My Google Searches Make Me Look Like a 65-Year Old Sex Offender

Writing fiction comes with certain expectations. Like: your Google searches may not look normal to the FBI.

rose otto vs. rose absolute


macarthur (yeah, as in genius grant. What?)


how to get rid of pen stains (a serious risk of the trade)

girl names


inner corner of eye

nursing home

signs of a stroke

tear duct

children’s heart defects

children’s heart holes

children’s heart monitor

how tall are 6 year old girls

lifesized barbie

doppleganger (I’m pretty sure every writer who has ever lived has googled this term)

robot sex dolls Japan

baby seat


poison tree

Just FYI, THESE ARE GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR DIFFERENT STORIES. The height of a six year old girl has nothing to do with the Japanese robot dolls!

My Morning Ritual

Several of my readers have asked me about my skincare routine and how I got such a perfect, glowing complexion that looks as though I washed it in the dews of Mount Olympus. No, my father did not have an affair with Aphrodite! At first I was reluctant to comply, but then I realized that under the Freedom of Information Act, I am legally bound to tell everyone in the entire world all the minutia of my life at all times, and skincare is no different. So without further ado, I give you…MY MORNING RITUAL.

Wake up.
Scream in agony at the thought of getting out of bed.
Ask myself, “Am I famous yet?”
Make kale juice. Choke it down.
Ask myself, “Am I rich yet?”
Wander into the bathroom and stare haggardly at my wizened face.
Warm up my Silicone-Injector-O-Matic.
Read a few chapters of Nietzsche while doing headstands.
Inject fresh, hot silicone into my lips, cheeks, forehead wrinkles, etc.
Ask myself, “What is the meaning of life?”
Answer with my eyes closed.
Get on the bus.
Squeeze between a homeless person and a cloyingly professional Man in Business Suit.
Cower in visceral hatred of humanity.
Get off bus.
Accidentally be blown into the frigid Chicago River because of 1498 mph winds.
Get fished out, half-dead.
Admire the rosy glow brought to my cheeks by the icy shock of the water.

See, it’s easy!

An Interview With Octomom

Brace thyselves.

NBC, after catching word of my crackshot interviewing skills–most notably with Barack Obama and Myself–offered me $8,000 last week to interview Octomom. I refused. They upped the offer to $80,000. I said no, shut off my cell phone, and locked myself in my apartment. They burst through the door, bound and gagged me, and dragged me in the back of an unmarked white van to an undisclosed location on the Mexican-American border, strapped me into a chair, held a shank to my side, and forced me to interview Octomom. OH, THE HORROR!

Now those sharks are forcing me to publish the transcript on my blog, because they claim that “the look of utter fear and loathing in your eyes won’t translate well through a visual medium.”


Octomom: Hi!
Me: LET ME OUT OF HERE YOU BASTA–(my yell is cut short via a slap across the face from NBC Executive).
Octomom: What’s your name?
Me: I don’t have to answer that, do I?
NBC Executive (shortly): No. Don’t be a fool, Tori.
Octomom: HI TORI!
Octomom: One of my kids is named Tori, I think.
(I shudder.)
Octomom: What’s that supposed to mean, bitch?
Me: I don’t know, why don’t you go on Oprah to cry about it?
Octomom (to NBC Exec): Are you going to let her talk to me this way?
NBC Exec: Nope. (He tasers me.)
Octomom (evilly): Hehe. He. He.
NBC Exec: You start asking questions now, Tori, or headlines tomorrow are going to read, “Nubile Young Journalist Found Dead While Escaping to Mexico to Save Failing Career.”
Me: Wow, I actually heard the capital letters in your vocal inflections. I guess that’s why you’re a big shot TV person. Wait–did you just call me a journalist?
NBC Exec: What if I did?
Octomom (tapping her fingers rapidly on the arm of her chair and grinning vacantly into space): I’m publishing a memoir!
Me (bruised and beaten): No…no…this is not happening.
NBC Exec: Hehehe. Hehe. He.
Me (staring at the dirt floor and shaking): So, um, w-what’s the b-best part of being a mom, N-N-Nadya?
Octomom (an evil smile spreading slowly across her face): That sweet baby-smell after their baths. You know, when you’ve just fished them out of the pool and–
Me: You bathe your children in the pool?
Octomom: It’s the only place they all fit.
Me: Ew.
NBC Exec: Keep asking questions. (He is now smoking a cigar and has donned a pair of dark sunglasses.)
Me: Um, how do you maintain your youthful good looks?
Octomom: I love that Henna & Placenta hair conditioner you can buy at CVS.
NBC Exec: One more question, and you’re free to go. Hehe. Hehehe.
Me (frantically swallowing the bile at the back of my throat): Tell me more about this m-m-m…m-m-em…I CAN’T!
(The shank digs into my side, drawing blood.)
Octomom: It’s an in-depth look at the struggle for, achievement of, and ultimate vapidness inherent in the American Dream. Critics are already calling it “a literary tour-de-force” and I haven’t even written Chapter One yet! Tee-hee! Oh, and it’s in second person.

I fall to the floor in a dead faint. I wake, my nostrils filled with ether fumes, on the floor of my apartment. There is a single note pinned to my shirt: Watch your step, young journalist. Sixteen baby-eyes are watching you.

Ace the MCAT! A Study Guide

This post is dedicated to Aaron, who’s not allowed to write me prescriptions. 

Doctor Clip Art: the most under-appreciated art form ever?

You’re called to perform an urgent brain surgery. WHERE IS THE BRAIN?

    1. Brain is another word for kneecap.
    2. Who needs a brain when you have a heart?
    3. The existence of a so-called “brain” is simply an urban legend. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase, “It’s all in your head”?

Uh-oh! A deadly virus is sweeping the nation. You:

    1. …thank your lucky stars that you just ordered How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse from! Thank goodness for their Free Super Saver Shipping! It should be here any day now.
    2. Perform brain surgery on everything you see.
    3. Up your daily dose of echinacea tea.

A “cadaver” is a:

  1. Best friend.
  2. Cuddle buddy.
  3. Thing you’re not allowed to dig out of the graveyard.

The “Hippocratic Oath” is:

  1. A person who says one thing and does another.
  2. On my bookshelf right next to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!
  3. Kind of like when you download iTunes and they show you that really long text in really small font and you have to click “Agree to Terms and Conditions” before they let you download it for real.

“Patients” are:

  1. Sad, weak fools that have not yet supped from the Fountain of Life.
  2. Friends to play with and touch.
  3. The Fruit of the Spirit that comes right after “peace.”

Choose the best home remedy for incontinence:

  1. Mother’s milk.
  2. Mashed avocado, honey, and yogurt, applied to the face for 10-15 minutes (5-10 minutes for sensitive skin), then rinsed off with warm water and followed by your favorite daily moisturizer.
  3. Brain surgery.

Images to Avoid in Your Seasonal Poetry

Neruda above my desk.

Best Beloved, I do not profess to be a poet. True, there is a side of me that occasionally longs to break out in metered lines and poignant metaphors–a side called EMO!–and I have been known to quote The Cure at length on Myspace, and my desk is littered with fragments of Neruda. But I am not a poet. I have, however, read enough seasonal children’s poetry to call myself An Expert.

Seasonal poetry is extremely popular in children’s literature, probably because children are very stupid and only understand basic concepts like SUNSHINE and MOMMY and COOKIE. And even these simple words won’t be processed by their slow, childish brains unless you yell them in a baby voice. “SEE THE COOKIE? MOMMY LIKES COOKIE! SUNSHINE BURNS MOMMY, SO MOMMY MUST WEAR MASK!”

If you, like most of the creepers in the world, aspire to be a famous children’s author, you’ll have to suck it up and crank out at least four seasonal poems a year. And then you’ll have to anthologize them. And then you’ll have to hire an annoying publicist who emails innocent young assistant editors like myself with NY TIMES BESTSELLER: “AUTUMN COMETH” BY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DEALS WITH COMING OF AUTUMN IN INNOVATIVE WAY. And if you want your annoying publicist to truly mean it when they say your seasonal poetry is “innovative,” here are a few images you must, at all costs, avoid.

  • Snow is not frosting, icing, sugar, or marshmallow cream.

  • Don’t compare iconic autumnal images to other iconic autumnal images. Red fall leaves are not “the burnished red of apples.” Orange fall leaves aren’t “cheerful pumpkin-orange.” Seasonal overload.

  • The hot-cold dichotomy of summer (ice cream vs. hot sidewalk, cool pool vs. hot sidewalk, chilly air conditioning vs. hot sidewalk) is great…for putting people to sleep.

  • Spring flowers are not made of fabric–organza, tulle, crinoline, silk, whatever. If they are made of fabric, you’re probably in a funeral home.

  • Sure, you can claim that the world is “waking up” in the springtime and “going to bed” in the fall. But do you really want to be responsible for feeding misinformation directly into the minds of our nation’s youth?

  • Everyone knows that the seemingly dead calm of winter is actually a tricksy special little joke, because SURPRISE! SPRINGTIME COMES NEXT AND ALL THE WORLD BURSTS INTO LIFE AND COLOR! TWEET! TWEET! There’s really no need to write about this magical seasonal conspiracy.

  • When apple trees blossom, they are NOT blushing brides dressing for their wedding morn.

  • Icy little streams should not “tinkle.” That’s what people say about little kids who pee.

  • Starlight is not “frosty” in winter, nor do stars transmogrify into fireflies in summer. Stars is stars. Fireflies are not stars. They are insects with gross insect legs.

  • The sun does not wear sunglasses in summer. (Tell that to my young self. Every picture I drew from the age of 5 until, uh, last year, featured the sun wearing major shades. What can I say? I like a hip sun.)

  • The white powder that’s sprinkled across Daddy’s broad shoulders isn’t a pile of precious shimmering snowflakes. That’s dandruff. Or cocaine.

Traumatizing Moments From My Present, Volume Three: Brains

This morning, on my way to get coffee, I saw a squirrel brained on the sidewalk.

“Brained” has always ranked high on my mental list of Grossest Words of All Time, and this real-life embodiment of the word did not fail to disappoint. First of all, dead squirrels are typically regulated to roadkill on the side of the highway…not splattered in full 3-D realism outside of Intelligentsia. Second of all, I almost stepped on it. Third of all, I hate seeing dead animals (unless they’re dead cockroaches…no wait, I hate seeing those, too, I NEVER WANT TO SEE ANOTHER COCKROACH EVER). I made an audible vomming sound, shielded my eyes, and sprinted away from the crime scene like the delicate flower that I am.

The reason this was especially traumatizing is that the squirrel’s brains were bright pink, and right before going to bed last night, I read a graphic passage in an Alice Munro story detailing–what else?–bright pink brains. May I share? A farmer walks in on his wife getting felt up by the opthamologist, who has his hand up her skirt in order to ostensibly “balance himself” as he checks her vision. Instead of saying something like, “What’s going on here, my good sir?” or “Getcher dirty hands off mah woman,” or “YOU FIVE-CENT WHORE!” the farmer–being the brawny man-of-little-words that farmers often are–BRAINS THE OPTHAMOLOGIST AGAINST THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR.

Now That’s What I Call Reasonable!

The delicate, white-haired, Canadian flower that is Mrs. Munro describes the carnage as such:

It was pink stuff, and if you wanted to know what it looked like it looked exactly like when the froth comes up when you’re boiling the strawberries to make jam. Bright pink. It was smeared over his face from when Rupert had him facedown.

After this morning, I made a few succinct edits to my life list:

7. Make homemade strawberry jam.

21. Get eyes checked.

40. Adopt a squirrel.

Types of Rejection Letters We Send Out at My Imaginary Literary Magazine


Dear Author,


The Editors


Dear Author,

Thank you for submitting your manuscript(s) to the Dot Gov Review. Unfortunately, it does not meet our needs at this time.*

The Editors

*And it never will.


Dear Author,

You repulse my soul.

Please call 1-800-DR-FREUD before ever picking up a pen again. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR.

The Editors


Dear Tori,

Wow, another straight-from-the-hip piece of literary genius! A tour de force! I know you said the New Yorker was considering this for possible publication in its “SUMMER FICTION: 1 Under 100” issue, but we would do anything–anything–to get our hands on this. Enclosed are some attractive photographs of us and a large tin of homemade rice crispy treats and some kale. WE LOVE YOUR WORK!

Yours always,
The Editors (J. Diaz, S. Dybek, and G. G. Marquez)

Casual Life Rules

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you walk down this lonely road we call Life.

1. “Susurrate” is never an appropriate synonym for “whisper.”
2. Rare is the moment in which it is advised to start a sentence with, “So, I was reading Infinite Jest…”
3. Keep your cuticles well-moisturized. This is possibly the greatest and most applicable use for the phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
4. Natural remedies work. They really do! However, flyers and/or products emblazoned with the face of a white-haired man/woman with a surprisingly young face, known as “Dr. So-and-so” and typically involving the words “miracle” and “cure” should be treated with skepticism.
5. It is near-impossible to find versions of Neruda’s poetry in the original Spanish online, unless you know what the poem is titled in the original Spanish. Googling “ode to a beautiful nude spanish” will get you only English versions where people have left comments like “sigh…LOL romantic…wish i cud read this in spanish…”
6. Sometimes, when you google things involving the word “tender” (i.e. “Tender is the Night”), you get porn.
7. FOR THE WRITERS: Sometimes it’s necessary to insert a peeing child into your story. You will feel like a pedophile. Don’t worry, that doesn’t actually makes you a pedophile (I think).
8. People were more classy when politics, religion, and sex weren’t appropriate topics for facebook statuses casual conversation.
9. You can spend all day ruminating over and/or criticizing the phenomenon of social media and its effect on today’s culture, you can delete your Facebook to make a point, you can be an unapologetic Facebook skank, OR YOU CAN HAVE A LIFE SO THAT THESE “BIG PRESSING QUESTIONS OF OUR MODERN AGE” DON’T REALLY ENTER YOUR FABULOUS AND WONDERFULLY PREOCCUPIED STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS! (Though to be honest, I’ve always been of the “delete your FB to make a point” school of thought.)
10. Please don’t blur the line between “religion” and “people.” People are not religion. Religion is not the sum of its (flawed, awkward, braces-and-acne, not-great-with-face-to-face-interviews, accidentally-hit-a-pedestrian-with-a-bicycle-once,-giving-them-a-minor-concussion-and-a-permanent-scar-just-above-the-left-eyebrow, generally-well-meaning-but-can-be-hugely-bitchy) parts. Why should you listen to me? Well, do you want to be strangled in the night? Just putting it out there. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy! (I put in the italics because I started daydreaming about myself on the stage, declaiming that line with impassioned conviction.)

11. Making fun of Hamlet is so old! He’s the whiny prince of Denmark, eh? Shut yo face, Shakespeare has yet to be rivalled and about half the idioms you use on a daily basis come directly from the genius pen of Mr. William S. and have you ever seen a play before? Theater isn’t exactly known for its convincing plot-lines, that’s just not the point! Also, HIS FATHER WAS KILLED. HE CAN SULK. This also applies to people who are like, “Ew, Romeo and Juliet are such emo teenagers! Like, stop crying about your boooyfriend! TOTES deserved to die!” 2011: The Year of No Longer Hip to Hate on Shakespeare.