Author Archives: arlynnpresser

a christmas story

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Mrs. Vander Leyden’s Glasses

 

 

There are not many Christmas stories featuring cockroaches although there are many which include angels, kindly strangers, bells, bugles, elves, reindeer and presents beneath tree boughs—none of which will be found in this account of events leading up to Christmas 1981.

Although she is now passed, Mrs. Vander Leyden lived at 30 East Chicago Avenue, at the Lawson YMCA.  Her rent was paid directly to the YMCA by the Wilmington Bank & Trust Company of Delaware and she cashed a dividend check and her Social Security at the Stop N’Drink on the corner.  The Stop N’Drink was a bar insofar as it served drinks and sold packaged goods over plywood strapped onto concrete pylons.  But it also operated as a rough justice credit union.   Regardless of the season, Mrs. Vander Leyden wore a black princess cut wool coat, a black pillbox hat and black shoes.  She carried a black patent leather purse at all times, very close to her body. 

 

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Mrs. Vander Leyden had lived at the YMCA for longer than any employee or resident could remember so it seemed as if she were part of the building, like the granite discus throwers on either side of the first floor entrance, the three red neon letters on the twelfth floor roof (Y blank space CA) or the Seven Virtues mural in the second floor lobby of which four Virtues were covered with announcements about bridge matches, Friends of Bill meetings,  items for sale, and for a social worker who came on Tuesday mornings to help residents figure out their entitlements.

The first, third and fourth floors of the Lawson housed the gym, the swimming pool, and the weight rooms (the clientele being the gentrified folks living to the east of the building).  There was a county hospital detox unit on the first floor at the back of the building.  The fifth floors and beyond had twenty rooms each for residents—the eighth floor for women and the remaining floors for men.  There were two communal bathrooms on each of these floors.

On any given evening the second floor lobby was where the gray haired men played cards underneath the Virtue of Charity and Hope.  There was a television set in the corner, a vending machine, and a bank of lockboxes—every day residents checked for their mail and the pink phone messages left by the switchboard operators.  Mrs. Vander Leyden never was seen in the lobby.  But Mr. Hancock was there from early morning until long past when the window of the front desk was shuttered, as he used one of the tables as his office for a lawsuit so complex and convoluted that nobody was of the energy to ask how his work progressed.

The morning after she moved in, Kristi Hollingsworth answered “yes” when Mr. Hancock asked her in the first floor foyer—right in front of Dwayne’s desk—if she was The Law Student.  This was just how quickly important information and gossip traveled within the building  Mr. Hancock told her he had been unlawfully fired from his position as a union shop man and she gave him the phone number of the Northwestern Law School Legal Clinic and told him to ask for Professor Elson.

“Tell him Kristi Hollingsworth said he could help you,” she told Mr. Hancock.  “And tell him I’m in his Civil Procedure class.  I only just started so he might not remember me.”

Dwayne watched this exchange from behind his desk.  It was his job to know residents and members of the athletic club and to stop anybody who wasn’t authorized from taking the stairs—mostly clients of the rent boys on the twentieth floor.  For that purpose Dwayne wore a uniform and a badge.  Dwayne had been eating his lunch while Mr. Hancock and Kristi talked.  When Mr. Hancock went upstairs to his office, Dwayne pulled his gun from his holster in order to check it, which is something he often did when he was thinking.

“You got rid of that problem,” he said without actually looking at Kristi.  “But I think you now got yourself a bigger one now.”

And indeed, two days later, Professor Elson asked Kristi to remain after his lecture on motions to dismiss. 

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“You ever do that to me again, so help me God,” he said.  “Do you understand me? That man is crazy.  The Trilateral Commission?  The United Nations?  The unions setting out to kill him?  Do you have any idea how long it took me to get off the phone?”

Indeed, Kristi had heard a good deal more in the intervening two days from Mr. Hancock and she understood.  For the rest of the time she lived at the Lawson, she pretended she couldn’t hear Mr. Hancock calling out “It’s the Law Student.  Come here, Law Student!” as she picked up her mail and her messages.

Kristi didn’t notice Mrs. Vander Leyden the first few weeks of that first semester even though they both lived on the eighth floor, a mere four doors from each other. 

Both women approached the elevator at roughly the same time every morning:  Kristi had an eight o’clock Contracts class for which she was always late and Mrs. Vander Leyden went to eight fifteen mass at the Holy Name Cathedral on the corner opposite the Stop N’Drink. 

If the elevator came when Kristi was there, Mrs. Vander Leyden would appear to have suddenly remembered something mislaid or forgotten in her room. 

If Mrs. Vander Leyden entered the elevator first and Kristi was running and yelled for her to hold the door, she seemed to be quite deaf. 

And in every near interaction, Mrs. Vander Leyden also gave the appearance of being quite blind, as her black rimmed glasses were scratched to a sheen that made eye contact impossible. 

Kristi wasn’t particularly aware of her surroundings.  She would not have made a good detective.  She didn’t expect to make a good lawyer.  She had enrolled in law school because the economy was bad and school—any kind of school—seemed like a good place to lay low until good jobs were to be had.  As a sign of her lack of deductive powers one October morning, she walked outside and was intrigued by a car that appeared to have had its hood and roof knocked in, but otherwise remained completely pristine—as pristine as any fifteen year old car can be. 

It was as if God had smashed his fist down in a fit of pique.

“What kind of car accident does that?”  she wondered.  And it wasn’t until she came back to the Lawson that afternoon that Dwayne commented.

“It was a jumper,” he said.  He was standing outside the entrance, in front of a granite discus thrower, taking a break to smoke cigarettes and harass the passing women with his friend Douglas.

“Checked into the twelfth floor and just jumped,” Douglas fulminated.  “They say he was a poet.  Published something.”

“If’n it was me, I’d check into the Ritz Carlton hotel,” Dwayne said.  “Not this place.”

Some men who had come outside to enjoy the sun and they laughed, one of them declaring that he’d order up some room service before he’d go.  The conversation made an epistemological turn.  Could fish eggs be all that caviar was said to be and was it worth trying for a final meal?   Was champagne or Courvoisier was a better bracer before one jumped?  Would a cigar be nice or just a regular pack of cigarettes?   

Then the men talked about women.  And what kind would be the best to have if it was to be the last time.

“I’d want a white woman,” one of them opined.  “Because a black woman gets in her groove and it’s the same motion over and over until she pops.  Now, a white woman, she jerks around and screws up the rhythm and it’s a surprise what she’s going to do next.”

“And they sure love the dick,” another said.  “You can best believe that white guys don’t got no dick and they don’t know what to do with what all they do got.”

Dwayne, Douglas, and every man looked at Kristi Hollingsworth for some sort of editorial comment.

Kristi could feel the hives rising up her chest and coloring her face.  She excused herself as she had homework.  The first year of law school was brutal and she was no intellect.  Douglas asked if he could speak with her.

“Sure,” Kristi said.

“Well, I need to talk to you private like.”

“Okay.”

He led her into the alley out back near the intake door for the detox unit.  He offered her a cigarette but she said she didn’t smoke.

“So let’s say you commit a crime,” Douglas said.  He paused just a moment to take a first drag.  “A bunch of time has gone by and then the law can’t do anything.  What’s that called?”

“Statute of limitations.”

“That’s it.  That’s it.  Well, how long before that kicks in?”

“Depends on the crime,” she said.  And as he considered this, she added, “the worse the crime the longer the statute of limitations.”

“What’s the worst crime you can think of?”

“Killing your grandmother?” 

“Worse than that.”

Kristi felt a tugging like the tides heading towards the lake and away from Douglas but he reached out a hand and rubbed her sleeve. 

“I’m not fixing to do any harm to you.  I just want an answer.”

“We haven’t gotten to that in Crim but I believe it’s something like twenty years.  For the worst crime I can think of.”

“Aw, that ain’t gonna be no help.”

“Maybe you should go to Mexico,” Kristi said, slipping towards the sidewalk but Douglas held firm onto her sleeve.  “They don’t have an extradition treaty.”

“What’s that?”

“It means they won’t send you back to the States.”

“I have relatives in California.”

“We have extradition with California.”

Dwayne stood at the end of the alley fingering his gun.  Douglas relinquished Kristi’s arm.

“Hey, you want to take a look at my woman?” Dwayne asked Kristi, following her into the building.  “Here, let me show you.  What do you think?”

He pulled from his wallet a Polaroid of a naked woman with her legs spread around a bottle of Courvoisier. 

“See, this is why I don’t have to think about jumping,” he said.  “And it’s also why you don’t have to worry about me when I say I’m watching out for you.  Because you are way out of your league with this group and I don’t want to see you hurt.”

“I know both of those things to be true.”

“Just so you do.  People here are dangerous.”

And that’s when Kristi first gave any notice to Mrs. Vander Leyden.  While she could believe the rent boys, the crazy mutterers, the ex-cons, and Mr. Hancock were dangerous, she couldn’t imagine Mrs. Vander Leyden being any trouble whatsoever. 

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, when it was still nice enough to walk to the school in her jeans and a t-shirt, with a just in case sweater in her backpack, Kristi was intrigued by a crowd held behind velvet rope at the Park Hyatt entrance.   The Park Hyatt was a magnificent hotel equidistant from the Lawson and the law school and Kristi was saving her money for a Christmas brunch there.  Several well dressed men hovered around a black limousine festooned with two British flags on its hood.  Kristi watched for several minutes from across the street—mindful that Professor Rahl had said that if she were late for one more Antitrust lecture he would drop her grade a full letter. 

The Prince emerged from the hotel.  He was shorter than Kristi expected, but trim and his suit jacked sported a few medals.  He accepted two bouquets from children in the crowd.  He shook hands with some of the onlookers and smiled pleasantly at the photographers. 

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Mrs. Vander Leyden stood at the outer reaches of the crowd, positioned near the front hood of the limousine.  The Prince turned to make a few remarks, none of which could be heard from across the street.  Then he got into the limousine.  Mrs. VanderLeyden fell to a curtsey that was not quite worthy of a Texas debutante and yet quite worthy of an American citizen paying homage to a foreign potentate.  She remained in that position until the limousine had disappeared into traffic and the crowd had dissipated.  Then she rose with a solemnity of a woman who had been in the presence of a miracle.

Kristi decided in that moment that she liked Mrs. Vander Leyden, although she did not—at that time—know her name.  That she had to ask Dwayne about.

“She comes from money,” Dwayne added.  “It had to have been there.  Check out her shoes.  They’re old, they need to be re-soled, but they’re Ferragamo.  Salvatore Ferragamo.  He’s big in Italy.  And she always wears gloves and the hat.  That’s old school.  But crazy.  Definitely.  Why else would she stay?  Anybody sane with a wallet would get themselves the hell out of here.”

Kristi had been raised a Methodist, then sort of fell out of the habit.  But the five fifteen mass at Holy Name was a short one and the relief priests had interesting homilies.  The first time she took communion the priest hesitated, holding the wafer until she remembered to say “amen” to the body of Christ.   She read the order of service and got to be pretty adept at some parts of the Nicene Creed and at mumbling through the parts she couldn’t memorize.  There was a regular dozen that came to the service and Mrs. Vander Leyden was one of them.  Once, when Kristi tried to say “peace be with you” to her during the course of the service, Mrs. Vander Leyden declined to acknowledge her.

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It was the Advent Season.   On the steps of the church, as Kristi paused to watch the first snowflakes swirl liked fireflies around the streetlights, Mrs. Vander Leyden walked past her, clutching her black patent leather purse to her chest and muttering a vicious incantation.

“The law student, the law student, she breaks every law in the books!”

There are people who shrug off the inexplicable, the strange.  They can hear something directed at them and deflect it, perhaps even laugh at it.  Kristi was not one of these people.  She stood at the church, watching Mrs. Vander Leyden walk across the street.  The older woman paused only once, decided against entering the Stop N’Drink, quickened her pace as she crossed the alley next to the Lawson, and then finally disappeared into the brightly lit foyer. 

Kristi stood for so long that the priest, readying to lock up for the night, stepped outside and asked her if she was all right.  She said she was and then she covered the same trail as Mrs. Vander Leyden before her.  When Dwayne asked if she were all right, she repeated that she was.  She picked up her mail.  There was a red envelop postmarked Palm Springs, California. 

“Law student!  Hey, law student!  Come here, I have some interesting new developments to tell you about!”

Mr. Hancock’s voice was not rhythmic or steely as Mrs. Vander Leyden’s, but now the words “law student” spooked Kristi and when the elevator delivered her to the eighth floor she kept one hand braced for a quick exit if Mrs. Vander Leyden were to ambush her. 

But the hall was empty. 

She went to her room. 

She slipped off her jacket and put the red envelop on the desk in front of her.

While her first impulse was to rip up the card and her second to cry, Kristi implemented the third impulse.  She put her hands out onto the desk.  Putting pressure on the pinkie finger of her left hand, she said “I’m in law school.” 

Then she pressed down the ring finger of her left hand while saying “I’m going to make a good living when I get out of law school.”  Putting pressure on the middle finger of her left hand, she reminded herself that she had enough money to buy food.  The index finger was about the guy in Civ Pro—Andy–who had asked if she would share her notes from two Antitrust classes he had missed.  Maybe he liked her.  The thumb was that she had enough money to buy a lipstick from Clinique and they were having a gift with purchase at the Marshall Field’s and she could go there tomorrow if she wanted.  Onward through the right hand the litany of blessings but the effect on her mood didn’t last as long as she would have liked.   She decided to take a shower.  She gathered up her soap, towel, toothbrush, body lotion and a razor. 

Mrs. Vander Leyden stood across from her door, leaning against the wall.  Her glasses were like twin pale moons set on a black sky.

“Good evening,” Kristi said.  She walked down the hall towards the communal showers.

“The law student, the law student, she breaks every law in the books,” Mrs. Vander Leyden chanted.  “The law student, the law student.”

Kristi had had no trouble, or not much, since starting law school.  This was trouble.

Kristi closed the door to the showers and even though it was not the custom on the eighth floor, she locked it behind her.  After an unsatisfactory shower, she braced herself to find Mrs. Vander Leyden lying in wait. 

The hall was empty.

Mrs. Vander Leyden played a large role in Kristi’s habits during the Advent Season.  No more going to mass because Kristi was afraid Mrs. Vander Leyden would disrupt a service which she did the day after the red envelop was delivered.  Nor would Kristi buy beer at the Stop N’Drink because she wasn’t sure that Mrs. Vander Leyden might not be cashing a check.  Kristi took the stairs rather than the elevator and she didn’t linger at Dwayne’s desk in the afternoons.  Still, Mrs. Vander Leyden appeared not even just outside Kristi’s door, but also at odd places where Kristi had never before seen her—at the coffee shop, at the park, and, most disturbing, at the vendor truck outside the law school. 

Each time, Mrs. Vander Leyden chanted her curse until Kristi found an escape.

Now, the Lawson provided daily maid service just like any fine hotel.  The eighth floor’s maid was named Alyce and she entered every eighth floor resident’s room more or less every twenty four hours in order to ascertain that rent checks would be forthcoming because certainly the dead cannot pay.  New towels were handed out on Fridays but only if the towel used in the previous week was laid on the floor outside one’s door.  Sheets were changed every other week.  And there was a random vacuuming, but nothing to keep a calendar by. 

The Friday before Christmas, Kristi returned from her last final and was followed from the stairwell to her room by Mrs. Vander Leyden.  Alyce was changing the sheets in Kristi’s room and there wasn’t enough space for the two of them—and this is not a comment on Alyce’s avoir dupois.  Nonetheless, Kristi closed the door to Mrs. Vander Leyden and got up on top of the desk to give Alyce room to do her job.

“What am I going to do?”  Kristi asked.

“She’s a crazy one, she is.  She got into it with me, this would have been three years ago, and you know what?  I don’t ever ever ever go in her room.  She could be dead in her sleep for a week and the only way we’re going to find out is when I smell something terrible from under the door. Something smelling more terrible.”

“But what do I do?”

“To make her stop going off on you?”  Alyce asked.  “I have no idea.  Maybe you just got to learn to live with it.”

“That’s what Dwayne says.  But I can’t.”

“Then maybe you got to move out.”

“I don’t have any place else to go.”

“Well, that’s why any of us are here.”

As Alyce waddled out of the room, she put her hand very briefly—and not just to support her weight—on Kristi’s shoulder. 

“She’s not out there.”

“But she’ll be back,” Kristi said.

After Alyce left, Kristi sat down proper at her desk and the ten fingers were counted:  I’m finished with finals.  I think I got a good grade in Antitrust.  I’ve been invited to my Contracts Prof’s Christmas party.  I have a study date with Andy.

But she couldn’t finish.  The prospect of Mrs. Vander Leyden appearing at the doorway of her Contracts professor’s house was enough to derail even the most heartfelt shout out of thanks to the universe.  She spent the rest of the evening reading the same page of a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

On the following morning, Kristi woke up to a miserable wailing from outside her room. 

It could have been somebody injured—in October, a woman had come back to the Lawson after having been shot in the shoulder and she had sounded something like this.  Oh, how Alyce had complained about the blood on the carpet! 

It could have been an animal, but it would have to be a large one for the sound it was making. 

Kristi put her head under her pillow and wondered when Alyce was going to start shouting for help.

And then she remembered that it was Christmas Eve.  Alyce had the day off and the next day.  Many of the women on the floor had gone to relatives or friends.  It might even be just Kristi left behind.  She picked up the phone and dialed the switchboard.

“I’m not sending anybody up there unless you tell me what it is,” the operator said.

“I don’t know.”

“Yeah, well, there it is.”

The howling continued after the operator hung up.  Kristi was no hero.  She wasn’t brave.  She wasn’t particularly curious—the satisfaction of curiosity being, in her experience, disappointment.  But she opened the door and looked out into the hallway. 

The howling was Mrs. Vander Leyden, crouched on the floor directly in front of the open door to her room.  She wore a nightgown that had once been white and once had lace.  She pulled her hands away from her face as Kristi warily approached. The two women stared at each other, although it was clear to Kristi that Mrs. Vander Leyden couldn’t see at all without her glasses.

“Mrs. Vander Leyden, what’s wrong?” 

“Who are you?”

“I’m .  . . the law student.”

“I can’t see.  I can’t find my glasses.  Help me.”

“I’ll find your glasses, Mrs. Vander Leyden.”

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This is the part of this Christmas story where there are cockroaches.  A large number of them.  A writhing, living bulbous intrusion on the wall was the first thing Kristi saw and she thought “this is where they all come from”.  Then there were the newspapers, stacked from floor to ceiling and tied with twine—and cockroaches skittered between pages and around the stacks.  How Mrs. Vander Leyden negotiated with the newspapers and the cockroaches was a mystery as Kristi could see no desk, no chair, no nightstand, no bed.  The glasses were on top of a stack of papers that seemed to be church bulletins from several decades gone.

“Here they are,” Kristi said.  She helped the glasses into Mrs. Vander Leyden’s shaking hands. 

Mrs. Vanderleiden put them on and goggled at Kristi.

“Bless you!  Bless you!”

Mrs. Vander Leyden grabbed Kristi’s hands and pressed them to her lips. 

“It’s all right, really, it’s all right,” Kristi said.

She helped Mrs. Vander Leyden get to her feet.

“What did you say your name was again?”

“Kristi.”

“That’s a lovely name.”

“Thank you.  Merry Christmas, Mrs. Vander Leyden.” 

“Merry Christmas, Kristi,” Mrs. Vander Leyden said.

Then Mrs. Vander Leyden entered her realm of cockroaches and paper.  She closed the door.  Kristi went back to her own room.  The red envelop was still on her desk.  It was early.  Officially, she should wait until the next morning.  But this was as good of a time as it was going to get and it would have to be done.  She sat down and opened it.

Inside was a Christmas card, all right.  Pale blue with a little boy holding a song book.  There was a little bit of glitter and a background of snowflakes.  On the inside, the inscription read “Tis the season, wishing you a joyous Christmas” and the signature was “love, Mom” with the word love smudged as if there had been some misapprehension placed into its four letters.

Kristi put her hands out on the desk.  She realized she was smiling. 

She put pressure on all ten fingers and said “I found Mrs. Vander Leyden’s glasses.”

 

 


my midlife crisis act 1: the car, the ex and the view from the rear view mirror

you are walking out of starbucks and there he is:  the ex.  otherwise known as the heartbreak kid.  mr. wrong. or maybe mr. what-was-i-thinking?  

I used to answer A, mostly because every day is a bad hair day for me.   And nothing makes a bad hair day the baddest than running into an ex.

the trumpster must run into an ex every day,  or maybe he's just gotten over worrying about it!

the trumpster must run into an ex every day, or maybe he’s just gotten over worrying about it!

sometimes i have answered B, hoping that the new dude will be so handsome, so sweet, so machismo that i will give off the “i am so over you” vibe. then this happened to me. . . .

“glad to meet you,” the ex said to the newly minted boyfriend.  “And let me introduce you to my girlfriend.  She’s a nuclear physicist.”

i stared at the drop dead gorgeous woman.

“yeah, right,”  i said.

“no, really, i am a phsyicist,” she said.  “i’m with argonne national laboratories.”

awkward!  and worse, i got a text a half hour later from the ex.

“he seems nice,”  it read.

nice?  what does nice mean?

most recently, I ran into ron.  he was my first post-divorce relationship.  he’s a doctor, devoted dad, articulate, funny, and I fell hard.  but he wanted a much younger woman and that’s exactly who was standing beside him on the sidewalk.  with the stroller.  in front of starbucks.  and the newborn.  i had three inch unwashed roots.  it had been a year and a half since we had run into each other.  but, again, bad hair days attract exes.

“oh, hey, fancy meeting you here,” he said.

did i mention he had a thing about cars?  ron could look at any car and tell you the make, the model, the year, and he always had an opinion about whether it was a car he would care to drive.  oh, wait, every man is like that!

“this a 2003 nissan 350z,” he said.  “great car.  i’m going to get one of those someday.  oh, uh, may I introduce you to my wife stephanie?”

we exchanged wary nicetameetcha’s. ron continued to stare at the car.  really, it was as if you had dropped a playboy centerfold on the curb.

“it’s really the dupont chromillusion custom paint job that makes it special,” i said.

“i didn’t know you knew that much about cars,” ron said.

“i don’t.  i just know my car.  it’s my midlife crisis.”

and it is.  it makes me feel younger, it makes me feel not so bad about being alone and about the kids going off to school, it says “you’ve still got it, arlynn” even when i can’t remember to get my hair done.

so i got in.  watching his dumbfounded gaze in the rear view mirror was a bonus.  To an already wonderful feeling about the car.  It attracts attention, as in kids asking if they can sit in the driver’s seat and have their pictures taken.  It makes me feel cool, which is always a good thing for a gal.   and it actually costs me less to insure than my suburban matron ex-vehicle the mini-coop.

.

you are walking out of starbucks and run into your ex.  what should you do?  pull the keys out of your purse and drive!


facebook, please give brad pitt my cell number!

not that i’m complaining.

so many people are worried about the disclosure that facebook, twitter, verizon, google–all the fun stuff we play with on the computer when we’re supposed to be productive–have all been giving the government our posts, tweets, messages so that the government can determined whether we’re losers at dating, whether we are team downton abbey or team kardashian and whether we really did call our mom and try to leave a message but something happened. . . .

and it’s pretty scary to think of obama reading my facebook posts and my cell texts. . . (p.s. note to youngerstud, i

facebook “bug” has been of more than six million users for the past year.

the social network began offering a “download your information” tool, which facebook now says has also been downloading other people’s information, including other user’s email addresses and phone numbers, since at least 2012. this information was shared to people who “had a connection” to the affected users.

my relationship to brad pitt is more spiritual than a mere acceptance of a friend request.  still, is that enough that facebook would pretty please send him my cell phone number?

my relationship to brad pitt is more spiritual than a mere acceptance of a friend request. still, is that enough that facebook would pretty please send him my cell phone number?

facebook says it has fixed the bug and is in the process of notifying the affected users via the same email addresses that the company has already freely given out.  however, i have noticed that nobody named brad has been calling me.  facebook, could you please use your loose lips talent for the forces of good instead of evil???


cherries in the snow

in the dark ages of publishing, which is to say twenty years ago when i sold my first book, an author had to endure rejection. . .and more rejection.  one’s manuscript went to a publisher, a rejection was issued, and the writer had a choice of a) sending said manuscript to another publisher or b) slitting one’s wrists.

really, this sort of correspondence can kill a writer's dreams but this is exactly the sort of stuff one endured.  again.  and again.  and again.

really, this sort of correspondence can kill a writer’s dreams but this is exactly the sort of stuff one endured. again. and again. and again.

 

these days, there’s self-publishing.  or what was once called “vanity” publishing.  it’s not that the self-publishing author is vain.  it’s that the self-publishing author is sick and tired of rejection.

i haven’t actually self-published my latest piece but that’s only because i have a very good friend oj dorson who knows how to upload or download or whatever it is that makes a story show up on the shelves, er, pages of amazon.com.  i also have a friend tony tyner who is killer at making cover art.

so i hope you go download this and read it and tell me what you think!  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DEQQZTW

so i hope you go download this and read it and tell me what you think!  it’s a heartwarming story about a funeral home, an ill-advised one night stand, and unrequited love.

 

so if you click here http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DEQQZTW and download it.  you don’t even have to have a kindle to do this!  and if you have stories you want to make available to others, you can do it too.  by yourself or with a friend like oj.

richard brautigan was a fabulous american poet and novelist who believed that there should be public libraries in which were housed one book by every citizen of the land.  this democratization of literature is exactly the sort of thing that self-publishing on the internet allows for!

richard brautigan was a fabulous american poet and novelist who believed that there should be public libraries in which were housed one book by every citizen of the land. this democratization of literature is exactly the sort of thing that self-publishing on the internet allows for!

 


narcissism and me

are you shallow and insecure?  egocentric?  imbued with a false sense of your importance and popularity?  maybe even, well let’s be fair, a jerk?  okay, the clinic term is narcissist and it’s a disease that is so tragic and profound that it doesn’t even have a celebrity spokesperson.

narcissus was a mythological greek dude who fell in love with his reflection in a lake and died because he just couldn't tear himself away from the beautiful sight.  narcissism is a catch all psychological term for anybody who thinks to highly of themselves or any one of your exes.

narcissus was a mythological greek dude who fell in love with his reflection in a lake and died because he just couldn’t tear himself away from the beautiful sight. narcissism is a catch all psychological term for anybody who thinks to highly of themselves.  narcissism also refers to the personality disorder of any one of your exes.

the university of michigan has released a study that concludes that social media sites like twitter and facebook draw in narcissists who want to bolster their fragile egos, control everybody’s great opinion of them, and post about what they are having for dinner.  study director elliot panek says that young narcissists opt for twitter while middle aged narcissists (a.k.a. jerks) use facebook.  

“young people overvaluate the importance of their opinion,” he says.  “through twitter, they’re trying to broaden their social circles and broadcast their views about a wide range of topics and issues.”

mr panek, there's ovulate, there's overvalue, there's evaluate.  unfortunately, there is no :"overvaluate" unless, of course, you have overvalued your . . . oh, never mind.

mr panek, there’s ovulate, there’s overvalue, there’s evaluate. unfortunately, there is no :”overvaluate” unless, of course, you have overvalued your . . . oh, never mind.

 

middle aged narcissists, according to this study, choose facebook.  slow, stately facebook.

“it’s about curating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image,” said panek. “middle-aged adults usually have already formed their social selves and they use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circles.”

okay, well, glad we cleared all this up for everybody.  young narcissists and middle aged narcissists . . . we gotta ask. . .

 

me?  i’m on facebook, i’m middle aged, i’m willing to entertain all diagnoses.

just in case you’re curious–as near as i can figure out elliot panek is a linkedin social media user.  wonder what that means?


shameless selfie fierce?

facebook, instagram, twitter, we call it social media but really it’s selfie media.  you post about what you had for dinner, you share the link to your favorite song, you opine.

the former nickelodeon actress and erstwhile fashion designer amanda bynes has been posting "selfies" -- pictures of one's self that often include one's hand holding the camera or phone.  amanda has been tracking her path of selfdestruction with twitter posts including increasingly bizarre selfies. she was recently evicted from her apartment in new york and arrested on drug charges.  there is some indication she suffers from schizophrenia.

the former nickelodeon actress and erstwhile fashion designer amanda bynes has been posting “selfies” — pictures of one’s self that often include one’s hand holding the camera or phone. amanda has been tracking her path of self-destruction with twitter posts including increasingly bizarre selfies. she was recently evicted from her apartment in new york and arrested on drug charges. there is some indication she suffers from schizophrenia.

this sharing sounds fierce, brave, and just an extension of being open and honest.  we share ourselves and, you know what?, this week we’ve been shaken to the core by disclosures that the obama administration is using over fifty companies to harvest information about everything we communicate.  if you have a verizon account, for instance, every message, every text, every phone call is potentially in play.  it’s gotta be pretty boring for government agents to sort through “whaddup?” and “r u around?” and “c u l8r!”

edward snowden, a 29 year old cia consultant, fled to hong kong with documents that outline the extent of our government's trampling of our privacy.  as he says  "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."  he is quite aware that he has forfeited his freedom, the option to ever return home and quite possibly his life.

edward snowden, a 29 year old cia consultant, fled to hong kong with documents that outline the extent of our government’s trampling of our privacy. as he says “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.” he is quite aware that he has forfeited his freedom, the option to ever return home and quite possibly his life.

 

so while snowden does his best to highlight how the government is peeking at stuff that might be considered private, the amanda bynes of the world are tweeting and posting and updating us on all sorts of things. . . .

a lot of amanda's tweets are about ugliness.  as in courtney love is ugly, jenny mccarthy is ugly, and that rhianna was beat up by chris brown because she is ugly.  weird, because amanda was really a very beautiful girl before she started posting and tweeting her transformation.  i'm glad she doesn't know me because i'm sure she would tweet that i'm ugly too.

a lot of amanda’s tweets are about ugliness. as in courtney love is ugly, jenny mccarthy is ugly, and that rhianna was beat up by chris brown because she is ugly. weird, because amanda was really a very beautiful girl before she started posting and tweeting her transformation. i’m glad she doesn’t know me because i’m sure she would tweet that i’m ugly too.

you can’t permanent erase this stuff and it is just so easy to issue the usual “don’t post stuff that you wouldn’t want an employer to see” or “everything on the internet is forever”. . . i’m sorta wondering about all those selfies i’ve posted on facebook.  i might be pissed off the government can spy on me but what do i expect?  i’ve made it incredibly easy for them.


finally, i am a winner!

i was so enchanted and excited to receive the following email this morning!  it’s from the facebook online international lottery and it just confirms what i’ve known all along–i’m a winner!

FACEBOOK ONLINE INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY
FROM: THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT.
INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD.
BATCH NUMBER: FB-0281/544
SERIAL NUMBER: 99352748-2013
TICKET NUMBER: FB-172-60
CATEGORY: 2ND

The Entire Facebook Team are very happy to inform you that your name appear on the FACEBOOK ONLINE INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY and we are giving out the total sum of US$950,000.00 (Nine HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND UNITED STATE DOLLARS) which is what you have just won.

Your name was selected in a raffle that was made for the FACEBOOK ONLINE INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY for the new year 2013 with the lucky number (FB-225-7736) so we need your fast response so that we can proceed with the claim process of your winnings.

Your name was selected by Mr Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook (Founder & amp Chief Executive Officer ). The promotion was made to make all facebook users to benefit from the profit the company made while they use facebook.

Facebook is the first and ever largest means of meeting both old and new friend.

The promo was done to serve as a means of appreciation to visitors on our site and also to help people to fight off poverty and to maintain a good standard of living.

Kindly contact Mr. Thomas Charlse the General secretary of the FACEBOOK TEAM and appointed as your claims officer via this email (facebookclaimsdeptt61@live.com) immediately with the following information about you below:

Full Name:
Residential Address:
Private Mobile Number:
Age:
Occupation:
Marital Status:
Sex:
City:
State:
Country:
Zip/Postal Code:

As soon as he gets your email with all the information stated above he will tell you on what next to do as regards the claiming and receiving of your winnings of US$950,000.00.

Thank you and More Congratulations.

Agent Name: Thomas Charlse for CDAA

Get some Zero paid Gear FBI SCAM PROTECTED

Note: For security reasons and due to the mix-up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this notification strictly from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by non-participants of this program. BE WARNED"

so the question is, what do i do now???

mrs. vander leyden’s glasses, (nearly) free literature and no english teachers

this past week, my friend and publisher oj dorson released the newest read–mrs. vander leyden’s glasses–on amazon.com.  you don’t have to have a kindle but it’s nice if you do.  you can read it on your phone, you can read it on a plane, you can read it in the bath.  but please, no reading while driving.

this read was published by oj dorson and the cover art created by tony tyner.  it is just 99 cents which is such a steal!

this read was published by oj dorson and the cover art created by tony tyner. it is just 99 cents which is pretty sweet and (nearly) free!

you can get this heartbreaking work of staggering genius (or just this story) at http://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Vander-Leydens-Glasses-ebook/dp/B00CQAQ6XC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369064472&sr=8-1&keywords=mrs.+vander+leyden%27s+glasses.

if you want an english teacher to demand that you do some derrida like deconstruction of the text, you have to order that separately.  i think you should just sit back and enjoy. . .

if you want an english teacher to demand that you do some derrida like deconstruction of the text, you have to order that separately.

deconstruction of text has been something i haven’t had to deal with in a while.  nor english teachers, not that there is anything wrong with english teachers.  generally, any love of reading didn’t come from an english class.  another thing i haven’t had to deal with in a bit is an editor wielding a rejection letter.

really, this sort of correspondence can kill even the best ambitions. shouldn't we do our best to avoid putting ourselves through this?

really, this sort of correspondence can kill even the best ambitions. shouldn’t we do our best to avoid putting ourselves through this?

 

instead, i just posted on facebook that i needed some help figuring out how to publish a story.  and oj appeared.  then i said i needed a cover.  and tony and oj put one together.  i can’t say i’m great at self-promoting. . .

in 2011 i had a new years resolution to meet all 325 of my facebook friends no matter where they might be.  then i wrote a book about it which has been published by tate publishing company.  i thought they had a publicity department and maybe they do.  or at least they have some gal who sends group email exhorting me (and presumably other tate writers) to get the word out.  the reclusive writer j.d. salinger wouldn't have survived this modern age.  on the other hand, he was said to have continued to write long after he had decided to not publish.  is it literature if you don't have an interaction between a reader and a writer?  uh-oh, that sounds like something an english teacher would  inquire about.

in 2011 i had a new years resolution to meet all 325 of my facebook friends no matter where they might be. then i wrote a book about it which has been published by tate publishing company. i thought they had a publicity department and maybe they do. or at least they have some gal who sends group email exhorting me (and presumably other tate writers) to get the word out. the reclusive writer j.d. salinger wouldn’t have survived this modern age. on the other hand, he was said to have continued to write long after he had decided to not publish. is it literature if you don’t have an interaction between a reader and a writer? uh-oh, that sounds like something an english teacher would inquire about.

 

 

 


immortality in five easy steps

it’s what the egyptians wanted with their mummies and their pyramids.  it’s what ponce de leon wanted with the fountain of youth.  it’s why vampires get weary, mostly because they’ve figured out that immortality is fun . . . for the first thousand years or so.

woody allen opined that he didn’t want to be immortal through his work. . . he wanted to achieve it through not dying.

eternal nothingness is fine if you're dressed for it. . . another fine quote from the man

eternal nothingness is fine if you’re dressed for it. . . another fine quote from the man

 

but what if physical immortality isn’t possible (well, actually, it isn’t possible but that’s another really depressing blog post)

what if instead of physical immortality you’re going to have to do it through good works?  you could found a a country, but that seems to be a rather crowded field.  you could write a heartbreaking work of impossible genius but that’s going to cut into the time you spend watching reruns of parks and recreation.  you could commit a major crime, which seems to be how some people are trying to do this, but that would break your mother’s heart.  and you don’t look good in an orange jumpsuit, trust me, nobody does.  so maybe you’re thinking immortality isn’t going to be for you. . . i’m here to tell you you’re wrong.  you’re going to be immortal.  sure, it’s in a literary sense, but that’s better than the big zero. and immortality is only going to cost you 99 cents.

steps to immortality:

1.  get comfortable in front of your computer.

2.  go to http://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Vander-Leydens-Glasses-ebook/dp/B00CQAQ6XC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368534528&sr=8-1&keywords=mrs.+vander+leyden%27s+glasses

this read was published by oj dorson and the cover art created by tony tyner.  your little slice of the literary heavens will be available on amazon.com within a few months!

this read was published by oj dorson and the cover art created by tony tyner. your little slice of the literary heavens will be available on amazon.com within a few months!

3.  buy it.  read it.  and here’s the tricky part:  review it.  you can probably skate on buying it but reviewing it, gotta do it.

4.  i don’t care if you review it and says it’s great.  or lousy.  or that you couldn’t finish it.  or that you’re an english lit teacher and you’re putting me under citizen’s arrest for defiling the english language.

5.  i am now in your debt.  which means, i will write my next story about you.  yes, you.  which means that you become as much a part of literature as elizabeth bennett, holden caulfield, or that danish prince.  no guarantees on the quality of the work, but enthusiasm will be aplenty.

and if woody allen offers you a better deal, i only hope that you’ll tell me how he does it!

 


bang with friends

do you use bang with friends–the anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night?  well, if you do, maybe i know about it.  or maybe i don’t.

bang with friends is an app that sorts through your facebook friends list, looking for friends who are interested in a casual hook up.  if both of you are both  interested, bang with friends will put you in touch.   where and how you bang is up to you.

bang with friends is an app that sorts through your facebook friends list, looking for friends who are interested in a casual hook up. if both of you are both interested, bang with friends will put you in touch. where and how you bang is up to you.

it’s not the sort of app you want your parents or your coworkers to know you’re using.  ditto that ex-boyfriend whom you keep on your friends list because you want to check out his new squeezes–knowing you’re using the app would make you seem so . . . desperate.  bang with friends has been slammed by the clueless media outlets like huffington for letting everybody know just how desperate you are.  worst nightmare, right?  especially if it turned out you AND your parents were using it.

but media reports are quite wrong, with a caveat.  bang with friends automatically adjusts its privacy setting.  right now it’s set at “only me” being allowed to see that you’ve installed the app.  on the other hand, there are people who joined bang with friends before january when facebook graph search opened up everybody’s treasure box of apps.  that just means that if you installed this app before january and you don’t want anybody except that casual encounter you’re about to have to know that you’re using, you have to manually adjust your privacy setting.

or you could just not use the app, book a flight to vegas and see what happens.

 


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