Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oh Noes! I've discovered the Blackadder Quote Generator at the BBC. It has ensorcelled me.

Flashheart: If word gets out that I'm missing, 500 girls will kill themselves and I wouldn't want them on my conscience - not when they ought to be on my face!

- Private Plane
...here's another:

Blackadder: Baldrick, does it have to be this way? Our valued friendship ending with me cutting you up into strips and telling the prince that you walked over a very sharp cattle grid in an extremely heavy hat?

- Duel and Duality

...and another:

George: My head... oh, my head... feels like the time I was initiated into the Silly Buggers Society at Cambridge. I misheard the rules and tried to push a whole aubergine up my earhole.

- Corporal Punishment
Anyway, I'm okay. This is the sort of thing I've been doing instead of posting in my blog like I aught to. And reading novels. Lots of novels. Bad ones with no redeeming features.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays everyone. Well, I know you are all wondering what sort of things you'll be saying about me tomorrow and Christmas Day in my absence. Never fear, Rumor Control is here with the best maybe true, maybe false fun fax about Rosie Griffeth. If this is your first time coming across a Rumor Control post, you'll want to bring yourself up to speed with Rumor Control and Rumor Control, Too. Feel free to scroll down to the good parts if you are in a hurry.

Complicated explanation in a nutshell, this is my random post in which I give you a dozen rumors to spread around about yours truly. Some are true. Some are false. Some are half-true, half-false.

The Rumor Control Dozen:

1. As you all know, I was born with a tail. While I now think of it as that "special", "fun" part of me, believe it or not, I did have my awkward moments as a teenager. Kids can be so cruel. Anyway, there was this boy I had a big crush on--I had a crush on his sister too, which in hindsight was typically bent for me--but anyway, he asked me out on a date and I was so thrilled. I must have spent an hour with the Tooth Pik shining my braces up. I found out later he only went out with me on a dare to find out if it was true. The tail thing. He got his answer while we parked at the beach that night. He never called me again, but his sister sure was interested in me after that.

2. I cut down a Christmas tree with a chainsaw. Indoors. A fully decorated Christmas tree. With lights. I wore my big boots. And I stomped on all the glass balls making a shiny carpet of green, red and gold slivers of glass. I was about to take my boots off and walk through the shards when I was interrupted.

3. One of my lovers was a bisexual surgical assistant with a name like Christmas. Noel. Every thing about him smelled like Betadyne. He either wore green scrubs or black leather and rode a motorcycle. He kidnapped me one day, took me out in a boat and sabotaged the engine. I had to lie, promising I'd see him again, to get him to fix the boat and take me back to shore. I got a really bad sunburn that day. There were sharks.

4. I played rugby. I was a prop. Rugby players eat their dead. I liked mine with a bit of salsa.

5. Nobody knows I'm a heterosexual.

6. This is really private and embarrassing. Anyway, you know I had this really bad series of surgeries back in 1997. It was really grim and I was in the hospital for six months. They removed my sternum. Obviously, it makes a mess of your chest when they do this--everything gets cut up and--well--it took some pretty radical plastic surgery to put me back together and make me look normal, with clothes on anyway. Well, somehow, all of my nerve endings to my nipples got reversed. Basically, everything that touches my left--I feel on the right and vice versa. Like I said, it's really private and embarrassing--but sort of cool and fun too. My extra two nipples aren't a problem--just the main ones.

7. I've eaten balut before. It's a bit soupy and eggy. Mmmmm, balut. Hot sauce.

8. I've had reams of bad lesbian love poetry aimed at me, which explains my aversion to poetry. One called me an "omnipotent angle".

9. My best friends and I ended up in a strip bar/brothel in a port city. It was chock full of Greek sailors. We were afraid to leave because we thought it would be impolite to do so without first having a beer or something. Anyway, we were really looking for a gay bar for our gay friend who was with us and sort of appalled by all the exotically clad women who kept approaching him. I guess they thought we wanted to watch or something. We asked the sailors if they knew where a gay bar was. And you know what? They knew exactly where one was. Who would have thought a bunch of rough and ready, macho sailors would know where a gay bar was? We were so surprised.

10. I singlehandedly caused 3 pub brawls while I lived in the UK and was banned from the pub. Permanently.

11. Nobody knows I'm extraspecialomnisexualexpyaladocious. But isn't it great they have words to describe everything these days?

12. Okay, this is really embarrassing too. But it's not like something I remember or anything. Just one of those little physical abnormalities they correct in infancy you never remember. Perhaps it's because of the tail, but I was born with another really rare medical condition called vagina dentata. Yeah, it's pretty much like it sounds. But they were just baby teeth and they pulled them shortly after I was born. This boyfriend of mine had a friend who had this fear of women with my condition. We explained to him that the teeth were removed and I was for all practical purposes vagina no dentata, but he'd just run screaming from the room every time he saw me. It was awkward. But the cool thing is, my mom saved the teeth. I had them made into a necklace and earrings and they are quite the conversation piece. People are always asking me what they are and boy are they surprised when I tell them they are vagina teeth.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cold Enough

It was really cold today and I drove into town. So cold I started the jeep up so it could idle and the frost could melt. I love cold as long as I don't have to do much in it. Chopping wood is okay as long as my ears are covered. But the frog pond is frozen and the cow pond across from the little church is covered in ice. I'm still having to skitter up Greene Mountain to get to the road. Those bridges will be like that for a while I guess. Everyone is enjoying wearing their Carhardts.

I've been listening to a lot of The Arcade Fire recently. Wonder if I'll ever grow out of listening to moody emo-esque music that makes me cry. Will I? I'm just asking. As I approach the entire "change" thing--I have to wonder if maybe there's a way my emotions could be a little less accessible--'cause I've never had particularly good control. I'm just sayin'.

I'm watching Yimou Zhang's Curse of the Golden Flower tonight. Chow Yun-Fat and the gorgeous Li Gong star. I'm quite sure I won't know what to do with myself. Costumes, beautiful Asian people, martial arts and wire-fu--what's not to absolutely love? I'm going to eat sushi, watch the movie then I'm going to bake cookies. At least that's the plan.

I got an unexpected acceptance today. At least I think it's an acceptance. They just sent me the contract and W-4 stuff for my honorarium, so I assume they are not giving me money just to be nice about it. I'm guessing they are actually using my story. It's just the first time I didn't get a letter saying, "We really liked blah-blah-blah and want to use it in our X issue."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Welcome to my sleepy, disjointed Sunday posting. AKA--I Gots Nothin'.

I've been thinking of sense memory, particularly of smell. My sister-in-law once pointed out how potatoes baking in the oven smell like brownies at a certain point. She's right and for some reason a story is gurgling up inside of me using that as a jumping off point. One of my unhappily domestic stories probably. Every time I start a story indoors it becomes funny and unhappy at the same time. I'm not sure why that is. Okay, maybe I do, but I don't want to talk about it. Senses are funny that way.

I haven't wailed on my arch nemesis Newport Utilities in a while. Last night we had one of our frequent power outages. Went off at 1:30 a.m., right in the middle of my anime night. I do so hate having my "stories" interrupted. It shuddered back on around 3:30, but by that time I was in full insomnia mode and didn't get to sleep until 5:30 this morning.

Wondering what Friend Scott is up to--must give him a call and see.

Great police blotter title in the Newport Pie Hole Plain Talk last Sunday.

Mullet-man makes off with purse

Self-explanatory really. Mulleted man makes off with purse, but I now have:

Have you seen the mullet-man, the mullet-man, the mullet man.... running through my head. Oh, Caleb Abramson--you witty devil, you. Thanks for the ear worms.

Happy Sunday

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And it's beautiful! And thanks to the magic of alphabetization--I'm across the fold from Kathy Fish!

It's a gorgeous big glossy magazine color thing. My handwriting is some of the worst there--except maybe Blake Butler's or Dennis Mahagin's (whose writing is also crazy creative as you would expect from those two), but everyone's stories and poems are so wonderful! It's neat to see a little of everyone's process. Handwriting always says so much about a person. Mine, for instance, says I can't pass a sobriety test when I'm stone cold sober.

Order Keyhole #5-- The Handwritten Issue

I've got some other stuff coming out this month and the next and on into June 2009. It's getting hard to keep up with them all. I've got a pieces upcoming in Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, Pank, Diet Soap, MsLexia, Southern Fried Weirdness, Pocket Change, The Potomac, The Dogs: Wet & Dry Anthology and Weave Magazine. So, yeah--I guess life is nice in publishment land.

I do need to catch up on my subs. I have this one piece I think is brilliant I'm having a hard time getting to stick anywhere. I am very excited about "Kurosawa's Rain" getting picked up by the Potomac and my head is still really swollen over MsLexia running "48 Years" next month.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm included in the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature's Holiday Homecoming Issue! There are some very fine writers sharing space with me there...all with wonderful Southern stories. I always wanted my work to appear in The Dead Mule--it's a perfect place for much of my fiction.

The Scent of Peaches, while a summer story, is very much about homecoming. I'm sure you will enjoy it.

While you are reading it, you might want to go back and read the Peek-a-bo Peach Brandy post--one of the most visited posts on The Smokey Mountain Breakdown. The Christmas season was when Mother would pull that brown paper bag from under the wash stand the TV sat atop. The brandy was served in little liqueur glasses and we'd pour the brandied peaches over vanilla ice cream.

Peaches will always stir strong feelings of home. I must have dozens of stories where they pop up.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

When I woke up today, the sky and the air smelled of snow. The gravid clouds hung in the pink sky like men with big bellies. Those clouds weren't going anywhere soon. They needed a nap. The odd thing about when the weather changes to cold in the South is the strangely warm day that precedes the drop in temperatures. Today was that day.

It's not a day where you become happy and rush outside to do things because the weather is so nice. No, this day threatens. The warm wind in ominous, dry with the promise of hurt. Bad things seem to be promised on such days. Bad things sometimes happen on the oddly warm day before the snow and ice and hail.

Today, Rose Goat fell from the 300 foot cliff, breaking her hip. The local farm boys shot her for me. I couldn't get to where she was across the creek, but they were kind enough to come tell me. Yang, her boy, is home now. I don't think he'll stray. Rose was the one with wanderlust. I'm philosophical about it. I can't get too worked up--the little bitch never would stay where she was supposed to. But who would have thought something as sure footed as a goat would fall? It may have been the bobcat after her--he lives up there somewhere.

Monday, December 01, 2008

So, I'm in the Walmart today and saw the most outrageous mother/daughter pair--each with extreeeeeme two-tone mullets. Mom had clipper cut the front half of her head and peroxided it and left the permed caramel colored back hang down her back. Then, the daughter's had grown out a bit and she had the opposite color scheme--dark brown front and bleached perm down the back.

Well, I was like, Holy Crap! Get a load of those mullets! There was something almost Pictish about these hair cuts--the line bisecting their skulls was behind the ear so there was a sort of domed forehead effect. Like the Bene Gesserit nuns in Lynch's version of Dune--but sort of hillbilly. Suddenly, I looked around me and noticed how many other mullets surrounded me in Newport, TN.

Mullets aren't just Appalachia--they are a below the Mason-Dixon sensation--a true Southern classic. Mullets have successfully migrated from the South to the midwest to the Pacific Northwest. Hell, they are as Southern as KFC and you can't spit in Asia without hitting one of those. Yep, we are going for world mullet domination.

They are what happens when you grow out a nice head of hair and become conflicted about cutting it. The other way it happens is when you try to cut your own hair, but--you know--you can only really reach the front part. Then you walk around pretending you meant for that to happen. Before you know it, all your friends are doing it. Once it's done and you realize it looks sort of funny---the really long part next to the really short part--you run out in a panic to get a cheap perm because for some reason, you think curly hair will look less weird next to the short stuff.

It made me a bit nostalgic for my rattail. Yeah--I had an asymetrical 80's do with a foot plus long rattail hanging from the right rear. It was splendiferous. Sometimes, I think I feel it--Phantom Rattail Syndrome. I sort of cried when we cut it off.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Okay, so, I snuck off late yesterday afternoon, went to Morristown and saw Twilight, the Movie. Cuz...as I mentioned before, Robert Pattinson is really pretty. And I do like pretty things. Really. I do.

Every time I take myself into a public place like that I wonder anew if I'm even capable of living amongst people again. I walked up and down a mall for the first time in probably eighteen months--maybe even two years. I can't remember the last time I was in such a crowded place. There were so many people and I do love seeing east Tennessee's interpretation of "cool" and "hip". Young people, no matter how off base they are in rendering modern trends (which I know only in theory, but am reasonably confident in my own interpretation), are so vital and beautiful. They are really adorable. I love their hair roots and food coloring hair dye. It's never as they originally intended and by the time I see it--it looks like someone spilled coolaide in their two-tone hair. They are parading up and down the mall. Adorable.

I am accosted by a cosmetics booth temp during my stroll.

"I have something to show you!" she says, bright and chirpy, stopping just short of physically grabbing me.

"No. No, really. I live alone with goats," I say.

I don't think she really registered what I said. She has a frantic cast to her eyes.

"Well, then I really have something for you!"

I hurry along as much as I am capable, using my cane as an oar to push myself off--paddle my way through the throngs of people. I can't see myself as an aging hipster anymore with the stick and my gimpiness--though I know that's indeed what I am. I've just lost all of the physical attributes that come with that designation. As long as I remain unseen, a hand on a keyboard, I can hold onto that. It's part of why staying hidden is so important to me--it allows me to maintain who I am. Who I am really. Not what I look like. Because what I look like and who I am are at odds, and they always have been.

She chases after me with a jar of cream. Perhaps I shouldn't have ignored her. Perhaps I could rub that on my hands and be transformed into someone who looks more like what they really are.

So, I went into the movie theater and sat near the front where my eyes could be filled with the screen. My favorite review thus far--and the one I like most with is on Lainey Gossip. Read it after you've seen the film if you plan to see it. It's catty, funny, balanced and I wish I'd been with these two when I saw it.

I think the chemistry between the director and Pattinson is obviously--well--not there. Which is a shame since the chemistry between him and Kristen Stewart is there in spades, so it's a glaring missed opportunity--well, as much a missed opportunity as it could be considering the source material.

There's this one scene that I imagine the direction to Pattinson went something like this:

Director: Okay, Rob--You are nauseated. Really, really sick. About to blow chunks in a big way. Imagine sushi. Bad sushi. Sea urchin with visible parasites. It's in front of you and it's so gross, projectile vomiting is called for--Camera....run speed....aaaaand--ACTION!
There was never a sense of this kid being given what he needed for this role. Never a sense that he was given real thoughts to think about or that possibly--less might be more. He's a pretty, pretty boy and I think it would have been a better call to let him be pretty for this one. Leave the acting calisthenics up to guys like Cam Gigandet-who pretty much steals every scene he's in. And you believe him.

But there are lots of pretty young people in the movie in a pretty place--so what it lacks in substance, acting, scripting, believability, directing--it makes up for in terms of eye candy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I've decided this is the reason I, embarrassingly, find myself drawn to the movie theater to see Twilight. Or perhaps some sort of former professional interest in the makeup--which does look very interesting--model perfection in the pouring rain and cold. God, I'm glad I didn't work on this one. I think I would have been in tears the entire time. It would have been Coniston Water all over again. There are few things more miserable than following actors in the driving rain making sure they don't muss themselves. Because they have a rare talent for that--mussing themselves.

Anyway, not sure I'll be able to see this today as we woke up to a snowy day. Nothing much sticking but it's cold and miserable. And, of course, the movie isn't playing at Newport's cinema. Guess it wasn't churchy or killy enough for them. Those are the two entertainment draws. What they think is wholesome and body counts. They are so going to be sorry since this thing is showing serious momentum. Guess they didn't know they were Mormon vampires. (Not really, but the author is Mormon and some of that does come through in her work.) So, I'll have to haul myself to Waynesville or Sevierville or Morristown. Arrgh.

I've read the book and I think it's going to be a better film since the book was heavy by at least 200 pages. Totally needed the cuts. And I'm thinking--as much as I razz on the vampire book writers--I probably could do it so much better. I know I could. But here's the thing. I wouldn't want to use my own name--cuz I'm like, a serious litrary writer. Srsly.

So far, my Zoe friends have come up with "Lustine" (Thanks, Gerry!) and Lecroix (Thanks, Tim). Lustine Lecroix. Think you can do better? Go ahead. Make my day--rename me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Savings Places

I'm driving home from Newport today after buying groceries when I saw it. Got more stuff to do the amazing sweet potato dish and a 20 pound turkey. It's been a while since I cooked a turkey and I always enjoy watching the cockers while the thing is in the oven. They guard the stove like somebody is going to come and steal the turkey. Or maybe break in and make off with the entire stove--like it's a turkey safe or something. You need opposable thumbs to get into it.

Anyway, I took the long way home rather than cross Green Mountain--where we all have to detour until the bridges are finished. Off 25 is a whorehouse they painted and converted into a church. 25 is famous as the old red light district of Cocke County. We think they have it cleaned up now, but every once in a while the prostitution thing will resurface. Anyway, I remember when they busted this little whorehouse, so it hasn't been that long ago--2005? Anyway, it's a church now. I'm not sure what sort of special sanctification rites must be performed to switch a whorehouse to a church, but I'm sure we Episcopalians or Catholics have something already written up for such occasions.

Outside, the sign reads, "Walmart isn't the only Savings-Place, Come on in!"

Thought that might give you a giggle.

I'm so sorry I seem to have turned my blog into my personal PR firm. All I ever do anymore is announce where my stories are being accepted, blah, blah, blah. Just one more though! And this is huge--it's like one of those benchmark acceptances. I'm both thrilled and a bit shocked. One of my beloved stories--stories I like too much for their own good--"48 Years", has been picked up by MsLexia! It's a big deal for me. I mean, important people read MsLexia. More important than me, anyway.

So, I've been wandering around trying to adjust my surroundings to accommodate my enormous head which keeps knocking over the furniture. They had me fill out a questionnaire thingy even. I'm getting stuff in the mail from England. Whoo-weee! They'll be talking about me almost as much as they did with my Japanese admirer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I had to go into Newport today to get an MRI of my back. Not that they'll be able to do anything if they see something. I told them that. But I think it will make them feel better if they do find something. But I was in at the crack of dawn to be pushed through the thwunk-thwunk machine. I don't know why those damn things are so loud. It's like they are crashing cars or something inside there. And the stupid tubes. They must construct those tubes in some country where people are much smaller than we are. I felt sausagey. Polska Kielbasa-ey.

So, I took the laptop with me because I knew I was going to be in town all day. I'm getting therapy for the PTSD I've been suffering from the September asshattery of Newport Baptist Hospital's ER. Anyway--the appointment was late in the day. Spent part of the day at the library--would have spent the entire time there if not for their no laptops policy--I know--nuts, considering the tech they are afraid of is on every cell phone and blackberry now.

So I end up at Bojangles working on the novel. Most places, you'd end up at an internet cafe or some trendy spot. I'd die of self-consciousness in one of those places. Somebody is always working on a damn novel and they can't wait for you to ask what they are doing so they can say, "I'm working on my novel. It's about...." Argh! In the Newport, TN Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits, there's absolutely no danger of that happening. None, whatsoever. I was a bit embarrassed the laptop was so dirty. I gave it a good cleaning when I got home.

Weave Magazine picked up one of my stories for their second issue. I really like the look of this new journal. They are out of Pittsburgh--where I narrowly missed settling. Had I decided to go to CMU for my MFA, I might be there now. Instead of wondering what my next starring role in Appalachian Emergency Room might be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dogs: Wet and Dry
A Collection of Canine Flash Fiction

If you were planning to send a story in, the deadline is December 1--so get writing. There's a partial list of contributors on the Dogs: Wet and Dry site. You can also follow how the anthology is shaping up on the Dogs: Wet and Dry blog.

I'm really excited since the dog thing has always been a big, big part of my life. The story I've got in there is called Lulu and Jules, about a teenage boy and his seizure alert/service dog. All breeds and everything in between will be represented given the wide range of really amazing writers contributing to this book. It's going to be great! This is definitely a book you are going to want. I'll let you know when it is coming out so you can pre-order a copy.

The chapbook is sort of done. It's longer than most chapbooks at 11,600 words--which means I'll need to cut it down to enter it in contests. But I don't know if I really want to do that. I've been having a bit of difficulty with the name--so far I've been playing with Exile to Shaconage and The Exiles of Shaconage. Yes? No? Shaconage is the Cherokee word for the Smokies that means "land of blue smoke".

Monday, November 10, 2008

One of my favorite stories I've written this past year, Where Saturniides Fall Into the Sky, went live on Night Train this morning. Please read it! I'm very proud of it--it's one of my insect inspired stories--and has a nice dose of Southern Gothic for a soupçon of creepy.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I loves Keyhole Magazine!

Again--I find myself in the company of some of the most amazing literary talent out there. When Peter Cole asked me to contribute, I warned him I had dreadful handwriting. But I was a pretty good doodler. I totally didn't know it was going to be in color, though!

Anyway, I have a little drabble in this issue called, "Spell Shop".

Go ahead and preorder your copy HERE!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It was the year my grandfather died, I was in a school bus accident and I got a rare case of stress related stomach ulcers--rare because I was ten. Parochial school will do that to you. The windows of the second floor school building looked out onto a side street that was most often blocked off and one of those creaking, gently decaying Savannah mansions--abandoned during those days. I remember day dreaming, looking at that old house. My mother told stories of how that house had been quarantined one summer. Big posters warned everyone away. My grandmother became obsessive about literally laundering money--washing all the money that came in to remove the polio cooties. It was a polio summer and no one could go swimming.

While I lazily thought about this--ignoring the mysteries of prepositions which had thus far eluded me--inviting the nun to cuff me on the back of the head (ergo the stomach ulcers), Margaret sat behind me unplaiting and plaiting my hair. She'd get it just so--then undo it and start all over again. We had these old fashioned desks that were connected and had actual ink wells in them. The ghosts of miserable students past clung to those old desks and when I lifted my desk to gather my notebooks, I could smell the fear so much like my own mixed with beeswax. Evil Irish nuns smelled of altars, incense and bitter potpourri. Poor little Anthony, the tiniest boy in class, but also the most chatty, had knuckles like a bare fisted fighter that entire year.

Margaret was black in the way I miss so much here in Tennessee where skin is usually coffee and cream or burnished red. I miss the Lowcountry and the lush darkness, the shiny, tactile glow of West African roots. She and I were just kids--bright kids--and I fancied her my best friend. Her nervous handling of my long, white girl hair, spread out on her desktop, calmed her as much as it calmed me, I think.

I asked if I could bring Margaret home for the weekend for a sleepover. Permission was denied when my parents found out Margaret was black.


"It's just not done."

I pressed the matter as far as I dared but lost that battle. Margaret and I drifted apart through the years. She was always so much smarter than I was, but argumentative and on the debate team--in my heart's dreamscape I imagine her as a lawyer. I don't really know what happened to her after high school--but I think she would be a judge or someone very important by now. Definitely someone more important and accomplished than me.

The truth is racism exists in the South much like the stain of original sin. All of us, of a certain age have it. To deny that we don't is just stupid. Some of us are unrepentant, some of us deny we are racists and some, like me, are always wondering how things could be different and examining our selves for the hidden stain. We know it's there. We become hyper-aware of it, but at the same time, know we are completely clueless as to what it means to be a person of color in this country. It's very sad to me that the most profound advance I've achieved in my own quest to eradicate racism in my self--is the ability to say, "You know, you're right. I have absolutely zero point of reference for what it must be like to wear your beautiful skin--to exist in your culture."

I've seen how this played out in the election on Tuesday. Of course, the South went red. And there is absolutely no way to know how much of that was issue based and how much was driven by racism. Things are very snarled in that respect. I'm sure there were quite a few of my fellow Dems who voted McCain because they had problems with Obama's skin color. I'm pretty sure they would deny that, too.

I think what has excited me the most was how the vote broke down by ages. The younger generations are indeed making headway. All this ugliness we white Southerners have been toting around with us is fading. That's so exciting to me. To think that a South where people could stop lugging around the chains of hatred is in our grasp in a few generations. And I have this crazy elated hope that the Obama presidency will jumpstart that--that it will serve as the river baptism that will sweep all of that ugliness downstream.

Oh...yesterday's Newport Plain Talk--after the most historic election in anyone's lifetime placed the article about Obama's landslide victory below the fold at the very very bottom of the page in a teeny tiny article you had to turn to page 3 to finish reading. Under an article about how Cocke County overwhelmingly voted for McCain--but Eddie Yokley of course won his seat, despite being a Dem. Cause he's a damn nice guy and shows up.

But that doesn't have anything to do with racism, because today I saw a bumper sticker that said "TN is for Jesus, Not Obama." And Jesus was another fine, upstanding man of color--so, if He was running, TN definitely would have elected Jesus--dark skin or no.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Okay, so I've been not very good about updating my blog. Exactly a week ago I sat down to write and my back has been stuck there ever since--in not a good way. So--back problems. But just normal debilitating back problems like everyone else seems to get, have surgery for and pain management. Not my hugely more serious problem with the bleeding and the screaming that the east Tennessee medical community takes such great pleasure in observing and doing nothing about (yes, I'm still bitter, angry and litigious.).

Gorgeous East Tennessee--Where the kid you knew who pulled the wings off flies, blew up ants with magnifying glasses, set fire to kitten's tails, then ended up killing the neighbor's pets while playing "doctor", but nonetheless grew up to be a physician comes to practice medicine. Because watching people suffer intractable pain is just so damn fun and isn't it jolly when they blow their brains out?

Yeah. You can expect me to trash talk the medical community until I either get out of here or monkeys fly out of my butt or something.

Anyway, I'm back to not being able to sit for long periods of time and am unable to lift things or rise from a sitting position. This is a problem because I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. This is where 125,000 people all over the world get together and individually write 50,000 words--or a novel. I didn't get my outline done so I just started into a spec piece I had floating around. You'd like it. It's an Appalachian speculative fiction piece--sort of like one of the stories I did last October. But better, of course, because I'm writing so much leaner these days. I'm already behind on my word counts--only 3000 give or take. But I think many people are just cranking out words as fast they can, and because I've been writing flash, I'm very sparing with my words.

Friend Scott calls last night and breaks my heart spewing nonsense contrary to all of my careful indoctrination of him in the Democratic Party. I'm hoping he doesn't go all Bradley Effect on me today. Scott starts talking about how if all the people who own horses at the barn where he works for eight dollars an hour (shoveling horse poop, taking care of the horses, driving trailers of the horses to horse shows, managing the barn, sleeping with the horses--basically doing all of the labor they'd usually hire six illegal aliens to do) get their taxes raised that he'll lose his job. I mean, does he honestly think any of those rich people will give a moment's thought to exchanging "Scott the Horse Poop Shoveler" for "Juan the Horse Poop Shoveler"? In the same breath, he tells me about seeing this old guy in his late 70's working as a groom and how the guy said he'd have to work until he dropped dead because they'd never taken any SS out for him so he couldn't ever afford to retire and at least he had Medicaid now. Scott doesn't want to be that person, he says. I don't want Scott to be that person, either.

Anyway, it's just one thing that never made sense to me. I didn't fall for the whole reasoning of why oil and prices where rising and their justification for their profits being through the roof. I never fell for the reasons we supposedly went to Iraq. I don't believe the so-called "bailout" is going to do a lick of good. And I certainly, have never fallen for the concept of "trickle down" economics. It sounds like being peed upon--which is exactly what it is. Scott's too good for that--we all are. We need our middle class back.

But I'm getting ready to grab my cane and head out to vote now. I expect all of you to do so as well. Get out there and be a citizen!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I have a micro short up on Tuesday Shorts called The Watchmaker's Lover. It's 50 words. It's very very short. Read The Man Whose Home is a Bench by Eva Eliav and Farm Wars by Nathan Key while you are there. I'm particularly charmed by Farm Wars because there's a goat in it.

I love Tuesday Shorts because it's so playful. It features only stories 100 words and under. They took my drabble, Gracie's Mom, so this is the second piece they've graciously accepted from me. Link

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The ladybugs swarmed today. There's something like this that happens in the spring--little airborne motes swirl in the air. There's something lazily magical about both of these days of the year. The light is golden and the touch of the wind--which surely must be there from all of the air movement--is invisible, unfelt. While this dance goes on all day, it is particularly in those fifteen minutes before light is completely lost that the impact is most forceful, most beautiful. During that fifteen minutes, the longing to fly with them is so strong, it takes your breath away. The ladybugs swarmed today and I watched. But I watched from indoors because having them all over you isn't that fun. They have a really funky smell, you know?

You know what strikes me oddly? The fact that the newspaper runs announcements of when and where the state highway patrol is setting up and conducting roadblocks. They'll be on Big Creek Road next week. Am I the only one who finds this counterproductive? It would seem to me the highway patrol would call the paper and say, "Hey, dudes...cut us a break here while we are trying to catch the bad guys." And it would seem the paper would say, "Oh...we get it. Our bad."

At any rate, if you are planning to drive drunk or use your suspended license ix nay on driving on Big Creek next week. It was in the paper. M'kay?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potato Pie

Remember I was telling you about that amazing sweet potato dish I had at the Hall Reunion? Someone asked me to try to put it together and I did just that--but made a few changes. The idea is the same but I made it into a pie with a caramel oat nut crunch crust. I don't have a name for it. It's a Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potato Pie--we'll just call it that for now. I made it all just using the food processor--though I'm sure if I tried I could dirty up many more dishes.

Here's how I made it:

6 medium to medium-large sweet potatoes
1 and 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 cups of quick oatmeal
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of plain sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
1 can of Duncan Hines Coconut-Pecan frosting/cake filling
1 and a half cups of sweetened angelflake coconut

1. On the night before making, bake 6 medium to medium-large sweet potatoes. Choose the sort with more orange-red color.

2. In your food processor, mix 1 stick of unsalted butter, 2 cups of quick oatmeal, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of plain sugar with a pinch of salt. Use 2/3rds of this mixture to press into the pie pan for the sugar crust. Set the other 1/3 aside.

3. Puree/Mix in the food processor 2 eggs, sweet potatoes, juice of 2 lemons, 1/2 cup brown sugar, white sugar to taste. (Mixture should be sweet--if you have a preferred sweet potato pie filling recipe--feel free to use that. There will be some left-over) Spread into pie pan, almost but not quite to the top--leave about a half to 3/8ths of an inch.

4. Pour the contents of 1 can of Duncan Hines Coconut-Pecan frosting/cake filling into a small bowl. (If you can't find this, it is the filling used in German Chocolate cake for the layers--you can find recipes for it and make it fairly simply. Getting the ready to use makes this an easy recipe, though) Mix into this 1 and a half cups of sweetened angelflake coconut. Then spread on top of the sweet potato mixture very gently.

5. Sprinkle with the remaining oat buttercrunch mixture. Dot generously with butter and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Give this a try and I'll bet you'll want to use it for your Thanksgiving table. I'm sure it will freeze well so you can make this way ahead of time. This is a very rich dessert and it might help to serve it with some whipped cream. You may also garnish it with pecan halves for a festive look.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My house smells of brown sugar and vinegar, spices and fruit. It's an old smell that belongs with crocheted antimacassars, mahogany furniture blackened with tung oil and the back of my great aunt's washstand. It belongs on a table covered in linen--the damask kind with a sheen like oil on water, ghost colors rising to the surface of starched white. It belongs with a silver dish and a uselessly ornate silver server that strains the liquid from mysterious fruit, no longer recognizable.

My house smells of chutney--winter rice dishes, ploughmen's lunches and a colonial past.

I'll need to get some sharp cheese.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm a writing fool for the next five days doing a Zoetrope mini flashathon. Only five days, but hey! I need pushes like that now and again. I seem to write my best material under duress. I wrote a creepy cat lady story called The Ears of the Dead today.

I meant to write last night but found myself tired, drifting off, so I set the alarm for early this morning to get up and write. However, I woke up to the mother of all nosebleeds. I think I lost a pint of blood through my nose over three hours. Called the hematologist who told me I'd need to apply pressure for freaking 20 to 30 minutes rather than five or ten. And if that didn't work then call the PCP and go in to have balloons or something stupid put up there. Anyway--ended up going to see the PCP thinking, crap, now I'm gonna waste the entire day catering to the stupid clotting disorder--but it stopped right as I got into town. Of course, if I hadn't called and gone in--it still would be bleeding. But I had to go in anyway because...

I'm making chutney and needed ingredients. Now that I've got my story out of the way, I can peel my apples and pears and prepare my spices. I'll leave it to cook on the warmer overnight. I may also work on recreating the amazing sweet potato thing I had at the Hall reunion. I've already got some ideas about changing it while keeping that yummy combination of sweet potato, coconut pecan icing and butternut crust. I'm thinking about combining the crumbly bottom and top of the wedding/date bar cookie with it. Make sort of a layered sweet potato bar thing. Be a good T-day sweets recipe.

And guess what!!! A guinea was in the yard today!!! So they weren't bobcat bait, just wandering as guineas do.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Checking in--

Just checking in. Haven't posted most of the week.

I've been having what I guess is a sort of post-traumatic stress reaction from last month's health crisis. I can't get it out of my head how brutal my doctors were. I have trouble sleeping because it keeps running over and over in my head. I have flashbacks of lying there in the living room by myself, screaming and bleeding. I feel like I should sue Newport Baptist Hospital for what they did to me. I can't seem to put it behind me and I'm, at the very least, going to have to write a nasty letter to the BOD and their parent company. It's taking large doses of amytriptiline to knock me out at night. I've got headaches from stopping my Plavix--the drug I was taking to protect my eyesight and prevent arterial clots but am now too terrified to take because I think it has something to do with those attacks. I'd rather go blind than have that happen again. I'm terrified since I was told I couldn't go to the emergency room anymore and that podunk hospital is the only place I can go to be stabilized--and they said they wouldn't treat me. The great irony being they call themselves "Mercy" partners--or something like that. Mercy being the furthest concern any of them. I can't trust anyone in the medical profession here. Everything that happened in 1997 is happening again and I'm afraid I won't be able to get out of here in time.

I remember how long it took me to stop being afraid the vacuum in my chest would fail again. Once you have that happen, you never forget it. This is just as bad. I'm walking around afraid all the time, because I know there isn't a soul who will help me in east Tennessee. I know it sounds crazy, but I think the doctors think I'm too much trouble and should just go ahead and die. I really think that sometimes--it's the logical thing to think. I really would like to stop being so angry about this, but it took 140 excellent doctors to get me past what they did to me in Columbia, SC at Richland Memorial Hospital. I now seem to be in the same cycle of crazy.

But...the writing is going really well. If I can survive the not so tender ministrations of east Tennessee's health industry, there's a good chance I'll have a novel published eventually. People really like my work and that is gratifying. I spend as much time as I can concentrating on that so I don't concentrate on the other thing.

I'm really excited about the elections coming up. Sad that my Republican friends are so angry and inaccessible right now--but you can't say anything without them jumping these days. It's as though I'm not entitled to my opinion without someone jumping all over me. Not that I'm the sort who goes around crowing about it--but I should be able to make an offhand statement without people getting their panties so twisted. But I do like Obama--so there. He's presidential. And I'm not asking for comments here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The place is jumping with wildlife this fall. Perhaps it's because the place has grown up so much now that I can't keep as many goats. I'm not sure, but yesterday I chased three big fat wild turkey hens down the mountain on the backside of the property. Then this morning, there were two whitetail does right in the driveway, just bold as brass. Mutton and Chops were leering at them like a couple of blinged up romeos on the make.

And just now, as I was typing away at a review, something slinked across the backyard. It was bigger or as big as Max. A bobcat--bold as brass. I went out on the back porch and she looked at me with that lynxy shorthair face--but bigger--their heads are really big. Anyway, she wasn't afraid of me at all. I left the camera in the car, unfortunately. But I guess that answers what happened to my guineas.

You have to register to comment here now. I've been getting visitors from Dumbfuckistan.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I've got a story for you today. Up the Staircase, an excellent new journal that is simply stunning visually, just released their fall issue and my story, Collectors, is included. I first spotted Up the Staircase over on EditRed when they published two emerging writers I had been following in their inaugural issue. Their second issue featured my old stomping grounds, Savannah, Georgia and the family cemetery, Bonaventure--so I couldn't resist sending them something.

I'm just about as impressed as I can be by their layout, photography and content. I'm sharing space with some fine writers so Collectors is in good company. I especially enjoyed Ashley McAtee's The Cashier--another flash fiction that had me in stitches. But read them all--they are all very fine stories and the featured poet, Rachel Custer, is fascinated by fainting goats and therefor must have excellent taste.

I'm sure you will love Collectors --a story dealing with a childhood lesson in larceny.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

One of my rare political posts.

So, this place where I live is redder than the ass of an overly "friendly" baboon. Really. I'm not the sort that needs to live in a liberal ghetto--it would be nice--but I like to mix it up a bit and can't afford to live in most liberal ghettos. The grocery bill alone at The Fresh Market would be prohibitive. I figured out that Republicans could be really nice people even if they think odd things and feel very strongly about those odd things. I'm sure they think the same thing about me.

Our State Representative, Eddie Yokley, is a heck of a nice guy. He's up for re-election this year. Eddie shows up for everything--even when he's not campaigning fast and hard. He's always there and does a really fine job for his constituents. I will certainly be voting for him. But Eddie's got a dirty little secret. He's a Democrat.

His phone minions called my house. Not subtle at all, asking me if I would be voting for Eddie or the other guy. I can't remember exactly the question, but it wasn't veiled at all.

"Eddie's a Democrat, right?" I asked.

Dead silence. Then, "Ummm....well. Yeah."

"Well, sure--I'm a yella dog, so of course I'll be voting for Eddie."

They perked up considerably after this and asked if I'd be willing to put a sign out on my property. I told them, sure, but weren't much but bears and deer could see it.

I shook his hand once at the Ramps Festival and mentioned I was a Democrat and I remember a certain furtiveness to the exchange.

I defy you to find a statement in his campaign literature or his website or even his Wikipedia entry as to the fact he is a Democrat. Even his flyers are all done in red rather than the proud blue we Dems usually fly on our literature--there is, after all, a reason they are called red or blue states. And his blurbs are Republican-y too.

The reason he wins here is because everyone knows him, likes him and he does his job well. Obviously, some slick campaign management people have decided he should at least look like he's Republican and never, under any circumstances, say the "D" word. Or write it. I just think it's pretty funny. They are like that here about gay people too. As long as no one admits to it or says anything about it--everything is hunky-dorey.

I'm not going to link to him since I've never been one to out people. It's just rude. Mum's the word, m'kay? But I think it would be awesome if Eddie would emerge out of a giant cake wearing a racy Democrat outfit when the world turns on its axis after these elections. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I'm so sorry I've missed so many days. I've just not been in the mood--I spend so much time writing stories now that I sort of blow my writing mojo on the stories. They are getting to you--but they are getting to you on a delay as they are accepted. Sorry about that. Things were so much simpler when I was just writing the stories here on the blog. Unfortunately--I can't get some of those published, excellent though they may be because I did develop them here.

Anyway, there's a wonderful new Appalachiastana/rural literature blogazine run by Rusty Barnes of Night Train fame. Who knew? Super literati uber-editor extraordinaire Rusty Barnes grew up in the sooty back hills of Pennsylvania. I have a piece up there now called Sister Hayes Takes Up a Serpent.

Sister Hayes is an ekphrasis flash--which is a piece of writing about another work of art or literature. The piece was inspired by Pastor Jimmy's Sister Hayes painting--one of his most striking works. Most over-edjumacated people recognize the kinship between Sister Hayes and St. Theresa of Avila, or at least Bernini's sculpture, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa. St. Therese, a mystic deeply involved in ecstatic religious states would have felt right at home in a signs-following service. My story is an exploration of the phenomenon called "the anointing".

Rusty is looking for new content for Fried Chicken and Coffee so if you have something along these lines:

Send me rural, funky, dirty stories about churchgoing women who never sin. I'd like to read that. What about the story I lived, the one where the kid moves away and goes to college and becomes a writer, and until he's thirty, his male relatives hitch their drawers and ask him when he's going to be out of school? Except don't write about writing. I don't care much, since I live it. I would love to see more stories about women, though. Get to the grit, get to the love, show me the scars, and take Harry Crews to heart: "Blood, bone, and nerve, that's fiction. Show me the stuff that cuts to the quick."
...send it on in--after reading the guidelines 'natchurly.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I think this bailout plan is especially hard for Appalachian folk to accept and wrap their heads around. The farmers can probably understand it, because they depend on credit--though the farmers I know are pretty pissed. But your average folks live hand to mouth for the most part in the Appalachians. They have very creative ways of making money here. I recently wrote a story called The Moss Gatherers that features the wildcrafting culture. Entire families make their living from gathering moss, trillium bulbs, gensing, ramps--anything they can find in the woods. They even go around buying boxwood clippings. It's really why the Park has such strict rules about picking plants. They aren't worried about you nabbing a few leaves to press--they are after the gatherers poaching entire stands of gensing or ramps. Stripping the forest of mosses and trilliums. All that craft moss has to come from somewhere and it usually comes from this mountain range.

So. People who make their living this way, only buying things when they have money, living in a purely cash economy, are mighty pissed off about the bailout. Because they don't connect that the grocer needs credit to buy food--our entire economy runs off of it. The world runs off of it.

It seems weird to me, too. I've never been particularly credit worthy having spent the majority of my life in the arts. It's why I try to convince young people going into the arts to do something else for a living. Keep the arts as your bliss, because once you try to make a living from it, it ruins it.

So, people are already calling it The Great Depression of 2008. We all may be out there gathering moss.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Have two stories that came out today for you. Both of these are a bit different in their own way from stories I’ve done before. Both stories involve gender bending. I didn’t know they would both come out on the same day—that was entirely serendipitous.

Mr. Black Takes a Sunbath on Insolent Rudder

The first is on Insolent Rudder and is entitled Mr. Black Takes a Sun Bath.

Judy's got her arms outstretched atop
Wonder the Rocking Spring Horse saying "Look at me, look at me!" The springs groan and squeak.

I glare from beneath my bangs. She's bouncing too hard and she's too heavy for Wonder anyway. I'd wanted to name him Silver, but she won because it said Wonder right on the box.
This story is set in the south during the 1960's and has cultural references very specific to that period in time.
I know you will enjoy Mr. Black.

Queerer than Me on Thieves Jargon

The second one of these on Thieves Jargon has racy/salty language, adult situations and involves a subculture some might find distasteful. Not surprising it was accepted since Thieves Jargon looks for work that is “… edgy and impulsive and not necessarily informed by experience. We're interested in stories about drifters and dreamers finding beauty in things they never thought they would.”

What I’m trying to say is, don’t read this story if you are easily offended and don’t think your beloved Rosie would ever use a cuss word. I can write badass. Absolutely. I have unplumbed depths, dammit. My writing has range.

Now that I’ve warned you, I’m sure the most timid of you will now rush over to Thieves Jargon to be thoroughly scandalized. You may console yourself by calling me a fiction writer and believing I couldn't possibly know people like that. Right?

Queerer than Me.

In other news...I got a personal package from Japan yesterday. Bet you're dying to know what was in it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I spent today at the vet with Fat Buddy, my hospice case/alterego. He woke up with a really bad tummy yesterday morning--animals never get sick on a weekday. Heck--I don't get sick on weekdays. He sort of went downhill from there and was running a temp of 103.5 by the afternoon. He wasn't eating or drinking. He wasn't even interested in food, which terrifies me. He doesn't have that name for nothing. I started him on his clindamycin.

So, this morning he drinks and the water is red with blood. We got in to see the vet this afternoon and he's got this growth in his mouth. It's really big, but only attached by a tiny bit of skin and it's got to come out. They are talking doing more dental work while they are in there. It's going to be in the 500 dollar range--after I declined other stuff that drove the estimate between 650 and 800.

So. I need to mount a fundraiser for F.B. again. You might remember the Doggie Dental Begathon from last October. You can see hilarious Fat Buddy piccies and read his story there. One rescue picked up his entire dental last year, which was a godsend. I need to raise some funds--at least half--to get this done for him. The idea is to make his life as comfortable as possible and I don't know how to do that without removing this growth. I'm syringing water and pureed food into him for the time being. He had a ground beef and cottage cheese smoothie this evening. What I could get into him anyway. I'm just so exhausted from everything that's been going on with my own health, it's sort of overwhelming. I really love this dog. Sorry. I'm sort of a mess right now.

I'm conferencing with my vet this Wednesday--we saw her new associate who I didn't know today. I'm wondering if we just need to let Fat Buddy go. I went ahead and set the appointment for next Tuesday, because I have to get that thing removed for him.

So, any donations coming through the blog will be going directly to Fat Buddy. If you'd prefer to donate directly to my vet, here are her particulars:

Dr. Sandra O'Connor, DVM
Cedarwood Veterinary Hospital
101 Hedrick Dr., Newport, TN 37821

Just reference "Rosie Griffeth's Fat Buddy".

And remember, I'm also the artist behind Angel Dogs. So any commissions I accept will be going toward Fat Buddy's treatment. Or I can write something for you!

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Rosanne Griffeth employs potent visceral language to create the emotional energy driving her four short-shorts. The characters in Griffeth’s stories, while often gritty and mean and stubborn, are also hurt and lonely and capable of tenderness."

My head is getting so enormous, I need a wheelbarrow to lug it around in. My experimental piece about eating disorders and childhood obesity, Because Magicicadas Have No Mouths, got picked up by Pank today. That will be coming out in print in January of next year. I'm doing so well with my acceptances that Duotrope has decided to ignore all of my data because I seem to have an unrealistic acceptance rate.

It's a drizzly cool day here on the mountain. I like days like this with how moist the air is. It feels like drinking cold milk. I put up more pears this morning. I left them to simmer on the back of the stove all night so they were nice and translucent this morning. I woke up to the smell of lemons, ginger and pears. It's a beautiful smell. Like someone's grandmother who wears vanilla extract or orange flower water as a perfume. It's a smell that cries out for lace and crocheted antimacassars.

I must start writing new material. The illness, pain and my bitterness about my treatment threw me. I expect a spate of evil Tennessee doctor stories will soon emerge. Tennessee, thus far, has an unusually high ratio of prickish m.d.'s. Most of my work that has been accepted came out of the July flashathon on Zoetrope. I have really fine pieces still circulating, but I need to get back into the swing of dividing my time between subbing, editing and new work. Perhaps now that I'm not spending as much time mad with pain, like a dog contemplating chewing its leg off, I can once again focus on my work.

I am shell shocked by the $700,000,000,000 bail-out thing. Are we all not saying WTF?! And the thing is, I have so little confidence in the truthfulness of anything our government says that I don't believe for one moment it will work. It just seems like a last ditch effort to pay off big business--one last hurrah--before Bush, Cheney & Assoc. leave office.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm tired.

I continue to be overrun with fritillaries. They are everywhere and depending on which variety they are, they will be plentiful through October. And I saw a monarch the other day.

I've been so tired this entire week, it's been hard for me to post. I'm still healing from this latest insult to my health and I thought I was over the hump, but the hip and knee are really being attacked by the lupus right now. I'm getting around better, though. The human body and mind are pretty incredible in the ability to adjust to new "normalities".

I went into town today to pick up my new interlibrary loan book and got my oil changed. I've had a slow leak in one of my tires and they fixed the stem for me. You evidently can't get your tire fixed anymore. I'm sure there are places still doing it--you know, plugging them?--anyway, they told me they couldn't do that but were able to adjust the stem.

I stopped off at Pear Lady's for a visit. She has been attending the Judge Bell trial. They wrapped that up Monday. I think the upshot was that he is not allowed to set family members up in businesses that are attached to his position as a judge. I'm not entirely sure how that works, but Cocke county has been on a sort of "Boss Hogg" system of doing business for a long time. It works just fine for everyone here, but it's illegal as all get out for the rest of the country. They should just go ahead and secede.

But Pear Lady sent me home with pears, so I have a batch on the stove to can. I'm out of pint jars so I'm just going to put up quarts. Everyone loves these so much that a pint isn't really enough anyway--and the pears are so plentiful this year. I have another friend with a sand pear tree that's loaded down and those haven't started coming in yet. They really are best for these preserves because sand pears don't bust when they fall from the tree like these sweet pears do. Pear Lady's tree is dropping these huge pears at this point but they are busting open.

Everyone has been really sweet to me while I've been sick. All of my writer friends sent me nice cards and things. My friend Sean sent me a wonderful collection of flash fictions, bookmarks and a lovely piece of her original art. Her daughter sent me an anime angel she drew--that is so going on my fridge!

Thanks, everyone, for being nice to me while I've been so out of it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Very pleased that The Hostage of Uncle Esad found a home on Six Little Things. Six Little Things features six stories by six writers under 250 words.

Go check it out!

six bricks press

was founded by Bard Cole in the Spring of 1994 in an apartment on Avenue C in New York City's East Village as the imprint name for his handcrafted chapbooks and photocopied "'zines." Sixbrickspress.com has been online since 2005 featuring Six Little Things, an online publication that spotlights the prose poem and short-short story, and in particular work that rests most comfortably in the fusion of those two genres. Developing plans may include a print publication in the near future.

The online literary webmagazine, "Six Little Things," features short prose writing and is published quarterly. Each themed issue features the work of six writers as well as a featured visual artist.

Bard Cole is the author of Briefly Told Lives (St. Martin's Press) and a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Alabama. Write to him via editor(at)sixbrickspress.com

Friday, September 19, 2008


Lafcadio Hearn collected a Japanese folktale about the soul of a man's beloved who visits him as he nears death in the form of a butterfly.

I let my thistles grow tall. You never know when someone's beloved might need a spot to light upon as the darkness grows near.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

and no one sees it--are you really hurt?

I’ve been trying to analyze—make some sort of sense as to why my medical team has been perfectly happy to have me suffer in ways they would be appalled to see their own family members, friends or loved ones suffer. After all, if we thought a physician was letting their mother, sister, aunt, daughter suffer the way I have, then we would think them some sort of monster. We’d report them to the authorities. We’d make an outcry in some public forum. Wouldn’t we? We certainly wouldn’t trust our own healthcare or our loved one’s to them. Would we?

Much of this has to do with the Byzantine attitudes surrounding pain management here at ground zero for the hillbilly Heroin epidemic. I had to do a great deal of research into this for P & D. Scott was a wonderful resource, being in recovery for many years, but still knowing the ins and outs of how this underworld works. I remember him relating to me how addicts obtained scripts. They are very good at it, evidently—unlike me and probably unlike most valid pain patients. Scott said a friend went with him and they walked out with a script for 120 Vicodin. He told me who all of the local doctors were who had the reputation of being good “drug” doctors. I actually avoided going to one of them for a while because I didn’t want to be associated with a “drug” doctor.

But having someone with you seems to be the key. Having an advocate. They don’t really care about the patient’s pain—but they do care about noisy pissed-off relatives being kept awake by the patient’s moaning and screaming. And, of course, the addicts know this. But a person like me, who has to advocate for myself, often sounding crazy because I’m in so much pain, just ends up being ignored or labeled as “drug seeking”. The doctors seem quite sadistic and often very gleeful about finding a loner they can bully.

“Why should I help you when your own doctors won’t even help you?” the little ER doctor asked me.

What can I say to this? It’s not my fault little-miss-country-mouse-G.P.-never-set-foot-out–of-Tennessee grossly misrepresented everything I said, repeatedly lost my records, accused me of not giving her records and assassinated my character as a patient. That I was labeled as “drug seeking” because I indeed asked for help, rather than waiting for the doctor to get a clue? (Because they never, ever get a clue.)

So, they keep freely handing out drugs to addicts to keep the underground cash cow economy ticking right along. Patting themselves on the back each time they deny a valid pain patient they have labeled for their convenience. Makes them feel like they are doing something and can point out to the DEA that they do deny some people. All the better if it is an “outsider” without noisy intrusive family members.

Something very similar happened to me in Columbia, S.C. There, they decided to pretend nothing wrong with me. Same sort of deal—me advocating for myself. I ended up in a coma and had a six month hospitalization. I remember, shortly after my family (oh, yes—I do have one—and quite ferocious they are at times!) came to town to arrange for my transport, the craven rheumatologist sent his partner in to try to convince me it wasn’t their fault. I remember lying there with a 105 degree fever listening to his oiliness and thinking—what manner of slime mold is this?

I can’t drive through Columbia without having a panic attack.

I’m afraid I’m getting the same sort of feeling about Tennessee doctors. I have a general all-encompassing opinion that they are either cowards or sadists. They absolutely do not care about my wellbeing—and I now have a useless left leg to prove it.

So, obviously, in Tennessee, if a tree falls on you in the forest and nobody sees it—there’s nothing wrong with you. Your crushed pelvis can heal itself because you won’t get any help here. Walk it off.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Still here

Still alive.

So, I'm not on the computer much because I can't sit. About all I can do is lay on my back. I can't put any weight on my left leg--so I'm still in the clothes I wore to the hospital. I can't make it up the stairs to my closet. But the clothes washer is with me.

Essentially what happens is I get acute leg cramps that occur non-stop over a period of three days over the entire leg up to my waist. It's the sort of pain that really makes you want to cut yourself. Bash your head into concrete. Do an Earnest. It's the sort of pain much more humane doctors once put me in a coma so I wouldn't have to experience it. It breaks up and tears tissue in the process. If it isn't stopped by breaking the cycle then I'm looking at six to eight months of physical therapy to get my mobility back. Thanks to the Newport Baptist Hospital ER, I now have to use a walker and probably will be for months.

The stupid thing is, they stopped this cycle in the spring when I came in with the arm. So it wasn't like they didn't know what to do. This little sadistic prick just wanted flaunt his iddy biddy bit of power around.

Anyway, I can't reply to many emails and stuff because I can only sit here for tiny bits of time. I did see a new doctor today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Just popping in to let you guys know P & D will be postponed.

I spent last night in the ER. Two shots of morphine did nothing. Pain so bad I'm nauseous. And--self-important little prick of an ER doc sent me home with nothing except a lecture about how the ER was for acute cases and since none of my doctors would give me anything for pain, he wasn't going to.

Will spend the rest of this weekend avoiding suicide. It weighs on my mind constantly now. My left leg is a dead weight.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thanks to a "love offering" to the blog from one of you fabulous folks, I was able to get to town today to get some sugar. Pear Lady was not at home and I should have called first, but you can't get off the phone with Pear Lady in under two hours. Pear Lady is really sweet, but she has OCD and has a tendency to spell words, apropo of nothing, in the middle of the conversation. It's like speaking to someone using ASL--but who spells out all the letters rather than signing them. She keeps notes on everything going decades back and often has to stop to find them for reference. So, I'll do elderberry jelly.

So. There is a gas shortage in east Tennessee thanks to the hurricane. The gas stations have taken this opportunity to raise prices back to 4 dollars a gallon. It's not like we aren't ever going to have mid-grade and high-test again ever, ever. And suddenly, gasoline is the new white bread.

What do I mean by that? Well, in South Carolina, when a big blow, ice storm or hurricane came that we weren't evacuating for, everyone rushes to the store to buy all the white bread. I'm not sure why. It wasn't like we wouldn't have white bread ever again--at worst we might go a week. Who eats four loaves of white bread in a week? And in the South, we use white bread as a sort of edible napkin for barbecue and sloppy joes. It's like we are anticipating losing all sense of decorum and smearing food all over our faces just because there was a big storm. Or we will run out of napkins and will need the white bread as backup.

And no. Whole wheat or anything slightly brown or tan won't do at all. It has to be the stuff that sticks to the roof of your mouth. It is a mark of great shame to ride out a storm with only Roman Meal.

So, I'm sitting in the gas line waiting for a turn at the pump. I haven't seen gas lines like this since the 1970's. I can hear my father's ghost raging about conspiracies and Big Oil. How the greedy bastards have us "over a barrel". How that ridiculous supply and demand excuse doesn't jibe with the absurd profits the oil companies are making. It's just an excuse to print money, he'd say.

Of course, the car in front of me is driven by a sweet old dear who needs the car keys taken away. She wears cataract glasses and she's eighty if she's a day. I have to honk to get her to move when the line moves, because cars are cutting in line left and right. She's a danger to our queue. She's sort of deaf because it takes a while for her to register she is being honked at. Her head pops up and she stares around--looking for where that vague noise came from. When she gets to the pump, it takes her a long time to get out of her nice new car--literally driven by an old lady--and she stares at the pump like it's a talking dog.

The guy behind me has worked himself into a fine lather of road rage. I nervously check my rear view window and see him banging his fists on the steering wheel and slapping his forehead with the palm of his hand. His lips move like he's in a Godzilla movie with the sound muted. I don't think he's saying, "Look! It's Mothra, Mother!"

The little old lady realizes she's left her credit card in her purse and slowly toddles to her car door. She needs to get completely in the car to retrieve it.

The guy behind me in now bashing his forehead into his steering wheel.

Finally someone comes to her rescue and helps her select her grade--the only grade available and puts the hose in her gas tank. This is normally something I'd do, but my left hip has immobilized my leg and I walk like Quasimodo--but a lot slower. Plus, somebody has to keep an eye on the guy behind me--he's now rifling around in the floorboards of his passenger seat and I'm hoping its not for his gun. I might be called upon to reason with him. "Look, capping the old lady's not going to get you to the pump any faster. " It's best I save my strength for talking crazy guy down.

Finally, she finishes pumping the gas with her tremoring hands. I breathe a sigh of relief and the guy behind me looks excited like he's going to bust. She sits in her car at the pump for an entire minute. I don't know what she's doing in there. Mysterious old lady things, no doubt. Stuff they don't tell you about until you hit 75. Then she pulls up just far enough that I can't take my space at the pump. Crazy gas station rage guy gesticulates wildly and his mouth flaps.

It's when she has finally pulled away that I notice it. Bright yellow and brand spanking new. A freaking Hummer H2 has pulled up to fill its obscene tank in the middle of a gas shortage. I ask you, who in their right mind buys Hummer's anymore? Everyone's eyes are drilling into the driver, who has been foolish enough to waive the tinted windows. We totally can see him and he looks like a country music star wannabe. He thinks he's cool. We are all thinking the same thing--that asshole is going to drain all the gas at this station, just you watch.

The guy behind me is digging in the floorboards again. If he goes for the Hummer, I probably won't stop him. In fact, I'm wondering what I have in my car I can use as a weapon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thems some of the pears I canned. I'm going to do more as soon as I get some gas money to go get some more sugar and pears. I think Pear Lady may still have them coming down--her tree was so loaded that she lost a huge branch out of the center. I'll visit her next Wednesday regardless.

Anyway...I've gotten 8 acceptances in the past ten day--two of them very prestigious and prompted me to yelp in an unprofessional manner and dance with the dogs when they came in. So, keeping up with the business end of the writing has been taking more time. Some of my best pieces are now off the market and I have to finish polishing others to add to the queue. I finally wrote the Dogs of Ashekelon story. It's really good and I think it is going to get snapped up very quickly.

The air conditioning unit remains busted. I've been waiting for six weeks for this guy to come fix it and I'm guessing that, despite his assurances (they lie like dogs here) that he will not be coming. I moved the futon couch into the living room because I've destroyed my left hip sleeping on the sofa.

My birthday is next week. Tuesday. I think I'm going to be 47. Does anyone else have a hard time remembering how old they are? Or am I just weird that way? I have to pull out the calculator to figure it out most of the time. I thought I'd done 47 already.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I've officially moved downstairs for the time being--until the guy comes to fix the AC or the first freeze--whichever comes first. I can't sleep up there in the heat with the door closed and if I leave it open, the giant hornets come in the bedroom.

I go up to bed the other night and they were everywhere, swarming all over the lights, in the bathroom--it was like a horror movie. And it was an insomnia night where I'd finally gotten the urge to sleep at 4 a.m. It called for drastic measures. I went down and got the big vacuum cleaner with the hose attachment. Then I had to suck them out of the air. They are so big that they can fly against the suction so you have to hit them just right to pull them out of the air. All the while the rest of them are buzzing around like hummingbirds. I vacuumed 15 of them out of the bedroom. So. I give up. I'm downstairs on the couch where it's cool. The upstairs is now closed off.

Next place I live--fewer types of wasps and hornets please.

I have a big chuck of Porn and Donuts for you today. You'll see why--there's a gag that I can't break up. And this is the end of the bit I have written. So from here on out--The HOT Light will be on--all new, all hot, all steaming fresh Porn and Donuts.


“So who’s your friend?” Lucius growled through a mouthful of doughnut.

Kellie looked at him in warning.

“So is this your cousin?” The cop asked, looking at Lucius.

Lucius poured more sugar into his coffee, shredding the packets open. He was up to six at this point. He picked up his spoon and rattled it around in his cup.

“Yes!” Kellie said as she directed a surreptitious kick to Lucius’ calf. “Luke, this is our cousin Jack. He’s related to us through Uncle Jimmy’s second wife’s nephew’s son. You know, the one who calls square dances?”

Lucius looked blankly at her. First, because she had called him “Luke” and secondly, because he had no idea what she was talking about. He was concerned she identified this cop as a cousin.

“Hi, I’m Jack Hensley." He laughed. "I don’t get it either how the womenfolk keep track of who’s related to who.”

Lucius gave a small shrug and finished off the rest of his doughnut. He took a slug of coffee to wash it down. He realized he had used too much sugar, but he did not want anyone to notice. Some of it splashed in the white saucer when he slammed the cup down.

“Hey, Luke,” Kellie turned to him saying, “Jack here says there was a robbery down the street and get this--they made off in a Krispy-Kreme truck. Isn’t that a hoot?”

Lucius stuck one of the apple-filled in his mouth to give him time to think. The cinnamon and powdered sugar stuck to his upper lip and the hot filling burnt his tongue. He dropped his head and looked at the cop from the corner of his eye.

“Yeah, the dispatcher said this idiot had a blow-up sex doll attached to him.” Jack laughed. “That’s not something you see every day,” he sniped.

Lucius’ face flushed with anger and embarrassment. He poured out half of the too sweet coffee into his saucer and waved the waitress over to top his cup up.

“Yeah, well, maybe there was a reason. Like maybe he couldn’t help it. You know, he mighta planned it that way.”

Kellie gave him her “shut up” look.

Jack cocked his head, frowning at Lucius. “You think?”

Lucius pushed his plate of doughnuts away. He was pissed at Kellie for chatting this cop up. “Have you got the money? I’m going to go ahead and pay the bill.”

Kelly pulled a few bills from her pocket and handed them to Lucius. “Here you go. But I’m going to finish my coffee before we go.”

“Fine.” Lucius stood abruptly. He started to move around Kellie’s stool, but his foot had become tangled in the strap of her duffle bag. He scrambled to gather his balance but sprawled across the black and white floor, sliding across the slick surface. The bag followed him as far as it could, before hanging on Kellie’s footrest. The zipper broke open from the strain and a few fat wads of bills spilled onto the floor.

Kellie looked down and said, “Oops.”

Officer Jack Hensley knelt to retrieve the bag before he registered what he was seeing. When he did, he looked up and locked eyes with Lucius.

Kellie’s foot connected with Officer Jack’s forehead shoving him off balance. He tumbled back on his butt. Lucius scooted backwards on his rear and Kellie jumped to her feet, heaving the bag up on her shoulder.

“Lucius--get up and run!” she yelled.

Jack reached for his taser. Lucius feared he was going for his service revolver.

“Kellie, go!” Lucius staggered to his feet.

Jack pulled the taser from his belt and pointed it at Lucius. Kellie lifted the duffle bag and brought it down on the cop's head at the same moment he fired the taser. The probes missed Lucius, sinking instead into the cop’s thigh and calf. Jack floundered and jerked on the floor and the weapon fell from his hand.

Kellie picked up Lucius’ bag from under his stool and threw it to him. She hopped over the prone cop and sprinted to the door. She turned and hissed at Lucius, “Come on!”

Everyone in the shop stared at them, their eyes wide and frightened.

“Yeah, well,” Lucius said, pointing at the twitching cop, “that’s not something you see every day, is it?”

He made a small salute to the people in the shop and joined Kellie in the parking lot.

"Okay, let's get out of here." She said scanning the vehicles parked there.

"Wait a minute." Lucius turned away from her and dashed back inside the shop.

He ran over to the cash register, stepping over the cop, and laid a hundred dollar bill on the counter.

“Keep the change.” He smiled crookedly at the waitress who remained frozen in the same spot, a coffee pot in her hand. Lucius turned and looked down into Jack’s eyes. He stabbed his finger at the cop. “You ain’t my damn cousin, Sport. And you know what? I think. I think a lot."

Friday, September 05, 2008

Click here to read Rumor Control: Chapter 1

The one blessing about Friend Scott being gone is that I no longer am made privy to the silly gossip and rumors circulated about me. And believe me, they are always ridiculous. One thing about the Appalachian culture in my area is their liquid interpretation of the concept of truth.

Case in point: two late elderly twin sisters that I've written about in the past lived with their 100-year old mother up here. Someone started a "fun" rumor that the girls were sewing money into the quilts they made. The fact was, they were using newsprint to stiffen the backings as they sewed. Sure, it's fun to roll eyes big and whisper about a fortune being sewed into quilts--the sort of tale you'd tell on a cold night next to the wood stove. Well, it wasn't so funny when the 80-year old twins and their 100-year old mother were nearly beaten to death, the mother dying shortly thereafter and one of the girls losing their eyesight--their quilts stolen and no doubt destroyed all because of that rumor.

So. I'm visiting my friend yesterday and I took her the print copy of The Angler that one of my stories appears in. It just arrived in the post and I wanted to share it with someone--naturally being excited. She gives me a funny look. It's the look I remember my mother giving me when I'd done something and lied about it.

"You know," she says. "You could tell me if they paid you a thousand dollars for one of these stories and I wouldn't tell anyone."

I'm flabbergasted. I start laughing uproariously and say, "If they gave me a thousand dollars for one of these stories, you wouldn't be able to shut me up!"

She's not buying the truth, not one lick of it. The look lengthens. "I'm just saying, if you asked me not to say anything, I wouldn't." Serious as a church.

And honestly, I'm hurt because this is the friend I would run straight to and tell such news, if it were remotely possible or true. And I already trust her to keep my confidences--though I don't think I've ever had any.

Not her fault--but what it tells me is that there is a malicious rumor spreading around the mountain that I'm making gobs of money from selling flash fiction stories at 1000 bucks a pop. Never mind that I've ridden out the dog days of August with a busted AC unit I have no money to repair, can only afford one tank of gas per month, am unable to afford to pay someone to do my yard for me while I've been sick--or get the lawnmower repaired. Never mind there is absolutely no evidence that I live in anything other than the austere poverty I've always lived. It's, unfortunately, the sort of rumor that gets people killed up here.

Which means...it's time for another installment of Rumor Control!

This is the feature of the blog where I offer up a dozen juicy tidbits about myself that may or may not be true. You are welcome to speculate on what is truth or lie and locals trolling the blog are welcome to spread any of these rumors about me about the mountain freely.

Here we go...

1. As many of you know, if you've been following the blog for a while, I was born with a tail. I like to think of it as something that sets me apart--special. If I really , really like you--it wags.

2. I once brought the entire National Venezuelan Men's Volleyball Team home with me one night and had my way with them. The language barrier turned out to be not such a big deal after all.

3. My skirt fell completely off in the middle of a job interview. As luck would have it, I decided to wear underwear that day.

4. My mother spent a gang of time sheepshead fishing when she was pregnant with me and I ended up being "marked" by a sheepshead. You can't see them, but I've got black and white strips all around my middle--just like a sheepshead. I also had little hard nubby teeth like one when I was born, but they fell out.

5. I'm not really a woman.

6. You were all wrong, bamboozled, completely fooled. Friend Scott and I always were an item. He's not gay, never was and just made all that stuff up to protect my honor. Then y'all went and burnt his house down. Bet you feel stupid now.

7. I woke up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to find my girlfriend standing over me with a butcher knife. Said I'd been too "nice" to her and now she had to kill me.

8. I once played backgammon with a mysterious man in a dark bar off a foggy street. He was beautiful and sinister in an androgynous way--like a manga villain with a sad past that made him evil--yet strangely hot. Longish dark blond hair and eyes like abysses. I won two out of three. He told me he'd see me again, one more time in this life. I was only eighteen, but I knew what he meant. I knew him. He was Death.

9. I burned down a barrier island all by my lonesome. No one found out.

10. If you stroke me in the middle of my chest, you can hypnotize me--just like a chicken. Honest.

11. I snorted cocaine with James Coburn.

12. I don't have a sternum. See, they had to remove it when I was in the hospital. To get a discount on my half a million dollar medical bill for that six months, I agreed to be part of a teaching experiment. They replaced my sternum with a piece of special medical plexiglass that allowed students to look into my chest cavity --like a little window. It's still there. I have to clean it off with Windex now and again. It still works just fine. Kinda gross though.