Saturday, March 19, 2016

My Reputation Always Precedes Me

Recently, I was talking to an old friend and he reminded me of why I’ve always had a problem making new friends. It's not just because I’m an asshole, it’s also partly because I’m a five-year-old in a thirty-three-year-old's body. That means I go around doing weird things, like leaping into the air for no reason, or breaking into a run, or walking around muttering to myself and giggling. I sing in the shower at the gym. Last week I ate a Fruit Rollup in class and believe you me, it was noticed.

My mother wouldn't buy them for me when I was a girl, so now I buy them for myself. What.

During this conversation with this friend, he confided that when we first met, “Everyone told me to stay away from you.” I took this confession with a lump of salt because, let’s be real, the “everyone” in that sentence refers to a bunch of ass-gaskets.
I was like, “When I was in the fifth grade there was a rumor going around the school that I would bite anyone who got too close to me. Nothing you’ve heard could be worse than that.” Of course, I didn't find out about this rumor until my freshman year of high school, so who knows if it was true, but I would be heartbroken if it wasn't.
 
So, I asked my old friend why “everyone” told him to stay away from me, and then I immediately regretted it because I realized it would be something really weird and insulting. All my life people have been hearing weird rumors about me and then they actually get to know me and they're like, shocked to discover that I'm a regular human being and not, for example, an escaped mental patient or a mad scientist. Several months ago I was talking to a girl I know in France and she asked me a question, I can’t remember what, and I replied, “Because I’m crazy – haven’t you heard?” and she laughed entirely too loudly and I realized that yeah, she had heard.
 
I expected my old friend to tell me he'd heard I kept a shrine in my closet covered with locks of hair taken from everyone I'd ever sat behind in class, or that I peed into Mason jars at home and kept the jars under my bed, or that if you pissed me off I'd borrow a cup of sugar from your mother and use it to put a curse on your entire family for seven generations, or that instead of eating normal food I went out on rainy nights to catch live toads and bite their heads right off. But instead of saying anything remotely bizarre, my old friend told me, “They said you were easy,” and I was taken aback. l literally told him, “OMG HA HA HA THAT’S NOT EVEN A CHARACTER FLAW!” I mean, everyone knows that’s just something a man says when he's pissed off that you slept with some other guy and not with him. But even now, when I meet someone new and they say, “I’ve heard so much about you,” I can’t help but wonder if they're worried I'm going to bite them.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Decorating Isn't My Thing

I heard someone say recently that the way you decorate your home is a reflection of your personality. If that’s true, I found my personality in a dumpster and it has seen better days. Some of my personality was left here by the previous owners. The cats are doing irreparable damage to my personality, and I give zero fucks.

Decorating has never been a big priority for me. My own mother decorated her home with cobwebs, ninja weapons, dirty dishes, and cats, so I feel like a vintage tin sign advertising fishing tackle is a step in the right direction, even though I don’t fish.
I guess you could say I don’t get emotionally invested in material things. When you put it that way, it sounds very Zen. I promise you, I am not enlightened. I was feeling anxious yesterday so I scarfed down an entire bag of gummy bears and also some other stuff. I sob inconsolably when I have too much to drink, and also sometimes when I haven’t. I have a habit of dating people who don’t have jobs. I have been known to get snappy when I am feeling irritable. These are not the actions of an enlightened person.
But in the swiftly receding days of my wildly misspent youth, I lived out of a Dodge Neon for six months. That Dodge Neon was better decorated than my house is right now, but only because my artist boyfriend drew on the headliner with a Sharpie. I have also lived out of backpacks, tents, vans and RVs (not all of which ran, I feel compelled to add), squat houses, and for one memorable two-week period, a cave. A CAVE, YOU GUYS. It was in Wisconsin. I don’t exactly regret it – all things considered, I have surprisingly few regrets – but if you’re going to live in a cave, take my advice and don’t do it in Wisconsin, in October.
All of which is to say that if there is one thing I’ve learned in my many travels, it’s that there are more important things than having nice furniture.
Like having furniture, for a start.

 

 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Adulting Wins to Be Proud Of: Taking Down the Christmas Tree Within a Reasonable Amount of Time



Even though I don’t really celebrate Christmas, I still wind up with a Christmas tree every year because I throw an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party and it wouldn’t be a Christmas party without some festive decorations.

KHAAAAAAAN!

When I was a girl, my grandparents bought real trees, but my mother and I owned an artificial tree that she kept in the attic along with a box of ornaments. Each year we’d put up the artificial tree, decorate it with our beat-up plastic ornaments, and smother it in tinsel, because my mother was no Frank Costanza. Catholics, you may or may not be aware, celebrate Christmas until 6 January, the Epiphany, the day when the Wise Men are said to have finally reached Bethlehem and recognized that Christ was the Son of God. Each year, on Boxing Day, my mother would say, “We can’t take the tree down until January 6.”

And then it would stay up until March.

Christina Majaski once left her Christmas tree up for at least a year, until she had to put it down because it attacked her dog. It even had its own Twitter account and its own Facebook. I hear tell that Crazy Christmas Tree went so far as to sign up for Plenty of Fish. Ten thousand years from now, scientists of the future are going to dig up our Internetz and who knows what they’ll think.

But I digress. I was talking to a cousin from the other side of the family last night and she was all, "I haven't even taken my Christmas trees" (that's right, more than one!) "down yet," but she was pleased when I explained that you're not supposed to have taken them down yet because Wise Men, Bethlehem, etc. 

"That means I can put it off until next weekend," she said, happily.

And that's adulting done right.

Friday, January 1, 2016

It Wouldn’t Be a New Year Without Some Resolutions

Those of you who are still reading along at home despite my frequent periods of blog neglect will remember that I have a somewhat mottled track record when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. I mean, who doesn’t. As previously established, only eight percent of those who make New Year’s Resolutions keep them. But I’m not a quitter, and I’m not going to let year after year of failure stop me from failing again.

But wait! I don’t always fail! In 2012, I resolved to quit smoking for the umpteenth time, and I actually did it! For real this time, not one of those “quit smoking for two months and then start again because everyone else is doing it” quit smoking attempts. Even if I sometimes sit in traffic and daydream about smoking the hell out of a cigarette, it still counts.

Last year, I resolved to start eating better, which…I mean…I stopped eating chocolate spread. That’s got to count for something.

This year, my friend Melody texted me two days before New Year’s and was like “let’s get drunk on New Year’s Eve so we can resolve to drink less next year” and OMG you guys, let's never drink again.

I also resolved to amass a collection of awesome cat T-shirts, because I’m 33 years old and it’s time I did something with my life. I already have one, so that’s a headstart:


It's a men's T-shirt, so it actually covers my entire torso when I lift my arms. Who knew?

But those aren’t the resolutions you came here to read, and they’re not the resolutions I came here to make. Those resolutions are just the icing on top of the determination cake.

In 2014, I resolved to write a book. I complained that I struggle with writing stories because I can’t think of any plots. Lots of people gave me some really unhelpful advice about how I should “just start writing and the rest will come, honest” because I guess they must have skipped over the part of the post where I explained that I have tried that strategy already several dozen times. One genius suggested that I just write non-fiction, which is of course what I decided to do.

If you read my 2014 Year in Review post, you’ll know that I only finished about 17,000 words of that book in 2014. So, technically I guess that still counts as a fail. And I didn’t even bother making any resolutions this year, but I kept plugging away and now I have 47,500 words. This is the year, guys, I’m really gonna do it. I’m gonna finish the book I resolved to write in 2014!

Or at least the first draft of it, anyway.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: My Year in Review

I began last year’s year in review post by apologizing for not having blogged enough last year, and it looks like I’m going to have to begin this one by again apologizing for not having blogged enough last year. I’m sorry I didn’t blog enough last year, you guys. I know I’m only hurting myself by allowing my readership to drift off, but running a blog is hard and unlike some blogs I write for, it’s not like anyone is paying me for this one.

Unlike last year, this year has been really interesting. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I Spent Three Months in France


As I mentioned in my 2014 post, I spend the first few months of the year in France. My plane landed at Geneva seven minutes before they closed the airport for the night, and I missed my Easybus shuttle transfer to Chamonix, so I had to spend the night in the airport. When I finally arrived at like noon the next day, I discovered that there was no power in the apartment because the previous tenant didn’t pay his bill and the landlord hadn’t got the shutoff notice because he lives in the UK and never goes to the flat. It was a real clusterfuck. Luckily I was able to get the power turned on after only three bitterly cold nights in the French Alps in the middle of winter. 

I guess I shouldn’t complain, though, I did get to spend three months in France. But while I was away, ants built a nest in one of the burners on my range. I didn't realize this until I put something on the stove to boil, turned away for a minute, and turned back to find the top of my stove swarming with ants. They were even falling off the front of it like teeny-tiny September 11th victims. It was an exciting five minutes.

I Dumped a Guy


Many moons ago now, I ended a relationship and decided that I needed some time alone to figure myself out. I told myself I’d give myself a year. A year went by, but I still didn’t feel like I’d adequately figured myself out. So I gave myself another year, and then another, and then before I knew it, six years had gone by and I was all, “Shit, I forgot to start dating again.”
So while I was back in France, I got together with an old friend. He’d wanted to date me before, but I turned him down on the grounds that I didn’t think it would work out between us. Unfortunately for all involved, I was correct in that initial assessment.

I Got Dumped


This is notable because I hadn’t been dumped since like 2009, and I had forgotten what an ego blow it can be. Sure, I was upset that the guy didn’t want to date me anymore, but it was more because it hurt my pride than because I actually liked him all that much. He was kind of an odd duck, to be fair. He didn’t know who Neil DeGrasse Tyson is and he once brought me a potholder for no reason.

I Started Grad School


And this, Dear Reader, is why I haven’t blogged in a while. I’m working on a Master of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing at WVU while teaching two sections of English 101, freelancing on the weekends, and working on that book that I resolved to finish in 2014. So, blogging hasn’t been a big priority for me over the past few months, but I’ve got high hopes for next year.

I Found a Snake in My Kitchen 


It was a baby rat snake, about three inches long. I had to catch it in a plastic cup and slide a manilla envelope under it and then do that thing where you turn the cup over real quick, except I kept fucking it up and dropping the snake and then Fatty saw the snake and then it became a kind of race against death for the snake. I prevailed in the end and was able to release the (probably traumatized) snake into my flowerbed, and then I only spent like a month worrying that there might be a whole nest of baby snakes under my fridge or something.


I Didn’t Finish the Book



As I mentioned above, I resolved to write a book in 2014. At the end of 2014, I confessed that I had only written about 17,000 words. I still haven’t finished the book, but I’ve made a lot of progress – I now have a little more than 47,500 words, or about 200 pages. Up until five minutes ago I was all, “I’m making terrible progress on this book I’m supposed to be writing,” but then I wrote this paragraph and now I’m actually quite pleased with myself. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Special Report on the War on Christmas*

Previously, we here at Don’t Call Me Marge declared the War on Christmas over, with Christmas emerging victorious from the long-running conflict that has devastated major world economies and spawned a decade-long worldwide refugee crisis. But tensions have been riding high ever since, and now our correspondents report that the cease-fire has crumbled. The Christmas Treaty has been broken, and the War on Christmas is raging once again.

It’s not yet clear who fired the first shots in this latest escalation in the war on this embattled holiday, but the fighting is already terrible and bloody. A coalition of international authorities has not yet been able to penetrate the most volatile areas, but reports of chemical warfare are circulating. Sources indicate that the enemies of Christmas may even be using tinsel and sparkly fake snow against civilian noncombatants.

In a shocking new development, it appears that Thanksgiving has entered the War on Christmas in an effort to regain the vast swaths of territory it has lost to Christmas’s unimpeded encroachment over the past several years. Representatives for the November holiday say that Thanksgiving is “sick of all this bullsh*t” and “ready to show that red-suited f*cker what happens when you mess with The Turkey.”

Early reports suggest that Thanksgiving’s longtime ally, Halloween, has also entered the War. “It’s only a matter of time before Christmas comes for us, too,” Halloween says.

Meanwhile, some believe that all may not be as it seems with the War on Christmas. “This is a classic proxy war,” says a source who wished to remain anonymous. “Hanukah and Kwanzaa are funneling in weapons and troops. Follow the money, man.”

At press time, Homeland Security was taking steps to protect noncombatants on U.S. soil. Children around the country may be nestling all snug in their beds, but Santa Claus has been banned from the country. The foreign national holds no passport, and has regularly flouted the authority of customs officials and the TSA.


Presidential hopeful Adolph Trumpler supports the ban on Santa. “Every year, that socialist violates our air space to give handouts to lazy children who can’t even do an honest day’s work to pay for them,” says Trumpler. “It’s time real Americans took a stand.”



*With special thanks to my friend Mark for basically coming up with this whole idea.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fun Friday Facts #117: Why Doesn’t America Use Metric?

When you’re an American living abroad, you’re subjected to any number of rude questions like “Why are you all so fat?” and “Why are you all so stupid?” One French girl even wanted to know why America refuses to split up into several smaller countries, because obviously, “It’s too big.” No, this woman has never visited the United States, as far as I know, and when I asked her if she felt the same way about Canada, she appeared unaware that Canada is really big.

You’re also expected to provide thoughtful, cogent responses to questions that would take most people years of thorough research to answer, such as “What’s the deal with all the guns?” or “Why don’t you guys have universal health care?” or, if the person in question has traveled or lived in any part of the country besides New York City, “Why isn’t there any public transport?” (Of course, if the person has traveled or lived in New York City – AND THEY ALL FUCKING HAVE – the question becomes “Why don’t you just walk places instead of driving? Then you all wouldn’t be so fat.” “I live ten miles from the nearest town” is not the most convincing response to such a remark, because they all think “ten miles” is the equivalent of like 500 meters or something.

I don’t want to discuss guns, health care, or the obesity epidemic at this juncture, but there’s one question that has remained foremost in my mind throughout my many travels, and as you might have guessed, that’s “Why doesn’t America use the metric system?” The whole rest of the world uses it, except for the aptly named Liberia and Myanmar, but Myanmar has recently chosen to metricate, like a bunch of sissies.

Though there are some differences between the British Imperial system and the American customary system, the American system is based on the British Imperial system, which spread throughout the English-speaking world courtesy of, you guessed it, British imperialism. That system was developed in an era when most people couldn’t do much math – the most the average person could do was divide things into halves, quarters, and possibly thirds. They certainly couldn’t cope with tenths, a necessary skill for working with the metric system. That’s why the weights and measurements of the Imperial and customary systems are, for the most part, easily divisible into halves and quarters and thirds – just about any illiterate medieval peasant could figure out what one-third of a foot is, but one-third of a decimeter is BURN THE WITCH.

Probably.

The French government implemented the metric system following the Revolution as a solution to the growing clusterfuck of non-standardized and conflicting systems of measurement that was engulfing the country as a whole, standing in the way of commerce, and generally causing giant pains in everyone’s culs. Stephen Mihm, associate professor of history at the University of Georgia, told The Atlantic that “it took many decades for France to get its citizens to adopt [the metric system] – there were many, many setbacks and a staggering amount of resistance.” The implementation of the metric system was part of the First French Republic’s attempt to decimalize the whole of French society, introducing the French Republican Calendar and implementing ten-day weeks and 100-minute hours that were twice as long as normal hours. (I bet you can guess how well that went over.) While most of the changes were eventually abandoned, the metric system quickly caught on among other countries looking for a standardized system of measurement.

By the end of the 19the century, most countries around the world had adopted the metric system, but the United States, among other Anglophone nations, clung to the Imperial/customary system. Initially, American reluctance to switch to the metric system hinged on the objections of Industrial-era machine and tool manufacturers, who had already based the whole of their manufacturing systems on the inch. They claimed that retooling their entire factories to produce metric tools and equipment could be financially disastrous, and successfully lobbied to block the adoption of the metric system numerous times over the 19th and 20th century.

Nevertheless, if you’re American, you may have noticed that you buy your soda in liters and that there are centimeters down one side of your ruler. At some point, a school teacher may have even fruitlessly attempted to teach you metric conversion. There was a time in more recent history when the United States almost joined the rest of the world in counting by tens. As former British colonies around the world, and even the UK itself, began adopting the metric system in the 1960s, America decided to do the same. In 1975, Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act and established the Metric Board to oversee the transition to metric. However, Congress made metrication voluntary, and the public rebelled. Some argued that metrication was unpatriotic. The director of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame called the proposal “definitely communist.” Some feared it would pave the way for a Soviet takeover of the United States. But mostly, people just didn’t want to learn a whole new system. By 1982, the dream of metric in the United States was dead. President Reagan disassembled the Metric Board, and democracy was safe once again.


For now.
Image by Catherine Munro at Wikimedia Commons.