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Archive for the ‘Adolescence’ Category

D.R. Haney

The Dark Undone

November 6th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

The thought came to me when I was fifteen and trying to sleep on New Year’s Eve. Nothing I recall had happened to incite it. I’d spent the night babysitting my younger siblings while my mother attended a party, and she returned home around one in the morning and everyone went to bed. (My parents had divorced, though they continued to quarrel as if married.) My brother was sleeping in the bunk below mine, and as I stared at the ceiling and listened to the house settle, I thought: Why don’t you go into the kitchen and get a knife and stab your family to death?

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Jessica Anya Blau

Before My Father Was a Voluntary Mute

November 2nd, 2009
by Jessica Anya Blau

BALTIMORE, MD-

When I was growing up in California, my parents had a fairly loose policy of not driving me, my sister, or my brother around town. We biked to the dentist and doctor. To go anywhere else—school, the beach, the movies—we walked, rode the bus, roller skated, and hitch-hiked (the method of choice in high school).

The no driving policy was cemented sometime before my sister, Becca, went away to college, when we were both in high school together.

On that particular day, the rain was coming down like an unbroken wall of water. Becca had whined and complained, cajoling our dad to drive us to school so we wouldn’t have to walk through the rain to the bus stop (where we’d stick out our thumbs to hitch-hike). My father relented, grumbling and moaning as he picked up his car keys from the kitchen counter and walked out to the garage. He was barefoot in his threadbare blue bathrobe that reminded me of an overused, shredded tissue.

Becca pushed the garage door open from the inside, then quickly got into the front seat of the old station wagon. I sat in the back. My sister was relentlessly bossy when it came to priority seating in the car. I always thought she acted as if the family owed her for her having to put up with bird shit (from my brother’s un-caged bird who lived in our family room), clutter (covering every flat surface in the house), overflowing ashtrays (cigarettes and pot), nudity (my parents didn’t own bathing suits and always swam naked), moldy food in the refrigerator (cheeses that smelled like butt-holes) and moths flying out of the cereal boxes in the cupboard (which resulted in the aromatic branches from bay trees in the cupboards as a form of organic insecticide). What I didn’t understand in this equation was why Josh and I were owed nothing for putting up with it all.

Dad drove us all the way into school—the rain was so thick, I didn’t worry about anyone peering into the window of the station wagon and seeing that he was in his ratty bathrobe.

That afternoon when Becca and I got home from school, Dad came bounding down the stairs still in his bathrobe, hollering, “I WILL NEVER DRIVE YOU GIRLS ANYWHERE AGAIN, YOU HEAR?!” Oddly, my father often seemed inured to the little things that drove most people mad (traffic lights, rude sales clerks, finding a parking spot) but could be outraged at the things that most people didn’t think about (an orange that wasn’t perfectly ripe, the movie Fiddler on the Roof, a dog shit on the lawn). So it didn’t seem surprising that he would be ranting about having driven us to school.

“Do you know that I ran out of gas!” He bellowed.

“Where?” Becca snarled. Of course she was wondering exactly what I was wondering, and that was if our father had run out of gas near the school and if he got out of the car in the raggedy bathrobe under which he was completely naked.

“On Cathedral Oaks Road, just after I dropped you off!”

“Dad! Come on!” Becca said. I imagined my friends driving to school and passing my father loping down the road, his penis probably flopping out into the rain through the sheer flaps of his robe.

“Do you know how far I had to walk for gas!?”

The only thing between the house and the high school was acres and acres of lemon, orange, and avocado orchards. He would have had to walk toward the school, then past it, to get to a gas station.

“About a mile?” I guessed.

“Dad!” Becca said. “Did you see any of my friends? Did anyone see you walking to the gas station?” Her face was a dark stain of worry.

“How the hell do I know! It was fucking raining out! I was fucking naked under my robe!”

“We know,” I said, quietly. I was worried about my latest crush having seen my father. We had gone on only one date and I was hoping for a second.

“Dad!” My sister’s body was clenched as if she were trying to contract her entire being into one tiny, dark lump. “Why don’t you get dressed before you leave the house!? Most people do this—they put on clothes before they walk out the door.”

“I didn’t even go to work today, I was so outraged!” My father was pacing the entrance hall.

“Why didn’t you take off the wet robe?” I asked.

“I took it off and put it in the dryer, but then I was so fucking pissed off, that I just put it back on when it was dry.”

“You were too mad to get dressed?” I imagined my father working naked while he waited for the robe to dry. Would he have answered the door naked? Who knows.

“What is wrong with you!” Becca pushed past Dad and walked down the hall toward the kitchen, her giant backpack sitting on her like someone riding piggyback. I followed.

“Never again!” Dad shouted down the hall at us. “Find your own rides from now on!” I could hear his footsteps thumping up the stairs.

“It’s not like you’ve ever driven us anywhere before!” Becca shouted to the ceiling. Dad must have heard her, but he said nothing and simply slammed shut the bedroom door.

My father stuck to his promise and didn’t drive us anywhere again. It wasn’t a huge inconvenience—I only thought of it when I rode in the backseat of someone else’s parents’ car, the mothers who would pick us up from the movies at night, the dads who would drive us to the County Bowl for concerts. In fact, when I rank the oddities of my childhood this one comes out normal compared the period when my father was a voluntary mute and only communicated with us by scrawling notes on a yellow legal pad that he always carried in one hand.


James D. Irwin

In The Cold Movember Rain

November 2nd, 2009
by James D. Irwin

WINCHESTER, ENGLAND-

I feel I should write something about the city I now call home.

I’ve tried, but there isn’t really anything page-worthy.

I will say however, that this time I’ve been dealt a better hand.

A Royal Flush.

Instead I’m going to post on something closer to my heart.

Or, to be more accurate, closer to my face.

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Megan DiLullo

The Piss Museum

October 31st, 2009
by Megan DiLullo

BOULDER, CO-

It was located in the basement of an old craftsman that had virtually no ventilation, directly across from the elementary school on Pine Street. When you walked down the stairs and into the dank space the air was hazy with dust particles that shone in the sunbeams that had bullied their way in through the highly set windows. The fractured yet cheery sunlight being the only reminder of outdoor life to the subdued musty feeling that hung in the underground quarters.

The house itself was a rundown rental: The small front yard was an odd mixture of overgrown weeds and patches of dry bare earth. Plaid couches, rescued from various dumpsters around town, littered the crooked porch of the sinking haven. Discarded empty bottles of whatever cheap alcohol someone managed to shoulder tap and smashed beer cans lay strewn about the base of the discolored sofas like barnacles. Really, the exterior appeared much like the interior, sans the heavily used and abused musical equipment and beer matted shag carpeting. The windows sat askew in their rotting wood frames like the crooked smile of a child who had just lost its first tooth. The filthy glass was covered in punk rock ooze, creating a darkened hue, that you couldn’t see in, or out of. (more…)


Richard Cox

He who controls the past, controls the future

October 30th, 2009
by Richard Cox

TULSA, OK-

A while back I drove to Texas and attended a high school reunion. Events like these are surreal for most everyone, but as I approached Wichita Falls on a cold and still Friday evening, the intensity of it all was overwhelming—the color of the sky, the emptiness of the prairie, the quiet roar of my tires on interstate asphalt. I felt like I was driving into someone else’s dream.

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Sung J. Woo

GP-Yes!

October 27th, 2009
by Sung J. Woo

WASHINGTON, NJ -

At this point in my life, I’m used to getting lost.  There are some people who have no idea how lucky they are, blessed with an organic compass embedded into their brains, but I’m not one of them.  To give you an idea of how easily I can lose my bearings, at my neighborhood mall, once I enter a store, on the way back out, I have to pause and remember and look around and figure out whether I need to take a left or a right to begin the always-challenging journey back to my car.  And most likely, there will be more dithering at the parking lot as I struggle to recall just where I parked. (more…)


Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 4: Still Loving Morrissey and Shopping at the Gap

October 23rd, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

Don’t ever agree to your book being published if you have a fear of public speaking. I can say that, over the past five months, I have almost completely conquered this fear. I have beaten it out of myself. My husband has stood by, helplessly watching the self-berating, doling out the necessary Kleenex and gelato cups, weighing in on every outfit I’ve tried on. My vain (in more ways than one) attempt at looking just the right combination of serious literary writer and hot-ass bitch has culminated in committing the worst of sins: I bought a black T-shirt from the Gap.

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Robin Antalek

Ghosts

October 20th, 2009
by Robin Antalek

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY-

My childhood was a combination of magic and terror.

I come from a loud, sprawling clan of first generation Italian Americans who, for the most part, resided within walking distance of each other in the hamlet of Pelham, New York, a suburb of Manhattan.

They loved food, God, their newly adopted country, baseball and their family with fervent yet equal abandon. My earliest memories are of the wrap around porch of my grandparents’ home overflowing with cousins and aunts and uncles eating, drinking and talking all at once, of my older cousins wearing teased bouffant hair styles, and white lipstick, their hemlines inching way above the knee, of my grandfather and his brothers drinking homemade wine and smoking hand rolled cigars beneath the grape arbors in the backyard, of going into Manhattan, my hand held firmly in my grandfather’s, to watch the circus elephants arrive in town linked trunk to tail, of Jones Beach, of Coney Island, of rambling village parades where nearly half of those marching were related to me. Of holidays: of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, Halloween and the Fourth of July where the house was always full of people who had known me since I was born.

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Jason Rice

Crap

October 19th, 2009
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

It’s crap that I can’t afford to buy an iPhone.  Cry me a river, you say.  It’s also crap that I have to spend two hours a day commuting in my car to work a job that is just a job.  When did I become a person who fulfills other people’s dreams at the expense of my own?  

Planes crashed into the World Trade Center, and six weeks later I lost my job at Random House.  A week after that I bought a house.  That was supposed to be my dream. Now I’m living in it, and I can want for nothing.  Is that the deal?

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Andrew Johnson

Kaffirjimtao

October 18th, 2009
by Andrew Johnson

LONDON, UK-

My best friend and I met a man on the cross-Channel ferry from England to France during a summer of blissful ignorance in the late 1990s. We christened him ‘Kaffir Jim’, mainly because neither of us could remember his name after an embarrassingly short period of time.

Like ‘Dave’, ‘John’ and ‘Joe’, ‘Jim’ was generic enough to be amusing, and ‘kaffir’ served as a convenient synechdoche for his identity as a fairly right-wing white South African; a representative of a people who, from F.W de Clerk to Joss Ackland’s villain in Lethal Weapon II, have had a chronic PR problem at least since the turn of the last century.

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David Breithaupt

I Have Become a Cranky Old Fart

October 16th, 2009
by David Breithaupt

COLUMBUS, OH-

It’s been a slow encroachment, subtle, like the onset of age or the shot that divides the casual user from confirmed addict. Perhaps it has been ticking inside me, like some DNA time-bomb waiting to release its gas, infecting me in increments until finally, I awake one day to realize: I have become a cranky old fart. (more…)


Jeremy Resnick

Mamarazza!

October 15th, 2009
by Jeremy Resnick

LOS ANGELES, CA-

My mother has a photography addiction. She just has to take pictures of her family, or, if we’re unavailable, other people’s families. It’s been going on all our lives. She says she takes so many pictures of us because she loves us so much that she just has to capture any moment in which we’re all together, and she takes pictures of other people’s families because they’re always happy when they get them from her afterward. But I think it’s more of a compulsion. Whenever her mind is allowed to rest, whenever she doesn’t have something pressing to do, she thinks, I must take a picture! I must capture this, whatever it is!

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Anne Walls

Anatomy of an Accent (Or How I Learned to Love the Brits)

October 14th, 2009
by Anne Walls

HOLLYWOOD, CA-

It started in childhood, of course. Everything does.

The year: 1987.

The film: THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Starring: Cary Elwes…and his steamy British accent.

Oh that melodious accent. It was scintillating. It was fatal. It was official: I was obsessed. From that moment on, I’ve considered myself an accent connoisseur (pronounced with the proper French intonation which evokes thoughts of sweet nothings whispered in a darkened chateau whilst clutching Bordeaux in vintage stemware). I love accents both thick and light, both guttural and pleasant-sounding. European, Australian, even Southern. Accents are music to my ears.

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Greg Olear

And Some Get Rained Out

October 13th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. —

“You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out—but you have to dress for all of ‘em.” —Satchell Paige

I remember the moment when I decided, quite deliberately, to care about baseball.

I was maybe twelve years old, I was at my grandparents’ house, and I was seized by a sudden need to avail myself of the bathroom. Then as now, I hate it when I have to do Number Two and there’s nothing to read. So I grabbed the only printed matter in the house that looked remotely appealing—the sports section of the Morristown (N.J.) Daily Record—and barricaded myself in the can.

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Mary Richert

Anxiety Paints a Self Portrait

October 11th, 2009
by Mary Richert

ARNOLD, MD -

The windows around the front door look like aliens. I seem to be the only one who recognizes it, but it’s so obvious. They are tall, skinny aliens with arms that reach down to their knees. Their bug-eyed heads are elongated just like the aliens on TV, except that the top comes to a little point like a dollop of whipped cream. As a kid, I ran up the stairs feeling their noodle arms reaching out to grab me and pull me out of my world and into theirs. I always felt them just an inch behind me

Standing in the laundry room, if I tapped unexpectedly on the metal surface of the washer or dryer, the noise might be startling, and suddenly I was thinking, “What if that’s the signal?” The signal for ghosts or aliens or whatever might be waiting in the ether for its moment, its chance to come abduct me or just to show itself, thereby ruining the reality on which I had an already tenuous grasp. I would do it again to disrupt the signal — rap on the washer once quickly, try to make the exact same noise — was it once for yes and two for no? I don’t remember. Do it again just in case. What if I have said something I don’t even understand in their alien language? Tap out a complicated rhythm to indicate a scratching out of what has inadvertently been written on the paper of time-space continuum. If all else fails, run out of the room and all is forgotten.

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Greg Boose

An Open Letter of Apology to the Guy at that Thing Who Tried to Talk to Me About Teen Wolf

October 7th, 2009
by Greg Boose

CHICAGO, IL -

Hey Jeff Maybe,

So I wanted to say sorry for ruining our conversation the other night at that thing where people were performing and I don’t know if it was a dance thing or it was a really weird play, but it was intermission.

We were grabbing a drink and you had this shocked look on your face, as if you had just seen a squirrel piloting a kite in the middle of the ocean, and so I asked “What the fuck did we just see in there?” and you answered and questioned me at the same time with “Right?”

We were talking, laughing, digesting and vomiting what we had just witnessed on that stage, and then you started imitating one of the moves from inside by dancing with your arms over your head.

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Matt Baldwin

Blooded

October 6th, 2009
by Matt Baldwin

SAN DIEGO, CA -

I’ve been thinking about blood a lot lately.

Blood I’ve spilt, and blood I’ve seen spilt. The red fluid gushing out of a beheaded rattlesnake’s body, sizzling as it splattered onto the hot Mexican soil. The crimson seeping out of the crushed chest of a fourteen year-old boy, opened up like a book as the doctors tried to massage his heart back into life. We cut the snake into strips and fried the meat over an open fire. And as for the boy, there was simply too much of him smeared across the front grill of a wrecked car, and his poor heart had nothing left to pump. (more…)


John L. Singleton

Chicken Wing Floozie

October 5th, 2009
by John L. Singleton

LOS ANGELES, CA—

I left home when I was in high school without a diploma and shacked up with a floozie. I call her a floozie not just because my mother called her that, but because she was a floozie. She was a floozie to end all floozies. If being a floozie was anything like being in the Army she’d have been a general. And instead of painting skulls on her helmet to represent vanquished opponents, she’d have painted dicks, to represent vanquished dicks. And to accommodate all the dicks she’d need something like a million helmets and a whole convoy just to transport them.

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Zara Potts

You Probably Don’t Know This, But I’ve Had a Crush on You for About Thirty Years

October 4th, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND -

Damn it, Jimmy.

Why did I have to run into you on the sidewalk today when my car was illegally parked and my hair was a mess and my eyes were dark with lack of sleep?

Why did I have to blurt out what I did?

“Oh my God, I’ve been wanting to run into you for years!”

Man, Jimmy. I was like a school girl. I hope you didn’t notice that I was blushing or that I stammered. 

“Cool,” you said.

And you were. 

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Lenore Zion

Sunday Morning/The Party’s Over

October 4th, 2009
by Lenore Zion

LOS ANGELES, CA-

I call it the “Sunday Morning/The Party’s Over Depression.”

When I was a kid, my parents let me have birthday parties. An entire gaggle of prepubescent girls would swarm my house and play stupid games on Saturday. Most of these games don’t have official names. There was the one where we pretended to put each other into some sort of supernatural spell, a possession of some kind, and even though we all faked it, we also all thought it was real when another girl was possessed. This always made me think there was something wrong with me. Why can’t I become possessed? All the other girls can.

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