Letters float and bubble up,
they string on weathered thread,
like popcorn strands on Christmas trees.
I clutch and nick and chomp and chew,
with painful, funny, contorting moue.
Letter float and bubble up,
black on white in cytoplasmic fill,
they string and coil as DNA that replicate
I mush and mash and press and pound
a finger-tip from coherence,
little faith, am I not to be crowned?
Letters float and bubble up,
with orange threads of goo
like momma’s lava lamp.
Before my eyes I mesmerize,
I hook and hasp and snap and clasp,
Exasperated, I bowdlerize.
Q hovers and glides aside.
Me thinks Q is longing for U.
It’s strange to think how selective memory can be: I remember details leading up to, during, and following this event, but I cannot remember what my punishment was from the courts. I must have been let off the hook legally, but rest assured parental punishment was indeed plotted, planned, and executed.
After the story’s conclusion, you’ll find a list of details that are true events and what was added for the resolution of the story’s sake.
Dirty Deeds Done on Spoon Lane–– Part Two
Mom’s philosophy is that if you’re not early, you’re late. It’s 9:15 a.m. and we pile into the ‘65 Belair and make the five-minute drive into town. She says nothing, thankfully. My stomach bubbles like a volcano of baking soda and vinegar.
The makeshift courtroom, in the Cottonwood Library, scant of furniture and dimly lit, is empty but for us two silent souls. Teary-eyed teenagers with stern-faced and weary parents shuffle in two by two. The air, stale, still, and thick with tension suffocates. Judge McCabe swaggers in and slides into position. The “all rise” does not come, but we stand anyway. I am surprised that I am first on the docket. I can’t detect his mood.
“How do you plead?” he asks.
I say I am guilty. Every muscle is shaking as I speak.
Mom stuns the room with a request that I be sent to Juvenile Hall. I want to burst with laughter at the thought ––me decked out in pin-striped prison garb. But I tamp the urge down deep. I think the request is ridiculous. The looks on the faces of everyone in the room echo my sentiments. No one breathes. The judge stares deep into my mother’s eyes and questions her.
“Does she meet her curfew? Does she do her chores? Does she get good grades?” he asks. He looks annoyed.
Mom answers yes to all three.
“Lady, you don’t have a problem,” he announces, “Request denied,” as he whacks the gavel onto the wooden table and calls for the next law-breaker.
The already stale, dull air fills with the sound of air escaping our lungs. Everything is blurry. I smile at the vindication, and we file out and into the car.
Mom is fuming as she informs me David Wilkerson (a religious leader) will hold a meeting in Redding next week and we are going. I say I’d have rather gone to juvie. She adds that maybe I’ll learn to appreciate her. I say I don’t know why she thinks her own daughter is so bad, when clearly, even a complete stranger can see differently. This escalates her anger to a level never seen in all my 16 years. She drives me to the school and I am grateful to escape. Exiting the vehicle, I wonder how I’ll survive the summer months at home, this being the last week of classes. I consider summer school.
It is dusk as I sit at my cheap, particle-board desk, writing my essay on World War ll for American History. A melancholy ballad about the Edmund Fitzgeraldplays on KRDG, the local pop-rock radio station. Mom and Dad discuss the events of the day rather loudly in their bedroom. The phone rings and they quiet. I think I am in a déjà vu. Mom says into the phone she thinks that a great idea, thank you and she will make the arrangements. I hear the click of the receiver. They whisper. I strain to figure out why. Mom and Dad say they are sorry to each other. I imagine them hugging and sicken at the thought they might be kissing.
Dad opens the door of my room without knocking. He tells me his sister, Aunt Carol, who lives in Marcola, Oregon, is sending me a bus ticket and I’m to spend the summer with her. I don’t know who is happier to hear the news: Mom or me. I ask if he thinks that is a good idea since the Oregon family is much more liberal than we Cottonwood straight-laced conservatives.
He answers, “Yes, I know, but this is what your Mom wants. She’s adamant about that David Wilkerson meeting, so you’re not leaving until that’s over.”
He stretches his arms out in a big bear hug, a rare event, and whispers he only wants the best for me. As he leaves, he tells me Mom loves me. I say she has a funny way of showing it.
“Janet, she’s my wife and your mother. You know she comes first with me but that doesn’t mean we agree on everything. I may not agree with her on this latest episode, but we stand together, and I support her regardless,” Dad says with a wistful tone and a sad look in his green eyes.
I close the door, turn up the radio, and do a happy jig to the current tune, Paul McCartney and Wing’s upbeat song, “Band on the Run.”
To satisfy the reader’s curiosity, I have listed below the details as I remember them.
These details are true:
My Aunt Pat really was my bus driver at times, although I’m not sure if she was on this particular day.
I have 56 first cousins, 46 or so on my father’s side.
My father made me dig in the mud.
I lived in a yellow house at the end of Spoon Lane, and our area was referred to by utility companies as the Bermuda Triangle.
The courtroom exchange between my mother and judge.
The conversations between mother and me.
My Aunt Carol rescued me from a summer of misery.
My favorite song at that time was “Band on the Run.”
I really was required to suffer through a David Wilkerson meeting
My mother really did love me, but she had a funny way of showing it. (I probably made it difficult for her.)
These details are not true:
Anyone who knows my father and the older generation of the Spoon family will know that they never say or do that!
Happy guessing. Hint: it’s in the third to last paragraph.
I am posting this autobiographical essay in parts because the original essay was written as such. I wrote this in response to a course requirement in the Advanced Composition course at Simpson University.
Every detail, even the seemingly miniscule, is true to the best of my recollection. The exception is the name change of my fiancé––now and forevermore known as Frank.
The Woman in the Wallpaper ––Part One
The vexing sound of the 3:30 a.m. alarm trumpets through the dark morning air. I groan and pull the duck-down comforter around my chin. My fiancé, Frank, jumps up like a jack-in–the–box and heads into the kitchen. I rouse from a groggy fog and aim for the bathroom. My head throbs and I search through the muddled mist as to why when I remember the festivities of the evening involved beer––a lot of beer. I cherish the sweet, therapeutic bouquet of brewing coffee wafting into the room, ‘go-juice’ that promises to counteract the cobwebby fog.
I stand before the mirror in the dimly-lit room of the porcelain god and begin slathering flesh-colored goo over the source of my identity. I stare at the face in the mirror. Everyone says I am gorgeous, but I don’t believe them. I wonder what I would do if anything happened to my face.
“That’s a weird thought,” I mutter to the reflection as I click off the light and head to the promised land of java.
* * * *
The fuel-tanker’s roaring motor is silenced as Frank brings the truck to a stop at the Whiskeytown Visitor Center. He hops from cab to ground, not bothering to use the two stairsteps, and begins to check the tires––tires carrying nearly 8,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel.
We had met as employees of SST Oil, Inc., a wholesale gasoline and diesel company. We discovered we had attended the same high school, but he was two grades behind me. I knew of him, we knew many of the same people, but we ran in different crowds. I was a band-geek and an aspiring journalist, and he was of the cowboy-party crowd. I remembered seeing his picture in the year book because the class that put the book together thought it would be funny to list his name as a brand of beer, a name similar to his.
At SST Oil, Inc., I work as a bookkeeper, billing fuel stations for gallons of diesel, gasoline, and kerosene delivered by our drivers. Frank is one of our drivers.
I hear the thwack of the tire thumper pounding the tires. Frank whacks each tire––all eighteen of them, a legally required and routine safety check. I have a sudden, all-consuming urge to get out––and stay out. But this urge remains mute and mum.
Frank directs the rig back onto the pavement, West onto Highway 299, a highway buzzing with holiday traffic as we head to the Weaverville BP fuel station. Frank’s conversation takes a weird turn: he talks of recent nightmares of crashing the tanker.
“Well, I hope it’s not today.”
* * * *
I fight through a fog of another kind as I am rousing from a medically-induced coma. I am told I have been under for two months. I fade in and out. Morphine-laden dreams.
Awareness slowly ebbs in to stay. Was it real? Was I the headline: WOMAN HAS EMERGENCY TRACHEOTOMY IN TACO BELL? Pain and tears are the bane of my existence, an existence nearly extinguished.
Nurses bossing, machines beeping, and laughter from the night-shift are the sounds that fill my day. The face on the wall glares at me––we face off––one without blemish, mocking. A red luminescent hand swings around 360 degrees, 1, 440 times a day. I wonder if this ‘hand’ gets as tired as I do from the constant vigil.
I can’t speak or move. I lay in bed with the video playing––what happened; when it happened; and why it happened.
A year later the official report reads that a tire blew out. The blown tire caused the truck and trailer to veer into the ditch. Frank fought to guide it back onto the road, but the weight of the fuel shifted, throwing the truck and trailer into chaos. In the process, the trailer split in two, sparking against pavement. We flipped and rolled across the road into a small ravine. Flames engulfed and surrounded us before the truck stopped twisting, turning.
I lay with pain, tears and memories: hearing Frank say that we’ve got to get out; Frank breaking the windshield with the tire thumper; how he scampered up over the dashboard and out the tiny opening of shattered windshield. A far greater pain pierces and splinters like the windshield at the memory that he bolted and left me to fend for myself.
I replay scene after scene: I think of how I stayed in the midst of bone-penetrating heat, staring at the golden-red flames around me––a moment so surreal––I am starring in a Hollywood film. I replay the panic of knowing I would be burned trying to get to the road; I remember thinking of my grandchildren; thinking that if I was going to die, I would die trying; I recall reciting the mantra– stop, drop and roll– and I remember the rocky ground as I begin crawling army-style up the steep- sided ravine.
The sound of a harsh, double tap at the doorway jolts me back into real time. It’s Nurse Kate. She scolds me for crying. Coming down from morphine accentuates emotions, and I am on the downswing. I say that if you were a burn victim, you’d be crying too.
“You are not a victim. You are a survivor,” she chides.
I am posting an excerpt from writings I began several months ago. It is a true story, written in the present tense, of life after burns, yet the story in its entirety does tells of the accident, subsequent hospitalization and such. The title 1000 Deaths is a temporary, working title at this point.
I stand proudly before the oven in our newly constructed house. We’ve moved into it three days ago and this is our first home-cooked meal––roast beef with roasted carrots and red potatoes. I secretly gloat at the memory that as a licensed Real Estate agent, I earned a commission for buying my own home.
I open the door for a peek at the goods and I wheeze from the heat-blast, and I’m shaken and tossed. Like a soldier with PTSD, I am standing in the blaze screaming for Frank.* He tells me my hair is smoldering, but it is my hand I notice, melted and deformed.
Someone yells, and I about-face to find off-duty firefighters suiting-up––but they stop, frozen. The fuel tanker explodes, and they shed their gear. They tell me to lie down on the sizzling asphalt.
Once there, they douse me with saline. I am howling, animal-like for more. They say they are out and I plead for water. But they say they can’t because water might cause the burns to become infected. I yell that I don’t care.
I see the treetops burning as I lie on the asphalt, waiting for my seven-winged bird. I’m reassured the Medi-Vac helicopter is on its way and I hope. Black smoke floats higher and higher above the flames.
I see Frank on the ground to my right. He has arms in the air and my stomach churns at the sight of the skin falling from his forearms. Rows of vehicles line the road, watching, waiting for the danger to clear, gawking at the unlucky ones. I turn my face to the left and a camera is inches away. Behind the camera, a woman is crouching and flashes light the air. I yell for her to stop. How dare she?
And I begin to yowl.
The sound of Frank’s footsteps on the hardwood floor and his worried cry catapults me into my world of roast beef, carrots and potatoes.
“What happened?” he demands, “Are you alright?’
It’s nothing dear, wash up, and please, set the table. Dinner is almost ready.” I turn to smile at him then turn away and wipe the tears away with a dish towel.
I didn’t make my Saturday morning blogging goal by Pacific Time, but hey, it’s Saturday morning in Honolulu. I’ll console myself with that.
I’m not really the sort to be happy coming in second place, but I am elated to learn I placed second in our university writing contest. Am I maturing? Maybe, maybe not. I was up against some pretty stiff competition, so I wasn’t sure I would even place.
The first-place winner is one I am positive will continue to be an award winning and prolific writer. I look forward to reading her books in that seemingly never-land of after graduation.
Write on bleeps, as Mike Senczyszak writes, write on
One of the things I enjoy about Brick on the television comedy, “The Middle,” is his love and knowledge about fonts. On “The Goldbergs,” Adam had a font showdown recently. I don’t know why I chuckle at the idea every time, but I do. I’ve concluded that I’m a closet Font Nerd. Surmise this admission as my coming out.
While I am not nearly as knowledgeable as Brick, I do enjoy an occasional migration from the typical Times New Roman required by most professors. I applaud unabashedly when instructed to use a font of my own choosing.
However, I quickly become overwhelmed with the plethora of font choices listed, and then there is the dilemma of what font transfers between programs and applications best, if at all. Audience should be considered ––I want to provide the smoothest reading experience as possible for my audience, especially a professor.
FYI–On Microsoft Word 2016 for Mac –– this is Adobe Arabic (10)
I’m on pins and needles: reading over syllabuses and textbooks 📚 for the upcoming semester.<<<<
On the plus side, only three more semester remaining until I will have completed requirements necessary for that coveted Bachelor’s in English and a minor degree in journalism (provided I survive a full four months of Math.)
So here I am on pins and needles while biting my nails at the daunting task ahead. I’m thinking of playing a Scarlett O’Hara and putting off these thought for another day .
It’s time for a Saturday morning walk in the sunshine. And contemplate my future.
With all the horrors in the world, what difference does it make?
–– Siggy, What About Bob? *
I set my cell phone reminder two or three months ago to blog every Saturday morning. It wasn’t a lofty goal and it seemed very practical at the time.
By Saturday evening, I would click complete just to get the glare of my nasty failure out of sight. Apparently, even practical goals require a measure of self-discipline.
There is only ONE cure for that. If only modern science would concoct a pill.
Self-promises have gone the way of former New Year’s resolutions. Due to failure to live out resolutions, I have since given up on making them. And October promises seem to have followed suit.
One of the frustrations encountered in this failed promise is that I don’t know what I am doing. Sure, there are all kinds of courses available to guide bloggers, but the prices are very hefty. Then there is the fact that I have nothing to say; maybe that is an excuse stemmed from laziness or other pressing deadlines to meet.
I do hope to become more serious about blogging––someday. But someday will never come unless I make it happen.
For now, blogging reminders will remain on my phone. They may be checked off without completion. The goal may be brought to fruition, even if it is only to say, “Saturday morning, I’m here.”
And as Siggy succinctly put it: With all the horrors in the world, what difference does it make? (What about Bob? movie)