Monday, December 26, 2016

Because I Don't Have Enough Stuff To Worry About Already

A thing I started noticing about myself (after the fact, so of course there is guilt):


When people say, "Have a good evening," as we're leaving work, or they give me some holiday greeting at the store, 8 times out of 10, I just say, "Thanks," go on with my day, and don't return the greeting.


Is this a thing I'll go to hell for? It better not be. After all the shit I've pulled in my years, to burn for all eternity over some bullshit instead of the *real* sins of my past would be incredibly disappointing.


My coworkers are not required to tell me to have a good night, they're just nice like that.


But let's face it: If "nice" becomes a requirement for getting paid, I am screwed.


I suppose I could make it a habit to always return the greeting, whatever-the-fuck it is, but damnit! WHY do I have to pretend to care if my co-worker has a good evening, just because they're pretending to care if I do?


Is "Have a nice day" an act of aggression? Sure feels like it sometimes.


The other day, I was at a dollar store and the clerk who was ringing us up was all in everyone's face with the "Merry Christmas" like she was trying to start a fight with a liberal.


As a "real" liberal, not the phony kind they describe on Fox News, I was too smart to take the bait. Also, I don't care if people say Merry Christmas. Because I'm a real liberal.


I may not be passionate about "the reason for the season," but I'm also so completely indifferent to it that I don't give a fuck if you say Merry Christmas instead of Happy...Generic Whatever.


You be you, and all that.


A lot of people just say a mindless, "You, too!" when someone insists that the rest of their day be wonderful and special.


I've done the, "You, too!" thing as a response, and more than a couple of times found myself looking like an ass saying, "You, too!" after the person *didn't* say "Have a nice day!"


"Hey lady, you forgot your card in the chip reader!"

"You, too!"

DOH!


Anyway...if you could all just tone down the aggressive pleasantries, that would be great. You've got shit to do. I've got shit to do. Nobody wants a war.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas: Fake It Til You Make It

How easy is it to get into a funk on Christmas Eve?


Very.


It doesn't matter if tomorrow I'll be sitting at dinner with my kids, and doing all the things we usually do on Christmas day. It doesn't matter if I'll be driving out to see my parents and siblings next week. Today, I was alone.


And I look around the house and think that this place looks like someone lives here who doesn't give a shit.


I didn't decorate for Christmas.


I had good reasons.


Several.


All of those reasons were perfectly valid 2 weeks ago, and, they are still valid now.


I didn't think it would weigh on me, but, weirdly, having not decorated might be the thing that pushed me into a funk.


I go for walks in the evening, in the neighborhood, or at the mall (because I'm old) and you know what? It's beautiful. All of the trees lit up, and the way everyone has suddenly decided to decorate so tastefully this year (for a change)...it looks lovely.


Even though I think it's mostly bullshit, it is beautiful.


I don't think giving gifts is bullshit--I like that part. I don't care about getting them, but I do love giving them. I like seeing everybody and spending time with the people I love. All of that stuff is nice--what I think is bull is probably the same stuff you think is bull: Frantic retailers in a panic, using a sales pitch that seems to imply that you HAVE TO buy the most ridiculous shit (all made in China) because your Christmas won't be happy without it, or, every single charity in your town reminding you that it is the season of giving, so give, already, or, the whiny people who think there is a "War on Christmas" even though we spend literally 2 months out of the year talking about almost nothing but Christmas.


You know...the usual.


Also? We've all been in a bit of a funk beyond the usual seasonal funk--that's a very real thing. It's been a tough year for many of us. Fucking David Bowie died, OK? That's how 2016 STARTED. And it did not get better.


I guess we need a little Lovely, to soften the crap of the season. We need to make it pretty and dress it up. We need lights that twinkle and a little tree to put gifts under, and we need Grandma Gertrude's antique red and green table runner on the table. (Side note: I never met Grandma Gertrude. She was my husband's mother, who died before he and I ever met. But I have her table runner, for some reason, and damnit, it's mine now.)


So guess what I'm doing? Alone in my house, on Christmas Eve? Even though it's ridiculous...?


I'm putting up my little Christmas tree.


I'm putting up my tree even though I'm alone and when people come over to open presents tomorrow, they'll be here for all of a couple hours and probably won't care one way or the other.


It's all of 4 feet tall (if even) and there honestly isn't any room for any presents under there unless it's just a bunch of little blue boxes from Tiffany, or something, so, I'm gonna stack them around the tree like I've been building that pile for months, even though I literally just wrapped all of them today.


Fake it til you make it...right?


But seriously, folks....


I'm OK.


Some people are not OK.


Some people don't have anyone coming over tomorrow.


Some people can't fake it til they make it. They've got mental health or addiction issues, or their families don't accept them, or they have no home, much less a fucking Christmas tree.


That's not me trying to shame you (or myself) into feeling bad about being in a funk at Christmas when you have a roof and food and your health. That's just me saying, be kind to yourself tonight. Be kind to others.


We live in a time where we all have our own little personal shows to produce on Facebook or Twitter and Instagram--the shows that have us looking pretty and holding it together all the time. Even people who take bad pictures of their food are happy with the food. Good for them. But it's all for show. That fabulous, badly photographed feast maybe blew their whole food budget for a week and they got into a fight with their spouse over it, but that stuff isn't online. Just the good stuff is showing.


So know that nobody is perfect, despite how well-produced their little online show is.


And understand that you're OK.


And if you need someone to talk to, let's talk.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Flake-y

I am a typical Minnesotan and so, I make jokes every winter about the misery of shoveling snow.
 
 
Poor me. Outside in the cold. Shoveling. Hard work. My arms are Jello. I can barely lift my beer.
 
 
Honestly?
 
 
I enjoy shoveling snow. I might even love it. It's my flaky little secret.
 
 
Don't tell Mother Nature. Too much of a good thing isn't necessarily a good thing.
 
 
There is something about a winter activity. Maybe I just like the high tech clothing...? I mean, somebody had to design the stuff that keeps me sweating when it's 5 degrees outside. My coat is a marvel of layers and linings and pockets and zippers and hooks. I have shirts and pants specifically designed to be an under layer (because wicking is a thing) and I have fully lined over-layers. I have three different hats for "not too bad" days and a one trusty hat for "better wear the good hat" days. Ditto for gloves. I own a thing called a Turtle Fur Gaiter. I own Smart Wool socks and three different kinds of footwear made not for fashion, but for being out in the snow. We can be ugly out there, because it's ugly out there.
 
 
I often joke that the state motto of Minnesota should be changed from "Étoile du Nord" to "It's not cold, you're underdressed."
 
 
Northern people also have the bragging/martyr thing we do where we talk about how much snow we moved all by our damn selves. We post pictures of snow banks where our driveways are supposed to be, and later, post pictures of the shoveled out driveway.
 
 
I have, on this very blog, posted a picture of me standing outside in my cold weather gear, with barely any skin showing, drinking a Schell's Chimneysweep. I had spent hours digging out from a major snow storm in Duluth and I earned that damn beer. In fact, a major part of our motivation that day was digging out the driveway enough to get a car out...to go to the liquor store. We achieved that, then came back and finished the rest, which took another 2-3 hours using both a snow blower and a shovel.
 
 
Mother Nature does not mess around.
 
 
There are people who live here who aren't into it as much as I am. I remember a few winters ago, there was a lady who lived across the street from us who had a job as a cheerleader for the Minnesota Vikings. We had a bad storm, lots of snow, and there was a guy with a truck outside, helping pull people out of their parking spots because the snow plows had basically buried their cars. That cheerleader was his girlfriend, and she was there with him, talking to people about the snow, as you do. He was wearing Carhartt from head to toe. She was wearing skinny jeans with stylish fuzzy boots and a white puffy vest over a long sleeve t-shirt. She had on these really great hand-knit white mittens that I remember well.
 
 
Guess which one of them had to spend most of their time inside the truck to keep warm?
 
 
Hey, if I could get away with it, I'd do that, too.
 
 
On second thought, nah...I don't think I would.
 
 
I am a big fan of the ta-dah. I like taking on a task that looks brutal, quietly doing all the work and then saying, "See what I did all by myself? Ta-Dah!" Fairly typical of a Look-At-Me personality like mine.
 
 
You get a particular kind of ache in your body when you do a strenuous outdoor activity in the winter--coming in from the cold, you feel wiped out but it feels good somehow. As your body warms up and you're easing yourself into a chair or a hot bath, the creaking and moaning noises you make are a sign of a job well done, or time well spent.
 
 
Beyond that, though...I like the fact that it's an activity I usually do by myself because I get a lot of thinking done. Owing to the short winter days, it's often nighttime when I'm outside and there is no other sound except the shovel finding the concrete, or my feet crunching the snow. The conversations I have in my head are enlightening, and the repetitive nature of the work is meditative.
 
 
Yes, I dare say I enjoy it.
 
 
Don't worry, though. I'll still make noises like I hate it, so they don't revoke my Minnesota residency--you have to pretend winter annoys you or they look at you funny around here.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

IRL

Most thinking people have a love/hate thing with social media, and I'm no exception.


I like it because it reminds me a lot of my radio days--a little microphone I can pop on, say some smart-ass comment and then shut off again.


When I did that in radio, it would generate phone calls and/or ratings--now, it appears, the goal is to generate "likes" or hearts or whatever. Both of those things affect me equally. In radio, I got good ratings and the station owner made a lot of money. On Facebook, I'm sort of funny and Mark Zuckerberg makes a lot of money.


You're welcome, both of you.


It's fairly easy to generate responses--I've been doing that my whole professional life, and if I'm being honest, I will admit that I do it for fun in my non-professional life sometimes, too. Kick the hornet's nest when things seem boring--you probably won't die, unless you're living a real life version of the movie My Girl.


The slight difference is that radio is local (or at least the radio stations where I worked were local) and social media is world wide. You have to be a bit more judicious with your kicking when you're kicking the globe.


To narrow it somewhat, and to prvide a haven for myself, I treat Facebook as "local" and only have people that I know in real life as friends there, with a few minor exceptions. You'll be inspected if you send me a friend request (I virtually never take the first step and 'friend' anyone because I'm a horrible person and I don't care, plus, all my good friends are already there, so why do I need more?) If you friend request me on Facebook, I will start by looking at your profile to make sure you aren't a RWNJ--zero tolerance for that. This is why I ignore a vast amount of friend requests from cousins of mine. I'll also think about who you know that I know--it has to be somebody that I like. If we have nobody in common, you can't even reach me--not a particularly strict thing, but I don't care to deal with complete strangers on Facebook so I keep my privacy settings that way.


I admit I don't understand people with very, very private Facebook accounts. what's the point? If I felt the need for absolute privacy, I wouldn't have a Facebook account to begin with. Even stranger? The people with the fake accounts. Hell, I can't even justify one account and you have how many, under how many different names? Oof...how about none? Have you tried none?


My philosophy (Doesn't that sound impressive? Philosophy. Jeezuz...) makes Facebook the "friendly" place for generic G-Rated or PG-13 or PG-17 rated humor, but not much politics, which mirrors actual conversations I have with real-life friends, only the conversations we have offline (where our moms can't hear us) use the word "fuck" with much greater frequency and are probably peppered with a lot more dick jokes. We're adults, after all.


Also? Offline, we're probably drinking and yelling over each other. That's how we do.


Twitter is a bit of a different animal--at least for me. I don't know most of those people and won't ever know them, which is fine, for the most part. It's all brief interactions, like if two people who don't know each both other witness something crazy and they look at each other to make sure they actually saw what they just saw.


"ZOMG!! Did you SEE that fucking bald eagle swoop down and take that guy's toupee? CRAZY! Amirite?"


That kind of thing. Only it's mostly politics and football.


Twitter is where I link the blog because none of my family is there (except that one sane one) and some of them would pitch a fit about being called "RWNJs." Oh, I'll still call them that, but for some reason, they don't think this blog exists unless I put a link to it on my Facebook profile. Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Our little non-secret.


All things considered? I prefer the Twitter interactions. I can definitely tell how my desire to connect with like-minded people drives me to Twitter every day, and makes me stay there well past the time I should have put the phone down and done something productive, but I'm like that in real life, too. I love it when I have a connection with someone and we can talk and talk and talk. I am perfectly content to have those good conversations go all night.


I find I run into the same issue online as I do everywhere IRL--I'm more interested than other people are.


That's not to say I'm more *interesting* than other people--I'm definitely not--just that I gobble up information like I'm starved for it. 


I'm interested. Tell me more. 


Always more.


People online and people in real life--they don't have that kind of time. They have to go let the dog out. They have commitments that don't involve meaningful dialogue. They've got some TV shows to watch while they eat dinner off the coffee table and grunt barely audible noises to their mates.


You know...real life stuff.


This is not what my inner voice tells me, though. Inside my head I think, "Those lucky, beautiful people, going off to their perfect lives with their loving mates," while I sit and contemplate...stuff. And drink.


Poor me...


In truth they're probably just...watching TV while sitting behind a plateful of hotdish, but, you know how it is when you're an insecure person--in your head, everyone is having fun except you.


I saw a great quote somewhere (Online, OK? It was online. That's where I see pretty much everything.). It was, "Stop worrying about people who don't worry about you." While I'm sure the person who meme'd that thing was thinking more of false friends, I've seized it as a thing to tell myself when I get worried about social media.


Yes, I worry about social media.


Oh, I don't worry about YOU and what YOU do on social media--unless you're one of those nut jobs with fake accounts. I do worry about those people. Mostly, though, I just worry about how I'm reacting to things on social media. I think things like, "Gee, I thought that joke was funnier," or any of the dozens of other "Why don't people like me?" statements that have been bouncing around in my head since 1978.


In in real life, I don't really give a rat's ass about anybody who doesn't have my actual phone number.

In real life, I think 87% of viral videos are stupid.

In real life, I think 96% of political memes are dumb--unless they are conservative, then it's more like 99.99%.

In real life, I follow "commie lib" progressive news because that's who I am, even though I have the ability to play nice with my RWNJ acquaintances online.

In real life, I'm probably sitting in front of the TV with food, but the TV is off because I'm on my phone, switching back and forth between Twitter and Facebook, while occasionally logging in to check flights to expensive warm places, or looking at real estate.

In real life, I'm telling myself to put the fucking phone down and go outside.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Score

I grew up in Western North Dakota.


This in no way qualifies me to make any statements about the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Further disclosure: my father, for 30+ years, made a living and put food on our table by hauling crude oil in a truck. You see, the oil industry didn't just show up in North Dakota recently--it's been there for years. My parents were married in 1958 and my father started his job around the same time. He came home smelling of oil. During one of the downturns in the industry in the region, he was laid off (loyalty is a one-sided thing to a corporation) and ended up hauling farm-related things--grain, fertilizer, etc--for the last several years of his career before retiring.


When I think about, and talk about DAPL, I do it from a weird place. I'm a white woman, aged 50, raised for 18 years in a place where white people--and this is the nicest possible way I can say this--felt no need to be kind to Native American people. There were reservations around us, and those reservations were generally looked upon with disdain, at least by my parent's circle of friends. Or hell, maybe it was just my family--it's all a blur anymore. That was 40 years ago. But I do know that I've heard fine Christian women and men say things like, "nothing so useless as a drunk Indian," (that one sticks out in my head for some reason) and many other, similar things, while their friends and acquaintances nodded in agreement. This was the norm when I was growing up.


I didn't think much about this. I felt didn't have to--I was not a person who experienced it, and in typical fashion ('Merica! Fuck yeah!), didn't worry about it. I moved away from there and had very little contact with anyone who felt like that, nor anyone who was on the receiving end of that racist bullshit. I'm not sure I even recognized it as racist bullshit until one day many years later.


I was sitting at lunch at an outdoor table with three or four other women from my work. We were in Edina, MN, a "nice" suburb, where moneyed people lived, at an office building of a major corporation where we all worked. I don't remember how we got to the subject, but I remember one woman, an Indian (from India) admitted that she had seen people in her family behave in a racist way and asked if any of us had experienced any situations in our families like that.


Suddenly, I remembered. I remembered all of my youth and going to the reservation to play basketball games against their school, and their facilities were nowhere near as nice as ours so we hated to go there. We we snobs about it. I remembered the one family that lived in our town that was native, and how people had a certain opinion of them and when anyone had a positive experience with one of them, they would say things like, "He's *actually* pretty nice," as if that was not normal behavior. I remembered, for years, people saying to avoid the reservation, that it was a bad place, with bad people. I remember being shocked when I found out one of my high school classmates had moved there. I remembered the time someone quizzed my brother, a park ranger at an historic fort, about how the natives had been treated by the white people who came there to settle, and I remember him downplaying it like it was not that bad. I remembered the person who uttered the words about the "useless drunk Indian".


I remembered all of it, and I told her, "My family--and really a lot of people in that part of the state--have a real bad view of Native Americans there." I relayed some stories.


I didn't mention that I had, myself, held certain opinions. I felt myself above it--I had moved away from that life and the people who were like that. I left because I wasn't like them. I didn't feel like that.


There was the time on a morning radio show, years before that sunny little lunch in Edina, when my co-host and I were talking about obscure laws that were still on the books. It was one of those morning show bits that people drag out from time to time because it's reliably ridiculous and gets a laugh. For some reason, I decided to use that live mic to bring up an obscure law that I knew about in the state of Montana, 4 miles from where I grew up. The law states, in effect: "Seven or more Indians are considered a raiding or war party... and you can shoot them."







(That law is still on the books, by the way.)




I talked about that on the air--about how ridiculous it was. What happened after that? Well, I got into a shit storm with the local tribe who was pissed that I should say such a thing, even though I was discussing it as an absurdity. I was so angry with them for being mad at me for "nothing". After all, I was on their side, I thought. Me, the liberal lady on the morning show at a classic rock station--the exception to every other fucking person in that building, and *I* was the one being called a racist? Unreal. That one burned. I was pissed off.




So I didn't like them for a good long while. They had done me wrong, got me yelled at by my boss, blah, blah, blah.




Now, in the interest of fairness, I should mention that I didn't need their complaints to get me yelled at. I was an aggressive personality on the air--I felt I had to be, as a woman trying to carve out a place in a business where the women sounded alike, to me. Women on the radio back then had one job, and that job was to laugh at the man's jokes. I was brazen in my disregard of that. I was funnier and smarter than they were--why the fuck were they not tasked with laughing at *my* jokes?




All of this was quite controversial at a classic rock station, which is an incredibly conservative place. To add the the misery, I had a hatred for the format and no understanding of people who would listen to it--classic rock was never my thing, and honestly never will be--I'm a new music person. Somehow, I was popular enough among listeners (not too much--just enough), but the rest of the staff couldn't stand me and were happy to throw me under the bus. The boss at the time was probably itching for a reason to yell at me. Offending a major client (casino) was just the thing.




I spent an hour on the phone with a representative of the tribe, pleading my case. He was not moved. The next day I grudgingly spoke my non-apology apology ("sorry if you were offended, etc,") into that same fucking microphone and after a cooling off period, went back to my usual life of not thinking about natives. I had no opinion, and felt no reason to develop one since I was never in contact with any, that I was aware of. Fairly typical behavior for a person not directly affected by racism.




Occasionally, a thing would happen that involved natives in a clash, like when the University of North Dakota changed the name of their school mascot from The Fighting Sioux, or when some dingbat white folks at that same school had t-shirts printed up depicting, you guessed it, a "drunken Indian," in part because they didn't accept the name change. I could always see where the natives were coming from and I could empathize. My argument was always that yes, white people came here and defeated them in war, which is historically accurate, but ever since then, we've been trying to demoralize, which is completely unnecessary and cruel.




Fast forward many years, and DAPL is happening. Family and friends (all from North Dakota, naturally) on social media begin using their platform to call bullshit to the tribe, post "news" pieces about how wrong they were to be doing that they were doing, talking about how no one has any respect for law enforcement, and, well...the usual shit you see the opposition do any time there is a protest.




The local voices were saying completely different things than the national and international observers.




I sat here and said nothing at all.




Part of that was because I don't particularly believe in social media activism. Sure, I'll spout off an opinion now and again, or point and laugh at something ridiculous, but it's in the interest of conversation or telling a joke, not because I think it will make a difference. I believe the most accurate observation about social media activism is the cartoon of the plane full of "Likes" (thumbs up symbols from Facebook, in this case) arrived in storm-ravaged Haiti. Completely worthless. So I don't use Facebook in that way and don't do much or any of that on Twitter, either. I didn't "Je suis Paris", didn't do the Ice Bucket Challenge, and I have never added a flag overlay on my profile picture.




Another reason why I said nothing was because if I have learned one thing in this election year, it's, "Don't engage." Don't get into it with anyone--people who are more angry than you will rip you to shreds in a heartbeat. There are people posting other people's home address on "kill boards" and all kinds of insane shit--not worth it.




But even beyond those two usual reason, I found myself unable to lock in to how I felt about DAPL. It's one thing not to talk about it, but quite another to find yourself so disengaged that you can't pick a side.




I have no loyalty to the people who side with the oil company (save for the previously mentioned parental employment situation). I do not align with oil companies on the political spectrum. Not my thing. I do drive a car, though, and I suppose I use a a typical American amount of stuff made from petroleum products, so I'm your basic hip-hip-hippy-hypocrite. This doesn't mean I have to like the fact that they seem to do whatever the fuck they want with little concern for the environment and we tax-payers support them with incentives to supplement their billions in profits. Screw that.




I also have no real reason not to believe what the natives or other observers were saying, other than my own history of mistrust--of being "on their side" and still getting kicked in the head. I suppose that's the shit that catches you. Not a one of us is free from our own emotions.




Perhaps it is a sign of news overload. I've stuffed my face with so much information that I'm unable to form my own thoughts anymore.




It just seems so...surreal. My mind isn't clicking in to it. In an exhausting year, it's just another thing to exhaust me. My cynicism says, "What fucking difference does it make?" even after the Army Corps of Engineers pulled the permit and decided they needed to fully examine other options for the pipeline.




There is a guy I follow on Twitter--political talk and humor, mostly, with a touch of music. All the same stuff as me, and he's a college professor. He's funny and smart and quick. After the election and ever since, he's been quite despondent. His jokes are now all a version of, "Why bother exercising--nothing matters anymore." That's where I am, too, although I don't really share that online anywhere, and I do exercise because I'd just be wallowing and huge if I didn't.


It's not even that I was ride or die for Hillary, because I didn't feel that I was. I thought she made sense as the choice and I did vote for her, but again...didn't change my profile pic to the "H" overlay, or anything like that.


When the news came out about the Corps re-routing or re-studying or pulling permits, or whatever they did at DAPL, people were celebrating, and I was over here thinking, "This doesn't mean anything."


I am tired of it all being about who gets points on social media (and, my sincere apologies to Chris Hardwick--your points are good points. All of them).


Of course one can argue that water is more important than "points" and racism is a serious problem--both of those things are very true. But where are we having these discussions?  Just talking amongst ourselves on social media...we accomplish about as much as the two old guys talking politics at the local café over a cup of coffee.


Some people got up off their asses and blocked a bridge and a thing happened--that's good. They unfortunately attracted an element of moronic "do goods" from out of state, looking to score some points. Many of those idiots were horribly unprepared and are now holed up in high school gymnasiums and people's private homes because, oh, by the way, it's fucking COLD during a blizzard in North Dakota, and people die.


Our rush to score is a real brain-eraser.


I can't stop shaking my head and rolling my eyes at us.


'Merica...

Friday, December 2, 2016

And Still...

I found this old post while cruising an analytics page. I noticed someone was archive diving and you know me--better check and make sure there isn't something awful floating around with my name attached to it.


Yes, I know the internet is forever, but I do have the ability to "unpublish" things, unlike, say, Starship. They can never take back, "We Built This City." That shit is out there, for all eternity.


The beauty of anonymous blogging cannot be overstated.


Anyway...here's a thing I wrote about a pot of beans.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Always

Last night was Fabulous Burrito Night at our house.  That's when, after having spent the day cooking insanely delish and perfectly seasoned pinto beans for the purpose of scarfing them in bean burritos, we feast like a bunch of starving animals, slurping beverages, going back for seconds, thirds and fourths.  


About mid-afternoon, those beans start to smell so good you want to cry, mostly because you know that they're not done cooking yet, so eating them would be a bit, uh...crunchy.  When they finally reach textural perfection, I lay out all the other tortilla stuffings and sauces and call the kids to start building, an announcement which is followed by the usual happy noises and sounds of feet scurrying to the kitchen.

 

My daughter's friend, who was visiting, asked, "Do you guys always eat like this?"  I told him no, that beans from scratch were usually a weekend project but he clarified: "No, I mean, are you guys always this laid back?"


It seems that at his house, what he called "family time" or, "dinner time" was so formal a thing that people barely spoke to one another while it was happening.  The idea that there would be laughter and joy and relaxation associated with it seemed novel to him.


I couldn't imagine it.


Most of us (grown-up) spend a lot of time out in the world in some kind of work situation in which we have to dress a certain way, be careful not to say certain things, arrive at a certain time, leave at a certain time, etc.  Even if your work life is fairly informal, there are still expectations associated with it--even someone who paints Velvet Elvises for a living has some kind of schedule, some kind of deadline.  If they didn't, they probably wouldn't produce enough to continue in that line of work.  A guy who plays guitar in a coffee shop still has to get to the coffee shop--you have to show up, and you have to have some kind of tangible product worth people giving you money for.


Life is like that.  I can't imagine why anyone would insist that family would have to be like that, too.  


Here are the people who know you better than anybody--They know that you like to put off doing the dishes until the last possible second, or that you run around in your bra in the morning while looking for a shirt to wear, or that spend hours on the phone loudly kvetching about crazy people, or your plants are neglected, or your cat needs a bath.  They know the very core of you.  They live with you, after all--they have a front row seat to all of your bad habits, wrinkles and warts.  Also, all of your triumphs.


Never mind the fact that I think of food as something to be celebrated.  What I want to know is, why would you apply first-date formality to any meal or time spent with the people who know you best?  Why pretend you don't know everything there is to know about each other already?  Isn't that just denying yourself the chance to delight in your family members victories, or laugh at their funny foibles, or help them through the low times?  Don't you WANT to be that resource for them?  I mean...who would be better at it than someone who knows the very core of you?


I believe very strongly that my home is my sanctuary.  It is the one place I can truly be myself, never to worry about what people think about me, what they're going to say about me, am I going to get fired for doing that, etc.  This notion doesn't strip away the necessity of treating everyone with kindness--in fact, my home is the one place where I can be as unabashedly kind as I want to be, like, spending an entire day lovingly preparing for the business of watching my kids and their friends play Guitar Hero while we all sit around eating burritos on the living room furniture (gasp!).  I will never, never, ever sacrifice that for any formality, any dreamt-up "have to" or "must".  I don't believe in "have to" or "must" except as it pertains to the importance of being good to other people.


So, to answer the question....Yes, we DO always eat like that.  We do everything like that.  I wish everybody did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Positives

I wish I had deep thoughts about what to say when I hear my neighbor yelling at his girlfriend.


The guy is a straight up jack-ass, which you may have determined based on the fact that he feels the need to yell at his girlfriend.


It's not the yelling, though. Definitely a "tone" thing.


I can't actually hear the words he says most days, I just hear that, "I'm smarter than you, you stupid woman" thing in his voice and it makes my skin crawl.


People, I've been dealing with that guy my whole life. He thinks he is smarter because of the penis.


Yes, it's that guy. That fucking guy.


Never mind the fact that I live in a building with only 4 apartments, where there are no strangers, and this guy doesn't feel inspired to say hello if I run into him in the hall. All of the rest of us say hello. Some of us spend a half-hour catching up every time we run into each other--it's that kind of building. We're nice. Well, most of us are nice--I have my days.


I can overlook the hallway slight, but not the tone. Not the tone.


That guy and his most unfortunate girlfriend live across the hall from me, and we share a wall, which gives me unique access to two sounds: 1) Sometimes their cat runs up and down the hall meowing, which gets my cats very excited, and 2) I get to hear the jackass take that tone with his girlfriend.


What she does to "deserve" it (Hint: It's nothing) I'll never know, but about once a month, the man unleashes a lecture on that girl.


Earlier this week I was reminded of the mildly amusing (read: sad because it's true) joke that I found on the internet somewhere: "Lord, please grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man."


I love that one.


I think, if only I could be that clever and find a mildly amusing thing of my own to say, or even just think, when I hear the tone, either next door, or directed at me.


Actually, fuck it, I don't need to be that clever. Neither does my neighbor. We can be smart or dumb--neither situations warrants "The Tone". That's the simple, blunt truth of it. No part of your day to day should involve someone who claims to "love" you talking to you as if you are a moron.


The fact that I wish I was better talking about abuse just makes me the perfect mate for an abuser. Sick.


I think. I feel. I know I'm flawed and want to do better. Those things seem like positives--they are. They should be, anyway. In the wrong hands, though...they make you a target of some mediocre shithead.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Something + Something + Something + An Egg On It

Why is it that we look at other peoples food pics and think they are lame?


Maybe that's just me. I think your food pics are lame.


My food pics are lame as well, I just know a thing or two about good lighting and angles and framing. This makes my food pics infinitesimally less lame than some people. (Probably not a measurable amount).


The photos I take that don't look good? You never see. My friend Phil had someone ask him how he takes such good photos and his answer was, "By taking a lot of shitty photos." This is exactly correct.


Also? Red plates. I dunno. The damn things look good in natural light.


Today I'm having "rustic" roast beef hash with an egg on it.



This is a perfect (and perfectly easy) thing to do to look sort of impressive. Something + something + something + an egg on top = Eat That.


'Egg on it' a new/old trend we can all appreciate, isn't it?


One time I was standing at Andrew Zimmern's food truck at Loring Park while watching Dessa (just dropping names, now...) and who should be standing there but the man himself, so I asked, "What's good?"


I expected him to say, "All of it!" and of course he fucking did, it's his food truck.


Anyway, I settled on...Crispy Pork Belly With Green Papaya Salad, Chiles, Lime, and? An egg on it.


Glorious. Pork belly, amirite?


You should just put eggs on stuff. Do it.


Example: shredded brussel sprouts + onions + bacon. Fry that up in a pan and what? Put a fried egg on top. Insane.


Next example: Bell peppers + onion + mushroom + broccoli. Fry that up in a pan, drop a fried egg on top. Amazing.


Loco Moco...maybe the ultimate With An Egg On Top thing. Hells yes.


Avocado Toast. Egg on top. Die happy.


This dish: "Rustic" just means I don't like uniform chopping and I'm sure as hell not going to bother throwing all this stuff in the grinder like my mother used to do with the Sunday roast leftovers (a fond memory, though...)


Roast beef, potatoes and onion.


And an egg on it.


Eat it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

It's a Meme. With My Apologies.

A friend posted these questions with her answers ... I am reposting with my answers.

I do not believe for one second that this passes for "content." Just killing space, and I haven't done one for ages.


1. Are you named after someone? I am, but to explain, I'd have to tell you my real name, soooo...

2. When is the last time you cried? Happy to report it was at least a month ago. Woo!

3. Do you like your handwriting ? Meh. I did at one time, but barely write anything other than a shopping list by hand anymore.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Roast Beef. Except when it's Ham.

5. Do you have kids? Two

6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? I'm awfully annoying, so I'm not sure. I like me enough to be alone with me, so there's that...

7. Do you use sarcasm? No. (see what I did there...?)

8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes, but missing other non-essential body parts.

9. Would you bungee jump? No. Not afraid of it, necessarily, but I have a spinal thing that wouldn't like the jolt. I don't ride roller coasters for the same reason.

10. What is your favorite kind of cereal? Cereal...I miss cereal. Does oatmeal count? Just load it up with blueberries and walnuts and stuff so I feel like I'm eating something. I haven't bought cold cereal in years, and just realized that I have a box of (unopened) Rice Chex in the cupboard so, for fun, I'm going to check the "best by" date after I finish this meme.

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes--that's why I'm so slow to take them off and end up tracking all over the house.

12. Do you think you're strong? I am strong, and smart, but it tends to be off-putting to certain people so I play dumb a lot.

13. What is your favorite Ice Cream? Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream is the best ice cream ever made. (She said, with confidence.) Ben and Jerry's knocked that one out of the park.

14. What is the first thing you notice about people? If they seem friendly.

15. Which color would you pick red/pink? Red. No reason.

16. What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself? I'm going to say this very carefully: I think too much. I obsess. If something confuses me or if I'm curious about a thing I'll investigate the hell out of it until I reach a conclusion that will allow me to stop obsessing. Example: If I have a crush on someone I find out every stupid thing there is to know about them til I find something that turns me off enough to stop. Usually this doesn't take long--everyone has at least one deal breaker. If I am trying to solve a problem at work, I usually pester the hell out of everyone about it until I get to where I want to be. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY takes anything as seriously as I take minor things that get stuck in my craw.

17. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? Shoes? I work at home--there are no shoes, here. And blue jeans.

18. What was the last thing you ate? The BEST thing: Fresh pear with Havarti Cheese and Walnuts. Delicious.

19. What are you listening to right now? Someone is typing. Oh, that's me. Typing.

20. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? ...? Not a clue!

21. Favorite smell? Currently Dolce and Gabbana Rosa Excelsa, which is insanely good.

22. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? If not one of my daughters, then my friend Greg.

23. Favorite sport to watch? I don't follow much, but started watching Vikings football so my friend didn't have to watch it alone and then they started losing so I stopped, because that is the kind of fan I am!

24. Hair color? Whatever is on the bottle, darling...

25. Eye color? Blue-ish, leaning grey or green.

26. Do you wear contacts? No

27. Favorite food to eat? I like it all. ALL of the food.

28. Scary movies or happy ending? Happy endings

29. Last movie you watched? Amie, so I could hear people speaking French. I can read it, but have no ear for it, whatsoever.

30. What color shirt are you wearing? Grey sweatshirt with a multi-colored KDWB logo

31. Summer or Winter? Winter. Yes, I know...that's weird. Summer is OK, but I think we pile a lot of expectations into it, so it ends up being weird. Winter is just..."go shovel snow, drive carefully, dress warm..." Pretty simple.

32. Hugs or kisses? Depends on who is doing the hugging/kissing.

33. What book are you reading? Reading a few books. I have a poetry book that I read out loud because I think it's good for your ear to do that. I'm also reading one of Mindy Kaling's books (I think she has more than one...?) that I bought to read on a plane and then ended up setting aside when I got home. Sorry Mindy! Love the book, though. And I have a James Baldwin collection that I'm reading. Not enough hours in the day to do any of them justice.

34. Who do you miss right now? I'm not sure I miss anyone at the moment.

35. What is on your mouse pad? A company logo. I work for the company, so that's all you get.

36. What is the last TV program you watched? The Crown on Netflix. More, please.

37. What is the best sounding noise? Justin Currie singing. Duh.

38. Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Beatles

39. What is the furthest you have ever traveled? Hawaii. I'll be back!

40. Do you have a special talent? Obscure pop culture references.

41. Where were you born? Little Speck on the Prairie, North Dakota.

Friday, November 11, 2016

It's Like Drunk Tweeting, Only Longer

Not sure how many days in a row I've had this particular headache but I'll chalk this one up to "tension" and/or "stress" and go for the Fireball Whiskey instead of the pain reliever.


What am I saying? Fireball Whiskey IS a pain reliever!


You can find Fireball Whiskey in the cordials section of your local liquor store, which would seem to indicate that it is more like schnapps than whiskey, but for my purposes, that's OK.


Last Thanksgiving I carried a flask of Fireball to a remote campsite in the Adirondacks while my fellow hikers carried cans of beer. Fools. The flask in question was actually a water filtration reservoir that I was supposed to be using for emergency water. Oops.


I'm a nice person, so I did allow them to throw some of those stupid, heavy cans of beer into my pack to carry, even though I was apparently the only one with brains enough to go with "hard" liquor instead of beer for that trip.  What's another pound, right? When we got to the camp, we were met by younger, more athletic hikers who had carried up a couple of glass growlers full of their favorite brew. I felt lazy for bringing a puny flask.


I have found it handy post-election to tell people, while in the throws of some heated online discussion about whatever, that I'm drinking Fireball and therefore laughing at every fucking thing I read and hear. They get a little less angry at me for being so wildly liberal.


FYI, I'm not wildly liberal, I'm just regular liberal. That's the kind of lib that the right claim doesn't exist, but I assure you, we're here.


When I'm drinking Fireball I get to this nice euphoric state where things are good and everything amuses me. I start reading things out loud, even if I'm the only person in the room, because whatever it is I'm reading is so damn amusing, it must be shared.


The cats look at me funny. 


I don't care.


(Since we're talking, reading things out loud is really the best way to enjoy a thing someone has written, especially poetry. Try it.)


Fireball Whiskey. Makes me listen to music "better", and makes me write worse.


Listening to...? Del Amitri. Which I do sometimes, but not a lot. I'm not a nostalgic person, and sadly, Del Amitri albums are all...(*sob*)...older records now. But...Fireball. I seek out some warm, happy comfort.


(Short break while we get all serious, cuz you know she's not a real drunk chick if she doesn't get serious at some point: I really do dig Del Amitri. I'll pull some adjectives out of the air for you--let's see how I do: Accessible? Listenable? Thoughtful. Clever. Melodic. It's good stuff. You notice the guitar work a bit more while you're drinking and the particulars of the vocals. It's different drunk than while sober. More Del Amitri, please, and thank you. Want me to tell you about that time when I was working nights at a Top 40 station when "Here and Now" was released? Yeah. Totally rigged several nights of one of those 'call in and vote'  radio shows in their favor because what a great fucking song. I tell my radio friends (and this might not mean anything to you non-radio people, so go ahead and skip to the next paragraph) that I would always pot up the fades of Del Amitri songs while playing them on the air because there was good stuff hiding in those fades. Ya faded too soon! Guess we can apply that statement to a lot of things.)


Because I am currently learning/studying French, I have the keyboard on my phone set to French language and it keeps correcting "Amitri" to "amitié". This is, of course, very amusing to me because of the Fireball.


I started sending drunk texts, in French, to people who don't speak French, and tell them, "Oops, sorry, I've had like 6 shots of Fireball!" as if I normally send texts in French, just not to them.


I'm feeling much better. Clearly I needed the laugh. We all did.


Thanks Fireball.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

For Now, We Wait (Truth and a Bright Light)

There is a page in the Mark Shipper book Paperback Writer where he imagines the meeting between Bob Dylan and The Beatles. In this (highly amusing and completely fictional) tale, we learn about how The Beatles and Dylan wrote a song together.


It starts off with Dylan sitting at a manual typewriter and saying something like, "Just give me some words and phrases to get started."


And Lennon, shocked that the acclaimed songwriter takes such a casual approach to lyric, but not wanting to seem uncool, says, "Uh...words and phrases, right?"


Bob then types "Words and phrases, right," as the first line of the song, and the rest of the entire lyric is just all of them spouting nonsensical bullshit while Dylan types it up.


Any time I can't think of what to write, that's what pops into my head.


...words and phrases, right?


It is the day after Election Day 2016.

Here is the nonsense:
  • So far, no one dead who wouldn't have died anyway.
  • The KKK is occupying a bridge in North Carolina.
  • We hired a guy for the #2 position who wants to send a good number of my friends to reparative camps for electro-shock therapy to "cure" their homosexuality. That's the same guy who wants to jail women who have miscarriages, by the way.
  • This election season I witnessed people denying things for which there was extensive evidence. That's some strong-ass denial. I am reminded of the Maya Angelou quote, "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."
  • People who spent 8 years fighting mightily against a twice-elected and popular president are now calling for unity and asking everyone to get behind their guy.
  • Hate crimes. Muslims being harassed, POC victimized. Awful people given license to be awful.

Here is the hope:


Karma is a thing.


I know, I know...too simplistic. Hear me out.


Remember when The Asshole George Zimmerman killed that kid, Trevon Martin? And was acquitted? At the time, a lot of people were upset. It was upsetting to me, too, but I knew one thing for sure--that Zimmerman's new-found celebrity status would shine a spotlight on his every move, and that in a short time he would self-destruct.


I learned all about how narcissists react to scrutiny back when I had a couple of them in my life. It is a glorious thing watching them twitch and implode. I would say it's "fun" but it isn't, really--we're dealing with people's live, here.


OK, that's a lie. It is fun. I like watching horrible people get what's coming to them.


Mr. Z is now bankrupt and miserable. He's been left behind by those who rallied for him during the trial.


So it will be with our current crop of loons.


That's not to say that people will not have some misery inflicted upon them while we wait for karma to shove the metaphorical hot poker up the ass of the awful ones, but, if we are armed with the truth and a bright spotlight, we can fix this. These types tend to scatter like cockroaches.


So do that.


Truth and a bright light.


I am not sure if I can predict how long Mr. T will last in his new role. As we have seen, even young and healthy people like Barack Obama age quickly when faced with the demands. I don't think the president-elect realizes what the job entails, but he's about to find out, and I suspect he won't like it all that much. He'll be amazed at how little he is able to get done, even with both houses on his side. He'll start whining about it on January 21st and probably won't seek re-election, citing government gridlock and an inability to get anything done--speaking from experience, here, since I am a Minnesotan and we elected Jesse Ventura, who did exactly that. (For the record, I didn't mind Governor Ventura at the time. He was mostly OK. I am actually still pissed that they repealed his license tag pricing scheme the second he walked out the door--that was a good thing for those of us with cars. Yeah, yeah...I know he only did it so he personally wouldn't have to pay such a high license fee to drive his big SUV, but still...I liked the low price, too.)


People will not stop pointing out how Mr. Trump is ridiculous now that he's been elected. In fact, the opposite will occur--more people will be joining the chorus.  Narcissists go bat-shit crazy in those scenarios, and I expect that's what we'll see.


In time, he will implode.


For now, we wait.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Repudiation Day

Stressed today.


I tell myself I'm not election stressed, but it's a lie. I live in a world of instant answers, and not having instant answers about election results is stressful.  I don't want exit poll stuff, I want real results, so...wait. And stress.


In the meantime, here is some stuff about the election.

  • My kid voted in her very first presidential election today. I remember mine. I remember walking into a polling place wearing a "vote" pin (didn't have a candidate name, just said "vote") and I got stopped for a moment by a poll worker. The year was Nineteen-eighty-jeezuz-was-it-that-long-ago and it was somewhat uneventful after Pin-gate.
  • As you may have heard, there is a woman on the ticket this year. (REALLY!) This does not mean much to me and I realize that the fact that it's not that important to me is the significant thing, here. It's perfectly normal, in my head, that a woman can (and in this case, *should*) be elected President. It's not an anomaly. It's just a person stepping up to accept the challenge of the day. Women have been doing this forever, we just finally got to the part where men stopped poo-poo-ing us enough to get to a good place. Nothing to get excited about! Just a thing.
  • Then I went on the internet and it was all, "OMG I'm weeping about this!" while reading other people's stories. An unexpectedly emotional day.
  • Then I realized that my kid, in her first presidential election, got to vote for the first woman at the top of the ticket. And I was proud of her and of us.
  • Then, true to form, my kid sent me a Snapchat with an "I voted" sticker on her forehead and a caption that read "Trump 2016!!" Not to worry--she followed that up with a "just kidding, guys" snap. She does know how to mess with me. Did I ever tell you about the time she cracked the joke about selling sex on the street corner when she was 11 or 12 years old? Or the time she wanted me to take a pic of her chugging from a wine bottle and sent it to grandma? I think she was maybe 13, then. I love that record-scratch sense of humor of hers. She's brutal, in a good way.
  • Hey, Hey, USA, what the hell took us so long? (since we're talking) Other countries have had plenty of women in positions of power, for, like, ever.
  • This election has shown me many things about my country that I do not like. For example, people who happen to be complete fuck-heads are feeling pretty OK about themselves right now. I can't tell you how many times during the last month I have uttered the words, "Fuck these people..." in reference to those who threaten (excuse me...I mean "joke about") violence toward the other side. Because Fuck. Those. People.
  • Just a qualifier about that last bullet point: I've been around these effing guys my entire life. I grew up in a place where any kind of intellectualism was thought of as a bit of a weakness. This disease has spread across the country and there has been a steady crescendo of the "My stupid is just as good as your smart" bullshit for the last several years. You know what? It isn't. It fucking isn't. Smart is smart, and stupid is stupid. One is good and one is bad. They are not the same or even close. They are not equal. Also? Fuck. Those. People.
  • I decided that the word of the day would be "Repudiation." Smart people, you're good. Stupid people, ask a smart person to explain it to you.
  • Every time we do this election thing I feel like it's kids running rampant and making a huge mess and then grown-ups show up to enforce calm. Think about this year....you had a ton of people say that Trump would win just based on the size of political rallies. This is logic a KID would formulate in their head. They have such a limited concept of human beings that they think anyone who doesn't behave the same way they do can't be real. I just want to say, "Thank you, grown ups!" Thank you for showing up and keeping our shit together.
  • Favorite over-heard joke so far today? "Tomorrow's headline will read 'Orange Crushed'." Here's hoping. Thanks Lance Gould!
  • Second favorite thing: Fuck-head Farage (Nigel, to his friends, if he had any) asks "Will today be Brexit day in the USA?" and the internet reminds him we brexited 250 years ago.
  • The stickers on Susan B. Anthony's headstone...another unexpectedly emotional thing, for me. The line of people waiting to pose for pictures by her grave? You can't help but feel something when you see that. No, she was not without fault. She wanted women to vote but didn't consider women of color worthy of that right--suffragettes of color had it tougher. I'm not one to forget those things. I'm glad to live in a time where I can get both the emotion of the day and an important history lesson at the same time. We get a little better every day.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

So...How Are We Feeling Tonight, America?

This is an "as of around 5PM Sunday before election day" map showing how things might go on Tuesday according to 538.




Not particularly bright and sunny for either candidate.


One thing we know for sure? This map will change.


Another thing we know for sure? This country has been changed, and we probably won't have another "civil" election for at least a generation.  I'll probably be long dead before one side stops being a bunch of shit-birds.


A friend of mine, one of the rare friends with whom I don't mind talking politics, asked me for a prediction. "Who's gonna win this thing?"


As we talked, it occurred to us both that we've all lost. I don't say that to sound like one of those, "both candidates are bad" people. I don't believe both candidates are bad. I believe that a Clinton presidency would be like the Obama presidency: Not nearly as exciting as their opponents make them out to be. Kind of boring, in fact. Boring like...people going to work. Government office style boring.


I'm a big fan of boring when it comes to the presidency of this country. Bring on the boring. Not much fun for the comedy writers, of course, but far better for the rest of us.


Even if it turns out we have 8 years of "boring," we're still not going to have a great 8 years. The shit-birds will still be shit-birds, emboldened by the escalation of ridiculousness that has proceeded these final hours.


They'll get their shit all over everything.


We're all covered in it already.


On Tuesday, I'll be lifting a glass. It might be in disgust. It won't likely be in celebration. Even a win for the person who *should* win just means more whining from the ones who didn't. They'll get louder and louder and we'll all have to put up with their pouting and stamping of feet. No one will enjoy this. No one.


The PR angle of politics used to be fun for me. I was pretty good at predicting an outcome based on how people were talking, what words they were using, and how people reacted. We're not much fun to look at these days. Oh, I still have my preference, and I still think one side is better than the other, but the other side is not so predictable any more--they keep moving the goalpost to new areas of awful.


So...how are we feeling tonight? Ready for it to be over, but sick with the knowledge that it won't be, for years.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Four for the Price of None

November is NaBloPoMo, which I understand to mean as the month I get to feel guilty for not writing a blog every day, while simultaneously making jokes about head, because NaBloPoMo, amirite?


Yes, I'm 12.


Today is November 4th, so I owe 4.


Here they are.


And trust me, they are just as entertaining all on the same page as they would be if I had posted them individually.  


I don't know if that's a good thing.



Blog 1: Not For All The Tea In Edina

Does that tea store at the mall ONLY hire the hyper-active dudes that are SUPER psyched about tea?


What's the recruitment like for that place? DO YOU LOVE TEA AND SUPER-AGGRESSIVE SALES TACTICS? THEN COME JOIN OUR TEAM!!!


Imagine being trained to be the hallway guy at Tea Store (You know I'm talking about you, Teavana, right? You must know...). What things must that trainer say to the young recruit to make them successful...?


IF THEY MOVE, YOU MOVE! WATCH THEIR EYES! WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING AT? ASK THEM IF THEY WANT TO BUY IT! I DON'T CARE IF IT'S NOT FOR SALE! ASK! MAKE SURE THEY TRY AT LEAST 5 SAMPLES BEFORE THEY GET AWAY! JESUS CHRIST MAN, DON'T LET THEM LEAVE!


After 52 hours of verbal lashing, the formerly mild-mannered tea sucking hippy transforms into Mr. You Will Buy Something, raring to pounce on the next person wandering past.


I, being a glutton for punishment, went there on purpose, and $40 later walked out with a little bag of Ruby Spiced Cider tea, feeling violated.


But then I went home and drank the stuff and forgot the pain--kind of like you forget the pain of childbirth when they put that baby in your arms.


Now...it is worth nothing that after the baby, I did forget the actual *pain* part, but I was not so baby-zenned that I forgot to tell my doctor to make it so that birthing thing CAN NEVER FUCKING HAPPEN AGAIN--I DON'T CARE WHAT BODY PART YOU HAVE TO REMOVE.


If I was only half as smart as a tea drinker as I am as a mother, I'd suck up the shipping costs and order online.


It's either that or get a job at Teavana and learn their secret ways of persuasion. 


Actually, I'd just do it for the discount because $40, man? You're killing me! No wonder I felt violated...




Blog 2: Oh To Be Young And Stupid Again!

I started at a new job and I am the youngest person on the team.


For those of you not aware, I'm 108 (read: 50) years old, and I'm virtually never the youngest person in any gathering, these days.


Part Two of this equation is the fact that I work from home and my team mates also work from home and we've never seen each other in person.


I'm not sure if it's because I have a certain sound to my voice on the phone or if they're just mean, but I'm getting the impression that my team mates think I'm stupid.


Just to clarify...I'm not stupid. I'm frustratingly intelligent, to the point it causes me social awkwardness. My whole day is an ongoing "solve this problem, solve this problem, solve this problem," dialogue in my head, whether I want it to be, or not. I'm virtually incapable of relaxing. It's why I used to drink so damn much--just to shut it off. I'm also a bit of an empath, so I'm really tuned in to things...like, tone, for example.


And yet...these people act like the simplest task is going to be monumentally challenging for me. They speak to me slowly, in a manner I find condescending. 


Yes, it's probably more my interpretation than their intent. People talking to me like I'm stupid is my #2 Pet Peeve right behind people who waste my time, but as it turns out, people who talk to me like I'm stupid are also wasting my time while they condescend, so maybe they should be #1.


Recently, somebody that I know fairly well (outside of work) made a comment about how they were "too smart" to vote for the Democrat. They were excited about Mr. Trump and believed in their heart of hearts that Mrs. Clinton has had people killed to cover up her criminal activity, and blah, blah, blah, conspiracy theory times 20, that woman just can't be trusted. That same person surmised that I must be voting for Hillary and therefore must be a total moron. I made no mention of who I was voting for, they just went off because I didn't join in with their tirade against her.


Somehow I managed to keep a straight face and say nothing, even though I had never been face to face with anyone making such insanely ridiculous declarations. These are the same type of folks who decide that nobody is voting for Hillary and every piece of evidence to the contrary is faked, etc. It's an alternate reality to the one I'm living where people openly talk about her without sneering. There is nothing you can really say, you just...move on.


My job, right now, feels like a milder version of that moment. I'm trying not to freak out. I'm new. I keep telling myself to just shut up and take the money and maybe my comparative youth will mean I'll still be here after they're gone and I'll enjoy some kind of last laugh scenarios.

Here's hoping.



Blog #3: Related

Hey, they can't all be amazing.

Ha - https://www.funny-pictures-blog.com - more funny things: http://hotfunnystuff.com:




Blog #4: Stress Relief


Once upon a time, I had a knitting blog. I posted pictures of things I knit and I made mild-mannered jokes that were appropriate to the knitting crowd.


Then I discovered that the knitting crowd was a lot more fun than I thought and I wrote about other stuff.


Then I put knitting (the hobby) on a back burner for a while.  


Too much sitting. 


Yes, that's a thing! I'm trying to lose weight, here! I've got 20 more pounds to go! I can't SIT!


But wow...the election and the job and just...fucking everything, y'all.


I take a long walk (5-ish miles) just about every day and that does help, and I think about other things and I don't watch the news. I'm coping, but knitting is zen. It's a problem to solve (See Blog #2) and it's soft and fuzzy and you end up with a useful thing.


That's what my brain needs right now. Knitting.


So I bought some yarn today. 


The giant kind.


The instant gratification kind, where you don't have to do a billion stitches for it to become a a thing...you can do, like, a a few thousand. 


I"m gonna make a thing--a pair of things, actually, and I'll have them done in time to watch the world burn on Tuesday. 


It'll be OK. I'll be knitting instead of worrying.


Feel free to do the same.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Handbasket

I got a text from my daughter at 11:57PM on a Saturday night, asking if she had been baptised.


I told her she had not. Neither she nor her sister were.


She asked, "So...am I going to hell then?"


The occasion for the question was that she was getting drunk with people who, apparently, had never met another human who hadn't been baptised. They told her she was doomed.


I told her if she was worried about that sort of thing, she could certainly be baptised whenever she wanted to. There was no time limit.


He response was typical of her: "But what if I die tonight?"


I told her I didn't believe in hell. The truth of it was a bit more complicated--I believe in hell of our own creation, for example, but that's a thing you go through while you're still breathing (karma, if you will), not a place you go when you die.


I made a conscious decision regarding the religious upbringing of my children. If you guessed that my decision was, "Nope," then you are a winner and can pick up your prize at the end of your driveway. (Hint: It's dirt.)


I think religion brings some people comfort but it never has, for me. It always made me feel like someone was trying to talk me into something, and my stance on that is if you have to sell me so fucking hard for so many years then maybe I don't want any.


While my daughter's friends marveled at the notion that somebody they knew didn't go to Sunday school, hadn't memorized the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed or any of the good stuff out of the green hymnal (go ahead and ask me anything from the green hymnal--I was raised Lutheran and we used it extensively. It's the only part of church that I liked), I started composing texts about how religion has been used throughout history to repress, manipulate and control people and I sent them off one after the other.


I was giving her ammo to use against her friends', "You're going to hell," schtick.


I don't think I am particularly convincing in my anti-church pitch. I don't care enough about it to work very hard at it. I don't care if you think you need religion. I wouldn't care if either of my kids found a church community that worked for them. I just bristle at well meaning people trying to save me. I'll do my own saving, thank you. After 50 years on this planet, I've come to realize that I'm the only one who can keep my ass in line.


I think this is true of all of us: We are the only ones equipped to do ourselves any good. Sky Man gets enough credit. Pat yourself on the back, for once.


And if I'm wrong and end up in hell, at least there will be a lot of cool people there. Like, my kids, for example.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Prep

Social anxiety is the name for that thing that makes me want to stay home a lot.


I stay home a lot.


I used to have a job at an office and I would go in every day, faithfully, dressed in my Office Casual, hanging with the people who thought Office Casual was getting dressed up, and eating the bagels, or donuts or whatever other unhealthy thing they brought in to share. Sometimes we had pot lucks and I would bring some food that was far out enough to make me seem interesting.


The "interesting" dish (that's Minnesota speak, meaning they didn't especially like it but were too polite to say they didn't like it) was usually something I thought bland enough to serve to people who thought Office Casual was dressed up. Somebody always asked for the recipe. 


Rebels.


The job at the office allowed me to feel like less of a freak. I went to a place. Every day I went to a place. I left my house. I did stuff. With people. Real people were there.


It didn't matter if, when I went home, I never wanted to leave that house again, because I had already left the house that day, to go to the office. I'd done my time abroad, and my reward was Home.


As I got promoted at the job, or took on other jobs within the company, the company rewarded me with Work At Home.


Work at home is a thing companies do to save money. It costs about $10,000 a year for them to have a space for you to sit at an office in a building somewhere and supply you with a roof and heat (or...the stuff they try to pass off as "heat" at offices...you know how it is. Everyone is freezing), so they say, "Hey! How would you like to work at home? It's great! You don't have to leave the house!"


And we're all, "Heck yeah, give me that! The heat at my house works, unlike this dump!"


Work at home? It's fucking great. No question. Sitting in my jammies, slippers on, dissecting a some words or some code? Dream gig, all day. Just having good coffee makes it worth it.


(The Oatmeal wrote the best comic about working at home. Go read it.)


It's just dangerous to be someone like me AND be alone. All. The Damn. Time.


Even though I love it.


I have some friends who worry about me. They worry that I'm too isolated, and that I never get out of the house. (Of course, none of this translates to them wanting to go do the things I want to do, with me, outside of my house, but that's a bitch I'll save for another time.)


They're right. I don't go places. I get up, work my 8, go for a walk, happily goof off at home until I'm tired, then sleep.


Best. Schedule. Ever.


But they worry, so I make the effort. I agree to do stuff elsewhere.


Last night, I went to a bar. There was music I wanted to see, and that's where the musicians were. Since my friends, who worry that I never go out, never want to go out with me, I went with my ultimate favorite person: Me.


My strategy was to sit at the bar instead of a table, so it was less obvious that I was alone, and make non-committal conversation with the bartender, whom I hoped would be too busy to talk, then sit and watch musicians play and sing songs.


I did exactly that. Bartender was busy. Musicians were great.


I still spent the entire time feeling incredibly awkward and wishing I was home.


The fact that the bartender was cute and charming was no help at all. Quite the opposite, actually--I actually *wanted* to talk to him--that's the kind of person I envision as a desirable friend--but I sound idiotic when I try to have even minimal conversation with someone I don't know very well.


Awkward.


Oh, I could perform for that person, all day, and be fine--I am a presenter, after all. But outside of presenting, I'm pretty boring.


When faced with situations that are scary to me, I always tell myself, "Fuck it, it's not like any of these people will ever see you again. You live in a big city, and there are plenty out there less appealing than you. Just look at all the awful people out there, perfectly comfortable imposing themselves upon the world. Your excuses are bullshit."


These statements are totally true, and they get me out the door. I wish they carried me though conversations with cute bartenders.


Truth is, we're all presenters. We do our little shows for people we barely know, on social media, or at work, or at the bar. We dress a certain way for a reason, we do our hair a certain way for a reason, we wear a certain perfume for a reason, or carry a particular handbag. It's all a part of a lifelong gig. Home is the only place we have a break from it. Home is all-day bed head and slippers.


And the perfume.


Perfume knows that it doesn't matter if you look like shit, as long as you don't smell like shit.


When you've worked in the media for any length of time, you know how much preparation it takes to be good at presenting, be it on the radio, or at some work training, or bullshitting your way through an interview (nobody good at bullshitting doesn't prepare. Look at the Republican nominee. Worst bullshitter, ever.). When I was in radio, I would take the 4 minutes a song was playing to write the 20 seconds worth of words I would say after the song got done. Every time. That's how all media is--the proportion of prep to presenting is dramatically lopsided.


There really is no way to prep for encounters you don't know will happen, like, oh, for example, there's a charming person you'd like to talk to. That's why it's all so stressful to me.


*sigh*


I'll keep trying, though I doubt I'll ever develop the skill of 'winging it'. I've taught myself more complicated things. I've forced myself to quit smoking, after all--how tough can this be by comparison?


Besides, it's not like I'll ever see these people again.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Mornings in the Fall

Saturday mornings in the Fall.


That's when I miss you. That's when I miss us.


Before the kids were awake, you would bring me coffee, or I would bring you coffee, and we would lie on the bed in our room, enjoying the quiet.


You'd be wearing that green fleece and jeans and I would wear jeans and a Henley I stole from you. 


I still have it. Today may be too emotional to put it on, though. It doesn't smell like you anymore, and it hasn't for years, but, it's still yours.


You died in the Fall, on October 11. We were apart when it happened and everything that led up to my last years with you was awful. I don't regret leaving, though. Had I been there when it happened, I might be getting more sympathy from people as a widow, but that wouldn't make my life any better than I've been able to make it without you. 


As it was, people questioned the sincerity of my tears. 


Fuck those people.


They weren't there on those Saturday mornings. 


You with a book and me with my knitting.


We created chore lists (gleefully, for the purposes of antagonizing the children) and shopping lists for the home improvement store, because Saturday mornings turned into Saturdays, and there was work to be done.


It's been 8 years since we lived together, and four that you've been gone, but a full nine years have passed since we spent a cool autumn morning together, tucked in our room at the little house on Superior Street, with the dog shoehorned between us.  


How could it have been so long ago? 


It feels like today.


The Minnesota air smells of Fall, there are chores to do, and I am making a list; only now, the children are grown and I can't conspire against them by making them rake, or mow, or pick up dog poop from the back yard. 


That's OK--it was only fun when we did it together.


Besides...maybe I enjoyed it a little too much when you would wake them and they would grumble and you would laugh that laugh of yours that everyone loved. I think it was that laugh that made them forgive you for being such a slaver-driver of a dad. It bought you a lot of forgiveness from all of us.


I know they miss you more than I. Perhaps they miss you on different mornings, or every morning, but for me it's always a Saturday, and always in the Fall.


That's when we were our best Us.


The Us that draws my tears this morning. 


Saturday morning.


If you were still alive, I'd be calling you, again, to say it was all a huge mistake and we should get back together.


I'm glad I can't.


You can have this Saturday, Mr. Payne. 


Today, you can have me. 


Today, I'll be your widow. 


Tomorrow, I have to be me again.