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  1. I'm a dying species. I think I'm the only member still posting here who joined in the first couple months of this forum's operation. But the veteran-killing plague has finally gotten to me, and I think I'm done here.

    To put it bluntly, the moderation here sucks.

    I won't go so far as to invoke Godwin's Law, because no one here is anti-Semitic, as far as I can see. But it's a little like Pleasantville. No jazz, booze, or Technicolor for you, you crazy kids.

    But Mal, this is a forum for writing, not some podunk free-for-all. We have to have rules!

    I agree. Someone has to keep the wheels of give-and-take critique turning smoothly. And someone has to keep out the trolls and spammers out. But there is a community here out of which strong friendship bonds have been formed, and I think that it is weakened by the heavy-handed administration staff who feels the need to control every conversational aspect of this forum. Not to mention the hypocritical favoritism exhibited by unnamed admins.

    The best Internet communities I've been a part of have had little-to-no moderator activity. Sure arguments break out and there may be some insults flung. But you know where you stand with everyone, and there's none of this feigned politeness.

    I initially joined so that I could post my writing, but have since decided that I don't want to publicly post any writing that I'm serious about. And the only reason I've stuck around this place so long is because I've gotten to truly care about some of the members. But it's not getting better, and I can't come here anymore without wanting to shout at the computer screen. I hate having to sensor myself. Sad, I know, but it's the truth.

    I know I'm not a favorite among the administrative staff. I like to be antagonistic sometimes, and it's childish, but that's me. This will probably be deleted, and I will probably be banned. But it's a long time coming.

    If this stays up for long enough for anyone to see it, then I would like to say that I enjoyed talking to most of you. If anyone would like to stay in touch with me, I can be contacted through Facebook or either of my Wordpress blogs.

    I'll probably give up and come back eventually. I'm lame like that. But until then, I wish all of you luck in all you do.
  2. We don't talk about my grandma. That's all I knew about her for a long time. There were no pictures of her, and she was never brought up. If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought that my mother had just materialized one day, rather than being born of a human woman. When I was fourteen, however, I found out why we don't talk about her. She murdered my grandfather.

    By all accounts, my grandfather was a great man. A green beret, Vietnam hero, nuclear physicist, and musician who loved his family more than anything and always put them first. She, my grandma, took him away. This was in 1973.

    More recently, out of curiosity (because still no one talks about it) I tried to find news articles about the incident on the Internet. The only item available was the obituary of one of the detectives who had worked on the case.

    Last night, I'm not sure why, but I tried again. I guess the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette finally released their archives. There was a large article on the case. And a picture. At first, I thought that the dark, grainy photo was my mother. But the caption underneath told me it was her. My grandma. The evil bitch looked just like my mom. Just like me.

    There were details I never knew. How she was charged for extorting her neighbors, how she maintained for six years that my grandfather had committed suicide. How she was apparently flawless on the stand, the picture of innocence.

    She was eligible for parole in 1990. I don't know where she would be today, or if she'd still be alive. I don't know if I want to know. It scares me a little bit, to know that she might still be out there.

    It seems surreal, like something out of a movie.
  3. There is no smell quite like that of a Florida summer morning. The warmth and humidity preserve the warm scent of the sun on the oak trees all through the night so that by sunup it’s just barely lingering from the previous day. This mingles with the salty undertones of the Gulf, and the faint odor of car exhaust. The exact smell that I’m talking about takes shape after 3am, but before 7am, in that precious window where the world feels secret. I wake up to this smell almost every morning, me having to go to work before the sun comes up. It used to be that I only caught it when I stayed up all night. Yes, I’ve gotten very familiar with that early morning summer smell.

    Shortly after high school, I ran into an ex boyfriend. He was someone who had hurt me very badly. But I forgave him the minute he smiled at me. I was working in a dollar store in the mall then, closing up late at night. We started seeing each other. We would go out with friends when I got off work, then spend the rest of the night at his house. All those R&B songs talk about making love all night. I never thought that was possible until I was with him. Rolling out of the rumpled, sweaty sheets, indulging in passionate good-bye kisses, and sneaking out of his house in the quiet hours before sunup was how I first became acquainted with that smell. To me, it’s forever married to the experience of falling in love.

    It made appearances after swing dances or late parties, during nights out with friends at Kristina’s 24-hour Café. My best friend Nick would play guitar, and though the people who joined us there would always be different, they would always end up staying there talking with us until the sky grew light around the edges.

    That was how I met Allen. He was home for the summer from college in Gainesville. One night sitting on the bench outside Kristina’s was all it took. Before we knew it, it was 6am and we were exchanging promises to meet again.

    We soon spent another whole night sitting by Mirror Lake before he finally kissed me. Dazed with infatuation and lack of sleep, we walked the streets of downtown. I love the early hours of the morning because they’re so secret. The city is silent, and it could be that no one in the world exists except for us. We climbed onto one of the huge red metal chairs that make up the art exhibit outside the St. Petersburg Courthouse, and we stayed there holding each other for a very long time. I can recall few moments in my life that have achieved the same height of perfection that I felt just then. I never wanted the sun to come up. Unfortunately it did, and the passing days and weeks showed that our romance wasn’t meant to be.

    I’ve always declared myself an anti-morning person, even though I seem to have a love affair with early mornings. They smell of adventure and romance and friendship, at least to my nose. I like to think about that as I drive to work.
  4. Every time I think of Alcatraz, I say Azkaban and have to correct myself.
  5. I am at work. I am sitting at the desk they've given me since my promotion. It finally feels like I have a real job. A few months ago, I never would have seen myself in this position. Authority, responsibility, and a hell of a benefit plan. All that American Dream ****. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to handle the responsibility, but I'm surprised at how easily I've taken it all on. Only my third week, and I have no problem running the whole shebang on my own.

    I wonder how other people see me. The guy that I'm replacing was 6'4". Someone asks to see the manager, and I come out. All 5'0" and 90lbs of me, and I feel like they must be thinking, "Who the hell is this kid?" But then they listen to me, ask for my advice, bring me their complaints without any questions. So I suppose that I must be doing something right.

    It's funny how this is the type of thing I've been wanting for so long. Yet, I wake up on Monday morning and I can't help thinking...is this it? Is this how my life is going to be for the next thirty years or so before I retire? I mean, I love my job and the people I work with. But I can't help thinking that there must be something more. I'm just not sure how to get at it. I don't want to live this same monotonous life until I've been so desensitized by it that I don't care any more.

    My boyfriend and I, we annoy each other. It's basically our entire relationship. Who can be the most annoying before the other person gets seriously angry. I can't put my finger on what appeals to me about this, but there's something in me that enjoys it.

    My right hip feels like its been removed and replaced with a Fiery Knot of Horrible Pain. No idea why. Must have slept on it funny.

    I want to start baking bread. What else says home/love like that yeasty smell of rising dough, and a fresh loaf of crusty bread right out of the oven? It reminds me of being a little kid and playing on the kitchen floor while my mom baked and handed me extra bits of dough to mold into mermaids and dragons and trolls. It reminds me of the artisan bakery at the Ferry Plaza market in San Francisco, where I sat last summer with a fresh baguette and a basket of cherries to watch the morning traffic on The Embarcadero. I want that in my home.

    It scares me that I spend so much time reading books and so little time living out my own stories.