Beth was in the middle of intently staring at the blank computer screen when the doorbell rang. The sound jolted her from the stupor she usually entered when inspiration failed to appear. She went to the door and peered from the eyehole. A young and fresh male face beamed hopefully from the other side. His face was unfamiliar but somehow compelling, with a pert nose exaggerated by the eyehole lens, and ears that flared out. Curiosity won out and she opened the door.
“Yes?” she asked.
“Hello,” the male said. “I am your upstairs neighbor, John Cline Jr.”
Beth revised his age in her head to hit somewhere in the 20ies. Hopefully he was single as well. She wished she had combed her hair and worn something less stained than her yellow sweatshirt and light green tights. But she liked to be comfortable when writing and never expected visits from handsome neighbors.
“I am Beth. Nice to meet you.” she said, thawing out a little and managing a smile of sorts. Guys with cute eyes did not knock at her door very often. “What can I do for you?”
“I locked myself out by mistake.” He said. “May I come in to use your fire entrance to get to my apartment?”
She scrunched her face, thinking. John Cline Jr. seemed like an upstanding member of the community. And Beth was the kind of person who’d always hold the elevator until her neighbors could get on. Or loan them a cup of sugar if they ran out. She was about to say yes when John Cline Jr. started moving his feet forward, presumably to get in. Beth caught herself in time. She knew that being nice to one’s neighbors also meant being vigilant. She did not know this guy. He might be her neighbor, and then again he might be not. He might be a burglar, or a spurned lover.
“I am sorry but I can’t let you in.” she said. “Do you want me to call the super instead?”
“I tried but he won’t answer.” John Cline Jr. replied and looked at her with his cute eyes. John Cline Jr. had really gorgeous eyes, framed by long curly lashes and balanced by distinctive dark eyebrows. She did not know why his whole name appeared in her head like that. It was weird. However he was telling the truth. The super never answered his phone after hours.
“Should I call you a locksmith?” She offered almost without thinking. “Or a family member? Your wife or your girlfriend perhaps?”
“My sister is at work.” He said. “She works nights and has no cell phone. Do you know a locksmith that can help?”
“I can check online.” Beth said gallantly. “Wait here.”
She closed the door to her apartment and then went to her computer. She searched for afterhours locksmiths in the area, and finally found four that listed as such. She called all four but she got only voice mail. She wanted to leave messages but she did not have John Cline Jr.’s number for the call back. She got up and opened the door. John Cline Jr. was still there, and he gave her half a hopeful smile.
“I just got voice mail. “ Beth told him. “And I did not know your phone number. Do you mind giving it to me?”
He rattled off his number and she wrote it on her palm. Beth always wrote things on her palm since she was sure not to misplace them and ink was harder to wash. Besides, she hoped John Cline Jr. found it cute. Not that he and she…He was much younger anyway. And she probably looked like a scary hag, what with her frustration over lack of inspiration. She felt dry, lonely and unattractive, and all of a sudden wanted to disappear. Flustered, she closed the door on him again and went to pick up her phone. Beth was determined to help John Cline Jr. because he was a neighbor in need, nothing else. She was a good soul, everyone said so. She called all four locksmiths once again, leaving messages with John Cline Jr.’s number. There, her good deed of the day was done and she could get back to staring at her blank computer screen. She went and opened the door once more. John Cline Jr. gave her his hopeful smile again. He was really cute.
“I left messages for them all. “ Beth said. “They should be calling you soon.”
“Thank you.” He said. “I will go downstairs and wait in the hallway.”
The hallway was cold and there was no place to sit. Beth felt guilty again.
“You know something,” she said. “Why don’t you wait inside with me? It should not take very long.”
“I would not want to put you out.” He said.
“Look,” Beth said. “It is not that I don’t believe you. I just can’t let you in another apartment. But you can hang around until the locksmiths call back. I am not very good company right now because I am trying to finish an assignment. However, you don’t have to wait in the cold. Just sit and read trashy mags for a while.”
“Alright.” He finally said, and she ushered him into her living room. Which looked like it had been bombed in the past 5 minutes. Beth’s dry spells were not easy on her surroundings. Magazines, books, a crochet hook and yarn and three pillows were still tangled with the blanket on the sofa from her afternoon nap.
“Sit please.” Beth said. “Pardon the mess but I am in the middle of something…”
She hastily gathered everything in her arms and jetted to her bedroom depositing her load on top of the bed. She’d deal with things later. John Cline Jr. probably thought she was the slob of the century.
When she returned, she found him sitting on the couch, leafing through a trash mag. Well, at least she delivered on her promises.
“Would you like some tea or water?” Beth asked, proud of her hostess skills. “Feel free to grab a cookie or two from the plate in front of you. I was up all night baking.”
John Cline Jr. smiled at that and took a cookie.
“Kind hearted, vigilant and a baker! I feel lucky today. A warm cup of tea would make my evening complete.”
Beth felt her cheeks going red and went to the kitchen to make that tea, hoping he had not noticed how flustered she felt. She’d be mortified if he thought she was hitting on him. A younger man! Beth needed a date as soon as possible, hopefully with someone closer to her age instead of this young 20 something with big gorgeous eyes. The tea took another five minutes to make and she brought it on a tray, together with her porcelain sugar and milk holder set. She found John Cline Jr. engrossed in one of her books, the trashy mag forgotten in a corner. He was a reader! The universe was definitely conspiring against her.
Beth put the tray in the coffee table besides him and was awarded with a bright smile and a warm “Thank you!” for her troubles. She felt herself smiling back.
“I am glad you are comfortable.” She said. “I will get back to my work if you don’t mind.”
Beth sat at her workstation and put up the blank document again. Now what? Conscious of her guest’s presence, she started typing in the first sentences that come to her mind, desperate for the keyboard noise to fill the quiet room and possibly push her mind into action. It was useless.
“What type of work do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?” John Cline Jr. asked and she was grateful for the interaction. The emptiness inside her was overwhelming.
“I am a writer.” Beth told him.
“Well, not quite there yet. Still trying to get published. But I have to live meanwhile so I maintain a column at the regional newspaper. I have a new entry due tomorrow.”
“You must be really good if you can survive on your writing alone.”
“Well, not really. I cook for a caterer on the side too. He is very specific about the ingredients and preparation and I have a lot of time in my hands so it works both ways.”
“That is nice! So you really are a baker. And how is your writing going?”
“Not well. I can’t write a thing.” Beth blurted out.
“Why not?” John Cline Jr. wanted to know.
“The newspaper wants this stupid column about dating. I thought I had so much material, but now I feel like everything else has been said, you know. It is not like I hold all the answers, anyway.”
“Would you like me to tell you some of my war stories?” He joked and she found herself saying yess yess yess.
“A young and handsome guy like you? What kind of war stories can you possibly have? Cynicism does not start until the 30ies you know.” Beth answered.
“You’d be surprised. Love is not easy, no matter at what age you are looking for it.”
Beth was positively hyperventilating at this point. She really wished she had taken a comb to the cuckoo’s nest on her head and had changed out of her stained pajamas.
“Can I see what you have written so far?” John Cline Jr. wanted to know and got up without waiting for her answer. Suddenly Beth panicked and tried to close her document. It was all rubbish. She felt him approaching as she tried to find the little mouse arrow and close the page, when she felt something hit her on the back of her head and fell into darkness.
When Beth came to, she found out that she was tied up and could not move at all. She opened her eyes and saw John Cline Jr. looking at her face with that cute smile of his. It seemed so cruel and mocking now. She wanted to speak but her mouth was taped shut.
“You are awake.” John Cline Jr. e said. “Lina, she is awake!”
A female John Cline Jr. came into her vision, and smiled prettily.
“Hello!” She said. “Thank you for letting John in your home. Mighty good hearted of you, even if a bit stupid.”
“She is not good hearted, otherwise she would have let me in the first time I asked.” John Cline Jr. pouted. “She’s just a randy old spinster, aren’t you darling?”
Beth could only look at him. She felt furious, pathetic and disgusted at the same time.
“Don’t be upset, Johnny usually has that effect on people.” Lina said, dragging her tote bag. “Tell you what, you had plenty of cash and other goodies stashed at your home and I am feeling kind of generous today. I will let him have a go at you before we leave, how is that? I can see he wants to.”
“Lina, you know I only love you my bunny.” John Cline Jr. said but Beth felt the eagerness in his voice.
“I know hon. She is your reward for being a good boy. Beats me why you’d want to stick it into an old thing like her, but I can’t deny my baby anything when he loves me so much, can I?” Lina said and kissed her psycho boyfriend.
“Men! We’ll never understand them, right?” She said. Beth just looked at her and wished she had a hammer to smash her crazy teeth in a million pieces.
“Hon, did you check in the bathroom? People hide good stuff in the laundry hamper sometimes.”
“Can’t you look instead, love bun? I thought I could get started on our hostess here.” John Cline Jr. said. He walked to Beth, touched her hair and caressed her cheek with a finger. She recoiled at his touch.
“Really Johnny? I waited one whole hour for you to let me in, I found her money, her jewelry and her pot and you want me to look in the bathroom while you get your joyride stick polished?” Lina screeched at him. “You jerk!”
“No love, I just thought that the longer we stay the more dangerous it gets. I promise you, next time you can sit down and I’ll do all the work. I know how much you do for us my princess. Besides, you can join in too if you like.”
Lina huffed but she scampered to the bathroom. Beth thought they must have been together for a long time. Then she felt the hands of John Cline Jr. caressing her lips over the tape and fury flared again.
“I will take off the tape if you promise not to yell.” He told Beth. “You look like you haven’t been kissed in a while.” Beth nodded quietly and he took the tape off. She did not scream so he came closer and gave her a kiss on the mouth. As his hands went lower on her body, pawing and loosening her buttons, Beth caught Lina’s hateful stare from the hallway, and knew the psycho girlfriend wanted to kill her. But his mouth moved away and she could finally breathe. John Cline Jr. maneuvered Beth on her stomach and started loosening her feet from the tape keeping them closed. He was surprisingly gentle but still terrifying. Beth blocked the repulsive feeling of his roaming hands on her legs and started whispering her binding spell. She concentrated hard on the words repeating them over and over and over, each time louder than the rest. She stopped once her throat was hoarse and turned around. were frozen, their large gorgeous eyes the only outlet for the terror, frustration and helplessness they felt. Just like her a few moments earlier. Surprised that her spell had worked so well, Beth took a steak knife from her kitchen and started shredding the clothes of the psycho couple. Next, she cut their hair as close to the scalp as she could, their terrified eyes following her hands around. She did not display any other sign of triumph otherwise. She could not kick people when they were powerless no matter how beastly they had been to her.
Once she finished her preparations, she dragged John Cline Jr. and Lina Whatshername to her kitchen and left them by the door of her very large oven, which took up half of the space. She put them inside standing up and set the heat to a slow roast. The side panels would do a great job of roasting them evenly.
Then she went to call her catering friend to let him know that he did not need to bring any ingredients. The dish that she had in mind would far surpass whatever he had managed to dreg up and would feed her coven with much needed magic. Who knew, it might also give her enough inspiration to finish the stupid column before the deadline.
Interesting…And yes, I will try to keep my resolutions this year
Originally posted on celluloid blonde:
The article I’m about to point you to, 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person, really needs to be circulated, and circulated widely, for the benefit of men. I say “for men” because most women don’t actually need to hear it. Women, in general, have known for centuries you need to bring skills to a relationship. Those skills can be anything from cooking well to cleaning house well to raising children well to looking great to giving a really good blowjob, but when push comes to shove, those are all skills, and women have them, work at them, and know you have to have them.
The people who don’t appear to know you need to have them are men. Which is why you don’t see a bunch of women sitting around whining about how men don’t date nice women — but you see a crapload of guys sitting around whining saying just that: “Women don’t date nice guys.”
Putting aside the fact an awful lot of guys I have heard say that are actually shitheads and not “nice” at all, and the fact guys bitching about men with money getting all the dates — yes, that guy brings a skill to the table, he can take a woman to nice restaurants — or that men with looks get all the dates — that is another skill set, taking care of the bod and appearance, a skill set that is in large part lost on the male inhabitants of Austin, delicate cough — these guys seem to think being “nice” just means, well, you don’t black your girlfriend’s eye on Friday night.
Bad news guys. If the only skill set you bring to the relationship table is “I won’t give you a black eye,” you have a ways to go. So here for your benefit:
6 HARSH TRUTHS THAT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON
~ by David Wong
2014, motherfuckers. Yeah! LET’S DO THIS.
“Do what?” you ask. I DON’T KNOW. LET’S FIGURE THAT OUT TOGETHER, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Feel free to stop reading this if your career is going great, you’re thrilled with your life, and you’re happy with your relationships. Enjoy the rest of your day, friend, this article is not for you. You’re doing a great job, we’re all proud of you. So you don’t feel like you wasted your click, here’s a picture of Lenny Kravitz wearing a gigantic scarf.
For the rest of you, I want you to try something: Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here’s the catch — you’re not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I’m a nice guy, I’m honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you, and you are going to fucking hate hearing it. My only defense is that this is what I wish somebody had said to me around 1995 or so.
#6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You
Let’s say that the person you love the most has just been shot. He or she is lying in the street, bleeding and screaming. A guy rushes up and says, “Step aside.” He looks over your loved one’s bullet wound and pulls out a pocket knife — he’s going to operate right there in the street.
“OK, which one is the injured one?”
You ask, “Are you a doctor?”
The guy says, “No.”
You say, “But you know what you’re doing, right? You’re an old Army medic, or …”
At this point the guy becomes annoyed. He tells you that he is a nice guy, he is honest, he is always on time. He tells you that he is a great son to his mother and has a rich life full of fulfilling hobbies, and he boasts that he never uses foul language.
Confused, you say, “How does any of that fucking matter when my [wife/husband/best friend/parent] is lying here bleeding! I need somebody who knows how to operate on bullet wounds! Can you do that or not?!?”
Now the man becomes agitated — why are you being shallow and selfish? Do you not care about any of his other good qualities? Didn’t you just hear him say that he always remembers his girlfriend’s birthday? In light of all of the good things he does, does it really matter if he knows how to perform surgery?
In that panicked moment, you will take your bloody hands and shake him by the shoulders, screaming, “Yes, I’m saying that none of that other shit matters, because in this specific situation, I just need somebody who can stop the bleeding, you crazy fucking asshole.”
I am still not clear on Valentine. the democratic parliament inside of me has agreed that it is an artificial celebration. it has told me time and again that flowers are useless, that declaring love for only one person in public is reckless and in bad taste, and that public displays of affection are indeed vomit inducing.
and then again, i don’t want to sound bitter or sell my jaded viewpoint to the diehard romantics who will do just about anything to convince me of the contrary. so here is a picture of two goats hugging for you. Enjoy and happy Valentine!
Girls shall wear lipstick
every blessed day
the brighter the better
to lead you astray
Girls shall shave their legs
and their armpits too
most sinuous skin
displayed just for you
Girls shall rein their brains
their tongues as well
to caress your shell
Girls shall be teetering
feet in sheaths of pain
to incite your pleasure
your love to gain
Girls shall be mothers
and grandmothers too
forever and ever
so grateful to you
We all know November is flag month. The upcoming weekend has some exciting activities happening in New York for Albanian-Americans. Or Albanians, or Americans. Or Albo, Shqipe, Gringo, Yankee, whatever. Just read below and show up. Your support is needed.
Gala is on Friday, and “my” film, the Superintendent is being screened at Producers Club, Saturday Afternoon November 9.
Free: Jeton Neziraj’s drama
will be staged in NYC November 7 and 9 (click the link for more info). The author will be on hand for Q & A.
Free: The very talented and published poet Lediana Stillo will be holding a poetry reading in Albanian of her latest book at Producers Club in Manhattan on Saturday at 6.
Not free: Albanian Folk Festival is being organized for November at Lehman College Auditorium, but I can’t find any info online so far. Once I do, I will post it for you.
Furthermore, November is THE month for most red & black Albanian Parties.
Most are listed at
I am planning to go to Albanian Roots event on November 28.
I will try and keep interested parties updated since I am going back to gossip mode (someone told me to give up poetry, and they are not far wrong).
If you need info for a particular event and are too lazy to Google, contact me here and I will get back to you.
When one is too young
The other already old
When one starts to buy
Another is being sold
When one goes to sleep
The other wakes up
One cries “gilded cage”
The other dates the cop
When I was going slow
He was zipping by
I started the peace fire
He jumped into the sky
And yet, and yet, and yet
We shall overlive
A lot of our life as a family evolves around the refrigerator. I don’t know what we used to do before this miraculous contraception. As far as I can remember, we always had one of the white heavy boxes in a corner of the kitchen. I remember that they used to be small once, maybe waist high (the perfect size for an inquisitive 8 year old that could finally open the door). Through the years, they morphed into the big monstrosities of today, chock-full of nooks, compartments of specific temperatures and space for anything you could think of to stuff in there. Furthermore, fridges now sport water and ice-makers, tv-s, sound systems etc.
I am still waiting for the one that will come with a vibrator. or maybe that will be the washing machine. I just imagine my father’s face as he considers the “son-in-law” and offers him a cold one. (if you don’t know this joke, you need to track down your 7th grade cousin and make him tell it to you.)
The one thing that has stayed constant through the years, is the stuff crammed inside this cool temple of goodness. As far as I can remember, our refrigerator has been crammed with different food items, leftovers, drinks and as the years advanced, assorted items like Mylanta, sheer stockings and empty containers which drive my mom up the wall. She does not understand why there is only one pickled pepper in a two pound plastic container, when whoever took the rest could just as easy transfer it in one of the cute little containers she bought at the Korean supermarket.
Another pet peeve of hers is the open fridge door. According to my mom, all calamities in the house come because our fridge door gets more traffic that the subway turnstiles. She’s threatened to put a coin machine to operate it. I am one of the worst offenders. My head is most often inside the fridge than outside of it, sifting for interesting munchies through leftover stews, frozen chicken nuggets, seaweed salad from three weeks ago, kimchi, chocolate, pickled eggplant, red beet salad, leftover pasta, two corn ears, feta cheese, pickled ginger root, bread, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
Whenever she sees me headed for the kitchen, she follows at a discreet distance and then tactfully reminds me to close the door, because power is a-wasting and the meat cannot freeze. Even though the freezer compartment opens separately. Sometimes I humor her and tell her I am closing it right away. I know she is listening for the closing noise. I try to be quiet but she always knows how long the fridge stays open. She keeps her ears primped and possibly recognizes everything I take out by the noise. When her direct approach does not work, mom tries the roundabout way.
“Sweetie, there is pasta and fish from yesterday. Eat it before it goes bad. It is on the third shelf to the right. the blue container. And close the fridge door.”
However, my father is fridge enemy #1. That conversation goes like this usually:
“Don’t keep the fridge door open too long.”
“Actually, close it now or it will break.”
“I am not done looking yet.”
“What are you looking at? You know everything there by heart.”
“So? A man can keep his fridge door open if he wants to.”
“Yes, because I am the one cleaning it not you. The food spoils, the fridge works harder to replace the cold, the door gets loose, the…”
The fridge door closes and my dad goes to sulk in front of the computer. Marriage at its best.
The fridge war is also fought on another front, the positioning. As I mentioned above, we are different adults with different tastes. I buy food because I like their shapes and the names are exotic. And then abandon the containers in the fridge. My mom can’t throw them out because maybe three months from now I will get a hanker for pickled squid and will sulk in front of the computer if I don’t find it. So she puts them in the deepest corners of the fridge, together with the feta cheese and olives which she is trying to hide from us ravenous beasts. She leaves the rice in the front though, together with the beans and yesterday’s chicken.
The rest of the family members fill it with leftovers from different restaurants mom will throw away in another week because none of them remembers what they bring in. My four year old nephew, the last in a long line of repeat offenders, has taken to keeping the fridge door open while he fills his own sippy cup with water, more often than not spilling it on top of the multi-colored and multi-shaped containers. At least, he takes after our side of the family,
I get hungry if I am up past midnight. I might be watching a movie, writing, talking to myself or experimenting with makeup in the bathroom, and I feel this irresistible urge to eat. So then the next logical step is to go to the kitchen, open the fridge and check out what is inside. I do that and I see the olives. Why hasn’t anyone told me that there are olives in the house? Why did I not get the memo? There are so many meals I could have eaten with olives. I could have had lentil soup and olives, omelet and olives, coffee cake and olives, anything. Everyone in the family knows I love olives. Actually, the reason why I was sold on Brick (A cute coffee place and restaurant in Astoria) from the first visit, was the kalamata olive paste they offer with their chewy bread. When I first tasted it, I could not believe someone had actually come up with such a heavenly tasting deliciousness, full of salt, oil and texture.
Olives have everything I look for in a food item which is salt. I love salt and I put it on everything. As a matter of fact, my health-conscious friend was appalled when she saw me grab that salt shaker and sprinkle it over my dish without even trying it first. But then again she is the one that needs three sugar packets and half a pack of milk in her coffee so I forgive her that one. We all have our vices, our little idiosyncrasies that do not harm anyone else but ourselves.
I feel the same way about pasta, mom’s coffee cake and watermelon. No matter how much I have eaten or how delicious the meal was outside, once I come home and see pasta on top of the stove, coffee cake on its glass cake dish, or watermelon in the plastic container, I sit down and eat again. I have to or I can’t go to sleep. Many people complain that when they eat late, they can’t sleep well. I wish this would happen to me. I have no problem sleeping like a lamb after a full meal. As a matter of fact, the only time my sleep is disturbed, is when I am hungry or particularly hung up on a food or a dish I passed over.
So I pour myself a bowl of tarator (homemade plain yogurt, minced garlic and cucumber, olive oil and salt) and put a handful of olives inside. Triumphant, I take the bowl with me and sit down in front of the computer. It is the epitome of satisfaction for a couch potato like me: eating while watching TV, reading or aimlessly typing in the computer. It helps creativity (not really but I have to justify my meal somehow).
I ponder upon why I feel so completely sated right now, gulping my tarator and savoring the salty goodness of the little green olives. I even suck on the pits trying to get their essence out and scrapping the last of the pulp from them with my teeth. Once I am done, I steal one more olive from the plastic container in the fridge and then go to sleep.
What do you do,
when you do
how you do
What do you say
when you say
how you say
What does it matter
when it does
how it goes
A kiss, for nothing is sweeter
than your lips
waiting for the light to change
A dance, for nothing is hotter
than your body
breaking into my song
A heart for nothing is worse
than my empty chest
trying to thump to your drum
before the dawn.
She asks all the right questions
reads the right magazines
and shaves the way the hair grows
She rebels as much as TV allows
and knows all about positions
of power and poise
She is hood when hood is approved
and lovely when the sun shines
behind huge sunglasses
She dances in the rain but
keeps the towel near
and a change of clothes
She is convention in dangerous heels
the one who walks in beauty
but never falls in doubt
I truly want to take your eyes
and see the love
that escapes through my confused eyelashes
I want to get in between your lips
and try her kisses
that set your world on fire
I want to be the soles
of her patent stilettos
circling your thigh under the table
I want to be but I drink instead
because I finally realize
I can’t have you
We need a corner of the world
to be safe in
a little sunshine patch
to let our curly hair dry
and our little cowbells tinkle
it is not too much to ask
for a steel metal door
that will open into a square room
with you inside
and me incoming
I just sit here and dream
in tune with this crazy train
and your pulse
I am not very fond of poetry as a rule but I have always loved this piece, so I wanted to try my hand at it. I apologize for the liberties taken in changing some of the verse.
I won’t be here, I’ll be long gone;
To the earth returned, like everyone;
The waiters at my favorite café,
Won’t see me noisily sipping away.
And these streets I always pass,
Won’t hear my dry coughing hack.
Above my tomb, a tall cypress tree,
A pious monk, will watch over me.
And right there you’ll feel forlorn,
Because I won’t be in the room.
As the wind hits the windowpane,
You’ll cry with it, slowly insane.
But when you feel especially sad,
Look for me in the wooden shelf;
You’ll find me hiding inside the books;
Lurking in pages and haunting words.
You just have to pull out a few,
And I’ll pour out, enfold you.
You will laugh with me once more,
A blooming field watered by love.