Thursday, November 30, 2017

Resistance Fatigue

If there's one thing I can say for this administration, it's that I, like many other Americans, am politically engaged on a deeper level than I've ever been, indeed on a deeper level than I ever thought possible. Is this President Trump thing a long con run by a shadowy cabal if frustrated high school civics teachers? Because it sure as hell feels like it. 

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't entirely *uninvolved* before. I knew who my representatives were, I dutifully voted, I complained about faithfully about Dubya for eight whole years. When Obama got elected to his first term, I watched the inauguration online from France and cried. Twice, I even watched a political debate. (in my defense, I didn't see the need to watch debates because I always knew I was going to vote for a Democrat anyway. I'm a queer woman who cares about other people -- who else am I gonna vote for?)

But now I don't just know who my representatives are -- I tweet at them. And I use Resistbot to fax and email them. I even called once -- although I nearly panicked when an honest-to-God human being picked up the phone on the other end, so I never called again. I don't follow Trump on Twitter, because I don't want to give him the satisfaction, but I pay attention to the news and I complain to my representatives in Congress, threatening not to vote for them in 2018, but failing to mention that I wasn't going to vote for them in 2018 in the first place.

The thing is, as I'm sure that many of you have noticed, this administration is wall-to-wall batshit. It's crazy tweets and racist immigration policies and attacks on free speech all the way down. No sooner have I got done faxing my Senators about one thing then I'm faxing them about another. It's exhausting. I am experiencing resistance fatigue, and as a result, my faxes to Congress have lately become a little unhinged. Here are some actual excerpts from a recent fax:

  • I'm frankly sick and tired of writing you people to ask you to STOP. TRYING. TO REPEAL. THE ACA. (But don't worry, I'm not going to stop).
  • Do you want our brightest minds to go abroad for affordable educations and stay there to begin their careers? Because that's what's going to happen if you pass this [tax] bill.
  • If you expect me to vote for you in November 2018, WHICH CAN'T COME SOON ENOUGH IN MY OPINION, you'll vote against this devastating tax bill.

I've learned that there's one thing that really sucks about civic engagement: When I write my representatives, THEY WRITE BACK. Yes, I know it's just a form letter. Yes, I know I shouldn't read it. But I always do, just in case it might say something sensible for a change, but it never does, and I always want to just hurl my laptop into the sun, or at least hit REPLY and type KISS MY ROSY RED ASS, SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, YOU ARE SO FULL OF SHIT. But I can't, because it's a no-reply email address, which is just as well because I probably shouldn't be telling U.S. Senators to kiss my ass. Probably.

Besides, Shelley Moore Capito doesn't even read my emails herself. It's some unpaid Congressional intern who has 517,978 more emails to answer to earn her father's freedom. I can't tell that overworked kid to kiss my ass. 

I no longer have the energy to fax my representatives every day -- about once or twice a week is all I can manage -- but Resistbot, my most reliable friend, still texts me every day, reminding me that "It's time to tell Congress what's on your mind!" and "You should never doubt that your voice can make a difference!"

Shouldn't I, Resistbot? Shouldn't I?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

6 Facebook Reactions We Need Now More Than Ever

Guys, it’s Day 29 of NaBloPoMo and I almost forgot to write a blog post. In fact, it’s technically Day 30 of NaBloPoMo, but we all know the day doesn’t really end until you go to bed, or the sun comes up, whichever happens first. I’ll be glad when this hellish blogging challenge is over.

If, like me, you’ve long campaigned for the Facebook dislike button, you may have welcomed the rollout of Facebook Reactions with a certain amount of…well, not excitement, really…let’s say…attentiveness. But while the reactions do allow us a minimally broadened range of emotion in our interactions with distant relations and old high school classmates, they still leave a lot to be desired. Especially lately. Here are the Facebook reactions we need in Trump’s America.

1) Barf

Image by Ebrahim from Wikimedia Commons

Is Congress trying to take your healthcare, again? Are Nazis rallying in your hometown? Is Garrison Keillor a f*ckbag? Is it snowing? You need the barf reaction, and you need it now.

2) Middle Finger

Image by Ebrahim from Wikimedia Commons

Dislike button? It’s too late for a dislike button. Angry face? Doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s time to bring out the big guns. We need the middle finger.

3) Eye Roll

Image by Ebrahim from Wikimedia Commons

Has your elderly aunt or first cousin twice removed praised the Lord one too many times this week? Is your high school homecoming queen posting those syrupy memes about how military wives are the best kind of wife there is? Now you can show them exactly how you feel about their deeply-held beliefs.

4) Popcorn

This one looks like a basket of assholes, a.k.a. Congress.
Image by Ebrahim from Wikimedia Commons

I need this one for when my white trash cousins are going all Jerry Springer up in my News Feed, all-capsing each other in a desperate bid to be king or queen of the trailer park. It’s not a contest, guys, you can all be awful.

5) Disappointed-But-Not-Surprised Face

I know what you’re thinking: Disappointed-but-not-surprised is an emotion to subtle for an emoji. Perhaps, but it’s the perfect reaction for today’s political climate. Has another beloved actor, news anchor, writer, or politician been outed as a sexual predator? Is Trump tweeting again? Disappointed-but-not-surprised face is the emoji innovation we’ve been waiting for. If we can put a man on the moon, and an evil hair piece in the White House, we can figure this one out.

6) Exhausted Face

Image by Ebrahim from Wikimedia Commons

Every day, all day. Is it 2020 yet?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

5 Things That Would Annoy Me If I Were Dating Me

One of the things I really love about my fiancé, Jim, is that he’s patient. Not “grow-a-beard” patient, because I won’t let him grow a beard, but “put-up-with-my-crap” patient. Here’s some of the stuff that I’d probably hate about me if I had to date me.

1) I bitch a lot.

OMG, do I ever bitch a lot. I’m a bitch. Past boyfriends and girlfriends have lodged a lot of complaints about me, my personality, my appearance, and my general approach to life. In their estimation, I’ve been:
  • Too skinny
  • Too fat
  • Too old (I was twenty-eight when I was told this. I replied, “How the f&ck old do you think twenty-eight is, motherf*cker?”)
  • Too “high maintenance,” whatever that means
  • Too dowdy
  • Too slutty
  • Not slutty enough
  • Too fussy about my appearance
  • Too lazy
  • Too ambitious
  • Too hairy
  • Not hairy enough

That’s just a small sampling of complaints that have been lodged against me by former lovers, many of whom have also bitched vociferously about my being a bitch without a trace of irony. It used to hurt my feelings when someone I was dating called me a bitch, but now I have come to accept that I am a bitch. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not okay with being called a bitch. Name-calling isn’t cool.

But I am a bitch. Call me a bitch? I’ll bitch about that. Leave some trash lying around? I’ll bitch about that. Leave dishes piled in the sink? I’ll bitch about that. Let my cats out by accident? You better believe I’ll bitch about that. Let me get hungry? OH SHIT YOU BETTER RUN.

2) I hate everyone.

I was going to put “I’m on my phone ALL. THE. TIME.” in this spot, because I am, but then I thought about it and realized that wouldn’t bother me at all. I like it when people are on their phones all the time, because then I don’t have to talk to them. I like people just fine, as long as they leave me alone.

But they never do.

3) I leave cupboard doors open.

I go into the kitchen, open up a bunch of cupboard doors, and then leave them open. The next time I walk through the kitchen, I close them again. If I was dating me and I did that I’d definitely bitch about it.

4) I always say I’m going to fix things, but then I don’t do it for like six months.

My future-father-in-law likes me because he thinks I like to fix things. I wouldn’t say I like it, but whenever something breaks it always falls to me to fix it because I’m the one with the confidence to f*ck it up. But I don’t enjoy it, which is why I always put it off. I have a stack of a flooring material in my garage that I’ve been saying I’ve been going to install for over three years. Once Jim thought he broke the vacuum cleaner, and I didn’t even look at it for two months, which is a shame because it just needed emptied. I'm impatient. If I were dating me, I’d definitely bitch about this pattern of behavior.

5) I’m cheap, apparently.

Jim recently called me “very thrifty,” which was news to me. I mean, I never considered myself cheap, but I’m probably biased because I obviously know about all the money I waste on frivolous things like meat and another jacket, even though I already have one. So yeah, I guess I’m cheap, which is funny because cheapness is one of my top deal breakers in a relationship. I would definitely dump me for being cheap.

Monday, November 27, 2017

What Do You Get the Cats Who Have Everything?

Christmas is coming up, and that means I have to decide what gift to buy for my cats this year. But it’s getting difficult, because my cats already have a lot of stuff.

I’m obviously going to stuff their stocking with catnip, treats, and cat toys, even though they already have lots of cat toys. Little has been digging them up from all over the house lately – catnip mice, catnip other things, a little tennis ball, a doorknob cover, a stuffed bunny, a big crinkly monkey head, and numerous milk rings, just to name a few. Last year, for their big gift I got them a Jackson Galaxy Crawl Tunnel, and Jim was so taken with the persona of Jackson Galaxy that he hung the label up on the wall, where it has become part of the décor.

I thought about getting my cats a new cat tree, but they don’t really need a new cat tree. Their five-foot-tall cat tree is still in pretty good shape, and they also have a two-foot-tall cat tree out on their catio, and they also have a catio. They don’t need a feeder puzzle; they have one of those, too.

They have two wand toys; one still makes chirping noises, but the other just makes a sad burbling sound occasionally that they seem to find no less fascinating. They also have what I like to call the cat donut:

It has a plastic ball in it.

I was going to get them a big new pet bed, but then I remembered that they have a big body pillow upstairs that I gave to them after I received it secondhand. I don’t know where I’d put a big new pet bed anyway. Besides, my cats don’t even need a bed – they have my boobs.

When I went away on my retreat a couple of weekends ago, I filled up the cat fountain and the sink with water as I usually do when I go out of town for a couple of days. But, I must not have seated the plug right, because all the water leaked out of the sink. The cats drank the fountain dry, and pump overheated and melted a little bit. Being as cheap as I am, I tried to buy a new pump on Amazon, but it didn’t fit. Rather than go risk going through pump after pump in a never-ending cycle of stubborn DIY fixitiveness, I decided, after much debate, to just buy a whole new fountain.

“You can call it their Christmas present this year,” Jim said.

Thinking like that is exactly why I’m marrying him.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

#Fatty2020: Fatty's Position on Net Neutrality

If you’re new here, you may not realize that my cat, Fatty, is running for President in 2020. It’s true, he is – and at least five people have already committed to voting for him!

As his campaign manager and the possessor of opposable thumbs, Fatty and I talk regularly about the issues important to American voters, so that he can give the people what they want. As a Cat of the People, Fatty is committed to making things better for honest, hardworking Americans, and also for lazy, dishonest Americans because Fatty doesn’t believe in discrimination, and also because he suspects that a lot of you who fancy yourselves in that first category actually belong to the second, ahem.

What? He tells it like it is!

ANYWAY, that’s why Fatty is appalled that the FCC wants to hand control of the Internet in the United States over to big companies, so that they can raise costs for average users by splitting access to online services into packages, impose data and bandwidth limits, and block or blacklist sites and services of which they don’t approve.

Fatty believes that access to a free and open Internet is a cornerstone of our democracy, and he strongly suspects that those who want to curtail that access are doing so because they don’t want us sharing ideas freely anymore. Fatty would like to point out that the Internet has done a lot of things that members of the current administration don’t like, such as:

  • Showing us what life is like in other countries, where they have things like universal health care, affordable higher education, livable minimum wages, and effective gun control laws;
  • Showing us that people who live under those allegedly appalling conditions are actually happy and healthy and can afford to have kids and take vacations and get sick, unlike many of us;
  • Enabling marginalized groups to band together and even become less marginalized;
  • Helping us get to know people who are different from us, so that we can see they’re not that different after all, and so that we might want to be more like them and/or let them come live here and/or not bomb them or at least bomb them a little freaking less;
  • Enabling us to put our ideas and beliefs before a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions, even billions, which includes
  • Casting light on injustice and effectively organizing for change.

That’s not to mention all the other things a free and open Internet lets us do, like stay in touch with loved ones who are increasingly forced to move to other states, cities, and countries to look for opportunities, order cat food, shop for cat toys, and binge watch human TV programs.

If elected, Fatty promises to take steps to protect net neutrality forever and ever, but he can’t do that unless the American people come together now to protect it for like the fortieth freakin’ time from corporate interests. The FCC votes to dismantle net neutrality rules on Dec. 14. Fatty implores you to use your opposable thumbs to call the FCC, repeatedly if possible, and tell them you support net neutrality:
  • Call 202-418-1000 to reach the office of Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC. Not sure what to say? Intimidated by the prospect of speaking to another human being? Fatty understands. Visit for a helpful script.
  • Text RESIST to 50409 to use Resistbot to send fast, free faxes to your representatives in Congress, and/or your governor, and/or the President

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Wacky People I’ve Met: Rapunzel’s Boyfriend

Long-time readers might remember how, about three years ago, I regaled you all with the tale of Tide Bottle Pee Man, a wacky person I met at Venice Beach, California. At the time that I wrote about Tide Bottle Pee Man, I’d meant to continue the series Wacky People I’ve Met with more stories, but then I guess I forgot about it – until recently, when I was looking through an old list of blog post ideas I’d made and I came across this one: Rapunzel’s Boyfriend.

I met Rapunzel’s Boyfriend in Davis, California in late 2004. I was traveling through with a friend, and we were violating the local open container laws when we met Rapunzel’s Boyfriend.

Now, if you don’t know me in real life – or maybe even if you do – there’s something you need to know about me. Whenever a group of people I’m with encounters a real nutcase, it always falls to me to interact with that nutcase. I don’t know why – maybe my friends consider me the best at interacting with nutcases, or maybe I need new friends. Maybe both.

Like a lot of wackos, Rapunzel’s Boyfriend didn’t seem like a wacko at first. I was sitting there, cross-legged, talking to him, and yeah, he seemed intense. He had short blonde hair and a face that seemed permanently puckered. He wore a gold crucifix on a long chain, and a flannel shirt unbuttoned over a wife beater. He leaned forward as he spoke to me, with passionate fervor, of the love of his life.

“I’ve been with this girl for years,” the young man said, with a serious and burning gaze that did not seem like that of a man in love. “We’re in love. We’re going to get married, as soon as she gets free.”

“Oh yeah?” I said, smiling and nodding as if this were a perfectly normal thing to say. Maybe, you’re thinking, his young lady was in prison. But I was there, dear reader, and it was obvious that was not what he meant. “That sounds great!” I said. “Congratulations!”

“Her father has her locked in a tower,” the young man said, eyes still flashing. Yes, he said tower. No, I am not making this up.

“That sucks,” I said, “what are you going to do?”

The young man ignored this question. “Do you want to see her picture?” he asked me instead.

“Of course!” I said, chirpily.

At this, the young man reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. It was one of those trifold black leather wallets with a clear slot for a picture, and in that picture slot was a wallet-sized picture that was hand-drawn. I could tell it was hand-drawn because it was drawn badly. It was like a little kid’s drawing of a princess in a tower. It looked kind of like this:

Complete with bars and everything.
“Wow,” I said, voice dripping with sincerity. “She’s beautiful.”

Later, after Rapunzel’s Boyfriend has left, my friend asked me, “What was that guy talking to you about? He seemed intense.”

“You’ll never guess,” I said, and told him about the picture. We laughed about it at the time, but looking back on it, I really hope that young man was f*cking with me.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fun Friday Facts #122: Black Friday Edition Two, Electric Boogaloo

It’s Day 24 of NaBloPoMo and I almost forgot to write a blog post! So buckle up, guys – this one will be pretty slipshod, as I only have 52 minutes to research and write it.

Thanksgiving is over for another year. We’ve celebrated family, friends, and togetherness; we’ve given thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. And by now, we’ve also participated in that other most American of holiday traditions – trampling a stranger to death as we rush to fistfight another stranger for some slightly-discounted electronics.

I didn’t go Black Friday shopping this year, because I never go Black Friday shopping, although I did consider going to Lowe’s to buy some of the stuff I constantly seem to need to keep this dump I live in from falling down around my head. But I stayed home, because I had heard that West Virginia is the 10th most violent state on Black Friday, and I didn’t want to risk it. I’ve been to most of the states, and I can tell you that West Virginians are hands-down the friendliest in the country. If the friendliest people in the country are among the most willing to bludgeon some rando with a handbag, I think that’s saying something.

I can’t say I participated in Buy Nothing Day, because I bought gas and lunch at McDonald’s, and I also made Jim buy us groceries. We’re going to be married soon so his money is my money now. That’s how it works, right? Buy Nothing Day is a day of international protest against consumerism; it’s held on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S., the UK, Finland, and Sweden, but on the following day in more than 60 other countries. I guess that means I can still have a chance to participate. I’ll probably forget and buy something.

It’s ironic that my future father-in-law was working on unblocking his kitchen sink this morning, because Black Friday is more than just a big shopping day – it’s also the busiest day of the year for American plumbers. According to Roto-Rooter, there’s 47 to 50 percent more business on Black Friday than on other Fridays, and the four-day Thanksgiving weekend sees a 21 percent boost in business for plumbers when compared to other Thursday-to-Sunday periods throughout the year. Chris Rainaldi of Rainaldi Plumbing in central Florida told ABC News, “We work from 7:30 in the morning [with a full schedule] up until 6’o’clock at night.” What’s causing all those plumbing problems? It’s mostly kitchen drains and garbage disposals clogged by Thanksgiving prep and clean-up, but plumbers also have to deal with sewer mains clogged by things that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, like turkeys. Kidding, it’s usually cotton balls and tampons and stuff like that.

If you went Black Friday shopping last night, you may, like one of my Facebook friends, have witnessed the very moment when the shops started playing Christmas music. Christmas lights are already burning in many towns and cities, and those lights are collectively bright enough to be seen from space. According to data from NASA and the NOAA, Christmas lights cause some major American cities to glow 20 to 50 percent brighter at night during the Christmas season. Lights start getting brighter on Black Friday, and continue until New Year’s Day. Light intensity increases the most in suburban areas, which can be 30 to 50 percent brighter during the Christmas season, while central urban areas are 20 to 30 percent brighter. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Movie Review: Justice League [SPOILERS]

Today after Thanksgiving dinner with his parents, Jim and I went to see the new Justice League movie, and boy, was it bad. The plot was hard to follow, but we’re 78% sure it involved a Steppenwolf concert. (Jim made this joke, but I’m stealing it from him. We’re going to be married soon so his jokes are my jokes now. That’s how it works, right?)

Seriously, though, Jim and I thought it would have been a much better movie if the Justice League had fought the band Steppenwolf. Hollywood, get on this.

I have to say, I was disappointed in the Aquaman character. I’m not a big a comic book person, and I know people shit on Aquaman, but he commands the seas, right? I’m just saying that I feel like Aquaman should have been able to handle this third-tier villain on his own, or at least put up more of a fight. I guess Steppenwolf was just born to be wild.

And, maybe it’s not for me to say, but Victor needs to see a therapist, like, yesterday. I mean, sure, it’s hard to be almost killed in an ambiguous accident, lose your mother, and wake up as a robot with half a face, but the man needs some coping skills. I was really worried about him when Steppenwolf just ripped his leg off like it was a drumstick, but I didn’t realize that he was made out of Legos and that Batman would be able to just snap him back together. NBD, right? Wrong, because you can’t just snap back together your feelings, guys.

So, you know how I just said the plot was hard to follow? I lied, it wasn’t. A big ugly guy with horns on his hat shows up, starts f*cking sh*t up with his flying zombie bugs, and then Superman makes a miraculous recovery from death to stop him, because only Superman can stop this evil from taking us all on a magic carpet ride, even though Aquaman is literally right there. Okay, I just read some of Aquaman’s Wikipedia page, and here is a list of things he can do:
  • He has superhuman strength;
  • Can breathe underwater, duh;
  • He once picked up an 8,000-ton Soviet sub from the ocean floor and threw it two-and-a-half miles through water to the surface!!!!!
  • He can swim at speeds of up to 3,000 meters per second!
  • And can see in the dark, which doesn’t sound that impressive next to the other stuff, but
  • He can fly
  • He can communicate telepathically with marine life, creatures that live on the sea, and probably creatures that evolved from sea animals, including humans;
Aquaman can kill a person instantly by pulling the water out of their body! GUYS, HE IS MORE THAN QUALIFIED FOR THIS JOB. But no, we need an excuse to bring back Superman, so, let’s bring back Henry Cavill, the most wooden Superman in history. But let’s have him spend like 20 minutes of the movie making tepid googoo eyes at Lois Lane in a cornfield because that’s more entertaining than, say, a zombie Superman who just starts flying around and eating everybody. Now there’s a movie I’d pay to see.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

3 Ways You Can Support This Blog

It’s day 22 of NaBloPoMo, and I’m still going strong. Whether you’re a longtime reader or you’re new here, if you like what you’ve been reading, do one of these three things to help support this blog.

Leave Comments Directly on the Blog

When I post here, I share the links on my Facebook page, and most of my readers like to comment on those Facebook links. That’s great! I appreciate every word of feedback and engagement that I get from fans, friends, and readers. But let me tell you why I’d prefer that you leave your remarks right here, directly on the blog, in the comment section right underneath each post.

Comments boost the blog in search rankings. Search algorithms, especially Google’s, take a lot of things into consideration when assigning search rankings, but one of those things is whether a page has a community interacting with it. Your comments show search engines, and other readers, including readers who might be considering publishing my work elsewhere, that this blog has an actual readership and, hopefully, they will get people to stop saying things like, “Well at least it gets you writing,” when I talk about working on my blog. So, when you read a post, do me a solid and go to the bottom of the page where it says, “Post a Comment,” and enter your comments, concerns, questions, crazy rants, compliments, insults, or rebuttals into the comment box, select an account you want to use from the “Comment as” dropdown menu, of which “Anonymous” is an option btw, and click “Publish.”

Share Posts on Your Social Media

I LOVE IT when people share my posts on social media. The majority of my traffic comes from social media shares, so it's a great way to promote the blog and increase it's readership and make me like you more. Besides, there's really no better endorsement of my work than to show it off to all of your friends. Tweet it, Facebook it, email it to your listserve, talk about it at your next dinner party.

Pay Me

This maybe never occurred to you, but if I got money for doing this, I’d be able to do it more regularly. There is a donate button on the sidebar at the right that allows you to send a single, or recurring, donation via PayPal. Tbh I kind of hate to ask for money, but I’m doing it because a) I needed a third thing for the list, and b) because sometimes, people (you know who you are), message me to complain when I don’t post often enough, and I’m like, “Chill out bruh, it’s not like I’m getting paid for this,” but you have the power to change that. Or you could just comment and share, that’s fine, too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How to Cope with Your Family This Holiday Season

Last weekend, I went on a retreat with some members of my community writing group. While I was there, one of the members, author Adam Horne, said, “I want to have Thanksgiving with your family so I can meet these people you’ve been writing about.”

And that, let me tell you, was a super awkward moment. I didn’t know what to say, because I’m not having Thanksgiving with my family. It’s like he wasn’t even paying attention. But at least I know a thing or two about coping with a difficult family at the holidays. If you, too, are wondering how you’re going to make it through dinner this Thursday, I can offer you some advice.

Stay in the Kitchen

In my experience, the worst people at any family holiday gathering can be found sitting on their asses, waiting to be served. If you help with the cooking, you can avoid them and most of their opinions. After dinner, volunteer to do the dishes. Everyone disappears when you start doing dishes.

Sit at the Kids’ Table

If you know the other adults at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner are going to want to talk politics, or interrogate you about your love life, or remind you that you have 45 cents in your bank account, go sit at the kids’ table. Tell your adult relations that you’ve been missing your little nieces and nephews, or that you’ve just been waiting for the perfect opportunity to get to know the half-siblings your dad has had with your much-younger stepmom, and plop your ass right down on one of those tiny folding chairs. Your smallest relatives won’t want to talk about Trump; they barely know what a president is. Spend the meal discussing little Nevaeh’s favorite dinosaurs instead.

Ignore, Ignore, Ignore

Are your relatives severely unpleasant? Are they horrible, narcissistic monsters? Years of being treated like sh*t have taught me a valuable lesson: Nothing you could ever say will upset a nasty person more than saying nothing at all.

When your abusive Grandma Prunella comes out with a snarky remark or some horribly insulting bullsh*t, simply don’t react. Continue eating or chatting with Cousin Sativa as if the person wasn’t even there. Chances are the nasty person in your life lives for these moments when they get to destroy you emotionally, so don’t give them the satisfaction.

Arm Yourself with Stock Responses

Perhaps you think your extended family would be okay if they didn’t insist on belaboring their sh*tty opinions all day long. If that sounds familiar, go into the event with some stock responses you can pull out when Aunt Irma starts ranting about The Gays or Uncle Balthazar starts revving up his eighteen-hour lecture entitled “Women Are the Worst.” Some of my favorites include “That’s nice,” and “You don’t say” and “Really? Do go on.” Sure, you’ll have to tune out several minutes of Uncle Balthazar’s misogynist remarks, but eventually he’ll notice that you aren’t actually paying attention and start torturing someone else. Or he won’t, and he’ll wear himself out talking and walk away thinking what a nice person you’ve grown up to be.

Know When You’re Going to Leave in Advance

Before you go to your family holiday, know when you’re going to leave. You could decide to leave at a specific time, such as at 7 o’clock, or at a specific juncture, such as after dessert, or when Cousin Jimothy calls you a slut. When it’s time to leave, leave. Have an excuse ready; I like to use, “Sorry, everyone, but I’ve got to go medicate my cats.” If you need backup, have a friend call you with a manufactured emergency. That’s right; ditching your unpleasant family is exactly like ditching a bad Tinder date.

Just Don’t Go

Seriously, if your family’s really that bad, maybe just don’t go? 

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Meditation on the Fanta Can that Jim Left on His Dresser Upstairs

The can in question.

Not too long ago, I had the following conversation with Jim.

“Would you be upset if I blogged about the can of Fanta that you left on your dresser?” I asked him.

“You’re a memoirist. I can’t tell you not to write about your life,” Jim said.

“So…is that a yes?”

“If you ripped me apart on your blog, I’d be upset,” Jim admitted. This, I believe, was an understatement. Jim, like most men, is very sensitive, which is why I’ve hesitated to blog about the Fanta can that he left on his dresser upstairs.

I can’t tell you how long the Fanta can has been sitting on the dresser. I didn’t exactly write down in my diary, Jim left a Fanta can on the dresser today, so I don’t really know, but it’s been awhile – we’re talking a couple of months, at least. So, it’s been long enough that the responsibility for the can is as much mine as it is Jim’s. Sure, he left the can on the dresser, but I’ve looked at it every day for weeks and haven’t thrown it away. I’d like to believe that it’s the principal of the thing – the second or third time Jim ever came to my house, I pointed out that he was messy and asked him to clean up after himself more, which he has done a pretty good job of, Fanta can notwithstanding. I tell myself that I'm involved in a Fanta-can-related standoff, refusing to throw away the Fanta can because it's not my damn can.

But that's not really true, because Jim has left other soda cans in the bedroom, and I’ve thrown those cans away, which has been pretty easy, because there’s a waste basket right there next to the bed.

I haven’t thrown the Fanta can away because it still has some Fanta in it.

I remember clearly the day that I picked up the Fanta can, intending to throw it in the waste basket that’s right there, two feet away, but as soon as I lifted it, I felt the familiar, sloshy weight of liquid in the bottom of the can. Oh, I thought, I have to take this downstairs and empty it first.

That seemed like a lot of work, so instead, I just set the can back on the dresser. And I guess Jim thought the same thing, because he’s never thrown away the Fanta can either. At this point, it's just become a part of the decor. 

This is how we live now.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Adulting Wins to Be Proud Of: Finding Your Friend’s House without GPS

I’m old enough to remember a time when people found their way around solely using maps and/or verbal directions from friends, relatives, neighbors, or randos, which directions invariably got garbled either by the teller or the listener. I’ve also lived in a lot of different places and had to figure out navigational skills that my upbringing in a small Appalachian town didn’t prepare me for, such as interpreting bus schedules, reading subway maps, and remembering the names of streets. So you’d think that I’d have a good sense of direction.

You’d be wrong. People are constantly surprised that, having been to a location one time, the ability to find that location again and again has not been seared into my memory. It probably doesn’t help that, having worked mostly from home for going on the past decade now, I don’t have as much opportunity as others to familiarize myself with the local geography. It’s easy to discount how valuable the experience of simply driving to and from work, the post office, the bank, and the grocery store five or six days a week can be in terms of learning to find your way around town. I had to live in Morgantown for over a year before I could form a reasonably accurate map of the city in my mind.

Even now, I still have to use GPS to find my way around town, even when I’m going someplace I’ve been several times before, such as the vet’s office, where I go every two months to buy skin medicine for Skin Disease, and at least once a year besides to get check-ups and other veterinary care for the cats. My point is, I’ve been going to this vet regularly for a good couple of years and I still struggle to find the office.

And when I have to go out of town, all bets are off. I’m able to go three places out of town without using GPS: my hometown (which I guess technically counts as a lot of places, but whatever), my friend Mark’s place, and my soon-to-be-in-laws’ place. I’d like to blame this phenomenon on distributed cognition, i.e. I used to know lots of phone numbers but now they’re all in my phone, except I can’t, because it isn’t. I was always pretty bad at finding places, and also I didn’t know lots of phone numbers, I wrote most of them down. I only ever memorized my own home phone number, my grandparents’ number, my best friend’s number, and the number of this guy I was in love with who didn’t love me back but strung me along for several years anyway, and I’ve since forgotten two of those, which is just as well because I’m pretty sure those two have been disconnected anyway. My point is that being able to find a place without using GPS is a big deal. I mean, it is for me. Is it for you?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hillbillies vs. Rednecks: What’s the Difference?

One winter in Chamonix, a gaggle of Canadians and a Kiwi moved into the apartment next door to mine. They threw a lot of parties, as one does when one is young and living in the literal mother of all ski towns. Once, I was at one of those parties, and someone on the other side of the room shouted, “Hey, redneck!”

I turned around and shouted, “What?”

Everyone laughed because, to my surprise, they weren’t talking to me.

I grew up in West Virginia, where a lot of people I know use the terms redneck and hillbilly interchangeably. But I’m here to tell you that there’s a difference.

I once watched a program on The History Channel (I think) that characterized rednecks as country people from the coastal plains of the American Southeast, and hillbillies as the descendants of Irish, Scots-Irish, German, Italian, and Swiss immigrants who settled in Appalachia. See, you have to be bred in Appalachia to be a hillbilly; you have to be from the hills, it’s right in the name. It’s really nothing to do with your lifestyle or beliefs or political leanings or level of education or whether or not you wear shoes. It’s an ethnic term, sort of.

A stereotypical redneck is a white person from the rural American South; there’s some debate as to the origin of the term, which I’ve discussed before. It may have originally referred to poor whites who worked outside in the sun, but I know someone (and I have a good idea who) is going to jump up in here to point out that it actually refers to unionized coal miners who wore red bandanas around their necks to identify themselves during the West Virginia Mine Wars.

These days, the word redneck has evolved, as words tend to do, to mean any country person, or even any person who identifies with traditionally rural values, or enjoys traditionally rural activities, or even just thinks they would, because it turns out you don’t have to live in the country to be a redneck. You can be a redneck and live in the city, especially if it’s a Southern city like Atlanta or Houston. You don’t even have to be American. I spent a couple of weeks in Finland several years ago, and the people I met there were enormous rednecks. When I told them this, they swelled with pride, which is a key requirement.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fun Friday Facts #121: Procrastination

I’ve been putting the meow in homeowner since May 2012, and here’s what I’ve learned: To be a homeowner is to put things off. In my garage is a stack of flooring material that I bought two years ago, but haven’t installed yet, for example.

Psychology Today defines procrastination as “a downward spiral of negative emotions that deter future effort” which…sounds about right, actually. According to an Atlantic article appropriately titled, “The Procrastination Doom Loop and How to Break It,” procrastination is all about feelings. I, for example, don’t feel like tearing up the carpet in two rooms and replacing it with laminate flooring, so I find other things to do instead, like sleep and pity myself.

Procrastination is a circular problem. The more you procrastinate, the more “anxious, guilty, and even ashamed” you feel, so the more you procrastinate, so the more you hate yourself, and so on. While modern advances in technology have made procrastination, like so many other things, easier than ever, procrastination has a long and storied history. As long ago as 700 BCE, the Greek poet Hesiod rails against procrastination in “Works and Days”: Do not put your work off till to-morrow and the day after; for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn…a man who puts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin.


If you, like me, are prone to procrastination, you’re in good company; the great Leonardo da Vinci completed only 20 paintings in his lifetime, instead filling his spare time with doodle after fantastic doodle of helicopters, stunningly accurate maps, and naked men doing jumping jacks. It took him 16 years to finish the Mona Lisa because he worked on it for four years, then stopped working on it, then worked on it again, and…well, you get the idea.

English writer and possible founder of the English novel Samuel Johnson took seven years to produce an edition of Shakespeare’s plays, which job he was assigned in 1756, because he got another idea and got distracted. OH SAMMY, I KNOW THE FEELING. That distracting idea became his collection of essays, The Idler. Writers have always struggled with procrastination; some of us, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, get interrupted by an opium delivery, get high and forget to finish writing Kubla Khan. I would never do such a thing, of course. Instead, I’m more like Margaret Atwood – I put off writing until late in the day, then when I finally get around to it, I end up staying up half the night, then sleep late the next day and wake up feeling like crap, both physically and emotionally. But at least we know that procrastination can’t stop us from achieving great things; even the Dalai Llama admits that, as a student, he’d only work “in the face of a difficult challenge or an urgent deadline.” Then again, Dalai Llama-ing is, as I understand it, one of those careers that chooses you. Perhaps, the next time you’re stuck in the doom loop, remember some of the other famous procrastinators that have walked in your shoes: Saint Augustine, Bill Clinton, Victor Hugo, Frank Lloyd Wright, Franz Kafka, Marcus Aurelius, and Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

“But what,” you say, “should we do about procrastination?” Dear readers, what you need is a deadline, and here’s the thing: It has to be a deadline imposed from outside. Unfortunately for me, no one is going to march up in here and order me to finish my floors by a certain date, and don’t look at Jim, he knows what side his bread’s buttered on. If that’s not an option, you should convince yourself that the chore isn’t work. Hmmm, that doesn’t really sound like a feasible solution, either. What the hell, science.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thanksgiving Post Round-Up the First

I’ve been writing this blog for so long now that it’s depressing. Check out my previous Thanksgiving holiday posts:

When I got the idea to do this, I thought there’d be more Thanksgiving posts. In my defense, I’m not very good at being a blogger. I have commitment issues. I’ll round out the list with a (recently requested by one of my readers) list of previous Halloween-related posts:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How I Keep My Cats from Scratching the Crap Out of My Furniture

Ha ha, I don’t. I took my new kitten to the vet for his final round of booster shots the other day and the vet asked, with visible trepidation, “Are you thinking about declawing?”

I explained that I don’t believe in declawing and she sagged with relief. “Good,” she said, and smiled. “I don’t believe in it either.”

I’ve discussed this before, but it bears repeating: Declawing a cat is form of torture. When you get a cat declawed, they just chop off its toes halfway. It’s as if someone chopped off your fingers in between the first and second knuckle. And they don’t carefully remove them at the joint, either. They use a guillotine clipper, which is a surgical tool that operates like a cigar cutter, and they just chop the toes off. It causes all kinds of physical problems for the cat, like risk of infection and crippling arthritis, and psychological problems, too, because it leaves the cat unable to defend itself.

But anyway, I digress. Jim and I got a new couch recently, after our old couch collapsed during a party. The cats have already scratched the sh*t out of a two-seater Lazy Boy that was left in the house by a previous owner. I still keep it half out of a need for auxiliary seating and half because I keep hoping that the cats will focus their furious destructive energy on it instead of on the good furniture that I actually paid money for.

I mean, I also bought a giant cat tree for the cats. 

This freaking cat tree is as tall as I am, and I’m fairly tall for a woman. It’s bigger than some apartments I’ve had, and it incorporates no fewer than ten scratching posts. Now, it’s possible to train cats to scratch only specific things. When I only had Fatty, I had him trained pretty well, but then I got Max and he’s stubborn. No matter how many times I tell him “NO!” and squirt him with the water bottle, he just keeps doing what he wants to do. I’m 79% sure he’s pretending to be stupider than he is so I’ll let him get away with walking on the counters. He’s stubborn about that, too.

This beautiful douche.

The problem with that is that Fatty immediately decided, “Hey, if he gets to do whatever, I’m going to do whatever, too!” So now we’re back to the ripped and shredded square one.

I’ve tried putting cat repellent on Jim’s recliner, but the beautiful, stubborn douche still scratches it. After we got the couch, I bought some of these cat scratch guards to put on it:

I’ve been pondering them for years, but I’ve always been skeptical. They’re just strips of plastic that you pin to the corners of your sofa, chair, or ottoman, and they’re supposed to deter scratching. I always thought they’d just scratch the whole rest of the couch, instead. But neither Jim nor I wanted the new couch scratched up. It cost us $300, and we paid an extra $100 to have it delivered and the old couch taken away. We bought it at Big Lots, and they don’t deliver, but they gave us the number of a guy with a pickup truck, which is every big as questionable as it sounds. When I first agreed to the price, I thought I was getting ripped off, but that was before the dude and his two helpers spent the better part of an hour shoving it through my narrow, narrow doorway. They had to take the doors off, and one of the guys had to lie down on my stairwell in order to guide the couch up the stairs as the other two guys shoved from outside with all their might. It was worth $100, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, I digress. Jim and I didn’t want the cats scratching the new couch, so I ordered the cat scratch guards on Amazon right away. They came in a giant box with lots of padding, just in case the thin strips of flexible plastic might get broken in the mail.

“If the cats scratch up this couch…” Jim began, while I was showing him the cat scratch guards.

“I’m not getting them declawed,” I interrupted him, even though we'd already had this conversation.

“…then we’ll just have to buy secondhand couches from now on,” he continued.

But I’m happy to report that I applied the cat scratch guards to my couch over a week ago, and so far, they seem to be working. Even the beautiful douche hasn’t scratched the couch, which is just as well, because my next step is to fit him with Soft Paws, since he’s clearly the problem.

Then he'll look dainty, like this fellow.
~ Image by Myllissa on Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I Got Fat, but That’s Okay

If you’ve been following along at home or know me in person, you’ve already noticed that, over the past few years, I got fat. I started getting fat when I stopped smoking cigarettes in 2012. I filled the void with food, which satisfies my ongoing need to put something in my mouth repeatedly. After the first fifteen pounds, I expressed concern about my weight gain to my doctor.

“You’d have to gain a hundred pounds for it to have the same effect on your health as smoking,” he assured me. He was confident, and pleased that I’d taken an important step towards better health. The poor fool didn’t realize I’d take it as a challenge.

Seriously, though, I didn’t mean to gain seventy pounds. It just kind of happened. Thirty pounds ago, I downloaded My Fitness Pal onto my phone and did a really good job of controlling my weight. Then I started grad school. I still did a pretty good job during the first semester. Then I met Jim, and started to put on happy fat. Then I lost my student ID and couldn’t get into the rec center to use the pool, and things went downhill from there. I was busy, and stressed out, and it turns out it’s really easy to eat while you’re studying and that eating is almost as soothing for the nerves as smoking cigarettes. Honestly, when Trump won the election I thought about taking up smoking again, but my friend Mark talked me out of it. “There’s no need to be piling on more bad things,” he said, so I kept not smoking and stayed fat.

But I don’t let it bother me. I figure if I’m going to make a major change related to my body, it’d better be “accepting it as it is,” because I wasn’t going to get better looking as I aged, anyway. My body is going to gradually deteriorate until it dies, and the sooner I accept that, the better off I am, probably. Mentally, at least.

Besides, I’m the good kind of fat. I’m Rubenesque. That means I still look good with my clothes off. Now, if I can just learn to pose for a photo without planting my feet super wide like a sumo wrestler, I’ll be set.

If there’s one thing that I regret about getting fat, it’s that it took me so long to realize I was attractive in the first place. I was thin and super hot from the ages of fourteen to thirty, at least, but I didn’t actually notice I was super hot until I was like, twenty-eight. I walked around thinking I was average-looking, at best, which is sad when you think about all the money I could’ve made as a stripper. Guess I wasted that opportunity. Way to go, Thin Me.

On the other hand, it’s in the past. Thin Me had some obvious self-esteem issues, which Fat Me has addressed by eating them. In all seriousness, I’m a lot happier as a fat person than I ever was as a thin person. I suffered from non-diabetic hypoglycemia, the cure for which is apparently gaining about thirty pounds (I’ve always been an overachiever). For years I was moody and really unhappy a lot of the time, and I never realized until I got fat how much of that was linked to my constantly-crashing blood sugar levels because, no matter how much I ate, I could never seem to gain weight.

Guess I solved that problem.