Welcome to Popular Ink's INDELIBLE KITCHEN.

Now get the hell out!

Really, we would love to have you stay but we would feel rude about that as we have left. As in gone, defunct, kaput. We aren't here anymore. Sometimes, when it's late and we are worried about dying, we do believe in reincarnation. So, maybe we will live again. We'll let you know if that happens.


Reality Creates Irony in Champa's Fiction

Paula Champa’s book, Admissions--recently released by Popular Ink--features a dean of Admissions from M.I.T. A strange irony as the Dean of Admissions from M.I.T. made news today.


Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie

The dean of admissions at M.I.T. admitted that she had lied about having an undergraduate degree.


You Gotta Love a Naked Robot

How can you not love this? A naked robot by Mimi Kirchner.

Vent Trickles 1.2 by Jay Snodgrass

Sweet enormous bread-pan,

the brain, il cervello, prelude to stitches

and sleeping god of DIAGNOSIS

on your heels the sacrifice, lurid

still agoggle, blasted two ways to history

listening for the sounds

of assurance that the lord wears shit-kickers.

The city is composed of roadmaps

a full scale whimper and office complex,

the erosion of rain unfreezes new hamburger joints

malted Hercules in a dress, too strong but still

praying for the ax, the redeemer’s quiet candor,

Ortega, the family moon, dipping its donut

to the awful horse-smell of Hialeah, her belt loop

unearthing some hyper calculated slip of quivering flesh,

the moose horn and the milkshake,

each neighborhood’s set of jiggling driveway reach-arounds:

portions of the lobe which receives tire treads.


The Dentist by Nathan Long

Becoming adult meant no longer having our teeth inspected daily by our father.

After we brushed our teeth, our father would inspect our work. We came up to his chair in the living room and opened our mouths before him. If he saw food between our teeth, he would send us back. Otherwise, he would run his closely cut fingernails against a tooth and see if there was tartar build up. His fingers were large and rounded at the end, his fingernails curved identically with the skin. Tufts of hair sprouted between each joint and I remember thinking how I never wanted hands like that.

“Look at that,” he would say with disappointment, if he found residue under his nail, and he would march us back to brush again.

I recently went to the dentist and he scolded me for not flossing enough. Now I do it every night, and as I stick my large hands in my mouth in front of the bathroom mirror, I think of my father—if only he had made us floss daily.


Photo by Jorn Ake


Fall Trees in Central Park by Jorn Ake


III. More from the Essay on What Used to Be My Really Hard Life -- This is the Masturbator-Flasher Part So Read It!


As far as commutes go, the counter-commute from Manhattan to White Plains was one of the better ones. No one to speak of was leaving Manhattan at 8:00 a.m. to get to White Plains since most of White Plains was already enroot to Manhattan. All I had to do was walk eight blocks down and six blocks over from West 48th Street and Tenth Avenue to Grand Central. If the weather was lousy, I could ride a bus to the station and pick up nice a Metro North Train.

Getting home was easy, too. Someone almost always gave me a ride to the train station in White Plains. The train back to Manhattan was always sparcely peopled (except on Fridays when everyone under 30 from all places due north seemed to tying one on and heading into the big city). I would get in a train car with ten or eleven people in it. Everyone sat far apart from one another, wearing our walkmans, reading our newspapers, books and magazines—a quiet crowd of mostly professionally dressed women.

By the time the train got to Manhattan and made its stop at 125th Street, the car was usually empty, save one or two people. Then the conductor would come through and check our tickets one last time and retreat for the remainder of the trip during which the train would put on speed and barrel into the long dark tunnel to Grand Central.

Ah, the stop at 125th Street. It marked the beginning of the end of the work day for me. And, until the Masturbator Flasher incident, it stirred in me a certain sense of excitement. I was 21 and I was in New York City. I would crank up my Iggy Pop or Grace Jones or Suburban Lawns, let my book fall to my lap and feel a tingle in my fingertips and day dream of the time when I would be somebody in the city. Somebody, who, say, didn’t have to counter-commute to White Plains to work in an office editing corporate publications. Somebody who didn’t have to wander around offering to make photocopies for everyone just so she wouldn’t have to look at the PC Junior manual she was rewriting.

But then, in the middle of Iggy’s stirring rendition of “Lust for Life” I caught, in my peripheral vision, a disturbing blur of motion. I glanced sideways, without turning my head, to check my senses. I must have known that something was wrong. I surreptitiously turned down the volume of the walkman and picked up my book. I held it close to my face and cut a glance again. A trim, middle-aged man in white tennis shorts and a green and white striped polo shirt was sitting in the seat (that before the stop at 125th Street had been empty) across the aisle. He was clutching his rather outsized penis in both hands. He stared at me with a half-smile and furiously jacked off.

I think I stopped breathing for the 80 or so blocks left in the trip. I looked around the car. Entirely empty. I started to stand up but then sat back down again. I pretended to read. I started to stand up but sat back down again. I repeated this pattern about ten times until the lights went out, as they often did in the tunnel when we were nearing Grand Central, and the train slowed. In the dark, I shot out of my seat.

I had only made to the aisle when the lights came back on. The masturbator-flasher guy stood up, white tennis shorts still unzipped, his large, now flaccid penis hanging out, and smiled and nodded at me. Needless to say, I did not nod back. I ran to the next car as the train pulled into the station and then ran all the way to the street, where I sprung for a cab.

Later, when I told my boyfriend about what happened, we decided, hey, this is New York City. Yup. Chalk it up to the city. What’s the chance of ever seeing that guy again? As it turned out, the chances of seeing that guy again were pretty good. Excellent even. That guy and I had the same train schedule.


The Skewer Report on a Really Hard Life

The Skewer sends this riff responding to an article that notes: “last week mega-rich parents often set a spendthrift example – a Long Island businessman, David Brooks, spent $10 million on his 13-year-old daughter's party, which included performances by the rock group Aerosmith and the rapper 50 Cent, together with $10,000 party bags for the teenage guests.”

By the Skewer

As if a bad ski season in Gstaad weren't enough, I got scorched by an untrained bikini waxer getting ready to go to St. Tropez. Really! I had to take a week at Las Ventanas just to get over it.

And now, just when I should be relaxing, there's the pressure of what to get my niece, whose father gave her a miniature fainting pony for her fourth birthday. A horse that is known to fall over? What was he thinking?

But she loves it because the mane is so fluffy, according to the nanny (Vanessa? Birgit?).

I was going to get her a Big Sister/Little Sister Spa Day when I heard that, just across the park, the parents of a one-year-old threw her a $30,000 birthday party with 100 guests, each child dressed like their favorite member of a royal family.

And if you can believe it, not one etiquette book gives guidance and my friend, Claire, whom I usually consult, was climbing a peak in Patagonia and unreachable by cell. So on the way back from Las Ventanas, I was forced to start my own list:

1 Year Old - Lobster, life-size cake, guest appearance by Cirque du Soleil traveling troupe, for no more than 40 child friends (plus equal number of children of parents' business associates) in the Hamptons

5 Years Old - Custom-designed clothing line, launched at Fashion Week; factory tour with "Happy Birthday" sung by factory team associates

10 Years Old - A hard age. Polo team and own pony, with private lessons by team members. Or art lessons by downtown's next big thing, and stock portfolio, followed by all-night slumber party at museum

Sweet 16 - Party with known singing or rap star and private helicopter (no more lift lines) with pilot on retainer

Big 18 - Open-ended trip to Paris or Ibiza with jet-load of closest personal friends

21 Years Old - Private island or, if only islands with rocky coasts are available, refurbished castle in country of choice

I don't know - is it enough?

II. More from the Essay on What Used to Be My Really Hard Life

So this is the next installment. If you haven't read the beginning, go down about three posts and there you will find it--complete with typos. Nothing like putting your stuff out there to help you see your errors. Anyhow, I promised myself I would press on with this essay (which is totally true, by the way--even though my family members will take me to task for later parts of the essay--which are not in this short and badly punctuated installment.) This is a short entry but it ends with Masturbator/Flasher foreshaddowing which should encourage you to wait breathlessly for the next installment. While you wait, you could practice your Masturbator/Flasher breathing. Really, I am digressing now and just repeating Masturbator/Flasher . . .

Ultimately, I started getting to work later and later. The windowless room that I shared with a perky intern from Berkley seemed to grow smaller, the black plastic clock on the wall larger. I finished the article on Rochester and it was finally published. I learned how to operate the copy machine and made copies for anyone who wanted them when the secretary wasn’t around. While making copies might seem a step down from writing articles for IBM Digest or for the Corporate Headquarters news letter, it got me away from the tiny office and the clock. Then I got to write a scintillating piece on a company basket ball team. I continued to work on the PC Junior manual, but mostly, I continued to watch the clock on the wall. Three months passed.

During my life outside of the office building, things happened. I wrecked my lemon yellow Dodge Horizon in a snow storm and had to start taking rides from other interns and young workers at IBM. I moved away from the Yonkers secretary and the hairy guys with necklaces and into an apartment in Hells Kitchen with my willowy, blue-eyed boyfriend. I began to counter-commute to IBM’s corporate head quarters in White Plains from Manhattan. I started to show up to work later and later. No one seemed to notice.

Then I had a series of small maladies, bladder infections and colds, which I milked. I began to miss work entirely—first one day a week and then two. I collected a good letter of recommendation and continued the charade of “working” at IBM until the occurrence of what I will call the Masturbator/ Flasher Incident.


My Rediculously Difficult Life

Was made more complicated last weekend when my five year old son asked a broken hotwheels car, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

For I Am...

After looking at a ridiculous computer screen, with computer jibberish on it, all day long, the last thing I want to do is blog for I am The Terrible Bald Man. Look out all!!!!

I. The Beginning of an Essay about What Used to Be My Really Hard Life

This is the beginning of an essay. It's not done, so no wise cracks about how this has no arc. If my really hard life will allow it, I will post a new installment soon.

I have always had trouble with jobs—not work, just jobs. I don’t mind working. In fact, I love working so much that my husband, Clay, occasionally threatens to divorce me. Clay’s idea of a good vacation is to snowboard and watch movies, maybe go to a museum. My idea of a good vacation is to stay at home and scour the bathroom grout with a toothbrush, then to edge the twelve beds in our lawn, re-glaze the windows, refinish the furniture, alphabetize the album collection (CDs are all in order, but the albums have gotten out of control), hang shutters, inventory our books and mulch and mulch and mulch.

If I have to go on a vacation, I am always gunning for some kind of eco-tourism or humanitarian work—you know, clean up the beaches of Alaska, unclog a threatened river in Brazil, build houses for the needy in Zimbabwe. We never get to do this though. Invariably, we have to take some kind of “relaxing,” all-expense paid vacation that involves Florida and the in-laws (the payers of the expenses) and riding bikes and swimming and eating in restaurants and watching movies. I can’t tell you how oddly stressed all this relaxation makes me—how all I can think of is the work left undone.

Lately, I have been dreaming about taking some time off to use a pressure washer. I have never used a pressure washer, but I have seen them in action. Once, I lived next to some people who were much more compulsive than I am. Every morning, the man would pressure wash his driveway and then his wife would scrub, on her hands and knees, any area that was not completely gleaming. Man, they had a good looking driveway. Pressure washer . . . I could blast out the dirt and bizarre plants that crop up in our driveways. (We have two and I swear they haven’t been repaved since the house was built in 1937.) I could shoot off the flaking (probably lead-based) paint from our trim. And the walkways, the concrete pad around the back of our house, the tiled side porch, the concrete stairs to the basement, the stone walls . . .

Work is relaxing. Jobs are not.

While I can spend an inordinate amount of time folding my underwear and arranging them by type and color—black, bikini cottons to the left, beige, synthetic body shapers to the right—this has yet to bring our family any kind of great fortune. Jobs, on the other hand, seem to bring in the money, not to mention health insurance.

I have always (since the age of 14—the legal age at the time) had a job. Yet, I have never successfully held a “normal” day job for more than a year. When I work at, say, an office, at first I believe I can make a difference and jet out of bed to go to work. Then, invariably, I become sodden, depressed and melancholic. For instance, my first “real” job was am internship at IBM. This was back in the days when computers were new and IBM was the model corporation. Big Blue paid me heaps and it was an honor to have the job. I competed with a bunch of much more advantaged and well-educated people (not folks who grew up in rural Virginia) to land this job. My internship coworkers went to Yale or Harvard or Berkley. They knew what salsa was (the food and the music—both were news to me), they had flown in airplanes, they got their hair cut at actual salons instead of entrusting their coiffure to roommates and siblings, they had luggage with its own pedigree and papers. I had hit the big-time.

For the first two weeks of my job I jumped out of bed and raced to work at the ungodly hour of 6:30 a.m.. Gee, I thought, I can add zest to your corporate publications. Thanks for choosing me.

I got my first assignment: rewrite the manual for the PC Junior so that normal people can understand it. This is a good idea, I thought, since the manual made less sense than an IRS publication on how to deduct certain kinds of plastic surgery (did you know you can deduct for plastic surgery if your ears are too large?). After about two weeks of rewrites and running my rewrites by six different managers, who all had vastly different ideas about how to make the PC Junior Manual more accessible to the general public, I began to sag. My main boss, Don, recognized this and offered me a side article to spice up my new life at IBM. I could write about Rochester, New York and why people who were living in the New York Metropolitan area would be delighted to move their families to the cold, less urbane, significantly smaller, oh, let’s face it, grim city of Rochester. I still remember the first line from the piece, “Colonel Rochester was right.” As for the rest of it, I come up blank. And this is not because I was using drugs or drinking excessively. Granted, I was sharing a cottage in Chappaqua, New York with a secretary from Yonkers who had various hairy, necklace-wearing “boyfriends” over for sex every night. And sometimes these boyfriends were so courteous that they would wander downstairs to try to invite me to join in on the fun. I always greeted these requests with silence (actually, muffled anxious breathing on the other side of a locked door with a dresser and a couch pushed in front of it). Okay, so maybe I was tired. Maybe that was why I lost the zeal for that IBM job. For reasons I can no longer remember, during that time I painted my bedroom, including the ceiling, black. I do remember that this took a lot of time and the results were not good. I also cleaned the grout in the bathroom with my toothbrush.