Soup, rice, chicken dumplings.
Sexual innuendo, small talk.
Who’s got the better gadgets–
Batman or James Bond?

Fortune cookies–
In bed. At the end
of the meal
he whips out

his Kohl’s coupon when I tell him
I got mine too, so that intercourse
leads us to delicious Godiva milk
chocolate that doesn’t cost us anything,

just a splendid hour
of flirting with each other
until we have room
for dessert.


Pep Talk

(For my daughter who starts fifth grade tomorrow)

Listen, kiddo –
If that mean kid
who picked on you last year
starts hating on you again,
I want you to look her in the face
and call her a bitch.
Really.You have my permission
to use strong words
to defend yourself.
I’ll have your back.
Stare her down,
say it loud and firm.
You are such a bitch.
Then you will get called
to the principal’s office
and I will get a call from him.
I will go in and let them know
if somebody’s teasing you,
then you will stand up for yourself
and I would expect no less.
And that I told you to use bad words
so it would be called to their attention
that someone is pestering you that much.
I’ll suggest that he also call
whoever was teasing you and her mom
in for a discussion about whatever
it was that got you swearing
in the first place. She smiled,
then paused questioningly.
What if it’s a boy? she asked me.
Then he is an asshole.
Oh! Of course, she realized.
Atta girl. Go get ’em, Tiger.
You’re a good kid
and as you know, not everyone is
as cool as you and me.
I want you to do what’s right.
Don’t let anybody beat you down,
you don’t have to take it.
Be you’re sweet self
and remember that
when someone’s mean to you,
you’re not being a bitch
(or an asshole)
to stand up for yourself,
get in their face,
and tell them so.

The Hack

Hello, Doctor?

My lungs are fucked up.

Last night I coughed hard for an hour and a half after my allergies were triggered by the incense aisle at a porn store.

The past few days before that, I’d been hacking a lot anyways after I’d been exposed to clay dust clouds while cleaning out cages at a no-kill cat shelter.

So I’m wondering if you could squeeze me in because my dad just died of COPD-related respiratory failure so I thought I should get checked out.

I usually have a lot of sinus issues but that’s it. Even when I get the flu, it hits me from the neck up, my lungs used to stay nice and clear. I never had a worry about those, before.

I’m not sure what this is, but I think it might be allergy-related asthma.

Or maybe mesothelioma.

Also, my mom scrubbed the bathroom floors with Pine Sol and it made me feel faint, then afterwards, like with the kitty litter I inhaled, my lungs feel tight for a couple days after.

And there’s a metallic taste associated with the cough. Like there’s a little bit of blood in with it somewhere.

Once I coughed up something and decided to spit it out and it had a faint pink tinge, but that only happened once, so I decided against the Emergency Room.

I’m free between 9 and 2 tomorrow. The only other thing I have to do is pick up my prescription for lidocaine. The lady at the laser center where I’m having my tattoo burned off told me they’d call it in.

I’ll wait until after I see you to get it, in case you prescribe anything for my lung condition too.

A Note From Future Me

FutureMe.org mailer@futureme.org via email-bounces.amazonses.com to
show details 9:11 AM (1 hour ago)

The following is an e-mail from the past, sent through FutureMe.org
It was composed on Saturday, August 28, 2010, to be sent on Sunday, August 28, 2011:
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Dear FutureMe,
I wonder what’s going to change over the next year. Am I still with Garrett? Are both of my parents still alive? Where will I be working? How much will I weigh? I’m writing this the Sat. before school starts. Garrett is is Maryland getting his car fixed. He might meet Kenny’s girlfriend Ginger for the first time. He’s missing me a lot. I have a fever. I moved my bed yesterday…set up Bed Central but I don’t have enough cleared out to put my dresser somewhere besides next to my bed. I had a cheese omelet for breakfast that broke apart and became just scrambled eggs. I weigh *** pounds. Sedra just got her first period. I finished reading The Mermaid Chair.

Including, but not limited to . . .

Oh, Robert Reed, dear Robert Reed! Blue Eyes, I flew straight here from the future to tell you to use condoms. It will save your life, Robert Reed!

(We are in love.)

Craig Spakowitz joined a cult: Part Religious Science, part steampunk. So did Cheryl. She dipped into the kids’ college fund to go to the national convention in San Diego wearing gears for a monocle and the tin man’s hands. No one would say it was her, just left me guessing, but I knew. She even died her blonde hair aluminum for the event. Afterwards, she came back wearing a pumpkin orange t-shirt to volunteer at the opening prayer ceremony for Pagans at State Fair Park. I was supposed to be a part of it but I didn’t want to. Everybody was trying to get me to go. Try it, you’ll like it!

I looked around me in panic. They weren’t Pagans. They were Pagan imposters.

Thankfully there was some confusion and the security officer wouldn’t let me through, so I made a break for it, walking purposefully around the perimeter so I’d look like I was doing something official (I, too, was wearing the orange shirt). Then I casually crossed the street and took the next bus to anywhere.

Grandpa’s Diamond

It was my birthday
and Mom invited all the kids from school –
not knowing who my friends were.
What were we doing here
in her bedroom? Girls
in pressed dresses and cable tights
with blonde ponytails tied up
in ribbons, rolling
their light eyes and flashing me
disapproving sideways snarls
at the condition of the carpet
and Mom’s treasured Japanese
souvenirs on the nightstand.
Why had she invited these girls?
Oh my god,
she invited
the “special” girl too.
I spent the afternoon keeping her
from eating thing from inside
my mom’s jewelry box, but when her mother
picked her up I realized she’d swallowed
my Grandpa’s wedding ring,
a large onyx slab
with a tiny white diamond
in the center of it.
Nobody seemed to care
that she’d done something so wrong.
Because she was helpless, it was
forgivable. But they blamed me
for not keeping close enough watch
over the girl and over our valuables.
I got scolded for this, even though
it wasn’t my fault, even though
it was my “special” day. I never wanted
a party in the first place, never would have
invited those girls, particularly not the one
who was so dumb that she was trouble.
Now we’d have to keep her here
for hours, maybe days
feeding her juice and cake
waiting to sift through her stupid shit
to try to find Grandpa’s Diamond.

Dirty Girl

Slapped my dripping wet ass down on a public pool chair.
Later I turned around to lie on my stomach reading
with my face where other people’s feet were.
I’d spit out my share of water after doing
cannonballs, somersaults, and handstands,
holding my nose to keep the water out
because I hate that feeling,
but not even caring if anybody
had peed in the pool. Then I
dried off quick and put my
clothes back on over
tan skin, unwashed
and chlorine tight.
Grabbed my shit
and left for


Dear Freeway Under Construction,

Your new traffic patterns are all messed up. Driving on you is like a being trapped in a shopping mall in a nightmare where all the stores look familiar but they’re not where you’d expect them to be, and you don’t know where any of the exits are. You almost made me shit my pants. I fucking hate you.

– M

Oh, The Trouble

Three servings of my favorite
coleslaw with sesame oil
and raisins. It looks like shit
but tastes amazing! Also
two heaping plates of spinach salad
with huge slices of clean, raw
mushrooms, which I also love,
and even though I don’t ever eat
Canadian bacon, I love pineapple
and found a piece of Hawaiian
pizza with no meat on it,
and it turned out the sauce was BBQ,
yum! And I struck up a conversation
with some people sitting next to me
who were discussing the original
Star Trek TV show but couldn’t
remember The Trouble with Tribbles.
They asked me about my right arm tattoo,
Love in Japanese. It turns out
they’d been to Japan
years ago, got caught
in a different earthquake,
nothing like this year’s.
I told them I was half Japanese
and they asked me if it’s the right half
because that’s the arm with the Kanji.
I never thought of it like that before.
If that half is Japanese, then I guess
that means the other is run-of-the-mill
tribal trashy wall-art American.
Well, you can’t argue with that
logic, can you?

Tally Ho

At the time that I’m writing this, the longest-lived marriage of anyone alive in the world is approaching 83 years. James David and Velma (née Gibson) Hamilton of Illinois. Marshall N. and Winnie (née Macnab) Kuykendalland of New Mexico are about a half year behind them, and Victoria V. (née Puvalowski) Wrubel are one year minus a day behind the Hamilton’s in third.

My mother told me today about a man who shared a hospital room with my father while he was dying. The man was a priest and bragged about being married over 60 years. Mom found out later from one of his visitors that he’d been married 60 years if you count all of his marriages. My mom and dad were married 47 years to each other and the priest was just trying to show them up.

You can’t just tally them all up and brag about being married such a long time, can you? It’s like it didn’t even matter who his wives (multiple) were, or how long he’d been married to each of them individually, just that he was married. I suspect he’s in the habit of offering the stats that way to make himself sound wiser, glossing over the fact that he’d had several failed marriages despite being called to do God’s work.

I’m divorced, but it never occurred to me to start counting how many years I’d been married at the point where I left off. How ridiculous would that be if I followed his logic? When my new spouse and I celebrate our 1st anniversary, it would be my 14th. Our 7th anniversary would be my 20th.

The thought of it makes me wish I’d gotten divorced on an even 5 to make the math easier, and make it a milestone for me and my upgrade to celebrate together despite my having a generous lead. I was married 13 years, which being an unlucky enough number to invite commentary, I usually phrases as being two months shy of 14 years. I could round that up to 15 or down to 10, trim the gristle of the marriage away and make myself seem a little younger.

I’m too honest to really do that, but it’s an interesting thought.