The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Search results: "your name again" (page 1 of 14)

“What’s Your Name, Again?” By Kimberly Saunders

 

 

In college I was known for wearing thrift store jeans and over-sized tee shirts. I smothered my insecurity in loose-fitting clothes and obvious sarcasm. Those around me, the few I tolerated, interpreted my indifference as attitude. However, they didn’t realize I suffered from a rare medical condition known as Resting Bitch Face, a disease described by unaccredited websites as a chronic expression of anger or disgust, which apparently made me unapproachable. While most who struggle with this affliction constantly reassure the public that it is just an uncontrollable feature of their personality, mine was a blessing. I was perfectly content being left alone. Well, not completely alone.  

In fact, most of my post-pubescent existence was lacking a certain ceremonial rite of passage: having a boyfriend. I’d had one or two informal flings in my early teens, but I regretfully graduated high school with my virginity hanging over me like a Vegas marquee. I looked forward to college as an opportunity to find that life-altering love affair, or at least someone to fondle until the former arrived. Continue reading

Book Review: Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life by Radha Agrawal

Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life by Radha AgrawalReview by Tess Tabak

A quick yes or no question: Does someone calling themselves a “community architect” make you want to punch things?

If yes, this is not the book for you.

Before anyone accuses me of being cynical, let me say that I wanted to like this book. I actually enjoy reading self help / new agey stuff. But I want them to either tell me something I didn’t know, or at least tell me something I did know in a new way. Most of the information in Radha Agrawal’s Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life is fairly common knowledge (don’t we all know by now that Facebook is not a substitute for in-person contact?). The exercises feel half-assed – at one point she says, “If you need ideas, Google it.” The amount of doodles and blank journal pages in the book make me think that Agrawal came up about 25% short on the page count, and they went with filler instead of more content.

Worse than that, Agrawal clearly has never experienced, and does not have a deep understanding of, what it truly means to feel alone and friendless. Good for her, but reading this book from such a state is akin to a guide on the Heimlich maneuver that begins, “First, take a deep breath.” What is someone truly friendless supposed to do with advice like “make sure you get 5 hugs a day”? Continue reading

“By the End of this Conversation, I Will Have Invited Myself to Your House,” by Richard Hartshorn

Jordan

I still have the same sex fantasy about my dead friend that I had when she was alive.  I try not to let it happen often, but when it does, she’s still super into it – toenails red, shaved here and there, happy to play in my old bedroom at my parents’ house.  Before we remove ourselves from each other, we talk about what an awesome idea this was.  We giggle and stuff. Our bodies are the bodies we had in twelfth grade – lithe and tireless.  She glistens with a soft, damp sheen.  The lights are all on.  She doesn’t care that I’m not part of the cool group she usually hangs out with.  None of it makes much sense.

Sometimes, when I’m done fantasizing, I apologize out loud.

I never make it past the sex part, but if the fantasy comes into my head when I’m doing other stuff and not horny enough to bother, I imagine that there’s no cleanup involved; she just pulls her jeans on and raids my parents’ fridge.  Maybe we watch cartoons in the living room.  The scene outside the window is gray and featureless.  I have no idea where my parents are.  

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“What’s in a Name?” by Tim Eberle

It has been said that art represents humanity’s collective attempt to reconcile its own existence against an otherwise cold and uncaring universe. To strip away artifice, to obliterate pretense — to provide a context through which we may hope to define, at its core, exactly what it means to be a person. Which explains why art is so often heartbreakingly, unyieldingly, sad. Because, loath as we may be to admit it (and despite all of our attempts to the contrary), ours is a conclusively lonely existence — one fraught with sorrow, doubt, and, ultimately, disillusionment. That’s the torment heard in Juliet’s deathbed soliloquy, the longing behind the chords of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” the anguished panic pulsating through Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” And that’s the reason why, every Spring, I make sure to stock up on extra-soft, triple-ply, Kleenex-brand tissues in anticipation of the season’s most gut-wrenchingly devastating artistic offering: the premier episode of the ABC network’s hit reality television series “The Bachelorette.”

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“Still Dancing (behind the glass)” a memoir excerpt by Katherine Davis

At the time of my bone marrow transplant for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, without retrospect’s safety net, morning came. I remember the scent of bagels from a biscuit shop across the street from the hospital. Sprinklers doused flower beds of marigolds, daffodils, daisies. I walked with my mother and sister to Swedish Hospital on Pill Hill in Seattle, entered, heard the elevator doors closing, sealing me off from the world of people worried about getting to work, kids scrambling for buses, sunlight amid trees. I did feel lucky that the official Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center inpatient facility didn’t have room for me. Devoted only to transplant patients, it seemed a dark forbidding place. Death, a gentleman in top hat and overcoat, held the door for families who walked in and didn’t leave. Instead, I would be committed to Eleven South West, a wing of the huge Swedish Hospital which the Hutch used for overflowing cancer cases. I much preferred being in a place called “Swedish” which conjured images of vigorous blond women, meatballs, and massages. Also, I liked it because it seemed more normal—white and sterile, instead of sinister and shadowy—and teeming with diversity. I may have been preparing for a torturous exit, but in the same facility, there were babies being born, tonsillectomies, broken arms, concussions, heart attacks. I didn’t want to be surrounded only by people like me. In Swedish, there were different dramas taking place, more like living than death. 

Despite having visions of nineteenth-century asylums, I entered my laminar airflow room on 11 SW in April 1986 with relief and terror. It certainly was not the torture pit of my nightmares. But it was horrifying in its anonymity. Welcome to the institution, baby! There was one hospital bed in front of a wall chock full of mysterious equipment—suction tubes, pumps, monitors, gauges, plugs. There were two chairs covered in blue vinyl, a television, stationary bicycle, clothes cupboard, and tray on wheels. From the hospital corridor, you entered a small room, a vestibule where you anointed yourself before seeing me. Okay, you actually scrubbed your hands with antiseptic soap and put on a surgical mask to protect me from germs. During my pre-transplant chemotherapy, you also had to don shoe covers, gown, and paper cap. It was actually fun after a while to watch the doctors go through all this just to see me, made me feel like royalty instead of a usual denizen of purgatory. Once dressed and cleansed, you could pass through a second very solid door, making sure the door to the general corridor was closed first, letting no germs in. The bathroom and wall with television were to your left, the bed to your right. Opposite the door, a huge window with triple-paned glass looked down on a magnificent view of St. James Cathedral. In the distance, there was Puget Sound. If this had been a hotel, I would have been very impressed. The triple-paned glass on the window was to ensure no breeze permeated my atmosphere; I was to live on rarified air pumped in through special vents. At the time, I also thought the extra panes discouraged despairing patients from jumping—momentary flight, then nothingness. 

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“eBay Violin” by Yongsoo Park

Because even his mid-life crisis takes only frugal turns and it would never occur to him to pay extra for shipping, the violin arrives just when he forgets about it. The mailman doesn’t even bother to bring it to the door but leaves it instead with a perfunctory wave just inside the periphery of his front yard.

He has to dig it out from among the ferns and brings it inside while his children and a boy from next door are playing under the canopy of a giant pine tree, which some of his neighbors have been passive-aggressively nudging him to do something about lest it keel over and cause god-knows-what damage. But such are concerns of grown-ups with too much time on their hands. The children are engrossed in their game and don’t even ask him about his strange-shaped parcel.

The last time he touched a violin was when TVs still came with adjustable antennas and telephones had rotary dials. He doesn’t remember what that violin, with which he took lessons with a self-proclaimed maestro named Mr. Kreutzer for five years, cost, but his eBay violin cost just 38 dollars, including shipping. It’s a frightening sum considering that it traveled to his home all the way from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

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“Targets,” an essay by Kay Smith-Blum

Who breaks their arm planting bulbs? Well, technically, I was retrieving bulbs, from a box on the other side of the low-rise-industrial-wire fence they put up around small urban gardens at street level to keep out the dogs that don’t keep out the dogs. Why build a fence just high enough for me to trip over? This question begets an annoying answer. The kind of answer that targets you, relentless as the sunrise. Most wouldn’t trip over it. The fact that I did is a visceral confirmation of aging, a steady and sure march to death, bringing with it the accidents of youth.

The virus is also on the march and the Governor has closed my pool eliminating the aquatic option to recovering my range of motion. So, here I am—albeit four staggeringly painful and miraculous-in-the-fact-my-bone-healed-at-my-age months later—in physical therapy, a risk of a different kind. 

Kim, my physical therapist, announced on Tuesday I should have worn a mask. They had sent an email. One I deleted before reading as I do most irritatingly-perky missives that fill up my inbox with random products, services or advice on healthy choices I thought I wanted to make. In the wake of the virus, I’ve decided I’m healthy enough for someone who may die soon and has long planned on dying at year seventy-five. Which is the perfect age to do so, and I could tell you why but I won’t digress.

On Thursday, I arrive orange bandana-bound. I insert my disinfected credit card for the co-pay. I Purell my hands and look right. A talkative young man, without a mask, seated on the banquette adjoining the front counter, his body twisted toward the receptionist, is chattering non-stop. His way-too-low pant waist is way-too-revealing. He twists again, his white fleshy cheeks pressing against the rust vinyl cushion in cringe worthy fashion. This can’t be the hygienic standard to which they aim.

The machine buzzes. I extract my card and whisper. “He needs to pull up his pants.”   Continue reading

“The Pelican,” a short story by Tom Gartner

Ever since I was small, I’ve always imagined myself somewhere else when I go to sleep.  Someplace outdoors, usually, someplace wild, a rainforest or a mountainside or an island off a rocky coast.  I’ll be traveling, escaping something maybe, and I’ll have found or made some kind of shelter.  Rain or snow or wind will be battering it, but I’ll be warm and protected.  

Of course, I knew when I ran away from home that it wouldn’t be like that, and it wasn’t.  I slept in a tent pitched under a leaning redwood stump in a canyon north of Mendocino, less than twenty-five miles from home.  It was summer, so there was no snow or rain, but every morning and most afternoons there was cold fog that couldn’t be kept out.  My feet felt like blocks of wood.  Banana slugs clung to the outside of the tent.  Spiders found their way into my sleeping bag.  I was living on apple juice, peanut butter, and raisin bread.

I spent too much time thinking.  About my mother’s suicide, about who should or shouldn’t have done or said what, about how it played out in parallel universes.  We’d all seen it coming, my father and my brother and I.  She’d been depressed, delusional, obsessive for years.  But (as I saw it that summer, anyhow) I was the only one who felt guilty about it, who thought there was something more we could have done.  My father seemed fatalistic about it, my brother downright nonchalant.  That was what had driven me out of the house, that one last feeble protest I felt I had to make. Continue reading

Spring 2020 Contest WINNER: “We Regret to Report an Anomaly” by Joanna Grant

We Regret to Report an Anomaly

 

Kandahar Airfield, January, 2013

You know, it had not been the best day of my life, that day back in the early spring of the year before when my mother had posted on my public Facebook wall that “your doctor’s office called and said your cholesterol is too high and they’ve written you a prescription for Lipitor.”  

“Mom, you can write those kind of private things in a private message,” I reminded her in a text. 

Gawd, cholesterol, I grumbled to myself, ripping open the box of mail my mother had forwarded to me there at my new Ed Center in Kandahar, Afghanistan. What could be worse?

This could. This letter from my doctor, the one I’d self-addressed to my Georgia address without giving it a second thought. It went a little something like this:

“We regret to inform patient ****** ***** (my name handwritten in the form letter blank) that her recent mammogram has come back abnormal. We regret to report an anomaly and we recommend that she follow up as soon as possible with her primary care provider and/or any recommended specialists.” I read it again, and again, and then again. Anomaly. Specialist. 

And then I refolded the form letter, put it back in its envelope, and laid it flat on my desk, my own breezy handwriting looking back at me.  Continue reading

Spring 2020 Contest Finalist: “The Hobo Queen” by C. Christine Fair

Trigger warning: child abuse, sexual assault and violence

 

Sketch by C. Christine Fair“Cuz Christy, if you ever show up around here, I’m gonna kick your ass. And you know I can”; her heavy emphasis upon “know” reflected her conviction that she had done so previously.

Struggling to appease her fury, I conceded “Baby Sandy. You can kick my ass. But I’m still a pretty good runner and I’m not sure you’d catch me. We’re both old women now.”

“Oh, I’d catch you alright and knock that fuckin’ useless head off your shoulders,” Sandy snarled.

“But why? I’ve just been trying to help. What did I do? I love you. Always have. Always will. I worry about you every day and night. I wonder where you’re sleeping and eating. Are you safe, happy? The questions keep coming. But I get no answers. Ever.”

Without hesitating, Sandy barked “Because you left. You fucking left us here.”

The worst part about this allegation? 

It was true. 

And I’d do it again. Continue reading

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