“The Long Blink” (stage play)

“The Long Blink” (stage play)

This project came out of one of the more challenging prompts from my Advanced Dramatic Writing class at Portland State:

Put no more than four characters in one of the following settings (note the theme here: small spaces): a closet, restaurant booth, bathroom, cockpit, confessional, elevator, hunting blind, cave, submarine, office cubicle, ferris wheel, tunnel, jail cell, bed, … you get the idea. The scene must additionally contain the following ingredients: A blind date, 3 days without sleep, a phobia, and a man covered in tattoos.

Stage reading of The Long Blink, performed (L-to-R) by Nick Nolan, Taryn Judah, Madison Shanley, and Drew Pierce. Filmed by Jerry Rous.

The cool thing is: the more limiting a prompt is, the easier it seems to be to come up with ideas for it. I suppose this is because when you’re asked to “write something,” the entire universe of possibilities rushes in and you end up staring at a blank page too small to fit anything that comes to mind. But with limitation comes innovation!

For some reason this prompt wasn’t enough punishment, so I added a couple of limitations of my own:

  • I would try to use most, if not all of the settings given, and
  • I would do so without any narration–it would all be in the dialogue.

The class really rocked this prompt. The best part was the collaboration: the writers were teamed up with other students who would take on the roles of director and voice actors, so we could see and hear how the piece works for an audience. During rehearsals these collaborators helped workshop the piece from their perspective, as director, actors, as well as a volunteer dramaturge (someone who makes sure the piece holds together in its own universe).

This collaboration not only helped me craft the work so that the story in my head actually made it to the audience, but to find amazing connections, ideas and perspective from the mouths of my own characters, told through the people acting them out. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. I am humbled by how much this improved what I started with.

As a mid-term project, we had our scripts read on stage in front of an audience–and a video camera. Although it would have been awesome to see it acted out, there were too many constantly evolving scripts and too little time to block, act and memorize them all. But as voice actors, these performers made this silly story truly come to life for me.

It is still a work in progress, of course (especially the new ending), but we had a lot of fun getting it this far. I hope you enjoyed it.

Hopefully more soon!! ^_^


Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Blog, Fiction, Stageplay


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Every year a poem appears to hint of my love for winter
… or lack thereof.

This year’s goes something like this…

Pilot flame lit, shivering
I loathe the click and hiss
of the metal box in the corner
for it calls farewell to summer

Fall days grow dimmer, shorter
skirts lengthen to pants
coats cover soft shoulders
ankles disappear into boots

Smiles and skin flee inward
huddle indoors for the winter
Only smokers left outside,
cussing, indifferent to the chill

Summer sprouted love, grew
then withered in autumn shadow
died in winter ice, leaving
no seed to greet the spring

The season of intimacy wanes
while others carefully cultivate
their love, I too wander indoors
to escape the chill, alone

Except for my kittens, who purr
happy for the warmth of my lap
and their love of that metal box that
clicks and hisses in the corner

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Posted by on December 31, 2015 in Blog, Poetry


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Silence … a Poem about a Decision

Despite how much hope and love you have for the people in your life, sometimes you just need a little closure, even from family.


Your time is up
A window of opportunity
Your silence begets

Five years I gave you
To decide
Am I human … or not

Patiently I watched you all
Dig your holes of hypocrisy
So deep
You can’t climb out

Traded sharp words
Knives in my back
Now you fear bleeding to death
To remove them

In family love is unconditional
Until you have to explain
Me to your friends
Sharing blood is not done in

Five years waiting for you
To make an effort to

Life continues on
One day you’ll wake to find
You wasted it being

With love to my mom, who has been quietly wonderful, but all too far away. Hugs!! ^.^


Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Blog, Memoir, Poetry


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Windows Into the Night

Windows Into the Night

This is not about the window I sleep beneath now. That would be too easy. And a little strange, since it opens out onto a courtyard formed when my apartment building grew to wrap the space in a smokers alcove, where voices emanate–sometimes dully, sometimes with great energy. Luckily I can sleep, or not sleep, through the best of it. I can sleep through a brass band tuning up–once I lay my head down.

No, this is about a window overlooking the urban sprawl of one corner of Baltimore City, the scariest place on earth … at least for a shy, skinny 6th to 7th grade kid. For me, life during the day was all about survival. Not so much survival of the fittest … in that town it was more survival of the meanest. If you’ve caught an episode of The Wire on TV you’ll know what I mean. That was my town. No, no … you can keep it.

But then there’s the night. At night even mean people sleep. The city that frightened me became calm for a time, almost beautiful. It’s no wonder I wanted to spend so much of that time awake, appreciating it. Whenever I was caught by my parents sitting up at some odd hour of the night, I could always blame it on my little brother’s monumental snoring and get an apologetic shrug. But he was slightly duller than a brass band tuning up. I knew it was the night calling to me.

Our bedroom was on the second floor–third floor from the rear–of our ancient brick row house, with a window facing out the back. High enough off the ground the oak tree striving to escape the dark alley beneath had yet managed to block the view.

If you’re new to the concept of “row house”, it’s basically a solid block of 100-year old brick structures sandwiched thinly against the sides of other row houses. The 3-story row house we lived in–4 from the back–would have looked precariously thin and have toppled in a light breeze if it ever stood alone, but like a shelf of books it was tightly packed together on a block-wide shelf. The only separation between them was a thick firewall from the foundation to its flat sloping roofline–back when a firewall was a thick layer of fire-resistant cinderblock rather than a paranoid computer program.

Our block sat atop a natural ripple in the geology of the city, a shelf of homes higher than the rest, the row backing up to the other side of the alley, fronts facing away from us, sat several floors below. The forgotten land then rippling up again a few blocks beyond. Atop that next ripple sat a single-story shopping mall, basically a huge parking lot with the edge of a mall to one side, as far as I could see from my little window.

This was my world at night. Expanses of well-lit asphalt in the distance, over rows of invisible black tarpaper roofs and silent shadowy streets. It might easily have been a jungle at night, or a valley between cliffs, if not for the parking lot in the distance, lit like the outfield at a baseball game, waiting for the next home run.

No game ever played there, but I was probably its most avid spectator most nights: the tiniest of things that happened out there becoming small adventures. Cars would randomly traverse the parking lot, for their own reasons. Often these cars would approach from diverse angles and meet someplace in the middle. The occupants would get out and I would revel in my ability to hear the sounds of their voices echoing over the rooftops, uttered by the ant-sized people so far away.

Only now do I realize I was probably witnessing drug deals in the night. I wonder why the police didn’t sit in windows in the middle of the night, they would catch all kinds of perps that way. I could have had a job at that.

Not all of my attention would be taken up by the non-doings of the mall lot. That was more a meditation of sorts.
Often I would spend the time also listening to the AM stations bouncing off the ionosphere from odd distant places, with the sun charging the air in weird angles out past the horizon. Late Saturday nights I would listen to the wacky tunes of the Dr. Demento Show, still a cult favorite on the internet today, decades later. In a few years this would become a hobby, listening to radio waves bouncing from points on the opposite side of the globe, using a shortwave radio I built from a kit; but for now the AM bands on my tiny transistor radio were exciting enough. Radio propagation was a magical thing to me back then.

I have been a companion of the night ever since. We moved from the city of roaming bullies to the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania, barely rescuing me from my first year in high school … a massive building that resembled a penitentiary in my mind. Again I had a third story window to gaze out from, but the view here was a moon-lit field of grass, or my mother’s sleeping vegetable garden, and the shadows playing across shades from the neighbor’s duplex. I had a silly crush on one of the tenants there for a few months, a tiny married woman who playfully joked or played Parcheesi with us on her front porch, with the popping dice in the middle. I learned from her that I would always love women who nurtured their child-like (not childish) spirit throughout their life, and to never quite grow up myself.

My hormones soon pointed me more appropriately toward the pretty girls in high school, also mostly unrequited. But my nights were much the same here, minus the fear of the city ebbing away. A quieter town nestled in the dark valley to the right, tall trees rustling quietly in the night breezes atop the hill to the left, the stars swirling with hopeful abandon above. The quiet of the night needing at least one soul to stay up to appreciate it.

I wonder now if my night vigils today were an acquired habit, or a simply part of my spirit. Was it nature or self-nurture? I imagine I’ll never know, but I can almost feel the air grow quiet in the night, as more people fall off to dreamland. The crosstalk grows silent, my mind becomes clearer, the night more full of possibilities.

I still have my excuses for being up at that time, even without a parent to randomly look in to wonder: I tell people I can’t sleep normally on my own–I don’t want to lay in the dark alone, since I can easily sleep like a “normal” person when I’m in a relationship. There is some truth to this, too. But I know, deep down, if it wasn’t for the cuddles and kisses, I’d be up at night, exploring the magic of the universe, watching life on the planet slowly ebb and flow. I am a friend of the night. I think I shall always be.


Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Blog, Memoir


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An Ode to Neglected Apples and Other Queer Fruity Things

An Ode to Neglected Apples and Other Queer Fruity Things

If you’re expecting a serious discussion about serious subjects, you’re in the wrong place. This blog is about apples, because I have a contentious relationship with them and they know it. So how better to piss off the apple population than to talk about them in public. Take that, you crispy devils.

When it comes to apples, apple sauce or apple pie is about as far as I go. I still enjoy the odd apple–and what better kind of apple for an odd person–but there are dangers that explain why I typically skirt past them in the produce aisle.

A vegetarian ex-partner once drilled into me the dangers of the non-organic apple, whose skin wantonly absorbs those sexy pesticides they douse orchard trees with to keep non-humans from enjoying them. These same pesticides are killing our bees and fireflies, too, which is a gripe I’ll save for later. But since we eat this skin and the FDA seems to gaze through money-colored glasses, I usually eschew (faux-Latin for “don’t chew”) the non-organic apple.

You would think the organic apples would be cheaper, since they don’t have to pay for all those chemicals, but that’s never the way of it, is it? If it’s better for us, we must pay more for it! Yes. No. Not on my budget.

But wait, there’s more. When I do risk either organic or inorganic varieties, no matter how much I try to rinse them off, there’s still a taste of that wax they use to keep them pristine, kind of like the goo they pump into dead people so they look cute lying in their open caskets. (Really, why would anyone want to look at a dead person?) You can see where my mind goes when I taste that wax. And again, I doubt the FDA cares what they put in that wax to keep the apples all red and perky as they bump around with the other perky apples in the bin.

And that’s just the skin!

Let’s say we’ve gazed and admired the cover, the blurbs sound good, the binding looks tasty … eventually you’re going to have to bite this ill-fated analogy and taste the contents. I have many memories of apples I’ve bitten into and wish I hadn’t. There’s the over-ripe mushy ones, the sickly sweet ones, the bitter not quite there ones, the dried out chalky ones. Apples must be like wine when it comes to timing when to bite them, and the skin hides that experience just as well as the unopened wine bottle. I’m sure I’ve had far more good than bad ones, but the bad ones stick in my mind. Not literally … unless I have a severely alien digestive system.

I don’t really think about all this when I shop, I’m actually quite cheerful surrounding myself with food (“yay, cookies!!”). But wisps of these thoughts do playfully frolick about my mind momentarily as I pass the apple bins in the grocery store. “I should get some kind of fresh fruit for my health. Apples? …. nah”

Sadly I have a similar situation with many other fruits there. Kiwis are the worst. Just a glance from them and I’m running to the Bakery section, to be comforted by the inedibly scrumptious goodies they keep behind the bulletproof glass. My texture issues will never let me taste a kiwi without having to spit it out, no matter how wonderful it might actually taste. I’m like a little kid this way, but I can’t seem to do anything about it.

Oranges and tangerines are lovely to taste and their crispy moist munchiness a pleasure to partake, but the sheer effort of getting at the innards reminds me of frustrating picnics in my youth back east, trying to acquire sustenance from a pile of Maryland crabs.

imageI think this may mark me as lazy eater, which might explain my simplistic dinner menus at home. Still I will sometimes force myself to eat an orange, hoping it, too, won’t be too sickly sweet or hardened like their friends, the apples. I’m usually happy with the effort, if a little sticky.

Lemons and limes are interesting critters, but I can’t see them as food. They seem most happy riding piggyback on an iced tea or margarita, respectively. That’s where I know them best. Occasionally I will take a bite of these, just to remind myself why I don’t buy them in the grocery store. I may change my mind if I ever take up juggling.

Melons … well, melons all wave to me as I pass without a glance in their direction. I have tried them all and they have the most lovely crisp texture. I adore them for that … but like green peppers, they all create a severe bitter aftertaste for me that “normal” people don’t seem to taste at all. We’ve already established I’m a little weird, right? The taste has sadly kept me from taking a second bite of the entire melon family.

Ah, but there is one melon that somehow escaped this phenomena: watermelons. I think I have yet to have a bad watermelon. I’ve eaten the mushy overly sweet parts, I’ve nibbled the greenish hard parts near the rind, I’ve even swallowed the odd seed … somehow it’s all yummy for me. The only reason I don’t grab one of these whenever I see them is the size of them. In my current domicile my refrigerator lives quietly under my counter and takes up slightly less space than a dishwasher (not the human ones (me)–the mechanical ones). Fitting any part of a watermelon in there would be a miracle. I don’t want to eat an entire watermelon on my own, even a small one … it would be tragic if an over-watermeloned stomach put me off this wonderful fruit, so sadly I often do without.

Luckily there are two other fruits that I can be happy about. When thoughts of scurvy begin to nibble at my mind, I usually head straight for the pre-cut pineapples. I avoid the ones in a can–they taste like … can. The store-cut ones take care of that prickly pineapple armor. (It makes me wonder if pineapples have had holy wars with coconuts in their long history … whyfor such awesome armor?) Happily, I skip home with my plastic tubs of fresh sweet armorless yumminess.

Another happy fruit for me is strawberries. These are another chancy fruit when it comes to ripeness, but luckily these little Omnominoms wear their hearts on their sleeve, advertising their freshness on their skins. So although I might avoid them more often than not because of how squishy or green they look on the outside, if they have that healthy pall about them, they’re MINE! bwahahahaha!

This has been a queer person’s uninvited treatise on fruit. Sorry if it’s not what you expected. ~giggle~

~crunch, crunch, crunch~

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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Blog, Memoir


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Rolling Evangelists of Hair

Anyone who has happened across my blog, or me, will probably agree that I’m a little … different. Between my many foibles and my affinity for heights, my shy extrovertedness, my artistic geekiness, or that I’m a tall feminine lesbian, I may raise an eyebrow in passing. And yet I consider myself to be a member of “normal” society. I think we all are, in all our glorious uniquenesses.

But there is one thing about me that gets a little more (and thoroughly undeserved) attention than anything else: My hair.

imageIt’s a little long. Okay, it’s a whole lot of long. Nowhere near as long as my paternal grandmother’s, whose DNA I happily blame for this situation, but longer than most people expect to see walking down the sidewalks of Portland. As you can see from this faux-candid picture taken just now at a local Starbucks.

No, that’s not the backside of Cousin It.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the random attention it gets at times. I just wish I wasn’t so damn shy to make the best of it. Thankfully it’s only now and then, and not too creepy. Well … most of the time…

Most of the time it’s downright funny the reactions I get. I feel like I’m part of a social experiment, one devoted to the perceived miracle of long hair. I get called many things, most complimentary, often from a great distance at high volume, sometimes behind my back as if they don’t think I can hear.

Things I’ve heard so far . . .

  • Top pick: “How long have you been growing that hair?” (uhm, all my life)
  • (Yelled from a block away) “Rapunzel!” ( … eek!)
  • “Oh, you’re like Crystal Gayle,” (only taller! and blond! and not as talented!)
  • “I bet that takes a long time to wash/comb/brush” (yes, it truly does)
  • “Wow, it’s Venus de Milo” (seriously?)
  • “Are those extensions” (uhm, why?)
  • “Wow, that’s dedication right there…” (it is? oh, yes, of course it is…)
  • “That’s the longest hair I’ve EVER seen!” (where have you been?)
  • (drunkenly) “I just bet my friend your hair is real. Well, is it?” (go away)
  • “It’s lighter/whiter at the top” (that’s 7 years of hair, but thanks so much for pointing that out)
  • “Holy crap!/Oh my fucking god!!” (you okay?)
  • (from a guy) “You know, I could really get into that . . . ” (no. just … no)
  • “Don’t ever cut that hair, girl” (thanks for your support!)
  • “You could be that girl, the one on the white horse . . . ” (no, I’m not taking off my clothes for you)

Except for the last one, from a trio of men in a park–who I’m so glad didn’t follow me–most of the comments are very complimentary. Some even funny. I don’t have any tattoos (yet), so I don’t mind that my hair is a good conversation starter … even if it tends to stall after I smile sincerely and say, “thank you!” (and facepaw later when I think of the possible life friendship/soulmate I may have just missed out on).

For someone who has spent most of her life feeling invisible (my secret super power) it’s kind of nice getting a little random attention now and then, even if it is something as useless as hair follicles that grow out of my head–for free! Sometimes I feel a little guilty about this … I mean, people think I’m putting all this work into growing my hair long, when actually I’m just too lazy (and poor) to go get it cut and styled. So I let gravity do it for me.

That and it does feel kind of nice when it brushes against the tops of my calves when I walk. ~hehe~

Not all of the reactions I get are positive. This seems to be a universal fact of life as a human being: No matter what you do in life that makes you happy, there will always be someone to come along and try to take that away from you. Maybe it’s jealousy, or they don’t feel you’re worthy (which usually means they don’t think they deserve it, so why should you), or they’re just mean hateful assholes.

I met one of them today, in fact. I was walking down the street (actually I was on the sidewalk, a pedestrian can get killed on these streets) minding my own business, when a woman drives by in her car, slows down in the middle of traffic to yell out her window at me,

“Give your hair to a cancer patient!”

Now I totally agree that this would be a very sweet thing to do for someone in need, and there are quite a few people who would benefit from it. But when is it okay for you to make that decision for someone else? I mean I have a couple of very functional kidneys, a healthy liver, corneas like an eagle, a happily pumping heart and various appendages that would benefit quite a few people right now. I imagine you have a few of these things, too. But I’m not about to scream at everyone I see on the street to donate these things; nor am I lining up to have myself chopped into little bits either.

Perhaps she thinks hair has a lesser value than organs. Well, not to ME! It’s all part of my body; part of what makes me ME. This is not really up for discussion. My hair is a part of me. When unknown men (or women) ask if they can touch it, that’s not terribly different than asking a total stranger if you can touch their breast. Get to know me first, show me that I can trust you (and I know you wash your hands), then maybe we’ll see.

All this went through my mind (again) as this woman’s command echoed across traffic. I was about to let it go, knowing there is really no point in arguing with an idiot. But another part of me thought, maybe this woman has never had anyone tell her this was inappropriate behavior before. So … I quite childishly yelled back, “mind your own business!” and walked on.

Darned if she didn’t turn the corner, park her car across the street, get out and yell at me further, “It IS my business! God talked to me and told me so! Bitch!”

Oh, well. There you have it. This woman speaks for God. And God thinks I’m a bitch. And if she says so, then it must be true! I guess I’ve been told. ~giggle~

Crackpottery aside, I only wish instead of my initial response I had said what (of course) came to me 23 minutes later, when it was too late (not that it would have mattered at all). In response to “give your hair to a cancer patient!” I should have come back with, “sell your car and give the money to the homeless!”

Seems like a reasonable response to me.


Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Blog, Memoir


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Earning My Wings

Earning My Wings

I’ve mentioned my weird happiness around heights before, but have I told you how high I’ve gotten so far? Oh, stop giggling, silly. I didn’t mean that way. I meant physically . . . though the euphoria of doing it was pretty mind-blowing.

I’m talking about flying. Not the unassisted flying I do so much in my dreams, but when you climb into a plane–in the front seat, with the wheel thingie and pedals–and fly yourself into the sky like a deranged penguin with an engine strapped to its back. Sure, I enjoy getting on a commercial flight and taking off to heights that made my little two-seat Cessna jealous, but to sit behind that windshield with your hands on the controls flying yourself into the sky . . . That’s the biggest self-inflicted wonder of all.

But this post isn’t really about me . . . it’s about my grandfather, a quietly amazing man I never really got to know. My grandfather was an engineer . . . an aerospace engineer. He was one of the many who helped create the very first space shuttle, or parts of it, working for Martin Marietta out in the desserts beyond the suburbs of Denver, Colorado.image

Perhaps it was no fluke that his engineering talents were directed toward that particular project. I wonder if he too was inflicted with this odd desire for altitude. Perhaps he even yearned to be one of the engineers aboard the shuttle when it finally left earth’s hold. I like to think he had. I kind of wish I’d had that opportunity myself.

I never knew my grandfather in his heyday. I hope one day my mother will regale me with her memories of him then. All I truly know about him was that he was happy off of the ground. And he loved to build things. Those two desires came together in his garage, where a cloth-winged airplane was taking shape by his hands. Perhaps this is where the seed was planted for me, seeing this project at such a young age.

A couple of decades later, I would embark on an adventure in flying that sadly began when his ended. It was such a poignant irony I found myself writing a little piece about it in my poetry class. It’s about the weird day I officially earned my wings after months of practicing to fly, first with an instructor and then on my own. It goes something like this:

               Last Flight
My grandfather’s home was the sky
His heart aloft from the ground
An imagination that helped
Launch our first shuttle to space

I remember purple-doped wings at eye level
Drying on sawhorses in his garage
But a fluttering heart stole their air
His license floating away in the wind

Unsmiling pictures of him, fettered to the ground
I ached to see him take wing again
Taking lessons as soon as I left the nest
But the ground took him too soon

The morning I earned my wings
I alit from my perch so early
Wing’ed faeries still flit about
Setting diamonds to the leaves

A stern stranger sat right seat with clipboard
Ready to catch any falling mistakes
Checklists and run-ups, then “Clear!”
Pointed questions as we taxied

Cessna’s were not designed for the ground
An empty coke can rattling on asphalt
But once the Earth drops beneath
An aluminum bird returns home

The climb brought my grandfather’s eyes
To unruffle my sputtering nerves
The clipboard man slipped behind a cloud
My purpose became clear blue sky

I’m a bird, climbing, rolling, stalling, diving
Seeing the airport reminded me of rented wings
Runways shaped like a crooked cross
The shorter piece tree-hemmed and disused

I faltered here when clipboard pulled a lever
My engine mock-failing before approach
I saw a sloppy circle to runway’s end
The shorter far too close beneath

My confidence veered, I froze in midairimage
Then … I imagined a hand touch my shoulder
I heard “Whoa!” from the right seat
As I banked, left wing pointed at the ground

Right pedal down, flying sideways
We side-slipped straight down,
Righting, flaring, touching like a feather
Before my hands were my own again

I felt my grandfather’s proud grin
In place of clipboard’s shocked stare
I taxi back to undeserved praise
Happy he got his last flight

One day I hope to take to the skies again. I know I’ll be thinking of my grandfather when I do. And thank him for helping to make it happen. Happy flying Pop-pop.


Posted by on August 7, 2015 in Blog, Memoir, Poetry


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