XAVIER AND VICKIE

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Miz Bridge. A little skinny cow dog mix. 

Christmas. It’s over. I have tales. A new dog. A relationship so toxic Baby Jesus winced even as Baby Jesus gave the two the side eye. A funeral. Ah.

The death of a mother. A friend of mine. Right before a big holiday season. Not pleasant when there isn’t a string of days devoted to this or that. Horribly nasty when it takes place during festive times. A Buddhist funeral. I’ve never been to one. I went with another family member, who’d never been to one either. This was a neighbor lady, Japanese, who had lived at the house across the field for eons. Farmers. Everyone about here are either farmers or teachers. Or cook meth. It’s that kinda world here lately.

Bells. Incense. Chanting. Very dignified. A sort of foggy Christmas Eve day. No snow. Wet, muddy, foggy. A reminder that Dicken’s immortal classic began with a funeral on Christmas Eve. Marley’s. More bells and the sweet odor of incense. 

Christmas Eve is spent with the hillbilly side of the fam’ly.

Christmas Day was and is traditionally spent with the other half of the family. Both sides of my family got along very well, in case you were wondering. Both sets of grandparents really enjoyed visiting with each other. Both sets migrated here to Oregon and Idaho from Nebraska, where they grow corn and manners and tornadoes. That’s what I’ve gathered from all that talking back and forth over the years. Christmas Day was giant meal, the women did all the cooking, and we played cards all afternoon.

Christmas Eve was spent with the hillbillies.

That’s my own pet snarky nickname for my mom’s kith and kin. I did get to see pictures of the cougars my cousin trapped and hear about how the price of coyote pelts is through the roof right now. I silently wondered who’s buying fur anymore. Who the fuck is that? Cause you’re not eating the cougar meat. You’re not eating the coyote meat– though I did see where you can cook it and turn it into haute cuisine sort of food. That was when Andrew Zimmerman still wandered through the Travel Channel. But anyway, before I get distracted and this gets super-ass long as hell!

I do cuss. If you’re new here, well. I do cuss on occasion.

Yes, now to Xavier and Vickie. Which is not their real names.

My little group trundles off toward the Christmas Eve festivities. It’s a foggy, muddy, somewhat rainy Eve. No snow. No real cheer. Just obligation and the thought of the chips and dips. Which tell me the holiday season is truly nigh. Sad. Chips and dips is what I look forward to, not halting awkward family interactions and hearing that the lib’rals have attacked God-fearing red-blooded ‘murican farmers.

I’ve done entire blog posts about what I hear pooped out of human mouths around me. M’kay.

We get there, it’s cool. As in groovy, not my auntie needs to turn the heat on or stuff some wood in her wood-burning stove.

Calm.

Most of the people showing up for this gathering are already there. It’s mellow. My aunt has enough food to feed Boise bubbling, boiling, baking or waiting to go into an oven. Ham. Turkey. Taters. Stuffing. Bacon mac and cheese, from scratch…with six kinds of cheese in it. OH MY WORD. Oh look, chips and dips. And then someone else brings bread and HOMEMADE DIPS THAT ARE SUPER TASTEFUL.

Veggies? No. I have yet to see a veggie dish show up since the death of my own mother over ten years ago. No salad. No squash. No weird green bean casserole attempt. Just meat and carbs and DIP. 

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Old-timey recipes! 

However, I pick up on how watchful people are. Waiting. One cousin is not yet there. I hear, nearly five seconds after I enter the house, decorated with red and green, blue and silver, gold and sparkly lights, that Vickie is a bitch. There’s the oh no, don’t start that yet admonishment. Do I already know what is thought of Vickie and her California ways? Yes. Yes, I do. Yep, she’s from California. California is a bad word in Eastern Oregon/Western Idaho. It’s kinda the queen mother of bad words here. You want to really insult someone, ask if they’re from California. [Because it’s run by liberals, the housing, the myths and legends people absorb as truth, the…uh huh. Then, Californians are all moving to Idaho and Oregon, ruining everything. Uh huh.]

I’ve mentioned that one, too. I know I have.

Okay! So we’re all waiting for Xavier to show up. If he and his little woman show up. It’s that kinda crowd.

Ah, the two arrive. The lights splash along the driveway! We’re all tensing already. What will walk through that door? Stay tuned to find out! Where’s the dip??!!

It’s just Xavier and one of his very young chil’ren. She’s fucking still out there in the car, he snarl-snaps at the startled, still sorts watching this entrance.

Suddenly, we’re watching a Eugene O’Neill play, except with modern language added. [The f bomb, mostly.]

Xavier dumps his first load of baby stuff– as it takes several Sherpa loads these days to take babies anywhere– to fetch the other kid and the rest of the stuff, presents and stuff. Vickie has not yet made her appearance. We’re all…uncomfortable audience members to this kitchen sink reality show of epic proportions. It takes perhaps half an hour before Vickie makes her DRAMATIC ENTRANCE.

DOG SHIT. ON MY SHOE. BIG PILE OF DOG SHIT. RIGHT THERE BY THE CAR DOOR. WHAT THE FUCK? DOG SHIT DOG SHIT DOG SHIT!

She’s more wound up than a barrel of rattlesnakes and twice as poisonous. Something like that!

Instantly, as we’ve been enjoying the two very young babies– both under two years old or so– the tension goes to eleven.

Xavier bristles. Vickie uses Wet Wipes to clean the poo from her shoes. Instead of just removing her shoes, leaving them by the door. Or laughing about stepping in dog poo right out of the car door. Or…so many other choices here than what she chose to do. [It’s family, you pretend you have manners. If I learned nothing else, I learned that, hello!]

Though dog poo on velvet shoes or delicate little spendy numbers you adore…but. I saw the shoes, just some old cheap ass boot looking things. Then the mutters, from Vickie, about the baby crawling on the floor…mm. If the tap water was drinkable. To keep so and so away from Baby X. Mutters. Oh the mutters one overhears at times. 

Xavier and Vickie apparently fought the entire time they drove to the Christmas Eve gathering. Apparently, they’ve been fighting since before they met, if you know what I mean. So, there’s muttering. So much under the breath muttering, just muttered loud enough for all of us to hear. Those not front and center in this O’Neill gritty reboot, have the side eyes down to an art. We’ve all become experts in body language communication exchanges. There’s selective deafness goin’ on! Whee!

The holiday air seems stained with invisible dirty bomb emissions. The chips and dips, so good! Everyone’s munching or in the other room, shoulders hunched up. Because surely, this ugly pimple is gonna burst. Spray noxious fluids all over us. Ever had one of those ugly angry white-topped pimples? Yeah, like that. Ever watched cysts and infected pimples get drained?? So gross and yet so satisfying!

Where was I.

The presents get opened. Ah. Thanks! The sound of ripping paper, the asking if those pretty boxes were bought at Joanne’s. [The local craft store.]

The food, the literal mountains of food, become available for consumption. The alcohol has been flowing, so actual food that’s not chips and/or dip, nice. Xavier, shoulders hunched to his angry earlobes, slaps some of that food on a big disposable plate, prepares to chow down. Vickie mutters she’d sure like a hot meal as she slams about getting out baby food stuff. Xavier about comes out of his angry skin, like a butterfly bent on rampages, bursting out of a cocoon, ready for carnage. He shoves that giant disposable plate away. He goes off for cartons of baby goo to shove at the youngest kiddo. The older kiddo gets mac and cheese and other tidbits. The two sit on the same side of the table. We’re…careful. Watching. Afraid to breathe.

Are the guns locked up? [I had that actual thought. Both sides of the fam’ly are totally into GUNZ.] This is the lead up to one of those Christmas Eve drunken fam’ly shootings. I’m watching it in real time. That was the impression I had.

Now, the two are shoving food at the two kids. Neither talk. The one year old can barely crawl. I see Xavier about once or twice a year, if that. My other cousin’s little woman fills me in on all this so…I have the gossip and what I observe. Okay!

Not long after the most uncomfortable dining experience I’ve had to sit through in years, Xavier and Vickie pack up their spawn, their shit, and head back ‘home’. Without a kind word for each other, without much enjoyment shown toward either kid, with faces like death masks from a Greek tragedy. A Greek tragedy channeling Long Day’s Journey Into Night with big handfuls of Mamet’s way with certain words thrown in.

During this brief, awful family drama unfurling, I go outside where people are smoking the funny weed that’s legal in my state. I burst out about the tension, what the hell is this, does anyone have any heroin, because it will take the edge off that scene in there. We all laugh, gossip fiercely, suck down some smoke. Because hey, why confront directly when you can smoke funky plants and gossip in half-whispers?

No. I don’t do heroin.

Okay! I’m not around Vickie on a regular basis so I don’t really know her but it does seem she got painted early on as a bitch, and unlikable. That she never really had a chance. When you’re around people who don’t like you, no matter how nice they’re pretending to be, you tend to get defensive. A lot defensive. Poor Vickie can’t avoid her own kid’s grandma. Well, she can and has, I gather. What a mess, a hot sticky this is gonna hurt to actually resolve this MESS.

That was my Christmas Eve. I had pecan-flavored whiskey, but did not get drunk. A bit high, but not drunk.

The fate of those four caught in some loop of resentment, outright hatred, commitment entanglements, children, obligations, job loss…ugh. I don’t know. Counseling might help, some neutral party that can weather the pimple bursting far better than family members can. I see a nasty as hell breakup galloping down the two-lane. Maybe people going to jail for assault. [Yes, that’s the air I got from all this.] I don’t want to hear Xavier and Vickie imploded and took everyone around them downward, too. I want to hear they took a realistic look a their situation, their relationship, worked out custody and money matters, then parted for good. So they could both heal from all this and become far better people on the other side. That’s my Christmas wish this year.

And the writer part of me…sadly…goes– how to use this? They don’t read my stuff. Or if they do, I don’t hear about it. [If that side did read my collected works, they’d tar and feather me, after asking me if so and so was them…] Family drama fuels a thousand percent of literature is my humble opinion. Usually first-hand family drama.

Except those writers who grew up in a vacuum somewhere in the wilds of Oregon on a communist commune where nothing happened except the day’s baking of nan bread. They grew up, wrote nice poems about flowers and were politely puzzled at another writer’s seething three-book rage-athon on why their dad was a POS.

Xavier and Vickie, poor things. Their two little peanuts. You just want to offer to take the two kiddos, let the two adults go destroy each other all they wish…

But hey, found a stray dog. Cream underbelly, dark brown silky soft short coat. What we call a cow dog. But there’s something else in there. Rottweiler? German Shepherd? Maybe even a bit of pit bull? Boxy head. Smart, female, no collar, skinny. I did post her on social media. I did ask the folks living where I found her if she was their dog. Nope. I found her where we’ve found other dogs, it’s a spot to drop unwanted canines out. Brigit. Or Miz Bridge. As she was found by the bridge. Yeah.

So far she’s torn up some mats and a old magazine. And my flip flops. But. She’s a big puppy yet.

I’ll end on a nice note instead of the intense sadness that is my cousin’s life situation at the moment. New dog! Oh and it snowed. It’s not a muddy spring-like mess without. Snow. I do love snow.

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I just like this pic. We have rabbits, there’s snow now on the ground. Then I wonder if that poor bunny is cold…
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The House on Clark Boulevard!

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Molly caught in a rare pensive mood. She probably wants a snow storm, too. 

Hi, everyone. I’m waiting for the snow. It insists on raining. Ah, weather! My book, the HOUSE ON CLARK BOULEVARD, is on sale for a bit, at about a dollar. For your Kindle or whatever you might have that lets you read e-books. 

The link to that?? 

Glad you asked, cupcakes!

The Cracks Do Show

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Jake waiting for me to throw the stick. Behind him is a sugar beet field. 

I am making salt clay ornaments for presents. Or just to give myself a much-needed project to help me start focusing again. As my brain seems made of fog and cotton candy right now. I made up the clay mixture– salt, water, flour. I used cookie cutters for the shapes. Tree, star, circle, candy cane, snowflake. Other odd vague holiday shapes. I dried them a bit in the oven, but the dough puffs up. So, I let them air dry, figure the puffy parts are ‘artistic’.

I got some sparkly gold and silver paint, some actual glitter. As the paint, when it dries, is rather dull.

I noticed that the Democrats took back the House of Representatives, but the GOP, somehow, held on to the Senate.

It seems there was a lot of cheating, voter suppression, voter intimidation, etc, etc. See Florida, Texas, Georgia, the Dakotas, etc.

I also noted that the orange stain forced Sessions into resigning, then propped up some fanboy to oversee the Mueller investigation…all of this within hours of election results on Tuesday night. Mm.

There’s also the latest mass shooting , in Thousand Oaks, CA. Suspect is dead. Lots of others, dead. Dead, death, dying. Tots and pears offered. Mm.

I have lots of little ornaments to paint. If I can make them look presentable or as if painted by a Kandinsky or a Matisse, then I will give them as modest little presents. A little something to hang on a tree a few days a year. 

Writing? What’s that? I can’t match the absurdity that is American politics right now anyway. I can’t rise to the level of sheer jaw-dropping WTF twists and turns that play out minute to minute anymore.

My imagination grabbed at its chest, muttered something about they’re not even trying to hide how corrupt and awful they are…then slumped to the floor of my skull. The EMT’s are trying to revive it. Waiting. Waiting. Mm.

The cracks show now in America. We can usually pretend here, real hard, that we’re nice and civil. That we’re not the biggest bag of racist assholes on the planet. Our elections say otherwise, these days. Hopefully THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT. This time unicorns will show up and stab the bad guys! Whee. Mm. Maybe? What? Recount? There’s recounts galore goin’ on?? Whiskey, whiskey would taste nice right now.

I can’t wait to get out my paints, work on beautifying dried out flour, water, salt. As Christmas fare plays nearby. Or something equally innocuous and soothing. I might also go for a walk today, if the wind isn’t blowing. That cold wind that says

Hi there, it’s November, here’s an icy blast, you idiot wanderer of dirt ways and weedy hollows.

The dogs enjoy it so. I let them take off in whatever direction, then just follow behind. Harvest is done about the house so it’s far safer for them. Giant farm trucks whizzing by at a thousand miles an hour trying to get the contents they carry to the appropriate place before it closes for the night kill many an unwary pet, wild animal and confused bird.

Getting the paints out. I don’t want to write but I do want to paint, be all crafty. I find others are also not producing the Next Great Only Read By Ten People American Novel. They’re crafting. Knitting. Sewing. Baking. Usually while curled in a fetal position. It’s really hard to make cream puffs with an orange blossom cream filling, topped with bitter Swiss chocolate curls, from a fetal position.

Maybe I’ll make myself write for at least ten minutes– which is usually open a file, stare at the words which seem jumbled abstracts of a language I don’t speak–then set up for PAINTING. Or maybe go redo the resume…ha ha ha ha. I just made myself giggle. Now I’m sobbing. How long can you keep telling yourself things will turn around? What’s the expiration date on that one?

Cracks are showing all over. Mm, yes.

On Mid-term Election Day, Nov. 6th, 2018

 

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Molly and Jake in the shorn corn field across the way. 

Hi, ya’ll. I’m doing laundry. I’m watching the Food Networks Halloween Baking Challenge shows. They’re so much meaner in spirit than the Great British Baking ones. But the challenges. Turn a common nightmare into a cake! WT…?! Petite Fours for a monster wedding shower! Animals caught in a spider web design– cockroaches, frogs, dragonfly. A dessert that oozes. Oozes!

Yes, I’m keeping calm, hoping the GIGANTIC VOTER TURNOUT BEING REPORTED is, like, actually going to reflect some stuff. And that those voting will have their votes counted, as the GOP side of things has been tossing ballots due to someone didn’t check the Miss, Ms. or Mrs. box. Or a signature didn’t quite look exactly the same– here I’d have trouble, as my signature is a sloppy mess. My handwriting is awful! Or someone left out a period after something in their address. No foolin’. Or suddenly, like in the Dakotas, those that live on reservations suddenly can’t vote because they have a P.O. Box instead of a street address…which has been fine until about two weeks ago. Yeah. Yet it’s the left that’s importing bazillions of illegals to vote for them so they can lose elections like cray cray. Uh huh. 

But social media has been riding that ups and down of ACTUAL GODDAMN VOTER SUPPRESSION with how to vote if you get denied at your polling place. With what numbers to call if you get harassed. Orange Shitstain Supremas actually threatened voters…Anyway! Oh. Lyft and Uber are offering discounts to free rides to get people to vote. There’s people willing to drive people to and fro if they need a ride…it’s kinda awesome to read and hear about what companies and citizens alike are doing to GET PEOPLE TO CAST A VOTE.

I have ‘friends’ who write, in total disdain for those not in their cozy little circle of purity and shining single-purpose issues, who opine that voting doesn’t matter. Only fools vote. Only sheeple cast a ballot. I just…want to punch them in the face with my actual naked fist. I know, violence isn’t the answer but not voting because of the global corporatist blah blah blah…Punch. They sound rather like those on the Alt-Right. And then these far far far lefties complain that no one gets them and look at the state of the world…while writing reams of WORDS ABOUT HOW BAD THE WORLD IS. I just! Fuhhhhhhhh!!!

All right! Back to the little trove of Halloween baking challenges. Everything’s raspberry, chocolate something or other or burned cinnamon orange blossom water sesame seed basil-infused…I am seriously loving the rando ingredient the host throws at the bakers in the middle of them trying to get their projects done in the time allotted. Wheeeee!!! It also makes me want to try some of their flavor combos. I did buy myself some sesame seeds yesterday.

I do have high hopes for a blue wave indeed. I do. I think a mass of first time, pissed off as hell, voters will make something of a real difference. I don’t trust the polls as people below fifty don’t answer them. I saw that discussed. Where anyone of the younger generations doesn’t answer a number they don’t know. They text, they don’t talk on the phone. Old people answer strange numbers they don’t know. Mm. [Read that as Fox viewers]

So, these polls that say there’s a red wave about to hit…eh. Red wave. Like a heavy day during your menstrual cycle, kiddos? Where you are soaking through pads and tampons, bent over with cramps, wishing you were dead so you’d never have to have such a goddamn red wave again hit you? Kinda like that? Yeah.

Baking shows seem to be my choice of drug today. I do have vodka and tamarind soda pop for later. Take that as you will, fellow babies.

Exit 90

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I drove myself to Mountain Home, Idaho. To do a reading of my short story, Bunny Slipper, for the tenth edition of Whistle Pig, the Southwest Idaho’s literary journal.

It’s a two hour drive, at least.

The legislators in the Gem State raised the speed limit to 80 MPH.

So, my hundred mile or so drive took TWENTY MINUTES. 

No, I didn’t, but it’s nice to look down at the speedometer, realize I’m not speeding recklessly. Or that the Idaho State cops won’t be yanking my backside over for a ticket. I don’t go eighty. No. About seventy or so. I used to drive like a speed fiend. I have the tickets to prove it. I’ve turned into that slow duffer. In the right lane, putting along. With others whizzing by at a hundred, all of them praying the cops are elsewhere…!

A lovely day. The gauge hit in the mid-sixties. Sunshine. No wind. I had the radio on, noticed the station, the River as it’s referred to, seemed to play the same set of songs. From a U2 combo of Pride, in the Name of Love and Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For to some whiny men singing about friends and weed. I seriously cannot hear the difference in today’s musical men or women. It all sounds alike. I have Old Man Get Off My Lawn Tin Ear-itus these days.

Oh and the River plays Love Shack, a lot, by the B-52’s. I turn that shit up! It feels so decadent to be tooling down I-84, on my way to not the love shack. Tin roof. RUSTED.

No, I don’t have that fancy thingamabob where you store every song every invented, that hooks into your car something or other. I, gulp, jab the buttons on the car stereo, like some old-fashioned dope. 

Now, this stretch of the freeway is known to me. I attended UNLV way back when, so I usually entered Idaho after taking the three seconds it takes to drive through Jackpot, Nevada. Up the 93, with other highways thrown in.

I would then head for the freeway, head back to Eastern Oregon across southern Idaho. I never stopped in Mountain Home, that I remember. I drove past it, a lot. There’s also a rest stop just outside Boise, which I did stop at if my back teeth were swimming.

It’s really hard to pee if you’re on a freeway. You can’t just pull over and go. Like you can on a mostly deserted back country highway. Which I’ve done. You gotta go, it’s urgent, there’s no cars in either direction.

You yank the vehicle over, you listen for motors. You hastily squat and yeah, you hear a car approaching…yep. Every. Single. Time. You can drive for literally miles without seeing another car on a Nevada highway and then, the moment you give in, decide to water the weeds a bit, yeah. There’s a freaking parade going by.

Here’s where guys have it easy. They can just casually stand by their collection of metal and rubber wheels, whiz discreetly while pretending to be looking at something by the side of the road. Oh sure, we all know what that guy, standing by his pulled over car or truck is doing. Sure. But we pretend he’s looking at a tree or a river or a crumpled Arby’s sack hanging artistically from a clump of sagebrush.

Whereas women have to yank pants down or lift a skirt, squat. It’s a whole rigmarole. What? Wait until you get to a rest area or a truck stop or a gas station?? Yeah, when the next one is fifty to a hundred miles off? Sometimes the bladder wants what the bladder wants.

Where was I???

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Oh yeah, reading a bit from a short story in Mountain Home, Idaho.

It went well. I enjoyed the other selections. There was local art work, from young kids to the elderly. Idaho has talent and it’s rather surprising how thriving the arty community is. I felt energized. It’s write a novel month coming up in November. I plan to tackle my Starved Out Eastern Oregon ranchers versus Big Gubbermint attempt. No ghosts, goblins, zombies or vampires. None! Just people being all people, as they do at times.

Exit 90 is the exit I took. You then turn right, drive a bit. If you want, you can head off to Bruneau, and the famous sand dunes.

The place I sought sits on the right. El Herradero. I treated myself to enchiladas, pork. I had to go back out, find the other room where the readings would take place. I got there to Mountain Home a bit early.

I managed to read without sounding like a squeaky mouse. I kept my reading fairly short. I used my actor training to modulate my voice. I did not touch the mic which kept going on and off for others, as microphones do at times. The atmosphere for the Whistle Pig gala was pretty laid back, warm, charming and gracious. Everyone seemed to know each other. As you do in a close-knit artist’s community such as this.

Now, I parked across the way, in the Albertson’s parking lot, the Jimmy [GMC] pointed at the one-way street I needed to get back on to get back out to the freeway heading west. I’m always thinking, when I have to get to a new place, how do I get back again. I did manage to find the freeway entrance, in the dark, and got back again obviously, instead of heading off to Twin Falls. Though, if I had gotten on the freeway going the way I did not want to go, I could just take an exit, yeah. Though, that exit might not be for some miles, so. And the cops, even in Idaho, frown at doing a u-turn on the freeway. I joke. Idaho cops would find that a ticket-worthy offense. Among other things.

Speaking of cops!

It was Friday night, so the cops were out IN FORCE. Saw lots of red and blue lights! Even when I got super-close to home, there were cop lights going off. I even thought one was going to pull me over…but it didn’t come after me creeping past the Malheur Butte, wondering where all the papers were, if my license was even in my purse and…yeah.

I had had a Pepsi and a glass of water, so no worries that way. Yay!

Also didn’t take many pictures. I just. Ugh.

To sum up, I got to Mountain Home and back home again. I left at about three thirty, got back at eleven at night on the dot. I read my piece, I didn’t embarrass myself.

It was called Bunny Slipper. About a man who buries his unwanted convenient sort of wife in the Nevada desert and she crawls out of that hole to come find him. Sad, with maggots. Yeah. The usual dreary stuff.

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Molly, the chocolate lab, happy to hear my sedate account of the Mountain Home excursion. 

Death Rattle- Nampa, Idaho

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As I mentioned, I went to a writer’s festival in Nampa, Idaho. It took place downtown, as they say. Outside of the Prefunk Beer Bar on 1st Street, South. You get off on Exit 35, take Northside Avenue.

Saturday, I went to try and sell some books. I roughly had the mood equivalent of a dead turtle, so…won’t go into that because I don’t want to. It rained a bit. I bought some raspberry lemonade fudge from the farmer’s market. Pigeons.

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Setting up on Saturday.

Sunday!!

I drove over, somehow got there in about twenty minutes. As it’s nearly fifty miles to Nampa from my den of utter aloneness, I bent the laws of time and space! Also, the day proved to be a nice one. No rain, no wind, perfect fall weather, though a bit chilly as the day drew onward into the star-smeared night.

A workshop, where everyone there began the initial creation of a comic strip. Led by a lovely woman comics artist from Seattle, I believe. Thu Tran.

How to break up the dialogue. How to create the character or characters that will speak the words.

Write some lines. Try to draw the ones speaking those lines. Practice getting a creation you can draw over and over, until it’s almost automatic.

I did okay. People around were smart, drawing animals or bottles of spaghetti sauce. I drew people. I eventually just got to circle and triangle, with faces on each, for my characters. With differing expressions. I also drew them in profile. This actually helps me, as a playwright and prose spewer, to cut unnecessary dialogue.

What absolutely needs to be said? What can be cut? What is essential? Also, sitting for nearly two hours, drawing, helps calm the anxiety I have being AROUND OTHERS.

I also want to mention another writer I met. Javier Luna. Super-nice, friendly and talented. Thanks for talking to me. I’m an awkward social outcast right now, so thanks. 

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At one of the Lloyd buildings for the poetry readings.

The next big group thing: poetry readings. It took place in one of the buildings over where the farmer’s market had been. I just trailed after people like a stray dog, as I had no idea what building. Was. The building.

I’m also one of those people that when told something will start at X time, I actually expect it to start at X time, not whenever people stop farting around…Okay! But! If you have to set up microphones and move equipment, yep. I get it, I do. Been there myself. I’m always early to stuff, I’m also one of those pests.

I did enjoy this. Some poets more than others, as you do. I rather like the idea that there are so many poets within a hundred mile radius. It’s rather heartening. I liked the humor that crept out or blasted from the get-go in some of those readings. I got to thrill to odd phrases that caught my attention.

I noted that I was not wearing the writer garb nearly everyone else wore– dull colors, sweats, knitted caps, black the primary color…dang it. I wore a bright yellow top with a silver sparkly sweater, and BLACK PANTS. I got part of the Writer Uniform right.

If you’ve ever been to a poetry reading, then you pretty much know how this one went. If not, you should go. Hearing people read their own work should be a life goal if you’ve not done so already. Often times, these readings are free and open to the public, and you get to support a local poet or group of poets. In these times, yeah.

We need our artists. We need them. We need them when things are not whack-a-mole off the charts batshit insane, too.

Slight break, then the flash fiction portion of the evening would begin. Here, the entire kit and kaboodle got moved back to the alley outside the bar. Running a bit late. It’s Sunday night.

Did I mention I’d had two drinks and no food? That I’m trying not to just go home, forget the whole thing? That I kept wondering why I’d worn such bright clothes?? Why hadn’t I slipped a dull hat over my grandma-ish-fixed-and-sprayed hair?? Why??? I had slapped makeup on! Dang it! I have knitted dull hats! Somewhere. 

I had a dragonfruit cider, and then a giant huckleberry one. Prefunk is a microbrewery kinda hipster place. Not really, but sorta, yeah. I thought the dragonfruit cider tasted like a wine cooler. But the huckleberry one tasted swell. Like huckleberries.

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We’re now back outside Prefunk, with the flash fiction portion of the evening about to start.

The flash fiction reading had a theme. High fantasy, fantasy, sword and sorcery, etc! I happened to actually read the submission blurt, and sent in a quick take I had of Rapunzel called Vineheart and the Stolen Daughters.

Originally, this one started off as Prisoner. What a dull, pedestrian title! I wrote the first draft of this for some themed contest, about prisoners or being locked up or blah. I know it had a theme to do with being locked up, breaking free of that. Something like that.

Did my piece win over those who read it? Nope! So I kept reworking my Rapunzel take, renamed it, renamed it again. Have super-long versions, then did a shorty version. Which ended up as a piece to be read at the Death Rattle Flash Fiction portion.

I went third. The night had turned cold enough for coats. October. Sunday evening.

Now, I thought my voice sounded like one of the squeaky mice from Cinderella. Ugh! I did manage to get through it, people listened. It was eight hundred words or so. I didn’t embarrass myself. That’s pretty much all I’ve got to go on these days. That I didn’t embarrass myself in public too badly.

People did stop by to say they enjoyed it. 

The other pieces had a mostly light-hearted, funny bent to them. Very enjoyable to sit there and listen to them. Lots of fun word play, alchemists and witches and dragons. Even an appearance by Persephone. For a tiny bit, the real world couldn’t intrude here. For a tiny bit, one believed everything would turn out okay.

Then, you drive home, after discovering a Burger King on the corner where you need to turn to get back to the freeway. Nothing since a dubious lunch. Burger King it is! Money? Sure, I got some of that scattered in small coins across the bottom of my purse…

To sum up– I attended a local writer’s festival. I enjoyed it. I read a flash fiction piece. I drove home. The end!

Not quite the end yet– I also want to say a big thanks to Sarah, Reed, the tall guy in the baseball cap who did bad high fantasy punning, and the other organizers of this event. Thanks for being welcoming, and inclusive. 

 

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The alley where things took place!