Month: April 2002 Page 2 of 6

Blue Champagne.

Whoah. I guess this explains why I can’t find a copy…I checked it out from the Iowa City Pulic Liberry three or four years ago.

Haven’t been able to find a copy since.

Afternoon off.

Lee gave me the afternoon off yesterday. I fed the bebe, pumped her a snack, and took off. Dropped off movies, picked up a roll of quarters…ate lunch, wrote, watched LOTR:TFOTR again. Cinemark has no scruples about playing a flick until the sountrack hiccups, the jerks. Otherwise a great day.

Came home. Bebe miserable, husband nearly so, but bravely.

Where do you get your ideas? Stop! Read “Snippet: Love” first if you’re going to read this one.

…which is the under-two-hundred-word flash fiction (snippet) that I submitted to the Banshee studios contest (see April 17th). The theme of the contest for flash fiction is “journeys.” I decided not to go for the obvious choices, like the cross-country road trip to “find yourself,” travels back to the hometown, travels into the past, future, or alternate timelines, etc.

Hm. For some reason, I’m thinking about dreams that I had during my college years. There was one in which my self and a couple of other people ended up in an amusement park that was going to be sabotaged by the Grey Man, a character that ran through a bunch of my dreams for reasons that I won’t go into now. I wrote a story about it, “Eleven Dreams, Remembered” that I liked then but would probably groan over now. I haven’t thought about the story or about the Grey Man in years. Hm, hm, and more hmmmmm…

So. I’m thinking about 1) a journey, 1a) but not an obvious journey. Some subtext running around in the back of my mind is 1b) clowns. I’ve talked to people about their fear of clowns. I wonder if there are more people who are afraid of clowns or spiders. If you were afraid of both clowns and spiders, and you were trapped in a room filling with a deadly poisonous gas, and there were two exits, one guarded by a clown and the other guarded by spiders, which would you pick? Anyway, Clowns.

The story at this point centers on the daughter, who wanders off into the amusement park, gets lost, is chased by clowns, etc., etc., and finally finds her mother, who doesn’t love the kid anyway. Bleah. Besides, the mother is much more interesting. How about from the mother’s point of view? Blah, blah, blah, feeling sorry for herself, she finally notices that her daughter has disappeared, and has to go looking for her. Does she find her daughter? Does something change? Is there a happily ever after?

At this point I’m hit by idea no. 2: “And then she woke up.”

LIke other writing cliches (mirrors, for example) you shouldn’t use them unless you’re doing something significant with them. A mirror isn’t just an excuse to give a character description. Likewise, a dream isn’t a deus ex machina that makes everything OK, like that whole dang season of “Dallas” and “Who shot JR?”

(Tangent: there are people out there, seemingly adult, who were Too Young For Dallas. The spiral of aging has begun. Soon, songs like “Friday I’m in Love” and “Personal Jesus” will be golden oldies.)

(If they haven’t already.)

Voila, the story. So I wrote it.

While I was dicking around with the word count, I started to notice that everything for the mother-character related back to her resentment for the requirements of “love.” I decided that she had a weird idea about love, having never felt it before, and was obsessed with it the way a virgin’s obsessed with sex. I decided that she was going to see herself in a funhouse mirror dressed as a clown, and having to walk through her image in order to escape the amusement park, a confrontational thing. The clown symbolized the fakery of her “love” in relationships, you see. She was going to have to admit that she was a fake, that she had no justification for her actions, etc.

Well, I decided that that was a little more hokey and overdone than I liked.

And it was way over 200 hundred words, anyway.

So I made a couple of changes: the character doesn’t get to look in a mirror, but she finds out what she’s become anyway, and the character doesn’t really get to escape the amusement park.

I left the ending open because…well, because I ran out of words, to tell you the truth. But I think I like it better this way. It’s like I’ve written my own little Rorshach blob, and just because I see the ending in a particular way (and I do) doesn’t mean anyone else has to. I have to wonder what the people that design actual Rorschach blobs see when they do them. You can’t just drop ink on paper and fold it over: some ink blobs are going to be unsatisfactory, either blobbing in uninteresting ways (such as a circle) or not blobbing at all, merely soaking through too strongly in one spot, with perhaps a single streak where the ink dripped onto the floor. You have to select the blobs, you know…

So what did I think the ending meant?

Some part of the character never wakes up. This is, to the character, a recurrent nightmare that she’ll keep having over and over again until…she doesn’t, for whatever reason. For some reason, I keep thinking that when you don’t resolve issues like this, when you live out a lie, part of your personality becomes trapped in a terrible fantasy world, isolated from reality, time, and the rest of the personality. The character has made a journey into her own soul, and she isn’t coming back.

But if you want to see it as a little Tales from the Crypt horror comic, go right ahead. Is free country, comrade.

Snippet: Love.

She doesn’t ride rides or eat cotton candy. Love alone brings her. Or else prudence. Come time to tote up the balance, she has self-sacrifice on her side.

Shit. Where’s her daughter? Acts like she’s the kid’s evil stepmother, often as she runs off. And the guys. Why couldn’t they let her stay home? And why’d she have the other kid anyway?

Oh, yeah. Love.

She doesn’t have the keys, but she shoves her way toward the car. Time to go. Some jerk sticks his foot between her legs and squirts her with a rubber flower. Fuck. Tripped by a clown. She catches him by his oversized knickers to pull him down. He hisses with laughter and kicks her in the face.

When she wakes, the people are gone, the staff is gone, her family is gone. But that’s love. All that’s left are the clowns and blood in her mouth. Spits. Wipes. Comes back with a fist full of greasepaint. Screams.

“And then she woke up.” But she doesn’t. When the sun rises she leaves part of herself behind. You can tell by the love in her eyes and the way she hates to see herself in the mirror.

Words back from Banshee.

Apparently the editors figured out where I have my blog–not that I make a secret of it–and read the post I put up:

“All rights (I read your blog – nosy, aren’t I?) remain with the author – we put a copyright statement at the end of each piece with the author’s name and a date. Also, simultaneous submissions or material that’s been previously published elsewhere is fine. Of course, we like the new stuff best, but…we try to remain flexible.”

At this point, I don’t think submitting previously published material is going to be a problem, unless I dig back in the files and pull stuff out from Darkwaves & Larkwings. Or the Book of Girls, which never saw print, now that I think about it. Hm….while I might post the cronepome for curiosity’s sake, I don’t think I’ll submit that stuff anywhere. Submitting, just keeping track of my writerly projects once they leave my abode, well, that takes time and mental energy. Focus. I don’t think I need to spread my focus to poetry, since…it’d just be getting the old stuff out of the house. I don’t intend to write poetry much any more.

Not that I have anything against poetry, mind you, but my best poems could have been written as stories, anyway, and I’d much rather write stories.

At any rate, the snippit about clowns shall be thusly posted.

I suggested the site to the chica at work who’s working on her children’s fiction-writing class. She said, “Hm. Interesting.” So I e-mailed her the web address.

We’ll see.

Pointless reply. Oh well. A forewarning of sex and uncomfortable issues.

I read a couple of useless tirades–located at a bastion of geekines—over Lee’s shoulder last night: here are the things, they claimed, that men just wish women would know. And I went through the same cycle I always go through: humor, anger, self-questioning, more anger, and the desire to shoot my mouth off. You know what? It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy thing or a chick thing anymore. I’m sick of seeing those e-mails (so if you’re reading this, make a note: no more “war of the sexes” stuff, ok?) and hearing those conversations. It isn’t funny anymore.

But anyway, here’s the pointless reply I have for that damn list of complaints and whines about the female sex (and this isn’t directed to my husband, who happens to be one of the more fair people I know):

One of the reasons women raise the toilet-seat controversy is that the underside (mostly due, admittedly, to female secretions, but male b.m. splashovers register, too) is gross. And you know what? The rim is gross, both for the same reason and also because of male drippage. And you know what else? There’s usually a yellow streak leading from the male drippage onto the floor. Because you guys do drip, just as females do splash. Another one of the reasons is that men, for the most part, don’t do their share of toilet-cleaning. Here’s the deal: you want to leave the lid up, do half the bathroom cleaning. Unless you’re a dripper, then do weekly drippage checks to make sure you haven’t left a puddle on the floor or running down the front of the toilet. Some of us have kids running around and putting stuff in their mouths, OK?

Here’s a shocker: women are screwed up about sex. Wanna know why? One out of four women will be raped in her lifetime…and those are the rapes we know about (the stats are one out of nine for men). There are more, I’m sure, who have been molested, abused, harrassed, pressured, or manipulated sexually. My guess is very nearly 100%, all told. Take a look at the women around you: if they haven’t had some kind of sexually disabilitating event occur, then someone close to them has–even if nobody knows about it. So if you get turned down again and again, keep this in mind: she might find you sexually attractive, she may even love you, but sometimes she just doesn’t want sex. And that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with her libido.

What’s the obsession with looks, weight, clothing, shoes? For most women, beauty is like strength for most men. A skinny guy faces up to a guy who’s built, and they both know who could take whom down. Even if it isn’t true because of guns, martial arts training, what have you — this is what Lee tells me — they both just know it. It’s the same thing for women. When a woman’s asking you if her butt looks too big, or if she looks good in a particular outfit, she’s not just looking for your approval. She wants to know if she can face down someone if she must, male or female. Believe me, sometimes the only thing between you and being attacked or harrassed by either gender is the knowledge that something about you is sexually attractive. Guys will push around ugly girls–when they notice them–a hundred times more than they’ll dare push around the gorgeous blondes of this world. And god help you if you’re overweight. Or possessing anything less than total self-confidence.

Women, unless they received compassionate, considerate training (this relates to the item above about women being screwed up sexually), will not take your fantasy life well. Why? The great unwashed mass of males don’t understand testosterone or know how to deal with the effects. Consider this. To women, the guys of this world who haven’t figured it out are like one of those really bad, bad women on PMS that make everyone run screaming, only for men it’s 100% of the time. (Testosterone affects emotions much the same way that estrogen does. Estrogen triggers the menstrual cycle, causing PMs in some women once a month. To women, men who don’t know how to deal with it seem like they’re on the rag 100% of the time.) So guys, when you’re bringing up your fantasies and the chicks aren’t digging them, it’s not because your fantasies are innately sick and wrong. It’s because you’re over the top, and you’re just a leeetle bit scary: you remind us of the guys that Done Us Wrong at that moment, more so than any other moment, unless it’s in the middle of oral sex and you’ve decided that You’re In Charge Now.

Speaking of which, regarding sex: most women aren’t innately blessed with the ability to orgasm easily, especially regarding straight intercourse. They’re built wrong for it. Women are built to survive giving birth. Because of various screwed up sex issues, they may not know how to have an orgasm; if they do, they may not know how to have one quickly, consistently, or even pleasurably. Know what else? Your penis isn’t built to bring a woman to orgasm (althoug it may, by happy chance, help). It’s built to deliver semen. There isn’t anything insulting, immoral, or impotent about doing whatever must be done in order to make sex mutually pleasurable, nay, orgasmic. Women don’t get blue balls physically; they get blue balls of the soul. Constantly giving pleasure without getting anything but frustration back…sound familiar? It’s called payback.

Men aren’t as simple as they make themselves out to be. You have your own little manipulations, your own little games that you play with women’s heads, your own screwed-up needs. Case in point: the silent treatment is not equivalent to rational conversation in an arguement. If you and a woman get into an arguement, and you stop talking or start responding with sarcasm or monosyllables, you are no longer participating in a rational conversation. You really are doing the equivalent of screaming at the top of your lungs, or worse, because you’re pretending to be rational while you’re doing it.

Bear with me a little longer.

What I’m saying here is not that men are evil. Men aren’t evil; they’re stupid, just like women, for the most part. Just like women, they don’t think through the consequences of their own actions or the root of other people’s actions. Instead of bitching abou women, ask for compassion (whether you think you ought to have to ask for it or not). Instead of trying to convince a woman that you’re right or that you even have a valid point–instead of jumping to conclusions or throwing out solutions before you understand what’s going on–ask why is it that she wants things to be different than you want them to be. Humbly request sexual instruction, and don’t fret if the answer is “I don’t know.” When you get in an arguement, take turns. Make sure that you don’t respond to someone’s pain with “So what?” or “You hurt me first.”

Whew. That having been said, I also have to add that those things were dead on about one thing in particular:


Don’t hint.

It’ll never, ever work. Guys don’t see it as being polite. They either see it as being manipulative, or they don’t see it at all.

I want is a peftectly good way to begin a sentence. Even if you don’t get what you want.

It really isn’t the things we do, is it? It’s the way we handle it all.

Shhh. Everybody’s asleep but me!

Ray can hold her tummy off the floor now for brief moments. She recognizes it when I copy what she’s doing — she thinks it’s funny. She can sit up for a short time, longer if you tuck a blanket around her. She still doesn’t sleep through the night. She likes to go to bed late, get up late, and avoid naps as long as possible. She’s rarely still. I took a bath with her so she could play in deep water, and she wasn’t afraid, even though she splashed water up her nose. Hypothetically, she can scoot off to wherever she’s going, but usually by the time she remembers how to scoot, she forgets what she was headed in that direction for. She knows how to turn the pages of her cardboard books. She knows how to touch things, but if she gets too excited, she’ll yank or hit. She likes trees. She wants to eat the cat.

Snippets are addictive. Please note: wrassling with bebe foots and finners as I type.

If more things happened to me on a daily basis, I wouldn’t have such an overactive imagination. Not that anybody would believe me if I said I’d been abducted by aliens at this point. So. I find myself sitting in front of a moveable keyboard with a six-month-old bebe on my lap, listening to the sprinklers on the complex lawn (and anybody who’s tried to raise a lawn in Colorado knows just how complex they really are) and a hummed version of the Imperial March as Lee blows stuff up.

I just submitted a little snippet to the Banshee Studios contest of the month; the snippet concerned love and clowns. (Don’t worry. It’s worse than it sounds.) I couldn’t find any info regarding what rights they were after, so I’ll wait to post it until after I hear back from them.

What I should be doing is getting “Feather” ready to send, or at least working on Beauregard.


Snippet: Theme and Other Insidious Obsessions.

It’s not immediately apparent what it is that I’ll be spending the rest of my life writing about. Isn’t that a terrible sentence? I can’t help thinking about it, how terrible that sentence is, and how, at the end of my life as a writer, I may read that sentence–this one, too–and think about how terrible it was. But to return to the point. “He only has one story to tell.” Haven’t you heard that about a writer before? Haven’t you heard that from a writer before? “I may only have one story to tell, but by God, you keep buying it.”

What is the one story that I have to tell? Is there anything around which my mind spirals, a black hole (religion, perhaps, or family?) around which I now orbit at a distance, slowly approaching the horizon from which I will never escape?

Oh, yes.


I was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on May first, 1974, and my family had returned to South Dakota by the spring of 1976. We lived in Wyoming for less than two years. Why? My father was in the Air Force at the time. He served at Fort Cheyenne. Or so he claims. How far is Fort Cheyenne from Roswell, New Mexico? Perhaps Roswell is a front.

And the alien space ships are in a bunker underneath Fort Cheyenne instead.

I always knew I was adopted.

Snippet: All the Things You Fear

The fear of nightmares, of monsters under the bed, of the boogeyman in the closet: those are childhood fears. Childhood fears evolve, don’t they? One fears spiders, snakes, dogs, heights, enclosed spaces…

Or of things more exotic. No matter.

The little old woman cowering before me, humpbacked and–what’s the word for when fatty substances go bad?–rancid. Her son had insisted that she be the first test subject–or victim, should the serum fail. Cure or kill, he was an amiable patron.

“Mother,” he held her struggling in his arms as I pulled her hospital robe and gown away from her buttock and swabbed the area with alcohol, “hold still.” I administered the dose. “How long?” The old woman yowled like a cat. She’d been driven beyond words for years.

He already knew the answer. “Would you like a dose yourself? I have a second here; your mass approximates your mother’s. You carry the same–”


I shrugged. You’ve heard the cliche. “The only thing we have to fear–” I said.

My patron failed to respond. I’d ceased to be human to him long ago; I was only an instrument, a thing, an embodiment of his panaceal Science. He led his mother away. I would have liked to hold her for observation, but he, irrationally, had refused.

The only thing he had to fear was–what’s the word for the fear of hypochondria?

I must bone up on my latin.

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