My Day, in Skit Form

Scene:  The magnanimous Professor Key (a pseudonym) and struggling student, Janine (not a pseudonym), have just completed their last classes for the day and meet along a campus path.

Janine:  Can I walk with you?  I need a cry, but I’ll try not to actually start crying.

Professor Key:  Uh-oh, what happened?

Janine:  A couple weeks ago, we had to do a short essay on a poem we read in class.  Nothing major:  2 pages, double spaced, just enough to make sure our writing skills are up to par.  And I think psh! I’m a writer; piece of cake, right?

PK:  Right.  Was this for Professor Choir?

J9:  Of course.

PK:  Go on.

J9:  So she passed the essays back today.  Some of them, though, she didn’t have time to grade, so she read their names and said they could pick up their essays from her mailbox after lunch.  I didn’t get a paper back, and my name wasn’t on the list.

PK:  Why not?

J9:  She told me to see her after class.

PK:  What?! What did she say?

Janine:  Well she got to me first, before any other students could grab her attention, and she was whispering, trying to be discrete, so I couldn’t really hear her.

PK:  That’s good, though.  That means she likes you.

J9:  Earlier, when she passed back the other essays, she said she makes a lot of comments, so if the papers were covered in red ink it didn’t mean they were bad.  Mine was blank:  not one red mark.

PK:  What was wrong with it?

J9:  I have to redo the whole thing!  She said I didn’t use the right format, and asked if I’d even taken English 1A and 1B. (Basic reading/ composition for degree credit)

PK:  Bitch!

J9:  I mean, she was very nice about it, but still.  Damn!

PK:  Do you mind if I take a look?

I dig my sorry excuse for an essay out of my binder and hand it to Professor Key.  It takes her two seconds to identify the problem.

PK:  Okay, I see. [She points to the first paragraph]. You didn’t use the MLA format.  Send me an email to remind me, and I’ll send you some resources to help you out.  Personally, I wouldn’t call this a redo, but I know how Professor Choir is.  Here’s a tip:  ask her for help before you turn it in again.  In the future, visit her office often and ask for lots of help.  She loves a kiss-ass.  And don’t cry!

J9:  *sniffle*  Okay.

Fin

Yup, it was a tough day of college for the old broad.  I think a nice frosty bottle of apple ale is on the agenda.

Disgruntled

A late coworker, Mr. B., once asked, “If you can be disgruntled, can you be gruntled?”  The answer:  yes.  Yes you can.

gruntled

You’re welcome.

This morning I feel disgruntled.  I can’t find a good spot to set up my laptop.  Either the sun is in my eyes or reflecting off my screen.  Or the seat is uncomfortable.  Or the room is too warm.  Or my mouse doesn’t like the surface.  I’m easily distracted.  School is already overwhelming, and it’s only been three weeks; that’s bothering me, too.  Maybe I’m just hormonal.

I forgot to post the View Club shots yesterday as promised.  Bad J9.  I’m not taking anymore of the building because it’s done.  Here are my first and last pics, a difference of almost ten months:

Construction site, 11/26

Construction site, 11/26/12

Center for the Arts, 9-4-13

Center for the Arts, 9/4/13

It doesn’t even look l like the same building does it?  But those are the same two trees on the bottom right in both pics.  My angle’s only a little off.

Mountains, 9/6/13

Mountains, 9/6/13

Mountains, 2 hours later

Mountains, 2 hours later

I love those big puffy clouds, so I couldn’t resist taking two shots.  When our humidity is high they look more like that first shot.  The heat abated this week but it’s creeping back up, thankfully without the humidity.

Sculpture Garden, 9/6/13

Sculpture Garden, 9/6/13

I forgot to show you all what else we bought for the yard:

A new lemon tree!

A new lemon tree!

Our current lemon tree was here when my parents bought the house in 1980.  It’s looking scraggly these days, and although I think it just needs a little TLC, Step-Dad thinks it needs to go.  So he bought this interesting specimen:

Technically, a variegated Eureka lemon

Ooo stripey!

It has variegated leaves, a striped peel, and pink inner flesh.

Ooo stripey!

Technically a variegated Eureka lemon

Personally I wanted a Pomona lemon because they’re sweeter and the blossoms smell heavenly, but I’ll admit this one is pretty neat. Step-Dad moved a young mulberry tree so the lemon could go next to my herb garden.  Wasn’t that nice?

Friend Bee

Friend Bee

This is Friend Bee.  Friend Bee has been buzzing around my seedlings all by its lonesome for several weeks, collecting water from the peat pots.  I took a cue from Celi over at The Kitchen’s Garden and made Friend Bee a shallow sugar water tray (here’s Celi’s) with pebbles and twigs for her to sit on so she won’t drown. My pebbles are plain, so I added a drop of food color to make it more attractive.  We have plenty of flowers…lantanas, four o’clocks, duranta, hibiscus…but it was my hope that Friend Bee would bring more hivemates.  Not that I want another swarm

Um...

Um…

.  but I want to do my part.

Slurp

Slurp

I put the tray on an old failed bird bath far away from the house, but it got no attention.  Not even from ants.  So I moved it next to the seedlings.  Friend Bee found it right away.  She started in a nice deep pocket of syrup, but then lost her footing on a slippery glass pebble and couldn’t get herself out.  I rescued her with a redwood frond.  She decided to stick with the biggest twig on the tray

Much better

Much better

and has been a fixture on that log bridge ever since.  She’s still solo, though.  I wonder where her family is?  The beekeeper said the Easter swarm had to come from a bigger colony nearby, so Friend Bee shouldn’t be alone even if she was part of that group.  Maybe she’ll become a queen since she knows a prime spot for food and water now.  😉

Alright, I’m off to finish Beowulf, and maybe some Cultural Anthropology, and perhaps the mountain of reading I have for Modern Drama.  Stay safe!

I Shouldn’t Be Up

I can’t help it, though.  I promised myself that I’d blog this week, and who knows when I’ll get another minute.

The first week of school was insane.  I would love to take nothing but writing classes, but I still have some general ed classes to knock out if I want to graduate ever.  And since I didn’t take the summer classes I was supposed to, I really need to focus on those GEs.

However, I could only get into one class I needed; everything else was full.  No problem, thought I: I can show up to the first session of a class, and if there is room the teacher will add me.  I’ve never been denied a spot in a class I’ve had to add.

Famous last words.

First, I sat through a 3-hour Biology lecture and took 6 pages of notes.  In the end there were only 3 spots available, with at least 10 people ahead of me vying for those spots.  There was an identical class being held that day, but it overlapped the class I sat through, so I missed it.

The following day I arrived at school for an 8:40 am Anthropology class.  By the time I wound my way from the roof of the parking structure to the building, up the elevator to the 3rd floor and double-back to the wing I entered from, I was dripping with sweat.  Wouldn’t you know, room 301 was the last classroom at the end of the corridor.  As I walked farther and farther down, the collection of students waiting against the walls got thicker and thicker.  By the time I reached the classroom, the hallway walls were like the bottoms of sardine cans: packed tight from the far side of room 302 to the exit doors at the very end of the hall.  The building AC hadn’t quite kicked in yet, so those sardine can walls were closing in on me with every sticky, oxygen-deprived step.  I discovered that 301 was the only room that was dark and locked.  All these sardines were waiting for one room!  MY room!  There wasn’t enough no space in that one little class!

I didn’t even pause. I walked straight on, down the stairs, out of the doors I came in, and back to my car.  I grabbed my sister Shelly and went out for breakfast.

There was another Anthro class at noon.  By now the building was nice and icy, and there weren’t nearly so many people waiting in the hall.  Aaaand, there were exactly enough spaces in the class for the number of students wanting to add.  Score!

My final schedule:  English Literature to 1800; Modern Drama (another lit class); and Cultural Anthropology.  I entertained the idea of taking four classes this semester, but three is all I can handle.  So far my non-school days have been full of school work.  I’m trying to bleed more time for extracurricular things like sleeping and showering, or having lunch with a friend, which I couldn’t do today because I had too much homework.  😦

I was able to do something fun today:

Image

San Gabriel Mountains, 9-4-13

View Club shots! Miraculously I found a spot in the right parking structure.  It’s close to the library so it’s usually full.  We got lucky today.

Image

Construction 9-4-13

The building is mostly finished.  They’re holding classes in there already.  As you can see, we now know what it is:

Image

“Construction” is now the Center for the Arts

All the fine arts classes are there.  At the other end is the Boone Family Art Gallery, to go along with the Boone Sculpture Garden I suppose,

Image

Boone Sculpture Garden, 9-4-13

which looked lovely today despite the wretched heat.

I’m currently sitting outside on the east porch because the house feels like an oven, even here in the middle of the night.  Something akin to a huge flying cockroach just whizzed behind me and landed on the wall.  It’s going to eat me.  I think I’m done typing now.

Recipes and Garden Parts

Here are the Noncation recipes for Lemon-Sage Roasted Chicken and Warm Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches.  I made Broccoli Slaw, too, but that was a cheat:  1 bag of ready-made broccoli slaw, 1 cup of prepared cole slaw dressing, ½ cup of raisins, and 1 small package chopped peanuts billed as desert topping.  Mix, eat, love.

Guess what I found this morning?  Seedlings!  Four hollyhocks and three sunflowers.  The peat pots were nice and soaked, and a little bumble bee was having a grand time slurping the extra water off of them.  My pictures of all this were abysmal.

My fancy water pail

But here’s my fancy water pail for your amusement.

Sometime last Tuesday, while I was gone to The Sing-Off again (which was much shorter this time, and Daddy treated me to dinner after!), my spearmint plant fell over and the whole thing slid out of the pot.  By the time I found it the plant was completely dried out, crunchy leaves and all.  The stems and smallest leaves closest to the soil were still somewhat succulent, so I cut it back hard and brought it inside to convalesce at the kitchen window.

Spearmint before

Spearmint before

Spearmint after

Spearmint after

The rest of my beautiful plant fit into one small teabag.

The rest of the spearmint plant in one tiny teabag.

Spearmint tea

Honestly I wanted peppermint anyway, not spearmint, so I picked up this lovely

Peppermint

Peppermint

along with another spearmint for Jess, to help repel the aphids attacking her garden.  And I moved everything to an east-facing porch so they won’t scorch in the fierce sun and heat pounding down on us.

Aw, so perty

Aw, so perty

The east porch is also adjacent to the site of their future permanent home

Dirt and waning tomatoes today, herb garden eventually.

Dirt and waning tomatoes today, herb garden eventually.

School started for Drew last week.  A smooth transition into freshman year of high school.  He is going to start a club…I told you guys about that already, yes?  The Nerdist Club?  He’s ready to go with a faculty advisor, officers, members, a first activity/ fundraiser, even an endorsement from the creator of The Nerdist!  Now he just has to wait for the paperwork to become available, get 50 signatures (which will be super-easy, he says), and off he goes.

School starts for me tomorrow. I don’t want to goooo!  Technically school starts Tuesday, because all of the classes I registered for are on Tuesdays and Thursdays:  English Lit, Modern Drama, and Short Story Writing.  However, only English Lit is required; the rest of the classes I actually need were full, so I picked up Modern Drama and Short Story Writing as fillers.  I will attempt to add Biology and Cultural Anthropology by showing up to the first class meeting and hope that that teacher lets me in.  I have a list of 8 class meetings to try throughout the week.  If I get into any of them I will drop one or both of the fillers.  Ugh, what an ordeal.  Last year this was all very exciting, but this year I’m over it.  I’m sure once school starts and I’m into my routine, meeting new teachers and new classmates,  I’ll be fine, but today it’s hot and sticky and I’m being a cry baby.

One more load of laundry into the dryer, then it’s off to bed.  Good night, blogosphere!

Girl – the Chapbook

Yes, my friends, it has happened again:  another creative writing class with the indomitable  K.O., another chapbook assignment.  My plan was to be lazy and make a very small book (1/8 of a sheet of paper, to be exact) and use one very short poem.  However, K.O found out that I hadn’t been writing every day like I was supposed to be, and she threatened to murder me.  I have that in writing.  I may frame it.  So in the interest of keeping K.O. out of the slammer I decided to put more into my chapbook.

I ended up using the poem and two other short nonfiction pieces I already had.  All three have a female-centric thread in common, so I titled the chapbook Girl.  The cover is from a pack of blank greeting cards I found in the discount bin at Michael’s for a penny!  Scooooore!

And just for future reference, a small book does not mean less work.  It was more work, and I still didn’t get it right:  I simply got it to a good this-will-have-to-do point and let it go.

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Self-Possession came from an assignment to take two existing pieces, cut them up, and rearrange them into a poem.  I used a quiz from Cosmo magazine called Do You Rely Too Much On Your Friends?  with a horror story Andrew wrote.  He’s a pretty good writer, that kid.

School Portrait is a true story, about my fifth grade school picture.  I was so upset the first time I saw it that I refused to take pictures in sixth grade.  Every time I looked at it as a teenager, it made me cry.  When I felt grown-up and secure enough to face down that demon, I discovered that not only was the picture not so bad, but I looked exactly the same!  Major epiphany!

To Be A Prune has already made its way to this blog.  It’s still one of my favorites.

Enjoy!

R and R Week

(I tried to title this R&R Week, but the ampersand was not welcome.)

This is my rest and relaxation week.  No school.  No work.  A whole week of nothing.

Not really.  Without school or work, though, it sure feels like break!

First off, View Club shots.  I don’t have too many because I wasn’t on that end of campus much this past semester, but I managed my shots when I could.

San Gabriel Mountains, 4-24-13

San Gabriel Mountains, 4-24-13

Another day of hidden mountains.  We’ve since had a brush fire in our foothills.  It was a few blocks away from our apartment in Monrovia, which is much farther east than the [normal] view in this shot, but this whole mountain range is very fire-prone.

Construction, 4-24-13

Construction, 4-24-13

Lots of progress since our last shot.  I hear this is going to be some sort of science building.  It’s bumped right up against an old building that currently houses some of the tech and music classes.  The science classes are in a group of trailers called the Science Village.  So I’m still not positive about what this building is really for.

Sculpture Garden, 4-24-13

Sculpture Garden, 4-24-13

The big pampas grass that was chopped down is coming back.  The next time I take a shot of this area, I expect a lot more sun and foliage.

Smushy, 4 months

Smushy, 4 months

Look who’s learned to smile!  He does it all the time now.

Finals were last week.  The past few weeks have been tough ones, so when finals came I felt like a shipwrecked sailor crawling onto dry land.  My Spanish final was easier than I expected, and Creative Writing didn’t have a final exam, just a project:  another chapbook, which I’ll share in my next post.

For now, some unhappy news.  A few weeks ago, we found out we have to move…and that’s putting it kindly.  I suppose it’s never a good time for this sort of thing, but the timing is especially bad.  I was broadsided with the news while preparing for finals, and now with a 6-week Physics class looming I’m still moving and dealing and trying to reign in the chaos as best I can.  Thank every higher power in the universe that the kids and I have somewhere to go, but this is unimaginably un-ideal.  It’s so un-ideal that I have to make up my own word for it.  I actually have two made-up words for it:  apecially un-ideal.  There, now I’ve made up my own phrase. Apecially un-ideal =  really sucks a whole lot.

On top of that, the job at the coffee shop is over.  It makes me sad, but honestly I couldn’t hack it.  It was five hours of non-stop running, and physically it was murder.  If I came to work stressed, tired, or not feeling well, I couldn’t even fake it.  So the other waiter got his hours back, and he’s much faster and more competent than I ever would have been, so I think everything is right with that corner of the universe now.  The owner was very, very nice, and I’ve already been back to eat there more times than when I actually worked there.

Let’s look toward a more positive future.  I had an interview with a temp agency last week.  The lady was very excited about my resume, especially my phone experience.  She sent me on-line skills tests in typing, filing, Microsoft Word, and phone etiquette.  I aced the typing and filing, missed 4 out of 30 on the Word test, and…get this..missed 4 out of 37 on the phone test!  How did I miss any on the phone test?!  I’m sure that’s still an acceptable score but dude!  I am the phone etiquette queen!

As I mentioned already, I start a 6-week online Physics class next week.  The instructor sent everyone a list of questions to answer about ourselves.  He said when he has to teach without personal interaction, it’s easier when he knows as much as possible about his students.  The questions were mostly about our education.  It was like writing an essay so of course I had a field day.  I imagined that my maturity and wit would win him over and I’d be the class favorite before the class even started.  He replied to my email with, “Thanks!” followed by a message to the entire class with a correction about how he wanted their replies formatted.  Bubble, burst.

So lots of pot-stirring going on in my little bubbly cauldron, and I’m not going to lie: I am stressed the you-know-what out.  BUT…it could be a whole lot worse, and besides, it’s always darkest before the dawn, right?  And I have every confidence that if I stay on my path, we’re gonna see one heckuva sunrise.

I am off to construct my chapbook post.  Here’s a sneak peak to make you smile.

Chapbook #2 cover

Chapbook #2 cover

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

I keep meaning to post.  Really I do.  Alas, I haven’t done it.  Until now.  I am posting.  Currently.  Immediately.

I am unwell.  Long sentences hurt.  Everything hurts. I am drinking Theraflu and tea.  Together.  Ugh.

I have embarked on this week’s bloggy photo challenge in order to liven up today’s post.  These photos are from around my parents’ abodes in Pasadena and Ojai (and one at a fun place called Clockwork Couture).  So enjoy.  That’s an order.  *cough*

Red - poinsettia in Ojai

Red – poinsettia in Ojai

Last semester I dropped a class I knew I was not going to do well in.  Simply put, the instructor was senile.   I dropped it too late, however, and upset the Financial Aid gods.  (And we all know how well that hasn’t been going.)  In order to appease them I have to file a petition to be reinstated, and include an education plan.  Getting in to see a counselor for an education plan is ridiculously difficult at my school, but I finally did it.

Orange - citrus in Ojai

Orange – citrus in Ojai

I had to wait in line for an hour just to make the frickin’ appointment!  My laptop and an episode of Downton Abbey took the edge off, though.

The meeting went very, very well.  I’ll spare you the boring details and cut right to the chase:  if all goes as planned, I will be graduating next Spring!

Yellow - chips in Pasadena

Yellow – chips in Pasadena

I will have an AA in Humanities.

Green - elephant ear plant in Pasadena

Green – elephant ear plant in Pasadena

And an AAT (Associate of Arts for Transfer) in English!  Two degrees at one time!

The counselor said university applications need to be submitted as soon as the Fall semester starts.  That’s only four months away.  I think I went pale when she told me that. *L*  I’ve been chipping away at this education for almost 20 years, and I was beginning to fear I’d be a career PCC student.

Turquoise - forgotten paper decoration in Pasadena

Turquoise – forgotten paper decoration in Pasadena

What this means, though, is that I don’t have room to take any more classes just for fun.  Not that I took any superfluous classes this year (except for my 1-unit independent study class for Inscape), but they were classes I particularly enjoyed.  I thought I had some wiggle room to fit in a few more, like Poetry and Spanish 2 and 3.  Nope.  No more creative writing classes.  No more Spanish.  I met the requirements and I have to move on.  Boo.  I mean, YAY! *hack hack cough cough sputter*

Blue - TARDIS in Burbank

Blue – TARDIS in Burbank

A couple weeks ago I served on a panel for a conference at school called Borders of Diversity.  It’s hard to pin down an exact description of this conference, but I’d say it was a social awareness thing.  There were student project posters all around presenting a variety of social problems, and the panels ranged from the environment to Autism to various forms of expression as a means of social…awareness, I guess.

Alls I know is that the Inscape instructor asked us to participate in a very informal creative writing panel, so I showed up.  I stressed about it all day, but in the end all we did was arrange some chairs in a circle and talk about Inscape with about a dozen people.  And snack on cheese squares and grapes.

Purple - recycle bin in Pasadena

Purple – recycle bin in Pasadena

And listen to a woman pitch a piece she wants to write advocating masturbation education as part of the sex ed curricula in schools.  Well now.

Lavender and yellow - lantana in Pasadena

Lavender and yellow – lantana in Pasadena

As part of this whole thing, we were asked to participate in a short interview for a show on the school’s radio station.  So earlier in the week I met with a lovely woman (seriously, we need to hang out) named Dot, who hosts a weekly news show called Over Coffee focusing on arts and community events.  We talked mostly about my writing, and she had even been here to read my blog!  I wasn’t quite expecting that, but I think I did alright.  It was pre-recorded so I was easily editable.  It aired the same day as the conference, and at the same time I was watching guest of honor Dan Kwong, so I missed it.  I’ve been waiting for it to post on-line so I could share it with you all, but eh: I’m not too keen on listening to myself anyway.  ;o)

Pink - rose in Pasadena

Pink – rose in Pasadena

So that’s all for my exciting past couple of weeks, culminating in illness.  I will try to consult with the first-come first-serve High Priestess of Financial Aid Petitions this week, so cross your fingers that I can get this all sorted out quickly.  And then rub your lucky rabbit’s foot for a quick end to this snotty, coughy, achy thing I have going on.  Or pray.  Prayers are good, too.

*achoo*

I Must Admit

I am procrastinating.  Completely.  Utterly.  Unabashedly.  Well, maybe a little abashedly.

I’m working on a project for Creative Writing that has been sort of a nightmare.  My group has not worked well as a team.  As a result our project is late, and the instructor gave us the option to do separate projects.  Ouch.  She also told me to stop being so nice and doing so much of the work, but I can’t help it:  maybe it’s the mother in me, but I don’t want anyone to be left behind even if they deserve it.  I’m very protective of my team.

My official part of the project is anything that has to be done on-line, so right now I am supposed to be setting up a blog in order to make our project available publicly.  I am having a hard time finding a theme that works for me.  So here I am, procrastinating in this blog instead.

By the way, our project is on a book that started out as a blog, isn’t that a coinkydink?  It’s called Galerie de Difformité by Gretchen Henderson.  You should check it out, especially if you’re a writer.  The more you read through it the more sense it sort of makes.  I am a little heartbroken that I will have to resell my copy.

I have View Club shots from Wednesday, when it was nice and overcast.  Nearly perfect weather in my opinion, as I like it cool enough to need a light jacket and arm warmers, but not so cold that I need a scarf and hat.  Ideally it is also raining, but that’s a tall order here in the SoCal.

San Gabriel Mountains, 3-20-13

San Gabriel Mountains, 3-20-13

Construction, 3-20-23

Construction, 3-20-23

Boone Sculpture Garden, 3-20-13

Boone Sculpture Garden, 3-20-13

Now that Jess is helping her aunt, I get to see this sweet face more often:

Smushy at 10 weeks

Smushy at 10 weeks

He already has his daddy’s crooked smile and his mommy’s terribly sad cry.  No matter how many babies I see enter this world and grow, they never cease to be amazing.

Have a lovely weekend!

J Story and the Wizard of Oz

One day several weeks ago in Creative Writing class, we were finishing up the day’s activity which involved a crazy freewriting exercise that our professor participated in with us.  She had just remarked how funny it was that she and two other students referenced the Wizard of Oz, when someone found a little plastic bead on the floor with the letter J on it.  Our professor immediately assigned us a 300-word fictitious story about the origin of the bead, and it had to reference the Wizard of Oz somehow.

300 words isn’t much, and it didn’t take me long to come up with a story, but I just couldn’t get it out.  Usually I go a different route if what I want to write isn’t working, but I knew I had this, so it’s been nagging at me.

Today I finally got this sucker out!  Wanna read it?

Tisoré held her large, round belly and sank into the wooden rocking chair in the nursery.  One toe, the only part of her body that wasn’t bloated and tired, pushed off the floor to set the chair into a soothing back-and-forth motion. She began to hum a lullaby in time to the rhythm of the rocking, feeling at one with her unborn daughter.

Tisoré wanted a simple name for her: perhaps Emma or Lily or Jane.  Her husband, Breygard, however, insisted on visiting the Mystic Namegiver.  He made the trip to the Emerald City himself, and proudly returned with a tiny, square-beaded bracelet, white with black letters bearing the name Jenniah.

Jenniah.  Tisoré hated it. It was ugly and inconvenient, like the gaudy nursery Breygard insisted on filling with expensive antique furnishings.  Like the clothes Tisoré wore, even now:  too tight or short or revealing, lest Breygard ridicule her for being frumpy.  Like her too-long hair, because the last time she cut it Breygard didn’t speak to her for a week.  Like any choice she made without Breygard’s approval.

Tisoré inhaled deeply as she opened her eyes, but the breath stalled in her chest when she caught sight of that bracelet, mocking her from its perch on the goldwood changing table.  The chair stopped rocking.  Heart pounding, Tisoré jumped up, stormed over to the garish table, and snatched up the bracelet.  With a strangled howl she ripped it in two, sending a small explosion of beads showering through the air and skittering around the room.  Her body crumbled to the floor as she sobbed her frustration and helplessness into her empty hands.

Eventually, Tisoré ran out of energy and tears.  She placed a hand on the floor to heave herself up and felt a small crunch under her palm.  Lifting her hand, she found the crumbled remains of the H- lettered bead, and with a jolt of fear thought of Breygard.  Quickly she crawled around the room to collect the rest of the beads, grabbed a needle and length of elastic thread from her sewing box, and set about repairing the bracelet.   She knew Breygard wouldn’t notice the missing H:  he was controlling, yes, but none too bright, and a particularly bad speller.  She froze in a cold panic, however, when she realized she was also missing the J.  It was a glaring omission he was bound to notice, intelligent or not.

Or was it?

A delicious wave of excitement rippled through Tisoré.  The Mystic Namegiver wasn’t called mystic for nothing, right?  What if…

She strung the remaining beads onto the elastic, tied off the ends, placed it back on the changing table, and waited.  She, a poor, feeble-minded female, would bat her eyelashes and feign ignorance of such great things, deferring instead to her omniscient husband.   She giggled at the thought of using his bloated ego against him.  Would he really fall for it?  She had no choice but to try.

Many years later, Tisoré sat in the rocking chair, pushing herself back and forth with one toe against the floor.  Her daughter stood in the middle of the nursery, hands on her own swollen belly, supervising the renovations while she swayed gently and hummed a lullaby to her unborn daughter.   The room was too dark and fancy for a child, to be sure, but it wasn’t so bad.  Her mother, however, was rather insistent that she make it her own.

Two men inched past her, carrying an ornate goldwood dresser, followed by her husband.  “Annie,” he asked, “Where did this come from?”  He placed a tiny square bead into her hand:  white, marked with a black letter J.

Annie started, and turned the bead over in her fingertips.  “I don’t know.  It looks like one of the beads on my name bracelet.  Look at this, Mother.  Do you know where it came from?”

Tisoré neither opened her eyes nor interrupted her rocking rhythm.  “No idea.  Chuck it.”