: deep thought for today :

May 27, 2015 § 2 Comments

“If your ship hasn’t come in — swim out to it.”
— Mary Engelbreittext separator_flourish

Good Lord, why has no one thought of that before? Such a simple, obvious idea. Take charge of your own destiny, be proactive. Yes! Stop waiting for luck to come calling, chase it down. I feel so flipping empowered. Imagine the possibilities.









Okay, thanks for the suggestion. I’ll, uh, be at the bus station.

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: the downside of motivation :

May 24, 2015 § 4 Comments

surpriseI got nothing, ladies and gentlemen, no ideas, no thoughts. But it’s Sunday, I post on Sunday, so here I am. I’m not a stickler for subject matter. Some writers insist on having a point; I insist on meeting deadlines. Even fake ones.

Deadlines are really quite useful, they act as motivators. I hate motivators. I don’t want to be energized and eager to achieve; I want to sit quietly, eat cookies. Motivation is for people like Steve Jobs and Antonio Gaudi, Edward Hopper and Matt Groening, you.  But for me, motivation spells trouble. And disappointment.

See, I want to be brilliant and clever, I’m just not. Therein lies the problem. I don’t like being reminded. Who needs that? When a person’s motivated, they do amazing, productive things. They create and invent and discover, depending on their particular aptitude. I’m a writer, sort of, in the technical sense, so I crank out words. Lots and lots of words. Piles and heaps of words.

It’s what I do. It’s what I am. It’s bush-league.

Each time I park in front of my computer I think, okay, this one will have wings. Sure enoughcheerleader, the hook is in. How many times can a person be so utterly naive? I’ve come close a few times. When the idea, the imagery, the timing, everything worked beautifully. Those moments, boys and girls, are magic. They’re a goddam motivator.

A near miss is a tantalizing glimpse of pay dirt. So I buckle down and try harder, set my sights higher. Kamikaze high lately — I sent a piece to the New York Times, for chrissakes, and I wasn’t drunk. Just terribly misguided. An auto-generated email response came flying back, confirming receipt. Period. That wasn’t humiliating enough, so I licked my wounds, regrouped, and wrote one for the Washington Post. Bupkis. Not even the auto-generated ‘piss off, loser.’

Stoopid motivation. If it wasn’t for that, I’d be enjoying a lazy afternoon, perfectly content. Not pouting, with my tail tucked between my legs. One of these days I’ll smarten up and stop this nonsense, quit fooling myself into thinking I’m something I’m not. Until then, I’ll keep pretending deadlines and punctuation are important. Or get a hobby.


“Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection.”
— Marilyn Monroe

“Me, too.”
— Publikworks

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: the rat bastard is leaving me :

May 20, 2015 § 8 Comments

We were together a long time, Dave and I. The guy made me laugh, you know? I’m a sucker for men who make me laugh and he did. Better than anyone. You never knew what was coming with that guy, there was nothing predictable about him. Except you knew he’d be there. Every night. Like clockwork. Until now.


Now he’s leaving me. Do you believe that? After 33 years, it’s adios. He can’t get out the door fast enough. By morning he’ll be a tender memory. Do I get an apology, alimony? I do not. He’s made a public spectacle out of his decision to leave, turning it into a circus.

Has he once thought about my feelings, what I want? Has he ever? Pffft, he doesn’t even acknowledge me — in his eyes, I don’t exist. I’m nobody. I only counted in the Nielsen ratings.

Well, Mr. Big Shot Comedian, take your goofy, gap-toothed grin and go. Forget about me and my unflagging loyalty, my devoted faithfulness. I’ll remember you, though. I’ll remember you and the Bookmobile lady; I’ll remember the Velcro suit and the watermelons off the roof. Everything.

This little stunt, though? It isn’t funny at all. Who’s gonna make me laugh now, you rat bastard? Stephen Colbert? Hardly. I may never laugh again.

late show
Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: aren’t you a doll :

May 17, 2015 § 4 Comments

A couple weeks ago I had the epiphany at Barnes & Noble, remember? The one where I realized I’m compulsive. I’d caught myself straightening and organizing the magazines, which were in chaos, I might add. And ever since, I’ve been jonesing for a Twinkie. That’s not as weird as it sounds. The CEO of Hostess was the cover story in the May issue of Forbes.

I took a break from sorting to read the blurb about how folks approach him and thank him for bringing back the Twinkie, a most American icon. They do? Seemed a little disingenuous. I mean, I like Twinkies, but I couldn’t pick the CEO out of a police line-up, let alone the general population. No way. And I doubt I’m unusual.

forbesWould you recognize the CEO of Hostess? Did you know his name is C. Dean Metropoulos? I didn’t, either. In his cover photo he looks like the kind of guy who wears a pinkie ring. Apparently, he has quite a reputation for rescuing bankrupt companies and turning them into money-makers: Bumblebee Tuna, Chef Boyardee, Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Yeah, whoopee, a wheeler-dealer. He buys established, big name brands in trouble, automates them, makes a pile of cash, sells it for a bigger pile of cash, and moves on. Where’s the finesse, where’s the artistry? It just proves the old adage, ‘it takes money to make money.’

When he bought Hostess, the company wasn’t burdened with debt and pension costs and union demands. He had none of the liabilities and all the advantages of a hugely popular brand name. Seems like, pardon the pun, a cakewalk. A no-brainer. Now, they’re pumping out a million Twinkies a day. Picture a million of those high-calorie sugar bombs. Dentists and Dr. Atkins rejoice!

Now, designing dolls takes brains, designing anything, actually. You have to, again pardon the pun, start from scratch. There’s no head start involved. No, sir. You need a vision and craftsmanship, brilliance and passion. You need to be a little bent, too. That’s important.


These aren’t your garden-variety Barbie dolls. These are customized works of art. How I envy the talent it takes to create little wonders such as these. I wanna be an artist or a designer. I want to make stuff, amazing stuff, not just money. I want to make things I can hold in my hand and say I did this. I imagined it. Now, look.


Well, maybe in another life. If there is one, shouldn’t we get to decide what we come back as? Doesn’t that seem fair?

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: feeling a little flushed :

May 13, 2015 § 6 Comments

Happens to the best of us, I suppose. You spend hours, days, putting together a decent post or story or whatever — heck, you invest your heart in the stoopid thing. Carefully choosing words, worrying over the punctuation, thinking, pondering, revising, thinking some more. Finally, at long last, tadaaaaaaaaaaah. You did it. You’re finished.

circus clown

Hold on there, sport. Proofreading, remember? Personally, I hate proofing. It’s mind-numbing and a jarring eye-opener. You see, the proofing stage is where the glee and pride turn to bewilderment and disappointment. You created a masterpiece; where’s the masterpiece? This isn’t it, this is a mess. Your heart tumbles into your shoes and confidence swirls down the drain. How that happens so fast is baffling. How I completely misjudge is the real mystery.

Wishful thinking. That’s what I put it down to. You know, wishful thinking is really just a nice way of saying delusional, isn’t it? Well, duh. Writers are. We couldn’t survive without deluding ourselves. Name a profession where there’s more rejection, more second-guessing. Everyone’s a critic, everyone’s an expert. Especially you, you’re the harshest judge of your work.

So what can you do? Me, I walk away. I can’t bear to look any longer. Sometimes I’m so disgusted I throw it out in a fit of despair. All that work and effort down the toilet. Or urinal, as the case may be. (I love these transitions from out of the blue.)

Aren’t they an absolute trip? The urinals? Imagine walking into the men’s room and seeing one of these attached to the wall. You’d forget why you came, wouldn’t you?

french horn

Good thing I’m a girl. I’d flush everything I wrote, boosh, just for the fun of it. You’ll find the Clown at Universal City Walk in Osaka, Japan by Richard Adams; the French Horns are at Bell Inn in Sussex, England from Jordan Zurlino.

I really hope you get a chance to see these. Because, oh God, it’s time to proof …

restroom icons

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: dear old mom II :

May 10, 2015 § 8 Comments

mary cassattA Mother’s Day Series

Life with my mother was no walk in the park. It was a stroll through the cemetery. In winter. In blizzard conditions. She so loved an adventure.

Every December, like clockwork, she bought wreaths for my grandparents’ graves. Then she’d wait or, let’s be generous, maybe forget they were in the trunk of the car. Either way, flying snow and howling wind had the effect of a starter’s pistol. She’d be seized with the urge to move. Grab your coat and let’s go.

No-o-o-o-o-o. I didn’t want to. I didn’t enjoy these outings. Why me, why did I have to go? Take my sister, take the dog, take anyone. I was glum; she was giddy as we skidded along mostly deserted, very snowy streets. This being Illinois, the city is a virtual flatlands, but towering bluffs and treacherous, winding hills awaited us in the cemetery.

Once through the gates, the road disappeared. No more curbs or sidewalks, no tire tracks, just an endless white world. A blank canvas. Every now and again a grave marker or family mausoleum poked up, a reminder of where I was — as if I’d forget. It was spooky; utterly still and creepy quiet. You could almost, almost hear the snowflakes land.

We moved at a crawl, the tires struggling for traction. On the final twisting incline, perhaps eighty yards from our goal, the wheels spun helplessly. Too steep. Oh, goody, I’d have to get out and walk. That’s when it hit me: how would I find headstones under two flipping feet of snow? My mother handed me a broom and the wreaths.

I trudged forth into the eerie hush. I promise you, it was otherworldly and deeply unnerving. Quiet like that is unnatural and the only place it exists is deep inside a cemetery during a snowstorm. My crunchy footsteps were the only sound. Nearby, a tree branch snapped under the weight and I screamed like a teakettle, hightailing it back to the car, wreaths and broom flapping.

My mother was beyond amused, her laugh echoed like gunshots. And she kept right on snickering as we headed back to civilization. In reverse. That’s right, with nowhere to turn around, we backed out of an entire cemetery. Okay, only as far as the rickety little bridge, where — not at all surprisingly — a rear wheel skidded off the edge.

Have you ever called for roadside assistance from a graveyard? It took three tries until someone took us seriously. The tow truck driver thanked us for making his day.

tow truck

My mom died in 1994, but the memories will abide forever. She was the greatest friend I’ll ever know.

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: in loving memory :

May 9, 2015 § 8 Comments

sock puppetOn Lost Sock Memorial Day 2015.

A moment of silence, please, to honor the billions of socks lost in service to their owners. Lost. Who can say? Cast aside. Jilted. Whatever. It’s a disgrace how carelessly we treat socks in this world.

You find these once fluffy companions flattened and moldering in parking lots, plastered against washer drums in laundromats, balled up in Lost and Found collections from sea to shining sea. Are we really that cold-hearted, that uncaring? Have we completely lost our humanity?

Socks belong on our feet, not on missing posters. Keep a closer eye on them, ladies and gentlemen. They’re sneaky, furtive little bastards. Come on, would you want to spend your day stuffed inside a hot, sweaty shoe? Of course not. First chance they get, they’re gone.

So count them on laundry day. Stop leaving them in hotel and locker rooms. They’re not smart, they won’t find their way home. When one does turn up missing, and one will sooner or later, launch a search party. Rustle up a posse. Track that thing down.

Put an end to these senseless disappearances. We have sock drawers for a reason, remember?

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks