2020 Campaign Slogan: Vote for Indifference

I think I’m going to run for president in 2020. By then I’ll have over 15 years of nonprofit experience, and a whole lifetime as a writer to buoy that resume. I’ll kick things off by walking across the stage and announcing, “As a woman, I hate myself” which should snag the interest of 20% of registered voters. I’ll then follow up with lightning fast twitter disses of all the candidates. My taxes will be so released, and will raise a lot of questions. How did she survive in 2012? for example. Why don’t writers get paid for anything? You paid that much for healthcare? Are you okay? I’ll be ready to answer those questions. My theme song choice will not earn a stern reprimand from Fleetwood Mac. I will not wear pants, let alone pantsuits, which will leave my vagina vulnerable to grabbing, but I know how to stand now. Instead of having points or ideas at the debates, I’ll have charts and graphs. They won’t be charting or graphing anything, but I want to be able to go, “Boom! Chart! Boom! Graph!” I think Americans will appreciate my use of Boom! When I need to respond to my opponent, I’ll just go with, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening.” Then I’ll lick the Doritos dust over my fingers and take a quick selfie. If they ask about foreign policy, I’ll just say, “I really like tacos. What’s your point?” The economy? “You said I had two minutes. It’s only been fifteen seconds. You said I had two minutes. This is maybe 30 seconds.” Now all I need is a logo, a slogan, and people to support me no matter what I do with cult-like fervor.

Eulogy for Rachael

Rachael's memorial card
Rachael’s memorial card

Rachael hypnotized everyone upon arrival. Adorable, red-haired, cherubic Rachael was the only reason my older sister Dawn and I ever got to enjoy free baked goods. Between Dawn’s lazy eye and pigeon toes, and my freakishly large eyes on a tiny head, we failed to attract the cooing attention that so effortlessly fell upon Rachael. Her curls inspired the women working behind the counter at the bakery to offer her flat sugar cookies stuffed with M&Ms, and then me and Dawn, once they realized we were with her. Both parents were out-gunned by her wit, and she could cut off my mom by simply burping into her hand and blowing it at her, or wagging her finger at her in a parody of parental meltdown.

 

Initially, my approach to her cuteness and humor was psychological warfare. It seemed an injustice that she was so easily adored and even-tempered. I’d hide her toys in the back of the closet, aka the toy graveyard. When she asked me where they were, I’d say, “I don’t know. Where do YOU think they are?”

 

Her retaliation was carving the letter A for Amanda into my father’s guitar. Despite the telltale-looping scrawl of a five-year-old, I still had to make a case to my parents like a tiny attorney. To the bitter end, they were reluctant to concede something could be Rachael’s fault – and Rachael just sat there, quiet and blinking underneath her red curls. I would never beat her.

 

It was more interesting when we worked together, anyway. I wrote songs and poems and plays and then talked her into performing them. Our first and finest production was Hansel and Gretel, with Rachael performing as Hansel and our dog Pepper making a special appearance as the hungry birds. We rehearsed for days and then presented two performances for the family, with her comedic delivery stealing the show. We also sang weepy, desperate, Suzanne Vega inspired power ballads about dead flowers and nonspecific pain, and pressed the pause button while recording our voices to get slowed down versions of 80s classics like Careless Whisper.

 

By the time we hit high school Rachael emerged as oddly good at everything she attempted, but reluctant to get attention for it. She had awards for dozens of perfect scores on calculus tests, earned trophies for every racket sport, wrote with humor and grace, memorized whole books of sports trivia and statistics, and somehow managed to be the extremely rare combination of funny and empathetic. In high school she joined the literary magazine since I was her ride home and the editor, and Rachael provided crucial feedback for each submission so that the magazine included only the best.

 

And speaking of rides home: no one was more surprised that my driver’s license was legal than Rachael. She saw plenty of evidence that it should have been revoked. In one of many minor accidents, I was staring down a bus driver to my left when I smashed into a car in front of me. My glasses and shoes popped off, and the frame of the radio ended up around Rachael’s wrist like a bracelet. I rolled out of the car (no shoes, glasses askew) to ask the other driver if he was okay. Instead of responding, he asked for directions to the airport, while Rachael reported she’d also punched a hole in the heating vent. After this event she started collecting photos of people who fell or got injured and lost their shoes in the process. In another incredible feat of dumb, I somehow managed to get the car stuck on one of those raised gas station islands. For several minutes I drove back and forth, back and forth, and a couple of guys inside the gas station came out to marvel silently, their hands in their pockets. As I reversed and finally freed the car, I screamed, “Does my life ever stop sucking!” Though later this became a popular family catch phrase, somehow Rachael’s expression never changed. No, the accident where she completely fell apart and unleashed her trademark Rachael cackle was when I attempted to pull into the drive thru at Burger King and ended up a full car length away from the speaker. Since reversing only caused me more problems, I decided to put the car in park, open the door, and lean over while shouting my order into the speaker. I asked for a “chocolate shlake” instead of a shake, which unleashed the force of her first guffaw, and I lost my grip on the door and fell face first onto the concrete. As I hand-walked my way up the door and back into the car Rachael laughed so hard the whole car shook, her face red, tears running down her face, and she kicked her feet while the hapless drive thru worker repeatedly said, “hello? Hello?” I don’t remember her ever stopping, but I remember tapping out a beat on the car horn to salute the worker who had to deal with us, and then spraying shake all over my windshield. Even though I’m a better driver now, after leaving her condo to continue a road trip in 2011, she sent me a text that said, “my driver’s side door and window are broken, and I know it’s because you were here, you walking calamity.”

 

Over the past few years we traded text messages for hours late at night: a direct result of her night owl status and my own chronic insomnia. She suggested that I consider watching her favorite murder shows because, and I quote, “There’s nothing more soothing that partially submerged corpses.” Then we traded texts about what the various cats on the APL website must be thinking, before returning to arguing over which one of us had greater potential to be a character in the next Harmony Korine film.

 

The last time I was in Cleveland we explored thrift stores, and Rachael attempted to refuse a gift her nieces, Rayne and Simone, selected from the piles of miscellaneous merchandise: a sad wooden napkin holder dubbed Burglecut the Duck. When she intentionally left it behind at Dawn’s house, we hatched a plan. At Rachael’s condo, I was lookout while Simone planted Burglecut the Duck under Rachael’s bed blankets. When Rachael walked into her bedroom to discover what was happening, I had my camera ready to capture the exact moment of discovery. It was classic, and she finally accepted Burglecut into her home. Later that night we talked about having a slumber party with Rayne and Simone and our mom, with Burglecut supervising the shenanigans.

 

I am sad that the slumber party as imagined will never happen, and even more sad about only having one sister. Two sisters doesn’t sound nearly as good as three. And it is even more rare to encounter a person who is truly good people to the core – and no one will dispute that Rachael was a truly good person. And I’m certain that she’ll still be around in some way, laughing at everything, burping and blowing it at me for writing this, and beaming at every brilliant moment her spirit won’t allow her to miss.

Me and Rachael
Me and Rachael

hiatus from white male words

I cannot read white guys for awhile. It’s not that I dislike white guy writing; some of my favorite writers are fellows of the pasty persuasion. George Orwell. John Milton. That other dead guy; that one who lives forever. Doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fill of hard drinking, working class men with surly dispositions, fretting over the women who’ve done them wrong…written by tender guys living off trust funds in Brooklyn brownstones.  Had enough of five o’clock shadows and fifty-yard stares, emotional detachment and simmering resentment, unions that unraveled and road trips to nowhere — nobody consults a map, unless there’s a woman in the car, in which case that’s exactly what she’s doing. I’ve had enough of cops on the other side of the law and misunderstood criminals, corporate executives ducking out of afternoon meetings and into bars, marriages forever tense and inscrutable with no notion of tenderness beyond thank you, goodnight. These white men don’t recover from the backslap of romance, don’t enter into the soothing space of just knowing someone and relaxing. They are too busy drinking, divorcing, finding themselves, which usually means another woman, in a bar, in an office, in a car opening a map while he’s driving.

And speaking of this particular sort of writer, I’ve had my fill of female characters that place phone calls about child support payments and scream across the street about when he’s coming back, and never have ambitions beyond Lady Macbeth. This type of male writer never writes women thinking like they do, wondering like they do, plotting like they do. No, this white male writer makes women thin and demanding or fat and sorry, hunting for a hero or fulfilling childhood fantasies of sparkling eyes and inspired statements released as riddles. He will meet her in the park, he will meet her in the bar, he will meet her in the office when she comes in late and dressed inappropriately and unwilling to file anything alphabetically. Women described as “used up” and worn down by life, permanent mothers flanked by angry children that spit at each other across the dinner table, wild women whose only rebellion involves sexual promiscuity and growing their hair long and white and tangled.

In their interviews they will wear beards and soft sad eyes and tucked in flannel shirts and talk about the loneliness of writing. They will talk about adopting children from foreign countries as the long drunken route towards empathy. They will talk about their mothers, the abortion their girlfriend once had, their trip to Africa/Malaysia/Thailand that was totally different from the other white guys who were there for worse reasons. They will talk about the disappointment of their fathers, how they will never receive tenure; they will not talk about their trust funds. They will rattle off lists of other white male writers writing about divorce and murder and dogs and strippers and guns and rivers, and talk about their next book that will cover more of the same. In six weeks the black cover will promise a something-something “tour de force” and I will wonder if that’s a bicycle tour in France.

Too small, too drunk, too troubled, too on-to-something, too lost. This is too small, when a world of other worlds lies waiting.

Winter Star

Last night I spent hours watching people jump from burning buildings. Winter left me thinking about plane crashes, explosions, the number of days we’ve gone without an incident in the workplace, fingers that don’t bend the way they’re supposed to, legs that are a bit too short for even tiny bodies and can’t be made to cooperate. The Hangman card neglects to address the cost of self-inflicted funeral arrangements, and the power of choosing death instead of suffering it unexpected and terrible, flames and cannon-fired water doing nothing to slow the inferno.

*

Winter is crafted for hibernation. Every activated limb requests rest, only to be tested again and again. Unrealistic demands are made of checking accounts and credit cards. Ovens are used with greased determination. Relatives are contacted to commemorate entangled threads of DNA. Gift lists are exchanged, and people look forward to working.

*

Wikipedia is unfair to conspiracy theorists, reporting findings on actual X-Files of everyday bumbling CIA investigations in snide tones reserved for college freshmen making snappy retorts to tenured professors. A pet theory coaxed to life with fermented anxiety and selected video viewing is debunkt courtesy of a source-free Popular Mechanics opinion piece, and I wonder if that magazine has ever been cited before a Wikipedia contributor had his condescending druthers. I don’t know the line between truth and conspiracy. What I know is that each president prematurely greys, and switches up statements once complex reality crashes through the front gates of town hall debates and lands in lap, unchanged.

*

I think my relationship will survive another winter, even if it is murder and feelings.

*

Winter changed somewhere and managers started hating their workers. Paying them a reasonable wage is the stuff of unions of yore. Benefits are things the government should supply (once properly paid and then paid again). Workers respond in kind, showing up when they feel like it, yawning away mornings when they don’t, escaping for smoke breaks without habits, monitoring windows and wondering what the point of hard work might be in an era when it goes unrewarded. The people who jumped? They arrived early.

Maybe someone will cure cancer. Maybe someone will play violin on the train home. Maybe someone will hand out juice boxes on the street corner. Maybe tattoos will start to leak. Maybe Sunday will come twice. Maybe.

*

Aisles blocked by people making desperate phone calls home to determine whether or not grandpa is allergic to wheat and eggs. A woman wearing a pink surgical mask asking me where to find the shopping carts. A bagger giving himself a crude haircut in the breakroom with a bowie knife. A man holding one container of premade flour-thickened gravy, and one container of cornstarch gravy, looking around before stating: “I don’t know what to do.” Another, in the midst of shoulder-to-shoulder turkey requests: “What is the fat content of this sausage, exactly?” Then someone rolls out a cart of wine samples, and the workers start circling.

Motivation. Result. Hard work. Windows.

*

Somewhere, in the morning, a warehouse will be warmed by the sweat of a thousand laborers racing to stuff things into boxes. Somewhere, far away, a wrist grows thick with button clicks. In the morning, the lines outside of doors will snake around stores and I will swallow the tail. Before this there will be eating, gratitude skimmed from the surface. Cynicism sends me back for seconds.

*

The Hanged Man on fading screens no longer knows the light of spring. I’ll ask him to stoke coal from the parts of me diamond-pressed. To show me three windows that don’t have such a drop. To show me what happens, after all that burning. I’ll ask him. This winter. I will.

Dangling by the ankle, falling.

 

Tourist Seasons

midwestern tourists with white socks pulled halfway up their calves in polo shirts with muted tones. Deep in exchange with drug-addled tokens of lost rave days, negotiating mouthfuls of tentacles. A sentence escapes, directions and change and ten salutations to old mischief and gods lasso’d from plants and sci-fi pages.

Foreign travel informs other language encounters, avoided with translation devices churned active with charades. Just like overseas both parties are nervous, and then someone takes a picture and buys a doughnut.

My eyes on the mother, stout firm and grounded from three children sliced from her body. She won’t offer her tale unless asked, and then it’s all getaway cars and field goals and journals inked thick with secrets. This woman won’t hug like she’s been interrupted. She’ll press her breasts into mine until they grow.

Her male counterpart something else all together, propped around wars and his grandfather’s wars and the job he was supposed to retire from until he didn’t. A camera saluting the labors of silver miners, his hands those of harvest. His wife will graduate to crone without having been abandoned, but if he’s asked who he is he won’t answer.

Meanwhile the ravers recall friends, all dead, who once occupied pants with enough fabric for two and filled dance floors with movements that would better serve some city, before one was left to foam her overdose alone so no sick sort suffered prison. Big city burdens bruising small towns long after notions of illegal dancing.

At twenty it’s not possible to measure the collection of bodies and faces and pick which hand will pull the card of cancer, will avalanche all the way down the mountain with no memory of bodies to cushion them. Image preserved of a cloud kicked up by two cowboys who never knew horses, stamping time in high desert lines while my tent became shelter for lizards. Daytime heat would force our retreat under mushroom canopies, then night resurrected lost thunder. We listened without hearing the warning.

Some went without gravestones in favor of ash recalling dormant volcanoes. Other shells had one autopsy, two, with neither revealing an answer. Others assume phantom forms to warn big eyes away from empty houses. Names and faces preserved through clothing artifacts collected in a bag, honoring a time when tshirts stopped short. Robots and aliens stitched in homage to sounds, silked with sweat and ringed in candy.

If they ask who I am, I won’t answer. A sugar different from the offering of this city, stolen from plants and sci-fi pages.

 

 

 

strange arrivals

In the past thirty days, one individual arrived at this site as a result of a search for: barista doesn’t love me anymore.

Yes she/he does. Just stop ordering decaf.

Perceived absence of love could also be informed by an especially long day. During holiday shopping season people who usually frequent Starbucks exclusively suddenly manifest in fancy shops and don’t understand what a macchiato is, which is usually expressed with: “You made this wrong, and I wanted mine with caramel.”

Tips also sometimes take a turn for the worse, because these people don’t know what’s happening; they just have to buy something before their wallets run away from their faded ass pockets. The giant menacing jar in reaching distance seems like a potential source of cramping, interfering with successful package abduction strategies. Baristas should consider adorning these with festive holiday wrapping and clipped portraits of orphans with striking resemblance to their own hollow eyes and hungry frames. Or perhaps lighting them up like a tree to stimulate the pagan Pavlov to put something on it or under it.

It’s also important to not love your barista too much, unless you frequently see him or her in an informal fashion outside of the work place. Otherwise, it is a job, you are a customer, and kindness is optional (for both of you). They forgive me my occasional shifty-eyed morose days when I wander in with an exhausted copy of Frank O’Hara’s Meditations on an Emergency and don’t have anything witty to say about the weather. You don’t know what kind of tragedy Saturday night brought with such a wide assortment of shitty bands to choose from, or what sort of unfortunate growths their bodies are blooming underneath uncomfortable clothes. Lay your own egg.

Another arrived at this site after hunting for: precious daydreams strip club. 

I’m not opposed to stripclubs, but there are few I’d categorize as “precious daydreams” and the ones that do earn that title reflect ignorant fictional construction of the eccentricities of Japan. This collage is crafted on Hello Kitty notepaper and includes anime presentation and lots of dye-hard kids in complicated outfits and pigtails flashing peace signs at invisible cameras. Imaginary Precious Daydreams features the predictable school girl outfits alongside the goth lolitas and glam kids and sci-fi creations sneaking from bodies with sharp angles and no muscle tone anywhere. Celebrities serve as reasonable accessories, little dogs in expensive bags.

This blog is not so precious or stripped, but it’s suitably daydreamed and heartbroken over baristas.

 

 

 

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Psychopomp Volume One




If you feel inspired to wait it out until the hardcover, the magic date is December 20th. That means I can’t promise it’ll land in your lap prior to this year’s scheduled global panic. You’ll also be able to buy the Kindle version this day, and thanks to science you’ll have many hours to peruse your purchase, salute your preferred deity, and take a nap. Should things proceed as predicted by people who shy away from reading, remember to arrange yourself in an orderly single file line with a single bag of personal artifacts. It’s unimportant where this line is going — what matters is that you’re in it. Should things proceed as (un)predicted, tune in to this website for consolation prizes, or locate another doomsday more likely to reveal the desired outcome or exit strategy. This isn’t a test. Maybe consider it a new year anyway, just because you can, and abandon every soul sucking enterprise or entity intruding upon your personal happiness. This requires bravery, a good sense of humor, and frequently decisions other people call crazy. This word is sometimes a signal that you’re on the right track. Consider the accuser carefully. You are loved.

Snake chases her tail

Greetings blog-trolling human forms and spam robots!

Right now I’m systematically wading through hundreds (and hundreds) of pages of writing, in an effort to minimize accumulation of Hard Drive Rot (TM) and free myself from the literary phantoms spooking up my mirrors. This means discipline, which is confusing, since I’ve come to understand that word as one synonymous with punishment. Like a lot of you, most evenings I’d rather intoxicate myself on moon juice and monkey-slap my keyboard until nonsensical images formulate themselves for 135 character internet posting, which means something for exactly four minutes until I forget what I was talking about in the first place. Like now…

Anyway, the idea is to finish (and publish) two books that have lived and died and been plagiarized within the confines of my brain meat ten times over into exhaustion. Both books are some diet flavor of done, but require editing and word rearrangement to better meet my perfectionist face-slap standards. I assure you these standards don’t essentially amount to self-inflicted staple wounds and thinly-veiled self-loathing. Really. It’s useful. USEFUL.

While I’m doing that the snooze button on this blog has been pressed, which is probably for the best. When I started it the idea was to post goo-goo-ga-joo vomited onto the screen in 30 minutes or less, with no further editing, to activate the ability to write, release, and call it done. The experiment worked: sure, yeah, I can let something go now. Unfortunately, most of what got posted is clit-lit, verbal masturbation informed by whatever attractive human specimen captured my wandering coffee shop eye. A couple of things didn’t suck, but I shudder to think some unsuspecting sap will stumble upon this website and use what’s witnessed in e-form to measure my writing prowess. That’s bullocks, people. It’s better to buy the books. So I’d better get busy…

Anyway, if you have interest in supporting my completion endeavors (in the monetary sense) please buy the shit out of my stories on Scribd. You can find them here: http://www.scribd.com/fallsapart

Future postings will offer details on my haphazard progress towards completion, and whether my hand wringing has escalated to hospitalization or decelerated into happy space and aum. There’s all kinds of other somethings in between but I’m a chick of extremes and it’s unlikely that I’ll occupy such airspace. Gargle my thoughts, unsuspecting someones. GARGLE.

Love to you,
Amanda

Career Day (Plotting of Future)

Mad Rambler

This uniform feels familiar. Unmonkeyed thanks to mittens, swaddling clothes for anxious digits twisting accusations. Thumb-tacked. Shoes shower-capped. Paper ribbons tied loose to yarn-spooled hair flat-ironed with heated horseshoe. Downright LUCKY.

No: unglued and unshoed. Everyone knows the only horse has feathers.

Fruit-juice in washpans from the bed of every foot at the foot of every bed from the spool of every head. This is the future friends, the future. Ask the army of ants exiting ear and evolving to pink-eyed plastic prior to window blind climb. War for the Pane, antenna-fired shots don’t bang or pop or pow or fizz, they squirt and pink eyes pin-drop. Koala with an x-marked spot escapes a neighboring narrative and inquires about the absence of bamboo. What the hell is there to eat around here? Giggle escapes mouth; not leather grip clutching wrist.

This is the future, friends.

Scavenger

Bottles and cans bottles and cans dumpster dive donut dollar rushing rusher bottles and cans bottles and cans thank you sir thank you ma’am bottles and cans bottles and cans.

Office Nutcase

Gather round wayward masses winking corner-office twinkies, foot shuffle downtrodden druthers! Did you see that one commercial with the guy from that show, not that one the other one, who wears the tie and does that thing with the football by the watercooler with that girl, the blonde one? Wasn’t that AWESOME? Oh tomfoolery, oh hapnappery, oh shenanigans hooligans happenstance, oh shitty mcfuckernuts, get me out of this habit or into a habit and unsex my dead nether forever. Required form in triplicate, two-6-dash-9-niner. Profits are down people, profits are down. Submit your request, submit submit, and for God’s sake get down from there, we only have the one bucket! Sign here and here and initial there.

Cult Leader

hallways slide from exit signs lined with sufficient logic for one uncomplicated thought colored neon with quotes from dead others, underscored passages in yellow holy books tucked quiet under eyelid. Agreement inspires declarations of being On To Something which satisfies small ego cookie starved since childhood. Now the stage is REALLY set. Little On to Something read this book and sign this paper and oh yes such a generous donation, I’m glad you were able to pay I mean play and oh here we go with that single thought (credit some other), giggle into the A-HA! more coaching and working of the One Thing already said (you’re really On To Something!). About this second thought – whoa, whoa, slow down, let’s not go complicating the story, let’s stick with what works, these methods have been tested and these thoughts have been thought out by other thinkers with thought pre-thunk for your thinking, so let’s just stick to the thought now why don’t we, don’t you think? This is love, my friend, a great bear hug swept under rug, oh come here fragile little flower, tucked and untucked, come here little hungry cookie drunkard for your mittens.

Firestarter (Arsonist)

CrackerJack offers a REAL PRIZE, fortune tidy foil-wrapped. Damp fumbling fingers scry the six-point font warning whispered through the 1950s into Emergency Exit of Here and NOW: THIS IS THE MESSAGE.

The beginning is only beginning.

This is the future, friend. The future.