Erik and Laura-Marie Magazine

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Zine maker, peace activist, writer, reader, feminist. I like listening to good listeners. Email me at robotmad (gmail).

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

scoring #31


A paragraph is like a body,
and the errors are wounds that need to heal.

A paragraph is like a crown,
and the errors are jewels that glow.

A paragraph is like a container,
and the errors are holes that let the meaning leak out.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Field Mouse

by Erik Lundgren

In a pasture, a man was resting atop a slab of granite like it really was his own bed at home. Long grass waved to and fro in front of his eyes. The sky was the deepest blue.

He was a little bit afraid – he wasn’t sure whether to call if “afraid” – of the way he seemed to find himself alone on another planet. The life on this planet was grass. It spoke to him. He didn’t know if it was nice.

Towering clouds bloomed really, really far away everywhere. He felt like a mouse gazed on by many cats. He needed to go home and watch the news.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

cosmetic surgury


I was shocked when three students this semester wanted to write essays pro-cosmetic surgery. I think that having your body cut into, for any reason than health necessity, is disgusting.

Also, cosmetic surgery is so expensive. It creates a larger gap between the rich and the poor. It’s a waste of money: how could looks be so important? the complete opposite of my firmly-held idea that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Two of these students mentioned that they love to watch shows on TV where a person gets a complete make-over, including cosmetic surgery. So maybe these shows are like ads for the industry.

I love you just the way you are and hope you will never go under the knife to get prettier. You’re quite pretty enough.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

the characters of my apartment complex


I already told you last issue about the crazy white woman downstairs who owns Orange Cat. She thinks there’s a conspiracy against her involving furniture and people listening in on her telephone. I don’t feel sorry for her because she’s mean, and she scares me.

Another character is the old British lady. She has lived in this complex for 30 years. She has her own, real mailbox, with a flag and everything, as opposed to one of the narrow columns in the brass mailbox cabinet that opens with a key, like everyone else. She’s mean too. But she calls us “dear” while being mean, which is creepy.

Next door is one of the normal-est of the bunch. He has odd bumper stickers, though—Harry for President (in the Harry Potter font), WAGE PEACE (which of course I like), and Get a Taste of Religion—Lick a Witch. He plays his music loud, but I don’t mind some of it, like occasional Led Zeppelin, Enya, and John Lennon. He burns incense a lot, which smells nice. He’s not bad.

Directly downstairs is our quiet, young black female neighbor who drives a highly-oxidized-red car with a Mason sticker on it (I assume she’s not a Mason, though). She has a hard hat. When she has guests, they’re super-loud! She’s gone almost every weekend. Where, I have no idea—we’ve never spoken a word. She’s a bit mysterious and completely non-objectionable.

Then there’s a not-so-bad family across the way. The dad blasts terrible Christian music while he washes his car, but they are otherwise fine. The two sons are quiet. I saw the parents in Trader Joe one time.

The dad has a white truck, in addition to his black car, and it’s huge. It makes maneuvering the parking lot difficult, and we wish he would get rid of it, because he hasn’t driven it in more than six months. It has a cow bell on the front. Spider webs spun near the wheels prove the truck’s long period of disuse.

There’s the disabled woman who sometimes is visited by a guy I assume is her personal assistant. He drives a van. He wears an unusual Greek fisherman’s cap and black leather.

Then there’s the pure evil and her children and her dude. She is the white trash queen of the complex. She’s pregnant and screaming. She’s the one who I heard yesterday call her son a little fucker. She was yelling this morning at her dude for half an hour straight, and I don’t see how she doesn’t lose her voice. She doesn’t watch her kids for hours, and then suddenly she snaps and starts yelling at them with an anger that can’t be justified.

The kids are many and super-loud. The oldest boy is the worst--he likes to find a stick and bang on everything. Making noise seems to be his main way of having fun. The children leave trash everywhere, and their toys—a rake, small plastic chairs, half-naked Barbie in the grass.

What do you do about a neighbor like white trash queen? She symbolizes for me the reason our country is going downhill. The kids must be traumatized, and I think they’ll grow up to be like her. It’s clear that she’s stressed out to the max and needs some kind of help. Having another kid on the way was a terrible error. I wish I could lend a hand somehow, but I hate her, and I wouldn’t want to be around her. The sound of her voice is defeating.

Someone needs to give her a break, wash her dishes, and let her take a walk or do something nice, alone, but I don’t think I’m the one. It’s hard to start a conversation with someone whose dirty laundry you’re so familiar with via the screamed threats, accusations, and name-calling.

Her youngest daughter is so cute, and I wave to her sometimes. I wish I could help her too. Sometimes I hear her cry and cry. Life will only get harder for her when she’s no longer the baby!

The characters of my apartment complex have such a big impact on me because I am severely affected by sound. The walls are thin, and I’m forced to listen, but I’m isolated by shyness and aloofness. We all share poverty, and we all share the laundry room, and that’s about it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

deer morning

This morning when we got up, it was lightly raining, and across the street I saw two deer standing in the neighbor’s yards. What were they staring at? They were staring at the big, orange-brown dog within a wire fence. The dog looked scared and didn’t bark. He slowly walked. Even though the dog’s big, the deer were bigger. They were two does. The larger doe walked toward the dog, and the dog backed away, which made me laugh. The deer’s ears were pointed forward toward the dog, and I saw both deer move their ears the way cats do to catch different sounds. Eventually the dog went around to the other side of the house, out of view. The deer relaxed. They walked slowly in a stiff, halting way. They munched, and the smaller one nuzzled the bigger one, almost as if she were whispering.

I noticed that the mushroom stems and apple core I threw on the lawn yesterday afternoon are gone.

Usually when I see deer, it’s on the road. They’re standing there, and I stop my truck. I think something like, “Are you going to get out of the way, or what?” The deer will eventually figure out what to do and cross, or run and hop the barbed wire fence in a way that looks effortless. I watch for the moment when they seem to hang in the air.

Today it must be snowing in the mountains. I see Mt Tom out the window, and a cloud is descending to obscure it, which means that when the cloud leaves, Mt Tom will have more feet of snow on it. It’s so cloudy that you need the light to read even though it’s morning.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How to know you've become rural. #7


1. When you go anywhere in town, you look at the trucks in the parking lot to see who’s there.

2. You know the names of your neighbor’s pets.

3. When you notice an unfamiliar car in your neighborhood, you say, “I wonder who that is.”

4. You see more cows than people on any given day.

5 You start recognizing certain cows as you drive by.

6. When you meet someone and hear their last name, you say, “Are you related to so-and-so” and they are.

7. You start leaving “ly” off your adverbs when you talk, as in: “Drive careful.”

8. You know the names of the mountains.

9. When you tell someone you got pulled over, they ask, “Which cop was it?”

10. You’ve read and can remember every bumper sticker in town.

11. The pharmacist knows your name.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why I don't want to have kids. #6


Some people are mortified to hear I don’t plan on having kids. “Never?” I’m pro-choice but don’t think I would ever have an abortion, so the only way I could have kids would be if we got pregnant on accident.

I love children, and I love babies. I have our kids’ names planned, if we were to have them. The girls would be Talis Fern and Nest. The boys would be River Victor and Bram Channing.

I also think about how we would parent. We probably would send the kid to preschool then homeschool until the kid was old enough to choose, and then the kid would go to private school, not public school, if he or she wanted regular school…. We wouldn’t let the kid watch TV either, at least until they were ten.

These are the things I think about on long car rides when I get in a certain mood. Having kids is regular. Lots of mothers and fathers don’t think twice. They don’t need reasons—instinct is enough, or maybe they have thought about it but when they were little, or at an unconscious level.

I’m on the Shot, and it fails only rarely. I’m 27 now with still no strong desire to have my own kids—or rather, any desire to have kids is cancelled out by a stronger desire not to.

1. I don’t want my body to be inhabited. I’m afraid that being pregnant for me would feel like being parasitized. I’m afraid of pregnancy’s hormonal changes. I’m also afraid of the whole birth experience, especially considering how backward things are in the US—if I did have a kid, it wouldn’t happen in a hospital.

2. I don’t want to have the entire focus of my existence changed.

3. I don’t want to end up like Sylvia Plath with my head in the oven. I want to be able to write whenever I need to and call in sick at work sometimes. There’s no vacation from motherhood.

4. I don’t want to develop an oppressive relationship with Erik. Have you read stats on how relationships change after a child is born? Even the most progressive couple usually lapses into traditional gender roles.

5. I don’t want to sacrifice career and dreams.

6. Post-partum depression and the crippling feelings of isolation and worthlessness that many new mothers experience.

7. The possibility that I would abuse my child.

8. The possibility that I would resent my child. Loss of solitude, loss of privacy.

9. The possibility that my child would die (causing us the most intense grief imaginable).

10. The way people think they’re allowed to stare and talk to you if you’re pregnant or have a baby with you: “Oh, look how cute!’ etc.

11. Diapers, sleepless nights, pastel colors, and all that gender trouble with pink and baby blue.

12. Overpopulation, pollution, predators, the dangers of the world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

driving #5

I’m driving slower than ever,
and the snow fall hypnotizes me
like a screensaver.
I’m so scared, but the secretary
at school said my truck is safe
because it’s heavier.
The snow by the road looks
scary because everything’s
white when yesterday
there was color.

Monday, February 20, 2006

friendship application from #4


Name, place of birth, date of birth, address, email address(es), and phone number.





What’s your favorite mode of communication?

What are your normal sleeping hours?

What are your main moods? Explain.




What are your favorite foods, books, colors, and plants?




Describe your current best friends in detail. What do you value about him or her?




Describe your typical day.




What level of friendship are you currently seeking?

Do you hug? If so, how often?

Describe your pets and partners, if any. Will pets and/or partners participate in our friendship?



Thank you for filling out this friendship application. Expect to be contacted within two weeks.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

two dreams from #16


I
We were with astronomer John Dobson. He was lying on the ground with his head in my lap. I was stroking his long, gray hair. I said, “You don’t remember us, but we remember you.” I told him I loved him. Erik was sitting at John Dobson’s feet, asking him questions about astronomy.

II
We were in a large competition to see who could get closest to God. We had to do different activities over a period of many days. On the last day, Erik and I were in a river bed. Two beams of light shone down from heaven—one on Erik, and one on me. I was so happy because that meant we had won the competition. We went to see John Dobson. He told us that the last thing we needed to do in order to reach God was to become vegetarians. He showed us a pamphlet on different vegetarian foods we could eat.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hat


by Erik Lundgren

I'm sure you noticed my hat. Go ahead and take a good look at it. Almost all people stare at my hat. I once first realized that a man was blind by noticing that he wasn't staring at my hat. Children giggle and exclaim about my hat in too-loud-a-voice to their parents, who scold them but who also stare at my hat.

Don't you want to ask me about it? You do. Most peoples' questions are roundabout ways of trying to find out why I would ever put such a ridiculous object on my head. It's probably the silliest thing you've ever seen. Mostly only children actually ask me what they really, deep-down want to know.

I got this hat from a complete stranger. He was waiting for me in a narrow alley. He was looking at me with the face of a beaming grandparent. I thought to myself, I'm not going to look at him, I'm going to ignore his pleas for whatever he wants. But then I see it -- the hat. I'm staring at it and he wants to give it to me.

"You remind me of my grandson," he says. "You're just like him. He's been dead and buried these twenty-two years. I'd always wanted to give this hat to my grandson, and now I want to give it to you. I was supposed to give my grandson this hat on the day he died. I know God brought you here to give me a second chance. God bless you, my son."

I refused to take it. It was such a stupid hat. "Well then," he said, "let me give you something in place of the hat. Please, sir. Let me give you a gift. It'll represent the gift I wanted to give to my grandson." I went along with it but it gave me the creeps, especially when he asked me to close my eyes and open my hands. "It's a solemn occasion," he said. When I opened my eyes I was holding the stupid hat. And I could hear the old man's shoes clomping. He was actually running away. The old man ran fast.

The thing about it is, you can't just throw this hat away. That would be a waste. It's the sort of hat that you know an incredible amount of thought and care went into it, even though it was the wrong kind of thought and care. You can't just leave it somewhere with a note, either, because that would be just like tossing it in the dumpster, which I did several times and then retrieved it. Of course no one would pick it up if I left it anywhere. Now the hat is my responsibility.

Not that I didn't try to get rid of it. I asked everybody I saw to take it. I went to hat conventions. I visited hatter's shops. I tried to find the hat's maker, but the hatters would became angry if I even hinted at the idea that themselves or anyone else in their profession had made the hat. I tried to give it away as the prize of contests. I went to mental institutions. And I tried trickery.

Let me give you an example. I came upon a boy playing hopscotch. He was a young boy dressed up in his sunday school clothes. I come up to him. I'm holding the hat behind my back like this. "Now I want to give you a gift," I say, "but in return I want you to give me a promise. Do you think you can do that?"

The little boy nodded solemnly.

"Promise me that you will always take care of this gift I am about to give to you. I want you to keep this gift in perfect condition. I want you to be able to pass this gift on to your children and your children's children, just as I am about to pass it on to you. This is a big responsibility. Do you think you can do that?"

"Yes," the boy said very seriously, and he looked wide-eyed in anticipation.

"Now close your eyes," I said, "and hold out your hands. Are you keeping your eyes closed?"

The boy nodded.

"Here," I said, bringing the hat out from behind my back, but the boy snatched away his hands.

"Yuck!" he yelled. Evidently he'd kept one of his eyes partly open.

"Here, take it, will you?" I said.

"No!" he said.

"But you promised," I said. He showed me that his fingers were crossed. I tossed it to him but he refused to catch it and let it drop to the ground. He abandoned his hopscotch court and ran away to a safe distance. This incident was how the hat got a chalk stain right here, but I think I've cleaned it off completely now.

For a while, I pretended I was carrying the hat for someone else. I thought it wouldn't look as silly to carry it as wear it. I said it wasn't my own hat. But I don't think it makes a difference, do you? Might as well not be ashamed of it. The shame part adds its own silliness. So now I always wear this hat on my head where everyone can see it, and I can now finally say that I'm proud of it. I alone accepted the responsibility for this hat. It is my own. I can even say this. If you were to ask me for this hat right now, I wouldn't give it to you. I won't give up this hat for anything.

Friday, February 17, 2006

is suicide the ultimate in selfishness


Is suicide the ultimate in selfishness,
or is a person left without a choice?
When they get so sick—
hitting bottom, and no one can help.
I tend to think about the family,
who has to clean all that shit up.
No matter how well-intentioned you are,
the kids aren’t going to understand
why you “couldn’t do it anymore”
and jumped into the lake, off the bridge,
off the building, off the cliff,
into the fire, or swerved to hit the semi.
You’re going to fuck them up for life.
But in your mind,
you were going to do that anyway—
at least now, it’s less active,
more in their imaginations.
Is a choice something you can feel?
Is a choice real?
Can you blame anyone?
Maybe you should just thank God
the violence turned inward,
they didn’t hurt other people.
Or maybe it isn’t violence,
it’s just a mistake.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

game

I compared six clowns
who all looked the same.
I checked their ears
and eye-wrinkles
then counted the polka-
dots on their hats.
It took my wife to tell me,
"You’re a lunatic. Four is
missing a bowtie."
My career as a Mensa
strategist is over!

Mexican composer dream

I dreamed my dad was a Mexican composer who only came to see us in California every few years. When he was visiting, I was supposed to be really happy, but I hated him. I spoke to him only in English, and he spoke to me only in Spanish, but I wasn’t really listening anyway. He waved a bell in the air and almost hit my mom in the head. I yelled, “DON'T HURT MY MOM!” and ran to another room, where an audience was assembling for a performance. I was supposed to watch and saved two seats for friends though I felt disgusted with everything and just wanted him to leave again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I remember #34


I remember sometimes my parents would eat ice cream after putting me and my brother to bed. The clinking of the spoon on the cup.

I remember when I was setting type for the first time. Some of the fonts were sparse—stolen letters? I thought a “p” could be an upside-down “d.” But I was wrong. My teacher said the type was made out of lead, to wash our hands, and don’t eat in the print room.

I remember I used to hate the Beastie Boys—too beastie, too boyish. Then I got a job at a certain dining commons where the guys who were responsible for music loved the Beastie Boys, and I was forced to listen to them almost all shift, if I was working hot line, and I often was. So now I love the Beastie Boys. Similar thing happened with Weezer, different job.