Welcome, Fellow Gnerds!

A gnerd [pronounced, "NER-dh"] is a noun.
It is used to name someone who both reads Asimov and can fix a computer virus.

We know every line from Dr. Horrible and the subplots
and backplots of Who.

We lurk around bookshelves.

We listen to Josh Groban and Chameleon Circuit.

We are every Judith, Max and Russell.

We congregate conventions.

We are the next generation.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Short Story: Diner

Hannah Rounds

The cold metal of the diner door handle felt good beneath Lorna’s hand. It had been hot in her car, because of the busted heater she didn’t dare take to a mechanic and risk something else breaking right afterward. The frigid air escaping from Ray’s Diner steadied her, and her long dark lashes tickled the tops of her cheeks as she pondered the feeling, wondering exactly what it was about the coolness of greasy spoons that was appealing.
“One, two, three.” With each word, she opened and shut the heavy hinged door, the muscles in her arm tensing as she did so. Shadows crunched in the darkness to her right, and the monsters in her head clamored to be the source of the fright. Panic swooped over Lorna like the wraiths in stories her mother read her when she was a child, and she whirled around wildly, preparing to run away.
A woman leaned against the faintly glowing sign advertising “Children under 5 eat free,” her hefty frame blocking half the message, so that it simply read, “Eat free.”
Lorna stopped in her tracks, eyes wide, heart pumping, silently counting the beats, tapping her index finger on her thigh in rhythm. 
The two women appraised each other, one searching for a dominance frequently denied her and the other willing herself to simply maintain eye contact. Seizing authority, the hefty woman groaned her weight forward, throwing her face into the light reaching out feebly from the dirty diner windows. 
“Well ‘re ya goin in er not?” she growled, her voice like gravel in a blender. Her face matched the harshness of her voice so perfectly it was almost as though she had been this age her entire life. Age had etched rough markings all over the canvas of skin, grizzled gray hair was pulled up into a bun, failing to hide the bare patches of flaking scalp bursting through. 
A lit cigarette hung carelessly in her mouth, as if remaining there of it’s own accord, the sagging skin around her mouth, puckered by time and slackened by habit, doing nothing to hold it steady. Her knee-length, aged brown dress stretched over wide stomach and hips, unforgiving of the extra weight she now carried since she had bought it a number of decades ago. 
Lorna, still tapping out her heartbeats, became aware that she was staring. She swallowed-One-two-three-and struggled to remember the question. “Do you know if they serve waffles here?” she blurted instead.
What was left of the woman’s eyebrows raised. “My husband serves waffles if ya aks fer ‘em. Ray is my husband. This here his diner.” Something like pride underlined those words. “Don’t get many cust’mers at this hour, mos’ people git here ‘round six.” She took a drag of her cigarette, moving suddenly, as if she had just remembered she was smoking.
Lorna nodded, not knowing what to say or why the woman was still staring at her like she expected an answer. She moved to go inside. When her hand touched the door, gravel spun in the blender again. “Name’s Gretchen.” 
Lorna winced. Gretchen. Gretchen. Gretchen. An old name, like her own. An introduction was necessary. She was bad at these. “Lorna,” she managed.
Gretchen leaned forward. “Laura? Pretty name.” She followed Lorna indoors, her orthopedic shoes squeaking on the faded linoleum.
“No, no, it’s Lorna. Lor-na. Lorna.” One-two-three
Gretchen nodded without hearing and gestured to the tables. “Pick a seat. I’ll be back.” She shuffled to the counter, and banged a meaty fist down. 
Lorna looked down and picked at her cuticles, resisting the urge to leap up and hit the bell two more times. Nothing happened. Gretchen hit the bell again. 
Lorna held her breath, cuticles forgotten. “Fork-spoon-knife one-two-three salt pepper sugar one-two-three,” she recited without thinking. 
Gretchen abandoned the bell and went a more direct route, sticking her head through a small ordering window and yelling. “Ray! Cust’mer!” An avalanche echoed in the empty space, the rocks falling and fading as a man appeared from the back. 
Lorna assumed he was Ray, if only because he was wearing a chef’s hat and seemed to be the only other person in the place. His head was massive, covered with sheets of silver hair that he had harnessed in a ponytail. 
His face was tan and worn, with laugh lines in abundance. In contrast, his chin was pale, dusted with a sheen of red and speckled with spots of shaving cream, suggesting he had been interrupted in the middle of shaving off a beard. Where age had been cruel to his wife, it seemed to have done nothing more than slap him on the wrist. 
Ray glanced over at Lorna, and if he was at all surprised at the appearance of a customer, his face didn’t show it. He leaned his angular body down, resting his elbows on the ordering window’s ledge. 
“Morning,” his deep voice resonated in her direction like far-away thunder, before he turned his head towards Gretchen and began talking in low tones.
Lorna smiled faintly. She remembered the story of Beauty and the Beast. If any couple personified that tale, it was Gretchen and Ray.
The voice that narrated her thoughts spoke up now. Those fairy tales aren’t real. Your mother lied to you. Disney made you believe in a perfect life. You know the real fairy tales, the ones full of blood and lies, murder and rape, betrayal and false endings. What happens after you stop reading the story? Where do the characters go?
Immediately Lorna felt the dirt under her fingernails, the germs climbing over her hands, and knew what came next. Eyeing Gretchen, who was now preoccupied with putting out a small fire she had apparently caused by dropping the cigarette near flammable, Lorna slid out of her booth and made a bee-line to the restroom advertised in ugly yellow letters that looked like a dog had marked it’s spot. 
Open the door. One-two-three. In. 
Lock the door. One-two-three. Breath. 
The water from the sink was cold, and the soap was the syrupy pink kind that came from a dispenser. She lathered her hands, washing once, twice, three times. Three. Clean.
She ripped three paper towels from the roll on the rack and realized how big of a cliche she was. Sitting at Ray’s Diner, if you can believe that name, at 4:15 on a Tuesday morning. Alone. She couldn’t remember the last time she was out at this hour.
She shouldn’t be out. She should go home. Gritting her teeth and thinking of the delicious waffle that awaited her, she silenced her fears and walked determinedly back to her table.
Gravel crunched near her ear. “Eggs n’ bacon fer ya. Ray’s makin’ yer waffle special.” Gretchen set a plate and mug down quickly and moved back behind the counter, turning away from Lorna and mumbling, “mos’ people git here around six.”
Lorna picked up her fork. There were three bacon strips, which she organized in a row, and two eggs, over-easy. The eggs were cold, but the plate was too hot, as if trying to compensate for Ray’s apathy. Feeling like Goldilocks, Lorna ate the bacon and left the eggs, two unseeing eyes on an otherwise empty plate.
The voice in her head trilled, “A chicken’s menstrual cycle.” She swallowed, shook her head again, and pulled the mug towards her. Steam from what appeared to be coffee rose over the edge to greet her, and, preferring the smell over taste, she breathed it in. 
Gretchen appeared again. This time, she put the plate down without a word and walked away. Lorna noticed Ray observing her discreetly through the window, hovering over an unwashed dish he was pretending to dry off, a friendly smile on his face. Lorna knew that smile. He was lonely. They both were probably lonely. It was the only reason she could think of why they would be open 24 hours if they didn’t get many customers at night.
Lorna took in the waffle, looking for any obvious signs of tampering or poison out of habit, but everything seemed to be in place. She counted the dollops of butter Ray had dropped onto the deliciously warm dish. One-two-three. It was perfect.
As she ate, she reflected on just exactly how she had ended up here.
It was not unusual for Lorna to find herself awake in the early morning, but the idea of an excursion was insanity. Her town of 218 people was an anomaly at that hour, one that she had no desire to discover or adapt to at all. Mostly, her mornings were spent in battle. Lorna would go room to room, armed with Pledge and windex and her trusty swiffer vacuum, fighting the corruption of dirt and grime and dust that she knew had infiltrated her sanitary sanctuary, however invisible they were. 
But this morning was different. This morning she had woken up with an inexplicable craving for a waffle. Maybe it was the new dosage of Anafranil she was taking. Maybe it was the weed she had smoked earlier. 
Either way, she had found herself driving to this place, Ray’s, where children under 5 eat free, the epitome of the dinkiest of diners. But it was a 24-hour diner, and that settled that. 
Even if she was alone. Alone. Not alone. Gretchen and Ray. Gretchen-Lorna-Ray. One-two-three.
Not alone, but still lonely. A lonely figure, with fairy tales and voices and habits for company. And as the last lonely bite of a perfect waffle disappeared into Lorna’s mouth, she was surprised to find out that she was crying just a little. One tear fell out of her eyes. Another one joined it on the other cheek. She waited for a third, but it never came. Lorna didn’t care.

Today Is: Johnny Appleseed Day. Have YOU celebrated properly?
Song of the Day: "Toothbrush" by Wax
Lesson Learned: I take toilet paper for granted.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eighteen Years.

    As I type these words, I turn eighteen, and the first thought in my head is, "What a wonderful world." Wow. I think those words might just have some meaning, or great meaning, to my life while  grow up. I'm not a kid anymore, but then again, I never really was. I have to start making better decisions, realizing consequences, and most importantly finding myself and learning who I am and what I stand for.
    I look forward to the rest of that journey as I take my first steps of adulthood to my room and into my bed where I shall promptly turn into a college-aged person who sleeps until noon and is still tired upon waking, and I will maybe dream my first waking nightmare with all the untouched Tickle-Me-Elmos and Tilt-a-Whirls of my childhood. I don't really know what I'm typing right now, I'm in a sort of blissful trancelike state and, far from feeling high, I feel alive.
    I feel alive in this wonderful world, and I see every color, every branch, every leaf and every blossom more clearly now than I see them in the memories of my childhood. And, with more conviction than ever, I think to myself what a wonderful world God has created.
    I have the best friends, and I wouldn't be the person who I am today without all of you [even you, Hanna. Even you] and even though I hurt sometimes, I wouldn't change a thing. Well, three thing. I would change three things, but thats it. Thank you for sharing my life with me. I love you guys.

    Today Is: Mine and Eric Kripke's birthday.
    Word of the Day: "Invincible"
    Lesson Learned:
        No matter how old you are, you are never too old to A.] Watch fireworks, B.] Be scared of police, and C.] shoot lasers at little kids and laugh like a maniac when you hit them and WIN THIRD PLACE!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

For Earth Day...

Today, I spent way more time than necessary looking at CollegeHumor videos [they can be found at collegehumor.com, and on their youtube channel www.youtube.com/collegehumor. I like their old ones better]. Anyways, I found this video, and I almost pooped I was laughing so hard.
[I'm trying to get used to embedding things, so if this doesn't work like it's supposed to, sorry].

Today Is: National Jellybean Day-how do you celebrate?
Word of the Day: "Farfel"
Lesson Learned:
I am three years old.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

List #13

Top Ten Things I Wish I Were Doing Right Now

10. Cleaning my room- How pitiful is that, I actually want to be cleaning my room. I think it is now safe to say that I am officially a slob. I don't want to get out of bed, so instead I'm surveying my room and picturing what it would look like if it were clean. Thats how low I've sunk.
9. Catching fireflies- I'm so impatient for the fireflies to get here. I'm ready, I got my Mason jar, come on you flying winking basterds, get out here and let me chase you!
8. Being successful- Maybe if I was being productive in my life, and not just sitting around watching episodes of Peep Show and procrastinating, I'd feel like a contributing member of society and not just a lazy lug. I've always wanted to be called that. A lazy lug. Such a nice mental image. Very lenient.
7. Driving- I like driving. Its peaceful. Lonely. Sometimes lonely is good, like the lonely I get when I drive. It's like, being myself.
6. Matt Smith- Yes. Yes I mean sex. The man gives me the shivers. He's not even sexually attractive, and I like to think of myself as an asexual being, but when I turn on the TV and watch Matt Smith hold off the Dalek destruction of the world by bluffing with a Jammy Dodger, I just want to rip a pillow [that may very well be a euphemism].
4. Making it rain somewhere- I wish I had a.] the courage, b.] the funds, and c.] the ability to make it rain. Whether it be with money or atmospheric pressure, I don't care. Either would be cool.
3. Hiking the Swiss Alps with James Dean- That may be code for "dreaming."
2. Sitting in on a blood parasite support group- It's a Jack's Raging Bile Duct kind of day. My power animal is a flipping seal.
1. Graffitiing the United Nations building- I feel like rebelling against government. I feel like expressing my political views from the perspective of an aerosol paint can. I feel like doing damage to a monument. I feel like throwing up.

    Today Is: Nothing Like A Dame Day
    Word of the Day: "Permeable"
    Lesson Learned:
        How to jump start a car [hint: you can't do it by yourself]

Friday, April 9, 2010

List #12

Top Ten Reasons Why Gus Is the Best, Most Relaxed Dog I Know.

10. For the most part of tonight, he was sitting in the basement. Alone. By himself. I couldn't coax him up. Because he knew what he wanted to do. He knew where he wanted to be. And all of my pleading and tempting could do nothing to hurry him up. He just came up five minutes ago, because he was ready.
9. I'm sitting here, petting him, and he's just staring at me. I love it. He's giving me full reign on the petting scale. My own dogs would be rolling around, moving their heads, trying to subtly tell me where to pet/scratch them. Not Gus. He's just letting me do my thing, smiling all the while.
8. He is my grandparents' dog, so I get the bonus of seeing him in all of his cuteness and none of his angst. Much like small children.
7. He's old. I love it, but at the same time, whenever I think about him being old and hurting, I get a funny pain in my abdomen. Like I can feel him wincing when he walks up the stairs. Its the mothering feeling I get, where I just want to make sure he is as comfortable as he can be and I'm always moving stuff so as to make it easier for him.
6. His ears are soft as fuzz. They're delightful-OH! He just laid his head on my lap. Bonus points Gus. Bonus points. How cute is that? How flipping cute!
5. His name is Gus- It pretty much doesn't get any better than that.
4. I actually remember trying to name him. And my grandpa, because we were young, kept suggesting the name *insert the sound of a raspberry without pressing your face on a baby's tummy here*. We as children thought it was hilarious. I still do.
3. Sleeping in my Nana's old house, it was always comforting knowing that Gus was sitting right outside the door. Not that I was ever frightened, but if I ever was, I knew Gus was there, and dogs as a rule are protective animals.
2. Something about a dog's inability to jump up onto a couch makes you love them. I just relocated my comfortable position on the couch to the floor for him, to accommodate him, to make it easier access for him to lick me, because I knew he would want to. That is love, people. That right there.
1. And that right there is why he is the best and most relaxed dog. Because I love him. End of story.

    Today Is: National Cherish An Antique Day and Winston Churchill Day.
    Word of The Day: "gripe"
    Lesson Learned:
        Matt Smith can never replace David Tennant. But he can try and it will not count against him.