This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This is What I Post When I'm not Feeling Well

Mandy was a girl who loved Marilyn Manson the way some people love the Grateful Dead. She would travel with her boyfriend, whom I never met but about whom I was always curious, to cities all across the country just to see Marilyn play. She would come to work the next day, raving about how great it was. We didn't believe her.

When Mandy was in high school, they paid her 5 bucks a day to show up. It was some sort of city program for "at-risk" youth. Was this a good use of our tax dollars? Nobody knows.

Mandy was about 5'3", 300 lbs. Five bucks a day buys a lot of cheesburgers. She had straight jet black hair that stretched to the middle of her bulbous back. The black hair blended nicely with her clothes, which were also black. I never saw her in any other color. She was also queen of the 10- minute smokebreak -- sometimes taking as many as 7 in a single day. Needless to say, she smelled like a giant ashtray. That smoke would get up in that dyed hair and just hang out for a while -- yick.

Mandy was loud, too, in the special way only combative girls with floor-level self-esteem can be loud. She got on everyone's nerves, and never seemed to realize it. There was this guy named Chad at work who spoke his mind constantly. Chad and Mandy didn't get along, and would argue loudly over the stupidest things. It got so bad that the head of our department had an hour-long face-to-face with them in his office, and when they came out they were even whiter than usual and were being very quiet. They were nice to each other for about a week after that.

Mandy liked to make the office coffee, because she liked it strong. She put two packets in there for every one pot of water, and didn't seem to notice that everyone but her didn't like it. If someone else made coffee before she could (as people often would do just to prevent her from ruining it), Mandy would complain loudly about the fact that it tasted like water.

At some point the business took a turn for the worse and people were being laid off. One Friday afternoon, Mandy was called into a conference room by one of my 3 bosses and when she came out, she was crying. She kept saying, "No, don't you dare do this to me!" "You can't!" But they could, and they did. The bosses joked with one another as she left the building with her box of stuff. They were practically singing, "Ding, dong, the witch is dead..." Everyone else just kept working, pretending not to hear what was going on and quite frankly happy it wasn't them. I told her to take care, feeling really lame.

I took over almost all the work she did and still had time to spare. That should tell you how little of an asset she was to the company. If anyone ever deserved to be fired, it was Mandy. She came into work exactly once after that sobbing incident, to let us know that she had landed on her feet and was now managing a gas station. I often wonder if she's still alive, and if so, what hospital she's staying in and why.


  • At 8:39 AM, Blogger the professional said…

    This is What I Post When I'm Putting Off My Writing Dangerously Close to Deadline

    hi michael.

    i like this character sketch of Mandy. i like the way the quick paragraphs move the action. i like that it's very matter of fact and observational without passing any judgment. i like how long it is (800ish?). i like that the last line is the only time we really see how you feel about her.

    i think you should do nine more sketches of people in your past or present, organize them somehow, find a common theme, write some sort of intro and epilogue, and try to get it published. you might want to start by trying to publish some of them alone. i have the entire Writer's Market series for 2005 that i'm not using if you'd like to borrow it.

    not that you asked for my advice.

  • At 11:57 AM, Blogger pete said…

    How can you not feel well when the Marquette Golden Goldens beat the Huskies?

  • At 9:18 PM, Blogger jill said…

    oh he feels great about that.

  • At 6:28 AM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Andrew -- I would absolutely love to (need to?) borrow that writer's market. Also, I'll always take advice from you. I've got a question, though: Why nine more?

    Pete -- I am excited about that very much, at least during those times when I'm not in the bathroom.

    Jill -- Can you believe somebody called the cops on us last night? Seems like a loud dream.

  • At 11:45 AM, Blogger the professional said…

    nine was mostly an arbitrary number (although not that arbitrary, since, combined with the mandy piece it would make ten; and we all love even numbers don't we?). an agent or editor (which the Writer's Market books can, in theory, help you secure) might tell you more or less. considering the length of the Mandy piece (which sources tell me was closer to 566 words than 800), you would most likely be required to meet a word/page count. but whatever.

    the books i have are:

    2005 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition (includes a one-year online subscription to, which i have not used) 1178 pages. a friggin brick.

    2nd Edition Writer's Market Compnaion. 344 pages

    2005 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market. 650 pages

    2005 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. 442 pages

    last spring, when i was finished touring and hadn't quite figured out what i was going to do with myself yet (this denver thing being what i figured out), i was going through a I Want To Be a Writer crisis and my very supportive father sent me this entire series. by the time they arrived the 2006 series was already in bookstores. kind of ridiculous. at this time in my life, i'm not writing fiction and have not yet figured out where my niche is as a writer. thus, these books are collecting some serious dust. i don't know how much faith i have in them and their success rate, but i think you might have the motivation to make it happen.

    take a look at the descriptions of these online and let me know what you're interested in. then we'll devise the best shipping method (possibly media mail since these things are so stinkin' heavy) and we'll hope the denver dust and dallas dust get along.

  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…


    Unfortunately, I want the two biggest books. The "deluxe edition" and the novel/short story one. Media mail would definitely be the best way. I'll be happy to pay for the shipping.


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