The Contributing Female strikes again…with holiday ideas that will save you a bundle!
Originally posted on The Lankville Daily News:
The holidays are here and they’re here to stay on your couch for a couple of days until things get better with the ol’ ball and chain. Did November kind of fly by and leave you hanging? You haven’t bought any gifts yet?! Not to worry! Here, I’ve provided some simple solutions for the last minute shopper on a shoestring budget.
Sure, everybody wants a “Reckoner”– who wouldn’t? But in lieu of the latest gizmos and gadgets which are great but expensive, show that special someone how much you care with the gift that keeps on giving: a package of used AAA batteries. Tell them “…it’s an investment that will grow over time.” They will wither with anticipation for Christmases to come. Be sure to include a homemade card! Wrap with festive newspaper and decorative hairbands.
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Devon Fick: “The Lankville Daily News is lusciously delighted beyond measure to welcome aboard new columnist Sarah Samways.” (Note: The feeling is mutual!)
Originally posted on The Lankville Daily News:
Sarah Samways is Lankville’s premier authority on economics. She is the Chief Probing Officer of the Quality Assuredness Department. She maintains an individual digital network station at sarahsamways.com
In this past quarter we’ve noticed a spike in washing tables, holding strong at 85%. 10% of the time is spent complaining about it, knowing full well that “ya do what ya gotta do,” “it could be worse,” “you’ve got a roof over your head and food in your belly” and “blindly accepting the status quo could just save your soul from a trip to a mental institution.” Ambition levels, on a separate scale, of course, are through the roof (this is a trend that despite time and life struggle variables seems to never really change, and in some cases, gets stronger). We call this the Hope Factor. This, when polling our focus group, just doesn’t seem to make any sense. Apparently…
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I wanted to repay the favor. Touching my now bandaged temple, I slowly arose from the frondescence beneath me…
“Frondescence?” Teenybopper asked skeptically.
“Frondescence. Yes, frondescence.” I agreed, dizzily.
I looked around me and found no one; my wrists and ankles had become free. Everything or nothing could be at risk if I just got up and left. If I just got up, split myself in two and let my adjacent parts flee in opposite directions. I could almost envision it, safety resided in running further into The Woods while at THE VERY SAME TIME running away from it. It was getting exhausting/interesting to exist in the presence of my ghosts. I blinked, blinked, blinked…and steadied myself upright. I took a few steps further into the brush.
“Where are you going? Why are you leaving?”
The Specialist had lingered around. He was leaning against the scratchy bark of a tree, quite comfortably. My feet guided me closer to Him. I wanted to repay the favor. I wanted to repay the favor so I slithered my tongue into His ear canal, reaching into His sequined brain. He writhed in pain, pleasure, and confusion.
“Why, why me…?!” He panted.
I had no answer for Him. I had no answer for myself. I was busy and it was a gut reaction. An interrupting, gruff voice in the distance asked if I had a boyfriend. I wanted to punch it in the face.
Recently, I have accumulated a “House Family” – here are some of my contributions to the household:
I had run out of places to hide in my apartment where Ol’ Bat and Teenybopper wouldn’t find me so I escaped to The Woods in order to find some sort of peace. This would prove a fruitless adventure since they knew me better than I knew myself and could accurately predict my next move before I did.
“We’ve got to call The Specialist!” cried Ol’ Bat as she tied my ankles together.
For an old loon she certainly had stamina and a terrifying upper body strength that was unmatched. She laughed at my feeble attempts to kick her as I lay on the damp earth. Teenybopper, meanwhile, was holding my arms down firmly as per Ol’ Bat’s request. Screaming wasn’t worth anything here, I had traveled so deep into The Woods that I knew no one would hear me so I let my eyes water, salting my face silently. Next to be tied were my wrists. With a heave and a ho, I was dragged further into The Woods and into a part that I hadn’t traversed before. Ol’ Bat seemed to know it well.
We had reached a clearing; sunshine pleasantly kissed my skin. Fallen foliage and pebbled dirt cluttered my hair and twigs had cut my arms and legs. The glorious smoky smell of a bonfire lingered in my nostrils but I had yet to actually see one. I felt His presence before I could even turn my head for visual confirmation.
“My, look at those goosebumps!” bellowed The Specialist.
He made his way towards me, his physician’s coat gleaming bright in the midday sun. He carried a large leather doctor’s bag, a stethoscope peaked just out of the corner. He kneeled down, we met eye to eye, and checked my vitals. As He pulled out different instruments the bag’s bottom had become more obvious and I noticed a yellow patch of something I couldn’t quite identify as it was just out of my line of vision. Ol’ Bat looked on, nodding, as if she knew the score already. Teenybopper was off sitting under a willow tree, reading a textbook with pretty pictures in it.
The Specialist put a gentle hand to my clammy head.
“I want things to become a little clearer for you. You’ve been distressed for too long, and I have too. I want you to know that you are an important and integral part to all of this. You, my dear, are a strange case but one that has revived something within The Code…” He said, trailing off.
I didn’t know what say. I could see His heart beating through his coat, it was the color of deep crimson. I looked to Teenybopper. Stoically she met my gaze and held up a page in her textbook, a color photograph of The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.
“Isn’t that a little heavy-handed?” I asked, a little exasperated.
Teenybopper shrugged. She didn’t care. She went back to looking at the pretty pictures.
“Look at me!” demanded The Specialist.
I whipped my head back to face him. He hovered over me, his breath was hot on my neck. In his hand was a banana, (the yellow patch from his bag). He tapped the side of my skull with a rough index finger.
“X marks the spot!” he whispered in my ear.
Just then I felt a searing pain in my temple, it felt like my insides were melting. I could feel a cold breeze go right through me, my vision was hazy. I looked up and found The Specialist on top of me, a bloody banana raised towards the sky. Absolutely breathless, I watched the banana come in for a second landing. Finally Teenybopper was taking some interest as she became fascinated with The Specialist as he thrusted the banana iiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnn and ooooooouuuuutttt of my skull.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. I accepted my “defeat” with aplomb.
At approximately 1700 hours, on the date of December 8th, 2014, I was held at knife point by my oppressors and I had reached my breaking point. I was being held captive at a station where money and “points” were being exchanged for goods and nourishment. I, a veteran of such official missions, have been told on many occasion that I can handle anything and that I have “the patience of a saint.” I am overqualified for the things I do and the things I have done but I realize my position in this world – I AM NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. But I hold firm in my experience and gladly accept uniforms of changing colors and rank, my stipend increases with time and incentives. I am the strong and silent type.
That being said, I feel my capacity for towing the line growing exceedingly thin as time goes on. This worries me! Even as my oppressors taunt me and try to steal bags of potatoes, my resolve should always be to travel to The Woods. Every time I dare travel there however, something has changed in my absence – most recently, a small wildfire had crept its way in and is slowly setting flame to everything I care about. I don’t know what’s real anymore.
My platoon consists of both the young and the old. Of the young, I don’t have much to say – they might just make it out of here alive. My older comrades are more sympathetic to my plight, (they’ve only survived here out of pure necessity), and I often rely on their ears. When our oppressors throw cherry bombs at us and flick their tongues at the cost of goods at the general store, I look towards a comrade:
“What are they rebelling against? There are rules in place so it will be beneficial to all! Why bite the hand that feeds? I am but a cog in the machine but I’m not coin-operated! Blood runs through my veins, not oil! When I was in their position, momentarily, I had a choice between literature and nourishment and I always choose literature for that, I felt was my nourishment. It’s all very stupid now, but that’s what I thought! I lived in a tall, gray tower in a cold, gray city, hoping I could accomplish something. But these captors, I speak on behalf of some but not all, are spoiled and have no concept of empathy! They will grow to be the people who put their families in nursing homes and forget all about them as they launch healthy graphic design armies!”
My comrade put a hand on my shoulder. That was all I needed. A resurgence of strength took over and I grabbed the knife held against my throat out of my captor’s hand. My oppressors were scared now as I took a long look at the shiny blade. I threw it in the garbage. The war was over, for now. I removed myself from the station, stepping off of its platform, for a bit – I was laughing, my hands were shaking. I walked it off, because I’m a professional.
“I remember a time when I spent my nights deciphering The Code and declining invitations to tea with wealthy gentlemen…” continued Ol’ Bat.
The sock had been replaced with a shoe because it had melted. This wasn’t very effective and I spat it out but no one really seemed to care. Teenybopper was pacing the floor.
“How did you get out of The Bubble?” Teenybopper asked, cutting to the chase.
“When I realized that my parts were completely capable of Life!”
Teenybopper nodded. This made sense.
“…And when people were swarming the streets I realized that chaos abounds and is continuously cycling. Death travels to your doorstep and its pigments are swept under your very own rug!”
Ol’ Bat spilled some blood and actually made a compassionate gesture towards Teenybopper, caressing her forearm.
“But you have to forgive yourself eventually…it takes time. It’s very easy to get caught up in The Bubble, it’s an attractive space whose depths have unlimited potential. You have to take time to breathe the air outside every once in awhile though and use your powers for good.”
“Why must we live so tragically? I mean, what’s the deal?” I asked no one in particular.
I looked at my hands. I made a few phone calls that went unanswered. There was a commotion this morning about a missing feline, I think. The suspect was found napping in a warm blanket. But that wasn’t what was killing me…What happened last night? We were conversing about receiving smoke signals from a phantom world…My memory had been clear rung out to dry! Perhaps I would never know.
I went to a plastic covered window to see if I could make out any detail of light or environment. In the cold December air a large fly had managed its way inside. It buzzed, buzzed, buzzed…
“What are you doing here?!” I screamed at the intruder.
I began to cry. Why is it so easy to forgive others yet so hard to forgive oneself?
A message from the gods rang loudly via my transmitter:
You feel asleep at a table.
Praise be to angels!
“I suppose it has been awhile since we last played a good ol’ game ah poker…” said Ol’ Bat, acknowledging the teenybopper in the room.
The teenybopper was obviously distressed and wanted to talk about a ghost prince that would never come but even she could recognize what an old tune that was getting to be. The two of them had tied me to a chair now; I was chomping down on an old sock. Strawberry flavored!
At this point of my life, I had to realize that Ol’ Bat wasn’t so much of an intruder than a habitual eccentric come to kook-ify my otherwise gray existence. The fact that she had an accomplice now only meant that I had another friend. Two, if you’re keeping track! Anyways…
“Urgh, I’m so bored! How do you play? I forget…” whined the teenybopper.
She sighed. We all sighed. We will forever be sighing.
“Pay attention,” Ol’ Bat said with patience, “you take the deck and you spill all the cards onto the table. You cut the deck in half and distribute them evenly between you and your opponent. You smack your opponent in the face as they go to collect their bounty and then steal their half of the deck back. Make sure to finger wag!”
She illustrated the motion.
“You take the deck and throw all the cards into a paper shredder. You get another deck of cards in the meantime. Draw Xs on very particular cards of your choosing, ’bout nine will do it. Then hide them amongst your person. After the old deck is all done being shredded, collect the pieces and throw them on top of the new deck…”
I was taking notes in my head. Maybe we would play one day (?) The teenybopper was looking at me with compassion, I think.
“Do you show your cards or not?!” said the teenybopper, getting impatient too quickly.
Ol’ Bat laughed.
“I say show ‘em! Life is too short and boring without ‘em! They all end up in somebody’s garbage the next day anyway! Besides, you have to fascinate your opponent with glitter…a little razzle dazzle. They’ll look great all lit up! You have to realize that you have more power than your opponent will lead you to believe. We’ve all seen you die again and again, now you must persevere with strength, with or without an audience. Know that you can kill just as well as you can be killed.”
Everything went numb as I felt a sort of togetherness with my captors.
“I don’t really think we’re playing poker…” the teenybopper said, feeling a lesson coming on.
“No, and I suppose we never will.”