05/1/13

congratulations on my new job.

I got a job as a server in the dining room of a retirement home. They make me wear black pants and shoes. I bought the whole outfit in the men’s section at Target, because who gives a fuck what I look like? The shoes are excellent except there’s something about the shape of them that makes me trip over my right big toe often and without warning, and every time is a little more perilous than the last. I feel like the shoes are cursed and something really bad is going to happen, but it’s probably just that I’m humiliated about my job and my pathetic station in life.

The old ladies think I’m some kind of big blonde giant lumbering toward them, and they’re all spellbound by my name, which I guess is more modern than I thought. You would think that old people would be more aware of things in life instead of less, but that’s not the case. Like, you’d think that they might have met at the very least a little dog named Molly in their 70+ years on this planet, but no. I tell them that I’m named after my great Aunt Mary, that historically Molly is a nickname for Mary, and it’s as if I told them we’re all going to start tasting with our feet from now on like butterflies.

The thing about being old is that you can’t remember anything. The old ladies hang out together and help remember each other’s orders. (“What is that thing I like?” “You like honey mustard. You like honey mustard so much.”) Here’s an example of a hilarious conversation I overheard in the dining room.

Joan: I’ll go grab your walker.
Ester: I don’t have a walker.
Joan: I’m pretty sure you have a walker.
Ester: I really don’t think I have one.
Joan: This is your walker.
Ester: Are you sure?
Joan: I’m pretty sure.
Ester: I really don’t think I have a walker.

They went back and forth like this for a pretty long time. The exchange felt comfortable and laid back, like the ladies were old friends.  The story ends with Ester wheeling herself out of the dining room, all the while convinced that the walker in her hands didn’t belong to her.

If I’m making it sound like I hate these people, that’s not the case. A few of them are assholes, but most of them are kind, beautiful snowflakes and it gives me genuine pleasure to bring them extra napkins when they ask for them. I have a particular fondness for old people because they’re such misfits. They’re complete fucking messes and everybody can tell. If I have any regrets about the job, it’s that I’m bummed out that I’m a terrific writer with a master’s degree, 60+ publications, 2+ years of teaching experience, I’m 31 years old, and the only job I could find in Seattle after months of tireless searching is working in an old folk’s home for $9.50 an hour. It’s embarrassing because I’m sure the world expected more out of me, but then again, does it really matter? You get up, you go to work, you come home, you go to bed. There’s more to life than a little bit of money, you know. Whatever, I’m sorry. I’ll keep trying.

I have a story at Spork Press called “Black Dog, White Rhino.” If you read that and you’re champing at the bit for more, the protagonist continues her sad life in another story on Monkeybicycle from last year called “What People Without Jesus Do.”

Thanks for reading! Also, am I boring you? What do you think I should write about? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don’t really get this website or what it’s supposed to be about or why I’m writing it.

04/21/13

two short stories.


1.

I thought I wasn’t going to see my ex boyfriend when I went back to Montana, but that turned out to be wrong. He picked me up in the Orange Street Food Farm parking lot in the dead of night after all the bars were closed. Everything he owned was piled up in the backseat. It was snowing and I didn’t know where he was taking me. He told me I looked pretty in a soft and unfamiliar voice and I knew I was doomed.

The next morning, a couple of old men called my ex boyfriend about the moose antlers he had for sale on craigslist. We got in the $300 silver Subaru we bought together in November and drove to the old Walmart off of Brooks to rondevu with one of the old men. I thought the old man wanted to buy the moose antlers so he could display them on his wall as though he’d killed the moose himself, and it seemed pretty weird and sad, but again I had the wrong idea. It turns out you can make chandeliers and lamps out of the material, and Montanans go fucking wild for creepy antler crafts. My ex boyfriend sold the moose antlers along with a set of elk antlers for $50, but the man said they were worth twice that. My ex boyfriend knows about a place where there are 15 or 16 elk antlers just lying around, and the old man said he would be very interested in that.  Elk antlers go for $8 a pound. I think the elk’s life is worth more, but no one cares, so it isn't.

We’d shared a two bedroom house together on the Westside for four earth-shattering months, but it ended pretty swiftly when I absconded to Seattle under the cloak of night in January. I was thinking that I still loved him, and it was a feeling like if stabbing were something that felt good and people were into.

There was no traffic on the street and the mountains looked cold and right on top of us. we were headed back to his friend’s house to hang out and pass the time until the next thing.

“What happened to my bike?” I asked. We both pictured the black frame and the gold rims. The gears didn’t work so it was a pretty shitty bike, but still it was all I had and I wanted to take it back to Seattle. Nobody thought I'd be back for it; he'd thrown it away or it had been stolen. The bike was long gone and it made me feel tired. With regards to the bike situation, I was back to square one.

2.

The newspaper sent me to review the film adaptation of On the Road. I was glad because I love money, but I never liked the book, and the guy who just dumped me loves it, so it was a mixed bag I guess. I saw the one o' clock showing alone in a mostly empty theater on a rainy Thursday in Seattle. The movie made me think a lot about my life because it’s a dreamy story about writers who don't have jobs and like to get fucked up. The character's don't know they're going to become famous and then die of alcoholism anyway; it's depressing. When I got off the bus on Lake City Way I felt like I was someone else. I felt as though someone had stepped into my body and was taking over, but it's always just me.

A man leaning against the wall near the Value Village called out to me and I walked toward him. He wanted me to sit down and hang out. It seemed like it would make him happy so I agreed. A second mad person approached us, a woman this time. She said she found the man I was sitting next to attractive. If you looked closely you could see that he'd been handsome once, but now he went on and on about a divorce that could have happened last week or never, and it showed.

The lady said I was okay-looking too but she assured me she wasn’t a lesbian. I said I didn’t care. She got a little graphic about what she wanted to do to the guy. Her and the man bickered and I couldn’t figure out whether they’d met before this moment or not. They were like crazy hounds circling each other and sniffing.

The woman opened her backpack and showed us a bunch of pills. She kept waving around the bottles, saying, “Social Security gives me all these pills with the money but I don’t take them.” She really wanted to unload all these pills on me. There were white oval pills and round orange ones. I held out my hand and said, “No, don’t," and then I put the pills in the front pocket of my backpack.  I was trying to get her to show me the labels on the bottles so we knew what we were dealing with here, but she kept flirting with the man and I couldn't get her attention.

The lady pulled out a third bottle and turned it around magically in her hands. I could see by the look in her eyes that the third bottle of pills meant something. A few hours earlier, my roommate had given me a mini bottle of cinnamon flavored whiskey. He said to me, “Use this when the time is right.” Long story short, I traded the mini bottle for a handful of pills from a woman with wild hair and broken glasses.

The man had his own agenda but lord knows what that was. He wanted to go find weed. I said it seemed like a good time, but we were strangers on a city street corner in a shitty part of Seattle, and even though that sounds like a recipe for finding drugs, you’d be surprised how helpless you really are when the time comes. I just wanted to go home and look up what the pills were on the internet. Every pill comes with a unique number and letter, so anything you find in a change purse or buried in the carpet can be identified. It’s as if the drug companies knew what they were doing.

The man followed me down the street for a few blocks. I had a few hundred dollars in my wallet for rent, but his puppy-like energy suggested he didn’t have much power inside of him for violence and I wasn’t afraid. He followed me for a while and then I dodged him in a complicated move involving a grocery store restroom. The other pills turned out to be Lexapro and some kind of stomach ulcer medication, so not worth much, but the muscle relaxers are nice for going to sleep at night.

Do you think you're better than me? We’re exactly the same. On you it just looks a little different.

12/23/12

words are spells.

mollylaich.com, both the website and the girl, need a little alone time. we’re expecting a full recovery in 2013. (maybe even before; I might want to tell you what movies I hated this year. I know. season your admiration.)

Meanwhile, I love self help/hippy spiritual books, and I’ve been reading one in particular called The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Luiz. Just do what he says and you’ll be happy, okay? The four agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

Here’s a succinct explanation of number four, from toltecspirit.com:

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Here’s a passage from an as yet unpublished story I wrote back in 2010 called “Get Well Soon.”

The nurse wrote a recommendation for her to see the psychopharmacologist across the hall, where they would do their best to help her. He thought about how that’s all anyone can ever do: their best. He thought about it the whole way home, driving in his car: “We want to do our best.” It’s not enough to want to do your best. You have to know what that means, and the definition always changes. Your best might not be someone else’s, and so on. He didn’t think it was likely that Emma would get better.

Eh. I was startled at first, but maybe it’s not actually that similar. I’ve just always felt that when I’m writing—when I’ve caught a current and I feel like I’m really nailing down what I want to say—it’s not coming from me. It’s coming from the little boy who lives inside my mouth! i.e. the netherworld. You’ve written about things and then watched them come true, right?

Mostly I just wanted to say hello and please don’t forget about me. Here’s the second part of that paragraph. And do let me know if anyone is looking for an 8,000 word story about pain.

Some people just have a sunken in look to them, and they will always talk to you from that void. The nurse came home to an empty apartment and made sloppy Joes for himself and his neighbor, who wasn’t home and didn’t want one. He went to bed and had the same reoccurring dream, the one in the meadow with his favorite food: pancakes, drenched in syrup and stacked to the heavens.

I love you. Merry christmas.

12/13/11

a cry for help.*

Chin said he didn’t want to get married after all and Mae jumped out a seven-story window, still wearing her wedding dress. One shoe fell down. They were those high heels that wrap around ankles. Weird, right? How did it slip off? This man reached forward, suddenly. She hung in his arms alive while someone took pictures. Ethical question: should you save women from dying against their wishes? Suicide is often rash, even regrettable. Gifts can be returned. Cake, eaten anyway. DJ’s already paid; why not dance? What do we take into our next life? Tough call, I think.

*Who knows if it’s a cry for help. I think she probably meant it. Her expression gives nothing away, which only adds to the horror. Like any sane person who’s seen it, this image affected me and I wanted to write a corresponding story. I read about this writing contest put on by an important magazine. The rules said to write a 30-300 word story where not a single word repeats. The contest has nothing to do with the picture. I mashed the two together, most obscenely, and anyway, I’m not entering this. That’s not the point. Without rules, this thing would have gone all over the place. The above piece is 99 non-repeating words, just like this bitch has 99 problems, but a loveless marriage aint one! LoLoLoL. I’m sorry.

06/20/11

Vanquish, OED definition = defeat thoroughly

I’ve been walking around with a worn, red copy of The Catcher in the Rye in my satchel for the last week or two, which is just, you know, not a recipe for happiness.

The book has changed for me some since I read it 100 times in high school, but not too much I guess. It’s a book of profound sadness, but there’s some levity. I think as a kid I took every scene deathly serious. I’ve been thinking about it in terms of my own novel. I want to write something “voice driven” (take a moment to puke and come back) and sad and breezy and interesting. In high school I sent a promise to my grown up self not to abandon me. I was a passionate, smart teenager, and I wanted literature that reflected that people like me existed to prove we weren’t all fucking morons who listened to bad music and feared authority. So I’ve toyed around with writing a novel from a 17-year-old girl’s perspective. But you know what, 17-year-old self? I don’t think I can do it. Sorry. I fear it will be too boring and painful, and I can’t slip into YA. That’s just something I cannot do at this time. Back to the drawing board.

Time out: click on the link under “small stories” and vote for mine at Snake Oil Cure. If you want. It’s called, “Bad Day.” I want to win for personal reasons. Personally, I like winning. :Time in.

One more thing about The Catcher in the Rye before moving on. This is for the search engines. Holden Caulfield is a 6 on the enneagram. He’s not a 4 or a 5 like I know you all want him to be. Look at the way he is simultaneously repelled and attracted to people, the way he roams the streets and is dying to have conversations with everybody. Look at how he thinks one thing about someone and says the exact opposite. At one point he says he’s “anxious as hell” or “nervous as hell” or something like that; I forget which. He’s insanely counter-phobic. Think about it.

And here’s one more thing for lazy high school English teachers. It’s neither insightful nor true to conclude that the big, take home point of the book is the paradox of Holden Caulfield claiming everyone is a phony whilst being a phony himself. Despising the piano player and simultaneously asking to have a drink with him isn’t phony. It’s psychologically honest. People live in contradictory states all day every day. Holden is sixteen and naive and displays age appropriate cynicism. He’s frustrated with retarded social conventions and who can blame him? Not this girl. 12 years since we first met, and I still want to marry Holden Caulfield and vanquish my illiterate enemies.

Enough.

I played terrible poker last night. I don’t know if you play, but it’s like this: sometimes you feel on, and sometimes you make a bet or check, and just a second after your brain says, “Why the fuck did I do that?” I mean, at one point I tried to bluff this dude out of $40 pots with $5 raises on the river. (For the uninitiated: that’s stupid. He would be insane not to call that. He was “pot committed.”) It’s embarrassing to play bad poker as a woman. It just reaffirms the other player’s beliefs about the fairer sex. Anyway, it was only by some miracle I didn’t bust out and managed to recoup my funds and break even. I won $41 dollars on my $40 investment and made a big drunk production about giving the dealer a shitty $1 tip. I can get real belligerent when I play poker, you might be surprised to learn.

What a game, what a game.

05/5/11

Excuse me, weather. I was told melting sun.

I can’t seem to keep a lid on anything. I don’t mean metaphorically, not like I can’t keep secrets, I mean on things like toothpaste and pill bottles. It’s the screwing I take issue with. It takes so long, and for what? Screwing a cap is as dumb as making a bed.

I concede, spillage sometimes occurs. Since I got a perscription I have never not accidentally knocked over my bottle of ambien, sending all the tiny little pills into the big box I keep my shoes in, but it’s a good thing. When I forget to fill the script, I can always find one errant pill buried in the carpet somewhere.

Further, men keep telling me something really bad is going to happen to my car as a result of my lost gas cap, but oh really? Like what, smarty pants? Not only is there a little door, there’s a metal sheeth keeping the gas inside, like an eyelid. Put a cap on your eyelids, men. Also, who ever fills their car more than halfway? No one I know. I only know writers. Anyway, I’m sure I’m wrong. I’m sorry. I’ll try to change.

Feeling blue, what else is new. A poet. I know it. The end of school, you know. My future is uncertain. I teach my last class tomorrow and then I’m out of a job. In retaliation I’ve decided to make a medical emergency out of my premenstrual symptoms. Sweatpants. Beer. Maybe I’ll eat a whole pizza later. I don’t know; I’m not a psychic.

My contributor’s issue of HOW Journal came in the mail today. My story is called “No Hands.” It’s about a tall girl who moves from Reseda, California to Medicine Hat, Alberta for an Internet boyfriend who turns out to be prohibitively fat. She meets a man with no hands, gets into other adventures, and comes to learn real values. I always knew the story was good structurally but I never really liked it. I didn’t like my protagonist. I thought she was rude and ungrateful, but now I feel like I’ve been too hard on her. I’d like to cautiously say that it’s a good story, and you should consider buying the journal. Do you know what HOW Journal stands for? Helping Orphans Worldwide, that’s what. Honestly, I’m not sure why you hate orphans. An excerpt:

God did that make me angry. How dare he mention my height? As though I were the freak. There were other concerns. Men are sick people. They have weird fetishes. There was this one guy—you wouldn’t believe what happened. I should have known when he called before our date and instructed me on what to wear: heels, a skirt. I feel like a man in a dress. Women are small. That’s why rappers call them shortys. I am something else. But he was handsome and I agreed. He invited me to lie down on his bed. He asked me to shut my eyes, that he had a surprise for me. Then he pulled out a tangle of ropes and tried to tie me to the bed. I saw a red camera light blinking on the bookshelf across the room. His breath was excited and shallow. The clincher: a worn copy of Gulliver’s Travels on the nightstand. I never told Orca how tall I was, and this allowed me to trust him. I did not trust Dylan.

This blog post is the first real thing I’ve written since my thesis reading. I would try to write and it was like my fingers got tangled together and I quit for fear of tripping. I still feel that way but I’m making myself do it anyway. Future, why you so scary?

Thanks for reading, friends. I mean it. We’ll be in touch.

 

04/18/11

remember when we were young?

Up at 4am again. waking up at 4am is the stupidest time to wake up. Why does this keep happening? Let’s not dwell I guess. I have a stack of papers in a box that follows me everywhere and I found a few yellowed pages I’ve been meaning to share. This is stuff I wrote when I was 18, 19, 20? 8-10 years ago. I was heavily influenced by Franz Kafka and this guy Stanley Donwood, who did Radiohead’s cover art. Good to see I was a weirdo even then. Here’s a couple little pieces and there are tons more. I was cute, eh? I haven’t changed much, really.


I Might Be Wrong

A man is chasing me down the street, armed with a deep rumbling voice and a small slip of paper. He screams that he's sure he's seen me somewhere before and would I please take a look at the bit of information contained on the slip. I scream back that he's a madman and press on. The man yells back that the information contained on this piece of paper is of the utmost importance and he's sure that I can confirm its meaning. His voice is so deep it makes the sidewalk shake in front of me and I begin to panic I won't be able to outrun the lunatic. I manage to duck into my building and seal the door shut just moments before the man catches up with me. Once safe inside my apartment, I collect my breath and puzzle over the inertia of my life and my uncanny ability to entangle myself in such ridiculous situations. Eventually I disrobe and settle in for an evening bath, fairly certain the incident won't someday return to haunt me.

 

The Habits of Vultures

I woke up one morning and noticed a vulture waiting at the edge of my bed. I was, naturally, rent with terror. The vulture shifted from foot to foot in a kind of bored anticipation. I dare not move. After several moments of getting to know each other, the vulture began waddling toward me with a hungry disposition and a ferocious will. I considered my options, and finding my limbs were inoperative, employed the "frozen in horror" strategy. (Perhaps his vision is dependent on motion sensory, I reasoned.) The vulture descended upon me with lightning fast reflexes, ripping apart the flesh on my face and hands with his sharp pointy beak. I began cursing myself for my ignorance on the habits of vultures. Next, he went for my eyes. I found I had a lot of regrets.

02/19/11

for the fun of it.

the bad food you eat when you’re poor
a cough that won’t go away
the kind of hopes
that get pinned on a lottery.
-David Lerner, his poem Satan After Hours

Woke up with this poem in my head, which is either an improvement or not from the thing that has woken me up the last few mornings (Destiny’s Child: Bills, Bills Bills) depending on how you look at life and art and aesthetics.  You’d think I was obsessed with money the way it keeps coming up, but I’m not. It’s more like a reoccurring dream that doesn’t mean anything, for example, that time I kept dreaming about Oysters and then a woman in a restaurant walked by with a plate of Oysters and I made everybody stop talking so I could blurt out, “Holy shit, I’m psychic!”

I don’t have anything to say today; I just want to talk. Lately it seems like I only ever update with an agenda. I’ve got my eyes on too many prizes. Got the publishing bug and every time my fingers hit the keyboard it’s “where can I send this?”

Stop being such a hollywood douchebag, Molly. Shut up and write for the fun of it.

I love college and Montana and my vagabond lifestyle, but I’ve got a little Senioritis. I feel impatient with the workshopping process and I keep doing really badly on quizzes in my undergraduate Shakespeare class. I hope I bounce back. Not to be wildly controversial or anything, but Hamlet is a really good play. In May I graduate and the world becomes a cruel, uncertain place again. When I think about it I feel a panic in my chest like something awful, like one of those sacred hearts that shoots out spikes of light that stab me. So let’s talk about something else.

Here’s that story I told you about on Thumbnail. I love the font. Seriously, I find the presentation amazingly beautiful, and I like this piece. I don’t know where it came from; a brief moment of honesty. I’d like to find it again sometime.

Taking a non fiction class – I don’t know what the fuck to write about. Memoir is not something I ever want to read ever so why would I ever write it? This blog is a memoir. Your mom is probably a memoir, not sure. My life has been insanely interesting and filled with adventures, that’s true, but does it really amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world? It might. So far I’ve written around 2,000 words about that time when I was 21 and two rambunctious boys lived at my house and we just hung out and played video games and smoked weed all the time, but with a secret purpose, maybe. So far the story lacks shape or purpose. I don’t know what to do about it.

What else? I dreamt my space heater set my student’s stories on fire. My coffee is cold. I’m sick of winter. Money.

01/20/11

Sorry for being weird.

I have a lot of regrets of course but mostly I just wish I wasn’t such a weirdo. No, really, I’m awkward as hell. I’m tall and gangly in a way that makes me not understand my body in space so I am always running into or falling over things. I am covered in bruises. I know all the wrong trivia facts and none of the right ones. When I go to parties or other events I have a hard time knowing where to place my hands or how to stand. Once I tried out a bunch of different ways to lean against a wall in what I hoped was a casual way, and I looked up to find the whole party had been watching me and laughing. I am like a little kid who thinks they are invisible when they put a lampshade over their head. Since I’m so weird I spend a lot of time ruminating over the last thing I said. I try to imagine someone saying that to me: would I think that was weird? Do they think I’m weird? Do I care? I just feel sorry for myself is all. It’s weird, being so weird.

“You just keep acting like a goddamn spook all the time, James.” -Wonderboys

Doubtless you remember my story “The Significance of the Bear,” from previous posts. You can find it here at Monkeybicycle.

And here’s a blog post I wrote for Thumbnail about writing called “Never any Money.” The message is that there’s no money in writing. There, that’s it, now you don’t have to read it.

Declared new years resolution: be less narcissistic = epic fail. Unspoken new years resolution: eliminate/severely limit use of the word “like” in both writing and speech = going a little better. That’s all kittens. I love you.

01/12/11

Housekeeping.

This website is useful to have. I think. (I don’t know why everybody doesn’t have a http://www.elaboratehomemadeshrinetoonesself.com) But I need to rethink some things. Really make it work for me. It’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity. For example, I have all these stories linked, and they’re cute, they’re fun, some of them are better than others, blah blah blah, but I get nervous about them being there. People will say to me, “hey, I read one of your old stories that you publicly link on your blog,” and my response is inevitably something along the lines of, “what are you, retarded? go read Proust.” So anyway, just putting that out there. Thinking about What Not to Wear, whathaveyou. What do you think, void? Do you have any opinions on the subject? What is this blog for? What should I be talking about?

Also, I started writing for this literary journal called “Thumbnail Magazine.” I linked to it on the side, designated helpfully by a “T” for… thumbnail would be my guess. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. I’ll be sure to link you to my more savory blog posts. Here’s one I wrote the other day called, 5 thing men say to women writers. The title is descriptive.

Um….
The Metro Times (a weekly periodical out of Detroit, what!) published this little flash fiction piece I wrote for them in their new years issue. Travis Wright, the editor, is one of my old workshop buddies and solicited me and a bunch of my other old workshop friends for the job. The piece doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s like when Andy Warhol would paint a can and be like “this is art” and mean it, but then other times he would paint a shoe and say “this is art” and not mean it, and then he’d say, “ha. you believed me. fucking morons.” Also, one of my old friends from detroit said that mine was an “MFA story” and I’ve sort of wanted to kill myself ever since. Actually, why am I not calling him out. Keith Bedore (his story also featured on this page, read it) said that. All vomit all the time, that’s Keith’s motto.

Wrote another little story for The Rumpus, here. You’ll really have to dig around to find it. My name is “Molly Laich,” if you forgot. I like this one a lot better. I think I had the wrong idea though; most of these other pieces are non fiction essay style. When in doubt, write veiled fiction about your friends doing drugs; that’s what I always say.

Oh, and do you know that I’ve had this website for like 2 years and have never bothered to post my email address anywhere? Think of all the book deals I didn’t get! anyway, it’s mollylaich at gmail dot com, email me! I added it to the “about molly” section for safe keeping.

Is that all? That’s all. Still have a week and a half before my last semester starts. God help us. And by us I mean “me.”