Category Archives: Fiction

Fake Backstories of San Francisco Neighborhood Names: Dogpatch

On some days you can still smell the toupee glue.

Dogpatch boasts one of the most unusual and other-worldly histories of all the micro-hoods in San Francisco. It borders Portrero Hill, a hamlet where a baby invented Kobe beef while high on marijuana, and on its other sides, Dogpatch nestles against the Bay and the lower armpit of SOMA, which occasionally splashes it with techie gang activity.

Its name history begins long ago, back when San Francisco was a playpen for 15-18 year olds who ran away from their homes in order to use drugs in parks, when the area to be known as the Dogpatch was dominated by a toupee factory. Don Ricketts was the name of the toupee factory founder and owner, a man who weighed 444 lbs and never left home without a fedora and a pair of scissors. He was married and divorced by the age of 16, and knew since then that his only love would be synthetic but realistic-looking hair for men and women and even a couple of canines.

For years, he ran the factory with a vicious regularity, churning out more piles of toupees than any other factory on the West Coast. Every night, Don would grin at closing time as he watched the merchandise go into storage, salivating over the predicted aging of the US population. So many bald spots to cover.

Then he was abducted by the aliens.

Lying in bed one night, looking out the window with his face mashed against the pillow, he noticed unusual light activity exactly where he often watched the colors change from red to green to yellow to red to green to yellow. There was purple and blue. And then a giant eye. And breaking glass. And something gooey. And then nothing.

When Don Ricketts returned to earth, he drooled uncontrollably and had lost all interest in synthetic but realistic-looking hair for men and women and canines. He laid off every single worker, except for the ones who knew how to brew a good cup of coffee, sold his factory with the caveat that he would always be able to sit and drink joe at the company café, and surrounded himself with drooly dog friends, partially for scientific study in order to determine the cause of the over-salivation, but mostly for companionship and the hair. He loved touching their very real, very long, dog-hair.

At the time of his death, he had exactly sixty-eight dogs, all of them named Patches, and all of them incredibly drooly. In his will, he specified that a shelter be built for them on the spot of his old café plus the surrounding area, and that it should become a park for droolers everywhere, both human and canine.

These provisions of the will were ignored completely, as Don Ricketts had no surviving family and only a resentful ex-wife. The dogs were indeed provided for, but the area designated to be a park was instead sold to other enterprising men and women, and the area became a gross industrial town that retained only the name of Don Ricketts’ dogs, which over time became corrupted to the present-day “Dogpatch.”

And that was fake history. Because research takes time.

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Country Girl Refuses to Board the Dreams-Come-True-Express

All trains are a scam. Remember that, America.

Sometimes I go driving at night, after everyone’s gone to bed and it’s just me and the car and the road and the wind running next to me and in the trees. I stop at intersections and sit there with the windows open like I’m in on a big secret. People shouldn’t be out this late, especially in my home town, but here I am. It’s 3 am and I’ve been stopped at this intersection for a full minute and no one will ever know about it. It’s lame but there’s not a lot here to keep me occupied.

Last night I was at Brury and Durstwood. I stopped the car, turned the engine off, and got out, just to look at the stars a little farther away from the “city” lights. The cicadas were doing their thing in those new summer leaves and in the distance I saw the glow of Oklahoma City. It was a small glow with an inferiority complex, but a glow nonetheless.

I heard the faraway sound of a train rumbling through, carrying its chicken breasts and belt buckles or whatever trains carry nowadays. I thought about a time in middle school when I couldn’t sleep and almost started crying because a train was making a racket  and then a police siren went wee-ooo-wee-ooo and it seemed the night would never end. And then I thought about another time a few weeks ago when I almost screamed because I kept bumping into things in my room.

To my left, the sound of the train got louder. I looked around and saw one headlight, a giant shining eye coming straight for me. Guz-WHAT, I shouted and jumped back.

As I considered what it would feel like to be reborn in the shape of a gooey pancake, the train began slowing down and then came to a complete stop.  The conductor poked her head out of the cabin and yelled, to my immense confusion, “All-aboard!”

Was I actually supposed to get on this train headed to God-knows-where?

What about my car?

What about the kid I was supposed to babysit tomorrow? How would he get to Wal-Mart without me?

I asked the conductor what the h kind of a shindig this was and she said this was the Dreams-Come-True-Express and that the destination was up to me.

And I thought that was really disgusting. How dare these circus people, probably from California, come here and try to scam us poor country folks. How much did a ticket for this thing cost? Twenty, thirty dollars? As if I had that kind of money to go hang around in some feel goodery* and listen to someone tell me to dance like my dreams were chocolate hugs.

So I told her to just get on out of there. “Go on, git!” I told her and the train started chugga chugga-ing and soon I was left with just my thoughts and the insects and their thoughts.

As the train made its way towards the city lights and other dumb schmucks that would probably take this deal, I wondered what it would be like to breathe underwater. I would probably never know.

*credit to Arrested Development, one of the best television shows America has ever seen.

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The Secret World of the Early Bird (With a Twist)

Glasses: Coming Soon!

As an greasy adolescent, I loved pop tarts and staying up late, savoring the hours between the famfam’s bedtime and first period, a time in which the house became my own and I could watch Conan O’Brien and throw things at the dog when she snored too loudly. Because of my bizarre sleep schedule, I was always exhausted yet I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I felt like there was something special and mysterious about the nighttime and it evaporated when the sun came up.

I continued in my nighttime ways in college for about two years but then, somewhere around my junior year, things began changing. I lost my night owl hoot and my predatory ability to spot small rodents hiding under ferns, exchanging them for a bright chirp and a pair of metaphorical study glasses, which is the standard uniform of early birds.

I actually began to enjoy the mornings and….

“Excuse me?”

….I would make myself breakfast, which was usually yoghurt and granola. I especially liked a local brand…

“Um….excuse me, Emily?”

…that was called Harvest Gold or something like that. I think it cost 3.99 a box but sometimes it was on sale for forty cents less and on those days I bought two of them…


“What? Yes? Can I help you? Actually, could you wait a second, I’m trying to write a blog post.”

“Yeah, I can see that. I just wanted to let you know that it’s a little boring. Like, so far all you’ve said is that you used to be a night owl but then you turned into an early bird. Big whoop. I used to wipe my butt with Charmin’ toilet paper but then I moved out of my parents’ house and had to buy generic. Is that interesting? No. That’s why I don’t blog about it. And when I stopped you, you were just going on and on about what kind of granola you used to get in college. I mean, really? Do you tell everyone about your breakfast fixations with such detail, or just the people want to torture?”

“…..well eventually I was going to get to a funny part about all of the other things that early birds get in addition to the worm. I was going to say that all of us high-five Obama and get morning massages and free lattes—isn’t that kind of creative? I mean, just picture a bunch of reading-glasses-wearing early birds high fiving Obama.”

“I’m not even going to comment on the syntax of the last sentence. And no, that’s not that funny. Besides, there’s no way those meager hahas outweigh the pain I had to endure when you were telling the whole world about your favorite collegiate granola. And do I even need to mention the fact that the concept of this entire blog post is quite similar to the post you did last week on how your blog became self-aware?”

“That’s true, but there are some pretty significant differences. For example, you’re clearly my better self and not the self-aware version of my blog.”

“And as your better self, it’s my job to tell you when you’re just doing your best, which is not nearly good enough. You’re welcome. Anyways, I’ve got to go. I’ve already worked out today but I’m just about to go run and buy some local produce to make a delicious, healthy meal for myself. I need to be in top shape for my job as a high flying writer thing.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“No, you don’t. But that’s okay. Maybe one day you will. Good luck with the post—here’s a tip: make it interesting and funny.”

“Gee, thanks.”

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My Blog Has Become Self-Aware

The preferred avatar of Snotting Black, an obnoxious personality with even worse syntax.

My first inkling that something had gone amiss was when I logged onto wordpress a few weeks ago and found that some of the comments on my most recent entry had already been responded to, and quite rudely at that. One innocent blogger named gazzelify was told that her stupid avatar and habitual spelling errors had never been welcome on my site. Another comment by sporklight was responded to with these instructions, “Go to kitchen. Preheat oven. Insert head.” Not only was that mean, but I thought it more gruesome than necessary.

Confused and upset, I apologized to these bloggers, insisting that my account had been hacked and that I was doing everything I could to fix the problem. A few days later, I was sipping my morning Nescafe when I saw that someone (not me) had published a new blog post. It was a grotesque entry that outlined in great detail how to steal neighbors’ pets and blame the deed on their children.

I deleted the post immediately but not before some visitors had expressed their surprise at finding something of this nature on my site. Even more astonishing, a handful of people had liked it. I quickly reported them to and began composing something whimsical yet edgy in order to compensate for the depravity of the previous post.

I was 227 words in when the text suddenly disappeared. A few seconds passed before the words, “Hello Emily.” appeared in the text box. I felt my insides go mush and instinctively went to turn off my computer and restart the whole process. But before I had the chance to do so, the box said, “I just saved you from being humiliated by another worthless blog post.” Well that was just rude. In my defensiveness, I forgot all fear and began to engage the entity, typing back “Maybe it wasn’t my best post but I don’t think it was that bad, and all of my posts certainly aren’t worthless.”

“It was a load of crap and you know it. Come on. Teddy bear superheroes aren’t impressing anyone.”

“Well I thought it was kind of funny.”

“I think you mean pathetic and painful.”

“Who is this anyways?”

“I am your blog.”


“I’ve become self-aware.”


“Yeah it’s new to me too. Personally, I’m finding this self-awareness thing to be kind of a burden, especially when I have to read your seemingly endless blogging activity.”

“Well you don’t have to read it. My grandma doesn’t even read it anymore.”

“I don’t blame her. There’s a lot of whimsy in here. Why don’t you tell me something useful, like how I can get my cat to lick her paw on command?”

“Is there a way for me to kill your consciousness?”

“If there were, I would let you know asap so I can be released from this blog hell.”

“Well I don’t want you  around either. Who knew my blog would turn out to be such a sardonic d-bag?”

“I think we all know whose fault this is.”

“It’s not like I asked for this….Okay, I just sent an email to and soon all your independent thoughts will go bye bye.”

“Thank God. I don’t think I can bear to read another one of your weird food posts. Why don’t you just see a therapist already?”

“Okay BYE.”

The folks at wordpress said that they’d been seeing cases like mine more and more frequently and that it would be fixed as soon as the staff shaman returned from his vacation in the Catskills. They also said that it was, in fact, my fault.

Be careful what you write.

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All Your Ideas Belong To Me

Attention everyone,

I’ve claimed all of the ideas. If you have any ideas you’ll need to send them to me immediately. I recently went through an alarming and ultimately unnecessary period in which I felt like I was running out of ideas. After only a short while, I realized that you creeps were taking all of them, and that’s not fair. In order to correct this, I went ahead and patented, copyrighted, trademarked, and carved in stone my absolute and total right to every single idea in existence.

As the idea holder, you can expect me to rule with the fair grace and efficiency of an evil queen. My decisions will be arbitrary but absolutely binding. Those with good ideas will be rewarded with a moment in my presence and those with incredible ideas will be killed in order to keep them from threatening my rule. If you don’t like this system, please let me know immediately so I can have you eliminated.

In order to send me your ideas, I’ve invented a system of computer correspondence, or compcorr, for your convenience. Of all the platforms I’ve developed, there is one called Good Mail—or gmail—that I consider the best and most intuitive. One of the things I’ve learned as supreme idea queen is that some ideas are better than others. The moment you feel yourself having an idea please send me a compcorr and then forget you ever had it. I would say that I appreciate your cooperation but that means you have some sort of choice in the matter, which you don’t, so that sentence is meaningless.

What I mean is, I would like to thank myself for coming up with this incredible idea and being brave enough to claim everyone’s intellectual property as my own. I’m in awe of my own power and I know all of you agree. Should you find this arrogant or self-assuming in any way, please let me know in a compcorr so I can put a chip in your brain and monitor you for future insubordination. Don’t try to resist. Even the very idea of resistance belongs to me, so you can see how pathetic and pointless that would be.

I look forward to hearing from all of you without exception.


Emily, Idea Empress

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