Monday, October 31, 2016


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, " 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


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. 


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 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.


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.


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.

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Today was monumental in that I put on makeup and nice clothes, did my hair and met someone for lunch. I even wore girl shoes.

I was so fucking excited about being presentable, I took a picture. (That's Henry's butt in the background.)

Wow, I look super stoned.


I wasn't. I just look like that.

The other day my new boss asked me for a photo to put with my bio on some company website and I spent half the day trying not to look wasted in a selfie.

You would think this would be easy to do in the middle of a work day.

Sadly, no.

My eyes don't open, or something. Fuck, I don't know. When I smile they snap shut. "It's cute," people say. Cute that my eyes just completely disappear. Cuuuuuute!

I produced a super dorky, eyes-sort-of-open, glasses on, girl-in-work-mode thing. Then I fixed it in Photoshop because of course I can't stand any pictures of myself.

At least I didn't have to Photoshop 30 pounds off of me like I did with my Maui vacation pics. By the way, I need to go back and take more pictures, now that I'm mostly OK to look at. I'll do a bunch of bad selfies while standing on some cliff's edge, or under a palm tree, and claim the squinting is due to the sun and not the Maui Wowie. Who would know? Honestly, one could assume I've been hitting the jellies while looking at virtually any photo of me showing teeth.

I tried to take an "eyes open AND smiling" pic for this blog to see if I could do it.

"Maniacal," is the word that comes to mind.

Better stick with cute.

Friday, October 7, 2016


My computer monitor. I stick things to it under the illusion that I'll see it there every day while looking at the computer and somehow the knowledge contained in sticky notes will transfer itself to my brain.

It does not work.

There is a FAFSA password sticky note, but every year when I go to update the FAFSA for the kid, I have to reset the password because "Fuck, I don't remember where I put the stupid password."

It's right in front of you, moron.

It's right next to the webex log-in. Haven't used that in a while, either, because why? I work around it because I'll be damned if I'm going to even try to remember that. Fuck that.

Several years ago, when I was hating my boss (three bosses ago, in case you are wondering), I got a fortune cookie that read, "Discontent is the first necessity of progress."

I'm not sure if I saved it and taped it to the monitor because I felt that way at the time, or if I was trying to urge myself to use those words for action. It was around 7 years ago (I still tell stories about how shitty that boss was...what a tool), and much like everything else taped up there, I promptly forgot about it.

My discontent with that particular boss led me to leave that atmosphere. I landed at a job I thoroughly enjoyed, working with people I thoroughly enjoyed.

Jobs and relationships, folks...if they're not working despite your best efforts, go do something and/or somebody else.

  • Side Note: I don't know why people don't walk away from things that are awful. They must love complaining. I mean, I love complaining, too, but right at the moment I hear myself complaining about a thing that could be fixed by my simply severing a tie somewhere, I realize I'm being an idiot.

I'm still enjoying said job and people, but, I'm not seeing much forward movement in the last year or so, and I caught myself complaining about it.

A lot.

And having a bad attitude about it.


So I decided to walk away.

It is a friendly walk--to the same office (my house) at the same company, only now with larger wads of cash and the slight possibility of being taken seriously at some point in the not-too-distant future.

I'm not entirely sure about the Being Taken Seriously bit. I'm not a terribly serious person, I just do serious work, seriously, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist bitch about it. In some circles, that means you get a promotion. In others, that means you're a pain in the ass to some boss.

I spent a lot of years as a pain in the ass, and I expect that behavior to continue once I get past the honeymoon phase of the new job, during which I will be less visible on social media and at the blog because I know absolutely nothing about the new gig and am starting at zero, so...I'll be hella busy being the office idiot.

OK, I'm not starting at zero, but like...3. I'm starting at 3.

Maybe 5.

For now, expect some quiet time here and there.

I do believe that fortune cookie, so I'll just keep that fortune stuck where it is.

Discontent is the first necessity of progress.

I believe you have to stir the pot once in a while: See what it takes to get the boyfriend mad at you, or get your boss mad at you, or hell, get yourself mad at you--whatever is sitting stagnant right now, just fuck it up a little so you can expand your boundaries. When you grow into your new space, do it again. That's how you move forward in this life--by not being too comfortable. If the thing you're shaking falls apart, find some other thing.

Feel free to print that out and stick it on your own monitor.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


I was doing my daily 5, which, in actuality is more like 4.7 miles and is not "daily" so much as it is...four times a week-ish.

Shut up. I'm not sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons.

Oh, how I wish I was sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons.

Instead, I was minding my own business, hoofing it around the lake.

Behind me, I heard voices--a man and a woman. They seemed distant. Her voice was very quiet and his less so. I couldn't hear what they were saying.

Surprisingly soon after I first heard them, they were overtaking me on my left. They were speaking in a low, guarded volume, which was what made me initially think they very were far behind me. They kept doing so as they passed, and neither looked up from their shoes the entire time. They never looked at each other and never looked around.

It was obvious they were a couple--only couples, and perhaps specifically Minnesota couples of a certain age (Late-50's through Dead...?) speak to each other in that way.

The mumble. The Minnesota Marriage Mumble.

I call it a Minnesota thing--I'm sure older couples in Iowa and North Dakota and Wisconsin do it, too. They barely speak to each other, not because they're fighting, just because they're using some kind of messed up Word Economy thing they've complacently wandered into and never left.

On the one hand, you see these couples and think they've been together so long they've got communication down to a science! A type of short-hand that requires only sounds they have developed over the years--sounds only *they* understand. It's a positive! It's their little thing. They know each other *that* well!

On the other hand, gawd, it's awful. Fucking awful. They seem so miserable. They're barely above grunting. How did they even get together in the first place without actually speaking? Or did their relationship evolve into this? Was there a particular event that caused the decline of their verbalization? Maybe they got into a big fight 20 years ago, stopped speaking to each other and somehow never fully started again?

I imagine the things they mumble under their breath when they are having their little passive-aggressive, "I hate my spouse," moments. Not meant for the other to hear, because it would start a conflict and we wouldn't want *that*, but it makes the mumbler feel better, bitching to themselves about it.


I see all kinds of couples walking around the lake, and I purposely don't listen to music while I am out, so I can eavesdrop on other people. The quick memo app on my phone is loaded with sentences that I heard actual people say to other people that I thought sounded interesting enough to write about later.

People are funny.

Sometimes they're funny because you know they've had the same conversation at least two dozen times in the late 6 months because, duh, they're people, and we're mostly boring idiots. The fact they find themselves unable to ever change the subject is sad, but, I can laugh because I'm not them.

Usually it's a wife relaying the upcoming schedule to her supposedly hapless man: "Don't forget Bob and Tammy are coming for dinner Thursday, and Megan is bringing the boys over Saturday morning while she runs out to Shakopee. I'm not sure WHAT I'm going to do with those two! Maybe take them to the farmer's market with me, or the Science Museum..." He listens, but doesn't particularly care and won't remember half of it.

Sometimes you can tell it's a couple out on their first date. Sometimes it's older guys talking about their investments, or younger guys talking about their jobs, or younger women talking about younger guys, or slightly older women talking about office dynamics, or a husband and wife enjoying some scandalous gossip about a neighbor or co-worker. Really, it's any number of combinations of people and they are having bright and animated conversations--they're outside! It's nice out! We're walking/running/pushing a stroller! Yay talking!

And then...mumblers. They don't even pretend to be happy to be there for the benefit of others, much less themselves. They walk around the lake as if it is yet another duty thrust upon them by the misfortune of their horrible lives.

Mumblers are less common than the Missus With The Weekly Schedule In Her Head (that's every 3rd couple, and, full disclosure: I was one of those wives when I had a husband--I knew he didn't give a shit, I just talked for the sake of talking). Mumblers are every 20th couple, give or take. They are becoming more rare, but...if you're patient, they appear. Much less majestic than Lake Harriet's part-time-resident bald eagle, and much easier to photograph, don't really want to take their picture. Or ever see them for any reason other than academic.

I walked home with the mumblers in mind and got a call from my friend, who wanted to complain about her date. She was right to complain--the man sounded like somebody NOBODY should date. She sounds defeated and hints she is ready to settle. She doesn't like being single and is ready to settle for just anyone.

Don't do it, girl...don't become a mumbler.

When I see the mumblers and hear the sad dating stories of my friend, I'm happy to be "single-and-not-really-looking."

Very happy.

Look at my house: It's my sanctuary. No one to resent, and very little frustration in living alone, except for, "Why isn't there a man here to take out the trash/go to shows with me/have great sex?" I can open my own jars and get things off of high shelves and pay my own bills. I can do what I want to do all day every day and not worry about who might get pissed off about it.

Yes, dinner is chicken and broccoli. Yes, I ate the same thing yesterday. Don't care.

I wish more women realized these things--all of the things of which they are quite capable, and I wish women (and men) closely guarded the things that bring them joy instead of giving them up as a part of a relationship contract. If they did, even if they decided to get into a relationship, with this knowledge and attitude it would make it a better relationship. Not settling. No mumbling.

Maybe when I give this advice, I'm just looking for more single friends to hang out with me--that assessment does have some merit. After all, it doesn't have to be a man going to shows with me--they can just be there for the trash and the sex parts. I can go to shows with girls I have hoodwinked into giving up on relationships. This definitely works in my favor.

And we can go to shows sit and complain about our lack of relationships.

But we won't be mumbling.