Monthly Archives: September 2013

Beat – A Short Story

“Stop fucking crying! I’ll give you something to cry about, you sissy!”

I don’t know where I’ve been hit, but I can’t stop crying, and his knees dig painfully into my shoulders. I want to stop crying because I want this ordeal to end. It feels like it’s been going on forever.

The linoleum is hard against my shoulder blades from his weight and I can hardly see through my tears. I don’t want to look at him, because to look at him invites more.

“Stop fucking crying!”

I must have been hit again because I am racked by sobs, and my vision swims through tears. I blink to clear my eyes and I look past and above him. I see the popcorn ceiling and I imagine gravity is reversed, and I can walk on the ceiling. What would it be like to have to step through the doors like that? Where would I go to the bathroom? Would it be safe to go outside?

“Shut the fuck up!”

What time is it? When will mom get home? Will she believe me this time? I wish he was dead. I wish I was dead.

I heave and strain and writhe and try to wiggle away. It’s no use. I’m pinned.

He laughs.

“You need to learn to not cry. To not be weak.”

I wish the dog would bite him.

I turn my head away and look at the rug. I wish I was on it. My shoulder blades wouldn’t hurt so badly then.

“Leave me alone!” I shout, shrilly.

He just laughs and leans back, crushing my stomach up into my chest.

Now I can’t breathe and my racking sobs move like air in a squeezed balloon, back and forth, back and forth with no way out.The pressure on my arms is lessened enough for me to wriggle one arm free and begin to flail it uselessly against him. He just laughs harder.

“That’s it! Fight me!”

As my breath goes stale, I start to buck and I’m able to gulp a teaspoonful of air. I think about poisoning his food, stabbing him or lighting the house on fire when he’s asleep, bashing his head in with a hammer. I just want him dead.

The dog whines. She’s upset and scared, too. She’s afraid to come within his range. I forgive her.

“Come on, you little fuck! That all you got?”

He slaps my face. The salt from my tears stings my eyes and I’m drowning, going down, and I don’t want that. I want to live to be able to see him die.

I’m able to just catch his pinky with my free hand and I bend it back as hard as I can.

“Oooooooowwwwww!!!” he screams as he rises off of me.

I gulp huge breaths of air through my sobs.

“Motherfucker! You little motherfucker! You broke it!” he shouts as he kicks me in the side, each blow an explosion of pain. I think I hear something crack.

“Fucker, fucker, fucker!” he rages at me, now landing a fist with each expletive.

Through all the pain and all the hurt and all the tears and all the sobs, a quiet part of me whispers soothingly, “It’s time to go.”

I nod to myself and let go. His voice and the pain start to recede. I feel like I’m sinking down into warm velvet as muffled sound and light float away like the green ballon I lost at the zoo, and they eventually vanish into the void.


Knarr flabnat bluntnak.

Shart fnark blunk notcok. Jimblay kortnaknak arangant vlink dretlop cownop. Trentsap snaprit wendtrill pookin. Squark vlindnarp lopsnit rarpblint warknet weepfert cranpsnit.

Plint, plint frent drarpnab flimp.

Crink opnet sar. Walpfret sawcrep. Harnip ramfrint quarfel snutcram drep nork blatjim. Fahrnit blent, granwyip, plinner haint vrantharn.


I want to write more, I really, really do.

I have these bright, burning thoughts that churn and swoop, and I can even watch the movies in my head in crystal-clear, high definition. But after writing them down and reading them, they’re dim, redshifted stars obscured by dust.

George Carlin observed in his famous Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television routine, “…we have thoughts, but thoughts are fluid, then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought…”

I hate being stuck, so I don’t write, which means it’s impossible to get stuck.

So I’m totally stuck in both directions.

Fucking words.

Websites as Performance Art

My team is currently hard at work on re-architecting the Office Developer Center on MSDN and in preparation, we dug through reams of data to help inform decisions around pages and links we’d retain in the new site. Now that we’re down to the brass tacks of creating pages and starting to see the overall site experience start to jell, we’re at the natural part of the project where the anxiety level is starting to creep up.

The anxiety manifests as questions.

Did me make the correct decisions? Were we looking at the right telemetry data? Did we interpret it correctly? Is there any other customer feedback we can get our hands on? Did we overlook any internal stakeholder input? What have we missed? What should a download graphic look like? Am I going to lose my job if we ship this? Who is going to most pissed off that we moved their cheese?

But then I take a deep breath and remind myself that web sites are like performance art. You practice and practice your art in private, and then finally reveal yourself in public. Sometimes you have the right art, in the right place, with the right audience, at the right time, and everything is magical. Or you just bomb, and you head back to the drawing board.

In any event, you adapt and change, hoping for the magic to occur as often as possible.

I still worry about bombing though.

I’m coming to realize that when you’re operating at scale like Microsoft does, and applying the 80/20 rule of targeting the needs of the 80%, that the sheer size of the 20% is a dauntingly large audience.

So we take more deep breaths, and practice, and practice some more. We’re sure you’ll tell us what we did right and what we screwed up.