Health Scare in America

I had to see my doctor today. I was looking forward to it because I honestly like him and have had good consultations with him in the past.

To give you some background on this, I've been having some strange pain and fever lately. The pain is not the worst I've ever had—that would be a tie between when I had tears in my trachea and when I thought my appendix was about to burst—but let's just say it's distracting and, at times, consuming. Needless to say, I was a little concerned, particularly after a little internet research led me to believe I might have developed shingles.

I get to the doctor and am disappointed to discover that instead of the doctor, I'm seeing the physician's assistant. She asked me to describe what was wrong and barely waited for my answers before firing off the next question. She poked my abdomen, knocked on it, and said, "You're too young to have what I think you have..."

She made some notes and said, "Well, I don't think you have shingles, but I'm going to treat you for it because it won't hurt if you don't." She wrote out some prescriptions for me. She said, "There's no reason for me to think you would have it..."

I said, "Well, I had chicken pox three times."

She looked me right in the eye, steely, and said, "No, you didn't." Not in shock, but in a tone that suggested there's no way in hell I had chicken pox three times. When the clock struck minute nine on the appointment, she vanished from the room, leaving me to get out on my own. A nine-minute appointment and half a diagnosis is what I got. Now maybe you can understand why I'm not enamored of her. And maybe why men hate going to see the doctor!

So now I'm home, still achey, not interested in having ANYTHING touch any part of the right side of my abdomen.

But wait, Charlie. Could this day get any worse?

I'm glad you asked! Yes. Yes, it could.

Because when I got my quick lunch from Whataburger, which I love, I started munching on the fries in the car. And when I got near the bottom—having eaten almost the whole thing—I discovered:


Thick, black, and curly, you can faintly see it in this on-the-spot camera phone shot, near the high side of the carton's bottom. And the photo doesn't do it justice because this looked like Rapunzel's pubic hair, like some small insects were going to use it to climb out of the french fry box to freedom.

Thanks for listening.

Please Excuse Me

There's nothing I'd love more than to be blogging ad nauseum right now, but due to a sudden influx of school work and an unexpected (and unwelcome) health issue, I'm going to be taking the week away from blogging.

Unless I'm so moved that I can't keep my hands off the keyboard.


An Argument for Reading Things Closely

I got a bit of really unfortunate news this morning when I came in to work. Some of you know that over the past few weeks I have been writing grant after grant after grant. Two of them were in support of expanding LOCUSPOINT in some way, shape, or form. The first of those is for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and that one went just fine.

But the second one, to the Edson Student Entrepreneurial program at ASU, did not go so well. It was a $10,000 ask that I was going to use to fund travel to host readings, pay editors, and do a bunch of other expansion items, but when I came in to work today I saw the deadline was Wednesday, not Friday, as I had thought.

So, I missed out entirely on the grant. And as this is my last year of school at ASU--forever, I hope!--it was also my last chance to apply for the grant...

So, sorry, LOCUSPOINT folks...I'll have to find another way.


It Finally Came Around to Me

After thirteen years of bona fide adulthood, seven years of consistent living in more or less what you would consider "the same place," after watching countless friends and colleagues go through it, it finally happened to me:

I got my summons for jury duty in the mail earlier this week.

It's not necessarily an invitation to participate, though. In Arizona, you are given a date upon which you must begin calling the courthouse to see if you will be required to come down and sit through the vetting process. To see if they event want to see if they want you.

Apparently, it involves a day of sitting and waiting, no reading, and having to watch some strange "civic duty" movie on a TV/VCR while you make time with your fellow citizens.

I feel a civic obligation to do my part as much as the next person, but I'm pretty sure my lifestyle just isn't ideal for jury service: full time employment, a part-time at-home literary journal gig, extensive volunteering in the community, plus a nine-credit student course load for the term. A dog relying on me for love and nourishment. A boyfriend who can't cook. Does it all make for a compelling argument to disenfranchise me from my civic responsibility?

Furthermore, is it ethical or not that the state is willing to pay me $40 a day to determine someone's guilt or innocence?


Size Matters

One of my little joys in life is a Starbucks coffee with soymilk (I'm sensitive about dairy) and vanilla syrup. Since this is Arizona, I spend most of the year drinking it iced. I usually go grande on it because it's only a smidge over 2 bucks and it's enough caffeine for starting the day. But lately, I've been noticing an interesting trend.

This isn't scientific by any means, but I'd estimate that on 75% of my visits, when I order a grande iced coffee, I'm served a venti. I'm never charged for the larger size unless I say it out loud, but I can't help wondering what's contributing to the upsizing. Do I look especially thirsty, or perhaps tired? (Probably.) Are tall people assumed to have deeper stomachs?

It happened twice this past weekend on two consecutive visits. I'd noticed and pondered the phenomena before, but it's not until today that I've felt comfortable going public with the trend.

What about you? Does Starbucks upsize you, or is this personal?


Alanis with Matchbox Twenty, or Recapturing My Lost Youth

Last night I went to the Alanis/Matchbox concert. The show was really good and I was eager to see both of them as it was my first time at one of their shows. Alanis came out and did a lot of her big hits, mostly culling songs from her first album. She sang a few new songs and gave us a snippet of her cover of "My Humps," complete with hot pink feather boa and feckless suitors chasing her. Highlight of her set: during "Ironic," she altered the lyrics to be "It's like meeting the man of my dreams...and then meeting his beautiful husband." Of course, she's Canadian, where men can have husbands, so that makes sense.

Matchbox's set was also really, really strong. Rob Thomas is great live, rivaling in energy level the great Kelly Clarkson (don't laugh; I'm serious!). They, too, covered their best songs from the past 10 years, but I'll admit that I left before they finished because—don't laugh—it was really cold.

Outdoor concerts in Arizona are never a good idea. It's either too hot or too cold once the sun goes down (or both, depending on the time of year) and I foolishly didn't bring a warmer jacket. It got a little more bearable once the other 15,000 fans arrived and started breathing and sharing body heat, but eventually even that was enough.

Let's just say it wasn't heterosexuality's best night, either. In front of us were about 8 straight guys hanging out together, ranging in age from 35 to 55. They downed beer after beer and then one of them, after trying to pick up two 23-year-old blond girls, started singing along to "You Oughta Know," shockingly enough, and then every single Matchbox song that they played, the entire time keeping one arm raised over his head, two fingers pointing out like the barrel of a gun, waving it back and forth like cowboy. Moments after this big show, he crawled over the row of seats behind him, nearly made it, and then wiped out. The entire line of people from that point toward the aisle bent like a field of wildflowers in his wake.

A father there with his wife and two kids—let's say he was about 45—walked in front of me to get to the aisle and I noticed, unfortunately, that his jeans were hanging a little low...and he wasn't wearing underwear. There was crack. There was full-on crack action. Am I wrong, or should underwear be mandatory when you are out in public with your children? Otherwise you end up out in pubic when you're out in public.

During the Alanis set, the three empty seats in front of us became occupied by a threesome of one man and two women. They, too, had explored the bar's many charms before joining the show, and I was annoyed to have the gentleman's head right between me and Alanis. No matter where I moved, he anticipated my shift and continued to block me. While we engaged our battle of wits, one of the women drunkenly talked to him through the entire set. LOUDLY. But not loud enough that I could make out what she was saying; just loudly enough to detract from the show. Then they got up and left again, but returned during the Matchbox set, when it became clear that Loud Drunk Girl and Drunk Guy were dating. And having a fight. And, eventually, during this long conversation, breaking up. She walked off and he let her go. The woman on the other side of her moved to follow her, but then just took her seat instead. Ah, friendship!

In between sets, Cricket Wireless had this running message board on the big screens. You could text in a message and it would scroll across. People were putting up marriage proposals and acceptances (I guess that's what you call the sanctity of marriage, right?), information about what they had for dinner, and one message even said, "My dad is a cripple." I messaged "I'm here, I'm queer, and I'm sitting next to you," but it never appeared. Beau texted "Arden Jensen is hot!!!" and it scrolled. I texted "I'm here, I'm queer, and I'm really cold," but it never appeared. Beau texted "Beau loves Charlie," but it didn't appear, despite the fact that nearly every heterosexual pairing in the audience of "blank loves blank" appeared.

Despite it all, though, it was a good show.


She Hates Her Thesis

A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) has recently begun blogging to document all the ways in which she is now doomed never to complete her thesis:




I think there are many busy hands shuffling together some great work across the country for LOCUSPOINT these days! Check this out:

Jim Elledge

Los Angeles
Louise Mathias

New Haven
Suzanne Frischkorn

Sean Singer

Brent Goodman

These cities will be coming soon...I'm also planning a secret surprise for the cities we've already done—I hope to start working on it this week, when I take my mini-Spring Break from work!



One of the best things about living in Phoenix is showup.com. It's a huge archive/calendar/list of arts events going on around town. At my reading on Friday (more later), someone came up to me and told me they saw an upcoming reading of mine there:

Hey! That's so cool. It's a great tool to use when you want to go out and do something but don't know what--you can find out what's going on on a specific night, for example, and then look for discount tickets.

A bunch of other cities have this, too, and you can see their links down at the bottom of the page:

Austin, Denver, Grand Forks, Greensboro, Houston, Riverside & San Bernardino, San Jose, South Bend.


"Top Models Know How to Say Thank You" and other things my mother taught me.

In other words, a picture post from the birthday party:

Arden wore her purple Mizrahi party dress to suit the party's theme.

Here's my Republican friend doing her best Britney Spears.

There was a little man-near-man action.

Good times.

Here is my other Republican friend, the gay one. We used to call them "unicorns" until we realized they really existed!

She knows something you don't.

CLEARLY up to no good!

Passing out.

Even Arden was pretty pooped.


You wanna be on top?

It seems just a few months ago that the lovely Saleisha took the crown as America's ninth top Tyrabot, and yet, here we are again, with a whole new crop of young women stepping on each other's faces to get to the top.

Except when they're crying and hugging each other, yo.

Here's my preliminary fafarazzi.com team. I'm a big fan of this season's "big girl" Whitney, who, in my opinion, looks like a healthy, normal woman. And she's adorable. And I'm rooting for her. I also like unpronounceable-name girl, and mostly I'm hoping that Tyra will actually get the pronunciation down before the finals. Finally, weirdo Claire is on my list because, well, I don't know why. I think she's going to do well, but she probably won't cry much until she starts missing her kid.

I thought the stunt with bringing 14 girls into the house was a big set-up for the whole season. The "surprise elimination" from the first episode seemed totally staged to me. I think Tyra wanted to bust some chops off the bat to scare the other women into submission. She needed to throw some weight around, now that she has some.

And cheers to Paulina Porizkova joining the judging panel and, on day one, taking both the models and Nigel Barker to task. I was only slightly shocked to discover the actual length of the stick up Nigel's butt—the one Caridee so smartly identified in Cycle 7. She's a little bit Twiggy, a little bit Janice Dickinson. It's going to be hott, y'all.



3 out of 4 Piper Center for Creative Writing employees agree—

Today is my best hair day. Ever.

Rock Out with Your iPod Out

This week I am rocking out all day long to this Mark Ronson CD I just bought. Okay, I didn't buy the CD; I downloaded it from iTunes. Is that still what we say? Let's say I bought an album. Too, let's not argue over semantics. Let's just have a nice time together.

Anyway, the Ronson album is sort of loungey/go-go/disco/funk. It includes "revisions" of some songs I love like The Smith's "Stop Me" as a jangling disco number, Britney Spears's "Toxic" as an Amy Winehouse-like rap-infused number, and Radiohead's "Just" as it might have been interpreted by the Jackson 5. Coldplay's "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" gets retooled as a swingin' lounge tune sans lyrics, and Winehouse herself shows up to sing the track "Valerie." Other great guests on the tracks include saucy Lily Allen, Phantom Planet, Kasabian, and the frequently nude and always delicious Robbie Williams.

I love a good remake, remix, revision. I don't know why. I like to hear mindless pop songs find new depth, new rhythms, new faces. I think it's nice to make old things new again. It's a tribute. It's not an offense. It's a beautiful thing.