Monthly Archives: March 2015

Foibles: Not a Vampire

For this Foibles Monday, I divulge a weirdness that will keep you up at night.

No, wait  . . .  It’ll keep me up at night, not you. My bad. Go back to sleep. I’ll tell you how it ends.

For those still awake, it goes something like this . . .

I am Not a Vampire

For as long as I can remember I’ve never wanted to sleep at night. It’s not that I couldn’t . . . as soon as I lay my head to my pillow, I’m gone. For the next seven hours, nothing can wake me. A brass band could be tuning up next to my bed without a complaint from me.

But getting my head on that pillow never seems to occur to me until the sun pokes its little beak above the horizon, only to facepaw when it catches me still awake.

Perhaps I was born with faulty wiring, my circadian rhythms permanently skewed 12 hours out of sync from all you “normal” people. More than once a friend has noticed my sleep patterns and wondered with trepidation whether I slept in a coffin during the day. I’ve thought about the bat thing and how awesome it would be to fly around wherever I wanted. If only I didn’t faint at the sight of blood. ~shudder~

Nope, that’s not it.

No, for me the wavelength of my mind seems to clear during the wee hours of the night, when most everyone else is sleeping. All the noise dies down, like the traffic outside my window, and I can hear my own thoughts. I’m never so awake as I am the hours leading to dawn.

My entire life has been this way. I don’t know if my parents were ever aware of it. If they were, they must have thrown up their hands at my assumed insomnia (though sleeping wasn’t really a problem for me, as I mentioned). But since I kept my awakedness to myself, without stirring up my siblings, then I guess it was alright.

Unique WallpaperWhen I was young, I remember many nights sitting in my window, watching how different the city moved in the dark, listening to the strange sounds on the radio. AM stations propagating in from distant cities as they bounced off the ionosphere with the sun charging it beyond the horizon. On weekends I would spend the wee hours listening to the Dr. Demento Show . . . which might shed light on my odd sense of humor. By the time I was in high school I’d replaced the AM radio with a shortwave set I’d built from a kit I got for Christmas, listening to the BBC World Service or Radio Australia. Once I’d found out about Ham Radio, the die was set: I studied for a license and spent the tiny hours tapping out Morse code to New Zealand or Equador or Czechoslovakia.

Again my parents put up with this . . . perhaps this new worldliness–or was it geekiness–was a relief from all the other weird things that must have been confusing them about me. My little attic room looked like the cockpit of an airplane, an entire wall covered in radio gear and other gizmos I’d wired up myself from spare parts I collected by the pound.

Sadly the radio thing faded away, not long after I got out on my own. Morse code became passe, then disappeared from the hobby altogether, though I can still dit-dah with ease today. The Internet took away the rest of the challenge soon after: It was just easier to surf and email.

Meanwhile, the sleep thing has continued to follow me everywhere. To the point I wonder if my neighbors are keeping themselves well stocked in garlic and crosses. These days I’m up in the wee hours doing silly things like homework, or web surfing, or gaming, or . . .  oh, apparently blogging now. Anything to occupy those wakeful hours til dawn. Even if I do wish I spent more time with the “normal” people in the daylight . . .

But, lo . . . I think I’ve found a cure!

I’ve noticed in my life that it only takes a kiss and the feeling of arms around me at night . . . and suddenly my circadian rhythms wrench themselves back around, perfectly matching my partner’s. With but a touch, I am sleeping like a “normal” human being. Perhaps this was my thing all along: on some level I just don’t want to sleep without love. When I find myself alone, I still blog to all hours of the night (it’s 3:45 AM as I write this). But just a pair of arms and lips and it all changes.

Having a girlfriend again has reintroduced me to the beauty of an early morning dew, the cool freshness of a new day, long productive days shared with “normal” people, doing “normal” things at “normal” times of day.

But the nights still hold a special place in my heart, when I fall happily asleep to a kiss, knowing another will be waiting for me when I awake.

Hmmm, I think I see the sky starting to glow. ~yawn~ . . . time for bed.


Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Blog, Memoir


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My Third Grade Home Room Teacher . . . and a Peach

I don’t think I’ve earned my donut yet for memoir this week . . . so here’s a tidbit from my ancient past, when I was only this tall. It’s about one of my writing firsts: reading for an audience.

The story goes something like this:

Nine years old and I was seriously crushing on my third grade home room teacher. I wish I could remember her name. What can I say, hopeless romantics start practicing early. The fact that skirts were so short then, and I was shorter might have been a contributing factor.

But I was far from her best pupil. I never paid attention in class, always scribbling away in my tiny memo pad with the spiral binding at the top. I was particularly inspired by a story we read in class and I had mourned its ending, so I decided to keep it going in my imagination. Unfortunately I could never remember where I left off so I started writing it down—a habit I would be stuck with for the rest of my life. It was my own sequel to James and the Giant Peach, full of high seas adventures and aircraft carriers left abandoned and adrift.

I was just getting into that part when my favorite teacher finally had enough of telling me to pay attention and decided to take away my distraction. For the rest of the day I felt lost without something to write on—a feeling I tried to avoid from that point on (my purse always has a notebook inside nowadays). I was hopeful to get my pad back at the end of the day, but it was not to happen. On the long walk home I began to wonder if she would read my childish ramblings and laugh, like my siblings did when they snatched away my one happy distraction.

The next day I found out that my punishment had only begun. During the story portion of our class, my teacher produced my little pad and announced my crimes to the class. She then “suggested” that I come up front and share some of it with them. Feeling the heat of shame, I slowly came forward, with all eyes upon me. She waited patiently, smiling in her satisfaction of compounding my punishment for inattention. I wished I could pass out or perhaps die before reaching the front. Either would have been a relief.

She returned my pad to me as I reached the front. A sea of faces stared at me blankly. I looked at my once-favorite teacher. “Go on,” she said, still smiling, as if gloating at my discomfort. There was no escape. Crying was no longer an option. I’d recently realized the embarrassment was only compounded when you cried, though I think a tear still formed. Or perhaps it was young sweat.

With nothing else to do and the moment stretching to breaking, I opened the pad and in a timid voice began to read my little scribbles. I tried to stare only at the words, trying not to lose my place. It had to be better than watching the laughter slowly taking over the mob before me. My only saving grace was that we had all heard the original story together. Perhaps they would see where I was coming from.

I have no idea how many pages I read that morning in sheer agony, wishing the punishment would be over. Finally, still smiling, my teacher told me I could stop.

It was only then that I noticed how my first audience had been looking at me. Not a giggle had been uttered. Their eyes almost seemed sad when I stopped. I looked at my teacher and she hugged me, her eyes beaming, “That was really good! I’m so proud of you!” And I realized I wasn’t being punished at all.

I will always cherish the memory of my third grade teacher for solidifying my love of writing. By the way, I finally did figure out why I liked the short skirts.

Instead of a donut, can I have a cupcake with those rainbow sprinkles instead? nom nom nom

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Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Blog, Memoir


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Hello and welcome to Foibles Monday!

Errr, what?

Oh, damn, not again. It’s Wednesday already . . . ?  ~sigh~

Okay. Let’s start over . . .

Hiii!!! I’m Miki. I’ll be your Procrastinatrix for today!

Yup, that’s a foible I share with too many of you. Am I right? Shhhh . . . I won’t tell. We can blithely pretend its Monday, just for now.

I’ve always wanted to do something blithely. ~blithes stoically. blithes menacingly. blithely giggles. blithes in French~

Hey, this is fun!! Oh, sorry . . . where was I?

So this is what it’s like to be a procrastinatrix. Basically doing anything BUT what you’re supposed to be doing (for those of us pretending not to be afflicted by random moments of blithe-abuse). It’s technically a form of A.D.D., but even better.

In fact it’s not a disorder at all! ~blithely chops off the last “D.” and adds an “A.” for Awesomeness!~ 

It’s just the way some of us are wired . . . that some others of the rest of us can’t fathom to save their armpit hairs.

2015.03.21 035Basically, according to John Perry, Stanford Philosopher and author of The Art of Procrastination (yes, this really is a real book), procrastinators are, paradoxically, rather prolific do-ers . .  as long as they’re doing some thing to avoid doing something else they don’t want to do more.

Oops. I think I just heard some non-procrastinators’ brains go *poink!* Meanwhile, we procrastinators are all nodding our heads in unison right now. Some are even doing it blithely! ~gives those ones a thumbs up~

Perry calls this structured procrastination. It’s a pretty awesome way of embracing our inner procrastinatrix and using it to be far more productive than those sadly “normal” people out there, who couldn’t blithe to negotiate the safe return of their armpit hairs.

Perry goes on to describe such awesomeness as horizontal organization, task triage, and right-parenthesis deficit disorder. I guarantee these things will remove that icky stigma of being a procrastinator (or procrastnatrix) forever, or until you get around to thinking about it.

It’s an awesome little book. I recommend my fellow procrastinatrixii get a copy and read it . . . but only after you write a lovely three-page comment below about how awesome I am for introducing you to it.

See what I did there? You’ll want to read the book instead now!

You’re welcome.


Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Blog, Memoir, Review


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A Dinosaur Ate My Guacamole

2015.03.21 037So, turns out the pterodactyl was a darling.

She called a family of brontosaurs she knew who run the Pangean Towing Cooperative, who came out and towed my defunct way-back machine to their cave garage. I’m still not sure when this is, but the natives here have been quite accommodating.

Of course there’s always a fly in the ointment amber, or an unexpected dinosaur in the tar pit . . .

We were having a lovely dinner at Laughing Planet (who knew they’ve been around since the dawn of time?), only to find there are small happy dinosaurs running about the place stealing peoples’ side dishes.

This critter for example (Exhibit A, right), took a serious liking to my guacamole. I mean, yes, I did mention earlier that I can’t really taste guacamole, but jeez, the little raptor could at least have asked before it grabbed my spoon and started snarfing it up.

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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Blog, Fiction, Memoir


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Breaking My Wayback Machine

So, I’m thinking about making my blog a little less blog-a-day-zical. Eeek! I know right!?

I mean, frankly who wants to read this much of my silly ramblings every single day? Well, other than my cats, and the other small rodents they have over when I’m not around (really guys, the tiny beer cans so give it away).

Perhaps if I post 3 or 4 times a week, that will suffice to get my blog fix. I can last that long between ramblings, right?

Well, uhm, okay . . .

tumblr_m17tguFPbu1qiq0tko1_500The actual truth is: I think I broke my Way-Back Machine from using it too much.

I was sitting here pulling buttons and twisting levers and pushing knobs . . . wait, that doesn’t sound right. And then the cat sneezed (I so don’t want to talk about that mess) and the next thing I know I’m way outside of my “normal” blog zone. I have no idea when I am now . . . or then . . . or . . .

OMG . . . is that a pterodactyl??


I’ll get back to you.

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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Blog, Fiction, Memoir


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What’s on Your Life List?

There’s a list I think we all should have. It’s kinda silly, but then so is life.

It’s about your heart, and how it appreciates the world around you.

Not your mind . . . that cold gray blob of reason, analyzing and working things out and planning and thinking about buying more stuff, because it’s there dammit!  Okay, I still do this myself, too . . .  I don’t want to talk about it. It’s fine to enjoy those things, too. Just don’t forget to enjoy, well, Life!

This is about what makes you truly happy. You’d be surprised: It’s mostly little things.

I beseech you, make a list of these things and tack it up where you can see it. Life gets busy–it would be a shame to get to the end of it and realize you missed all the good stuff. (Hint: the good stuff are moments, the things you can take with you).

“Failure is never quite so frightening as regret.”

~Cliff Buxton in The Dish

Just to get you started, I’ll give you a peek at my list:. I’ve had it for 4 years now and I haven’t had to change it much. You’re welcome. =)

My Live Life List

* Dream of living in Paris.

* Skip stones.

* Play an instrument

* Ride your bicycle everywhere.

* Listen for the train whistles.

* Write in cafes.

* Believe you can fly … look at airplanes you might want to buy.

* Feel beautiful, because you are.

* Know that your own Amelie will come to you when the time is right.

* Believe in love (and True Love).

* You are amazing and special and the right friends will always be there to appreciate this.

* If the beat strikes you, then Dance!

* Be in love with being in love.

* Remember: What would Melva do in this situation?

* Empathy – always.

* Cry when you need to.
Laugh when you can.
Smile all the time.
Happiness is contagious and will make its way back to you.

* Live your life! Because you can do it better than anyone else can.


Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Blog, Memoir


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First Job in the Jungle

None of it was my idea.

The yard was about 200 feet long and 50 feet wide, as well as you could see from the rusty chain link fence barely peeking out at spots above the overgrowth. It was about the size of the entire first floor of the old lady’s row house behind me, and every living cell of it was my problem. There must have been a million weeds, living and dead, in that yard and every one of them had my name on it.

The place is inner-city Baltimore. The time is somewhere in my twelfth year. The idea was my stepfather’s, his not-so-subtle nudging to make something of myself. So I decided I would loan out whatever services I might offer: cleaning, dusting, fetching groceries, whatever came up. I’d chosen the less-scary elderly apartment complex up the street from the row house we’d just moved into from a more suburban existence near Denver.

There wasn’t much of me back then to go around, but I would see what I could do. If no one wanted me, then I could simply go back to having a childhood again. That’s what I really wanted.

Instead, I got a stack of index cards. I was instructed to write an ad detailing my services on every one of them . . . the same message over and over again. It was my first public writing, my first paid writing, too. If you don’t count the slimy bits.

Oh, right. We haven’t gotten to the slimy bits yet.

But I’m not thinking about slimy bits . . . I’m still back earning a good case of childhood carpal tunnel copying one card to the next, by hand. The job was already becoming more than I wanted to do and I hadn’t even started working yet. Finally it was done. I’d have to distribute them now. I suddenly wished I had a few thousand more cards to copy.

I came home from school the next day and the cards were waiting, along with instructions that they all would be distributed today or else. So I set out slinking my way through all four floors of the building jamming the cards in the handles of the doors, not sure if I wanted anyone to notice them or not. A little money would be good, but a little freedom to be a kid for a while longer seemed more important at the time.

Not one tenant responded.

I was quietly relieved, though I made a show of being disappointed at home. If only I had thought to throw away the half-dozen or so cards I had leftover.

“What are these?”

“Leftover cards.”

“You didn’t pass them out? Don’t you want a job?”

“I got all of the apartments…”

“Then pass the rest out to the houses next door. They might have work, too.”

Any other kid my age would have gone out and found a trashcan or dumpster to throw them into, then wandered about for a couple of hours before coming home with a hopeful look on her face. I’m not wired that way. Once I said I’d do something, I felt compelled to do it, whether I wanted to or not. I’m the same way today—only now I make certain I want to do something before I open my mouth.

Only one call came in. It would be my only handy-kid job of the summer, so of course it was the worst kind of hell imaginable. It seemed doable enough over the phone: Clear a weed-infested garden. But what was described as a garden became an entire back yard, and as soon as I saw it I knew whatever I was being paid, it wasn’t enough. No one had touched this yard in years and now a scant twelve-year-old was expected to clear it completely of vegetation, with her hands. The little old lady who owned this travesty took one look at me and shook her head before disappearing back inside her cool dark house.

JNS.CityTallWeeds3Sighing, I set to work.

It was hot and muggy that summer, as it usually was on the east coast. The little old lady never once came out to offer me a drink of water or suggest I take a break. I wondered if she’d forgotten I was even out there. Then again, I wasn’t smart enough to bring something with me when I showed up in the morning.

The job took weeks. Grab a stalk of unknown vintage and pull. Sometimes they pulled out of the gritty, coal cinder rich soil; sometimes they snapped off just above it. Sometimes I couldn’t get them to budge. I ruined a good pair of old sneakers kicking at the soil until I got the roots up. I was not to be paid if one stalk shown above the dirt. I feared instead she would charge me for how much of the itchy dirt I was walking away with—on my arms, under my drenched T-shirt, in my hair. Pulling weeds of this caliber made for a lot of flying earth, despite how weakly I perpetrated the maneuver.

The live weeds were thick, flexible and sticky; the dead ones raspy and dry, poking or burning my skin. Both reeked of a bitter sweet smell of yearning life and imminent death, some more pungent than others. The dirt smelled of long dead coal and even deader life, a wet earthiness mixed with the smell of long ignored excrement from creatures I would never identify.

I would be hard-pressed to tell you what the best part of the job was. I simply don’t remember one. Payment was definitely a letdown after all that work. Calling it a day at dinnertime was suspect, as well, since I felt so sore limping the half-block back home. I knew then that hell was a place where there were no good things to mention about your day.

The worst part was easy to identify: this is the slimy part.

For years a biosphere had evolved within that jungle of weeds. A deep dark forest of live and long dead weeds three to four feet high, shading the ground far beneath from the summer sun and heat. Every slimy creature on the block must have slowly migrated to this one place where survival was assured—until I came along. To these mucous-laden creatures I was the equivalent of an earthmover in a tropical rain forest, laying waste to the habitat of generations of their kind.

But they got their revenge. It seemed that for each weed I pulled there was a corresponding slug, snail or beetle waiting to be pulled up with it—and more often than not they were attached about where I had to grasp the offending plant to pull it free.

You would have to know just how squeamish I am about such things. Even now. And through the entire job I never got used to the feeling of a small life squishing and oozing between my fingers, my already dirty jeans slick with their bodies as I tried to rid myself of that feeling.

But if I decided to quit without finishing what I’d promised to do, there would be hell to pay when my parents found out. Most residents in that part of town avoided contact with their possibly dangerous neighbors or—especially—their children. My stepfather sought them out, seeming to know things you thought he could never find out. The job went on.

Summer days literally melted into each other. Day after day I set about my work. Then one day a small treat, the sky rumbling and darkening with the portent of cool rain. Fate finally merciful, granting a reprieve from the blistering heat and stench of sweat. But it would make little difference: I was practically an automaton now. I had built up a tiny bit of muscle by this time, so things went a little bit faster, but it didn’t matter: there was no end to this hell on weeds.

This is why I stared blankly when my fingers struck something new. Thick metal wires, vertically entwined with the weeds stretching to either side. It was the yard’s long forgotten back fence. I was at the end.

You might think that this would have cheered me, but somehow it only made me feel the pain in my shoulders more as my mind tried to gauge how many more weeds I would have to pull before the job was finally done. And when I finally pulled the last weed and tossed it onto the huge pile to be carted away by the city, I could only look at the back fence and the continuation of weeds on the other side and wonder: Why had I bothered? New weeds would soon grow up in this place and the cycle would start all over again. Such was my mindset when I trudged home, with a meager stipend in my pocket.

I made a small name for myself that summer as a “good worker”, someone who “finished the job” and “kept their word,” and perhaps I have brought these values forward in my life. But I have also never liked working out in the garden, I have somehow become allergic to too much sun exposure and if anyone mentions “weeding” I’m already packing my bags.

It’s no wonder I ended up a computer programmer for my first career, safely ensconced in an air conditioned tower at a comfortable desk, a window looking out on a courtyard made of concrete, far from any weeds…


Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Blog, Memoir


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