More Than One Way To Cook

E-mail from Mom at work says: Autumn I have to pick up Chris and take him to the license bureau, won’t have time to make dinner. MAKE CHILLI BUT NOT TOO SPICY. Thanks.

**evil grin**

I realized a report was due while sitting in class during the daily news program, giving me 10 minutes of TV before my fate. Risky a move as it was, I glanced over at a chick’s pink paperback and judged the cover. It had some kind of title about being an adolescent girl that her parents didn’t understand, with an illustration of a pastel bedroom, messy with wrinkled clothes and rock posters. Ripping off a piece of lined paper, I began writing whatever lollygagging shit came to mind. I stole the student’s choice of reading material, used the same title and author, and wrote a quick overview of the story.

“The main character was a creative girl, and stubborn. She wasn’t getting along with her mother on anything. One of the main disagreements involved the year-end event. Blah blah blah, eventually, she picked a prom dress they both agreed on. Minimal skin exposure, not too short-not too elderly yadda yadda, everyone was happy and the daughter and Mommy loved each other again.”

You know. That kind of horsehit.

When the paper came back, I saw that my teacher had written, “In my 10 years of teaching as a profession, I have never read such fantastic character description.”

“Oh, good,” I thought, pleased the report had passed, let alone with an “A”. Then I looked ahead to the classmate who had actually read the book. It said “C-“ and something along the lines of “see me if you’d like a redo.” She approached the teacher and I heard him saying, “I don’t think you really grasped the moral of this story…”

This trip down memory lane has been brought to you by the recent viewing of “Shattered Glass”. It’s a pretty good movie. I picked it up today, read as much as “journalist”, “Rolling Stone”, and “controversy”, which was enough to convince me. It’s all about the downfall of Stephen Glass.

It made me think about my own writing, and the responsibility when publishing something for public viewing. When it’s a matter of non-fiction Blogging, I want the material to be reliable. An accurate event is more important to me, than “who finds it interesting”. This necessary truth, obviously not the same priority that Mr. Glass abided by, comforts me.

This is one thing that can never come crashing down, around me.


A Different Key, or, Autumn’s Twins

The head Bruckman of Bruckman’s Moving Company took a few tries to get things right, which ultimately left him with a large family. Mostly blondes. I knew nothing about such details until a long while after summer lessons with The Twins were underway. Every week, two pale, black-haired boys sat on a piano bench and looked at me with brown eyes wide enough to make up for mouths that never opened. When I try to think that far back, all I can remember are the shocked faces, every time I said something funny or let expletives slip.

One born 30 seconds after the other, I couldn’t tell them apart for a month. They seemed to mirror each others’ movements, what I had heard of their voices sounded the same, and they both had copies of colorful hard covers I would come to learn as Harry Potter. Often stressed from extra-curricular networking at school, drilling innocent children on music theory was rarely inviting. So when one of them asked to show me what they were always carrying around in those giant, black binders, I didn’t hesitate to sidetrack.

These were funny creature cards. Hundreds and hundreds of Pokemon cards. Sometimes they had pencil drawings of the animals on lined paper, stuck between the pages of their repertoire.

“Dad says our mom has dark hair. He really liked her but she did drugs, so she couldn’t keep us.”

Catching me off-guard, questions were thrown like they had them ready, waiting to slip one in whenever I stopped talking. I started dismissal responses, “that was a friend of mine,” “it’s a portrait I’m working on”,

“those are just some letters”.

“Letters from who?”
“A, Person, guy. This song has a flat in it, see?”

They weren’t putting very much effort into memorizing the lines of the clefs, but they could pick right back up with something going on, in my life. One of them was excelling at reading the notes, and I could tell the other one was playing by ear. Slowly, there was Adam – taking the keys on paper. And Nick – using the sound in the air. Their playing and progress are what eventually separated them, for me. It became harder, though, to stay on track. Their crumpled twenty-dollar bill started to change, in value.

“Look!” I said, peeling paper that was around our ice cream cones. When I set the wrapper flat on the table, two prints of Ronald McDonald’s head smiled back. “It’s Adam and Nick!”

Adam gave me the finger, having learned the art of sarcasm and added language he hadn’t picked up, from me.

“I’m worried, Dan,” Mandi’s voice was relayed. “She’s been hanging out with these little kids. Anyway, I like, really need a ride to this party and I can’t get a hold of her. Do you think you could swing by?”

“And he said he was gay on the internet? But how did you get his password?”
“Dan is so stupid. He made the question ‘What is Dogbert’s owner’s name?’ I had to break in. I’m a curious person… I feel terrible. I’ve been calling him a fag for wearing all that jewelry.”

A year, two years. The Twins knew the nicknames I’d made for my friends, that I was going to surprise everyone and take the blue ribbon in the art fair, that I had been waiting until I was 18 because “that’s when my mom says I’m old enough to meet the person I’ve been writing to”, and just about every other secret they could piece together in weekly bits. When graduation rolled around, I had to wrap the lessons up – but I’d made two very dear friends.

In the family photos, they’re off to the side, dark oddballs. Mrs. Buckman’s youngest dominates the refrigerator space, clutching his news toys or donning a basketball jersey. I had always wanted to drop a sack of nuggets in their step-mother’s lap, and walk out with the boys in my possession. They are a great pride, to me.

Distance and time didn’t seem to shake them. One night while I was very far away, Nick instant-messaged me about the dream he’d had:

“I was really sad because you were leaving. You had to find the person who disappeared on you. It was time. I kissed you on the cheek and had to say goodbye.”

In the midst of going through the motions in another life, there were two people left, there from the beginning, who remembered the one thing I could never convince myself to forget. My hands stopped moving over the keys and I proceeded to bawl my eyes out.

Today was special, because Nick came and got me. It has been nearly seven years, and he passed his driver’s test earlier this month. We went into Flint to retrieve a car part, and had dinner on the front patio. Somewhere in town, his brother was running around in a Vampire Larp, a paper folded in his pocket with stats that clash with the mortal I know. He’s always doing the kinds of things that worry and intrigue me at the same time.

Riding passenger, I could hardly believe the miles.


I told myself I would sit down and try to write, but I’ve spent the past hour of my life glued to the Smallville kickoff, groping a little stress ball while putting “chicken dick” in the slogan generator at and burning my tongue on this lemon juice bottle. Okay.


Last and final summer’s night, I came into possession of Green Day’s new album. The subject deserves thorough backstory, but I’ll summarize by saying that for the past 10 years, I’ve been immersed in the band. I’ve never regretted the decision I made in junior high, to put my musical trust in the hands of Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre. It’s a noise I found in 1994 that has always seemed to grow with me, and the sound occupies such an elaborate property in my heart that it makes the rest of my loves jealous.

I cleared a spot on The Cd Tower days in advance and hummed a brass-sounding announcement when entering or exiting my bedroom. At concerts, I battle through crowds of generally admitted adolescents who temporarily pocket their spiked attire to get in. I am the girl who stood in every record store she came by, fingering hundreds of CD racks for every imported single before feeling she had been done wrong when they released all B sides on Shenanigans. In short, I’m quietly monomaniacal about it and worship Green Day. Green Day. Green Day. Green Day, goes the marquee across my brain.

When American Idiot started to play in the vehicle, everyone riding along was silenced by the commanding significance of the record itself. Something about the dark sky and winding country roads had me in a half-trance where life was saturated and bleeding like a photoshop filter.

“Is it good?” my brother leaned in Roy’s direction, wanting a verdict from his best friend.
“Obviously. Show some respect, Chris.”

Summer has come and passed/the innocent can never last
Wake Me Up When September Ends
Here comes the rain again, falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again, becoming who we are
my memory rests but never forgets what I lost
Wake Me Up When September Ends

The three of us share a similar infatuation with the same thing, though it has been years since we bonded with bratty music and matching hooligan antics. We’ll probably never again entertain the skies with gasoline anarchy signs acres in size, or throw tacs from bushes, into the paved streets. We’ve been through lonely disruptions and tragedy that changed our attitudes towards each other, since then. That’s why I thought it was just me, fantasizing a long-missed sound had brought around something age-old in our brains and connected us on the way back home.

But as I was walking up to the front porch, Christopher squeezed my shoulder. I turned around to find out why, and he just stood there, and smiled at me. Then he looked down into my hand and reached out for the album. Something had happened, and it made my eyes glass over. I spent the entire night listening to it on my headphones, wide awake until 7 a.m. and crossed over into fall.

3 Monster drinks later.

Going through virtual file cabinets today, I unearthed a classic:

I Want To Kill Myself!

We walked into the library of the middle school last year, and saw that the “media specialists” AKA “dim-witted librarians”, had innocently slapped this up on the boards, everywhere.

I died then, and I die every time I look at it. The little alien faces, the look in Nick’s eyes to me, everything is perfect. PROOF:


Last Night

I had a dream that my brother and I were in a trailer, being driven by my aunt. She was looking to park it by their pond, and I watched out the window with my brother as our grandfather’s property flashed by. For some reason, it was a few hundred acres larger, like looking down from a plane and seeing elaborate patches of field, forest and valley. A monster-sized horse was pulling some machinery across a deep lake. Suddenly very excited, I grabbed at Chris and told him that this was where my mother wanted to be, when she dies.

(I should have known everything was fake, because my grandfather died and his farm is being sold off, bit by bit. It looks nothing like it used to.)

Then it became unclear as to whether or not my mother was alive, and whether or not I was somewhere real. It was filling me with worry and sadness, but at the same time it was peaceful, seeing the outside view. I thought about wanting to be with my mom, where/however she was, and the transition changed.

I was looking into a car that had four doors open, and a few people seemingly fixing it up, inside. Annoyed by the bees, I turned around and saw someone trying to eat part of a honeycomb that had bees all over it. Moving away from the scenario, the dream changed a little more until I was standing in front of a house.

The house shot up into the air in layers, like it was being raised from the outside. Quickly, the entire thing was hovering in pieces before it rose higher and then slammed down to the ground by the force of a powerful wind. Shingles and siding became sand.

Suddenly, I was watching people running down long, wide halls, escaping from a horrible, crunching noise. The building was getting torn apart like a tornado was passing through it, from one end to the other. I don’t know if I was running with them or just seeing everything. Then I woke up.

* I’d like to credit a tech forum for helping me fix a MSScript window error, Cyber Tech, and there are some neat tools in their downloads section. I had never tried Hijack This before, and it fixed my problem. The tech who suggested it was a girl, too :) That was neat.

I am officially addicted, or, Game On

As I understand it, someone took two technologies and combined them to create the ass kickingest pinball to ever grace a monitor. Pinmame was connected to Visual Pinball scripts and birthed Visual Pinmame. Physics, shadow, display screens, realistic ball, the works – this is a giant step up from the Pinbot I used to play on Nintendo. It’s blowing my mind, because I’m looking at the same machines I’ve stood in front of, feeding quarters into.

Ooh. <– the URL you need. In order to download the files, visit the forum and register. Note that mandatory files are unlimited but you can only grab 5 games a day. Visit the screen captures to help you decide.

1. Create a folder in drive C – Vpinmame, Pinball, YourMom, whatever
2. Make 2 folders within that folder: ROM and Samples.
3. Download Visual Pinball TB6.1 & VpinMAME 1.32.001, unzip to Vpinmame and install.
4. Click the VPinMAME setup program, and when the window with the directories comes up, make sure the path reads to c:\Vpinmame\rom
5. Download the newest VBS scripts, unzip them into Tables folder.
6. Download font pack v3.8 and put it in your Windows font folder (start, find, Fonts)
7. Download the PinMAME samples and unzip to Samples folder
8. Download new tables into the Tables folder
9. Download ROMs (to the right of the table files) to ROM folder, (don’t unzip these)
10. Click in Tables, the game you want to play. Click “yes” to the legality question.

* see URL for any additional requirements. This runs fine on my Win 98 SE.
* some people might get a notice from their anti-virus about questionable files before the game starts.
* General Commands: #5 inserts quarters, #1 is start button, ENTER is launcher, SHIFTS are flippers, space button is Tilt function

If the above directions are confusing, the program comes with an installation guide. If you have any problems, leave a comment and I’ll try to help you out any way I can. jsin00 is the guy who clued me in, and he can help you out, too.


I’ve been sitting here for the past half hour or so, tracing my face with the end of a pencil. This isn’t my home, my chair, or my size font, and I feel like I’m sitting in front of an Ouija board, wishing I didn’t have to do all the work. You’d think my clothes would spark with the static cling of cable, and that I would be ON, but it’s as though I’m numb to the speed. Or maybe that’s just my ass, constantly having to readjust in the hopeless search for comfort on a motorized cart my grandmother parked here as a chair.

She had some kind of surgery done, as all old people are getting. I forget if anyone told me what exactly fell off or wasn’t working well, but she came home today and I was graciously volunteered to get dropped off for the night. Her house has boxes piled from the floor to the ceiling, some kind of gigantic attic cleanout that only got worse with time. Time also killed off grandpa, so I’m balancing the weight of a crater while crammed in a dark corner. This monitor is blasting white light on the walls in a bad way, reminding me of a thousand lonely people mistaking the same color for glow in an IM buddy’s eyes. My screens don’t do this; this is some kind of sad vacuum.

Elvis just serenaded me through a urine deposit. Grandma plays the radio in the bathroom, all hours of the day. I can hear Jeopardy in her bedroom, and some kind of show in the living room with people singing that stuff like “Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”. I bet she has a thing about filling the place with noise, specifically, voice. It gives the rooms a sense of pulse. God, I hope hers doesn’t stop on my watch.

My own thoughts fail to entertain me. I can’t seem to get crazy for anything, tonight. There’s a bottle of Codine resting on the back of the toilet. That’s all I’m saying.