Monday, August 7, 2017

I Went to West Virginia’s Largest Yard Sale

This past weekend, I went to West Virginia’s Largest YardSale, a yard sale event that takes place in Buckhannon (my hometown) and Weston (the town next to my hometown, and the home of the Transallegheny LunaticAsylum) every August. There are allegedly hundreds of yard sales involved, although I don’t think we found that many.

I took $26 in folding money and a handful of change, and I ended up spending the whole $26, plus about a dollar of the change, and about $13 of the manfriend’s money. Here are the awesome bargains I scored.

A Pearl Ring

I've been wanting a pearl ring for a while. Plus, I think they might be real pearls because they're not perfectly round. But even if they're not real pearls, who cares? I wear it on my engagement finger because my other nine fingers are too fat, and also because I've found The One, and it's me. Sorry, manfriend.

A Feeder Puzzle for the Cats

I really had Fatty in mind when I picked up this feeder puzzle, because he needs mental stimulation. I'm hoping the feeder puzzle will distract him from his plans for world domination, although if it doesn't, at least he'll be better than Trump.


You put dry cat food in the top of the puzzle and it has holes in each level, so that when the cat reaches in to grab at the food, some of it will fall out the bottom. It's really not that complex, although it does allow you to adjust the size of the holes in case the default setting is too easy for your cat. Fatty seems to enjoy it, but sadly, I think Skin Disease is too stupid to grapple with its complexities. He solves the puzzle in his own way -- by begging until I feel sorry for him.

This Vintage Waffle Maker from the Seventies

I haven't used the waffle maker yet, so I don't know if it works, but for $3, I'm willing to take the risk. Plus I was told the proceeds would go to support a no-kill cat shelter, so it's really not even a loss. If it does work, I'll make sure to review it for you guys.

These Breathtaking Works of Art

This was a joint purchase with the manfriend. It was near the end of the day and we were all tired, so we were doing a slow drive-by of this one sale, when our lookout said, "They've got some Elvis pictures at this one."

"THEY'VE GOT SOME WHAT!?" the manfriend exclaimed. "STOP. WE HAVE TO GET THOSE." It turned out to be right next door from the place with the waffle maker, so I'm glad we stopped.

Some Classic Tunes

I'm always on the lookout for CDs of 80s music, which doesn't go as well as you might expect, possibly because no one in their right mind would part with such treasures. But I scored a Joan Jett album, and a recording of a Pat Benatar live show, which is better than the nothing I expected to find.

Some Books

I promised myself I wasn't going to buy anymore books until I'd read at least most of the books that I already have. But at one point, I did put back two books that I'd picked out, so I think that ought to count for something.

A Maxi Dress

I obviously bought this dress without trying it on, which was a bigger risk than the waffle maker, but it fits.

 A Knife

The manfriend bought me this. He recently bought me a pocketknife when we went on vacation to the Smokey Mountains, and then I immediately lost it. This is my replacement knife. I picked it because it's easy to open with one hand, which is important to me because I'm secretly a greaser in an old movie.

This Pair of Shoes

I found a pair of Converse that are practically new. I mean, they were covered in dog hair, but what isn't covered in dog hair these days?

Some DVDs

When I first picked up Ice Road Terror, I thought the cover depicted a T-Rex chasing a semi truck, but on second inspection, I realized it's actually a komodo dragon. I guess it doesn't matter, as long as it's the size of a jumbo jet.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Why Don't We Speak Ill of the Dead?

Because they come back to haunt you.

The scathing obituary trend has claimed yet another victim – the late Cornelia June Rogers Miller of Murphy, North Carolina, whose “horrified” family claims they have no idea who wrote the obituary that accuses their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of drug addiction and years of abuse. The obituary appears to have been plagiarized, with some phrases lifted directly from the obit of Leslie Ray “Popeye” Charping and others lifted from the obituary of Dolores Aguilar, which has been verified real by Snopes. Real or not, Mrs. Miller’s obituary has gone viral, and leaves me wondering, why the traditional proscription against speaking ill of the dead?

I googled the question, hoping to find some information about the history of this custom. Instead I found a brief Wikipedia article explaining the Latin phrase “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum,” but with nothing to put this information in context; some links to websites catering to ESL speakers; and discussion of the matter on multiple forums. Nothing official.
So, as I have done in the past, I turned to Facebook. Responses from Facebook friends included:

  • “I dunno. Sometimes I do.”
  • “Out of respect.”
  • “They aren’t here to defend themselves” or “they can’t reply.”
  • Only God can judge us.
  • “Because they will come back and haunt you.”
  • “To avoid feelings of morbid reflection…celebrate the good times.”
  • So no one will speak ill of us after we’re dead.
  • Because “we want to remember people differently than they were,” and my favorite,
  • “Why not? They’ll never know” – so, best do it while they’re alive, amirite?

My friend Mark responded, “Because of necromancers. You talk ill of the dead and all the sudden skeletons are like sup I heard you talking sh*t.” Another friend claimed, “If you had issues, it was on you to work them out before they passed.” Uh huh, sure. Maybe it was on them. You don’t know my life.

Someone else pointed out that, traditionally, “Folks believed that the dead spoke to either God or the saints and put in a good word for the living.” This kind of makes sense. You don’t want to piss off Great Aunt Jennibeth if she might still be able to exact vengeance. On the other hand, considering what she was like, you’re probably f&cked no matter what you do.

Democratic Underground user starroute claims that not only was it traditionally considered bad luck to speak ill of the dead, but mentioning them by name at all “was all too likely to call them up and could lead to very bad results…if you couldn’t totally avoid mentioning the dead, you should at least say something flattering so they wouldn’t get pissed and come trouble you.” You don’t want creepy uncle Tommert to keep giving you those lingering hugs from beyond the grave.

Of course, there’s a yuge double standard when it comes to speaking ill of the dead, and that’s public figures. No one bats an eye if you call Adolph Hitler the evilest man who ever lived, but point out that Grandpa was an alcoholic and suddenly you’re some kind of an asshole. It hardly seems fair, does it?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Make America Medieval Again

Have you guys heard about those new rape-proof panties they’re making? They lock up your vag belt so that rapists can’t get in. I’m not kidding, they literally have a lock on them. They’re also allegedly tear-proof and resistant to cutting, can’t be pulled down, and have little boyshort legs so, that, presumably, the rapist can’t just sneak in from the side, although I’m skeptical about that. They also contain a “skeletal structure” of wire mesh that covers the genital area. Yes, friends, this is a modern-day chastity belt. Here it is:

So that’s what we’ve come to as a society – asking women to literally lock up their genitals. What is wrong with you people?

Oh, right. Lots.

On the surface, the rape-proof underpants might not seem like such a bad idea. Whilst wearing these panties, a woman can trip merrily, unaccompanied, down the darkest street in town in the middle of the night, while wearing the shortest skirt she owns, and chugging from a handle of Jim Beam, and she’ll be safe from rape. Any would-be rapist would give up and scurry, baffled, back into the night once he encounters the rape-proof panties. Right?

Well, let’s deconstruct this a little bit. Firstly, like murders, most rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. That means you’d have to wear the rape-proof panties 24/7 in order to effectively prevent all rapes. What a pain in the ass. They don’t look that comfortable, and I have a lot of questions. Will the little legs ride up my fat thighs?1 Is that tear- and cut-resistant fabric breathable?2 Are these going to give me the mother of all yeast infections?3 Are they flame-retardant? What if I forget how to open the lock? Is there a customer service number for that? “Hello, yes, I can’t get my underwear off.” Brilliant.

Not to mention, as a friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, the rape-proof panties could complicate having consensual encounters, too. Imagine going out to the bar, safe in the knowledge that you can finally have a few drinks without being sexually violated, only to meet the man of your dreams and end up going back to his place. What are you going to say? “Forsooth, fair knight, hast thou the key to yon chastity belt?” That’ll make a cute story to tell at your wedding, and won’t make you look ridiculous or paranoid at all.

I think it’s also worth noting, as another friend pointed out, that the rape-proof panties don’t protect you from being viciously beaten or even murdered by a violent offender who had his heart set on raping someone but has now been thwarted by a pair of underwear. I think it’s also fair to say that we should really be calling these “rape-resistant” panties, because they really only prevent rapes in two of the three available orifices. Yes, I went there.

Also, if you get into a car accident or something while you’re wearing them, it’s going to take the literal Jaws of Life to get those puppies off. So, good luck with that.

1. [They will.]
2. [Probably not.]
3. [Oh hells yes.]

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Do My Cats Love Me, or Do They Love My Chair?

Are cats capable of feeling love? I think so. I often see a look in the eyes of my cats that at least passes for loving. According to Dr. Berit Brogaard, writing in Psychology Today,  the brains of cats are 90 percent similar, in structure, to our own. Dr. Brogaard goes on to say that, while cats demonstrate a more avoidant attachment style than dogs typically do, they are capable of becoming attached to their caregivers. Of course, if you've ever owned a cat, you already understood this. My cats follow me around the house all day long. When I come home, they are waiting at the door to greet me. Fatty will sleep in my bed at night if I let him, and if I don't let him, he scratches furiously at the door with both front feet until I emerge. 

Whenever I sit down in my favorite chair, a cat sits on me. Max does this weird thing where he'll jump on my lap, knead at my belly for several minutes, and then curl up on or next to my feet, usually staring at me adoringly. Fatty is more of a lap cat. He'll spend hours sleeping on my lap. Even Penny, when she was still with us, eventually warmed up to the idea of sitting on my lap, although her favorite place to sit for most of our time together was on the arm of my chair.

The chair in question.

I always thought this behavior was a sign of their love for me. Fatty probably thinks I'm his mother, seeing as how I rescued him from a Wal-Mart parking lot when he was three weeks old. Max is less attached. But recently the manfriend remarked, "I don't think they're sitting on you because they love you. I think it's the chair."

I realize that on the surface, that sounds kind of harsh. Obviously they love me, but he kind of has a point. When I sit on the couch, or in my office chair, they're nowhere near as interested in sitting on me. Most tellingly, whenever the manfriend sits in the chair, they suddenly discover a newfound interest in sitting on him, too. Also, there is almost always a cat in the chair whether anyone is sitting in it or not.

They're using me to get to the chair. Those little bastards. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

3 Reasons I Want to Stress-Eat Right Now

Last month, I finished my master's program at WVU. That means I've developed a
number of new skills, chief among them, stress eating. I'm not f&cking kidding here. I've
gained 30 lbs. My GP blames my anti-depressants, which can, in his words, "make people
hungry," but I blame the fact that, while I quit smoking over five years ago, I didn't quit
needing to put something into my mouth every time I'm upset. So throughout my very
demanding program, I have stuffed my face and fed my sugar addiction on the daily.
I tried, halfheartedly, or perhaps quarter-heartedly, or even one-fifth-heartedly, to stop. These efforts mostly amounted to asking my psychiatrist what I should do about the stress-eating. She replied, "Try the organic Oreos."

I, however, didn't want to let the matter go. "But, I mean, is it healthy to eat a whole sleeve of Oreos at one time?"

"Don't they come in trays?"

"Okay, a tray, then."

She shrugged. "I think you should do what makes you happy."

So, thusly blessed by the medical establishment, I kept on eating my problems. But now
that I've finished my degree, I'd like to stop. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure what I'm
supposed to do with my problems if I'm not eating them. I mean, what's the alternative to eating your problems -- solving them, like some kind of animal? Here are some of the problems I'm currently trying not to eat.

1) I Don't Have a Job

Having just finished a degree means I don't have a job. I'm can still freelance and I'm
doing that, but I've reached a stage in my life when I want sick days and paid vacations.
I'm also intrigued by the thought of regular paychecks. But I'm job hunting in West
Virginia, a state not known for its thriving economy. It's not looking good. 

2) I Don't Want to Move

Ok, so on the one hand, I guess I'm not super in love with the idea of staying in West
Virginia. But if there's one thing I've learned in my many travels, it's that there's
something to be said for being close to your people, even if, like me, you don't really
have that many people. It's hard making new friends as an adult, and I'm well into that
part of adulthood in which all of my peers already have enough friends, thank you, and are
too busy taking care of their kids to hang out with anyone, anyway. Plus, I've been here
for years; I have friends, routines, and a life here. I've spent my entire adult life
tearing up stakes and moving every few years, and I'm sick of it. Moving is a pain in the

3) One of My Cats Just Died

OMG you guys, my most affectionate, best-behaved, favorite cat just died and it was
traumatic. She had been sick with an unspecified illness that caused severe anemia and
lethargy, so I took her to the vet, and he ordered several tests and prescribed some
antibiotics. The next morning I gave her the antibiotics, and she immediately started
vomiting, pissed herself, and slipped into a state in which she was lying on the floor, panting and groaning, unable to move. I rushed her back to the vet, which is like half an hour from
my house because #fml, and they said it looked like she'd had a stroke. X-rays showed
that her heart had become enlarged because of the anemia (which had likely been
chronic), and the vet thought that some blood had become trapped therein, where it clotted, only to be forced out by the vomiting. So I had to put her to sleep. The last time I had to put a cat to sleep it sucked, but I had known he was sick for a few weeks; I had time to prepare myself, and he wasn't in pain. Penny died suddenly, and not peacefully. She suffered, and I watched her suffer, powerless to stop it. I brought her home and buried her in the garden, under the strawberry patch, since the strawberries never did that well, anyway. I put some cinder blocks over her grave so that nothing would dig her up, and I'm going to make a nice headstone for her. But then I'll probably have to move and leave her here. It's enough to make me want to scarf an entire package of fatty, sugary, non-organic Oreos.

Rest in peace, sweetie. :'(

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

9 Reasons I Don’t Want to Be Your Friend

All the friend I need.

It may not surprise you to learn that I don’t have a lot of friends. Here’s why:

9) You Have Offended Me in Some Small Way

I can hold a grudge like no other, even if it’s over some stupid, petty shit you did in passing two years ago that no one remembers but me. No, I don’t want to talk about it. Go away.

8) You Hang Around with Assholes

I have a lot of flaws. For example, I'm a terrible judge of character. But I've learned that if somebody's friends are assholes, they're probably an asshole too. Quit bringing your asshole friends around, asshole.

7) You’re a Bigot

I run into this a lot more often than you might think, and these people never seem to realize what’s wrong with them. I’ll meet someone and they’ll seem perfectly normal, and then they’ll say, “Say what you will about Donald Trump but at least he speaks his mind,” and just like that, all bets are off.

6) I Already Have Enough Friends

The older I get the more curmudgeonly I get, and I was never a social butterfly to begin with. What I’m trying to say here is that I already have, like, three friends. That’s at least four more than I need. All friend positions have been filled, but there are still some openings for casual acquaintances. Please write a letter no more than two pages in length detailing all the reasons why you think you should be my acquaintance, then throw it away and buy me a beer.

5) Don’t Take This Personally, but You Exhaust Me

No really, don’t take it personally. Everyone exhausts me; I'm an introvert. 

I know most people seem to desperately need to be engaged with others ALL THE FREAKING TIME EVEN WHEN THEY’RE ASLEEP, but I socialize the way some people exercise. That is to say I often don’t want to, and sometimes I hate every minute of it, but I do it anyway because I know I will get sick and die if I don’t. When I invite you to get a coffee that means I want to get a coffee. It does not mean I also want to then get lunch, see a movie, go for a hike, get dinner, accompany you grocery shopping, and then go back to yours to watch another movie.

4) You Won’t Shut Up About Your Political or Personal Beliefs

Unless they happen to be the same as mine, of course, in which case I will happily listen to you talk about them till the end of time.

3) You’re Judgmental

It’s probably judgmental of me to say so, but stop being so judgmental. Surely you can think of something better to talk about than how all the other people in the restaurant are clearly living their lives wrong because they need a haircut, or are fat, or dared to bring a child out in public, or are wearing mismatched socks. Have a little fucking compassion, why don’t you.

Also, I am fat, and probably wearing mismatched socks.

2) You Don’t Laugh at My Jokes

Tbf, most of my jokes are stupid, but when someone tells a joke – especially someone with whom you claim to want to be friends – you do one of two things: you laugh, because you found it funny, or you pretend to laugh, because you are polite. What you don't do is heave a big, put-upon sigh and say, “Ohhhhhkaaaaay." 

1) You Offer Your Condolences When You Find Out I Lived Abroad

Okay, so I’ll admit not everyone is a big enough douchenozzle to say “I’m sorry” when I tell them I lived in France, but it’s happened more than once, most notably at my grandmother’s wake, when an old school friend of my mother’s offered his condolences for ENTIRELY THE WRONG THING. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to offer someone some fake-ass jokey condolences for doing something awesome, DO NOT DO IT AT THE FUNERAL OF THAT PERSON’S BELOVED RELATIVE. That’s solid life advice, kids – take it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Marched Because My Vote Didn't Count


I went to the Women's March on Washington this weekend with some friends from my grad program at WVU. Here I am decked out in all my finery:

 I had known before I went to the march that I wasn't the only American dismayed by the outcome of the 2016 election -- far from it. Hillary won the popular vote by 2.9 million, but because our electoral system is jacked, my own vote and that of three million other Americans just didn't count. Hillary Clinton got more than 65.8 million votes. That means there's a good chance that any person you might meet voted for Hillary, and that's not even counting the 40 percent of eligible voters that didn't bother to participate in the democratic process. I think it's safe to assume that some percentage of those people don't support Trump, even if they might be somewhat apathetic in their dislike. But you know what they say -- if you don't vote, you're not allowed to complain when they take you to the camps.

But even though I knew that many people oppose Trump's rhetoric and policies, it was still pretty awesome to see them all in one place, with my own eyes. Conservative estimates place the Women's March turnout at half a million. I would not be surprised if there were 700,000 or more. There were so many people at the March that we couldn't even march. We just kind of shuffled on Washington. We also stood still on Washington quite a lot. Several renditions of "We Shall Overcome" were sung, along with "This Land Is Your Land," "This Little Light of Mine," and a peppy one that was, ironically, about marching. There was also the requisite chanting. My favorite chant was "We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter," although "Fuck you Trump" also had a certain ring to it.

There were many creative signs.
After we had our fill of shuffling, singing, and chanting, we went back to the place where we were staying and the lovely people who welcomed us into their home for the weekend, where we found out that others were marching in cities all over the country -- and the world. Three quarters of a million people turned out in Los Angeles alone. They were even marching in Antarctica. With 673 marches worldwide, some are calling the Women's March on Washington the largest protest in history. 

We all want President Tinyhands to do a good job, myself included, but it doesn't seem likely. I didn't like Dubya, but it would be great if we could give Twitler back and get Dubya instead. I'd settle for giving Trumplethinskin back and getting Reagan's disintegrating corpse instead. Compared to Trump, Reagan's disintegrating corpse would make a FINE president.

I didn't post about the election, even though I wanted to. I kept trying to put my thoughts and feelings into words, but what could I say? I've always been fascinated by the Many Worlds theory, and I've believed, deep down, that there must be an alternate universe out there, or perhaps many alternate universes. But now I realize that this is the alternate universe, and the normal, sane universe, where the President paid attention in kindergarten and therefore knows how to be nice and share, is chilling out somewhere else, separated from us by a skin as thin as a soap bubble's, so close we can almost touch it. Maybe, together, we can make it to that place.

But in the meantime, #ReagansCorpse2020.