Monday, June 15, 2015

French Architecture Edition: Tomato

Spending the summer in France, where I'm pretending to know buildings. Seen in Toulouse, June 11th, 2015

If the city were a tomato, Véra's apartment would be the ugly green nub at the top that everyone is quick to discard. Next to all the stately red brick architecture, her building appeared sickly. She hated living there, but it was the cheapest place she could find in the center of town--and she would accept nothing less than the center of town. Véra didn't get an engineering degree only to live in some 1970's, concrete, metal-shutters monstrosity across the river. She didn't get a job at CNES to have to take the bus.

That's why, the morning that her boss let her go--false words of sympathy dripping from below his mustache and pooling on his fat stomach along with a few mustard stains--she didn't blame her performance, or sexism, or her education, or her upbringing. She blamed her building. She should have tried harder, looked online for more listings, borrowed money to afford rustic rooms in a medieval house with flowers in the window boxes.

When she got home, she bought tomatoes from a nearby produce stand and pelted the walls. The juice and seeds were paler than she'd hoped, but beneath the light of the setting sun, the wet plaster was almost the right color.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

French Architecture Edition: A Request Fulfilled

Spending the summer in France, where I'm pretending to know buildings. Seen in Toulouse, June 10th, 2015

When she said, "I don't want to see you anymore," he immediately set about fulfilling her request, as he had always fulfilled her requests, regardless of their prudence, impetuousness, or frivolity. He had no experience in construction, so he did what he could: dredging up stones from the shallows of the river, scooping up gravel from the paths of public gardens. He turned the stones this way and that, searching for angles that nearly matched. For adhesive, he used up what little was left in his kitchen; he concocted a simple dough of flour and water, and he added honey and sugar for good measure. The mixture was surprisingly strong. His wall grew in jagged rows, eventually rising to the top of the rosy brick arch.

When the wall was halfway built, she began pleading for him to stop, recanting her previous request. But he could not bear to leave this monument to his devotion incomplete. Whenever she came by, he hid behind the unfinished barrier, pressing himself flat against the wall. By the time she left, his face was marked with an irregular red geometry. He continued construction at night, cheered on by the drunkards wobbling home.

As he stuck the final row together, fingers white with his impromptu paste, he regretted the lack of ceremony--but only for a moment. Only she needed to know that this was a testament to his loyalty--no one else. Through the cracks, he could hear her weeping. That was enough.

She returned for three, maybe four evenings, to beg at the wall--no one can remember for sure. After not having received a payment for many months, the landlord wanted to lease the rooms to another tenant. He hired a crew of men. They came with saws and power tools. They sliced a thin, rectangular doorway into the wall with sharp, straight lines. They knocked over the slab they had removed, and it shattered on the street, clumps of its stones kicked away by children.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Seattle Edition: Rita

Seen on the ferry to Bainbridge Island at about 3:30 p.m., February 27th, 2014

Rita rides the ferry daily, its floating concrete sturdier than land, unsinkable. She eats popcorn. The cloud-choked mountains and black pine shadows are better from a distance, murky symmetry shadowed on a rippling glass floor. She cannot see the people on shore, and the people on board are safe like her, silent, island-backbone-mesmerized, wind-strewn, soft-motor-lulled.

More of a vignette than a story, but that's okay. So exhausted! But sleep is for the weak. Must take in as much of Seattle as I can while I'm here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seattle Edition: Essa

Seen at Elliott Bay Book Company at about 3:30 p.m., February 26th, 2014

Essa's father was a tree and her mother was a botanist. When he rocked her in his limbs, when he shook fruit from his branches for dinner, when he cushioned her head with his moss, her father rustled her heritage, the slaughter of his family, all for a paper mill, all for the printed word. Then Essa's mother would kiss her cheek and say that she didn't need books because all the stories she could ever want already lived in her head.

Essa's father died a few years ago--Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation--and her devastated mother went soon after, convinced she would never find another tree as sturdy and green. Essa moved to Seattle then, moved in with an anarcho-punk squatter who loved the outdoors and viewed written language as a tool of the Capitalist overlords. Today she found him sleeping with a young lithe tree, a sapling really, and when sap oozed from her eyes he said he was sorry but half just wasn't natural enough.

Essa is in the bookstore now, she is angry, she is flipping through the pages, eyes skimming over the shapes of words, feeling the paper, searching for family.

Today I ate nothing but meat, potatoes, beer, and an ice cream cone. I hate myself a little bit right now. I love Seattle, though. Gorgeous town.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Seattle Edition: Marge

For the next few days I will be briefly reviving Pretending to Know You while I attend the AWP Conference in Seattle

Seen at Seattle Coffee Works at about 4 p.m., Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Marge likes to pour her own milk in, make sure it's just so. There is such a thing as too hot for her drink, and there is such a thing as too cold for her body--stump neck wrapped and round head covered, despite the sun. No rain is better than rain, but no rain isn't good enough to make her stop thinking she should have moved to Florida with Jean when she had the chance. There is no such thing as too close to her sister.

Marge owns one pot and one dog and she buys two large stalks of broccoli, one for her pot and one for her dog because lately the hills have been reminding her to watch her weight. There is such a thing as too heavy, there is no such thing as too much butter. And that's Marge's problem: her suches and her no suches are her closest companions. Not even her dog is closer--her dog likes his broccoli just so, and he can't tell Marge how to make it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Seen at the Freakin' Frog at about 6 p.m., September 26th, 2013

Instead of writing her reflection essay, Lenore creates fake profiles on OkCupid. She pretends to be men with overbearing mothers and terrible grammar. She pulls pathetic selfies from Google images.


im normally into asians but your so beautiful I just had to say hi :D

U look like a real women and Im a real man, no question...Ive got lots of big guns at home....Id be happy to show you, gorgeus. 

On her own OkCupid profile, under "I spend a lot of time thinking about," Lenore listed:

crushing dreams

I'm back on the ol' OKC. Thought it might be a fun way to meet people outside of the program, even just for friendship purposes. Not that I don't adore all my MFA-ers, but I don't see anything wrong with widening my circle of friends out here.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Seen at the movies near Summerlin, September 28th, 2013

Is this what growing up is supposed to be? Maturity? With all the girls before Tess it was one night only, a happy conquest. Not even a phone call afterwards. I'd get what I wanted and she'd get over it. 

Eventually something changed. My single friends ceased to exist. Desperation coated my mother's throat when she asked if I'd met any nice girls at school. Even my older brothers started calling me a douchebag. 

I settled on Tess because she likes video games and has long, tangled stripper hair. She buys me sweater vests and drags me to Jane Austen movies. Jane Austen. Once in my high school English class I said I'd like to hate-fuck Jane Austen. I got a detention. 

Now I hate-fuck Tess, and she doesn't even notice. She thinks it's just bedroom talk. She likes it rough.

This week my classmates' workshop pieces were all about somewhat deranged sexual relationships. Can you tell I've been reading them?