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So, I have word processing now, which is exciting. It means that there can now be capitalization! Droll.

So, last my last post took some of you (all both of you) by surprise. “I wasn’t expecting that,” quoth one person, “I thought this was more fo a freedom thing for you,” quotheth another. I didn’t think it came across that harsh. Evidently it did, which is a shame, because perhaps that harshness has obscured my meaning. It was just one of those 2 am things. These things happen. I can’t sleep I don’t know why, but something inside me does. All I have to do is type and that thing will bring it to the surface. I haven’t had to do that in a long time. Probably close to a year.

So, at any rate, I haven’t come to refortify my defenses or see if I can make clearer some of the more obscure. I walked into my boss’s office, let fly everything from my mouth, and it’s all on the floor. Now it has to be dealt with it, and its dealing’s yet to be seen.

But I’m not here to deal with pataphysical mouth words. Mostly, I thought now would be a good time to share my list. First, let me introduce it by saying that my coworker (former) is actually nice. He’s just really… awkward. He’s a little like Ned Flanders and your uncle rolled into one.

So, my list:

“conversations with my coworker that leave me feeling a little overwhelmed”

1. HIM: you would have been laughing at me this morning. i washed the coffee pot this morning. the scrubber puts out a lot of soap. i had to rinse the pot 6 times. you would have been laughing (proceeds to repeat the story for the next 3 minutes)

2. HIM: i’ll call you nice and early. wake you up when i get up.
ME:good luck. i sleep with my phone on silent.
HIM: that doesn’t matter. i’ll call until it wakes you up. i’m tenacious.
ME: but it’s on silent.
HIM: doesn’t matter.
ME: good luck.

3. you would have been laughing at me this morning. i dropped my contact and couldn’t find it. i was looking around for it and couldn’t find it. it was quite comical.

4. i was laughing. they had a thing on ipod etiquette on the news. i was thinking of you. (this was the first time he saw me with an ipod.)

5. i’m going to call you elf lord. (addressed to my coworker upon hearing that he was studying graphic design)

6. (chuckling throughout whole story) my neighbor, and i’ll deny that i ever told you this, is an auto mechanic. well, not really. actually, his name is wade. he’s always got a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. it’s like, “geeze, do you ever take time to breathe?” we named him smoky joe and his wife smoky jane.

7. HIM: man, i see our mail carrier everywhere.
ME: yeah?
HIM: yeah. saw her at the grocery store last week and taco bell yesterday.
ME: yeah?
HIM: yeah, i was laughing. she was there wither her boyfriend eating a taco.
ME: huh.

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So.

Got fired from Rite-Aid.

Kinda surprised, not gonna lie.

The Story: Every blessed year, my dad gets the same Father’s Day present from me: a homemade calendar made with pictures taken at his annual Crosley show. (Crosley Show: An afternoon with high fiber and no caffeine! Builds character and promotes healthy bone growth! Now with even more old men in hats! (But we are lying about the bone growth.) He loves this calendar more than is reasonable. He cries every time he opens one. Really. So one summery day, last week, I was at work making the 8 x 10 prints which were to be lovingly pasted onto white cardstock and turned into fresh tangible Father’s Day love. Rite-Aid was celebrating it’s Grand Opening (never mind the fact that we’ve been a Rite-Aid for…(counts on fingers)…nine months-ish now…and aren’t we still wearing the damn red Eckerd polo shirts? Yes we are.) and it was a very, very busy day on register. Friskies Cat Food was 20 cents a can, so was Starkist Tuna ( spot the difference, Mrs. Dibble! You can’t! You’re old and cataracty!), Tylenol was free with a coupon (yes, free), Wheat Thins, toilet paper, oven cleaner, lightbulbs, ant-traps, and other necessities for Western living were 99 cents each.  It was a madhouse. Customers were pressing their noses to the door at 7:00 AM, and they quickly overran the place when the doors opened a mere two hours later. For four hours I ran register NON-STOP. My fingers never stopped moving, my feet never left my rubber mat, my eyes never focused more than two feet away, for four non-stop hours. When I finally caught a break, I worked on my 8 x 10s. Since I would be working on the calendar at my folks’, I didn’t want to put them in a Rite-Aid envelope which my father would see and instantly investigate. I had a Target hiring folder with me, full of papers to read over lunch, so I stacked them in there as I finished them. I was called away repeatedly, which I tried not to resent, seeing as it was, in fact, what I was being paid for. I wasn’t quite done with them after lunch, but the store’s busyness factor had buzzed and doubled, so I abandoned the prints and rang out sullen customers for a few more hours. They are all archetypes and I hate them. ( Exhibit A: The Receipt Detective. Middled-aged, tight-fisted. Purchases a cart of groceries, toiletries, office supplies, and candles worth 150 dollars for $6.87 with the aid of coupons, double-coupons, rainchecks, and blatant lies, only to minutely examine her receipt with a vulture’s expression and demand 39 cents back for a minor error. She comes in like every Friday. Exhibit B: The Shut-In. Outside for the first time in an estimable 47 years. Cries, literally weeps for twenty minutes about being unable to afford kidney medication (which turns out to be for her diseased parrot), talks about the “deplorable vegetables” at her friend’s sister’s son’s wedding (she has pictures…would you like to see? Well you WILL.), and asks me where my parents got such an unusual first name for me. I am not wearing a name-tag. She thinks my name is Eckerd.)

After my shift was over, I gratefully escaped to the office, where I counted out hundreds of coupons, checks, receipts, rain-checks, and a wad of money the size of my head. I grabbed my stuff and left. The next day I came in for another shift, worked like an indentured Irish woman for another nine hours, and was preparing, exhaustedly, to punch out when the shift supervisor pulled me aside.

“Do you realize you took a bunch of 8 x 10’s home last night and didn’t pay for them?”

“Oh hell”, I replied. In my rush to get home, I had picked up my purse, keys, and folder and left without ever remembering I had fifty bucks worth of pictures inside it. On the camera, it looked like Heather Ackerman made a lot of photos, stuck them in an unmarked folder, and walked airily out with them. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how easy it is to get completely fucked.

They called me in two days ago. A fat Latino named Angel grilled me in the back room, demanding details, making me fill out forms and write explanations, all of which I did willingly. (Mostly because he implied that being “unwilling” involved cops, arrest, booking, court dates, lawyers, possible jail time and a $10,000 fine for committing petit larceny. And I could never work for Rite-Aid again. Um, boo hoo.) So I signed a little piece of paper that said I was a thief, intentionally robbed the store, and was now remorseful, all the while with John Proctor screaming in my brain “It is my naaaaame! And I cannot have another in my liiiiiiiiife!” I handled it maturely and bravely and calmly, until. Until.

Until.

He threw a little photo package onto the table I was seated at. “What’s this?”, he demanded. It was a small Rite-Aid envelope with my name on it. Inside, I knew without opening it, were about thirty wallet-size portraits of my sister Andrea. The man named Angel grunted at me.  “Looks like you make prints and don’t pay for them a lot, huh?” I was so frigging pissed. These prints weren’t even mine. My father had gone down to Rite-Aid the day before her memorial service to make copies of her last picture, to give away to mourning friends and family. Since I was home with Mom, Janet made the prints, and screwed them up twice before my dad finally paid and left. Instead of shredding the leftovers, Janet thoughtfully stuck them in an envelope and wrote my name across it. I found them when I came back to work, and although I didn’t want them or need them, I hadn’t thrown them away either. I couldn’t. Now here they were, thirty grinning faces of Andrea in this room, this place where I felt like my life was taking a sharp downward turn. I thought suddenly of telling my parents I was in trouble for theft – never mind the fact that I hadn’t done it intentionally. I thought of their faces as they remembered the years of phone calls from Andrea, some from police stations, or prison. And I cried. Oh, how I cried in front of that fat Latino. It took all my gasping breath to explain what these pictures were all about. He didn’t even have the grace to apologize. He had the brass stones to intimate that my “recent degree in acting” made it hard to “take me seriously”. Actors as charlatans…is it 1561?

My boss, a kindly father of a man named Jay, was called in to speak to me after Angel was done. I looked at him hopefully. He didn’t say a word. He just stood there, signed a piece of paper attached to a clipboard, and terminated me. They don’t call it “fired” at Rite-Aid. I was terminated because I violated company policy, and it didn’t matter one bit that I had rushed out to my car and returned the prints, still in the folder on my front seat, the moment I was made aware I had them. They don’t care. Four years of my life, the stories that started in those years, they are over. And I am so fine with this.

I never have to see Janet bend over in her khaki skirt again.

I have a job at Target, and it starts up in a month.

I spent the day with my dad, working in the carpet store by his side. I was afraid, I was halting, but I told him what happened. I told my responsible, grounded, financially secure father that I was fired for suspicion of theft. My soul was burning in my chest. He was quiet for a moment, then he leaned over his desk, looked me in the eye, and told me to send him my utility bills. “God gave you this time for a reason,” he said, “and I want to see you work on your book. You promised Andrea you would.”

And I cried.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to voraciously research a subject. I think all those MLA-style papers burn out people’s natural desire to research, and make it a word that has a Pavlovian response of the cold sweats.

But. I read this fantastic book called The Monsters of Templeton http://www.amazon.com/Monsters-Templeton-Lauren-Groff/dp/1401322255/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213053072&sr=8-1

by Lauren Groff, and it had a sea serpent in the lake. It was beautiful. My brain is not in a writing mood, I feel like everything I’m saying is stilted, but I don’t want to forget this stuff.

So. I ordered fifteen or so books from the library on prehistoric survivors and lake monsters. There was one that’s out of print called Prehistoric Survivors by Karl Shuker, and it was really pretty convincing. Aaagh. Don’t I sound ridiculous? Like I’m not the four millionth person to hope for living dinosaurs. But there are so many things in the world that are still being discovered, there has to be hope–the mokele-mbembe, secret brontosaurus of Chad…the sabre-tooth tiger…giant sea plesiosaurs..their habitat is certainly smaller but has not necessarily disappeared, and why not? Why not?

It is strange that there have been really no photographs to speak of. Lots of eyewitness reports but no pictures. It comes down to trusting strangers’ word. Lord knows we’re all okay with that.

This is a sad sad post with no flow to it at all. Let’s just call it a fact bookmark of the mind.

It’s inspired several new characters for my drawings. I’m going to start storyboards soon.

There’s a bulletin board in the hallway of my school, and it has a display of drawings my students did before I came here. They drew their dreams, and clearly they all had different ideas of what a dream is…not surprising, adults do too. Some of them drew themselves sleeping in their beds, and that was them dreaming. Some drew the images that roll across the inside of their eyelids when they are asleep, and that was them dreaming. Some drew a night sky, and that was them dreaming. One boy drew a burning house with men with guns, and a cross on fire.

That was his dream, too.

I’ve been watching my husband try out a few new games lately because he got a trial gamefly subscription. He likes a lot of different stuff and there have been kid games and some that are maybe not. That’s the point. There’s this one where a muscle-bound vampire sucks blood from chained and ragged victims to gain energy. I’ve got to admit it made me uneasy to watch. The sound effects were pretty visceral.

One of my favorite books when I was twelve was Dracula by Bram Stoker. I also loved Gone With The Wind and The Count of Monte Cristo.

There are ragged, chained victims, rape scenes, murder, the undead, injustice, revenge,seduction and all manner of violence at the soul of those books. I would recommend them to any child.

I don’t know if I’d let my future little boy play Grand Theft Auto.

Why?

When you read you sit in the passenger’s seat. When the character does something you experience it, you might not even see it coming, you might be the girl with the vampire’s teeth at your neck suddenly, when you weren’t ready for it. You might be carried up the stairs and raped by your own husband because you crossed him one too many times. You might plot to kill the man who had you thrown in prison and stole your fiance. You’d do it, too.

Is that better than screwing a prostitute in the backseat of a car in GTA because you chose to hit that button?

Does the fact that it’s written down make it intrinsically more meaningful and not-evil?

When I was fifteen I read through all of Shakespeare. Titus Andronicus thrilled me to the core. I told my mom about it. That guy killed a little boy and fed him to his own mother baked in a pie. She said she wasn’t sure I should be reading that. I said it’s Shakespeare! She said does that make it right, because it’s Shakespeare?

Yes. Yes, it does. If I saw that in a video game would I be horrified? You bet.

I’m going to have to leave this here without coming to a conclusion because I don’t have one. I’m not sure if I could ever know my own child well enough to sense when he was ready for something like that. What if he dreamt of guns and fire in the attic? My heart would break. Is it just your love that matters, a safe place in the world for a child, a distinction between fantasy and reality, right and wrong?

On a similar but sort-of-different topic, I’ve been doodling a little amorphous bear creature and my husband suggested I write a children’s book around him. I really like that idea. However, I am faced with a completely foggy idea of what a good story would be. I’m trying to remember what books I liked as a kid.

  • I liked repeating phrases
  • I liked animals
  • I liked monsters
  • Especially monsters so big you could only see their bottom half on the page
  • I liked intricate drawings with detail it took you hours to see all of
  • I liked it when the main character was in terrible danger
  • but escaped miraculously

There will be a monster. A big one. My creature will be in terrible danger but will escape miraculously. He will bake a cake.

Now I just have to fill in the spaces.

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