19 January 2014

Feminist Apology Cards, Sorry Not Sorry

Feminist Apology Cards, "Sorry not sorry, bitch." By Alice Urchin
Because sometimes you're out smashing the patriarchy and people get hurt—but fuck those people. Those people need to suck it up. You don't owe them shit. 

Feminist Apology Cards, Sorry for the Rage

"I'm sorry that you were caught in the devastating typhoon that is my feminist rage." 
Feminist Apology Cards, "Sorry for the Rage," by Alice Urchin

Sometimes when you're out smashing the patriarchy, you smash a little too hard and innocent people get hurt. For example, sometimes your boyfriend tells you about some sexism he saw happening that he disagreed with and you grow 10x your normal size and start rampaging at the thought of some sexism happening and blackout and the next thing you know, you're coming to and your boyfriend is cowering in fear like, "Why are you yelling?"

17 November 2013

The Daily Commute: Perfume

A new cartoon from my "Daily Commute" series of comics about being catcalled  "Dear Man in the parking lot who asked me if I like to party and then tried to win me over by spraying me with Ed Hardy perfume when I said, 'Not with you,'  Ladies don't like that. Sincerely, Me"

A new cartoon from my "Daily Commute" series of comics about being catcalled 
"Dear Man in the parking lot who asked me if I like to party and then tried to win me over by spraying me with Ed Hardy perfume when I said, 'Not with you,' 
Ladies don't like that.
Sincerely, Me"

15 November 2013

Roundup Zine

Oh hey, I just realized my little bit of prose ("Trashy Diva") is in The Roundup Writer's Zine: The Moonshine Edition. Check it out. www.roundupzine.com

14 November 2013

The Origin of Red

Red started out as a hankering in Little Momma’s gut—a hankering for revenge in the form of a fuck, come to fruition in a gas station bathroom at 3 a.m. on a Sunday with the help of a frisky gas station attendant Red’s momma seen once or twice up at Bud’s Tavern smoking cigarettes and shooting pool.
Little Momma was the capricious type. Sometimes she spent all day curled up on the couch, thumbing through Babies ‘R’ Us catalogs, cooing longingly, a momma hen keeping her egg warm. But other days you’d find her out on the back porch in one of them plastic beach chairs half-asleep, menthol cigarette burning between her lips, cap missing from the half-finished bottle of Captain Morgan resting at her pedicured feet. “I’m gettin’ this thing outta me,” she’d holler. (“This thing” being Red.) “I’m callin’ the Clinic tomorrow.”
But she never got around to calling the Clinic, and months later Red ripped through her like the tiny rocket that she was.
Little Momma thought she might give Red up for adoption, but she couldn’t— wouldn’t—after she’d held all five-pounds of Red, her premature, soft pink flesh and blood, to her bosom.
Little Momma named her little baby Collette Jolene McCutcheon, but that didn’t matter because everyone only ever called her Red.
Red was a healthy baby, mostly. Tiny and bubblegum-colored with a tuft of fiery hair and a strong grip for something so little.
She never did have ten fingers, though. Nor did she have ten toes. She had six digits on each hand and foot and each digit was stuck to the next with a soft, veiny webbing.
Her eyes were funny. Bright blue, milky around the edges. Daytime was too bright for Red. Little Momma suspected it was because she was born at night.
Down Red’s back a growth, which most would call a tail, hung between her legs. It grew as she did, and as she got older she learned to control it. She swished it behind her when she walked, and it could be kind of sexy if you were into that kind of thing—girls with tails. More people like it than you might imagine.

10 November 2013

Interview with C. A. Mullins, Author of Klondike Oddjobs

C. A. Mullins is a poet and storyteller from Missouri who has travelled all over the United States and through many other parts of the world. Most recently, he spent several months in Alaska. Mullins went to Alaska after getting a job with a company that primarily made its money entertaining cruise ship tourists but was fired over certain “creative differences” with his boss not long after arriving. Essentially stranded in a freezing alien land, Mullins found other ways to make money and pass the time in Alaska, which he has written about in his latest book, Klondike Oddjobs. Mullins’ writing has all of the fanciful strangeness of Alice in Wonderland but often touches on darker themes—drugs, drink, alienation—not unlike the stories of Denis Johnson.
Mullins' book was released this morning, Sunday, November 10, 2013 and is available to the public for free at www.sarcasticbottlecap.com. On this website, there is also an extended version with 30 pages of bonus material available for the price of one tall pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. So, if you enjoy Mullins’ writing and want to buy him a coffee, you can fund the caffeine buzz he’s going to need to finish the other four writing projects he’s currently working on. Also, he's scheduled to begin his U.S. book tour for Klondike Oddjobs soon, though specific tour dates and locations are still to be decided. 
I had the privilege of reading Klondike Oddjobs on early release, and yesterday got a chance to exchange a few words with Mullins about what writing this book was like for him.  

A. E. Urchin: I know that travel is a big part of your life, especially your creative life, and that for over the past few years you've visited many places. How has travel shaped your writing; in particular, how did this trip to Alaska affect you, and why did you choose it as the subject of this book?

C. A. Mullins: Exploration puts me into a state where everything is fresh and new. Every time I've started a different life with different characters, I've felt like there were suddenly millions of new possibilities, like anything can happen. And as I write, it helps me narrow down those possibilities into one very specific story. I actually didn't even realize I was writing this book until I had already written about a quarter of it. Mostly, these were just stories that I wanted to tell, and they just happened to fit together nicely. Alaska itself was strange to me. There was a lot of drama, and less isolation than one would expect. Like, when you live in a small town and everyone knows your secrets. It was fascinating, and I wanted to share that fascination.

AEU: Do you think you'll ever go back to Alaska?

CAM: I do think I'll go back, though I haven't decided if I'll be spending such a long time there again at any point. I'm planning a national poetry tour and I'd really like to do some readings of this work up there.

AEU: When I was reading Klondike Oddjobs, I actually felt that it captured a lot of strange truths about living in America, not just specifically Alaska, was that something that you intentionally did as a writer or was it more something that happened naturally?

CAM: Skagway, the town I was living in, has the weirdest subset of American culture. In the summer, it's completely dominated by greedy tourists who are there one day and gone the next, and by the people who are there to serve those tourists, whose presence feels even more fleeting because you have the time to get to know them before they vanish. Living in Skagway is very much like living in a gigantic shopping mall that just happens to be surrounded by beautiful, untouched wilderness. It makes you feel really big and really small at the same time. The comparisons that can be made with American life as a whole definitely came naturally, but I was acutely aware of them. Alaska during the tour season is America on steroids.

AEU: You wrote a lot, if not all, of this book while you were actually traveling and working the jobs that you've written about, so I wanted to ask what it means to you to be personally oriented on the page at a moment when so much was happening in the world around you, especially in a foreign place that you were still exploring?

CAM: I actually did write a lot of the poems and stories in the book as they were happening to me. A good example of this is the poem "I Am Trapped Under a Gazebo in the Pouring Rain in Bear Country," which was written while that exact situation was underway. I think writing while doing gives me the chance to explore my thoughts and emotions in the moment, in a way that's harder to do when you're looking back. It was exciting for me, because while I was writing Klondike Oddjobs, I had no idea how it was going to turn out, and I just had to trust that the right things would happen to me to make the book as interesting as possible. And thankfully, in a place like Skagway, interesting things happen without much effort. Admittedly though, I do regularly go out of my way to make things happen to me just so I can write about them, which is exactly why I wound up in Alaska in the first place. It was a bit disorienting at times though. There were days when I felt like I had to leave parties, stop doing what I was doing, just so I could write it down. When you've got a good line in your head, there's nothing that can keep it from coming out. There were some good portions of poems that I originally wrote as text messages to friends just so I wouldn't forget them, because too much was going on all the time.

AEU: What, besides travel, inspires you, as a writer? Who are your biggest influences?

CAM.: I'm especially inspired by interactions with people. Nearly everyone I've ever come across exists somewhere as a character, or some portion of a character, in some bit of fiction. Psychology is a big part of my writing. What makes people act the way they do. A lot of times I have trouble understanding people's actions, and so when I write a character, using real people helps me analyze what makes them tick. As for influences, I did a great deal of reading in Skagway. If there's any one writer who influenced this book more than any other, it was Richard Brautigan, who gets a namedrop in this book. His work was so disconnected from what was considered mainstream literature at the time. It makes me hopeful when I read him. That if a book like Trout Fishing in America can end up as a cult classic, maybe all hope isn't lost for an offbeat writer like myself. Some other authors I read in Alaska: Antoine de St-Exupery (there's supposed to be an accent on that last e, but I don't know how to do it on this keyboard), Cormac McCarthy, Bret Easton Ellis, David Sedaris, Hemingway. Lots of Hemingway. And lots more Richard Brautigan.

AEU: Though I feel that your writing could oftentimes be described as whimsical, there's actually a lot of pain in it. The worlds you create are funny but also dark. What are your feelings about this pain and darkness? Do you view them as positive things as well as negative things?

CAM: I think pain and darkness are necessary side effects of whimsy. Two sides of the same coin, as they say. In order to live a whimsical sort of life, you've got to make a lot of sacrifices. I've lost friends to my adventures. I have family members who say horrible things about me behind my back because I'm the kind of guy who disappears to work for a summer and write a book in Alaska, instead of settling down, getting a boring desk job, etc. And no adventure ever turns out to be exactly how you want it to be. You go out looking for some wild, funny thing, and you end up nearly getting mugged in London, or sleeping on the street in Bellingham, Washington (both things that have happened to me.) It's a theme I've explored a lot, and on a lot of different projects, because it always seems to have its way in the real world. Some sort of bizarre karma balancing effect. I like to think I'm good at seeing the humor in that pain though. Like, yeah, I got into this shitty place because I thought it was a good idea to run off to (insert place here.) Whimsy and despair are the cause and effect of my life. And yes, it's worth it.

AEU: Now that you've finished this book, how do you see it fitting into your life? Do you plan on starting any new projects soon?

CAM: Well, I do intend on touring with a lot of this material, doing bizarre and unconventional sorts of readings at strangers' house parties and street corners. As for the themes, I mean, I certainly learned a lot in Alaska, but I can't say just yet where I might go with those lessons. As for new projects, I'm planning on writing a similar book during my tour, with the working title Velociraptor Cockfighting, with one poem or story written in every town I visit. I'm also working on a new novel, called How To Cook Like a Single, White, American Man: My Life With Fido or Spot. It's about a man and his Shih Tzu as they struggle together through bachelorhood. It's got characters with names like The Eponymous Man, That Mormon Psychiatrist, Archibald the Talking Pancreas, and Mellon Collie Smashing Pumpkins Dog. And of course Fido or Spot, one character with no particular name at all. It'll explore some of the same themes as Klondike Oddjobs, along with the hypocrisy of Puritanical values, relationships, and growing up. And hopefully, it'll be funny.

AEU: One last question. You have an interesting dedication page in your book. It reads: “THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO EITAN MORSE. Look at me now, asshole.” Can I ask, who is Eitan Morse?

CAM: Eitan Morse was my boss at the first job I had in Skagway (which lasted about a month.) We didn't exactly get along. He was an Israeli military officer and I was that pot smoking slacker who only showed up when it was absolutely necessary. Something was just not right between us from the start. One day, me and a friend who was technically 20, just about a month before his 21st birthday, were walking away from the liquor store with huge black bags filled to the brim and Eitan just happened to drive by. Let's just say he wasn't happy. I already knew he didn't like me and there were rumors going around that the company had hired too many people for the summer and was getting ready to lay people off, so on my next work day, I climbed a mountain and screamed "fuck you, Eitan" from the top. It was liberating, and thankfully, it was easy to find a new job with a boss who wound up being like a family member to me. Alaska is full of drama. Even if some of it is self-inflicted.

09 November 2013

The Daily Commute

Thinking about turning my experiences going to and from work in New Orleans into a short collection of comics:

Giant man: Damn gurl, what I gotta do to get in there?
Me: Well, there's actually no "there" to get into. I don't have a vagina. Sorry.
Giant man: I know you not tellin' me you a dude. 
Me: No, I just don't have genitals. Boating accident when I was a kid. Long story.
Giant man: So, I can't get in there then?
Me: Yeah, no, it's like a Barbie doll down there. No vagina. 
Giant man: Oh… Okay. 
(Man says nothing else to me and we wait for the bus in silence.) 


Man smoking a cigarette: Hey girl, what's your name?
Me: Alice.
Man: Can I take you out some time, Alice? We could get some drinks, I could take you out, take you to The Moon.
Me: (Horrified look on face) No, I vowed never to go back to space again. It's too dangerous out there.
Man: Not like the moon moon, The Moon, that place on Tulane Avenue.
Me: HA! You think I'm gonna fall for that? Not this time! Who are you working for?
Man: Oh, you crazy, huh?
Me: You can tell your boss he'll never take me alive. (Quickly walks away, suspiciously peering over shoulder every few seconds)


Waiting for the bus. A 30something-year-old woman with a blonde buzz cut wearing men's swimming trunks and a Hawaiian shirt approaches. 
Woman: I'll trade you my outfit for that dress you're wearing.
Me: Okay.
Woman: Alright, we'll do it real quick right here. 
(She lifts up her shirt and then reconsiders.) 
Woman: J/K, I'M DRUNK!!!!!!!!
(She runs away.)
Me: (to myself) I don't know who you are, drunk swimming trunks lady, but I hope that someday you will return to me, for you made off with my heart.


So, I don't know about you, ladyfriends, but when I'm biking and a man blares his car horn at me and then shouts to inform me that he wants to lick the sweat from my body, I usually go home and fantasize about marrying him. Marrying him, learning to cook for him, bearing him a son that he adores, and then on his birthday preparing a romantic feast for him. As he joyfully stuffs his face, he'll say, "Darling, this is delicious! Is it lamb?" And I'll shake my head. "Rabbit?" He'll ask. I'll shake my head again. "What is it? It's so juicy and tender." And then I will laugh like only a completely psychotic woman can and inform him that he's eating his son.
Just kidding! I love it when men scare the fuck out of me by honking at me and then scream obscene shit at me when I'm just trying to get home.


Forgive me Lord for I have sinned. I walked outside today and found a man in an I  Jesus shirt holding a cross and a megaphone preaching. He gave me an elevator look.
Jesus Freak: Ma'am, you're going to attract the wrong kind of attention in that outfit.
Me: How do you know what kind of attention I want to attract?
Jesus Freak: Men are going to approach you for the wrong reasons.
Me: Thank god I'm a dyke then. 


To the man who pulled over on the side of the road and shouted, "I own a clothing line, and you girls look like you could be my models," to my friend and I as we walked to her bike: You interrupted an excellent conversation about the objectification of women.


Dear man in the parking lot who asked me if I like to party and then tried to win me over by spraying me with Ed Hardy perfume when I said, "Not with you,"
Ladies don’t like that.
Sincerely, me


The Public Transportation Diaries 

8:40 Have arrived at bus stop 10 minutes early. Today will be a good day.
8:45 Maybe the bus will even come early and then I'll be early for work and everything will be wonderful.
8:50 Bus should be coming any time now.
8:51 Any time now...
8:52 Any time now............
8:55 Maybe it isn't coming at all.
8:56 Maybe the buses just aren't running today at all. Maybe it's a holiday that I don't know about.
8:58 (brief google search) No holiday, maybe there's been some sort of horrible national tragedy.
9:00 Maybe this is the apocalypse.
9:01 Maybe I should ask someone.
(looks around for someone to ask, no one is around)
9:03 Oh god, this is the apocalypse. Everyone is dead. What am I gonna do?
9:05 If I use that branch there, maybe I can break the window of that hardware store and get tools for the apocalypse.
9:06 I'll need nail guns, duct tape... How am I gonna carry this? Maybe they'll have wheelbarrows...
9:10 I should just take everything I possibly can so I can use it for weapon making and bartering for food later.
9:12 Maybe it would be better to break into the Walgreens first. They have medicine and food.
9:13 But what if there are armed people in there? I need weapons first.
9:14 But what if there are armed people in the hardware store?
9:15 There will probably be saws on hand. I can just grab a saw and it'll be fine.
9:16 How heavy are chainsaws? Do they need to be assembled?
9:17 May need to work on upper body strength before I attempt to wield a chain saw... Push ups!
9:18 (Bus arrives) Oh thank god.

Writing Contest/Journal Submission Advice

So, if you're the kind of person who enters writing contests or submits to journals, here's a short guide that I just made up to assist you in your literary endeavors as someone who's read a decent number of contest and journal submissions in her time:

1. If your story is single-spaced and/or in an unusual font and/or unreasonably long, here are a list of things that I will likely do to procrastinate reading your submission (no matter how awesome a story it may be): give my cats baths, go to the DMV and have my license renewed even though it doesn't expire for 2 years, clean the grout in my bathroom with a toothbrush, give other people's cats baths, reorganize all of the things in my pantry alphabetically and then by size and then by color, learn to reupholster furniture/reupholster all of my furniture, give my cats baths again because they've probably gotten dirty again by now. When I finally start reading your submission, I will be tired and cranky from all of the procrastination chores I was forced to do, and I will want so badly to not be reading it that I probably won't even get through the first page of it before deciding that I hate it.

2. Proofread your submission. At least proofread the first page. If you are illiterate, extremely lazy, or otherwise incapable of proofreading your work but still for some reason feel that writing is your true vocation, hire someone to proofread your work or have a friend do it. If you're too shy to have someone edit your work because you don't want them to judge you for not knowing the difference between "your" and "you're" but for some reason are not too shy to submit your work to literary journals and contests where strangers will read and judge your work, keep in mind that I, stranger judge, do not know you, I do not love you, and I will not forgive your misspelling of "there" because I don't know that you're really funny and a nice person and that you volunteer at a homeless shelter in your spare time and that you didn't finish college because you had to take care of your grandmother who was dying of lupus. I am judging you HARD. But I'm not judging you for your poor grasp of the English language; I am judging you because you're an idiot who doesn't appreciate that total strangers are taking time out of their days to read your shitty story enough to at least read it over before excreting it into a Word document and sending it out into the world.

LETHAL WEAPON 5: TSA, a True Story

(Setting: St. Louis airport, security line, every few people are having their bags checked extra thoroughly, I get selected for that, and a TSA officer takes out my keys and informs me that I can't bring my cat-shaped keychain through because it has recently been declared a lethal weapon in the state of Missouri, he tells me that they're going to confiscate it and file a report and then I can go get on my plane, I am waiting next to two other TSA officers, a male and a female, for a cop to come and sign the confiscation form so I can be on my way, as promised.)
Male Security Guard: Do you live in St. Louis?
Me: No, I'm just here for the weekend for my grandma's funeral.
Male SG: Oh. Sorry.
Male SG: Why did you have this keychain on your keys anyway?
Me: I live in New Orleans.
Female SG: (Seriously) That's a very good reason to have that.
Male SG: Why? You don't feel safe there?
Female: It's a dangerous city. Women are attacked there probably more than anywhere else in the country.
Male SG: Oh… Well, where'd you get it?
Me: Well, my cousin got it for me in Missouri, but they have them in grocery stores in Louisiana. They sell them all over.
Male SG: Well, you shouldn't ever let an attacker close enough to you to use this thing anyway.
Me: Excuse me, *LET*? You think that women just *LET* attackers walk up to them? No, one second a dude is asking you for a dollar and the next he grabs you and tells you he's going to take you home. Women don't just *LET* people attack them.
Male SG: That happened to you? How'd you get him off of you?
Me: I happened to have a knife in my pocket and I pulled it out and it startled him when he saw it so he let go of me for a second and then I ran away.
Male SG: Yeah, but stuff like that doesn't happen that often.
Me: Actually, men yell threatening, sexually explicit things at me pretty much every day when I bike to work or wait for the bus, but if we're talking about particular situations where a weapon might need to be used, not long after that a guy started waiting outside my girlfriend's apartment for her so that he could expose himself to her and attempt to masturbate on her when she would try to walk to her car.
Female SG: Disgusting.
Male SG: Why didn't she call the cops?
Me: She called the cops REPEATEDLY.
Female SG: Did they ever catch the fucker?
Me: Not that we know of.
Male SG: That's fucked up. No wonder y'all feel like you need to arm yourself. (Takes keychain in fist and squeezes it.) Not that you could do much damage with something like this.
Female SG: No, a big guy could easily snap that in half before she even had a chance to scratch him.
(Cop arrives to sign the report. Takes the keychain from the security guard.)
Cop: Ma'am, I'm going to have to arrest you for possession of a deadly weapon.
(Security guards try to get the officer to just file the report and confiscate the keychain, telling him I live in New Orleans where the keychain is legal and that I'm just here for a funeral and etc. but he insists on arresting me.)

(Later, in the little criminal detainment room with the cop, I am crying hysterically)
Cop: I don't understand why you're crying. It really isn't that big of a deal.
Me: Well, my grandma's funeral was yesterday. I've honestly been trying not to cry all morning. Not to mention, you're arresting me and undoubtedly causing me to have to pay thousands of dollars that I don't have for carrying a cat-shaped women's self-defense keychain that I clearly had no idea was illegal, that *is* legal in almost every state, including the one I live in, and that was legally purchased for me in *this* state. I have no criminal record. You were asked to just confiscate it and let it go by the security guards, but it was YOUR decision to go ahead and make the arrest. So yeah, you get to deal with me crying right now. Sorry to make YOU uncomfortable.
(And then we sit awkwardly in silence and wait for a long time for some other smarter cop who knows the codes for the paperwork who can tell this cop how to fill out the arrest forms because he doesn't know how.)

Sign Language

I spent all morning explaining that often words speak louder than actions to me, and then you left for the store. I told you I love you and you turned your cheek to me for a kiss and then walked out the door without saying a word.