Monday, August 15, 2011

The best blog post EVER

After a brief hiatus, I'm back with Indie Ink Writer Challenge. This week Kat O Nine Tales challenged me with: A conversation between Captain Obvious and Mr. Sarcasm.

I am disappointed with the result. I am a very sarcastic person, and sometimes a Captain Obvious. But I couldn't write anything I liked. You need to witness my sarcasm in person. But I needed to submit something before deadline, so here goes.

Setting: A living room on a blistery, gloomy afternoon. Two young men are looking out the window.

CO: It's raining.

MS: Really?

CO: Yeah - it certainly looks wet out there.

MS: I actually was pretty dry on my way in.

CO: Really?

MS: Can't you see the dry spots all over my pants?

CO: Those look wet to me.

MS: No shit, Sherlock.

CO: Why are you being so rude?

MS: Because you're a genius today.

CO: I can tell you're being sarcastic.

MS: What? Get out of here.

Monday, July 25, 2011


After a brief hiatus, I'm back with the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. This week, Allison Newton challenged me with: Your sister is going to jail for something you did.

I challenged Stillie with "Heat advisory," in honor of the Northeast heat wave.


I took advantage of her. She would do anything for me, and I took advantage of that. And now, she is sitting in jail. For something I did.

I thought I'd had the perfect marriage. Dinner was always on the table when I got home from a long day at work. The kids had their baths and often were asleep, all tucked away in their freshly cleaned sheets. But something wasn't right.

It wasn't always physical, but the verbal abuse started to make me wish for the physical pain. At least that way, I could ice it and fall asleep after a few vicodin. I knew I had to get out. But it's the same story all the time. What if he finds me?

Of course, there was only one solution. It could be an episode of Law and Order, let's be honest.

I called my sister and told her I'd had it. It needed to end. She tried calming me down, but I hung up the phone to shut out her protests. I crept quietly into the bedroom. He was snoring. I hated his snoring.

I knew enough from watching crime dramas to wear gloves. I hovered over him with his own nine iron. It was over before I knew it. Blood everywhere. I ran downstairs, still clenching the club. I don't know how much time had passed - minutes? Hours? - before she walked into the kitchen.

"What the hell?" she cried, rushing toward me, grabbing the club out of my hands.

I just looked up at her, speechless.

She hugged me, rocked me back and forth. When she backed away I saw the blood smears all over her shirt.

"I'm sorry," I whispered.

"I'll help you," she replied, helping me to my feet.

The kids were still sound asleep. We tip toed into the bedroom, and she gasped. But that didn't stop her. She helped me roll him up and carry the heavy body down the stairs. She insisted we put it in the trunk of her car.

"I know a place," she said.

With that, she drove away into the foggy, chilly night. I ripped off my clothes and burned them in the wood stove. A convenient thing to have.

I don't know how long I slept. I woke up on the couch to my youngest son poking me.

"Where's daddy?" he asked quietly.

"Daddy took a trip."

Clever. I bet that one hadn't been used before.

The morning passed by slowly. The phone rang.

"It's me," my sister said on the other line. "I've been arrested."

"Oh," I said, twisting the phone cord with my fingers.

The evidence had been overwhelming. Her car. Her fingerprints. Her clothes. Her knowledge of our abusive marriage.

She would go to jail for second-degree murder. In the crime dramas the guilty is usually found out. In this case the accused kept her mouth shut.

And I sat idly by.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pleasantly surprised

This is my third Indie Ink Writing Challenge. It's a welcome vacation from pharmaceutical copywriting! My prompt, this time listed at the end of the post, comes from Ixy. I challenged Joelyn with: "Overachiever."

The house rumbled with the bass of grind-worthy music. The floor was sticky with jungle juice and cheap beer. Half-naked co-eds drunkenly leaned up against equally drunk frat brothers, slurring their words, sucking back the liquid in red plastic cups.

Kenna peered around the corner and pulled down on her mini skirt, which was again, riding high. She tucked back her shoulder-length brown hair behind her ears and looked around for a familiar face. Her roommate Beth had invited her out to an Honors party, but Kenna didn't want to be pegged as a nerd just weeks into her freshman year. No, she had decided to venture out to her first frat party, which a Spanish classmate told her about just before class let out.

A tall, thin, orange sorority sister walked by with a tray of Jello shots. Kenna grabbed one and then one more before the sister turned the corner. She quickly threw them back, shuddering from the cheap vodka aftertaste. Now the pre-game beers were starting to kick in.

Kenna loosened up and started dancing. Still no sign of her classmate or any familiar face. This would be a night of liquid courage. Just as she was getting into Lady GaGa's new song, she felt someone brush up behind her. She turned her head and smiled at the tall, dark handsome looking down at her as he started dancing, moving with her.

The second Jello shot kicked in. Tall, dark handsome turned Kenna toward him and kissed her mouth. She felt the alcohol rushing to her head as she followed him up the creaky, winding stairs. He pushed open the bedroom door and lowered Kenna onto the bed. She was excited but scared. Excited because this is what college was supposed to be, right? But scared because a frat boy is a frat boy. She heard the stories. But maybe this was her rite of passage.

They kissed sloppily as he fumbled to take off her tank top. Reality kicked in.

"No, please don't," she said quietly.

He stopped and looked at her. She couldn't read him. Did she upset him? Was he going to hurt her?

He rolled over and gently caressed her sun-kissed arm. He kissed her shoulder before he stood up.

"I'll sleep on the couch once the party dies down," he said, closing the door.

Kenna curled up under the scratchy sheets.

"I never expected you to be so kind," she whispered as she fell asleep.


Prompt: "I never expected you to be so kind"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Perfectionism, organization, to-the-minute planning: The perfect storm

For this week's Indie Ink Writing Challenge, Joelyn presented me with this one-word challenge: Illness. I challenged Bewildered Bug with a term very near and dear to me: long-distance running.


She rolls out of bed and carefully straightens the twisted bed sheets. Tucks the blanket ends under the mattress. Fluffs the pillows and puts her tank top and boxer shorts underneath her pillow.

She showers, dries her hair, gets dressed. The same routine every morning. She grabs granola from the cabinet and pours a glass of orange juice.

The dishes from last night's dinner, which ran late, linger in the sink, and it makes her cringe. She does a quick wash and lays them on the drying rack, checking the clock to make sure she's on time. She packed her bag last night - keys, this week's New Yorker, wallet - and throws in her phone - personal and work - house keys and a small bagged lunch. She checks her watch and heads out the door. Right on schedule.

As she approaches the subway station, she notices a sea of people. It can only mean one thing. The train isn't running to Manhattan. This isn't the first time she's had to deal with this during rush hour. Deep breaths. She glances at her watch. If you're late, you're late. Your boss will understand.

She heads back up the stairs and walks to the next stop for an alternate route. It's frustrating, but these things happen. Deep breaths. She doesn't freak out this time. The MTA's bullshit is "an uncontrollable," she calls it. There's nothing she can do except take a deep breath and make the best of it.

And she's getting better.

But there are still times when she can't help but let the uncontrollables get the best of her. Like last weekend. The damn MTA again. So she took a cab. And as fate would have it, the parkway was backed up for several miles. She was going to miss the boat. Literally. Usually he can keep her calm by telling her they'll make it. But this time even he knew they'd miss it.

She tried to remain calm. But the tears started coming. Anger, frustration, sadness spilled out. Yes, it looks like a 3-year-old child's temper tantrum. She knows that. But for someone with many traits of type a personality (sense of urgency, perfectionism, difficulty relaxing), it's hard to take these seemingly "end-of-the-world" events lightly. He tries to calm her. Rubs her back, tells her it's OK. But it doesn't help. She digs her nails into her legs. Immediately, a bruise forms. "Should have cut my nails," she thinks.

It's embarrassing - overreacting to something small, uncontrollable. Her New Year's resolution was to relax more, stay calm. And she's getting there. But often, disappointment and things not going according to plan seize control.

It's not quite OCD. Yes, she likes routine, organization, plans. But she isn't debilitated if the bed isn't made (he never makes the bed) or someone wants to play something by ear instead of planning it out days, weeks in advance. And it's not quite full-blown type a personality. But it's an illness. And every day, she tries to overcome and persevere.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Observing the unobserved

My Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week comes from Cab: While somewhere outside, close your eyes for 10 minutes and just listen. Then write about what caught your attention and how you felt about it.

At first, I wished I had had time to do this while at home in the Boston suburbs this past weekend. But having sat outside in Manhattan and really paid attention (I did more than listen; I watched, I listened, I smelled) to what was around me, I was glad to do it in the hustle and bustle of the city.


Streets filled with colors. Yellow, red, blue cars and trucks drive by. A sea of color on Sixth Avenue. The Concrete Jungle isn't all grey. Languages. English. Spanish. Chinese. It no longer phases me. Catches my attention, yes, but no longer surprises me. Smell of street meat. Middle Eastern cuisine. Taco truck. Mixing with the stink of exhaust and summer. I take a deep breath but I don't feel refreshed. My lungs feel polluted. How did I run a half marathon in this city? How will I run a marathon next year? Honking. Brakes. Engines. Subways running beneath the grate under my feet. Talking. Shouting. Cell phone conversations. Aside from a revving truck, these sounds become a quiet hum in the background. Will my hearing be compromised? I'm used to seeing young mothers without wedding bands or engagement rings. This time, I spot a married couple, but she is not wearing a ring. He is. My mind drifts. I'll be wearing a wedding ring. So will my husband. Why do men choose not to wear one? Even more rare, why do women? I pass a store I pass almost every day. It's closed. It's always closed. I don't think I've ever seen it open. Passport photos. Head shots. Why is it always closed? I turn the corner. I mind my own business. Cat calls. I ignore them. Why can men get away with that? I pick up my pace. Hear the thumping of my boots against the pavement. The ruffle of my shirt. I leave the sights, sounds of the city behind me. Enter the office building. Blast of air conditioning. Ding of the elevator. Back to work.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The final 10 minutes

So this is my first Indie Ink Challenge. I'm glad I finally remembered to sign up. And then I'm glad I remembered to write it. I was away for a few days, and even someone has organized as me has their slip-ups.

My challenge comes from Christy and while I think it's a pretty morbid one, I can't say I've never thought about it before: You die, but are given 10 minutes to talk with one person before 'passing on'. Describe that scene.

Having had to write my own obituary for a reporting class in college (and a few bumpy plane rides), I've done my fair share of thinking about this conversation. And it's never easy, and it usually leaves me choked up, trying to think of something more fun like ice cream or a cartoon.

But one person? It should go without saying that one person would be my fiancee (and husband come Oct. 1). But part of me cries out to my mom. But given that I've thought about this scene before, on a bumpy plane ride, that is where this scene will take place:

It was a bumpy takeoff, but I had Jeff next to me. I clutched his hand - my knuckles white - until we leveled off. I breathed a sigh of relief and Jeff squeezed my hand.

"It's OK," he said. "Planes are made to deal with turbulence."

But it was raining when we took off. Lots of air pockets. Lots of bumps. The seatbelt light went on, and the captain came on the loudspeaker.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing a bit of turbulence. Please take your seats and fasten your seatbelts," he said.

But something doesn't feel right. And all of a sudden we are falling. Fast. My stomach comes up to my throat and I grab Jeff's hand. But this time he doesn't seem calm. He squeezes back. We are still falling.

"Jeff," I start.

He forces a smile.

"It'll be OK, Heather. I'm here."

But I'm not as strong as he is and I start to cry. Not loudly like the woman behind me and the man behind her. But the tears slowly trickle down my face. Jeff's bright blue eyes are wet.

"At least we are together," he says.

I don't know how fast we are falling or how high up we were when we started. I can't do the math to figure out when it will all be over.

"I love you Jeff," I start. "I am so happy I found you."

He leans over and kisses my forehead.

"I love you too."

I read somewhere that time slows down when your body is in fight or flight stage. Hitting the ground or the water at our velocity couldn't have taken very long. But I'm filled with panic and dread. There are so many things I want to tell Jeff. Tell my mom.

But maybe I shouldn't wait until I have 10 minutes left to get it all out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

There's no place like home...

You all seem so close!

I am back in the United States after what seemed like an eternity. Our flight in Fiji was delayed so I missed my connecting flight in LA to Boston, but only because the stupid travel agent screwed up my ticket, and the airline couldn't issue me a ticket. I missed that flight and sat in LAX for four hours until they could get me a ticket and then for another three and half hours until my red eye flight. That flight was miserable, but at least it was only 4.5 hours until I arrived in Boston.

There's a lot for me to say…let me try to remember. The last week in Australia was a bittersweet one for sure. I feel had I been staying a year abroad I wouldn't have been feeling like I was ready to go home, but since the flight home was impending, I was anxious. My roommate Jamie's parents came to visit. They were nice and took us out to a Thai restaurant for dinner. My taste buds expanded whilst abroad, definitely. The last week also consisted of lots of group goodbye activities. We had a barbecue on the cliff edge overlooking Coogee Bay, which was a lot of fun. It was really warm out and really pretty.

The following night we were going to this ice bar called Minus Five. Basically it's a bar made entirely of ice. Apparently its vodka is served best at that temperature. Because it's so cold you're only allowed in for 30 minutes, and they give you wool coats and ugg boots. It's pretty expensive too. Anyway, during dinner, I got a phone call from my Frisbee friend Ryan who invited me to the beach to throw with my other Frisbee friend, Abra. We had fun throwing and then we watched movies and Chris Farley SNL skits.

I also celebrated my friend Warwick's birthday at this hotel and sadly said goodbye to some good friends. Hopefully Frisbee will bring us all together again, which it may, since Worlds is in Vancouver this August, and I'm going to try to save up and get out there. Yet another birthday! My last weekend in Sydney I took a two-hour train ride out west to celebrate with my Australian friend Lily, who I met in class. It was a movie-character themed party, and I used my Peter Pan Halloween costume. I met a couple really cool people, and we listened to subpar live music and hung out. Lily was really happy that I came, so that was good. We camped out in tents and I was kept up all night by these ridiculously loud and nasty cricket-like bugs. The next morning I drove home with two guys I met (one I knew from class). I had to drive since one doesn't drive and the other was…well he had a bit of a crazy night and was not up for driving. I did quite well on the highway…on the wrong side of the road and all.

The last couple days in Sydney I laid on the beach quite a bit and even went swimming! I threw on the beach again with some Barefoot guys, which is one of the Sydney club Frisbee teams. We went out to dinner (where I ran into Abby who had wanted to hang out…oops) and then celebrated Abra's roommate's birthday. My second to last night (Abby had moved out that day) I went to the botanical gardens, where I took even more pictures of that damn opera house, but this time from a different angle. I also went up to the Pylon Lookout with my friend Mrinal, which goes almost as high as the bridge, but doesn't cost $179.

That night, I had over my Frisbee friends, Mrinal, Abra and Ryan for some poker…which I won. Unfortunately, no one paid up and I didn't receive my 20 bucks. I ended up moving out that night since Mrinal was able to drive me and my massive bags to Abra's, where I was staying until I left. My last day I went to the beach pretty much all day. Abra had to work so I couldn't get back to his house until that evening, when I went to his Frisbee practice with him. I was hoping to see some good mens ultimate, but unfortunately the fields were closed, hence no lights, hence a conditioning practice. Abra and I ate some Thai food and watched a vampire movie starring Josh Hartnett, which was pretty lame but nonetheless scared the bejeesus out of me. That morning I had a somewhat tearful goodbye with Abra, and I headed off to the airport.

This jerk greeted me in the check-in line. I had three big bags, a laptop and my backpack, had just said goodbye to all my friends and was pretty exhausted and alone. He asked me if "I slept" because I was not keeping up with the line. I said, no, I'm doing the best I can. And he cut me in line. That sort of triggered it for me, and I started bawling. He chose to ignore me until I probably annoyed him, so he turned around and offered me a tissue. I refused and he insisted, and I refused and told him he was extremely rude and had no right to yell at me. Then he offered to help with my bags and I refused and looked away. (Hey, if you're going to stand up for yourself, there's nowhere safer than in an airport, right?) Finally, he took my biggest bag and I reluctantly took a tissue. He then told me that I could be quiet now and life is tough. Once I hit check-in, the lady thought we were traveling together, and I informed her he'd been helping me. She said that was nice and once he left, I told her the story. She told me to look out for myself.

I landed in Auckland and met up with my friend Sarah from Syracuse and her roommate from Brisbane who also goes to Syracuse. We checked into the hostel and pretty much passed out from being so tired. We got up early and took a four-hour bus ride north to the Bay of Islands and paid half price to ride "The Excitor," which was everything but. It was half off since they were filming a safety video, which of course I starred in. They asked for a volunteer, so I volunteered to be the person getting life jacketed in. It was a high-speed boat to the Hole in the Rock. There was hardly any swell, so it was just a lot of wind in our faces and no jumps. The hole in the rock was pretty, and on the other side was the wide open ocean, which is always kinda cool to see. Then of course, it started raining so we went back to the hostel and played some board games until it was a reasonable time to go to sleep.

The next day we took a ferry to Russell, which basically had two buildings in the town, and it was pretty terrible for $6 for the ferry. Once we got back, I took the hostel's rickety, rusty bike to the grocery store. At first I didn't have the helmet on since who knows who's been wearing it, but then when I realized how shaky the handlebars, I figured even a lice-infested, way-too-big helmet may help some if I crash. Once we got back to Auckland we hung out and retired early again. The next day we had plans to skydive (yes, me!!!), but with our luck (and my mom's) it rained, and it was cancelled. We took several bus transfers to the foot of Mount Eden, a dormant volcano and walked up. The cows were probably the most exciting part of New Zealand. I tried chasing one, but once it looked at me, I ran the other way. I guess being on a volcano was cool, but of course, it started raining. That night we wanted to see a movie, but figured for $15.50 it wasn't worth it. Yet another early evening in New Zealand.

Fortunately, our flight to Fiji was moved to 9 40 am, so we didn't have to kill more time in rainy, humid Auckland.Of course, it was beautiful the next day as we flew out, and it was raining when we landed in Fiji. Fiji WAS HOT. Our bad luck in New Zealand turned fantastic after the rain our first afternoon in Fiji. Once we got to our beach bungalows, about an hour and a half from the airport, Sarah and I ventured into town to get some groceries. Oh wow. We took a "taxi" to this depraved little shopping area. (A lot of things in Fiji involve quote marks because it's hard to tell what is really legitimate). We stuck out like sore thumbs in Fiji, especially in town, being the only white people around. Naturally, the people at the markets scooped us up and tried selling us junk. They separated me and Sarah. My lady gave me a "free gift," aka a crappy bracelet and then told me about her "deaf and dumb" son for some pity. She tried selling me all sorts of crap for way too much money. I think I made better items at Camp JORI arts 'n farts center.

Anyway, I found a pretty cool wooden bead bracelet and shut her up with five bucks. Bracelet value: two cents. Sarah didn't fare as well. She laid down $25 on absolute crap. They liked her. Finally I ran away and grabbed Sarah and we ran to the grocery store, where we learned there is no regular milk in Fiji…just powdered and long-life whole milk. We bought a few things and ventured off to the "bus stop." Mind you, this is a rut-tut bus that doesn't leave the stop until it's jam-packed. We were hoping it was the right bus when the surroundings looked unfamiliar, but luckily it did, indeed take us back to our bungalow. That night we had some pizza at our "restaurant" and retired early.

The next morning, after some dodgy directions to this beach called Natadolah, we got on public transport again and drove for 45 minutes and got dropped off at the side of the road. We started walking but were informed it's actually a 15K walk to the beach so we reluctantly hopped into the bag of a sketchy pick up truck and sat on some benches that were tied with basically dental floss to the truck. Most of the resorts in Fiji don't get busy until Christmastime, so we were like the only ones around. The beach was absolutely magnificent, and the water felt like a bathtub. You could see for miles. The sun was blazing, and it's a good thing I didn't want to deal with a burn on the 16-hour flight home, which is why decided to lather up.

Some kids came by to try to gyp us out of our money. After awhile, one of the little girls came back and accepted my offer for two artistic shells for five bucks. She knew she wouldn't make anything else from us. Sarah and Lynn decided to go horseback riding…I am not a fan of horses, horse smell, riding with sketchy locals or spending $30 to do it. It's a good thing too, since Lynn's stirrups broke and she's all bruised and they tried getting Lynn to pay the full amount, and she refused since she didn't get a full ride and she was bruised. The "businessmen" didn't have change, and good for Lynn- she refused to pay until she got change, which they couldn't provide. Eventually she bought a bottle of water and paid them. We left after that.

Since we splurged on sandwiches at the beach, we cooked up some delicious Fijian brand Ramen noodles. I almost threw up and we threw out the whole pot of it. I was up all night feeling pretty subpar. The next morning we got up super early for our day cruise to South Sea Island. For only $99 we got a cruise to one of the islands, buffet lunch, unlimited drinks, transportation and access to snorkeling gear, catamarans and kayaks. Unfortunately half the bus was filled with annoying, loud Canadians from Vancouver who were in Fiji for a wedding.

The island was unreal. (See pictures) This was Fiji. I can't even describe it. We laid out for awhile under some tiki huts and then you know, when that became too strenuous, we went kayaking. The island was maybe 20 meters in diameter so it wasn't terribly grueling to go around the whole island. After that we had some lunch- tasty meat and different salads. Since the buffet wore us out, we laid out again. Then we went snorkeling. This was the first time I'd gone not off a boat. I just sort of waded into the water and started swimming with all the fish and coral. I kept an eye out for sharks, and fortunately did not see any. I even splurged for a back massage. I kept telling her to go harder, that I was really sore, but she paid no heed. It still felt very good, and after I was all greased up, I jumped in the pool and conversed with some Australians. After some more lounging and snorkeling, we went on a catamaran. The guy who took us knew I was nervous so he told me the sharks weren't interested and proceeded to splash water and make me let go of the rope. It was a nice ride.

Eventually the boat came to pick us up and we took the cruise ship back to the main island. A perfect day…well not yet. Once we got back, we showered and got dressed up for a really fancy, expensive dinner at the nice resort next door. They gave us cool, minty towels since it's soooo hot and humid. I got basil encrusted salmon, which was delicious. They sang us a farewell Fijian song, and I tried not to laugh. Now, a perfect day.

Our last day in Fiji, it rained, but that was OK since we were too wiped from the sun to lay out again. We packed up and snuck into the nice pool at the resort next door and swam for awhile. No one even questioned us. Then we showered and watched a battle between and Asian couple who for some reason refused to pay for their night (we think they didn't sleep there but had it booked and wouldn't pay). The fight went on for two hours and then the lady tried taking our cab, and I was about to give her a piece of my mind. Surprisingly, all of our ten huge bags fit into the taxi station wagon and we dropped it all off at the airport and then went shopping in town before checking in. Then we bummed around the airport for like four hours, before embarking on our 10-hour flight to LA.

I can't believe I'm home. It's weird, especially with the drastic weather change…and time change. I'm all out of whack, and really cracked out since I haven't slept in two days. There's lots of cleaning and unpacking to do, but I can hardly keep my eyes open! All in all, these past five and half months have really been indescribable.



…or is there?