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[about the author]

i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish, eh?

i work crossword puzzles in ink.

i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie izzard. can't decide, really.

i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really good aunt.

i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.

i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.

i never play dumb. never.

i am way too hard on myself.

i am a change agent.

i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.

i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.

i am militantly pro-choice.

i am pro-adoption.

i know a little bit about alot of things.

i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.

i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it. hard.

i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.

i have been known to hold a grudge.

i have hips.

i am not my sister.

i am lousy at forgiving myself.

i am an indoor kind of gal.

i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.

i am 32 flavors. and then some.

[the ones people ask about]
Rittenhouse Review
Investment Banking Monkey
Cheap Ticket News
iPhone News
Hotels and Travel News
Latest on Retirement Planning
Consumer News and Reviews

[in case you were wondering]

[the blogger behind the curtain]

[100 things about me]

[the old stuff]


<< current

[all content copyright 2007 by tequila mockingbird. seriously.]


my morning recap...in bullet points...for easier reading...because it's all about making this easier for you...seriously
- my hair, after days of some sort of 70s-retro-shaun-cassidy behavior is cooperating. probably because i scheduled a haircut for saturday. but, still: not a bad hair day.

- wearing a shirt particularly kind to the twins. presents them in their best light, if you will. gets 'em out for a little fresh air after a long winter of being buried under turtleneck sweaters. they seem pleased. perky, even.

- had two story ideas for post on train this morning. woo-hoo'd out loud as a result. but, quietly. and with dignity.

- reflected with happiness on phone call last night in which i reconnected with an old and dear friend after estrangement caused by knots-landing-level-melodrama orchestrated by his sociopathic soon-to-be-ex-wife. two things: thank god for old friends and not-soon-enough.

- left post-it note for co-worker using my new tres chic post-it notes that have a rather european hepburnesque chick on a scooter saying, "ciao!" i love my new post-it notes.

- have nice start on tan as a result of weekend spent in the great outdoors. this turns out to be very important, as have just learned that i'm leaving on sunday for two and a half weeks in sunny miami. sometimes, on rare occasions mind you, my job doesn't totally suck.

- rode on elevator with my newly discovered office crush. bantered successfully. saw minor setback, however, when attempted to breezily exit elevator...on wrong floor. he seemed to find it charming, though, so maybe it wasn't so bad.

all in all, it's a pretty good day over here, people. hope it's a good one for you, too.
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it's a movie review in which i can't really tell you anything about the movie. yeah. that's helpful.
there are two types of people sitting in any movie theater:
there are people who are there to get away from it all. relax. not think so much. be entertained.

then there are the people who are going to spend the next 120 minutes trying really hard to figure out the gotcha plot points. they pick up on all the little inside jokes, bloopers and movie homages. mostly, you want to punch them in the mouth when they lean over and say, "so, have you figured it out yet?" with a big grin on their face.

um, i am that person. that second kind of one. although i have never leaned over and said, "so, have you figured it out yet?" to anyone. mostly for fear i'd get punched in the mouth.

i don't mean to be that person, i swear. i'm not actually trying to figure anything out. honestly. it just happens. a friend once described it by saying, "she can't help it that she is incapable of turning off her brain and relaxing, not even for two hours." that's actually sort of true. even though i think they meant it in a crappy way.

but here's what i can't make people understand: it didn't ruin the sixth sense for me one bit that i knew from about 15 minutes in that the guy was dead. for real. i still loved it. thought it was a great, smart, very well-written, very well-acted movie.

so i knew who keyser soze was. big deal. still loved the usual suspects.

got unbreakable. adored it anyway.

that box with the head in it in seven? saw that one coming a mile away. and yet, i absolutely think that is a brilliant movie.

so, let me just be clear: i figure movies out. always.

so, i have no way to know what i should tell you about identity. i don't want to tell you too much, and, even by telling you that there's something to figure out, maybe i told you too much.


so, yes, there is a something to figure out. although, isn't there always in a thriller? i mean, you're always trying to figure out whodunit. the good news for those of you who love that kind of stuff, is that the clues are all there. and, to the writer's credit, i'm almost sure that if i watched it a second time, he didn't even cheat or anything. i'm pretty sure that he played by the rules the whole way through.

two complaints:
1. i thought maybe it was a little too easy to figure out the something.
2. i thought they revealed the something a little too soon.

and, for those of you who just want to be entertained, this isn't a bad way to invest your matinee dollars. it has a little bit of a classic thriller feel to it, actually. a bit agatha christie. a bit and then there were none or, if you prefer, ten little indians...you know...220...221.

the cast isn't bad, and john cusack does his trademarked laconic hang-dog everyman thing. there are a few good one-liners, and some clever twists. and it has john c. mcginley, who i adore and would watch in anything, including a kibbles 'n bits commercial. plus, it has genuinely creepy music, and i'm a sucker for genuinely creepy music. oh, and, it has one of the best person-getting-hit-by-a-car special effects i think i can remember [it's all about the velocity]. for real. nice job on that, special effects guys.

however, you should brace yourself, 'cause you're going to see some cliches.

like rain. a whole lotta rain. because, you know, you can't have a "dark and stormy night" without an assload of rain. yeah, it's actually a dark and stormy night. i mean, does it get any more cliched than a dark and stormy night? even snoopy knew there's nothing more cliche than a dark and stormy night. geesh.

it's so bad that there are even flooded roads so no one can leave. and a creepy motel. and the phones won't work. and there's a burned-out cop who left his job after growing weary of seeing the worst in his fellow man. and a b-movie actress who thinks she's really a-list. and a convicted murderer who's being transported by a shady cop with anger management issues. dude, there's even a hooker with a heart of gold. seriously.

but, here's the thing: once you know the something then...um...oh, crap, i can't really say...anyway, once you know then you know.

yeah, that cleared it right up for ya, eh?

anyway, it's not great. but, i'm usually willing to overlook a lot for a movie that tries to do something different. especially when it's something smart. and, they really did try and do something different and smart.

is it a classic? uh, no.

was i entertained? uh, yes.
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a post post
so, you might be wondering what happened with that whole washington post thing.

i'm not going to lie to you: when i saw the comment on my blog saying, "you want to write something for the post? oh, okay. just email me." i was, um...skeptical. i mean, i have more than one friend who has been known to pull someone's leg. yank their chain. put them on.

you know what i mean.

i wasn't entirely sure i wasn't being had.

i mean, come on...how often does it really happen like that? you write a post saying, "hey, i'd like to do this..." and then, boom -- there it is. it's like a magical genie or something. but not like christina aguilera genie in a bottle. more like that genie from the mercedes commercials. remember him?

i digress.

at any rate, i got tied up at the office on monday and didn't get home until late. i opened the door to my dark empty apartment, and, as i walked in, what did i see?


in the dark...

a flashing red light.

a message!

and, sure enough, the too-good-to-be-true jen-from-the-post is a real person! who called me! to talk about me possibly writing something! for the post!

i'm not too proud to admit to you, my dear readers, that i did a dance of joy right there in my living room. i danced like all the kids from the peanuts cartoons. i especially danced like snoopy. heck, i even struck a pose ala mary katharine gallagher...although i did refrain from actually shouting "supahstah!"

so, we talked yesterday, and i wish you could see my notes from the phone call. sure, all the important stuff is there -- all the helpful information jen gave me. but there are also doodles, and happy faces, and "AWESOME," and "the WASHINGTON POST!!" scrawled all over the page.

then, at the end of our conversation, jen says to me, "so...does this sound like something you'd be interested in?"

i wanted to tell her that, at about fifteen different points during the conversation, it was all i could do to keep from actually screaming "woo-hoo!" into the phone. but, instead, i opted for the slightly more dignified, "definitely."

but, then i lost all street cred by adding, "can i just say how totally excited i am?!"

so, we wrap up with her telling me to take my time, think about some ideas, and then get back to her and pitch my story ideas. right there? that emphasis was added by me. because, who can freakin' believe THAT? pitch. my. story. ideas. to. jen. from. the. washington post.

shut. up.

i told her that, while i'm incredibly excited, i'm also a total newbie, and i might ask her a lot of questions.

and, do you know what she told me? she said, "no problem. i read your writing. you're good. i know you can do this."

when she said that, i think i might have actually peed my pants. but just a little bit.

then, after i hung up, i did, in fact, scream "woo-hoo!" and then i put stayin' alive on repeat play, turned up the volume, opened up the sunroof and drove around with a big smile on my face for a good twenty minutes.

the truth is, i may never see my name in the post. but, the other equally important truth is: sometimes, it really is an honor just to be nominated.

so, that's pretty much the update. in case you were wondering.

ps - in case there really is a blog genie reading this, um...maybe ron livingston could call me? am i pressing my luck? don't want to seem greedy. just throwing ideas out there. pitching my ideas, if you will.
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but i break like a little girl

good-bye, nina simone.

thank you for your individuality. thank you for your grace that was a thing of beauty, despite being outside the norm of what society said was beautiful. thank you for your voice, at once wavering and strong.

thank you for your rendition of dylan's classic, just like a woman. thank you for my baby just cares for me. thank you for sinnerman. and, thank you most of all for i want a little sugar in my bowl.

i want a little sugar
in my bowl
i want a little sweetness
down in my soul
i could stand some lovin'
oh so bad
feel so lonely and i feel so sad

i want a little steam
on my clothes
maybe i could fix things up
so they'll go
whatsa matter daddy
come on, save my soul
drop a little sugar in my bowl
i ain't foolin'
drop a little sugar in my bowl

on more than one night in my life, this song played in perpetual rotation. for me, the song was a chameleon -- perfect for either a woe-is-me-and-pour-me-another crying jag or a sit-back-and-enjoy-this-bump-and-grind opus.

for some, she was an acquired taste. for others, a taste never acquired at all. but she was an original. and she will be missed.
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and still more random stuff...

is it just me, or, when they make a movie of the week about the truly heartbreaking story of laci peterson -- and you know they will, if they haven't started already -- isn't it pretty clear that ben affleck is getting the scott peterson role? i mean, come on. just look at this and tell me it's not ben affleck. it's totally ben affleck.


so, i heard the news this morning while i was getting ready for work that j. garner has been sent to iraq to head up the interim government, and i was, like, "well, that's an idea i can get behind! jennifer garner would kick so much ass! she'd have that place whipped into shape in no time at all! you go, jennifer garner!" but, alas, it's not jennifer garner. it's some military guy named jay garner. man, was i disappointed. i bet alot of iraqis were disappointed, too. they could have had ass-kicking spy girl, but got some old military geezer instead. what a drag.


so, on my way through the pittsburg airport, i'm coming to the end of the moving walkway, and i happen to look down and see that the company that manufactures the moving walkway is schindler. then, i get all giggly because i keep thinking that, if they make escalators and moving walkways, then maybe they make elevators too and then they'd be schindler's lifts!

and i thought that was extremely funny.


i had to reread an article about the sars scandal in china twice this morning. the part that stopped me in my tracks was this:

"from the start, chinese sources said, the new government of president hu jintao and premier wen jiabao, who formally took power in march, approved the coverup."

okay, wait a minute. the chinese president and the chinese premier are named hu and wen?! that is awesome.


is it just me, or does the word ineffable sound like something you say as a slam on someone's bedroom prowess or something? like, "i know he has a great personality, but, seriously, he's completely ineffable."

of course, the same goes for effable.

anyway, i'm gonna start using those words like that. feel free to do the same.
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breaking the news
most of you know that, as far as my family is concerned, this blog has been my dirty little secret. no one in my family knew about said blog. no one in my family had ever read said blog.

and i liked it like that.

however, it’s hard to share your excitement at even the most remote prospect that your name might appear in print in the washington post without explaining how something so amazing came to be a possibility.

so, i say to my mom, “hey, mom, a pretty cool thing happened, and i’m really excited about it, even though i’m trying not to get overly excited so i won’t be inconsolable if nothing actually comes of it.”

my mom stares at me. she’s folding my underwear. i have no idea why mothers have this need. this compulsion. i’m a grown-ass woman perfectly capable of paying bills, and wearing matching socks, and holding down a full-time job…albeit a crap-ass unfulfilling full-time job. what is it that makes my mother think that when she comes to visit she needs to:

- clean my bathroom floors. keeping in mind that she does so like some sort of ocd lab technician with an inexplicable aversion to modern cleaning tools, like, say mops. the end result being, i walk into my bedroom where my sister is flounced on my bed, reading instyle and i say, “where’s mom?” and she is totally nonplussed as she says, “she’s scrubbing your bathroom floor,” and i go in to find her on her hands and knees with an actual scrub brush in her hand. this is a mystery to me.

- do my laundry. sorting, washing, drying, ironing, folding. even worrying that, and i quote, “i want to make sure i fold your towels the way you like them folded. so, how do you like your towels folded?” to which i can honestly respond, “mom, i have no earthly idea how i like my towels folded. you decide for me.” then, my mom sighs, as if to say, "my poor daughter. wandering aimlessly through life with no idea how she likes her towels folded. where did i go wrong?"

- wash my dishes. by hand. and dry them. with a towel. despite the repeated effort on my part to explain to her that the large appliance mounted under the counter will actually wash the dishes for us. “oh, it’s just as fast to do them myself.” see, i never understood that speed was the determining factor in this equation. i always assumed it was just the fact that the dishwasher did the work for you. i mean, i've got time. i can wait the 30 minutes to get the clean glasses without having to wash them myself. really.

at any rate, my mom stops folding my underwear and stares at me.

“so, are you going to tell me what the thing is? have you decided to be a lesbian?”

this is a familiar refrain in my family.

at the risk of invoking stereotypes, i’ll just say that the following issues have resulted in me being asked “the lesbian question” more than a few times over the years:

- i wear overalls. a lot.
- with my overalls, i sometimes wear birkenstocks. with socks.
- with my overalls and birkenstocks and socks, i often wear a baseball cap.
- while wearing my overalls, birkenstocks, socks and baseball cap, i drive a standard-shift suv.
- when i’m driving my suv while wearing my overalls, birkenstocks, socks and baseball cap, i sometimes sing along with indigo girls.
- i may have mentioned once or twice at family holiday gatherings that thing about how i thought gina gershon was really hot, and that i would totally kiss her on the mouth.

“no, mom, still not a lesbian. not even bisexual. but i’m glad that we’re all so open to the idea in case i do ever decide to explore an alternative lifestyle.”

“well, your grandmother will be relieved.”

“anyway, mom, the cool thing is that i got an email from an editor at the washington post and i might have a chance to do some freelance writing."

“well, this is a goddamn easter miracle. thank you, lord. finally.”

see, my mom has always encouraged me to “do something with [my] writing.” so, i really wanted to share this with her.

“wait a minute,” she pauses mid thong-fold. “did you submit some samples to them or something?”

“well, no. not exactly. i mean…no.”

“so, how did they get in touch with you?”

“it’s a funny thing, mom. see, i actually have this web page. on the internet. and, um, i write there. and, someone read my stuff, and then there was the tiniest bit of shameless self-promotion and begging, and then, voila! the possibility of an opportunity!”

“a web page? so, other people read your writing?”

“yep. not a lot of people, really. i mean, a lot to me, but, compared to other people’s pages, not a lot, really, and, really, i think it’s amazing that anyone reads my stuff at all, i mean, i’d be glad if even, like, three people ever read anything i wrote, and…”

“stop it. you’re rambling. you’re not even making any sense. there’s something you’re not telling me. what is it…”

and then she did it.

she invoked the middle name.

now, when a mother invokes the middle name, there’s no turning back. there’s no weaseling out. she means business. and you’re going to fess up to whatever it is, mister man. the middle name has a mystical power. it’s not a thing to be taken lightly.

“well, um, i just…well, i should probably tell you that…i mean, it’s just that…well, it’s the stuff that i write.”

“what are you talking about ‘the stuff’ you write? are you writing some kind of porno? is this some sort of penthouse forum website or something?”

“no, it’s not like that. it’s just that it’s not fiction. it’s all true stories.”

“you mean, it’s true porno?! stuff you’ve really done?! like, sex stuff?!”

“mom! it’s not porno. it’s just non-fiction. and, i just wasn’t sure if you’d be upset by that.”

“upset? why would i be upset? i'm just surprised that you're writing non-fiction. wait a minute. what kind of true stories are you telling these people? give me an example of a story that you put up on your page that you think i might be upset about.”

“well…okay. remember that time grandpa died?”

“yes, honey, as a matter of fact, i do remember that one time grandpa died. now, quit stalling.”

“well, i wrote about how i spilled him in the volare and you swept him up in the dust buster.”

“holy shit! you did not write that! you did not tell anyone about that! total strangers know about that?! oh my god, oh my god. i can’t believe you told people about that!”

“well, if it’s any consolation, i think the story turned out rather well. it was well-received. quite a few people commented on it.”

“oh my god, so people did actually read it. our names aren’t anywhere on that page are they? you’re going to be in a world of trouble if our names are anywhere on there.”

i'm thinking that my mom must think that she can still ground me or something. or maybe she's just going to stop folding my underwear. that'll teach me. serve me right. or maybe she'll just fold all my towels the wrong way. still, i do feel kind of bad that she's not exactly excited that i made her, and her dust buster, internet-famous.

“so, you’re not really focused on the whole being-excited-about-my-writing-being-appreciated thing anymore, huh?”

“well, you’d better not have told them about the time i got bitten in the ass by that damn raccoon your dad brought home.”

“don’t worry, mom. your secret is safe with me.”

“well, okay. and, yes, honey, i am very very proud of you. i love you.”

“love you too, mom.”

“and you'd better not tell that story about the time your dad killed that bear out of season and put the head in the freezer in the garage, and didn’t tell me about any of it. and then the dnr enforcement officers came to the house one afternoon when your dad wasn't home and asked me about it and i swore he hadn’t killed a bear, because, you know, i didn’t know he had, and they asked to search our refrigerator and our freezer and i agreed, and then i took them out to the garage freezer and opened it up and there it was, a frozen bear head sitting right there on top of everything, just as plain as day. i thought i was going to kill you dad.”

“oh, god, mom, i wouldn’t dream of telling that one.”

“i really am proud of you, honey.”

“thanks, mom.”

"don't tell anyone about your uncle david, either."

"oh. well, we might be a bit late for that."

"goddammit, julia rené!"
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in keeping with my tag line...
it used to be that every time i saw gina gershon i had this mad desire to kiss her on the mouth. and, although she's still right up there, lately i have that feeling every time i see that gisele model chick in the victoria's secret ads. despite the fact that she used to kiss leonardo di caprio. i just think she's probably fun to kiss.

in addition, i hereby give notice that i am, officially, breaking it off with viggo mortensen. now, don't get the wrong idea...it's not that i'm throwing over viggo for gisele. i'm actually throwing him over for hugh grant. seriously. is it just me, or has hugh grant suddenly, like in the last two years or so, gotten all kissable and stuff. i mean, before, he was cute and all. but there was the british teeth thing. and the dalliance with the prostitute that sort of made you go, "oh. hmm. don't know about that." but, now...well, now it's all charm and self-deprecation and a much better haircut, and i'm thinking, "oh yeah."

of course, i could also totally imagine kissing that kid from y tu mama tambien, too.

also, god help me, i would totally kiss that firestone kid who's the current bachelor on that bachelor show. a lot.

fyi: the longer i'm not dating anyone, the more frequent these types of "man, i'd really like to kiss so-and-so" posts will be. my apologies in advance.


phone conversation with my friend, cw:

me: i was all set to fly down to atlanta and just show up at m's dinner party and surprise you guys, but then i realized that it's this saturday, which is the day before easter, so that hosed that.

cw: bummer. i hate it when religious holidays interfere with social gatherings.

me: me, too. i mean, way to rise again on the third day and screw up my plans to fly down to atlanta and surprise my friends. nice job with that.

cw: absolutely. you'd think they would have planned better. you know, that they would have seen that type of scheduling conflict coming.

me: no doubt. i mean, so much for all that omniscient stuff. omniscient my ass.

cw: omniscient my ass, indeed. i think that's the quote of the conversation right there, by the way. "omniscient my ass." nicely done.

me: thanks, man. i do what i can, you know?


synopsis of an email exchange with my friend, m:

m: you're this great combination of katharine hepburn and eleanor roosevelt.

me: that's cool. but, tell me that the eleanor roosevelt part has everything to do with my tenacity or my spirit or something, and nothing to do with the size of my ass or my shoes.

the fact that m's response addressed the shoe issue before the size of my ass issue is only forgiven because i was able to listen to jive talkin' followed by nights on broadway this morning via a cd he made for me with his own two hands.

the bee gees have the power to foster forgiveness that way. and, also, to foster the shaking of the groove thing.

plus, i totally wanted to kiss andy gibb. i mean, before he died. not so much after.

see: my apologies.
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if only schwab's was an internet cafe
consider this an open letter. to you. yeah, you. you know who you are.

random house.

simon & schuster.

the washington post, even.

i see you, you know. i see you come and read my stuff. of course, you usually only come on days when i've posted utter shite which makes me beat my head against my desk repeatedly chanting, "no, no, no...not today! come back tomorrow! read my archives!" aaahhhh...thud.

so, um, random house and simon & schuster and even you, washington post, i thought i'd reach out. make the first move. let's stop this coy business and cut to the chase: any time you're thinking, "man, it's too bad she already has a crap-ass unfulfilling job because i'd like to pay her alot of money to write something," stop thinking that. i mean, i'm sure you're trying to be considerate and all, thinking i probably love my crap-ass unfulfilling job, but, seriously, i would give it all up to come and work for you. and write stuff. or read stuff. or...stuff.

and i'm not alone!

my blog pals witt and wisdom and kazoofus have seen you, too. and, i don't think i'm speaking out of turn when i assure you that, they too would give up their crap-ass unfulfilling jobs if you would pay them to write stuff! there's a whole bunch of us, just waiting for you to make the first move. a whole internet full of blogging lana turners, just sitting at the schwab's soda counter, waiting for you to stumble in and "discover" us!

oh, i know, i know. you get dozens of would-be writers who send you their work every day. they're working hard, they're trying to make something happen, and, here i am, doing pretty much nothing in the way of actually pursuing a writing career. but, come on -- isn't the whole "i was just sitting there blogging when she 'discovered' me" thing much more magical? plus, in addition to being magical, it's much less work for me, so i'm all for the whole magical discovery approach.

anyway, this could be a real win-win. i don't know of a single blogger who's been "discovered" yet! so...this is a great opportunity for you, random house, simon & schuster and washington post! you could be the very first on your block to "discover" a blogger! pluck one of us from obscurity! make us a household name! you'd get great publicity, plus you would have the satisfaction of knowing you made some blogger's dream come true. and, perhaps more importantly, you'd make an assload of money. i mean, the other 999,999 bloggers out there would definitely buy a copy of the book so they could read it and say, "that was total ass! if that loser got discovered, then i'll definitely get discovered!" plus, you could crank out some how-to guide, like, "how to write a blog and get discovered" which would also make money.


this is big. huge, even.

i'm just sayin'. you might want to think about it.
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sotto voce

ed. note: thanks to all who commented on this post. i needed to write it, and so i did. and now i feel that i need to remove it. and so i have. thanks again for all of your feedback. this post was important and special to me, and i thank all of you for having allowed me to share it with you.
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but, first...
yes, i've finished the "what i've been trying not to say" post. and i know at least two of you are all tingly with excitement, breathless with anticipation to read it. but, let me just clear up one thing before we all get carried away: matthew perry does not appear anywhere in the post.


furthermore, i'm not posting it today. i would have, but i have the matter of a promise to keep first.

a few days ago, the ever-awesome vectorgirl started an online collaborative novel. she wrote the first installment, and then passed the torch on to another blogger, who then passed it on to me, and i'll then pass it on to another blogger, etc. sort of like those shampoo commercials where they say, "and she told one friend, and she told one friend." at any rate, it's been a good stretch to try and shake loose the cobwebs of writer's block for me. fiction isn't my bag at all, so this was a nice change. plus, it's a great way to pimp my site and pimp the sites of other folks, too.

so, to read part one, please visit vectorgirl and read her april 8th entry.

part two comes courtesy of my yes-i-really-know-him-in-real-life-and-i-swear-he's-not-blue friend cw in his april 9th entry. and that direct link seems to be all screwed up, so you might need to scroll. i blame it on blogger.

and, now, part three:

paige stops in mid-sentence.

she picks up the pack of marlboro reds that eddie left behind. she used to smoke. she loved the taste of cigarettes. the feel of a cigarette in her hand. but, eddie had told her it was trashy for a woman to smoke. his mother had taught him so. and, certainly, she wasn’t trashy. so her smoking stopped.

she grabs a cigarette and lights it. she takes her time inhaling, feeling the familiar burn in her lungs, closing her eyes.


she exhales slowly.

“listen, tracy, let’s cut the bullshit. you know it’s me, and i know it’s you. and you and probably everybody else in this godforsaken one-horse town already knows that eddie beat the shit out of me again last night. and i don’t need to give you directions to my boyfriend’s brother’s house because you live two blocks up the street from him and he was the first boy who ever felt you up, so how about we drop the act and you just ask my brother to go by rob’s house after his shift is over tonight and talk to eddie? i don’t want him arrested, i just want him to know that it would be best if he didn’t show up here for a day or two. just long enough for me to clear out, okay?”

“i never let robbie caldwell feel me up. he just told people that.”

the second drag is even better than the first. paige decides quickly that she will finish the pack, along with the rest of the tequila that put her to bed last night.

“i saw you, tracy. it was ninth grade. under the bleachers. during the homecoming game. now, will you please give my brother the message?”


“thank you.”

“so, did he give you another black eye?”

“thank you, tracy.”

she hangs up the phone.

sometimes she hates living in a small town. the way everyone knows her business. the way everyone knows her name.

then again, living in a small town does have its occasional advantages. such as having a brother who is the chief of police and being able to ask him to go talk to your boyfriend and unofficially officially suggest that he stay away from you.

the story on eddie caldwell was that he was the prodigal son returned home. he’d left the small town of his youth in search of success in the world of writing. a few of his short stories had found their way into literary magazines, and, for a time, he was heralded as the next big thing. but the promise never materialized and he’d come back to teach at the local college. paige still remembers the first time she ever saw him. she walked into her creative writing class, and he was standing behind the lectern, idly thumbing through papers. something about him took her breath away. if she closes her eyes, she can still see him, every detail burned into her mind.

to paige he had seemed so wordly. so eloquent. as his student, she had hung on his every word of encouragement, eager to improve in an effort to win his attention. later, as his lover, she had been equally eager to please him, and it was in this way that she postponed her dreams of moving to the west coast to pursue the life of a writer. eddie convinced her to stay here with him. he would help her hone her writing while he taught at the college and worked on his great american novel at night. together, they would take the writing world by storm. but he couldn’t do it without her there, he said. she was his muse.

that was five years ago.

she had graduated and gone to work part-time at the college library. she still dreamed of writing, but now it was something she did only on occasion, or in secret. once she was no longer a student, eddie’s words of encouragement had become increasingly rare.

“do you really think this is good enough to get published? i mean, paige…this is sentimental treacle.”

her face had burned hot. her writing was personal. a part of her. as a writer himself, he should know that. it stung to hear him be so dismissive.

"‘sentimental treacle’ is redundant. strive for economy in your words. less is more. you taught me that.” she retorted.

he lowered the newspaper and levelled his eyes at her.

"it's strictly amateur hour stuff, paige. i see better from my freshmen. it's an insult that you would even waste my time and ask me to read it."

“amateur hour? well, that ought to qualify me to teach at a small college, right?"

the slap was sharp and fast across her face. at first she didn’t realize what had happened. it seemed unreal. inconceivable.

“paige, you know i have a temper. it’s not fair to provoke me like that and not expect a reaction,” he said. his voice was quiet and steady and calm as he reached for his cigarette. he took a drag and continued reading the morning paper.

her hand rests on her cheekbone as the memory of that day fades away. standing here now, it seems a million years ago. a thousand slaps. a hundred black eyes.

she knows this will be hard. that it will hurt. that she might get weak and go back to him like she has before. but she just keeps telling herself that her life will be a better place without him in it. she's done her time. let him beat on someone else.

as she lights the next cigarette, she remembers an old adage her grandfather used to tell her. something about not taking any wooden nickels. she wonders if it isn't just as bad to pass along a wooden nickel as it is to take one.

after all, if her life will be better without eddie caldwell, wouldn't everyone else's?


if you'd like to participate in the collaborative novel project, leave a note in the comments section, or contact vectorgirl directly. you can check out part four courtesy of lex.
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just a little bloglet
first up, because a few of you asked, the answers i gave to the question cw asked: what are your five favorite songs?

these answers, of course, include some caveats. first off, limiting it to five is just too hard. second, my list changes as often as...as often as...damn this writer's block! anyway, it's often.

but, as of the moment i posted my response to cw, this was my list. feel free to post your own.

fever by peggy lee: because i like to lip synch to it and pretend i'm all ann-margret and shit.

crazy by patsy cline: because if i had to slow dance with a boy to only one song for the rest of my life, this would be it.

tiny dancer by elton john: because it really is the best sing-along-road-trip song ever, just like in almost famous . plus, for some reason, it makes me cry. in a freakishly good way. shut. up.

ain't no sunshine by bill withers: because you feel it in your toes. this song is my favorite way to kill 122 seconds.

32 flavors by ani difranco: because it's my theme song. it had to go on my list. even though i really thought about adding a stone temple pilots song. or a robbie robertson tune. or chill out by carlos santana & john lee hooker. or even that counting crows song, anna begins, because it has that lyric that says "every time she sneezes, i believe it's love" because that is some goddamn fine writing, and that's just one more reason to hate adam duritz -- so there's that, plus his silly hair, plus his whiny voice, plus his "i'm such an artist" attitude, plus he hooked up with someone from the cast of friends and you didn't. [ed. note: notice i said you didn't. how ambiguous is that?] anyway, i just said screw it and went with ani instead.

on another note, i wanted to say thanks to everyone who has written supportive and encouraging comments and emails to try and help me shake my writer's block. i want to especially thank leo.

leo posted a comment sharing something he had seen on another blog. he posted, "leslie starts by saying: 'i’ve always believed when the writing wasn’t coming, the question to ask yourself was 'what am I trying not to say?' and to write exactly that."

leo, my internet friend, that was a gift.

the truth is that this is exactly why i've been jammed up. there is something i've been trying very very hard not to say. and i'm at a point where i can no longer not say it. and that's blocked me up.

so, last night, i started. and, although i'm usually a write-for-60-minutes-and-post-whatever-you've-got kind of girl, i need a little time to get this one just right. i've never felt any pressure to get things "right" in order to please you guys, so it's not that i feel any pressure about that aspect of it at all. it's about getting this one right for me. so i'll be free of it. so i can move on.

so, thanks again, leo. it was an epiphany for me, and i am very, very grateful.

tomorrow i post it. and i'm free.
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20 minutes and counting…
i have 20 minutes.

20 minutes to get something down.


that’s how you do it.

at least that’s what they say.

just put something down.


whatever comes to mind.

that’s how you do it.

how you get the monkey off your back.

how you push through the block.

how you get yourself used to it again.


now i have 18 minutes.

i could write about my conversation with m last night. about how i told him that i don’t like basketball because i was always creeped out by the nylon nut-hugger hot pants that the players wore for so long. he assures me they are but a memory. but it’s a memory i’ll never shake.

plus, i just don’t like basketball. so there’s that.

“you mean you don’t play the brackets?!” he asked in wonderment.

i can only assume this is some hip slang lingo that the kids nowadays use when talking about placing bets on the ncaa tournament. which i hear is wrapping up. or just wrapped up. or whatever.

“no, i don’t…play the brackets.”

“but why not?”

m,” i say, “do i drink beer?”


“and, do you know why i don’t drink beer?”

“because…because you didn’t want to fall into the cliché of some college kid guzzling beer, because you were too hip for that, and so you decided to drink wine instead?”

i realize that i must come off as even more pretentious than my worst fears. and that’s pretty pretentious for those of you wondering.

“um, no. i don’t drink beer because i don’t like beer.”

“you mean you’ve actually tried beer and you don’t like it?”

“of course i’ve tried beer. i’ve tried all flavors of beer. lots of times. the only kind i ever really liked was a framboise lambic.”

and then i think that maybe i am more pretentious than my worst fears. i mean, a framboise lambic? it doesn’t get much higher on the pretentious scale than that one. although they really are very good. they’re what people used to drink in western europe before someone invented sun country wine coolers in two-liter bottles. only they’re way better than sun country wine coolers. except the part where they don’t come in two-liter bottles. that would definitely make them better.

i also drank guiness at one time. but that had everything to do with an irish boy with very kissable lips and not much at all to do with the guiness itself.

at any rate, i explained to m that i don’t like basketball, so i don’t play the brackets, and i don’t like to think about grown-ass men running around in nylon nut-hugger hot pants.

then i told him the bit about how i was flipping through channels and stopped to get a war update and that hota kotb chick was on msnbc and i’m staring at her name and all i can think of is that it looks like the jumble puzzle in the sunday paper and how i’m just sure that, if i focused, i could rearrange those letters so they would actually spell something, but then almost immediately i realize that i probably couldn’t because, really, there’s not a lot there to work with.

then i talked about how our friend, c, has asked his blog audience to submit their five favorite songs of all-time, and how that’s practically impossible for me to do, because my list changes all the time. plus, there are songs that i love that suck a lot, and i know that they suck, and i actually agree that they suck, but i just like them for a piece of their lyric or something equally small, and how can you explain that to someone? like, there’s a matchbox 20 song that i love, but just because of the lyric. i mean, it’s one of those lame story-songs, about this chick who locks up the brakes and puts her man out of the car on the side of the road because it’s over. and, really, a song like that should never even be considered for a top five list. but there’s this great lyric in it that goes something like, “while you were sleeping, i was listening to the radio and wondering what you were dreaming when it came to mind that i didn’t care.” and i think, man…that kicks ass. that sums it up right there. i wish i could distill things down like that. but then you have to stop yourself and say, “dude, i cannot put a matchbox 20 song on my top five list. especially a story-song. not for a piece of a lyric. i mean, you only have five slots. is that the way you want to go with that?”

and then i thought, “you know…this is exactly the kind of stuff i used to write about. i think i might try and write tomorrow.”

and so, now…i have five minutes.

and i think that, maybe…it’s close.

it’s almost gone.

it’s breaking loose.

one more day.

just one more.

and the words will come.
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adaptation redux
[with apologies to charlie kaufman. and to donald kaufman, his rabid cat.]
“so, what gives?”

excuse me?

“i said, ‘what gives?’ days go by. no new posts.”

no juice.

“ah, writer’s block, eh?”

well, yeah. obviously. but also, no juice. that is to say, i’m out of grape juice. i was just noting that i’m out of grape juice. need to pick some up.

“right. but, let’s focus on the writer’s block. talk to me.”

what’s to talk? i’m blocked. jammed up. got nothing. empty. first i think i have no ideas. that i’ve already told every story i have. then, suddenly, i remember something. a story i haven’t told yet. then i sit down, and…i got nothing. nothing comes.


okay, well sometimes something comes. but it’s not much. a sentence or two. maybe even a paragraph. then…it’s gone. or, i knock out a good chunk of it, then i look at it and it sucks.

“hasn’t stopped you from posting in the past.”

nice. that was a cheap shot. not entirely inaccurate, but, cheap, nonetheless.

“well, let’s be honest: you haven’t been posting your best work lately.”

hey, save it for the comments, pal. i’m just a girl doing the best she can. i’m buried at work. i’m stressed at home. and, i’m not sure if you’re aware of this, mr. smarty pants, but it’s not like this pays the bills.

“my, my. someone’s a bit testy.”

what was your first clue?

“how about you posting this contrived conversation with an imaginary cat.”

well, you’re not just any imaginary cat. you’re an imaginary cat symbolic of the burden of unshakeable writer’s block. of the internal dialogue that i’m having with my frustrated writer-self. by the way, you have a little something there…on the corner of your mouth….

“ah, yes. spittle. it's to be expected. after all, i am a rabid cat. that was the bit, right? you know, the bit in the comment? the one that said not even a hundred rabid cats could keep you from posting. that is the inspiration, for lack of any more applicable word, for this, correct?”

it was a thousand rabid cats. but, yeah, that’s what started all this.

“well, then perhaps i should officially introduce myself: i’m one-thousand-and-one.”

think they get the bit now?

“probably not. you’re being a bit pretentious and more than a little abstruse. perhaps you should summarize.”

abstruse? well, aren’t we the entomologist? fine…recently, greg

“excuse me. it’s etymologist. not entomologist.”


“entomologists study bugs. etymologists study words. i think you meant etymologist."

look, whose contrived imaginary conversation with a fake rabid cat symbolizing my writer's block is this? anyway, as i was saying…greg posted a comment saying "i suspect a thousand rabid cats couldn't keep julia from blogging." so, you’re one thousand and one. so, that’s why i can’t post. why i'm blocked. why i'm jammed up. it's you. it’s one thousand and one rabid cats. you're keeping me from posting.


don't condescend to me.

“i was just trying to help. you know, offer a little encouragement and such. talk over the sound of crickets in the distance. it's definitely not in my best interest, but i have to ask: is this really the best you can do?”

apparently, it is. right now, anyway. so, you’ll excuse me, won’t you? i’m going to go back to hanging upside-down off the couch, letting blood rush to my head until it feels like it’s swollen up to the size of a watermelon, watching married by america, waiting for inspiration to strike.

“maybe i can toss a few ideas out for you.”

i thought you were supposed to represent writer’s block. but, hey, if you’d rather be a muse, then be my guest.

“okay. what about the night that you ended up in a gay bar on leather night with a bunch of middle-aged bank employees who had no idea that’s where you were taking them?”

thought of it. tried it. can’t get the dénouement to work.

“let’s watch our pretentious french vocabulary, shall we?”

ha ha.

“okay, what about your experiences in the camp fire girls? that was some hilarity. good clean fun, no need to invoke profanities…”

really, let’s not even start on that.

“…colorful characters. i’d say that one is a winner.”

i agree. trouble is, it’s voluminous. i drafted it yesterday. it’s huge. can’t focus long enough to edit it. just not workable right now.

“okay, okay. how about that trip to las vegas where you played blackjack with matthew perry, and explained to him that he was on your ‘famous people i’m allowed to have sex with if i ever meet them in person’ list, and then, two months later, that episode of friends came out about the ‘famous people i’m allowed to have sex with if i ever meet them in person’ list and all of your friends are convinced to this day that you were the inspiration for that, and were, clearly, robbed?”

no one would believe it.

“no one believes most of what you write anyway.”

was that meant to be helpful?



“how about another old boyfriend story? you can never tell too many old boyfriend stories.”

is that the kind of stuff you imaginary rabid cats say to one another: ‘you can never tell too many old boyfriend stories’?



“really, you’ve got to wrap this up. i’d love to stay and chat, but i’m supposed to be perched on jonathan franzen’s chest right now, taunting him about how he’ll never write anything even remotely as good as the corrections.”

well then, by all means...scat.
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