May 28 2008

The Day I Almost Changed My Mind

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I walked around the office gingerly, trying to figure out where would be the best place to sit, not too close to anybody, but not completely removed either so that nobody would think I was snobbish. Everybody took me in without directly looking at me, the way you do with people thrust into the same situation you’re in without wanting to actually engage them in conversation. Eventually I found a spot, picked up the magazine I was least disinterested in, and flipped through it looking at the ads until my name was called.

There was some small talk with a person who took my weight, temperature, blood pressure, and all of the metal items I was wearing or carrying. Then I was put into a small office with more magazines and asked to wait. I had just gotten comfortably asleep when the door opened and I sat up again, greeted by a man slightly older than myself but much wealthier. He asked me how I was (“okay, I suppose,”) and looked at his notes.

“So,” the doctor said. “Are we changing your mind today?”

“Well…” I said.

“Well what?”

“I don’t really want to,” I said. “Isn’t there any other option?”

“You don’t want to keep going around with that mind you’ve got now, do you?” he said.

“Well it’s not like I’m that attached to it,” I said. “But I don’t really want to change it.”

“Look at all the trouble it’s caused you. And it’s only going to get worse.”

“I know, I know.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“I’m used to my mind,” I said. “It doesn’t work very well, I know, but a new one is such a hassle. Getting a new one I have to reset all my preferences, tweak all the settings, all that jazz. And honestly, I’m not convinced a new one would really be any better than the one I’ve got. I mean really, this one does pretty much everything I want it to.”

“But a new one would do it so much faster,” said the doctor. “And let’s face it, the one you’ve got now isn’t going to be supported much longer. Sooner or later you’ll have to change it, you won’t have a choice. Why put up with all that difficulty? If you change your mind now, you’ll get all the benefits of a new one right away. It’s not like it’s really that hard to get used to. By this time next week, you’ll be wondering how you got along with that old mind all this time.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I want to think about it before I change my mind.”

The doctor gave a sigh and a shrug of resignation. “Okay,” he said, “if that’s really the way you feel. But it’s going to be harder to change your mind later, and probably cost more in the long run.”

“Well, if that’s the case, I’ll just deal with it then. But I don’t want to change my mind before I’m ready.”

“If that’s what you want, that’s what you want,” said the doctor. “I think it’s a mistake — a man your age will probably need to change your mind more and more as time goes on. But it’s your mind, you’ll have to decide when to change it I guess.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“If you do decide to change your mind,” the doctor said, “just call and make another appointment. We’ll be glad to take care of it for you.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’m sure I’ll change my mind eventually. But not today.” I got up and went out, collected all my metal objects, and went home.

(Originally posted to my LiveJournal.)

May 21 2008


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Greg lay on the couch, idly scritching behind the ears of Ozymandias, who sat on his chest purring quietly. “I feel like being witty and insightful today,” Greg said.

“No skin off my nose,” said Brigid, sitting in the recliner with the ruins of the Sunday paper splattered around her feet. “Go right ahead.”

“Well, that’s the thing,” said Greg. “You can’t just spontaneously be witty and insightful; it needs prompting.”

“Ah,” said Brigid.

Time passed.

A minute later, time continued to pass.

“No suggestions, eh?” said Greg.

“Not really.”

“Oh well.”

A bit more time got bored and passed.

“I suppose,” said Brigid, “you could be insightful and witty about lazing around the house.”

Greg pondered this for a moment, then said, “I suppose I could, but what’s the point? It’s like writing a haiku about doorknobs.”

“There you go, wit and insight. Mission accomplished.”

“Huh,” said Greg. “I suppose so. But I was hoping for something better.”

-The Gneech

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May 19 2008


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Brigid sat, staring resolutely at her knees as her mother came in. The teacher, Miss Lebsdale (or “Miss Lobster” as the student were generally more inclined to think of her), looked up from her paperwork at Isadora’s entrance. “Mrs. Franks,” she said. “Do come in.”

Isadora gave Brigid a less-than-pleased look, put down her coat and purse and, with a pause that clearly indicated that she noticed the guest chair was not in front of the teacher’s desk, pulled it over and sat down. “Thank you,” she finally said. “I gather Brigid is having some problem?”

Your daughter,” said Miss Lebsdale, in a tone that was normally reserved for terms such as ‘raw sewage’ or ‘fleas and ticks,’ “has a foul mouth, and can’t seem to keep it shut in class.”

“Indeed,” said Isadora.

“Not content to give the world her opinion on the brain capacity of Curious George, to say that Dr. Seuss is ‘really screwed up,’ and to refer to Singing Time as ‘Stinking Time,’ today she said something absolutely vile about the snacks which I won’t repeat.”

Isadora’s eyebrows gently floated up an eighth of an inch. “That bad, was it?”

“Yes,” said Miss Lebsdale.

Isadora turned to Brigid, whose laser-like stare would be burning a hole in her knees if it were possible. “Did you say something absolutely vile about the snacks, Brigid?”

“No,” said Brigid. “Or at least, nothing that wasn’t as vile as the snacks were.”

“There!” said Miss Lebsdale. “You see what I mean?”

“What did you say?” asked Isadora. Brigid turned her eyes up to Miss Lebsdale, then over to Isadora, but didn’t speak. “Brigid Elaine,” said Isadora crisply. “What did you say?”

“I said the snacks were unicorn poop,” said Brigid quietly.

“There!” said Miss Lebsdale again.

Isadora continued to regard Brigid for a moment, then turned her gaze back to the teacher. “Unicorn poop,” she repeated.

“You see?” said Miss Lebsdale. “You see why we can’t have this kind of thing in the classroom? Your daughter is a discipline problem, Mrs. Franks!”

“May I see some of these snacks?” said Isadora.

Miss Lebsdale blinked. “What?”

“Just humor me, if you would. I’d like to see what prompted this outrage.”

“All right, I think I’ve got some left, just a moment — ah yes! Here you go.” Miss Lebsdale handed Isadora a packet of small, squishy, brightly-colored gelatin candies in a variety of fruit shapes. Isadora opened the package, took out a green specimen, squidged it in her fingers, then popped it into her mouth, chewed it thoughtfully, and swallowed.

“Miss Lebsdale,” said Isadora, “my daughter is quite clearly in the right here.”


Isadora stood up. “If you’re going to insist on feeding my child what is clearly unicorn poop, then you should be prepared for her to comment on it. Brigid is a clear-minded, intelligent child, in whom I’ve been endeavoring for the past eight years to instill a passionate love for the truth. ‘A discipline problem?’ Would you call Gandhi ‘a discipline problem?’ Would you call the Kent State victims ‘a discipline problem’? My child is a conscientious objector!”

Miss Lebsdale didn’t say anything, as she was too busy opening and closing her mouth in confusion.

“As for Curious George, Dr. Seuss, and Singing Time, I’m not prepared to comment, but I have no doubt that my daughter’s criticisms are well-founded on those matters as well.” She turned and collected her coat and purse. “Brigid! We’re going.”

Brigid didn’t say anything, but hopped out of her chair and quickly headed for the door.

“By the way,” said Isadora, “are there any books you’ve read in this class that you did like?”

“Well, I kinda liked Madeline,” said Brigid.

Isadora smiled and opened the door for her daughter. “Good girl!” she said.

-The Gneech

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May 16 2008


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“I’m not going to the show,” said Brigid. “While I’m sure it would be an evening of fun and frivolity right up there with slamming my fingers in a door, I’ve got to get this proposal in to FedEx by tomorrow night at eight, or die trying. And that precludes me from joining you on another trip to bad community theater.”

Greg sighed. “Yes, yes, I understand,” he said. “I just hate going to these things alone.”

“You could always invite Yvonne…”

“Thank you, no.”

“Aww, but it’s so cute! You’ve got your own squeeing fangirl. Why aren’t you jumping in bed with her like a proper sex-crazed male? It’s hurting your guy cred.”

Greg frowned. “That is both baseless and misandrist,” he said. “I’m sure it comes as a great shock to you, but there are some men who find the idea of sex without love extremely unpleasant.”

“Alas, poor Yvonne!” said Brigid. “Pining away!”

“Not a bit of it,” Greg said. “She fixates on me because I’m the only writer she knows. If Neil Gaiman lived in the building I’d be in no danger. I should introduce her to Wenton Delaney — it would be like the instructions on a firecracker, ‘Light fuse and run away.’ If only he didn’t live in Colorado.”

“Oh, come on, she’s not so bad. You might like her if you gave her a chance.”

“Not so bad? This is a girl who writes Darcy/Brandon slash fiction. Invite her to a show that involves a long drive with just the two of us in the car on a rainy night? I might as well light candles, turn down the lights, and play a Barry White CD.”

Brigid raised her eyebrows. “You realize, I hope, that even being able to utter the phrase ‘Darcy/Brandon slash fiction’ just sent your guy cred totally down the hole.”

“What’s this sudden fascination you have with ‘guy cred’ anyway?”

“Well, I’m worried about you,” said Brigid. “People talk. You know. Even my mom wonders about you. Having a fling with a fan might be good for you.”

“I’ve got better things to put on my busy schedule than proving to your mother what a smoldering cauldron of virile heterosexuality I am,” Greg said. “Honestly, is this the kind of silliness you two engage in when I’m not around?”

Brigid rolled her eyes. “Whatever,” she said.

-The Gneech

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May 14 2008


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“Actually,” said Sharon, helping herself to another tortilla chip and salsa, “there’s this French thing I’ve heard people say. “Shershay luh vim, or something like that. Supposedly it’s this very clever and insightful thing to say, that makes people wink like they’re on to some big secret, but I have no idea what it means.”

“I think I’ve heard that,” said Brigid. “I don’t know what it means, either. Ask Greg. That’s exactly the kind of pointless thing he would know. Hey Greg!”

Greg, eager to extract himself from conversation with Treville, bounded over to the table like a dog happy to see its owner. “You rang?”

“What does shershie luh fim mean?” Brigid asked.

‘Shershie luh…’ Oh! You mean cherchez la femme?”


“It’s French,” said Greg.

“Thank you for that penetrating glimpse into the glaringly obvious.”

Greg shrugged. “Well, it means ‘look for the woman.’ Sort of like our ‘follow the money,’ except it would be ‘follow the woman.’ The idea is that if two guys are having a fight or there’s some other gigantic plastic hassle, it was probably stirred up by some troublemaking chick.”

“Nice people, those French,” said Sharon icily.

“Hey,” said Greg, “I’m just telling you what it means, that doesn’t mean I agree with it. I suppose you could go with Garry Trudeau’s translation, which was ‘Keep an eye peeled for broads.'”

“Even better,” said Brigid.

“It was coined by Alexandre Dumas,” said Greg, “of Three Musketeers fame. Evil women seem to be a favorite theme of his. O. Henry used it as a title for one of his stories, as well, which is probably where it came into popular parlance.”

Sharon shook her head. “How do you know this stuff?” she asked.

Greg blinked. “Well, I … uh … you know, what’s weird, I don’t know how I know. I assume I must have read it somewhere.”

“And yet,” said Brigid, “this is a man who gets lost climbing the stairs to his own apartment.”

“I didn’t get lost!” Greg protested. “I just went up one flight too many.”

“Case closed,” said Brigid, and shooed him away.

-The Gneech

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May 08 2008


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“Ack! There’s a bee in here!” Brigid said, jumping about four feet out of her chair as the enormous black-and-yellow thing bumbled against a windowshade in her general direction.

“Hmm?” said Greg, looking up from his breakfast.

“A bee,” said Brigid. “A giant bee.”

Greg made a broad nod of realization. “Oh yeah, that guy.” He stood up and headed for the door. “The little bastard keeps trying to tempt my tummy with the taste of nuts and honey.”

“Do what?” said Brigid.

Greg opened the door, then pointed at the bee and shouted at the top of his lungs, “Get out, spawn of Satan! You’ll claim no victims for your master this day! Get back — back I say! — to the infernal hive that bred you, and take your thrice-damned complete breakfast with you!”

The bee, slowly and with all the hauteur of an offended houseguest, abandoned its random buffeting of the windowshade and went straight out the door and into the corridor beyond that led to open spaces.

“He’ll be back,” said Greg as he closed the door behind it. “He always comes back.”

Brigid blinked a few times. “You give me the heebie-jeebies. You know that, don’t you?” she finally said.

-The Gneech

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