A Shelf Full of Paper

We had a shelf full of paper, my sister and I.
It lingered patiently by on a rickety bed
of chipped particle board and desert dust
(sometimes spider corpses and gnat wings),
loyal and silent. Mom had her secret stash
of tic-tacs and twenty-dollar bills, but I had paper.

My bare feet would cross the brown calico carpet
in search of missing doll shoes, favorite books,
little plastic treasures. A mermaid night gown
stretched across my knees like a second skin
as I sat on the floor to inspect my prize. But
eventually my fingers' stomachs would growl.

Makeshift tables out of dictionaries, pens
vacationing from check signings and grocery
lists - I'd gather my tools and set them ordered
on the floor like little calm soldiers. Scanning
my shelf, I'd listen for the stack that whined
the loudest. Blank surfaces begged for a face.

Hours bled dry to the scratch of lead and healing
erasers. Fingers grew long, stacks grew shorter
until my shelf held only the gnat-wing freckled dust
and the occasional spider corpse that, without paper,
frightened me. As time passed, I learned to hide them with
clocks, hand mirrors, and chapter books with no pictures.

These days I still savor the touch of a smooth, thin surface,
but suppress urges that turn dictionaries into tables. All that
remains is the soft, gentle whine of a paper receipt as it tucks
away behind my stash of tic-tacs and twenty-dollar bills.


Some days I am sure that
the branches in my heart
are but arms reaching
            out, furthering
their fragile, reddened grasp
to wrap around another’s.

They know my heart beats
better when I’m around you.
Stronger, somehow; filled
with blood and purpose,
the second of which is sure
to make the first flow sweeter.

Some take exercise.
Others, pills.
I get by with a breath of
prayer and a body filled
with furthering branches.

Who knew that a girl like me—
five foot two, and hardly a reach,
could house enough branches
to stretch out,
                           out, far past
the whining crabbing ships
and furrowing ocean brows

                       to reach you.

Job Hunting

Five Random Facts About My Kitchen

1. One of my earliest memories is playing with a rubber centipede on the kitchen floor. I tossed it (trying to get the cat to do it's catly duties and chase it), but when I went to pick it up, it crawled under the stove. Yes, that's right...a real, live, gigantic centipede had been chillin' next to my fake one.

2. My Mom forgot about hot dogs cooking on the stove during a garage sale when I was about seven. We had no idea why the fire department pulled up to our yard until they opened our door and we saw smoke wafting out like it was Lucille Ball's dressing room. I personally thought they might have been interested in purchasing my old tea set.

3. Grandma invited the fire department over for yet another adventure when she forgot about bread left in the toaster oven. This resulted in more smoke, more firefighters, and a sign taped to the toaster oven that reads "OFF LIMITS TO MARIE!"

4. I learned today that it's unwise to run the microwave and the toaster oven at the same time. Apparently, our appliances are so powerful and futuristic that they'll throw a measly ol' 2009 circuit breaker and cause the entire kitchen to lose power.

5. I make my food there.

17-year-old Laura...

She was complicated.


Special thanks to my guest model, Lauren!

Qualms for the Poor

I just finished filling out a job application to a local art supply store. I've always thought working at this place would be fun, considering I'd get to smell the potpourri all day and play with fake fruit (those grapes look so GOOD!) in between some actual work-doing. But now that I know how intense the application process for this place is, let's just say I definitely hold much more respect for the current employees.

Not that every other application I've filled out so far hasn't been in-depth or time consuming. I don't know how many time's I've had to enter social security numbers or old employer phone numbers or answer questions concerning violent and irresponsible behavior. But this application...this was just different.

The initial process was fine. I entered my name, address, contact information, filled in tedious amounts of backround employment information, privately sifted through entertaining memories of said employment. But then, completely out of nowhere, I had to complete a timed 10-minute logic and math test.

 Math and Logic.

Suddenly a job requiring the ability to arrange flowers and know the difference between 2B and an HB pencils was asking me complex fraction/decimal math problems. Word associations were also thrown in the mix, like "Qualm is to Trepedation as _____ is to _____."

I suppose I can see why they would want to do this. I mean, of course you wouldn't want to hire someone that has no idea how to do basic things, like...say...count change, alphabatize files, or know what the relationship between "Qualm" and "Trepedation" is.

So after freaking out about getting as many answers shoved down the computer's throat in the span of ten minutes as I could (hey, just because I'm not great at math doesn't mean I can't stock yarn and modeling clay!), I took a deep breath and calmly proceeded to the next section.

Pretty much every job application in America has some sort of section involving personality traits or tendencies that give the employer 'insight' into your mentality. It's always hard to tell where they're getting at with some of these questions, or even if they take them seriously. If you answer all of them with the obvious best choice, do they think you're a liar, or just a control freak? If you answer some of them negatively (or just plain honestly), will they appreciate your openness, or will they think you're too unstable for employment?

Because of these questions running through every job hunter's head, you tend to be a little less specific with your answers in order to give the employer what you think they want to hear. ("Sell yourself!" As they always said in high school.) I took a screen shot to show you just what I mean.

And hey, before you judge my answers, I promise you I had perfectly legitimate reasons for answering the way that I did! (Look at me, always the self-conscious one.)

To see the full-res pictures, click on the links above the photos (In case blogger's dont work).

Yeah, humans are too complicated to be able to answer such loaded questions with "Agree" or "Disagree", don't you think?
Oh, and this question pretty much made my day. It didn't inspire much hope for what they expect out of their employees:
Qualm is to Trepedation as Blank is to...oh, wait, how old am I again?

Wake Up Call: an Identity Crisis

10:30 am this morning:

Ring, Ring! (That's suppose to be my cell phone. It doesn't actually "ring", it has a ringtone...but I don't really know how to demonstrate that in text form. So yeah, my phone will ring in this case.) Ring, Ring!

Me: "Hello?"  
Caller: "Hey." 
Me: "Hey...what's up?" 
Caller: "Did I wake you up? You sound, like...groggy or somethin'." 
Me: "Oh, yeah. I'm still on New Zealand time. But it's fine, seriously." 
Caller: *silence* "Ah, right. Well, my mom kicked me out." 
Me: "What? Are you serious?" 
Caller: "Yeah." 
Me: "I thought you lived with your dad..." 
Caller: "Yeah, but he kicked me out before this." 
Me: "But you're still living up here?" 
Caller: "Yeah..." 
Me: "I thought your mom lived down in San Diego!" 
Caller: "What?" 
Me: "Your mom...I thought she lived in San Diego. Remember when I picked you up there?" 
Caller: *silence* "Um...who is this?" 
Me: "Who is this..." 
Caller: "Shawn. Is this Valerie?" 
Me: "No..." 
Caller: "Oh. Bye." 

I guess carrying a two-minute long conversation with a complete stranger under false pretenses wouldn't exactly be a regular occurrence, but when that stranger has the exact same voice as an old friend you talked to the day before (for the first time in almost a year), it can definitely happen.

But I feel kind of rejected, to be honest, being hung up on like that after he just shared something so personal with me. Do you think I became attached too quickly?

What throws me off is that the "New Zealand time" comment didn't give him any earlier clues...