Economy 101– What every American should know about today’s economy

Posted October 14, 2012 by Tim Weaver
Categories: Uncategorized

Economy 101– What every American should know about today’s economy.

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High Tech Low Life

Posted June 26, 2012 by Tim Weaver
Categories: Uncategorized

Today’s temperature: 87 degrees minus the humidity. Not a cloud in the sky, only robin’s egg blue from horizon to horizon. I’m quite comfortable where I am, typing in bed wit the A/C on full blast, the lights dimmed. Some like it hot. Introverts like it cold and dark.

 

Get used to it. Soon we will exist between the margins of a digital page; in black and white, sterile, emotionless, colorless, the humanity bleeding out of our asses while we sleep. Living 2.0 means we’re not quite cyborgs yet, but on the fast track. Anyone with a slice of economic empowerment is hooked in. The chromatic wheel never stops turning. Phones and tablets and laptops and apps and plugs and chords until one day we wake up and our own flesh is indistinguishable from a lifeless machine.

 

Cyber punk is no longer speculative fiction; it is the fact of human living in the 21st century.

 

Earlier this week I attended a marketing focus group. You get paid a hundred dollars to tell advertising consultants what you think about various campaigns. While it’s easy money, it’s no longer any fun.

 

Used to be focus groups were about talking about your feelings with a marketer. Now they file 33 of you into a small room like cattle, filled with a projection screen and 33 tiny metal chairs. There is no elbow room; no personal space. They ask you multiple choice questions which you answer by pressing a remote control.

 

Press 1 if you strongly agree with the statement

Press 2 if you kind of agree with the statement

Press 3 if you may or may not agree with the statement

Press 4 if you disagree with the statement

Press 5 if you strongly disagree with the statement.

 

After a couple rounds I resort to answering exclusively with 1s. But I couldn’t get off that easy. Some geek in an attached room thinks this means my remote is malfunctioning, so they take a minute to examine it. I decide not to jeopardize my hundred dollars, banal and boring though it all may be. For the rest of the questionnaire I reply: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, and so on.

 

The campaign was for an energy shot called WAKE YO ASS UP. The tagline was “smack YO brain in the face!” The ads featured photos of famous people, celebrities, newsmakers getting slapped by an invisible hand. Another concept showed a donkey kicking a sleepy office worker in the back of the head, throwing him through the adjacent wall. Another a Mexican genie popping out of a lamp with WAKE YO ASS UP. An impenatrable blur of stupid.

 

Once the first hour was done the pretty pregnant lady leading the study told us she wanted to pick 6 of the 33 for another extra special session. These lucky participants would get to stay another 90 minutes, and be paid an extra 500 bucks. The 6 came out to be numbers 3, 19, 26, 41, and 17. Number 17 as it turned out was the guy sitting next to me. When he got the good news he almost went into apoplectic rage at his bad luck, and the pity of the unchosen washed over him.

Suburban Remains

Posted April 23, 2008 by rosequill
Categories: Weekly Entries

The newspapers called it a four alarm fire. The many colors of the fire departments, six to be exact, blazed across the black and beige newspaper pallet. It had started from a spark in the basement on that Friday December morning, from some exposed light bulb or wire, so they had said. They couldn’t be sure.

I called it my childhood home, the home I had lived in for all of my life. There were memories in those walls that no one but my family and our close friends would know. In one single afternoon and well into the night, when my Dad watched the still burning flames dying down, a beer in hand, with his buddies, everything was gone. The memories faded away and we reached out to grasp them before they floated away like some helium balloon. Our possessions were flooded with water from the long hoses of the fire departments. The smoke clung to the walls, the clothes, everything as the fire finally died.

They had evacuated three times, so the newspapers and my family said. Three times. And when it was finally out, the newspapers had their stories, and we were left numb. By the time the damage was assessed, they were calling it dangerous, rubble, and worst of all, inhabitable.

“You can go in and see it, but no more than five minutes and no more than a couple of people at a time,” they told us. We were supposed to take in the collapse of our lives in five minutes. It didn’t seem possible.

But on that day, Deanna, my older sister and tour guide, escorted my step-brother, Craig, and I up the driveway for our first sight of the house almost a month later. We’d been at college when we’d gotten the calls. The driveway was still diagonally cracked up the middle, something we could never cover up with any amount of cement, and the porch was covered with charred siding, once white, and the remains of our shattered second floor toilet. The porch was solid grey, as if they had just been painted and the second floor was boarded up and isolated.

“Be careful,” Deanna warned us. “The flooring is weak.” We crept up to the house, afraid to disturb the silence and the smoke that lingered there like some unwanted relative. She handed us flashlights as we stepped up to that second porch we had sat on while we shucked corn when we were younger. The white plastic archway was on its side in the garden that had been swallowed by the snow. Craig grabbed the larger one that made a loud clicking noise when you turned it on. The chill was worse as we got closer. There was no indication of how bad the damage was through the back door window for the 9 glass panels were nothing but moist wood under our feet and a large piece of plywood. I took a deep breath when Deanna opened the door. Tears stung my eyes as I looked into the darkness that quickly swallowed the light of the winter afternoon. As we took that one step into our precious rubble, the glass crunched under our feet.

As I closed the door behind us, my fingers came off with grains of soot. I could feel it in my prints and rubbed my fingers to get rid of it. Craig turned on the flashlight and the beam of light spanned up the walls that were once light orange-beige Venetian plaster wallpaper. Now there was a gray hue to it. The coat rack that once held the numerous hats my brother and father collected was still there and, as the beam of light shown further into the room, there was a clear look into the back closet. No folding door there anymore. The light traveled to the right and caught the winter and fur coats that now hung dead and limp on the hangers.

One glimpse into the family room revealed the worst. The furniture was turned and twisted from their positions in front of our TV and in the back of the room was our piano, the finish now bubbled and covered in charred wood and pink insulation. My heart stopped a moment in my chest, and my sister caught my pause. “I know,” she murmured and that was all that I needed to know she felt the same split in her chest when she saw this instrument, once proud with it top raised high, now dead. We had all learned to play on it, each of our fingers skimming the keys as we grew, and I knew that this was one of the worst outcomes of this fire.

“Let’s go. We can’t be here for long,” Deanna said, making us all too aware of how delicate much of this structure was. She warned us once again before we took the doorway in the back of the room, one that always stayed closed, into the dining room. She stopped in the open doorway as I looked at the book shelf lining the wall, finding relief in the blank space where our baby albums used to be. Mom definitely must have grabbed them.

“The floor is really weak here so we can only go one at a time and we have to walk on our toes. Careful.” Deanna crept across the floor like she was passing mom’s room at 2 in the morning and didn’t even stop before the buffet lining the wall that was now torn open. Beams were exposed and dry wall was on the floor and scattered atop the long dark wooden buffet. The large mirror with its gold frame wasn’t there anymore. Mom had said that it was making the fire climb higher and quicker so the firemen had to take it down. As I crept across myself, Deanna and Craig already looking at the rubble in the new room, I hesitated when I got a clear shot of the kitchen through the wall. There was no checked floor, no yellow wallpaper my father had spend hours painting because my mother wanted a French kitchen, no white cabinets I would have to wipe down once every week when I was home. While I stared through the wall, pink insulation hanging from the part that was still there, I noticed the soft floor underneath, which didn’t make sense. These floors were hard wood under this carpet. I rushed across, a squish following each tender step I made upon my toes.

When I turned before me, one last look back at the dining room we rarely used, I found out living room in the same state as the family room. The couches were pushed from their spots and you could see the footprints from the firemen’s boots crossing from the window into the study. I was told earlier that they came in through this window, the one right off the driveway. I didn’t believe her when they said they had sliced through the arm of the sofa. Yet, there it was, as I stepped softly through the room, passing over large splinters and shards of glass from the window. A gash was in the flowery couch and right beside it was the red ax that did it. Above the couch, I looked for the most important thing in the room; our pictures. Mom kept our memories there, from the wedding between her and my stepfather, both of them making fish faces, to my sister and little brother, Robby on a swing, to us girls, lines us on the railing for one of those photos mom loved to take of us after she bought us matching outfits. Only gray outlines remained.

I didn’t realize Deanna was looking back at me from the study, through the French doors to the left. “One guy got them all down, saved them before the fire in the walls took them. He just poured out a hamper and filled it with framed photos. Even got our diplomas.” She pointed before her and I followed with my eyes as well as my feet joining them in the study. And it was true. The framed diplomas upon the wall that reminded me of old wrinkled letter parchment were gone, gray outlines once again in their place. With a look to my left at the stairs, I saw identical marks on the wall. I tried not to breathe as we went upstairs in silence, or as close as we could get to it.

I was afraid of making a sound, even afraid of causing the moan on the third step as always. It was as if the house was frozen in time. No one had been allowed in here for a long time and now, a month later, we have come back to reclaim what was ours.

“Here’s the worst of it,” she pointed out right at the top of the stairs. She was looking into the spare bedroom, or her room, when she came back home to visit. She called it her room, but everyone called the spare one because mom always used it to hide presents and old prom dresses. We filled the doorway, Craig taller than all of us, his red hair swallowed by darkness, and took in the charred walls, or the replaced walls of plywood. Everything was black and there was a good half inch of debris on the floor among blackened ribbons that used to be festive Christmas colors, and dark Macy’s clothing boxes from so many years ago that we had managed to use over and over each holiday. This had been the room where all our presents had been kept, and it was due to this fact, that Mom had called each of us up crying first and foremost about the presents that we would no longer get. “I tried really hard this year, and I knew all you girls would have liked what I got you,” she had moaned into the phone between tired streaking tears.

We had all told her the same thing. “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter,” and it didn’t. I looked into this charred mess, the bonfire smell reeking in our faces, no longer a comforting smell of winter, and turned with this same thought in my head. It didn’t matter. As the newspapers had reported. No one was in the house that the time, well except for our cat, but they didn’t know that. And, on top of that, she was spotted two days later in one of the windows.

What made my heart drop into my calves and stopped the very breath in its shuddering inhale was the room behind it. My room. Dad had said the back of the house got it the worst and he was right. My room, though not as bad as it partner down the hall, was pretty bad. Like the other room, there was a thick layer of debris on the ground and the walls were almost black though you could see the purple walls though some of it. Pink insulation hung like a frozen waterfall over my bureau.

In this mess there wasn’t just Christmas presents, it was my book collection and my CDs and my guitars. My comic collection was still completely wet and when I picked up one of my cherished Ultimate Spiderman volumes, the water dripped from it. The book fell with a wet thud as I dropped it and realized that what I had been told was true.

What had happened was this. As the firemen were stumbling through the smoke to get to the flames that rode at the back of the house, they had knocked over my bookshelf, throwing my books across the floor. The result was this dripping mess upon the floor. Deanna piped up behind me, her voice soft and reaching to that part of me that had sunk beyond numbness, beyond consciousness. “I’m sorry, but we can’t take anything back today.” All I could do was nod, even as my eyes searched for my favorite books, the ones with curving pages and dog-eared corners. I couldn’t see any of them through the pieces of fallen ceiling. “Come on,” Deanna said, leading us to Frankie and Robby’s rooms, both with their vibrant colored walls intact. It was like no one was even in there.

With another turn, we mounted the white carpeted steps to the attic, my parent’s room. We rounded the railing at the top of the stairway and looked into our parent’s closets. The smoke had gotten into every thread of cotton, every stitch, and only a quarter of my dad’s clothes remained. It was closest to the bathroom so it had been swallowed up by some of the flames that left the bathroom in black from its white pristine décor before.

Their bedroom was the same way. The sloping ceilings surrounded the bed that was more gray then white by now. Mom said all of our furniture would have to be replaced, that the smell would never go away, though we could try and save some things.

It was all we could do to move on. Start anew, save what we can, choose what is truly important to us here. Down the steps we descended, our foot prints merging together on the carpet, taking one last look around at a place that was so familiar yet not.

La Llorona

Posted September 11, 2007 by aprilwriter
Categories: Weekly Entries

I wrote this story a while ago and I’m planning on submiting to 10,000 Tons of Black Ink I’ve done some polishing and my question for all of you is: Is it ready to go? The deadline is 09/15 (you all should submit by the way) and I would like to know by then. So without further ado:

La Llorona

When Señor Delajolla was a young boy growing up in Mexico there was a story about why you should never go out past Don Alberto’s south pasture to after dark. La Llorona was there and if you saw her face you would never know happiness again.
When he first heard about the weeping woman, La Llorona, Sergio couldn’t stop thinking about the mysterious black ribbon he saw flapping in the wind, caught in a splinter of wood on the gate. It was said she was back again wandering the dusty river bed with her blood red robozo wrapped around her shoulders and her black braid thick and swinging on her back like snake hanging from a tree.
He saw the ribbon as he closed the gate behind him and clasped it in his hand, catching it from from the wind. The second he held it the pain sharpened in his stomach like some one had grabbed a fistful of flesh and was twisting it. It felt like he had been running hard and fast without taking enough breaths. He ran into the house clutching the ribbon in his fist like a moth that might fly away.
When he told his mother how he felt she admonished him for being so foolish. She stood on her tiptoes and pulled a green glass bottle down from the plank shelf above the fireplace. She popped the cork of the bottle and held it under Sergio’s nose. It smelled of cilantro and honey and something earthy like moss. As the smell rose through his nose and inhaled into his lungs the pain in his stomach was eased. “Now get that thing out from under this roof before you bring La Llorona to our door step.” His mother said.
She sat him down on the bench and reminded him curtly that now that his Papi was gone he was the man and somewhere in the night outside the shutters and white scrubbed walls of the little house were things no Catholic should ever lay eyes on. Sergio slipped the ribbon into his pocket.
“Escucha me, Mijo” She said and began the story with a warning “Try not to be by the river bed after sundown, do your best to be within the garden gate by the time the sun is settled behind the mountains. La Llorona would love to take you home with her and I would never see mi cielo again, how would you like that”
“No Mami, I wouldn’t like that at all,” he said of course.
“And if you ever do see her you should drop to your knees, cross your self, and as quickly as your voice will allow pray to Dios and La Virgen de Guadalupe that you will live to see the morning.” He didn’t hear the last thing she said though, because what he was thinking to himself. No woman could be that bad, maybe if it were a big important man like Don Alberto or even his papi, but he could best any female, even if she were dead.
“It happened long time ago when there was a war that took all the papis away from their wives and children and La Llorona was left to fend for her self and three hungry mouths. And then after a while, word came back that her husband had died in battle, that he had been shot in the heart. Even though it was miles and miles away to the valley where her love lay, La Llorona felt the pain of the bullet in her own breast lodged between the soft skin where her babies lay to be comforted and her own deep passion filled heart. She became overcome with grief and began walking by the riverbed nights when she should have been asleep. She walked with her robozo tied tightly around her shoulders and her braid swinging out behind her. She would toss her head back and stare eye to eye with the stars that had no empathy, or she would wrap her arms around the knarled Tamarind tree as if it were her love and scream and wail with a sound of pain so deep. It sounded like the call of a bird of prey, it was so long it could have been the howl of a coyote and it was so sputtered with sobbing it could have been the sound of cats fighting with arched backs. Night after night past and she began bringing the children with her, who had not been fed at all except for what they managed to find buried in jars in the pantry or crumbs off the floor. The children wandered like blind men placing their hands on things looking for nourishment and then placing their fingers in their lips and smacking them shut around them. Their clothes hung off them like limp socks off a foot. One night La Llorona took them to the river bed and held them under the water scrubbing them against the rocks. She then pilled her robozo up with stones from the bed and walked into the black water where it swirls and rushes and you can’t see the bottom, her black braid floating behind her as she sunk.
The next night was the quietest night the villa had had in years, and so it continued the nights afterward and it seemed that at last this town would know some peace, but around the time I was a little niña your age, she came back. Don Alberto, who was then much younger, was bringing his cattle in when the sky was purple, driving them along the dusty road of the river bed when he heard a sound that sent a pricking chill all the way down his back. He told himself that it was the wind or two cats fighting and continued to drive his cattle forward towards his gate. The cattle themselves moved swiftly over the dirt path. Not one of them milled about near the sweet grass. They trotted so quickly that there was no point to driving them with his stick so Don Alberto tapped it nervously on his leg instead. Then he heard the sound again and Don Alberto turned around quickly and looked into the darkened pastures, down the dirt path he had traveled all the way to the riverbed. There by the Tamarind tree was the silhouette of La Llorona herself, her head tossed back. As you can imagine Don Alberto took off and ran back to the safety of his gate passing the cattle to make their own way. Ever since we have avoided the river path after sunset”
Sergio was as stubborn as the burro he led down to the creek each morning. He thought about all this. He thought about the times before the cattle were his responsibility. How whenever the sky was starting to orange his Papi would tell him to rush on ahead and go tell his Mama they were coming…but the thought connected in his mind, if my Papi’s brave enough to walk alone, then so am I and besides what is there to fear? All the way through dinner he held tightly to the ribbon and thought of how he would catch La Llorona with his lasso and drag her back to the plaza and show everyone how foolish their fears were. “La Cabrona Llorona,” he cursed under his breath as bit into his taco dipped in bean sauce. “They’ll see,” he said…”they’ll see.”
The purple sky faded to a thin line and Sergio could hear his mother breathing deeply in her sleep. With nothing but his lasso he slunk outside into the inky black night and climbed through the break in Don Alberto’s fence. When he was far enough from the house he shouted into the night
“La Llorona, La Llorona come meet your master, I am not afraid of you!”
Sergio walked the dirt path to the riverbed holding his lasso closely to his shoulder. He took wide, bold steps forward and tried to hold his shoulders straight and his back upright so he would look like a man. He shouted as he walked taunting the phantom calling her Vieja and Cabrona and bogyman lie to scare small children. He boldly marched toward the Tamarind tree.
The dirt shifted under his feet. The dry grass rustled on either side of the path. Little winds picked up bits of dirt and sent them swirling in tiny tornados. As he got closer to the riverbed he heard the water, continuously rushing in his ears, and on top of the water at a pitch that echoed in the back caverns of his ears was the sound of a woman’s scream. Just stepping forward toward the cry was enough to spite her. The wind lifted the dust from path and flung it at the boy causing him to squint. He put his hand up to cover his face. The coils of the rolled up lasso were held tight in one hand, the black ribbon rolled in a sweaty ball in the other. Through his half closed eyes he started to make the out the shape of a woman standing against the Tamarind tree, but it wasn’t until the wind settled and he was able to pull his hands down did he really see her.
She was by the tree with her back to him. He could see white elbows stick out of shirtsleeves. Her arms were outstretched toward the water. Her moan came to a pitch as he stepped closer, he made out the words “Ay mis hijos, Ay mi vida…” Over and over in a whaling cry. She was wearing a long black skirt and he could see the fringes of the rust colored robozo falling across the shoulder of her white arms.
When Sergio was even younger than he was now his Papi took him to see a thief hung from the branch of the tallest tree in the plaza. The feet that hung below the black skirt where were exactly like that of the dead mans. They hung below the skirt not touching the ground beneath it. The toes were pointed down and drained of blood, pale, white, like chalk and swung back and forth. He recalled the eerie sound of the creaking rope swinging with the weight of the dead man. Her braid was swinging back and forth and with her head flung backwards the ends of the hair swept the dust touching the ground that her feet did not. The braid was coming untangled because the ribbon that was supposed to bind it was in Sergio’s sweaty palm.
Sergio crept closer to her. Her face was hidden by the tree, but the fingers of her left hand were knotted around the bark. She had a copper ring on her wedding finger, and lines in the folds of her skin, and blue veins coursing under the lines. Sergio spoke. “La Llorna” He said, and it sounded much braver inside his head before he spoke. Out loud the “na” came out shrill and inflected like a question. He tried again a little louder. “La Llorona” he said. This time at least he didn’t sound like a girl. He took one more step toward the tree; there were only about five paces between him and the weeping woman. She stopped wailing. The wind stilled and except for the sound of the rushing water it was silent. Sergio held out his palm with the ribbon. He didn’t open it fully but held the end of it down with his thumb against the palm, instantly the wind picked up and tried to lift it from his him. It flapped against his wrist the same way it flapped when it was caught on the fence. “Face me” he said “look me in the eyes and I’ll give you back your ribbon” La Llorona didn’t make a sound but the wind swirled the dust up all around her again it began battering Sergio’s arms and face. He had to squint again and then the wind picked up the ribbon and his bargaining chip spun off into the dust. “I don’t fear you” he said but even as he said this the phlegm was hardening in his throat and the back of his neck felt as if it were pricked with a thousand pins and he got the feeling you get when staring straight down off of a cliff, like the worst could happen any minute. He realized he would have to act before the feeling could overtake him, so he undid the lasso from his arm.
La Llorona side stepped from behind the tree, he could see her entire body now, the black skirt moved beneath her, the feet hovered not five centimeters off the ground. Her arms at first were straight out as if she were reaching for something or finding her way in the dark and then they swung to the right. Anticipating that her body was about to turn Sergio swung the lasso round in the air making a wide circle above his head with the rope. Then at last he jerked his arm forward and it landed wrapped around La Llorona upper arms and torso, falling tightly below her breast. He yanked the rope intending to pull her closer to him, but instead she was a strong as a wild horse and he felt himself being pulled closer to her. He leaned backward but felt his feet being dragged in the dust and the distance between them shortening. Five paces, four paces, three paces. By now his skin was covered in cold sweat.
His heart was beating so loudly he could hear it over the sound of the river. He wondered if now was his time. He wondered if he should fall on his knees and bless himself and pray to the Virgen de Guadalupe to save his soul. But as soon as the thought crossed his mind he thought, it would be much easier to drag me on my knees and even God would understand if I don’t want to go without a fight. Two paces, one pace…and Sergio stopped leaning back against the pull and instead lunged forward grasping the long black braid in his free fist. It felt slick and greasy but his grip was tight and it held. The feeling of the yank must have taken La Llorona aback because the rope stopped pulling forward. Just as you would pull on the reins of the horse he gave her braid and the rope one big yank, expecting to jerk her backwards. Instead the braid came loose, the rope slipped out of his hand and La Llorona disappeared into the dust. The braid snapped off like an iguana’s tail except soundlessly. It writhed like a snake in his fist. This startled him so terribly he dropped it and it slithered off into the bushes.
For many moments Sergio held his hand out in front of him felling the grease on his palm. The dust began to settle around him. La Llorona and all traces of her were gone, and the only sounds where the rushing of the water and the beating of his heart. Even his lasso was nowhere to be found. The moon had risen above the water and for a minute he watched the swirling black ripples and then he turned his back to the Tamarind tree and trudged off toward bed feeling less like a man than ever before.

Thinking of You

Posted May 9, 2007 by aprilwriter
Categories: May 6th-12th, Weekly Entries

I wanted to try something different. Tell me what you guys think.

-April

Lilly sat down at the computer stall wiggled the mouse so the screen would wake up from energy-save mode. The pale white screen started to come in clearly until she realized that it was yahoo mail. It was still logged in. She looked around the library trying to get a glimpse of the person whom this email may belong. But they were gone and instead of a name listed as owner of the e-mail account there was only a screen name JKLBstar48. The seat of the chair was still warm from its occupant but he or she was long gone. There was no one in the computer bank but her. She saw a vast list of names and dates. Subjects: Call me, The dog needs to go to the vet. Hello. Of course was the accustomed list of spam but one email thread caught her. Subject: Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

Maybe it was the abruptness of that idea that drew her into reading someone’s private mail. Maybe she was worried about the person threatened to be killed. Maybe it was just a burning curiosity. Regardless her motives, she clicked the link. As she reached for the mouse she half wondered if there was a law against it, like tampering with post mail was illegal how is this any different. But as the screen opened up and she started reading, she knew she couldn’t stop. It wasn’t limited to one e-mail. There was a dialog going back at least three months. She would have to click on the tiny 2 at the bottom of the page to see more. She would have to make that decision when she came to it. Without heisting further she dove into the letter.

08/21/06 Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

J,

I’m kidding of course but it sure does make you think.

Anyway, I had sex last night. It hurt like fuck. I kept trying to get into it but my pussy was so dry that his cock dragged against the walls like a hot dog across sand paper Not that dispassionate animal like rutting ever gets me off. It still hurts now especially if I pee…he can’t even do that right.

Its rainy outside and so dark it’s almost night. No matter what I do I cant get horny unless I think about you slapping my face. Is that weird or what? I don’t even like to be slapped. My mother used to slap me when I said fuck. One time I got so pissed when she slapped me that I said it eight times in a row. My ears were ringing when she was done with me and I had a big purple splotch on my cheek. Now I say fuck to her whenever I can. She can’t do anything anymore so I’m like fuck this and fuck that. I can hear her cringe over the phone. It’s not like I have trucker mouth in real life, you know that. I use fuck with moderation. Its much more powerful that way. People know you mean it if you don’t use it too often. When you slapped my face it was something powerful that I can’t explain. Maybe you should do it again.

G

08/30/06 RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

G,

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK. That was for your mother. Tell her I said fuck. Not, tell her I said hi, have a nice cinco de mayo. Instead I said, fuck. I kind of like that it’s much more original and expressive than most greetings. Eso Cabron, you drop the bastard if he cant fuck you right. I would fuck you right. You know it. Remember how that slap felt? I’ll make your whole body feel like that.

J

Lilly got chills. The air conditioner vent above her blasted a cold gust of air. Her nipples were hard under her tee shirt. Maybe it wasn’t all the air conditioner’s fault. She couldn’t believe she was actually reading this. Not that she could stop though. She had started this and it wasn’t over. Boy this woman was unhappy and fucked up. Who was this J character. Did they have an affair? Are they going to? The bell on the door to the library rang and she looked around startled. She noticed the African American woman security guard leafing through the pages of a glossy magazine at a table by the door. The woman looked up too. It was a young mother leading her small blond son to the children’s section. He had the blondest mop of hair on his head and little red book bag slung over one shoulder. The security guard greeted the woman and child with a smile. Lilly laughed at herself. There was no way anyone could discern that she was doing something wrong. To the outsider she appeared to be engrossed in her own e-mail. She sighed turned back to the screen. Safe. She said under breath.

 

o9/05/06 RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

J,

You can’t talk to me like that anymore if he finds out he’ll drop me and that will be the end of everything. Reminiscing is one thing, planning a rendezvous is another!

G

09/ 10/06 RE:RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

G,

Hijo de puta madre! Does he read your fucking e-mail now?! What you do is your own business. You’re not going to fuck me, so what’s the harm in fantasying. You used to be different before this lug. I will never understand what you see in him.

J

09/ 12/06 RE:RE:RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

J,

I’m changing the subject. You’ll just make me horny and then all I’ll have is sandpaper cock. A kid was shot outside my house today. He isn’t dead or anything but there is blood on the sidewalk. I had no idea there would be so much of it. Its this big red round puddle all cornered off with yellow police line tape. It looks an eye from my second floor apartment window. I like to watch the paleteros swerve their carts to avoid hitting it. And they always cross themselves when they past, old, young it doesn’t make a difference. I wonder when they will come and clean it.

G

09/13/06 RE:RE:RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

G,

You can’t change the subject forever. It will come up again.

J

09/14/06 RE:RE:RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

J,

You suck

G

09/14/06 RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

G,

No mija, its you who suck. I still remember, even if you refuse to.

J

 

9/15/06 RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

J,

I said stop it. I can’t take it. Fuck off

G

The dates were off. It was a long time between this post and the next. Months in fact. Lilly scanned down looking to find out what happened next. How did J take it when G told him to fuck off? There wasn’t a response. G wrote again but months later. What had happened during this intervening time?

12/06/06 RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:Fuck it, I’ll just kill him and be done with it.

J,

I’m sorry I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that. Are you mad at me. I haven’t heard from you in weeks. The baby kicked me. This is fucking real. I felt a little pang inside me and then a sharp pain. It seemed like this was happening to someone else until it kicked. I can’t believe he want to control me so much that he planted this thing inside me. Me a mother now that’s a joke! Please write me…I can’t stand waiting for you.

G

She had reached the edge of the page and the dreaded number 2. Should she click it? Continue in this insane obsession? Just the there was a crackle on the announcement system of the library. The ancient intercom clacked and clicked for several seconds before an elderly woman’s voice (which sounded like it was inside a tin can) came over the intercom. “ The Library closes in fifteen minutes. Please take your selections to circulation. Thank you.” It seemed that fate had decide for her. She would never know the outcome of J and G. She hovered the pointer of the mouse over the tiny x in the corner of the screen. Just end it quickly she thought to herself. Get it over with. Her finger was poised to click—but she just couldn’t do it. She took another look around. No one was paying any attention to her. The little blond boy had started a raving tantrum which had something to do with the cardboard picture book he was hugging to his chest. The Security guard had risen from her seat, her finger already across her lips in the universal “Quiet it’s a library” gesture. She would have to act now. She scooted over to the adjacent computer and typed in yahoomail.com with no hesitation. Under the sign in space there was a link in tiny underlined print. “Forgot your password?” It inquired.  “Click here.” In the box that appeared she typed G’s username: JKLBstar48. Please answer this security question: What do I use in moderation? Lilly typed the answer with a grin. That was a piece of cake. The screen darkened and a little moving hourglass appeared. The tantrum subsided in the children’s section. Hurry. Lilly said under her breath. Finally the message; “Thank you, your new pass word is 23ht1. Please visit your account and update it.” She grabbed a pen and scribbled the numbers and letters on the inside of her left palm. Now she could leave. She clicked the tiny x, gathered her belongings and walked out swinging her left hand closed in a fist.

No iPod Please

Posted April 22, 2007 by rosequill
Categories: April 15th-21st

Ok. This is a little over 4 pages but I think it moves.   This is a possible submission for Salon so please be honest.

     Every birthday and every holiday, I receive the same question from my mother.  “Do you want an iPod?” she asks me, grappling for some hint on what I would like to receive.

     She always gets the same answer.  “I really don’t want one, mom.  Really, just get me a gift card to Borders or something.”

     She scoffs, and rolls her eyes, going back to the dishes or the laundry; no closer to an answer than she was a moment before. I really don’t mean to be a pain, in fact I just want to make it easier on her. I just don’t feel the need to carry “1000 songs in [my] pocket,” as the ads first said in October of 2001. 

     I can’t avoid them though.  I see them hanging on women’s back pockets in color like olive green and hot pink, the coolest women with glitter and rhinestones.  I see guys with back packs that cross over their chests with straps carrying a case there.   Even the subways try to tempt me. 

     As I am waiting for the train, I see their ads lining the walls, you know the ones, the ones with the black silhouettes against bright colors with thin lines from the rectangle in their hands to their ears as they pause in motion with hips jutting or arms shot out like they are having a seizure.  The iPod shuffles are stuck on collars or tight jean pockets that only make me wonder about the gender of the wearer.  

     When my lack of enthusiasm for this product comes through, I receive looks that would be better fit for a man wearing a death metal t-shirt to a afternoon of golfing on a country club golf course.  They tell me the facts.  The shuffle can hold up to 250 songs and is half the size of your palm.  The nano, depending on how many gigs you buy, can hold from 500-2,000 songs, and are very light and thin, perfect fit for any pocket.  The original iPod offers up to 80 gigs and even came out with a Harry Potter design at one point. And finally, everyone has an iPod, which could be true considering that about 90 million have been sold already. I get it. It holds many, many songs and it looks pretty.

     Then, much to my dismay, they continue their defense of their newest obsession.  I tally the costs in my head.  “I have a iHome that I can turn on when I take a shower, and its my alarm clock too,” they tell me.  100 dollars right there.  “I got Altec Langsing speakers for my birthday and they matched my white iPod!” another one exclaims.  Depending on the model, that means their parents spent 100 to 250 dollars at least just for some speakers. “With my iPod remote, I can pause things from across the room,” someone claims. Yeah, that’s only after you pay for the required Universal Dock at $39 and the remote for an extra $29.  All these things add up.

     But while people boast that they have their whole play list on their hip, retorts accompanied by complaints I have heard about them flood my mind. Batteries were recalled during the winter of 2003 while some still suddenly fail today.  The Equalizer can easy distort the bass causing a screeching of guitar solos to puncture your eardrums, and this wondrous machine that has “altered the landscape for portable audio players” (PC World) has a failure rate of 13.7%.   Without the additional $59 for 2 year coverage of Applecare, you’re screwed. 

     You wouldn’t believe that it has been redone 5 times and the basis of the design was created only six years ago. The sales from this product also account for half of Apple’s $7.1 billion dollar profits.  Who knows how much of these were spent on replacement iPods and parts. Most people can’t imagine life without it now though, and most can’t go a half an hour without seeing at least one around.  Still, I ask, what is the big deal?

     Now, I did fall under the techno trends at one time.  Believe it or not, I did have an MP3 player that I promptly lost after putting it somewhere.  Even now, I have a Razor, though I admit I got it without charge.

     But when the iPods finally took off in 2004, my younger sister was the first one to beg for one.   College payments were depleting our accounts though, so she couldn’t get one.   Then when the nano came out, she wanted that one, and she finally got it for her birthday, though that was all she got because the price came to about $300 dollars.   My older sister bought one for herself, and my younger brother got one in the past two years and he’s only 12.

     Yet, I am fine with my CD player.  You may look at me strangely as I heft the player in my hand, thinking that I should move with the times and get and iPod.  I tell you this; Believe it or not, I have the attention span to listen to one artist for a long period of time and I do not need to make play lists formatted to my every mood. Most of the musicians I do enjoy can keep me pumped for at least eight songs, rarely any one hit wonders.  Besides if I want a mix, then all I have to do is burn a CD and I am set. 

So while you may rave about the numerous choices you have to delight your ears during the day, I find no yearning for that small white, blue, black, silver, green or pink player.  No matter how long I stare at those frozen poses of dancers, or watch commercials with people dancing down the street with something white peeking out from their pockets, I do not want one.

“Are you sure? Not even a nano?” she asks me again.

“Just get me a gift card or something,” I tell my mother once more.  Hopefully, she will listen. 

The River Crossing

Posted April 12, 2007 by aprilwriter
Categories: April 1st-7th, Weekly Entries

It was a dark night. The only sound was the humming of cicadas and water softly splashing on the banks of the river. The sky was an unbroken mass of stars shinning like pinpricks in a vast black fabric. They were so bright compared to the dark night that they hurt your eyes to look at them. Even at night it is warm in Mexico. Delores sweated profusely under the three layers of clothing she is wearing. Two dresses- her Sunday silk on the bottom most layer- and one skirt. The fabric was stretched tightly over her bulging pregnant stomach. The sweat was the thickest and stickiest on the back of her neck but with her arms laden with packages there was nothing she could do but shake her thick black braid off her neck and over her shoulder. Under one arm was a heavy sack containing her stone mocajete, the irreplaceable mortar and pestle which had been passed down to her by her great grandmother. She had packed it tightly wrapped in socks and underwear but as she shifted the weight under her arm she heard a tiny little clink as the well worn pestle must have clinked inside the deep bowl of the mortar. Under her other was a bundle of the remaining clothing tied up in a sheet.

Bartolome had agreed to have the rest shipped to el otro lado. The indignity of their flight was almost more than Iraseme could bear. She took one look at the cold river and stood unmoving under the mesquite tree. Sergio was already waist deep. His bundles were floating around him like small boats, each packet wrapped thoroughly in plastic garbage bags sealed with duck tape. One barely floated and sunk below the surface of the water. It contained a sack of corn meal for tortillas, uncooked white rice and pinto beans. This was all they had in terms of provisions in addition to emptied milk gallon filled with water each.

Delores lifted her skirt and started to make her way into the black water but all of a sudden there was a loud sound like a gust of wind blowing past you and then a soft light in the distance appeared bobbing up and down like a lantern on a string. It was moving rapidly toward the three people about to cross the river. La Migra they all thought to themselves as the light got closer. Some how they had found them. But as the light neared them it brighter and brighter until they realized it wasn’t one light but several spreading across a line. Had the mob followed them this far? Delores thought to herself. They were twenty days travel from Tayahu and it hardly seemed worth the effort even if they did think her a cursed bruja. The glowing lights took on a smoky glaze. There was a shimmer around them and areas of opaqueness like dust kicked up by feet. As the lights got closer they spread further and further east and west. Soon it was almost like a horizon of light coming toward them.

Delores and Sergio turned around in the water and stared. It defiantly was not a mob of people or La Migra. Iraseme blinked repeatedly and slowly backed away from the mesquite tree toward the river where her son and daughter in law stood paralyzed. Delores clutched dropped her burdens and clutched at her womb. The mocajete fell from her hands and plopped into the black water. Ireseme’s black dress thwapped against her thighs in the wind. She held her hands up shielding her eyes from the light, but when she saw its true nature she fell forward on her knees genuflecting rapidly. “ Aye Nuestra Senora!” was all she managed to say out loud. The horizon of light came so close that there was only a few feet of no man’s land between the river crossers and the mass of whatever was causing the glow. Delores gasped when she saw the source, thousands of ghostly bodies. She had been wrong, it was a mob. There were faces they knew. Old relatives they often visited in their memories, friends and acquaintances long gone. The number of those they knew however was only a small handful compared to the number of strangers. Thousands of translucent illuminated bodies stood before them. The material that they were composed of was a mere shadow of flesh and blood. They had the same qualities as a white sheet hung on a clothes line. Their bodies seemed to mesh into one another. Some were on foot, others rood ghostly horses and burros. It was an entire league of dead souls. Their bodies emitted a brilliant white light but their eyes were as black as the night around them.

Delores took two steps forward until she stood close enough to touch Iraseme who was still on her knees. Sergio let go of the floating bundles and walked forward towards the two women on bank of the river. “What in gods name do we do” Delores whispered to him when he was close enough to hear.

“We cannot stop” Iraseme said. “We cannot turn our backs to them. We must cross the river as quickly as possible. I don’t think they can follow over running water” Her voice was trembling. “And pray for God’s sake. Pray that he will save our souls!” She spread her arms out beside her as if to display her hands were free of weapons. She slowly rose to her knees and began walking backwards towards the river. She stooped to pick up her tiny bundle and continue backwards into the black water not bothering to lift her skirt. Delores and Sergio followed her example. As she stepped into the water she tripped on something hard on the sandy floor. It was her mocajete. She bent down carefully feeling the cold water close in around her. She didn’t take her eyes off the ghostly crowd. As Sergio entered the water widening the gap between them and the mob she assumed the mass would move forward it did not.