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Word to your mother

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Kip Tobin

The Athiest and the Believer

November 8th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

LA RIOJA, SPAIN

The atheist and the believer walked together on the path that followed the highway, looking for light.

Everything visible was dampened gray, as if some colossal waterlogged blanket was thrown on top of their sky and hung there, dripping. Incessant raindrops had been pricking their faces for over two hours, and the cutting wind foretold the road ahead without visible end. The others had gone ahead, and they couldn’t see anything except for the highway to their right, the miry path directly in front and the snow-quilted fields to the left that were melting reluctantly in the cold rain.

The panorama was muddy, leaden, soppy.

(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…)


Brin Friesen

Acque Pericolose

October 29th, 2009
by Brin Friesen

MANHATTAN-

The Cuban girl peeled off a cigar box wouldn’t open the door to her apartment building and over the intercom was listing all the valid, sensible reasons under the circumstances why we would never see each other again.

I stared ahead at the security camera and held a rose against the glass of the front entrance.

While it’s true sentimental people are cruel, they’re also quite gullible.

Eventually she came down and slipped out the glass entrance and gave me a kiss goodbye. While she was mumbling apologies about it not working out and staring at me with her cigar stain eyes, I gently reached my hand into her coat pocket and stole her phone.

I kissed her goodbye, grinding a slightly devious smile against her frown, and hailed a cab to get me back into the city until she gave me a call. After all, she had my new number.

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Matthew Gavin Frank

Red Beard’s Silent Deal

October 29th, 2009
by Matthew Gavin Frank

ALBA, ITALY-

In Alba, Italy’s rain, my hair flattens wet against my skull. Hugging the shopfronts of Via Vittorio Emanuele, I see a white triangular peak in the distance. It could be anything—a downed mountain bowing to commune with this street, the cobblestone river that carved it—except, glowing with rain, it looks to be made of canvas. I know.

(more…)


Christopher Eaton

A Decent Interval

October 23rd, 2009
by Christopher Eaton

CHICAGO-

My wife and I have been together long enough that what should be between us in bed is a decent interval.

I can appreciate that “early on,” couples might want to engage in touching. Even at the risk of children. But at some point, personal space needs to be allowed back into the sleeping arrangement.

Many couples resort to a dog to reestablish spouse-free zones in bed, only to find themselves later united against the dog.

Our problem began with my wife’s ass. It’s a nice ass—during the day. At night, though, it is transformed into a marauder, conquering the linen expanse of our shared bed, relentlessly seeking out warmth. You see, my wife sleeps cold, while I sleep hot. And once my wife falls asleep, she gets colder. That’s when her ass takes over.

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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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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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Ryan Day

Why I Still Hate Drum Circles—Briefly

October 14th, 2009
by Ryan Day

PHOENIX, AZ-

So, he dropped me off at the edge of this mountainy type geological formation that was covered in forest. I was glad to be dropped off. The 40 minute drive out to this seemingly random point had been filled with little bubblets of conversation like:

“That’s when I knew that Jeremy was a total psycopath and there was no choice but to pull the trigger. Him or me. Feel that?” He offered his finger for me to examine tactilely. I was assuming it was his trigger finger. There was a nodule. “Got caught in the trigger mechanism. Saved his life. Lucky, huh?”

Uh huh. (more…)


Tyler Stoddard Smith

Tyler’s Adventures in Cultural Literacy

October 12th, 2009
by Tyler Stoddard Smith

AUSTIN, TX-

What does it mean to be literate? That one’s pretty easy; it means you know how to read. What does it mean to be cultural? That one’s a little tougher; it means you know that in most situations, it’s unacceptable to put your cigarette out on a dachshund. And so what does it mean to be “culturally literate?” Many have posed this question (Harold Bloom, the Yale professor currently encased in acrylic and preserved for posterity does it a lot.), yet no one has truly come to terms with an accurate answer. My uncle Seamus once remarked that “cultural literacy is for homosexuals,” but he was urinating in a koi pond at the time, so who knows? I suggest we journey together to see if we can’t get to the core of this labyrinthine dilemma. Perhaps the most logical first step is learning how to read (I’ll wait for a few minutes)… Sweet. Our next step is to determine what exactly is “cultural.” Below are a few undeniably cultural items in the realm of architecture, literature and music. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these things, and then we can begin to get a handhold on what it means to be culturally literate. (more…)


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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Litsa Dremousis

Suggestions, Verities, and Such:

October 5th, 2009
by Litsa Dremousis

SEATTLE, WA-

Historians assuredly will view this epoch and, among other things, conclude we fussed and churned way too much over pubic hair.

We elected a president, not Santa Claus. We’re not going to get everything we want in the first three fourths of the first year of the first term.

While I know otherwise, I prefer to think ships float by magic: the water displacement theory strikes me as kind of sketchy.

Ladies, we’re nearly 52% of the population. Perhaps more of us could act accordingly?

Also, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of us stop writing to and marrying serial killers?

And fellas, might a tiny but attention-grabbing portion of you stop serial killing?

Is anything more resplendent than a lilac tree in spring?

Nutella, while medicinal, is extremely potent and should be handled as such: the combination of spoon and jar seems to hurl one into a time lapse and next thing you know, your evening is shot to hell and your shirt looks like an eight year-old’s.

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Rebecca Adler

My Life in Istanbul, So Far

October 5th, 2009
by Rebecca Adler

ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Basak meets me at the airport shuttle drop off point in the busy city center. We hail a cab and we’re off to my new apartment. She shows me how to get in and gives me a tour of the apartment. I drop my bags in my room and then we’re off again. She wants to show me the neighborhood so I won’t be lost when I’m all alone at home during the coming weeks. We walk, and walk, and walk. Where we’re going, I don’t know. She shows me her workplace, says I can come there anytime if I need help with anything. And then our destination is in sight: Cevahir, the biggest mall in Europe.

She shows me to the grocery store so I can stock up on a few necessities. I feel awkward shopping in front of her so I try to make healthy choices. I throw a couple of nectarines and bananas into the handbasket, then I head toward the dairy section. Without having to tell her what I’m looking for, and before I can reach for anything, she stops me: “That’s not milk.” (more…)


Simon Smithson

Decompressing from TNB - LA

October 3rd, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I’d been warned about Los Angeles. They (the same ‘they’ in ‘That’s what they say’) warned me that it’s a city where people smile at your face and stab you in the back; that the whole town only exists to exploit people of youth, beauty, and talent; that everyone there is obsessed with making money, making their cut, and then getting out of Dodge as fast as their new Lexus can carry them.

People characterised the city as soulless, shallow, and desperate for a quick buck.

Why people thought they should warn me, I’m not really sure. Because it sounded like I’d fit right in.

But seriously - LA, man. Now that’s a fun town. (more…)


Rob Delaney

The Notting Hill Carnival - From Race Riots to Just Plain Riots

October 2nd, 2009
by Rob Delaney

LONDON, UK-

At first, you think it looks like the Revolution. And then you think: If the Revolution did look like this, I wouldn’t want in.

The Notting Hill Carnival was inaugurated in 1958 as a response to race-riots directed against Jamaican immigrants. Now, half a century on, Notting Hill has succeeded in eradicating the race-riots completely - and replacing them with riots that are cheerfully apolitical, the kind with no particular motive behind them whatsoever. The Notting Hill Carnival is, more than anything, a Dionysian opportunity for people to get wrecked and, usually around wind-up time on closing night, to wreck things.

(more…)


Brin Friesen

Loot II

September 30th, 2009
by Brin Friesen

HAVANA-

Somebody once said that at the end of the world there’s always a tourist and a whore fucking in a cheap hotel. If that’s here, that whore’s mother probably made the bed and had coffee ready for them after.

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Matthew Gavin Frank

The Truffle of the Barn

September 29th, 2009
by Matthew Gavin Frank

TORINO, ITALY-

The fluorescence of one room bleeds into another with only minor differences: a blinking flicker here, a snoring hum there. I sit again beneath these flickers and hums, just past 9:00 pm, in the salamina da sugo workshop, ready for the gentle myth, ready for some anarchy. This is the Salone del Gusto, the Slow Food Movement’s Salon of Taste and, while this is also Torino, Italy, the rest of the world, via its respective culinary delights, trickles in through the cracks in the mortar.

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Zara Potts

So Like Totally Awesome

September 28th, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 

I’m a black and white kind of person. I either like things or I don’t. I love them or hate them. It’s one or the other. Hot or cold. Black or white. Get it? There’s not much grey in my life.

So, just to be totally clear that there’s no sitting on the fence here…

I love LA.

I totally heart it.

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Thomas Wood

The Overnight from Lisbon

September 28th, 2009
by Thomas Wood

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-

The story of ‘my most-memorable train ride’ is often elicited, and appropriately renamed, by many differing topics of conversation.  Sometimes it’s somebody talking about how drunk they got one night, or how paranoid.  Occasionally, it’s just a mention of hash, or how hash is more prevalent in Europe than it is in America.  On these occasions I sometimes change the tale to include words like devilish or exotic, giving it a more melodramatic air, and am sure to mention the many strange smells that passed by my nose that night.  My favorite point of entry is when somebody brings up chardonnay, or languages, or anything to do with translation, because it always gives me warrant to start the story early enough to really set up the wonder and horror of the night.

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Simon Smithson

Leaving (for) Los Angeles

September 28th, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I stopped into Los Angeles recently; I wanted to get a new guitar strap and there was also this minor literary thing that I figured I could go to while I was there. It was a good trip, and one that I will cheerfully blog about at some length. There are some stories that must be told, and moments that I fear will haunt me forever unless I sobbingly confess them to the internet at large. Like the point over dinner when I suddenly realised that the twinkle in Brad Listi’s eye wasn’t pleasantly welcoming bonhomie at all, but rather a deep and unforgiving madness (the two look remarkably similar).  Or the time I first heard Greg Olear’s voice, and I knew in my bones that terror had a new favourite uncle. Even now, I can’t close my eyes without seeing Rachel Pollon laugh and laugh and tie Ben Loory to a railroad track (the story of how he survived is one of incredible heroism, skull-shattering evil, and one man’s surprisingly aerodynamic straw hat).

But these are things that will have to wait until my next post, as I have other things to say first. (more…)