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BY Bob

11/01 Direct Link
I always dreamed of disappearing. I never thought I’d become invisible. I'm not quite sure how it happened. Oh sure, I’ve been accused of being transparent, but now it seems people just look right through me. If I didn’t catch my own reflection in the odd looking glass or shop window (always disconcerting because it’s never really what I think I look like) I’d really begin to wonder. Am I still here or just a figment of my own imagination?

The semi-invisible Mark – just that splotch on the world’s carpet that everyone’s gotten used to.

Tomorrow, they will notice me.
11/02 Direct Link
I always wanted to be the girl in the cage. Safely ensconced in a private chandelier, hanging above the heaving crowd. Only approached by those who were clean and could afford the premium.

But no, I’m down here amidst the throng, trying to earn a crust from groping masses of hands and tongues. Cursed to have come out with two arms, legs, ears and perfect eyes. One nose and a mouth. Ten fingers, ten toes.

“Sorry doll, you’re just not cage material.”

And don’t think I haven’t thought of amputation. It won’t fly.

You have to be born that way.
11/03 Direct Link
They finally found my body. I’d been lying there, in a congealed puddle of my bloody brains, for nearly a week. The smell’s what tipped them off.

Nobody heard the shots? There were three of them, for chrissakes. One in my back. I turned around and he shot me again. The alleged murderer, my alleged friend. I fell backwards. A final bullet to the forehead. Dude, that was overkill.

And nobody heard a thing, so they say. WTF?

“He was such a quiet man,” the witnesses said. “The perfect neighbor.”

Maybe if I’d mad more noise they’d have missed me.
11/04 Direct Link
It’s marathon day in New York, and I haven’t run in forever. I guess I should get started again, since we’re signed up for the Barcelona marathon. but my back hurts, my shoes are at work, it looks cold out Plus, I’m supposed to be writing for 100words (oh look, I’m doing that now), NaNoWriMo, and yourmessages.org … not to mention assignments for tomorrow’s creative writing class (which I suppose I could write in the quasi-voice of my semi-autobiographical Nano narrator), the Life Club blog, the writing group work, and my blog, which nobody seems to read anymore.
11/05 Direct Link
How to Survive Grandma This Holiday Season …


Lower your expectations and remember there’s good in everyone.

Buy some earplugs. Tell her you’ve got an infection from the pool, but it’s only a mild one and that yes, chocolate ice cream will help.

Learn to enjoy the endless repetition of stories, and then try to find holes in them. Ask her if she knows what ‘hyperbole’ means. Tell her it’s a vocabulary word from school … as are ‘verbosity’, ‘canard’, ‘outlandishness’, ‘embellishment’, ‘aggrandizement’, and ‘misrepresentation.’

Tell her you love her even if you mean you would love to see her go home.

11/06 Direct Link
They’d known each other forever, but hadn’t seen each other for years.

I wish I could sing like you, he said. I’m so proud of what you’ve done … concerts, plays, and gosh, the benefits. You’re an inspiration.

Shut up, she said. I’m just a working girl with a warble. But you … writing stories, getting published. Next stop, Oprah! Ask her to buy me a car.

Please, I’m just a hack.

I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

She went back to her hotel, singing a song of days long gone, while he scribbled notes for a new first draft.
11/07 Direct Link
I remember the first time I forgot my lines. Standing in the chorus room, singing in front of parents for open house. Some of the students were chosen to “entertain.” We were rehearsing “The Wizard of Oz”, and I was part of the preview.

“When a man’s an empty kettle, he …” and somewhere along the way the words had vanished. Mrs Lombo, pounding away on the piano, started singing the words, encouraging me to join back in.

My rusty Tinman’s (missing) heart sank with embarrassment and fear — Lombo would yell at me tomorrow. She was meaner than the wicked witch.
11/08 Direct Link
“So what’s new?” I asked a friend whom I hadn’t seen for a while.

“I’m a witch!” was his immediate, if not somewhat surprising reply.

It would’ve been rude not to ask him to explain. He’s been learning to tap … (see Emotional Freedom Technique) … and, while initially a huge sceptic, has been seeing results his (human) guinea pigs. Pains are dissipating. Nicotine cravings have all but gone away.

Yesterday he bent a fork, using just his mind. He’s quickly becoming the Scottish Uri Geller.

If nothing else, he’s moved up a few notches on my dinner party list.
11/09 Direct Link
Sometimes you watch a film on cable that you’ve been wanting to see for ever. And then you wonder what all the fuss was about.

It’s one of those nights.

You’re almost tempted to go back, read all the reviews, and try to figure out just what it was that first attracted you to it.

The cast? It could have been anyone … but if they were any less known, the movie wouldn’t have been made, despite its uber-cool (so we’ve all bee told) director.

The plot? Nothing compelling there, and spare us the tired Nazi war crime twist.

Feh.
11/10 Direct Link
Completely irritated with the talking heads on BBC’s News 24, I turned on Disney Cinemagic awhile ago. Oops.

I caught the last hour of Peter Pan. I’ve since sat through some Mickey and Donald cartoons, the full-length feature of George of the Jungle with a very buffolicious Brendan Fraser, and an animated half-hour Tarzan episode. I’m now waiting for Judy Kuhn to serenade me with “Colors of the Wind”.

So much to do, and yet I’m sitting here thinking that angularly animated native Americans are hot (but they got nothing on Brendan), even if they don’t have nipples.
11/11 Direct Link
There’s a beautiful blanket of leaves across the street. A patchwork of sorrel, copper, and sienna (burnt and raw) covers the surprisingly resilient green grass of Bryanston Square. The autumn spoils spill past the gates and onto the sidewalk, filling the gutters. Winter’s welcome mat.

I love the look of them … speckled and scattered. I love the smell of them … earthy and damp. I even love watching the kids in boots running through them, kicking and crunching, their giggles giving life to the crinkling crispness of summer’s falling remains.

But you know what I love the most?

Not raking them.
11/12 Direct Link
And then there are the days when you come home on a work-free afternoon with every intention of sitting down to be productive, but all you want to do is sleep.

A ten-minute meditative deep relaxation was not what the doctor ordered at all, oh no. It was more like an appetizer, a taunt of slumber.

Now I want the full meal, or at least a long, leisurely late lunch of a nap, with handsome (perhaps semi-clad) waiters to make sure my pillows are fluffed and my duvet is smoothed. Oh yes, and some sex for dessert.

11/13 Direct Link
“I’m not feeling well.”

I asked her what was wrong … a cold? The flu?

“I have a terrible headache. When I breathe in, I have to cough,” she demonstrated, a frail Camille, too weak to expel anything more than a puff of air from a glaucoma test. “And it hurts to life my arms any higher than this.” Still standing, she raised one arm about six inches.

And then she sat down for her lesson.

“Do you want to cancel?”

“No, I’m here, but I’ll stay home the rest of the week.”

Drama queen.

But now I have a headache.
11/14 Direct Link
And then there are the nights when everyone else is asleep. You can hear the gentle snoring rumbling from the bedrooms. Even the cats have traded in their purring for a bit of feline log sawing, curled up in their chairs, keeping me company, slit eyes half-open, making sure that none of the monsters come to get me.

What monsters are those? The lawyers of “Damages” … I trust none of them, and know that as much as they’ve stolen the past several hours of my life, they may very well come off the television screen and steal my soul.
11/15 Direct Link
I was convinced that last night’s “Damages” marathon had me all worked up, the tension actually giving me a stomachache.

And then the bathroom called. And it hasn’t stopped calling. Stomachache’s turned into stomach flu, methinks. All I’ve been able to do today is sleep (and poop), except when the cat decided that he needed to curl up near me, but couldn’t get comfortable so he’d pad at the duvet, keeping me from my slumber.

If he can’t sleep, then I can’t, apparently. That’s all well and good but I’m sick and crabby and now I have a dead cat.
11/16 Direct Link
Anger is the most interesting of animals. It can sneak up on you, attack and then disappear in the time it takes to throw a remote control against a wall – the time it takes to smash a plate into the sink, to put your fist through a plate glass window.

Does it really sneak up on you, or is it a cancer, in remission, just lurking beneath the surface, hiding behind a bush, lurking beneath the bed or in the corner of a coat closet.

Or is anger always there, just waiting to be discovered within your spouse’s email?
11/17 Direct Link
“Enter,” he barks. Tommy’s nice enough, but he’s never been able to pull that military stick out of his ass. You’d think he’d be grateful, getting caught in the “don’t ask don’t tell” thing before Iraq started.

“Tell me about Tuesday,” he says, not looking up from his paperwork.

One of our customers disagreed with his date about whether she was on the menu, because tossed her glass of Merlot on him and stormed out. So I gave him a napkin and recommend the Pouilly Fume, saying “White wine gets out red.”

People just don’t get my sense of humor.
11/18 Direct Link
Do you have any threes?

I really hated this game, but it was all she remembered how to play most days. And so I’d sit here with her, (sometimes her son, sometimes her brother, one uncomfortable time her first husband), smelling talc and White Shoulders, her day care nurse outside, sneaking a cigarette.

Only one, and now it’s yours.

Darling Gran, the one-time Baroness of Bridge. The Princess of Pinochle after church on Sundays. The Empress of Euchre on rainy weekends up at the lake.

Any fours?

Ever since the stroke, she’s lucky to count to four.

Go fish.
11/19 Direct Link
It’s rained most of the day here today, which most everybody I’ve talked to seems aggravated by.

Tuth be told, I enjoy a good rainy day. Especially because, despite this being “rainy” London, it really doesn’t full-on rain here. It drizzles for bit and then it stops. And then it might spit some more before the sun comes out.

Today was a proper downpour. Its whisper (albeit sometimes a stage whisper) could be heard from indoors. The streets were puddles of boiling liquid, which I happily glided through.

Yup, I ran in the rain tonight. And it was brilliant.
11/20 Direct Link
In a pre-guilt paroxysm of “what do we get my mom for her 65th” earlier this year, we decided to bring her across the pond for my traditional ex-pat Thanksgiving.

She was, and is, and no doubt will continue to be, over the moon. My sister is equally thrilled, as (like most mother-daughter pairings I know) they love each other dearly but tend to irritate the stuffing out of each other.

So, the good son is now awaiting the belated birthday girl’s arrival. And in the most typical of Thanksgiving trepidation, I’m filled with familiar, familial dread.
11/21 Direct Link
It’s becoming an annual event. I start making pies and think I could easily just stay home and bake.

The pastry turned out especially smooth this year. It’s not like I consciously do anything different, but sometimes things just work better than others. Two pie crusts, made from scratch … flour and shortening alchemied into perfectly formed shells in less than half an hour.

And the pumpkin filling. Every time I make a batch, its clovey cinnamon goodness sends me into overload. It’s all I can do to pour the custard in the shell and not paint a wall with it.
11/22 Direct Link
My stomach’s full and my fingers hurt … the price one pays for what turned out to be a successful Thanksgiving feast.

I never thought it would happen.

Let’s see … garbage disposal vomit backed up and overflowed through a drain pipe in the laundry room, (apparently it had eaten lots of celery and potato skins). I later burnt the shit out of my hand. And when I opened my door to let our first guests in, I was greeted by a pile of shit that the neighbor’s cat had left.

All’s well that ends full. My dozen guests are tryptophan-tastic.
11/23 Direct Link
I wonder if the Pilgrims felt the anti-climax of Thanksgiving. Halfway through the feast, did some woman whisper to her neighbour, “Prithee Martha, was it really worth all the trouble?”

Was that first Thanksgiving truly a joining of the white man and the red in a festival of gratitude, or were they merely refuelling, preparing to start the hunting and killing come Friday morning.

Centuries later, we’re not so different. overstuffed bargain hunters out looking for the first “steal” of the Christmas season.

Did our Pilgrim forefathers restart their stealing the day after, or did they take a long weekend?
11/24 Direct Link
Zachary couldn’t understand why he’d stopped remembering his dreams.

“Maybe it’s The Dream Thief,” his grandfather whispered, over breakfast.

“That’s enough,” his mother said. “Hurry up, or you’ll miss the school bus.”

That night, Zach caught him … a man with a bagful of dreams: Dads playing baseball, cauldrons of dragon’s fire, Grandma’s chocolate cakes, free-floating roller coasters and laugh-filled snowball fights in Yankee Stadium. Daleks with butterfly wings.

“Why would you want to steal people’s dreams?”

“If everyone held on to them,” the thief said, “we’d have more artists than accountants. What kind of world would that be?”
11/25 Direct Link
“Give her a break, she is sixty-five,” he tells me.

But she’s always been so young for her age, at least in my mind. And since I still feel (act?) like I’m in my twenties, doesn’t that mean she should still act like she’s in her forties?

Oh, but *I’m* now in my forties. When did that happen? And when did my mom get even older? She’s developing senior habits, slowly becoming a kid again … talking with her mouth full, not using her inside voice, asking questions that make no sense. Childlike, but without the stamina.

I’m so worried.
11/26 Direct Link
I’m apprehensive about this afternoon’s new student, a 53-year old Romanian engineer. He’s been problematic with two of the three teachers he’s had, sharing wisdom like “you’re too young” and “you’re female, you can’t understand.” He’s also tossed in comments like “women who go into pubs alone are whores” and “Romania has the best prostitutes.”

Apparently his business world is one big swinging dick contest and his game is to be as aggressive (as opposed to assertive, he’s been taught the differences) as possible. Great.

Now I hear he has issues with Americans. Wonder how he feels about gay ones.
11/27 Direct Link
Maybe I misspoke by calling him a misogynist. He doesn’t hate women, just believes that most of them aren’t as smart as he is.

But sex is not the only delineator of those less-clever-than-he. In fact, he thinks 85% of people are stupid.

I asked him about the “smart” 15%. Aren’t they split into another 85/15 segmentation, the brighter of the bright trying to steer the 85% of the leaders (which means in just that one permutation, we’re being led by 2.25% of the population).

Then take 15% of that … .

And now he thinks I’m clever too.
11/28 Direct Link
My mean old Romanian student seems to have a spiritual side. He likes going up into the mountains alone, because that is the place he “can talk to the god.”

He’s also had two out-of-body experiences, very nearly “meeting the death.” The first was after diving into a lake and briefly knocking himself unconscious on an rock hidden beneath the surface. He saw himself floating and said “look up and kick your legs.” The second was milliseconds before a car crashed into his. “I somehow told myself to turn the wheel, just missing being killed. Thank the god.”
11/29 Direct Link
For the first fifteen years of my adult life, I moved a lot. From college to Yellowstone, then New Orleans, Cincinnati (two addresses), New Orleans redux (4-5 in four years), Cincinnati (2 in two), Houston (2 in two), Chicago (3 in under two), and then Manhattan.

We lived on the UWS for five years, then Chelsea for seven. I finally settled down, at the ripe age of 42.

Now we’re in year three of London, and we’ll be moving again in 2008. Third flat in less than four years … and it won’t be the last.

It’s all too familiar.
11/30 Direct Link
One month down and two cycles over. Well, they will be in less than one hundred words.

No Nano this year, but 100 Words and Your Messages have more than sufficed. And next we move on to Six Sentences, both the blog and the book.

I came home to write tonight rather than stay out with the BTS. As much as I said I’d be Christmasy this year, I just wasn’t in the mood for hyperbolic hi-jinx. If I wanted to hear stories, I could come home and read them.

Or write them.

And that’s just what I’ve done.