Archive for October, 2012

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Dani lived upstairs with her mom and two little sisters. She was a gawky thing, too tall and too skinny, with orange-red hair and a heart-shaped face. For Halloween that year, Dani’s thirteenth, her mother bought her this little French Maid costume; very authentic, right down to the frilled white headpiece.

Mom had to work the big party at the club that night, but she’d given Dani permission to take her sisters out for trick-or-treating. That permission, however, was conditional: two loads of laundry, washed and dried in the community laundry room, and folded on the couch before they went out.

Responsibility is something a girl learns to take on or rebel against early in a place like The Villa, and Dani was one of those that took it without question. By seven p.m., she was finished with the first load and waiting on a dryer for the second. She’d costumed herself and her sisters early, so they didn’t miss that first rush, the one where all the good candy gets gone. The stilettos her mother had loaned her for the night, were dangerous for traipsing up and down the stairwell a laundry basket, so Dani had donned a pair of fuzzy piggy slippers and slap-slapped her way back to the laundry room to see if one of the dryers was free.

She’s there, this skinny little French Maid, leaning against the wall in the laundry room, tapping her slipper-clad toes to a hip-hop tune no one else can hear, when He comes in, sliding all quiet-like around the edge of the doorframe across from her. Making mental notes. Taking inventory. He doesn’t belong to the Villa, doesn’t even belong in it, but Dani doesn’t know that, and Dani doesn’t run until it’s almost too late, until his hands are up on her, finding out just how skinny she really is beneath that costume.

She runs hard then.

And fast.

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More than fourteen thousand page views here on Laurustina this month and only four comments. Really? Is it me? Do I talk too much? (My sister will be laughing right now.) But seriously, you people are ridiculiously quiet. So that's it. I'm giving you the floor. And as I once told The Great Bryan Adams, for chri'sake if you don't have anything else to say, write about your socks.

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Last week, I was scouring the library for resource books on Memoir. I didn't come up with much beyond the handful I'd already dug through, but later the same night, while re-shelving my own books in our new office, I tripped over Tristine Rainer's “Your Life as Story; Discovering the New Autobiography and Writing Memoir as Literature”.

It's one of the books I bought while researching my thesis on Therapeutic Writing a decade ago and the spine is familiar as any other on my shelf, but I haven't cracked it since September of 2002. I picked up the book, flipped through it and laughed. If I'd found it in the library, I'd have declared it “Exactly what I was looking for!” and clutched it to my chest while running for the check-out line. Instead, it was waiting casually to be remembered and rescued from deep shelves five feet from where I sleep.

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I'm a big fan of Trader Joes' sauces. I keep a fat stash of them in the cupboard, including my favorite Curry Simmer Sauce, Thai Red Curry Sauce and their Basil Pesto. My favorite use of TJ's Pesto sauce dish consists of blanched asparagus and green beans tossed with a fresh cheese ravioli, but this quickie pesto chicken pasta dish is now a close second. I added fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and Parmesan to mimic the pesto and a pop of grape tomatoes for sweetness.

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The Street Preacher takes to the corner of Pacific and Cooper in Downtown Santa Cruz shortly before noon on most days. I suspect he’s chosen this spot, because the acoustics on the single short block of Cooper Street are amazing. As he bellows, his words bounce off the tall stone buildings and swell with significance. He looks like an aged biker with his grey beard and a bandana covering his head. He smells like dust and sacrament He holds his bible aloft in one hand, while the other skinny arm stretches skyward. His message is a mix of ancient texts and anti-establishment psychobabble. Some days its hard to tell where the reading ends and the sermon begins.

He’s quite mad, of course, but still, I like to lean against the pole just outside Pacific Wave and listen to him. He sounds as impassioned as John The Baptist and as angry as crazy as Charles Manson. The passages he shouts down the block are most often the complicated metaphors of obscure prophets. Some days I want to cross the street and ask him gently to read a Psalm, or one of Solomon’s love poems. I want to make him understand that fire and brimstone won't work here, in this time, in this place. But maybe he knows more than I. Maybe his secret visions are to terrifying to not be shared. Perhaps he really is the lone sane voice, crying out against evil.

I smoke my cigarette, leaning against the pole while a string of verses from Malachi reverberate from the wall behind me. I watch The Street Preacher because he makes me think. Not because I like what he says.