The Five Stages of Grief as Applied to Creative Writing

Denial

Having just completed a seemingly promising first draft, the patient begins the editing process with hope and misplaced confidence. Upon her first reread, she is struck with the creeping realization that this piece is a literal butt, but perhaps after a few hours and Red Bulls and shame cigarettes something beautiful will emerge?

Anger

The patient recalls the hours and dollars spent on her creative writing degree. “Those bastards swindled me,” she grumbles, shoving inspiration nachos into her gaping maw and picking furiously at a loose thread that had wriggled free after the cat decided to Mission Imclawsible across the underside of the couch which Amazon willfully neglected to mention would smell like an old yoga mat after being digested by a pitbull with IBS and then shat through a withering onion. “What a joke,” she hisses, smashing the backspace with a closed, clammy fist.

Bargaining

“Maybe it’s not so bad,” the patient whimpers as she trudges home from the corner store after all her cigarettes smoked themselves. “Maybe there are a few good nuggets in there that I can salvage, a joke or two?” From the street she glances hopefully up at her apartment window, the faint light of her laptop screen glowing ominously through the frosty glass. “I’ll send it to Mark, maybe he can help.” She forces a grin and walks inside.

Depression

World-weary under the weight of abject failure and a convention-sized portion of nachos, the patient lies face down on the bed. Her cat, taking pity on the wretched creature, nuzzles her neck like a manager gingerly patting the shoulder of the accountant who always cries at his desk. “Maybe I could volunteer with animals or something,” she wonders aloud, fingering a styrofoam container of soggy tortilla chips. “Maybe I should adopt a hedgehog?”

Acceptance

The patient drags her sweatpanted body from the bed with new life. “So what if it’s not perfect?” she says with rising confidence. “Do I have to be perfect? Is this an unreasonable standard of artistry?” She hops onto her laptop and clicks Send. “Fuck it. It’s submitted. Nothing I can do about it now,” she thinks with a smile. She totters away from her laptop in triumph, pausing in the hall. She bites her lip and picks at her cuticle, her eyes flitting across the desk strewn with mascara-blackened tissues and Slim Jim wrappers. The patient rushes to her inbox, which remains unchanged. “I should have removed that comma,” she sighs. “Do I still have that bottle of Jack?”

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A Patreon for a No-Name Blogger with Very Little to Offer in Return

Hello loyal readers/Aunts Kathy & Diana. Thank you for your continued support of my blog! I really appreciate you slogging through almost three years of stories about/reminiscent of turd to drive those traffic numbers up into the dozens. (There was that one dazzling epoch where my blog was the target of a bot-farm in Oregon, but they eventually abandoned me because my “relentless” thank you emails demonstrated I “didn’t understand the intended purpose of a bot-farm” and I was apparently not supposed to take their hits against my page as “a sign of encouragement”. Or something to that effect.)

In order to keep this blog a-rollin’ and give a little something back to my fans, I’ve started this Patreon. Any donation or sponsorship is deeply appreciated. I would be honored to receive your support.

What You’ll Get:

$1: I will visibly smile whenever I meet someone who has your name.

$1/month: I will tell people you volunteer with children or animals, your choice.

$5/month: I will carry your groceries to your front door in one trip.

$10/month: I will stand in your parking spot for up to an hour while you run out real quick.

$20/month: I will tell your landlord your shitty neighbor is on the lam from “you know” (wink).

$50/month: I will anonymously text your ex middle fingers of your choice.

$100/month: I will change the name of my blog to the grossest thing you can think of (Upchunk Lugubrious, etc.)

If you are interested in one of these fine prizes, please write your name, email and routing number on an unmarked Speedway coupon and leave it in the rusty toolbox behind the Taco Bell on Irving Park. If a guy named Sal tries to stop you while brandishing anything other than a pocket knife, please tell him he said he’d be cool and he’ll get his cut, the weaselly sneak. Thank you for your interest in my little stories and thank you more for your money. With enough support, I can finally get ownership of my domain back from the blog-shark that I currently pay at 42% interest whose name is definitely not Sal. And please hurry, if I don’t pay up by Friday, he’s going to cut out my vowels. Then I would be illetterate.

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Sentences You Probably Shouldn't End With Ellipses...

  • I’m sorry your wife died…

  • I didn’t steal those artifacts…

  • Of course I packed your parachute…

  • Your mom is nice…

  • I’ve never seen those handguns before…

  • This pocket watch belongs to me…

  • Your painting is really good…

  • Honey, we’re just friends…

  • That was on fire when I got here...

  • I love you...

Fables From Moving in With My Boyfriend

Many years ago, a young boy was wandering through a deep, dark forest. As he trekked on alone, armed only with a small canteen of Mountain Dew Code Red and a careworn book of spells drafted during his biweekly D&D campaign, he stumbled upon a demon most foul. The demon reared its head and snarled, plumes of sulfuric smoke smelling faintly of Marlboro 27’s billowing from its flared nostrils. The boy was frightened but stood firm, ready to fight. He brandished a mechanical keyboard above his head, hoping to deafen the demon into submission. His attempts at banishing the demon only spurred its monstrous ire. Seeing the boy would not back down, the demon cast a curse upon him. The boy collapsed to the earth, his vision blurred and his head howling in pain. The demon cackled as it ascended into the gloomy forest canopy, its raspy voice bellowing through the air. “Someday, young fool, you will meet a woman. You will fall in love, and then and only then will you know what is to become of you. Farewell!”

The demon vanished into the misty darkness. The boy dragged himself to his feet, rubbing his temples. Had there truly been a demon? Was this not some deception of the dark forest? Only time would tell.

Years passed in a relative calm, until one fateful afternoon when the boy, now a handsome young man with a cute tush, decided to wile away the hours on Bumble. There he came upon a passably attractive young lady who tried only a little too hard in her bio, and without hesitation, his hand did swipe right. They met and fell instantly in love, and a year was spent in the most joyous bliss. Until one afternoon when the pair gathered their earthly belongings and moved in together, and thus their fate was sealed.

At first the woman noticed nothing. Small things here and there, nothing to remark upon. Until one evening when the young man was out and the woman had decided to take her third stress nap of the day. She peeled back the comforter and a scream escaped her lips. There, burned into the fitted sheet as though by the devil himself, just below where one of the cats had yarfed in a hot pile for the four hundredth time, was an inscription. Terror rising in her throat, the woman read the hideous message:

“It is I, the forest demon whom you offended years ago. Surprise, bitch! The terms of the curse have come to pass, as follows:

Every time you grocery shop, you must touch and remark upon every object you come across, though they may number in the many hundreds, lest every morsel of food you consume thenceforth be turned to dust.

When you are defrosting a chicken breast, you must forget to check if the plug is in the bottom of the sink before you run water over it. The water shall rise like a demon tide and spill forth from the sink, causing a biblical flood in the kitchen of such magnitude that it shall require your girlfriend’s bath towels to quell the ferocious tides. You shall do this two times within a very short span, forever to be known as The “I Suppose I’ll Shower Later Then” Epoch, which is honestly a lot of times to flood the kitchen if you really think about it. Do so or lose your chicken privileges.

When retrieving items stowed away in your cupboards, you must leave the cabinet doors wide open and saunter blissfully away so that your kitchen looks like the Sixth Sense, to pay homage to the supreme ruler of the underworld, Haley Joel Osment.

When you walk beside your girlfriend, your body will transfigure into the set of Speed 3, and should you slow to a pace befitting a human mortal, your body will explode and all who are near shall perish.

You have been warned!”

Trembling, the woman collapsed onto the bed. How could this be? How could this man whom she loved so much be entrenched in such horrors? Suddenly, she felt her legs begin to burn. Shrieking, she leapt from the bed. Below the cursed message, in letters glowing red like hot coals, a new missive appeared (it was a long bed). She crept nearer and read its ghostly tale:

“A final warning: Should you remain silent during a video game, should your mouth refuse the shouts and yelps and hoo boy’s and what the fuck’s that have pierced the peaceful silence of your shared abode for many months now, your tongue will curl up and shrivel and die and will never again utter for the seventeenth time this hour that your girlfriend’s minor, indistinguishable change in makeup regimen really does look okay, I promise, honey why would I tell you it looks okay if it looks bad, we are late though… yeah, you can change it...

Thus it shall be!”

As if on cue, the front door flung open and the young man emerged from the threshold. Looking her deeply in the eyes, he cleared his throat to speak.

“Red Dead Online dropped today, so there goes my next month!”

She fainted.

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A Bitter Shrew's Guide to Online Dating Profiles

Author’s Note: Dust off your time machines and turn the dial back to the distant era of 2016, which is when I wrote this piece. Things may be different in the online dating world nowadays. Maybe middle finger pictures are cool now and all you Neato Reados will scoff at how sad and out of touch I am. (Testing out this nickname for my audience, please provide feedback by writing your disapproval on a bar napkin and throwing it into the ocean.) Although I’m pretty sure public opinion hasn’t changed about dick pics. If you send an unsolicited dick pic to a woman who is just trying to find someone she can pick her nose in front of with wanton abandon, you are a toilet. The end.

“My grandparents met on Tinder”: “I saw this on Buzzfeed. I still quote Borat a lot.”

Shirtless selfies: “I can crush a walnut with my butt cheeks but I’m still not clear on who Paul Ryan is.”

Fishing pictures: “My dad dragged me to Wisconsin for a ‘guy’s weekend’ and I had to miss Lollapalooza, but I made the best of it and murdered this fish.”

“I’m laid-back/easygoing”: “I have the personality of a packing peanut.”

Reviews (e.g. “The best guy I know!” -My Mom. “His breath always smells like chamomile and unicorns!” -New York Times): “The only original thought I ever had was for a sitcom called ‘Carol of the Balls.’ I was six Jack and Diets deep when I thought of it, so I don’t remember the premise. Except Carol’s a skank. And something about the Yankees. I was hungover until midnight the next day.”

Picture at Machu Picchu: “I, too, studied abroad in college.”

Middle finger picture: “I have a Limp Bizkit tattoo.”

Career listed as “Entrepreneur”: “I am unemployed but I’ve got a lot of big ideas. Like an app that tells you when there are dogs nearby. Or an ejector seat on a subway train for when a fight breaks out. Or dessert tacos with icing instead of cheese. Do you know anyone who’s hiring?”

“I love craft beer”: “I just learned about IPA’s. I wear unique pants.”

“I love whiskey/pizza/tacos”: “Get this! I also like having fun. And being happy. And not asphyxiating under a flaming mountain of moldy gym socks. It’s crazy, I know.”

2+ pictures in funny hats: “My exes would say I’m ‘a bit much.’”

“I’m very sarcastic”: “I’m the kind of person who rips into someone in front of a group and then says, ‘It was just a joke, dude. Don’t be so sensitive.’”

“No hookups”: “I copy-paste messages like ‘Hey beautiful! Why r u not my girlfriend?’ to every woman I match with. I am wearing a backwards hat in all of my pictures and my job title is listed as ‘Sales Dynamo.’”

Bald with a beard, no tattoos: “I do improv and own a lot of dope hats. I have a whimsical necktie for every occasion.”

Bald with a beard, tattoos: “I play bass.”

Sunglasses in every picture: “My eyes are two buttholes I must hide from the light of day lest the demons find me and return me to the fiery throes of the underworld whence I escaped so many centuries ago.”

“No drama”: “I get into a lot of Facebook fights with my elderly relatives.”

“Please respect yourself”: “I will try to dazzle the pants off of you with a dick pic, and when you decline, I will call you a nasty bitch hoe. Also, you’re fat and ugly. I only messaged you as a joke.”

“I’m spontaneous”: “One time a barista gave me the wrong scone and I ate it anyway.”

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If You Love Something, Publish It, Panic, and Then Delete It

I wrote a post a while back that I really liked at first so I posted it, and then the more I reread it, the more I realized it was a hot flaming stink carcass and I would have been better off scribbling it onto an old Hardy’s receipt and then throwing it in front of a train. Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned. Egos shattered. Files deleted.

 

Requiem for a Bee

I got stung by my very first bee this year at the tender age of 31. I had spent the previous three decades dealing with bees by flailing my arms maniacally and screaming into the sun, so I felt entirely justified in my lifetime of pathological terror because I now know I have a “very mild” and “unconcerning” and “not worthy of such a big reaction” bee allergy (according to my rather patronizing G.P.)

 

Things My Cat Hates if I’m to Take Her Screaming for any Indication

Everything. This post had no legs because she hates literally everything. It would have been biblical in length. She is a wedgie cat-sonified.

This is a Post About Poop

This was the title of a document I found on my computer. It was blank. I can only imagine it was supposed to be some kind of pondering about my diagnosis of IBS, which is a condition that more or less reverts you to a newborn baby poop schedule. I spend more time shitting than I do eating. Where is it all even coming from??

Guys, Let’s Talk About Hot Butt

I… I don’t even know. Possibly related to the above. Please don’t reference this in my obituary. I can see my parents recycling it now.

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Things I Would Love to Say to a Band of Loyal Followers

  • Let’s ride!

  • *Snaps fingers and a lackey appears*

  • You’re dismissed.

  • Bring me the man responsible for this.

  • Move out!

  • You call this coffee?! *spits*

  • Fly, my pretties!

  • Anybody else have somethin’ to say?

  • Heads will roll!

  • You’re on thin ice, pal.

  • Henchmen, attack!

  • Say it again. Say. It. Again.

  • Let that be a lesson to you.

  • You will not rest until you bring me his head on a platter.

  • Tell my husband I’m gonna be late.

  • We move at dawn.

  • You think it’s MY job to make sure you get to your son’s christening on time??

  • In due time, gents. In due time.

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What Happened on the Train Today-- A True Story Told in Verse

I sat upon the train today

Having had enough of work.

A dame was seated next to me

As the train began to lurch.

She made a move as if to leave

So I offered up a path.

“Oh no,” she muttered quietly.

“I’ve a different pressing task.

“My glasses have got lost, you see,

And I think they’re where you are.”

“Oh dear,” I said, “They are not here,

They must be somewhere in this car.”

“Tut tut,” she said, “Forget it all,

I don’t want them anyway.”

“But do you not need them to see?”

I protested in dismay.

She heaved and sighed and shook her head,

Then turned her face from me.

She scoffed and huffed and rolled her eyes,

Irked by my audacity.

“I said I do not need the things!”

She snapped with rising ire.

“I told you to leave it alone,

You kids make small things dire.”

And then she stood and brushed right past

As I sat with mouth agape.

She shuffled off the train with haste

And tripped on a suitcase.

The last I saw my irate friend,

She was glaring through the glass.

I swear I only tried to help,

But she thinks I’m an ass.

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Things I Have Overheard My Boyfriend Say Out Loud to Himself While Playing Video Games, Part II

While playing Euro Truck Simulator 2, in which he is a truck driver making deliveries:

  • I’m delivering cheese safe and sound according to the law.

  • Why would I not want my side view mirrors on, am I a monster??

  • (Sips beer) I’m drinking on the job.

  • He cut me off! I’m bigger than him! I could have hurt somebody!

  • I got a speeding ticket again! For $200… this job’s costing me more than it’s worth!

  • (Asks Siri): How do I know the speed limit in Euro Truck Simulator 2?

  • I’m making great time!

  • Let’s play it safe, let’s just back that ass straight up.

  • Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, shut the fuck up.

While playing Fortnite:

  • I hit him twice, three times a lady!

  • Oh, I am getting exponentially better at this game! Don’t play like a dingus is the number one rule.

  • Don’t fuck with me, I’m an astronaut for now, boys… oh this is gonna be bad news.

  • Kate, these guys are jerks!

  • I’ll take that! Or you will, go ahead!

  • So I can kick the soccer ball but I can’t shoot the soccer ball. Are they trying to tell me something?

  • Oh thank you for being so generous, fuckface.

  • I have no ammo, nothin, just jumpin in a dream!

  • I’m ready to fuck shit up space style!

  • Did I just get one shot?! I’m not down with that.

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Bob Breaks up with His Office Girlfriend

Hi Carol. Thank you for coming in. Please shut the door behind you and have a seat. How’s the day treating you? I know, I’m absolutely swamped. Hopkins used the wrong slide deck template again, so I’ve been playing catch up all day. TGIF, am I right?

Look, I wanted to touch base with you this afternoon because I don’t like the direction we’re going in. To be honest, I’m not finding you to be much of a value add anymore. We’ve gotten way off target over the last few months, and as much as it pains me to say this, I think it’s time to table this relationship. In Q3, I was willing to give you another chance. We put you on a PIP, and it really did seem like things were improving. You tried to double down your efforts, you really did, but if I can speak frankly, your performance has been less than satisfactory, and going forward, I think we should see other people. I know this is unpleasant, but come next fiscal year, I think you’ll see a lot of growth. Give it some time. You’ll love the margins.

To your point about the apartment, I’ve already terminated your access and had you removed from the lease. I’m sure you’ll find another apartment in no time. It’s a great market for it and demand for your pay grade is high this year, so I wouldn’t worry too much. You can always stay with a friend and live remote. I think you’ll find that’s more than reasonable.

I’m sorry, I just don’t have the bandwidth to follow up on this anymore. I’ve used all my cycles reaching out to you, and, I have to be honest here, I’ve been pinging Jeanine. I know you’re going to want to circle back with our mutual friends, but there’s been a re-org, and they now all report to me. I can reevaluate your candidacy next quarter if you stay heads down working on a solution, but for now, let’s put a pin in this. I’ll give you back the rest of your hour, if you can close the door behind you. Kindest regards, Bob.

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