One more lament from Larissa…

Now that LARISSA TAKES FLIGHT: STORIES has officially launched you can read all of her adventures and musings in paperback form, but here’s an extra one for the weekend…

Larissa and Spring Cleaning

I don’t trust my mother’s new vacuum cleaner robot. It’s just one more way technology is covertly planning to make us dependent and take over the world. The solution is obvious, stay dirty, but my boyfriend doesn’t agree and hands me the mop while he takes up the toilet brush for our war against the bathroom, and I sigh but march after him because it was his house before it was mine and this is part of the pact of being in a relationship. .
I understand that there are germs I can’t see and dust mites could give me respiratory problems, but it’s hard to be concerned about the invisible. My boyfriend scrubs the bowl wearing yellow plastic gloves and says I could have said the same thing about the black plague. He’s researched the dangers of uncleanliness and tries to haunt me with tales of rats and influenza, but I say being too clean reduces your immunity to icky bacteria. Bacteria, along with technology, has always been plotting against us.
My boyfriend has a job in the produce department, which makes him feel ethically pure and lets him tell people when eggplant and tomatoes are on sale. He is used to the repetitive nature of cleaning, mopping up spills and footprints and putting out yellow signs to tell people the floor is wet, so if they slip they can’t sue the store.
I know the effort is useless. After I clean things will just get dirty again.
My boyfriend says it’s like those sand paintings monks do as the meditate, letting the grains slip through the fingers to form intricate mandalas that take half a day to create before they blow them away and form the next one. He says permanence isn’t the point, the point is the act itself, and he looks at me over the rims of his glasses like he thinks it’s my fault that I can’t find solace in mopping.
I never felt bad about dirt until my mother came to visit, because she guilted me into cleanliness like she did when I was a kid so I vacuum in a haze of remorse. Mom said I’d feel different about cleaning when I got older, I’d notice dirt like she did. That radar never kicked in, so I was born without it or mine is just defective. She loves my philosopher boyfriend, says we make a great couple, but I’m sure half of this is because he believes in brooms.

Another Larissa story (exclusive to my blog)

Less than two weeks before the official launch of Larissa Takes Flight: Stories, so here’s another one of her adventures to whet your appetite.

Larissa vs. the Refrigerator

 Because my fridge is vindictive it dies with a half a chocolate cheesecake inside and I launch into a panic because there’s seventy bucks of food crammed in that white box, so I carry it in laundry baskets from apartment to apartment in the building, pleading for sympathy and fridge space (but please don’t eat the cheesecake). After an hour most of my provisions have found temporary lodging and I call the landlord in a culinary panic because I don’t think my fridge can be resurrected from the great electric beyond. I’m shrill enough so that she gives me permission to choose a new used fridge from the appliance store and she’ll check it out tomorrow, so I drive to the store with my philosopher boyfriend.

I know my grandma had an icebox when she was a kid, a cupboard cooled by a huge block of ice delivered twice a week, and there was a drip pan underneath to catch the melted water, but it was an age blossoming with innovation and my great-grandma was sick of drip pans. She wanted an electric fridge, but Great-Grandpa said they were too expensive and a waste. Great-Grandma did laundry for the local appliance salesperson and put the fridge on layaway, paid for it with piles of clean pants and starched shirts, then she had the man who lived five doors down install an outlet behind a wall calendar, so when the new fridge was delivered Great-Grandma hung the calendar on the handle and waited for Great-Grandpa to come home. He frowned at the new fridge’s electric hum, moved his cheese to the old icebox, and poured out the drip pan every day because he never gave into the future easily.

As we trudge the aisles of range tops and ovens, my boyfriend reminds me that keeping things cool is a luxury, and if I lived without electricity in a small Japanese fishing village this wouldn’t bother me, but I say if I lived in a small Japanese fishing village I wouldn’t know about cheesecake, I’d eat fish and rice and be lactose intolerant, and since I know about cheesecake I can’t very well forget it. My boyfriend rolls his eyes, but I’ll admit that normalcy depends on time and place, and this is why I didn’t have four kids by the age of twenty or die of cholera, but in one hundred years will people say I had it rough since they live underwater in glass bubbles that used to be New York City, looking up into the blue and dreaming of a piece of sky? But I shouldn’t be depressed as I choose my new used refrigerator, this is the price of living in this time and place and needing cheesecake. As my boyfriend and I drive home I know I don’t ask for much in the way of present luxuries, just the ability to open that door and eat last night’s cold pizza in peace.





Larissa’s Launch: Another Preview

Three weeks left until the official launch of Larissa Takes Flight: Stories!  Here’s another story that doesn’t appear in the book, in case you need an early peek into Larissa’s world…

Larissa and Blood Sports


For one and a half years in high school, my usual walk-to-school attire was a midriff top, miniskirt, high boots, and fishnets if I could leave the house without my mom hauling me back inside. Sometimes I slammed the door on her scream, but not always. That resulted in drag out-fights about how my parents never let me do anything. I had to take off the fishnets and wear a skirt that fell to my knees, then grouse out the door again

I kept jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes in my backpack and changed clothes in a gas station bathroom across the street from the high school. Mission accomplished. I had freaked out my mom again, and could deflect boys with a stern keep-away eye.

My parents had raised me too well, instilled decent morals and a sense of individuality. I knew that would come in handy later, but in high school their teachings on not drinking or using drugs sat in my head like concrete blocks. I didn’t have or want a boyfriend. My job was to keep track of others’ love games. There were no rules, no time outs, no penalties. I was a scorekeeper with my pen and notebook, a fly on five walls so I could give the morning, noon, and after school statistics, listing skirmishes and random hallway encounters.

Fights could build to a crescendo over a matter of days or a couple class periods, end with a ring of the bell and the scuffling of shoes. Play was short, fast, and dirty. There was no padding, just blood and ink on notes penned in class. I paid attention to speculation, knew which whispers to dismiss and which to tuck in the back of my mind, a space behind my left ear reserved for those details.

The players were gladiators, ready to tempt death at the hands of the high school rumor mill, their pride and hearts offered for a pummeling. It was a game to see who could care the most about their beloved, a game to see who could breach zippers most efficiently, a game to see who’d trample last week’s lover, leaving red cleat prints.

There was no one more elated than a sixteen-year-old girl whose boyfriend hid balloons in her locker on her birthday, no one more deathly defeated than that same boy given the cold shoulder two weeks later for no apparent reason, no rush like trying to make out in the janitor’s closet or the band booster concession stand without getting caught.

The wounded snarled, hefted their backpacks, and slogged to the next class. It was best to leave them alone to resurrecting their ego for another day. I’d read enough to know love had always been like this and we couldn’t invent anything that hadn’t already happened, though everyone else at school seemed to think we were the creators of the original tragedy.

In the evening while my classmates talked about the day’s matches on the phone, I curled in my room and played eardrum-blasting music, doing algebra problems and waiting for my mom to yell at me to turn it down. I didn’t need to discuss the games with anyone, let others take care of the commentary, too busy planning my next mother-thwarting outfit in the game of parental displeasure. It was all about strategy.

Larissa’s Launch: Preview #1

Only one month to go before the release of my flash fiction collection, Larissa Takes Flight: Stories.  Leading up to the launch, I’ll be posting a few Larissa stories that don’t appear in the book (and will therefore be exclusive to my blog).  Enjoy!

Larissa and the Latest Scientific Study

 Last week I read a report that said plastics will kill me by eating my liver or f*cking up my hormones or something equally treacherous, and I realized the miracle of science is that it invents great conveniences that destroy us and cause humanity to wonder if it was so bad in those African grasslands after we came down from trees to hunt prehistoric steaks with huge teeth. Yesterday that was the story of our lives, the lions would get us, but now it’s chemicals in water jugs and tainted peaches and the inside of tomato sauce cans and whatever toxin the company down the road dumped into the river last night, but because we’re advanced we can conduct studies on how everything may or may not kill us but at least it kills rats, those unwilling martyrs, and perhaps every town should have a monument outside the post office, a fist-sized silver rat on a pedestal so we remember how we produce bottles and bottles of water, then give the water to rats and see if they die. If you’ve ever met anyone who had a rat as a pet you know they can go on for hours about how rats are people too, so sweet and intelligent, but the rest of the world knows a rat by any other name belongs in a cage winding through mazes for cheese, and maybe what we need is a Disney movie where girl rat meets boy rat and they fall in rat love, then boy rat eats a peanut butter cookie laced with the latest cancer-treating drug and his liver gets dissected (but that’s off camera), and six-year-olds won’t care that he donated his body to science because he was so darn cute and endearing and in love with the girl rat who in her grief consumes so much tainted bread that she explodes. But people say it’s the rats or us, and we do this a lot with life, create and extinguish, create and extinguish, so we can saturate ourselves with the knowledge of contemporary dangers, but how many little lives equal a person? It’s impossible math, because how many of us would say, Sure, I’ll be the first to try that new experimental medication. How many would say, I didn’t care much about my liver anyway. How many would say, I think I’ll go climb a tree because things were simpler up there.


Larissa Takes Flight: the early reviews…

It’s only a month before the official launch of my next book, Larissa Takes Flight: Stories, so make sure to book a reading date and/or reserve your copy now.

To further whet your appetite, click below to read an early review of the book.  It was written by Jim Booth for the arts and politics blog Scholars & Rogues.




Read (and vote for) my work on PhoneFiction

Remember to check out my stories on PhoneFiction.com.   Here’s a link to another story below, one titled “Fat Lady to Marry Skeleton Man: Tickets $.25.”



Book club bookings

I’m more than happy to arrange Skype chats with books clubs if any are interested in reading either of my two books–The Patron Saint of Unattractive People or Bearded Women: Stories.  It’s fun to chat with readers and I’m always happy to answer questions.  Just make a request to have me as your Skype contact, let me know which book you’d like your club to read, and we can take it from there.

One more day before the Saint comes marching in…

Tomorrow is L-Day, the official launch date for THE PATRON SAINT OF UNATTRACTIVE PEOPLE.  I’ll also be doing a reading at Mochas Coffehouse in Gunnison, CO, on Thursday, September 12th at 7 p.m.  There will be free coffee for attendees, as well as books for sale, so a good time is sure to be had by all.



Patron Saint Teaser time…

Because it’s just ten days before the release of my novel, THE PATRON SAINT OF UNATTRACTIVE PEOPLE, I figured now would be a good time to post a picture of the cover to my blog along with the first paragraph of the novel.  If you come to one of my readings, you can even hear the paragraph after that, and the paragraph after that, and maybe even the paragraph after that…


Dad boasts that Drogo’s is the only coffee shop in the world with a relic. It’s not really a relic; it’s a piece of wood, but Dad has never been one to dwell on details. According to him, the wood came from the shepherd’s crook of Saint Drogo, the patron saint of coffee house keepers, mutes, orphans, and unattractive people. Our fragment is as big as two quarters and stained darkly enough to suggest that it’s nine centuries old. We keep it in a small glass box across from the front counter and cash register. The box is attached to the wall and surrounded by a gilded frame. Dad believes in display, which is important since nothing hints that the little piece of wood didn’t come from a broomstick except for its dark color, and that wouldn’t be hard to fake. But our customers are faithful, and some of the regulars bow their heads and touch the glass box when they come in for a cappuccino or espresso or latte. I don’t know if they’re praying, making a wish, or saying hello to Drogo, but the coffee shop could use a few prayers.

One more deleted scene from Patron Saint…

Only a month left before the release of THE PATRON SAINT OF UNATTRACTIVE PEOPLE.   To further whet your appetite, here’s another deleted scene:

In the afternoon Herbert brings me ice cream. He does that whenever he can, whether it’s eighty or twenty degrees outside. Today it’s warm so we sit in front of the shop with plastic spoons and pint boxes of butter pecan. Herbert tells me how well half his students are doing and how badly the other half of his students are doing and how the the basketball coach keeps harassing him.

“He likes hitting me on the back and calling me buddy,” says Herbert. “I don’t know if he’s trying to be nice or make fun of me.”

“What do you do?” I say.

“Stay in the chemistry room as much as possible and ignore him,” says Herbert. “I also daydream about putting sodium in his shoes. It would be great when it reacted with his sweat.”

“You’re too nice for something like that,” I say.

“I’m too much of a coward,” he says. “I can hold my own in front of a bunch of sixteen-year-olds, but not many other people.”

“Most people can’t hold their own in front of sixteen-year-olds,” I say.

“You have to know when to speak softly,” he says, “and when to scare the shit out of them with a chemical reaction.”

I lick a blob of ice cream off my spoon and smile. It always strikes me as funny when Herbert swears. He sees my smile and smiles back.

“Do you want to go to the zoo this weekend?” he says.

“I have to work,” I say.

“What about the art museum,” he says. “They have a great glass exhibit.”

“I have to work,” I say.

“You get breaks sometimes,” he says.

“I’ll see how I feel,” I say.

“Going to the zoo wouldn’t take very long,” he says. “It would be fun.”

“Maybe,” I say. The last time we went to the zoo together, we spent the whole time in the fish and reptile house. Herbert told me about a kind of cell in fish and squid that makes them change color to blend in with their surroundings.

At the art museum he tells me about the chemical processes involved in blowing glass or soldering metal and what happens to all those molecules when they get hot. I don’t care about fish cells or molecular structure, I just want to look at the animals and the art, but Herbert is compelled to turn everything into a lecture. I think he’s been teaching high school too long.