Wednesday, February 27, 2008


This is just to say that two pieces which I originally posted here have been published in the Goliard. I also might start posting again here soon. I have a few longer short stories in the works. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jews, Bagels and a Caramel Macciato

A shot of espresso, then two pumps of vanilla. Fill it the rest of the way up with steamed milk, leaving just enough room for the whipped cream and caramel sauce. Deftly, I whip the cream into a perfect spiral on the surface of the drink. Then I take out the small tube of caramel sauce, shake it a few times, and lay it down in a checkerboard pattern over the whipped cream. Another perfect drink.

“Caramel Macciato up!” I yell, as I slide the cardboard cup across the counter.

A Caramel Macciato is a work of art, really. It’s my favorite drink to make. It took me a long time to get it right – for the first few weeks my whipped cream would come out in lopsided blobs, with the caramel sauce welled up uselessly at the side. But I got plenty of practice, and eventually I came to pride myself in my caramel macciato skills. Two things really bother me, though – when someone starts drinking theirs without first looking at it, and when someone orders one without whipped cream.

I know it’s fattening and some people don’t need it. But it just looks so sad without the whipped cream, like it’s only half a drink. Plus the caramel can’t make patterns and pictures on the top – they sink in as soon as I squirt them out. Sometimes I make little sad faces with the caramel on drinks with no whipped cream, to show how the drink is feeling.

There are no more customers in line. This isn’t odd, really, it’s 9:30 on a Thursday and we usually get a bit of a slump anytime a class is starting. They’ll be back.

“Want me to go restock the coolers?” I ask my boss, Linda.

“Sure Hon,” she says, “You just do whatever ya think you should. I’ll give ya a holler if a need you,”

I take the little cart back to the stock room. The stock room is a big room, with shelves full of every kind of food or drink we serve, except whichever one we’re currently out of. I think there must be someone whose job it is to decide what not to order each week, because every week we’ll have an overabundance of most things and an absolute dearth of one particular item, and that is the item everyone will want. This week it’s cream cheese, which is unfortunate, because bagels are basically the only real food we serve, and who’s gonna want a bagel without cream cheese?

I wonder where the association between bagels and cream cheese began. I know bagels were invented by German Jews at some point roughly a hundred years ago. I don’t know why I know this, but I do. I wonder if these same Jews invented cream cheese? I wonder if, in Germany, under the Nazis, bagels were outlawed because they were Jewish, or if the Nazis tried to rewrite history so that the bagel was an Aryan invention. It must have sucked to be a seller of bagels back then, I muse. Or a seller of cream cheese.

I get my cart filled up with drinks and things and get back to the little booth just in time to see our next customer – Julie. I only know her name because I stole a glance at her credit card once when she was using it to pay for her drink. Julie comes in every Tuesday and Thursday morning at precisely 9:45 and orders a bagel with cream cheese and a tall skim latte. She usually gets a flavor shot, but never the same one twice. I think she’s trying to try them all. This is all I know about her. That, and the fact that she’s gorgeous.

I often wonder if Julie has a boyfriend. On the one hand, I mean how could she not? But I know from experience that what I consider beautiful is not necessarily what guys in general consider beautiful. Plus she’s quite, maybe kind of shy. A lot of guys don’t go out for that.

I wonder if she’s Jewish. She does look a little Jewish, and she always orders a bagel. But lots of people like bagels. Liking bagels doesn’t make you a Jew any more than liking pizza makes you Italian. Although not really because modern pizza is an American invention, but I digress. Anyway, I don’t think Julie is a particularly Jewish name.

As I move inside to start Julie’s drink, she surprises me – she orders a tall skim caramel macciato. I start in on the familiar steps – one shot espresso, two pumps of vanilla, all the way up to the whipped cream. I hesitate for a moment, picking up the caramel sauce. The checkerboard pattern seems too bland for a girl like Julie. Maybe I should make a heart? No, too sappy. Her name? That’s just creepy. My phone number maybe? That’d be classy, suave. Or just tacky. Plus I’m not even sure it would fit. I briefly consider a star of David, but that seems like a big risk.

“You ok there?” asks Linda.

“Fine,” I tell her. I settle on a smiley face, a nice, innocent design, and then put a little extra caramel around the edges so it doesn’t affect the taste. I put a lid on and hand it to her.

“Enjoy,” I say, as suavely as I can.

“Thanks,” she says, smiling. I sigh as she walks away. That right there is the highlight of my Thursdays, maybe of my whole week. How sad is that?

Sunday, October 07, 2007


My country is under siege from within

By terrorists using biological warfare

And now they are threatening our children

It’s not enough that we have to put up

With the locusts they have unleashed

to eat our crops and destroy our food supply.

It’s not enough that they’ve contaminated our water

So that instead of flowing clear it runs red,

And they have infected our livestock

With a deadly pestilence

No, not for him, the smug, bearded murderer

Who calls himself a freedom fighter,

A Holy Warrior, who says that God is On His Side,

Then says he will murder our children

if we don’t give in to his demands.

We must be strong. We must not yield.

Even though a “Great cry be heard,

as has never been heard, and never will be again,”

Egypt does not negotiate with terrorists.

I will not let your people go.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Poem in free verse about my hair

I am at a crossroads concerning my hair.

I did not mean to grow it out, in truth

I merely didn’t get around to cutting it,

And now it is too long.

Or perhaps not long enough

for what I want to do with it.

It all depends on what looks cool.

In my mind it looks good long,

But in my mind the sides of it curl out

In opposite directions

(And they don’t actually do that.)

I look at pictures of

myself when my hair was long

Longer than now, and I think to

myself “why did I do that?”

But now that it’s getting that long again

I don’t want to cut it.

I do not like my hair.

It is uncooperative no matter what the length,

but it is very soft and I like how it feels

Anyway it is my hair and there's no changing it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


He is not in love her.

He knows love, in his mind at least, and knows that love is something that comes with time, something that must grow and develop, not anything that can be gleaned from a single conversation, or even from years of casual contact. And so he knows he cannot be in love with her.

Maybe he could be in love with her.

Were the world a slightly different place. If he’d met her a year ago, when he was still single, or if he’d never met Katrina and he was still single, or if he’d had the confidence to approach her the first time he saw her, sitting at the table by herself, reading, maybe if it had been a book he knew, maybe if he could have used that as an excuse to strike up a conversation with her without looking like a complete idiot, maybe, then, maybe, he could be in love with her.


Maybe he will be in love with her. Maybe his relationship with Katrina, wonderful as it seems to be, will come to a sudden unexpected end. and there she will be, funny and witty and gorgeous and perfect as she was that day in the cafeteria. Maybe years from now, when their children ask them how they’d met, the last two years will have become nothing but an amusing anecdote.


Maybe not.

Maybe she would never have dated him anyway. Maybe she would have, but she would have turned out to be mean or shallow or boring. Maybe they would have just become friends. Or maybe, just maybe, everything would have worked out fine and he’d be sitting here, at this same table, looking over at Katrina, and wondering if he could ever have been in love with her.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chapter 19

"Where have you been?" asked Vivacia as her roommate walked in the door. Amora was wearing the same warm smile she always wore, but her best friend knew her too well to be fooled. Something was troubling her.
"Guild business," Amora replied curtly. "The gnome boy was being examined, and my father wanted me on hand for some reason," She rolled her eyes and flung her bag down on the couch.
Amora and Vivacia's apartment in Tiesan hall was small, but cozy. Two semicircular beds jutted out from the walls like shelves, with ladders against each wall leading up to them. The bottom floor contained a desk (which was hardly ever used,) a small couch, and, in the center of the chamber, a fire pit with a spit over it, which seemed completely out of place in the tiny, second story room. Currently there was small cauldron suspended from the spit, and there was something simmering in it.
"What's cooking?" asked Amora, with hint of wry humor.
"Oh, just a potion for Lady Cecilia," Vivacia replied, "She's gonna stop by here in a little while, by the way. Needs my help with some ritual,"
"I've been wondering about that," commented Amora after a moment. "She seems to need your help a lot lately. Isn't it... a bit odd?"
"Not really," answered her friend, "Why would it be?"
"Well, she's, like, the most powerful witch in the world, right?"
"She's up there," Vivacia replied proudly.
"Well, no offense, I mean, you're good, but you've been doing this - two years? Three? Why wouldn't Lady Cecilia choose a more... experienced witch?"
"Oh," said Vivacia. She began to blush a bit. "Well, it's kind of, um... I mean, yes, she wants the most experienced witch possible, but some rituals require a younger witch, and some..." she trailed off. The cauldron whistled; she got up and and began to stir it.
"Yes?" asked Amora after a moment.
"Younger," said Vivacia decidedly. She was blushing quite a bit now."Some rituals just... need a younger witch. So, um, this gnome boy, how was he?"
Amora understood that her friend was not telling her everything, but she decided to let her change the subject.
"Hardly much of a threat," she said. "In fact, I think he could be kind of useful. I just wish I hadn't introduced myself to him by cursing him. My uncle's right. I need to be building support, not alienating people."
"I'm sorry," replied the human. "It's my fault. If you hadn't shot at Bogue -"
Amora cut her off. "It was my bad judgement as well as yours. No more messing around, though. I can't afford to take the chance,"
They sat in silence for a moment.
"You really think your uncle's gonna die?" asked Vivacia. "Like, soon? I mean, not elf soon, cause that could be forever, but like, human soon?"
"He thinks so," Amora answered. "He's getting his affairs in order."
Vivacia thought for a moment.
"Unless," she said eventually.
"Unless what?" asked Amora.
"Well, he told you not to tell anyone, especially Lady Cecilia, right?" asked Vivacia.
"So?" prodded the elf.
"So keeping secrets has never been your strong suit, Am. He knows that. He also knows I'm your best friend, and he knows I'm kind of Lady Cecilia's protege... "
"You thinking he wants it to get out," observed Amora.
"It all kind of adds up, doesn't it?" Vivacia replied.
Amora made to reply, but was interrupted by a knock on the door. She had barely opened it a crack when a tiny purple and beige figure zoomed through. Simile slowed down and came level with Amora's face. She was carrying a scroll which was slightly larger than she was. She proffered it to Amora.
"From your uncle," she said, irritably, "Apparently Thurigen isn't the only one in this city who thinks 'pixie' is synonymous with 'carrier pigeon'."
"Thanks, Simile," said Amora, taking the scroll. She unrolled it and began to read. Simile zoomed over to the cauldron and hovered over it briefly, then flew over to Vivacia.
"Smells good," she said. "But do you really want the Lady to come in here and smell a love potion?"
"Viv!" Amora exclaimed.
A look of panic had spread across the face of the young witch.
"You can smell it already?" she asked. "It still has to stew for a few weeks - how...?"
"Pixie nose," Simile replied, "A little stronger than a human's. But if you think they've invented a potion Lady Cecilia can't recognize, in any stage..."
"Viv, what is that for?" asked Amora.
"A friend," answered Vivacia.
"You're a terrible liar," said the pixie, zooming between the two women.
"It's not what you think," the witch began, but just then there was another knock. The room fell silent.
"Vivacia?" came Lady Cecilia's voice from the other side of the door. "Are you ready?"
"Yes, just a moment!" called the young woman.
"May I come in?" asked the matron.
"Um... I'm not decent," Vivacia replied.
"Alright, I'll wait in the lobby," answered Lady Cecilia.
Vivian waited a moment for her to leave, then mouthed, "That was close,"
"The woman can read minds," admonished Simile, rounding her tiny body on the pale witch. "You're a fool if you think you can hide anything from her. What were you thinking?"
"Hang on," said Amora. "What's so bad about Vivacia brewing a love potion? I mean, I know they're dangerous and all, but it's not really her any of her business, is it?'
"It is if she has to train up a new virgin!" exclaimed Simile.
"Simile!" cried Vivacia.
A look of understanding passed over Amora's face.
"A 'younger witch," she said. "I had no idea,"
"That's important to witch's magic," said the pixie. "The maiden, the mother, and the crone,"
Vivacia looked adamant. "I wasn't gonna actually... you know..."
"Not if you want to keep your job you weren't," laughed Simile. "Not really in need of another mother, is she? I gotta run. So do you. Best not to keep the lady waiting." She zoomed up and out the chimney.
Amora looked to her friend, who seemed on the verge of tears. A small green bubble appeared in the elf's hand.
"Cheer up," she said. "We'll talk about this later, but Lady Cecilia shouldn't see you like this,"
The witch nodded. Amora flicked the little bolt of happiness over to her friend. As it sunk in a smile flickered over her face.
"Thanks" she said. "I'll see you tonight. Take care,"
She slid out the door, closing it behind her. Amora settled on the couch.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Buffy Fic in script form

Time period: beginning of season six
Scene: Buffy, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara, and Dawn are watching TV on the couch.
Xander: Ok, so, not that I'm not enjoying "Bride of the Infomercial" here, but... has anyone seen the remote?
Anya: As much as I enjoy the rampant display of capitalism, he does have a point.
Dawn: Are you sure you're not sitting on it again?
Buffy: I don't know... I haven't seen it in a couple hours.
Tara: Oh no, do you think it might be in trouble? Buffy, what do we do?
Willow: Oh! I could do a spell!
Tara: No magic, Willow!
Willow: [sad face]
Dawn: I really think Xander is sitting on the remote.
Buffy: Do you think we should call Giles? I think we should call Giles.
Willow: Do you thing it might have been taken by demons? Cause I know this great spell for finding demons-
Anya: Oh! A Keeyaris demon!
Buffy: A what?
Anya: Keeyaris demon! They're really lazy, so they like to steal remote controls and then use them to control the mortals they steal them from.
Tara: Oh my God Buffy, if one of those things has your remote -
Buffy: We have to find it. Tara, try that locater spell. [Willow and Tara leave] I'm gonna go see if Spike knows anything about a -
Spike pops up from behind the couch.
Spike: About a what now?
Buffy: Spike, what are you doing here?
Spike: Just thought I'd watch a spot of TV. 'S not a bloody crime.
Buffy: You were hiding behind my couch!
Xander: Uh, guys? I know we're all kind of on edge right now, but we do have a remote stealing demon to find.
Dawn: You're sitting on it Xander. I can see the corner of it under your butt.
Anya: Don't look at Xander's butt! That's my butt is only mine to look at.
Buffy: Spike, have you heard anything about a Keeyaris demon?
Spike: Oh, so when you need to know about a demon, I'm your man, but when I just want to watch a bit of TV...
Buffy: Spike, you have your own TV in your crypt! So don't tell me you're here to watch TV, Spike! I know what your doing here, and I'm not interested!
Spike: Fine then. I'm not helping you find your bloody remote, though. You can watch bloody infomercials all night for all I care!
Dawn: Xander is sitting on the remote! I've been saying it all night.
Buffy: Dawn is there something you want to tell us?
Dawn: Never mind.
Buffy: We need to find this remote before things get out of hand. Anya, go down to the magic shop and see if we have anything on this Keeyaris demon. I'm gonna go see if Willy the Snitch knows anything. Xander - check under the couch cushions.
Buffy and Anya leave. Xander stands up, revealing the remote he's been sitting on. Suddenly, it comes to life and bites him.
Xander: Buffy! Ah!
Dawn: Oh my God! Oh my God!
Willow and Tara re-enter.
Willow: Xander, I'm so sorry! I tried to do a spell to find the remote but something went wrong!
Xander: Really? Cause I was kind thinking this was supposed to happen.
Willow, Tara, Xander and Dawn flail around ineffectually trying to fight the remote for about five minutes before Buffy finally shows up.
Buffy: You know what I've come to realize during this whole adventure? It's not about mute, or changing the channel. It's about power.
Buffy and the mutant remote begin to fight. The remote has her cornered when Spike enters.
Buffy: Don't worry. I have the situation well under "control".
Spike helps Buffy kick the remote's ass. Eventually, it lies broken on the ground.
Xander: Great, now how do we change the channel.
Willow [breaks down crying]: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't - I just - I.
Spike: Wait, Red's spell did this? Then where was the remote in the first place?
Xander: Oh, it turns out I was sitting on it the whole time!
Buffy: Just think - it was right there the whole time. If only someone had realized.
Dawn smacks herself in the forehead very loudly.