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  string(4979) "My neighbor Dolly doubts that hitting her mother in the head with a hammer would help much, and I have to agree, even though I have limited experience dealing with crazy mothers. My own mother died before she ever went completely crazy; she was just relatively crazy – which might explain why I'm never alarmed when I hear screaming coming from Dolly's place next door. But Dolly is not at all accustomed to being attacked by her mother; in fact she's put off by the whole experience.

"I tell you, I have had the worst couple of days," she laments. "She thinks the house is full of strange babies and yesterday I caught her trying to escape down the street with the dog in her arms."

Dolly's a good neighbor, and hardly ever imposes on me considering she lives with a person in the throes of dementia. If I were in her situation, I'd probably be a lot more intrusive on the surrounding households. And for a woman suffering advanced Alzheimer's, Dolly's mother Dot is still pretty deft at keeping the craziness within the walls of their home, or Dolly is good at secluding it there. There have only been a few times I've had to usher Dot's barefoot, nightgown-clad butt out of the street and back to her doorstep.

One time I caught her in the middle of the road collecting industrial trace material that had fallen off the back of a truck, but that did not seem crazy to me at all, except that it was 60 degrees and Dot was wearing one of those '50s-era, Lucille-Ball-type ruffle-neck negligees, but it would not be the first time I'd seen someone rushing out of the house in their pajamas to deal with a dire situation. I remember a man did just that once when I was 7 and I'd found our dog Bonnie stuck butt-to-butt with some mutt up the street. I bawled sorrowfully in my ineffectual attempts to pull them apart until a man in pajama bottoms, obviously roused from sleep, took it upon himself to save me by throwing a bucket of cold water on the dogs, which caused Bonnie to pop free and commence gestating the seven puppies she'd have a few months later. I did not think that man was crazy at all, just a good Samaritan.

So that's what I thought about Dot when I saw her in the street that time, collecting hose valves and coiled piping that had fallen off the truck. To me, the stuff looked easily dodgeable. But Dot insisted on clearing the road that instant. I led her out of the street and finished hoisting the debris to the side of the road myself, with her pointing out where I missed a spot, even though I didn't miss any spots. I didn't think she was crazier than me, just more thoughtful. Crazy, after all, is relative.

Dolly finally admitted her mother to a treatment facility the other day, the screaming and histrionics having reached a point that was intolerable for her, especially after Dot took to insisting Dolly was a dangerous stranger who'd kidnapped her (long-dead) husband and real daughter, hence all the attempts at escape lately. I'd seen Dot out and about recently. She did not look like she was making an escape; she just looked like a little old lady tottering around in her pajamas. "I can't wait to get old," I thought at the time, "so I can wear whatever the goddamn hell I want and dance a jig in a rain shower if I feel like it."

Though I have always known Dot to be cantankerous, it's only been a year since we met, and evidently all this screaming and viciousness is not a normal trait of hers, according to Dolly. Apparently it's disconcerting to constantly have to dodge attacks from a tiny, little old lady living in your house, and to regularly sustain accusations from her that you have kidnapped your younger self. How hard it must be, I think, to hear your mother wail for the child that you were, to look at you as though you are a stranger, as though you don't miss your younger self enough as it is – as though you don't question your reflection enough as it is.

My own independent mother used to tell me all kinds of things about myself I didn't believe. She used to marvel at how strong I was while I swore I didn't know who the hell she was talking about. I thought she didn't know me, because most of the time I felt more helpless than a hermit crab without a shell. I used to look in the mirror and wonder if she was confusing me with herself. I used to think she was a little nutty for seeing herself in me like she did, but again, crazy is relative. The late novelist Sheila Ballantyne once said, "You can always trust the information given to you by people who are crazy, because they have an access to truth not available through regular channels." So maybe Dolly did kidnap her younger self – don't we all eventually? – and maybe my mother was onto something as well. Because, I swear this is true, when I look in the mirror these days I sometimes see her looking back at me.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(5021) "My neighbor Dolly doubts that hitting her mother in the head with a hammer would help much, and I have to agree, even though I have limited experience dealing with crazy mothers. My own mother died before she ever went completely crazy; she was just relatively crazy – which might explain why I'm never alarmed when I hear screaming coming from Dolly's place next door. But Dolly is not at all accustomed to being attacked by her mother; in fact she's put off by the whole experience.

"I tell you, I have had the worst couple of days," she laments. "She thinks the house is full of strange babies and yesterday I caught her trying to escape down the street with the dog in her arms."

Dolly's a good neighbor, and hardly ever imposes on me considering she lives with a person in the throes of dementia. If I were in her situation, I'd probably be a lot more intrusive on the surrounding households. And for a woman suffering advanced Alzheimer's, Dolly's mother Dot is still pretty deft at keeping the craziness within the walls of their home, or Dolly is good at secluding it there. There have only been a few times I've had to usher Dot's barefoot, nightgown-clad butt out of the street and back to her doorstep.

One time I caught her in the middle of the road collecting industrial trace material that had fallen off the back of a truck, but that did not seem crazy to me at all, except that it was 60 degrees and Dot was wearing one of those '50s-era, Lucille-Ball-type ruffle-neck negligees, but it would not be the first time I'd seen someone rushing out of the house in their pajamas to deal with a dire situation. I remember a man did just that once when I was 7 and I'd found our dog Bonnie stuck butt-to-butt with some mutt up the street. I bawled sorrowfully in my ineffectual attempts to pull them apart until a man in pajama bottoms, obviously roused from sleep, took it upon himself to save me by throwing a bucket of cold water on the dogs, which caused Bonnie to pop free and commence gestating the seven puppies she'd have a few months later. I did not think that man was crazy at all, just a good Samaritan.

__So that's what__ I thought about Dot when I saw her in the street that time, collecting hose valves and coiled piping that had fallen off the truck. To me, the stuff looked easily dodgeable. But Dot insisted on clearing the road that instant. I led her out of the street and finished hoisting the debris to the side of the road myself, with her pointing out where I missed a spot, even though I didn't miss any spots. I didn't think she was crazier than me, just more thoughtful. Crazy, after all, is relative.

Dolly finally admitted her mother to a treatment facility the other day, the screaming and histrionics having reached a point that was intolerable for her, especially after Dot took to insisting Dolly was a dangerous stranger who'd kidnapped her (long-dead) husband and real daughter, hence all the attempts at escape lately. I'd seen Dot out and about recently. She did not look like she was making an escape; she just looked like a little old lady tottering around in her pajamas. "I can't wait to get old," I thought at the time, "so I can wear whatever the goddamn hell I want and dance a jig in a rain shower if I feel like it."

Though I have always known Dot to be cantankerous, it's only been a year since we met, and evidently all this screaming and viciousness is not a normal trait of hers, according to Dolly. Apparently it's disconcerting to constantly have to dodge attacks from a tiny, little old lady living in your house, and to regularly sustain accusations from her that you have kidnapped your younger self. How hard it must be, I think, to hear your mother wail for the child that you were, to look at you as though you are a stranger, as though you don't miss your younger self enough as it is – as though you don't question your reflection enough as it is.

My own independent mother used to tell me all kinds of things about myself I didn't believe. She used to marvel at how strong I was while I swore I didn't know who the hell she was talking about. I thought she didn't know me, because most of the time I felt more helpless than a hermit crab without a shell. I used to look in the mirror and wonder if she was confusing me with herself. I used to think she was a little nutty for seeing herself in me like she did, but again, crazy is relative. The late novelist Sheila Ballantyne once said, "You can always trust the information given to you by people who are crazy, because they have an access to truth not available through regular channels." So maybe Dolly did kidnap her younger self – don't we all eventually? – and maybe my mother was onto something as well. Because, I swear this is true, when I look in the mirror these days I sometimes see her looking back at me.

''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(5209) "    An uncontrollable mother   2007-10-17T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Crazy (is) relative   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-10-17T04:04:00+00:00  My neighbor Dolly doubts that hitting her mother in the head with a hammer would help much, and I have to agree, even though I have limited experience dealing with crazy mothers. My own mother died before she ever went completely crazy; she was just relatively crazy – which might explain why I'm never alarmed when I hear screaming coming from Dolly's place next door. But Dolly is not at all accustomed to being attacked by her mother; in fact she's put off by the whole experience.

"I tell you, I have had the worst couple of days," she laments. "She thinks the house is full of strange babies and yesterday I caught her trying to escape down the street with the dog in her arms."

Dolly's a good neighbor, and hardly ever imposes on me considering she lives with a person in the throes of dementia. If I were in her situation, I'd probably be a lot more intrusive on the surrounding households. And for a woman suffering advanced Alzheimer's, Dolly's mother Dot is still pretty deft at keeping the craziness within the walls of their home, or Dolly is good at secluding it there. There have only been a few times I've had to usher Dot's barefoot, nightgown-clad butt out of the street and back to her doorstep.

One time I caught her in the middle of the road collecting industrial trace material that had fallen off the back of a truck, but that did not seem crazy to me at all, except that it was 60 degrees and Dot was wearing one of those '50s-era, Lucille-Ball-type ruffle-neck negligees, but it would not be the first time I'd seen someone rushing out of the house in their pajamas to deal with a dire situation. I remember a man did just that once when I was 7 and I'd found our dog Bonnie stuck butt-to-butt with some mutt up the street. I bawled sorrowfully in my ineffectual attempts to pull them apart until a man in pajama bottoms, obviously roused from sleep, took it upon himself to save me by throwing a bucket of cold water on the dogs, which caused Bonnie to pop free and commence gestating the seven puppies she'd have a few months later. I did not think that man was crazy at all, just a good Samaritan.

So that's what I thought about Dot when I saw her in the street that time, collecting hose valves and coiled piping that had fallen off the truck. To me, the stuff looked easily dodgeable. But Dot insisted on clearing the road that instant. I led her out of the street and finished hoisting the debris to the side of the road myself, with her pointing out where I missed a spot, even though I didn't miss any spots. I didn't think she was crazier than me, just more thoughtful. Crazy, after all, is relative.

Dolly finally admitted her mother to a treatment facility the other day, the screaming and histrionics having reached a point that was intolerable for her, especially after Dot took to insisting Dolly was a dangerous stranger who'd kidnapped her (long-dead) husband and real daughter, hence all the attempts at escape lately. I'd seen Dot out and about recently. She did not look like she was making an escape; she just looked like a little old lady tottering around in her pajamas. "I can't wait to get old," I thought at the time, "so I can wear whatever the goddamn hell I want and dance a jig in a rain shower if I feel like it."

Though I have always known Dot to be cantankerous, it's only been a year since we met, and evidently all this screaming and viciousness is not a normal trait of hers, according to Dolly. Apparently it's disconcerting to constantly have to dodge attacks from a tiny, little old lady living in your house, and to regularly sustain accusations from her that you have kidnapped your younger self. How hard it must be, I think, to hear your mother wail for the child that you were, to look at you as though you are a stranger, as though you don't miss your younger self enough as it is – as though you don't question your reflection enough as it is.

My own independent mother used to tell me all kinds of things about myself I didn't believe. She used to marvel at how strong I was while I swore I didn't know who the hell she was talking about. I thought she didn't know me, because most of the time I felt more helpless than a hermit crab without a shell. I used to look in the mirror and wonder if she was confusing me with herself. I used to think she was a little nutty for seeing herself in me like she did, but again, crazy is relative. The late novelist Sheila Ballantyne once said, "You can always trust the information given to you by people who are crazy, because they have an access to truth not available through regular channels." So maybe Dolly did kidnap her younger self – don't we all eventually? – and maybe my mother was onto something as well. Because, I swear this is true, when I look in the mirror these days I sometimes see her looking back at me.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13025789 1270078                          Moodswing - Crazy (is) relative "
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Moodswing

Wednesday October 17, 2007 12:04 am EDT
An uncontrollable mother | more...
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  string(5055) "Grant's father has had another toe taken off recently. Grant talked about it over coffee like it was an incidental thing, as if his father recently took up Thai cooking or something, not systematic toe amputation.

??
"I asked him how many toes can you lose before losing your balance, and he told me, 'Grant, I haven't had any balance for at least 10 years,'" he laughed.

??
"Do they have toe prosthetics?" I wondered, picturing Grant's father wobbling around on his foot stubs. "Does he need a cane or something?"

??
"I think they have special socks with wooden toes sewn in," Grant surmised. Lary said that if there were no such thing as a toe prosthetic then he would build Grant's father such a thing. But I am very skeptical about Lary's ability to meet the needs of an average grandfather when it comes to toe replacement, because it seems to me an average grandfather would have very modest needs in that regard, and Lary never builds anything modestly.

??
Take the shower he recently built in his warehouse. It has 20 nozzles and 40 knobs and is bigger and more complicated than an industrial car wash. You could seriously get killed in there if you turn the wrong knob, like if you thought you were turning down the heat and hit the steam hose instead. If Lary built Grant's dad a toe prosthetic, the poor man would probably find himself at the top of a tree somewhere, dazed, propelled there after unintentionally activating the toe's "catapult feature."

??
"Lord, Lary, leave the man to his toelessness," I implored. "The world is not ready for your Patented Bionic Fake Toe." Surprisingly, Lary agreed with me. "He's probably better off with no toes than the kind I would make him," he said, showing remarkable empathy for a mad scientist.

??
I didn't even ask why Grant's dad needs his toes intermittently amputated, as I'm assuming it's because of old-people reasons, like diabetes or something, and I'd just as soon avoid that topic. I remember once when I was at the nail salon I overheard a luggage trunk of a woman talk about how she could no longer feel her feet, and that's why she needed professional pedicures, on account of her diabetes, and it made my brain go straight down the rabbit hole. It made me not want to get old, because it sounded like if you live long enough your body decides to die anyway, regardless of whether you're still alive, starting with your toes.

??
Lary himself is pretty damn old, if you ask me, though not nearly as old as Grant's dad. But still you would think he'd be old enough to start tottering like other old people do, but Lary's got remarkable balance. He is constantly walking ledges and dangling from high places, and not just because of his job as an event rigger, either. For example, it must have been an incredible feat of balance to perch that old truck on top of his roof, and without a crane or anything, and all while tripping on acid. Getting it down, I heard, was even harder.

??
Lary's toes are all there, though I don't know if their sensations are still intact. I'll have to stab one with a chair leg the next time we meet for coffee to make sure. It's the least I could do, as we don't want him scaling to the top of any more convention-center ceilings if he's beginning to lose his balance. He could fall on his skull and be paralyzed from the nose down, leaving me to tend to his colostomy needs after he inevitably alienates all his other friends with his sea urchin of a personality. "I will personally chop off your toes myself before I let that happen," I told him. "Grant's dad will be the king of toes compared to you."

??
I've met Grant's father once, and he did not look unbalanced to me, but then neither did Grant, and Grant's balance is definitely questionable, though he doesn't question it. On the other hand, balance is simply your ability to steady yourself in any environment, and Grant and Lary are each certainly capable of pulling that off. In fact, it seems as though I am the one who is always falling, and my friends are the ones who swoop in to steady me again, and who's to say that this whole process itself isn't a successful balancing act? Who's to say this ability to extract balance in an atmosphere of upheaval isn't the most amazing feat of all?

??
It's like juggling. Grant and Lary know the balls aren't falling; they're just being balanced in an unexpected way. And even if one ball falls, you still have the others. Like Grant's father's toes; he might be missing some, but he has the others. He might not be perfectly balanced, but perfection is tedious. There will be plenty of steadiness in the world to counter Grant's father's wobbling, so he might as well wobble away. And he might do well to consider the actions of his son, Grant, who has literally made an art out of staying steady by embracing unsteadiness. "I know there is a balance," Grant says, "because I can see it when I swing past."

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(5101) "Grant's father has had another toe taken off recently. Grant talked about it over coffee like it was an incidental thing, as if his father recently took up Thai cooking or something, not systematic toe amputation.

??
"I asked him how many toes can you lose before losing your balance, and he told me, 'Grant, I haven't had any balance for at least 10 years,'" he laughed.

??
"Do they have toe prosthetics?" I wondered, picturing Grant's father wobbling around on his foot stubs. "Does he need a cane or something?"

??
"I think they have special socks with wooden toes sewn in," Grant surmised. Lary said that if there were no such thing as a toe prosthetic then he would build Grant's father such a thing. But I am very skeptical about Lary's ability to meet the needs of an average grandfather when it comes to toe replacement, because it seems to me an average grandfather would have very modest needs in that regard, and Lary never builds anything modestly.

??
Take the shower he recently built in his warehouse. It has 20 nozzles and 40 knobs and is bigger and more complicated than an industrial car wash. You could seriously get killed in there if you turn the wrong knob, like if you thought you were turning down the heat and hit the steam hose instead. If Lary built Grant's dad a toe prosthetic, the poor man would probably find himself at the top of a tree somewhere, dazed, propelled there after unintentionally activating the toe's "catapult feature."

??
"Lord, Lary, leave the man to his toelessness," I implored. "The world is not ready for your Patented Bionic Fake Toe." Surprisingly, Lary agreed with me. "He's probably better off with no toes than the kind I would make him," he said, showing remarkable empathy for a mad scientist.

??
I didn't even ask why Grant's dad needs his toes intermittently amputated, as I'm assuming it's because of old-people reasons, like diabetes or something, and I'd just as soon avoid that topic. I remember once when I was at the nail salon I overheard a luggage trunk of a woman talk about how she could no longer feel her feet, and that's why she needed professional pedicures, on account of her diabetes, and it made my brain go straight down the rabbit hole. It made me not want to get old, because it sounded like if you live long enough your body decides to die anyway, regardless of whether you're still alive, starting with your toes.

??
__Lary himself__ is pretty damn old, if you ask me, though not nearly as old as Grant's dad. But still you would think he'd be old enough to start tottering like other old people do, but Lary's got remarkable balance. He is constantly walking ledges and dangling from high places, and not just because of his job as an event rigger, either. For example, it must have been an incredible feat of balance to perch that old truck on top of his roof, and without a crane or anything, and all while tripping on acid. Getting it down, I heard, was even harder.

??
Lary's toes are all there, though I don't know if their sensations are still intact. I'll have to stab one with a chair leg the next time we meet for coffee to make sure. It's the least I could do, as we don't want him scaling to the top of any more convention-center ceilings if he's beginning to lose his balance. He could fall on his skull and be paralyzed from the nose down, leaving me to tend to his colostomy needs after he inevitably alienates all his other friends with his sea urchin of a personality. "I will personally chop off your toes myself before I let that happen," I told him. "Grant's dad will be the king of toes compared to you."

??
I've met Grant's father once, and he did not look unbalanced to me, but then neither did Grant, and Grant's balance is definitely questionable, though he doesn't question it. On the other hand, balance is simply your ability to steady yourself in any environment, and Grant and Lary are each certainly capable of pulling that off. In fact, it seems as though I am the one who is always falling, and my friends are the ones who swoop in to steady me again, and who's to say that this whole process itself isn't a successful balancing act? Who's to say this ability to extract balance in an atmosphere of upheaval isn't the most amazing feat of all?

??
It's like juggling. Grant and Lary know the balls aren't falling; they're just being balanced in an unexpected way. And even if one ball falls, you still have the others. Like Grant's father's toes; he might be missing some, but he has the others. He might not be perfectly balanced, but perfection is tedious. There will be plenty of steadiness in the world to counter Grant's father's wobbling, so he might as well wobble away. And he might do well to consider the actions of his son, Grant, who has literally made an art out of staying steady by embracing unsteadiness. "I ''know'' there is a balance," Grant says, "because I can see it when I swing past."

??
''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(5264) "    Perfection is tedious   2007-10-10T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Unbalanced   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-10-10T04:04:00+00:00  Grant's father has had another toe taken off recently. Grant talked about it over coffee like it was an incidental thing, as if his father recently took up Thai cooking or something, not systematic toe amputation.

??
"I asked him how many toes can you lose before losing your balance, and he told me, 'Grant, I haven't had any balance for at least 10 years,'" he laughed.

??
"Do they have toe prosthetics?" I wondered, picturing Grant's father wobbling around on his foot stubs. "Does he need a cane or something?"

??
"I think they have special socks with wooden toes sewn in," Grant surmised. Lary said that if there were no such thing as a toe prosthetic then he would build Grant's father such a thing. But I am very skeptical about Lary's ability to meet the needs of an average grandfather when it comes to toe replacement, because it seems to me an average grandfather would have very modest needs in that regard, and Lary never builds anything modestly.

??
Take the shower he recently built in his warehouse. It has 20 nozzles and 40 knobs and is bigger and more complicated than an industrial car wash. You could seriously get killed in there if you turn the wrong knob, like if you thought you were turning down the heat and hit the steam hose instead. If Lary built Grant's dad a toe prosthetic, the poor man would probably find himself at the top of a tree somewhere, dazed, propelled there after unintentionally activating the toe's "catapult feature."

??
"Lord, Lary, leave the man to his toelessness," I implored. "The world is not ready for your Patented Bionic Fake Toe." Surprisingly, Lary agreed with me. "He's probably better off with no toes than the kind I would make him," he said, showing remarkable empathy for a mad scientist.

??
I didn't even ask why Grant's dad needs his toes intermittently amputated, as I'm assuming it's because of old-people reasons, like diabetes or something, and I'd just as soon avoid that topic. I remember once when I was at the nail salon I overheard a luggage trunk of a woman talk about how she could no longer feel her feet, and that's why she needed professional pedicures, on account of her diabetes, and it made my brain go straight down the rabbit hole. It made me not want to get old, because it sounded like if you live long enough your body decides to die anyway, regardless of whether you're still alive, starting with your toes.

??
Lary himself is pretty damn old, if you ask me, though not nearly as old as Grant's dad. But still you would think he'd be old enough to start tottering like other old people do, but Lary's got remarkable balance. He is constantly walking ledges and dangling from high places, and not just because of his job as an event rigger, either. For example, it must have been an incredible feat of balance to perch that old truck on top of his roof, and without a crane or anything, and all while tripping on acid. Getting it down, I heard, was even harder.

??
Lary's toes are all there, though I don't know if their sensations are still intact. I'll have to stab one with a chair leg the next time we meet for coffee to make sure. It's the least I could do, as we don't want him scaling to the top of any more convention-center ceilings if he's beginning to lose his balance. He could fall on his skull and be paralyzed from the nose down, leaving me to tend to his colostomy needs after he inevitably alienates all his other friends with his sea urchin of a personality. "I will personally chop off your toes myself before I let that happen," I told him. "Grant's dad will be the king of toes compared to you."

??
I've met Grant's father once, and he did not look unbalanced to me, but then neither did Grant, and Grant's balance is definitely questionable, though he doesn't question it. On the other hand, balance is simply your ability to steady yourself in any environment, and Grant and Lary are each certainly capable of pulling that off. In fact, it seems as though I am the one who is always falling, and my friends are the ones who swoop in to steady me again, and who's to say that this whole process itself isn't a successful balancing act? Who's to say this ability to extract balance in an atmosphere of upheaval isn't the most amazing feat of all?

??
It's like juggling. Grant and Lary know the balls aren't falling; they're just being balanced in an unexpected way. And even if one ball falls, you still have the others. Like Grant's father's toes; he might be missing some, but he has the others. He might not be perfectly balanced, but perfection is tedious. There will be plenty of steadiness in the world to counter Grant's father's wobbling, so he might as well wobble away. And he might do well to consider the actions of his son, Grant, who has literally made an art out of staying steady by embracing unsteadiness. "I know there is a balance," Grant says, "because I can see it when I swing past."

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13025741 1269991                          Moodswing - Unbalanced "
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Moodswing

Wednesday October 10, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Perfection is tedious | more...
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  string(4904) "If it were up to me, I would have mixed the lemonade with vodka to ensure the product was super popular, but whaddo I know? It was my daughter's lemonade stand, and she has very definite ideas about her own merchandise.

??
"It has to be homemade, with real lemons," she insisted, knowing, even at 7, to make the distinction, because she knows I could easily figure out how to make homemade lemonade without using any actual lemons. Don't they sell lemon-flavored chemicals at the store? Put that in a pail, at home, aim the garden hose at it and – voila! – homemade lemonade.

??
But no, Mae meant the kind of lemons that grow on trees, and I guess she's the one to judge because she's the one who had to stand by her product, literally. She sat outside of Stone Soup Kitchen all morning and into the afternoon, tending to her little store, which consisted of a sidewalk table under her hand-crafted billboard touting "All-Natural Homemade Lemonade (Comes with Cookie)!"

??
I was on the other side of the window, at one of the inside tables where I had been relegated because, evidently, beaming with pride is bad for business. Also, all my attempts to flag traffic from the busy street corner in her direction were met with lukewarm response from the public, coupled with consternation from Mae, so I am glad I didn't bother borrowing Lary's gorilla suit to bring more attention to myself as I had originally planned.

??
Instead, I watched her from inside the window, marveling at her salesmanship. She didn't even charge people. She just had a jar there with a sign that read, "Suggested Donation: Big Smile." That was my idea, too, which, unlike my other brainstorm to offer a sugar-free option – which sat untouched like a pool of rat drool – actually paid off. I told Mae not to charge a specific price because people are often more generous if you give them the opportunity. It turned out I was right, and in the end, Mae, whose goal was to make enough money to buy herself the "Ruffle Witch" Halloween costume at the corner drugstore, made enough to buy two.

??
I remember when I used to sell stuff door-to-door as a kid, which is how my sisters and I spent our afternoons when we weren't playing air hockey at the bar where our father spent his days. The products we sold were the ones he'd abandoned over the years in his half-hearted attempts to garner an income. They would arrive to our home in boxes — which was convenient since we would inevitably be moving again soon, anyway — and that is where they would have stayed if we hadn't nosed around and found them one day.

??
What we'd found were boxes of greeting cards, wallets, key chains and chocolates (which, of course, we ate). We got a lot of rejection as we went door-to-door, but nothing sold as well as the key chains, thanks to Mr. Festerbeck, our 500-year-old neighbor. He never bought anything from us, but was always a hoot to harass. Plus he whistled through his dentures and had so much junk in his yard it was like picking your way through a rusty treasure trove just to make it to his porch. But the most important thing is he always took it upon himself to give us tips on our sales techniques.

??
"Stand by your product," he'd cackle. "You have to make me think I can't live without it. Like what's this? A key chain? What's so great about this key chain? Looky here, it clips to your belt and it's retractable! Well, my goodness," he'd exclaim, feigning wonderment, "think of the convenience! Think of the bags of groceries that can be saved from being dropped on the front stoop all because of this magnificent key chain! All the cartons of eggs saved from being crushed. This right here will save you time and money! In fact," he gasped, eyes agog, "think of all the pretty ladies who get attacked on their front steps just because they took too long to find their keys in the dark of night! That's how you have to sell it; it can save your life."

??
And off we'd go, laughing, selling our Magnificent Life-Saving Key Chains. We got more takers than we would have otherwise, thanks to our kindly old neighbor, who, it turns out, could have used a life-saving device himself. It wasn't long afterward that Mr. Festerbeck was found dead on his kitchen floor by the local exterminator. The exterminator had been hired by Mr. Festerbeck's neighbors as a kindly hint to rein in whatever it was that was causing such a terrible bug infestation on his property, and the exterminator found the problem, all right. But when I think of Mr. Festerbeck, I try not to remember that part. Instead I remember his cackle, spry eye, and all that time he spent helping me and my sisters improve our sales technique, which is how I know people can be astoundingly generous if you just give them the opportunity.

??
Hollis Gillespie is host of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Workshops (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(4952) "If it were up to me, I would have mixed the lemonade with vodka to ensure the product was super popular, but whaddo I know? It was my daughter's lemonade stand, and she has very definite ideas about her own merchandise.

??
"It has to be homemade, with ''real'' lemons," she insisted, knowing, even at 7, to make the distinction, because she knows I could easily figure out how to make homemade lemonade without using any actual lemons. Don't they sell lemon-flavored chemicals at the store? Put that in a pail, ''at home'', aim the garden hose at it and – voila! – homemade lemonade.

??
But no, Mae meant the kind of lemons that grow on trees, and I guess she's the one to judge because she's the one who had to stand by her product, literally. She sat outside of Stone Soup Kitchen all morning and into the afternoon, tending to her little store, which consisted of a sidewalk table under her hand-crafted billboard touting "All-Natural Homemade Lemonade (Comes with Cookie)!"

??
I was on the other side of the window, at one of the inside tables where I had been relegated because, evidently, beaming with pride is bad for business. Also, all my attempts to flag traffic from the busy street corner in her direction were met with lukewarm response from the public, coupled with consternation from Mae, so I am glad I didn't bother borrowing Lary's gorilla suit to bring more attention to myself as I had originally planned.

??
Instead, I watched her from inside the window, marveling at her salesmanship. She didn't even ''charge'' people. She just had a jar there with a sign that read, "Suggested Donation: Big Smile." That was my idea, too, which, unlike my other brainstorm to offer a sugar-free option – which sat untouched like a pool of rat drool – actually paid off. I told Mae not to charge a specific price because people are often more generous if you give them the opportunity. It turned out I was right, and in the end, Mae, whose goal was to make enough money to buy herself the "Ruffle Witch" Halloween costume at the corner drugstore, made enough to buy two.

??
__I remember when__ I used to sell stuff door-to-door as a kid, which is how my sisters and I spent our afternoons when we weren't playing air hockey at the bar where our father spent his days. The products we sold were the ones he'd abandoned over the years in his half-hearted attempts to garner an income. They would arrive to our home in boxes -- which was convenient since we would inevitably be moving again soon, anyway -- and that is where they would have stayed if we hadn't nosed around and found them one day.

??
What we'd found were boxes of greeting cards, wallets, key chains and chocolates (which, of course, we ate). We got a lot of rejection as we went door-to-door, but nothing sold as well as the key chains, thanks to Mr. Festerbeck, our 500-year-old neighbor. He never bought anything from us, but was always a hoot to harass. Plus he whistled through his dentures and had so much junk in his yard it was like picking your way through a rusty treasure trove just to make it to his porch. But the most important thing is he always took it upon himself to give us tips on our sales techniques.

??
"Stand by your product," he'd cackle. "You have to make me think I can't live without it. Like what's this? A key chain? What's so great about this key chain? Looky here, it clips to your belt and it's retractable! Well, my goodness," he'd exclaim, feigning wonderment, "think of the convenience! Think of the bags of groceries that can be saved from being dropped on the front stoop all because of this magnificent key chain! All the cartons of eggs saved from being crushed. This right here will save you time and money! In fact," he gasped, eyes agog, "think of all the pretty ladies who get attacked on their front steps just because they took too long to find their keys in the dark of night! That's how you have to sell it; it can ''save your life''."

??
And off we'd go, laughing, selling our Magnificent Life-Saving Key Chains. We got more takers than we would have otherwise, thanks to our kindly old neighbor, who, it turns out, could have used a life-saving device himself. It wasn't long afterward that Mr. Festerbeck was found dead on his kitchen floor by the local exterminator. The exterminator had been hired by Mr. Festerbeck's neighbors as a kindly hint to rein in whatever it was that was causing such a terrible bug infestation on his property, and the exterminator found the problem, all right. But when I think of Mr. Festerbeck, I try not to remember that part. Instead I remember his cackle, spry eye, and all that time he spent helping me and my sisters improve our sales technique, which is how I know people can be astoundingly generous if you just give them the opportunity.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is host of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Workshops ([http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com]).''"
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  string(5176) "    The opportunity for generosity   2007-10-03T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - The magnificent life-saving key chain   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-10-03T04:04:00+00:00  If it were up to me, I would have mixed the lemonade with vodka to ensure the product was super popular, but whaddo I know? It was my daughter's lemonade stand, and she has very definite ideas about her own merchandise.

??
"It has to be homemade, with real lemons," she insisted, knowing, even at 7, to make the distinction, because she knows I could easily figure out how to make homemade lemonade without using any actual lemons. Don't they sell lemon-flavored chemicals at the store? Put that in a pail, at home, aim the garden hose at it and – voila! – homemade lemonade.

??
But no, Mae meant the kind of lemons that grow on trees, and I guess she's the one to judge because she's the one who had to stand by her product, literally. She sat outside of Stone Soup Kitchen all morning and into the afternoon, tending to her little store, which consisted of a sidewalk table under her hand-crafted billboard touting "All-Natural Homemade Lemonade (Comes with Cookie)!"

??
I was on the other side of the window, at one of the inside tables where I had been relegated because, evidently, beaming with pride is bad for business. Also, all my attempts to flag traffic from the busy street corner in her direction were met with lukewarm response from the public, coupled with consternation from Mae, so I am glad I didn't bother borrowing Lary's gorilla suit to bring more attention to myself as I had originally planned.

??
Instead, I watched her from inside the window, marveling at her salesmanship. She didn't even charge people. She just had a jar there with a sign that read, "Suggested Donation: Big Smile." That was my idea, too, which, unlike my other brainstorm to offer a sugar-free option – which sat untouched like a pool of rat drool – actually paid off. I told Mae not to charge a specific price because people are often more generous if you give them the opportunity. It turned out I was right, and in the end, Mae, whose goal was to make enough money to buy herself the "Ruffle Witch" Halloween costume at the corner drugstore, made enough to buy two.

??
I remember when I used to sell stuff door-to-door as a kid, which is how my sisters and I spent our afternoons when we weren't playing air hockey at the bar where our father spent his days. The products we sold were the ones he'd abandoned over the years in his half-hearted attempts to garner an income. They would arrive to our home in boxes — which was convenient since we would inevitably be moving again soon, anyway — and that is where they would have stayed if we hadn't nosed around and found them one day.

??
What we'd found were boxes of greeting cards, wallets, key chains and chocolates (which, of course, we ate). We got a lot of rejection as we went door-to-door, but nothing sold as well as the key chains, thanks to Mr. Festerbeck, our 500-year-old neighbor. He never bought anything from us, but was always a hoot to harass. Plus he whistled through his dentures and had so much junk in his yard it was like picking your way through a rusty treasure trove just to make it to his porch. But the most important thing is he always took it upon himself to give us tips on our sales techniques.

??
"Stand by your product," he'd cackle. "You have to make me think I can't live without it. Like what's this? A key chain? What's so great about this key chain? Looky here, it clips to your belt and it's retractable! Well, my goodness," he'd exclaim, feigning wonderment, "think of the convenience! Think of the bags of groceries that can be saved from being dropped on the front stoop all because of this magnificent key chain! All the cartons of eggs saved from being crushed. This right here will save you time and money! In fact," he gasped, eyes agog, "think of all the pretty ladies who get attacked on their front steps just because they took too long to find their keys in the dark of night! That's how you have to sell it; it can save your life."

??
And off we'd go, laughing, selling our Magnificent Life-Saving Key Chains. We got more takers than we would have otherwise, thanks to our kindly old neighbor, who, it turns out, could have used a life-saving device himself. It wasn't long afterward that Mr. Festerbeck was found dead on his kitchen floor by the local exterminator. The exterminator had been hired by Mr. Festerbeck's neighbors as a kindly hint to rein in whatever it was that was causing such a terrible bug infestation on his property, and the exterminator found the problem, all right. But when I think of Mr. Festerbeck, I try not to remember that part. Instead I remember his cackle, spry eye, and all that time he spent helping me and my sisters improve our sales technique, which is how I know people can be astoundingly generous if you just give them the opportunity.

??
Hollis Gillespie is host of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Workshops (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13025678 1269856                          Moodswing - The magnificent life-saving key chain "
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Moodswing

Wednesday October 3, 2007 12:04 am EDT
The opportunity for generosity | more...

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  string(4988) "I hear Grant and Lary are planning another heifer intervention for my sake, threatening to trap me in a room with a toolbox to wire my mouth shut so I can't shove any more food through it. "Jesus God, so I gained a few pounds. I'll deal with it, back off," I gripe. Lord, it's amazing to me how picky people can be about a couple of pounds when they don't even have to sleep with you.

??
And let's not forget that these two guys are guys. Neither of them can put on a permanent pound if they tried. Lary's main food group falls under "Internet amphetamines," and Grant, it seems, can lose five pounds just by nodding his head yes in response to an offer for bestial sex in the back of his car. Given this uneven advantage, these two are in no position to judge me, yet Grant still threatens to chain me to a radiator and feed me only lemon juice and cayenne pepper until I'm nothing but boobs on a stick.

??
"We're coming for you," he said over the phone recently.

??
"What the hell are you eating?" I asked. "Is your mouth full?"

??
"Fair warning," he continued, smacking his lips on who-knows-what. "One day when you turn around, there we'll be, with pliers and wires."

??
Like I'm worried. They are both completely incapable of staging a successful kidnapping. The only time we as a group ever effectively kidnapped a friend to send her to rehab was because I stepped in and orchestrated the whole thing. Lary was not even there. He was in Chicago on a job, so his purpose was downgraded to giving Grant directions via cell phone, such as, "Forget the roll of cellophane and just throw a thick blanket over her head," while I — me — I am the one who pushed Grant out of the driver's seat so I could position his car to block our subject from escaping. If it were up to Grant, he'd still be shrieking, "There she is! What should we do?"

??
So Lary's biggest failure was that he failed to even show up. Grant's biggest failure was that he almost pussied out when the opportunity availed itself, and Daniel ... well, Daniel I guess didn't fail at all, because it was his idea in the first place. It's saying something that he didn't blink before galvanizing us all into action, while I hadn't even thought to kidnap this person at all. So I guess you could say my biggest failing was that I had already thought her permanently buried in the land of the lost when it turned out she was, in fact, very retrievable. Thank God she had friends who believed in her retrieval.

??
To this day I'm amazed that she became lost so quickly yet by such almost imperceptible degrees. One minute she was herself, the next minute she was "not exactly herself lately," and then the next – poof! – she was lost. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering entire civilizations become lost in much the same way: little by little. I took an archeology class once, and I remember wondering why do you have to excavate to find signs of the past? How does the past get buried? The teacher told me it was debris and dirt that covered everything up, and the neglect to sweep it away, and layer upon layer upon layer of that over the years completely transforms the landscape so there is no sign of what used to be there. And the longer it's neglected, the deeper you have to dig to find it again.

??
Grant and Lary have known me a long time, they keep reminding me of what I used to be, and I keep arguing that I'm not that person anymore. I'm busy, beat-up, my heart has been happily amputated and handed to my daughter as a plaything, and the husk I am in the aftermath is glad to just collapse at night in front of cable television and a pile of pizza crusts.

??
"Remember who you are," Grant insisted, waving his hand at me from across the table at the coffeehouse, one sweep that took in my entire visage; the wet hair piled in a knot atop my head, baggy cargo pants and paint-flecked T-shirt, "because this ain't it," he finished, and I could hear in his voice that he was, like, serious.

??
Christ, Grant is never serious. So to keep that from happening again, I've been trying to see myself in myself lately, trying to remember who I am. What is this weird layer of fat around my ribs? I didn't used to have it before my girl was born. I know I didn't, but now I can't remember ever not having it. Lord, this is like excavating. All this debris – one birthday cake here, a donut there, pasta Alfredo here – all this debris, little by little, covers everything up until it seems like what used to be there is irretrievable. I should sweep. I should dig. I should do what I can to preserve my landscape. But once again I am in danger of being foiled by my biggest failing, of believing I am permanently buried in the land of the lost when it turns out that I am, in fact, very retrievable. Thank God I have friends who believe in my retrieval.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com)."
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  string(5020) "I hear Grant and Lary are planning another heifer intervention for my sake, threatening to trap me in a room with a toolbox to wire my mouth shut so I can't shove any more food through it. "Jesus God, so I gained a few pounds. I'll deal with it, back off," I gripe. Lord, it's amazing to me how picky people can be about a couple of pounds when they don't even have to sleep with you.

??
And let's not forget that these two guys are guys. Neither of them can put on a permanent pound if they tried. Lary's main food group falls under "Internet amphetamines," and Grant, it seems, can lose five pounds just by nodding his head yes in response to an offer for bestial sex in the back of his car. Given this uneven advantage, these two are in no position to judge me, yet Grant still threatens to chain me to a radiator and feed me only lemon juice and cayenne pepper until I'm nothing but boobs on a stick.

??
"We're coming for you," he said over the phone recently.

??
"What the hell are you eating?" I asked. "Is your mouth full?"

??
"Fair warning," he continued, smacking his lips on who-knows-what. "One day when you turn around, there we'll be, with pliers and wires."

??
__Like I'm worried.__ They are both completely incapable of staging a successful kidnapping. The only time we as a group ever effectively kidnapped a friend to send her to rehab was because I stepped in and orchestrated the whole thing. Lary was not even there. He was in Chicago on a job, so his purpose was downgraded to giving Grant directions via cell phone, such as, "Forget the roll of cellophane and just throw a thick blanket over her head," while I -- me -- I am the one who pushed Grant out of the driver's seat so I could position his car to block our subject from escaping. If it were up to Grant, he'd still be shrieking, "There she is! What should we do?"

??
So Lary's biggest failure was that he failed to even show up. Grant's biggest failure was that he almost pussied out when the opportunity availed itself, and Daniel ... well, Daniel I guess didn't fail at all, because it was his idea in the first place. It's saying something that he didn't blink before galvanizing us all into action, while I hadn't even thought to kidnap this person at all. So I guess you could say my biggest failing was that I had already thought her permanently buried in the land of the lost when it turned out she was, in fact, very retrievable. Thank God she had friends who believed in her retrieval.

??
To this day I'm amazed that she became lost so quickly yet by such almost imperceptible degrees. One minute she was herself, the next minute she was "not exactly herself lately," and then the next – poof! – she was lost. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering entire civilizations become lost in much the same way: little by little. I took an archeology class once, and I remember wondering why do you have to excavate to find signs of the past? How does the past get buried? The teacher told me it was debris and dirt that covered everything up, and the neglect to sweep it away, and layer upon layer upon layer of that over the years completely transforms the landscape so there is no sign of what used to be there. And the longer it's neglected, the deeper you have to dig to find it again.

??
Grant and Lary have known me a long time, they keep reminding me of what I used to be, and I keep arguing that I'm not that person anymore. I'm busy, beat-up, my heart has been happily amputated and handed to my daughter as a plaything, and the husk I am in the aftermath is glad to just collapse at night in front of cable television and a pile of pizza crusts.

??
"Remember who you are," Grant insisted, waving his hand at me from across the table at the coffeehouse, one sweep that took in my entire visage; the wet hair piled in a knot atop my head, baggy cargo pants and paint-flecked T-shirt, "because this ain't it," he finished, and I could hear in his voice that he was, like, serious.

??
Christ, Grant is never serious. So to keep that from happening again, I've been trying to see myself in myself lately, trying to remember who I am. What is this weird layer of fat around my ribs? I didn't used to have it before my girl was born. I know I didn't, but now I can't remember ever not having it. Lord, this is like excavating. All this debris – one birthday cake here, a donut there, pasta Alfredo here – all this debris, little by little, covers everything up until it seems like what used to be there is irretrievable. I should sweep. I should dig. I should do what I can to preserve my landscape. But once again I am in danger of being foiled by my biggest failing, of believing I am permanently buried in the land of the lost when it turns out that I am, in fact, very retrievable. Thank God I have friends who believe in my retrieval.

??
''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(5224) "    The challenge to remove those layers   2007-09-26T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Little by little   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-09-26T04:04:00+00:00  I hear Grant and Lary are planning another heifer intervention for my sake, threatening to trap me in a room with a toolbox to wire my mouth shut so I can't shove any more food through it. "Jesus God, so I gained a few pounds. I'll deal with it, back off," I gripe. Lord, it's amazing to me how picky people can be about a couple of pounds when they don't even have to sleep with you.

??
And let's not forget that these two guys are guys. Neither of them can put on a permanent pound if they tried. Lary's main food group falls under "Internet amphetamines," and Grant, it seems, can lose five pounds just by nodding his head yes in response to an offer for bestial sex in the back of his car. Given this uneven advantage, these two are in no position to judge me, yet Grant still threatens to chain me to a radiator and feed me only lemon juice and cayenne pepper until I'm nothing but boobs on a stick.

??
"We're coming for you," he said over the phone recently.

??
"What the hell are you eating?" I asked. "Is your mouth full?"

??
"Fair warning," he continued, smacking his lips on who-knows-what. "One day when you turn around, there we'll be, with pliers and wires."

??
Like I'm worried. They are both completely incapable of staging a successful kidnapping. The only time we as a group ever effectively kidnapped a friend to send her to rehab was because I stepped in and orchestrated the whole thing. Lary was not even there. He was in Chicago on a job, so his purpose was downgraded to giving Grant directions via cell phone, such as, "Forget the roll of cellophane and just throw a thick blanket over her head," while I — me — I am the one who pushed Grant out of the driver's seat so I could position his car to block our subject from escaping. If it were up to Grant, he'd still be shrieking, "There she is! What should we do?"

??
So Lary's biggest failure was that he failed to even show up. Grant's biggest failure was that he almost pussied out when the opportunity availed itself, and Daniel ... well, Daniel I guess didn't fail at all, because it was his idea in the first place. It's saying something that he didn't blink before galvanizing us all into action, while I hadn't even thought to kidnap this person at all. So I guess you could say my biggest failing was that I had already thought her permanently buried in the land of the lost when it turned out she was, in fact, very retrievable. Thank God she had friends who believed in her retrieval.

??
To this day I'm amazed that she became lost so quickly yet by such almost imperceptible degrees. One minute she was herself, the next minute she was "not exactly herself lately," and then the next – poof! – she was lost. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering entire civilizations become lost in much the same way: little by little. I took an archeology class once, and I remember wondering why do you have to excavate to find signs of the past? How does the past get buried? The teacher told me it was debris and dirt that covered everything up, and the neglect to sweep it away, and layer upon layer upon layer of that over the years completely transforms the landscape so there is no sign of what used to be there. And the longer it's neglected, the deeper you have to dig to find it again.

??
Grant and Lary have known me a long time, they keep reminding me of what I used to be, and I keep arguing that I'm not that person anymore. I'm busy, beat-up, my heart has been happily amputated and handed to my daughter as a plaything, and the husk I am in the aftermath is glad to just collapse at night in front of cable television and a pile of pizza crusts.

??
"Remember who you are," Grant insisted, waving his hand at me from across the table at the coffeehouse, one sweep that took in my entire visage; the wet hair piled in a knot atop my head, baggy cargo pants and paint-flecked T-shirt, "because this ain't it," he finished, and I could hear in his voice that he was, like, serious.

??
Christ, Grant is never serious. So to keep that from happening again, I've been trying to see myself in myself lately, trying to remember who I am. What is this weird layer of fat around my ribs? I didn't used to have it before my girl was born. I know I didn't, but now I can't remember ever not having it. Lord, this is like excavating. All this debris – one birthday cake here, a donut there, pasta Alfredo here – all this debris, little by little, covers everything up until it seems like what used to be there is irretrievable. I should sweep. I should dig. I should do what I can to preserve my landscape. But once again I am in danger of being foiled by my biggest failing, of believing I am permanently buried in the land of the lost when it turns out that I am, in fact, very retrievable. Thank God I have friends who believe in my retrieval.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).             13025634 1269763                          Moodswing - Little by little "
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Moodswing

Wednesday September 26, 2007 12:04 am EDT
The challenge to remove those layers | more...
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??
Because Lord knows I have called him a lot worse in front of a lot more people without even a hint of worry that he'd be offended. In fact, we are alike in that it's almost impossible to really offend either of us. In additional fact, whenever someone is successful at offending me, I'm often more impressed than offended. "Lord, I didn't think it was possible to piss me off," I'd marvel, "but here I am really pissed off."

??
Take the time I was trying to teach a seminar when Grant and Lary had stopped by to do their best to derail the occasion. First Lary passed out his new batch of obscene refrigerator magnets ("I Have a Hard-On for Jesus!"), then they both took a seat and proceeded, over the next half hour, to tell my students, essentially, not to "believe a word this bitch says about us." And that is not even the part that rankled me.

??
What rankled me was, right when I thought things had settled down and I could recommence the serious business of imparting my immense wisdom, these two went into the other room and tried to drown me out with Internet porn – right when I was talking about something super serious and dear to my heart and heavy with importance and having to do with creativity and crap. That's right, at that precise moment everything got sucked into a total toilet spin thanks to the sounds of "Up and Cummin Fuck Fixation, Volume One" blaring from the next office! Jesus God! You'd think those two suckballs would know to keep some decorum when I'm orating, for Jesus God's sake!

??
I was sorta kinda quasi furious, actually, and to this day I keep thinking I need to talk to them about it until I remember that, as much as I hate to admit it, this is exactly the kind of audacious behavior that has inspired me creatively over the years, and the whole incident itself was probably better evidence of this than anything I could have imparted with my carefully crafted, super serious oration. So, in essence, as long as I'm in a state of wanting to kill those two conniving asstards, I will have as much material and as much irritation-generated inspiration as I need. It's hard to be offended once you look at it that way.

??
Because the three of us literally consider it our duty to derail the other when we see ourselves going down the wrong track. For example, I remember on a morning talk show I once said the word "pussy." I figured if they didn't ask me back after that, then I knew I had no business being there in the first place. Because "pussy" happens to be one of my favorite words, not because of what it represents, but because of the reaction it can illicit. This word is not a profanity, yet for some reason it's been kidnapped by the easily offended and banished to the Island of Unwanted Words.

??
Screw that, I utter it all the time. It's kind of a denominator for me. Like Grant's big-ass body piercing right there on his head. Before getting it done, he voiced his hesitation to me, fearing he wouldn't be able to relapse into a life of respectability after being marked as unconventional. "That's exactly why you need to do it," I advised him. So he did it, and there was no turning back – except for that one time when he allowed an airplane mechanic to unpierce him so he could qualify for first-class on a buddy pass. But let's face it, there's even a threshold for taking your unseriousness too super seriously, and if I was there and had seen that Grant was about to take that track, I would have done my best to derail him. Luckily, he didn't need me. "Yank it out," was all he said. The second the plane landed he simply reimpaled himself.

??
Regarding the morning talk show, they did ask me back, but then they also asked me not to say "pussy" again, too. I was all ready to be offended and bloviate about the importance of self-expression, but luckily Grant was there and was quick to derail me. "Bitch," he said, "don't be so super serious. I know you can go 10 minutes without saying the word 'pussy.' After the show we can go out to the car and scream it at the top of our lungs all the way home if you want."

??
So in case anyone was wondering, that was me and Grant screaming, "Pussy! Pussy! Pussy!" at the top of our lungs down the thoroughfare the other morning. I am sorry if we offended anyone. Super seriously, I am.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com)."
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??
Because Lord knows I have called him a lot worse in front of a lot more people without even a hint of worry that he'd be offended. In fact, we are alike in that it's almost impossible to really offend either of us. In additional fact, whenever someone is successful at offending me, I'm often more impressed than offended. "Lord, I didn't think it was possible to piss me off," I'd marvel, "but here I am really pissed off."

??
Take the time I was trying to teach a seminar when Grant and Lary had stopped by to do their best to derail the occasion. First Lary passed out his new batch of obscene refrigerator magnets ("I Have a Hard-On for Jesus!"), then they both took a seat and proceeded, over the next half hour, to tell my students, essentially, not to "believe a word this bitch says about us." And that is not even the part that rankled me.

??
What rankled me was, right when I thought things had settled down and I could recommence the serious business of imparting my immense wisdom, these two went into the other room and tried to drown me out with Internet porn – right when I was talking about something super serious and dear to my heart and heavy with importance and having to do with ''creativity'' and crap. That's right, at that precise moment everything got sucked into a total toilet spin thanks to the sounds of "Up and Cummin Fuck Fixation, Volume One" blaring from the next office! Jesus God! You'd think those two suckballs would know to keep some decorum when I'm ''orating'', for Jesus God's sake!

??
__I was sorta kinda__ quasi furious, actually, and to this day I keep thinking I need to talk to them about it until I remember that, as much as I hate to admit it, this is exactly the kind of audacious behavior that has inspired me creatively over the years, and the whole incident itself was probably better evidence of this than anything I could have imparted with my carefully crafted, super serious oration. So, in essence, as long as I'm in a state of wanting to kill those two conniving asstards, I will have as much material and as much irritation-generated inspiration as I need. It's hard to be offended once you look at it that way.

??
Because the three of us literally consider it our duty to derail the other when we see ourselves going down the wrong track. For example, I remember on a morning talk show I once said the word "pussy." I figured if they didn't ask me back after that, then I knew I had no business being there in the first place. Because "pussy" happens to be one of my favorite words, not because of what it represents, but because of the reaction it can illicit. This word is not a profanity, yet for some reason it's been kidnapped by the easily offended and banished to the Island of Unwanted Words.

??
Screw that, I utter it all the time. It's kind of a denominator for me. Like Grant's big-ass body piercing right there on his head. Before getting it done, he voiced his hesitation to me, fearing he wouldn't be able to relapse into a life of respectability after being marked as unconventional. "That's exactly why you need to do it," I advised him. So he did it, and there was no turning back – except for that one time when he allowed an airplane mechanic to unpierce him so he could qualify for first-class on a buddy pass. But let's face it, there's even a threshold for taking your unseriousness too super seriously, and if I was there and had seen that Grant was about to take that track, I would have done my best to derail him. Luckily, he didn't need me. "Yank it out," was all he said. The second the plane landed he simply reimpaled himself.

??
Regarding the morning talk show, they did ask me back, but then they also asked me not to say "pussy" again, too. I was all ready to be offended and bloviate about the importance of self-expression, but luckily Grant was there and was quick to derail me. "Bitch," he said, "don't be so super serious. I know you can go 10 minutes without saying the word 'pussy.' After the show we can go out to the car and scream it at the top of our lungs all the way home if you want."

??
So in case anyone was wondering, that was me and Grant screaming, "Pussy! Pussy! Pussy!" at the top of our lungs down the thoroughfare the other morning. I am sorry if we offended anyone. Super seriously, I am.

??
''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.shockingreallife.com/|www.shockingreallife.com])''."
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  string(5115) "    An apology of sorts   2007-09-19T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Super seriously   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-09-19T04:04:00+00:00  Somebody called me a bitch the other day, and it didn't occur to me to be offended. It wasn't even subtle, either. "Bitch," Grant hollered from the booth as I walked into the crowded restaurant, "we're over here. Sit your late ass down." I complied without the thought even entering my mind to put him in a headlock or anything ... OK, strike that, the thought of Grant in a headlock is a constant in my mind, just not in relation to what he ever calls me.

??
Because Lord knows I have called him a lot worse in front of a lot more people without even a hint of worry that he'd be offended. In fact, we are alike in that it's almost impossible to really offend either of us. In additional fact, whenever someone is successful at offending me, I'm often more impressed than offended. "Lord, I didn't think it was possible to piss me off," I'd marvel, "but here I am really pissed off."

??
Take the time I was trying to teach a seminar when Grant and Lary had stopped by to do their best to derail the occasion. First Lary passed out his new batch of obscene refrigerator magnets ("I Have a Hard-On for Jesus!"), then they both took a seat and proceeded, over the next half hour, to tell my students, essentially, not to "believe a word this bitch says about us." And that is not even the part that rankled me.

??
What rankled me was, right when I thought things had settled down and I could recommence the serious business of imparting my immense wisdom, these two went into the other room and tried to drown me out with Internet porn – right when I was talking about something super serious and dear to my heart and heavy with importance and having to do with creativity and crap. That's right, at that precise moment everything got sucked into a total toilet spin thanks to the sounds of "Up and Cummin Fuck Fixation, Volume One" blaring from the next office! Jesus God! You'd think those two suckballs would know to keep some decorum when I'm orating, for Jesus God's sake!

??
I was sorta kinda quasi furious, actually, and to this day I keep thinking I need to talk to them about it until I remember that, as much as I hate to admit it, this is exactly the kind of audacious behavior that has inspired me creatively over the years, and the whole incident itself was probably better evidence of this than anything I could have imparted with my carefully crafted, super serious oration. So, in essence, as long as I'm in a state of wanting to kill those two conniving asstards, I will have as much material and as much irritation-generated inspiration as I need. It's hard to be offended once you look at it that way.

??
Because the three of us literally consider it our duty to derail the other when we see ourselves going down the wrong track. For example, I remember on a morning talk show I once said the word "pussy." I figured if they didn't ask me back after that, then I knew I had no business being there in the first place. Because "pussy" happens to be one of my favorite words, not because of what it represents, but because of the reaction it can illicit. This word is not a profanity, yet for some reason it's been kidnapped by the easily offended and banished to the Island of Unwanted Words.

??
Screw that, I utter it all the time. It's kind of a denominator for me. Like Grant's big-ass body piercing right there on his head. Before getting it done, he voiced his hesitation to me, fearing he wouldn't be able to relapse into a life of respectability after being marked as unconventional. "That's exactly why you need to do it," I advised him. So he did it, and there was no turning back – except for that one time when he allowed an airplane mechanic to unpierce him so he could qualify for first-class on a buddy pass. But let's face it, there's even a threshold for taking your unseriousness too super seriously, and if I was there and had seen that Grant was about to take that track, I would have done my best to derail him. Luckily, he didn't need me. "Yank it out," was all he said. The second the plane landed he simply reimpaled himself.

??
Regarding the morning talk show, they did ask me back, but then they also asked me not to say "pussy" again, too. I was all ready to be offended and bloviate about the importance of self-expression, but luckily Grant was there and was quick to derail me. "Bitch," he said, "don't be so super serious. I know you can go 10 minutes without saying the word 'pussy.' After the show we can go out to the car and scream it at the top of our lungs all the way home if you want."

??
So in case anyone was wondering, that was me and Grant screaming, "Pussy! Pussy! Pussy!" at the top of our lungs down the thoroughfare the other morning. I am sorry if we offended anyone. Super seriously, I am.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com).             13025599 1269692                          Moodswing - Super seriously "
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Moodswing

Wednesday September 19, 2007 12:04 am EDT
An apology of sorts | more...
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  string(5049) "My daughter learned how to perform armpit farts in school today. That's right. You heard me. When she came home she was flapping her little arm over her flattened hand like a mini bagpipe player. "Look what I learned today!" she squealed, diminutive farts puttering from her tiny armpits like fishbowl bubbles. "I'm really good at it. Aren't you proud of me?"

??
She is really good at it, and she's so proud of herself I don't have the heart to tell her to stop. When we got home the first thing she did was demonstrate her new talent to our 85-year-old neighbor, Dot, who was standing out front in the flower bed, wearing sunglasses and a nightgown. Dot was duly impressed. "I bet you're proud of your girl," she cackled to me.

??
Of course I'm proud. It's an amazing feat. It's miles ahead of me when I was her age, when my biggest talent was shoplifting at the local Thrifty drugstore. At first I just stole candy. Charleston Chews were my favorite, but their long shape made them hard to heist, so I developed the masterful trick of stuffing things into a rolled-up beach towel. It worked great until I got greedy and graduated from Charleston Chews to Slinkies, then to kites and then to entire sets of Tonka trucks. By the time I tried to leave, my beach towel was so stuffed it looked like I was trying to transport a corpse in a rolled-up area rug. I got busted, of course.

??
"Where's your mother?" the store manager asked me.

??
"She's at work," I said.

??
"Then where's your father?" he demanded.

??
"He's at home asleep," I said, and even though it was 3 in the afternoon, I probably wasn't lying. My dad napped a lot during his bouts of unemployment, probably due to the increased voracity in his beer consumption at these times, which is one of the reasons I was so deft at escaping the house to shoplift at the Thrifty store. My two sisters were probably, at that moment, trespassing onto the property of the small motel across the street from our house so they could swim in the pool, and my older brother was engaged in who knows what horn-dog activities common among postadolescents. The last place any of us could be found was at the forefront of someone's mind, it probably seemed.

??
"Well," the store manager exclaimed, looking at me with an odd judgmental sympathy, "if your father wasn't worthless, he'd be ashamed of you," and that was all he said as he ushered me to leave. When I got home I was relieved to see that my father was not waiting on the other side of the door like I'd worried he'd be, all freshly informed of my thieving, slapping his belt against his palm, growling. Instead he was – I swear this is true – baking a cake.

??
This was another way he spent his time during his bouts of unemployment, and I loved his cakes. They were amazing feats. He used to let me pick out the kind I wanted by pointing to the pictures on the mix boxes ("The brown cake with the beige frosting, and stacked up, not flat!"), and I was always amazed that they came out looking relatively similar to their advertised images. I didn't know not to be proud of my father until that day I got caught shoplifting, and I didn't know my father's pride in me could be so important that the thought of losing it would make me quake for days after I got caught, not sure which I feared more – that the Thrifty manager might track me down and tell my father to admonish me for what I'd done, or track my father down and admonish him for what he'd allowed me to become.

??
As the days wore on, my mother continued to go to work, and my father continued to bake his cakes and take his naps and deal with his circumstances as best he could, and my siblings and I continued to wander so freely and so far from home that sometimes I'm surprised we survived, seeing as how kids are considered downright endangered these days unless they're raised under surveillance like lab mice.

??
But we did survive, to become business owners, executives and parents ourselves. I stopped shoplifting that day I got caught, because say what you will about my unemployed dad, but the fact is he had made his pride in his children matter more to me than my klepto ways, no matter that my own pride in him noticeably waned after hearing him called worthless by a drugstore clerk. Today, though, I am more attuned to the fact that parenting is as painful as it is almost impossible. People are rife with insecurities and inner demons, and sometimes it's all they can do to protect their kids from their own crumbling opinion of themselves. To raise a child, let alone four like my dad did, amid this inner and outer turmoil is, quite literally, an amazing feat. I used to wonder if, had he lived, my father might be proud of me today, seeing as how our parenting styles turned out to be so contrary. Lately though, I spend less time wondering how proud he'd be of me, and more time amazed at how proud I am of him.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com)."
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  string(5092) "My daughter learned how to perform armpit farts in school today. That's right. You heard me. When she came home she was flapping her little arm over her flattened hand like a mini bagpipe player. "Look what I learned today!" she squealed, diminutive farts puttering from her tiny armpits like fishbowl bubbles. "I'm really good at it. Aren't you proud of me?"

??
She is really good at it, and she's so proud of herself I don't have the heart to tell her to stop. When we got home the first thing she did was demonstrate her new talent to our 85-year-old neighbor, Dot, who was standing out front in the flower bed, wearing sunglasses and a nightgown. Dot was duly impressed. "I bet you're proud of your girl," she cackled to me.

??
Of course I'm proud. It's an amazing feat. It's miles ahead of me when I was her age, when my biggest talent was shoplifting at the local Thrifty drugstore. At first I just stole candy. Charleston Chews were my favorite, but their long shape made them hard to heist, so I developed the masterful trick of stuffing things into a rolled-up beach towel. It worked great until I got greedy and graduated from Charleston Chews to Slinkies, then to kites and then to entire sets of Tonka trucks. By the time I tried to leave, my beach towel was so stuffed it looked like I was trying to transport a corpse in a rolled-up area rug. I got busted, of course.

??
"Where's your mother?" the store manager asked me.

??
"She's at work," I said.

??
"Then where's your father?" he demanded.

??
"He's at home asleep," I said, and even though it was 3 in the afternoon, I probably wasn't lying. My dad napped a lot during his bouts of unemployment, probably due to the increased voracity in his beer consumption at these times, which is one of the reasons I was so deft at escaping the house to shoplift at the Thrifty store. My two sisters were probably, at that moment, trespassing onto the property of the small motel across the street from our house so they could swim in the pool, and my older brother was engaged in who knows what horn-dog activities common among postadolescents. The last place any of us could be found was at the forefront of someone's mind, it probably seemed.

??
"Well," the store manager exclaimed, looking at me with an odd judgmental sympathy, "if your father wasn't worthless, he'd be ashamed of you," and that was all he said as he ushered me to leave. When I got home I was relieved to see that my father was not waiting on the other side of the door like I'd worried he'd be, all freshly informed of my thieving, slapping his belt against his palm, growling. Instead he was – I swear this is true – baking a cake.

??
This was another way he spent his time during his bouts of unemployment, and I loved his cakes. They were amazing feats. He used to let me pick out the kind I wanted by pointing to the pictures on the mix boxes ("The brown cake with the beige frosting, and stacked up, not flat!"), and I was always amazed that they came out looking relatively similar to their advertised images. I didn't know not to be proud of my father until that day I got caught shoplifting, and I didn't know my father's pride in me could be so important that the thought of losing it would make me quake for days after I got caught, not sure which I feared more – that the Thrifty manager might track me down and tell my father to admonish me for what I'd done, or track my father down and admonish him for what he'd allowed me to become.

??
__As the days__ wore on, my mother continued to go to work, and my father continued to bake his cakes and take his naps and deal with his circumstances as best he could, and my siblings and I continued to wander so freely and so far from home that sometimes I'm surprised we survived, seeing as how kids are considered downright endangered these days unless they're raised under surveillance like lab mice.

??
But we did survive, to become business owners, executives and parents ourselves. I stopped shoplifting that day I got caught, because say what you will about my unemployed dad, but the fact is he had made his pride in his children matter more to me than my klepto ways, no matter that my own pride in him noticeably waned after hearing him called worthless by a drugstore clerk. Today, though, I am more attuned to the fact that parenting is as painful as it is almost impossible. People are rife with insecurities and inner demons, and sometimes it's all they can do to protect their kids from their own crumbling opinion of themselves. To raise a child, let alone four like my dad did, amid this inner and outer turmoil is, quite literally, an amazing feat. I used to wonder if, had he lived, my father might be proud of me today, seeing as how our parenting styles turned out to be so contrary. Lately though, I spend less time wondering how proud he'd be of me, and more time amazed at how proud I am of him.

??
''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.shockingreallife.com/|www.shockingreallife.com])''."
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??
She is really good at it, and she's so proud of herself I don't have the heart to tell her to stop. When we got home the first thing she did was demonstrate her new talent to our 85-year-old neighbor, Dot, who was standing out front in the flower bed, wearing sunglasses and a nightgown. Dot was duly impressed. "I bet you're proud of your girl," she cackled to me.

??
Of course I'm proud. It's an amazing feat. It's miles ahead of me when I was her age, when my biggest talent was shoplifting at the local Thrifty drugstore. At first I just stole candy. Charleston Chews were my favorite, but their long shape made them hard to heist, so I developed the masterful trick of stuffing things into a rolled-up beach towel. It worked great until I got greedy and graduated from Charleston Chews to Slinkies, then to kites and then to entire sets of Tonka trucks. By the time I tried to leave, my beach towel was so stuffed it looked like I was trying to transport a corpse in a rolled-up area rug. I got busted, of course.

??
"Where's your mother?" the store manager asked me.

??
"She's at work," I said.

??
"Then where's your father?" he demanded.

??
"He's at home asleep," I said, and even though it was 3 in the afternoon, I probably wasn't lying. My dad napped a lot during his bouts of unemployment, probably due to the increased voracity in his beer consumption at these times, which is one of the reasons I was so deft at escaping the house to shoplift at the Thrifty store. My two sisters were probably, at that moment, trespassing onto the property of the small motel across the street from our house so they could swim in the pool, and my older brother was engaged in who knows what horn-dog activities common among postadolescents. The last place any of us could be found was at the forefront of someone's mind, it probably seemed.

??
"Well," the store manager exclaimed, looking at me with an odd judgmental sympathy, "if your father wasn't worthless, he'd be ashamed of you," and that was all he said as he ushered me to leave. When I got home I was relieved to see that my father was not waiting on the other side of the door like I'd worried he'd be, all freshly informed of my thieving, slapping his belt against his palm, growling. Instead he was – I swear this is true – baking a cake.

??
This was another way he spent his time during his bouts of unemployment, and I loved his cakes. They were amazing feats. He used to let me pick out the kind I wanted by pointing to the pictures on the mix boxes ("The brown cake with the beige frosting, and stacked up, not flat!"), and I was always amazed that they came out looking relatively similar to their advertised images. I didn't know not to be proud of my father until that day I got caught shoplifting, and I didn't know my father's pride in me could be so important that the thought of losing it would make me quake for days after I got caught, not sure which I feared more – that the Thrifty manager might track me down and tell my father to admonish me for what I'd done, or track my father down and admonish him for what he'd allowed me to become.

??
As the days wore on, my mother continued to go to work, and my father continued to bake his cakes and take his naps and deal with his circumstances as best he could, and my siblings and I continued to wander so freely and so far from home that sometimes I'm surprised we survived, seeing as how kids are considered downright endangered these days unless they're raised under surveillance like lab mice.

??
But we did survive, to become business owners, executives and parents ourselves. I stopped shoplifting that day I got caught, because say what you will about my unemployed dad, but the fact is he had made his pride in his children matter more to me than my klepto ways, no matter that my own pride in him noticeably waned after hearing him called worthless by a drugstore clerk. Today, though, I am more attuned to the fact that parenting is as painful as it is almost impossible. People are rife with insecurities and inner demons, and sometimes it's all they can do to protect their kids from their own crumbling opinion of themselves. To raise a child, let alone four like my dad did, amid this inner and outer turmoil is, quite literally, an amazing feat. I used to wonder if, had he lived, my father might be proud of me today, seeing as how our parenting styles turned out to be so contrary. Lately though, I spend less time wondering how proud he'd be of me, and more time amazed at how proud I am of him.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com).             13025530 1269543                          Moodswing - An amazing feat "
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Moodswing

Wednesday September 12, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Parental pride ebbs and flows | more...
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  string(4870) "When I met Meredith, she was complaining about how everyone says she hasn't lived long enough to write the story of her life, and while she was saying that, I was saying to myself, "Well, they're right, aren't they?" I mean, she's only 24 and looks no older than a high school junior, with a face as rosy as frozen yogurt and eyes as clear as the month of May. She should stop complaining and go about the rest of her day.

??
"I was supposed to be a twin," she began, and I thought I was hearing her, but I must not have been really hearing her, because I remember thinking that wasn't such an unusual thing in the big scheme. There are probably a lot of people who were supposed to be part of a set, but then the other part got left behind. But then Meredith tried to explain further by saying that her twin was in her.

??
What does she mean, like in her head? Does she hear voices? At the time I kept thinking – and for some reason I still do – of that old movie in which Margot Kidder plays a psychotic surviving twin and her dead sister keeps telling her to kill people and hide them at the county dump inside fold-out sofas.

??
"No, inside me," Meredith said, meaning not just inside her, but all up inside her, as if the twin had been parceled up and sprinkled in pieces like chocolate chips folded in the cookie dough – an additional uterus here, other extra organs there – and it wasn't until Meredith came out of her mother's oven that the doctors realized all these extra pieces were scrambled up inside her and had to be removed.

??
And we are not talking just simple surgeries here. The embryo of her twin had merged with hers in utero, leaving one fetus that was a mosaic of both embryos, and though Meredith could be born that way, she could not live that way, and so the surgeries began, because it was necessary to separate the born from the unborn for this baby to survive. So in short, Meredith spent her childhood living in a children's hospital having the pieces of her twin picked out of her like splinters from a big toe, in one painful surgery after another. By the time she finished telling her story, my mouth was bone dry, because halfway through my jaw had hit the table and stuck there. Jesus God, to look at Meredith you would never know, not for a second, that she didn't lead a life picking dandelions every day up to this very moment. She looks so untouched, so untrodden upon, she looks like my daughter, for chrissakes.

??
Oh my God, she looks just like my daughter, who is only 7, but that is around the age Meredith went under the knife all those times, needing to have her sister sliced out of her. Christ, how the hell do you remove chocolate chips from a cookie after it's been baked? I understand it's probably possible, but surely not without demolishing the cookie, right? And if the cookie had nerve endings and a heart and organs of its own, surely you couldn't do it without putting it through unfathomable agony. And if it was only 7 years old, with your lips on her eyelids every night before she put her head on your breast and slept there, trusting you to keep the pain away, how the hell do you function knowing that there's more to come and nothing you can do to shield her from it?

??
Meredith made friends with other children at the children's hospital, many of whom died because, let's face it, they weren't there to have their boo-boos kissed. Those mothers were friends with Meredith's mother, and that is how Meredith was raised, in this odd microcosm where the parents persevered through the suffering of their children, some of whom survived and some of whom died with their mother's lips on their eyelids and their head on her breast. Meredith said she wanted to title her book after a question she used to recite to her mother the night before she was to go under the knife again. "Can I scream as loud as I want?" she'd ask.

??
"So I thought I'd call my book Can I Scream as Loud as I Want?" said Meredith, looking at me with those eyes as clear as the month of May.

??
I was silent at first, then I picked up my jaw and said, simply, "I wouldn't name it that."

??
Afterward I was pretty composed, until I was in my car on the way to pick up my girl and I got stuck in traffic. When the traffic in front of me moved forward, the cars in back began to honk, and I thought I was hearing them, but I must not have really been hearing them. All I could hear was a child's voice – "Can I scream as loud as I want?" – and as the cars began to move around me, the drivers continued to honk until they saw me sitting there in the driver's seat with my head on my steering wheel, sobbing. After that, they stopped complaining and went about the rest of their day.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com)."
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??
"I was supposed to be a twin," she began, and I thought I was hearing her, but I must not have been really hearing her, because I remember thinking that wasn't such an unusual thing in the big scheme. There are probably a lot of people who were supposed to be part of a set, but then the other part got left behind. But then Meredith tried to explain further by saying that her twin was ''in'' her.

??
What does she mean, like in her ''head''? Does she hear voices? At the time I kept thinking – and for some reason I still do – of that old movie in which Margot Kidder plays a psychotic surviving twin and her dead sister keeps telling her to kill people and hide them at the county dump inside fold-out sofas.

??
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??
And we are not talking just simple surgeries here. The embryo of her twin had merged with hers in utero, leaving one fetus that was a mosaic of both embryos, and though Meredith could be born that way, she could not live that way, and so the surgeries began, because it was necessary to separate the born from the unborn for this baby to survive. So in short, Meredith spent her childhood living in a children's hospital having the pieces of her twin picked out of her like splinters from a big toe, in one painful surgery after another. By the time she finished telling her story, my mouth was bone dry, because halfway through my jaw had hit the table and stuck there. Jesus God, to look at Meredith you would never know, not for a ''second'', that she didn't lead a life picking dandelions every day up to this very moment. She looks so untouched, so untrodden upon, she looks like ''my'' daughter, for chrissakes.

??
Oh my God, she looks just like my daughter, who is only 7, but that is around the age Meredith went under the knife all those times, needing to have her sister sliced out of her. Christ, how the hell do you remove chocolate chips from a cookie after it's been ''baked''? I understand it's probably possible, but surely not without demolishing the cookie, right? And if the cookie had nerve endings and a heart and organs of its own, surely you couldn't do it without putting it through unfathomable agony. And if it was only 7 years old, with your lips on her eyelids every night before she put her head on your breast and slept there, trusting you to keep the pain away, how the hell do you function knowing that there's more to come and nothing you can do to shield her from it?

??
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??
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??
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??
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??
''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.shockingreallife.com/|www.shockingreallife.com])''."
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??
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??
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??
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??
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??
Oh my God, she looks just like my daughter, who is only 7, but that is around the age Meredith went under the knife all those times, needing to have her sister sliced out of her. Christ, how the hell do you remove chocolate chips from a cookie after it's been baked? I understand it's probably possible, but surely not without demolishing the cookie, right? And if the cookie had nerve endings and a heart and organs of its own, surely you couldn't do it without putting it through unfathomable agony. And if it was only 7 years old, with your lips on her eyelids every night before she put her head on your breast and slept there, trusting you to keep the pain away, how the hell do you function knowing that there's more to come and nothing you can do to shield her from it?

??
Meredith made friends with other children at the children's hospital, many of whom died because, let's face it, they weren't there to have their boo-boos kissed. Those mothers were friends with Meredith's mother, and that is how Meredith was raised, in this odd microcosm where the parents persevered through the suffering of their children, some of whom survived and some of whom died with their mother's lips on their eyelids and their head on her breast. Meredith said she wanted to title her book after a question she used to recite to her mother the night before she was to go under the knife again. "Can I scream as loud as I want?" she'd ask.

??
"So I thought I'd call my book Can I Scream as Loud as I Want?" said Meredith, looking at me with those eyes as clear as the month of May.

??
I was silent at first, then I picked up my jaw and said, simply, "I wouldn't name it that."

??
Afterward I was pretty composed, until I was in my car on the way to pick up my girl and I got stuck in traffic. When the traffic in front of me moved forward, the cars in back began to honk, and I thought I was hearing them, but I must not have really been hearing them. All I could hear was a child's voice – "Can I scream as loud as I want?" – and as the cars began to move around me, the drivers continued to honk until they saw me sitting there in the driver's seat with my head on my steering wheel, sobbing. After that, they stopped complaining and went about the rest of their day.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com).             13025485 1269446                          Moodswing - The born from the unborn "
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Moodswing

Wednesday September 5, 2007 12:04 am EDT
A childhood spent under the knife | more...
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  string(4924) "I was late to lunch again, big surprise. Grant and Lary always act affronted by this, as if I was applying for a job with them rather than showing up for my normal dose of denigration. They should be more like Daniel, I say, whose practice is to just go about lunch as though he didn't have a date with me at all, then when I finally do appear, he's super happy to see me. "Why can't you two blowtards be more like Daniel?" I griped as I sat down, which gave them the cue to rise as though lunch were over.

??
"At least you made it in time to say goodbye," Grant quipped.

??
"Sit down, Lord Jesus God," I hollered, and they did, but not because I begged them to. No, the real reason is because there was still a drop or two left in their cocktail glasses. "I'm sorry I'm late," I sighed. "The city is laying new roads and the asphalt is all torn up like pork chops after a pit-bull attack."

??
This is not the real reason, but one that will do. The real reason is that I spent the morning rummaging through my closet to find clothes to fit my big mom body, something these two sea urchins will never understand. By the time I finished wailing and got dressed, I was so late for lunch that the kitchen was closed and Lary had to begrudgingly let me nibble on his leftovers. Not that he wanted them for himself. No, the real reason is he likes to take any opportunity to point out that, unlike me, he has not gained one single pound since we met 15 years ago.

??
"Look, loser," I tell him, "when I want to sign up for the Lary Blodgett coffee-enema-and-Internet-amphetamine diet, I'll make sure to tell you so we can shop for matching hospital gowns. But for now I'd like to live, so fork over the tuna roll, turdball."

??
Lary had just come back from the Caribbean, where he'd been living under a lean-to (probably) off the coast of Turks and Caicos for a few months, threatening never to return to Atlanta. This caused me to, in turn, threaten to track him down and build my own lean-to right next to his. He returned home, he says, to save my life, because if I moved in on him he'd have to kill me. Especially since I don't drink anymore.

??
"Bitch, have a cocktail," Grant insisted. It's been three years since I quit drinking, but Grant acts like this is just a phase, as though it's just a matter of catching me in the right mood and I'll have my shirt open, demanding people suck body shots off my hooters like half his customers at closing time. Grant is a bartender – or, as he puts it, he's an artist and drink-slinging is part of his "process" – and he and Lary both can't believe I gave up alcohol. I think it must be because the drinking didn't go out with a bang. There was no DUI or 12-step program or regrettable binge when I woke up in bed with three bullwhips and a colostomy bag or anything. I simply lost my taste for alcohol one day and stopped drinking it, that's all.

??
Of course, all that is true, but it's not the real reason. Whenever I try to explain the real reason to these guys, they wave me off like an annoying gnat. Maybe Grant does get it a little, because he's a parent, and sometimes I think maybe he understands. Because the real reason I don't drink is because I have a kid now, and I don't ever want to be like that mom on "Cops" who answers the door holding a beer and a cigarette in the same hand, slurring, "Thass my baby bleedin' at the bottom of the staircase."

??
Not that I ever was that person or was in danger of becoming that person, but I found out I don't have to actually be that person for my girl to be affected – all it takes is for people to think I am. More specifically, all it took for me was one verbally abusive parent at my daughter's preschool, armed with the new release of my latest book (which, let's face it, revels in the debauchery of my youth), and before I knew it, my girl and I were ostracized to playdate wasteland.

??
Now, I've always told my daughter, "Judgment is more revealing of the person passing it than the person receiving it," but that's not a lot of comfort to a kid when the other kids can't come over because their parents have been told her mom is a big boozer. Maybe none of this matters, and I suppose I could have stood on principle and continued to drink moderately like the other parents, but all I know is that my principles can't climb the monkey bars with my kid. So I wish I could give you a supercolorful reason why I don't drink, like how I woke up in jail in a puddle of some post-op tranny prostitute's vomit or something, or about how my income doubled when I gave up cocktails – which, astoundingly, it did – but that is not the real reason.

??
"C'mon, have a margarita," Grant joked.

??
"Can't. Gotta work," I said. Again, not the real reason, but one that will do.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com)."
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  string(4971) "I was late to lunch again, big surprise. Grant and Lary always act affronted by this, as if I was applying for a job with them rather than showing up for my normal dose of denigration. They should be more like Daniel, I say, whose practice is to just go about lunch as though he didn't have a date with me at all, then when I finally do appear, he's super happy to see me. "Why can't you two blowtards be more like Daniel?" I griped as I sat down, which gave them the cue to rise as though lunch were over.

??
"At least you made it in time to say goodbye," Grant quipped.

??
"Sit down, Lord Jesus God," I hollered, and they did, but not because I begged them to. No, the real reason is because there was still a drop or two left in their cocktail glasses. "I'm sorry I'm late," I sighed. "The city is laying new roads and the asphalt is all torn up like pork chops after a pit-bull attack."

??
This is not the real reason, but one that will do. The real reason is that I spent the morning rummaging through my closet to find clothes to fit my big mom body, something these two sea urchins will never understand. By the time I finished wailing and got dressed, I was so late for lunch that the kitchen was closed and Lary had to begrudgingly let me nibble on his leftovers. Not that he wanted them for himself. No, the real reason is he likes to take any opportunity to point out that, unlike me, he has not gained one single pound since we met 15 years ago.

??
"Look, loser," I tell him, "when I want to sign up for the Lary Blodgett coffee-enema-and-Internet-amphetamine diet, I'll make sure to tell you so we can shop for matching hospital gowns. But for now I'd like to live, so fork over the tuna roll, turdball."

??
__Lary had just come__ __back__ from the Caribbean, where he'd been living under a lean-to (probably) off the coast of Turks and Caicos for a few months, threatening never to return to Atlanta. This caused me to, in turn, threaten to track him down and build my own lean-to right next to his. He returned home, he says, to save my life, because if I moved in on him he'd have to kill me. Especially since I don't drink anymore.

??
"Bitch, have a cocktail," Grant insisted. It's been three years since I quit drinking, but Grant acts like this is just a phase, as though it's just a matter of catching me in the right mood and I'll have my shirt open, demanding people suck body shots off my hooters like half his customers at closing time. Grant is a bartender – or, as he puts it, he's an artist and drink-slinging is part of his "process" – and he and Lary both can't believe I gave up alcohol. I think it must be because the drinking didn't go out with a bang. There was no DUI or 12-step program or regrettable binge when I woke up in bed with three bullwhips and a colostomy bag or anything. I simply lost my taste for alcohol one day and stopped drinking it, that's all.

??
Of course, all that is true, but it's not the real reason. Whenever I try to explain the real reason to these guys, they wave me off like an annoying gnat. Maybe Grant does get it a little, because he's a parent, and sometimes I think maybe he understands. Because the real reason I don't drink is because I have a kid now, and I don't ever want to be like that mom on "Cops" who answers the door holding a beer and a cigarette in the same hand, slurring, "Thass my baby bleedin' at the bottom of the staircase."

??
Not that I ever was that person or was in danger of becoming that person, but I found out I don't have to actually be that person for my girl to be affected – all it takes is for people to think I am. More specifically, all it took for me was one verbally abusive parent at my daughter's preschool, armed with the new release of my latest book (which, let's face it, revels in the debauchery of my youth), and before I knew it, my girl and I were ostracized to playdate wasteland.

??
Now, I've always told my daughter, "Judgment is more revealing of the person passing it than the person receiving it," but that's not a lot of comfort to a kid when the other kids can't come over because their parents have been told her mom is a big boozer. Maybe none of this matters, and I suppose I could have stood on principle and continued to drink moderately like the other parents, but all I know is that my principles can't climb the monkey bars with my kid. So I wish I could give you a supercolorful reason why I don't drink, like how I woke up in jail in a puddle of some post-op tranny prostitute's vomit or something, or about how my income doubled when I gave up cocktails – which, astoundingly, it did – but that is not the real reason.

??
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??
"Can't. Gotta work," I said. Again, not the real reason, but one that will do.

??
''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.shockingreallife.com/|www.shockingreallife.com])''."
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  string(5166) "    The one time I really needed to be a quitter   2007-08-29T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - The real reason   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-08-29T04:04:00+00:00  I was late to lunch again, big surprise. Grant and Lary always act affronted by this, as if I was applying for a job with them rather than showing up for my normal dose of denigration. They should be more like Daniel, I say, whose practice is to just go about lunch as though he didn't have a date with me at all, then when I finally do appear, he's super happy to see me. "Why can't you two blowtards be more like Daniel?" I griped as I sat down, which gave them the cue to rise as though lunch were over.

??
"At least you made it in time to say goodbye," Grant quipped.

??
"Sit down, Lord Jesus God," I hollered, and they did, but not because I begged them to. No, the real reason is because there was still a drop or two left in their cocktail glasses. "I'm sorry I'm late," I sighed. "The city is laying new roads and the asphalt is all torn up like pork chops after a pit-bull attack."

??
This is not the real reason, but one that will do. The real reason is that I spent the morning rummaging through my closet to find clothes to fit my big mom body, something these two sea urchins will never understand. By the time I finished wailing and got dressed, I was so late for lunch that the kitchen was closed and Lary had to begrudgingly let me nibble on his leftovers. Not that he wanted them for himself. No, the real reason is he likes to take any opportunity to point out that, unlike me, he has not gained one single pound since we met 15 years ago.

??
"Look, loser," I tell him, "when I want to sign up for the Lary Blodgett coffee-enema-and-Internet-amphetamine diet, I'll make sure to tell you so we can shop for matching hospital gowns. But for now I'd like to live, so fork over the tuna roll, turdball."

??
Lary had just come back from the Caribbean, where he'd been living under a lean-to (probably) off the coast of Turks and Caicos for a few months, threatening never to return to Atlanta. This caused me to, in turn, threaten to track him down and build my own lean-to right next to his. He returned home, he says, to save my life, because if I moved in on him he'd have to kill me. Especially since I don't drink anymore.

??
"Bitch, have a cocktail," Grant insisted. It's been three years since I quit drinking, but Grant acts like this is just a phase, as though it's just a matter of catching me in the right mood and I'll have my shirt open, demanding people suck body shots off my hooters like half his customers at closing time. Grant is a bartender – or, as he puts it, he's an artist and drink-slinging is part of his "process" – and he and Lary both can't believe I gave up alcohol. I think it must be because the drinking didn't go out with a bang. There was no DUI or 12-step program or regrettable binge when I woke up in bed with three bullwhips and a colostomy bag or anything. I simply lost my taste for alcohol one day and stopped drinking it, that's all.

??
Of course, all that is true, but it's not the real reason. Whenever I try to explain the real reason to these guys, they wave me off like an annoying gnat. Maybe Grant does get it a little, because he's a parent, and sometimes I think maybe he understands. Because the real reason I don't drink is because I have a kid now, and I don't ever want to be like that mom on "Cops" who answers the door holding a beer and a cigarette in the same hand, slurring, "Thass my baby bleedin' at the bottom of the staircase."

??
Not that I ever was that person or was in danger of becoming that person, but I found out I don't have to actually be that person for my girl to be affected – all it takes is for people to think I am. More specifically, all it took for me was one verbally abusive parent at my daughter's preschool, armed with the new release of my latest book (which, let's face it, revels in the debauchery of my youth), and before I knew it, my girl and I were ostracized to playdate wasteland.

??
Now, I've always told my daughter, "Judgment is more revealing of the person passing it than the person receiving it," but that's not a lot of comfort to a kid when the other kids can't come over because their parents have been told her mom is a big boozer. Maybe none of this matters, and I suppose I could have stood on principle and continued to drink moderately like the other parents, but all I know is that my principles can't climb the monkey bars with my kid. So I wish I could give you a supercolorful reason why I don't drink, like how I woke up in jail in a puddle of some post-op tranny prostitute's vomit or something, or about how my income doubled when I gave up cocktails – which, astoundingly, it did – but that is not the real reason.

??
"C'mon, have a margarita," Grant joked.

??
"Can't. Gotta work," I said. Again, not the real reason, but one that will do.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com).             13025389 1269248                          Moodswing - The real reason "
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Moodswing

Wednesday August 29, 2007 12:04 am EDT
The one time I really needed to be a quitter | more...
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  string(4800) "If I'd known I'd spend the day shoe shopping with Kate Pierson of the B-52's, I would have whitened my teeth or something. Or at the very least I would have worn something other than what happened to stick to me from the floor when I rolled out of bed that morning. But Grant must know not to give me notice to prepare for these things, probably because he knows I'd never be prepared for these things. He knows if I had any time at all to think about it I'd probably just give up and flop on the sofa like an ocean slug, wailing, "I can't meet her this way!"

??
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??
"Hollis, Kate. Kate, Hollis," Grant said unceremoniously as I took my seat beside her. It was her, all right. She still has hair the color of flames emerging from a burning chemical plant. She still lights up the room like an ore of plutonium.

??
She and Grant met one day when he'd looked up from serving drinks at the Local and saw her standing there with Fred Schneider. The two had actually sought Grant out, proving that some tracks are just meant to cross. They'd heard that Grant had a house full of modern furniture he was hawking and they wanted a private viewing. The next day, Fred left with a few lamps but Kate came away with more than that, and she and Grant have been friends ever since.

??
Lary was there at lunch, and I must say he was very subdued that day for being Lary. He actually sat there with his hands folded in his lap like two sleeping kittens. These are the same hands he once used to climb a big religious billboard to cut off the head of Christ and replace it with a giant sign that read, "Be back in five minutes." Perhaps this is the way he behaves when he's in the presence of greatness, though, because there Kate Pierson was right across the table from him, eating sushi and acting like she had any business being flesh-and-blood like the rest of us. I myself kept my gushing to a minimum.

??
"Great to meet you," I told her. "Your music changed my life," and that was that. No need to go into detail. No need to tell her how, as a kid thousands of miles away from here, I traditionally went through each day weighted with a universe of sorrow, most of it imagined but some of it real, like the loss of my drunk for a dad, for one, who'd just died in an efficiency flat across from the airport alone and with no idea how much he'd be missed. No need to tell her how I woke up every morning back then burdened with this and other insurmountable sorrows, and how I'd just lay there in bed, my arms outstretched, and let my brain become my enemy. Then the day came when I heard "Quiche Lorraine" for the first time on the radio, and that is the day joy began to work its way back into my brain. That is the day I took my first step this way instead of that way.

??
Grant had promised to squire Kate around town before taking her back to her hotel, which is a promise I don't know how he expected to keep, because Grant has a maddening habit of showing up for his bartending shift even in the face of hanging out with rock stars for the day, and I know for a fact that he had to be at his post hosing down drunks at the Local that afternoon. But then he said, right there in the parking lot, "Kate, Hollis is gonna give you a lift," and he handed her over to me like a precious gift and right then I knew he knew. "This is Kate-goddamn-Pierson of the B-fucking-52's," his eyes smiled to me as he helped me shovel all the empty coffee cups, crayons and half-masticated chicken nuggets out of my front seat to make room for her, "and you are goddamn welcome."

??
And that is how I got a day with Kate Pierson, which we spent shoe shopping like I have any business at all buying shoes with Kate Pierson of the B-fucking-52's. Sometimes I think how simple it would have been for that day not to have happened at all, how any one of the steps I've taken since way back when I lay like a defeated carcass in the twin bed of my freshman dorm could have taken me that way instead of this one. But other times I just think some tracks are simply meant to cross; they are set in place by some cosmic train conductor, who is telling us there is no that way. There is only this one, and you are goddamn welcome.

??
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??
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"Hollis, Kate. Kate, Hollis," Grant said unceremoniously as I took my seat beside her. It was her, all right. She still has hair the color of flames emerging from a burning chemical plant. She still lights up the room like an ore of plutonium.

??
She and Grant met one day when he'd looked up from serving drinks at the Local and saw her standing there with Fred Schneider. The two had actually sought Grant out, proving that some tracks are just meant to cross. They'd heard that Grant had a house full of modern furniture he was hawking and they wanted a private viewing. The next day, Fred left with a few lamps but Kate came away with more than that, and she and Grant have been friends ever since.

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??
__"Great to meet you,"__ I told her. "Your music changed my life," and that was that. No need to go into detail. No need to tell her how, as a kid thousands of miles away from here, I traditionally went through each day weighted with a universe of sorrow, most of it imagined but some of it real, like the loss of my drunk for a dad, for one, who'd just died in an efficiency flat across from the airport alone and with no idea how much he'd be missed. No need to tell her how I woke up every morning back then burdened with this and other insurmountable sorrows, and how I'd just lay there in bed, my arms outstretched, and let my brain become my enemy. Then the day came when I heard "Quiche Lorraine" for the first time on the radio, and that is the day joy began to work its way back into my brain. That is the day I took my first step this way instead of that way.

??
Grant had promised to squire Kate around town before taking her back to her hotel, which is a promise I don't know how he expected to keep, because Grant has a maddening habit of showing up for his bartending shift even in the face of hanging out with rock stars for the day, and I know for a fact that he had to be at his post hosing down drunks at the Local that afternoon. But then he said, right there in the parking lot, "Kate, Hollis is gonna give you a lift," and he handed her over to me like a precious gift and right then I knew he knew. "This is Kate-goddamn-Pierson of the B-fucking-52's," his eyes smiled to me as he helped me shovel all the empty coffee cups, crayons and half-masticated chicken nuggets out of my front seat to make room for her, "and you are goddamn welcome."

??
And that is how I got a day with Kate Pierson, which we spent shoe shopping like I have any business at all buying shoes with Kate Pierson of the B-fucking-52's. Sometimes I think how simple it would have been for that day not to have happened at all, how any one of the steps I've taken since way back when I lay like a defeated carcass in the twin bed of my freshman dorm could have taken me that way instead of this one. But other times I just think some tracks are simply meant to cross; they are set in place by some cosmic train conductor, who is telling us there is no ''that'' way. There is only this one, and you are goddamn welcome.

??
''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.shockingreallife.com/|www.shockingreallife.com]).''"
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??
So when Grant called me out of the blue to come meet her, they were already sitting down to lunch. "Bitch, come right now," he insisted, and still it took me a hundred years to get there. That restaurant was practically in my back yard, but I took what I thought was a shortcut – going this way instead of that way – and by the time I finally found the place again, I think there were distant relatives way off in my line of vision, waving me into the light.

??
"Hollis, Kate. Kate, Hollis," Grant said unceremoniously as I took my seat beside her. It was her, all right. She still has hair the color of flames emerging from a burning chemical plant. She still lights up the room like an ore of plutonium.

??
She and Grant met one day when he'd looked up from serving drinks at the Local and saw her standing there with Fred Schneider. The two had actually sought Grant out, proving that some tracks are just meant to cross. They'd heard that Grant had a house full of modern furniture he was hawking and they wanted a private viewing. The next day, Fred left with a few lamps but Kate came away with more than that, and she and Grant have been friends ever since.

??
Lary was there at lunch, and I must say he was very subdued that day for being Lary. He actually sat there with his hands folded in his lap like two sleeping kittens. These are the same hands he once used to climb a big religious billboard to cut off the head of Christ and replace it with a giant sign that read, "Be back in five minutes." Perhaps this is the way he behaves when he's in the presence of greatness, though, because there Kate Pierson was right across the table from him, eating sushi and acting like she had any business being flesh-and-blood like the rest of us. I myself kept my gushing to a minimum.

??
"Great to meet you," I told her. "Your music changed my life," and that was that. No need to go into detail. No need to tell her how, as a kid thousands of miles away from here, I traditionally went through each day weighted with a universe of sorrow, most of it imagined but some of it real, like the loss of my drunk for a dad, for one, who'd just died in an efficiency flat across from the airport alone and with no idea how much he'd be missed. No need to tell her how I woke up every morning back then burdened with this and other insurmountable sorrows, and how I'd just lay there in bed, my arms outstretched, and let my brain become my enemy. Then the day came when I heard "Quiche Lorraine" for the first time on the radio, and that is the day joy began to work its way back into my brain. That is the day I took my first step this way instead of that way.

??
Grant had promised to squire Kate around town before taking her back to her hotel, which is a promise I don't know how he expected to keep, because Grant has a maddening habit of showing up for his bartending shift even in the face of hanging out with rock stars for the day, and I know for a fact that he had to be at his post hosing down drunks at the Local that afternoon. But then he said, right there in the parking lot, "Kate, Hollis is gonna give you a lift," and he handed her over to me like a precious gift and right then I knew he knew. "This is Kate-goddamn-Pierson of the B-fucking-52's," his eyes smiled to me as he helped me shovel all the empty coffee cups, crayons and half-masticated chicken nuggets out of my front seat to make room for her, "and you are goddamn welcome."

??
And that is how I got a day with Kate Pierson, which we spent shoe shopping like I have any business at all buying shoes with Kate Pierson of the B-fucking-52's. Sometimes I think how simple it would have been for that day not to have happened at all, how any one of the steps I've taken since way back when I lay like a defeated carcass in the twin bed of my freshman dorm could have taken me that way instead of this one. But other times I just think some tracks are simply meant to cross; they are set in place by some cosmic train conductor, who is telling us there is no that way. There is only this one, and you are goddamn welcome.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com).             13025343 1269150                          Moodswing - This way instead of that way "
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Moodswing

Wednesday August 22, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Shoe shopping with a rock star | more...
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  string(5176) "The other day there was a suitcase sitting in the center of the freeway, and cars were swerving every which way to avoid hitting it, not that hitting it would have been so bad. In fact, I wish someone had. It was just a framed canvas bag that might have gotten caught in your car grill for a bit but not done much permanent damage or anything. Still, though, people were giving it a wide margin. Traffic careened around it, people were late for things, and days were rearranged. All because of a suitcase sitting there.

??
"Christ, will somebody move that thing?" I thought as I angled around it. I would have done it myself, but I had my child there to think about.

??
In fact it was her big day at performance camp at the Art Station in Stone Mountain, and when we finally arrived there it was amid a last-minute panic to rewrite the play's script, because another parent had complained about the play's content, in particular the part of the "vestal girls," which was the 7-year-old equivalent to the vestal virgins of Roman mythology. The rankled parent had complained the part indoctrinated the young girls who played it into "militant lesbianism."

??
Personally, I think a vestal virgin is a much better role model for a 7-year-old than the parade of infamous mini crack whores invading the media these days, not that I have anything against mini crack whores. I don't wanna judge. I know they must have mothers themselves, probably, and maybe those mothers burst with pride when their girls get out of a limo, for example, and angle those naked crotches so well for the photographers, or when their daughters' pupils are dilated so pretty in their mug shots. I just personally hope my girl grows up to aspire for more than a designer blouse to camouflage her prison tats and track marks, that's all. But who am I but a parent who was actually there to see her child perform in the play, as opposed to a parent who was not planning to show up but nonetheless fired off an e-mail that had everyone engaged in the turmoil of rewriting the script?

??
"The vestal virgins were actually priestesses," I suggested, operating from the memory of my own grade-school mythology classes, which, amazingly, did not steer me down the road to adolescent sodomy, eventual weapon-toting lesbianism, back-alley abortions, or death and the ultimate destruction of Earth. I did go through a bit of a pyromaniac phase, though, but maybe that's because matchbooks and cigarettes were kept in a candy bowl on our coffee table. I remember I was in a Christmas recital then, too, and my father missed every rehearsal, which was fine with me. I didn't want him embarrassing me by showing up all five-o'clock-shadowed and boozy-breathed, but when it came time for the actual performance he was there in the audience, pointing his lit cigarette at me with pride. I do remember that. I absolutely remember that.

??
"In fact," I continued, "the vestal virgins were the only female priests in Roman mythology. So let's change the name of the part." So this change, among others, was agreed upon. Also, the part of the chorus that included, "Do we get married? No!" was subtracted, because God forbid a 7-year-old girl grow up to be independent and empowered outside of wedlock.

??
No one thought twice before making the decision to rewrite the script. Any decision otherwise would have excluded the girl from participating, and in the face of decisions like this it's always better to be kind than to be right. That is why I'm so impressed with the camp staff. This is "drama" camp, after all, and I can hardly think of a better way to equip your child to embark on life's journey than to bestow her with the flexibility to navigate the dramatic and circumvent the obstinate.

??
The girl was elated and the play went underway, with the new lines all the more hilarious for being mangled in their delivery. Afterward the ovations were made, the cake was served, the pictures were taken, and the parents were proud. Nobody mentioned the missing parent who'd caused the ruckus at curtain time. It was over. It was forgotten.

??
Until the ride home, when I thought of the suitcase sitting in the center of the road again, and all the cars that were redirected around it as it sat undisturbed, and how people can be like that sometimes, sitting undisturbed in the middle of everything, admonishing the chaos around them while obtuse to being the cause of it. I used to be the kind of person who would get out and move it, but now I just go around because I have this kid here to think about.

??
So as I drove I considered that Christmas recital when I was 7, when my unemployed trailer-salesman father found the time to brush his teeth and tuck in his shirt long enough to sit in the audience and listen to me sing about the Virgin Mary and other militant lesbians. His proud face is what I was thinking about when we came across the suitcase again. It had been knocked to the side of the road, but other than that it was still sitting there, having gone nowhere.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com)."
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  string(5219) "The other day there was a suitcase sitting in the center of the freeway, and cars were swerving every which way to avoid hitting it, not that hitting it would have been so bad. In fact, I wish someone had. It was just a framed canvas bag that might have gotten caught in your car grill for a bit but not done much permanent damage or anything. Still, though, people were giving it a wide margin. Traffic careened around it, people were late for things, and days were rearranged. All because of a suitcase sitting there.

??
"Christ, will somebody move that thing?" I thought as I angled around it. I would have done it myself, but I had my child there to think about.

??
In fact it was her big day at performance camp at the Art Station in Stone Mountain, and when we finally arrived there it was amid a last-minute panic to rewrite the play's script, because another parent had complained about the play's content, in particular the part of the "vestal girls," which was the 7-year-old equivalent to the vestal virgins of Roman mythology. The rankled parent had complained the part indoctrinated the young girls who played it into "militant lesbianism."

??
Personally, I think a vestal virgin is a much better role model for a 7-year-old than the parade of infamous mini crack whores invading the media these days, not that I have anything against mini crack whores. I don't wanna judge. I know they must have mothers themselves, probably, and maybe those mothers burst with pride when their girls get out of a limo, for example, and angle those naked crotches so well for the photographers, or when their daughters' pupils are dilated so pretty in their mug shots. I just personally hope my girl grows up to aspire for more than a designer blouse to camouflage her prison tats and track marks, that's all. But who am I but a parent who was actually there to see her child perform in the play, as opposed to a parent who was not planning to show up but nonetheless fired off an e-mail that had everyone engaged in the turmoil of rewriting the script?

??
__"The vestal virgins__ were actually priestesses," I suggested, operating from the memory of my own grade-school mythology classes, which, amazingly, did not steer me down the road to adolescent sodomy, eventual weapon-toting lesbianism, back-alley abortions, or death and the ultimate destruction of Earth. I did go through a bit of a pyromaniac phase, though, but maybe that's because matchbooks and cigarettes were kept in a candy bowl on our coffee table. I remember I was in a Christmas recital then, too, and my father missed every rehearsal, which was fine with me. I didn't want him embarrassing me by showing up all five-o'clock-shadowed and boozy-breathed, but when it came time for the actual performance he was there in the audience, pointing his lit cigarette at me with pride. I do remember that. I absolutely remember that.

??
"In fact," I continued, "the vestal virgins were the only female priests in Roman mythology. So let's change the name of the part." So this change, among others, was agreed upon. Also, the part of the chorus that included, "Do we get married? No!" was subtracted, because God forbid a 7-year-old girl grow up to be independent and empowered outside of wedlock.

??
No one thought twice before making the decision to rewrite the script. Any decision otherwise would have excluded the girl from participating, and in the face of decisions like this it's always better to be kind than to be right. That is why I'm so impressed with the camp staff. This is "drama" camp, after all, and I can hardly think of a better way to equip your child to embark on life's journey than to bestow her with the flexibility to navigate the dramatic and circumvent the obstinate.

??
The girl was elated and the play went underway, with the new lines all the more hilarious for being mangled in their delivery. Afterward the ovations were made, the cake was served, the pictures were taken, and the parents were proud. Nobody mentioned the missing parent who'd caused the ruckus at curtain time. It was over. It was forgotten.

??
Until the ride home, when I thought of the suitcase sitting in the center of the road again, and all the cars that were redirected around it as it sat undisturbed, and how people can be like that sometimes, sitting undisturbed in the middle of everything, admonishing the chaos around them while obtuse to being the cause of it. I used to be the kind of person who would get out and move it, but now I just go around because I have this kid here to think about.

??
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??
''Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy ([http://www.shockingreallife.com/|www.shockingreallife.com]).''"
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??
"Christ, will somebody move that thing?" I thought as I angled around it. I would have done it myself, but I had my child there to think about.

??
In fact it was her big day at performance camp at the Art Station in Stone Mountain, and when we finally arrived there it was amid a last-minute panic to rewrite the play's script, because another parent had complained about the play's content, in particular the part of the "vestal girls," which was the 7-year-old equivalent to the vestal virgins of Roman mythology. The rankled parent had complained the part indoctrinated the young girls who played it into "militant lesbianism."

??
Personally, I think a vestal virgin is a much better role model for a 7-year-old than the parade of infamous mini crack whores invading the media these days, not that I have anything against mini crack whores. I don't wanna judge. I know they must have mothers themselves, probably, and maybe those mothers burst with pride when their girls get out of a limo, for example, and angle those naked crotches so well for the photographers, or when their daughters' pupils are dilated so pretty in their mug shots. I just personally hope my girl grows up to aspire for more than a designer blouse to camouflage her prison tats and track marks, that's all. But who am I but a parent who was actually there to see her child perform in the play, as opposed to a parent who was not planning to show up but nonetheless fired off an e-mail that had everyone engaged in the turmoil of rewriting the script?

??
"The vestal virgins were actually priestesses," I suggested, operating from the memory of my own grade-school mythology classes, which, amazingly, did not steer me down the road to adolescent sodomy, eventual weapon-toting lesbianism, back-alley abortions, or death and the ultimate destruction of Earth. I did go through a bit of a pyromaniac phase, though, but maybe that's because matchbooks and cigarettes were kept in a candy bowl on our coffee table. I remember I was in a Christmas recital then, too, and my father missed every rehearsal, which was fine with me. I didn't want him embarrassing me by showing up all five-o'clock-shadowed and boozy-breathed, but when it came time for the actual performance he was there in the audience, pointing his lit cigarette at me with pride. I do remember that. I absolutely remember that.

??
"In fact," I continued, "the vestal virgins were the only female priests in Roman mythology. So let's change the name of the part." So this change, among others, was agreed upon. Also, the part of the chorus that included, "Do we get married? No!" was subtracted, because God forbid a 7-year-old girl grow up to be independent and empowered outside of wedlock.

??
No one thought twice before making the decision to rewrite the script. Any decision otherwise would have excluded the girl from participating, and in the face of decisions like this it's always better to be kind than to be right. That is why I'm so impressed with the camp staff. This is "drama" camp, after all, and I can hardly think of a better way to equip your child to embark on life's journey than to bestow her with the flexibility to navigate the dramatic and circumvent the obstinate.

??
The girl was elated and the play went underway, with the new lines all the more hilarious for being mangled in their delivery. Afterward the ovations were made, the cake was served, the pictures were taken, and the parents were proud. Nobody mentioned the missing parent who'd caused the ruckus at curtain time. It was over. It was forgotten.

??
Until the ride home, when I thought of the suitcase sitting in the center of the road again, and all the cars that were redirected around it as it sat undisturbed, and how people can be like that sometimes, sitting undisturbed in the middle of everything, admonishing the chaos around them while obtuse to being the cause of it. I used to be the kind of person who would get out and move it, but now I just go around because I have this kid here to think about.

??
So as I drove I considered that Christmas recital when I was 7, when my unemployed trailer-salesman father found the time to brush his teeth and tuck in his shirt long enough to sit in the audience and listen to me sing about the Virgin Mary and other militant lesbians. His proud face is what I was thinking about when we came across the suitcase again. It had been knocked to the side of the road, but other than that it was still sitting there, having gone nowhere.

??
Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.shockingreallife.com).             13025268 1268987                          Moodswing - A suitcase in the center of the freeway "
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Moodswing

Wednesday August 15, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Causing chaos without going anywhere | more...
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  string(4979) "The bruises on my ass are not from having hot buffalo sex like Grant would have you believe. Not that I have ever willingly shown Grant my ass — Lord, get that out of your head — but there's not much I can do when he keeps peeking through the curtains while I try on all the vintage cocktail dresses he picks out for me when we troll thrift stores.

??
"I hope you had some fun bruising up your ass like that," he'd said.

??
"Get out!" I shrieked at him, and he did, but not before handing me something his own mother had probably worn at a pool party when he was 8. Grant is always trying to dress me like his mother from the '70s, though, admittedly, she is a stylish woman.

??
"I have a picture of me and my mother both twirling batons, posing like this," Grant said, arching his back, kicking his leg up and extending his arm out front with his fingers flayed. "I will treasure it forever."

??
"Really?" I asked, almost actually kind of quasi-charmed at the thought of Grant as a young boy tossing batons with his mom. "When was the picture taken?"

??
"Last week," he answered, pitching me another cocktail dress.

??
I don't know who Grant sees when he looks at me, but these dresses would have fit me better back before I had bruises on my ass, back when I had an entirely different ass, one that weighed at least 15 pounds less than the one I have now. That ass would look awesome in these cocktail dresses, which, of course, I bought on Grant's insistence. Now they're hanging in my closet with the rest of the stuff I won't wear but refuse to toss, clothes that still fit the me in my head, and as long as I don't try them on again the me in my head will match the me in the mirror.

??
But it's just a matter of time before that illusion clashes with reality. Like the other day, when I went to Barnes & Noble with my 7-year-old. They have small chairs in the kids' section of Barnes & Noble, sturdy little brightly colored Adirondack chairs with armrests and everything. When I looked at those chairs it must not have occurred to me that I wasn't a child myself, because the me in my head had no problem with directing my butt to plunk itself right in one. The chair objected, though, and now I have these two bruises that run like stripes on either side of my rear, marking the spots where the sturdy little Adirondack armrests refused to allow my ass passage to the seat beneath them. The bruises are so straight they look like they've been drawn on by a plastic surgeon or something. "In order for the you in your head to match the you in reality," this plastic surgeon is saying, "you'll need to get rid of everything outside these lines."

??
Looking back, I suppose it was bound to happen. I mean, surely, eventually something was gonna occur to make me start seeing myself as I actually am, as opposed to the me I thought I was. Grant always says the truth will set people free, "but first it will piss them off." I wouldn't say I was pissed so much as just curious; like how long might I have gone, I thought, not knowing that I'm not the me I used to be, and who would it have harmed if I never came to know any differently?

??
Because what keeps coming up in my head now that the me in my head no longer occupies space there is that photograph of Grant and his mother, the one where they're both posing with batons, their backs arched and their arms outstretched and their fingers gracefully flayed in front. Some people would look at that picture and probably see a 78-year-old grandmother and her mole-flecked, big-headed, twice-divorced, latent-gay son engaged in some tandem act of massive denial. I can hear the judgment right now. "Who do these two think they are? Do they not know how they look?"

??
But it's obvious these two don't care how they look to anybody but themselves and each other. In their minds they are still young and playful, and when I look at that picture, I see the majorette she used to be, and I see the incandescent child that Grant was as well. I see the elation on their faces, their love for each other and the them that is in their heads. There is no reason why this perception can't absolutely be as valid as any other.

??
And when Grant kept handing me vintage little cocktail shifts that someone a lot cuter should wear, I had to admit I liked the me that was in Grant's head a lot better than the one I'm stuck with now. Seriously, when the you in your head disappears, it's highly recommended to have someone you love close by to replace it. Later, as we were driving around, he pointed out a George Bernard Shaw quote on a sign above a toy store. "We don't stop playing because we grow old," it read, "we grow old because we stopped playing."

??
"So snap out of it," Grant said. He was right; just because your ass no longer fits in a child's chair doesn't mean the child in you is no longer there.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(5015) "The bruises on my ass are not from having hot buffalo sex like Grant would have you believe. Not that I have ever willingly shown Grant my ass -- Lord, get that out of your head -- but there's not much I can do when he keeps peeking through the curtains while I try on all the vintage cocktail dresses he picks out for me when we troll thrift stores.

??
"I hope you had some fun bruising up your ass like that," he'd said.

??
"Get out!" I shrieked at him, and he did, but not before handing me something his own mother had probably worn at a pool party when he was 8. Grant is always trying to dress me like his mother from the '70s, though, admittedly, she is a stylish woman.

??
"I have a picture of me and my mother both twirling batons, posing like this," Grant said, arching his back, kicking his leg up and extending his arm out front with his fingers flayed. "I will treasure it forever."

??
"Really?" I asked, almost actually kind of quasi-charmed at the thought of Grant as a young boy tossing batons with his mom. "When was the picture taken?"

??
"Last week," he answered, pitching me another cocktail dress.

??
I don't know who Grant sees when he looks at me, but these dresses would have fit me better back before I had bruises on my ass, back when I had an entirely different ass, one that weighed at least 15 pounds less than the one I have now. That ass would look awesome in these cocktail dresses, which, of course, I bought on Grant's insistence. Now they're hanging in my closet with the rest of the stuff I won't wear but refuse to toss, clothes that still fit the me in my head, and as long as I don't try them on again the me in my head will match the me in the mirror.

??
But it's just a matter of time before that illusion clashes with reality. Like the other day, when I went to Barnes & Noble with my 7-year-old. They have small chairs in the kids' section of Barnes & Noble, sturdy little brightly colored Adirondack chairs with armrests and everything. When I looked at those chairs it must not have occurred to me that I wasn't a child myself, because the me in my head had no problem with directing my butt to plunk itself right in one. The chair objected, though, and now I have these two bruises that run like stripes on either side of my rear, marking the spots where the sturdy little Adirondack armrests refused to allow my ass passage to the seat beneath them. The bruises are so straight they look like they've been drawn on by a plastic surgeon or something. "In order for the you in your head to match the you in reality," this plastic surgeon is saying, "you'll need to get rid of everything outside these lines."

??
__Looking back,__ I suppose it was bound to happen. I mean, surely, eventually something was gonna occur to make me start seeing myself as I actually am, as opposed to the me I thought I was. Grant always says the truth will set people free, "but first it will piss them off." I wouldn't say I was pissed so much as just curious; like how long might I have gone, I thought, not knowing that I'm not the me I used to be, and who would it have harmed if I never came to know any differently?

??
Because what keeps coming up in my head now that the me in my head no longer occupies space there is that photograph of Grant and his mother, the one where they're both posing with batons, their backs arched and their arms outstretched and their fingers gracefully flayed in front. Some people would look at that picture and probably see a 78-year-old grandmother and her mole-flecked, big-headed, twice-divorced, latent-gay son engaged in some tandem act of massive denial. I can hear the judgment right now. "Who do these two think they are? Do they not know how they ''look''?"

??
But it's obvious these two don't care how they look to anybody but themselves and each other. In their minds they are still young and playful, and when I look at that picture, I see the majorette she used to be, and I see the incandescent child that Grant was as well. I see the elation on their faces, their love for each other and the them that is in their heads. There is no reason why this perception can't absolutely be as valid as any other.

??
And when Grant kept handing me vintage little cocktail shifts that someone a lot cuter should wear, I had to admit I liked the me that was in Grant's head a lot better than the one I'm stuck with now. Seriously, when the you in your head disappears, it's highly recommended to have someone you love close by to replace it. Later, as we were driving around, he pointed out a George Bernard Shaw quote on a sign above a toy store. "We don't stop playing because we grow old," it read, "we grow old because we stopped playing."

??
"So snap out of it," Grant said. He was right; just because your ass no longer fits in a child's chair doesn't mean the child in you is no longer there.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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??
"I hope you had some fun bruising up your ass like that," he'd said.

??
"Get out!" I shrieked at him, and he did, but not before handing me something his own mother had probably worn at a pool party when he was 8. Grant is always trying to dress me like his mother from the '70s, though, admittedly, she is a stylish woman.

??
"I have a picture of me and my mother both twirling batons, posing like this," Grant said, arching his back, kicking his leg up and extending his arm out front with his fingers flayed. "I will treasure it forever."

??
"Really?" I asked, almost actually kind of quasi-charmed at the thought of Grant as a young boy tossing batons with his mom. "When was the picture taken?"

??
"Last week," he answered, pitching me another cocktail dress.

??
I don't know who Grant sees when he looks at me, but these dresses would have fit me better back before I had bruises on my ass, back when I had an entirely different ass, one that weighed at least 15 pounds less than the one I have now. That ass would look awesome in these cocktail dresses, which, of course, I bought on Grant's insistence. Now they're hanging in my closet with the rest of the stuff I won't wear but refuse to toss, clothes that still fit the me in my head, and as long as I don't try them on again the me in my head will match the me in the mirror.

??
But it's just a matter of time before that illusion clashes with reality. Like the other day, when I went to Barnes & Noble with my 7-year-old. They have small chairs in the kids' section of Barnes & Noble, sturdy little brightly colored Adirondack chairs with armrests and everything. When I looked at those chairs it must not have occurred to me that I wasn't a child myself, because the me in my head had no problem with directing my butt to plunk itself right in one. The chair objected, though, and now I have these two bruises that run like stripes on either side of my rear, marking the spots where the sturdy little Adirondack armrests refused to allow my ass passage to the seat beneath them. The bruises are so straight they look like they've been drawn on by a plastic surgeon or something. "In order for the you in your head to match the you in reality," this plastic surgeon is saying, "you'll need to get rid of everything outside these lines."

??
Looking back, I suppose it was bound to happen. I mean, surely, eventually something was gonna occur to make me start seeing myself as I actually am, as opposed to the me I thought I was. Grant always says the truth will set people free, "but first it will piss them off." I wouldn't say I was pissed so much as just curious; like how long might I have gone, I thought, not knowing that I'm not the me I used to be, and who would it have harmed if I never came to know any differently?

??
Because what keeps coming up in my head now that the me in my head no longer occupies space there is that photograph of Grant and his mother, the one where they're both posing with batons, their backs arched and their arms outstretched and their fingers gracefully flayed in front. Some people would look at that picture and probably see a 78-year-old grandmother and her mole-flecked, big-headed, twice-divorced, latent-gay son engaged in some tandem act of massive denial. I can hear the judgment right now. "Who do these two think they are? Do they not know how they look?"

??
But it's obvious these two don't care how they look to anybody but themselves and each other. In their minds they are still young and playful, and when I look at that picture, I see the majorette she used to be, and I see the incandescent child that Grant was as well. I see the elation on their faces, their love for each other and the them that is in their heads. There is no reason why this perception can't absolutely be as valid as any other.

??
And when Grant kept handing me vintage little cocktail shifts that someone a lot cuter should wear, I had to admit I liked the me that was in Grant's head a lot better than the one I'm stuck with now. Seriously, when the you in your head disappears, it's highly recommended to have someone you love close by to replace it. Later, as we were driving around, he pointed out a George Bernard Shaw quote on a sign above a toy store. "We don't stop playing because we grow old," it read, "we grow old because we stopped playing."

??
"So snap out of it," Grant said. He was right; just because your ass no longer fits in a child's chair doesn't mean the child in you is no longer there.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com.             13025212 1268853                          Moodswing - The me in my head "
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Moodswing

Wednesday August 8, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Imposed reality of a too-small chair | more...
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  string(5125) "Rumor has it my sister Cheryl made it back to Nicaragua. We don't know for absolute certain, but my other sister Kim reports that Cheryl's bank account shows there was a withdrawal last week from an ATM in Granada, and we figure it must have been made by our sister, since she is the only one who knows the PIN, and she wouldn't give it out even if someone threatened to chop off her arms. We know this because that exact threat was made by the last person who tried to rob Cheryl. It was 18 years ago, and that man is still icing down his balls to this day.

??
"Cher first paid a $2 fee to inquire about her balance," Kim observed, "then she spent another $2 to make the withdrawal." We found that funny because it was so in keeping with the fact that, no matter what her efforts are to keep from wasting money, Cheryl never fails to waste money. Take last month. It would have cost her $895 for a full-fare ticket to Alaska last month, but instead she paid $250 to fly standby. In the end, after reroute fees, hotel rooms for those nights stranded in strange cities on the way to her destination, two rental cars and one train ticket, she ended up spending close to $1,200 to get there and back. But that last leg of her trip, when she had to rent a car to get from Cincinnati to her final destination of Kim's house in Dayton, the rental-car clerk, out of the goodness of his heart, upgraded Cheryl to a convertible Mustang at the last minute for no additional fee.

??
"Yeeeeehaaaawww!" Cheryl hooted into her cell phone as she hurled down the freeway with the wind tossing her hot-pink-streaked hair into a tiny tornado above her head. "This car normally costs $150 a day! This makes it all worth it."

??
"You're missing it," Kim said, and tried to explain further about how it would have been cheaper if Cheryl had just paid the full ticket price. But by then Cheryl had accidentally tossed her cell phone onto the back floorboard while waving to a trucker. She arrived in Dayton an hour later, ready to roost herself in Kim's life for a few more weeks before attempting to travel back to Central America, where we think she made it but we can't be sure.

??
"I missed my flight and I'm stuck in Atlanta," her last phone message said. "I might make out tomorrow."

??
I suppose if anything serious is amiss we'll hear about it, like if Cheryl really is missing, or if she finally killed her husband like she should, and most likely we'll hear about it from Cheryl herself afterward, though Kim always complains that Cheryl never offers any details in her e-mail updates ("I'm leaving Wayne, see you Tuesday!"). But I consider these detail-free missives a definite plus. We don't need to know why Cheryl left her husband, just that it was high time she did. Same for when she went back to him six months later.

??
Kim, though, needs more details. She has always been that way ... wanting to know what was on the menu before we decided on a restaurant, what the terms were on the lease before we signed the rental agreement, what was in the syringe before the Guatemalan doctor injected us with it. She is so damn picky. I remember when we took our last family trip to Vegas that my mother had finagled through some time-share Ponzi schemers or something. All we kids had to do to qualify for free hotel rooms – not to mention cocktails – was sit through a three-hour sales presentation in the lobby. Kim was only 15, but still she questioned the equity of trading three hours of our time to be assaulted by high-pressure salesmen in exchange for a free hotel room when hotel rooms were going for just $25 that weekend anyway. "Not to mention that cocktails in Vegas are already free," she pointed out.

??
But Cheryl and I were too busy trying to suck down as many tequila sunrises as we could before we had to admit we were underage, at which point my brother became the main morsel of rotting meat for the vultures to peck. To this day he complains that that free hotel room cost him thousands of dollars in useless dues until the profiteering time-share company finally collapsed and couldn't afford to pay its attorneys to extort money from its members anymore.

??
But at least that tale lives on as part of our family history. My brother just retold it this past Thanksgiving, and we all laughed so hard I thought I was going to cough up all the crayons I ate in kindergarten. "It's worth it just to have the memory," he said.

??
"No, you're missing it," Kim insisted. "It's cheaper to just pay." And she's right. Once you factor in the time it takes to finagle, the stress of worrying it won't work out and the credit-card charges you rack up once it inevitably doesn't, it's probably always cheaper to just pay. Cheryl, for one, is forever missing that part. She would likely be more mindful of missing it, I think, if she weren't so busy hopping the globe, having the wind whip through her hair and driving down the highway in a surprise convertible Mustang while waving at truckers from the front seat.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(5171) "Rumor has it my sister Cheryl made it back to Nicaragua. We don't know for absolute certain, but my other sister Kim reports that Cheryl's bank account shows there was a withdrawal last week from an ATM in Granada, and we figure it must have been made by our sister, since she is the only one who knows the PIN, and she wouldn't give it out even if someone threatened to chop off her arms. We know this because that exact threat was made by the last person who tried to rob Cheryl. It was 18 years ago, and that man is still icing down his balls to this day.

??
"Cher first paid a $2 fee to inquire about her balance," Kim observed, "then she spent another $2 to make the withdrawal." We found that funny because it was so in keeping with the fact that, no matter what her efforts are to keep from wasting money, Cheryl never fails to waste money. Take last month. It would have cost her $895 for a full-fare ticket to Alaska last month, but instead she paid $250 to fly standby. In the end, after reroute fees, hotel rooms for those nights stranded in strange cities on the way to her destination, two rental cars and one train ticket, she ended up spending close to $1,200 to get there and back. But that last leg of her trip, when she had to rent a car to get from Cincinnati to her final destination of Kim's house in Dayton, the rental-car clerk, out of the goodness of his heart, upgraded Cheryl to a convertible Mustang at the last minute for no additional fee.

??
__"Yeeeeehaaaawww!"__ Cheryl hooted into her cell phone as she hurled down the freeway with the wind tossing her hot-pink-streaked hair into a tiny tornado above her head. "This car normally costs $150 a day! This makes it all worth it."

??
"You're missing it," Kim said, and tried to explain further about how it would have been cheaper if Cheryl had just paid the full ticket price. But by then Cheryl had accidentally tossed her cell phone onto the back floorboard while waving to a trucker. She arrived in Dayton an hour later, ready to roost herself in Kim's life for a few more weeks before attempting to travel back to Central America, where we think she made it but we can't be sure.

??
"I missed my flight and I'm stuck in Atlanta," her last phone message said. "I might make out tomorrow."

??
I suppose if anything serious is amiss we'll hear about it, like if Cheryl really is missing, or if she finally killed her husband like she should, and most likely we'll hear about it from Cheryl herself afterward, though Kim always complains that Cheryl never offers any details in her e-mail updates ("I'm leaving Wayne, see you Tuesday!"). But I consider these detail-free missives a definite plus. We don't need to know why Cheryl left her husband, just that it was high time she did. Same for when she went back to him six months later.

??
Kim, though, needs more details. She has always been that way ... wanting to know what was on the menu before we decided on a restaurant, what the terms were on the lease before we signed the rental agreement, what was in the syringe before the Guatemalan doctor injected us with it. She is so damn picky. I remember when we took our last family trip to Vegas that my mother had finagled through some time-share Ponzi schemers or something. All we kids had to do to qualify for free hotel rooms – not to mention cocktails – was sit through a three-hour sales presentation in the lobby. Kim was only 15, but still she questioned the equity of trading three hours of our time to be assaulted by high-pressure salesmen in exchange for a free hotel room when hotel rooms were going for just $25 that weekend anyway. "Not to mention that cocktails in Vegas are already free," she pointed out.

??
But Cheryl and I were too busy trying to suck down as many tequila sunrises as we could before we had to admit we were underage, at which point my brother became the main morsel of rotting meat for the vultures to peck. To this day he complains that that free hotel room cost him thousands of dollars in useless dues until the profiteering time-share company finally collapsed and couldn't afford to pay its attorneys to extort money from its members anymore.

??
But at least that tale lives on as part of our family history. My brother just retold it this past Thanksgiving, and we all laughed so hard I thought I was going to cough up all the crayons I ate in kindergarten. "It's worth it just to have the memory," he said.

??
"No, you're missing it," Kim insisted. "It's cheaper to ''just pay''." And she's right. Once you factor in the time it takes to finagle, the stress of worrying it won't work out and the credit-card charges you rack up once it inevitably doesn't, it's probably always cheaper to just pay. Cheryl, for one, is forever missing that part. She would likely be more mindful of missing it, I think, if she weren't so busy hopping the globe, having the wind whip through her hair and driving down the highway in a surprise convertible Mustang while waving at truckers from the front seat.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5351) "    Pay up and miss the ride   2007-08-01T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - My missing sister   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-08-01T04:04:00+00:00  Rumor has it my sister Cheryl made it back to Nicaragua. We don't know for absolute certain, but my other sister Kim reports that Cheryl's bank account shows there was a withdrawal last week from an ATM in Granada, and we figure it must have been made by our sister, since she is the only one who knows the PIN, and she wouldn't give it out even if someone threatened to chop off her arms. We know this because that exact threat was made by the last person who tried to rob Cheryl. It was 18 years ago, and that man is still icing down his balls to this day.

??
"Cher first paid a $2 fee to inquire about her balance," Kim observed, "then she spent another $2 to make the withdrawal." We found that funny because it was so in keeping with the fact that, no matter what her efforts are to keep from wasting money, Cheryl never fails to waste money. Take last month. It would have cost her $895 for a full-fare ticket to Alaska last month, but instead she paid $250 to fly standby. In the end, after reroute fees, hotel rooms for those nights stranded in strange cities on the way to her destination, two rental cars and one train ticket, she ended up spending close to $1,200 to get there and back. But that last leg of her trip, when she had to rent a car to get from Cincinnati to her final destination of Kim's house in Dayton, the rental-car clerk, out of the goodness of his heart, upgraded Cheryl to a convertible Mustang at the last minute for no additional fee.

??
"Yeeeeehaaaawww!" Cheryl hooted into her cell phone as she hurled down the freeway with the wind tossing her hot-pink-streaked hair into a tiny tornado above her head. "This car normally costs $150 a day! This makes it all worth it."

??
"You're missing it," Kim said, and tried to explain further about how it would have been cheaper if Cheryl had just paid the full ticket price. But by then Cheryl had accidentally tossed her cell phone onto the back floorboard while waving to a trucker. She arrived in Dayton an hour later, ready to roost herself in Kim's life for a few more weeks before attempting to travel back to Central America, where we think she made it but we can't be sure.

??
"I missed my flight and I'm stuck in Atlanta," her last phone message said. "I might make out tomorrow."

??
I suppose if anything serious is amiss we'll hear about it, like if Cheryl really is missing, or if she finally killed her husband like she should, and most likely we'll hear about it from Cheryl herself afterward, though Kim always complains that Cheryl never offers any details in her e-mail updates ("I'm leaving Wayne, see you Tuesday!"). But I consider these detail-free missives a definite plus. We don't need to know why Cheryl left her husband, just that it was high time she did. Same for when she went back to him six months later.

??
Kim, though, needs more details. She has always been that way ... wanting to know what was on the menu before we decided on a restaurant, what the terms were on the lease before we signed the rental agreement, what was in the syringe before the Guatemalan doctor injected us with it. She is so damn picky. I remember when we took our last family trip to Vegas that my mother had finagled through some time-share Ponzi schemers or something. All we kids had to do to qualify for free hotel rooms – not to mention cocktails – was sit through a three-hour sales presentation in the lobby. Kim was only 15, but still she questioned the equity of trading three hours of our time to be assaulted by high-pressure salesmen in exchange for a free hotel room when hotel rooms were going for just $25 that weekend anyway. "Not to mention that cocktails in Vegas are already free," she pointed out.

??
But Cheryl and I were too busy trying to suck down as many tequila sunrises as we could before we had to admit we were underage, at which point my brother became the main morsel of rotting meat for the vultures to peck. To this day he complains that that free hotel room cost him thousands of dollars in useless dues until the profiteering time-share company finally collapsed and couldn't afford to pay its attorneys to extort money from its members anymore.

??
But at least that tale lives on as part of our family history. My brother just retold it this past Thanksgiving, and we all laughed so hard I thought I was going to cough up all the crayons I ate in kindergarten. "It's worth it just to have the memory," he said.

??
"No, you're missing it," Kim insisted. "It's cheaper to just pay." And she's right. Once you factor in the time it takes to finagle, the stress of worrying it won't work out and the credit-card charges you rack up once it inevitably doesn't, it's probably always cheaper to just pay. Cheryl, for one, is forever missing that part. She would likely be more mindful of missing it, I think, if she weren't so busy hopping the globe, having the wind whip through her hair and driving down the highway in a surprise convertible Mustang while waving at truckers from the front seat.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com.             13025160 1268741                          Moodswing - My missing sister "
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Moodswing

Wednesday August 1, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Pay up and miss the ride | more...

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  string(48) "Bad portraits of Dick Cheney are hard to come by"
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  string(5096) "Grant is searching eBay for bad portraits of Dick Cheney so he can paint "Jesus Loves Dick" across the tops and sell them at his next Sister Louisa art show. His one-and-only "Jesus Loves Dick" painting was among the first to sell at his last show, and he's had tons of requests since, but alas, bad portraits of our vice president turn out to be hard to come by. He'd lucked across the first one at a yard sale, and thought the ease with which it was found would avail itself on a regular basis. But he was wrong.

??
"Christ Lord Jesus and the Virgin Mary Poppins," he blusters. "If only I'd known that my last crappy portrait of Dick Cheney would be my actual last, I never would have sold it for just $66."

??
In his search he's come across a number of decent portraits of Dick Cheney, which are rare in themselves, and a lot of large framed photographs – which, let's face it, are a complete curiosity – but none of them is bad enough for him to work with.

??
"It has to be crappy, crappy, crappy!" he complains. "Is that asking too much?"

??
But Grant's kind of crappy is asking a lot, if you ask me. First, he cannot just paint them himself. No. Never. Sister Louisa works with found objects, so she must find these portraits in their finished state, and they can't have been painted well by someone with talent. They have to have been painted poorly by someone who thinks he or she has talent. There is a difference, and it's very distinct and very important. It is, in essence, the signature of Grant's art; when it comes to the portraits that are Sister Louisa-worthy, that are to be the basis upon which Sister Louisa augments her sayings and wisdoms, they not only have to be bad jobs, but they have to bad jobs done by people who think they're making masterpieces.

??
When Grant started out, he wasn't that picky about the crappiness of the pieces that would become the basis for his art. He stuck to paint-by-numbers of religious scenes that he'd found in thrift-store rummage bins, such as the one where Jesus is riding a donkey along a cobblestone path as worshipers grovel nearby. Sister Louisa augmented that with colorfully painted words coming from the donkey's mouth: "Who is the Jesus and why is he on my back?"

??
But then came the bad portraits. They spoke to him – or better, they spoke to Sister Louisa. He only picked the ones that looked as if they'd been painted as a majestic gesture by another member of the subject's family, perhaps by an aunt or mother-in-law who – puffed with the certainty of their own talent – envisioned the piece hanging prominently in the subject's home for generations to come. It would be badly done, yes, but badly done with love.

??
One of my favorites is of a '50s-era matron, her brown hairdo clinging to her temples like small balls of moss. With the pearls, the yellow-ribboned dress, the kinda heart-shaped lips, the depthless eyes, the portrait almost passes muster as a real art piece, but truthfully the fact that it comes so close to being a job well done just adds to its awfulness. Across the top, Sister Louisa has written in big, bold, yellow letters, "God Loves a Crack Whore."

??
But the Dick Cheney thing didn't start until recently, and it didn't even start with a Dick Cheney portrait. It started, I swear, with a paint-by-numbers picture of a kitten. That's right. Grant happened upon a horrible painting of a huge kitten that had probably been buried under garbage and pissed on by actual cats before he plucked it from the floor of the Salvation Army. After he brought it home to his studio and gave it a hazmat hose-down, Sister Louisa captioned it with "Jesus Loves Pussy" in big blue-and-red letters, and immediately it became one of his website's best sellers. That's what gave him the idea when he saw the Dick Cheney portrait at the yard sale.

??
"Well if Jesus loves pussy he's gotta love Dick, too," he said, and plucked it up. It sold the second he hung it on the wall at his last art show, and he laments he didn't have a stock of replacements for the show he now has hanging at Stone Soup in Grant Park.

??
The problem, he laments, is that bad Dick Cheney pictures are a lot harder to come by than bad kitten ones, and I agree with him, because I have been on the lookout for Grant myself, which is how I personally found my own thrift-store kitten picture and demanded that Grant get Sister Louisa to do it up for me. It's too bad the bad Dick pictures aren't so abundant.

??
"Maybe you can do Dick Van Dyke instead," I offered him.

??
"Bitch, don't tell me to compromise my art," he said, thwacking my head with his meaty hand.

??
"You stupid puckered poo hole!" I hollered. "You made me promise that if you ever started acting like a real artist I'm supposed to remind you that you are the anti-artist!"

??
"I gotta go," he said, rising to leave. Before leaving, he turned to me and – puffed with the certainty of his own talent – he said, "I gotta go find Jesus some Dick."

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(5154) "Grant is searching eBay for bad portraits of Dick Cheney so he can paint "Jesus Loves Dick" across the tops and sell them at his next Sister Louisa art show. His one-and-only "Jesus Loves Dick" painting was among the first to sell at his last show, and he's had tons of requests since, but alas, bad portraits of our vice president turn out to be hard to come by. He'd lucked across the first one at a yard sale, and thought the ease with which it was found would avail itself on a regular basis. But he was wrong.

??
"Christ Lord Jesus and the Virgin Mary Poppins," he blusters. "If only I'd known that my last crappy portrait of Dick Cheney would be my actual ''last'', I never would have sold it for just $66."

??
In his search he's come across a number of decent portraits of Dick Cheney, which are rare in themselves, and a lot of large framed photographs – which, let's face it, are a complete curiosity – but none of them is bad enough for him to work with.

??
"It has to be crappy, crappy, crappy!" he complains. "Is that asking too much?"

??
But Grant's kind of crappy is asking a lot, if you ask me. First, he cannot just paint them himself. No. Never. Sister Louisa works with found objects, so she must find these portraits in their finished state, and they can't have been painted well by someone with talent. They have to have been painted ''poorly'' by someone who ''thinks'' he or she has talent. There is a difference, and it's very distinct and very important. It is, in essence, the signature of Grant's art; when it comes to the portraits that are Sister Louisa-worthy, that are to be the basis upon which Sister Louisa augments her sayings and wisdoms, they not only have to be bad jobs, but they have to bad jobs done by people who think they're making masterpieces.

??
__When Grant started__ out, he wasn't that picky about the crappiness of the pieces that would become the basis for his art. He stuck to paint-by-numbers of religious scenes that he'd found in thrift-store rummage bins, such as the one where Jesus is riding a donkey along a cobblestone path as worshipers grovel nearby. Sister Louisa augmented that with colorfully painted words coming from the donkey's mouth: "Who is the Jesus and why is he on my back?"

??
But then came the bad portraits. They spoke to him – or better, they spoke to Sister Louisa. He only picked the ones that looked as if they'd been painted as a majestic gesture by another member of the subject's family, perhaps by an aunt or mother-in-law who – puffed with the certainty of their own talent – envisioned the piece hanging prominently in the subject's home for generations to come. It would be badly done, yes, but badly done with love.

??
One of my favorites is of a '50s-era matron, her brown hairdo clinging to her temples like small balls of moss. With the pearls, the yellow-ribboned dress, the kinda heart-shaped lips, the depthless eyes, the portrait almost passes muster as a real art piece, but truthfully the fact that it comes so close to being a job well done just adds to its awfulness. Across the top, Sister Louisa has written in big, bold, yellow letters, "God Loves a Crack Whore."

??
But the Dick Cheney thing didn't start until recently, and it didn't even start with a Dick Cheney portrait. It started, I swear, with a paint-by-numbers picture of a kitten. That's right. Grant happened upon a horrible painting of a huge kitten that had probably been buried under garbage and pissed on by actual cats before he plucked it from the floor of the Salvation Army. After he brought it home to his studio and gave it a hazmat hose-down, Sister Louisa captioned it with "Jesus Loves Pussy" in big blue-and-red letters, and immediately it became one of his website's best sellers. That's what gave him the idea when he saw the Dick Cheney portrait at the yard sale.

??
"Well if Jesus loves pussy he's gotta love Dick, too," he said, and plucked it up. It sold the second he hung it on the wall at his last art show, and he laments he didn't have a stock of replacements for the show he now has hanging at Stone Soup in Grant Park.

??
The problem, he laments, is that bad Dick Cheney pictures are a lot harder to come by than bad kitten ones, and I agree with him, because I have been on the lookout for Grant myself, which is how I personally found my own thrift-store kitten picture and demanded that Grant get Sister Louisa to do it up for me. It's too bad the bad Dick pictures aren't so abundant.

??
"Maybe you can do Dick Van Dyke instead," I offered him.

??
"Bitch, don't tell me to compromise my art," he said, thwacking my head with his meaty hand.

??
"You stupid puckered poo hole!" I hollered. "You made me promise that if you ever started acting like a real artist I'm supposed to remind you that you are the ''anti''-artist!"

??
"I gotta go," he said, rising to leave. Before leaving, he turned to me and – puffed with the certainty of his own talent – he said, "I gotta go find Jesus some Dick."

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5342) "    Bad portraits of Dick Cheney are hard to come by   2007-07-25T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - The anti-artist   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-07-25T04:04:00+00:00  Grant is searching eBay for bad portraits of Dick Cheney so he can paint "Jesus Loves Dick" across the tops and sell them at his next Sister Louisa art show. His one-and-only "Jesus Loves Dick" painting was among the first to sell at his last show, and he's had tons of requests since, but alas, bad portraits of our vice president turn out to be hard to come by. He'd lucked across the first one at a yard sale, and thought the ease with which it was found would avail itself on a regular basis. But he was wrong.

??
"Christ Lord Jesus and the Virgin Mary Poppins," he blusters. "If only I'd known that my last crappy portrait of Dick Cheney would be my actual last, I never would have sold it for just $66."

??
In his search he's come across a number of decent portraits of Dick Cheney, which are rare in themselves, and a lot of large framed photographs – which, let's face it, are a complete curiosity – but none of them is bad enough for him to work with.

??
"It has to be crappy, crappy, crappy!" he complains. "Is that asking too much?"

??
But Grant's kind of crappy is asking a lot, if you ask me. First, he cannot just paint them himself. No. Never. Sister Louisa works with found objects, so she must find these portraits in their finished state, and they can't have been painted well by someone with talent. They have to have been painted poorly by someone who thinks he or she has talent. There is a difference, and it's very distinct and very important. It is, in essence, the signature of Grant's art; when it comes to the portraits that are Sister Louisa-worthy, that are to be the basis upon which Sister Louisa augments her sayings and wisdoms, they not only have to be bad jobs, but they have to bad jobs done by people who think they're making masterpieces.

??
When Grant started out, he wasn't that picky about the crappiness of the pieces that would become the basis for his art. He stuck to paint-by-numbers of religious scenes that he'd found in thrift-store rummage bins, such as the one where Jesus is riding a donkey along a cobblestone path as worshipers grovel nearby. Sister Louisa augmented that with colorfully painted words coming from the donkey's mouth: "Who is the Jesus and why is he on my back?"

??
But then came the bad portraits. They spoke to him – or better, they spoke to Sister Louisa. He only picked the ones that looked as if they'd been painted as a majestic gesture by another member of the subject's family, perhaps by an aunt or mother-in-law who – puffed with the certainty of their own talent – envisioned the piece hanging prominently in the subject's home for generations to come. It would be badly done, yes, but badly done with love.

??
One of my favorites is of a '50s-era matron, her brown hairdo clinging to her temples like small balls of moss. With the pearls, the yellow-ribboned dress, the kinda heart-shaped lips, the depthless eyes, the portrait almost passes muster as a real art piece, but truthfully the fact that it comes so close to being a job well done just adds to its awfulness. Across the top, Sister Louisa has written in big, bold, yellow letters, "God Loves a Crack Whore."

??
But the Dick Cheney thing didn't start until recently, and it didn't even start with a Dick Cheney portrait. It started, I swear, with a paint-by-numbers picture of a kitten. That's right. Grant happened upon a horrible painting of a huge kitten that had probably been buried under garbage and pissed on by actual cats before he plucked it from the floor of the Salvation Army. After he brought it home to his studio and gave it a hazmat hose-down, Sister Louisa captioned it with "Jesus Loves Pussy" in big blue-and-red letters, and immediately it became one of his website's best sellers. That's what gave him the idea when he saw the Dick Cheney portrait at the yard sale.

??
"Well if Jesus loves pussy he's gotta love Dick, too," he said, and plucked it up. It sold the second he hung it on the wall at his last art show, and he laments he didn't have a stock of replacements for the show he now has hanging at Stone Soup in Grant Park.

??
The problem, he laments, is that bad Dick Cheney pictures are a lot harder to come by than bad kitten ones, and I agree with him, because I have been on the lookout for Grant myself, which is how I personally found my own thrift-store kitten picture and demanded that Grant get Sister Louisa to do it up for me. It's too bad the bad Dick pictures aren't so abundant.

??
"Maybe you can do Dick Van Dyke instead," I offered him.

??
"Bitch, don't tell me to compromise my art," he said, thwacking my head with his meaty hand.

??
"You stupid puckered poo hole!" I hollered. "You made me promise that if you ever started acting like a real artist I'm supposed to remind you that you are the anti-artist!"

??
"I gotta go," he said, rising to leave. Before leaving, he turned to me and – puffed with the certainty of his own talent – he said, "I gotta go find Jesus some Dick."

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com.             13025112 1268644                          Moodswing - The anti-artist "
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Moodswing

Wednesday July 25, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Bad portraits of Dick Cheney are hard to come by | more...
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  string(34) "I damn-ass better see Cheryl again"
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  string(4938) "Sometimes I feel bad about abandoning my sister at the Vancouver airport, but mostly I just think Vancouver is a hell of a great place to be abandoned in and she can damn-well deal with it. I'd even warned her. "If there's a single seat on that plane home and it's a choice between you and me, I am grabbing it. I'll be waving to you from the window as we take off, I swear I will."

??
I didn't have time to dick around on the way home like I did on the way there, a journey that took us three days, two hotel rooms and a rental car. It was supposed to have been one simple five-hour flight, but we were flying standby on my friend's airline-employee buddy passes, which is a surefire way to fuck up your plans if you're fool enough to make any. If you've ever flown on a buddy pass then I don't have to tell you your best bet is to simply appear at the airport with a bull's-eye painted on the back of your pants and tell the ticket agent to direct you to the tarmac where, if you're extremely lucky, you might get a few planes to ass-ram you within a day's driving distance of your destination. I had warned my sister about this, but she was undeterred.

??
"I've got time," she said wistfully. She was always being wistful about things I felt were fairly serious, like how she'd up and moved to Central America one day years ago. But as long as she'd been warned that she could get stuck in any number of cities from here to the Pacific, I felt I'd done my job as the fun-sucking sister, and we could commence our meandering adventure. No need to fret over Cheryl, I thought. She knows.

??
But when it came time to fly home, I was under pressure to get back because I am an actual mother and my sprogette was returning from vacation in New Jersey with her dad, who has a huge family up there. I sometimes feel self-conscious about that, considering how most of my own extended family is either dead or doesn't know I exist, which I guess is how my mother wanted it when she decided to cut off communication with them when I was little. Sometimes I wish I had uncles and stuff, but those moments are pretty fleeting and almost entirely isolated to when my daughter returns from vacation in New Jersey spouting stuff like, "My whole family is Italian!" I rarely have the heart to remind her that I am her mother, which makes me part of her family, and I am not Italian.

??
But admittedly, when you look at Mae – with her caramel skin and hair and huge brown eyes – you would never know her whole family is not Italian. In contrast, my own eyes are green and I've been saturating my hair with bleach since I was 19, when the blond I was born with began to darken. When Mae and I are together, no one ever remarks at our resemblance. Even my sister Cheryl says Mae looks like her father spit her out of his own mouth rather than having been birthed from the loins of our like, which makes me worry sometimes that after these trips away I'll have to remind Mae I'm her mother when we're together again. That worry dissolves, though, the instant she runs into my arms. She knows.

??
Cheryl's own looks favor our father. She has his dimples and mischievous eyes, back before his became rheumy with booze and then dulled with heart disease. I patted her on the shoulder before abandoning her in Vancouver to get back to my girl. As I predicted, the plane had exactly one open seat on it, and true to my word, I grabbed it. It was the exact last seat in the cabin, which meant I'd have to spend the flight averting my gaze from all the eye-level crotches standing in line for the lavatory, but I was happy to be aboard.

??
Once I got situated, I looked up to see that the gate agent had let my sister on board as well, and I got elated there for a while, until I realized she'd talked them into doing a walk-through in case they'd overlooked an empty spot. When they realized they hadn't, they turned her around and escorted her off the plane. As I saw my sister go, in her stained raincoat and hapless rucksack, I suddenly got all overcome. "Christ, am I crying?" I thought. "I can't believe this." Lord Jesus God, I realized, I damn-ass better see Cheryl again, because if the last sight I ever have of my sister is of her being left behind, I seriously don't think I could bear it.

??
After the plane took off, the flight attendant came back to laugh at my sister's antics, which didn't surprise me. Cheryl is one of those super maniacally contagiously smiley kinda people, and there were probably a hundred passengers on that plane at that moment that this flight attendant would have happily left on the jetway instead. She recounted how she extended her sincere regrets to my sister as we were leaving, and offered to deliver me a message if she wanted. At that Cheryl just grinned as the door was closing and said, "She knows."

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4984) "Sometimes I feel bad about abandoning my sister at the Vancouver airport, but mostly I just think Vancouver is a hell of a great place to be abandoned in and she can damn-well deal with it. I'd even warned her. "If there's a single seat on that plane home and it's a choice between you and me, I am grabbing it. I'll be waving to you from the window as we take off, I swear I will."

??
I didn't have time to dick around on the way home like I did on the way there, a journey that took us three days, two hotel rooms and a rental car. It was supposed to have been one simple five-hour flight, but we were flying standby on my friend's airline-employee buddy passes, which is a surefire way to fuck up your plans if you're fool enough to make any. If you've ever flown on a buddy pass then I don't have to tell you your best bet is to simply appear at the airport with a bull's-eye painted on the back of your pants and tell the ticket agent to direct you to the tarmac where, if you're extremely lucky, you might get a few planes to ass-ram you within a day's driving distance of your destination. I had warned my sister about this, but she was undeterred.

??
"I've got time," she said wistfully. She was always being wistful about things I felt were fairly serious, like how she'd up and moved to Central America one day years ago. But as long as she'd been warned that she could get stuck in any number of cities from here to the Pacific, I felt I'd done my job as the fun-sucking sister, and we could commence our meandering adventure. No need to fret over Cheryl, I thought. She knows.

??
__But when it came__ time to fly home, I was under pressure to get back because I am an actual mother and my sprogette was returning from vacation in New Jersey with her dad, who has a huge family up there. I sometimes feel self-conscious about that, considering how most of my own extended family is either dead or doesn't know I exist, which I guess is how my mother wanted it when she decided to cut off communication with them when I was little. Sometimes I wish I had uncles and stuff, but those moments are pretty fleeting and almost entirely isolated to when my daughter returns from vacation in New Jersey spouting stuff like, "My whole family is Italian!" I rarely have the heart to remind her that I am her mother, which makes me part of her family, and I am not Italian.

??
But admittedly, when you look at Mae – with her caramel skin and hair and huge brown eyes – you would never know her whole family is not Italian. In contrast, my own eyes are green and I've been saturating my hair with bleach since I was 19, when the blond I was born with began to darken. When Mae and I are together, no one ever remarks at our resemblance. Even my sister Cheryl says Mae looks like her father spit her out of his own mouth rather than having been birthed from the loins of our like, which makes me worry sometimes that after these trips away I'll have to remind Mae I'm her mother when we're together again. That worry dissolves, though, the instant she runs into my arms. She knows.

??
Cheryl's own looks favor our father. She has his dimples and mischievous eyes, back before his became rheumy with booze and then dulled with heart disease. I patted her on the shoulder before abandoning her in Vancouver to get back to my girl. As I predicted, the plane had exactly one open seat on it, and true to my word, I grabbed it. It was the exact last seat in the cabin, which meant I'd have to spend the flight averting my gaze from all the eye-level crotches standing in line for the lavatory, but I was happy to be aboard.

??
Once I got situated, I looked up to see that the gate agent had let my sister on board as well, and I got elated there for a while, until I realized she'd talked them into doing a walk-through in case they'd overlooked an empty spot. When they realized they hadn't, they turned her around and escorted her off the plane. As I saw my sister go, in her stained raincoat and hapless rucksack, I suddenly got all overcome. "Christ, am I ''crying?''" I thought. "I can't believe this." Lord Jesus God, I realized, I damn-ass better see Cheryl again, because if the last sight I ever have of my sister is of her being left behind, I seriously don't think I could bear it.

??
After the plane took off, the flight attendant came back to laugh at my sister's antics, which didn't surprise me. Cheryl is one of those super maniacally contagiously smiley kinda people, and there were probably a hundred passengers on that plane at that moment that this flight attendant would have happily left on the jetway instead. She recounted how she extended her sincere regrets to my sister as we were leaving, and offered to deliver me a message if she wanted. At that Cheryl just grinned as the door was closing and said, "She knows."

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5158) "    I damn-ass better see Cheryl again   2007-07-18T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - She knows   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-07-18T04:04:00+00:00  Sometimes I feel bad about abandoning my sister at the Vancouver airport, but mostly I just think Vancouver is a hell of a great place to be abandoned in and she can damn-well deal with it. I'd even warned her. "If there's a single seat on that plane home and it's a choice between you and me, I am grabbing it. I'll be waving to you from the window as we take off, I swear I will."

??
I didn't have time to dick around on the way home like I did on the way there, a journey that took us three days, two hotel rooms and a rental car. It was supposed to have been one simple five-hour flight, but we were flying standby on my friend's airline-employee buddy passes, which is a surefire way to fuck up your plans if you're fool enough to make any. If you've ever flown on a buddy pass then I don't have to tell you your best bet is to simply appear at the airport with a bull's-eye painted on the back of your pants and tell the ticket agent to direct you to the tarmac where, if you're extremely lucky, you might get a few planes to ass-ram you within a day's driving distance of your destination. I had warned my sister about this, but she was undeterred.

??
"I've got time," she said wistfully. She was always being wistful about things I felt were fairly serious, like how she'd up and moved to Central America one day years ago. But as long as she'd been warned that she could get stuck in any number of cities from here to the Pacific, I felt I'd done my job as the fun-sucking sister, and we could commence our meandering adventure. No need to fret over Cheryl, I thought. She knows.

??
But when it came time to fly home, I was under pressure to get back because I am an actual mother and my sprogette was returning from vacation in New Jersey with her dad, who has a huge family up there. I sometimes feel self-conscious about that, considering how most of my own extended family is either dead or doesn't know I exist, which I guess is how my mother wanted it when she decided to cut off communication with them when I was little. Sometimes I wish I had uncles and stuff, but those moments are pretty fleeting and almost entirely isolated to when my daughter returns from vacation in New Jersey spouting stuff like, "My whole family is Italian!" I rarely have the heart to remind her that I am her mother, which makes me part of her family, and I am not Italian.

??
But admittedly, when you look at Mae – with her caramel skin and hair and huge brown eyes – you would never know her whole family is not Italian. In contrast, my own eyes are green and I've been saturating my hair with bleach since I was 19, when the blond I was born with began to darken. When Mae and I are together, no one ever remarks at our resemblance. Even my sister Cheryl says Mae looks like her father spit her out of his own mouth rather than having been birthed from the loins of our like, which makes me worry sometimes that after these trips away I'll have to remind Mae I'm her mother when we're together again. That worry dissolves, though, the instant she runs into my arms. She knows.

??
Cheryl's own looks favor our father. She has his dimples and mischievous eyes, back before his became rheumy with booze and then dulled with heart disease. I patted her on the shoulder before abandoning her in Vancouver to get back to my girl. As I predicted, the plane had exactly one open seat on it, and true to my word, I grabbed it. It was the exact last seat in the cabin, which meant I'd have to spend the flight averting my gaze from all the eye-level crotches standing in line for the lavatory, but I was happy to be aboard.

??
Once I got situated, I looked up to see that the gate agent had let my sister on board as well, and I got elated there for a while, until I realized she'd talked them into doing a walk-through in case they'd overlooked an empty spot. When they realized they hadn't, they turned her around and escorted her off the plane. As I saw my sister go, in her stained raincoat and hapless rucksack, I suddenly got all overcome. "Christ, am I crying?" I thought. "I can't believe this." Lord Jesus God, I realized, I damn-ass better see Cheryl again, because if the last sight I ever have of my sister is of her being left behind, I seriously don't think I could bear it.

??
After the plane took off, the flight attendant came back to laugh at my sister's antics, which didn't surprise me. Cheryl is one of those super maniacally contagiously smiley kinda people, and there were probably a hundred passengers on that plane at that moment that this flight attendant would have happily left on the jetway instead. She recounted how she extended her sincere regrets to my sister as we were leaving, and offered to deliver me a message if she wanted. At that Cheryl just grinned as the door was closing and said, "She knows."

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com.             13025026 1268479                          Moodswing - She knows "
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Moodswing

Wednesday July 18, 2007 12:04 am EDT
I damn-ass better see Cheryl again | more...
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  string(4918) "Lord Jesus God, Lary's missing.

??
Not in the official sense, but in the nobody-knows-where-he-is sense. "Where the fuck is Lary?" I screamed at Grant, because I had just realized that, because Lary is missing, I spent the last 10 minutes talking about my broken cell phone.

??
"Why'd you let me go on and on like that?" I cried. "Where's Lary?" Lary would never let me bloviate for 10 minutes about a phone, for God's sake. I couldn't get four sentences into it before he'd start reassembling his rifle or something, which is usually my clue to change the subject. "No, seriously, think about what I'm saying," I remember appealing to him over my Mama Cass theory and how she was no less cool than Jimi Hendrix just because she died chocking on a sandwich rather than her own vomit. "We're just talking degrees of digestion here, aren't we?" I whimpered as he ran me out the door waving an exposed electrical wire.

??
Lary has the sensibilities of a sea urchin, an essential ingredient to any group of friends, otherwise it all just goes to hell. For example, Grant loves women too much to threaten me with death, and Daniel just plain loves me too much to shut my ass up when I become boring, but Lary ... Lary is thoroughly unencumbered by any need to be polite. "Bitch," he'll interrupt, "be interesting or shut up."

??
But Lary's not around to reboot my brain. Usually I can last pretty long in his absence, but he's been gone for, like, ever. The last time I saw him was last month in New York, and before that in Los Angeles. He keeps saying he happened to be in those places while we were, but I'm starting to wonder if he lives here anymore at all.

??
"Where the fuck are you?" I finally e-mailed him, and that is saying something, because Lary never bothers with e-mail. He still has an old MindSpring account from way back when the Internet was nothing more than a morass of elbow valves populated by rats with notes tied to their backs. "You pussy-ass fuck-up, get the hell home right now. The place is falling the fuck apart without you. We don't know who we are. Grant and I have no criteria against which to compare ourselves. Without you here to pollinate the air with your insanity molecules, we're just bumping into each other like farty fools. Come home. Now. Fucking suckball."

??
Notice how I dragged Grant into this, because if it were just me in crisis Lary would take his sweet time responding. In reality, Grant is about as shaken up over Lary's absence as a brick of petrified shit. But me, I'm in serious danger. The last time Lary disappeared it was when he went to Germany to manage a rock band for half a year. When he came back I was married to a geologist and living on a cul-de-sac in Roswell. "Christ," I exclaimed when he finally called, "see what happens when you leave me alone?" He almost had to employ his experimental dead-body-mulching breakthrough to get me out of that one. But thankfully no corpses were in need of disposal that time. My hapless new husband was as happy to see me go as I was to touch turf on the concrete floor of the dilapidated warehouse Lary calls home.

??
Amazingly, Lary e-mailed me back yesterday. It turns out he's now living on a ship somewhere in the Caribbean, which is owned by his ex-girlfriend's sister's husband and must be equipped with some form of spacecraft satellite receptors, as now Lary keeps sending me pictures of his finger pointing out coordinates on a map. "This is where I am," his e-mail says, "no cars, no motorcycles, no bicycles, just a small private island with a big crescent beach. My pussy ass is staying put, so don't bother looking for me. As for criteria against which to compare yourselves, check out some of the early Japanese sci-fi radioactive mutants."

??
Oh, God, it's happening, it's starting. Lary has sailed off into the damn sunset and now he's gonna be one of those human barnacles you see on islands in the Caribbean living under lean-tos made out of bent beer cans and old umbrella handles. Oh my God! I knew it. We all wondered what the hell he was doing here in the city anyway, when he has that head full of wild blond straw for hair and skin as brown as a suitcase abandoned at a bus stop. He's got to be 500 years old, probably, not that any of us knows exactly how old he is, just that he always said he'd wait until he was 60 before he sucked his first cock.

??
"Is that it?" I implored. "Are you out there sucking cock across the Caribbean? There's plenty of that here; get your ass back here!"

??
But the answer that comes is forebodingly guileless for Lary – Lary, whose home here is an abandoned factory next to a mortuary. Lary, who roams his intown neighborhood at night waving a gun to scare away the slumming yuppies. "I will come home," Lary said, "when I have a good reason."

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4976) "Lord Jesus God, Lary's missing.

??
Not in the official sense, but in the nobody-knows-where-he-is sense. "Where the fuck is Lary?" I screamed at Grant, because I had just realized that, because Lary is missing, I spent the last 10 minutes talking about my broken cell phone.

??
"Why'd you let me go on and on like that?" I cried. "Where's Lary?" Lary would ''never'' let me bloviate for 10 minutes about a ''phone'', for God's sake. I couldn't get four sentences into it before he'd start reassembling his rifle or something, which is usually my clue to change the subject. "No, seriously, think about what I'm saying," I remember appealing to him over my Mama Cass theory and how she was no less cool than Jimi Hendrix just because she died chocking on a sandwich rather than her own vomit. "We're just talking degrees of digestion here, aren't we?" I whimpered as he ran me out the door waving an exposed electrical wire.

??
Lary has the sensibilities of a sea urchin, an essential ingredient to any group of friends, otherwise it all just goes to hell. For example, Grant loves women too much to threaten me with death, and Daniel just plain loves ''me'' too much to shut my ass up when I become boring, but Lary ... Lary is thoroughly unencumbered by any need to be polite. "Bitch," he'll interrupt, "be interesting or shut up."

??
But Lary's not around to reboot my brain. Usually I can last pretty long in his absence, but he's been gone for, like, ''ever''. The last time I saw him was last month in New York, and before that in Los Angeles. He keeps saying he happened to be in those places while we were, but I'm starting to wonder if he lives here anymore at all.

??
__"Where the fuck__ are you?" I finally e-mailed him, and that is saying something, because Lary never bothers with e-mail. He still has an old MindSpring account from way back when the Internet was nothing more than a morass of elbow valves populated by rats with notes tied to their backs. "You pussy-ass fuck-up, get the hell home right now. The place is falling the fuck apart without you. We don't know who we are. Grant and I have no criteria against which to compare ourselves. Without you here to pollinate the air with your insanity molecules, we're just bumping into each other like farty fools. Come home. Now. Fucking suckball."

??
Notice how I dragged Grant into this, because if it were just me in crisis Lary would take his sweet time responding. In reality, Grant is about as shaken up over Lary's absence as a brick of petrified shit. But me, I'm in serious danger. The last time Lary disappeared it was when he went to Germany to manage a rock band for half a year. When he came back I was married to a geologist and living on a cul-de-sac in Roswell. "Christ," I exclaimed when he finally called, "see what happens when you leave me alone?" He almost had to employ his experimental dead-body-mulching breakthrough to get me out of that one. But thankfully no corpses were in need of disposal that time. My hapless new husband was as happy to see me go as I was to touch turf on the concrete floor of the dilapidated warehouse Lary calls home.

??
Amazingly, Lary e-mailed me back yesterday. It turns out he's now living on a ship somewhere in the Caribbean, which is owned by his ex-girlfriend's sister's husband and must be equipped with some form of spacecraft satellite receptors, as now Lary keeps sending me pictures of his finger pointing out coordinates on a map. "This is where I am," his e-mail says, "no cars, no motorcycles, no bicycles, just a small private island with a big crescent beach. My pussy ass is staying put, so don't bother looking for me. As for criteria against which to compare yourselves, check out some of the early Japanese sci-fi radioactive mutants."

??
Oh, God, it's happening, it's starting. Lary has sailed off into the damn sunset and now he's gonna be one of those human barnacles you see on islands in the Caribbean living under lean-tos made out of bent beer cans and old umbrella handles. Oh my God! I knew it. We all wondered what the hell he was doing here in the city anyway, when he has that head full of wild blond straw for hair and skin as brown as a suitcase abandoned at a bus stop. He's got to be 500 years old, probably, not that any of us knows exactly how old he is, just that he always said he'd wait until he was 60 before he sucked his first cock.

??
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??
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??
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??
Not in the official sense, but in the nobody-knows-where-he-is sense. "Where the fuck is Lary?" I screamed at Grant, because I had just realized that, because Lary is missing, I spent the last 10 minutes talking about my broken cell phone.

??
"Why'd you let me go on and on like that?" I cried. "Where's Lary?" Lary would never let me bloviate for 10 minutes about a phone, for God's sake. I couldn't get four sentences into it before he'd start reassembling his rifle or something, which is usually my clue to change the subject. "No, seriously, think about what I'm saying," I remember appealing to him over my Mama Cass theory and how she was no less cool than Jimi Hendrix just because she died chocking on a sandwich rather than her own vomit. "We're just talking degrees of digestion here, aren't we?" I whimpered as he ran me out the door waving an exposed electrical wire.

??
Lary has the sensibilities of a sea urchin, an essential ingredient to any group of friends, otherwise it all just goes to hell. For example, Grant loves women too much to threaten me with death, and Daniel just plain loves me too much to shut my ass up when I become boring, but Lary ... Lary is thoroughly unencumbered by any need to be polite. "Bitch," he'll interrupt, "be interesting or shut up."

??
But Lary's not around to reboot my brain. Usually I can last pretty long in his absence, but he's been gone for, like, ever. The last time I saw him was last month in New York, and before that in Los Angeles. He keeps saying he happened to be in those places while we were, but I'm starting to wonder if he lives here anymore at all.

??
"Where the fuck are you?" I finally e-mailed him, and that is saying something, because Lary never bothers with e-mail. He still has an old MindSpring account from way back when the Internet was nothing more than a morass of elbow valves populated by rats with notes tied to their backs. "You pussy-ass fuck-up, get the hell home right now. The place is falling the fuck apart without you. We don't know who we are. Grant and I have no criteria against which to compare ourselves. Without you here to pollinate the air with your insanity molecules, we're just bumping into each other like farty fools. Come home. Now. Fucking suckball."

??
Notice how I dragged Grant into this, because if it were just me in crisis Lary would take his sweet time responding. In reality, Grant is about as shaken up over Lary's absence as a brick of petrified shit. But me, I'm in serious danger. The last time Lary disappeared it was when he went to Germany to manage a rock band for half a year. When he came back I was married to a geologist and living on a cul-de-sac in Roswell. "Christ," I exclaimed when he finally called, "see what happens when you leave me alone?" He almost had to employ his experimental dead-body-mulching breakthrough to get me out of that one. But thankfully no corpses were in need of disposal that time. My hapless new husband was as happy to see me go as I was to touch turf on the concrete floor of the dilapidated warehouse Lary calls home.

??
Amazingly, Lary e-mailed me back yesterday. It turns out he's now living on a ship somewhere in the Caribbean, which is owned by his ex-girlfriend's sister's husband and must be equipped with some form of spacecraft satellite receptors, as now Lary keeps sending me pictures of his finger pointing out coordinates on a map. "This is where I am," his e-mail says, "no cars, no motorcycles, no bicycles, just a small private island with a big crescent beach. My pussy ass is staying put, so don't bother looking for me. As for criteria against which to compare yourselves, check out some of the early Japanese sci-fi radioactive mutants."

??
Oh, God, it's happening, it's starting. Lary has sailed off into the damn sunset and now he's gonna be one of those human barnacles you see on islands in the Caribbean living under lean-tos made out of bent beer cans and old umbrella handles. Oh my God! I knew it. We all wondered what the hell he was doing here in the city anyway, when he has that head full of wild blond straw for hair and skin as brown as a suitcase abandoned at a bus stop. He's got to be 500 years old, probably, not that any of us knows exactly how old he is, just that he always said he'd wait until he was 60 before he sucked his first cock.

??
"Is that it?" I implored. "Are you out there sucking cock across the Caribbean? There's plenty of that here; get your ass back here!"

??
But the answer that comes is forebodingly guileless for Lary – Lary, whose home here is an abandoned factory next to a mortuary. Lary, who roams his intown neighborhood at night waving a gun to scare away the slumming yuppies. "I will come home," Lary said, "when I have a good reason."

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024966 1268365                          Moodswing - 'My pussy ass is staying put' "
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Moodswing

Wednesday July 11, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Sailing off to the damn sunset | more...
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??
Christ, why did I say that? The second the words left my mouth, all the guff got sucked out of me. It's rare for me to cop to being a columnist, even in my own column, as I like to think of it as an increasingly poorly kept secret. Until recently I even kept my job as a flight attendant, I put my apron on and passed out Cokes all the way to Europe every weekend. "Didn't I see you on Leno?" I'd hear sometimes. It was rare, but it happened. "Yep, that was me," I'd answer. "What'll ya have?" I'd sign some books, maybe pose for a few pictures, but it didn't take long for the shimmer to fade. "'Scuse me. 'Scuse me!'" they'd be hissing by the seven-hour point over the Atlantic. "I said I wanted two creams for my coffee!"

??
I've never before brandished my standing as a columnist to increase my standing in a situation and now that I have, it's good to know that doing so is ineffectual, because in life you wanna know what works and what doesn't. Grant, Daniel and I all have T-shirts I found in Park City with logos that blare, "Do You Have Any Idea Who I Am?" which we used to wear proudly, certain in our cesspool status on the scale of societal evolution. Grant had his on when he drove me to the airport just the other day. I'm afraid to put mine on in public these days. It would be like I bought my own cover.

??
"'Scuse me," I kept insisting to the guest-relations people at Holland America, "I'm astounded that you'd act like this is no big thing."

??
It didn't help that we looked like hell, my sister and I. We'd escaped our cabin after blindly snatching up clothes on the way out, and spent the rest of the night on wooden lounge chairs in the Crow's Nest. I was wearing nylon cargo shorts and a pajama top under a windbreaker. Cheryl had on a tie-dyed T-shirt, acid-washed jeans and a stained raincoat she picked up at a thrift store in Seattle on the way to Anchorage, Alaska, all accented by the neon-pink streaks in her hair. It was little departure from how she normally looked, but still. When we returned to our room we'd found it, and everything inside, in the process of fumigation. We didn't get our clothes back until the next morning, so if my sister decided to dress up by maybe borrowing some of my clothes, she wouldn't have been able to and that matters, doesn't it?

??
"Crawling," I reiterated, and if I'd had the Ziploc we'd used to collect a sample, I would have shaken it in their defiant faces, "all over us."

??
My issue was not really the bugs. I understand things happen. Cheryl and I have both, back in the day, backpacked through Europe with hardly more than a buck in our pockets and a cigarette butt to rest our heads, but still we had never encountered bedbugs before. Aren't they reserved for poverty? Stricken potato farmers of the early 1800s? Yet here these guest-relations people were treating us, it seemed, as though we'd brought this plague on the boat ourselves. So no, it wasn't the bugs, it was them and the way they had of making me feel no bigger than a bug. "There's nothing more we can do," they kept saying, as if they'd done anything.

??
I had yet to begin shrieking, and was hoping it wouldn't get to that point. I'd already told them I was an important person, which, let's face it, if you have to say it yourself, sucks all the validity out of it. So I didn't shriek and curse. I simply said, "If it's your job to make your passengers happy, then you're failing at it. I'll give you some time to think about this, and my suggestion is that you get back to me with a suggestion on how you can improve our experience on this ship."

??
Cheryl was back up in the Crow's Nest, not caring one way or the other how things turned out. She would prefer a cabin free of pests to the five-member "Pest Management" team inside saturating everything with chemicals, but I got the feeling she would have been cool either way. We were in Alaska, surrounded by the most achingly beautiful scenery we'd ever seen., yet I couldn't get my mind off these little bugs.

??
"I had Kim give them a call," Cheryl said when I met up with her. Kim is our little sister, the lawyer. A short time later, we were inundated with formal letters of apology and offers of recompense. So there you have it, evidently being a writer carries no weight at all when you're being abused by a cruise line, but at least being a writer with an attorney for a little sister qualifies as a big thing.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy, www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4930) "I now know that being a writer carries absolutely no weight when weight is what you're hoping to throw around while being abused by a cruise line. "I'm absolutely stupefied," I kept telling the guest-relations people onboard, "that you'd put us in a cabin infested with bedbugs and act like it's no big thing. I'm a writer, you know."

??
Christ, why did I say that? The second the words left my mouth, all the guff got sucked out of me. It's rare for me to cop to being a columnist, even in my own column, as I like to think of it as an increasingly poorly kept secret. Until recently I even kept my job as a flight attendant, I put my apron on and passed out Cokes all the way to Europe every weekend. "Didn't I see you on Leno?" I'd hear sometimes. It was rare, but it happened. "Yep, that was me," I'd answer. "What'll ya have?" I'd sign some books, maybe pose for a few pictures, but it didn't take long for the shimmer to fade. "'Scuse me. '''Scuse me!'''" they'd be hissing by the seven-hour point over the Atlantic. "I said I wanted ''two creams'' for my coffee!"

??
I've never before brandished my standing as a columnist to increase my standing in a situation and now that I have, it's good to know that doing so is ineffectual, because in life you wanna know what works and what doesn't. Grant, Daniel and I all have T-shirts I found in Park City with logos that blare, "Do You Have Any Idea Who I Am?" which we used to wear proudly, certain in our cesspool status on the scale of societal evolution. Grant had his on when he drove me to the airport just the other day. I'm afraid to put mine on in public these days. It would be like I bought my own cover.

??
"'Scuse me," I kept insisting to the guest-relations people at Holland America, "I'm astounded that you'd act like this is no big thing."

??
It didn't help that we looked like hell, my sister and I. We'd escaped our cabin after blindly snatching up clothes on the way out, and spent the rest of the night on wooden lounge chairs in the Crow's Nest. I was wearing nylon cargo shorts and a pajama top under a windbreaker. Cheryl had on a tie-dyed T-shirt, acid-washed jeans and a stained raincoat she picked up at a thrift store in Seattle on the way to Anchorage, Alaska, all accented by the neon-pink streaks in her hair. It was little departure from how she normally looked, but still. When we returned to our room we'd found it, and everything inside, in the process of fumigation. We didn't get our clothes back until the next morning, so if my sister decided to dress up by maybe borrowing some of my clothes, she wouldn't have been able to and that matters, doesn't it?

??
"''Crawling''," I reiterated, and if I'd had the Ziploc we'd used to collect a sample, I would have shaken it in their defiant faces, "''all over us.''"

??
__My issue__ was not really the bugs. I understand things happen. Cheryl and I have both, back in the day, backpacked through Europe with hardly more than a buck in our pockets and a cigarette butt to rest our heads, but still we had never encountered bedbugs before. Aren't they reserved for poverty? Stricken potato farmers of the early 1800s? Yet here these guest-relations people were treating us, it seemed, as though we'd brought this plague on the boat ourselves. So no, it wasn't the bugs, it was ''them'' and the way they had of making me feel no bigger than a bug. "There's nothing more we can do," they kept saying, as if they'd done anything.

??
I had yet to begin shrieking, and was hoping it wouldn't get to that point. I'd already told them I was an important person, which, let's face it, if you have to say it yourself, sucks all the validity out of it. So I didn't shriek and curse. I simply said, "If it's your job to make your passengers happy, then you're failing at it. I'll give you some time to think about this, and my suggestion is that you get back to me with a suggestion on how you can improve our experience on this ship."

??
Cheryl was back up in the Crow's Nest, not caring one way or the other how things turned out. She would prefer a cabin free of pests to the five-member "Pest Management" team inside saturating everything with chemicals, but I got the feeling she would have been cool either way. We were in Alaska, surrounded by the most achingly beautiful scenery we'd ever seen., yet I couldn't get my mind off these little bugs.

??
"I had Kim give them a call," Cheryl said when I met up with her. Kim is our little sister, the lawyer. A short time later, we were inundated with formal letters of apology and offers of recompense. So there you have it, evidently being a writer carries no weight at all when you're being abused by a cruise line, but at least being a writer with an attorney for a little sister qualifies as a big thing.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy, [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5089) "    Don't you have any idea who I am?   2007-07-04T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Big things   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-07-04T04:04:00+00:00  I now know that being a writer carries absolutely no weight when weight is what you're hoping to throw around while being abused by a cruise line. "I'm absolutely stupefied," I kept telling the guest-relations people onboard, "that you'd put us in a cabin infested with bedbugs and act like it's no big thing. I'm a writer, you know."

??
Christ, why did I say that? The second the words left my mouth, all the guff got sucked out of me. It's rare for me to cop to being a columnist, even in my own column, as I like to think of it as an increasingly poorly kept secret. Until recently I even kept my job as a flight attendant, I put my apron on and passed out Cokes all the way to Europe every weekend. "Didn't I see you on Leno?" I'd hear sometimes. It was rare, but it happened. "Yep, that was me," I'd answer. "What'll ya have?" I'd sign some books, maybe pose for a few pictures, but it didn't take long for the shimmer to fade. "'Scuse me. 'Scuse me!'" they'd be hissing by the seven-hour point over the Atlantic. "I said I wanted two creams for my coffee!"

??
I've never before brandished my standing as a columnist to increase my standing in a situation and now that I have, it's good to know that doing so is ineffectual, because in life you wanna know what works and what doesn't. Grant, Daniel and I all have T-shirts I found in Park City with logos that blare, "Do You Have Any Idea Who I Am?" which we used to wear proudly, certain in our cesspool status on the scale of societal evolution. Grant had his on when he drove me to the airport just the other day. I'm afraid to put mine on in public these days. It would be like I bought my own cover.

??
"'Scuse me," I kept insisting to the guest-relations people at Holland America, "I'm astounded that you'd act like this is no big thing."

??
It didn't help that we looked like hell, my sister and I. We'd escaped our cabin after blindly snatching up clothes on the way out, and spent the rest of the night on wooden lounge chairs in the Crow's Nest. I was wearing nylon cargo shorts and a pajama top under a windbreaker. Cheryl had on a tie-dyed T-shirt, acid-washed jeans and a stained raincoat she picked up at a thrift store in Seattle on the way to Anchorage, Alaska, all accented by the neon-pink streaks in her hair. It was little departure from how she normally looked, but still. When we returned to our room we'd found it, and everything inside, in the process of fumigation. We didn't get our clothes back until the next morning, so if my sister decided to dress up by maybe borrowing some of my clothes, she wouldn't have been able to and that matters, doesn't it?

??
"Crawling," I reiterated, and if I'd had the Ziploc we'd used to collect a sample, I would have shaken it in their defiant faces, "all over us."

??
My issue was not really the bugs. I understand things happen. Cheryl and I have both, back in the day, backpacked through Europe with hardly more than a buck in our pockets and a cigarette butt to rest our heads, but still we had never encountered bedbugs before. Aren't they reserved for poverty? Stricken potato farmers of the early 1800s? Yet here these guest-relations people were treating us, it seemed, as though we'd brought this plague on the boat ourselves. So no, it wasn't the bugs, it was them and the way they had of making me feel no bigger than a bug. "There's nothing more we can do," they kept saying, as if they'd done anything.

??
I had yet to begin shrieking, and was hoping it wouldn't get to that point. I'd already told them I was an important person, which, let's face it, if you have to say it yourself, sucks all the validity out of it. So I didn't shriek and curse. I simply said, "If it's your job to make your passengers happy, then you're failing at it. I'll give you some time to think about this, and my suggestion is that you get back to me with a suggestion on how you can improve our experience on this ship."

??
Cheryl was back up in the Crow's Nest, not caring one way or the other how things turned out. She would prefer a cabin free of pests to the five-member "Pest Management" team inside saturating everything with chemicals, but I got the feeling she would have been cool either way. We were in Alaska, surrounded by the most achingly beautiful scenery we'd ever seen., yet I couldn't get my mind off these little bugs.

??
"I had Kim give them a call," Cheryl said when I met up with her. Kim is our little sister, the lawyer. A short time later, we were inundated with formal letters of apology and offers of recompense. So there you have it, evidently being a writer carries no weight at all when you're being abused by a cruise line, but at least being a writer with an attorney for a little sister qualifies as a big thing.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy, www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024920 1268266                          Moodswing - Big things "
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Moodswing

Wednesday July 4, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Don't you have any idea who I am? | more...
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  string(23) "The dangers of cruising"
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  string(4903) "I always thought that if I ever woke up with bugs crawling all over me, they'd at least be imaginary, the aftermath of copious narcotics or something, payment for a prolonged period of voluntary debauchery. Once, I lived in a big house that was pleasant enough, except that it happened to be at the ass end of a planetary insect vortex (or so it seriously seemed), and every morning there were so many spiderwebs on my porch that, just to get to my car, I had to spin around flicking and flailing like the victim of a poison-gas attack. But even then I never woke up with bugs on me, crawling.

??
I used to count that as a huge plus in my life, because I know it could be different. I could be living in a dirt pit right now, dug by my Iraqi captors, or on the floor of a Philippine prison, trading butt sex for survival. So I try to be grateful for the little things, because I know that but for the hand I've been dealt by the cosmic card dealer, things could be bad enough that a bed full of bugs would be de rigueur.

??
But I'm not living in squalor right now, not supposedly anyway. Right now I'm on a Holland America cruise ship, in Alaska of all places. I hadn't meant to come to Alaska, but I promised my brother-in-law Eddie that for his birthday I'd take my sister Cheryl far away. She'd been visiting from Nicaragua, going on four months now, with him and our other sister Kim, which makes me marvel at their sainthood. Cheryl hardly drinks at all anymore, so at least there's that huge improvement, but still there's the other things, the little things, the collection of idiosyncrasies our sister possesses that make hosting her over a long period of time fairly maddening.

??
For one, she doesn't seem capable of speaking in normal tones, but only in excitable bursts, and after a while it gets a little exhausting to be in the presence of a person who constantly behaves like she just won a Winnebago on the "Price Is Right."

??
Then there is the fact that, since she moved to Nicaragua just five years ago, her brain seems to have been sucked clean of any memory of modern convenience. For example, I know she knew there was such a thing as computers before she left to live in Central America, and I even know there are lots and lots of computers actually existing in Granada as we speak, as I've been there and seen them – there's an Internet cafe across the street from the tavern she owns, for chrissakes – but still Cheryl constantly looks at my laptop like it's a shiny object she wants to break open against a rock to see what's inside.

??
And how do you live on Planet Earth and not know how to use an ATM? "It says 'enter your PIN number,'" she'll holler, the panic rising in her voice, "What's a PIN number? What does it mean 'enter'? Is there an opening where you put it?"

??
I swear, it's the little things like this that will send you sailing over the edge. It will make you so crazy you'll wake up swatting at imaginary insects, because surely if you're on a Holland America cruise in Alaska sleeping under 400-thread-count cotton sheets and you feel things crawling on you, they've got to be imaginary, right? Even if you bought the cruise at an unbelievable bargain price reserved for last-minute travelers.

??
"What are all these bugs?" Cheryl asked, shaking me awake. It was 4 in the morning, and for once, she wasn't hollering.

??
"What the hell are all these bugs!" I screamed. "What the hell are all these bugs!?!?"

??
I jumped around in our cabin, swatting and flinging myself around like an overmedicated mental patient as my sister collected a virtual nest of the critters and put them in the Ziploc bag she'd used to transport her shampoo and toothpaste at the airport. They were bedbugs, I realized, recalling a news item I'd seen last year on "The Today Show."

??
"Our beds were infested!" I seethed to the guest-relations manager at the front desk, who had transferred us to a cabin that was downgraded from the one we'd previously occupied, which, along with every item we'd brought on board, was now in the process of being fumigated by a team of exterminators. Astoundingly, the guest-relations manager and her boss, it seemed, had so far acted as though a bedbug infestation was a little thing – feh! No big deal – as though pestilence and fumigation were part of the compliments you could expect from Holland America.

??
"You can have the cabin you're in," she told us curtly, "and that's all we can do." My sister Cheryl, for once, kept quiet. She simply stepped aside and raised her eyebrows at me expectantly. She is my sister after all, and she might not know a lot about computers and ATMs, but she knows you don't tell me, her little sister, that something is a little thing when it is, in fact, huge.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4945) "I always thought that if I ever woke up with bugs crawling all over me, they'd at least be imaginary, the aftermath of copious narcotics or something, payment for a prolonged period of voluntary debauchery. Once, I lived in a big house that was pleasant enough, except that it happened to be at the ass end of a planetary insect vortex (or so it seriously seemed), and every morning there were so many spiderwebs on my porch that, just to get to my car, I had to spin around flicking and flailing like the victim of a poison-gas attack. But even then I never woke up with bugs on me, crawling.

??
I used to count that as a huge plus in my life, because I know it could be different. I could be living in a dirt pit right now, dug by my Iraqi captors, or on the floor of a Philippine prison, trading butt sex for survival. So I try to be grateful for the little things, because I know that but for the hand I've been dealt by the cosmic card dealer, things could be bad enough that a bed full of bugs would be de rigueur.

??
But I'm not living in squalor right now, not supposedly anyway. Right now I'm on a Holland America cruise ship, in Alaska of all places. I hadn't meant to come to Alaska, but I promised my brother-in-law Eddie that for his birthday I'd take my sister Cheryl far away. She'd been visiting from Nicaragua, going on four months now, with him and our other sister Kim, which makes me marvel at their sainthood. Cheryl hardly drinks at all anymore, so at least there's that huge improvement, but still there's the other things, the little things, the collection of idiosyncrasies our sister possesses that make hosting her over a long period of time fairly maddening.

??
For one, she doesn't seem capable of speaking in normal tones, but only in excitable bursts, and after a while it gets a little exhausting to be in the presence of a person who constantly behaves like she just won a Winnebago on the "Price Is Right."

??
Then there is the fact that, since she moved to Nicaragua just five years ago, her brain seems to have been sucked clean of any memory of modern convenience. For example, I know she knew there was such a thing as computers before she left to live in Central America, and I even know there are lots and lots of computers actually existing in Granada as we speak, as I've been there and seen them – there's an Internet cafe across the street from the tavern she owns, for chrissakes – but still Cheryl constantly looks at my laptop like it's a shiny object she wants to break open against a rock to see what's inside.

??
And how do you live on Planet Earth and not know how to use an ATM? "It says 'enter your PIN number,'" she'll holler, the panic rising in her voice, "What's a PIN number? What does it mean 'enter'? Is there an opening where you put it?"

??
__I swear__, it's the little things like this that will send you sailing over the edge. It will make you so crazy you'll wake up swatting at imaginary insects, because surely if you're on a Holland America cruise in Alaska sleeping under 400-thread-count cotton sheets and you feel things crawling on you, they've got to be imaginary, right? Even if you bought the cruise at an unbelievable bargain price reserved for last-minute travelers.

??
"What are all these bugs?" Cheryl asked, shaking me awake. It was 4 in the morning, and for once, she wasn't hollering.

??
"What the hell are all these bugs!" I screamed. "What the hell are all these bugs!?!?"

??
I jumped around in our cabin, swatting and flinging myself around like an overmedicated mental patient as my sister collected a virtual nest of the critters and put them in the Ziploc bag she'd used to transport her shampoo and toothpaste at the airport. They were bedbugs, I realized, recalling a news item I'd seen last year on "The Today Show."

??
"Our beds were infested!" I seethed to the guest-relations manager at the front desk, who had transferred us to a cabin that was downgraded from the one we'd previously occupied, which, along with every item we'd brought on board, was now in the process of being fumigated by a team of exterminators. Astoundingly, the guest-relations manager and her boss, it seemed, had so far acted as though a bedbug infestation was a little thing – feh! No big deal – as though pestilence and fumigation were part of the compliments you could expect from Holland America.

??
"You can have the cabin you're in," she told us curtly, "and that's all we can do." My sister Cheryl, for once, kept quiet. She simply stepped aside and raised her eyebrows at me expectantly. She is my sister after all, and she might not know a lot about computers and ATMs, but she knows you don't tell me, her little sister, that something is a little thing when it is, in fact, huge.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5120) "    The dangers of cruising   2007-06-27T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Little things   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-06-27T04:04:00+00:00  I always thought that if I ever woke up with bugs crawling all over me, they'd at least be imaginary, the aftermath of copious narcotics or something, payment for a prolonged period of voluntary debauchery. Once, I lived in a big house that was pleasant enough, except that it happened to be at the ass end of a planetary insect vortex (or so it seriously seemed), and every morning there were so many spiderwebs on my porch that, just to get to my car, I had to spin around flicking and flailing like the victim of a poison-gas attack. But even then I never woke up with bugs on me, crawling.

??
I used to count that as a huge plus in my life, because I know it could be different. I could be living in a dirt pit right now, dug by my Iraqi captors, or on the floor of a Philippine prison, trading butt sex for survival. So I try to be grateful for the little things, because I know that but for the hand I've been dealt by the cosmic card dealer, things could be bad enough that a bed full of bugs would be de rigueur.

??
But I'm not living in squalor right now, not supposedly anyway. Right now I'm on a Holland America cruise ship, in Alaska of all places. I hadn't meant to come to Alaska, but I promised my brother-in-law Eddie that for his birthday I'd take my sister Cheryl far away. She'd been visiting from Nicaragua, going on four months now, with him and our other sister Kim, which makes me marvel at their sainthood. Cheryl hardly drinks at all anymore, so at least there's that huge improvement, but still there's the other things, the little things, the collection of idiosyncrasies our sister possesses that make hosting her over a long period of time fairly maddening.

??
For one, she doesn't seem capable of speaking in normal tones, but only in excitable bursts, and after a while it gets a little exhausting to be in the presence of a person who constantly behaves like she just won a Winnebago on the "Price Is Right."

??
Then there is the fact that, since she moved to Nicaragua just five years ago, her brain seems to have been sucked clean of any memory of modern convenience. For example, I know she knew there was such a thing as computers before she left to live in Central America, and I even know there are lots and lots of computers actually existing in Granada as we speak, as I've been there and seen them – there's an Internet cafe across the street from the tavern she owns, for chrissakes – but still Cheryl constantly looks at my laptop like it's a shiny object she wants to break open against a rock to see what's inside.

??
And how do you live on Planet Earth and not know how to use an ATM? "It says 'enter your PIN number,'" she'll holler, the panic rising in her voice, "What's a PIN number? What does it mean 'enter'? Is there an opening where you put it?"

??
I swear, it's the little things like this that will send you sailing over the edge. It will make you so crazy you'll wake up swatting at imaginary insects, because surely if you're on a Holland America cruise in Alaska sleeping under 400-thread-count cotton sheets and you feel things crawling on you, they've got to be imaginary, right? Even if you bought the cruise at an unbelievable bargain price reserved for last-minute travelers.

??
"What are all these bugs?" Cheryl asked, shaking me awake. It was 4 in the morning, and for once, she wasn't hollering.

??
"What the hell are all these bugs!" I screamed. "What the hell are all these bugs!?!?"

??
I jumped around in our cabin, swatting and flinging myself around like an overmedicated mental patient as my sister collected a virtual nest of the critters and put them in the Ziploc bag she'd used to transport her shampoo and toothpaste at the airport. They were bedbugs, I realized, recalling a news item I'd seen last year on "The Today Show."

??
"Our beds were infested!" I seethed to the guest-relations manager at the front desk, who had transferred us to a cabin that was downgraded from the one we'd previously occupied, which, along with every item we'd brought on board, was now in the process of being fumigated by a team of exterminators. Astoundingly, the guest-relations manager and her boss, it seemed, had so far acted as though a bedbug infestation was a little thing – feh! No big deal – as though pestilence and fumigation were part of the compliments you could expect from Holland America.

??
"You can have the cabin you're in," she told us curtly, "and that's all we can do." My sister Cheryl, for once, kept quiet. She simply stepped aside and raised her eyebrows at me expectantly. She is my sister after all, and she might not know a lot about computers and ATMs, but she knows you don't tell me, her little sister, that something is a little thing when it is, in fact, huge.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024862 1268090                          Moodswing - Little things "
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Moodswing

Wednesday June 27, 2007 12:04 am EDT
The dangers of cruising | more...
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  string(36) "A narrow escape in a San Diego hotel"
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  string(4897) "I've been weighing the cost of homicide lately, wondering if it might be worth it in the long run. Of course I dream about killing my overexcited sister Cheryl – who has appeared from Nicaragua to squat in my life again – all the time, but dreams aren't that satisfying. For one, there's all that remorse. "Dang, why did I do that?" I remember thinking in my dream, my dead sister at my feet. "I stained my favorite shirt, and now I have to dispose of the body."

??
Lary has often offered me his cleanup services in this regard. After a lifetime of pensive research, foolproof body disposal is supposedly something he's finally figured out, and he's eager to put his theory to work. For example, he likes to remind me that he's the one to call if I ever wake up with a dead hooker in my hotel room.

??
"Why the hell would there be a dead hooker in my hotel room?" I used to ask him.

??
"You never know," he'd say, his teeth gleaming.

??
At first I thought the probability was pretty slim, but then I realized you don't have to actually hire a hooker to have her end up dead in your hotel room. Who knows, she could have knocked on your door after huffing too much glue and die right there by the luggage stand with you as the hapless bystander. It's possible. I've known plenty of hookers in my day, and not all of them limited to the crack whores who used to populate my neighborhood. Some of them worked at the same steakhouse with my sister back in San Diego, and that restaurant was located in the lobby of an actual hotel, which made it pretty convenient. None of them ended up dead, though, that I know of.

??
I worked there myself one summer. We'd lied about our ages and said we were 20 and 22, respectively, when really I was 16 and she was 18. Until then I'd made money sewing the uniforms for the girls, which was a cake job if there ever was one, because the skirt portion took so little material I could make them out of cut-up pillowcases if I wanted. It was the aprons that were difficult. They had to be exactly 10 inches in length with a dozen pockets and a Velcro waistband, all tailored with pleats, yet lay flat enough so as not to tilt them as they teetered on their come-fuck-me pumps and wagged their asses in the faces of the customers, 90 percent of which were airline pilots and rich criminals.

??
It was the dinner shift that was notorious for its line of call girls working the tables, so it's not surprising that many of the dinner girls got caught "working the box," as my sister put it. There'd been an actual raid a few years prior, and many were prosecuted to little avail, so by the time I'd started there the girls had figured out how to get creative with their payment demands. One waitress worked the box for rent checks and others for car payments.

??
My sister did not work the box, but rather the lunch shift, but still she made so much money it should have been outlawed for a girl her age, what with her penchant for unemployed boyfriends, to have so much cash on hand. I worked the breakfast shift, a time of day usually shunned by the playboys known to frequent the place, so most of my customers were clueless hotel guests who'd wandered in expecting regular coffee-shop fare. So I spent most of my shifts trying to read the newspaper with the pin lamp the bartender kept by the cash register to tally the checks, as the entire restaurant was void of even one single ray of natural light.

??
What it did have, though, was gold-and-red brocade wallpaper, booths upholstered in red vinyl and menus that were made – I swear this is true – of actual red meat. Every morning the cook covered serving platters with decorative lettuce and laid slabs of raw steak on top, and it was our job to carry these to the tables and point to each piece like a prize on a game show. "And here you have your aged, Angus-farmed filet mignon ..."

??
When I left at noon I'd be blinded by sunlight and so relieved to be free I'd run to my car with my arms outstretched. After a few months I tried to get fired by revealing my real age to the owner, a Jewish-Italian beast of a man in a satin shirt unbuttoned to his nipples.

??
I thought for sure he'd fire me, as I was too young to serve alcohol, and even in the morning there were a lot of boozers in there, but he just shrugged and told me to be sure to pick out all the red cabbage from his salad before serving it to him.

??
So before long I started picking up a lunch shift here and there, started making real money, started getting used to it. Then one day a customer asked me if I needed my rent paid, and I declined. But after that I knew, I just knew in my 16-year-old retard head, that if I kept this up I'd be in trouble. If I kept this up, in no time, I'd be dead.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4943) "I've been weighing the cost of homicide lately, wondering if it might be worth it in the long run. Of course I ''dream'' about killing my overexcited sister Cheryl – who has appeared from Nicaragua to squat in my life again – all the time, but dreams aren't that satisfying. For one, there's all that remorse. "Dang, why did I do that?" I remember thinking in my dream, my dead sister at my feet. "I stained my favorite shirt, and now I have to dispose of the body."

??
Lary has often offered me his cleanup services in this regard. After a lifetime of pensive research, foolproof body disposal is supposedly something he's finally figured out, and he's eager to put his theory to work. For example, he likes to remind me that he's the one to call if I ever wake up with a dead hooker in my hotel room.

??
"Why the hell would there be a dead hooker in my hotel room?" I used to ask him.

??
"You never know," he'd say, his teeth gleaming.

??
At first I thought the probability was pretty slim, but then I realized you don't have to actually hire a hooker to have her end up dead in your hotel room. Who knows, she could have knocked on your door after huffing too much glue and die right there by the luggage stand with you as the hapless bystander. It's possible. I've known plenty of hookers in my day, and not all of them limited to the crack whores who used to populate my neighborhood. Some of them worked at the same steakhouse with my sister back in San Diego, and that restaurant was located in the lobby of an actual hotel, which made it pretty convenient. None of them ended up dead, though, that I know of.

??
__I worked there__ myself one summer. We'd lied about our ages and said we were 20 and 22, respectively, when really I was 16 and she was 18. Until then I'd made money sewing the uniforms for the girls, which was a cake job if there ever was one, because the skirt portion took so little material I could make them out of cut-up pillowcases if I wanted. It was the aprons that were difficult. They had to be exactly 10 inches in length with a dozen pockets and a Velcro waistband, all tailored with pleats, yet lay flat enough so as not to tilt them as they teetered on their come-fuck-me pumps and wagged their asses in the faces of the customers, 90 percent of which were airline pilots and rich criminals.

??
It was the dinner shift that was notorious for its line of call girls working the tables, so it's not surprising that many of the dinner girls got caught "working the box," as my sister put it. There'd been an actual raid a few years prior, and many were prosecuted to little avail, so by the time I'd started there the girls had figured out how to get creative with their payment demands. One waitress worked the box for rent checks and others for car payments.

??
My sister did not work the box, but rather the lunch shift, but still she made so much money it should have been outlawed for a girl her age, what with her penchant for unemployed boyfriends, to have so much cash on hand. I worked the breakfast shift, a time of day usually shunned by the playboys known to frequent the place, so most of my customers were clueless hotel guests who'd wandered in expecting regular coffee-shop fare. So I spent most of my shifts trying to read the newspaper with the pin lamp the bartender kept by the cash register to tally the checks, as the entire restaurant was void of even one single ray of natural light.

??
What it did have, though, was gold-and-red brocade wallpaper, booths upholstered in red vinyl and menus that were made – I swear this is true – of actual red meat. Every morning the cook covered serving platters with decorative lettuce and laid slabs of raw steak on top, and it was our job to carry these to the tables and point to each piece like a prize on a game show. "And here you have your aged, Angus-farmed filet mignon ..."

??
When I left at noon I'd be blinded by sunlight and so relieved to be free I'd run to my car with my arms outstretched. After a few months I tried to get fired by revealing my real age to the owner, a Jewish-Italian beast of a man in a satin shirt unbuttoned to his nipples.

??
I thought for sure he'd fire me, as I was too young to serve alcohol, and even in the morning there were a lot of boozers in there, but he just shrugged and told me to be sure to pick out all the red cabbage from his salad before serving it to him.

??
So before long I started picking up a lunch shift here and there, started making real money, started getting used to it. Then one day a customer asked me if I needed my rent paid, and I declined. But after that I knew, I just knew in my 16-year-old retard head, that if I kept this up I'd be in trouble. If I kept this up, in no time, I'd be dead.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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??
Lary has often offered me his cleanup services in this regard. After a lifetime of pensive research, foolproof body disposal is supposedly something he's finally figured out, and he's eager to put his theory to work. For example, he likes to remind me that he's the one to call if I ever wake up with a dead hooker in my hotel room.

??
"Why the hell would there be a dead hooker in my hotel room?" I used to ask him.

??
"You never know," he'd say, his teeth gleaming.

??
At first I thought the probability was pretty slim, but then I realized you don't have to actually hire a hooker to have her end up dead in your hotel room. Who knows, she could have knocked on your door after huffing too much glue and die right there by the luggage stand with you as the hapless bystander. It's possible. I've known plenty of hookers in my day, and not all of them limited to the crack whores who used to populate my neighborhood. Some of them worked at the same steakhouse with my sister back in San Diego, and that restaurant was located in the lobby of an actual hotel, which made it pretty convenient. None of them ended up dead, though, that I know of.

??
I worked there myself one summer. We'd lied about our ages and said we were 20 and 22, respectively, when really I was 16 and she was 18. Until then I'd made money sewing the uniforms for the girls, which was a cake job if there ever was one, because the skirt portion took so little material I could make them out of cut-up pillowcases if I wanted. It was the aprons that were difficult. They had to be exactly 10 inches in length with a dozen pockets and a Velcro waistband, all tailored with pleats, yet lay flat enough so as not to tilt them as they teetered on their come-fuck-me pumps and wagged their asses in the faces of the customers, 90 percent of which were airline pilots and rich criminals.

??
It was the dinner shift that was notorious for its line of call girls working the tables, so it's not surprising that many of the dinner girls got caught "working the box," as my sister put it. There'd been an actual raid a few years prior, and many were prosecuted to little avail, so by the time I'd started there the girls had figured out how to get creative with their payment demands. One waitress worked the box for rent checks and others for car payments.

??
My sister did not work the box, but rather the lunch shift, but still she made so much money it should have been outlawed for a girl her age, what with her penchant for unemployed boyfriends, to have so much cash on hand. I worked the breakfast shift, a time of day usually shunned by the playboys known to frequent the place, so most of my customers were clueless hotel guests who'd wandered in expecting regular coffee-shop fare. So I spent most of my shifts trying to read the newspaper with the pin lamp the bartender kept by the cash register to tally the checks, as the entire restaurant was void of even one single ray of natural light.

??
What it did have, though, was gold-and-red brocade wallpaper, booths upholstered in red vinyl and menus that were made – I swear this is true – of actual red meat. Every morning the cook covered serving platters with decorative lettuce and laid slabs of raw steak on top, and it was our job to carry these to the tables and point to each piece like a prize on a game show. "And here you have your aged, Angus-farmed filet mignon ..."

??
When I left at noon I'd be blinded by sunlight and so relieved to be free I'd run to my car with my arms outstretched. After a few months I tried to get fired by revealing my real age to the owner, a Jewish-Italian beast of a man in a satin shirt unbuttoned to his nipples.

??
I thought for sure he'd fire me, as I was too young to serve alcohol, and even in the morning there were a lot of boozers in there, but he just shrugged and told me to be sure to pick out all the red cabbage from his salad before serving it to him.

??
So before long I started picking up a lunch shift here and there, started making real money, started getting used to it. Then one day a customer asked me if I needed my rent paid, and I declined. But after that I knew, I just knew in my 16-year-old retard head, that if I kept this up I'd be in trouble. If I kept this up, in no time, I'd be dead.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024810 1267982                          Moodswing - Dead hooker "
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Moodswing

Wednesday June 20, 2007 12:04 am EDT
A narrow escape in a San Diego hotel | more...
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  string(4855) "Lary says he's gonna wait until he's 60 before he sucks his first cock, which I think is ridiculous. "Why wait?" I ask. "What if it turns out you like it?"

??
"Exactly," he counters. "I figure if I like it I'll have little time left to do it."

??
I personally would never trust anything tender between this man's teeth, but that doesn't mean he should wait until he's 60 to be gay if that's what he is. Lary's gayness has always been a big question mark between Grant and me. Grant is certain Lary's gay and he just hasn't had the right amount of tequila to admit it. Me, I've known Lary longer that Grant, and I'm convinced otherwise. At best, Lary's sexuality remains a question mark. "Gay is relative," he says, and certain question marks are simply worth keeping.

??
But hell, who knows what any of us will be at any time in our lives. I remember back in college when I'd somehow convinced myself I was a straight-A student, and damn if my GPA didn't reflect this belief right up until I graduated. I'm talking about the degree I got after I flunked out during my first foray into college, after deciding to start over at another university.

??
I got the idea after going to Hawaii with what was left of my family after my dad died. My brother at the time lived in a beach town up the coast where he shared an apartment with a mob of horny grad students. He worked as a waiter at a steak restaurant, but he was in his eighth year at Long Beach State and would graduate eventually. I don't judge. Counting the two years I squandered before I started over, it took me six years to get my degree.

??
But back to Hawaii; we got the condo in Makaha through my sister Cheryl's connections. She used to wait tables, too, at another steak restaurant entirely, this one staffed by leggy dames wearing skirts shorter than the aprons around their waists and heels so high you could hunt bison with them. It was the closest thing to a Playboy Club we had in San Diego, and most of the patrons were rich guys with flared collars and pinky rings. One of them owned the condo and gave the key to my sister so we could use it for a week. It was located next to a massive Sheridan resort property, and that first night I got blotto on mai tais, stole a golf cart and crashed it into an irrigation ditch. Fun times.

??
The next morning I lay around at the condo, the one owned by the rich guy, too hungover from my copious underage drinking to go with the rest of my family to the Hawaiian culture center, where I hear a bunch of big-bellied men with tattooed faces roasted a pig and served it with poi. The condo was furnished like a corporate hotel suite, with no evidence of a personal residence at all except a collection of books on a shelf in the bedroom, one of which was The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Richard Gilly Nixon.

??
Hell, I thought, I like riches, and I damn well know I'm lazy, as I'd been told I was lazy all my life. I remember as a child eavesdropping on my parents as they joked about the future employment prospects of each of their offspring, and when they got to me my mother pondered, "What will Hollis become?" and my father, without missing a beat, laughed, "Fired!" So this book must be perfect for me, I thought, as I pocketed it and carried it to the beach.

??
I read half the book, up until the part where it started to get specific about the path to riches, which involved mail order of some kind. But the part before that, which heralded goal setting and warned of the energy-draining effects of masturbation on the brains of young achievers, that part I read. "Read your goals every night before you go to bed, and every morning when you wake up."

??
So I made the list and kept it under my pillow, unfolding it every night and every morning. I wish I still had the list, because it would be fun to see if, all these years later, any of the goals listed so long ago match my actual accomplishments. Here are a few I remember: I want to be a straight-A student. Check. I want to own three houses. Check. I want to be a published author. Check. I want to be rich. Question mark.

??
The list was very long, believe me, and I read it every morning and every night for exactly five months until I fell in love with a bartender and commenced having all the energy-sapping orgasms the book had warned me about. But I still marvel at how just five months of resolute goal setting did seem to set a direction for me that led me to the life I now have, one with more checks and fewer question marks. I used to wonder what I would have accomplished had I just kept it up and forsaken all the side trails, but not any longer. Riches are relative, I say, and certain question marks are simply worth keeping.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4901) "Lary says he's gonna wait until he's 60 before he sucks his first cock, which I think is ridiculous. "Why wait?" I ask. "What if it turns out you like it?"

??
"Exactly," he counters. "I figure if I like it I'll have little time left to do it."

??
I personally would never trust anything tender between this man's teeth, but that doesn't mean he should wait until he's 60 to be gay if that's what he is. Lary's gayness has always been a big question mark between Grant and me. Grant is certain Lary's gay and he just hasn't had the right amount of tequila to admit it. Me, I've known Lary longer that Grant, and I'm convinced otherwise. At best, Lary's sexuality remains a question mark. "Gay is relative," he says, and certain question marks are simply worth keeping.

??
But hell, who knows what any of us will be at any time in our lives. I remember back in college when I'd somehow convinced myself I was a straight-A student, and damn if my GPA didn't reflect this belief right up until I graduated. I'm talking about the degree I got after I flunked out during my first foray into college, after deciding to start over at another university.

??
I got the idea after going to Hawaii with what was left of my family after my dad died. My brother at the time lived in a beach town up the coast where he shared an apartment with a mob of horny grad students. He worked as a waiter at a steak restaurant, but he was in his eighth year at Long Beach State and would graduate eventually. I don't judge. Counting the two years I squandered before I started over, it took me six years to get my degree.

??
__But back__ to Hawaii; we got the condo in Makaha through my sister Cheryl's connections. She used to wait tables, too, at another steak restaurant entirely, this one staffed by leggy dames wearing skirts shorter than the aprons around their waists and heels so high you could hunt bison with them. It was the closest thing to a Playboy Club we had in San Diego, and most of the patrons were rich guys with flared collars and pinky rings. One of them owned the condo and gave the key to my sister so we could use it for a week. It was located next to a massive Sheridan resort property, and that first night I got blotto on mai tais, stole a golf cart and crashed it into an irrigation ditch. Fun times.

??
The next morning I lay around at the condo, the one owned by the rich guy, too hungover from my copious underage drinking to go with the rest of my family to the Hawaiian culture center, where I hear a bunch of big-bellied men with tattooed faces roasted a pig and served it with poi. The condo was furnished like a corporate hotel suite, with no evidence of a personal residence at all except a collection of books on a shelf in the bedroom, one of which was ''The Lazy Man's Way to Riches'' by Richard Gilly Nixon.

??
Hell, I thought, I like riches, and I damn well know I'm lazy, as I'd been told I was lazy all my life. I remember as a child eavesdropping on my parents as they joked about the future employment prospects of each of their offspring, and when they got to me my mother pondered, "What will Hollis become?" and my father, without missing a beat, laughed, "Fired!" So this book must be perfect for me, I thought, as I pocketed it and carried it to the beach.

??
I read half the book, up until the part where it started to get specific about the path to riches, which involved mail order of some kind. But the part before that, which heralded goal setting and warned of the energy-draining effects of masturbation on the brains of young achievers, that part I read. "Read your goals every night before you go to bed, and every morning when you wake up."

??
So I made the list and kept it under my pillow, unfolding it every night and every morning. I wish I still had the list, because it would be fun to see if, all these years later, any of the goals listed so long ago match my actual accomplishments. Here are a few I remember: I want to be a straight-A student. Check. I want to own three houses. Check. I want to be a published author. Check. I want to be rich. Question mark.

??
The list was very long, believe me, and I read it every morning and every night for exactly five months until I fell in love with a bartender and commenced having all the energy-sapping orgasms the book had warned me about. But I still marvel at how just five months of resolute goal setting did seem to set a direction for me that led me to the life I now have, one with more checks and fewer question marks. I used to wonder what I would have accomplished had I just kept it up and forsaken all the side trails, but not any longer. Riches are relative, I say, and certain question marks are simply worth keeping.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5088) "    Goal setting and the lazy way to riches   2007-06-13T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - Question mark   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-06-13T04:04:00+00:00  Lary says he's gonna wait until he's 60 before he sucks his first cock, which I think is ridiculous. "Why wait?" I ask. "What if it turns out you like it?"

??
"Exactly," he counters. "I figure if I like it I'll have little time left to do it."

??
I personally would never trust anything tender between this man's teeth, but that doesn't mean he should wait until he's 60 to be gay if that's what he is. Lary's gayness has always been a big question mark between Grant and me. Grant is certain Lary's gay and he just hasn't had the right amount of tequila to admit it. Me, I've known Lary longer that Grant, and I'm convinced otherwise. At best, Lary's sexuality remains a question mark. "Gay is relative," he says, and certain question marks are simply worth keeping.

??
But hell, who knows what any of us will be at any time in our lives. I remember back in college when I'd somehow convinced myself I was a straight-A student, and damn if my GPA didn't reflect this belief right up until I graduated. I'm talking about the degree I got after I flunked out during my first foray into college, after deciding to start over at another university.

??
I got the idea after going to Hawaii with what was left of my family after my dad died. My brother at the time lived in a beach town up the coast where he shared an apartment with a mob of horny grad students. He worked as a waiter at a steak restaurant, but he was in his eighth year at Long Beach State and would graduate eventually. I don't judge. Counting the two years I squandered before I started over, it took me six years to get my degree.

??
But back to Hawaii; we got the condo in Makaha through my sister Cheryl's connections. She used to wait tables, too, at another steak restaurant entirely, this one staffed by leggy dames wearing skirts shorter than the aprons around their waists and heels so high you could hunt bison with them. It was the closest thing to a Playboy Club we had in San Diego, and most of the patrons were rich guys with flared collars and pinky rings. One of them owned the condo and gave the key to my sister so we could use it for a week. It was located next to a massive Sheridan resort property, and that first night I got blotto on mai tais, stole a golf cart and crashed it into an irrigation ditch. Fun times.

??
The next morning I lay around at the condo, the one owned by the rich guy, too hungover from my copious underage drinking to go with the rest of my family to the Hawaiian culture center, where I hear a bunch of big-bellied men with tattooed faces roasted a pig and served it with poi. The condo was furnished like a corporate hotel suite, with no evidence of a personal residence at all except a collection of books on a shelf in the bedroom, one of which was The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Richard Gilly Nixon.

??
Hell, I thought, I like riches, and I damn well know I'm lazy, as I'd been told I was lazy all my life. I remember as a child eavesdropping on my parents as they joked about the future employment prospects of each of their offspring, and when they got to me my mother pondered, "What will Hollis become?" and my father, without missing a beat, laughed, "Fired!" So this book must be perfect for me, I thought, as I pocketed it and carried it to the beach.

??
I read half the book, up until the part where it started to get specific about the path to riches, which involved mail order of some kind. But the part before that, which heralded goal setting and warned of the energy-draining effects of masturbation on the brains of young achievers, that part I read. "Read your goals every night before you go to bed, and every morning when you wake up."

??
So I made the list and kept it under my pillow, unfolding it every night and every morning. I wish I still had the list, because it would be fun to see if, all these years later, any of the goals listed so long ago match my actual accomplishments. Here are a few I remember: I want to be a straight-A student. Check. I want to own three houses. Check. I want to be a published author. Check. I want to be rich. Question mark.

??
The list was very long, believe me, and I read it every morning and every night for exactly five months until I fell in love with a bartender and commenced having all the energy-sapping orgasms the book had warned me about. But I still marvel at how just five months of resolute goal setting did seem to set a direction for me that led me to the life I now have, one with more checks and fewer question marks. I used to wonder what I would have accomplished had I just kept it up and forsaken all the side trails, but not any longer. Riches are relative, I say, and certain question marks are simply worth keeping.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. For more information, go to www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024758 1267861                          Moodswing - Question mark "
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Moodswing

Wednesday June 13, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Goal setting and the lazy way to riches | more...
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  string(4986) "I would say, overall, that a brain is a bad thing to step on. And until yesterday I could say I never stepped on one before — while barefoot, that is — and I need to qualify the barefoot part, because it's possible I stepped on a few brains while wearing boots back in my days as an illegal alien in Europe. Not that they pave the streets with brains in Zurich, but they take their meat seriously over there. They don't deliver it frozen, prepackaged and injected with polypropylene like they do here. They have real butchers over there, and in the farmer's market located near the apartment where I lived with my mother — who was legally employed by the Swiss government while I, her grown daughter with the expired tourist visa, mooched off her — there often hung, in the open, what looked like hunks of meat that hadn't been skinned yet. I used to stare in fascination at the display of cow tongues. Each was as big as a sailor's arm covered in taste buds the size of thumb tacks. So I would not be surprised if I stepped on a few pieces of brain back then. You never knew what you were stepping on back then.

??
Regarding the squirrel brain I found between my toes yesterday; I'd found the squirrel head itself a few days prior, neatly sitting on the '70s rya rug I keep at the base of my bed. I love this rug. I've sold things on eBay before, things that were featured in photographs near this rug, only to be inundated with requests to buy the rug and not the item. My cat, Petal, a feline Hannibal Lecter lately, must know this is my favorite, as she constantly leaves me these little presents – a squirrel head here, a dead bird there, a lizard torso – right where she knows I'll find them. I can't freak out or anything, as I know they're left with love. After all, to a cat a squirrel brain is a delicacy.

??
Just like fish cheeks are to my sister Cheryl. She told me this adamantly one night when I was visiting her in Nicaragua last year, when she adamantly insisted I order the local seafood. "Eat the cheeks! Eat the cheeks!" she said. "Are you talking about the gills?" I asked, because who would eat fish gills? That's like eating nostrils.

??
Cheryl kept insisting, but it would be awhile before I could test her proclamation. There were 10 of us in our party, and we were dining at the nicest restaurant in Granada, the only customers in the joint, and our meals came out one by one, as evidently Nicaraguans don't multitask. In the third hour since we'd ordered, I received my fish. It came fried and sitting upright on a colorful ceramic plate, and it was the ugliest fish I had ever seen. I think it even had teeth and hair.

??
"Taste it," Cher growled when she saw me hesitate. She was almost using her scary voice, and, Lord, I did not want to be stuck in a Third World country with that woman when she is using her scary voice. I hear the hospitals in Nicaragua are pretty understaffed, and I knew for certain that the airline wouldn't let me back on the plane oozing with untreated wounds. So I poked at the fish and took a tiny taste.

??
Years earlier, when I was living with my mother in Switzerland, Cheryl could have been living there with her instead, but I don't know if my mother even invited her. At the time Cheryl was shacking up with her third progressively worse boyfriend, as far as my mother was concerned, and she refused to support Cheryl financially if Cheryl was supporting someone else financially, and Cheryl always seemed to be supporting someone else financially. She was, after all, my mother's daughter.

??
So when my mother got the job in Switzerland, she chose me to take with her. I was working as a part-time receptionist at a real-estate brokerage and had set a pattern of forsaking personal relationships in favor of adventure and other pursuits, like college. In fact, I'd just gotten my degree in writing from an expensive private university ("This will come in handy when you get that job selling Xerox copiers," the professor had told me as he handed me my diploma), and my mother wanted to make sure I didn't shit it away. "Live with me for a year and you can write and get published," she implored, so I did, and I did. Today I am a syndicated columnist and about to have my third book published, and Cheryl is the dubiously thrilled proprietor of a Central American bar she runs with her husband, a man I have not seen sober since they moved to Nicaragua almost five years ago. The fish, by the way, was the best thing I ever tasted. "I knew it," Cheryl said, her scary voice subsiding.

??
Sometimes I wonder how it would've turned out if Cheryl had gone to Switzerland with my mother instead of me, how she might have fared if she'd been able to utilize the lesson I'd been bestowed during that time, the gift – really it was gift – of learning that a brain is a bad thing to step on.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com."
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??
Regarding the squirrel brain I found between my toes yesterday; I'd found the squirrel head itself a few days prior, neatly sitting on the '70s rya rug I keep at the base of my bed. I love this rug. I've sold things on eBay before, things that were featured in photographs near this rug, only to be inundated with requests to buy the rug and not the item. My cat, Petal, a feline Hannibal Lecter lately, must know this is my favorite, as she constantly leaves me these little presents – a squirrel head here, a dead bird there, a lizard torso – right where she knows I'll find them. I can't freak out or anything, as I know they're left with love. After all, to a cat a squirrel brain is a delicacy.

??
Just like fish cheeks are to my sister Cheryl. She told me this adamantly one night when I was visiting her in Nicaragua last year, when she adamantly insisted I order the local seafood. "Eat the cheeks! Eat the cheeks!" she said. "Are you talking about the gills?" I asked, because who would eat fish gills? That's like eating nostrils.

??
Cheryl kept insisting, but it would be awhile before I could test her proclamation. There were 10 of us in our party, and we were dining at the nicest restaurant in Granada, the only customers in the joint, and our meals came out one by one, as evidently Nicaraguans don't multitask. In the third hour since we'd ordered, I received my fish. It came fried and sitting upright on a colorful ceramic plate, and it was the ugliest fish I had ever seen. I think it even had teeth and hair.

??
"''Taste it''," Cher growled when she saw me hesitate. She was almost using her scary voice, and, Lord, I did not want to be stuck in a Third World country with that woman when she is using her scary voice. I hear the hospitals in Nicaragua are pretty understaffed, and I knew for certain that the airline wouldn't let me back on the plane oozing with untreated wounds. So I poked at the fish and took a tiny taste.

??
__Years earlier,__ when I was living with my mother in Switzerland, Cheryl could have been living there with her instead, but I don't know if my mother even invited her. At the time Cheryl was shacking up with her third progressively worse boyfriend, as far as my mother was concerned, and she refused to support Cheryl financially if Cheryl was supporting someone else financially, and Cheryl always seemed to be supporting someone else financially. She was, after all, my mother's daughter.

??
So when my mother got the job in Switzerland, she chose me to take with her. I was working as a part-time receptionist at a real-estate brokerage and had set a pattern of forsaking personal relationships in favor of adventure and other pursuits, like college. In fact, I'd just gotten my degree in writing from an expensive private university ("This will come in handy when you get that job selling Xerox copiers," the professor had told me as he handed me my diploma), and my mother wanted to make sure I didn't shit it away. "Live with me for a year and you can write and get published," she implored, so I did, and I did. Today I am a syndicated columnist and about to have my third book published, and Cheryl is the dubiously thrilled proprietor of a Central American bar she runs with her husband, a man I have not seen sober since they moved to Nicaragua almost five years ago. The fish, by the way, was the best thing I ever tasted. "I knew it," Cheryl said, her scary voice subsiding.

??
Sometimes I wonder how it would've turned out if Cheryl had gone to Switzerland with my mother instead of me, how she might have fared if she'd been able to utilize the lesson I'd been bestowed during that time, the gift – really it was gift – of learning that a brain is a bad thing to step on.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5234) "    Looking for the brains of the outfit   2007-06-06T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - A bad thing to step on   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-06-06T04:04:00+00:00  I would say, overall, that a brain is a bad thing to step on. And until yesterday I could say I never stepped on one before — while barefoot, that is — and I need to qualify the barefoot part, because it's possible I stepped on a few brains while wearing boots back in my days as an illegal alien in Europe. Not that they pave the streets with brains in Zurich, but they take their meat seriously over there. They don't deliver it frozen, prepackaged and injected with polypropylene like they do here. They have real butchers over there, and in the farmer's market located near the apartment where I lived with my mother — who was legally employed by the Swiss government while I, her grown daughter with the expired tourist visa, mooched off her — there often hung, in the open, what looked like hunks of meat that hadn't been skinned yet. I used to stare in fascination at the display of cow tongues. Each was as big as a sailor's arm covered in taste buds the size of thumb tacks. So I would not be surprised if I stepped on a few pieces of brain back then. You never knew what you were stepping on back then.

??
Regarding the squirrel brain I found between my toes yesterday; I'd found the squirrel head itself a few days prior, neatly sitting on the '70s rya rug I keep at the base of my bed. I love this rug. I've sold things on eBay before, things that were featured in photographs near this rug, only to be inundated with requests to buy the rug and not the item. My cat, Petal, a feline Hannibal Lecter lately, must know this is my favorite, as she constantly leaves me these little presents – a squirrel head here, a dead bird there, a lizard torso – right where she knows I'll find them. I can't freak out or anything, as I know they're left with love. After all, to a cat a squirrel brain is a delicacy.

??
Just like fish cheeks are to my sister Cheryl. She told me this adamantly one night when I was visiting her in Nicaragua last year, when she adamantly insisted I order the local seafood. "Eat the cheeks! Eat the cheeks!" she said. "Are you talking about the gills?" I asked, because who would eat fish gills? That's like eating nostrils.

??
Cheryl kept insisting, but it would be awhile before I could test her proclamation. There were 10 of us in our party, and we were dining at the nicest restaurant in Granada, the only customers in the joint, and our meals came out one by one, as evidently Nicaraguans don't multitask. In the third hour since we'd ordered, I received my fish. It came fried and sitting upright on a colorful ceramic plate, and it was the ugliest fish I had ever seen. I think it even had teeth and hair.

??
"Taste it," Cher growled when she saw me hesitate. She was almost using her scary voice, and, Lord, I did not want to be stuck in a Third World country with that woman when she is using her scary voice. I hear the hospitals in Nicaragua are pretty understaffed, and I knew for certain that the airline wouldn't let me back on the plane oozing with untreated wounds. So I poked at the fish and took a tiny taste.

??
Years earlier, when I was living with my mother in Switzerland, Cheryl could have been living there with her instead, but I don't know if my mother even invited her. At the time Cheryl was shacking up with her third progressively worse boyfriend, as far as my mother was concerned, and she refused to support Cheryl financially if Cheryl was supporting someone else financially, and Cheryl always seemed to be supporting someone else financially. She was, after all, my mother's daughter.

??
So when my mother got the job in Switzerland, she chose me to take with her. I was working as a part-time receptionist at a real-estate brokerage and had set a pattern of forsaking personal relationships in favor of adventure and other pursuits, like college. In fact, I'd just gotten my degree in writing from an expensive private university ("This will come in handy when you get that job selling Xerox copiers," the professor had told me as he handed me my diploma), and my mother wanted to make sure I didn't shit it away. "Live with me for a year and you can write and get published," she implored, so I did, and I did. Today I am a syndicated columnist and about to have my third book published, and Cheryl is the dubiously thrilled proprietor of a Central American bar she runs with her husband, a man I have not seen sober since they moved to Nicaragua almost five years ago. The fish, by the way, was the best thing I ever tasted. "I knew it," Cheryl said, her scary voice subsiding.

??
Sometimes I wonder how it would've turned out if Cheryl had gone to Switzerland with my mother instead of me, how she might have fared if she'd been able to utilize the lesson I'd been bestowed during that time, the gift – really it was gift – of learning that a brain is a bad thing to step on.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real Life Writing Academy. www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024717 1267781                          Moodswing - A bad thing to step on "
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Moodswing

Wednesday June 6, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Looking for the brains of the outfit | more...
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  string(41) "Does Nicaragua really need a robot moose?"
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  string(4838) "Hell no I am not helping Cheryl ship a moose head to Nicaragua. I swear I can't believe the crap this girl expects me to help her haul back to Granada every time she visits. I thought people moved there to get away from America, not so they can ship their whole homeland down there piece by piece.

??
"But they don't have moose in Nicaragua," Cheryl whined.

??
"They don't have moose in Dayton goddamn Ohio, either," I reminded her, as Dayton is where Cheryl is staying for her visit this time, with our other sister, Kim. They also don't have moose in San Diego, come to think of it, which is where we're from. "In fact, I don't think you've ever even seen a moose," I told Cheryl. "Why the hell do you want a moose head?"

??
"Because it's a mechanical talking moose head," she hollered excitedly. "It'll be great! C'mon, Hollis. It only weighs 60 pounds."

??
"Jesus, Cher, just move home, for God's sake," I said. "It's a hell of a lot cheaper to ship moose heads domestically, for one."

??
"I told you they don't have moose heads in Nicaragua," she answered me, and it took me a second before I realized that, by hearing me tell her to move home, Cher thought I'd told her to return to Granada, as that's where she now considered home. I was a little stunned. "I mean here home," I said. The United States is her home – isn't it? Cheryl didn't answer me; she was busy recounting the many attributes of a robot moose head and how certain she was it would increase the patronage at the bar she owns with her husband in Granada. Cheryl has lived in Nicaragua more than five years now, which, come to think of it, surprises the hell out of me, seeing as how the man she moved there to be near died more than a year ago.

??
I'm not talking about the man she married. No, that man is still alive, to my mixed sentiment. The particular man I am talking about is a crusty old conspiracy theorist named Bill, who happened to be my mother's best friend at the time she herself was dying. Bill promptly moved to Central America as he always promised he would as soon as my mother didn't need him anymore, then he promptly had a heart attack and needed someone himself, so Cheryl dispatched herself and her new husband to go down there and be of assistance.

??
Cheryl had met Wayne about eight years prior, in a bar in Las Vegas, where she worked as a casino cocktail waitress and he worked "in distribution," whatever that means. When Cheryl first introduced me to Wayne, he had a hairdo that was popular among many second-rate stage magicians at the time; a blond mullet that cascaded down his back and could touch the belt looped through the waist of his acid-washed denim parachute pants. By the time they married, the mullet was gone, thankfully, but it wouldn't be long before Wayne would move to Nicaragua with my sister and make other questionable decisions, such as his decision to get hammered every day, and his decision to, after getting exceptionally hammered one day in particular, pass out on top of (or at least near) a European backpacker on the pull-out sofa in the loft above the bar he owns with my sister.

??
Cheryl discovered the two of them the morning before she was visit me in Atlanta, the ticket for which I'd provided her. "Can you change my reservation?" she e-mailed. "I found Wayne in bed with another woman, so now instead of being on a bus to the airport I have to find a lawyer. It shouldn't take but two days. So see you Wednesday!"

??
I do have to say my sister Cheryl is a strong-willed woman, and it can't be easy to live with her in a Third World country. I once lived with her in Claremont, Calif., and ended up with a concussion and a black eye after she'd broken a potted palm tree over my head because I'd inquired, though not nicely, as to why she'd worn my new boots without permission. So I can't imagine living with her in a country where the police will step over your bleeding body to take a bribe from the neighborhood whoremonger. Regarding Wayne and the backpacker, the consensus is that nothing happened. They'd been fully clothed when discovered, and in the Nicaraguan bar culture people commonly pass out on or around each other all the time, evidently, without lewd consequence.

??
"A moose head can't be that hard to ship to Nicaragua," Cheryl kept insisting, and I realized my sister has a history of insisting things are easy when they're not really. She drove her truck to Nicaragua, for example. Just pointed it south and hit the gas until she arrived. It was easy, she said, though I know it couldn't have been. "C'mon," she continued, "60 pounds can't be that heavy."

??
"Believe me," I said, "that head is heavy."

??
hollis.gillespie@creativeloafing.com

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. Check it out at www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4942) "Hell no I am not helping Cheryl ship a moose head to Nicaragua. I swear I can't believe the crap this girl expects me to help her haul back to Granada every time she visits. I thought people moved there to get away from America, not so they can ship their whole homeland down there piece by piece.

??
"But they don't have moose in Nicaragua," Cheryl whined.

??
"They don't have moose in Dayton goddamn Ohio, either," I reminded her, as Dayton is where Cheryl is staying for her visit this time, with our other sister, Kim. They also don't have moose in San Diego, come to think of it, which is where we're from. "In fact, I don't think you've ever even ''seen'' a moose," I told Cheryl. "Why the hell do you want a moose head?"

??
"Because it's a mechanical ''talking'' moose head," she hollered excitedly. "It'll be great! C'mon, Hollis. It only weighs 60 pounds."

??
"Jesus, Cher, just move home, for God's sake," I said. "It's a hell of a lot cheaper to ship moose heads domestically, for one."

??
"I told you they don't have moose heads in Nicaragua," she answered me, and it took me a second before I realized that, by hearing me tell her to move home, Cher thought I'd told her to return to Granada, as that's where she now considered home. I was a little stunned. "I mean ''here'' home," I said. The United States is her home – isn't it? Cheryl didn't answer me; she was busy recounting the many attributes of a robot moose head and how certain she was it would increase the patronage at the bar she owns with her husband in Granada. Cheryl has lived in Nicaragua more than five years now, which, come to think of it, surprises the hell out of me, seeing as how the man she moved there to be near died more than a year ago.

??
__I'm not talking__ about the man she married. No, that man is still alive, to my mixed sentiment. The particular man I am talking about is a crusty old conspiracy theorist named Bill, who happened to be my mother's best friend at the time she herself was dying. Bill promptly moved to Central America as he always promised he would as soon as my mother didn't need him anymore, then he promptly had a heart attack and needed someone himself, so Cheryl dispatched herself and her new husband to go down there and be of assistance.

??
Cheryl had met Wayne about eight years prior, in a bar in Las Vegas, where she worked as a casino cocktail waitress and he worked "in distribution," whatever that means. When Cheryl first introduced me to Wayne, he had a hairdo that was popular among many second-rate stage magicians at the time; a blond mullet that cascaded down his back and could touch the belt looped through the waist of his acid-washed denim parachute pants. By the time they married, the mullet was gone, thankfully, but it wouldn't be long before Wayne would move to Nicaragua with my sister and make other questionable decisions, such as his decision to get hammered every day, and his decision to, after getting exceptionally hammered one day in particular, pass out on top of (or at least near) a European backpacker on the pull-out sofa in the loft above the bar he owns with my sister.

??
Cheryl discovered the two of them the morning before she was visit me in Atlanta, the ticket for which I'd provided her. "Can you change my reservation?" she e-mailed. "I found Wayne in bed with another woman, so now instead of being on a bus to the airport I have to find a lawyer. It shouldn't take but two days. So see you Wednesday!"

??
I do have to say my sister Cheryl is a strong-willed woman, and it can't be easy to live with her in a Third World country. I once lived with her in Claremont, Calif., and ended up with a concussion and a black eye after she'd broken a potted palm tree over my head because I'd inquired, though not nicely, as to why she'd worn my new boots without permission. So I can't imagine living with her in a country where the police will step over your bleeding body to take a bribe from the neighborhood whoremonger. Regarding Wayne and the backpacker, the consensus is that nothing happened. They'd been fully clothed when discovered, and in the Nicaraguan bar culture people commonly pass out on or around each other all the time, evidently, without lewd consequence.

??
"A moose head can't be that hard to ship to Nicaragua," Cheryl kept insisting, and I realized my sister has a history of insisting things are easy when they're not really. She drove her truck to Nicaragua, for example. Just pointed it south and hit the gas until she arrived. It was easy, she said, though I know it couldn't have been. "C'mon," she continued, "60 pounds can't be that heavy."

??
"Believe me," I said, "that head is heavy."

??
''[mailto:hollis.gillespie@creativeloafing.com|hollis.gillespie@creativeloafing.com]''

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. Check it out at [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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??
"But they don't have moose in Nicaragua," Cheryl whined.

??
"They don't have moose in Dayton goddamn Ohio, either," I reminded her, as Dayton is where Cheryl is staying for her visit this time, with our other sister, Kim. They also don't have moose in San Diego, come to think of it, which is where we're from. "In fact, I don't think you've ever even seen a moose," I told Cheryl. "Why the hell do you want a moose head?"

??
"Because it's a mechanical talking moose head," she hollered excitedly. "It'll be great! C'mon, Hollis. It only weighs 60 pounds."

??
"Jesus, Cher, just move home, for God's sake," I said. "It's a hell of a lot cheaper to ship moose heads domestically, for one."

??
"I told you they don't have moose heads in Nicaragua," she answered me, and it took me a second before I realized that, by hearing me tell her to move home, Cher thought I'd told her to return to Granada, as that's where she now considered home. I was a little stunned. "I mean here home," I said. The United States is her home – isn't it? Cheryl didn't answer me; she was busy recounting the many attributes of a robot moose head and how certain she was it would increase the patronage at the bar she owns with her husband in Granada. Cheryl has lived in Nicaragua more than five years now, which, come to think of it, surprises the hell out of me, seeing as how the man she moved there to be near died more than a year ago.

??
I'm not talking about the man she married. No, that man is still alive, to my mixed sentiment. The particular man I am talking about is a crusty old conspiracy theorist named Bill, who happened to be my mother's best friend at the time she herself was dying. Bill promptly moved to Central America as he always promised he would as soon as my mother didn't need him anymore, then he promptly had a heart attack and needed someone himself, so Cheryl dispatched herself and her new husband to go down there and be of assistance.

??
Cheryl had met Wayne about eight years prior, in a bar in Las Vegas, where she worked as a casino cocktail waitress and he worked "in distribution," whatever that means. When Cheryl first introduced me to Wayne, he had a hairdo that was popular among many second-rate stage magicians at the time; a blond mullet that cascaded down his back and could touch the belt looped through the waist of his acid-washed denim parachute pants. By the time they married, the mullet was gone, thankfully, but it wouldn't be long before Wayne would move to Nicaragua with my sister and make other questionable decisions, such as his decision to get hammered every day, and his decision to, after getting exceptionally hammered one day in particular, pass out on top of (or at least near) a European backpacker on the pull-out sofa in the loft above the bar he owns with my sister.

??
Cheryl discovered the two of them the morning before she was visit me in Atlanta, the ticket for which I'd provided her. "Can you change my reservation?" she e-mailed. "I found Wayne in bed with another woman, so now instead of being on a bus to the airport I have to find a lawyer. It shouldn't take but two days. So see you Wednesday!"

??
I do have to say my sister Cheryl is a strong-willed woman, and it can't be easy to live with her in a Third World country. I once lived with her in Claremont, Calif., and ended up with a concussion and a black eye after she'd broken a potted palm tree over my head because I'd inquired, though not nicely, as to why she'd worn my new boots without permission. So I can't imagine living with her in a country where the police will step over your bleeding body to take a bribe from the neighborhood whoremonger. Regarding Wayne and the backpacker, the consensus is that nothing happened. They'd been fully clothed when discovered, and in the Nicaraguan bar culture people commonly pass out on or around each other all the time, evidently, without lewd consequence.

??
"A moose head can't be that hard to ship to Nicaragua," Cheryl kept insisting, and I realized my sister has a history of insisting things are easy when they're not really. She drove her truck to Nicaragua, for example. Just pointed it south and hit the gas until she arrived. It was easy, she said, though I know it couldn't have been. "C'mon," she continued, "60 pounds can't be that heavy."

??
"Believe me," I said, "that head is heavy."

??
hollis.gillespie@creativeloafing.com

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. Check it out at www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024642 1267623                          Moodswing - A heavy head "
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Moodswing

Wednesday May 30, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Does Nicaragua really need a robot moose? | more...
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  string(4883) "I've decided to murder a man named Travis. I hope he doesn't take it personally. I don't even know him. It's his friends I hate. They call me at all hours, with their unlisted phone numbers, asking if he's around. At first I was polite. "Sorry, wrong number," I'd chirp. But then after the 50th call, I decided Travis had to die.

??
"You haven't heard?" I gasped. "Travis, poor thing, was anally raped by his prison inmates with a cafeteria table leg. He died the next day."

??
Travis doesn't always die the same way, and sometimes he doesn't die at all, but horrible things happen to him, over and over. "I'm sorry to be the first to tell you, but Travis died horribly in a grease fire." Sometimes Travis is not all the way dead yet. "You should go visit him in the hospital," I might advise. "Maybe he'll recognize you. The doctor said the late-stage syphilis has only eaten half his brain."

??
His friends might show some polite concern, until the lurid details emerge, then they hang up. I've decided Travis must be a crystal-meth dealer, because why else would his pussy friends all have unlisted numbers, and why else would they call him at all hours?

??
I've had this cell number for a hundred years, so it's not that I innocently inherited the old number of this Travis guy. No. He plucked my number out of the air and is giving it to people he hopes to avoid, which is another reason he merits a painful death. "He was killed by an infected, ulcerated hemorrhoid," I might elaborate. "They've created a memorial fund. For more information, go to www.travistheasstard.com."

??
I started to feel bad when one girl burst into tears upon hearing the news. Of course, she could have been crying because her drug supply just dried up, but at that point I realized that prick Travis was blowing people off who actually gave a crap about him. "Don't feel bad," I consoled her. "The police found a huge cache of kiddie porn in his lean-to, so he deserved to die."

??
I got busted when one person called back and got a second rendition of Travis' death. "A man can't die twice," he hollered. I employed one of my best methods of defense, which was to impersonate my 85-year-old neighbor, Dot, who has Alzheimer's. This impersonation entails a lot of screaming. "I said I want my milk with my meal!" I bellowed again and again. It's a very effective ploy, and works against telemarketers, too.

??
The only problem is that the ruckus sometimes summons Dot to my door. She is a good neighbor, and when she hears screaming, dammit, she's gonna investigate. I wish I could say the same for when I hear screaming from her place, but the truth is I hear it so often it's just part of the background noise now. I like Dot, though. On her good days we joke about how we're gonna go get us some men. "I see some across the street right now," she'll cackle, pointing at the shirtless contractors working on a house that, until now, had been one of the few on our street that had accompanied ours among the unrenovated. "You go get 'em," she urges. "I'm too tired."

??
This wasn't one of Dot's good days, though. "My husband's dead," she sobbed, her eyes wild and searching. I nodded sympathetically. Dot's husband died more than 20 years ago. "I don't understand. I buried him 25 years ago, but I woke up this morning and he was dead all over again."

??
I invited her to come inside, sit on my new patio and have a cup of tea, but she declined. "I have so many things to do," she worried. "That man was the love of my life. How could he leave me like that? He did it to himself, you know. He used to call me from his office every day, but that day he didn't call me, and I knew something was wrong. That's where they found him, in his office. He did it to himself. What will people say? I don't want people talking."

??
"Screw what people say, Dot," I said, walking her back to her porch. "That should be the last thing on your list of concerns."

??
"He was the love of my life," she sighed, "and I thought I was his. So many things to do, and I already did it all once. I woke up this morning and he was dead all over again," she repeated, her eyes pleading. "I didn't know a man could die twice."

??
Sometimes I wonder if crazy people are crazy because they're mercilessly attuned to everything, even thoughtless phone conversations a whole house away. In any case, that morning I got a glimpse of the inner prison where Dot must live. Her husband's death was the most painful thing she ever endured. She took a decade to get over it, only to succumb to Alzheimer's and forget she got over it. I stayed there a good while that morning, holding an old woman's hand, helping her live through the fresh agony of losing her husband, a man who had died twice.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to www.hollisgillespie.com."
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??
"You haven't heard?" I gasped. "Travis, poor thing, was anally raped by his prison inmates with a cafeteria table leg. He died the next day."

??
Travis doesn't always die the same way, and sometimes he doesn't die at all, but horrible things happen to him, over and over. "I'm sorry to be the first to tell you, but Travis died horribly in a grease fire." Sometimes Travis is not all the way dead yet. "You should go visit him in the hospital," I might advise. "Maybe he'll recognize you. The doctor said the late-stage syphilis has only eaten half his brain."

??
His friends might show some polite concern, until the lurid details emerge, then they hang up. I've decided Travis must be a crystal-meth dealer, because why else would his pussy friends all have unlisted numbers, and why else would they call him at all hours?

??
__I've had this__ cell number for a hundred years, so it's not that I innocently inherited the old number of this Travis guy. No. He plucked my number out of the air and is giving it to people he hopes to avoid, which is another reason he merits a painful death. "He was killed by an infected, ulcerated hemorrhoid," I might elaborate. "They've created a memorial fund. For more information, go to [http://www.travistheasstard.com/|www.travistheasstard.com]."

??
I started to feel bad when one girl burst into tears upon hearing the news. Of course, she could have been crying because her drug supply just dried up, but at that point I realized that prick Travis was blowing people off who actually gave a crap about him. "Don't feel bad," I consoled her. "The police found a huge cache of kiddie porn in his lean-to, so he deserved to die."

??
I got busted when one person called back and got a second rendition of Travis' death. "A man can't die twice," he hollered. I employed one of my best methods of defense, which was to impersonate my 85-year-old neighbor, Dot, who has Alzheimer's. This impersonation entails a lot of screaming. "I said I want my milk with my meal!" I bellowed again and again. It's a very effective ploy, and works against telemarketers, too.

??
The only problem is that the ruckus sometimes summons Dot to my door. She is a good neighbor, and when she hears screaming, dammit, she's gonna investigate. I wish I could say the same for when I hear screaming from her place, but the truth is I hear it so often it's just part of the background noise now. I like Dot, though. On her good days we joke about how we're gonna go get us some men. "I see some across the street right now," she'll cackle, pointing at the shirtless contractors working on a house that, until now, had been one of the few on our street that had accompanied ours among the unrenovated. "You go get 'em," she urges. "I'm too tired."

??
This wasn't one of Dot's good days, though. "My husband's dead," she sobbed, her eyes wild and searching. I nodded sympathetically. Dot's husband died more than 20 years ago. "I don't understand. I buried him 25 years ago, but I woke up this morning and he was dead all over again."

??
I invited her to come inside, sit on my new patio and have a cup of tea, but she declined. "I have so many things to do," she worried. "That man was the love of my life. How could he leave me like that? He did it to himself, you know. He used to call me from his office every day, but that day he didn't call me, and I knew something was wrong. That's where they found him, in his office. He did it to himself. What will people say? I don't want people talking."

??
"Screw what people say, Dot," I said, walking her back to her porch. "That should be the last thing on your list of concerns."

??
"He was the love of my life," she sighed, "and I thought I was his. So many things to do, and I already did it all once. I woke up this morning and he was dead all over again," she repeated, her eyes pleading. "I didn't know a man could die twice."

??
Sometimes I wonder if crazy people are crazy because they're mercilessly attuned to everything, even thoughtless phone conversations a whole house away. In any case, that morning I got a glimpse of the inner prison where Dot must live. Her husband's death was the most painful thing she ever endured. She took a decade to get over it, only to succumb to Alzheimer's and forget she got over it. I stayed there a good while that morning, holding an old woman's hand, helping her live through the fresh agony of losing her husband, a man who had died twice.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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??
"You haven't heard?" I gasped. "Travis, poor thing, was anally raped by his prison inmates with a cafeteria table leg. He died the next day."

??
Travis doesn't always die the same way, and sometimes he doesn't die at all, but horrible things happen to him, over and over. "I'm sorry to be the first to tell you, but Travis died horribly in a grease fire." Sometimes Travis is not all the way dead yet. "You should go visit him in the hospital," I might advise. "Maybe he'll recognize you. The doctor said the late-stage syphilis has only eaten half his brain."

??
His friends might show some polite concern, until the lurid details emerge, then they hang up. I've decided Travis must be a crystal-meth dealer, because why else would his pussy friends all have unlisted numbers, and why else would they call him at all hours?

??
I've had this cell number for a hundred years, so it's not that I innocently inherited the old number of this Travis guy. No. He plucked my number out of the air and is giving it to people he hopes to avoid, which is another reason he merits a painful death. "He was killed by an infected, ulcerated hemorrhoid," I might elaborate. "They've created a memorial fund. For more information, go to www.travistheasstard.com."

??
I started to feel bad when one girl burst into tears upon hearing the news. Of course, she could have been crying because her drug supply just dried up, but at that point I realized that prick Travis was blowing people off who actually gave a crap about him. "Don't feel bad," I consoled her. "The police found a huge cache of kiddie porn in his lean-to, so he deserved to die."

??
I got busted when one person called back and got a second rendition of Travis' death. "A man can't die twice," he hollered. I employed one of my best methods of defense, which was to impersonate my 85-year-old neighbor, Dot, who has Alzheimer's. This impersonation entails a lot of screaming. "I said I want my milk with my meal!" I bellowed again and again. It's a very effective ploy, and works against telemarketers, too.

??
The only problem is that the ruckus sometimes summons Dot to my door. She is a good neighbor, and when she hears screaming, dammit, she's gonna investigate. I wish I could say the same for when I hear screaming from her place, but the truth is I hear it so often it's just part of the background noise now. I like Dot, though. On her good days we joke about how we're gonna go get us some men. "I see some across the street right now," she'll cackle, pointing at the shirtless contractors working on a house that, until now, had been one of the few on our street that had accompanied ours among the unrenovated. "You go get 'em," she urges. "I'm too tired."

??
This wasn't one of Dot's good days, though. "My husband's dead," she sobbed, her eyes wild and searching. I nodded sympathetically. Dot's husband died more than 20 years ago. "I don't understand. I buried him 25 years ago, but I woke up this morning and he was dead all over again."

??
I invited her to come inside, sit on my new patio and have a cup of tea, but she declined. "I have so many things to do," she worried. "That man was the love of my life. How could he leave me like that? He did it to himself, you know. He used to call me from his office every day, but that day he didn't call me, and I knew something was wrong. That's where they found him, in his office. He did it to himself. What will people say? I don't want people talking."

??
"Screw what people say, Dot," I said, walking her back to her porch. "That should be the last thing on your list of concerns."

??
"He was the love of my life," she sighed, "and I thought I was his. So many things to do, and I already did it all once. I woke up this morning and he was dead all over again," she repeated, her eyes pleading. "I didn't know a man could die twice."

??
Sometimes I wonder if crazy people are crazy because they're mercilessly attuned to everything, even thoughtless phone conversations a whole house away. In any case, that morning I got a glimpse of the inner prison where Dot must live. Her husband's death was the most painful thing she ever endured. She took a decade to get over it, only to succumb to Alzheimer's and forget she got over it. I stayed there a good while that morning, holding an old woman's hand, helping her live through the fresh agony of losing her husband, a man who had died twice.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024571 1267478                          Moodswing - The man who died twice "
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Moodswing

Wednesday May 23, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Death doubled by wrong numbers and Alzheimer's | more...
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  string(4882) "Thank God Grant's brother Mike didn't die, that's all I have to say. Grant himself didn't seem all that alarmed by the message from his mother, which he received once we landed in Los Angeles, and which, Grant said, basically imparted the news that Mike had died, but the message alarmed the holy hell out of me.

??
I should have remembered it was relayed to me through Grant, who himself is given to exaggeration, which, on top of his own mother's flair for the dramatic, meant Mike was probably home nursing a hangnail, but still. Mike is our business manager, mine and Grant's, having guided us through the tricky waters of Hollywood to our present film deal, which is no small feat considering Grant and I are each as Hollywood-savvy as two retarded baboons. Plus, I am secretly in love with Mike, Mike being the nongay quasi-equivalent to Grant, minus the huge freckly head and bad eyesight, so you can't be joking around with me about that.

??
"Christ," I shrieked, "what the hell do you mean Mike died? You can't say that! What happened?"

??
I refused to unlock Grant's side of the rental car until he gave me an explanation, but that was no threat since we'd gotten another PT Cruiser, and this one, I swear to God, was the bright yellow of a bad urine specimen. Grant had already refused to set foot in it. It was bad enough, he said, that he had to drive to the airport in Atlanta with me that morning in my own PT Cruiser, which he ridicules as being parcel to my "lesbian taste," even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one, but now he is expected to drive through West Hollywood with me in this piss-colored car? "I don't think so," he said, shaking his head with the phone still stuck to his ear.

??
This is when I knew Mike didn't really die, because if his brother was really dead, even Grant would not have had the emotional stoniness to complain about the kind of car we got. So halle-goddam-lujah. Mike is the only brother out of all my friends' brothers who provides a decent foil for my secret affections. For example, Daniel's brother is more gay than Daniel is himself, if that's even possible, and Lary won't introduce me to his.

??
Still, though, we didn't really know what had happened to Mike, other than a message from Grant's mother who said he'd been rushed to the hospital. After Grant finally deigned to seat himself in the piss car, he started demon-dialing to discover what happened. Between leaving messages, he surmised that if Mike didn't make it, Grant could move to Colorado and commence helping his sister-in-law raise his nephew.

??
At this I thought, Lord Jesus God, let that man live. Not because Grant wouldn't make a decent father – on the contrary, his penchant for Mexican busboys aside, Grant is a great father, as evidenced by the perfectly normal and industrious daughter he sired and helped raise back in the day before he started having sex with men – but because if Grant moved to Colorado I would have a harder time haranguing him than usual, and my ability to harangue Grant is basically what gets me out of bed each morning.

??
But Grant, ever selfish, wasn't thinking of me, no. When he finally reached his brother he'd already figured out how he was going to step in and take over Mike's role in his Colorado household, right down to all the monkey sex he planned to have with his sister-in-law – because, really, make no mistake: Grant is not gay. That's just a rumor started by all the men he's slept with.

??
Mike, it turned out, had had pneumonia, which was exacerbated, I'm sure, by his inability to stop working. Even as Grant called to inquire as to his condition, Mike had his own inquiries about our trip to Los Angeles, because the fact is we would not even have been there if not for Mike. A few years ago, back when my first book came out, it was Mike, who owns his own media company, who brokered the film rights. It turns out a film project is a tricky process, and a half-dozen times at least I would have let it die on the vine like I hear so many of these things do, but Mike is the one who kept it alive. He is the one who navigated all the industry ministrations to the point where here we were again, in Hollywood, about to take another meeting at the Warner Bros. Studio.

??
Mike, sick as he was, talking to us from his hospital bed (probably), was characteristically more excited about our upcoming meeting than he was concerned about his own condition. "It's alive," he kept saying of our deal, sounding a little like Dr. Frankenstein. "It's alive!"

??
"Ask him how the hell he is," I shouted at Grant.

??
"He ain't gonna die," Grant hollered back at me.

??
He damn well better not die, I thought, because he's the guy who keeps things alive.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to www.hollisgillespie.com."
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  string(4932) "Thank God Grant's brother Mike didn't die, that's all I have to say. Grant himself didn't seem all that alarmed by the message from his mother, which he received once we landed in Los Angeles, and which, Grant said, basically imparted the news that Mike had died, but the message alarmed the holy hell out of me.

??
I should have remembered it was relayed to me through Grant, who himself is given to exaggeration, which, on top of his own mother's flair for the dramatic, meant Mike was probably home nursing a hangnail, but ''still''. Mike is our business manager, mine and Grant's, having guided us through the tricky waters of Hollywood to our present film deal, which is no small feat considering Grant and I are each as Hollywood-savvy as two retarded baboons. Plus, I am secretly in love with Mike, Mike being the nongay quasi-equivalent to Grant, minus the huge freckly head and bad eyesight, so you can't be joking around with me about that.

??
"Christ," I shrieked, "what the hell do you mean ''Mike died?'' You can't say that! What happened?"

??
I refused to unlock Grant's side of the rental car until he gave me an explanation, but that was no threat since we'd gotten another PT Cruiser, and this one, I swear to God, was the bright yellow of a bad urine specimen. Grant had already refused to set foot in it. It was bad enough, he said, that he had to drive to the airport in Atlanta with me that morning in my own PT Cruiser, which he ridicules as being parcel to my "lesbian taste," even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one, but now he is expected to drive through West Hollywood with me in this piss-colored car? "I don't think so," he said, shaking his head with the phone still stuck to his ear.

??
This is when I knew Mike didn't really die, because if his brother was really dead, even Grant would not have had the emotional stoniness to complain about the kind of car we got. So halle-goddam-lujah. Mike is the only brother out of all my friends' brothers who provides a decent foil for my secret affections. For example, Daniel's brother is more gay than Daniel is himself, if that's even possible, and Lary won't introduce me to his.

??
__Still, though,__ we didn't really know what had happened to Mike, other than a message from Grant's mother who said he'd been rushed to the hospital. After Grant finally deigned to seat himself in the piss car, he started demon-dialing to discover what happened. Between leaving messages, he surmised that if Mike didn't make it, Grant could move to Colorado and commence helping his sister-in-law raise his nephew.

??
At this I thought, Lord Jesus God, let that man live. Not because Grant wouldn't make a decent father – on the contrary, his penchant for Mexican busboys aside, Grant is a great father, as evidenced by the perfectly normal and industrious daughter he sired and helped raise back in the day before he started having sex with men – but because if Grant moved to Colorado I would have a harder time haranguing him than usual, and my ability to harangue Grant is basically what gets me out of bed each morning.

??
But Grant, ever selfish, wasn't thinking of me, no. When he finally reached his brother he'd already figured out how he was going to step in and take over Mike's role in his Colorado household, right down to all the monkey sex he planned to have with his sister-in-law – because, really, make no mistake: Grant is not gay. That's just a rumor started by all the men he's slept with.

??
Mike, it turned out, had had pneumonia, which was exacerbated, I'm sure, by his inability to stop working. Even as Grant called to inquire as to his condition, Mike had his own inquiries about our trip to Los Angeles, because the fact is we would not even have been there if not for Mike. A few years ago, back when my first book came out, it was Mike, who owns his own media company, who brokered the film rights. It turns out a film project is a tricky process, and a half-dozen times at least I would have let it die on the vine like I hear so many of these things do, but Mike is the one who kept it alive. He is the one who navigated all the industry ministrations to the point where here we were again, in Hollywood, about to take another meeting at the Warner Bros. Studio.

??
Mike, sick as he was, talking to us from his hospital bed (probably), was characteristically more excited about our upcoming meeting than he was concerned about his own condition. "It's alive," he kept saying of our deal, sounding a little like Dr. Frankenstein. "It's alive!"

??
"Ask him how the hell he is," I shouted at Grant.

??
"He ain't gonna die," Grant hollered back at me.

??
He damn well better not die, I thought, because he's the guy who keeps things alive.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5114) "    Who damn well better not die   2007-05-16T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - The useful brother   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-05-16T04:04:00+00:00  Thank God Grant's brother Mike didn't die, that's all I have to say. Grant himself didn't seem all that alarmed by the message from his mother, which he received once we landed in Los Angeles, and which, Grant said, basically imparted the news that Mike had died, but the message alarmed the holy hell out of me.

??
I should have remembered it was relayed to me through Grant, who himself is given to exaggeration, which, on top of his own mother's flair for the dramatic, meant Mike was probably home nursing a hangnail, but still. Mike is our business manager, mine and Grant's, having guided us through the tricky waters of Hollywood to our present film deal, which is no small feat considering Grant and I are each as Hollywood-savvy as two retarded baboons. Plus, I am secretly in love with Mike, Mike being the nongay quasi-equivalent to Grant, minus the huge freckly head and bad eyesight, so you can't be joking around with me about that.

??
"Christ," I shrieked, "what the hell do you mean Mike died? You can't say that! What happened?"

??
I refused to unlock Grant's side of the rental car until he gave me an explanation, but that was no threat since we'd gotten another PT Cruiser, and this one, I swear to God, was the bright yellow of a bad urine specimen. Grant had already refused to set foot in it. It was bad enough, he said, that he had to drive to the airport in Atlanta with me that morning in my own PT Cruiser, which he ridicules as being parcel to my "lesbian taste," even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one, but now he is expected to drive through West Hollywood with me in this piss-colored car? "I don't think so," he said, shaking his head with the phone still stuck to his ear.

??
This is when I knew Mike didn't really die, because if his brother was really dead, even Grant would not have had the emotional stoniness to complain about the kind of car we got. So halle-goddam-lujah. Mike is the only brother out of all my friends' brothers who provides a decent foil for my secret affections. For example, Daniel's brother is more gay than Daniel is himself, if that's even possible, and Lary won't introduce me to his.

??
Still, though, we didn't really know what had happened to Mike, other than a message from Grant's mother who said he'd been rushed to the hospital. After Grant finally deigned to seat himself in the piss car, he started demon-dialing to discover what happened. Between leaving messages, he surmised that if Mike didn't make it, Grant could move to Colorado and commence helping his sister-in-law raise his nephew.

??
At this I thought, Lord Jesus God, let that man live. Not because Grant wouldn't make a decent father – on the contrary, his penchant for Mexican busboys aside, Grant is a great father, as evidenced by the perfectly normal and industrious daughter he sired and helped raise back in the day before he started having sex with men – but because if Grant moved to Colorado I would have a harder time haranguing him than usual, and my ability to harangue Grant is basically what gets me out of bed each morning.

??
But Grant, ever selfish, wasn't thinking of me, no. When he finally reached his brother he'd already figured out how he was going to step in and take over Mike's role in his Colorado household, right down to all the monkey sex he planned to have with his sister-in-law – because, really, make no mistake: Grant is not gay. That's just a rumor started by all the men he's slept with.

??
Mike, it turned out, had had pneumonia, which was exacerbated, I'm sure, by his inability to stop working. Even as Grant called to inquire as to his condition, Mike had his own inquiries about our trip to Los Angeles, because the fact is we would not even have been there if not for Mike. A few years ago, back when my first book came out, it was Mike, who owns his own media company, who brokered the film rights. It turns out a film project is a tricky process, and a half-dozen times at least I would have let it die on the vine like I hear so many of these things do, but Mike is the one who kept it alive. He is the one who navigated all the industry ministrations to the point where here we were again, in Hollywood, about to take another meeting at the Warner Bros. Studio.

??
Mike, sick as he was, talking to us from his hospital bed (probably), was characteristically more excited about our upcoming meeting than he was concerned about his own condition. "It's alive," he kept saying of our deal, sounding a little like Dr. Frankenstein. "It's alive!"

??
"Ask him how the hell he is," I shouted at Grant.

??
"He ain't gonna die," Grant hollered back at me.

??
He damn well better not die, I thought, because he's the guy who keeps things alive.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024519 1267364                          Moodswing - The useful brother "
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Moodswing

Wednesday May 16, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Who damn well better not die | more...
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  string(4985) "I don't remember much about my first-grade teacher except that she had a sweaty neck, yelled a lot and used to throw chalk at us. The year before, as a kindergartner, I could hear her screaming at her classroom all the way from across the blacktop, and I'd marvel at how loud the lady with the damp yellow bob could holler. The next year, when I walked into class on my first day of first grade and realized she would be my teacher, I tried not to grimace. I tried mightily to keep a straight face as I slouched toward my seat, but my face was as transparent as the promise of a politician. It wasn't long before my snarky towhead became the primary target for flying chalk pieces.

??
I'm remembering this because my girl Mae is in first grade, and yesterday she brought home her weekly behavior report, which is usually a glowing testimony to her future as a national ambassador or something, or at least that's what I think, inasmuch as a series of smiley faces could be interpreted as testimony. Yesterday, though, I learned there was actually a repertoire of faces used to merit a child's behavior in my daughter's first-grade class, among them straight faces. "What's with all these straight faces on your behavior report?" I asked. All of a sudden my daughter's face, which is itself usually smiley, stopped to stare at me with eyes as large as lunar surfaces, her lip quivering, her lashes suddenly balancing two perfect teardrops like large liquid diamonds. This, folks, is my daughter's guilty face.

??
Her explanation, punctuated by precision-timed minisobs, basically laid the blame on a collection of culprits that included, but was not limited to, everyone else in the world, including Spider-Man.

??
I knew she was waffling, but really, I thought to myself, they're just straight faces. It's not like they're frowny faces, God forbid she ever got a frowny face. If she ever brought home a frowny face I might as well learn iPhoto right now so I could airbrush the prison tats out of our future family photographs. Then, in the middle of my own inner waffling, I heard her mention something about pushing a classmate by the "owl-pellet table."

??
First, an owl pellet is a dry wad of indigestible animal parts that has been regurgitated out the gizzard of an owl, and they're full of little bones and teeth and beaks and feathers and other awesome things kids love. Seriously, nothing is cooler to a first-grader than a big chunk of dried-out bird vomit, which might explain the eagerness with which the class gathered around the table, and might explain why my child pushed another child, and might explain why I thought for a few nanoseconds that kids will be kids and let's all go on with our straight-faced little lives as though nothing happened.

??
But I remembered an incident I witnessed on a train when I lived in Zurich back when I was in my 20s and never thought I'd have kids at all, let alone care about straight faces. There were only four of us in the tram, including a mother with her 3-year-old and a green-haired heroin addict covered in so many piercings it looked like his lips alone had been impaled by the contents of an entire tool box. I sat behind the mother and kept peeking with trepidation at the drug addict behind me so I could make sure to duck in case he had a mind to unzip his pants and commence urinating.

??
But it was the 3-year-old who was the hoodlum. The little monster kept head-butting me from over his mother's own shoulder. At first I said nothing, because surely she would do something to control him, but instead she simply cooed at him with soothing German murmurings that had all the effect of a gnat's attempt to stop a Mack truck. Then, get this, the boy spit on me. It was a sizeable loogy that landed right at the corner of my mouth.

??
Of course I had to say something, so I did, expecting the mother to, at the very least, throw the troll out the train window in admonishment or something. But surprisingly, she simply looked at me with the eyes of a bovine and said, "I don't believe in conventional discipline."

??
I was agog. What else could I be? Then the train stopped, and the heroin addict rose from his seat to leave, but before departing he stopped to stand beside us. I commenced cowering, until thankfully his glare settled on the mother in front of me, and then – I swear this is true – he spit in her face.

??
"My parents," he growled as he turned to leave, "didn't believe in conventional discipline either."

??
So yesterday I made sure my daughter apologized to those she wronged. She continued to work the quiver-lipped and moony-eyed angle, hoping to turn me to her side, but in response – just as it was that time on the train all those years ago – I remained surprisingly resolute, considering the fact that it was all I could do to keep a straight face.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to www.hollisgillespie.com."
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??
I'm remembering this because my girl Mae is in first grade, and yesterday she brought home her weekly behavior report, which is usually a glowing testimony to her future as a national ambassador or something, or at least that's what I think, inasmuch as a series of smiley faces could be interpreted as testimony. Yesterday, though, I learned there was actually a repertoire of faces used to merit a child's behavior in my daughter's first-grade class, among them straight faces. "What's with all these straight faces on your behavior report?" I asked. All of a sudden my daughter's face, which is itself usually smiley, stopped to stare at me with eyes as large as lunar surfaces, her lip quivering, her lashes suddenly balancing two perfect teardrops like large liquid diamonds. This, folks, is my daughter's guilty face.

??
Her explanation, punctuated by precision-timed minisobs, basically laid the blame on a collection of culprits that included, but was not limited to, everyone else in the world, including Spider-Man.

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__I knew__ she was waffling, but really, I thought to myself, they're just straight faces. It's not like they're frowny faces, God forbid she ever got a frowny face. If she ever brought home a frowny face I might as well learn iPhoto right now so I could airbrush the prison tats out of our future family photographs. Then, in the middle of my own inner waffling, I heard her mention something about pushing a classmate by the "owl-pellet table."

??
First, an owl pellet is a dry wad of indigestible animal parts that has been regurgitated out the gizzard of an owl, and they're full of little bones and teeth and beaks and feathers and other awesome things kids love. Seriously, nothing is cooler to a first-grader than a big chunk of dried-out bird vomit, which might explain the eagerness with which the class gathered around the table, and might explain why my child pushed another child, and might explain why I thought for a few nanoseconds that kids will be kids and let's all go on with our straight-faced little lives as though nothing happened.

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??
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??
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??
I was agog. What else could I be? Then the train stopped, and the heroin addict rose from his seat to leave, but before departing he stopped to stand beside us. I commenced cowering, until thankfully his glare settled on the mother in front of me, and then – I swear this is true – ''he spit in her face.''

??
''"My parents," he growled as he turned to leave, "didn't believe in conventional discipline either."''

??
So yesterday I made sure my daughter apologized to those she wronged. She continued to work the quiver-lipped and moony-eyed angle, hoping to turn me to her side, but in response – just as it was that time on the train all those years ago – I remained surprisingly resolute, considering the fact that it was all I could do to keep a straight face.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5229) "    Going loogy for loogy on a tram in Switzerland   2007-05-09T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - A straight face   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-05-09T04:04:00+00:00  I don't remember much about my first-grade teacher except that she had a sweaty neck, yelled a lot and used to throw chalk at us. The year before, as a kindergartner, I could hear her screaming at her classroom all the way from across the blacktop, and I'd marvel at how loud the lady with the damp yellow bob could holler. The next year, when I walked into class on my first day of first grade and realized she would be my teacher, I tried not to grimace. I tried mightily to keep a straight face as I slouched toward my seat, but my face was as transparent as the promise of a politician. It wasn't long before my snarky towhead became the primary target for flying chalk pieces.

??
I'm remembering this because my girl Mae is in first grade, and yesterday she brought home her weekly behavior report, which is usually a glowing testimony to her future as a national ambassador or something, or at least that's what I think, inasmuch as a series of smiley faces could be interpreted as testimony. Yesterday, though, I learned there was actually a repertoire of faces used to merit a child's behavior in my daughter's first-grade class, among them straight faces. "What's with all these straight faces on your behavior report?" I asked. All of a sudden my daughter's face, which is itself usually smiley, stopped to stare at me with eyes as large as lunar surfaces, her lip quivering, her lashes suddenly balancing two perfect teardrops like large liquid diamonds. This, folks, is my daughter's guilty face.

??
Her explanation, punctuated by precision-timed minisobs, basically laid the blame on a collection of culprits that included, but was not limited to, everyone else in the world, including Spider-Man.

??
I knew she was waffling, but really, I thought to myself, they're just straight faces. It's not like they're frowny faces, God forbid she ever got a frowny face. If she ever brought home a frowny face I might as well learn iPhoto right now so I could airbrush the prison tats out of our future family photographs. Then, in the middle of my own inner waffling, I heard her mention something about pushing a classmate by the "owl-pellet table."

??
First, an owl pellet is a dry wad of indigestible animal parts that has been regurgitated out the gizzard of an owl, and they're full of little bones and teeth and beaks and feathers and other awesome things kids love. Seriously, nothing is cooler to a first-grader than a big chunk of dried-out bird vomit, which might explain the eagerness with which the class gathered around the table, and might explain why my child pushed another child, and might explain why I thought for a few nanoseconds that kids will be kids and let's all go on with our straight-faced little lives as though nothing happened.

??
But I remembered an incident I witnessed on a train when I lived in Zurich back when I was in my 20s and never thought I'd have kids at all, let alone care about straight faces. There were only four of us in the tram, including a mother with her 3-year-old and a green-haired heroin addict covered in so many piercings it looked like his lips alone had been impaled by the contents of an entire tool box. I sat behind the mother and kept peeking with trepidation at the drug addict behind me so I could make sure to duck in case he had a mind to unzip his pants and commence urinating.

??
But it was the 3-year-old who was the hoodlum. The little monster kept head-butting me from over his mother's own shoulder. At first I said nothing, because surely she would do something to control him, but instead she simply cooed at him with soothing German murmurings that had all the effect of a gnat's attempt to stop a Mack truck. Then, get this, the boy spit on me. It was a sizeable loogy that landed right at the corner of my mouth.

??
Of course I had to say something, so I did, expecting the mother to, at the very least, throw the troll out the train window in admonishment or something. But surprisingly, she simply looked at me with the eyes of a bovine and said, "I don't believe in conventional discipline."

??
I was agog. What else could I be? Then the train stopped, and the heroin addict rose from his seat to leave, but before departing he stopped to stand beside us. I commenced cowering, until thankfully his glare settled on the mother in front of me, and then – I swear this is true – he spit in her face.

??
"My parents," he growled as he turned to leave, "didn't believe in conventional discipline either."

??
So yesterday I made sure my daughter apologized to those she wronged. She continued to work the quiver-lipped and moony-eyed angle, hoping to turn me to her side, but in response – just as it was that time on the train all those years ago – I remained surprisingly resolute, considering the fact that it was all I could do to keep a straight face.

??
Hollis Gillespie is founder of the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. For more information go to www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024504 1267342                          Moodswing - A straight face "
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Moodswing

Wednesday May 9, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Going loogy for loogy on a tram in Switzerland | more...
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  string(4942) "I can't pinpoint the exact time when my sister, Kim, got right with God, except to say that maybe she always was. It's true that she never seemed to go through that phase where she did drugs and fucked around like her other sisters — me, admittedly, and my older sister, Cheryl, not so admittedly — but it's not like Kim carried a Bible around and spouted Scripture, either.

??
For one, if she did that my mother might have parked a rollaway bed on the balcony and demanded she live out there until it was time for her to attend college. It was tough enough, I know, for my atheist mother while we were young, when my dad would belt one too many Budweisers and break open the hefty children's Bible we still kept hidden in the bottom drawer of the big room divider. He'd insist we gather around and then read to us from it in his James Earl Jones voice. My mother would attempt to save us by distracting him after a few minutes with the sound of air escaping from another can of opened beer, and it usually worked, but sometimes not. Sometimes he would go on and on, hyperpronouncing the "d" in "God" so the word sounded like it had two syllables: Gow-duh!

??
But maybe some of the Bible stuff got through to us. Personally, I can't say it really manifested itself any further than the fact that, as a child, I was terrified little devils would take an elevator to the underside of my coffin after I died, grab my dead heathen ass and perform cunnilingus on me for all of eternity. Looking back, that hardly paints a picture of hell, but what did I know except that, as a 7-year-old, I somehow got it in my head that Satan's minions spent a lot of time performing oral sex on people. As I got older, my fears became less fun and more sophisticated, and I began to dread the day Rapture happened and my good sister would get sucked up to heaven and leave me alone with the pagan flotsam that comprised the rest of my family.

??
Because try as I might — and truthfully, I didn't try that hard — I was never as good as my good sister. She seemed to have been born with an abundance of intelligence and integrity, and maybe we're all born with this, I don't know, and maybe it's a matter of simply keeping it intact, as if that were so simple, but whatever it is, my sister had it and I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I never agonized about this beyond the thought that, if there were to be the big prophesized divide one day between good and evil, Kim would be on one side of it and I'd be on the other, and I'd miss her.

??
So, you know, over the years – and it's really hard for me to admit this – I've actually, I swear this is true, taken steps to become a better person. Not tons of steps. Like I don't give handouts to junkies who knock on my door, and I still flip off the crack addict who pretends to collect donations for the deaf at the intersection near my house, and I'm still completely open to the idea of copious premarital sex, but I've willingly gone to church a few times over the past few years – seriously, I did – though I had to discontinue that when my favorite pastor left to open a coffeehouse in Decatur.

??
I thought about going with my sister to hers, but she lives eight hours away and I've met her pastor, when I attended a church play in which my niece played a part, and this was a man who looked like he would pronounce "God" with two syllables. Plus, the only Bible I own was given to me by Grant, who had inscribed across the front, in big letters outlined in red-and-yellow oil paint, "Nothing Harder Than a Preacher's Dick," and Kim's congregation doesn't look to be the kind to appreciate that kind of humor.

??
Kim herself, though, doesn't judge. When we were kids, I was the runt of the family, and she was bigger than me even though I was older than her. My other siblings routinely used me as a kid-shaped kickball, and Kim could have easily followed suit. Instead she kept to herself and read, or played cards with her stuffed animals, or interacted with her other imaginary acquaintances, which I'm sure were kinder than her siblings, including me. Usually after I'd sustained a losing battle of some kind, I'd drag my crying, scratched and pummeled hide to sit outside Kim's bedroom and listen to her talk to her stuffed animals, sweetly teaching them what our mother taught us, like how to double down on a 10 when the dealer is showing a six, among other nuggets of wisdom.

??
These days I still think about the divide between good and bad that I thought separated us, and I've come a long way since I used to sit, defeated, outside little sister's door just to hear her voice. For one, I realize I switched to her side not because I always thought I was a bad person and needed to change, but because she always thought I was a good person and never asked me to.

??
Hollis Gillespie is the author of two acclaimed books. Her website is www.hollisgillespie.com."
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??
For one, if she did that my mother might have parked a rollaway bed on the balcony and demanded she live out there until it was time for her to attend college. It was tough enough, I know, for my atheist mother while we were young, when my dad would belt one too many Budweisers and break open the hefty children's Bible we still kept hidden in the bottom drawer of the big room divider. He'd insist we gather around and then read to us from it in his James Earl Jones voice. My mother would attempt to save us by distracting him after a few minutes with the sound of air escaping from another can of opened beer, and it usually worked, but sometimes not. Sometimes he would go on and on, hyperpronouncing the "d" in "God" so the word sounded like it had two syllables: ''Gow-duh!''

??
But maybe some of the Bible stuff got through to us. Personally, I can't say it really manifested itself any further than the fact that, as a child, I was terrified little devils would take an elevator to the underside of my coffin after I died, grab my dead heathen ass and perform cunnilingus on me for all of eternity. Looking back, that hardly paints a picture of hell, but what did I know except that, as a 7-year-old, I somehow got it in my head that Satan's minions spent a lot of time performing oral sex on people. As I got older, my fears became less fun and more sophisticated, and I began to dread the day Rapture happened and my good sister would get sucked up to heaven and leave me alone with the pagan flotsam that comprised the rest of my family.

??
__Because try__ as I might -- and truthfully, I didn't try that hard -- I was never as good as my good sister. She seemed to have been born with an abundance of intelligence and integrity, and maybe we're all born with this, I don't know, and maybe it's a matter of simply keeping it intact, as if that were so simple, but whatever it is, my sister had it and I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I never agonized about this beyond the thought that, if there were to be the big prophesized divide one day between good and evil, Kim would be on one side of it and I'd be on the other, and I'd miss her.

??
So, you know, over the years – and it's really hard for me to admit this – I've actually, I swear this is true, taken steps to become a better person. Not tons of steps. Like I don't give handouts to junkies who knock on my door, and I still flip off the crack addict who pretends to collect donations for the deaf at the intersection near my house, and I'm still completely open to the idea of copious premarital sex, but I've willingly gone to church a few times over the past few years – seriously, I did – though I had to discontinue that when my favorite pastor left to open a coffeehouse in Decatur.

??
I thought about going with my sister to hers, but she lives eight hours away and I've met her pastor, when I attended a church play in which my niece played a part, and this was a man who looked like he would pronounce "God" with two syllables. Plus, the only Bible I own was given to me by Grant, who had inscribed across the front, in big letters outlined in red-and-yellow oil paint, "Nothing Harder Than a Preacher's Dick," and Kim's congregation doesn't look to be the kind to appreciate that kind of humor.

??
Kim herself, though, doesn't judge. When we were kids, I was the runt of the family, and she was bigger than me even though I was older than her. My other siblings routinely used me as a kid-shaped kickball, and Kim could have easily followed suit. Instead she kept to herself and read, or played cards with her stuffed animals, or interacted with her other imaginary acquaintances, which I'm sure were kinder than her siblings, including me. Usually after I'd sustained a losing battle of some kind, I'd drag my crying, scratched and pummeled hide to sit outside Kim's bedroom and listen to her talk to her stuffed animals, sweetly teaching them what our mother taught us, like how to double down on a 10 when the dealer is showing a six, among other nuggets of wisdom.

??
These days I still think about the divide between good and bad that I thought separated us, and I've come a long way since I used to sit, defeated, outside little sister's door just to hear her voice. For one, I realize I switched to her side not because I always thought I was a bad person and needed to change, but because she always thought I was a good person and never asked me to.

??
''Hollis Gillespie is the author of two acclaimed books. Her website is [http://www.hollisgillespie.com/|www.hollisgillespie.com].''"
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  string(5199) "    Crossing the divide between good and evil   2007-05-02T04:04:00+00:00 Moodswing - The understanding sister   Hollis Gillespie 1223585 2007-05-02T04:04:00+00:00  I can't pinpoint the exact time when my sister, Kim, got right with God, except to say that maybe she always was. It's true that she never seemed to go through that phase where she did drugs and fucked around like her other sisters — me, admittedly, and my older sister, Cheryl, not so admittedly — but it's not like Kim carried a Bible around and spouted Scripture, either.

??
For one, if she did that my mother might have parked a rollaway bed on the balcony and demanded she live out there until it was time for her to attend college. It was tough enough, I know, for my atheist mother while we were young, when my dad would belt one too many Budweisers and break open the hefty children's Bible we still kept hidden in the bottom drawer of the big room divider. He'd insist we gather around and then read to us from it in his James Earl Jones voice. My mother would attempt to save us by distracting him after a few minutes with the sound of air escaping from another can of opened beer, and it usually worked, but sometimes not. Sometimes he would go on and on, hyperpronouncing the "d" in "God" so the word sounded like it had two syllables: Gow-duh!

??
But maybe some of the Bible stuff got through to us. Personally, I can't say it really manifested itself any further than the fact that, as a child, I was terrified little devils would take an elevator to the underside of my coffin after I died, grab my dead heathen ass and perform cunnilingus on me for all of eternity. Looking back, that hardly paints a picture of hell, but what did I know except that, as a 7-year-old, I somehow got it in my head that Satan's minions spent a lot of time performing oral sex on people. As I got older, my fears became less fun and more sophisticated, and I began to dread the day Rapture happened and my good sister would get sucked up to heaven and leave me alone with the pagan flotsam that comprised the rest of my family.

??
Because try as I might — and truthfully, I didn't try that hard — I was never as good as my good sister. She seemed to have been born with an abundance of intelligence and integrity, and maybe we're all born with this, I don't know, and maybe it's a matter of simply keeping it intact, as if that were so simple, but whatever it is, my sister had it and I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I never agonized about this beyond the thought that, if there were to be the big prophesized divide one day between good and evil, Kim would be on one side of it and I'd be on the other, and I'd miss her.

??
So, you know, over the years – and it's really hard for me to admit this – I've actually, I swear this is true, taken steps to become a better person. Not tons of steps. Like I don't give handouts to junkies who knock on my door, and I still flip off the crack addict who pretends to collect donations for the deaf at the intersection near my house, and I'm still completely open to the idea of copious premarital sex, but I've willingly gone to church a few times over the past few years – seriously, I did – though I had to discontinue that when my favorite pastor left to open a coffeehouse in Decatur.

??
I thought about going with my sister to hers, but she lives eight hours away and I've met her pastor, when I attended a church play in which my niece played a part, and this was a man who looked like he would pronounce "God" with two syllables. Plus, the only Bible I own was given to me by Grant, who had inscribed across the front, in big letters outlined in red-and-yellow oil paint, "Nothing Harder Than a Preacher's Dick," and Kim's congregation doesn't look to be the kind to appreciate that kind of humor.

??
Kim herself, though, doesn't judge. When we were kids, I was the runt of the family, and she was bigger than me even though I was older than her. My other siblings routinely used me as a kid-shaped kickball, and Kim could have easily followed suit. Instead she kept to herself and read, or played cards with her stuffed animals, or interacted with her other imaginary acquaintances, which I'm sure were kinder than her siblings, including me. Usually after I'd sustained a losing battle of some kind, I'd drag my crying, scratched and pummeled hide to sit outside Kim's bedroom and listen to her talk to her stuffed animals, sweetly teaching them what our mother taught us, like how to double down on a 10 when the dealer is showing a six, among other nuggets of wisdom.

??
These days I still think about the divide between good and bad that I thought separated us, and I've come a long way since I used to sit, defeated, outside little sister's door just to hear her voice. For one, I realize I switched to her side not because I always thought I was a bad person and needed to change, but because she always thought I was a good person and never asked me to.

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Hollis Gillespie is the author of two acclaimed books. Her website is www.hollisgillespie.com.             13024402 1267118                          Moodswing - The understanding sister "
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Moodswing

Wednesday May 2, 2007 12:04 am EDT
Crossing the divide between good and evil | more...