Saturday, December 01, 2007


I stretch forward, straightening my arms and legs out away from me. Pulling the muscles of my back tight around my ribs. My shoulders thrill at rolling forward after the long hours spent on my back in repose.

I try to catch the remnants of my dreams now fluttering away with the stiffness in my limbs. There were many, vibrant, colorful, but vague now in the gray light of my bedroom. One with three travelers - inexplicably catholic. A hidden fugitive pope, his Arman and Mo. I try to figure out why I've named them such, all I can recall is a joke in my dream "What are your names?" "Larry, Curly and Mo."

My travelers were fighting through a hotel in Southern Utah. I remember the place. I had been there. Where we had rested after horseback riding. Sore and exhausted we had snuck in like fugitives from the canyon and luxuriated in overstuffed leather chairs. I took in the wildlife stuffed along the walls sadly. It seemed evil to take such beauty and movement and harden it for all eternity. And my travelers were fighting that evil. Some evil, they were running toward the devil, now I remember.

I didn't stay dreaming long enough to see them through. I remember I was going to feed them country fare. The stuff my Dad used to put in front of us. Grits swimming in butter. Biscuits and gravy, chunky from impatience. Baked beans with fatback. Bacon dripping long after sitting on the paper. Food I don't eat anymore since my Dad looked at my 15 year old self critically and said "You're not going to be tall, don't let yourself grow sideways." I thought him a devil back then too. But now I live in a fear of growing stout like him. In life as in my dream I'm sure the devil won.

When I make a move to leave bed my cat stretches out like me. Her long legs straight in front of her, her back curved, her fur flat and shiny. She puts out a paw, tamping down the blanket in an effort to keep me in bed. I know all she really wants is for me to keep warming her spot. The sun is shinning through the windows and curtains, bright and promising. I can almost picture the green grass pushing towards it. The idea of going out as I am, in skivvies and bare feet, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun and the growing earth.

Finally padding to the window all I see is dying. The trees, devoid of their colorful leaves, criss- cross their limbs every which way. They don't sway and trill at the blowing of the wind now. There arms look mean, sharp. They reach out and tangle with one another, making it impossible to see where one tree ends and the next begins. Instead of letting the light through their canopy softly as before they fight to hide the bright azure of the sky. I can see it fighting hopelessly to push through the brown and decay.

I think of my dream travelers. How I left them to fight the devil alone, knowing the devil would win. How I left them hungry and with no weapons beyond my horrid jokes. Looking out on the world today I only see decay and death. I think of harvest, of empty fields and unfruited trees. I think of frosts and withered flowers. Of waste and then of wick. The promise of hidden green is impossible to me. The earth is decaying.

In a dead world it's hard not to see the devil winning.

Friday, November 09, 2007


I woke up and my heart was beating. It was a bad dream but I couldn't remember what it was about. As I stared out at the dark of my room my cat made soft noises. She was having a bad dream too, mewling and whimpering in her sleep. I scratched her ears until she rolled over against my side, hugging my hand to her stomach. I lay perfectly still...afraid to go to sleep.
It was time to go so I scratched his back till he rolled over and I could kiss him. I kissed him quick, before he could cough again. He called me sweetie. He calls me sweetie, kiddo, cutie. All those names you can't stand until the right person calls you them. I couldn't answer, I just kissed him again and he coughed this time. Then he snored. He snores more now, steady and low.
I remember when we stayed with his father, before we were married. We slept on the floor. We had couch cushions under us, but I kept sliding between them and would end up sleeping on the hard concrete, waking up to the dust bunnies. We were smushed in a twin sleeping bag of green felt. His dad slept on the couch above us. We could hear him. My boyfriend gathered me up in his arms, placing his mouth to my ear and said "My Daddy snores like a walrus."

I giggled.
Driving to work and my car had a snowflake on the dashboard. It was warning me there would be ice. In my head I thought "snowflake!" which is what I say when I'm cold now. Outside it was sunny, but the grass was covered in powered sugar frost. It was pretty, the bright green touched with angel white. I wondered if this was rime.
When I was a teenager I did a play and told a story about rime. How Jack Frost would paint the windows with art of ice. In the play I was raped. I lay on the hard concrete floor and the boy slapped me over and over while I screamed. My father saw the show and sat in the front row. The whole scene he leaned over the boy closer and closer. Then I said my line and the scene was over.
I'm watching the rime on the grass, on the trees. I'm passing the fire station and all the trucks are out of the garage with their lights on. All the men are standing around in front of them, stamping there feet and rubbing their hands for the cold. They all wear short-sleeved shirts. On the side of the road is a pumpkin that has been dashed against the ground. It's broken and split. It's face is pressed into the asphalt. Later, driving home, it will be just a streak of orange across the street.
He calls me cutie and sweetie and honey and kiddo. Sometimes, when he's really sweet, he calls me pumpkin.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


My husband was looking at a bowl full of tap water, destined for the fish bowl, and cocking his head from side to side.

"I think it's oil." He said.

Sure enough the water that has been coming out of our well had that rainbow-ish slick of oil mixed in it.

This house is my first experience with well water. Previously I used to think of wells as quaint holes, with a little brick walls around them, giving off buckets full of cool, crisp, fresh water. The kind of water you think about when you are really thirsty. The kind of water that tastes sweet and fills not just your tummy, but your veins, with life. Now I know, wells are a pain in the butt. They leak, they create swamps in your backyard and the water tastes vaguely of fish and mold.

The fish and mold I could deal with...the oil was another thing altogether. I invested in bottles upon bottles of water.

Today I was looking for just such a bottle. Our fridge was sadly lacking in chilled bottles of water and for some reason my line of new bottles had dissapeared. I realized I'd recently mopped the floor and could not remember where I had moved them too. But I knew we had more. We always have more. My fear of ingesting whatever else happens to live in my well causes me to forever stock bottles of water. I'm sure there is a small dragon laying eggs in my stomach right now. I am putting my faith in hydrocloric acid.

Off to the garage I went, me and my hatching dragon baby, and sure enough there was another bottle of water. It was nestled sweetly in a stack of winter tires, like a little baby bird. It would have made neat, semi-politcal art had I paint a face on it and wrapped in a baby blanket. Instead I hauled it in the kitchen and poured myself a tall glass of clean, pure, un-oiled water.

And took a sip.

Blech!! Ick! Ach! Blllllaaaaaahhhhh.

I dragged my tongue along my teeth, trying to get rid of the taste and figure out what was so familiar about it. What was that flavor? It reminded me of racing days spent watching cars spin around cones and leave sticky black marks. It reminded me of hours spent waiting for my car to be serviced. It had the vague feeling of that weekend my husband and I spent driving car after car after car and visiting dealership after dealership.

Then I figured it out.

"I think it's tire" I said.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Almost a Ghost Story

Part I

It was late summer. The little cherry colored sports car was made for that weather. With the top down the hot evening turned delightfully cool. The air was infused with the thick taste of cut-grass and night-blossoms. You could barely hear the buzz of the crickets and cicadas over the roar of the little miata’s engine.

Our little car zipped along cobblestoned streets, escaping the sleepy little town where our bed and breakfast was, headed for more lonely, more twisting roads. He was itching to drive, the car was itching to go and I was itching for an adventure. He took a turn northward and the faster we went the more I felt as though we were free. Delving into the back roads of the Pennsylvania countryside, leaving behind the sweet Dutch farmhouses and their cheery neighbors. As suppertime came and went and the sun started to fall dangerously low the roads got lonelier. It was just the two of us. Our conversation, started so chipper and easy - the kind of jabber that comes from being snuggled close in an unknown land – turned low and dark with the sky. We teased about horror movies, ghost stories: witches that haunt the forests, madmen who prowl for vengeance, dark houses that lure unsuspecting couples to their doom. And just as we started to giggle at our jests a building rose up out of the overgrowth of trees and bushes.

It was huge. Many stories tall, with wings that stretched wide either direction. At the top were turrets and gables, and each step down showed balconies and long hallways. And hundreds of hundreds of windows, all dark, all lonely, all threatening. It was an old resort, the chipping paint sadly showing how happy and chipper a place it used to be. The eaves of the windows looked naked without lace curtains. The lawn, overgrown and weedy, looked out of place without happy couple picnicking, happy children playing badmitton in white dresses and short pants. The big french doors to the lobby looked out of place without bellhops and butlers.

If this had been a movie we would have seen a figure in one of those old, dirty windows. A quick flash of a face or the brush of a skirt moving from room to room. If this had been a movie we would have seen lights flash on, beckoning us forward.

Instead a man in jeans jumped out of his work truck, stomping up the lonely stairway to the doors and turning on a construction light. Here too, the movie would have turned. The man would have seen us, come up to us sitting in our little convertible and warned us to move on. Not to ask questions, not stop here after dark. Instead we sat outside the gates and watched the old building in peace.

Driving on we talked about it. How a place like that ought to be haunted, ought to have a story. A grand old building still standing in the wild forests of Pennsylvania should have a history. It should have drama to match its weathered red trim and darken white walls. It should have a life. Motoring on in our little car we chattered about its size, how it’s such a surprise to find it amongst this little tiny road. We chattered so much we didn’t realize the sun was gone now and the road was narrower. We didn’t notice that the trees, which before lent a pleasing feel to the country, now leaned over us ominously making the dark summer night darker, more covered in shadows.

And we were startled to find on either side of us two small houses in disrepair. Unlike the large hotel the windows of these buildings were gone. Everything was dark, ominous. The walls leaned into weeds. The earth grew up around the houses as if it was trying to pull them down, swallow them whole. The wood was rotted, falling apart, the roof was sliding down slowly. The empty eyes of windowpanes were pitch, one could feel the hand of a witch reach out and grab you. Pluck you right in, never to return. Here there was no need of horror movie tricks. We were scared.

“Drive.” I whispered. I didn’t have too…he was already turning around.

To be continued…

Sunday, October 21, 2007


"So they're all trying to be sexy for this guy with the camera, but they're drunk so they're not doing a good job. So they start showing off 'the shocker' and they are so not doing it right."

Being a naturally quiet and shy person I often find myself sitting in the middle of conversations that have a story-like quality to them. Occasionally I get something out of it. As my current storyteller went on about instructing girls on the proper "shocker" technique, and the importance of the thumb, I cocked my head.

"You look confused." A helpful musician chimes in.

"Yes" I say "I've never heard of "the shocker".

Apparently, I am very funny. Everyone has a good laugh.

"No, really. I have no idea what it is."

Being naturally quiet and shy I often find myself in situations where people think I am innocent and sweet. Unfortunately, innocent is a barrier when surrounded by men who all know what "the shocker" is, but do not want to tell me. Or, as one protested, did not know how to tell me.

They tell me to ask my husband.

Now I have to know.

Eventually, after a long stream of cryptic jokes, mostly at my expense, some at the expense of the apparently all important thumb, one rogue felt brave enough to educate me. But we had to hide behind a set of pumpkins to do it.

" get that this has to do of Of the, you know, the sexual nature."

"Okay." I try to look knowing and experienced.

"So, here are two know where these go right?"

I blink for a moment. I realize that people may think I'm rather sweet and innocent, because I am. Already I'm a little shy. But I play it off.

"Yes, I can guess where those go."

"And you can figure out where this goes...right?" He says, showing his pinky with the two fingers and helpfully twisting his hand into a position just so.

"Yes, I can figure that out." And I can, but my mind is having trouble bending around it. On either side of my head is a pumpkin, the rogue is whispering conspiratorially, and the rest of the men have gathered around, all scrutinizing my face as I think. I speak before I think.

"So, in that case, what is the thumb for..." I pause, the rogue has extended his thumb and helpfully re twisted his hand for me.

"Ooooooh!" I got it.

"Don't worry." The helpful musician says "Your face only turned four shades of red."

Really...I'm shocked.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cellphone Blues

Crossing the cobblestoned street of the cultural center of Baltimore. To our backs rises the Meyerhoff. To our front the Lyric. All around us are gray parking garages and red brick rowhouses. A mixture of old and new. A mixture of the modern and the historic.

And the people too. Behind me are couples dressed to the nines. Suits, dresses, heels. Ready for a night at the opera. Okay, maybe just a Loreena McKennitt Concert. But it's at an opera house. In front of me, jaywalking over two streets and in front of a rushing ambulance a man in a polo shirt and khakis.

Oh no, excuse me. A golf shirt. Not a polo shirt. A golf shirt.

Behind me the couples hold hands and giggle at the oppressively long "Don't Walk" light, in front of my golf-shirt-guy talks to himself.

Oh no, excuse me. He's talking to his blue tooth headset.

I wonder what he does, golf-shirt-guy, that he requires his headset to be on at 8PM at an opera house. I wonder if he knows his ear is blinking blue. I wonder if he realizes he looks a little crazy crossing the street in front of a rushing ambulance, talking to himself. If he wasn't wearing a golf-shirt I'd be expecting him to ask me for some spare change.

And thus it begins. Before I even set foot into the semi-modern-but-made-to-look-old opera house I've caught a case of the cellphone blues. Blues because the cellphones burn bright blue in the dimmed light of the auditorium. All around me are signs posted. "Turn them off!" they scream. "Turn them off at the door" "Turn them off in the lobby." "Turn them off in the bathroom" Turn them off, turn them off, turn them off. Even the nice ushers, dressed up in there black tuxes with crooked bow ties admonish us.

"You need to turn that off" one says to the girl sitting next to me.

"It is off," She says, looking up from her screen "I'm just texting."

I think we need a new definition of off.

A man sitting below me defines off as hiding the phone under his program as he mumbles. He looks awkward tenting himself with a piece of paper, held over his face. I can't help but stare at him talking on his phone furtively in the same way I used to hide under my covers with a blanket and read past my bedtime. It's a weird correlation to make, especially since he must be in his 50's and I was 7.

When he turns it off he makes eye contact with me for an uncomfortably long time. I feel the need to whisper "You are soooo busted". Instead he winks at me.

The girl stops texting. The man stops talking. The lights go out. And in the crowd below the eerie glow of blue cellphone screens pop up amongst the dark forms. Like faeries, flitting about, impishly pointing to each offender and saying "Here they are! The naughty ones are here and here and here."

There is a weird pause in the darkness, a new pause. Once an audience could be safe in the dark, knowing that instantly the stage would light up and we'd be transported. Now we wait, as ushers run around and help to extinguish the remaining the first musician waits patiently for our full attention...we wait...a mix of the old anticipation and the modern attention limbo.

The show hasn't even started and we all have a case of the cell-phone blue

Friday, October 19, 2007

So maybe I'm a little tired

My cat and I are having a spat.

She seems to think my spot on the bed is her spot on the bed.

She also seems to think my glass of water conveniently placed on my bedside table is her glass of water conveniently placed on my bedside table.

She also has the crazy idea that my stomach was made specifically for her pillowing pleasure.

Kitty has no sense of "personal space."

Our spat came to a head the other day as I was wrapping up some emails in the office.

Kitty: meow!

Katy: What?!

Kitty: MEow!

Katy: What!


Katy: What? What? What?! What do you want?! Whatwhatwhat!

Kitty: Meow?

And just before I tear my hair out of my head -

Husband: Um, don't let the cat stress you out.

Okay, so maybe I'm a little tired.