Posts Tagged ‘The NERVOUS STOMACH Series’

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 25 — FORTY-TWO
Current mood: Alien
Category: Alien Life

Okay, I turned forty-two this week which, if I were twenty-one, would only be half as much fun.  But I am forty-two, so I head out to have a night on the town.  Cooper, my furry spitz-husky, trails behind as he is known to do, sniffing at the bushes and bags of grass clippings at the curb. 

The lilacs are in full bloom — it’s been just cold enough out that they’ve stayed in bloom for over a week.  Which is great, ’cause they are still around for my birthday, which seemed questionable seven days ago. 

I wander toward the East End — my town’s collegy hot spot.  While I walk, I talk to Cooper about the Web site I want to put up with famous quotes of things that I made up, things like “Gay men are like teenagers with money” and “Sleeping is like roasting on a spit — you just turn over and over until you are good and done.” 

But I only get halfway through my idea when we are stopped in the middle of the planetarium parking lot.  Something is flashing at the top of the dome on the planetarium — the place where every first-grader in my city goes to learn about the stars and see “Little Green Arrow” point out the constellations. 

Tonight, it’s not Little Green Arrow, it’s disco-dancing aliens.  Not figuratively, literally. There are six or seven little green men dancing around on the top of the planetarium dome.  They’re wearing high heels, I note without thinking.  In the background, I hear Irene Cara’s “Flashdance, What a Feeling” booming.

“What the f?” I say to Cooper, curbing my language in front of my puppy-dog.  He begins to bark furiously. 

The six (or seven) little green men, who I now realize are NOT green, they are more like a brownish-beige, all stop dancing and stare at me.  Too late, I recognize that they are not here to celebrate, they are actually using their disco ritual to poke miniscule holes in the roof of the planetarium.  It’s an insidious plot to confuse all of the first graders of my town.  By poking holes in the planetarium’s roof, the stars will appear distorted and malformed for all of the subsequent tours.  Of course, this misinformation to my city’s youth will give these aliens an edge up when they try to dominate earth in the years to come.

With a tremendous cry, I rush at the curved roof of the planetarium, preparing to save my city from this ominous threat.  Cooper, sensing my forty-two year old physical limitations, rushes ahead and knocks various barriers out of my running path — a traffic cone, a discarded banana peel, a crumpled map of the Andromeda Galaxy.  In one daring leap, I clear the grassy knoll at the edge of the parking lot and scramble up the outside of the planitarium’s shell.

The seven (or six) aliens are prepared for my frontal assault — they pull three hefty laser-like guns from beneath their web-like clothing and take aim.  “Cooper, now!” I yell, managing, even with my forty-two year old knees, a quick dive to the right, with a duck and roll.  Cooper, at my command, bites cleanly through the main power cable feeding the entire campus.  Darkness descends like a blanket as laser blasts shoot wildly through the night.

It’s not clear to me later just how I managed to get the six (there were six, actually, not seven — I counted when I shoved them through the portal of their tiny pod-ship) aliens subdued.  It had something to do with their laser shots giving away their location, their natural aversion to pre-1980 disco music (I blasted “Dancing Queen” by Abba from my Palm Treo — it brought them to their knees) and Cooper’s enthusiastic barking, which appeared to disrupt their mental processes (but I’ll cut ’em some slack on that one — Cooper’s continued barking can interrupt MY mental processes if left unchecked). 

Regardless of the exact details, within the hour, all six of them were rocketing back past the outer rings of Saturn, cursing the day they’d ever visited Earth. 

After the planetarium society repaired their roof, after the mayor and state’s democratic senator congratulated both of us (the republican senator refused to attend, saying encouraging such aggressive tactics on public property only led to higher taxes and larger government) I turn to Coop.  “Let’s go get some birthday ice cream, Boy” I say, heading for the blizzard stand on Park   Ave.  “After all, we’re not getting any younger!”

His tail wags in enthusiastic agreement.

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


Currently listening :
  ABBA – Gold:   Greatest Hits
  Release date: 1993-09-21     

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 24 — SINK HOLE 

Current mood: Loving that Cooper!

Category: Loving that Cooper! Life



I’m fifty-three and gardening.  We’ve hit a record high today (eighty-six degrees) so, even though it’s April, I’m wearing shorts.  My knees dig into the warm earth and it feels fine to be alive.  My tough-acting, tender-hearted husky, Cooper, sniffs around the early season tulips nearby. 


I just have a small city garden — nothing like the big patch out behind the barn I had as a kid.  But I still like planting my own tomatoes and zucchini and, if I can keep the squirrels out, strawberries. 


I’m just turning the soil with my trowel when a sound like what I imagine an avalanche must sound like engulfs me.  I vaguely hear furious barking as I, my trowel, my six-inch Beefsteaks, and Cooper get sucked into the ground.  Not just falling — there’s actually a sucking sound to the swirl of dirt around us.  Too late, I realize we have fallen prey to my city’s most recent scourge: subterranean sink holes.  They’ve been cropping up all over in the wake of this unnaturally warm spring.


We juggled back and forth violently for a few seconds, going down and down, and it’s dark, and now colder, and I’m coughing.  Then we kind of mush-more-than-hit into what must be the bottom of a sink hole — in this case, a mucky mixture of dirt, groundwater, and last year’s tomato vines.


As one might imagine might happen in a sink hole, I begin to sink. 


“Cooper!” I shout, as my knees slowly disappear into the muck. There’s enough light coming down from the sunny, eighty-six-degree day above that I can make out shapes and, as the dirt-dust settles, bones.  Dead people’s bones.  I see pelvises, skulls, and several arms and legs.  They are not white and polished like you’d see on TV — they are spotted and creepy.  The ground is choked with them as far as I can see.


“Cooper!” I am screaming now. 


My black-and-white husky pops into view across what I’ve decided must be some underground burial cavern.  I see that the ground is mucky under him, too, but with his four short legs, he’s having better luck doing a half-scramble, half-doggie paddle.  Somehow, he’s staying on top of the sludge.


My knees are completely gone, and the ground is now threatening to engulf more sensitive areas.  Areas that men prefer not to have threatened.


I try to throw my body sideways (I read somewhere that you have a better chance in quicksand if you are horizontal) but I’m only partly successful.  Now my right hip and elbow are disappearing. 


Cooper reaches my side, assesses the situation, and barks in rapid, spit-fire fashion.  If we were in the house, I’d think he wanted a snackie.  But here, at the bottom of a creepy graveyard/sink hole, I’m having trouble reading him.   


He gives up on me and makes his way to the nearest pile of bones — somebody’s rib cage.  Clamping it in his jaws, he drag-swims it to my side. I grab at the mass of bone and cinch my arms around them. 


My sinking slows.  Now I get what Cooper’s trying to tell me.


“The bones aren’t sinking!  Fetch, Boy, get the bones, get me more bones!” 


I sense Cooper’s desire to roll his eyes at my command — to let me know that he’s way ahead of me.  He continues the difficult work of negotiating the cavern bottom, dragging bone after bone to my side.  The pile grows exponentially as I help out — tearing my shirt into strips and using them to lash the bones together, forming a makeshift lattice. Together, after much excruciating work on both our parts, Cooper and I are able to make a tall enough bone pile to scramble up to freedom.


Later, after we lay gasping in the warm sunlight for a good long time, but before I take a shower and call the city’s sink hole hotline, I mix some of Cooper’s most favorite snacks in his food bowl and invite him to partake. 


He barks appreciatively.      


    For FUN, I put my stuff at

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I’m nineteen and wondering if I spelled nineteen right.  My mom passed away last month, so I’m kind of riding as low as a guy at nineteen can ride.  But it was peaceful and special and I was there with her at the end, so the lowness feels profound and high somehow.  Those are the thoughts on the first day I’ve ever had to file taxes in my life. 

I fill out the EZ form — my job at the publishing house (okay, disbursement clerk isn’t exactly being an author, but it’s one step closer to my dream) only earned me $17,000, but it’s enough to put me in the rat race. 

I seal the form and head to the post office.  I’m not quite sure why I waited for the last day — but with the mom situation, I cut myself the appropriate slack.

There’s a line at the post office — the BIG post office downtown, the one where the clerks wear ties and look kind of like Alec Baldwin — so I stand and wait. That’s when the gunman shouts.

“ALLRIGHT, ALL YOU M*&THR-F*$#ERS, DIE FOR YOUR SINS OF PROCRASTINATION!” he screams and points something black, metal, and slender at us. 

I don’t scream like all the other people in line.  I don’t hit the cool linoleum floor like they do, either.  I don’t even tremble. 

Something about the way he yells “M*&THR-F*$#ERS” pushes just the right button inside me.  I was there with my mom; she is gone; he yells M*&THR-F*$#ERS.  It offends me to the core.

I drop my 1040EZ mailing envelope and hop onto the post office counter.  The one that has forms like “change of mailing address” in little cubby holes.  The gunman looks my way. 

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s not polite to curse in public?” I shout, whipping a stack of international mailing envelopes at him.  They shower the air and he shouts, waving the gun in a circular motion.  It’s like I feel, more than see, his finger tightening on the trigger. 

I don’t think, I just do.  My do includes a half-flip, half-Buffy-kick, as I land my nineteen-year-old bulk right on top of him.  He’s down before anybody can say the words “additional postage.”

Later, after the crowd has lifted me to their shoulders in salute, after CNN has compared me to Sylvester Stallone and Steven Segal, after I’ve put up a tribute page to my mom at, one of the Alec Baldwin clerks calls me at home. 

“Somebody found your 1040EZ form on the floor of the post office.  I went ahead and post-marked it for April 15.  I hope that was okay with you.”

“That’s okay,” I smile through the phone.

“Maybe we could get together for dinner sometime and I could share with you some of the benefits of filing your taxes early,” he continues.

I’m almost sure he can see my grin through the line.  “I look forward to it,” I reply.

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

Monday, March 03, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 22 — SUPER

I’m twenty-two (twice as fun as eleven) and sipping my first martini.  I always thought they would be skanky, like something Darrin Stevens would serve Larry Tate from that crappy little wet bar they had next to the stairs.  But, to my overwhelming surprise, martinis made from vodka and fruit juice with a little plastic body of an elephant hanging from his trunk on the edge of my curvy glass are not only fun — they are tasty.  

I check out the crowd at this martini bar — The Vodka Volcano it’s called, because of the large, gas-fed fireplace in the center of the room — which recently opened so close to my apartment I can walk (or stumble, depending on how many of these overly expensive, non-skanky drinks I can afford) home.  Not only are the blazing fireplace and the martini warming my world (it’s about twelve degrees outside), but so is the guy in the corner seat, near the bowl of salty goldfish crackers.  I check out his Eighties hair and his semi-sad, just-needs-a-hug appeal and consider introducing myself.  

That’s when the bottles behind the bar begin to launch themselves at us. 

I’m thinking it’s an earthquake, but we don’t have them here on the East Coast.  Instead of debating the possibility, I dive under the bench where I’ve been sitting.  Incidentally, right next to Eighties-Hair Guy. 

The bottles explode against the far wall, spraying alcohol in every direction.  Over the screams from the bar patrons, I hear a low, evil chuckling.  

It’s not an earthquake.  It’s our city’s most notorious supercriminal, GlassArt, one of those really obnoxious villains who makes humorous quips while they chop up doggies or pulverize little old ladies.  He’s got all the powers a supercriminal needs: the ability to control anything made of glass.  I’m grateful I wore my thin-plastic contacts instead of my Coke-bottle lenses.

“So who wants to be part of the martini special tonight?” GlassArt laughs, pointing toward the dessert display case.  It shatters without hesitation, embedding chunks of clear death into the Chocolate Mousse, the Lemon-Swirl Cake, and the Raspberry Truffle. 

I’ve read about his dastardly pursuits, the stories of senseless violence toward gay men and women, small animals, and cub scouts.  But to witness this absolute destruction of sweet, sweet desserts caused something in my head to audibly snap. 

“What was that?” Eighties-Hair squeaks out.

“It’s the sound of ENOUGH,” I spit out, standing from beneath the bench.  I face the villainous creep, rage emanating from my pores like lime juice from a lime press.

“Hey, GlassFart, why don’t you pick on somebody your own size?  Except I don’t know if we have anybody around here who qualifies,” I smirk, waving my pinky in front of my face. 

The air in the room changes; it’s something everybody — the lady bartender, the six-odd couples in the dining area, and the Eighties-hair Guy — feels.  Almost like the electricity before a lightning bolt. 

“Say your last prayer, queer boy,” the supervillain rasps, as he slowly raises both of his arms. 

That’s when I laugh.  A quick, bold sound. “Do you know that glass turns to liquid at approximately 2400 degrees Fareheit?” I yell and leap at the same time, landing both feet in the center of his chest, driving him backwards into the volcano fireplace.  I slam the gas feed value up to the highest setting marked “Danger, May Melt Glass.” 

As GlassArt screams, I grab a bottle of Absolut and sprinkle it into the inferno.  It makes a pretty blue flame. 

Later, after the restaurant patrons give me a standing ovations, after the City Newspaper takes my picture next to the fireplace (holding the empty bottle of Absolut), after our city’s ineffective superhero, ButterCup, shakes my hand and whispers in my ear ‘You’ve saved a lot of lives tonight, Greg,’ I get ready to head home to my apartment. 

That’s when the Eighties-Hair Guy stops in front of me.  “Hey, man, that was pretty brave.  Can I buy you a martini?” 

Of course I agree.  In just a short time, more than the soothing vodka we’re soon sipping, more than the reactivated volcano fireplace, it’s his toothy smile that warms my heart.

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


Currently   listening :
  Mary Poppins (2005   Original London Cast)
  By Richard M. Sherman
  Release date: 13 September, 2005     

Monday, March 03, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 21 — FLOOD
Current mood: loving the warm weather

I’m thirty and home from work early because of the gorgeous weather outside — sixty-four degrees.  My manager let us go at three, something she normally would not do unless there was a fire in the building or Ed McMahon showed up to give her a million dollars.  But we haven’t seen the sun for about three months in our lake-side town, so even she is mesmerized by its shine. 

I crack open a beer and invite Cooper, my fluffy Eskimo dog out onto the back patio.   I pop on my headset, we drink in the rays, and all is well with the world.  Until a text appears on my Treo screen: Flood Warning.  Melting snow floods lake’s banks.  Emergency evacuation.  And a list of just three streets in peril.  Mine is one of them.   

Cooper and I race down the driveway, but we’re too late.  A wall of water comes at us from the north.  Fortunately, all of my neighbors are still at work.

“Cooper,” I scream as the frigid wave bears down.  It’s taller than my SUV, taller than the balcony on my second-story, taller than the new roof I had installed last December (by a hunky crew of twenty-somethings from the local tool exchange.)  The only structure on my street that the wave does not appear to dwarf is the historic oak on the corner of (ironically) Elm Street and Miller Ave. 

The tree grows out of Miller’s Mound — some guy named Miller planted it back in the 1800s.  Something about the soil agreed with it; it grew huge.  Big enough to be  featured on the Sienna Club’s Web site and even a PBS NOVA special.  Today, I don’t care about its fame, I care about its height.

Grabbing Cooper by his pudgy belly (he’s been munching and sleeping quite a bit this winter, not unlike me) I sprint down the street.  I can feel the humidity of the spray on the back of my neck.  Reaching the tree, I calculate that I have about twelve seconds before the water pulverizes both of us.

Next to Miller’s Mound is Miller’s Park, where they’ve used public funds to build one of those funky kids’ playgrounds.  The kind with curvy tunnels, artsy benches, and a huge bungee-jumping court.  Balancing Cooper under my left arm, I grab one of the bungees and leap.   

As the water descends, we ascend, swinging a lazy, powerful arc to the top of Miller’s Oak.  I grab for one of the highest branches and cling.

After the death toll is miraculously tallied at zero, after the houses on my street dry out, after Oprah features me, Cooper, and Miller’s great-great grand-daughter on her show, Cooper and I head back to my patio for a beer, headphones, and a flood of much-desired sunshine. 


Currently   listening :
  Moon Over the   Freeway
  By The Ditty Bops
  Release date: By 23 May, 2006     

Friday, February 29, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 20 — GOOD BOOKS
Current mood: Somewhere between Bayport and Buckland
Category: Somewhere between Bayport and Buckland Life

I’m twenty-four and supposed to be doing something “I never did before” because it’s Leap Day.  This day that people come on the news and say dorky things like ‘they’re only seventeen years old — even though they have gray hair and are retired.’  All I really want to do is stay home and read a good book.  Maybe a detective story; maybe a fantasy.      

BUT, in the spirit of leaping, I take a jog — not on the regular route by the museum with the duck pond.  Instead, to do something “different”, I head down toward the tools factory with the cigarrette butts in the bushes. 

I’m just about to turn around and head back to the museum (and the duck pond) when I notice that a small shed behind the factory has a lit sign next to the door.  I go closer.  “Speak, Friend, and Enter,” the sign reads.  Since I’ve been reading my Lord of the Rings this winter, I decide to go for it.  After all, it is Leap Day. 

“Friend,” I say out loud and reach for the door knob. That’s when three guys leap out of the dark and overwhelm me. 

“What a geek,” one of them laughs as they tie my hands behind my back.  “I told you that Lord of the Rings crap would reel them in.”

Too late, I recognize them as “The Datong Dudes,” a nortorious trio who kidnaps nerdy, intelligent gay men in my city and forces them into male prostitution overseas.  But I quickly gather my wits. 

I remember my training from The Hardy Boys Detective Manual (my favorite book when I was thirteen) and make sure to flex ever muscle while they cinch my bonds.  I study their mannerisms, looking for weakness.  

“Put ‘im in the truck,” the big one (the leader, my Hardy training tells me.)  The other two throw me into the back of a moving van.  It’s pitch black, but I feel other bodies around me.  The door slides shut; a lock clicks. 

“How many of you are there?” I ask into the blackness. 

“Eight,” a voice near me whispers.  “But you make nine.  Just like the Fellowship of the Ring.” 

I roll my eyes, even though nobody can see.  “Hang tight, guys.  I think I can get my hands free.”  No one speaks as I force my body to go limp.  The ropes fall off.

“Hey, that worked pretty well,” I think to myself.  I pull out my Swiss army knife (I always keep one in my pants, for any emergency) and free my fellow prisioners. 

“What do we do now?” one asks. 

“It’s darker than the Mines of Moria in here,” another mutters.  

I take control.  “Okay, here’s the plan.  By law, these vans have to have an air vent near the cab exchange.  We locate it, escape, and turn the tables on the The Dudes.  There’s nine of us, and only three of them.”

I find the air vent and pull back the mesh.  One by one, we climb through.  Our captors are on the other side of the van, talking. 

“I think we should get a few more.  This load of geeks won’t bring us more than a hundred grand,” the leader says. 

Before either of his companions replies, I give the signal.  “‘By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair!” on of my companions yells. 

“Just take them down,” I say. 

After the police commend us for our brave efforts against these nefarious crooks, after the DA successfully convicts all three, after we’re featured on a Comedy Channel special titled “The Nine Gay Nerds”, I go back to my apartment and crack open my Hardy Boy Detective Manual.

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



Currently   listening :
  Lord of the Rings   Cast Recording
  By Original London Cast
  Release date: 05 February, 2008     

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 19 – THE EXORCIST

I’m fifteen and spend the evening writing in my journal.  I used to call it a diary, but now that I’m trying to be cool like the other guys at my all-boy Catholic high school, it’s a journal. 

I got a 78 on my Geometry test today, but I don’t really care, because Tom, the tall star of the basketball team sits next to me in Geometry.  Sometimes he puts his massive hand on the back of my neck while he’s talking to me — and my insides melt.  That’s the kind of stuff I put in my journal, which pretty much feeds my status of non-cool. 

I go downstairs to watch some tube; everybody else is in bed.  We don’t have cable and the channel I’m getting is from the next city over, so the screen is full of snow, but The Exorcist is on, so I watch.  I’m particulary psyched, ’cause my high school English teacher (a priest), is actually one of the priests in the movie.  Another thing for my journal.

We get to the part where the girl’s bed is lifting up into the air and slamming onto the floor, and I’m sufficiently creeped out because it’s late at night in our creepy farmhouse way out in the country, where anybody could hide out in the woods after committing an axe murder or something, where they could be looking in the pitch-black windows at me watching The Exorcist, where they could be just about to bust the back door in and slice me into little chunks. 

That’s what I’m thinking about when  the couch, my mom’s rocker,  the coffee table, and the family dog start going up and down in the room at the same rhythm as the onscreen furniture. 

I scream, a girly, embarrassing scream that would also keep me off the cool list at school, and try to figure out what to do.  The dog barks; he’s hanging in mid-air with his legs and tail dangling. 

I start hearing a low cursing whisper coming from the corners of the room when I realize this is for real — it’s sink or swim.  I’m an altar boy, so I have some idea how to handle such situations.  I leap from the couch and, with a half-flip that might actually earn me some cool points, land near the wall with the crucifix.  I grab it and wave it around, yelling some Latin prayers I had to learn to pass my altar boy test.

The furniture begins to vibrate; the dog looks like he’s going to throw up. 

The girl’s head on TV is spinning now — when it stops, she is looking right at me, which freaks me out more than the furniture.  With a judo kick worthy of Emma Peel, I smash out the front of the TV screen, glass flying everywhere.  As added incentive, I stick the crucifix into the smoking guts and move it around a little.  The couch, Mom’s rocker, the coffee table, and the canine all slam to the floor. 

Even though the fire department (with the beefy Saturday night truck crew who I secretly wish would linger) determine that my parents’ house is not in danger of burning down and that the dog hasn’t broken any bones, even though the local paper features a picture of me next to my high school teacher/priest/actor with a caption “Altar Boy Strikes Back”, even though the cool kids invite me to eat lunch with them in the cafeteria, it’s Tom’s massive hand on the back of my neck in Geometry while I tell him the whole story that sets my heart to racing. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 18 – PLUMBER

I’m forty-one and late for work.  It’s freezing out this a.m.; last night the weatherman (the cute one with the dimples) said we might hit negative numbers.

I’m just over bronchitis, so I’m still dragging, which I’ve been doing for a month now.  Even though I’m late, I linger in the hot shower, the favorite part of every day.  The warm, steamy water cascading over me — until it stops abruptly, with a healthy groan from the maintenance closet. 

I try to wipe shampoo off my face and press the buttons on my cell phone at the same time.  The muscular plumber arrives and assesses the situation.  I assess him. 

“Looks like your supply pipe froze,” he says, tapping on the hot water heater.  “We’ve had a dozen calls so far this morning.  I’ve been up since 3 a.m.” 

We go to the basement to find the “supply pipe.”  He hooks up a hairdryer to rectify the matter, then prepares to leave.  “You should be all right in a couple of hours,” he says.  I open the back door, regretting that my pipes weren’t in need of more maintenance, because he’s really hunky.  He steps through the back door and shakes my hand.

I see it before he does: an icicle the size of Jaws rocketing toward us from above. I’m in motion before I can cry out: I tackle him around the waist and we both tumble into the holly bush.  The icicle explodes on the white-marble patio, spraying frigid chunks in every direction.  The impact splits the marble slab where we had been standing.

We get out of the holly; we’re pretty sincerely scratched up — not quite enough to go to the hospital, but enought to go back inside, dab each other’s bodies with iodine, dress in robes (we were scratched EVERYWHERE), take some hot cocoa (with marshmallows) by the fireplace, and wait for the water to thaw so we can take a much-desired shower.

For FUN, I put my stuff at

For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at

I invite you to visit my stuff.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 17 – EDITS
Current mood: Cold!
Category: Cold! Life

I’m fifty-six and really regretting that I didn’t sign up for the early retirement my manager offered last year.  In the July sunshine, it seemed like a crappy deal, with 30% of my salary for the rest of my life and no health-care benefits.  But here on a freezing, pitch-black-at-7-a.m., Upstate New York winter morning, I’m rethinking my decision. 

I should be throwing back the covers, working the arthritis out of my knees, heading to the shower, then heading to work — but it’s warm in my bed under the down comforter my sister gave me at Christmas.  I stay.

I hear the snow plow scraping against the bricks in the neighbor’s driveway and the creaking of my worn-out roof overhead.  The weather man (the really cute one with the crinkly dimples) predicted possibly two feet of snow overnight; the continued scraping and the overloud creaking confirms that this prediction may have been accurate. 

My fluffy Eskimo dog, a Spitz-Husky named Cooper, bounds toward the bed, coaxing me to get up.  I resist, although I accept his enthusiastic licking of my face.

The scene explodes when the creaking above us becomes a groan, a screech, then a terrific ripping sound.  Ceiling tiles, support beams, and bitterly-cold snow race to see who they can wipe out first, me or Cooper.  

My reaction is equally explosive.  I flip sideways, pitching the comforter over Cooper as we both hit the floor.  I’m pleased that I lost at least three of the seven pounds I gained over the holidays, because I’m able to fit both myself and my dog under the solid oak frame of this bed I inherited from my Aunt Margey, the aunt who used to watch The Incredible Hulk and eat Mexican sundaes with me on Friday nights.  The bed, from a different, more solid generation of furniture, might have withstood the beating of the collapsing roof on its own.  But today, it’s aided by several supporting stacks of paper — old versions of my unpublished memoir — which I shoved underneath my bed in a grand preservation effort.  

I could have thrown those old copies away, with their too-long chapters, with their red-inked pages full of crossouts and rewrites.  But something nostalgic and overly compulsive in me clings to each edit, as though each were a precious piece in an unfinished puzzle.  

Later, after the rescue crew pulls us out (Cooper smothering each of their faces with licky enthusiasm), after the AP picks up the local paper’s article “One Writer’s Edits Save Two Lives”, after my rising-in-fame memoir (with a picture of me and Cooper on the book flap) creeps closer to the bestseller list, I have the supreme satisfaction of calling my manager and tendering my two-week notice. 

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



Currently   listening :
  Avenue Q (2003   Original Broadway Cast)
  By Jeff Marx
  Release date: 07 October, 2003     

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 16 – TV NIGHT
Current mood: In the twilight
Category: In the twilight Life

Okay, I’m thirty-six and vegging out in front of the big screen.  Not the regular big screen, the freakin’ awesome nine-foot-by-nine-foot projection I rigged up on the third floor.  Cooper is with me.  He likes the commercials where dogs bark — he tips his head and stares at the screen.  Tonight, we’re watching the Twilight Zone marathon on SciFi.  It’s the one where everybody’s afraid of the little boy in town.  The one with all the strange powers. 

When the little boy makes a guy disappear, Cooper begins to bark furiously at the big screen.  The boy looks directly into the camera.  Directly at Cooper and me.  “Shut up” he says.  Cooper stops barking immediately.

I should be frightened, but I’m mad.  “He wasn’t doing anything wrong!” I yell at the screen. 

The boy looks at me now.  “Drop dead,” he says, and a bolt flashes out of the nine-by-nine screen, right at my armchair.  I dive for the floor as the room explodes in a blue crackle that smells like burning hair. 

“Cooper, down!” I yell, giving him the raised arm signal the obedience trainer taught us.  Cooper hugs the floor. The little boy seems focused on us now.  He takes a deep breath, then points.  His arm comes out of the screen, right into our room. He cocks his thumb like a gun and gestures at my beloved doggie. 

“Bang bang” he starts to say, but now I’m not mad, I’m furious.  My dive from the armchair rolls around toward the screen.  I kick with my feet, like Keanu Reeves.  The kid’s arm goes down, as bullets pummel the carpet.  I reach and grab the arm, and give one, firm yank.  The kid falls out of the TV screen and onto my floor.  I quickly cover his mouth with one hand and hold his arms with the other. 

“I bet your parents don’t believe in spanking,” I say, as he struggles in vain. 

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