Tag Archives: humor

Haunting Borders

Yesterday, all I did for the entire day was haunt Borders.

Borders is an excellent place to haunt. They have ready-made spaces for haunters–though admittedly, those spaces have become few and far between since they moved all the chairs back to the café section. They used to have chairs all over the place, but I think someone wised up to the fact that dedicated readers sitting in the café are more likely to purchase something than dedicated readers sitting out of range of the food smells.

So. My friend Lell and I haunted the cafe for nigh on to five hours. (Borders’ plan worked, by the way; we both bought food). During those five hours, I rediscovered the joy of working in large chunks of time. It ensures that you get more done. By the end of the day, I couldn’t believe how far I’d moved along in FLYNN’s editing process.

The best situation, of course, is if you can work for a long chunk of time with a friend. It makes the time go faster if you have another human to take short breaks with. Especially if that other human is receiving periodic updates from her sister who is stranded at the Dallas airport. It’s like getting little segments of a “to-be-continued” story as you are writing your own story.

We saw another of my friends there, by completely random coincidence, and that creepy guy I’ve seen before who I’m halfway convinced is a stalker. Only stalkers wear baseball caps over their eyebrows and peer at you from over the rim of impossibly tiny glasses, right?

All in all, it was a great day of haunting, and I highly recommend a bookstore haunt to any author wishing to get serious edits done. I think I will do it again next Wednesday. Hopefully minus creepy guy and plus Lell again.

RHDavis

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A Busy Week

Pub Board discussions are going on this week at Written World Communications. It’s quite an exciting time as we look at a selection of submitted work and decide which items to pick for publication this year. We’re hoping to start the year off with a bang, and also to be diverse in the fiction we publish. We have discussed genres from romance to historical to paranormal thriller. Just have to wait and see how things shake out as far as what will be published, and when.

Aside from that, I have taken a delightful stroll with FLYNN through the first chapters of her adventures these last two days. I love the final stages of editing–when you don’t have to change much, but you get to focus on making the wording ever-more delicious and stare anxiously at your word count as you find unnecessary “that”s and “then”s and “had”s that really shouldn’t have been there anyway because, let’s face it, you cheated a little bit and used those words you weren’t supposed to use in your prose!

I’ve also been reminiscing about my time working at a small newspaper in northern Illinois. I loved all the strange quirkiness of being at a newspaper. The man we called “Captain Underpants” because he came into the office in boxers and a wife beater. The suspicious pile of dead hogs that my boss happened upon on a farm and tried to do an exposé on. The automated phone message that would always call the office and begin “Hi. This is not a joke.” Ah, good times. I never thought I would miss anything about living up north, but Ogle County Newspapers is it.

Back to work for the day. I received a message from an agent, letting me know she’ll be looking over my query soon, so stay tuned for any news!

RHDavis

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9 Shocking Moments of 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, most of us look back on the year’s events with fondness. Or grimaces, depending on which event you’re thinking of. This was a year of “shocker” moments–every couple of months, it seemed, we were blindsided by some unexpected news story. Some made us sniffle, some made us angry. Some were so strange that we simply blinked at our televisions for a few seconds, then turned to the people around us to make sure that we really did just see that.

The Nine Shocking Moments of 2009 is an attempt to pay tribute to this year of shockers. It sticks mostly to pop-culture, with a couple of exceptions. A few political and economic concerns were so big and so shocking that they made it into the awareness of even the most tuned-out tabloid-reading pop culture junkies.

#9: Jon & Kate Plus Eight Minus Jon = Tabloids.

Jon and Kate Gosselin’s failed marriage shocked many fans of the show–not because their breakup was sudden, but because we couldn’t believe it would happen to them. Jon and Kate embodied for many the ideal of making your family dynamics work, no matter how difficult.

#8: Blaggo on the Radio.

Wait a second! I thought we finally got rid of Rod Blagojevich. Wasn’t he removed from office? Isn’t he kind of — in the doghouse — with most of the country? How on earth did he weasel his way into hosting a talk show? Did everyone in the Chicago radio industry get collective amnesia and forget that most of Illinois doesn’t want to listen to Blaggo anymore?

#7: AIG Bonu — er, *cough*, —  I Mean BAILOUTS.

An economy in crisis. People losing homes right and left. Companies filing for bankruptcy. And the people at AIG really think it’s okay to use their portion of bailout money to make life super comfortable for their elite members? The shock factor here comes from the fact that they’re either horrendously stupid or gutsier than most of us could ever hope to be.

#6.: Quinto vs. Nimoy.

The new “Star Trek” movie is the strongest proof yet that human cloning is possible. Audiences sat stunned in the midnight showings, unable to comprehend the sight of a living, breathing, 40-years-younger version of the original Spock. If Zachary Quinto is not a clone of Leonard Nimoy, then I am a yellow-bellied marmot.

#5: Balloon Boy.

Imagine listening to your friend’s half of the phone conversation when she hears this story for the first time. “A kid floated away in what? But he really didn’t? They think who was behind it?”   ‘Nuff said.

#4: White House Party Crashers.

Sure, I was surprised when I heard that Tareq and Michaele Salahi managed to sneak past White House security. But the really surprising part? The centuries-long stretch of media coverage that followed the ordeal. Please notify the online news sources that we never again want to hear anything about this story.

#3: And the Nobel Prize Winner Is…Obama.

Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Whether you agree that President Obama should get the Nobel Peace Prize or not, you have to admit, it was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Come on, admit it. You shook your head and cleaned out your ears to make sure you heard right, just like the rest of us did.

#2. Gimme That Mike!

Oh Kanye. Kanye, Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. Kanye. What were you thinking?

And the number one shocker moment of 2009:

#1. WHO died?!?!

What? Michael Jackson died? But–but he’s like a permanent part of my world. He’s always been there. Like the moon or the rocky mountains or plastic. What will the tabloids talk about now that he’s gone? Who will I make fun of as being the ultimate in child-man creepy? More importantly, does this mean the 80s are officially over?? (Oh by the way, we miss you too Farrah!)

What about you? Any shocker moments you think I missed? How about this; do you remember where you were when you heard these stories? I’ll start: I was driving home from the gym when I heard about Michael Jackson.

This post was brought to you by Up and Writing as part of Daniel Scocco’s latest group writing project. Check his Daily Blog Tips for links to other bloggers reviewing the best and worst of 2009!

RHDavis

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Tuesdays With Tuesday–Week 3

Welcome to Tuesdays with Tuesday. For last week’s installment, go here.

Tuesday

So, my post is a couple of days late. Things happened this week–things I didn’t really want to talk about right away. But now events are escalating, and I have to write it all down to try and make sense of it.

On Monday, a detective visited our office. Yes, you heard right. An honest-to-goodness chain-smoking modern day Sherlock Holmes in a pair of worn-out loafers and a pressed white shirt. He had this dark brown mustache that bristled out under his nose, like one of those woolly worms you find crossing the road in hordes every autumn. It moved like a woolly worm every time he talked. I kept expecting it to crawl away.

He introduced himself as Detective Dawes, and called us into the break room one by one to talk about–what else?–Ike Cleavers. That’s all anyone in this office can think about these days.

Detective Dawes talked to Misty first, then some of the guys Ike worked with on his latest project. Then he called Penny back. After about ten minutes, she minced back out with small lines pinched around her mouth. When she sat down, her fingers fidgeted with the papers on her desk, but she didn’t really look at them.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

Her lower lip disappeared under the worried chewing of her teeth. It left a ruby red lipstick smear on her left cuspid. “He thinks Ike was in some kind of trouble,” she said.

“Legal trouble?”

She shook her head. “In trouble as in, had some kind of enemy.” She spoke the words low, glanced around, and went back to work.

I blinked, sat back in the chair to digest this. I’m no stranger to the phenomenon of making enemies. In this world, if you think for yourself even a fraction of the time, you’re going to piss somebody off, and you’d better just get used to it. The concept didn’t alarm me too much, though obviously Penny thought it tantamount to discussing the anti-Christ.

“Tuesday!” Misty shouted down the hall. “Your turn.”

I found Detective Dawes both professional and un-alarming. Unless you count the previously mentioned face-woolly-worm an alarming feature, which, arguably, you could. But he kept me quite calm and on track during his questioning. He started with how well I knew Ike.

“Not very,” I said. “He’d ask me to file something for him every now and then. Sometimes we said hi in the break room, or waved when he passed my house on his runs.”

“He lives near you?” Detective Dawes said. “How close?”

“A few blocks. You have to make a couple turns to get there.”

“So you can’t see his driveway from your home?”

“No,” I said, wondering at the weird question. “It’s way too far. Why?”

“We’re trying to find out if any strange visitors or cars have been to Ike’s house in the past few weeks. Do you ever pass by his home?”

Thus began a long process of digging for information about anyone unusual who might have contacted Ike recently. I was singularly unhelpful; Ike truly is not a part of my daily routine other than the odd hello at work.

“Detective Dawes,” I said at last, “may I ask what this is about? Where do you think Ike went?”

He sat up straighter, and the woolly worm twitched. “Mrs. Jones, to be perfectly frank, we think he might have been killed.”

I’ve no idea why I didn’t recognize this as a possibility in the last two weeks. I assumed Ike had disappeared on purpose, maybe gotten in a fight with a girlfriend or had a sudden personal emergency. I even wondered if he’d run from a huge debt owed to drug lords or something (because drug lords are so prevalent in mid-sized southern Illinois towns). The thought that he might actually be rotting in someone’s trunk had not crossed my mind.

Now I understood why Penny was so upset.

Luckily, the work day came to a close not long after my interview with Detective Dawes, and I scuttled home before I could do too much damage with my half-distracted brain.

But the thing that really upset me happened today, when I came home from work a few minutes ago.

I was on my way up the ramshackle staircase to our apartment when Mr. Chicory came out his front door. I think the metallic squeal of our apartment stairs draws him outside with the promise of conversation, because he always catches me, no matter how quietly I pull into my drive.

I hoped I could get rid of him by talking about something unpleasant, so I went for broke. “Hey Mr. Chicory. I found out today that Ike Cleavers was most likely murdered. He’s probably in bloody pieces in the back of someone’s car right now. Weird huh?” I said a silent prayer of apology for being so irreverent of the dead, but come on. It’s Mr. Chicory. I’m sure Ike wouldn’t mind.

“I heard something about that from his next-door neighbors,” Mr. Chicory said. “Though your version is a bit more grotesque.” He said this with an air of long-suffering, as though I had begged him to come out here only to regale him with gore.

I kept going up the stairs, hoping he would take the hint and go back inside. “Well, have a nice day,” I said. I was now high up enough to glance over his back fence at the mound of dirt still sitting unattended in his back yard. “You doing any more gardening?”

Even from halfway up the stairs, I heard the impatient sigh escape his nose. “Why would I be gardening in the middle of winter?”

“I don’t know.” I gestured to the mound of earth. “Why are you?”

Mr. Chicory’s head swiveled towards his back yard so fast I thought it would fly right off his shoulders. His eyes went wide behind those thick glasses, and he actually stuttered. “I–I see. You saw that, did you?” He eyed me where I stood on the staircase, then his glance darted again in the direction of the high fence around his back yard. His fingers laced together, and something about the quick gesture spoke of nerves.

I raised an eyebrow. What was his problem? Had he not realized that Jonah and I could see over his back fence into the inner sanctum of his precious yard? Just what was he doing back there that was so secretive any–

My eyes slid back to the mound of earth. Rectangular. About three by seven feet.

It suddenly connected in my head that the mound of earth appeared the weekend Ike went missing.

In slow motion, and almost against my will, I felt myself turn and lock eyes with Mr. Chicory. His watery black pupils stayed riveted to me from behind the glasses, and a slow line formed on his brow. For a moment, paralysis gripped my limbs.

“Well.” I forced myself to break out of the horrible moment. I moved my feet up the stairs, and forced a painful smile to my lips. “I guess you’re getting the ground ready for next spring then, right? My dad does that with his garden this time of year. Always helps a lot. Good thinking.” I turned and flew up the steps two at a time. “See you tomorrow.”

I slammed and locked the door behind me, but I swear I could feel his calculating gaze on my apartment windows. I was shaking so hard that I just dropped my purse and coat and everything on the floor and stumbled into the office. I sat in the desk chair, hunched over the warm radiator to think.

My dad doesn’t have a garden. I have no idea if tilling the soil in the fall is a common practice. But if it’s not, Mr. Chicory is going to know that I lied, and he’s going to figure that I lied so he won’t suspect me of guessing his secret.

To be honest, this whole thing is absurd. It’s a complete coincidence that just looks bad. Mr. Chicory and Ike hardly knew each other. There’s no reason to suspect that Mr. Chicory has Ike buried in his back yard. And that weird look Mr. Chicory gave me just now–well, he always gives me weird looks.

I hoped that if I wrote all this out, it would make me realize how foolish I’m being. But I don’t feel foolish. I feel like I’ve just walked in on a crime in progress. I’m the only one who knows. And Mr. Chicory knows that. And that means

Hang on, gotta go, I hear footsteps coming up the outside staircase!

TJ

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Tuesdays with Tuesday–Week 2

Welcome to the second installment of “Tuesdays with Tuesday,” where our literary friend Tuesday Jones expounds upon the virtues and disillusionment of post-grad life. For last week’s installment, go here.

Tuesday

So after last week’s laundry list of every grotesquely dull thing that happened to me, I had serious doubts about continuing this series of posts. But, in an odd twist of events, something happened this week that’s actually worth talking about.

Ike Cleavers disappeared from the face of this planet.

You remember Ike Cleavers, right? My neighbor and co-worker who I assumed skipped work due to swine flu? Turns out he doesn’t have swine flu–or, more to the point, if he does, no one knows about it. He hasn’t been to work, at his house, or seen any friends and family since last Friday.

My boss Misty shouted this at me and Penny today in the break room. I’m not sure why she shouted it. We were sitting right there in front of her. But Misty has only two tones of voice: so bored she can barely get the words to roll out of her mouth; so loud that the words reverberate around the office. I guess she thought dire news like Ike’s disappearance required more than a bored drone.

Everyone at work knew Ike had been absent for over a week, but we thought it a purposeful move on his part. We assumed he came to his senses and escaped this rainy little town for an exotic bachelor pad in Florida or Cancun. Maybe the Swiss Alps. I had my money on Japan, actually. We thought he got so fed up with our ridiculous workplace that he failed to give two weeks’ notice. I wish that were the case.

I barely had time to ingest this news before marching back to work. As a result, I floated around in a preoccupied haze for the rest of the day.  I always thought my job was mindless, until I actually tried to do it with my mind somewhere else. Instead of answering the phones with “Comp Systems Incorporated, this is Tuesday,” I accidentally blurted things like “Ike Systems Incorporated,” or “Comp Systems Incorporated, this is Ike Cleavers,” and even “Comp Tuesdays Incorporated, this is Cleaver, how can I assystems you today?” Yeah. I finally begged off sick and went home an hour early.

I’m not sure why the thing about Ike bugs me so much. It’s just weird, knowing someone who vanished. You see it on 48 Hours and Unsolved Mysteries, but don’t expect it to happen to your neighbor.

As if a vanished coworker, an angry boss and embarrassing phone slip-ups weren’t enough, fate saw to it that Mr. Chicory was outside when I came home, so I had to make polite small talk for a minute. And he was in one of his difficult moods.

“Boy, we’ve been having a lot of rain,” I said.

“Oh, not nearly as much as last year,” he said, and surveyed the looming clouds.

“Well, at least it’s not too cold,” I tried.

“Supposed to get below freezing tonight,” he offered helpfully.

“Oh?” I cocked an eyebrow at the fence around his back yard. “Kind of an odd time to start a new garden then, isn’t it?”

“Well who in their right mind would start a new garden in November?” He gave me an owlish glare through those square wire-rims of his–the lenses magnify his eyes to the radius of small pancakes–and wrinkled all the skin around his brow as though I were the most ignorant child he’d ever had the displeasure to live next door to. I sighed, and decided not to get into an argument about the garden plot I’d freaking seen him digging in not ten days ago. Contradicting Mr. Chicory is a bit like dealing with a case of badger-bite in which the badger won’t let go of its victim’s leg–unless of course you break its jaws, and I didn’t feel like doing that to Mr. Chicory. I doubt it would slow his talking much anyway.

I have to admit, I’m a little shaken by Ike’s disappearance.  Even tucked away in our cozy upstairs apartment, I feel something akin to the creeps. Thus I’m in my office, arguably the safest and most defensible bit of the house–a little leftover space in the corner of the upstairs, with only one entrance and a locking door, and a window overlooking the porch roof to serve as emergency escape. My desk and shelves take up most of the floor space, and I  sit practically on top of the hot water heater, so it’s probably a massive fire hazard. But it’s an office; I’m lucky to have that in this neighborhood of divvied-up houses, where most apartments sport only one bedroom, squealing floorboards and ragged paint from the 1980s.

I just have to keep the creeps at bay until Jonah comes home.

Tuesday M Jones

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Tuesdays with Tuesday

In light of several time-consuming events (vacation, FLYNN, NaNoWriMo, graphic novel, part-time job-hunting), I thought it prudent to have someone help contribute posts for me now and again. My good friend Tuesday Jones volunteered to submit posts once a week. We’re calling it “Tuesdays with Tuesday.” You’ll like Tuesday; she is just a scream.

I am Tuesday’s scribe. We met years ago when she needed someone to help tell the amazing stories of her life. Our first attempt involved the story of how she helped catch a killer who’d been working at her mom’s office for ten years. We then tried our hand at her amazing Halloween story, which involved an old mansion, faked deaths, a car chase that actually involved buses rather than cars, and a lot of boobie-traps.

I finally said “Tuesday, you have such a unique voice and a poignant sense of humor; you really ought to try writing yourself.” After some prodding, I talked her into contributions for the blog.

So I turn the spotlight over to her for the day. I don’t know what she will write about–she hasn’t told me–but I know that if it’s coming from Tuesday, it’s bound to be entertaining.

Tuesday

Hello to all you Up and Writing followers. My name is Tuesday. Tuesday Jones.

And before you ask–no, it’s not a pen name. My parents actually named me Tuesday. And no, it wasn’t some lame attempt to be cool like “Indiana Jones.” It was more the result of my mother wanting me to have a name that no other kid in my class would have. Well, they got that part right. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t name me Saturday. Saturday is unquestionably a more interesting day of the week.  And Saturday Jones has such a nice ring to it, don’t you think? I’ve asked them about this, but my mother staunchly defends her choice of Tuesday.

Well, what can I tell you? Rachel expects me to churn out brilliant blog posts, but in truth, I can’t think of a single thing to talk about. She’s mentioned some of my crazy high school adventures already–and I assure you, college held even more adventure–but since graduation, I can’t think of anything to talk about but my mundane day-to-day existence. Perhaps that’s a good enough start.

Today I woke up in the same old bedroom in the same old upstairs apartment, went down the same old stairs of the same old two-story house, stepped onto the same old porch and surveyed the same old neighborhood I’ve lived in for about a year now. It’s so boring around here. Every morning I go outside and wave to Mr. Chicory, our retiree neighbor. This morning he was doing his boring old gardening–standing on his front porch with a huge shovel, covered in a layer of blackish mud up to his thighs. I think he’s planting a big garden in the backyard or something–I caught a glimpse over his fence and saw disturbed earth right by his patio. You’d think if he had done enough work to get mud up to his thighs he would’ve had more to show for it than a seven-by-three rectangular mound.

Mr. Chicory waved and said “Hey kiddo!” Like always. I gritted my teeth. At twenty-two-and-a-half, I don’t appreciate being called “kiddo” anymore. I didn’t appreciate it when I was a kid.

I lied and said good morning, though truly it wasn’t a good morning at all–the rain has come back. This year, October dumped as much rain on us as November usually does. So, to make up for it, November decided to behave like October, with sun and mild temperatures. But last night it came to its senses and unleashed a steady, cold shower.

Well. Fine. I can outlast it until spring.

The rain kept up all day–I watched it from the office window, though my watching was periodically interrupted by answering the telephone and telling people that yes, so-and-so was here, or no, so-and-so wasn’t here, but would you like to leave them a voice mail? And then, for the older set, a long explanation of what voice mail is and why they might want to leave one. Thanks so much, and do call again.

Between that, the rain and studying the toe tips of my black heels, the day passed quietly. Even Penny didn’t bother me too much. Penny sits closest to me in the front office. In truth I don’t remember her real name. I call her Penny in my head because she dresses like a JC Penney’s model–tans and grays, smart heels, white blouses, not a wrinkle in sight. Neutral. Proper. Adult. Everything I pretend to be while in this office, but am not in reality.

Anyway, Penny only bugged me once, to talk about her plans for hosting Thanksgiving. She’s in her early thirties, and very caught up in being a mature grown-up who does mature grown-up things. She asked if I myself would try my hand at entertaining now Jonah and I have a bigger place. I smiled politely, running through emergency scenarios in my head of a turkey catching fire in my oven, cranberries roiling from the stove top and engulfing the floor, boiling gravy spitting brown spots all over the kitchen and me–and told her that my mother is pretty insistent about keeping family gatherings at her house for now. Penny cooed how nice that was, that I didn’t have to worry about cooking for once. Yes, this is true. My microwave noodles can take a break for one day.

Our boss Misty–a beefy, forty-something pit bull of a woman–stormed in right about then demanding to know where Ike was, and cut the conversation short. Ike Cleavers hadn’t shown up for work, and Misty suspected Penny and I of receiving his call-in-sick and failing to tell her. We worked for about five minutes to convince her he hadn’t called, and after that Spanish Inquisition was over, I wondered briefly about Ike. He lives in my neighborhood. In a smallish town like this, you usually end up more interconnected with people than you’d like.

Sad to say, that was my entire day. I drove my clunking blue car home in the rain, and saw Mr. Chicory outside again. He had finally ditched that ridiculously huge shovel for a more appropriate garden-trowel, though for all his appearance of the diligent gardener the seven-by-three mound hadn’t grown in size since this morning. I asked Mr. Chicory if he’d noticed Ike out for his usual morning run lately, and he said not since Friday–which was the last time I saw Ike, too, at work. I determined that Ike must have come down with swine flu, and thought briefly about jumping into a Hazmat suit and taking him some soup or something. Then I realized that taking a sick neighbor some food would be the final step to becoming my mother, and abandoned the idea immediately.

Jonah came home. His honey-colored hair looks hottest when it’s wet and sticking up everywhere. We had microwave noodles for dinner.

I really wish something would happen around here. Hopefully these Tuesday appointments won’t just become the whine sessions of a bored, disillusioned college grad.

Tuesday M Jones

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Another silly rat obit–rest in peace, Ziggy

by Rachel Heston Davis

Ziggy Rat
Ziggy the Rat (aka Ziggurat), two-and-a-half, of Edwardsville, IL, died Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 at Hawthorne Animal Hospital from complications of mammary cancer and old age.

Born in early 2007, Ziggy spent the first part of his life in Petco of Rockford, IL before being purchased by the Davis family and taken to Oregon, IL.

Ziggy was a quiet, unassuming rat. He served as second in command under his cagemate Krycek, and bore many months of being turned on his back and groomed against his will on Krycek’s whims. Later in life, Ziggy became co-dictator of the cage when Krycek’s aging body put them on equal footing, and the brother rats lived out their retirement as friends.

Ziggy’s favorite hobbies were eating; jumping from the chair to the couch; hopping; weaving his head at sharp noises; begging for Yogies; and climbing up his owners to reach whatever food they were eating.

Ziggy is survived by a mamma rat Rachel; a dadda rat Jaron; four grandparent rats; aunt rats Holly and Christy; many friends; his favorite plastic igloo; and a bucket of Yogies. He was preceded in death by his cagemate Krycek.

A private ceremony was held late Sept. 29 at The Pasture cemetary, Heston Residence, IL.  The family has requested that all memorials be made in the form of spreading the word about the evils of feeding live rodents to snakes.

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