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Gets all up in your grill pretty frequently

Archive for the ‘Memory’ 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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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.

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Dawn Corrigan

Where’s Dom?

November 3rd, 2009
by Dawn Corrigan

GULF BREEZE, FL -

As I’ve written about here on TNB previously, in August my 89-year-old grandmother fell and broke her hip. She had surgery, during which her hip was pinned, and did a month of physical therapy. At the beginning of October she returned to the assisted living facility where she lives with her husband.

Yesterday she fell and broke her other hip. I’m sitting in the ER waiting room right now while she has surgery on her other leg.

Since the surgery was scheduled for late afternoon, we had the whole day to kill. “C’mon,” she told me earlier in her hospital room. “Let’s get out of here.”

Then: “Put this down,” indicating the bed rail. When I ignored her–my new strategy for anything short of pulling her IV out–she said, “Come on! Put it down and let’s go. Don’t make an ass of yourself!”

Then she offered to carry my laptop if we could leave. Even with severe dementia, her negotiating skills remain formidable.

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Zara Potts

Fraidy Cat

November 2nd, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND -

My very first teacher was Mrs. Brady. She was a tall and handsome woman with a severe haircut and coke-bottle glasses. She wore modest calf length skirts with comfortable cardigans and she taught numbers and letters in a furious cloud of chalk dust that was at odds with her restrained, no-nonsense attitude.

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Irene Zion

Halloween at the Hospital

November 2nd, 2009
by Irene Zion

MIAMI BEACH, FL-

My friend, Melissa, and I dressed up to look silly when we went to the hospital on Halloween. We do it every year because the kids get a kick out of it and we really are up for anything to spice up the day.

(One time I really blew it dressing up on Halloween to go to the old folks home with Brooklyn, my Therapy Dog. I dressed to the nines as Raggedy Ann. I had it all, down to the red and white horizontal striped tights and red shoes. The residents at the home are four-fifths from Cuba and one fifth from Russia. Not a soul had any idea who I was supposed to be. It turns out that Raggedy Ann is an American phenomenon. It had always seemed so universal to me. They thought I was nuts, but they didn’t care, because Brooklyn was with me.)

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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…)


Oksana Marafioti

The Time I Walked Away from Mel Gibson

October 26th, 2009
by Oksana Marafioti

LAS VEGAS, NV-

When I was twenty-eight I saw Jesus Christ give a speech from the back of a pickup truck.

Immediately I called my husband and told him to get his ass over there so that, like me, he might also bask in the glory of Christ. Plus, I needed a witness. Someone my family trusted.

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Steve Sparshott

Enid from the Block

October 23rd, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

Enid was my local crush, as opposed to, say, a music crush, like Laura Veirs, or a back-in-the-day crush, like Janeane Garofalo. I miss Enid. Not terribly, not like a limb, more like a bus - there’ll be another one along in a while. Crush might be too strong a word.
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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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Reno J. Romero

What’s Wrong with California?

October 18th, 2009
by Reno J. Romero

WOODLAND, NORTHERN CA -

I moved back to California around two months ago. What brought me back home after fifteen years? Well, a few things. Personal things. Some things not so personal. In the end, I was feeling a bit tapped out in Vegas. The bones weren’t tumbling like they used to and I was almost at the point where I didn’t give a shit either way.

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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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Irene Zion

The Flying Pedestal

October 17th, 2009
by Irene Zion

MIAMI BEACH,FL-

When my family moved to The Free Territory of Trieste, it was a time when people did not fly across the ocean. Flying was prohibitively expensive and rare. No one really believed that airplanes made with all that heavy metal could actually fly safely when they were full of people. It was counterintuitive. I personally still have trouble believing that those enormous things get off the ground at all. (And don’t even get me started on those helicopters from the mosquito family!)  Back then, everyone had the same reservations. We sailed across the ocean to FTT on the Saturnia. I suppose that if I had thought about it, I also would have questioned how a ship made out of metal that should obviously sink, could float. I’m glad I didn’t think about that at the time, or I would have worried my way all across the ocean.

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D.R. Haney

Saved by Demon Song

October 11th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

I’m hungry. I have no money at all, none is expected soon, and there’s no one from whom I can borrow. I pace all night, wondering how to come by a few dollars to eat.

Finally, slowly, a plan unfolds: I can walk down the street to an ATM, fill out a deposit slip for a phantom check, feed the slip to the ATM, and request a cash advance. The bank, of course, will quickly discover that no check accompanied the deposit slip, but once I’m contacted, I’ll simply say that, being in a hurry, I forgot. By then I hope to have thought of someone who’s willing to cut me a bona fide check.

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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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Paul Clayton

IeBAF 2001

October 10th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

You’re a writer, right? You’ve been writing for eight years, ten years, fifteen… and you’ve had a few small successes. But not with ‘the book,’ the one you poured your heart into over the years, the one that is not merely an entertainment, but is true, containing the essence of yours and others’ experiences, and the little bit of insight it all gave you. You’ve submitted it to the big New York houses hundreds (sometimes it seems like thousands) of times… with no result other than enough rejection slips to stuff a queen sized mattress.

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Meghan Elizabeth Hunt

All that Junk, Rattling around My Brain (AKA, the Ramblings of a Constantly Musing Woman)

October 6th, 2009
by Meghan Elizabeth Hunt

COLUMBIA, MD -

I grew up in a small village on the Connecticut River in northern New Hampshire. There were more trees and cows than there were people and up until I was a surly teenager, I loved it.

Then puberty hit and I despised my little hamlet. Outside of my family, there wasn’t a single reason to stay and every day brought me closer to college and escape.

Now I’m 10 years past that day and 4 years past the day I left New England completely behind and every fall my heart hurts. It’s like the ache you associate with an old injury, the kind of pain cold weather and rainy days bring.

Leaving New England was like breaking up with a childhood romance.

I often wonder if I’ll ever get over it completely.

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D.R. Haney

What Child Is This?

October 5th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

A relative is apparently angry at me, or so I was told by another relative. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with my contributions to The Nervous Breakdown (though this piece may well compound the situation). Rather, in his (erroneous) view, I slighted still another relative, so, on the relative’s unrequested behalf, I’m being given the silent treatment.

Meantime, last week, while in the middle of what might be described as extremely trying financial circumstances (including the death of my car), a friend texted to ask why I’d been “talking shit” about him. I could only guess as to his meaning. I’d recently discussed him with a mutual acquaintance, specifically regarding what I considered a pattern of rudeness. I should’ve spoken to my friend, as opposed to about him, but I did so because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. However, our acquaintance seems to have decided a big deal was in order, and tattled.

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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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Tyler Stoddard Smith

How to Write, Or Not

October 4th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

They tell me you should write about what you know. I’ve always had a problem with that. I may know some things other people don’t, but in writing that down, what good does that do me? Not much. I already know it. I want to write about things I don’t know about. I want to learn things about what I don’t think, how people I don’t know don’t act and why. Perhaps I say this because I don’t know much. I know a lot of facts about arcane things, but I already know them and I already know that nobody, unless they are short of Trivial Pursuit cards, wants to hear that kind of bilge. However, I don’t know one thing that I think will serve me well in my writing career: I don’t know how to write.

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Thomas Wood

Milk After Mugging

October 3rd, 2009
by Thomas Wood

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-

It certainly wasn’t THE mistake; there were probably a number of those, but the first thing I did wrong was have the cab driver drop me off three blocks from my apartment, instead of right at the front door, especially knowing that neighborhood’s reputation.  I must have felt like walking a bit.  It was five in the morning after a long Sunday night and I was drunk.  Most of the time drunk means you’re stumbling about, a bit stupider than when you began the night but, sometimes, when you’ve been drunk long enough, when you’ve started early in the night and kept it up, somehow teetering on the line between life-of-the-party and asshole-of-the-evening, you manage a kind of comfort with the drunk, a sort of calm-in-the-storm.  It’s hard to imagine but some part of your mind gets used to the world from inside the bottle, maybe the way veterans, having seen too much of the shit, can just nod their heads at the most atrocious things and whisper, ‘FUBAR,’ and just know they must go on.  I prefer to think of it like musical theater, all optimism, the way the drunk character in the play can magically stand up and exhibit textbook choreography, dancing down the pavement, toes tapping on benches, where even the stumbling has style.  So I was when I got out of the cab on the Avenue Gran Via, a notoriously seedy street in Madrid, clad in Tyler Durden’s three-quarter length, red-leather Jacket.  Some girl has kissed me that night, and I was grinning a silly grin.  I’m sure it wasn’t the grin the mugger saw.

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