Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gimme Fiction: Safety Glass

“At least it was a clean cut,” he said to himself, leisurely scanning the space before him. Shards of broken glass crunched beneath his scuffed black loafers as he transferred his weight from one swollen foot to the other. He held his left hand out before him, palm downward while with the right he pinched at his nose, unsuccessfully stifling the mucous within.

The pollen seemed to get thicker every year and with each passing year it overstayed its welcome by a few more weeks, languidly drifting here and there, feigning the motions of departure but staying on through the already uncomfortable summer months. He could have sworn that only a few years before, once spring had eased its way into summer he had been able to breathe simply and without thought or aggravation, but no more. Maybe he was just idealizing the past. He sniggered at himself. “Been watching way too many daytime talk shows to come up with a phrase like that, pal.”

Beyond the edge of his well-worn shoes, partially mixed with the sprinkles of silvery glass, spatters of blood had welled up in glistening puddles. He stared intently at the blobs, willing them to rumble with unseen life, to converge into a mass of extraterrestrial ooze; but they lay dormant, thinning and drying by the minute, the liquid crimson scabbing to crispy black.

He heard sirens in the distance and though of T.V. cops, quick-witted and hard-boiled with finely manicured fingertips slapping the cuffs on some stereotype hoodlum. They showed the muck on television- the filth and newspaper raggedness of two-room slums- but you could never smell it. That always bugged the hell out of him. It was always helpful to know what a place smelled like.

Shutting his mouth tight, he pressed the tip of his tongue against the roof of his mouth and attempted a sort of suction to pull the mucous from his nose and down through the back of this throat. After a few frustrating tries he gave up, wishing he’d left well enough alone. Now, a phantom formation of phlegm gurgled in his esophagus and he longed for a bottle of soda to clear it out.

Shifting his agitated stance from standing to squatting, he reached out and picked up one of the more sizeable pieces of glass. The edge of the shard was tipped with blood and the dagger feel of the thing in his palm sent a jolt of squeamish electricity to the middle of his vertebrae. It shook him.

“What the hell is a ‘blue-blood’ anyway?” he asked himself as his mind wandered to fight off the inner chill. “Never in my life have I seen blue blood. They say oxygen turns it red, but well, how do they know? Can’t see it without it getting exposed to oxygen, now can they?”

“Concentrate, buddy-boy. Concentrate.” Creakily he resumed his standing position and looked straight ahead. Brown eyes stared back at him. They’d lost their interest, the unblinking eyes, and the whites of them had gone pearly- no, better say milky. Pearly implies hardness and that wouldn’t be right for those eyes. You knew those eyes were made from tissue, malleable and squishy.

He hadn’t meant to think ‘squishy’. In truth, he’d tried not to think it, but it came anyway and then he had images of late night ‘B’ pictures, low in budget but high in laughable gore. Somehow in real life, gore wasn’t nearly so entertaining.

A flutter of a breeze dislodged a section of yellow hair and sent it scampering across the face to which the brown eye belonged. A torn empty paper cup clip-clopped across the ground beside it. Still the eyes did not blink.

Scratching at the wrinkles embedded in his forehead, he moved forward to circle the woman. Running shoes sheltered her feet and black sweat pants had protected her knees from road rash as he body had crashed to the ground. Perhaps a foot away her sinister waxen looking features were posed in a heart-wrenching yelp of terror.

Coming up close to the severed head he bent once more, leaning in to the bloody opening from which, he imagined, her trachea might have whistled had the breeze grown stronger. “At least it was a clean cut,” he said again, this time aloud.

“Christ almighty! What a way to go,” came a boisterous addendum from a member of the crowd gathered on the too green lawns of the suburban street.

Barely hiding a snarl of contempt for the speaker, he rose a final time, staggering slightly in the effort. As he did, he looked up the street where a few yards away the white truck, Safety Auto Glass lacquered to its side, sat like its driver, simpering and small in the wake of the accident.

He shook his head, sniffled and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Funny thing, the glass coming dislodged and flying backwards like that at just the right speed and at just the right angle,” he thought to himself as he meandered up the street away from the shiny vans of the newshounds.

Without needing to turn around he knew that the body was now swarmed with photographers and forensics kids; and probably a good many bugs, too, some invisible and others merely microscopic. He winced at the vision popping up in his mind and turned for a final scan of the scene.

He sighed heavily, the realization almost more than he could bear. She’d seen it coming.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gimme Fiction: Snippet- Sunshine

I never could break the habit of rising with the sun. A hint of daylight and I’m like a sunflower, at attention and looking toward the horizon. There’s a quiet then, a dearth of human activity that I postulate didn’t exist a century ago. People used to need the dawn for motivation; now they need Starbucks or a breakfast burrito.

I can almost believe in the demise of civilization at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning- the streets and strip malls as vacant as an apocalyptic movie set. The world is eerie, vivid, static without the underlying buzz of voices and motors, the soft rubber tread of an overpriced sneaker on the concrete sidewalk. It gives me the heebie-jeebies. As alone as I like to be, a Saturday morning in a city suburb is taking solitude a few steps too far. Maybe it’s a leftover unease from watching Time Enough At Last as a child, but I feel better knowing the others are out there, even if they aren’t invited to knock on my door.

Do I have a point? I can’t seem to recall just now. I may only ramble a while but you’ll have to follow along if you want to know where I was intending on finishing.

Did I mention the “shudders”? No, not “shutters”- shudders. You know, the intrinsic quivering as your mind tells your body something’s amiss. The shudders are a sort of a faint blue with purple in the middle. For me it always starts in the shoulders. They set in about six months ago, a few days before the crash. I didn’t have much concert with them before that. Ferocity takes the lead over fear after you’ve been alone a certain amount of time. I suppose that’d be what the psychs call a defense mechanism.

I don’t need them, but they come.

My mother, she loved flowers- especially black-eyed susans. They looked like her. Her halo wasn’t gold though, more pearlescent. People gravitated to her, told her things, expected her to help them. They liked to make her laugh. I don’t think they even knew why. I’ve never met anyone else who appeared so untainted. I saw her drunk once- was that an adventure! What’s strange is that even melancholy couldn’t dim her radiance. It came from her soul, I think and couldn’t be quashed by mortal trials. It takes sunshine to breed shadows.

The morning was quiet, as I said. Normal, the sky a mild slate with a stretched cotton ball look to the clouds. As I recall, the air was a trifle brisk in accordance with the season. I can’t remember any particular scent. A prairie dog with his black beady eyes was staring from a burrow edging the groundcover.

There wasn’t a rumble or even a tremble. There was nothing. Nothing and then this heat- like getting in your car after it’s been sitting in a parking lot for a couple of hours in August- only this was world-sized. Stifling and comforting at the same time. That’s why it didn’t worry me, to begin with.

It was only later when the heat lasted but the sun died, that I started wonder. All those beautiful flowers wilting, their areolas folding in on themselves like they were hiding from what was to come.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gimme Fiction: Another Snippet

He rapped lightly, already turning the knob, made his way through the semi-darkness through the familiar room. Adrift in the queen-sized bed, curled on her side her form shook and trembled. She was beyond conversation, the covers crumpled in the ferocity of her hysterical grip, one corner of the coverlet stuffed between her teeth to muffle the sobs. He thought of calling out, even opened his lips to speak. Below his gaze she gasped as if drowning.

Not knowing what else to do he laid down alongside her. He moved in close and felt her sink her back gratefully against his chest though the deluge continued. He put his arm around her, protecting the breakdown. Warm tears sprinkled his hand. He pressed his mouth to her head. Her hair smelled of citrus and soap.

She cried for a long while, sometimes with curses and anger, sometimes with hushed mourning. Throughout, he held on and kept quiet. He worried that words would wound her more. When it seemed she was winding down he brushed his knuckles against her clammy cheek. She stopped breathing then and held her breath longer than he thought she should have been able to and then as suddenly expelled the compressed air and with it the tension in her shoulders. She went limp against him- worn out, body and soul.

He gathered the liberated linens, unfurled them and pulled them up over her. From the corners of her eyes, through long dark lashes she warily watched him. He separated a few teary strands of hair from her face, hooked them behind her ear. Her eyelids fluttered and fell. Again he laid with her wrapping himself around her as much as he dared. Her hand rose to rest gently on his forearm. He kissed the edge of her shoulder before dropping his head to the pillow.

In the dark he listened for her breathing to calm, strained to tell if she was crying again or resting. He imagined he could make out the sound of her eyelashes gently scratching against her skin, flickering as she dreamed. What did she dream of? What monsters visited her in sleep- what joys, if any? He couldn’t recall if he had ever seen her smile and mean it.

She was decimated, this thing in his arms, stripped of peace, love, sanity- fragile yet tenacious. Put in her place, he wasn’t sure he could fight the savage darkness that seemed to be always reaching for her. His thumb glided along the path from her clavicle to the cleft of her bosom. She stirred and in sleep her breath whispered his name.

“You’re safe,” he whispered in return. “I’m here.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

This is my kind of fun!

Oh, Neil Gaiman, why are you so awesome?

You really should check out this video.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Song for the Day

Charlotte Gainsbourg- Terrible Angels


I know, I know. I’ve been neglectful. No stray words or thoughts for this lonely blog for many days (weeks?) now. There’s been a touch of infidelity on my side, I have to admit. My attentions have been drawn elsewhere- and darned if I haven’t been feeling a tad more fulfilled than is my general wont, as a result.

Wherefore this miraculous uplift? Ah. Well, you see, I’ve entered the world of fandom.

There I’ve said it. I am a fan girl. I mean this in every sense. I read fanfiction and copy fan art jpegs into a special folder on my computer. I buy fan-designed t-shirts from abroad. I spend a remarkably surprising amount of time looking for pictures that I can blog or reblog on Tumblr. Tumblr! (Speaking of which, can anybody instruct me on how to make a GIF or reply to a message?) And if there happened to be a convention, it’s possible I’d actually want to go.

I should probably be experiencing a shame so deep it turns my ears bright red, and makes me hide my omnipresent pastime like any other addiction; but I‘m having too much fun. Why did no one direct me to this bastion of freakdom before?

There are some truly funny, talented, twisted, remarkable, gentle, goofy, intelligent people out here in fandom and finding this- finding them- has gifted me with one of those rare instances where I feel there’s someplace I can belong. Granted it seems to be amongst disaffected girls between the ages of 15 and 24, but if that’s where I feel almost comfortable, then why shouldn’t I stick around for a bit?

Creativity and black humor meet here (old friends of mine). Loyalty and acceptance parade about in here not caring whether they’re dressed in The Emperor’s New Clothes or trendy hipster skinny jeans. In here ideas are borrowed and shared with equal good grace.

I will always want more of everything, it’s in my nature, but fandom is helping to sate a part of me I have allowed to remain hollow and closed off. And I really, really like filling up that hole.

I'm not deserting you, blog o'mine, I'm broadening my horizons (lame, lame expression).

So, yeah, um, wish me luck :)

Monday, August 29, 2011


As I may have mentioned before I have a bit of a problem with willpower. It comes and goes seemingly on a whim and sometimes I am left holding a bag and a receipt thinking, “Now where am I gonna put this?”

Or I end up staring down the empty abyss that was once a package of cookies thinking “Okay, if I run in place for the rest of the night…"

Or I start a tumblr account so I can squee with the rest of the fan girls who obsess over the same things I do.

Hello. My name is Courtney and I may or may not have a little problem. *sigh* :P

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gimme Fiction: Driven

The darkness was full-bodied, pervasive and hovering, absorbing the shadows cast by the fog-enveloped street lamps as the car slipped through the unusually still and jarringly silent city. Occasional muffled splashing from the tires grinding along the asphalt mingled with the mechanical drone of the taxi’s engine, reminding her that the world remained and that she was a part of it. The driver was reticent, apathetically speeding around black corners into blacker streets, the nuances of each turn mapped in his brain, springing forth not as memory but as instinct.

Romilly reached in to her purse, the mellowed leather soft against her hand as she pulled her cell phone from it. A quick push of a button and the phone blinked to life, the lime green display popping out salutations, time and battery level. The latter bar was full, though the reception indicator revealed the car to be moving out of the city limits. Grimly she noted there were no telling beeps, no unheard messages or missed calls. She let the phone fall back to the protective cradle of her bag.

Soon the car was far past the highway, chasing down the storm, the headlamps a pair of fireflies in the chthonic landscape. She had forgotten this weather, the warm emptiness of it, air transmuting to electricity, water spurting in substantial puddles from the sky- condensed and fluid, storing up all the heat that the trip from atmosphere to ground causes, impenetrable valleys of low-lying clouds veiling road and tree and world.

She leaned against the slick beige vinyl covered bench that was the taxi’s backseat. The man-made material squeaked with her repositioning, the high-pitched platicky sound piercing the unsuspecting silence. The driver looked at her in the mirror sneering, his wrinkled ashen face menacing beneath a tweed tam-o-shanter. She smiled in return, a faint self-conscious spreading of lips smeared mauve with makeup and teeth chalky dull and vaguely white. When he returned his gaze to the now unfamiliar path before him she stuck out her tongue. Impatient and immature, she knew, but could not restrict herself from the pleasure of it.

By the metallic musty smell she could tell he had turned on the heater. She wondered if he were actually cold or if he only ignited the inferno for his fares. She half wished she had the courage to demand he turn it off as the heat and odor combined were working to make her nauseous. Staying silent, she instead rested her head against the muggy windowpane and closed her eyes.

A slideshow of images leapt from her memory to the vacant waiting screen of shuttered eyelids. She was surprised to see a vision of herself first, as she had supposed herself to be eight years prior- slight and trim, hair cut to a trendy bob, funky clothes to match and luminous eager gray eyes. She longed for that girl- for her youth and passion and conviction.

The apparition faded just as she reached for it, morphed into a smaller, more fragile imitation of herself, a being like her but with the traits of another as well. The tiny being possessed a delicate charm and golden brown ringlets and its chubby ivory fingers reached out to grasp her. A startled small cry spurted from her lips. Indolently, her eyes still sealed, she wasted a moment’s reflection to hope the driver had missed her fleeting weakness. So long as he had no inkling of her private waking nightmare, she didn’t mind what else he might presume about her.

Forcefully she pushed aside the dream, refocusing on the tangible, trembling reality of the physical girl, her own daughter, nearly seven and tightly cocooned within the gossamer threads of Romilly’s own doubt, confusion and self-criticism. Mild, uncomplaining Sorcha, upon whom the mother had heaped with fervent loving weight, from work-worn cupped hands, hope upon hope upon expectation. She knew from her own experience this wasn’t fair but couldn’t conceive of another way to keep the girl strong. The car hit a bump and Romilly’s lids jerked open responsively.

Not so very long now. Despite the somber dark beyond the window, she knew from the feel, the slackening pace of the vehicle, the bends and dips of the lane that they were drawing nearer her destination. Destiny. She shook her head as if doing so would break her thoughts free from her mind and liberate them to less restrictive paths. “Stop doing that,” the stentorian voice in her head demanded. ‘Stop thinking those things.”

Once again she readjusted her position in the car, coercing her sluggish posture to atone for its laziness with painful, rigid uprightness. Grown stiff and mildly sore she flexed her fingers, savoring the cracks and pops that tingled in the crooks of her joints. She scratched an itch at her sallow brown brow, wondering how the mechanism that controlled her trains of thought could continue on its haphazard way while her physical self was so worn down that even her toes were beginning to fall asleep.

What she wanted most was to be able to study his face, to read the shades and creases around his hazel eyes and laughing lips (did they still laugh so freely?), to read his intentions like soggy herbal tea leaves and at last know her future. There had been a time when her prospects had been in her own hands and she had made the choices she’d believed rational, reasonable and propitious. She had found however, that sensible choices could be dull, could suck the marrow, the sensuality from life. A little spontaneity, this excursion, for instance, was required to remind her what life was… or might have been.

“Bollocks,” she said half aloud.

“What was that?” asked the cabbie, tilting his ear toward her.

Romilly frowned bashfully and assumed her most professional tone. “Turn in at the first right, just round the next hill. It’s sort of hidden. Easy to miss in this weather. Look carefully.”

He grunted in response, his capped head nodding curtly, but he slowed the car and inclined his form closer to the windshield, clearly taking her recommendation as good counsel.

The house, as they approached, had a mien of long vacancy, cold and broken as she sometimes supposed herself to be. No lamps flickered from the windows, no other cars idled in the drive.

“Are you sure?” the cabbie asked reluctantly as she handed him his fare and made to exit the car.

In answer, she stepped out onto the mud and gravel, slamming the door behind. Then, heels precariously grasping for foundation, she tottered to the porch. Car and driver grumbled back out in to the night.

After a prolonged intake of the moist air she forced a deliberate smile to her lips. The pose felt strained and her cheeks ached as a result. As she tried to convince herself it was merely fatigue she experienced a twinge beneath her rib cage as though her heart had briefly choked on something. “Nerves,“ she muttered as she stared in to the vast darkness and waited.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blue Friday

In tears today. They just keep coming in fits and spurts, hot and liquid, congesting my sinuses and turning at least parts of my face a humiliating red. And all of this for no abnormal reason. There is nothing unusual or different about today. No catastrophe or loss has occurred, but there's a gaping void, nonetheless.

I've warned the coworkers and even laughed as my voice caught in my throat and beads born of virulent disaffection slid down my cheeks and made my chin slick. To myself, I keep saying "Keep it together" and "Get over it." Somehow these little pep talks are just making it worse.

Is there anything more ridiculous than sitting at your desk, randomly whimpering and sobbing and sniffling and not having even the semblance of an explanation to give the people suddenly walking on eggshells around you? The “What’s wrong?”s are just hovering in the air, waiting to be given a voice- and if they do I’m afraid I may scream.

Good thing I’m locked in a box all day.

I either need a purpose or a donut. Or maybe skydiving would do the trick. We’ll see what happens.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Witness Protection

Sometimes I just want to go in to hiding...
and come out as someone else.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gimme Fiction: Wedding

Her dress was of cheap muslin meant to be white, but so coarse it had adopted a jaundiced pallor nearly matching the all over sprinkling of dusty pale sprigs of once-upon-a-time colors of pink and yellow and green- a cheesecloth meadow. Her legs and arms, lightly tanned were bare save for freckles. The thought of air tripping along the gold-brown polka-dots caused a shiver in him. He wondered if he ought to have offered money for stockings.

Above the ample shelf of her bosom her powdered immigrant face smiled broad and flat amid a nimbus of hair the precise shade of a milk pumpkin freshly rent from it‘s umbilical vine. For a moment he thought he could smell the mildewed flesh, see the concave withering shell as it fell in on itself, age distorting it‘s form. His eyes drifted heavenward as his stomach began to churn.

Batting his eyelids against the heat of the afternoon sun he ran his hand through the short shorn dark fluff the army had accustomed him to. Beads of sweat were gathering at his temples like dew on grass. His hand fell away, tacky and tremulous. Soon the office would reopen.

Toward the rear of the car an excited chatter progressed. Veda and Augusta. The two women leaned against the bulging fender fanning themselves with floppy straw hats, gossiping just as if it were any other day. At his elbow, Lidell wheezed, a low whistling tunefully broadcasting from his ill-fitting dentures. “We’re in for it,” the older man offered.

Nodding agreement on the concise weather forecast but with secrets stowed deep in his chest that led his thoughts other directions, he almost smiled. Almost yelled. Almost ran, as they said, for the hills. Almost prayed to the, in his experience, unhearing God up above beyond the great burning blue sky, the gaseous sun, the frigid stars. He ground his molars with such force he thought he might permanently realign his jaw.

At last the man came, parking his faded black car, walking in the leisurely southern style across sidewalk, up steps, fumbling with keys at the door. “C’mon in, folks.” He grinned, magnanimous, comfortable, sagacious.

In gilt even letters, traced and painted with a nimble hand, an inner door read, Ernest K. Floyd, Justice of the Peace. Beyond this door was a room at once dull and bright- not festooned with even a shred of those items which sang of matrimony, no flowers or crepe paper, no rice, unless it was secreted in some drawer or cabinet- but aglow in premonitory light and heat from the bank of windows on one side. The jovial J.P. wedged himself behind a desk, pulling out ledger and receipt books. “Who’s for it, then?”

Augusta blushed, Lidell emitted a chuckle that could have passed for the beginning of a bronchial fit, both backing slightly to the rear. Firm, unembarrassed, Veda stepped up, her chubby dry fingers grasping her fiancé’s wrist as she went. He stood mute beside her as she rattled off answers that Ernest K. Floyd diligently copied down in the ledger.

Again his mind insisted on wandering. He thought of his wanting childhood, the dank gray nights of the war, the muddy shell-shocked days, the heady welcoming return, the utter quiet and blank faces as he tried to find employment, the distracting, boisterous presence of the woman beside him, ready to take him up, believing in her heart that she was doing him the favor, saving the lanky former private from a future of unwomaned loneliness.

In profile he looked at her full coral painted lips, thick soft shoulder, balloon breast beginning to perspire through over-taxed brassiere and off-white dress. His eyes strayed to her stomach, where he imagined he could see the flesh move, grow taught and begin to tear as the outline of a toe formed a hill that pushed out against stomach and dress, threatening to kick it’s way out of the womb.

The time had come. He took his place beside her, repeated the ritual words without a stumble, kissed the rough mouth offered to him which tasted of mint and chicory, felt a hand good-naturedly slap his back and told himself he’d kill her in her sleep if the baby that wasn’t his came out colored.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Study in Pink

Those who know me may have noted that from time to time, I exhibit some behaviors that lean a bit toward the OCD side. As I’ve never been officially diagnosed, who’s to say whether I’m afflicted or not (checking that the front door is locked every time I pass it by is not definitive proof!), but I can say that I tend to get really, really excited and involved in things that manage to attract my attention, to the point where I must collect or attend or spend time (read countless hours) on the internet researching (read stalking) certain people or bands or films or shows or countries or objects.

This may simply be part of my character. Or it may be due to a frequent, recurring boredom which I have no clear concept of how to appease. I’m always seeking the next thing to engage me, mind body and soul. Thank God this is a cluttered world with many distractions to...well, distract me.

In the most oblique way I am trying to tell you about my weekend. Obsession comes in to it because I do what may be construed as silly things as a result of my various infatuations. For instance, I drove to Boulder again this weekend, Saturday and Sunday nights both, to see Third Star. That brings the tally up to three times for anyone keeping score. Three times and 132 miles. For a movie. By myself.

Did I mention that I also cut my best friend short on the phone, practically hanging up on her to make sure I got to the 7:00 pm show on Sunday? She understands a thing or two about obsessive behavior, so I don’t think she was too offended.

On the rare occasion, my obsessions are slightly more fruitful. I love art and design. In fact I spend a lot of time daydreaming about décor, most of which I can neither find (Why, oh why can’t I find the sofa in my head?) nor afford. Out of desperation, this weekend I finally made a piece of my own.

Now, it’s nothing remarkably artistic, but darned if I don’t just love a well-executed (the pun was not originally intended, I promise) representation of an anatomical human skull. I wish I could draw one. Instead I robbed the internet and put my photo editing software to playful work. The hue and repetition of the design give it a street-art sort of vibe, don’t you think?

All right, I’m grasping, but still I have something to show for this weekend as opposed to the usual vague sense of defeat. And it’ll be sort of cheerful, all those rosy macabre grins staring out at me every day. A Study In Pink, if you will (blatant nod to Sherlock, there). Goodness knows we can all use a smile.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Third Star

Adrift as I am already with conflicting ideas and emotions, reviewing Third Star is no effortless task. To begin with, it is not an easy movie to recommend and certainly isn’t one you are likely to see in your local multiplex. For the average movie-goer it is probably too difficult- it has quiet gaps, no true action sequences, hardly any slapstick shenanigans, the characters talk over one another’s lines (in accents, no less) and there is no display of romantic attachment. However, if you take the plunge, if you care to look beyond glam and effects and cheap laughs, if you can stand to slow your pace to consider what life is about, this film will arrest you. It is an artistic endeavor full of beauty and humanity, of grace and friendship, silliness and frailty. It also has some laugh out loud moments.

On its face, it is the simple story of a terminally ill young man (exquisitely acted by Benedict Cumberbatch) who wants to go on one last camping expedition with his best friends (JJ Field, Tom Burke and Adam Robertson) to visit his favorite place. To get there, they wander the sometimes precarious terrain of West Wales and their own disillusioned lives. Adventures, spats, humor and acceptance ensue.

At it's heart, Third Star is a mediation on the choices we make, the time we spend, the things we are willing to do for the people we hold dear.

Knowing the premise, I fully expected to cry and was prepared to do so, tissues neatly tucked in the outer pocket of my purse, and some viewers I'm sure will be moved to tears in their seats, but I found the film too well crafted to elicit an instant reaction. The emotional heft of the story is too subtle and touches a more profound place than can be examined within the 92 minutes of a single viewing. Nearly 24 hours later, I am still attempting to catalog the thoughts and feelings that it's left me with (almost as though I’m going through the five stages of grief) and I feel the tears may yet come.

I watched Third Star in the tiny 50-ish person Boedecker Theater in Boulder, Colorado. Surrounding me were vociferous veterans of independent film viewing who laughed and gasped and responded accordingly to all that was being shared with them during the showing and yet, when the screen went black and the lights slowly rose, there wasn’t so much as a murmur. Instead there was the silence of impact, of people affected. It was a privilege to experience that in a modern cinema.

In May, due to it’s small opening, the production company initiated a project called “Third Star Adventures” to encourage people to share the journeys they’d made in order to see the film. Some people crossed borders, some traveled to different countries, all seemed to come away with an impression, a stirring of emotion. They felt they’d had an experience. I only had to drive 22 miles (in 90 degree weather without an air conditioner) down the highway for the opportunity, and I can’t help but feel that a new journey is just beginning for me as a result.

That, I think is where the beauty of this film lies- in it’s quiet and genuine reflection of human experience. We can all relate to that, can’t we?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I was watching CNBC last night, a documentary called Walt: The Man Behind the Myth, when I heard a term I’ve heard before, but which, during this two otherwise vacant hours resonated with me as it hadn’t before. You Disneyphiles know it. I’m sure you can hear Walt’s warm Midwestern twang uttering it as you read this- “Plus it.” For the uninitiated “plussing” refers to tweaking or adding to an idea, a project, a gag, a piece of art until it is more than you originally conceived it could be- to make something better as opposed to settling for good enough.

As I say, I’m not unfamiliar with the term and while I was watching the show, marveling, really at the inventiveness, the fearlessness, the almost intuitive genius of Walt Disney, the repetition throughout of his special way of asking for more seemed to my suggestion-prone mind to be an edict directed at me.

There you have it. I am so far gone I think I’m receiving messages via bio-docs about deceased entrepreneurs. And what’s wrong with that? You have to take inspiration from wherever it may come.

Anyway, I’m watching and I’m emotional knowing how the story ends and my brain is ticking away, grappling with the mundanity (yes, it’s a real word) of my current situation and I can’t help but ask myself- How can you “plus” your life?

This is not a new question for me, or indeed for many people I know, but the amended phrasing somehow feels as though it might help me gain focus and come at the issue from a different tack. “Plussing” sounds much more creative than “changing“, doesn’t it?

I suppose you infer from my complaining that I have the dullest life imaginable. Not so. I travel, I spend a fair amount of time with people I love and esteem, I’ve volunteered, I work, I plan, I live, yet something is missing. I’ve lost wonder, I think, or rather the ability to find it and share it.

There’s a journey I need to make it seems, to find the thing that eludes me or at least to name it and learn its substitute if I’m not allowed to keep it for my own. Therefore, without a set plan, but with dangerous good intentions and instead of sleeping through the alarm that’s droned on so long my brain has numbed to it’s infernal buzzing, I’m taking action, putting out that first step Lao Tzu went on about. I’m going to try to find the “plus”.

I’m starting with small things, things without that debilitating word “change” attached, things that make me feel I’m progressing in a direction- any direction at all instead of standing still. Last night for instance, I “plussed” my fingernails. They are now a glossy taupe/gray. Tomorrow night I may take in a movie with my bestie(On a school night, by George!) thereby "plussing" a Wednesday night. I know, I'm horribly adulterating the term, but whatever it takes, people! No judgments, please.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gimme Fiction: Snippet

Some things are anecdotes, some stories, some poems, some nearly novellas; others are merely pieces- seeds of ideas, possibly even darlings that need murdered in order to get on with the telling of a tale- the expression of a fuller idea. The post below I'm calling a snippet. It may or may not have relevance. It may never be more than it's current incarnation of a few heavy lines, but the words came and wanted bringing out, so out it comes.

The down in the pillows congested her, but he failed to note it. Daily he glowed- a boy reborn, renewed, rambunctious, pretending that rusticity suited him, while she rejoined in placating mumbles with vacuous comments about the hue of the flowers, the briskness of the air. Nightly he took out his joy in labored middle-aged thrusts on the unresponsive flesh of her ambiguous form, she watching the sallow ceiling, wavering shadows insinuating the forms of leaves and warriors and gremlins on it’s flat water-stained surface. She could almost dismiss the heavy presence of his grunting as her eyes explored the muddy contours of the ceiling’s chimeras, thinking of an alternate life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicken Express

This past weekend was a full plate for me. I attended two whole events! The first was a pre-fourth cookout with friends and family of friends. The second was a casual family wedding. At the former, I felt comfortable and composed as if I had a purpose and a place, a people with whom I belonged. This shindig bucked me up, in fact and left me with the impression that my next event would be easier than I was anticipating.

Oh silly, fleeting confidence.

The wedding was to take place out of state, so my brother and I set out at an inhumanly early hour to get to the airport and on to our final destination (the pic above may give you a clue as to where we went.). I’d love to blame exhaustion for the remainder of that day, but I think we all know the truth. From the moment we reached the airport I watched my brother sparkle and shine, entertaining all and sundry with caustic ribbing and educated (if slightly supercilious) opinions, while I, like a timid kitten, cowered wherever I was least likely to be noticed.

I don’t mean to imply I never spoke- I absolutely did- when expressly spoken to. This shouldn’t reflect on the company surrounding me- they could not have been friendlier. No, the problem was (and is) me. I don’t seem to know how to interact accordingly, you know, like an actual human being. Whenever conversation is broached my brain freezes up, panics and allows my tongue to respond only with succinct (often monosyllabic) sentences, devoid of embellishment. Poor tongue! As a result, people find me cold and move on quickly. I survived the day, but couldn’t help coming away feeling superfluous to the proceedings.

Because of my social ineptitude, I’ve returned from my travels apathetic and distant, choosing to languish in the doldrums, Fleet Foxes, Born Ruffians and LCD Soundsystem providing the soundtrack to my blahs, a trusty bag of M&Ms within easy reach. (I suppose if I’m an alien my candy of choice ought to be Reese’s Pieces, but it wouldn’t be compulsive behavior if it made any sense.)

A smile or two have managed to cross my features these past few days, so I’d like to take a moment to give credit to those responsible:

To Matt and Michaela for being so nice about this here blog;
To Sheri for not being too annoyed by my continuous poking;
To Benedict Cumberbatch for adopting the most fantastic and absurdly awful fake French accent;
And to Susan for being able to take a joke.

Happy Thursday, kids!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gimme Fiction: Interment

The thanks go by like pollen on a breeze, acknowledge only by a few whom, like allergy sufferers, are reflexively responsive. The remainder mull about, secretly wondering when manners will allow them their exodus to less selfless circumstances. Obliging disquiet flits through the room, grazing shoulders in haste as it searches for a candidate to shout “Goose!” at. The most probable nominee is Peter’s Aunt Hildy. With a lacquered surface, all gleaming black from pillbox hat to orthopedic shoes, she seems ready to rain tears and shatter eardrums if the opportunity presents itself. I suspect all she needs do is see me to let loose the floodgate.

I sidle back beyond the white beveled beam of the doorjamb. In a corner Gladys is fighting against rage and her four-year old mewling boy whose only awareness revolves around the procurement of sugar-laden goodies from the tauntingly overburdened table in the dining room. A sigh trembles from my chest as I commiserate with his honest, simple longing. I wish I could fill a plate and put it in his chubby hands.

Instead, I retreat further, turn a corner in to another room, seeking space. Contrary to accepted practice, a house full of people is no refuge for the mourning. Noise seems just to amplify the loss of the one person with whom you found peace; bodies standing stiff as corpses in solidarity reminding you that you stand alone.

Suffocating, stifled, I think “A breath of air,” and wander slyly out back to the kitchen, speculating that the door there may be unguarded. No such luck. Jon stands sentry, or seems to, though his hands are immersed in the flow from the tap and the rush of water should deafen his ears. Still he heeds, senses and pivots on loafered heels toward my hunch-backed cowardice.

His relaxed posture intimidates me, butt up against the counter edge, clammy hands wringing dry against a square of daisy-spotted cotton. A murmur of iron and soap tickles my nose hairs. We’ve never been close, this cousin and I, and now he means to be kind. I offer a short smile, chagrin tattooed on its surface.

“Need a break, huh?”

I nod slowly unwilling to speak, afraid to betray the gurgling lump clogging my airway. My eyesight trails along as he tosses the dishrag to the counter. Every small thing seems to captivate me today. My vision drifts back to find an opposite watchful gaze.

The withered skin on my lips is suddenly a treasure- a welcome distraction to grind between teeth, to chew and rip asunder the translucent flakes from the tender flesh below. I gnaw deliberately so as not to draw blood. More concern I don’t need.

Across the way, Jon shoves his hands in his pockets as though intent to ride out the duration of my silent stay, as though he intends to speak his mind. Desperate to convey that nothing needs to be said, I move toward him, put my hand out to pull open the cabinet nearest his head to retrieve a glass. I feel my muscles, my tendons, my skin tense so close to the warmth of another body whose focus is so deliberately upon me. With a blank mind I regulate my breathing, fill the glass with water and drink.

Jon shifts very little, his brown gaze shadowing my gestures. Out the window a lean Manx cat, the neighborhood scavenger stalks through the overgrown yellow lawn. I imagine I can feel the crunchy wheaten shafts cracking underfoot, scratching my legs. Casually I itch at the area behind my ear.

It’s only moments, a handful of seconds for all of this, but it feels like it drags on. I don’t know what to do to break the onslaught of dawdling time. Behind us at the passage to the dining room, a creak and the nervous clearing of a throat. “Jon. Oh, I hope I’m not interrupting, Sara. Um, Jon, I could use some help with the cooler. Its leaking all over the porch.”

“Marjorie, there are at least half a dozen people out there you could ask to help, so why don’t you go back out there and do that?” I can feel Jon’s head jut significantly in my direction. I look over in time to see Marjorie’s face disappear with an huffy frown.

"You shouldn't speak to her I like that," I remonstrate.

“She’s forever butting in.”

My chin dips to my collarbone and I set the glass in the sink. "That’s what family is for, I guess. You’re standing around here waiting your chance to butt in, aren’t you?”

Jon grins smugly. "The circumstances are a little different. I thought you might want to talk to someone.”

“No, not really,” I answer as frostily as I can.

He propels himself out of his recline, but leans in at my shoulder. The tarry fumes of myriad burned out cigarettes linger on his moist breath. “You can’t shut out everyone.”

“I don’t have to let them all in, either,” I think. Outwardly I glare, daring him with arched brow to continue his sermon. Overawed, or more likely bored, Jon shuffles through the door without another word. I don’t know whether to spit or yell or take up the glass from the sink and throw it at the wall. I clench my jaw and suck in at my teeth.

It’s then that the tears seem most imminent, burning to spill and expose the deep lamentations echoing in the hole of my heart. All day the numb ache has been disguising the seeping memories but the hurt has grown so vast as to burst my chest. Like a novice drunk I hunch over the sink, arms at prayer, shoulders convulsing, ready to spew forth whatever it takes to feel well again.

The counter’s edge bites in to my elbows. As I rock back and forth the burnished steel of the sink sends flashes of ice along my forearms when my skin meets its lip. I try and I try. I grant subconscious permission for the volcano to erupt, but all that comes is a drizzle from my eyes, a miniature river of snot from my flat short nose.

Throwing the glass would have been better, I convince myself. So that’s what I do. With all the ferocity, the bitter useless anger that I can muster I hurl the thing at the wall. There’s a loud bonk, a crash, a splintering sound like shivering bells.

Through the doors they all file in, exclaiming. Peter’s Aunt Hildy goes wild, releasing all the noises and floods that I cannot. Hands and arms fly to her form, to placate, to console. She is inconsolable. Disgusted, I simply shake my head.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mad Dreams

Finally it’s happened! Last night I got the call from Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. All afternoon the office had been awash with excited whispering and I couldn’t help but notice people passing by my desk giving me knowing little grins. “Courtney’ll be next!” I heard at some point; and then the phone rang.

I was in such an agitated state by then that I could barely speak. When I tried to say my name a broken, petrified squeak was all that would come. Fortunately, Mr. Sterling didn’t let my momentary laryngitis keep him from asking the question or acknowledging my acceptance of the offer. As I hung up the receiver a remarkable satisfaction welled up inside of me.

And then I woke up, the gray of early morning clouding my bedroom, the sheets softly rustling as I grimaced, stretched and tried to focus, thinking all the while, “What the hell was that?!?”

Sure, I’ve been known to watch Mad Men from time to time, but apparently it has left more of a lasting impression than I’d realized. I had absolutely no idea I was interested in working for an ad agency, much less one set in the 60’s and run by chauvinistic womanizers who couldn’t get through a day without the nuanced caretaking of the women they take for granted.

Clearly my subconscious is trying to tell me something. Do I have deeply hidden aspirations to be on a television show? Is my desire to be a person of merit so strong that it’s manifested itself in random dreams? Or do I really dig the fashions of the early 60’s and wish I could get away with wearing them?

So many possibilities, yet so few answers.

There is also the strong possibility that it’s just been too hot at night and it’s messing with my head. I love summer! Don’t you?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Writer's Block

Yeah, I know. A few days in and already I don’t know what to write about. Despite the relative anonymity of a thing like a blog, there is still a persistent, naggy voice in the back of my mind yelling “Don’t do anything to make yourself look stupid.” So then I’m stymied. Most of my life has been colored by this negative voice and as a result I’ve kept myself restrained, safe, bored.

Every once in a while I’ve cast off my inhibitions, but only just. I’ve traveled to London alone on a whim, expressly to see a play, but I’m too intimidated to walk in to the local donut shop. Likewise I’ve crossed state lines to see a particular band perform, screamed and yelled and danced, asked for autographs and pictures, commiserated with strangers at a gig, yet I have difficulty finding things to say to my coworkers. I’ll go for a hike but feel self-conscious and out of place walking in my neighborhood park.

What is that? (Really, if you have an answer, feel free to leave a comment.)

The realization of this duality in my nature leads me to ask, do we live better lives if we let our irresponsible sides take over? Can such existence be maintained? Or is it our responsibilities that give wing to a freer spirit, like a gust of wind to a kite, thereby allowing us periods in the heights where we can revel in joys and freedom, but is ultimately too frenetic a condition to be sustained?

Okay, well now I sound like a college student and this hasn’t anything to do with writer’s block anymore, does it? So…um…who’s looking forward to the new Muppets Movie?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How I Fell In Love with The Airborne Toxic Event

Let me be very clear- this is about adoration. This is about long wasted nights and hollow days. This is about poetry. This is about bravery. This is about freedom . This is about jealousy and need. This is about the universal language. This is about The Airborne Toxic Event.

A little while before Christmas 2008, my best friend fell in love with a song she had heard on the radio. It had no hook and she had trouble describing the lyrics and the sound to me. She added the CD to her Amazon wish list and because she likes to share, she found the video and made me watch it.

Of the video, I remember blues and grays and blacks, a quintet of earnest musicians who couldn’t quite decide between an emo or a hipster vibe and a voice almost anemic against the orchestral assault of drums, guitar, bass and viola. I watched. I listened. I felt my rib cage expand as though the emptiness there were being filled. The initially meek voice evolved to a sudden crescendo of sorrow and anguish I hadn’t heard in music for a while. My friend played the video again. And again. The song was titled Sometime Around Midnight.

I went home with a copy of the CD blaring from my Jeep. It lived there for some time.

By the time the band managed to show up for a local gig however, my ardor was waning. While the lyrics and the sound were so arresting, I’m one of those to whom a visual deepens an experience and up to that point I didn’t even have the liner notes for the album and could only watch the Youtube videos from my friend’s Mac (That’s right, I had dial-up. You wanna make something of it?). I needed something more to supplement my interest.

By George, they gave me more! The Airborne Toxic Event- Mikel Jollett, Anna Bulbrook, Noah Harmon, Steven Chen and Daren Taylor- rocked the Ogden that night. And as they performed, as they sang, as they danced, as they jumped from amps, as they jocularly played with and against one another, as they clearly showed they loved their job, they managed to infect me. Some germ or spore emigrated from them and took up residence in this shell I call a body. Truly it was of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” proportions.

How do I know I was infected? Well you may ask. Because I can’t ignore the call of their music. Any song of theirs will instantly absorb my attention, take me trance-like to a place where no one can bother me. Because Mikel Jollett’s voice sounds like home. Because I’m a very shy and reserved person, yet so strong is the need for the spore within me to be near it’s originator I will reach out and touch the band members on-stage and off. Because I pine and buy and collect and photograph and video and read and even with all of this, my need cannot be sated.

I fell hard. Indeed, a few years (and five more shows) later, I am still falling, truly, madly, deeply in love with a band.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


How does one begin these things? I suppose with a fervid love of something or someone, or with the notion of providing entertainment or garnering attention, or perhaps even with the hopes of becoming a provocateur- leaving readers breathlessly waiting for the next naughty tidbit. Well, not to disappoint, but that’s not this, kids. Or at least, it isn’t meant to be, although the mind will run off on it’s own tangents and something witty, wicked, naughty or stimulating may slip in every so often. In general, this will be as most of the genre is- about finding a voice.

My own voice can be menacing, mild, friendly, funny, whiny, sharp, warm, vulgar, empathetic, ridiculous, joyful, melancholy, annoying and even dull; just like all of yours. But that’s the point in this as well- to talk, to write, to share- in an attempt to show that we aren’t singular in our journey. To this end, I will randomly ramble, occasionally seem to have a purpose, wallow in idolatry of select bands and thespians, comment on the human condition (only when I’m very down-spirited, or very riled, I promise), share fiction and post clips and photographs that I like or might even have taken.

There will also be parenthesis by the score. My subconscious seems to adore them and is bent on single-handedly giving them more than their share due during my lifetime. As I have no control over this, I won’t apologize for it. Read around them (or read only what’s in them) if you must.

I can’t promise to be regular in my postings, but we’ll see what this makes of itself; and if you choose to come along, “Please do not pull down on the safety bar, as I will lower it for you“.