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Saturday, May 1, 2010


This is my official notice to you, the Public, that I've just birthed the concept that will bankroll any future decades drooling in a convalescent home. I present to you the TA'CONE: a fast food delicacy with the shape and texture of an ice cream cone, but consisting of a crispy fried yellow corn tortilla filled with customizable scoops of such gooey sensations as beans, beef, salsa, guacamole, orange-colored cheese shreds, and sour cream. Mexican/Arctic fusion, yet 100% All American.

To the legions of corporate strategists grasping for new combinations of the same sixteen ingredients that will fatten both the populace and your pocketbooks as quickly and efficiently as possible: eat your hearts out. I thought of this first.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Security man

If you worked for the Department of Homeland Security, would you walk around wearing all black, with a walkie talkie strapped to your belt, and the logo of the Department of Homeland Security silk-screened in silver on your ball cap, your lapel, your jacket sleeve, and the back of your jacket? When I ask you how's it going, would you reply "Long as things stay quiet tonight, fine"? Is it the Department's strategy to recruit out of shape and slightly overweight people to mosey through their days dressed like a SWAT team, thereby hoodwinking ever-watching enemies into believing that the Homeland is barren of truly scary defenders? Or would this be an impostor, perhaps a white-supremacist militia member, patrolling a grocery store in Montana where almost everyone's white anyway... I want to know, but this is a story I'm not writing. It's one with only empty space where the next words should be.


The first second a person looks at me, there is an instant of honesty before the curtains draw. I see a woman who is sick of life. I see a guy who is ready to fight with his buddy. The girl in a track suit wishes the cake were hers and not the salad. The soul of the staggering man writes novels but can't maneuver a notebook close enough to spill them into. Then the faces register a spectator, the fabric drops over and the polite smile, the harried endurance, are screened over its thick folds.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I call the university to ask about proving state residency and they direct me to a form on the registrar's website. I go to the registrar's office to pick up a copy but am informed it is available only online. I return home to print it but my printer is out of toner. I go to the library and print the form there. I fill in the form but don't understand some of the questions. I call the registrar's office but they are not open so I leave a message but never get a call back. I call again when they are open and the person who answers transfers me to the woman who handles residency applications. The call goes to voicemail, where her message instructs all students with questions about residency applications to send an email and allow five days for a reply. I send an email with four questions and wait ten days but there is no reply. I go back to the registrar's office and the man there answers some of my questions. When he reaches a question he cannot answer, he directs me to the real registrar's office, the existence of which I was unaware. Until now I had been visiting only an outpost of the real office. I go to the real office and discover that the woman who handles residency applications has a desk there, and office hours, and that, voicemail message to the contrary, the best way to get a question answered about residency is to visit her in person. Her office hours are happening now, but she is with another student and I must leave for work. I return another day and sit with her, and she answers more of my questions. Then she discovers that I am not currently attending class, that I intend to start in the fall. "Oh," she says, "then this is the wrong application for you. You need to go to the admissions office and use their application, because you are still an incoming student." She gives me the name and number of the woman in admissions who handles residency. I leave her office, almost toss the old application into a recycling bin, and go to the admissions office. The woman is at lunch. But it is fortunate that I kept the old application, because it is identical to the new application, save one page. I kneel at the desk and fill out the one page then and there, heedless of the offer of a chair in which to sit while I do so. I reluctantly entrust the paperwork to the receptionist to put into my file for safekeeping until within thirty days of my one-year anniversary of state residency, at which point I will return and officially submit my application to the woman currently at lunch and pray that the receptionist actually saved and correctly filed the copies of my taxes, driver's license, voter registration card, lease, and vehicle registration, which I had collected and copied and had notarized from various offices around the city.

Multiply this by federal taxes, by Montana taxes, by Georgia taxes, and by several other mundane and kafkaesque matters of paperwork that have entered my life. I awaken at 5:38 am to write a blog about it and the server nearly resets my entry to a blank screen when I attempt to publish the paragraph.

And I wonder where my time has gone.

Monday, March 29, 2010


It crawls over the horizon, sending promising filaments of white into the mountain pines at high altitude, then cedes to an hour of unforecast but familiar sun, which blasts cheerily into the valley. It makes happiness, of course, but buds and roots hunger for the gray edge in the west. Then the wind whips up and the temperature drops off, and the cloud pulls down over the peaks again, rushes down until the mountain is invisible, white only, and the air in the valley crackles with change. People lean into the wind. They walk faster, shop faster. The pace of business quickens as those in the store hurry to finish their missions of resupply, but few new customers come through the doors. Those who do dart through the aisles, hastily plucking three or four things to get them through the short term.

By the time it arrives, the rain finds an empty canvas in the parking lot. It spatters it with tiny uniform dots, testing, testing, then with medium ones, then large, now covers it completely, along with every surface under the sky, the whole valley subject to its brush, then its sponge, then its roller. For the first time in months rain falls in steady constancy, layer upon layer, filling every opening, crowding out air and loosing a smell of freshness, rebirth, ozone, energy, spring. Gravity pulls the rain to earth yet faster, as if water needs encouragement to sink, to penetrate, to fill every gap in concrete, dirt, or skin. The workers idle and watch it come, no longer workers but rainwatchers every one.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


It has been a drought, reading only for information, clicking staring at the Latest Headlines tab from the BBC online, ticking off joyless strips on comics pages under bowls of soup consumed in short breaks in small rooms, reading self-improvement tomes and taking notes, wheedling a stubborn brain to shake free a little insight. There have been instruction manuals, cookbooks and guides to filling out the necessary forms. While striding in place on an elliptical trainer, a parade of vacuous magazines offer cliches and one-page profiles of success-oriented individuals. It's wise to sanitize afterward. A fat book of philosophy by the bedside, excellent but dense as a brick, provides three or four sentences of bushwhacking each night, then the forager falls off the cliff into sleep.

Then a book on the table. Left by a visitor for someone else to read, but after driving home through the rain and eating a long chain of crackers and peanut butter and falling into the couch while the intended someone else programs a computer, the book is there. Opened randomly in the middle, picked up and entered. And it's like diving into the ocean. Doesn't matter which story, which of the seven basic plots, only that it engulfs, eclipses, and one plunges in. Time is gone, and task, and the pages devour the reader and the reader the pages, waves of narrative and motif breaking over not only the brain but the being. Several hours later, much later than advisable for tomorrow's mood, spent but unfinished, rising from the trance, a slumbering thirst has been awakened and for the moment fulfilled. A tired joy endures, of existence beyond what's seen and merely informed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Parting cloud

A wing unrolled from the cloud. The cloud continued its eastward drift, but its appendage did not. It stretched away from its source, angling toward nothing. The netting of water drops connecting cloud annex to cloud central thinned languidly, strands releasing and parting. The whiteness of connection disappeared bit by bit, though nothing changed: the water, still all there, the wind, still moving, the weight of the air, the sun striking it, the land below. And like that, the wing was off, and then it melted out of visibility entirely. Gone but there; there but gone. And the cloud itself unravelled into sky over the next while, so slowly that it would not be measured in time, only perhaps recorded in an unwritten book of events that are sure to happen nearly unnoticed for no particular reason in a way that changes nothing although afterwards, a very full emptiness drifts on.