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  string(4801) "These days I wonder about the sense of sending a 7-year-old alone to the liquor store to pick up a pack of Salem menthols, as this practice pretty much exemplified my upbringing. But in my parents' defense I have to say that maybe they were just products of the times. In the '60s there were probably as many sexual predators as there are now, but the difference is that today we have full media-detailed knowledge of their exploits. So today I literally will not let my own 7-year-old play in our fenced front yard unless I am right there to throw myself onto the hood of the car of an escaping kidnapping, child-molesting masturbator if need be. Now my girl is training in martial arts just in case, and when she is not practicing her stances, she is yelling at me to leave her alone.

But I just can't. I am a lot different from my own parents, who, when I was 7, I doubt could have located me even if they had a homing device. Unless, of course, they'd just dispatched me to the liquor store to restock their dwindling supply of cigarettes, in which case they knew to expect me back within a certain time frame. During the rest of the day they entrusted my big brother to look after me, as Jim was adept at instilling people with the idea that he was a capable caretaker. Take the time he responsibly assured my parents that he would escort my sisters and me to see Disney's Aristocats at the local Cineplex, only to herd us into Tales from the Crypt instead. Afterward I could not stop clutching my head, and I was 12 before I figured out that the human brain doesn't really bleed that much.

So maybe my brother had them thinking he kept an eye on us. He worked at a nearby tennis club, where the owner allowed him free reign of the courts in exchange for odd jobs around the clubhouse. Often my parents would drop my sisters and me off there for Jim to watch us, and Jim would promptly plant us by the pool and disappear, materializing intermittently after feeding the lunch money our mother had given to him for our sake into the vending machines that dispensed orange soda and a hard candy called "Charms."

But at least I already sort of knew how to swim, owing to how I had fallen into a different pool when I was 22 months old. I remember it even though you're not supposed to remember things from that early in your life, but experiences like that create permanent impressions. Like I remember how the sun cast a lovely mosaic of reflections underwater and how uncomfortable chlorinated water feels when you breath big bunches of it straight down into your lungs. Eventually my brother, after it became evident I wasn't going to resurface on my own, must have concluded that a dead baby sister would be problematic for him in the long run, and he dove in to retrieve me. So I guess there is that; at least my brother didn't let me finish dying when I was doing it right in from of him.

But I don't know how good Jim was in protecting me from predators during all the cigarette-fetching excursions I performed for my parents in grade school, seeing as how I was alone at the time. I used to walk across an abandoned field and then the length of an access road along the freeway to get to the liquor store, where they also sold other household essentials, such as Butterfingers and fried pies. I would stock up on these items as well, but it always seemed that my brother would intercept me before I got home and demand I turn the goods over to him, leaving me with nothing but the carton of cigarettes to deliver to my parents.

"Leave me alone!" I would yell at him, and he would retreat.

In all those excursions I only ran into two child-molesting masturbators that I can recall. One was the actual owner of the store, whose nickname became "Horny Pete" due to his habit of sitting behind the counter and taking an inordinately long time to tuck in his shirt. The other was a knife-wielding rapist biker, or at the very least he was a biker who had a pocket knife strapped to his boot, which the officer confiscated after he'd pulled him over for failing to signal. My brother, who had materialized from nowhere – he was always materializing from nowhere – had pointed the knife out to the officer after coming to ogle the encounter at my side. Whenever I recount this out loud it always ends with my breathtaking escape from rape and mutilation, and how self-sufficient I was as a 7-year-old alone.

So in the end I think a 7-year-old alone today faces generally the same dangers as a 7-year-old alone back then. And when my girl demands to be left alone, I just retreat to where she can't see me, to where she thinks she's alone, but she's not alone.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4851) "These days I wonder about the sense of sending a 7-year-old alone to the liquor store to pick up a pack of Salem menthols, as this practice pretty much exemplified my upbringing. But in my parents' defense I have to say that maybe they were just products of the times. In the '60s there were probably as many sexual predators as there are now, but the difference is that today we have full media-detailed knowledge of their exploits. So today I literally will not let my own 7-year-old play in our fenced front yard unless I am right there to throw myself onto the hood of the car of an escaping kidnapping, child-molesting masturbator if need be. Now my girl is training in martial arts just in case, and when she is not practicing her stances, she is yelling at me to leave her alone.

But I just can't. I am a lot different from my own parents, who, when I was 7, I doubt could have located me even if they had a homing device. Unless, of course, they'd just dispatched me to the liquor store to restock their dwindling supply of cigarettes, in which case they knew to expect me back within a certain time frame. During the rest of the day they entrusted my big brother to look after me, as Jim was adept at instilling people with the idea that he was a capable caretaker. Take the time he responsibly assured my parents that he would escort my sisters and me to see Disney's ''Aristocats'' at the local Cineplex, only to herd us into ''Tales from the Crypt'' instead. Afterward I could not stop clutching my head, and I was 12 before I figured out that the human brain doesn't really bleed that much.

So maybe my brother had them thinking he kept an eye on us. He worked at a nearby tennis club, where the owner allowed him free reign of the courts in exchange for odd jobs around the clubhouse. Often my parents would drop my sisters and me off there for Jim to watch us, and Jim would promptly plant us by the pool and disappear, materializing intermittently after feeding the lunch money our mother had given to him for our sake into the vending machines that dispensed orange soda and a hard candy called "Charms."

But at least I already sort of knew how to swim, owing to how I had fallen into a different pool when I was 22 months old. I remember it even though you're not supposed to remember things from that early in your life, but experiences like that create permanent impressions. Like I remember how the sun cast a lovely mosaic of reflections underwater and how uncomfortable chlorinated water feels when you breath big bunches of it straight down into your lungs. Eventually my brother, after it became evident I wasn't going to resurface on my own, must have concluded that a dead baby sister would be problematic for him in the long run, and he dove in to retrieve me. So I guess there is that; at least my brother didn't let me finish dying when I was doing it right in from of him.

__But I don't know__ how good Jim was in protecting me from predators during all the cigarette-fetching excursions I performed for my parents in grade school, seeing as how I was alone at the time. I used to walk across an abandoned field and then the length of an access road along the freeway to get to the liquor store, where they also sold other household essentials, such as Butterfingers and fried pies. I would stock up on these items as well, but it always seemed that my brother would intercept me before I got home and demand I turn the goods over to him, leaving me with nothing but the carton of cigarettes to deliver to my parents.

"Leave me alone!" I would yell at him, and he would retreat.

In all those excursions I only ran into two child-molesting masturbators that I can recall. One was the actual owner of the store, whose nickname became "Horny Pete" due to his habit of sitting behind the counter and taking an inordinately long time to tuck in his shirt. The other was a knife-wielding rapist biker, or at the very least he was a biker who had a pocket knife strapped to his boot, which the officer confiscated after he'd pulled him over for failing to signal. My brother, who had materialized from nowhere – he was always materializing from nowhere – had pointed the knife out to the officer after coming to ogle the encounter at my side. Whenever I recount this out loud it always ends with my breathtaking escape from rape and mutilation, and how self-sufficient I was as a 7-year-old alone.

So in the end I think a 7-year-old alone today faces generally the same dangers as a 7-year-old alone back then. And when my girl demands to be left alone, I just retreat to where she can't see me, to where she thinks she's alone, but she's not alone.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(5034) "    The art of protective lurking   2008-04-09T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - A 7-year-old alone   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-04-09T04:04:00+00:00  These days I wonder about the sense of sending a 7-year-old alone to the liquor store to pick up a pack of Salem menthols, as this practice pretty much exemplified my upbringing. But in my parents' defense I have to say that maybe they were just products of the times. In the '60s there were probably as many sexual predators as there are now, but the difference is that today we have full media-detailed knowledge of their exploits. So today I literally will not let my own 7-year-old play in our fenced front yard unless I am right there to throw myself onto the hood of the car of an escaping kidnapping, child-molesting masturbator if need be. Now my girl is training in martial arts just in case, and when she is not practicing her stances, she is yelling at me to leave her alone.

But I just can't. I am a lot different from my own parents, who, when I was 7, I doubt could have located me even if they had a homing device. Unless, of course, they'd just dispatched me to the liquor store to restock their dwindling supply of cigarettes, in which case they knew to expect me back within a certain time frame. During the rest of the day they entrusted my big brother to look after me, as Jim was adept at instilling people with the idea that he was a capable caretaker. Take the time he responsibly assured my parents that he would escort my sisters and me to see Disney's Aristocats at the local Cineplex, only to herd us into Tales from the Crypt instead. Afterward I could not stop clutching my head, and I was 12 before I figured out that the human brain doesn't really bleed that much.

So maybe my brother had them thinking he kept an eye on us. He worked at a nearby tennis club, where the owner allowed him free reign of the courts in exchange for odd jobs around the clubhouse. Often my parents would drop my sisters and me off there for Jim to watch us, and Jim would promptly plant us by the pool and disappear, materializing intermittently after feeding the lunch money our mother had given to him for our sake into the vending machines that dispensed orange soda and a hard candy called "Charms."

But at least I already sort of knew how to swim, owing to how I had fallen into a different pool when I was 22 months old. I remember it even though you're not supposed to remember things from that early in your life, but experiences like that create permanent impressions. Like I remember how the sun cast a lovely mosaic of reflections underwater and how uncomfortable chlorinated water feels when you breath big bunches of it straight down into your lungs. Eventually my brother, after it became evident I wasn't going to resurface on my own, must have concluded that a dead baby sister would be problematic for him in the long run, and he dove in to retrieve me. So I guess there is that; at least my brother didn't let me finish dying when I was doing it right in from of him.

But I don't know how good Jim was in protecting me from predators during all the cigarette-fetching excursions I performed for my parents in grade school, seeing as how I was alone at the time. I used to walk across an abandoned field and then the length of an access road along the freeway to get to the liquor store, where they also sold other household essentials, such as Butterfingers and fried pies. I would stock up on these items as well, but it always seemed that my brother would intercept me before I got home and demand I turn the goods over to him, leaving me with nothing but the carton of cigarettes to deliver to my parents.

"Leave me alone!" I would yell at him, and he would retreat.

In all those excursions I only ran into two child-molesting masturbators that I can recall. One was the actual owner of the store, whose nickname became "Horny Pete" due to his habit of sitting behind the counter and taking an inordinately long time to tuck in his shirt. The other was a knife-wielding rapist biker, or at the very least he was a biker who had a pocket knife strapped to his boot, which the officer confiscated after he'd pulled him over for failing to signal. My brother, who had materialized from nowhere – he was always materializing from nowhere – had pointed the knife out to the officer after coming to ogle the encounter at my side. Whenever I recount this out loud it always ends with my breathtaking escape from rape and mutilation, and how self-sufficient I was as a 7-year-old alone.

So in the end I think a 7-year-old alone today faces generally the same dangers as a 7-year-old alone back then. And when my girl demands to be left alone, I just retreat to where she can't see me, to where she thinks she's alone, but she's not alone.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13027056 1272903                          Moodswing - A 7-year-old alone "
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Moodswing

Wednesday April 9, 2008 12:04 am EDT
The art of protective lurking | more...
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  string(28) "Moodswing - Hollywood bodies"
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  string(4722) "Grant says he has to get his "Hollywood body" back, but I don't remember him ever having one. I've been to Hollywood with him plenty of times and he didn't look any different then than he does now. But he says everyone in Hollywood is beautiful, and you'd think he was exaggerating but he's not. Just the waitress who served us our eggs in the coffee shop attached to our motel was so pretty it was hard not to stare. She had big fake knockers that looked like they'd been built with the help of a bicycle pump, too, and that didn't help.

"Bitch," he said to me at the time, "you should get yourself a pair of those."

I would have slapped his huge head if I didn't know he was joking. Grant is aware that I am an opponent of the fake-tit militia, mainly because I'm too noncommittal for all the care and polishing that goes into a shiny new set of artificial boobs. But otherwise I am seriously considering getting my own Hollywood body back, ever since my hot-ass high-school boyfriend heard I was coming back to California and tracked me down to threaten to have sex with me once again. At present I can't bare the thought because the person I am now is so different from the 17-year-old girl he must be expecting to see that I'd rather just let him live with his memories than shatter them with reality.

"How did you two break up?" Grant asked.

"The usual," I said, and I don't have to say any more. Grant has seen it before, when someone wins you over by courting the qualities that distinguish you from all the others, only to immediately set about pasteurizing the very attributes that attracted them to you. In the end it's up to you to decide what to let go and what to keep.

But that was a long time ago, and Chris, my boyfriend from high school, says he wants to meet up with me when I go to Los Angeles next month. So maybe I should join rank with Grant, who is planning to embark on another of his "cleanses," which are periods during which he will, for example, drink only lemon juice and vegetable oil, or olive brine and bong water, or the reconstituted steam from a big pot of boiled car batteries or whatever. In the end Grant's purpose is to loosen his waistband and hopefully hallucinate as an added perk. Afterward he'll flit around like a moth exclaiming how great he looks and how good he feels and how easy it all was to accomplish.

Today Grant is ranting about the need for his Hollywood body because my third book, titled Trailer Trashed: My Dubious Attempts at Upward Mobility, is coming out in a few months, but beforehand my publisher is showcasing it at the Book Expo America in Los Angeles at the end of May. So of course I'll have to be there, and Grant of course will have to go with me, because Grant is nothing if not freakishly adept at horning in on any peripheral success. I remember when we were at the Warner Bros. Studios last year, where I'd been invited to discuss a TV series based on my previous books, which in turn were based on this column, and Grant had been sitting there right next to me for an astoundingly long time before someone finally inquired as to the purpose of his presence.

"Who are you?" they asked.

"Rasputin," he quipped, and we all laughed because it was funny, but to this day I don't know if it was a joke.

The ensuing negotiations were difficult for me because, for one, I know myself and I would have worked for free on this project if it were just left to me, but it was not just left to me. I had other bodies to consider, and I wouldn't sign anything that didn't ensure the participation of Grant and the other two people, Daniel and Lary, who comprise the gaggle of bottom fish who make up my cast of characters. Grant, for one, wanted to be a consultant on the series. "What does that mean for you?" my entertainment attorney kept asking him, to which Grant would respond at times specifically ("I want to design the font for the title sequence!") and other times vaguely ("I gotta make sure everything feels right.")

"And Lary, by the way," I'd interject, "doesn't need a salary, he just wants to blow things up."

In the end, a contract was drafted and a deal was closed and there turned out to be room for everybody as long as nobody was a hog about how much room they took, which is fine by me. After all, I know how it is with these Hollywood bodies. They win you over by courting the qualities that distinguish you from all the others, only to set about pasteurizing the very attributes that attracted them to you in the first place. In the end, it's up to you to decide what to let go and what to keep.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4772) "Grant says he has to get his "Hollywood body" back, but I don't remember him ever having one. I've been to Hollywood with him plenty of times and he didn't look any different then than he does now. But he says everyone in Hollywood is beautiful, and you'd think he was exaggerating but he's not. Just the waitress who served us our eggs in the coffee shop attached to our motel was so pretty it was hard not to stare. She had big fake knockers that looked like they'd been built with the help of a bicycle pump, too, and that didn't help.

"Bitch," he said to me at the time, "you should get yourself a pair of those."

I would have slapped his huge head if I didn't know he was joking. Grant is aware that I am an opponent of the fake-tit militia, mainly because I'm too noncommittal for all the care and polishing that goes into a shiny new set of artificial boobs. But otherwise I am seriously considering getting my own Hollywood body back, ever since my hot-ass high-school boyfriend heard I was coming back to California and tracked me down to threaten to have sex with me once again. At present I can't bare the thought because the person I am now is so different from the 17-year-old girl he must be expecting to see that I'd rather just let him live with his memories than shatter them with reality.

"How did you two break up?" Grant asked.

"The usual," I said, and I don't have to say any more. Grant has seen it before, when someone wins you over by courting the qualities that distinguish you from all the others, only to immediately set about pasteurizing the very attributes that attracted them to you. In the end it's up to you to decide what to let go and what to keep.

__But that was a long time ago__, and Chris, my boyfriend from high school, says he wants to meet up with me when I go to Los Angeles next month. So maybe I should join rank with Grant, who is planning to embark on another of his "cleanses," which are periods during which he will, for example, drink only lemon juice and vegetable oil, or olive brine and bong water, or the reconstituted steam from a big pot of boiled car batteries or whatever. In the end Grant's purpose is to loosen his waistband and hopefully hallucinate as an added perk. Afterward he'll flit around like a moth exclaiming how great he looks and how good he feels and how easy it all was to accomplish.

Today Grant is ranting about the need for his Hollywood body because my third book, titled ''Trailer Trashed: My Dubious Attempts at Upward Mobility'', is coming out in a few months, but beforehand my publisher is showcasing it at the Book Expo America in Los Angeles at the end of May. So of course I'll have to be there, and Grant of course will have to go with me, because Grant is nothing if not freakishly adept at horning in on any peripheral success. I remember when we were at the Warner Bros. Studios last year, where I'd been invited to discuss a TV series based on my previous books, which in turn were based on this column, and Grant had been sitting there right next to me for an astoundingly long time before someone finally inquired as to the purpose of his presence.

"Who ''are'' you?" they asked.

"Rasputin," he quipped, and we all laughed because it was funny, but to this day I don't know if it was a joke.

The ensuing negotiations were difficult for me because, for one, I know myself and I would have worked for free on this project if it were just left to me, but it was not just left to me. I had other bodies to consider, and I wouldn't sign anything that didn't ensure the participation of Grant and the other two people, Daniel and Lary, who comprise the gaggle of bottom fish who make up my cast of characters. Grant, for one, wanted to be a consultant on the series. "What does that mean for you?" my entertainment attorney kept asking him, to which Grant would respond at times specifically ("I want to design the font for the title sequence!") and other times vaguely ("I gotta make sure everything feels right.")

"And Lary, by the way," I'd interject, "doesn't need a salary, he just wants to blow things up."

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4953) "    What to let go and what to keep   2008-04-02T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Hollywood bodies   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-04-02T04:04:00+00:00  Grant says he has to get his "Hollywood body" back, but I don't remember him ever having one. I've been to Hollywood with him plenty of times and he didn't look any different then than he does now. But he says everyone in Hollywood is beautiful, and you'd think he was exaggerating but he's not. Just the waitress who served us our eggs in the coffee shop attached to our motel was so pretty it was hard not to stare. She had big fake knockers that looked like they'd been built with the help of a bicycle pump, too, and that didn't help.

"Bitch," he said to me at the time, "you should get yourself a pair of those."

I would have slapped his huge head if I didn't know he was joking. Grant is aware that I am an opponent of the fake-tit militia, mainly because I'm too noncommittal for all the care and polishing that goes into a shiny new set of artificial boobs. But otherwise I am seriously considering getting my own Hollywood body back, ever since my hot-ass high-school boyfriend heard I was coming back to California and tracked me down to threaten to have sex with me once again. At present I can't bare the thought because the person I am now is so different from the 17-year-old girl he must be expecting to see that I'd rather just let him live with his memories than shatter them with reality.

"How did you two break up?" Grant asked.

"The usual," I said, and I don't have to say any more. Grant has seen it before, when someone wins you over by courting the qualities that distinguish you from all the others, only to immediately set about pasteurizing the very attributes that attracted them to you. In the end it's up to you to decide what to let go and what to keep.

But that was a long time ago, and Chris, my boyfriend from high school, says he wants to meet up with me when I go to Los Angeles next month. So maybe I should join rank with Grant, who is planning to embark on another of his "cleanses," which are periods during which he will, for example, drink only lemon juice and vegetable oil, or olive brine and bong water, or the reconstituted steam from a big pot of boiled car batteries or whatever. In the end Grant's purpose is to loosen his waistband and hopefully hallucinate as an added perk. Afterward he'll flit around like a moth exclaiming how great he looks and how good he feels and how easy it all was to accomplish.

Today Grant is ranting about the need for his Hollywood body because my third book, titled Trailer Trashed: My Dubious Attempts at Upward Mobility, is coming out in a few months, but beforehand my publisher is showcasing it at the Book Expo America in Los Angeles at the end of May. So of course I'll have to be there, and Grant of course will have to go with me, because Grant is nothing if not freakishly adept at horning in on any peripheral success. I remember when we were at the Warner Bros. Studios last year, where I'd been invited to discuss a TV series based on my previous books, which in turn were based on this column, and Grant had been sitting there right next to me for an astoundingly long time before someone finally inquired as to the purpose of his presence.

"Who are you?" they asked.

"Rasputin," he quipped, and we all laughed because it was funny, but to this day I don't know if it was a joke.

The ensuing negotiations were difficult for me because, for one, I know myself and I would have worked for free on this project if it were just left to me, but it was not just left to me. I had other bodies to consider, and I wouldn't sign anything that didn't ensure the participation of Grant and the other two people, Daniel and Lary, who comprise the gaggle of bottom fish who make up my cast of characters. Grant, for one, wanted to be a consultant on the series. "What does that mean for you?" my entertainment attorney kept asking him, to which Grant would respond at times specifically ("I want to design the font for the title sequence!") and other times vaguely ("I gotta make sure everything feels right.")

"And Lary, by the way," I'd interject, "doesn't need a salary, he just wants to blow things up."

In the end, a contract was drafted and a deal was closed and there turned out to be room for everybody as long as nobody was a hog about how much room they took, which is fine by me. After all, I know how it is with these Hollywood bodies. They win you over by courting the qualities that distinguish you from all the others, only to set about pasteurizing the very attributes that attracted them to you in the first place. In the end, it's up to you to decide what to let go and what to keep.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026992 1272752                          Moodswing - Hollywood bodies "
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Moodswing

Wednesday April 2, 2008 12:04 am EDT
What to let go and what to keep | more...
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  string(4639) "The tornado missed my house by a few blocks, which upset Lary. I would have been surprised at his show of concern if not for the fact that I knew he wasn't concerned, he was just jealous. He was in New York City, way too far from the mayhem if you asked him, and he lamented missing the first tornado ever to hit downtown Atlanta. "Can you check my house for me to see if it got flattened?" he asked hopefully, believing that if he can't claim personal proximity to the disaster then at least maybe his property could have partaken by proxy.

"Check your house? I'm moving into your house," I told him, as electrical power had yet to be restored to my place. Lary's house is a fortress, after all, built from solid cinder block and rebar. Formerly an abandoned warehouse, it's probably the last original structure standing on his street. Its original purpose was to make and package candy and potato chips, but today it serves as a silo for all the outcrops of Lary's productive madness, including, but not limited to, a network of intricate scaffolding and that supply of autographed pictures of Jesus that Lary never got around to offering on eBay.

I have always said that Lary's fortress is the first place I'd run to in the event of a disaster, but here such an event has come and gone and I now realize there's really hardly any time to run anywhere. Me? When I heard the tornado, I ran to the window and stood there transfixed like an idiot, my cellphone to my ear, imploring the person on the other line to please take my daughter, who was spending the night down the street, into the basement. "It looks really bad," I kept saying, but I really should not have been looking at it at all. I should have been crouching in the bathtub surrounded by couch cushions and a mattress over my head.

But I kept waiting to see the tornado, figuring that I would run when I saw it coming. I never saw the tornado, though. All I saw was a big cloud of dust, and things flying by, and all the giant trees in my back yard swirling around like kelp at the bottom of an active ocean bed. "That was the tornado!" Lary groaned. "You were right there. You saw it and you didn't even know what you were looking at!"

Well, I guess all that says is that it's possible to miss something even if you're practically in the middle of it. I remember when I was a teenager in San Diego and a commercial jetliner crashed into the adjoining neighborhood, missing us by a few blocks then, too. All I can say is that that disaster looked exactly like it should have, but then I realized it had begun at a distance, as two planes had collided a mile overhead, and afterward it all just ended up nearby.

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Later that day, Lary called to tell me a 19-story construction crane had just collapsed in Manhattan, in the Upper East Side, destroying four entire buildings and killing seven people. It happened a few subway stops from where he was standing as he spoke to me. "I missed it by a half an hour!" Lary griped, exasperated that the really exciting disasters all seem to be eluding him of late.

"You didn't miss it. You're right there," I told him. "Go check it out and see if you can help or something," I said, confident that Lary's genius for creating destruction out of order could be inverted to creating order out of destruction.

But he was too close to it to understand what he was looking at. Ironically, he kept telling me he had made it his mission to be more aware lately. "This year in particular," he was saying. "Because things are happening all around us. Big changes are going to occur, all over the world. This is the year of things happening. I know it in my bones. I need to keep my eyes open. I don't want to miss it."

But it occurred to me then that neither of us missed the tornado – the tornado missed us. Lary didn't miss the collapsed crane – the collapsed crane missed him, and thank Jesus Christ for that, because Lary is right, there are things happening all around us. Big changes are occurring. But when are they not? The trick is to not stand at the window like an idiot, watching it all go by.

"Lary, you didn't miss it," I kept saying, "you're in the middle of it."

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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"Check your house? I'm ''moving into'' your house," I told him, as electrical power had yet to be restored to my place. Lary's house is a fortress, after all, built from solid cinder block and rebar. Formerly an abandoned warehouse, it's probably the last original structure standing on his street. Its original purpose was to make and package candy and potato chips, but today it serves as a silo for all the outcrops of Lary's productive madness, including, but not limited to, a network of intricate scaffolding and that supply of autographed pictures of Jesus that Lary never got around to offering on eBay.

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So I suppose that's what I was expecting with the tornado. I was expecting to see it coming from a distance in the shape of a funnel like the kind you see in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, only much bigger. After it was gone I found myself – kinda, in a weird way – regretting that I'd missed it, even though I was right there.

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"You didn't miss it. You're right there," I told him. "Go check it out and see if you can help or something," I said, confident that Lary's genius for creating destruction out of order could be inverted to creating order out of destruction.

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"Lary, you didn't miss it," I kept saying, "you're in the middle of it."

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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Well, I guess all that says is that it's possible to miss something even if you're practically in the middle of it. I remember when I was a teenager in San Diego and a commercial jetliner crashed into the adjoining neighborhood, missing us by a few blocks then, too. All I can say is that that disaster looked exactly like it should have, but then I realized it had begun at a distance, as two planes had collided a mile overhead, and afterward it all just ended up nearby.

So I suppose that's what I was expecting with the tornado. I was expecting to see it coming from a distance in the shape of a funnel like the kind you see in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, only much bigger. After it was gone I found myself – kinda, in a weird way – regretting that I'd missed it, even though I was right there.

Later that day, Lary called to tell me a 19-story construction crane had just collapsed in Manhattan, in the Upper East Side, destroying four entire buildings and killing seven people. It happened a few subway stops from where he was standing as he spoke to me. "I missed it by a half an hour!" Lary griped, exasperated that the really exciting disasters all seem to be eluding him of late.

"You didn't miss it. You're right there," I told him. "Go check it out and see if you can help or something," I said, confident that Lary's genius for creating destruction out of order could be inverted to creating order out of destruction.

But he was too close to it to understand what he was looking at. Ironically, he kept telling me he had made it his mission to be more aware lately. "This year in particular," he was saying. "Because things are happening all around us. Big changes are going to occur, all over the world. This is the year of things happening. I know it in my bones. I need to keep my eyes open. I don't want to miss it."

But it occurred to me then that neither of us missed the tornado – the tornado missed us. Lary didn't miss the collapsed crane – the collapsed crane missed him, and thank Jesus Christ for that, because Lary is right, there are things happening all around us. Big changes are occurring. But when are they not? The trick is to not stand at the window like an idiot, watching it all go by.

"Lary, you didn't miss it," I kept saying, "you're in the middle of it."

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026956 1272687                          Moodswing - The year of things happening "
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Moodswing

Wednesday March 26, 2008 12:04 am EDT
Right in the middle of it | more...

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  string(4634) "My friend Annie wants to know if I can come cake sitting with her on Saturday.

"What the hell is cake sitting?" I asked, because it sounds interesting, seeing as how cake is my favorite food. I would not have even asked usually, because Saturday is Mae Day, which are days I designate to devote to my daughter to make up for the mother guilt I feel for working to provide for her, but then cake sitting sounds like something Mae might want to do, too.

"Every year everyone brings their own cake and they sit on it at the same time. My question is do I wear underwear or not?" Annie explains, as though that is any explanation. "I'm serious," she continues. "Last year I had a cake all ready but then I fell asleep reading to Hannah and missed everything."

It turns out that a local art gallery hosts an annual fundraiser that literally invites people to bring a cake and sit on it. Evidently a lot of effort goes into the production of some of these cakes, too. Bucket loads of frosting are sculpted into elaborate themes only to end up plastered to someone's ass for the evening. The event doesn't start late at night by any standard Annie and I used to have when we first met years ago, but now we are both daughter-laden and not only that, but our daughters are at the age where they won't go to bed unless you pretend to go with them. But the funny part is, and this is a joke played on all parents, is that you think you're "pretending" to go to sleep at 9 o'clock when really there's no pretense about it. You're out like a sack of cement by the second paragraph of the bedtime story.

It's ironic, too, because what I feared the most about impending motherhood was the lack of sleep I thought it promised. To me the prospect brought back the nightmare of my college years, when I had to forgo my cocaine habit to afford tuition – another irony, since that particular drug would have come in handy while I was cramming for finals, but it turns out you can only fit so many habits into your day.

For example, not only did I give up cocaine to afford college, I gave up my job waiting tables, too, which up until then had availed me of all that ready cash to finance my drugs-and-unemployed-boyfriend phase. Fortunately that phase didn't last all that long. Soon I was seriously pursuing a degree and financing my tuition by, I swear to God, decorating cakes.

It's true. Cake decorating happens to be a curious talent I discovered one Christmas when I was 9 and I received a cake pan in the shape of Mickey Mouse. What I created was such a wonder to behold that rolls of expensive camera film were devoted to recording it for posterity. My dad took the photos to his favorite bar and before I knew it I was filling orders and keeping tubs of colored frosting in the fridge like I'd seen our local baker do when I used to sit and watch him through his shop-front window. Before long I had a hefty plaster piggy bank full of coins for my efforts, which I used to buy my own Marlboros once my cigarette habit got so prolific my father started to notice the packs I was stealing from his own supply. Eventually I quit the smoking but not the cake decorating. Addictions take a lot of commitment, I learned, and like I said, there's only so many habits you can fit into your day.

Today Annie and I laugh about how we used to like our margaritas strong and by the pitcher-load, and how a not-so-late-night cake-sitting event would have been effortless to attend. "It starts at 10:30," she reminds me.

"I can't make it," I say. Not that I have anything against cakes, or even sitting on them for that matter. On the contrary, I found that cake-making is a cheap-ass way to keep kids entertained, and I have an entire cabinet in my kitchen devoted to cake-making supplies as I speak, and tubs of colored frosting in my fridge again, too. Every time Mae has a friend over I let them loose in the kitchen and send them home with cupcakes in a box and dried batter in their hair.

"Fine," Annie says, "there are two kinds of mothers; those who make cakes and those who sit on them."

I have to laugh at that, because there are not two kinds of mothers. There are millions and millions of kinds of mothers, most of them having traded bad habits for good. I am the kind who is now asleep like a sack of cement by 10:30, due to a certain addiction to bedtime stories. Even though it's not my personal addiction, it still takes a lot of commitment, and there's only so many habits you can fit into your day.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4680) "My friend Annie wants to know if I can come cake sitting with her on Saturday.

"What the hell is cake sitting?" I asked, because it sounds interesting, seeing as how cake is my favorite food. I would not have even asked usually, because Saturday is Mae Day, which are days I designate to devote to my daughter to make up for the mother guilt I feel for working to provide for her, but then cake sitting sounds like something Mae might want to do, too.

"Every year everyone brings their own cake and they sit on it at the same time. My question is do I wear underwear or not?" Annie explains, as though that is any explanation. "I'm serious," she continues. "Last year I had a cake all ready but then I fell asleep reading to Hannah and missed everything."

It turns out that a local art gallery hosts an annual fundraiser that literally invites people to bring a cake and sit on it. Evidently a lot of effort goes into the production of some of these cakes, too. Bucket loads of frosting are sculpted into elaborate themes only to end up plastered to someone's ass for the evening. The event doesn't start late at night by any standard Annie and I used to have when we first met years ago, but now we are both daughter-laden and not only that, but our daughters are at the age where they won't go to bed unless you pretend to go with them. But the funny part is, and this is a joke played on all parents, is that you think you're "pretending" to go to sleep at 9 o'clock when really there's no pretense about it. You're out like a sack of cement by the second paragraph of the bedtime story.

It's ironic, too, because what I feared the most about impending motherhood was the ''lack'' of sleep I thought it promised. To me the prospect brought back the nightmare of my college years, when I had to forgo my cocaine habit to afford tuition – another irony, since that particular drug would have come in handy while I was cramming for finals, but it turns out you can only fit so many habits into your day.

For example, not only did I give up cocaine to afford college, I gave up my job waiting tables, too, which up until then had availed me of all that ready cash to finance my drugs-and-unemployed-boyfriend phase. Fortunately that phase didn't last all that long. Soon I was seriously pursuing a degree and financing my tuition by, I swear to God, decorating cakes.

__It's true__. Cake decorating happens to be a curious talent I discovered one Christmas when I was 9 and I received a cake pan in the shape of Mickey Mouse. What I created was such a wonder to behold that rolls of expensive camera film were devoted to recording it for posterity. My dad took the photos to his favorite bar and before I knew it I was filling orders and keeping tubs of colored frosting in the fridge like I'd seen our local baker do when I used to sit and watch him through his shop-front window. Before long I had a hefty plaster piggy bank full of coins for my efforts, which I used to buy my own Marlboros once my cigarette habit got so prolific my father started to notice the packs I was stealing from his own supply. Eventually I quit the smoking but not the cake decorating. Addictions take a lot of commitment, I learned, and like I said, there's only so many habits you can fit into your day.

Today Annie and I laugh about how we used to like our margaritas strong and by the pitcher-load, and how a not-so-late-night cake-sitting event would have been effortless to attend. "It starts at 10:30," she reminds me.

"I can't make it," I say. Not that I have anything against cakes, or even sitting on them for that matter. On the contrary, I found that cake-making is a cheap-ass way to keep kids entertained, and I have an entire cabinet in my kitchen devoted to cake-making supplies as I speak, and tubs of colored frosting in my fridge again, too. Every time Mae has a friend over I let them loose in the kitchen and send them home with cupcakes in a box and dried batter in their hair.

"Fine," Annie says, "there are two kinds of mothers; those who make cakes and those who sit on them."

I have to laugh at that, because there are not two kinds of mothers. There are millions and millions of kinds of mothers, most of them having traded bad habits for good. I am the kind who is now asleep like a sack of cement by 10:30, due to a certain addiction to bedtime stories. Even though it's not my personal addiction, it still takes a lot of commitment, and there's only so many habits you can fit into your day.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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"What the hell is cake sitting?" I asked, because it sounds interesting, seeing as how cake is my favorite food. I would not have even asked usually, because Saturday is Mae Day, which are days I designate to devote to my daughter to make up for the mother guilt I feel for working to provide for her, but then cake sitting sounds like something Mae might want to do, too.

"Every year everyone brings their own cake and they sit on it at the same time. My question is do I wear underwear or not?" Annie explains, as though that is any explanation. "I'm serious," she continues. "Last year I had a cake all ready but then I fell asleep reading to Hannah and missed everything."

It turns out that a local art gallery hosts an annual fundraiser that literally invites people to bring a cake and sit on it. Evidently a lot of effort goes into the production of some of these cakes, too. Bucket loads of frosting are sculpted into elaborate themes only to end up plastered to someone's ass for the evening. The event doesn't start late at night by any standard Annie and I used to have when we first met years ago, but now we are both daughter-laden and not only that, but our daughters are at the age where they won't go to bed unless you pretend to go with them. But the funny part is, and this is a joke played on all parents, is that you think you're "pretending" to go to sleep at 9 o'clock when really there's no pretense about it. You're out like a sack of cement by the second paragraph of the bedtime story.

It's ironic, too, because what I feared the most about impending motherhood was the lack of sleep I thought it promised. To me the prospect brought back the nightmare of my college years, when I had to forgo my cocaine habit to afford tuition – another irony, since that particular drug would have come in handy while I was cramming for finals, but it turns out you can only fit so many habits into your day.

For example, not only did I give up cocaine to afford college, I gave up my job waiting tables, too, which up until then had availed me of all that ready cash to finance my drugs-and-unemployed-boyfriend phase. Fortunately that phase didn't last all that long. Soon I was seriously pursuing a degree and financing my tuition by, I swear to God, decorating cakes.

It's true. Cake decorating happens to be a curious talent I discovered one Christmas when I was 9 and I received a cake pan in the shape of Mickey Mouse. What I created was such a wonder to behold that rolls of expensive camera film were devoted to recording it for posterity. My dad took the photos to his favorite bar and before I knew it I was filling orders and keeping tubs of colored frosting in the fridge like I'd seen our local baker do when I used to sit and watch him through his shop-front window. Before long I had a hefty plaster piggy bank full of coins for my efforts, which I used to buy my own Marlboros once my cigarette habit got so prolific my father started to notice the packs I was stealing from his own supply. Eventually I quit the smoking but not the cake decorating. Addictions take a lot of commitment, I learned, and like I said, there's only so many habits you can fit into your day.

Today Annie and I laugh about how we used to like our margaritas strong and by the pitcher-load, and how a not-so-late-night cake-sitting event would have been effortless to attend. "It starts at 10:30," she reminds me.

"I can't make it," I say. Not that I have anything against cakes, or even sitting on them for that matter. On the contrary, I found that cake-making is a cheap-ass way to keep kids entertained, and I have an entire cabinet in my kitchen devoted to cake-making supplies as I speak, and tubs of colored frosting in my fridge again, too. Every time Mae has a friend over I let them loose in the kitchen and send them home with cupcakes in a box and dried batter in their hair.

"Fine," Annie says, "there are two kinds of mothers; those who make cakes and those who sit on them."

I have to laugh at that, because there are not two kinds of mothers. There are millions and millions of kinds of mothers, most of them having traded bad habits for good. I am the kind who is now asleep like a sack of cement by 10:30, due to a certain addiction to bedtime stories. Even though it's not my personal addiction, it still takes a lot of commitment, and there's only so many habits you can fit into your day.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026911 1272596                          Moodswing - Cake sitting "
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Moodswing

Wednesday March 19, 2008 12:04 am EDT
Trading addictions for habits | more...
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  string(4826) "In my head I had it rationalized as to how it made perfect sense that I worked for the airlines even though I was terrified to fly. It helped, too, that in the years I had the job I discovered I was not the only flight attendant afraid to fly. There were lots of us up there faking like everything was fine as we passed out Cokes three miles in the sky. The only difference is that I dropped the act around my co-workers after I figured out I couldn't get fired for my fears as long as I was fairly reliable about showing up to face them. So when I boarded the plane for work, the other crew members were happy to let me sit in one of the jumpseats that ensured my back would be to the cabin so the passengers couldn't see the panic in my face as the plane ascended.

Because, Lord, did I hate takeoffs. I hated landings, too, but takeoffs mostly. In fact, if you were to list the things about airplane travel that terrified me the most in the order of their terrify-ability, it would be takeoffs, bad turbulence and landings. And the worst, the absolute worst, was bad turbulence during takeoffs and landings. I remember once when we were trying to land in Dublin, the plane was being tossed around and pounded so much it felt like we were all seated inside a giant plaything for a big, drunk baby. I am proud to say I was the only flight attendant not screaming in the aft cabin on that occasion. I can't explain why I didn't scream like the others except to say that maybe I felt obliged, as the senior phobic among us, to keep a sense of decorum as the others entered my world.

Still though, it made perfect sense to me that I became a flight attendant. After all, I inherited wanderlust from my father, who roamed the country hawking trailers during his intermittent periods of employment. In between those periods he would describe his travels to me in such loving detail that I'd dream of a livelihood that included travel as well.

Then, when I was 16, I fell madly in love with the bag boy at our local grocery store, who returned my affections up until the precise moment they interfered with his plans to live across the globe on a beach under a lean-to and surf for the rest of his life. He made good on his plans, leaving me behind like a little cloud of spent exhaust. I never really recovered from being considered too unworldly to accompany him, and I think that's when I made it my mission to become the kind of girl he'd consider worthy. I literally spent years daydreaming about running into him during my world travels. The most popular daydream was when I'd happen upon him in a strange country just as the police were about to drag him to the hoosegow because of a misunderstanding that only I could correct, because by then, of course, I'd be multilingual.

So then I became a world traveler and a qualified language interpreter, only instead of embarking on my adventures in a trailer like my dad, I did it in an aircraft, because what is an L1011 but a big Winnebago with wings, right? Those glorious Silver Streaks my father sold were famously fashioned by aeronautic engineers in homage to an airplane fuselage, after all, so it makes perfect sense.

Except for, you know, the terror. I never really got past that. Because I still can't fathom how a structure that outweighs an office building stays up in the air, no matter how many times pilots patiently explained it to me. For one, the explanation always entailed the necessity for a huge amount of speed, which is not comforting combined with the heaviness of us all.

"Just think of it as a bumpy road," the pilots would say to me during bad turbulence. But air is not a road. For one, roads take time to traverse, whereas air travel is accomplished in an eyeblink by comparison. I still sometimes gawk at the passengers as they situate themselves for a flight overseas, with their neck pillows, earplugs and eye masks, ready to encase themselves in a cocoon of sensory deprivation for eight hours, after which the door will open to an entirely different part of the globe. I found myself watching this and wondering why everyone wouldn't just stay home. At least there they'd experience their surroundings. It made no sense to me at all to embark on an adventure only to pasteurize the voyage out of it. At least on the road, you get to experience the journey. Then the day came when I overheard a co-worker tell a complaining passenger that the 10-minute delay we'd accumulated as we crossed the country "sure beat travel by covered wagon." I left the job soon after that, because it made perfect sense to leave an airline job when travel by covered wagon actually did begin to sound a ton better by comparison.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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Then, when I was 16, I fell madly in love with the bag boy at our local grocery store, who returned my affections up until the precise moment they interfered with his plans to live across the globe on a beach under a lean-to and surf for the rest of his life. He made good on his plans, leaving me behind like a little cloud of spent exhaust. I never really recovered from being considered too unworldly to accompany him, and I think that's when I made it my mission to become the kind of girl he'd consider worthy. I literally spent years daydreaming about running into him during my world travels. The most popular daydream was when I'd happen upon him in a strange country just as the police were about to drag him to the hoosegow because of a misunderstanding that only I could correct, because by then, of course, I'd be multilingual.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(5034) "    Fear of flying   2008-03-12T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Perfect sense   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-03-12T04:04:00+00:00  In my head I had it rationalized as to how it made perfect sense that I worked for the airlines even though I was terrified to fly. It helped, too, that in the years I had the job I discovered I was not the only flight attendant afraid to fly. There were lots of us up there faking like everything was fine as we passed out Cokes three miles in the sky. The only difference is that I dropped the act around my co-workers after I figured out I couldn't get fired for my fears as long as I was fairly reliable about showing up to face them. So when I boarded the plane for work, the other crew members were happy to let me sit in one of the jumpseats that ensured my back would be to the cabin so the passengers couldn't see the panic in my face as the plane ascended.

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Still though, it made perfect sense to me that I became a flight attendant. After all, I inherited wanderlust from my father, who roamed the country hawking trailers during his intermittent periods of employment. In between those periods he would describe his travels to me in such loving detail that I'd dream of a livelihood that included travel as well.

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So then I became a world traveler and a qualified language interpreter, only instead of embarking on my adventures in a trailer like my dad, I did it in an aircraft, because what is an L1011 but a big Winnebago with wings, right? Those glorious Silver Streaks my father sold were famously fashioned by aeronautic engineers in homage to an airplane fuselage, after all, so it makes perfect sense.

Except for, you know, the terror. I never really got past that. Because I still can't fathom how a structure that outweighs an office building stays up in the air, no matter how many times pilots patiently explained it to me. For one, the explanation always entailed the necessity for a huge amount of speed, which is not comforting combined with the heaviness of us all.

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Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026869 1272506                          Moodswing - Perfect sense "
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Moodswing

Wednesday March 12, 2008 12:04 am EDT
Fear of flying | more...
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  string(4763) "Grant just got back from Florida, where I guess he is from, but that's always been a little hard for me to believe. I lived in Florida myself once. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from that time, like when I used to set fire to underbrush in all the undeveloped lots on our block, or when, at 11, I reached the pinnacle of my pack-a-day cigarette habit, or even my foray into marijuana use a few years earlier. Those were some good times, which causes me to think that Florida is full of certain types of people — cigarette- and pot-huffing amateur arsonist types of people — and Grant is nothing like that.

For one, Grant is way too fastidious. The Florida guys I knew were surfer boys in swim trunks with sun-dappled streaks in their long hair. And they were barefoot. That is a big detail, because I know for a fact that Grant has 67 pairs of shoes. He has whole closets in his house that are devoted to nothing but shoes, and each day he'd wear each pair in an endless shoe-parade succession if he could. Even back when he moved to that island off the coast of Mexico in that big fanfare of faux retirement that lasted all of six months, during which he was supposed to have lived the rest of his life on the sand like a big hairy horseshoe crab, he somehow managed to cover his feet in designer sandals and his face in $300 La Prairie moisturizer.

And like I said, in six months he was back here in the city, using his grown daughter as an excuse to return, even though today that same daughter now lives on that same island Grant escaped to (and then from) all those years ago. So I guess all this says is that Grant likes the beach like any of us like the beach, but there is just too much city in him for me to believe he's from Florida.

Daniel, for example, is from a tiny town in Texas located a frog-spit distance from the Mexican border. And even though Daniel wears designer sandals, too, there is still a certain sweetness to his countenance that makes it believable that his father is an avocado farmer and his mother is a Wal-Mart greeter who sends him things like "The Famous Limited-Edition WilliRaye 'Boy Bunny with Backpack' Figurine!" That's right, and when I look at Daniel, even though he now lives in a beautifully preserved midcentury modern California split-level ranch with bamboo flooring and a built-in espresso maker, I can still see him sitting under the pomegranate tree in his aunt's back yard as a boy, barefoot in overalls next to his brother, feasting on fresh fruit while the big metal head of an oil drill seesaws in the background.

Grant, though, I can't see him fishing off the end of a pier like people born and raised in Florida are bound to do before they leave to make their way in other parts of the world. That's what I did when I lived there, and I wasn't even born there. I just landed there literally out of the sky when I was 11. We lived in a neighborhood that was hardly bigger than a sliver of land between the river and the ocean. It could barely stay above water during a downpour, but I loved that place. To this day, if I could, I'd pitch a tent at the end of the dilapidated wooden pier and live there like a troll until the end of my days, catching blowfish as I did as a child, letting them puff up like a crusty party balloon before extracting the hook and throwing them back in.

But in my case I can't go back because I have no family remaining there, whereas Grant has to go back because most of his family is still there, especially his father, who's had four toes taken off his feet due to diabetes, causing Grant to fret that major organs will soon follow suit. And let's not forget Grant's mother, who, in her 70s, adopted a full-grown Newfoundler dog, which is the size and weight of an average silverback gorilla and yanks Grant's little mother along on its leash like a tin can tied to the bumper of a newlywed's limo. Even though her bones have been broken and her arms are now so bruised and scabby they look like they've been covered in topography maps of the Rocky Mountains, the thing that irks Grant the most about his mother these days is that she let the dog take over the house, which is now, to hear him tell it, practically encased in a giant dried cocoon of piss and crap.

"When I was a kid she covered the couch in plastic and wouldn't let us into the living room!" Grant gripes, and I have to laugh, because this is his family. They are his water and he is their fish, and no matter how hard he tries to separate himself from Florida – no matter how many time he extracts the hook – he will always get thrown back in.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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Grant, though, I can't see him fishing off the end of a pier like people born and raised in Florida are bound to do before they leave to make their way in other parts of the world. That's what I did when I lived there, and I wasn't even born there. I just landed there literally out of the sky when I was 11. We lived in a neighborhood that was hardly bigger than a sliver of land between the river and the ocean. It could barely stay above water during a downpour, but I loved that place. To this day, if I could, I'd pitch a tent at the end of the dilapidated wooden pier and live there like a troll until the end of my days, catching blowfish as I did as a child, letting them puff up like a crusty party balloon before extracting the hook and throwing them back in.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4977) "    Fish in and out of water   2008-03-05T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Florida boy   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-03-05T05:04:00+00:00  Grant just got back from Florida, where I guess he is from, but that's always been a little hard for me to believe. I lived in Florida myself once. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from that time, like when I used to set fire to underbrush in all the undeveloped lots on our block, or when, at 11, I reached the pinnacle of my pack-a-day cigarette habit, or even my foray into marijuana use a few years earlier. Those were some good times, which causes me to think that Florida is full of certain types of people — cigarette- and pot-huffing amateur arsonist types of people — and Grant is nothing like that.

For one, Grant is way too fastidious. The Florida guys I knew were surfer boys in swim trunks with sun-dappled streaks in their long hair. And they were barefoot. That is a big detail, because I know for a fact that Grant has 67 pairs of shoes. He has whole closets in his house that are devoted to nothing but shoes, and each day he'd wear each pair in an endless shoe-parade succession if he could. Even back when he moved to that island off the coast of Mexico in that big fanfare of faux retirement that lasted all of six months, during which he was supposed to have lived the rest of his life on the sand like a big hairy horseshoe crab, he somehow managed to cover his feet in designer sandals and his face in $300 La Prairie moisturizer.

And like I said, in six months he was back here in the city, using his grown daughter as an excuse to return, even though today that same daughter now lives on that same island Grant escaped to (and then from) all those years ago. So I guess all this says is that Grant likes the beach like any of us like the beach, but there is just too much city in him for me to believe he's from Florida.

Daniel, for example, is from a tiny town in Texas located a frog-spit distance from the Mexican border. And even though Daniel wears designer sandals, too, there is still a certain sweetness to his countenance that makes it believable that his father is an avocado farmer and his mother is a Wal-Mart greeter who sends him things like "The Famous Limited-Edition WilliRaye 'Boy Bunny with Backpack' Figurine!" That's right, and when I look at Daniel, even though he now lives in a beautifully preserved midcentury modern California split-level ranch with bamboo flooring and a built-in espresso maker, I can still see him sitting under the pomegranate tree in his aunt's back yard as a boy, barefoot in overalls next to his brother, feasting on fresh fruit while the big metal head of an oil drill seesaws in the background.

Grant, though, I can't see him fishing off the end of a pier like people born and raised in Florida are bound to do before they leave to make their way in other parts of the world. That's what I did when I lived there, and I wasn't even born there. I just landed there literally out of the sky when I was 11. We lived in a neighborhood that was hardly bigger than a sliver of land between the river and the ocean. It could barely stay above water during a downpour, but I loved that place. To this day, if I could, I'd pitch a tent at the end of the dilapidated wooden pier and live there like a troll until the end of my days, catching blowfish as I did as a child, letting them puff up like a crusty party balloon before extracting the hook and throwing them back in.

But in my case I can't go back because I have no family remaining there, whereas Grant has to go back because most of his family is still there, especially his father, who's had four toes taken off his feet due to diabetes, causing Grant to fret that major organs will soon follow suit. And let's not forget Grant's mother, who, in her 70s, adopted a full-grown Newfoundler dog, which is the size and weight of an average silverback gorilla and yanks Grant's little mother along on its leash like a tin can tied to the bumper of a newlywed's limo. Even though her bones have been broken and her arms are now so bruised and scabby they look like they've been covered in topography maps of the Rocky Mountains, the thing that irks Grant the most about his mother these days is that she let the dog take over the house, which is now, to hear him tell it, practically encased in a giant dried cocoon of piss and crap.

"When I was a kid she covered the couch in plastic and wouldn't let us into the living room!" Grant gripes, and I have to laugh, because this is his family. They are his water and he is their fish, and no matter how hard he tries to separate himself from Florida – no matter how many time he extracts the hook – he will always get thrown back in.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026819 1272392                          Moodswing - Florida boy "
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Moodswing

Wednesday March 5, 2008 12:04 am EST
Fish in and out of water | more...
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  string(4663) "If my sister had not reminded me, I would have completely forgotten I was once the victim of a bombing. For a second I thought that said a lot about me, to be living a life so crowded with adventure and excitement that the fact I was once hurt by a bomb merits hardly a blip in my memory space. But then I recalled that, at the time it happened, I hadn't even realized a bomb had exploded, and I really think for someone to garner coolness credit for having experienced an event, she should at least have been aware the event was happening.

I'd like to blame the French for this. I know it's true I sort of blame the French for everything, but in this instance I think I'm justified. My little sister Kim and I had traveled to Biarritz on a side trip as part of our excursion to backpack through Europe after we each spent a year of college abroad. We were in search of the focus of my fanatic passion that year, a young man and fellow student named Fabrice, who had hair the color of polished mahogany and kind eyes the shade of faded denim that crinkled into half moons when he laughed. He was exactly the kind of guy every girl falls immediately in love with. My friend Grant has a word for that particular trait in a man, and that word is "gay." I see now how inarguably correct that assessment is, but at the time it went right over my head.

So every other day I would reliably throw myself at Fabrice, who hardly spoke English and would act like he didn't understand my meaning no matter how brazen my actions, which once included taking his actual hand and placing it on my actual breast. His nickname for me was "Pure." I have no idea why. All I know is that he shouted it from across the room whenever I entered, motioning me over so he could brush each of my cheeks with a kiss, hold my face in his hands and say it again. "Pure." Looking back, I have a feeling he was too nice to reject me outright, so instead he treated me with lavish respect, repackaging his lack of enthusiasm into a reluctance to sully my new loveliness. It was literally the most tender rebuff I would ever experience.

Then one day Fabrice removed himself from my clutches to return home to Biarritz without so much as even the attempt to impregnate me beforehand, which constituted unfinished business as far as I was concerned, hence the swing-by to Biarritz on my ensuing European sojourn with my sister. We never found Fabrice, but at least there was the bomb.

I know French people are refined, but still there was alarmingly minimal panic surrounding this bombing. My sister Kim and I had been a few blocks away, begging the proprietor of a cafe to serve us a big bowl of whipped cream. We loved French whipped cream — it was thick and a lot less sugary than the kind in the States, and Kim and I were always asking waiters to oblige us with bowls of the stuff even though it was never on the menu. This is when we heard the bomb explode.

Before I go any further, I would just like to interject here that I have since heard plenty of explosions over the years, and have mistaken nearly every one of them for a bomb, including that time a birthday clown accidentally popped his balloon animal by my ear, but on the one occasion when a bomb actually did explode near me, all I did was sit there wondering why it was thundering outside when there weren't any rain clouds in the sky.

Later, still oblivious, Kim and I walked back to our pensione, wondering where all the people were and why all the shop fronts now had shattered windows, when a shard of glass pierced my flimsy sandal and cut my big toe. It wasn't until we were in Spain the next day that we read about the bombing, for which some Basque terrorists took credit. No one died, though some had been injured, and I guess technically I was among them.

"Oh my God, we could have been killed," Kim exclaimed, and I suppose she was right, but I hardly gave it another thought until she reminded me of it the other day. She asked me if I felt lucky to be alive, and after some thought I realized that is not why I feel lucky. Not at all. Because it all came back to me right then, all the new loveliness everything held to me at that time, when the world was my personal field of feathery dandelions for all I knew, when a kind-hearted boy could breathe on my face and make my heart race, and when I was invincible and nothing on Earth could sully me. That's what I feel lucky about; to have ever been so pure that a bomb could explode nearby and it would go right over my head.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4708) "If my sister had not reminded me, I would have completely forgotten I was once the victim of a bombing. For a second I thought that said a lot about me, to be living a life so crowded with adventure and excitement that the fact I was once hurt by a bomb merits hardly a blip in my memory space. But then I recalled that, at the time it happened, I hadn't even realized a bomb had exploded, and I really think for someone to garner coolness credit for having experienced an event, she should at least have been aware the event was happening.

I'd like to blame the French for this. I know it's true I sort of blame the French for everything, but in this instance I think I'm justified. My little sister Kim and I had traveled to Biarritz on a side trip as part of our excursion to backpack through Europe after we each spent a year of college abroad. We were in search of the focus of my fanatic passion that year, a young man and fellow student named Fabrice, who had hair the color of polished mahogany and kind eyes the shade of faded denim that crinkled into half moons when he laughed. He was exactly the kind of guy every girl falls immediately in love with. My friend Grant has a word for that particular trait in a man, and that word is "gay." I see now how inarguably correct that assessment is, but at the time it went right over my head.

So every other day I would reliably throw myself at Fabrice, who hardly spoke English and would act like he didn't understand my meaning no matter how brazen my actions, which once included taking his actual hand and placing it on my actual breast. His nickname for me was "Pure." I have no idea why. All I know is that he shouted it from across the room whenever I entered, motioning me over so he could brush each of my cheeks with a kiss, hold my face in his hands and say it again. "Pure." Looking back, I have a feeling he was too nice to reject me outright, so instead he treated me with lavish respect, repackaging his lack of enthusiasm into a reluctance to sully my new loveliness. It was literally the most tender rebuff I would ever experience.

Then one day Fabrice removed himself from my clutches to return home to Biarritz without so much as even the attempt to impregnate me beforehand, which constituted unfinished business as far as I was concerned, hence the swing-by to Biarritz on my ensuing European sojourn with my sister. We never found Fabrice, but at least there was the bomb.

__I know__ French people are refined, but still there was alarmingly minimal panic surrounding this bombing. My sister Kim and I had been a few blocks away, begging the proprietor of a cafe to serve us a big bowl of whipped cream. We loved French whipped cream -- it was thick and a lot less sugary than the kind in the States, and Kim and I were always asking waiters to oblige us with bowls of the stuff even though it was never on the menu. This is when we heard the bomb explode.

Before I go any further, I would just like to interject here that I have since heard plenty of explosions over the years, and have mistaken nearly every one of them for a bomb, including that time a birthday clown accidentally popped his balloon animal by my ear, but on the one occasion when a bomb actually did explode near me, all I did was sit there wondering why it was thundering outside when there weren't any rain clouds in the sky.

Later, still oblivious, Kim and I walked back to our pensione, wondering where all the people were and why all the shop fronts now had shattered windows, when a shard of glass pierced my flimsy sandal and cut my big toe. It wasn't until we were in Spain the next day that we read about the bombing, for which some Basque terrorists took credit. No one died, though some had been injured, and I guess technically I was among them.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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I'd like to blame the French for this. I know it's true I sort of blame the French for everything, but in this instance I think I'm justified. My little sister Kim and I had traveled to Biarritz on a side trip as part of our excursion to backpack through Europe after we each spent a year of college abroad. We were in search of the focus of my fanatic passion that year, a young man and fellow student named Fabrice, who had hair the color of polished mahogany and kind eyes the shade of faded denim that crinkled into half moons when he laughed. He was exactly the kind of guy every girl falls immediately in love with. My friend Grant has a word for that particular trait in a man, and that word is "gay." I see now how inarguably correct that assessment is, but at the time it went right over my head.

So every other day I would reliably throw myself at Fabrice, who hardly spoke English and would act like he didn't understand my meaning no matter how brazen my actions, which once included taking his actual hand and placing it on my actual breast. His nickname for me was "Pure." I have no idea why. All I know is that he shouted it from across the room whenever I entered, motioning me over so he could brush each of my cheeks with a kiss, hold my face in his hands and say it again. "Pure." Looking back, I have a feeling he was too nice to reject me outright, so instead he treated me with lavish respect, repackaging his lack of enthusiasm into a reluctance to sully my new loveliness. It was literally the most tender rebuff I would ever experience.

Then one day Fabrice removed himself from my clutches to return home to Biarritz without so much as even the attempt to impregnate me beforehand, which constituted unfinished business as far as I was concerned, hence the swing-by to Biarritz on my ensuing European sojourn with my sister. We never found Fabrice, but at least there was the bomb.

I know French people are refined, but still there was alarmingly minimal panic surrounding this bombing. My sister Kim and I had been a few blocks away, begging the proprietor of a cafe to serve us a big bowl of whipped cream. We loved French whipped cream — it was thick and a lot less sugary than the kind in the States, and Kim and I were always asking waiters to oblige us with bowls of the stuff even though it was never on the menu. This is when we heard the bomb explode.

Before I go any further, I would just like to interject here that I have since heard plenty of explosions over the years, and have mistaken nearly every one of them for a bomb, including that time a birthday clown accidentally popped his balloon animal by my ear, but on the one occasion when a bomb actually did explode near me, all I did was sit there wondering why it was thundering outside when there weren't any rain clouds in the sky.

Later, still oblivious, Kim and I walked back to our pensione, wondering where all the people were and why all the shop fronts now had shattered windows, when a shard of glass pierced my flimsy sandal and cut my big toe. It wasn't until we were in Spain the next day that we read about the bombing, for which some Basque terrorists took credit. No one died, though some had been injured, and I guess technically I was among them.

"Oh my God, we could have been killed," Kim exclaimed, and I suppose she was right, but I hardly gave it another thought until she reminded me of it the other day. She asked me if I felt lucky to be alive, and after some thought I realized that is not why I feel lucky. Not at all. Because it all came back to me right then, all the new loveliness everything held to me at that time, when the world was my personal field of feathery dandelions for all I knew, when a kind-hearted boy could breathe on my face and make my heart race, and when I was invincible and nothing on Earth could sully me. That's what I feel lucky about; to have ever been so pure that a bomb could explode nearby and it would go right over my head.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026770 1272291                          Moodswing - Over my head "
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Moodswing

Wednesday February 27, 2008 12:04 am EST
Surviving a bomb in Biarritz | more...
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  string(4867) "I didn't know ants could become zombies, but evidently it's possible. This is according to Eddie, who has been talking about zombie ants all day. I personally think we have better things to converse about, because here we are in Paris, and that right there is a pretty good icebreaker if you ask me. We could spend hours talking about the now-famous Internet cafe where the terrorists planned their attack on the World Trade Center. I could spend a day bitching about that fact alone, plus the fact that I keep having to give good money – American money that is worth something in actual America – to the French so they can use it as canine Kotex considering what the U.S. dollar is worth over here these days.

But Eddie won't let me bitch about that. When he's not telling me about the zombie ants, he's telling me to just spend the money. "How many times are you going to be in Paris and able to buy French bread?" he asks.

"I can get French bread at the quickie mart attached to the gas station down the street from my house," I say.

"But this is French French bread," he says, and then he's back on the subject of ants.

Evidently, scientists recently discovered bacteria that, when an ant ingests it, causes the ant to climb a blade of grass and hang itself from the end. This makes it easy for rabbits to ingest the ants, then a snail ingests the rabbit droppings and spits out the infected tissue, which another ant in turn eats, and thus begins the never-ending cycle of suicide zombie-ant cannibalism that is "really so fascinating," says Eddie in his pristine Euro-mutt accent.

I keep trying to impress on him that the suicidal zombie ants have no importance to humanity; it's just a cycle that involves ants, rabbits and a snail, and unless there is the cure to colorectal cancer in that snail spit, I don't see how it matters one pinch of rabbit shit that there exists a bacteria that creates ant zombies.

"Of course it's important," Eddie argues. "You would not believe how it matters, what it means. It's a cycle. We're all connected ..." and on he went with one of his patented pontifications about the meaning of life. These long-winded orations are very typical of Eddie and mark why I find him so reliably maddening. I would have rolled my eyes right then, but we were on the top of L'Arc de Triomphe and I was busy being staggered by the scenery.

I've probably been to Paris 500 times, courtesy of my hallowed history as a former airline scullery plebe, but I have to admit I'd yet to come here to this particular spot. Initially I'd scoffed at going to the top of the Arc, because this destination just seemed so expected. But once I was here it was hard to stay hardened. Jesus God, I thought, it's damn beautiful from up here. The sky was as clear as the eyes of a child, and the city lights glowed beneath us like a million beaded evening gowns laying at our feet.

Sometimes I regret having always been woefully unmotivated regarding tourism, because truthfully I'd have been happy just hanging out at the flea market, but luckily I was not here for myself but for Eddie and my sister Kim, who is married to him. Today is their wedding anniversary, and they came to Paris to celebrate. I agreed to come along as a fourth wheel for my niece's sake.

So I gamely followed Kim's and Eddie's itinerary, behaving myself, and only once or twice did I duck into a shoe store to clutch a pair of boots and wail, "But I gotta!" as those two held hands and made romantic googy all over each other. My sister had said it was only fitting that I come since I'd been there the night they met, a fact for which I feel guilty taking credit considering I was flat-ass drunk at the time and Kim needed help to carry me home. That was when we lived in Zurich, and I guess it's saying something that Eddie didn't kill us both and steal our wallets. Instead he stole my sister's heart and nobody was more surprised than I was when she never took it back.

Because if you were to ask me at the time, I would not have thought this man was supposed to be important. My sister was young and on the cusp of all the wondrous rest of her life, I thought, and surely Eddie would just be one in a marching army that would pass through her affections before she settled down. But I was wrong. I think it's important to note I am usually wrong about stuff like this.

Today the three of us, plus a fourth now, are way up high at the top of the L'Arc de Triomphe, and below, the tiny cars and the tiny people and even the tiny Internet cafes of Paris churn around us in an achingly beautiful miasma of matter, importance and meaning. "You would not believe," Eddie keeps saying about the suicidal-zombie ants, "how we're all connected."

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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But Eddie won't let me bitch about that. When he's not telling me about the zombie ants, he's telling me to just spend the money. "How many times are you going to be in Paris and able to buy French bread?" he asks.

"I can get French bread at the quickie mart attached to the gas station down the street from my house," I say.

"But this is ''French'' French bread," he says, and then he's back on the subject of ants.

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"Of course it's important," Eddie argues. "You would not believe how it matters, what it ''means''. It's a cycle. We're all connected ..." and on he went with one of his patented pontifications about the meaning of life. These long-winded orations are very typical of Eddie and mark why I find him so reliably maddening. I would have rolled my eyes right then, but we were on the top of L'Arc de Triomphe and I was busy being staggered by the scenery.

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Sometimes I regret having always been woefully unmotivated regarding tourism, because truthfully I'd have been happy just hanging out at the flea market, but luckily I was not here for myself but for Eddie and my sister Kim, who is married to him. Today is their wedding anniversary, and they came to Paris to celebrate. I agreed to come along as a fourth wheel for my niece's sake.

So I gamely followed Kim's and Eddie's itinerary, behaving myself, and only once or twice did I duck into a shoe store to clutch a pair of boots and wail, "But I gotta!" as those two held hands and made romantic googy all over each other. My sister had said it was only fitting that I come since I'd been there the night they met, a fact for which I feel guilty taking credit considering I was flat-ass drunk at the time and Kim needed help to carry me home. That was when we lived in Zurich, and I guess it's saying something that Eddie didn't kill us both and steal our wallets. Instead he stole my sister's heart and nobody was more surprised than I was when she never took it back.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(5143) "    Suicidal zombie-ant cannibalism and other things of importance   2008-02-20T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - What you learn in Paris   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-02-20T05:04:00+00:00  I didn't know ants could become zombies, but evidently it's possible. This is according to Eddie, who has been talking about zombie ants all day. I personally think we have better things to converse about, because here we are in Paris, and that right there is a pretty good icebreaker if you ask me. We could spend hours talking about the now-famous Internet cafe where the terrorists planned their attack on the World Trade Center. I could spend a day bitching about that fact alone, plus the fact that I keep having to give good money – American money that is worth something in actual America – to the French so they can use it as canine Kotex considering what the U.S. dollar is worth over here these days.

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"I can get French bread at the quickie mart attached to the gas station down the street from my house," I say.

"But this is French French bread," he says, and then he's back on the subject of ants.

Evidently, scientists recently discovered bacteria that, when an ant ingests it, causes the ant to climb a blade of grass and hang itself from the end. This makes it easy for rabbits to ingest the ants, then a snail ingests the rabbit droppings and spits out the infected tissue, which another ant in turn eats, and thus begins the never-ending cycle of suicide zombie-ant cannibalism that is "really so fascinating," says Eddie in his pristine Euro-mutt accent.

I keep trying to impress on him that the suicidal zombie ants have no importance to humanity; it's just a cycle that involves ants, rabbits and a snail, and unless there is the cure to colorectal cancer in that snail spit, I don't see how it matters one pinch of rabbit shit that there exists a bacteria that creates ant zombies.

"Of course it's important," Eddie argues. "You would not believe how it matters, what it means. It's a cycle. We're all connected ..." and on he went with one of his patented pontifications about the meaning of life. These long-winded orations are very typical of Eddie and mark why I find him so reliably maddening. I would have rolled my eyes right then, but we were on the top of L'Arc de Triomphe and I was busy being staggered by the scenery.

I've probably been to Paris 500 times, courtesy of my hallowed history as a former airline scullery plebe, but I have to admit I'd yet to come here to this particular spot. Initially I'd scoffed at going to the top of the Arc, because this destination just seemed so expected. But once I was here it was hard to stay hardened. Jesus God, I thought, it's damn beautiful from up here. The sky was as clear as the eyes of a child, and the city lights glowed beneath us like a million beaded evening gowns laying at our feet.

Sometimes I regret having always been woefully unmotivated regarding tourism, because truthfully I'd have been happy just hanging out at the flea market, but luckily I was not here for myself but for Eddie and my sister Kim, who is married to him. Today is their wedding anniversary, and they came to Paris to celebrate. I agreed to come along as a fourth wheel for my niece's sake.

So I gamely followed Kim's and Eddie's itinerary, behaving myself, and only once or twice did I duck into a shoe store to clutch a pair of boots and wail, "But I gotta!" as those two held hands and made romantic googy all over each other. My sister had said it was only fitting that I come since I'd been there the night they met, a fact for which I feel guilty taking credit considering I was flat-ass drunk at the time and Kim needed help to carry me home. That was when we lived in Zurich, and I guess it's saying something that Eddie didn't kill us both and steal our wallets. Instead he stole my sister's heart and nobody was more surprised than I was when she never took it back.

Because if you were to ask me at the time, I would not have thought this man was supposed to be important. My sister was young and on the cusp of all the wondrous rest of her life, I thought, and surely Eddie would just be one in a marching army that would pass through her affections before she settled down. But I was wrong. I think it's important to note I am usually wrong about stuff like this.

Today the three of us, plus a fourth now, are way up high at the top of the L'Arc de Triomphe, and below, the tiny cars and the tiny people and even the tiny Internet cafes of Paris churn around us in an achingly beautiful miasma of matter, importance and meaning. "You would not believe," Eddie keeps saying about the suicidal-zombie ants, "how we're all connected."

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026729 1272207                          Moodswing - What you learn in Paris "
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Moodswing

Wednesday February 20, 2008 12:04 am EST
Suicidal zombie-ant cannibalism and other things of importance | more...
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  string(4754) "I hadn't thought that human ashes would make for good sandbox filler, but I'm not Tamara. I just wish I were, as she is always thinking of things that would never occur to me. It would never have occurred to me, for example, to hand my kids the ashes of their father in two neat sand pails, complete with shovels, so they could pour them at the base of an oak tree that had just been planted to memorialize him. How brilliant is that? I thought as I watched Max's two children sprinkle his remains over the 42 daffodils — Max would have been 42 today — planted around the tree.

I know cremated remains are not exactly sand, and the base of a tree is not exactly a box, but if there is one thing you can certainly say about Tamara, it's that you'll never find her confined to a box. Just the other day I was at her place gawking in wonderment at the innovative system of checks and balances she had devised on her dry-erase calendar to deal with the myriad of doctors appointments, child-care accommodations and countless other ministrations that come with the crap basket of dealing with a dying husband. Wow, I thought, I need to get a dry-erase board. I need to check and balance.

And when I used to watch her little boy Griffin while she was at the hospital tending to Max, I liked to open all the utensil drawers in her kitchen and just marvel at her mastery of organization. It must have been how she held it together while her world was falling apart. Her pantry was a wonder to behold, too, everything perfectly arranged and ready to remind you of your options: Rice-A-Roni or elbow macaroni? SpaghettiOs or ravioli?

My own pantry is a wasteland of hurricane-relief rejects peppered with soy-sauce packets and ramen seasonings. There is stuff in there that is just there – weird wayward staples, like what the hell is bulgur wheat? I know it must be food, if not for me personally then at least for the colony of boll weevils that are no doubt thriving inside; I just don't know how to utilize it as an ingredient in anything. But I keep the box in my pantry because at one point probably decades ago I thought to buy it for some reason, and you never know when that reason may show itself again, and I don't want to be caught without the right box of bulgur wheat when that happens.

But if Tamara had a box of bulgur wheat in her pantry, you would know immediately what it was, because it would be grouped in a subsection of like-themed boxes and you would be able to discern by its surroundings the category into which it fell. Seriously, Tamara is a master. Every month her counters and tabletops reflect the season in themed accessories, such as the butter-spreaders with ceramic handles in the shape of stacked jack-o'-lanterns, or winter-themed accessories, such as snowflake-patterned place mats, or whatever theme for whatever other season Max had marveled doctors by surviving. Seasons always end, though.

The first time I saw Max was at my daughter's fifth birthday party. He had eyes like a spaniel's, they were so gentle and sweet, and he had a sardonic sense of humor that heightened his charisma, even later on through the indignities of his cancer. "A few months ago we were just two parents on the playground watching our kids," he smiled wryly at me as I helped him back into his hospital bed after a bathroom run one night. "Now look at us," he continued as he adjusted his many tubes and wires. "You're my diaper buddy."

But the first night I saw him he was cracking wise with the other dads while his pregnant wife communed among the balloon animals with the kids and other mothers. At initial glance they look like any other couple, but it turns out that Tamara and Max could not be categorized just because they were sitting in the same pantry among a bunch of like-themed boxes.

For one, Max was born with ambiguous genitalia, an "unfinished girl" is the box the doctors tried to put him in, and for the majority of his life he lived as a female named Judy. This is who he was when he met Tamara, but of course it's not really who he was, and if love is good for anything it's good for bringing you out of the box.

And now Max is gone, but then again not really. Just before his 7-year-old daughter Alder began to sprinkle her father's ashes over his memorial, she had read a list of things she loved about him, called "The 10 Good Things About My Daddy." "Daddy buried me in the sandbox once," she read, "Daddy was great at playing," and on she continued, her words dancing through the air like daisy petals in the breeze, "Daddy is going to grow daffodils and a tree ..."

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4798) "I hadn't thought that human ashes would make for good sandbox filler, but I'm not Tamara. I just wish I were, as she is always thinking of things that would never occur to me. It would never have occurred to me, for example, to hand my kids the ashes of their father in two neat sand pails, complete with shovels, so they could pour them at the base of an oak tree that had just been planted to memorialize him. ''How brilliant is that?'' I thought as I watched Max's two children sprinkle his remains over the 42 daffodils -- Max would have been 42 today -- planted around the tree.

I know cremated remains are not exactly sand, and the base of a tree is not exactly a box, but if there is one thing you can certainly say about Tamara, it's that you'll never find her confined to a box. Just the other day I was at her place gawking in wonderment at the innovative system of checks and balances she had devised on her dry-erase calendar to deal with the myriad of doctors appointments, child-care accommodations and countless other ministrations that come with the crap basket of dealing with a dying husband. Wow, I thought, I need to get a dry-erase board. I need to check and balance.

And when I used to watch her little boy Griffin while she was at the hospital tending to Max, I liked to open all the utensil drawers in her kitchen and just marvel at her mastery of organization. It must have been how she held it together while her world was falling apart. Her pantry was a wonder to behold, too, everything perfectly arranged and ready to remind you of your options: Rice-A-Roni or elbow macaroni? SpaghettiOs or ravioli?

My own pantry is a wasteland of hurricane-relief rejects peppered with soy-sauce packets and ramen seasonings. There is stuff in there that is just ''there'' – weird wayward staples, like what the hell is ''bulgur wheat''? I know it must be food, if not for me personally then at least for the colony of boll weevils that are no doubt thriving inside; I just don't know how to utilize it as an ingredient in anything. But I keep the box in my pantry because at one point probably decades ago I thought to buy it for some reason, and you never know when that reason may show itself again, and I don't want to be caught without the right box of bulgur wheat when that happens.

But if Tamara had a box of bulgur wheat in her pantry, you would know immediately what it was, because it would be grouped in a subsection of like-themed boxes and you would be able to discern by its surroundings the category into which it fell. Seriously, Tamara is a master. Every month her counters and tabletops reflect the season in themed accessories, such as the butter-spreaders with ceramic handles in the shape of stacked jack-o'-lanterns, or winter-themed accessories, such as snowflake-patterned place mats, or whatever theme for whatever other season Max had marveled doctors by surviving. Seasons always end, though.

__The first time__ I saw Max was at my daughter's fifth birthday party. He had eyes like a spaniel's, they were so gentle and sweet, and he had a sardonic sense of humor that heightened his charisma, even later on through the indignities of his cancer. "A few months ago we were just two parents on the playground watching our kids," he smiled wryly at me as I helped him back into his hospital bed after a bathroom run one night. "Now look at us," he continued as he adjusted his many tubes and wires. "You're my diaper buddy."

But the first night I saw him he was cracking wise with the other dads while his pregnant wife communed among the balloon animals with the kids and other mothers. At initial glance they look like any other couple, but it turns out that Tamara and Max could not be categorized just because they were sitting in the same pantry among a bunch of like-themed boxes.

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And now Max is gone, but then again not really. Just before his 7-year-old daughter Alder began to sprinkle her father's ashes over his memorial, she had read a list of things she loved about him, called "The 10 Good Things About My Daddy." "Daddy buried me in the sandbox once," she read, "Daddy was great at playing," and on she continued, her words dancing through the air like daisy petals in the breeze, "Daddy is going to grow daffodils and a tree ..."

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4984) "    Living outside the box   2008-02-13T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Daffodils and a tree   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-02-13T05:04:00+00:00  I hadn't thought that human ashes would make for good sandbox filler, but I'm not Tamara. I just wish I were, as she is always thinking of things that would never occur to me. It would never have occurred to me, for example, to hand my kids the ashes of their father in two neat sand pails, complete with shovels, so they could pour them at the base of an oak tree that had just been planted to memorialize him. How brilliant is that? I thought as I watched Max's two children sprinkle his remains over the 42 daffodils — Max would have been 42 today — planted around the tree.

I know cremated remains are not exactly sand, and the base of a tree is not exactly a box, but if there is one thing you can certainly say about Tamara, it's that you'll never find her confined to a box. Just the other day I was at her place gawking in wonderment at the innovative system of checks and balances she had devised on her dry-erase calendar to deal with the myriad of doctors appointments, child-care accommodations and countless other ministrations that come with the crap basket of dealing with a dying husband. Wow, I thought, I need to get a dry-erase board. I need to check and balance.

And when I used to watch her little boy Griffin while she was at the hospital tending to Max, I liked to open all the utensil drawers in her kitchen and just marvel at her mastery of organization. It must have been how she held it together while her world was falling apart. Her pantry was a wonder to behold, too, everything perfectly arranged and ready to remind you of your options: Rice-A-Roni or elbow macaroni? SpaghettiOs or ravioli?

My own pantry is a wasteland of hurricane-relief rejects peppered with soy-sauce packets and ramen seasonings. There is stuff in there that is just there – weird wayward staples, like what the hell is bulgur wheat? I know it must be food, if not for me personally then at least for the colony of boll weevils that are no doubt thriving inside; I just don't know how to utilize it as an ingredient in anything. But I keep the box in my pantry because at one point probably decades ago I thought to buy it for some reason, and you never know when that reason may show itself again, and I don't want to be caught without the right box of bulgur wheat when that happens.

But if Tamara had a box of bulgur wheat in her pantry, you would know immediately what it was, because it would be grouped in a subsection of like-themed boxes and you would be able to discern by its surroundings the category into which it fell. Seriously, Tamara is a master. Every month her counters and tabletops reflect the season in themed accessories, such as the butter-spreaders with ceramic handles in the shape of stacked jack-o'-lanterns, or winter-themed accessories, such as snowflake-patterned place mats, or whatever theme for whatever other season Max had marveled doctors by surviving. Seasons always end, though.

The first time I saw Max was at my daughter's fifth birthday party. He had eyes like a spaniel's, they were so gentle and sweet, and he had a sardonic sense of humor that heightened his charisma, even later on through the indignities of his cancer. "A few months ago we were just two parents on the playground watching our kids," he smiled wryly at me as I helped him back into his hospital bed after a bathroom run one night. "Now look at us," he continued as he adjusted his many tubes and wires. "You're my diaper buddy."

But the first night I saw him he was cracking wise with the other dads while his pregnant wife communed among the balloon animals with the kids and other mothers. At initial glance they look like any other couple, but it turns out that Tamara and Max could not be categorized just because they were sitting in the same pantry among a bunch of like-themed boxes.

For one, Max was born with ambiguous genitalia, an "unfinished girl" is the box the doctors tried to put him in, and for the majority of his life he lived as a female named Judy. This is who he was when he met Tamara, but of course it's not really who he was, and if love is good for anything it's good for bringing you out of the box.

And now Max is gone, but then again not really. Just before his 7-year-old daughter Alder began to sprinkle her father's ashes over his memorial, she had read a list of things she loved about him, called "The 10 Good Things About My Daddy." "Daddy buried me in the sandbox once," she read, "Daddy was great at playing," and on she continued, her words dancing through the air like daisy petals in the breeze, "Daddy is going to grow daffodils and a tree ..."

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026685 1272121                          Moodswing - Daffodils and a tree "
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Moodswing

Wednesday February 13, 2008 12:04 am EST
Living outside the box | more...
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  string(4666) "All my talk about trailers has inspired Lary to try to put an old Airstream on his roof. He says all he has to do is drill a big hole in his ceiling as well as through the underside of the trailer, then bolt one of those wrought-iron spiral staircases into place, and voila, an economic second-floor wing. I have to tell you, if he pulls that off I will be so jealous my head will hemorrhage.

"Please put it on my roof instead," I begged him. My house is much more suited to sit under a trailer, if you ask me. First of all, it's hardly bigger than one, so it would serve as the proper understated pedestal and not detract from the magnificence of the Airstream. Lary's dilapidated old warehouse, on the other hand, is so huge and its roof so high that an Airstream on top of it would just sit there like a silver boil and probably hardly be noticeable, especially considering all the other stuff that's up there, including, but not limited to, an entire life-sized plastic lawn nativity scene, various tires, bird cages, a herd of feral cats and, on and off, the back end of a truck.

"The roof is where I put all the stuff I really value," he said.

Lary is a rigger by profession, and not just any rigger, but he's like the master Jedi rigger that other riggers bow before. Whatever you need done, Lary can figure out a way to do it, including, but not limited to, probably time travel. This is why huge companies pay him tons of money to accomplish the impossible at their conventions. For example, if plans call for a Ferris wheel suspended over a lake in the center of a previously lakeless sports arena, Lary is the one they finally approach to get it done once everyone else says it can't be done.

He's in Hawaii now, staying at the Four Seasons because word of his patented brand of rigger madness has reached the people with real money, and he's been hired to, I guess, simulate a giant-scale, authentic volcanic eruption or something for some huge convention out there. Of course the idea of making his own magma was irresistible to Lary. "It's incredible, like the earth is violently puking," he says to me of his work over the phone. "I can't wait to see it happen with a real volcano." He says that last part like he'll have some say in it, which, knowing Lary, he probably will.

So one of the things all of us learned early was not to doubt Lary when he says he's going to do something, no matter how crazy it sounds. I remember I scoffed at him when he said he was going to steal a billboard from the freeway once, and the next time I went to his place to water his plants, there it was taking up most of his warehouse: a massive highway sign that read, "JESUS WAS A VEGETARIAN." The billboard pissed him off, he said, and it had to come down. He must have climbed an edifice 20 flights high to pull that off. So if he says he's going to put a trailer on his roof, he probably will.

I'm looking forward to it, especially the part about the wrought-iron spiral staircase. I personally know those things are easy to put up and take down because my own mother stole one from one of our many rented residences back while I was growing up. They're not much more than twisted ladders, really, and all it took was a good shaking and it practically popped right off the brackets into her hands. It probably helped that my sisters and I used to hang and climb on it like an upended monkey bar, loosening it to a good degree. It was probably the biggest heist my mother pulled off from one of the places we used to live. The last I saw of that staircase was decades ago, in the shed she kept in back of the trailer she'd bought just north of the Tijuana border. That shed is where she kept all the stuff she really valued.

It turned out she never needed any of it, because the day never came when she could finally piece it all together to make a home of her own. If she had known Lary, though, he could have done it for her. This is probably why I appreciate Lary, because he can rig anything. He can make the impossible possible. He is a super-rigger. He can put a trailer on his roof and then turn around and ask me if I'd like one on mine.

It occurs to me that it's probably possible for people to go through life and never have a home even though they may spend every second surrounded by walls. In the end it's not until they start collecting things they really value, and keeping them someplace safe, that their home starts to take shape. "Hell yes, I want a trailer on my roof," I tell Lary. "Hurry up and come home."

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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"Please put it on my roof instead," I begged him. My house is much more suited to sit under a trailer, if you ask me. First of all, it's hardly bigger than one, so it would serve as the proper understated pedestal and not detract from the magnificence of the Airstream. Lary's dilapidated old warehouse, on the other hand, is so huge and its roof so high that an Airstream on top of it would just sit there like a silver boil and probably hardly be noticeable, especially considering all the other stuff that's up there, including, but not limited to, an entire life-sized plastic lawn nativity scene, various tires, bird cages, a herd of feral cats and, on and off, the back end of a truck.

"The roof is where I put all the stuff I really value," he said.

Lary is a rigger by profession, and not just any rigger, but he's like the master Jedi rigger that other riggers bow before. Whatever you need done, Lary can figure out a way to do it, including, but not limited to, probably time travel. This is why huge companies pay him tons of money to accomplish the impossible at their conventions. For example, if plans call for a Ferris wheel suspended over a lake in the center of a previously lakeless sports arena, Lary is the one they finally approach to get it done once everyone else says it can't be done.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026615 1271970                          Moodswing - The super-rigger "
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Moodswing

Wednesday February 6, 2008 12:04 am EST
Storage for the things you value | more...
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  string(4458) "My problem, Daniel tells me, is that I'm greedy, though I don't see what's so greedy about getting another trailer. We're not talking Taj Mahal here. My needs are simple. It's not like I'm opening my own trailer park; it's just that I need an office, and maybe a guest room, or just a "garden trailer on the creek," even though I don't have a garden or a creek. But I do have an animal graveyard and a freeway running along the back of my tiny house with the huge back yard – a back yard that, if you ask me, is begging for trailers.

"What about the last disaster?" Daniel reminded me.

"What disaster?" I said. "I don't remember any 'disaster.'"

"What do you mean, you don't remember?" he asked. "You trashed that trailer."

"I didn't trash that trailer," I said. "That trailer was trashed when I bought it." In fact, I saved that trailer like a neglected pet. It was a 1974 Serro Scotty camper that was too big for my trailer hitch, which I discovered when I looked into my rearview and saw that it had popped off the back of my bumper and was free rolling into oncoming traffic. Maybe that's what Daniel was talking about. Lord, it's coming back now. When I caught sight of that trailer rolling unattached along the highway about to cause a pileup that could depopulate half a high school, my heart stopped like an overwound watch.

Thank God it swerved into an irrigation ditch before it hit anything. I had to borrow Lary's truck to pull it out. Unfortunately, the truck also came with Lary, and the ordeal cost me my entire supply of generic Peruvian Xanax. Predicaments like this make me wish my trailer salesman dad had tutored me better before he up and died when I was young. It's true he'd stopped selling hitch trailers and had moved onto motor homes by the time I was 9, but he could have imparted plenty of wisdom in that time nonetheless. My mother taught me lots of stuff I remember perfectly well at that young age, like how to haggle the price down on a set of TV trays at the swap meet.

"Tell her you only have 25 cents," she'd instruct me. "Say you want to buy them for your mom for her birthday." If I mentioned that her birthday wasn't for nine months, she'd remind me that it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

And she's right. Preparation does not hurt. I thought I was prepared with my 2-inch tow hook on the back of my PT Cruiser, a car that Grant says proves I have lesbian taste even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one. Well, it turns out you can't tow a trailer that weighs more than your car, which makes a lot of sense, but at the time all I saw was a 1974 Serro Scotty and all I could think of was how Disney World was opened only three years before this camper was built, and how my family, back when it was intact and we lived in Florida and both my parents were alive and employed at the same time, used to take a trailer like this one to a campground nearby called the Cozy Palms Trailer Court. There my parents would sleep inside on the double bed that had been converted using cushions from the dinette set, and my two sisters and I would bundle in the same double sleeping bag on the ground by the door.

It wasn't the official Disney campsite, but one of those bargain ones owned by a chain-smoking, retired forklift operator who kept his horny dog tied to a post by the check-in window. To my sisters and me, though, it was the Taj Mahal of trailer parks. We'd lie awake under the moon in a three-way spoon, counting stars and listening to the uncharacteristically subdued murmurings of our parents. It's one of the few snapshots of immeasurable happiness from my past.

Soon after that my father died and my mother's tastes went through a sophisticated phase, during which we lived in Switzerland and other hoity places. But in the end she bought a trailer because it turned out her needs were simple after all. I kind of consider that a blessing, to live long enough to understand that the human condition doesn't require a lot of luxury. I've traveled all over the planet myself since then, not to the Taj Mahal exactly, but I've stayed in other places that rival it in opulence. In the end I bought a tiny house with aluminum awnings hardly bigger than the double-wides my dad used to sell. The back yard is big, though, and if you ask me, it's begging for trailers.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4504) "My problem, Daniel tells me, is that I'm greedy, though I don't see what's so greedy about getting another trailer. We're not talking Taj Mahal here. My needs are simple. It's not like I'm opening my own trailer park; it's just that I need an office, and maybe a guest room, or just a "garden trailer on the creek," even though I don't have a garden or a creek. But I do have an animal graveyard and a freeway running along the back of my tiny house with the huge back yard – a back yard that, if you ask me, is begging for trailers.

"What about the last disaster?" Daniel reminded me.

"What disaster?" I said. "I don't remember any 'disaster.'"

"What do you mean, you don't remember?" he asked. "You trashed that trailer."

"I didn't trash that trailer," I said. "That trailer was trashed when I bought it." In fact, I ''saved'' that trailer like a neglected pet. It was a 1974 Serro Scotty camper that was too big for my trailer hitch, which I discovered when I looked into my rearview and saw that it had popped off the back of my bumper and was free rolling into oncoming traffic. Maybe that's what Daniel was talking about. Lord, it's coming back now. When I caught sight of that trailer rolling unattached along the highway about to cause a pileup that could depopulate half a high school, my heart stopped like an overwound watch.

Thank God it swerved into an irrigation ditch before it hit anything. I had to borrow Lary's truck to pull it out. Unfortunately, the truck also came with Lary, and the ordeal cost me my entire supply of generic Peruvian Xanax. Predicaments like this make me wish my trailer salesman dad had tutored me better before he up and died when I was young. It's true he'd stopped selling hitch trailers and had moved onto motor homes by the time I was 9, but he could have imparted plenty of wisdom in that time nonetheless. My mother taught me lots of stuff I remember perfectly well at that young age, like how to haggle the price down on a set of TV trays at the swap meet.

"Tell her you only have 25 cents," she'd instruct me. "Say you want to buy them for your mom for her birthday." If I mentioned that her birthday wasn't for nine months, she'd remind me that it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

__And she's right.__ Preparation does not hurt. I thought I was prepared with my 2-inch tow hook on the back of my PT Cruiser, a car that Grant says proves I have lesbian taste even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one. Well, it turns out you can't tow a trailer that weighs more than your car, which makes a lot of sense, but at the time all I saw was a 1974 Serro Scotty and all I could think of was how Disney World was opened only three years before this camper was built, and how my family, back when it was intact and we lived in Florida and both my parents were alive and employed at the same time, used to take a trailer like this one to a campground nearby called the Cozy Palms Trailer Court. There my parents would sleep inside on the double bed that had been converted using cushions from the dinette set, and my two sisters and I would bundle in the same double sleeping bag on the ground by the door.

It wasn't the official Disney campsite, but one of those bargain ones owned by a chain-smoking, retired forklift operator who kept his horny dog tied to a post by the check-in window. To my sisters and me, though, it was the Taj Mahal of trailer parks. We'd lie awake under the moon in a three-way spoon, counting stars and listening to the uncharacteristically subdued murmurings of our parents. It's one of the few snapshots of immeasurable happiness from my past.

Soon after that my father died and my mother's tastes went through a sophisticated phase, during which we lived in Switzerland and other hoity places. But in the end she bought a trailer because it turned out her needs were simple after all. I kind of consider that a blessing, to live long enough to understand that the human condition doesn't require a lot of luxury. I've traveled all over the planet myself since then, not to the Taj Mahal exactly, but I've stayed in other places that rival it in opulence. In the end I bought a tiny house with aluminum awnings hardly bigger than the double-wides my dad used to sell. The back yard is big, though, and if you ask me, it's begging for trailers.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4681) "    My life is begging for trailers   2008-01-30T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Free rolling   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-01-30T05:04:00+00:00  My problem, Daniel tells me, is that I'm greedy, though I don't see what's so greedy about getting another trailer. We're not talking Taj Mahal here. My needs are simple. It's not like I'm opening my own trailer park; it's just that I need an office, and maybe a guest room, or just a "garden trailer on the creek," even though I don't have a garden or a creek. But I do have an animal graveyard and a freeway running along the back of my tiny house with the huge back yard – a back yard that, if you ask me, is begging for trailers.

"What about the last disaster?" Daniel reminded me.

"What disaster?" I said. "I don't remember any 'disaster.'"

"What do you mean, you don't remember?" he asked. "You trashed that trailer."

"I didn't trash that trailer," I said. "That trailer was trashed when I bought it." In fact, I saved that trailer like a neglected pet. It was a 1974 Serro Scotty camper that was too big for my trailer hitch, which I discovered when I looked into my rearview and saw that it had popped off the back of my bumper and was free rolling into oncoming traffic. Maybe that's what Daniel was talking about. Lord, it's coming back now. When I caught sight of that trailer rolling unattached along the highway about to cause a pileup that could depopulate half a high school, my heart stopped like an overwound watch.

Thank God it swerved into an irrigation ditch before it hit anything. I had to borrow Lary's truck to pull it out. Unfortunately, the truck also came with Lary, and the ordeal cost me my entire supply of generic Peruvian Xanax. Predicaments like this make me wish my trailer salesman dad had tutored me better before he up and died when I was young. It's true he'd stopped selling hitch trailers and had moved onto motor homes by the time I was 9, but he could have imparted plenty of wisdom in that time nonetheless. My mother taught me lots of stuff I remember perfectly well at that young age, like how to haggle the price down on a set of TV trays at the swap meet.

"Tell her you only have 25 cents," she'd instruct me. "Say you want to buy them for your mom for her birthday." If I mentioned that her birthday wasn't for nine months, she'd remind me that it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

And she's right. Preparation does not hurt. I thought I was prepared with my 2-inch tow hook on the back of my PT Cruiser, a car that Grant says proves I have lesbian taste even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one. Well, it turns out you can't tow a trailer that weighs more than your car, which makes a lot of sense, but at the time all I saw was a 1974 Serro Scotty and all I could think of was how Disney World was opened only three years before this camper was built, and how my family, back when it was intact and we lived in Florida and both my parents were alive and employed at the same time, used to take a trailer like this one to a campground nearby called the Cozy Palms Trailer Court. There my parents would sleep inside on the double bed that had been converted using cushions from the dinette set, and my two sisters and I would bundle in the same double sleeping bag on the ground by the door.

It wasn't the official Disney campsite, but one of those bargain ones owned by a chain-smoking, retired forklift operator who kept his horny dog tied to a post by the check-in window. To my sisters and me, though, it was the Taj Mahal of trailer parks. We'd lie awake under the moon in a three-way spoon, counting stars and listening to the uncharacteristically subdued murmurings of our parents. It's one of the few snapshots of immeasurable happiness from my past.

Soon after that my father died and my mother's tastes went through a sophisticated phase, during which we lived in Switzerland and other hoity places. But in the end she bought a trailer because it turned out her needs were simple after all. I kind of consider that a blessing, to live long enough to understand that the human condition doesn't require a lot of luxury. I've traveled all over the planet myself since then, not to the Taj Mahal exactly, but I've stayed in other places that rival it in opulence. In the end I bought a tiny house with aluminum awnings hardly bigger than the double-wides my dad used to sell. The back yard is big, though, and if you ask me, it's begging for trailers.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026543 1271806                          Moodswing - Free rolling "
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Moodswing

Wednesday January 30, 2008 12:04 am EST
My life is begging for trailers | more...
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  string(4622) "God, but digging a shallow grave is exhausting. I don't see how serial killers do it. Not that I aspire, it's just that this was one of the many thoughts going through my brain as I buried my cat Petal in the back yard this morning, along with the question of what could have killed her, because when I found her lying in the leaves next to my trailer, I couldn't find any overt signs of what might have caused her death.

I can't blame Lary, because Lary doesn't kill cats. But I will blame him for being out of town and therefore unavailable to plant Petal in the big bay of bamboo behind his warehouse where he keeps all his other dead bodies. Jethro the magical cat is buried back there, too, or so I choose to believe. I couldn't watch, because the transition to a Jethro-less house had been hard enough, so I just gave Lary the box from the vet with Jethro's frozen carcass inside and walked away after making Lary swear he'd do the honors. He swore he'd do the honors, so I have to leave it at that. But for all I know, he took up amateur taxidermy again.

I thought about taking Petal to the vet for a feline autopsy, because why does a young, perfectly healthy-seeming cat frolic through the dogwoods one minute and croak like a stroke victim the next? Not that I was there when it happened or even know exactly what happened, though I think I did have a psychic premonition, or whatever it is you have when something bad happens to something you love. Basically, she didn't come when I called, which isn't that unusual, but this time felt different.

Maybe it was the bell. The bell on Petal's collar was put there because she was an exceptionally good hunter and kept killing things to lay their mutilated body parts throughout the house as gifts of goodwill. Like once she left the butt of a squirrel in my daughter's closet and its brain on the floor by my bed. "Oh, wow! Squirrel brain! Thank you, Petal!" I had to coo as I scraped the organs off my rug, because Lord, if you did not appreciate her gifts, that cat could explode like a loaded cigar. If she caught sight of me tossing her presents in the garbage, she'd curl up and hiss like a cobra for hours afterward, batting at my ankles every time I walked by.

The transition from mild-mannered Jethro to this sweet, prolific predator was a hard one, but then I put the bell on Petal's collar so the otherwise unsuspecting woodland creatures could be alerted to her stalking, murderous little feline intentions and run away before she could kill them. It worked pretty well, and the sound of that bell came to kind of represent Petal, as everywhere she went she left a trail of cheerful chimes in her wake. It went well with her sprite little tortoise-shell body as she darted about in her unsuccessful attempts to slaughter more offerings for me. It was like having my own little demonic house fairy.

Petal had come to us as an adolescent in a parking lot in Cabbagetown, just walked right up and jumped into my car as I opened the door, like I was her personal valet. I tried to shoo her away, but then my 4-year-old daughter reminded me that, after Jethro died, I had promised her we wouldn't need to go pick another cat because our next cat would pick us. So there was no going back after that. Petal had picked us, and you can't turn back a cat who makes an honest woman out of you in the eyes of your child.

So thank God Mae was away when I found Petal yesterday. As I said, it wasn't unusual that Petal didn't come when I called, but the silence was. The air was empty. So I investigated and found her just lying there like any cat would normally lie anywhere. She wouldn't have looked dead if it were anyone but me looking at her. But it was me and I just knew. I touched her fur, which was still warm, but it wasn't the fur of a live Petal. Somehow in that short time, it had already transitioned.

Normally I'd be hesitant to pick up a dead cat, but this was sprite little Petal. For example, I have never seen a cat hug a human being before, but at night that cat would lay her silky body along my chest and put her arms around my neck, prattling like a little kitten stole, warm and breathing. So if you live on my block, I apologize for all that bawling I did while clutching a dead cat in my driveway last night. It's just that picking her up like that made her little bell keep ringing like she was still alive, which she had been just moments before, it seemed, and the transition was a little hard is all.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4668) "God, but digging a shallow grave is exhausting. I don't see how serial killers do it. Not that I aspire, it's just that this was one of the many thoughts going through my brain as I buried my cat Petal in the back yard this morning, along with the question of what could have killed her, because when I found her lying in the leaves next to my trailer, I couldn't find any overt signs of what might have caused her death.

I can't blame Lary, because Lary doesn't kill cats. But I will blame him for being out of town and therefore unavailable to plant Petal in the big bay of bamboo behind his warehouse where he keeps all his other dead bodies. Jethro the magical cat is buried back there, too, or so I choose to believe. I couldn't watch, because the transition to a Jethro-less house had been hard enough, so I just gave Lary the box from the vet with Jethro's frozen carcass inside and walked away after making Lary swear he'd do the honors. He swore he'd do the honors, so I have to leave it at that. But for all I know, he took up amateur taxidermy again.

I thought about taking Petal to the vet for a feline autopsy, because why does a young, perfectly healthy-seeming cat frolic through the dogwoods one minute and croak like a stroke victim the next? Not that I was there when it happened or even know exactly what happened, though I think I did have a psychic premonition, or whatever it is you have when something bad happens to something you love. Basically, she didn't come when I called, which isn't that unusual, but this time felt different.

Maybe it was the bell. The bell on Petal's collar was put there because she was an exceptionally good hunter and kept killing things to lay their mutilated body parts throughout the house as gifts of goodwill. Like once she left the butt of a squirrel in my daughter's closet and its brain on the floor by my bed. "Oh, wow! Squirrel brain! ''Thank you, Petal!''" I had to coo as I scraped the organs off my rug, because Lord, if you did not appreciate her gifts, that cat could explode like a loaded cigar. If she caught sight of me tossing her presents in the garbage, she'd curl up and hiss like a cobra for hours afterward, batting at my ankles every time I walked by.

__The transition__ from mild-mannered Jethro to this sweet, prolific predator was a hard one, but then I put the bell on Petal's collar so the otherwise unsuspecting woodland creatures could be alerted to her stalking, murderous little feline intentions and run away before she could kill them. It worked pretty well, and the sound of that bell came to kind of represent Petal, as everywhere she went she left a trail of cheerful chimes in her wake. It went well with her sprite little tortoise-shell body as she darted about in her unsuccessful attempts to slaughter more offerings for me. It was like having my own little demonic house fairy.

Petal had come to us as an adolescent in a parking lot in Cabbagetown, just walked right up and jumped into my car as I opened the door, like I was her personal valet. I tried to shoo her away, but then my 4-year-old daughter reminded me that, after Jethro died, I had promised her we wouldn't need to go pick another cat because our next cat would pick us. So there was no going back after that. Petal had picked us, and you can't turn back a cat who makes an honest woman out of you in the eyes of your child.

So thank God Mae was away when I found Petal yesterday. As I said, it wasn't unusual that Petal didn't come when I called, but the silence was. The air was empty. So I investigated and found her just lying there like any cat would normally lie anywhere. She wouldn't have looked dead if it were anyone but me looking at her. But it was me and I just knew. I touched her fur, which was still warm, but it wasn't the fur of a live Petal. Somehow in that short time, it had already transitioned.

Normally I'd be hesitant to pick up a dead cat, but this was sprite little Petal. For example, I have never seen a cat hug a human being before, but at night that cat would lay her silky body along my chest and put her arms around my neck, prattling like a little kitten stole, warm and breathing. So if you live on my block, I apologize for all that bawling I did while clutching a dead cat in my driveway last night. It's just that picking her up like that made her little bell keep ringing like she was still alive, which she had been just moments before, it seemed, and the transition was a little hard is all.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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I can't blame Lary, because Lary doesn't kill cats. But I will blame him for being out of town and therefore unavailable to plant Petal in the big bay of bamboo behind his warehouse where he keeps all his other dead bodies. Jethro the magical cat is buried back there, too, or so I choose to believe. I couldn't watch, because the transition to a Jethro-less house had been hard enough, so I just gave Lary the box from the vet with Jethro's frozen carcass inside and walked away after making Lary swear he'd do the honors. He swore he'd do the honors, so I have to leave it at that. But for all I know, he took up amateur taxidermy again.

I thought about taking Petal to the vet for a feline autopsy, because why does a young, perfectly healthy-seeming cat frolic through the dogwoods one minute and croak like a stroke victim the next? Not that I was there when it happened or even know exactly what happened, though I think I did have a psychic premonition, or whatever it is you have when something bad happens to something you love. Basically, she didn't come when I called, which isn't that unusual, but this time felt different.

Maybe it was the bell. The bell on Petal's collar was put there because she was an exceptionally good hunter and kept killing things to lay their mutilated body parts throughout the house as gifts of goodwill. Like once she left the butt of a squirrel in my daughter's closet and its brain on the floor by my bed. "Oh, wow! Squirrel brain! Thank you, Petal!" I had to coo as I scraped the organs off my rug, because Lord, if you did not appreciate her gifts, that cat could explode like a loaded cigar. If she caught sight of me tossing her presents in the garbage, she'd curl up and hiss like a cobra for hours afterward, batting at my ankles every time I walked by.

The transition from mild-mannered Jethro to this sweet, prolific predator was a hard one, but then I put the bell on Petal's collar so the otherwise unsuspecting woodland creatures could be alerted to her stalking, murderous little feline intentions and run away before she could kill them. It worked pretty well, and the sound of that bell came to kind of represent Petal, as everywhere she went she left a trail of cheerful chimes in her wake. It went well with her sprite little tortoise-shell body as she darted about in her unsuccessful attempts to slaughter more offerings for me. It was like having my own little demonic house fairy.

Petal had come to us as an adolescent in a parking lot in Cabbagetown, just walked right up and jumped into my car as I opened the door, like I was her personal valet. I tried to shoo her away, but then my 4-year-old daughter reminded me that, after Jethro died, I had promised her we wouldn't need to go pick another cat because our next cat would pick us. So there was no going back after that. Petal had picked us, and you can't turn back a cat who makes an honest woman out of you in the eyes of your child.

So thank God Mae was away when I found Petal yesterday. As I said, it wasn't unusual that Petal didn't come when I called, but the silence was. The air was empty. So I investigated and found her just lying there like any cat would normally lie anywhere. She wouldn't have looked dead if it were anyone but me looking at her. But it was me and I just knew. I touched her fur, which was still warm, but it wasn't the fur of a live Petal. Somehow in that short time, it had already transitioned.

Normally I'd be hesitant to pick up a dead cat, but this was sprite little Petal. For example, I have never seen a cat hug a human being before, but at night that cat would lay her silky body along my chest and put her arms around my neck, prattling like a little kitten stole, warm and breathing. So if you live on my block, I apologize for all that bawling I did while clutching a dead cat in my driveway last night. It's just that picking her up like that made her little bell keep ringing like she was still alive, which she had been just moments before, it seemed, and the transition was a little hard is all.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026503 1271714                          Moodswing - Hard transition "
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Moodswing

Wednesday January 23, 2008 12:04 am EST
Farewell to Petal | more...

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  string(4495) "I will never forget the first memory I told myself never to forget. It happened while my sisters and I were visiting a neighbor with my mother to apologize for my thieving ways because I had stolen a necklace from their household the night before.

I was 5, and had pocketed the necklace as I was carousing through their house with their kids as our parents boozed it up in the living room. We left when my dad got drunk enough to start insulting my mother in front of company. The next day my mother saw the necklace on me and asked where I got it, and since I had not learned to spin effectual yarns just yet, I told a very ineffectual one instead, which my mother saw through like it was cellophane. Instantly she had my friend's father on the phone to say we'd be right over to make a big display of apology.

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Anyway, while we were there making a big display of apology to our neighbor, my little sister Kim, who evidently thought she could fly, began to remove her blue turtleneck all of a sudden. "Fly, fly, fly," she kept saying. Turtlenecks, I suppose, are not aerodynamic. She had almost gotten it all the way off before my mother dove over the ottoman to stop her.

"Let her fly," the man laughed.

And that is the image I told myself never to forget, that of my mother diving over an ottoman to keep my sister from stripping, and our nice neighbor laughing to let her fly, because it just so happens that seconds beforehand I'd had the revelation that I could make memories, and to demonstrate it to myself I swore I'd memorize the next instant forever, and the next instant my mother dove over the ottoman. It has no significance other than it happens to be the first memory I told myself to keep after I realized I had the power to keep them.

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"Wow," my mother exclaimed reverently, which was unusual. I'd never seen my mother act reverently to anyone, but this man had been very gracious in the face of our big display of apology, so the least we could do was act impressed with his pieces of workmanship. My mother picked one up and said, "I could never carve a bird."

"Sure, you can," the man said. "You just take a hunk of wood, visualize the bird in your mind, then cut away anything that isn't the bird."

This must have been meant to be a joke, because my mother laughed like she was watching the "Carol Burnett Show." Then we went home and I never, ever, not once, saw that man again, though years later I would find one of these birds in my mother's effects. I don't know whether my mother had stolen it or received it as a gift, and she wasn't around to tell me, but I do remember that after the man told her how to carve a bird, she in turn told my father if he ever insulted her again she'd leave him in the dust like a dead bush. They had a huge fight after that, but she stuck her ground, and looking back I wonder sometimes if my mother hadn't learned to carve a bird for herself after all, if she hadn't visualized what she wanted and proceeded to cut away anything that wasn't in that picture. Let her fly, the man had laughed. So my mother flew. This is not exactly the memory I told myself never to forget, but I remember it anyway for no particular reason.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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I was 5, and had pocketed the necklace as I was carousing through their house with their kids as our parents boozed it up in the living room. We left when my dad got drunk enough to start insulting my mother in front of company. The next day my mother saw the necklace on me and asked where I got it, and since I had not learned to spin effectual yarns just yet, I told a very ineffectual one instead, which my mother saw through like it was cellophane. Instantly she had my friend's father on the phone to say we'd be right over to make a big display of apology.

Lord, I did not know what the big deal was. The necklace was just a charm in the shape of a small beer barrel on a thin silver chain, and even at 5 I knew that if you value something you don't leave it sitting under the bed with cat hair clinging to it. And what's worse is that my mother was a complete klepto herself. She stole ashtrays from Sambo's coffee shop all the time. We had them all over our house, with the logo of the little Nigerian boy being chased by a tiger, and our kitchen dish towel was actually a bath mat taken from a Holiday Inn the summer before. But like all kleptos, my mother kept her own credo; only steal stuff from places that probably won't miss it until after you're gone. The apology is not exactly the memory I told myself never to forget, by the way, I just remember it anyway for no particular reason.

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"Let her fly," the man laughed.

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"Wow," my mother exclaimed reverently, which was unusual. I'd never seen my mother act reverently to anyone, but this man had been very gracious in the face of our big display of apology, so the least we could do was act impressed with his pieces of workmanship. My mother picked one up and said, "I could never carve a bird."

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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I was 5, and had pocketed the necklace as I was carousing through their house with their kids as our parents boozed it up in the living room. We left when my dad got drunk enough to start insulting my mother in front of company. The next day my mother saw the necklace on me and asked where I got it, and since I had not learned to spin effectual yarns just yet, I told a very ineffectual one instead, which my mother saw through like it was cellophane. Instantly she had my friend's father on the phone to say we'd be right over to make a big display of apology.

Lord, I did not know what the big deal was. The necklace was just a charm in the shape of a small beer barrel on a thin silver chain, and even at 5 I knew that if you value something you don't leave it sitting under the bed with cat hair clinging to it. And what's worse is that my mother was a complete klepto herself. She stole ashtrays from Sambo's coffee shop all the time. We had them all over our house, with the logo of the little Nigerian boy being chased by a tiger, and our kitchen dish towel was actually a bath mat taken from a Holiday Inn the summer before. But like all kleptos, my mother kept her own credo; only steal stuff from places that probably won't miss it until after you're gone. The apology is not exactly the memory I told myself never to forget, by the way, I just remember it anyway for no particular reason.

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"Let her fly," the man laughed.

And that is the image I told myself never to forget, that of my mother diving over an ottoman to keep my sister from stripping, and our nice neighbor laughing to let her fly, because it just so happens that seconds beforehand I'd had the revelation that I could make memories, and to demonstrate it to myself I swore I'd memorize the next instant forever, and the next instant my mother dove over the ottoman. It has no significance other than it happens to be the first memory I told myself to keep after I realized I had the power to keep them.

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"Wow," my mother exclaimed reverently, which was unusual. I'd never seen my mother act reverently to anyone, but this man had been very gracious in the face of our big display of apology, so the least we could do was act impressed with his pieces of workmanship. My mother picked one up and said, "I could never carve a bird."

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This must have been meant to be a joke, because my mother laughed like she was watching the "Carol Burnett Show." Then we went home and I never, ever, not once, saw that man again, though years later I would find one of these birds in my mother's effects. I don't know whether my mother had stolen it or received it as a gift, and she wasn't around to tell me, but I do remember that after the man told her how to carve a bird, she in turn told my father if he ever insulted her again she'd leave him in the dust like a dead bush. They had a huge fight after that, but she stuck her ground, and looking back I wonder sometimes if my mother hadn't learned to carve a bird for herself after all, if she hadn't visualized what she wanted and proceeded to cut away anything that wasn't in that picture. Let her fly, the man had laughed. So my mother flew. This is not exactly the memory I told myself never to forget, but I remember it anyway for no particular reason.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026439 1271584                          Moodswing - How to carve a bird "
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Moodswing

Wednesday January 16, 2008 12:04 am EST
Remembering the power to make memories | more...
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  string(4846) "My floor buffer and I are in battle. Well, it's not exactly my floor buffer. I rented it from Home Depot during a moment of characteristic indecisiveness.

"Are you completely refinishing your floors or just polishing them?" the associate asked.

Lord Christ, what does he mean by completely refinish? I hate to do anything completely. The wood floors at my rental house are 68 years old, and my real-estate agent Ramiro told me that if I wanted to sell the place, I'd need to pull up the carpet and refinish the floors. But once you pull up carpet, you're kinda committed to what's underneath. So before I jumped in whole hog, I decided to just pull up the carpet in the living room to see how it looked in that patch alone.

It did not look good. But what do I know about how 68-year-old wood floors are supposed to look when they've been sitting under carpet for who knows how long? I keep thinking of that mummy they pulled out of a glacier more than a decade ago that caused such a stir. "Wonderfully preserved," everybody said, when to me it looked like he'd been crapped out the ass of a diseased mastodon. Still, the mummy sparked a field day of speculation on how he might have died. Did he die in battle? Was he felled by the arrow of a rival warrior? Whatever happened to him, it's believed he escaped the battle and died at a distance after arranging his equipment next to him in a neat pile. "A fascinating specimen," scientists genuflected, thrilled because they had their own criteria and the mummy met it.

I was hoping maybe home buyers were like that, too. I know most want everything to be shiny and new and smelling of putty, and there are others who love things to be "wonderfully preserved." My friend once bought a house where the hardwood floors had been used as a collective toilet by all the neighborhood crack whores, yet he bought it because it still had half a historic fireplace mantle that remained "wonderfully preserved." My rental house doesn't exactly qualify as historic, what with it only being 68 years old, but the wood floors kinda look like they'd been crapped out the ass of a diseased mastodon, so maybe that was a good thing.

"I think I'm just going to polish them," I told the Home Depot associate, who then explained the different grades of buffer pads I had to choose from. Evidently there are as many kinds of buffer pads as there are particles of silt that had matriculated through my old carpet and then fused with foot sweat and spilled beer to create the dried paste that now needed to be scraped up from the floor boards. So I simply picked the pad that was the most sandpapery of textures without it being actual sandpaper, because if it were actual sandpaper then I would be completely refinishing the floors, and I'm not ready to commit to that.

"Make sure you have the handle locked and you brace it against your leg before you turn it on," the Home Depot guy said, showing me the little switch, "otherwise the whole process is pretty hopeless."

A floor buffer looks like the kind of metal detector geriatrics use when they hunt for watches that fell from the pockets of spring breakers who copulate on the beach, only the buffer is enormous and made from melted communist statues. And it spins.

To get the thing to my property, I practically had to hook it to my bumper and tow it there. Once inside the house, I plugged it in and flipped the switch. The only thing is I forgot to lock the handle and brace it against my leg like the Home Depot guy advised me, and all I have to say is this: If a Home Depot guy ever uses the words "lock and brace" to you in a sentence regarding a piece of equipment, I suggest you put the piece of equipment down, surround it with flares and flag people away.

Because the amount of destruction that buffer did with the simple flipping of a switch was awe-inspiring. With the simple flipping of a switch, the buffer drum spun with the speed of a boat propeller, causing the whole contraption to spring from my fingers and hit the wall with the velocity of an airplane crash. I tried again a number of times, but no amount of bracing and locking could control it. Unfailingly, when I flipped the switch, the buffer would fly out of my hands and then around the room, crashing into things, including me, which was akin to getting hit by a wrecking ball. In the end, the buffer did nothing but beat the hell out of me and everything else in the room. Finally I simply decided to escape the battle and crawl, bleeding, to a distant corner. There I lay quietly, my equipment arranged next to me in a neat pile. Maybe the discovery of my remains will cause a stir, I thought. Maybe I will be considered a fascinating specimen.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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"Are you completely refinishing your floors or just polishing them?" the associate asked.

Lord Christ, what does he mean by ''completely'' refinish? I hate to do anything completely. The wood floors at my rental house are 68 years old, and my real-estate agent Ramiro told me that if I wanted to sell the place, I'd need to pull up the carpet and refinish the floors. But once you pull up carpet, you're kinda committed to what's underneath. So before I jumped in whole hog, I decided to just pull up the carpet in the living room to see how it looked in that patch alone.

It did not look good. But what do I know about how 68-year-old wood floors are supposed to look when they've been sitting under carpet for who knows how long? I keep thinking of that mummy they pulled out of a glacier more than a decade ago that caused such a stir. "Wonderfully preserved," everybody said, when to me it looked like he'd been crapped out the ass of a diseased mastodon. Still, the mummy sparked a field day of speculation on how he might have died. Did he die in battle? Was he felled by the arrow of a rival warrior? Whatever happened to him, it's believed he escaped the battle and died at a distance after arranging his equipment next to him in a neat pile. "A fascinating specimen," scientists genuflected, thrilled because they had their own criteria and the mummy met it.

__I was hoping__ maybe home buyers were like that, too. I know most want everything to be shiny and new and smelling of putty, and there are others who love things to be "wonderfully preserved." My friend once bought a house where the hardwood floors had been used as a collective toilet by all the neighborhood crack whores, yet he bought it because it still had half a historic fireplace mantle that remained "wonderfully preserved." My rental house doesn't exactly qualify as historic, what with it only being 68 years old, but the wood floors kinda look like they'd been crapped out the ass of a diseased mastodon, so maybe that was a good thing.

"I think I'm just going to polish them," I told the Home Depot associate, who then explained the different grades of buffer pads I had to choose from. Evidently there are as many kinds of buffer pads as there are particles of silt that had matriculated through my old carpet and then fused with foot sweat and spilled beer to create the dried paste that now needed to be scraped up from the floor boards. So I simply picked the pad that was the most sandpapery of textures without it being actual sandpaper, because if it were actual sandpaper then I would be completely refinishing the floors, and I'm not ready to commit to that.

"Make sure you have the handle locked and you brace it against your leg before you turn it on," the Home Depot guy said, showing me the little switch, "otherwise the whole process is pretty hopeless."

A floor buffer looks like the kind of metal detector geriatrics use when they hunt for watches that fell from the pockets of spring breakers who copulate on the beach, only the buffer is enormous and made from melted communist statues. And it spins.

To get the thing to my property, I practically had to hook it to my bumper and tow it there. Once inside the house, I plugged it in and flipped the switch. The only thing is I forgot to lock the handle and brace it against my leg like the Home Depot guy advised me, and all I have to say is this: If a Home Depot guy ever uses the words "lock and brace" to you in a sentence regarding a piece of equipment, I suggest you put the piece of equipment down, surround it with flares and flag people away.

Because the amount of destruction that buffer did with the simple flipping of a switch was awe-inspiring. With the simple flipping of a switch, the buffer drum spun with the speed of a boat propeller, causing the whole contraption to spring from my fingers and hit the wall with the velocity of an airplane crash. I tried again a number of times, but no amount of bracing and locking could control it. Unfailingly, when I flipped the switch, the buffer would fly out of my hands and then around the room, crashing into things, including me, which was akin to getting hit by a wrecking ball. In the end, the buffer did nothing but beat the hell out of me and everything else in the room. Finally I simply decided to escape the battle and crawl, bleeding, to a distant corner. There I lay quietly, my equipment arranged next to me in a neat pile. Maybe the discovery of my remains will cause a stir, I thought. Maybe I will be considered a fascinating specimen.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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"Are you completely refinishing your floors or just polishing them?" the associate asked.

Lord Christ, what does he mean by completely refinish? I hate to do anything completely. The wood floors at my rental house are 68 years old, and my real-estate agent Ramiro told me that if I wanted to sell the place, I'd need to pull up the carpet and refinish the floors. But once you pull up carpet, you're kinda committed to what's underneath. So before I jumped in whole hog, I decided to just pull up the carpet in the living room to see how it looked in that patch alone.

It did not look good. But what do I know about how 68-year-old wood floors are supposed to look when they've been sitting under carpet for who knows how long? I keep thinking of that mummy they pulled out of a glacier more than a decade ago that caused such a stir. "Wonderfully preserved," everybody said, when to me it looked like he'd been crapped out the ass of a diseased mastodon. Still, the mummy sparked a field day of speculation on how he might have died. Did he die in battle? Was he felled by the arrow of a rival warrior? Whatever happened to him, it's believed he escaped the battle and died at a distance after arranging his equipment next to him in a neat pile. "A fascinating specimen," scientists genuflected, thrilled because they had their own criteria and the mummy met it.

I was hoping maybe home buyers were like that, too. I know most want everything to be shiny and new and smelling of putty, and there are others who love things to be "wonderfully preserved." My friend once bought a house where the hardwood floors had been used as a collective toilet by all the neighborhood crack whores, yet he bought it because it still had half a historic fireplace mantle that remained "wonderfully preserved." My rental house doesn't exactly qualify as historic, what with it only being 68 years old, but the wood floors kinda look like they'd been crapped out the ass of a diseased mastodon, so maybe that was a good thing.

"I think I'm just going to polish them," I told the Home Depot associate, who then explained the different grades of buffer pads I had to choose from. Evidently there are as many kinds of buffer pads as there are particles of silt that had matriculated through my old carpet and then fused with foot sweat and spilled beer to create the dried paste that now needed to be scraped up from the floor boards. So I simply picked the pad that was the most sandpapery of textures without it being actual sandpaper, because if it were actual sandpaper then I would be completely refinishing the floors, and I'm not ready to commit to that.

"Make sure you have the handle locked and you brace it against your leg before you turn it on," the Home Depot guy said, showing me the little switch, "otherwise the whole process is pretty hopeless."

A floor buffer looks like the kind of metal detector geriatrics use when they hunt for watches that fell from the pockets of spring breakers who copulate on the beach, only the buffer is enormous and made from melted communist statues. And it spins.

To get the thing to my property, I practically had to hook it to my bumper and tow it there. Once inside the house, I plugged it in and flipped the switch. The only thing is I forgot to lock the handle and brace it against my leg like the Home Depot guy advised me, and all I have to say is this: If a Home Depot guy ever uses the words "lock and brace" to you in a sentence regarding a piece of equipment, I suggest you put the piece of equipment down, surround it with flares and flag people away.

Because the amount of destruction that buffer did with the simple flipping of a switch was awe-inspiring. With the simple flipping of a switch, the buffer drum spun with the speed of a boat propeller, causing the whole contraption to spring from my fingers and hit the wall with the velocity of an airplane crash. I tried again a number of times, but no amount of bracing and locking could control it. Unfailingly, when I flipped the switch, the buffer would fly out of my hands and then around the room, crashing into things, including me, which was akin to getting hit by a wrecking ball. In the end, the buffer did nothing but beat the hell out of me and everything else in the room. Finally I simply decided to escape the battle and crawl, bleeding, to a distant corner. There I lay quietly, my equipment arranged next to me in a neat pile. Maybe the discovery of my remains will cause a stir, I thought. Maybe I will be considered a fascinating specimen.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026392 1271482                          Moodswing - A fascinating specimen "
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Moodswing

Wednesday January 9, 2008 12:04 am EST
A felled warrior at the Battle of the Buffer | more...
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  string(29) "Moodswing - Stairway to seven"
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  string(4716) "Even though I'm fairly certain Lary is homicidal, I bet one of the reasons I keep liking him so much is that he sort of looks like Led Zeppelin's lead singer Robert Plant. In fact, I think the first argument I ever had with Lary was about the Zeppelin song "Stairway to Heaven." It had been out more than two decades, and during that time I'd gone through seven stages of loving it and hating it and then back again, and Lary happened upon me during Stage Six, which was the strongest of the hate stages.

"Are you insane?" Lary hollered. "How could you hate Led Zeppelin?"

At that, of course, I had to refrain from impaling his curly blond brain on a rusty crowbar. Instead, I exhaled and said with commendable evenness, "I did not say I hate Led Zeppelin, you total tampon. I said I hate 'Stairway to Heaven.' It's just a bunch of pretty words stuck together to get you to open up and let stuff in."

Lary countered with a passionate pro-"Stairway" argument, and normally I would have been surprised, because until then I thought Lary was only passionate about things like amateur taxidermy and objects that could detonate, but I was too busy reeling from having been accused of hating Led Zeppelin, when the truth is I had been a Zeppelinophile since I was 7 and heard their first album. I used to lay my actual ear on the actual speaker of my sister's plastic Imperial Party-Time Turntable in an attempt to mainline the music straight into my brain – that's how much I loved Led Zeppelin. In fact, I did not just love Led Zeppelin; Led Zeppelin was my first love. Then when I heard "Stairway to Heaven," I loved it so much I begged my mother to pull over and stop the car because I craved a complete absence of any other stimuli that could compete with the sound of it on the radio. So I would call this Stage One.

Then I took to singing all the words like I knew what they meant. I would interrupt my friends during our daily acts of pyromania to discuss the lyrics. "'In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,' see?" I'd pontificate. "'And it makes me wonder.'" I would call this Stage Two.

Then seven years later I hated the song because people were saying it contained hidden satanic chants, and at that time I didn't want to further tempt Lucifer, seeing as how I was certain he'd already possessed me after I accidentally read The Exorcist, which was sitting on my mother's nightstand, opened like a bottle of prescription painkillers. I would call this Stage Three.

Then I loved it again and ruined my turntable trying to play it backward so I could hear the satanic chants everybody was bloviating about in middle school. "I can hear it!" I squealed. But in the end you hear what you want to hear, and like any misanthropic teenager proud of her carefully cultivated sense of antisocialism, I wanted to fit in. "I can hear it!" I squealed. I would call this Stage Four.

Then there was a long period where I simply hated the song with the force of 50 erupting volcanoes. It turned out that, after repeated inspection, the words meant nothing after all: "And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason." "What the fuck does that mean?" I griped, inhaling my fourth Marlboro of the morning. And what the hell is a hedgerow? This I would call Stage Five.

Then seven years later I didn't just hate the song, I was pissed at it. Not only did it disillusion me, it insulted me and made me loathe my impressionable younger self. I bought all those pretty words, didn't I? I swallowed it all, didn't I? The bait and the boat in one big gulp. "Dear Lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know your stairway lies on the whispering wind?" God, what bigger bag of bunk was there than these words? They were just there to serve as a wedge to get me to open up and let stuff in. Never again. Never. I would call this Stage Six.

Now my own daughter is 7, and sometimes she sings along to songs on our CD player with such an absolute lack of insecurity that it reminds me there was once a time when I loved the sound of something so much I used to sit with my face fused to the speaker of a plastic turntable. So I love the song again, and the unrelenting crescendo of its melody, and sometimes I simply let it play over and over as I lay listening with my arms outstretched. The words are still bunk, but sometimes words aren't the point. Sometimes words are just there to serve as a wedge so you'll open up and let stuff in. And this is what I would call reaching the top of the stairway to seven. Stairway to Seven.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4782) "Even though I'm fairly certain Lary is homicidal, I bet one of the reasons I keep liking him so much is that he sort of looks like Led Zeppelin's lead singer Robert Plant. In fact, I think the first argument I ever had with Lary was about the Zeppelin song "Stairway to Heaven." It had been out more than two decades, and during that time I'd gone through seven stages of loving it and hating it and then back again, and Lary happened upon me during Stage Six, which was the strongest of the hate stages.

"Are you ''insane''?" Lary hollered. "How could you hate Led Zeppelin?"

At that, of course, I had to refrain from impaling his curly blond brain on a rusty crowbar. Instead, I exhaled and said with commendable evenness, "I did not say I hate Led Zeppelin, you total tampon. I said I hate 'Stairway to Heaven.' It's just a bunch of pretty words stuck together to get you to open up and let stuff in."

Lary countered with a passionate pro-"Stairway" argument, and normally I would have been surprised, because until then I thought Lary was only passionate about things like amateur taxidermy and objects that could detonate, but I was too busy reeling from having been accused of hating Led Zeppelin, when the truth is I had been a Zeppelinophile since I was 7 and heard their first album. I used to lay my actual ear on the actual speaker of my sister's plastic Imperial Party-Time Turntable in an attempt to mainline the music straight into my brain – that's how much I loved Led Zeppelin. In fact, I did not just love Led Zeppelin; Led Zeppelin was my ''first'' love. Then when I heard "Stairway to Heaven," I loved it so much I begged my mother to pull over and stop the car because I craved a complete absence of any other stimuli that could compete with the sound of it on the radio. So I would call this Stage One.

__Then I took__ to singing all the words like I knew what they meant. I would interrupt my friends during our daily acts of pyromania to discuss the lyrics. "'In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,' see?" I'd pontificate. "'And it makes me wonder.'" I would call this Stage Two.

Then seven years later I hated the song because people were saying it contained hidden satanic chants, and at that time I didn't want to further tempt Lucifer, seeing as how I was certain he'd already possessed me after I accidentally read ''The Exorcist'', which was sitting on my mother's nightstand, opened like a bottle of prescription painkillers. I would call this Stage Three.

Then I loved it again and ruined my turntable trying to play it backward so I could hear the satanic chants everybody was bloviating about in middle school. "I can hear it!" I squealed. But in the end you hear what you want to hear, and like any misanthropic teenager proud of her carefully cultivated sense of antisocialism, I wanted to fit in. "I can hear it!" I squealed. I would call this Stage Four.

Then there was a long period where I simply hated the song with the force of 50 erupting volcanoes. It turned out that, after repeated inspection, the words meant nothing after all: "And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason." "What the fuck does ''that'' mean?" I griped, inhaling my fourth Marlboro of the morning. And what the hell is a ''hedgerow''? This I would call Stage Five.

Then seven years later I didn't just hate the song, I was pissed at it. Not only did it disillusion me, it insulted me and made me loathe my impressionable younger self. I bought all those pretty words, didn't I? I swallowed it all, didn't I? The bait and the boat in one big gulp. "Dear Lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know your stairway lies on the whispering wind?" God, what bigger bag of bunk was there than these words? They were just there to serve as a wedge to get me to open up and let stuff in. Never again. ''Never''. I would call this Stage Six.

Now my own daughter is 7, and sometimes she sings along to songs on our CD player with such an absolute lack of insecurity that it reminds me there was once a time when I loved the sound of something so much I used to sit with my face fused to the speaker of a plastic turntable. So I love the song again, and the unrelenting crescendo of its melody, and sometimes I simply let it play over and over as I lay listening with my arms outstretched. The words are still bunk, but sometimes words aren't the point. Sometimes words are just there to serve as a wedge so you'll open up and let stuff in. And this is what I would call reaching the top of the stairway to seven. Stairway to Seven.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4942) "    Seven stages of Zeppelin   2008-01-02T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Stairway to seven   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2008-01-02T05:04:00+00:00  Even though I'm fairly certain Lary is homicidal, I bet one of the reasons I keep liking him so much is that he sort of looks like Led Zeppelin's lead singer Robert Plant. In fact, I think the first argument I ever had with Lary was about the Zeppelin song "Stairway to Heaven." It had been out more than two decades, and during that time I'd gone through seven stages of loving it and hating it and then back again, and Lary happened upon me during Stage Six, which was the strongest of the hate stages.

"Are you insane?" Lary hollered. "How could you hate Led Zeppelin?"

At that, of course, I had to refrain from impaling his curly blond brain on a rusty crowbar. Instead, I exhaled and said with commendable evenness, "I did not say I hate Led Zeppelin, you total tampon. I said I hate 'Stairway to Heaven.' It's just a bunch of pretty words stuck together to get you to open up and let stuff in."

Lary countered with a passionate pro-"Stairway" argument, and normally I would have been surprised, because until then I thought Lary was only passionate about things like amateur taxidermy and objects that could detonate, but I was too busy reeling from having been accused of hating Led Zeppelin, when the truth is I had been a Zeppelinophile since I was 7 and heard their first album. I used to lay my actual ear on the actual speaker of my sister's plastic Imperial Party-Time Turntable in an attempt to mainline the music straight into my brain – that's how much I loved Led Zeppelin. In fact, I did not just love Led Zeppelin; Led Zeppelin was my first love. Then when I heard "Stairway to Heaven," I loved it so much I begged my mother to pull over and stop the car because I craved a complete absence of any other stimuli that could compete with the sound of it on the radio. So I would call this Stage One.

Then I took to singing all the words like I knew what they meant. I would interrupt my friends during our daily acts of pyromania to discuss the lyrics. "'In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,' see?" I'd pontificate. "'And it makes me wonder.'" I would call this Stage Two.

Then seven years later I hated the song because people were saying it contained hidden satanic chants, and at that time I didn't want to further tempt Lucifer, seeing as how I was certain he'd already possessed me after I accidentally read The Exorcist, which was sitting on my mother's nightstand, opened like a bottle of prescription painkillers. I would call this Stage Three.

Then I loved it again and ruined my turntable trying to play it backward so I could hear the satanic chants everybody was bloviating about in middle school. "I can hear it!" I squealed. But in the end you hear what you want to hear, and like any misanthropic teenager proud of her carefully cultivated sense of antisocialism, I wanted to fit in. "I can hear it!" I squealed. I would call this Stage Four.

Then there was a long period where I simply hated the song with the force of 50 erupting volcanoes. It turned out that, after repeated inspection, the words meant nothing after all: "And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason." "What the fuck does that mean?" I griped, inhaling my fourth Marlboro of the morning. And what the hell is a hedgerow? This I would call Stage Five.

Then seven years later I didn't just hate the song, I was pissed at it. Not only did it disillusion me, it insulted me and made me loathe my impressionable younger self. I bought all those pretty words, didn't I? I swallowed it all, didn't I? The bait and the boat in one big gulp. "Dear Lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know your stairway lies on the whispering wind?" God, what bigger bag of bunk was there than these words? They were just there to serve as a wedge to get me to open up and let stuff in. Never again. Never. I would call this Stage Six.

Now my own daughter is 7, and sometimes she sings along to songs on our CD player with such an absolute lack of insecurity that it reminds me there was once a time when I loved the sound of something so much I used to sit with my face fused to the speaker of a plastic turntable. So I love the song again, and the unrelenting crescendo of its melody, and sometimes I simply let it play over and over as I lay listening with my arms outstretched. The words are still bunk, but sometimes words aren't the point. Sometimes words are just there to serve as a wedge so you'll open up and let stuff in. And this is what I would call reaching the top of the stairway to seven. Stairway to Seven.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026350 1271397                          Moodswing - Stairway to seven "
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Moodswing

Wednesday January 2, 2008 12:04 am EST
Seven stages of Zeppelin | more...
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I don't know what possessed my brother to buy the record. He was not into rock music. In fact, until the week prior, he had been an avid disciple of the Jehovah's Witnesses who lived in our neighborhood. Their coven mother had knocked on our door soon after we moved there, and must have thought she hit a trifecta, what with my brother's youth, his impressionability and the fact that our parents were going through a period of leniency in regard to our influences at that time. This was due to the fact that my mother was away in Washington designing bombs for the government and my dad spent all his waking hours at the Tin Lizzy, a neighborhood bar he loved because he could walk in and holler, "Who's the head nigger in charge?" without his friend LeRoy the line cook throwing a punch, or at least not one in his direction.

Anyway, Jim was an avid Jehovah's Witness for exactly as long as it took him to learn that this religion precluded him from ever receiving Christmas or birthday gifts, which is something my mother, who was an atheist but not an avid one, made sure to point out to him while she was home on one of her breaks before she had to fly back to Washington and build more bombs. So the next time the Jehovah's Witness lady came to our door, my brother politely invited her inside and then incited my sister Cheryl to throw one of her famous volcanic fits – the kind where her eyes radiated lasers, her voice growled like she had a belly full of bees and her spine coiled up like a cobra – and pretty soon the Jehovah's Witness lady was running from our house screaming about how Satan lived within our walls, or whatever.

So the next thing I know Jim brought home that Led Zeppelin album, and all I can think of is it probably had something to do with Satan living within our walls, because some of the boozers at my dad's bar said it was the devil's music, and even though my dad never listened to Led Zeppelin, he bought my brother a different album, hoping it would influence him instead. So, in short, there was actually a time when, in our entire household, there existed just two record albums, one by Led Zeppelin and the other by Hank Williams, and in our entire household there existed just one person who loved them both, and that was me.

The only thing I had to play them on was my sister's plastic Imperial Party-Time Turntable, complete with adhesive rainbow. The speaker consisted of one silver-dollar-sized area near the needle arm with 13 perforations – 13, which is sort of the symbol for Satan, kinda – through which the music would waft with as much clarity as a corrupted radio signal. The volume knob was numbered to 13 (there it is again!), which was where I'd crank it and commence convulsing to the music. One time my mother returned from the airport to find that I had placed the turntable against our open window so the music could blare into our front yard, where my 7-year-old ass could be found before a thickening crowd, flailing to the beat.

She tried yelling at me to turn off the stupid goddamn music and get my stupid goddamn puckered poohole off the lawn and stop hopping around like a goddamn retard. When that didn't work, she could hardly move onto her natural next step, which would have been to hit me in the head with her shoe, because there were neighbors present and what would they think? So she walked right past me and into the house and unplugged the turntable, which caused me to simply stop and drop to the ground as though my puppet strings had been cut.

"She's being influenced by Satan!" some of our neighbors yelled.

Later my mother asked me what it was I loved so much about the music, but I was only 7 and I couldn't explain how every chord seemed to reach inside me and inhabit my veins and awaken my limbs to the point where I had to shake and sway like a sapling in a storm. I could not explain that to her; all I could do was want to explain it to her so bad that it must have measured heavily on my face, because the next thing she did was turn the music back on. At that, I jumped up and shook my body while she shook her head as she made her way to the window and closed it, not so much so our neighbors wouldn't hear me, but so I wouldn't hear them.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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I don't know what possessed my brother to buy the record. He was not into rock music. In fact, until the week prior, he had been an avid disciple of the Jehovah's Witnesses who lived in our neighborhood. Their coven mother had knocked on our door soon after we moved there, and must have thought she hit a trifecta, what with my brother's youth, his impressionability and the fact that our parents were going through a period of leniency in regard to our influences at that time. This was due to the fact that my mother was away in Washington designing bombs for the government and my dad spent all his waking hours at the Tin Lizzy, a neighborhood bar he loved because he could walk in and holler, "Who's the head nigger in charge?" without his friend LeRoy the line cook throwing a punch, or at least not one in his direction.

Anyway, Jim was an avid Jehovah's Witness for exactly as long as it took him to learn that this religion precluded him from ever receiving Christmas or birthday gifts, which is something my mother, who was an atheist but not an avid one, made sure to point out to him while she was home on one of her breaks before she had to fly back to Washington and build more bombs. So the next time the Jehovah's Witness lady came to our door, my brother politely invited her inside and then incited my sister Cheryl to throw one of her famous volcanic fits – the kind where her eyes radiated lasers, her voice growled like she had a belly full of bees and her spine coiled up like a cobra – and pretty soon the Jehovah's Witness lady was running from our house screaming about how Satan lived within our walls, or whatever.

__So the next thing__ I know Jim brought home that Led Zeppelin album, and all I can think of is it probably had something to do with Satan living within our walls, because some of the boozers at my dad's bar said it was the devil's music, and even though my dad never listened to Led Zeppelin, he bought my brother a different album, hoping it would influence him instead. So, in short, there was actually a time when, in our entire household, there existed just two record albums, one by Led Zeppelin and the other by Hank Williams, and in our entire household there existed just one person who loved them both, and that was me.

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"She's being influenced by Satan!" some of our neighbors yelled.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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So the next thing I know Jim brought home that Led Zeppelin album, and all I can think of is it probably had something to do with Satan living within our walls, because some of the boozers at my dad's bar said it was the devil's music, and even though my dad never listened to Led Zeppelin, he bought my brother a different album, hoping it would influence him instead. So, in short, there was actually a time when, in our entire household, there existed just two record albums, one by Led Zeppelin and the other by Hank Williams, and in our entire household there existed just one person who loved them both, and that was me.

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She tried yelling at me to turn off the stupid goddamn music and get my stupid goddamn puckered poohole off the lawn and stop hopping around like a goddamn retard. When that didn't work, she could hardly move onto her natural next step, which would have been to hit me in the head with her shoe, because there were neighbors present and what would they think? So she walked right past me and into the house and unplugged the turntable, which caused me to simply stop and drop to the ground as though my puppet strings had been cut.

"She's being influenced by Satan!" some of our neighbors yelled.

Later my mother asked me what it was I loved so much about the music, but I was only 7 and I couldn't explain how every chord seemed to reach inside me and inhabit my veins and awaken my limbs to the point where I had to shake and sway like a sapling in a storm. I could not explain that to her; all I could do was want to explain it to her so bad that it must have measured heavily on my face, because the next thing she did was turn the music back on. At that, I jumped up and shook my body while she shook her head as she made her way to the window and closed it, not so much so our neighbors wouldn't hear me, but so I wouldn't hear them.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026298 1271275                          Moodswing - Satan and other influences "
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Moodswing

Wednesday December 26, 2007 12:04 am EST
Sympathy for the devil's music | more...
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  string(4538) "Daniel's mom is a Wal-Mart greeter, and I'm wondering if she can give me a company discount. Daniel and I have been friends for 500 years, so that should stand for something, not to mention those four seconds when I got her hopes up and cruelly let her think Daniel was the father of my daughter, but that was not really my fault. I can hardly help the fact that, when Mae was 1, she happened to look exactly like Daniel for some reason — the exact same hair color and texture, the same-shaped face — it was kind of eerie, and whenever we three went places together, people would joke and say stuff like, "Wow, guess I can't tell who her father is!"

And I could see Daniel was proud, because he loves kids and his gay ass is never gonna have any. So I was teasing Daniel more than anything when he handed me his phone so I could say hello to his mom that one day and I said, "Hi, Fay, did you know Mae's your grandchild?" Daniel was laughing, but I knew the instant I said it that Fay, in turn, for a second – just a split second – believed it, and in that one second, every hope in her heart poured out like an ocean of boulders.

Immediately I backpedaled. "No, I'm sorry, Fay. I was just kidding. I'm sorry."

Lord, I felt bad, because Fay is a sweet farmer's wife who led a life of hardship that only offered reprieve in the form of her two boys, whom she cherished like heirloom jewelry. She probably couldn't wait for the day she became a grandmother, but then Daniel's brother Darrell also turned out to be gay, and unfortunately, on account of how Fay raised them to be honest with themselves, they were not the kind of gay men who got married and propagated before coming to terms with their nature.

"Maybe they'll adopt," Fay said to me the next time I saw her, but she knows as well as I do that it ain't gonna happen, so instead I told her, seeing as how Mae is a grand-orphan on my side of the family, that we would adopt her as a grandmother, which brightened her spirits. "She could be your fairy grandmother," Daniel laughed. But laugh as he may, to this day Fay keeps a picture of Mae on her vanity so she can look at it every day. And she needs a new picture, I realize, because Mae's no longer a baby. In an eyeblink – just a split second – she became an adolescent.

So I'm thinking we should go visit Fay soon at her Wal-Mart, which is all the way in Lasara, Texas, but I'd sooner travel there than set foot in my own neighborhood Wal-Mart again because the last time we were there, the shirtless guy in line in front of us had his ass hanging out of his pants. All I did was mention it to him, because I know if I had my ass hanging out of my pants, it would be by accident and I would appreciate someone alerting me to it. But his response was anything but polite, so I refuse to set another foot in a store where the cashier defends a guy with his ass hanging out of his pants over someone who doesn't think it's asking too much to get through a visit in a store without a man pulling down his pants and sticking his butt in my daughter's face. Pretty much.

I'm already freaked out enough in department stores, thanks to my friend Polly, who gave me a parenting book in which the author describes a woman's adolescent son disappearing right out from under her as she was shopping for shoes. One instant he was there by her side, and the next second she was catching a glimpse of him as he was being led out a side door. That was the last time she saw her boy. Ever. In a split second he was gone. Today, when I think of that boy and his mother, my heart just breaks like a bone.

So if it were up to me and at all possible, I'd never shop anywhere ever again unless it was at a place where Fay could greet us. She could wrap us in her arms and I could give her a new photo of Mae, because Mae no longer looks like she did in the picture Fay keeps on her vanity. For example, Mae's hair is dark and a little wavy now, no longer the exact color and texture as Daniel's. And Lord has her face taken its own shape. Her eyes are so big you almost want to jump in and swim around. She looks so different now. Sometimes I go through my own baby pictures of her and caress them like little heirlooms. Here's one of her in my arms. Where did that child go? But isn't that the way it always is – one instant they're in your arms, and in a split second that baby is gone.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4582) "Daniel's mom is a Wal-Mart greeter, and I'm wondering if she can give me a company discount. Daniel and I have been friends for 500 years, so that should stand for something, not to mention those four seconds when I got her hopes up and cruelly let her think Daniel was the father of my daughter, but that was not really my fault. I can hardly help the fact that, when Mae was 1, she happened to look exactly like Daniel for some reason -- the exact same hair color and texture, the same-shaped face -- it was kind of eerie, and whenever we three went places together, people would joke and say stuff like, "Wow, guess I can't tell who ''her'' father is!"

And I could see Daniel was proud, because he loves kids and his gay ass is never gonna have any. So I was teasing Daniel more than anything when he handed me his phone so I could say hello to his mom that one day and I said, "Hi, Fay, did you know Mae's your grandchild?" Daniel was laughing, but I knew the instant I said it that Fay, in turn, for a second – just a split second – believed it, and in that one second, every hope in her heart poured out like an ocean of boulders.

Immediately I backpedaled. "No, I'm sorry, Fay. I was just kidding. I'm sorry."

Lord, I felt bad, because Fay is a sweet farmer's wife who led a life of hardship that only offered reprieve in the form of her two boys, whom she cherished like heirloom jewelry. She probably couldn't wait for the day she became a grandmother, but then Daniel's brother Darrell also turned out to be gay, and unfortunately, on account of how Fay raised them to be honest with themselves, they were not the kind of gay men who got married and propagated before coming to terms with their nature.

"Maybe they'll adopt," Fay said to me the next time I saw her, but she knows as well as I do that it ain't gonna happen, so instead I told her, seeing as how Mae is a grand-orphan on my side of the family, that we would adopt ''her'' as a grandmother, which brightened her spirits. "She could be your fairy grandmother," Daniel laughed. But laugh as he may, to this day Fay keeps a picture of Mae on her vanity so she can look at it every day. And she needs a new picture, I realize, because Mae's no longer a baby. In an eyeblink – just a split second – she became an adolescent.

__So I'm thinking__ we should go visit Fay soon at her Wal-Mart, which is all the way in Lasara, Texas, but I'd sooner travel there than set foot in my own neighborhood Wal-Mart again because the last time we were there, the shirtless guy in line in front of us had his ass hanging out of his pants. All I did was mention it to him, because I know if I had ''my'' ass hanging out of my pants, it would be by accident and I would appreciate someone alerting me to it. But his response was anything but polite, so I refuse to set another foot in a store where the cashier defends a guy with his ass hanging out of his pants over someone who doesn't think it's asking too much to get through a visit in a store without a man pulling down his pants and sticking his butt in my daughter's face. Pretty much.

I'm already freaked out enough in department stores, thanks to my friend Polly, who gave me a parenting book in which the author describes a woman's adolescent son disappearing right out from under her as she was shopping for shoes. One instant he was there by her side, and the next second she was catching a glimpse of him as he was being led out a side door. That was the last time she saw her boy. Ever. In a split second he was gone. Today, when I think of that boy and his mother, my heart just breaks like a bone.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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And I could see Daniel was proud, because he loves kids and his gay ass is never gonna have any. So I was teasing Daniel more than anything when he handed me his phone so I could say hello to his mom that one day and I said, "Hi, Fay, did you know Mae's your grandchild?" Daniel was laughing, but I knew the instant I said it that Fay, in turn, for a second – just a split second – believed it, and in that one second, every hope in her heart poured out like an ocean of boulders.

Immediately I backpedaled. "No, I'm sorry, Fay. I was just kidding. I'm sorry."

Lord, I felt bad, because Fay is a sweet farmer's wife who led a life of hardship that only offered reprieve in the form of her two boys, whom she cherished like heirloom jewelry. She probably couldn't wait for the day she became a grandmother, but then Daniel's brother Darrell also turned out to be gay, and unfortunately, on account of how Fay raised them to be honest with themselves, they were not the kind of gay men who got married and propagated before coming to terms with their nature.

"Maybe they'll adopt," Fay said to me the next time I saw her, but she knows as well as I do that it ain't gonna happen, so instead I told her, seeing as how Mae is a grand-orphan on my side of the family, that we would adopt her as a grandmother, which brightened her spirits. "She could be your fairy grandmother," Daniel laughed. But laugh as he may, to this day Fay keeps a picture of Mae on her vanity so she can look at it every day. And she needs a new picture, I realize, because Mae's no longer a baby. In an eyeblink – just a split second – she became an adolescent.

So I'm thinking we should go visit Fay soon at her Wal-Mart, which is all the way in Lasara, Texas, but I'd sooner travel there than set foot in my own neighborhood Wal-Mart again because the last time we were there, the shirtless guy in line in front of us had his ass hanging out of his pants. All I did was mention it to him, because I know if I had my ass hanging out of my pants, it would be by accident and I would appreciate someone alerting me to it. But his response was anything but polite, so I refuse to set another foot in a store where the cashier defends a guy with his ass hanging out of his pants over someone who doesn't think it's asking too much to get through a visit in a store without a man pulling down his pants and sticking his butt in my daughter's face. Pretty much.

I'm already freaked out enough in department stores, thanks to my friend Polly, who gave me a parenting book in which the author describes a woman's adolescent son disappearing right out from under her as she was shopping for shoes. One instant he was there by her side, and the next second she was catching a glimpse of him as he was being led out a side door. That was the last time she saw her boy. Ever. In a split second he was gone. Today, when I think of that boy and his mother, my heart just breaks like a bone.

So if it were up to me and at all possible, I'd never shop anywhere ever again unless it was at a place where Fay could greet us. She could wrap us in her arms and I could give her a new photo of Mae, because Mae no longer looks like she did in the picture Fay keeps on her vanity. For example, Mae's hair is dark and a little wavy now, no longer the exact color and texture as Daniel's. And Lord has her face taken its own shape. Her eyes are so big you almost want to jump in and swim around. She looks so different now. Sometimes I go through my own baby pictures of her and caress them like little heirlooms. Here's one of her in my arms. Where did that child go? But isn't that the way it always is – one instant they're in your arms, and in a split second that baby is gone.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026258 1271190                          Moodswing - A split second "
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Moodswing

Wednesday December 19, 2007 12:04 am EST
It's safest to shop with a fairy grandmother | more...
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  string(4665) "My plumber, Bear, says I have water issues, and she says this while covered in mud she dug up from my front yard in order to access the broken pipe that is the reason my water bill was bigger than my mortgage last month. She actually has the piece of pipe in her hand, with the little pinhole in it where the rust had finally corroded through after 40 years. "Major water issues," Bear reiterates.

"All that water leaked out of that tiny little pinhole?" I ask incredulously.

"That's all it takes," she says.

I would marry Bear if it didn't promise to be such a complicated union, the biggest obstacles being that she already has a wife and I'm not gay. So I'll have to thank her with actual payment for her services instead. But this is not the end of my water issues. Both of my other properties have sprung leaks as well. The house where I actually reside is the worst, all of a sudden. For some reason, whenever I run the washing machine, the bathroom floor gets flooded.

"What the hell is happening?" I gripe.

"Issues," Bear says, shaking her head as she hands me my receipt.

My daughter says I have angered the water gods, but everything is an angered god to her these days because of the Japanese anime-inspired cartoon marathon she watched with her cousin over Thanksgiving. I really don't think I have angered any gods any more than normal lately, but it does seem weird these water issues have popped up at all my addresses, all at once and all of a sudden.

I'm really starting to think it was easier when I didn't even have any addresses at all to call my own. When I was growing up my parents always rented our houses, and if there was ever a water issue, we'd just move. We moved four times in one year once. It's funny, but we always lived near water, come to think of it, on either the California or Florida coast. Now the closest ocean to me is four hours away. The last time I drove there, I heard Shirley MacLaine on NPR talking about her own leaky pipes — I swear this is true — and how she went to an Indian shaman and was told that, because she had been refusing to cry lately, her house had begun to cry for her.

"Jesus God, what a bionic nutball," I said to myself, even though I love Shirley MacLaine and thought she kicked ass as Aurora in Terms of Endearment. In fact, I remember I saw that movie just as I was about to move abroad to study in Oxford, England. I watched it with my favorite boyfriend of all time, Jeff, who was a surfer and practically lived in the water. At the end of the movie I turned and saw that he'd been crying and I, like, laughed, because this was Jeff here, Jeff doesn't cry.

"Pussy," I teased him, and finally he did laugh, but weakly, because in a few days I would leave him like an imprint in the sand. I was off to commence the whole life I had before me and move away again, this time to England, which is surrounded by water, only you can't really surf there like you can in California and Florida, and you'd be surprised at how homesick an unsurfable ocean makes you when you're used to the other kind.

Up until then I had never even owned a coat, all I had was one pair of jeans and 20 pairs of shorts, and it was rare when I wore shoes. I'd even be shoeless while fishing for blowfish off the Melbourne Beach pier. I keep thinking about that these days, about how I hardly ever wore shoes when I lived in Florida even though the concrete they used to lay the pavement was mixed with broken seashells. That pavement reminded me of the terrazzo floors my mother was so proud of in our home at the time, which, of course, was rented. My mother always said when she finally got around to buying her own home, she would have those floors installed, and I never understood the appeal of terrazzo floors because they looked like they were made from melted bowling balls. I wish I had paid more attention to them before we moved again.

My mother never got around to owning her own home, let alone one with her own terrazzo floors, but she did die in a modest cottage surrounded by water right there next to a fishing pier in San Diego. Here she was, a Southern girl who couldn't swim, dying by the ocean after having raised a surfer girl who in turn would give birth to a Southern girl. I'd laugh at the full circle, except I don't have a lot of time to reflect these days, and if I did I would not laugh at that but at how I became a girl who went from never having a home of her own to one who had too many, none of them near water, yet all of them crying.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4709) "My plumber, Bear, says I have water issues, and she says this while covered in mud she dug up from my front yard in order to access the broken pipe that is the reason my water bill was bigger than my mortgage last month. She actually has the piece of pipe in her hand, with the little pinhole in it where the rust had finally corroded through after 40 years. "Major water issues," Bear reiterates.

"All that water leaked out of that tiny little pinhole?" I ask incredulously.

"That's all it takes," she says.

I would marry Bear if it didn't promise to be such a complicated union, the biggest obstacles being that she already has a wife and I'm not gay. So I'll have to thank her with actual payment for her services instead. But this is not the end of my water issues. Both of my other properties have sprung leaks as well. The house where I actually reside is the worst, all of a sudden. For some reason, whenever I run the washing machine, the bathroom floor gets flooded.

"What the hell is happening?" I gripe.

"Issues," Bear says, shaking her head as she hands me my receipt.

My daughter says I have angered the water gods, but everything is an angered god to her these days because of the Japanese anime-inspired cartoon marathon she watched with her cousin over Thanksgiving. I really don't think I have angered any gods any more than normal lately, but it does seem weird these water issues have popped up at all my addresses, all at once and all of a sudden.

__I'm really starting__ to think it was easier when I didn't even have any addresses at all to call my own. When I was growing up my parents always rented our houses, and if there was ever a water issue, we'd just move. We moved four times in one year once. It's funny, but we always lived near water, come to think of it, on either the California or Florida coast. Now the closest ocean to me is four hours away. The last time I drove there, I heard Shirley MacLaine on NPR talking about her own leaky pipes -- I swear this is true -- and how she went to an Indian shaman and was told that, because she had been refusing to cry lately, her house had begun to cry for her.

"Jesus God, what a bionic nutball," I said to myself, even though I love Shirley MacLaine and thought she kicked ass as Aurora in ''Terms of Endearment''. In fact, I remember I saw that movie just as I was about to move abroad to study in Oxford, England. I watched it with my favorite boyfriend of all time, Jeff, who was a surfer and practically lived in the water. At the end of the movie I turned and saw that he'd been crying and I, like, ''laughed'', because this was Jeff here, Jeff doesn't ''cry''.

"Pussy," I teased him, and finally he did laugh, but weakly, because in a few days I would leave him like an imprint in the sand. I was off to commence the whole life I had before me and move away again, this time to England, which is surrounded by water, only you can't really surf there like you can in California and Florida, and you'd be surprised at how homesick an unsurfable ocean makes you when you're used to the other kind.

Up until then I had never even owned a coat, all I had was one pair of jeans and 20 pairs of shorts, and it was rare when I wore shoes. I'd even be shoeless while fishing for blowfish off the Melbourne Beach pier. I keep thinking about that these days, about how I hardly ever wore shoes when I lived in Florida even though the concrete they used to lay the pavement was mixed with broken seashells. That pavement reminded me of the terrazzo floors my mother was so proud of in our home at the time, which, of course, was rented. My mother always said when she finally got around to buying her own home, she would have those floors installed, and I never understood the appeal of terrazzo floors because they looked like they were made from melted bowling balls. I wish I had paid more attention to them before we moved again.

My mother never got around to owning her own home, let alone one with her own terrazzo floors, but she did die in a modest cottage surrounded by water right there next to a fishing pier in San Diego. Here she was, a Southern girl who couldn't swim, dying by the ocean after having raised a surfer girl who in turn would give birth to a Southern girl. I'd laugh at the full circle, except I don't have a lot of time to reflect these days, and if I did I would not laugh at that but at how I became a girl who went from never having a home of her own to one who had too many, none of them near water, yet all of them crying.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4886) "    Tears, oceans and leaky pipes   2007-12-12T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Water issues   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-12-12T05:04:00+00:00  My plumber, Bear, says I have water issues, and she says this while covered in mud she dug up from my front yard in order to access the broken pipe that is the reason my water bill was bigger than my mortgage last month. She actually has the piece of pipe in her hand, with the little pinhole in it where the rust had finally corroded through after 40 years. "Major water issues," Bear reiterates.

"All that water leaked out of that tiny little pinhole?" I ask incredulously.

"That's all it takes," she says.

I would marry Bear if it didn't promise to be such a complicated union, the biggest obstacles being that she already has a wife and I'm not gay. So I'll have to thank her with actual payment for her services instead. But this is not the end of my water issues. Both of my other properties have sprung leaks as well. The house where I actually reside is the worst, all of a sudden. For some reason, whenever I run the washing machine, the bathroom floor gets flooded.

"What the hell is happening?" I gripe.

"Issues," Bear says, shaking her head as she hands me my receipt.

My daughter says I have angered the water gods, but everything is an angered god to her these days because of the Japanese anime-inspired cartoon marathon she watched with her cousin over Thanksgiving. I really don't think I have angered any gods any more than normal lately, but it does seem weird these water issues have popped up at all my addresses, all at once and all of a sudden.

I'm really starting to think it was easier when I didn't even have any addresses at all to call my own. When I was growing up my parents always rented our houses, and if there was ever a water issue, we'd just move. We moved four times in one year once. It's funny, but we always lived near water, come to think of it, on either the California or Florida coast. Now the closest ocean to me is four hours away. The last time I drove there, I heard Shirley MacLaine on NPR talking about her own leaky pipes — I swear this is true — and how she went to an Indian shaman and was told that, because she had been refusing to cry lately, her house had begun to cry for her.

"Jesus God, what a bionic nutball," I said to myself, even though I love Shirley MacLaine and thought she kicked ass as Aurora in Terms of Endearment. In fact, I remember I saw that movie just as I was about to move abroad to study in Oxford, England. I watched it with my favorite boyfriend of all time, Jeff, who was a surfer and practically lived in the water. At the end of the movie I turned and saw that he'd been crying and I, like, laughed, because this was Jeff here, Jeff doesn't cry.

"Pussy," I teased him, and finally he did laugh, but weakly, because in a few days I would leave him like an imprint in the sand. I was off to commence the whole life I had before me and move away again, this time to England, which is surrounded by water, only you can't really surf there like you can in California and Florida, and you'd be surprised at how homesick an unsurfable ocean makes you when you're used to the other kind.

Up until then I had never even owned a coat, all I had was one pair of jeans and 20 pairs of shorts, and it was rare when I wore shoes. I'd even be shoeless while fishing for blowfish off the Melbourne Beach pier. I keep thinking about that these days, about how I hardly ever wore shoes when I lived in Florida even though the concrete they used to lay the pavement was mixed with broken seashells. That pavement reminded me of the terrazzo floors my mother was so proud of in our home at the time, which, of course, was rented. My mother always said when she finally got around to buying her own home, she would have those floors installed, and I never understood the appeal of terrazzo floors because they looked like they were made from melted bowling balls. I wish I had paid more attention to them before we moved again.

My mother never got around to owning her own home, let alone one with her own terrazzo floors, but she did die in a modest cottage surrounded by water right there next to a fishing pier in San Diego. Here she was, a Southern girl who couldn't swim, dying by the ocean after having raised a surfer girl who in turn would give birth to a Southern girl. I'd laugh at the full circle, except I don't have a lot of time to reflect these days, and if I did I would not laugh at that but at how I became a girl who went from never having a home of her own to one who had too many, none of them near water, yet all of them crying.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026224 1271015                          Moodswing - Water issues "
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Moodswing

Wednesday December 12, 2007 12:04 am EST
Tears, oceans and leaky pipes | more...
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  string(4677) "Lary is at a loss as to why I'd turn down his offer to burn down my house. He thinks it would be the answer to all my problems. "And this is the perfect season for arson, too," he insists. "Homeless people all over the place are lighting fires to keep warm; no one would even question it. You can blame it on a crackhead. A homeless crackhead. They're great scapegoats. How could you pass this up?"

"You worthless sack of maggots," I fume. "I cannot burn down my house and blame it on a crackhead."

First, I don't even live in the house Lary wants to torch, I just own it. Second, it's not even the house itself that is giving me problems; the house itself is a great house. It's the first house I ever owned, and it's got an oak tree in the back yard that was planted the day my daughter was born. So it's not the house itself, it's the water pipe in front of the house, somewhere under the sidewalk, that busted. My water bill last month was almost as much as my mortgage. I called the city water department to report the leak, but the woman on the other end said the leak was on my property, which I doubted because, unless I own the sidewalk, I don't see how it could be on my property.

"I see that you don't want to hear what I'm saying," the water-department lady quipped, but I did hear what she was saying, I just disagreed with it. So I called back first thing the next morning and got another water-department lady who told me it said right there on her computer screen that I was told there was a leak on my property, and I took issue with that, too, because of all the people telling anyone anything, I was the only one who actually laid personal eyes on the leak, with my property way over there, and the leak way over here, and again, unless I own the sidewalk it was not on my property.

"I'm telling you," Lary keeps insisting, "just fling a few crack lighters around for the firemen to sift out afterward, and no one will question a thing."

Lary has been hoping I'd burn my houses down for years now, in one way or another, as he's feeling harried because he is usually the second one I call during the constant storm of broken crap that is home ownership. Grant is usually the first, because Grant is really good at getting out of fixing things. He has numbers to call and a passel of reliable fabrications to claim, and before you know it the entire citywide infrastructure is lining up to take the blame and send trucks to make things right.

Also, he's usually pretty generous about imparting this wisdom to me. But I'm not talking to Grant these days, because he banished me to the storage closet of his gallery during the holiday art tour at the loft complex where he lives. All I wanted to do was set up a little stand to display my books and maybe a few homemade pot holders and possibly some finger paintings by my 7-year-old. Lord Christ, what was so bad about that? But Grant said it was his show and even if he gave me a tiny space in his gallery it would make everything be about me, and the one thing that pisses the crap out of me is when Grant accuses me of being self-involved just because I want to commandeer his special event.

So it's straight to Lary this time, because for all his felonious bloviating, Lary is really good at finding what is wrong and fixing it. The problem is that he fancies himself a creator, not a fixer, and he would rather burn the broken thing to the ground in order to build a whole new thing. A bigger, better thing with turrets and whirligigs. I used to be like that, too, but no longer. Now I like to keep the things I have and simply fix them when they break. I never knew how to fix things before, but I've been watching Lary fix stuff for 15 years, and now I fancy myself somewhat handy. I even have a tool belt. We never covered leaky underground pipes, though.

"I'm not burning the house down," I tell him.

"Then call Grant," Lary suggests. "He was just saying yesterday how bad he felt for hurting your feelings."

I immediately call Grant, but he's damn discourteous for someone in the throes of regret. "Bitch, I see that you don't want to hear what I'm saying," he says. "I am not sorry." But I do hear what he's saying, I just disagree with it. So we scream at each other for a few minutes until things are better between us. Afterward I still have a busted water pipe, but at least I also have these two beloved bottom fish who are my friends, one who didn't get burned to the ground and replaced, and the other who is good at finding what is wrong and fixing it.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4727) "Lary is at a loss as to why I'd turn down his offer to burn down my house. He thinks it would be the answer to all my problems. "And this is the perfect season for arson, too," he insists. "Homeless people all over the place are lighting fires to keep warm; no one would even question it. You can blame it on a crackhead. A ''homeless'' crackhead. They're great scapegoats. How could you pass this up?"

"You worthless sack of maggots," I fume. "I cannot burn down my house and blame it on a crackhead."

First, I don't even live in the house Lary wants to torch, I just own it. Second, it's not even the house itself that is giving me problems; the house itself is a great house. It's the first house I ever owned, and it's got an oak tree in the back yard that was planted the day my daughter was born. So it's not the house itself, it's the water pipe in front of the house, somewhere under the sidewalk, that busted. My water bill last month was almost as much as my mortgage. I called the city water department to report the leak, but the woman on the other end said the leak was on my property, which I doubted because, unless I own the sidewalk, I don't see how it could be on my property.

"I see that you don't want to hear what I'm saying," the water-department lady quipped, but I did hear what she was saying, I just disagreed with it. So I called back first thing the next morning and got another water-department lady who told me it said right there on her computer screen that I was told there was a leak on my property, and I took issue with that, too, because of all the people telling anyone anything, I was the only one who actually laid personal eyes on the leak, with my property way over there, and the leak way over here, and again, unless I own the sidewalk it was not on my property.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4927) "    You don't want to hear what I'm saying   2007-12-05T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Burning down the house   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-12-05T05:04:00+00:00  Lary is at a loss as to why I'd turn down his offer to burn down my house. He thinks it would be the answer to all my problems. "And this is the perfect season for arson, too," he insists. "Homeless people all over the place are lighting fires to keep warm; no one would even question it. You can blame it on a crackhead. A homeless crackhead. They're great scapegoats. How could you pass this up?"

"You worthless sack of maggots," I fume. "I cannot burn down my house and blame it on a crackhead."

First, I don't even live in the house Lary wants to torch, I just own it. Second, it's not even the house itself that is giving me problems; the house itself is a great house. It's the first house I ever owned, and it's got an oak tree in the back yard that was planted the day my daughter was born. So it's not the house itself, it's the water pipe in front of the house, somewhere under the sidewalk, that busted. My water bill last month was almost as much as my mortgage. I called the city water department to report the leak, but the woman on the other end said the leak was on my property, which I doubted because, unless I own the sidewalk, I don't see how it could be on my property.

"I see that you don't want to hear what I'm saying," the water-department lady quipped, but I did hear what she was saying, I just disagreed with it. So I called back first thing the next morning and got another water-department lady who told me it said right there on her computer screen that I was told there was a leak on my property, and I took issue with that, too, because of all the people telling anyone anything, I was the only one who actually laid personal eyes on the leak, with my property way over there, and the leak way over here, and again, unless I own the sidewalk it was not on my property.

"I'm telling you," Lary keeps insisting, "just fling a few crack lighters around for the firemen to sift out afterward, and no one will question a thing."

Lary has been hoping I'd burn my houses down for years now, in one way or another, as he's feeling harried because he is usually the second one I call during the constant storm of broken crap that is home ownership. Grant is usually the first, because Grant is really good at getting out of fixing things. He has numbers to call and a passel of reliable fabrications to claim, and before you know it the entire citywide infrastructure is lining up to take the blame and send trucks to make things right.

Also, he's usually pretty generous about imparting this wisdom to me. But I'm not talking to Grant these days, because he banished me to the storage closet of his gallery during the holiday art tour at the loft complex where he lives. All I wanted to do was set up a little stand to display my books and maybe a few homemade pot holders and possibly some finger paintings by my 7-year-old. Lord Christ, what was so bad about that? But Grant said it was his show and even if he gave me a tiny space in his gallery it would make everything be about me, and the one thing that pisses the crap out of me is when Grant accuses me of being self-involved just because I want to commandeer his special event.

So it's straight to Lary this time, because for all his felonious bloviating, Lary is really good at finding what is wrong and fixing it. The problem is that he fancies himself a creator, not a fixer, and he would rather burn the broken thing to the ground in order to build a whole new thing. A bigger, better thing with turrets and whirligigs. I used to be like that, too, but no longer. Now I like to keep the things I have and simply fix them when they break. I never knew how to fix things before, but I've been watching Lary fix stuff for 15 years, and now I fancy myself somewhat handy. I even have a tool belt. We never covered leaky underground pipes, though.

"I'm not burning the house down," I tell him.

"Then call Grant," Lary suggests. "He was just saying yesterday how bad he felt for hurting your feelings."

I immediately call Grant, but he's damn discourteous for someone in the throes of regret. "Bitch, I see that you don't want to hear what I'm saying," he says. "I am not sorry." But I do hear what he's saying, I just disagree with it. So we scream at each other for a few minutes until things are better between us. Afterward I still have a busted water pipe, but at least I also have these two beloved bottom fish who are my friends, one who didn't get burned to the ground and replaced, and the other who is good at finding what is wrong and fixing it.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026172 1270888                          Moodswing - Burning down the house "
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Moodswing

Wednesday December 5, 2007 12:04 am EST
You don't want to hear what I'm saying | more...
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  string(4801) "Lord Jesus God, I can't believe Grant is relegating me to the storage closet of his loft during the Telephone Factory annual studio tour so he can devote his entire gallery to his "Sister Louisa" craptastic, trailer-vangelism artwork. That's right, his storage closet! His full-of-crap storage closet, from which he wants me to move said crap in order for there to be room for me to show my wares – and I don't even have wares. All I have are books, the covers for which Grant designed in his Sister Louisa motif his – own goddamn – self!

"You don't seriously expect me to empty out your STORAGE CLOSET and then put all that crap back afterward," I shriek at him. "I teach a seminar there every month! I don't think I'll detract from the atmosphere if I actually get to sit at the table in your goddamn gallery instead of being relegated to the goddamn CLOSET."

Our friend Lynn is showing in Grant's space, too – or I should say his storage space, since he can't part with any of the 1,750 square feet of his actual gallery to give us any real room. And neither of us are even visual artists – I'm an author and Lynn is a filmmaker – so it's not as though we're hawking anything that competes with his Sister Louisa ode-to-anti-folk-art art. Treating me this way is one thing, but Lynn? We both owe Lynn our lives. She is the one who undertook me as a charity project to design my website so that the publisher, when he heard my NPR commentary – which was probably about GRANT – could track me down and offer me a book contract, which led to my Jay Leno appearance, which led to the film deal, which led to Grant getting his goddamn life rights bought by Sony Pictures and his subsequent actual-in-person conversations with Mitch Hurwitz of "Arrested Development" during which – I swear to God – no one but me laughed when Grant announced that, if he couldn't play himself, he would like to be portrayed by Rob Lowe. As far as I'm concerned, Grant should fall over backward and foam at the mouth in gratitude every time he lays eyes on Lynn.

And further insult is his insistence that we move the storage stuff to the studio area of his gallery, which is way nicer than the storage closet he relegated for our use. It's like telling us we're not good enough for the house OR the garage, but we can have the trash can, but first we have to take the trash out of the trash can and move it to the garage, where it's OK for trash to be but not us.

"Bitch," Grant huffs, "I wouldn't let Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior in the gallery during the art show. Don't take it personally, but I'm creating a Sister Louisa vignette. You are welcome to use the storage space, that's it or nothing – and have I told you lately that I love you even though you never learned the word 'boundary'?"

"You selfish ass-tard, you have 1,750 square feet. Vignettes, by definition, are small," I remind him. "Give us the kitchen area at least. Open up. Let us in. Trust the universe, like you keep fucking telling me."

"Don't take it personally ..." he tried again.

"Oh, I officially take it personally."

Let me just take you back in time to the very first Telephone Factory art show ever, when I lived there and Grant was the outsider. Did his ass not show up at my door with a hammer and a bucket of rusty tetanus nails? Did he not set about covering my walls with his "folk art" that essentially consisted of every rusty rat-crap-encrusted bacteria bomb he dug out of the garbage that week? Did he not totally commandeer my whole space, leaving me, literally, five square feet on one wall by the bathroom?

"And the worst part was the spackling afterward!" I remind him. That's right, he left white spackle patches over every single one of the 10 million nail holes he pounded into my green-painted walls. If I did that to him, his whole sphincter would implode like a giant sucking supernova, taking entire city blocks with it. "Did I even complain or care or even make you feel for a second like you were unwelcome or that I didn't want to be associated with your ass or your art?"

In response Grant starts referring to his storage space as his "office," because back when I lived in that exact same loft, that adjoining space was used as an office, as opposed to the eyesore Siberia it now represents. "Forget it, Grant, it's a closet," I say. "You can't keep me in your closet. I need my space."

"And I need my space," he insists.

And that's how it still stands. I have no idea how it will turn out. For all I know, the date of the show will arrive and there we'll still be, the same as we've always been; two old friends jostling for space from one another.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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"You don't seriously expect me to empty out your STORAGE CLOSET and then put all that crap back afterward," I shriek at him. "I teach a seminar there every month! I don't think I'll detract from the atmosphere if I actually get to sit at the table in your goddamn gallery instead of being relegated to the goddamn CLOSET."

Our friend Lynn is showing in Grant's space, too – or I should say his ''storage'' space, since he can't part with any of the 1,750 square feet of his actual gallery to give us any real room. And neither of us are even visual artists – I'm an author and Lynn is a filmmaker – so it's not as though we're hawking anything that competes with his Sister Louisa ode-to-anti-folk-art art. Treating me this way is one thing, but Lynn? We both owe Lynn our lives. She is the one who undertook me as a charity project to design my website so that the publisher, when he heard my NPR commentary – which was probably about GRANT – could track me down and offer me a book contract, which led to my Jay Leno appearance, which led to the film deal, which led to Grant getting his goddamn life rights bought by Sony Pictures and his subsequent actual-in-person conversations with Mitch Hurwitz of "Arrested Development" during which – I swear to God – no one but me laughed when Grant announced that, if he couldn't play himself, he would like to be portrayed by Rob Lowe. As far as I'm concerned, Grant should fall over backward and foam at the mouth in gratitude every time he lays eyes on Lynn.

__And further insult is__ his insistence that we move the storage stuff to the studio area of his gallery, which is way nicer than the storage closet he relegated for our use. It's like telling us we're not good enough for the house OR the garage, but we can have the trash can, but first we have to take the trash out of the trash can and move it to the garage, where it's OK for trash to be but not us.

"Bitch," Grant huffs, "I wouldn't let Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior in the gallery during the art show. Don't take it personally, but I'm creating a Sister Louisa vignette. You are welcome to use the storage space, that's it or nothing – and have I told you lately that I love you even though you never learned the word 'boundary'?"

"You selfish ass-tard, you have 1,750 square feet. Vignettes, by definition, are small," I remind him. "Give us the kitchen area at least. Open up. Let us in. Trust the universe, like you keep fucking telling me."

"Don't take it personally ..." he tried again.

"Oh, I officially take it personally."

Let me just take you back in time to the very first Telephone Factory art show ever, when I lived there and Grant was the outsider. Did his ass not show up at my door with a hammer and a bucket of rusty tetanus nails? Did he not set about covering my walls with his "folk art" that essentially consisted of every rusty rat-crap-encrusted bacteria bomb he dug out of the garbage that week? Did he not totally commandeer my whole space, leaving me, literally, five square feet on one wall by the bathroom?

"And the worst part was the spackling afterward!" I remind him. That's right, he left white spackle patches over every single one of the 10 million nail holes he pounded into my green-painted walls. If I did that to him, his whole sphincter would implode like a giant sucking supernova, taking entire city blocks with it. "Did I even complain or care or even make you feel ''for a second'' like you were unwelcome or that I didn't want to be associated with your ass or your art?"

In response Grant starts referring to his storage space as his "office," because back when I lived in that exact same loft, that adjoining space was used as an office, as opposed to the eyesore Siberia it now represents. "Forget it, Grant, it's a closet," I say. "You can't keep me in your closet. I need my space."

"And I need ''my'' space," he insists.

And that's how it still stands. I have no idea how it will turn out. For all I know, the date of the show will arrive and there we'll still be, the same as we've always been; two old friends jostling for space from one another.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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"You don't seriously expect me to empty out your STORAGE CLOSET and then put all that crap back afterward," I shriek at him. "I teach a seminar there every month! I don't think I'll detract from the atmosphere if I actually get to sit at the table in your goddamn gallery instead of being relegated to the goddamn CLOSET."

Our friend Lynn is showing in Grant's space, too – or I should say his storage space, since he can't part with any of the 1,750 square feet of his actual gallery to give us any real room. And neither of us are even visual artists – I'm an author and Lynn is a filmmaker – so it's not as though we're hawking anything that competes with his Sister Louisa ode-to-anti-folk-art art. Treating me this way is one thing, but Lynn? We both owe Lynn our lives. She is the one who undertook me as a charity project to design my website so that the publisher, when he heard my NPR commentary – which was probably about GRANT – could track me down and offer me a book contract, which led to my Jay Leno appearance, which led to the film deal, which led to Grant getting his goddamn life rights bought by Sony Pictures and his subsequent actual-in-person conversations with Mitch Hurwitz of "Arrested Development" during which – I swear to God – no one but me laughed when Grant announced that, if he couldn't play himself, he would like to be portrayed by Rob Lowe. As far as I'm concerned, Grant should fall over backward and foam at the mouth in gratitude every time he lays eyes on Lynn.

And further insult is his insistence that we move the storage stuff to the studio area of his gallery, which is way nicer than the storage closet he relegated for our use. It's like telling us we're not good enough for the house OR the garage, but we can have the trash can, but first we have to take the trash out of the trash can and move it to the garage, where it's OK for trash to be but not us.

"Bitch," Grant huffs, "I wouldn't let Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior in the gallery during the art show. Don't take it personally, but I'm creating a Sister Louisa vignette. You are welcome to use the storage space, that's it or nothing – and have I told you lately that I love you even though you never learned the word 'boundary'?"

"You selfish ass-tard, you have 1,750 square feet. Vignettes, by definition, are small," I remind him. "Give us the kitchen area at least. Open up. Let us in. Trust the universe, like you keep fucking telling me."

"Don't take it personally ..." he tried again.

"Oh, I officially take it personally."

Let me just take you back in time to the very first Telephone Factory art show ever, when I lived there and Grant was the outsider. Did his ass not show up at my door with a hammer and a bucket of rusty tetanus nails? Did he not set about covering my walls with his "folk art" that essentially consisted of every rusty rat-crap-encrusted bacteria bomb he dug out of the garbage that week? Did he not totally commandeer my whole space, leaving me, literally, five square feet on one wall by the bathroom?

"And the worst part was the spackling afterward!" I remind him. That's right, he left white spackle patches over every single one of the 10 million nail holes he pounded into my green-painted walls. If I did that to him, his whole sphincter would implode like a giant sucking supernova, taking entire city blocks with it. "Did I even complain or care or even make you feel for a second like you were unwelcome or that I didn't want to be associated with your ass or your art?"

In response Grant starts referring to his storage space as his "office," because back when I lived in that exact same loft, that adjoining space was used as an office, as opposed to the eyesore Siberia it now represents. "Forget it, Grant, it's a closet," I say. "You can't keep me in your closet. I need my space."

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Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026100 1270736                          Moodswing - Space between friends "
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Moodswing

Wednesday November 28, 2007 12:04 am EST
Relegated to the closet | more...
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  string(4756) "I suppose it's saying something about me that my favorite foods are cake and Halloween candy, but then again it depends on what your definition of "favorite" is. For example, if I ate cake and candy all the time, then that would indicate I am basically a brain-diseased bovine, but I don't eat that all the time.

OK, I do eat that all the time. So I guess it depends on what your definition of "all the time" is. I've only been eating cake and candy all the time lately.

"Sugar is poison," Grant chides me. "Would you eat arsenic? Sugar is just like arsenic, only it kills you slower. Me? I don't have an addictive bone in my body."

"Ha!" I shriek. I love it when Grant offers himself as an example of admirable behavior, because it's the easiest argument to refute. "How many used cars have you bought this year? Like, eight? And what about your addiction to colonics from a few years back? In the end you were getting them from some guy with a garden hose in the back of a van."

But Grant and I obviously have different definitions of the word "addiction." Still, he is pretty good at managing his. It's probably been a year since he had a rubber nozzle near his ass, and as of last week he was down to one car – but I see a spree on the horizon because he just bought an '87 Le Baron and named it Rico, and it's always a danger sign when Grant starts buying old Le Barons.

I just have my one addiction — sugar is my drug — and I can proudly say there have been whole periods that lasted almost entire weekends when I didn't touch the stuff. But addicts are good at making excuses. Having an actual cake-and-candy-heavy holiday nearby on the calendar doesn't help at all, either. It's like New Year's Eve for alcoholics; a convenient excuse to indulge, a time when the addict can talk herself into thinking she'll fit right in with the rest of the revelers and no one will notice.

Fat chance, though, and I mean that literally. Right now I'm popping over the waistline of my pants like a muffin top. The misery is apparent on my face, and I mean that literally, too, because now I have this weird redness in my cheeks that acts up when I lapse back into the sugar vat, kind of like what you saw on that famous alcoholic W.C. goddamn Fields.

It's so seriously not fair, I think, because alcohol is a much more fun addiction – you get to have indiscriminate sex as a side effect and everything – while sugar is just sugar. People feed it to their kids, for chrissakes; why do I have to have the firecracker-capillary cheeks of a hardcore wino just because of my pussy-assed sugar habit? What's worse is that today I'm miles ahead of my past behavior. When I was 18 I lived on french fries, tequila and cocaine. If I did that now – with my born-again drug-wienie body – it would be a matter of days, probably, before all that's left of me is a rotten spot on a mattress surrounded by police tape. Today, the closest I come to drugs or alcohol is the biannual double dose of my daughter's drugstore cold medication (sugar-flavored). I live a Puritan existence, for chrissakes.

But again, addicts are good at making excuses, and everybody has a drug. You don't get to survive any sizeable amount of life without emerging with a set of adamant personal proclivities. I had a friend in college once who masturbated like a spider monkey the entire month after his 18th birthday when he finally bought his first legal porn. In the end he could be found at the free clinic clutching a tube of ointment and getting lectured about the dangers of "overemitting."

But even that isn't as bad as the crack addict who used to live under a freeway overpass in my old neighborhood. She had a face like a pail of hardened paste, as though it was an insurmountable burden that morning simply to awaken with a heart still beating. She used to panhandle at the on-ramp, hobbling from car to car, shaking her empty money bucket, scratching at our windows and then flipping us off when we ignored her. A few times she dressed in a bad rendition of a charity worker's uniform, but few fell for it.

Luckily or unluckily, sex and drugs don't hold such a huge appeal for me that I'd forgo everything else in their pursuit. Instead, I consume discounted Halloween candy hoarded in my glove compartment. That is until yesterday, when I happened to be in my old neighborhood. Paste Face was back working her corner again, and when she passed the bucket under my car window, I put the candy in it. She seemed grateful for my charity, but I didn't feel too deserving. I guess it depends on what your definition of "charity" is.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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OK, I do eat that all the time. So I guess it depends on what your definition of "all the time" is. I've only been eating cake and candy all the time ''lately''.

"Sugar is poison," Grant chides me. "Would you eat arsenic? Sugar is just like arsenic, only it kills you slower. Me? I don't have an addictive bone in my body."

"Ha!" I shriek. I love it when Grant offers himself as an example of admirable behavior, because it's the ''easiest'' argument to refute. "How many used cars have you bought this year? Like, ''eight?'' And what about your addiction to colonics from a few years back? In the end you were getting them from some guy with a garden hose in the back of a van."

But Grant and I obviously have different definitions of the word "addiction." Still, he is pretty good at managing his. It's probably been a year since he had a rubber nozzle near his ass, and as of last week he was down to one car – but I see a spree on the horizon because he just bought an '87 Le Baron and named it Rico, and it's always a danger sign when Grant starts buying old Le Barons.

__I just have__ my one addiction -- sugar is my drug -- and I can proudly say there have been whole periods that lasted almost entire weekends when I didn't touch the stuff. But addicts are good at making excuses. Having an actual cake-and-candy-heavy holiday nearby on the calendar doesn't help at all, either. It's like New Year's Eve for alcoholics; a convenient excuse to indulge, a time when the addict can talk herself into thinking she'll fit right in with the rest of the revelers and no one will notice.

Fat chance, though, and I mean that literally. Right now I'm popping over the waistline of my pants like a muffin top. The misery is apparent on my face, and I mean that literally, too, because now I have this weird redness in my cheeks that acts up when I lapse back into the sugar vat, kind of like what you saw on that famous alcoholic W.C. goddamn Fields.

It's so seriously not fair, I think, because alcohol is a much more fun addiction – you get to have indiscriminate sex as a side effect and everything – while sugar is just sugar. People feed it to their kids, for chrissakes; why do I have to have the firecracker-capillary cheeks of a hardcore wino just because of my pussy-assed sugar habit? What's worse is that today I'm miles ahead of my past behavior. When I was 18 I lived on french fries, tequila and cocaine. If I did that now – with my born-again drug-wienie body – it would be a matter of days, probably, before all that's left of me is a rotten spot on a mattress surrounded by police tape. Today, the closest I come to drugs or alcohol is the biannual double dose of my daughter's drugstore cold medication (sugar-flavored). I live a Puritan existence, for chrissakes.

But again, addicts are good at making excuses, and everybody has a drug. You don't get to survive any sizeable amount of life without emerging with a set of adamant personal proclivities. I had a friend in college once who masturbated like a spider monkey the entire month after his 18th birthday when he finally bought his first legal porn. In the end he could be found at the free clinic clutching a tube of ointment and getting lectured about the dangers of "overemitting."

But even that isn't as bad as the crack addict who used to live under a freeway overpass in my old neighborhood. She had a face like a pail of hardened paste, as though it was an insurmountable burden that morning simply to awaken with a heart still beating. She used to panhandle at the on-ramp, hobbling from car to car, shaking her empty money bucket, scratching at our windows and then flipping us off when we ignored her. A few times she dressed in a bad rendition of a charity worker's uniform, but few fell for it.

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''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4985) "    Everyone has a drug   2007-11-21T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Different definitions   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-11-21T05:04:00+00:00  I suppose it's saying something about me that my favorite foods are cake and Halloween candy, but then again it depends on what your definition of "favorite" is. For example, if I ate cake and candy all the time, then that would indicate I am basically a brain-diseased bovine, but I don't eat that all the time.

OK, I do eat that all the time. So I guess it depends on what your definition of "all the time" is. I've only been eating cake and candy all the time lately.

"Sugar is poison," Grant chides me. "Would you eat arsenic? Sugar is just like arsenic, only it kills you slower. Me? I don't have an addictive bone in my body."

"Ha!" I shriek. I love it when Grant offers himself as an example of admirable behavior, because it's the easiest argument to refute. "How many used cars have you bought this year? Like, eight? And what about your addiction to colonics from a few years back? In the end you were getting them from some guy with a garden hose in the back of a van."

But Grant and I obviously have different definitions of the word "addiction." Still, he is pretty good at managing his. It's probably been a year since he had a rubber nozzle near his ass, and as of last week he was down to one car – but I see a spree on the horizon because he just bought an '87 Le Baron and named it Rico, and it's always a danger sign when Grant starts buying old Le Barons.

I just have my one addiction — sugar is my drug — and I can proudly say there have been whole periods that lasted almost entire weekends when I didn't touch the stuff. But addicts are good at making excuses. Having an actual cake-and-candy-heavy holiday nearby on the calendar doesn't help at all, either. It's like New Year's Eve for alcoholics; a convenient excuse to indulge, a time when the addict can talk herself into thinking she'll fit right in with the rest of the revelers and no one will notice.

Fat chance, though, and I mean that literally. Right now I'm popping over the waistline of my pants like a muffin top. The misery is apparent on my face, and I mean that literally, too, because now I have this weird redness in my cheeks that acts up when I lapse back into the sugar vat, kind of like what you saw on that famous alcoholic W.C. goddamn Fields.

It's so seriously not fair, I think, because alcohol is a much more fun addiction – you get to have indiscriminate sex as a side effect and everything – while sugar is just sugar. People feed it to their kids, for chrissakes; why do I have to have the firecracker-capillary cheeks of a hardcore wino just because of my pussy-assed sugar habit? What's worse is that today I'm miles ahead of my past behavior. When I was 18 I lived on french fries, tequila and cocaine. If I did that now – with my born-again drug-wienie body – it would be a matter of days, probably, before all that's left of me is a rotten spot on a mattress surrounded by police tape. Today, the closest I come to drugs or alcohol is the biannual double dose of my daughter's drugstore cold medication (sugar-flavored). I live a Puritan existence, for chrissakes.

But again, addicts are good at making excuses, and everybody has a drug. You don't get to survive any sizeable amount of life without emerging with a set of adamant personal proclivities. I had a friend in college once who masturbated like a spider monkey the entire month after his 18th birthday when he finally bought his first legal porn. In the end he could be found at the free clinic clutching a tube of ointment and getting lectured about the dangers of "overemitting."

But even that isn't as bad as the crack addict who used to live under a freeway overpass in my old neighborhood. She had a face like a pail of hardened paste, as though it was an insurmountable burden that morning simply to awaken with a heart still beating. She used to panhandle at the on-ramp, hobbling from car to car, shaking her empty money bucket, scratching at our windows and then flipping us off when we ignored her. A few times she dressed in a bad rendition of a charity worker's uniform, but few fell for it.

Luckily or unluckily, sex and drugs don't hold such a huge appeal for me that I'd forgo everything else in their pursuit. Instead, I consume discounted Halloween candy hoarded in my glove compartment. That is until yesterday, when I happened to be in my old neighborhood. Paste Face was back working her corner again, and when she passed the bucket under my car window, I put the candy in it. She seemed grateful for my charity, but I didn't feel too deserving. I guess it depends on what your definition of "charity" is.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13026042 1270612                          Moodswing - Different definitions "
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Moodswing

Wednesday November 21, 2007 12:04 am EST
Everyone has a drug | more...
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  string(4561) "I miss my friend Doug, who left before we even got to see if his second exorcism was effective. His first exorcism had failed miserably, he said, dejectedly stating that the demon was still in him. I looked closely at him as I always did when Doug talked about his demon, and I tried to see the evil he insisted was inside, but Doug did not seem any more evil to me than he did the day I met him more than a decade earlier. In fact, if you were to ask me, I would say Doug was one of the most demon-free people I know.

But our demons are for us to decide, that I know. Doug has since moved to New York to make a difference in the world by teaching inner-city high school kids. I was a little worried when I heard he decided to do this, because I fretted that inner-city New York high school kids would tear him up and crap him out if given the chance, but I also felt that Doug was doing the right thing, because often the best way to wrestle with demons is to stop looking inward and start looking outward, which is what Doug decided to do.

"Every day is crazier than the last," he reports. "I had the cops in my classroom yesterday. This is like a trip to Mars!" He sounded happy, though, or at least less dejected about the presence of his demon than he did before.

But we all have our demons to deal with, and believe me, I'd be grateful for my personal demon's presence if I were Doug, because it would mean I wouldn't have to face those kids alone. For example, the kids often, repeatedly, and very loudly tell Doug to suck their dick. I would find that, at the very least, an unsettling element to have to face in my daily life, but these are words that lost their shock value a long time ago for Doug. If he responds at all, it's simply to gasp in mock horror and say, "Such language!" then continue with the daily ministrations of dealing with the demons around him rather than in him. I have to say I admire him for that, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of his students do, too.

Lord knows I could have used a teacher like Doug when I was in high school. If I did, maybe I wouldn't have tried to drop out, or maybe one of them would have noticed during the few months that I actually did. I remember we had just moved to the area and my sister and I were set to face yet another new school, when the administrators had stupidly trusted me with my own school file to hand to my first-period teacher to announce my arrival. But instead of going to the classroom and thereby commencing another period of painful adjustment, I simply walked straight to the parking lot, got in my '69 VW Bug and drove to the beach.

After that I was happily lost in a crack, since my teachers, who didn't know to expect me, could not apprise the administrators and subsequently my mother of my absences. It was an ideal situation, I thought, and one that lasted three months. I would probably still be on that beach to this day if not for my little sister, Kim, who turned me in.

At the time I thought it was because Kim was jealous, as every day when I dropped her off at school she had to go to class while I could U-turn my way to the beach and wallow another day away. But my sister didn't hate school like me; in fact she was almost the opposite of me in every way. Where she was sweet, I was brusque, and while she had the soul of a saint, I had the soul of a sea urchin. She would join chess clubs while I befriended pyros behind the library and made fun of chess-club joiners. In fact, I often made the difficult transitions to new schools even worse for her than they had to be, as sometimes my spikey-souledness would direct itself at her in the hallways.

It wasn't until years later when I finally started to understand the real reason Kim might have turned me in. High school is hell enough when you know everyone, let alone when you don't, and today, when I think of those months I left my little sister to make her way through another new school by herself – as soft-hearted and therefore ill-equipped as she was to withstand the cruelty of her peers – while I commenced my attempted future as a sand hobo, it's about all I can do to keep from calling her to beg her forgiveness. It's like I said: We all have our demons to deal with, and for all of my negative, misanthropic crustiness, I was Kim's own personal demon and she was grateful for my presence, because it meant she didn't have to face those kids alone.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4603) "I miss my friend Doug, who left before we even got to see if his second exorcism was effective. His first exorcism had failed miserably, he said, dejectedly stating that the demon was still in him. I looked closely at him as I always did when Doug talked about his demon, and I tried to see the evil he insisted was inside, but Doug did not seem any more evil to me than he did the day I met him more than a decade earlier. In fact, if you were to ask me, I would say Doug was one of the most demon-free people I know.

But our demons are for us to decide, that I know. Doug has since moved to New York to make a difference in the world by teaching inner-city high school kids. I was a little worried when I heard he decided to do this, because I fretted that inner-city New York high school kids would tear him up and crap him out if given the chance, but I also felt that Doug was doing the right thing, because often the best way to wrestle with demons is to stop looking inward and start looking outward, which is what Doug decided to do.

"Every day is crazier than the last," he reports. "I had the cops in my classroom yesterday. This is like a trip to Mars!" He sounded happy, though, or at least less dejected about the presence of his demon than he did before.

__But we all have__ our demons to deal with, and believe me, I'd be grateful for my personal demon's presence if I were Doug, because it would mean I wouldn't have to face those kids alone. For example, the kids often, repeatedly, and very loudly tell Doug to suck their dick. I would find that, at the very least, an unsettling element to have to face in my daily life, but these are words that lost their shock value a long time ago for Doug. If he responds at all, it's simply to gasp in mock horror and say, "Such language!" then continue with the daily ministrations of dealing with the demons around him rather than in him. I have to say I admire him for that, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of his students do, too.

Lord knows I could have used a teacher like Doug when I was in high school. If I did, maybe I wouldn't have tried to drop out, or maybe one of them would have noticed during the few months that I actually did. I remember we had just moved to the area and my sister and I were set to face yet another new school, when the administrators had stupidly trusted me with my own school file to hand to my first-period teacher to announce my arrival. But instead of going to the classroom and thereby commencing another period of painful adjustment, I simply walked straight to the parking lot, got in my '69 VW Bug and drove to the beach.

After that I was happily lost in a crack, since my teachers, who didn't know to expect me, could not apprise the administrators and subsequently my mother of my absences. It was an ideal situation, I thought, and one that lasted three months. I would probably still be on that beach to this day if not for my little sister, Kim, who turned me in.

At the time I thought it was because Kim was jealous, as every day when I dropped her off at school she had to go to class while I could U-turn my way to the beach and wallow another day away. But my sister didn't hate school like me; in fact she was almost the opposite of me in every way. Where she was sweet, I was brusque, and while she had the soul of a saint, I had the soul of a sea urchin. She would join chess clubs while I befriended pyros behind the library and made fun of chess-club joiners. In fact, I often made the difficult transitions to new schools even worse for her than they had to be, as sometimes my spikey-souledness would direct itself at her in the hallways.

It wasn't until years later when I finally started to understand the real reason Kim might have turned me in. High school is hell enough when you know everyone, let alone when you don't, and today, when I think of those months I left my little sister to make her way through another new school by herself – as soft-hearted and therefore ill-equipped as she was to withstand the cruelty of her peers – while I commenced my attempted future as a sand hobo, it's about all I can do to keep from calling her to beg her forgiveness. It's like I said: We all have our demons to deal with, and for all of my negative, misanthropic crustiness, I was Kim's own personal demon and she was grateful for my presence, because it meant she didn't have to face those kids alone.

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(4796) "    I could have used a teacher like Doug   2007-11-14T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Personal demons   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-11-14T05:04:00+00:00  I miss my friend Doug, who left before we even got to see if his second exorcism was effective. His first exorcism had failed miserably, he said, dejectedly stating that the demon was still in him. I looked closely at him as I always did when Doug talked about his demon, and I tried to see the evil he insisted was inside, but Doug did not seem any more evil to me than he did the day I met him more than a decade earlier. In fact, if you were to ask me, I would say Doug was one of the most demon-free people I know.

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"Every day is crazier than the last," he reports. "I had the cops in my classroom yesterday. This is like a trip to Mars!" He sounded happy, though, or at least less dejected about the presence of his demon than he did before.

But we all have our demons to deal with, and believe me, I'd be grateful for my personal demon's presence if I were Doug, because it would mean I wouldn't have to face those kids alone. For example, the kids often, repeatedly, and very loudly tell Doug to suck their dick. I would find that, at the very least, an unsettling element to have to face in my daily life, but these are words that lost their shock value a long time ago for Doug. If he responds at all, it's simply to gasp in mock horror and say, "Such language!" then continue with the daily ministrations of dealing with the demons around him rather than in him. I have to say I admire him for that, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of his students do, too.

Lord knows I could have used a teacher like Doug when I was in high school. If I did, maybe I wouldn't have tried to drop out, or maybe one of them would have noticed during the few months that I actually did. I remember we had just moved to the area and my sister and I were set to face yet another new school, when the administrators had stupidly trusted me with my own school file to hand to my first-period teacher to announce my arrival. But instead of going to the classroom and thereby commencing another period of painful adjustment, I simply walked straight to the parking lot, got in my '69 VW Bug and drove to the beach.

After that I was happily lost in a crack, since my teachers, who didn't know to expect me, could not apprise the administrators and subsequently my mother of my absences. It was an ideal situation, I thought, and one that lasted three months. I would probably still be on that beach to this day if not for my little sister, Kim, who turned me in.

At the time I thought it was because Kim was jealous, as every day when I dropped her off at school she had to go to class while I could U-turn my way to the beach and wallow another day away. But my sister didn't hate school like me; in fact she was almost the opposite of me in every way. Where she was sweet, I was brusque, and while she had the soul of a saint, I had the soul of a sea urchin. She would join chess clubs while I befriended pyros behind the library and made fun of chess-club joiners. In fact, I often made the difficult transitions to new schools even worse for her than they had to be, as sometimes my spikey-souledness would direct itself at her in the hallways.

It wasn't until years later when I finally started to understand the real reason Kim might have turned me in. High school is hell enough when you know everyone, let alone when you don't, and today, when I think of those months I left my little sister to make her way through another new school by herself – as soft-hearted and therefore ill-equipped as she was to withstand the cruelty of her peers – while I commenced my attempted future as a sand hobo, it's about all I can do to keep from calling her to beg her forgiveness. It's like I said: We all have our demons to deal with, and for all of my negative, misanthropic crustiness, I was Kim's own personal demon and she was grateful for my presence, because it meant she didn't have to face those kids alone.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13025994 1270511                          Moodswing - Personal demons "
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Moodswing

Wednesday November 14, 2007 12:04 am EST
I could have used a teacher like Doug | more...
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  string(4831) "I hate to defend Britney Spears, I really do, and not because she's a bad mother — I have no idea what kind of mother she is outside of what is forced on me through the news — but because she's so pilloried in the press these days, I'm loathe to attract the hatchet my way.

But here is the thing that bugs the motherly crap out of me about Britney Spears: She's 26, and not only does she financially support her children and their father, she arguably financially supports his children from a previous relationship as well, plus the children in the households of any number of administrative and creative people (hundreds, probably) whose incomes are directly derived from her work. Most fathers would be heralded for that. Yet Britney is vilified because she, among other things, performed (very badly) at the MTV Music Video Awards last September while her ex-husband stayed home with their sons and threw them a double birthday party. Never mind that it wasn't even Britney's sons' birthdays that night.

Never mind that, a few days later, when it was her kids' actual birthdays, Britney might have been home giving them pony rides and lactating all over them with motherly love for all we know. Never mind that it's totally customary for divorced parents to each hold their own separate birthday celebrations for their children. Never mind that.

OK, Christ. I do mind that. Because why should one parent be derided for working to provide for her kids, while her jobless ex who earned less than $8,000 last year is practically proclaimed a saint for opening up a packet of party hats somewhere within the week of their kids' actual birthdays?

I mind that. Just like I mind a recent article reporting that a judge, in a private proceeding, cited Britney's "drug- and alcohol-infused lifestyle," and then three paragraphs later it states that this same judge had ordered the transcripts from the proceedings sealed. My question is, how the hell does this reporter know what the judge said in a private proceeding if the transcripts were sealed?

And what exactly did Britney do to lose custody of her kids? She had a fender bender while trying to park? Were the fenders made of babies? She lacked a California driver's license? Since when does the state listed on your driver's license determine your abilities as a parent? I don't have a California driver's license. I drive in California with my Georgia license all the time. I don't think that makes me a bad mother any more than it makes another mother bad for driving there with a Louisiana one, as Britney did.

Hit and run? The other car was parked, its driver not there, and its fender not bent. Britney's choice to leave without putting a note on the windshield is not one I would have made, but that choice relates to my conscientiousness as a person, not to my abilities as a mother.

Now, if Britney was driving drunk, say, or on drugs, then that would be a valid point, but she's never been convicted or even accused of that by the police. She has, though, been accused of "habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol" – but that accusation was made by her ex-husband, not by a police officer or narcotics investigator or any other outside authority that I can tell, and the fact that a family law judge ordered Britney to undergo drug testing doesn't mean she's a drug addict, it just means she's been accused of being one by her ex-husband. And the fact that she missed a testing appointment doesn't necessarily make her a bad mother, either, just a busy one.

And Britney partied, so what? She shared custody of her children with their father; why should her behavior during K-Fed's custodial period matter at all unless it's illegal? She's young and rich with money that she earned, her kids are cared for in homes that she provides them, she agreed to share custody of them with her ex as well as pay him child support so he could afford to be with them as much as she was – Lord, if she were a man she'd be parent of the year.

Like I said, I hate to defend Britney Spears, but in the end I'm not defending her in particular. I'm defending any parent who worked to support their children while their children's other parent chose not to and then that parent, the working one, went on to face derision afterward – along with an insanely arbitrary and uneven set of standards – during a custody fight. Britney's experience in the court system is now a blueprint for future custody cases, a future in which a parent can lose their kids not for being a bad parent, but for being a bad bureaucrat.

Hollis Gillespie founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com). She will be appearing on Nov. 14 at PushPush Theater to benefit the Max Beck Family Charity Fund. www.pushpushtheater.com."
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But here is the thing that bugs the motherly crap out of me about Britney Spears: She's 26, and not only does she financially support her children and their father, she arguably financially supports his children from a previous relationship as well, plus the children in the households of any number of administrative and creative people (hundreds, probably) whose incomes are directly derived from her work. Most fathers would be heralded for that. Yet Britney is vilified because she, among other things, performed (very badly) at the MTV Music Video Awards last September while her ex-husband stayed home with their sons and threw them a double birthday party. Never mind that it wasn't even Britney's sons' birthdays that night.

Never mind that, a few days later, when it was her kids' actual birthdays, Britney might have been home giving them pony rides and lactating all over them with motherly love for all we know. Never mind that it's totally customary for divorced parents to each hold their own separate birthday celebrations for their children. Never mind that.

OK, Christ. I do mind that. Because why should one parent be derided for working to provide for her kids, while her jobless ex who earned less than $8,000 last year is practically proclaimed a saint for opening up a packet of party hats somewhere within the week of their kids' actual birthdays?

I mind that. Just like I mind a recent article reporting that a judge, in a private proceeding, cited Britney's "drug- and alcohol-infused lifestyle," and then three paragraphs later it states that this same judge had ordered the transcripts from the proceedings sealed. My question is, how the hell does this reporter know what the judge said in a ''private'' proceeding if the transcripts were sealed?

__And what exactly__ did Britney do to lose custody of her kids? She had a fender bender while trying to park? Were the fenders made of babies? She lacked a California driver's license? Since when does the state listed on your driver's license determine your abilities as a parent? I don't have a California driver's license. I drive in California with my Georgia license all the time. I don't think that makes me a bad mother any more than it makes another mother bad for driving there with a Louisiana one, as Britney did.

Hit and run? The other car was parked, its driver not there, and its fender not bent. Britney's choice to leave without putting a note on the windshield is not one I would have made, but that choice relates to my conscientiousness as a person, not to my abilities as a mother.

Now, if Britney was driving drunk, say, or on drugs, then that would be a valid point, but she's never been convicted or even accused of that by the police. She has, though, been accused of "habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol" – but that accusation was made by her ex-husband, not by a police officer or narcotics investigator or any other outside authority that I can tell, and the fact that a family law judge ordered Britney to undergo drug testing doesn't mean she's a drug addict, it just means she's been accused of being one by her ex-husband. And the fact that she missed a testing appointment doesn't necessarily make her a bad mother, either, just a busy one.

And Britney partied, so what? She shared custody of her children with their father; why should her behavior during K-Fed's custodial period matter at all unless it's illegal? She's young and rich with money that she earned, her kids are cared for in homes that she provides them, she agreed to share custody of them with her ex as well as pay him child support so he could afford to be with them as much as she was – Lord, if she were a man she'd be parent of the year.

Like I said, I hate to defend Britney Spears, but in the end I'm not defending her in particular. I'm defending any parent who worked to support their children while their children's other parent chose not to and then that parent, the working one, went on to face derision afterward – along with an insanely arbitrary and uneven set of standards – during a custody fight. Britney's experience in the court system is now a blueprint for future custody cases, a future in which a parent can lose their kids not for being a bad parent, but for being a bad bureaucrat.

''Hollis Gillespie founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]). She will be appearing on Nov. 14 at PushPush Theater to benefit the Max Beck Family Charity Fund. [http://www.pushpushtheater.com/|www.pushpushtheater.com].''"
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  string(5110) "    But if she were a man she'd be parent of the year   2007-11-07T05:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - I hate to defend Britney Spears   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-11-07T05:04:00+00:00  I hate to defend Britney Spears, I really do, and not because she's a bad mother — I have no idea what kind of mother she is outside of what is forced on me through the news — but because she's so pilloried in the press these days, I'm loathe to attract the hatchet my way.

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OK, Christ. I do mind that. Because why should one parent be derided for working to provide for her kids, while her jobless ex who earned less than $8,000 last year is practically proclaimed a saint for opening up a packet of party hats somewhere within the week of their kids' actual birthdays?

I mind that. Just like I mind a recent article reporting that a judge, in a private proceeding, cited Britney's "drug- and alcohol-infused lifestyle," and then three paragraphs later it states that this same judge had ordered the transcripts from the proceedings sealed. My question is, how the hell does this reporter know what the judge said in a private proceeding if the transcripts were sealed?

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Hit and run? The other car was parked, its driver not there, and its fender not bent. Britney's choice to leave without putting a note on the windshield is not one I would have made, but that choice relates to my conscientiousness as a person, not to my abilities as a mother.

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And Britney partied, so what? She shared custody of her children with their father; why should her behavior during K-Fed's custodial period matter at all unless it's illegal? She's young and rich with money that she earned, her kids are cared for in homes that she provides them, she agreed to share custody of them with her ex as well as pay him child support so he could afford to be with them as much as she was – Lord, if she were a man she'd be parent of the year.

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Hollis Gillespie founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com). She will be appearing on Nov. 14 at PushPush Theater to benefit the Max Beck Family Charity Fund. www.pushpushtheater.com.             13025940 1270401                          Moodswing - I hate to defend Britney Spears "
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Wednesday November 7, 2007 12:04 am EST
But if she were a man she'd be parent of the year | more...
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  string(4756) "I'm in the hospital visiting my friend Max, who is hooked up to hoses and sleeping, thank God. Rather than think about the pain he is suffering, I'm thinking about my bathroom sink, which is covered in cigarette burns. This means there is work ahead for me, because that cigarette-burnt sink and its surrounding vanity need to be torn out, but before I ever get started on stuff like this, before I get out my overalls and tool belt and thick leather mules, my brain wants an image in my head of who to blame for those burns, and if there is no one to blame I'll blame someone anyway.

It can't be the home's original owner, because this sink is made from some cheap-ass amalgam that can't possibly have been around in the '40s when this tiny house was built, and it's not the last owner, because he didn't look like a smoker, so it had to be the owner in between. Her name was Rose, and I hear she died of cancer.

Bitch, heard of an ashtray? I grumble to her inwardly. Even I – me – as a chain-smoking 12-year-old, even I could fashion an ashtray out of damn near anything. Get a goddamn grapefruit rind, for chrissakes.

I only stole from my father's supply of super-tar tumor sticks when the supply he kept on top of our refrigerator wasn't running low enough to where he might notice a pack missing, and you didn't want to be around my dad when he was low on cigarettes. I remember he once had me walk to the liquor store in my pajamas to replenish his carton because the half-pack he had left wouldn't get him through the 11 o'clock news.

Still, though, I would rather face the creepy, child-molesting masturbator who ran the cash register at the liquor store than brave my father when his cig supply was dwindling. Lord Jesus God, but that man could rampage on a nicotine withdrawal. We were still scraping the ketchup out of the cupboards from the last time. Evidently what happened is my dad shook the ketchup bottle when the cap was loose, so a drop got on his favorite Bermuda shorts – the ones made from light denim printed with pretzels and beer cans – and I guess my dad, in his tar-starved head, figured why stop at a drop? Then he splattered the entire kitchen with ketchup while raving about his absolute inability to understand how his daughters could be so stupid as to leave the cap loose on the ketchup bottle.

"I mean, just look what can happen!" he was hollering, but by then the three of us had run out of the house to hide in the empty motel cabin we'd figured out how to break into at the motor-court across the street. We didn't come home until after our mother returned from work, at which point we were dispatched straight to the liquor store to procure a carton of Marlboros.

When we moved out of that house six months later, there were still ketchup splatters at the back of the spice cabinet, as well as about a million cigarette burns on the kitchen counter, because my father had the same habit as Rose, the former owner of this house, which was to just lay his damn cigarette on the edge of the sink and leave it there until the end burned into the crappy composite that made up the counter. The owners of that house knew exactly who to blame for those burns, as a court summons followed us to our next address, demanding payment for replacing the counter. After that, my father didn't change his habit of marking up the counters of our rented houses with cigarette burns, but he did try to cover the damage with spray paint – that is until his last address, where he died, like Rose, a victim of his own habits.

But just because Rose is dead doesn't mean she escapes blame. I blame her, I do, just like I blame my dad – the damn-ass cigarette-burning fool. I was 13 when I kicked the habit; why the hell can't a grown man with kids who need him put down the pack long enough not to die like a lab rat in a jar? And here I am in the hospital next to my friend Max, a father himself, with an illness for which he cannot possibly be blamed, fighting for every minute he has, and I'm trying not to be angry, I really am, but when you're useless in the face of suffering, your brain wants an image in your head of who to blame for this, and if there is no one to blame, you blame someone anyway. Max is so sick, with a legacy of his own that doesn't include burns, while the burns made by my father will soon be older than he was when he died, and I'm sitting here angry and powerless and empty of any useful knowledge except this one thing I keep thinking about, this one thing I know for certain, and that is this: Wouldn't Max just love some of the days that my dad threw away?

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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It can't be the home's original owner, because this sink is made from some cheap-ass amalgam that can't possibly have been around in the '40s when this tiny house was built, and it's not the last owner, because he didn't look like a smoker, so it had to be the owner in between. Her name was Rose, and I hear she died of cancer.

''Bitch, heard of an ashtray?'' I grumble to her inwardly. ''Even I – me – as a chain-smoking 12-year-old, even I could fashion an ashtray out of damn near anything. Get a goddamn grapefruit rind, for chrissakes.''

__I only stole__ from my father's supply of super-tar tumor sticks when the supply he kept on top of our refrigerator wasn't running low enough to where he might notice a pack missing, and you didn't want to be around my dad when he was low on cigarettes. I remember he once had me walk to the liquor store in my pajamas to replenish his carton because the half-pack he had left wouldn't get him through the 11 o'clock news.

Still, though, I would rather face the creepy, child-molesting masturbator who ran the cash register at the liquor store than brave my father when his cig supply was dwindling. Lord Jesus God, but that man could rampage on a nicotine withdrawal. We were still scraping the ketchup out of the cupboards from the last time. Evidently what happened is my dad shook the ketchup bottle when the cap was loose, so a drop got on his favorite Bermuda shorts – the ones made from light denim printed with pretzels and beer cans – and I guess my dad, in his tar-starved head, figured why stop at a drop? Then he splattered the entire kitchen with ketchup while raving about his absolute inability to understand how his daughters could be so stupid as to leave the cap loose on the ketchup bottle.

"I mean, ''just look what can happen!''" he was hollering, but by then the three of us had run out of the house to hide in the empty motel cabin we'd figured out how to break into at the motor-court across the street. We didn't come home until after our mother returned from work, at which point we were dispatched straight to the liquor store to procure a carton of Marlboros.

When we moved out of that house six months later, there were still ketchup splatters at the back of the spice cabinet, as well as about a million cigarette burns on the kitchen counter, because my father had the same habit as Rose, the former owner of this house, which was to just lay his damn cigarette on the edge of the sink and leave it there until the end burned into the crappy composite that made up the counter. The owners of that house knew exactly who to blame for those burns, as a court summons followed us to our next address, demanding payment for replacing the counter. After that, my father didn't change his habit of marking up the counters of our rented houses with cigarette burns, but he did try to cover the damage with spray paint – that is until his last address, where he died, like Rose, a victim of his own habits.

But just because Rose is dead doesn't mean she escapes blame. I blame her, I do, just like I blame my dad – the damn-ass cigarette-burning fool. I was 13 when I kicked the habit; why the hell can't a grown man with kids who need him put down the pack long enough not to die like a lab rat in a jar? And here I am in the hospital next to my friend Max, a father himself, with an illness for which he cannot possibly be blamed, fighting for every minute he has, and I'm trying not to be angry, I really am, but when you're useless in the face of suffering, your brain wants an image in your head of who to blame for this, and if there is no one to blame, you blame someone anyway. Max is so sick, with a legacy of his own that doesn't include burns, while the burns made by my father will soon be older than he was when he died, and I'm sitting here angry and powerless and empty of any useful knowledge except this one thing I keep thinking about, this one thing I know for certain, and that is this: Wouldn't Max just love some of the days that my dad threw away?

''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(5002) "    Blaming someone when there's no one to blame   2007-10-31T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - A legacy of burns   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-10-31T04:04:00+00:00  I'm in the hospital visiting my friend Max, who is hooked up to hoses and sleeping, thank God. Rather than think about the pain he is suffering, I'm thinking about my bathroom sink, which is covered in cigarette burns. This means there is work ahead for me, because that cigarette-burnt sink and its surrounding vanity need to be torn out, but before I ever get started on stuff like this, before I get out my overalls and tool belt and thick leather mules, my brain wants an image in my head of who to blame for those burns, and if there is no one to blame I'll blame someone anyway.

It can't be the home's original owner, because this sink is made from some cheap-ass amalgam that can't possibly have been around in the '40s when this tiny house was built, and it's not the last owner, because he didn't look like a smoker, so it had to be the owner in between. Her name was Rose, and I hear she died of cancer.

Bitch, heard of an ashtray? I grumble to her inwardly. Even I – me – as a chain-smoking 12-year-old, even I could fashion an ashtray out of damn near anything. Get a goddamn grapefruit rind, for chrissakes.

I only stole from my father's supply of super-tar tumor sticks when the supply he kept on top of our refrigerator wasn't running low enough to where he might notice a pack missing, and you didn't want to be around my dad when he was low on cigarettes. I remember he once had me walk to the liquor store in my pajamas to replenish his carton because the half-pack he had left wouldn't get him through the 11 o'clock news.

Still, though, I would rather face the creepy, child-molesting masturbator who ran the cash register at the liquor store than brave my father when his cig supply was dwindling. Lord Jesus God, but that man could rampage on a nicotine withdrawal. We were still scraping the ketchup out of the cupboards from the last time. Evidently what happened is my dad shook the ketchup bottle when the cap was loose, so a drop got on his favorite Bermuda shorts – the ones made from light denim printed with pretzels and beer cans – and I guess my dad, in his tar-starved head, figured why stop at a drop? Then he splattered the entire kitchen with ketchup while raving about his absolute inability to understand how his daughters could be so stupid as to leave the cap loose on the ketchup bottle.

"I mean, just look what can happen!" he was hollering, but by then the three of us had run out of the house to hide in the empty motel cabin we'd figured out how to break into at the motor-court across the street. We didn't come home until after our mother returned from work, at which point we were dispatched straight to the liquor store to procure a carton of Marlboros.

When we moved out of that house six months later, there were still ketchup splatters at the back of the spice cabinet, as well as about a million cigarette burns on the kitchen counter, because my father had the same habit as Rose, the former owner of this house, which was to just lay his damn cigarette on the edge of the sink and leave it there until the end burned into the crappy composite that made up the counter. The owners of that house knew exactly who to blame for those burns, as a court summons followed us to our next address, demanding payment for replacing the counter. After that, my father didn't change his habit of marking up the counters of our rented houses with cigarette burns, but he did try to cover the damage with spray paint – that is until his last address, where he died, like Rose, a victim of his own habits.

But just because Rose is dead doesn't mean she escapes blame. I blame her, I do, just like I blame my dad – the damn-ass cigarette-burning fool. I was 13 when I kicked the habit; why the hell can't a grown man with kids who need him put down the pack long enough not to die like a lab rat in a jar? And here I am in the hospital next to my friend Max, a father himself, with an illness for which he cannot possibly be blamed, fighting for every minute he has, and I'm trying not to be angry, I really am, but when you're useless in the face of suffering, your brain wants an image in your head of who to blame for this, and if there is no one to blame, you blame someone anyway. Max is so sick, with a legacy of his own that doesn't include burns, while the burns made by my father will soon be older than he was when he died, and I'm sitting here angry and powerless and empty of any useful knowledge except this one thing I keep thinking about, this one thing I know for certain, and that is this: Wouldn't Max just love some of the days that my dad threw away?

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13025895 1270307                          Moodswing - A legacy of burns "
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Moodswing

Wednesday October 31, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Blaming someone when there's no one to blame | more...
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  string(4665) "Lary is the last person who should be here. I need help, I tell you. Help. I need someone to hold me back, not someone to back me up, because right now, as I speak, there is already, erected in my back yard, a haunted house that is bigger than the house I actually live in. That right there is evidence I have a problem. Last year I was able to rein it in a little, even though I built a canopy to cover my entire front yard in case it rained – which of course it so totally did – so thank God for the canopy. And my treat selection was so huge I might as well have set the kids loose in the candy aisle at Wal-Mart. By the time they got home they were probably so coked up they could set off car alarms from across the street. (You're welcome, parents.)

This year is already amounting to the mother of all Halloween parties. I paid five guys to clear the giant morass of thorn bushes that formerly made up my back yard so that now there is actually room to walk back there, which was like excavating, I swear. I actually uncovered a windmill, for chrissakes, and a frame for a swing set. Who knew? I was half relieved we didn't find a set of little mummified tykes to go with it, still sitting in the swings.

"That would have been cool," said Lary.

Like I said, Lary is the last person who should be here. I've known him for a hundred years, but it wasn't until recently that I figured out what he does for an actual living; Lary is a "rigger" for large-scale events. That means people actually pay him to take their crazy-assed party ideas and make them a reality. This explains why, a few years ago, when I asked him to help me decorate Mae's fourth birthday party, the theme for which was "Castle Princess," he showed up with a rented bulldozer to dig a moat.

Lary is here hanging outdoor speakers so the sounds of tortured groans can be carried throughout my back yard. "If you don't want to kill any kids," he says, "you should use the heavier wire." I would very much like not to electrocute my guests, no matter how much Lary insists that fried people would provide cool Halloween props, so I opted for the heavier wire. Earlier I'd had him on the phone at Home Depot, trying to collect all the spooled coils and clip sockets and other electrical components he said were essential to activate the animatrons, when all of a sudden it occurred to me what the hell it was, exactly, that he was aiming to get me to make.

"This sounds like an extension cord! Are we making an extension cord?" I hissed. "You retard! I can buy them for a buck a piece at Family Dollar!"

"Sure," he said, "but what's the fun in that?"

Lord, I do not have time to build my own extension cords. I have important things to do. I have a checklist. Do I have enough fake blood? Check. Did I remember to buy the foam board for the fake tombstones? Check. Did I borrow the rubber carcass from my neighbor? Check.

Before I had a child, all this energy used to go into my own costume, which often included blinking lights and battery packs. One year I was so exhausted after getting into costume that I sat down to rest before hitting the parties, only to awaken on my couch four hours later with the illuminated skull on the end of my scepter barely still glowing.

Now I let Mae pick our costumes, and at 7 she's old enough now to ask for less bizarre stuff, like this year she simply asked that I be a witch like her. I expected to feel more relieved than I was, but instead the feeling was clouded by an odd melancholy. "I still have the double-butted baboon costume from last year," I offered meekly, but she demurred, even going so far as to suggest that the baboon butts were not National Geographic grade.

What? Last year that costume garnered me God status in Mae's eyes. She showed me off to her classmates like a prized captured spider, and my heart shot like a rocket right out of my chest. Realizing now that the double-butted baboon costume has lost all its power makes me want to groan like the torture victims on the Halloween soundtrack.

Instead I look at all the Halloween pictures taken since Mae was born; the ladybug costume at age 1, the sparkle princess at 2, the mermaid at 3 and so on. I look at her face in those photos, and I go over my other checklist. Did I hang her pumpkin drawings? Check. Have I laid out her costume? Check. Does my soul widen like the open sky when I look in her eyes? Do I cry with pride at the sight of her? Does my heart happily break every day she grows and makes her way? Check, check, check.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4731) "Lary is the last person who should be here. I need help, I tell you. ''Help''. I need someone to hold me back, not someone to ''back me up'', because right now, as I speak, there is already, erected in my back yard, a haunted house that is bigger than the house I actually live in. That right there is evidence I have a problem. Last year I was able to rein it in a little, even though I built a canopy to cover my entire front yard in case it rained – which of course it so totally did – so thank God for the canopy. And my treat selection was so huge I might as well have set the kids loose in the candy aisle at Wal-Mart. By the time they got home they were probably so coked up they could set off car alarms from across the street. (You're welcome, parents.)

This year is already amounting to the mother of all Halloween parties. I paid five guys to clear the giant morass of thorn bushes that formerly made up my back yard so that now there is actually room to walk back there, which was like excavating, I swear. I actually uncovered a windmill, for chrissakes, and a frame for a swing set. Who knew? I was half relieved we didn't find a set of little mummified tykes to go with it, still sitting in the swings.

"That would have been cool," said Lary.

Like I said, Lary is the last person who should be here. I've known him for a hundred years, but it wasn't until recently that I figured out what he does for an actual living; Lary is a "rigger" for large-scale events. That means people actually pay him to take their crazy-assed party ideas and make them a reality. This explains why, a few years ago, when I asked him to help me decorate Mae's fourth birthday party, the theme for which was "Castle Princess," he showed up with a rented bulldozer to dig a moat.

Lary is here hanging outdoor speakers so the sounds of tortured groans can be carried throughout my back yard. "If you don't want to kill any kids," he says, "you should use the heavier wire." I would very much like not to electrocute my guests, no matter how much Lary insists that fried people would provide cool Halloween props, so I opted for the heavier wire. Earlier I'd had him on the phone at Home Depot, trying to collect all the spooled coils and clip sockets and other electrical components he said were essential to activate the animatrons, when all of a sudden it occurred to me what the hell it was, exactly, that he was aiming to get me to make.

"This sounds like an ''extension cord!'' Are we ''making'' an extension cord?" I hissed. "You retard! I can buy them for a buck a piece at Family Dollar!"

"Sure," he said, "but what's the fun in that?"

__Lord, I do not have time__ to build my own extension cords. I have important things to do. I have a checklist. Do I have enough fake blood? Check. Did I remember to buy the foam board for the fake tombstones? Check. Did I borrow the rubber carcass from my neighbor? Check.

Before I had a child, all this energy used to go into my own costume, which often included blinking lights and battery packs. One year I was so exhausted after getting into costume that I sat down to rest before hitting the parties, only to awaken on my couch four hours later with the illuminated skull on the end of my scepter barely still glowing.

Now I let Mae pick our costumes, and at 7 she's old enough now to ask for less bizarre stuff, like this year she simply asked that I be a witch like her. I expected to feel more relieved than I was, but instead the feeling was clouded by an odd melancholy. "I still have the double-butted baboon costume from last year," I offered meekly, but she demurred, even going so far as to suggest that the baboon butts were not ''National Geographic'' grade.

What? Last year that costume garnered me God status in Mae's eyes. She showed me off to her classmates like a prized captured spider, and my heart shot like a rocket right out of my chest. Realizing now that the double-butted baboon costume has lost all its power makes me want to groan like the torture victims on the Halloween soundtrack.

Instead I look at all the Halloween pictures taken since Mae was born; the ladybug costume at age 1, the sparkle princess at 2, the mermaid at 3 and so on. I look at her face in those photos, and I go over my other checklist. Did I hang her pumpkin drawings? Check. Have I laid out her costume? Check. Does my soul widen like the open sky when I look in her eyes? Do I cry with pride at the sight of her? Does my heart happily break every day she grows and makes her way? Check, check, check.

''__Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).__''"
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  string(4892) "    Confessions of a Halloween-oholic   2007-10-24T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - The checklist   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-10-24T04:04:00+00:00  Lary is the last person who should be here. I need help, I tell you. Help. I need someone to hold me back, not someone to back me up, because right now, as I speak, there is already, erected in my back yard, a haunted house that is bigger than the house I actually live in. That right there is evidence I have a problem. Last year I was able to rein it in a little, even though I built a canopy to cover my entire front yard in case it rained – which of course it so totally did – so thank God for the canopy. And my treat selection was so huge I might as well have set the kids loose in the candy aisle at Wal-Mart. By the time they got home they were probably so coked up they could set off car alarms from across the street. (You're welcome, parents.)

This year is already amounting to the mother of all Halloween parties. I paid five guys to clear the giant morass of thorn bushes that formerly made up my back yard so that now there is actually room to walk back there, which was like excavating, I swear. I actually uncovered a windmill, for chrissakes, and a frame for a swing set. Who knew? I was half relieved we didn't find a set of little mummified tykes to go with it, still sitting in the swings.

"That would have been cool," said Lary.

Like I said, Lary is the last person who should be here. I've known him for a hundred years, but it wasn't until recently that I figured out what he does for an actual living; Lary is a "rigger" for large-scale events. That means people actually pay him to take their crazy-assed party ideas and make them a reality. This explains why, a few years ago, when I asked him to help me decorate Mae's fourth birthday party, the theme for which was "Castle Princess," he showed up with a rented bulldozer to dig a moat.

Lary is here hanging outdoor speakers so the sounds of tortured groans can be carried throughout my back yard. "If you don't want to kill any kids," he says, "you should use the heavier wire." I would very much like not to electrocute my guests, no matter how much Lary insists that fried people would provide cool Halloween props, so I opted for the heavier wire. Earlier I'd had him on the phone at Home Depot, trying to collect all the spooled coils and clip sockets and other electrical components he said were essential to activate the animatrons, when all of a sudden it occurred to me what the hell it was, exactly, that he was aiming to get me to make.

"This sounds like an extension cord! Are we making an extension cord?" I hissed. "You retard! I can buy them for a buck a piece at Family Dollar!"

"Sure," he said, "but what's the fun in that?"

Lord, I do not have time to build my own extension cords. I have important things to do. I have a checklist. Do I have enough fake blood? Check. Did I remember to buy the foam board for the fake tombstones? Check. Did I borrow the rubber carcass from my neighbor? Check.

Before I had a child, all this energy used to go into my own costume, which often included blinking lights and battery packs. One year I was so exhausted after getting into costume that I sat down to rest before hitting the parties, only to awaken on my couch four hours later with the illuminated skull on the end of my scepter barely still glowing.

Now I let Mae pick our costumes, and at 7 she's old enough now to ask for less bizarre stuff, like this year she simply asked that I be a witch like her. I expected to feel more relieved than I was, but instead the feeling was clouded by an odd melancholy. "I still have the double-butted baboon costume from last year," I offered meekly, but she demurred, even going so far as to suggest that the baboon butts were not National Geographic grade.

What? Last year that costume garnered me God status in Mae's eyes. She showed me off to her classmates like a prized captured spider, and my heart shot like a rocket right out of my chest. Realizing now that the double-butted baboon costume has lost all its power makes me want to groan like the torture victims on the Halloween soundtrack.

Instead I look at all the Halloween pictures taken since Mae was born; the ladybug costume at age 1, the sparkle princess at 2, the mermaid at 3 and so on. I look at her face in those photos, and I go over my other checklist. Did I hang her pumpkin drawings? Check. Have I laid out her costume? Check. Does my soul widen like the open sky when I look in her eyes? Do I cry with pride at the sight of her? Does my heart happily break every day she grows and makes her way? Check, check, check.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13025840 1270191                          Moodswing - The checklist "
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Moodswing

Wednesday October 24, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Confessions of a Halloween-oholic | more...