Check out my new flash fiction on Cease, Cows.
Order of the Mustache
I had tried to grow a mustache many times, but my attempts had never proven successful. I could muster no more than a sparse collection of fuzz that resembled a teenager’s sad attempts at cultivating a crumb catcher. I had grown lambchops, soul patches, chin straps, and amish beards, but for some reason the skin between my mouth and nose was a barren wasteland when it came to facial hair. At some point I had relinquished hope, and all my sad attempts were forgotten and my future prospects abandoned. It was years later that I finally tried again, despite the vehement protests of my wife. She claimed she was allergic to mustaches, but I had already resigned myself to conquer this mustache barrier. I wanted to cross this off my list of lifely accomplishments, and scratch one more item off my bucket list.
I let the little patch of skin above my upper lip go unshaven for a week, and to my surprise a mustache began to form, regal, full, bushier than a wombat doused in rogaine. No more would I be labeled a failure of testosterone or male maturity. No more would I be mistaken for a grey haired teenager with a beer belly. My manly lip turf would prove my worth to society and assuage at least one of my childish insecurities.
It didn’t take long to notice that people treated me differently with a mustache. Older women and men began calling me sir. Children respected and feared me. People showered me with looks of reverence when before they had looked at me with a combination of disdain and pity, and sometimes disgust. My mustache made me feel more important, more manly, and more relevant than ever. My posture improved, my self esteem blossomed, and my head felt inflated with helium. I floated through my errands as if gravity no longer concerned me. The men either looked at me with envy, or if they had a mustache they stroked their stache and gave me a knowing nod of approval.
The cashier at the grocery store, a bald man with a nattily trimmed mustache gave me a wink and a nod, and touched his mustache. Then he called the manager over, a man with a bushy mustache that could have easily put Magnum P.I. to shame. He placed his right finger on his nose and then stroked it across his mustache much like every other mustachioed man had done, and then looked at me expectantly. Not knowing what else to do I mimicked his gesture. He smiled and proceeded to use his manager code to take twenty five percent off my grocery bill.
On the way home from the store I was so perplexed by what happened at the grocery store that I blasted through a red light and was pulled over by a police officer. The man had a mustache of special effects proportions, like some sort of computer generated super-stache. It seemed to command the entire lower portion of his face, covering up his mouth and wiggling back and forth when he spoke. He approached my car, and upon seeing my mustache repeated the same gesture as the grocery store manager, a finger to his nose and then a quick stroke of the mustache. I responded in kind and he laughed and told me to be more careful. We members of the order must be cautious, he told me. We must not abuse our privilege. Then he asked if I wanted a donut. Sure I told him. He brought me one with rainbow sprinkles.
When I got home my wife noticed the rainbow sprinkles littering my mustache. Yet one more reason why mustaches are disgusting, she told me. How in the world did I get rainbow sprinkles in my mustache, she asked, crossing her arms and glaring at me.
I just stroked my mustache and told her she would never believe it.
One of Those Days
Ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right, a day where everything, in fact, goes the opposite of right? A day that deteriorates to comic proportions, everything about it unraveling until it becomes almost predictable. Every joke’s on you.
It seems almost surreal, doesn’t it, like a conspiracy of the universe to destroy you? Karma is pissing on your head. Practice deep breathing and visualization, stress management techniques and transcendental meditation. Practice aggressive passive aggression. Stay calm in the face of cacophonous calamity. It could be worse, right? The universe can only nod its head in your direction, an unwavering affirmative to your inquiry and thanks for asking. It could be worse and so it is. Care to wager again, double or nothing perhaps?
Laughing helps, but there’s a point where laughter becomes hollow and painful, a point where laughter makes the hurt worse. At some point the body and mind become numb, survival mechanisms kicking in and flooding your neural circuitry with endorphins to lessen the anguish. It could be worse becomes it’s not so bad. Turn that frown upside down and buck up buckeroo.
There’s always tomorrow.
Both the pilot and copilot had taken ill. The doctor deemed it food poisoning. Ted looked out the window at the earth below, wondering if he could get the plane back on the ground. Nerves had ended his career as a pilot and he’d developed a severe drinking problem. He looked at the cocktail on the tray in front of him, wondering if it would calm his nerves or rattle them more. The doctor looked at him with gravity.
“Can you fly this plane and land it?”
“Surely you can’t be serious.”
“ I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”
This week’s entry for the Friday Fictioneers, a 100 word story based on the photo prompt above.
Kind of a cop out I know, recycling old content from the rubbish heap, but I just couldn’t help myself. My ‘ode to the silliest movie ever made, not including Sharknado.
Surely I must be joking. No, I’m dead serious. And don’t call me Shirley.
flora (ˈflôrə) noun; the plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period
–phile: (combining form) denoting fondness, esp. an abnormal love for a specified thing.
I live in California. I grow plants and take photos. I run a school garden and teach Science. I am a floraphile.
This is the tagline for my Tumblr, which is where I post about my adventures as a plant fanatic. It started from a New Year’s resolution in 2012, and this Tumblr essentially jumpstarted my floundering creative potential. It started out with me just sharing other people’s photos of plants, and then I soon began taking my own photos. Then I got a better camera and started taking better photos. I tried to capture the photographic evidence of the beauty I witnessed in my own garden. I wanted that sense of calm and serenity I feel in the garden to be delivered through my photographs. Not sure if I can succeed in this, but I keep trying.
Just the act of creating my own content soon led to other things. Soon the writing began. Then a workshop, an online course, a novel in progress, a slew of potentially mediocre short stories. Then this wordpress blog happened because I needed somewhere to put all these extra words. Frankly, the wordy posts I had been composing about my plants hadn’t exactly proved popular on Tumblr, and every time I posted a short story at least ten people immediately unfollowed me. I have a sneaking suspicion that many Tumblr users refuse to read anything longer than fifty words, but I’ll be damned if they don’t like a pretty picture of a succulent. So now, I’ll just have to subject the blogoshpere of wordpress to all my rants, raves, and unfortunate literary transgressions. I apologize in advance.
This is a collection of some of the photos from my garden that I posted this week.
Originally posted on flora-file.tumblr.com
The Book Hoarder
I’ll admit it–I am a borderline hoarder. I keep things I know I probably won’t need, thinking that in some convoluted wrinkle of fate it will come in handy during a future crisis. In truth, I’m afraid the ironic tendency of the universe will cause me to need any item I dispose of, most likely moments after the recycling truck takes it away forever. Some items have travelled with me through numerous moves, and though I don’t need it currently, I just might someday, and then who will be laughing?
But books are different. Back during my impressionable twenty somethings I used to love to go to used book stores and peruse the shelves for esoteric and thought provoking books that I didn’t necessarily want to read, but I wanted people to think I read. Sometimes I actually attempted to sit down and read the books, but for some reason or another never finished. I usually read just the introductions or maybe the first chapter so I could sound like I knew what the book was about, in case anyone asked. I wanted to seem all philosophical and well read without actually putting the time in to read. My problem is I am a pretty slow reader and I have ADD. Sometimes I read so slow that I get distracted in the middle of the sentence and have to start over. I can’t read fast enough to keep my own attention.
I bought the books because I was always told that writers must read a metric ton to find inspiration and to learn the craft. I was also told that if you want to be a writer then you should buy books written by other people to support the business. I liked to imagine what my own book would look like on the shelves. At one point I had milk crates full of these used literature and philosophy books that I schlepped around with me so I could put them on my bookshelves and look at them. I have sold and donated boxes of my books in recent years, but not all of them. Some I have held onto. Some I still hold the illusion that I will sit down and read someday, which is why I haven’t gotten rid of them yet. I was curious what books I hadn’t sold, so I went into the garage and looked.
So without further adieu, here are twelve plus one of the outrageous, audacious, and courageous books I found hoarded away in my garage. I will include a jacket blurb, and just what in the hell I was thinking when I bought it in the first place. (more…)
A List of Lists
As someone lacking basic organization skills I find lists very useful. Inside the collection of neural tissue so optimistically called my brain, all my words, ideas, and plans for tomorrow are flying around like bats in a belfry. By writing these things down in list form I am able to find meaning in the madness. I am able to see my ideas, prioritize them and wrestle with sequence. I am able to cross things off and forget about them forever. Whether it is a grocery list, a list of places I want to visit, or even a list of chores I hope to accomplish on the weekend, lists allow me to organize the chaotic jumble of my thoughts.
In fact I like lists so much that I have even gone as far as to make lists of lists I want to make. Making a list of lists is like organizing your organization skills, like vacuuming the vacuum cleaner, like breaking your hand while trying to further break your broken television. I present to you a short metacognitive list of lists I want to make.
- Bucket lists are lame. I want to make a fuck it list–a list of the things I would do if I had one day left to live. What would you do?
- The list of mistakes I didn’t make. This list is much shorter than my list of mistakes and therefore depressing to think about.
- The list of books I pretended to read in order to seem erudite and cool in college. I used to buy stacks of used books and put them on my bookshelf in the hopes that someone would see them and think I was smart. How dumb is that?
- A list of heirloom tomato cultivars. Seriously though. The mortgage lifter. The green zebra. The banana legs. The scooby doo. The alien vs predator. Okay some of these may be movies and not tomato cultivars, but they should be.
- The list of reasons I don’t want to be (and never wanted to be) president.
- The list of stories I started to write and never finished.
- The list of places I don’t want to visit, like the slaughterhouse for instance.
- The list of songs I wish I wrote but didn’t because I have never actually written a song.
- A list of the times I broke the law and/or got arrested. Thank God for statutes of limitation.
- A list of ways to drive a teacher crazy. I am currently writing a how to guide about this.
- A list of lists I want to make. Um, wait a second. Cross that one off the list.
Composed for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: List Lesson
Now to start working on some of those lists.