I took a walk this morning, trespassing on lawns and doorsteps. Sometimes I feel like a little kid, distracted by all the interesting things around me. I felt as if I had never seen a Jack-O-Lantern before. Halloween may be over for the rest of you, but for me, every day is Halloween.
A weblog by Laura Moncur
Yesterday, Mike and I took a drive up to Park City for dinner. We found ourselves in the strange netherworld between summer mountain biking and winter skiing. There is no snow up there yet, but it is chilly. Much too cold for the casual mountain biker. Park City was abandoned.
We walked along the empty Main Street. Most of our favorite restaurants were closed. The few people on the street were condo vendors trying to attract rich yuppies who haven’t learned how to relax without shelling out the bucks for a pricey object. “Maybe if I owned a condo in Park City, then I would learn to relax,” they think to themselves. Unfortunately for the vendors, we were only there for some really good food. We had to settle for a pretty good calzone because our favorite restaurant was closed.
Going back to the car after our meal was spooky. The condo vendor recognized us from before and half-heartedly tried to attract us. The Alpine Internet Cafe was the sole storefront that invited us in with its warm lights. The streets were empty. We noticed the points where we had taken pictures last August, but both of us hurried to our car. The streets felt as if ghosts were the only occupants.
I’m sure the residents of Park City are wishing for snow with all their hearts right now.
I have been a full-time writer for almost a year now. When we started Starling Fitness, I jumped from being a part-time-just-for-fun writer to a full-time writer. I wrote in the mornings before I went to work. I wrote in the car during my lunch hour. I wrote in the evenings after I got home from work. I thought about writing all the time, even when I was working on HTML programming or folding papers at my “real” job.
Then I got laid off in April. Mike thought it was great. He told me that I should just write full-time. He was planning on re-launching the Gadgets Page and I could write for that and the Quotations Weblog. I could be a full-time writer without the “real” job on the side. I didn’t listen to him. I insisted that I get another job. I don’t even think I really heard him. I was so focused on getting another job. I was obsessed with proving that I was a good employee: the kind that didn’t deserve to be laid off.
I got a new job within a week. It was a great job that I still can’t tell you anything about. The people there were wonderful to work with. I was so grateful to find such a nice, quiet place to work. They let me do my work without micro-managing my every move. They were pleased with my work and were thankful to have me there. That just made me feel like a complete jerk when I decided that I had to quit. Almost a month ago, I turned in my notice and last Friday was my last day there. The job that I never could talk about almost went completely unmentioned here.
Now, I’m a full-time writer. Now, I’m just a writer. I’m not a writer, but I program HTML for a company that I can’t talk about. I’m not a writer, but I’m also a secretary at an engineering firm that doesn’t care about or use my abilities. I’m just a writer, and it’s bloody scary.
It’s even more scary than you know because I’ve done this before and it didn’t work out. In 1997, I quit working at the insurance firm that I was with to be a writer. I had finished my first book and I was going to do some writing on the Quotations Page. You can see those early entries on the Quotations Weblog. If I had kept writing there, I would have had the oldest weblog on the Internet, but I let fear get the best of me. I became a real estate agent instead of following my dreams because I was too scared of achieving my dreams.
Not this time. This time I’m in a much better position. I’m already writing full-time here at Pick Me!, Starling Fitness, The Quotations Weblog, and The Gadgets Page. Soon we will be starting another weblog that is particularly interesting to me and I can’t wait to get working on it. This time I kept my day job until my writing was working out so well that I had no choice but to quit.
Now, if I could just stop feeling like a flake for quitting…
On the corner of 1100 East and 1700 South, The Salt Lake Costume Company had displayed costumes in its windows since before I could remember. I moved to Salt Lake when I was three years old in 1972 and it was an established fixture back then. I remember driving past it in my grandmother’s 1968 white Chevy Impala. It was across the street from Rexall Drug, where my grandma got all her prescriptions.
I don’t know when it closed. It might have been as early as September. I didn’t notice until October that they were gone. The commercial real estate sign went up and I thought that they must be mad to close up right before Halloween. I also felt ripped off because I didn’t get a chance to buy up all their costumes.
The sad truth of the matter is, I never set foot into the place. I’m the kind of girl who gets her costumes at Home Depot more often than a costume store. That doesn’t stop me from frequenting the Halloween stores that pop up in abandoned store fronts during October, but I have never set foot into any costume shop. The Costume Closet on 700 East and 4500 South is another place that I love dearly, but have never gone into.
I feel a strange sense of guilt. Me, who loves Halloween and dressing up more than almost anyone I know, never gave any of my money to The Salt Lake Costume Company and now they are out of business. It’s all my fault.
They are stripping the store right down to the 2X4s: exposed brick on the walls and debris on the showroom floor. I peeked into the windows and clicked pictures until Mike urged me away like a rubber-necker at a car accident.
Ernie from little. yellow. different. met Margaret Cho at her book signing. I’m feeling such a strange emotion right now. I read both of their blogs and now they are meeting and somehow, I feel the only thing linked between them is me. I know that’s not the case, but it gives me a strange paranoia. Like a glitch in the Matrix.
Ernie says that Margaret links to his website from hers, but I really don’t think that’s how I found his website. I think I was looking for something about SXSW and I stumbled upon Ernie’s site and found him to be funny. Of course, Margaret is legendary.
If you would like to meet Margaret, she is in the middle of a book tour. She’s not coming to Utah this time, though. It’s all the more reason for me to fantasize about moving to California.
On the corner of McClelland and Hollywood within sight of 1100 East, this sign hides behind a laundromat. As far as I can tell, Steering Stark Automotive hasn’t been there for a long time and their sign has outlived them by at least a decade. I love this sign. The neon is still there, but I have never seen it lit up.
It reminds me of the old Holiday Inn signs with it’s bright red arrow pointing around the words. When I was little, we used to make the long drive from Salt Lake City to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We never made reservations. My parents just drove until they couldn’t drive anymore. When they were too tired to move on, they told me to look for a Holiday Inn sign. I looked for the big yellow arrow, the white star and the white letters on a green background. I couldn’t read, but I could spot a Holiday Inn sign from miles away.
Something about these old neon signs makes me remember being that little. It seemed like the whole world was lit up in neon when I was a kid. Now, there are backlit awnings and stucco everywhere. Neon’s hard to maintain, kid. Suck it up…
That might be true, but the neon beckoning us all to Steering Stark Automotive lasted far longer than the mechanics and the old Chevy Impalas that they used to repair.
My hair is starting to get annoyingly long. It gets in the way and is flopping around my shoulders. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it. It just means that I’ve finally noticed that it’s long. It has felt short for years.
I used to have short hair. My hairdresser, Jackie, was so wonderful that I would let her do whatever she wanted to my hair. It used to be this long before I found her and we cut it all off and sent it to Locks of Love. When she was doing my hair, I kept it short and had a haircut every four to six weeks.
Then, Jackie’s cancer came back.
I kept going to her until she was unable to cut hair. I kept visiting her at her home and when her hair fell out, I took her to buy a couple of wigs. When things got worse, I sat with her, talking about her past or in silence. She talked to me a lot before things got their worst. she told me of her respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She grew up in Las Vegas and the Reverend came to her city to march. She and her mother marched with him. He had a huge impact on Jackie’s life. She had a framed poster of him in her small apartment.
When she died, I took in her two cats, Andrew and Maddie. It took a while, but we were able to find a home for them. Months later, I called the girl who adopted them. She loved Maddie and her children loved Andrew. They were very happy and she never considered giving them back.
I have found a new hairdresser, but I don’t have the same relationship with her as I did with Jackie. Before I met Jackie, my hair had the exact same cut as I have now. When she died, I started growing it out into a simple bob, which turned into this long mane. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a hairdresser I trust as much as I did Jackie. I don’t even know if I want one.
I guess I’ll just let my hair grow and grow until it stops growing. It’s just easier that way.
The house smells like incense. The house has been smelling bad for the last couple of weeks. I think it’s because we have less ventilation right now during the day. It has been cool enough to keep the house a comfortable temperature without the furnace or the swamp cooler. The air is getting stagnant, so the house smells are showing up again. It smells like Stinky Ghost, so we have been burning incense to cover it up. I like the smell of incense, but I would prefer a house that didn’t stink.
I think I want to believe in Stinky Ghost because then it’s not my fault the house stinks. After almost three years here, you would think that we would be able to get rid of any smells in the house. I just feel powerless. It would be easier if the smell was only in one place, but it moves around. Yesterday and the day before, it was by my desk. It smelled like sweaty men who use hair oil.
My atheism is on such tenuous ground. All I need is one miracle to push me over the edge. All I want is for Stinky Ghost to go away. I’m sick of the house stinking like unclean men and Vitalis.
Last week, I dreamt that I was a bad guy. I was part of a ring of bad guys and I had a job to do. I got stuck on an airplane on an International flight, so everyone was sleeping on the plane. I was proud of my criminal status. I pointed to my poster on the post office wall. It said, “The Laura Moncur.” I explained to the bystander, “It says ‘The Laura Moncur’ because they can’t comprehend the idea of a woman who is a mastermind criminal. They assume I must be an entity.” The irony was that I really was part of a crime ring and I wasn’t in charge. I just followed orders. That wasn’t enough for me. I wanted the world to believe that I was more than I was.
I woke up and realized that the dream was true about me now. I am a full-time writer now, but there is no way I could have done this if Mike hadn’t made the Quotations Page profitable enough to let me have this opportunity. Mike and I have worked hand-in-hand on the Quotations Page, but he is the one who diligently keeps the advertising profitable. I have no hand in that. All I do is add quotes and write my fingers raw. The money that the weblogs attract is minimal compared to what comes in from his quotations.
So, I am part of a ring of websites masterminded by Mike. I don’t need a poster on the post office wall. I don’t need to be “The Laura Moncur.” I am just me and that’s enough. At the end of the dream, Mike was on the flight with me and I was so happy to see him. That’s how it is in real life.
Mike and I ate there once. I had a cup of Hot Sour soup and a cup of steamed rice. I can’t remember what Mike ordered. It was a typical Chinese-American restaurant where you could order Egg Foo Young, Chop Suey and a hamburger. We enjoyed our meal, but we never went back.
They took the menu out of the cabinet on the outside wall. Only a wooden panel looks at us now. When I peek into the windows, they have striped it down to the cement. Nothing remains of the leatherette seating and the fish tank. All that dark wood paneling is gone and I didn’t even see it leave. One day, we considered going to that restaurant and opted for the trendy Tex-Mex cafe across the street. The next day, they were gone.
I hope they don’t remove the beautiful neon sign. What will Sugarhouse be without it?
Marcus rolled over in his bed and glimpsed the time: 5:30 pm. The sun had slipped behind the mountains and the light was almost gone.”The evenings are coming earlier,” he thought to himself. He headed to the bathroom and his cat ran rings around his legs. It was a dance they performed every time he awoke. The cat tried to trip him and he had become so used to her movements that they moved together in one fluid motion.
He kept vampire hours. He used to wonder about vampires when he was a teenager going through his Goth-stage. Why didn’t they move to near the North Pole for half the year and the South Pole the other half? They wouldn’t have to spend as much time hiding from the sun that way. He finally answered the question for himself several years later: because vampires don’t exist.
They stick out of the ground like the bones of a long-dead animal. The trains used to run east to west in Salt Lake City. The tracks have been uprouted and paved over on the major roads, but we bounce over the unused skeleton on the minor roads. In the abandoned sections of the city, the track springs up from the ground.
I wonder about this track. Is this where the trolleys used to run? The only evidence that we used to have trolleys in this city is Trolley Square, the local “historic” shopping mall. There are a few obligatory pictures of the day when the trolleys were housed in the building instead of novelty shops and trendy art galleries. I know our town used to have trolleys, but the only proof I have are some black and white pictures on the wall of an old building.
What used to run on this track? Never once in my memory was there a train. It wasn’t until about five years ago that they even paved over the track. The buses used to stop at them, open their doors and wait as if it were an active line. I never saw the crossing bars go down, though.
Now, the track is rusted and protruding from the ground like something that was supposed to stay buried, but insists on announcing the crime that was performed on it. It’s a shame considering how much money was spent building the East-West line of Traxx right before the Olympics.
I have been on a news fast for about five years. Every once and a while I look at the headlines on CNN.com, but I mostly just stay away from all the doom and gloom. I’ve finally found a news source I can enjoy every day.
They only post positive news stories. I have put them in my Bloglines list and I just peruse their headlines. Just knowing what’s working in the world is enough for me. People are perfectly willing to tell me what’s wrong with it.
It only took three weeks. After years of working full-time jobs, suddenly, Monday means nothing to me now. I am writing this entry on the tenth, a Thursday. I try to keep a two-week backlog, just like newspapers do, but I’m not quite there yet. I know this entry will post itself on Monday morning, but by then, I will be working on entries for next week.
When I look at my stats, Mondays are one of the slower days of the weekday. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays rock, but Mondays and Fridays are a little slower. The weekends are the slowest of all. That tells me that you are reading my site while you’re at work. Be careful, the IT guy in the back office might be watching you.
Have I told you lately how grateful I am for all you faithful readers? My daily statistics have been growing every month. I’m up to nearly a thousand unique readers a day now. Thank you for coming back, even though there were times when I couldn’t write. Thank you for telling your friends about my site, even though I’m not perfect and say strange things now and again. Thank you for everything.
May you have a wonderful Monday. I’m right there with you, working on next week’s entries.
I can’t resist the soft light coming through the colored panes of a Tiffany Lamp.
It showed up on my search string statistics. Thirteen people found me by typing the phrase, “how to write a legend” into a search engine. I did the same and it’s true, I show up as first in line for that phrase. The others that show up on that list don’t even talk about writing and even my entry didn’t answer the question.
If I were to give advice to others about how to write a legend, what would I say?
Back in October, Dooce posted this picture with the phrase, “Can you do this with your cat?” It took me over a month, but the answer is, “Why, yes… Yes, I can.”
What I didn’t get a picture of was Sid, the dog, hovering over Linda because there was a doggie treat on her head. He’s so scared of her that he didn’t dare reach over to get it, even when we told him it was okay. In the firey ending, Linda hissed at him and ran away, leaving the treat in her wake. Sid gladly ate the discarded treat and Linda glared at me from the other side of the room.
It was totally worth it…
Elizabeth counted the reps in her head, “Six, five… four… three… two…” She hesitated and blew out a large puff of air as she lifted the weight the last time. She wished that she had a lifting partner to count the reps for her. She would willing count the reps for a partner in exchange, but she had never found anyone willing to exercise as consistently as she was.
She moved to the next machine and adjusted the height of the seat and the weight. She started counting to herself again. “Someday I will be strong.” The thought flitted in her mind between the numbers and she nodded to herself. She ignored the fact that she was so much stronger now than she had been when she started.
I took these pictures before I remembered that I had bought those funny doggie treats that look like the ones in Dooce’s picture. We had a great photo shoot before I opened the treat cupboard and attracted Sid’s attention by placing treats on Linda’s head.
We had our first real frost last Tuesday. I know this is all part of the circle of life, but Autumn makes me a little sad.
I always feel like a voyeur when I take pictures of people I don’t know, even when they don’t know I’m taking pictures of them. It doesn’t stop me, though. I actually ran a little so I could catch up with this man and snap a good shot of him.
When we stopped at the light, he looked around. He looked at me, in my car behind him and his big eyes made me smile. Sometimes just a look from a loved dog is enough to make my whole day. I sat there thinking about how the dog had received so much love from his owners that he was spilling it all over me several feet away.
Then it struck me. I should take a picture of him, then I could be happy all the time. I grabbed at my purse on the passenger’s seat and scrambled with the settings, but the light changed and they had moved on without me. I drove after them, clicking pictures and trying to drive safely at the same time. I was supposed to turn a couple of streets back there, but if we stopped at another light, maybe the dog would look at me the same way and I could capture him.
The next light was green and the car rushed through it, not noticing my stalker ways. I kept clicking pictures and noticed how the dog’s ears flapped in the wind. It was cold outside, but the sun was bright. I clicked so many pictures blindly trying to seize his wonderful eyes. The dog pulled back into the car, and I saw him lick the driver’s ear.
I turned two lights past my turn and retraced my drive home, hoping that at least one of the pictures were clear.
All animals love Kathleen. She has known Linda since she was a kitten, so when Kathleen visited last week, Linda graced her with her presence. She went so far as to climb in Kathleen’s lap. A couple hours later, Kathleen asked, “Is Linda always that greasy?” I cringed and answered, “Yeah… I guess I should wash her, but you know how it is to wash a cat…” Kathleen nodded and I felt the shame of being a neglectful pet owner.
The next day, we clipped her claws and locked her in the bathroom. It took both of us, but we were able to wet her down, soap her up and rinse her off without either of us getting injured. When we opened the bathroom door, Sid, the dog, was jealously waiting for his bath.
Yesterday, Strebe was visiting. “Man, that cat needs a bath.” Mike and I just rolled our eyes. I guess she always looks greasy.
Teaching children to be thankful? Sometimes I feel like I need to teach myself.
I am so thankful for so many things. I wrote an entry on the Quotations Weblog about everything that I am thanking my lucky stars for:
I wrote it last week, so when I saw it on the site this morning, I was surprised. I missed one thing on my list: I am so grateful to you readers for hitting me everyday to see what I have to say. Thanks for the support!
Click here to read a previous story about Marcus:
She pulled a ten dollar bill out of her pocket and handed it to Marcus, but he held up his hand. “This one’s free. I haven’t seen you here forever. Where’ve you been?” Dana was a little thicker around the waist than she had been over five years ago when he last saw her. He knew where she had been. She had been moving on with her life while he stayed in the club. Now he was behind the bar instead of on the dance floor. It didn’t matter. He was still standing stagnant in the same pond. She was having babies (obviously) and experiencing new things.
“Well, you know Randy and I got married. We have two kids now. Randy’s here too.” She scanned the club, but her eyes didn’t lock on anything. Marcus looked for him too, but couldn’t find the familiar face. Dana continued, “We found a babysitter that is actually reliable, so we thought we’d hit the old haunts.” She looked at him. “I still can’t believe how young you look. You haven’t aged a day since I last saw you.”
The town of Rattenberg, Austria is situated in a valley that prevents the sun from shining on them during the winter months. In order to prevent this, they are suggesting building thirty rotating mirrors to reflect the sun around the large mountain and on the town.
This sounds like the plot of an evil genius to me. With all thirty mirrors focused on the same spot, couldn’t the mirrors do a lot of damage? Whomever controls the mirrors controls the fates of the citizens of the tiny town.
“Pay me ONE MILLION dollars or I will focus all the mirrors on the local brothel!”
The citizens sigh and gather a million dollars to give to the evil genius. They mumble to each other, “He does this every year, just to prove that he can…”
I’m always shocked when someone posts a secret on PostSecret that resonates with my own feelings. It makes me feel that there are people out there that are creating beautiful postcards and sending them off for me. Man, I wish I had an answer for the person who made this one.
This picture would be perfect except Linda has a piece of kitty litter stuck to her nose.
I remember 1976.
That was one of the summers that we drove back to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to see my mom’s side of the family. We were Jehovah Witness by then, so we weren’t supposed to celebrate any of the Independence Day stuff. I remember going to Auntie Doris’ house and being allowed to play with sparklers. One of my cousins was so scared of them she cried huge hysterical tears. They told me she had been burned by a sparkler once, so I followed all the rules so I wouldn’t be scared like she was. I was embarrassed for her. Crying like that when all she had to do was just stay away from them. Sparklers were never as good as those ones in Wisconsin. I felt like I could write letters in the sky with their flame forever.
Milwaukee was decked out for The Bicentennial. I remember that every fire hydrant was painted to look like a drummer in a colonial band. Each little fixture was painted in bright red, white and blue. They were pretty. I remember asking my dad why they had painted all the fire hydrants like that and he told me it’s because they worshipped their country instead of Jehovah. That was enough of an answer for me.
We watched the fireworks on television. They were special Bicentennial fireworks and they lasted too long for my attention span. I couldn’t understand why the grownups were watching the fireworks on television. They weren’t that interesting. I hadn’t really seen any fireworks in real life, so they didn’t seem all that different than the fireworks on Love American Style. They were just colors on the TV screen.
The Bicentennial was a big deal to the grownups, but it didn’t really affect me all that much. There were some different quarters to collect. They had one of those colonial drummers on it just like the fire hydrants in Milwaukee. I wonder if there are any patriotic fire hydrants left. How I would love to take a picture of them now.
I was seven years old
Penelope Dullaghan to illoannounce
Hi all, Sorry for the unclear note this morning about not including commentary…
“Quick note: Please post only illustrations for your submissions. No commentary… just visuals.”
I didn’t mean you shouldn’t write anything to go along with your image. I just meant that there should be an image included….not just text to read. I noticed a few people were only putting commentary with no illustration.
Again, I’m sorry for the miscommunication.
I’m one of those people who use Illustration Friday as a writing exercise instead of drawing one. I usually don’t post my entries to your website, but I find your attitude offensive. Creativity is creativity. I can paint with words far better than a lot of people can illustrate.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words is a dictionary, not a story.
Speaking of a dictionary, try using one:
“To provide with visual features intended to explain or decorate” is only one of many definitions of “illustrate” and not even the first.
“To make clear by giving or by serving as an example or instance” is an earlier definition and isn’t that what we are all trying to do?
I think her note bothered me because she described what these people are doing as “text” and “commentary” instead of recognizing writing as a form of creative input. I don’t think it was a personal attack on me because I’ve only submitted my entries to her little page once. I usually just write my thing and move on. Posting to her website is just an extra step for me that really isn’t worth the bother. It bugged me that she is discouraging others, however. Well, that and the fact that she didn’t even respond to my email.
No more links for them…
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