Silvia Plath once noted, “[n]othing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.” If this is the case, I have amassed quite the stinky pile. For a little end-of-summer cleaning, I’m freshening up my closet (aka hard drive), mixing metaphors and  posting a few stories I like but for which I have yet to find suitable homes.

She had been down on her luck for so long that she began to appreciate what she did have: a roof over her head for the time being, a family to take her in if that changed, a strong mind and a healthy body. She began to understand what the old women at the rural church she had attended as a child said three times every Sunday, “Count your blessings.” Those women believed that their pious, humble lives of country poverty would be rewarded tenfold by God when they entered the gates of heaven.

Now she was in the city. She waited tables three nights a week, just enough to cover rent. She would also go on a few dates a month for a free night out. It’s not that she was a fan of chivalry or wanted to be dependent on any man, but a night of free food and drinks was available with a little flirting, so why not take advantage? Of course, she was looking for her kicks too. A good lay could be quite the anti-depressant.

Sometimes she longed for her life to be as simple as just making rent, but it wasn’t. She was two deep breaths from going ape-shit on a manager at Bank of America earlier that day. She reminisced the event as she sat in the small backyard of the house she shared with a few other people. She sipped on a bottle of sparkling water. She had joined the belief that bottled water was extravagant, wasteful and a symbol of a decadent and shortsighted society, but the tap didn’t provide bubbles and lime essence.

Continue reading “Closet Cleaning Part 1: The Lucky Ticket”

I entered a market in Berkeley to the sound of an older couple bickering in Arabic. An old fat lady in a muumuu shot me a quick glance and then continued berating her husband who was standing behind the deli counter.

It looked like a few things had changed since the last time I had entered the market. The shelves were nearly bare and the beverage cooler was in complete disorder. New owners, I thought to myself, and a chaotic transition. There were a few new items, all with Arabic script on the labels.

The old owners ran an American market with a Middle Eastern deli. The new owners seemed to be trying the opposite, a Middle Eastern market with an American deli. I thought they would likely fail.

Continue reading “Cigarettes, sparkling water and cultural insensitivity”

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Originally published in Dionysus Unemployed Spring 2006.

It was a normal autumn night in Paris, a little cool, a little damp. Clouds had covered the city for what seemed like weeks. At night the sky shone a luminous green, from the reflection of the city’s many lights off of the clouds and smog. The green sky phenomena might have only been true for the seventh arrondisment and surrounding area, where the green glow of the Eiffel Tower was so prominent, but that doesn’t matter too much.

My girlfriend was visiting from the States, my tiny chambre de bonne offered little more than a bed with a pleasant view. When we had had enough of that bed with a pleasant view as our bodies could physically stand we decided to venture out. The seventh offered little nocturnal entertainment other than an Irish pub which was frequented by international students and expatriates. So we ended up there, wanting to do something, but not wanting to travel far.

The bar was crowed for a Sunday night, the air rang with a dozen tongues, but French and English were dominant. We found a corner table, sandwiched between a wall of Guinness posters and a group of chain-smoking Russians. At the bar I waited for two beers for what seemed to be a half hour, enough time for the effects of the shared bottle of wine to have worn off. When I returned to the table there was a man seated on my stool talking to my girlfriend, which was no big deal, every guy likes to know his girlfriend is attractive to others.

Continue reading “A conversation with an aspiring terrorist”