The Day I Almost Invested in Poor Grammar…

I do not have perfect grammar. I find myself being corrected by others, or even correcting myself. Most of what I do know grammatically I blame on my extensive reading. Most of what I don’t know, I blame on some of my lame teachers growing up.

I love reading about grammar and how to use the English language, it’s important to know the rules before you try and bend them, which is a writer’s privilege. I love to find out what I’m doing wrong so I can improve it. I almost don’t mind if others correct me. (I only say almost because I have relatives who like to call people out in the most obnoxious ways at the most inopportune times. If you’re reading this…you know who you are. *shakes a condemning finger*)

All that to say…I nearly bought this shirt the other day…IMG_6047

I want to make a public apology to the world at large for almost investing $5 on this horrendous, public display of missing apostrophe syndrome. I also want to point out the irony, that this shirt was specifically designed for nerds and no self respecting nerd would ever purchase it.


The Ancient Willow

A while back, I wrote up a post entitled What Good is a Roll Without Butter? about my dear brother-in-law Jonathan and how we composed a poem over the course of two days via text message.

Another while back, my husband, brother-in-law, and I were out on a jaunt in the little ol’ white Honda, and composed the following moving sonnet. We alternated lines as we rolled down the highway.

My lines – will be in regular type
Timothy’s lines – will be in bold type
Jonathan’s lines – will be in blue italics

The willow tree lies barren in the glen.
Its leaves have fallen down to grow no more.
Its mournful beauty still forgot by men,
Who wander aimlessly toward beck’ning shore.
What memories it holds and tales could tell,
Of evil and courageous deeds of yore,
Of yonder church when peals its wedding bell,
And cries of men who lie upon death’s door.
Though endless ages used to pass him by,
His time on earth is growing rather short.
For all that carries life must one day die,
And age and time both ruthlessly contort.
So life, an endless circle, rolls along,
And still none heeds the ancient willow’s song.

In case you were wondering…yes my family is amazing!

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

Amazing Alliteration Adventures: Act II

The two of them tripped through the tavern. Darkness dimmed their drunken journey. Kelly cuddled closer to Kevin.

“The stars sure seem singularly shiny,” she sighed softly.

Kevin coughed. His fingers followed the folds of her frock. They wistfully wound round her waist.

“Holy hippo honey.” He hugged her hungrily. “I cannot keep completely quiet. You know now, my nymph, I need you. Leave that lousy loaf of a looser. The whole hope of my happiness hinges on having your heart. I would willingly wander the wild wilderness of Wisconsin to win you. Come kiss me Kelly.”

“Please,” she pleaded. “We’re positively pissed! That third tequila tipped my total towards twenty.”

“I’m always an inebriated, inept, idiotic addict when you’re around. Don’t disparage darling. Drinks definitely don’t destroy the deepest devotions.”

“Drinks do destroy discernment.”

“Let’s lock lips and let lesser lovers live life in laughable languishing.”

Kelly kissed Kevin. Kevin kissed Kelly. The two tipsy travelers touched tenderly. His happy hands hung on her hips.

“Get your grubby grips off my girl!” Craig cried crossly. “I won’t watch you wipe your whistler all over my wife.” His huge hands heaved the hapless, happy huggers apart.

“Sir,” Kevin stuttered. “Surely you saw that she started…”

Craig waved his words to the wind. “Lie and I’ll litter your lousy limbs high and low. I heard your horrible hypnotic humming turning her touched head. Gentlemen generally grant graces to gin-soaked girls. You sir are simply unsavory.”

The two men tumbled to the tarmac in a tangled twist of turbulent thumps. Punches pummeled poor Kevin. He whimpered and whined wretchedly. Craig lost himself in loads of loony laughter.

Kelly kicked Craig. “Craig you creepy crawler! You cruddy, contemptible, cruel, crap-for-brains, canine! You can’t consistently crawl around. Can’t you comprehend I’ve completely changed. Kevin cares for me. I care for Kevin. So, keep your crusty claws off my charming Kevin or I’ll quickly crush your callous chest until it caves.” Her hand hit his head. The slap signaled silence for the troubled trio. Kevin crawled from Craig and cowered cautiously behind Kelly.

A one word warning whipped willfully from the feisty fräulein, “Flee!”

Craig chuckled. “Sure sweetheart.” A simpering smile suddenly slid slyly over his seductive face. “I will walk away. But beware. When your willful wild streak snaps, I won’t be willing to wipe your whiffer.”

Kelly remembered, really remembered, the romantic rendezvous with Craig. She suddenly screamed.

“Craig please pardon my passing passion. I’m pickled. Pissed. Plastered! This predicament is purely potty. There’s only one wonder-boy for this worshiping wife. Don’t depart darling. Your kisses can cleanse Kevin’s corrosive cancer from my callous cadaver.”

Craig cackled contemptuously. “Frankly fräulein…” the familiar phrase went unfinished. He flipped her the finger and frolicked forward leaving his lovely lady to lament her lifetime of loneliness.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

Amazing Alliteration Adventures: Act I

“Three thespians.” Sally slowly slid sideways, unsecuring her seatbelt. “These perplexing puzzles are positively peculiar.” She sighed. “This murderer’s MO might make most actors migrate.”

“Chief will be chuffed,” Sybil sneered. “He hates histrionics.”

Sally shook her head. “He despises depravity deeper and the paperwork pisses him.”

Wilma waved from the walkway. “Detectives,” she said. “The deceased died dangling from the doorframe of this dumpy domicile.”

“Time of termination?” Sybil asked.

Wilma wiped her whiffer. “Three thirty.”

“Three thirty?” Sally sighed. “The twin termination time as the other three thespians. This is getting thick!”

Low laughter lifted the ladies’ eyes. Sharon’s head hung happily from a second story skylight.

“Sharon the malicious murderer!” Sybil snapped. “We should have suspected.”

Sharon cackled corruptly. “You yodeling yankees! Your useless understanding won’t outwit me. I’m impervious!” Sharon slammed the skylight shut. Loads of loony laughter lilted downward.

Sally stared solemnly skyward. “She’s so strange,” she said.

Sybil shrugged. “Someone should send some slugs sailing swiftly southward. Sharon’s skull should shatter soon. She shan’t stop sans some intersession.”

Sally smirked slyly. “Thankfully I trump at trick shots.” Sally stood still, her handgun hoisted heavenward. Three slugs slid speedily south. Sharon shrieked. Sybil hurriedly opened the hatch. The two flatfoots fleetly flew forward almost falling up the flight of steps.

Blood radiated round Sharon’s wound in red rings.

“Definitely dead,” Sybil said.

“I always accomplish my aim,” Sally sniggered. She glided her gun guardedly into its grip. “Mission mastered. Let’s leg it.”

“Don’t donuts sound scrummy?” Sybil said.

“Definitely donuts.”

The two friendly flatfoots went westward down Downing Street. The sweet smell of Dunkin’ Donuts wafted their way.

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

When Family Traditions Go Awry

“Oh and I bought canned whipped cream,” my mother-in-law said. “So if you want some on your pie it’s in the kitchen.”

Several happy chirps rang out from the inhabitants of the table. I kept my peace. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and that nasty spray can whipped cream is more sugar than dairy. It actually surprised me that it was even there. My in-laws are healthy eaters. You know the type; organic vegetables, unpasteurized milk, and cereal that tastes like cardboard. When I first came around their family, holding hands with their tall curly haired brunette boy, I was about thirty pounds heavier than I am now. I felt like Bertha Big Butt among the clan of Healthy Stick People. Thankfully they loved me anyway.

Back to present. Once I got over the initial shock of hearing this garbage food item was in the household, someone said, “Can we spray it into our mouths like we used to do at Nani’s?”

Really? I thought. No. No they won’t.

“Sure,” my father-in-law said. “We need to do the two little ones first because they never got to.”

I tugged my husband’s sleeve. “Timmy, is this usual? Like some Thanksgiving tradition that I knew nothing about?”

Tim shrugged. “We used to do it at Nani’s.” Okay love… I’d heard that part.

The can emerged from the kitchen. Apparently Dad was the one to administer, Father’s privilege I guess. I watched them squirt the squishy sugary sticky slop between the open lips of everyone around the table: the two little ones (four and eight), my sister-in-law, Jessica, my brother-in-law, Jon, and then my husband. I knew Mom wasn’t going to partake and Dad held the can so he didn’t have to worry…

“Do you want some Rachel?” Jon asked.

I considered. I knew I didn’t care for the stuff, (I’d had it before) but it’s good to push your boundaries and try things when you have the opportunity, especially when they are unlikely to cause real harm. Besides, what if I die tomorrow. I could see myself lying in my hospital bed, looking into my husband’s tear filled eyes and murmuring in a weak hushed voice, “Now I’ll never know what it is like to have whipped cream sprayed into my mouth.” The heart monitor flatlines. My husband presses his wet eyes to my hand.

“Oh why not,” I said. “You only live once.”

If you can’t understand what I’m saying with my mouth full of whipped cream, I asked, “What do I do now?”

It should have stopped there. We had all been apportioned our share of gross chemical dairy product, but my sister-in-law really wanted to administer some of the delicious whipped treat herself. My brother-in-law, Jon, volunteered. He asked the video to be taken in slow motion. What followed was completely unplanned, impromptu, and all around unscripted. Here it is below. It was well worth the cleanup. 🙂

(and if you listen very closely, you can hear Pinkie, my mother-in-law’s pet stegosaurus, humming Thanksgiving carols in the background)

Thanksgiving Carnage: A Sonnet

I see you laying there flat on your back,
Your limbs splayed out against a metal slab.
Unclothed, exposed, cold skin and muscles slack,
Hands poke and pull and nip and tuck and grab.
Your innards are removed and in their place,
Some cruel heart replaces them with fluff.
With brush in hand they paint your pallid face,
I look away and groan, “Please stop! Enough!”
My wife now rolls her eyes and shakes her head.
“This kitchen is not big enough for two!”
I’m sent away to wait alone in bed,
Then later have to watch your corpse be chewed.

poor turkey

I wish we had not raised you as a pet,
It greys this year’s Thanksgiving with regret…

© Rachel Svendsen 2014

Grocery Shopping on Mt. Doom

The story you are about to read is almost fiction. Any similarities to persons, places, or things, living or dead, is, more than likely, a nearly coincidence-like occurrence.

Grocery shopping is hard. Really! It usually begins with that rainbow framed, glisteningly perfect parking spot that you try to pull into, only to find that some lazy sluggard left a shopping cart in it, even though the cart return was two slots over. It’s all downhill from there…

The Shoprite complex in my town is the gateway to Tartarus. Twice a day, and increasingly around holidays and potential snowstorms, the most festering species of demonic humanity are birthed from the molten fires of this, New Jersey’s Mount Doom. Smiles melt from faces as they succumb to the grey cloud of oppression that hangs around the belfry of this seemingly innocuous grocery store. I’m a fairly chipper gal but even I often leave there tense, covered in sweat, and in dire need of a Xanax.

It always starts in the parking lot. I once applied for a job at the hair salon next door and the manager there boasted to me that this strip mall had the second highest traffic of any in New Jersey. I didn’t believe him. I still don’t, but sometimes when I step out of my car, look both ways, and still nearly meet my maker trying to approach to the door of the shop, I wonder if the half bald, nasal voiced man spoke the truth.

Once inside I take a deep breath, say a little prayer, and walk into the produce section.

I shop on a budget, therefore, I have three grocery stores on my checklist. I know that, unless on sale, lettuce, apples, and onions are cheapest at BJ’s. Eggs, sour cream, and bread are best bought at Walmart. I get the majority of my groceries at Shoprite, but I’m not going to buy carrots there if I can save the $2 I need to buy bread at Walmart by purchasing said carrots at BJ’s. “Swifty ‘n Thrifty” they call me! (Just kidding, nobody calls me that…)

Anyway, I put lettuce in my cart then remembered aloud, “Wait no. Lettuce is cheeper at BJ’s.” I carefully replaced the leafy vegetable.

“What did you say?” The voice snarled from behind a cart of celery. A cruel, bearded bloke leered at me through one open eye. “What did you say about the lettuce?”

Doing my best impression of Oliver Twist, I glanced down at my feet and whispered penitently, “Please sir, I said it was cheeper at BJ’s.”

The man snorted. “BJ’s eh? I would never shop at BJ’s. You could hardly call it a store. It’s dirty and smelly. Your feet sticks to the floor and their shopping carts are massive. Pugh! BJ’s.” He spat at the floor to get the taste of the name out of his mouth.

I muttered my thanks and ran for the meat section. BJ’s is a haven of rest and comfort compared to this place. This den. This wretched hive of scum and villainy. I threw some chicken into my cart, glided quickly through the spices, and rounded the corner to the frozens. There was nobody in the aisle except one thin, pale man, obviously sucked dry of joy and hope from employment at this place, stacking bags of frozen vegetables in one of the freezers. His eyes were wide and never stopped moving. Left. Right. Up. Down. His lips mouthed the inaudible mutterings of a fellow on the brink of madness.

I pulled out my cell and checked my shopping list. Let’s see. I got bananas…orange juice…milk… The florescent lights flickered. I looked up curiously. My eyes fell on a figure at the end of the aisle. A teenage boy, dressed in black from head to toe, with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head. He skulked my way. I wet my lips with my tongue before looking back at my shopping list. Ummm…milk…did I need butter? I glanced up. Our eyes met. Awkward. Awkward and freaky. I could barely tear my gaze from his. His brown eyes bored into my soul with a sickening malice. What had I done? Why did he hate me? I couldn’t call on the half-mad employee for aide. He was too busy sucking his fingers and humming songs from “Frozen”.

An electric handicap cart came up behind me. A homeless man, with a open flask in one hand, drove drunkenly down the aisle giggling like a thirty-year-old with a case of silly string. “Wow this is fun!” he hiccuped at me. “Everyone should have one of these!” I couldn’t tell if he was referring to the flask or the cart.

That was the moment I truly began to wonder if I would ever see my husband again.

The shady boy stood abreast me. I did not turn my head, pretending instead that I had been staring at something else the entire time we spent gazing into each others eyes. He opened the door directly behind me and pulled out a frozen pizza. A pleasantly plump blonde woman spontaneously burst into being uncaused from nothing with a little pop.

“Don’t you want two?” she asked him. The boy made a noise, a sort of mix between grunt, snort, and snarl. He grabbed another pizza and dropped them both into the cart. She smiled at him and they shuffled away. I shuddered, ran through the checkout, played a real life version of Frogger, and dumped my groceries in the backseat of my car. All that remained was to dutifully return my cart.

A poor little white haired man was pulling out of his spot. He was nearly out when a redhead dashed into her drivers seat and threw it in reverse. The old man leaned on his horn but she paid him no heed. So desperate was her flight that he had to pull back in his spot in order to prevent her large black SUV smothering the life out of his little silver Toyota. She started a 16 point K turn. I watched this incident with another female pedestrian. I felt sorry for the guy but what could I do? I was just a helpless woman armed with naught but a shopping cart. My companion refused to let this oppression continued unpunished. She jumped in front of the SUV screaming and shaking her fist. The SUV tore out of the parking lot followed by the angry woman. The old man tried to back out again. A blue sedan tore through the ally at about 60 and leaned on their horn. The old man pressed his head against the steering wheel and cried quietly.

Has the entire world gone mad? It was like Midnight on Black Friday with four shots of Vodka and a case of Redbull.

I ditched my cart in the return, slammed my door shut, and held my breath until I was safely on my way home.