The Catalyst

A Writing Teacher Writes (plus some writing prompts and recipes)

Working From Home October 16, 2015

This time the prompt was “nonsensical sentences.” Writing participants generate a series of bizarre sentences and read them out loud. The writing we do afterwards is often strange and funny. For a description of this prompt, click here.  

What I wrote is below.



“No, as a matter of fact, I do not want to go on a free Caribbean Cruise. So take me off your calling list: now!” I screamed the last few words, emphasizing “off” as if I was scolding a naughty chihuahua. Goddamn telephone solicitors. I thought that shit ended in the 1980s. A Disney Cruise? Please. You and the Little Mermaid can go fuck yourselves.

I promptly got back to the project at hand: cleaning out the fridge. Something had gone rotten in there, and I was going crazy trying to figure out what it was.

My place was a disaster. That’s what you get for taking two weeks off to visit Machu Picchu and turning your apartment into an Airbnb. The Scandinavian hippy family of six I had rented it to was making kombucha in the bathtub while I was high on coca leaves, thousands of feet above sea level. I came home to find a dark ring around my hot pink claw foot tub and aphids in the Fig Newtons.

God only knows what they sprouted in my fridge. Whatever it was—the cellulose mother for red wine vinegar, goat yogurt fungal creme, or rose and earthworm kimchi—that crap stunk.

“I’m calling in sick today,” I told my boss. “I’ve got an emergency here at home.”

“Donny,” he said, in that exasperated tone of his that always exasperates me, “we have an event today for 2,000 people and you are to be one of the roast beast carvers. We’ve already pre-charged your favorite electric carving knife.”

“I can’t leave the apartment,” I said, pulling open the crisper drawer for the fourteenth time: nothing.

“You’ve been gone two weeks already,” he whined. “We need you here!”

“Call someone else,” I said. “Call Paris Hilton or Perez Hilton. Call Janet Leigh. I’ve got to get back to work.” And I hung up.

I had already had quite a morning. The mirror in my bathroom seemed offended by my Peruvian farmer’s tan, the comb and the hairbrush were picking on my faux pompadour, and the blowdrier gave a creaky call and then petered out in what amounted to an electrical vocal fry. I skipped the concealer after my face lotion complained of saggy neck syndrome, saying, “I am not responsible for anti-aging in any way. I am not a miracle worker.”

“Then why are you called Hope in a Jar? I asked, as I slapped the lid back on. “And fuck you, too,” I added. Asshole.

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling good about my sun-damaged skin, so I went to pour my first cup of coffee, hoping it would elevate my mood, and when I opened the fridge: BAM! Holy Mother of Baby Jesus, that smell!

I nearly retched, the way I did when the train climbed away from Cuzco and my tiny guide handed me my first coca leaf, winking at me with his one good eye. The nausea was worth it there, of course, on top of the world at the ancient temple. But here, in my own kitchen? Had it been worth the lousy $650 I earned to have to deal with this mess? This rotten radicchio, this curdling cabbage stew, this moldy milk? I think not.





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