So this writing thing I do, I would probably call it more than just a hobby. It's important to me, and eventually I'd like to pursue it to a more professional level. And that's why I'm majoring in Computer Science.

Okay, not really.

But I'm not a sellout. I know I'm supposed to be living the good life, working all day waiting tables to come home to my mildewed apartment in a poverty-stricken neighborhood and write all night long because I'm just that inspired. I'm not supposed to have a real job, particularly one that would put me anywhere near that awful middle class. I'm supposed to sacrifice the comforts of a decent paycheck for doing what I love.

Here's the thing. I love computer science.

I can't help that what I love can also be pretty lucrative. I can't help it that there are a million computer scientists out there. Let me tell you, there are a million writers out there, too. And just like the writers, not all of those million computer scientists are good at what they do.

This evening I will be submitting the finished product of four months of work, the most dreaded project of the CS program here at ASU: SPECI (pronounced speck-ee). It's a simulator of the PDP-11, a computer from the stone age that reads programs written in base-8 numbers. And for four months, Ashley and I have labored over this project, trying to make something that will read PDP-11 programs and give back the appropriate output. And that is exactly what it does. It's a beautiful thing.

Let me try to explain the appeal of coding to you. Do you like algebra? No, of course not, otherwise you would understand without me having to explain. Do you like jigsaw puzzles? I love them. I love working on something, taking a whole bunch of pieces that mean nothing right now and turning them into something really cool. That's computer science to me. I attack a problem with my coding language and all the little tricks I've learned, my jigsaw pieces, and I put them together in some way to make something that works, something useful.

It's really not all that different from writing. Code can be eloquent and pithy and clever in all the ways writing can. Good writers get their point across in one statement instead of six. Good programmers do too. Good writers know when to use a metaphor and when to go for a simile. Good programmers know when to use a stack and when an array would be better. C++ and Java and Perl and all the rest are called languages for a reason.

I'm probably not convincing anyone that Computer Science is anything like literature or that software constitutes as art. Persuasive writing has never been my strong point. But that's okay.

I write excellent code.


a happy ending.

I don't know about you guys, but I have a place to live.

I don't mean to gloat over the homeless or anything. Of course, if you live on the street, but have a computer and an internet connection, maybe your priorities just aren't in order.

The apartment search is officially over, as Wednesday night I signed my name to a six-page, very thorough lease that my new landlords, the Hartleys, had borrowed from a lawyer friend of theirs. Actually, I signed my name twice, once for each copy of the lease. I did read the whole thing, because that's what big girls who are going to live by themselves do. I agreed to pay my rent on time every month (or pay a 10% late fee), to report all problems immediately, to not use an inordinate amount of toilet paper, and to have "No Beer Keg Parties". Then I signed my name again, this time on a big fat check covering the security deposit and the first month's rent. It was a big day for my John Hancock.

The Hartleys are very nice people, very southern, traditional people. She's a retired school teacher and works now in the antique store downtown. He's a surveyor. Their son, who was my liaison for finding and seeing the property, is a contractor. The Hartleys are expecting a grandbaby soon. I know a lot about them, because like southerners, we sat around talked for an hour even though we came for a specific task and had never previously met.

I saw the ad in the paper about two weeks ago: 2 bedroom, dishwasher, $425 a month. That's a good deal. So I gave the number a call and made an appointment to see the place. Ashley and I followed the directions the day before to make sure I could find it, as it seemed a little out of the way. It was about ten minutes out of town, but the drive was gorgeous. The trees were starting to bloom, the grass was green, and the sky was as sky blue as a sky can be. Mother Nature wanted me to like this place.

We passed the farm, the Choose-n-Cut, the gun club. The reason people from around here measure distance in how long it takes to get there is because a number of miles won't tell you anything. It was four and a half miles from the last stoplight in Boone, but those curves slow you down. We pulled in the dirt road that ran alongside a tiny stream and into the driveway by a few big trees.

Admittedly, the house looks a little weather-beaten from the outside. The paint is peeling and the stairs creak, but those are things I can live with. I'll be on the inside most of the time anyway. It was a two-story duplex, and the top was the part being advertised. Of course it was locked, but we dared to peek in the windows, the multitude of windows that made our hearts pitter patter, hearts that had been living in a basement apartment for two years now.

The kitchen and living room were all we could see, but it was a lot to take in. The kitchen was wide and open, with tons of cabinets and counter-space, almost new appliances, an antique china cabinet and lovely new faucets. The living room had real carpet, not the stuff you find in high schools, other institutions, libraries, and basement apartments that our feet had been walking on for the the past two years. Glory be, I would have to get a vacuum cleaner! The ceiling was tilted up along with the slant of the roof, with a ceiling fan and a chandelier. The ceiling itself was like the inside of a log cabin, covered in finished boards. It was the first time I had been actually impressed with a place since I'd seen the apartments for poor people that I couldn't live in.

I had to bring some references to the meeting. Well, the ad in the paper had said they were required, though he had said they would be "helpful" on the phone. I'd never really made a list of references before, so I did the best I could. I typed it up all pretty, with my name and two phone numbers on it. I put down references for everything I could think of: personal references, employment, credit, rental (although I was a little hesitant on putting down my current landlord, as I'm not quite sure how he feels about me). I figured any other applicants were probably college students as well, and hoped I they would all just have a couple of smudgy phone numbers on a cocktail napkin if anything.

I was excited the next day when I arrived promptly at 1 pm for my appointment to see the inside. I tried really hard not to be too excited, as there might still be something wrong with the place. It was hard to stay calm. It was again a gorgeous day, and I drove with my windows down, singing as loud and as off-key as I could. It was hard not to feel good. I pulled into the driveway and sent a little woodchuck scampering off into the woods. I got out, took a seat on the truck of my car, and waited.

And waited.

Look, a cardinal.


It sure is quiet out here. Nothing like in town.

Hmm, wonder where he is?

Guess I'll just sit on this stoop.

Hope he hasn't gotten into a car accident or anything.

Every pickup truck that passed by caused me to perk my head up and then slouch down again when it continued without stopping. Somehow, I just knew he was a pickup truck kind of guy. Several cars passed, and every single person waved at me. I wanted to be their new neighbor; they all seemed so nice. But no one stopped.

To demonstrate how badly I wanted to see the inside of this place, I waited an hour. I called his cell phone three times (noting that I did get limited cell phone reception out here) and left three very friendly, but confused messages. I still didn't want to get on his bad side. I took one last look through the window and headed back to town, deflated. I turned the radio up loud and tried to sing to improve my mood, but I just wasn't in the mood anymore. I thought of the different reasons he might not have shown. Maybe he forgot. Maybe he had seen me peeking through the window yesterday and decided I was too crazy to live there. Maybe he had already found a renter and was blowing me off.

I decided to just forget about it, and then promptly did not. I thought about it all the next week, until Thursday when I decided, just for kicks, to see if the ad was still in the paper. It was. Dare I call?

Oh yeah. I dare.

He apologized up and down. He had forgotten and said he had lost my number. That was crap, because I left my cell phone number on each of the three messages I had left for him in the hour I sat outside the apartment I could see but could not have. Whatever, just let me inside! We made yet another appointment, this time in just a few hours. I figured he wouldn't have time to forget. I even skipped class.

The drive was becoming familiar now, and I rejoiced as I saw a heavy-duty red pickup pull into one of the parking spaces next to the house. We shook hands and again he apologized. For a cheap two bedroom, I decided I could forgive him. Maybe now I had some leverage.

Inside, the kitchen and living area were just as nice as I had hoped. The two little bedrooms were very odd. They were perfectly square and had no closets. One of them was directly connected to the bathroom, which after sharing a bathroom with two or three other people, was delightful. They were odd, but clean and nice and nothing I couldn't handle. And if they were a little small, it didn't matter. After all, I had two of them. The only downside I saw was the shower. It was a stall, and I'm a fan of the bathtub. I had already rejected several places with shower stalls because the rest of the apartment hadn't been nice enough to make up for it. This one was.

I asked a few basic questions about utilities, if the roads were scraped, etc., etc., and so forth. I told him I was very impressed, but hadn't decided officially quite yet. I'm not big on making big decisions. I like to hesitate a while. I was as decided to live here as I was going to be until I was forced to decide. I gave him my references (he looked impressed), assured him that I had a job (thank goodness for the computer lab!), and said that my parents would be willing to co-sign the lease if that would make them feel more comfortable. He said he'd check on my references, which I doubted. I wouldn't put them down if I didn't think they would have good things to say. He just needed to know that there existed people who would say nice things about me without payment.

I was actually looking at ads for other places when he called the next day. I didn't want to snatch this place up too hastily, as if looking at apartments for the past four months would have been hasty. He said he'd had a lot of calls and wanted to know if I had decided. I thought he might be exaggerating on the number of calls, but I wanted the place anyway and signed myself up.

I've wanted to write this out so many times in the past week, but since the story didn't really end until Wednesday night, I waited. Last night I signed the lease, and last night the story was given a happy ending. I talked to the Hartleys for a long time about the price of progress and how good blueberries taste off the bushes, just because we're nice southern people and that's what we do.

And now I can write no more entries about apartment searching. It really was excellent literary fodder, and I didn't even write about half the weird stuff I could have written about. Despite my loss of quick and easy inspiration, I'm glad it's over, that I don't have to worry about having a place to live anymore. Not that I would have been out on the street, lugging around a futon and a desktop computer, but I would have faced a fate far worse than that.

Moving back into my parents' house.


five inches short.

The duplex was cheap, suspiciously so. And though through all this wild apartment chase I had secretly been hoping for a charming little place that cost $5.00 a month, I'd been through enough to know that cheap rent means something, and it's never something good. But I was curious, and more than a little part of me hoped that whatever was keeping the rent so cheap was an inconvenience I could live with.

I made an appointment to meet the guy at 12:30 last Thursday, and I was late. It was 12:37 when I pulled into the parking lot of Sagebrush, our scheduled meeting place. He waved me over and told me the place was unlocked and directions to get there. I pretended to listen. I knew where it was, because I had scoped it out the night before. I've never been the patient type. I was listening when he told me that if I paid rent by the first of the month, he'd reduce the rate by $20.

$300 a month for a two bedroom two miles outside of town. Something was definitely wrong.

So I guided my Toyota down the road, two miles out of town to the gravel driveway with the green duplex at the top. I let myself in, and took my first look. Still, I didn't know what was wrong. The living room was modest, but clean and not cramped by any means. There was a tilted ladder that led up to the loft where the bedrooms were, and beyond that the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen was cute, even had a little bar and a view of the woods. The appliances looked a little dated, but still nothing I hadn't already seen in apartments priced over $400 a month. The bathroom was surprisingly big, with lots of closet space and a full tub. I was already picturing where my stuff would go at this point.

Finally, I headed up the ladder to get a look at the two bedrooms. And I saw the problem. Rather, I ran my head smack into it. The ceilings upstairs were no more than five and a half feet above the floor. That's about five inches short of what I need to stand up straight. And I just started laughing.

Who built this thing? What were they thinking? Did the builders just miscalculate? I couldn't imagine what would possess someone to maim a house like this on purpose.

Despite the bedrooms apparently made for two of the seven dwarves, I gave the apartment serious thought. It was $300/month and that's dirt cheap. I thought about just living downstairs and using the upstairs for storage. Not that I could get much up there, considering it would have to go up a ladder. But still, I gave it a little thought. Just how much did standing erect mean to me? Sure, our neanderthal forefathers came a long way to develop those straight backs, but wasn't it just a little bit overrated?

And then I realized that I am not that poor, and I left that crazy place behind.



Originally written August 31, 2003

There were many people at the Cabaret that did not belong there. I should know, I was one of them. But no one succeeded in not belonging so well as David. He so completely did not fit in that he didn't even realize it.

David was a very nice man. A very strange and nice man. He talked to me about my life plan in very loud tones since it was hard to hear over the Cher remixes. I still don't really understand what he said, more because it made no actual sense than because of the music. But I smiled and nodded and laughed where I thought appropriate and he seemed satisfied that I was a very nice girl.

David was there with his girlfriend, who was there to see her son. Her son is a drag queen, a friend of Casey's and mine. We were all there to watch him shimmy in a pink fringe dress while he did lip sync. I wondered how I would feel about coming to see my son shimmy in a pink dress while he did lip sync. Not too well, I decided.

When the drag queens weren't shimmying, the masses were. Actually, the masses gyrated more than shimmied. I gyrated up there with them a little bit. A very little bit. I've determined that being able to succeed at dancing in a club is all a matter of confidence. I don't have that confidence, so I merely manage to succeed looking kinda goofy and out of place on the dance floor.

David liked to dance. His girlfriend told him he probably shouldn't dance, and we all found out the reason for that soon enough. Despite the warnings, David took to the floor, a middle-aged straight man moving erratically on the edge of the dance floor at the gay club.

Erratically is the right word here. David may have been dancing to music, but it wasn't music that was playing that night or even music that I had ever heard. His limbs were all dancing individually to something different. His right hand not only didn't know what the left was doing, it wasn't even too sure of its own movements.

Casey and I watched from the safe sidelines of our table like onlookers of a car wreck. Then Casey suggested that I go dance with David, saying that David had almost asked me to dance earlier. I think it was because I was the only female he knew who was willing to throw herself into the dark and strange pit that is the dance floor.

With a sigh, a deep deep sigh, I got up and headed back to the dance floor to dance with David, the very nice and strange man that did not dance well. Luckily, dancing with someone at a club basically means that you dance in that person's general vicinity, facing them. This I could handle. And I had to admit that I must have looked like the very image of excellent and confident club dancing next to him.

He was having such a good time. Maybe he knew he looked a little silly and maybe he didn't. He didn't seem to care either way. We danced that way for several songs (those stupid remixes go on for next to forever) before I pleaded fatigue and we sat back down. He thanked me, twice, for dancing with him.

I flatter myself by thinking that I made him happy, that he felt pretty good about having a young girl dancing with him. And I had a good time, too, just following his lead and letting myself have a good time without worrying about the confidence I wasn't exuding.

Maybe dancing isn't always about confidence. There are people with confidence who are still bad dancers, at which point confidence crosses into obnoxious arrogance for those of us watching on the sidelines. Sometimes, it's about oblivion.

And having a good partner.


battles with the demon mouse.

The first thing I noticed was that my monitor was showing my computer desktop. That fact alone is not unusual, as typically, that's what monitors are supposed to do. But this was right when I got home after being in the computer lab for a couple of hours. The monitor should have been off, as it's set to shut down after about twenty minutes of inactivity. Not only was it on, it had windows up of tasks I hadn't started. But most suspicious of all was the cursor.

It was moving. Independently of the mouse which supposedly controls it.

I stared, fascinated at the phenomena. My cursor was moving around the screen, checking boxes, clicking around at things that were not there. The movement was deliberate, the kind of movement you'd see with normal mouse use, not just random jerks here and there. I feared somehow that I had a Trojan horse on my computer, a program that allows someone to control the computer of someone else. I immediately tried to start my ant-virus and spyware detection programs, but found that every time I tried to select a program in the start menu, my possessed mouse would click somewhere else and I'd have to start all over again.

So I started trying to use the keyboard. Navigating with the keyboard is a lost art, and I was having a hard time finding it again. Even if I did manage to get something selected, again the mouse would click somewhere else and screw it all up. It was time to pull the plug.

Unplugging the mouse solved the problem of the moving and clicking I wasn't controlling, but it didn't make it any easier to start and manage programs using the keyboard. I tried to find the option where you can control the mouse cursor with the numeric keypad, but oddly enough, it wasn't under mouse options. (I later found it under "Accessability" with the assistance of someone else.)

Running the spyware and anti-virus programs revealed nothing. My computer was clean. Restarting the computer, the eternal answer to any computer problem, didn't help either. Plugging the mouse back in, but removing the batteries still gave me the same problem. I even changed the batteries. I was frustrated and confused. I thought of searching the web for some clue on how to exorcise a mouse, but navigating through a website with only the keyboard is a nightmare I did not want to endure.

Finally, I looked at my mouse, now lifeless beside me, and the solution came. My mouse has no tail, i.e. it's wireless. I have a sensor hooked up to the computer. What if someone close by had the same kind of mouse and was using it, but my sensor was also detecting it? It was a thought worth pondering. I pondered the fact that someone had just moved in upstairs as well.

I dug out my old mouse, my old, wired, non-optical mouse and plugged her in. It worked. No demon possession, no erratic movement, nothing but what I was doing. I both hated and loved this result, as it solved the problem, but meant going back to my old mouse. I figure I'll have to use it at least until I move, in which case whatever demon is controlling my wireless mouse will not be packed up in a box and moving with me. I considered trying to use it anyway, with the idea that whoever else had the other mouse would pick up my movement as well. Maybe I could make them back down by not letting them get anything down either. But then I looked at my WWJD bracelet and realized that there was no guarantee that sort of plan would work.

So now she sits on my desk, her double A entrails sticking out of her body. I miss her. I miss the freedom of using something that isn't on a leash.

What does not kill us makes us stronger.


inside my flannel shell.

The bed means warmth to me, and I think of myself as a turtle, with only my head sticking out of my shell made of flannel. My predators are cold and light, and they make me squeeze myself into a little ball, pulling as far as I can into my shell while still allowing myself to be able to breathe.

I remember one time waking up in the middle of the night and being freezing cold. I only had a light sheet and I could barely control my shivering. I knew the solution; to get up and get another blanket. But I was too cold, and I pictured the floor around my bed as a sheet of ice. I must've laid there shivering for half an hour before I finally got up. Turns out I had the flu.

But the bed is warmth, and I hate getting up from it. I hate getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (although the consequences of not getting up to use the bathroom far outweigh the advantages), and I always try to pull the covers over the bed so as to keep the heat in. I like to think it works.

The days I have to get up for something, I have my alarm set way before the actual time when I absolutely have to get up. I'll forego the shower, the breakfast, all for that extra eight minutes of warmth inside my flannel shell. And the days when I don't have to get up by any particular time? I'll wake up at some point, but stay in bed for a good while longer, just because it feels so good in there.

So I'm a turtle that stays in my shell not because the outside is scary, but just because it's so nice inside. I'm in my comfort zone, and I'm not ready to get out yet.

Just eight more minutes...


what kind of orange juice do you drink?

Tara calls us collect because she doesn't have any money. Instead she has a baby and a questionable relationship with the father of said baby. Apparently that takes most of her money and doesn't leave much for a long-distance service plan. She doesn't expect us to pick up the charges, so she calls us collect, we don't accept the charges, and then tell Ashley to call her back on her cell phone with expendable minutes.

Tara and Ashley were best friends in elementary school, before they were old enough to realize that they were destined for different lives, before they could distinguish between the social and economic classes, before it mattered who went to college and who didn't finish high school. And now they are still friends, because they have always been friends, and because they have nothing in common anymore, but don't want to not be friends.

It's depressing when Tara calls, because her news is never happy. It seems like she's always trying to work things out with her boyfriend, or the baby is sick, or who knows what else. She's a sad case, and Ashley is probably the only friend she has that isn't in the same sort of situation or worse.

I have had my share of Taras in my life, though I don't communicate with any of them now. Friendships like that kinda fizzled out when I hit middle school, when the classes that the rest of society knew about all along finally hit kids. It's not that we all suddenly started discriminating that we weren't going to be friends with certain people, but that we all fell into place naturally into social groups that we would stay in through high school, maybe through life.

My Tara wasn't Tara at all, but Alisha. I spent the night a few times with Alisha, and in the course of those sleepovers, I saw an 'R'-rated movie, set a bowl of paper on fire, and almost smoked my first cigarette before I chickened out. Alisha lived with her mother and grandmother, and her mother sometimes went out at night and wasn't home the next morning when we woke up. When we ate breakfast, Alisha offered me orange juice that turned out to be Sunny Delight (Ashley says that Tara's family's orange juice was also called Sunkist). Alisha wanted to be a hippie when she grew up. Things like this struck me as odd then, but they hit me now as obvious indications that a friendship like Alisha's and mine was doomed from the start.

We stopped being close in the sixth grade, and I doubt I ever even talked to her after then. At some point, I heard that her grandmother died, or maybe it was her mother; I don't remember. I remember wondering what she was going to do.

Actually, I did talk to her once, when she was my cashier at K-Mart. She may have called me by name, but we didn't say anything besides the regular communication between a cashier and a customer. Nothing that indicated we had ever been more than strangers, that we used to go to each other's birthday parties, that we'd talked about when we would get our periods, that we had once taken a bath together.

Thinking about Alisha depresses me. She was always pretty, and she wasn't a stupid girl, but by the time she was eleven, she was already doomed to her life. I didn't do anything special but be born into a different family, with two well-adjusted parents and orange juice that came from oranges. It was only a matter of circumstance that made her who she was and is and me who I was and am.

I don't even really meet people like Alisha anymore. I work with college students, and I go to school with them. Even if I did, would I have enough in common with them to be friends? Or is that something that goes with childhood, the ability to not know any better than to make friends with the people that you simply like, no matter what kind of orange juice they drink at home?


and it starts.

Wet, that's how. A first kiss should be sloppy and wet and awful, but hey, it's your first kiss, and you won't know it's any of those things until much later when you have kisses that aren't like that at all. For now, you think it's pretty cool that your lips are touching someone else's and they didn't seem to mind too much. It should be sweet and innocent but desperate because maybe you're fourteen years old and you're just sure your life is going to end at any minute. You have to live now, now before it's too late, now before you're old and have lots of responsibilities but no fun. Everything you do is an act of intensity, because you're still young, and things can still qualify as being the best thing ever. And you think this is passionate, when in fact it's just an overabundance of saliva.

And it has to start this way, this bumbling and messy way, because this is the only time you can kiss like a Saint Bernard and think it's pleasure. Later, you'll have plenty of time for the kinds of polished kisses that are given by the experienced to the experienced, maybe the sexy kind where you nibble on the lip a little. You have years of kissing ahead of you, years of actual passion without the drool, but it's best you start here.

Right here.


yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Now, I don't download music, because it's wrong, but if I did, this story would apply.

If I were the type to download music, I would use this particular program that allows me to browse the shared files of other users. I could click on a user name and then just go on a mini shopping spree thru their mp3s.

Regardless of my position on downloading music, I am proud of my legitimately obtained mp3 collection. I am always on the lookout for new music, new bands that I can enjoy and then gloat because the likes of you have never heard of them. That's what I do. I frequent indie music websites that let me in on the new greatest band that no one knows and then listen to the albums myself to decide whether they are worthy of a spot in my permanent collection and listening rotation or whether no one has heard of the band for a very good reason.

And I'm very proud of all this. I'm very proud of my own perceived hip-ness, and if I were the mp3-sharing type, I would peruse the files of others with the attitude that mine were better, and whoever it was whose files I was examining should actually be examining mine.

But it would happen more often than I would care to admit that I would come across a collection of someone else that would put me to shame in terms of bands so good that no one knows they exist. A collection of fifty to a hundred or more bands, and maybe I would have heard of two of them, and even those I would probably just have heard of them, but not actually listened to them.

And then I would be shamed and humbled, and renew my energy to read the indie music websites in their entirety until I know every great band ever. And then some poor sap would look through my collection and be ashamed that they are not nearly as cool as I am.

But since I don't pirate music, it's all really a moot point.


some unenchanted evening.

She remembered that one evening they were together.

Of course, she remembered many other evenings, too, the ones where they weren't together at all, where they could not possibly be more not together if they tried. Those evenings were before that one evening, and the reason they were so not together is because they didn't know they could even be together. After all, they hadn't met yet.

She had hoped, before that one evening, that whenever she did meet someone with whom she could be together, it would be in that some enchanted evening kind of way. You know, crowded room, stranger, some Italian guy singing loudly and romantically right in her ear maybe. She hoped that because she hadn't yet learned that movies and real life aren't the same, nor would anyone want them to be if they really knew what they were getting into. So she spent a lot of time in crowded rooms full of strangers.

Which led to that one evening they were together. She was in a crowded room, completely full of strangers. She didn't know a single soul there, especially not the single soul who took her purse. She knew immediately it had happened, but she was in a crowded room full of strangers, and there really wasn't much she could do.

And so she made her way down to the police station, not because they could actually do anything, but because it made her feel better than doing nothing at all. And the room in the police station was empty, because it was a holiday, which was why that other room had been so crowded. And it was just him, and it was the first time they decided to try being together after so long of being not together and not caring for it all that much.

They found the change to be much to their liking.


staying up past my bedtime.

I was thinking that I shouldn't write a completely basketball-related entry in the chances that such an essay would isolate the readers who were not fans of college hoops.

And then I thought, who cares about those people?

For those of you who are not keeping up, the NCAA tournament finals are tomorrow night, and it's Georgia Tech and UCONN. Tomorrow night is a big night. When I was a kid, it was the only school night where I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime, a privilege I took even when teams I did not care anything about were playing.

But this time, I'm rooting for the ramblin' wreck (that's Georgia Tech, guys, c'mon, let's keep up here), even though I have UCONN in the CS department pool. I'm only gambling for bragging rights, so fear not. Besides, our pool is a little different. You get to pick one team from each seed, meaning you get a #1, a #2, a #3, etc. And you get a point for every round 1 game one of your teams wins, 2 points for every round 2 game, and so on. I actually did quite well, especially considering it was my first year, but there's no way I can win now because the people with more points than me also have UCONN or in some cases, UCONN and Tech. So I can go ahead and root for the ACC team.

That's been one rough part of having teams to pull for for your own personal gain. You can't pull for all the underdogs that way. For instance, in the UAB/Kansas game, I had Kansas as one of my teams. But really, who can root against a #9 team that late in the dance? You gotta pull for the little guys, it's a rule.

The tournament as a whole has not been disappointing, with lots of the classic surprises that make March Madness the exciting thing it is. There have been the last second wins (and conversely, last second losses), big upsets, players that never get to play rising to the occasion, and injuries. Throw in a couple of muskets and it's starting to sound like a Civil War movie.

I was eating with my parents one evening last weekend, and Mama said it would be great if one year we could have an all-ACC final four. We all sat back, stared into space and thought about the great possibility. Then I said that while we were wishing for things, we might as well go for an all-North Carolina Final Four, with Duke, UNC, State, and Wake Forest. And that was truly a wonderful thought. Maybe someday.

So anyway, don't go calling me tomorrow evening, or you will be on the talkative end of a very one-sided conversation, if I pick up the phone at all. After all, I've got a date with a ramblin' wreck from Georgia Tech (and a helluva engineer)!*

*Note that I am using a form of an expletive, but that this particular one is permissable according to my mother, as it is part of an ACC team fight song.



:: writing prompt # 161 :: saturday, 6th march
Write a mini-story (100 to 250 words) that begins with: "They had nothing to say to each other."

They had nothing to say to each other.

The silences were of the long and awkward variety, like a blind date between two poorly-matched people. And that made no sense, because the two people sitting at the table knew each other well, so well in fact that they had nothing to say to each other.

It was more that they used to know each other well, several months ago. Then they had lots to say to each other, almost every day. But then because of one thing or another they hadn't been talking much. A jealous girlfriend being one thing, stubbornness being another. Not that either of those things were bad, it was just the way things happened sometimes.

But anyway, now they were here and they had the opportunity to talk. You'd think that with all those months of near-silence there would be plenty to talk about. But now their relationship was in limbo. Now they no longer knew each other well enough to talk for hours about the little incidents in their lives, but there were no happenings that seemed big enough to discuss either. And that left nothing to talk about.

And so they sat. And looked around at the paintings of local artists on the wall. Talked about things that didn't matter much for a little while and then sat some more.

Because they had nothing to say to each other.


the first of april.

The only real April Fools' joke I ever played was one I played by accident. Actually, it was never intended to be a prank at all, and it was only luck that it happened around this time of the year. Perhaps it was fate. And it started in church.

It started out as a teeny tiny joke, a little funny thing that was innocent and isolated. I was sitting during the Sunday service with my friend Laura. We were eleven years old. No, scratch that. I was eleven, she was ten. She was also gullible.

It started during the Prayer, denoted as a proper noun because it was the Prayer, the long one in the middle where the preacher tells God what we would all say if we went to school and learned to pray like professionals. It was a long prayer, and at that point in my life, I considered myself to be very grown-up if I managed to keep my eyes closed and my head bowed the whole time. Sometimes I tried harder than others.

I wasn't trying very hard this time. But Laura was, so I was bored. So I picked up a pen and scrawled out a message on the back of that day's bulletin. In my messiest handwriting, I wrote

My name is Jerri. I was murdered in 1937.

No, I don't know why. But when the prayer was all over, Laura stared at the message in awe because there were only two people in the pew, and I said I didn't do it. Laura's conclusion? There was a ghost, when the correct conclusion was that I was a dirty liar. We examined the note carefully as a sign from beyond the grave. The trouble was, I had done too good of a job with the messy handwriting bit. It took her about five minutes to figure out the word "murdered", and it was all I could do not to tell her what it said. After all, I was supposed to not know what it said, either. It was my finest performance.

When I wrote the message, I assumed Laura would take one look and call me out on it. Because, really. But then she didn't, and I couldn't let go of what turned out to be this great gag. And so I carried it further. I would take the pen cap and hide it when she wasn't looking, like in one of the shoes she had taken off because they made her feet hurt or in her gaping open coat pocket. And she bought it. Apparently, you gain a lot of insight between the ages of ten and eleven, and poor Laura was at a disadvantage.

And then it wasn't Sunday anymore, but Monday, because that's what comes next. And I did it at school, too. We had one class together, and I had a pre-written note that I snuck into Laura's pocket. God bless those gaping pockets.

A little side-plot here: Laura and I had been going to the school guidance counselor the previous week because we were worried about a friend of ours who had been smoking cigarettes. And we were going to see the counselor again that week, and Laura wanted to bring up the ghost issue. I argued against it, obviously because I foresaw my being caught as a result of this action. But my arguments were ineffective. The counselor, Mrs. Mackey I think her name was, took it all in very nicely without giving an inkling of her true feelings, which were probably that we were both idiots.

But our next meeting with the counselor, now that one happened to land on that magical date of April 1st. I swear I didn't plan it that way, but I suppose I haven't given very good reasons for you to believe anything I say here. We went to see Mrs. Mackey, and she gave us her very astute conclusions: that there were two people in the pew, and one of them didn't have the guile to pull off such a stunt.

I was trapped, and I didn't know how to come out of it gracefully. They were going to make me swear on the Bible, which to an eleven year old brought up in the Methodist Church, that is a terrifying thing indeed. And so, in a fit of giggles, I put my hand on the Bible and said "April Fools!"

And the April Fools' joke that wasn't even supposed to be one ended. Since it was such a fabulous success, and I wasn't even trying, I have since retired from the April Fools business. Just to be fair to everyone else.

Plus, Laura is twenty now, and I'm not sure if I could get away with anything.