my head like a giant, melted marshmallow. And in front stood Jimmy, his arms crossed and an enormous, smug grin across his lips.

My summer shower turned into a thunder storm, and as the crowd in front of me broke into mixed applause and laughter, I quivered in rage. I felt tears coming to my eyes, but I didn't want them to think I was embarrassed for singing in front of them. Let them hear. It was a free performance for them. No, my tears were born from anger.

I could barely breathe as I watched Jimmy with his crocodile smile studying my reaction. So this was his doing, bringing all these people here. Most were my friends, but there were a couple of strangers there, too. I put ice into my glare as I stood there, exposed and ugly, wanting nothing but to get back to my room. Alone.

We stood there, face to face, with the jeering crowd behind Jimmy, for what seemed like for ever. Eventually, he said, "Come on, baby, don't be mad. I just wanted to give all your friends a chance to congratulate you before we went out!" He stepped toward me and opened his arms to welcome me in a hug, but I just glared back and didn't move. "Hey, baby! I just wanted tonight to be for us. I didn't want anyone else interrupting to congratulate you. Come on, baby. I did this for us." His smile changed a bit, and I watched his eyes change with his tactics. "I thought you'd like the attention. You're a star, after all!"

I yanked my shower cap off, letting my crinkled hair collapse around my shoulders. I shoved the cap into his chest, and as he grabbed it in surprise I pushed past him and elbowed my way through the crowd, which had now fallen into a sort of awkward hush. Let my gray clouds chase everyone from the place. I wasn't going anywhere tonight, not with Jimmy or anyone else.

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