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mallwalking: the trend that should be sweeping the nation

by Hammie Fay

Is Nick Jonas the new Usher? All white everything the new black? Nigella the new chia? Is two the new one? The year is 2015 and the future is now. Mallwalking is the workout you need in your life.

Imagine hiking indoors without any incline or bugs and surrounded by the sweet scent of soft salted pretzels. I dare you to find something wrong with that sentence.

I contacted a mall walker I found on the world wide web for her take on the workout trend that is not quite sweeping the nation.

ME: So how did you get involved in the mall walk movement?

MALLWALKER: Well it was kind of on accident really. I went out to a shopping mall one day and slowly started to realize, I didn’t actually need anything. I don’t enjoy giving the appearance that I am doing something without purpose, so instead of turning around empty handed…I just…kept…walking.

ME: Wow, interesting. How often would you say you go mall walking?

MALLWALKER: I try to go at least every other day. On Fridays I reward myself with an Orange Julius.

ME: What’s your routine like?

: Well, I never go mall walking without my skechers shapeups. I know I’ve heard some lies about them being ineffective but it is my goal in life to look like the coolest Demi Lovato fan in all of America.

ME: Do you mall walk alone or with a group?

MALLWALKER: Mostly alone. I have a great group of internet friends though and sometimes I chat with them online while I walk the mall.

: Are your internet friends also mall walkers?

: OH HELL YA. I met them on a Facebook group called “mall walk america,” I even met my fiancé in the group!

After learning that mall walking was also a great way to meet a spouse I charged to my local mall and IMMEDIATELY got to walking.

I wore my freshest skechers and my most secure fanny pack so all the other mall walk buffs knew I meant business. The rest of the morning was a blur partly due to excitement but mostly due to xanax. However, I did leave with the phone number to the cutest employee at Auntie Anne’s and a newfound appreciation for the human body and all of its wonders.

Learn more about the art of Mallwalking from the folks with their finger on the pulse at Mallwalk America

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Who Stole My Sonnets?!!

by Fishspit

    No one believes my tale . . . what happened . . . no one, that is, but the two most mentally ill people in my mental health support group. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen! But maybe I should tell you about “the curse” I live under that led up to the incident before I tell you what happened.
    I live under a curse! I don’t know when it started . . . yet over the last two years it has become obvious. I have had nothing go right for two years! I hear my beloved optimist reader: “Fishspit! You are just looking at the negative! You dismiss the positive!” I hear the cognitive behaviorist counselor say, “Fishspit, you have developed a negative cognitive schema. You need to change your cognitions.” Bullshit! I’m under a curse!
     Does a person who gets in four wrecks in four months have a problem of mere cognition? Hell no! There’s someone out to get him! I can hear you! You blame me! Say I am cognitive deficient and caused the wrecks . . . but no!  I admit to two of them . . . but the other two . . . well, I got rear ended. I was sitting at red lights.  
    Everything was going wrong! Had been for so long I can’t even remember what to regale you with as proof since it was a daily occurrence! While I try to cull some of the big miseries from my curse, I’ll go ahead and regale you with a strange tale.
    I had me a girl.  I loved her.  She always had good luck! It irked me!  But her karma was so good. It was just unbelievable! She didn’t lie, cheat, and steal like yours truly. No . . . she was a good person.  I’ve often wondered if my curse is me paying for my decades of terrible actions. But in all reality, I believe it is some woman who has put a curse on me. Really! I was lousy to a lot of them when I was a drunk . . . a bad drunk . . . I must have hurt one so bad that she put the whammy on me . . . a voodoo curse.
    Back to the girl though . . . damn! . . . I’m always taking you on long tangents reader. I don’t know how to avoid it. How do you avoid rambling off like this? It’s my poor bean. It’s so fried. But that girl! She didn’t do bad things! She really was good! A good woman?! I know it’s hard to believe. But she was one if there ever was one. As a matter of fact . . . as I ponder it here . . . every broad I went out with when I was so rotten was a good person. Hmm. Maybe those stories mama told me that all women were bad (except my mama) weren’t true. Maybe misogynist dudes like me have it all wrong about broads. Hmm?
    But back to the girl . . . goddamned . . . she was a good soul!  I ain’t lyin’ either! I ain’t stretching the truth! She was my girl and we loved each other a lot. I lost her though. I was too mentally ill for her . . . I liked to live too hard and fast.  She wanted a smart, mellow fellow. I sure wasn’t either of those things. So she left me for a smart, mellow fellow.
    Ugh! I’ve got to do it reader . . . I’m so sorry . . . but . . . well . . . I’ve got to take you on another circuitous route . . . but I’ll get back to “the tale” soon . . . . . I promise.
    In my heartbreak over this girl, I spent a lot of time reading 18th century British poets. I do that when I’m low. Somehow I stumbled upon this poet from this period of literary genius whom I had never heard of before. His name is John Bampfylde. Nothin’, or hardly anything, is known about him. He wrote 16 sonnets . . . fell in love with the famous painter Joshua Reynolds’s niece (or daughter, or some other pretty she-devil related to Sir Joshua) . . . and went insane from unrequited love.
    He then threw a lot of rocks through Joshua Reynolds’s windows . . . and mad as a hatter at age 25, he was carted off to the lunatic asylum. He spent 20 years there! They let him out at age 45 and he immediately got consumption and died. And I complain about my lot in life! Sheesh! Here was a fellow that had worse luck than me! Well . . . almost. I became intrigued.
    His sonnets were published once in his lifetime.  Sometime in this century, an eccentric sort fell in love with Bampfylde’s sonnets and published the 16 of them in an edition of 300.  It cost me 50 bucks but I got ahold of a copy.  These were the first sonnets I’d ever read (except for a handful of Shakespearian which bored me), and I dug them.  I really did.  I decided to learn the form and write 16 of my own.  There are a number of rhyme schemes in the sonnet form.  You’ve heard of the Shakespearian sonnet.  It’s the most commonly used form.  I think! I’m no fuckin’ scholar, so don’t quote me on that. . . but it’s the one they taught us in high school.  Bampfylde deviated from this form and so I used his rhyme scheme.
    But I needed a muse!  I needed a fair dame to write the 16 sonnets to.  I chose the girl who broke my heart.  I wrote sad sonnets to what we had, and what we’d never have again.  I had written 13 of the sonnets or so . . . worked goddamned hard on them!  One night I was writing on one late into the dark hours, but had stalled out.   I couldn’t finish a line.  “Fuck it,” I concluded and put the journal containing all the sonnets so far writ onto the nightstand beside my bed.  I took my anti-psychotic meds, turned off the lamp, and laid back.
    The mind never shuts up of course.  Mine kept working at the line I couldn’t finish.  Whammo! Hot dog damn and diddly! The line that eluded me!  I had it! I turned on the light excitedly and reached for the sonnet journal . . . it was gone!!!  Reader!  I am not a believer in weird shit!  I’m a pragmatist!  Obstinately sensible!  Way too imbecilic to appreciate the fantastic!  These things just don’t happen! Figuring it had to have fallen down behind the bed, I crawled under . . . nope.  Must be in the bed . . . tore the bed apart . . . nope. I started feeling really weird . . . totally zizzled in the noggin!  Already dizzled in the head enough, this sort of situation sends me to the other side of the rainbow.  I freak out!
    I tore my room apart. Nothing! I started searching in places it could not possibly be!  I checked all the other rooms I go into . . . rooms I hadn’t even been in that day. Nothing! I was going mad.  I knew I wouldn’t be doing any sleeping anymore.  It was a Saturday night.  I live in my parent’s basement as I’m going to school and can’t afford both tuition and rent at present.  My folks were upstairs asleep.  I did not want to wake them over this. They already think I’m bonkers!  Hell . . . one night last December I got a push by God . . . up the stairs. . . at 3 a.m. . . . and God told me to go to my mama and tell her Jesus loved her.  Really! I was standing there at the bottom of the stairs and something came along and swooshed me up the stairs! Right on into the bedroom . . . I didn’t even walk . . . I floated! I swear.   I did it . . . which totally confused my shaken awake mother as I gave her the message.  It was crazy!  But . . . well . . . hell. . . that’s a different story.  I want to talk about that fucking sonnet journal. . . not God.  I just wanted to show you, dear reader, why they are wary of me. I chose not to give them the further opportunity to wonder about me . . . and I laid there in my bed staring at the ceiling.
    When you are awake all night, the chattering mind comes up with some doozies!  My mind decided that my lost love was dead! And her spirit had come by to take the sonnet journal.  I wanted to call her and check on her . . . but like I said about my folks . . . she already thought I was batty . . . a regular doodlesump! I didn’t want to run her off anymore than I had.  At that time, though she’d kicked me to the curb, we still were in communication and civil to each other.  Deciding she was dead, I decided to think what I’d wear to her funeral.
    Dressed up in my imagination in my suave black suit and slick Italian-made wingtips . . . for the funeral you know . . . man I was looking sharp . . . well . . . I laid in bed, eyes wide open . . . waiting for my folks to get up to go to church . . . so I could nab them before they left to come have a look-see into my abode.  Surely they’d spot the journal.  I was just missing it somehow. My parents were even more practical than I!  Things didn’t disappear in their world. Hell no!  Just didn’t happen.  The laws of the universe that we all follow slavishly . . . they too followed unquestioningly. It’s a comfortable way to live.
    I certainly wasn’t comfortable in my own mind.  I waited.  They were up.  I waited.  I could tell breakfast was going via my nozzle.  I jumped up and nabbed them!  My mom went at it; then my dad.  Every nook and corner!  Every cobweb! The cat’s behind! Places the damned thing would have to shrink up something awful to fit in to.  My mother was getting flustered.  This scared me.  The woman’s a rock!  She told me that they had to get on to church but when they got home we’d all do a full spring cleaning of my bedroom.  It would certainly show up.  But there was a twang of nervousness in her voice.  She was a little flumdiddled.  That had me feeling . . . well . . . spooked!
    After they left I lay back down and stared at the ceiling.  I wanted to call the girl and see if she was up yet, but I didn’t wanna wake her up with a frantic  “Are you dead?!”  Then if she was I’d be really spooked!  Or if she wasn’t, how could I explain the sonnet disappearance?  She was even more pragmatic than the rest of us put together!  She’d think I was trying to pull a fast one! An attempt at getting her back involved with me . . . in some unfortunate manner. I got my pride goddamed it!  I loved (think I still do too)
that girl though she don’t love me no more . . . and besides my pride, I still have a modicum of concern for others left, and I didn’t want to disturb her sleep or her peace.
    I'd call her later.  If she was dead there weren’t no hurry.  If she was alive there wasn’t any either.  There commenced two hours of dreadful waiting.  Thems two hours I’d like to have back . . . staring at the ceiling.  And worse . . . thinking!  Thinking that some evil spirit was cursing me.  Damn!  My ass hurt from the reaming I’d been getting by good old bad luck.  Bad, bad luck! And let’s not forget hardship! Hell no!
    Finally! The folks got home.  We donned our gloves, grabbed 52 brands of cleaning supplies, and went to town. We cleaned every inch of that room!  No notebook!  My mother sent my dad to clean the rest of the basement. Places I didn’t even go to!  She had a new theory that I’d been sleep walking.  “I didn’t sleep walk mama! I turned the light off, thought of a verse, turned the light on, and it was gone!”
    My mother, totally out of ideas, well reasonable ones suggested, “Maybe Pip took it.”  Pip!  My 3 and a half pound 15 year old cat!  Was she joking?  Her face didn’t imply she was.  But every spot had been checked!  Double checked!  Quondrupledouble checked! The sonnet journal was gone. 
Over the next week I lived in a surreal world.  I tried to live the practical life. . . but that journal kept popping into my mind.  Was I really cursed?  Maybe it was that Jewish girl I used to tease so bad!  She’d moved to New Orleans!  Had she put the hoodoo on me?!  I was getting paranoid!  I spent hours going over the broads in my life and trying to figure out which one hated me the most and had a personality inclined toward witchcraft.  I visited one of my local gurus.  She had me keep something precious in my pocket (I chose a clipping of Pip’s belly fur), to immerse myself in salt water baths, and to say “return to sender” whenever I could . . . all this to send this curse back to the one that sent it.  I did them.
    Things seemed to get better . . . I started to slip into a normal routine. The girl was not dead. Life went on. I started a new set of sonnets called “Who stole my sonnets!?”  All sonnets about broads that had good reason to put the hex on me!
    Things settled.  I concentrated on school.  Then . . . about 2 months later . . . I woke up . . . sitting on the floor . . . three feet from the side of the bed I sleep on . . . yeah . . . you guessed it!  The sonnet journal!

This piece is a part of Fishspit's ongoing project Wiseblood.  Learn more about the author and the project at WeMakeZines.

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by Harrison Parks

she wears black tees emblazoned with slogans--
'lie down i think i love you,' and other
callings for our lips to tease and play-- 
coy expressions; one is a challenge to hurry up &

get in her past. bright minds like hers inevitably
burn through people to find truth in flame.
gladly, i am kindling for her fire's mise en place.
no regrets--save that we don't trick ourselves

as many can to prolong it. though i am no
stranger to cynics, somehow i cannot yet
relegate her and me to that quick inferno;
we burn through a city; through sister cities;

fuck, we consume nations.

all the tricks one needs to be led to
paradise are in her repertoire. it has been a day
or two and she already is a second sight.
unlike most, she masters every sense.

we both need little affirmation. obviously,
this time-frame speaks to foolishness but
instinct quickly knows where it ought,
needs to be led. forces of nature fall into place

without dawdling. the words marked here
i can postpone so she won't know of them
until marks of time or bruises she leaves ebb
away fear. we incubate. soon is soon enough.

soon is eternally far away; soon is the future
that has become our muse. we are consumed by soon
and burn sacrifices from her admirers; though i am
her chief admirer and i shall always burn brighter.

someday, men may topple her monuments.
these words remain eternal.

Read more from Harrison in his ongoing project The Banter Ship

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by Raquel Wasserman

     Jung says we all have a feminine half and until you share it, you’re not really you.  Toby liked girls. He had a line-up of chicks over the phone, on afternoons at the pizza shop, and in class.  He would poke around his mother's closet for high heels from the 70’s, sinking into them with sensual ecstasy. Then he’d flip through her beaten up Cosmo's, tracing the sexed up pages of Janice Dickinson gingerly.
      This tranny nonsense just wasn't done in Clark, his small Nevada town amid the grand arid desert of America. Maybe it was a dryness that extended to the simple people who lived there. The boys he knew were brawny and virile animals. They beat him up, and often. He was the Pretty Boy.

      He knew he was not gay -- not at all. He loved girls. Their world, after all, was the world he wanted to be a part of. When they gossiped at the bus, he felt a longing in his deep heart. Maybe the problem was his connection with girls was too tight, too personal. He knew their souls like the back of his hands.
      He knew what they wanted: to be pretty, to be popular, to make varsity, to date the cool guys. And he had even chosen a girl to date: Stephanie Koupos, who sat in front of him in Biology class.
      Stephanie was an upper-middle-class girl who smelled of patchouli, and wanted to go to school at Brandeis. He had a hopeless crush on her and her gorgeous kinks of Greek hair. She had a big bosom under her creamy sweaters, which to him exemplified all that was feminine.
      She was a very smart, competent girl. But he was a young man, and he loved dresses, and Nevada didn't cut it. He had a big poster on his wall of the only place he knew he could survive. New York.

And from the minute he went there, it was his town.

     At eighteen he ran away from his violent stepfather, who would not deal with his rebellion. He had his whole trashy/ classy vamp look down by now. A long black satin dress with red Jimmy Choos. Powdered face, china white, with a smoky Bardot eye and nude lip gloss. And he bought a stunning wig from an Orthodox store in Williamsburg.

      He tried a dozen shades, from blonde to red or nut brown. But his favorite was a black wig by Fosse. It cost over 200 dollars. Straight across his shoulder with bangs. He loved black.
It opened every door. It was so beautiful that the bus drivers would ask him out on dates. Then he would open his mouth, and they would hear his low voice and grow pale with Republican fury. He got kicked out of a lot of places for his real voice.

     He changed his last name to Fatone. He liked the sound of Fatone. It sounded like a wonderful gangster with a dame in the back room. All the other drag queens thought he looked like Ava Gardner, when she did that cult movie The Killers. He was eighteen and new, and they showed him all the stores and clubs.

     He met a blonde model, named Vega. She was his new dearest friend. She was lovely, from Missouri. He would brush the knots out of her hair as they discussed makeup. She was climbing to the top of fashion, no sweat, until she met him. He destroyed her career. Her addiction to drugs took her down. He had taught her this. He felt a little guilty.

     He had another bad habit. He liked to tease straight guys. He would get them to buy him a drink. He would get presents, rings, dresses, lingerie, whatever. And then he would unceremoniously drop the guy. It worked out perfectly.
     He realized that city life was changing him.
     He was becoming evil.

     He was becoming hard and tough and unsentimental. There was a Frank O'Hara poem, about the wonderful aspect of cruelty. He got that now. The coldness as comfort.

      One night, he came home late from a club at three AM and his makeup was dripping off. A man on the street had tried to punch his lights out. He wasn't in the best mood.
      “Queer!” the punk had screamed and grabbed onto Toby's Fosse wig and ripped, “Go back home!”
      Did he have a home, he wondered? Where was his soul really going to? If he couldn't blend in New York, where could he blend? This feminine half, this masculine half, where were they going to?
      He’d staggered into a deli for a bagel. His expensive wig was off, and two teenage girls from Brooklyn fawned over him at the counter.

     He went before his mirror. Removed his base, his false eyelashes, the Chanel gloss. And with his face bare, it struck him that he was a very handsome man. He looked like the kind of guy to be a lawyer or doctor or something. He looked very staid. He should have a wife and kids by now. But he didn't. He was in transit. He was like New York itself, the beautiful secret that looks like a Swarovski necklace but which is actually a snake.

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