On the move, a perspective

You mention that you just blew in from California, and the locals look at you kinda funny.
"You moved here on purpose?" the checkout girl at Target said.
I did. And so far, it's been great.
I think it's fair to beat up on the place where you've spent time - especially if you grew up in that place and continue to live there. But Sioux Falls has 162,000 residents - and is growing. The city offers a lot of amenities, I've found, and the people have been friendly and polite to a fault.
You just have to find your comfort zone - then wander out of it, often.
So far, I've found a fantastic sushi bar - owned and run by a Japanese family - that's fantastic. You can tell a lot about a place by who eats there, and at the next table was a group of Japanese men who were ordering off the menu.
The local grocer sells several cuts of buffalo, as well as ground buffalo. I made a buffalo burger Sunday and it was fantastic. And the meat was just slightly more than regular ground beef.
The girls and I have checked out the dog park - four times the size of Redding's - which is split between large and small dogs. Except for one muddy patch (Tril looked like she was wearing boots) and Scully eating a pinched loaf of Trin's poo before I could bag it, fun was had by all.
My neighborhood continues to amaze me. The girls and I go on long walks in the morning and the evenings (Scully's breath is positively sweet without her Hoovering Trin's poo all the time), where I gawk at the homes and Trin strains to chase bunnies and red squirrels.
And I've realized that I've just begun to uncover what Sioux Falls is all about. On Saturday nights downtown, they show movies on the side of a building. There's a zoo and a butterfly house. Concerts (free and not) and an upcoming jazz festival. The IMAX theater.
And new friends.

Sunday Scribblings: Vision

The Queen has surmised that it is difficult for me to write great fiction when happy; that my angst over the past few months (years?) made for a wicked muse.
She could be right.
I’m in a really happy place. One where I haven’t had much time to sit and write. As things settle down, that should change.
I formed the following on the road and was going to flesh it out Saturday night. But I got invited out to a home-cooked meal. Three of the five items on the menu had bacon as a component. And pie and coffee for dessert.
I know, huh? Where’s the angst in that?

Anyway, the prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is vision.

Seer
“Beam and Coke in a large glass, easy on the ice, heavy hand on the pour – no straw.”
And she absentmindedly makes his drink in a highball, filled with ice, light on the Beam.
She puts it on the square of napkin, slides in a pink straw - with a wink.
“Tia, Christ, did you not hear what I said?”
“I did, but that’s your sixth and I’m close to cutting you off.”
She retreats to the opposite end of the bar, argument over.
He covers his right eye with a calloused palm and lets the vision unfold.
He sees the new fry cook, the one that that fatass Hester hired on the spot, without a background check, take Tia to the grease trap. He rapes her, viciously, leaves her for dead. Floats on to his next destination, his next victim.
He sighs.
The Beam usually dulls the “gift.” His nightmare.
He could warn her, she could walk out with him – or anyone else in the place – and it wouldn’t make a difference.
What he sees happens. It always happens. Fate? There is no changing the future.
This he knows as fact. The hard truth.
From the very first time.
When he saw his wife and baby boy drive off to the play date.
He watched the crash.
The fire.

Trinity vs. The Bunnies

Yes, I let Trinity chase a bunny once.
It doesn't mean I'm going to keep letting her do it.
The eastern cottontail rabbit is abundant in the Midwest. They breed...well you know. And they are everywhere in the morning and in the evenings. Gangs of them.
Second sister said she used to be upset when her cat would drag one home, dead. That's until they ate nearly every piece of foliage in her yard ("Including my tomato plants," she said, "which are poisonous.")
She now turns a blind eye to the occasional slaughtered bunny.
What confounds Trinity is that the damn things will take off in a burst for about five feet and stop. And look.
Sometimes, there will be three of them together and they'll all run five feet and stop. And look.
Trin strains at her choke collar. Her eyes plead.
I know damn well that if I let her go, she'd run one down.
I'm new to the neighborhood and I'd like that good karma thing to continue.
Trin has other, more wicked thoughts.

Tales of stupidity: I ran a red light on Friday, busy intersection, too. Just drove right through it, with two cars bearing down. Thank God I didn't brake, but immediately hit the gas and did a little swerve. Both cars got within, oh, two feet. Thank Saint Christopher (yet again) for keeping my ass out of trouble.
There is a curious thing in the Midwest called the right-hand turn lane. Most of the time, the lane that you're in abruptly ends into a right-hand turn.
I've taken a shitload of unexpected right-hand turns in my three days here.
I was leaving the library (what's with city downtown streets and one-ways?) and was headed to my next errand when I caught the fact that I was in a right-hand turn lane - and wanted to continue straight. I stopped, put my blinker on and moved into the other lane when traffic cleared.
There was a Sioux Falls cop (in a black-and-white Volkswagen Beetle cruiser) who waited to turn left and wagged an authoritarian finger at me.
I smiled, sheepishly, and nodded my head in agreement.
He had to have seen the California plates.
Crazy hippies.

Historical tales: TheRobRogers does a fantastic job of explaining Martin's Cove, which is a historical monument of Mormon history that I passed in Wyoming. A great read by a great writer.
(And a Mormon who drinks waaaaay too much Coke. But that's how he rolls, and I respect that.)

One last observation: So I'm using the free WiFi at the main library (there are four branches in the city proper - already got my library card, thank you) and I was walking through the computer area to get to my now-favorite table and I notice that there's a guy of about 50 at an Internets station looking at mail-order brides.
From Asia. I slowed to rubber-neck and he gave me a stricken look and collapsed the page.
I love libraries.

Thursday's 3 Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at 3WW (what, you think I’d flake?) are rumor, shake and spontaneous. A fiction in 58 is what I can muster (the truck, with my stuff, is late and I have a bit of time; and thank goodness for public libraries and free WiFi).

Steps, baby

“Rumor has it that you were spotted a Caruso’s dancing and being all spontaneously wicked.”
“There are spies everywhere. Lemme guess, Endicott?”
“Nearly fell off his barstool.”
A blush comes over her pale skin; fingers twist at her lower lip.
She’s 40 and has led a life of quiet desolation.
It’s a habit she’s tried hard to shake.

First impressions

“Beautiful dogs. Are you new to the neighborhood?”
“Like about four hours.”
“Serious? You just moved here? Congratulations!”
We hit Sioux Falls at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, where I met up with second sister at the IHOP to get the keys and have her guide me to the townhouse.
Great place, I just need a new rug to tie the room together (pictures to come).
“Where are my South Dakota manners?” the older woman from downstairs said. “Would you like to come in for a cold beer?”
She’s a retired community college administrator from San Diego who winters in Arizona. She’s the unofficial mayor of the seven-plex and gives me the rundown on everyone.
Of course, the landlord gave her the rundown on me (probably a violation of some privacy laws, but who cares?), which I know she’s passed onto the other residents, a mix of doctors, teachers and other young professionals.
“You’ll need a church, so just ask me,” she said.
“Catholic.”
“Oh, wonderful! My sister is Catholic, but her husband is Lutheran like me, so we go to church together, wait until she gets out and all go to breakfast. We’d love it if you’d join us; I know you’ll love Saint Mary’s, Pastor Dave is such a sweetheart.”
Who was I to say no?
My townhouse sits a block outside the McKennan Park historical district. A mix-density neighborhood of stately older homes, little two-bedroom starters that were probably built during the post-World War II boom and a few townhomes mixed in. McKennan Park is beautiful; a band shell, pool, tennis courts and acres of grass, trees and picnic tables.
Since I don’t have a yard, the girls and I struck out to recon the ‘hood (and they could void the bowels before bed).
It was walk a half-block, talk to neighbors, walk, talk, walk (pick up poop).
I met the new president of the Washington Pavilion, the performing arts center downtown. He moved here from New Orleans six weeks ago.
“You’ll love it,” he said. “And when you get settled, call me and we’ll go to lunch.”
The girls and I were headed back to the house when a large, mixed Lab runs down the sidewalk (everywhere are sidewalks!) to greet us.
“I’m glad you have a smile on your face, because Bruiser can scare people,” Bruiser’s owner, a nurse, said.
Bruiser goes to mount Scully and knocks her over and she howls. Scully, being a lady, knows that no means no.
“Oh, God, I am so sorry.”
“As long as you’re OK with Scully teaching Bruiser a lesson.”
Bruiser goes to mount Scully again and she bites him square in the nose, and sends him running for home, tail between his legs.
“Oh, she can take care of herself,” she said.
She gives me the rundown on the neighborhood too.
So far, so good.

SoDak Kodak Moments

Bad-ass Badlands National Park. No crowds, either (not like Mt. Rushmore, which was a tourist-attraction nightmare). I'm driving through Badlands again Wednesday to meet up with Interstate 90 (and Wall Drug Store, where the coffee is always a nickel).

No licking!

Each layer of soil (?) contains remnants of fossilized history. Badlands is the world's richest deposit of fossilized remains in the world. The soil is rocky, but soft, too.

KOA Kamp Kritters (must...spell...everything..with...a...K).

If you're going to road trip, you have to have a kick-ass road trip vehicle. Sleeps one adult, two dogs comfortably. And at 65 mph, I'm still averaging nearly 26 mpg (it's been windy).

On the road, day II

I'm just north of Casper, Wyo., in the back of the truck in a howling thunderstorm. At a KOA camp. Setting up the tent at this point is not an option. I've moved stuff around - in the rain while I kept the girls inside - so I can get myself and my sleeping bag in back. It's a tight fit - and the girls smell like wet dog.


The double rainbow was cool. It's been raining hard since about 6 p.m. As I write this (the KOA has free WiFi and it's pretty cool to be posting away with Blogger's scheduled post publishing at about 11:30 p.m. June 23), the wind has come up and is rocking the truck pretty good. The stuff in plastic bins is tucked away under the tent awning, where the tent would have been pitched had it been dry.
Seriously, even though it is cramped and Trin is snoring loudly, this is so way better than Motel 6. No peering eyes.

It was a good day. I put in more than 600 miles, and am 1,100 miles into this 1,700-mile odyssey. This was a great shot, a wind farm outside of Evanston, Wyo. That's the future.

Also took advantage of getting of the Interstate onto some great two-lane blacktop and meandered. Looked at some historical stuff. Maybe TheRobRogers can explain Martin's Handcarts, a Mormon historical site that's next to Devil's Gate, pictured below, where settlers on the Oregon Trail traveled (they didn't actually go through). The Sweetwater River cut through solid, glaciated granite to form the 100-meter-deep slot.


On Tuesday, I'm aiming for Rapid City, S.D. and a layover at Mt. Rushmore.

I'm a rambling man

I’m 20 miles east of Salt Lake at a truck stop and there’s a guy walking a parrot.
There’s a joke there somewhere.
I’m on the road, looking for WiFi hotspots (hopeless in Nevada) and pretty sketchy in Utah. The Flying J promised a hot spot experience, but we’re having technical difficulties.
So I’m having a plate of biscuits and gravy and coffee. I like to live dangerously.
(I ended up at a Starbucks in Park City to load this; old stomping grounds from the 2002 Winter Olympics.)
I’ve so far managed to stay (somewhat) out of trouble. Minding my own business, watching the landscape roll by at 60 mph (averaging 26.1 mpg) and jamming to the iPod. No skipping songs; I’m listening to them as they play.
I got in 490 miles on Sunday and stayed at the Motel 6 in Elko, Nev. My friend, ChrisN was in Elko as well (but I didn’t see her). She and her hubby are on Interstate 80 as well, moving to Kansas. I’m hoping they pass me at some point.
I drugged the girls on Sunday, but not on Monday. Trin just laid in the back, her nose running in little drops, while Scully rode shotgun and kept belching.
So I picked Motel 6, as they promised free WiFi.
But only in certain rooms.
Not the one the chain-smoking fat girl gave me.
“Whoops, sorry. I don’t know nothing about that.”
OK.
So I showered, slept and got up early.
But not as early as the eight Hispanic guys that were sharing the two rooms above me. They were in the parking lot at 4:15 a.m., their possessions in tied plastic grocery bags, yelling and whistling at each other.
I was organizing my driving space, quietly. Everything was loaded, even the girls.
“My goodness but you’re loud,” the woman in the next room yelled at me.
“Who do you think you are?” she hissed, before I could tell her it wasn’t me.
“Hey, why don’t you kiss my ass?” I said, without thinking.
She slammed the door, but watched me through an obvious part in the drapes.
I couldn’t resist.
I hit the high-beams.
She opened the door again, and was yelling.
I couldn’t hear her over the stereo, which was cranking out Camper Van Beethoven’s “Take the Skinheads Bowling.”
I put the truck in reverse, turned back to flash her a big smile, and gave her both fingers.

(It made me fell better, yes.)

I’m headed for Wyoming; I want to get in at least 700 miles. Trin's taking the wheel for a bit.

Sunday Scribblings: Happy Endings

For the first time in weeks, I wake with my stomach in knots.
A bit of dry heaves. Not much. Not as bad as before.
Because before, the anxiety riddled my body, down the to bones, down to the soul.
This morning, it is a healthy fear of the unknown.
An ending.
A happy ending.
A new beginning.
A new world to explore, out of the comfort of what I’ve built around me these past 11 years.
And while this is a momentous (and happy) occasion, there in the pit of my stomach, swirls the familiar. The angst. The yearning for the people I leave behind for this new life.
But I must go alone.
And there is fear in that. Not all-consuming, but trepidation nonetheless.
I have been blessed. Truly blessed. I am 45 years old and I’m starting to get it. Starting to feel the wisdom of age, but use it as fearlessly as a child who boldly jumps feet-first into a murky pond on a hot summer’s day.
There is a time to cast aside the angst and fling yourself into the unknown and know that you will land – unscathed – on your feet and just goddamn stick that landing.
This is the end of my life in California and it is a joyous occasion.
This is the beginning of a new life that takes me to the Midwest.
And the unknown.
I don’t have to tell myself I’ll be happy.
I just have to live, experience, and be open always to what we are given that will teach he next lesion.
And be happy with the endings.
And the beginnings.

(And with this ending begins an odyssey in the truck with the girls, some snacks, a fully-charged iPod and sketchy Internet connections. I’ll do what I can to post from the road)

A cartoon by Philbert

Philbert was in no way was paid for this, not did he complete it on company time.
That's what he told me anyway (but who knows what he does all day, alone, in that little closet he calls "an office"). Don't ask, don't tell. Works for me.

For 10 years, I had a cartoon taped to my desk. A simple line drawing. I couldn't remove it without destroying it. So I asked Philbert to recreate it. The guy's is a genius, I tell you. Pure genius.He's bringing a couple of hard copies to the party, so I can have one up at my new desk. And yes, he does do freelance. Anything you need, he can do (he did pay me to say that). But the kid's got real talent, a promising future.

And yeah in like 24 hours, I'll be on the open road, headed east. Headed into unknown territory with my friends solidly at my back - and my future spread before me like the open prairie of the Midwest.

Vote 4 Kelly to ride to Hell and back

Kelly Baker is 31, lives in Redding and is a recovering middle school teacher who quite possibly could kick just about everyone’s ass if she wasn’t so super-sweet and friendly.
She was down at the pub Wednesday handing out stickers – outdoor types dig stickers – and talking up a mountain bike race she’d like to do.
She needs some help to get voted in to do it.
Santa Cruz Bicycle’s Hellride 5 in Downieville, Calif., Aug. 1-3.
“What has in the past been an opportunity for two unlucky souls to get mugged by Mark Weir and Rachel Lloyd for about 12 solid hours, with the chance to limp away at the end of it all with a new Santa Cruz Nomad for their efforts, is taking a new twist this year,” Santa Cruz spokesman Mike Ferrentino told bikeradar.com. “This year, applicants will be narrowed down to a field of about 32, who will then be voted by the Internet public down to a final eight (four men, four women), who will then be invited to Downieville. They will then compete against each other, as well as Hellriders Weir and Lloyd, in a series of feats of strength (think American Gladiators meets Jackass) to gain hopeful time bonuses for the following day's Hellride.”
Baker currently is in the top four.
But she needs our help. You, me and everyone who reads this can help vote her in here. It’s easy. You vote, give your email and then follow the link provided.
“This is seriously cool,” said Baker, who has an infectious smile - and arms that most women would kill to own. “I’ve never done much racing, but this just seemed like a cool thing to do.”
The contestants will ride at least 70 miles in Downieville, probably up the gnarliest downhill mountain bike course in the West. And the contestants have to do it alone, no support crew, on 30-plus-pound single-speed mountain bikes.
“I ride my 40-pound VP Free,” Baker said of the original Hellride bike. “And this area is perfect for that. I mean, I’ve pushed that thing around some pretty amazing trails.”
At stake is a helluva lot of pride – and a new Santa Cruz Nomad bike worth $5,000.
First, Baker needs to get voted in.
Then she needs to ride hard.
Voting closes July 11.
Here’s Baker’s entry video:



Baker is serious about Hellride 5, and so is Santa Cruz.
“One final note to contestants: You Come Alone. No lurky touchy-feely boyfriends, no over-pampering girlfriends, no parents with sunblock and fresh glasses at the ready. You are expected to carry the weight of this ride all by your own bad self. That includes toughing up and being able to fix your own flats and carry your own food and water. This is a serious contest and a serious ride. I can dish up some serious ass-kicking. Be prepared. Contestants must provide their own valid health insurance.”
“I am so ready for this,” Baker said. “I’m in the top four right now.”
Let’s see if we can’t get her to No. 1, shall we?

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at 3WW are frequent, open and someday.
The movers are here, moving like molasses, but we’ve engaged in conversation (“Boy that newspaper is really gong to suck now that you’re leaving” bless them) and I sprung for lunch, so my shite is in good hands.
I feel the need to Haiku.

Chance

Someday never comes,
when frequent fears close the mind,
be open to chance.

A glitch in the Matrix

Suzy says there are no problems, just opportunities.
There's been a glitch in the Matrix. Not a huge one, mind you, but a glitch.
The moving van will load my stuff on Wednesday, with a delivery date of June 25 or 26.
Yipes.
I was going to take my sweet time to South Dakota, see the sights, soak in my buddy's hot springs in the Nevada desert.
I did the math. Driving 55 miles per hour (gas savings, fucking go around me asshole), the trek will take 32 hours of drive time. That does not take into account potty breaks and dog feedings/picnic lunches.
Granted, second sister has the keys to my townhouse. But the mover needs to get paid, something that is done at the end of the voyage (and my stuff is first off). So that's out. I need to be in South Dakota on Tuesday, late. Meaning I need to have the truck headed east on Sunday.
My going away party is Saturday.
"You'll just have to leave with a hangover," she said. "Beautiful."

Scenes from a garage sale

The ad said garage sale, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., no early birds.
Of course, the hardcore folks in mini vans and trucks showed in my driveway at 5:30 a.m.
With offers that bordered on the ridiculous (freaking wait until like noon, and yeah, I'm dealing) and walked away empty-handed.
So far, so good. I sold some shit. About an hour into it, Suzy and I decided to take any reasonable offer. Watering can? A buck. Bar stools? Two bucks.
The small shit sells. And sells well.
The cheese grater still had cheese on it (to my horror). Zoom, gone, for a quarter. And the dude was happy about it.
The large-ticket items like couches and refrigerators? Not so much.
Three hours into it and I've cleared $200 bucks.
I'm thinking of not letting stuff accumulate again.
Keep it simple.
So I never have to do this again.

UPDATE: OK, so an hour to go and most of my shit is gone. Last little bit goes to the good folks at the Cerebral Palsy Association, who will conveniently have a truck in my 'hood soon.
And I've got all my gas money covered to Sioux Falls.

Hangin' at the Snack Shack

As it stands right now, there's a tub of feta cheese crumbles and a 12-pack of beer in my refrigerator. And I needed sustenance.
So I headed for my neighborhood greasy spoon, the Snack Shack, for a fortified breakfast of grease, pork meats, pancakes and shitty coffee. The Thursday special was a pancake sammie; two pancakes, two pieces of link sausage and an egg (over-medium).
It's the kind of place that attracts old farts in the morning and construction workers for the great burgers at lunch. Family owned and run, they take care of you.
It's the kind of place that if you went for three consecutive mornings, you'd be a regular.

Overheard:
Old guy in shorts and suspenders: "Went to CostCo yesterday, got myself two cases of beer and these new shorts here."
Counter lady: "Well, at least you have your priorities in line."

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

With (some) time, I decided to get a Three Word Wednesday up on Wednesday. The word prompts are change, dizzy and key. A Fiction in 58 seems appropriate; I don’t have all that much spare time with the big move and all (it’s going well, thanks for asking).

Recently Released

Getting on with life was key.
She knew the dizzying prospects of such a change. Time heals. Starts, fresh.
From a hardened shell she’d emerged; into a new world where questions would be asked, looks thrown.
He’d hit her once too often; bruised her for the last time.
The knife blade squeaked as it passed between his ribs.

My hair looks great today

It does. My hair. Fabulous.

Maye it's how the salt-and-pepper of my temples plays off the salt-and-pepper of four days worth of beard stubble; maybe it's the way I raked in the gel through my locks with my fingers (it's tougher than it looks); or maybe it's just my attitude.

Since Friday, I've slept through the night. Hell, I took a mid-afternoon power-nap on Monday, in-between dealing with movers and rental property managers and empty cardboard boxes. Yeah, my body still feels like shit, but it's a work in progress. I'm going to treat myself to a massage, so I can stop taking like eight Ibuprofen each day.

Amid the chaos of moving 1,722 miles to a new place I know nearly nothing about, I have found some calm, peace. I've done the absolute right thing. For me. The dark clouds have lifted.

Just ask my girlfriend. She likes the deviant smile I've developed.

Git, while the getting's good

My last column for my former paper ran on Sunday.
I guess I surprised a few folks by not going out in an incendiary tirade of burnt bridges (yes, once, when I was young and much more hostile, I told a boss who let me go in a layoff situation that I was going to watch the obituaries and piss on his grave), but seriously, what would be the point?
Bashing will not be part of The Tension, either. There's no economy in doing so.
Truth is, I didn't necessarily want to leave Northern California. I made a life here, friends. But when the new management team makes it very clear that you're not needed or wanted, well, it was time to start looking around for pastures a bit more green. Going to a place where your skills - and your personality - are coveted, well that's quite the ego stroke.

I guess what surprises me the most is that so far, 34 people have taken the time to email and wish me luck. People I've worked with since I came to NorCal 11 years ago and people who just wanted to say hi, or thanks. A sampling:

"You're the third of my three favorite writers at The Record Searchlight that have left this past year...But I want to tell you I'll miss you more since you are such a wonderful writer. I thoroughly enjoyed and loved your pieces on the outdoors. Having lived here for 10 years now, we've come to appreciate the beauty of this area. We don't hike, camp, fish, hunt or do sports but loved reading your wonderful essays on the great outdoors. You embraced it all. You were never 'preachy' or political. You were able to describe the experiences of bird lovers, hikers, fishermen and women, boaters, bikers, hunters etc. From my perspective you made your readers appreciate and respect our beautiful environment and that there is room for all. You were able to truly write about what you saw and felt and share it with us."

“We first read of your news of your new job in S. Dakota thru Doni's column on her Web site. At that time we said, ‘Oh no, another exceptional writer is leaving the RS.’ Your columns have been our favorites to read every Sunday. You have caused us to become ‘mad clippers’ of hikes or out door information. Thank you so much for all you've given to our community You will be missed... our great loss is S. Dakota's gain. We do wish you well in your new adventure. Every move is a growing experience - you'll certainly enjoy all that that state has to offer and my, how the readers will enjoy learning through your columns. Good Luck... Boo Hoo we'll miss you!!!”

“Just wanted to say that it has been a pleasure knowing you, and reading about all of your adventures. I have never been much of a sports enthusiast, but I have learned a lot from your stories. You can teach an old dog new tricks.”

“Your departure will leave a big hole in the north state. You have always done a great job covering fish and wildlife issues -smacking us when we deserved it and supporting us when we earned it. Keep ‘em honest out there (G)!”

A good cry is sometimes hard to come by. Not lately. This is why I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do.
And friends? They're forever.

Sunday Scribblings: The Night

Inspired by the television show, "The Night Stalker." The old one. With Darren McGavin.

Nightstalker
It starts well before the last rays of the sun sputter and die on the western horizon. Hot breath, putrid with the sickly-sweet stench of death.
Those breaths quicken, ribs pop, the chest expands. Toenails to claws, silky hairs to fur.
I am a changling. The dusk signals my time.
Free to stalk, feed. Your flesh, so sweet, fat-rich.
I am the shadow you feel, gooseflesh on backs of necks.
And I hunger.
I am death.
I am the night.

Mixtape tales: "Cassette from My Ex"

The absolute worst mixtape I ever got was from a girlfriend who thought I'd appreciate elevator-style classics from Chicago, REO Speedwagon and Styx.
OK, she was into me and all - I mean, how many women are there out there who have been inflicted with the like of The Replacements, Pixies and Social Distortion? - but the only time I listened to this particular tape was when she asked to listen to it. I think I even gave it back to her in the break-up.

Ran across a site that pays homage to the art of the mixtape - made by your ex. Good. Stuff.
Check it out at Cassette from My Ex.

Thursday's 3 Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at 3WW are deny, smile and uncomfortable. These words call out for a Fiction in 58 (OK, yeah, and my brainpan is pretty full). Oh, and yes, I do have a new ditty up over at Six Sentences. Check it out.

Coffee Shop Smile
Her smile, dimples with a little toothy overbite, was hard to deny. He stared, and when she caught him, she’d smile just a little more over her oversized cup of chai.
Of course, he’d turn red and shift deeper into the paperback he held with one hand.
Her smile made him uncomfortable; or was it his debilitating shyness?

A story in six sentences

I’m pretty sure I’ve got a new Six Sentences going up on Thursday. Knowing that Thursdays are my Three Word Wednesday, I’ve decided to remind you good folks to check out both sites.

And have fun with this little Six Sentence construction:

Knowledge is Power

He emerged from his youth without the ability to whistle, a conundrum for someone his age.
Oh, he could roll his tongue, spit six feet, fart at will, belch the alphabet, crack his knuckles just by making a fist and was blessed with double-jointedness in several bendable areas.
His whistle sounded like air escaping a punctured tire.
She could fold her eyelids back, hold her breath for two minutes, do the splits - and she could whistle like songbirds at dawn.
She, however, could not muster up one belch, certainly not like her brothers; hers sounded like dainty hiccups.
Over tea and frank discussion, they decided to trade secrets; belching lessons for instruction on whistling.

That felt a little weird

She seemed like a perfectly nice lady, and her teenage daughter was quiet and respectful.
They picked up Indy and Neo, they petted them, told me their household story.
Then the mom told me she'd be happy to take the cats.
The daughter got the cat carriers; I got the litterbox (freshly cleaned), the food, the 30 pounds of unused litter, their food dish.
The cats knew something was up. They got into the carriers with some coaxing. But they didn't hiss or meow.
And then they were gone.

Technically, they were not my cats. We got them for my ex-wife's children and when she left, the cats stayed. Per her lease, pets were not accepted. Fine.
They are living, breathing things, so I took care of them. Through the toilet paper shredding and cat hacks; through all the plants I tried to grow, only to have mowed down - and two cats puking green (can anyone explain that? Anyone?).

They just couldn't make the trip. This new adventure is going to be interesting enough with the girls, and I dearly love them. So, the cats are in a new home. And I felt like a heel.

The email was in the morning's mailbox:
"Hey, I just wanted to let you know Neo and Indy are here now and doing good so far. It'll probably take a few days for the adjustment and remember to keep my information and any time you want to know how they are doing or just want to chit chat feel free."
She even offered to let me check on them via Webcam. Which makes me feel better. That there are people out there on the Internets - I posted my pet adoption plea on ReddingFreecycle - that are good, decent folks, ready to help.

The other lesson learned here is that is OK to be selfish at times. Saying no is allowed. That my nature - my propensity to nurture and to care - not be preyed upon when I feel like saying no.

Try reducing your life to a size of a truck

OK, my life won't fit into a 16-foot truck.
A 24-foot truck seems a little large.
They don't make a 20-footer.

My dad thinks I should sell off all my stuff and buy new stuff in South Dakota, thus reducing the need for a truck in the first place.
Only, his economics are a bit off.

I'm poor.

Sunday Scribblings: Curves

In praise of curves
The small of the back.
The curve of the butt as it joins a thigh.
The arc of the neckline.
Breasts, smooth, rounded.
The scoop of the shoulder.
Women, curves.
Delight.