#amwriting

Here are the beginnings of something new for Bitter Enemies. I’m trying to incorporate an experience that initially belonged to Bobby Nickels, but wasn’t ever really something that would have happened to him, I don’t think.

A while ago, in my post about smoking, I wrote, “My step-sister and I would stay up late calling in requests to the radio stations, and listen to our songs, smoking cigarettes in the dark.
I loved that time. I loved laying next to her in bed and watching her face light up in the orange glow of that exotic adult knowledge. She’d tell me about sleeping with boys, and smoking pot–two things that they did in New Jersey, a lot. And I would smoke silently, listening to her loud drags between sentences, watching the faint outline of her black lipstick on the white filter move in and out of her mouth like it was sewing her words into the world.”

This little bit stuck with me. I remember so well the idea of being a kid at the grown-ups table. I still feel like that a lot, actually. Like there is some secret that I’ll never be privy to about how the world works. Anyway, the feeling is a mix of excitement and terror. Sublimity, I suppose. Maybe Charlie can help to tackle the subject.

It’s clearly unedited and unfinished.

Charlie looked up from his Mustang. “C’mon, Chuck, I found something you gotta see.” Charlie looked down at the miniscule motorcar, giving it little kick. “Aww, I don’t wanna. I just got this thing. Let’s play cars!” Charlie kept his eyes focused on the tiny wheels. He would drive a car when he grew up. Maybe a Mustang like this one, but maybe better. Taylor walked up the driveway, brushing through a pile brown leaves in a slow rhythm. He shook his head. “What the hell is that? Your dorkmobile?” Taylor punched Charlie’s shoulder lightly. “Who gives a shit about a tiny baby car? I’ve got something way better.” Charlie looked at Taylor and knew that what he was saying was probably true. Taylor had been responsible for showing Charlie his first nudie magazine. Glossy pages filled with giant tracts of public hair hiding mysterious pleasures. Thanks to Taylor, Charlie once drunk off warm beer, and Taylor didn’t even laugh at him when Charlie threw up on his favorite shirt after smoking his first cigarette. Taylor knew about all the best things. It was like he had a secret special portal to the world of adults, and Charlie was lucky enough to know him. Once in awhile he got to glimpse into that deep well of darkness and sin, which Charlie was sure is what kept his parents up all night, laughing and clinking glasses in poorly lit rooms. Sometimes, they screamed like they were falling – their stomachs resting for hours in their throats. They could summon the drop of a rollercoaster from infinity when they wanted. All they had to do was call upon the mysterious void that made them old and Charlie young – always when children were asleep, or pretending to sleep. Listening despite a gut tickling mix of jealousy and revulsion.

Charlie pushed his car away in disgust, and waved his arm at Taylor in defeat. Always defeated in this situation, he had come to figure that there was no point in fighting the badness, especially since he was pretty good at forgiving himself later for whatever wrong things he had done. Once, he pushed a girl. She had called him a silly faggot and he pushed her from behind so that she fell with her face in the dirt. When she stood up, a tooth was missing. “Fuck her. Her dad is probably a faggot, which is why she’s lashing out at you. She’s probably in love with you, but can’t have you and it pisses her off. She wants to fuck her dad.” Taylor had said. He knew about these things.

The two boys walked through the woods. Taylor focused on the trail they followed, and Charlie idly wandering behind him, stopping to look at the shapes of leaves and keeping an eye out for spider webs. Charlie had seen The Fly several years ago, at an age when he parents thought he was too young to understand, and therefore surely too young to be scared of anything happening on screen. They had been right for the most part. In fact, Charlie had fallen asleep in front of the television, only waking once to see the scientist’s head on that tiny, helpless fly body, screaming for someone to save him, with no one noticing. It felt so real to Charlie, and that night he dreamt of being eaten alive, his guts sucked out of him by a giant spider with the spinning head of Mrs. Lewis, his health teacher. He woke to a wet bed. Now, walking through the woods, he made sure to keep sort of a quiet, listening, and ready pose in case he heard the tiny screams of a small fly with the head of a man. Suddenly, Taylor took off running.
“Here! Here it is!” Taylor waved frantically, something silver and terrible appearing in his hand. Charlie started after him and tripped, landing at Taylor’s feet. “Get up, you baby. Charlie, you’re a grade A pussy.” Taylor flashed the knife in Charlie’s eyes. Embarrassed, Charlie pushed himself up off the ground, wiping dirt and leaves off his slacks. “Then, that’s what you’re here to show me? That knife? I’ve seen a stupid knife before, Taylor. Who cares?”
“No, man. It’s not just the knife. I’m not going to kill you, but I am going to kill this.” Taylor jutted out his right hand and pointed at a cage about five feet away, containing a black cat. Charlie stepped back.

***

Mother laughed and looked at him from what seemed like miles above, “What were you laughing at?”
The joy in Charlie’s heart suddenly replaced by fear and embarrassment, he quickly dropped his smile in to the face of a soldier at attention.
“The joke,” he said quietly, sternly. He shrugged, ever so slightly, attempting to subtly inform the room that he was embarrassed, and just trying to play along.
“Mmm, I see.” Mother laughed lightly, and moved some steak around in her mouth. A tiny stream of juice slithered out the corner of her upturned mouth. She lifted a twig like finger and pushed the juice back into her mouth, leaving behind a shiny trail into the smelly chamber. “What was the joke, then? I don’t think I got it correctly, if you managed to get it, too.”
Charlie looked around the table. Everyone was looking at him. His leg began to twitch. Skinny, their black lab rose from his father’s feet and came to lick Charles’ shaking knee.
“French fries,”Charlie timidly chirped. Mother arched one eye brow and looked around the room, sucking gristle from her teeth and chuckling. “And?”

Charlie picked at his blistered finger. It began to ooze beneath the table. Skinny licked his leaking hand. “French fries are a good food for a last meal. If I were going to die, I would want to eat a bunch of french fries before I went?” Although this wasn’t a question proper, Charlie raised the end of the sentence to a sharp point before trailing off. His intention in this mirrored that of his meek, feeble shrug from earlier. He wished his family would lay off of him, just once.

Everything remained silent for far too long, except the sound of Skinny devouring Charlie’s finger puss. Charlie’s father coughed. “Jesus, Marie, just tell the kid why it was so funny. He’s got to grow up sometime.” Charlies mother smiled, a peppercorn stuck between her lateral and central incisors. Leaning in very close to Charlie’s face, she said in almost a whisper, “Charlie, darling, he’s not just going to die he is being killed, because he’s a murderer. He is getting electrocuted to death, in front of people. His last words include the term French Fries because it’s a pun. His last name is French and he is going to fryyyy.” With that the room began to shake again with laughter. Charlie sunk in his chair, feeling foolish and stupid and naive and hated and ashamed. He tried to laugh again a little, so they knew that he knew. He also hoped they knew he hated them. But at the same time, he wanted them to love him.

This beef jerky tastes like blood

It’s Giant brand. My hometown grocery store has a brand of beef jerky now. I guess that as a snack, beef jerky must be really taking off. But, as we all know, “what’s popular isn’t always right…” This brand of beef jerky tastes like blood, and I have stopped eating it. Gross. Totally gross, guys.




The Untimely Death of Mrs. Featherbottom

It’s not quite springtime, but the weather has been nice. With the thaw comes the gentle uncovering of months-worth of hidden dog shit. It’s fucking disgusting. Also, I guess the predators are back from hibernation. What is it? A cat? A hawk? Nicolas Cage?

Putting it off

So this is it. Today was my first day of half employment. I finished a book, had an editorial meeting about Stymie, and now I’m putting off writing. I’ve got to get into the swing of this – fast.

Thank god for writing group. Last week’s randomly generated prompt: A friend bypasses an expert.

Last week’s work: Jim’s Face

So that’s how it happened. It happened just like I said.

Jim looked at me briefly before going back to his pack of old matches. He stuck them again and again, one at a time. Nothing happened. No spark.

“I must have washed them,” he mumbled, shrugging but kept on trying. A cigarette hung out of his mouth the entire time, and pulling it away in an act of defeat, a speck of blood appeared on his bottom lip – the blood rubbing itself all over Jim’s front teeth. His disappointment with my story and his bloody mouth made him look like a half-hearted rapist, slapped in the face.

I shrugged back at him.

“It’s not enough to hear the story, I guess.” I slipped my cold fingers clumsily into my pocket and grabbed my lighter for Jim.

“You had that the whole time?”

“Sure. I must have forgotten.” I shrugged again, as if I were in a foreign country, and shrugging was the only foreign word I knew.

Jim gave up his breath in order to accept the heavy smoke his cigarette was about to give him. It seemed a one-to-one trade with regards to displacement. Both would die, one sooner than the other. His lungs were a machine. The cigarette was made by machines, and now Jim’s double-breasted, pink machine would undo its workings. His fingers, a different kind of machine, would commit its remnants to the earth without ceremony; maybe some ceremony–secret, smoker’s ritual, the final suffocation of its ember before flicking the butt into the dark night. Witnesses unable to track the dead body to its eventual, and eternal space. Perhaps leaving it lit and sending it flying, a tan apparition without wings, undead yet to it’s grave. Never looking back at its last, fruitless seconds. Minutes, perhaps, of silent burning. Smoke, once a comfort to Jim, a coughing scream. Or, an ascension to heaven. A reincarnation. A smoky death for someone new.

“You forgot?” Jim smoked and stared.

“No, I told you, it happened just how I said.”

“No. About the lighter. Didn’t you see me wasting all those matches? You were standing right in front of me.” He points to some time and place behind us.

“Man, those matches were already wasted. I forgot about the lighter. It’s been in these pants since I bought them. I hate these pants. I wore them today because my other pair got burned in the accident. Who knows, maybe the accident happened just so you could have that smoke.” I laughed.

“That’s stupid. It’s just another example of how I’m the lucky one. I mean, not so often at your expense, but I’m lucky that you had that lighter. You’re unlucky that you were in the accident. Maybe your story didn’t make sense because you’ve got brain damage.”

“It’s not brain damage.”

“But, you’re saying it is something then, after all?”

“No. It’s nothing. And you don’t understand my story because some things don’t, or can’t come across in explanation. You would have had to be there, I guess. People say that all the time, right? ‘You had to be there.’ This was one of those situations. Deal with it.”

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be there,” Jim said in a straining whisper, expelling the words in a way that meant he couldn’t wait to say them. Too aware of our surroundings, he looked back to where we’d just been, and then side to side, stopping to look really hard for a moment at a bag in a trashcan that had been turned inside out by the wind, convulsing like a tethered monster.

“Jim,” I said, trying to draw attention earnestly to the fact that he was Jim, and I was Eric, and we were just two people, solid and absolute, standing in an amorphous sea of time and perception, “no one died in the accident. Everything is fine. My pants are ruined, that’s all.”

Jim shook his head. “I get it, I get it,” he said in a dutiful way, that made me feel like a father to him. I almost tussled his hair, but it wouldn’t really have been a joke, and if it were he wouldn’t have gotten it.

“What I imagine is so different, though, from the way you described it.”

“How could it be? All you have is what I told you.”

“That’s not what I mean. Like I said, I’m glad I wasn’t there, but if I pretend I was, everything looks so different. What I imagine seems so true, that your story feel like a lie.”

I rolled my eyes. “Okay, tell me what you imagine.”

“I imagine a car accident.”

“But it wasn’t.”

“I know, just let me describe it. You’re driving down a dark road–“

“You fucking know it was the afternoon.”

“Let me finish, ok?”

“Ok, man, go ahead.”

Jim thoughtfully pulled out another cigarette, and folded one hand in on itself in a flapping motion, indicating his desire for my lighter. I searched my pockets like a prospector, digging deep, and hard. Nothing. Jim’s face relaxed. His fingertips disappeared into the blackness of his pants pocket. The yellow lighter emerged from the chasm like a sunrise. He lit up and handed me the lighter.

“Alright, now. You’re driving down a dark road. You’re smoking. You’re actively smoking, and you’re maybe–no, definitely–you’re counting your cigarettes. It’s been five cigarettes since you started driving.”

“Jesus, man. What kind of delineation of time is that?”

“Come on, I do it all the time. It’s a three-cigarette drive to Marcy’s. A one-and-a-half-cigarette walk to the grocery store. You get it, man. Come on.”

“But, people smoke at in different increments of time. Some people don’t smoke at all. It’s too subjective. Just say it’s a twenty-minute walk to the store.”

“It’s relative. It doesn’t matter. It just means that you’d been driving for a while, counting your smokes because you were nervous and knew you shouldn’t be smoking. Your feelings about smoking just have to do with the state you were in before the accident.”

“I wasn’t smoking anyway, but whatever, man. Keep talking.”

“It’s nighttime. You’ve been driving for a while, and are smoking because you’re nervous.”

“What am I nervous about?”

Well, I’d imagine that you were nervous about where you’re going. You’re going home, but it’s representative of something else. You’re going home from some odd job you’ve taken because money’s been tight. I mean, you lost your job last month. You’re not used to having to skimp on purchases, because that job of yours was cake. Buying a half-dozen of eggs instead of the full dozen, because you need eggs, but can’t afford the luxury of a full dozen, that sort of thing–”

“I can’t even remember the last time I had eggs. But, I get your point.”

Jim spoke again sharply. “Eggs, milk, bread. It doesn’t matter, man.”

Jim grabbed my arm like I was a child, doing something I shouldn’t, as a quiet correction for polite company–code replacing a harsh and chiding Stop it now.

“Again, they’re representative of something else-–staples, stability, and provisions from the world. And your home is just another reminder. The emptiness of the fridge. The moisturizing shower bar soap at the sink instead of the antibacterial liquid pump kind. All of it is characteristic of a faulty foundation. Thin character of self, or whatever.”

“Wait, are you still telling a story about me?”

Jim gave an ambivalent frown. “This how I imagine the accident happened.”

“My accident?”

“Yeah, your accident. Shut up, okay? Don’t talk again until I’m done. Let’s sit down. You close your eyes and I’ll talk. You just imagine it happening, alright?”

Will I ever be able to recapture this glory from 2007?/ Is it wrong to pick favorites from things you’ve written?

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2007

Exposé Of A Nanny

Years ago I thought I wanted to be a comedian. I even began to write some jokes. One of them went like this, “yeah, so I’m a mother now. (applause) Thank you. Yeah, I just adopted an ugly 17 year old so I could finally go out and be the ‘pretty one.'” It’s a terrible joke. Me? a Mother? That isn’t funny. I didn’t realize how unfunny it was until I became a nanny.
I didn’t really mean to become a nanny. In fact, I hadn’t hung out with kids since I was a volunteer at an after school program when I was in high school. That ended with getting my ass handed to me by two ten year olds.
Then two years ago I moved to Philadelphia, and some stranger asked me to watch his kids. I accepted because I trust myself, and I needed extra money. Also, because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It’s not that babysitting, or nannying isn’t fun, because it really is. I mean, you get paid to play. It’s the walking into someone else’s life that is really fucked up. Oh, bummer alert.

 

Moving on…Nannying has become so popular that I’m actually starting my own Babysitters club: Great Nanny Alliance Redux (GNAR) Squad. It’s kind of a cash cow. Seriously though, in Philadelphia, nannies are the stewardess’ for the 21st century. There are tons of women, ages 20-25 rocking the city on a daily basis with someone else’s kids.
I guess I could go real deep into the societal implications i.e.: daughters of career women are lashing back with having a career as a mother, but I don’t really feel like doing that. Dismantling societal constructs by way of feminism or capitalism is a real fucking downer. So, why not just check out my day as a nanny.

This is Emma.

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If you live or work anywhere near South Street, then you’ve most likely seen her around. She’s probably the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen, but seriously, all kids are kind of the same. Really though, my kids will be different. Duh.

I made sure to bring snacks with me, because strangely enough, parents don’t always have food around. But it didn’t matter, because she totally ignored the lady code and went through my bag!

 

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Fuuuuck. Good thing I brought two apples.

 

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Ugh.

 

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Does she think I’m made of apples?

Whatever, anyway, after a good snack, I asked Emma what she wanted to do. The obvious answer was “Go to the park.”

 

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Johnny Depp once said that hanging with a young kid is like hanging out with a drunk. I’m kind of inclined to agree seeing as how Emma can’t walk a straight line.

 

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Not to mention her willingness to trespass.

 

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Once we got to the park, Emma was pretty much into checking out the other kids, while I was kind of checking out this dude that was obviously living the dream.

 

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We hung with our imaginary friends.

 

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And then Emma wanted to swing. Ha! Not to turn this into a competition, but she couldn’t even climb onto the swing!

 

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Whereas I can swing like a fucking champ!

 

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And P.S. Swinging is sweet shit. All that swinging makes a lady thirsty. But, water? Kid, are you crazy?

 

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I mean, that was totally my water in the first place, but kids backwash, and I’m tired.

 

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It’s 4pm and time to take it Steazy. Turns out that it was also snack time.

 

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But I swear if she had eaten that apple earlier, the situation wouldn’t have seemed to dire. So, like any good nanny, I took her to Whole foods, where the food is not only healthy but also, moderately priced. Emma wanted a banana cookie, but all they had was a banana chocolate chip muffin. I handed the muffin over and told her to party hard, but shiiiiittt, that girl parties a little too hard.

 

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Oh well, the day was almost over, and it was time to go home. But before I left, I asked Emma to do a banana phone interview with me, and she politely agreed…

 

 

The Interview

 

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Courtney: What’s your name?
Emma: Um, Alison
C: Oookay, how old are you?
E: Three.
C: Are-
E: My name is Madelyn
C: Um, do you know what Multiple Personality Disorder is?
E: I don’t know

 

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C: Who am I talking to right now?
E: To me.

 

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C: What did we do today?
E: Play.
C: Did we have fun?
E: Uh huh. What are you writing?
C: An article.
E: Oh, okay.
C: Do you know what an article is?
E: No, I don’t know what an arcle is.
C: Do you know that you are absolutely covered in chocolate?
E: Yeah.
C: What do you think about Brit getting her kids taken away?
E: I don’t know.
C: What about Brangalina and baby Zhara’s hip surgery?
E: I don’t know. What are you saying?

 

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C: Who do you think will win the election? Obama or Hillary?
E: -Silence-
C: You’re smart for not wanting to talk politics with friends. Well, who do you want to be president?
E: A dog.

 

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C: Good answer.

Finally her dad came home, and after getting PAAAIIIIID, my day was over. All in a day’s work. Thursdays are awesome.

 

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This is from Ugh News. Now defunct.

http://ughnews.blogspot.com/2007/10/expose-of-nanny.html

Quitter

It’s been a weird 2011 so far. Uncharacteristically I have quit smoking, and quit my job. I’ll get back to those things in a second.

First I’d like to discuss something else I tried (and failed) to quit: Facebook.

I decided to quit Facebook on January 11th, at 6:04pm after reading in the New York Times that FB is worth about $50 billion dollars. This large number, compounded with the large amount of time I had been spending on Facebook made me want to pull the plug. So, I immediately went over to my computer and posted that I was tapping out. I requested that people e-mail me with their information so that we could stay in touch, and then I went about trying to delete my account.

What I found was that Facebook gives you the option to Deactivate, not delete. And like a manipulative, codependant mate, Facebook asks over and over again if you’re sure you want to leave. Then it sets about making you feel guilty for leaving by showing you photos of your friends and saying things like “[Joe Shmoe] is really going to miss you!” “[Betty Best Friend] is sad to see you go!”

THEN, as if it doesn’t know why, Facebook asks you WHY you are leaving. It presents you with seven preselected reasons, such as: I don’t like the layout of Facebook; I spend too much time on Facebook; I’m worried about my privacy. If you select a response, it will immediately offer you an easy solution to the problem. At the bottom of the list is an “Other” box for you to write in your reasons.

After all of this, you click Deactivate My Account, and BOOM, it’s done. But…what’s this? I can reactivate at any time? BAAAAHHHHHHH!

So, a friend of mine tipped me off to this hilarious web-bot called The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. Apparently some artists in the Netherlands created this program that will log into your account, change your password immediately, and then go about deleting everything on your Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, or LinkedIn (not all of them at once, you get to choose which social network you want to disappear from). But, apparently Facebook has blocked them, and sent a cease and desist letter since technically they are “stealing” from Facebook, even if it’s information that YOU OWN and that you are giving PERMISSION for the Suicide Machine to take. Ridiculous.

Disappointed in the impotence of the Suicide Machine I decided to just Google how to delete my Facebook account, and it sent me here (you must be logged in to Facebook to see it). So I did. I deleted my account, but when you choose to delete your account they don’t just do it right away, they tell you that your account will be deleted within 14 days. Guh. Plenty of time to opt out.

And I did.

But here’s the thing. Well, there are a few things.

First of all, I feel like a hypocrite. I don’t just mean because I talked all this shit about how I was going to bail on Facebook and then wussed out. But, because I talked all this shit about how Facebook was treating my likes and interests like commodity, then I came back to Facebook to promote my blog, and the things that I am writing. It doesn’t matter, maybe. I should probably relax.

Second of all, I can’t stop thinking about this TED talk that a friend of mine posted when I has threatened to commit web suicide. Amber Case proposes that we are creating a second self on the internet. Another dimension. And, I know she isn’t being totally literal, but I can’t stop imagining a world of other us-es that exist in the internet, and that once they are done gathering all the information they need about us in order to become free-thinking, functional cyber people, they will lock themselves in, shutting the internet down forever, from the inside, and forever continue to live as us. Bob says, “You mean The Matrix?” I don’t. I mean that we would continue living normally, but would never have access to the internet again. And who knows if the cyber us-es even continue living after they shut down the internet. Would it even matter? God, I would make a terrible sci-fi writer.

Anyway, I also quit my job. So, after seeing that awesome display of rambling above, if you want to hire me for writing, or anything, please let me know.

Best parts about this week:

I started a writing group.

We began our epic re-watch.

A customer made this for me.

 

It’s been a good week.

On the mundane, and the outlandish. With a gross photo below.

What do people even write about when they post every day?

For breakfast I had a rosemary olive oil bagel with two packets of cream cheese. For lunch, two helpings of left-overs from dinner last night.

Someone said something rude to me the other day.

I stubbed my toe.

I gave away $20 to a man who might have been lying about his misfortune, and it didn’t make me feel good the way being a good person usually does.

I spent a lot of money on my credit card.

I put off writing anything new, again.

I made calls, and avoided some.

Thought thoughts, said things that I admired myself for, and other things I came to regret.

That shit’s boring. To me it’s something, but to you, who the hell knows. I don’t have any more pictorial tours up my sleeve. I’ve got to get on that, maybe.

In  Sherlock Holmes Jude Law said “…down the rabbit hole…” a phrase that I thought was being used out of historical context, which bummed me out. But the movie took place about thirty years later than Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. While doing some research about when the phrase entered popular culture, Merriam-Webster claims that it wasn’t used until 1980, even though Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865. This has to be bullshit, right? Should I write to them? I can’t find any other documentation about the history of the phrase.

I don’t want another Super America situation:

2011 is probably going to be the best year yet. Truth.

But seriously, I submitted a story to a Glimmer Train contest. I was pretty excited about it until I noticed, after I submitted it, of course, that there was a typo.

I had a pretty good idea for a non-fiction book, but whether I have it in me to do all that research on top of how busy I already am, who knows. Does anyone even want to read about Houdini or psychic mediums anymore?