Friday, November 4, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

I made a mistake, and I'm gonna kick my ass for it. I mean a real ass-kicking. Not the kind that is over in one punch, but the kind where you curl up into the fetal position to take kicks and bricks to the head. I'm gonna give myself a beating I won't forget. Shame of it is, I will forget. And I will probably make the same mistake again, brick or no bricks. 

If you want to get a few hits in, I understand. I usually do my own ass-kicking, but it's important not to get too locked in your ways. This self-flagellation gets boring sometimes. Maybe you can include something I won't see coming. A kick to the balls. Maybe a thumb in the eye.

Here's the thing. I'm bucking trends. I know we're supposed to be focused on wellness and self-love, but fuck that. I'll have plenty of time for that when I'm dead. 

This is the way I teach myself. This is the way I was taught. This is way I hurt myself. Not for fun, for sport. This is the way I keep myself taut, waiting for my memories to rot. This is the way I make myself fit. 

This is the truth I sought. 


  1. Ouch. And that last paragraph, and that last line, sting. Thank you.

    1. You do these internal monologues so well, Dan. You write such powerful, emotive narratives and you’re always so damned readable too. Every sentence is dynamic and hits directly to the gut – or even the balls. This is yet another home run from the Mader Man.

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  3. Anya flipped on her right blinker and changed lanes.

    “Hey,” Bubbe Yulia said. “Where are we going? This is the wrong exit for the shopping center.”

    “We’re not”—Anya tightened her hands on the wheel while negotiating the off-ramp and blending into traffic heading south—“we’re not going to the shopping center.”

    Even without looking, Anya could tell that her bubbe was giving her the hairy eyeball. “And where, pray tell, are you taking me, tateleh?”

    For a moment Anya’s mind fumbled with words, then she willed herself calm and went forward. “There’s a man who’d like to meet you. He’s an archivist.”

    Yulia sniffed. “An archivist. Sounds important. So you’re setting me up with this archivist man? He’d better be rich if you’re trying to get your old bubbe married off.”

    Anya felt heat rush into her face. “I’m not trying to get you—my roommate’s professor told me about Dr. Davidovich. He’s preserving all he can find of Ukrainian art and culture during the time of the war. He’s seen your charcoal drawing, he says he knows some people who remember you. And him.”

    Bubbe did not respond.

    “Please don’t be mad.” Anya’s voice came out little-girl soft.

    “Mad. Why would I be mad?” Each word was as tight as a stretched rubber band. “You go rummaging around in my past as if it was your personal filing cabinet, why would I be mad? I specifically said I would not talk about these things, why would I be mad?”

    Tears welled up in Anya’s eyes. She sniffed. “Bubbe…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—” No. She promised herself she wouldn’t back down anymore. She wiped her cheek with her forearm. “It’s my past, too. I think you forget that sometimes.”

    Bubbe went silent. For such a long time Anya grew frightened. Then her grandmother folded both hands primly in her lap, straightened the hem of her sweater. “Fine.” She looked out the window. “He has probably gone to some trouble to make time available, this important archivist man. We don’t want to be rude.”

    Anya couldn’t help a little smile, a peek in Bubbe’s direction. Her grandmother lifted her eyebrows, pointed a finger. “But if he asks questions I do not like, we are leaving. Do you understand?”

    “Yes, Bubbe.”

    Bubbe Yulia settle back into her seat, looking a bit smug. “And then we’re going shopping.”

    1. Laurie – you’re a remarkable artist. You create your worlds with such a delicate touch, infilling your backgrounds with subtle details that hint at the world beyond. You establish the characters’ families, making it feel like we’re there, sharing the tiniest details that create empathy and a sense of community. And then you sink us into the heart of the main character’s emotions. You’re a master at doing that too. You’ve chosen a scenario we can all connect with, having read the news. There’s pain and there’s distress and you bring it home, making it real.

  4. Kyoto slapped my face. I opened my eyes. I just wanted to be left alone in peace. His hands were dancing like doves in the half-light, slicing through the shade in the room. It was enough for him to beguile me and anchor my attention for a few moments more. He was shadow and ice, with a side-order of fear and danger.

    Slap. Again, with the hands. I raised my chin from my chest, not realising I’d blanked out again. I was finding it difficult to maintain a continuous thread of thoughts without it breaking. The hammering of the pump had become white noise, driving a blizzard of dark sleet through my head. I just wanted to sink out of consciousness and pass away.

    “It’s only two litres so far,” he said, frowning. “You can do five – I read it in anatomy books.”

    “Please,” I said. “End this now. You can do this without my help.”

    He shook his head. “No. You can do more. I need to know how you feel. For the experiment.”

    The Experiment. His far-reaching experiment, not mine. A quantitative study of blood loss in a British male. He would get more subjects and then expand his research into other races. He was going to become a trauma specialist or a surgeon. He thought there might be a racial correlation in how much a subject could endure before passing out or becoming ineffective. He could sell his studies to the Ministry of Defence or use it to extract a stipend from them to fund his research. Either way, he could use this to make a living for the rest of his life.

    He said I was his first subject. I should feel privileged.

    “Let’s begin again,” he said. “Counting backwards in seventeens from five hundred.”

    1. This grabbed me right away. Hands dancing like doves is such a great detail. Now I need to know more!

  5. "They" told her that she was perfectly fine. That she didn't need any medication. That she didn't have a disability. That the world just wasn't built for her, but that she didn't need to change a single thing and the world could just go fuck itself.

    But they didn't know. They didn't have a single clue. They didn't live inside her head.

    They weren't the ones who sat on a second-hand loveseat, scrolling through her phone when they wanted - WANTED - to be doing...anything else. Laundry. Dishes. Finishing one of their many projects. Starting a new one. Writing.

    God, she missed writing.

    They weren't the ones who lost their keys. Every. Single. Day. They weren't the ones who couldn't keep track of time, even when their life (or at least livelihood) depended upon it. They weren't the ones who zoned out in the middle of a conversation they WANTED to hear, to be a part of, because they suddenly heard an interesting (or offensive) tidbit in another conversation two tables away. Or ended up focusing on what they wanted to say when it was their turn to talk. Or dissociated as her mind tried to distance itself from something in the conversation that dredged up old, bad memories.

    No, the world was not built for her, and those like her. That part was indisputable. But she wasn't fine. She DID have a disability, and she wasn't sure why she was supposed to deny that or be ashamed of it. She wasn't sure why she was supposed to try to survive without medication - as if any of the naysayers would try to survive without their cholesterol meds, or high blood pressure meds, or - God forbid - Advil.

    "Yeah, the world can fuck off," she said in her head, "but so can you."

    Aloud, she said...nothing. Not a word. Her least favorite stress responses - fawn and freeze - ganging up on her. She just smiled wanly and nodded and resolved to not talk to these assholes any more.

    They really could fuck off, even if she couldn't say so.

    1. Dude. This is heartbreaking. And so real. And I so need to give you a hug right now. Thank you. For all of the invisible ones.

    2. And then there’s this. I feel so very much for this person – maybe it’s you; maybe it’s not: either way, it’s incredibly good writing. You draw us in with such ease, making us feel this person’s pain; the hurting, the bemusement, the self-hate that fills almost every waking moment. It’s not enough that they feel this way, there’s the isolation too and the thought that no-one else knows the struggles they face. It’s a wake-up call for every one of us – we should all be more considerate and less self-obsessed. It really isn’t that hard if we just stop and give a damn for someone else.

      I’d love to give you a hug too. I can empathise with this so much.

  6. “It wasn’t the romance that beguiled me,” Caitlyn said, snuggling her head into my side. “It was the smaller things. Things you never think about. Anyone can make a big impression. Flashy expensive jewellery, meals at the swankiest restaurants. It’s the things you do when you’re not trying; those are the ones that really count.” She took my hand and interlaced her fingers, raising it to her lips. “Like a stack of sugared ring doughnuts for a late breakfast. The fundamentals we all love.”

    I dotted a finger on my free hand onto the empty plate still on my chest. I scooped up some of the sugar that had fallen free. I offered it to Caitlyn, and she kissed it clean, tickling it with the tip of her tongue. Then she closed her eyes and purred in her throat like a cat.

    “I know,” I said. “It’s like the likes are more important. You put a heap of them together, and it’s understated. You put in the work – not like it’s an effort – and you grow together. You become more than two individuals. You blend; you merge. You combine into a whole new set of realities. Everything changes, little by little until you see everything differently. It’s no big sweat, but it’s huge, nonetheless. It’s like two to the power of a bajillion or more.”

    So, we ordered another bag of ring doughnuts, eschewing the fillet steak. We decided to settle on the staples, skipping all the frills.


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