Saturday, March 22, 2014

Intern Hunting Season

To celebrate tomorrow's deadline for summer internship application at Y&R Austin, I thought I'd plug our program a bit and give a shout out to all the fantastic mentors and interns who helped us become what ranked the 9th best advertising internship in the world.

Here's the lowdown on our program, straight from our website:

At Y&R Austin, we think that internships should be like the “lab” part of a class. They’re the place where you put into practice what you’re taking notes about all day. Surgeons don’t perform surgery after only reading about it for 6 years! We won’t treat you like “just an intern,” we’ll treat you like a person and challenge you to grow because you ARE an intern…and our interns are great people! Heck, for all we know, maybe it’s someone who looks, thinks and acts just like you.

As an intern at Y&R Austin, you’ll work side-by-side with a mentor in Account Service, Media, HR, Art Direction or Interactive. You will learn by doing as you help them on real projects for real clients with real deadlines. And if that’s not enough, you’ll be invited to attend internal and external meetings and be required to attend weekly seminars that will teach you how an agency functions. So, if you’re looking to improve your faxing, filing and photocopying skills, this may not be the place for you. But if you want to truly learn about advertising from the inside out, we’re currently accepting resumes.

The fine print: The fall and spring internship programs run approximately 15 weeks each and interns will work 12 hours per week for a total of 180 hours in order to receive a completion and/or class credit for the internship. The summer internship program usually runs 10 weeks and interns will work 18 hours per week for a total of 180 hours in order to receive a completion and/or class credit for the summer internship. Positions available in Account Service, Media, Art Direction, Interactive and HR. Occasionally, we’ll take copywriting interns too. Submit your stuff—let’s see what you got! If you are interested in the summer 2014 session, please apply by Sunday, March 23.

Job Requirements:

Junior/Senior standing preferred.

To apply for a position within our intern program, please send the following to austin . internship @ yr . com
  1. A cover letter in the body of an email, NOT as an attachment! What you should attach is your resume. And if you do so as a PDF, you get automatic brownie points!
  2. An indication of which department you are most interested in. If you don’t tell us which department you want to work in, we’ll assume you want to shred paper for a semester.
  3. A link to your portfolio. If, for some reason, you must attach your portfolio, please do so in the form of a single PDF that is no larger than 5MB.

Are you a former intern or mentor? Come to our 3rd Annual Return to Mars Happy Hour on April 16! Confused about what that even is? Here's a blog I wrote in 2012 after the inaugural event.

Wanna read about the time our interns got semi-internet famous after Ryan Gosling showed up at a fundraising event we did advertising for?

Enough of my words. Imma pass the mic to the interns, themselves. Read what they anonymously wrote about our program on their own accord here.

Good luck to all of you who've applied for our program. Thank you for thinking of Y&R Austin and I hope to work with many of you!

The Changing Landscape of Late Night Talk Shows

I was recently asked to chime in on a discussion over at Outside the Box Scores about the changing landscape of late night talk shows. The link takes you to the whole article. My two cents are below.

David Letterman once dove head-first into a vat of cheese during a “human chips and dip” bit on Late Night in the 80’s. It was art. It was comedy. It was beautiful. It was likely one of many moves that allowed him, 30 years later, to still have a spot on the board.

Jack Paar, Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, that other whiny guy on ABC, Jimmy Fallon, and, please welcome, from studio 8G in Rockefeller Center, Seth Meyers.

In these iconic men we see our wacky dad, our dry witted neighbor, our standup comic uncle. We’ve proven over 70 years of late night television viewership to be a predictable breed; we want relatable, charismatic, sincere, and humorous hosts.

Seth is just that.

But did NBC call any of television’s most relatable, charismatic, sincere, and humorous late night gals about Jimmy’s old job? Did they consider Kristen Wiig or Amy Poehler or Tina Fey? Or did they go straight to Seth? Or on the other end of the spectrum, was Chelsea Handler ever a consideration or was her aggressive, feminist caricature more than NBC wanted to deal with?
Is late night network television a boys’ club, relegating talented women to the borders of cable TV, forced to polarize their audience with an hour-long string of “wait wait, I can hang with the boys, too” lewd jokes? Or are these chicks just sincerely like that? Was Sarah Silverman born with a silver spoon full of #%&$ in her mouth or did cable make her that way? Is the only way to make it as a woman to go blue?

It’s also interesting to note that the funniest women today are primarily noted for their wit, not their looks. But all of the aforementioned starlets—Tina, Amy, Kristen et al—would universally be described as beautiful. And they absolutely are.

But they’re funny first. They’re smart first. They’re talented producers, actors, directors, comediennes, writers, and icons of modern-day female humor first and foremost. No one’s trying to make them a sex-symbol to compensate for their lack of talent or make them more appealing. If Amy Poehler wears a hot dress to the Emmy’s, it seems it’s because she wants to wear a hot dress to the Emmy’s. We get the impression from these women that they’re like a lot of regular gals; they want to dress up and look nice every once in a while, not be the image that (edited because, well, you can’t really say that on OTBS).

It’s also interesting that these women aren’t pledging allegiance to the flag of semantic destitution. They might drop an f-bomb or a rougher joke on occasion, but it’s purposeful, it fits the situation, and it’s a comically smart choice for the scene, not the lowest hanging fruit. It seems from their years in front of the camera whether it be television shows, interviews, movies etc. that crass humor and showy sexuality are not such an integral part of their lives that they can’t get through an interview without an edit.

Culture will continue to chase what’s taboo, but most of us don’t deeply identify with Chelsea Handler. Does Chelsea Handler even identify with Chelsea Handler?

Network television has proven over and over again for over 70 years in every late night genre from Saturday Night Live to late night talk shows that propriety will always win over obscenity. In late night network television, unlike movies and cable, a broader audience will equal more money, not shocking buzz. Shocking buzz will get you pulled off the air. The male late night hosts have always been equal opportunity entertainers, gently pushing envelopes but staying in the lines to such an extent that they’re palpable, even if not preferred, by most Americans. You may like Jimmy over Craig, but it won’t be because you’re offended. It’s taste.

Would Ellen be as funny at 11 p.m. as she is at 4 p.m.? So why doesn’t that standard apply to women? Ellen DeGeneres is incredibly funny at 4:00 in the afternoon. Would she be less funny seven hours later? Would her widespread likeability translate to late night? By the standard we’ve set for men, it should. She’s not too sweet, she’s not too harsh. She’s clean with a touch of innuendo. Maybe she and every other woman mentioned thus far isn’t in the slightest interested in hosting a late night talk show on network television. But somewhere, some lady wants the mic. And when she gets it, what will have been the force that won it? Her talent or her sex-appeal? Her loyalty to smart wit or the laziness of her crude default?

This isn’t a “hey, why wasn’t Jimmy’s spot filled with a WOMAN?” rant. It’s a rant against the landscape of what women seemingly, apparently, have to be to “succeed” in late night talk shows. And again, success is defined as a million-viewers-per-episode cable slot held by Chelsea Handler. It’s certainly success, but it’s not mainstream, and it’s because she’s catering to a niche market of viewers who probably never loved the kind of people Jimmy or Leno are, anyway.

Someday, not because it’s fair but because it’s possible, a woman will take the stage and metaphorically dive head first into a vat of cheese, making history and building a lasting legacy. And if she does it right, prescribed controversy over what she said or wore won’t be the reason she makes it into the other guys’ monologues.


Outside the Box Scores is an insightful and often hilarious sports an pop culture Tworce to be reckoned with, if you're into that sort of thing.

Kilgore College Rangerettes

I wrote a post for Kelli Huff's blog here. But for those of you unable to muster clicking strength, it's reposted below.

Ten years ago this week I tried out for the World Famous Kilgore College Rangerettes.
Not true. I never tried out for the World Famous Kilgore College Rangerettes. Or any dance team, for that matter. But my friend and colleague, Sarah Coker, did and this is her story. Because it’s a great story. And full of leadership lessons.

Lessons like, “don’t look at the big picture for too long, but don’t forget it’s the goal, either.”
Love that.

So let’s start again.

By: Sarah Coker

Ten years ago this week I tried out for the World Famous Kilgore College Rangerettes. The oldest, most prestigious drill/dance team in the world. This is gonna turn into a story about Rangerettes, yes, but more so about life, so get a cup of coffee.

My best friend, Lindsay (Young) Joe, and I went to Rangerette summer camp after our sophomore year of high school and I was hooked. I’d never seen such camaraderie, talent, pride, and discipline in my life. The intensity of the discipline–freshman aren’t allowed to speak unless spoken to during practice and their only response is, “yes mam, thank you miss so-and-so” unless specifically told to give an answer, for example–is one reason why the Rangerettes are able to be the best. You can’t take 60+ girls and make them dance in complete, mesmerizing unison unless you create almost militant order during practice. But along with the sometimes secretive, never-ending layers of rules that those from the outside inevitably find intriguing and those on the inside realize and defend the necessity thereof, there was overt fun. I’d never seen people so in love with what they were doing. Everyone was sold out to the team. Everybody wanted to be there. There was not The Slacker. There may have existed The Negative One but she sure didn’t show it in front of people at camp or rehearsal. That camp reeled me in and I worked my literal butt off for the next two years so that I could be ready enough to try out.

Two years pass by…

*stretches until hamstring muscles tear and rebuild, one strand at a time*

*attends history class every morning of junior year while sitting on ice packs and downing Tylenol*

*practices jump splits; a signature Rangerette maneuver in which the dancer jumps into the air and lands on the ground in the splits*

*downs more Tylenol*

So I came to “Pretraining” or tryout week. Biff (Lindsay) and I nervously ate bags full of those peanut butter toffee bite candies that are made in Lufkin, Texas, and practiced our dances in the hall until midnight with other girls trying out. I’d never prayed so hard for anything in my life. I’d never felt true anxiety until this day, the last day of pretraining, 10 years ago. By this point in the week, you’ve been evaluated on a jazz dance and kick routine that would be performed on the football field, and a number of stylized, “studio” type routines that would determine whether or not you were a true dancer. There are the girls who have the flexibility to kick their faces but lack the grace to perform a ballet. And vice versa. Rangerettes must have both. Then, at the end of all the auditions, they have all the “hopefuls” sit in the, ehh, reeeegionally famous Dodson Auditorium. You think you’re about to get lectured. You think you’re about to hear a “don’t give up” speech. You wonder if maybe you’re about to get yelled at—you’ve heard stories. You hope that’s not it, but you’re just so tired you don’t know what to expect. You’re on the verge of tears and have been for a week. You’ve never felt pressure like this before and your mom’s not there to fix it and thus prolong the weightlessness of childhood. This is step one of adulthood.

Then you hear the drum roll off that starts the Kilgore College Fight Song. Da da, da da, daaaaaaa, da da. Suddenly, the sophomore Rangerettes, in full uniform, start parading down the aisles of the auditorium toward the stage as the fight song bounces off the walls. You look up at the stage and analyze every detail of every part of the uniform. How do they tie the belt? How many pins are in her hat to make it stay in place when she kicks it, over and over again. I wonder if the pockets on the skirt are real or not. Then, they begin to dance. Their tradition. Their trademark. The High Kick. It’s all you want. You want that uniform. You want that stamina to be able to dance that well for that long. You want that legacy. You want to be part of the 64th line of Rangerettes. As they dance, you have visions of dancing at The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or at the Inauguration of The President of the United States of America—things the Rangerettes have done before and you knew would do again. You see these girls in front of you who were in your seat just last year and can’t believe that they look so perfect now. You want that.

They exit the stage and you wipe tears from your face and get ready to follow whatever the next order is. You look around for the directors to tell you what to do. One week in Rangerette World has taught you that you start from the bottom. You don’t do anything but smile stand still unless somebody tells you to do something. You sit there on your best behavior. As if this moment matters more than others. Please let me show you how well I can sit quietly and follow rules. Let that be enough. I know that I can’t quite kick my hat yet, but I can smile. Notice that. I have a great attitude and will work harder than anyone. Notice that. Please. You wait for an order. The directors finally walk onto the stage. The order is to go eat dinner and try and sleep. Tryouts are over. There’s nothing more you can do. They’ve seen all they need to see. You’ve all done a wonderful job and it will be a hard decision. “Yes ma’am, thank you, Mrs. Blair.” You file out of the auditorium.

You don’t sleep.

On Friday morning, 100+ groggy, hopeful girls with painted on makeup and forced smiles flood Dodson Auditorium, some, for the last time. As the hopefuls sit on the stage, awaiting their fate, the uniformed sophomores pour onto the stage once again. It almost feels like a slap in the face. Man, they want us to want it. They want us to see these girls in uniform and just fawn. And you do. You drool over everything that even resembles the uniform. It hasn’t changed since 1940 except for the shortening of the skirt. It’s an icon. And it’s minutes away from possibly being yours.
Poignant words are said. Maybe a prayer? Some encouragement.

Then the stage clears. It’s just the hopefuls sitting in a clump. You hear chains start to move as a sign begins to slowly descend from the rafters, the same exact way it’s descended for 63 years. You hear screaming around you as you see the bottom row of numbers. The “shorties” have been announced by black and white numbers posted on a simple wooden board. #105, #103, #102, #100. More screams. Biff made it. I felt a twinge of relief and panic all at once. What if I don’t make it? All you can see are the bigger numbers. The sign moves in slow motion. More screams. You hear crying. The good kind and the bad kind. The girl next to you gets up and runs out the back door.

Then, I saw my number. I had to ask Biff if it was really my number. I just sat there in shock. Then I cried. I found my mom and cried some more. I did it. We did it.

The next two years changed me. Forever. Beyond the legacy of this fancy little dance team. Beyond the memories of going to class everyday with the same people, studying for two years with the same people, eating, dancing, sleeping, living for two years with the same people. Loving those people like family. Beyond those memories. Beyond the legacy of the name “Rangerettes”…beyond all of that there were intangibles that effected all of us.

-Get your stuff done without mistakes. Do it right and don’t allow for potential to even need to give an excuse. Don’t give excuses. Just do it right the first time. When you mess up, don’t look back, just do it again until it’s right and don’t waste time justifying yourself.

-Trust your leaders. They’ve been here before you. Sure, there might be some less-than-qualified leaders in your life, but for the most part, they’ve earned the title. Respect them. Trust that God allowed them to be there. Back them up. Don’t talk crap about them.

-Have pride in yourself. In your words. In your mannerisms. In your clothing. In your manners. In your dealings with strangers. In your relationships. Represent where you come from well. As a Christian, this Rangerette wisdom transferred seamlessly in my head. I want to represent God and his character well; I want to represent Rangerettes and their character well. Having a sense of pride or reputation—something to care about more than your own selfish desires—is powerful.

-Be the best in a way that inspires others, not puts them down. Don’t be cocky. Work hard, don’t give in to laziness, pursue the furthest degree of talent that cognitively exists, and bring others up with you. Live life whether at work, home, or play, as a team. Bend over backwards to make those around you care, work hard, and ultimately look as good as you’re trying to make yourself look. If you care about others more than yourself, it’ll come back to help you.

-Take challenges a bite at a time. Every challenge looks insurmountable, compoundingly so as a cynical, tired adult with more responsibilities than a college kid. But take it a bite at a time. Don’t try to polish and perfect an entire high kick routine in one fell swoop. Break it apart 8 count by 8 count. Don’t look at the big picture for too long, but don’t forget it’s the goal, either.

-Make new friends in every new situation. I went to Kilgore with Biff and came out with an entire class of precious friends and 5 in particular who would be my dearest, bestest friends for life. I am on a group text with as we speak and we talk every single day even though we live in different cities. I am glad that I opened myself up to making friends rather than staying comfortable in a bubble with Biff.

-There’s probably 100 more things I’ve learned but those are what I cranked out the top of my head. Anybody else have any life lessons from Rettes?

I just happened to have this Rangerette experience kick off my adult life…but as I’ve gone on in life I’ve learned to pay attention enough to glean the same depth of experience in lots of other places–my relationship with God, my work, learning sign language, improv comedy, relationships of all kinds etc. I’m glad I had such a unique and intense experience as a catalyst into adulthood. I think it’s made me a better one.


You can follow Sarah on Twitter or check out another of her insightful posts on Yes Andrew.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The First Time I Ever Used a Fire Extinguisher

I just moved into a new apartment. My one deal breaker was that I wanted washer/dryer hookups and my one nice-to-have was a fireplace. This little jewel had both. At my old house, we had a fireplace, and since Biff is allergic to her own hands, we used those "Lasts Up To 4 Hours!" starter logs instead of real firewood. And on moving day, we had one log left, which was kindly left in my possession and traveled to my new digs.

It is 107 degrees outside at midnight in Austin, Texas. Well, not that hot, but close enough. But on the fateful day I used a fire extinguisher for the first time, it was a CHILLY 82--and I had just bought a copy of Southern Living with a very fall-ish apple pie on the front--and I just wanted to make my apartment cozy, ok?

So I decided, hey, screw the man and his temperature rules and oppressive ideals of appropriate fire-making weather, I'm a strong Latino woman and I'll do what I want! So I checked the flue.

Me: that's weird--there's no flue lever?

Invisible Studio Audience: You idiot, there's always a lever. Keep looking.

Me: Hmm...I guess it's some sort of apartment safety measure--maybe the flue is defaulted to always be open and I don't have to do anything?

Invisible Studio Audience: WERE YOU BORN YESTERDAY?!?!?!

Me: Ok, I'll go ahead and light it and stand here for a sec to make sure the apartment doesn't fill up with smoke.

Invisible Studio Audience: No.

So that's exactly what I did. I lit that red paper bag on fire and watched it burn for a solid two minutes. The three separate flames I ignited slowly burned horizontally until they became one massive, log-engulfing flame. I stood back, stared at my fireplace, took a picture, and texted it to my friends. I even Facebooked my fire with the caption, "Don't judge me." I had an escalating number of "likes" and "comments" as I walked into the kitchen to keep making dinner. A few minutes later, while my food was cooking, I came out to sit on the couch and see how many people on Facebook thought I was the coolest person alive for making a fire in September. Except, I never got to the couch because my living room was drowning in a cloud of thick, grey smoke. Hey guys! The flue wasn't open after all!

So I stood there, staring at my bad decision as my two smoke detectors proved their batteries' worth. I calmly and mentally revisited my tenure as a Girl Scout. "Don't throw water onto a fire because it can make it worse." So because I was never a part of the Talented and Gifted program, I considered throwing a towel over it. But alas, the lessons of my youth confirmed that throwing a towel into the fireplace would inevitably burn the complex to the ground. And then God, not Oprah, gave me an "ah-ha moment": my new management office has provided me with a state of the art (probably not) fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink. FINALLY! All those years of fulfilling the Facilities Management aspect of my job by checking fire extinguishers at work had led me to this moment!

I approached the fire, my porous lungs filling like waffles with smokey syrup, and I pulled the trigger. POOOOOOFFFFFF, a Lost-worthy billow of smoke rolled out of my no longer pristine fireplace. But there were still flickers of life--like that slow blink in a deer's eyes when it's not quite dead. I pulled the trigger again. POOOOOOOFFFFFF, the second blow killed it.

I stood back, and stared at my fireplace yet again. This time, though, I felt no compulsion to text my friends or post a picture to Facebook. Proud that I'd conquered, but ashamed that I'd instigated, I quietly opened all the windows and doors, and began sweeping up the foam from the first time I ever used a fire extinguisher.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Story About Leslie

This guest post was written by my friend Todd who once wrote and produced an ad for the Paramount Theater featuring our dearly departed Leslie. This is hands down the greatest Leslie story I've ever heard. I'm so glad he let me post it here. Enjoy!

It was 1:15PM on Monday, May 14, 2007. My boss came to my desk and
asked if my partner and I could handle a quick turn around project for 
the Paramount's Anniversary gala. It had to be concepted, written, 
shot and (print ad) produced by noon Wednesday the 16th. 

Craig, my brilliant art director partner and I immediately went to Whole
Foods to concept over some gelatto. We had an idea, the Yorick, I 
knew him well bit from Hamlet. We would have Willie Nelson hold 
up a small cow skull and do the pose and we would write "Here's 
to being, since 1915" (It's a well known miss-practice to hold a skull
and say "To be or not to be…" even though those are two very 
different parts of the play. 

We phoned Willie's agent, Willie was in NYC at the time. I knew
Willie as I'd written a film for him the year prior. Who now then? 
Mayor Will Wynn.  He couldn't do it that day or the next. Well then
it HAS to be Leslie. Leslie was usually pretty easy to find. He'd leave
a house he was staying in out in Westlake at 7am, take the bus to 
Taco Deli on Barton Skyway, read the paper, then walk downtown
around 10am to make his rounds.

But that lady sold her house and he was no longer staying there. 
Ninfa's was gone, and so was his ever-present hotel bellhop cart from 
'round back. It's hard to find a vagrant when you really need to. 

It was now 5pm, Craig and I texted everyone in our phones to ask if
they had seen Leslie in the past hour. Within five minutes we had 
three responses.

A friend of ours had seen him at noon near South First and Live Oak. 
Another called to say he knew Leslie sold magnets through the guy 
who owned Wet hair salon. We piled in the truck and pointed toward
Wet on South Congress. 

The owner was getting someone hair did so we waited in the seating
area. After enjoying a book on mullets for 30-minutes, he waved us 
over. Said he didn't know where Leslie would be but, "I've got his
cell number." Albert Leslie Cochran, homeless man with a cell phone

We thanked him for his time, bought a couple magnets and went 
outside to call. After a couple of rings, "Leslie, talk to me, babe."

He agreed to meet us in an hour at Bouldin Creek Coffee shop on
South First. We waited, and waited. Waited some more and here
he/she came in all his regalia. Gold bluetooth earbud, fannie pack, 
pink running shorts and high heels. And binoculars. 

Two minutes in to our pitch, he'd agreed. On TWO conditions:

His gold Dolce and Gabana razr phone rings. He points and 
individual index finger in the air to notify us that he'd be taking
this call. "Leslie, talk to me, babe." 20-minutes later, after a VERY
heady conversation about real estate prices, he was back. 

  1. He wanted a taco and a beer, right then and there. 
  2. We meet him at that exact spot at 9am the next day with a 12-pack of Tecate and a pack of American Spirit yellows and $50 cash. 
He went on to tell us about his train trip to Iowa to look for the perfect
horse for a friend of his who'd hired him to do so. Then opened the 
binoculars and offered us a pull of his tequila. We declined. He drank
from the binoculars long and hard. 

It was set, we'd be there at 9am Tuesday, May 15th.

Craig and I had met at GSD&M and placed bets on whether Leslie would 
be at Bouldin Creek Coffee shop at 9am. We arrived at 8:45 and sat 
outside, it was May and it was beautiful outside. 8:59:59…

He/She appeared beyond the hedge row. In EXACTLY what he'd agreed
to wear. 20's flapper-style dress, tiara, heels, jewelry, everything. Even 
dyed his hair and washed it the night before. Amazing. 

He said, "let's go boys, we have work to do." 

This is important: Craig has a one-bench truck. Leslie rode bitch. 

I love him, but he's gross. 

We crammed into the Ram, Craig and I being what pretty much any 
culture on the planet aside from the Samoans would call "beefy" and 
Leslie – swinging hands and rocking to and fro – in between us going on 
and on about astrophysics and the works of Ray Bradbury and 
Kerouac like a seasoned lit professor. 

It was truly amazing. Craig hadn't said a word to this point, just 
stunned the entire time. We arrived at the front door of the Paramount 
Theatre at 9:15am on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 and were greeted by the 
wonderful manager who informed us that she was sorry but the ballet
had taken the stage for rehearsal and we would have to use the State
theatre or the stairwells in the Grand Hall. 

The stairwells are gorgeous so we chose those, setting up our lighting
equipment and camera. Our boy Dave Mead had hooked us up with 
a props guy who got us a skull. With the effortless professional intuition
of a model, Leslie tilted his head toward the light and moved just a bit 
upon the echo of each shutter sound. 

It was amazing. We must have taken 70 photos in 20 minutes and he
carried himself with the grace of a true hero thespian, the likes of 
Kingsley and Hopkins. 

He left to go out front and greet his fans and have a smoke while 
Craig and I packed up the gear. Craig REALLY didn't want me to leave 
him outside alone with Leslie, but I had to run back inside and thank 
the manager for letting us use the facilities. 

Leslie looked at Craig and said, "This is excellent parking for a Saturday."

Craig hemmed and hawed for a few seconds and – placing lights in 
the bed of the truck – turned to him and said, "Uh, Leslie, it's Tuesday."

The professional and eloquent lit professor were 1,000 miles away and 
all that was left was a shell of a man in a flapper gown and tiara. He 
was nowhere to be found in the eyes. He took off his heals and waved 
over his shoulder and began to walk away. 

We demanded he get in the truck, and couldn't believe we were going 
to drive him the three miles home. 

Not a word was said in the truck as we took him to the lovely home 
he was staying in on Alice Street…

We pulled into the long, narrow gravel driveway leading to the guest house 
behind a lovely little house on Annie. I let Leslie out of the truck, gave him 
$50 and had him sign a release form. The mood wasn't somber, but it was
different. Craig had been holding in laughter for 10 minutes, ever since
Leslie had asked if I was dating anybody. 

Now, we slowly backed out of the drive as Leslie walked to the gate to 
let himself in. He paused, then ran back toward the truck. I looked at 
Craig and said, "shit, he's going to ask for more money." With that, I 
rolled the window down as Leslie spun and turned his back toward me 
and said, "unzip me." Craig made a sound like a bottle rocket went off 
in his nose. I unzipped Leslie and he began to strip, all the way back to the 

First, the gown. Then the bra, now he was in nothing but an iridescent 
blue thong. HE did a little dance, then bent forward away from the 
truck and slapped his ass. We both erupted with laughter in the truck 
as Craig "sped" down the driveway at 4 mph. I said, "Stop, you're going 
to get us both killed." More than likely thinking about God and  lightening
than the 4 mph wreck. We reached concrete, looked at one another and 
not another word was said all the way back to work. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

actual elementary school diary entries

I'm at my parents' house for the weekend. Every few years I love to go in the attic and just play around and look in boxes at my old toys and Rangerette stuff etc. It's fun.

But not nearly as fun as the goldmine I found today: 3 diaries from elementary school dating from 1993-1996 (age 9-12, I believe). I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Below, for your enjoyment, are actual entries in their entirety--I have made no edits--all spelling and parentheticals are exactly as I wrote them in the glorious mid-90's. Here are just a few of the more entertaining entries:

Some date in 1993
"My movie star dream guy is Kevin from Home Alone. he is so cute. I don't want to marry him though! I want to marry Tyson."

September 2, 1994
"I missed TGIF because I was at Target getting stuff. I got a Lisa Frank binder."

September 30, 1994
"My dad says I'm not allowed to watch Rescue 911. Mom said I could."

October 17, 1994
"I taught my dad how to use the computer. I taught him Kid Pix."

October 24, 1994
"Lane and I have another business called Party Pals. We help out at kid's birthday partys. Cool huh."

November 9, 1994
"Lane read my diary. Not this one the other one. I got really upset. Sometimes she makes me mad."

January 19, 1995
"Marie got the Boys II Men CD today! WOW!"

April 3, 1995
"We came home from Nashville today. I miss Ashley. When we were there I saw Amy Grant's husband and yelled "hey" then Mrs. Blackwell told me to stop because it wasn't polite."

April 20, 1995
"Tomorrow we watch the "Period" movie!"

April 24, 1995
"We watched the AIDS video today."

April 29, 1995
"I am sort of mad at Marie because she wrote 'I am going to pop Sarah's bra strap' in my yearbook. She is still my best friend in Austin though. Ashley is my best friend in Tennisee. But I am upset with Marie."

May 4, 1995
"I accidentally hiper extended Jon's leg with a golf cart. Accidentally!"

June 11, 1995
"I talked, or signed to the deaf interpreter at church today!"

July 12, 1995
"Lane shaved her legs today."

November 14, 1995
"Today was visitation day at jazz. My mom came. I wanted to show everyone how good I am at dance. I didn't show off though. I messed up on one little thing and started crying because I thought I was good. I know I am even if I do mess up. My mom helped me realize that."

November 30, 1995
"I have larengytes. I can't talk. I had to do a play with barely any voice."

January 2, 1996
"I invited Lane to spend the night, but she got mad at her mom and she cannot come anymore."

January 17, 1996
"I started my sign language classes today. My teacher is deaf. It is VERY hard to understand him, but I'll live."

March 15, 1996
"I got a bunch of new clothes today. (I did not have much clothes) (I'm not greedy!)"

March 27, 1996
"We got our test grades for Sign Language. I got an 83; that means I passed."

April 6, 1996
"My mom and I saw Acadamy Award winning movie "Babe the Galient Pig!" It was O.K. I thought."


A couple things:

1. Biff's first memory of me was the time I had laryngitis in 5th grade as stated above. Ask her about it.

2. What 11 year old describes going to the movies as "today my mother and I saw academy award winning movie..." I think I was destined at a young age to be a film fanatic. It stuck.

3. Most of the rest of the entries in my diary were about me going to dance class, going to church, being sick, or visiting my family. Oh, and one entry about the time I bought a toy with my money and it broke and I got really mad and then wrote about how I had anger issues. Hmm...

Did you keep your old diaries?! You should sit down and read them. I bet they're entertaining. My mom and I are going to try and find her diary from this same time period and see what hers said in comparison to mine. She remembers just being scared all the time that she was going to be bombed. That's the Cold War Era for ya...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Short Story

Her three best friends decided it'd be better to sit a ways back from the dance floor so that she wouldn't see their poorly-hidden discontentment. It was a monumental tragedy, their marriage of a mere 2 hours. Not a soul in either party condoned it and not a peep in either party was heard in objection. Everyone politely kept their mouths closed for the record-breaking 3 week courtship.

On one hand, it was a beautiful wedding. That hand is the shallow, materialistic hand. On the other hand, she had to ask the best man what her new father-in-law's name was at the reception. So while the cake, with its 5 lavishly iced tiers, was a perfect shade of ivory, it couldn't outshine the uneasiness that crippled the Civic Center as George and Marla first stepped in as husband and wife, smiling with every tooth displayed. As the evening progressed, still, no one quite knew what to do with themselves. Some sat firmly in their seats, enjoying the lamb that was purchased with a drop in the barrel of her daddy's oil fortune.

George was an alcoholic, but no one at the wedding knew that. Their disapproval was over the 3 week engagement.

The day before he met Marla, George told his cell mates he'd see them later and put up bail for himself at the Rusk County Jail. To celebrate the cessation of his unplanned 3-day sabbatical from spirits, he drove back home to Overton where he promptly downed a 5th of whiskey and passed out in the bed of his truck. That's when Marla found him.

She'd been working nights at the Piggly Wiggly behind her parents' back. The thought of their daughter lifting a finger for money--much less the wages of a grocer--was shameful. Her family fit the old money, mineral rights, Henderson-bred description to a T. Nothing about Marla's dress, demeanor, or diction seemed common, yet her blood, that was too rich to act like it, always seemed contradictorily suitable for a lower class.

At 17, with a fluency in French, Spanish, Latin, and a bit of Greek, her hired tutor deemed her eligible for a high school diploma and helped her fill out an application to SMU, her parents' alma mater and thus, the school she would attend. Although an easily attainable full-ride academic scholarship would negate the need for money to buy her way in, her parents weren't about to let her take a handout from anyone but them. All four years of tuition, room and board were paid in full as well as multi-million dollar donations to the Athletic, English, and Music departments before she set foot on campus. She would, without argument, attend Southern Methodist University. Period.

Marla, had she been given the option of choosing her own path, would have fancied a life of car theft or dog fighting. But, never one to talk back, she kept her feelings on the institutionalization of collegiate education to herself, gritted her teeth, and packed 18 of her finest hats, 4 trunks of clothes, 3 trunks of shoes, and a conspicuously hand-carried leather bound copy of King James' Bible. While strategically executed tears flowed down her face, she looked out the window as they drove away from the familiarity of oil derricks and pine trees. Her mind knotted violently with the excited hope that she'd never go back.


As her parents' now empty car drove away from her dormitory, Marla stood waving on the lawn until they faded out of sight. She spent the next three days claiming Mono, dropping classes, selling her clothes to the girls in the dorm who could afford her inflation, and hitching rides to the bus station with 1 bag and wads of cash hidden in every pocket and nook she could find. Her reimbursed tuition was returned to the hands of all the university's communicative powers in a plea for them to keep silent regarding her departure. They eagerly obliged and thanked her again for her parents' generous donations.

Smart enough to know how to run away but still too well-bred to walk anywhere, it only took her 18 hours to hitch to the bus station. The freedom smelled like cocaine. It was an initial rush that felt undoubtedly worth every chance she'd be caught or end up dead. But the after taste sliding down the back of her nervously swallowing throat burned, igniting fear and the encroaching sense of regret. Before she had a chance to make friends with the conservative opposition in her head, she walked onto the first train that stopped in front of her.

Two hours later she was in Overton. A mere 20 minute drive from her home town of Henderson, she first flinched at the thought of stepping off the train and accidentally seeing her parents. But she exhaled, remembering that they never had been, nor would they ever have reason to be in Overton. The only time she remembered actually leaving Henderson, aside from the day they took her to SMU, was when she and her mother would go shopping for the day in Dallas. Her only grandfather died in Alabama when she was 5. An only child of older parents who were only children themselves, she didn't grow up around grandparents, she grew up around their money. For the first time in her life, the lack of proximal relatives she could potentially run into was a relief instead of a longing.


Marla had mentally engaged in one crush growing up--Lon Dryer. He was 22 years her senior and was known by all in Henderson as the screw up son of Loretta and Bart Dryer, owners of Dryer Drug and Sundry. Lon felt accomplished for having moved out of his parents' house at 30, but their financial support of his "independent" life still gave him the reputation of a tethered, apron string-clinging screw up. Marla liked screw ups.

Lon was her only personified crush growing up, but she had quite the mental love affair with establishments suited for those of a different tax bracket. She was fascinated by bars, strip joints, back alleys, and the run down block of houses off the highway. In particular, she was always allured by the Piggly Wiggly. It was no surprise that after her escape from SMU, that was the first place she went.

For the first three nights after the train pulled into Overton Station, Marla would stay in a tiny hotel downtown under the pseudonym "Janet Kingsley." She had no personal reason for picking that name. She just felt it suited her nicely and complimented her short, tight, curly brown hair and thick rimmed glasses with grace. She left for college as a blond with the eyesight of an arctic fighter pilot.

Those first three days in Overton were spent lollygagging up and down the aisles of the Piggly Wiggly. She studied how the shelves were stocked. She memorized the order, shelf level, and inventory of canned soup flavors. She found herself jealous of the types of people that came in to shop there. They were so normal. They obviously cooked for themselves because she saw them buy meat--the women knew how much chicken to buy. They would tell the man at the counter how many pounds of chicken they wanted to buy and Marla was overcome with jealousy.

On the fourth day of her new life in Overton, she realized for the first time in her entire life that hotel rooms and food and hair dye cost money, and that when you spend money, it goes away and then it's not stuffed in a sock anymore--it's stuffed in the sock of the cashier, and that if she were going to pull off this new life as Janet Kingsley, she'd need to find a way to support herself.

Quickly ruling out prostitution, though, she pondered, it would validate the gritty life she longed for, she set her job search efforts toward the Piggly Wiggly. She bought their finest tube of red lipstick and their smoothest pair of nude stockings, asked for an application, and headed to her hotel room. The store manager agreed to interview her the next morning.

As she curved the ends of her gel-soaked hair around the middle of the velvet roller, turning it upwards until she pinned it tightly to her hea, she interviewed herself in the mirror. She asked every question she could think of that would necessitate a fabricated answer. She had a new hometown, a new family, new siblings and a new identity. Everything about her was new and she loved herself this way.

That night, she didn't even pull back the covers. She sat in the wooden armed chair by the window for 2 hours and stared at the tops of oil derricks in the distance, wondering if her parents were wondering about her. They had no reason not to think she was in school, but still, she wondered if Janet Kingsley seemed familiar to anyone with a big mouth that she may have passed on the street. She decided she would call them the next evening and spent at least 4 hours constructing possible answers for the questions they would inevitably ask. Eight hours were spent restlessly interviewing herself in every foreseeable circumstance. She got an A on her first English Literature essay. Her father was in the army and she was raised all over--she and her 5 sisters and 2 brothers. Her father? He was a retired mechanic. Every life story she sewed together that night was new and she liked her life that way.


"Please, have a seat, Miss Kingsley," Mr. Canthrop said, motioning towards the stiff leather chair that faced his desk.

"Now, let's get to it. No need to fiddle faddle, now is there? You want a job, isn't that right, Miss Kingsley?"

"Yes sir. In fact, I'd say I NEED a job, more than I'd LIKE to have one, sir. My mother's fallen quite ill. The doctor talks about an iron lung and it's become a burden to my father--he served in the first world war, you know. He's missing an eye and hasn't worked in years. So, yes, oh most certainly, sir, I need a job. And I'm skilled! I have skills! I can type! Well I know that wouldn't be applicable here but I'm a whiz at dictations if you ever need me to do them. I also memorized your inventory of canned soups. I just love canned soup."

"Well, aren't you zealous," he said in a tone that was half shock, half condescending. "I'll tell you what, I need one person to do two jobs around here. Do you think a pretty young girl like yourself could handle two jobs?"

"Oh yes sir. I would be the best you've seen at both jobs--I won't let you down, sir!"

"Would you like to know what they are before you make such bold claims, Miss Kingsley?"

"I know I would impress you, sir...but what are they, exactly?"

"Well, I need a stock b-- person, and I need someone to do a little job we like to call 'meat trashing.' Meat trashing is when you bag up all the old rotten meat that gets thrown into the pile on the floor at the back of the deli counter and then put that bag inside another bag and then bag it again and then tie it up real tight and walk it over to the dumpster in the corner of our lot. There's usually about 10 or 20 bags worth of meat. It smells obscene. This has to happen every Tuesday night. Then you'll put cinder blocks on top of the dumpster lid to keep the coons out."

Marla was in a state of pure elation at the thought of bagging old rotten meat. Truth be told, she'd never even seen raw meat. She saw meat that was cooked and garnished and sitting on her mother's china. And to think that when she wasn't bagging old meat, she could arrange soup cans and silently mingle among the lower to middle class...she was heel tappingly excited.

"I would be honored, sir."

Mr. Canthrop cleared his throat and tried not to smile. "Alright then, you can start tomorrow."


After she was hired, Marla packed her tiny suitcase and left the hotel for a small, 1 bedroom apartment about half a mile from her new office. The walk to and from work invigorated her and made her feel alive. Not surprisingly, she'd been chauffeured around for most of her childhood. The blisters on her feet felt magnificent.

On her 18th day of working for the Overton Piggly Wiggly, at 11:30 pm, Marla began throwing scraps of rancid steak into garbage bags and picking up tiny chicken bones like they were as clean as fallen pencils. Humming to herself as she squatted in the shadows and culled through pig intestines, the rest of the employees began locking doors and turning off lights. She had about 3 more hours of bagging ahead of her and her heart was as calm as the river Nile.

The darkness of night or of her new life in general didn't scare her, it befriended her--it knew her and complimented her and reassured her that it would always be there to give her deeper breaths and fuller dreams. The drunks would wander on and off the lot as she'd carry bag after bagged bag of meat to the dumpster. Sometimes they'd pass out, mid-whistle, and collapse to the ground out of the corner of her eye. She didn't walk with a flirtatious bounce but she didn't ignore them either. She treated them as if they were an elderly man asking for directions. She felt like they were extended family members...but still family in some sense. She had a strange respect for them and would have sat down to talk if she hadn't had a job to do. Well, it was a mixture of respect and tremendous amounts subconscious desires to nurture. She didn't want to necessarily fix the old drunks, she just wanted to take care of them. Old drunks always love sweet girls who'll take care of them.

That night, that 18th night, after she took the last bag of sloshy, maggot attracting meat to the dumpster, she sat down next to a blue truck parked in the last space of the farthest corner of the lot. She picked at the hem on the bottom of her dress as her mind flipped pages before the first paragraph on the left page was even finished. She was electric in that way that only happens when you're IN love or doing something THAT you love and she had no idea what time it was. She planned to go home, take a bath, stay up the rest of the night reading a novel. She wasn't scheduled to work the next day so she could read novels all day and set a new permanent in her hair. And call her mother.

That night was the happiest she'd ever been in her entire life but the fix was waning. It wasn't enough thrill. She stood up from the curb, dusted off her hands on her dress, and checked her hair in the side mirror of the blue truck.

"Hello there, pretty lady. What's your name?" He mustered as he sat up and flopped against the side of the truck bed.

Only mildly startled, Marla responded instinctively as if it were normal for people to sleep in truck beds in parking lots. " My name is M--," she quickly turned the "M" sound into a laugh that pursed her lips and furiously tried to think of what to do next so that it didn't sound like she faked a name after making an "M" sound.

"Mmm," she laughed, "Wouldn't you like to know?!," she accidentally flirted. Her lower lip instinctively tucked for two reasons: she was panicking for inadvertently being cutesy with this stranger and 2. George was handsome. Much more handsome than Lon. Her crush on George happened in a matter of seconds and was reciprocated by George in equal time.

"I want to buy you pancakes in a couple hours," he said out of drunken hunger and lack of filter.

"I...have a boyfriend and I don't think he'd be too happy if I went and ate with another man," she said cautiously.

"What's his name?"

She paused, "Ronald Satchett"

"No it ain't."

"It most certainly is!"

"I saw that pretty blue eye of yours look across the street when you was trying to figure out what name to say. You said Satchett because you saw Satchett Hardware across the street. And I know the Satchett's don't got a son so there ain't no way you is goin' with one."

She paused and thought about how much she wanted to eat breakfast across from this terribly handsome drunk man.

"You never told me your name," she said.

"George Thurmon."

"No kidding?! Like Thurmon Bank of Henderson? Wait--that's you? You're Mr. and Mrs. Thurmon's son? George Thurmon III?! That's YOU?" She pulled her strained neck back upright and dropped her eyebrows, worried that her open recognition might jeopardaize her anonimity if he asked too many questions about how she recognized him. His drunken state reassured her that he probably wouldn't.

Growing up, Marla knew the Thurmons as a family that everyone in town loved but no one in town really knew. She heard what a delightful woman Mrs. Thurmon was--always friendly and gracious but never open to lengthy conversation. She was always on her way to some place. Mr. Thurmon was as honest a banker as you could find. Everyone in town put their money in his hands and he proved to be a man of integrity.

The Thurmons never had dinner parties, never attended the football games--in fact, she wasn't even quite sure where in Henderson they lived. But her mother considered Mrs. Thurmon a friend nonetheless. All she knew about them was that they had a son with special needs who died when she was 4 or 5 and that their other son, George, was this "brilliant" "handsome" boy that no one ever really saw. Her friends would say they saw him at such and such place and claim that his eyes were darker than coffee or that his arms were stronger than steel. One of Marla's friends swore on a stack of magazines that she saw him lift a car once. The less people saw him out in real life, the more lavish the stories of his appearance and ability. He was kind of an enigma.

That night, as she looked in George's eyes, only memories of what was said about his family resurfaced, but there were no actual memories of his family themselves. It was strange because she'd grown up "knowing him" as a son of these fine pillars of the community but had never actually seen him in person until now.

"That's me. Thaaaat's my name it is. Torge Germun. ha! You surprised to see me here drunk and sleepin' in my truck?"


"My parents know I ain't made much of myself but they ain't told a soul and me neither. They always mind they business. Keep it short."

"But--I heard you went off to Yale or some Yankee school like that?"

"Well, course when the time come for me to go off to school they told as many people as they could that I "had applied" or "might be going" to all kinds of fancy schools. But I'm here. I ain't gone nowhere but here to Overton. Nobody knows me in Overton. They would know my name if I told em--but I ain't told it to anybody but you. To everybody else I'm just a bum. Sometimes I call myself Charro because I like charro beans. But you're pretty, you get to know my name. Now tell me yours."

He slid back down into the bed of the truck and laid down flat with his hands behind his head and sighed as if he'd crawled into a feather bed.

"Janet Kingsley."

"Janet Kingsley. Hhhhhhhiiii love you Janet Kingsley," he mumbled, nearly falling asleep.

Marla didn't walk home after he fell asleep. She stood there and wondered why she was still standing there for a few minutes until she crawled into the cab of the truck and fell asleep on the seat. A few hours later, she woke up to George looking at her through the driver's side window.

"Wake up, Ruth."


"Ain't you read the Bible? Ruth crashed near Bozo one night when she barely knew him because she secretly loved him...or somethin' like that. You secretly love me, don't you, Ruth?"

George wasn't drunk anymore and Marla realized the disparity between his drunk personality and his sober personality was slim. That realization was what made her admit to being hungry.
That realization made her all the more attracted.

"Were you teasing about pancakes, George Thurmon?"

"You steer and I'll push the peddles. Let's go."


3 days after George and Marla ate pancakes together, he took her to Longview to buy a ring. They were in love. Really, sleep deprivingly, in love. They talked more honestly with each other than most married couples ever do. They'd fought 16 times in 3 days over tangible things that actually mattered. And they'd made up 18 times. The two extra makeups were simply because they couldn't keep their lips off each other. He drank himself into a slight coma on day 4 of their love affair, which caused fight number 17, but when he woke up, he apologized and Marla forgave him. She really did love him.

They had not a clue what day it was, what time it was, or what the future could or even should even hold. They fixed each other so well that to try and dwell on anything but themselves made the problems worse. He may have still been a drunk with Marla, but at least now he was able to sleep inside. And at least now Marla could be Marla. She told him her name, her last name, her family's names. He knew where she came from and he knew why she'd run away and he knew that, for now, he was thrilling enough to keep her still for a while.


On day 7, Marla recieved a phone call from her mother while George was at the store buying cigarettes, milk, and moonshine. He bought the moonshine from a bum in the parking lot, naturally.

"Marla, I know you dropped out of school, I know where you are, and I know what you're doing," she exploded as Marla picked up the receiver.

"I'm apalled. Absolutely apalled. Such a disgrace. You have embarassed your father and me and I am terribly...." Her rant went on for 12 minutes.

Marla was numb to the berating. She'd heard nothing but "don't" and "should" her entire life. She only wondered what her mother actually did and did not know about her current life.

"And what do you think about my choices, mother?" She said with her newfound sense of bold sarcasm.

"If you were so DETERMINED to work in retail, we could have found you a job at a nice clothing boutique closer to campus. You didn't have to go and throw away your education. You know, Mrs. Delaney said she saw you wearing an apron outside of the (she whispered) Piggly Wiggly in OVER-ton. I called the manager to see if this was true and he said to call you. It took me 20 minutes to get your telephone number from him. Where are you even living? A brothel?!"

Marla wondered if he delved at all into her exact job description.

"I don't like school," she said bluntly.


Marla could hear her mother's arms fly into the air.

"There's plenty of girls your age who don't go to school. I mean, for goodnness sakes, Marla, you don't have to work at a grocery store to avoid college--You could get married and raise a family."

Marla froze. Getting married was exactly what she was about to do. The qualities of her relationship were different than she knew her mother would endorse, but the premise of her story would sell, nonetheless.

All in one breath she blurted, "Mother, I've met someone. I'm in love and we're getting married. I...think you'll like him."

Marla smiled devilishly and realized that her mother really WOULD like him. George was the cream of the pure-bred crop in everyone else's eyes. She wouldn't even have to try to make him sound like not a drunk. His reputation was golden--ambiguous, but golden.

Then, Marla spoke the words she knew any mother would love to hear.

"In fact," she said, "you're friends with his mother!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

what's going on in there?

The arguing escalated to a deafening silence.

Sensing that he had neither a care nor a plan for how to deal with the impending photographer, she silently decided they would proceed with taking the portrait. He silently agreed.

The fragment of hope that, maybe he would be better soon, kept her awake at night. That and the gaping emptiness of 2,000 count Egyptian cotton lying next to her. Their guest room hadn't housed visitors in 3 months and their bed no longer housed him.

The fragment of hope that, maybe she would leave kept him awake at night. He fantasized about her being the one to pull the trigger. Too fearful to leave and too apathetic to try, he progressed on, lifeless and hypnotically vacant. His erratic anger that once demanded her submission had evolved into an eerie calm. She restlessly awaited the next quake, not knowing when or if it would come.

The photographer arrived 5 minutes early.

And so they sat, unattached, uninterested, and unlovingly apart from one another as the photographer whistled politely to himself in between sputtering rants of nervous babble.

"Alrighty there, now let's have one where you sort of tilt your knees over to the le--ahhh, yes. Ok now can you come down just one step there, mam, alri--ok, no ok then just sit right there, goooood, yes, just perfect, perfect. There we go and a smile from you sir would be--alri-ok then, that's fine, ok now, alrighty and a 1, 2..."

As they sent the photographer away, she choked up so hard she had to pretend to sneeze and ran to the bathroom "for a tissue."

The first time he noticed she hadn't come out of the bathroom was 6 hours later when he was mowing the yard. His lawnmower chewed up a piece of broken glass that had fallen from the bathroom window when she pried it open. She'd gotten out.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I rode the bus to work!

At approximately 11:02 last night I said, "Rita (I call myself I don't. Just kidding) you've got to just get on the bus and do it. No more 'I wanna ride the bus someday,' tomorrow is your day. Look up the schedule and ride."

So this morning at 7:30 as I was listing reasons NOT to follow through, a small bird flew through my window and chirped, "follow your dreams, get on the bus." So I did. And NOW, instead of a list of reasons NOT to ride, I formulated a list of reasons why I WANT to ride the bus all the time:

  1. the walks from my house to the bus and from the last stop to my office were brisk; just what I need in the morning. That and a couple shots of Cuervo. Ohhhh, Sarah!
  2. Riding the bus reminded me of when I lived in New York. All these memories flooded back of being completely reliant on public transit. I remembered scurrying down the street every morning to 86th and Lexington, hopping on the 6 and flying to 51st street. I can still smell the lingering cigarette smoke from the tiny Hispanic girl that inevitably made her way in front of me at least 3 times a week on the walk across Park and Madison over to 30 Rockefeller Plaza...and yet, despite the fondness of those sights, sounds and cancer inducing smells, I have no doubt or reservation that Austin > New York. By far.
  3. I will save at least 8 million/year in gasoline if I ride the bus a couple times a week.
  4. another reason I want to ride the bus is people watching...and randomly talking to (at) the people I've been staring at. Today I was nervous about missing my stop so I kept quiet and focused, but I have grandiose visions of becoming best friends with my fellow riders and eventually being able to introduce them to the greatest news of all time: Jesus loves them.
  5. I want to ride the bus so I can bring donuts or breakfast tacos for people. I was on the bus with the same people for 20 minutes. No additions, no subtractions. Just me, Louie, Marie, Candice, Jared, Cathy, wait I'm making all these names up. But really, I think it would be SO fun to bring breakfast for my busmates! (DANGIT, my coworker just told me that you can't have food or drink...hmm...maybe if I pass out tacos discretely he won't notice. What can he do, throw me off?! uhh, probably)
  6. The less I get behind the wheel of a vehicle, the better.
  7. It will force me to get up when my alarm goes off because if I miss the bus, I have to wait 30 minutes for another one and well, I can't do that.
  8. It's FREEING not having to weave in and out of traffic and flip people off while trying not to hit pregnant ladies as they cross the street--I just got to sit back and ride! PLUS, the reason I got to SIT is because two fine gentlemen gave up their seats so that me and another girl could sit down. I love that! Thank you, Ernie and Leon! Or whatever your names were!
  9. Riding the bus is a good reminder that it's not about me. I don't have any control how fast he drives, and I don't have any control over whether or not the guy next to me bathes and/or deodorizes himself. That being said, riding the bus was a great test of my new deodorant. I smell like flowers and it was in the upper 80's this morning so I think it passed the test.
  10. Finally, the last reason I want to ride the bus is: IT'S FREE BECAUSE I'M A "STUDENT" (I'm going to school at night to get a degree in american sign language interpreting)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another Short Story

Ronnie Filmore was blind. We used to test him to make sure he wasn't lying and sure enough, every time, we'd end up with his candy or his baseball and he'd just be sitting there glossy-eyed and happy, not knowing that he'd been burgled. Now the reason we kept thinking he might be a liar is because his twin brother was.

The lying brother, his name was Albert, once told our principal that Darcy Clements, the most hated do-gooder in the 2nd grade, exposed herself to him on the playground. He claimed that he and his brother were sitting near the oak tree coming up with words that rhymed with "match" when Darcy suddenly appeared and lifted her dress up plum over her head. With the only witness being his blind brother, it was Albert's word against Darcy's.

Ronnie knew better than to cross his brother--he'd learned enough times in their 7 years of life that bloody noses hurt and it's better to keep quiet even if it meant silently contributing to a lie. But he also knew better than to think for a second that Darcy Clements would flash anything but the bathtub curtain. Still, aiding and abetting Albert's lies had become his full-time job.

When Principal Mulaney looked Ronnie in the wandering eye and asked, "Did you, uh, hear anything, son, that would lead you to believe that Darcy Clements was acting inappropriately with her, uh, clothing, in regards to your brother that day on the playground?," Ronnie softly nodded his head yes. When prompted for an explanation, he said in a mumbled whisper, "She told Albert that she had a couple of presents for him and then she...mmpullledupher mmher dress."

Albert tried not to smile as his brother forced out lies like a seasoned mobster. Darcy would be expelled--maybe even home schooled or sent to the special school for kids who threw rocks or had trouble keeping their clothes on. His heart raced at the thought of getting away with such a tremendous fabrication.

Just as Albert envisioned a standing ovation from all the boys who wished they'd pulled off what he so daringly had, Principal Mulaney picked up the phone. Then, in a moment they hadn't quite planned for, they heard the friendly squawk of their mother's voice saying "Filmore residence" on the other end. Unsure of what to think or do next, Albert wet his pants for the first time in 4 years...and then, Principal Mulaney handed him the phone.

"Go ahead, tell her what you did."


No one saw the Filmore Brothers after that.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Picture and Some Words

Steve Martin (of sicolamartin) and I were talking the other day about how fun it is to mentally make up stories about people you see in random photographs at antique stores (what, you don't do that? hmm) Side note: I buy old pictures and cards at antique stores and give them to people. It's kind of my thing. Anyway, Steve said, "hey, you should actually write stories to go along with the pictures and blog about them." Good idea, right?! Well, last year I wrote this blog, a short story about a lonely self-amputee who stole her neighbor's cat. It's pretty much the only story writing experience I have--I've never been learned to do the story writin'--I just enjoy arrangin' words!

June Mathis was born May 7, 1949 just outside of Electra, Texas. Saying she was born "just outside" of Electra doesn't do nearly as much clarifying good as if it were "just outside of Dallas" or San Antonio. Electra's a small panhandle town surrounded by small panhandle towns. Only place up there worth a pushpin in a map is Amarillo.
June was born to John, a welder and Claire Ann, a book keeper who worked up until about the third trimester when June's wiggling began to impede her ability to get a good breath. Claire Ann found it hard to keep her eyes uncrossed and her head clear when standing for more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time, so she resolved, without much deliberation and almost with extreme anticipation, to idleness and sleeping for the rest of her pregnancy. Had she not been with child, this cross-eyed predicament was likely to manifest at some point; Claire Ann had grown to be a bit of a weary and paranoid soul. This baby was Claire Ann's "get out of doing anything free" card. Understandably, this frustrated her husband, John, because he'd grown quite accustomed to her hand battered, hand fried, hand served chicken each night.
Rest assured he was still fed mighty well--Mrs. Barefoot, their widowed and persistently cooking neighbor, came by their 3 bedroom 2 bath house every night at 6:25 sharp with one of two meals: green bean casserole with mashed potatoes and a pitcher of sweet tea or fried green beans with squash and a pitcher of sweet tea. Mrs. Barefoot believed in sweet tea as much as she believed in America. She didn't as much believe in green beans, but her deceased husband did. Their pantry (and cellar and bedroom and part of their living room) was a living example of Cold War stockpiling. Since he was finally (she'd deny the word "finally") gone, she could start to get rid of the stacks of canned clutter that blocked creamy yellow paint he'd brushed onto their walls 3 summers before.
At 6:15 every night, Claire Ann would roll off of the couch and waddle to the powder room in a usually futile attempt freshen up her drab, lifeless face. At 6:24 each night, against her will but knowing it was their only hope of a hot meal, Claire Ann would tap and tug at her hair one last time in front of the entry hall mirror in anticipation of Mildred's delivery. The mirage of being put together was something Claire Ann would chase to the grave. She kept a tube of cherry red lipstick in her apron pocket for moments like this. That most of it ended up on her teeth was the irony. At exactly 6:25, she'd open the door, take the food, say thank you, and flash an insincere smile. Their relationship had been strained, to say the least, ever since Mildred's husband Ernie's funeral.
Claire Ann was a savvy girl. She knew a lingering pair of peepers when she saw them. As the casket descended into the ground, and every watered eye at the graveyard watched intently as if to make sure no one dropped it, Claire Ann turned, chin to shoulder, to clear her throat. That's when she saw Mildred look at John, that way, for the first time. Claire Ann had known that their neighbors' marriage was not the most loving institution, but until that day, she'd never thought Mildred was a shifty-eyed whore of a husband stealer. Granted, John didn't seem to reciprocate the romantically ophthalmic advancement. But still, Claire Ann's suspicions were ignited...

Friday, December 25, 2009

this one is about the time biff's dog ate a box of chocolate

Last night, while the Young family was at Christmas Eve church, Barkley Mae, Lindsay's mentally underdeveloped maltipoo, unwrapped and subsequently ingested an entire box of Russell Stover chocolates. Here for you, today only, is an actual, word for word transcription of the transpiration, including a fascinating inclusion of Barkley Mae's INNER THOUGHTS:

Disclaimer: this will make no sense at all unless you've met Barkley Mae. If you haven't this won't be funny. If you have, it'll make complete sense. The dog is needy of attention like a child who's been locked in a closet for 10 years.

BARKLEY MAE: Mom mom mom mom mom mom mom don't leave mom don't leave me mom please don't leave me mom mom mom please don't leave me grandma grandpa ryan mom please don't leave me mom mom mom

LINDSAY: Barkley Mae, we'll be right back my little angel of the Lord


BARKLEY MAE: (making a b-line upstairs to urinate on something) I'm going to pee on mom's bed I'm going to pee on mom's shoes I'm peeing in the corner right now. I'm peeing. I'm barking at the fan. I peed. I'm peeing and barking simultaneously. Attention. Give me attention. Someone pet me. Where is everyone?

Kibbles give me kibbles no...chocolate. I smell chocolate. I'm barking because I smell chocolate. bark bark. chocolate. Use your sniffer, Barkley, use it. Find the chocolate

(Barkley Mae finds Lindsay's bag in the pitch black)

I DON'T HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS! I'M BARKING BECAUSE I JUST REALIZED I DON'T HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS. Use your teeth, Barkley. Bark Bark. Pee a little in excitement. the celophane off. Yeah, get that corner. Ok it's open it's open mommmmm mom mom bark bark mom it's open. You got me chocolate! I'm so excited! I love chocolate. Bark bark. HEY NEIGHBOR'S DOG WHO I HATE AND BARK AT CONSTANTLY: I GOT CHOCOLATE! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME!

Chew chew bark bark swallow...MOM! Is this caramel?! MOM, bark bark mom! This is so good! Burp! Bark bark! Ahhhh this is is so fun I just ate the whole thing! AHH I FOUND MORE CHOCOLATE! MORE CHOCOLATE! THANKS MOM! Bark bark! (inhales more chocolate)

LINDSAY: We're home, my beautiful little butterfly lover with a heart of gold whom I love named Barkley Mae!

LINDSAY: (screams bloody murder when she sees remnants of chocolate) BARKLEY MAYFLOWER! WHAT DID YOU DO?! (calls vet in panic and finds out Barkley didn't eat a lethal amount...waits all night/all day for her to throw up or have diarreah. Nothing. The dog acted completely normal. So bizarre.)

The end.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Short Story #1

Lillian worked from home. She wasn't much for meandering about town. Her apartment was quaint and required no outside maintenance, so no one needed in. Her countenance was quaint and required no outside maintenance, so she didn't have to let anyone in. Her groceries were purchased online and delivered to the doorstep; she was always "in the shower." She'd never actually seen or tipped the delivery boy. The mild fever she had in 2002 was remedied with a cold bath and 2 days of bed rest. Bills were sent and paid online. Her family consisted of one newly-married and newly-religious sister who moved to Utah when one of her husband's wive's mothers fell ill and required constant care. Lillian cut her hair with the scissors in the bathroom drawer, the reflection from the bathroom mirror and the hand she'd purchased from after the incident. She calls it an incident but if anyone knew what'd really happened, they'd call a lawyer.

Lillian never called for an ambulance. She Googled "self amputation" with her good hand and followed the directions meticulously while chewing on a piece of leather and waiting for the Tylenol to digest.

Despite her condition, embroidery and similar examples of threaded craftiness were a hobby and a livelihood. A strangely vibrant website showcased her myriad of hand-made goods. One would assume, when perusing her site, that she was a 30-something-and-entrepreneurial stay-at-home mom of 3 trying to make some money on the side for the kids' college funds. Professionally and colorfully crafted for a seamless product ordering experience, it was the antitheses of Lillian's personal carriage. An excess of personal time, or an exclusive reservation for it, allowed Lillian to learn the trade of Java Script and interactive web design from the comfort of her laptop and floral print velvet couch. This, combined with competitive pricing and quick turnaround made her the local go-to for all things personalized and commemorative.

Lillian shipped all orders and ironed all details via email. The only ringing in her home was the bell at the top of Jubilee's scratching post.

Jubilee was adopted from the shrub beneath Lillian's window prior to the incident. The air was crisp and light when Lillian heard gentle purrs on the other side of her living room wall. At 3 a.m., she cracked the non-screened window and invited the feline inside for the first time. Her new friend curled in her lap and yawned, leaning her head back to expose her plaid collar and sufficiently descriptive tag. Her shots were up to date and after an instinctive web consultation, it was confirmed that she was void of ringworm. The web consultation also confirmed that the cat was under the care of a veterinarian 2 miles away.

Lillian had been alone, by force, then choice, for 6 months. As she ran her fingers along the spine of the furry guest, she convinced herself that this nomadic feline was somehow a paid debt by the powers that be. She decided the cat's rightful owners could surely replace or make do without her. They surely were strangers to the isolation she felt day after day. She needed the company of a beating heart. She recognized the stereotype immediately and dismissed it, believing that it would take at least 2 more to be deemed a "cat lady."

The sparks of light outside Lillian's window brought instantaneous fear. She knew exactly what was going on. The search party whispered, "Betsy" in varying degrees of loudness, hoping to attract the missing cat and leave the sleepers to their dreaming.

If Lillian's sheet curtains hadn't already been drawn, this would have been her cue. She felt the simultaneous pull of guilt and freedom. For the first time since he left, she smiled. Silently she sat, with the missing pet nuzzling affectionately, for the next hour. When no looming threat remained, Lillian and her tangible, breathing confidante retreated to bed. Lillian slept soundly for 5 whole hours, marking the second "first" of the evening.