Saturday, April 9, 2011

Long time, no see

Wow, it's been a while...Orvis has inspired/shamed me into posting a little something, a quick 15-min snippet:

Let’s talk about sex. Or rather, let’s not, let’s talk about no sex – the lack of, absence from, void where it might be. Let’s talk about the weird limbo of abstinence that exists between partners, when goodbyes have been said but it’s not quite time to say hello to someone new. This is the time in which there is no sex unintentionally, when the mash of emotions and urges stifle all impulse to desire, or be desired.

This is the time when you think I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready and somehow you never are.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Cucumber Story

It's been (quite) a while, but I wrote this story up recently and thought I'd share it:

There once was a cucumber.  He was a bright, sweet cucumber, but he felt very sour and sad on the inside.  He thought that if he could become sour on the outside, then he could be sweet and happy on the inside.  So he set to thinking how he could become sour.
First he though of becoming a pickle, but there were problems with that; he was afraid of water, so that couldn't possibly work.  Next he thought to look for somewhere that made sour candy, and see if it would make him sour.  He visited a convenience store and bought some sour candy.  He ate it, and thought it was the most sour thing he had ever tasted.  Seeing the manufacturer's address on the back of the candy, he set off.  If anyone knew how to make him sour, this Sour Factory would.
The cucumber rolled, flopped, and plodded on his way to the factory.  A couple times he rode on the back of cats.  At one point the cucumber even had to work through his fear of water and brave a ditch.  It was a tough, rough, and smelly journey but he made it after three days.  Good thing the factory was only one mile away.
When the cucumber finally reached the Sour Factory, a guard stopped him from going in.  The guard said that the cucumber was far too stinky from his travels to come inside.  Not to be discouraged, the cucumber went to a soap mine that he knew nearby and flopped down all the way to the bottom of the cave to find the nicest smelling soap.  Finding it, he happily rolled in the soap cakes until he felt squeaky clean.
The cucumber started squeaking his way back up the cave, but the noise woke up a fruit bat .  Being woken up by so strange a noise, this fruit bat got confused and thought he was a vegetable bat, so he swooped down to eat the cucumber.  Luckily the cucumber was still slick and slippery from the soap, so the bat couldn't get a grip on him.  The bat tried again and again until the cucumber slipped safely away from the cave.  At that, the bat flapped sadly back to his perch on the cave ceiling, but unluckily for him, his claws had gotten slick and soapy  A minute later he slipped off, cracked open his little head, and died.
The now dusty (but fresh smelling) cucumber quickly returned to the Sour Factory and the stink-guard let him through.  However, behind him was a second guard that stopped the cucumber, saying that no vegetables we allowed in the sour factory.  Hearing this, the cucumber thought quickly and came up with something quite clever.  Seeing how dusty and brown he had become squeaking away from the bat he said, "but sir, I am not a vegetable.  I am a potato!"  The guard believed him and so the cucumber finally passed into the Sour Factory.
Walking into the center of the Sour Factory, the cucumber found the Sour King.  The King, surprised to see a cucumber in the Sour Factory, picked him up and asked, "what are you doing here, cucumber?"
"Oh Sour King," said the cucumber.  "I feel so very sour and sad on the inside, but quite sweet on the outside.  I was hoping you would help me become sour on the outside so that I could be sweet on the inside."
"Oh little cucumber, I could do that but you are already sweet on the inside!"  And to prove his point, the Sour King ate the Cucumber.  He was very sweet on the inside indeed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Story!

Hey everybody!

Thanks for the go-ahead on my new post. I really like what I wrote but know that there is room for improvement so feel free to nitpick as you see fit. I also don't have a title for it so if you can come up with one that isn't cheesy (as all of mine are), I'd appreciate it.

Hope you enjoy it:

The heat was unbearable.

I know what you’re thinking. He’s from California…shouldn’t he be used to the heat?

That’s your first problem there. You’re assuming you know what my life has been like.

I was a nerdy kid in high school with hypersensitivity to every God-awful speck of existence on this planet. That includes the sun.

To top it off, I’m a total wimp and complain at every which moment about whatever random anxiety I’m having.

Right now, an intense desire to sneeze is slowly building up. You know what I’m talking about. That weird creeping feeling that seems to start at the tip-top of your nose, slowly vibrating down towards the ends of your nostrils, at which point you’ll crunch up your eyes, clutch your mouth to your nose, and await the eventual eruption of carbon dioxide, bacteria, and the random shot of snot or two. If it were up to me, I’d just let my nose do its thing.

If I did though, I’d give away my squad’s position and a Hell’s flurry of led would rain down on us from on high. Or at least that's what we were led to believe.

See, we’re on another routine scouting mission about 20 or so miles north of Ghazni. We’re suppose to search a few of the nearby hillsides for Osama Bin Laden, terrorists, or more tubes for the internet. I’m really not sure what it is that we’re looking for but we’re looking for it. Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal but this being Afghanistan and all, you expect every mission to end in a fatality or two.

God, if only I could be one of those lucky bastards. A bullet to the head. Stepping on an IED. Maybe getting my throat slit by an AWOL soldier while I dreamt about biting into a cheeseburger (sans the onions of course).

Yeah, I’d get a Medal of Honor for sure.

No. Fuck the medal. I just want to die.

Anybody would in this heat. What else would you want when you’re wearing 80 pounds worth of armor, clothing, guns, and spam?

The root of my psychosis delves back further than that. I’ve been asking for death to take me since I was 16. I just couldn’t ever decide how to meet him halfway. Either that or I’d experience something new that would make life worth continuing.

At 16, it was a fairly positive coming out experience that kept me going. Since the closet was behind me, I knew that I wanted to meet the guy of my dreams, fall in love and get married. That optimism spurred me to move forward in hopes of meeting him.

Like anyone else, I had my expectations for him. He’d have to be tall, handsome, funny, smart, extroverted, and be able to appreciate my quirks. I wanted someone who wouldn’t laugh at my Princess Leia cosplaying, who’d make me smile when I was down, and who’d fill in the gaps of silence that I normally initiate.

I made a few mistakes along the way but at 17 (haha, I know that doesn’t seem like a long time) I met an awesome guy who did all of that and more. We were young and idealistic and were able to make 4 years worth of bitter sweet memories together.

We were our first loves.


The glazed look in my eyes quickly vanished as I stood at attention.

“Yes sir?”

“Walk up that ridge and confirm we have secured this area.”


Drawing my eyes to the top of the ridge, I took my first step and remembered what our walks home were like. Every step was an eternity where we shared what little we knew about each other. Each step was racked with nervousness and anticipation. Would I tell you something you didn’t like? Would that put you off and end our romantic endeavors?

I was closer to the ridge now.

My feet were unsettling dust and pebbles that probably haven’t been disturbed by a Westerner’s feet for ages.

That first time we broke up comes to mind. I was so hurt by what I perceived you did. My insecurities got the best of me and I couldn’t believe that you could remain faithful to me…and we broke up.

The months that followed were pretty horrible and left me damaged and torn. It’s really the main reason why I never made any new friends at college. Why I chose to hide in my shell and pretend like I was invisible.

I still do that to this day.

The hill is steeper than I thought. Must be all the weight I’m carrying. I have to get on my hands and knees to make it to the top. I hear my Commanding Officer shout something but my company suddenly seems far.

8 months passed and we got together again. Sort of. We were both hurt…and we played games with each other for a good long while. As time passed, my heart started giving away and resentment started to take hold. I felt like I could never be enough for you. I was slowly killing myself.

I’m almost at the top. My eyes peek over the ridge and I can sort of see one of the nearby villages below.

Years past. We had good and bad times. It seemed like everything was falling into place. The games had stopped and we were on solid ground. Then I enlisted. I wanted to see the world and experience new things.

You hated that idea from the get go. Maybe deep down, you realized how fragile you and I really were. I thought we were stronger than any force on God’s Earth. A little time apart is nothing compared to the eternal love we shared. I had absolute faith in us.

Then the games started up again. You couldn’t bear the burden of a long distance relationship…even though I promised you the world when I returned. The grey areas were set up again. I met someone else. Our world came tumbling down.

My hands grasp the top of the ridge and I start pulling myself up.

The smiles, the laughter, the heartache, and tears, it all hits me at once.

Where did our love go?

My radio clicks. “Ramirez. Is the area secure?”

I turn off my radio and scan the valley around us.

I reach for my M-16, turn, and stare down at my squad.

My first shot hits my Commanding Officer in his right thigh. I bet that hurts.

There’s confusion. They don’t understand what I just did.

My second one tears through one of my fellow grunt’s shoulders. He’s probably not going to be jacking off for a good long time.

Now they get it. They scramble for cover while I stand tall on the ridge with the sun beating down on my back.

It’s too fucking hot here.

I fire a few more pots shots hoping that they feel even more threatened by me and recall what your lips felt like that first time we kissed.

“And I have to speculate that God himself/ Did make us into corresponding shapes like/ Puzzle pieces from the clay”

I think about our song and even that fails to capture the beauty of what we created that day.

My Commanding Officer yells into his radio. I hear them confirm the order.

Holstering my M-16, I take aim at my C.O.’s head. I won’t fire though. That’d be selfish of me.

The heat was still unbearable.

It wasn’t what I expected. It took me a few seconds to realize that the bullet had torn through the front end of my skull and exited through the back door. It was like a ballet of led, brains, blood and bone; a beautifully painful dance between mortality and flesh.

How utterly appropriate.

It would have been more poetic to have shot my heart.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Post?

Hey everyone.

First off, my heart goes out to Lindsay's friends and family. I never met her but I'm sure she was a special person.

Finding out someone has passed away is a difficult experience to deal with. In all honesty, I have yet to have anyone in my direct life die so I imagine when it does happen I will be completely distraught.

That said, I wanted to share a new short story I wrote. However, it happens to deal with death (specifically self-inflicted death) and I feel a bit unsure about posting it.

It's honestly a very morose piece of writing and will probably have many of you question my own mental state of mind. However, I do feel that it is a powerful story to be told and would love to share it with you all.

With that said, I am turning to my fellow bloggers and asking how you all would feel with me posting it on here. I have already posted it on my own blog but I prefer placing it here as I consider this a great forum for our writing. If most of you support me, I'll post it up the next chance I get. Of course, if you all feel that it would be insensitive to put up a death related story up I will be more than happy to not post it.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

My love and condolences,


Monday, November 2, 2009


I started this blog because Lindsay wanted an excuse to write more often. Even though she never had the time to post (she was a VERY busy lady, actually), and even though I know we go through our no-post cycles, the truth is, I never would have shut this site down, because you'd never know when she'd decide to spare a minute and share something beautifully crafted with the rest of us.

Lindsay Leonard was hit by a car yesterday evening while crossing the street. The street was apparently badly lit, and she and her roommate had been crossing behind a bus, so it's really no surprise that the driver couldn't see them. The driver did stick around and cooperated with the authorities. Lindsay's roommate is currently in the hospital in critical condition. Lindsay was killed instantly. They say she felt no pain.

Whenever you write, I hope you will write something she would have loved.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I like to drop them
lightly on tabletops
subliminal earlobe ticklers:
a name

without deliberation
just a fact

three precious syllables
morphed into many head nods
yes, I understand
months and months into the future.

just thought I'd grace the page with a bit of fresh meat. I wrote this last night. Fresh off the page, so to speak. Hope you guys are well.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Session 22: Topic for 09/29/09 - 10/05/09

This last week I’ve been writing a paper for a class I like. It’s for a professor I like about a play I like. I like the subject, style, prompt, and everything about it, really. Despite how much I liked it, I couldn’t—for the life of me—make myself read or write anything anything about it. It was one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever had in terms of motivating myself to do it.

What prompted my lack of interest despite my interest? Why is my brain telling me both yes and no?

This paradoxical theme has done more than influence my life lately; it’s been running it. It makes me so happy to miss someone, and at the same time it hurts so much. The more I want to get something done, the less likely I am to do it. I can’t wait for this year to end, but I feel like it’s coming way too quickly.

In short, my life has become paradoxical. It’s confusing and intriguing. At the same time, I wish it upon all of you and none of you.

This week’s topic is Paradox.  Find something that is defies sense, has no answer, or creates a strange loop.  Use it as your theme, thesis, or structure.  Play with it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Exciting News: Raising $ for AIDS Walk!

You'll find my official blog page about this at

Over the weekend I signed up to participate in the 2009 AIDS Walk, Los Angeles Chapter. Basically, we're walking to raise money for AIDS research/prevention/all-that-good-stuff. The foundation is pretty awesome actually, this is its 25th year at work. We're walking on October 18th. Good stuff.

Now. I foolishly signed up to be a Star Walker. This means I have pledged to raise $1000. That's a thousand dollars, by October 18th. And I actually want all my donations in by the 15th, to account for money transfer. That is cutting it pretty close.

But let's do the math. The minimum online donation amount is $25, and it's much easier to donate online, and to not lose the money. Suppose y'all donated $25 each. That's five coffees, or two movie tickets, maybe one or two really good dinners, or a birthday gift for yours truly (the big day IS a week after the AIDS Walk!). It's a small sacrifice to make for a good cause, and to help out your ol' pal Barbara. If forty of you--only forty, that's slightly more than the size of one classroom of gradeschool kids nowadays--I'll hit my goal without a hitch.

Now, if you were to donate, I would want to thank you for your kind gesture. How would I thank you? One of three ways, my friends. One of three ways.

All images below are not final versions. These are my mock-ups. I'm still cutting out the stencils for the finals!

ONE: Handmade Book

I've written an adaptation of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, set in South Africa, called "The Children's Song." It's all handmade--written by hand, cut and set and bound, and illustrated (though I should note that the illustrations are primarily stencil sprays, like with graffiti). I'm making forty of them, all of which will be numbered in order of completion. The books will also be personalized with the name of the donating recipient on a thank you page. Pen and spray on cardstock, with varying cover colors. 5.5"X6.0"

TWO: AIDS Walk Print

I am making forty of these prints. Again, this is the mock-up, not the final version. THe final version will be made with stencils and spray, not with ink markers. Numbered in order of completion, signed, the whole shebang. Forty available, 5.5X8.5"

THREE: Three-Print Set

This is not one image. It's a set of three individual prints, each one 6X6" and sprayed on cardstock. The backgrounds will not be white--I am spraying onto cardstock of various backgrounds and patterns. Some are metallic, some are flat solid color, some are striped, so on so forth. Once again, this is the mock-up, not the final spray version. I just want you to have a rough idea of what you're in for! :-) Thirty-three sets available.


Donations of $25 will receive one of the above three, your choice, while supplies last.

Donations of $50 will receive two of the above three, again, you choice, while supplies last.

Donations of $75 or more will receive all of the above, while supplies last.

I know these are lean times, and I'm honestly not expecting donations of $50 and $75. But hey, may as well put it out there. Just in case you decide to be the best! donor! ever!


To donate, follow this link to make an online payment. Remember, the minimum donation is $25. Credit/Debit cards and PayPal. Because they designed it that way?

Once you've donated, email me--barbara.bownds(at) let me know which thank you is the one you'd like to receive. Again, these are not gifts, and they're not for sale. They're strictly meant to express my gratitude for donors who are helping me to reach my goal of $1000. Obviously I'm keeping none of the profits. Everything goes to AIDS Walk LA. Include your mailing address so I can send you your thank you post-haste. Don't worry about postage, I'll be taking care of that.

Remember, you have until OCTOBER 15TH. The deadline is actually the 18th, but I want to have a three-day buffer to account for the transfer of funds.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Session 21: Topic for 09/21 - 09/27

Mostly healthy! Hooray!

I'm a bit up to my ears in writing/artsy projects at the moment, so I'll probably be going off topic this week when I post. No reason to not post a topic though:

There are twenty topics on the site besides this one. Pick one of them--one that you HAVEN'T written for previously--and run with it. I'm interested in seeing which topics people are more drawn to, so that in the future your super duper mods can continue to provide interesting fodder for writing.

While you're at it, if you have time, I highly suggest you look at the work that your peers have been submitting since we started this shindig, and comment on at least one piece. I'm sure everyone's tired of hearing what I think about their work. You all write, and you all think about what you write, and what others write. So let us know!

I've also got some news that I find exciting, and as soon as I have all my materials together, I'll share it with everyone. Probably on Wednesday.

In the meantime, let's go!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This Week MIA

Why hello all. Mod 2 is traveling in Europe, Mod 3 is starting a brand new school year, and Mod 1 has been recovering from illness (yes, for the third week in a row. Apparently diseases think I am easier to ride than the town bicycle). I've just now started recovering from a nasty nasty Sunday, and the rest of the week will be required to suss out the nausea and pain and whatnot. So, we continue next Sunday. Comments will be up by then for Topic 20, and Topic 21 will also go up. Feel free to post whatever you like in the meantime!

Monday, September 14, 2009

mr. bench:

Slightly off-topic, perhaps, but it's a decision and confrontation I'd like to make.

In my recent late night commutes back home, when the 30 or 40 minutes of bright halogen headlights in my eyes has passed, driving through downtown Sierra Madre is completely deserted. Except every now and then, after I drive past Bean Town, there is a man sitting on a public bench on the sidewalk, typing on his laptop. What is he doing? Why 2:30 in the morning? Where is he getting his free wi-fi?

To my fellow bloggers I make my solemn vow: Next time I see this man, I'm going to ask these questions, and I will report back with the results.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rare but wondrous spontaneity

In the big ways, I'm not a very spontaneous person. I researched buying my computer for well over a month before choosing one, and the last time I needed new shoes, I bought and returned several pairs. But on the rare occasions when I make a decision that's sure to create an alternate timeline, Star Trek-style, I've had tremendous success--sometimes without even knowing it.

The most blatant example of a snap decision I made is how I ended up meeting my boyfriend. In a fit of frustration with my single status the October of my senior year in college, I went on an online dating frenzy to find myself a match. The one guy I really liked--who used complete sentences (sexy!), wrote like a sweetheart, and was a total hottie--didn't respond, and my search fizzled out after meeting one guy for coffee a few times.

But six months later, in a last fit of procrastination near finals time, I checked every online account I had ever made. The Yahoo account--the one I had completely forgotten about--had a tremendous surprise for me. The mystery guy I had taken to occasionally wondering about had gallantly paid the $25 for the ability to send a message that wasn't pre-written, and he had sent me an e-mail asking me to call him. Terrified of initiating phone contact, I wrote back with my own number in the vain hope he might be the one to break the ice.

The next day he called and asked if I could meet up that afternoon--off-campus! Leaving the cozy grounds of Vassar was always a big deal for me, and meeting an intriguing townie merely upped the stakes. But I figured, what do I have to lose? So I gave my assent, along with what turned out to be horrible directions, and trotted off to the edge of campus in my too-big t-shirt. (A friend I passed gave me one look and said, "Well, at least you're not misrepresenting yourself.")

Not only did I give him terrible directions, but the cafe that was our destination ended up being closed despite the hours on the door, and on a nice walk I tripped and got my shoes completely covered in mud.

That was over three years ago, and we've been together ever since.

I'd like to say my unintentional brilliance was the result of lessons learned at a young age, but the truth is I don't even remember the first special person I met thanks to a split decision. I met my friend Arpi in fourth grade, when she came to visit my class for the day so she could see if she liked the school. (I got her home phone number by calling our teacher; nowadays we would've probably swapped MySpaces or something horrible.)

The way I remember it, we bonded after I noticed her looking at a manual to the "science" of Star Trek and recognized her as a fellow nerd. But the way she tells it, our eyes locked earlier that morning in some coordinated outdoor activity, during which I randomly threw the ball to her instead of any of the 16 kids in my class I already knew. I honestly don't remember that, but she claims that's the reason we've been friends ever since.

You'd think after snap decisions having such great outcomes, I'd have learned something about the satisfaction that comes from taking the plunge. But my shoes are worn out now, and I plan to buy the exact same kind I have. And when my computer eventually meets its demise, I won't just snap up another one. But perhaps in personal interactions, I have some inner mechanism that just knows when to go for it. Or maybe I'm just extremely lucky.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Session 20: Topic for 09/8/09 - 09/14/09

Yesterday a friend and I were driving home, nothing special going on, just having an easy conversation in the car after finishing a delicious lunch. I casually looked out the passenger side window, and two blocks away was a man, heading in our direction, wearing a Captain Hammer shirt. Brimming with excitement, I shushed my friend, rolled down the window, and enthusiastically praised the Hammer Man Fan. It was a drive-by compliment, and the reaction was worth the impulse: I got back two fervent thumbs up and a grin so wide the Chesire Cat would break his jaw trying it. The whole thing took less than five seconds, if you don't count the time I took after the fact explaining to my friend why I kudos'd a perfect stranger with a hammer on his shirt, but I'm glad it happened, and I hope he is, too.

For all of the time and effort we put into our decisions and daily lives, a good majority of what we think and do is governed by snap decisions. Those decisions may well be informed by our backgrounds and histories, but what matters is that when the times comes, sometimes we just jump right into things, sometimes for the worse, hopefully for the better. Most of these snap decisions won't stay with us for the rest of our lives (where to eat, buying red vs green apples), but we'll look back fondly on our will-'o-the-wisp adventures and the right-time-right-place choices that, while initially impromptu, improved our moods and lives.

Write about an instant, a turning point, a Snap. Decision. Something that happened in five seconds or less that led to something bigger, or something memorable, or both. Real or imagined or both, doesn't matter. In the spirit of the topic, it can be incredibly short. Or not, if you prefer something longer, or medium.

Welcome to September!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

El tiempo de nuestro amor.

Nuestro amor bloomed during Spring and fittingly died in October.

My sentence

"So wait, he broke your arm and claimed he was provoked, and now you're getting suspended?"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The anticipation of seeing fire, spinning luxuriously on the end of a string, appearing to not be attached to anything, to be surrounded by these people, sets me to wishing it was already after dark.

a la The Fountain

I am.

Session #19: Topic for 09/03/09 - 09/07/09

Since this topic is late--week's half over!--I'll keep it simple.

Write a sentence. Make it a good one--maybe the whole thing will be a story in and of itself. Maybe it'll be a compelling fragment belonging to a larger conversation/piece. It could be a thoughtful revelation, a meditation on your current state of being, something vulgar, something insipid, anything you want.

This one's so easy that you'll probably need to get tested when you're done with it.

Let's go!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hour of Day Fragment



It was five twenty seven in the morning when it happened. That was two days ago.

Three days ago I was sitting in our home mending his pants. Threading the needle I wondered about The Bad News he had yet to share since I'd missed his call. Every new stitch into the fabric was a reinforcement, everything is fine, everything is fine. I had to stop worrying and trust him, I thought, tying off the knot.

Five days ago I was cleaning our new house. It was our first full week there, the first week of dishes and dirty floors and ironing his shirts (but not the fights, forget about the fights, forget abut crying in the bathroom all night). I packed his travel bag for his weekend trip; he would be visiting his parents. Three shirts, two pants, three pairs of boxers, chargers, toiletries, but why would he need his cologne?

Six, seven, and eight days ago, we were making up and making up and making up again. He said he was sorry (he said it too much). He said he'd never leave me (but he tried to make you leave him). He said he was crazy about me (but he said that it wasn't enough). We made up in our new home, and I believed him.

It was five twenty seven in the morning when he called. The reception was poor in the house, so I walked outside in the morning dark. He was driving back from his weekend trip. He told me everything (and you knew that it was coming).

The day after he left me would have been our anniversary.