Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sonny & Marcia

Seen at C2E2 at about 12:30 p.m., April 27th, 2013

Beth told me I shouldn’t take Marcia to see The Avengers. “It’s too violent for a kid her age,” she insisted. Luckily, Beth can’t police what Marcia and I do on our weekends. So I took her to see it anyway, and she loved it, just as I predicted. She’s definitely daddy’s little girl.

Naturally, Beth wasn’t pleased when I announced my plans to bring Marcia to C2E2.

“She’s going to get tired, you know. And there are so many people there. Think of all the diseases!”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take her home if she needs a nap, or have her sleep during a panel. And I can bring hand sanitizer, so I think we’ll be ok.”

“She won’t be ok. Sonny, are you trying to make her believe she’s something she’s not?”

“Um, not exactly. We’d dress up, of course—”

“That’s the worst part. Marcia says she wants to be Captain America.”

“What’s wrong with that? Steve Rogers is a good guy. Fighting evil from Nazis to—”

“Captain America is a boy.”

“Well, yes. But loads of people dress up as characters that don’t match their gender, and—”

“Look, Sonny. Maybe all you wanted was a little boy to share your ridiculous comics obsession with. But you have a daughter. If she’s going to dress up as anything at all, it should be a Princess or a—”

“Beth! That’s absurd.”

“I don’t think so. You want her to believe that she can switch her gender at random, and that she’s more powerful than she is. It’s a cruel world—”

“Yes, Beth. It is a cruel world. That’s why I want Marcia to know—not just believe—that she is strong, and that she can be whatever she wants to be, and that she can change the world for the better.”

Needless to say, I took Marcia to the con. At three and one-third feet tall, she was the mightiest Captain America I’ve ever seen. She put all the other superheroes to shame.

She was also the cutest Captain America I've ever seen. One of my favorite things about C2E2 is seeing all the little kids in their costumes. It's pretty adorable. 

Monday, April 29, 2013


Seen working a booth at C2E2 on both Friday, April 26th and Saturday, April 27th

I'm really more of a Clark Kent guy, but I feel like there's a little Superman in me somewhere. A little brave, a little strong, a little alien. Mostly I'm quiet, and I do what other people tell me. I won't do it if it's wrong--at least, I think I won't, but I have no proof. There's not usually a chance to test my moral fortitude in daily life. The things people tell me to do generally consist of "write this email" or "go fax this" or "grab me some coffee, would you?" Whatever Superman is in there, it's well-hidden.

Sorry there was no story last Friday--I left early to head to C2E2. So there will be quite a few stories from there this week, I imagine. I wasn't able to go on Sunday, though. I got really sick. Hence, working from home today. I'm not sure this drabble is all that great, but to be fair, it was written quite quickly. Greg was this cute guy I saw. Each day he wore a suit and classes, but his shirt was unbuttoned to reveal a Superman tee beneath. I was working up the nerve to talk to him, but then I got sick on Sunday, and all my plans were foiled. C'est la vie.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Seen transferring from the Red Line to Howard to the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:40 a.m.

“M’am! Wait, m’am!”

The young man held out several sheets of paper; Thelma hastily snatched them and ran onto the waiting train without so much as a thank-you.

This is not to say Thelma wasn’t grateful. Rather, she was simply on a tightly-scheduled crusade for justice. Her appointment with the lawyer was in a few hours, and those papers contained definitive proof that she’d been fired from her job on the basis of her age. This had been a tricky one. Her coworkers were perfectly correct when they complained that the office secretary typed too slowly and couldn’t keep up with the latest technology, so Thelma had been forced to hire some geeky kid to find the emails that featured those complaints. After the payout, that little expense would be worth it.

Thelma had become quite the expert on these sorts of lawsuits over the years. Her first triumph came when she was only 26. She claimed that an employer refused to hire her because she was a woman of childbearing age—she managed to get the other ladies that she’d met in the waiting room in on that one. Her most difficult case was when she insisted that an employer had fired her due to religious reasons. For months she had to pretend to be pious, constantly bowing her head and quoting the Bible and dressing modestly. Thelma found that it didn’t matter if she used questionable methods to compile evidence against her bosses; the companies didn’t want the trouble or the bad publicity, so they almost always settled. Thelma would walk away with a hefty check and the effervescent feeling that comes when you recognize your own cleverness.

Went to trivia last night. We won best team name: Team Cat in a Shark Costume, Riding a Roomba, Chasing a Duckling. I know, I know. It's the best name you've ever heard. You'll never be able to come up with something better. (It refers to this delightful video, which you should really watch. I <3 the internet.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Seen on the Red Line to 95th at about 8:30 a.m.

“This train will be standing momentarily.”

Tell me about it.

Things in my life that are standing momentarily:

1) My job – Believe it or not, when I was a child I didn’t dream of becoming a data analyst. It just sort of happened. Actually, that’s not true. I can tell you exactly how it happened. I was an undecided major for too long in college, and my mom was freaking out, so I settled on Business. Seemed like a safe bet. When I graduated I started working for this big insurance company as an administrative assistant. So basically my college career left me thousands of dollars in debt and prepared me to be a glorified secretary. Fortunately my boss decided I was too smart for that, so she promoted me to a data analyst position. Actually, that’s not true either. She fired Gary and then hired me in his stead because I was younger and they could pay me less. I couldn’t look him in the eye when he left.

But this isn’t what I want to do, either. Insurance data analysis isn’t exactly riveting. There’s nowhere for me to move up in the company, even if I wanted to. I suppose I could apply for analyst jobs at other places that would pay me more, but…. You know what the worst part is? I still have no idea what I really want to do. I’m still that undecided major, only now I wear a suit every day instead of sweat pants.

2) My relationship – Jay and I started dating senior year of college. He worked on the newspaper; I thought he was so intelligent because he knew so much about world events. Until recently everything’s been fine, but now all Jay can talk about is marriage. He’s all, “but I love you,” and I’m all, “we can’t even get married in this state,” and he’s all, “so let’s move,” which is easy for him to say because his job lets him work remotely. He could go anywhere at a moment’s notice. I, on the other hand, cannot. And I honestly don’t know if I even want to.

I’m 26, but I still feel too young to get married. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I feel like I’d be a bad husband. I feel bad that Jay wants me to be his husband. I feel like I might not want to be with Jay forever. Too many feelings, not enough solid knowledge. I always thought that eventually I’d grow up and know things because adults know things, but now I think it’s all a scam and adults don’t know what they’re talking about, either. They’re just as scared and as confused as the rest of us.

3) My body – So this one may be a little shallow, but it bothers me nonetheless. It’s not like I’m a bad looking guy. I’m pretty athletic—I do a lot of running—so I’m slim and trim and whatever. People notice. But I think I’m too skinny, you know? I’ve had this same body since high school. Maybe it’s just another growing up thing. When am I going to look like a man? An adult male? I don’t have to be a lumberjack or anything, but if I could stop looking like a gawky teenager, that’d be great. A mild beer belly would do. A dash of gray hair.

Sometimes I think that if I looked older I’d feel older, and then I’d know how to fix everything. But maybe I’m too focused on feelings again. Maybe what I need is a jolt from the outside world, some sort of drastic, physical change that’d I’d have to adapt to, and I’d grow in the process. I say the outside world because I sure as hell don’t think I can find that sort of catalyst inside myself. 

A long one today! Ballad of a twenty-something. Writing group was kind of awesome last night. The previous meeting we assigned each other famous works of art as a story prompt, and we all came up with some great stuff. I love the one I'm writing; it's based on this untitled 1998 photograph by Gregory Crewdson. I'm definitely going to keep working on it and polish it up and submit it some places if all goes well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Robert & Alice

Seen waiting for the Red Line to Howard at about 8:30 a.m.

To: Alice
From: Robert

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
You’re dressed for the occasion. Sunshine hair
And strappy sandals keep the storms at bay,
And short sleeve tee-shirts leave your soft arms bare.

My love is not based on the seasons’ switch;
Whatever season comes I need you still.
In boots for fall or spring—no matter which,
In sweaters to keep out the winter chill.

I met you on a golden summer morn’
And now it seems that day has come again.
My feelings are the same. My heart is torn
With love for you! My darling, stylish friend.

Rain or shine or snow I’ll never rue
The unrelenting love I have for you.


Oh God, is this the best that he can do?
Yes, poetry was never his strong suit.
(Though nothing else is either, to be true.)
This awful writing makes me want to shoot

So far and fast away from his embrace,
Still more so than I wanted to before.
I cannot claim to have a poet’s grace.
I cannot claim to hate and to abhor

His person in a way that’s eloquent.
I fear that writing won’t fulfill this aim.
I fear my time is really better spent
Deciding how to leave him without shame.

Does anybody know if there’s an art
To breaking a sad sap’s enamored heart?

In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, a little story told in sonnets. Want to see something neat? Here's a blog post about me and my future MFA classmates at UNLV! 

Monday, April 22, 2013


Seen waiting for the Metra train to Chicago at about 8 a.m.

Between apathy and misery lies Janelle, dissatisfied with her life but too lazy to do anything about it. Shadowy gray even in the sunshine, she shuffles along the platform, waiting for the train to take her to work. Does it occur to her that she’s too smart for retail? Does it occur to her that there are thousands of trains and millions of stops?

When she was little, Janelle wanted to be a marine biologist. She wanted to save the manatees and the whales and the coral reefs. Look how far from the ocean she has strayed! Dry land as far as the eye can see. Every day she takes the same monotonous, unfulfilling route. It is almost as though she believes in fate, but that’s impossible; Janelle doesn’t believe in anything.

I had a horrible panic attack last night. One of the worst I've ever had. I couldn't stop shaking. I have to do some yoga today or something. I need to stretch and relax. Anxiety problems suck. On the bright side, I did get to see my little puppies over the weekend, so that made me very happy.