The Kind of Busy I Would Like to Be

Dear Readership,
I have recently reembarked on the journey of conversational emailing. What a throwback, right? My 11 year old sister got an email account and is incredibly excited to join in on correspondence in the digital age (mad props to my mom for not just handing her a smart phone right out of elementary school, but making her take baby steps into technology. I have such very strong opinions about the importance of defending innocence in childhood and I think not having instant access to the wide, wide web before you’re ready is a huge part of it). Anyway, she and I have been emailing back and forth since she got it back in February and I received an email this morning in response to something I sent a little over a week ago.
She said, “Sorry I did not get back to you sooner I have been very busy!!”
To which I responded, “No worries, darling. What have you been busy with?”
About 20 minutes later she said, “Getting first place! And singing happy birthday to Isaiah! and now I am doing math 🙄😫😮” (side note: her exploration of self expression through excessive emoji use has by far been my favorite part of this journey. Welcome to the 21st century, kiddo). 
Now, I am INCREDIBLY proud of this girly (and her duo partner, 9 year old Beatrice) for picking a story, cutting, blocking, memorizing, and competing at two different junior league tournaments (winning first place both times) with very little help from anyone. They took their dream and ran with it and it makes me a very proud speech sissy.  
 
But the real doozy of a time strain here that blows me away is that she actually had to sing happy birthday to Isaiah. I can’t believe he had the nerve to make such a demand on her time when he knows all too well that the average birthday song can take up to 30 seconds. She’s a strong, independent women and she doesn’t have time to be held back by trivialities like celebrating some measly birthday. 
 
Madness, really.
Then, of course, the dreaded math. Friend to no Patterson sister, myself especially. I know as well as anyone that a single lesson can take up to 48 hours if you are truly versed in the art of dragging out the inevitable so that it becomes a miserable experience for the entire household. I’m proud to have passed on that legacy as well. When it comes down to it, I’m surprised she found time to respond to my email at all.
And yet, as I labor through the worst time of year for any liberal arts major (when there is a 16 page term paper due in every class), I can’t help but wish I was the kind of busy she is. 😘😂😆😅😍😉 
Until next time,
Adieu
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Cleverness Gone Awry

Dear Readership,

Ever had days where you thought you were in charge and then reality curb-stomped you back into your rightful place in the fetal position on the floor praying for sweet oblivion? Because that was my day today. Every time I did something to “beat the system” it would come back to bite me. Let me tell you about it…

It all started when I decided not to wear a bra this morning. And I know what you’re thinking — or, rather, one of two things you could be thinking. Either you are IMMEDIATELY uncomfortable with this post and are thinking about maybe not finishing it because you don’t think it is appropriate to discuss bosoms on the internet (is that an okay word to use? Bosoms? It is literally my LEAST favorite word for breasts, but it feels like something a Sunday school teacher would say so it’s probably okay), OR you, like me, stopped for a sec to chant “Free the tatas!” before continuing reading. Now, if you’re in the former category, you have a couple of choices:

1) leave. That’s fine. You don’t have to read this if it makes you uncomfortable.

2)  Embrace boobies! (Poor wording? Probably. But I mean it metaphorically and you know it). They’re just a body part — like elbows — and not inherently sexual. We don’t have to sexualize them. So don’t.

Either way, I decided not the wear a bra this morning. It was cold, I was cold, and I wasn’t about that mess. So I tossed on a cami and a chunky sweater and applauded myself for my cleverness. Who would ever know? (Um, try everyone. The girls hang a solid four or five inches lower when unrestrained and bounce FREELY. But you know what? That’s where God put my boobs, so who am I to say that that’s not where they belong). Now, the thing about going bra-less is sometimes things get a little crazy down there. Running is a no-go. Period. And when you have big ol’ floppy breasticles, underboob sweat is REAL (still think boobs are sexy?) especially when the sun comes out. Suddenly that chunky sweater was a mistake that I was going to deeply regret for my whole day. I couldn’t get cool no matter what I did, and I did a lot. But we’ll get to that.

So I was being slowly strangled to death by my sweater, but I was trying to make the most of it and decided to get lunch on campus with some friends. Now, to say that campus food is nasty and expensive would be an understatement, so I’ve gotten my meal order down to a science. The cafeteria in the student union offers a beans and rice special for $2 and some change which is a pretty sweet deal, but you pay for toppings by weight (and if you’re not careful with the guac, that sucker can get up to $8 sometimes. That’s where they getcha). I have figured out which toppings I consider necessary to enjoy my beans and rice, and of those, which are the lightest. Now, somewhere along the way I realized there is a free condiment pump station (ketchup, mustard, mayo, hot sauce) and instead of paying for the very heavy sour cream and salsa, I could just get a few free pumps of mayo and hot sauce and be on my merry way a few dollars richer. So basically, I’m a genius, right?

It was rush hour meal time and I was hangry, but I wasn’t trying to spend a lot of money so I stood in a 10 minute line for beans (of which they gave me a particularly small serving) and then made my way to where we were meeting — carrying my container of beans and my toppings bowl (lettuce, cheese, olives, tomatoes, and a generous pump of mayo on top). I set my lunch on the edge of the table to take off my backpack and immediately bumped into my food and sent the toppings bowl FLYING. Most of the expensive part of my meal hit the floor, but I did manage to catch some of it… mayonnaise first… with my keys and highly textured wallet. Some very sweet friends helped me salvage what I could (and got napkins to wipe my precious money… I mean, toppings, off the floor) and I still had a pretty decent lunch. I mean, as decent of a lunch as one can have when one spends 20 minutes scraping mayonnaise out of the tiny nooks of their wallet with a mechanical pencil and reeks of America’s favorite condiment for the rest of the day. So, yeah, maybe a pump of mayo on top wasn’t my best loophole after all. Day dampened, but not ruined.

Fast forward a few hours and I am at a meeting to discuss the creative elements of our Tuesday night service for my campus ministry. I had hustled there from a class and was sweating profusely and feeling pretty miserable. We were chatting before the meeting started and I was absentmindedly fanning myself by flapping the bottom edge of my sweater. Unfortunately, with the skin-tight tank top on, my stomach wasn’t getting any air. So I grabbed the lip of my undershirt too and keep on fanning and chatting until I noticed the look of HORROR that the women’s minister was giving me from across the table. You see, I was slouched in my chair and leaned pretty far back so every time I pulled my shirt away from my body, I was pulling it UP and away and providing her with a direct visual to my bare breasts.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever had the displeasure of flashing your titties to a Christian leader in a church related meeting before, but there’s just not a good way to recover from that… Especially when your campus minister is sitting two seats over (thankfully on his laptop so he didn’t see anything and is graciously pretending he doesn’t hear what’s going on). But just imagine it. There is no recovery. You just pray that you’ll sink through the floor or that sweet death will take you as you curse yourself for not putting on a bra that morning, you dirty hippy.

So, yeah, that was my day. I have been firmly put back in my place by life today. Lesson learned. All I can do now is try to sleep it off and (by sharing it) laugh it off as well.

Until next time,

Adieu

How a Bottle of Lotion Reminded Me of My Self-Worth

Dear readership,

You’ll have to excuse the middle school angst vibes of this post and hear me out for a second while I make my point… today I found an old, forgotten bottle of lotion under a pile of random stuff in my room and decided to use it to moisturize my legs after I showered (lotion doesn’t expire, does it? Hopefully not, because this bottle was no spring chicken). Anyway, no sooner than I started applying it, I felt an immediate dip in my mood/self-esteem. I suddenly felt like I was an annoying person who wasn’t worthy of anyone’s time or attention and that I didn’t have anything meaningful to contribute to the world. I felt ugly, insecure, and incredibly anxious. I was about ready to burn the bottle and take a second shower to try to scrape the residue of the evil, sadness-infused lotion off of my body when I suddenly realized what had possessed me: the smell.

I used to use this lotion a lot when I was involved with a guy who made me feel all of those things about myself and I usually put some on before I saw him. The lotion made me feel so bad because my nose decided to teleport my brain back to a much darker time in the life of self-perceived Sierra. Once I consciously made the connection, the gut reaction began to fade and it was just lotion again. I have to say, the viscerally powerful link between smell and memory will never cease to amaze me. Even before I remembered the connection, my body felt it and I think that is super cool. More importantly, I was given the chance to accurately see how incredibly far I have come since then. That excruciating moment of self-loathing was almost unbearable and it’s how I used to feel about myself all of the time– Like I was barely tolerable at best. 

It was so eye-opening because back then I was convinced that I was happy. I had no idea what happiness had the potential to feel like when you’re with someone who values you or, more importantly, when you value yourself. When I was with that guy I viewed myself and what I could be through the lens of his eyes and he made it VERY clear that I didn’t amount to much. After that relationship ended, I learned the life-changing technique of looking at myself — I mean REALLY looking at myself– through Christ’s eyes. To him my worth is limitless and through him I am capable of anything. It was a slow journey to start to see myself that way and some days I still forget to do it, but when you see yourself the way someone who is willing to die for you sees you, you begin to realize all that you are and can be. That realization of worth became all the more real when I started to date someone who saw it too and who refuses to let me think poorly of myself.

The moral of this story is twofold.

1) You never know what ghosts from your past are going to pop up when you clean your room or how they’ll derail your productivity with introspection. Proceed with caution.

2) I matter. You matter. Remember that you matter. Surround yourself with people who remind you that you matter, and until you find them, remember that the same God who created the universe thought you mattered enough to die for. I think we in the Christian world say, “God thought you were worth dying for” too often so we tend to take it for granted. But stop right now and think about it. That makes you pretty dang worthy, doesn’t it?

Incredible.

Until next time,

Adieu

Mistakes Have Been Made

Dear Readership,

Today — in a moment of total weakness — I bought a Boston Cream doughnut at the gas station by my house for the low, low price of $1.49 and a piece of my very soul. It all started because I have gotten into the rather bad habit of driving with the gas light on for as long as possible before I refill. After two days of that sucker shining, I was starting to get antsy. I had been cramming for a Spanish test all afternoon and decided to run out for gas. When I pulled into the station, the first thing I noticed was that the air smelled like cigarette smoke — someone must of just finished their smoke break, right? No biggie. I walked inside — the air in there smelled very pungently of cigarettes too, but my nose quickly adjusted. I stalked up and down the isles, clutching my $20 to my chest, looking for a quick snack that wouldn’t take up too much of my fuel fund. Then I spotted it — the doughnut case.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a sucker for pastries. I mean, anything made 90% of sugar and covered in frosting belongs in my belly. But I’ve been trying to eat healthy recently so its been a hot minute since I’ve had one. I usually set my sites on tasty sweets of a higher caliber (if every bite is going to add a pound of cellulite directly to my thighs, then it needs to be a pretty damn good pastry). But tonight I was especially busy, they were right in front of me, I was rather hungry, and I caved. I picked out a particularly enticing looking Boston Cream doughnut, paid for it (and my gas) and left. When I got to the car, I excitedly chomped down into my snack and instead of being delighted, I pulled away with a mouthful of disappointment.

Now, if you’ve never found yourself unfortunate enough to taste disappointment, allow me to explain to you what it’s like…. The first blow was the fact that the doughy part of my treat (that should have tasted like a fluffy cloud of sugary goodness) tasted instead like the butt of a cigarette. “HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO STUPID?!” I wondered.  Of course the cigarette smoke would have leaked into the doughnut case and infected the unsealed treats. I was disgusted.  But mamma didn’t raise no quitter. I was determined to get to the cream in the center in the hopes that it would redeem my doughnut, so I soldiered on through my chocolate-covered ashtray. I can not begin to describe how crushed I was when I reached the sweetened condensed milk flavored gelatinous mass in the center of my doughnut. It was overpoweringly sweet in a soupy, artificial, and ever-so-slightly tin can flavored kind of way. I ended up squeezing most of it into a bag before nibbling the chocolate off the top of the doughnut (you know, because I don’t know when to give up and because it wasn’t that bad) and then I tearfully threw the rest away.

After chugging nearly a half-gallon of water mixed with my own tears, I swore off gas station pastries for life. Then, burrying my grief so deep down inside of myself it will probably take counseling to uncover it, I got back to cramming. I foolishly assumed that the doughnut would be nothing more than a bad memory, but alas, I was not to be so lucky. The nightmare for me was only just beginning. Some 20 odd minutes after consumption my stomach began to really roil and my whole body complained of feeling queasy and unwell. A burp welled up and to my extreme dismay IT TASTED LIKE ASHTRAY. “Dear god, what did I eat??” I began to wonder… it wasn’t until I had to drop what I was doing and make a mad dash for the nearest bathroom that I knew: I had eaten a doughnut straight from the pits of hell itself. I partook of the chocolate-covered temptation and now I was paying with my very life. I have never felt more empathy or understanding for Eve than I do right now.

Pray for this sinner, y’all, it’s going to be a long night.

Until next time,

Adieu

 

Men Are People Too

Dear Readership,

Wowzers! Did I ever drop the ball on blogging over Christmas break. I’m sure you were heartbroken, but have no fear! I’m back.

I imagine you’re all tentatively scrolling with your trigger finger delicately posed on judgment blasters, just waiting for a post like this with a title like that to be political (maybe even a #metoo story). It’s not. Maybe it could be, but really it’s more of a writer’s block confession.

I have, for the past two or three weeks, been trying to write a post about my recent encounter with what I am 96.5% sure were alien lifeforms undercover at the world’s most perfect (i.e. too perfect) gas station. I have some pretty rock-solid evidence, but I guess it’s a post for another day because every time I sat down to write it, it was choked out by another story. My story?

I have always struggled with being comfortable around men. I mean, always. From neighbors to family friends, classmates to strangers, waiters to cashiers, even some of my own friends–they’ve all made me uncomfortable at one time or another. All through high-school my palms would sweat and my heart would race if my friend’s dads or brothers tried to converse with me. My freshman year I asked to please be placed on an all-girls floor (which didn’t happen). My sophomore year I had a panic attack every time I went to see my university assigned male therapist (no, the irony of that is not lost on me). And any time a male professor called on me I forgot how to string words into sentences (ask me about how I’ve made a total ass of myself every time my favorite professor has endeavored to speak to me. It’s a real cringer). Somewhere along the way though, it got better. And then somewhere in the last two months it got infinity worse again. I’m jumpy, paranoid, and unsocial. I have opted to stand in long grocery lines to avoid the open registers of male clerks, I’ve walked to class so I don’t have to say hi to the bus driver, and I’ve washed dishes at a party (more than once) so I didn’t have to mingle.

Do I know why I’ve relapsed? No, not really. Am I tired of being afraid? Very. Men are just people. Just half the people in existence. Half of the people in my life. People I have to talk to and interact with.

If I’m being honest, this post is more for me than you. I’m trying to figure it out too. I can trace different threads of potential triggers — going through periods of high strain on my relationship with my father, being in past relationships with guys who needed to be told ‘no’ before I realized I had the voice to say it, being objectified or grabbed by strangers, enduring belittling comments from men I didn’t have the energy to argue with, etc. etc. etc.. I guess those are all valid reasons to explain my anxiety, but they’re not new reasons and they don’t explain the last few months of renewed fear. They don’t explain why I can’t sleep; why I’ve been anxious; why I’m fearful about going outside at night; or why I’m perpetually afraid of being followed. Those are not normal things to feel, and yet they’re my norm. I do feel a little better after having it all written out, but I don’t feel any closer to understanding what’s going on or why.

Anyway, that’s me these days. That’s the reason I haven’t been writing. Every funny or clever thing I wanted to say has been dammed up behind  a whole big lump of fear that I don’t know how to deal with and can’t avoid. I was sort of hoping that if I went ahead and acknowledged my problem then my anxiety would politely tip its hat and amble on its merry way to ruin someone else’s creative energy. Fingers crossed that that’s still what happens and I’ll be back to writing soon. I guess we’ll see.

Until next time,

Adieu

Mucking About

Dear Readership,

As I officially start to unwind after the semester, I thought it would be fun to share with you what a lot of my semester was like. I was lucky enough to get a spot in a very small class on playwriting with my ALL TIME favorite professor (joking-not-joking, if he started a cult I would probably join it). This class has stretched me as a writer and challenged my usual novel-esque techniques and crutches to make me better, bolder, more intentional, and to the point. Long and short, I LOVED it. So I present to you a copy of one of my short plays I wrote this semester. A lot of sweat, blood, and tears went into this project (by which I mean sleep-deprivation, coffee, and actual tears went into this project). I hope you like it!

If you’ll forgive me a small brag, my professor called it possibly the most ambitious play anyone had ever turned into him and used it as an example of my ability to write complexly when he wrote my letter of recommendation for grad school. *fan girl screams* it was probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever been paid by someone whose creative genius I idolize. All that to say, here t’is!

*Disclaimer* there is some language, especially towards the third scene. My deepest apologies if you find it distasteful.

~~~~

 

Mucking About

 

Cast of Characters

HARRY WELLINGTON:  32 years old, irritatingly pragmatic operative

WILLIAM FITZHERBERT:  29 years old, emotionally impulsive, Wellington’s partner

DEBORAH GEITZMAN:  45 years old,  The boss at Radar HQ

MAGNOLIA FLETCHA:  35 years old, the person in the chair at Radar HQ

ELMER MORRIS:   22 years old, the twitchy intern

Setting:  A Baltimore alleyway, early fall, 1855. Laundry hangs from lines overhead and various heaps of unwanted materials sit in the background — crates, pallets, a few garbage cans, and an old rug among them.  

At Rise:  The cobblestone streets are awash in the dim flickering glow of recently lit lamplight. There are two men onstage, neither of whom are moving. One, dressed rather raggedly, sits slumped against a wall with his eyes closed and head lolling to one side. The other, dressed much nicer, lies face down center stage in a pool of blood. Two more men enter in conversation. Both are well dressed, but beginning to look a little bedraggled.

WELLINGTON   

Quite frankly there is very little in this world I wouldn’t do right now for a hot meal and decent bed. Do you know I think I am actually getting fleas?

FITZHERBERT

I daresay you’ve always had them. But I agree! If I do not get a plateful of pork chops and gravy soon I may very well kill–

(both men see the body and stop short)

WELLINGTON  (sighs)

Not again.

FITZHERBERT  

Well, dammit all. This does complicate things, doesn’t it?

WELLINGTON  

What an imbecilic thing to go and do.

FITZHERBERT  

To die? That seems a mite unfair.

WELLINGTON  

Well he hasn’t just died now, has he? The idiot’s gone and gotten killed.

FITZHERBERT  

He couldn’t possibly have known it was coming, could he?

WELLINGTON  

Couldn’t he?

FITZHERBERT

Oh, I don’t know.  

FITZHERBERT  

What are we going to do?

WELLINGTON  

Well we can’t leave him here. He could ruin everything. We’ll have to find somewhere to hide the body.

FITZHERBERT  

Oh, no. This is a new waistcoat! I don’t want blood all over it.
(WELLINGTON gives him a dirty look)
No, of course. You’re right. Let’s get him out of here. I think the easiest thing to do is– I say! There’s someone else here.

WELLINGTON  (whips around frantically)

What?! We’ve been compromised. We’ll have to kill him.

(FITZHERBERT approaches the sleeping man and takes a deep whiff)

FITZHERBERT  

That seems hasty, this man’s drunk.

WELLINGTON  

Are you sure?

FITZHERBERT

I’d bet my life on it. I know the smell of spirits better than I know the smell of my own mother.  

WELLINGTON  

And?

FITZHERBERT  

And I don’t think we have to kill him. He’s intoxicated. From the smell of him, very intoxicated. I doubt he’s been aware of anything for quite some time.

WELLINGTON   

Things are complicated enough without overestimating his intoxication and creating a new loose end to deal with.  

FITZHERBERT

This is a human being, you know, not a loose end to be “dealt with.”

WELLINGTON  

Look at him! Does he look like much of a human being anymore to you? We’d be doing the poor wretch a favor by sparing him of the burden of living any longer.

FITZHERBERT  

Somehow I doubt he’d feel that way. Why don’t we just leave him while we deal with the body. If he wakes up and we are forced to do something differently, we will.

WELLINGTON  

I suppose that is a compromise I can live with. But if things go amiss, the paperwork is your problem.

FITZHERBERT  

As I recall, you always make the paperwork my problem.

WELLINGTON  

Shut up and help me think of something to do with this body.

FITZHERBERT

What, like put him in one of those rubbish bins?

WELLINGTON  

Unless you have intentions of hacking him up a bit, no full grown man is going to fit into a rubbish bin.

FITZHERBERT  

So, what? Should we stick him under the crates then?

WELLINGTON  

That is possibly the worst idea I’ve ever heard. You know what, here, help me grab that rug.
(the two men grab the rolled up rug and spread it out next to the body)
There. Now you grab his feet and lay him on the edge.

FITZHERBERT  (grunting)

God, he weighs a ton.

WELLINGTON
(also grunting but trying to seem fine)

Just lift him, you idiot. There! Now roll.

(both men roll the body up in the rug, struggle to carry it back to where it had been originally propped, and nearly drop it. They step back to examine their work, breathing heavily)

FITZHERBERT  

Somehow I feel like a body shaped lump in a rug isn’t really better than a body smushed under a stack of crates. It’s still pretty, uh –what’s the word — eye-grabbing.

WELLINGTON

Perhaps, but we’ve dealt with it as best we can. Now, back to the issue at hand – Elijah Knollwood was last seen in this general area. If we didn’t waste too much time here we may still be able to catch him and get home before supper.

FITZHERBERT

Right, of course. I think our best bet is going to be heading–

(WELLINGTON cuts him short by pulling his gun. He points to the drunk man who has roused just enough to retch on himself)

WELLINGTON  

Look! He’s waking up.

FITZHERBERT  

Stop! He didn’t see anything. You don’t have to do this!

WELLINGTON

Stand back! He could be the killer.

(WELLINGTON aims his gun at the bum, but FITZHERBERT jumps in the way and tries to take the gun from him. The two men fall to the ground and wrestle over it vigorously for a minute before a gunshot rings out. FITZHERBERT jumps back, surprised)

FITZHERBERT  (shaking his companion)

Wellington? Wellington! Oh no… It was me. It was my fault the whole time. I’m the killer.

(FITZHERBERT makes eye contact with the bum for a long second before bolting off stage. The bum looks around him bewildered. He looks at the body then at the audience, then passes out again. The stage is still for 10 very uncomfortable seconds)

(Enter WELLINGTON and FITZHERBERT)  

WELLINGTON   

Quite frankly there is very little in this world I wouldn’t do right now for a hot meal and decent bed. Do you know I think I am actually getting fleas?

FITZHERBERT

I daresay you’ve always had them. But I agree! If I do not get a plateful of pork chops and gravy soon I may very well kill–

(both men see the body and stop short)

WELLINGTON  (sighs)

Not again.

BLACKOUT

SCENE II

(Out of the darkness we hear an unfamiliar voice)

FLETCHA  

On September 22nd, 1855, Elijah Knollwood, a newspaperman and Baltimore socialite, killed his mistress, Eliza Matkins, and their two young children. He shot all three after an altercation in which Matkins threatened to expose Knollwood’s infidelity to the public and ruin his career if he didn’t divorce his wife. As tragic as the event was, the death of Knollwood’s younger son, Peter, was ultimately for the greater good. At age six Peter was no threat to society, but by age thirty-one he would travel to New York to meet, seduce, and eventually marry Jennie Jerome…

LIGHTS UP

Radar Headquarters, 2095.  There are no windows in the fluorescently lit room to indicate season or time of day. The insipid white walls and a long line of monitor screens give the overall environment a feel of government-issued sterility and high intelligence. FLETCHA sits at a desk with a file open in front of her and GEITZMAN stands behind, looking on.

GEITZMAN  

It’s been a long night, Fletcha, drop the theatrics and remind me why I care.

FLETCHA

Right, sorry. Well, Jennie Jerome –or as you probably know her –Lady Randolph Churchill is remembered by history for being the mother of Winston Churchill.  She was never meant to marry Peter Knollwood. The implications could be catastrophic.

GEITZMAN  

Wait, so you’re telling me this Peter kid doesn’t get shot in the head and suddenly Winston Churchill is never born?

FLETCHA  

Sort of. It’s not really that simple, but short answer  yes.

GEITZMAN

And why am I just now hearing this?

FLETCHA  

We had two operatives on the case already. Only, something’s gone wrong.

GEITZMAN  (sighing)

Doesn’t it always?

FLETCHA  

Somehow they’ve come across one of their own bodies.

GEITZMAN  

And?

FLETCHA  

And I’m not exactly sure what’s happening, but they’re stuck in a loop. If I’m reading these heat signatures correctly, they’ve discovered the body four different times now and each time they are unable to move past the anomaly without recreating it.  

(Enter MORRIS)

MORRIS  

Sorry to interrupt. One fat free latte — extra hot, and one large black coffee with two espresso shots and four pumps of sugar-free french vanilla.

GEITZMAN  

Geez, Fletcha, that’s a lot of syrup.

FLETCHA  

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize my coffee order was offensive to you. Besides, what’s the point of an extra hot latte?

GEITZMAN

They steam the milk longer.

FLETCHA

Okay, but ask yourself — do they really? Do you really think the barista on the fourth floor takes an extra 30 seconds on your steamed milk?

(GEITZMAN peers suspiciously at her cup)

MORRIS  

I — uh, I can take it back if you want?  

GEITZMAN  

No, actually, I have a different job for you. Listen, we need a new variable in a situation on the field. Someone who can mix things up and change the inevitable so that we can get back to changing a different inevitable back to what it was supposed to be in the first place. God! Can you believe they thought the Cold War was tricky back in the day? What’s an atom bomb compared with trying to keep humanity from unraveling itself at the source?  

MORRIS  

Wait, you want me on the field? But-but I’m an intern.

GEITZMAN  

Right, and one they won’t recognize. You can’t directly confront someone who’s stuck in a time loop like that, it gets… complicated. You just need to be there once to observe what happens and once to change it, got it?

MORRIS  

But… how? Won’t they see me?

FLETCHA  

I’ve been thinking about that. They’re in a pretty unpopulated, rundown part of town. I’m pretty sure we can plant you somewhat inconspicuously. Say, as a bum? If we put you in period dress, rough you up a bit, and I don’t know, douse you in a fair bit of rum — they won’t suspect a thing.

GEITZMAN  

Perfect. What’s your name again?

MORRIS  (wounded)

What? I’m–I’m Morris. Elmer Morris.

GEITZMAN  (sighing)  

Right. Okay, well, come with me. I’ll debrief you and take you back. I don’t know how long we have to fix this and complete the original mission, but it needs to happen before the historic lag wears off. I’m not really interested in seeing the implications of a world without Churchill play out.

(both Exit)

BLACKOUT

SCENE III

Back in the original alley as we left it. MORRIS is passed out in a pool of his own vomit on the back wall and WELLINGTON is lying dead on stage. Enter MORRIS and GEITZMAN in conversation

GEITZMAN  

(looking at a hand held monitor of some kind)

Okay, hurry. We need to get you in place before they make their first appearance. Let’s put you over here against — shit. Is that already you?!

MORRIS  (whimpering)

Oh my god, am I — am I dead?

GEITZMAN  

Dammit. I guess we’re not the first versions of ourselves to think of this. Now what? God, I hate this job.

MORRIS  

Wait, if he’s me and he’s dead, why am I not dead?

GEITZMAN  

This is basic level stuff, Morris. If you die in your own current time on your own timeline, you’re dead. But if you die in the past, then only the you of that exact moment stops living. “You” as an essence continues on because technically you weren’t there for your death, you don’t overlap with yourself. Other alternative versions of you live your life and get up to the moment when you decided to go back in time and can decide whether or not to go back, whether or not to put themselves in the same position, make the same choices, etc.

MORRIS  (still whining)

Wait, so like alternate versions of me in alternate universes?

GEITZMAN  

Now’s really not the time for this lecture. Short answer yes and no. You are a never-ending stream of conscious beings making distinct choices, but on top of yourselves. You are all distinctive, but also not separate. Think like a stack of transparencies. Separate seethrough pages containing different information but overlapped into a single complex image. Now multiply how confusing that is by a million and you’ll have a glimpse into my job.  

MORRIS  

Oh. Um, okay. (to himself) Please don’t let me be dead.

(The two go over to examine the vomit covered MORRIS to determine whether or not he is dead. Once they get close, another MORRIS creeps out from behind some crates where he had been hiding and hits the newest MORRIS over the head with a brick, thus knocking him unconscious)

GEITZMAN  

WHAT THE HELL! Morris? How many times did we send you here?

MORRIS  

Too many, Geitzman! Too damn many.

GEITZMAN  

Why did you hit yourself — er, him?

MORRIS  

I’m not supposed to interact with other versions of myself, right?

GEITZMAN  

What? No, that’s not a real thing. Who told you that?

MORRIS  

Seriously? I don’t know who told me that! No one’s really told me anything!  You’d think for a department that is dealing with such highly sensitive material you guys would have a budget to, I don’t know, maybe train the interns? Or here’s a new thought — NOT SEND THE COFFEE BOY ON A LIFE OR DEATH MISSION. You do know it’s my fault Wellington is even dead, right? Or at least, it has been the last two times he died. Whatever happened before that is beyond me.  

GEITZMAN  

You were supposed to change the outcome. What happened?

MORRIS  

I did what you told me to — I sat here and I waited for them to discover the body. They did. And then they thought I was the murderer. I had to sit here and pretend to be unconscious while they argued over whether or not they were going to kill me. I was freaking out, right? And yeah, I lost my nerve and vomited. It happens. Then trigger happy Harry here tries to kill me, his friend gets in the way, they wrestled, and I don’t know… Maybe he accidentally shot himself? Maybe theother guy got the gun and killed him? I didn’t see, but boom. Mystery solved. I was all set to do a do-over when, wouldn’t you know it, you come walking in with another version of me. I thought I wasn’t supposed to see myself — thanks for nothing — so I hid and got to watch the whole thing happen again from behind a heap of trash. If that won’t mess a guy up, I don’t know what will.

GEITZMAN  

And then what? You knocked that version of yourself out same as this one when we got here?

MORRIS  

(MORRIS points disgustedly to the version of himself still passed out in vomit)

Who, him? No. This guy’s such a pantywaste he got scared shitless and passes out on his own. And next thing I know, you’re here with a NEW me! Any chance you want to explain that?

GEITZMAN  

Shit. Did I explain the process for getting back to your current time?

MORRIS  

NO! Do you think I’d still be here if I knew how to go back?  

GEITZMAN  

I totally forgot that you couldn’t stay here without real-time communication with the present without running the risk that the newest versions of ourselves would make the decision to come here.  

MORRIS  

You are literally the worst director I’ve ever heard of. So, what? There are just three of me now? Are we all separate entities? If I kill them is it murder or just a purging of my own consciousness?

GEITZMAN  

That’s complicated. We probably shouldn’t keep talking about this here. Wellington and Fitzherbert will be here any minute.

MORRIS  

It’s all complicated, isn’t it? But how do I go back to there just being one of me?

GEITZMAN  (distractedly)

Huh? Oh, that part’s not that hard, really. All three of you just need to simultaneously converge on your most current self when you go back. You’ll probably merge seamlessly.

MORRIS  

Probably is not my favorite word in this context.

GEITZMAN  

Shut up. They’re coming. We need to move.

(Both step out of view of the approaching operatives but stay in view of the audience)

(Enter WELLINGTON and FITZHERBERT)

WELLINGTON   

Quite frankly there is very little in this world I wouldn’t do right now for a hot meal and decent bed. Do you know I think I am actually getting fleas?

FITZHERBERT

I daresay you’ve always had them. But I agree! If I do not get a plateful of pork chops and gravy soon I may very well kill–

(both men see the body and stop short)

WELLINGTON  (sighs)

Not again.

MORRIS  (harsh whisper)

I don’t understand, why can’t they see us?

GEITZMAN  

Have you met Wellington? The man’s good at his job but he’s an absolute ass. He won’t take help from anyone. If we directly confront him about being stuck in a loop he’ll become unbearable. It’s easier to redirect him than to deal with his fragile male ego.

MORRIS  

(Pause) … I really hate you.  You fractured me into like four versions of myself and traumatized at least two of them to avoid an unpleasant conversation!?

(MORRIS steps out into full view)

MORRIS  (con’t)

DON’T SHOOT. My name is Elmer Morris, I’m a Radar intern. The two men passed out over there? They’re me too. You’re going to want to kill them. Please don’t. I don’t think I can handle it emotionally. And neither can Fitzy here which is how you end up dead, Wellington, so calm your trigger finger. There are literally four of your dead bodies hidden in a fifteen foot radius of me right now and I’m over it. You’re stuck in a loop or whatever that even means and meanwhile Winston Churchill gets closer and closer to not existing out there. All of you need to get your shit together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get my selves together– like physically together — get us the hell back to the present, and hightail it to Georgetown University where I will officially be declaring my major as accounting. That’s right, accounting. I thought time travel would be cool, but it’s not. It’s scary and confusing and terrible and I took so many physics classes just to be here right now and let me tell you — not worth it. I quit.

(MORRIS snatches handheld monitor thing from GEITZMAN, puts it in his pocket, and drags both other MORRIS bodies off-stage)

WELLINGTON

Well — I — uh, I’m a little confused.

FITZHERBERT  

I killed you?

WELLINGTON  

Apparently.

FITZHERBERT  

And the intern?

GEITZMAN  

He grows a spine like that every so often. Not to worry. Nothing a little tinkering with his head won’t make him forget. He’s proven himself pretty much invaluable in our research on the effects of times travel on the human psyche. Now, if the two of you could stop mucking about and causing problems, you have a timeline to correct. It wasn’t easy talking Knollwood out of the murder, but if I can do it so can the Russians. They’re only a matter of years away from a breakthrough and we need to have all our bases covered.

BLACKOUT

~~~~~~

Anyway, this about sums up my semester. This is a work in progress that I plan to expand, so I’d love some feedback!

Until next time,

Adieu

[Insert Adage About Raining and Pouring]

Dear Readership,

You know those days that just aren’t that great and no matter what you do you can’t seem to make them better?

I have a lot of those.

Wednesday was not one of those days.

Wednesday was the kind of day that was so jam-packed with irritatingly bad nuances that it should be expunged from the annals of history (not to mention my life) so I can avoid intense trauma therapy.

It all started with a final presentation (doesn’t it always?) that I had to give right on the heels of a 24 hour throw-up virus. I had been up until about 2am the night before frantically cutting it down because we had a hard and fast 9 minute deadline (speaking of, who the heck makes a presentation deadline 9 minutes? That’s the most maddeningly odd number. Would 10 have killed ya?) and mine was a solid 14 minutes long. I spent the wee hours of the morning cutting out slides willy-nilly before deciding to take the L if it wasn’t good enough and passing out.

Wednesday dawned and I had had about 5 and 1/2 hours of sleep which I know is not that little, but I’m a strict 8 hours kind of gal. Anything less and I turn into a gremlin-like she-monster — malicious and more than a little ugly. I begrudgingly rolled out of bed and began to make myself presentable. It didn’t require a lot of mental energy (thank goodness) because I have exactly one presentation worthy outfit (a gray knit dress, purple tights, and some killer cute heels). Unfortunately, my dress was hanging next to the DampRid in my closet (because, you know, everything I own gets covered in mildew if I don’t hang that water-sucking, chemical-laden bag in there too) and it now pungently reeked of fake floral cleaner. I didn’t have time to scrounge together another semi-professional outfit so I spritzed myself with some extra body spray (as if that would help) and ran out the door. It had been in the 50s for a few days, so I felt like I was wearing a reasonably weather-appropriate outfit; however, when I stepped outside I was dismayed to discover that it was below freezing and not likely to warm up much past that all day.  So I hobbled — half-frozen — to the bus in my completely impractical outfit, and then proceeded to have one of the longest, busiest days on my feet that I’ve had this entire semester. Parts of it were really cool (like attending the raising of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee flag ceremony in the student union), but they were overshadowed a little by the fact that my feet were swollen from marching around a mountain in heels for nine hours, by having hives on my hands and face from the unexpected cold, and by the rash developing on my belly from my DampRid-soaked dress.

All days must end, however, and my incredibly looong day finally did too. I put on my comfiest slippers to appease my poor feet and decided to reward myself by buying a McDonald’s ice cream cone on the way to study at my boyfriend’s house. I pulled into the drive thru, rolled down my window, and *THUNK* it broke. The pane had detached from whatever mechanism roles the window up and down and fallen down inside the door. What was the worst part about all of this?

It was really hard to enjoy my ice cream cone while being pounded by the cold night air.

But broken windows are just a part of the adventure of driving a clunker, right? I could get through this. All I had to do was bundle up and blast the heat whenever I drove until I could figure out a good way to rig a cover. I convinced myself that all would be well and was determined to be an optimist about it.

Little did I know a mini-blizzard was on its way the next day to dump nine inches of snow on Boone town and my lil ol’ windowless car…

If your Wednesday (or any day) was worse, please, do share.

Until next time,

Adieu