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TNB 3.0 - Coming Soon! 
The Nervous Breakdown is proud to announce the impending launch of a brand new and greatly expanded version of the site. It's all happening sometime this Sunday, November 15th. Please stay tuned. This should be interesting.


TNB TV 
Brad Listi, author and founder of The Nervous Breakdown, issues a brief video transmission to officially announce the imminent launch of TNB 3.0 on Sunday, November 15, 2009. Like all TNB contributors, Mr. Listi is very excited about this new development, but it may not show as well as it should, because he is heavily sedated somewhat sleep-deprived. Regardless: Exciting times. Stay tuned.
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. Read 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. Read more »

Richard Cox

Add Intensity, Subtract Limpness

November 6th, 2009
by Richard Cox

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-

The other day I was walking down Market Street, enjoying a rare day of calm winds and clear, sunny skies, when a stranger approached me. His hair was brown and coarse, like horsehair, which he clearly hadn’t washed in weeks. Maybe months. He was short and swarthy and wore a thick, bushy moustache and a black trench coat that was too big for him. I tried to walk around him, delete him from my life, but he swerved to intercept me. This is what always happens. You can’t get away from these guys.

Read 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?

Read 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.” Read more »

Autumn Kindelspire

Unbreakable

November 6th, 2009
by Autumn Kindelspire

BROOKLYN, NY -

When I was four, a bottler rocket blew up in my face. When I was ten, I swan-dived into the street, knocking out a tooth and damaging the cartilage in my nose. Over the course of my life, I’ve fallen twenty-feet from a tree, had a rusty nail go through my sneaker and most of the way through my foot, and been in more car accidents than I can count. But, I’ve never once broken a bone, and I only have three noticeable scars on my body.

My friend Neil says I’m unbreakable.

“Like the Bruce Willis movie?”

Read more »

Thomas Wood

Why I’m Allergic to Mint

November 5th, 2009
by Thomas Wood

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-

I used to tell people the simple truth:  that I just don’t like mint.  The ensuing conversation was never simple.

“What?  Wait—you mean, like, mint, like the leaf?”

“Yes.”

“How can you not like mint?” Read 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.

Read more »

Megan DiLullo, Erika Rae, and Lenore Zion

Girl, You’ll Be a Bond Woman Soon, or, Happy Birthday Rich Ferguson, TNB Style

November 3rd, 2009
by Megan DiLullo, Erika Rae, and Lenore Zion

THE DARK RECESSES OF OUR MINDS-

Rich Ferguson, because it’s your birthday and because you just make being a Bond Girl so insanely cool, we’ve run a little contest in your honor: Who Makes the Best Bond Girl?

As you will see, several of the TNB guys have slipped into something a little more comfortable in your honor. So, quiet your inner Wai Lin, have a martini and leave your briefcase tear gas canister and testosterone at the door.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

Ronlyn Domingue

My Horrible New York Times Review

November 3rd, 2009
by Ronlyn Domingue

NEAR 91 DEGREES LONGITUDE-

Here’s the good news. My first novel was reviewed by the New York Times.

Here’s the bad news. It was a horrible review.

I do not hyperbolize. It was really bad. So that you understand how terrible it is, I’ve included it entirely as the next full paragraph. Please feel free to gasp, snicker, or laugh aloud at any time during my cautionary tale, even if you think you shouldn’t. Release the humours. It’s healthier that way.

Fiction Chronicle, Sunday, November 20, 2005. The Mercy of Thin Air (Atria Books)

Domingue’s first novel is like “The Lovely Bones” minus the lovely prose;

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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.

Rob Bloom

Sky’s the Limit

November 2nd, 2009
by Rob Bloom

PHILADELPHIA-

Show of hands, guys. How many times have you been sitting in your living room, beer in one hand, backup beer in the other, watching TV, when out of the corner of your eye you notice that old bookcase of yours and suddenly realize what’s been bugging you for months, maybe even years, but have never been able to articulate in a clear, succinct statement, namely: “if only I had a gigantic wooden replica of a World War 1 propeller to prop in front of this bookcase!”

Read more »

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.)

Read more »

Steve Sparshott

Access Small Areas

November 2nd, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

Being disabled and not being a billionaire evil genius is a shite state of affairs.

After a six year trial period, I’ve decided it’s not for me. The problem is context—context being, supposedly, everything. You see, I didn’t spec my environment; I don’t have a hollowed-out island full of boiler-suited minions, with smooth floors and rapid, spacious lifts. I have London, and it’s a fucking disgrace.
Read more »

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.

Read more »

Simon Smithson

It’s The Strangest Thing

November 1st, 2009
by Simon Smithson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-

I’m of two minds about posting this. Mainly because I’m worried that when my hat-wearing, bullet-riddled corpse is found on the wrong side of the border with a simultaneous death-grip on both an empty bottle of Jose Cuervo and a silver .45, the eventual court proceedings will employ this post and previous ones from TNB as Exhibit A: When It All Started To Go Wrong For Simon And We Were Left With No Option But To Bring Him Down.

But hey, it’s Halloween. So enjoy!

Read more »