Dear Reader,

Please excuse Sandra from posting regular journal entries until further notice. She has been suffering for several days from a lack of internet access due to the trauma of her recent change of address. We all hope that Sandra can resume her regular misuse of time via the internet very soon. She will continue to write using more traditional methods such as pencil and paper until she can once again connect to the rest of the world. Hopefully, her absence will be a short one, and will not be a hindrance to your daily happiness.
Thank you.

Sandra's Mother


2:32 am.

It's nights like this that I cannot sleep. I don't know how this night is different from any other night or how I am different from the way that I am on any other night. The only way I even know that this is one of those nights that I can't sleep is from the undeniable fact that I cannot sleep. No one can argue with evidence like that.

I blame my mind, my overactive, still awake mind. It thinks about things that have no relevance. It creates instances of other people and these instances, be it my mother, a random admirer of my work, or a future employer, all ask me questions. It's an interview where I pick the questions, and I pick them because I know the answers.

The answers are always thoughtful, amusing, provocative in all the right ways. I congratulate myself on my eloquence, then roll over and groan because of my eloquence and therefore consciousness.

Sometimes I think about you. What our kids will look like, how they'll play games with you and fall down and you'll make them stop crying and start laughing. I think about how they'll have your hair and my lips, your nose and my eyesight, your stubbornness and my stubbornness. I think about being in the North Carolina section of a local bookstore and seeing something I've written. I think about having enough money to buy Edy's ice cream all the time. I think about how cute we'll look when we're old, when we'll have been together so long we look alike. I think about winning a Nobel Prize, or at least one of my children doing it and letting me hold it for a while. I think about garlic mashed potatoes with lumps in them.

I think too much.

Eventually, I'll realize that I really need to sleep. Of course, I knew that all along, but sometimes it hits harder than others. And I start counting, because I'll never fall asleep thinking about you or books or mashed potatoes. Sometimes it's sheep, sometimes just numbers flash in my head because it seems more boring. Sometimes I get into the forties or fifties and forget where I was. Then I know it's working and I start back at 1. Sometimes I make it to a hundred, and I know it's not working and I start back at 1. Sometimes my mind wanders back to the other things somewhere past 25.

I try different positions side, side, back, stomach. Sometimes I take off my clothes one at a time. It seems to help, maybe because I feel constricted. First go the shorts, followed by the t-shirt and whatever in my own private strip-tease. It is the only strip-tease performed to make the audience fall asleep.

Between the counting and the positions and the stripping, I usually get to sleep. And then there are some nights, where I just end up unclothed and awake. I try not to think about the hours until I have to get up. That kind of counting never helps.

This is one of those nights.


messing up the story.

I took an Old Testament class a couple of years ago to fulfill my humanities requirement. I don't get to take a lot of humanities, on account of the fact that only four are required for my major and I'd like to graduate within a reasonable amount of time. And I love humanities, so I am not free and easy with the classes I take. I pick things I really want to take.

My idea was that this Old Testament class was going to be in-depth and very scholarly. We'd go through some books verse by verse almost, talking about what each part means, the historical significance, the present significance. And that is exactly what I had, on the one day another professor substituted for my regular professor. The rest of the class was a wash.

My professor took a different approach. Rather than cover less material more thoroughly, we covered a whole lot of material by just glancing over it. And I suppose that's a valid way of doing it, but it wasn't what I wanted.

My professor was a former prison chaplain named Mr. Herbert Hash. His middle initial might have been 'H' as well. He made a lot of bad jokes about his last name, including burnt hash, canned hash, and hash pipe. He made a lot of bad jokes in general. He was a part time professor, which is why he wasn't Dr. Hash.

Though the class was a disappointment to the Sandra that actually likes to learn, the lazy Sandra was quite satisfied in that the course was tremendously easy. And it wasn't too awfully boring, what with the bad jokes thrown in. However, Mr. Hash's annoying habit of stopping and looking around for a reaction after every bad joke bothered me. I prefer the more dry form of bad humor, like you didn't even notice you said something that is kinda funny but not really.

But the thing that bothered me the most about Mr. Hash was the way he treated the Bible. The Bible is a book of faith, and in believing some or all of it, one must take some leaps of faith. Fine. The Bible is something that has been translated and distorted over thousands of years and probably isn't as accurate as it used to be, say when it was written. Again, fine. I have no problem with either of those things. I have a problem with the way Mr. Hash handled them.

Whenever someone asked a question that sort of challenged something within the Old Testament, be it a method of God's or perhaps what seemed like an inconsistency of a story, the only think Mr. Hash would say was, "You're messing up the story." It was sort of a joke, but it was the only explanation he ever really gave for any question we asked. And it bugged me. That's the answer you give to a little kid who has figured out that Little Red Riding Hood probably would've caught on to that whole wolf in drag thing. The Bible is not some silly little book.

You know, I would have been fine if he had just said he didn't know. Or if he said he would do a little research on it and came back the next time with some theories he found. Or if maybe he had actually given the reading more thought than just figuring out his lesson plan and told us what occurred to him as the question was asked. Anything but this.

I guess I realize now that Mr. Hash was just a man of faith, but not necessarily a scholar. He definitely wasn't a bad guy, just not what I wanted in an Old Testament professor. I have to kind of wonder what kind of chaplain he was, particularly if he always treated the Bible like it was a children's story. I guess inmates don't ask challenging questions.

I even seriously considered taking the New Testament class and specifically getting the professor that substituted for Mr. Hash that one glorious day of learning about twenty verses in Genesis. But I didn't remember his name, and was afraid of having another bad experience. Besides, I didn't want to waste my humanities.



This is my disclaimer. I am afflicted with a terrible condition, commonly known as a poor memory. It's a very specialized condition, and only affects the portion of my brain that remembers the stories I've told, more specifically the people I've told them to. As a consequence of this, I often tell the same story to the same person multiple times.

I see it as a device of balance, that God gave it to me to keep me back a little bit after giving me so many other great gifts, such as stunning beauty, amazing intellect, and incredible modesty. God did this to me for the rest of you, like that old Vonnegut story, "Harrison Bergeron" (If you've not read it, perhaps you should. Not because you won't be able to keep up otherwise, but just because it's good). However, He also did it to the rest of you, because you're the ones who have to hear the same stories over and over, while I sit by and think that I am terribly clever.

God did it to me via my mother. I think perhaps the gene is somehow connected to the large thighs God also burdened the women of my family with. My mother has the condition, and I gotta tell you, it appears to only get worse with age. I will tell a repeated story to someone within a few weeks or months of the first telling. Mama tells it the second time within ten or fifteen minutes of the first. She does look awfully cute when she does it.

But this entry was not written for the purpose of telling how cute my mother is. It was written to warn you and apologize ahead of time if I sometimes post the same entry twice. Not that I go back in my archives and copy and paste the same entry, but that I write about the same incident or topic. The second telling may be somewhat different, but not much, because the writer is the same.

Anyway, that's your warning. It's no longer my fault if problems arise due to repeated readings of the same story, even if in different words. Blame it on my mother, or if you're really brave, God. But I wouldn't recommend that.


down with the letter 'i!'

I was thinking about Colyn today. No, that's a lie, and with a little html trickery, I could make it a bold-faced lie. I was thinking about Colyn a couple of days ago, but if I hadn't told you, you'd never be the wiser.

So anyway, Colyn's real name was Colin, but he changed it because 'y' is a much more rebellious and hip letter, I suppose. It was a trendy thing to do then. Down with the letter 'i!' I suppose it was nothing personal, just that the i-to-y change was the only one that could be made without changing the pronunciation of your name. Colyn was betrayed by the monogram on his L.L. Bean bookbag, where he had taken the trouble of unstitching the 'i' and writing 'y' in magic marker, but you could still see that stubborn lowercase 'i.' I think I even jokingly complained one day that I could not change my name because I have not even one letter 'i.' Colyn told me that I could just add an 's' or five to the front, and called me SSSSSandra from that day forward. I hated that.

Colyn was a fish ponder, one of a group of oddballs that hung around this fish pond that had no actual fish, but looked like it should. There were female fish ponders, and I think Colyn had a list of them somewhere where he would mark the girls off as he hit on them and was subsequently rejected. I could tell the day it was my turn, because he gave me extra attention, and at one point, he pat me on the head. I doubt I made too much of an effort to hide my grimace. Colyn was not the most hygienic person.

Somehow, Colyn got lucky one day, when he dared to hit on Joie. With long flowing hair and adorable freckles, Joie was a gorgeous and incredibly annoying trumpet player who made a lot of pirate noises around people who weren't in on the pirate noise joke. The only reason I can figure that Joie ever looked twice at Colyn was that she was trying to rebel herself. She didn't change a letter in her name, rather she re-invented herself as French and dated a weird angry guy. The first day, she introduced herself to me, and her name sounded like "Joey". The second day, she was suddenly someone else, a pronounciation I won't even try to reproduce here.

I can only assume Joie had ulterior motives for liking Colyn because I suppose I can't imagine someone like her actually, you know, liking him. I figure she just wanted to be someone else for a while and a summer away from home really is the perfect time for that kind of personal experimentation.

But while Colyn and Joie made out, thoroughly disgusting everyone else, another girl watched with envy. That would be Amber. She was a little strange, but the weirdest thing I ever saw her do was absolutely worship Colyn. She followed him around, did all these little favors for him, and was completely ignored in return.

I remember the day Colyn went into a rage, something about getting coffee for someone and then the someone didn't even stick around to receive said coffee. He overreacted. He yelled and screamed, ripped off his headphones and slammed his Discman to the ground in a symbolic gesture of his pain. I think the Discman turned out to be okay, but the impact of the slam broke the Tool CD inside. He picked up the Discman, threw the pieces of the CD down, and stomped off in righteous indignation.

The next day, that Tool CD was reincarnated as something else entirely. Amber had taken it, and using only a lighter and her love and inspiration, had created art. The CD was now a little statue, with the biggest piece being the base, and the rest kind of sticking up together like the teepee of a Native American who has had too much peyote. It really was pretty cool, if odd, and she gave it to Colyn like a little kid gives a homemade card to a Dad. Colyn kind of looked at it, and then just set it down. When he walked away later, he didn't carry it with him. It sat at the fish pond for the rest of the day. I don't know who finally picked it up.

I really don't know that Amber actually ever wanted to be with Colyn in a romantic relationship. I think she just wanted to be his friend. Whatever she wanted, she didn't get it, unless by chance she wanted his completely indifference.

But that's just what I was thinking about, today or a few days ago or whenever. I don't think about him too much, though the recollection of him calling me "SSSSSandra" and patting my head still gives me chills. I wonder what he's doing now, if he still hates God and his parents and people who don't stick around for their coffee. Whatever he's up to, I wish him luck, because he got on my nerves, but I certainly didn't hate him.

Unless he's reading this journal. I wish him no luck in that department. Otherwise, I am screwed.



See I had this date with this hot chick today. Let me tell you, she's quite the vixen. I've been seeing her every once a while, taking in dinner and a movie and sometimes a post-flick cup of joe. Nothing serious. Our relationship is real low-maintenance.

Hint: This is Sandra code for saying "I went out by myself tonight."

Some people cannot do this. Not go out with me, a lot of people cannot do that, for entirely different reasons. Some people cannot go out alone. Obviously, it's not a problem for me.

I used to do it a lot when I worked at the restaurant. I spent all day long talking to people, yapping all day long to strangers, so much that when I got home I didn't want to talk to anyone. So I took myself out, had someone wait on me for a change and then caught a film at the buck-fifty theatre.

These entirely self-involved and frivolous evenings of mine would not be possible without the buck-fifty theatre. The good thing about a theatre like that is that the movies don't have to be great. They just have to be a dollar and a half good, which is a whole lot less than seven dollars good.

And most of the time, I don't have to even jump in the Toyota to enjoy these evenings. The theatre? Two blocks away. My favorite coffeeshop? One block away. Four or five tasty restaurants geared toward the college budget? Three blocks away or less. One of the things I will miss most about this old apartment is the central location of downtown. Everything is just right here. Half a dozen times I've decided to take in a movie five minutes before the constant seven o'clock showing time, thrown on some shoes, put my hair up, and made it into a seat somewhere in the middle in time for the previews.

It's a pleasant way to spend two or three hours, being entertained and fed without having to say much more than "A medium vanilla latte. Decaf, please," because the evening is wearing on, and sometimes I do drink coffee for the taste and the warmth of it. Sometimes I bring a book or a notebook, but most of the time I just observe all the people, content to quietly take it all in.

I don't have to keep up any conversation, I don't have to impress anyone or be funny all the time, because the only person paying any attention is me, and I think I'm a riot. I don't even have to look all that good, just good enough to meet my own standards, and they're quite low. However, this evening, a gentleman in his thirties said to me in the coffeeshop, "Well, you're lovely," before stumbling off to continue his drunkenness elsewhere. I did shower before I came.
And she, my date, was lovely. The whole lovely evening was lovely. We should do it again sometime.


all the stuff.

From the looks of the place, you'd think we were starting a fruit stand.

That's from the boxes, of course, the many boxes stamped "Dole Bananas" obtained from the very nice lady in the produce department of Lowe's Foods. Mixed in with the banana boxes are boxes for hair products (Haircut 101), knives (Army/Navy Surplus), and lawnmowers (Lowe's Hardware). So either we're running a very bizarre kind of store here, or we're moving.

I guess you know the correct answer.

I'd forgotten how discouraging moving is. You pack and pack, pulling things off shelves and out of drawers, and the room doesn't look any different. It's like you didn't do a thing until that furniture is out. And so even though my room looks pretty much the same as it did before, I swear I've already taken carloads of stuff away.

Carloads. I have way too much stuff.

I don't even know what I have. We sorted out the kitchen stuff today, and held up pot after pan after plate, asking each other, "Is this yours?" Today I realized that I had three extra plates and two extra bowls that I didn't know were mine. (Incidently, I had been breaking the Tenth Commandment by coveting my roommate's plates for the past year, not realizing the whole time that they had been given to me by said roommate.) I found pots I hadn't seen since I bought them (or in some cases, found them in the dumpster). It was like Christmas in a year that Santa felt like emphasizing the domestic arts. We actually found an old George Foreman grill that we think belongs to Anna, whom we haven't lived with in two years.

I don't actually move for another week and a half. So I have the dilemma of trying to pack things that I won't need during the next week and a half. I shuttled over half my clothes, mostly winter things, and prayed that the Boone forecast would at least try to obey the seasons. I cleaned out my desk today. The only thing left in it are: one Sharpie, one pencil, one pen, a roll of tape, and a pair of scissors. I'll be living the minimalist life until next Wednesday.

Some stuff will never make it to the new place. The green couch has served me well, but it's time to move on to furniture without scratch marks all over it. Several white blouses held over from my waitressing days will go back into the thrift store cycle of life. A few things will move into a new apartment, but it'll be Ashley's or Krystal's instead of mine.

I'm not sure how I got so much stuff. That's a lie, I know exactly how. I got so much stuff by being the youngest of six children, by having five older siblings who are generous with the hand-me-downs. I got so much stuff by going to yard sales and thrift stores and seeing how little of my money would buy a thing that I didn't exactly need. I got so much stuff by never knowing when to let something go. So much stuff.

But it's okay. Because now I have more space, more places to put all this stuff. I have a brand new empty space to make mine by adorning it with my things until it screams "SANDRA!"

And scream it will.



The boredom was tangible. All my dreams of having nothing to do and no pressing deadlines came crashing to reality when I realized that I actually had nothing to do. There's only so much packing you can do two weeks before you move.

So I went on the thrift store circuit just to break the monotony of sitting around and watching TV. I headed down 105 to Foscoe to hit the two stores there, with no real aim other than to kill as much time as possible.

I passed by the Christian Church of Foscoe, where the sign read "Blood Drive Thurs May 13". And sure enough, there was a big bus in the parking lot that said "BLOODHOUND" in block red letters, solidifying my suspicion that today was the 13th. I filed the thought away as a possible way to kill a couple hours between 3 and 7 pm.

I got home and messaged Amy, because I knew she was bored and could be easily persuaded to do unpleasant but rewarding activities. And I was right.

So at 3:30, I pulled into the parking lot of the Christian Church of Foscoe with Amy sitting next to me. The church doors were right open, and the bloodmobile sitting by, running. We walked into the empty church.

Yeah, that's right. The empty one.

There was no one in sight. The doors were open, the lights were out, and not a soul or sign of the Red Cross was around. We walked back outside, looking confused.

It was then we realized the blood drive was actually on the bus. The BLOODHOUND. A blood bus. A driving food stand for vampires. Yeah, it was a weird idea.

Inside was an entire blood drive, down to the tiny canteen in the back. We started at the front of the bus on a tiny seat where we sat and read the book about mad cow disease and tattoos and living in Equatorial Guinea.

We were led into little booths where we sat down and had our blood pressure and pulse taken. Then we answered questions about mad cow disease and tattoos and living in Equatorial Guinea. Satisfied that our answers and therefore our bodily fluids, were acceptable, we were led to the main part of the bus, where the little beds were.

The little beds were orange, three on the right for left arms bleeders, two on the left for right arm bleeders. I thought this poor planning, as most people are right arm bleeders.

I'm a right arm bleeder. The lady, Nancy it was, asked to see my arms and I told her that. She wanted to look anyway, even though I told her that I wasn't even sure my left arm got any blood. After a little poking at my elbows, she seemed satisfied that I was a right arm bleeder.

I laid down on one of the orange beds on the left side and patiently sat and squeezed the little plastic thing they gave me while they coated the inside of my right elbow with iodine and some other brown cold fluid. And then it was time.

I hate this part.

I think Nancy could sense that I hated this part, because she told me to turn my head before the needle was even out. But I was afraid that I might be able to see the reflection of the needle going into my arm in the window of the BLOODHOUND, so I just shut my eyes tight.

I'm twenty-one years old, have had all my shots, have given blood half a dozen times, and I cannot watch a needle go into my body.

But then it was in and covered up and I could face the direction of my right arm again. Amy was a right arm bleeder, too, so she had to wait for the lady in front of me to finish before she could go. It was sitting there with a needle in my arm and a right arm bleeder waiting that I made my theories about the beds on the bus.

In theory, giving blood is easy. You sit there, you bleed. If they could just cut me a little and put a bucket under my arm, that would be different.

Actually, I was fine. I usually get faint or dizzy and have to call someone to point a fan towards me while I continue to allow my life fluids to drip out of me. But I drank a lot of water before I came, and the only discomfort I felt was the pressing need to urinate.

And then it was all over, and I sat in the canteen, or rather a seat in the back next to a counter with crackers on it, and waited while Amy went through it. And then I waited some more while she sat in the canteen. Finally, I waited one last time while Amy went back to the orange beds to lay down so she didn't pass out. I sat next to her and told her jokes.

While I waited, I read a chart or two about blood and blood donation. One of the charts stressed how important it was for people with type O blood to donate. I didn't mind the blood discrimination so much, as I am type O, but it did sound like they didn't want everyone else's blood. They don't even give anything besides O blood to newborns. I was feeling pretty proud of my blood and its life-saving possibilities then, as if I actually had anything to do with my blood type.

Nancy the efficient nurse lectured Amy about weighing herself with her clothes off. Apparently Nancy thought Amy was having problems with the blood donation process because Amy did not actually weigh the required 110 pounds. Whenever I almost pass out, they lecture me about drinking fluids. Those Red Cross people are jerks.

But anyway, we left the BLOODHOUND once Amy got to feeling like she could stand up without falling over, a pint of blood lighter. I took the bandaid off my finger (where they poke you to test your iron) just so I could type this out. I took my bright red bandage off my arm an hour before I was supposed to. But I do not intend to do any heavy lifting or work. I don't have to.

I have a doctor's note.


better than nothing.

It was more of a gathering.

The people I knew were ones I knew from way back, or at least as far back as high school which is as far back as I'm willing to go. The people I had seen around were science majors who shared a building with my major. And the people I had never seen before, well, they just stayed on the patio and smoked all night long.

I spent the night talking to the people I knew rather than turn the people I didn't know into ones I did. My friend talked to me in a scandalous whisper about his love life, or at least he thought he did. What with the volume level, he was really talking at more of a scandalous yell. No matter.

The gathering was at a log cabin, or at least the closest thing to it in suburbia. It was set back from the road with a field beside it where all the people with Jeeps parked. I parked in the driveway because I drive a sedan.

The log cabin had been remodeled to turn each of its floors into single apartments. The hosts of the gathering lived in the bottom half, and so the gathering was there also. I was not there long before I decided that I could not afford to live there. Everything was very nice and clean and modern, and had none of the trademark characteristics of cheap housing. In fact, there was only one quirk that I could see.

The kitchen had two dishwashers.

I asked one of the hosts about the double dishwasher situation, and he explained that putting in a dishwasher was cheaper than putting in extra cabinets. And so they kept the clean dishes in one washer and the dirty ones in another. And they rotated. I think I'd just rather have cabinets.

We left the log cabin with two dishwashers early, because everyone else was leaving and it seemed the thing to do. We left the same people as we arrived, because nothing had happened there; it wasn't even a party.

It was more of a gathering.


the start of a bad evening.

I'm not sure, at the beginning, what marks the start of a good evening versus a bad one. Do the good ones start with a particular sign, like someone invites you in for a drink and it's not too cold and not too hot but just right for a drink? Do the bad ones start with you wanting to go somewhere but can't for no good reason but a reason nonetheless?

She said the music was awful, like it was the music who made it chilly outside or the people bland and uninteresting or the dog pee on the carpet. The music was just one more thing. Just one more idiotic guy saying one more idiotic line that has some sort of clever overused rhyme in it that he heard on TV, just one more group of people that I don't belong in, just one more person begging me to loosen up.

I don't care to loosen up, thanks. I'm wound this tight because I want to be. Losing control is an escape for you and a fall for me, one long endless plummet into no one knows what. Bitter? Whatever. I'm as happy as I need to be.

Their voices blend together outside my window, one big happy tipsy voice growing into a drunken tumultuous roar. Inside my window is me, one somber sober voice that doesn't say anything at all.