Arson Is For Wankers

When I was six my elementary school had a fire safety assembly and invited a young man who had been burned over 80% of his body. He had no fingers and since this was the 80’s and plastic surgery isn’t what it is now, looked like he’d been melted and then someone tried to shape him back into a person. He was very clever and charming and an amazing public speaker. It has been almost 35 years and I remember his words, they in fact haunt me. I have been terrified of fire ever since.

Mine is not a normal reasonable fear but something that I have lost sleep over. When I smoked I didn’t light cigarettes in my mouth. I looked like a crazy person but I wasn’t going to put an open flame three inches from my face. I also don’t go to bonfires, I rarely light candles, and any time I use a match I run it under water before I’m willing to dispose of it. I don’t just check the location of exits on planes. I do it everywhere I go. I used to do my own fire drills as a child. Which my parents probably didn’t question because they were just happy I was going outside.
 
I’ve been in two buildings that were on fire. This feels like an excessive amount, but I refuse to look at the statistics because I need to feel special and I’m afraid that might be  average. The first time was in college. When I was a junior, several rooms in my dorm on the floor beneath me caught fire. No one was injured but it was scary. The second time was Saturday night. And I barely registered fear for some reason. Possibly because a gypsy told me I would die on November 3, 2056 in a boating accident. I love boats. I don’t mind dying on a boat. As long as it isn’t a cruise ship. I refuse to die full of buffet shrimp after listening to Kathy Lee Gifford sing. 
 
Since it was September 30, 2017 and I wasn’t on a boat I stayed calm. I stayed calm even when the smoke was thick in the stairwell. I was choking on it as I went outside. My building has impressive protections that keep fires from really getting going. So I knew the fire would be out shortly. What lingers in my mind is the effort the arsonist put in. He and presumably a partner lit fires on three floors and in the elevator. The elevator thing is especially messed up because as it returned to the lobby it filled the corridors with smoke and when the doors opened it released enough smoke to briefly convince us that the fire may be in the lobby and we were trapped. It was like the perpetrator was trying to keep us in the building to burn.
 
As far as I can tell there is no reason to burn the building down. Witnesses who saw the guy with the can of accelerant gave statements to the police and I hope they find the guy. Thank God for the intrusive security cameras and patrols. And I appreciate the tenants that used fire extinguishers to get the fires under control before the Fire Department arrived. Two of the heroes are a gay couple I’ve been giving the stink-eye for months because their dog is poorly house trained and poops in the building. They clean it up too slowly in my opinion. Saving my earthly possessions earns them two weeks of goodwill and forgiveness. I have some takeaways:

1)      Whereas all I grabbed was my purse, a sweater, and my cellphone, others grabbed valuables. I don’t know if I have a healthy attitude towards the value of my life versus things, or I don’t own any valuables. I really hope it is the former. My neighbors stood in the fall air with televisions, guitars, a painting, and Spider Man collectibles. The TV is especially odd. We all have renter’s insurance. It is added onto your rent if you don’t have your own policy. So that TV would’ve been replaced if the building burned. Could it have enough sentimental value that when his life was on the line it was worth the two minutes it took to unplug it and carry it down five flights of stairs? Everything I grabbed was designed to make being out of a home less traumatizing. A phone so I could call people, my money and identification so I wouldn’t be helpless, and a sweater because it was cold out. All of these things were on my way to the door. I didn’t look at my television.

2)      My neighbors have ice water in their veins. I wasn’t particularly panicked when I heard the alarms. We have had a few false alarms when someone burned a casserole or sprayed something into a smoke detector. But when we reached the lower floors and the smoke was thick and dark I wanted to move about twice as fast as we were, while the people in front of me were transporting a cat in a special carrier and letting their toddlers walk at their own speed instead of picking them up. My mama didn’t raise me to trample children, old people, or cats so I moved languidly down the stairs. But I didn’t want to.

3)      I am a rare woman. Most studies show that women make better witnesses than men because we notice details. We take note of what people are wearing and estimate height and weight well. That is apparently not true for me. I saw the arsonist but took no note of him. If someone else hadn’t said I was with them in the elevator when he declined to get on while looking suspicious I wouldn’t even know I saw him. All men look suspicious to me at night because I  live alone and listen to podcasts about unsolved murders. I keep my head on a swivel but I don’t memorize faces until I get a gut feeling or a guy gets into my space. I will endeavor to be more nosy in the future.
 
I suspect my priorities are a bit askew. Someone kind of tried to murder me and approximately 300 other people and I was less upset about that than someone being bitchy to me at work. I guess they’re right. It really is the little things.
 

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I'm Probably Wrong. And that's Cool

 

I don’t need to be right. I am perfectly fine being wrong. And I rarely need anyone to agree with me. I have some pretty contrarian opinions. I think the Beatles are overrated. I think tapas sucks. I’ve never found George Clooney or Brad Pitt attractive. I have voted Republican twice, although obviously not in the last election.  So whenever someone tells me that I’m missing out or I’m wrong I reply “I don’t know. Maybe. Probably.”

I’m probably wrong but I hate Oprah. I hate her the way I still hate Tiffany Taylor from 4th grade because she insulted my mother’s sandwiches. My mother makes lovely sandwiches. And just because she doesn’t make happy faces and hearts in mustard, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love me. The opposite actually. It means she loves me so much that she wants me to have even condiment distribution. As I write this I feel like Oprah is also the kind of person who would be snide and superior and impugnsomeone else’s sandwich. Don’t let her fool you with her faux female empowerment jazz. She used to invite people on her show and display them as freaks, or lecture them, or inject herself into their stories. 

I recently joined Weight Watchers and I love it. But I hate that Oprah is not only their newest spokesperson but also a shareholder. So every month when I pay my dues I’m doing my part to line her golden pockets with more lucre from the suffering of others. She claims she bought 10% of the company because she believes in it. I believe she bought in because she saw something good and potentially lucrative and she needed to put her suction cupped tentacles on it. 

I get mad that she bellows. You can give someone a car or meet a celebrity without bellowing. Inside voice Ms. Winfrey. And she’s a college dropout who never shuts up about the value of education. She’s a billionaire without the degree. But everyone else needs to go and learn to be accountants. 

She puts her smug mug on the cover of every issue of her magazine. Think for a moment of what kind of self-involved prick puts their own face on the cover of a magazine named after herself. It’s like every month she’s saying, “Don’t you just worship me. I know you love looking at me. I’m your favorite. Read this magazine about what books I’m reading and fashion tips and recipes and fantasize about a wind machine and a team of highly skilled makeup and hair professionals making you too look like a weird plastic alien version of yourself.” For goodness sakes, she bought a cable news channel and turned it into another monument to her own ego. Ted Turner, Rupert Murdock, et al own cable news stations but don’t make themselves part of the programming. They don’t act like they’re Jesus come to save us all from ourselves. HATE. HATE OPRAH.

I’m probably wrong but I am not going to do the Whole 30 diet. It looks depressing and restrictive, and the kind of thing I’ll be talking about in a tone of voice usually only heard from a Vietnam Vet who saw his buddy’s legs blown off by a landmine in Da Nang. If you want to see what a broken woman looks like, I mean really look into the abyss and have the abyss look back, ask me about the three months that I was on The Zone. Not enough carbs and my brain went wacky. My mind eventually  turned against me. I came home one day and told my brother that I found a particular tree in our neighborhood threatening. I went into ketosis and would wake up in the middle of the night disgusted by the smell of my own breath. I am not like Oprah the Annoying, hollering “I love bread” like it gives her multiple orgasms and took her on a pony ride. I am in fact pretty ambivalent to bread and have never eaten a piece ‘just cuz’. And pasta is okay. I guess. I mean if you put tomato sauce and cheese on a baby I’d probably eat it. I am not a carb junkie. Although I am addicted to refined sugar. And people say the Whole 30 will cure me of that. Of course it will. When my body is drained of carbs, preservatives, alcohol, beans, and the capacity for human joy, I will probably  be fine with skipping donuts.  But I do need to eat grains. The Whole 30 diet scored dead last when it was judged by a committee of dietitians. So when my OB/GYN suggested it last week, which is weird, stay in your lane lady, I was polite. But I also wanted to narrow my eyes and sneer “Et tu, doctor? Et tu.” HATE. HATE FAD DIETS. 

I’m probably wrong not to want to have children, but I’m cool with it. People keep telling me that I’ll wake up one day and regret it. And I tell them that my life is full of regrets. The last words I said to my dead father were “Can you bring me back a Pepsi?” I assure you  that shit haunts me. I lied to my mother about taking summer classes and followed Blues Traveler on tour. Not in any professional or groupie capacity. I just went to all their shows and made the band occasionally acknowledge my humanity. I will regret that until my dying day. My life is full of regret. And yet I get up each morning laughing and dancing. If you make choices you will have regrets. But if I don’t have a child the only person I might be hurting is me. Whereas if I make an entire human being “just in case” that involves as few as two additional people but could potentially harm millions. Let me paint you a picture. I decide to use my one last partially spoiled egg to make a baby. And I’m kind of mean to it. Not abusive, just not pleasant. You know, like I am to most people. I’m not exactly warm and affectionate and kids like that sort of thing. The kid hates me. And he or she becomes a serial killer that murders chubby black women using a knitting needle while calling them mommy. One of the people the kid murders is Oprah. Not because I asked them to. I never would. I’m a non-violent person. But the kid does it in a misguided attempt to please me. Oprah’s millions of acolytes fall into despair and stop loving their children. And entire generations of pitiful broken people roam the earth. They continue trashing the planet but don’t have the ambition to build ships to escape Earth so the human race perishes. All because my friends want to do Mommy and Me swim class with me. I order half onion rings/half fries because I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out. I don’t make people. HATE. HATE PRESSURE TO REPRODUCE.

I am probably wrong but I would rather be flabby and die young than ever do Crossfit or Orange Theory. The thought of exercising until my body is so stressed that I go into kidney failure or need to have my ACL repaired makes me long for the early death of the obese. It makes disease and infirmity feel like the warm embrace of my mother after a long separation. I could be wrong but single digit body fat and abs worth splashing all over Instagram seem too high a price to pay to spend exorbitant amounts of money to participate in what looks like a dystopic nightmare with EDM music. I have never known a happy person who lives that life. They’re not depressed. Just lacking in a playful whimsy that convinces me that the pleasure center of the body isn’t the brain, but the tummy and butt. And the more belly and bottom you have the more delightful and giggly you’ll be. HATE. HATE GROWNUP GYM CLASS.

I might be wrong about choke sex. What is so hot about attempted murder? Oh baby, I’m killing you, Oh no I’m not. I stopped before you passed out. Oh yeah, the way your brain is being deprived of oxygen and your brain cells die does increase the sensation. But is it worth it? Love means never having to say “The safe word for I’m about to die is 'Tangerine'. So you should stop then” Sorry. My Mama didn’t raise no Danger Slut. And I mean Danger Slut as a compliment. Lorraine McFly is one of my favorite movie characters and she is a documented danger slut. She wants any guy who stands in front of moving vehicles and gets into fist fights. HATE. HATE PRESSURE TO NOT BE VANILLA.

I usually turn off the comments on my posts because my old blog received an abundance of racist death threats. But I’ll allow comments on this one so you can tell me I’m wrong about one of these things. And I’ll say, “Probably. But that’s cool.”
 

I Made Popsicles

For some reason people are incredulous that I manage to fill my time without a husband and kids. "What do you like, do all the time?"

  1. Full-time job. Ironically it is people who I work next to at said full-time job who are the most surprised that I am not just wandering around unwashed in my pajamas muttering to myself looking for purpose. I feel like they should know just how much working fills up a gals time.
  2. Reading. I read 106 books last year. You know how everyone says they wish they had time to read. *raises hand* I have time to read. 
  3. I am researching a book on women in baseball. I also watch more than 200 MLB games a season. I have a MLB.tv subscription and I watch every single San Francisco Giants game online and assorted other games played by other teams.
  4. My apartment is really clean. 
  5. I do all the things I pin on Pinterest. And this week I made popsicles . Blueberry Lemon popsicles. 

Getting out the popsicle molds and the food processor and making something as non-essential as a frozen treat, is not something my friends have time to do. And if I were a better person I would share my desserts with them. But if I'm going to be accused of being a selfish and broken person who refuses to have a baby, then I get to eat all six myself. All 96 calories of refreshing tart sweetness all for me. My empty womb and my empty bed demand it be thus. 

Making popsicles is one of those things that seems really complicated but it so easy that you can't shake the feeling that you're doing it wrong. My favorite ones are just coconut water and fruit chunks. In the summer I get hot and tired walking home from the train. I get thirsty but don't want to drink anything. So I have a popsicle while I sit under an air-conditioning vent.

These particular ones were not my own recipe. I found them on Pinterest. All I had to do was zest a lemon, and then puree the zest with the blueberries and then alternate the puree with vanilla yogurt in the molds. I put them in the fridge overnight. And voila, blueberry lemon popsicles. As the 20th century poet Ice Cube wrote, "I gotta say it was a good day."  

 

Crazy, Sexy, Cool...But Not Really

About a year ago I found myself kind of done with men. And not in a "I kissed a girl/And I liked it"-way. I kissed a girl like 20 years ago and I liked it well enough, but have never found a reason to do it again. I was done with men the way you get fed up with a former favorite restaurant. "You know, it used to be really good. But the last three or four times I went there I was so disappointed" So I was retired. And then I learned what people had been telling me since I was 13 was indeed true. Many, not all, but many men are attracted to ambivalence or being treated with disdain. And now I get hit on constantly. 

I do not understand this. My favorite thing about any lover is that he's really nice to me almost all the time. But this has not been a shared interest with the men I've met lately. If my attitude towards men was a person she would address people like this, "Ugh. What do you want? Really?!?!? You want to flirt with me? How dare you. You are late. Ten years ago I was sweet and fun and open and capable of love. Now i'm like a piece of gum you found under a table. Sure I'm still gum, the same way I'm still a woman, but someone has chewed all the flavor out of me, and I will never be sweet again. So just let me eat this burrito in peace."  This is how I usually feel. But it is not how I felt about the guy I met at Rite Aid last night. 

I did not get his name but I will call him Jean-Pierre, because I call all my imaginary boyfriends Jean-Pierre. And I will go into that another time. Jean-Pierre held the door open for me and smiled. He asked me how I'm doing and I responded with "I'm wonderful. How are you?" and gave him a coquettish little smile over my shoulder as I headed toward the potato chips. And he tossed back "Wonderful. Really wonderful now that I've seen beautiful." I giggled, while not giving much thought to him. I was trying to catch a train in 9.5 minutes. But I ran into him again near  nutritional supplements. He smiled and I felt all silly and goofy and wished he'd just ask for my number. But he didn't and I noticed he was going in the direction of the registers. Oh well. Time to finish shopping and catch that train. I grabbed my supplements and some "personal care" products. Pads, OK? I was buying pads. And not just any pads but Always Discreet Sensitive Bladder Long Supreme. I have my reasons and they will be revealed shortly.

I picked up a Little Debbie apple pie and went to the register. Where he was still waiting. Some demon sent to test me was arguing with the cashier about the cost of toilet paper and had held up the line.  Jean-Pierre was still in line. So there I stood behind him with my arms full: bag of Jalapeno Kettle Chips, four bottles of supplements, an enormous package of basically adult diapers, and a deep-fried apple pie.

They opened up another register at the same time that Jean-Pierre got to the front of his line. So we stood side by side checking out. And I tried misdirection and chattered and pointed out other things in the store so he wouldn't look at my purchases. But of course he looked. And he raised an eyebrow and smiled. And when he left the store he gently touched my shoulder and said, "Hey you take care of yourself" in the most earnest, talking to your grandma way.

I wanted to chase after him and at least try to run him through the flirtation cycle I call THE TLC after their 1994 album Crazy/Sexy/Cool. I first say or do something Crazy, then I manage to be about 15% Sexy, and then I try really hard to convince the guy I'm Cool. Here's how it played out in my mind as my feet itched to run out the door and catch him.

CRAZY: I scream "I DON"T PEE IN THESE!" while waving  the Always Discreet at him.

SEXY:  I just have really heavy periods. If I don't use these my panties look like a communist country's flag. You know...If I wear panties *wink* But the other 26 days of the month my vagina is awesome and you could see it if you want. 

COOL: Oh and these supplements are just for my chronic pain. (in Matthew McConaughey-like voice) I mean my body is breaking down, but hey isn't everybody's, man. Like we should all just accept and love each other in our imperfection. Because dude, we're all just made up of matter that used to be something else. We're all like part dinosaur. Nothing is every lost or destroyed. We're all just changing. I'm entering into my middle-aged chrysalis and you can be there when I become a butterfly. 

This of course would not have worked. I was already cemented in his mind as a broken down old lady full of tablets and gushing urine. Just a hollowed husk of a woman he was now flirting with out of pity. 

While there will be a segment of you who say I should only buy potentially embarrassing things when I am certain no one hot is around, I can't take on that pressure. I can't live my life like there is a Jean-Pierre lurking behind every corner. I need to be able to buy lube and a 12 pack of AA batteries without worrying about being judged, because they were in fact being purchased for two unrelated reasons. And I need to wear weird hats, or not brush my teeth before running out for coffee, or verbally abuse pigeons. I love hats. Almost more than I hate pigeons. I accept that I will meet men who are not repelled by my shitty demeanor, and I may be won over by that and smile, and then they will not understand all the stuff I've got going on, and not be interested anymore. And that isn't my fault. IT IS THEIR FAULT. They should've shown their asses up ten years ago when I didn't need industrial pads, or take supplements, or defiantly eat Little Debbie snacks

Stop Trying to Fix Me Up

My friends have always tried to set me up with any man they know. Notice how I didn't specify "unmarried man?" I didn't because that has inexplicably stopped disqualifying men. Somewhere around my 40th birthday my friends decided being a mistress was just fine and dandy as long as I wasn't sleeping with any of their husbands. Let us revel in the arrogance that says, "Well I would never be side piece. But you're different. Maybe that would be enough for you." Let me take you through a tour of some of the worst blind dates, fix-ups, and set ups. 

* The Non-Eater was presented to me as, "He's the best guy I know. Cute, funny, super smart, like the best, like totally the best." No one is the best. No lab has created an Anderson Cooper/Ryan Gosling/Lenny Kravitz. So I of course asked what's wrong with him. Why is he single?" (Sidenote: 'Just never met the right person' isn't an excuse. By the time you're 40+ if you haven't met the right person, you should be with the wrong person by then. There is something keeping us spinsters and bachelors on the market. It may not be a negative but there's something)  My friend after a long pause and several sighs said "He has an eating thing." And then tried to distract me by pointing out the lighting. I am not a baby. I see shiny things all the time. I was not diverted. Finally she explained in a roundabout way that he has health problems and he doesn't eat food. He is fed through a tube. This didn't seem so bad. We all have problems. But then it dawned on me to ask what he does on dates. If he doesn't eat food, drink coffee, or consume alcohol, then what does he do? And she explained that we would go out to dinner and he would just watch me eat while he sipped water. Now, I am a woman of the world. I will not pretend that I have never let a guy watch me eat as foreplay. (Feeders. Google it) But this felt different and I was leery. But nevertheless I went out with him. And it turns out he is a Scientologist. Game over. Thanks for playing. 

* The Doll Collector was introduced to me by a friend's wife. I received the usual spiel about him being an undiscovered treasure and that she would lead me to him. We met for coffee and for 37 blissfully ignorant minutes I thought, "There might be something here." That is until I received a text from my buddy. And at the end of my reply I told him to thank his wife for the set-up. Then he called me. Only my mother calls me for something other than an emergency. I was curious but I let it go to voicemail. And I forced myself to wait 10 minutes before sneaking off to listen to the message. "ASK HIM ABOUT THE DOLLS! THERE ARE DOLLS! HE HAS DOLLS! DOLLLLLLLSSSSSS!!!!" I texted back for clarification but my friend didn't get back to me and I didn't want to stay gone so long he thought I'd ditched him or been pooping. So I went back. And after a few minutes brought up dolls. Easy enough.  I have one. And I liked Barbie as a little girl. So...ummm...yeah. This fool's mama didn't teach him what shame is for. He showed me pictures on his phone of his favorite dolls. I have no poker face. He knows I think he's insane. I don't care. I hope he learns something about the nature of the slow rollout of one's crazy. 

* The Pediatrician looked like a young Michael J. Fox. And I was surprised by the lustful responses I got when I described him that way. Does everyone find MJF sexy? It isn't just me??!?!?! I didn't see that coming. I met the Pediatritrian at my friend's BBQ. He is by all accounts a terrible doctor and she only takes her children to him because he was her husband's college roommate. For months and months we kept missing each other. But we'd keep the number in our phones on the assumption that our schedules would match up. On one notable occassion he texted me late at night and asked if he could come over and I told him "Ah Man. I just took a bath, and I put the special lotion on my feet, and I'm wearing fuzzy socks.  Sex sounds like the worst idea I've ever heard in my life. Raincheck?" Another time we actually scheduled a date and he had to cancel because my friend's kid was sick and she was exercising her priviledge as a family friend to get him to make a house call. And yes, she is a selfish person. She has three children but I only had one chance to make out with a cute doctor.

Finally we make a date, we keep the date, we're on the date when he starts a conversation with "My wife loves..." If my life were a movie that's when you'd hear the record needle scratching sound. The restaurant would've gone quiet and the camera would've done a close up of my face as it transitioned from confusion to comprehension to aggravation. I confirmed he had a wife. He explained that he thought I knew he was married since he thought my friend knew he was married, and that I'd been open to having an affair. I politely declined the descent into moral degradation. And when the check came I offered to split it. And he said, "Nah. It's cool. I've got it. I kind of implied you're an amoral whore. I should probably buy you some sushi." I barely made it through my front door before I was furiously texting my friend who's only reply was "Oh. That marriage isn't going to last." That was her reasoning. She is a lunatic.

I am not trying to date anyone's husband. Okay. That isn't strictly true. There is one married guy I have my eye on. I'm waiting for his marriage to fail. But I am doing nothing to hasten it's demise. And I am not currently sleeping with him. I'm just the vulture waiting to pick the last bits of dead decaying flesh off the carcass of their love. I'm not the monster. People who fix up their unknowing friends with married guys are the monsters.

* The Holocaust Denier is a man I refused all dates with. Because he denies the holocaust. He is either delusional or a bigot. I don't need that in my life. So no matter how many times my friend brought it up I always said "NO." She listed his pros: Owns a houseboat; volunteers with children; great cook; excellent hiker; well-read; smells awesome; perfect teeth. But I would always say "CON! He denies the holocaust happened." And then by sheer happenstance I met him. And he is amazing. He is as advertised. Total out of my league but he seemed to be into me. I'm ashamed to admit I started thinking dumb thoughts like "Lots of people think the holocaust never happened/It's not like you guys would go to Germany on vacation. So how often will it even come up/Maybe you can educate him. He's obviously intelligent. He must have learned this shit from his grandpa or someone." And then for the first time in first date history The Holocaust came up in conversation. And he denied it happened. And I called him a Nazi. And he in an uncomfortably calm voice said that calling someone a Nazi when they don't believe in their central act of purported evil is a limp insult. Moreover, he was right. And it was 2% sexy that he was right. But I still put up my hands and backed away and ended the conversation with "Whatever man. You're wrong. And you're ridiculous."

I will not pretend that the majority of my blind dates aren't boring and nice men. If I have to hear one more story about a video games, BBQ, cars, or fantasy football I am going to turn into a werewolf right there at the table. All those bland coffee dates make me crave the bad ones. I have a date this weekend. I am torn between wanting him to be awesome and wanting him to be a good story. 

 

 

James Spader in Pretty in Pink. This early crush means I open to being with someone who sucks, but it has to be in the right way.

James Spader in Pretty in Pink. This early crush means I open to being with someone who sucks, but it has to be in the right way.

Angry at Soup

One of the chief conflicts of my life is that I'm a loner. But I am also driven insane by solitude. Constant battle. People, can't live with them, really need to stop trying to live without them.

I haven't been feeling well lately, and  I have spent much of the week in bed, eating soup. And I purchased a new soup, Campbell's Well Yes! Sweet Potato Corn Chowder. I like my food with a kick so I added some cayenne pepper and it was really delicious. My rage is not directed at the soup itself, but the label on the can. I actually yelled at the can.

"Preparing the soup is Easy!"  Really assholes?!?!?! Nothing in life is easy. If it's so easy what is with the damned exclamation point?

"You know how to do this-" Maybe I don't. Maybe this is my first soup ever. For all you know I'm a recently orphaned teen just trying to make it on her own, and you've now made me feel like I'm ill-prepared for life because everyone else in the world already knows how to make soup.

"All microwaves are a little different-so suggested cooking times are approximate."  Well, well, well, look who has lawyers on staff who are afraid of getting sued if someone eats overcooked or under cooked soup. 

"Heat in a covered microwaveable serving bowl on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes." Thirty seconds into cooking the soup I learned why this instruction was lacking the rest of the label's insouciance. YOU MUST COVER THIS SOUP! I spent more time cleaning up splatter than I spent eating soup. 

"Let the soup sit in the microwave for 1 minute. Resting is good. Carefully remove."  You soup elites don't understand the common man. Not everyone has the luxury of rest. Not in life. Not in soup. Some of us hustle 24/7. When I'm asleep, I'm working in my dreams. And guess what Campbell's, many people eat soup at work, in a shared microwave. Other people need to use it. And they will think you're a jerk if even after the microwave beeps you don't take the soup out. You can't just make them keep waiting. Also Campbell's do you not know how microwaves work? They beep and beep and beep and beep until you open the door. I don't find an irritated appliance asking me to get my shit together very restful.

"Stir up the goodness and serve with a smile!"  Why is everything with you people an exclamation? It is just soup. I think I'm agitated because you're too animated.

"Caution edges are sharp." Oh, now you want to walk the novices through soup. Umm...A sharp edges warning is a little late. At this point in the label we already have a bowl full of hot soup. If we were going to cut ourselves on the can it would've happened while we were emptying it. Oh. My. God. You're lucky your soup is really delicious. 

"Made with carefully chosen ingredients:"  You've been making soup since 1869. Are you telling me that up until now you haven't given a shit about what you've been feeding people? Soup is eaten by children and old people. Tell me you were being careful before. 

I bought all seven of the vegetarian soups in the Well Yes! line and they're all amazing. And that is the only reason I will continue to let them piss me off with their stupid labels. Great soup. But I don't like yelling at cans of soup like Trump yells at the media.

Specificity and the Unmarried Woman

I once called my brother hysterically sobbing about my not being married. Just because I’m the Merry Spinster that doesn’t mean I’m never a bit husband hungry. And in what was a well-intentioned but poorly thought out attempt to cheer me up he said I was struggling to find love because I was “too specific.” No one matched up with me. I assure this did not make me feel even slightly better and he quickly changed approaches.

But my brother was right. I am way too specific. I was just sitting in my bedroom in Yoda pajamas learning to play The Come On by Janis Ian on my banjo. In order to fit into my life a man must be 35-50 years old, at least 5’8, gainfully employed, and a regularly bather. But he must also never yell or hit and not need me to live with a cat. In addition, he has to have an appreciation if not a fondness for Star Wars and assorted science fiction, 70’s singer songwriters, and the banjo.

I always thought the most specific romantic need in human history was Siegfried and Roy. Gay German Lion Tamer with a love of showmanship seeks same, is a dating profile that is really only getting the one response. Recently a friend got married to another lesbian professional mermaid. I only know about it from Facebook and she was previously married to a man, so I guess it would be Bisexual Mermaid Seeks Same. Probably a lot more likely romantic prospects than Gay German Lion Tamer, but still not a ton.

I feel like "Tall black female Sci-fi nerd Dog lover, seeks even-tempered banjo aficionado. Must also not be short or super young or perceptively old. Morning people who love Mexican food only need apply." Yep…So…I’m taking bets on which of those things I’ll end up living without. Dog lover, banjo tolerating, and even-tempered feel like the only non-negotiable requests. We shall see. The plan is just to get married before I turn 50. Because that’s when a spinster becomes an old maid. And the Merry Old Maid sounds less like a person than an Irish sea shanty.

These were a gift from my mother. And they're awesome

These were a gift from my mother. And they're awesome

Go Away, Weird Old White Guy

A weird old white man keeps popping up in my life like a Canadian dime. He's not useless, so much as he is useless to me. I worked under him 10+ years ago. And I didn't particularly like him then. He is the kind of man who always seems to be laughing at me even though I didn't make a joke, or only partially listening because I couldn't possibly be saying anything important. And when I moved to my new apartment in June I learned that we now take the same train home from work. This means I run into him several times a month. And he insists on talking to me.

I hate talking to people. Well, that's not completely true, let me clarify. I hate talking about nothing in particular. If you gave me the choice between small talk and you shitting in my mouth I would choose to risk getting E Coli. And this man who I will call Orville and I have nothing to say to each other, so it is all small talk. 

I find myself wanting to scream at the heavens "WHY DOESN'T HE SEE THAT I AM NEVER HAPPY TO SEE HIM?!!?!?" And I need to know what kind of white straight male entitlement has convinced him that if I'm listening to music while reading a book that he just has to get my attention.

Orville: I was waving and trying to get your attention for 10 minutes. But you were really enjoying what you were listening to.

What I wish I'd said: I was. The question is, why did you think that you wanting to talk to me was more important?

What I actually said: (hollow insincere laugh) Yep. It was good. See ya.

Every conversation I have with Orville transpires while I am obviously fleeing. And yet he persists in talking to me. The bond he feels exists between us is rooted in that we are both writers, in his mind at least. He has been writing the same novel for 14 years. And when I read a draft of it 10 years ago it was the worst thing I've ever read. I would gladly read every single one of the 50 Shades books, all the books ostensibly written by a Kardashian plus all those Kardashian adjacent, and any virginal vampire fiction some lonely Mormon housewife decided to fart out before I would ever read his book again.

I was glad to learn that he attempted to email me the latest draft of his nightmare opus and it bounced back because  I stopped using that email address years ago. And when he asked for my new email address, although I have 3 that are very easy to remember, I gave him the one that contains ancient Greek, two additional letters ,and a 2 digit number. He of course didn't catch it and I was in active retreat so he couldn't get a pen and paper or unlock his phone. He texted me for the email but I did the old "New phone. Who dis?" And then when I saw him the next time gave him the number for Papa Johns pizza. And not the one that delivers to me just in case he asked them about me and they told him my address. 

What's does a girl have to do to protect her time from weird old white guys? 

Tools I haven't used yet:

  • Violence
  • Pretending I am my own clone/android replacement and who he is wasn't programmed
  • Completely changing my routine.
  • Walking 1.3 miles home everyday
  • A disguise
  • Having sex with him (That usually gets men to avoid me)
  • Carrying around a bottle of something rancid and spraying him the way a frustrated skunk would.

I honestly feel he could walk up to me and vigorously honk one of my boobs and I would feel like that at least made sense. My boobs are very honk worthy. But the talking...the talking must end.

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Date with a Douchebag: Part 57

Okay. I'm probably not up to 57 douchebags but it really feels like I am...

I love bowling. Love it. I'm not great at it. But I love it. So consequently, whenever a man asks me what I would like to do I say bowling. A frequent complaint I hear from men is that women take no responsibility for planning dates, that we never have any ideas. Well...I always say bowling, and they always say no. Why won't a man take me bowling?

Allow me to share a transcript of our conversation:

Douchebag: I'm excited about Friday. What do you think you want to do?

Merry Spinster: Bowling. How about Fat Cats? I can call ahead and get us a lane. First round of beers is on me.

Douchebag: Really?!?!? Bowling? I didn't think you were the kind of person who likes bowling. That's kind of. kind of-

Merry Spinster: Awesome. It is kind of awesome. I'm sure that's what you were going to say. 

Douchebag: No. I was going to say dumb. Bowling is dumb. Let's do something else.

Merry Spinster: (exasperated tone) Okey dokey. What would you like to do?

Douchebag: Movie?

Merry Spinster: Alright. John Wick Chapter 2 is opening. 

Douchebag: Hmm...That's kind of mindless. You sure have common tastes. I find this surprising.

Merry Spinster: Common tastes? In the first case bowling is a sport of kings. The White House used to have a bowling alley and many privately-owned mansions still do. And secondly, John Wick is a deeply complicated film about man's inhumanity to man and the search for peace in the cacophony of violence that society directs at us 24 hours a day. It has illusions of Moby Dick and borrows directly from Being and Nothingness by Jean Paul Sartre. 

Douchbag: Really?

Merry Spinster: Fuck no. The first movie is about a guy who shoots at least 80 people in the head to get to the one guy he wanted to kill because he stole his car and killed his dog. John Wick 2 is a sequel with likely thinner motivations. But it promises to be amazing. And I'd rather see it than cry at some grim Oscar-nominated self-flagellation. You're not going to impress me with your taste in movies. I kind of hate you right now. Let's try to have some fun and turn things around. 

Because I can inexplicably make mean and bitchy endearing he didn't tell me to go fuck myself. He just changed the subject. 

  • We went to dinner. Fucking tapas. Why tapas?!?!?!
  • We never made it to the movies because his mother, who lives with him, called and asked him to come home because she was lonely
  • He tried to convince me to go hang out with his mother 
  • I declined
  • He got drunk and texted me his dick
  • I texted him one of the dicks I keep on my phone in return without comment
  • I don't think we'll be going out again
  • I still really want to go bowling

Ivanka...Let Me Explain

Hey Ivanka,

Girl! You look great. And I hope things are going well. You seem very nice. But I worry that the wrong people are yelling in your ear about department stores dropping your brand. This isn't an attack on your father. This is letting the market make its wishes known. Republicans are always saying we should let the market dictate. You can't complain if it doesn't go your way. Fair is fair. And there are reasons that people stopped buying your wares.

  • Your brand was built on the narrative of a hardworking professional woman aiming for the perfect work/life balance while looking chic. You are the one Trump family member to truly step down from running a company. You're no longer involved because you quit your job to be a D.C. housewife and fill in for your reluctant stepmother as First Lady and White House hostess. You can't sell "You can have it all" and then say "Meh. I don't even want it anymore."
  • Allow me to speak anedotally for a moment. A few months ago I needed to buy a designer tote. Most days I carry a backpack, but I needed a large bag that could go from the office to dinner. I found your Blair bag online and spent three days contemplating buying it. I decided against it because I didn't want to be harrassed when I carried it. Your last name became poison the moment you said your father would be good for women with a straight face. If you decide to go back into fashion maybe name the line something else. That way women can buy your products without inadvertently marking themselves as bigots, homophobes, and misogynists. 
  • You have been accused of stealing from other designers. If we're going to carry knockoffs they should at least be cheap. 
  • Lack of celebrity cache. I'm about as bookish and disengaged from fashion as a person can get, so when I buy a designer piece it is because someone I think is awesome made it an aspirational item. When you decided to build your brand around people aspiring to be YOU, you painted yourself into a corner. No one aspires to be the daughter of a man so maligned he was protested by an entire gender. No one aspires to be invited to throw tea parties while her two brothers run a billion dollar empire. No one aspires to have their father say things that hint at incestuous thoughts about them. 
  • You got hit with a very effective hashtag. Hashtags can bring you high or take you lower than you ever thought you could go. And #grabyourwallet and its illusions to your father saying "grab them by the pussy" meant you didn't stand a chance.

I hope this provides you with some clarity. I would hate to think of you sitting at home like the girl who can't find anyone to sit with at lunch glumly asking, "Why does everybody hate me?" We don't hate you. We hate your name and what it stands for. Again, you seem like a decent lady. 

Ivanka Trump Blair Tote. Cute right? But...Nope.

Ivanka Trump Blair Tote. Cute right? But...Nope.

13 Reasons I Have a Mohawk

  1. Mohawks are cool
  2. I have a face like a homemade pie. While my face says, "Howdy. Tell me all about you", my soul cries out for silence and solitude. Anything that helps me to look even a little intimidating aids in my continuing battle against small talk.
  3. I don't like being noticed. And yes, I do see how antithetical a mohawk seems. But stay with me. I feel like shaving 2/3 of my head says, "I'm not really trying to be pretty, so don't feel like you need to pay attention to what I'm doing."
  4. I've wanted a mohawk since I was six. A name casts a shadow over my childhood...Mr T
  5. I really thought it would stop the catcalling. Nope. It didn't. Now I look daring and adventurous and potentially great in bed. 
  6. My hair has been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember. The less of it the better. 
  7. Millie Bobbie Brown from Stranger Things. I was as obsessed with that show as everyone else. I read everything about it that I found online, including an interview with Millie Bobbie Brown, and a video of her shaving her head. Pretty Hurts by Beyonce was playing over the video and that song always makes me think of how easy it is to get fixated on appearances.
  8. Whenever I'm frustrated I scream, "Ugh! I'm just going to shave my head!" Finally I got up the nerve to do it. 
  9. I kept running into this really cool woman nearly everyday, at a different place each time, and she had recently shaved her head. And when I said that I would never have the guts she said in a very Yoda-like way, "It's just hair. It grows back."
  10. My buddy Thy kept egging me on. She shaved her head years ago and loved it. 
  11. My head feels groovy and I knew it would. It's a little stubbly but also kind of gummy like freshly shaved legs.
  12. I'm always hot. Less hair more surface area available to cooling winds.
  13. I turned 40 and I can't afford a sports car or young lover.

 

 

 

I Can't Be Mad

Recently I was having dinner with an old friend who I incidentally used to sort of date more than a decade ago. And throughout the course of the evening it was revealed that he is currently cheating on his wife. I was of course aghast and disappointed and told him so. And then I was supportive and offered counsel on how to stop cheating. But then I made the offhand remark, "Geesh. I'm glad you never cheated on me." And he replied, "Umm. Yeah I did. Several times. Once at (name redacted)'s party, in the bathroom while you guys were playing beer pong." I would like to be mad but:

  • He was just so darn charming while telling me about it. It's hard to hate his face.
  • It was during the administration of George W. Bush. Two people have been elected president since them. It is a different world. 
  • The relationship wasn't particularly serious. Not sleeping with other girls would've been more a matter of good manners than obligation. 
  • About 19 months ago he was training me and I dropped a 15lb kettlebell on his genitals. They were injured and he didn't even yell at me. 
  • Merely being kicked in the dick is the usual penalty for cheating. Treating someone's junk like the Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon still puts me ahead.
  • He bought dinner. And it was no tiny check. Appetizer, two bottles of wine, entrees, dessert and espresso. 

So I can't be mad. And I'm not. But now everything he says or does is suspect. I checked to make sure the credit card he used was in his name. When the valet gave him back his keys and said, "Have a nice night, sir" I thought to myself, "Sir? Is he even a man? What can we believe? What other lies has he told?" This feels similar to the time my coke addict friend admitted she's been stealing money out of my wallet for the past two years. I'm the trusting doofus. I'm just a Disney Princess in a horror film. I just walk around thinking everything is rainbows and singing birds. And any second now something fucked up that you all saw coming is going to happen. But...I can't get mad. I just keep repeating...kettlebell. Kettlebell. Kettlebell.

 

But I don't want to be brave

I can do nearly anything. You know that Nelson Mandela quote, "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure?" Well that is me. I promise I'm not being conceited. I have the appropriately low self-esteem of an overweight middle-aged woman. I just have to also acknowledge that I am a magnificent creature. These two states can coexist. And it freaks me out. Not having a husband means everything in my life that needs doing, I have to do myself. And it is usually something I never imagined I could do. And then I'm in such abundant awe of myself that I then become depressed that I'm such an underachiever. 

This website wasn't the hardest thing in the world to put together. But I would've loved to have just asked someone else to do it, or at the very least help me. It would've been nice to have casually said over dinner, "Honey, we need to work on my website later." Instead like 7 years ago I bought this domain name. And I had parked another blog on it. The blog was popular among my friends and mostly consisted of me complaining and sharing my misadventures, because my life is ridiculous. I basically just did the cyberspace version of "set it and forget it" with the whole thing. And then I started getting frantic emails from Google telling me I needed to update billing and registration information. All of which I blew off until the day before the deadline. I spent 4 hours tracking down old logins so I could get into the administrative account, but I succeeded in updating everything that I needed to.

That should've been the end of it. But then I got annoyed that I had spent time and money on something as blah as that blog. So I decided to put up something better that I could build on over time. And because every podcast I listen to advertises Squarespace I picked them to help me do it. And I get that it would be inside baseball to praise Squarespace when it is obvious that this website is "Powered by Squarespace" but I'm barely doing it. I actually found it really hard and confusing. And in order to transfer the domain name I had to manually go in and enter in different CNAME and @ codes and all kinds of stuff I don't understand how to do. But I did it. There is a tutorial for everything. If I was stranded on a deserted island but inexplicably had wi-fi I could take out my own spleen right now. I followed steps and copied and pasted things and failed painfully for hours but here we are. Mark Zuckerberg is sleeping comfortably tonight knowing I am not coming for him, but I took care of business.

Another incident is what I call the Nighttime Mouse Murder Mystery. I used to live in a charming apartment that was about a hundred years old. My roommates were ants, brown recluse spiders, and a weird smell. And for one stressful 72 hour period at least six mice. One night I got up at 2am to go to the bathroom and a mouse ran across the hall in front of me. I screamed and then groaned. I was tired, it was below zero out, and mice are disgusting. A married woman can send her husband to the store for traps and poison, or at the very least have him watch where the mouse ran and stand guard so he doesn't come back out while she goes. But I'm a spinster and I had to get dressed and trudge in the snow to buy the traps, then spend an hour online learning the most effective strategic placement. I was a proud independent woman. Until a few days later when I came home and found six bloody dead mouse bodies scattered around my apartment. They didn't look like they'd been poisoned and none were found near the traps. Their deaths looked violent. I didn't have a cat and the only friend who had a key to my apartment only used it for midday naps. And he wasn't a killer. We're both vegetarians. 

I hated those mice. In my mind they weren't common grey field mice guilty of nothing more sinister than eating a box of Special K cereal, pooping in a shoe, and chewing up an old power cord. No, to me they were plague rats, vile creatures who would cause my death. But regardless when I happened upon the unexplained carnage I wept for them. And then because there was no one else to do it, I had to scoop up the corpses and dispose of them. I was upset but also confident. I had faced down the Black Death and seen my enemies vanquished. To this day I have no idea how those mice died. There is no CSI:Rodent.

Any collection of anecdotes about me being awesome in defiance of my instinct to be a damsel in distress wouldn't be complete without my couch. I ordered a convertible sofa online from wayfair.com. And I didn't realize that it came in many pieces. I had to assemble it. First the frame, then the convertible mechanism, and lastly the actual back and seat cushions. ALONE. I didn't even have tools until that day. I sat on the box and cried for at least 10 minutes. And then I spent the next two hours putting it together. And the last seven months  bragging anytime someone so much as glances at it.

I have fixed my own garbage disposal, negotiated contracts, and fought off potential assailants not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I am all I have. Luckily I am a badass motherfucker. And if something doesn't involve athletic ability or carrying a tune, I can figure out how to do it. Even if I'm scared, even if I'm tired, even if I don't want to. I am powerful beyond measure...so far.

I Buy Weird Things

Yes. These are apples in a tube.

Yes. These are apples in a tube.

I hate grocery shopping. It is only surpassed by genocide and raisins when it comes to things I loathe. This is because genocide affects people other than me. And raisins are an evil I haven't been able to turn enough people against, therefore hating them makes me feel insane. I don't like feeling insane. My overwhelming hate of grocery shopping is rooted in the way I always have to do it when I'm the most tired and annoyed, usually when I'm hungry, and seemingly always when every other person in the city also decided to go to the store. 

I usually shop at Harmon's because it is the store closest to my apartment. This increases my irritation because the food is 10-20% more expensive and they convince me to buy things I don't need and likely won't eat. I find myself saying things like "I should buy that dragon fruit." This is in defiance of the fact that I have never eaten a dragon fruit in my life and would've had to google what to do with it.

Given that track record you would think I would be careful when shopping. But nope. I was on my way to the potatoes when I saw them. ROCKET. APPLES. SHINY. FUN. Apples in a tube?!?! What was this magic? Why would anyone do this? It is madness I say. And yet I wanted them. The voice in my head that always wants me to eat more fruit was on board. While the voice in my head that never shuts up about being more responsible and saving for my future threatened to expose me publicly. Too late voice! I have no shame! I wanted them. So I bought them. And I have no regrets. They were exquisite. And I can brag that I ate four apples today. Oprah isn't the only one living her best life.