Category Archives: Quotidian

Another Damn Day

Outstanding Future Rejections: 19

Current Rejections: 2, personal

Another day, another set of rejections.

First, another exceedingly nice rejection from New York Tyrant. I’m bummed. The story I sent them is one of my strongest. I rarely am so confident about my work but sometimes you just know when a story works.  Anyway, I will take another look at the story and see what I might do to improve it. I will send them more work.

I also received a really nice rejection from Copper Nickel for a different story; they were very interested in my work but alas, not so interested as to accept my story. I will try again.

I recently bought New York Tyrant 2.2 and I have to say, it’s such a grand magazine. There’s a story by Eva Talmadge in the issue that is exceptional. The paper feels good against my fingers–a bit thick, slick, lovely. I highly recommend reading an issue or five of New York Tyrant.

I wouldn’t mind an acceptance soon. My spirits are flagging.

Most people assume I’m not very girly but on the inside beats the fluttering heart of the girliest girl. She is undercover. Any way, my inner girlie girl loves product. She loves perfume. She loves pink. She is not crazy about dresses but does really enjoy Maxi Dresses paired with combat boots. Anyway, I was in Sephora about a year ago, maybe longer, and this psychotic little sales lady with perfect makeup starting blabbing about this new product line called Rx For Brown Skin and I fell for her spiel like the kind of customer they talk about in customer service training who will buy anything if you use certain key words like “pore minimizing” and “beauty enhancing” and “will make you look like Halle Berry.” I bought the whole set–the moisturizer, the face wash, the toner, the magic elixir–and though it was expensive, I was really into the product. I felt like it made my skin softer and clearer. CRISIS TIME: I’ve recently run out of face wash and I cannot find the product anywhere. It seems to have been discontinued and now, only fragments of the product line are available. I am being rejected by retail. I am devastated. I am now auditioning new products.

Does anyone else hate Russell from Survivor? He’s so overconfident, so… shockingly lacking in self-awareness. Also, Russell, we know you’re bald. Don’t be ashamed. Own it. Seeing him lose Survivor twice… I’m not proud but it felt great.

I got mentioned here at New Pages. I am flattered. A story of mine made it into the top ten for the StorySouth Million Writers Award with nine other exceptional stories. I will try not to mention this too many times but feel free to vote for me starting tomorrow, I think. I like to win.

I’ll Be Honest, I’m Just Going to Ramble About “Things” in This One

Outstanding submissions: 22

Rejections: 1, personal

Another really nice, efficient rejection from New York Tyrant–scary name, awesome editor/readers. I  bought an issue I’m looking forward to reading and perhaps getting a stronger sense of what they are looking for but also just to read good writing. It’s a fine looking magazine.

There’s so much I could talk about but most of it is personal so none of this will likely make sense or be interesting. At the same time, this is a blog and blogs are for babbling.

There’s the frustrating thing that reminds me of when my brothers and I were toddlers. We would have terrible tantrums, and my mother would just calmly put us in our playpen and wait us out. I wish I had her maturity and grace and a big playpen.

There’s the surprising thing that came out of left field inspiring thoughts haven’t had in like six or seven years. Odd, fun.

There’s the maybe exciting thing that might not be a thing but could be a thing and if its a thing I’d be super excited. That was a circle of empty language but if this thing becomes a Thing, I will let you all know.

There’s the dissertation thing that is just SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK still. Crack is wack. I have never been this blocked. I’m… shocked at how blocked I am. RHYME TIME!

There’s the gym thing…having reached a modest milestone, I have taken matters to another level by now going to the gym not once but twice a day sometimes. Don’t be impressed–I’m pretty lazy at the gym and mostly I do it now because its the one place where I don’t feel crazy. Instead of crying on the outside, I now cry on the inside and complain on the Internet. Excuse me, I bitch on the Internet.

Got into a treadmill fight this evening with a skinny girl next to me. She had great gym clothes; they matched. I wish these girls would learn, though. I will stay my fat ass on that treadmill until my legs fall off. STOP LOOKING AT MY CONTROL PANEL. Jesus. There we were, she was running and I was walking rather briskly. I took a picture of myself afterward–it wasn’t pretty. Anyway, I had been there for about 20 minutes minding my business, daydreaming about court side seats at a Lakers game during the upcoming finals and sitting next to Brad Pitt with my movie star husband Ben Rose. You all remember Ben, yes? We got on quite well, Brad and I. From 30-45 minutes, the girl next to me kept eyeballing me which made me wonder what her deal was. I sniffed myself to be sure I didn’t smell. She made me super self-conscious, like WHAT??? Bitches be trippin’! She kept running but she looked kind of peeved. I kept walking. In a race, I wouldn’t beat this girl on her worst day though to be fair, I was on a 5 incline so I felt like we were doing similar things. Plus, I was burning more calories. TAKE THAT. Anyway, at 49 minutes, I was pretty aggravated to be in this situation and very ready to be done. She was too I think because she started holding the handlebars. At 56 minutes, I thought, if I die here, I hope someone comes to my funeral. I was really sad  because I had gone to the gym at 11:15 am and so I was super tired the second time around and ready to nap. At 60 minutes, I looked at her and I could tell she was very determined. I didn’t think I could keep walking without biffing it so I conceded. Yes, you win, little lady. You’re hot and skinny and you won the treadmill fight. I hope you’re happy. She literally stopped her treadmill 30 seconds after I did. I wanted to say, BIYAAATCH! When I got home, I had an ice cold diet cherry pepsi. It was awesome.

There’s the moving thing, the OMG I have to pack up all this stuff thing, the I’m moving to a town where I don’t know anyone thing and all this is going to happen in two months thing.

There’s the what have I done with my life thing. I was talking to my colleague (and more importantly, very good friend) and we’re both leaving… a lot behind to go live alone in strange cities after busting our asses for our careers for 15 years or so. For both of us, staying is not an option without giving up the very thing we’ve worked so hard for. We won’t be alone forever but still, to be 35 and to only have a piece of paper to show for it is bittersweet. Professional success is not always compatible with personal happiness and I’m trying to be okay with that.  Leaving is going to be difficult; exciting but difficult.

I promise in a couple months, I’ll have a whole new set of interesting things to talk about. Forgive the repetitive nature of this blog. Change is coming. Until then, bear with me?

I had a fantastic weekend. Friday night, I had a conversation with an ex-convict with a mullet and the party in the back was a long white braid. He taught a friend and I about craps even though we weren’t looking for a lesson. There was also an inappropriate interaction with my chest. Overall, I felt pretty awesome about the exchange. I love meeting interesting, crazy people. He was in prison with “the brothers” and also discussed Spades, or the one Negro card game to rule them all. Fantastic.

On Saturday we watched SNL and it was amazing and we played a drinking game where we… just drank. Then we went to a bar and I watched a pool game. Then other things happened that you would not find interesting but I do. I thought the whole weekend was A+. I really let loose and I do mean loose for the first time in a while. I need to do that more often.

Let’s talk about a terrible poker hand from Friday. I lost a huge hand to a douchebag playing Jack Six. Yes, for those of you who play poker, SOMEONE PLAYED JACK SIX off suit. I had Q 8 suited. Flop came Q 8 6. I bet $75. He called that huge raise at a $1/2 table. He called holding his shitty little low pair.  The turn came J. So this guy had his two pair and I had my two pair. I bet $100. He called. I was like, does he have pockets and made his trips? I was baffled. I was on the button though so I felt pretty good about things. The river was a 6. This guy goes all in with $400 or so dollars. I have about $390 left in front of me. I think, there’s no way I can lose this hand. That’s my fault, such silly overconfidence, I should have not been in the hand. I called. When he showed his cards, he was super smug. He said, “I have a full house.”  I said, “Motherfucker” and got reprimanded. There’s a rule about no cursing at the poker table even though I do it all the time. That’s when I met my braided mullet friend. I had to leave the room, which was full of drunk idiots playing stupid poker. I made it all back at the Blackjack table so the story has a happy ending.

PSA: Saw I Hate Valentine’s Day over the weekend. It was dreckitude.

I do have two short stories up. At Spork, La Lonchera and at Dark Sky Magazine, Support Group. I’m very excited to be a part of both of these fine magazines.

The Rejection of the Self Is Necessary Sometimes

Outstanding submissions: 21

Rejections: It’s complicated.

Do you ever get sick of yourself? Do you ever think, self, you are sickening? Do you ever make yourself sick? I do all of these things. I reject myself today. I reject every single thing I feel inclined to think, say, or do. I think, self, please shut up. You are not interesting. Poor self. Do you ever feel like, self, you are not smart enough to be talking about anything. Shut up, self. Also, graduate school is a tricky trickster that tricks you into thinking you have important things to share but no you do not. Your weird little interests are interesting to you + approx. 3.3 other people. I have reached a point of saturation with myself. I literally bore myself. Sometimes, I hear myself talking and I think, you need to shut it right now, just shut it and stop letting words come out of your mouth. Normally I amuse myself but now, I would like a vacation from myself. My solution? To blog. Of course. I would like to fast forward to June 17, the day after my successful dissertation defense. I say successful in the hopes that if I conjure it, it shall be true. I would like to forget I have ever known the word dissertation. I would like to finish my dissertation. I would like to not spend day after day staring at the same stupid Word files filled with SELF SELF SELF. People say, you’re going to do great and this is going to be awesome and I think, what are you talking about? Your faith is misplaced. I would like to not have the pressure of this thing hanging over my head. It is like two big bricks slamming into my head over and over and over. I can never relax. My jaw is so sore because I’m always clenched stressing stressing stressing. Okay, there may be multiple factors for the jaw soreness. I maintain really well but inside please know I have lost it completely. I am cracking up. You do not need to acknowledge this because I’m aware of it. Self knows it is cuckoo for cocoa puffs. The worst part is, of course that this crack up is COMMON. This is just what happens at this point of a doctoral career. I cannot even lose my mind with originality. My distress is banal; sorry; pedantic. I think about this dissertation thing every single second. I am thinking about other things during this time, things I cannot discuss here but trust me, between this and that, my head is pretty busy. I would prefer to just think about the other things, the interesting things I love to think about, and sometimes during the day, I stand up from my desk in my dark, creepy little office and I close my eyes and I say, okay, for the next three minutes, you can think about these interesting things and you can send a fun little e-mail and then, back to work. I do not like the gym. I go but it is not a pleasurable place for me. The past couple weeks, I look forward to going because I know for 60-90 minutes I can try to not think about my research and how I’m going to talk about it for 150-200 pages and then, despite a deep fear of public speaking, defend that work to a room full of people judging me. Tonight, I was spinning (HUH?) and afterward, even though I felt as if I was broken in eleven places, I got on the treadmill and ambulated slowly and thought, OMFG, I am relaxed, on a treadmill and I did not want to get off because if I disembarked from the treadmill I would have to go home and think about the dissertation again. WTF? Most people think creative writing is part of my research but it is not so as you might imagine I have to use both sides of my brain and that is exhausting. They say by the time you finish your dissertation you’re sick of your research but I’m sick of it before then. I want to go back in time five years and smack self for coming up with this idea, thinking this idea was good, and convincing the committee this idea was good. SMACK SELF. SMACK SMACK SMACK. I can hardly even communicate in complete sentences. Why does anyone engage with me during this troubled time? Just shake your head and pat me on my head, give me some apple juice and graham crackers and send me to arts and crafts time where I will finger paint on the walls until it is time for my medication.

While all that is going on, there are some important matters we need to discuss.

Intervention. Are y’all watching this show? This week’s episode, which I watched tonight so I could (and I’m not proud of this) feel a little better about my ridiculous, self-obsessed life just killed me. I cried like a little baby because the whole situation was devastating. I can only cry when I’m watching TV or a movie so Intervention is a go to program for emotional purging; it’s either that or Folger’s coffee holiday commercials which will render me into a puddle of boo hoo hoo instantly.  This addict’s brother and sister both fatally OD’ed on drugs within five weeks of his intervention and he was still cheerily drugging himself to death while his parents killed themselves to save him. Intervention is always so tragic to me. So few of the addicts ever seem to get better. It all makes life feel very hopeless. It makes life seem so miserable. And the worst part about Intervention is when you learn about the back story. Sometimes, the addicts have lived through really horrific things and you think, well, of course you’re a drug addict but other times, like in tonight’s episode, the parents got divorced or in the episode a couple weeks ago the bulimic was teased harshly by her sister and compared to like the girl who was raped at 14, I wonder, at what point do you seek therapy and try to not kill yourself? Pot. Kettle. Black. I realize this. We all have problems we deal with inappropriately. No one knows this better than me but still… DUDE. Get it together before your parents have to bury their third and only surviving child. Gah.

Ice Cube is going to be producing and having a recurring role on a television series version of Are We There Yet? There were not one but two movies that were so… black movie bad. If Cube weren’t so damn fine…

Just to be clear, this is Ice Cube:

I cannot claim to be highly versed in rap but I know enough to know that NWA Ice Cube would time travel to 2010 and knock out TBS Ice Cube’s teeth. NWA Ice Cube would make TBS Ice Cube MELT. Also, back in the day, NWA Ice Cube had a Jheri Curl. He was so hardcore, he permed his hair in tightly wrapped coils and maintained a soft sheen by keeping that curl juicy with product. That’s Straight Outta Compton for real.

If you aren’t familiar with the Jheri Curl, let me educate you:

Sometimes, when I’m walking around feeling bad ass, this is my theme music:

Who wants to come over and watch Coming to America aka Best Movie EVER?

Also, for the love of all that is holy, WHAT is going on here?

And here?

At the end of the Lakers game tonight, Kobe tried to “explain” this… whatever it is and said, “Photoshop, man” or something equally profound. Photoshop and/or airbrushing does not put you in these outfits, sir. I think Kobe has reached that level of wealth where he is no longer in touch with reality.

We’ve seen this before:

I feel much better. Thank you for listening and indulging in my mental decompensation.

In Which I Brag and Expound on the Minutiae of My Life At Length

Outstanding submission: 17

Rejections: 1, personal

I received a really nice, really personal rejection from Puerto Del Sol. It is always nice to see an acknowledgment that my work has been read and considered by a human. The phrases “great intensity” and “impressive style” were used and let’s face it. I love compliments so I will be sending them more when submissions re-open.

You may notice I take a lot of pictures. I do so because I’ve lived through some hard things and the past few years have been the best of my life and I don’t want to forget any of it. I’m going to brag now.

On Friday I received a little recognition from the university and was named a woman of promise (?!) and there was a fancy luncheon and I got a gift bag. The gift bag is cute but I forgot to take a picture of it. Trust me on this. The food was, of course, terrible. I pretended to be a vegetarian. I had to get my picture taken. I had to stand up in front of a room full of strangers so that was pretty traumatizing. I got through it by thinking about my cute gift bag and how excited I was to get home and see what was inside. I didn’t want to be tacky and do that like right there in front of everyone. As I sat through the lunch and then lots and LOTS of talking, I kept thinking, maybe there’s something magical inside that bag. Maybe there’s a little tiny baby inside that bag. Maybe there’s money in that bag. You will be sad, perhaps, to know that inside the bag was a program, some promotional items from the university like a pencil, a very nice glass object that I will use as a paperweight in my new job and a university-branded water bottle that I will use at the gym. Below you will see the empty room. We were all standing awkwardly in the corner waiting to be told what to do.

Below is what I ate for lunch. The theme was Asian cuisine, approached with a broad, industrial culinary stroke. It was sad. You can’t see my face here, but after I took this picture, I dejectedly moved food around the plate and thought that this was good for my weight loss project. I mean really. The food had a disconcerting gray pallor to it.

I was cheered by tulips.

For dessert, we were served a mystery substance. I was very frightened by this. I asked the professor sitting next to me, who is on my committee, “What is this?” There may have been panic in my voice. I worried that the substance might morph into a terrible alien creature and attack us. Then I poked at it with a spoon. It was cold and congealed and shifted slightly when it came into contact with pressure.

I eventually learned that it was some kind of sorbet. Terrifying.

The luncheon itself was quite nice. A bunch of fantastic alumnae who have accomplished awesome things where inducted into the President’s Alumni Council and then the women of promise students were recognized and we got certificates. Academia loves to bestow certificates. You are excellent! Here is a piece of paper to commemorate that excellence! I keep all mine in a folder not because I don’t care but because I don’t want to be obnoxious and get them all framed. I have a mother for that sort of thing. In all seriousness, I was very honored to be recognized. Only one person from every department is selected. I felt special on Friday. I’m not done bragging, I’m afraid.

That night, my department chair and his wife threw a lovely reception for the five of us in our program who are completing our PhDs this semester and moving on to tenure track positions this fall. Look at this fancy spread in their terribly fancy home.

I am, believe it or not, a very picky eater so I murmured pleasantly and just admired the display and thought about hotdogs. The universe was determined to make me lose 7.1 pounds that day and it’s for the best.

We are blissfully removed from lots of nonsense up here in the UP but the Tea Party has managed to find us up here in the North Woods. The good thing about this sign, I suppose, is that all the words are spelled correctly.

The books I ordered from AWP finally arrived, my having shipped them. I am pleased but have had not the time to really enjoy my loots. See how I pluralized loot? That’s a quirk I get from my parents who butcher English in ways that keep my brothers and I endlessly amused–I mean, we’ve basically re-enacted my dad’s NPR interview about 511 times. My dad calls rubble rubbles so now I try to pluralize everything. LOOTS.

Ummm, how cute is that bag, for reals? PLURAL.

I was feeling pretty good over the weekend and J was craving something sweet and I was feeling like baking only I had to bake something I would not eat. I said, if I do this you have to worship me all week and do as I say and he said, how is that different from other weeks. Sassy. I made fudge. I admit I tasted it. It was awesome.

On Tuesday night, I taught my last class at MTU. Around half an hour before class one of my students stopped in and asked if she could borrow my key to get into the classroom. She wanted to just sit there and study quietly. I said sure, no problem. I continued grading until class time, gathered my belongings, and went to class where I saw my entire class, there, on time, in a room filled with balloons and cakes and cupcakes and other treats. They threw me a party, y’all. I was so shocked I had to excuse myself. I ran to my office, cried a little bit, grabbed my camera (of course!) and then we partied. I can complain with the best of them but at the end of the day, I am truly blessed. No matter how much I bitch, please know, I recognize my blessings.

So yeah, that happened. And it happened at the end of a really hard day when all I wanted was to do something violent or run into a wall or lose some teeth so it meant that much more. I’m still overwhelmed by the gesture and the elaborateness of the festivities and I’m humbled to know that maybe I’m a good teacher and make an impact once in a while. Seriously! They baked those cakes. They used fondant. They made little frosting flowers. OMG.

I have a story in Sententia #1. You should buy Sententia. The issue is stacked with talent including work from Mary Miller, who is like my favorite writer behind the woman of my dreams who is the alpha and the omega of my favorites. I would like to talk about this more but I don’t want to make things awkward. Just understand that there’s writer crushes and girl crushes and then there’s THIS and I’m all about THIS.

Here is an excerpt from my story in Sententia:

Ever. Happily. After.

This is a fairy tale. There is a princess who is not a princess but we will call her a princess because every fairy tale has a princess. Her name is Tanya. She’s the daughter of a mechanic and a housewife. She has two brothers and two sisters. She is the middle child. She works at the JC Penney’s hair salon. She has a pretty face. she is often told because she is pretty face fat, which is not to be confused with Discovery Channel fat, but she is large enough she can’t buy clothes at Old Navy. Tanya is not unhappy. She stands on her feet for eight, nine, ten hours a day listening to old women gum their way through their sentences because they left their dentures at home. She rolls their thin white hair with tiny rollers even though she thinks putting a perm in someone’s hair is a crime, a real fucking crime. Still. There’s not much she can do about it. Old women want what old women want, and at the JC Penney’s hair salon, they want their hair tightly coiled to their dry scalps so when they wake up after falling asleep in the oversized chairs in their living rooms, their hair still looks freshly done. Other women come to the salon too. They come to get their nails done or to get cheap A-line hair cuts or blow outs and it makes them feel, for an hour or two, like they’re not in a small town at the end of the world, which is the edge of Northern Michigan. The salon is brightly lit with shiny faux-marble floors and mirrors lining three walls and in the middle, rows of sinks abutted by hair dryers. There’s something fantastic about the lighting in the JC Penney’s salon—no matter what her physical flaws, the warm lights and the reflective surfaces make a woman glow and look like the most beautiful woman in the world.

This is a fairy tale. There is a prince who is not a prince but we will call him a prince because every fairy tale has a prince. His name is Elmer. He’s the son of a drunk and a coward but it could have been worse. That’s what Elmer tells himself when he thinks about his life. He works at Applebee’s and he loves his job. He tells himself that too because the work is steady and there’s free food to be had and because he has a small weed habit and his dealer lets Elmer pay for product with Applebee’s gift cards. The dealer, whose name is Tommy Tommy though no one knows why, loves Applebee’s because he sees the restaurant for what it is—a place where you can have microwave-prepared food brought to you.  Tommy Tommy recognizes the hustle and he appreciates it. Elmer also loves his job because every time a member of the wait staff leaves the kitchen, they have to say, “walking out.” Elmer amuses himself by saying “walking out” in a different voice or intonation each time. This habit does not endear Elmer to his coworkers. Elmer has long hair. It is long and thick, hangs well past his shoulders. He is very proud of his hair. It makes him feel like an outlaw, especially when he’s biking to work on his ten-speed. When Elmer was in high school, he dated a girl named Cindy Daavettilla and she always tasted like mouthwash and even though she wouldn’t have sex with Elmer or even give him any head, she did brush his hair every afternoon after school. As she brushed his hair and worked product through the long locks she said, “No matter what happens between us, promise me you’ll never cut your hair.” Elmer’s heart pounded fiercely when Cindy said such things and the hairs on his arms stood on end. Her words sounded a lot like love so he promised and even after they broke up only seven weeks after they started dating, he continued to keep his word. Now, nine years later, Elmer’s hair is so long the weight of it makes his neck hurt, but he remembers Cindy sitting on the edge of his bed, his head in her lap, her skinny knees pressing against his shoulders. The memory of it makes the pain go away.

Let’s Keep It Classy

Outstanding submissions: 17

Rejections: 1

I queried The Missouri Review a second time and my story had been rejected and an e-mail was sent only I never received that e-mail. I kind of want to see that e-mail or know when it was sent so I know just how long it took past the original 100 day query and the 257 day response. Was there a personal note? Do they want to see more? Did they address me Dear Writer? So many unknowns. I’m now mad about the $3 submission fee but I will get over that next week when I send them something else. I met a nice person from TMR at AWP, named Michael Nye. It was great to see that humans are involved in the editorial process. I had, to that point, assumed it was a legion of highly literate robots handling business.

I’m feeling pretty frustrated with my writing right now. I’ve said this before. I’m sure it’s a bit repetitive at this point but I’m pretty sure that constant frustration is one of the hallmarks of writing. Relative to all the great things about writing, the frustration is insignificant but it nags at me. I want to take my writing to the next level and yet things aren’t clicking yet so I have to be patient and focus on improving my work. I have to walk before I run. I have to remember these things even though I want to run. I want to run fast and hard. Also, I would like to secure the services of an agent. I would like to work on my novel which is an expansion of one of my favorite short stories. I would like to have the time to accomplish these goals but that cannot happen until I finish my dissertation which I intend to finish by May 5 so I can defend on June 16 at which point I will enjoy waking up without the cloud of the dissertation hanging over my head raining on my parade, putting clouds in my coffee. Have I expressed enough clichéd sentiments yet? Ultimately, I need to temper my ambition with reality, but not so much that I become complacent. If you have any leads on how to accomplish all this, let me know, and we’ll market it and get rich.

My hair continues to be a source of frustration. My current theory is that the shedding is dissertation related.

I hate the show CSI: Miami. I hate the ginger who plays Horatio. When I look at him, I think of the word “smarmy.” He is an overactor.

VH-1 is trying to class up their offerings for black people but I’m sorry, there’s not enough bleach to ever scrub away the memories of Flavor of Love and For the Love of Ray J.

I have a couple things out in print right now.

In Annalemma 6: Sacrifice, my story “How.”

Here’s an excerpt from that story:

After the bar closes Hanna wipes everything down and washes all the glasses and empties the ashtrays. She and Laura, who also works at the supper club, will sit on the hood of Hanna’s car in the back alley and hold hands. Hanna will lean against Laura’s shoulder and inhale deeply and marvel that her friend can still smell good after hours in that dark, smoky space where men don’t hear the word no. If the night is empty enough, they will kiss for a very long time, until their cold lips become warm, until the world falls away, until their bodies feel like they will split at the heart.  She and Laura never talk about these moments but when Hanna is plotting her escape, she is not going alone.

Hanna’s twin sister Anna often waits up for Hanna. She worries. She always has. She’s a nervous woman. As a child, she was a nervous girl. Their mother, before she left, liked to say that Hanna got all the sisu, the fierce strength that should have been shared by both girls. Hanna and Anna always knew their mother didn’t know them at all. They were both strong and fierce. Anna’s husband worked at the paper mill in Niagara until some foreign company bought it and closed it and then most everyone in town lost their homes because all the work that needed doing was already done. When Anna called, nervous as always, to ask if she and her family could stay with Hanna, she had not even posed the question before Hanna said, “Yes.”

Hanna and Anna are not openly demonstrative but they love each other wildly. In high school, Anna dated a boy who didn’t treat her well. When Hanna found out, she put a good hurting on him. Hanna pretended to be her sister and she took the bad boy up to the trails behind the county fairgrounds. She got down on her knees and started to give him head and she told him if he ever laid a hand on her sister again and before she finished that sentence, she bit down on his cock and told herself she wouldn’t stop biting down until her teeth met. She smiled when she tasted his blood. He screamed so softly it made the hairs on her arm stand on end. Hanna still sees that boy around town once in a while. He’s not a boy anymore but he walks with a hitch and always crosses to the other side of the street when he sees her coming.

On the nights when Hanna and Laura sit on the hood of Laura’s car and kiss until their cold lips warm, Anna stands outside on the front porch, shivering, waiting. Her cheeks flush. Her heart flutters around her chest awkwardly. Anna asks Hanna if she’s seeing another man and Hanna tells her sister the truth. She says, “No,” and Anna frowns. She knows Hanna is telling the truth. She knows Hanna is lying. She cannot quite figure out how she’s doing both at the same time. The sisters smoke a cigarette together, and before they go in, Anna will place a gently hand on Hanna’s arm. She’ll say, “Be careful.” Hanna will kiss her twin’s forehead, and she’ll think, “I will,” and Anna will hear her.

I have two copies of Annalemma 6 to give away. If you want one, say so in the comments. Otherwise, go buy the awesome issue, damnit.

I also have a story in Broken Plate entitled “Technicolor Girl.”

3.

When Rosa gets home, she stands on the balcony off her bedroom, places the latest telegram in a basket beneath a paper lantern. She lights it afire with a stick of incense, and watches as it flies away leaving a streak of bright white orange against the dark night sky.

4.

At night, Rosa thinks of Dr. Canard, the specialist her parents consulted when she was a child. He adored Rosa and the curiosity of her, the perfect smoothness of her gray skin. He would lift her into the air, twirl her around once, sit her on his examination table.  He would palpate her arms, thin legs feeling for veins rolling beneath the cellular sheets of gray, curious as to the color(s) her blood ran, the tint of her organs, the hue of her breath.

5.

Rosa fell off the roof of her childhood home at the age of nine. Her tibia broke cleanly, piercing her gray skin. She was inconsolable as her father ran her to the doctor’s office, yellow tears streaking angrily down her sunken cheeks. Before he set the bone, Dr. Canard made a daguerreotype of her broken body, her open wound. She stared at him as he held the camera holding polished silver plate over her bleeding leg, waited as the image of it burned. She enjoyed his disappointment when he learned her blood ran red.

You should buy this, too because it is also excellent.

And We’re Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Rejection Programming

Outstanding submissions: 13

Rejections: 1, form

One Story has once again let me know that they are not interested in buying that which I have to sell. I must admit this market baffles me. A personal response eludes me. The story that was rejected is a long one, nearly 7,500 words and it’s intense. I know this particularly story is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I am pretty emotionally invested in the work, probably more than I should be so this rejection certainly stings.  I’m wracked with a bit of doubt as to whether or not this story can find a home.

I’ve submitted to One Story three times in six years. There’s one story (ha ha) I should have never sent them, but the other two definitely fall within their range I think. Alas. I will keep trying.

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There are approx. three hairs left on my head. I feel like Cindy Lou Who, without the blonde hair, just those two little hairs standing straight up. When I move this summer I will finally have access to a dermatologist to sort this follicle situation out but in the interim, my fragile self-esteem is suffering. You have to understand just how thick my hair used to be to truly grasp the level of trauma here.

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I’ve had stories at The Missouri Review and The New Yorker for eight months.

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AWP is imminent. PANK merch has been shipped to the hotel. Reservations and other arrangements have been made. The only thing left to do is show up.

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I get jealous (but not resentful) sometimes. I want it all; I want it now.

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I wrote about my love for Little House on the Prairie, Dear Everybody and Normal People Don’t Live Like This. It turned into quite the wide-ranging discussion some of which I did not really understand. I found that discussion very interesting though. Baumann’s post was also a valuable addition to the conversation but he wasn’t the inspiration for the post. It was the latter two books above that compelled me to write about good stories. I wish I had the time to really address the fantastic comments on all the posts but I don’t.  I will say I feel that some people only picked the parts of my post they intensely disagreed with and completely ignored everything else. No one discussed much about the awesome books! I feel like people took what was my personal opinions and certainly not the sum of my opinions and assumed that my opinions were meant to be incontrovertible. I suppose we all do that sometimes. I certainly do. I love to argue.

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May We All Be Washed Clean

Before you read this please know that I am not crazy. I’ve discussed the dire laundromat situation in the UP but I will recap. Once upon a time, there were three laundromats in a two-mile radius (the entire metro area) known as Mug O Mat, Rape O Mat and Murder O Mat. These laundromats had several things in common–they were filthy, the equipment was old and rusty and rarely worked, and they were scary. The Mug O Mat, which closed suddenly and without notice about 6 months ago, was pretty dirty but it wasn’t as bad as the other two. You got the sense you might get mugged there but could be generally confident that nothing worse would happen to you. The Rape O Mat, closer to campus, has no floor and creepy equipment and generally gives off the vibe that is only intriguing if you’re feeling a little rape-y and not in a fun way. Finally, the Murder O Mat is about a block away from my apartment. It’s filthy. Every surface is covered in crud. You could be mugged, raped or murdered–the mayhem trifecta. The bathroom, if you could call it that, fills me with a panic I can hardly describe. There are scary people there and sometimes people sleep inside (which is sad). There’a  one-eyed pan handler with a huge scar on his face and then there’s this TERRIFYING little person who’s about 5 feet tall, and he sags his jeans and wears “urban” clothing and he does this weird thug walk and his whole face is covered in a beard like a space creature and he wears a hat pulled down hard over his eyes and its weird because it’s like, a. do you know you’re white and b. where are your facial features? I saw him there about a week ago and I almost peed myself. I haven’t been back since. Terrifying. Anyway, when you go to the Murder O Mat, your clothes never smell clean and when I accidentally drop clothes on the floor, I have, in the past, quite literally considered how much I valued the item in question versus my health. Health always wins. I’ve edited my wardrobe considerably thanks to clumsiness.

I have a point here. The other day, I was driving and in the distance I saw a sign.

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Hark! White bright light in the yonder distance there?

I slammed on the brakes. I’m lucky no one was behind me. I could hardly breathe, the moment was so fragile. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and when I opened them, the sign was still there. I immediately texted my bestie Joanna who is equally passionate about laundry facilities and by passionate I mean she has a laundry tote and uses multiple kinds of detergent. The next day, she went on a reconnaissance mission and reported back excellent news–the new laundromat was clean, functional, well-lit, open and modern.

Tonight, Joanna and I went on a laundry expedition and it was excellent. I did  not invite J because I didn’t want him to ruin the moment with commentary somehow implying that it’s crazy to be brought to tears over a nice laundromat.

The machines are HUGE and CLEAN and SHINY. You can use credit cards to pay for the laundry. The change machine? Works. The supply dispensary? Works. The laundry carts? Roll. The vending machines? Stocked in the last century. Also, there is wifi. I took about 100 pictures.

Continue reading

In Which a Dark Secret Is Revealed

Outstanding Submissions: 13

Rejections: 1, personal

Post Road has passed on a story of mine that has been rejected more times than I care to count. And its always the same rejection–we like your writing but w

e do not like this story. When am I going to take the hint? In the meantime, I take comfort in knowing Post Road is very impressed by my writing and looks forward to my next submission.

Let’s not make small talk today, friends. Instead, we shall talk about the two hours I’ve spent on my hair today. Last night, I went to the coop and indulged my very VERY secret hippie dippie tendencies. I don’t like to admit this but I do prefer to eat organic when I am at home. I am fat healthy, okay? At home. Where I can hide it. I got some sad looking tomatoes because the organic produce up here is pathetic. Also, I buy hippie product so I got some very expensive organic shampoo and conditioner (super sexy bottles) and lavender oil and a significant quantity of Vitamin D. I could have held a fucking drum circle.

Today, I rubbed lavender oil into my scalp and did some incantations and meditated deeply. Then I washed my hair with this tea tree hippie shampoo and conditioner (which smells fantastic. When my scalp reached optimum tingle as per the instructions on the bottle, I started dancing in the shower. I literally started dancing because I felt like something important was happening. Also, I was listening to New York State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys and Garth Brooks and really, who wouldn’t dance under such circumstances? Then I put another kind of conditioner on my hair just to make sure all my bases were covered and then I applied some Carol’s Daughter product (also expensive and organic) and now, my hair smells great and looks bouncy and shiny and I am poor. I feel good about it though. Hair is so important, friends. Hair is way more important than money. I’m off to the casino now with friends.

PS: I do not use hippie house cleaning products. When it comes to scrubbing toilets and such I want industrial germ killing stuff that might give me a fatal disease or a significant tumor in my abdomen that grows hair and/or teeth.

Je Suis Désolé—Dark Days of Rejection Abound

Outstanding submissions: 9

Rejections: 3, personal

The days grow darker, friends and the rejections continue to pile up.

In this week’s low  self-esteem chronicles, personal rejections from Potomac Review (we enjoyed this piece IT ISN’t RIGHT), Agriculture Reader (no, but please do query again if we do another issue) and NOO Journal (nice emotion, sneaky ending). I appreciate the personal responses, I do, but I’m at a bit of a loss with how to proceed. I feel like I have nothing good in the hopper. I’m hardly sending any work out even though I’m sitting on like 20 stories I could be submitting.  Je n’ai plus d’espoir. Je suis désolé, désolé, désolé. I am a broken record. I could use some good news. I want to be a good writer with good writing to send into the world. I am, perhaps, a bad writer.

I have taken quite ill this week. My nasal passages are completely swollen shut. My lips are extraordinarily chapped. My face is dry and sore.  I have a bit of a cough. I feel weak and shaky. I have no appetite. My tongue is swollen. I am the picture of… something unpleasant. Today at the gym while working out with my trainer, I felt so tired and gross, I thought, this is rock bottom.

And yet, I keep getting compliments, like last night, out at dinner with friends, one of them said, “Wow you look amazing tonight,” and I thought she was joking so I got quite huffy about it and then sheepish when I realized she was serious.  Something about my sickly pallor is quite lovely indeed.

I would say more but I’m working on my dissertation and still with the job search (which is fruitful but quite hectic) and personal writing and planning my spring semester class which, blessed be, only meets once a week! Were we to diagram the sentences in this post, a grammar teacher would probably have a psychotic break.

There’s a new season of The Bachelor. I wrote about the first episode.

There’s a new Funny Women column by Susan Schorn up at The Rumpus. Go, read, enjoy.

There’s Always a First Rejection Each Year and Verily, It Cuts the Deepest

Outstanding Submissions: 11

Rejections: 1, personal

I was wondering who would deliver my first rejection of the year and when it would arrive. I was terribly terribly curious. I knew in my heart it would come from a magazine I love—a magazine where I desperately wanted to place my writing. I am so glad I have that kind of foresight. My first rejection has come from Redivider. It arrived on January 2. What can I say? Some rejections do hurt more than others. There is a bit of good news–they enjoyed the story (but it was a bad fit AGAIN), and they admire my writing and welcome future submissions. That’s great but oh I am sad. I love Redivider. I think my writing is a good fit for Redivider. I believe I can fly. There is a Santa Claus.

I have spent this weekend recovering from my MLA interviews and the various traumas encountered in Philadelphia. My flight out of Philly was canceled on 12/31 so instead of being back in freezing Houghton on New Year’s Eve but at least with someone I generally like, I was stuck, alone, in my hotel for another night. Fortunately, I had written a serious letter of complaint to the manager of the Loews so they let me stay for free for that extra night! I write really good letters, it must be said. I am effective with the epistolary approach. I spent NYE sulking. I cannot lie. I was not able to rise above the somber occasion. I tried to sleep. I bought Couples Retreat for $13.99 (OMFG). I watched TV but not Dick Clark or Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin or any of that stuff. I watched a lot of drama unfold between 1 and 4 am through the peephole in my hotel room door. Things I saw included girls in tight dresses stumbling about in impossibly high heels having some adorably stupid conversations; two boys wearing white shirts and skinny black ties fighting RIGHT OUTSIDE MY DOOR breaking beer bottles over each others heads; lots of jawing back and forth and the exchange of very serious words (You don’t know me, son! NO, You don’t know ME, son!); the drunk stumbly girls trying to pull the boys apart; the hotel staff largely ignoring the rumble; people saying Happy New Years to their invisible friends; drunk sloppy people making out and otherwise fornicating.

It really sucks (but awesomely) to have a room right off of the elevator banks. I got no sleep so by the time I checked out at 4:30, I was exhausted and ready to cry. Fortunately, I held it together.  I went outside, flagged a cab down, and the cabbie was all, “Please pay me in cash,” and that was irritating but I had to get to the airport for my 5:50 flight so I acquiesced. At the airport, I checked in, got patted down quite intensely, and was so relieved when the plane actually took off, I offered up a brief prayer of gratitude. On the second flight, from Detroit to Green Bay, the plane was so tiny I could not stand upright. I was like a behemoth in that mofo. Being 6’3″ is overrated. Also, I have shrunk an inch. I used to be 6’4″. I’m pretty sad about that inch. I don’t know where I left it.  Anyway. After arriving in Green Bay, I had to drive home, which took about 3 1/2 hours and when I got home I found that the Christmas rain had frozen into a shell of ice that was covered with a new layer of snow and I looked around and slipped around and I was so happy. My friend was waiting for me with a cold Diet Cherry Pepsi and I was able to quickly forget how depressing the 2009 holidays were for me. I am the queen of first world problems. I mean really, this is what I have to complain about? Thank goodness for perspective.

I saw It’s Complicated and it was a smart, wonderful, mature movie. I haven’t laughed that much at a movie in some time.

I have a very short story in the new issue of DIAGRAM.

There is a new issue of Emprise Review.

Erin Fitzgerald put together an awesome list of stories that eerily mirrors a similar list I would put together.