Jelly Cake is fictional diary entries, dialogs, letters, and essays written by best friends Helen & Estelle from their own point of view. So one page would have an entry written like this:
I’m at the convenience store looking for a box of pierogies when I notice a girl talking to the cashier. She’s holding a can of soda to her chin. Damn, pierogies are out of stock. Pick out two boxes of knishes instead. Look for mustard. Disappointed. Only plain mustard available, no spicy. Aggravated. Put knishes back. Hunger headache growing. Stress adding intensity. Overhear the girl with the can to her chin say, “ Then she hit me.” I decide to eat out for lunch. At the register I purchase a candy bar to hold me over. I examine closer the girl’s chin. It’s colorful, swollen and bloody. I notice that her arm’s shaking. Observe closer the way that she talks, the way that she moves. I find her to be completely stunning and admire her tolerance to pain. Became overtaken by a new found clarity and calmness. I leave the store hating my insecurities, wishing that I had asked about what happened and her name. I really wanted her to join me for lunch, tell her of how I find her inspiring. How within a month, of all the people I see, she stood out the most. How she made me feel honest and caring. Damn.Why didn’t I just add spice to the mustard/ Why didn’t I think of offering her a home cooked meal/ Why don’t I ever cook myself a home cooked meal/ Why am I so afraid/ Why am I so
unsure/ Why can’t I get my apartment to look as cool as I want it to/ Why don’t I spend more time on it/ Why do I buy things in phases/ Why is it that I go from wanting everything I own out in sight to having everything put away/ Why can’t I be more like
Estelle/ Why do I feel like I’m not growing up/ Why do I hate business hours/ What about success do I fear/ How come spending $20 pains me more than spending $2,000 dollars/ Why do I become overwhelmed and stressed when I receive a huge check as opposed to a check that barely pays the bills/ Why do I waste so much time.
or like this:
I Decided to find a second job today. Got one at a recycling plant. Paid $8.75 an hour. Found myself sexy for wearing a jump suit. With an incredible amount of confidence I sorted glass. Flirted with the idea of keeping this new persona/ One who easily fits in with subway riders/ Taking up two seats when I sit/ Feeling superior to those who wear suits/ Being able to nod to Con Edison and Transit workers in solidarity. Wished that I was able to get grease on my hands. Thought about dying my hair. Wanted for no particular reason to get braces. Got fired (I assume) for not returning after my break. Went to the library instead. Hung out until they closed. Researched old Toys R’ Us ads. Reminisced about my childhood. Thought about where I’m at in life. Decided I am cool as is. Had Estelle meet me at The Cow’s Vendetta. We bugged out then shopped in Castleton. At the Toys R’ Us we each bought a Laser Tag set. Then we chased each
other around Silver Lakes Park. Talked it up with a homeless guy. We found him to be incredibly charming and cute. He claimed to be the creator behind the idea of keeping goldfish as pets. We decided to rent him a suite at the Four Points Sheraton. It felt good to see tears in his eyes. Then we went back to Estelle’s and played Super Mario Bros. 3 until we fell asleep.
And another page would have something like this:
I’m on the Staten Island Rapid Transit. A group of high school girls are grouped together in the car I’m in. They’re loud, obnoxious and one in particular is extremely rude. As the train stops she makes fun of those that get off, “That girl looks like muppet.” As the others laugh and agree I wonder what they’ll say about me. Then I begin to feel a little bit jealous. For here I am on the train alone having nothing in particular to do or anywhere in particular to go. I’m just out and about. Checking out the girls attire plus the extreme way that they dolled their hair, I assume their destination is the Eltingville Mall. That’s when one who I figured was independent for she sat afar blurted out, “That’s so beautiful.” I wished that I was able to see what she had seen because the way she said, “Beautiful” filled my heart. I noticed the other girl’s expressions and they too felt the same. It was at that moment that I realized that they were more mature than what I could have ever imagined. At the Old Town station a business man gets on. I see him notice the girls and immediately feel his disapproval. As he stares at them I read his thoughts and see him planning out their self destroyed futures. I was floored at what came next. From his briefcase he takes out a stack of Garbage Pail Kids sticker cards. The top one matched that of which was featured on a patch one of the girls had on her school bag. Taking a seat next to her he says, “My daughter’s birthday is today and she needs cards 128a, 164a and 161b. I got duplicates of the rest including the rare 159B.” Causing my mouth to drop open the girl replied, “Holy sh*t, I’ve been looking for that card all year! We were just coming back from Eberhard’s Wish List. Here.” She takes out a stack of cards and they do an exchange. At Jefferson Ave. the man gets off and thanks the girl for being, “A savior” and making his, “Little girl’s birthday a success.”
To those girls I really hope that you’re reading this because I owe you a huge apology,
and I also wish to thank you. Lesson learned.
And the occasional guest writer like Mary:
I know this letter is quite random but geez Louise do I have a story for you.
So I’m in this hardware store buying some spray paint because, oh wait, you don’t even know that do you? Geez how long has it been? Let’s see, we started dating in 19** and we were together for what? Two, yeah, lets say two years. That would be, damn, three years ago. I’m going to have to bring you up to speed. So the guy I cheated on you with, Anthony, was a huge art gallery freak. You would never tell by looking at him. He seemed more like a rent from the video store on every Tuesday night kind of guy. You know to get all the hot new releases first. Oh, wait no, I cheated on you with Salvatore. Was it? Yeah, because you questioned how you left that bite mark on my chest and Salvatore had buck teeth. Okay, so Salvatore was this huge art gallery freak. But he looked as if he collected dime prizes from mid west state fairs. Anyway, he took me to a gallery that was showcasing “Graffiti Art.” Estelle to tell you that I was knocked
completely on my a** is an understatement. Now graffiti to me was some idiot’s alias scribbled on the wall. But what I saw that night Estelle was so freaking amazing. I knew right then and there that I had found my outlet to voice my everything. So I
traded in Salvatore for a can of spray paint and a blank canvas. Kissed him goodbye along with every crutch I used men for and never looked back. Now three years later I find myself happy, busy and supporting myself with my work. Which finally leads me up to writing you this letter. So my art is selling well. And during one of my gallery
showings in Snug Harbor a woman by the name of Maggie approaches me and asks if I do commission work. So I said that I didn’t know and asked her what was up. Well here’s that story: She works for the Staten Island Hospital. She’s like the administrative director or something. Anyway, I’m sure you heard about P.S. 20 and the horrible fire that took place there. Well the bulk of the 187 severely burned children wound up going to The Staten Island Hospital. And they were expected to stay there for
some time, obviously. So Maggie with the help of some donation money asked if I would be willing to paint each of the children’s rooms to their specifications. This was to take away some of the monotony of them just having white walls and circular juice cups
with foil lids. Immediately I said f**k yeah! And as far as payment goes F**K NO! And I am so happy I got that opportunity. Estelle I wish you could have seen those kids eyes light up when they came into their newly painted rooms! So before they were placed into their temporary rooms I had gotten the chance to meet them. We told them that I was an agent for the hospital and I was doing routine check-ups on their happiness. I asked about their birthday wish lists and what they wanted the most is what I painted.
So I painted a lot of cartoon characters, video game characters, ponies, Barbie (painted atomically correct), comic book heroes and credit cards. Do you believe that? Kids these days want credit cards. I wish I knew to ask for that when I was their age. Maybe my parents would have gotten me those containers of fake atomic goo that I really wanted. So for those I painted huge mansions and big cars - Big swimming pools and huge home entertainment systems followed by the words, “Follow your dreams.” Estelle it was so awesome and magical! So needing to stock up on supplies I hit up the hardware store, where for some who knows why reason they were selling salt and pepper shakers. Salt and pepper shakers in the form of potatoes which were one set and tomatoes another set. Which reminded me of that story you wrote, “Potato vs. Tomato” which now puts a new spin on my life. Okay, remember me telling you how I traded in Salvatore and the crutches for some paint and a canvas? Well at the time I did not see the crutches. I knew dating him at the moment felt completely wrong, like how I knew dating you was completely wrong. But I never knew why it felt wrong. I only knew that relationships gave me comfort and purpose. So I dated a lot and dating became my thing. All the way up until that night at the graffiti art exhibit. Than I traded in one for the other. But I was still unclear as to why I fell so in love with graffiti. The part about me finding my outlet to voice my everything ... That too came later. It all came together when I was looking at those damn salt and pepper shakers, for they reminded me of what you said ...“See this that I wrote? It’s called Potato vs. Tomato. I was bored when I wrote it because you weren’t around. And I was severely missing you. But I didn’t want the negative of missing you to over power the positive of me being in love with you. So I wrote this to cheer me up. Basically it served as a means to fill the void while keeping me in touch with what matters most - Me loving you instead of you not being here for me. Get it?”Now I get it. You wrote not only because you missed me but because you were trying to school me. You were trying to tell me that as soon as I find myself I will be able to love myself. And loving yourself means not being afraid to express yourself. And once you begin to express yourself will you be able to understand yourself. And once you understand yourself you find ways to give of yourself. Because now you are no longer afraid of getting hurt. “Me loving you instead of you not being here is what matters most.” Estelle you truly are a wonderful person. God I hope this makes sense. It did for me at the hardware store that’s all I know. If this makes no sense at all just know this:
I just want to thank you so much for trying to do what you did. You are so smart and talented sometimes it takes others to catch up with you.I didn’t appreciate you then but I do with all my heart now. I hope this finds you in complete happiness.
Although Jelly Cake is told in a non-linear, genre changing, mutli-narrative fashion, what holds it together is the friendship between Estelle and Helen.
After watching Inside the Actor’s Studio ...
Lets do the Bernard Pivot questionnaire. What’s your favorite word?
It’s a toss up between collection, hobby and convention.
What? You’re the most unconventional person that I know.
No, like in comic-con.
What’s your least favorite word?
Debt, money, financial responsibility, financial management.
What sound or noise do you love?
The heavy click-clack sound that an elevated train makes. Especially
when you’re standing underneath one. Or the cracking sound that the
wooden barriers make when the ferry bumps into them.
What sound or noise do you hate?
The weak moaning sounds that old people make in nursing homes. De-
pressing. Or the deep clipping sound that’s made when you bite your
nails. Arrgh, it’s so disgusting. It makes me gag. (sticking out her
Give me a break. What profession other than your own would you like
Librarian or an elevator repair specialist.
Yeah. An elevator repair specialist with a blue uniform and a big white
name tag sewn into my left shirt pocket with red lettering ...
I could see that, with you bringing a metal Rowdy Roddy Piper lunch
box to work with a package of choc-o-diles in it.
... Or possibly a zoo keeper. So that I could lock up that pesky peacock
Still not funny. What wouldn’t you want to do?
Work at a pawn shop.
What? Why not? That’s an awesome idea! Someone over extends their
credit and now needs to put food on their table, so what happens?
They’re willing to sell their dvd player for ten dollars. Ten dollars in
which I would be happy to give them out of my own pocket. Heh, heh,
heh. I would be able to fully furnish my apartment with all of the latest
gizmos for dirt cheap. How awesome would that be?
So you would take advantage of people’s unfortunate circumstances?!
Yeah. Unfortunate circumstances that they put themselves in! You’re so
sympathetic towards them because you can relate! Hypocrite! Where’s
your bleeding heart when you shop at the second hand video game
Because those were old and beaten games that had merely gotten traded in
for the newer ones.
Which has always been the case with you right? There you go again
turning situations around to fit your distorted perceptions and ideologies?
You know bending the truth in order to convince ... (laughing harder) I
don’t know. Sh*t, What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Jelly Cake is FREE for ALL LIBRARIES and not only do I ACCEPT zines for TRADE but I PREFER them.
Here are all the issues, all of which are currently available:
Jelly Cake: A New Beginning
All Out Pointless, Random & Mundane. Stew!
Jelly Cake: Fully Achromatic
Jelly Cake: Blueberry Marinade (Bonus Issue)
Jelly Cake: Canned Diced Bananas in Heavy Corn Syrup (Bonus Issue #2)
Jelly Cake: Full Boogie Retrogress