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.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Made in USA

Since I can't think of anything else to write today, I thought I'd link you all to my brother's comic.

Title Page for Made in USA. (Which has nothing of much interest.)
"Chapter 1" in which our hero discovers smoking.
"Chapter 2" in which our hero is far from home.
"Chapter 3" in which our hero starts a journey back.

In making this links, I noticed that, for some reason, he's missing a chunk that happens between the first and second chapters. It was there last week, before he started fiddling with it.

Still, what he has is good and I thought I'd once again (He was still posting to MySpace back then.) point the few of you who visit to the strip.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Early Gift

Today, I helped my mother learn the meaning of the word "feltching."

And it's not even Christmas, yet.

Yesterday and Today

In just a little over eight days, I'll be on my way up to Cowtown for Thanksgiving. The best thing about that trip will be the being away from here. Sure, visiting with family and (hopefully) friends will be great and so will eating too much yummy food, but what I'm really looking forward to is not being in this general area anymore.

I don't think this is a horrible place, it's not. Lots of people love it here, but I don't. I'm not sure what it is, it's just not a comfortable fit, for me. I felt more comfortable living in a (semi-)crap hole in Cowcity.

What am I trying to say here today? I'm not sure. I'm just tired. I haven't been on an interview since early August (Or did I have one in September?) because of my car and gas and going to something like eleven interviews and not being hired and only being called back for two of them and only getting letters for about five of them.

I've been all over that crap before though. And maybe it's not even about the crap. Maybe it's about needing to set my sights higher than me just wanting to live and work somewhere else. But that all I really want right now. I don't expect to be jumped up a pay grade or suddenly be put in an office with actual responsibilities, that's not going to happen because I don't have the experience. I can do my job, though, and I can do it pretty quickly and accurately. I can learn how to do other things, too, if that's what the job requires.
(I got this far yesterday evening and then got distracted by work stuff. It was a stupid survey about a stupid program that still hasn't been completed, but they want to know what we all think about how they've done so far. The trouble was, it wouldn't really allow me to be thoughtful in my honesty. Several of the questions supplied an "other" choice and then a one line box to explain that "other." However, they little box only allowed for 40 characters, including spaces. 40 characters is not much space to write / The space between the letter "e" and the slash would be character 41 in the sentence I was trying to write. It was just really, really annoying.

The thing that really got me, though, was that they wanted us to rank, from best to worst, the portions of this so called "roadshow" they did for us a couple of months ago. The "roadshow" was a total waste of time, since the people in charge still hadn't made many decisions about the new system. Everything they told us was followed with a "We're still not sure if that's how it'll be." or a "But it's probably going to change a lot between now and when we implement the news system." So I tried to leave that section blank. The survey wouldn't go forward without that question being filled in. I filled my sort of answers, but I decided to write an e-mail to the people in charge to tell them that it wasn't an honest answer and if they're actually looking for well thought out feedback they need to allow more that 40 characters. I clicked on the e-mail link provided on the survey and when I sent my e-mail off I got this back:
Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

Subject: Survey
Sent: 11/13/2007 4:55 PM

The following recipient(s) could not be reached:

... on 11/13/2007 4:55 PM
The message reached the recipient's e-mail system, but delivery was refused. Attempt to resend the message. If it still fails, contact your system administrator.
I resent the letter immediately and got the same letter. I sent it again this morning and got the same response. For some odd reason, I don't think they actually care about the opinions of the people who will have to actually use this new system.

Nice of them.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Then and Now

I ended up throwing away my copy of Time Enough For Love without finishing it. It was old, bought at a used bookstore, and I knocked it off my bed, the weekend after I wrote that post, and about a hundred pages fell out and scattered across the floor. The book just wasn't worth trying to piece back together. Sure, it was getting more interesting, though. Ah, well.

Now I'm about halfway through The Return of Little Big Man. If I lay off the comics, I'll probably finish it before I get back to work on Tuesday (HOORAY FOR VETERANS DAY!). It's an okay book. I think, at least so far, the reason it's not as good as the first is because Jack Crabb is just aimless. In the first book, he started out growing up and just had to survive, first with the Cheyenne and then with the Pendrakes. Next he wanted to be a good white person so he got himself a wife and child and business. Then after they were taken from him and after his search and a little battle, he decided to be a good Cheyenne and got himself a wife who he got pregnant, until she, along with a lot of other Cheyenne, was killed at Washita River. He went into a decline after that, but eventually got it into his mind to take revenge on George Custer. The Jack of Little Big Man wasn't just watching history happen, he was participating in it while trying to survive it. So far, the Jack of The Return of Little Big Man has pretty much been a witness to history drifting from the Cheyenne he was with at the end of the first book to Deadwood (at the time Wild Bill Hickok was killed), to Dodge City (where he tended bar and watched Bat Masterson go about doing things), to Tombstone (where tended bar and watched Wyatt Erp and his family, and Doc Holiday, stir up trouble). Now he's traveling with Buffalo Bill Cody in that show, keeping Buffalo Bill in plenty of alcohol. The Jack in this book is just so darn passive. Sure, he sees interesting things, but because they're so specific to well know individuals, he can't take part. There's no more battle in which he can play a part in. I'm sure he'll be heading to Europe and meeting Annie Oakley soon, I hope he gets to actually do something by then.

Fiction Friday #19

NaNoWriMo Part 2

Marc didn't feel as confident as his smile made him look. His palms were sweating, his heart fluttered, and his stomach was trying to reenact Stomp. He hadn't felt this way making a speech since he was in high school. After that, he had full speech written by him or with someone else or by someone else; sometimes he just had a few notes with him so he would sound more off the cuff and personable; on those rare town hall style occasions where notes would make him look weak, he'd at least have discussed most of the possible topics with his staff before hand. Today, he had nothing. No one knew he was going to do this. His secret service guy for the day, Agent Grant, only knew that the president wanted to go to the press room.

He wiped his hands off on his pants, planted them on the sides of the podium and started to talk to the reporters.

"So, good afternoon everyone, and merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Mr. Presidents," a few of the reporters repeated back. All of them looked surprised. Not one of them had expected Marc to come out here the afternoon before his vacation started. Or maybe they were just surprised to see him in the press room at all. While he preferred to greet crowds of regular people in town hall settings so far, since his election two years ago, he'd only ever given speeches to the press and when he was finished he'd be ushered off by aides or secret service or both before anyone could get a question out.

Marc smiled again. No one in this room knew what they were getting today. This would be fun. His stomach flipped again.

"I know you weren't expecting me here today," he said, hand on either side of the podium. "Hell, I can't remember even being in this room since my family and I took our tour of the White House before I moved in."

Most smiled. A few laughed.

"So, I bet you're all wondering why I'm here, right? What would you think if I told you that I'm here to give you and the rest of the American people the greatest Christmas present, ever? What if I told you that I'm here to tell the truth, the actually truth? Not some bullshit" -- the reporters gasped -- " speech that a committee of aides and speech writers thought you wanted to hear based on polls, but the actual truth?"

"We'd think you were feeding us a load of crap," someone in the back had said; Marc wished that he knew the names of these people, but he didn't. The rest nodded and a few mumbled.

"Yeah, I guess I wouldn't believe me, either. I mean politicians, for thousands of years, have been saying they'll tell the people the truth to gain support, right?" There were some muttered agreements. "So, how about I just talk and you listen, okay? And then, later, when you and your editors are pulling what I said apart to find my 'true' meaning and CNN and MSNBC and Fox News are taking things I said out of context to make me look like more of an asshole than I really am, then you can decide if I'm telling the truth." His palms started sweating and he felt flush. He couldn't remember ever feeling this nervous before, in his life. Not even the first time he got laid.

"I haven't spoken about this with my Chief of Staff or the leadership of my party or anyone in congress or even my wife. So, this is sort of a Christmas surprise for them, too. This isn't going to be like the State of the Union which is just bullshit politics. Can ever of you remember a State of the Union address that didn't start off with 'the state of our union is strong'? I can't. And do you want to know something? The state of our union isn't strong. Our union is weak." His fingers dug into the wood of the podium. He had to hold on tight or he was afraid he'd fall forward.

"It's weak and everyone out there is afraid to say so. They know how close to crumbling our nation is, and they're afraid to tell you. Do you understand that? They're fucking afraid. Hell, I've been afraid of it too. But no more.

"What's worse is they don't know what to do about it because they're afraid to try to fix the problems. They spew out 'facts,'" Marc freed his hands from their death grip on the podium and made air quotes around the word "facts." "They spew out buzz words. They get your fear up by saying immigrants, especially illegal ones, are here to take your jobs from you. They remind you that there are scary people out there who want to attack in the night, and not in the honorable way, but the cowardly way; they want to bomb your local Wal*Mart and you have to keep shopping, 'keep American strong,' right?

"I've done it. Dan was up here doing it just a little while ago. He was throwing out statistics and fact and stories to keep you all distracted from the problems that everyone should really be worried about."

He ticked his fingers off as he said, "Education. National health. Global warming and the environment. Farm subsidies Common sense gun control. Debt, and I'm talking about personal debt, not the deep, black pit the last president dug for us. Social Security money for Social Security benefits rather than another freeway through Nevada.

"Instead, you worry about people saying fuck or shit on TV. You worry about video games where characters can rip the scrotum off other characters." He smiled and shook his head. "You try to keep kids from reading books that they can actually enjoy and then turn around and bitch about how kids don't fucking read. And why should they when you get rid of all the good stuff?

"I'm sure everyone out there knows where I'm going with this. You," Marc pointed at one of the cameras, "are pretty much to blame for all of problems. And I'm talking about every adult out there. I'm talking about those who vote in every election. I'm talking about those who vote only in presidential election. And I'm talking about those of you still don't fucking vote. You are the problem. You vote people like me into office over and over again.

"People like me aren't here to make things better; we're here to make money. We gotta support our families somehow and still get elected the next time our term comes to an end. Do you really think we get paid enough to be able to do those things and not get a little extra on the side? And I'm not even talking about the illegal things. Most of us don't even have to do anything illegal because we make the laws that keep us getting paid."

Marc closed his eyes, stepped back from the podium, and took a deep breath. He stepped forward, opened his eyes, and said, "Let me tell you a story:

"When I was a little kid, I didn't live a horrible life. My parent's made enough money so my life was pretty good, but sometimes we'd go into the city and I'd see the people sitting on the street holding cups and asking for some money. I watched the men and women in suits pretend that they weren't even there, like they didn't exist. When I walked past them with my parents, they put me in between them and tried to keep me from seeing the homeless people. I didn't understand and I didn't ask why. And, like everyone else, I grew up not seeing what was around me, not seeing the things I didn't like.

"Once upon a time, though, I thought I could change this. The day I was elected into this office, this grand office, the office of the most powerful man in the free world, the day I knew I'd be president, for a full minute, I thought that maybe, maybe I could change things. Maybe, I thought, this time things would be different and I'd be able to do things that the guys before me couldn't. I'd be the one to get this country going again, to get it to care again. Then I started the job.

"For some reason, you people out there thought it was a smart thing to split congress between the two parties. 'Let's make the House one party and the Senate the other,' you thought. 'Let's see what our new president can make of that.' I thought that, like me, they'd want to work together to make our nation stronger. That when my first hundred days started counting down.

"I don't know where the idea came from, but for some reason, in this modern time, people think that those first hundred days of a president's term are the ones that will set the tone for the whole damn thing. Do you know what I achieved in those first hundred days? Nothing. Do you know how many bills I tried to get through congress? Something like fifty. Do you know how many came out in the end? None. Do you know how many bills came out during my first year as president? Twenty-eight and that includes the budget that almost didn't happen on time.

"I was called the most ineffectual president since Andrew Johnson. At least he was hated and couldn't accomplish anything because he was trying to put the Union back together in an unpopular way. Shit, he was trying to do something that had never been done before, but me? I was just trying to do my job.

"In time, I realized how useless it was, though and I figured that when the next election came around you people would be as sick of the bullshit as I was and you'd actually elect men and women who wanted to make this place we live better than it is, better than it ever was. You didn't, though. In November, you just elected the exact same people into office. Nothing's changed.

"And what, please tell me, am I supposed to do about it?

"Am I supposed to go about trying to do my job and fail because you people want me to? Maybe, but I thought I should tell all of you what I thought first.

"The truth is a jagged fucking pill to swallow and I hope most of you choke on it. And while you're at it," Marc stepped out from behind the podium and grabbed his crotch, "you can choke on this, too."

He stepped back behind the podium, planted his hands again, and asked, "Any questions?"

The crowd was silent. More than one reporter had their mouths open so wide that birds could build homes in there and raise chirping families. Even the ancient dyke who had been sitting near the front row for half a century looked like a deer frozen in headlights. Marc felt great about that. If he could shock someone who'd been covering presidents since Johnson or Nixon, he couldn't wait to see the reaction the "average" person would have.

They'd want him impeached, or dead.

This was going to be fun. The most fun he'd had over a holiday since he was in grad school and spent spring break in Rio de Janeiro drinking anything handed to him and fucking anyone, man or woman, who was sober enough to say yes or drunk enough to start sucking on his cock without even being asked. Thinking about sucking and fucking under the watchful gaze of that giant Jesus still made him laugh. God, that had been one hell of a week.

"Well," he grinned again feeling better about himself and his career than he had since he left local city and county politics, "I can tell by the looks on your faces that you don't have any questions and I have a plane to California to catch. I look forward to reading and hearing all your reactions tomorrow and in the weeks to come. Enjoy your time off and have a very merry Christmas with your families. Hell, give your moms a big sloppy wet one for me."

He turned away from the podium, and then turned back. "Oh, yeah. One more thing." He flipped off the cameras trying to do his best Nixon impression. "Fuck you, too," he said, laughing.

He turned again and walked away from the podium. He stepped down the two steps and headed to the door.

"Come on, Grant," he said to the Secret Service agent waiting there, "I want get out on the south lawn and onto Marine 1 and be on the way to the airport before this bunch regains consciousness."

"Yes, sir," said Agent Grant. He lifted his wrist up near his mouth and said, "People, Peter Piper's on his way to the market."

Marcus Gandbuth felt so good that he had to keep himself from skipping through the halls and out to the helicopter. The world was a wonderful place and it could only get better.

Flying Back Home

Cindy Gandbuth didn't arrive at Andrews Air Force Base until two hours after Air Force 1 was supposed to take off. It wasn't her fault though. She wasn't one of those First Ladies who had and agenda and she wasn't one of those First Ladies who went out of her way to support matronly causes like schools and poor little orphans. Sometimes, though, she had to go out and do crap like that, for her husband, for his career. When she thought of that she'd sigh. She'd done a lot of things for her husband's career. And today was another one.

While waiting to get onto the base, she sat in the limo, staring blankly out the window, thinking of the day before they finally arrived there.

She went out to some measly ass school somewhere out in Virginia. It was supposed to be near some famous Civil War battle, but she figured that was normal Virginia bullshit since, as far as she could remember, the entire state was covered in "famous" Civil War battles that no one wanted to remember except for the good ole boy assholes who lived near by and the anal retentive Civil War buff assholes who thought living their lives through a war that ended one hundred and fifty years ago is a good way to live their lives. The school was also named for some supposed guy who supposedly died in some supposed battle at some supposed time, but he supposedly grew up in the area and supposedly died a hero's death, so he deserved to have an elementary school named after him. Frankly it should have been called "Too Far From Washington To Matter Much" school since its paint was peeling and the heat in the rooms wasn't working and there wouldn't be any one out to fix the heat problem until after Christmas and the paint problem wouldn't be fixed until it all came off and left the building looking like some sun beat abandoned farm house from the dust bowl.

It was for the kids, she kept reminding herself. She was there to bring a little Christmas cheer by showing up and smiling and sitting in the gym slash auditorium slash cafeteria and watch a bunch of kid sing songs and put on short skits. She was expected to laugh and clap and cheer when appropriate so the kids would have their fragile egos protected rather than learn the truth, that their lack of practice and enthusiasm had made for a terrible time.

Worst of all, the time there went on forever. She got there at eleven and ate lunch with the kids, some sort of chunky turkey juice stuff poured over a lump of flake potatoes in the big rectangle on the tray with a scoop of green beans in cream of mushroom soup in the circle to the left and in the three squares on the top were a little carton of milk, a brick of green Jell-O, and a roll. The food was actually okay, not a five star meal or anything, but really good for a little school that was on the verge of falling in on itself. Cindy ate at a table in the cafeteria with the kid surrounding her, with her current favorite Secret Service Agent Jan Stakenov standing behind her the whole time.

The kids were, well they were kid. They were loud and messy. Some of them thought it was strange having a grown-up sitting at their table eating with them and were shy. Some thought it was funny and whispered to their friends about it. Some simply stared. One little boy even pulled the "see food" gag on her, which struck her as a pretty brave thing for a kid to do to any first lady; she figured that any other first lady would have been shocked and taken aback at such a crass display, but Cindy thought it was ballsy and did it right back at him, then showed the food on her tongue to the whole table. When the blob of mashed potatoes and chewed up green beans fell off her tongue onto her tray, they all started to laugh with her, and when she picked the blob up with her spork and ate it she was treated to lots of kids saying "eeeewww" and then more and even harder laughter. She briefly wondered if any cameras had caught her little food show. It would make for quite a story, but she didn't remember any flashes going off at that time. Part of her wished one of the kids had started a burping contest, and then they would have seen her family award winning performance. The lunch with the kids only took forty five minutes. The pageant started at noon.

During those fifteen minutes, the kids ran to their classrooms to get ready and she watched a couple of women fold all the lunch tables up, roll them to some room behind the little stage, do a quick sweep of the entire floor, and put out mats for the kids to sit on. Later, she found out that the two women also helped in a couple of classrooms as teacher's aides and each drove a bus in the morning and afternoon.

It show was only supposed to last an hour, but it went ninety minutes longer. The principal said that when the kids learned that the first lady was coming they got so excited they kept wanting to do more for her. Cindy wasn't stupid, though, she knew that it was when the teachers found out she was coming they thought they'd show off for her by making the program longer. She wasn't sure, though, if they were trying to show her how much they can accomplish on such a limited budget or if they were just showing her how little they had.

If it had only been an hour, the show would have been fine, but by the third performance of kids singing "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer," with the echoes -- "LIKE A LIGHTBULB!" "LIKE MONOPOLY!" "LIKE COLUMBUS!" -- shouted by the audience, Cindy was imagining horrible scenarios of men dropping down from the ceiling with huge automatic weapons and firing into the crowd of children an parents while Jan pulled her out of the room into the parking lot. Sometimes, one of the bullets caught her in the head or chest and she fell to the floor laughing. Other times, Cindy would find a machine gun, somewhere, and open fire on the guys coming from the ceiling, and then she'd hop around the room kicking terrorist ass, Batman style. Still the kids sang on and then performed a scene from A Christmas Carol, then sing, then something from "The Gift of the Magi," and then another song. Maybe if they did a scene from Santa Claus Versus the Martian, with the audience doing some MST3K, there would have been something worth watching after the first hour.

When it was finally over and all the children had taken their bows, she stood up and thanked them and lied to them when she told them that they were all wonderful and she hadn't ever seen a performance as good at the one they just put on for her. She clapped at them and then the teachers started clapping at her and, after a few seconds, the kids started clapping and yelling, too. Cindy didn't roll her eyes. She wanted to, but she didn't. Cameras snapped and flashed around her as she stood among the students and teachers and parents who were cheering her. She hoped she looked grateful. It wouldn't help her husband's career if she looked tired and annoyed in a roomful of children.

By the time she got out of the school and into her car, they were running two hours behind schedule.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I&A Stands for Ineffective and Asshole

An injured worker came in earlier. He wasn't here to cause problems, he just wanted some forms to fill out and a little advice.

I did my usual song and dance routine to try to get him to speak with the Information and Assistance Officer before he did anything so he'd have someone knowledgeable to give him some advice also because I don't like doing the work of the I&A guy, I'm not trained for it and it's not my job. He said to me, "I don't know who you have here, but if it's that short, weaselly guy..."

I nodded and said, "Balding?"

"Yeah," said the man who came in, "I don't want to be... Well, when I came in before he was kind of rude to me."

I nodded again and muttered, "Yeah, he's like that."

So I got his SSN and found out some of his information online. I gave him this info and asked if he'd spoken to his attorney about what he wants to do.

He launched into his story about how long it's taking (I explained that it usually takes a long time, often years and year.) and how the attorney he had isn't working on his case any more and now he's stuck with some young guy (I explained that his old attorney is semi-retired and moved to another law firm.) and then he launched into a story about going to see a doctor. That was when I just stood there listening and trying to make understanding noises at the appropriate pauses.

Eventually, he finished up and I pointed out where he could find the forms he needed. I still recommended he speak with I&A before he does anything and I reminded that if he was going to dismiss his attorneys that he go there and get all the information they have on his case because he'll need it.

He thanked me and said that it was nice coming in here and being treated so well.

I made a joke. I said, "Well we just want to show everyone who comes in here that not all state agencies are like the DMV."

He smiled and said, "Yeah, but even that other guy... he was... well, he was a jerk and you just made this so easy." Then he decided to launch into a story about visiting with I&A before and slid back into his current dilemma. Eventually, he thanked me and left.

As I headed back to my seat, the lead clerk person thanked me for the way I handled the guy and said I did a good job.

I thanked her for that and sat down angry because, as I've written before, in any place it only takes one employee who deals with regular folks to ruin the reputation of any office or business, private or public, and I know exactly who it is in this office. And I've known since my third week here. And the whole thing just pisses me off. (There's more back story to this rational/irrational anger from a meeting we had last week, but I didn't want to get into it then and I don't want to write about it now.) I really wish he'd get fired, or even promoted so he'd have to work in the city instead of here or I'd finally get hired somewhere away from here. Anything to get him out of the office I work in.


I just signed up on a comic book message board so I could make a joke about Xanadu.

What kind of person does that make me?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Useless Lie

She complains, almost daily, about having too much work. And, yet, she's been at her desk for mos of the past ninety minutes trimming her fingernails. Other days she's on her cell phone chatting and laughing with, what I assume is, a friend. Sometimes she sits there paying bills and then balancing her checkbook for hours. When she gets her paycheck she does another balancing act on her checkbook as well as adding to pages and pages of notes about her pay that she's kept for the last ten years. Still, she complains about having too much work.

And I don't understand. I do understand the she's a person who just likes to complain about things; she always seems happier when she has had something new to bitch about. What I don't understand is why she lies to herself.

She doesn't have too much work. I get more work than she does and I sure as hell am not getting too much work. I get very little work and then am supposed to ask for busy work when I'm finished at my desk. She gets one real spurt of work when the mail comes in and she stamps it and then give it to the lead clerk to distribute. That's about it, for her, other than going up to the counter, but she really only does that in the morning and in the afternoon seems to expect the rest of us to do it for her, even though she's been the lead counter clerk for five years.

So, why does she lie to herself about her work load? What does it accomplish?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


As I was headed to the toilette this morning, here at work, I was called back because I got a phone call. Apparently it was confidential so they couldn't just leave me a message. When I got to the phone I learned that the class/orientation thing that I was supposed to go to tonight has been canceled, can I do it next Monday. No, I can't do it next Monday, I said. Oh, said the voice, do you have any questions or can I help you with anything else? When's the next one? I asked. Monday, said the voice. No, I said, I mean after that. Oh, said the voice, I don't know. Then I suppose you can't help me, I said. 'Bye. We hung up.

I'm still leaving at four today, though. I had to use vacation time because it wasn't an appointment, it was a class.

I'm going to the movies, then. I'm gonna see My Kid Could Paint That. It's only here for a week and I didn't know that it was local until yesterday. I hope is good.

I'm No Fool

Like Davan says, "the safety films children truly need to see."

If you can't remember the tune, watch the first minute or so of this cartoon.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Yesterday ended daylight saving time here in the US of A.

In the past, I've cheered the ending of DST because, for a while at least, it feels like I get an extra hour of sleep each night. Yeah, I know that I'm still going to sleep at the same time as I was last week and I know that I haven't changed the time my alarm goes off for nearly two years, so I'm still in bed for the same amount of time, but it feels later because what was 7 o'clock yesterday is 6 o'clock today and my body's not used to it, yet.

Today, though, I find myself wishing that this state, if not the whole nation, choose one time and stuck with it all year long.

I don't care if it's standard time or DST, I'd just like consistency.

Maybe if we split the difference and set all of our clock a half hour ahead?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fiction Friday #18

The Fiction Friday posts are going to a different for a little while. Instead of me rushing to write about a thousand words of a story I'm going to post what I've written for NaNoWriMo. I'm not going to post the whole thing over and over again, I'm just going to post the new stuff I wrote between Fridays. So, some may start in illogical places and all will probably end without logic. Just deal with it.

This week's is short because it's just what I wrote all day yesterday and today here at work.

This is the way Fiction Friday is going to go until
1. The first Friday after the 30th, which is the first, I think.
2. I finish the 50,000 word and/or the novel.
Or 3. I decide to give up on NaNoWriMo.

Day Zero

Marcus Gandbuth walked into the press room by himself and stood off to the side of the platform. He didn't want to announce his presence just yet. He wanted to get a sense of the room before he let them know he was there.

More or less, it was a normal Friday before a holiday crowd. About half the seats were filled with their usually reporters only halfway listening to what Dan had to say. And he had nothing to say. There were no big bombs to drop on them this week. No hostages. No attack. No overtime basketball games just ending. Beside, most of the reporters in the press room went over the video tapes that were made available afterward. The only reasons any reporters showed up anymore was in the hopes that they could catch Dan, and therefore the entire administration, off guard with a pointed question, but since the Vice President hadn't been caught sucking geezer midget cock this week, Marc didn't think anyone was going to even try. Besides, they all wanted to get on their Christmas break as soon as possible, too.

Marc cleared his throat a little too loudly and stood there watching the reporters. The young guy in front did a double take and was the first to start staring. Slowly, the other people in the room turned to look at him, too. Then one camera, CNN, he thought, turned and then another and then another, like dominoes being knocked over. Not Dan though, he always focused on his notes instead of the actual people and was reading, word for word, some report put out by the Secretary of Agriculture about the restructuring on some farm subsidies they hoped to get through Congress next year.

Actually, it was Dan's sort of incompetence that helped him get the job of Press Secretary. He could hardly remember anything, so he always used notes. When he was asked a questions, he'd rifle through pages of information trying to find an answer. Sometimes he got lucky and the information was in the top couple of pages, but more often it was somewhere in the middle of his stack. When that happened he start searching and if the search took more than a few seconds, he'd ask all the reporters to quiet down, even if they were already quiet, because he needed his concentration and as he looked through the papers he'd mumble to himself, but into the microphone, that everyone needs to keep quiet. But the incompetence was masterful. By the time he found the answer most of the reporters had forgotten the question, so there were no follow-ups. Marc wasn't sure, but he always thought the reporters didn't ask more follow-ups because they were afraid that Dan would have to go through his notes, again. The best way to keep people from getting the information they wanted was to present it in a way they didn't like.

Once, the Chief of Staff, Alan Zimmerman, and Marc made a drinking game out of one of Dan's press conferences. Every time Dan said quiet loud enough for the camera to pick up, they took a shot. Forty minutes into the conference, Zim was a happy drunk, the kind that figures no one else can tell he's drunk and he wants to go around telling everyone how great they are. Marc just sat and focused on the TV so he wouldn't miss a single "quiet." Neither one of them had much memory of the rest of that day; Marc only had flashes of toilette's and grinding rolling chairs and asking people to keep quiet because he and Zim, they were looking for something so everyone had to keep quiet.

It was probably one on Marc's most productive days since he started working with these people.

Marc watched as Dan finally looked up into the half full room to answer the question he had been asked and noticed that no one was looking at him. Dan looked back at his notes and then at the reporters again. Marcus let his grin get huge because he knew that if he tried to hold it back, he'd laugh and Dan never took well to being laughed at. So he waited.

Dan cleared his throat once and then a second time, more forcefully. He opened his mouth, and closed it, then opened it again. He cocked his head to the left and followed everyone's gaze to his right. When he noticed Marc standing there, he closed his mouth with an audible snap.

Marc smiled as warmly as he could and half waved at Dan.

Dan half waved back.

Marc pointed to himself and then to the podium Dan was standing behind and then to himself again and nodded.

Dan straightened up with a jerk, pulled his coat straight, pushed glasses higher on his nose, and leaned toward the microphone. "Uh," he said, "ladies and gentlemen, I, uh, huh, I give you the, uh, the president of the United States of America. Um, Marcus Gandbuth."

Marc climbed the two stairs as the small group of reporters sat in silence and Dan collected his notes in a messy pile from the podium. When Dan turned toward him, Marc shot out his hand and grabbed Dan's and started shaking. Notes flew everywhere.

Dan and Marc both crouched down and started pulling papers into a pile.

"Sorry, Dan," said Marc. "I know how you hate surprises, but I thought it would be nice to come and talk and, maybe, answer a few questions. You know, as a sort of Christmas present."

"It's okay, uh, sir -- Mr. President, sir."

They got the pile of notes together and into Dan's arms. Both men stood up and Marc leaned in close and whispered, "You may want to watch this from your office."

Dan winced, nodded, and scurried down off the lift.

Marc walked over to the podium and smiled the smile his staff told him won the election. A friendly and confident smile, he was told. One that inspired people to flock to his cause. A smile that dentists could put up in their office to show what years of painful orthodontic work and bleach treatments could do for anyone of any age. And having such a big smile and such white teeth nestled in a light box tanned face made it all the better.

Marc didn't feel as confident as his smile made him look. His palms were sweating, his heart fluttered, and his stomach was trying to reenact Stomp. He hadn't felt this way making a speech since he was in high school.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Question Meme

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night?
Well, since I wasn't with real people last night, I'm gonna go with Allison Hannigan. The way she says, "A doodle. I do doodle. You, too -- you do doodle, too." is comic mastery.

2. What were you doing at 0800?
Sitting at my desk, waiting for my computer too boot up.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Pretending to work, but really reading Jazz's answers to these questions.

4. What happened to you in 2006?
I guess nothing really good or really bad because there aren't many specific memories. It's the first year that both of my brothers didn't show up for Easter or Thanksgiving. The comic wasn't finished and was hardly started. I lived in my apartment for a year. Not much else sticks out in my mind.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?
"There's nothing we can do about that, but you can use this one. I think it's still November first."

6. How many beverages did you have today?
Two. Milk and water before I left for work and water since then.

7. What color is your hairbrush?
I don't use a hair brush. I use a comb. I think it's blue because I like blue, but I'm not totally sure.

8. What was the last thing you paid for?
Comics yesterday on the way to my apartment.

9.Where were you last night?
In front of the TV and then in bed reading.

10. What color is your front door?
I think it dark brown, but it may not be.

11. Where do you keep your change?
I resist change.
As for the money, I keep it in my pocket until I'm at my apartment. At my apartment, I put it in a bowl that I made. After it sits in the bowl for a week or so I split the change and put the dimes into a cool bottle and the rest in what was supposed to be a candy jar that I got for Christmas years and years ago.

12. What’s the weather like today?
High fog this morning. Patchy clouds the rest of the day. Pretty warm, even when the wind blows.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?
Otherwise, it depends. I like the pumpkin flavor for a while, but tend to eat too much of it too fast and don't want any. Same with peppermint when it comes out. Chocolate, or any of the chocolate derivatives (rocky road, chocolate fudge, chocolate with peanut butter ribbons), is always good. Vanilla has its moments, too.

14. What excites you?
Other than the things that get me hard, I don't know. Right now, I can't think of anything that makes me feel excited. Yes, thinking about riding in a jet at supersonic speeds is exciting, but since it's not going to happen, it doesn't excite me.

15. Do you want to cut your hair?
Yes, actually, I do.

16. Are you over the age of 25?

17. Do you talk a lot?
When I talk, I think I talk a lot. To answer whether or not I actually talk a lot you would have to ask people who know me and have had conversations with me.

18. Do you watch the O.C.?
Christ, no!

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?
I knew someone named Stephen in elementary and high school (same guy) and there are people named Steven on TV and in movies, but I don't actually know them.

20. Do you make up your own words?
As far as I can tell I made up "oxymoronical" the other day.

21. Are you a jealous person?
On occasion.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’.
Aaron, but I don't really talk with him any more and only see him at weddings of other friends and such.

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’.
Can't think of a single one, but I'm pretty careful about who I call "friend."

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list?
No mobile phone, if that's what this relates to.

25. What does the last text message you received say?
Well, without a cell phone, it's quite hard to check.

26. Do you chew on your straw?
If there's nothing left to drink and I'm bored.

27. Do you have curly hair?
Above or below?
No, this white boy does not have a jew-fro.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to?
My apartment, I suppose.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life?
To me or to others?
I choose the I&A officer.

30. What was the last thing you ate?
A fun-size Nestle's Crunch.

31. Will you get married in the future?
My internal Magic 8 Ball says, "Outlook not good."

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks?
In the Shadow of the Moon, but it's also the only movie I've watched in the last two weeks.

33. Is there anyone you like right now?
Omigod, I, like, so like, like, so many, like, people that it's, like, hard to, like, know where to, like, start.
Or, no.

34. When was the last time you did the dishes?
Last night after I was finished watching TV, but before I got into bed.

35. Are you currently depressed?
Not really, no.

36. Did you cry today?
My balls have remained un-kicked and my eyes dry.

37. Why did you answer and post this?
Several reasons:
Jazz did it, and I want to be like the cool kids.
It's an easy post.
Procrastinating starting my NaNoWriMo typing.
I don't want to do any actual work.
More, if I wanted to think harder.