Tag Archives: reading
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The Writer Callus

22 Jul

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I miss school.

…Not the institution, you realize…the study that goes with it.

I miss reading and writing endless essays. I miss the notebooks, chicken scratched thoughts scribbled and outlined through a text until it comes out looking like a theatre script, mid-rehearsal. I miss the debates over themes and content. I miss mining all the layers that literature can hold in simple sentences printed on a page.

As an adult, all my reading and study has derived from pleasure, not pressure. I take in the books I know like the back of my hand, because I love them…I’ll occasionally read a light fiction easy-read because it was once recommended. But when I have no class to go to, no paper to write, no actual “reason” to dig into something like a slim novella of poetry and really break down what in the hell they mean…I just don’t. I’ll read it (maybe) and take what I want, what I took at first glance from it, then move along. But there is a loss in doing that…the “study” of writing as an art. Beyond plot.

…I miss that.

And so, I’ve taken the cue from m’next show, as Rita, to put myself through the paces these next two months. Apart from studying the script and character, I’ve a whole load of additional works to consume…pieces, and authors, and works of art which are sited within the script. I’ve charged myself to retrace Rita’s footsteps…to follow her path of discovery, with some of my own.

…It’s been two days at work, filling the down time with googling, and printing, cutting and taping, collecting reading lists and quotations and poems and paintings, and massing them into a black Piccadilly notebook, to be translated and studied later. Every literary reference, every author, every theme listed out in neat lines, a mass of poems printed, and liner notes begun. Of the three hours wherein not so much as a phone call rang through the office today, I secured three monologues (with attending dialogue) into my brain, and wrote themes on twelve poems from Dylan Thomas, William Blake, Henrik Ibsen, Roger McGough, & Oscar Wilde.

…And in the words of Rita herself, “It was FUCKING FANTASTIC!”

My hand written scribbles cover pages and pages, the side of my hand marked with lead from adding side notes to theme ideas, and that callus…my old friend on the rest of my middle finger, has re-dented in supplication from the constant pressure of a pencil.

I am back! That nerd-kid who would spend hours, over-writing by three or more pages, every essay she had ever been charged to write out. The kid who, (because of necessity) was forced to become a pretty decent editor, getting to the meat of the matter, tapping into the veins of a piece or a character…which would become that essential theatre tool I’d carry with me, for ever and ever. That kid who eats up language styles and word choices like its ice cream, who’d rather get lost in languidly profuse imagery, in a specific smell explained in words, in a world entirely fictional yet familiar, than almost anything else.

My brain is hungry as Rita’s, and I’m so thankful to have this extra time, this extended rehearsal period, to really dig in and build her piece by piece, poem by poem, book by book. In case you’d like to knock along with me a bit…here’s today’s list:

* And Death Shall Have No Dominion – Thomas
* The Sick Rose – Blake
* Gone – Ibsen
* You and I – McGough
* Let Me Die A Young Man’s Death – McGough
* Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Thomas
* Survivor – McGough
* The Blossom – Blake
* The Clod And The Pebble – Blake
* The Grave Of Shelley – Wilde
* In The Picture Gallery – Ibsen
* The Survivors – Ibsen

…Lots more to come.

*joy!*

~D

He Can Benedict My Cumberbatch Any Day…

17 Jun

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First: Ted & Allen & Stacy & Jim say “Hi.” 

…They’ve been bugging me to tell you for days now, and are monitoring my blog at this point. As they have threatened to procreate new spawn if I neglect to tell you “hello” this time, (and as they appear to be now major fixtures in my life), I thought keeping the peace would be the smarter way to go, on this.

…Also, a postcard just came in the mail today from Mrs. Johnson.

…Seems she’s taken a spur-of-the-moment puddle jumper to the islands for a quickie.  Cuz she’s a flipping harlot. Yet, for some reason, she felt inclined to send all her luggage ahead.  It is now being stored primarily in my belly, like a rising loaf of yeast bread, filling more and more pant space every day.

Super awesome, really.

Meanwhile, for m’first night off since Tech week, I started back up with my walks and wars with the Big Pink Ball.  Twenty minutes of Pilates and a six-mile trek was rewarded by a 3D date with my lover: Benedict Cumberbatch.  Star Trek.  Was super.  He was super-er. 

…That voice and his ridiculous elegance of stature (and general yumminess) makes me want to very bad things, very well…if you get what I mean. 

…Because I am always so subtle that I often doubt that you do.

(I mean: sex.)

…And in other “meanwhiles,” I have about a week’s worth of blog subscriptions I haven’t read, so am going to go now and do that.

…Because supporting the Arts is important!

…And so is stalking.

~D

Rogue Cracker

15 Jan

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I am speaking about a Ritz on two books in my bedroom, which has nothing at all to do with race relations, so just chill out.

…Periods make me do weird things. 

I blame the hormones. 

…And also, the badly timed cramps. 

Inevitably, they have me up anywhere from 3 to 5 a.m. trolling the cupboards for easy nibbles so I can take pills for the pain, then roll around the mattress with a heating pad, trying to gain some kind of relief.  Put that together with chocolate and salt cravings and it explains why once a month, my house looks like the Easter Bunny hid a bunch of shit all over the place and bolted.  I have chocolate Digestives in the living room.  The kitchen is sporting scones. The bar has some kinda nuts (“various.”) And my bedroom has a single Ritz cracker…resting between Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North and South,” and “Sylvia’s Lovers”…which is directly next to the Jane Austen twins of “Persuasion” and ”P & P.”

…I just thought you should know.

…There isn’t room on my bedside table for it (apparently) as that is where the giant tub of Pamprin, and fuzzy water lives (together with an antique framed pic of Gram, a writing book void of all script, my alarm clock, an antique Tiffany lamp with duel pull chains, and a bud vase…with no bud in it.) 

…Also in the general region, just to the side, a stack of books (in case I get brain starved in the night?), on a small shelf…including those I am borrowing at the time and have yet to get around to ever reading.  Some I’ve started, and just never finished.  All: I have sworn to “hurry up and read” at some point in the not-so-distant past.

…Really, all I have to do is look at the stack of them and I get overwhelmed.

Here is the list:

A Kate Hepburn Bio (On loan from L.M.)
“The Mists of Avalon” (1/3rd in, by demand of Marty)
“The World of Downton Abbey” (Last BD gift from JM. It was delightful, you should pick one up)
“Complete Novels of the Bronte Sisters” (Christmas 2011, from Ma, mostly as a joke, it weighs in at roughly 11 tons)
Ken Follet’s “Fall of Giants” (1/4th in, and can’t remember a damn thing…but the last one I read was courtesty MK and I liked it)
“The Collected Stories of Noel Coward” (Delicious.  Both times.)
“Allen Ginsberg Selected Poems, 1947 -1995” (Good lord, do I still have that book?? I need to get it back to S!)
“Beat Collection” (Ditto)
“The Moonstone,” by Wilkie Collins (I actually can’t remember if I finally read it or just watched the movie, which was why I wanted to read it)
“Three,” the Lillian Hellman triplet autobios (they’ve recently come much in handy again 😉 )
“Salt Dancer” by Ursula Hegi, (Another MK read, daddy- issue novella…liked it)
“Oscar Wilde and the Game Called Murder” (Gyles Brandreth does a brilliant mash-up of Holmes and Wilde solving cases to grinning delight)
“The Irish R.M.” (Because I miss it sometimes)
Ken Follet’s “The Key to Rebecca” (Any time you wanna build on Du Maurier…be my guest)
“Charlotte Gray” (Espionage and WWII?  Why yes, and thank you)
“Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” (Cuz I’m not obsessed or anything)
&
“The Fry Chronicles,” by Stephen Fry (Which should come with a Thesaurus and serviceable Oxford dictionary, though delightfully fun to read out loud and giggle at)

…And that, my friends, is only the one at the head of my bed.  I still have clumps all about the room separately.  Cuz I’m an addict.

…With a very obvious eclectic taste.

…Which further explains the craving for strawberry ice cream, Tillamook cheddar, and salamie I’m having right now.

But, instead of ALL of that, I’m gonna go catch up with “Downton” episode 2, at last…and see what Edith is up to.

~D

When The Smarts Get Stupid

11 Oct

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You know like when you wanna do things that aren’t a good idea…and there’s that little voice in your head that sorta sounds like a Munchkin saying, “Noooo, don’t dooooo iiiiiit!”

…But then it “accidentally” happens, anyway?

Yeah.

I’m like the Captain of that team right now.

…And what’s so funny about this (not really, but lets just pretend for a moment, shall we?) is that I actually DO so few legitimate “bad idea” things, that when I finally make a choice leaning that way, it is so BLARINGLY obvious just how bad the idea is, and that I am CLEARLY too smart to get caught up in shenanigans of that kind. And you have to admit it, cuz if not, then you’ve just been “duped” and that’s even worse than the other thing.

I am a smart person.

…Just, by and large…”in general.” (And extremely humble, P.S.) There IS no excuse for the predicament I find myself in, other than I totally knew what was going to happen…in my guts…but decided just to ignore it. Cuz sometimes, doing the “right thing” all the time, gets really fucking old.

True story.

…But then when you’re done “being an idiot” about reality and things, you are sitting here…like I am, for instance…feeling like a total asshole, but not in the way you would necessarily think. Hurt feelings aren’t involved. I’m not any poorer than I was before. I still have all my limbs and no stitches, or police record…and I didn’t gain any enemies. I guess if you stack all that up, my payback isn’t nearly as bad as it has every right to be.

My deal right now, is that I just feel like a giant idiot. And I can’t stand “idiots.” I make fun of them every fucking day in this blog. And now I have to take a break from doing that for a while, if only because of the butt-wad of hypocrisy involved, if I, say, call others out for things that blow my mind-balls with the scale of stupidity it represents, when I know what went down in my own little world, so recently.

Essentially, what I’m saying is: I’ve screwed up several perfectly good bitching blogs because I can’t double-standard in front of you all, about the things that piss me off that other people do, when they know they just fucking shouldn’t.

That’s all.

…Which leaves what exactly then, for me to write about?

Pumpkin lattes and this book I’m sorta trying to read, seem safe. I’ll just stick with those.

…Fuck.

~D

Lord Of The Rings, & Why I Hate It

20 Sep

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Okay, I know this is prob’ly a severely unfair judgement call to a certain extent, but I can’t help it, and here is why–

…But first, let me clarify some things:

I TOTALLY agree that the artistic and nerd-fulfillment beauty and marvel of the movies is not to be doubted.  They are aesthetically gorgeous…and I’m told, painstakingly researched down to the infinitesimal detail, from the original novels. I admit that it earned it’s collection of Oscars, and the books have obviously gained a cult following throughout the universe, that is not to be rivaled in it’s multiple of fiction genres, (few people seem to agree just where it belongs, specifically.)

…That said:

I don’t like them.

…The build up these movies were driven to, before I even had the chance to see the first film, was just a ridiculous level that no one could POSSIBLY deliver.  I was told of this EPIC story of fantasy and politics and good versus evil, and Hobbits and Dwarves and Dragons, and I was all, “Okay, I can get behind that prob’ly,” so I went along with it.

…And I totally fell asleep in the movie.  I lost track after time “three.”

…Granted, I was on a shitload of Benadryl at the time, with a hell of a head cold…but I swear to you, it was the first (and only recollected) time, I have EVER fallen asleep in a movie theatre.  IN MY LIFE.  And I’ve seen me some SLLLLOOOOOW English period dramas, my friends. (Which I happen to love, but that is beside the point.)

…As hour three (or whatever) FINALLY came to a close, and the lights came up…I remember sitting there and saying, “Are you kidding me?  Where is the action? Where’s all that fantasy stuff? They’ve been climbing the same fucking hill for THREE HOURS just now…and I know they’re Hobbit-tiny-people and all…but seriously?!”

“It’s spread out in three installments,” I was told.

“So I have to come back and do this all over again, before we get to the real stuff?!”

“You just don’t understand.  You should read the books,” my helpful friend suggested.

…Which I never did.  Because I’d already spent THREE HOURS being bored with the story so far, why elongate it?  And there was no alternate thing I could blame even, as the picture quality itself was stellar, and the actors buried behind all those elf ears and troll hair were ones I’d loved for ages and had great respect for.  CLEARLY the problem wasn’t the film.  It was the story.

…Which didn’t help the following Christmas, when my totally obsessed Mother, wanted the super-special-torture-me-DVD set, with 47 hours of extended specials on it (cuz the fucker wasn’t long enough already)…which I felt obligated to purchase her. (Though I informed her that I highly disapproved, on “principle.”)

…She paid me back by insisting on putting it in the player immediately. 

It played ALL DAY LONG. 

They were STILL climbing that fucking hill as we ate our dinner. And I had slept through MOST of Christmas, because of it.

…And because Peter Jackson is a sadistic, evil human…he managed to practically RUIN every year, since. (Same hill. Same little Hobbit-people. Same constant nodding off.) Because, thanks to the movies’ super stardom…they even play on cable every Thanksgiving…and for a while there, kept spitting out NEW ones, every Christmas, which I was again obligated to purchase for my mother…who insisted then on continuing the ongoing torture.

…And now there’s ANOTHER “trilogy” that is soon to come out…

…And all I wanna know is: “WHY ME?!? WHAT have I done in life to deserve this kind of consistent torture through the rest of my “forevers,” just cuz I’m a good daughter?!”

…And now “M” has entered my life and decided that SHE is gonna be the one to “break” me on this whole new Hobbit movie deal. THERE ARE PEOPLE PLACING BETS ON IT! What the eff, you guys?! I told ’em I might be dragged…kicking and screaming, to ONE of ’em…but only cuz one of my boyfriends, (Richard Armitage), is in it. Then she got all proud of herself and decided she’d get me to read the books, TOO.

…And so, naturally, I told her where to “get off.”

…To which SHE countered with the offer of doing it “readers theatre” style. Which totally wasn’t playing fair, like AT ALL.

…And I said, “You mean, with all the voices?”

…And she said, “Yep.”

…Which I sorta was okay with a little.

…But then she and Ma started fighting on FB about who gets to read who ,and all. And I finally had to call the kibosh on it:

“Look, people…I don’t give a #%$# who plays who! I don’t know what the hell any of these people’s names are. ‘Oh! I wanna play Harkle of the land of Isith, from the valley of the Smurfs!!!‘ IT MEANS NOTHING TO ME. But so help me God, if I end up having to play all the Tree and Rock people, I’m gonna be PISSED! BE NICE! Or I won’t play with you anymore. OR read your stupid books!”

…And I stand by this.

~D

Literary Excuses

16 Sep

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Today I finally finished Jenny Lawson’s laughtrack to her life, and realized that aside from a spectacular session of reader’s theatre that The BFF and I entertained one another with, over Whiskey and cigars the other day…it was the first book I’ve finished reading in prob’ly upward of three months.

…That shit is ridiculous.

…And I totally know whose fault it is, too:

The summer.

J.J. Abrams.

And you.

…The reason I haven’t finished a damn book in so long is because there is sunshine out there…and that almost never happens in this state…and I NEED to freakin’ be out in it, every second that I possibly can

…And when I’m not outside, I am prob’ly glued to “Alias” for the first time…wondering how in the hell I have lived this long on earth without finding out that J.J. Abrams is prob’ly the magical movie “third” in writer-imagination-kickassness, right after Sorkin and Whedon. But no matter how excited I get about it and wanna tell someone, they’re all like, “Uh. Yeah. Everyone already knows that, dumbass.”

WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THIS, YOU GUYS?!  I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS!!

…My next reason in actively forsaking the written novel/history/biography/NY Times Best Seller, is that I’ve been glued to the fucking computer since first opening this blog. 

For some reason I thought it would be a great idea, and not at all stressful, to blog every single day…whether I happen to have something to comment on or not.  Which has already gotten me into a ton of sticky wickets due to the fact that (in case you aren’t a full-time reader)…my life ain’t all that spectacular. 

…If I had to compare apples to oranges, I’d say that’s exactly like doing a one hour stand-up improv routine, every. single. day. I have no idea where the material is supposed to materialize from, but I’m standing here on the damn stage…with the mic on…so I better just come up with something…and kinda quick…cuz I have to do this all over again, tomorrow.  And since you all are in the audience, (and keep insisting on reading it), I figure you’re basically enablers. So really, it’s all your fault.

Naturally.

…I keep waiting for the inevitable anxiety attack that this will bring on, as the days pass, and I start rehearsals on top of work. Which leaves only about enough time to take a shower, eat one meal a day, and schedule my pooping time (because I can’t “poop” just anywhere, you know…and that takes some serious navigating and preplanning.)

Meanwhile, rehearsals start this Saturday, and I have no idea how I’m gonna make all this fly.

…Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy the challenge it presents: the fact that I often have to just pull a theme outta my butt and run with it, or mix up the media presentation a bit, or figure out how to spin something that is still a bit too raw at the moment, into something we can all laugh about less than 24 hours later…when you’re reading it from your phone, while undertaking your morning after-coffee BM.  (A lot of you do, and you know it, and I’m totally okay with it. Really.)

…Anyway.  What I’m getting at is — this isn’t just a “chore” thing.  Only sometimes it is.  Like when I’m tired.  Or grumpy. Or traveling.  Mostly it is an enjoyable clean slate for the day, on which to scribble upon.  But I DO miss a paper book in my hands.  And I DO need to make more time (somehow) to continue to study from them.  And I DO have lines that need learning.  But I DO think I can fit it all in.  And this is my accountability clerk, jotting it all down in ink (is it still “ink” when in type on a screen?)…so that I will remember my pledge and uphold it.

It may be something as simple as streamlining. Less words per day from my brain, in order to have time to soak up others’.

…Which I can live with.

What I can’t do is another three months and only one novel checked off the “read” list from the three-zillion-and-one piled up beside my bed, waiting to be next. 

Don’t forsake my education…even while I practice what I’ve learned.

I need both.  All the time.  It keeps me centered. And focused.

~D

Fingers, Feet & Fetish

5 Sep

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After a long day back at work, with month-end closings, and Holiday sells analysis and blah-blah-blah-blah…how about we get back to the basics? A few flashes into the rest of m’day, to carry with you:

Long walk looking at posh houses with Ma.  I think they have their lawns cut with hair clippers. They also all have mullioned windows breeding like ancient rabbits. If you wanna make a lot of money, you should move here and take up window washing.  It could be very lucrative. Or maybe I will.  Shut up. I told you nothing. It was my idea the whole time.  I have it in writing, so remember that.

…Eating warm falafel pieces with homemade tomatillo salsa, from The BFF’s oven.  This is my second dinner for the night, so I guess it’s good that I did all that walking before.  Chickpeas are yum, but I like their other name “Garbonzo beans” better.  I think cuz it sounds like Gonzo. Which is both my favorite kind of journalism and Muppet. A coincidence?  I think not.

…On a whim, we suddenly decide on the frozen yogurt bar.

She picks pistachio. (She’s wrong, but I love her anyway.)  I get the vanilla and caramel mix.  With marshmallows.  She saves hers.  I eat mine like it doesn’t matter how much shit I’ve already consumed for the day. 

…We sit at The BFF’s house…me: flipping through a 1930’s intelligence book on fingerprinting as The BFF picks at her feet.  She has monster calluses from Kickboxing.  I have monster interest in old paper and weird research fetishes.

Me: (from behind book.) “Did you know you can’t permanently destroy your fingerprints?  Even with burning and acid?”

The BFF: (frowning at her foot in closeup as she picks.) “Huh.”

Me: (still behind book.) “The ridges just grow back.  Six months later. Here, look…there are totally pictures.”

…I don’t even show her the page.  Why should she get to see all the good stuff just cuz I find it?  Even if it is her book. 

She grabs some scissors.

Me: (looking up at the flash of metal.) “Um, what the hell are you doing?”

The BFF:  “It’s just for the dead stuff.  It’s crazy…feel my calluses.  Feel ’em!  Feel ’em!”

…She waves her Flinstone feet in my face, which I refuse to touch on principle.  They are all gnarly on the bottoms like she has a third career in firewalking.  Which she might.  She does a shit-ton of things on a daily basis, and I can’t possibly be responsible with keeping up on ’em all.

…”I have nothing to blog about tomorrow,” I say, while returning to the book.

“You can always talk about me picking at my feet, while we listen to Tom Waits…”

(P.S. We are listening to Tom Waits. On vinyl.)

…”That’s just stupid,” I say, turning the page.  “Why in the hell would I write about that?”

The BFF shrugs and I start reading about this one guy.  It’s all about fingerprint ageing, following this one dude from twenty, through forty and into eighty.  They all look exactly the same.  “These fingerprints all look exactly the same,” the book says.

…And this gets me to thinking.  Mostly about how to get the skin cells on fingertips to replicate all over the body…cuz then we would never change in appearance or age.  Ever.  I consider making this research my new career for the good of all mankind.  Then I remember my first period Chemistry class in High School, and decide that if it’s up to me, mankind is basically just fucked.

…Unless you guys wanna get in on this. In which case, my fee-cut is a very reasonable 20%.

Me: (putting down the book.) “Doesn’t your Kickboxing class start in like five minutes?”

The BFF: “Twenty.”

…I sigh heavily as I lay there exhausted, from looking at pictures, and curing aging and rich people’s dirty windows.

“I need a nap,” I announce, as I heave myself from the couch.  “Call me later.”

…The BFF answers without looking up, with a sound that I know means, “sure/maybe/whatever,” as I walk out the door.

Once home, I put on “Alias” again. Because I can’t help myself.

Season two.  Near the end.  Don’t spoil it for me or I’ll have to kill you.

…I turn abruptly, and bang my fucking knee on the the same fucking edge of the fucking coffee table that I do every goddamn day.  The bruises have never healed since I first brought the fucker home, six years ago.  In the end, it’ll prob’ly be the thing that cripples me.

…I take it out on a pillow.  He takes it like a man. I plow into the couch, and press “play.”

As the last episode wrap-up begins, I look at my laptop in the corner there, and my brain begins to chant.

My Brain: “what-to-write, what-to-write, what-to-write…?”

I think of a finger, dressed like Sherlock Holmes, who solves crimes primarily via errant prints. Maybe it’s a children’s series.  Or something like Sponge Bob which applies to grown-ups with dependency issues.  This would double my viewership, easily.  Then I think of The BFF picking her feet to Tom Waits poetry.

I take the lesser of two evils and just fucking commit…like a Gonzo journalist should.

…Sometimes, it’s all you have.

…That, and a whole lot of expletives.

~D

Ah, Wilderness!

20 Aug

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I grew up around a lot of nature.  And not a whole hell of a lot “else.”

When people ask me about where I came from, I reference them to Yosemite.  Its a National park, people have actually heard of it, and know it resides in California…”somewhere in the middle.”

…I grew up in an armpit town, slightly west of there. 

The county itself looks pretty much the same in topography, and is chiefly populated by Miners, Mill Workers and Armed Guards.  It is “Goldrush territory,” and they’re still extricating the stuff like a shiny food crop, have an exorbitant amount of excess in trees (apparently), and is conveniently in the middle of bum-fuck-Egypt…so they decided that planting a third-security prison there, would be a good idea.

…I used to think it was the most unbearably boring town in all of God’s creation. And it might still be. I dunno.  I try my best to go back there as little as humanly possible, so haven’t much to go off of on that point. But in hindsight, I have to toss it up a few marks of “chutzpah.” This is due solely to the laundry list of semi terrifying circumstances surrounding it, that I always just thought of as totally normal…until talking to other people about their childhoods.

Constant mining detonation-cued earthquakes, would erupt at all hours in all seasons…without even a second thought that the San Andreas fault line was under our fucking feet.  Sticky-tack was totally the way to go when displaying any breakables…duck and cover drills were announced over PA systems at schools and work, and everyone was taught how to switch out a blown fuse and light an oil lamp from birth. It wasn’t until I moved to Washington State and lived through a “barely tremble” (which even DJs on the radios were getting into apoplexies about), that I realized the gross amounts of inherent military-like conditioning I’d undergone in childhood…calmly walking to a doorway mid-house tremble, while continuing to count to 100. Because I was “it,” and everyone else was hiding, (prob’ly under tables and behind couches, come to think of it…)

Also, the hot, rotting, urine-like smell of the Millworks, never seemed to quite keep up with the rampant forest fires in general tree devastation, there.  This would bring on the volunteer firefighting squads mostly populated by local prisoners, who were actually being TRAINED in it as a “skilled profession,” with the help of our Parent’s tax dollars.  Intermingled with the civilian population at large with only a uniform to tell them apart, I dunno if the powers that be took into consideration that within an hour under these conditions, everything and everyone is covered in head-to-tow black soot; Including the jumpers with “Prisoner” stenciled on them.

…You would hope, the people in charge would have at least weeded out the pyromaniacs among this crowd…but this would be asking a lot…given that these were the same authorities who thought it a great idea to ship out jam-packed marked minivans (driven by armed guards)  to our local Grammar School, as part of the cheap labor initiative used in building our new quad.

The fact that at any moment, the enticement may be too much to bear, and at least one of said prisoners would take it on the lamb, was almost a given.  And they did from time to time.  And there would be lock-downs.  And people would go looking for them.  But luckily for us, we must have been mailed out the stupider kind.  Because instead murdering people, molesting children, or hitting up a convenience store, taking a hostage, and beating it out of town…they’d always take the road least expected. 

…Like the guy who stole the prison van, and left it parked outside his grandmother’s house…found, hours later, sitting at the table eating milk and cookies.

…Or the one who walked off, mid-a fire, escaping out into the wilderness, turning himself in two days later — a hobbled, broken, bleeding, hysterical mess — on account he was apparently from a city, and had never been in “nature” before.  (It was also rumored he’d been sodomized by a wild animal at some point. I dunno if that part was true or not, but he certainly looked like it.)

I happen to know these stories, (btw) because my Mother worked at said prison at the time, and would bring them home, as reported and laughed over while eating their lunches, served them from hair-netted convicts who liked to point out that the macaroni salad was especially good today cuz they’d used a “special ingredient,” but wouldn’t tell anyone what it was.

…This all adds up to some seriously questionable circumstances when you think about it…but because it was my kiddome (and it was all I knew)…it never really occurred to me at the time.

At the TIME, the most sick and twisted part of my existence, was the fact that despite my pleadings, and melodramatic claims of child abuse…I was constantly being forced against my will into the great outdoors. Because my mother was a camping sadist from hell, who’d inherited the gene directly from her father.

Nature.

Fuck.

…With all that dirt, and weeds and grass.  With all that sky and sun…and so much air you could practically drown in it.  The bugs lived out there! And like little Kamikaze assholes, always dive-bombed their way into your cup of juice and bit you in places you could never reach to scratch.

As if day trips weren’t bad enough…Mom’s favorite summer past-time torture, was to drive out into the wilderness every fucking weekend, point at the rock and pine-needle strewn land, and claim “this spot” as our new horn of plenty. She’d spike a pole in the ground, throw a blanket over it and begin walking around in big strides, getting drunk on air, and proselytizing about how, “This was the life,” and “people in cities just don’t know the real deal” and “aren’t we lucky to live here?”

…My answer to this was always the same.  I’d take up my 1500 page tomb of Russian Literature, or History on the Holocaust,  and retreat into the back-most section of the tent in abject silence.  I found out early that pleading the fifth was smartest in these circumstances, because if I complained about it even a little bit, she’d force me on a trail hike or some alternate form of holy terror.

After an agonizing sequence of checking and double checking the contents of my sleeping bag, (assuring it was free of snakes, bugs and vermin), I would properly preserve myself with an invisible shield of bug spray covering every square inch of my body (even eyelids), and commence with my reading. And I would not stop again or move from my position, except in cases of eating and peeing, until it was time to go home.

Dear Lord, how I hated those weekends.  More than seafood.  More than peas.  More than homework, even! But because I wasn’t 18 yet, I hadn’t “the vote.”  With no legal protections whatsoever, I was forced into it .  So I went.  And I read.  And tried my best to ignore it.

***Flash forward***

I now live in the Pacific Northwest.

…Of my own free will.

It is occupied mostly by software brainiacs, coffee drinkers, State workers and nature-freaks. 

Most of our land is made up of State parks, wetlands, swamps, rain forests and trails linking them via network spider-webbings and landmarks.  The population is so obsessed with partaking of its infinite varieties, that they will kit themselves out in an REI wet-dream of fleece jackets, cargo shorts, socks pulled up to their kneecaps and rock-climbing sandals…to go hiking through it, in the middle of pissing-down rain, grinning like idiots…under the mass delusion that they are “having a good time.” 

It’s become such a part of the culture here, that no one even thinks twice about it.

…And maybe, because I’ve lived here for twelve years now…maybe because I’m susceptible to any and all random and strange diseases and epidemics that happen to pass by…(like that one involving spider bites, or rashes, or every cold that makes its way through the masses.) Maybe that is why I find myself suddenly (over the long and painful evolution crossing the past twenty years), not “minding” the out-of-door experience as much as I once did. 

I’m not completely cured of it, mind you…just less “allergic.” 

Truth be told: we’ve got some cool stuff here.  It’s green, most if it. And kinda smells good. As long as a bar of soap and hot water face me at the end of the trail…I really kinda like it even.

…But don’t tell Ma that. 

…Even one whiff, and she’ll kidnap me with the Subaru, drive out to some god-forsaken mountain top, and force me to go all “Lewis and Clark” on that shit.

My childhood was scaring enough, thanks.

~D

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