An Open Letter

Posted in other things by anna on November 28, 2008

          Dear Every Male Standup Comedy Duo In Brooklyn,

           Why do you always come right after the girl who jokes about Planned Parenthood?

            One of you is clean-shaven and probably has a girlfriend who compares herself and her friends to Sex and the City (she’s Miranda). The other one of you wears a keffiyeh and thinks he’s the next Demetri Martin because he was the funniest guy on his floor at Brown.

            As soon as you hit the stage you become that stagey kind of awkward that’s been popular in comedy clubs along the L train ever since “Flight of the Conchords” hit. You stare straight out the crowd, murmuring stilted observations to each other about our inability to laugh. We haven’t been laughing much. We’re all here to see a friend, which is the only reason we dragged our asses out to Brooklyn on a Tuesday night and we have class tomorrow so we’ve only had one PBR.

            Neither of you are awkward in real life. In fact, you both get laid, often. And it’s kind of insulting that you think we don’t know that.

            Whenever more than one Y-chromosomed human being steps onstage, I am filled with conflicting emotions. We just watched the Planned Parenthood girl bomb horribly, and we have never been more aware that you are the right gender for this. And there are two of you. You are the comedy equivalent of the prettiest cheerleader in high school: we make assumptions and write you off immediately, because we’re jealous.

           You’re riffing about space camp, about shitty jobs, being lonely, but we don’t believe any of it. The overlapping schtick is supposed to sound organic but it feels stale. I don’t like picturing you rehearsing this in someone’s apartment in Greenpoint but it’s evident that you do, often. Watching you is like dating someone who pretends to care and you know it’s a lie even before he fucks your suitemate in Hayden while you’re in New Jersey over break.

            I am ready to get serious. I am ready to laugh, okay? Just please tell the truth. I know neither of you went to space camp.

            Despite everything, I’m probably kind of attracted to the clean-shaven half of you, and during the painfully staged fight over your website URL sounding like Asian porn, I imagine our relationship. On our first “real” date I’d cook you a simple chicken dinner and later give you the best blowjob I am capable of, which is probably about on par with the dinner. I’d go to all your shows and Keffiyeh would hate me until I won him over with my classic SNL trivia. Like a true Comedy Girlfriend I’d painstakingly read the chicken-scratch in your Strand notebook and encourage you to go solo even though Keffiyeh’s the one who has the fire under his ass for comedy specifically while your ambitions are far more general. Eventually you’d drop the comedy thing and move up the corporate ladder at work and propose to me drunk at a sushi restaurant and twenty years later we’d watch our square-jawed sons play football in the backyard as the foliage turned.

            I immediately change my mind when I realize how frequently I’d have to come to Brooklyn.





P.S. Please, no more YouTube jokes.


Gothicus Maximus

Posted in stories by anna on November 26, 2008

Ben Bolea

Remedial Writing

Personal Essay


Gothicus Maximus and the Elixir of Andra  

            I went to junior high school with this kid named Gothicus Maximus. His name was actually Kenny Hoffman and he sat at my lunch table and to be honest I didn’t want him there because he was really pretty strange. He wore this cape every day. I don’t know where you can find a cape in Central New Jersey, maybe he bought it at New Hope they have all kinds of New Agey shit there. Anyway it was black velvet with red lining and he wore it every day over some Hot Topic t-shirt and parachute pants with those creepy Magic Eight-Ball contacts, you know the ones.

            I had just come back to school and the teachers had made this really awkward announcement about how I’d been sick (I’m better now) even though I told my mom to tell them not to do that. So at lunch I didn’t have anyone to sit with so I was just sitting alone eating a sandwich at the end of the table. And Gothicus Maximus came up to me with his faggy cape and sat across the table and opened up his yogurt.

            You’re Ben right? He said.

            Yeah, I went.

            You want some yogurt?

            No thanks.

            You’ve seen death.


            You’ve seen death.

            I heard you, I just… I mean, I didn’t. See it.

            Yes you did! You had leukemia.

            I shook my head, No I didn’t.

            You did, Mrs. Thunhorst told us.

            You must be thinking of the other Ben.

            No it’s definitely you, Gothicus said. What was it like?

            He slid his yogurt across the table towards me.

            I dumped it out onto his shoes and said, It sucked.

            Gothicus was into like Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, and all that other weird shit the high school kids used to play in the back room of Gamers Realm right next to Little Szechuan off the highway. Gothicus made his mom drop us off every Thursday after school, when I used to have soccer practice before I had to leave school. All the cars in the parking lot of Gamers Realm had bumper stickers that said stuff like “pwned j00” and “Militant Agnostic: I Don’t Know And Neither Do You.”

            Gothicus’ big brother Cody Hoffman usually worked the counter. He had the longest hair I ever saw on a guy with this weird pube beard and you constantly had to ask him to repeat stuff because he talked in l337 so much, even when he answered the phone at the store. He was a Super Senior and cussed teachers out and had a ring through his lip and nobody liked him too much, but because he provided the space and the rulebooks and shit, he got to be the Dungeonmaster, which means he runs this campaign and provides the journey for our characters. The first time I came in with Gothicus Cody was a real dick to me but I think he’s just a dick to everybody.

                I was still kind of not down with playing this game. I was a neutral good elf Paladin named Berwyn but that didn’t make me any more down with playing this game. Gothicus said when you gain enough experience points you can hook up with a girl but no girls hang out at Gamer’s Realm and if Cody narrates that too I’d rather just not do it.

            Gothicus was a chaotic good half-elf Bard named Arashi.

            Yo faggots, Cody said when we come in, midway through a sip of Dr. Thunder.

            Hey Cody.

            Yo Ben. Ready for the Cave of Andra? Cody asked. His breath smelled like rubbing alcohol.

            Sure, I sort of mumbled. Cody always spiked his Dr. Thunder. Those guys drank a lot. They were kind of the geek version of the heavy metal parking lot.

            We went into the stock room and sat in the ripped folding chairs with the other guys, who are already rolling dice over some stupid barroom fight. Nick Vincent always tried to jack DM from Cody while he was up front at the counter. It always smelled funky back here, like B.O. and menthol cigarettes, the Vincent twins had gauges and plastic elf ears, they were like B students I think so it’s not like they were being crazy and fucking shit up. Nobody was scared of them or anything. They were just weird, but at like, that utmost level of weirdness that makes you invisible.

            Okay, fuckers – Cody put down his Dr. Thunder and rubbed his hands together – You’re inside the Cave of Andra. The ceiling drips. It’s cold. There’s a sliver of light—

            Where? Nick asked

            Don’t cut me off. Up ahead, at the babbling brook.

            Is there anything on the walls? Gothicus said.

            Cody totally grinned. Glad you asked, Arashi. There seems to be a crack between the stones, something sticking out.

            I grab it! the other Vincent twin (TOVT) yelled.

            It’s a scroll, said Cody.

            I unroll it, Gothicus said real quick with a sidelong look at Cody like “see how good I am?”

           Cody cleared his throat and went, it says, He who sinks under water’s spell, must drink to avoid heaven or hell. The elixir lies in the depths of this cave. To save your friend you must be brave.

           There was a second of silence as we all thought about that, but Cody broke it.

           So what are you assholes doing?

           Nobody said anything. Cody turned to me with this sly little smile.


            I knew I had to make a move or else Cody would keep busting my balls all rest of the year.

            I walk to the babbling brook? I asked.

            Forcefully, Ben. (He doesn’t call me Berwyn, not that I really care)

            I walk to the babbling brook, I said.

            And? He stared at me, waiting.

            I said the first thing that comes to my mind: I take a drink.

            From the brook?

            Sure, yeah.

            His eyes went really little, beady. Roll your dice.

            Why? I asked because I wasn’t like in a fight or anything, which is when you’re supposed to roll.

           The water’s poisoned. You’ve got 10 hit points left from that battle with the dark elf in the forest, said Cody. Roll a 12-sided. If it’s 6 or above, you live long enough for them to find the elixir.

            I rolled a 5.

            That’s not fair, I said.

            Cody put on his DM voice again and went, You start coughing uncontrollably. So bad it hurts to breathe. Your insides feel like they’re turning against you. Your hit points are dropping. Five… four…

            I’m getting really mad now and the other guys can tell.

            Come on, Cody, said TOVT.

            Your blood’s boiling, Cody continued. Like there are chemicals inside your body that are fucking with each other so hard you can feel it in your head. Three… rwo…

            And I knew it was a stupid game but Cody’s eyes looked like little black marbles and all of a sudden I could smell the hospital. I remembered all the nurses and their latexy hands on my forehead and the apple juice I’d puke up after chemo.

           There’s no radiation in the Cave of Andra, Cody said.

           Stop it Cody! Gothicus kind of screeched. Look at him! (I guess I looked white or something.)

           I don’t remember leaving Gamer’s Realm and going out into the parking lot but I called my mom from the payphone by Little Szechuan and she came to pick me up. She didn’t ask me any questions or anything. She was always careful not to upset me.

            I ignored Gothicus Maximus at school for the rest of the year and ripped the Anarchy sign off my binder, the one that matched his. He got the picture. After I stopped playing D&D I started working out, like crazy, twice a day all summer. I started playing Halo with Jon Bershad down the street, made friends with his girlfriend Ashley and asked her best friend Jess to the movies. The Vincent twins moved to Pennsylvania right after I started high school. I heard TOVT is actually smart, got into Penn State or something. Gothicus I think goes to Ithaca now, president of the Anime Club, or at least according to Facebook. Right now his status is “Gothicus Maximus is ^____^”

           I didn’t go back into Gamer’s Realm again till senior year, I needed some shit for a graduation party cause we were playing Assassins. I walked in with my girlfriend and Cody Hoffman was behind the counter, looking fatter and older but with the same terrible eyes, same rubbing alcohol breath. I tried not to look at him as I grabbed the water guns and stuff, partly for fear and partly cause I thought I might punch him out if I saw him smile at me the way he used to.

            Hey Berwyn, Cody said all quiet as he rang up the guns.

            What? my girlfriend asked, but he just shook his head.

            Have a nice day. Cody handed me my bag. I snatched it.

            You’re in the Cave of Andra, man, I said, and walked out of the store. I don’t really know what I meant.

            At the graduation party everyone was wearing American Eagle. When the water guns came out the girls got down to their bikinis. College so far has pretty much been like a semester of that graduation party. I guess that’s pretty cool. 

Intro to Documentary Production

Posted in stories by anna on November 25, 2008

             Dan shot his project on a Monday and got kicked out on a Wednesday, which left a comfortable amount of time for speculation. We weren’t involved in the plan so we didn’t have any like, first-hand knowledge, but we knew it was Dan’s idea and we knew the people who went along with it. Its detractors – and in rare moments of rationality, even the kids involved – called it retarded, reckless, but admittedly some of us thought it was brilliant.

           It was easy to blame Dan. He’s from L.A. (went to Crossroads – most of us went to Oakwood or Windward, which aren’t as good or as rich), he has a pleasant tan, says “chill” often, is well-liked and makes good points in class.

            The class was Intro to Documentary Production. The group was amorphous but always exclusive. The principal cast included John, a pretty blonde boy from Maine. Mike, a Jew from Toronto. Dakota, an angry-funny boy from the Bronx. Ben, a sexy first-generation American by way of something Soviet, whose girlfriend was still in high school. Nick, a redheaded hipster with chronic anxiety, was the son of a multimillionaire sports mogul (he had weird rich-kid guilt and thought we didn’t know). Bianca was the only girl, which is all we really knew about her except that we were all a little in love with her – especially Dakota – and then there was Dan. The rest of us were just rotating players from nondescript suburban middle-class families.

            We go to school together. It’s a good school. To name the school or the major feels like bragging and when it comes up we always mumble it. What we can say is that there were long debates about Werner Herzog at Cosi Soup & Burger that ate up our entire one-hour lunch break between lecture and tech theory. There are late nights spent hunched and squinting over Steenbecks, chopping up reels and chugging Red Bull. There are casually weighted conversations with our parents about student loan payments, midway through which our parents feel guilty for verbalizing the burden that tuition puts on their finances and cheerfully change the subject to what we’re learning in class now. And whenever we go home for winter break and hang out with old friends we made our first short films with (the shitty digital ones about the mob that we made right after we first saw Goodfellas) we can only assume they’ve spent all semester at state school slaving over a screenplay and cultivating a reserve of jealousy that explodes at parties in the most peculiar and passive-aggressive ways.


            Mike’s final documentary is on an eccentric New York cab driver. He’s usually in bed by midnight and blushes whenever he has to use “fuck” as a verb, possibly because he’s only done it with one girl and both of them cried after. His favorite show is Stella and he agrees to participate in this because he wants to feel cooler than he does now.

            Dakota’s final documentary is on his grandparents’ love affair, which began on Ellis Island in 1955 and ended in North Central Bronx Hospital last year. He works as a busboy at the Laugh Factory, clearing tables and washing dishes and watching open mic night from the back room, learning how not to do comedy. He’s short and stocky with beautiful blue eyes and street slang peppered throughout his speech and he agrees to participate in this because ever since he came to this school, he’s been feeling restless.

            John’s final documentary is on a kindly janitor who works at his old high school. He has a twin brother named Peter who attends state school in Maine but John is the cute one. Not sexy at all, not like pin-a-girl-against-a-wall-and-fuck-her, but delicate and angelic, like rent-a-rowboat-in-Central-Park-and-talk-about-feelings. This is a handicap to his casual sex life and thus John has adjusted his method of attracting girls at parties to consist of three general phases with no subtlety or ambiguity: (The general questions.) “What’s your major?” (The deep thoughts.) “We’re all like, wearing facades, you know?” (The killing.) “You seem really chill. I have some Jameson at my apartment.” He agrees to participate in this so he can gain some perspective on mortality.

            Ben’s final documentary is on a basketball outreach program for underprivileged teenage boys, not far from where Dakota grew up. He’s from upstate New York and his parents are from the Ukraine. He’s in a long-term long-distance thing with a pretty, dumb (we know from Facebook) high school senior from his hometown who everyone calls “the child bride” behind his back. His features are so strong that he always looks disdainful, and maybe he is. At some point in their relationship he has probably pinned the child bride against the wall and fucked her. He agrees to participate in this as a favor to Dan, and because he isn’t scared.

            Nick’s final documentary is on an all-night bodega by his apartment and the two Indian men who run it. His favorite film is Ed Wood. He lost his virginity at sixteen at a ski lodge in Colorado to one of his father’s friends. His freshman year he would compulsively invite guy friends in his dorm to concerts with him – front-row seats worth thousands of dollars courtesy of his father –  and then back out, leaving the other guy with two expensive tickets to Paul Simon or Roger Waters. He agrees to participate in this to impress Bianca.

            Bianca’s final documentary is on a pack-rat who lives in a cluttered apartment in the Village. She’s from River Falls, Wisconsin, which she refers to as part of the “Meth Belt.” She was an early bloomer, breasts at ten and her period at eleven, so after that she could basically survive anything. She’s pretty quiet and takes kick-boxing classes at the school gym at 6 AM every morning. She agrees to participate in this because she didn’t want them to think girls were pussies.


            It was partially Dan and partially the Deer Hunter screening we’d just had in Digital Frame and Sequence class. It was at Chipotle. We were eating Burrito Bowls and Bianca was sucking on a lemon because she was on a diet or whatever. We were shooting the shit about Christopher Walken and our final doc subjects or something when Dan first said it. It went unnoticed the first time in the midst of the conversation, but then he said it again, more insistently. At first the general consensus was “uh, what?”

            “My final short doc screening is on next Wednesday. I think it would be awesome.”

            John stared blankly from behind his curtain of hair. “How’s that?”

            “Maybe if you have a death wish, dude,” said Mike

            “No, no, listen, guys. A single round, a six-shot revolver.” Dan splayed his hands flat on the table for emphasis. “That means there is literally – literally, a 17% chance of discharging.”

            Ben goes “Oh good, because I want a one-in-six chance of getting shot in the fucking head.” We all laugh nervously.

            “Does anyone even have a revolver?” Bianca asks, which surprises us.

            “I have one,” said Dakota.


            “My dad knows an old cop. Retired. We fire off rounds in empty parking lots.”

             Dan grins. “Oh, the NYPD. Glorious.”

            “And you’d film this?” Ben asks dubiously.

            “Yeah, I’d just set up the tripod somewhere. In-house lighting. Onboard mic. It would be easy.”

            A couple of us laugh at the use of the word “easy” in this context, and Dan glances earnestly at us like ‘shut up guys, I’m serious!’ And then we felt guilty for laughing, which is something you should know about Dan’s powers of persuasion.

            “And edit it like, how?” John wanted to know. “Like an action movie?”

            “Not cheesy. You know. Tense. I’m pretty good at timing, right? Not to sound like a douchebag.”

            Yeah, he was awesome at timing.

            “No, no, this is fucked up,” Nick says. He sounds nervous but trying to cover it. Bianca touches his shoulder.

            “I need a cigarette,” Dakota announces. She looks up and they’re out the door. She always bums off him. Nick watches them go, he picks up the tab and takes care of it. This is his way of saying sorry for what he thinks we don’t know about. We always let him pay it because it has nothing to do with us, just with him.


            We weren’t there, but this is how we heard it went.

            By Dan’s request, they showed up in suits – probably the ones their moms bought them for graduation, the ones they wore at the Olive Garden after they got their diplomas, with clean-shaven baby-faces and close-cropped hair and an expression not unlike that of Gene Kelly’s when he first arrives with his fake cardboard suitcase to fake cardboard New York from that “Singin’ in the Rain” dance shit.  They looked like they were wearing knapsacks even when they weren’t, and also looked like they’d call them “knapsacks.”

           Now they have stubble and sleepy eyes. Shaggy hair cut by some girl in the dorm that they probably have fucked or will fuck. No enthusiasm, just blank-slateness, the smell of weed like a common cologne. They don’t take care of themselves so you can’t tell who has a good mother. With their broad shoulders and backs and big hands with dirty nails, college boys look closer to men than children, but are really closest to orphans by choice.

           Bianca and Nick are missing but they’re coming in five. Blake reaches into the freezer and pulls out a tank of Georgi vodka.

           “Oh fuck,” Ben forces a laugh. It’s the first thing anyone’s said since they came in.

            Dan pours shots and hands them out. “Gentlemen.”

            Dakota is wearing a white tuxedo and a light sheen of sweat. He raises his glass. “Salud.” The boys raise theirs in turn.

            “No chaser?” Mike coughs.


            Nick comes in breathless. His hair’s all fucked up.

            “Ahh, here’s the ginger kid.” Dan leans back in his chair and slide-high-fives him.

            Bianca comes in a second later wearing a simple black dress, her hair down, earrings in, like she’s going to the opera. Dan gets up theatrically and walks over to his desk.

             “I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society open,” he says.

            “Do you have any stock gunshot noises?” Dakota asks. Everyone laughs uneasily.

            They take their seats around the heavy wooden dorm table. John does the shocker for the camera.

            “You guys look very handsome,” says Bianca.

            “Thanks, ‘yanka.”

            “I’m up here, Dakota.” He’s staring at her tits.

            “Sorry,” he replies, and under the same breath says “Marry me.”

            He pulls the revolver out of his gym bag and places it gingerly in the center of the table.

            “Nose goes,” says Dan, and you never saw kids move so fast.

            Mike loses. He takes it like a man and picks the gun up in a loose grip like a banana. He places it to his ear and pulls the trigger. Click, silence. Everyone lets go of the nervous air trapped in their throats. Ben claps Mike on the back. Mike is still green.

            Ben and Dan’s turns go fast, Ben taking a shot before his and pulling down on the trigger as he jerked his head to the side and swallowed the vodka. Before Dakota goes he closes his eyes and whispers something softly. Click. Empty again.

            “I can’t,” John says when the gun is passed to him.

            “The fuck, John?”

            “You have enough footage, right? Three times. This is retarded.”

            Dan is like, “Dude, no. Are you serious?”

            “I gotta go,” John pushes his hair out of his face and gets up and slaps the shoulders of the boys on the way out, kisses the top of Bianca’s head and then he’s gone. They stare after him, wondering if this will change class tomorrow.

            “We’re rolling,” Dan says sharply.

            Nick is up. He stares at it for a second, looking like he might cry, then brings the gun to his temple in one fluid motion with his lips slightly parted like he’s waiting for a kiss.

            Bianca grabs the gun from his hand and pushes it against her head and shoots two empty chambers.

            “What the fuck!” Nick’s voice cracks.

            “I took your turn,” she says.

            “No skipping allowed,” Dan says. “Penalty round.”

            “What?” Dakota asks slowly.

            “Bianca has to go again.”

            Mike goes, “You’re fucking crazy.”

            “No,” Dan says reasonably. “That skip doesn’t count, I’ll let Nick slide but she has to go again.”

            “I’ll go for her,” Nick says. His hands are shaking.


            “Dan, you’re being an asshole.”

            All eyes are on Bianca. She stares at Nick, who averts his eyes. She waits for any signs of protest and receives none. She raises the gun to her head again, one red painted nail curved around the trigger. The red button on the camera is still on, recording, and she fires.


          It was lucky for Bianca that Dan thought Dakota prepped the gun, and lucky that Dakota hadn’t put a single bullet in the chamber because he thought that Dan would want to do the honors.

         It was not lucky for Dan that he was hustled down the hall to the Dean’s office seconds after he screened his documentary. The professor watched the kids watching themselves on the screen – Ben, John, Mike, Nick, Dakota, Bianca – not confident and brash like usual, but solemn, having disbanded during lunch and eating in separate corners instead of hanging together like they did. The professor asked over the room tone if the gun was loaded and Dan said yes, and that was it.

        The Dean apparently gave him this long lecture on how he could be charged with manslaughter and it wasn’t worth it and they ended up kicking him out on medical leave, semi-permanent. We’re fucking glad we won’t be in that big, cold house in Pacific Palisades when he tells his parents why he was expelled.

         But you know what? That shit was really well-edited.


           Bianca is sitting on a crowded afternoon N train away from school, heading back to the 26th street dorms. She took the only seat open when she got on at 8th and stared down at her iPod, switching from Sufjan Stevens to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and effectively avoiding the glares of elderly women and mothers with strollers.

         A ragged guy in khakhis, vaguely homeless, holds his hands up.

        “Hi guys,” he says. “I don’t wanna waste your time, but I’m out of work and I really need…”

        Bianca watches a businessman grab the guy, shake his hand, sympathize, urgently continue to offer advice as he got off at his stop. She’s suddenly sad, not because she’s moved by the guy’s story but because she doesn’t believe him.

Mommy Wakes Up

Posted in stories by anna on November 25, 2008

Dear Jiao, 

My name is Celia Sophia Brewster and I am a fourth grader at the Schilling School for Gifted Children. I am writting from Cincinatti, Ohio. I have brown hair and blue eyes and freckles. I live in a house with purple shutters on Oakbrook Lane with my Dad and Aunt Laura. Not everyone gets a penpal but Mrs. Gaydos said she wanted me to have one because she told my Dad when I was listening on the upstairs phone that I should express myself more.

I am supposed to write about my activities and feelings but I will not write too much about my feelings because Mrs. Gaydos is going to proofread this before she mails it.

What is China like?




Dear Jiao,

Wow that is a lot of siblings! Do you have to share a lot? I am an only child so I don’t share anything but I also have to write to you no offense.

About my family:

My Dad’s name is Charles Paris Brewster. He is a reporter for the Cincinatti Enquirer. He has brown hair and blue eyes like me and a nice smile. When he comes to school to watch my band concerts, all of the moms whisper and giggle especially the ones that are divorced like my friend Tasha’s mom.

Aunt Laura is tall and skinny with natural highlights in her hair. She used to be a fancy lawyer in New York but came to live with us when Mommy fell asleep. Mostly I think Aunt Laura is cool and pretty but sometimes she is annoying.

Every Sunday we visit Mommy in the hospital (Bethesda North) and read to her because the doctors say she can probably hear us. Right now we are reading Of Mice and Men. Do they have that book in China?

Mommy is Aunt Laura’s sister. Sophie Rachel Brewster. She is like Sleeping Beauty except she hasn’t been asleep for that long because I remember when she used to put lavender soap in my underwear drawer.




Dear Jiao,

Guess what! I went up to Mrs. Gaydos and asked if she mailed my last letter and she looked at me kind of sad and said she was not going to proofread the letters anymore, so I should feel free to write whatever I want.

When I came home Daddy and Aunt Laura were making dinner. Daddy made the salmon talk to Aunt Laura and she was laughing, and then they danced to the radio together while she was chopping celery. I don’t like when they laugh.




Dear Diary,

We finished Of Mice and Men at the hospital today. At the end of the book something bad happens to Lenny that made Aunt Laura and Daddy sad and also made Aunt Laura put her hand on Daddy’s back.

Well, I’m not sad, I said.

They asked me why not, and I told them that Lenny was bad.

He’s not bad, Celia. He just did a bad thing, Daddy said.

I said What’s the difference?

Nobody talked in the car on the way home. If Mommy really can hear what we are saying, and if she wakes up, she would yell at me for being rude.




Dear Jiao,  

The school play has tryouts today. I am usually the dramaturg for Mr. Kalick, the drama teacher. That means I research the history and make sure there is nothing in the play that contradicts the text. But this year, Tasha is making me try out with her. It is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” That is the one about the fairies that is pretty well known but not as famous as the tragedies. I wanted to do Hamlet but Mr. Kalick did not listen to me probably because I’m a kid, so unfair.





Dear Jiao,

I GOT A PART!!! They cast me as “Fairy” who works for the queen and casts spells. I wish I had a name. I am one of 4 people who play Fairy because Mr. Kalick wanted to include everyone so I only have 1 line. Tasha is Helena, that is a lead girl, she has like a million lines…

I was telling Mommy about the play today at Bethesda North and she made her hand into a fist, the doctors say that may be a sign of “emergence.” They told Daddy that after they stepped out of the room, but I have perfect hearing so I heard them anyway.



Dear Jiao,

I don’t know if you get American news in China but me and my family are FAMOUS here. My picture is in 3 papers!!! “LOCAL WOMAN HIT BY TRUCK EMERGES FROM COMA.”

She woke up when Aunt Laura and Daddy were visiting, her eyes just opened I guess. She can’t really talk to me yet but when she saw me, her eyes got really wide and teary, like she was screaming inside or something. Aunt Laura left the room and Daddy told me to give Mommy a hug so I did, she couldn’t hug back though. It is hard for her to move.


Dear Jiao,

Sorry it’s been a long time since I wrote I’ve been super busy with the play and with Mommy. She is still in the hospital but she is doing physical and speech therapy so she can come home. Daddy and Aunt Laura were talking last night in the living room while I was on the stairwell looking at my Fairy line.

No matter what I decide to do, I’m hurting someone, I can’t do this to Sophie and Jesus what about Celia, Daddy said.

What are we going to do, Aunt Laura was saying over and over. What are we going to do Charlie.

I wonder how much longer Aunt Laura is staying.




Dear Jiao,

Guess what?? Mommy came home. She can talk to us and she is almost normal except she rides on an electronic scooter sometimes because she gets really tired. Her bedtime is before mine!! Aunt Laura made a fancy dinner (Mommy didn’t eat much though just a little bit of salad) and we ate like a family.

So I called the firm and they said they’d love to have me back in New York, Aunt Laura said after we all sat down.
Daddy dropped his fork. Whoops—no Laura don’t get up I’ll wash it.

Wow, back in New York, Mommy said slowly. She sometimes repeats the last parts of things, and she looks up while she does it. Squinting a little. She has to concentrate really hard.

I made sure my first day would be after your show Celia, Aunt Laura said.

I went Oh Greaaaat.

Don’t be rude Celia said Mommy but I know she won’t punish me. Sometimes I catch her looking at me like she’s amazed, and other times like she’s confused like who is this girl? She is not my daughter because my daughter is six and this girl is eight. Sometimes thinking about that confuses me too.




Dear Jiao,

Today we had Midsummer dress rehearsal and Mr. Kalick yelled at me because I forgot my line (my 1 line LOL) and said I was acting like I was distracted and I said didn’t you see the paper, I am distracted!! And he kicked me out of rehearsal for talking back… whatever I hate him!!! he always has chalk on his shirt and everyone calls him faggot.

Daddy picked me up early and drove me home and I stayed in my room all day just laying in bed. Then Mommy came in and told me Aunt Laura was upset and why was I so mean to her at dinner last night?

I’m just sad, she saw my play last year and the year before that sitting there next to Daddy, why weren’t YOU there it’s not FAIR and I didn’t want to cry but I couldn’t help it.

I’m sad too, Celia. said Mommy in a shaky voice she was kind of sniffling.

Then I said, I just want her to leave.

She will, honey, just when I’m a little stronger.

No she won’t!!!!!!!

Why not?

Because she likes Daddy.

Mommy went into the bedroom where Daddy was sleeping and I heard them talking then louder then yelling then whispers then crying.

Shhh he was saying, I loved you so much and she was just there, and so much like you, that’s all it was, I’ll end it, it’s nothing, it’s nothing – what? – no, I didn’t say loved. I said love. I love you so much.




Dear Jiao,

The show was awesome!! Daddy and Mommy were in the front row because of Mommy’s chair but they looked happy, smiling and stuff but Daddy was sorta looking around. Mommy didn’t notice because she can’t focus on side stuff like that yet.

It was about to end and I was about to go on stage my heart was pounding like crazy!! and I looked off into the wings to get the ok from Mr. Kalick and Aunt Laura was standing there backstage with her face really puffy, with 2 suitcases at her feet staring at me. She twisted her mouth into a sorta smile.

Bye, she mouthed. Bye, I whispered back, went onstage and said my line. Hence, away! now all is well: 
One aloof stand sentinel.



Summer Craigslist Romance

Posted in stories by anna on November 25, 2008

sweet, cute girl looking for summer fun – w4m – 22

are you up for it?

we meet at a starbucks or some little coffee shop and sit down with our drinks. we flirt and laugh, share some stories. i go to the ladies room and slip off my panties. i give them to you. they’re still warm. you hand me a hundred dollars and we go our separate ways


you fantasize about me, i fantasize about you fantasizing about me, and everybody wins


i’m a tall, thin blonde


j h <> wrote:

So you expect a Manhattan professional to shell out a hundred dollars of their paycheck for a pair of your used panties? I don’t mean to pass judgment, but there must be a better/easier way to make a living.



Ashley <> wrote:

hi manhattan professional. if youre so grossed out why e-mail me from your ivory tower


j h <> wrote:

It’s a slow day at the hospital. I’m on AIM if you want to chat: jhg2003.



ash_baby: i bet you go on craigslist a lot

Jhg2003: Not really. What makes you say that?

ash_baby: the name on your email is “j h…” that’s what people do when they want to stay anonymous

Jhg2003: Just trying not to get my identity stolen.

ash_baby: i hope you’re not trying to tell me you’re a doctor

jhg2003: Why not?

ash_baby: all the girls who watch grey’s anatomy probably want babies with you

Jhg2003: Actually I used to have a friend that would go to the bar wearing his monogrammed scrubs to troll for…

Jhg2003: Well…

Jhg2003: I guess women of ill repute. Totally sleazy, and sad, actually.

ash_baby: jeez SO judgmental

Jhg2003: It’s not that; I just have standards.

ash_baby: dont try to impress me with that semicolon

ash_baby: i basically know you

ash_baby: i went to high school with a few hundred of you

jhg2003: Oh really?

ash_baby: over-educated probably at an ivy, six figure income, owns not rents an apartment on the upper east side, holier-then-thou

ash_baby: the occasional coke dabbling when you want to feel “dangerous”

ash_baby: in the throes of a mid-life crisis

Jhg2003: Whoa – “mid-life”? More like thirty-something life.

ash_baby: fine

ash_baby: like

ash_baby: some thirty-something existential “am I just my paycheck” bs

Jhg2003: Are you done?

ash_baby: oh god no

ash_baby: sexually dysfunctional

Jhg2003: Haha. It’s interesting you’d say that because when I’m dating a girl, I’m usually the adventurous one.

ash_baby: the girls you date probably lie back and think of england

Jhg2003: The guys you date probably get charged by the hour.

Jhg2003: I’m sorry.

ash_baby: no i deserved that. i didn’t mean to pinhole you

ash_baby: buttonhole you?

Jhg2003: Buttonhole.

ash_baby: it was bitchy. just stereotype me back. paint me a picture.

Jhg2003: Okay. Too easy.

Jhg2003: You’re a recent graduate of a middle-of-the road liberal arts college.

Jhg2003: No, actually an art school.

Jhg2003: Mom and Dad just stopped fronting the rent.

Jhg2003: You’re doing some summer temping but barely making ends meet thanks to gratuitous purchases at Urban Outfitters and your taste for Starbucks.

ash_baby: wrong

Jhg2003: Where did you go to college?

ash_baby: well

ash_baby: risd

Jgh_2003: I knew it!

ash_baby: but mom never fronted the rent

ash_baby: and there is no dad

ash_baby: and for your information i prefer american apparel to urban outfitters

Jhg2003: Have you heard about the guy who runs it— Dov Charney? He’s been slapped with a couple sexual harassment suits for making potential employees sleep with him. 

ash_baby: well no shit look at the billboards of the models… at this point its like

ash_baby: the girls who apply KNOW theyre going to have to fuck him for a job

ash_baby: its not like they have no idea and hes just taking advantage of them

Jhg2003: Wow, no wonder you want to avoid joining the workforce.

ash_baby: actually that was a wrong guess; i have a day job

Jhg2003: Victoria’s Secret?

ash_baby: ha ha. an interior design office

Jhg2003: Utilizing your BFA, no doubt…

ash_baby: lol you have no idea


Ashley <> wrote:

jesus christ it’s hot at the office… my boss is a crazy bitch & won’t turn on the air.


j h <> wrote:

Sell any panties today?



Ashley <> wrote:

2 pairs on lunch break and its not even 4pm. new record. most guys cant handle doing this before its dark out


j h <> wrote:

Due no doubt to their sense of good Catholic shame (kidding!)



Ashley <> wrote:

hey I was a good catholic girl once upon a time


j h <> wrote:

I thought your parents were divorced…?



Ashley <> wrote:

they are. and i mean… you could say my selling underwear on the internet might be a result of that. but that feels awfully like a cliché


j h <> wrote:

But we love clichés!

Let me ask you, what was the weirdest experience you’ve had in your “sales”?



Ashley <> wrote:

good point.

i dunno if this was the weirdest per se but one time i was on 53rd for my last one of the day and the guys are never like sexy or anything but this one was straight up OBESE. like can barely walk obese, and he tried to come into the bathroom while i was in there pretending to masturbate while wearing the panties i was going to give him (they all think i really do, isn’t that so gullible?). like really forcefully trying to push the door open.

i guess he thought i would like throw in a quickie, or  that was actually what this was, or whatever, but it was kind of gross… and scary


j h <> wrote:

That does sound scary. This isn’t coming from a judgmental place, I swear, but is it really worth it?



Ashley <> wrote:

i wish I didn’t have to do it… but its not all bad. 

this rapid fire emailing is actually crazy. Gchat?


j h <>

No time. Off break now and running around like a crazy person. The ER is full of heat strokes – seriously, is it not common sense to at least bring a bottle of water when you’re going jogging in 100 degrees?



Ashley <> wrote:

people are retarded sometimes. what hospital do you work at?


j h <>

I hope this doesn’t offend you, but I don’t really feel comfortable telling you that.



Jhg2003: I didn’t mean to be a jerk

Jhg2003: hello?

ash_baby: hi

Jhg2003: I’m sorry.

ash_baby: don’t be sorry… i just don’t really know what you’re thinking

ash_baby: like im going to waltz into your work or something

Jhg2003: Yeah, that is pretty irrational.

ash_baby: forget about it

ash_baby: anywayyyyy. work was ridiculous

Jhg2003: No, I really am sorry.

Jhg2003: It sucks that you have to deal with jerks all the time.

ash_baby: cmon its not a big deal

ash_baby: i could really use a drink

Jhg2003: Want to get one?

ash_baby: haha are you serious

Jhg2003: Why not?

ash_baby: i mean

ash_baby: no reason not to

ash_baby: i guess

Jhg2003: Okay, so… Jameson’s on 2nd ?

Jhg2003: ever been?

ash_baby: haha yes.

ash_baby: I know it

ash_baby: i went there the night i moved to new york

ash_baby: with my crazy roommates who i hated

ash_baby: and they both went home with guys and i ended up going back to the apartment by myself

ash_baby: and it turned out i was locked out

ash_baby: and i was like

Jhg2003: Oh no…

ash_baby: wasted

ash_baby: lol it was so bad

Jhg2003: Hopefully tonight will be better.

ash_baby: amen

ash_baby: i cant believe I’m doing this, lol

Jhg2003: Doing what? We’re just hanging out.

ash_baby: but we met on craigslist

ash_baby: so tacky

Jhg2003: We don’t have to tell anyone that part.

ash_baby: lol!

Jhg2003: Meet you in an hour?

ash_baby: wait

ash_baby: before we cross this line

ash_baby: (which is a terrible idea btw)

ash_baby: i feel like we need to know names

Jgh2003: John Gerbino.

ash_baby: ashley martin

ash_baby: actually never mind

ash_baby: that’s not my name

ash_baby: my real name is rachel goldman

ash_baby: old habits die hard

Jhg2003: I like that one better.

ash_baby: aw thanks.

Jhg2003: you’re welcome, Rachel. See you soon.


Ashley <> wrote:

way to stand me up.. where were you?


Ashley <> wrote:

all quiet on the western front?


ash_baby: hey

ash_baby: you’ve probably been busy and stuff

ash_baby: i just wanted to say what’s up

Jhg2003: Who is this?

ash_baby: um… rachel

Jhg2003: How do we know you?

ash_baby: is this John?

Jhg2003: No, this is Helen, his wife.

ash_baby has signed off


Ashley <> wrote:

jhg, “john and helen gerbino” you fucking ASSHOLE



Indulge my fetish and I will $$ indulge $$ you… – m4w – 35

I am a successful DR living comfortably on the East Side and looking for a cute, kinky girl to spoil.

We can meet at a Starbucks and talk and laugh for awhile. Please be a spitfire – witty, challenging, make me think. Then you’ll go to the bathroom and take off your panties and give them to me.
Then if you want we can go back to my office, and anything that happens beyond what I’ve already said is between 2 consenting adults.

I am 6’1”, fit (if that doesn’t sound too cocky) VERY generous and disease free. Please be under 120 lbs, fit and disease free as well. Preferably blonde. 

Hope you’re out there.