Monday, December 31, 2007

My Christmastime "Adventure"

The Friday before Christmas, I woke up about thirty minutes early. I wanted time to get everything down to my car because that was the day I was headed to my parents' house for the weekend before Christmas. I got ready for work, packed up my car, and headed off to work, in my car, which I think I've only done three or four times in my 27 months working here.

See, the governator, in his infinite wisdom, had given us all some informal time off, four hours paid where we don't have to work, for the holiday. Since there's a problem with the headlights, I wanted to leave early and these extra hours were perfect. And leaving from work would get me moving twenty minutes earlier! Perfect.

I got to work and poked around. I didn't do much actual work because I didn't have any and SMSN wasn't here to be all enforcer-like, so I could play silly games and read crap. I shut down my computer five minutes before noon, pulled my sweatshirt on, and read until I could leave. When all the hands pointed up, I sped out of here. I paid for my parking, got in my car, pulled out the leftover pizza I brought for lunch and headed out of town.

Traffic wasn't bad through town. On the highway, people were going slower than they needed to, but they were close to the speed limit and I had myPod playing songs I like and know, so I could sing along. I drove and drove and got to the really narrow part of the highway and traffic became a cross between crawling and stopping. I think I spent forty minutes crawling and stopping before I saw the messy accident that caused it. (Didn't see any people, just smashed cars and glass and the CHP guys.) Even after that the traffic wasn't smooth because farther down some CHP guys had set up a detour for the people who wanted to drive to the west. I was about an hour behind my normal schedule by this time.

After that, it was smoothing sailing for about 3000 feet when the freeway started and things got pokey. Traffic didn't stop, but it was really slow and pretty tight. I kept my car to the nearly all the way right lane because my exit was only about two miles away.

Traffic though that town was pretty good. We moved at nearly the speed limit and I knew that once I got out of town speed would pick up; after all, it was only two in the afternoon.

I was right. After I got through town I hit the gas and finally, after two hours of driving, got my car to 55 MPH. That's when the car started shaking, well bouncing, really fast and I heard a "whump whump whump" sound that went along with the bounces. Stuff in the passenger seat started rattling. I took my foot off the gas and as the car slowed, the bouncing stopped and the sound stopped. I figured I would just cruise at fifty and take the rest of the trip slow and be a bit more late to my parents' house and while I was there I could talk to my dad about the problem and we could work out whether I needed to take it to someone to get it fixed.

I cruised along for a few miles when the car started steering funny and was trying to pull me into the other lane. My snow driving experience kicked in and my foot came off the gas and I tried to hold the car steady so I wouldn't go into the other lane or steer too hard off the road. It took me a few seconds before I realized that I had blown a tire.

I pulled off the road as far as I could because there's not too much of a shoulder on that highway and I wanted to feel fairly safe while changing the driver’s side front tire.

Out I climbed into the biting wind and walked to the back of the car to free the jack and the doughnut. With those in hand, I walked back to the front of the car. I set the doughnut down and looked for the right place to set up the jack. The gravel on the side of the road hurt my knees as I twisted the handle to get the car up enough so I could get the tire off. The tread on the tire had peeled away leaving it bald and thin. When I got the tire off, I found the tread wrapped around the axel. I sighed and carried the tire and the tread and tossed them into the car; I didn't want to be one of those assholes who leave their messes on the side of the road. I got the doughnut up and on and cranked the car back down to the ground.

The jack safely stowed in the back of the car, I climbed back into my seat and started the car up. It had only taken me about 40 minutes to do everything. Not bad for a guy who hates working on cars. I put it in gear, waited for a break in the traffic, and hit the gas. The rear tires spun, but the car didn't move. I tried again. Nothing. I tried going in reverse. Lots of noise, but no moving. I tried going forward one more time and when nothing happened I set the parking break, turned off the car, and sighed.

About a mile behind me was a railroad museum. I head toward it hoping to find a phone, crossing the street when the shoulder on my side got way too small. I kept thinking that at least it wasn't raining, and then I'd check the sky to make sure there weren't any clouds above me that could open up and pour. The sky stayed clear, thank you.

The sign at the museum said that it was only opened on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, the gate was open and there was a car parked in front of the building. I walked over and knocked on the door. A guy came and I told him what was going on. He let me come in. At first he wanted me to dial 911, but I only needed a tow truck to yank me out. He offered me his cell phone and dug out a phone book for me to use. I called for a tow, then went to the road to wait.

The clock in the truck showed four as I climbed into the cab and buckled in. I explained to the driver what the problem was and off we went. He sang along with the twangy country music that was on the radio and a minute or two later I pointed out my car. He slowed down, looked at the ground and decided that he couldn't get my car out, safely, unless CHP was there to slow or stop traffic. At the nearest turn around point, he radioed in and told them what he needed. We got back on the road and headed for the museum because that was the only place he could turn around to get going in the direction my car was pointed. At that turn around, he radioed in again to ask about when the CHP would come. The guy on the radio said no one was coming, that they couldn't help me, and there was no charge to me. It was 4:15.

I climbed out of the cab, thanking the guy for coming out and giving me fifteen minutes of warmth, and headed back toward my car and the nearest emergency phone.

At the phone, I picked it up and pushed the button to call directly to CHP. I didn't want to do this on my way down because I knew I needed a tow truck and I didn't want to bother anyone that I didn't have to. Now I had to bother them. Some woman picked up and I explained that I needed a tow and where I was and that I did understand that I'd have to pay for the tow and I gave her my information and I told her that I was going to wait at my car.

The walk back was colder. The sun was lower and there was more wind. At one point, a truck pulled off the road in front of me. I wondered if the driver was going to offer me a ride. Out of the window came an empty plastic bottle, then a McDonald's bag, then more bottles, an ash tray, and another bottle. When I got up to the window, I was offered a ride. I turned him down. Not only was my car just over the little hill, but I really didn't want to ride with someone who used the highway as his trash can. Sometimes, beggars can be choosers, they just have to know when it's okay to make that choice.

The rest of the walk was as uneventful as walking along a busy highway could be.

I climbed into my car, which was chilly, but not windy, and waited.

I was very good about not turning the key every few minutes to check the time. I only checked every fifteen minutes.

At 6:15, with no tow truck or CHP in sight, I grabbed the flashlight out of the glove compartment and set out to the other, closer, emergency phone. I figured that two hours was enough time to wait for help and not get it. In the dark, the wind had died, so it felt warmer at six than it had at four.

I got to the phone, which was on the other side of the highway, and got through to a guy. I immediately told him that I had called, from a different phone, two hours earlier. He sounded concerned that no one had come for me and took all the same information that the woman had earlier. Before we hung up, I asked him to connect me with my parents so I could tell them I was okay and that I wouldn't be there when I originally thought I would and that I'd stay overnight wherever I ended up. We hung up and I headed back to my car.

I wasn't sure where the CHP would be coming from, though. Would the cruiser stop at the phone looking for me, or at my car? It probably depended on which direction it came from. So, I parked myself on a little hill, way off the shoulder, where I could watch my car and the phone. I stood there singing.

I don't know how long I waited.

Eventually there were lights behind my car. CHP had arrived. I hurried, but didn't run, over to the cruiser. The guy rolled down the passenger window and a rush of warmth hit my face. I explained to him my problem. He got out and looked at my car. He told me to get in and he'd look to see if he could pull me out. After a couple of minutes, he walked up to my window, which I had already rolled down, and told me that I needed a tow truck. In my brain I said, "No shit you fuck-head. That's why I've been trying to get one for the past three hours." In the real world I said, "Okay." He said he'd call one from his car and told me to stay where I was and asked me if I knew that I'd be paying for the tow. I said I knew.

More waiting.

When the tow truck got there, the CHP headed off so he could turn around and slow traffic for the yanking. Once again, I explained the problem. The truck driver quoted me a price and asked if it was okay, and I said yes, I just wanted my car out so I could get moving.

He hooked his cable up to my car and had me start the car so I could steer as he pulled. Steering felt weird, like it wasn't doing any good. When the driver stopped, he came to my window and told me to let off the breaks, I said they were off and the car was in neutral. He gave the car another yank then stopped again, came to the window and said my tire was locked and I'd need to be towed. I got out and saw the trench my front tire had dug.

I gritted my teeth so I wouldn't start cursing and said it was okay. I climbed into the cab of his truck and fumed while he hoisted my car up onto its back tires.

Lucky for me, the driver also has a repair shop and he told me, as he pulled into a motel, that he'd call the next morning and let me know what was going on. I said okay and snagged my bag from my car.

I got my room and dropped off my stuff. It was after eight.

Across the street was McDonald's, so that's where I bought my dinner, which I took back to my room with me. Before eating, I called my parents to let them know what was going on and to ask them to come and get me the next day if the car couldn't be fixed that day. They said okay, so I ate and showered and watched the singing numbers in White Christmas and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up when a woman pounded on my door. She wanted to make sure I didn't need anything, she said, but really, she was the cleaning lady and wanted to do all the upstairs rooms first. I called the repair shop and spoke with the guy. He hadn't looked at the car yet. A bit later, he called me back and told me that my brake line had broken and was leaking fluid. He said that all the places he knew of to get me the part were closed and wouldn't open until after Christmas.

I called my parents and told them. My brother, and his girlfriend, had offered to come and get me. He'd leave at ten, I was told. I knew it took about two hours to do the travel, but really screwed up my math and assumed he'd get there at 1 PM, which was good because after I checked out and went to McDonald's to sit and wait, I wasn't worried when they wasn't there at 12:45. They got there a little after one.

We headed over to the repair shop. No one was there. I called the guy and he said he'd send his son, so I could get my house key and an estimate. I pulled out my spare car key and my brother and his girlfriend and I unloaded my crap into their rental car. Eventually the guy's son got there (All I could think when I saw him was that this is how a douche must look in human form.) and I got my keys and the estimate.

And we were off.

We got to my parents' house around 4:00 PM. I was only 24 hours late getting there.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


The explaining that I told Heels I'd do will not be done, today. We've started the stupid and pointless "project" I mentioned, but never described, today. During this "project" blogging will only happen if I write the night before at my apartment. The odds of that happening are very, very low.

I will try to get that explanation up, Heels, really.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tell Me

Why is Sweeney Todd playing here in two hours, but it doesn't appear to be up in Cowtown at all this week?

Son of a bitch.

Christmas Stories

I can't remember if I put these up last year, but they're back

Here's the first one:
Grinch's True End, first heard on 8 December 2003 on NPR, about 3 minutes long.
Best line: "Now I'm not sure what kind of inverted Stockholm Syndrom took place while I waited on the roof, but I do know it all could have been solved with a hard shove and a quick exit."

And here's the other:
A Fool for Christmas, first heard on 24 December 2005 on NPR about 23 minutes long.
Best Line: "Well, at the food court over fried dumplins and Butter-Bean, I'm askin' what I usually ask my dates: who kids real father is."

Anyone else have found audio stories like these?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Picture Meme!

I have nothing interesting to say here, so here's a meme I swiped from Jazz.

PS Click the pictures to see where they're from.

How old will you be on your next birthday?

Where would you like to visit?

What is your favorite place?

What are your favorite things?

What is your favorite food?

What is your favorite color?

What is your nickname?
I haven't had a nickname since Jr. High. Think of that what you will.

Where were you born?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Friday, we had a meeting to warn us that we're going to be doing here at work. We are going to be preparing our files to be scanned in. We were given some very basic instructions about how this prepping with be performed, but it didn't really cover any of the specifics to our files. The two people who were in charge of the meeting had only just had a teleconference that was with all the other branches in the state and, like all the big teleconferences this department holds, nothing was accomplished except for the roll call. Still, they wanted to give us a heads up and let us ask questions so they could get answers for us.

Today, we were e-mailed a revised edition of how we are going to be prepping the files. A couple of things were made clearer, but not much. SMSN, who is one of the two in charge for our office, sent it to we clerks and asked us for more questions for clarification. I, having completed my work and wanting to make sure I am well prepared to do lots of busy work, immediately read the steps, broke them down, and wrote as many questions as I could citing very specific problems with the process they've given us. I e-mailed it to all the clerks in our office, since we'll all be doing the prepping and I didn't SMSN to be bothered with the same questions over and over again. I was very careful not to mention scanning in my questions because no one in our office has actually seen the scanners we'll be using, although we've had them for six months, and no one has been trained on the procedures we'll be using to scan, we're just talking about getting the files cleaned up so scanning will, hopefully, go very smoothly.

Almost right away, I got an e-mail from GICS calling the whole prepping thing bullshit, which it is. I joked back and forth with him about it, but I tried to be, more or less, positive about the stupid things because we're going to have to do this, no matter what, and at least we're being given the opportunity to help bring some logic to the stupidity. Our last The Supervisor would have kept us all in the dark about the whole thing until she insisted we had to start working on it and then she would have gotten angry when we came to her with questions because, as with way too many jobs out there in the world, the people who want this stuff put into practice will not be trying their ideas out first, to see if their ideas actually work.

And then GICS sent an e-mail to SMSN, and CC'd the rest of us, calling the whole thing bullshit to her. He pointed out how crazy it is that we're prepping these things for machines that haven't been seen and a process that hasn't been created. He asked if she thought it was a good idea to prep the files before we actually know how things work.

SMSN wrote back that she thinks the process is pretty clear and got a little snarky with him.

Then she e-mailed me and asked if I had more questions or wanted things clarified.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

bored, bored, bored

I leave early today, but that doesn't stop the boring from creeping in. I held on to all the work I was giving yesterday until this morning. It didn't take long to finish. I wandered around the 'net just looking and nothing struck me.

What I really want to do is sit here and read my book, but I don't know if I could get away with that. It's not like high school where the teachers had thirty other students to watch and if one spent the whole hour reading a book, why should they care? Here, there are only a few of us and they expect us to be busy all the time, even though they know that we only get 2/3rds the work we got six months ago and a new person was hired in those last six months.

So, I try to look busy. I shuffle papers around at my desk. I keep a couple of files around. I get up and wander around (although that also helps with my sciatica crap). I type a letter to my parents. I poke around through comic archives. I roll around in my cubie area and grab my stapler as if I'm going to use it, bring the stapler back to my desk and ten minutes later I roll it back to its usual place. I cross off today on the calendar with the symbol I use to mark the short day. I eat a granola bar so I won't take the giant ibuprofen on an empty stomach. I listen to SHTK whine about stupid things and stupid people.

Still, I'm bored.

In my head I start thinking about the future. I start with the near future and the possibility of pizza for dinner. I move on to Friday and the drive to my parents' house and the brother, with his girlie friend, being there; the last time I saw him was a year ago and I've never met her. I wonder if JL and H, among others, will want to game. I skip to New Year's and think about how much I hate that holiday. Then I think farther wonder about people I may meet and places that I'll dream about visiting. I try to picture myself being visited by the spawn of my brothers, which is really hard, for reasons that I don't want to write about. I wander through the house that I'd like to own and I mow the lawn that I always wanted growing up and let much of the land go wild. I tend to an herb garden. I waltz with an old friend at her daughter's wedding. I fall asleep.

And now, along with bored, I'm a little sad, maybe more wistful.

I can't/don't picture what I used to think of as the perfect future for myself anymore. I suppose I don't believe in that movie happy ending.

Still, I'd like to live a day like that Lovin' Spoonful song "Rain of the Roof," just once.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Understanding? 2: Explaining

Remember the post I wrote with that article about changes in immigration policy in Denmark based off of the Muslim population?

Well, over the weekend, my Xanga repost got a reply, which I post in its entirety, unedited:
Your analysis obviously only depends on your feelings and not whether the article states defendible facts.

Your first response should have been check the facts of the article and having done that to analyse the facts. Only then can you decide whether the article is manipultive.

Look back in history and you will note the rise of many hateful and murderous totalitarian regimes. The first observes to warn the world of the potential horrors these regimes would visit on our world were labelled alarmist by people who where too lazy to check facts and prefered instead to slander the authors of the articles.

Having lived for extended periods in 4 Muslim countires and spent considerable time in a fifth, I can confirm simialr details as those noted in the article, Salute the Danish Flag - it's a Symbol of Western Freedom.

May I recount just one story for you? A friend of mine in the UAE awoke one morning to find the head of his 17 year old friend in the residential compound. His crime had been to question Islam as a result of a conversation my friend had had with him. His relatives, having beheaded him, had thrown the lad's head over the wall during the night.

Are all Muslims terrorists. Of course not. By stating one set of facts I am not stting anything more than one set of facts. Can I tell stories of great kindness I have seen displayed by Muslilms? Yes, many such stories. But I would have to say on balance that I cannot recall any of my friends finding the head of one of their friends in their garden except in the UAE. I do not know of any other culture that practises female circumcision other than Islamic ones. I do not know of any workers so poorly treated as those in the Gulf or Saudi, except perhaps in China or some other place you wouldn't want to work.

Please attempt next time to temper your views with facts before you allow your feelings to determine your response. If this challenge offends you then...go back and check the data before you reply. Then we can have a meaningful discussion.

Posted 12/15/2007 2:11 PM by Phillip Adams
He's not a regular Xanga user, so I couldn't check out his blog or find his opinions on other subject. I did learn, however, that his signal thing came Australia, so I assumed that he's from there.

I replied, unedited:
Phillip Adams -- I still think that the article in question is manipulative toward getting people to hating/fearing all Muslims while disguising it as an article about immigration policy. And that's what galls me. I don't like reading what I see as a manipulative piece geared toward hate that has been written as if it were an informational piece.

As I wrote earlier, a true article about immigration would have balanced itself by having information about non-Muslims immigrant groups and the problems they may, or may not, be having with integrating into the Danish culture and how the new laws (If there are new laws, since I did not go and check facts about them, that was not the intent of my post.) will effect EVERYONE who wants to immigrate to Denmark or has already immigrated there. No nation in Europe has the balls to ban just one group of people from moving into their country. (Unless they do it the sneaky way, like the US did in the late 19th early 20th centuries when they set policy to keep Italian and Irish immigrants out by making the legal numbers of immigrants allowed in be based on past numbers.) Therefore, any story about the change in immigration policy should be about all potential and existing immigrant groups, not just one very specific group.

(Pardon me if I repeated myself a few times in that last paragraph, but I thought it was necessary to get across that the purpose of my original post was not to defend the horrible things some people do or even to attack the woman who wrote this article, it was about me pointing out logical flaws and the lack of critical thinking among some people and how it frustrates me.)

As for the stuff about groups not integrating, it seems to me that every group that immigrates to the US has a tough time integrating and we, Americans, always have a problem with it. The Chinese with their braids and flat hats in the mid-19th century. Irish and Italians at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries with their Catholicism. Puerto Ricans in the 50s with their dark skin and Spanish. Vietnamese and Cambodian and other South Asian immigrants in the 70s and 80s with their slanted eyes and strange food. Russian and Ukrainian and other former Soviet Bloc immigrants in the 90s and 00s. And the Mexican and other people from Central American nations for decades. All new immigrants have a hard time integrating. At the best, when the groups that look like we do, they take only one or two generations to start to integrate with the culture. If the groups don't look like the average American (Which, lets face it, tends to be thought of as F*R*I*E*N*D*S creamy white.) they take longer because it's easier to feel like an outsider and hold on to the "old country" culture.

In the USA, all of these groups have also been accused of consuming the largest, or a large, portion of social services. Is it true? I don't know, I didn't, and haven't, looked up statistics. It sure is easy for it to feel true, though. It's a lot easier to point that person with dark skin or slanted eyes or a strange accent using government medical care or collecting food stamps or asking for workers' comp, isn't it?

How long have large quantities of Muslims been immigrating to "western" (AKA white) nations to live there, not just work? Fifteen or twenty years? So that's, what, like one generation born into that new culture? Time is what's needed for the integration to take place; until enough time has passed there will always be problems with shift from old to new. Crime goes up and hatred is spread. It's stupid and pointless and harmful to all those who want to just live their lives, but it has happened before and it's going to happen over and over again.

(Of course, being from Australia, there's never been a problem with the Aboriginal culture integrating into the European based culture, has there.)

The story you tell about what happened in the United Arab Emmirants is horrendous and I don't want you, or anyone else, to think that I would ever defend people for something like that; people should never be punished for asking questions, especially hard questions. I hate the thought that anyone anywhere could practice something like female genital mutilation. I can not and will not defend people who rape or mutilate or commit murder. Those people should be punished, no matter the color of that person's skin, the slant of that person's eyes, or the way that person prays. Terrible things are being done by some Muslims, I'd have to be insane to not see that, but I am not going to let those few scare me into hating everyone who follows the teachings and writings found in the Qur'an. If I do that, then the nasty people really have won.

Also from your story, I think I need to remind you that the UAE isn't Denmark. One has a, basically, hereditary "presidency" and was founded based on its interpretations of Islamic law and is still struggling with having elections. The other was a Christian monarchy that developed into a constitutional monarchy with a republic style parliament elected by popular vote by the people. I think, in a political context, comparing the UAE and Denmark is like comparing apples to spark plugs. Maybe one day it'll be more like comparing the apples to oranges or Fujis to Granny Smiths, but not until the UAE really moves toward true elections or Denmark's system crashes.

I won't pretend to be perfect or even necessarily right, Mr. Adams. I'm not a world traveler. I don't know what conditions are like in the Middle East, other than what I see on TV or read online or hear on the radio. I just want to believe that, for the most part, people are good and that they want peace and safety and love. (Yes, I know that's naive.)

As for "temper[ing my] views with facts before [I] allow [my] feelings to determine [my] response," I was practicing New Criticism, where a person uses the text as the source and finds the meaning (or meanings) by using what was and wasn't written in the actual text. That's why, in my original entry, I didn't get into the history of Denmark or go online to find sources about the crime rates of other immigrant groups in Denmark or even find out if the policy changes actually exist.

Being challenged does not offend me. If everyone out there thought and felt as I did, this would be a dull world. My thoughts and feelings should be challenged because I like to understand why I think and feel the way I do so I can better understand myself and my (basically) insignificant place in the world.

And I don't know what sort of data you wanted me to check before responding, since my only sources, originally, were the article and the e-mails between me and my co-worker and nothing else.

I'm going to use you're comment and my response as a blog post, just to let you know.
I still don't know if my response was good, as in well written or well argued, but I do think that the intent of the original post was more about how critical thinking is, or isn't, used out there when people read things meant to play on people's fears, and not about whether Denmark's new policies may be good or some Muslims have done and continue to do horrible things. (I also think that there are some Christians and Hindus and Buddhists and Taoists who use their religions to justify doing horrible things, too.)

Of course, talking about anything that mentions religion is like talking about abortion, people can rarely see beyond their gut reaction, even me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Tired. (Dunno why. Slept well last night.)

Angry. (Because here at work someone's personal call, on a cell phone, at his desk, about the baby's laundry, is more important than trying to sort out rules that aren't too clear.)

Sore. (Scroll down to yesterday's post.)

Didn't read all my comics last night. (Watched Batman Beyond for longer than I intended.) Wonder why Booster Gold lets Barbara Gordon get shot. (Does he change history and find it to be not better?)

Did read the end of "The Sinestro Corp War." (The prophecy is interesting. Think that Kanjar Ro will lead the Orange Lanterns, when they come about.)

Other stuff read doesn't stick in my mind too well. (Although I do remember enough of one to know that Ice and Fire are soul mates, which doesn't mean they are, or even should be, lovers.)

Rude Cactus realized he is not a realist and asked what people do to get through. (No answer from me. Not sure what I do, or why I do, but I do.)

Still have to find Christmas gifts for parents. (Do coupons for hugs and kisses still work when you're nearing 30?)

Not sure if I'm going to buy any gifts for some friends this year. (Just don't really feel like shopping for and thinking about others, I guess. What does that make me? Anything at all?)

Be on my way to Cowtown for Christmas in about 188 hours. (Not planning on hurting my then.)

Done. (The End.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pain in the Leg

Let me ask, how many of you have had a pinched sciatica?

Raise your hands. Don't be shy.

Well, since I can't see through your monitor, dear reader, I have no idea who of you has experienced the agony of a pinched sciatica.

Remember back before Thanksgiving when I wrote about a twinge in my back? After I got back here from Thanksgiving, it felt better. No pain at all.

On Thursday, as I was walking to work, my low back and my right leg suddenly burned and I couldn't walk any more. I stopped right where I was and stood there swearing under my breath. I hobbled over to the nearest bench and sat down for a minute, happy to know that the pain was gone. I sat for a minute, or two... or five... before I finally felt like I could stand up, which, ouch, and walk again. I hobbled the rest of the way to work, each step causing pain down the outside of my leg, from hip to heel. When I got to my desk and sat I felt better, but each time I got up, it hurt.

Friday, it still hurt, but I got up, showered, and walked to work, with a quick stop for sitting in the park, this time planned for. Still I hurt standing and walking, but not so much sitting. After work, I went to the movies (I saw The Golden Compass. It was pretty good. It sucks that they give away the mysteries in a prologue, I wish they had gone with the ending in the book, and I thought there were scenes that needed more space to breath, but Sam Elliot was wonderful and so was the bear and the bear fight was brutal. There's a moment, during the bear fight, where the audience was stunned into silence.) but had real trouble getting back to my apartment. I sat on the steps of the church near where I live and think I saw a drug deal go down.

(Although, it could just be my imagination. But I saw a car get parked near the church, the guy got off and walked away. A couple of minutes later, a car pulled up in front of the steps I was sitting on and a guy got out and the car left. This new guy walked over to the car that had just been parked and groped around on the ground near the driver side front tire. When he found something, he opened the door, started the car, and drove off. Weird, no?)

On Saturday, I had trouble sitting as well as walking. So, I spent most of the day laying down in front of the TV.

Sunday, I climbed into the shower and had a real hard time getting through it. I did, eventually, and headed out to do my laundry. I hurt, hurt, hurt all through the laundry. I didn't stay to fold; I pulled the clothes out of the dryer and headed out, to the grocery store. At the store, I leaned on the shopping cart as if it were a walker. When I got back to my apartment, I only made two trips. I made damn sure I wouldn't take anymore than two trips. Between trip, I collapsed on the floor, gasping for breath and cursing up a storm in my mind. It was around 10:30 AM when I finished putting the stuff that needed to be in the fridge in, the rest sat (and sits) in bags on the floor of the kitchen. I settled down on the floor, on my left side, and turned on the TV. I was there for an hour, with slight variation in how I lay there. By noon, the pain was so intense, I finally got the phone to set up an appointment with anyone. After getting the run around, I was told that I was put on a list and I'd be called back to set up an appointment. Someone finally called me around 3:30. I got an appointment for nine the next morning.

The next morning, my leg screaming in pain, I called into work to let them know I wouldn't be there right away, that I had to go to the doctor's. I almost didn't make it through the shower that morning, but I did and I eventually made it down to my car and into the seat. The drive there was HORRIBLE. Agonizing pain burning in my ankle, shooting right below my knee, and throbbing below my hip. Sweat beaded on my forehead. I made it to the medical center, although I can't tell you how, ten minutes before my appointment. Then I had to search for the office. I couldn't see my usual doctor because she's on vacation. I found it pretty quickly, but there was a line of eight people. I stood there, in pain, through one person and my stomach started churning and I started sweating more. I broke out of line in search of the nearest toilette. I barged, as well as I could, through the door and to the first stall I saw and heaved. Nothing came up, and I heaved again. Still, nothing. I heaved two or three more times before I finally thought about taking off my glasses so they wouldn't fall into the public water. I sat there for a little while just breathing.

Eventually, I got up and, shivering, headed back to the check in place. There were more people in line and the lady I was behind the last time was two from the counter. I pulled the line to the chairs along the wall so I could sit as I waited and waited and waited. Finally, at the counter, the lady informed me that I was late and asked if it was the line or was I really late and then she told me she had to call to make sure they would still see me. They did. I explained my problem and, really without even thinking, the doctor announced sciatica problems. Hooray! He prescribed me 800MG of ibuprofen. Hooray! I took the pill, hopped in my car and painfully drove back to my apartment.

When I got on the floor, I felt better. Not just better because I was on the floor, but better than I'd felt since Thursday. The ibuprofen was working! In time, I got to the phone and called in to say I wasn't gonna be there that day and explained the problem.

Yesterday, I woke up, took my pills, and went to the shower. After washing my legs, I fell to my knees in pain and decided I wasn't going to work, again. I finished up, called in, and turned on the TV. (I was on the last season of Angel.) The day was long, long, long. I did get to call my brother and wish him a happy birthday and chat for a while. That was really great. The rest of the day was very dull with the TV and the occasional pill and the pain and the trying to walk or sit through the pain before settling on my back, again.

Today, I just forced myself to come to work. I still hurt pretty bad, but it's not as bad as it's been. I took the huge pill and when I started hurting a lot again, I popped some fake Tylenol. I'm finishing this on my knees in front of the computer. I really look forward to getting back to my apartment.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Fiction Friday #23


Shani was up front, out in the lobby, talking to her friend, what's-her-name, again. I sat watching her and her friend talk, tapping the first button on my waist when the phone rang, "Russo, Taggart, Godwin & Rose, how can I help you?" I looked at the bottle the bottle of orange juice. It wasn't dripping anymore. I doubted it was even cold.

"Uhh, yeah," said some guys voice, "I want to talk to my lawyer."

Shani and her friend were laughing.

"And you attorney is?" I asked, rolling my eyes at Shani.

"It's Ed, darlin'," he said. "My lawyer's Ed."

Shani put her hand on her friend's arm and leaned.

"Sir, we have three attorneys here who could be called 'Ed,' can you give me a last name?" I hoped that I wasn't starting to sound irritated, but to me, my voice sounded high and pinched.

"I can't remember. Do you think you can read me their names?"

I tapped the first button to turn him off and sighed before I pressed it again and said, "Klein. Harstead. Wallace."

"No," said the guy. I pictured him in ratty red flannel over a greased up t-shirt and missing teeth grimacing and slowly shaking his head from side to side. "I don't think any of those are my lawyer, honey. Got anymore?"

Shani finished up with her friend and turned toward me. She upped her smile from genuine happy to beaming when her eyes met mine. She wanted something.

"Those are the only attorneys we have here who go by 'Ed,' sir. Maybe if I got your name?"

Shani stopped in front of my desk and leaned in. Her friend hadn't left the lobby, yet.

I cycled through the computer so I could enter the guys name.

"Joey," said the voice on the phone, "Joey Cal. What's yours?"

"Hold on,"I said, "let me check." I pressed the first button, looked up into Shani's broad smile and vacant eyes, and said, "Yeah?"

I typed his name and Shani said, "Look, I know I just got back from my break and all, and I'm sort of..." -- Her smile widened and she winked. -- "But, well, I was sort of wondering--" I cut her off with a raise of my hand. I knew what she wanted.

I hit the first button again, "Mr. Cal, we don't have you in our system. Are you sure your calling the right office?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. I was just in court with Ed yesterday."

"And it was about?"

"That hit and run thing they're blaming me for," he whispered.

Shani turned away from me and sort of waggled her head at her friend. The phone rang.

"I think you want the Public Defender's office."

"Isn't--" he said as the phone rang again, I pressed the first button and then the second one and said, "Russo, Taggart, Godwin & Rose, please hold."

"I will no--" I heard as I hit the second and then the first.


"I'm afraid not. You've dialed 578-1683, but the Public Defender's office is 575-1683."

"Oh," he said.

Shani turned toward me and moved her hands in the "hurry up" motion.

"Lots of people make that mistake. It's okay."

"Darlin', what was that number again?" he asked.

I told him and he thanked me. After I said good-bye to him, Shani said, "Look, Cleo's here and I wanted to--"

I cut her off with my hand again and glared as tapped the second button and I said, "Thank you for holding, how can I help you."

And guy on the end of this line started swearing at me. It was almost musical, the way he did it. It reminded me of the way that Ludacris or 50 Cent got when they were on a role, all the normal curse words peppered with careful helpings of misogyny. He'd make millions.

"Sir," I said, trying to get anything in when he took a breath, "I can help you, now."

He kept going. Shani leaned over and frowned at me. I rolled my eyes at her.

"Sir, please call back when you're calmer," I said and hung up.

"Finally," said Shani.

I stood up, pulled off my headset, and unclipped the button box from my pants pocket.

"Where are you going?" She asked.

I picked up my orange juice and said, "On my break?"

"But..." she said.

The phone rang.

"Better get that," I said, waving to what's-her-name as I slipped out the front door.

At the bus bench on the corner, I opened the juice and took a long drink. It was warm and it was sour, but it was perfect.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I got this e-mail this morning from a co-worker, it's title is "Salute the Danish Flag (Worth Reading)":

Very interesting - worth the reading.

An interesting article on Islamic immigration and the problems created.

Salute the Danish Flag - it's a Symbol of Western Freedom
By Susan MacAllenIn 1978-9 I was living and studying in Denmark.

But in 1978 - even in Copenhagen, one didn't see Muslim immigrants. The Danish population embraced visitors, celebrated the exotic, went out of its way to protect each of its citizens.

It was proud of its new brand of socialist liberalism - one in development since the conservatives had lost power in 1929 - a system where no worker had to struggle to survive, where one ultimately could count upon the state as in, perhaps, no other western nation at the time. The rest of Europe saw the Scandinavians as free-thinking, progressive and infinitely generous in their welfare policies. Denmark boasted low crime rates, devotion to the environment, a superior educational system and a history of humanitarianism.

Denmark was also most generous in its immigration policies – it offered the best welcome in Europe to the new immigrant: generous welfare payments from first arrival plus additional perks in transportation, housing and education. It was determined to set a world example for inclusiveness and multiculturalism. How could it have predicted that one day in 2005 a series of political cartoons in a newspaper would spark violence that would leave dozens dead in the streets - all because its commitment to multiculturalism would come back to bite?

By the 1990's the growing urban Muslim population was obvious – and its unwillingness to integrate into Danish society was obvious. Years of immigrants had settled into Muslim-exclusive enclaves. As the Muslim leadership became more vocal about what they considered the decadence of Denmark's liberal way of life, the Danes - once so welcoming - began to feel slighted. Many Danes had begun to see Islam as incompatible with their long-standing values: belief in personal liberty and free speech, in equality for women, in tolerance for other ethnic groups, and a deep pride in Danish heritage and history.

The New York Post in 2002 ran an article by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard, in which they forecasted accurately that the growing immigrant problem in Denmark would explode. In the article they reported:

"Muslim immigrants constitute 5 percent of the population but consume upwards of 40 percent of the welfare spending."

"Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists, an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims are non-Muslim. Similar, if lesser, disproportions are found in other crimes."

"Over time, as Muslim immigrants increase in numbers, they wish less to mix with the indigenous population. A recent survey finds that only 5 percent of young Muslim immigrants would readily marry a Dane."

"Forced marriages - promising a newborn daughter in Denmark to a male cousin in the home country, then compelling her to marry him, sometimes on pain of death - are one problem."

"Muslim leaders openly declare their goal of introducing Islamic law once Denmark's Muslim population grows large enough – a not-that-remote prospect. If present trends persist, one sociologist estimates, every third inhabitant of Denmark in 40 years will be Muslim."

It is easy to understand why a growing number of Danes would feel that Muslim immigrants show little respect for Danish values and laws. An example is the phenomenon common to other European countries and the U.S.: some Muslims in Denmark who opted to leave the Muslim faith have been murdered in the name of I slam, while others hide in fear for their lives.

Jews are also threatened and harassed openly by Muslim leaders in Denmark, a country where once Christian citizens worked to smuggle out nearly all of their 7,000 Jews by night to Sweden – before the Nazis could invade. I think of my Danish friend Elsa - who as a teenager had dreaded crossing the street to the bakery every morning under the eyes of occupying Nazi soldiers - and I wonder what she would say today.

In 2001, Denmark elected the most conservative government in some 70 years - one that had some decidedly non-generous ideas about liberal unfettered immigration. Today Denmark has the strictest immigration policies in Europe. ( Its effort to protect itself has been met with accusations of "racism" by liberal media across Europe - even as other governments struggle to right the social problems wrought by years of too-lax immigration.) If you wish to become Danish, you must attend three years of language classes. You must pass a test on Denmark's history, culture, and a Danish language test . You must live in Denmark for 7 years before applying for citizenship. You must demonstrate an intent to work, and have a job waiting. If you wish to bring a spouse into Denmark, you must both be over 24 years of age, and you won't find it so easy anymore to move your friends and family to Denmark with you. You will not be allowed to build a mosque in Copenhagen. Although your children have a choice of some 30 Arabic culture and language schools in Denmark, they will be strongly encouraged to assimilate to Danish society in ways that past immigrants weren't.

In 2006, the Danish minister for employment, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, spoke publicly of the burden of Muslim immigrants on the Danish welfare system, and it was horrifying: the government's welfare committee had calculated that if immigration from Third World countries were blocked, 75 percent of the cuts needed to sustain the huge welfare system in coming decades would be unnecessary. In other words, the welfare system as it existed was being exploited by immigrants to the point of eventually bankrupting the government. "We are simply forced to adopt a new policy on immigration. The calculations of the welfare committee are terrifying and show how unsuccessful the integration of immigrants has been up to now," he said.

A large thorn in the side of Denmark's imams is the Minister of Immigration and Integration, Rikke Hvilshoj. She makes no bones about the new policy toward immigration, "The number of foreigners coming to the country makes a difference," she¸ says, "There is an inverse correlation between how many come here and how well we can receive the foreigners that come." And on Muslim immigrants needing to demonstrate a willingness to blend in, "In my view, Denmark should be a country with room for different cultures and religions. Some values, however, are more important than others. We refuse to question democracy, equal rights, and freedom of speech."

Hvilshoj has paid a price for her show of backbone. Perhaps to test her resolve, the leading radical imam in Denmark, Ahm ed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, demanded that the government pay blood money to the family of a Muslim who was murdered in a suburb of Copenhagen, stating that the family's thirst for revenge could be thwarted or money. When Hvilshoj dismissed his demand, he argued that in Muslim culture thepayment of retribution money was common, to which Hvilshoj replied that what is done in a Muslim country is not necessarily what is done in Denmark. The Muslim reply came soon after: her house was torched while she, her husband and children slept. All managed to escape unharmed, but she and her family were moved to a secret location and she and other ministers were assigned bodyguards for the first time - in a country where such murderous violence was once so scarce.

Her government has slid to the right, and her borders have tightened. Many believe that what happens in the next decade will determine whether Denmark survives as a bastion of good living, humane thinking and social responsibility, or whether it becomes a nation at civil war with supporters of Sharia law. And meanwhile, Americans clamor for stricter immigration policies, and demand an end to state welfare programs that allow many immigrants to live on the public dole. As we in America look at the enclaves of Muslims amongst us, and see those who enter our shores too easily, dare live on our taxes, yet refuse to embrace our culture, respect our traditions, participate in our legal system, obey our laws, speak our language, appreciate our history . . we would do well to look to Denmark, and say a prayer for her future and for our own.

This is how it looked when I got it, with all that bolding and highlighting.

After I read it, I was unhappy because it seemed totally wrong to me (still does) and the woman who forwarded it to me has forwarded similar things to me in the past.

I wrote her:
Please stop forwarding me e-mails that are meant to scare me into hating a certain group of people.
She wrote back:
I am not sure that was the point of the article. I had the impression that it was geared more towards the need for tighter immigration controls. But, every one gets a different ‘take’ on everything. So I apologize if I’ve offended you, and will try not to let this happen again.
Then I tried to let it go. I know that people get different things out of what they read. I was and English major, after all. I sat and stewed because I thought that she was being blind to the whole thing. I wrote her again:
I wasn’t offended. It takes a lot to offend me. I’m just tired of things reading things that pretend to be a news item reporting about one thing, but is really trying to show how certain groups of people in this world are scary and bad.

The reason I read this "article" as being against a group of people rather about immigration policy is because it focus only on one group of immigrants. I find it hard to believe that only one group of people have immigrated into Denmark or that only that one group isn’t integrating well. I think that if this "article" had really been about immigration policy it would have talked about many different immigrant groups or just focused on the tighter controls that are being put in place.

Maybe it’s just me, though.
Then she wrote an e-mail to all the people she forwarded the original thing to:
A couple of you found this email offensive, and I apologize. I want you all to know that it in no way reflected any personal opinion of mine, and that I understand how some may think of it as racially hateful. Again, I apologize, and will be more careful of controversial content in the future.
Shortly, there was one for me:
Yes, it was biased. Good point.
And that's where it ended. With me and her, at least.

The thing is, I really don't want to believe that there are people who could possible take something like this. Logically, I know that many people would take it at face value, but I don't want it to be like that. I want them to look for the subtle and not so subtle ways they are being manipulated to fear and hate a group of people. I want them to pay attention and think.

They won't, though. That's what scares me.

Also, I don't like the way she wrote "I want you all to know that it in no way reflected any personal opinion of mine, and that I understand how some may think of it as racially hateful." I don't like it because then I don't understand why she sent it. She doesn't randomly forward every bit of crap she gets because sometimes her list is close to forty people and this one was only five people. So, if it doesn't reflect her opinion, why send it?

The world confuses me a little more each day.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

From My MySpace Blog

It's been a long time since such a thing has crossed my path. The stuff in the blockquotes came as a bulletin titled "I had this girl".
I'm the girl who will put her head on your shoulder, not because I'm sleepy, but because I want to be closer to you...
And because you're warm and I'm cold and you really should have noticed on your own and given me your sweatshirt so I wouldn't be so cold anymore.
I'm the girl who likes to be kissed in the rain, more than in an expensive resturant...
Because in the restaurant I'll be eating only a tiny bit of the food I ordered so you don't think I'm a pig and I also won't feel guilty for ordering the most expensive thing. Sure, I'll take the foil swan of leftovers home, but if you don't eat it, I'll just "forget" about it.
I'm the girl who says, "Okay, but you owe me..." jokingly. Not because I actually want something, but because it means I get to spend more time with you and I care...
Also, you fucking owe me and I'll be sure to remind you of how I've never made you pay me back for it every single time I want something from you.
I'm the girl you can take absolutely anywhere and I will have fun because it means I am spending time with you...
Except, I don't want to go most of the places you want to go, so we'll be going to the places I want to go. And if you think it's unfair or your not having fun or your whining, I'll remind you of that time I told you that you owe me, but I never called you on it, even though I could have so many times before.
I'm the girl who is incredibly picky, but when I find someone I like I want to spend the whole night curled up in their arms...
And I promise that some of those nights, you'll be that someone.
I'm the girl who never forgets all the sweet little things you do for me...
But I won't ever bring them up. And if you ever thing of talking about them to me, I'll start talking about all the times you screwed up, and, trust me, there are more screw ups than sweet little things.
I'm the girl who once I let you into my heart, there's always a place there with your name on it. And even if we spend time apart, I'm the girl who never forgets you..
And I'll remind every single guy I'm with after you of just how great you were and how they just can't compare in the slightest. That way, they'll come to resent you more than me. :)
I'm the girl who loves to end a hug with a kiss..
It's a great way to distract you and if I get a little grabby, even better.
I'm the girl who you can talk to about anything..
And the next time I go out with my friends, they'll hear all about it.
I'm the girl who laughs at your jokes...
Even though their not funny, that way you won't ever notice how unsure I am about where this relationship is going and if I want to stick around and who's going to end it first because I don't want to be the bitch in this situation.
I'm the girl who will brag about you to all of my friends...
Especially when we get into a who-has-the-worst-guy-a-thon.
I'm the girl who will always listen to you talk...
Well, I'll pretend to listen. In my head I'm really listing the things I need to get ready for tomorrow and trying to figure out who I want to go out with this weekend.
I'm the girl who loves it when you hug me for no apparent reason...
I'll let you know when it is not okay to hug me for no apparent reason, but if you don't know on your own when it is okay, then we may have a problem.
I'm the girl who loves it when you hug me from behind
Except when you get grabby and I'm not in the mood or there isn't anyone around that we can make jealous.
or kiss me on the forehead...
Just like Daddy does.
I'm the girl who loves the feeling when you take me by the hand without saying a word...
Unless it's at the wrong time, but I won't tell you that you were wrong until a few days later when I can really get things off my chest.
I'm the girl who loves you and accepts you for you, and doesn't care what other people say...
Except, of course, for the things you do that I don't like you doing. As long as you're a good boy, though, and change for me in the ways my friends suggest, I don't care what other people say and I'll love you for who I want you to be.
SWEET HEARTED GIRLS : If you are this girl repost this saying "I'm the girl"

DUDES: If you want this girl repost "I want this Girl"

LUCKY GUYS: repost "I have this girl"

UNLUCKY GUYS: repost "I had this girl"
HORRIBLE HARPIES: If you think guys should want real women repost this saying "Get a Fucking Life, Assholes"

REGULAR GUYS: repost "I Just Want to Get Laid"

In Response To...

For some reason, I can't bring myself to post this as a comment on her blog, but after seeing her latest post I couldn't help but wonder:

Anyone else want some milk?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Spatters on a Window

I leave work early today and may, if I can get the note thingy, be doing this every Tuesday for the next 12-16 weeks. Although with Christmas and New Year's Day landing on a Tuesday this year, one or two of those days may be on Wednesday instead.

In other news, there's not much to write.

The weather is drizzly. It looks more like fog than clouds, but it's clouds. And the temperature is warmer than it was last week.

Not one of the clerks has gone to lunch yet. Does that mean that from 1:00 to 1:30 there won't be anyone in the front office?

I've fallen way behind on e-mails. Not that I have many e-mails, ever. Still, some have sat there more than a month waiting for a response. I'm tired of trying to find new ways of saying that what I'm doing hasn't changed/isn't changing to the same people over and over. It's not fair to them because it probably comes out sounding like whining when it's just the truth and shouldn't be read with any sort of emotion behind it.

Inspiration. I don't understand it. If a person feels inspired, shouldn't that person want to create right away? Why then do so many people claim they feel inspired by something, but don't create anything?

I read through the most recent issue of Madman last night. It's a really good, really odd comic book. It made me wish I could draw.

Monday, December 03, 2007

News to Report!

Well, no, not really.

When I went to Wal*Mart on Sunday, I didn't buy the thing I went there for. I don't remember my reasoning, either. I bought the other things I needed. (And I actually stayed away from the DVDs, so I only bought stuff that I actually needed to keep the apartment in its semi-clean status and to keep my car running, instead of something that I'd just really like to have, but don't necessarily even want.)

I wish I could remember why.

It wasn't expensive, either. Just $30-$40 and I was expecting to spend more than $50.


I mailed off my dad's birthday present today. It's very, very and a half late. His birthday was in September. I forgot it at Thanksgiving, but it's on its way now, that's good.

My brother birthday present was sent today, too. His birthday is in a week, but I probably would have forgotten to send it on time, like our mom will, and the I'd have to make sure to remember to get it and his Christmas present and his girlfriend/fiancée's Christmas present to our parents so they can get everything to them during the week after. Now I have one less thing to remember.

Do you want to know the worst thing about the "holiday season"?
Twice, in just over four weeks, I have to come back here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fiction Friday #22

NaNoWriMo Part 5

Well, this is it for the NaNoWriMo thing as an actual NaNoWriMo thing. I failed even more spectacularly this year than last year, but that's okay; I knew it would happen like that. I'll probably come back to this at some point, but there are other bits of fiction I want to write more/first.

Here goes, it's the beginning of a chapter or section called:


One of the things that Tyler hated were malls. Either they're freshly cleaned and smell of disinfectant or they haven't been cleaned for a while and they stink like too many monkeys in a cage. Some people believed that they were for convenient shopping, but how could that be when there are eight stores, with different names, that sell the exact same clothes and three stores that sold games and all the so called music stores sold the same fifteen new albums and displayed DVD, not CDs, in the windows?

There was no variety at any mall, anywhere.

Tyler saw them only as locations built for too large parking lots where people could go inside and still convince themselves that they were going "out." They weren't out, though. "Out" was someplace more interesting than Forever 21 or Pottery Bar. "Out" was some activity that wasn't all about money. "Out" was some food that wasn't timed by a machine so it was exactly the same as all the other hundreds of convenient locations. "Out" was people talking about more than the thing in the window or what's on sale or what's new or the slowness of the escalator. Most people rarely, if ever, did "out."

And yet, here he was sitting in the food court on the second floor, sucking on a frozen coffee-like drink, in a mall. At least it was the open mall on K Street, so it didn't carry the stink of too many people crammed into too small a place trying to spend money as quickly as they were sweating. Not that he was comfortable there, but the gas heat lamps really kept the chill out of the air.

"Durden!" he heard and looked around him. No one. It had to be for him, though. No one had a nickname as stupid as this one.

"Durden!" he heard again, but still didn't see anyone.

"Down here, fucker!"

Tyler looked down into the kids’ play-pit and saw Krystia. She'd cut her hair short and dyed it some sort of fiery orange since the day before, but she was the only person he knew who would call anyone a fucker in public where little kids were in earshot. Most of his friends would only do that in front of their own kids, but leave the rest of the world's kids to be tormented by their own parents. Krystia never had that problem. She figured that the world was fucked up as it was, so who was she to pretend it wasn't? That was one of the things that Tyler liked best about her. Well, that and how every so often she came over to his place, licked his entire body, and rode him until they both burned off a Thanksgiving dinner, but didn't want anything crazy in return.

He stood up and said, "I'll be right down."

"Hurry up," she said, "or I may have to fuck one of these giant plastic animals! The rhino's horn's getting me hot!"

Tyler hurried, but didn't run, to the nearest way down, real stairs. He could hear Krystia screaming the Sex Pistols's "God Save the Queen" behind him. He smiled. She was always doing shit like this. Some days she got a crowd that thought she was doing some sort of performance art and started tossing money at her feet. Once she stood on a corner outside of Kaiser singing the word "bullshit" to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for an hour; she made fifty bucks. Most of the time, though, people just walked a wide path around her. She'd never been arrested for any of it, though. I guess people figured that she was like the homeless guy down the block by The Crest Theater, only she was cleaner, was supposed to have breasts, and was white; those sorts of things always made people more comfortable.

He got to her just as she, with her eyes closed, was screaming, "NO FUTURE FOR YOU! NO FUTURE FOR ME! NO FUTURE! NO FUTURE FOR YOU!"

When she finished, he put his hand on her shoulder. She spun around and took up her generic Bruce Lee stance.

"You want to watch out, little Durden," she said. "I can, very much, kick your ass onto the rhino's horn." He looked at her and raised an eyebrow. She smiled her overly toothy smile and asked, "So, what the fuck am I doing here?"

He led her away from the kids' play pit and said, "Well, you saw what my dad did?"

"Who hasn't? How often do you get to see the fuckin' president have a breakdown? Hell, he's crazier than Regan and Thatcher combine."

"He is."


"That's all, really."

"Bullshit," she said, poking his arm. "I call bullshit on you!"


"You want something." She hit him where she had been poking him.

"Yeah, okay, I do." He tried to fight her off, but it was hard with the drink in his hand.

"What" -- punch! -- "do" -- punch! -- "you" -- punch! punch! -- "want?"

"Help." Tyler backed away from her.

"With what?"


"Fuck," she said, and kicked him in the shin.

The things he would put up with to keep his friend with benefits thing going.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Non-Holy Holiday

Thanksgiving was really pretty great this year.

It was at my parents' house, which isn't quite set up for parties, since a third of the square footage is downstairs, and things can get crowded quickly. My mom's parents were there and her brother and two of his kids (nine and six). Neither of my brothers were there. (One's in Peru, and that's quite a trip to make for a weekend.) My mom also invited Johnny Logic and Heels and their son (two) over, since their family Thanksgiving was on Friday.

There was noshing and talking and card playing and Guess Who playing and watching the two-year old play with the cats' water dish and probably other things that I've forgotten. (The dish is a big glass thing with marbles and water in it. Hell, here's a picture of him playing. The towel wasn't there when he started.)

At one point, Heels mentioned the notion of a possibility of a job where she works. In fact, it'd sort of be as assistant to her, which would probably change the whole tone of this blog ("You know, that Heels is the greatest boss in the world. She's so smart and beautiful. I'm surprised that she doesn't run the place. She should. She just so damn good. Everyone pales in comparison to her. And the way she treats her subordinates is spectacular. I've never seen anyone go out of their way to make people feel so useful and needed in a company.") because she reads this stuff when her Bloglines gets pinged. Still, if it actually comes up, I actually have stuff that could be put into a portfolio. I'm happy to know that there's a notion of a possibility of a job that could actually put some of my schooling to use.

Friday was a slow day. I did a lot of laundry.

Saturday was spent at Costco and my grandparents' (my dad's parents) house and a restaurant. We pre-celebrated my grandma's and uncle's birthday, which was actually yesterday.

I spent Sunday in a bad mood and left a hour later than I wanted to.

Then I got here and put stuff away and slept.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Dear Mrs. Le Guin,

A long time ago, I first read your Earthsea trilogy. I was young when I read it through the first time, fourth grade (nineteen years ago, now). I remember finding the boxed set at a library book sale earlier in the year and they reminded me of the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia I got for Christmas a month or so before, and they looked to be about the same size as the Narnia books; I still wasn't ready for four and five hundred page books back then. I figured when I was done with Narnia, I'd start a new set of fantasy books and they'd be yours.

With Narnia finished, a few weeks later, I eagerly started in on A Wizard of Earthsea. I was confused. There was some stuff going on in there, Ged getting his true name and learning the true names of things, but it was so dense. The Narnia books were pretty straight forward; I knew who was bad, who was good, and the heroes started in a weaker position and worked hard to defeat the evil. Earthsea wasn't so easy; Ged was the hero, but he made some big mistakes and the bad people he faced weren't necessarily evil, just people; and he may have been growing up in that first book, but the story of his life didn't always work in an A to B to C way, rather it bounced from one moment to another to another with Ged as the only real connection, until he moved to Roke.

By the time I finished the trilogy, I was baffled. I found some interesting things in the books, but there was so much more that I didn't understand. So, I put the set on my small bookshelf next to Narnia, but whenever I looked at them the Narnia set made me happy and your set made me feel confused and frustrated.

I moved on to other books. Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, in fifth grade, opened me up to science fiction. I remember going through science fiction books at the store and the library and seeing your name on novels that seemed to be science fiction rather than fantasy. Some looked interesting, but there was always something nagging in my head, reminding me of how hard a time I had reading Earthsea, so I passed them by for newer authors or names I recognized, or back to some fantasy setting.

In high school, around my sophomore year I think, I had some friends who had just read Earthsea and kept talking about how wonderful it was. I listened to the conversations, but I didn't join in because I could only remember feeling frustrated with them. The books got passed around and more people started talking about them, so I pulled out my old set and read them again.

Reading them was easier that time. The story was more clear. Characters seemed more real. Life on the islands was complicated and interesting. When I finished the first book, this time I understood that Ged was his own enemy. In the second book, I understood that the girl in the tomb had to free her mind before she could free herself and Ged from the tomb. And I watched all of Earthsea come together in the third book. I enjoyed the books that time. I saw what my friends had seen.

Still, when I went to a bookstore and saw your name on a science fiction novel, I wouldn't pick any up. In the back of my mind my worry voice would still remind me of the trouble I'd had with Earthsea the first time around and I really didn't want to go through that again.

In college, though, I took an English class that focused on science fiction and we were assigned The Left Hand of Darkness. Scheduling conflicts made me drop the class, but eventually I read everything on the syllabus, including your book. I read it and only felt like I understood part of it. I enjoyed trying to understand the people of Gethen along with Genly, but wondered if I was missing something because the book felt deeper than that. Maybe I just needed to discuss the book with someone to work out exactly what was happening in the background of the story of the potential war and how it was interacting with the main plot. Some times I still think that way because I never have discussed the book with anyone.

After reading it, I didn't go run and pick up anything else you wrote.

Well, not for a while, at least.

Last year, at the supermarket, I picked up the collection The Birthday of the World for only $2.99. I figured, what the hell?

I didn't start reading it until last week.

I finished it on Sunday night.

After reading the last page in the story "Paradises Lost," I knew I had to find more from you. "Paradise Lost" was especially amazing. Thank you.

Yesterday, I bought The Word for World is Forest. I started it this morning. I can't wait to really delve into it.

I wanted you to know that.

Also, I felt like apologizing for waiting so long. I made a mistake listening to that voice in my head for so long. I think it's gone now, or it has started to sing a different tune.

Thanks for all the writing,

A New Fan

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fiction Friday #21

NaNoWriMo Part 4

Didn't get much done this week and what was done is sort of muddled, incomplete sentences and all.

Hell, on the other hand, was what her pre-flight pit stop was supposed to take care of. She got air sick. Not the simple air sick of the movies where a person vomits once into a bag and goes on with the flight, no, she got air sick like most people got sea sick. She started getting queasy when she felt the engines start up. By the time they were barely off the ground, she'd thrown up at least once.


TV Time

Click --

"The nation is stunned this morning after a shocking speech given by the president yesterday afternoon in which he blamed the people of America for the problems he's been experiencing as president. We go live to Breanne Vanhoose who's in Washington now. Breanne?"

"I'm standing across from the White House on one of the most famous streets in America. But instead of the majestic mansion that's stood for hundreds of years, you'll see only protesters. They're here to voice their anger with the president and the words he spoke yesterday.

"I spoke with a few of the protesters earlier and asked if they knew that the President had gone home for the holiday and all said it didn't matter, they'd be here every day until he came back after the new --"

Click --

"-- the most brilliant thing he's done since he was elected. He's energized the base like no person since Martin Luther King Junior. They're all talking about what he said. They all have an opinion. They all --"

Click --

"-- idiotic move on his part. He's ruined the chances of his party during the next national elections. They're going to loose every seat they gained..."

"Are you suggesting that they made gains in the last election? Because I don't remember that. In fact, I think that President Gandbuth actually brought in up in his statment yesterday

Finishing School, or At Least the Quarter

Gretchen had only one more final and then her first quarter at college would be finished. The final was on a Saturday, though. She wanted to take the person who thought having the last final on a Saturday at three PM, drag him by his short curlies into the quad and let all the students who have ever had a Saturday final give him paper cuts and then pour lemon juice on his bleeding carcas.

Having her two Secret Service agents on campus was annoying, but managable. They lived together in the room next door and, along with Gretchen, shared the bathroom with everyone else on the floor. The Service tried to get her into a building that had suites set up, but her dad insisted that she have a real college experience by sharing her showers and toilettes with sixty other people.

On occasion, she had to attend special school functions and be paraded before the alumni, or parents of alumni, who had money so they'd give the school more. When she didn't want to attend those sorts of things, the president or dean or whoever was quick to remind her of all the compromises the school had to make just to get her Secret Service people into the dorm and wouldn't she like to help repay what would eventually be her alma mater?

At the moment, she was waiting for her father to show up for lunch. The were going to Sophia's for Thai

"Mom here?" she asked, but she already knew the answer.

"Nope, just me," he said, hands in his pockets, strolling toward her.


"Studio. That okay?" He stopped walking right in front of her.

"It's expected."

"But is it okay?" He took his hands out of his pockets.

"Yeah," she said, pushing her hair out of her eyes and watching a bird start flying behind her dad just with her eyes, "I think it's okay."

"Good." He smiled, his warm, safe smile, one he didn't use on the campagin trail, but saved only for her, and hugged her.

"Hey, Dad." She hugged him back.

"Hey, Gretch."

When they finished, she put her arm though his and they headed off toward lunch.

"So, I caught you're speech on the internet."

He smiled again, "What did you think?"

"It was funny."

"You think?"

"Yeah. So, what's happening now?"

"Larry King called. He said he wanted to go live tonight. Do a special show focusing just on me, like when I was running for President, but this time the softballs the lobbed to me would actually be about the issues instead of that shameful Flock of Seagulls haircut I had when I was a kid."


"I told him until I saw him and Ted Turner in a 69, complete with the messy ending, I wouldn't even consider his offer."

Gretchen laughed, "When's the show?"

"Oddly enough, he said no to that, so I suggested the two of them feltching."

Gretchen laughed again.

"He didn't know what that was, so I told him to Google it and be sure to check out some of the pictures and when he was through to get in touch with me." Her dad chuckled. "He hasn't gotten back to me, so far."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I tweaked my back yesterday. I'm not sure how because it didn't happen during the night or around my apartment in the morning or on the walk to work. No. It happened as I was stepping out of the elevator.

When I stepped forward with my right foot, my back protested. I took a step with my left foot, all was fine. Right foot, pain. Left foot, normalcy. Stopped, okay. Right, owwww. Left, nada.


I walked into work, cringing at every other step. I sat at my desk. At first, there was a little ache, but it went away after about 30 seconds.

I stood up to go on my break, I was okay and hoped that it had gone a way. Right foot forward and a little gasp escaped.

All day it went on like that.

Walked back to my apartment with a limp that felt, and probably looked, awkward. It didn't hurt climbing the stairs, though.

When I got in bed, I felt better, but occasionally I moved my leg in some way and the back went, oh.

Been that way all day.

Hoping it doesn't get worse, I have a long drive tomorrow night.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I've once again fallen into bored mode. There's work in my basket that I could be looking though, but tomorrow I'm supposed to take some time training the new SLT on how we process the mail we get each day, which means that I need mail for him to process, and I don't want to process the mail now only to have to show him how to do it tomorrow only to do it for myself again after he's through. The stupidest thing about this training that that he'll never have to do the work that I do. SLTs work for the judges. SLTs do what, in other places, legal secretaries do. SLTs never do the work that I do unless one of us clerks royally fucks up. I'm only going to be working with him for an hour, but it'll be a very wasted hour. It'll be especially wasted because we're not working together until 10:30. My first two hours will be spent pretending to work, but not actually working so he can try and do my work.

Truly, stupidity should be more appreciated. If it was, then sycophants would be able to tell the truth, and it seems to me that more truth is needed in this world.

I'm not sure what else to write right now. I'm sick of writing about work, just sick of work. I don't know if this long weekend will charge my batteries, but it will be nice not being here for a few days.

In the past few months, I've discovered the fun of Stargate: Atlantis. The channel that it's on showed Farscape last year and changed over to this show at the beginning of the season. At first I was upset, but I was also lazy and bored, so I watched the episode. It was fun and it made me laugh. It's not great, but sometimes science fiction doesn't need to be great, just whimsical. I really don't like the character of Ronon; he's like a weaker version of Tyr from Andromeda. (Yes, I can tell the differences in their back story and other ways, but every time Ronon appears on screen I think of how much better Tyr was right from the start while I've seen Ronon each week since September and I still think he's boring.) Still, the occasional appearance by Robert Picardo balances Ronon out. Besides, sometimes you just need a show that features an ancient, floating city with a driving range into the ocean, right?

Last Night's Dream

I was house sitting for a neighbor of my parents who lived down the hill from them. My job was to feed and water the cat and to make sure that the garden didn't get too dry, although it was during the fall because none of the trees had leaves.

Early in the morning on my last day of house sitting, my brother, the middle one, and I decided to go ballooning. He had a hot air balloon that was shaped like a dirigible, longer than it was wide, and the basket was shaped the same way. There was a little propeller attached to the basket, although I don't remember seeing any motor or anything that would drive the propeller to give us any kind of push forward, but it did.

We flew over the neighborhood my parents lived in. Someone had come through and cut out massive amounts of manzanita leaving only the twisted stumps covering the hills.

When the sun started rising, my brother gave the propeller a push with his hand and set us down near the place I was house sitting. We checked the garden, which was green and lively, and filled the cat's food and water down near the house then headed back to the garage, which was where my room was, for some breakfast.

Outside the door were two guys, older and larger and better looking than us. We asked them to leave and they got up and went. I opened the door and found the cat, looking like someone had poured vegetable oil all over it. My brother said we should clean it up, so I grabbed it and brought it up with us thinking I could give it a bath in the sink, or at least put it in the tub and blast it with the shower.

My brother went to the kitchen to get food, and I headed to the bathroom. I pushed the door open, and heard some splashing.

"Who's there?" I asked. There wasn't any answer, just splashing. I asked again and dropped the cat. Still, only splashing.

Slowly, I walked to the frosted glass doors of the tub. I didn't see a shape or anything through the glass. I just heard splashing.

I slid the door open, then stuck my head in too look around. I saw a baby sitting in about an inch of water smashing his hands up and down to make noise. I don't think he was a year old, yet. He was just past the point of being able to sit up unaided, wispy, light hairs on his head and no teeth yet. He looked at me and smiled and slapped the water.

I climbed in the tub, sat down in the water, pulled the kid toward me, and put him on my lap. He was all wet. Even his head and face. He had been completely under the water not long before I found him. I got a bit angry at that thought and was a little happy that the plug in the tub leaked.

That was when I heard a ruckus. I looked out the sliding shower door and through the bathroom door to see my brother pounding on one of the guys we'd seen outside. My brother was punching the guy in the face and then the gut and then kicked him in the balls and they eventually moved past the doorway. I slid the shower door shut and asked the baby why he thought he should be drowned. He just smiled and tried to fit his fist in my ear. I smiled, too.

Then came heavy stomping sounds. I looked though the frosted glass and saw a huge shape duck through the door frame to the bathroom and stomp closer. A man put his head over the top of the doors and looked down at me and the baby. This guy had wild, but shortish, gray hair, a thick, black mustache, a round face, and huge, drooping bags under his eyes.

He asked me what I was doing. I stood up, still holding the baby and punched the guy in an eye. He stumbled back. I opened the door, and punched him in the other eye. He sat on the toilet. I ran, with the baby, out into the hall.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Distractions Abound

Stupidity, that I don't wish to write about, melted my brain this morning. Still it made me wonder why I didn't try to take all of next week off instead of the two days supplied. Thursday can not come soon enough.

Yesterday, Blogger blocked comments I wrote on some other people's blogs. I didn't know that until this morning. I didn't rewrite any, though, due to the stupidity mentioned above.

Been spending a lot of time, this afternoon, playing this Something*Positive archives. I'm pretty close to finishing 2005.

Between comics, I also rated things at Amazon to "improve my recommendations." So far, it's not suggested anything exciting and new to me, but it's another good time waster.

Be well.

Fiction Friday #20

NaNoWriMo Part 3

By the time she got out of the school and into her car, they were running way more than an hour behind schedule and Cindy really had wanted to be at the air force base before her husband got there so they could get off the ground as soon as possible. She wanted to get back home and get to work. It was the only gift she wanted from Marc anymore.

Cindy knew it was odd for a president to leave the White House during Christmas. He was expected to be in Washington right up until Christmas Eve hosting functions and greeting important people from other nations and pardoning turkeys and meeting people who helped buy his way into the Oval Office and also meeting the people who failed to help get people of his party elected everywhere during the last election, and until Marc took office, that's what all the modern Presidents had done.

When Marc had first brought up the possibility of running for President, Cindy made him promise that at least twice each year, for two week stretches, they would spend time at home so she could work in her studio. When he was elected, he tried to talk her out of the promise saying that it was important for the two of them to be at the White House as much as possible because it would reassure the people, since the election had been so close, in the popular vote, at least. He also wanted her in Washington, near him, to show the traditionalists that, as crazy as some of his ideas may seem, being President may be his job, but being a husband and father was his real passion in life, so she couldn't spend most of the year 3000 miles away from him like she did when for the term he spent as a congressman. She stuck to her guns, though. It was bad enough that she'd be away from her studio for so long, but she wasn't going to be away from it all year long and she promised that if he didn't keep his word she would become an embarrassment to his entire administration and possibly for the first time make the American public want a divorced man as heir President. Together, they decided it would be best to take the time around Christmas and Easter since during their first eighteen months in Washington Gretchen would finishing her junior and senior years of high school and they figured since they had uprooted her three thousand miles already, they'd do their best to not disrupt her schooling any more.

A temporary studio was put together for her, complete with tools and a nice electric wheel in the White House because her having a real studio space out in Washington was out of the question, according to the Secret Service, but this temporary studio wasn't the same as the one she had at home or even one she would have set up for herself. The tools were all new and didn't have the same feel as the ones she'd been using at home, some ever since her first clay class her first year of college. The wheel was an electric one; in her studio, she used a kick wheel which gave her precise control over the speed she used to create with. The Secret Service didn't like her mixing glazes at all, let alone at the White House because they couldn't be sure that the powdered mineral and chemicals were actually what they were supposed to be and not something more dangerous, so there was no experiment for new, exciting colors, she could only used pre-mixed things that were shipped in from local colleges and she had to have faith that they wouldn't be awful. She also wasn't allowed to build a high fire kiln, which needed natural gas or propane to get hot enough, so everything she glazed had to be in the same little electric kiln she used to fire the green ware into bisque. What made even this worse was that she wasn't even allowed to Raku, where the potter took the still hot, low fired, glazed pieces and put it in a container full of pine needles or dry grass or paper shreddings (which the White House had plenty of) to create crackled glaze with deep, smoky black lines, or covered it to reduce the oxygen as much as possible to make wonderful iridescent colors, some looked gold, others copper, her favorite looked like oil on the surface of water. If she couldn't use the high fire to give the pottery great strength, she at least wanted to be able to use techniques that made her pottery more beautiful. On occasion, she could take her bisqued pieces to one of the colleges and use their high fire kiln or Raku with the students, but it was always a production that had to be made to look like she was there to teach the students or see what they were learning by sitting in on a class, with cameras around snapping pictures; worst of all, she was always expected to give some bullshit speech about how well the school was doing and how important the arts were for the students to get a well rounded education. And she was rarely allowed to handle anything deemed dangerous, which included hot pieces being moved from the kiln for Raku or even loading her pieces into or removing them from the high fire kiln.

Sometimes, to relieve tension or just to feel the clay between her fingers or to smell the fine dust left behind, she'd go to her White House studio and work. She was never left alone, though. People were always hanging around, watching her or coming in to see if she needed something. If she got up to go to the bathroom or answer a call from one of her kids, when she'd come back she'd often find her tools cleaned and put back in their "place" or if she was sculpting the bits and shavings that she left around her sculpture would be cleaned up and put in the bag with the rest of the clay block. All of this disrupted the whole flow of her ability to create. She needed the bits and shavings close at hand while she was sculpting because the clay had already been warmed and worked and had the same elasticity as the clay in the sculpture. With the tools on the wheel, she had to try and get things back nearly the way they were before she could start again because when she started she'd lay them out in the order she expected to use them as she coaxed the shape into the spinning clay.

The worst thing that ever happened when she had finished for the day, but hadn't finished the pot she was making on the wheel, so she covered it with a garbage bag to keep it moist. When she came back the next morning, she found it accidentally smashed because someone had tried to move it to clean up the wheel for her. She didn't enter the studio for more than a month after that and, for a while, tried to convince her husband to resign and go back to California forever. It didn't happen though and eventually she had to get back to her work because of all the inane photo-ops that were organized for her by the party’s staff.

The best thing about having a studio in Washington, though, was the easy access to a huge variety of different clays she had. All up and down those hills that Easterners called mountains there were clay pits all eager to serve the First Lady. There were several varieties dug up in California, but it was nothing compared to what was dug up from the Mississippi down south to the forests of Vermont and Maine in the north. Wonderful robust clays with a bit a grit perfect for throwing plates, mugs, and bowls that were meant to be used daily by a family or to lend its strength to larger sculptures that stood, dangerously, on thin legs. Fine grained clays that slipped through her fingers like a soap film for making delicate vases and other more artsy pieces, some so thin that she sometimes thought if she held one up to the light she could see though it. Some of the colors were amazing, too. She had one clay sent to her that, when fired into stoneware, was such a deep brown it nearly looked black. She'd had several different clays, coming to several hundred pounds, shipped back to her studio at home, in California, weeks ago so it would be waiting for her to experiment with it. True, she usually preferred to let the clay age for a few years, believing that the micro organisms that grew there helped to break down some of the more rocky components left, but experimenting with the glazes she created couldn't wait. She had to know as soon as possible how well they worked, or didn't work, with the new clays she bought.

The car jostled and they were through the gate. They drove across the tarmac toward Air Force One. Cindy had mixed feelings about this kind of luxury. She liked that she didn't have to deal with commercial airports -- the crowds, the noise, the security -- just to get home, but she didn't like the pomp that the Air Force seemed to think it had to put on when ever her husband used the base. She liked that she could be driven right up to the plane, but she missed having a warm walk from the car to the plane; even when it rained or snowed she had to walk and get wet and an umbrella could only do so much to protect a person when the wind gusted right into his or her face. She liked having a private plane with an amazing kitchen, chef, and staff there to serve her and help her to be more comfortable, but she could help but think that it was an extravagance that wasted tax money, an opinion she'd held since long before her husband seriously thought of running for President. Still, the one thing that had no negative side was not having to deal with other passengers who thought they were better than her. On Air Force One, only her husband was more important than she was, and if she didn't want to deal with the other people on the plane, she could walk away and there was nothing they could do to stop her. That was a luxury she would have paid thousands for on a commercial flight.

The door to the plane was closed, but the stairs were still there, waiting for her. Jan stepped out of the car, first, and took a quick look around to make sure it was safe for the First Lady. Cindy rolled her eyes; she figured that if someone was going to attack her on an air force base it was going to the Air force itself, or one of the other armed forces working with the Air force, and as soon as she was on the base it would be too late and there wouldn't be anything Jan, or any other Secret Service Agent, could do about it. So far, every Air force base had been perfectly safe.

Jan poked her head back into the door way and said, "It looks clear ma'am. You can come out now."

Cindy scooted from her seat to the one that Jan had been sitting on, put her feet out the opened door, grabbed onto the door frame, and pulled herself out of the limo. She straightened and smoothed her suit and took a deep breath to settle herself so she wouldn't try to screw with the young men and women "guarding" the stairs up to the plane. She wanted too, though. She wanted to be like Lucy in England with the tower guards, or whoever those guys with the pipe cleaner hats were called. Sometimes, she thought about stumbling in front of one of them to see if they'd try and catch her, or would they just let her fall like Gerald Ford. It could be fun; painful, but fun.

Before she took her first step on the tarmac, someone put a vice grip on her right arm. She turned and saw that it was her chief of staff, Joclynn Kernel, which had to have been an unfortunate name to grow up with. The name wasn't enough to explain Lynn, though.

Joclynn Kernel was hired simply because she was the youngest and least experienced person who Cindy had interviewed for the job. Lynn came for the interview and she still hadn't finished her Master's Degree, which had been a ballsey move. She also came in as a pretty blank slate. Yes, she'd helped to work on some campaigns and been a Senate page, but she didn't come in to push an agenda on the First Lady. Lynn had wanted to deal with some Take Back the Night things, but she was too young to be very forceful, so whenever she brought an idea or an even to Cindy, it was really easy to knock down with a distraction. Lynn didn't date much, if at all, so Cindy would just change the subject and talk about how well admired Gretchen, her daughter, was at school, always trying to wear some extra cover-up to hide the hickeys on her neck that she got from the boy, or maybe girls, or maybe both, there, then Cindy would ask Lynn how her boyfriend was and act like she forgot that Lynn's ex had dropped out of school and run off to Jamaica with some big titted ditz the summer before their last year in school together, nine months before they were supposed to get married. There were some days that Cindy was afraid that the evasion wouldn't work and she'd have to find another way to crush the younger woman's spirit, but so far, each time, Lynn's face would crunch up and she'd pull her long, dark hair in front of her face, to hide the tears, and start to sob. Cindy would, of course, apologize for the faux pas and hug Lynn back to a tearless state and then offer to leave her for some alone time, to get her thoughts together, and Cindy would leave.

One of Cindy's biggest fears, at least where Lynn was concerned, was that she'd finally go and discover the calming and centering powers of an orgasm, with or without another person's help, and come back to work a driven woman full of the righteous purpose too many of the young people in Washington had before they discovered how the soul sucking system really worked. So far, Lynn hadn't discovered the wonders of meaningless sex or a nice, warm vibrator, so Cindy was still in control.

"Mrs. Gandbuth, we have to talk," said Lynn, pulling on Cindy's arm.

"Cindy, Lynn," said Cindy, trying to free herself from the younger woman’s grip. "You can call me Cindy."

Lynn shook her head and said, "Fine, fine, but we have to talk."

"It can wait, Lynn. I'm getting on a plane. I'm going home. No more bullshit."

"Not bullshit," said Lynn. Cindy looked at the woman because Lynn never cursed. In Lynn's dark eyes was the usual look of uncertainty, but also some fear. "We need to talk. It's about him."

Cindy sighed. "What's the fuck up done today?"

"He... Well, he made an unscheduled speech to the press probably around the time you were getting into the car at the school. He, uh." Her eyes darted around like she was making sure no one was listening.

"Heeeeee, what?"

"He, uh... Well, he blamed the public for everything."

"What the hell does that mean?" Cindy asked, finally shaking Lynn's hand off of her arm.

"It means he stood in the press room and told them that everything that's gone wrong or going wrong with the country is the fault of the regular people out there."


"And he ended his speech by flipping off the cameras and telling the people to," Lynn's voice dropped to a whisper, "fuck off." Her brown cheeks got even darker when she blushed.

"Okay. Okay." Cindy started to pace along the side of the limo, Lynn following along beside her.

"What are we going to do?"

"So, he ruined his presidency."


"He's alienated every fucking voter in this nation."


"He told the truth to the public."

"He did?"

"He's going to have his own party up in arms."


"People will want to do to him what the French did to Louis the sixteenth."


Cindy stopped her pacing. "It's over," she said, "isn't it?"

"What are we going to do?"

Cindy turned to face Lynn and grabbed the younger woman by her shoulders. "I'd recommend getting your resume all up to date. I mean, even if Marc and I get lynched being the First Lady's Chief of Staff has to mean something, right?" Cindy let go and smiled. "Besides, if we're not killed, I'll see you in about two weeks. I promise."

Lynn took a deep, quavering breath, looked at Cindy with the glassy eyes of a person trying to hold back tears, and nodded.

"Good," said Cindy before she turned toward the plane. "Let's go, Jan. I've got an ass to kick."

Jan walked toward the staircase in her usual long stride, Cindy followed close behind. There was no press to speak of at Andrews today. They were supposed to get dramatic shots of her husband boarding Marine One on the South Lawn surrounded by Christmas decorations that had been around for a long time, some more than a hundred years. Marc had convinced her to go to the stupid school thing because the press on the lawn would be a huge ordeal that she didn't want to go through, and she didn't; she hated dealing with the press. If Lynn was right about the sorts of things her husband had said in the press room, it was probably even worse than usual.

At the stairs, Jan stopped, moved to the side to let Cindy pass, and asked, "You want me to find him for you?"

"Yes," said Cindy, patting her stomach. "I have to make my usual pre-flight pit stop."

"You want us to stay, or take off?"

"Fuck. I want us in the air right away. I'm going home. I'm going to my studio. And no stupid move on my husband’s part is going to stop me. Nothing, short of some sort of rocket could stop me from making this trip."

Jan pulled her sun glasses low on her nose and said, "Don't joke that that, ma'am. It's not funny."

"You're right," said Cindy, stepping up the first stair, "it's not funny. You know where to find me when you find him?"

"Yes, ma'am."


As she climbed the stairs, Cindy tried to figure out what she was going to say to her husband. She was angry at him in a way she hadn't been angry at him in a long time. Waves of heat worked their way through her body from her feet up and it felt like all the heat was collecting in her throbbing head. She tried hard not the clench and grind her teeth, she did enough of that in her sleep, but it wasn't an easy thing to do. How was she going to deal with this? She wondered if she should just walk up to him and start yelling, or was there a better way to handle it. She figured, though, that no matter how she started, the talk was going to disintegrate into a screaming match for all of Air Force One to hear. She was so happy that this was just a trip home, so there was no press flying with them. She could just imagine her muffled screams being psychoanalyzed on one of those pompous NPR shows by some quack who had never met her.

At the top of the stairs, someone greeted her. She wasn't sure if it was a staff member of someone from the Air Force. She didn't care. She wanted to get out of the cold Virginia December weather and into the warmth of the plane and then get off the ground and in the air heading to her home.

The first thing she did when she stepped through the door was take off her shoes. Her pain in the leg, barely heels. Of all the things she disliked about being a politician's wife, the shoes she had to wear were what she hated the most. When she was a kid, she never wanted to wear heels of any sort. They made it hard to run around and they made walking too much hurt after a little while and they all seemed to pinch in places regular shoes couldn't. The only thing she liked about them was trying to balance herself just on the heel parts when she got bored out of her mind by the wedding or funeral or whatever pointless family event they were at; she'd wobble like a Weeble trying not to fall down. Her mom and aunts and grandma had insisted that she'd get used to them with practice, but Cindy didn't want to practice, so she only wore them when she was forced to. When she finally left home to go to college, she'd stopped wearing them to any sort of function. If people couldn't accept her in decent, clean shoes with soles that totally touched the ground, that was their problem, not hers. When Marc had first gotten into politics, at the city and county level, no one cared about her shoes, but when he got into the state assembly and started getting invited to swanky parties that included lots of important people, her husband's people started hinting to her that it'd be better if she started to wear something that was a bit more appropriate for a woman who was with a man of his rank. So she started wearing them to fancy occasions, again. And as the list of occasions they had to attend started to grow, so did her time out of flats. Now she reveled in those moments that she could put on a worn comfortable pair of Keds and not feel any pain in her calfs. She thought that if there was a heaven, it must feel like a worn comfortable pair of shoes.

Hell, on the other hand, was what her pre-flight pit stop was supposed to take care of. She got air sick. Not the simple air sick of the movies where a person vomits once into a bag and goes on with the flight, no, she got air sick like most people got sea sick. She started getting queasy when she felt the engines start up. By the time they were barely off the ground, she'd thrown up at least once.