Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Me on air


Results Radio Show asked me recently to speak on the show about failure. When they asked I said, "Failure? Uh, yeah. I think I can talk about that."





The interview starts about three minutes into the podcast.

Here's the link:
http://resultsradioshow.com/2008/01/27/the-pursuit-of-purpose/

Excuse all my "um"s.

Uh...okay. Thanks!

Monday, February 25, 2008

my favorite Martian


(Illustration by Brendon C. Thompson, www.brendonthompson.com)

People keep asking where I've been lately.
Well...that's a funny story.

It was a Tuesday, if I recall. Though it felt like a Thursday, like Thursdays nearly always feel. I was driving to a friend’s house near Tulsa University, intent on my destination though somewhat distracted by a need to scan every radio station.
I turned into the first housing addition after the second light on the left side past the last entry, looking for house number 7810.
Then, as if rebelling against my repetitive station scanning, all the electronics in my vehicle went dead. A moment of complete and utter silence followed. Nothing sounded, not the breeze, not the trees, not a hive of bees.
Time had stopped.
I can't explain to you how I knew. I just knew. I didn't check my watch or listen for my internal clock or feel my aging stop. Time didn't exist because time no longer mattered.
Night turned white. A bright light overpowered even the deepest crevice in my vehicle, illuminating the interior of a Jeep I'd known for eight years, yet seemed like a stranger. I stared at my fingernails, seeking a site of comfort, of familiarity. Instead, they were glowing from the intense scrutiny of the ghastly strobe.
This couldn't be. This shouldn't be. But it was.

Yep, you guessed it. I was abducted by aliens.

That didn’t take that long though.

They took me to dinner at Charlestons. Me and my motley crew took an entire circular booth near the back.
I ordered the chicken with steamed vegetables, a mix of crunchy peas and too much broccoli.
They refused any earthly meat, opting for a side salad with a croissant and the chef’s soup special.
Then we went to Starbucks, had a decaf coffee, no crème, no sugar. And they left.

In all honesty, it was the best date I’ve ever had.

They dropped me off at my vehicle and scooted on back to their galaxy. They said it was a pretty long journey, being a few thousand light years away and all, and they still needed to run by the store to buy some cheetos and aluminum tubes of paint.
Reaching that awkward moment in the evening when it's time to say goodbye, but you don't want to create any miscommunication, I reached out my right hand for a shake. They opted to flip me the Vulcan sign while chanting, "Nannu, nannu."

Like a streak of lightning there as fast as it's gone, my little friends had vanished from the sky.

I got back into my jeep, determined to visit my friends. I was heading east, or so I thought, when I must have hit a rip in the space-time continuum. Instantly I was transported to Tulsa, Oklahoma, but back in the year 10,015 BC.
The earth was dusty and red with nothing but rocks and hills. I attempted to stop and figure out where I'd made a wrong turn when my tire collided with a nasty Neanderthal bolder.

Wouldn't you know it. I had a flat.

I can change a flat. But when you are a single female in a world some thousands of years before your time, it's a little frightening getting out of the car. Besides, other dimension or not, I couldn't use my cell phone because I was out of minutes.

It was up to me. I gathered a little courage, and climbed out, breathing air without a scent. There wasn't a whiff of anything anywhere. It was pure. I took a few deep breaths, sending that oxygen straight to my brain. It either reinforced my courage or gave me a zing of an air high because I felt just groovy.

In the process of unhitching my spare, two cavemen came along, lifting their dragging knuckles to motion that they'd like to help. I considered the options of allowing their chivalry or being dragged by my hair and graciously accepted.
Without a pause or scratch of their thickened head, they used the lug nut wrench and tire iron to finish the job and had me back on the road in no time. Again, it was that awkward moment of goodbyes. I tried the Vulcan greeting, feeling it a better option than shaking hands. They grunted something. We seemed to understand each other.

I decided I’d just reverse myself back into the present time. If I could drive forward into the past, I could drive back into the future. With a little directional guidance from my Cro-Magnon friends, I paralleled my Jeep through the dimensional rip and back to Tulsa, realizing I’d only lost about 17 seconds. I'd always been a good parallel parker.

It was then I decided to just head on home. I had oil smudges on my clothes from the tire and a few of my space friends during dinner had splashed soup on my shirt. I really wasn't presentable.

So I headed for the residential exit but got confused in all those cul-de-sacs and dead ends. I’ve been lost for six weeks.

A life like Leonard

Everyday I passed the sign.
It was posted in the hallway, thumb-tacked to the wall between the kid-sized bathrooms and adult-sized front desk. It read, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Since I was seven, since this was second grade, I believed it.
I didn’t, however, particularly enjoy apples unless cooked in butter, brown sugar, and topped with crust.
These days I’ve switched the apple with a cucumber – for the alkaline benefits. And I’ve never been a big fan of cucumbers either.
I prefer their more tangy, edgy, half-brother - the pickle.

Eating responsibly is an inherently adult trait. No more hands in the cookie jar. No more chocolate before bed. No more snacking on play-doe. No more being seven.
I’m not a child anymore. In fact, this year I turned…never mind.
My concerns have rotated from hoping mom packed something other than peanut butter and jelly for lunch to getting into better shape, getting another paycheck, fretting over Presidential elections, fretting over cancer predispositions, worrying about crime, worrying about my future, wondering why I'm really here.

It's what we call being an adult. Childhood is over. Now it's time to grow up and freak out about everything.
It seems being an adult isn’t all that much fun.

The other night I watched the movie, “Awakenings.” It’s an older movie, made before Robin Williams put on pantyhose as “Mrs. Doubtfire” and back when Robert De Niro still looked boyish.
Based on a true story, it’s about Leonard (De Niro), a man in a coma for 30 years who awakens after being administered an experimental drug by a shy doctor (Williams).
I’d never seen it before. If you haven’t either, skip this next part.
By the end of the movie, the drug begins wearing off, the paralysis and body ticks come back, and eventually one day Leonard stops moving again, back in his unresponsive world.

However brief it was, Leonard lived. Whatever time he had, he spent it. However unfair life was, he fought for it.
He loved life. Even though he had so little of it.
Leonard had a choice. He could use those few weeks of consciousness by mourning his lost childhood, distraught over his future, and overwhelmed by the damage inflicted on his life. He could have worried and fretted and feared away every moment given.
Or he could use that time to simply enjoy….well…everything, whatever he experienced, whomever he met, whatever the weather, no matter the circumstance.
He chose the latter.
Life isn't about wars between apples and cookie jars or about playtime verses bed time anymore. It isn't quite so simple.
But then again, maybe in our constant race to get somewhere, to be somebody, to accomplish something, to fix everything, to organize whatever, we've made it a tad too complicated. Why can't it, ever so often, just be about living?
He may not have gotten much to live, but I think Leonard knew a lot about life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the false identities of fear

I walked outside feeling the sun warm on my face.
And I thought, “Oh no, global warming.”

I got online to sign Al Gore’s visionary treaty.
And I thought, “Oh no, electronic pollution.”

I turned off the lights and sat on my carpeted floor.
And I thought, “Oh no, synthetic fibers.”

I went to my sink for a glass of cool water.
And I thought, “Oh no, chlorine poisoning.”

I dropped the glass, cutting my hand.
And I thought, “Oh no, staff infection.”

I began pacing my living room.
And I thought, “Oh no, sick house syndrome.”

I went back outside for fresh air.
And I thought, “Oh no, air pollution.”

I decided to take a drive to the country.
And I thought, “Oh no, automobile accidents.”

I took off down the street for a long walk.
And I thought, “Oh no, senseless violent crime.”

I decided to call a friend to ease my anxiety.
And I thought, “Oh no, cell phone radiation.”

I went back inside, shutting the blinds and windows.
And I thought, “Oh no, seasonal affective disorder.”

I stood in my foyer, paralyzed by fear.
And I thought, “Oh no, I’m paralyzed by fear.”

I sat down on the cold linoleum and began to pray.
And I heard God say, “No fear. Just trust.”

I walked outside feeling the sun warm on my face.
And I thought, “Oh yes.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Those red Jimmy Choos


There was a young lady who wanted a shoe,
If she could afford it, she wanted two.

But cut backs and drawbacks had emptied her purse.
She got so upset, she started to curse.

Outside she went, yelling at the sky.
Where old ladies and children were innocently nearby.

She covered her mouth and walked to the street,
Looking for a place she could bleepedy bleep.

She stood under a tree and started to shout,
But was interrupted by a neighborhood fella with gout.

“My toe’s the size of a melon, would you like to see?”
She replied, with annoyance, “What, are you crazy?”

She turned her back on him and started to spew,
The profanity came out first one, then two

“Hold it there honey, why so profane?”
“Don’t call me honey,” she said, “that’s not my name.”

“Tell me your troubles, maybe I can help.”
“Unless you have money, keep your advice to yourself.”

“Are you sick, hungry, lost or diseased?”
“No, but I’m about to kick you where you won’t be pleased.”

The man turned slowly, limping along.
He started to whistle a Barry Manilow song.

She plugged her ears but in her head couldn’t end
The tune of, “Ready to Take a Chance Again.”

“Look what you’ve done. That song’s in my head.
I hate Manilow. I like the Grateful Dead.”

He halted his limp and turned on his heel.
“I’ll stop whistling if you’ll tell me your deal.”

She rolled her eyes but finally agreed.
“My boss had financial trouble so I’ve been freed.

I need some shoes, ones I can’t afford.
Now, what in life do I have to live for?”

He considered her words, leaning on his good toe.
They made him irritated and decided to let it show.

“Let me get this straight, you want a pair of shoes?”
She nodded, thinking of those red Jimmy Choos.

“Here I’ve got gout, but feeling sorry for you.
Be thankful you can put on both pairs of shoes.
Did you not hear me? I’ve got gout.
And I’m not standing around, cussin’ about.”

He walked away, leaning heavily to one side.
She got a grip and went back inside.

A note to my readers


Since this is my blog, I get to write whatever the heck I want.
I've written story blurbs like the one following ("Charlotte and her pistachio crazed cabby") about a thousand times, give or take a few.
I just don't usually share.
Like nearly all writers, all unemployed specimens, and even most household cats, I've dreamed of writing the next great American novel, though I've considered learning Italian if it'll broaden my audience.
That hasn't happened.
Yet.
I refuse, however, to give up the dream. Narratives often speak to me, even when people can't.
A good friend told me recently I should be writing everyday. Writing something I ENJOY.
That seemed like a new concept. The joy writing comes at the end of the day, after I've sent my resume to anyone with an email address, after I've applied for every possible freelance job, searched for freelance jobs not even listed yet, channeled freelance jobs in the future, attempted to travel in time to those future freelance jobs, and done 2.3 loads of laundry.
Then, after spending the day selling prospective clients on my freelancing skills and love/experience/thirst/knowledge/ease of writing, I just want as far away from a keyboard as possible. I want to read a book written by someone other than me or watch a movie written by really no one, as is the case with most movies.
I've decided my friend was right.
So here's what I'm asking of you: Keep reading.
It might be a bit odd at times, different than what I normally post, a little out there, a little in here.
But then again, it is my blog. And I get to write whatever the heck I want.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Charlotte and her pistachio crazed cabby


Charlotte climbed out of the vehicle, her legs weary inside control top pantyhose that rolled past the fat instead of keeping it in. Her black flats made a clog noise on the sidewalk, like the hoof of a horse. She wasn’t fat. She was just tired, and weary, and could maybe lose 12 pounds.
She leaned into the taxi’s passenger window, passing over a $20 and debating whether to let him keep the change. The drive had been monstrous. The cab smelly. And the driver had weaved more than once into the opposite lane, distracted by his sack of unshelled pistachios.
People should learn to eat potato chips, she thought. What was this world coming to when people couldn’t be trusted to snack responsibly?
Truthfully, she didn’t care. She was out of the vehicle, standing on the sidewalk of her apartment. He could start cracking lobster shells. She just wanted inside and to end this day.
“'Anks lay'e,” the cabby said, snatching the $20 with dirty fingernails, stained possibly by a previous snack. “Have goo night.” He stuffed the money into a mystery pocket behind his belly, keeping the shadows of his eyes on her. “No get," he said, moving his hand into a fist like grabbing air, "by gloom. Yes? Undstand? Uh, know?”
No, she didn’t know. She didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. She hadn’t known during the cab ride and she didn’t know now.
“What?” she said, the top of her head tipping in exasperation if not from the weight of her mud-colored hair clinging to her crown by jabbing bobby pins.
The cab grabbed at a handful of nuts, snapping the shells with those filthy fingernails.
“Gloom,” he said, the only word she had completely understood, while he popped a green nut into his mouth and rolling his black eyes out the windshield and into the heavens. He didn’t seem to have a neck so if had turned to see the dark sky better, she couldn’t tell.
Charlotte stepped back, a clumsy movement creating another hoof noise, and stood up as straight as her weary back would let her. A crack in her fifth lumbar vertebrae told the story of the night.
“Whatever,” she breathed out, shoving her purse strap back on her shoulder. She didn’t care about the sky. She didn’t even bother looking. It was grey. That’s all. Just grey. Like everything else. Nothing but grey. Her suit was grey, her purse was grey, her mood was grey, her life, or what was left of it, was just grey. Grey is nothing. It’s a little black, a little white.
If color represented life, I’d be in purgatory, she thought.
Charlotte turned, hoofing her shoes toward the grey stone steps that led to a shower, stretchy clothes, and maybe an entire bag of potato chips. She’d fulfill the cabby’s responsibility and eat them herself.
“Hey lady,” the cabby called, his nondescript, accented pronunciation slurring the sounds and spiking the pronunciation, making it sound like “holiday,” but with an “e”, not an “o”.
She kept walking.
“Lady…”
She heard him. She could keep walking. She didn’t owe him anything. In fact, she should probably take back that tip. She took another clog step and turned around slowly, yanking out a particularly anal bobby pin near her temple.
She’d cut her teeth on southern charm. And in the south, rudeness wasn’t tolerated. Enemies smiled at each other, even while plotting war. So she couldn’t ignore him. Not yet anyway. The matter of seconds could swiftly change her mind.
She waited impatiently, the purse strap sliding off her shoulder again.
“Yeah,” she said, shoving the strap up again. Her legs ached, her head ached. She wanted to go inside and out of this - what did he call it? Gloom. The gloom would just follow her inside. But at least inside she could rip off these pantyhose, cutting their way to her rib cage and the salty Rueben sandwich she’d swallowed three hours ago.
“Gloom…” he said, leaning over the passenger seat and yelling out the window.
She could almost smell his raw, stagnant, pistachio breath from here.
“Yeah, the gloom,” she repeated with annoyance, about to lose that southern charm, rude or not.
“It only out'ide, see?” he pointed at the sky, the unlit buildings, the dimmed street lamps, the empty street littered with leaves and various remnants of paper from other lives, making a swift semi-circle with his pointer finger.
Her eyebrows met in the middle. What the heck is he babbling about?
“You no haf to take in.” This time he pointed to his throat or collar or maybe it was the faded logo on his red shirt that only said “sketbal”. "In," he said again, pointing to either his heart or an unidentified root bear colored stain on his shirt.
“You no haf to take,” he said again, slower and softer, instead of his previous yell, more like a repeated chant. “You,” he said again, his finger back into action and pointing at her. He held it there, like a branding iron against her consciousness. "No take." Then his finger turned upward, into the smog hovering just above the street lights. “Him,” he said, moving his finger higher into the sky, onward toward the Milky Way, toward undiscovered planets, or maybe toward something altogether more vast. "Him take."
That was all. That was it.
Charlotte swallowed past her dry belief. Was he saying what I think he’s saying?
The cabby smiled, the expression like that of a golden retriever. It was difficult to know if it was a smile or simply the pulling back of the lips. His mouth could be puckering from all the salt on the pistachio nuts, for all she knew.
But it looked like what one generally calls a smile. An honest smile.
The smile nodded, plastered on the head doing the same motion. Then he disappeared within the shadow of the vehicle and it rolled away, crunching litter and leaves as it departed.
Charlotte stood, half dazed, half confounded, halfway between the street and steps.
I think he was saying what I think he was saying. I'm almost sure he was saying what I think he was saying.
She finally looked up, into the grey, into the halo of darkness that shrouded the night. She couldn't see Him. She couldn't even feel Him. But maybe, just maybe, He was there nonetheless.
Maybe this place isn’t as God-forsaken as I thought.
She turned toward her apartment. Maybe I’m not either.
Charlotte walked up the stairs, the clogging of her shoes now a light, repetitive tap, her pantyhose forgotten.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sonic, My Love: a ballad by El Paulo





(A Valentine's love poem not for the high-cholesterol of heart, written by my friend El Paulo for all those tator tot lovers out there. Thanks El Paulo for this glimpse into your clogged artery heart. May your limeades be fresh, your fries be crisp, and your burger always have cheese.)

Oh! My dark mistress

Sonic, the evil one

Dark and twisted

Tasty and yummy

I long for you…

Yet resist you I must!

For you bring bad things

Badness

Yea, badness to my body

Yet the ride is so sweet

So smooth

So tasty!

Many drink combinations

Two are enough for me

Melinda and Aimee

Know me by name

Also Jeri and the new girl.

You think I’m kidding-

I’m not.

As though I were Norm

Everybody knows my name.

And gives me extra cherries

Really, that can’t be good for me.

What twisted genius

Opted to serve breakfast

Before when I drove by.

You were dark

Dark and foreboding!

In the first morning light

Yet speaking of evil

Soon to come.

Now you are open

And serve breakfast burritos

Loaded with unspeakable delight

Steak, egg, and cheese.

You tempt me

In my weakness

You shame me in my lack of discipline

And loathe was I to find out

On Memorial

It’s open 24 hours

It must not be so!!

I find myself pulled there

By its evil spell

I claw my way back

Away from its allure

Oatmeal for me

With dried craisins!

Yum…

Lack of cash does not bar the door

The gateway it locketh not.

It beckons with credit

So easy.

Swipe and wait

On their bountiful goodness

The carhop brings the bounty

To my trembling hand.

Oh Sonic

Would that I could sleep next to you

And cuddle you in my arms

Despite the coldness of your concrete

You make me warm inside.