Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I realized that if I do not write something about this tonight, that I don't think I will ever do it. I was mightily under-slept and over-committed before during and after the weekend and I kept thinking it would get better. It won't.

It starts like this...

A month ago we started making for real plans. I got out of work early and met up with 7 of my local-to-Rochester friends to make the trek to my dad's where other Jn was waiting for us. Somewhere along the journey we found a traffic ticket, a blizzard, some milkshakes and nasty fries. No one in particular slept and we rotated cars enough that everyone got to have a conversation with everyone else. Also no one (not even me!) had to drive the whole way.

We planned to leave at 6 and get in at 10...we left at almost 7 and got in just after midnight. That left us half an hour to get situated and calmed down and 2 hours to sleep before we had to add too many layers and head to Punxy.

The drive was uneventful except for a GPS inspired detour on some crazy dirt road loop. We procured bathrooms, light up hula-hoops and bubbles at the Walmart and made our way to the buses. By the time we had boarded the fireworks were going off so we mostly missed them...although the ones we did see were seen from a warm bus. Since it was only single digits it seemed like a good trade. Unfortunately our late arrival also meant we were in the back of the crowd where it was hard to see and hear. I still don't really know what the inner circle said about the glorious day.

Most (cold) people cleared out almost immediately or at least tried too. We chose to stay long enough to get our pictures taken with the fluffy rodent and though we were at the back of the stack there was still a bus boarding backlog until around the time we hit the stage with cameras in hand. Our wait featured nasty groundhog cookies that were strangely addictive, some line dancing, my friends looking like homeless persons, and some interesting drunks who acquired one of our hoops providing us all with at least half an hour of entertainment.

Pictures taken and bus located we ended up back at Walmart where we met IL the professor who put us up to the Twinkie thing so long ago. We settled on hunkering down in the camping section of Walmart on big coolers to eat our not-so-tasty cakes because really there is no GOOD place to eat a 9 year old Twinkie and we were very cold. Numerous pictures of the proceedings and two videos were taken. I can't figure out how to get the video off of my phone (yet!) and I don't have all of the pictures but they will end up here if ever I can figure it out. We shared our last halves of awful and old "yellow" cake and then each had a fresh one to chase the original. Fresh Twinkies are still gross and they did very little to get the old Twinkie "film" off of our teeth. One of my friends begged a bite and his take was that "It tasted like basement." Everyone in the party got a fresh Twinkie actually because we had enough for sharing thanks to IL who bought a box in a hurry after the company announced it was going belly-up.

Once we had accomplished what we came for IL headed to see his grand kids and we wandered back to Dad's via back roads. Most people snagged naps on the way home but other Jn kept me company while I drove. She had to leave shortly after we got back which was unfortunate as far as I am concerned but the weather was getting nasty and she had a long way to go. The rest of the group variously took naps or learned to shoot a pellet rifle and a shotgun under the tutelage of my father. We shared lunch and half the pack returned to ROC. The remainder spent a long time playing Bang!, pool and ping-pong mostly including Dad. We had a fabulous dinner tucked in there somewhere and most people actually got at least 6 hours of sleep before we piled in my car and turned towards Lake Ontario. I got to spend the better part of the drive curled in the back seat because my car happens to be fun to drive even in snow and a pair of friends know the ins and outs of driving stick.

It was a whirlwind trip but truly spectacular. And thus ends the ten years of the Twinkie.


PS- Below you will find pretty much the only pictures of the event I actually own.

The Ghost - A character sketch and a lipogram

The Ghost

A ghost. A phantom. A shadow. A short study in poor planning too long ago. A man who has no particular spot to stand. So his form waits at a junction of highways. Cardboard his cot. Rocks for a pillow. Rags his clothing, his only guard against cold. An odor of bad gin and rotting human about him. Today no goal past food...and soon. So this apparition walks on towards trashcans known at this turn. Slipping into a crowd, a mass, a group of so many at a mall. Many who discard scraps amply, no thought to what want could do to a stomach. This is a gift actually, not a criticism. Also it is not raining. Tonight may bring a chill but for now all is copa...copa...satisfactory. And this too shall pass.


(Based on a found name “The Ghost” scrawled in white spray paint cursive on a corduroy concrete noise barrier along I-390 and written for a Write Club prompt.)

Monday, February 04, 2013


(For those of you waiting for the groundhog report, be disappointed  This is my offering for the write club prompt due last week.)

Enveloping all things is the smell of stale cigarette smoke. From the time the door swung open until it slammed shut with a metallic crunch, the scent was in stark contrast to the cold clear morning air. Now, however, “outside” has been locked out where it should be. The temperature has been raised to almost-too-warm and the smell is as comfortable and constant as it is sad. It has become the backdrop against which all other experiences are defined. Each look, thought, spoken word is mingled with the aged gray odor and retouched to become a dingier hue. It would be easy enough to blame the tray filled with once straight sticks that are now hopelessly bent fragments, but this is only a consequence not a cause. The color, the smell, the memory of too many things that cannot be unseen has saturated everything. The window slides open and the pensive silence is broken by a cascade of cold and a garbled exchange. A paper sack is shoved between the seats and until the heater wins the battle against the chill, the air is clean enough for the heavy smell of ham, egg and cheese biscuits to circulate. And for a time the blessed aroma of cheap coffee stands strong and bright against the background but this too begins to blend in until it is forgotten. The window again slips open, but this time only a crack. There is a rush of fresh, freezing air followed by a spark. Most of the spent nicotine is hurried out the window but unseen wisps of smoke spiral in on the current, noted only by the acrid overtones they bring. These little bits of invisible ash will swirl and mingle with the others until they come to rest on the discarded jacket, the binder overflowing with papers, the empty cans of Red Bull, that one dirty sock. They will become old air. They will fill in the gaps. And every time the speedometer and gear shift start to disappear out of sight, each time the cadence of fire and the smell of spent powder creep out of dark corners but before... before the vision of a helmet pierced front to back by a well-placed round and suddenly unable to hold its former owner in, before that there will be a rush of cold, a spark, and some long deep breaths. The present will reclaim a foothold in the confines of the 5-speed import, and the smoke will redefine the scenery, strengthening the smell of no-longer-enlisted until the day the memories stop their siege.

-Jn (Union Hill, 1/25/13)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The big day

Pending 5 minutes to write...