Rejection Letter #54

bya Gabrielle at 11:53 AM

Ugg. That’s how I feel.  I specifically stated I was not going to be accepting any rejections via email or mailbox on my birthday, but you know what? The publishing world doesn’t care about rejecting me on my birthday. I’ll have to look back through my posts, but I think I was rejected on my birthday last year!

Time to eat a massive amount of cupcakes.  That’ll make me feel better – at least until my next rejection.

Rejection Letter #54 – Ploughshares Solos

The Ploughshares Editors

Thank you for submitting to Ploughshares. Although we will not be publishing
your work at this time and are sorry to disappoint you, please be assured
that your manuscript was read carefully by editors and trained screeners. Our
reasons for not accepting particular submissions are varied and often have
more to do with the shape of our recent acquisitions and upcoming issues than
with the quality of writing we receive. Thank you again for the opportunity
to consider your work, and we regret any delay in our response to you. We
hope you’ll continue to read and submit to Ploughshares.



The Ploughshares Editors

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bya Gabrielle at 9:38 PM

Happy Birthday to Me – the big 31!!!

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Phil Attempts to Bake a Cake

bya Gabrielle at 5:43 PM

Phil called me up last weekend and exclaimed that he had just made the world’s ugliest birthday cake and was glad to know that his mother’s love would over look it.  I was curious what the cake looked like, so I made him take a short video of it.   In my mind, I had expected it to look a lot worse.    I think Phil is right, though, he should definitely stick to computers because cakes sure aren’t his thing – even if they taste really good.

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Awesomest Cupcake EVER!!1!

bya Gabrielle at 5:16 PM

For those of you who don’t know me too well, I absolutely love Cookie Monster.  And it is not because we share a birthday or anything.  I didn’t even know we did until I wrote a paper on him in high school.  Yes, I wrote a paper on Cookie Monster.  The teacher said I could write about anyone famous.  She didn’t say the famous person had to be of the flesh!

Several years ago, my mom got me a Cookie Monster cookie cake for my birthday.  It was so pretty, I had a hard time eating it.  Well, that and the icing was super sweet. I think it was the most awesome cake I have ever had.  I’ve got a picture of it on my other computer.  I’ll try to post a picture of it later.

If anyone wants to make my year though, just send me a dozen of these cupcakes on November 2nd.  It would be the sweetest birthday present ever!  I’ll be waiting patiently for your delivery.  :)

The Noms say it all.

The Noms say it all.

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Absence in the Blogosphere

bya Gabrielle at 3:47 PM

Reasons I haven’t been posting about anything lately:

1.  Nothing interesting has happened in my life worth noting.

2.  Haven’t been on any picture escapades – although, I have more than enough memory for my camera now, thanks to Phil.  He got me a 16 GB memory card for my birthday.  Yeah, 16 GBs!! That’s almost 5000 pictures or 121 minutes of video on my highest setting!

3.  I’ve been engulfed by Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series. I’m already on book three and I just started reading a week ago.  It’s pretty decent, although at times cheesy and repetitive.  One thing is for sure, I know what I am going to wish for when I blow out all 27 candles this Sunday.  I wish Phil was a vampire. :)  He practically already is – he’s strong, pale, and comes alive at night.  Maybe I should ask him if he is one before I waste my wish!

4.  Pen pals.  I’m communicating with three girls.  One in Italy, one in Germany, and the other in Spain.

5.  I’m lazy.

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Why I’ll Never Win American Idol – Take Me Out to the Ball Game

bya Gabrielle at 12:23 PM

I was invited to my school to judge an English competition on my birthday. At the end several students and teachers sang songs. They asked me to sing, too. I don’t know any songs by heart, especially with out the music, so I sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Laugh if you will, I was just having some fun.

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Chinese Birthday Cake – Lotus Candle

bya Gabrielle at 4:26 PM

I’ve been meaning to put this up forever, but finally managed to allot myself some time last night in order to get it uploaded to youtube. It is not a fantastic video or anything, but I thought that the lotus candle was really cool. I wish we had candles like this here. (Perhaps we do, but I’ve never seen one.) They would make birthdays even more exciting.

First, the story. Then the video clip.

When I went to the cake store to buy Phil and Maya’s birthday cake, I ran into Mr. Zhou, the Foreign Affairs Director. He didn’t waste half a second to offer to purchase the cake for me when he found it why I was buying it. He pulled out several crumbled bills out of his pocket and handed it to the lady at the cash register. Talk about perfect timing. He saved me about 100 yuan. Actually, it was probably less than that, but I can’t remember exactly.

I thought that I would have to call to have the cake made in advance, like we do in here, but all I had to was point at a picture and wait 15 minutes. They already had the cake made, all they had to do was decorate it. I got to look through the window and watch as they made it, which was pretty cool. The woman who made the cake did it very quickly, like she had done a half a billion before this one. If I have to decorate a cake all fancy, it takes me hours, not minutes.

When she was all done, she handed me the cake in a box, a few plates, some folding forks, and a bag with a candle in it. And off to the party I went. It was probably one of the easiest most painless things I had ever done in China.

Of the 11 laowais living in Fuyang during my 5 months stint, we celebrated at least 9 birthdays. Toward late December, I didn’t want anymore cake. I think everyone was starting to get sick of cake. I still think it is amazing that we had a birthday to celebrate almost every two weeks.

I’ve got more stories to tell about the candle, but I will save that for a later post this week. Until then, enjoy my retarded little video. If you can see any of the room, it is our living room. Pretty big huh?

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Once Upon a Time in China Part 6: The Story of a Birthday Cake

bya Gabrielle at 11:20 AM

One evening, in Fuyang, Phil and I were invited to attend one of Phil’s student’s birthday party. For the life of me, up until 5 minutes ago, I couldn’t remember the name of this student. I’m sure that you don’t care, but it was about to drive me mad. I hate when I can’t remember stupid stuff. Anyway, the student’s name was Alan, it was his 16th or 17th birthday, I can’t recall, and he wanted his two new foreign friends to celebrate with him. We gladly accepted the invitation, of course. Alan was a good student and actually seemed like he wanted to be our friend, unlike many others who just wanted to tote us around and show us off like we were an exotic breed of dog.

Alan told us to meet him at the school gate after class. He didn’t live too far away, so we all decided just to walk to his parent’s house. When he finally got to the school gate, he looked very troubled and sad. Apparently, he had somehow lost the 200 yuan(RMB) that his parents had given him to use at KTV – Karaoke TV – later that night. He thought someone in his class had taken it, but since he didn’t have a clue who, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it. We offered to give him the money, but he politely declined. Some of his fellow classmates, who were also going to be in attendance at his party, were going to help him out. He made us promise not to tell his parents.

We first stopped by his grandmother’s house – at least that is who I think it was. She was old and they seemed related. We sat there for a while basically staring at each other. She didn’t speak any English, and our Chinese was limited – conversation was almost impossible. Alan translated a little for us. She gave us some tea, and when we were done, we walked a few more blocks to his house.

We arrived to find Alan’s father cooking in the kitchen. If I remember correctly, his father was a cook in a local restaurant, but don’t quote me on that. His parents, like his grandmother, spoke no English – besides hello. They greeted us with huge, happy smiles on their faces. Phil and I sat down on the couch and started sucking on some sugar cane that we saw cut up in a bowl on the coffee table. I always expected sugar cane to be more, well, sugary, but this kind wasn’t. I wonder what they call a coffee table in Chinese since many of them don’t drink coffee. Hrm, I never thought of that before now. :)

Phil had brought his computer with him so that he could play some American music for everyone. Music always makes a party better, didn’t ya know? Well, the music that Phil played was a bit different than what they were all used to. A lot of it was harder than the typical music played on Chinese radio. If you’ve been to China, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven’t, most of the music, at least what I heard, is very soft and slow. I’d say a lot of their songs have a rather strong lulling effect. I tried picking out some softer music for them, and they seemed to like that a bit more.

After Alan’s father finished cooking and had all of the dishes placed on the table, both of Alan’s parents said goodbye and left. I was very confused. I asked Alan why his parents were leaving, and he said something like his parents didn’t want to bother us. Phil and I shrugged our shoulders and started digging into the feast that lay before us. All and all, it was an okay dinner. I wasn’t particularly fond of any one dish. Like at most birthday parties, the one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was the birthday cake.

Birthday cakes in China are a little different from what us westerners are used to. The cake is more spongy, and the icing just tastes different. I don’t know exactly how to explain it. Also, a lot of the cakes come with fruit on it. Is it good? Yeah, it’s alright, but I still prefer the western cake a little more.

Well, soon after we polished off our table of food, someone brought the cake out of the refrigerator. In Fuyang, every time you bought a cake, you got a cool ass Lotus candle. (I’ve got a video of the one that was on my cake. I’ll post that soon.) It starts out closed up like a bud. A wick sticks out of the top. You light the wick and when it burns down, it lights all of the other wicks on fire. There are wicks on each of the petals. When all of the wicks catch a flame, It opens up like a flower blooming and sings Happy Birthday to you. It’s absolutely awesome and looks very pretty with all of the lights off. I haven’t seen anything like that here in the States before. Well, the flower bloomed, we sang, and the when started to cut the cake.

There is a tradition in my family, or rather, a cruel joke. Whenever we eat something that is mushy, like cake, ice cream, or mashed potatoes, we like to get a little bit silly. I’m sure everyone reading has probably seen it done. It goes like this. You hold the mushy substance close to your nose, smell it, make a face like it smells like something died, pick a target, and have someone come smell it for you to make sure that it really smells as bad as you say. When they lean in for the sniff you shove said substance up their nose. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh.

Well, more or less, that is what I told Alan, who had just cut himself a huge piece of cake. For a second he let the words settle in and then without any hesitation, turned and shoved the entire plate into one of his party guest’s face.

I was shocked. Phil was shocked. Everyone, especially the person that just had cake smashed into his face was shocked. And then war broke out.

The boy that had just been creamed, picked up what was remaining of the cake and threw it into Alan’s face. Alan took what was left and threw it at one the girls in attendance. Her silky black hair turned white and she started to scream. She retaliated and threw her piece back – not caring who it hit as long as it hit someone. Cake was flying everywhere. It was madness. All I could do was laugh and watch. I had tears rolling down my face. The apartment had been trashed.

“Oh, his parents are going to kill us, ” was all that I could think.

This must have gone on for several minutes before it finally calmed down. The girls had locked themselves in the bathroom – 1) to protect themselves from further attack and 2) to clean themselves up. They hadn’t looked so hot going in.

I had been smart, and saved my piece of cake. When all was said and done, I ate it.

We made sure to clean up the place a little bit. I really didn’t want his parents coming home to see what the Americans had let unfold in their absence. I’m sure they would never have been able to understand. I made a mental note to never tell a person who didn’t speak English as a first language my family’s little joke ever again. :) I found it funny that he skipped the whole, “Hey, smell my cake,” and just threw it. You really had to be there. It was crazy.

Once we had everything cleaned up, we left the apartment, hopped in a cab, and went to a local KTV to sing for the next several hours. Nothing else crazy happened that evening, besides seeing a woman fall flat on her ass as she walked over a bridge. It was old and slippery – made of marble or something like it. Poor thing broke her tail-bone I think.

And that is the story of the birthday cake. The moral of this story? Be very careful if anyone ever ask you to smell something. :)

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Happy Birthday To Me

bya Gabrielle at 7:38 PM

It’s my birthday today.
I’m 26.
I’m jobless.
Can you imagine what my wish will be when I blow out my candles on my cake?

There are few candles missing on my jpeg cake.

Today is also Cookie Monster’s birthday.
I don’t know how old he is.
My old Sesame Street calendar only tells me the date – not the year.
I imagine that he is a wee bit older than myself.
For the record, he is my favorite Sesame Street character and
I know he could beat up that little red twerp, Elmo, with his hands tied behind his back.

The coolest blue dude in the entire universe.

And for those of you who did not know – today is also the Day of the Dead(Día de los Muertos).  I guess if you can’t be born on Halloween, this is the next best day.  If you want to read more about this holiday click here.  I’d like to go down to Mexico and participate one year.  I think it would be a very interesting experience to say the least.

Day of the Dead Cat

For my birthday, I am going to veg at Phil’s parent’s lake house, where I will fish(catch and release – I know, what’s the point?) and watch She-ra until I believe that I am He-man’s twin sister and start screaming “For the honor of Greyskull!”.  She-ra was awesome.  One of these days I’m going to buy a wig and prance around town as She-ra for Halloween.

How many girls out there wanted to be She-ra when they grew up?
I know at least one.

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