Sorry to address this letter in a form letter fashion, but I'm afraid I don't know how to mailmerge ... or to export a mailing list from our database ... or to get into the database in the first place. So I'm just going to photocopy the printed list from last year (thank God for my predecessor's mania for hardcopies) and cut and glue it onto the envelopes. I'm sure there's an easier way, but I don't know it. (If you know how to do any of these things, I sure could use a volunteer. I'm a program man myself, not an admin.)
I'm writing to ask you to make a donation to the Save Our Forests Alliance.
As you may know, it's been a hard year for the SOFA. We lost half our board of directors in an "attempted coup" and then the other half resigned when they discovered that their takeover was illegal and they'd have to invite the first half back for mediation. The first half declined to return to where they weren't wanted.
But their loss, right? After all, we're the premiere anti-deforestation organization in our part of the Midwest. Anyone who can't put the mission ahead of personal agendas doesn't need to be a part of that. But we know that you, dear Donor, are an intrinsic part of that.
The only downside to losing selfish board members was that our treasurer was in charge of our accounts, and s/he won't return my calls (I was advised by a lawyer not to name names or hint about genders on official documents,) and there's something strange going on with the bank misrecording our account activity so that our accounts are reading zero. But I haven't been confirmed as executive director by the board (because we no longer have one; that should all be fixed as soon as I get ahold of our advisory board members and get them to step onto the board on an interim basis, but as I said, I can't get into the database so I don't know who they are; if you're one of our advisors, could you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org?) so I can't access our account records or demand an accounting from the bank. They keep referring me to our former treasurer.
Because our now-erstwhile E.D. had been fired previous to the board breakdown (the one thing they all could agree on was that the only effective leader in the organization had to go) the remaining managers couldn't access the accounts, and the staff couldn't be paid. No one wanted to listen to my explanation that it would all be sorted out eventually, when our lawsuit came up in court and we were able to get a judge to order our bank records to be released. So we lost our entire staff. No one was willing to work on spec or (God forbid!) volunteer for a few weeks. I understand; we're in a recession. But the forests can't save themselves, can they?
We at SOFA know that you know they can't. Which is why we need your help today. We're asking our most loyal donors to make a gift of $500, $100, $50, or whatever you can afford, to help us continue our valuable work.
We have the infrastructure, and the programs in place. All we need is some interim funding to get our operations going again. We still have that giant spool of nickel-plated chain, shiny and new and waiting to bind our volunteers to the trees in front of the capitol building. We still have our office (for another month, until the eviction goes through) and it's not to late to pay up our back rent and stay here! We could even start programming again, if our volunteer coordinator would only send me the spreadsheet of volunteer contacts. I know I shouldn't have slept with her when I knew I was getting back together with my girlfriend, but the girlfriend didn't work out after all, and anyway, I don't think our forests should be punished for my mistake, do you?
Please help. We can't do this vital work without you.
I'd enclose a remittance envelope, but I don't know where they are. I've put our address at the bottom of the letter however (I would have used letterhead, but I don't know where that is, either) to make things a little easier on you. I'm writing you because I know that you, like me, still have the passion for our forests, and can still see the forests without getting lost in the trees of doubters and haters and less-than-committed people.
Together, we can make this country great again. Please give today.
Our best wishes for the holiday season.
Interim Executive Director
p.s.: Don't forget to ask your employer to match your donation! You could double or triple your donation that way! Please give today!
This is my second NaBloWriMo instant fiction post: short short stories I'm writing every day throughout November, mostly inspired by online videos and images. Stay tuned for another one tomorrow.
She looked at him with disgust, but when she spoke, her tone was even.
"Is there any way I can convince you that the boyish grin is counter-productive?"
It was a question, but phrased as a statement. One of her teenaged students had asked her recently -- not entirely sarcastically -- if there were any upsides to growing old("-er" she had added silently) and losing one's highs and lows. Since then she had been ticking them off, somewhat desperately, in her head. Here was another one: the skill of modulating her tone of voice to suggest a richness of meanings -- double, triple, and quadruple meanings -- without even much having to try.
With this one sentence, she had conveyed her contempt, but also amusement, affection, longtime shared knowledge, weariness, and, finally, an openness (nonetheless) to whatever his boyish grin was trying to sell. She conveyed her preference that he learn how to just state his desire without trying to win her over. She could see the messages all received. Maybe it was her skill. But maybe they just knew each other too well at this point.
And maybe it was impossible for him to change. Maybe he was far too old a dog.
"It's just a date," he said. "Boyish grins shouldn't impact your decision."
"Aren't we past dating? Shouldn't we be watching videos at home with our hands on our paunches?"
"Why do you care what people think?" She wasn't sure if this was one of the advantages or disadvantages of growing old(er) with someone: that you can skip whole explanatory chunks of an argument.
"I care what people think because what they think could get me fired. I'm not supposed to be dating my students."
"I'm not your student."
"If any of my students see me with you, they'll try to flirt with me to get an A."
"Are you giving me an A?"
Definitely a disadvantage. She had enjoyed this sort of comment (with accompanying raffish grin) when she was a girl. Then she had tolerated it. Now she found the whole thing abhorrent. Did his emotional development get frozen along with his body? She wondered that more and more. The next time they moved, she'd have to make him her son.
"Please?" His begging was disgusting, but also genuinely pathetic. She relented, more out of habit than anything else.
"We can go see a movie," she said. He jumped up and down with annoying irony. "But I get to choose which one. ... And don't try to hold my hand this time. Promise?"
"Promise," he said immediately, and with the same date-night inflection that meant he wouldn't keep that promise. Ugh. She felt smothered by the teen-boy attentions in public. It wasn't just what other people thought. It was also what she thought. He looked like a baby to her now. It just wasn't sexy anymore.
Nowadays, silver foxes turned her head. It was like some old-guy pheromone switch had gotten pulled in her libido. She couldn't help it. When she went to conferences these days, she nearly got whiplash from all the cross-angle ogling. She'd cheated on him several times with the tenured, and then had to shower three or four times to try to get the smell off. She still wasn't sure it had worked. Did he know? Did he put up with it the same way she put up with him? Why didn't he just leave? Wouldn't she prefer it?
She didn't have any answers.
This is the first of my instant fiction posts for NaBloWriMo. I'm going to write a short short story every day throughout November, inspired by a video or image I see online. I make no promises about quality.
I used to watch him after school. You can get really close to the basket in the gym if you crawl under the little risers on the short side, rather than the main ones on the long side. I was right behind the basket. From there I'd be facing him as he ran towards me. I had to sit on some of the struts with my head at stomach-level, otherwise, if he just looked across, he'd see me. I could've stood up, but then he'd've seen me. I'm taller'n him. By a lot. That's part of the point.
I used to joke with myself that I could hide in the dark in a way that he couldn't, but it's not really that dark under the bleachers; the flourescents get everywhere, and it's more like a bright grey down there.
So what I had was a great view of his stomach, which was interesting, because when you're playing, or when you're watching people play, the one thing you never look at is their stomachs. He used to wear these normal sized t-shirts in high school -- back before everybody had to wear oversize stuff even on the court -- so when he reached for it his shirttail would ride up and I could watch how his stomach muscles stretched and bunched. It's something you never think about, you just do it, or don't do it. And early on, he did it wrong. You could tell by the way his stomach muscles worked. And as he caught on and started to do it right, you could see the difference in the way his stomach worked.
I learned a lot from this, but that's not why I watched him. I mean, we didn't know each other very well. We didn't socialize. After a while I got really aware of what my belly was doing and I could visualize it in my head and make it do what I wanted it to do that way. And I made sure that I never did what he was doing. He was like a negative example.
I guess it's weird. I don't know. He had something that no one else had. He was always an alternate, and senior year, he didn't even make the team. He improved a lot, but so did the rest of us, and we started out ahead. His thing was that he never gave up. It's not like it sounds. It's not like: "Dude is so cool, he never gives up." Everybody gives up. Everybody gives up. The guys who make the team, the guys who start, like me, we're determined, and disciplined, and all that. We work for it, hard. But none of us work for it if we don't get some idea early on that we're going to be good, if we don't get, like, praise, and encouragement, and "you're a rock star!" and shit. We need to know that the work is going somewhere.
He didn't need to know that the work was going somewhere. He just kept doing it and doing it. It was so obvious that he was never going to get the Stuff. He might never make the team, and if he did, he wasn't going pro. Not ever. Too short. He quit growing at 15 already, it was pretty obvious. He did it beyond the point that normal people get bored. I'd watch him go at it for, like, two hours after school; set up after set up, fail after fail. His progress was so slow you couldn't see it. Not at all. I'd get bored watching him and wouldn't do it for a few months, and when I came back, he'd be better, but so little better that I'd be discouraged. All we ever said to each other was a chin-jerk. But there's something about that ability to just keep doing it that gets under my skin, you know? In what way, I'm not sure.
I don't know if I admire it or not. Dude won a YouTube contest. Yeah. Good for him. But then what? I mean, maybe that time could've been spent going again and again and again at something he was actually going to be really, really good at, and not just good at because he spent so damn many hours. And what about all the other stuff around it? I mean, that username: whiteflightbd. It's not like he doesn't know. His dad pushed that on him. Thought it was funny. Fine, whatever, but he could've done one less dunk and spent that time thinking for a second about how that name was a bad idea. I can't even feel bad for him 'cause I was the rock star in school and he wasn't. He was the weird kind of in, but not really, dude who had people to hang out with but no real close friends. Or maybe he did and I just didn't know any of them. All my friends played, maybe his friends didn't. Maybe that's why he wasn't that good.
I don't know if I admire him or if I think he's kind of sad and horrible. No, I didn't obsess much. But there's something in him that I just don't have, something that no one I know has. And maybe that's a good thing. Because there's something in me, something much more obvious, that he just doesn't have. And I'd rather have mine than his.
Please note, folks, this is fiction! I just made it up! I don't know this guy or anything about him!
It was Lita's favorite movie when she was 16 and, since she did herself in on her 17th birthday, it had to do as her favorite movie for all time.
Menny didn't feel any guilt for being bratty to her, or for her last words to Lita being "I hate you!" because they had fought about Menny being too little to go on the excursion Lita had planned with her friends and Menny had stormed out and slammed the door, and Lita had offed herself late that night before Menny got to see her again and receive her apology. What she felt guilty for, all this time, was how she had told Lita a few months before that her loving that movie was stupid.
"You're not even black!" she told Lita, sneeringly, and Lita said, "You don't have to be black."
Menny didn't like saying "black." But it was true. And that made the whole argument all the more disturbing.
For their friend Angela's eighties-themed, fancy-dress 35th birthday, Robin suggested that, since it was also the 20th anniversary of the film, they go as Rosie Perez and Radio Raheem. Robin could get love/hate rings made and carry a boom box, and Menny could learn the intro dance and go in satin boxer shorts, boxing gloves, and a black jog bra. Menny had never not wanted to do something so much in her life, but she had no words for why. She had no words for it at all, not "yes," or "no," so Robin took it as a given, and got Menny the shorts and gloves the next day. Two days later, the film arrived on netflix.
Menny got started learning the dance as she did with all projects, right away. From the opening squeal of "Fight the Power," through every thump of the break, down to the flicking hips at the end, she felt like she was one gyration away from throwing up. After the second run-through, she could no longer remember what Lita was actually wearing, or how she actually did her hair. Lita's face was now framed by Rosie Perez' fluffy, layered do. Lita was now standing in her room in a shiny blue leotard, over shiny, electric blue leggings, and warmed by a severely cropped black pleather jacket. She was running-manning out the door, thrusting her entire body, incrementally, through the door with shoulder pops.
Okay, this is obviously the beginning to a longer story, which I got stuck on. I'll just post it as is.
What did you do today?
Oh, I just ran around a bit, then hung out in the yard.
Ran around doing what?
I'm not really sure. I mean, I was chasing this other car, but first it was chasing me, then I hid. Or something. Then I chased it. It was weird.
Then it exploded.
You got a bullet hole.
In your windshield.
What? Lemmesee ...
I can't believe you didn't notice.
Well, I was busy.
Damn. Damn! It's gonna take days to fix. Days!
Me, it takes weeks. ... It doesn't look that bad.
No, I'm serious, it doesn't look that bad. It looks kinda cool. In fact. It's cool damage. Not like losing a hubcap or something ...
Shit. Shit! Shit shit shit!
Oh, I didn't notice before.
Seriously? I didn't even notice!
It's not that noticeable, I swear. It's only 'cause I said it. It's not like you have those fancy hubcaps or anything ...
I used to!
... Well, I'd be more worried about the dents.
Seriously? They're not that bad.
On the side. The bullet hole side. They're not that bad.
Argh! Then why did you say you'd be worried about them?
Well, you know, even little dents can end up nasty if they don't fix right away.
What do you mean?
Well, you know ... rust.
Seriously? That's, like, the one thing I got over you. Only the one thing, but ... you know ... anti-dent paneling and anti-rust treatment probably sounds pretty sweet right now, huh?
Argh! Shut up!
Sorry. ... But seriously, you look cool.
The lonely phallus said to the lights, "What art thou?"
"A bright-living, fast-dying phenomenon," the lights said, "neither male nor female. With pretty hair. No, you can't fuck me."
The lonely phallus sighed. "How did you know I wanted to fuck you?"
"Everyone wants to fuck me," the lights replied. "Women want to squeeze the brightness and heat between their thighs, want to have radiant scorch-marks. Men want to dive in, as you do, head towards the light, go back to death, and not forward, irrevocably. I don't know what the transgendered want to do. It's probably not categorical. Children want to give me a wet willy or the chills, depending. Or they want to see how to hold a shifting ball of light between their hands, before swallowing it."
The lonely phallus said, "I am true to my own nature. Nothing else."
"As am I," the lights said back.
The lonely phallus asked, "And what is that nature?
"The essence of light, it is a great secret," the lights said, "but I'll tell you if you give me your mirror."
The lonely phallus looked as pleased as a phallus can look when it is already fully erect, "I was already considering giving you my mirror, it said. "To double your pretty hair."
"Then listen closely," the lights said. But they had already faded by this time.
In those days, Marilyn earned her last name. She was a dove of a woman, sitting outside your window uttering plump, satisfied sounds while a scrap of paper whirled uncatchable around your making-waffles kitchen floor.
In those days we couldn't imagine Tom and Al apart. They each had a tattoo: Al on his left buttock of Tom's name in lowercase with "A-L" in blockletters in the spaces between; Tom on his right buttock of exactly the reverse. They eddied in love on the window sill, puddled in love on the kitchen floor, humped big piles of laundry love on the living room carpet.
They were blank walls to one another tAoLm and Marilyn. She couldn't hear him past the glare, and he could see nothing sexy in her. The muffs of her side-hairs dampened sound, bent rainbows around her head. All beautiful men were gay; all beautiful women wore four-inch heels and pony tails. The afternoon was solid; the night was silver, the mornings gold.
That day of taping she lost two sequins at once in the dressing room; looking for them on the floor she saw them configured together with the gash of a stargazer lily stamen like this:
and she knew something was going to happen. In the hallways, as the young clipboard women called "time!" and "time!" and "five minutes please, everybody five minutes!" a breath of ice touched her clavicle and a man walked by her, free and free. Three sequin-shapes wriggled down the left leg of his tight pants and fell out onto the floor. She stood over them, reading an "o," an "m," and a "t."