Posts Tagged ‘The NERVOUS STOMACH Series’

Sunday, January 03, 2010 

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 36 – Vision
Current mood: chill
Category: Life

Okay, I’m fourteen and thinking that this ‘masturbation-will-make-you-go-blind’ thing might be the reason I have to wear the proverbial coke-bottle glasses now. But wearing glasses, I decide, isn’t too high a price.

I’ve been a mystery, comic book, and TV fan since I was like two, which means I love Nancy Drew and Captain Archer and Superman and Wonder Woman and all the other icons who put their lives on the line for truth, justice, and the American way. Since it’s snowing like crazy outside and the rest of my family is trapped at my Aunt Celina’s (I faked a stomach ache so I could stay home) I decide to spend the day making up my own hero, somebody who can really cut it in a new decade.

I start typing, burning through the page after page on my computer screen until it’s late afternoon. A dark hero develops, a teenage boy whose superpower is so dorky, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s supposed to do with his life. His skill? The kid can make bad smells good.

I’m just launching into the big caper where he’s fighting his town’s most hated supervillan, Gas-O-Matic, when the loudest rumbling I’ve ever heard in my life begins. The whole house shakes for several minutes. Seconds later, my computer screen blanks out. Dead. Along with the TV, furnace, and lava lamp. Without the lights, it’s much darker in the room than it should be for two-thirty.

“No fucking way!” I scream, thinking about the ice-packed mountain that just happens to butt up against the back of our house. When I open the mudroom door to check the circuit breakers, I am greeted by a wall of snow.

“Cooper!” I yell, calling my beloved spitz husky to my side. At the same time, I work to close the door before too much snow tumbles further into our house. Cooper bounds down the hallway and shoves his front paws against the door. It clicks shut. “WTF, huh Boy?” I say. He barks his agreement.

We stumble through the darkness up the stairs to the second floor. I grab my high-powered X-Files flashlight (my dad ordered it special from the Internet after I made a fuss about how cool Mulder and Scully’s flashlights were) from my bedroom and turn the beam toward the window, trying to look out. Hard-packed snow, all the way up to the top of the frame, looks in.

“OMG!” I holler. “Coop, we’re freakin’ buried alive!” Cooper and I race up the attic steps to the third floor. As I was afraid, the windows are dark. We’re completely covered.

“What are we gonna do?” I ask him, starting to feel the fear that makes your balls crawl further into your crotch than seems healthy. Our house is far away from the neighbors, so they won’t be any help. Our phone is IP, so it doesn’t work when there’s no power. My parents and little brother aren’t due home from Aunt Celina’s until (at least) ten. Maybe later – if Aunt Celina makes her trademark “indigestible pizza sauce” and they have to spend some time in the rest area on the interstate.

All of which will be too late for me. If we’re truly buried under snow, I’m thinking oxygen is now my and Cooper’s greatest concern. “Damn global warming!” I yell to no one and slide open the attic window. Cooper and I begin to dig.

Three hours later, we’ve made some progress in an upwards direction, but no light. No air. My head starts to feel woozy. My cuticles are cracked around the knuckles. The house is as cold inside as outside. I start getting that warm feeling they describe you’ll get when you freeze to death. The end is coming quicker than I expected.

Easing back from digging, I think that maybe it’s best this way. It’s been a damn cold winter and they just took Dollhouse off the air. “What’s the point?” I mutter to Coop, who’s now lying by my side, looking equally exhausted.

But then I think of Buffy and Jupiter Jones and all the kids with a vision to make the world a better place. Teen Titans. Clay Aiken. The Balloon Boy. I can’t give up now.

Cooper nudges me with his snout and barks a Lassie life-is-really-worth-living bark. I rouse from my snoozy, oxygen-deprived slow freeze to make one last effort. I think of all the heroes I’ve known. If they were me, what would they do? Diana Price would probably just punch her way through the snow. The Hardy Boys might use some chemistry knowledge to melt their way out…only to discover that Aunt Gertrude has made them a hearty meal of beef stew, candied potatoes, and apple pie as reward.

Mulder and Scully would…”I’ve got it!” I scream at Coop. Pulling off my spectacles, I shine my super-powered X-files flashlight through the thick lenses. Twin beams shoot out at the snow pack, burning their way through the frozen threat. The attic becomes thick with steam as oxygen deprivation gives me giddy hallucinations. I giggle uncontrollably.

The flashlight/glasses combo does the trick; a now-cavernous tunnel breaks up through the snow to reveal the last light of day – and precious fresh air. Cooper and I gulp breath after breath as we lay on the now-steamy attic floor.

“Thank God for masturbation,” I gasp out to Coop. He barks in agreement. 


For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at
I invite you to visit my stuff.










Currently listening:
    The Doors
    By The Doors
    Release date: 2007-03-27



Wednesday, August 19, 2009 

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 35 – Road Trip
Current mood:road trippy
Category: Life

Okay, I’m thirty-six and thinking that lay off doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. After all, nine percent of all Americans are in the same boat…and now I can have a cosmopolitan at noon. And I have more time to promote my new memoir, In Jupiter’s Shadow. I just overnighted a galley copy to FOX news yesterday, figuring stirring up a little liberal memoir controversy might give them something else to trash besides President Obama.

Instead of a mixing my favorite fruity drink, I throw a weekend pack and my first print run of books into the Honda and speed south. Cooper, my trusty spitz-husky, joins me for the ride. “Maybe we can find someplace to do a reading in Florida,” I tell him. He licks my face in response.

Sleeping overnight in one of those highway rest areas (to keep my laid-off expenses to a minimum), I wake in the a.m. to view the sun creeping over the edge of the rest-area building. “Time to get up, Boy,” I poke Cooper.

I think if I had awaked just 15 or so minutes earlier, you know, like 6:10, or even 6:15, I might have been able to avoid the whole thing. Cooper and I would have toileted and tramped on south at 70+ mph. Maybe to Myrtle Beach, and homemade fudge at The Island Fudge Shoppe. Maybe to New Orleans, and a hurricane drink at Pat O’Brien’s.

But no, I have to wake up at 6:30.

As I reach for the car door handle, in the rear view mirror, I see a tractor trailer bearing down on my teensy Honda and my 50 remaining copies of In Jupiter’s Shadow. I make out the banner across the top of the cab: FOX NEWS CRACKDOWN.  Damn that GPS I installed last month.

“Cooper, let’s GO!” I shriek, grabbing at my dog’s mane, diving out of the vehicle into the damp weeds next to the Interstate. Cooper, half awake, tumbles along with me. We’re about eight feet from my car when a terrific crash splits the morning air. The tractor trailer crunches over my little vehicle like a train smooshing pennies on a railroad track. Glass and metal peck the ground around us as spare copies of my book, shredded to a fine pulp by the impact, rain like confetti throughout the entire rest area.

The tractor trailer driver slows, waves, blasts the horn twice, then continues back toward the highway. 

Now I am not just perturbed. I am not just angry. I am furious! Furious for all of it: the endless news cycles about Health Care Death Clauses. The scrolling banners about Government Stimulus Overspending. And now, my shredded Catholic, it’s-okay-to-be-yourself-even-if-you’re-gay, memoir.

I leap to my feet. “AHHHHH” I scream into the morning air, already running to catch the rapidly accelerating truck, Cooper close behind. With a leap worthy of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I land on the rear ladder, climbing onto the roof. I run to the front and, twisting the FOX NEWS CRACKDOWN banner off the cab, I use it as a springboard to rocket myself through the open rider’s window.

“Did you even READ my book?” I hurl at the trucker, pummeling his gut and opening his door simultaneously. He’s out and in the dirt before I can say “conservative bias.” I grab the wheel and slow the truck slightly, just long enough for Cooper to leap up into the cab.

“I hope FOX provides good healthcare benefits!” I shout to the trucker, as Cooper and I speed back up and head to the publisher for more book copies.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009 

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 34 – The Perils of Blogging


So I’m twenty eight and thinking that it’s a sin to let a blog go unblogged for nine months. But sins, like modern art museums or severance packages, must be evaluated relatively: how bad are they really?

I log back into my MySpace blog and start thinking about what the heck I’m going to write about…I mean we’ve lost Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, Walter Cronkite, and that OxyClean guy. I launch into a diatribe about the media’s uneven coverage of these events…when a screechy metal sound starts up outside.

I ignore it.

Cooper, my faithful spitz husky, runs to the window barking furiously. But he does this every time a leaf rustles down the sidewalk, so I ignore him too.  

The sound gets louder — I start wondering if I’m going to be one of those people you see on TV describing what it’s like when a tractor trailer drives through your front wall — and finally I get up from the computer and join Cooper at the window.

“What’s up, Boy?” I ask.

I think if he could talk, he might have called me a bad word for my slow response…but that all gets lost as the wall in front of both of us explodes inward. 

“Coop!” I scream, swatting at drywall and glass shards. A cloud of dust surrounds both of us. I cough and fall backwards, grabbing for Cooper’s furry mane. 

I think I would have actually got it, but at that moment, a cold, steel hand clamps over my wrist. “Yahhh!” I yelp a high-pitched, girly yelp and consider that it’s not just made up when they say in movies and books that the manly hero “…was so frightened he actually peed his pants.”

The cold, steel hand is attached to a cold, steel body. One cold, steel camera-like lens/eye stares me in the face from a semi-human robot creature that has attached itself to my left arm. I now consider that it’s not outside the realm of possibility to believe it when they say the manly hero “…was so frightened he soiled his trousers.”

“Are you looking for the Terminator set?” I joke, trying simultaneously to lighten the mood and wrestle my wrist free. The lens/eye regards me and a metallic voice from inside the robot booms forth. 

“Are-you-Gregory-Gerard?” it asks in a flat, I’ll-show-no-emotion-as-I-rip-the-male-parts-from-your-quivering-body sort of voice.

“Ummm…who wants to know?” I stall for time. 

The lens/eye flashes bright blue, which I might think was kinda cool if the situation were slightly less life-threatening. “Voice-match-confirmed,” it says. “I-am-the-MySpace-BlogBot-and-you-are-in-violation-of-MySpace-required-blogging-policy-you-will-now-pay-the-agreed-upon-penalty.”

“Agreed by who?” I squeak out, glancing left and right, wondering if I can reach my Treo PDA with my right hand. It’s on the left side of my belt, so my initial attempts are unsuccessful. 

“Agreed-by-WHOM,” the BlogBot corrects me. “When-you-created-your-MySpace-account-you-checked-the-I-agree-to-terms-and-conditions-box-terms-which-state-that-all-MySpace-bloggers-leaving-blogs-unattended-for-a-period-of-six-or-more-months-shall-forfiet-one-body-part-for-each-unattended-month.”


My scrotum retracts into a tiny ball.


“That’s crazy!” I yell at the creature.


“That’s-MySpace,” it replies, reaching another cold, steel claw toward a part of my body that a man never wants somebody to reach for without first asking permission.


My mind races with the possibilities for escape…in the movies, every cyborg has some vulnerability: high voltage, hydrochloric acid, molten lava. None are in the near vicinity. “Ahhh!” I shout instead.


That’s when Cooper leaps through the drywall cloud, fangs bared. He lands on top of the clawed hand, which swings out of control, missing me entirely. I use the distraction to grab my Treo from its belt pouch. I flip open the power port and jamb it ass-first into the chest cavity of the BlogBot. “Take that!” I shriek.


A huge load of sparks spews into the air, making that same cool blue color as the lens/eye. Cooper completes his leap and rolls out of harm’s way. An acrid electric-wire burny smell fills the air as the robot releases my left hand and slumps onto the floor, smoldering.


Cooper and I stand over the steaming hulk, breathing heavily. I pause, pet my trusted four-legged friend, and grab hold of now-defunct steel claws. “Facebook is better, anyway,” I say, dragging the BlogBot out to the curb.


For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Thursday, August 07, 2008 

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 32 – TRAP(P)
Current mood:Making it happen…
Category: Life

Okay, I’m thirty-eight and it’s been one of the worst days at work EVER.  I just want to spend the evening soaking in vodka and The Sound of Music.

I’m trapped at a company that makes zero sense – I’m just been introduced to my fifth “virtual manager” in two years (because they’ve reorganized my department AGAIN and I report to yet-another person in yet-another state); my new dual-processor laptop runs slower than my crappy old one (‘It’s the new anti-theft corporate encryption software,’ my sys admin tells me), and my five-thirty conference call included a thirty-minute discussion over whether a picture of dolphins splashing around in the ocean captures the “synergy” of our group. 

You get the idea.

So I’m REALLY ready to have a white russian on the coffee table and Maria and the Von Trapps on the high-def plasma screen.  I’ve seen the movie like forty times, but I never get tired of singing along with great songs.  Songs like “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”.  The show is my ultimate favorite. 

All my life, I’ve secretly imagined what it would have been like if my parents had put me up for auditions for the movie — Kurt, when I was a kid, Freidrick, when I was a teenager, and Rolf, when I was seventeen (going on eighteen).  Lately I’m thinking I might be hard-pressed to pull off Gayorg – but to sing a duet with Julie Andrews, I’d at least give it a shot (and I secretly think I sing better than Christopher Plummer does anyway).

I pop the DVD into the player, peel off my too-hot penny loafers, and prepare to launch into my overstuffed couch.  That’s when I realize I don’t have any Half-and-Half in the house (a key ingredient for my white russian.)

“Fuck,” I say out loud to no one.  

I scrounge the fridge for a few minutes, wondering if stale milk or powdered Cremora will successfully pinch hit but, in my heart, I know it will be more painful than my last personnel review.  I put the DVD on ‘PAUSE’, hop into my hybrid Honday, and head to the grocery store.

I negotiate past a screaming kid (drooling what looks like Cream of Wheat on his Sponge Bob overalls) and enter the dairy aisle, wondering if I’ll still have time to watch the bonus interviews with the cast members.  I softly sing “Doe, a Deer” – nailing all of the tricky “Doe-Me-Me, Me-Sew-Sew” parts – while I scan the aisle.  That’s when the shopper next to me grabs my arm. 

“Is that ‘The Sound of Music’ you’re singing?” she asks, staring at me. 

“Yeah,” I say, mentally willing her to disappear like the Von Trapps at the Saltzburg Music Festival.  Out of the corner of my eye, I search the cooler shelves for Half-and-Half.

“That was really good!” she says, gushing.  “My friend is a singer and, believe me, she’d be interested in hearing you.”

“No, really, I just want to grab some creamer,” I say, seeing the empty slot for the Half-and-Half pints.  Maybe they have some in the organic section, I think, ploting my escape.  

“Sing some more,” she encourages.  Praying it will get rid of her, I briefly launch into “Climb Every Mountain,” vibrating the high parts in my best mock Mother Superior, hoping it will drive her away. 

It doesn’t. 

She laughs, claps her hands, and grabs her cell phone.  “My friend is at the shop next door.  I”ll have her come right over.  She’s gotta hear this!”  

“Listen, Lady,—”

“I hear Christopher Plummer got his start this same way,” she talks over me, turning to flag down an attractive older woman who’s just entered the store.

I grab a quart carton of organic creamer and turn to scream at the woman and her friend –  to tell them that I don’t give a shit, that I just want to get home to my vodka and DVD, that I hate my job and them too – when I recognize her attractive older-woman friend.

It’s Julie-freaking-Andrews

“Do you like white russians?” I ask instead, launching into a heartfelt rendition of “I Have Confidence”.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 31 — WATERLOO
Current mood: Heroicly sated
Category: Heroicly sated Life

Okay, I’m fifty-eight — the same age as Meryl when she filmed Mamma Mia.  I saw the play up in Toronto, and I really liked it, so I wonder if I am going to enjoy the film version.  But it’s a Thursday afternoon on my “staycation”, and it’s pouring gallons of buckets of cats and dogs with some water buffalos thrown in, just to make this screwy summer weather even screwier, so I hit the theater.  I pay the $7 matinee price…which was the price for seven movies when I qualified for “Under 13 pays $1”.  But everything is relative.  My mom tells me she used to go to the movies for a dime for the whole day.  Who knows, maybe $7 will seem like a bargain in a couple of more election cycles.

But I’m in my seat in the semi-darkness, and I’ve got my $12 worth of popcorn and soda.  I’m thinking about how I could maybe open a black-market popcorn and soda stand just outside the theater and quit my day job when the screen finally comes to life.  I survive the 15 minutes of commercials (wondering why my $7 admission didn’t exempt me from such fodder) and the music starts. 

Meryl and I are the same age, but I’m considering that she is freakin’ awesome playing a part that is twenty years too young for her and still pulling it off — jumping around the Greek inn, running along the dock, being a Dancing Queen.  The movie’s okay, but Meryl steals the show.  When she sings “The Winner Takes It All” to Pierce Brosnan on the steps of that gorgeous Greek island with the sunset in the background, pouring out her heart, I actually cry. 

The crying is why everything else happens. 

While the credits are rolling, I dab at my eyes with my buttery salty popcorn fingers.  The salt burns and I start to feel the sharp pain I get when something is under my contact.  For those who don’t wear contacts, it’s somewhere between having your cornea peeled off with a pair of tweezers and dripping hydrochloric acid into your pupil.  Either way, my eye is burning and I stumble to the nearest bathroom. 

Through my salt haze, I don’t notice it’s the employee bathroom.  Or that it’s “Closed for Maintenance”.  I rush to the sink, yank out my contact, gush water into my palm, and thank God that I live in a spot on the globe that has hot and cold running water. 

With my contact seated firmly back on my eyeball, I heave a sigh of relief and turn away from the mirror.  And stare at the small circle of half-naked men and women sitting yoga style atop what appears to my non-trained, salt-free eyes, to be a pile of explosive materials.  It’s not conclusive, but the wires, strange liquid tanks, digital timer (there’s always a timer!) and slightly acrid smell clue me in.  Like something you would see on TV or in a movie.  Except it would be somebody like Matt Damon or Angelina Jolie confronting the bomb, not fifty-eight-year-old me. 

“We are the Children of America”, a guy wearing what might double for a loincloth in a Tarzan movie, says to me, as they all join hands and stare at me.  “This room is closed for maintenance.”

“I had something in my eye…” I offer, checking out the digital readout.  It says “93”.  I wonder briefly if it’s minutes or seconds, until it flips to “92” and then “91”. 


“We are protesting the effect of America’s entertainment industry on the world’s morals,” Tarzan continues, shifting on his explosive perch enough for me to see more of his business than I care too at the moment. 

“By blowing up the theater?” I say, my eyes darting to the hand dryer, the soap dispenser, the mirror.  There are NO weapons in reach. 

“Well, actually, more like the whole block,” he smiles, a crooked, toothy grin, that tells me his parents’ didn’t believe in corrective dental surgery. 

I look again at the timer, which now reads “68”.  I have a little over a minute to act.  But what can I do?  My boss keeps sending jobs to India; my knees hurt when I get out of bed each morning, even when I take my glucosomine; my DVR deleted three episodes of Monk without asking me.  Maybe the American way isn’t worth saving, I allow the defeatist thought to float by. 

Only for a moment.

Because then I think of Abba singing WATERLOO; I think of my spitz-husky, Cooper, waiting at home for his supper; and I think of Meryl, at fifty-eight, racing through that Greek town singing DANCING QUEEN loud enough to blow a computer speaker.  Pride, anger, and indignation rise in equal quantities in my chest.

“Hey, Children of America,” I shout.  They all turn my way, still holding hands.  “Just because we’ve put out some dogs like “X-Files: I Want to Believe” is no reason to give up on American entertainment.  We also put out “Sophie’s Choice”, “The Sound of Music”, and “Nine to Five”, thank you very much!”

“I like “The Sound of Music”,” one of the girls to his right pipes up.

“Shut up,” he barks at her.  He turns his focus to me, breaks from the circle, and approaches.  He’s taller standing up, and muscular enough to make me rethink my position.  “So you believe American values should continue to pervert the global culture?” he asks, flexing his biceps.  The crooked front teeth have kiwi seeds stuck in them, I note. 

The readout is now “41”.

“Well,” I say, easing toward the first stall, “it depends on your definition of perversion.  For me, blowing up a movie theater ranks pretty high up there.” 

  He kicks out at my crotch but I anticipate him.  With visions of Meryl storming the Greek citadel, I dive sideways and scream “LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME!”

I reach into the stall and yank the predictably loose toilet seat from the top of the john.  It comes off cleanly in my hand, forming a large horse-shoe shaped weapon.  I’m good at horseshoes. 

Tarzan rushes me.

“TAKE YOUR CHANCE BUT BELIEVE ME!” I holler, swinging the hard-plastic seat at his skull.  The resounding crack brings him to a hard stop on the cold tile floor. 

“‘CAUSE IT’S TRUE!  I LOVE AMERICA!” I shout, whipping the horseshoe-shaped seat at the bomb’s digital timer (Did I mention I’m good at horseshoes?) I briefly see the number 22 blink and disappear, as a small cloud of smoke drifts lazily toward the flourescent lights above.

“I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO!” I finish the song, screaming at the Children of America.  They stare at me and blink.  The conscious ones, anyway.

Later, I love that MEET THE PRESS starts a blog about my patriotism; I love that OLDER AMERICAN features me in their “Fifty and Fit” anthology; I even love that Hollywood Boulevard dedicates a star to me — dubbing me “The Heart of American Entertainment”. 

But it’s the invite to a one-on-one evening with Meryl Streep in her own home –“Bring Cooper along!” she says, laughing that sweet, throaty laugh — that makes me feel truly heroic. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.



Currently   listening :
  Release date: 2001-07-02     

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 30 — DRUNK
Category: Life

Okay, I’m nineteen and they are changing the drinking laws tomorrow.  Today, I’m old enough to drink legally. Tomorrow, when the state’s fiscal year kicks in, my sip of beer will be a matter for the courts.  So today, I stock up.

I’m actually sipping vodka — Grey Goose Citron, which sounds like something I would like, because I like lemonade…but it doesn’t really taste like lemonade, it’s just bitter vodka like everything other alcohol.  I bought a full liter bottle (which set me back $30) but considering that it’s my last vodka for two years, when I become “street legal” once again, I decide that it’s worth it.

I’ve squeezed some sugar and lemon into my Grey Goose Citron, to make it seems more lemonade-y…since I’m really too young to be drinking such things, and it’s much too strong to taste good.  I only succeed in making it less bitter, but, as I’ve learned since I turned nineteen and began to drink legally, it gives me the pleasant buzz that I crave — the one that helps me forget that I’m different from everybody else.  And that I don’t know how to tell anybody that.  

I’m camping with my high school friends.  We’re at my parents’ cottage on the smallest lake in the my state — only thirty feet deep, only one mile long — but a lake, nonetheless.  My friends are making a campfire near the shore, of course carrying on about which girls from college they want to pork.  I have no such desires and, with the numbing distance of the alcohol, I’m considering telling Bob, my high school heart’s desire, that he is my high school heart’s desire.  Bob with his large, masculine hands that give me a backrub whenever we’re hanging out in his bedroom in front of the drum set.  Bob with the ruddy outdoorsman tan even in the middle of winter.  Bob with the brown eyes that threaten to swallow me whole every time he stares into my face and smiles.

All of which will probably shock them, but ‘what the hell’, I think, through my tipsy reasoning.

That’s when all actual hell breaks loose by the campfire.  I have stepped away behind a tree to do that thing that men do in the woods behind trees, when the guys started screaming.  I finish quickly and hurry back, to see them cornered in the cottage’s maintenance alcove by the largest black bear I’d ever seen.

We’d read all the warnings when we drove through town: BLACK BEARS SPOTTED IN VICINITY — SECURE ALL FOOD ITEMS. We’d even listened as the old farmer at the gas pump told us how he’d spotted two or three bears near his cow-barn the previous week.  “I gave ’em a blast from ol’ Sam,” he said, patting the shotgun that hung at the rear of his truck’s cab.  “That gave ’em somethin’ to think about besides tearin’ into my cattle.”

But we’d been to the cottage lots of times — in winter, with our cross-country skiis, in spring with our rubber raft, in summer with our cases of beer, and in fall, with our school sweatshirts and Yahtzee board — and the only invaders we’ve spotted have been flying ants.  So we pay little attention to the old farmer or the warning signs.  

But now we’re here and we’re drunk on this last day of drinking and a black bear has trapped my dearest friends — including Bob. 


I’m normally kind of shut down on rage — but Grey Goose Citron has empowered my expression.  A bear is threatening Bob.  The guy whose mental image keeps me from crying when my dad is stumbing up to bed after chewing me out.  I don’t need to know any more.

In a split-second, an episode from Scooby Doo runs through my head.  I was only five when I saw it, and I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but Shaggy and Scooby charmed some ferocious animal with classical music.  I consider I might do the same. 

“YAAAAHHHHHEEEE!” I scream (a very masculine, gutteral yaaaaahhhhhee — at least it seems that way to me) and I slap at the play button on the boom box. Unfortunately, it’s not classical music loaded in the player, it’s my PURE DISCO disk.  “I Will Survive”, by Gloria Gaynor, blasts into the night lake air.  The bear turns to look at the commotion. 

Something inside me snaps.  Maybe it’s seeing Bob backed flat against the cement blocks of the cottage maintenance area — maybe it’s the way the bear kind of reminds me of my dad and his belt when he’d had a couple of Tom Collins — or maybe it’s just the inspiration of great dance music mixed with great vodka.  Whatever the cause, I leap on top of the nearby picnic table and begin to taunt the wild animal. 


The bear looks at me and grunts.

“AND I LEARNED HOW TO GET ALONG!”  I shout into his face.


The bear abandons my friends and comes at me.

“OH NO, NOT I!” I scream at him.  Grabbing the half-empty Citron bottle, I shove it straight-forward into the bear’s open gullet.  The clear liguid glug-glugs down his throat as he swats a massive paw at my midriff.  I dive sideways, motioning to my friends to retreat. 

“I WILL SURVIVE!” I wail into the night, dancing and feinting back and forth for several minutes, avoiding his advances as I leap across the table, around the trees, down toward the dock, the bear lumbering along, swiping and growling, becoming more and more unsteady with each step, until he finally pitches sideways onto the ground.  Breathing heavily, he lies there wheezing, another Grey Goose Citron drunk.

Later, after the local veterinary clinic picks him up (he gives a grand burp when they lift him into the transport van), after the lake association interviews me for an article in the local paper, “Lakeside Letters”, after my other friends have returned to their parents’ houses,

Bob hangs behind at the cottage with me alone, rubbing my back, whispering over and over how grateful he is.


For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff...



Currently   listening :
  Pure Disco  
  By Various Artists
  Release date: 1996-10-08     

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 29 — WICKED
Current mood: wicked
Category: wicked Life

I’m twenty nine — which gets me lots of age jokes — and listening AGAIN to the Wicked soundtrack from the Tony Award-winning play.  I’ve listened to it about a hundred times since I saw the traveling show, and my friends are now threatening intervention if I don’t switch back to some of my regular music — like Sheena Easton or Pet Shop Boys.  I just nod and turn up the volume.

I’m heading down Park   Ave. on my lunch hour with my headphones on, so I’m kind of tuning out the people who are walking all around me.  Except the guys who have their shirts off, but that goes without saying.

It’s one of those excruciatingly humid summer days…when, if I was 17, I’d spend the day by my mom’s pool with a Stephen King book and a six-pack of Country-Time lemonade.  But I’m 29, so I’m here on Park Ave. with only enough time on my lunch hour to take a walk around the ‘hood, grab an orange smoothie from my favorite cafe, and dream about “Defying Gravity” like Elphaba.

That’s when the people all around me start grabbing their ears, falling to the ground, and tearing off their clothes.  Shooting across the sky, then hovering, a thin guy wearing a yellow/green full-body suit a la Freddie Mercury appears above us, standing on some round flying device (it looks like a big upsidedown frisbee) laughing at the crowd writhing in pain below him.  Noting that his suit is a little tighter around the crotch than would be decent in polite company, I recognize him as “SoundByte”, our state’s most notorious conservative criminal, who overpowers any citizens he perceives as “liberals” with an incapacitating electronic sonar device.  Gays are at the top of his list.

He traditionally knocks them out with his excruciating sonic signal, then steals their cash and their clothing.  He’d victimized nearly every section of our vastly-liberal community (with the exception of the nudist beach).  Citizens hate and fear him. 

Staring up at his sinister sneer, I realize that I must be immune to his weapon due to my KOSS sound-blocking ear-bud headphones — and the extra loud decibels that I use when I’m listening to Wicked.  That’s when he locks eyes with me.  I see his mouth drop open in surprise that I’m still standing — and still clothed.  He reaches down and turns up a dial on some device strapped to his waist.  A piercing electronic buzzing tries to seep into my ears.  I grab my Treo and turn the volume up three more notches, as “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” screams in my ears.  Better that than what this villain has planned for me. 

When he perceives that I’m still unharmed, his head begins to shake with the kind of crazy rage you only see in movies like Clockwork Orange or Pulp Fiction.   I know that I (an probably most of the now-naked citizens lying around on the nearby ground) am toast if I don’t do something.  

The upsidedown frisbee begins to spin and dip, bringing SoundByte down almost face to face with me.  He’s got a look in his eyes that reminds me of a kid on the playground in third grade who beat another kid with his fist until the knuckles were gushing blood. 

I think about panicking.  But since most of the liberal/lunch-hour/Park Ave. citizens today are mostly handsome and well-built young men, who are now naked all around me, I am absurdly comforted.  A surge of adrenaline flushes through me.  That’s when I get the idea.  It just might save my life, so I actually laugh out loud, which only makes the protruding veins on his neck pump and throb. 

“You are DEAD,” I read his lips as he pulls two pulsing discs from a pouch near his crotch.  I can only imagine what pain they will cause me.  I don’t intend to find out. 

“Al Gore really won the 2000 election!” I scream over the sound of the Broadway soundtrack in my ears and dive hard to the right — directly through the doorway of our local “green” store.  Rolling a perfect somersault, I land on my feet and run to the far corner of this store I visit often.  If they still have the “Space Chamber” set up, I know I have a chance.

SoundByte can’t fit his frisbee-flyer through the doorway, so he hops off and rushes in behind me.  It delays him for only a moment — but it’s enough. 

As he tears down the aisle with the pamphlets on solar panels and sod rooftops, I squirt gobs of natural bee honey — from the 5-gallon barrel next to the checkout —  onto the floor.  It’s sticky enough to have the desired effect. SoundByte screams (although I only see his mouth move, because Elphaba and Glinda are now belting out “I Have Been Changed For Good” in my ear-buds) and slides through the bee honey, then flips, then lands in the green-energy Space Chamber display.  It’s been set up to demonstrate how radiant energy can transverse space in the absence of air — AND SOUND.  In a second, I’ve slammed the chamber’s solid hatch closed.  Only then do I dare to turn off the music to my headphones.  Although I can’t hear him — for sound requires air to transmit — through the smoked glass in the center of the hatch, I sense SoundByte’s silent shrieks.  I see him gasp for breath as I use my Treo to dial 9-1-1. 

When I’m convinced the police are on their way, I restart my favorite Broadway soundtrack and, watching the veins in SoundByte’s neck turn a cool blue inside the airless chamber, sing out loud “No One Mourns The Wicked”. 

I’ll let him out before he suffers permanent damage.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Or just come BLOG with me at Jupiter’s Blog:


Currently listening :
  Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast)
  By Stephen Schwartz
  Release date: 2003-12-16     

Monday, June 23, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 28 — BROADWAY
Current mood: in a New York state of mind
Category: in a New York state of mind Life

So I’m thirty-four and heading down to NYC to see a Broadway show.  Maybe Mamma Mia.  Maybe Wicked.  I don’t actually have tickets — my plan is to get in the “will call” line of some hit show and look pitiful enough for someone to actually take pity and sell me a ticket. 

It’s pouring, so I consider that standing in any line will be painful.  I pray for a wide awning.

I’m driving instead of flying, so I pay my toll at the Lincoln Tunnel and begin the game of “Frogger” on the streets of New   York.  The traffic is fierce; it’s Thursday evening and all the bustle of “tomorrow is Friday so we have to get everything done today” chokes even the little side streets.  Especially with the rain, that seems even more thunderous between the skyscrapers.  

I cut from the Roosevelt freeway down 42nd Street (singing the song in my head) trying to get close enough to Times Square that I won’t get soaked walking up the Avenue.  The digital clock on my dashboard is reading 7:23, so I’m starting to stress about my chances of getting a ticket to ANY show.  Or even getting to the theater on time.  I consider bagging the whole thing and just heading back home when I accidentally clip a pedestrian with the very tiny deer whistle that sticks out an extra inch on my front bumper. 

He goes down, out of sight over the dashboard.  I hop out of the car.  “Are you okay?”  I gasp, trying not to mentally calculate the dollars in the lawsuit he’s going to take out against me, the Honda Corporation, and the manufacturer of the deer whistle.  I also regret that I never believed in umbrellas — but that’s a secondary concern at the moment. 

He looks startled, but not hurt.  “I think so,” he says, standing up.  His umbrella (which he obviously believes in) is a mangled stump underneath my right front tire.  That’s when I realize it’s none other than Matthew Broderick, star of “The Producers” and “War Games.” 

We both stare at his ruined umbrella as the rain continues.

“I gotta get uptown fast,” he shouts at me over the crack of thunder.  “I’ll never get a cab in this weather.” 

“My carsa su carsa,” I joke, hoping my friendly humor will reduce the size of his settlement.  We get in.

“I’m Greg,” I say, wondering if it’s too early in the trip to ask for his autograph.  I fiddle with the heat controls, trying to keep the windows from fogging up — which I’m SURE is the reason I accidentally strike the second pedestrian.  I hope out again, mortified. 

Lying in the street in front of my car, it’s none other than Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.”  “Are you okay?” I scream into the monsoon. 

“Just get me uptown,” she hops up and into my car.

My hands tremble as I introduce my two passengers and head north.  It’s probably the fact that I keep glancing in my rear-view mirror that I gently strike the third pedestrian. 

“Ahhh!” I shriek and throw the car into “Park”.  Before I can get the door all the way open, the guy pops up from the street and jumps into the back seat of my car.  It is none other than David Duchovny, my hero from “The X-Files.” 

“Uptown” he barks.

My mind is swimming like the torrent near the curbs.  I head uptown.  My three passengers chat amiably as I try to consider what to say to them — what polite thing do you say to your onscreen heroes in real life?  But I don’t get any words out before we pass 47th   Street.  “My stop!” Sarah yells.  I pull over and she slides a couple of tickets to a show my way.  “You’re a sweetheart,” she says, giving my cheek a peck and hopping out.

I drive north.  “Pull over!” Matthew yells and hops out, before I’m able to ask him about what it’s like to live with Sarah Jessica Parker.  He slaps a couple of tickets into my handshake.  “Come see the show sometime,” he says.

I continue driving up Broadway.  It’s my last chance to say something — anything! — to get my last passenger’s attention. 

“So do you keep in touch with Gillia–” I start to say.  His hand is already on the doorknob.

“My stop,” he grins at me and drops a couple of tickets on the front seat.  “Stay dry,” he says and steps away from my car.

I stay at the curb and kick myself for not even taking a digital picture of the three of them with my cell phone.  That’s when my car door opens for the fourth time that evening. 

“Can you give me a ride? I can’t get a cab in this weather!” says Christopher Meloni, staring hopefully into my face. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.



Currently listening :
  Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast)
  By Stephen Schwartz
  Release date: 2003-12-16     

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 27 — GEEK
Current mood: considering the needs of the many…
Category: considering the needs of the many… Life


Okay, I’m seventeen and working late at the used bookstore — the place with all the best Star Trek books by my fave comic book writers.  The kids at school call me a geek for doing it, but I just tune them out.  My own version of a modified universal translator. 

There’s only about 3 days left of school before summer break, so I am already feeling a little crazed, even before I had to work late.  It’s that summer-is-heating-up-and-all-the-guys-are-starting-to-go-shirtless kind of buzz in my head — and parts lower. 

I’m cataloging my favorite softcovers, the ones where Captain Picard makes the good speeches, Data locks out the Enterprise’s main computer, and Bev does some quick work in sickbay to save the day.  You get the picture. 

Just when I’m thinking that maybe I should move the episodes featuring Counselor Troi to a lower shelf, the window behind the counter explodes inward.  Pieces of glass shower the Sherlock Holmes and Stephen King shelves as I toppled off my three-step ladder.  Crashing hard on the Danielle Steel display, I ignore the searing pain and twist to look toward the counter area.  Two women with black clothes, black hats, and black crescents under their eyes (like football players) leap through the broken window frame. 

I stifle a scream — it’s Thelma and Lorraine, my city’s most notorious female cat burglar team!  They’re known on the street for stealing rare books; all of us on the used book circuit have read the flyer: “Do not approach! Consider this duo armed and dangerous. Call 911 immediately.”  Of course, there was that whole thing where people speculated whether they were lesbians or not — but I never really got involved with that. 

“We’ve got company,” Lorraine sneers, looking directly at me.  “Whattaya think, Thel?”

I scurry backwards toward the sci-fi section as Thelma approaches.  “I dunno, Lor,” she says in a throaty tone that lets me know she smokes at least a pack a day.  “He looks kinda flimsy,” she says, kicking out with a black sneaker at my crotch.  I throw myself sideways and her foot misses me entirely, landing instead on the rare Mister Spock cardboard cut-out our shop acquired last year.  The autographed cut-out.  Her blow takes off Mister Spocks cardboard hand, raised in Vulcan greeting.  

Now I’m known around the store for being a bit mousey — even if someone insults Levar Burton’s acting ability, or imitates William Shatner’s singing — but this is an entirely different matter.  This cut-out is signed by Leonard Nimoy himself.  I was the one who waited in line at the United Federation of Fans Convention for almost two hours to get it.  And now this unthinking bitch has ruined it in less than ten seconds.  

Something from deep within me erupts.  It’s my rage at the jocks on the playground who laughed when I wore my tricorder to school on Halloween.  It’s my rage at the girls who snapped the nacelles off my ninth-grade science fair exhibit: an independently assembled Enterprise model (with running lights and warp sound effects).  It’s my rage at the narrow-minded people who don’t want me and my boyfriend to think about a future where gay people can live in harmony with humanity — and the multiple races yet to be encountered.  And suddenly, without processing through it (like every other emotion in my life), my rage has found a focus. 

With a howl worth of a Klingon mating ritual, I leap off the floor at Thelma, cracking the ladder across her skull before she’s had a chance to hurl a smoke-breath curse in my direction. 

Lorraine pulls back behind a row of Nancy Drew books.  “What the fuck–” she yells as I spin to face her.  We stare at each other across the yellow spines for almost ten seconds.  Long enough for me to identify the cylindrical shape stuffed into her crotch.  Her trademark swiss blade; the flyer warned me about that as well.

It all happens at once: she reaches toward the buldge in her pants; I grab a hard-cover William Shatner novel (we’ve stacked them on the counter to try to get them to move); now I’m flinging it with frisbee-like precision; now it cracks her across the nose and blood showers the scene; now she’s down next to Thelma and I’m using duct tape to secure their arms behind their backs. 

Even after the police award me a medal for my bravery, even after America’s Most Wanted sets up the shooting schedule for my feature story in their “Apprehended” series,  it’s actually the call from Leonard Nimoy himself that I most treasure. 

“You know, back in the Sixties, people used to sometimes call Spock a geek,” he laughs over the line.  “But I never let it get me down.”

“I hear ya, Leonard,” I say, as a smile consumes the lower half of my face.      

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 26 — FURY

I’m sixteen and camping with my high school buddies in the forest down by my parent’s cottage.  My loyal spitz-husky, Cooper, has to stay home, otherwise the ground burrs and cottonwood fluff weave themselves permanently into his furry Eskimo coat.

I just got my permanent driver’s license, so this is our first excursion in a motor vehicle with just “the guys”.  Joe, Pani, and my best friend, Guy, all pile into my ’97 Plymouth Fury (at 216,000 miles, it cost me $1200 bucks of my Starbucks earnings…but the engine runs good.  And it’s got a great stereo.)

It’s not one of those camp sites with electricity and bathrooms — it’s parking the car on the loggers’ road and hiking for about a half hour through the leafy brush to set up tents.  Making jokes about the Blair Witch the whole way, we find a clearing and set up shop.

As the sun heads toward evening and dusk, Joe works on the fire pit while Guy prepares the chicken kabobs.  Pani scouts for firewood.  I use my camera phone (a Palm Treo 755p with a maroon skin) to take pictures and chronicle the event (getting more than my share of Guy’s muscular pecs — in real life, he’s just my best friend, but inside my mind, he’s a whole lot more…) That’s when the scene erupts: from both the right and left, four guys in prison uniforms break out of the forest and start punching us! Too late, I recall the warning we heard on the car’s radio: FOUR CONVICTS, IN JAIL FOR RUNNING A CHILD PORNOGRAPHY RING, BUST OUT OF JAIL IN AN UPSTATE TOWN.  THEY MAY BE ARMED AND CONSIDERED DESPERATE. 

“Mack, tie ’em up,” the tallest con barks at his buddy, a chubby white guy with a sinister sneer. 

“Mack” uses our tent ropes to bind all eight of our wrists together in one big, nasty knot. “Okay, Billy.” 

“Hey, these boys look pretty fresh,” a third con laughs, a harsh, gravelly sound, as he looks us over.  “Maybe we can use ’em in our next flick,” he spits out. “That is, if they got anything under the hood,” he says, kicking at Guy’s crotch. I hear my best friend, my secret crush, give a high-pitched wail, a sound that should never emit from a man’s throat, and the blood in my veins moves from a slow burn to a full-pitched boil. 

What the four porno kings don’t know is that I’ve studied “The Hardy Boys’ Detective Handbook”.  Studied it extensively.  What they don’t know is that I’ve rehearsed abduction scenarios in my head.  What they don’t suspect is that I’ve positioned my wrists so I can reach my Treo’s stylus and have used it to pick through the tent rope while they launch another kick at my sweet friend’s manhood.  What they can’t dream is that I’ve spent almost three years trying to bottle up the rage of being gay and wanting something I’m not sure I can have, and that my righteous, furious frustration at the Catholic Church’s edicts, at President Bush’s gay marriage policies, at the guys who hang around the school showers and snap their towels at unsuspecting butts and yell “FAG SWAT!” 

They can’t know any of this…but that’s too bad for them. 

Before the gravelly voiced con’s foot connects a second time with Guy’s package, I free myself and leap in one movement.  Giving a howl worthy of Tarzan, I bring the heel of my hiking boot down onto Gravel-Voice’s ankle.  I hear a satisfying ‘snap’ even before he starts screaming in pain.  Guy, Joe, and Pani all stare at me as I am everywhere at once: kicking, punching, delivering blows as I learned in the Handbook — maximizing the element of surprise at their disbelief that a single sixteen year-old boy can be this ferocious.  The chubby one is down; the third con is down; finally, it’s just me and the tall one, the leader. 

I stand in front of him, my legs slightly apart, my right foot slightly forward (the Handbook taught me it’s the most stable stance).  “So what’s it’s gonna be, BILLY-GOAT,” I goad him.  “You want a piece of me, too?”

“Oh, you’re gonna be my piece,” Billy growls, launching a full-frontal attack.  I’m ready for him; through my fury I mentally calculate his speed and weight.  As he lunges for me, I grab a low-hanging branch from the forest above us.  He can’t stop; I swing easily over his head as he grabs at empty air.  My swing arcs backwards.  I connect my hiking boot with the back of Billy’s head and kick with all the might of oppressed homosexuality. 

He goes down.

Afterwards, as Joe, Pani, and Guy use the tent ropes to security tie Billy, Gravel-Voice, Chubby, and the last con, I use my Treo to call 911 (I’m able to get a signal on “Roaming”.) 

As Joe and Pani guard the bad guys, as we wait for the cops to arrive (with the $10,000 reward money), I take a seat next to Guy on a fallen log just out of earshot of the others.  Guy looks over at me, tears just beginning to form in the edges of his eyes.  “Greg, I was gonna tell you this tonight in the tent, but after all this, I want to tell you now.  Just in case…in case something happens.” 

“What is is?” I ask my dearest friend, looking deep into his cola-brown eyes.

“I love you,” he whispers, looking at me, half smiling, half crying.  

For FUN, I put my stuff at

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at

I invite you to visit my stuff.