Oct 12 2016

This Is the Coolest Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me

I just opened THE single most awesome piece of mail I’ve ever received.

Let me start up front by telling you what I think it is—I think it’s the start of an ARG, “alternate reality game.” I have no idea who’s running the game or how they got my name and address, but it’s somebody who knows me well enough to realize I’d love it.

The package was addressed to me. It came in the mail, in a plain brown box. The sender is listed as Professional Logistics Inc in Buffalo, NY (they have a LinkedIn page, but the website listed there is either down or inactive). It came via 2-day priority mail, with a USPS tracking number that indicates it did, in fact, originate in Buffalo.

Inside the box was this:


1. A wooden crate marked “Montealto Organic Fair Trade Coffee, Product of Guatemala.” It’s the kind of crate that’s nailed shut on top. I figured Sam must’ve ordered the coffee on my Amazon account or something, so I left it on the kitchen counter until he got home. He claimed not to have ordered any coffee, but he opened it up for us.

2. Inside there was a package wrapped in burlap, a letter on pink “Super Kitty” stationary, and something that looked like a printout of an article on a Spanish-language news site. I started reading the letter, and immediately said “oh my god this is the COOLEST THING, Robin and Davy come here right now, you’re gonna love it.”

I do want to note that while it’s written in a child-like, looping cursive script, the letter is in fact printed and not hand-written. This is what it says:

The government closed down the dig. That nosey reporter found out about the lost artifacts & put it in the newspaper. I don’t know what we’re going to do. My parents are still in Guatemala and I’m staying with Uncle Al in Toronto for now.

I was so scared when Customs asked me about the statue. I said it was just tourist stuff and they let me go. I guess they couldn’t believe that a kid would be carrying a priceless artifact. I had to get it away from the dig, but I can’t keep it. Someone is going to ask me about it eventually. So I’m sending it to you. Nobody knows about you here.

I believe Une now. I’m not sure if I can trust her, but I believe her.

She told me the statue is connected to the werejaguars’ return, but didn’t tell me how. I told her before that I’d help—so I did. I got the key to the equipment shed from Dad’s backpack and unlocked it for her. At first I couldn’t see her, but there was a jaguar at the edge of the rainforest. I could see the light flash off its eyes. It came right up to me and brushed past me into the shed. It stopped in front of this statue and I took it. I still can’t believe I did that! But I don’t think any of the so-called adults in my life are responsible enough to take care of it.

I know I can trust you.

P.S. Whoever told that reporter he saw me and a jaguar walking into the jungle was such a liar! Nobody was around and we were careful! And I didn’t go into the jungle. I went straight back to my tent.

Robin started screaming halfway through as I read this to him, by the way. “Is this real!! Who sent this to us?? What’s in the box???” I told him to take it out and he unwrapped a burlap bag containing the…well, I guess I’m gonna call it the jaguar idol, huh. You can see it in the picture (click for bigger version). It’s really very well made. I think it’s made of resin or whatever it is they use for those fake-stone garden ornaments, like birdbaths and buddhas and stuff.

You might be wondering what that green thing tucked into the little crevice under the werejaguar’s chin is. It’s this:


A pendant, plastic, but made to look like jade. Robin was ecstatic when we noticed the “hidden” pendant. He insisted on putting it on a string and he’s wearing it right now. Davy claimed the jaguar idol for himself, so they’re both happy.

3. The only other thing in the box was the “printout.” Two stapled pages, the first one in Spanish, and the second page the same article translated into a kind of English meant to sound like it was produced by a non-native speaker. If you click on the picture of the pendant you’ll get a version big enough that you can read the article, if you’re curious.

Anyway, this whole thing is super awesome and whoever sent it to us—I’m so, so grateful! Time to do some web searching and see if I can uncover any more clues!

(UPDATE: Web searching has turned up The Mysterious Package Company!)

Oct 7 2016

Free Short Story: “The Business of Thorns”


My story from the Speculative Story Bites anthology has been reprinted on the publisher’s website, and they even made this pretty little pull-quote graphic to go with it, so that’s nice.

The story’s about a flower fairy-turned-gumshoe and her ex-girlfriend, and also botany. And also murder.

So, flower fairies, yeah. Cicely Mary Barker drew us as little nymphets with buttercup hats and dragonfly wings, having tea parties with mice or some twee shit like that. I think Cicely knew Morning Glory, and Glory’s always been fanciful. Her seeds are laced with a psychedelic compound, you know—and not one that’s particularly friendly to humans that go chasing that high. Neural damage, convulsions: Cicely was epileptic.

I’m not slamming Glory, though. We’re the same type, her and me: wild, rambling, greedy for life. We take root anywhere and we’re damn hard to kill.

Like this one time—

Read the whole story here.

Sep 4 2016

Robin and Davy Go to Comic Con

Sam, Robin, and Davy all went into the city yesterday to visit the San Francisco Comic Con, a convention for “people that have a true love for comic books, stories, artwork and pop-culture.” Robin went costumed as “Lizard Master,” a superhero of his own invention, while Davy dressed as Dipper from the “Gravity Falls” cartoon (his current obsession). Here they are on the subway:

Lizard Master

Davy as Dipper

Robin came home calling it, with characteristic enthusiasm, the “best day ever.” Apparently he got to hug Godzilla! And T-Rex! And Wonder Woman! (Wonder Woman is cool enough that he made an exception to his reptile theme for her.) Davy was more reserved but also seemed to enjoy himself quite a bit, while Sol and I stayed home and got some rest. So a very nice time was had by all!

Aug 24 2016

First Day of School


It’s hard to believe that summer’s over, but this morning we sent these two goofballs off to school, so I guess it must be true. Davy is starting first grade, while Robin’s in third. Not the best picture in the world but trust me, any face that Davy makes for a camera will be equally dopey.

Bonus pic: a scene from Robin’s fantasy-adventure birthday, starring Lizardzaur the Lizard Knight and his heroic friends. Basically we went to a park, gave the kids some foam swords, sent them off on a scripted “quest” which took about twenty minutes, and then let them run around screaming and swinging weapons at each other for the next couple of hours. “Mom!” Robin said on the way home. “Did you notice this birthday was full of AWESOME?” Yeah kiddo, I noticed.


Jul 5 2016

Speculative Story Bites Available for Pre-Order

I have a story coming out in this anthology, which will be released in e-book form August 9th:

There’s also a plan to publish each of the stories on a separate website, one a month I believe, so I’ll link to my story when it goes up. It’s the flower-fairy noir detective ghost story, for those of you who may have read that one in draft!

Jun 7 2016

Drive-By Posting

The end of the year is always super busy. It’s the last week of school for Robin and Davy and it feels like there’s a million things I’m supposed to do. “Update my blog” is on the list somewhere, so I’m just going to throw a few things up.

Here’s Sol having fun at the park:


Here is the menu for my fortieth birthday dinner, which was last night:

  • lamb steaks broiled with garlic butter
  • pan-roasted asparagus with shaved parmesan
  • cornmeal-buttermilk sheet cake with blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries

Here is how I feel about being forty: Good, but I’m more than ready for life to slow down a little. I’m really looking forward to sixty.

Here is how I feel about the arrival of summer: super good. I wish you all long days, warm weather, and relaxed schedules. And maybe beaches or mountains or European cities or cabins in the woods—whatever you’re into, really. And a lot of it.

May 10 2016

UMCS Talent Show

Robin and his friend Genevieve performed a puppet show for their school’s talent show. The video of the whole event is now online—Robin’s performance starts at 16:07.

Mar 31 2016

Predictable in Retrospect

Davy: “Mom, I love you so much because you always do so many things to help me. I want to give you a hug.”

Me, blinking rapidly: “Awww!”

(We hug.)

Davy: “And also I want to tell you what I want for my birthday. A bunch of Lego sets! And a tablet!”

Me, patting his back as the hug continues: “I really should have seen this coming.”

Mar 27 2016

Busy Spring

Happy Easter! We are just back from a camping trip with our scout group. We dyed eggs with onion peels and cabbage, and we hiked in the hills of Garin Regional Park. The weather was excellent and so was the company.

Sol had a birthday last Thursday—now he’s a three year old, still up to all the same things as when he was two, except that he’s discovered a new interest in letters and numbers. He’s got the alphabet down and he can count up to twenty. He still, however, has absolutely nothing in the way of common sense, social propriety, or a respect for others’ belongings. So, uh, growth opportunities remain.

He did get to spend two hours this morning romping in a muddy creek. He was sodden and filthy when we finally dragged him away, and absolutely delighted with himself. Happy birthday, little buddy! You are a handful and a half but I am very much looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.




Mar 19 2016

Lizard Monster Theology

So Robin’s enduring fascination with lizard monsters (which has so far traced a route through Godzilla, the comic-book villain The Lizard, and the Jurassic Park movies) has now landed him into an obsession with the Egyptian crocodile-god Sobek.

Robin: “Can Sobek shoot crocodiles out of his hands?”
Me: “Well, in traditional Egyptian mythology, no. But you’re telling a story where he can and that’s cool.”
Robin: “I mean in real life.”
Me: “He doesn’t exist in real life. He’s a myth.”
Robin: “No he isn’t.”
Me: “Yes he is.”
Robin: “No he isn’t.”

At this point, sensing that we had reached an impasse, I excused myself from the conversation. I have to admit the idea of shooting crocodiles from your hands sounds like a pretty awesome superpower!