January 28, 2012

Trifextra -- The Weekend Edition, Take 1

Those litpushers over at Trifecta have decided we don't make enough for them so they've stepped it up a notch ... Here is my entry to their latest challenge: Trifextra -- write a love story in exactly 33 words. Here's mine:



Her toes, all ten of them, curl in such a pleasing way. They're pink and soft.

He puts her foot to his lips. "Who’s your daddy," he croons. "Who’s your daddy, sweet girl?"

January 26, 2012

Trifecta, Week 11 - Beast

This is my response to Trifecta's Writing Challenge. They've stepped things up there, so I have skipped my morning duties -- you know, parenting, dishes, getting out in a rare bit of actual sunlight -- for this.

Day at the Park

Don’t throw sand!!! Arrrrrg! I’m telling mom! Mommeeeeeee!

Thomas runs blindly across the playground, oblivious of the tiny round toddler heading in a determined fashion toward the small slide.

Wobble, wobble, wobble-wobble, and over she topples, face first. Her wail starts up like an air raid siren.

Thomas, still hurtling toward me, is oblivious in his rage.

At this exact moment, I feel torn. This is the beast that is parenting. What the fuck do I do?

On the one hand, my 18 month old has thrown sand in the direction of my four year old. He has internalised the no-throwing-sand rule and possesses an older sibling’s sense of justice that makes age irrelevant.

On the other hand, he’s just knocked down someone’s little girl. And not stopped to check to see if she’s okay. While I want to comfort him in his anger and grief, I feel the pull to reprimand him, to force him to make amends.

A part of just want to yell. Grow the fuck up. The sand, while thrown in your general direction, did not hit you. Why are you so bent on getting others in trouble?

On the fourth hand, which highlights how impossible this truly is, I simply want to envelop my hurting little guy in a hug, despite the mom of the toddler and her friends, now glaring at me like I created this mess, as if I am the asshole who has created this problem.

Meanwhile. Some other kid has attempted to take a truck that was in my younger child’s general vicinity and she’s screaming bloody murder and, in slow motion now, I see her raise her fist in anger.

All I want, I think as I angrily pack up my two screaming children and our various park-going supplies, is a stiff drink. Fuck this shit, I’m through.

But parenting is 24/7, no retakes, and I go home defeated, feeling as though I have failed on every front.


This week we are using the third definition for beast, as found in Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary:

3: something formidably difficult to control or deal with

And while you're here, feel free to get to know me. These are my responses to Trifecta's questionnaire.

January 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday -- Kung Hai Fat Choy!

Link up at Wordless Wednesday or just go peruse the fantastic visuals ...

January 23, 2012

About myself ...

The creators of the Trifecta Writing Challenge have recently gotten all nosy. They've asked those rising to the challenges to answer a few personal questions. Here are my replies:

What is your name?
My name is Karen Marie.

I have had several family names:
my male lineage name, which I've written under although it was never mine. Seller.
my family name, from a man I never knew, a man who adopted my father but abandoned my grandmother before I was born. Cox.
my married name, to demonstrate that I am the property of a man. Tsang.

To further this ambivalence: My husband's father was adopted out of his family into another as a young child in Southern China. This means my current last name does not represent my husband's bloodline either. The story is much longer and quite interesting -- it involves the Canadian Exclusion Act (so I blame Canada).

On a more personal level, the adoptive father was never really in his son's life and his adoptive mother, a woman I once lived with, had her own family's name.

I used to think I'd change my name to represent my father's bloodline. I would do without a last name entirely if I thought it was worth the trouble. I mean, I get how it categorises families and all, but it is an archaic system that honours the male lineage alone. So please, even though I love my husband deeply, don't call me Mrs. A. Tsang if you want to hang with me. It's just rude.

Describe your writing style in three words.
Intense. Odd. Pedantic.

How long have you been writing online?
Since 1994 in one form or another, unless you count playing text-based Dungeons and Dragons in the late 1970s, and penning internal "email" and posting on message boards when I worked at Apple in the early 1990s.

Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in?
I was writing for the 100 Word Challenge for a while last year. I really enjoyed it because I love to edit (more than I love to write), and reducing (or expanding) an idea to a precise word count pleases me to no end. But I have not done the challenge in quite some time because it is difficult to find the time to do it well. I want to get back to it again.

Describe one way in which you could improve your writing.
I think I need to write more, to flush out some of my ideas by pouring more stuff out, whether I publish it or not.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
An improv coach once told me to write often, write everyday, write for an hour a day without thinking about what you are writing. I do not follow the third, yet, but I hear his voice a lot when I write. RIP, Andrew.

Who is your favorite author?
I really love Ann Marie MacDonald (Fall on Your Knees), but my favourite writer of all times has to be Margaret Atwood. Because I am in awe of her mastery and exactitude. Even when she's boring, she's dead on.

How do you make time to write?
I take it out of my sleep bank. I don't do other things in the day that I should be doing. I don't take enough time to write. I don't know how to do that.

Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt.

Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading.
The Resonance of my Bully. Be sure to read the comments. Sadly, it didn't end well.

January 22, 2012

Trifecta, Week 10 - Sway

UPDATE: I say in the comments below that it is only "poor them" till it becomes "us". This spill happened in my neck of the proverbial woods yesterday. This is in a community just outside of Vancouver, BC and in one of regional Vancouver's most fertile farmlands. The them is now us.

"Only when the last tree has died,
the last river been poisoned,
and the last fish been caught,
will we realise we cannot eat money.
Cree proverb

This week I am once again veering far from fiction with my entry for the Trifecta Writing Challenge. I could not resist, I am afraid. The third definition of the word, sway, held too much temptation and proved impossible to resist given all that is happening close to home and slightly further afield.


The current lack of democratic values in Canada shocks those looking to effect change. Some, though, have never had the luxury of such illusions.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo is one such person. She belongs to the Lubicon Cree First Nation and is an activist with Greenpeace, not because she always dreamed of being a political figure but because she felt she had little other choice.

The oil sands have raped and polluted the land her family has lived on for generations. Not so long ago, her father still ran their trapline and the family gathered food and lived off the land. It may sound romanticised, but no other way of life has replaced it; it was still the norm until the 1970s when Alberta started to develop the tar sands. Oil rigs, pipelines, spills were the new normal, but any and all profits flowing as quickly south as the oil itself.

Not only did the Lubicon lose their livelihoods, no new opportunities have ever arisen to replace what they lost, to benefit them. Spikes in illnesses and cancers followed.

A recent spill on the pipeline (May 2011) was the largest to date -- 28,000 barrels of crude oil. School children and villagers were ill from a noxious substance for five days before the government officially informed them of the spill, located seven kilometres away. That oil seeped into the ecosystem and remains there today.

What leader doesn’t tell a people about a disaster in their surrounds? But that collection of oil will continue at all costs. The Lubicon people will end up no different than the Ogani in Nigeria: collateral damage.

Today our leaders are putting more pipelines through lands they don’t have legal rights to build upon, but it is money that will hold the ultimate sway. Regardless of those who stand in the way, of those who wage war (and there will be war), the pipelines will go through as blood and oil will stain the path.


This week, as mentioned above, we have used the third definition for sway, as found in Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary.

3 a : a controlling influence
b : sovereign power : dominion
c : the ability to exercise influence or authority : dominance

(I rather liked that there existed still three choices for that one definition.)

January 19, 2012

Friday Fluff

My friend over at Seeking Elevation is turning her weekly trick, giving it all away at random by answering quiz questions written by ... well ... I used to think it was sad and lonely teens, but this one was suspect. Someone code named _FR4NC3S_ has laid claim to this hot mess.

Regardless, I'm playing along, and so should you. It ensures that none of us feels quite so alone.

You can find the quiz at Quizopolis.com.

Okay. Bombs Away! My answers to the Awesome Random Stuff Survey:

Do you have a crush right now?
yes, actually. always. several. Mostly they are transitory.

What is your favorite color?
I am not much for colours. I cannot match 'em, I cannot wear 'em, I cannot abide by them. Some day I am hoping someone explains colours to me so that I may better understand them, but for now this is my stand.

Come to think of it, though, I do like the pinks and blues of a good sunrise. You know, the kind from which you take warning.

What about your favorite animal?
monkeys. the swingier the better.

Choose one ... ;) =) >:D :-{D

Did you ever have an F on your report card?
Sure. Probably. Haven't you?

What about straight A's
Sure. Those were the easy grades. I found it much more challenging to get the low ones. For a long time I was a straight B student, despite my efforts to go lower. I thought it was disgusting that I could do absolutely nothing and still maintain a B average, based upon my reputation as a good student alone.

If you could go back in time and change one thing that you did, what would it be?
I would have stopped trying to get my father to see that I am a real person much, much sooner.

Do you enjoy singing?
I love to sing. I love how the sound vibrations feel inside of my body, from deep within my chest, from the bottom of my belly, through my throat and into all of my sinus cavities.

If so, has anyone ever told you that you can sing well?
Yes, but I have also heard the opposing viewpoint.

Again...Choose one...<3 , ><> , * , @(^_^)@
Again ... Why? Is this like a modern-day inkblot test?

Are you listening to music right now?
nope. documentary radio.

If so, what song are you listening to?

If not, what song do you WANT to be listening to?
Pat Benetar's We Belong.

What is your favorite subject in school?

What is the month of your birthday?
Are you collecting data? This "totally random" survey feels creepily like a marketing guy's practice sheet.

Do you like country music?
depends upon who's singing it and what it is.

What about rock?
see above.

crickets ...

If you had to eat one fruit for a month straight...what would it be? oranges, bananas, grapes, apples, or kiwi? (or other)
Rambutan. You probably wouldn't understand.

Do you like roses or tulips better?
I'm neither here nor there on either. Now irises ...

okay. thinking ...

Was the name that you just thought of a member of your family?
um ... nope.

What about a close friend?

Ok...what about your crush?
Um, you aren't going to catch me that easily. You'd have to be much craftier than that.

Do you watch SpongeBob?

What is the name of your best friend?
define best friend.

Do you like fish or chicken more?
depends. which is fresher?

Are you a vegatarian?
nope. and do survey writers ever spell check?

What about your steak...Rare, Medium, or Well done (for me ... well done :P)
rare. and, um, did I ask you?

Did you like this random survey?
Um ... *shrug* ... you know ... it didn't seem entirely ... random. Rather it felt like you wanted me to think it was random.

Last thing.....Pick a # out of these... 1,2,4,7,14
See! There you go again! But I'll play along:

So there is no hash tag in that list of numbers. Hey! Is that a trick question?

January 17, 2012

We know what you're thinking, Congress, and we say Hands Off.

Update: Now that this page doesn't have to be dark, I'm switching it to say that Elly? Over at BugginWord? Says it way way better than I ever could. With Oprah. And a snowmobile. In space. Pay attention!

January 15, 2012

Trifecta, Week 9 - Weep

This is my response to Trifecta's Writing Challenge for the transitive verb, to weep. It was inspired by Elly at BugginWord. Have you seen her play the uke yet?!

Also, does anyone know what a transitive verb might actually be? Feel free to let me know!

I’d noticed they’d get full, I’d seen that they got bigger than large. Sometimes, when she slept longer than usual or even right before she ate I could pop a spray straight across the room. But this one time? On a really hot day? I took a quick trip to the Home Depot to grab something we needed desperately for our renovations. I was dressed only in a skirt and a light shirt when a nearby baby started to cry and they began to weep.

Though it started slowly, it was unstoppable and impossible to hide. Through the bra and the top, it quickly formed a milky lake on the cool concrete floor.

This week we are using the third definition for weep, as found in Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary.

3: to exude (a fluid) slowly : ooze (a tree weeping sap)

January 12, 2012

Friday Fluff

My friend over at Seeking Elevation is once again up to her Friday trick of answering quiz questions written by sad and lonely teens. We all have to do our part. You can find the quiz at Quizopolis.com

Are you an early riser?
I was till kids turned my life upside-down. Who's idea were they, anyway?

Do you shower before or after work?
Hrms. I am a stay-at-home mom. I don't work. "Work" is easy compared to this gig. You get coffee breaks, talk to adults, get to think and breathe.

I'm pretty sure for most moms (working or non) this here is a trick question.

Wait. What did you ask again?

Do you have a gym mebership?
nope. Three bikes and no car and kids with activities galore. Groceries to buy, libraries to visit, errands to run, cards to mail. I think you get the picture. A gym is a complete and thorough waste of a limited resource: time. And, um, do you have a cold?

Do you go to the gym everyday?
See above. Plus? I hate the gym. Too many creepy people doing unproductive things. Get outside!

Do you take unscheduled breaks at work?
If you count toilet breaks as unscheduled, then yes.

Are you tired during the day?
Are you trying to convince me to go to a gym? Because it isn't working.

Do you stop at a grocery store every day?
No. I avoid them as much as possible, so maybe once a week. I stop at markets when I can.

At week ends you stay home all day in your pajamas watching tv?
A ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah ahh ehhhhh ...

You have a few drinks in the evening?
I wish I did tonight. It would make this easier.

If you are retired, are you online most of the day?
I am not retired but I am online all day. It makes the rest of my existence possible.

Do you cook?
Part of the current gig.

Do you eat out most of the time?

Do you spend lots of time on the phone?
No. I only have a land line, and it never rings. I think people are land line phobic.

If at work, do you chat online on company's time or texting?
I. Would. Never. get away with this. My small tyrannical bosses were taught the word "hypocrite" as soon as they could say mama.

On a second read-through I am newly curious. Are you making this quiz on your own time or company time?

If there's a party on Sunday night and you have to work in the morning, do you party anyways?
Yep. Because really, it makes the job much easier, especially if one gets good and stinkin' drunk, because then nobody wants to come near.

Do you take a day off from work just so you can go shopping or fishing?
No and no. Sleep is a different story. I'll take it any way I can get it.

Do you feel great when you get up in the morning?
Um ... only on days when I can make my husband get up with the damned kids.

Do you feel like your daily duties are more like KP duty?

Do you go to bed before midnight?
Now you are just mocking me.

Do you take an afternoon nap?
If nobody jumps on my head.

This particular quiz (I found it to be more of a scary university survey) was brought to you and me by Bill Greek. Thanks Bill. Now I am a bit wierded out about how little I prefer the gym. Actually, I'd kind of forgotten how much I detest it.

January 7, 2012

Trifecta, Week 8 - Cutting

This is my response to Trifecta's Writing Challenge, and I do believe I am going to get it in on time. Yay me.

UPDATE: My friend over at Chicago Chronicles has posted a late non-entry, like I did last week. I'm pretty sure it's my mistake as I am incredibly timezone incapable, ask all of those I have telephoned at all hours but wakeful ones from the various timezones I have occupied over my lifetime. I think her response to the third definition of the word cutting (see below) is both yummy and brilliant so if you come and read mine, you've gotta go read hers too. I can't wait to see more of hers too ...


Innocence Lost

“Sliiiiiick.” Weird how the length of a single vowel conveys the precise meaning of a rebuke. As usual, Cesare was ready with his cutting review.

It was a rare occasion for me to try an item of clothing not inline with his image of me: Micro minis, crop tops and dangerously-spiked go-go boots in a multitude of day-glow colours were all I had in my cavernous closets.

In this case it was a long dress in a pink so pale you could barely tell the cloth wasn’t white. The matching silk stitching and embroidery was intricate yet understated, and barely noticeable on the fabric.

Just once? When I go home to my family? I would like for them to think of me as the sweet girl that left them some six years previous and not the sex bombe I present professionally.

But having a talent-manager-slash-lover pretty much ensures that I am but a fading memory. Instead, the me that you see is a finely controlled figment of my lover’s imagination, and a completely bankable commodity.


This week we are using the third definition for cutting, as found in Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary.

3: inclined or likely to wound the feelings of others especially because of a ruthless incisiveness (a cutting remark)

January 5, 2012

Friday Fluff

Here are my responses to the Awesome Random Stuff survey that is sweeping the planet of blogospheric units with glee ... remember how I'm "letting go"? This might prove to be my undoing. Play along and link up at Seeking Elevation, the original Friday Fluff Floofie who's taking us all down with her. Downtown, that is ...

Do you like pandas?

Only when I can transfer all of my sadness upon them. Otherwise they are merely olden day koala.

How many puzzles have you done in your whole life?

It depends. Do you mean of the mind game persuasion, does this include Rubik's Cube, or are you merely talking about the cardboard ones? My husband and I once received a puzzle from friends while we were overseas. They did the puzzle together, wrote us a letter on it, took it apart and sent it to us for Christmas. it was tricky turning it over to read the letter, we lost a piece of the puzzle and they are now divorced. I used to wonder if that missing piece somehow contributed to the failure of their marriage, but then I remembered what an asshat that guy had always been, even before he met her.

Where would you rather live: Africa or India?

Africa. Probably because the last book I read was partially set there.

How many asian friends do you have?
Um ...

Do you miss someone who you cannot see? Who?

Dude. I think we all miss people we cannot see. I once housed my grandfather in my CPU (my first email address was gramps@netvigator.com, wonder who has THAT baby now?) shortly after he died. I think that helped me picture him seeing into what I trouble I was getting myself.

How many text messages are in your inbox?

I don't have a cel phone so ... none?

How many of the opposite gender did you talk to today?
How many what? Assholes? Children? Units? Be specific.

Who was the last person that poked you?
Suzanne. And so it sits.

Who was the last person that you took a picture with?
I'm the taker, so I don't remember. Probably my children, it is not as easy to dodge the lens when they are around.

Do you like gloomy bear?
I like sad panda myself. I've never met gloomy bear. But I like broody animals so I'm sure we'd come to some understanding.

What's your opinion about
What's my opinion about? What's my opinion about? What's your opinion about?

How often do you eat instant noodles?
I. Would. Rather Die.

Who is your most hated teacher?
I'm doing the best I can these days to not hate. That said, I'm pretty disappointed in the craptitude of some of the teachers I've come across this past year, but I think that it was the environment they were stuck in more than their individual abilities. It appeared few of them actually wanted to teach ...

Would you be willing to say a poem in the Talen Show?
Nope. I don't have any Talen.

What's up?

What's your favorite flavor of jello?
Orange. Mmmmmm. Ground up horses' hooves. I always felt bad that I am not an organs eater so that we waste less of the animals we kill for foods.

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?
Neither, but I use FB and I don't use Twitter. FB came first, and I've had little time since.

Who's your best friend today?
Cliche, I know, but today I'm saying my husband.

How many people are you talking to on Instant Messenger?
I'm "unavailable". I lose too much time when that board lights up.

Do you eat beef?
If it has eaten a natural diet, of course. Grass-fed, baby!

Apple or Microsoft?
Apple. Unless I'm doing a job that requires Microsoft, then Microsoft. But at my house? Even my PC-centric guy taken a byte of The Apple.

Do you think Nike is expensive?
Haz not a clue. Am bored by stupid logos that make people look like drones. If they want to use me or my adorable children to advertise their products, they'd better be willing to pay us a premium. A really fat premium.

Is your sibling fat?

What's your favorite number?
I am suspicious of people who have favourite non-living, non-tangible things. I mean, really, what's it going to do for you? But if I did have a favourite number, it would be seven. For reasons provided here.

Take This Awesomely Random Survey brought to you by quizopolis.com and rocket scientist _FR4NC3S_ . Don't forget to link up!

Welcome 2012 -- Pacific Standard Time

I've been reading up on several of my friends' blogs their thoughts and feelings of the passing of 2011 and the arrival of 2012. Some things really resonated with me in their musings so I thought I should return (or pay forward) the service.

2011 was a long year, one that required a lot of attention. In my world it took on the character of a really great roller coaster ride: lots of build-up, some really harsh, hard turns, some steep learning curves followed by unexpected-but-anticipated stomach-dropping surprises. Some events quite literally took my breath away and all I could do was to catch my breath and hold the hell on. In a way, I am still trying to regulate my breathing. Luckily I have some solid comrades who are grinning just as madly whilst wondering how the hell they too survived 2011, as friends do when spilling off a thrilling ride.

As much as I try to recount the areas I have grown and what I'm taking away from this year, really it boils down to one thing: one foot after the other. That is it.

Instead, and before the first day week of 2012 is over (gah! Now I have to hurry!) I'm going to give you my best bests of the Internet, six of the blogs that I've gone back to, read the back stories of, chewed upon and commented ad nauseum. No badges, no honours, just a firm place in my heart and the knowledge that you've moved me and helped me to place one foot in front of the other. Which is sometimes all, really, any of us can do, no matter what life throws our way:

Wife (Widow) of a Wounded Marine
Lucid Lotus Life
Seeking Elevation
Buggin' World
Chicago Chronicles
Making Peace with the Wrong Side of 40

I'm sitting here laughing because as soon as I started linking this list, I thought of a gazillion other blogs I want to tell you about. So I guess this is going to become a little series ... I have my favourite photographers, my favourite crafters, my favourite writing sites (here) and (here) -- I couldn't resist!

But sometimes more than enough is already enough. So I'm leaving you with these six, six sites I consider to be a part of the community I've joined on the wacky weird web. And folks? It really is, worldwide.

January 1, 2012

Late non-entry: Trifecta

I am, as is sometimes the case, late with an entry to Trifecta's word-of-the-week challenge. This week's word is the verb, to skirt. I wanted to do it anyway (and plan to regardless of whether or not I hit deadlines in coming weeks), so here is my non-entry. Needless to say, on-timed-ness will not on my New Year's Resolutions List in the coming year, but adaptivity to the circumstances I find myself in will.

She came into town from a suburb an hour out and rang the doorbell. Her defiance was carried loud and clear via electrical current. Ding dong.

The time I get off from my three smallish children is precious and rare. It is now the end of December and I don't think I've had a full day free from them -- I feel like I haven't been alone in my house to work or relax since September. Me, the woman who routinely insisted her man go out with the boys just to ensure time alone in that halcyon pre-kid existence.

Today my tasks were to tidy up a house and make dinner for a bigger family gathering. Not exactly prime alone time but a space with my own thoughts taking priority is so rare. The old adage, beggars can't be choosers, fits me like a pair of expensive stockings.

So, yes. The door rang, I answered it and efficiently told her that she was to give me an hour, maybe two, by sitting in a beautiful new armchair in the empty suite she would be occupying later that night anyway. Of course, she being herself, she retorted crisply that she would not be banished, that the upstairs would suit her just fine thankyouverymuch.

The thing is? I have stopped being honest, as an act of what, self-preservation? Not exactly. Really, even though I kid myself about having stopped the bullying, a life-threatening terminal illness at "end stage" is forcing me to hold my tongue in ways I've never done before. I skirt around issues as though I am a world-class figure skater avoiding the treacherous roses and teddy bears thrown enthusiastically ice-ward.

And so she sits, in the middle of my mess, and makes the usual verbal pokes that pierce my afternoon’s plan like the point of a knife into a balloon, only over and over and over again.