Sunday, April 21, 2013
The Plan - DFQWBS
This is for Anna Meade and her fiance, Michael, as a part of the Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower. My hat is off to the lovely organizers of this event Laura, Miranda & Rebekah. I wish Anna and Michael all the best.
By: Mona Bliss
“So what are your colors?”
“Your colors? You know, colors for your bridesmaid dresses, flowers, decorations at the hall…your colors.” She raised her eyebrows at me with her pen poised over her pad in anticipation of her explanation clearing up my confusion.
“Um…colors…right. I don’t really have any colors or bridesmaid dresses or bridesmaids for that matter. I, um...” I glanced over to my soon to be Mother In Law who was starting to frown at my obvious lack of Bride Preparation, “I, um, can I get back to you on that?”
Now the wedding planner was frowning at me too, “Sure. I understand you will be wearing Mrs. Hannigan’s dress. Have you done your fittings yet?”
Oh yay, my turn to frown, “I am?” I turned to my fiancé’s mother, “Nan, did I miss something?”
She smiled one of those dangerous Southern woman smiles at me, the kind where you knew butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth it was so damn cold and insincere, and said, “Well darlin’ I know you and your family are not exactly on speaking terms right now so I just assumed you’d want a family dress for this event knowing how important tradition and family are to Sean. If I’m wrong you just say the word and I’ll have Jodi Spokes bring in her entire collection for you. I just want you and Sean to have the wedding of your dreams.”
She knew the wedding of my dreams involved the county courthouse but according to her that would break Sean’s heart. I gave her an exact replica of her smile, “Oh Nan, you always think of everything. I’d be honored to wear your dress.”
Three hours later I was driving back to the house Sean and I shared with most of his pack. Werewolf packs tended to live together, it was another aspect of life I had to get used to as the Alpha’s mate. I loved Sean Hannigan with every fiber of my being which I had just proved by sitting through hours of detailed discussions about the difference between blush roses and pale pink roses, the atrocities committed using baby’s breath in bridal bouquets and the nightmare of those tacky, tacky theme weddings that were so popular now days.
I knew Sean has spent the morning with his mother doing the same thing. I parked in the driveway noticing that there seemed to be an unusual number of cars on our street. As I reached the front door it was suddenly jerked open and my best friend, Janine, grabbed my arm and yanked me inside, “Jeezelouise it took you long enough. COME ON we gotta get you pulled together.”
I stopped her before she could pull me upstairs, looking around in total confusion and wonder. The giant living room was empty of its normal furniture and there were white folding chairs set up in rows with an aisle down the center, all facing the stone fire place. There were white twinky lights strung everywhere around the room giving it a lovely soft glow and all along the fireplace mantel vases of every size and color held sweet smelling spring flowers.
Before Janine could grab my arm again Sean walked into the room wearing black jeans, a sapphire blue silk shirt that perfectly matched his eyes and a black vest under a fitted coat that went to his knees. His eyes were sparkling with love and laughter.
“Sean, what is going on and holy hell you look fantastic!”
“My mother told me this morning that you had always wanted a big church wedding, I can only imagine what bullshit she’s been feeding you about me.” He grinned as he took my hands in his, “So I thought we’d just get it done tonight. Go get dressed baby. Janine got that green swing dress you’ve been wanting and Jerry wrote up the ceremony this afternoon. Once it’s all said and done we’re gonna dance ‘till the sun comes up.”
My eyes filled with tears of joy and gratitude…and love.
“You know, you’ll never get rid of me now Sean Hannigan.”
“That was my plan all along Nicolette Luchesse.”
Here’s where you can read all the lovely stories for Anna and Michael.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 04/21 at 09:34 PM
Thursday, April 04, 2013
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
Good luck North Carolina. If you manage to get this through I will start a betting pool on how long it takes before Protestants are burning Catholics and Catholics are burning Protestants. Oh I know you’ll start with the Jews and the Muslims...just like at every other time in history...but eventually you’ll get to each other. Have at it guys. WHAT could possibly go wrong?
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 04/04 at 01:27 PM
Politics - Opinion
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Mid-Week Blues-Buster - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
This was written for the Mid-Week Blues Buster over at The Tsuruoka Files. If you’re curious go check it out. Stories are posted in the comments. I went over the word count limit...but oh well, so it goes.
She knew it the second he walked through the door. She and The Bartender turned their heads in complete unison towards the door. He stood there like some character out of myth wearing a long black leather duster coat and a wide brimmed hat pulled low keeping his face in shadow. He wore dark jeans and shirt of deep rich red silk. His hair was black and pulled back into a sleek tail and, though no one could see his eyes, she knew they were an icy pale blue. He was a full 6’2” in his bare feet but with his Tearing Up The World Boots on he topped 6’5”.
She was no petite flower herself standing 5’10” when she got out of bed in the morning, but tonight she stood a solid 6’1” because she had worn her Try And Make Me Boots. Good thing too because that was exactly what he was there to do.
He stepped to the side of the door and leaned against the wall and lit a smoke to wait. The bar emptied out slowly. She caught The Bartenders attention and tapped her glass for another Bushmills. The stranger pushed away from the wall and walked towards her. As the door closed behind the last customer they all heard the sharp click of the door locks. The tall man raised an eyebrow at the sound.
“My bar my rules, until it’s finished no one in and no one out.” The Bartender looked at both of them and shook his head. Then he slammed the back hallway door as he left the room.
The jukebox whirled to life and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds started singing about a man and his red right hand. She snorted a laugh as he took his hat off and set it on the bar shooting the jukebox a sour look. He turned his gaze to her.
“You cut your hair.”
“And bleached it.”
“I got tired of people mistaking me for you.” He chuckled.
“It suits you.”
“Look can we skip the small talk? I’ve got shit to do.”
“Still pretending you’re fit for this role I see.”
She sighed, “Yeah, yeah you’re Temptation Incarnate and I’m the Tarnished Knight blah blah blah whatfuckingever. Just do it so I can get the hell out of here ok?”
He appeared unaffected by her smartassery which made her need to turn it up to eleven. He moved to stand behind her. She smirked at his oh so serious demeanor reflected in the mirror behind the bar. She tilted her head back towards him baring her neck. He pulled his right hand out of his pocket just as Nick Cave sang “red right hand” and she couldn’t stop the giggles. He frowned and glared down at her.
“You have no respect for the myth you walk in woman.”
“Oh get on with it Stretch, I don’t have all night.”
He placed his hand at the base of her throat spreading his fingers across her upper chest and pulled her gently back into him. Her entire body went rigid and her eyes locked open staring at the ceiling. The bar fell away for her and everything she had ever thought she might want played across her consciousness like a movie. Cars and houses and boots and guns and knives and swords…she knew she was in for a long night when he started with things. It went on for hours without her moving or reacting in anyway until finally just before dawn he offered her the one thing he knew deep down she wanted with every fiber of her being.
She started to shake under his hand and tears slid out of her wide open eyes. She longed for it. She needed it. She knew she deserved it. But in the end she knew it was just another self-indulgence, a luxury available to other people, but not her. She shook hard one last time, and then slumped forward onto the bar eyes closed breathing hard.
He stared at her back. He looked down at his hand and saw it tremble. He started to move towards her again rage filling his eyes but The Bartender slammed through the back hallway door shocking both the woman and the man behind her.
The Bartender glared at the man, “Don’t even think it. You had your chance. You bet it all and lost so you don’t get any more chances at this one. Now get out of my bar.”
The man felt the compulsion. He knew that once The Bartender told you to get out of this bar you had no choice but to leave. So he picked up his hat and without a backwards glance he left.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 03/13 at 01:12 PM
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The Department of Justice needs to have its ASS HANDED TO IT over the Aaron Swartz case. But more than that Congress needs to pull its collective head out of their collective asses about computer crime laws. They need to educate themselves better…AND I MEAN NOW MOTHER FUCKERS…because they are doing it all wrong. The CFAA, in my opinion, was bad law when they wrote it but I’ll cut everyone a little slack for not really having a lot of experience in general with computer realities and possibilities in 1984. Since it was written everything that has been done to amend that law has made it worse and worse and stupider and stupider. I will not accept in defense of that law that the “spirit” is good, because the letter of the law is what gets used as a fucking weapon against the public.
Absolutely everyone who does almost anything on the internet these days could be prosecuted under the CFAA as it is currently written. EVERYONE. Now you say to yourself, “Well but the DOJ isn’t going to waste time coming after me because I use a nickname on Facebook. They have other things to do.” You’re right they do. Right up until you become active in some political organization, completely legal, wherein you say things…in public and on the internet…that they don’t like even though speaking in this country is a protected right regardless of what you say, not including certain very specific restrictions usually regarding public safety. Public safety does not include safety from a thought the government doesn’t like or that business doesn’t like.
Bad computer laws need to be stricken from the books and replaced with thoughtful, well educated, intelligent laws written by people who understand the reality of the technology and how people use it. This is not about copyright law, though those laws need some powerful updating too. This is about how much power the Government is allowed to willfully use against its citizens based on a bad law that gives the Government too much power and too little accountability wrapped up in a warm cozy blanket of ignorance decorated with arrogance.
The DOJ has admitted that it aggressively pursued its case against Aaron Swartz due to his contribution to a groups political commentary on copyright law. It is not illegal to discuss civil disobedience in this country. It is not illegal to discuss how to subvert bad law as a way of bringing the truth of the laws badness to light. It is not illegal in this country to TALK ABOUT ANYTHING! But the DOJ is using Aaron’s public discussion, his legal public discussion, to justify their astoundingly aggressive prosecution of him using a law that they could in turn use against any one of us.
But hang on…the DOJ needs to have the discretion to prosecute crimes so as to discourage chaos and anarchy. To protect the public good…that’s what they are supposed to be doing right? Making sure that WE THE PUBLIC are protected from the criminals, the thieves, the irresponsibly greedy…right? Well let’s take a look at their record in recent years shall we?
Aaron Swartz downloaded academic articles that he, in truth, was allowed to download for free but he did circumvent the systems security so he could download more articles faster than the system said you were allowed to download. He broke some rules. He broke them rather spectacularly. He did not ever say or even indicate what he planned to do with those articles. Regardless of what the DOJ THINKS he was going to do with them…he hadn’t said nor had he DONE anything with those articles. He was indicted on four counts, of wire fraud, computer fraud, criminal forfeiture and obtaining information from a protected computer. Add it all up and you are looking at felonies taking him to over 35 years in jail and over 1Mil in fines.
Now let’s see how the DOJ prosecuted some other recent criminal activities. Check out this article about a medical device company that decided it didn’t have to follow the FDA testing rules and just, you know…injected untested shit into humans. Yeah…they died. People DIED. The DOJ went after the executives of that company and got them. Oh yes, people died and the DOJ and the judge threw the book at them and the judge even gave them sentences over and above the Federal guidelines…nine months in jail. The Federal guideline is six months.
Nine months. People died and the fuckers who made the decisions to avoid the proper processes to keep the public safe did nine fucking months in jail.
Some of that has to do with the law used to prosecute them and how it was written and used. Huh…so I guess THAT law is really good for keeping irresponsible executives safe from having to make equitable restitution to the public for KILLING PEOPLE.
Let’s look at another one…this one is easy…HSBC!! Dudes…seriously? Money laundering for the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels? People MUST have gone to jail right? They admitted they did it. But in the end the DOJ decided to NOT prosecute and send anyone to jail or make sure they at last lost their jobs in the banking industry…no they went for a settlement that was equivalent to a little over a month’s income for the bank. Five weeks income for breaking multiple laws and betraying the public trust, this is what HSBC has to pay for the crimes they committed.
Now let’s stack just those two criminal cases, and the prosecutorial choices, against Aaron Swartz downloading too many academic articles and then…you know…not doing anything with them. THIRTY FIVE YEARS IN JAIL AND OVER 1MILLION IN FINES. Oh and he would have to spend the rest of his life as a convicted felon, which is a much bigger deal than you might think. If you are a private citizen you don’t lightly agree to living the rest of your life with a felony conviction on your record.
So now we have the DOJ admitting to being politically motivated in their prosecution of Aaron Swartz which in turn tells me they must also be politically motivated in their lack of prosecution of a large bank that makes large political donations or the use of toothless laws to prosecute executives whose decisions actually killed people, large medical corporations that also make large political donations.
The DOJ did not serve justice or the public in its pursuit of that absolutely ridiculous case against Aaron Swartz. There was no logic or common sense or even decency to how they handled themselves or the case. The fact that they had the CFAA to support them in their actions only proves the truth that the law is bad and makes every single citizen in this country vulnerable to the same abuse of power that was committed against Aaron Swartz.
So yeah…be afraid, be very, very afraid. Or better yet…BE ANGRY AND VOCAL AND DEMAND CHANGE.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
For My Friend
Her father died this week.
I didn’t know him.
I knew of him.
I knew of him as he was reflected through her.
I knew of him by the way she rejected him.
I knew of him by the way she forgave him.
I knew of him by the way she embraced him.
I knew of him by the way she loved music.
I knew of him by the way she carried her responsibilities.
I knew of him by the way she stumbled.
I knew of him by the way she stood tall.
I knew of him by the way she embodied joy.
I knew of him by the way she passionately created art.
I knew of him by the way she held her friends close but with soft hands.
I knew of him by the way she cried and the way she laughed.
I knew of him and will be forever grateful to him.
I knew of him by the amazing gift that is his daughter.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 02/16 at 08:32 PM
Friday, January 25, 2013
Women In Combat…yes it IS time
So yesterday I posted about the Pentagon eliminating the ban against women in combat units in the Military on Facebook. Basically I said that I approve of this and it’s about time. My Mom then popped on and said that my 86 year old Dad wanted me to read an article in the Wall Street Journal by Ryan Smith titled, “Ryan Smith: The Reality That Awaits Women in Combat”. So, not one to ignore my Dads suggestions, I went and read the article which I have linked to above. Go read it. It’s real and honest and I expect quite accurate in its depiction of life in a modern combat environment.
One of his points is that there is great potential for the disruption of societal norms as a result of gender mixed combat units. First off, I do not want for one single moment to imply here that I don’t accept that as a real issue. It is. Human nature is such that we rely on societal norms to guide us in our interactions with one another. Societal norms make us feel…well normal. That can get pretty important in insane environments such as combat. But societal norms change. They are always changing. This isn’t always an easy thing but it is a reality.
It used to be a societal norm that white men and black men did not serve side by side in our military. It used to be a societal norm that black men were never promoted to officer status in our military. It used to be a societal norm that women did not fly fighter jets in our military. Societal norms change, as they should.
The process of integrating women into combat units will not be without challenges but I am not a fan of banning women from situations because of a perceived societal norm.
Mr. Smith’s other big issue was whether integrating women into the units that will likely encounter these extreme situations and environments including horrible indignities and discomfort and misery will make them more or less effective in combat? Well first off we can look to the other countries in the world that have done this already. There’s a very good article in the New York Times today about how this works in Canada, and how long ago they managed to deal with this issue. The truth is we have to stop letting out dated and, to be honest, religious ideas make these decisions for us. It sort of shines a light on how much of our society still wants to infantilize women and keep them in subservient roles. Because regardless of what you think or believe the motives are for keeping women out of combat, the end result is that commanders cannot choose the best person for a job, they can only choose the best person from the limited pool he is allowed to choose from for the job and it means that women cannot advance their military careers in the same way as their male counterparts.
I think part of what disturbs people about this idea is that adding women officially to combat units would require them to let go of their myths about gender.
Mr. Ryan describes a brutal and miserable and embarrassing month long trip to get back to base from a forward position. He is concerned, not with whether or not women could handle this experience, but that having to live through that experience cheek by jowl with the opposite sex would be more difficult for all involved. It’s hard to read that and not hear, “I don’t want a girl to see me shit in a bag one inch from her face” and “I don’t want to see a girl shit in a bag one inch from my face”. This is not about combat readiness or combat performance, it’s about maturity among adults. It’s about wanting to hang on to juvenile beliefs about men and women. This isn’t new. These same arguments have been made in some form or other every single time our society decides that it’s a time for a change in our societal norm that involves women. Now I could do a whole bunch of research and give you a bunch of examples but ya know what? You know how to use Google…look it up for yourself. Start with women working outside the home or going to college or studying medicine and science or just about any damn thing. Because at some point there has been an argument about how icky it will be for EVERYONE if you let the girls in.
I’m quite certain that Mr. Ryan, along with all the soldiers in that tank would have preferred to NOT be having those experiences. But when you have reached that level of misery and your only goal is to survive, if doesn’t matter if the person shitting into a bag next to you is male or female, it only matters that you are both trying to survive and trying to help each other survive.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 01/25 at 08:18 AM
Politics - Opinion
Essay - Non Fiction
Friday, January 18, 2013
No…it’s NOT like the Holocaust
Folks I’m just gonna go on record here as saying that no matter how much you disagree with the current Administration you can BANK on the fact that I disagreed with the Bush II Administration WAY more. At no point during those eight years did I accuse that man or his Administration of being like Hitler or that during those eight years, while I felt the American people were lied to and bullied and guilted into taking actions they NEVER would have taken if not for the emotional manipulation of the public as a result of 9/11, did I compare what was happening to the Holocaust.
BECAUSE NOTHING IS LIKE THE HOLOCAUST EXCEPT THE HOLOCAUST!
Just stop it. It’s shameful. You should be embarrassed to participate in anything that makes those sorts of comparisons simply because you are too lazy to actually THINK about what you are saying and what it really means.
You denigrate the memory of the millions of people who were murdered under Hitler’s reign.
You denigrate this Country’s brilliantly designed process for the peaceful transfer of power. Which I doubt that you ever waste one single second thinking about or remembering how unique it is in the history of humankind. No matter what, in four years the current President of this country will no longer be allowed to be the President of this country. Whether you like that person or not. Whether you agree with that person’s Administration or not. We did that on purpose people.
Let me say that again...WE DID THAT ON PURPOSE!!
To avoid the dangers of tyranny. Our process comes with it’s own pitfalls but, for the most part, it’s still worth it. Because we know that power is dangerous and must have lots of checks and balances. We built them into our system.
Our system isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. But it’s still better than the alternatives in my opinion.
If you’re worried about current legislation...again I say spend a little time thinking about how our process works. Which you should know is a long and involved, and usually quite hampered, process to bring any kind of new law or regulation into existence. Even once it’s passed it often takes a very long time for it to actually get implemented. But none of that is what’s important here...what’s important here is that just because a law is passed doesn’t mean it will necessarily be the law of the land from now until the end of time.
Ya know why?
Because again...we planned in some checks and balances and the ability to question those laws and ways to change them and adjust them as time goes on. Because tyranny relies on total control. So stop comparing legislative processes that have the support of many people but you do not agree with to the Holocaust. Again...it’s insulting and cruel and wrong. Just because you don’t like a proposed law or regulation does not mean that America has suddenly become a fascist state wherein a small group holds all the power and there is no hope of change except with extreme violence. But most importantly stop comparing the American people you don’t agree with, all of whom still have ALL their human and civil rights in place and in effect, to six million people who were forcibly removed from their homes and placed into concentration camps and murdered.
Again, our process is not perfect, but it does still work. You still have a deep responsibility to participate and express your thoughts...YOUR THOUGHTS...on any given issue or proposed legislation. But if you want anyone to give a rats ass about what you think...you had better stop comparing everything you don’t like to Hitler’s Germany and stop denigrating the memory of the Holocaust and all those who died in it.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Black Cat Christmas - A Razor Girl Holiday Story
This holiday story is dedicated to my Goodreads buddy Sarah! Sarah has been endlessly supportive of these characters and this world that I am creating. She has given me wonderful feedback as I’ve slowly worked on Lucy’s story and overall been one of the best cheerleaders any writer could ask for while trying to get through a first draft. So this short Holiday bit sits in the middle of the manuscript that I’m working on...and it’s for you Sarah. Thanks and Happy Holidays everyone!
BLACK CAT CHRISTMAS
“I can NOT believe I let you talk me into this.” Lucy struggled into the sexy Santa outfit as she glared at Greg.
“It’s not my fault Cissie got sick and besides it’s for a good cause. Quit bitching and get those fishnets on,” Greg said as he jammed the green elf hat onto his head, “and be grateful you aren’t on table duty.”
Lucy squinted at him, “I’ll get these fishnets on just as soon as you get the hell out of here.” Greg grinned and bounced his eyebrows up and down a couple of times lasciviously. She threw the red velvet, white fur trimmed hat at his head. He just laughed and picked up the giant red and green bag filled with who knew what and walked out of the dressing room.
Lucy sat down and pulled up the fishnet stockings and then looked at the hooker pumps sitting on the floor. Yeah, not happening. She pulled on a pair of black socks and then her black Doc Martins. If she was gonna spend the night on her feet behind the bar dressed like a stripper Santa then she would damn well have her feet in her Docs. She got up and went to look at herself in the mirror.
Yep, Stripper Santa. She rolled her eyes and tried to pull the dangerously low neckline of the red dress up but it was pointless. It looked like a Santa themed ice skating costume except X-rated in the lowness of the neckline and shortness of the skirt. She was gonna kill both Greg and Cissie.
Alexa walked into the dressing room carrying her big cosmetics bag, “Sit. The place is already filling up and we gotta do something with that face of yours.”
Lucy smirked, “Good luck, sweetheart.”
Alexa gave her a hard look, “I don’t need luck, I’m good. Now sit and shut it while I work.” Alexa stood staring for a second at Lucy’s copper colored skin, dark eyes, full lips and the four scars that started at her right temple and pulled across her cheek, made to look like claw marks, ending just before her nose. The scars had tattooed shading and outlining to increase their detail. Alexa smiled as she decided exactly how she would handle Lucy’s make up.
“What?” Lucy asked, eyes wide with concern.
“Not gonna fight those scars of yours. Instead I think we are going to emphasize them because tonight we have an audience that knows a thing or two about living with wounds and scars.”
Lucy quirked a half smile, “True enough. Ok…do your magic ‘cause God knows I need all the help I can get tonight.” Alexa pulled out her brushes and creams and pots of colored powders and false eyelashes and started working on Lucy.
Most of the girls who danced at The Black Cat had waited tables at some point in their lives so even if it hadn’t been recently they all pretty much knew what to do and how to handle customers. While this wasn’t the normal arrangement for the strip club, or the normal show for that matter, they had talked it out and gotten a good game plan and as the guests arrived everything seemed to be working out well. Lucy had gotten Sam, one of her very best friends and Alpha of the local Blue Springs Werewolf pack, to bring his pack and help move tables and chairs so there would be enough room for people in wheelchairs. Sam’s sister, Miri, and his niece, Selena, had been at the club all day the day before decorating it to within an inch of its life. It had taken a lot of work because this was usually a place that kept the lights pretty low if not off. So getting it holiday light friendly took a fair amount of effort. In the end the tinsel was almost blinding. There was a giant tree in one corner covered in lights, glass balls and red velvet bows. The topper on the tree? A sparkling black sequined cat with glowing green eyes.
Greg, the owner of the club, was out front helping with each van load of guests and making sure the drivers knew where to park. The girls, along with most of the Werewolves, were helping people into the club and getting them settled. Along the side of the room was a huge table loaded down with some of the best BBQ in two counties along with every side dish you could think of and plenty of cobbler, caramel cake and banana pudding for dessert.
Sandy, a very pretty and athletically built redhead, walked over to the first full table with her order pad in hand, “Hiya, folks and Happy Holidays from all of us here at the Black Cat! I’m Sandy and I will be your hostess tonight.”
Then in her best Mae West impression she said, “Each table has their own hostess and you poor souls are stuck with me.” Everyone laughed.
“Our job tonight is to bring you whatever drinks and food you might want so you can just settle in here, relax and enjoy the show. Your menu is on the table there. Now let’s get you some drinks.” This was being repeated around the room at each table with a different girl doing her spiel in her own way. The mood was pretty festive with lots of laughter and hoots.
Lucy felt like her face weighed three pounds heavier than normal with all the cosmetics and sparkles.
“Ok…you can look now but do NOT touch your face or your hair. Everything is perfect.” Alexa crossed her arms and looked very pleased with herself. Lucy took a deep breath and turned around to face the mirror. Her eyes widened in disbelief.
“HOLY SHIT, ALEXA!” Lucy’s face broke into an amazed smile, “I don’t know how you managed to make this mug look pretty but damn woman you did it.” The scars on her face were actually accented with the small rhinestones and who knew what else but the overall look was one of shattered and reassembled beauty.
“Well honey, no matter what you think, it isn’t hard to bring pretty out when it’s just sittin’ there. Now you better get out to the bar before Jason has a nervous breakdown dealing with it alone.”
Greg, wearing a very nice tuxedo with a Santa hat on his head at a rakish angle, stepped onto the stage where they had set up a microphone and the follow spot came on, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!! YOU FOLKS HAVING A GOOD TIME?” The room erupted in cheers and applause.
“I want to thank everyone at the Ocala CBOC and the Gainesville VA for helping to arrange this event and for all their help with transportation. We couldn’t have done it without their willingness to participate.” More applause. “Now I’d like to introduce our musical guest for the night…please welcome Lenny Sherman and the Rockin’ Tanks featuring Georgia James on vocals.” The crowd roared as Greg left the stage and the curtains opened on the band as they started in on a swingin’ version of Joan Osborne’s Santa Claus Baby.
Lucy was behind the bar all night mostly dealing with the drink orders from the girls but a few of the guests would come to the bar themselves to pick up drinks for their table. One guy kept his head down and turned to the side when he first walked up to the bar. If he had been a Werewolf Lucy would have thought he must be a very submissive wolf but he was clearly full human. She approached him slowly, moving her hands to the top of the bar gently with a bit of a smile on her face.
“Merry Christmas. What can I get you tonight?” He glanced up and caught sight of her face, the scars detailed out with ink and sparkles and cosmetics. He froze, his eyes going wide, he looked down taking a deep breath, and then lifted his head all the way up and faced her square on. One side of his face was badly scarred, it looked like shrapnel and fire had made rough work of a once very handsome young man. Lucy’s smile broadened and his slowly grew.
“Ya know,” Lucy said grinning broadly now, “us pretty people have to stick together. Otherwise we might find ourselves responsible for riots and so on. Now, whatcha drinkin’ tonight, sweetie?” He laughed and ordered a couple of beers to take back to his table. Before he carried them off he leaned over and gave her a kiss on her cheek. His table buddies caught him at it and busted out in wolf whistles and cheers. Lucy blushed a little but couldn’t stop grinning.
The night was winding down and Greg was outside helping the last driver load up the last group of folks to head back to the VA. Lucy was sitting at a table with a bottle of water and some snacks. Greg walked back in with the driver, both of them looking worried.
“What’s wrong?” Lucy asked.
“We’re missing someone” Greg said.
“Missing someone? You mean we managed to lose someone?”
The driver looked concerned, “Well I’m short one patient. She might be in the restroom I guess.”
“Oh…yeah that’s possible. I’ll go check.” Lucy got up and walked backed to the restrooms. But there was no one in the restroom, she even checked the men’s room to be sure. She walked back to the guys shaking her head. “No one back there in the bathrooms. Would she have left with someone else?” Lucy asked the driver.
“Not a chance. She’s got pretty serious PTSD, I was surprised she even agreed to come out tonight. But she had a couple of good friends with her and she seemed to be doing alright. I tried to keep an eye on her but I lost sight of her when everyone started moving out. Maybe all the noise got to her or too many guys on their feet around her at once.”
Greg said, “OK…why don’t we start looking around moving slowly and making some noise but nothing sudden or loud so she has a chance to recognize help if she’s having a bad time of it. That sound right?” The driver nodded.
Lucy asked, “What’s her name?”
“Niki, Niki Casey.”
“Ok, let’s do a good circuit of this room and then I’ll check the store room behind the bar while you guys go check out the backstage area.” All three of them checked under the tables and behind anything that seemed large enough for someone to hide behind. They kept up a bit of soft chatter about how they hoped it had been a good night and they hoped Niki would let them know she was ok so they could help her.
Lucy moved slowly into the storage room behind the bar and was walking towards the back when she caught sight of some movement behind some boxes of booze. She turned around and moved back out and caught Greg’s attention and waved so he would know she had found Niki. She held her hands up to stop the two guys from coming over and mouthed the word “WAIT”. They both nodded and kept up their general soft chatter out in the main room.
Lucy walked back in humming one of the Christmas songs the band had played earlier. She got about halfway down the aisle and then sat down on the floor. She kept humming Santa Baby quietly.
Then she said, almost as though she was talking to herself, “I always liked that song. Eartha Kitt’s version manages to sound both naughty and nice somehow. Greg says I have the worst taste in Christmas music. But that’s just because he only likes the most obvious songs. You know stuff like “White Christmas” and “Silent Night” and um…oh what’s the song about the damn chestnuts?”
Softly from the behind the boxes she heard, “The Christmas Song”.
“Really? It’s called ‘The Christmas Song’? Well hell, I don’t think I ever knew that. Damned if you don’t learn something new every day huh?” Lucy heard a soft huff of a laugh. “What kind of Christmas songs do you like?”
“Dean Martin’s ‘Let It Snow’” she said softly.
“Ahhh…yeah that’s a classic. It’s hard to not like Dean. Don’t tell Greg but the truth is I really do like Bing doing ‘White Christmas’ but if I admitted that I wouldn’t get to tease him about being an old fuddyduddy.” Lucy continued staring at her Docs and playing with the laces. She knew Niki was sneaking looks at her around the boxes. She had purposely sat where the woman could see her scarred face.
“Is Greg your boyfriend?”
Lucy smiled, “Naw. Just one of the best friends a girl could ask for...he’s saved my ass more than once.”
Then she asked her real question, “Who did that to your face?”
“I did. Some assholes in Clearwater thought they could mark me. I cut their mark off. No one owns my body but me.” Lucy practically growled as she said it.
Niki’s voice broke with despair and bitterness, “I used to think that too.”
Lucy heard the whole story in that one shattered sentence. She knew the stats for women in the military these days and she knew this wasn’t just combat PTSD. As if combat wasn’t bad enough.
“I had to fight for it, Niki. From day freakin’ one, I had to fight for it.”
“Can I show you something?” Lucy knew she was taking a chance pushing the contact but she felt like this might help.
“Ok. But stay over there ok? I can see you.” Niki’s voice shook a bit as she said it and Lucy knew she was under an immense amount of emotional stress. So she spoke evenly and moved very slowly.
“Ok. So I’m going to show you my back. I’ve got to stand up and unzip this stupidass costume. You do know I don’t normally dress like this right? Lord...please tell me you know I don’t normally dress like this.”
Niki responded softly...a little less shaky, “Yeah. Ok.”
Lucy stood up and turned her back to where she knew Niki was sitting. She reached around and managed to get the zipper started down. Once she got it all the way down she pulled the dress away exposing the rough drawn shiny scarred skin that covered her entire back. She stood up straight with her shoulders down and strong holding the front of the dress in place. She heard Niki gasp. She waited a moment then she pulled the dress back up and zipped it as much as she could. Turning slowly, she faced Niki. She didn’t move any closer but now they were looking at each other. Lucy sat back down with a sad smile on her face.
“That was courtesy of my Werewolf stepbrother when I was 13 years old, because I didn’t shift and I fought back. There are way too many of us. Women who had every reason to think they were safe with the people they were told to trust. Women abandoned by the people who had a moral, ethical and sometimes professional obligation to protect them or at least help them once they found out they’d been hurt. But instead...instead too many times we are betrayed because no one likes to find out their precious son or father or soldier is really a fucking rapist. So we end up with a choice to either die, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly or...or...we fight the motherfuckers. We get harder and faster and meaner and we find better people, people who do have our backs. People who look at us, at our scars, and see us as we are, battle tested warriors. We get fierce.”
Niki’s strangled, “How?” almost broke Lucy’s heart. But Niki didn’t need broken hearts she needed answers, she needed a way out of that goddamn hole those fuckers had thrown her into.
Lucy lifted her chin just a touch, “With help. Help from women who have been where you are and have gotten somewhere better. Help from men who can restore your faith in men. Help from people who are worthy of a warrior like you. With help.”
Lucy stood slowly and held her hand out to Niki, prepared to stand like that all night if need be. Niki’s breathing increased for a while and then slowly settled down. Finally she looked up and made up her mind. She stood slowly and took Lucy’s hand. Lucy smiled and nodded her head towards the door.
“Let’s get the hell out of here. Otherwise Greg is gonna start singing those awful Christmas songs and really who needs that?”
Niki huffed a small laugh and they started walking out. Just before they got to the door Niki stopped pulling Lucy around to look at her. Niki stared into Lucy’s eyes, looking for hard truth…and finding it. She nodded once and gripped Lucy’s hand a little harder as they walked out together.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 12/22 at 10:13 AM
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
“Daring To Suck”
A good friend of mine sent me a link to Toby Vail’s blog on emusic.com. Toby is a writer and a musician. She was in Bikini Kill and is currently in two or three bands and runs Jigsaw Underground which used to be a print fanzine and is now an online blog. She wrote this really awesome post about the ideas behind the first Bikini Kill record. You can find it here, go read it, it’s good.
She talks about the deliberate decision to leave the recording detritus in the record. All the mistakes and the chit chat with the sound engineer. The deliberate choice to allow the process to show on both the recording and the entire package. Very punk. It was 1992 and young women were trying to muscle their way into rock and roll...again. They WERE muscling their way into rock and roll. It was very cool and part of it all was the inclusiveness that women in music were spreading around. Everyone of them had been a kid sitting in a room listening to records wondering if maybe they could do that...play that...strut like that and scream like that. So when they did it...when they just said to themselves “Fuck it, I’m gonna start my own band”, they also said “...and I’m gonna show every single girl out there that she can do it too. You don’t have to be pretty or sexy or have some perfect voice or play like some music school graduate. You just pick up a shitty guitar and start in on it.” There is nothing so powerful as someone publicly saying “GO ON...dare to suck so you can do what you want to do.” The power of putting out a record that showed them working at it. Showed them not being perfect at it. Because the thing was...if they could work at it, so could you.
It was political. It was passionate. And while it maybe didn’t cause every girl in the world to start her own band. It absolutely caused some girls to start their own bands. I know some of them. I watched the impact that Bikini Kill and L7 and Sleater-Kinney had on the teenage girls I was mentoring in the early 90’s. Their world got bigger because there were so many young women playing rock and roll and doing it their way. Singing about what they wanted to sing about, writing the kind of music they wanted to play and the hell with anyone who didn’t like it.
Did it change the world? HELL YEAH IT DID. Is there more to do? Always.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 11/13 at 06:41 AM
Essay - Non Fiction
Monday, November 05, 2012
So I have a confession to make. I have been watching the show Nashville. Mostly because I think T. Bone Burnett is brilliant and he’s doing the music. Now I realize that saying that I’m watching this show for the music is a bit like saying you read Playboy for the articles but…well the articles are pretty good. So shut it.
It’s very soap operaish which isn’t my favorite form of drama but I am tolerating it because when T. Bone hands you lovely moments of two young song writers singing a killer duet in The Bluebird you get willing to tolerate a whole lot of crap just for the chance to hear another one.
So you might be asking yourself “OK Bliss, thanks for the TV viewing justification info but what does this have to do with writing?” Fair question, let me answer it for you. One of the storyline involves one of those young song writers. A young woman who starts out thinking of herself as only a poet, not a song writer. She ends up pairing up with a young man she works with at The Bluebird. (If you don’t know about the famous Bluebird in Nashville, look it up. Pretty cool place.) He’s clearly a musician trying to make it while bartending, she’s waiting tables and writing poetry while being uber supportive of her musician boyfriend who is NOT the bartender/musician guy. Her boyfriend plays some sort of punk/country along with the lines of Hank Williams III. Cool enough but he’s not having a lot of success. Common storyline. OK…so bartender guy has a crush on her and convinces her to show him some of her poetry. He wants to set it to music and does so. They sing it at the bar one night and it’s BRILLIANT. Yeah, yeah she writes AND can sing…well it IS TV so we’ll give that a pass right now. So they get heard by a well known country music radio DJ and powerhouse. He tells them he wants to produce their demo. WOW! BIG BREAK!
OK…here’s the thing, her boyfriend doesn’t react to this well at all. Now that might seem like a bit of a cliché but the sad thing is, this is often a rotten reality for creative women in relationships with creative men. Now I am about to talk in gender generalities and I fully acknowledge that, there are TONS of women who commit this particular sin and TONS of men who do NOT commit it. But the bottom line is that it’s common enough that it feels like a clichéd plot device. That sucks so much.
I have experienced this myself to varying degrees in my life. I’m not going to go into a ton of gender politics here because honestly other people write about that better than me. But one of the challenges for any artist is to fight though doubt and fear and create their art. It takes time, it takes work, it takes confidence and it takes a foundation belief that you have a right to take that time and do that work and have that confidence. If the person closest to you, who claims to love you, tells in you in a million different ways, direct and indirect, that you actually don’t have a right to any of that…well, that’s how so many women end up only singing in their showers or writing secret poems and stories that get tossed out or painting only when their kids invite them to join in for a craft day.
It always makes me think of a story that Joni Mitchell told in a documentary about how her grandmother was a frustrated poet and musician and she kicked the kitchen door off its hinges as a result of her creative frustration. How her paternal grandmother cried for the last time when she was 14 because she wanted a piano and she told herself to stop crying she was just being a silly girl. Joni realized that so few women followed their artistic lives once they married. Regardless of the reasons, that was the most common reality for women. It broke her heart to tell Graham Nash she couldn’t marry him but she didn’t want to end up kicking in a kitchen door instead of writing the songs she was obviously put here to write.
I’m tired of this Faustian choice that women still experience as artists. I am tired of seeing brilliant talented women letting their art die at their feet because its very existence threatens their boyfriends or husbands. I know there are men who are not threatened by this, I married one. I know there are men who fully invest in their own creative lives and are supportive of the women in their lives while they do the same. But I also see that guy…that guy who tries to make his girl feel scared and bad for taking the time to paint or write or play and then have the temerity to be good at it. That is what I am really tired of seeing.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 11/05 at 07:02 AM
Essay - Non Fiction
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
The Black Velvet Bag - REWRITE 2012
Tommy was sweeping up the back corners of the bar when the jukebox started playing 10,000 Maniacs’ “What’s The Matter Here”. Such a happy bouncy song for such an awful thing and it meant his next visitor would be having a rough night. Sure enough as he walked towards the bar with the broom and dustpan the front door opened slowly. She walked in dragging her feet, shoulders and wings drooping with the weight of so much misery. Usually she was a delight, showing up while Tommy cleaned to chatter about this and that, never drinking anything more than a glass of champagne because, according to her, the bubbles went so well with her wings.
But not on nights like this. On these nights only whiskey would do…whiskey, cigarettes and a witness.
Tommy walked behind the bar and pulled out the bottle of Jameson he kept just for these moments. He set it on the bar in front of where she sat along with two shot glasses and his smokes. She lit a cigarette as he came around to her side of the bar and put his arm around her waist as she leaned her head on his shoulder and shuddered out a deep sigh of despair.
After a few moments he gave her a gentle squeeze, “Come on darlin’ let’s get this over with, waiting doesn’t make it any easier.”
She lifted her head and reached for the black velvet bag tied to her belt. Tommy knew there were times when that bag went empty for days and days. He knew there were times when she could manage dealing with the contents without him. But some nights were just harder than others. It wasn’t always about how many the bag contained, sometimes it was only a few, sometimes it was a lot. Either way, it was daunting and unavoidable. It was part of her job and part of his penance.
He poured them both shots as she set the little bag on the bar. They looked at each other for a moment and then picked up their glasses, tossed back the whiskey and steeled themselves for the task ahead.
She opened the bag and poured out fifteen tiny little teeth.
They stared at them for a moment and then Tommy put them in a straight line in front of them. Slowly the Fairy reached her hand out and touched the first tooth.
Screaming exploded throughout the bar. A child. Screaming.
“NOOOOOOOO, PLEASE NOOOOOO, STOP, NOOOOOOOOO”
The Fairy quickly drew back her hand and there was blessed silence. Tommy picked up that tooth and brought it to her lips. Her eyes filled with tears and then she opened her mouth and he dropped the little tooth in. She quickly closed her mouth and swallowed the screaming down.
Silence again. Tommy poured them another shot, hands shaking.
She lifted the glass to him, her hands shaking as well, “The first one is always hard.”
He lifted his as well, “The only ones harder are all the rest.” They drank the whiskey and got on with it.
They sat side by side as screams of children in pain and despair and terror filled the bar in short bursts, followed by the muffled sounds of sin being eaten. By the time they had finished tears were pouring down their faces and their hands shook so hard they could barely get the shot glasses to their lips without spilling.
Tommy scrubbed his face with his hands and calmed down, taking deep breaths. He pulled the Fairy into a tight hug, arms carefully wrapped under her wings, she clutched at him and sobbed. They couldn’t rid the world of cruelty or despair but they could witness it, and fight it when they could. Part of what she tried to leave under those pillows was hope. Hope for it to get better or even just hope to survive it and get away. Sometimes she left every last little bit she had which Tommy suddenly realized was why she had to come to him. He poured every ounce of comfort and healing into that hug, so much so that they both began to glow with a soft golden light.
Soon she calmed, breathing deeply. She pulled back and smiled sadly, “Thank you.” He picked up some bar napkins and gently wiped the tears from her face. She placed her hand on his cheek, “I don’t know what any of us would do without you Tommy.”
His mouth crooked up on one side, “Even unforgivable mistakes can be put to good use if one is willing to make amends.” She kissed him on the cheek and they both stood. She tied the now empty bag back onto her belt and he walked her to the door. They hugged one last time and she stepped out into the dawn, renewed.
The jukebox lit up and the ringing guitars of “These Are Days” faded up. Tommy grinned at it, “Yeah, yeah…I get it, enough already.” Then he turned off the lights and headed for the stairs up to his living quarters.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 10/31 at 03:04 PM
Monday, October 29, 2012
I haven’t posted over here in 9/11...that is redix! I’ve been posting regularly over at Sweet Banana Ink which is cool but sheesh...this here blog is all dusty and echoy with loneliness. There’s been lots of writing going on which is good. I have two projects that I’m working on right now, sort of going back and forth between them. Due to the encouragement of Kate Danley and others I think at least one of them I will try to self publish on Amazon once I get it pulled together. Anyway...just wanted to post here because DANG I’ve been absent in a big big way.
Sorry about that.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 10/29 at 03:52 PM
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.” Ophelia - Hamlet
Let us remember and be thoughtful today, for today is a day heavy with both
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 09/11 at 10:09 AM
Monday, August 20, 2012
Doubt and Encouragement
Today I’m thinking on the experience of doubt and encouragement. I think anyone who creates anything will experience doubt at some time in some form. I think it’s a feeling that is common among people in general. It’s one of those feelings that can motivate or paralyze. It can drive one to ask questions, seek feedback, delve deeper and continue to work on a piece of writing rather than just letting it sit surrounded by doubt. But for me it is most often paralyzing.
The following are some of my writing doubts:
I doubt I have anything of value to say.
I doubt I have any skill with words.
I doubt that anything good I write is a result of skill.
I doubt that if I do write something good that I will ever be able to do it again.
Those last two are real killers. They live in the deep belief that anything good I produce is pure happenstance and luck. That is strangely debilitating. It often translates into paralysis when I get any good feedback. Now I’ve been dealing with this a lot in the last few years and I’ve realized that this is something that has dogged me my whole life. My rather unconscious solution has been to leave everything to the last minute so that regardless of whether the outcome is good or bad or mediocre I can always retreat into “well I just dashed that off at the last minute” as though I don’t really care about it. This is why my school work was often so disappointing to most of my teachers. Now as I’ve said, I’ve done some fairly deep work on this issue and the discoveries have been interesting and even shocking at times.
One of the biggest discoveries is how deeply I fear being good at something or succeeding. It’s so counter-intuitive to fear success, though I know it’s not uncommon. Writing has brought me face to face with this fear more intimately than anything I have ever done before in my life. It has also brought me face to face with how community and encouragement affect that fear.
A few years back I started a writers group with two friends who each had specific projects they were trying to get finished. We met every Monday night for over a year and the impact of that group was nothing short of life altering for me. I had written the first script for a six book comic series that two friends had asked me to write. I had never written a comic book. I didn’t, and still don’t, read that many comics. They loved the first script. LOVED IT. So nice to hear that, ...and then I didn’t write a word for three months. I was caught in that doubt and fear that it was all a fluke and I’d never be able to do anything they liked again.
So the writers group was an attempt to battle that doubt and fear, a tool to just let go of the expectations, good or bad, and just write the next bit. It worked. It helped me to focus on the work and not on how the work might or might not be received. The encouragement to simply do the work was so powerful. I remember one friend in the group said “Just get the words down so you can get to the fun part which is making the words and story work the way you want it to work. Until you get them down you have nothing to play with.”
I am still struggling with this but more gets written now than ever before. I keep trying to place myself among writers so that I will stay focused on just getting the words down. I am currently working on a story that started as a piece of flash fiction and an online friend of mine from a readers group fell in love with it. Her encouragement and excitement has affected me so differently than ever before in my creative life. Little by little I’m starting to believe that it’s not really a fluke if I write something that someone likes, it’s a result of getting the words down first and caring enough to try and make them good words that tell a worthwhile story. While that still sometimes feels dangerous I’ve decided it’s worth the risk and staying firmly planted in a creative community helps me to take that risk.
I’d love to know if, and how, doubt and encouragement affect you and your writing process?
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 08/20 at 08:58 AM
Essay - Non Fiction
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Razor Girl - Things Unknown
If this appears in the finished story it will be very near the end after all the big action.
Miri pushed the hospital door open quietly even though she knew Lucy was still unconscious. She stopped just inside the door not making a sound. Gregory, the owner of The Black Cat was sitting next to Lucy’s bed holding her hand and speaking softly. Miri frowned trying to remember if Greg and Lucy had been close. She could just make out what he was saying.
“Luce you gotta wake up baby. Who knows what might happen if you aren’t around to keep me in line. Who’s gonna yell at me for making the girls’ shifts too long if you just keep sleeping here in this bed? You know I’ll just run amok and...” his whispering voice cracked at the tears started down his face. “Lucy I don’t care what you are or what you aren’t…just so long as you wake up. I just need you to be here.”
Miri silently opened the door and backed out of the room. She leaned against the wall across from the door and waited. Ten minutes later Greg came out. His eyes were red and his face was etched with weariness and worry.
“You’ve been paying the hospital bills.” Miri said as she crossed the hall to him.
He shrugged, “Yeah.”
Miri smiled sadly, “She doesn’t know does she?”
He shook his head, “And she doesn’t need to, she needs you and Sam and Selena.”
Miri put her hand on his arm, “Greg…”
“No Miri, when she wakes up, and she will wake up, it’s all gonna crash down on her. Not just Gabriel and Nell but the Council and the pack too. Her whole world is gonna be upside down. She needs her family, her real family and that’s you. I’m just the smartass who keeps her favorite whiskey behind the bar and makes her laugh now and then. That’s good enough for now.”
Miri gave him a tight smile, he kissed her lightly on the cheek and left.
Posted by Miss Bliss
on 08/05 at 11:38 AM