TotD: Regional Wit (Prose Poem)


By Alexandra Erin



This was the year winter came late. It rolled into class fifteen minutes after the bell with a red Starbucks cup, avoiding eye contact and mumbling excuses about El Niño in the general direction of Ned Stark.

Four days after Christmas, our first hint of white was a fog bank, crystallized and made golden in the phosphorescent glare of the parking lot street lamps outside Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and the K-Mart, two stores now trapped in amber like some great primeval insects.

Well, not that great. I mean, it’s just the K-Mart and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.

I don’t miss the cold, I miss the feel of it. I miss the certainty of the seasons, even if it was never all that certain to begin with. I’ve seen more white Easters, Thanksgivings, and Halloweens than Christmases. I’m from Nebraska, where they say “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Except they say that everywhere. It’s like the one where the state bird is the mosquito and the state tree is the traffic cone. If you want to see something truly universal in this life, you have to look at regional wit.

I think if I counted the minutes I’ve spent waiting for something to change, I’d waste a lot more minutes in the process and a lot fewer in the future. That only really works for the weather, and maybe traffic signals.

I love the way the night sky looks when it snows in the city, when the light turns to amber and the sky to amethyst. Omaha becomes a fairy kingdom in the snow, and the First National Tower the enchanted palace at the center of it, one blazing column of light flying up into infinity. Every other night of the year I hate the wasteful, star-blotting excess of energy we pour out into space, but when it snows, when the snow hangs in the air in thick, feather-light clumps, I love it.

There’s nothing like that here, but then, there’s nothing like there here. That’s the point of different places, as near as I can tell. The jokes don’t change much. Mostly it’s the view that does, or maybe the person seeing it.

This was the year winter came late. If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.

TotD: The Land Beyond (Flash Fiction)


By Alexandra Erin

No one really knows what happens to us after we die, the dead least of all. We experience it , but we do not understand it. Why am I here? What is my purpose? What am I supposed to do? What happens next? are questions that we ask each other and ourselves during the duration of our mortal lives, but always the assumption is there that death will answer all our questions, even if the answer to each of them is a resounding “nothing”.

How quintessentially human a trait it is, to assume that everything will work itself out eventually, that the things we seek must be, if not just around the bend, then certainly around a bend and quite definitely one that is in our path.

But no. Death is just one more hill to be crested on our march towards infinity, and the view from its summit is not even particularly inspiring. You die. You close your eyes, or so it seems from your own point of view, and then you open them in more or less the same place, though it is subtly altered.

You aren’t in heaven. You aren’t in hell, at least not that you’ve noticed. The place you’ve ended up in would be hard to describe to someone who hasn’t been here, so maybe that’s why it’s not quite what anyone seems to expect upon arrival.

It looks like the world you know, but it isn’t. It’s bigger, in places, in a way that you don’t notice at first. No matter how many people show up, it never quite fills up.

There are new rules to be learned, social ones alongside physical ones. Figuring out how to get around in this translated state is a bit like learning how to walk, with the added benefit of experience. You’ve done it before, so it stands to reason that you can do it again.

The land of the dead offers enough challenge and novelty to keep you interested for a time, but like all things except perhaps for death, this inevitably ends and you start asking the big questions again.

Why am I here? What does it mean? What’s it all about?

Every religion is represented in the land of the dead, every one that has existed in history and more besides. Some who were faithful in life believe that they are being tested or tricked. Some abandon the faiths of their mortal existence but cleave just as strongly to some new creed that promises answers or offers direction. Some give up the notion of belief in yet another other realm or a higher power entirely, though in the process many of them wind up believing all manner of equally esoteric theories that they say represents the skeptical viewpoint.

They may even be right. Who can say? If there is any land beyond that of the dead, not only has no one returned from it, but no one can say for certain anyone has gone to it. Everyone knows someone with whom they have lost contact with, but the land of the dead is vast, full of deep corners and crowded with the masses of the ages.

SW:TFA – 6 Big Clues To Rey’s Identity

Okay, folks. This one is under a cut for spoilers for a highly anticipated movie that came out last week. If you don’t want to read key plot details for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, give this one a pass until you do. For everyone else, click through to read more (or click back on the original article link if you’re seeing this crossposted somewhere).

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TotD: Back In The Stacks (Flash Fiction)

Back In The Stacks

By Alexandra Erin



Curling our fingers tightly around the hilts and hafts of our weapons, we slunk our way down the row of bookshelves, stopping at the end to peer around the summer reading display there.

“Hold on,” Tommy said. She adjusted her helmet, which kept slipping down over her eyes. It was still too big for her in her third year of hunting. “Okay, I’m good.”

“Shh,” Penelope hissed, much louder than Tommy had spoken. I jumped, and we all glared at her. “Well, we don’t want Ms. Alperstein to hear! She’ll kick us out!”

“Why would she kick us out?” Tommy asked.

“For talking,” Penelope said.

“You’re allowed to talk in libraries,” I said.

“Then why do they have signs everywhere saying to be quiet because people are studying?” Penelope asked.

“Because people are studying,” I said. “Do you want to catch a dragon or not?”

“Of course I want to catch a dragon, that’s why I’m here!” Penelope said.

“Kids, please keep it down back there!” Ms. Alperstein said, from out of sight at the front of the library.

“Then keep it down, like she said, or you’ll scare it away,” I said. “Come on.”

We weaved our way deeper into the stacks, eyes always searching for the tell-tale signs of the book dragon’s passage.

Books left upside down or with their spine turned inwards might have been a dragon’s handiwork, but only if they fit into certain subtle patterns. The dragon would move move in a fittingly serpentine pattern as it scampered sinuously across the shelves, its claws slipping into the cracks between the books for grip.

When the dragon moved from the shelves to the floor, some of the shiny flecks in the tiles would be missing. They would grow back, of course, in a day or two. They always would. This was part of how you knew the trail was recent.

“What’s that?” Tommy asked, pointing upwards. There was a rustling among the paper stand-up snowflakes on top of the shelf. We saw a golden tail flick briefly into view, and then vanish just as quickly.

“I think it’s heading for periodicals,” Penelope said.

“Split up!” Tommy said, and we did.

Ten minutes later, we were kicked out of the library, not so much for talking as for running, making big clanging clattery noises when we dropped our weapons in surprise when the dragon reared up and readied its confetti breath, and for having axes and swords in the library in the first place.

“Honestly, every year,” Ms. Alperstein said to me while waiting for my mother. “You’ve never caught one yet, but every year you try this. I ask you, why?”

“They always hoard the best stories!”




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STATUS: Tuesday, December 22nd

The Daily Report/State of the Me

Man, do you know how nice it is to be able to shower in my own bathroom again? There’s one in the bathroom downstairs, but it’s downstairs, as opposed to right outside my bedroom door, and it’s the one that other people are using to get ready in the morning, and no one in the house is on a 100% fixed schedule so I kind of wait around awkwardly until I’m sure it’s clear…

Nothing wakes me up like a hot shower, and nothing helps cleanly delineate the start of a day, either. I haven’t been sleeping well, like I said yesterday, but today I woke up to an alarm and was out of bed by 9:30, and showered and such by 10. The trajectory of my morning was affected by the fact that we had to run out for cat food… being cooped up and stressed out makes our kitties eat their feelings, so they go through the dry food a lot faster than we normally account for. But it was a good start, nonetheless.

One of my Facebook followers said on my last post that I should just relax and enjoy the holidays. I appreciate the sentiment, and in fact relaxing is the main thing I’m doing this week, after 2+ weeks of hammering and pounding and yelling, and the preceding months of anxiety. But getting back in the habit of communicating with the world is relaxing, and writing little things like the poem I posted yesterday is relaxing.


TotD: Last Night (Poem)


By Alexandra Erin

(Inspired by a writing prompt found here: )

We sat and watched the stars come out,

then watched them go away.

They fell down one by one

as the sky turned dusty gray.

The end had come, we knew at last

we’d reached the final scene,

unraveling the final thread

from one last fatal skein.

Nothing we lost mattered

as much as you to me.

The night is gone, the world is done.

There’s nothing left to see.


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STATUS: Monday, December 21st

Recent Events and the State of the Me

Weeks ago now, back at the start of December, our landlords told us that in a few days, their favored contractors would be coming to do necessary and long-delayed repairs on our roof. When they showed up, it turned out there had been a communication error somewhere. They weren’t just here to fix the roof, but to do multiple repairs inside and out that had similarly been put off.

Pro: They were, as I said, necessary. The plaster in my bathroom in particular had rendered it almost unusable, at least not without a hard hat. You certainly didn’t want to do anything that would put off a lot of steam. The dining room was not yet that bad, but it was still rapidly approaching a Sword-of-Damocles type situation.

Con: With no warning, we—here meaning Jack, who was the one caught by this particular broadside—had to scramble to clear out multiple rooms we use every day, including the dining room that Jack had just finished decorating for Christmas. We also had to pen the cats up in their “suite”, which is my office and bedroom, as Tommy has a history of making adventurous choices she later regrets when there’s unusual activity in the house.

The disruption was pretty substantial, but we were assured it would not last long. Two days was the quote, maybe three or four with padding.

It turns out they actually finished up this weekend… and yes, they came and worked over the weekend to finish up the job at long last. That’s more than two weeks and the vast majority of the month to date that the building I live and work in has been disrupted by the sound of hammering, clattering of ladders, loud conversations drifting down or through the windows.

I can’t say it’s been a pleasant couple of weeks, or that it’s been good for my often-shakes nerves or nascent resurgence of confidence as a writer. At first I kept up my Thing of the Day pretty well by doing bits of writing at night, when it was quiet… but after a while, I just wound up exhausted, mentally and physically.

This all came right on the heels of a long period of struggle with anxiety and depression, as well as complicated external factors. In some ways, I feel like I’m playing a roleplaying game with a jerk of GM who plays against the players. It feels like every time I try to do dig in my heels and get something done, get my writing and other projects back on track, there is something to counter my move and make it impossible, but it’s often something that’s not directly affecting me or isn’t objectively bad (like necessary home repairs!) so it feels petty to complain about or even mention it.

Despite that, I’m not feeling discouraged at the moment. I started the month resolute and enthusiastic and set on getting back to my writing roots, and I had some fairly impressive results even under adverse conditions. Since I wasn’t getting much done anyway, I took the opportunity to take some time off from my braining pills to try to limit my built-up tolerance for them… I’m going to start incorporating off-weeks into my regimen going forward. Judging by how downright perky I am today (first day back on), I’d say it makes a difference.

Of course, my sleep schedule is borked all the way to heck and back. My work habits are pretty much starting from scratch. And this week is going to end early on account of holiday. So… I’m not sure what to expect from the rest of this week.

I am going to be blogging every day, at least, and resuming my daily Thing of the Day posts. I’ll let you all know what’s going on more with specific things as specifics develop. I’m really eager to get things moving again, though… nothing counters a nagging feeling of inadequacy like doing stuff. And of course, having been effectively “out of work” for so long has put a serious dent in my finances right at the holidays… putting more stuff out there is the quickest and easiest way to make a little money.

TotD: Silent City (Flash Fiction)


By Alexandra Erin


When I close my eyes, I see the silent city.

It is always there, etched into my brain, lurking behind the back of my eyelids, waiting for the lights to go out. I walk its empty streets in my sleep every night, but it’s always there, even when I’m awake.

It’s only when I’m asleep that the ideograms in the store windows and squiggles on the street signs make sense to me, though I never remember what any of them say, only the bare fact that I know.

The roads are all brick-paved, but the street lights and the useless traffic signals are all very modern. Nestled between red brick apartments, brownstone town houses, and glittering glass skyscrapers, there are buildings that look like theaters, storefronts that could be sweet shops or bakeries, though there is never anything inside them, nothing in the window but lettering whose meaning eludes my waking mind. There are no doors, no way in.

Somewhere, beyond the bridge that I can never reach, there are suburbs, and beyond that, rolling plains of wild flowers and green, green grass. I have never seen these things, but I know they are there, just like I know that somewhere, on some street near or far, he will be there.

It’s not my city, but his. He’s the reason I have to keep moving. I don’t know why, when I’m awake. I might be looking for him. He might be looking for me. I don’t know if he knows about me, or what might happen if we meet.

I can see him, though. I see his face laid out with the lines of the city, the criss-crossing grid of major roads and the swirls of cul-de-sacs in the posh subdivisions. The city center is over his eye, his left eye.

It might be that in some way, he is the city or the city is him. I don’t know. That’s a bit metaphysical for my tastes. It’s something to ask him about, maybe, if I ever meet him. If I’m looking for him, and not a way out of the city and away from, and if I’m able to ask him, or even care. I’m not entirely sure I’m the same person, when I’m in the city.

When people ask, I tell them I never remember my dreams. As far as I know, that might even be true.

TotD: Island of Grace (Metrical Mash-Up)


(Sort Of*) By Alexandra Erin


Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,

the tale of a fateful trip!

I once was lost, but now am found

aboard this tiny ship.


‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

the skipper brave and sure.

How precious did that grace appear

for a three hour tour.


Through many dangers, toils, and snares

the tiny ship was tossed.

‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far

or the Minnow would be lost.



*Freely adapted from “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island”, lyrics by George Wile and Sherwood Shwartz, and “Amazing Grace”, lyrics by John Newton. Pick a tune and sing along.

TotD: Boneyard Stomp (Poem)


By Alexandra Erin


When daylight ends

the fun begins.

I go down


and find myself

with skeletons.

The city sleeps

high above

but down below

we laugh and love.

Around and round

beneath the town,

we wheel and whirl

without a sound.

Silent song,

endless dance,

questing looks,

longing glance.