In Queens, on my way to the train, I swipe my Metrocard at the turnstile. I go through, just like I have a million times before. I’m halfway up the stairs when I hear someone yell, “Hey!”
My stomach drops at the sight of the cop staring at me.
The Long Way Home
Isabelle and Ruth find more than just a shortcut through the woods on a walk home from school.
"HOW CAN I BE CALM WHEN MY WHOLE SKIN IS OUTSIDE"
like my dreams
are all behind me
"so now is when I stab him?
when do I stab him them
there’s no part
where you stab them"
Heterosexuality In Action
1949: Water ballet (Patricia Cunningham, IN).
1955: Comic monologue of a novice golfer titled “What Do I Do Now, Mr. McLeod?” (Beth Andre, AZ); speech on how to pack a suitcase (Carol Jennette, MD).
1956: Dramatic sketch titled “A Dream: Faith Over Atheistic Sciences” (Joan Beckett, CA).
1957: Organ medley including “Tea for Two” (Marilyn Van Derbur, CO); rodeo exhibition (June Prichard, TX); trampoline and tumbling to the theme from The Third Man (Amanda Whitman, TN).
1959: Original dramatic interpretation of a beatnik (Beverly Ann Domareki, NJ); vocal impersonation of Maurice Chevalier (Elizabeth Holmes, NY); speech on fashion designing and tractor driving (Diana Klug, CT); character dance to “Tequila” (Jacqueline Winterrose, UT).
1960: Impression of a young hillbilly girl at a major league baseball game (Ann Susan Barber, NJ).
1961: Tap dance to recorded version of her own voice singing “Somebody Loves Me” (Maria Fletcher, NC); dramatic reading of “The Yellow Wallpaper” (LaVerda Garrison, ID); dramatic interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount (Karen Scalise, CT).
1965: Dramatic reading of “The Hazards of Nuclear Fallout” (Mabel Bendiksen, MA).
1966: Original song titled “I’m in a Pageant!” (Vicki Hurd, TN).
1969: Original comedy monologue titled “Interview with Cleopatra, Shirley Temple and Tiny Tim” (Kathleen Ennis, AZ); acrobatic ballet to theme from Exodus (Marilyn Allen, AR).
1973: Ballet roller skating to Swan Lake (Ellen Meade, FL).
1974: Gymnastics dance to the theme from Midnight Cowboy (Cynthia Erb, NH).
1976: Vibes solo of “Bandstand Boogie” (Karen Land, CO); organ medley including “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (Theme From the Coke Commercial)” (RaNae Peterson, ID).
1977: The theme from The Beverly Hillbillies on banjo (Julie Houston, AL).
1981: Ventriloquist interpretation of Laverne & Shirley (Angelina Johnson, TN).
1982: Rifle-twirling routine to a Herzegovinian March (Laura Matthys, OR); baton twirling to theme from Magnum, P.I. (Gale Lee Thomas, HI); gymnastics dance to the theme from CHiPs (Jill Qyckoff, VT).
1987: Marimba interpretation of “Hava Nagila” (Aurelie McCarthy, MA).
1989: Freestyle rollerskating to “Amazing Grace” (Tammy Kettunen, AZ).
1992: Flute Solo of the theme from Star Wars (Shannon Boy, AR).
1993: Flute solo of “Dueling Banjos” (Elizabeth Mosely, OK); character ballet to “Turkey in the Straw” (Lisa Michelle Duncan, CA).
1995: Vocal and puppetry to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King (Amy Ciccolella, CO).
1998: Acro-jazz dance to the “Stampede!” from The Lion King (Stephanie Stanley, ME); “Yankee Doodle” on electric violin (Katie Millar, UT).
2007: Irish step dance to “Dueling Violins” and “Footloose” (Maggie Ireland, CO).
2010: Clogging to “Soul Man” (Adrienne Core, NC); ventriloquism/vocal “I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (Alyse Eady, AR); tap dance to “9 to 5” (Melaina Shipwash, CO).
2011: Jump rope routine to theme from Hawaii Five-O (Lauren Cheape, HI); ballet en pointe to the theme from Superman (Katharyn Nicolle, NJ).
Previously: Your 2021 Miss America Baby Name Guide.
Sarah Marshall would probably make a list as her talent if she ever competed at Miss America, or maybe organize a closet a la Corky Sherwood.
no, we mustn't kiss again
Charles kissed someone and look what happened to him
Charles died of fever
just to be safe
we should never kiss again
…and maybe of all time, at least in quantitative terms. In the New York Times Magazine, 4/10/2016:
An article on March 20 about wave piloting in the Marshall Islands misstated the number of possible paths that could be navigated without instruments among the 34 islands and atolls of the Marshall Islands. It is 561, not a trillion trillion.
A trillion trillion is presumably 1024, and 561 is 5.61 x 102, so the original number was off by a factor of about 1.78 x 1022, which is more than a thousand times greater than the estimated number of grains of sand in all the beaches and deserts of planet earth.
The obligatory screen shot:
I don't know how either the original number or the revised number were calculated. One hypothesis might start with 34!, which is about 2.952328e+38, but that seems too big even for the version of trillion that makes it 1018 rather than 1012. And (34^2)/2 is 578, not 561. Ideas?
[h/t John Burke]
TOO MANY PUNS AT ONCE
In 2007, contractor Bob Kinghorn pulled a mummified baby from the floorboards of a home in East Toronto. The baby was wrapped in newsprint dated September 12, 1925, and when Kinghorn unwittingly unswaddled the baby, he was furious. “No! No! No! I got mad, threw off my headgear, kicked something and bounced out of the house,” Kinghorn told CBC news. “My first thought was murder. I thought: How could you do that? You sons of bitches!” Five years later, the police are still unable to determine the so-called Baby Kyntre’s cause of death.
Also in 2007, a woman in Florida discovered a mummified child in an old suitcase in her parents’ long-forgotten storage locker. The baby was wrapped in newspaper from January 9, 1957, and in a pair of black nylon pants. According to the police, the baby boy still had his hair and umbilical cord. Next to the child were a black-and-white picture of a not-quite-10-year-old girl and a tiny box holding a rosary and religious cards. University of Florida forensic anthropologist Anthony Falsetti told CNN, “And for whatever reason, [the parents] could not part with the individual.”
Mummified children collect dust in corners filled with lathe and plaster, in attic boxes, in suitcases, and, although I know it sounds fantastic, in and mothers’ wombs. Here are five such cases.
Birthing modern forensic entomology. In 1850, a mummified baby tumbled out from between the walls of a Parisian apartment. The couple who discovered it had been doing renovations and were immediately suspected in the infant’s death. Dr. Marcel Bereget, who studied the changes in corpses after burial, used flies to determine the time of death and exonerated the couple. (This was before HMOs, so doctors had time to do that sort of thing.) This was the first case in France involving forensic entomology. Which alone wouldn’t be strange, but, 28 years later, the second case of French forensic entomology would also involve the mummified remains of a baby girl. That case was investigated by Edmond Perrier Megnin, a pathologist who worked at the Natural History Museum. His hobby was recording the distinct stages of necrophilious insect infestations. He used mites to determine that the mummified infant had died seven months prior to its discovery. (Although a paper published in 2009 in Experimental and Applied Acarology suggests that Megnin’s timeline was faulty, and that the child actually died eight months prior to its discovery.)
Baby John. For decades a family in Concord, New Hampshire, has passed down a haunting heirloom, the mummified remains of Baby John. Charles Peavey, the infant’s owner, if infants can be said to have such things, fought for a year to reclaim Baby John, but gave up in 2007 after declaring that the $1,000 DNA test required to prove he was indeed the infant’s relative was too much to raise. The police took custody of Baby John when a photo surfaced of the dead infant in a cradle next to Peavey’s great-nephew. The police sought to determine a cause of death and would only release the infant to a relative after ruling out foul play. A New Hampshire news outlet reported that the baby was kept on a dresser, and that many of Peavey’s relatives had been photographed next to the mummy — a family joke, of sorts. The legend holds that the child was the illegitimate son of Peavey’s great-great uncle. But that mystery may never be solved; after being buried in 2008, in 2010 Baby John was stolen from his grave and remains missing.
Stone child. While she was in labor with her first child, Zahra Aboutalib was told she had to have a cesarean section. It was 1955 in a small village outside of Casablanca, Morocco, and when Zahra heard the news, she fled from the hospital in terror. A few days later, her labor pains subsided and Zahra believed that her child had become a “sleeping baby.” In Moroccan culture, a “sleeping baby” lives inside its mother, protecting her from harm. And, for 46 years, Zahra’s child “slept,” until one day she began to have severe stomach pains. An X-ray revealed that her child had mummified within her womb. Stone children, or Lithopedion babies, are a rare but medically documented occurrence. Ambrose Pare, a medieval doctor and the author of Monsters and Marvels, attributed this phenomena to a narrow womb or when the womb is “ample enough,” as a result of the mother crossing her legs too much during pregnancy.
The Lost Girls. While rifling through an ancient trunk abandoned in the Glen-Donald apartment building in Los Angeles, Gloria Gomez discovered a crystal bowl, a copy of Peter Pan, and the mummified bodies of two infant girls. The trunk belonged to a woman named Janet M. Barrie, who’d emigrated from Scotland to Canada when she was only four. Among Barrie’s possessions, police discovered a membership to the Peter Pan Woodland Club, a resort in Big Bear, California. Despite the fact that Barrie shared a last name and first initials with Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, the police ruled out a direct link with the author. Barrie, the author, died in 1937, when Janet, the presumed mother, was 40. His play about a little boy who refused to grow up was first staged in 1904.
In the walls, again. As Deena Roberts showed an electrician around her house, she noticed something she had never seen before: a small door behind a crawl space in the attic. She opened the door and saw a plastic bag, which contained the bodies of three children wrapped tightly in old sheets and towels. The babies’ remains were determined to be between 30-40 years old at the time of discovery, and DNA evidence shows that they were the children of the original owners of the home, James and Doris Bowling. The Bowlings had three surviving children — two daughters, who claim they had never heard of their lost siblings — and a brother, whom the police still have yet to locate. Until they can find him, the case of these three babies buried in the walls remains a cold case.
I can get a little giddy reflecting on all the times I have taken the opportunity
To explain things with history.
But today I must soberly discuss how unfortunate
It is that Trump’s popularity brings to the fore just how many men present
Their misogyny in a way reflects how grossly uneducated
Yesterday, you had a bird open up his ass on your head. Rude! And disgusting. This has never happened to you before, ever, and you hope it never again does, until the end of time. Like a normal human being, after this happened, and after you went running back to work to wash up before making the half-hour walk home, you immediately thought to yourself, “What could be more embarrassing than this?”
1. Your mom comes running down into the grade-eight band room in the middle of rehearsal and yells, “NATTY WATTYYY! I’ll be outside in the parking lot.”
You forever hate when people call you that.
2. The first time you take the city bus, you don’t know that you have to step down the steps to get the back door to open. You just stand there, looking perplexed and terrified while people yell at you. You think they are yelling “SIT DOWN!!!” So you do, dejectedly, not knowing how to get off the goddamn bus and go home. Turns out they are saying “STEP DOWN.”
Your hearing has only gotten worse since.
3. The time you get your period while driving to a yoga class. You are wearing light gray tights, and it is maybe the only time there is a disproportionately larger amount of men to women there. Also, you are supposed to be the teacher for that class.
4. The time you are makin’ time with a gentledude in the shower, but then, again! Your period shows up to crash the party. Not to be outdone, you also later get dizzy, almost pass out, and have to sit down in the shower. But because he is a gentleman, he sits down with you.
That last part is actually very sweet and endearing, even if it does kind of remind you of the scene from Bond where the chick sits down and cries in the shower while Daniel Craig holds her, except you’re neither fully clothed nor crying.
You like him a lot for doing that, the gentledude that is, but also Daniel Craig.
5. The first time you get really, stupidly drunk, and remember absolutely nothing. Your roommates on the other hand, remember everything. You wake up to find a garbage pail beside your bed, and you wonder how and why it got there. Everyone living in the barracks with you is surprised to see you alive and chipper the next morning. They say with bewilderment, “You mean you DON’T remember???” You don’t. Not any of it. And you feel fine. Apparently, you had gotten wobbly, so they put you to bed. But then you kept getting out of bed and threw up all over the hallway, the bathroom, other people’s rooms, etc. They said this happened half a dozen times. You sort of think they’re making this up, but then all 34 people confirm the same story.
6. You’re on a first date with a guy, and it’s going really well. You had been walking around outside for a while, though, and it is a cold night. You have really, really, probably-shouldn’t-be-human poor circulation, and when your hands get cold enough, you sometimes lose the use of them. As in, they kind of stop functioning in a normal way. You go to use a washroom, but because your hands are so cold, you are then not able to do your pants back up. You spend probably upward of 20 minutes in the washroom, desperately trying to grasp the top button on your jeans. As this is happening, you are fully aware that you have been in there for a suspiciously long time, and are mortified that your date probably thinks you:
a) ran away
b) are completely evacuating your bowels
c) were kidnapped by washroom ninjas
None of these are good options. So you casually stroll back out once your pants are safely back on, and just say, “Sorry, that took a lot longer than it should have. I feel it’s important to tell you that I wasn’t taking a massive dump.”
You explain the hands-of-death situation, and he still goes on more dates with you.
7. You are maybe eight years old. You go to a slumber party at a popular girl’s house. Your parents are maybe closet hippies and teach you things like “your body needs to breathe at night,” so you don’t wear underwear or pants with your oversized t-shirt pajamas. They neglect to mention this is something you should only do in the privacy of your own home. The other girls notice this and spend all night and the next morning teasing you and running over to pull your t-shirt up. The girl’s mom eventually gives you pajama bottoms so that they will stop.
As an adult, you feel most comfortable sleeping au naturelle. Fuck pajama bottoms.
8. You’re out with girl friends, and you get pretty drunk (surprise!?). You spend some time talking with a generically attractive guy who is a friend of a friend of a somethingface or whatever. Feeling brave and not at all like your decisions are influenced, you ask the guy to dance. His friends who are standing beside him let you know that there is no dance floor. You look around, and turns out they are right.
Undeterred, you are also feeling lonely and like you want some kind of intimacy, like you just want someone to touch you in a caring way. So when one of your girl friends, who is also drunk, suggests you ask generically attractive guy to go home with you, you think “Great idea!” It was not. He shoots you down, thankfully. You go home, become ill, and throw up for a few hours.
9. You are getting busy with a man friend for the first time since it happened, and you suddenly you have to tell him to stop, because you are scared, because you remember. He does, but you’ve already been pulled into the memory of the time when a guy didn’t stop. When you prayed it would be over quickly, and you hated yourself for it. You know that you’re not still in that moment, but you feel it all over again, and you start to cry hysterically. He holds you, lets you cry, and he is the first person you tell everything to.
10. Every time you are intimate with a guy, and again you remember, and they leave you there in the bed, crying. They not kindly tell you to get it sorted out, and to go to therapy. You feel like a leper. No one wants to touch someone like you.
11. Every time you cry in the years you spend in therapy.
12. Every time you sleep on your bathroom floor because you feel worthless, shattered, disposable, and like a piece of rubbish.
13. Every time you tell your mom that you’re okay, but you’re not. You sleep, at most, four hours, but sometimes not at all. You have become someone you don’t recognize. You isolate yourself from your friends, because you don’t want them to know, and you don’t want to have to lie. You lose a noticeable amount of weight, but most people compliment you for looking so skinny. You become unreliable, often having to cancel work. You are overly emotional, and start becoming weirdly paranoid about things. You are prone to violent outbursts in the privacy of your own home. One day you destroy your bathroom, ripping shelves off walls, smashing bottles, breaking everything within reach. You feel like a monster. You want him to see what he’s done. You want him to finish it.
14. The night you spend in the hospital, after swallowing a fistful of anti-anxiety meds that are not yours.
15. The time you are at a yoga workshop, and the teacher, who may just be an angel, or in the least, a completely wonderful human being, holds you in a yoga pose that makes you want to run and hide and move away as fast as possible from all the uncomfortable feelings and memories and things you wish weren’t a part of you. She tells you not to run, she tells you to stay with it, to sit with it, and that on the other side of fear is everything that you want. She tells you to let go, so you do.
There, in a room of 60+ people, in a yoga class being recorded for an audio CD, you full-on openly weep.
But suddenly you don’t feel embarrassed. You realize that all these things, all these moments that make you want to hide, or turn off, or appear cold and unmoved and unphased, all these memories that you wouldn’t wish on anyone else — they have taught you things you never would have realized without them. They have made you stronger, even if the process of getting to that end result was completely and inappropriately fucked up. You grew and changed and evolved and became a better, kinder, and more compassionate person because of it. And no one can ever take that from you. No one can ever hurt you with it, because it is yours to wear like armor. You know that even sometimes when you feel alone, lost, disposable, worthless — you are not. And you know that sometimes, shit happens. But hopefully, it doesn’t ever again happen on your head.
Natalie Bell went home and washed her hair three times, but was still paranoid that she could smell bird shit. She also took to heart the advice a dear friend gave her about writing when he said, “The only stories worth reading are the ones that are honest. Honest stories are sometimes stories that shouldn’t be written. The fact that they are is what makes them special.” But more on him later.
You are cordially invited to read more stories at nataliesianbell.blogspot.
"I’m witches, I’m too witches to come, sorry"
i don't know what you mean, Charles
that is the door
well it looks a hell of a lot like a window to me
darling i'm so sorry but if that won't open i'm afraid there's no other way to get inside
i came an awfully long way to see you
ahh i know it's so terrible but
nothing i can do about how windows are made