Drove out to the park by the "lake" with the bébé. She'd fallen asleep on the drive over, so I sat in the car and read Gormenghast while I waited for her to wake up.

We chased gulls and watched the ducks and dogs wiggle their tails. The sand blew in our eyes, so we walked up to the playground. We climbed the stairs, we slid down the slides, we laughed at the kids chasing each other and fighting.
Snippet: Nothing You Do Makes Me Happy.

My jaw dropped.

She shrugged. "I'm not human, you idiot." She shrugged again, and her body fell out like a cheap hair extension.

I didn't have to say a word. Not necessary around telepathic aliens. Talk about relationship problems. I giggled like a girl.

"No, not all women are from Beta Centari," she said. "Just me."

I laughed harder.

"At least think about what I asked you!" she exclaimed, and stomped her foot as if she still had one. "Men! I don't understand. Always the same...I can read every thought that crosses your mind, but I still can't make one happy. Think about it. What can I do? I am your ideal. I am the woman that you've always wanted, and you don't want me! What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Harder still. Tears formed in my eyes.

"Shut up! You never listen to me!" She eyed my bowling trophies on the shelf, screeched, and melted them into slag with one shimmering gesture. "You are so...uncommunicative!"

My diaphragm ached already, but I wasn't nearly done laughing. I knew she could read it in my mind before I'd be able to say it, but I said it anyway. "Women. Always jumping to conclusions, acting like they can read your mind."

She collapsed into what I assume was the alien version of a sobbing mess. It wasn't pretty. Later, after we'd held each other (if one can be said to hold a warm blob of jell-o) and had our kinky makeup sex, I explained it. She didn't understand, but she knew I told her the truth. She left me.

I felt better.


Lessons from Nancy Kress.

--The first sentence is important: you shouldn't just have a "hook" to the sentence, you should promise conflict or change in the first sentence.

--The first three paragraphs in a short story, the first three pages in a novel: that's how long you have to grab an editor's attention.

--The first three paragraphs (or pages, for a novel) should include character, development of the conflict or change promised in the first
sentence, specific details that make the situation/setting believable.

More later, unless I don't learn anything else.

Hmm...the new things that she's doing aren't really glaringly new. Except that she can sit up now. She's not very graceful about it -- and get her excited about it, and she'll kick her legs (and tip herself over backward).

The other new things are intangible this time: If you snuggle a toy into her arms, she looks both at the toy and at you. If you drift a blanket over her head, she'll laugh, shake her head, and smile at you. If you say "Come here" in a "come hither" kind of voice, she'll laugh and smile -- all of these things seem to say to me that she understands that not only are you the person who is doing these things to her, you're doing them with her, to play with her, to make her happy, and she likes that. It isn't that she's just playing anymore (although sometimes she just plays), it's that she's playing with someone.

This, too, feels good.
Dance of Joy! Dance of Joy!http://www.blogger.com/blog.pyra?blogid=3368851

I'll be published in this month's issue of Banshee Studios, with the flash fiction, "Love," also posted here on April 20th.

Ahhhh. It feels good.

Update: The new issue doesn't come up until May 1st.


Reviews: The Man Who Wasn't There & a Nancy Kress non-fic book.

We watched "The Man Who Wasn't There" last night. Hmmm....reminds me of a couple of kids who've dragged out every toy in the toybox and put about a third of them back. I was waiting (we rented the DVD) for a section in the extra features called "WTF?" Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie...it wasn't crap by a long shot. I'd probably watch it again.

I'm reading a book by Nancy Kress called Beginnings, Middles, and Endings. Actually, I've already read the book once; now I'm going back and working my way through the exercises. I've been looking for this book: a very direct, very basic writing book. Not flighty, self-serving, or easy stuff. A good book when...you're me. I.e., you write tories and you're not sure why they don't work as well as you want. I agreed with each individual statement Kress made...but I found myself getting more and more irritable. She was right. I was wrong. Grrrr.

Happiness is...

"I said, 'Are you an Asian thumping monkey? Thump once for yes and twice for no.' And then she thumped eleven times."--Lee, talking about Ray.


Keep this in mind, De

There are people who can write journals that are worthy of being published. Kafka, for instance. This blog, on the other hand, will never see print.


Because it's my freedom. I don't have to edit if I don't want to.

I'm starting to feel the pressure, while I'm writing anything but a grocery list (except this) that everything I write has to be Good. Real Good. Not
quite yet Pro, but Real Good.

Ugh. I can't think of anything else that could make a writer more impotent. So...everybody that sweats over their entries, trying to make them consistent, funny, intriguing, etc., well, good for you. I'm going to be a goober, however, say: nyaa nyaa nyaa. Get your butts in gear. This is the stuff that I write in my down time.

Ya brag sometimes. Right after a rejection letter ("Finally, your story may have been rejected, not because it lacked a new idea, or was misspelled or mispuntuated, or because the writing was not 'professional' enough, but simply because it failed to rise above the other 849 that month.") strikes me as a good time.

And back from the mail... "One Cool Million" has come back from Asimov's, with a form letter.


Damn form letters anyway.


Tenterhooks, again. "Customer Service" has gone out again, this time to Clean Sheets.

Snippet: Wish Fulfillment


All at once in a puff of steam or smoke there appeared a contraption much resembling a lotter ticket dispenser. "Free Tickets!!!" yowled a shiny decal stuck to the face of the thing. The machine stuck out the tongue of a ticket, so I took it. I whipped out my lucky penny and scratched off the silver coating (every worthless piece of crap has one).

"One Free Wish! (Please play again.)"

Hell, free wishes are worth what you pay for them. I yanked another ticket off the roll and scratched away...

My hand was poised over the hundredth ticket or so when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"Drop that ticket, miss--you better start paying for those--"

"M'am," I corrected. "And I ain't got to pay for nothin'. Get your hands off that ticket."

"Free tickets don't come cheap," he said, and tried to rip the one I had out of my hands.

I snorted and resorted to violence. Wham! Crash! Slash! Gurgle and ugh! Don't mess with this momma. I squinted. Say (I thought he looked familiar as I was kickin' his ass), wasn't that the harassin' bastard Edwin Graves? I wondered where he got off to after he got fired and sent to Montana.

I picked through his pockets. Money, car keys, house keys, credit cards--I liked the idea of runnin' up Satan's own pissboy's expense account--and a faded ol' lottery ticket.

"One Free Wish! (Please pleay again.)"

What a chump, that Eddie. Which reminded me of the ticket. I scratched it off: "Get out of Hell FREE!" No point in letting that damned Eddie have that final trump. I tucked it away safe, where I could get it when I needed it--never you mind where.

So I kicked out his wife, and I exploited his kids and his dog for cheap labor, and I moved into his house and started up a mail-order business in cheap novelites. And like I said, you ain't gotta pay for nothin'. Especially if you don't sign for it like Eddie did. Mortgage payments are still coming out of his dead, dumb butt.


Blue Champagne.

Whoah. I guess this explains why I can't find a copy...I checked it out from the Iowa City Pulic Liberry three or four years ago.

Haven't been able to find a copy since.


Afternoon off.

Lee gave me the afternoon off yesterday. I fed the bebe, pumped her a snack, and took off. Dropped off movies, picked up a roll of quarters...ate lunch, wrote, watched LOTR:TFOTR again. Cinemark has no scruples about playing a flick until the sountrack hiccups, the jerks. Otherwise a great day.

Came home. Bebe miserable, husband nearly so, but bravely.
Where do you get your ideas? Stop! Read "Snippet: Love" first if you're going to read this one.

...which is the under-two-hundred-word flash fiction (snippet) that I submitted to the Banshee studios contest (see April 17th). The theme of the contest for flash fiction is "journeys." I decided not to go for the obvious choices, like the cross-country road trip to "find yourself," travels back to the hometown, travels into the past, future, or alternate timelines, etc.

Hm. For some reason, I'm thinking about dreams that I had during my college years. There was one in which my self and a couple of other people ended up in an amusement park that was going to be sabotaged by the Grey Man, a character that ran through a bunch of my dreams for reasons that I won't go into now. I wrote a story about it, "Eleven Dreams, Remembered" that I liked then but would probably groan over now. I haven't thought about the story or about the Grey Man in years. Hm, hm, and more hmmmmm...

So. I'm thinking about 1) a journey, 1a) but not an obvious journey. Some subtext running around in the back of my mind is 1b) clowns. I've talked to people about their fear of clowns. I wonder if there are more people who are afraid of clowns or spiders. If you were afraid of both clowns and spiders, and you were trapped in a room filling with a deadly poisonous gas, and there were two exits, one guarded by a clown and the other guarded by spiders, which would you pick? Anyway, Clowns.

The story at this point centers on the daughter, who wanders off into the amusement park, gets lost, is chased by clowns, etc., etc., and finally finds her mother, who doesn't love the kid anyway. Bleah. Besides, the mother is much more interesting. How about from the mother's point of view? Blah, blah, blah, feeling sorry for herself, she finally notices that her daughter has disappeared, and has to go looking for her. Does she find her daughter? Does something change? Is there a happily ever after?

At this point I'm hit by idea no. 2: "And then she woke up."

LIke other writing cliches (mirrors, for example) you shouldn't use them unless you're doing something significant with them. A mirror isn't just an excuse to give a character description. Likewise, a dream isn't a deus ex machina that makes everything OK, like that whole dang season of "Dallas" and "Who shot JR?"

(Tangent: there are people out there, seemingly adult, who were Too Young For Dallas. The spiral of aging has begun. Soon, songs like "Friday I'm in Love" and "Personal Jesus" will be golden oldies.)

(If they haven't already.)

Voila, the story. So I wrote it.

While I was dicking around with the word count, I started to notice that everything for the mother-character related back to her resentment for the requirements of "love." I decided that she had a weird idea about love, having never felt it before, and was obsessed with it the way a virgin's obsessed with sex. I decided that she was going to see herself in a funhouse mirror dressed as a clown, and having to walk through her image in order to escape the amusement park, a confrontational thing. The clown symbolized the fakery of her "love" in relationships, you see. She was going to have to admit that she was a fake, that she had no justification for her actions, etc.

Well, I decided that that was a little more hokey and overdone than I liked.

And it was way over 200 hundred words, anyway.

So I made a couple of changes: the character doesn't get to look in a mirror, but she finds out what she's become anyway, and the character doesn't really get to escape the amusement park.

I left the ending open because...well, because I ran out of words, to tell you the truth. But I think I like it better this way. It's like I've written my own little Rorshach blob, and just because I see the ending in a particular way (and I do) doesn't mean anyone else has to. I have to wonder what the people that design actual Rorschach blobs see when they do them. You can't just drop ink on paper and fold it over: some ink blobs are going to be unsatisfactory, either blobbing in uninteresting ways (such as a circle) or not blobbing at all, merely soaking through too strongly in one spot, with perhaps a single streak where the ink dripped onto the floor. You have to select the blobs, you know...

So what did I think the ending meant?

Some part of the character never wakes up. This is, to the character, a recurrent nightmare that she'll keep having over and over again until...she doesn't, for whatever reason. For some reason, I keep thinking that when you don't resolve issues like this, when you live out a lie, part of your personality becomes trapped in a terrible fantasy world, isolated from reality, time, and the rest of the personality. The character has made a journey into her own soul, and she isn't coming back.

But if you want to see it as a little Tales from the Crypt horror comic, go right ahead. Is free country, comrade.
Snippet: Love.

She doesn't ride rides or eat cotton candy. Love alone brings her. Or else prudence. Come time to tote up the balance, she has self-sacrifice on her side.

Shit. Where's her daughter? Acts like she's the kid's evil stepmother, often as she runs off. And the guys. Why couldn't they let her stay home? And why'd she have the other kid anyway?

Oh, yeah. Love.

She doesn't have the keys, but she shoves her way toward the car. Time to go. Some jerk sticks his foot between her legs and squirts her with a rubber flower. Fuck. Tripped by a clown. She catches him by his oversized knickers to pull him down. He hisses with laughter and kicks her in the face.

When she wakes, the people are gone, the staff is gone, her family is gone. But that's love. All that's left are the clowns and blood in her mouth. Spits. Wipes. Comes back with a fist full of greasepaint. Screams.

"And then she woke up." But she doesn't. When the sun rises she leaves part of herself behind. You can tell by the love in her eyes and the way she hates to see herself in the mirror.
Words back from Banshee.

Apparently the editors figured out where I have my blog--not that I make a secret of it--and read the post I put up:

"All rights (I read your blog - nosy, aren't I?) remain with the author - we put a copyright statement at the end of each piece with the author's name and a date. Also, simultaneous submissions or material that's been previously published elsewhere is fine. Of course, we like the new stuff best, but...we try to remain flexible."

At this point, I don't think submitting previously published material is going to be a problem, unless I dig back in the files and pull stuff out from Darkwaves & Larkwings. Or the Book of Girls, which never saw print, now that I think about it. Hm....while I might post the cronepome for curiosity's sake, I don't think I'll submit that stuff anywhere. Submitting, just keeping track of my writerly projects once they leave my abode, well, that takes time and mental energy. Focus. I don't think I need to spread my focus to poetry, since...it'd just be getting the old stuff out of the house. I don't intend to write poetry much any more.

Not that I have anything against poetry, mind you, but my best poems could have been written as stories, anyway, and I'd much rather write stories.

At any rate, the snippit about clowns shall be thusly posted.

I suggested the site to the chica at work who's working on her children's fiction-writing class. She said, "Hm. Interesting." So I e-mailed her the web address.

We'll see.
Pointless reply. Oh well. A forewarning of sex and uncomfortable issues.

I read a couple of useless tirades--located at a bastion of geekines---over Lee's shoulder last night: here are the things, they claimed, that men just wish women would know. And I went through the same cycle I always go through: humor, anger, self-questioning, more anger, and the desire to shoot my mouth off. You know what? It doesn't matter if it's a guy thing or a chick thing anymore. I'm sick of seeing those e-mails (so if you're reading this, make a note: no more "war of the sexes" stuff, ok?) and hearing those conversations. It isn't funny anymore.

But anyway, here's the pointless reply I have for that damn list of complaints and whines about the female sex (and this isn't directed to my husband, who happens to be one of the more fair people I know):

One of the reasons women raise the toilet-seat controversy is that the underside (mostly due, admittedly, to female secretions, but male b.m. splashovers register, too) is gross. And you know what? The rim is gross, both for the same reason and also because of male drippage. And you know what else? There's usually a yellow streak leading from the male drippage onto the floor. Because you guys do drip, just as females do splash. Another one of the reasons is that men, for the most part, don't do their share of toilet-cleaning. Here's the deal: you want to leave the lid up, do half the bathroom cleaning. Unless you're a dripper, then do weekly drippage checks to make sure you haven't left a puddle on the floor or running down the front of the toilet. Some of us have kids running around and putting stuff in their mouths, OK?

Here's a shocker: women are screwed up about sex. Wanna know why? One out of four women will be raped in her lifetime...and those are the rapes we know about (the stats are one out of nine for men). There are more, I'm sure, who have been molested, abused, harrassed, pressured, or manipulated sexually. My guess is very nearly 100%, all told. Take a look at the women around you: if they haven't had some kind of sexually disabilitating event occur, then someone close to them has--even if nobody knows about it. So if you get turned down again and again, keep this in mind: she might find you sexually attractive, she may even love you, but sometimes she just doesn't want sex. And that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with her libido.

What's the obsession with looks, weight, clothing, shoes? For most women, beauty is like strength for most men. A skinny guy faces up to a guy who's built, and they both know who could take whom down. Even if it isn't true because of guns, martial arts training, what have you -- this is what Lee tells me -- they both just know it. It's the same thing for women. When a woman's asking you if her butt looks too big, or if she looks good in a particular outfit, she's not just looking for your approval. She wants to know if she can face down someone if she must, male or female. Believe me, sometimes the only thing between you and being attacked or harrassed by either gender is the knowledge that something about you is sexually attractive. Guys will push around ugly girls--when they notice them--a hundred times more than they'll dare push around the gorgeous blondes of this world. And god help you if you're overweight. Or possessing anything less than total self-confidence.

Women, unless they received compassionate, considerate training (this relates to the item above about women being screwed up sexually), will not take your fantasy life well. Why? The great unwashed mass of males don't understand testosterone or know how to deal with the effects. Consider this. To women, the guys of this world who haven't figured it out are like one of those really bad, bad women on PMS that make everyone run screaming, only for men it's 100% of the time. (Testosterone affects emotions much the same way that estrogen does. Estrogen triggers the menstrual cycle, causing PMs in some women once a month. To women, men who don't know how to deal with it seem like they're on the rag 100% of the time.) So guys, when you're bringing up your fantasies and the chicks aren't digging them, it's not because your fantasies are innately sick and wrong. It's because you're over the top, and you're just a leeetle bit scary: you remind us of the guys that Done Us Wrong at that moment, more so than any other moment, unless it's in the middle of oral sex and you've decided that You're In Charge Now.

Speaking of which, regarding sex: most women aren't innately blessed with the ability to orgasm easily, especially regarding straight intercourse. They're built wrong for it. Women are built to survive giving birth. Because of various screwed up sex issues, they may not know how to have an orgasm; if they do, they may not know how to have one quickly, consistently, or even pleasurably. Know what else? Your penis isn't built to bring a woman to orgasm (althoug it may, by happy chance, help). It's built to deliver semen. There isn't anything insulting, immoral, or impotent about doing whatever must be done in order to make sex mutually pleasurable, nay, orgasmic. Women don't get blue balls physically; they get blue balls of the soul. Constantly giving pleasure without getting anything but frustration back...sound familiar? It's called payback.

Men aren't as simple as they make themselves out to be. You have your own little manipulations, your own little games that you play with women's heads, your own screwed-up needs. Case in point: the silent treatment is not equivalent to rational conversation in an arguement. If you and a woman get into an arguement, and you stop talking or start responding with sarcasm or monosyllables, you are no longer participating in a rational conversation. You really are doing the equivalent of screaming at the top of your lungs, or worse, because you're pretending to be rational while you're doing it.

Bear with me a little longer.

What I'm saying here is not that men are evil. Men aren't evil; they're stupid, just like women, for the most part. Just like women, they don't think through the consequences of their own actions or the root of other people's actions. Instead of bitching abou women, ask for compassion (whether you think you ought to have to ask for it or not). Instead of trying to convince a woman that you're right or that you even have a valid point--instead of jumping to conclusions or throwing out solutions before you understand what's going on--ask why is it that she wants things to be different than you want them to be. Humbly request sexual instruction, and don't fret if the answer is "I don't know." When you get in an arguement, take turns. Make sure that you don't respond to someone's pain with "So what?" or "You hurt me first."

Whew. That having been said, I also have to add that those things were dead on about one thing in particular:


Don't hint.

It'll never, ever work. Guys don't see it as being polite. They either see it as being manipulative, or they don't see it at all.

I want is a peftectly good way to begin a sentence. Even if you don't get what you want.

It really isn't the things we do, is it? It's the way we handle it all.
Shhh. Everybody's asleep but me!

Ray can hold her tummy off the floor now for brief moments. She recognizes it when I copy what she's doing -- she thinks it's funny. She can sit up for a short time, longer if you tuck a blanket around her. She still doesn't sleep through the night. She likes to go to bed late, get up late, and avoid naps as long as possible. She's rarely still. I took a bath with her so she could play in deep water, and she wasn't afraid, even though she splashed water up her nose. Hypothetically, she can scoot off to wherever she's going, but usually by the time she remembers how to scoot, she forgets what she was headed in that direction for. She knows how to turn the pages of her cardboard books. She knows how to touch things, but if she gets too excited, she'll yank or hit. She likes trees. She wants to eat the cat.


Snippets are addictive. Please note: wrassling with bebe foots and finners as I type.

If more things happened to me on a daily basis, I wouldn't have such an overactive imagination. Not that anybody would believe me if I said I'd been abducted by aliens at this point. So. I find myself sitting in front of a moveable keyboard with a six-month-old bebe on my lap, listening to the sprinklers on the complex lawn (and anybody who's tried to raise a lawn in Colorado knows just how complex they really are) and a hummed version of the Imperial March as Lee blows stuff up.

I just submitted a little snippet to the Banshee Studios contest of the month; the snippet concerned love and clowns. (Don't worry. It's worse than it sounds.) I couldn't find any info regarding what rights they were after, so I'll wait to post it until after I hear back from them.

What I should be doing is getting "Feather" ready to send, or at least working on Beauregard.


Snippet: Theme and Other Insidious Obsessions.

It's not immediately apparent what it is that I'll be spending the rest of my life writing about. Isn't that a terrible sentence? I can't help thinking about it, how terrible that sentence is, and how, at the end of my life as a writer, I may read that sentence--this one, too--and think about how terrible it was. But to return to the point. "He only has one story to tell." Haven't you heard that about a writer before? Haven't you heard that from a writer before? "I may only have one story to tell, but by God, you keep buying it."

What is the one story that I have to tell? Is there anything around which my mind spirals, a black hole (religion, perhaps, or family?) around which I now orbit at a distance, slowly approaching the horizon from which I will never escape?

Oh, yes.


I was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on May first, 1974, and my family had returned to South Dakota by the spring of 1976. We lived in Wyoming for less than two years. Why? My father was in the Air Force at the time. He served at Fort Cheyenne. Or so he claims. How far is Fort Cheyenne from Roswell, New Mexico? Perhaps Roswell is a front.

And the alien space ships are in a bunker underneath Fort Cheyenne instead.

I always knew I was adopted.


Snippet: All the Things You Fear

The fear of nightmares, of monsters under the bed, of the boogeyman in the closet: those are childhood fears. Childhood fears evolve, don't they? One fears spiders, snakes, dogs, heights, enclosed spaces...

Or of things more exotic. No matter.

The little old woman cowering before me, humpbacked and--what's the word for when fatty substances go bad?--rancid. Her son had insisted that she be the first test subject--or victim, should the serum fail. Cure or kill, he was an amiable patron.

"Mother," he held her struggling in his arms as I pulled her hospital robe and gown away from her buttock and swabbed the area with alcohol, "hold still." I administered the dose. "How long?" The old woman yowled like a cat. She'd been driven beyond words for years.

He already knew the answer. "Would you like a dose yourself? I have a second here; your mass approximates your mother's. You carry the same--"


I shrugged. You've heard the cliche. "The only thing we have to fear--" I said.

My patron failed to respond. I'd ceased to be human to him long ago; I was only an instrument, a thing, an embodiment of his panaceal Science. He led his mother away. I would have liked to hold her for observation, but he, irrationally, had refused.

The only thing he had to fear was--what's the word for the fear of hypochondria?

I must bone up on my latin.


When I die, I just wanna be DIRT! That was something that got passed around a bit in college.

Anyway, Ray and I went on a picnic this afternoon. This, as it turns out, is not such a great idea on a Sunday afternoon. What's with all these mooks fishing from a stocked pond? No beer allowed in the park, and no shade near the water. Nevertheless, I had a good time. And Ray discovered dirt. Mmmm, dirt.
Snippet: Virgo, Inc.

The first thing we did when the wyrmhole opened past Pluto was send probes, which were destroyed and sent back. Looked like that damn' things'd been chewed on. Second thing we did was send more probes. Ditto. Third thing we did was...you get the picture.

Enter the entrepreneur Silas T. Barnum, founder of the space exploration company Virgo, Inc. Either he was the heir of the circus guy or he'd changed his name after he was released from a mental institution. All sorts of rumors. His probes went out. His probes came back. Like I said, all sorts of rumors. Squeezed his billions out of it, though, with the regularity and immensity of an elephant on laxitives.

Until the special agent sent by the IRS infiltrated the place. Those weren't unmanned probes Barnum was sending out, but they weren't manned probes, either.


Snippet: On the Way to the Ladies' Room at the Silver Streak Café

Memory, that is, the sprint of electricity from one neuron to another, takes shortcuts. At first memories (especially the painful ones) take as long as the event itself; by the time you've let twenty-two years go by, they're a bare moment, a trip to the mailbox to check for bills.

That's why, when I saw him, I was pleasantly surprised. I smiled at him; pleasantly surprised, he smiled back. By the time I'd forced myself to remember the whole story, he was gone, leaving behind a whole plate of liver n'onions and a big tip. I saw the '59 Chevy peel out of the parking lot like...well, like there was murder followin' right behind. I took my hand out of my purse.

I'd nearly forgotten why I'd been carrying around this damned .32 for all these years.

Cross the fingers and other little rituals ...Looking for a bunch of stupid tax paperwork, I found Jewel's new address. I'll open up the last letter, write all over it with updates, and send it off again.
Tone-deaf and lovin' it. Ray has learned to sing. She'll interrupt herself when crying in order to do so. For example, she doesn't wake up well, and will often fuss a bit when she gets up from a nap. Today I hear her start winding up for a good cry only to start serenading the kitty. Ahhh--squeal--ahh--squeal--ahh.

She doesn't have a natural sense of pitch. Our friends Matt & Stacy (whom we haven't seen in a while) have a dog, Sable, that will howl along with various songs and whenever Lee eggs her on. Our bebe sounds just like that, only a little higher.

And I'm just as bad about getting her going as Lee is with that poor dog.
Grammar, Dammit. If anyone, anywhere, anytime has told you "It's not i-t-'-s, it's i-t-s, i-d-i-o-t," then take a week and try this:

Don't type "it's." At all. For a week. Did you ever do that experiment in grade school where you try to go an entire day without dotting your is, js, or crossing your ts? Same thing. Don't type "it's." At all. Ever. Don't write it. Don't even think it.

If "its" just feels wrong, then write out "it is."

"Its going to be a beautiful day. Its not me, its you. When we were at the zoo, the bear was doing something naughty to its privates." "It is going to be a beautiful day..."

After that week, if you've been playing faithfully, go back to what you were doing. You can use "it's" again...as a contraction for "it is."

I can put up with a lot of crap; I can write a lot of crap.


You freaks.
Rejection, Canadian-style. I just got a rejection letter from Alley Cat publishing re: erotica story, "Customer Service": "The story is well written & creative and I like the humour but it goes too far over the top (not sexually) but stylistically, at least for our purposes."

Deadline for submissions: March 31st. Postmark on letter: April 4th. I shot the guy an e-mail thanking him for the prompt and courteous reply.

Sigh. I wasn't expecting anything, unless I really was. Lee says I should be encouraged: already past the form-rejection-letter stage. Yeah...but you know how it is when you start a new job. There's a period of adjustment and learning, when everyone says, "Nice try, you'll get it soon enough." I hate that stage. I want to be an asset now.

One of Lee's nose-to-the-grindstone stories: at a con in Iowa a couple of years back (GOH: Spider Robinson), he wandered into the used book area only to discover the proprietor was Glen Cook, who, as it turns out, is a really nice guy. He told Lee that he supported himself as a writer for--fifteen years, I think it was--a long time as a porn writer. --Lee told me that last night, and I bit off my immediate reaction, which was "And I can't even sell that." He was trying to help. I know.

So this morning I start looking for another market for "Customer Service," and I find another one, nearly perfect, called "Hoot Island." On-line. "Silly Sex for Silly People." Problem: non-paying. Other problem: the fiction section is poorly organized; there's no "feature of the week" or anything -- just an archive section with a couple of "New" buttons. Aiyiyi. I'll keep it in mind, but I think I'll look elsewhere first.


Moooovies. Osmosis Jones, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Thirteen Ghosts, Domestic Disturbance, Like Water for Chocolate.

Osmosis Jones. This, my friends, is a movie for all ages, unless you're the age where you don't have a sense of humor. My only caveat is that you should make sure you brush and floss before watching this movie. Trust me. Bonus question: Did you know that this is a Farrelly brothers movie?

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. This, on the other hand, isn't a movie for all ages. There are people who would argue successfully that this is a movie for people of no ages, but they're wrong. This is a guilty pleasures movie. This is a Leslie Nielsen movie without Leslie Nielsen. I don't recommend this movie for my mom, who'll think it's the stupidest thing to come down the pike since...uh...Michael Eisner. For those of you with DVD's, keep an eye out for Jason Mewes off-screen...would you believe it? Terribly shy about girls.

Thirteen Ghosts. This was not a scary movie. That said, it was better than the gawdawful piece of trash I thought it would be. The plot was terrible. The ghosts weren't all that disturbing. The glass house thing got old, although it was clever (and I was impressed by the work that went into filming it). What made this movie worth watching was the multidimensional characters. These were character characters, good gamer characters. It was more fun watching the character interaction than it was watching the walls slide all over. It wasn't Gosford Park, but it worked as a pleasant surprise.

Domestic Disturbance. I didn't bother watching but the last half-hour of this. What a piece of crap. See murder and suspense babble below.

Like Water for Chocolate. I like to cook, I like good chick flicks, I like South American magic realism. Based on a book by Laura Esqueviel. This is a comfort movie. Mmmm.
Murder, mystery, and suspense. Lately, one of my projects is to read up in the mystery field. When I was a kid, my parents got me a subscription to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which, I'm happy to say, is still running. While I liked the magazine, I eventually dug myself so deeply into sci-fi, fantasy, and Literature that I didn't do much with mystery. I hadn't even read all the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories until this year.

One of the changes that I find in my perception about the field is that most genre movies suck as bad for mystery and suspense (as compared to the fiction) as they do in the sci-fi field. Mystery, it turns out, is as much about the refinement of plot as sci-fi is about setting and fantasy is about character. (What is a mystery without plot twists? What is sci-fi without the world in which it's placed? What is fantasy without exploration of character, i.e., good and evil, madness and sanity, etc?) While there are some good mystery/suspense movies out there, the majority of them are just...bad. And now that I know what I'm missing, they're really bad.
More Zoo. Please note: all of this occurs while in the possession of giraffe crackers.

So the first animal Ray sees is a yellow-bellied marmot. Scratch that. She ignores the marmot. I'm a little nervous...perhaps she's too young for the zoo.

The first animals Ray sees is a pair of oriental otters who come right up to the glass. Lee's holding her up to the glass and can't see her reaction. Finally I offer to hold her so he can watch her face.

We saw all kinds of monkeys, talked to a keeper about how to prevent glare when taking pictures through glass (we didn't take a camera, though), watched various animals do things they don't do in children's books and, in fact, would have gotten The Jungle Book an NC-17 rating, fed the giraffes, made unfavorable comments about Iowa in the humid jungle-type rooms, and gawked.

The zoo trip was a lift, a joy, an affirmation of parenthood, and better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. We finished up with the petting zoo; she's too young to pet responsibly, but she got a kick out of the geese. Honkahonka honk honka! It must have sounded like someone laughing to her. She laughed back.

I think one of our duties as parents is to keep Ray supplied with opportunities for wonder.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. After two days of roundabout hijinx, we go to the zoo on Thursday and purchase a season pass. Bebe's first trip to the zoo!

It's springtime. This means two things: the zoo hasn't geared up for the summer crowd yet. And...well...it's spring. There are things they don't tell you about spring in Bambi.

Sex acts noted (both solo and duet): four. And I didn't know bears could hum.
Irony? Why is it that when Lee has a day off, I don't get anything done online? Oh, yeah. One of those computer-tech-liveth-here ironies involving networking with dual boot systems.


CRAP! You know how I said that you could have my ideas for free? I lied. You can have my ideas, but this guy can't. The Best of All Possible Beauregards is based off a wild, mildly-educated guess that resembles this idea...only instead of a ring I'd be talking about a hypersphere.

Oh, this is just too good. Via ***Dave, I hear that Google now does the news. Not only does Google post the top headline, national, and world news stories, it posts the top versions of each headline. You get 'em all: the Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Reuters, Toronto Globe & Mail, etc. And you know what? None of the stories agree exactly.


I usually just assume that everything I see, y'all have heard of already, but this was much too sweet to pass up.


So help me if I have to type this out again, there will be beatings. You know what? I no longer have a superstitous dread of telling people about my ideas for stories before I've finished the story itself. You know why? Do you know how much work I've put into learning how to write? Do you know how many people out there are enough like me to come up with a similar story, even given the same starting idea? Do you know how many "original" ideas there are?

You can have my ideas for free. You won't be able to do a thing with 'em.

On the other hand, I now have a superstitious dread of trying to post anything directly regarding Writing on this blog, because Blogger wipes it out ever time. This is the third time I've tried to write this post: I went through "Feather" again, passed it to Lee, and got a thumbs up on the new direction. "Ten times better," he said. I asked him what it would take to make it a story he personally found great instead of just good, and he said there was no way. I pondered. "Not even if there were really great lines?" "That might do it," he said.

You know what else? It's really hard to come up with sarcastic remarks for your own straight lines.
Yay! I had a talk with Lee last night; we agreed we're not doing enough stuff together. To reduce the discussion like so much cream to alfredo sauce, we're going to go to the zoo one day (yay me), and Lee gets a slug-spoilage day, a whole day (after I get back from work) when He Gets To Blow Stuff Up. I provide the 'za, beer, and bragging audience. Turns out that that I like to do kid stuff and he likes to slack off, you know.

Melt butter, saute onion until translucent; add mushrooms, mock crab, and prepared alfredo sauce; salt and pepper to taste. Toss with linguini noodles -- but not too many linguini noodles: this is supposed to be bad for you, after all. Serve however you damned well please. Bertolli alfredo sauce (which, for some reason, is always on sale) is yummy although not quite as pure-tasting as homemade alfredo sauce. I haven't made alfredo sauce on my own yet, but the time will come. Oh yes, it will come.
House dreams. Do you dream of a house? A particular house? Is it a real house? Do the rooms contain familiar objects or familiar people? What's your feel of the house? Does the house change?

My house dreams are never of a house that I know or recognize; there's always someone chasing me. I can never leave the house, but there are countless secret passages from room to room, so I'm never trapped by whatever pursues me. I never escape, either. Often the rooms contain people who are familiar for a brief moment, then become strange again. Occaisionally I can see a piece of furniture or a photograph that I recognize. I'm not afraid, but neither am I at home.

Last night the thing pursuing me was a damn phone call. Everywhere I went, the phone was ringing. Someone else would pick it up and say, "It's for you."
Bebe, updated. Cheerios! List of foods: mama-milk, rice cereal, bananas, peaches, and cheerios. She cannot yet pick up the cheerios, although she can hold one in her fist and suck on her fingers until she forgets what she's doing and lets the cheerio fall out. And this morning she noticed her own shadow for the first time. Smack! Why does it keep wiggling?


Rumor has it...that Dale's going to be in Colo. Spgs. around the 18th of April.
Gay? Gay? Waaaaaaah! A couple of chicks at work were discussing some TV host that was coming out of the closet. "No way is she gay! Oh my god! That's like... that's like..."

I jumped into the conversation. "That's like Bruce Willis saying he's gay!

"Bruce Willis is not gay!"

I said, "Good. Because every day when I get home, I take my husband by the shoulders and shake him, screaming, 'Why aren't you Bruce Willis?'"

"That's terrible!"

"And when I'm done, he takes me by the shoulders, shakes me, and screams, 'Why aren't you Drew Barrymore?'"

Well, when they finished laughing, we decided that it would be OK if we had confirmation that Billy Zane, on the other hand, was gay, because he's too gorgeous to be really attainable anyway. And that a prerequisite of an attractive man is one that has an eyebrow that goes BREWP! all by itself.

Except for my husband, who doesn't, as a rule, fall into categories well, and, in fact, has two eyebrows that go BaDEEEBLEDEEBLEDEEBLE like Groucho Marx's.
This is a big orange thing with lips. If you haven't heard it yet, Dale (my brother in law, for those who know him not) has a webpage! Pictures of Hawaii from his recent trip...it looks like most of the trip was spent in typical Kenyon fashion, i.e., sprawled out in some chair, although it does appear that he hired some fake "palm" trees and "clouds" to hang out with him and his cohorts in the motel room from time to time. OK, I exaggerate. Still, there are far too many large white (and I do mean whiiiiiite) guys and not enough half-naked women wearing coconuts, grass skirts, and other assorted vegetable matter.

My advice: read the captions.

Man, I miss gaming with you.
The delirious drug of motherhood. I'm a mother. I don't get enough sleep. I find myself today in the kind of delirium that poets would seek in absinthe and opium, that I myself would seek in pots of diner coffee. It's a beautiful day. Perhaps I'll go for a walk.
Divorced people sure can be bitter about the opposite gender.

Divorce ran in the family along with wide hips and a faithful craving for chocolate. From mother to daughter, daughter to son, there passed an eye of watchfulness and an eye of charity. The eye of watchfulness watched the husband, watched the wife; the eye of charity watched the blood. "Someday you'll grow up to be a man," she said. "Even so you'll still be my kin."
Snippet: Silkysoft

I gave him a teddy bear, soft as a chinchilla's hair, for his birthday; he was three. "Do you like it?" "It's a toy for babies." "But do you like it?" "Yes," he said. "It's silkysoft." I can't say what I hoped to find; his father's love affairs sprang to mind. It was a Blackmail Bear, with silkysoft hair. My younger son carried it everywhere.

But it wasn't his father in the deep beetle eyes of the silkysoft I saw.


For as much ribbing as he gets, my dad is a pretty even-tempered guy.
Easter. Even if this isn't how it happened, it's how I remember it.

One year, my father was in charge of hiding the Easter eggs. He was only in charge of hiding the Easter eggs for one year, for a good reason. He's a very clever guy. You don't want clever when it comes to little kids and Easter eggs, you want eiditic memory, because if you don't find all the eggs, there are eggs that are not found.

During the year in question (I must have been about eight) we found all the eggs but one. We looked for hours. We looked for days. Weeks passed. Months.

It was July.

The bedroom that I shared with my brother started to smell bad. I may have blamed my brother for the smell; I don't remember. Mom yelled at us to clean our room. She yelled at us to clean it again. She finally cleaned it herself, but it didn't do any good.


Convinced that some animal had crawled into the heater vents -- or maybe even into the walls -- and died, she moved my bed to the side to get to the heater vent in our room. Crunch! The smell got much, much worse. She looked under the bed...trapped between the frame and mattress was the last Easter egg.

Like I said, my father never got to hide the Easter eggs again.

There was also the time he bought us watermelon gum on a long car trip, but that's a different story.
Death to Ecology! A snippet of fiction.

He'd expected the life flashing before his eyes (it was the moment for it) to be his own. Unfortunately, all he saw was the life of a fundamentalist Vegitarian slug from a small G-type star near the Southern Cross constellation; instead of gaining some kind of insight into his character, all he learned was that it was really important for all Xxhrqts to stamp out the Blastophrasticysts before they overgrew the place. "Death to Ecology!" he shouted, shocking the crying people near his bed, and died.

One shadowy form leaned toward another. "This doesn't leak," he said. "Not a word," she replied.

And then--oblivion. He settled into it like a really hot bubble bath, well stocked with soap, loofas, cocktail olives, truffle pate, humorous novels that he'd meant to read or reread for something over a decade, and little rubber duckies.

On the other hand...he did spend all day (all day) today doing spring cleaning.
I'm not a professional mother...just an amateur. Smooch!

Every once in a while I catch myself being a mother at Ray instead of, if you will, with her. I can tell because I want her out of my hair. So I can do something. Anything. From start to finish.

Those aren't the good times. She doesn't like it, and I can't say I blame her. Vicious circle.
Ray updates. She went in a little early today for her six-month checkup. Length: 27 inches. Weight: 17 lbs. 8 oz. Head size: average. Other stats 95% for age and gender. Gluteal folds symmetrical. Development on track. We are go for Cheerios, I repeat, go for Cheerios.
The sensitive lover. So (and all underage readers may here avert your eyes), Good Saturday I was happily contemplating a lotta hot sex and a little gumbo when I get this call. "Honey? Do you miiiiind if I bring Joe over?" "You were still planning to get laid, right?" "Yeah..." "Well, bring him over," I say. Click. Meanwhile I start cursing and trying to figure out how to double the quantity of the meal halfway though preparation without loading up a five-month-old to go out to the grocery store. I work at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays. I go to bed pretty early now. I'm not going to get laid before I fall asleep. Oh, yeah, and did I forget to mention that on Easter morning they ditched me to go see a movie?

What do you think is going to happen when Spider-Man comes out? Attack of the Clones? My birthday is May First. You know what I want? A season pass to the Springs zoo. A sushi dinner. A date to see Spider-Man. You know what? Wait a month and see what happens.

Did I get laid Saturday night? No. I love my husband, but sometimes...
Geocities cannot find my webpage. Right.