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E is for Empty

…and also for excuses, of which I have a great deal — though, since I assume you all don’t care to read a post about all the Eschoolwork I have to do and how it’s the busy season at work and family trips hogging up time and paperwork that needs to be filed and doctor trips to be scheduled and how my life is just too hard and boo wah sob sob, I’ll just offer my apologies for neglecting my blog. Except apologies doesn’t start with E. I’ll give you my epologies?

(I just googled “epology” and apparently it’s an apology offered electronically. I’m such a genius, knowing words I didn’t even know.)

So, I think I’ve pretty much failed at this whole A to Z Challenge thing. Like, I think maybe I missed a day or two or fourteen. But it’s been fun blogging the alphabet, so I’m gonna keep doing it. Any complaints? Really? Well, who cares, it’s my blog I can do what I want to. MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

I’m sorry. I’ve drunk like a gallon of caffeine today and I only got about five hours of sleep last night. So I’ll just move on to the meat of this post.

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Empty

we were eating Chinese at my place.
paper packages scattered across the table, tabs stuck open–
scents spilling over.
noodles flick my nose, dribble down my chin.
ha, u pig, says Joey.

bits of sugar-coated cardboard broken open with a crack,
horoscopes and fate, silly things.
what’s your lucky number? who will you marry? who
should you not?
tug, my fortune pulls free.
–stop.

u ok? Amber says.
yeah, I say. ha, my fortune’s blank.
the 1 in ur cookie? Joey says.
lemme see, says Dean.
I open the slip, flip it
over.
blank, empty, nothing.
wat, says Amber.
haha, says Dean.
you got no fortune, Joey says.

you got no fortune.

I send a smile,
so they know I know it’s a joke.
not real.
but I can’t help but stare at the stark, blank whiteness
of my empty fortune

as it falls
from my fingers
to the floor.
loud, in the silence.

lonely, in the emptiness.

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This poem is probably the oddest thing I’ve ever written. (And that’s saying something, all things considered.) I think I love it. Or maybe I hate it. It’s remarkable how similar those emotions are.

Anyway, I wrote this for a poetry class. We’ve been studying various techniques and styles, and reading through lots and lots and lots of contemporary poetry. Some of the sort of minimalistic styles caught my attention, and I felt inspired to try it out myself. Or maybe I was just drunk. (Except I don’t drink, but I suppose reading too much poetry could cause the same effect.)

Love Potatoes. Click Stalk.

Love Potatoes. Click Stalk.

So, I’m curious — what did you all think? Do you like minimalist styles? Or is it just lazy writing? Do you think that writing that way can accomplish anything? Do you think my poem accomplished anything? Did you catch any hidden morals or messages in my poem? (Hint: There was supposed to be a hidden message, but I think I made it too subtle.)

D is for Dangerous

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“And then,” Shannon leaned in close, her voice hardly more than a whisper, “they kissed.”

“Oho, Ms. Hale!” I exclaimed, clapping my hands together. “I see what you did there. That was rather clever, really.”

The woman leaned back in her seat, taking a sip from her steaming mug of cocoa to hide her smile. “Well, I do pride myself on my rapier wit.”

I reached for the crusty bear-shaped bottle of honey set on the kitchen table, scraping some of the crystallized sugary goodness out and stirring it into my tea. The secret to the perfect brew is to use old, nearly solid honey. That way, it melts slowly and you get to suck the little leftover bits off of the spoon. “I am simply adoring all of these science jokes,” I continued. “Warms me right down to my nerdy bones.”

“Oh, it’s just too much fun,” Shannon said. “But what do you think of Dragon?”

“Well, the name did catch my attention,” I said, nodding thoughtfully. “Though I did think for a moment he was a transgender. Weird misunderstanding there.”

Shannon laughed, nearly snorting hot chocolate all over the table. “Really?” she said. “Oh, goodness!”

I giggled. “I know! Not to mention–” I cut off, a strange, high-pitched whistling noise ringing in my ears.

Then the kitchen exploded.

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The above excerpt accurately represents my reaction to Shannon Hale’sd most recent novel, Dangerous. (Which, for my fellow A to Z challengers, is my D for today.)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this review, however, I would like to offer the following disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Shannon Hale. I adore her books. I read her blog. I wish she was my next door neighbor so we could talk books and writing and political issues and how gosh darn cute her kids are. As such, I might be slightly biased in my review. But that’s okay, because I’ll try to be entertaining while I’m about it.

Dangerous is a book about super heroes. It’s also a book about first love, about trusting your family, about doing what’s right even when you’re scared out of your mind, and also just how awesome(ly fun) it is to be a science nerd. If you like science fiction, or super heroes, or Shannon Hale, I highly recommend this book.

To be completely honest, though, the first section of the book might feel a little bit…meh. Mediocre? No, not exactly — more distant, really. The entire first part of the book I got this surreal sensation that I was simply skimming the book, pausing to snicker at a few well-placed jokes. I understand now that this first section is not the story Hale was setting out to tell, but it was necessary background for the rest of the book to make sense. I kind of wish she’d told it in flashbacks rather than skimping on the details, but I had fun with it either way — even if only because it felt like a fantastic little tea party with one of my favorite authors.

And then the first character died, which basically dropped a nuclear bomb on my tea party.

But in a good way.

dangerous

For a science fiction novel splattered with super heroes, aliens, alien technology, space elevators, and mutant diseases, Dangerous felt like a strangely realistic book to me. The danger feels real, the emotions feel real, but more than anything, the world feels real. I can’t really figure out how to explain this. For example, when Maisie, our main character, gets herself into trouble, she actually involves her parents. Which I can never, in the history of ever, recall reading in a YA novel before.

I don’t know what else to say but read this book. I loved the characters. I loved the story. Sure, there were places where the distant, skimming-writing pulled me out, but the humor more than made up for it. It’s a fun read, and I can (almost) guarantee you’ll love it as much as I did.

And now, in closing (and since I promised Sabrina A. Fish more corny puns), what do you call a dangerous precipitation? A rain of terror.

C is for Clarissa (and also for Crap)

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I have lots of C’s today. I have a Cold, which is making meC Cranky because I feel like Crap*. (I also discovered that the true definition of “mature adult” is “going to work when you feel like you’ve had your brains sucked out of your ear and then stuffed up your nose, then been hit by a train, eaten by a rabid dog, and puked up again — because gosh darn it, you’ve got bills to pay”.) C also stands for Crazy, which explains why Clarissa has been Chattering in my brain all day, bugging me to do something Creative (which I haven’t done, on account of aforementioned Crappiness). I’ve also been Complaining a lot, in case you hadn’t noticed.

But since I ought to be taking this Challenge seriously (and not just throwing random Capitalized words starting with C throughout my post, which I’m going to Cease doing now. Honest.), I’ll introduce my A to Z challenge visitors to Clarissa.

You may have noticed the name of my blog is “Ham and Potatoes” — and if you haven’t, scroll up. It’s written in the big letters at the top of the page. The Ham is for me, Hammlington. The Potatoes is what I fondly call the alternate versions of the creature that is me, with Clarissa being the embodiment of my artistic/distracted/odd side. She’s responsible for the poetry and the drawings I post on my blog. And since I’m dedicating this post to her, I’ll share some examples:

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dragon IMG_2093 manga - Jackson 2 crapaliciouswebcamBabyNassanWIP IMG_2097 drawing - Duckling 3 drawing - hug IMG_2094 dragon - Flight

Fevered Dreams

The howl of the moon
The depth of the sun
The universe spread above
With stars falling
Falling
Like a broken heart’s tears

The darkness writhes
The sunshine, blinding
And all that’s left of the world
Is stone crumbling
Crumbling
Into the desert waste

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(Random bonus C: one of my favorite songs is “Cemeteries of London” by Coldplay.)

What C word do you feel like today? Do you know any magical cures for a cold? Are rambling posts okay, or should I stick to posting fiction? What is your favorite song that starts with C?

You know what else starts with C? Comments! And also cacidrosis, but that doesn’t anything to do with this post.

*I apologize if the word “crap” offends anyone. I generally try to avoid swear words, even borderline ones, but some days slinging variations of the word “poo” around just makes you feel better. Plus, it starts with C.

B is for Brains

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Have you ever realized how many body parts start with B? I mean,B there’s body, obviously, along with butt, belly, belly button, breast, and beard (if you include facial hair as a body part). And then there’s the B parts we generally don’t like to see outside of bodies, like blood, bones, and brains. SO MANY OPTIONS. But, since it’s late at night and I have yet to post anything for Day Two of the A to Z challenge, I went for the one my slap-happy mind found most humorous. (Which means zombies. And gore. I do apologize, really.)

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Deadly Humor

“You know,” I croaked, “I’m getting really tired of all these BRAAAAIIINS jokes. They get” — I paused to slurp my lower jaw back into place — “old real fast, you know?”

Barton hopped in a vaguely nod-like manner. “HAA-RAT TAT TAT TAT TUT!” he exclaimed. The skull wasn’t technically a zombie, but he was a nice guy and fun to have around. Plus, considering the Intact Act, we made it a point not to discriminate based on level of decay.

“Barton’s right,” slurred a young zombie — young in undead terms, as none of us were quite certain how old we used to be — who insisted her name was Bloody Bones. “Like, really? There’s more to being dead than eating brains.”

“Quite so,” said Quentin. “Not only are such jokes offensive, they ridicule zombie intelligence and imply a certain lack of perception regarding the nature of the undead. I’d say they’re told in rather poor taste, truthfully.”

There were agreeing moans all around, though chances were half of the group didn’t understand a word out of Quentin’s mouth. Words longer than two syllables were difficult to decipher when your ear drums were rotting. Though, Quentin’s curious way of speaking prompted frequent debates over whether he had once been a teacher, a politician or some sort of scientist, or possibly merely British.

“What, you mean you dead-heads don’t like brains?”

Frieda jumped out of her skin in surprise — literally. We all turned, joints cracking, to look at the small band of humans, shotguns in hand, peering over the whitewashed fence locking them in their backyard.

“Ugh,” I said, partly because humans are annoying and I was expressing my disgust, but mostly because they were too far away for me to tear them to shreds before they blew my head off with their shotguns.

“DA-TAT TAT,” Barton agreed.

“Actually,” Quentin said, “I would imagine that a fondness for brains would be more a matter of personal taste. This obsessive brain craving humans casually attribute to the undead is an unfounded stereotype, as zombies’ dining preferences vary quite as much as humans’. There are other variables too, of course, such as availability, quality, convenience–”

“Oh,” one of the humans interrupted, a tall one that smelled of cheese and sweat. “I got one. Knock knock!”

There was an awkward silence. “Uh,” said Bloody Bones. “Who’s there?”

“Zombie!”

“Zombie who?”

“BRAAAAIIINS!”

The humans all burst out in snorts and guffaws while we shuffled uncomfortably.

“Was that even meant to be funny?” Quentin asked incredulously. “Generally speaking, a knock-knock joke involves some sort of word play, or puns, or some situational humor at least.”

“Hey,” said a squat male that smelled vaguely of broccoli, and possibly cow dung, “Here’s a good one. What do zombies wear when it’s raining?”

“Well, assuming we–” Quentin was cut off again.

“A BRAAAAIIIN-coat!” The humans descended into laughter again.

Frieda sniffed, though I wasn’t sure whether it was in disdain or an effort to hide the bluish fluid leaking from her nostrils. “Really,” she said dryly. “You can’t be more creative than that?”

Cheese and Sweat clapped his hands together gleefully. “What did the zombie say to his girlfriend?”

A thin-faced human that might have been female gasped. “Oh, I know this one! ‘I just love a woman with BRAAAAIIINS!'”

I raised an eyebrow. Or, I think I did. Did I still have my eyebrows? Frieda and Quentin were grumbling quietly, while Barton adopted a look of pained tolerance. Bloody Bones looked positively livid.

The female-ish human cackled, hooking its shotgun over one shoulder. “What do vegan zombies like to eat? GRAAAAIIINS!”

“Ha!” laughed Cow Dung. “How about: how do zombies like to travel?” He paused, sniggering. “TRAAAAIIINS!”

“Or, what do zombies like to eat for breakfast? Raisin BRAAAAIIINS!”

The humans were gulping for breath, choking on their own laughter. I peered sideways at Quentin, tempted to roll my eyes but worried I might lose one if I tried. We shuffled closer, eyeing the wheezing humans.

“Why did the zombie cross the road?”

“To get to the BRAAAAIIINS!”

I reached over the fence, grabbing Cheese and Sweat by the throat. The laughter cut off suddenly, evolving into panicked screams and shouts. A couple of gunshots rang out, and the air was tangy with the scent of blood.

As the last scream faded off into gurgles, I faintly heard Bloody Bones say, “Hey. What do you call a dead human?”

Licking my fingers, I glanced at Quentin. With glazed eyes and blood dripping from his chin, he groaned, “BRAAAAIIINS.”

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You know, I used to think that brains were the most important organ in the entire body. Then I thought, look what’s telling me that.

Okay, okay, enough jokes. But really, you guys, I found so many zombie-brain jokes. I didn’t even get to use all of them. (How do zombies study for tests? by eating lots of BRAAAAIIIN food.)

Really quick, I’d like to thank my fellow A to Z challengers for stopping by, and offer a brief summary of what I do on my blog. (Which takes some considerable skill, as half the time I don’t even know what I do on my blog.) I love to write, so you’ll find a lot of poetry (usually serious) and short stories (usually humorous, and strangely rather morbid). But, as I am a creature of many faces, I’ll also post artwork, reviews, guides, humor, rants, or whatever silly thing enters my mind.

Also, I love comments. Tell me — what did you think of the story? Was the ending even remotely funny? Was any of it funny, or am I just ridiculously tired? Would you like to read more things like this? Do you have any good zombie jokes? Any good non-zombie jokes? Am I the only person who thought World War Z was comedic? I probably should have waited to post this one until Z, speaking of the letter, shouldn’t I?

A is for Agony (+a brief message from the Ham)

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Hey all! I apologize for neglecting my blog for…uh, a really long time. It’s busy season atA2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775c work. Which means I’ve been having a really, really hard time motivating myself to do anything in my free time (other than curl up in a ball and whimper quietly to myself) — let alone write posts. So, to maybe eliminate my lethargy, I’ve signed up for the A to Z challenge. This means that, for the month of April, I’ll be posting something EVERY DAY (except Sundays) corresponding with the letters of the alphabet. And in case you guys couldn’t tell, today is A.

Welcome to A is for AGONY.

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Agony (working title)

The doctor turns, smiles
Somehow I expected a leer
Twisting, stretching his face into something alien
Bulging eyes, the stench of sweat
Flaking rust brown staining his pristine coat
Betraying the repugnance of his crime

But his face is smooth, clear
His eyes bright and warm
Not a speck to mar the whiteness of his clothes
Stinking of bleach and lemons
Here, he says, good as new
His voice tight with clinical friendliness

He gently places it in my hands
I stare at the small, fluttering thing
At the tight, tidy stitches binding it
Where once it was ragged, bleeding
Oh, I say, because there is nothing else
And the thing in my hands trembles and thrums

In the safe darkness of my bedroom
I listen to the beat, never a falter
Only an echo of what once was gaping pain
In flames and ashes, searing flashes
I remember — the rage, hurt, betrayal, fury
Locked, hidden away in those tidy stitches

How can it be all right, okay?
How can it all be gone?
I tear out the stitches, relish in the pain
Rejoice in the wracking sobs
I’d rather feel anguish than nothing at all
And, as they say,
Nobody ever died of a broken heart

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This poem is temporarily called ‘Agony’ (mostly because I needed a post for A), but I really can’t decide on an appropriate title. What do you think? Is ‘Agony’ a good title? What do you think the title should accomplish? Do you have any suggestions? Comments, compliments, and critiques are more than welcome.

Quaking the Periwinkle Moon

I apologize for not posting anything last week. And I apologize in advance, because this may be the only post for this week. Explanation (excuses): I’m currently taking two condensed college courses, making last week and this one MIDTERMS. (Yay! Essays! Exams! Studying! Probably not in that order!) Besides, I warned you all early on I may not be consistent. I’m simply living up to my promises.

Secondary warning: This post will be very random. Please suspend all expectations for coherence from this point onward.

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Last post, I celebrated having reached four followers. Well, I am proud to announce, I now have SEVEN. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The Potatoes are on their way to fame and fortune.

Seriously, though, thank you! It blows my mind. So, as a reward, I’ll treat you to one of my fantastically brilliant humble drawings:

Unexpectedly, hippopotami can't fly.

Unexpectedly, hippopotami can’t fly.

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In case you hadn’t guessed Read the rest of this entry

The Sky is Falling!

So, I’m taking a poetry class. As such, I’ve decided to share one of my poems every week on my blog. [pauses to wait while 90% of the readers click away]

This is what I look like when I write poems. Except minus the goatee. And the beret. I really need to get a beret.

This is what I look like when I write poems. Except minus the goatee. And the beret. I really need to get a beret.

[coughs] It’s okay. I understand. Broadly speaking, I hate reading poems (on account of it requiring actual effort on my part, thus nullifying my hard-earned title of Lazy Butt), but strangely, I love writing them. I love writing in general, but when I’m feeling particularly emotional or irrational, my thoughts tend to come out in poems rather than stories or blog posts. (My emotions also occasionally come out through artwork, but that’s another blog post entirely.) That being said, the fact that I’m sharing one of my poems with you today means I am baring my soul to you. So be nice. (P.S. Flattery works wonders.)

I also wanted to celebrate one momentous occasion: I have four followers/watchers/ stalkers/whateveryoucallthosepeoplethatarechronicreadersofablog! (!!!!!!!!!!!!) I about died of happiness. This is only my third post. I HAVE MORE STALKERS THAN I HAVE POSTS. (Sorry. I’ll stop shouting. I was over-excited.) I love you all. You are my best friends. In the whole world. Thank you for inflating my ego to drastic proportions.

Anyway. Here is “Thirteen Days, Thirteen Skies.” Read the rest of this entry

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