Thursday, February 4, 2016





--COME HERE.  CLOSER.  CLOSER.  THERE.



                                                            Ragamuffin Love


            “Don’t you think that’s a great lyric?” Yancey asked.
            “What?”
            “’We were always one argument from death.’”  Yancey says, crouched down near the stereo, amped up as usual.  “I mean, it’s like the summation of our entire fucking relationship.”
            “Why do you swear so much?” Mia asked.
            “Why do you sound like my fucking mother?” Yancey shot back, grinning.
            “Why do you smell like my dead grandfather who probably has maggots eating maggots out of his eye sockets?”
            “You’re wicked sick.”
            “Sometimes I just want to cut you open.”
            “God, I love you.”

            This was how it went, how it was, their modern romance.
            Then one morning Mia was struck by a cab on forty-second street.  It didn’t kill her but she became a paraplegic.  She spent a short life in that wheel chair.  She had been skinny before--a model wannabe.  Now she had guns for arms.
            “Fuck you’re hot.  You’re fucking smoking hot,” Yancey told her.
            “You like cripples?”
            “I fucking love them.”
            “Why do you swear so much?  It impugns your intelligence.”
            “Ah, come on; don’t fuck with me when I’m weak with all this motherfucking love for you.”

            They got married on December 25th.  It wasn’t a stab at Christianity, not that the pair were believers.  They were just too frightened and too lazy to commit.  No, they picked that date for unsound romantic reasons.
            “No one gets fucking married then.”
            “That should tell us something,” Mia said.
            “It’s ours, ours alone.”
“If we could’ve had a kid we would have named him Jesus, you know, using the Hispanic pronunciation, although we’d understand, you and I would, the significance.”
“Are you a fucking Christian?”
“Stop cursing.”
“I fucking love you.”

Mia’s first modeling gig had been both a train wreck and a revelation.  She’d got down to ninety-seven pounds.  She was so weak and so frightened that she cried the entire length of the cat walk, all three runs.
She was certain she’d be fired, but oh contraire, the crowd loved it, her, the crying girl, shrouded in mystery.  People wondered why she was sobbing.  Weren’t all New York models millionaires with their own drug runners?  Did she ingest a bad batch of horse or what, what was the reason for the tears?

“Do you ever dream about me normal?”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“I’m being serious.  Don’t you ever wish I could walk?”
“Are you kidding?  I lust after your withered limbs.  I love them.  I fucking love all of you, especially the wilted parts.”
Mia stroked Yancey’s head and his beard which was coarse but oily, with flecks of bread crumbs and bright elementary school colors she figured out were Fruit Loop flakes.

At the funeral Yancey howled and frightened family members moved away, making a shooing motion as they did. 
The pastor walked over to him.  “Son,” he said.
“You don’t get it,” Yancey said, “I fucking loved her.”

A day later the concerned pastor came to visit. 
“I can’t do this,” Yancey said.
The pastor asked for clarification.
“Life, without Mia.  I can’t fucking live without her.”
The pastor took Yancey’s hand and, against his cheek, tears streamed down.  “There can be victory in death--”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
 “--so long as you teach us.”
“What?”
“How to love like that.”

           


Wednesday, February 3, 2016



--I’D RATHER BE WITH YOU



                                                            Family Meeting


            THEN
            We knew something was wrong because our sister wasn’t there.  Ray and Davey looked at me like a pair of frightened dogs, their eyes jumpy and evasive.  Each had their fingers clasped and held between their thighs to keep them from shaking.  I was the oldest and they expected me to have answers.
            I shrugged, but the fact was my cheek twitched.
            The table shone glossy, waxy-looking, something you’d see at a diner, yellow from use with ribbed aluminum railing for edges.  I studied my reflection because I was too nervous to face Mother.
            “Here he is now,” she said, clearing her throat.  In recent months she had taken to coughing often, hawking up stuff she spat into a hankie hidden in her lap.
            My father was still in uniform.  He’d come directly from the station.  No matter how many times I’d seen him dressed that way, it always thrilled me, same as a The Mad Hatter ride at the fairgrounds.  He’d told me plenty of times not to stare at his gun, yet my eyes always disobeyed before my brain could set them straight.
There was something new in his comportment, a heaviness, worry or regret staking claim and taking root right there in his grizzled mug. 
He lit a Marlboro, took a long drag and blew smoke at the hanging lamp all in what seemed a single maneuver.  “Here’s the thing,” he said, “I’ve had the day from hell.  I’m tired.  But your mother--your mother and I, we called this meeting because something of hers was missing and she found it, found them, the articles in a place they shouldn’t have been.”
Davey squinted at me as if I was the sun.  Ray bit his bottom lip.  They were good kids, a bit directionless, but not thieves.
“So who knows what I’m talking about?  Who’s the culprit?”
“You might need to be more explicit,” Mother said, her voice warm but brittle.
“The person that did it knows what I’m talking about.”  Somehow Dad had finished the cigarette and was onto his next.  “Come on, let’s get with the program here.  I’m not a detective.”  He wasn’t but I knew he wished he was.  He thought riding around in a squad car boring.  He’d once confessed that most of his time was spent writing speeding tickets.  “I haven’t got all goddamn night!” he said, slamming his fist so that one of the daffodils broke its spine and toppled from the vase onto the table, flinging water driblets against my cheek.
“Daryl,” my mother said.  Her voice was enough to calm him these days.  There’d been a time when nothing could, when he was as mean as a scorned bear and would take to beating anyone of us with his weekend rodeo-styled belt.
“Why isn’t Lilly here?” Ray said, convincing me further that his mouth was going to be the very thing that kept him from making it in the world.
“She’s not feeling well.”
“Nuh uh,” Ray said.  “She’s up in her room playing her dumb David Cassidy albums.”
“Ray,” I said aloud because I couldn’t get his attention otherwise.
“If this is a family meeting, she should be here too.  Maybe she took those things.  She--”
“Enough!” my father screamed.  He ran his thick-fingered hands across his face and tugged on his jowls.  “I’m sorry Linda,” he said.  “You just wouldn’t believe the day I had.”
Mother put her palm on top of his hand.  I watched her thumb work overtime, as if she were scraping glue off his knuckles.  “I found some of my intimates in the wreck room,” she said.
“What are intimates?” Ray asked.
“My matching bra and panty set, plus my good pair of black heels.”
“Why were you undressing downstairs?” Ray asked.
“She wasn’t, that’s the thing,” I said before I knew I had.
“And how do you know that?”
“Isn’t that why we’re having this meeting?” I said.  I knew how those raccoons felt now, once they stepped into the traps Dad had set and the metal doors slapped shut.
I looked him in the eye, taking in the creases of skin nearby and the wisp of cigarette smoke that flirted with his cornea.  He blinked and I knew.
“They had obviously been worn, used.  They’re not clean anymore, my panties,” mother said, dropping her head and speaking to the table top.  “We just want to know.  We’re a family and a family that keeps secrets is a family that’s doomed.”
“I ain’t gonna wear your underwear!” Ray said, emphatic.  “That’s sick.”
My father swallowed and withdrew a third cigarette.
“It was me,” I said.
Davey jerked and Ray slugged himself.
“I told you,” my father said to my mother.  His jaw was set.  He looked triumphant and defeated at the same time.
I followed the rug of smoke hugging the ceiling, fanning out like fog, breaking apart in tufts and then disappearing.


NOW
I was on-call, so Jean took the kids to her sister’s place in Seaside for the weekend.  I didn’t mind some space. 
When my cell rang, I figured it to be the hospital but it was him.  It took me a few moments to sort it out, the unfamiliar number on caller I.D. and the fact that he was bawling, not saying anything really, just raging into the receiver.
“Dad, Dad, what is it?”
I stared out the window at all of the lifeless greenery.  Our house sat in a cul-de-sac, yet these were acre estates and the Baker’s and Hahn’s never stepped foot outside. 
“I killed a man today.”
“Killed?”
“Shot him dead.  Three times.”
“At work?  I mean, on the job or what?”
“I haven’t ever killed anybody.”
He was never good with details.  “Dad, help me out.  What happened?”
“He wasn’t even a man; he was just a kid, a punk.”
“Dad?”
“I met his family.  His mother, she’s destroyed.”
I thought of my own mother, the swift moving cancer taking her away ruthlessly, horribly.
 “Was it in self-defense?  Dad, it was in self-defense wasn’t it?  In the line of duty?”
At The Evergreen Fair one year we watched a cow give birth.  Its bar soap tongue lolled out and she moaned so low and pained it seemed as if her calf were Satan clawing his way to life.  That’s how my father groaned into the phone, just like that show cow.  “You don’t know what it feels like.”
But I did.  I had lost patients in surgery, a few I shouldn’t have, and some that wanted it that way.
I listened to him mourn.  My only other option was to hang up, which I’d done a couple of times in the past when he was loaded and babbling.  I could tell he hadn’t had a drink yet tonight.  Though he was choking and crying, he words were too crisp.
“What’s a little fucker like that doing with a gun anyway?  Why do you need a gun if you’re just hot-wiring cars?  It doesn’t make sense.”
“A lot of things don’t make sense, Dad.”
“What’s that mean?  What’re you trying to say?”
“Nothing, I don’t know.  I was only responding.”
“Why don’t you ever call?  Why’s it always me that does?”
“I’m sorry.”
“I’ll bet you are.”
“Dad?”
“You grew up to be one mean son of a bitch, didn’t you?”
After I hung up I threw the phone at the window so hard that the glass cracked and a piece of metal casing bounced back and ripped a decent-sized chunk out of my cheek.
I was going to the hospital after all.

                                                            ***
I met him at Fred’s Tavern in Snohomish.  Mother loved that place because she was a beer drinker and they had every kind of ale God ever created.
I had to make myself promise I’d go.  Do you ever do that--talk to yourself, talk yourself into something even when you’re pretty certain it’s not going to be any good for you?  There was any number of excuses I could have invented, many legitimate.
“Hey, here he is, the golden boy,” my father said, rising at the same time as number six.  “I thought you were going to stiff me for a minute there.”
“Come on, Dad, really?”  He pounded my back harder than necessary.  During the hug, his whiskers bit my cheek skin near the fresh scar. 
“This is Roberta, Bobbie this is my son.”
She was black-haired like all the others, all except mother.  Her lips were too pulpy, as if they’d been injected.  But what I did was I studied her eyes, even to the point of making her uncomfortable.  After a moment I could tell she didn’t know.
We spoke small-talk and then nothing while we ate.  It was me that got drunk and when he offered to drive me home I was clear-headed enough to get a cab instead because I had lied about Jean being gone.
The next morning he found out anyway.  He waved at Jean when she dropped me off on First Street in front of Fred’s.  I wasn’t sure how long he’d been waiting.
“He looks so sad,” Jean said, trying not to move her lips.
“Don’t you go feeling sorry for him now.”
“Everyone deserves happiness Derek, everyone deserves to love and be loved.”
“You sound like my mother.”
“That actually makes me happy, you comparing me to her.”
I didn’t want to cry but I felt the press and sting on my eyes.
“Last thing?” she said, and I nodded.  “Usually love requires a sacrifice from one party or another.”
I ran my thumb across Jean’s eyebrow, wishing there was some way to tell her how much I loved her, how little my life would mean if she weren’t in it.  She’d had my back from day one and that much gave me peace.
I turned to go but she caught my arm, pulled me back.  A squeeze toy squeaked as she took my face in her hands and kissed me open-mouthed.  “It’s not his fault, you know.  What he does, it’s not as weird as you make it out to be.”
“Sure.”
“He needs his son.”
“He has two others.”
“But he lost you a long time ago.”
It was hard to breathe in the car and I kept thinking how I’d need to shower once I got to the hospital, but even before I did that I’d be catching shit from Sanders and that dick, Armstrong.
He didn’t look at me right away.  Something on the face of the windshield had his attention, a cluster of dead bugs maybe, or bird crap.  “I loved her, you know,” he said, his voice thick and metallic.
“I do know that.”
He reached his arm across the car seat.   It seemed as if the arm were moving independent of the rest of him.  His hand landed on my thigh.  For some reason it surprised me that it was warm.
“There’s something I have to,” he said, his voice breaking apart, too weak to hold the idea.
I pondered for a moment.  I talked to myself some more.  I said, Go.  Get the hell out of here.  Then I recalled Jean and I said before I could stop myself, “Go ahead.”
When he sighed, his breath fogged the window glass.  He wouldn’t face me, or maybe he couldn’t.
“Dad, go ahead.”
“I need to know.”  His voice shook sounding like bits of gravel under tire.
“What?”
“Do you?” he asked.
I knew what he was asking now.  I’d been waiting for the question most of my life and now that it was presented I feared my answer.
I thought about my brothers, my sister, Mother being gone, and the man beside me.  We were a unit, bound by blood if nothing else.
“If you don’t, then say you don’t,” he said.
Did I love him?  I wasn’t sure but I said I did anyway. 
Her burst out crying, shuddering against my shoulder.  I’d lied before when it mattered.  My wife’s comment about sacrifice came back to me.  I’d done my part, and for his sake and the sake of everyone involved, I’d do it again.
 


Monday, February 1, 2016

 
 
--LET US NOT SPEAK FALSELY NOW
 
…Hey Monday, let’s see what you got.  Bring it on.
 
“If you aren’t in over your head, you don’t know how tall you are.” T.S. Eliot
“Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name.” Jeffrey Eugenides
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill
“A remedy for writer’s block is being willing to stare at something longer than anyone else.” Raymond Carver
“If I hear you’re talking shit about me in your confessional interview, please know seven birds have fallen dead at me feet right out of the sky.” Morgan Parker
“I don't think there's any artist of any value who doesn't doubt what they're doing.” Francis Ford Coppola
 
"I dislike the phrase "Internet friends," because it implies that people you know online aren't really your friends, that somehow the friendship is less real or meaningful to you because it happens through Skype or text messages. The measure of a friendship is not its physicality but its significance. Good friendships, online or off, urge us toward empathy; they give us comfort and also pull us out of the prisons of ourselves."
Author: John Green
 
“I could be myself a reason.
I could sell myself a job.
I could hang myself on treason.
All the folks I know are gone.” Modest Mouse
 
The idea is not to live forever, but to create something that does.” Andy Warhol
 
“Today everyone is a star— they’re all billed as ‘starring’ or ‘also starring’. In my day, we earned that recognition.”
 
“No one sleeps in this room without the dreams of a common language.” Adrianne Reich
 
"I don't want nobody to give me nothing. Open up the door and I'll get it myself.” James Brown
"It had become imperative that I address my own conviction that I was vanishing."  Diane Williams
“Wanna fly?  Then you gotta give up the shit that’s weighing you down.” Toni Morrison
“Oh what we see when we finally stop looking.” Tyler Scott Gregson
“People don’t run out of dreams, they just run out of time.” Glenn Frey
“Poetry is a game of loser-take-all.” Jean-Luc Godard
“Find what you love and let it kill you.” Charles Bukowski
"A riot is the language of the unheard." Martin Luther King, Jr.
“One day, everyone who didn’t believe in you will everyone they know how they met you.” Johnny Depp
“The circle of an empty day is brutal and at night it tightens around your neck like a noose.”  Elena Ferrante
 
“Women are like teabags.  You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt


Friday, January 29, 2016

                                                        
--IN THE OTHER ROOM PEOPLE ARE LAUGHING.  PEOPLE ARE HAPPY. 



                                                               Sound of the Wind

            Mother tries to explain that it’s impossible to drown in shallow water unless you’re really trying. 
We don’t have a shower, just a tub and she tells me to stop running the Hot and to get out.  “I should start making you pay the water bill.”
I get up and tuck my breasts inside a blue towel that I’ve dried my hair with.  I check the mirror.  I’m not fat, not thin, not normal either.  I’m pale.  I’m nobody’s sister friend classmate or confidant.
In the main part of our trailer where we eat and watch TV and where the sink and fridge are, Mother’s boyfriend is hunched over the counter, smoking beside a tattered cloud that is coned under a low-hanging lampshade.  He arches his back when he sees me, windmilling his neck but not getting a crack.  He smells like fertilizer chemicals and manure.  The best thing about him is his hair because it’s almost all fallen out.
“Look at Lucy,” he says and chuffs, even though my name’s not Lucy. 
He grabs me by the waist and I wait to see what she’ll say but it’s okay with her, even when he props me on his lap.
Lester was Mother’s last one.  He was one hundred percent Cherokee with an Indian name that meant Sound of the wind.  He whittled me a miniature totem pole the size of a bat.  Lester knew some things about me, I guess, and so the totem ended up being a wooden diary of my life, or a charm bracelet that wasn’t meant to be worn.  Lester had black hair like a woman that ended just above his waist.  He could whistle with his fingers and send birds shooting out of the trees.  When he’d whistle with his tongue curled, the sparrows sang back.  Sound of the wind.  I wanted him to teach me and he said he would.
Lester used to call me Katydid instead of just Katy and I liked that nickname and I even liked Lester a lot but he’s gone now.
Boyfriend number twelve, or somewhere about that, is fingering the edge of my towel while he’s telling Mom about Rainey Walker who goes out to his backyard and shoots a cow every other day.  “You’d think those idiot animals would have it figured out by now and skedaddle.” 
But I know what those cows are thinking: There’s a fence.  Where’m I gonna run?  Might as well get this life done with and pray there’s another waiting over the mountain top.
“Say, Cheryl, would you mind running and getting me a pack of cigarettes, maybe another six pack?”
Mom’s eyes twitch for a half second.  “Sure thing,” she says. 
I know she’s thinking the opposite way of those cows: If I don’t fetch and jump and let the world turn on its own filthy self, this one’s leaving like all the others and I don’t want to be alone.  That’s exactly what she’s thinking, forgetting that she’d still have me.
When I step off, Mother’s boyfriend pinches the towel so it flaps open for a moment, revealing my lower half and the fact that I never shave.
I go down the narrow hall to the far room where I sleep.  My chest has a bird trapped in it, fluttering and banging. 
I hear Mom get in the car.  After the station wagon starts and drives away, the door knob turns.  I can tell he’s surprised that I haven’t locked it because there’s a little hesitation in the motion, and then it swings open, slick-like.
He tip-toes over, hunched atop the bed like a sick tree all sun-twisted from rot. 
When he starts to pull the cover back, I roundhouse him from behind.  I know the first blow has to count, and it does.  My totem pole cracks against his skull and breaks in two and he’s stunned but topples, landing belly up.  
I can’t take chances.  I’ve seen vampire movies before and I’ve lived one.
So, I take the broken half of the stick--jagged tip raised over my head--and then bring it down where this man’s heart would be if he had one.  I repeat the motion several times, ignoring he grotesque sounds and scene.
When I’m done, I’m out of breath and that bird’s back in my chest banging around.
I take a bath.  Run scalding hot water.
I sink below the surface, happy to be invisible, uncertain about where my life is headed now, but pleased that, for once, I was the one to make things happen.




Thursday, January 28, 2016



--EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE DISASTER 



                                                                   Boots

            I am wearing the same Fry boots I bought at age twenty-three, used boots then, used now.   Gary threw one at me when we were watching “American Idol” and he didn’t think I was paying attention.  The heel hit me square in the eye and now I have only one that works.  Sometimes I like it better that way.  The world’s not always a pretty picture.
            Even after that episode I stayed, lingered like an alley cat scared by vagrants and night sounds but still starving.  What I was famished for was love, even a facsimile of it, even a cruel torch masquerading as love, and so I stayed with Gary too many months and years until my family disowned me for my weakness, my lack of spine, as Dad said.
            A knife to the throat one evening in bed tipped things for me.  Gary liked it weird in bed—holding an unloaded Luger to my head as he took me doggy, a pair of used panties stretched across my face as he took me doggy, searing hot candle wax dripped down the back of my neck and across my shoulder blades as he took me doggy.
            The guy in the apartment above has been coming around when I go out to the patio to smoke.  He says I look too wounded to be alone.  He’s asked me out but I keep saying no.  He seems like good people and it’s a mistake for someone like me to pass up such an offer, but when you only have one seeing-eye your focus is always off.  You get clumsy.  You miss things.  The world is tilted.
            Today was the first day of school, and as usual I was nervous how the kids would react when they saw me because it always happens in one form or another.
            As we broke for recess, sweet little Fiona with her afro and Sues-striped socks up to her thighs pointed and asked if I was an ogre.  Kids are smarter than you think.  At any age, they are.  She was just being a child, curious, a seven year old with no will ill yet.
            When I laughed and raised my arms, making my hands into claws she started to whimper.  I felt like shit about that, and said, “No.  No.  I’m a human being.  I’m real.”
            I went to Group for a few years after leaving Gary.  People shared their stories.  Some of it was very hard to hear, some of it heart-crushing, some of it self-pity.  It took almost as much strength to stop going as it did to leave Gary because Group was the only place I felt safe, even though I knew feeling that way just made me weaker, less.
            One woman there had been burned with lit cigarettes on her face so many times that her skin was a rope of wedges melded into each other, like moon craters if moon craters were skin and not quite as deep.  People called her “The Thing” because she resembled a deformed comic book hero.
            When I phoned last night, for no reason other than I was thinking of her out of the blue, her sister answered and I found out about the suicide.  The pull of darkness and despair can get to a point where a quick end seems inevitable and there’s no alternative.  People who call suicide victims selfish don’t get it.  They’ve never been there.  Life is that much brighter for them.
            I look at my boots now, noticing a nail is coming through the left heel like a snaggletooth.  I hadn’t felt it when walking, hadn’t detected it at all until now, and I feel even more blind than I am, more stupid, sort of how a relationship can be lethal even when you’re in it and all the signs are right there, red flares screaming at you to run.
            When the kids clamber back into class, I stand up and write on the chalk board Something I want to teach you, then erase it and write Something I need to teach you is how to love the right way.
            Turning around, I see Fiona’s upraised hand.
            “Yes, Fiona?”
            “I already know that one.”
“You do?”
“Yeah.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yep.  My Daddy loves my Mom.  He calls her Baby and they hold hands when they watch TV.”
            I let myself smile.  “That’s good,” I say.  “Let’s start there.”


Tuesday, January 26, 2016



--NOTHING’S UNFAIR ANYMORE

…You’ve got to love Betty Davis, who said the following and sure didn’t like Joan Crawford, or anybody else for that matter:

“Why am I so good at playing bitches?  I think it’s because I’m not a bitch. Maybe that’s why [Joan Crawford] always plays ladies.”


“There was more good acting at Hollywood parties than ever appeared on the screen.”

“I will never be below the title.”

“The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

“I never did pal around with actresses. Their talk usually bored me to tears.”

“[referring to fourth husband, Gary Merrill] Gary was a macho man, but none of my husbands was ever man enough to become Mr. Bette Davis.”

“[on her greatest rival Joan Crawford] She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie.”

“[on Crawford] I wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire.”

“[commenting on the death of long-time nemesis Joan Crawford] You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

“[on Errol Flynn] He was just beautiful… Errol. He himself openly said, ‘I don’t know really anything about acting,’ and I admire his honesty because he’s absolutely right.”

“The male ego, with few exceptions, is elephantine to start with.”

“I am a woman meant for a man, but I never found a man who could compete.”

“I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.”

“I survived because I was tougher than anybody else.”

“[when Ed Sullivan offered Davis $10,000 to do an imitation of Tallulah Bankhead on television] Miss Bankhead isn’t well enough known nationally to warrant my imitating her.”

“The weak are the most treacherous of us all. They come to the strong and drain them. They are bottomless. They are insatiable. They are always parched and always bitter. They are everyone’s concern and like vampires they suck our life’s blood.”

“Old age is no place for sissies.”

“If everybody likes you, you’re pretty dull.”


“[during tension on the set of The Whales of August (1987) about her esteemed costar Lillian Gish] She ought to know about close-ups! Jesus, she was around when they invented them!”



Sunday, January 24, 2016



--EVERYTHING IS HALLOWED.  EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE YOU SMILE

…I was good at math.  For a quarter of a year I was.  In fifth grade.  The teacher thought one other girl and I were gifted in math and set us up on a regiment whereby we taught ourselves from a different curriculum.  With a few weeks, I was failing miserably and eventually returned to the same studies the rest of the class followed.  Since then, all these years later, I’ve thought of myself as bad at math, intimidated by equations and numbers.
But now I need numbers, or rather goals, thresholds, something to aim for and conquer.  It’s what keeps me focused, motivated and, well, going.
When I was running quite a bit it was only because I had planned a marathon.  Without a marathon in my future, I’d talk myself out of those early morning runs in the daylight-savings-time darkness, in the bitter cold.  But if I had a marathon slated, I had no choice.  I’d committed.  So it was drag my skinny ass out of bed and get to it.
Same goes now for writing.  Word count matters to me.  I know quantity is not a replacement for quality, but quantity does matter, and it keeps you honest, keeps your butt in the chair.
Same with getting published.  Someone once told me that I keep score too much, that it’s all about the numbers for me.  They said that cheekily, then retracted it once I probed for an explanation.  It was a slight, but it was also true.
I’m on the cusp of having 900 stories/poems published since I’ve been doing this writing thing full-time.  Does 900 matter to me?  Of course.  Am I shooting for 1000?  Absolutely.  By the end of this year, in fact.  It’s what keeps me popping out pieces, submitting even after multiple rejections.
For me, numbers are the whip, the lashes on my back, and I need that.

…I had a few things published last week:


and here on pages 79 and 81:
…and these were some things I thought were pretty funny on Facebook last week:

-I lost my company four million dollars today how is your day going?
-The guy next to me in line at CVS is buying Muscle Milk and condoms. I'm buying mini chocolate doughnuts. Seems right.
 -I hate it when I gain ten pounds for a role and then realize I’m not an actress.
 -A tampon so absorbent it prevents crying.
 -A wise woman once said, “Fuck this shit,” and lived happily ever after.
 -I was going to write a story about apathy but I couldn't be bothered.
 -One thing I love about my new job is how nonchalantly we discuss blowjobs, hemorrhoids and ghosts in meetings.
 -I've been clean now for coming up on 17 years. Know what I've learned? Clean and sober people are more full of shit than junkies. It's true, on average. Think about that.
 -Here I am chilling with Domino, a dog that goes to an Ivy League school.
 -D got all excited thinking I was playing with myself under my shirt, but I didn't want to disappoint him and tell him I was looking for the M & M I lost. I think I'll just torture him a little longer.