androgenic alopecia

Vignette…Betrayal, KC Novella Chronicle

27 May 2010

Layla stormed ahead of me into the house, slamming the door behind herself, forgetting in her tantrum that I was just a moment in her wake.  The door would’ve banged hard against my face with an explosive strike had I not reached my hand out in time to stop it.   The momentum she threw into it found another circuit, my arm of course, sending a jolt of pain that spiraled its way up my neck, catching the pinched nerve that cramped my herniated disk.  Bitch.  That one really hurt.

I know that relationships can be hard, which is why I kept my judgements in check.  Not to mention, even if by all rights I criticize her, it always comes back to me in the worst way.  I take a deep breath and steady my anger, careful not to throw the lighted match to the puddle of diesel fuel.  She didn’t slam the door at me.  In spirit, she slammed it at that jerk Tommy Skade.  She was imagining the wooden door busting hard and fracturing against his smug face.  She was rightfully pissed, especially after what he did to her earlier this evening.  Seriously, he is a repeat offender.  When will she ever be done with him?  She was so used to his constant disappointments that she no longer cried.  Her tears, like molten lava erupting from deep beneath the earth’s crust, hardened like volcanic resin.  So instead of crying, she got angry.  On the upside, I saw it as progress.

The night started off promising enough.  Layla and I met up with Marlene and Dorna to watch FourPlay (if you can believe the name) perform at Rottweilers in downtown Elmont.  The line was long, snaking its way around Church Hill Road.  Fortunately, Layla knew Merill, the bouncer who’d been tending the door.   He took one look at her platinum red, fire engine hair, recognized the long-legged girl he’d been crushing on since last summer and nodded her in, the gesture instantly accomodating the rest of us into the invite.  Her beauty was like a VIP boarding pass, giving her free admission wherever she made an appearance. 

Standing ahead of us in line were eight people who, from what I’d gathered, had been waiting to get into the pub for at least twelve minutes prior to our arrival.   But Merill knew Layla, was utterly besotted with her, and like all fools who throw caution to the wind when love pollutes their judgment like an oil spill in the Gulf, didn’t care for the gripes they hurled at him when he let her pass through.  It lasted only briefly.  Merill was 180 pounds of Gold’s Gym and Whey Protein, with a bull-dog face to match, the ugliness suiting him handily in his line of duty.  No one wanted to risk angering him too much, so the insults traded were kept to a minimum, just enough to make their point.  They complained within their rights, but stopped just short of pissing him off.  Layla walked by them with an air of confidence, secure by the watch of Merrill’s guard and grinning with depraved humor as the women she passed hissed and bared their canines like jealous felines.

That was early on in the night; when the evening was in sharper focus and full of promise.  It always is in that first half-hour on a Friday or Saturday night, take your pick: when you’re freshly dressed in your sassy-ist attire (whatever in your wardrobe gives you the guts of confidence), perfumed spritzed, and strutting the cat walk of aplomb that only the spike of a three inch heel Manolo can deliver.  

The vibe followed us from The Crossing all the way to the bar in Rottweillers.  We’d taken our first salutory sip of our Martinis, the buzz effect whirling our minds when Tommy came in on the scene.  I was the first one to spot him, and like the good friend I am, pretended not to see him.  In my aim to find my own crush (another story altogether), my gaze landed on Tommy by accident.  It always seems to happen that way, doesn’t it?  The ones you want are never around, but the ones you try to avoid never seem to leave your radar.  Somehow, Tommy navigated by use of his own sonar, because he managed to spot us.  And he always brought trouble with him, along with several accomplices to carry out the undertaking.  From across the room, he’d spotted me, and with his sly, trademark tilt of the head that he mistook for sexy, grinned cunningly at me with a smart wink.  Code for hey cookie, tell Layla I’m here. 

My eyes darted away, retrieving another, more distant object in the room to gaze at before I slowly pirouetted around.   Selfish as it seemed, I wanted her to myself tonight.  I didn’t want to deal with the intrusion of male company, especially not his, which, I do realize, defeats the purpose of going out at all.  I mean, part of the whole gambit is the social interaction dancing between the two sexes, which is why women spend hours getting ready.  Yet interestingly enough, once I’m out there, I find myself in swat mode, spraying on the attitude like an insect repellent to keep the guys from biting.

We were hanging out, enjoying ourselves, when the cool, circumspect greeting of “Hey, Layla” sounded off from behind.

Tommy, bringing along his posse of friends.

Dorna, Marlene and I looked uneasily at each other, each of us awash with a cold apprehension as Layla, ravished by his presence and smiling widely with unabashed pleasure at seeing him, gathered him in the welcoming fold her arms.  Tommy, realizing the rest of the female pact was more discerning and feeling the arctic chill draft his way, regarded each of us with a tight-lipped smile that bordered on humility.  Eventually, Layla pulled Tommy aside, much to his satisfaction at having usurped me, and went to work on her.  As usual, and in his bidding to deploy his envoys, he left behind two of his friends who introduced themselves as Ernie and Al, neither of which had anything interesting to say other than to warn Marlene not to get citronella up her nose when she used the nearby mosquito-repellant candle to light her cigarette.  Smoking was something she did on social occasions, though Marlene was never avid in pursuing the habit outside the scene.  

Ten minutes later and still, no Layla. Followed by an even longer period of about twenty.  I looked up and around Rottweilers, crowded to the hilt, finding no sign of her or Tommy.  I darted my attention between Ernie, whose rambling of mucus congestion from a bout of bronchitis he just kicked, has tranquilized me quicker than an overdose of Tylenol PM, to a futile scan of facial recognition for her in a crowd of over two hundred people.  Forty minutes later and Layla is still MIA.  Whenever she’s alone with him for any length of time, it never ends well.  Naturally, I worry, since her dilemmas become an inevitable part of my problem. 

At which point I interrupt Ernie with an “excuse us”, taking both Dorna and Marlene by the hand and leading them to the doorway. 

“I think they left,”  I announced, setting a new purpose to mind, “let’s go look for her.”  No one argues to the immediate plan of action.  We head past Merrill and out onto the sidewalk where the line of patrons (convinced that Rottweilers is the only game in town) has since stiffened and stretched up and around the curve of Church Hill Road.

“Where do you think she is?”  Dorna asked, clapping her heels loud against the pavement in similar dedication to find her.

No need for an answer.  Like a mother on instinct, I rounded the corner, heading with determined purpose to the Auto Repair Shop parking lot where Bikers park their Harleys on weekends after hours.  Sure enough, there was Layla.  And Tommy. 

And Serena.  Dear Lord, did she have to be here tonight?  Tommy’s on-again, off-again girlfriend.  It’s never good when she makes an appearance.  I wonder where and when she came into the picture tonight.  Apparently, somewhere in between the time from when they parted ways in Rottweillers to this moment. 

Layla’s eyes are bloodshot red, her chest heaving as she struggled to control her temper between each round of slur she pummelled at him.  Every colorful, adverb of insult pointing to the most conspicuous explanation of what had transpired in our absence.   

“You bastard!”

“You prick!”  The p shooting spittle from her lips.

“Liar! Cheat!”

Marlene stepped forward, using the same courage as one would an untamed tiger still in training, and took hold of her flying wrist.  The one she was about to level hard across his face.  Dorna and I stood close on cue, allowing her to empty her final round of ammo before my soothing voice of, “Let’s go Layla,” brings her back to reason.

Not even ten minutes pass, and we are piled in Marlene’s car.  I am sitting in the back with Layla, my lap pillowing her head, whereupon collapsing into tears once again, she’d since sprawled across the back seat.  Dorna and Marlene take the bow of the ship and are seated in the front: Marlene at the wheel, tasked to bring us home, leaving me to manually labor to Layla.  Dorna glanced over her shoulder every twelve seconds, unnerved by Layla’s vehement reaction, uncertain how to initiate the proper response in this crisis. 

Her grievance only escalated by the time we reach the Crossing.  Fresh tears continue to spill forth -two hours worth from when Marlene dropped us off.  We were both sitting cross-legged on her bedroom floor, leaning up against her bed, a scattering of sodden Kleenex tissues collecting on her carpeted floor.  She leveled herself with a deep breath that seemed to assuage her misery before plunking her head on my lap again, grabbing a throw pillow from atop the bed and using it to cushion her head.   

There was a soft, patter of knocking on the bedroom door to the strokes of my finger tips on Layla’s scalp.  The kind of knock that feels awkward in making its intrusion.

The door tentatively opened.  Alfred.  Layla’s older brother stepped forward.  One of the many benefits of being Layla’s best friend. Being the genteman that he is, he stops short of entering, choosing instead to stand within the door frame.  He is visually appealing, so evocatively attractive you could develop an instant crush by just one glance.  The kind that could lead to an obsession if you’re not careful, or a heartbreak if you’re not his type and disillusioned enough to think he might still consider you.  Every time I looked at him, my thoughts wandered in a scandalous detour down ‘fantasy’ lane.  Dorna once admitted to this tendency as well.  The imagery becomes so vivid, you feel ‘caught’ when he looks right back at you.  Depending on what, exactly, you were thinking when he cut a look your way.

He is a parallel rendition to his sister.  Each of them was blessed with a generous portion of beauty bequeathed upon them through their geneology, neither one of them more genetically favored over the other, as mother nature tends to do so often to siblings on cruel occasions.  This time, she doled an equal portion, making both brother and sister exquisitely and equally comely, yet not without allotting the curse of being envied and admired, rivaled and supported by peers and foes alike. 

Tonight his light hair altered his irises to a shade of jade, the Tiffany lamp on her bureau coloring them to an amethyst.

“Is she okay?” he asked, his sympathy of emotion on his sister, his eyes pinned to me.

Oh Alfred, with you in my backyard, why look elsewhere?

“Tommy.”  I mouthed.

His brow-line crunched,  “Who?’

“Tommy.”  I said aloud, causing Layla to sob harder and louder at the mention of his name.

After successfully coaching her to calm again, she straightens her posture, and her vision, once crossed-eyed with grief, becomes instantly aligned as she fixes her eyes across the room.

Vignette…Love Eye Blind, KC Novella Chronicle

16 May 2010

Gillian Hale

After selecting the two most favored ones of me in that beaded gown, I took a deep breath, holding it as I clicked upload.  

Then I waited to see what happened.  

In the days that followed, it was flattering to see the level of response generated by those photos.  I felt like a movie star; divine, an icon whose image could only be found between the pages of a magazine.  I now understood why people typically got carried away when drafting their online biographies.  Here was your chance to enhance your image.  Just as people have a tendency to elaborate the details of their experience on their resume, their online profile was no exception to this technological game of social survival.  On a deeper consciousness, it tapped into our primal instinct, that imaginative game of make believe.  As little kids, we did it in our backyard.  As adults, we do it on our resumes and dating profiles.

 I played Charlie’s Angels when I was nine-years old with two of my cousins.  Kelly Garrett was my favorite Angel and the first Private Investigator I always snatched up for myself.  Instantly.  Before anyone else could claim her.  In the world of make-believe, it meant everything.  If you were stuck inhabiting a character you didn’t like or respect, your afternoon for playtime was ruined.  I wanted to be like her; seductively beautiful, yet street-wise, empathetic and perceptive.  Her features, literally, made for an uncanny rendering to that of a department store mannequin.  My cousin always nabbed Jill, likening herself to the vulnerability she displayed, whereas a neighboring friend took Sabrina; the one uninhibited by beauty.  The smart one who always figured things out and who always had to rescue them.  The one least likely to fall victim to any villain’s ploy.  Each of them was beautiful; lovely, valiant daredevils.  Each woman representing qualities we either possessed, wished we had or knew we could never be.  Playing them was the closest we’d ever get to those dreams.

        A surge of excitement rolled through me as I perused through my inbox.  It was the cyberspace equivalent to fan mail.  It was amazing to see how gallant men were when they thought they were in love.  And to think all it took was a pretty picture.  One guy remarked “Damn you’re beautiful!” another exclaimed “I didn’t know women like you still existed.” 

         Then there were the occasional ones who prided themselves on being idiosyncratic. One guy wrote “You’re hot.  Do you have any pets?” at which point he tagged on multiple images of himself with a parakeet on his outstretched arm, the parakeet dominating the photo shoot.  I wasn’t sure who was doing the dating; him or the parakeet. 

        It was obvious they had read my profile.  Their response mirrored my criteria perhaps a little too closely.  They postured themselves to be the very person who fell within the standard of what I’d been searching for.  I made it clear that I was looking for someone who I could take seriously.  Stating that if anyone was going to contact me, they should do so with the best of intentions; if not, they should just move on.  Tired of being played and having men disappear after wasting my time in a deceitful, pomp show of interest, I patently wrote I realize sometimes people are just looking to have fun. But I’m not here to play games.  I’m ready to find someone real. If you’re just looking for someone to have casual fun with, then I’m not the right person for you. It just simply would never work and you need to move on.

        Embarrassingly enough, I later realized how closely it corresponded to Layla’s bitter essay when she took her first stab at writing her own profile.  She sounded ridiculously feminist.  Having remembered this, I signed on to change that one paragraph, only to discover it actually yielded sympathy from my admirers. 

        One player (and I could tell he was a player by the imperious way he modeled for the camera on the beach), took the first stab at making his play.  He was dressed in a wet suit, a boogie board in one hand, the waves breaking against the shore in the background.  He tried to woo me with soap opera theatrics with his words of “I know exactly what you mean. I feel your pain. I’m looking for someone special, too. I’ve been hurt so many times myself.  At last, someone with who I can relate, someone who can understand me.”  I didn’t buy it.  He certainly didn’t appear a broken man.  I try to avoid passing superficial judgments, despise when it’s passed my way, but he really did look like a cad; too indifferent to care about any of the women he left in his wake. 

        Then there were those who refused to take no for an answer.  It was almost as if they had a fixated image of what they were after and that the world hinged on the brink of decay if they couldn’t attain it.  The online dating equivalent to the celebrity stalker. 

       After politely declining one guy’s offer to meet up, he began emailing me relentlessly.  Every day it was something new.  One day it was “You don’t like the way I look, do you?  Is it my greased back hair style? My retro fifties look?  The following day it would be something else “If only you just got to know me.”  Leading up to “What’s wrong with me?”  At first, I tangled myself with trite exchanges, trying to explain myself, soften the blow.  Until I realized that in so doing, I was being dragged further into wasted dialogue.  When his stinging words finally escalated to a mini temper tantrum of “I know what you’re kind is all about.  You’re snobbish, arrogant, and full of yourself, you think you can do better. Well I’ve seen better than you. You’re not all that. I hope you’re happy with whatever pompous, jerk you pick for yourself”, I just ignored him completely.  I didn’t give him the satisfaction of snipping back, which I was quite sure had been the intended objective.  As far as I was concerned, his sharp words were fragments of debris in the wind. 

       After three weeks followed with no luck in finding anyone, I’d finally been contacted by someone whom I reckoned to be the most agreeable of the bunch.   I didn’t find him to be particularly striking at first, but relative to the general populace who’d been banging on my cyber door, he seemed to be the most normal.  There was no pretense, no charade.  He didn’t over extend himself to impress me.  He came across friendly, pleasant enough and easy-going.  He was real, plain and simple.  He lived in Norwalk and after a few exchange of e-mails, we both agreed on the best middle point to meet.  We decided that that place would be Archie Moore’s in Fairfield on Saturday morning.   

        On the day we planned to meet, I decided to dress in my pale blue, wide-leg jeans and wine colored crinkled gauze top.  The one that Jackie disdained as looking like a bib.  Jackie and I didn’t always share the same taste in clothing.  Our ideas of sexy were completely divergent.  While she preferred plunging V-necks, I favored feminine styles that leaned slightly more to the conservative, skimming  several hundred feet of prudish.  Rarely was I ever comfortable venturing into the scabrous or the risqué. 

        It was October and unseasonably warm, so the delicate fabric would still make for comfortable wear even for middle fall.  Besides, the waistband on my jeans had an embroidered stitching that I wanted to showcase.  They went perfectly together.  And the top was the ideal companion to these pants. 

        I finished by sliding into my favorite black boots with the pointed toe and 3-inch heels.  Then I stopped in front of the full length bedroom mirror for one final inspection of my overall look and makeup before leaving to meet with him.  I wasn’t the glitzy model that I posted online, but I trusted that DB8, or so he called himself, would be realistic enough to expect casual wear at the neighborhood bar and restaurant that served Buffalo Wings.

        When I arrived there, I pulled into the first available parking space and waited in my car.  I considered dialing Layla to ask for her advice.  Should I go in and wait?  Should I wait outside until he arrives?  But then decided against making the call.  I wanted to be completely aware of my surroundings when he arrived.  I didn’t want to risk the chance of missing him as he walked by me, headed straight into the restaurant, then wait half an hour with livid annoyance while I remained occupied in conversation, out in the parking lot, chatting away on my cell with my girlfriend.

        In less than ten minutes, I noticed a Mitsubishi Galant steering into the parking lot from off of Route 1.  I knew it was him by the way he vigilantly edged his vehicle down each row of parked cars.  I kept my eyes glued to the rear-view mirror, noticing with a growing distaste that he drove through warily. It was as if he was geared to gun the accelerator if he saw anything short of Medusa twisting across his path.  Eventually, he turned his car down the row to where I was parked.  I braced myself as his car passed mine, his head making an obvious and sudden jerk in my direction.  That motion of the head made me instantly dislike him.  There was something juvenile about that move.  That was a judgmental look, one that left me feeling as if I were on exhibit. 

        I decided it was time to make myself known.  I opened the door and whacked my head against the door frame as I clumsily stepped out.  I was painfully superstitious; latching onto the notion that it signified an omen for what was about to roll out as a date from hell.

        DB8 slowly wheeled into a spot on the other side of the lot to park his car.  He stepped out awkwardly, wearing a navy blue blazer with his white button down shirt tucked into his pants only halfway.  The other half was pulled out and draped sloppily over his trousers.  Everything about him lacked ambition. He walked towards me lethargically, giving me a once over as he drew closer. 

        “You Gillian?” His eyebrows pulled inward in a rather condemnatory look.  His upper lip curled into a demeaning snarl.  Translation: This is it?  This is what I drove all the way down to see?  I was beginning to think that maybe the snapshots of the chiffon gown weren’t such a hot idea.  Maybe Jackie was right after all. Or maybe I should have just worn it here.

        “That’s me.”  I answered cheerfully, determined to set the tone right.  “Are you DB8?”

        “Uh-huh.” 

        It was never a good sign when their reply was sluggish; when they become too lazy to form complete sentences.

        “What does that stand for?” I asked.  He didn’t seem too eager to give it. We started heading towards the main entrance.

        “What does what stand for?” He asked, perhaps a little too acridly, ignoring the obvious reference.

        “The D.”

        “Oh…”  He replied neutrally.  “Darren.” 

        I nodded. “I see.  And the eight?”

        “I was born in August.”   He shot back, as if appropriately annoyed by something I should have figured out.  “The eight represents the eighth month.” 

        It wasn’t entirely obvious to me.  Not to mention not all that creative either.  The eight could have represented anything. And nothing.  The eighth day, the eighth month. When he was eight years old.

        He reached for the door and held it open for me to walk through.  At least he had the bare minimum of manners, though somehow I got the feeling it was going to end there.

        We walked directly to the hosting station to be seated.  The hostess greeted us warmly and reached for the menu rack.  We followed her to one of the booths in the dining area by the window that faced out to Route 1.

         We read our menus in silence for several minutes.  There was a pervasive feeling of discord between us.  I reassured myself that it didn’t have to be this way.  That even if we were not each other’s type, we could still enjoy a nice lunch. 

        I launched tentatively with my opening line. “So your profile said you like scuba diving.” 

         “Uh, yeah.” He trailed.  His eyes stayed rooted to the menu.

        “Where did you learn to go scuba diving?”

        His tone similarly distant.  “Antigua.”            

        “Oh. That’s interesting.” I managed, despite the awkwardness. I thought back to Brandon and Cody’s scuba diving lessons in Long Island Sound when they were nineteen. “I know some people who took lessons in the Northeast.  They say if you can learn up here where the waters are murky, you can learn anywhere.”

        “Really?”  His eyes still grounded to the menu.

        “Yup.” 

        An uncomfortable silence ensued.  The waitress arrived shortly after and asked if we would like anything to drink.  I told her a Coke.  Darren asked for the same and she left us again to our awkward silence.  I considered all the effort I put into my appearance; my outfit, my boots, my hair, and how it was all going wasted on this guy. 

        I stormed through the clumsy silence.  “How long have you been doing online dating?”

        With a labored sigh, he closed the menu, set it to the edge of the table and folded his hands in front of him.  He looked down, wringing them tightly before glancing up to me. 

        “Five years.”  He said.  No surprise there.   

        “I just started doing it recently.” I rattled, falling prey to my self consciousness. “Although my girlfriends have done it off and on through the years.  They tell me the funniest stories.”  I didn’t know why I even mentioned this.  If he didn’t care about me, he certainly was not going to care about my friends.  Ignoring his cues and against my better judgment, I rambled on in a fraught attempt to rescue the void of unease. 

        “Yeah, they meet the most interesting people.”  Then remembering the parasailing incident in Daytona, previously reminded to me by Layla, “Say, you also said you enjoyed parasailing.  Where did you go parasailing?”

        He shrugged.  “Different places.”  He turned to look behind himself, as if anxious to eat and run.

        I continued babbling, the involuntary reaction usually stirred when I was in the company of someone who made me jittery.  He nodded vacantly and shifted around uneasily.  At one point, he stared past me.  The distraction caused me to look over my shoulder to see what he was looking at.  Nothing but a posted sign that pointed to the restrooms.

        Given his lackluster interest in my life, I decided to move onto more practical talk.  “Have you decided on what you want to eat?” I asked.

        His face twitched. “I thought maybe we could share an appetizer.”

        “Well,” I admitted, tempering my patience as I studied the selection of hamburgers on the menu. “I’m kind of hungry.  I’m just going to go with a burger.  You can go with an appetizer.  You don’t have to share it.”  I couldn’t help the sneer that took possession of my voice in that last sentence.

        “Look, I think I should warn you.” He said, looking directly at me for the first time. “If you want to get something, it’s on your own tab.”

        “Excuse me?”

        “No offense, but,” he exhaled with exaggerated relief, “there’s no easy way to say this so I’m just going to say it. You girls don’t realize, but dating gets pretty expensive.  I don’t know about you, but I try to meet with a few girls a week, and it gets costly always having to be the one to foot the bill.”

        His words eventually sank in my ears in a drowning tide of rubbish.  As he explained his position to me, I stopped listening, muffling out his words.  I wasn’t born yesterday.  I knew a cad when I saw one.

        His mouth was moving, but his words were no longer registering.  Something about what a long journey this has been for him, even going so far as to imply his disappointment that I looked nothing like my photo.  I felt my chest getting hotter by the second, my blood pressure rising to a boiling point.  I dressed casually but perfectly feminine, perhaps above average for a first meeting at a hamburger place.  He had the most shocking nerve I ever witnessed on a date.  He could have easily recommended a coffee shop if he felt that painfully conscious about his budget. 

        It was Buzeo all over again. I could already see the fire catching behind Layla’s eyes, her astringent response to this scenario. Her words whizzed through my head like a high-speed train racing dangerously over a railroad overpass.  I knew I would be held accountable for how I responded to this.  When I later relay this story back to my friends, particularly Jackie and Layla, (and no doubt I will) they will look at me squarely in the eye and ask And what did you do? What did you say?  Expecting to hear that I had taken a stand.  For myself and for womankind.  But I will be ashamed to report a feeble Nothing really, what could I say? 

       They will look at me disappointedly and with disdain.  And all the rightful comebacks that should’ve came to me in this hour of indignation will be floating around in my head, torturing me on the drive home and perhaps the rest of my life.   

        The memory of Michael Corleone flickered through my mind in that heady scene in the Godfather where just seconds before, he and Solazzo and the police chief McClusky were in the Italian restaurant sharing a nice dinner over veal.  This is the most pivotal, most momentous scene the movie, including that of Michael’s life.  I knew there was a right moment for me to take a stand on this.  Just as there was for Michael; that one split second where you bolt out of your seat when you’ve realized you’ve had enough. 

        I grabbed my purse and slid to the edge of my seat.  Nothing melodramatic like Michael Corleone leaping out of his chair, but my exit still applied as a stand nonetheless. 

        “Save it for your other dates.” I interrupted him. “You are the worst date I’ve ever had.  And by the way, you have a lot of nerves with your high expectations on a woman’s appearance when you dress like a rag. You’re not so attractive yourself.  No wonder you’ve been at this for five years.”

        “Well next time put a more practical picture.”

        “I was at a wedding, you dimwit.” I retorted, not the least bit phased that he would use this. “How else am I supposed to dress?  Did you honestly think I would show up at a hamburger joint wearing Versace?”  Then I stood up from the table and left the restaurant, leaving him behind, alone, shamefaced and wholly embarrassed.  I passed the waitress on my way out the door, avoiding eye contact (suspecting she oveheard), but still refusing to give anything further away regardless. 

         Shockingly, I felt strangely giddy as I stepped into my car.  I wasn’t about to chastise myself for that photo.  Yes, I should have taken Jackie’s advice, used the one she suggested.  Put out one that was more practical, but the one I used was only three years old.  It’s not like I was twenty one in it. 

        I turned my car towards the onramp to the highway and dialed Layla’s cell.  Having taken the righteous stand, I could now face her.  When she answered, my words flew out breathlessly.

        “Guess what?  I just met with my first online date.  And you’re not going to believe what happened.”

Ode to the Corsair

7 May 2010

  

Discovering Connecticut, both past and present

18 April 2010

The Chance Vought F4U Corsair

Saturday morning was a day that took a toll on my endurance.  I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to be at the CT Air and Space Center by 6:30 am.  It’s unbelievable that I would even agree to this, considering the fact the weekend is the only time I can sleep in.   It was cold this morning, and with the damp, raw drizzle that made for soggy weather, it wasn’t pleasant in the least. From the moment the alarm went off, I tried pleading with my husband to let me sleep in late for just a few more minutes. 

No such luck.  He had a duty to be there at a specific time, and there was a team of men he was working with on disassembling and restoring some of the older model aircrafts from World War II.  I told you in an earlier post that you may one day find me here talking about the F-22 Raptor.  That’s a viscious name, isn’t it?

Raptor.  But I’m not talking about the ones featured in the Jurassic Park Motion Picture series. I actually meant the twin-engine fighter aircrafts which use stealth technology.  See the photo below from the March 29 post.  Not to disappoint anyone, but they weren’t working on an F-22, but something more infinitely precious; the Chance Vought F4U Corsair;  a huge project endeavored to restore these fighter-aircraft artifacts that’ve been collecting corrosion and rust over the last 50 years in the hangars near the coastline.  At this time, they’re disassembling the Corsair in order to restore it, and it took several hours just to remove the rudder.  My purpose for being there was to take some photos.

So here I am saying that it took a toll on me.  Think of all the men who worked religiously and tirelessly and above all virtues -without complaint to restore an artifact that gave us great gains against the Japanese in World War II.  In his April 17, 2010 post, ‘Marking Time, Rediscovering the Forgotten’, our good friend Drew discusses the details of this project with more technical finesse http://monumentman.wordpress.com/

Isn’t she a beauty? Right in the center of all blackness is the atmospheric discharge of florescent white; the beady little eyes of head beams trying to get safely home. As sinister as the view may have looked, no heavy storm rolled in, just a light tapping of showers that broke in periodically throughout the afternoon.  But since I’m here for a greater purpose, I couldn’t let it deter me and had to forge on.  Besides, it was an hour ride home from where I was at the moment, and I was determined to get what I came for.  I’m taking pictures in an effort to organize and import them for a book trailer I plan on developing.  I know just from living here my whole life that the Connecticut River Valley offers some quintessential views of New England.  I’m not the ideal person to capture them, but figured I should at least try.  I just wish we had started this journey earlier because by 3:00, just shortly after we got started, we were already exhausted, the bulk of our energy expended the morning of at CASC.  

Some people look for cotton-candy blue skies for the sunny sky landscape that smiles upon them.  Not me.  I think the sky, like humans, is so very loaded with emotion.  Like so many of us, it has mood swings: mutable and unstable.  And like many more of us, its expression is readable, decipherable.  When the day turns instantly dark, you know there’s a story behind the storm (packed with so much energy charging within).  The kind that tips off the radar.  The kind of overcast where the sky comes in with an attitude, bullying its way in to rattle and menace the populace beneath.  To quote Star Wars, there is a ‘disturbance in the force’ couldn’t be more true than the weather.  When I was little, I was actually afraid of the sky, a phobia I never quite understood and which I imported onto my lead character in order to rationalize this fear for me.  There was something intimidating about its vastness that had me drop my head low to steer my eyes away from the very sight of it.

In any case, the fear is no longer and off we went to take my pictures.  So much thanks is given to my beautiful husband for driving me wherever I needed to go.  Patiently, enduringly he is always at my side.  I couldn’t  have asked for a better companion to wander with on these escapades. 

Eventually, we moved on to Mount St. John in Deep River.  While browsing the Internet through town sites, I came across several photos of the campus and just had to see it for myself.  There’s something very mystical and gothic about these buildings, and the landscape surrounding the campus.   

When that was done, we headed off to Ivorytown, the quaint historic district of Essex for dinner at the Copper Beech Inn.  We’ve been meaning to visit it for so long because celebrity chef Tyler Anderson works there.  In 2009, he competed on ‘Chopped’, a realty culinary show produced by the Food Network, and won the $10K grand prize.  Pretty impressive, considering how competitive the show is.  He was wonderful, personable and even came out to say hello, taking time out of his busy schedule to greet his ever growing number of fans. 

It goes without saying that the food was also outstanding.  There are two sections within the Inn that guests have a choice of dining in, Copper Beech Inn and the Brassier Pip.  We opted for the Brassier Pip as the more informal dining option.  The staff was attentive, courteous and professional.  I must be honest and say that if given the chance, well, I’d go back in a hearbeat.  It was a nice way to top off the day.  Overall, the afternoon was long but a smashing success.  I took the photos I needed and a got the chance to meet a talented chef.  But more important, time spent with my husband.  Have a sparkling week and I will see you again in a few days.

Additional Photos:

Confessions of a Bugatti Veyron

29 March 2010

Let me begin today’s blog with a spicy metaphor.  One that’s delectably fast and furious.  My most newly favored… the Bugatti Veyron: engineered to reach flagship performance in a single bound of fluid flowing mass of compounding acceleration.  No, this is not a car commercial.  This is the Debra Hutchens’ blog still.  But isn’t she beautiful?  Dipped like an ice cream cone in a molten flavor of cherry coated lava.  There’s an inveterate sense of power and thrust when something can appear this sumptuous, this deliriously fast, pounding forward at a mind boggling speed while still immobile.  It flags a ticket just sitting there!  Your driver’s license will notch points just having one of these parked in your driveway.  Don’t let it get to your head my dear Veyron.  You’re vain enough as it is.  You ruin every party we go to and steal all the attention.  Guys and girls alike.  If I were to stand next to you, I’m quite sure no one would take notice of me.

Allow me make one thing sufficiently clear:  in no way am I comparing myself to a Bugatti Veyron, but we do (you and me dear reader), have one thing in common with it.  We both run off the vital juice of energy.  Without a generous bleed of it, it’s a long way to the finishing line.  For the Bugatti, that would be the sweet cocktail of gasoline.  The black and white checkered flag waving enticingly in the far off distance beckons to be reached, but there you are, sputtering behind in your aim to cover that last stretch.  Okay, so my husband knows a little, or maybe even a lot about cars (let’s give credit where credit is due) and I picked his knowledge to drive the metaphoric point home on my writing.  He also knows a lot about aircraft, and one day soon, you may see me here delivering another metaphor on the F-22 Raptor.   

Back to my point.  With no fuel loaded in the gas tank, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.  And I’m nowhere near a Veyron.  I don’t look like it; I don’t move like it, I don’t even have the mental circuitry to ‘think’ like it.  But here’s where the metaphor comes in; during the day, I feel the pistons firing off sporadically in my brain.  This occurs, of course, when I’m at work and daydreaming -when what I should be doing is focusing on the task at hand.  And boy is my job one boring stiff task.   I’m forced to think within a wire-mesh framework of structure and statute.  It causes atrophy of the brain cells.  I told someone today that my mind is like a child running loose in the park and all conscious reasoning (the guardian adult) runs after it to pull it back in, like a kite flying high and mighty in the battering wind.  Or worst, like a bronco bucking wild beneath the strike of lightning, fighting the tightening and strenuous rope of its rider.   But once nightfall hits and I have all the time in the world to indulge in the fantasy realm of my own fiction, it all deserts me. 

I kind of just peter out.  So the only thing left for me to do is to work off the template of what’s already been written, and I’m left to work on some editing.  But even then I find myself feeling dizzy with sleep after a long day’s work.  You know what it’s like.  I write pretty lousy at this hour and I’m not one of those people who can go full-throttle after a long day, then find myself with a neat and completed manuscript five months later ready to go for press.  Maybe others can do this.  Me.  Not so.  For me, it’s a painstaking process consisting of a lot of do-overs and “let’s just pretend that didn’t happen”.  Just the other day, I was going through one of the chapters of my manuscript; now this is a chapter I’ve written over so many times already, and still, I found some things that left me feeling pretty dissatisfied.  I might need to just stare out the window and let my mind unwind.  Come to think of it, maybe that’s not so bad, and perhaps it’s just what I need to fuel me for a stronger tomorrow.  Good night and hope to see you later in the week.

Anime girl sitting in window alcove gazing and moon and stars

Vignette…Knights of the Round Table Discussion, KC Novella Chronicle

27 February 2010

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, no one is expecting me to climb the Calaveras Dome.”

“Some people just might.”  Jackie broke off a piece of her cookie and popped it in her mouth.  “I know Craig used to go to Yosemite National Park to rock climb.” 

Craig.  He just had to go to Yosemite and show me up.

“So then how should I describe myself?”

“Friendly.” Layla began.

“Conservative.” Jackie added.

        Great. Two boring descriptive’s that weren’t the least bit enticing to a man.  No guy is consciously looking for a friendly, traditionalist type of girl.  Even men carry quixotic, starry-eyed idealisms on their dream partner.  I wasn’t convinced that writing just ‘plain-old friendly’ was the best bait to lure a man.

        Jackie’s eyes narrowed as she dissected into the wording.  “For your ideal relationship, why don’t you just describe someone who’s confident.  Self assured.  Brawny.  That seems to be your type.”

        “Why,” I retorted, sarcasm saturating my voice, “so I could meet another Buzeo Degardis?” Jackie knew precisely whom I was referring to.  She eyed me contritely before dropping her eyes to her lap.

        Two weeks earlier both she and Keith arranged for me to meet one of his friends through a double date.  They called him Buzeo.  That alone instantly flagged a bad impression which sent undulating ripples of dread through me.  It sounded gruff and unpolished.  As if it belonged on a man who wiped the sweat off his forehead with the same dirty sock he’d pulled off his foot after a grueling work out. 

        But Keith vouched for him, hyping him out to be this honorably decent, straight-up kind of guy who was as open to finding a decent girl as I was to finding a great guy.  Jackie gave him glowing reviews, even maintaining that she would go out with him herself had she not been involved with Keith.  As soon as you hear that endorsement, you begin to think ‘Wow.  There must be something to this guy’.  I’d seen the people she’s dated in the past.  Although I didn’t always agree with her pick of men, there were quite a few times when the men she dated hit the Richter scale on their personality and often times, good looks.  Not that physical beauty was the only thing to go by, but it was always a comfortable start for a blind date.  And I trusted that Jackie, knowing how fastidious I was in choosing men, would have taken this factor into consideration. 

        Since Jackie had only met him once through Keith, her impression of him was limited to that one encounter.  I’m sure that in that first meeting, he was on his best behavior.  Most people usually are in the beginning. 

        She depicted Buzeo to be tall, handsomely chiseled and nicely built.  She raved about his intellect, knowing it was an attribute I highly valued, (Brandon being the seed to the valued virtue) while Keith blathered about his commanding demeanor at work.  I’m thinking… Lieutenant Karl Agathon from Battlestar Galactica -but as usual in the brutal realm of blind dating where the joke is always played on the unspected hopeful, Buzeo turned out to be the antithesis of what I had been envisioning. 

       The reality of Buzeo proved to be a harsh one. He was spray-tanned orange and un-proportionately built.  From the waist down he was narrowly tapered relative to his heavily buxomed upper half.  He was sickeningly vain and bragged about the home tanning bed he recently purchased for his bedroom.  Astonishingly, he likened himself a modern day Casanova.  I had yet to see the evidence of his mastered trade.  He talked about politics, but not from a worldly, informative perspective. 

     His opinions were naïve and his inferences on world events, ignorant.  He openly questioned the purpose of casting a vote in this country when the final count was only drowned in this stupid thing called the electoral-college.   He confused Jim Morrison with Robert Plant, wondering if the Doors were ever going to join up for a reunion tour.  I had to point out that Jim Morrison of the Doors passed away in 1971.  He was genuinely disappointed at the news.  The final insult came when I mistakenly accepted a compliment in what turned out to be an insult.  Just after I thanked him for making a flattering observation on my youthful appearance, he bluntly set the record straight by amending with “I said you look good for a girl your age.  I’m not gonna lie to you and say you look younger than you really are.”

      “All right,” Jackie unwillingly conceded, her face blushing scarlet at the memory, “he was kind of rude.”

      Layla tilted her head, her forehead warping incredulously. “He said that?”

      “Kind of?” I repeated, ignoring Layla.  I was startled that Jackie would be so reluctant to admit to such a gross offense.

      “That is rude, Jackie.” Layla supported, regarding Jackie with obvious contempt before turning to me.  “What did you say when he said that?” 

      “Nothing.” I said, somewhat embarrassed that I hadn’t taken a more indignant approach, like storm out.  “What could I say, really?”

      Layla’s demeanor turned choleric.  “I would have walked right out of there.  No…”  She declared, her attitude had a sting to it, “I would have told him exactly what I thought of him first.  Then walked out of there.”  She snapped her fingers, the loud crack somehow heightening the offense.

      I was irritated by her blatant posturing.  She always took a metaphoric stance on issues that didn’t involve her directly.  Though interestingly enough, whenever she found herself facing similar transgressions, she could be just as speechless as the next person.

The Crooked Swing

17 February 2010

Thanks for all your comments.  And I do look forward to seeing you here again.  So please, make yourself at home. 

Right now, I’m swinging the pendulum between attacking my next science fiction thriller (okay, it’s a bunch of cosmic ideas twirling around in my head in a mad loop) and the last manuscript I’m having trouble parting with.  I want desperately to move on, but some inertial force within the Crossing is pulling me back into its orbit.  Something….is whispering to me from behind the iron guard of Stone Gates.  The problem with creating another world is that the characters become all too real, too vivid, and sometimes too livid to even deal with.  They’re ready to let me go, they’ve said their farewells, but I keep coming back and discovering new things about them.  For instance, I’m driving in my car, riding along the highway, when a little voice inside me intrudes on my thoughts to say…”Ummm..Debra did you know that when Brandon was young, he did this?…”  and “When Gillian was sixteen she was attacked walking home one night by someone from Fair View High…”  (They were Leland High’s rival) and one more thing…”Did you know that when Gillian was fifteen she and Cody (his best friend) shared a kiss, but Brandon never found out?” 

Why?  Because it would kill him, and they were wise to keep it from him.  For his own good as well as theirs.  He loved her to the point of obsession.  The idea of Cody and Gillian ‘together’ in any way, shape or form would drive him up the wall.  Brandon was not one to forgive.  He wasn’t one to dispense mercy.  He fell under the sign of Scorpio and would disable anyone who came between them.  How do I mean by disable?  Brandon has a gift that most people don’t know about, (except for the kinfolk of Kings Valley) but you have to enter the Crossing to find out what it is.

Fighting the Sickness

20 January 2010

January 20, 2010
It’s a furious standoff between my will to write and the flu I just happened to acquire. I plan on developing my next book into a science fiction thriller, and every effort (even if it’s one page a day until I shake off this ‘thing’) hopefully will yield some results in the end.

Hello Novi

18 January 2010

Saying Hi to our cute kitty -who is very loud right now.

Welcome

17 January 2010

January 17, 2010

Kings Crossing

Medieval Cottage

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