Whoo, just finished a local 20K and have time to sneak in a nap and some LJ before work. It was a fairly brutal run, given the recent unpleasantness with my knee, which means this is the longest I've run at a stretch for six weeks or so. But I took it ridiculously slowly--as in, 10:35/mile--which was boring but didn't result in pain. And then I ate curry!

A meme that keeps circulating and is always fun:

1 - Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

[livejournal.com profile] lassiterfics asked me the following:

Sex, Drugs, and organic unsweetened gluten-free cereal )
Apparently, I should have started watching Leverage like 8.5 billion years ago. I am halfway through the first season and freaking out at how good it is and how it has some of my favorite actors ever and how I nevertheless managed to totally miss it when it came out. Seriously: Timothy Hutton, Aldis Hodge, Christian freaking Kane, and I have not been watching this show?

Okay, so I was finishing a BA/starting my MA and working full time, but that is no excuse.

It does make me wonder: why is there not a ton of Parker/Hardison fic? Because wow. (Also, I am not used to shipping sort of canonical--as in, not gay for each other because there aren't alternatives--pairings. It's rather refreshing.)

Does anyone else watch this? Are you also wowed by the awesome? Is there a fandom for it?

I am totally not watching this show to procrastinate on figuring out how to wrap up my remix fic. At all.
1. Spending way too much time on Wikipedia playing with ideas for my remix fic. I am so excited about it, so of course I am procrastinating like crazy and writing 200 words at a time before looking for some detail like average rainfall in a certain place at a certain time of year (*poker face*) and then looking at pictures of Mt. Etna and reminiscing about volcanoes and ash clouds (you guys think this Iceland thing is bad, try living in a place where it rains sand for serious), which leads to research on the various types of volcanoes, which leads to reading about Romans, and yeah.

2. Falling HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE with Justified. (You can also find it on hulu, which I find to be a nicer, more browser-friendly way to watch.) I love Timothy Olyphant, and therefore Raylan Givens. I love Elmore Leonard for giving him to us. I love every single supporting character. I love the south, and the way come morning in Kentucky, the fog curling and the cicadas warming to the day hot already, it's like the land knows you're there and doesn't mind much.

3. Slinging drinks. And burgers. And, when it gets to be late-night and there's no one out in the stupid Wisconsin spring drizzle, doing plenty of crosswords. And remix plotting. And re-reading Dante's Inferno for a John/Mary fic that I really really want to write but that I haven't done anything but sketch out, because I have very little time right now, what with remix and watching Justified like a million times so I can get the character voices right for fic I am not writing. *cough*

4. Being my usual excitable self.

open letter

Apr. 9th, 2010 12:51 pm
Dear Show,

I love you, I really do. We've been through our ups and downs, had our squabbles and some awesome conciliatory funtimes, agreed and disagreed, spent some time apart and come back together better for it.

Sometimes, though, and I am dead serious about this, I sort of want to put out a restraining order on you.

I'm not even going to get into what made me angry/defensive/let down about this episode. It certainly had its moments, and some of those moments were gorgeous or hilarious and reminded me why I sit down and devote swaths of my life to this odd pastime of fandom. But some of those moments were like watching your parents fight, or listening to your boss tell you you'll never be as good at your job as the man you replaced, or having to walk home with your keys in one hand and pepper spray in the other, just because you were born with the ability to carry another generation of humanity.

You have a devoted following of people who come here and together because you have inspired love: semi-irrational, deep-seated love for this world and its people.

That's not something you shrug off, not something you throw away. With all your discussion of faith, and the deep, gutting place that is faith lost, you of all entities should understand.

Love (because yes, still, love, even through deep disappointment),


P.S. To the rest of you: our show sometimes fails at women (surprise!) So, go claim a [livejournal.com profile] spnwomen_kink prompt, fire up the word processor, kick some ass, and take some names.
Title: A Pathless Land
Author: [livejournal.com profile] xaara
Rating: G, gen
Timeline: post-5.16 (vague spoilers)
Characters: Castiel (Dean, Sam)
Summary: From this distance, the earth curves like a solitary marble, rolled into a corner and forgotten.

A Pathless Land )
It's not winter any more in Wisconsin, which means it's spider season. While I love my semi-rural adopted state with all its corn fields and lakes and cranberries, I could do without the daily spider patrol. Of course, the cat helps out, but then I have to be worried that she'll eat something poisonous, and overall it's not so fun.

I feel like it would go faster if I could kill them instead of having to do a patented catch-and-release routine that returns them to their natural habitat, but I am incapable of killing anything that isn't a house centipede.

This is beside the point.

The point is that I am in love with this whole Castiel-centric commentfic festival right now, to the point where I have written one 1000-word thing one 1500-word thing (that is TOTALLY NOT RPF about Castiel protecting Misha Collins-one-of-the-66-seals) because why write a short thing when I could instead write 2500 words of UNREPENTANT CRACK?

Yeah, I thought so.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] lassiterfics posted a prompt that was four words long (to wit: "Intrepid investigative journalist AU!") and has spawned a rather long, rather serious, and still-developing story about Dean the reporter, Castiel his best friend/also reporter, Sam his brother who is a lawyer working a pro bono case on behalf of some residents of a housing development who are determined to reveal a coverup, and Uriel the Landlord. There's angst! There's drama! There's dashing romance! There's probably a very Bullitt car chase!

Someday, anyway.


I am reposting both commentfics here in the interests of having everything I've written under my spn fic tag, but really you should not read them. Instead, you should go join the party and write more so I can read it and squee and abuse capslock.

Chaos; Dean, Sam, Castiel (gen); PG-13 (language and gore); no spoilers )

Gotta Break a Few Eggs; Misha, Castiel (gen); PG; no spoilers )

last call

Mar. 18th, 2010 03:52 pm
I've been fiddling around with a few fics lately, gen stuff, some set in season two, some in season five, and an AU of Lucifer Rising tentatively titled "Sam Listens to Dean For Once in his Goddamn Life; Also Dean Doesn't Act Like an Ass, and There's This Angel Dude."

However, I keep getting distracted. I keep getting distracted, because the story I want to tell and can't figure out how, the story that is really getting to me this season (and last, actually), is Dean's drinking.

In the spirit of full [tmi] disclosure, I have quite a bit of experience with drinkers. I work at a bar. My last boyfriend was a bartender; the one before that was a (now-recovering) alcoholic. My best friend is a recovering alcoholic. For about four months following one really, really bad breakup, I was mostly either drunk or hungover, until I realized that I could go one of two directions: down, or up.

Bearing that in mind, watching Dean's drinking intensify over the last couple of seasons has been an uncomfortable experience. I desperately want Bobby or Sam to notice openly, to say something, but aside from a few offhand comments here and there, they don't seem to think it's that big a deal.

It's a big fucking deal. Here's what it's like to be a high-functioning alcoholic: you wake up because your blood sugar drops dramatically, disoriented and slightly nauseous. You get out of bed resolving that this is the morning you're going to drink just water and maybe a little juice. Then, you think it can't be that bad to pour a shot of whiskey into your coffee, because it'll make you feel better. It does make you feel better. It takes the edge off your headache, and gives you a slight buzz, because you're so dehydrated that anything would get you buzzed right now. You fight to clear your head, and after a while you have a sort of gentle awareness of the world around you. It's like reining your brain in so it goes from functioning like a modern computer to functioning like an abacus, capable of doing only things that make solid, tangible sense in the solid, tangible present. You eat some cereal for breakfast, take a shower, and are careful to brush your teeth, despite the fact that the taste of toothpaste makes your stomach heave.

You go through the day on autopilot, and by the time you're done with your obligations (you've probably had a beer or two with lunch) you decide it's time to kick back with a movie and a glass of whiskey. And another. And a third. By ten, you're drunk and tired and just want to pass out, or you're out with friends just getting started on the real drinking of the night. Either way, you pass out--you don't sleep, not really, not with all that alcohol clogging up your body--and you wake up the next day, suddenly, and your mouth tastes like you licked a bar rag and you think, Man, I could use a screwdriver about now.

It's not romantic. It's not fun. It's painful, and disgusting, and alienating. You drink to get away from what's bothering you (in my case, grief and anger and loneliness; in Dean's, well, grief and anger and loneliness), but because the alcohol dulls your mind's ability to multitask, you end up unable to focus on anything else. So you drink more, because if you drink enough, eventually you'll pass out and you won't have to think about anything.

This is a liability at the best of times. When you're drinking consistently (even if it's not much--it doesn't have to be much), you lose the ability to create mental hierarchies. You're chronically sleep-deprived. Your reaction time and decision-making skills are moot points. It takes ages to process new information, and even important things like names and faces and remembering to call your mom on her birthday just sort of slide away.

Dean's not in the best of times. He's in the middle of the capital-A Apocalypse. He can't think straight; his body is breaking down and betraying him. His reflexes aren't what he's used to, and his fine motor skills, especially new ones, ones he doesn't know like the back of his hand, are suffering. Mostly, though, his friends and his family, people who need to sit him down and say something, treat it like a minor issue. The show's writers seem unsure of whether to play it as a joke or just ignore it altogether, but they've written themselves into his mess and need to acknowledge it's there.

I don't want there to be some sort of Intervention! episode. I understand that hunters, like most men and women who work grueling, unappreciated jobs, often end the day with a glass of the closest hard stuff. I think it's unrealistic for Dean to quit drinking, but I also think it's unrealistic for him to continue at his current pace without serious, potentially deadly, side effects.

So yeah. I want to address that. In a way that doesn't send people running for the hills, since it's not exactly a lighthearted topic, and I'm not sure I'm capable of treating it in any way except extremely seriously. I want the show to take responsibility for the characters it's created, and their choices. If you choose to set a series in Modern America+Monsters, you are obligated to address the problems inherent in the setting. Dean's drinking, like that of lonely, desperate people around the world, is not cute and not funny. It deserves far more nuanced, careful, and responsible writing than I've seen so far, if only in deference to those of us who see him unscrew the cap on his flask and take a swig to steady his nerves and feel a sympathetic burn right below the sternum where we've tried the same medicine.
Yesterday, I made seitan, curried pumpkin seeds, homemade Larabars, and experimental millet-oat-date cookies.

Making seitan is always a kind of gross and squishy procedure (think wet brains), but it's worth it in the end, when you magically transform about $3 of food into something that would cost you more like $20 at the grocery. Plus, delicious.

Anyway. As I was indulging my inner foodie, I started wondering about this podfic thing. It's new to me, since I haven't been around in a few years, but it sounds interesting. Two points for the pun! Seriously, though, I do a lot of distance running, which means I spend 8+ hours a week out on the road with nothing but my iPod to keep me company. I've grown a little weary of my music collection, and of my iPod thinking it's clever and lining up sequences like Separate Ways-Because the Night-Barbie Girl-Shooting Shark-Unchained. (Someday love will find you because the night is made for lovers, fantastically created in plastic which lights up the sky. Also, that suit is you.) Yeah, my iPod is a little annoying sometimes.

So: podfics. I'm looking for fics about 30-90 minutes long, and I'm not too picky about content as long as they're interesting, clear, and well-written. Any recommendations?
Back in the day, I was talking to my poetry professor. (It was one of the conversations we had that was actually about poetry instead of gardening, which turned out to be our other shared passion.) I told him that I couldn't hear my prose. I thought it was okay, but I wasn't ever sure.

That's because you're a poet, he said, and shrugged, and we went back to discussing how to use the metric ton of grape tomatoes our vines had yielded that year.

I didn't know what he meant until I wrote this, which turned out to be a lullaby, a long-form sonnet, a love song. Or, y'know, 400 words of pretentious iambic prose, complete with alliteration and internal rhyme. I've read it out loud a million times, I have a sore throat, and I'm done trying to figure it out.

As always (and especially here), all feedback ranging from "huh" to "wtf srsly" is welcome.

Title: Flicker
Author: [livejournal.com profile] xaara
Rating: PG
Timeline: season 5-ish (no spoilers)
Characters: Dean/Castiel
Summary: His charge, who sings the songs of sirens

Flicker )
I'm a massive freaking nerd. I mean, this really shouldn't come as a surprise, but sometimes I surprise even myself.

I've been working on my Enochian.

This involves reading lots of rather dry and irritating pseudo-linguistics, like Towards an Enochian Grammar, and An Essay on the Pronunciation of Enochian, as well as deciding whether or not the alphabet consists of 21 or 24 characters, and interpreting the idea that it's "usually" written left-to-right as meaning that it doesn't have to be (which seems to be the case if you're writing in geometric shapes, like when you're seeking the Abyss Experience, and I am not making this shit up.) Also, the only linguist who seems to have worked on this is named Donald Laycock. I am not making this up, either. I think he probably became a linguist to understand how he got saddled with such an unfortunate name, which still reduces me to 12-year-old giggles every time I read it. Basically, he says that Enochian isn't a language, and shares traits with more run-of-the-mill glossolalia, but that's not nearly as much fun as a secret angelic script. Plus, what does he know, his last name is Laycock.

In a moment of caffeine-fueled insanity last night, I even stumbled across Enochian Sudoku, proving, as Terry Pratchett would say, that there's nothing really damn stupid humans won't do.

(I know that I should instead be working on learning more Spanish than I need to understand basic dirty jokes from the guys in the kitchen. However, Spanish is useful and real and therefore not nearly as appealing.)

Even more caffeine later, I had decided that since Castiel was an Angel of Thursday and also of November, he was the Angel of Thanksgiving, which got me thinking all sorts of things about how he would speak sternly against the genocide of Native people and push Indigenous People's Day. Also, I am customarily hungover on Thursdays, since they are my Saturdays in the wonderful world of working at a bar and the day that I usually don't train. So when I'm lying there muttering to myself Never again will I combine four shots of whiskey with that many vodka tonics and I really shouldn't have picked that fight by playing "Legs" three times in a row on the jukebox and then beating the annoyed gentleman in question at darts, Castiel is listening!

Anyway. Time to go for a run, and then sit down and puzzle out some calls. Onward and upward.
I started writing a few days ago, and, well, this happened.

Title: The Word
Author: [livejournal.com profile] xaara
Rating: R (violence & language), gen
Timeline: sometime mid-season 3 through 4.18
Characters: Chuck, Sera, OCs
Summary: All he can do is write.
A/N: I think some explanation of characters is in order. First, although I don't remember hearing a name for her, that odd half-blonde woman introduced as Chuck's publisher at the beginning of 4.18 is called Sera over at IMDB. It made no sense that she would be a publisher (what, she's got a printing press out on the back porch or something?), so I ignored that and made her an editor. Maybe working for a publisher. Second, at one point in that episode, Chuck says something like, "Phil put you up to this?" and looks at the house next door. Hence: Phil. Finally, I realize that parts of this don't quite jive with parts of "The Real Ghostbusters," but I'm really trying to will that episode into nonexistence. All right. Enough yammering.

The Word )

the rush

Feb. 18th, 2010 01:00 pm
So it turns out that re-entering fandom after a long vacation is sort of like being the friend who shows up to the party forty-five minutes past fashionably late and has to be shuffled around and introduced to everyone and has no place to put their plate of cookies on the crowded potluck table, but after another two hours is just there and everyone forgets about the whole awkward entrance.

Perhaps, also, it is about run-on sentences. And the thrill of the hunt. I've been chasing down authors and stories and meta like nobody's business for the past few days. I almost forgot I was supposed to meet my usual friends at our usual pub last night, I was so caught up in it (oops.) Now that I've got a bit of time off, I can't wait to start writing again. As Miss Frizzle might say, "Seatbelts, everyone!"

Also, in the spirit of the Good Things that seem to be happening lately, I stopped into my favorite little craft/bookbinding/diy shop yesterday and found a notebook made from the cover of Bad Company's Straight Shooter. I mean, how badass is that?

But anyway, it's time to haul myself out for a run and a trip to the co-op and some experimental bread baking and the rest of the outline of this weird fic idea I've had going for a week or two.

Cause, you know, I'm a wild fire woman.
I posted here a while back—a looong while back—saying I was abandoning this journal for a lot of reasons. At the time, it was true. I fully intended to leave and not to return.

However: I may have lied. I blame this on Supernatural, which has grown into such a beautiful, complex, and honest show that I am once again compelled to write back to it, to find my way into its world and its mythology. (Also, Castiel has run far, far away with my heart.) I thought about starting a new journal, but I didn't want to become a new fic-person or go through the trouble of rediscovering all my old fic-people, so I decided to stay me here. How's that for convoluted use of pronouns?

Having said that: it's been a very long time since I've written anything but poetry. Even longer since I've written fic. (Like, three years). It may be a bit until I regain my sealegs, so I'm starting somewhere small, with a little coda to the latest episode. A morning. Some words. A blooming.


Title: that it was good
Author: [livejournal.com profile] xaara
Rating: G
Timeline: post 5.14 (spoilers if you squint)
Characters: Dean, Castiel (gen)
Summary: A sunrise, a cup of coffee, and a conversation.

that it was good )
I will never understand why people with drug-resistant TB travel on airplanes. I understand legally, but not morally and epidemiologically, why they aren't somehow quarantined until they show some sort of common sense. (Do you look both ways before you cross the street, sir? Do you cook your meat all the way through? Do you cut away from yourself? Excellent, you may leave quarantine now.)

To endanger other people like that, to put other people at risk and know you're doing it.... To put it eloquently, how much of a fucking jackass are you?

round here

Jan. 4th, 2008 11:24 pm
[Happy New Year!]

It's Friday night and the neighbors downstairs are having a party. It's not particularly noisy, but there's talking and laughing and the clinking of glasses and cutlery, and it's keeping me awake.

And then it suddenly occurred to me that if I can hear them, then they can hear me, or more importantly, my kittens, my clanging around in the kitchen, my sex life, and my impromptu dishwashing karaoke, in that order of frequency and loudness. I feel particularly bad about the kittens. When they're running around after each other, they can be irritating as hell. (One of the holiday visitor cats somehow got on top of the refrigerator this evening as The Boy and I were eating dinner. It was pretty impressive, but we still had to give him the requisite scolding.)

All this boils down to: I'm sorry, downstairs neighbors, and I will try to prevent the bed from squeaking too much or the kittens from pushing any more glasses off the coffee table.

I had a real reason for writing this post, though, and that was to squee about and comment on several new books. It's the semester break, so I've been sucking down everything as non-academic as I can find. This started out with The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Go drop everything and read it. Seriously. I actually met the author a while ago and told him I would read his book, and then my manager squeed a lot about it, so I picked it up. It's fantastic. It's the first third of the life story of an arcanist, from his childhood through his early adolescence, and--get this--it has a dragon on crack. I'm not even kidding. I can't wait for the next in the series.

Then I read (or tried to read) Diary of a Bad Year, since I'm a giant Coetzee fangirl. Couldn't get past the first 50 or so pages. It was kind of painful. Maybe when I'm in a different mindset or something, but right now I'm not feeling it, stylistically or in terms of content.

So after that I picked up The Yiddish Policemen's Union, because I'm determined to read Chabon backwards from The Gentlemen of the Road (omg BEST). And it's omg SECOND BEST so far. Because I still can't get over the pure joy of Gentlemen.

Also I Am Legend was really good, with the added bonus of a bunch of short stories in the back that aren't noted at all on the front (the I Am Legend part is half as long as it looks from the outside.) A couple of things irritated me. Mostly the re-use of nouns three or more times in close proximity (I'm still a little scarred by the number of times Matheson managed to put the word "chest" in a single page, because I keep imagining Charlton Heston's chest, which I've seen way too much of, and yeah.) But the story itself was fantastic. Now I want to see the movie.

Finally, I borrowed In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. As an avid cook/baker/lover of all things vegetable, animal, and mineral, I've always been interested in the American attitude towards food, and although I'm not quite halfway through this book yet, it's elaborated on a lot of the things I've always wondered about. Like how hundreds of thousands of cultures around the world can eat vastly different diets and still remain healthy. How scientists and therefore Americans have moved away from things we recognize as "food" (an apple, a carrot, a cut of meat) to things we recognize as "nutrients" (vitamin-fortified, highly packaged, processed edible things.) It's a good read, too--you might know Pollan from The Omnivore's Dilemma, which was a hot seller at Borders a few months ago, but which I have unfortunately not yet read.

So those are the ones I've read and loved so far. I read a few more that I didn't love, but liked enough to finish, most of which I will probably do a short commentary on later. And as it seems now that the party downstairs has moved to a different room, it is time for the sleep.
Two weeks ago, I was bitten by something while asleep. The bite swelled into a hard red welt, itchy and painful, and I was sure we had bed bugs. I literally stood beside the bed, unable to get in, for hours that night.

As it turned out, the kittens had attracted a small flea population, probably from the squirrels that live on the trees surrounding and overhanging our back porch. We got the requisite flea treatment paraphernalia and eradicated them. I, however, had done too much reading online and was petrified that the insecticide would kill the kittens. Even though I bought the most benign formula I could find, I insisted that we lock the kittens into a well-ventilated room as far away from the living room (where the fleas were) as possible. The Boy looked at me a little funny, but complied, even when I stuffed towels under the doors so they couldn't possibly inhale any of the aerosol. I placed a fan blowing out the window behind the couch, and attacked said couch clothed from head to toe, wearing gloves that reached to the elbow and a scarf over my hair. The Boy came into the room in a t-shirt and socks, told me I looked absurd, and wandered off in search of soda.

I read the directions on the can of insecticide four or five times. I aimed it down. I judged two to three feet. To be sure, I crouched until I could see the distance from the side instead of the top. I made uniform sweeping motions until all surfaces were just slightly damp.

With the windows open, it was probably thirty degrees in that room. I was sweating by the time I finished.

The kittens are still locked in their room. After scrubbing myself in hot water and soap, I allowed myself to go play with them. I might let them back into the living room tomorrow, but the thought of it makes my heart pound.

Throughout this phobia--not of insects, evil bloodsucking insects that lurk in couch cushions, but of the insect killer--some part of my brain realizes the ridiculousness of it all. I took all the proper precautions. No prolonged skin contact, minimal inhalation, no eye contact or contact with food surfaces.

But some part of me is still scared, just a little. Some part of me is in that first babysitting job mindset, when you're sure you're going to kill the neighbor's kid. Some part of me is ten and has to run to take the trash out after dark or the flying wolves will catch her. Some part of me is already in the heart-stopping adrenaline rush of coming up from the basement with the laundry, up an unlit, creaking external stairwell with paint cans and all manner of night creatures lurking in the adjacent crawlspace. And some part of me thinks all those other parts of me are pretty stupid and contagious.

Tell me that when I can't pick up a dropped sock because the giant red-eyed rats might eat me alive if I stop.
Working retail during the Christmas season would challenge the Dalai Lama's patience. But just when I'm about to give up on people altogether, someone comes along to tip the scales in the other direction.

Today, it was a boy in a teal shirt and beanie, and another with a beard and down jacket.

I was sitting in the creepy mural room at Memorial Union when a man in his mid-thirties came and sat at a table with a student. It soon became obvious that the man was on edge, probably on drugs, and if not dangerous, at least uncomfortably willing to invade personal space. The boy sitting at the table picked a moment when the man went to the bathroom to flee. When the man returned, he began harassing the next-nearest target--a girl studying nearby.

At first, I assumed that once she ignored him for a significantly long period of time, he would go away. However, he simply became more and more invasive, repeatedly touching her shoulder and moving her books and papers. She shrank back in her seat, and although I felt strongly for her, a giant part of me also has been raised not to become involved in escalating altercations. I've seen knives pulled on people who've done less. I was, however, pulling out my phone to call the police when a young man--the one in the teal shirt--rose from a nearby seat. He walked over to the girl and put himself between her and the man. "Hey, Sarah," he said. "How's it going?"

She looked at him. "Fine," she said, after enough of a pause to indicate that it wasn't her real name. The man looked at both of them for a long while, then recommenced his harassment. At this point, the boy left, presumably to alert Union security, and the girl was once again left to her own devices.

Seconds later, though, a second boy set down his backpack, pulled out a book, and sat across from her. "Ready to study?" he asked.

The man became sullen and edgier. He held out his hand to the boy, who accepted it and found himself trapped when the man wouldn't let go. "I need to study," said the boy. "I have finals."

"Fuck finals," said the man. "My tests were with life and death." He pointed at the juncture between the two hands, the sharp contrast in color. "You? You've got finals. You'll pass."

The boy nodded, doggedly keeping the man's attention until he tired of the game and moved to another room. Moments later, the campus police arrived, frisked him down, and kicked him out. The boy and girl introduced themselves, and left in separate directions. And I let out a breath I hadn't realized I was holding and turned back to my work.
About a week ago, a woman came through my line at Borders with platinum blonde hair, long lavender nails, and two deep purple bruises around her eyes.

And I said nothing, even though I assumed all the things I've been taught to assume--her husband's beating her, she's afraid for the kids, she's afraid for herself, some part of her believes he loves her. I treated her just like I would have treated any other customer, asked her whether she had her Borders Rewards card and whether she'd like a bag. Wished her a good day.

Maybe she really did fall down a flight of stairs. I hate making assumptions about people I don't know.

But maybe someone hit her and what she really wanted was for me to ask if everything was all right, if there was anything I could do. I know there have been times when I've sat on the Metro, lips tight, and wished someone would ask me if I was okay. And I've never had two black eyes, except when I opened a car door into my face when I was a kid. (I also fell going up stairs and left tooth marks in the wood floor at the top and closed my pinky in a door that year--it was not my most graceful period.)

Maybe everything was all right. Maybe she has some sort of weird skin disease that makes it look like she has two black eyes when she's really fine. Maybe. Maybe.

I will never know. I don't regret not asking her. It wasn't my place. But some fundamental human part of me wishes I had.

(Pudgeball kitten has decided that he loves All Things Shiny. His best friend at the moment is a crinkly foil Christmas ornament that he carries around with him and stashes in various places. Also: all of the tin foil has disappeared from the recycling and reappeared in corners around the apartment.)



May 2010



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