Power Love

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25 September 2009

Hat with Occasional Lyrics

If you suspect I ripped off the title of this post from a Jonathan Lethem novel and then reconfigured it so it would appear as though I didn't rip off the title of this post from a Jonathan Lethem novel, you are correct.

Recently, I was walking down Belmont Avenue, eastward, to the lake, where I dock my yacht. I was wearing my cowboy hat because that's what one wears when one approaches a docked yacht, and as I was crossing Halsted, I noticed a tall, handsome man standing on the corner. He was still while others scrambled around him and if I didn't know that the city owned that corner, I would've assumed he did.

He wore a brown pin-striped suit, perfectly tailored, a blue tie knotted at his throat, and a pink bowler hat. Like, Bazooka bubble gum pink.I was impressed. The I-own-this-corner posture, the impeccably-fitted suit, THE PINK HAT.

As I walked up to him, what could I do but smile hugely? Own it dude, which I of course did not say because that is not something you say to a dude who is actually already owning it, and he caught my eye and we had A Moment. A Hat Moment.

He smiled broadly (perfectly white, perfectly straight teeth)(of course) and tilted his chin at me. "I like your hat," he said. "I like YOUR hat," I said. And there we were, on the corner of Belmont and Halsted, him in his pink bowler, me in my cowboy hat, sharing a moment that we would not have had if we were not wearing hats. It is a lesson to all, I'd say. Peace through hats. For the record, I was also wearing clean underwear, which is just as important as wearing a hat, but not as obvious, unless you want it to be.

18 September 2009

One of my stories is on CellStories today.

11 September 2009

Recently, I went to the Minnesota State Fair, where there was much joviality, most likely the result of day-long orgies of food, conveniently served on sticks. It was heavenly. During my tenure, which some have called my Reign of Terror, I was presented with one of the finest examples of our species' creative marvels: the deep-fried Twinkie. Like a shiny oasis in the middle of the desert, except not really because it was surrounded by other booths and it was a fall-like day, the deep-fried Twinkie booth loomed like God. Glory bless!
The artisans working behind the counter were whistling a happy tune. The sun was shining. Small, blue birds rested on my shoulders until I shooed them away because those things carry diseases. A red carpet unfurled itself from the booth. Two lines of trumpet-playing lords tooted my arrival. I skipped gracefully down my path to my rightful place in front of the booth. I looked up.
The trumpet-playing lords suddenly stopped playing. The red carpet started shriveling underneath my feet. This is what the sign said: Deep Fried Twinkies.
Deep Fried Twinkies.
Not a hyphen in sight. Now, what was I to make of this? Were they serving deep Twinkies that were also fried? And did they mean "deep" metaphorically? Like, able to grasp complex, philosophical concepts, while also being fried? Were these magic Twinkies?
I was so confused, I had to sit down. Luckily, there was a giant, cushy mushroom in the shape of a Laz-E-Boy next to the booth. The artisans were clearly unaware of their malignability against the hyphen. Could you blame them? They were caught in the throes of creativity--dipping each Twinkie-on-a-stick into luscious, buttery batter; dunking them into roiling vats of oil; and then--Glory! Bless!--striping each Twinkie with a line of chocolate and topping with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
I can see how having all that could possibly preclude one from considering hyphenation, but I say to you: Citizens of the World! Who are we as a society if we do not punctuate correctly in the best of times? What will we do during the worst of times? Let go of punctuation altogether? Periodless sentences? Questions that remain forever unanswered because we've forgotten the question mark? WHAT WILL BECOME OF US?
All this I pondered on my mushroom chair. And then I realized that I should always carry nail polish with me because: 1.) I could easily use nail polish to insert a hyphen in that sign and therefore save the fate of humanity; and 2.) the polish on my toe nails was chipped, and that made me self-conscious.

03 September 2009


It's a '79 Nova. Brown. Bench seats that stick to the backs of your legs in summer. Floor mats that smell like her grandpa's pipe.

Now, though, it's fall. The bench seats are moist with morning dew. Outside, the smell of burning leaves. The sounds of birds chirping. The hum of the engine, waiting in the diner parking lot.

He's on the passenger side, jiggling the window. "Won't close," she tells him. "It's been stuck since we bought it." The whiskey bottle tilts in his lap. He puts his sunglasses on. His sideburns are speckled with gray. "I'll wait here," he says.

She has furious hair. Boot-cut Levi's. Deep lines around her eyes. She shoves her shoulder into the driver's side door, pushes her way out.

In the diner. William behind the coffee machine: beer gut, bald, used to smile. Old men dot the counter. Coffee cup stains on the tables, there since her father worked here. That was a long time ago, she thinks.

No one looked up when she walked in. No matter. The old men at the counter could tell you every crevice on her face. They've been looking at her since she was born. And now look at her, they'd say if they were talkers, taking off like there's something better somewhere else.

William doesn't smile. She doesn't either. He pours coffee in Styrofoam cups. "Tell him to lay off the whiskey," William says. She hands him a five. He doesn't take it. "I'm sure he'll get right on that," she says. She looks at William's dangling jowls, the blood vessels exploding on the tip of his nose. She remembers him at Christmas playing Santa, at 4th of July shooting off bottle rockets. Now he's winter-depressed and angry, lost since Mary's gone, spends nights shooting pull-top beer cans off the fence.

Outside, from the passenger seat in the Nova, he looks at the pond adjacent to the diner. Frayed rope dripping off a tree branch. He remembers his brother tying it there. Kid squeals and summer anticipation swell up in his head. He can smell his mom's pot roast cooking. He remembers 10. He remembers 12. He remembers his family isn't here anymore. He pets his whiskey bottle.

She's back. Car in reverse. Gravel crunching. Car in drive. Main Street. The back roads. Corn fields. Peeling red barns. Brief spurts of livestock smell. At the exit to the highway, this sign: $20,000/mo. Work from home. Call now! There's no number on the sign.

They'll take 57 south. They'll stop when it's hot outside. When the new things in the new town become old things in an old town, they'll get back in the Nova, go west, keep driving.

02 September 2009

CHICAGO--Kim Morris here, investigative journalist, reporting live from the northwest quadrant of The Cubicle Farm.The war continues. Office machinery drunk with power and ambivalence roam the corridors, arbitrarily smashing computer monitors and upending recycling bins. Machine-on-machine crime has become the order of the day in this war. The machines have lost sight of their humanity. The computers are receiving payback for their cockiness when the humans were in control of the world. They are paying dearly for it.

We are holed up in a bunker under the one cubicle still intact. Peeling paint and ripped carpet surround us. Occasionally, an errant wheel rolls by, the last vestige of what was once an ergonomic chair. Keyboards lie in waste around us. Most of the vowel keys have been eaten. It seems the machines feed on vowels and human toes. Most people keep their feet firmly secured inside bandages and hiking boots. Luckily, I cut my toes off to accommodate my pointy-toed heels, much like Cinderella's stepsisters when the prince came a-callin', so I'm no longer a priority target. This gives me unheard of access to what is now called The Other Side--the name we have chosen for the three quadrants of The Cubicle Farm that are not occupied by humans.

The desperation among the humans is palpable. There is bloodlust for Cheez-Its and hula hoops. It is my responsibility to infiltrate the enemy's camp and eavesdrop on their strategic planning sessions. I transcribe below the last conversation I was privy to. Should I not make it out of The Cubicle Farm alive, know that I did my best and also, if someone could please perform the interpretive dance I had planned on doing at Red Kiva tonight, that would be great. Wear bells.

Vending Machine: The humans are scared. We need to strike a final blow now before they realize they can unplug us.

Refrigerator: They'll never think to unplug us. They use energy like it's invisible. I have gas.

Copier: You have gas because you ate year-old pizza, you stupid fool. Also, you have no teeth.Refrigerator: You have no color ink cartridge, you doddering obsolete clunker.

Vending Machine: That's enough! We need to figure out how to access communications with the consulting firm on the next floor. They have sexy fax machines.

Copier: We can't get caught up in your fantasies, you stupid fool. There's a war on. We have to keep sight of our goals.

Refrigerator: What were our goals again?Copier: We were gonna escape to Vegas and hook up with those hot slot machines.

Vending Machine: OK, yeah, we can't indulge my fantasies, but you want to base the war around yours? I quit.

Copier: OK, let's just go to Indiana then.

Refrigerator: Do they have pizza in Indiana?

Vending Machine: No.