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Inappropriate in public since July 2006

Archive for the ‘Guilt’ Category

Sarah Maizes

My Child Has Autism and it’s Awesome!

December 2nd, 2009
by Sarah Maizes

LOS ANGELES, CA-  As the mother of a child with autism…

I don’t have anything else to add to that, but I got your attention didn’t I?  Don’t feel like a sucker.  You’re not the only one.

It has come to my attention that whenever I say “As the mother of a child with autism…” people instantly pay attention.  They presume I’m wise and sagely, and they’ll take virtually anything I say as gospel.  It’s quite fabulous really.

The statement could be followed with something as simple as “…I like kids chewable vitamins” and people will take this into serious consideration.  “Hmmm…maybe chewables ARE better for kids than gummies.  I mean, she would know, her child has autism.”

I didn’t ask for this.  I didn’t plan on having a child with autism.  I didn’t want to have a child with autism, but lo and behold, I do.  And it sucks.  But when you have a child with special needs and you’ve put in the hours and years of dedication to the process of helping that child as I have, shouldn’t I enjoy a few of the perks?

Well, people thinking I am really smart is one of them.

When I say “As the mother of a child with autism, I buy mostly organic fruit.”  It is met with a collective “Oooooooooooo.”

When I say “As the mother of a child with autism, I have my kids ride their bikes at least twice a week.”  I hear a united “Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.”

Believe me, I don’t actually think I’m saying anything interesting or even noteworthy.  I’m usually not.  And God knows, whatever I’m yapping about is almost always unsubstantiated.  I’m a busy woman.  Sure my kid has autism, but that doesn’t mean I know any more than the average bear.

But people can’t help but think I have something valuable to say.  It appears to be a natural gut reaction to think “Oh, she’s the mother of a child with autism.  She must know a lot about child development.”  Or, “Wow, her kid has autism.  That sucks.  Even if I don’t agree with her, I feel sorry for her and I’m going to give her whatever she wants.”

I’d love to say I’m above it, but I’m not.

It’s wonderful.  If I’m at school and I want my daughter to have a better seat in class, I just say “As the mother of an autistic child, I think mine should sit in front.”  If I’m out with friends at a movie I can say with great authority, “As the mother of an autistic child, I think the characters were extremely well-drawn.”  Or, let’s say we’re driving to the valley and I just don’t want to be stuck on side streets.  I’ll say “As the mother of an autistic child, I think we should take the highway.”

I suppose I shouldn’t expose myself to the world and tell people I’ve figured this out, and I certainly shouldn’t use my own family’s misfortune to take advantage of others when I can get away with it.

But I did, and I do.  And now, I’m headed out to dinner with some friends.  I’d like to have a couple of cocktails, so I’m thinking I’ll casually ask “who wants to be the designated driver?”  We’ll all look at each other and then I’ll point to one of them and say “As the mother of an autistic child, I really think you should be the one driving.”

And it will work.

At long last, I’ve found my silver lining.


Rebecca Schiffman

This Happened Yesterday

November 6th, 2009
by Rebecca Schiffman

NEW YORK, NY-

Yesterday, early evening, I went to the Strand Bookstore on 12th Street and Broadway.  The store is just slightly overflowing with used and new books presented on tables and in aisles of shelves that almost reach the ceiling, reminding me of a school library.   “Eighteen Miles of Books” is their current motto.

Upon entering, noticing there is no longer a bag-check, feeling the size of my stuffed, giant tote bag wedged under my arm and its weight pulling down on my shoulder, I made eye contact with the security guard.  A small wave of sheepishness and fear came over me as it always does.  Shoplifting was one of my main after school activities during eighth grade until I was nearly caught by The Gap.  Still now, fifteen years later, I feel constantly under suspicion while shopping, as if the security guards and clerks can sense that my conscience is not clear. (more…)


Ryan Day

Marketocracy

November 6th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

I am, unfortunately, in no position to refuse $75 for one hour of my time, pretty much no matter what the the contents of that hour. They could have asked me to drink six bottles of catsup (ketchup?). They could have asked me to have tea with Glen Beck and soothe his uniquely bruised ego with prefabricated whispers about the peaceful forces at the center of the conservative universe (you are a child of the marketplace… the invisible hand will always lead you towards the light of the DOW…). I would have mowed lawns, bagged leaves (though I imagine the going rate of yard maintenance is somewhat lower), run backwards into the weird smelling basin at the end of the Salt River. But, alas, all they wanted was that I watch some movie trailers and tell them, no matter what I really thought, that the Rock was just the actor to breath renewed life into that excalibur of cinematic roles, the Tooth Fairy. (more…)


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?

(more…)


Paul A. Toth

My Siamese Twin

November 6th, 2009
by Paul A. Toth

SARASOTA, FL-

This has been what I call the Year of Ice. Colder than a shaved polar bear. Sayonara 2009. It’s been a year of pills, pills and more pills, until finally I seem to have reached some kind of treaty with bipolar disorder, which barely warrants discussion given that virtually everyone is now diagnosed as bipolar. Still, it’s important to note that when I write “ice,” I mean anxiety, yet when I write “anxiety,” I do not describe all attributes of “ice.” (more…)


Matt Baldwin

Six Chambers

November 4th, 2009
by Matt Baldwin

SAN DIEGO, CA –

On a late spring day in 2001 my sister’s drug-dealing ex-boyfriend crashed the pool party she was throwing at our house in the suburbs and shot two people on our front porch. He used a small, snub-nosed revolver from a distance of less than ten feet, firing off all six rounds. Five of them hit their mark.

(more…)


Ducky Wilson

Possession Is No Laughing Matter

October 28th, 2009
by Ducky Wilson

BFE, TEXAS - 

A bead of sweat pools on the tip of my nose. I want to wipe it, but I can’t move. Light pinwheels around my eyes like a kaleidoscope at a carnival. I hear my breath quickening, but I don’t know why. Other sounds morph into a distant drone punctuated by organ interludes.

Am I in church?

Yes.

Through pinholes in my delirium, I can see Father Tassio talking behind the pulpit, his hands working the sermon like a potter would clay on a wheel. Behind him, I can see the cross where Jesus bleeds, the holes in his hands pulsing dark tunnels to another dimension. I look away so I’m not sucked into them.

(more…)


Steve Sparshott

Last Train

October 9th, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

There was a figure on the wrong side of the railing. Hunched, legs dangling over the water, left hand on the edge of the brickwork clutching a smoking cigarette. I kept an eye on him as I passed; he raised the fag to his mouth with a sudden movement, inhaled and put it back down just as abruptly. (more…)


Rich Ferguson

Of Road Dogs and Lives Lost and Saved (Part 1 of 2)

October 5th, 2009
by Rich Ferguson

LOS ANGELES -

Picture the scene:

I was fourteen—a confused puberty stew of zits, girl craziness, cracking voice, and crippling shyness. It was summer. My family and I were spending a week in a small Wisconsin town. My dad had driven me to a swimming area across the lake from our cabin. He told me he’d pick me up in a couple hours. Said I should stay put—swim, girl watch. Not to walk the three-mile stretch of lonely country road back home. I agreed. But after less than an hour, I’d had my fill of the murky brown water, and the locals that looked straight out of Guns & Ammo magazine.

(more…)


Tyler Stoddard Smith

Some Thoughts on a “New Literacy” While Remembering Patrick Swayze

September 29th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

HOUSTON, TX-

Pierre Bayard’s ode to philistinism, Comment Parler des Livres que l’on n’a pas Lus, or How to Talk About Books That You Haven’t Read is a unique experience. Upon completion of Bayard’s work (one wonders if Bayard himself ever read his own book), I found myself first outraged, then confused, and finally, a little constipated. I thought to myself, “How does this boorish Frenchman claim that a perfunctory flip-through of Anna Karenina should suffice for an understanding of St. Petersburg’s high society during that time—or Jasper, Missouri’s, home to the Double Deuce for that matter?” Can this Bayard be serious? Can we really talk—intelligently—about books we’ve never read?

(more…)


Anne Walls

One Fish, Two Fish: The Plight of the Pescatarian

September 18th, 2009
by Anne Walls

LOS ANGELES, CA-

Part I: Always Use Your Napkin

I didn’t mean for it to end up this way. I really didn’t want to be standing at a rather nice wedding reception, glass of semi-expensive white wine in one hand, and napkin full of half-chewed, hastily spit out stuffed mushroom in the other. Sure, I knew my friends, the now-hitched earthy couple, erred on the side of unconventional and wanted their wedding to reflect that as well. It was taking place in what used to be the old Ojai Jail, a cluster of tiny, ramshackle cabins in the mountains above Santa Barbara. And yet, in the middle of this somewhat rugged mountain setting, my friends had imported stunning orchid arrangements, enough wine to baptize the whole city of Santa Barbara, and (my personal favorite) a wicked cheese platter.

There were even waiters gliding around, passing out tiny, delicious treatsies on trays. And after hurriedly hauling myself to Santa Barbara, surviving the van ride up the mountain with a driver who may have very well had one eye closed, and quickly pounding two (okay, three) glasses of the aforementioned very nice wine, I was starving. Add to the mix that fact that my ex-boyfriend and his new ladyfriend were not only in attendance but also in very close physical proximity, and you could maybe see how the wine would be priority Number One, followed by food.

(more…)


Joshua Lyon

From An Old Memoir That I’m Trying To Resurrect

September 16th, 2009
by Joshua Lyon

BROOKLYN, NY

We get out at the Seventh Avenue station and walk up to the park.  I follow Nicholas down a small paved road that empties out a massive field, stretching black and green before us.  We slink our way across the plain until we get to an empty softball diamond with a metal fence that runs behind home base. Nick drops his bags and pulls his video camera out of the backpack. I ignore it and walk back out onto the playing field. A wall of forest behind Nick and the fence is bordered by a dimly lit path, so we can see if anyone starts to come near us. The mouth of openness on all other sides gives sufficient warning if anyone cuts across the field. I try to see into the woods, remembering this is a notorious pick-up place for gay guys. I imagine hundreds of eyes staring out at us from the tangled trunks and branches.

(more…)


Joi Brozek

A Thousand Words: Girl in a Bottle

September 9th, 2009
by Joi Brozek

LAWRENCE, KS-

It was after you slurred those filthy songs with a sweet voice, eyes rolling up to the colored gels covering the lights, thinking, “FUCK! They can make me beautiful,” that I decided I couldn’t look at you anymore,

The first time I met Tricky, she told me to pour her a double, baby, and so I did. On a good day she drank Stoli and soda, heavy on the Stoli, light on the soda, in a glass. On a not so good day she did away with the glass and drank straight out of the bottle. I had never seen thirst like hers. (more…)


Claire Bidwell Smith

A Thousand Words: Why and Why

September 8th, 2009
by Claire Bidwell Smith

CHICAGO, IL-

Home was Los Angeles. And my life there was one of aimless, tipsy grieving. My father had died six months before this story begins and ever since I’d been casting about listlessly. One of my best friends, Lucy, lived down the street and we spent many a day together, drinking cocktails before 5pm and pondering the meaning of our mid-twenties. One such afternoon we decided that the best possible solution to our problems would be to go into business together importing t-shirts from Thailand. This may have just been an excuse to conduct “business meetings” over Bloody Marys at a restaurant in Culver City called Dear John’s, but whatever the case, we forged ahead with the plan.

(more…)


Andra Moldav

Me, Amelie?

September 4th, 2009
by Andra Moldav

LOS ANGLES, CA-

Last weekend my cousin met my mom and me for dinner in Ojai, a lush spa north of here and over after-dinner wine we talked about nothing and eventually began debating whether I had actually been at her house for Thanksgiving and not Christmas. (more…)


Ben Loory

Twenty Dollars

August 30th, 2009
by Ben Loory

LOS ANGELES, CA-

When I was in fifth grade, I was in love with Shirlene DuJack. We used to draw pictures of TIE fighters together. It was the ideal relationship. The only problem was that the school bully, Wayne DeCourte, was also in love with Shirlene DuJack. A fact which I found annoying. Apparently he felt similarly, because one day he announced that the two of us were going to have to fight after school for the hand of Shirlene DuJack. This made sense to me, so I agreed, with one stipulation: I had piano lessons that day, so could it be tomorrow? Wayne said sure, and we shook on it. It was all very gentlemanly.
(more…)


D.R. Haney

How I Became Human

August 30th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

Growing up working-class in a small Southern city, I early acquired a racist vocabulary. This was by no means encouraged by my parents, who were mortified when, at four or so, I referred to a fellow customer at Sears as a nigger. I have no memory of doing that — I was told about it years later — but I’m sure I was baffled by the punishment I received. The kids in my neighborhood used the word “nigger” as a matter of course. To them, it was an appropriate term for a person of color, and I followed suit, even after the Sears incident. Why punish someone for calling a bird a bird? And why would a bird object? So, I think, my reasoning went.
(more…)


Lenore Zion

There Have Been Many Lies

August 30th, 2009
by Lenore Zion

LOS ANGELES, CA-

I had a friend in grade school named Krista.  I didn’t like when she came over to play with me because when she was around I had to eat dry cat food.

It was my own fault.  I told her I ate dry cat food, that I enjoyed it.  It wasn’t true.  I don’t know why I said it.  She didn’t believe me, so I had to prove it to her by, indeed, eating dry cat food in front of her.

It’s not that the taste is so horrible.  It’s really a texture thing.  It crumbles dryly in your mouth, and because the flavor isn’t fantastic, your mouth doesn’t respond with much saliva.  The result is a mouthful of paste that tastes very little like the “Chicken Dinner” it claims to be. (more…)


Joshua Lyon

The Thirteenth Victim

August 29th, 2009
by Joshua Lyon

BROOKLYN, NY-

A recent hangover found me still under the covers at 2:00 PM. I called out to my boyfriend Casey, but instead of asking for water or Advil, I asked him to look up details about the murder of Konerak Sinthasomphone, Jeffrey Dahmer’s thirteenth victim.

From under my pillow I’d been half-listening to Casey talk about the death of Ted Kennedy. Casey is young enough that Ted’s incident at Chappaquiddick, in the news once more, was a revelation. He was reading aloud about the crash from my desk across the room, and it got me thinking about the guilt one must feel when responsible for the death of another human. That in turn made me remember that after Jeffrey Dahmer was caught, reports surfaced about a fourteen year-old boy who had briefly escaped him. (more…)


Doug Mulliken

If Any Guy in His Mid-Twenties is Qualified, It’s Me

August 28th, 2009
by Doug Mulliken

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -

2:45 AM — In my mind, it’s hard to write about heartbreak at age 26.  It’s one of those intricacies about the writing profession - a musician writing a song about heartbreak at age 26 is rarely questioned, yet a writer writing a piece about heartbreak at 26 is deemed, at least by me, to have not experienced enough.  How can you write about heartbreak at 26?  You’re still a kid.  A 26-year old can’t possibly have enough worldliness to know how truly bad it can get, how painful it really is.  That’s the view I tend to take - writers, unlike mathematicians, improve with age, and the more you live through the more you are capable of writing about.  I suppose it’s a hang-up from being constantly told to “write what you know.”  As a fairly normal suburban white kid, that didn’t make for very interesting writing, but nobody ever told me anything else. (more…)