Young Wives of Wildwood (Young)

(Quick note: This is another font I downloaded, not one from the system defaults. It might not show up for everyone.)

Font: Young

Chapter: “Young Wives of Wildwood”

Book: And the Lark Arose from Sullen Earth

Written: Summer 2012

Computer created on: 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro

File format: Word 2004

This is the 13th chapter of my second volume about Jakob DeJonghe and Rachel Roggenfelder. I’m so glad I decided to use the remainder of the material for a separate volume with its own storyline, since it gave me the opportunity to write a lot of new material. This book was written a lot more organically than I usually do, but working without a concrete outline was a fun challenge.

Feisty, progressive, brash Rachel has been roped into attending the inaugural meeting of a new social club in her new hometown, Wildwood, New Jersey. (I decided to move them away from Atlantic City because Wildwood actually has an established Jewish community, as compared to the Jewish community I made up for my fictional Atlantic City neighborhood.) She doesn’t really want to go, but her quasi-friend and fellow Dutch immigrant Henriette (Jet) Vos was insistent.

Rachel is the exact opposite of these parodies of postwar housewives, women who hate sex, are constantly smoking (even while pregnant), wax on and on about how much they’re in love with their doctors, and live for baking brownies, PTA meetings, ironing, and knitting. They’re horrified at how she kept her last name, is trying to find a midwife for a homebirth, is seeing a very radical female doctor in the meantime, plans to go to university when her child is in school, reads a lot, loves sex, never smokes, and has a hearty appetite.

These women are intended as parodies. I know not all housewives in the postwar era were like this, but it was so fun to spoof that mindset. (And it is a known fact that many doctors in this era enforced some outright dangerous, non-evidence-based prenatal care, like letting women smoke and insisting they only gain 10-15 pounds.) It made for some great culture clashes.

Some highlights:

“It’s just getting started.” Jet took a seat next to her and looked longingly at a plate of cupcakes with thick double chocolate frosting and crushed peppermints. “My doctor will have my head on a platter if I gain one more pound before the end of the year.  Can you please put that away?”

Rachel burst out laughing. “Do you realize I’ve been masturbating since I was eleven or twelve years old?  I also greatly enjoy Jaap touching me there.  I also broke my own hymen years before we became lovers.”

“Okay, I can leave my bicycle in your entryway.  No harm done.  Best to keep bicycle safe, where it may not be stolen.” Rachel pulled her bicycle into the house with one hand and held Ben’s leash in the other.

Rachel shrugged and took off her shoes only after she’d gone into the living room with Ben.  She tossed them across the room, ignoring the stunned looks of the other guests.  These women were just more of the same, matronly-looking young housewives who didn’t seem to know how to have a good time.

The woman rolled her eyes and put her cigarette out. “You’ll probably start smoking soon enough, after you’ve been in America for a little longer.  I smoked through all three of my pregnancies, right into the delivery room, and my children turned out fine.”

Rachel sat stunned as every single woman, without fail, introduced herself as Mrs. Husband’s Full Name, and no one asked for the real name.  Not only did she not remember half of these women’s names, but she had no idea what to call them.  It seemed so bizarre and overly formal to call a peer by a title instead of her first name.

“That is my own name.  Dutch women keep their surnames.  I have my own mother’s last name, and my baby will get our name too.  So, what am I supposed to call all of you?  Do your husbands and friends really call you all Mrs. John or Mrs. William?”

“Unfortunately for you, my parents were murdered in Sobibór in the summer of ’43,” Rachel said loudly. “You won’t be able to meet anyone in my family, because I am only survivor.  Jetje also is only survivor in her family, and in my husband’s family, there are only him and his mother.  Perhaps next time you shall think better before you talk about another person in the room as though she can’t hear you.”

“She’s seeing Dr. Dagny Landvik of Atlantic City,” Jet said in disgust. “And Dr. Landvik’s backup doctor is Simon Ives.  Both radicals I’m shocked are allowed to practice medicine at respectable hospitals.” [Dr. Ives is also Sparky’s doctor.]

“This doctor seems to think he’s God’s gift to expectant mothers,” Rachel scoffed as she bit into a boiled potato. “I am afraid for Jet’s and her baby’s health because she follows his dangerous advice about not gaining any weight and not getting any physical activity.  And he’s making her come in once a week for pelvic exams just for the hell of it.  What a pervert.”

Mrs. Gilbert laughed. “What woman wants to read on anything like that?  God gave us smaller brains than men.  We shouldn’t try to overexert ourselves by doing too much reading or research.  A woman’s brain can only handle things like women’s magazines and tasteful love stories.”

A Xenial Welcome (Xenon Medium)

My Sweet Saturday Samples post is here. I wanted my X post to lead today!

(Quick note: This is one of the fonts I downloaded, not a system default. It may not show up properly for everyone.)

Font:  Xenon Medium

Chapter:  “A Xenial Welcome”

Book:  Journey Through a Dark Forest: Lyuba and Ivan in the Age of Anxiety

Written:  4-15 April 2013

File format:  Word 2004

Computer written on:  2008 15-inch MacBook Pro

This is the 35th chapter of my current WIP, my third Russian/North American historical novel. In this chapter, four of the Soviet characters arrive safely in New York, and some of the other Soviet characters finally reach Isfahan, Persia, and reunite. A very xenial (hospitable) welcome is waiting for them in both places. After the risky escapes all three of these groups have gone through, it’s nice to finally relax and settle into life in a safe place. To date, this is the book’s longest chapter, at over 13,000 words.

Some highlights:

“Would you like a ride?  Passengers come along every few minutes, but it doesn’t seem right to keep driving past people with so much baggage, and a woman who’s approaching a blessèd event.”

Rustam starts hyperventilating and rolls down his window.  Ever since he escaped Kurapaty, being in small spaces has brought on panic attacks and vivid flashbacks.

“Anyone would have a mental breakdown if he’d escaped from a mass grave,” Rustam says as he flops into the nearest chair. “That night of terror will be with me as long as I live.  Don’t even ask me to describe it again.  It was enough I had to tell my family, Polish embassy people, and the officials who greeted us here.  All those bodies, pressing on all sides, that gag on my mouth, barely any air—”

Katrin pours cranberry juice, brandy, ice, raspberry syrup, and rose water into a penguin-shaped cocktail-shaker, then pours more of the same mixture into a shaker shaped like an aeroplane.  Her guests watch in continued amazement as she prepares drinks.

“What’s a hotdog?” Fyodor asks. “I thought only Asians and some Africans ate dogs.”

“Yes, he’s a Great Dane,” Oliivia nods. “We wanted a puppy, but our mother said it’s better to give a home to an older abandoned dog.  Puppies find new owners quickly, but older dogs in the pound are usually ignored.”

Velira runs to a window of the abandoned old summer house Ínna and Mrs. Brézhneva have claimed in the center of Isfahan.  She smiles down at the pheasants having a dirt bath in the garden of the courtyard, several feet away from the long reflecting pool.  It’s been a long time since she’s been able to just stand and watch animals, without being rushed along, or kept away from most flora and fauna at sea.

Mrs. Brézhneva stiffens at the loud laughter coming from the car.  She doesn’t even need to be told it’s directed at her.

“Why am I not surprised to see you still look like an ape with a bad haircut, pointy ears, and an unflattering hat after all these years?  It’s me, Alína Pétropashvili, and those are the Nahigians, Ohanna Zouranjian, and Ohanna’s daughter Siranoush.” Alína opens the back door and steps out. “Don’t you recognize me as an adult?”

At seven o’clock, the guests arrive at Firuza and Vahid’s house three minutes away from the new orphanage.  Velira, Siranoush, and Manzura’s eyes light up at the sight of all the food arranged around the table—mint tea, orange sharbat, cheese and walnut spread, stuffed grape leaves, cucumber and eggplant salad, noodle and vegetable soup with chickpeas, pistachio-stuffed lamb, saffron rice with dates, orange peel, and apricots, apple khoresh, honey almond brittle, nan-e dushabi with pomegranate jam, and baklava.

Velira perches on Ínna’s lap and obediently drinks the sharbat and eats the soup, khoresh, and plain dates Firuza sets before her.  After she’s finished eating, Firuza goes into the kitchen for a small bowl of ice-cream liberally flavored with saffron, pomegranate syrup, rose water, and watermelon juice.  Velira eagerly wolfs it down and then curls up in her aunt’s lap, where she quickly falls asleep.

Mrs. Brézhneva gives one of her trademark befuddled looks. “Is xenial a Georgian word?  Isn’t there a Russian equivalent?”

“This is one old dog you’ll never teach new tricks to.  At least I’m nearing retirement and won’t need to worry about finding a new job in this new country or doing much interaction with the locals.  I’m here only for political and personal safety, not to try to rebuild my life at almost seventy years old.”

[After Katrin orders Anastasiya to finally move out] “Thank God,” Mr. Rhodes says. “I won’t have to put up with her on vacation.  This’ll be the best vacation I’ve had in years.”

“You can sure say that again,” Mrs. Samson nods. “Good riddance.”

[Title page of a comic book/graphic novel, and the close of the chapter] One Lived to Tell the Tale, written and illustrated by Rustam Dmítriyevich Zyuganov

In memory of my dear friend, neighbor, and cousin-in-law Román Vasilovich Safronov and all the other innocents who were murdered in Kurapaty on the night of 11 April 1937, and for my beautiful, intelligent, generous wife Ólga Leonídovna Kérenskaya and our firstborn, Liliána Rustamovna Zyuganova, whom I survived for.

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”—Buddha.

Who Will Stand, Who Will Fall? (Weekdays Roman Slant)

(Quick note: This is another font I downloaded, not one that came with the computer. The pre-existing Roman font, Wide Latin, was too big and bold, and hard to look at for extended periods.)

Font: Weekdays Roman Slant

Chapter: “Who Will Stand, Who Will Fall?”

Book: You Cannot Kill a Swan: The Love Story of Lyuba and Ivan

Written: August 2001

Computer created on: The ’99 Mac we had

File format: ClarisWorks

This is the 42nd and final chapter of my first Russian historical novel, barring the short Epilogue. It was one of the numerous chapters that didn’t have a name till I finally had access to the files again a decade after finishing the book. The title comes from a line in the George Harrison song “The Lord Loves the One (Who Loves the Lord),” the first song on Side Two of his incredible Living in the Material World.

It’s set over one long day in March 1924, the long-awaited court battle for paternal rights over Tatyana. Over the course of the seven years of the book, Boris has made an enemy of all his former friends, and picked up some new enemies along the way. The only people on his side are his priest, Father Spiridon, and Father Spiridon’s overly pious daughter Granyechka, his former fiancée. Even they admit he’s not exactly a moral paragon. And when Boris calls Anastasiya as a surprise witness, she makes a complete fool of herself and unintentionally delivers one of the final nails in his coffin.

The final nail is delivered by Tatyana herself, who has no idea until the eve of her 18th birthday in 1937 that Boris is really her blood father. Even though he’s the antagonist of the book and deserves everything he gets, as his creator, I felt pretty sorry for him in his final scene. He’s been an awful human being, but his love for his only child is the real deal. Those are not crocodile tears.

Some highlights:

“Why did Konev have to be the plaintiff?” Borís begins whining to his lawyer and Father Spiridon. “Now I look like the bad guy to the judge because I’m the defendant, when I’m the one who had the better case, wanting to take him to court to force him to give me back my daughter! Konev went and beat me to it, just like a spoilt child!”

“Even if you lose your case today, at least God will forgive you,” Grányechka whispers.

[The first character witness, 17-year-old Lena Yeltsina] “One hundred percent.  In my eyes that man is pure evil and has no business having children, not even adopted ones.  I hope he burns in Hell for having kidnapped my son.”

Iván looks away in horror when he sees Katrin breastfeeding Oliivia for the whole world to see.  She sits down in the witness stand, oblivious to the gasps of horror.

“You can answer affirmatively,” the judge announces. “I’m a very alcohol-friendly judge and despise Prohibition.”

Anastásiya reverts back to biting her nails after she’s sworn in.  She lowers her gaze from that of Borís’s lawyer, feeling he’s looking at the lower-than-usual neckline Katrin has finally persuaded her to start donning in place of her last-generation outfits revealing usually not a micrometer of flesh except for her face and hands.

Anastásiya turns bright purple in horror. “What do you take me for, some immodest little flapper who exposes her knees and elbows and goes around driving cars?  I have never engaged in any immoral behavior such as that!”

“I hope you take the fifth too when they start asking you the hard questions.” His lawyer rises. “The defense is going to call Borís Aleksándrovich Malenkov to the stand.”

“I despise you.  I would’ve trusted Mísha more to raise his son alone than I would ever trust you to raise any child.” Léna coldly turns away.

Borís, fearing being arrested if he doesn’t instantly comply, signs away all his paternal rights over Tatyana and stands off to the side as Iván and Lyuba sign the document.  When they’re back at their seats, Borís falls onto his knees and then down into the kowtowing position sobbing hysterically, like an infant.  Grányechka, Father Spiridon, and the lawyer all move away, slightly embarrassed.

“Look at that fat short man, crying like it’s the end of the world,” Katrin says haughtily. “Of course I don’t hold any grudge against his mother for comforting him, but he has to show some restraint when he knew damn well this was coming!”

Anastásiya, turning green in jealousy, runs out of the courtroom and hails a carriage going her way, longing for the moment when she can drown the day’s sorrows and humiliations by gazing at her pictures of Rudy and Dmítriy, men who may be unattainable but who at least won’t use her to make another woman jealous.

Valentine and Ajax (Verdana)

(Warning: Contains some mature language.)

Font: Verdana

Year created: 1996

Personal experience: Some of my files of notes and scratch work have been saved into this font through default, and I rather like it, for a sans serif font.

Chapter: “Valentine and Ajax”

Book: Cinnimin

Written: 4 September-1 October 2002

Handwritten

This is Part XLI (41) of my magnum opus under the current table of contents, the second Part of Saga VI (the Nineties), Children’s Children. The title couple are Cinni’s firstborn grandson, Ajax Kevorkian, né Seward-Filliard (born February 1972), and the firstborn of her dear friend and stepsister-in-law Gayle, Valentine Pinkerton-Pembroke (born 1970). (Valentine was, surprise, born on Valentine’s Day!) It’s set from 17 May-23 August 1991. Near the beginning, the Seward patriarch, dear Grandpa Stan, dies.

During the wedding reception, Julieanna’s troubled son André is thrown over the edge to learn that his wife Bridget, who’s also his stepsister, is pregnant a third time without consulting him, esp. since they’ve already got two sets of twins. The elderly family patriarch suffers a stroke during André’s ranting, and things only get worse from there.

Some highlights:

“Corpses rot quickly in the heat,” Al advised. “Somebody wrap him up in ice packs before rigor mortis sets in.”

“Under my roof, you will cut off your own head if I order it,” Mr. Seward growled.

“Don’t be coy about what you do,” Max laughed. “My beautiful daughter-in-law hawks pornos and sex toys.”

Mr. Seward turned white when he spied Luke assembling the sixty-year-old television set. He anticipated hearing a huge pop or snap or bang when Luke adjusted the rheostat that turned it on. Instead a fuzzy black and white image filled the small screen.

Eunomia came into the room carrying a chocolate dildo filled with honey. Fudzie ran to lock up the rest of that month’s freebies, only to find Pandora and Stan sitting wide-eyed before a VCR broadcasting Aspen’s Mountains. He yanked the plug.

R.R. reached out and cuffed Ernie. “Do you really want to imagine your big sister slamming the sheets?”

Gayle pinched him. “And must you talk so cavalierly about our firstborn having intercourse?”

“Now Ajax, you’d better knock my daughter up asap,” R.R. said. “Gayle and I are dying for some grandkids. Just look what happened to your great-uncle M.J. He nearly went insane waiting for grandkids!”

[Cinni’s firstborn Demian, increasingly upset at the extravagant wedding presents his de facto father-in-law Max is giving Valentine and Ajax] “No fair! I had to bust my ass painting just to put my wife through Princeton, and they’re getting everything handed to them on a silver platter!”

“I helped Mommy get pregnant again,” Olivia said proudly. “So she’ll let me name the kid as a reward!”

“I have been duped for the last time by that woman! I swear to God I shoulda had a vasectomy after she told me she’d tricked me into impregnating her with a second set of twins!”

Everyone but André froze in horror as old Nathaniel Malspur toppled over on his right side, his face white and limp.

“What, you think the grounds are cursed just ’cause some geezer on his last legs had a stroke here?” Bobbie Jo challenged. “It’s bad enough the perpetrator fled.”

“Oh, thank God, Max.” Luke’s eyes lit up. “I was just hideously attacked by that man, and your bitch of a daughter is already spinning it to make me look like the bad guy. Give me like ten thousand dollars and I’ll leave town to go on a mission asap.”

“So you can try to convert more old folks on their deathbeds?” Nick screamed, nearly popping his jugular.

“Wolfgang!” André thundered. “No kid of mine is gonna be named Wolfgang!”

“Do you have a toy like this?” Pandora gleefully pushed a button that sent a lifesize Oscar the Grouch towering out of a plastic rubbish bin. Kevin screamed.

“This is just one big conspiracy to rob me of my money!” he ranted when they got home. “What is it, quints?”

Bridget screamed when she saw her oldest daughter’s cello had been brutally smashed. André laughed.

[Bélgica, Julieanna’s oldest daughter] “André got recovered by a family out for a yacht ride, bleeding, unconscious, slit wrists, an apparent jump from the bridge into the ocean. They don’t think he’s gonna make it.”

[The elderly Mr. Malspur] “Give André my blood. I have negative AB.”

“I’m ninety-eight years old. I’ve lived long enough. André is only twenty-eight. He has four young children and two more on the way.”

[Typical Violet, not understanding her niece was giving her anything but a compliment] “Oh, my heart glows to hear you say that, Ash! I may be two months shy of sixty-one, but I love to be remembered as a cold domineering bitch who always gets what she wants!”

Union with a Snake (Underwood Champion)

(Quick note: This post is coded with a font I downloaded, not a default that came with my Mac. It might not show up for everyone. But if you love typewriters and typewriter-esque fonts, I recommend you check it out yourself!)

Font: Underwood Champion

Chapter: “Union with a Snake”

Book: The Twelfth Time: Lyuba and Ivan on the Rocks

Written: 27-29 October 2011

Computer created on: 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro

File format: Word 2004

Chapter 41 of my Russian novel sequel is one of the things I’m proudest of having written. I wrote all 17,000 words of it over the course of just three days. After having kept so much of this book memorized in my head for over half my life, it finally was able to be committed to paper, and so much of it just came gushing out. This book wrote me more than I wrote it.

The day the Stock Market crashes, there’s a blackout in the tenement and Lyuba goes into labor with her fifth child. Just as she suspected, it’s a boy, named Igor, after Ivan’s murdered uncle. (This name actually sounds softer in Russian, though it was almost ruined for me by my ex-“fianc锑s Harpy mother constantly screeching at her husband: “EEEEEEE-gaaaarrrrrr! Eeeeee-GAAAARRRRR! Eeeeee-GAAAARRRRR! Eeeeee-GAAAARRRRR!”) Lyuba is supported in labor by several of her stepsisters, including Svetlana, an infant nurse, along with her longtime midwife Mrs. Kuzmitch and Katrin. When I first created Katrin (né Catherine) in 1993, I never dreamt she and Lyuba would ever become such dear friends that she’d one day hold Lyuba’s hand during a birth!

Lyuba once again has a very difficult birth and recovery. She’s so feverish and weak that Mrs. Kuzmitch has to use forceps. She’s so out of it, in fact, that when Boris comes by after hearing about her state, she mistakes him for her husband. Over the next few weeks, he regularly comes by at night to dope her up with morphine, mescaline, alcohol, and aphrodisiac teas. Boris even writes Ivan two letters bragging about this “affair,” one of which he signs Lyuba’s name to. Things do not end very well when Lyuba finally realizes, in a sober state, what’s been going on.

Some highlights, so to speak:

On the evening of Tuesday, October 29, while Lyuba is reeling from the shock of the Stock Market’s dramatic plummet over the last two days, all the lights go out in the building.  Then, to make matters worse, she feels her water breaking.  She’s felt mild contractions all day, but chose to ignore them.

Through her swimming vision, she can make out a male figure.  She has no idea how her husband could’ve come here or even found out about the birth so soon.  In her delirium, she doesn’t register that her male visitor is plump, on the short side for a man, and has black hair and eyes, instead of being over six feet tall and having dark brown hair and eyes.

“Ask and you shall receive.” Borís pulls out another syringe and quickly injects her, glad her eyes are shut and he can use his right hand this time.

“It’s a sad state when a new mother can’t even wake up to her baby’s cries,” the mohel agrees. “At least this was caught in time to be taken care of properly.  The baby will recover.” (Igor developed a severe case of balanitis on his 9th day of life and had to be circumcised, something totally foreign to Russian Christians.)

“I’m so glad you came back, my handsome stallion.” Lyuba wraps her arms around him, her vision still cloudy from all the morphine and delirium. “I can’t get over how plump you’ve gotten in Minnesota.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d almost think you were Borís.”

“Look at my pretty buttons.” Lyuba opens the tea crate. “We soak these in our tea every night, and they make me feel so happy and aware of the world.  It’s like walking through a dream when I’m awake.  Like right now, I feel like I’m looking at a moving stained glass window.”

“Can you get that brat to shut up?  I can’t concentrate on screwing you if he’s going to be interrupting us.  It’s time to pay attention to me, not him.  He has your attention all day.  Now it’s my turn.”

Lyuba screams even more hysterically.  In the midst of the commotion, her mother and stepfather, the Karmovs, the Kharzins, and Valériya come into the apartment.  Borís suddenly doesn’t feel as confident anymore.

“Borís doesn’t even know the meaning of shame anymore,” Mrs. Kharzina says. “He sinned once and kept running with it.  Once he got a taste for sin, it was too sweet to resist.  Now he’s completely degenerate.”

Lyuba sits on the davenport at her mother’s house, still in complete shell-shock over what she’s discovered.  This seems like a twisted, deranged nightmare that happened to someone else, not her.  In her mind, she keeps replaying everything that happened over the last month, unable to comprehend how she could’ve been so blind to the obvious.