Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Eight is Enough

One: Last year during my trip to Botswana, a local woman did a double take after hearing me speak.

"Where are you from?" she asked.

"US," I said.

"Agh!" She perked with surprise. "You look like Botswana woman. You have Botswana fi-gaah."


Two: Arriving in Botswana this year, the customs agent droned her questions: nature of visit, number of days, country of residence, country of birth. Hearing me say "USA" twice, I noticed that she hovered above a thought before deciding to speak it aloud.

"You look African."

I thanked her and asked what would distinguish an African woman from a black American woman.

"Your fee-chaas," she said, using an index finger to make a circular motion around her face. I thanked her again, smiling.


Three: Chatting with my hosts as we were leaving a cafe, I overheard two ladies comment as we passed their table about being surprised at my accent (funny. me. from Wisconsin. with an accent) and that…

Visitations

When you start referring to your new protagonist like a colleague you're hoping to connect with for lunch, this is how you know you’ve found your next story.
That’s how I know, anyway.
For months, I’d been sending lunch invitations to a character I’d met in a short story. He was a young boy then, and I wanted to know what his story might become. How did he recover? What was that thing churning in his chest? Would he be chasing life or evading death? I couldn’t know. From our brief exchange, the only thing I was certain of was that he was quiet, observant, and deeply affected by the scenario I’d written him into.  I was eager to finish his story, but he would not come. He wouldn't even give me his name!
I thought, maybe, I needed to speak of him out loud in order to make him Pinocchio-real. I thought, maybe, I should start another story to coax him from my mind’s shadowed alcoves. I thought, maybe, he wanted me to sit patiently at my laptop and wait. Once, I tried luring him fo…

One thought about stars

A mournful black sky stretches in dutiful silence
Contracted for a millennium to canvas the night
To drape an infinite stage
To withstand the urgent infernos fastened to its darkness
The stars hiss and crackle in their banter
Impetuous in their spinning
Precocious in their tumble and games of chase

A mournful black sky stretches in dutiful silence
The stars dance shamelessly, anyway


Serenade

I'm reordering letters in my head, deciding the optimal combination for describing the sound below me.

Thoomp. Thwump. Thmp.

I'm in the tub: candles, lavender salt, merlot, ear buds, the whole nine. When the soundtrack plays itself out, I nestle deeper into the warmth, calm and, now, the quiet.

Thrump.

Almost immediately, I hear the sound of water dripping. Dripping steady and boldly where it shouldn't. Beneath me, beneath the tub, beneath the sub floor, I'm listening to the metered threat of a pipe leaking from my second floor bathroom onto the first floor ceiling. In breaking news fashion, my daughter comes upstairs to report that water is, in fact, leaking onto the floor outside her bedroom.

"It's coming through that panel," she said sleepily. "Y'know, where they fixed the pipes before...?"

"Yes, Baby," I said. "Thank you."

Whhoum. Thomp. Ahmp.

The heavy pulse of the water coursed my thoughts into ominous terrain.  I i…

Deliberate

What could be more innocuous than a light bulb? Sure, its discovery careened the Industrial Revolution into hyper drive but, at the end of a modern day, it's just a light bulb. The heart of the porch light. The glow filling the lamp shade above my reading chair. A box to check off on my next trip to the store.

The light bulb. Who would imagine there was a cartel in its history?

Well, there is.

In 1924, several of the world's leading manufacturers met in Geneva to hammer out a pact: they would produce inferior products. Specifically, each company agreed to engineer bulbs with shorter life spans. Prior to this convening, light bulbs burned for up to 2,500 hours. By 1930, bulbs around the world lasted for a mere 1,000 hours. The Phoebus cartel, as they named themselves, was comprised of seven companies hailing from six different countries (General Electric included). This tiny consortium authorized themselves to redesign the industry landscape with the express goal of increasing s…