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I wanna write.....
      but Judy, from my fiction writing class, just sold HER story for $25,000.

I wanna sing.....
      but Kaylene has more confidence and drive, so I feel like I haven't earned the right to even try. I mean, if I don't have the passion she has, am I really going to do it? And if I'm going to, when? I'm so doubting. 'Specially since I feel like I'd be copying her. DAMMIT!

I wanna paint.....
      but no one seems to think I'm any good but me, and I don't respect my own opinion that much.

      I always daydreamed about living in a dorm with my girls, and that ain't gonna happen. Oh well, Del's in FL, Rebecca isn't even in college yet, and Kaylene isn't going right now. And elya would be fun but sweet. I like fiesty. I mean, I like sweet too... but if I'm going to REALLY share my life with someone, they gotta be fiesty for us to get along.

I'm so glad I started this LJ. I feel so much more in touch with Del; like we have a relationship again, rather than just a love stretched transluscent by distance. And Del's such an awesome person. OH YEAH! I remember. I was plannin' on starting to write the descriptions about everyone... and I was gonna start with Del. Well, I might do it tonight and I might do it later, but I'm gonna go have coffee and write the list of things to include in my descriptions (I'm such a C -- and working at JoAnn's has made me even more so, 'cause basically I get paid to put stuff where it goes all day. It bothers me a little that I have no real responsibility though; I feel wasted).

      What descriptions, you may ask? Well, I am creating a scrapbook of all the people important to me. The ones who influence me most get their own pages. (heh, my spiritual parents get their own page, while the six who actually tried to parent me share a page) And it's fun, collecting papers and stickers and little stuff that explains each person. When I'm finished, it will be prominantly displayed in my living space, wherever that may be. I think you learn most about a person from what kind of music they like, and second most by what people are important to them. YAY!

feelings: artistic
sounds: not my computer, so I nearlynever lug music down here....

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jedibubbles ══╣╠══
Del feels special! And just do whatever you feel like doing, hon...if I had to feel like I was unique or the most driven or the best at drawing to do it I would be studying to be an astronaut right now, not an animator.
karmia ══╣╠══
Now, call me shallow, but I'm intrigued by this sale. Was it a novel or a short story? And who bought it?


Hugs for Kristen!

belenen ══╣╠══
so you're gonna "make up for it" by hugging me, eh? Well, okay.
It was a short story, I'm gonna email her and see if she'll email it to me -- if so I'll post it in this thread.
belenen ══╣╠══
Judy Hale
Ms. #3
13 November 2003

Skin of a Tiger

My American name Tammy; my Vietnamese name Ha…pronounce like “ha, ha, ha.” I am twenty-three years old and come to Marietta, Georgia three year now to work as nail technician at Buddhaful Salon. In Vietnam I be old maid now; in America I ripe, young girl ready for hot time in Buckhead bars.
Six month now I am American citizen. Change my life for everything. American girl must have career plan. I take courses at Kennesaw State University to be nurse someday. Regents test make head hurt. I on third time take now but have American boy tutor who think I smart, just maybe have language troubles. He say, “Cody take you to Buckhead bars when you pass test.” I hope Cody not dead by then.
I keep head down, study hard, work thirty hour, maybe more, each week at Buddhaful Salon. Everything go okay until American woman name Gretchen come to salon. Go on two year now. She middle age in Vietnamese years. Forty maybe. Every week same thing. Mrs. American important come ten minute past appointment for Buddhaful Salon owner, Michael (Vietnamese name Loc), to do fill-in on acrylic nail. She come in salon like famous movie star walk on red carpet. She wear big sunglasses, clothes all perfect—not from outlet—and tall, tall high heel that make Vietnamese girl feel like midget.
Show begin. Gretchen only eyes for Michael. She swing long, blonde hair over his hands and arms and Michael many times move it like it sacred Buddha hair but Buddha bald, of course. Then she whisper to Michael and they both lean back chair and laugh like Michael can understand American joke. Gretchen say few weeks before, “Michael, why can’t ghosts have babies?” He say not know. She say, “Because they have hollow weenies.” Michael think this hysterical and laugh and repeat “hollow weenies” and laugh more for whole time she there. Me, Kelly, Kim not think funny. Michael pudgy, idiot owner who only know to count and make change in American dollar. He also say in good English, “Be finish five minute, pick out color, go wash up, cash or check, thank you, see you next week.” Hollow weenies he not know.
One time each month I paint wide, fat toes for Mrs. American Important. She put feet up for massage and point knees wide apart like gynecologist keep asking for better look. Sometime she wear short skirt and I try cover up private part with towel. She toss on floor laugh and say in Southern accent, “Oh, honey. I’m not a prude. Maybe I’ll cause a wreck out in the parking lot.” I work fast and keep ear open for sound of tire screech and glass break behind me. Miss Gretchen remind me of shop whore in window Saigon. But she not want money, just lookie-lookie. American woman funny that way. I hear talk they not give to husband but share with everybody else. In Vietnam, wife always honor husband wish. Work better. No divorce.
Miss Gretchen always talk about important husband job. He attorney and work on big case against big company. She say it American way to be “compensated” when accident happen like spill hot coffee on weenie. (Finally, I get joke.) The way Gretchen tell it McDonalds, UPS, Pacific Georgia, and Home Depot all guilty of something. I worry that Buddhaful Salon guilty something. Gretchen laugh and say we are “small potatoes.” No American attorney interested in little salon run by Vietnamese. I wonder if when shave dead skin off feet, make boo boo with razor, see bloody water if she change tune. Potato grow big when it come to carved feet of wife American attorney.
Many American women come and go from salon. Only this Gretchen woman drive me so crazy. Maybe I don’t like because she bad tipper. She give Michael flirt many green one dollars. Me? I am for fifty cents. What that buy in America? One-half coke, small pack gum, toll to get Buckhead bars. Big deal.
belenen ══╣╠══
Mrs. American Important always use tanning bed in back of salon before big trip to Vail, Cançun, Bahamas. No place she not been maybe for Vietnam. Funny. She complain about Latinos do that, she not like blacks do that, but she want be brown like them. I know it make her mad when I say, “Miss Gretchen you turn brown skin like me.” She say, “But mine goes away, dear.” “Yes,” I grin. “Tammy not need pay lay on hot bed get pretty tan. Just born on skin. For me last all long year.” Michael look at me dirty. I know when time shut mouth. Be quiet come more natural Vietnamese woman than American woman.
One day Miss Gretchen run in salon on not nail day. She look nice I not want say. Pretty sundress, hair up neat, fat toes perfect painted in gold sandal. “Michael,” she whine, “Stewart and I are getting on a plane in two hours for Balise. My babysitter fell through. It’s only for three days. Can any of the girls come over and stay with Scarlet Rose and Duncan Donald?” I dive behind booth—look busy. Michael say, “Tammy know you. She speak English good. She go to your house do good job with babies.” Gretchen say, “Oh, Scarlet Rose and Duncan Donald practically take care of themselves. They’re thirteen and fourteen—practically adults. Tammy, don’t you go to school or something? My kids can help you with your English. Why Duke University is practically begging Duncan to enroll in its summer writing workshop for gifted adolescents. It’s settled. Here’s the key. We pay thirty dollars a day. I know that seems over the top, but we believe in compensating the help well. Our numbers and directions for feeding Lyddie Gator are on the kitchen counter. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Michael.” Gretchen fake kiss hand palm and blow in direction of Michael. He grin big, so happy help Mrs. American Important. I think he get bad blow job. Maybe no such thing.

At Gretchen house look like picture in magazine. Kitchen so clean I think how she cook and not drop crumb or make drip on stove? No direction on counter like promise. Only card for pizza man to door and Like New Carpet Cleaner. So quiet I hear clock tick, tick. I take shoe off walk carefully on fluffy, white carpet look for kids. I must wake big, sleeping pony on sofa. I scared animals but he get off furniture, yawn, stretch until black spots all meet on body. Then he squat and pee on white carpet. Show no respect for property.
“That’s Lyddie Gator,” say maybe Scarlet Rose who scare me almost death. “She wizzes on the carpet all the time. Just call Like New Carpet Cleaner. My dad says we keep them in business. Who are you?”
“Tammy Hong. Babysitter.”
“Oh yeah. Mom said you would have a bad haircut and talk funny. You’re supposed to stay in Dad’s room. Mom doesn’t want you messing up her sheets.”
“Miss Gretchen and Mr. Gretchen sleep two room?”
“Well, duh, they’re married. Consider the gross alternative.”
“Where brother now?”
Duncan Doughnut is barricaded in his room playing Midnight Club 2. He has a stash of drugs, Snickerdoodles, Dad’s dirty magazines, and possibly a gun. You will not see him the entire time you’re here. Well…he does come out at night sometimes. Lock your door. I’m off to experiment with Mom’s make-up.”
She look down at yellow stain. “Oh, and you better call the carpet cleaners. Mom has maxed out her Visa and can’t redecorate for another six months. Stuff like this makes her eat Paxil like potato chips. Save us the drama, Tammy Dong.”
“That Hong,” I yell her, but she leave and I read back of T-shirt say “Porn Queen.” Explain everything.
I call carpet man and pizza man. I take Lyddie Gator outside for pee pee each fifteen minute. She squat regular now and get pepperoni each time wiz on grass. No sign Duncan Doughnut. I hear music or TV sometime so I think he still live.
Scarlet Rose appear again no warning. Her lip and some teeth painted red. Blue and white eye shadow make stripe to eyebrow. Sparkle—like tiny star—on cheek. Bring tear to Tammy Hong. Scarlet Rose patriotic.
belenen ══╣╠══
“That is totally not the look I was going for,” she say when I mention flag. “Come upstairs and help me wash this junk off. Then you can earn your keep by giving me a manicure and pedicure.”
“Nut not fall far from tree,” I think.
In Miss Gretchen room make-up messy everywhere. I start clean-up, but Scarlet Rose want show me toy by bed.
“Check this out, Tammy Dong.”
I swear on Buddha belly this true. Large, unicorn man-thing dance up-down, and pulse like heart on table. Scarlet Rose say, “This is Dancing Dog—man’s best friend when it comes to being married to my Mom.”
I horror to understand truth. Mr. Gretchen is hollow weenie. He lose weenie when hot McDonald coffee spill on pant zipper. He attorney, so sue for big money. Now he and Miss Gretchen rich, but no nookie-nookie. Sleep two room. Miss Gretchen pay attention more Dancing Dog than Lyddie Gator. That why one train; one not.
Dancing Dog stop jiggle and go back drawer. Show over. Time for salon girl earn keep.
Scarlet Rose like be pampered. I massage feet, clip cuticle, buff toes, paint nails. She pick polish color call Scarlet Roses. Ugly color, but she like—say name after her. I tell her name mean everything in Vietnam. She say, “I hate my name. My colors clash.” I explain Scarlet mean “cheerful” in Vietnamese and any part of name after flower an honor. “It believe that best thing man leave to world his name and reputation. A Vietnamese proverb say, ‘After death, a tiger leaves behind his skin, a man his reputation.’ ”
Scarlet say, “Duncan Doughnut is going to leave behind a lot of skin and, at this rate, very little that’s redeeming about his reputation. I think there’s still hope for me. She fiddle with polish bottle for a moment, then jump up and say, “Omigosh. You’re perfect! I have to write a paper on another culture and interview a SME—oh, that’s subject matter expert.” She run to get notebook. “Okay, Tammy Dong, give me the info on what it’s like to be Vietnamese.”
“Not Dong. Hong,” I correct her time two. “In Vietnamese last name first. My Vietnamese name is Hong Ha Nguyet. Ha Nguyet mean ‘of the moon.’ American think young people most important. In Vietnam we respect ancestor and elder. They live long time, have most wisdom. Family stay close always. No “me” this and “me” that. One must put family first before self. It important never humiliate family by do bad thing. Whole family suffer and lose position community. We not friendly as American. We not say ‘hi, Susie,’ who work Publix deli, ‘hi doggie,’ ‘hi’ person not know. Not show respect. We taught think first, speak later. No big action, no big speech. Vietnamese quiet more, bow head, show respect, have grace in movement. We also eat little, drink little. Show harmony; take care self. Dignity important to Vietnamese.” I look Scarlet Rose. She sleep. I whisper, “We also place great value learn and educate.” She not hear me.

I happy be back Buddhaful Salon. Never see Duncan Donald at Miss Gretchen. Smell him sometime. Not yet see babysit money. Miss Gretchen promise pay me next appointment. She come in regular time Friday, ten minute late. She look different. Hair in ponytail, skin red spots, no make-up, wear flip-flop, old, gray sweatshirt, black sweat pant. Miss Gretchen not want pedicure. She whisper Michael and cry sometime. Me, Kelly, Kim no gossip. Stay quiet like teeny mouse. Me? I know problem. I see Dancing Dog. I take care Scarlet Rose, Lyddie Gator. I smell Duncan Donald who live like prisoner in own home. Things not good at Miss Gretchen house. Not enough money fix problem in family have no respect.
Three week of same. One day, Miss Gretchen leave after only one hand painted. Cry loud. Shake body. Need hanky. Michael walk car with her and stay long time talk and hug. When come back to salon gather girl to “employee only” closet. He say, “Miss Gretchen attorney husband leave. No money, no credit card her name. No attorney want handle her divorce. Say husband too important. Must show respect for him. Miss Gretchen broke, need job. I hire do pedicure at Buddhaful Salon. She go beauty school get license. Need much practice.
belenen ══╣╠══
You three girl help Miss Gretchen learn do nice pedicure.” Then he big smile, “First American I hire. Important day.”
Kelly, Kim, me gossip when Michael leave. What he think hire Mrs. America now unimportant? This Vietnamese salon. Small potato. Not require meet EOE guideline. She no experience. She leave salon soon divorce final. Big mistake Michael fall American flirt. Show no respect.
It no wonder American job go oversea. Can see problem if watch Miss Gretchen do nail. No delicate hand. No skill with craft. She not fine, delicate finger to fast work, be neat, and paint pretty first time. Mrs. American unimportant cut cuticle like trim hedge, glob polish thick—take two hour dry. Customer say, “Ow,” “ouch,” “that hurt,” “what in God name you do down there?”
In two week, she have just one customer seem like her. On Wednesday senior citizen van from Home Away from Home drop off ladies. Mrs. Kleinschmidt have one leg, one foot. Make Miss Gretchen seem fast with just five toe. Mrs. Kleinschmidt dangle foot in water, fold hand over big belly, fall asleep, snore loud. I notice Miss Gretchen use strange foot bath pan. I ask her, “Where that from?”
“It’s actually a stainless steel bed pan from home,” say Miss Gretchen. “I’m raising the cleanliness standards at Buddhaful Salon. God only knows what bacteria and vermin are trapped in those rubber tubs you use.”
I not explain safety issue. Mrs. American Unimportant not allow use power tools. Hope never see day.
I work on pedicure next booth when I hear Miss Gretchen wake up Mrs. Kleinschmidt ask about wart on heel foot. Mrs. Kleinschmidt probably not see heel foot for twenty year. Miss Gretchen say, “I can’t quite get it with the razor, but I think it’s important to remove it so it doesn’t spread.”
“Now she doctor,” I think. I start laugh then I hear whrrrr of drill. I slow motion react and begin think water…steel…drill…electricity. I run to outlet and watch as Miss Gretchen do worst thing. She bend down over water, pick fat heel up, look under foot see wart, dip elbow in water while hold drill. First electric shock make her lose grip drill and so smart Mrs. America Unimportant do thing change life forever. She drop drill in water and, same time, let Mrs. Kleinschmidt one foot fall water while reach for drill. Happen so fast. I hear sizzle, see smoke, and Mrs. Kleinschmidt arms and only foot pull up; look like frying chicken poultry section. She all black, burn crisp. Miss Gretchen face down in water, blonde hair stream like seaweed in pan. But no bacteria, no vermin. I pull plug. Too late.
American women in salon scream. Michael not talk, just stare at horror. I hear siren in background. Police come now. Confusion everywhere. People run in, run out, do nothing. I know this end of Buddhaful Salon. Last day job here. I go my booth quiet, get purse, walk to door. After all, Tammy Hong America citizen now. Not want get involved. Maybe find job Buckhead. Hear tip bigger. Maybe get Hope Scholarship (before change grade rule) and go school more hour. This what must mean patriotic when say, “Land of opportunity.” I start like be American girl.
On way out I put quarter in Buddha mouth and say short prayer for Miss Gretchen and Mrs. Kleinschmidt. Then I think poor Scarlet Rose, Duncan Donald, Lyddie Gator have no mommy. What do? I go back, sit at booth, wait police. I will stay Miss Gretchen house if need me. Must not think of own self now. More important honor name Hong Ha Nguyet.
American citizen Tammy Hong discover a tiger may shed its skin, but it cannot change its stripes.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.