Musings on the Path: Star Trek, Tactile Life, & Animals

This morning was one of those ‘golden moments’ where everything was exactly right. The air was cool and wet and light, the atmosphere was something that existed as you walked through it, birds chirped and insects buzzed with perfect clarity, and the green life of the trees and the plants that surrounded me was a pulsing, living thing that I could feel intersecting and connecting the entire world. Oh yeah, one of those mornings. Brilliantly backlit by Pink Floyd, the fact of my existence was a miracle and I felt calm and buoyant on my feet, mixed in with a little silliness bordering on joy. Fuckin a, do I love nature.


Randomly, a really fantastic scene from the new Star Trek movie popped into my head and made me laugh right out loud. If you’re a fan of the new series of Star Trek movies, I absolutely recommend this one. The scenery is gorgeous, all the small details of the plant and animal life is given such loving attention that you can feel the alien-ness of it all while still recognizing its integral nature within its environment. I carried my Chekhov button with me (I can do zat!) in a tiny homage to Anton Yeltsin, who died in such a weird and wasteful way and it sort of broke my heart a little; that kid was really great in every film I saw him in, so he was one of those people whose names make you happy every time you see them pop up in the opening credits. Anyhoodle, it’s also a really great story, very plot driven, and funny as hell.


I have a tendency in my walkabouts to splay my hands on big, cool looking trees. There is something so powerful about looking at a tree trunk that is so big around that it would take two of you to encircle it, to feel the roots delving underneath your feet, to tilt your head back and look up and up and up, gnarly limbs extending towards the clouds and leaves dappling everything with odd shadows. It struck me this morning that there are a lot of things in life that forward progress is robbing of tactile nature. Now, I am neither a technophobe nor a technophile (since auto-correct doesn’t say this is not a word, I will count my guess lucky); I own smart TV’s and smart phones and a laptop, and I use them frequently for social media and cat videos. However, I cannot help but feel sadness for the people who lost out on the nature of life before the internet and instant almost everything. There is a huge difference between pulling an LP out of a sleeve and fitting the needle into the groove, or trying to rewind a cassette tape to the exact spot you’re looking for, that satisfying click every time you hit a button, and silently typing your choice into Rhapsody or clicking next on Pandora. Or books. Using the card catalog to find what you need at the library, running your fingers across the wall of spines as you locate your X marks the spot, the crinkle of opening a new book or the cracking of an old binding, the smell, GOOD LORD THE GLORIOUS SMELL OF BOOKS. It is sad to me that there is now a chasm between every day life and its tactile nature, a disconnect between the things that bring us joy like music and words.


Finally, I am always grateful when cool animals hang out with me during my walks. Today I felt like freakin Snow White, man, every time I turned around there was an animal that normally doesn’t chill out super close to humans right by me. Raccoons, chipmunks, an adorably huge eyed bunny that looked as if it hopped right out of an animated kids movie, and a super great blue heron that somehow managed to combine grace and gawkiness as it slowly high-stepped away from me, searching out tasty bugs to snatch out of the water before opening it’s awesome wing span wide and gliding away over the top of the water.


Today is a good day. I’m still listening to Pink Floyd.

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I am Perfect(ly Imperfect)

I am perfect(ly imperfect)

My kitchen floor, you could eat off it (if you’re current on your tetanus)

The dinners I deliver, delightful (if you consider mayo and cardiac arrest a side dish)

My appearance is impeccable (I forgot about that stain, shut up)

And my feet, my lovely feet, so pampered and feminine (for a Hobbit)

I awake every morning with a proper attitude (a wonderful day starts with the thought, what the fuck, this shit again)

And always think to myself what can I do for the world today (that will not involve too much actual humanity)

I take excellent care of my cats (telling them I will murder them and make coin purses out of their ears if they steal food off my plate one more time is tough love)

And as a mother I know no equal (every time he leaves, my parting line is ‘No hospitals, No cops, anything else we can deal with’)

I think you will agree.

I am perfect(ly imperfect).

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Promises, Promises


For some reason, saying that year out loud actually sounds like we’re in that ‘future’ time zone. It seems to fit better with the sci-fi feel of those tales from the past, the ones about the distant future and all the bizarre but accepted inventions and ideals that would populate it. Saying 2016 out loud, sitting at my laptop in front of a shaded bedroom window, makes me feel like if I twitched the curtain back I’d see not my typical courtyard but the black expanse of space, dotted with stars and asteroids; that my comfy red bathrobe is really a spacesuit and my coffee really some artificially grown bean that bears no resemblance to anything natural.

2016. I’ve been watching and reading a lot of futuristic fantasy things lately.

I’ve never been a sentimental sort. Symbolism and tradition are things I don’t connect to very deeply. I was born to question everything, and I think this had led me to a fundamental belief from which spring most of my philosophies- everything is made up. We are a planet full of silly creatures playing pretend. Time is a thing that we’ve created to exert a sense of order over things, and calendars are nonsensical boxes that symbolize days that were created for the same purpose. I find this to be an incredibly freeing sense of things. I believe in the Earth and the natural order of things. I’m a tiny bag of blood and water, stuck to a giant spinning rock, surrounded by stars and infinity.

2016. The number doesn’t mean anything to me, really, but boy do I love the way it sounds.

I think this strange belief of mine, which basically boils down to ‘nothing matters, and so everything does’, is why I really loved something I read this morning. It was about making promises to yourself as opposed to resolutions. Make promises to yourself, instead of imposing demands. Offer yourself a chance to do things for yourself and not to yourself.

2016, a year for promises.


I promise myself…that every time I go to light a cigarette, I will think first. That I’m stealing minutes from myself to enjoy this tiny little life I was gifted with and am terrified of losing, that I’m stealing time that my son gets to spend with me and I with him. That I am risking the terrifying monster of cancer, what that monster would do not only to me but to those who love me, to our bank account and our psyche, and the demands it would put upon those that I would never wish to inconvenience. I will think of vanity, that each puff sucks calcium and strength from my bones, and makes my hair smell, and will eventually deepen the wrinkles around my mouth until they grow to resemble a tightly cinched drawstring bag, as it steals my healthy lung tissue and the elasticity from my skin.

I promise myself…that I will turn to fidgets and tips and tricks and to overcome the idiotic and irritating disorder called trichotillomania that drives me, without thought, to pull out my own damn hair. I’ll pick up my little Buddha and rub his belly instead.

I promise myself…that I will write. Be it in a journal or on a napkin or on this cool little light up keyboard that I’m banging away at now for the first time in months. Even if it’s ugly or small or terrible, I will write. That I will draw, that I will create, that I will remember how to bask in the joy of dancing even if it’s only to boogie in front of the kitchen sink while I wash the dishes.

I promise myself…that I will pay attention. To the way the cold air blows through the window and how it feels on my face, to the way that the bleached out sky looks the cover of some cheesy 80’s dystopian future paperback novel. To people when they speak to me, even if I’m not that interested in what they’re saying. To the way the warm little fur-covered fat ball of cat feels when it snuggles into my lap. To how fucking glorious it feels to step into a blistering hot shower. To how inherently happy I feel in random moments, and to how the melancholy moods crack open my soul just a little bit more to empathy.

I promise myself…that I will practice mindfulness and gratitude. I will try to slow the hell down, to do things one at a time and stop pretending that multi-tasking is actually productive. I will try to remember to taste the food that I eat, and be thankful that I have it. To be grateful for everything, even the small things, like hitting every green light on the drive home.

I promise myself…that I will remind myself over and over again of what I meant when I got a tattoo that says ‘make your choice‘ – to live from intention and not from habit.

I promise myself…that I will do more than dip my toe into the stream of consciousness that is my truest self, instead of watching it rush by me, lapping over it’s banks and thinking, huh, I bet it would be fun to ride those rapids to wherever they’re going in such a hurry.

I promise myself…that I will remember the joy of the journey, and let go of the fear of an unknown destination.

2016. The year of promise.

Categories: Non-Fiction Nonsense | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Live Blog: Elfen Lied, episode 1, Begegnung: Encounter

There is a severed arm on the floor and a prisoner in some sort of large mask/helmet that looks Predator-ish being held in a giant metal birdcage thing.   

Whoops, somehow the guard let her telekinetically tear his arm off and levitate his keys and…now he’s dismembered. Holy shit, that’s a lot of blood. 

Silly administrative womenfolk having chatty workplace conversation in a cafeteria. Apparently she’s a foolish woman who requires notes to remember how to take the garbage out and serve coffee. Harrumph.   

More guards with machine guns come running as a loudspeaker announces shut down. Due, I’m assuming, to the assorted and sundry decapitated heads/arms/torsos that are flying everywhere DUDE SHE JUST KILLED A GUY WITH A PEN…holy shit, that is A LOT of blood.  Also, she’s naked now. There is no reason for it, they just like drawing her naked. ( Even later, when she’s given clothes, she apparently likes to pull her shirt over and flash an impressive tata. Dude, it’s lazy writing if you can’t even bother to come up with some sort of story to go along with the fact that you like to draw boobs. )

(I am 4m 54s into this episode)

Naked redhead in a mask ain’t impressed with your firepower. How insulting to your manhood. 

I think this is severed head number eight. I assume this is how the voice actor will be named in the credits. Also, this is the head of the silly woman who can’t make coffee. They introduced a character for the sole purpose of showing her as an ineffectual giggler and cutting her head off. Lame. 

Now we’re aboveground in a normal people place and some chick named Yuka missed her cousin Kohta at the train station but finds him by their old childhood haunt and drags him to look at the ocean. Not sure why she thought it would be fun as some serious foreshadowing of a tragic event immediately pops up in a flashback of him being rude to his adorably big-eyed little sister as she tries to show him the seashells she picked up. 


Whoop, that’s all for calm; naked-telekinetic-psychopathic-murder-chick walks up onto the beach towards them from out of the ocean. 

Um, apparently the bad lady Lucy has cat-like ears. Not like she hears really well, but actual, physical cat-like ears. She doesn’t seem so murder-happy now, they’re just gonna go ahead and take her home. 

She just keeps running around saying ‘Nyu’ and now she just peed all over the floor and I can’t stop laughing. 

Back to the Bloodbath Bunker for cryptic statements:  

and an introduction to the government mandated sadist who will be sent to hunt Lucy down and shoot her dead. Cos evil’s not evil if someone with a title and a clipboard and prolly wearing glasses says nah, brah, you’re cool.    

Back aboveground, and more flashbacks of a day at the beach. We find out Kohta’s little sister died of ‘a disease’ and he pulls out a pink sea shell, his only momento from their last happy time together. You get one second to ‘aw’ for the feels and then…DUN DUN DUNNNN…

Kohta freaks DAFUQ out and Nyo (they’ve decided to call her by the strange cat noise she makes) heads for the hills, while Yuki tries to chill erryone out and says she prolly just did it cos looking at it made him sad. 

Jump to a military paddy wagon full of soldiers on their way to find the cat-eared-floor-pissing-murdering-telekinetic-Lucy-Nyo. The machismo is so thick I’m surprised they’re not actually talking with their dicks.   

So, that’s episode 1. I got high praise infused recommendations for this one and I was looking forward to starting it. I must say that I didn’t really get drawn into the story too much. I really love anime/manga, and I have zero issues with gore, violence, nudity, sex, etc. IF IT SERVES THE STORY. Like, dude, you’re working within an animated medium which means you can create whatever you want to make it all come together.  Bums me out when they just flash the sex and violence with no meat. 

Update: I decided to start Tokyo Ghoul instead, and I am IN LOVE with it so far…

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this morning I saw a little old man, pulling his newspaper from the bin at the end of his driveway. Tufted white hair sticking every which way, in black and white checkered pajama pants and a t-shirt. He looked like an adorable little gnome that just woke up and crawled out from a hundred year nap.

Three birds sat on a telephone wire, nudging each other and jockeying for space. They weren’t little, but not surprisingly, Bob Marley is now stuck in my head.

I saw a handsome guy walking two boxers (the dogs, not the pugilists), and I was admiring his dogs I realized he thought I was admiring him, as he offered a wave and a tentative smile from across the street. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) when I’m inside my head in observation mode, I forget that other people can see me when I’m staring. This has caused untold awkward moments over the years, that thankfully usually end with a laugh.

I watched the sunrise through the trees from a dark canopy of leafy branches, I swear I felt it break over the horizon and little dappled pockets of golden warmth popped into existence all along the forest floor.

I like to stop on this little bridge in my wanderings, because morning, noon, or evening, the light is always it’s own sort of perfect.

At this very moment I am exultant, as I have crossed paths with a woodpecker. There’s something about those birds, about their ridiculous drilling noises, the way that they hop up and down the tree like a phone company guy in a harness scooching up and down a telephone pole. I am also, alas, lamenting the third cup of coffee I had this morning as I am currently about a half an hour away from a restroom 😬

Here’s some giant leafy thing that looks like wrinkly elephant ears.

I saw a cardinal, a tiny spot of brilliant red amidst the green, but it flew off before I could frame up the picture. Cardinals were my great grandma Cora’s favorite bird, so it’s always a random treat when one alights nearby.

I don’t have enough time for a sit-a-spell on my favorite thinking log, what with the whole veering off course looking for a porta-potty in the middle of the woods, so here’s a photo I took of it a few weeks ago:

This is my companionable companion, Bob, who hangs out with me there. I imagine that Bob was the drunk friend who says, nonono, I’m totally fine, just let me chill here for a bit and twiddle my fingers in the water…

This has been a free-flow real-time bit of nonsense.

Categories: Non-Fiction Nonsense | Tags: , | 3 Comments

What even is life?

I wrote the text below a mere three months ago. I saved it to my Drafts folder and promptly forgot all about it. Reading it now, I feel that same emptiness, but in an entirely different manner. In breaking myself down to my bare bones, I have become simplistic. I go out into the woods and walk around, and just smile like an idiot. I talk to the birds running along on their stupid skinny little stick legs, I feel privileged when I catch glimpses of turtles or chipmunks or dear just feet away from me. I can sit on my favorite thinking log and watch the water for an hour without realizing more than a minute has passed. I talk to people again, although at heart I am and will always be a solitary sort of person. I still have no idea who I am, but I’ve decided I like it that way just fine. Who you are is, for me, a fluid definition and I operate better without a game plan. I still don’t know what in the flippity fuck I’m doing, but whatever. I’ve made it this far without a clue.


I hadn’t realized how much damage had been done. When you view things through the fuzzy inner veil of your own brain, you miss subtleties within the overall frame of the picture. It’s easier to breakdown the end result into specific This, This, and This, but if you don’t follow the leads back, if you don’t acknowledge every step you took on the rickety rope ladder and what those reverberations birthed. you just can’t see.

I sat in my car after work, parked nose in at a lot in the valley. I had a new book to read, given to me by my boss, who had thought I might like it. Our winter has been so long and so dark that when I was gathering my things at five to leave, I felt like I was cutting out early since the sun was still so high and bright in the sky. I have been stuck in the rut so long of running out of work, hell bent on getting home and into my bedroom as quickly as humanly possible. That was it, that was the extent of my desire for life. To get to work on time, and to get home, with as few obstacles in my path as possible. I didn’t want to stop at the store. I didn’t want to detour or deviate. I had lost all desire for most everything but comfy pants and a lack of disturbance.

But everything had become disturbing to me. Kids playing outside my window made me feel like I was under attack. Loud noises from the upstairs neighbors made me mad, they were encroaching on this tiny crafted universe of order and control. The smaller I made my world, the smallest possible target I presented to the hardships of the outside world, the more even of a keel that I felt I was on. I just wanted to drift on a raft down the middle of the river of life, not doing or thinking or creating anything, not forced to deal with a single hardship.

What a craptastic life I have been pretending to live. This is no even keel, and this is no life. This is apathy and depression and anxiety. This is sadness, and despair, and fatalism. This is empty.

I am peeling away the layers of illusion that I have about myself, stripping the skin off to get down to the foundation of who I am. Otherwise, I will never be able to figure out exactly who I want to be. I need to be honest, and starting empty is the only way to fill the vessel with shit that makes sense. One of the hardest truths in life to realize and accept is that nothing means anything. It just doesn’t. Everything is made up and we all end up dust, and with a scant few exceptions, we will not change the course of the world. I think that for a long time, I thought that I was meant to be one of those people. Who knows, that may have been a fork in my road that I could have travelled down, had I not made any number of turns at other crossroads that sent me to where I am now. At this moment, I don’t know who I am, what I want, or what in the flippety fuck I’m doing. I need to be okay with that before I can do a goddamn thing.

I’m tired of who I’ve become. I need to get out of all my old patterns and step consistently out of my comfort zone. Before I can plan for the future I need to live in the moment. Not that carpe diem shit, I’m 38 and have already lived so many lifetimes defined by other people and my own skewed perceptions of myself that the whole extreme Xgames version of living every day to the fullest is a bit beyond my scope. I want to love who I am, and live what I love.

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey


Aliens are not really on my list of favorite literary tropes, and I’ve honestly not read much involving them. I’ve always kind of taken it for granted that they exist in one form or another, but it’s not the kind of thing I daydream about, or worry whether or not the government is keeping the truth under wraps. I agree with Mulder that the truth is out there, but it can stay out there for someone else to find. So the only reason that I picked up Rick Yancey’s book yesterday was because the top review on the back cover was from a guy named Justin Cronin, who is an author that my IT guy at work has been recommending to me for some time (I ordered his book The Passage on Amazon, and am eagerly awaiting delivery next week). I flipped to a random page to see if I dug the writing style, and zoomed in on this line: ‘Sometimes in my tent, late at night, I think I can hear the stars scraping against the sky. That’s how quiet it is.’ I fell in love with the imagery and forked over $10, then stayed up til midnight devouring the first 300 pages, only putting it down to sleep when I realized my comprehension skills had already gone to bed without me.

From a brief vignette that begins the book, the reader already knows the subversive tactic that the aliens are using to begin their invasion, years before this story actually starts, so we’re a step ahead of the characters. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about Yancey’s story-telling style is that while the book is rife with plot twists, his foreshadowing allows you to get there on your own, without trying for any gimmicky GOTCHA! moments.

Aliens are invading Earth. Except, not really. No one has actually seen one, as far as they know, and there’s been no communication or visitation, just a Mothership floating up there in the sky for all to see. For 10 days, the world watches and waits, discusses and ponders and theorizes, parties, takes to the hills, hunkers down. Then, the 1st wave strikes.

We enter the story in the middle of the 4th wave of the alien invasion, in a tent in the middle of the woods, listening to the first person narrative of a girl named Cassie who is wondering whether or not she is the last human being alive on Earth while she snuggles with a teddy bear, and an M16. Cassie’s voice is strong, in turns childish and self-aware, defiant and melancholy. Pretty much exactly how you would think a teenager would feel, alone, with the whole world crashing down around her ears. We quickly witness what is an inescapable turning point for her character development, while being given a glimpse of the terrifying place the aliens have pushed humans to, with horrifying results that you can nonetheless relate to. You feel something along the lines of, well, that was awful…I would have done the same thing.

In what I feel is something akin to a magic trick, Yancey takes us from perspective to perspective, from the past to the present and back again, without leaving you fumbling to remember where and when you are. Through the eyes of those who have already witnessed it, the previous waves of the invasion are leaked to us during the present time frame, allowing a deeper understanding of where the characters are coming from, and what influences their choices. The backstory is full and rich and alive, and in the hands of a lesser author would probably have required another two books to flesh out.

The 1st wave was an EMP strike so potent that around the globe, everything just stopped. Cars crashed, planes fell from the sky, cell phones and electricity were no more. Hundreds of thousands died, and the world struggled to comprehend, to regroup. The 2nd wave was a cleverly designed strike, using the Earth itself to do the dirty work – a giant spike, twice the size of the Empire State building, dropped from the atmosphere to plunge directly between already shifting tectonic plates, causing a ‘natural disaster’ that eliminates billions more. I don’t want to ruin the fun of learning all of the aliens diabolical yet methodical plotting, but I will say this – after essentially herding all the remaining humans together, the 3rd wave strikes and leaves only 1 in 3 humans still standing. The 4th wave will hurt your heart, and by the time you discover what the 5th wave is, you’re already in the middle of it, and wishing you could take up arms and join the rally against this fictitious enemy. Just when you believe that help has arrived, the already learned lesson that you must question everything and trust nothing but your own instincts is driven home ever deeper.

We also get first person narrative accounts from other characters, all of whom will tie together by the end of this 1st book. There’s Ben Parish, Cassie’s former classmate and the unrequited love of her life since 3rd grade. Sammy, Cassie’s five year old brother, the only living family member she has left. Then, there’s Evan Walker. A Silencer, a member of the invading alien force. Except, not really. All of them have had their own separate and individual journeys through this new landscape, and we’re given a birds-eye view from their perspective, as well as in relation to Cassie. We’re introduced to characters that will get their own first person narratives in the 2nd book, The Infinite Sea (also in my Amazon shopping cart), as well. I am especially looking forward to Ringer, a crack-shot girl whose smile was the first thing she lost, who meets Ben, aka Zombie, when they’re assigned to the same squad at Camp Haven.

The story leaves us at a place where we have heroes to root for, fallen to mourn for, and an epic battle waiting on the horizon.

Not only does Yancey write teenagers well (where so many authors try way too hard and completely miss the mark), he writes humans well; men and women, adults and children, all seem natural and real. The action is gripping, the emotions palpable, and the aliens, well, I hope that actual aliens don’t hear about this and get any ideas. Again, I haven’t read or even watched a lot of things in the alien/extraterrestrial genre, so I don’t have a lot of comparative material to work with. Within my limited exposure, though, this is an original and unique conceptualization of the alien horde. Their reasoning for coming to the Earth may be one that you’ve heard before, but the amalgamation of how they are, and the way that they go about their nasty business, is creative and interesting. You find that you can’t help but have a grudging respect for their tactical prowess.

At 457 pages, this book is an actual novel, and not just a tease to lead up to the next in the series. I think that happens much too often anymore, as everyone now seems to think that just plain old writing a good book isn’t enough if they’re not creating a ‘phenomenon’ within the genre, and they end up stinting on one just to pull you into the next.

I could not be happier I picked up this book.

Categories: book reviews, Non-Fiction Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Mailing Factory

He just wants to wash his hands. Why won’t they go away, leave him be, let him wash his damn hands? The vein is throbbing in his temple again, he can feel it and he knows that anyone who looks at him will be able to see it, writhing like a worm under the thin skin. Any attention is unwanted attention, but anything that draws attention to his tenuous grasp on control is doubly so. If they would just stop, if they would just be quiet and let him scrub under his fingernails, he knows he could breathe through it, that he could get that vein back under control where it belongs. Why won’t they just give him a minute? He hadn’t intended to run behind schedule this morning, but when opportunity presents itself, well, he would be ungrateful if he didn’t take advantage of it. If he had just gotten here one minute earlier, if he had been able to wash his hands before clocking in, he wouldn’t feel like they were on fire, he would be able to lose himself in the repetitive whirring of the laser printer and let the beast sleep for just these few hours. Why won’t they go away?


Alex glanced over at Tobias, a little disdainful, a little fearful. The strange little barrel chested man stood at his ink jet machine for eight hours straight every day; he didn’t take breaks, or go to the food truck for lunch with any of his co-workers. Alex honestly wasn’t even sure if he’d ever seen Tobias go to the bathroom during a shift. It was no skin off his nose, either way the time allotted for breaks was deducted from the payroll, but it was weird, and Alex liked things to slot neatly into their places. Tobias didn’t slot neatly into anything, including the ill-fitting outfit he habitually wore everyday.

Mentally shrugging off the uncomfortable feeling that always floated around him when he was near Tobias, Alex turned back to the prospective customers. “As you can see, this machine basically runs itself. An experienced operator can have it programmed within ten minutes, and, depending on the paper stock you choose, have it running a minimum of 250 addresses per hour. I’m familiar with your market. I know that your location does corporate mailers and individual store flyers approximately every two weeks, which is why I’m showing you this particular machine. For the volume you guys deal in, it’s a perfect fit. We run three straight shifts here, so we’d be able to run your jobs 24/7, which I happen to know your current business associates cannot do.”

“Mmmmm.” Robert made a non-committal sound. He was pretty sure that Alex thought his little smiles were ingratiating, when what they were, were smug and unduly self-satisfied. He wished that he could do business based on principle, because he really didn’t want to shake the smarmy floor manager’s hand again. Alas, what they were offering would shave off about 25% from his marketing costs, and Robert did love himself a tidy little bonus at the end of the quarter. Still, he didn’t want to make it too easy. He stepped forward, peered over Tobias’s shoulder at the shiny paper currently whizzing across the mini conveyor belt and slotting itself into neat bundles. “With a job running this fast, what’s your procedure for quality checks?”

This was a typical question, and as he hadn’t intended it to be a slight, Robert was a little taken aback at Tobias’s reaction. He watched his shoulders stiffen, his hands flex over the machines controls and then squeeze into fists. He swiveled from the waist, slowly, making it look more like a contortion than a turn. His face mere inches from Robert’s, he growled at him, low and threatening.

“Tobias!” Alex, shocked, quickly stepped forward and tugged at Robert’s arm, pulling him back a step. “What in the hell, man? I’m so sorry,” he continued, looking over at Robert. “I, uh, I, I don’t know what, I don’t…” he trailed off. “I’m so sorry,” he repeated. He gestured the two men back towards his office, indicating he would join them momentarily. He took a few deep breaths, completely unsure of his next move. There had been something animalistic and frankly a little terrifying in the look behind Tobias’s eyes, and his managerial training at the Lane Williamson School of Business had not equipped him to deal with frightening employees who growled at customers.


As Robert closed the door to Alex’s fastidious little room of the ruler, Jacob burst out laughing. “What in the actual fuck was that? That guy seriously looked like he wanted to bite a chunk out of your face!” He tucked his longish, sandy blond hair behind his ear. “Sorry, I know it’s not really funny, but that was maybe one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen.”

Robert was a little more shaken than he had realized at first. Jacob had hit it on the head, though, he thought. The guy had given off a vibe that said that two seconds more would have had him doing just that. “I really think he wanted to. I really think that guy wanted to bite my face off.” His voice was a little unsteady, and that irritated him. “Some odd violent tendency working at a mailing factory wanted to bite my face off because I asked him a question about an ink jet printer.” He supposed he was trying to normalize the situation by saying it out loud, stating it as fact, but that didn’t make it any less strange, or make him feel any less uncomfortable. He wandered over to the little window that looked out on the shop floor, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jacob as they watched Alex actually wring his hands as he debated what to say to Tobias.


Alex stuttered a few times, still not knowing what to say. Tobias had turned back to his machine, pulling a stack of brochures from the sorted bundles, performing the very quality check that Robert had asked about. Alex could hear, very faintly, that he was still growling softly, and that the hands that normally flipped so deftly through the papers that he didn’t even have to stop the machine to re-load the feeder were shaking. “Tobias,” he said. “It’s time for you to go.” He hadn’t known that those were the words that were about to come out of his mouth, but discovered as he said them that there really was no alternative. An employee who growled at prospective customers, one who behaved threateningly, well, that just wasn’t someone that he could in good conscience keep around. Decision made, he spoke more firmly to the man who hadn’t acknowledged that he was being spoken to. “Tobias, you have to leave. I’m afraid that the behavior that you just displayed is unacceptable, and you’ll need to shut the job down and go home.”

He didn’t even have time to scream.


“Holy fuck!” Jacob grabbed Robert’s wrist so hard he felt his bones grind against each other, and started yelling so fast that his words became one long litany of breathless profanity. “Holy fucking shit holy fucking shit holy fucking shit what the fuck jesus fucking Christ what the fuck!”

Robert yanked his arm free and dove for the phone on Alex’s desk, but halfway there he decided locking the door first would be prudent, and changed direction in mid-lunge like an ungainly bird that had forgotten how to fly. He jabbed at the locking mechanism in the door knob a few times before he actually managed to engage it and ran back to the phone. He punched in 911 and danced from foot to foot while he waited for the operator. “Jesus, Jacob, what’s the fucking address here? I don’t know where we are, I don’t remember where we are!” He looked around wildly, there had to be letterhead, a business card, something. “Jacob!”

“911, what’s your emergency?”

There was reverberating thump behind him, and even though it was the last thing he wanted to do, Robert turned to face the window. He saw Jacob hunkered down on the floor below it, trying to retch quietly, and as his eyes slowly tracked up the first explanation his brain provided was that obviously someone had spilled a can of red paint all over the man who currently had his palms splayed out against the glass.

“Hello, this is 911, what’s your emergency?”

Red spattered teeth bared in a grin, and Robert thought distantly that it was strange that he even got paint in his mouth, that had to taste awful. “I, yes, I have an emergency.” He stopped and gaped as the monstrosity on the other side of the please dear god thick paned window opened his mouth wide and hocked out what Robert thought at first was just a mouthful of blood. “A man just spit out another man’s nose.”


Tobias loped away, heading for the docks and an escape route where the security cameras were broken and only left up for show. He would have thought that this morning’s unexpected bounty would have kept him full for a few more days at least, but all of a sudden he was just so damn hungry.


Brought to you courtesy of Skinny Puppy, The Process and Vivi Sect VI

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celestina dances

inside the tree trunks, bleached white and spotted with age, kneel old men. Even though they are creaky, their limbs are sinewy and well defined. They genuflect inside the trunks, feet rooted into the earth, toenails tangled with roots until one is not discernible from the other, heads bent. They have beards, knotted and dread-locked, that dangle between their knees, clumps dancing forward and back with each inhale and exhale. The old men are tired, and wish to retire.

from a distance, a reedy and melodious whistle floats along the breeze, teasing ears and quickening minds long passed into a meditative state. The dawn comes, and spring breaks. The whistling dances closer, and becomes a song. The old men do not move, except for their faces, where smiles spread and break through wrinkled cheeks. Celestina comes.

she pirouettes through the dappled light on the muddy ground, arms extended in graceful arches, gliding as fluidly as water around a rock. The dirt does not bother her; she revels in spinning on tiptoes in the mud, the soft and loving squelch and the smell of good, clean earth drifting up. In her wake, trailing in the notes of her music as surely as the rats enthralled by the Piper, are the children.

Their voices remain hushed and reverential, but within those boundaries of respect bordering on awe, is the joyful shriek and commotion of children everywhere, the ecstasy of being alive. Now that they are in sight of the trees, they are freed from their restraints and run towards them, somersaulting and leaping over each other, good natured shoving and tumbling, laughter everywhere. They dive into the soft ground at the trees bases, wiggling and squiggling until they pop up in between the feet of the old men.

Dirty hands on old cheeks, the children place kisses on each eyelid of each old man, bidding them to open and to see again. The old men smile wider as they welcome the youth to their new homes, returning the kisses with gentle, scratchy bearded pecks before rising slowly to their full heights. Arms elongate and fingers stretch as they lift their hands towards the sky, gnarled knuckles inhabiting branches and twigs, mixing and merging until all is one and the same.

In the heady rush of becoming temporary guardians, the children go wild. They sing and scream and holler back and forth as they dance around their tree’s trunk, inside and out, to the edges of the smallest, barren twig and back. Budding and growth, color seeping into leaves until a riot of color blooms across the forest like a rolling wave crashing across the horizon.

Celestina dance. Spring comes.

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the last cigarette

Yesterday, I smoked my last cigarette. I told myself that, out loud, when I lit it, while I was smoking it, and after I was done with it, lest my brain try to make the excuse, well, but sure I didn’t know that it was my last one, and so I must have one more, just one more, so as to savor the moment. That’s what brains do, when they belong to me. They manipulate excuses like a saucy saboteur, creating a framework that allows for failure before the mission has even begun. Brains. What egotistical assholes.

There have been a few times over the twenty-four years that I have smoked where I felt ready to quit. I hated it, I was tired of the smell and the taste and the coughing, and the plethora of other shit side effects that everyone on the damn planet already knows about. For whatever reason, with a desperate immediacy, I would be smoking again and more often that not at a faster pace and larger quantity, within a day, two at most.

This time? Not so much. I feel the habit lurking, the habit of the act of rolling a cigarette, of smoking one after eating, or with my morning cup of coffee, but not the desire to act on it. My psyche isn’t offering compromises or cheats, it’s not screaming at me or taunting me, it’s just there; like a ghost in the background, it’s floating around, kind of confused and not able to affect the matter around it.

I even told my kid I was quitting, and as he is the person in the world that I am most loathe to disappoint, that’s holding myself to a level of accountability I haven’t previously subjected myself to.

I have high hopes that for the first time in my adult life, I will not be a smoker.

Categories: Non-Fiction Nonsense | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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