Like The Waltons

6 02 2012

Do you remember The Walton’s?    It was on from 1971-1981 and the reruns played forever. It was about this large family that lived in the Virginia Mountains during  The Depression.  Grandma, Grandpa, Ma & Pa and their 6 children all lived under 1 roof, struggling to survive. It was narrated by the oldest son John Boy who became a writer. At the close of every show they would all say goodnight to each other. “Good night John Boy.” “Good night LIzbeth.”

Imagine a family like the Waltons only instead of living in the Virginia Mountains, they live in the North Woods during the current Recession. They are The Walnuts.  Grandma, Grandpa and Pa died years ago. John Boy (we’ll call him Macademia Walnut) smoked too many cigarettes and never published any  best sellers. He died too. Imagine Mary Beth never left home because she developed a gambling habit and lost her house to creditors. We’ll call her Almond.  And Elizabeth  became an alcoholic and doesn’t come around very much anymore. Her name is Pistachio.  Jim Bob never left home either—we’ll name him Chestnut. He has a polysubstance abuse problem and can’t keep his dick in his pants.  His 2 illegitimate  daughters live there too,  PineNut & BrazilNut.  They are practically adults themselves, but they are more interested in growing  weed  in Grandma’s backwoods. Olivia would be  Grandma Haze..  As for the other children Erin, Jason, and Ben…well Pa Walton had been busy with his other wife and family in a different state. That’s when he was out “getting work.”   And imagine the Walnut family instead of being human; they are a large family of squirrels.

Grandma Hazel  was an aging matriarch. She did the best that she could with what she had. Even when Pa Walnut had been alive, he was very rarely home.   He would send postcards from Idaho and Oregon. Sometimes he would send a little money, but it wasn’t enough.  Not only did Hazel have to raise the children on her own, she had to work to provide for her family.  Just when Hazel was used to the idea that Mr. Walnut might not being coming home, he’d show up with his army duffle slung over one shoulder and a crooked smile on his face. And she’d always give in.  She was 40-something when she became pregnant the last time. When she found out, Hazel sat at the kitchen table and cried.  The last child was Chestnut Walnut.

Now Chestnut is 40-something. And Hazel is a frail old squirrel with an enlarged heart, missing fur patches and arthritic joints. She can’t make it up and down the tree on her own anymore. Back in the day, she kept an immaculate nest, but with so many squirrels in the nest these days, it might make it on an episode of Hoarders. They all live off her Squirrel Security Check.  She visits the Food Pantries and clips coupons.  Hazel is not able to collect nuts anymore. And the  rest of the family is too lazy and won’t.

It was two weeks before Christmas. Grandma Hazel hadn’t finished her Christmas shopping. She always bought each of them a little something.  The National Oak Tree Bank called.  Her account had been emptied.  She didn’t have a nut left.

Chestnut had done it before. Taken the checkbook out of his mother’s purse, wrote himself a check and cashed it. Then off to his dealer.


Chestnut sat at the kitchen table. His eyes were half closed and glassy.  He wore a half smile.

Almond waved Grandma’s checkbook in his face. “Chestnut! Did you do this?”

He shrugged a little. “You know I did. It’s not like you don’t help yourself when you lose at the Casino.”

Almond hit him hard. “You rat bastard! Your own mother!”

He lit a cigarette and blew  it in her face. He exited the kitchen up the stairs to his room.  Almond couldn’t do anything. She was 20 years older than he was and in poor health herself.

“I’ll turn him in after Christmas,” Hazel said.

Christmas came meager as it was–and went.  Hazel did not report her son. But she was old and tired. She  hoped that she just wouldn’t wake up one day.

A few weeks into the New Year, Hazel received another phone call from the bank.  Her entire stash of nuts had been depleted and over drafted by 500 nuts. The bank informed her that she would be charged 75 nuts a day until her account was brought back to zero.

Hazel cried at the kitchen table. No one had 500 nuts.

“Chestnut!” Almond screamed.

“What?” He was sitting in front of the TV smoking a joint.

“You need to turn yourself in,” Almond whined.

“I will after the weekend. I want to spend some time with the kids.”

But that was a lie. The kids were another lame excuse. He could give two pits about his kids. He would sell them for drugs if he could. The light bill  and nest insurance were  due, but all 500 plus nuts had been  shot  into Chestnut’s veins.

“Call Little Acorn,” Hazel said. “Ask to borrow the money.”

Little Acorn was Hazel’s grandson who lived in the city He was  Macademia’s son.

“Again?” Little Acorn raised his voice.

He loved his Grandma, but he knew if he gave her the money, the same thing would happen again. And there was no way that she could possibly pay back that amount of money. She was on a fixed income.

“Well, do you have it?” Almond asked.

“No, I don’t.” That was a lot of money. He had to pay his bills too.

“What about that rich girlfriend of yours? Ask her will you?”

“Yeah, I’ll ask.”  Little Acorn covered the phone with his hand and looked at his girlfriend, Sunflower. “Uncle Chestnut did it again. They need 500 nuts.”

“What? No. Absolutely not. Had they turned him in before Christmas, they wouldn’t be in this mess. Why should I pay for someone else’s drug habit.” She stormed away.

“She doesn’t have it either.” Little Acorn said.

“Doesn’t have it? Or doesn’t want to?” Almond asked.

“She doesn’t have it. Nor is she obligated to. She’s not family. I’ve got to go.” He ended the call. Little Acorn chewed his paw in thought. “It’s Grandma, ya know.”

“Yeah I know,” Sunflower said.  “But by giving them money, you’re enabling the situation to continue.”

“True, but—“

“But nothing. Remember watching that show Squirrel Intervention.  We would always say how stupid they were when the one family member would cave and let the drug using son back into the house or give him money.”


“Same thing.” she said. “But I might make a donation  if they report Chestnut and they change bank accounts. I’d need proof, though.”

Little Acorn called his brother Pecan who lived near their Grandma.  Pecan was willing to open a new account with grandma. Little Acorn called Grandma Hazel back. It was difficult having a phone conversation with grandma. Had to practically yell and she still couldn’t hear. But Almond wouldn’t hand the phone over anyway.

“We will give you half the money if you report Chestnut. And—“ Little Acorn started.

“He’ll go to prison!” Almond whined.

“Um. . .that’s where he belongs. He wrote bad checks. He stole from his own mother!.”

“But he’ll be there for a long time.”

Little Acorn continued. “And Grandma would have to close her account and get rid of her checkbook. Pecan would open a joint account and pay her bills.”

“No, that’s not going to work,” Almond said.

“That won’t work or you don’t want it to work?”

“It won’t work.”

“Let me talk to Grandma.’’

“She’s sleeping.”

“That’s my final offer.” Little Acorn hung up the phone shaking his head. “If Dad were still alive, he’d beat the pit out of Chestnut.”

Sunflower squeezed his paw. “Just remember they choose this over and over again. Free will. What’s that thing you say? The definition of crazy?”

“ You keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”

They sat there in silence.

“I hope Dad was adopted,” Little Acorn said.

Sunflower nodded in agreement. “Stupid Northwoods Squirrelfuckers.”

Poor Hazel Walnut stuck in her hoarder nest with her adult children. There is no happy ending here. Squirrel Protective Services could get involved take her out of her home and put her into Adult Foster Care, because that would be so much better.  The possibility of Chestnut overdosing was a possibility. Or  Hazel might go to sleep one  night and get her wish. Until then, life goes on as usual in the Northwoods. Unlike the Walton’s . . .no one is wishing their family members a good night.




The Chef’s Wife

22 06 2010

Subscribe to The Dirty Napkin and read my story “The Chef’s Wife.” You can also listen to it!

A Severe Case of the 30-Somethings

26 03 2010

When the show Thirtysomething was popular, I was drooling over Fred Savage in The Wonder Years and Neil Patrick Harris in Doogie Howser.  But now I can watch the first season of Thirtysomething available on the ever-addictive Hulu. But shows that were good in the past are never quite as good later on. The clothes are all wrong and no one has a cell phone attached to their brain stem and there’s just a huge cheese factor. And you ask yourself—did people really talk that way in the 80’s?  Didn’t they know how to write good dialogue?  I started to watch it, but I couldn’t even finish one episode. Seriously boring. The big issues were being a stay at home mom, the woman wanting to go back to work, finding a baby sitter that was good enough and the distance between the friends with kids and the friends without kids. Okay so?

I’ve been watching this new Canadian show Being Erica–another show obsessed about the never-ending melodramatic effects of being 30. Erica is seeing a therapist that sends her back in time to learn from and even fix past regrets. It always has a happy philosophical message at the end. I don’t think the show will last very long, because it’s just too damn happy. Her life doesn’t seem messed up enough to deserve traveling back in time to fix things. It’s not like she was a heroin addict or joined a cult or anything.

How many shows or stories are about characters struggling in their 30’s? It’s not that 30 is old. But it’s where you start to notice gravity and time. Maybe the problem is that we’re coping with 30 with a 25 year old mentality.

Thirty-something should be an official medical diagnosis.

DSM IV Thirty-Somethings

8 (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least two of the symptoms must be   9,10,11, or 14. Must be between age 30-39.

1. Frequent traveling body aches

2. Generalized varied vague complaints that are unverifiable by any testing

3. Feelings of inadequacy

4. Sensation that time is racing past

5. Generalize fatigue, not relieved by sleep

6. Inability to sleep in due back pain and/or internal body clock

7. Inability to consume the same quantity of alcohol as in previous years

8. Lack of motivation to party beyond 9pm

9. Appearance of looking like someone’s parent

10. Denial that you look as old as your friends who are exactly the same age

11. Anxiety about being carded less frequently for alcohol

12. Intense need to accomplish or nurture something (pet, project, child)

13. Disgust with current fashion trends (clothes, music), because they’re not what they  used to be

14. Feeling that you can’t wear something because it’s not age appropriate

15. A strange sense of nostalgia for the past

16. Realization that you’ll never be rich or famous

17. Manifestation of real disease processes (arthritis, hypertension, elevated cholesterol etc.)

If 30-something was a legitimate diagnosis, I could call into work, and they would know that it was highly contagious to other people the same age. They would insist that I stay home for a least 2 weeks—take an extended vacation. It would be obvious I was really sick and not just making it up.

And it would hold up as a legitimate defense in court. Not-guilty by reason of the 30-Somethings. Isn’t that really why some people drown their children or murder their spouse? Or start smoking crack? Maybe.

Heather’s Stud (the Angry Blog Commenter)

21 03 2010

Dear Angry Blog Commenter,

I received your message.

“Lucy Diamond is a stupid bitch and has no idea what she is talking about.  How uneducated is she to not know who Gary Dop is?”

Unfortunately I was unable to e-mail you back at It went directly to the mail demons and was returned as undeliverable. This made me sad. I wanted to talk about your feelings of hostility and unrecognized rage.

Honestly, I found your message a little weird—junior high, serial killer-ish. Because you weren’t even commenting on the blog itself. You made a comment about another commenter—evaluating their intelligence and ability to leave a comment. It only made your own ignorance more apparent.

Please do not leave derogatory comments on my blog site. The purpose of my site is to entertain, incite laughter and to provoke intelligent thought. Your comment does none of these things. I wanted to delete your comment and send you a personal e-mail. However, because you left an invalid address, I am forced to blog about it instead. Maybe even psycho-analyze and poke fun.

Most people probably do not know Gary Dop. Do you know who Gary Dop is?  I hardly know him myself. After all, how can you really know god?

It’s obvious that you know Lucy Diamond on a personal level—not just as a random comment on a blog site. And you have been harboring negative feelings toward her for some time.  Really you want to tell her that she’s a stupid bitch, but you’re too afraid. She probably hurt you in some way and vice versa. Instead of leaving angry, pseudo-anonymous comments on my site, it would be better if you talked directly with Lucy using “I feel” statements. Or perhaps you might want to consider therapy to help you work through your feelings.

A couple months ago the top search on my blog site was “Lucy Diamond was a prostitute.”  Was that you Heather’s Stud?  Typically, I don’t use my blog  to attack people that I know in a public forum. And if I do, I most certainly won’t use their real name.  I prefer to verbally accost systems, complete strangers and powerful officials. You fall into the complete stranger category.  I would like to remind you that this is a narcissistic blog. So mostly I like to talk about myself and include self-deprecating humor.

Heather’s Stud, you sound like an angry lesbian with Short Man Syndrome. You want to be big burly dyke so badly, but you need to grow some balls first.  

I should thank you for giving me something to write about, but I don’t think I will.

Julie Ann

Dead Wives

2 03 2010

Check out my short story “Dead Wives” now published in Sex & Murder Magazine

Shopping Season

30 12 2009

I wondered what day it was when I had to park my car in Antarctica and walk to the local  grocery store. It was 11am on Tuesday. But the traffic suggested that maybe it was Saturday, and I was just confused. Christmas was over. The herd of shoppers had promised to return to their houses heaping with previous purchases and back to their desk jobs at their cluttered cubicles. But it seemed we were experiencing an extended holiday season. Thank you, corporate America.

 Whining children were pushed in carts by their unconcerned mothers. Children that should have been pushed in carts, zigzagged incoherently in the aisle. Families shopped together in packs, stalking and hunting their next big purchase. This was what I had hoped to avoid by doing my Christmas shopping on-line.

 I rationalized that the screaming children were still on Holiday break, and their parents couldn’t leave them home alone. Someone should tell them that a little bit of Benadryl and a ball gag goes a long way.  And everyone knows that duct tape is multipurpose.

 It wasn’t just the families with children either. Everyone was out. The senior shoppers walked painfully past the 50% Christmas decorations, debating on whether or not that $1 item was really worth that much. Everywhere I turned there was one standing in front of me–limping with a cane or driving a large Amigo. And then they would suddenly stop and block the aisle.

 I wasn’t there to bargain shop. I had a list. I needed onions and milk and bread. I had a legitimate reason to be there. I worked Christmas, and it was my day off. I wasn’t on some extended Holiday. So get the fuck out of my way!

 Apparently, this week was supposed to be a big Christmas shopping week. I didn’t get that memo.  I suppose everyone had to spend their gift cards right away and scoop up all the cheap deals. Like they don’t have enough shit. I know I have enough shit. This is what turns people into Hoarders. These super bargains and advertisements touting how much we need something and how much we’ll save—when really we would save more by never buying it in the first place.

 I prefer to shop between 11pm-7am. No screaming children. Empty parking lots. When I turn down an aisle, I don’t have to navigate around anyone except for the stockers. And they’re harmless—not like shoppers. Shoppers have poisonous fangs. They emit gases that make the aisles spin and your chest grow tight. And if they touch you—even brush past you, you could die instantaneously. If I look down any aisle and see that I won’t be able to keep a safe passing distance between me and one of those shoppers, I go to the next aisle.

It’s not that I don’t like shopping. I enjoy going down each aisle at the grocery store in consecutive order. I like to read the labels and touch new items. When I’m looking at non-food items, I’m attracted to silver, glass and bright shiny things. But other shoppers and their offspring make it a haven of death. I don’t like to feel that I’m being rushed. I don’t like someone standing too close or someone hovering behind me, waiting to get their leach hands on the item I just touched.

Or what about those shoppers who stand right in front of my brand of milk—1% Organic. Why couldn’t they be standing in front of the Lactaid milk or the eggs? It’s like they are doing it on purpose–to break me. So they can crack my skull open and eat my brains.

And those self-check out lanes. I’m okay with them unless someone is standing impatiently behind me. They sigh loudly, shift their weight several times and fidget. That makes me nervous, and then I can’t concentrate. Those are the same shoppers that start to scan their own groceries and send them down the belt before I have even started bagging mine. So I start throwing things into bags. When I get home, I discover smashed bread and injured tomatoes.

Shoppers are dangerous, so I lay low. I buy my things at night and make purchases on the internet. When I do go to the store, I wear camouflage and spray around the perimeter of my car with shopper’s urine. Because you can’t reason with a cannibal.  They’re savages.