Saturday, September 30, 2006

The girl is gone

Yo, peeps...I'm on vacation.

A whole week.

See you all back here on the ninth. I'll be able to tell you all about my MRI by then!

Also, ENTER THE WORDSMITHSUNLIMITED challenge. Now! Support you local artists by becoming one! Solidarity! All for one and one for all! Write one for the Tiffster!

'Til the ninth, then, y'all be good.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ask HAT - with Tracy and Tiff (as Hyperion)

Y'all. I've been asked by Tracy Lynn of KaplyInc to do a spot of filling in on her weekly advice column. Being a person of very little common sense, I agreed.

Below is the result, ripped entirely from Tracy's site (and yes, she said I could).


Welcome, miscreants all, to the latest edition of Ask HAT. We are doing things a bit differently this week, as Hyperion has gone on the run. I'm not sure who's after him; could be Colombian drug lords, could be arbiters of good taste. Either way, Tiff of No Accent Yet has agreed to be the first in a series of guest Hyperions until the authentic one either can set up a new identity or somebody smokes him. I'm hoping somebody smokes him, but that's just because I'm an optimist.

Anyway, here is the least painful Ask HAT we've done, EVER. Enjoy!


When we want your opinion...yeah, that won't happen.

Dear Ask HAT,

What do you look for in a good date?


Looking for Love

Dear Looking,

Tiff: A good date should be sweet, brown, and slightly gritty, with a luscious chewiness and a leathery exterior. The date should go well with wine and is always good when served with a generous amount of cheese and fruits.

Tracy Lynn: Dude, I'm pretty sure the writer is referring to people not fruit. Simmer down there, spaz, and reconsider the question.

Tiff: Hang on now! I WAS talking about people. It's called subtle humor, yo. Read the answer again and see how awesome you think it is now that I've pointed that out. Then, maybe, YOU could answer in whatever way you think your tai-chi-ing self can muster while I go huff some xanax to center myself.

Tracy Lynn: If that's the case, than you are far more the freak than I previously gave you credit for being. Leathery, indeed. And how does one huff Xanax? Do you grind up the pills? Because I can tell you from personal experience that stuff in capsules is meant to be taken orally, no matter how good an idea it sounds to grind it up and snort it.

Tiff: You are cleverly focusing the interest on MY issues, and completely ignoring the question. I can respect that, in light of how hilariously arch my response was. Great wit must be recognized, after all.

Leathery and brown, from the sunny climes of tropical lands just SCREAMS hott. Whoo-ee! I think I need a little time out on that one.

As an aside, huffing Xanax, or any other oral medication, is useful when you have a very sensitive gag reflex, as I do.

Now, please to mention what's a good date for you, before I grab the spotlight entirely with my erudite repartee and block out the sunshine of reader adoration from your little corner of the web.

Tracy Lynn: Obviously, SOMEBODY has been following Hyperion's diet regimen. I prefer guys who are smart and can make me laugh, which is not an easy feat, and additionally would like to point out that the newness and/or cuteness of Tiff will in no way protect her from an asswhuppin'. Just something to keep in mind.

Shall we move on to the next question?

Tiff: Let's do, because I think you just likened me to Hyperion, and now I'm terribly terribly confused. Plus, you threatened to beat me up, and while that might sound good at first blush, I remember about the tai chi and how slowly I run due to the heavy load of cute with which I'm burdened.

Dear Ask HAT,

The first date went very, very, very, very, VERY badly. How can I cut this dud date short?

Signed,Waiting Impatiently For An Exit Strategy

Dear Waiting,

Tracy Lynn: What the hell has happened to the youth of today? When I used to date, and no, I won't explain, my girls and I always set up the Escape Plan, which generally consisted of a sneak phone call on a bathroom trip and being paged at the restaurant/bar/theatre with an 'emergency'. This has become eminently simpler with the advent of technology like text messaging, pagers and cell phones.

Lacking that, I'd fake illness, for example: incoming migraine or perhaps nausea. Make sure it's not too specific, although I'll admit that this tactic failed me, resulting in the dud date sending me a dozen long stemmed roses and following me around until I brutalized him verbally, which wasn't as fun as it sounds.

How about you, Tiff?

Tiff: Well, I know for sure that a quick boink in the back seat to send him on his way won't work at all, because the dozen or so times I tried that I wound up dating the guy for a couple of months thinking there must be something there besides my desperate need for someone to admire the unicorn tattoo that's in a place where the sun don't shine.

So, don't do that.

Some options not mentioned above would be: tell him he's a rebound. get caller ID and avoid him. get good and drunk on his dime, then puke. make a pass at someone else in front of him. talk all about the boyfriend you had with the enormous dick. eat a lot of garlic and act like a close talker. tell him the truth in an honest and gentle manner.

I've heard that the last one does actually work, but I never have had a chance to use it. Seems too cruel.

Wait as second! Did you just say the verbally brutalizing someone wasn't as fun as it sounds? Do NOT tell me you capitulated and went out with him again because you felt guilty for giving him a tongue-lashing!

Tracy Lynn: What, are you mad? Of course not. It just was not the pleasant experience it should have been, considering how tired I was of having him puppy dog me.

Telling him you'd like him to meet your folks sometimes works, as does letting him know you want his kids and that you're looking forward to spending the rest of your life with him. I know that shit sends me running for the proverbial hills.

I DID tell a guy that I had had sandwich pickles bigger than him, and that had a dampening effect on his ardor, thank god.

Wait, unicorn tattoo? How far from where the sun doesn't shine?

Tiff: Ahahahahaha!!!! I totally forGOT about the "I love you so much I want to boil a bunny for you" thing. Wooo! Works like a charm, that one. Talking about children and what a great Mom you'd make and how YOUR mom only got fat after the fifth kid is pretty good, too. Hee!!

Isn't it a huge disappointment to get a gander at a gherkin-sized agent of manhood? I feel badly for the guy, sure, but that wee willie is just gonna be a huge waste of time, because while it might be good for SOME things, it ain't good for most. Too bad there's no really accurate screening tool for tools until it's almost too late.

Then again, with my gag reflex thing......

Anyhow, the tat. Let's just say it has a long flowing mane of real hair! Paulo down at the tattoo parlor took an awfully long time getting it done, I had to go back at LEAST a dozen times to have the color put on her. I think it looks more like a cat, to be quite honest, but it does have a little horn on it's forehead, so I guess it's a unicorn, or maybe a caticorn? I don't know. All I know is it gives the men quite the thrill. You ought to get one, Tracy - they're OK now and not just for whores like my mom said they were when I got mine done.

Tracy Lynn: Thanks , Tiffster, but I already have four and have my tattoist working on the design for the fifth, so I know exactly how much the boys like them.

Tiff: So you ARE just what Hyperion said!

Tracy Lynn: Jesus, he's not even here and he's STILL on my nerves with his asshattery. That's frickin' skill.

And so, the George Washington rule swings into effect. Join us next week, when we plumb the depths of the internet for new questions, a guest host and the possibility of permanent relief from Hyperion. And remember, you've got questions, we've got answers. Whether we share them is another thing entirely.


UPDATE: The newest carnival of the mundane is up at Kapgar's site. Go on and visit!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Tumble Down Mountain"

Do it.

Wordsmiths Unlimited

I did.

Now it's YOUR turn. You have until NEXT Wednesday.


The assignment was to write a mood piece about the picture below, foregoing the usual flash fiction edict of "always have a surprise ending."

This is much much hard then it would appear to be. I struggled.

In the end my offering to you is something that was not at all what I thought it would be, and I'm not at all certain if that's bad or good. It just is.

"Tumble Down Mountain"

I gotta get away from Tumble Down Mountain. I just gotta go. It's not far to the next town, to the next bar, to the next whore. It's not far. Be there in 2 hours. My god, my head hurts and I'm stiff all over. I need a horse and a drink and a lay, in that order, in the worst way.

But there's no damned horses anywhere. Where'd they all go? Tarnation, they was here just this morning. I recall the little paint pony tied up at the door, waiting patient while the preacher read me scripture trying to save my soul again. There was others out back in the corral. I know it.

Oh, wait, I recollect now, something bad happened.

God, that seems like a long time ago already, but if I think on it it must have been just this morning. Injuns came through here yelling hellfire and shrieking like a passel of jackals. Them Injuns come out around Tumble Down Mountain, in the cut where the dogs go to chase wild hogs. They was 20 or 30 of them, naked on their ponies, bright and shining, firece as the noon sun.

Feathers in their hair, as I recall, and blackened faces. What a sight. Scared me half dead. They was hoppin' mad about something, all right.

Was it just this morning? Seems like so much longer ago. Like a bad dream.

The Injuns musta taken the horses. Doesn't that just figure.

Hellshitferdamn, how'm I gonna get to town for a drink to stop this shaking, this weak ghosty feelin' in my head?

Where's Sam, and Rufe, and Bose? They should be here for dinner by now, anyhow.

Aw hell, that's right, the tommyhawks. That coppery smell of blood reminded me. How could I forget the tommyhawks and arrows? Damn, my head is all wispy.

I think poor Sam was in the cowshed, and it's fulla smoke and cinders now. Rufe I guess was out tendin' to the kitchen yard. I heard a wet kind of whack back out that way and heard him scream bloody murder. I haven't looked out there yet to see what became of him. And Bose I think was workin' to gentle a new pony that was brought in from the hills just yesterday. Pretty thing, with a black face and white ass and tiny steppin' hoofs. A regular injun-carpet.

I remember now. All them boys out there when the tribe came racin' through, hacking and yelling and shootin their bows. Scared me half to death, and I'll bet they did the rest of 'em right in.

My head hurts, and I'm stiff all over with blood from this here arrow in my leg. Can't walk to town nohow, but I could ride.

If only there was a horse out front instead of that strange velocipede, and someone to help me mount, I'd be long gone by now.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Word for Wednesday - Prelaspsarian

prelapsarian (pree-lap-SAYR-ee-uhn) adjective

Relating to any innocent or carefree period in the past.

[From Latin pre- (before) + lapsus (fall). The term refers to the period in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve lost their innocence.]


Once again, this word comes from "Oldfriend," who, as her name would suggest, is indeed an friend of mine from back in the day and a woman of grace, intelligence, great good humor, lusty appetite, and firm embouchre.

She is also a vocabularyophile, like your humble author.

"Prelapsarian" is a lovely word, it conjures up so many days gone by when life was an open book, a journey just started, an adventure where anything at all was possible and we were all firm, ripe, and wrinkle-free. Ah, youth.

Brief glimpses into the prelapsarian period for Oldfriend and I would include the following:

- Purple and gold uniforms with Kaiser helmets
- Stairwell parties
- Doctor Ben
- Horn rolling
- P House
- A certain blond cellist and a certain red-headed guitarist in the house with no insulation
- "Sit on my face, and tell me that you love me" (and oh, you naughty peeps, it's not like it sounds)
- The same flowered dress and brown leather sandals
- "Are y'all sisters?"
- The baked potato bar at D-hall
- Eggplant casserole
- That naughty package Chris left us on the front door of the townhouse
- Many many many late nights at Wampler in adjacent practice rooms
- Bus trips, and drunkness, and the "wasted badly" sign of shame.

I could go on, but I think y'all get the idea. Prelapsarian days are golden, nearly carefree, unhinged, and free form. They are the days in which we mould ourselves into the people we eventually become, once we grow into responsibility and 'real life.'

For some of us, the prelapsarian days are longer than others. Some of us abandon them early in search of stability/job/love/family, some of are forced from them through emergency/war/death/stress, some lucky few run away to their own personal circus and never come back.

It would be wise of us all hold them close, refreshing them from time to time with a trip down memory lane or to a physical reunion in order to not forget what it was like, living in our little Gardens of Eden. After all, who we were before we are who we are now is still important, at least as important as who we are now that we are who we are.

(I DARE you to tell me that last sentence doesn't make sense.)

What are some of YOUR fondest prelapsarian memories?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dear Yahoo

Dear people at Yahoo who obviously hate me,

I would like to follow proper format of good letter writing and start my communique to you with a pleasantry before getting to the meat of the matter, so here it is: I have a pair of pink PJs that make me feel like a princess. They're comfy and cute and have no irritating lace.

Now that that's out of the way, can we get down to business? Because I've got something to say, and I want y'all to get the message loud and clear.

Hey, people at Yahoo who obviously hate me, cut it out with all the fancy-pants ads all over the place already!

Cut. It.Out.NOW.

If I see another taut tummy or dancing penguin or animated bear or cellulite-bedecked ass on my screen ever, ever again, you put me at risk of putting a fist through my laptop screen.

You know, here's the real truth of it: I don't really WANT to know how to lose 10 pounds in a week or who Bob Greene is or what the frigging mortgage rates are in my home state.

I especially do not want to have to wait until the freaking stupid ads LOAD all their animated shills before I can access my e-mail or read the news (um, comics, but you get the point).

So, Yahoo, my plea to you is to stop it. Stop it now.

Those ads are like a tired hungry toddler in the grocery store check out line. They're like a blister that forms during the first mile of a 5-mile hike. They're like waiting for the tollbooths because the EZ pass lanes are out of service. They're like having to provide your driver's license and phone numer to the grocery clerk who has already swiped your super-saver secret pass card, who should already KNOW that infomation! They're like those ceiling-mounted speakers at WalMart that blast ads and insipid music directly into your pineal gland, stimluating the buying urge in a haze of blood rage. They're like a tag on the neck of a new shirt, or socks that bunch up around the toes, or sleeves that are too tight, or accidentally grinding your teeth, or not being able to sleep in the middle of the night.

In short, Yahoo, those daggone ads like every single other annoying thing that gets in the way of smooth efficient progress toward a goal, only they're worse, because they're RIGHT IN MY FACE AND I CAN'T GET AWAY FROM THEM! I'm powerless to stop them, which makes me annoyed with a capital "NOYED."

So please, Yahoo, won't you just stop it already with the raindrops of interest rates, with the parade of toned honies (and, by the way, where are the hot MEN on these ads?), with the panting dogs of fiduciary opportunity, with the FREAKING STUPID PEOPLE DANCING ON ROOFTOPS whose butt waggles and flinging dreadlocks make me motion sick and worried for their safety every time I see them prancing along the red tiles of their newly financed homes.

If you won't do it for me, then for the sake of the dancing people, Yahoo, you must stop the ads. They could fall and break some sillouhetted something, and that's gotta hurt and might be a lawsuit in the making.

The sooner you stop, the better, because I can feel the hot ball of irritation swelling in my chest, and pretty soon it's going to be a very nasty case of ire indeed, which causes chafing and rash and is an entirely unpleasant experience for all involved, one of whom is going to be someone in your ads department who will be getting a rather nasty letter from me, your loyal and very regular user.

You don't want that, do you? Do you?

Think about it, and if you know what's good for you and me both, I can look forward to an ad-free life in the very near future.

Like, NOW would be good.


Monday, September 25, 2006


As mentioned on Friday, I was offered up another opportunity to write a story from a picture in tandem with the future ruler of the world, Hyperion. The rules of the game remained as they've been the previous couple of go-rounds: we write our own thing (I choose to stick with a sub-500-word format) and then post the result, with links to the other person's story, without knowing what their story is about.

Doing these writing exercises is becoming a little addictive, I have to say. The real challenge in it, to my mind, is coming up with an idea that makes sense. For this iteration I threw out a half-dozen ideas that would only bake halfway before collapsing. Even with THIS story there are things I would change, but fortunately time was up and I had to stop working on it.

(Kingfisher, your rules for writing helped a lot, and even though this is rough, it's way better than
the first draft.)

Hyperion, once again, thanks for asking me to play.


First, the picture,

which is from Kara Castro, who is immensely talented.

Next, Hyperion's story, which can be found here..... go ahead, read it first, I know you want to.

Then, my story.

"Where's Marisol?"

“Look at Marisol, she’s doing it again.”

“Shh, Mama, she can hear you.”

“Well, she sure doesn’t look like she can. She looks like she’s in another world.”

“Mama, enough. You know how she is. She’ll come around again soon enough.”

“What is it about her? Why does she do that?”

“Mama, I don’t know. Here, come to the kitchen with me for a cup of coffee and we’ll talk until you have to go home.”

Their quiet chatting was a low muffled buzz in Marisol’s ears, a mossy kind of nonsense. The afternoon sun slanted through the blinds, casting lengths of dark and light against the flowered rug. Marisol focused her attention on the thousands of twists of wool under her feet, waiting.

When she was very still and quiet, the wee people came. They were fascinating, part of a whole different world tinier than anything. Marisol loved watching them, and they didn’t seem to mind her presence.

They crawled up the yarn forest to soak in fresh air and sun. She knew many of them by sight, and over time had learned to hear their voices, distant and small. She knew what some of their words meant, and knew that every afternoon they foraged for crumbs under the dining table. Some semaphored distant friends with eyelash-sized flags, while others used kites made of dust and cat hair to fly around an inch or so about the vast plain of carpet.

Marisol saw one of the rice-grain-sized kiters being blown around by the breath of her sleeping dog. The tiny boy was young like her, and didn’t seem to be in control of the sail. He was getting so close she could could look in his eyes, and saw he was afraid. He was too high, and would never get back home if he sailed too far!

Thinking quickly, Marisol decided to breathe him back to the ground. His terrified eyes turned trusting as she puffed gently at him, guiding him backward and down to the surface. Presently he was safe again, and shouted a faint thanks before sliding down a rope the exact color of her hair toward the invisible world below.

Exausted with excitement and effort, Marisol laid full out on the rug, in need of a nap in the late day sun. As she sank into sleep, dreams came, vivid and quick, of life with the tiny people. She felt like she was falling, smaller and smaller, into the world beneath her.

“Marisol, Marisol! Where have you got to! We’ve got to take Grandma back to the home for supper!”

“Dammit, girl, we have GOT to go! This is no time to be playing!”

Marisol thought that there was nothing ever could be scarier than the heels of Mama’s shoes as they stomped above her head. Then she fell back to sleep, deep in the dark carpet forest.


That's all there is to it. Feel free to play along on your own blog if this picture speaks to you, and let me know if you did.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I'm changing my avatar again! The pink-haired goth girlthat has been serving as my avatar is cute, and of course is what I look like on most days, but I've become so smitten with the girl in my blog header that I've decided to put her out there for further distribtion.

So, it's likely you'll see her show up in your blog comments if you use Blogger, because she's in my profile now.

Farewell, goth girl, welcome porny girl!

Ah, the hit's I'll get off THAT phrase......

Friday, September 22, 2006

Let's hit the mailbag, gumbo!

The e-mails have been pouring in as of late, the torrent is causing me to wonder from whence this now popularity has arisen. However, I am not one to look fortune in the eye and tell it to piss off, and so I welcome all the missives launched in my general direction.

Hereunder, find my responses to some very nice e-mail I've received this week, from many mysterious people and in unusual languages. I'm an international celebrity, or so it would appear!


From: "’†‘º ˜aŠó"

To: me, obviously

E*š*EE*™*EE*š*EE*™*EE*š*EE*™*EE*š*EE*™ @@@@@@@@@@@@‚¨„«ì„«—l„«Œä„«—p„«’B„«I„«I„«@ @@@@@@@@@@@@„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®@@@ @@@@@@@@@‚·„«‚ׄ«‚Ä„«‚ª„«Š®„«‘S„«‰i„«‹v„«–³„«—¿„«ô„«@@ @@@@@@@@@@„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®„ª„®@@

Dear dun896,

I am SO glad you asked me this question. Frankly, it's not every day that people have the courage to bring up their intimate issues, especially when they involve sheep and party hats, so kudos to you for being the brave one! My suggestion would be to find a girl in a shearling coat at an ice skating party and make friends. She'll have the fuzzy feel and cold feet you crave, and maybe the whole party hat thing can happen on the third date.

Good luck with that!


To: me, again!
Re: my darling

If you are telling me the truth, then you have a man at with the soft eyes. He broke down again, shaking with was a strong indication of the value the Corps put on.

Dear charrison,

My dear, you have touched my heart. Not only have you taken the time to write me a line or two of poetry (which I will try to decipher later, so deep is it), but you also provided me with a nice table of discount erectile dysfunction medications you're offering. How thoughtful, and thought-provoking (rowr, you rascal!).


From: "L“c “úØ"
To: (what? NOT me? How very odd indeed)

Dear quadrange866,

Oops! There was no message! Whatever can this mean? Also, I was not on your distribution list. Did you BCC me to somehow shield mbryantsr from the knowledge that you know me? What was it you wanted me to know? What terrible fate has befallen you that you could not include a message? If you can read this, please know I'm anxious to know what's going on with you, and when I will hear from you again.


I'm loath to think of how many others I have unceremoniously dumped from the bulk folder straight into the trash, without fully appreciating the sentiments or mysteries contained within. I hope that by providing answers to some of the most common e-mails, I've helped to answer most of them. Once I figure out the crazy moon language most of them are written in, I'm sure I can be of more help to those who are pressing me for answers.


Check out "International Day" today, and BE the Hobbit, y'all. You now have an excuse. Also, you have a chance to come up with a cool Hobbit name! Sweet Friday Hobbity action!


Monday's post is slated to contain another short fiction thang cowritten with the future ruler of the world, Hyperion. He's on a short break right now, but plans to be back in action soon, once he figures out how to get river midget stink out of his couch.


And, just in case you were wondering, it's very very nice down here in the old North State, yo. Woke up to temps in the mid-50's, supposed to be 75 this afternoon, and as sunny as a fresh egg yolk. As I just told my buddy Utenzi, it's a darn good day for hiking. Or fishing. Or hanging out in the backyard listening to classic rock and reading a comic book. Or taking a nap.

You know, ANYTHING but working.

Have a super-dee-duper weekend folks.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hello, gorgeous

Overheard on the radio this morning:

"Live at the Crazy Horse saloon, it's Miss Nude Blonde Universe!"


First I laughed. Then I started feeling a little sick.

The questions raised by this one brief commerical whirled madly forth:

What if she were my daughter? What would I say to her about the choices she was making? How would I come to grips with the notion that a child of mine was Miss Nude Blonde Universe?

Who are these young women? What led them to the point at which they thought being Miss Nude Blonde Universe was a great idea?

For that matter, who are any of the women who want to be in skin shows, or porn flicks, or magazines, or nude photos that end up plastered all over the intenet? Where do they think it's going to get them?

What happens to the vast majority of them 10 years down the road? Not all of them can reach noteriety, hook up with a rock star or celebrity, make enough money off their perfect bodies to live on. Then what?

Where will Miss Nude Blonde Universe be in 5 years? What happens when the perfection starts to sag? How will she fix gravity and time? Who will she be when the crown of Blonde Nudeness is torn from her head and placed on the shimmering brow of a taut young honey with dreams of success in her plasticized breast?

Why does this make me sad?

As background, I have a confession to make to all y'all here, and I hope you don't think less of me for saying it:

At one point in my life, many years ago, I was a body dysmorphic exerciseaholic whose only real concern was how good I looked and how many calories I'd injested that day.

I wouldn't eat for days, hoping to shave off that last few ounces of fat from my hips. I worked out for HOURS a day, hoping to get my shoulder muscles to ripple with a little more definition, to get the crease of muscle in my calves to flex more deeply, to keep my thighs from touching when I stood with my ankles together, to make my hipbones jut out a little further from my concave stomach. I cared more about how I looked than how I felt, or who I was.

I was fucked up, for sure.

At that time I could have easily been on the road to Miss Nude Blonde Universe-dom, except one day I looked in the mirror and said "enough already," and started to work on ME instead of my body.

I'd like to think that effort has paid off.

But what if these girls never get to that point? What if their whole life is the pursuit of corporeal perfection and they never DO work on themselves, find out who they really are, dig under the makeup and hair dye to look at what lies beneath?

Where will they be, 5, 10, 20 years down the road?

Why does this make me sad?

Maybe they're happy. Maybe this is the pinnacle of achievement for them. Maybe this is what they've always wanted, ever since they were a little girl and idolized Barbie, or wanted to be just like the ladies in the magazines their Daddies read so that he'd like THEM too, or needed the boys to like them because they were hungry for love. Maybe that's OK. Maybe there's a place in this world for those girls to grow up to be Miss Nude Blonde Universe.

And that also makes me a little sad.

It's not as though I don't enjoy beautiful things, those freaks of nature that are so harmonious in their affect that regular mortals stop in their tracks to admire them are meant to be appreciated.

Nature loves pretty things, and creates them all the time.

But Miss Nude Blonde Universe isn't natural. Nature isn't airbrushed or spray tanned or botoxed or augmented. Miss Nude Blonde Universe defies nature and is sculpted, buffed, bleached, pumped full of silicone and collagen, cartooned into some technicolor version of a pretty thing.

She can't last.

She'll fade, as all pretty things of nature do.

And then what? What then?

That's why I'm sad. What then, indeed.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wordy Wednesday

Here's a gear-switch for ya; today it's all about new words! Yay words!!!

As many of you know, I get a daily vocabulary word e-mailed to me from A Word A Day. (interesting article on its founder is here) From time to time there are words on there that are not only unusual, but useful too. I do love me those days, and try to work the new bit of language into normal conversation. Highly entertaining, at least to me.

Feel free to snicker at what passes for amusement in my world.

That being said, and the snickering being over, the words for today are NOT from AWAD, but rather were forwarded to me by "Oldfriend," who is also a lover of large, unusual, and useful words. See the things you can find out about people if you stay friends with them long enough? I would never have known about this particular fetish of hers (if one can call it that, and I just did, so there) way back during college days, because 1) I was drunk a lot and wasn't really creating a stable long-term memory base, 2) I was all about the boys and therefore wasn't really paying all that close attention to my girlfriends (thank heaven they stuck with me - thanks y'all!), and 3) I was so self-centered that unless something impacted me personally I probably didn't give it a whole lot of thought.

Ain't it nice how time changes a person? I think so.

So, in a tip o' the hat to her, I present to you 2 lovely, unusual, AND useful bits of our vocabulary she shared with me from the daily wordfeed.

Vocabulary tidbit 1:

vade mecum \vay-dee-MEE-kuhm; vah-dee-MAY-kuhm

noun:1. A book for ready reference; a manual; a handbook.2. A useful thing that one regularly carries about.

Published use: Roget's Thesaurus, which had come into being as a linguistic example of the Platonic ideal, became instead a vade mecum for the crossword cheat.-- Simon Winchester, "Word Imperfect",
The Atlantic, May 2001

My contribution to the use of this term: My vade mecum is purple and sometimes gets infected.

Vocabulary tidbit #2:

pervicacious \puhr-vih-KAY-shuhs\

adjective:Refusing to change one's ideas, behavior, etc.; stubborn; obstinate.

Published use (and oh, how I love this one!): The language of the bureaucrats and administrators must needs be recognized as an outgrowth of legal parlance. There is no other way to explain its pervading, pervicacious and pernicious meanderings.--
New York Law Journal, May 27, 1909

My contribution to the use of this term: Allison was a sweet young thing once, until her pervicacious nature caused her to catch the syphillis.

See? Easy-peasy to use them in regular conversation! Like falling off a log, but using big/arcane/easily misunderstood words. What could be more fun than that, I ask you?

Now, your assignment is to use them too. Perhaps even correctly, if you feel so inspired.

Leave your offerings in the comments or work them into a future post and tell me you did. Together, we can wedge these words back into common parlance, and will have done a very good thing indeed.


Here's a little thing you should never, ever, ever try to do. Because as we all know, an elephant NEVER forgets, and this chick's days at the zoo are officially oh-vah.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Confusion reigns supreme

Firstly, let me just say that this story has one very telling line. I have a feeling that the "4-inch organ" thing might have been a little disappointing.


Secondly, and this is the major point I want to make in today's post, it is always wise to keep your emotions under control.

Knowing that, I now say that today I am going to play the part of the town idiot.

Here's why.

I belong to a few group blogs, sometimes going by Tiff, sometimes not. One of the group blogs has been undergoing somewhat of a renovation lately, to the confusion and consternation of most of its members. This group blog is administered by someone who, it appears, believes that the people who contribute to the group blog should not have any sense of ownership of it because he started it and therefore can do anything he wants to with it.

Including kicking everybody out with no warning.

You know what? I'm pissed about that.

I'm pissed because I DID have some sense of ownership. I DID have some sense of comraderie. I DID have some sense of belonging to a group of cool people who were having fun.

I DO have a sense of being jerked around.

I HATE being jerked around.

Hate it, hate it, hate it.

My emotions are absolutely not in control. I fee like an idiot for being angry. I feel used, quite frankly, and duped by believing that my contributions, no matter how small, were useful or entertaining or whatever.

But, you know, maybe they weren't useful or entertaining or whatever, and if they weren't then I wouldn't mind if the group owner had said to me "you know, your stuff just isn't really fitting in with the remit of this exercise, so I'm going to take you off the rolls. Thanks for playing." I could take that. I really could. I'm a big girl, I can understand REASONS, and know that I'm not all things to all people. But that's not what happened.



It's just a stupid blog, for God's sake! My life will go on. If I'm invited back I won't go. There's no way on this earth or any other that I need that kind of confusion. I do NOT need to sit around waiting for crumbs of acceptance and inclusion, like some sycophantic toady grovelling at the altar of an imperious overlord.

Seethe, seethe, seethe. Grrrrrr.........

I need to wrangle my anger into something useful, like a whirl of productivity so tremendous that I might actually get all my outstanding training done, catch up on my project tracking, write everything I'm supposed to, pay my bills, return those library books, polish my nails, clean my house, help the kids with their homework, water the plants, and get a freaking life already.

Yeah, that's it.

But for now, grrrrrrr.......dammit.

(author's postscript - I did get over it, but not before I acted like a big fucking baby and whined like a mofo and acted a little rashly. And even though that all felt good at the time, it doesn't now. When will I learn to grow up already?)

Thirdly, here's a peach of a news item: Wowser, the things kids learn at school these days.


Fourthly - there's a new challenge up at Wordsmithsunlimited. A tone poem of words, if you will. Check it out, and play along, won't you?

Monday, September 18, 2006


Aw heck, why NOT do it? Talk like a pirate day comes but once a year!

The website will translate for ya and everything, or so they say.

(Which, when using their translator, becomes:

Ahoy, aw heck, why Not do it? Gar.)

Bonus material: 29 things to say at the office during pirate day! I love #14.

What on earth happened?

Freaking holy mother of pearl.

My lord.

What the heck HAPPENED?


(mops brow, takes deep breath)


I need a nap after the weekend I just had.


I ask you, is it foolishness to drive 5 hours on Saturday
to the town in which you went to college half a life time ago in order to meet up with some friends of the friend with whom you're travelling and then spend the next 5 hours in a bar and the 5 hours after that around one person's dining room table quaffing beer after beer and talking shit about all and sundry until such time as you realize it's time to hit the couch for a few hours because suddenly you can't see so good and might maybe need to take a little rest before the room starts to wobble precariously? Hmmm?

Is it also foolish to drive BACK the next day, over hills and dales so lushly green and gorgeous that it about tears your heart out with longing to be surrounded by that view, that place, every day for the rest of your life? Why not just stay? Why not just ease back into that life again, into the rhythm of the place, into the comfort of old friends and familiar surroundings, to have the empty place in your heart be filled with what you've been missing?

Would that it were possible.

Would that it were possible to be able to withstand the onslaught of partying well into the night too!

But, regrettably, it's not possible.

(I mean, I'm a reasonably serious acolyte of the Church of Holy Spirits, and thought I could party with the big dawgs, but I realize now I'm a poser in the scheme of things. This troubles me, because if I train with the aim to hit in "the bigs," I'm going to cause myself some serious hepatic damage.)

And again, it was a weekend that was all about the talking. Criminently, the talking. Ten hours in a car with a person leaves a lot of conversational room in which to wander, and I think with every mile traveled we covered a new topic. OK, MAYBE we stayed on conversational track for a few miles, but certainly not more than 20 per topic. Fascinating, really, to have that kind of time with someone, to find out what they're thinking, what their philosophies are, to be able to dig into tough issues, to agree on the beauty of your surroundings or moan about families or dish a secret or two.

Asolutely fascinating.

Also fascinating to "re-meet" two people who are friends of the travel buddy and who I must have at one point met in my former life but don't remember very well and to realize that I SHOULD have known them better because damn I want to be them when I want to grow up, all three of them, and if a little of their cool could rub off on me I'd be grateful because then there'd be hope for me yet, I swear to God there would.

Coffee on the back porch, listening to the horses sputter and whiffle, letting the sun rise over our conversation and bagels.

The deep green of the fields and sensuous rolling hills.

Many empty bottles of beer.

Bonds made or strengthened.

And hello, "Horseflies"? Please make some more music.

Big shaggy yellow dog, blue glass in the window, Blue Ridge out the window, bees in the liriope, boxwood in the yard, names raining from memories, laughter ringing the table, ashtrays and hummus, the nuclear croissant.

Youngsville house to Danville to Lynchburg to Harrisonburg and back in one weekend.


I still want a nap.




And, because I'm trying to be more Southern, and therefore polite (Subway man at the truck stop in Roanoke? Thanks much for calling me "ma'am" over and over again), I will ask you "how was YOUR weekend"? and pretend to be interested in your answers.

I'm in afterglow, y'all, and maye still a tiny bit hung over. I promise to be more attentive tomorrow.

Friday, September 15, 2006

sump'n fun, for a change

Hey y'all. Let's amuse ourselves today, shall we?


I believe this is the funniest thing I've heard in a long time.

In case you want to do this at your next karaoke spectacular,
here are the lyrics.


Heheheh - I want the voodoo toothpick holder from Miss Poppy's site.


Cool, but probably not all that comfy to sleep with.


I'm so happy this kid was born by C-section.


Ninja bank robber. Polly shoulda just used the fake gun, dude.


Oh boy, this might take a while.


OK, I'm feeling better about MY life now.


And with that, this insansely lame link-fest is ovah. Have fun with the clicker, and have a marvy weekend, folks!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Seville Summer

Once again, Hyperion has asked me to write a story with him. Well, not WITH him, exactly, more like in parallel with him. Neither of us knows what the other one is writing, much like the activities at

This is how it workd out last time; this time I got to pick the picture. I also stuck to the sub-500-word format like we did last time.

His story is HERE. Mine is below. I hope you enjoy both.


Ah, the hot sweaty nights in Spain were some of the best of my life. To be young and free in one of the great cities of the world is a gift. If I had only known then what I know now, I would have made so much more use of that time in Seville.

I worked as a lady's companion. My lady was removed from the city for the space of a few months, and did not need my services. She released me for the summer with enough to live on and a promise to call me back to her palacio at harvest time.

In those days the great cathedral was like new, and people said that the Alcazar was almost finished. I would walk with the Sevillanos and Sevillanas along the Guadalquivir or through the plaza, watching people, soaking up the strong scents from the Moorish shops and Greek's houses, nibbling a bit of mantecado. Bright bolts of cloth in the draper's windows, hams and joints hanging in the butcher's stalls, long loaves of bread being whisked from the bakeries to the great houses, the bankers with their scales clinking gold and silver, offering the promise of riches in exchange for a little interest - what a wonderful place, so alive.

The port was always busy bringing in curiosities and necessities. So many languages tumbled over one another in the quay-side tavernas and hostels. Big rough men walked unsteadily down the gangways of the groaning creaking ships, looking for women and ale. I liked to see the passengers, with their strange fashions and their eagerness to be back on land. Not everyone has the stomach for the sea, you know, and sometimes the ladies would almost trip over their skirts in their haste to be back on dry land. It struck me that, more often than not, the men looked sad to be coming off the boats. Strange how the sexes behave.

My lover at the time was a smith, an enormous man with hairy strong arms and a wide back, who would sweep me up aginst him and twirl me around until we were both dizzy. That long hot summer we explored one another all over Seville. The back alley doorways fit us, and the tavernas offered privacy for a small sum. He knew how to treat a woman, of that there could be no doubt. We grew into love, and once my lady returned he was to ask her for my hand. My heart was full, I could taste joy and see a future.

Hot nights, big city, business and bustle, festas and processions, moist air perfumed with the scent of bitter orange, the thrust and push of bodies in the night. Oh, to be young in Seville again. To be ignorant of what I know now.

To have that summer of 1649 over again, before the plague came and took half the city away.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It begins

One monkey.

Many stories.

The first 500-word challenge is done. Thanks to those who participated.

The journey of a thousand miles....

One step at a time. And then another. And another, until all the steps are done and the goal is achieved.

Agonizing! Boring! Too much work! All those damned steps!!

Isn't there some easier way? Isn't it more FUN to try to take giant LEAPS toward the finish line? Can't we skip a few steps, whittle down the timeline, shave a few rules off the top to make all this EASIER and more FUN?


I have to take ALL the steps? You saying I have to take all of them, which takes more time, and isn't nearly as fun as skipping the hard parts and taking what I want from the remainder, hoping that will be enough?



One would wonder why I, who live my life according to the above line of questioning and disheartened answering, would choose to pursue a career in a field that is detail oriented, has lots of SOPs and WPDs and rules and quality checks and double checks and review cycles and pages and pages of data to sift through hoping to find the golden fleece of comforting safety and efficacy.

One would wonder, and one would come up with this simple answer: I am a masochist.

There is no other explanation. None.

1) I despise detail work - so why NOT get a job that focuses on details?

2) I despise being corrected - so why NOT get a job for which reviewers number in the dozens and all their opinions are more important then mine?

and, the biggie -

3) I procrastinate like noody's bizznass - so why NOT get a job for which the deadline is God above all and MY job function occurs at the very END of a long process, at which time every other team member shows off their "breathing down the neck" skillz while snapping their fingers and rolling their eyes at how LONG it takes to do what I do?

Sure, it all makes sense now. Sure it does. Rightee-o.

Way back when I was a lab rat (or JAPOH, for "just a pair of hands"), life was good. I could set a goal for the day, get my stuff set up, perform the assay, and go home. Things proceeded at a regular pace, output was a daily occurrence, the cycle was rhythmic and gratifying. Data was the reward, the end, the product, and I was very very good at producing it.

But now? Oy.

Deadlines are months or YEARS in the future, fluidity washes over every phase of the process, a professional juggler is needed to determine which thing should get done first as the deadlines ebb and flow, and yet, through the layers of uncertainly the process needs to be followed, the steps need to be taken, and sometimes retaken, until the final product, a single document, is signed, sealed, and delivered.

Not nearly as satisfying as daily data dumps that shed light on some new corner of an uknown world.

Maybe it's because, as a scientist, I was keen to explore, bent of figuring out what was going on inside those flasks of cells or tubes of enzymes. I was inventing things, maniulating parameters, creating the process rather than following it, clearing a path through the unknown.

And now. Oy.

The sense of adventure is not the same. The process is more laborious. The path still needs to be cleared, but I'm using someone else's data. The parts might not all fit together, but I can't manipulate the parameters to make the process more elegant or the output any more understandable. It don't own it, I have to take into consideration a host of other people's opinions, I have to follow the rules, the steps, the process.

Yup, masochist about fits.

The funny thing is, I LIKE what I do! I think it's interesting, and I learn a hella lot. It's just all the steps. All a billionty of them. One at a time. Over and over.

A girl could get a litle tired of all the steps.

What about y'all? What parts of your job, love it as you might, irritate the living bejabbers out of you?


Kingfisher swears that the 500-word challenge results will be up by noon. I wonder, does he mean EST ("real time," as far as I'm concerned) or some funky Westerner's version of noon?

Time will tell, of that there is little doubt.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monkeyshines and the weekend update

This little monkey has a story.

This little monkey's story is different for everyone.

This little monkey wants YOU to write a story.

Do it for the monkey, in 500 words or less.

Do it by tomorrow morning.

Then tell me ( you did, or go to the 500-Word Challenge Blog and enter a comment, or write to the blog moderators at and tell them you did.

The monkey thanks you. I thank you.


Check out International _____ Day today, written by yours truly. Actually, you should check it out every day. The people who write there are pretty darned clever, and might even give you excuses to act poorly with impunity!


In other news from around my world, I would like to share with you that I had a wonderful, spectacular, fabulous weekend.

Dinner at Turtle Soup capped off a Saturday of traipsing around Newport, poking around the streets and geeking at the town and tourists. Even for the weekend after Labor Day, the streets were packed with cars, scooters, and these cool little "scooter coupes" that looked perfect for taking the kiddies for a ride on a nice day. All the tourists must have been there for all the half-off end-of-summer sales or something.

Cerulean blue sky, terrific ocean breeze (how I miss the ocean...), no agenda, no kids, no curfew, no responsibility.

Like being young again.

Walk, talk, walk, talk, shop, don't buy, walk, talk, window shop, talk, walk. We were headed toward a good seafood place at the far end of town. However, it was open only for dinner, so we backtracked a block and had lunch at O'Brien's, right on the main drag. I think it was for the best, because O'Brien's is cool, with tables outside, enormous burgers, lush wraps, and quite possibly the best french fries in the ENTIRE WORLD! Who needs anything else when there's a mound of hot crisp 'tater stix waiting to be salted and eaten? Not me. Well, maybe a beer....

After lunch, there was more walking, talking, a quick stop at the "Bite Me Bait Company" for some tee shirts, then we headed back to the car and wound our way around the side streets, discovering neightborhoods that actually look like people live there. There were tons of funky-cool places to hang out, but we were on a mission to "do" some of the Cliff Walk.

And whoa, nelly, the Cliff Walk. Free! Breezy! In the backyard of all those mansions! LOOOONG! So very New England. Walk, talk, you know the drill. We passed some people taking siestas on the tremendous stretches of lawns that run from the back doors of the great houses right down to the Cliff Walk, sunbathers and tired hikers, young people mostly, taking their time on a late summer afternoon to soak in some rays, replenish their vitamin D stores, and be right in a perfect moment in time.

Seriously, I felt like we were in a movie, or a teevee ad. Walking around Newport, and especially on the Cliff Walk, was THE most perfect thing we could have done on that particular day at that particular time.

Do you ever feel that way? Like what you're doing at a particular moment is just exactly right? Isn't it great?

Anyhow, after our perfect moment we experienced a little hesitation at what to do next. No agenda means no plan which means that 2 slightly middle-aged yet still awesome ladies who are used to the clock ruling their lives were getting a little dense as to how to fill the time. What to do when you're not used to not doing much? Why, drive around some more! Get some gas! Poke around other neighborhoods, and talk. Always talk. So much to talk about. 500 miles of separation for many months means lots of talking. Never a lack of that.

At length, it was decided to head to Narragansett and the aforementioned Turlte Soup, to hang out on the deck (for an hour while waiting for our 2-top! insane!) sipping cocktails and talking while watching the ocean and people having dinner and young children turning somersaults on the grassy inn lawn.

Always, always, talking.

And even with all that talking, and all the talking done on Friday and Sunday, and all the stories shared and ideas parsed, it wasn't enough. Not enough time to fully engage with the crowd of former coworkers who graciously had lunch with me on Friday (plus a couple of surprise guests! How cool!). Not enough time to see everyone at my former workplace that I wanted to see, or enough time to talk with those I did see. Not enough time before catching a jet to stretch out on Sunday morning and fully explore politics or theology or current events or any one of a million topics that cold have led to any one of a million more topics, creating a web of conversation in which to wrap up the experience.

So, I think the only thing for it is to go back. Soon.

Because there's just so much MORE I need to talk about, with those who know me best and still love me anyhow.

Thanks for having me, RI Red. You're a peach, and I had a ball.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The pit of my stomach


Horror. Dread. Confusion. Fear. Anxiety. Horror. Confusion. Fear. Dread. Anxiety.

Horror. Horror. Horror.



Wrenching helplessness.

Fire, smoke, melting windows unzipping the buildings.

A rain of blood and fuel spattering on the streets.

A hail of body parts battering the pavement.

From the high windows, graceful deadly dives, over and over and over. Gymnastic deaths, swan songs, terrible in their final beauty.

The house of steel cards, too hot now and weak, faints into an infolding collapse, accordioning lives into the failed metal.

Vast empty smoking space, blue sky and sunlight in the wrong place.

Cataclysmic awful destruction of buildings, ideals, icons, and lives.

The few gray survivors staggering up from the ashes.

An exodus of bloodied, battered, shocked, blinking, unthinking, unfeeling, stunned pedestrians flooding out over the bridges.

Firefighters and police and ambulance personnel flooding in, seeking, rescuing, treating, sobbing, dying, breaking, helping, saving.

Spires of ruined window casings penetrating from hot destruction, improbable churches rising from the ashes.

The doleful rotten death count, first from bodies, then from parts, then from sifting the ash, then from process of elimination.

A town of people gone. A host of futures. Infinite possibilities eliminated.

A populace of battered, stunned, indignant, angry survivors left to fill in the terrible vast gaps.

All of us who survived, remember.

5 years ago.

Seems like yesterday.

Might be tomorrow.

The pit of my stomach and a space in my heart are empty with the thought.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Well, lookee here

Many of you might not realize it, but I started blogging, almost a year ago, for one primary reason:

To gain power in a bid for eventual world domination.

Sadly, as of now, my quest has run a little short of the expected goal, in that I do not yet have throngs of rabid sycophants waiting on my beck and call and slavishly commenting in a positive manner by the hundreds, no matter what sort of dreck I might post.


It's hard to have big dreams. Very very hard.

I got to thinking the other day - Perhaps the reason I'm not yet adored by millions, lusted after by thousands, or "atta girl'ed" by the hordes milling around out there on the interwebs is that I lack a "presence." An identity, if you will. I tried changing the template, to moderately pleasing results, but realized that without some kind of power-push toward the end zone I might forever be merely another in a vast sea of protozoal bloggers who hide behind a thin veil of anonymity, cranking out word after word in hopes that their efforts will be rewrded by increasing readership through some miracle of word of mouth.

Well, my dear friends, I expect that all that will end today.

For today, I am something more than Tiff. I have a new identity, given to me by one who has similar goals in life.

From now on, one of my honorifics will be "SKITTLE," because I've been made
An Evil Kitty of the Realm. A personage, dare I say it, of increased presence on the web through the bestowement of this honor.

In addition, I now have a hella sexy alter-identity, if I do say so myself.

Rowwwwr, babies - meet "The Tigress."

Thanks, Hyperion.


As if THAT wasn't enough, I bring you more! I can hear your cries in the night now, because I have tigerific hearing, and I can see your beseeching eyes, because I have tigerific vision, and I KNOW you want me to tell you a little story.

And so I shall, because once my time comes, I would like to be remembered as a kindly sort of world dominatrix. It's got a nice ring to it, don't you think?

I shall tell you the story Thing 1 likes to tell when he's asked to tell a story. Its not very long, but it is complete, and allows enough latitude in its brevity for the listener (or reader) to fill in many blanks.

It goes like this:

Once upon a time there was a bear. He lived in the woods, and then he died. The End.

And, much like the short story, this post is over. I have to go wax my claws.


No post tomorrow. I'm winging my way to the Northeast for for some wacky doings by the shore. Have a faboo weekend, y'all, and I'll see you Monday.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Did I do this wrong?

While shopping around at a local furniture store the other day, I was greeted by owner, who very nicely asked me how I was doing. I replied "Just fine, thanks for asking, and how are you?" because I am polite like that. The gentleman answered "Better than I deserve to be. Can you say the same thing?"

A chill ran up my back. A cold sweat broke out on my neck. A goose marched over my grave, because I realized in an instant that this rejoinder was no off-hand remark. My interrogator's reply was, I sensed, more than likely a well-rehearsed opening gambit in the "save a soul" message developed by the fraternity of the Born-Again Christian Men's Association of the Deep-Fried Fundamentalist Arm of the Southern Baptist Church.

Take your hat off, son, you're in the presence of the Lord.

What to do, dear heavenly days, what to do?

I did an evasive glance out the window (don't look in his eyes, Tiff!) while frantically riffling through the mental rolodex for what would pass as a response that was (a) affirmative and (b) non-committal.

In that half-second of blind panic at "wanting to pass the test so I can just keep looking at the daggone recliners," I came up with this gem:

"I do believe I can, thanks for asking."

SUCCESS!!!! He beamed at me, said "all right, you have yourself a good day then," and turned toward another "mark," a smile on his face and salvation in his heart.

This southern thing is dang tough, y'all.


When I was a child, and through my college years, I went to church. A lot. Once on Sunday, and choir rehearsals on Wednesdays. I loved the way the grand music would swell from the pipe organs (we were Presbyterian and Methodist, and so had money for things like that), the smell of candle smoke, the big Bible in the pulpit, the way the church sanctuary always seemed to be full of something grand and mysterious. I enjoyed going to church, because I was usually singing, and therefore part of the act, the little show in the middle of the praying and preaching that gave people a chance to unwrap those mints or shift in their seats a little to get comfortable for the next big act in the three ringed service.

(first ring - everything up to the sermon, including the gospel readings and the offering. second ring - sermon. third ring - everything after the sermon, including the shaking of hands in the vestibule.)

The choir was like the clown act, a distraction between stage sets that keep the show moving along but doesn't require rapt attention to understand.

I liked church, but I didn't "get it." I wasn't what the Southerners would call a "Christian," even though I had been baptized and confirmed and went to VBS (that's vacation bible school, y'all), and was a good girl.

For, you see, I had not been "saved." Nobody that I knew, back in the day, had been either. We Protestants didn't DO such things. Oh sure, we went to church and supported missionaries and put the lights out at midnight on Christmas eve so the one candle could illuminate the darkness and sang grand old hymns and had brass quintets play at Easter, but we did NOT go around confessing our salvation to all and sundry. Heavens, no. Being "born again" was for thoseBible-belters, those snake handlers, those evangelist preachers who bilked people out of their money in the name of the Lord. Our style, it seemed to me, wore its religion in much more muted colors than those lit-up Baptists down South.

Religion's role in New England's culture, I was glad to find during my 15 years there, seemed like a comfortable pair of socks on a cool day - present, useful, but not too restrictive. People who went to church didn't ask you about your eternal soul very often. Congregationalists (the major religious body there) are calm and gentle people, and don't want to pry too much. I suspect they simply avoid intimate knowledge of the state of your soul for fear the talk will turn to their lives and some sins might fall from a dark closet shelf and they'll have to have a serious talk with the preacher. Best to leave all that tucked up where it is and get on with life.

But the South, dear Sweet Lord, the South. The hot, bright, biblical South. Crismons on cars, fish swallowing Darwin, VBS, AWANA, fried chicken lunches, exhortations on billboards to come to Jesus and be saved, crowded parking lots on Sundays, furniture store owners concerned about your heavenly reeeward.

Brightly colored Christianity, so bright it seems to shimmer.

However, their religion, as bright as it may be and no matter how it may light up lives, has nothing on the stained-glass window of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that hung in the church of my youth. Brightly colored glass Jesus, kneeling at the rock, bloody sweat pouring from his brow as he prayed for the world and for his life and for his acceptance of death and for his love for all man. The scene shimmered and swam in and out of focus one Christmas eve as I kneeled at the communion rail in my yellow choir robe. The light flooded my sight as I took the bread and cup. The words that rang in my head as my vision blurred with unexplainable tears have since become my whole "religion" :

God is love.

It's simple, isn't it. It's what I believe. It's what I try to live. It's who I try to be. It's enough for me, and it makes me happy.

But that's not something I can reel off in 3 seconds in order to keep looking at recliners, now is it?

In which I convince myself I've lost my mind.

Is it too early for me to be having "senior moments"?

I'm only in my mid-40's (it pains me greatly to say) and am in reasonably good health and hold a job and care for a home and family and seem pretty much on top of things MOST of the time, but I get the feeling that being in good physical health (relatively) and on top of daily life (mostly) doesn't translate all that well to actually being able to keep a firm grasp on reality, or to remember things accurately.

Take, for example, the complete blank I drew when I read the following phrase from a journal I kept in college: "my date with Charles went OK, I think. I'm not sure what I feel about him."


Who was Charles?

I don't remember a Charles.

I remember Mark, and Chris, and Sam, and Butch, and John, and Carlton, and Marc, but not Charles.

Charles would have been around the time of Chris (I was not an exclusive dater), but heaven help me if I can remember who he was, how I met him, or if we went out more than once. Was he blond? Dark-haired? Tall? Nothing at all comes to mind.

That got me thinking about the other guys I dated while a single girl in my 20's. The was also John and Darell and Charlie and Bert and Steve and Scott. There was the guy that looked like Ric Ocasek, and the one that worked for a radio station with whom I had a very fesity hate relationship, there was the guy in Charlottesville that was an ass to the waitress and kind of scary who I kissed goodnight just to get him to let me out of the car, and there were probably others that I simply CANNOT REMEMBER.

Who were they? Do I dare keep reading my journals to find out more about what I've forgotten?

And it's not just PEOPLE that don't register with me. I also forget entire events!

A friend from high school once said something along the lines of "remember that time we went camping and you spilled the whole thing of OJ on yourself and stripped down to your underwear and jumped in the lake to wash off, not know that there were GUYS in the campsite next to ours?" To which I replied with a blank stare and a scrambling brain, trying vigorously to figure out how it was that I could have erased something like that from my memory so completely that it's as though not only did I not remember it happening to me, I was sad to not have ever been there at all, because it sounded like fun.

A couple of weeks ago I said I forget a CAT (Statler) we had in our dorm. I also forgot the rabbit (Cadbury). That bothers me, but they're only fuzzy little animals, not PEOPLE. I was convinced I would not forget people. But I have. At one time, I was REALLY convinced that my reality at that time would always be my reality, and that I would forget nothing of what I've done or where I've been. But I have.

I've forgotten a lot.

But riddle me this, Batman - how much are we SUPPOSED to remember?

Riddle me also - is it any coincidence that not long after I mentioned Charles in my journal, I wrote about getting high for the first time? I think not, dudes, I think not.