A Tiny Tale

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An actual mouse I saved by moving it from the yard to the pile of junk beyond the fence.

I wrote the following SHORT STORY on Christmas Day, 2017.

Snow showed up Christmas Eve and turned the local roads into skating rinks, so we stayed home instead of venturing forth for roast beast and mulled Keystone Light. I had read an account of a man who saved a mouse on some Animals-R-Grrrreat site. [Dodo? Dog Heirs? ???] The following slipped forth. There are no ghosts or goblins or zombies. It’s just a tale of a lonely man and a hurt mouse. 

A TINY TALE

The mouse sits in the middle of the floor, a dejected little creature. I catch my breath, understandably startled. Mice tend to rush off and hide, not sit and wait for whatever end I might decide for them. I approach, wondering about poison. A poisoned mouse would be so caught up in dying, it would not mind someone nearby watching. I notice the mouse has a twisted, bloody back leg as I look down at it. Gray fur, a white bib, large ears and suffering black eyes. My kitchen linoleum seems a killing floor and the mouse has come here to surrender. It just waits for the killing blow to the head, the jolt of electricity, the bolt into the brain. I have traps set out. I always hope they kill instantly. They don’t. Sometimes a mouse is caught by a small arm or by the tail. And if I do not remember to check, they languish for hours until they die of fright or pain. Or perhaps they just give up. Once I found half a tail still caught in a trap’s metal frame.

The mouse shivers but does not run off as I bend to get a closer look in the hard dawn light. Light in winter hurts my eyes, light in summer welcomes me. The light changes in winter, that’s what I know. Snow arrived yesterday in time for Christmas Eve. The world around me, familiar roads and dirty sidewalks and filthy alleys, rests beneath a layer of snowflakes. It seems somehow so fitting to have snow at Christmas. Even though the origins of this holiday came from the desert lands of the Middle East. As far as I know, Jesus never threw snowballs or went sledding. I look at the box yet on the table, that held small gifts from indifferent relatives mailed to me because of obligation. Generic gift boxes of spiced sausages and tiny blocks of smoked gouda or bacon-infused cheddar. Do I not have some smaller box I could line with something soft? The mouse does not move. Quick small breaths in and out, in and out.

Though I am careful, the mouse clearly experiences pain. The small face twitches, the eyes close shut. The mouse I set down in the small box, full of ripped up toilet paper. It sits there, wondering why I am prolonging its life. I get a cotton swab, dip it into some hydrogen peroxide, apply this to the mangled leg. Foam. The mouse actually drags itself into the torn paper. I try not to touch it, thinking my presence just stresses the creature out even more. A drink, a bit of something to nibble as it rests or as it dies anyway. I have an eye dropper, perhaps a bit of cracker. I brush the end of the dropper against the mouse’s tiny mouth. After a bit, it swallows. Heat spreads itself in my chest, relief and resignation that I am now committed to saving this one mouse’s life.

I put the lid on the box, with holes punched in that lid by a butter knife. I have no vet training and don’t know what to do for such a messed up limb as that. Would it be kinder to just kill the little thing? But somehow, I cannot bring myself to execute the dainty, gray and white, little beast just yet. The rest of it seems fine; it’s just that bad leg. A cat? A trap? An owl? Except. How can a three-legged mouse survive a world of human traps and predators? There are three-legged pets the world over. But a damaged little prey animal would quickly succumb to something. I begin the coffee and contemplate that small box, full of a suffering little thing. If it dies, then it will die with its thirst quenched, in the warm soft dark of a box.

My immediate family has long been gone and perhaps that is why I am reacting so strongly to a common pest like this. A longing for something I never really had? Perhaps or just my natural kindness. My Midwest fabled politeness? I have long grown used to my solitary life, to the roughness of my hands and the roughness of my life. I work in a slaughterhouse and I cut up livestock. They come to me already dead but even I wonder if whatever animated them watches us cut their bodies into steaks and chops and briskets and roasts. If there is a God, God does not live in a slaughterhouse. That much I know to be true. I hope the God everyone argues over so viciously does not live in the slaughterhouses of the world. I hope that with real hope. I hope God is not looking out of those wide dark eyes or trapped behind the dead glazed pupils, asking us to see Him finally. Where do such thoughts come from. The coffee perks away.

I make my breakfast, oatmeal with bananas cooked into it. I make toast. I drink coffee. I check on the mouse, who huddles down but does not try to escape. I give it some more water, being patient. It does not know I am trying to help it. It only knows I scooped it up, hurt it further by pouring something painful on its leg and then trapped it in a box full of strange paper. It swallows, I see it. The cracker is yet untouched. As long as it drinks, I think. I remember having one of those watering deals for my one and only pet, a guinea pig. A metal spout they could lick to get a drink, attached to a plastic bottle. My guinea pig, named Ralph, lived almost a month. It got sick, and then I found it dead in its cage. My mother threw the stiff red and white body away. We lived in Omaha, in a tiny apartment and there was nowhere to bury it. No yard or soft grassy green place. Just tossed in with the coffee grinds, the potato peelings and the overdue bill notices. It will stink, John, she told me as she yanked the trash bag up and had me take it out to join the rest in the dumpster behind the ratty apartment building we used to live in. She had been a harsh, hard woman, German on both sides. She had no time for feelings or not doing what needed to be done. Her hands, I remember, were rougher than mine are now. They cracked and had little red fissures. She covered them with cold cream and tried not to show how they hurt her. She got the flu, it turned into some kind of awful pneumonia and then days later she died. I was fifteen and became a ward of the state of Nebraska. No one wanted me, my distant relatives never responded to the state’s pleas to come get me, and I went to work as soon as I turned eighteen. The same story of a lot of kids.

I give the mouse another drink and leave a small bottle cap full of water for it. I had agreed to a Christmas Day shift so that Todd, who had a family, could drink whiskey sours and eat turkey with his in-laws. Others who didn’t care about Christmas or didn’t really have families also took shifts today. The work would be light and yet drag. Work dragged on any holiday when the place stayed open to process carcasses. Maybe I should take the mouse with me. And what? Keep checking on it to see if it had died yet? How could I explain the small forlorn mouse I had adopted? I find I don’t want to be stared at or noticed by others. I find I hate such attention, that I’m not brave or bold. I am a sheep being led to some slaughter, and maybe I’ll protest a bit before they put a bolt in my sheep head.

It’s a mouse, I argue with myself. Why do my eyes sting?

I returned home ten hours later. I smelled of blood. My hands ached. My back ached, my spine had an ache deep in the heart of it. How much longer could I do this awful work? I am not a young man anymore. The roads proved an icy nightmare and I had slid about to and fro from work. My apartment smells of fried potatoes. I had made myself an entire panful Christmas Eve, with onions and some of that mail cheese. My tiny fake tree sits in the far corner of my living room. The picture of my mother watches me from the wall.

The mouse had curled itself up in a corner of that box. The water looked lower and the cracker had been nibbled. It goes very still, its respiration very swift. The leg looks mangled and torn, twisted strangely, both gnawed and broken, perhaps. Had I expected it to be magically healed by the application of peroxide? Maybe some antibiotic cream. I had some. It could be smeared on with a cotton swab. More peroxide to keep the leg from getting infected. Why are you doing this, something in me had to ask. Because it’s the right thing to do, I answered back.

I doctor that leg as best I can, trying to be gentle. Me, a big, rambling bear of a man, trying to be gentle with a tiny morsel of life. A foaming, the peroxide biting deep. Then I attempt to get some antibiotic ointment on that leg as the mouse clearly wishes I’d just go away and leave it alone. Why does it seem the mouse is letting me help it, though? The tiny black eyes blink carefully, the ears swivel, the little whiskers move and shiver. I try not to move or handle that leg, that tiny tiny leg.

I take a shower and wash off the day’s horrors from me. The endless coming of dead bodies to be chopped and sawed and pried apart. I have never had another job. I know of no other way to earn enough to pay my rent and pay my bills. I was never good in school and have no real talents. I cannot sing or draw. I am not that good with numbers. I can wield a bone saw and I can carve up a steer and I can cook eggs. My list of accomplishments is very small. I developed a drinking problem but I gave it up three years ago, when I hit my fiftieth birthday. Being a fifty year old drunk did not appeal to me. My last steady girl seems ages ago. Claire, who had a tattoo of a heart right above her heart. She moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to be closer to her sister who had leukemia. She stopped calling me, and I don’t know if her sister survived or not.

I change the toilet paper. I get the mouse another cracker and a bit of banana. Do mice eat bananas?

If I need the internet and I never do, I go to the local library. I have a cell phone but hardly anyone but work calls me. I need something like an old-fashioned set of encyclopedias. What do mice eat? I don’t know. I wonder if any vets are working today. I have no numbers to call. It’s not like the old days, when you had a phone book. I miss phone books. I am rather behind on technology and all that. I miss phone books.

I go to bed early, after another check on my little hurt guest. I also spring all my traps. I find a dead mouse in one and the stiff body seems an actual mocking of my attempts to save the mouse I placed in that tiny box. I take the dead out to the garbage bin everyone uses. We pile our garbage bags and refuse inside and the garbage men arrive once a week to collect it, for which we all pay a small collective fee. The wind kicks up, more snow arriving. I sleep and have my usual dreams of imagining I am part of some giant family and it’s summer. It’s always summer in my dreams. That warm, gentle light of summer.

The mouse has survived the night.

It drags itself into the little cave it made in the toilet paper. I doctor the leg again, being ever so careful. I change the toilet paper. Maybe that stuff they use in teddy bears? What is that called? I eat scrambled eggs, with a bit of the extra fancy smoked gouda sprinkled on it, drink my black coffee and feel something like peace. I hear little movements from that box today. I even hear that cracker being munched a bit. There are no other sounds except the usual creaks of my apartment, the rising and falling whine of the wind full of snow and sleet, and the nibbling of that hurt mouse. Todd has a dog. He would have a vet’s number. I have the swing shift today.

“Todd? Yeah, it’s John. Hey, weird question. Do you have a vet?”

“Hey, John. Merry Christmas, you sumbitch. A what?”

“A vet. Thanks. Merry Christmas,” I say back, my face hot. Was I asking about a vet for a mouse? Was I?

“You need a vet? Uh…yeah. We go to the vet clinic.” Todd rattles off a number and I hastily recorded it on the back of my electric bill. “You get a dog?”

“No. I found a…a wild animal and maybe the vet can help.”

“Just kill it. It’s probably suffering.” Todd offers.

“Yeah.” We exchange some words, mostly him speaking of how dry the turkey was. He loves wet turkey. Dripping with turkey juice and butter. I hate turkey so I mostly ignore the turkey grumbling.

A woman’s bright, sweet voice answers when I try that number. I explain my problem.
“A mouse, you said? A wild mouse? Um, well, you can bring it in, of course. But maybe you should try a wildlife rescue. Just a long shot. They take in injured wildlife, after all.”

I had not thought of that. “Thank you. The back leg is crunched or something. It let me pick it up and I have it in a box.”

“Like I said, we can take a look at it, sir. But I’d suggest a wildlife place. I have a number if you want to try them. There’s one nearby. They’re small but they might be able to do something.”

“Okay. Thanks.” I take the number and end the call. I check in the box, the mouse peers back at me, from its cave, before carefully trying to hide itself completely from me. I call the wildlife place and it goes to message. To the vet, then.

My sweet-voiced angel turns out to be a giant, ugly woman with grizzled fake red hair and the loveliest smile. She looks into the box and then nods at me. A man sits on one of the old worn yellow chairs, with a cocker spaniel held on his lap. “It’ll be a bit, We have a cat with a broken leg to see to and then Mr. Thorndyce here and Bandit. You tried the wildlife place?” Her nametag spells out Juli. The air stinks of sharp, bitter medicine and cinnamon air spray. Pictures of animals hang on the walls. A poster about the care of a new puppy. A bulletin board for community animal needs and wants and people looking for lost dogs or cats or people trying to give away unwanted this or that.

“Yes, I did. I just got an answering machine. I’ll try them again.” I catch a glimpse of a big shaggy black dog being led to a cage, wearing a cast on a front leg. It tries to lick the person trying to get it into the cage. The person pets it, bends low to say something to the wiggling friendly dog and then puts the dog behind bars to await the owner coming to pick it up.

“They’re probably busy doing rounds. Feeding, cleaning, you know. Yeah, try again. Dr. Calvin will take a looksee. Oh yeah…look at that leg. Poor thing. Just have a seat.” She smiles that lovely smile, her teeth yellow and homely. Juli probably had kids at home and lots of dogs, that was the impression I got from her. Those ugly farm women types someone marries because they probably got her pregnant. She even wears a red and green sweater beneath her white coat.

Bandit, the spaniel, squirms and then hops down and emits a giant pile of diarrhea. Juli gets the cleaning supplies out, after taking the pair back behind the swinging doors. “I’m sorry, he musta got into somethin’,” the man says. Don’t you worry, Juli is overheard saying. She comes back out, gives me an apologetic smile, then cleans up the mess as a young mother, holding a tiny child to her hip, comes in leading a German Shepherd, with its back leg dangling.

“He was like this this morning,” the young mother says, in tears. “I think he got hit by a car!”

So, it takes a while for Dr. Calvin to peer into the box at the thoroughly confused mouse. “Well, I can try to clean it and bandage it a bit, that’s about all I can do. You sure you want a bill for a wild mouse?”

“Yeah, I do. He lived through the night. I been putting peroxide on it and some antibiotic stuff. He’s been drinking water and took some cracker. I…I have to try, right?”

The vet, an older woman with short crisp iron gray hair and steel-blue eyes behind smeary glasses, takes a long look at me then nods. Clearly, she’s seen other nuts bringing in boxes of broken little lives and hoping for miracles or whatever is hoped for. Is a vet not in the business of miracles? Perhaps I am nuts. Perhaps I am.

I take the mouse home, over fifty dollars poorer. I got charged an office visit, basically. But that mangled leg is now encased in soft white bandaging with the warning that the mouse will probably chew that off almost immediately. I was also given a sample size of antibiotic cream meant for animals. It won’t sting, the vet assured me. She also looked up, on her computer, what mice could eat. I went to the local pet store to get some mouse pellets and also, while there, bought a small habitat, as it was called. I got a waterer, rather like the one that had watered long-dead Ralph. There’s after-Christmas sales galore but I only had my temporary guest to see to, not some coddled pup or arrogant, fluffy cat. I walk by cages of small rodents. Mice, even. Hamsters and gerbils and a rabbit or two. Fish. A wall of fish, waiting to go home and die and be flushed down a toilet. Or perhaps live for years in some quiet aquarium. I watch two angel fish float in their watery domain, black and white creatures from other worlds I will never know. Goggle-eyed goldfish and darting schools of minnows. Those beautiful betas in their small sad cups. The limp fins moving now and then, deep reds to navy blues to royal purples. I pay for my mouse supplies and head home on treacherous roads, but I am used to such conditions. The wind rocks my small truck about, but I am in four-wheel drive, which is a necessity on the plains.

I transfer Mouse to his new house and then smile over my rhyming. I bought bedding material, wood shavings with no smell. I set up the waterer. I put the habitat next to my heating duct so Mouse stays warm. I go off to my afternoon shift and come home late at night. I check on my patient who is still alive. The water seems a bit lower, the mouse seems a bit more lively and there are mouse food pellets scattered about as if the mouse has been sampling them. There are even tiny mouse droppings. Happiness. Happiness over a dime a dozen rodent still alive in its twenty five dollar and then some mouse mansion. But. I have no kids. I don’t go out that much, if ever. I don’t even drink anymore. What’s a bit of a splurge on a damn hurt mouse anyway? My mother’s flat eyes watch me and cannot tell me if I am doing right or being a foolish aging man.

I tell no one of my house guest. I cannot think of that wild thing as a pet; it’s not a pet. It never warms to me. I never try to pick it up. I only handle it to apply that cream to its healing leg. That leg gets dragged behind it as it scuttles about. I notice the mouse licking at it. The bandages indeed gnawed off, as the vet predicted. But it licks that leg. Rather like a dog would do. I notice the mouse has made itself a small nest in the very back corner of the habitat, as if to hide from me as much as possible. I respect that. It has no wish to deal with me. Very well.

I will see this through, no matter what happens. If the mouse heals, I will let it go. If it dies, I will throw away the little body, wrapped in toilet paper as a sort of shroud. I might even look into getting a dog or perhaps a cat, since I am gone so many hours for my job. Perhaps I am a bit lonelier than I knew. I doze on my couch and the mouse moves about in the plastic mansion. The snow comes down outside, in the days after Christmas.

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Pretty much the extent of my Christmas decorations this year.
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Boise

Oh, hi. I just wrote a mostly focused blog post on musicals. I should go rest on my laurels until well after Hellmas is over and done with for another hell-stained year.

I have to drive to Boise today for X. I will not bore you with this one. But a trip, nonetheless I shall be making. Over several rivers and through no woods I go. The Malheur, the Snake, the Boise, in case someone at home is about to write me a long comment about how there are no rivers in Eastern Oregon/Western Idaho and how dare I say otherwise. I imagine imaginary commenters. Because no one comments here, I have to make up scenarios in my head where people comment and get bothered enough to fling some words in my general direction. 

I am not bitter. 

Yes. Yes, I am.

Now. Boise. It’s a maze of one-way streets downtown. It’s not as bad as, say, Portland or Eugene for trying to get from point A to point 7, but it’s close. It’s getting there! The city of Boise is trying to beautify, rebuild and otherwise make it look pretty so people will go there and buy stuff and enjoy organic greens, at the cozy, spendy eateries, greens that are grown in Boise neighborhood gardens. Or something like that. Make Idaho Great Again. MIGA! 

I’d like to stay home and write. Or play Candy Crush, which after YEARS of not letting me advance, has suddenly let me advance to new levels again. I know! Candy Crush, you moan to yourself. Oh Annie! No, resist! Don’t call me Annie. Don’t. 

I should be submitting to contests, festivals and literary journals. Polishing my words into brilliant diamonds of truth and beauty! And then sending them off with all the other brilliant diamonds! All those other brilliant diamonds of others that get sent in, so that we all sit there in a shiny to-read pile! Wheeeee!

The Last Jedi is also in my seen-that list. I saw it. I wuvved it! What’s with the grumbling?? Is it all the actual women in leadership roles? Stuff doesn’t blow up enough? I bet it’s that stuff doesn’t explode enough, right? And how cute were those bird things? Cute! I now want one. Marketing works! [Porgs. Those bird things are called porgs. Now. Where can I get one?] 

Boise, that’s where this ode to vagueness began and where it shall end! Boise, city of trees. Tree City! I shall come back from my X mission and drink some tequila. I have a feeling…no, mustn’t jinx it. The gods laugh. Jinxed already, hon! Tee heee hee, goes Odin as Jesus slips a whoopee cushion under Allah’s saddle. And then everyone laughs at the long farting noise. What did you think would happen?

PS– as this pertains to the Last Jedi and my Boise trip…

There I sat, with my cup of spendy joe and my trashy fluff-bit of a novel, when I overheard the whine of an insectile voice. It rose and fell on the horrors of the Last Jedi and that this insect-voiced male would not ever!! consider it part of the real Star Wars oeuvre. I shifted about, mostly because the chair I sat in proved not that welcoming and due, also, to my almost-need to go argue merits of that film with the whine-voiced sort. I did not wish to cause a fistfight, not so close to Christmas!

There was a diss about how Luke had been ruined and some smack talk about Rey. The running time got compared to Blade Runner. The new one, the old one? Oh the questions that festered in my listening heart! Whatever else got spewed out I’ve chosen to block out, obviously.

And then…ah, eeeh, this loud and belligerent wasp– I did not actually do a casual looksee about the coffee shop/cafeteria to get a gander at this noble and loud being–went onward to extol the virtues of the Transformers movies. Not all of them were worthy of his seldom-given praise, but still, he was quite effulgent and moist-voiced on that first Transformers movie. I snickered at the hubris of others and returned to the adventures of a very privileged gal having mild adventures in Manhattan. I also patted myself on the back for minding my own beeswax and liking coffee. Well done, you, I told myself. Well done!

 

 

The Sound of Red Ryder

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from Hulu. There’s that lamp!

Oh dear. Oh dear! I had low expectations for the live musical version of A Christmas Story. I did. I went in expecting not that much. Some bland songs, some cynical dance numbers. The grown ups would shine, the kids would suck eggs.

I noticed, right away, how diverse the cast was. And since I’ve read the source material and seen the actual A Christmas Story– a million billion times because it’s one of my fave Xmas movies. And they run a marathon of it over on one of those T networks– I was like, well, okay. Good choice. It’s 2017, we’re aware and woke! However…! It was jarring as I wondered why the United Colors of Benetton  had suddenly shown up in Indiana in the late forties. And then had some internal back and forth about if entertainment should try to show what things were actually like during a time period or if painting past periods with the happy brush of now where everyone’s all equal and shit is what we need to do to all literature, all plays, all books…yeah. Do you fix racism by ignoring it? I was having those thoughts instead of actually watching that annoying child they’d chosen for Ralphie do his thang.

I squirmed and gulped and flailed through a good half an hour or so. I don’t even think I made it that long.

So, the Ralphie kid.

Oh. Granted, I’m  all WHO TURNED MY RALPHIE INTO A WHINY LITTLE AAAAARHG. There’s cuss words and since it’s nearly one of the major  sacred days of heavy drinking, chips and dip and ‘family time’, I’ll refrain from flinging profanity about like sparkly razor blades. He had the glasses, sure. They got that right. I’m blaming the writers for this one. Ralphie’s song/s. Generic is the kindest description. He had a fantasy session about, yes, the Red Ryder BB gun and saving his teacher, played by the wonderful Jane Krakowski, and someone forgot to include the RED RYDER BB GUN in this sequence. I. I just can’t.

Oooooh. Where our first intro to Sexy Teacher is that she’s OCD…my soul just flew away like a startled little sparrow. Nope! Don’t add! DON’T ADD.  Wait. Why is the teacher played so sexy? What the…??

Oh and Matthew Broderick. As the narrator. I was both annoyed by this and yet liking how he popped up and wove himself in and out of the story he was narrating about his own life. Ferris Buehler meets Christmas schlock.

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Broderick  inserted into live Christmas Story like a jolly tick. 

It was like watching an ‘edgy’ experimental piece written by that woman in your writing class who wears all-black all the time, chain smokes ironically and tells everyone that her yeast infections are caused by society’s rage against feminism.

I kept expecting…something. I wondered. There’s three hours of this. Is he going to do this FOR THREE HOURS? Oh my blessed ovaries! How much are ciggies these days?? Vodka now!

The parents, played by Chris with some long Greek name, and oh Maya Rudolph, just seemed to be imitating Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon. Who played the dad and mom in the, um, actual movie. And held their own and then some against some cute, pretty realistic little tots. I was not drawn in. I was not charmed. I did not want to see their journey toward some sort of Christmas orgasm. I noticed how abusive dad was…I noticed. Uh oh. 

So, I checked what was on the other channels. Hallmark spitting out their cookie cutter Christmas fare, yay. The Christmas Love Cottage Santa Express Plastic People Getting Happy Endings Every Time movie was on. Tempting! Lifetime, also runs Xmas fare. Oh there’s sometimes the old-timey holiday fare over on TMC and AMC. I then noticed, yes, it was Sound of Music night.

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from Wikipedia. Christopher Plummer and Julie the Goddess Andrews from the Sound of Music. No, it’s not b/w. Calm down.

Not that ghastly attempt at a live musical version with Carrie Underwood, who looks like she stepped out of a Hallmark holiday confection, but the actual movie. With Julie the Goddess Andrews. And Christopher Sexy Beast Plummer. Yes, yours truly has a serious crush on the Captain. Is it just me??? And such a beautiful movie. The backdrops of Austria. Oh wow. I’d get all scholarly and movie film critic-esque but I don’t wish this here blog post to run into overtime.

And if you’ve never seen Sound of Music, even ironically, then…you’re probably an agent of Satan. And I just can’t deal with you right now.

I showed up right as Maria shows up late for that dinner. She’s spunky! And sweet. And oh, the familiar rhythms of this film just soothe this savage beast!

However, my least fave bit of SOM approaches.

That ode to ‘you’re not old enough yet but hey it’s just around the corner’ sung by the eldest daughter and the Nazi boy. If you’re suddenly jarred and wondering why I’m watching a film with singing Nazis…ugh, you really need to get out more and watch something other than youtube odes to why Bigfoot is real.

I switch back to, yes, Christmas Sorry. They are at the lamp bit! And singing about the prize dad wins. And there’s this actually well done on-screen quick change. And then the dad continues to sing and wave a lamp-shaped trophy about. I nod over that bit of clever prop-placement and then head back to see if the horny Nazi and the horny Liesel are done dancing and singing in the rain. Again, if that flies over your head, put Sound of Music on your Netflix will probably never watch this but it’s on my list list. You can mute the musical numbers. But I suggest you don’t. Most of them are pretty spiffy. Spiffy!

I mean, that horny teenybopper scene is well done. Their song and dance in that glass-covered gazebo has a gorgeous intimacy to it. I find my attention wandering during it. I wonder if there’s any cheese left. Did someone eat all the cheese? So switching back to a Christmas Sorry seems a must. I must give it another chance. I’m being nit-picky and elitist! And also a few other things, prolly. I mustn’t let my Christmas Story movie purist ideals guide me here!

Nope! Maya slamming the oven shut and singing about how…I don’t know. Let’s go watch the Buy Women Jewelry Get Laid ads in between slices of Austrian-flavored movie pastry.

Wait, she’s watching actual television??? Yes. Yes, I am. I’m not viewing all this on some phone or one of those awkwardly large ipad thingies. I’m stuck in a bygone era. Stuck!

I’ll wrap this up by confessing Sound of Music sent me off into sleepland and I woke up near the end where the Sexy Beast Captain and his band of backup singers AKA ‘the children’, along with New Wife Nun Maria, are hiding from, yes, the Nazis. Molly the Lab snoozed as well and even the house mice seemed quiet, not rattling about and having mouse fist fights.

I live in something called the ‘country’ so that means lots of mice. And it snowed, so the mice take that as a signal they all need to move into the house. This is useless information that has nothing to do with ACSL or SOM. You can skip the rando mouse blargle and it won’t mar your otherwise pleasant reading experience. 

Oh, I did keep checking to see how ACSL was going. I saw, online, that the production ‘fixed’ that rather troubling end scene from the movie.

If you don’t know what that is, I might have to give you an actual glare and mutter WTF is wrong with you if we meet in real life. Who hasn’t seen this damn movie? Hands? Hands???

That there was some line flub that was covered beautifully. That Jane and Ana Gasteyer killed it. That Santa was played by David Alan Grier and that the dad killed the entire family with a butcher knife after the neighbor dogs stole the Christmas turkey off the table…and sang the best song of the whole three hours while doing that. Strangely, I can’t find that on youtube. Man, I love when family musicals channel some inner Sweeny Todd!

That’s it. I’ll stop there. I meant to keep this super-short and on point. Bye!

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You know, not everything should be turned into a too-slick, glossy musical. Just saying. Just putting it out there…

Cinnamon Rolls Now!

 

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from Lavender and Lovage.

I am having some feels. Mostly in the negative column. The sky hangs outside in a gloomy sackcloth and ashes sort of way and I hope they just end all our pain; nuke the world already. Just fucking do it. Why play with all of us like this, tRump [Rapey McPussyhands!] and company of Rapture-billies?

Haven’t we humans earned that right to go off to hell in a blaze of incredibly silly mushroom cloud glory?

Haven’t we?

Humans have hated each other since…well, it depends on if you’re a Young Earth Creationist or an Old Earth Creationist or not a creationist at all, because it’s a post-fact world!

Not everyone is equal but everyone’s opinions are equal, as long as you’re not one of them funny folks. Your opinions, as long as you’re one of the good sorts, should be treated as tenderly as tender little newborns, because that’s the First Amendment!!  [It’s not, I’m being, like, totally sarcastic, in case some of you are repulsed or nodding, yeah yeah, she’s got it!] I’ll treat you to some Second Amendment if you disagree with me. [Or the charming and lovely threat of going 2A on someone’s ass. Charming. Lovely.] FAKE NEWS is everything but what I like! Up is down! Cats are now dogs!

Let’s just call it a day, shall we? Goodbye, planet earth and all who dwell here! Is it over yet?

Oh why so gloomy, it’s almost Christmas! 

Shut up, brain worm!

Why don’t you make some cinnamon rolls? 

Oooh! Ah…all that work and they’re gone in about five seconds. 

Make two batches, you dippy broad.

How very patriarchal of you. 

CINNAMON ROLLS. CINNAMON ROLLS NOW.

Shut up, Norma Rae brain worm!

Nobody’s gonna get that reference.

Sure they will. Norma Rae is a symbol of the strength of the worker uniting against…oh. You’re right. Norma Rae and her ilk are as dead as we all will  be as soon as someone presses that button. Dead dead dead. Dead!

I didn’t ask for some commie liberal bullshit, did I? Cinnamon rolls are good. They contain forgetting powers. 

What? 

Cinnamon rolls are Jesus. They will save you! Jesus rose from the dead, cinnamon rolls rise, um, and there’s yeast. Yeah.

Are you insane? Brain worm, are you…insane? Can’t you, um, hit me with some giant idea, something that will occupy me for a couple days and maybe even turn into a novel?

Why? No one’s reading your shit or buying it. Why bother? There. I can be gloomy, too. Now go wait for the end as those rolls bake. Or you can buy them in a tube at the Canned Food Store. Ooooh, yum! Canned cinnamon rolls, tasty! You’re right. Why make them from scratch and then post pictures on social media? Buy a tube of em, and post that on social media.

Why are we having this conversation?

Because you’ve fallen between the cracks and it’s only amusing and horrible to you. Also, you’re the one typing, not me. I have no fingers. I am a worm. I’m an imaginary worm that lives in your brain. This is all you, baby. 

Is this what it feels like right before insanity wipes your sanity away?

What? Uh. Sure. Why not. Cinnamon rolls now? 

You’re a simple creature. 

Well, yeah. I’m a worm. Oh hey, why not write about current events? How the UN plot to rule the world is finally coming true…

Fuck off. I’m not one of those people. 

You could be. Wanna try it? Go on! Accept that the UN is a powerfully evil, yet horribly inept super-group poised to rule the world via depopulating the earth via vaccines and birth control and feminists. Oh and that those black helicopters. And HER EMAILS. And how the moon landing was faked by the UN to fund raise.

I’m not quite there yet. It sounds great, don’t get me wrong. Giving myself over to total nonsense sounds oh so glorious right now. To just let go  and swim in those waters! I bet my bank account would start bulging in the right direction. I could write about…oh. Stop it, you fucking worm!

Tee hee!! I’ll be here all your life! Try the veal! 

You do know what veal is?

Cute baby cows cut up into cutlets? 

Okay.

Cinnamon rolls now? You’ve been watching those Great British Baking Show shows. You know you want to plunge your lady hands into sticky dough and create baked goods, create a product somebody actually wants. You also have a bit of crush on that grumpy…

Wow. You’re a mean worm.

I really am. Thanks for noticing. Now go buy some tubed rolls! Stop being such a Millennial fussbottom. You’re old now. Old. Ohhhhhh-ld. 

My hair is still wet. I was told not to go outside if my hair was wet, especially in winter. We’re the same age. Did you forget that?

Are we still talking? I thought you were done pretending some brain worm pretended to hold a conversation with you that you wrote out for others to not read. Is that even close to being correct grammatically? Asking for a friend.

Fine. Celery and tepid water it is.

Are you a gloomy little muffin still? Are you all better now?? 

I thought we were done talking, brain worm.

I have a name. 

I’d have to look through my earlier posts to find it. How about Ratface Barfwoozle?

Um, no. Why don’t you spend the afternoon reading up on the UN…and I’ll take a nap. Maybe cue something up on Netflix. I hear good things about Stranger Things. Maybe catch up on my Game of Thrones. Didn’t Jon Snow sleep with his aunt or something?? I’m tingling!

You don’t have Netflix.

No. You don’t have Netflix. I’m a brain worm. I’m a limitless being. Bye!

Hey!!

 

 

 

 

Losing My Flapdoodle

 

download

I wrote the following after receiving a rejection. 

Then moi conceived a magnificent plan.

Here’s my ‘brilliant’ plan!!

I’ll write some stream of consciousness, totally woke prosepoemsmear and submit that to X submission opportunity! It will be lacking in actual grammar, structure and paternal literary merits! It will have no merit. None. Not a whiff of merit. I stayed highly aware of my own wokeness the entire time I typed that below. Did North Korea just flippin’ BOMB US?? Where is the vodka? 

If I consider ‘murica right now…I’ll start eating my bad hair. I won’t bother with a mustard chaser this time.

 

 

Flapdoodle sexbugs of Ganderv55

CarLISLE gives nothing and I rot like a dream as we rut in the leaves beneath the tree of his mother. She brings us old toast and new coffee her hair on fire from daddysexjuice and we smell her burning but she pours us coffee and scolds us about jesus who is meek and mild and full of corn. mother moother you are old news and mother directs us like traffic cones into the river of my lovers who slap me with morality. i screamed could not find my way but my carLISLE advised me to take three aspirin and stuff them in my sexbug and oooooh i discovered the sands of my own breasts and i wept because i am not awake.

we went on the sidewalk found a cup and a dead idea, took both back in our backpack and put them in a cage because it’s all we know of high heels. dream on screamed moother and we dreamed on

until father gave us gum that smelled like cinnamon whores at low tide which created ghosts in our intestines that we farted out as ironic statements of purpose for ivy schools that never considered us contenders. I WORE A YELLOW FLAPDOODLE and nobody told me I WORE A YELLOW FLAPDOODLE and I wondered why no one told me because i posted the bread pictures and everyone hit the yes button and told me yes yes yes and squirted yes juice into my burning eyes. I tire to be brilliant but the diamonds turn to rodents in my kneecaps where slime shops for canned meat and mark down cancer drugs. WHY WON’T U SLAP MEE mmmooother asked as she sliced smelly lettuce for the eternal meal

and sister, my sister is dead yet sits on my right hand better than god or allah because she gives me pink gummy bears for my sexbug slit and doesn’t need them back to glue in her scrapbook where she once glued a live frog that begged her to traditional marry it and she told it no, it wasn’t fresh and that she wanted a turtle to lay eggs in her vast pulsing worldwomb. My sister puts her hair out to be sliced and my mother slices it slices and my sister marries the frog and glues herself in the scrapbook that’s how she died and yet how she lives because i can cut her shape from the pages and stick them to my eyes so she stares at me as i paddle over the rainbutt and into the dirk

but CarLISLE won’t say. Theres nothing there and I MADE HIM UP because father asked me to and we all obey we all obey

except the cat but the cat lives on some other plane thats not here at all poor cat.

77 oh 5 hump my leg like naughty poodles of elves left in the jupitor rain and all the numbers confuse me with yearning

so i dig up the cat and the cat doesnt scratch me because mooother

cut off its soul and used it for a suncatcher but the sun stays captured in my father who hangs strips of his love on the wall like narrow rewards won at turkey shoots.

run brother run

u hav no bro says car and i curl up and shud at it all but the Ganderv55 invasive me so i sigh thru the orgi and use vanilla soap and my cookie smell sells stocks so great men can shit with ease

 

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Molly enjoying a snooze

 

My Running With Scissors Book Report

It’s officially Christmas month. So here’s a book report I whipped up after marching myself through the following book like a bit of cannon fodder  facing grimly toward cannon fire. The following will be spoiler-free and will contain adult language and adult themes. I wrote this over on Goodreads. So. If I can write book reviews, dearies, you should, too. Hint– that’s about writing one for one of my bits and pieces. Hint hint hint. 

Ann Wuehler’s Reviews > Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
Running with Scissors
by Augusten Burroughs
22471884
Ann Wuehler’s review Dec 03, 2017 
did not like it

Note– this stupid site says I read it twice. No, I didn’t. Ugh! How do you fix that? Why does this stupid site need dates of what was read???? Fie upon you, bald-faced dog!

I’d heard the movie was crap, but the book was great. Nope. I felt a real antipathy to everything about this tome. I wanted to quietly euthanize everyone in this memoir or whatever it actually is. I normally don’t want to take an entire cast of characters to the vet to put them down but Augusten and company proved the exception to my euthanasia rule for fictionalized characters.

Now!! I do realize there are actual families and individuals who are ‘like this’. I do. I’ve read accounts, I’ve seen the grim, dark films, I’ve even worked in areas that overlap into areas of mental illness, physical problems, etc, etc. Been there, seen that sorta gal here. However…I just could not work up any sympathy or anything much but a determination to GET THROUGH THIS BOOK to win some bet no one made with me.

The mad poet of a mother. Oh I just wanted her to kill herself already. Just kill yourself and stop torturing the world with your shit poetry, lady. I also wondered if this mad lady poet mama figure had a trust fund. How is she paying her rent and all those doc bills? Her divorce settlement must have been gigantic. Last I checked, being a barely published poet didn’t pay the rent. Even back in the early eighties/late seventies or whenever this thing all took, allegedly, place.

The Finches. Where to start. I just can’t. I wasn’t charmed, I wasn’t repulsed, I was just– how many pages until the end so I can win that bet no one made with me? I found myself wondering how the neighbors ignored everything there…on a nice street full of nice houses. Having lived on the East Coast, nobody ignores anything, because you’re cheek and jowl; there’s a ton of people. And if you live in one of those neighborhoods where it matters what things look like…mmm. Probably a nitpicky niggling sort of notion here, but nothing about that house rang true. Yes, I know people actually do live, willfully and otherwise, in truly filthy shitholes. Hoarders exist, I know several myself. I don’t know…something about how piled on the Finch household seemed…I don’t know. Something about it didn’t quite ring those golden bells of truth, truth, truth.

Oh and the underage stuff. Ugh. I and you and that person over there know it exists, that it’s rampant. I wasn’t bothered by it so much as bored by it. Was it meant to be titillating? Was it meant to shock? Was it meant to be background noise to Augusten’s journey to BECOMING A WRITER? Fuck. [I find myself swearing. Not a good sign when trying to write a hasty, shallow book review]

I’ve read Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which has some truly stomach-turning stuff in there. But. Forgive me, it rang like a big golden bell as a whole. It was honest, frothing, savage, truly funny and actually self-revealing. Running with Scissors seemed like someone trying too hard. Ah. Mm!! Thompson’s take on Vegas was just Thompson being Thompson. Here’s what happened, with some hair-raising, funkalicious details.

Running with Scissors seems, to me, like a writer TRYING TO BE A WRITER instead of…telling the story that needs to be told. [Yes, I know it’s supposed to be a REAL LIFE ADVENTURE.] Perhaps my store of empathy for others has become sorely depleted lately. But I had actual trouble giving a poop in a bucket about the fate of any of these charmless bit players.

Speaking of poop– the scene where Dr. Finch had his daughter lift his bowel movement from the toilet bowl and carry it outside to dry on the picnic table. Does ‘jump the shark’ apply to literature, too? I actually heard Fonzie, in my muzzy-fuzzy head, revving up his bike to jump a shark on that episode of Happy Days. I heard it as I read about…yeah. You can read that yourself if you so wish and make your own hasty or long, involved, Rhodes Scholar sort of judgment.

Oh, the main character/author. I have no idea how to sort out my reaction here. So let me try! He was…yeah. He got lost in his own tale. That’s as best as I can fathom. Which was maybe the whole point? That this child grew hi-larry-lously of age in a cray cray household while being an underage sex toy to an older man that garnered nothing more than a shrug from everyone about? How New Age, baby! I find my own knee-jerk reaction to hearing or reading about abuse kicks in like a mustang on meth here. It’s a kid being molested, folks. And Natalie being sold– that is how her going to live with that man was described as–and…ugh. And then people wonder why no one talks about this or talks up or speaks out or…ugh a…cuss words.

I think it’s the willful looking away of what’s going on that made me check how many pages were left so I could tick this one off my Read That list. I know it happens, that people really are this cartoony awful. I just happen to not wish to spend any time with them more than I have to.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like December!

 

malheurriver 046
The actual Malheur River, from March 2017.

Part One: In Which I Prattle A Bit

What a noisy night.

Bam! Shiver of little furry body meeting something metallic outside on a cold moonlit night! Coyotes yowling and prowling and carousing nearby! What the hell, someone was heard to mutter. It might even have been me. Window yanked open, sudden silence ensued. Whatever primal chase had been called a weird draw held its breath and went still, waiting for my intruder-like presence to withdraw. I withdrew. Returned to my not at all earned slumber.

I did promise a sliver of my November novel challenge.

I did promise that, yes? I didn’t invent that in my head just now? Hello? Is this thing on?

Part Two: In Which I Keep A Promise!

Before I descend into woe is me o woe land…here’s the unvarnished, totally rough, actual opening to Naked Farmers of the Apocalypse. Notice there’s cursing. If that offends you, eh. I am probably not the writer or friend you wish in your life if you find cursing crosses the line with you. I cuss like a motha bear, to quote, somewhat, from something my dad occasionally mutters.

The story! Always Be Selling Your Writing. ABSYW.

Candle– yes, that is her name because it leaped into my brain that Candle is the name of that girl I yanked forth from my imagination– finds a newborn baby girl alongside the banks of the Malheur River. She takes this baby to her house and her grandmother absconds with it, in a light-hearted Edwardian romp about manners, tea and the right way to steal a car to aid in your kidnapping efforts. I made myself giggle with that somewhat accurate summary of my ‘plot’. Plot! What is plot but patriarchal imperialists trying to control all women???

Okay!! Before I totally dissolve into a more bonkers version of America right now…here’s a bit from NFA!! Enjoy! Joy! Oy!

chapter one: Riverbank is kinda rank

Candle Santiago let the smell of the Malheur River soak into her nostrils. Fetid rotting carp and soft rotting cottonwood branches. She moved closer to the stank little river, sniffing back a snootful of snot. Her allergies had come back for a visit. Springtime had come to Malheur County like a sullen bride walking down an aisle covered with dog shit. Candle waited for Tiff to show up; they would smoke a joint Tiff would steal from her mom’s new boyfriend, Mike. It’s good stuff, Tiff had promised. If I let Mike touch my titties, he gives me a joint. It’s totally worth it. Considering that Mike was over forty and Tiff was way under eighteen, no, it really was not. But Candle had her own problems and Tiff seemed fine with an old pervert slapping her tiny boobs or whatever he did.

Something caught Candle’s attention. A splash. A faint little cry. Some animal caught in the act of drowning. Candle walked toward the heavy brush. There, a grungy pink bundle and yes, a tiny human hand extending from it. A baby. She bent over the filthy blanket full of a tiny child, which looked like a small wrinkled monkey. “Hey, what the hell.” A glance about but it seemed the baby had just been left there. Like that Moses baby in the Bible her grandmother loved to read. He floated down the Nile and the Pharaoh’s daughter scooped him right the bibbidy up. Except this baby didn’t look clean and cared for. It looked like shit. There was blood and goop on it. It didn’t seem hurt. Fresh born? Jesus on toast, as her dad liked to say, which made her grandmother lower her truly caterpillar-like eyebrows and mutter about Mother Mary, forgive my son. Candle picked the baby up and then nearly dropped it. It wiggled and went stiff and wiggled some more, and then sobbed. She had never held a real baby before. Her sister, Doreen, was a lesbian. Dora had told the entire family, at Christmas not two years before, that she wasn’t having no fucking kids, ever. Candle, then ten or so, had been too young to trust with Aunt Irina’s brand new baby girl. Nobody was allowed to hold the little freak, who had been born with only one arm. There was also something messed up inside and everyone had acted real sad when Kaitlyn had died in the night. Just one of those things, Esme Santiago had moaned out. Just one of those things. Candle’s mother, Cris, had not been there. She had been down in Pasadena or Thousand Oaks by then. Now and then she sent post cards to Candle. I live here now, one had said, with a picture of something pretty on the front. As Cris did not have any money, Candle assumed she lived in a shithole and took the buses to get around.

“I got it…what the fuck is that? Oh em gee, it’s a baby,” Tiff came up behind Candle, wearing her favorite pair of sweat pants, stamped with the Florida Gators and already holding out that joint, which she put behind her big ear. Tiff would have been somewhat pretty if only God hadn’t given her giant elephant ears. Tiff also had a strong stench of pot. But her mother had plants. Candle really didn’t pay attention to all that pot talk; it bored her into tears. “Whatcha doing with a baby?”

“I found it. What do we do with it? Cops? Hospital? It looks real young,” Candle let Tiff peek at the dirty, squirmy little life.

malheurriver 044.jpg
A bovine skull I found by the Malheur River, more than likely a death caused by the incredibly harsh winter of 2016-17.