First Chunk

Here it is. Go to Facebook to vote by donating to the appropriate charity. I hope you all enjoy this choose-your-own-adventure project:

Cassie had actually been trying to mind her own business when she’d found it. Her dad had told her plenty of times that curiosity and trouble were rowdy cousins, and comfort and respect for privacy were pleasant neighbors. She didn’t totally understand the second part, but the first part was pretty clear. So Cassie had been working on avoiding a steady stream of people on her way to the park. Instead of ending up at the swings, where she’d wanted to be, she ended up by some bushes. She decided to just stand there and wait a minute while people went back and forth across the sidewalk just outside the park. There wasn’t a lot that was interesting to look at there.

Still, Cassie needed to keep her mind occupied, and she didn’t much feel like talking to anyone, so she kicked around at the ground a bit. A few kicks in, a little blue gem seemed to pop up from the dirt. Cassie took a quick look around. She was fairly sure that neither of her parents would want her taking strange things from the park, but the gem was very pretty. When Cassie finished her look around, she realized that she wasn’t really sure what she was expecting, but nobody seemed to notice that she’d found anything.

She knelt down and brushed some of the dirt away from the gem. It was shiny, and its edges were smooth. Cassie ran a finger along one of the sides. She felt a deep sense of calm as she did so. The gem felt warm, though that didn’t make any sense to her. If it was stuck in the ground, then the gem should be cold. She kept running her finger along its side. As she did so, she realized that the sensation that she felt might not have been centered in her finger. It wasn’t something that started in her touch of the gem and traveling up her arm to her heart. Instead, the warmth seemed to start from inside of her, from her heart and tummy, even though it was triggered by her touching the gem.

Cassie picked up the gem, and she pressed it to her chest. As she did so, she almost fell over. Her head felt light, like a balloon at the end of a string. But not just an empty balloon. She felt like it was filled with helium. For just a minute, Cassie felt like anything was possible. She closed her eyes and felt warm and light. But it was interrupted when she heard some shouting in the park. Cassie opened her eyes and looked around. There were two guys yelling at each other. Cassie had no idea what they were yelling about, but she decided not to hang around long enough to find out.

As Cassie walked away, she kept a careful lookout, though she wasn’t entirely sure what for. There wasn’t anyone that looked particularly threatening. Still, it seemed like there were a lot of people angry with each other. There was a family near the ice cream truck, all yelling at each other about who was ordering what. Just a little ways further, there was a whole group of kids fighting over one of those big, red balls that Cassie had been hit in the head with a number of times during dodgeball games. When one of the kids got it away, he turned and whipped it into the face of the closest kid. Cassie picked up her pace.

She started to worry that maybe the gem triggered all this fighting. She didn’t think that anybody had been fighting before she found it. Cassie liked the feeling that the gem gave her, but she didn’t want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt. She sighed. Cassie held up the gem to take one last look. It was so beautiful. She whispered, “I’m sorry,” and held her hand back, ready to throw it away. Before she could throw it, though, she felt faint. She felt like she did when she stood up to fast. Cassie closed her eyes, hoping to regain her balance. Instead, she lost touch with the world.

It was hard for Cassie to tell how long she’d been out when she opened her eyes again. It was still daytime, so that was something. She touched her head. There wasn’t a bruise or real pain, it seemed. Suddenly, she remembered the gem. She looked around. If she’d dropped it, then it couldn’t be that far away, but she didn’t see it. Cassie got on all fours and looked around. It seemed to have just disappeared. She stood up and brushed herself off. After a few deep breaths, Cassie realized that she felt different. Even better than when she’d first picked up the gem. But before she had a chance to really get a sense of why she felt so good, something happened. Cassie heard some noise, and she looked towards it.


If you want Cassie to see zombies, give to CISHA

If you want the disturbance to be aliens landing, give to Illinois Voices

If you want Cassie to see robots, give to SPICE



After just some odd months, I’m back! Starting next week, I’ll be doing a fundraiser. The very basics are that I’ll be writing a choose-your-own-adventure story where readers will choose the next piece of the story by deciding which of three charities (links below) they want to give money towards (via Facebook fundraisers). All three charities are related to accessibility/disability support. I’m hoping it goes well. Stay tuned for another announcement later next week.

Seedling Theatre/Illinois Voices Theatre

CI Sled Hockey



Yesterday, my daughter and I were walking out of the store. Another father was walking with his daughter. I would guess his daughter was about 5. They were African American. The girl dropped a little heart-shaped mirror. I picked it up and called out to him, “Sir.” He turned around, and I told him that I thought his daughter had dropped something. He thanked me, and we both went on our way.

When he turned and looked at me, it made me think about how white me and black men must hear that differently, walking out of the store. I tried to keep my voice pleasant, but I’m sure it’s easily identifiable as a white person’s. When he heard a white man calling out to him, was his first assumption that he would be hassled? It also made me think about the fact that, if I did hassle him, as a white person, I have that privilege, that cushion where, if we got into a fight, he’d probably be seen as the aggressor, even if I was the one to provoke everything. I’m sure that he’s forgotten about me handing his daughter what she’d been carrying, but it was one of those odd interactions that stuck with me.

Now What?

Now that I’ve finished reworking the stories that I said I would, this blog’s function is a bit unclear to me. I have some ideas percolating (not that anyone is reading this blog in the first place, so not that anyone actually cares), but, in the meantime, here’s a bit of blatant self promotion.  This is my new book, due out Friday:

Feeling Not So Hot

Honestly, I don’t know which of them is my father. It’s a tough choice. The guy in the bedroom, alternating before sniffles and laughing or the one here, at the table, making me peel cuties. He’s also telling me about how sailors used to get scurvy. I could make a joke about what happens with too many guys alone on a ship,  but that’s not really funny, and it’s not really fair. I mean, he’s a dork, but he’s basically a nice guy.

I take another of the cuties. They’re at least relatively easy to peel. At least there’s that. And I like the way that they make my hands smell. But I’m about medium on the flavor. They’re not quite sweet enough to be like candy, and they’re not quite tangy enough to really be interesting. I guess they’re like Dave that way. Well, maybe that’s not fair.

William laughs now. That means that a cough or sneeze will come in a little bit. They’ve told me a few times that I should know that they both love me, even more than straight parents, because they had to try even harder for me. I know they don’t mean it to make me feel guilty. They mean it to show how much they love me. That’s not the only thing that comes through about it, though.

Dave is looking at me. He must have said something. I smile and tell him, “Sorry, I was just listening for a cough.”

Dave gives a small smile as well. If I’m showing affection, then I must be a good daughter. “He’ll be fine. It’s just a bad cold.”

“I know,” I say.

“The best thing,” he tells me, “is that we let him rest and recover, and we do so with minimal contact, so that we don’t get sick as well.”

minimal contact, he said. That’s the kind of thing that he says. I guess that opposites might really attract. William would say something like, “I’m really sorry that we can’t be next to him. I know it’s a drag, but, that way, when he gets better, we don’t have to be away from him”. That’s not necessarily better, it’s just a different kind of weird. Maybe if I only get the best parts of both of them, then I’ll turn out to be normal, like a well adjusted person. Which would be weird, I guess.

Dave repeats it. “Think we have enough cuties, Cutie?”

After half a second, I think that I shouldn’t want to be rude, but there’s no reason to pretend that I think it’s funny. An eye roll. It’s kind of a compromise. Maybe it’s what Dave expects. If it’s not, then he does a good job of not showing it. He just raises his eyebrows and pops a segment in his mouth. Me, I brush my hands and head away from the table.


This week’s events had a strange layer of significance for me. When she was young, my daughter liked the Disney film Pocahontas. I never really liked it. It’s the worst kind of faux diversity. It excuses John Smith’s greed, arrogance, and lack of self awareness. It does so under the cover of pretending to value other cultures.

When I listened to 45’s “Pocahontas” joke, I gasped out loud, something I almost never do. It was disgusting, immoral, and unAmerican. As I watched the clip of the president of the code speakers talk, and as I saw the cuts to 45’s reaction, I saw his lack of awareness, his discomfort, I saw that he was wondering, “is talking about unity a slam on me?”

We live in a time when simple concepts like togetherness can seem like a declaration of war. It would be tempting, here, to say that we need to fight, but, given what the code talker said, it is more important to listen. It is more important to think carefully about our impact upon the world.