Friday, May 30, 2014



                                                               Baby, Baby, Baby

We are desperate, or I am.  Yes, it’s me.  I go to lengths.  I take my husband’s hollow silences and try to fill them with code but he snickers or re-fingers the remote.
I get masseuse lessons.  When I come home I say, “Do you want your neck worked on, you look stiff,” but he only whinnies at me.
I find hair in the sink.  Blonde.  Long.  He reminds me he is a custodian.  He sweeps the whole mall, even Cutter’s Salon.
            I buy plastic sheets and a vat of baby oil as one magazine recommends.  I dress in stilettoes and two pieces of string.  I lock the door and insert the key in a private place he’ll have to reach.  So, we slip and slide.  My eyes burn from splashes of oil.  One of us sweats a small lake.  When we are through, he showers, then slinks off to watch Sports Center.  In the morning I say, “You didn’t come back, why not?” and he tells me he thought I’d be sleeping.
            I say, “I’m going on a trip.”
He says, “Fine by me.  How long?”
            I say, “A while.”
            I land in the tropics.  It’s like a Malaysian fat farm but better.  I get liposuction.  I apply lip plumper.  I wax what’s never been waxed.  I get a cut and dye job, going red.  I bleach my teeth.  Buy a Pucci-print dress and Channel bag.  I get piercings below the neck.
            When I come home, my husband is all nerves, a jumping bowl of spaghetti.  His eyes jerk like pinballs.  When I ask if I should get the oil, grab the plastic sheet, he chuckles, tells me we don’t need it.  He keeps humming, “Baby, baby, baby.”
            I can’t get enough air.  He’s gained weight while I’ve been gone.  He smells like ammonia and has a forest of black nose hair I never noticed.  When we kiss I can feel canker sores in his mouth.
            He asks, “Round two?”  Then after that, “Ready for a hat trick?”
            He wants me.  All the time.  I tell him I need a break.  He says, no.  I complain, threaten to go back to the old me.  He says there’s no going back, calls me Baby, Baby, Baby.
            When he comes home from work the next night I can hear him panting.  He opens the bedroom door with a flourish.  “What the?”
            I’ve shaved my head.  I don’t have any makeup on.  I’m wearing my flannel pj’s with the poodles on them.  I’m eating my second tub of Ben and Jerry’s that’s given me a awful case of flatulence. 
            When he steps closer, I burp up a little cloud of Chunky Monkey.
Now it’s years later.  We’ve eaten dinner and dessert.  We’re sitting in a booth by the window.  My husband runs a toothpick through the gulley between his teeth.  He reads a magazine about tattoos and motorcycles.  I stare past my reflection in the glass at a young couple wrestling in the front seat.  I wonder if he calls her Baby.
            Inside the diner, there’s Muzak playing: “Here Comes the Sun.”  Oh, and there’s you and your girlfriend.  You look nice together, like a twin sweater set, yet you both look away.  Good thing I’ve still got my hearing. 
Your girlfriend whispers, “Can you believe it?  They haven’t even said one word the whole time.”
            You rip a hunk of meat from a gray slab of chicken, and let it wobble against your wrist.
            “I hope we never get like that when we get old.”
            “Here,” you say, flapping the greasy meat, “take a bite.”
            “That’s so gross.”

            “Come on.”  And then you do it, call her, Baby.  And she does it, too.  She eats the meat right off your fingers, says, “Sugar, you know I’d do anything for you.”

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


...I stayed up way too late.  When did one o’clock get to be too late?  Oh, yeah, after I got old.

…Would someone please stop Adam Sandler from making any more movies?  Really, just please stop.  His latest scored a 15% favorable rating from critics while fans gave it an A-.

.So here are more witticisms (I wish I was so witty) from Facebook friends over the lest many days:
 -Hottie in the next lane over.
Oh wait,
Baby seat.
I'm out.

-i got the skills
(what skills?)
to ignore the bills

-Dear Editor,
That was my bad. I read a few bits of your journal, saw that you only published complete bullshit, and submitted anyway.

-I like the idea of people either loosening or tightening their tinfoil hats.
-As I was bending over to put some of the groceries I'd purchased for my Mom in the cupboard at her place, she said, "YOU have a VERY sexy behind." I told her I was going to have to shop for her more often. Moms are fun.
-As I was leaving this morning, Eden said half asleep, "dad take pictures of cute puppies if you see them." Things kids think of at 2am
-Me: I don't like running out of coffee.
Student: Me, either. I hate it. I get really butt hurt.
Me (pause): I think you're drinking it wrong.
-Why is everyone texting me as though I am someone else? Yesterday, someone texted me and it said: Hello Suzanne, how is your father?
-listening to bone thugz & harmony in a church parking lot, feeling pretty spiritual
-Back in East L.A. where the ice-cream truck is spouting the sweet sounds of "Sexual Healing."
-I am so excited. I just had an invitation to "connect privately" with a woman named Bacon Joy. I kid you not. MY weekend is going well.
-forgot about hickeys until i saw a chick with her neck covered in hickeys, now can't stop thinking about hickeys.
-Jay: Would you eat human flesh if you were starving?
Me: Yep, I sure would.

Jay: Like me, if I was dead? Would you eat me?

Monday, May 26, 2014



                                                               Life is an Arboretum

Fronds are breaking through the sheets of ice on your face as your cellphone buzzes for the twelfth time during dinner.
You are a busy lady.  Important.  An attorney to boot.

Now you are also desired.  Someone wants to fuck you very badly.

            His name is Roland.  He doesn’t seem your type.  He’s short and stiff, a rigid robot monkey, as if his bones will not sway.  I’ve seen him walking.  It would be comical if he were someone I didn’t know.

            You punch the keyboard on your phone while your cheeks turn cotton candy pink.  Your eyes whirl like two drill bits doing hard work as your tongue actually sweeps over your lower lip, making it glisten.

            Happy times for you.

            My best friend is a dullard but a good listener.  He’s fond of platitudes.  “It takes two to tango,” he told me when I first shared what was happening. 

            Today he said, “It is what it is.”

            He said, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

            He said, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”

            He said, “I bet your dick is bigger.”

            He said, “At least you’re not homeless.”

            He said, “Things would be better if you were more positive.”

            This last one is what I focus on as gravy steams the underside of my chin, the dirt smell of shitake mushrooms slaking up my nostrils.  “I really like the way you’ve started doing your hair,” I say.  “It suits you.”

            Your eyes come up from the phone skittish, with you giggling.  “What was that?”

            “Your clients must be comedians,” I say, not feeling positive anymore.

            Your mouth twists while your nose turns into a hatchet made of flesh. 

You sigh and tell me, “Well, it’s just nice to be happy once in a while.”

            You sling darts like this all the time now because I am a blow-up clown made of thin plastic.  Air hisses out of my ears and pores.  I am leaking so much that my friend greeted me with, “Hey, Schecky, you get any skinnier, somebody’s going to make shoelaces out of you.”

            Here comes another text. 

Roland is feeling very randy. 

He wants to thrust those hard bones over you, into you, through you, and maybe that’s something you want because I see how your hair has become a garden replete with milk-white tulips, your earlobes fuchsia beets that have been gently plucked from the earth and rinsed with care, your dimpled chin a gleaming, yellow lemon rind.    

            Other (so-called) advice my friend gave me:

            “This is just a bump in the road.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

            “There is someone somewhere worse off than you.”

            “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

            With my fork, I break the moat I’ve made of my mash potatoes.  I watch the sludgy gray gravy pool over the rim of my plate.  The gravy become a stampeding river that washes across the dining room table, slides down the sides, onto the floor, some splattering on my pants.

            When you say, “You’re making a mess,” I don’t know whether to chuckle or scream.


            In bed, near midnight, I hear you slink off the mattress.  The bathroom light shoots a stripe across the bottom of the door.  It’s more texting, or maybe sexting, or perhaps a combination of both.

            I hear my friend’s voice again:

            “You don’t need people like that in your life.”

            “Life is short.”

            “Life is a bitch.”

            “Life is easy, comedy’s hard.”

            I watch the moon wink at me as clouds slog through a bruised-blue sky.  I rise, dress, and leave without closing the front door. 

I drive not knowing where I’m going.  I roll down the car windows.  The air smells like an arboretum, verdant and lush: a place where things grow or die, where they’re uprooted or left alone, a place with fertile soil that can be tilled and renewed.

I turn up the radio, singing as loud as I can, even though I don’t know the words.              


Friday, May 23, 2014


…I have been moving furniture for the last few days.  I would not want to be a professional mover.  I’d rather be in prison.

…So it’s a holiday weekend and I’ve got nothing on the books.  I always feel like a loser when people say, “What have you got planned for the holiday weekend,” and my answer is, “Well, nothing really.”

…I like food that is bad for me, but after eating it I always feel guilty.

…Deer are my favorite animals.  Two of them sauntered into the front yard facing the lake.  They loped around for a bit, then, without any effort whatsoever, leapt over the neighbor’s fence.

...Here are some things I like on a gray Friday:

“Unless you are remarkably successful, there will always come a moment when you have to ask yourself, ‘What’s the point?  What’s the point of doing this, of continuing?’  And at that moment, and each moment afterward, you have to have an answer bold enough to defeat every negative demon tugging at your sleeve.”

“God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers.“  Jewish proverb

“Whatever you do, you need courage.  Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to the end, requires some of the same courage which a soldier needs.  Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men to win them.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back.  That's real glory.  That's the essence of it.”  Vince Lombardi

“Why do we laugh?  If you believe Freud, it’s the same reason we dream: to satisfy unconscious desires that society usually forbids.” Louie CK

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Henry Ford

“Adversity is the trial of principle.  Without it, a man hardly knows whether he is honest or not.”  Henry Fielding
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”  Robert Frost

"A lot of people...when they're hurting, they turn hard and want to close themselves off and love less....but what about the people who open up even more...want to love even more than before? Those people interest me. Those are my favorite kind of people. God bless those people. That's the kinda person I want to be every day." --Leesa Cross-Smith

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, wracked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” Agatha Christie

“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.”  Harold B. Melchart

“As long as a person doesn't admit he is defeated, he is not defeated-- he's just a little behind and isn't through fighting.”  Darrell Royal

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


…Here are some poems I wrote for a journal whose theme was celebrity:

                                            Starlet of a Different Kind

My mother’s face on the screen

looms like a costume

as she handles one man after the other

art imitating life

one step up from prostitution

contrived passion screened and airbrushed.

Her fans love it.

None of them knows

she was a woman once

proud and educated

with two sons and a future.

Now she’s archived on the internet

cataloged under the heading MILF

a starlet of a different kind.


                                                             Still Famous

Klieg lights sweep the rims of skyscrapers

as the entourage arrives

tuxedoed men and gowned ladies who look like

a displace fairy tale.

The man in the middle once called me brother.

Now he wears a George-Cloonet-grin and dimpled bow tie.

At the door I say, “Hey,”

but he’s busy signing autographs.

By evening’s end I’m still the doorman

and he’s still famous.

As the perfect posse drives away

the Klieg lights blink off.

Someone rolls up the red carpet.

Someone else says, “Hey, give me hand with this garbage,”

and I oblige because I’m paid by the hour.


                                                        Call Me Gwyneth

We tour homes of the rich and famous

instead of taking in Disney.

The kids fuss and squeal

in the back of the tour bus

as my wife asks takes down

notes about O.J. Simpson.

She’s the happiest I’ve seen her in years.

In bed at our hotel that night

we make love while listening to Madonna.

My wife tells me to call her Gwyneth or Marilyn,

whichever works for me

and when I do, we break through to another side of us

the room a toaster

air thin as needles

sheets soaked with sweat

Colbert yammering on the muted TV.

For breakfast we eat waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse.

Daffy and Donald Duck come by our table,

Ariel as well

and photos are taken.

There are more meals and more machination involving people

we’ve only seen inside a box

or lathered in glossy magazines,

The town smog-laden is ripe with celebrity.

On the plane home my wife cranes her neck

believing Leonardo DiCaprio is in the seat in front.

She swears it’s him.

She squeezes my wrist

and tells me he’s her favorite,

always has been,

always will be.



My daughter holds her People magazine as if it’s a bible

pages splayed and dog-eared

notes scribbled along some of the margins.

She says she’s going to be famous when she grows up

and for me not to worry because

I’ll be famous because she’s famous.

When I chuckle she tells me she’s serious.

Before this she only wanted to be my daughter.

Then came Beyoncé and Katy Perry kissing a girl and liking it.

One evening I say, “How about I tell you a story.  I used to do that all the time.”

She fakes a yawn, says she’s beat.

Outside her door I hear

“If you like it then you should have put a ring on it”

blaring, the floor bouncing

as my daughter practices dance moves

mimicking an idol

and future foe.



The make-up comes off like a sheet of milky paste.

Eyelashes are plastic cilia curled to resemble the ass of a full moon.

Lipstick smears away the same as those berry-stained hands of yours

from years ago

when you were nothing

but a fruit-picker.

You watch the dye bleed black into the sink,

your hair a muss of bark and moss now.




You ask the woman in the mirror who she is.

She looks familiar,

A cadaver after a last breath.

Tomorrow you’ll arrive on set at the same time

and the make-up artists will work their magic again

and you’ll become something you’re not,

the something everyone else loves.


                                                      Awards Ceremony

We toast our twenty-first with stems held high.

Angelina applauds the thinness of your wrists.

“Wear bangles,” she suggests.  “They slenderize.”

Mickey Rooney—still alive—leans over,

telling racist jokes about Mexican blankets

loaned to drug mules on a sweltering day.

DeNiro chortles.

Pacino chuffs.

Nicholson cackles.

“It’s never easy being a woman,” Dustin Hoffman says.

We listen to it all,

every bit,

even the drunken mutterings

which are impossible to decipher.


Back in Seattle,

rainfall as thick as sludge pours from the sky.

You light a fire, pull me to the couch,

and whisper in my ear,

“I don’t ever want to be famous.”

Monday, May 19, 2014


…It’s Monday morning and I’m sitting in a very quiet building in SoDo with “The View” on TV.  It is not my TV and no one should watch “The View” ever.  Maybe in prison, but nowhere else.

…I have an interview at Up the Staircase Quarterly:

I’m not a fan of doing interviews because I always feel stupid answering the questions and I can’t ever think of anything clever to say, so each time I end up repeating myself.  But, of course, it’s nice to be asked.

Here are some random things I’ve learned of late that you might find interesting:

 -In 1990 Americans recycled 33.2 million tons of trash.
--In 2012 it was 86.6 million tons

Aid to poor countries (in billions) in 2013:
#1 – U.S. $31.5
#2 – Britain $17.9
#3 – Germany $14.1
#4 – Japan $11.8
#5 – France $11.4

 Top-grossing Broadway Musicals:
#1 – The Lion King (1997) $1.0 billion
#2 – The Phantom of the Opera (1988) $952 million
#3 – Wicked (2003) $824 million
#4 – Mamma Mia (2001) $572 million
#5 – Chicago (1996) $491 million

Catalogs mailed to U.S. homes in billions:
2013 – 11.9
2012 – 11.8
2011 – 12.5
2009 – 13.7
2007 – 19.6

-The death of Marilyn Monroe was followed by a 12% increase in suicides nationwide.

Top countries for life expectancy in years:
#1.  Japan – 87.0
#2.  Spain – 85.1
#3. Switzerland – 85.1
#4. Singapore – 85.1
#5. Italy – 85.
U.S. – 81

Top Summer Destinations for US Travelers:
#1. Cancun, Mexico
#2. Las Vega
#3. Orlando
#4. Seattle (!)
#5 Los Angeles
#6. San Francisco
#7. Denver
#8. New York
#9. Boston
#10. Honolulu

Friday, May 16, 2014


…Hey Friday, how are you doing?  You look great.

I hope your weekend is one for the ages, whatever that means.

 Here are some insights from Facebook friends in the last few days or so:

 -The lady next to me on the plane asked me if I had "little ones" waiting at home for me. I said, "Yeah, but they'll probably just feign indifference and lick their butts when they see me." She did not talk to me for the rest of the flight.

-The most unromantic thing a woman can say to a man after having sex. I'll start:Will you let me know when it is over?

-sitting at breakfast, googling "mexican drug cartel instagram."

-At IHOP for breakfast. Sometimes you have to be willing to pay for the ambience.

-There was a bottle of whiskey here. It's gone now.

-Sometimes I think my mother is watching over me from above, but since I usually think about this when I'm in the bathroom, it's kind of creepy.

-Asking for a friend: have you ever been called a hipster douchebag because you had wine and dips and chips?

-That feeling you get when you finish sewing in bed and can't find the needle...

-They are building a Fuddrucker's right next to Sonic and Five Guys. That's a lot of dead cow on one block.

-Sometimes I glance at my face in the mirror with makeup on and, it's unfortunate, but I think of Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie

-you know someone is your best friend when they casually say, "but I thought you were a Satanist?"

-Be nice to everybody they might be the Angel of Death, or have an in ground swimming pool.

-I was telling my class that we were having problems with packs of coyotes in our neighborhood and weren't sure how to keep them at bay, and one student said, "Why don't you use tranquilizers?" And I said, "I would, but unfortunately, I've already returned all of your essays."

-Two drinks a day leads to a 10-15% increase in longevity. Gaining a bit of weight as an older person also makes one live longer. Coffee helps, too. Yes.

-I walked into my locked room and a cat was in it. I do not own a cat. It meowed and then jumped out my window.

-The woman next to me on this train is harshly berating her family over their choice of snacks. She just compared her husband to a Holocaust denier because he claims the animal crackers from Fresh Direct are as good as the ones from Trader Joe's. This is amazing.








2. Replace smoking with another hobby like shooting heroin or habitual masturbation (unless you think these would be improved by smoking, in which case you should avoid these activities at all costs).

3. Kill yourself.