I Miss My Daddy (01/09/2015)

I woke up this morning with an ache I couldn't put a name too. I wasn't sick. I was well rested. I hadn't forgotten something important. But I felt bad. And then some silly song from a playlist I rarely listen to came on and I remembered all over again that my father is dead. And I was sobbing on the green line train. Sobbing so hard I couldn't even tell anyone why. But even if I could have, who would've believed me that after 20 years it can still hurt this bad.

I've always been what my parents called "high-strung." And when things were bad I could go to my father. And he'd point to his shoulder and say, "Put your head right here. And tell me." I'd tell him everything on my mind in no particular order of importance and he'd help me figure it out. It was a nice as it sounds. And I needed that a lot longer than the first 18 years of my life. 

Growing up the only person I really believed loved me was my father. Just him. I now know my mother does, my siblings do, and I have cherished friends. But when I was kid, I felt like he was all I had. And when he died I was alone. The kind of alone that makes all the sounds too loud and laughter not make sense. 

The problem is that I feel like the only person that could make me feel better right now about him being dead is him. I could put my head on his shoulder and say, "Daddy. I feel unmoored. Like I will never belong to anyone or anyplace. That you're the only man who ever thought I was worth loving. And I feel like I don't have enough spirit to keep trying. And I'll never be more than what I am. And I am small and unimportant." I feel like he could think of something to say. He was a compulsive liar so it likely would've been bullshit. But I would feel better. 

My all time favorite book is The World According to Garp by John Irving. But the only good thing I can say about the movie adaption is the scene in which Garp and his wife are house hunting and moments after they decide to buy a house, it is hit by a plane. Of course his wife no longer wants it but he does. 

T. S. Garp: We'll take the house. Honey, the chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical. It's been pre-disastered. We're going to be safe here."

And that is how I feel about my life. I was 18 and I snuck out to have Chinese food with a Raeanne Pfeifer. And when I came home my brother told me that my dad was dead. Nothing in this life can ever break my heart like that again. Men can leave, I can fail, my body can ache and break. But my dad can't die twice. And sometimes that makes me brave. Which I guess is one of those silver linings I like to find. 

I can't remember the last time I ended a conversation or said goodnight to someone without saying something nice. That's because this is the last exchange I had with my dad:
Dad: Do you want me to bring you anything back?
Me: No. I don't know. Maybe a Pepsi?

I didn't know the correct answer was, "Nothing but you. I want you to come home." 

I pledge a more cheerful post next time,
The Merry Spinster

Black Banjo Gal (01/26/2015)

I play the banjo. Okay settle down now. No reason to laugh. I assure you it is a perfectly normal thing for a black woman to do. The banjo is essentially  a West African instrument brought to this continent by slaves. Its association with rednecks and hillbillies is actually quite recent. Less than a hundred years.  So simma down now.

I wanted to play the banjo the first time I saw Kermit the frog do it. And the second time I saw Steve Martin play. Which I guess means I admire frogs more than men. 

Why did I wait 30 years to buy one and learn? Eh! I'm not perfect and sometimes I care too much what other people think. And my desire to play the banjo was a dirty little secret. Plus I am devoid of rhythm and anything approaching musicality. You see, I said I played the banjo. I did not say I played it well. I am actually quite atrocious at it. I coax the occasionally pleasant sound out of it, but I wouldn't necessarily call it "music." I knew I was going to be a lousy banjo player before I even picked up the instrument. I never play for other people and I insist on paying my teachers in cash like they're prostitutes or drug dealers. None of this lessens the love I have for the banjo. 

Pete Seeger wrote on his banjo "This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender." If I wrote on my banjo it would say, "This Machine Makes People Wish They Had Headphones."

The first song I ever wrote was titled, "G, D7, C." The lyrics?
G, D7, C
These are the only chords I know
The only chords I know
Learning more would be hard
Harder than making cheese
So I'll just keep playing these
G, D7, C
The only chords I know

On only my second day of playing the banjo I set my tuner to the wrong setting and broke two strings trying to tune it. One string hit me in the face and if I didn't wear glasses probably wouldn't taken out my eye. I am weirdly disappointed that it didn't. That would've been the best how I lost my eye story ever. A person would've asked me and I would've pointed at my eye and said, "Damndest thing, Hoss. Banjo injury. Don't miss it though. Wasn't even the good one. Only good for winking." I would of course say it in that homespun way to feed into the stereotype people have about banjo players. 

Despite regarding myself as the worst banjo player currently picking and strumming I am in a band with my friends Audrey and Ali. Our band is called "Sister Squirrel" It is an old timey string band like the Carolina Chocolate Drops. And all of our songs are about feminism and crafting and boys we've kissed. And one is about how much we like talking to each other about poop. Someday we will play a backyard hootenanny and this will be our setlist:
1) Get outta my womb, Govt Man
2) Kissing Mike Something Irish
3) Crafting Misfit
4) Ball-headed Hotdog Eatin Man
5) Squirrel Sister, Sister Squirrel
6) I like to Poop
7) My Cat Ain't No Pussy
8) Dumb Dog, Sweet Dog
9) Super Soaker Period

My favorite black girl who plays the banjo is Rhiannon Giddens and she is a magical unicorn and I want to bake her banana bread so she knows how much I appreciate her music. This is her:

My banjo is named Owen. And he is nothing fancy. Just a Chinese Gibson knockoff. But he's mine. He's my own. My very Owen.

“The banjo is such a happy instrument--you can't play a sad song on the banjo - it always comes out so cheerful.”
― Steve Martin

Your banjo gal,
The Merry Spinster

Lizzie Borden: (Un)Merry Spinster (01/28/2015)

From time to time on this blog I discuss what I call a fellow "merry spinster." I define a merry spinster as a woman who has never married, who is for the most pretty okay with it, and who is doing something awesome with her life.

I have always struggled with worries that I have crossed the line between Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat in the air in a moment of pure joy and independence, and Kathy Bates in Misery breaking some guy's legs so he can't leave. I think we can all agree to draw the line on the side of not murdering your parents because you want their money and to be free from their perceived tyranny.

Lizzie Borden was 32 when she was tried for killing her parents which definitely puts her square in the land of spinsters. And it was pretty safe to say she had virtually no prospects for marriage. Among her many motives for murder was her need to get out from under her parent's thumb. This was unfortunately in 1892 possible only though marriage. I am grateful for the fact that when I was ready to leave home I could do so without it being perceived as scandalous. Praise whatever deity or universal force that governs your life that you are free to live anywhere you can afford to pay the rent/mortgage. Be grateful for the door you can slam in your parent's face if want to. (Although, please be polite to your parents for goodness sakes. Hypothetically they fed, and clothed, and put a roof over your head for 18+ years. Don't slam your door in their faces unless they really, really, really have it coming.)

As someone who knows what it is like to feel desperate and crazed by circumstances beyond your control, allow me to say a few kind words about a long dead spinster who died an old maid.

* She was acquitted of the crime. And instead of slinking off to live anonymously she chose to stay in Fall River, MA and hold her head up high. That takes some pretty big ovaries.

* When she died she left $30,000 (approximately $550,000 in 2015) to the Fall River Animal Rescue league. She was an animal lover. Some of the best of us are.

Lizzie Borden was the very opposite of a merry spinster. She got down about her life. Did something awful and gave us all a bad name.

Yeah...You Can Just Keep That Glass Slipper, Prince Charming (08/15/2015)

So…I am trying to convince myself that the world is not full of disgusting toilet men. But I haven’t met a gentleman in a long time. Consequently, I am pretty much disgusted by all men lately. This is as you can imagine problematic for an unmarried woman who is exclusively attracted to men. I am sure the situation will eventually resolve itself. I’ll make the acquaintance of a man, and I won’t develop the sneaking suspicion that he is history’s worst monster. Men of planet Earth I will list your recent sins. J’Accuse!

*        Dick pics: What in the ever loving holy fucking hell?!?!? Now I do not speak of sexting. I’ve done it. I didn’t care for it. And I doubt I would do it again. If you want to see my woman bits then there is an easy application process. (1) Tell me I’m pretty. I love that. (2) Buy me food (3) Do something that makes me smile (4) Kiss me well and often. (5) Request sexual contact through word or deed.
I think that is pretty standard. Do not ask me to send you a picture of my gear. And don't send me yours. Especially unsolicited. I hate to use words like “microaggression” and “assault” but that is what it feels like. Let me paint you a picture by illustrating how ubiquitous the dick pic has become. I met a guy at a party. He asked for my phone number so we could maybe hang out or something. I gave it to him. And a few days later the following exchange occurred.
o   Dude: Hey girl. Watcha doin’
o   The Merry Spinster: Watching the Giants game and making a summer salad
o   Dude: (Picture of his semi-erect penis)

He annoyed me. I didn't find it sexy. And I couldn't enjoy my summer salad. And there were heirloom tomatoes in it too. The dick pic is in my opinion no different than old fashioned flashers hanging out in front of elementary schools jacking off at little girls. If you wouldn't do that. Don’t send a dick pic.

*       Leering at Teenage Girls: During the summer Ballet West in conjunction with the University of Utah, hosts talented young advanced ballet dancers for an elite program. And every morning I would see many of the dancers on the train going from class to the dorms and other places. And I would also see disgusting men oogling CHILDREN. It was horrifying. These were skinny girls with their hair in buns wearing sweats in the July/August heat chattering away as teenagers do. And yet wolfish men of all stripes were drooling and staring. I was so grossed out that I couldn’t see straight. I asked a friend who I do not ordinarily find creepy about this and he claims, it’s unlikely any of those guys are pedophiles lusting after nubile flesh, so much as guys daydreaming about their teenage selves getting to be with that kind of girl. Nope. Doesn’t make it better. Still gross

*        Oblivious Men: I am a member of a Sci-fi singles group. And it is mostly men. But the small number of women in the group are certifiably DTF (For the old folks that stands for DOWN TO FUCK) and yet no one is even dating let alone having sexy times. Because the men are oblivious and apparently none of them were in marching band. Allow me to explain. In most high schools the secret is that the kids having the most sex are in the marching band. They go on trips involving hotels, they learn to do interesting things with their mouths, and they are smart. Smart enough to know that everyone wants to bang, and if the cool kids don’t want to bang us, we’ll bang each other. This Sci-fi singles group I belong to is full of lonely people not getting laid, who could be getting laid if they wanted. But everyone is holding out hope that one of the superhot geeks and nerds they see on TV and on the internet will come along and bang their too fat/too thin/to shiny/too short/too tall/too whatever self. And it might happen...But while it isn't the girls in this group show up with our hair and makeup done and get ignored. If you can't be with Felicia Day, then love the one you're with.

Men of Planet Earth. I'm sure I'll love you again soon.

-The Merry Spinster

Fictional People I Worry About (08/24/2015)

I have what could be called an overactive imagination. This often ruins sci-fi movies in which aliens die en masse during the climactic battle. I can't help but imagine their families back home. Sure to us he is Xuthorpe III Conqueror of Galaxies, but he's someone's son, someone's husband, and probably someone's father and friend. He will be missed. And so will all the nameless little green men that our army blows up. That is a lot of love lost, and mourned.

I also worry a great deal about Lex Luther's girlfriends. He always has one. And he is never nice to them. In Superman the Movie, after Lex says the second bomb is headed to Hackensack, NJ, Miss Tessmacher comments that  her mother lives in Hackensack, NJ and will die. They've been dating a while. He probably knew that AND STILL that is where he sent the second bomb. And when she practically sobs to him, he just looks at his watch and clicks his tongue. I'm as much of a ride or die bitch as the next gal but...Why is she with him? Sure Lex often has money. But there are lots of rich guys who are also nice.

And in Superman Returns Lex cuts the brakes on his girlfriend Kitty Kowalski's car. SHE COULD'VE BEEN KILLED!!!!! And was that grounds for breaking up with him?!?!?! Nope. I think we have to assume that Lex Luther is a master cocksman. He is giving the best dick in the world. When he gives you an orgasm Jesus Christ appears over his shoulder and gives you the thumbs up. That and he makes amazing french toast are the only reasons to go out with him.

I love the Gladys Knight and the Pips song Midnight Train to Georgia. LOVE IT! Like listen to it five times in a row at least once a month love it. But I worry about the girl singing the song. Her boyfriend is going back to their hometown because he didn't make it as a musician. But...umm...her career seems to be going well. She's singing on the radio. There are guys behind her singing "Superstar! But he didn't get far." Unsuccessful people do not have back-up singers. It is a beautiful loving thought that she would rather live in his world than be without him in her's. But...Why can't he swallow a little pride and stay with her in L.A.? What about her dreams? She sings like Gladys Knight. She doesn't necessarily have to go back to whatever red dirt road southern town they're from and have babies and help him tenant farm. If I was friends with the girl in the song I would sit her down and tell her that the music business of full of cute boys, she'll likely meet another one. Let him get on that midnight train by himself. And if you still miss him in six months, and are certain you can't live without him, then go home.

Michael Myers is a very confusing horror movie villain. He gives no real reason for wanting his family members dead. He murders one sister, then fails to murder another, and then spends Halloween IV trying to murder his seven year old niece. He murders dozens of people, and the only motivation I can extract is that he wants to be an only child. Now I have a brother and a sister. And I have been lukewarm on them at various times in my life. And there was a two year period in my early adolescence in which it would be fair to say I hated them and wished they would just disappear. But if I had tried to murder them, and failed, that would've been the end of it. I need someone to write a Halloween film in which Laurie goes to some family therapy sessions at Smith's Grove Sanitarium and they get to the bottom of Michael's anger. And they heal and hug and no more teenagers have to die just because they decided to smoke a little weed and have a little sex.

I am obsessed with pop culture. And it is seeping into every aspect of my life. Not cool. Not cool.

Your imaginary friend,
The Merry Spinster

Curse of the Wasp Woman (09/14/2015)

Two weeks ago I got stung by a wasp. And it is still bothering me.  Please see the following list of things that you should never say to someone stung by an insect.
1) That’s weird. (Insert insect) isn’t usually aggressive
2) Did it hurt?
3) Are you allergic?
4) I’ve never been stung by (insert insect)
5) (Insert name) is allergic to bees

Why? Because it doesn’t make me feel better if wasps/bees/Girl Scouts/etc don’t usually attack unprovoked. I wasn’t provoking the damn thing, and I don’t need the victim blaming. And yes…It did hurt. If it hadn’t I would’ve said “A wasp gently landed on me and then flew away” Unless this is someone asking me for the tenth time whether I’m an android or not. For the record I have nerves and experience pain when something pierces my flesh and deposits venom. Am I allergic?!?!?! Really?!!?! Again. I am a human being and was injected with venom. No one is immune to venom. We just have varying degrees of reaction. You might as well just come out with it and ask, “Did you almost die?” That’s what you want. A story of life and death struggle. And whoop de doo! You never go outside smelling like something an insect might be interested in therefore one has never interacted with you. Quit bragging. That’s weird. You’re like those people who brag about being tall. Lots of people are tall. And it really isn’t all that much of an advantage in life. And I’m sorry this person I don’t know, experiences more pain and danger when they get stung by a bee than I do. But…Hey…Can we keep this about me for more than 10 seconds? I was injected with venom. Why doesn’t that earn me your full attention?

So now that we’ve covered the emotional pain and aggravation that I experienced at the hands of my friends and acquaintances when I was stung. Let’s go over the physical…Holy Fuck! Not only did it hurt but I am not only allergic to the venom but something the wasp deposited under my skin. I have struggled to stop worrying that it is wasp eggs and I’ll be awoken in the night to find them eating their way out of my ankle. But all I know is that a full week after I got stung the swelling was still getting worse and the area had turned purple. And the itching was keeping me up all night even when I guzzled Benadryl and covered the area in hydro-cortisone. So I went to the doctor. He prescribed a bunch of meds and it is slowly getting better. But…If I’m being honest I was hoping for super powers. Maybe I watch too many movies. But usually when a mild-mannered person gets stung or bitten by an insect they get that insects’ powers. The only characteristics of the wasp that stung me that I’ve taken on is an irrational desire to attack people minding their own business just because I’m annoyed by something.  And stealth. Lately I’ve had more stealth. But I would’ve preferred flight and venom. Without those two powers should I attack someone I have no weapon but clever rhetoric with which to injure them.  I would also have liked to have the ability to build a nest where I could mate and frighten humans. But nope. I just have a weird looking ankle and am slightly more fussy than usual. If I want superpowers I’m just going to have to start hanging out at the nuclear waste processing plant. Which we totally have in Utah because we let other states and countries pay us to bury dangerous things in the desert and then we ignore the weird happenings.

The Merry Spinster (But Preferably the Wasp Woman)

Everyone Is NOT Hanging Out Without Me (09/20/2015)

This is very exciting...I have been too busy to finish this blog entry. I started it Thursday afternoon and only now on my way to bed on Sunday night have I been able to sit still. I just couldn't find time.  I've been partying, attending Knitters Who Drink club meetings, having girls' nights, seeing movies with Silver Foxes and guys with beards and motorcycles. I've been doing stuff. I was too busy living my life, to write about my life. Isn't that the most delicious thing this side of Girl Scout Thin Mints? But it now it's time to sit still and drink some Sleepy Time tea and catch you up.

I make no secret of my affection for Mindy Kaling.
She is exactly what I’m talking about when I talk about a Merry Spinster. She works hard, builds her dreams by hand, has a great social life, and refuses to let anyone tell her that how she looks or lives her life is wrong. And she doesn’t have a husband. WHAAAAT?!?!?! I know right. WHAAAATTT???! No seriously, she doesn't. Stop saying what.

I follow her on Twitter and Instagram and when her new book came out on Tuesday I raced to the bookstore to buy it like the fawning fangirl that I am. As the clerk at Barnes and Noble rang me up he asked “Did you find everything you were looking for?” And I gently stroked it like Golem admiring his Precious and said, “Yes. It is here. I have it now.” I will not dare pretend I didn’t sound like a crazy person. But it was a book store. He should be glad that someone is that into reading something. If we stop being so excited about books that we refuse to wait 2 days for them to arrive in the mail, he is going to find himself working at McDonalds. But instead of appreciating, he started hating. As I literally skipped out of the book store gleefully all I could do was shake my head and think, “That fool doesn’t know what he is missing.”

I am writing about Mindy not just because I talk about her a lot, but because something she wrote is very relevant to my life right now. An early chapter of her book talks about how much she dreads weddings. And she does an amazing riff on how awful it is to be a bridesmaid. She rightly points out that you are literally “a maid.” Those matching dresses are a uniform and you are there to serve the bride and work for her. She is even expected to materially compensate you with some kind of gift. And after Mindy outlines all the bullshit tasks a bridesmaid does, she states why we do it. And it is because we miss our best friends. As we get older and our lives change, we grow apart from the women who were once like an extra limb. And we basically go through all the bridesmaid torment just so we can have dinner with our best friend.  I was moved by that simple sentiment and also how the chapter is about how we feel left behind. I have felt that a lot the last few years. And I felt kind of like a loser. But if Mindy Kaling is getting dropped for husbands and babies and jobs far away, then I’m in good company and it is normal.

Mindy also did a talk at a book fair that I found on Youtube in which she was asked about her goals for the future. And one of the ones she has is to make one good close female friend. And I thought what a noble and amazing goal. And it sounds so easy, but its actually difficult. We both have to find (1) A FEMALE. We’re both usually surrounded by men (2) We must like this female and she must like us. As much as we hate it when someone we’re attracted to us puts in the friend zone, it is a place of better honor. It’s easy to like someone you’re fucking enough to hang out with them. My own parents got through the first 10 years of their marriage with nothing more in common than they both liked Star Trek and they liked boning each other. But if you like someone without the sex chemicals flooding your brain that’s golden. (3) We must have something in common (4) Our lifestyles and schedules have to match up so we can spend time together. That’s more steps than it takes to make a Pop Tart and only one less than it takes to make a lasagna. Mindy and both like to eat, so a food comparison seemed appropriate.

What was great about this goal is it is not only achievable and promises a great reward, but it is under my control. All I have to do is play the numbers game and show enough women that I’m awesome until one likes me back. And I found one. I was at a Ladies Drinking Socially Society brunch and Ayse sat down next to me and told me we were from that moment on best friends. I of course demurred. At the time I had three people sharing the title of “best friend” listed in the following chronological order of acquaintance: Maggie (We’ve been friends since she moved to Iowa City in seventh grade, and was warned to stay away from me because I was weird. And she thought something akin to “I like weird. I’d rather be friends with her than these bland Tiffany/Heather/Jennifer what’s-her-name Stepford teens”; Tim (A dude. An awesome dude. And the only person who can talk sense into me when I’m too happy or too sad about something); Audrey (Female scientist and crafter extraordinaire who will talk poop and periods with me like no one else). The position of best friend was staffed albeit by a person who lives in Maryland, another who lives in South Korea, and a woman I rarely hear from since she fell in love with some dude and got busy at work. It is like the way your company employs more than enough people but you're still doing all the work yourself.

So with my staff of best friends all allocating their resources to other projects I delegated some activities to her. And I found her loud and overwhelming and insane.  And at first blush not what I was looking for in a gal pal. She's married with two kids. Bleech! She hates reading and books. I'm a writer. I'm always trying to lose weight and she eats delicious high-calorie food 24/7 and encourages me to do the same. But maybe what a woman like me who knits, has read at least one book on all 44 of our US Presidents including Millard Fillmore, and listens to baseball games on the radio like an old man needed was loud and overwhelming and insane. Because that is how I found myself screaming Motown Philly and Salt n' Pepa's Shoop at the top of my lungs while drunk on whiskey sours, while a giant from Lehi, UT tried to get into my pants. Laughing my ass off between telling my new friends Wendy and Jenny all my troubles and realizing that I'll be okay. Because I'm always okay. And I'm only as lonely as I allow myself to be.

I will never be as clever or successful as Mindy Kaling. That woman has a fire in her belly, whereas I have a 700 watt microwave in mine. She could burn the world down and it takes me 6 minutes to warm up a Lean Cuisine. But we merry spinsters stick together. Thank you Mindy. And thank you to my friends new and old.

Mindy Kaling's Future Best Friend,
The Merry Spinster

The Guacamole Meltdown (03/10/2016)

 I love the guacamole. I love it more than Kanye West loves himself. I love it even more than Donald Trump loves defending the size of his svantz*. I love guacamole so much I’m afraid to have a baby, because I may look down at the beaming face of my child and think “Eh. It’s not like you’re a bowl of guacamole.”

My love of guacamole led me to have a bit of meltdown on Monday. I went to dinner with a friend and ordered my meal. And when I said I’d like a side of guacamole the waitress said, “Is it okay that the guacamole is extra?” And I lost my shit. And the following rant occurred.

The Merry Spinster: Yeah. I know guacamole is extra. I can read. It’s written in English which I speak. And Spanish that I have a passing familiarity with. Everyone knows guacamole is extra. And anyone who doesn’t know that guacamole  is a luxury item deserves to find out when they get the check that they owe you an extra $0.85. And if they don’t have it, they should have to give blow jobs in the parking lot until they can come up with the money**. Avocados cost $1.50 EACH, and are such magical objects meant to only grace our planet for a short period of time that the time between when you pierce it’s skin and when  it becomes a pile of inedible brown mush is so short that you couldn’t achieve an orgasm, address a letter, or say all Elizabeth Taylor’s married names in the same span of time. Why would anyone think you would just give that away?!?!?! Unlike cheese which is cheap and easy to make, guacamole should be extra. FUCK! Have we raised a generation of people so entitled that they think guacamole isn’t a luxury but a right?”

(The waitress was oddly not taken aback by my rant. She added her own comments.)

Waitress: They make me ask that. But I agree. If you can’t read the damn menu you’re an idiot. By the way…It’s really good guacamole. Total worth it. I’ll go get your lemonade.

I’m a black woman living in America. I endure so many indignities. So I don’t understand when the thing that makes me mad enough to go off on someone is guacamole or rain or a coworkers open-toed shoes. I suspect I just let my anger build up until it overflows in the middle of a Mexican restaurant.

FYI…My Five Favorite Mexican Restaurants in Salt Lake City
1) El Chihuahua
2) La Puente
3) Red Iguana
4)  Taqueria 27
5) Frida Bistro

The Merry Spinster

*No language has better words for male genitalia than Yiddish
**Ideally they would not have to give more than ONE.

Too Old To Flirt (03/17/2016)

I am going through a transitional phase in my life. I keep doing weird stuff I’ve never done before. Why? I couldn’t say. I’m turning 40 in November, maybe it is a mid-life crisis. So far it has been harmless. But this morning… I was walking to the train and a young man walked past me. Something about his red jacket, his jeans, and his playful sneakers caused me to have what must have been a stroke. And out of nowhere I called out, “Hey Tall and Sexy where you going?” This was followed by grunt and a weird nod. Me, a proud feminist, catcalled. I catcalled a fellow human being. Not okay! I was entirely clothed in shame and was on the precipice of vigorously apologizing when he said, “To class ma’am. I go to law school at the U. I hope you have a blessed day.” 

Did I skip about 30 years of my life and now I’m just a dirty little old lady, and thus no longer a threat to men in their 20’s? It can’t be that. I do alright. I find socializing with other people unbearable but when I feel the urge to merge I have never had any trouble getting someone to put their dick in me. 
It is possible that like many young men in Utah he is so fresh faced and innocent and above such things that it didn’t occur to him to feel objectified or sexualized. He heard  “Hey Tall and Sexy! Where you going?” as a polite and neighborly inquiry. If so…Isn’t that the cutest thing ever?

Lastly, he could’ve been doing what I often do when someone says something nasty to me. I play dumb. A creeper asks me to sit on his face and I look at him blankly and say, “Oh no. That’s not safe. You wouldn’t be able to breathe. You’re such a silly goose.” They usually find that as disconcerting as I found “I hope you have a blessed day.”

Let's hope whatever lapse in sanity I experienced is an isolated even. Men, I respect you. You're not pieces of meat.




Idiot Mittens (01/09/2014)

I am a beautiful mess. Always have been, always will be. Allow me to tell an illustrative anecdote. When I was a wee lass growing up in Missouri my elementary school would send home notes. Pretty standard stuff e.g. bake sale next Friday, lost mittens can be found in the nurse’s office, no gum chewing. But I always lost these notes, resulting in my mother having about an hour’s notice that she needed to bake three dozen cupcakes, or that I didn't have any mittens. My mother is a saint and tried to work with me on  being organized and having one’s shit together, then she gave up and instructed the teacher to pin notes to me that I was forbidden to take off until she’d seen them. And as to the losing of mittens…she purchased me what is often referred to as “idiot mitten holders.” Two clips with a small piece of elastic between them designed to secure the mittens to the sleeves of one’s coat. There I was a child with a high IQ and all the advantages in life being forced to walk around with notes pined on me, knowing my mother had deemed me too much of a moron to simply put my mittens in my coat pocket after I took them off. I don’t blame Mama. Money doesn’t grow on trees and by my conservative estimate I lost 8 pairs of mittens in one winter. But that is me in a nutshell. A goofy person with too much on her mind to be able to focus on the little and important things. While we were in the middle of Mitten-Gate 1982 I was trying to convince my father to get me a kingdom for Christmas.

Future Merry Spinster: Daddy I want a kingdom
Daddy: Well you’re already my princess
Future Merry Spinster: (Exasperated sigh) I don’t want to be a princess. I want to be in charge. I want to rule over everybody.
Daddy: Why Puddin?
Future Merry Spinster: Because they’re all doing it wrong! I will run my kingdom and then I’ll get more kingdoms until I’m in charge of everything and the world would be better.

You see…What I wanted was to take my modest kingdom and then grow it into a mighty empire as brutal and bloody as the Spanish and as varied as the British. And then I would rewrite the last 500 years of human history to look like what I wanted. A world in which being a little brown child was better than being a blonde blue-eyed moppet who looked like she fell off a Swiss Miss Cocoa box (eye-roll). And no one was a middle-child. Parents were required to keep going until there was an even number. The Muppet show was on five nights a week. And everyone sang and danced all the time. And sugar-sweetened cereal wasn't just for Saturdays. You could eat it three meals a day if you wanted to. Instead of the throne, serfs, and the army I asked for…I received a Strawberry Shortcake doll. I will not attempt to express the depth of my despair or disappointment.

A person with plans for world domination who craved to go down in history with Caesar, Napoleon, and Alexander the Great could not be bothered with mitten retention and notes about bake sales. And neither can the adult me. I will not be so wasted on the mundane trivialities of life. To begin with, I have recently lost the ability to put on shoes without injuring myself. My legs are no longer, and my feet are no bigger but all attempts to control their movements have resulted in stubbed big toes, broken pinkie toes, and falling down. In addition, I spend so much time plotting future adventures (albeit less ambitious than the ones of my childhood) that I am not completely certain I fed my dog yesterday. He seems okay. And he didn't say anything, but I don’t recall him eating.  Moreover, I have eaten Sun Chips and soda for breakfast for almost a week solid because I can’t seem to get out of bed ten minutes earlier so I may buy or prepare something more nutritious.

I have been menstruating for 23 years. I have an app on my phone that tracks my cycle and sends me a text the day before my period will start. And yet every month, I am not prepared. I find myself fashioning a tampon or a pad out of paper towels or toilet paper or the Sexiest Man Alive issue of People magazine. All of my linens look like they've been used to clean up a murder. Female friends 16-45 think “Do you have a tampon?” is the traditional greeting of my people.  The same thing has happened every 26 days for nearly a quarter century but I can’t seem to make the system work.

Last week I lost over an hour of my life because I just sat in a chair thinking about the late 80’s Christian Slater movie Gleaming the Cube. You know? The one in which he is a skateboarder who must solve the murder of his adopted Korean older brother. During that hour I was supposed to be at a wedding.

I am frequently  late for work because I sit down to pee and then discover I’ve been singing a little song and 15 minutes has gone by. My legs have fallen asleep and I must now drag myself across the floor like I’m Cary Elwes in the last 20 minutes of the movie SAW.

I am a mess. In more than 30 years I have barely progressed beyond idiot mitten holders. Now I’m an adult and I just buy more mittens/gloves. And I have a smartphone that tells me when things are and who my friends are. And why I need three dozen cupcakes or that I must check to make sure my IUD is in place. I didn't improve. The world just evolved to coddle me more. So possibly I didn't need my own kingdom. I just needed to believe that fate would provide me with what I want and need. 

Too Much Talky (01/24/2014)

I would like to present an unabridged transcript of a conversation I had with a woman regarding my childlessness. I present it without comment because I'm sure you can extrapolate.

Woman: Why don't you have any children?
Spinster: I do.
Woman: Oh my god! Everyone said you didn't. How many do you have?
Spinster: Four. Two sets of fraternal twins. Cathy and Chris are 15 and Cory and Carrie are 6.
Woman: That fabulous. Are you married?
Spinster: I was. He died six months ago. I've been living with my parents. My father never approved of my marriage so he doesn't want anything to do with the children so they spend all their time in another wing of the house. But they have a wonderful attic playroom to enjoy. And their grandmother makes sure they have everything they need. I haven't been spending as much time with them as I should because I recently met a man and I've been trying to get back on my father's good side. Last time I visited them they all looked a little pale and I think Chris and Cathy maybe are becoming a little too close if you know what I mean.
Woman: Wait. What? Umm...Isn't that the plot of Flowers in the Attic?
Spinster: I doubt that. I've never heard of this Attic, flowers, flowers of an attic? What is it?
Woman: It's a movie and a book.
Spinster: If it resembles my life my life so much I should read it.
Woman: You've never read it?
Spinster: Nope.
Woman: Really?!?!?!? Because you're describing it. Like exactly. The names are even the same.
Spinster: No.
Woman: Okay.

(Ten minutes later)

Woman: Missy says you've never been married. She said you're just fucking with me.
Spinster: Of course I am. But I figured if you could be a nosy bitch, I could be a liar. Why would you ask me such a person question?!?!?!? It's none of your fucking business. The only reason anyone asks that is so they can be judgemental or superior or talk about their own kids.
Woman: I guess
Spinsters: And besides that. What if it was a sensitive subject? What if I'd had a half dozen miscarriages. Or I was infertile and cried myself to sleep at night? Or I'm currently pregnant but I don't want to talk about it? Mind your own business!
Woman: God! You don't have to bite my head off.
Spinster: Ask me about kids again and I'll reach into your chest and play keep away with your still beating heart.(long awkward pause) Hey you want to go get donuts?
Woman: (sheepishly) Yeah. I want to go get donuts.

The Dog Loves Valentine's Day (02/14/2104)

As many of you know I, the dog, from time to time ask the Merry Spinster to let me post to her blog. I don’t have the time for my own blog. I lost a tennis ball under the sofa last week and I must continue trying to make myself flat so I can get under there. I envy cats and their rubbery joints.

 Today is Valentine’s Day. My favorite day of the year. There will be pizza and snuggle time on the couch. And sometimes we watch The Way We Were and the Notebook. The Spinster doesn’t know why these are the only two movies I watch intently. Maybe like a lot of people I like Ryan Gosling. And The Way We Were is awesome. The spinster cries at the end and I lick her tears. Then we do a goofy made up ballet to the theme song. Oh Babs! Although the best part of Valentine’s Day is obviously the pizza. My lady doesn’t really eat dairy anymore so she can only order pizza from a few places and they’re all very expensive. It is treat to have pizza at our house.

Along with it being Valentine’s Day, it is also our anniversary. The Spinster had just gotten dumped and she was bummed out, and I had broken legs and was a terrible mess because my previous family was abusive. And we just hit it off. I wasn’t leery of her. I mean who could be? Anyone stupid enough to take on a dog who’d been kicked out of as many families as I had…well she’d have to have a decent heart. It’s been eleven pretty good years.

I am a dog with many passions. In addition to the tennis ball business, I am trying to establish defined territorial lines with Eli who is a very disrespectful cat that lives next door. And I am lobbying for better treats. Every Tuesday  my ears get cleaned. And afterward I get a treat. Lately the Merry Spinster has been giving me these wholly unacceptable crunchy veggie treats that clean my teeth and are supposed to have something to help my joints not ache. I know she is trying to help. But they are a far cry from a Beggin Strip in the Cheez and Bacon flavor. Just because I’m old, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the finer things in life.

My new arthritis medication works, so I have been able to go back to jumping around like my paws are on fire. I get up and down from the couch like a dog half my age. This aggravates the Spinster and she snaps, “Up or down asshole! You’re going to spill my popcorn.” One, I don’t appreciate that kind of language. And Two, how is the thought of delicious popcorn easily accessible on the floor a bad thing? I can always use more food. I’m a little thin lately. The spinster said she’ll start cooking for me again. She just hates chopping up liver and cooking it with rice and vegetables. Once she tried to just give me the liver to eat raw. I am a domesticated dog, born of domesticated dogs. I didn’t have the first flipping clue what to do with raw meat. I just bit into it and carried it around the house. And then went outside with my blood stained face and frightened a small child who ran away after I placed the liver at her feet. She was crying pretty hard but I think she said, “VAMPIRE DOG!!!!!!” So my lady will just have to cook if she wants to put some meat on me.

On this Valentine’s Day I hope to you have a special friend who feeds you, and dances with you, and lets you be fussy and frustrating. And if you’re a fellow dog I hope you’re eating Beggin Strips. And maybe you’ll come over for a playdate and bring me some.

Waiting for Pizza,
Oliver the Dog

Damn You Rocky IV Soundtrack! (02/17/2014)

I love to run. I am not a fast runner. And I don’t run particularly far or well. But I love to run. For the first mile I feel like a gazelle prancing across the Serengeti. With the occasional brief walk break, mind you. But after that when my body opens the following dialog I need motivation:

Body: He D! Hey! I don’t want to be a bitch or anything but you do know you’re fat. And you have arthritis and it’s raining? Like you know that? Right?
The Merry Spinster: Yeah. Got it. I just love to run. Don’t care.
Body: Okay. Fine. But just to be clear I will not participate much longer. Prepare for your legs to turn to lead. Your lungs to become smaller. And sweating more profuse than a hooker in church.
The Merry Spinster: Whatever! I’m just going to drown you out with an epic playlist

I run while listening to audio books, NPR, or sometimes just the kooky thoughts that run through my mind. But I love running to music. And my favorite music to run to is the soundtrack to Rocky IV. A fat girl with bad joints has something in common with Rocky Balboa. No one thinks she can do it. But she still needs to prove she can do it. If you’ve never seen Rocky IV, and if you haven’t I am concerned about your quality of life. I mean the movie ended the cold war…The plot is pretty simple. Rocky Balboa is the heavyweight champion of the world on the verge of retirement. A Russian superman named Ivan Drago comes to America to try his hand at our fighters. Apollo Creed Rocky’s one time rival and current best-friend decides to fight the Russian because he misses feeling like a champ and being admired. He wants to be a warrior again. In a brutal 1.5 round fight Apollo Creed is accidentally killed. And Rocky decides to fight Drago not out of revenge but to deal with his own feelings of helplessness and grief. And when Rocky’s wife Adrian learns of it and tells him he can’t win he says he doesn't need to.

Rocky: No maybe I can’t win. Maybe the only thing I can do is just take everything he’s got. But to beat me he’s going to have to kill me, and to kill me he’s gotta have the guts to stand in front of me, and to do that he’s gotta be willing to die himself. I don’t know if he’s ready to do that. I don’t know.”

I know that hunger. I am never going to be a professional runner. Heck,  the only chance I have to be an elite amateur  is to keep running until I’m in my 80’s and be one of the fastest people in my age group. But the only way life is going to beat me is to meet me in the ring. Toe to toe. If I show up, I win because I wasn't scared. I gave it my all. Eating cupcakes and saying “I can’t” and making excuses is Ivan Drago. A wall of an obstacle I can only beat by standing there and hitting back.

This brings back to the soundtrack. I was listening to it on my run and lost track of how long and far I’d been running. I remember feeling like it was time to quit and then the song Burning Heart said, “In the warrior’s code there’s no surrender/ Though his body says stop/His spirit cries NEVER” So I got pumped and went a bit farther. And now the next day my legs still feel like taffy. That soundtrack is very motivating e.g. Hearts on Fire, Eye of the Tiger, No Easy Way Out, etc.

Gosh! I love the movie and the soundtrack. One of my goals is to run the Rocky 50k in Philadelphia someday. But after learning the training sequences in Rocky IV were shot in Jackson Hole, WY now I want to recreate his running in the snow and then training in a barn. You know…Once my taffy legs feel better, which in a perfect world would be tonight.

Loving you with my Warrior’s Heart,
The Merry Spinster

Why I Instagrammed My Butt (06/18/2014)

I pride myself on being a lot of things, but decorative isn't one of them. If you like looking at me you have a very specific fetish or aesthetic sensibility. And if you think I'm pretty, you should tell my mom, not me.  It is all good genes. I have put absolutely no effort into it. No make-up, minimal grooming, and my style of dress can best be described as "comfortable."

So why would a woman who just doesn't give a fuck not only take a picture of her butt, but put it on Instagram? Because I was inspired by singer-songwriter Megan Tonjes and her small grassroots movement designed to get Instagram to have an appeals process for photos removed because they're "offensive." She posted a photo of her ample but quite delicious ass and the picture was taken down, while photos of model thin woman inundate us all. They apologized and her picture went back up. And other butts were posted in solidarity trending as #bootyrevolution.

Lately I have shared Megan Tonjes body love. I am fat, wrinkling, and getting saggy. I have mysterious blotches. And a few months ago I developed a strange physical condition in which my butt whistled instead of farting. I of course googled "butt whistling" and couldn't find any medical articles where it was a symptom. I lost a few nights of sleep worrying that I was patient zero in the potentially fatal disease Martin's Rectal Cacophony.  So in other word's I ain't cute. As India.arie would say, "I'm not the average girl from your video/And I ain't built like a supermodel/But I learned to love myself unconditionally/Because I am a queen." I am black. I am over 35. I am overweight. I am the three ugliest things a woman can be. And I don't give a fuck.

I love my face like a homemade pie. (If you're not familiar with that expression it means that my face is more sweet and filled with love than pretty.) My mouth turns down at the corners if I don't smile. People are always trying to cheer me up, whether I need it or not. I get a lot of presents and hugs.

I love my hands because they're the same hands as my mother. And I can paint my nails or apply lotion and be back in her kitchen baking cookies and playing silly games and singing songs with the wrong lyrics.

I am covered in the most delicious chocolate brown skin you ever saw. If I thought there was caramel instead of muscle and bone under this skin I would wrap myself in gold foil and call myself Candy.

This is my body and I plan to use it to hike the Appalachian Trail and lay topless on beaches. I might use it to make babies. I'd like to run marathons, but also eat cookies in my pajamas. I want it to play the banjo with real proficiency and wake up easier in the morning. My hands will someday make an edible crepe and my booty will dance so much I'll have to ice it down. I plan to watch my body shrivel and shrink in some directions and grow rounder in others. Because it is mine. It is where I store the brain that is writing a biography of Shirley Chisholm and the heart that gets broken too often and too easily.  God gave it to me so I could grow and learn and love. ITS MINE! And if you don't like it...Quit looking at it.

So I posted my non-traditionally attractive ass clothed in Captain America panties on Instagram. Because it's my booty. And it has a right to exist. I don't need to look different to be seen.

Feeling Alright.
The Merry Spinster

Book review...A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred by George Will (06/29/2014)

Let's just get this out of the way...I loved this book. I read it twice. Back to back. The author? Him? I kind of hate. He is on my fantasy dinner party guest list just so at some point during the meal I can declare, "George, you ignorant jackass, pass me the merlot."  That's providing he is talking about something other than baseball. He is third on my list of people I would like to talk with baseball with, the first being my father and the second Buck O'Neil.  Sadly, the first two are dead. But I still have a chance with George and his sassy bowties.

I learned a bit of baseball trivia and more than a little Chicago history from this book. But what made its way into my dinner party conversation is that the Cubs are loveable losers because we let them be. No one really expects anything from them. Fans do not demand excellence from them.

Mr. Wrigley was a marketing genius who liked baseball, and enjoyed winning, but the game was secondary. He sold the Cubs to fans not so much as a team designed to win championships, but as an enjoyable hobby. "Come out and see the game. Get a little sun. Eat a hotdog. Drink a beer. And if the team should win all the better. But even if they don't you had a lot of fun." 

The Cubs haven't won a championship in 106 years. And it is looking like starting next year it will be 107 years. The Cubs have their curses and legends. And George Will covers many of them. The Curse of the Goat being a personal favorite. But what he does especially well is explain how he and millions of other people worldwide are Cubs fans. The stadium. There is nothing quite like Wrigley Field. They were the last to put in lights for night games, because it is best seen during the day. It is beautiful. They still have an old-fashioned scoreboard that some unfortunate, while also honored and trusted man gets to manually change.

After reading this book I feel I can argue that Cubs fans are the most faithful fans. The Yankees have had slumps but they have also had hot streaks during which pennants were won and championship trophies have been hoisted. Red Sox fans had their hearts broken repeatedly. (Buckner. cough. curse of the Bambino. cough) Though it must not be ignored that you have to be on the precipice of success to know failure. Cubs fans rarely get that feeling.

I have read all of George Will's books on baseball. And I liked his contributions to Ken Burn's epic PBS documentary BASEBALL. How I wish he would never write or talk about anything else...

No Disney Princess Am I (06/30/2014)

Some gal pals and I are considering running the Disney Princess Half-Marathon in February. I like to run and I've never been to Disney World...A little history for you. When I was growing up I dreamt of going to Disneyland or Disney World but my parents never took me. So I became determined to win a trip to one of them. I entered essay contests, sold crystal unicorns from a catalog, entered a beauty contest, a spelling bee, a science fair, and one time hatched a plan to hitchhike and use my allowance to get me through the gate. But I never won a trip and I never ran away from home. And as fate and cosmic misfortune continued to strike, I have never been.

I will not pretend to not be aware of the fact that I'm an adult with a job, therefore I can buy plane tickets and tickets to the parks and go whenever I darn well please. But once I get an idea stuck in my head, it is virtually impossible for me to shake it loose. And in my mind trips to Disney must be earned.

Which brings me back to the half-marathon. Arguably if I train for seven months and then run 13.1 miles I have earned the trip. Problem solved. Dream no longer deferred.

The hiccup...I feel like to continue earning this trip means I must fully participate. And to really participate a woman should dress the part of a Disney Princess. But I'm not really the Disney Princess-type. Their goals are almost exclusively marriage. I want to get married, but it is not what I put much energy into it.

Cinderella...I think she was a simp who should've ran away from her Step -family and gotten a job for pay. If you're going to scrub floors, do it for money.

Snow White...Ugh! Tell someone what is going on. If you tell the rest of the kingdom that the Evil Queen is trying to kill you, they will help you.

Ariel...You're SIXTEEN! Don't make permanent life decisions at sixteen. You may want legs and to live where the people are now. But maybe you won't later.  And why are you marrying someone you've never had a conversation with. Yeah...He's cute. But damn...date a little first. Let him hear some of your opinions.  See if you have something in common.

I could go on...And I often do. Disney Princess + Me= Over-thinking and criticism (albeit while I'm singing some songs and wishing birds and mice would dress me in the morning).

My buddy Reveille suggested I try being Mulan in her warrior Ping personal. And my best-friend Audrey suggested Princess Leia. Than god, she's a Disney Princess now. I have some time to noodle on it. And there is always the very controversial option of giving myself a break.

All suggestions would be appreciated, and considered.

No kind of princess,
The Merry Spinster

I Will NOT be Footloosed (07/05/2014)

Old men like to say, "Golf and sex are the only two things you don't have to be good at to enjoy." I would like to add dancing to that list. I am a horrible dancer, but I love it. I am a gleeful, exuberant, passionate dancer...who is a cause of shame for anyone who ever tried to teach me to dance well. Trying to teach me to dance is as impossible as teaching a house cat not to look smug.
Because I am such a lousy dancer, devoid of rhythm and coordination, conventional wisdom would lean towards me never dancing in public. As you know I zig when most the world zags. I dance all the time. Everywhere. And I am publicly shamed for same. But I argue that if the good Lord didn't want me to dance while waiting for the train he wouldn't have created Prince and  Beyonce and portable music devices. And if the produce section of the grocery store wasn't da club I would have a different best friend and my hips wouldn't crave rolls and shimmy.
So when some wanker honked and laughed at me a few minutes ago I gave him the finger and then angrily danced in his direction.  He sped away in fear. Which proves I owe the choreographers of West Side Story an apology. It is possible to fight /dance. You can intimidate someone. I must now try to engage my boss in a dance battle.
5,6,5,6,7,8 DANCE,
The Merry Spinster

Arrogant Judgement Kills Snails (07/12/2014)

Today, like most days began with me wearing some random combination of pajamas and daywear, following my dog around the backyard with a scoop and a plastic bag. It is a price I pay for love, and I try not to resent it. He pooped. And I scooped. Only I accidentally scooped a snail into the bag. I swear, I didn't see him until I was tying the bag closed. But... I didn't scoop him out. I just tossed him away with the poop. Me. An animal lover!!!! A vegetarian. I decided for this snail that he'd rather die quickly in a bag of dog feces than go on living in shame and confusion. Who the fuck am I to make that decision for him? I don't know his life. I don't know his journey. I don't know what kind of dreams snails have, but he may have had some? And because of my homo sapien arrogance he is now dead. 

I'm trying to let this go, but it bugs me. I constantly complain about the arrogant judgement that comes my way all day, everyday. But at least no one has ever killed me by tossing me in a bag of dog crap...yet.

I have a serious problem with anthropomorphizing my less biologically complicated fellow Earth dwellers. So this is how I imagine Dwayne's (no one and nothing should die nameless) last day on Earth:

Dwayne: (contented singing to himself) I'm a snail. And it's dewy out. I like the dew. la la lala la dew is really great. Gonna eat some stuff. do bop doo bop 

(minute or two later)

Dwayne: I like this grass. This is nice. You know. I sure am glad I'm a snail. I never hurry and miss the sweet things in life. I'm just sliding along. Yeah man. Doesn't get any better than this. (Notices me and Oliver) Aww man...Human and canine. They don't see me. I'm not worried. Plus. Shit. I couldn't run away if I wanted to. But I am going to try to move a little farther away from that turd. Bleech! Mammals are so gross. 

(Dwayne after a moment of confusion finds himself in a plastic grocery bag with two short logs of dog crap)

Dwayne: This can't be good. Oh fuck! How do I get out of this?!?!?!?! I'M UPSIDE DOWN!!!!!  And something is on my tentacles. OH NO!!!!! It is dog SHIT! HELP ME!  SOMEBODY! ANYBODY! HELP!!!!!!  Oh wait. The human lady sees me. She's gonna help a brother out. She looks like the type to bring hummus to a BBQ. She would never let an animal die just because he was a mere terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk. She gives a fuck. She escorts spiders out of the house instead of smushing them. She is going to scoop me out and put me back in the grass. And I'll be dinning out on this story for months.

(The Merry Spinster does see Dwayne. But she doesn't know how to help him. Should she dump the bag out and let him slink away? Should she go inside and grab a latex glove? She notices he isn't really moving. Admittedly, snails don't move all that much anyway. It is why the word snail is so often used as a pejorative. But he looks dead. Maybe he was dead when he got scoooped up. She closes the bag and throws it away.)

Dwayne: She closed the bag. I am lost. The end will come for me shortly. Did I love enough? Was I loved? Did I allow myself to feel joy and sorrow in equal measure? I hope so...

Like I have previously stated, I'm a bit nuts.

Sorry Dwayne, The Merry Spinster

Kill Your Dreams: Or How I Learned It's Okay I'm Not Special (08/01/2014)

The other day I was looking at pictures on Ew.com of ComicCon. And I saw that an acquaintance, Charles Halford is starring in an NBC show debuting this fall. He has talent, ambition, and has been willing to scrap and struggle  and things are going pretty good for him. I am certain most people would've told him to give up. He’s freakishly tall and doesn't necessarily have leading man looks. Plus acting is one of those career paths were people have to let you do it. I mean you can do it for free in your living room in front of your family but I’m not sure I call those people actors. I call them desperate for attention and love, and that is another blog. So there is no small measure of luck involved in Charlie’s success. But how did he know not to give up? How do you know you’re a late bloomer and not a loser who needs to learn when the dead lie down? After some navel gazing and self-reflection this post will give you my humorous take on how I decided. But this is going to get a little grim…

My brother and sometimes talk about when it is time to give up or postpone a dream.  He has wanted to be a filmmaker since he was a teenager. He is now 40. And he works on films. He has made films. But he has been working on his magnum opus for five years and the project starts and stalls and breaks his heart. Where does that faith that it will eventually become as great as he knows it can be come from?  How does he know he’s more delayed misunderstood genius than deluded madman? Ninety percent of the time we’re pretty sure it’s the former not the latter. But where do people like him get that reservoir of determination?

A friend of mine has a Masters in Biology but hasn't ever been able to find a job in the field. I studied English literature and I work in investments. I have friend who has a PhD in Art History who drives a bus. I have another friend with a degree in Latin that drives a cab. My dear friend Tim has a degree in History and works as a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, and before that was an advocate for the disabled. What I’m getting at is…Very few people are the person they thought they’d be. And some careers aren't meant to be. How do you decide to keep plugging away?

I wanted to be a writer the way some little girls wanted to be ballerinas or some little boys wanted to be NFL quarterbacks. All three of these careers, as many a skinny girl with bad feet and limited job skills, TimTebow, and myself learned requires someone willing to pay you to do it. Someone saying “Of all the people who want to do this you’re the one I want to pay. Welcome to the American Ballet Theater/ Tim, You’re starting for the Broncos Sunday/New York Times best-seller list here we come.” But nearly all of us end up  teaching dance at a small school in Solon, IA. Or in the case of Tim Tebow being a commentator describing the accomplishments of guys who can do something he's just not quite good enough at. Or if you’re the Merry Spinster, you do a little ghostwriting here and there, and a  little SEO writing to help me afford the luxuries. I gave up on my dream of being a novelist a year ago. I am still writing my biography of Shirley Chisholm, but that is only because I am contractually obligated to finish it despite being told it will never be published. But after agent after agent told me that although my books were good, they’re weren't commercially viable, I decided I was done. The juice stopped being worth the squeeze. And I don’t feel like the literary world or the reading public is really missing out on much. I was amusing, clever, and interesting. But I wasn't ever going to write anything life changing, or so good high school students would be forced to read it. But sometimes I wonder…Was it not meant to be…Or did I give up because I’m happier just being a cog in a machine? Maybe I just wasn't tough enough to keep getting kicked in the teeth. So as promised a more lighthearted take on how to know it’s time to give up and do something else:

·         Would it be easier if you had super powers?
·         Does your dream require you to be exceptionally good-looking, have a rare but impossible to quantify talent, and luck? But you have never consistently demonstrated at least TWO of these things.
·         Does your dream involve a dying industry like conventional media or blacksmithery?
·         Are the people living your dream noticeably smarter or taller than you?
·         Do you care about money? (Dreaming doesn't come with dental or food?)
·         Are you sub-par musician attempting to play anything other than punk?
·         Are you a young actress with integrity and a healthy sense of self?
·         If a magical but very twisted genie promised you your heart’s desire but you would have to give Hitler a blow job…in front of your grandma…would you say “no?”
·         Does every single person in your life think you should give up, including the people who lie to you when you get a bad haircut or sing karaoke?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “Yes” then I suggest you join me and billions of other people in quiet and unremarkable mediocrity. It’s not too bad. The people who raised you did it. The people eating donuts and having sex every Wednesday at 9pm are us. Yes. You heard me correctly. Give up your dreams. We have donuts and carefully scheduled intercourse. But if you are tough and determined, I leave you with this thought, “Dreams come true, not free.” Don’t judge me. That is dialogue from Dawson’s Creek. Dialogue a person who is not me was paid to write.

Just another brick in the wall,
The Merry Spinster

Hikers Are Batshit Crazy (08/15/2014)

If you want to live in Utah you have to fulfill one of three requirements:
1)      Be Mormon
2)      Think skiing or snowboarding  i.e. sliding down a mountain at high-speeds on one or more pieces of fiberglass is awesome versus a ridiculous thing to do
3)      Hike

I decided to take up hiking. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I like being outside. I like walking. Hiking is just walking uphill outside. How could I go wrong? Well…Mostly by not understanding the language of hikers. Every time someone  describes something as a quick easy hike I end up on something akin to the Bataan Death March. I start out all dewy and excited with my water bottle and my comfy hiking shoes. A few hours later I am drenched in sweat and dust, gasping for oxygen and water, walking on two blistering stumps. 

My most frequent hiking partner Carlene blames me for not researching the hikes well enough. But I do. I will visit at least three websites and books before we head out. And they will all rate the hike as “easy” and fun and essentially state that small children and the elderly can do cartwheels most of the way. So I have to assume that a “moderate” hike involves a Sherpa, oxygen tanks, an ice ax, and the threat of gun violence. And a “difficult” hike has never been survived by anyone in Utah because it is very hard to find a hike rated as such. Lesson learned. Expectations adjusted.

My most recent adventure in hiking was the Fifth Water Trail to the hot springs. It is listed as a 5 mile hike, but my body claims it was 50 miles. And there is supposed to only be 580 ft of elevation change, yet I spent a most of the trail climbing one incline or another. I had a great time but I also lost a bit of my soul on that trail each time someone not sweating or breathing heavily passed me and Carlene, or tried to encourage us to keep going by saying we were “almost there.” Each cheerful and athletic person we met on the trail became the face of God laughing at me for my hubris. I will concede that Carlene and I are both plump and I’m only now getting into a shape that could be described as anything other than “bad.” But Mother*cker!  I refused to give up and turn around. All I could think about was the words of my buddy and hiking guru Tim “It’s not a race. Take your time. Take breaks. Enjoy the view. The journey is the point.” So we kept going. And when we got there it was totally worth it.

Fifth Water is a natural hot spring with lower and upper pools. And should you decide to go be prepared to see some skin. It is a popular place for skinny dippers. When we arrived I was initially grateful that everyone was dressed until I noticed some of the people already soaking were “nekkid.” (The difference between “naked” and “nekkid?” Naked = Not wearing clothes. Nekkid= Not wearing clothes and maybe up to something.) But to each their own. I stripped off my jeans and my shirt and found a spot to soak where the water was hot enough to feel good, but not so boiling hot as to make me review the burn unit provisions of my health insurance. Carlene declined to come in the water and just soaked her feet in the cool water from the waterfall that feeds into the hot springs. In a moment that can only occur between Carlene and myself I looked up to see her 20 feet away gnawing on a loaf of bread and looking forlornly at me and the other soakers. When I asked her later “What up with that?" she simply stated, “I needed carbs.” I can’t see the flaw in her logic. Bread has carbs. And if you carry something miles up a mountain you deserve to eat it with enthusiasm and an uncomplicated joy.

I will admit the hike back wasn’t nearly as tough. But I did it a bit slower because the downhill is harder on your legs. Carlene walked at a pretty good clip, but she also said her legs were sore the next day, and mine felt fine. It began to rain when we were about a mile from the car and it cooled us off deliciously.

It was an amazing hike. I loved it. It was beautiful and inspiring. But take it from this chubby middle-aged woman…IT ISN’T EASY! YOU WILL GET SWEATY! YOU WILL GET TIRED! If you don’t, then I don’t know what we have in common. Are you sporty? Are you an Olympian? Why do I like you so much?

Enjoy the View,

The Merry Spinster



Every Year is the Year of the Dog (1/14/2013)

Dear Humans,

It has been a while since I, Oliver the dog have had a chance to address you. A lot has happened. I ruptured both of my eardrums and had an aneurysm last summer. Consequently I have trouble with my short-term memory and can’t hear high frequency sounds. I always thought the Merry Spinster had a husky voice like Kathleen Turner or Demi Moore. But I was wrong. It is apparently something akin to a Disney princess because I can’t hear a bloody word she says. Okay sometimes I just pretend I can’t so I can sit in the middle of the kitchen floor while she mops. Or lay in bed an extra few minutes when she wants me to go out to pee. But of course I only do that last one when she’s late for work.



2012 was a trying year for many reasons. My lady dated a man who smelled like maple-cured sausage but never had any sausage on him. Trust me I looked.  But always the smell ofdelicious breakfast meats, but his pockets contained nothing but breath mints, vegan condoms, dollar coins, and post-it notes on which he’d written his self-important hipster liberal intellectual thoughts. I of course ate the breath mints and developed the mud butt. I then proceeded to wipe the diarrhea off my furry behind on his sweater. He took this to mean I didn't like him. Which makes no sense to me. Sometimes I just wipe my butt on things. Is that not a human habit? I guess after nine years I’m still learning.  I know I sound like a broken record but why didn't he have sausage in his pockets? He sure as hell wasn't using the condoms. I slept between them whenever he stayed over, often with my head on his crotch. I’m an old-fashioned dog. If you want to mount the lady I live with bring snacks. What a douche! I don’t miss his weird smelling socks and minty crotch on the couch.

I learned some valuable skills in 2012. My lady sometimes loops a tea towel through the handle of the refrigerator. Well if I pull on it very hard I can open the door and help myself to anything with a loose lid. Oh the wonders I've had. Mushroom nut loaf (yep to my dissatisfaction the Spinster is a vegetarian) and carrots. I had some chili and half a watermelon. It was a feast. And then I got yelled at. And then I redecorated the living room in sick. But that hasn't stopped me from doing it again. The lids on the food have been tight but sometimes I get a little fruit. She hasn't looped a towel through the handle in about a week, but I’m on the lookout.


I've also learned how to get the Merry Spinster to play with me in the snow. You see I find a three foot high snow drift and I bury myself in it and don’t come out for over a minute. I’m less than two feet tall and once she becomes convinced I’m about to freeze to death or smother she runs over and digs me out. And I wag my tail and run around in circles kicking snow at her. She doesn't laugh but I know she’s having fun.


I know that 2013 is supposed to be the year of the snake. But in my world every year is the year of the dog. I have made my resolutions: I will get my barking under control. Not every person who walks by our apartment is dangerous. Some are little old ladies and I am in danger of giving them heart attacks. AlsoI will beg for food less. I must accept that I’m a dog and a bowl of kibble is good enough. I don’t need what the humans are eating. I will find a private spot to lick my butt when there is company. I will not climb into their lap and do it there. I will not abuse the privilege of sleeping in bed with The Merry Spinster by farting in her face. I will at the very least sleep with my bottom pointing away from her. And I will remind myself that I don’t have to smell everything outside. Much of the courtyard behind out apartment smells the same.

Happy Sausage Hunting,

Oliver the Dog.

Who the Fuck is Vicki?!?!? (01/15/2013)

Let's take a moment to pretend I'm not delightfully insane. But I am making progress towards a normal life. Yesterday I happened to learn that a guy I'm nuts about has a new lady love. And it plunged me into despair. But only for a day. Whereas five years ago in the early days of Facebook I learned a college boyfriend had gotten married and loudly exclaimed as I gazed at his bride, "WHO THE FUCK IS VICKI?" And then proceeded to spend a week learning everything there was to know about Vicki. It started innocently enough. Their wedding picture heavily featured windmills and tulips. He was Italian and Irish so I was curious if she had Danish heritage. A few faux casual emails and phone calls later I was looking at a scanned copy of her high school yearbook. Six degrees of separation style I'd gone to elementary school with her sister. And through happenstance and accidental cyber stalking I eventually learned the subject of her honors thesis, how many badges she earned as a Girl Scout, where she worked, and what she did for Spring Break 1999. If I attempted to give you a dramatic interpretation of my state of mind as the snowball of crazy kept rushing down the mountain it would look similar to the moment in St. Elmo's Fire when Kirby played by Emilo Estevez crashes the fancy doctor party that Andie McDowell is attending.


: Kirby! How are you?



Kirby: I'm obsessed thank you very much.

Shortly after "Who the fuck is Vicki?" became a bit of shorthand among my friends for going off the deep end about something minor, I got over it. I actually hadn't thought about that young man or Vicki until yesterday. And I remembered that sometimes we are are just characters in someone else's love story. And although I don't particularly love being continually cast in the role of "Girl he dated before he met his wife" we all have our roles to play. And I need to save my obsession for Downton Abbey, my dog, knitting, and overly complicated sexual fantasies starring Ryan Gosling.

Another sign of my continued growth as a person is my slowly evolving social skills. I remember the first time someone came out to me as gay. I was 15 and after many long sighs and awkward silences my friend told me he was gay. And I replied, "Well that sounds like fun." In my defense other than the bullying and potential rejection of family and friends, being gay looks like tons of fun. There aren't any parades for who I love. There isn't a Straight Pride Flag. Most of the most iconic female musicians are lesbians. And gay clubs have better dance music. Being straight has doomed me to 20 years of fully expecting Bon Jovi music to emerge at any moment. But my dear friend thought I was being weird and rolled his eyes and went back to listening to Nirvana and rolling a joint.

This morning a long time friend told me he'd finally accepted he was gay and I said, "Really? That's awesome. Can we get cake?" At first he thought I was being sarcastic but then knowing me like he does he realized that I'm always looking for a reason to eat cake. All good news is met with cake. He could have said he had concluded that Lady Gaga's next move should be an acoustic album of sensitive songs similar to early Lilith Fair offerings, and I would've said, "Yeah. Should we get cake?" So I maintain that I am getting better. I fully accept that my social development is a bit delayed. Not too long ago a new acquaintance asked me to tell him something interesting about myself and I explained how my period has a weird quirk. I have three days of bleeding and then it completely stops for a day and then comes back for two. "I call it the Eye of the Crimson Storm." He didn't get it. But I'm getting better. A year ago I might have showed him the app on my phone where I chart it.

Anyway...Somewhere in the world there is a person named Vicki who may still be married to the guy I dated for six months in 1999. And I know absolutely nothing of her life after 2007. And the more recent object of my desire and longing is welcome to be as happy as he would like and I shall be content with the pictures on his facebook and not investigate further. And I think we can agree people should never try to have sincere discussions with me because I will try to exploit the situation for cake.

Be well my beloved flesh puppets,

Penguins are NOT Food (01/16/2013)

A glimpse into my day...
The Merry Spinster: Oh that looks like a lobster claw. Did you know that lobsters had a dominant claw? Whichever is their largest claw is the dominant one. And most lobsters are left-handed.
Coworker: Hmm...I don't like the taste of lobster.
The Merry Spinster: Umm...I wasn't talking about the taste. What is with you people? Every time I mention an animal your first thought is whether you can eat it or not. If I'd said guinea pig would you have said, "Hmm...I don't think I've ever eaten guinea pig?" What if I'd mentioned that the 20th is Penguin Awareness Day at the Aquarium? Would you have hypothesized about the taste of penguin?  Not everything is food. Sometimes an animal is just another animal. You don't have to eat everything!

 I freely admit that as a vegetarian I don't always have the most positive attitude towards eating animals. But come on people. Meet me half-way.

And it really degenerated from there. The next thing I knew I'd googled "penguin meat." Suddenly I had to know if somewhere people do eat them. And it turns out that eating penguins is banned worldwide. But Arctic explorers in the late 19th century ate them when they were really hungry and reported they taste like, "If it's possible to imagine a piece of beef, odiferous cod fish and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce." So not only is it illegal to eat penguin, it doesn't taste good.

I feel the unappetizing taste of penguin illustrates the point that not everything is food. People shouldn't wander around like dogs or babies and just put everything in their mouths. 

Happy (non-penguin) eating,
The Merry Spinster

Lacto-Fermentation and the Single Girl (04/04/2013)

I haven't posted in a while because I have not felt worthy of being your fearless leader. I have been a moody soppy baby lately. For weeks I have checked my Facebook feed and seen it full of new babies, engagements,  and blissful marriages. And I have been jealous and mopey. But that is at an end. Let us never forget what they used to say about spinsters in the Bard's time...we have been condemned to lead apes into hell. We are not cursed! We are powerful and to be feared.

So what I have been up to while I have not been blogging? I've been making pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, water kefir and yogurt. There may have been some kimchi and chutneys in there somewhere. To be honest a lot of the last month has been a blur.

I am currently growing multiple types of bacteria in my kitchen, on purpose. I mean, let's be honest, there has always been a fair amount of bacteria growing in my kitchen. But this time it is good and beneficial bacteria designed to improve my digestion and overall health.

It started the way many addictions do, innocently enough, with someone offering me some homemade pickles. Just a taste. Just to see if I liked it. And I did. So after sampling my friends' stashes I bought some vegetables, submerged them in brine, and a few days later I had my own pickles.

But after a while pickles weren't enough anymore. And I found myself with more cabbage than one woman can eat before it goes bad. So a girlfriend told me about sauerkraut. She does it sometimes. Mostly just at night after her kids have gone to bed, when she and her man are alone. It was easy. It was fun. Not to talk about my pooping...but I felt good. Regular. It was kind of mind expanding.

I should have stopped there, but once you fall in with a certain kind of crowd you end up down the rabbit hole. And this Alice was in a probiotic Wonderland. The same gal who turned me onto making my own sauerkraut hooked me up with some "grains" for making water kefir and some cultures for yogurt. I never thought I'd I try yogurt. I'm vegan for Chrissakes! But it turned out she knew where I could get some primo cultures that would work with nut milks as long as I cut my supply with tapioca starch.

So here I sit. Red-eyed and anxious looking for my next chance to fill jars with chutneys and relishes. I'm in deep, man. A girl in my office just hooked me up with 20 Mason jars. And all I can think about is filling my cabinets. Oh lacto-fermentation...You are a playful and manipulative monkey on my back.

Looking for a pickling rehab,

The Merry Spinster

Oh Great Now I'm the Bitch (05/28/2013)

I've always said if I ever write a memoir or an autobiography the title would be, "Oh Great! Now I'm the Bitch." If I was on a television show it would be my catchphrase and when I die I would like it printed on my gravestone. Allow me to explain why...

Actual life event: A college friend slept with my boyfriend. And in a fit of rage I called her an inbred cow. Instead of fighting back she began to cry and my boyfriend and all our friends rushed to her side to comfort her. It turned out that she actually was the product of incest. Her grandfather had raped her mother. I obviously didn't know this, but even though she screwed my boyfriend, "Oh Great! Now I'm the bitch."

Second illustrative example: A few weeks ago I was riding the train to work and I noticed the young man sitting next to me was trying to steal my wallet out of my bag. I instinctively slapped his hand and said, "No" the way one would with a small child. Moments later I was being accused of gay bashing a homosexual youth. He was trying to rob me, but because he happened to be gay, "Oh Great! Now I'm the bitch."

One more for those who don't believe me: I briefly dated a man with one leg who was kind of a dick. I broke up with him because he called me a cunt...on my birthday...while I was in the process of buying him dinner. But seconds after I said I was done with him he turned to walk away and his prosthetic leg broke and he fell onto the ground mildly injured. No one saw the name calling, the stealing money from my purse, or the weird sexual requests. All they saw was an mean woman breaking up with a cripple. My first thought, "Oh Great! Now I'm the bitch."

I swear I am a very nice person. But sadly I tend to find new and more imaginative ways to look like a total jerk. Such is the cross I must bear.

The Last Bridesmaid (07/02/2013)

SIXTEEN! That is how many times I have been a bridesmaid. I had planned to stick at fifteen. But the one woman in the whole world I couldn't turn down i.e. my friend of my more than 20 years and the woman who I wouldn't have survived my adolescence without, asked me to be her maid of honor. And it was most certainly an honor. I adore Maggie and if she’d asked me to engage in ritualistic animal slaughter or group sex with syphilitic  midgets I would've gleefully participated.

I had intended to blog the entire wedding. But it took me a while to get perspective. The broad strokes:
*   Moths ate probably about 60% of my dress. I eventually cut the dress up and reassembled it into something I could wear. What was meant to be a simple and elegant summer dress, ended up being a tie-dyed hoochie mama dress. (Did I mention the bridal party wore tie-dye?)
*   To save money I shared a hotel room with the mother of the bride. She spent five days playing confusing mind games with me. She was passive-aggressive and commented on everything I did and said as if she was writing a academic paper on what an idiot I am. On the final night of the trip after I'd spent a happy day with my dear friend and her new in-laws she finally managed to get me to sob and stop believing that things will always work out fine. I'm still recovering from the seeds of cynicism and despair she planted in my brain. A wedding is a marathon, not a sprint so I had only had about 3 hours of sleep every night. And she spent FIVE hours talking non-stop trying to convince me Maggie had made a horrible decision in getting married and was ruining her life, and her new husband was going to be a lead weight around her neck. She'd been dropping weird slightly hostile hints that this was her opinion the whole week, but when I'm certain of something it is difficult to shake me. No matter what she said my response was something akin to, "Maggie's version of happy doesn't have to be the same as your's. I've never seen her happier. And it is hard to find someone to love, who really loves you. So why don't we get on the love train, and hope you're wrong." But she broke me. She broke me so effectively that I curled up in bed crying and whined, "I miss my Mommy." Do you know why I missed her? Say what you will about my mother, but if you're happy, SHE FUCKING HAPPY FOR YOU! My mother always turns her face to the light. She always looks for the positive and prays for the best. She taught me how to love and be loved.
*   I had hatched a plan to seduce a groomsman, but they were all coupled. All that hard work and I didn't end up with a hard fat one in me. I was gypped.
*   A dozen people told me they loved the speech I gave. Unfortunately, I was so petrified and drunk that I don't remember what I said. I guess I'm charming and deep when I'm in the middle of a stress blackout.
*   I danced in public. I never do that. The bar is set high for black people. A black person without rhythm is as pitiable sight as a three-legged dog. Obviously we can still run and play and live a happy life, but it's a little sad to see.
* A whole hog was roasted for the reception. This wasn't just disturbing to me a vegetarian, but many meat eaters. Therefore getting a piece of the vegan lasagna was like something out of Mad Max:Beyond Thunderdome. The demand for some food that wasn't still smiling was high.
*  The Patapsco Valley State Park is pretty. Heck all of Maryland is pretty. I miss trees. I miss green.
*   The bride was gorgeous. As beautiful as a woman can be when she marries young, all dewy cheeks and wide-eyed like a baby playfully reaching out to be held, there is something stunning about a woman in the full bloom of life. When you're beautiful at 22 it is luck. When you're beautiful at 36 it is because you earned it. Her glow was love and happiness.
*  I realized that I am nowhere near as fine with being a spinster as I used to be. I'll have to work on that. I'm pretty unlikely to meet anyone and get married. So I need to find a way to be happy again. Jealousy and dwelling in loneliness isn't the road to happiness.

I have been a bridesmaid sixteen times. I'm done. I finally did it right. I got very drunk but I didn't try to make out with anyone's grandmother. I didn't pee my pants. I didn't embarrass myself or Maggie. I'm going out on a win. Twenty three years ago two teenager girls vowed they would be each other's maids of honor. Neither of us were particularly wedding fixated girls. A wedding was just the most grown-up thing we could think of. We were promising each other that we would be friends forever, even when we were all grown-up. That wouldn't grow so far apart that the promise would be lost.  It isn't often in life that you get to keep a promise made in childhood. And it is even more rare when you promise to love someone for a lifetime and you actually do. So even though she is married now and I stood next to her when she vowed to love her husband for as long as they both shall live, I will always be proud that she loved me enough to ask me to be in her wedding.

But enough sugar...The next woman who asks me to be in her wedding better be prepared for me to spit right in her eye. I will exclaim, "Bitch, is you crazy?!?!?!" And then I will spit in her eye. But after that I will hug her. Because she's getting married and that is awesome.

Always a Bridesmaid,
The Merry Spinster

I Miss My Banjo (07/04/2013)

Three months ago I found myself in the death grip of a depression no amount of medication, supportive friends, running, or yoga could lift. So...I bought a banjo. I'd heard once that it was impossible to feel sad while listening to the banjo. A Google search for "sad banjo music" yielded results better described as contemplative and simple. So figured I'd give it a shot. I'd wanted to play the banjo since I was little, mainly because Steve Martin and Kermit the Frog play the banjo and when I was a wee lass in the 80's they were both very cool.

Within hours of getting my five string banjo home I was able to pluck out a simple little song that cheered me considerably. And for a for a few short months I felt better. I'm sure the fact that my banjo teacher is very handsome with the text from some of my favorite books tattooed on his arms, and makes me laugh has nothing to do with it. And I'm sure on some level I hated the vegan cupcakes his wife would bake for him to share with his students. Yuck! Delicious treats baked with love and shared with a fun and comforting new friend, so gross. That probably wasn't making me as happy as I felt.

Three weeks ago I was on the train on my way to my banjo lesson when I got some upsetting news. My banjo was resting on the seat next to me in its case and I took my hand off it for only a minute to find a tissue in my purse to wipe away my tears. I found my tissue and as I turned back to my banjo a scruffy man who looked like a ginger Iggy Pop grabbed my banjo and ran off the train at the Trolley stop on 4th south and 6th east. I flew from my seat and gave chase but he was wily, and he got away.

I loved that banjo. Vintage five string banjo with mother of pearl accents. I'd looked in a half dozen stores until I'd found the banjo I had only ever seen in my imagination. And now some dickhead is either plucking and picking it himself or sold it.

I attempted to make a police report but it didn't go well. The police were too focused on how weird it is that a middle-aged black woman plays the banjo. I attempted to solicit the sympathy of my friends but alas, any story that starts with "I was on my way to my banjo lesson" is doomed to get sidetracked by stupid questions. People only want to discuss the banjo, they don't want to talk about my despair and loss.

So what began as a cure for my depression, has now just added to it. Because my first thought was "What kind of asshole steals a crying woman's banjo?" But my second question was, "Damn! I ask for so little. Why can't I have anything I want?"

My banjo, who I called "Ben" was actually pretty special and a collector's item so I have his serial number and assorted authentication documents. I've hit a bunch of pawn shops and music stores looking for him, but I don't have a picture. So I have begun to accept that he is lost to me forever. And intellectually I know I should just go out and buy another one. I've been unhappy since I was four. If playing the banjo cheers me up, I should probably own a banjo. But now I feel like the world is full of assholes who will steal a sad woman's banjos. Shouldn't we all feel sad in banjo stealing world?

No banjo, no smile,

The Merry Spinster

The Virus of the Wet White Shirt (07/20/2013)

Ryan Gosling in the Notebook, Huge Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice… I could go on and on ad nauseum. For some ungodly reason the wet white button down shirt features heavily in films geared towards women. Whether the shirt gets wet from the rain or a swim in a pond doesn’t matter. It’s a swoon worthy moment. A moment when our heroine can see past the barriers thrown up by the object of her affection and see his vulnerability, along with his well formed pecs, washboard abs, and biceps. And because it’s raining and the rain apparently washes all the pain and misunderstanding away they embrace and all is perfect. It’s also a manipulation and a lie. Like most clichés of the cinematic world the wet white shirt is in essence bullshit. In reality no one chooses to stand out in the rain and have defining discussions. No, you and your beloved run into a nearby Starbucks. And once inside you either break-up or declare that you’re not just friends but madly and passionately in love. Forever branding your love with the stink of pumpkin spice lattes and pretentious alt-pop that is a retread of 70’s singer-songwriters.

But in the chick-flick world it’s not unusual for two people to just stand in the rain and talk it out like melodramatic fools. And this is a seemingly harmless thing, like the ubiquitous baguette that is always in their grocery sacks. But it isn’t harmless because those large scope romantic scenes make real life pale in comparison. I could never say it better than Rosie O’Donnell says it to Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle, “You don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie”. We all want to be in love in a movie. And so if we don’t meet cute, court funny, separate and mourn like someone has died, only to reunite with glee so broad Bugs Bunny winces, we don’t really think it’s love. And that leaves an entire generation of women pushing men away. We expect him to pine and comeback, and love us despite our complicated nature. Invariably we discover time and time again that he went to a titty bar, and went home with a stripper named Lickity Split. He ate chicken wings and told all his friends, “That bitch is crazy!”. And after a few weeks never thought of us again.

The only thing worse is packs of women expecting to be rescued. The shirt may not have been wet but the white knight fantasy was in full effect in a classic example of the Cinderella hoax, An Officer and a Gentleman. Debra Winger never gives up that Richard Gere is coming back. And he fucking does! There she is doing the most mundane, working class job in the whole world, the feminine version of coal mining, working in a brown paper bag factory, and Richard Gere swoops in wearing his white Navy dress uniform, and carries her out of the factory. Literally carries in her his arms through a factory while a power ballad soars, and all her friends and family in their Rosie the Riveter couture applaud. As if to say, “Hey girls don’t get an education and have goals and work towards them. Just spread your legs for every sailor that passes through town until one of them instead of just drinking 16 weeks of free milk, buys the cow.” The movie ends with probably the only big, bold romantic gesture of their relationship.

Pretty Woman is equally egregious. For God sakes she’s a hooker. Anyone who’s ever given blowjobs for $20 a pop will tell you that the prostitute who get’s picked-up off the street by a millionaire in a Lotus Esprit, that doesn’t want to take her to a seedy hotel and turn her into a hand puppet, before using his wealth to make sure she disappears, is a bigger urban legend than the person who through some seemingly plausible course of events ended up with an insect laying eggs in their face. It happened to someone, someone you know, knows. I’m putting it out there right now…If you’ve ever been carried out of a brown paper bag factory by a knight in shining armor; had a man declare his undying love to you while he was standing in the rain wearing a white shirt; or an insect laid eggs in your face, I will not only buy you dinner but I will dedicate my next book to you.

These fantasies are not harmless. We are in the midst of an epidemic of women who under the guise of refusing to settle, have never allowed themselves to love. I would never say anyone deserves to be alone forever. But if you hold out for the fantasy you have to be willing to gamble on that possibility. The expression “Nice guys finish last” comes from a real place. Men who are too short, too bald, too poor, or just not eloquent enough to give Hugh Grant or any of the other’s a run for their money, never get a chance to make a woman happy by loving her in a real way. Love isn’t being a jerk for the first 90 minutes of a movie and then doing one grand gesture. Love is being the guy who is always there. The dependable guy, the funny the guy, the guy you’d trust to be a good husband and father, the guy who’d rather you lose a breast to a mastectomy than risk not having you by his side for the rest of his life. And the guy who still follows you around begging you for a little loving after that mastectomy, because he still thinks you’re hot? That guy should have movies made about him. Some Olympian in a wet white shirt isn’t worth holding out for when you can have a lifetime of laughter and love with an imperfect man with a ketchup stain on his polo shirt.

I think the problem with women and expectations starts young when our parents read us stories and take us to see Disney films. People often forget that the original purpose of fairy tales and legends wasn’t necessarily to entertain, but to teach morality through  cautionary tales.

I’ll start out with the most popular of the storybook fantasies, Cinderella. Cinderella instead of trying to do something with her life just hangs around taking abuse from her stepfamily. Whether it’s contemporary set or in the traditional times of gowns and coaches, she could always strike out on her own. A smart gal would rather be a seamstress and a maid on her own terms and for money than forever live under the thumb of a cruel step-relative. But the true problem with Cinderella lies in the happily ever after. She marries the Prince and goes to live with his family in the castle. Well she’s never going to fit in with his family and friends.

She can’t have much education or culture and she and the Prince didn’t exactly discuss their geopolitical stances, desired family size, or temperaments. He “fell in love” with her because she was gorgeous and mysterious. Well looks fade and mystery goes out the window with the first fart. Cinderella only loved him because he was cute, a good dancer, and well let’s face it, rich. This is hardly the basis of a long and happy marriage. Predicted length of the marriage: 5 years. They’ll discover they have nothing in common after they lose interest in boning. And he’ll bitch to all his friends about the OCD she developed about keeping everything clean since she used to catch a beating if the spices weren’t lined up right in the cupboard. While Cinderella will realize that money doesn’t make up for what she knows she’s missing in terms of a real connection. The Prince will start cheating on her. And Cinderella will end up with a large divorce settlement and her own castle.

Next up the Little Mermaid. She spots a cute sailor and decides to ditch her family and friends under the sea to be with him. He’s too stupid to recognize a hot girl who rescued him from drowning just because she has a case of laryngitis. He is addle-brained and falls for the sea witch in disguise and Ariel almost loses everything. Eventually she overcomes and instead of going back to the sea to be with the people who have loved her all along she chooses to live on land. Effectively turning her back on her own culture. I call that gentrification and a cultural genocide. The land dwelling lifestyle being presented as better, most likely led to hundreds of mermaids giving it all up to live on land with some schmuck. Predicted length of marriage: 10 years. He was a sailor. He most likely had a girl in every port in the known world. And eventually Ariel was going to find out about them. But she wouldn’t have left right away because she would’ve been too embarrassed to go back and face her family. She likely stuck around and had a couple kids with the Prince, and suffered in silence each time he came home with fish on his breath. Eventually she’d discover it wasn't tuna she’d been smelling but her older sister all over her husband. The divorce would be acrimonious and she’d end up walking away with nothing but the clothes on her back because the simp signed a pre-nup.

Snow White would understandably have some trust issues after her step-mother tried to kill her. So moving in with seven tiny men and keeping house for them probably seemed like the only way to emotionally heal. When the original story was Snow White and the Seven Knights it was more difficult to believe that all they wanted from a beautiful girl who was completely dependent on them was a little cooking and cleaning and delightful company. But contrary to what the anti-dwarf lobby would have you believe, little men are usually pretty well-mannered and chivalrous so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. They are not the men under my microscope in this story. The Prince is. Because of the trust issues I mentioned earlier Snow White was so desperate for a mother figure that she took an apple from a strange woman and promptly died. Her seven “friends” were so sad they put her in a glass coffin. And along comes the world’s most famous necrophiliac Prince Charming. Seeing an Angelina Jolie clone in a coffin being carried by dwarves makes him ready for love and he kisses her. He had no reason to think she would wake up. Lucky for her, but unlucky for our pervert Prince she wakes up and lives happily ever after. Predicted length of the marriage:18 months. Prince Charming can only hide it for so long that he’s a sicko. And he’ll resent that she still confides all her troubles in seven men who are secretly in love with her. He’ll get jealous and they’ll fight all the time. Eventually she’ll go back to her own kingdom and claim her fortune, write a tell-all, and go on Oprah or some medieval equivalent. The Prince will kill himself in some kind of autoerotic asphyxiation mishap.

I could go on forever. There is an endless supply of stories. We’re taught from preschool that we need to be rescued and that nothing is more important than having a boyfriend. We’re indoctrinated into the culture of weakness. And it’s all we’re told. Whether you’re too fat, too tall, or you’re half fish, you’re not good enough. Change so you can get the guy. If you meet a guy and he’s good-looking and rich, then you better scoop him up without getting to know him before he changes his mind. Even if he’s such a shallow jerk that if you change your outfit he couldn’t pick you out of a crowd and can only identify you by your shoes. And even if you have a great friend (or seven) who love you just as you are, toss them aside for the fantasy of the prince on the white horse even if he’s a freak who cruises around making-out with dead girls. Better in a bad marriage than alone. Those of us with skewed perspectives never had a chance.

In the real world a gorgeous Prince on a white horse gallops up and we think its love. We try on his name in our heads. We secretly choose our bridesmaids. We glory in the thought that our lonely nights are finally all over. And the next thing we know Prince Charming has turned into some kind of Ike Turner/Dick Cheney hybrid. The white steed has magically turned into a goat that is eating everything in sight including the remnants of the dreams and aspirations we had to put aside to make him happy. Obviously I've become a frightful cynic. A friend of mine called to tell me that her boyfriend had brought her flowers at work and bragged that he calls her five times a day. My response was, "Wow. Five times a day. That sounds like the early signs that he's a potential abuser. He doesn't love you, he's tracking your every movement. And he just showed up at your office with a gift? Unannounced? Well I hope you documented that in case you need to file a police report.”

 Romance is a foreign and troubling notion to me. Which is good. I used to tell my friends that I'm built for the life I lead. I never craved marriage or kids once in my first 35 years. I'd have been pleasantly surprised to get married and have a family but if it never happened. So I really enjoy spending 100% of my disposable income on trips to Bali and $90 bra sets at Victoria Secret. And I rarely get lonely despite living alone. It's a good life me and the neurotic cocker spaniel I share my life with lead. And we're happy. Sometimes we do stay in at night and cuddle on the sofa and watch romantic comedies. We just do our best to take it all with a grain of salt.  No swooning over wet white shirts. And if we were given the opportunity we’d prefer to be out having a great time with some guy who thinks Hugh Grant is a fop and a pretentious ass. Possibly picking an argument on a rainy day, fully prepared to be proven wrong.

My Beeswax (09/27/2013)

I've been happy lately. This is so unusual for me that I’m starting to suspect I’m bipolar and having a manic episode.  According to my mother I have been clinically depressed since I was about four years old. Therefore, Happiness is a foreign concept for me. But I am attempting to Lean In.  And this would be easier if more people in my life would leave me be, and let me just do me.

Complaint# 1
I recently changed my hair. Instead of my big bouncy afro, I now have a long weave with blue highlights. I love it. Everyone who’s opinion I respect loves it. But for some reason my boss felt compelled to share her opinion.
Boss: I’ve been trying to decide what I think of your hair.
My interior monologue: Go back in your office and try to think of someone who wants to talk to you.
Boss: I mean it is shaved on one side and kind of weird.
My interior monologue: Oh shoot! How will I feel good about myself without the fashion approval of a woman who looks like a poorly accessorized Olive Oyl?
Boss: I guess it is okay.
Me: Hmm…
I mentioned to her that our elderly CEO didn't seem to hate it. And that all the cool girls in the office think it looks edgy and hot. And then I declined her request to touch my hair and see my weave tracts. Umm…Why did she think I wanted to hear her opinion?  I blame our Facebook/Twitterverse for the mistaken impression so many people have that they need to express their opinion on everything all the time. For the most part I don’t really care what other people think. It has taken me nearly 40 years on this planet to get to the point where I can discern what I think in any given situation. I hardly need a bunch of background noise distracting me. Plus has the notion of “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” fallen out of fashion.

I’m really focused on my career, my health, my friends, and my family right now. Therefore I’m gleefully wandering around this planet without a romantic partner or object of desire. This is obviously unacceptable. Hide your children. Get your elderly to higher ground. Put batteries in the flashlight and batten down the hatchets because a single woman is on the loose, and it is causing a shit storm of worry. Nearly every time I meet a friend for dinner, coffee, or drinks they bring along a bachelor. I feel like all anyone wants to discuss with me is whether I’m looking for a boyfriend and whether I’m worried about my biological clock.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not opposed to falling in love. I’m actually looking forward to it. I had a lovely time the last time I fell in love. I recall lots of sex and delivery pizza. But I’m not chasing it. Unfortunately, too many people won’t let me be. If I had beeswax they would be more interested in minding it than I am.

I don’t like wearing makeup. I have a nice face with near perfect skin. And I have strong facial features. I don’t really need to wear it.  But I get a lot of grief for it. Silly me. I assumed if someone was my friend they wouldn't feel comfortable telling me that don’t think I’m just fine as I am. I've always resented that possessing a female body is a never ending project to perfect and change said body and face. Men for the most part just look how they look. If they have short eyelashes, then they have short eyelashes. But if you’re a female it is a crime against a civilized society to walk around not trying to take care of the deformity of not having long eyelashes.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened but  maybe six months ago I looked in the mirror and I didn't see a collection of flaws and issues, but just my face. My dad’s sad eyes and my mom’s easy smile. And a nose, just a nose, my nose. I had no real opinion on whether another nose would be better. I just washed my face, brushed my teeth and lived a day in my life. I concede that it is a revolutionary act to not hate yourself. But I don’t. And I swear it has been a very quiet revolution. It really hasn't been televised. I have resisted preaching The Gospel of the Merry Spinster.

I wish I didn't have a face like a homemade pie. I am sarcastic and cynical and bookish. But I look sweet and friendly and this encourages people to share unsolicited opinions with me. Sometimes I just want to say, “Oh yes. Of course.  By all means share the pedestrian products of your uninspired mind with me. I've got all fucking day and no will of my own.” But I don’t. But I might. Nosy folk you have been warned.

The Merry Spinster

Wait...What...Seriously?!??!? (10/02/2013)

I am a very clever girl. Smart, witty, brilliant, but no real genius. As much as I would like to, I could never be a super-villain. And I suspect the limitations of my intellect are to blame for my inability to figure out what I’m doing wrong when it comes to men.

As previously stated in this blog, I’m taking a break from dating for several reasons paramount among them that I don’t have much luck with men and it bums me out. And I’m really tired of being bummed out. But a gal pal of mine convinced me to meet her brother. And a fragile friendship with what I perceived as flirting ensued. So when the gentleman we shall call “Ted” invited me to dinner I decided to ignore the nagging voice in my head and I accepted the invitation. Two hours later I found myself looking at a strip club dinner buffet. Feel free to go back and read that sentence again…I’ll wait…Yep…He took a straight Catholic woman to a strip club. And because I’m a people pleaser I barely groused when we pulled up and I went in. But I made it clear I had no intention of eating food in the presence of bare titties. I don’t even eat when I’m topless. Call me a prude. I don’t care.

Now for approximately 45 minutes I entertained the thought that maybe this man was just clueless or being ironic, or pranking me. But then he started talking about this girl he was interested in. I listened politely. I like to be there for my fellow man. I believe in love. But when I realized that the chick he’s interested in worked at the strip club I was out. That was it. I don’t eat onion rings on “sniffers row” of a strip club while watching the guy I thought I was a on date with oogles a woman with fake tits covered in baby oil. I didn't think it was possible to beat the guy who took me to paint mugs on our first date, but Ted did it. On a technicality, since although he called it a date, I don’t consider it a date since courtship doesn't appear to have been the goal of the evening.

Although I am arguably cute and fun and interesting, men do not think of me that way. And I find trying to attract men very stressful, so I don’t really try. The only fly in the ointment is that my friends don’t believe me, so they continually try to fix me up and then blame me when it gets weird. Because obviously I had to have done something. Umm…No…All I did was show up and be awesome. That was it.  I guess I could’ve been less awesome. Like I said, I’m not smart enough to figure it out. 

Hugs not Drugs,

The Merry Spinster

My Alias (10/05/2013)

I am not friendly, yet I look very friendly. Therefore strangers talk to me. And ask me questions. And then they ask more questions. I hate that. I don't want to be intimate aquaintances with strangers. So I have a alternate identity.

When I'm on the train or the bus I am Debbie Matthews. Debbie is from Windsor, Ontario. She married young and got divorced. She doesn't have children, and doesn't want any. She went to Brown undergrad and moved here to Salt Lake City to go the the U of U law school. She practiced law for a few years before deciding her true passion was educating children. So she currently teaches third grade at Blessed Sacrament Elementary school.

Debbie doesn't want to go out with you. She hates talking to taxi drivers. And her phone number is the downtown Papa Johns pizza.

I crave privacy. When I'm commuting to work I just want to read my book or listen to music. I don't want to get to know anyone. I know human beings are supposed to crave connection, but I have tons of friends and a loving family. I feel connected. There are people I know who know me. Therefore, to strangers that my gut says I will never see again, I am Debbie Matthews.

One Is Silver the Other's Gold (10/29/2013)

“ Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.”- Girl Scout friendship circle song

In May my best-friend moved to South Dakota. Don’t ask.  I assure you she had her reasons. And having your best-friend move away is as devastating at 36 as it is at 6. My first thought was a forlorn “Who’s going to be my friend now?” Despite the fact that I can be chatty. And it would be fair to say I’m an interesting person. I have a hard time making friends. And an even harder time keeping them. I currently lose most of my friends to marriage and babies. So with Audrey gone, and the rest of my friends obsessed with some dude or chick and the larvae they have produced, I have to find my companionship elsewhere.

My buddy Reveille is a delight but has four kids, two jobs, and a small farm. Consequently, we have hung out outside work on only a handful of occasions in the two years we've been friends. When I revealed to her that I was taking tap class, playing mahjong with some octogenarians, and trying to spark up conversations with strangers at my gynecologist’s office, she became concerned. Reveille is a problem solver by nature, so when she met a gal new to town who needed to make friends she set us up on a play-date. And so far it’s been good. We've had coffee, and went to see a band, and to a bonsai show at Red Butte Garden. I even invited her to a party I otherwise would've skipped because I hate going to parties alone. And one of the best things about her is that she has no interest in getting married and having babies. She even got her tubes preemptively tied. Now. I will admit I've been burned by this before. When I met Audrey she was fiercely independent and opposed to settling down. And then she moved to a state that confounds her and spends her weekends entertaining her boyfriend’s gaggle of relatives, many of them children.  And my former friend Shannon was literally repulsive to many men. I’m barely exaggerating. I’d seen men have to wipe involuntary disgusted looks off their faces when her name came up. She got married five or so years ago and our friendship lasted only a few months after that. Merry spinsters are a more endangered species than Chinese pandas, albeit much more interesting and useful. (FUCK PANDAS! But I’m digressing)

 A single life can be a full and amazing life. But all human beings need connection and affection. As much as I often loathed Sex and the City, it was a prime example of how the life of a spinster can be a full one. Four women. Three of whom were spinsters for most of the series. One of whom remained an old maid. ( What’s the difference? A spinster is a woman who is unmarried past the average marrying age in her culture. An old maid is a never married woman past reproductive age.) But I never thought of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda as lonely and pathetic. They in fact were often held up as the standard for glamorous independence. They had fun. And they weren't alone. They were in a committed and very emotionally intimate relationship with three other people. I unfortunately have not been able to find my “spinster support system.” I make friends and then they meet some guy or girl and we stop having things in common. But maybe, just maybe my new friend is a keeper. Maybe I’ll have someone to do things with, just like my coupled friends. But I won’t be required to have sex or argue about who is going to load the dishwasher.

But the people who love you and make you feel like you’re not alone don’t have to contemporaries. You can be born with them. Lately I've been talking to my mom more. And it’s been lovely. Her advice is awful, but I can be so stressed I want to spit at people, or so sad I just want to curl up in the fetal position and cry, and she’ll cheer me up. My mother thinks if you don’t want to be my friend you’re an idiot.  Because to hear her tell it, I’m the nicest, smartest, prettiest, and all around best girl in the world. This has been her official stance since I was four and she has ignored all evidence to the contrary. When it comes to how great she thinks I am she is as dogmatic in her beliefs as a GOP senator refusing to discuss climate change. I frequently feel like the world’s biggest loser. I have been quoted on many occasions saying, “No one hates me as much as I do.” And one of the few things that gets through to me is my mom essentially plugging her ears with her fingers and singing, “Nope. Not listening. LALALALALALLA. You’re the best. Love you. Everyone should love you.”

My birthday is in a few weeks and most years I’m too afraid to have a party because I’m convinced no one will come. But this year was a lonely one even before Audrey left so I invited some friends to join me for dinner and drinks. I can’t complain that  I’m lonely if I don’t give people a chance to keep me company. I will of course let you know how it turned out. In closing I would like to give special recognition to the people who have gone above the call of duty keeping me company (some online) in the last year. Rena Skeen aka Mama Biscuits, Audrey Skeen, Jodi Skeen, My Beloved and Beautiful Mama, Maggie Grieves, Carrie and Mike Clark, Reveille P., Laura Hopkinson, and Tim Lewis.

One Woman. No Waiting (11/13/2013)

I find myself more impatient than I used to be. Things I figured I would do later, I want very much to do right now. I’m always disappointed in myself  when I realize I’m not doing something because I don’t want to do it alone. That is no way to live. That is the way to die alone in a dilapidated home full of cats and squirrel skeletons wearing a dirty adult diaper. So I threw myself a birthday party a few weeks ago. Okay...that may be too august a declaration. I planned a celebration of my birth. You see I always want a birthday party. ALWAYS! I’m a middle child, and I crave opportunities to feel special. But if you no longer live with your mommy and daddy, and you don’t have a significant other, who should throw your birthday party is a bit of a question mark. My two best friends are a woman who lives in South Dakota and a dude who is a broke social worker with a girlfriend. Now if Audrey had thought she was going to be in town for the weekend she would've gleefully thrown something together. And if social convention hadn't made it unseemly for Tim to throw me a party he would've as well. He  in fact threw me a wonderful 30th birthday party. But doing so also irritated his girlfriend at the time. But she was in all fairness very easily aggravated and a bit nuts. Nice girl. Just 20% batshit crazy. So alas even if Tim had the time and resources he is a wiser man these days and didn't plan anything. This left me to plan my own party. Initially this bummed me out. Thirty-seven years old with no one in my life to make a fuss over the fact that I had been born. I cried a little. And then I pulled up my panties and acted like the badass I intermittently am. I invited all my local friends to join me for dinner at El Chihuahua and drinks at A Bar Named Sue. It ended up being an all girl evening save Tim who arrived pretty late. But I had fun. The only downside was that none of my “good time” friends could make it, so by 9:30pm I was begging people to stay out just a little longer. That is the reality of being in your late 30’s. Your friends need to go home and go to bed. Or they have children at home. Or they have to get up early for some reason or another. Ordinarily, I’m the first person out of any party. I go to bed at 10:30 even on the weekends. But because it was my birthday I wanted people to be dedicated to the cause and pound some Red Bull and stay up late with me. I probably should’ve stated that instead of being quietly resentful. Lesson learned. But the bigger lesson learned here is that I am only as lonely as I resign myself to being. Sixteen people by the end of the night had shown up to be with me and celebrate me. I am loved. I am appreciated. And I’m glad I didn't wait until someone else could gather my friends around me. I did it myself and walked away with presents. Oh such lovely presents.

I love Christmas. No. That doesn’t adequately express my love of the holiday. Allow me to use all capitals and copious amounts of punctuation. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! THIS YEAR I SHALL HAVE THE HAP-HAP-HAPPIEST CHRISTMAS SINCE BING CROSBY TAP DANCED WITH DANNY FUCKING KAYE!?!?!?!?!?!? ARGGHHHH! YAWPPPP! CHRISTMAS! Therefore it is a little weird how little I mark the season in my life. Each year I put up a 14 inch high tree on the corner of my desk and half-heartedly put some ornaments on it. Somehow I convinced myself that Christmas trees are for families. And one spinster and one elderly dog do not a family make. This is obviously bullshit. As evidenced by my birthday gathering and the daily phone calls from my mom, and the texts exchanged with my brother and sister, and the constant IMing with my best-friend in South Dakota, I do in fact have a family. So I’m putting up a tree. And I’m hand making most of the ornaments because that is what my mama did with her first tree. I've already started listening to my Christmas playlist on Spotify. My current favorite is Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives. I accept that declaring that means I shall never have street cred. And I’m fine with it. I don’t need to be cool. I’m having a holly jolly Christmas. Whether my future husband is right around the corner and I’m going to meet him tonight while I’m out buying more fake snow, or as I suspect he’s married to someone else and wondering why he isn’t happy, but you know fuck him, he should’ve waited for me, but NO, he married some cute simple girl who bakes cupcakes and says things like “Oh I don’t really follow politics”. It doesn't matter. Family is anything you want it to be. And every family deserves a tree. So step right up. One woman. No waiting.

Dreams of a Life...Scariest Movie ever! (11/18/2103)

Every never married woman who lives alone has her nightmare lonely death scenario, many of which  involve being eaten by a pet. These tragic death scenarios vary from simply choking with no one there to give you the Heimlich, to the very unlikely being murdered by a sexually frustrated Boy Scout after you declined to buy popcorn to send him to the big jamboree.

My personal dark lonely death fantasy involves me tripping over something and injuring my spine. I’m paralyzed and no one can hear me scream for help because my television is on too loud. And I slowly starve to death and then my dog eats me.  That last part is wholly implausible. My dog is an idiot. He would starve to death with 200lbs of meat lying on the kitchen floor. So I would lay there for weeks decomposing until my landlord opened the door to discover two near skeletal bodies. One human female and one canine. Dark, I know. But you’d be hard pressed to find a woman over 30 living alone who doesn't have those thoughts.

Consequently, I can’t suggest any spinster watch Dreams of a Life. The film is about Joyce Carol Vincent who died in December of 2003, but whose body wasn't discovered until January 2006. At one point she was at the very center of a vibrant London social circle. She had a great job in investments, met Nelson Mandela, and dated fascinating men. And then one day she withdrew from her life and people just assumed that she was off somewhere doing something fantastic. Maybe she’d married a rich man and had a bunch of babies.Who knew? But they all assumed it was all just so fantastic that she didn't have time to call anyone.

 Sadly, she died  in front of her television while wrapping Christmas presents. The cause of death is unknown. And her body wasn't discovered for three years. By the time she was discovered there was nothing left of her but a skeleton wearing a simple house dress. They had to identify her by dental records based on a holiday photo in her flat. And then ads were placed in the papers to try to find her next of kin. She had sisters and nieces and nephews but no one was looking for her. A 38 year old woman died alone and no one noticed.

 Yep. That is definitely the nightmare. That’s why people marry out of a desperate fear of dying alone. Within minutes of finishing the film on Netflix I was going through my phone contacts to see if I could find a prospective husband. And then I got over it. Because I am not sure I could be dead for more than 12 hours before someone noticed. First thing, if I’m more than 20 minutes late my office starts calling. Secondly, I talk to my mother every single day. Thirdly, my neighbors are ridiculously nosy. One of them keeps dropping by with desserts and pasta. And lastly, my dog has issues. He would eventually do something to inspire my neighbors to call the cops. So I have nothing to fear. But the movie definitely got in my head. But I have also gotten a lot of dinner and cocktail conversation out of telling the story. And I think we all know how much I love attention.

Very Much Alive,
The Merry Spinster

Coffee and Jesus' Penis (12/05/2013)

So…I like most Christians am a bit of a superstitious sucker. When I was a little girl someone told me that you should always be kind to the downtrodden because that ragged and dirty man with sadness in his eyes might be Jesus in disguise. This leads me to a man I call “Hank” although I doubt that is his name. “Hank” approached me a couple years ago and demanded I buy him a cup of coffee. He didn't say “Please” so I said “NO.” Then he said, “Will you really be so cruel to your savior?” And claimed he was Jesus Christ. I still didn't want to buy him the coffee. I was annoyed and had plans to spend my $1.36 on something else. But just as I was about to tell him to go suck eggs  I started wondering…what if? What if this is a test? Thirty years of good behavior and faithful service to the Lord down the drain because I was being cheap and grumpy. So I relented, walked into 7-11 and bought him a small coffee.

Flash forward two years and I have bought him several cups of coffee. And he still claims to be my lord and savior and insist I buy him coffee to thank him for dying for my sins. Occasionally I remark that he shouldn't expect to be thanked considering he basically volunteered for it. And bragging isn't really the Christian way. When you do something nice for someone whether it is giving them a ride to the airport or being crucified, do it  because you want to, not because you expect to get coffee out of it.  But I continued buying the coffee.

And then today…Ugh…Today, he approached me again and demanded coffee. And I didn't have change and I was running late so I politely demurred. At which point he unzipped his pants, pulled out his winkie, and proceeded to wave it vigorously at me. At which point I screamed, “YOU ARE SOOOOOO NOT JESUS! Put that away!” He did and I said, “No more coffee for you.”

When it comes to faith I will always have questions. But I am certain of this…Jesus Christ would never shake his penis at a lady.



Failed Bootycall: Part II (Originally published 10/5/2011)

One my favorite things about being single is the mystery of when and with whom I will have sex. I tend to practice extended periods of celibacy for three reasons. (1) Twenty years of Catholicism will give you some pretty serious hang-ups about sex. (2) I have a pathological fear of unwanted pregnancies and STDs, and your high school health teacher was right, the only truly safe sex is no sex at all. And (3) I act like a crazy person and chase off people who want to have sex with me. Consequently I have lived completely chastely for 20 months.
I had vowed to never have sex again and let my body become a museum. I even decided the plaque over my bed would read, "The juice just wasn't worth the squeeze." But I was working on my novel and I couldn't get the sex scene right. I seem to have forgotten how the entire dance is done. So for purely academic reasons I decided to get me some.
For those of you who haven't had the chance to follow my adventures up to now I will first summarize the events of the original episode of Failed Booty Call:
I went out with my buddy Hawkeye and got unbelievably drunk and called my buddy Roman. And somehow I didn't twig to the fact that he said he was coming over to give me some luvin. So then  I called my buddy Joey. And by happenstance and cosmic f*ck up they both showed up. And instead of sexing me up, they decided I needed an intervention. I didn't particularly want an intervention so I tossed a Hostess Apple pie at Roman. But then decided I still wanted to eat it. So I picked pieces of pie off his bare chest. The intervention established two things. We decided that I don't have a drinking problem but I have a really bad drunk dial problem. And I hang out with the kind of guys who would never take advantage of an emotionally fragile woman. Both good things to know, but I still didn't get laid.

Failed Booty Call: Part II
Last night I couldn't sleep. Often when I can't sleep I "grind my own coffee." But that didn't help me doze off. So I thought maybe it was a two person job. So I called a gent we will call "Skipper." Skippper is a good person. A little dull but sweet. And once in response to my flirting with him he said on the subject of sex, "Yeah...you know...so...yeah...umm...that would be...umm...hahah...pfft...yeah...sometime...you know...okay." Who could resist a smooth talker like that?
As previously stated I am celibate and therefore out of practice, and the last time I called a fella for a little slap and tickle I was so drunk I messed up the guest list. So I couldn't figure out a way to say, "I would like you to give me the bad touch, and then the good touch." And I somehow invited him over so I could teach him to knit. And then I actually taught him how to knit! The old me just would've let that go. But I just had to ask where I went wrong. So I just texted him. The answer? "Oh no, I picked up on that. Just couldn't figure out how to start." A wise friend once told me that, "You can't play cat and mouse games if no one is a cat." I'm officially adding "Become a cat" to my list of goals for my 35th year. I fear there will be many more episodes of Failed Booty Call in my future until I lean to Meow.


Diane Keaton...Merry Spinster

10 Reasons Why Diane Keaton is Awesome:
1) She was in the Godfather. Being in the Godfather is a one way express pass to Coolsville. And she was in all three of them.
2) She was brave enough to do a nude scene at 57 years old. But didn't think it was worth an extra $50 a week to go naked when she was in HAIR on Broadway when she was in her 20's.
3) Dated Al Pacino, Woody Allen, and Warren Beatty and managed to stay friends and not lose herself  in the relationships. I personally would've become a codependent little doormat if I'd dated any of those guys.
4) Adopted her first child at 50. It is never too late to become what you most want to be.
5) She was so interesting that a friend/ex-boyfriend wrote an Academy Award winning film about her. And Annie Hall is widely considered Woody Allen's best work.
6) She wrote an interesting memoir that doubles as a meditation on the stages of womanhood. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/books/then-again-by-diane-keaton-review.html?_r=1&ref=books
7) Wears whatever the hell she wants and doesn't give a whooping funt what anyone thinks.
8) She's hilarious.
9) She works with the Los Angeles Conservancy to save old buildings.
10) She blogs for the Huffington Post. Take my word for it, I'm a writer, and that is a nice entry on a resume.

Diane Keaton has a pretty good life. But as you may or may not have noticed, she doesn't have a husband. I dub her a Merry Spinster.


Resolutions of a Bridesmaid  01/02/2012

Yesterday my oldest friend in the world asked me to be her maid of honor in keeping with a deal we made in junior high. And my best wedding gift for her will be being better a bridesmaid for her than I've been to friends in the past.

Therefore, I will NOT:

* Try to make out with the groom's grandmother. Just because one freaky old lady was down for it, that doesn't mean I should  try all grandmothers.

* Get drunk and ask the rest of the bridal party to autograph  my dress.

* Convince a limo driver to make a run to 7-11 for Slurpees

* Throw up on anyone

* Heckle the priest if he says something "lame"

* Wear two left shoes and think no one noticed.

* Bum out the woman who catches the bouquet by telling her I've caught NINE of them and I'm still single. Heck one landed on my head.

* Fill my purse with snacks.

* Be so weirdly enthusiastic that people start avoiding me.

All the best memories of Maggie's wedding will be lovely ones of love and happiness. The only memories of the maid of honor will be about how classy, elegant, and sober she was.

I Am NOT in a Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam Cover Band 01/11/2012


It all started when a woman fell in love with a man. My friend Betsy loves her husband very much, but she doesn't particularly enjoy his company. He is essentially a 6'5 hairless cat that pays her credit card bills. She likes to pet him when he curls up next to her on the couch, she sets out food for him, and she even calls him Mr Whiskers because he doesn't shave enough. But as much as she loves him she needed a break, a hobby that got her out of the house that he didn't participate in. We tried a variety crafts including knitting, quilting, and taking cooking classes. But he would tag along. And then we had a stroke of genius. We would start a band! He doesn't particularly like music and is too busy to learn an instrument. And just to be safe we formed an all girl Prince and the Revolution tribute band. There was no way that he would want to join that.

We had every intention of actually playing music and added three other women who actually owned the necessary instruments. But "band practice" ended up being a cover story for getting drunk and giving each other foot rubs while reading Jane Austen novels. We were living the dream...For a while...No one really wants to go see their friends' band so we figured we could go on forever. I have one friend who's in a band I like. Any other time a friend asks me to come out and see their band I want to scrunch up my face and say, "Really? We're still doing this? Aren't we both a little old for this? We're not in college anymore. Do I have to?" But apparently an all-girl Prince and the Revolution tribute band sounds awesome and we were getting pressure to  do a show. So when "the bass player" moved to El Paso we used it as an excuse to disband.

But after a few months we really missed our band practices. So we need a new band. We decided we still needed a theme because none of us thought we could pretend to be a songwriter.We carefully constructed a new lie that would guarantee that no one would ever ask any us to play an instrument. Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. They had four modest hits and their primary fan base was overweight Hispanic teenage girls in the late 80's, and we don't know anyone who was a chubby Hispanic girl in the 80's. The handful of husbands and boyfriends that we needed to believe this lie had no interest in Lisa Lisa and her jammy cult. We have been golden for almost five years. And then today...

I took Betsy's husband some soup because he's been sick. And somehow the conversation came around to the band.  And I'm not a natural liar. So I tap danced for a while because parts of the story are true. (1) We sit in a room full of musical instruments (2) We are fans of Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam (3) I once knew someone in a band who rubbed a band mate's feet while reading Northanger Abby and drinking a pitcher of margaritas. I held in there in for a while, but he broke me. I confessed to the lie, and have consequently blown up the spot for four other women. I am both a bad friend and a bad pretend band mate. I deserve to go without my foot rubs.


Who the Fuck is Ben???? 02/07/2012

I have begun to suspect that I have multiple personality disorder, and one of my personalities is involved in some kind of relationship with a handsome man named Ben.

I have seen Ben six times now at places like the grocery store and the doctor's office. And every time he gives me a big smile of recognition hugs me and gives me a kiss on the cheek. The problem is that I don't know him, but he seems to know me. He knows my name, where I'm from, and my favorite Mexican eatery. What do I know about him? His name is Ben (it was on his debit card when he bought my tea at Coffee Garden) and and he's very good looking. I also know that he smells like sage and apples. But that's about it.

I decided since he seems so comfortable putting his hands on me that maybe we hooked up in the past. Now although I went through a period in 2009 in which I went to third base with everyone who made direct eye contact with me, I've only slept with five people. Four of them are still living. Three live in this state. And one of them could maybe  pass for Ben. But I'm pretty sure he hasn't changed his name, lost three inches of height, and become 60% better looking. So...that's that.

I thought maybe we used to work together but other than the Hazel Hottie I've never been on a hugging kissing level with a co-worker.

So this brings me to the last possibility...He is a friend of friend who is prone to out-sized displays of affection and enthusiasm. Help!!!!!  He's about 6'3 slim, blonde, clean-shaven and clean-cut, blue-green eyes, lopsided smile with perfect teeth. And he wears Clark Kent eyeglasses. If you are how I know Ben, do not tell him I don't remember meeting him or building our "friendship." And if he is single ask him if he thinks I'm cute.And if you don't know him. Help me hatch a plan that doesn't involve simply asking him, "Who are you? And here's a better question...who do you think I am? Because I'm not her. But thank you for the hugs.

I Actually Like Valentines Day...Dead Cat and All 02/12/2012

I have recently become inundated with people who call Valentine's Day pithy and silly things like "Singleness Awareness Day." I don't get it. I've always really liked Valentine's Day. My parents were pretty stingy with both sweets and affection when I was a little girl. But every Valentine's Day my dad would get a big box of chocolate for my mom and two smaller boxes for me and my sister. And there would hugs and kisses and sometimes even presents exchanged all around. It was nice. My dad died a  few days after Valentine's day when I was 18 and I haven't had a "valentine" since. So I think if I can still like the holiday anyone can.

I will concede that it is largely a commercial creation designed to empty people's pockets. A part of me is still convinced that Hallmark is one of the fronts for Dr Evil's organization. I worked for a Hallmark store for a few months in 1999 and I've seen the inside of the belly of the beast. And I assure you, you are being manipulated. But since you're being manipulated into telling people you love that you care about them while eating candy and going to nice restaurants, I suggest you just bend over and take it. It ain't that bad.

I've had some nice Valentine's days. Some years I've gone to mixers, other's I've just watched sappy movies and eaten brownies with some gal pals. Eight years ago Valentine's day was my first day with my dog Oliver.

I'd been dating a verbally and physically abusive douchebag and no one could figure out why. So finally one of my friends asked me and I said, "Well, I like having someone to come home to, I like waking up to coffee already made, and the sex is amazing." My gal pals bought me a 17 speed sex toy and a coffee maker with a timer, and told me to get a dog. And the day before Valentine's day I told Prince Not-So-Charming to hit the bricks and stayed up all night watching sappy movies. One of them was "Love Story." And when I laid eyes on my pretty blond pedigreed Cocker Spaniel I named him Oliver after Ryan O'Neal's character Oliver Barrett III. Sure I spent Valentine's day carrying a dog with two broken legs and a runny eye who wasn't housebroken up and down two flights of stairs, but it was also the first of many days that should have been sad but was in fact happy and full of love.

I didn't always have a happy go-lucky attitude towards Valentine's day. One year I was filled with jealousy and  a rage I couldn't find a productive outlet for. So I opened the window of my third floor apartment and dumped ice water on cooing and canoodling couples. In February. In the Midwest. You can understand why someone called the cops. The evening ended with the cop who came to give me a warning joining me for a cup of coffee and giving me some life advice.

And one time I was so bummed about getting dumped on Valentine's day that I essentially had a psychotic episode. Allow me to explain...I was crazy into a buddy of mine. And he led me on and eventually became engaged to my best-friend at the time who was also his step-sister. And I discovered they were getting married at a party on V-day. And in a blinding rage I picked up his cat and screamed as I turned to leave, "YOU STOLE MY HEART. I"M STEALING YOUR CAT!"  I got about a block away before he caught up with me and demanded I give him back his cat. I refused. But as my steps slowed and clarity returned I tried to figure out a graceful way to pull out of the crazy flat spin I was in. And just when I was about to just turn on my heel and hand him his cat, something spooked Maury and he leapt out of my arms and into traffic and was killed. Worst Valentine's Day Ever! And the guy still tells the story every single he sees me. Because as much as he loved the cat, he loves the story more and although the only part I find funny is my statement equating my broken heart with a 10 year old obese tabby cat, he always gets a big laugh when he tells it.

So I reiterate if I still like Valentine's day despite that fact that it is associated with my daddy dying, my role in the death of cat that I really liked, and having my heart broken, then other people should stop whining. It's just a day with lots of hearts and flowers and more love than a standard Tuesday.

I love you my little flesh puppets. Happy Valentine's Day. Kisses.

Sex Positive? Yes Ma'am. I Am 02/19/12

About a month ago I read some quotes from an interview that fashion guru and professional awesome person Tim Gunn gave. In the interview he stated that he hadn't had sex in 30 years. On the surface this was noteworthy, but not incredible. What stuck with me was the reasons. The first reason he became celibate was the emergence of AIDS. I'm sure he wasn't alone in that scaring him off sex. But the other reason was that he had a mean former lover who he stated was "in patient with me." My first instinct was to track down this jerk and punch him in the stomach for making Tim Gunn sad. And while he was writhing on the ground I would explain to him what a gift it is to have sex with anyone, but if Tim Gunn deigns to sleep with you you shouldn't ruin him for everyone else.

I'm sure you're wondering what possible insight into sex someone who has been celibate for two years can offer. Well hunny chile, I'm celibate not chaste. I regularly have sex with a thirty-something failed writer who is allergic to raspberries and loves dogs i.e. myself. I had two orgasms before noon today. I was my first lover and I'm a close second in the race to be my best:
*I love my own peaches and shake my own tree.
*I like to grind my own coffee in the morning.
*Sometimes you have to double-click your mouse to get results.
*Jack and Jill went up the hill each looking to cum. Jack said, "Come here girl." Jill smiled, "Sorry I'm already done."
So I may not do a lot of partnering but I do know pleasure. Although I do have a favorite memory of what I personally think sex is supposed to be like...

I tend to be a bit shy when it comes to "sharing my carnal treasure" because I've had stupid and cruel lovers and if you haven't I must assume you are currently married to your sixth grade boyfriend or girlfriend. So I'm leery of the possibility of being wrong about people. But I took the leap to trust and found myself a deliciously pleased  instrument of mutual erotic rapture. It was like a song you've always loved and heard many times before played in a new way by a new musician who found subtle beauty no one else ever had. And as I laid exhausted in his arms out of my mind and barely in my body, reality came back to me and the shy Catholic girl who was taught that sex is dirty. And you shouldn't have sex with someone you love because you wouldn't want someone you love to think you're dirty. Would you? Well, that girl couldn't look at him. But he insisted that I did and for the first time in my life I felt like someone really saw me. I'm a middle-child, I'm convinced I'm invisible. I've spent my life wanting to be seen and he saw me like the sun shone from my pores and I was the only light in the room. My imperfections part of the moment, silly things I find embarrassing he thought cute. I felt loved. There was no doubt in my mind that the love would not last. I wasn't even sure he would love me much past the moment I disappeared from his eye line. But it was what I think sex is supposed to be. One, preferably two, or even more people who respect each other sharing their bodies without judgement, without shame, and with affection, and the common goal of physical pleasure.

In the world of feminism we call this being Sex Positive. That no one is a slut! Nothing is perverse if it is consensual. And that just because the logistics of sex, even when it is between two people of the same gender, requires one person to be giving and another receiving, both people are equal and valuable and the fulfillment of their needs essential to the act. And on my best days I can espouse those beliefs. On my worst days I believe orgasms are essentially sin demons that I must exorcise so I can live a pure and chaste life in which I do nothing but read the bible and bake cookies for orphans. Luckily today is a good day...

I want what I had that spring afternoon to come into my life again and I want if for everyone. Even Tim Gunn should he choose. Until then I shall continue to maintain stewardship of my own orgasm. Sure I've been banging the same chic for 23years, but I know what she likes. I make myself mew like a kitten and then I make myself some waffles and watch the Notebook. Because I want my woman to be happy. And I try never to lose sight of what I deserve. And you better not either, my beloved little flesh puppets. The Merry Spinster loves you and hopes you're getting your quota of moans and giggling.

The Dog Addresses the Readers 02/20/2012

Dearest friends, random humans with time to waste, and possible online predators,

I am Oliver. Those of you with small minds would call me the Merry Spinster's pet, and she my owner. But we're true companions. I love her and she loves me and no one is "owned." Although I do her the polite favor of letting her lead me on a leash when we go out, albeit begrudgingly since I pull and strain and drag her wherever we go. This would of course not be an issue if she understood that we must smell everything and see everthing  RIGHT NOW. If it takes ten seconds instead of four to get to the corner another dog will get to eat the cat turd and discarded doughnut next to stop sign.

Allow me to tell you a little about myself...I'll be nine on October 11. Which some of you know is also the birthday of Luke Perry of 90210 fame. I'm essentially blonde (breeders call the color buff) and to my mild embarrassment I am not very bright. The Merry Spinster spent hundreds of dollars taking me to trainers who one after another said, "He's the sweetest dog I've ever known. But far and away the stupidest. He just can't learn through positive reinforcement." I was grateful that the decision to use negative reinforcement was vetoed.  I've been through a lot (more on that later.) I have big doofy brown eyes and the kind of floppy ears that one expects on a Cocker Spaniel. Because I am an English Cocker Spaniel versus an American one my lady friend often imagines that my inner monologue sounds like Bert the Chimney Sweep from Mary Poppins. Personally I think I sound more like Hugh Grant.

I was five months old when I moved in with the Merry Spinster. I'd had a bunch of homes before. The first was in Phoenix. I was a birthday present for a 6 yr old girl who got bored with me and no one in the family had time for me so I lived in a kennel. My second home was in her aunt's house. There was a cat there who didn't like me and would wait for me to fall asleep and then hide my toys or scratch me. Although I wasn't to blame the cat was there first and I got the boot. After that I stayed a couple places for a week or so until I came to live with a friend of my lady. That was by far the worst home. There they beat me, and again made me live in a too small kennel and was never let out to pee or poo. I was barely ever fed and when the father in the family broke my leg no one took me to the vet. Consequently while trying to limp around I fell and broke the other one. Well, then they took me to the vet and I got kicked pretty mercilessly for how much money it cost. The friend I was living with for some reason could tolerate a man who would hit her and her children but couldn't bear to see the dog hurt. So she pretended I ran away and she gave me to the Merry Spinster.

It's a good life. She gets me. Sometimes we just sit on the couch and look at each other and I try to tell her with my eyes since I can't talk, "Oh beautiful thrower of the tennis ball, filler of the dish, she who rubs my belly and sings me songs. You are my everything. I'm sorry I'm a bit of a fuck-up who stresses you out. I love you and every day I try to be the best dog I can be."  I suspect she feels the same way. She's not perfect either. She stays out late and then yells at me if I poop in the kitchen, not giving me any credit for it not being the pre-war hardwood floors. She makes budgeting errors that mean I have to go too long between grooming appointments, currently I have some dreadlocks. She thinks reading is more fun than the dog park. And most egregiously she knows I want a family, and she continues to be single. I know I'm not a  human child. I don't need "a daddy." But I like people and she doesn't bring enough home. I guess I should admit that the one time she actively tried to bring a man into my life I bit him on the butt and peed on his shoes while he was sleeping. I didn't like him. I've got instincts about people.

I kind of think it is okay that there are just two of us in the pack. I don't think another dog or another human would understand how funny her booty dance is. And I wouldn't want to fight anyone for the food that falls on the floor. And right now I get at least 2/3 of a queen size bed although I'm only 14inches tall at the withers and weigh 26 pounds. That's the good stuff. Why mess with it if its working.

Well that is all I have to say for now. Just as long as you are clear that I am not "a pet." I am a Canine-American in a committed relationship with a human woman who is as dedicated to keeping Mitt Romney out of the White House as I am.  http://www.dogsagainstromney.com/

Yours Truly,
Oliver Sweet Baby James Martin

The Second Closest I Ever Came to Prostitution 02/27/2012

Excerpted from my unpublished book "Bounded in a Nutshell"

 When I got laid off from my high paying corporate job a few years ago I decided to write full-time. Not knowing how to do such a thing I turned to the internet and happened upon an article suggesting ways to supplement one’s unemployment checks with freelance telecommuting work. There was a list of websites for finding work and I  registered on a couple. I combed through the job postings and bid on a job writing stories for a nameless faceless website that was going to feature the adventures of a female spy and assassin in Great Britain.
 The owner of the website described the character as a female Jason Bourne. The pay was reasonable, and I felt like it was a sign of good things to come that the guy was based in Hertfordshire. The Bennett family in Pride and Prejudice lived in Hertfordshire. Nothing even tangentially connected to Jane Austen could ever be tawdry or illicit. At least that’s what I thought.
 But instead of him just giving me ideas and I would deliver copy on deadline, the owner of the website insisted that we speak over Yahoo Instant Messenger. Moments later he sent me some PDF files of a scantily clad woman with the largest ass I have ever seen in my life bending over. Then he sent me more files in which an even larger bottomed woman was sitting on man’s head. She was sitting very daintily on a toilet with her legs crossed and the man’s purple face was barely visible under her haunches. And there was a sly smile on her face. This is when my employer explained to me that his female spy assassinated targets by smothering them under her enormous ass.
 At this point I was only about 20% suspicious that this job wasn’t on the up and up. This willingness to dive into an increasingly skeevy situation was admittedly aided by the fact that he’d already sent me $100 for the first story via Paypal, before I even started. So after perusing a sample of my predecessors work I launched into creating my spy story that involved a 15 year old boy, who was a member of a family of terrorists that needed to be eliminated being killed in a classroom in front of the whole class by the Big Bottomed Gal of the Spy world.
 I did my best to work around the implausibility of the situation. Because you could never smother an able-bodied teenage boy in front of 20 other people without detection. Therefore it was a challenge to make the best of the plot points I was provided.
 As I typed I got  increasingly frantic instant messages whenever I wandered away from what he was looking for. It became abundantly clear that I was communicating with someone who was typing with one hand.  But hey, you know, I was making 40% of my previous salary on unemployment, and I had already become desperate for human companionship. So I washed down my unease with a mid-morning beer and pressed on to the end. The terrorist boy was dead. And our lady assassin strode off in her thigh high boots. Oh did I forget to mention the thigh high boots? Oops! That’s convenient.
 Although I felt I would have to avoid eye-contact with my friends for a week or so, I’d made $100 dollars for less than an hour’s work. I was just about to sign off when “the boss” sent me a message full of exclamation points offering more money to write it the way he wanted. I’d done it wrong. Finally he said, “Just describe the picture to me. Pretend you’re her. Tell me how you will kill me with your big ass. Tell me how I will die.”
 And that kiddies was the moment that I realized my first professional writing assignment was composing fetish erotica for a lonely guy in Great Britain. All my sophistication evaporated and I logged  off and refunded his money on Paypal. He attempted to contact me many times offering larger and larger sums of money. Finally I wrote him back politely declining the job. His response? “Do you have a big ass? If I met you would you sit on me?”
 I considered that a fitting entry into the life of a professional artist. We all have to decide whether we’re whores and the fair market value of our integrity. But the line isn’t usually so clearly drawn in the sand, and you don’t usually get to hopscotch around it on a summer morning.

The Right Side of History 02/29/2012


My extensive feminist reading makes me feel mildly embarrassed to be straight. I feel like I should've evolved past men. Plus men don't get what makes me awesome. My boyfriends love me in spite of my quirks not because of them. But...oh well. People are born gay. And I can't stomach anyone denying someone their rights because they choose to be true to themselves and love someone of the same sex. And I can't believe how many people of color in this country seem to have forgotten what it was like when it was our turn to be marginalized and denied our civil rights. So I grabbed my bff Audrey and we went to stand with our fellow Utahns in favor of anti-Discrimination laws that protect gays in terms of housing and employment. 72% of Utahns when polled are in favor of making sure someone can't be fired or not rented a house or apartment because they're gay or transgender. Supporters of extending protection from discrimination to gays includes official statements from the the Mormon Church and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake. If you should ever find yourself on the more conservative, judgmental, and closed-minded side of an issue than Mormons and Catholics, you should look at yourself. Mormons don't think they'll get to what I like to call "the really good heaven" if they drink coffee or see R-rated movies. And Catholics have barely apologized for their silent consent to the slave trade and platform on non-involvement in the Holocaust. We didn't stand up and say, "Hey. Not cool" when people were being enslaved and exterminated. But we believe gay people should be able to keep any job they can perform competently and live anywhere they can pay the rent. So if you find yourself in that 28% of people who don't get it there is still time for you.

I have a favorite story about an epiphany. James Carville likes to tell the story of when he read To Kill a Mockingbird as a teen. He was a white southerner and wanted blacks to shut up and sit at the back of the bus. But as he read the last page and closed Harper Lee's brilliant book he said out loud, "We're wrong. And they're right." You can change your mind about things. You can see the world through someone else's eyes and understand something you never have before. It's easy not to care about someone you see as different and to huddle together with "your own kind." Until you realize we're all the same. And we all want the same things.

When I read about the Rally for Human Dignity I was happy that it was on a Wednesday afternoon because that is the day I get off from work early. I feel lucky that I was able to stand in the Capital building and listen to community activists and the two sponsors of the defeated bill that would've given our gay family and friends the same protections under the law that the rest of us don't even question.
*Audrey and I being mistaken for a lesbian couple based on our outfits. I have decided to take that as a compliment.
* Getting there in time to get a sign to hold up. I always forget to bring a sign. And then I have sign envy.
* Writing a letter to our representatives in green ink from my Doctor Who sonic screwdriver pen
* Getting to hear a portion of Sister Dottie Dixon's routine.
* Receiving a flyer for Senator Ross Romero's farewell reception
* Learning the senator was late to the rally because he was in committee fighting some silliness that would've stopped wine tastings (First they come for the gays. Then they come for our wine)
* Seeing just how many people showed up on a Wednesday afternoon to make sure our elected officials know how we feel.

I'm a black woman in America. I know what it is like to have to tell the world that I matter and demand to be treated well. And until no one has to do that...Until universal human dignity exists we need to keep showing up. And if the people who we trust to govern us don't listen we need to vote them out. Never forget that they derive their power from the consent of the governed. We can withdraw that consent any time we want. I'm not saying it is time to pick up our muskets and dump some tea in a harbor. But it is always time to question a chuckle-head you asked to represent you, who pushes his own agenda at the expense of the rights of our neighbors and loved ones.

See ya at the next rally,
The Merry Spinster

Superheros, Super Villains, and Bitchy Women 03/05/2012


Only two kinds of people have a nemesis. (1) Superheroes/ Super villains.  (2) All women. And this is so stupid. Chris Rock once said, "Women would rule the world if they didn't hate each other so much." I have a nemesis. And I feel proud that if we had to break it down along the lines of good and evil, I'm on the good side. I don't want to fight with her. I want amazing and beautiful things for everyone I meet. I want all of you to have a big and happy life. But when someone decides to destroy something that matters to me I have to fight back. I will not waste time on the Lex Luther to my Superman. She's a just a petty woman who feels threatened by me and I can't change her. If I figure out a way to stop women from sniping at each other I will win the Nobel Peace Prize.

What I can do is prevent those of you who are parents or plan to become parents from raising Super Villains. (Most superheroes are space aliens, have been exposed to meteorites, or bitten by radioactive spiders.No one can prevent that.)

(1) Discourage your children from pursuing post-graduate degrees. The number of villains with PhDs or MDs (Dr Doom, Dr Octopus, Dr Evil, Doctor Death, etc)  convinces me that the pressure of finishing a doctoral dissertation  leads people to snap. After spending all those years studying one feels entitled to enslave the human race. Because after all aren't you smarter than everyone else. Sometimes I feel like I'm smarter than everyone else and I should be in charge. But because I only have a bachelors degree no one will let me. You can't get minions with a BA in Comparative English Literature.

(2) Don't die. Supervillains are frequently motivated by the premature death of a parent. Darth Vader was just an obnoxious teenager with a chip on his shoulder until his mother was killed by sand people. And if you do die. Don't die because of a perceived injustice. People who lose their parents because a rich and heartless man wouldn't help, spend their lives seeking revenge. People who lose their parents to cancer go into research.

(3) For the love of GOD, if you have more than one child, don't have a favorite. I always felt my parents loved my brother more. I spent two years trying to invent a machine that controlled the weather just so I could rain out his little league games, and finally be the center of attention for once. And I'm just a normal person. By all accounts I'm not insane. The desire to see the world driven to its knees is a passing fancy for me.

(4) Be middle-class. Excessive wealth leads to idle time. Idle time leads one to want to build hollowed out mountain lairs. But poverty is no good either. If you had a little brother die of pneumonia because your parents couldn't afford a doctor, you would be sorely tempted to devise grandiose schemes to acquire wealth. Middle-class people don't lay awake nights trying to think of ways to hold the world hostage and extort billions of dollars from our leaders. They just want a slightly nicer car and ten minutes a day when no one is making them do something.

(5) Be a nice person yourself. The second Green Goblin was the son of the first Green Goblin. Kids learn from their parents. If you're an asshole who wants to take over the world so will your child. And when they see you defeated they will pick up where you left off.

I may never live to see a day when some woman doesn't go out of her way to make me miserable just because she can. But we can all live in a world in which our best and brightest don't hijack nuclear warheads and use them in nefarious plans. A wise man once said, "You may say that I'm a dreamer/ But I'm not the  only one/Maybe some day you will join us..." Imagine a world in which no one has a nemesis.

Woman Thou Art Loosed 03/24/2012


So as I  lay on floor wearing a blue satin cocktail dress, hysterically sobbing, and filing my mouth with vegan whipped cream directly from the can, I thought to myself, "Well this seems to have gotten out of hand." So I have pumped the brakes on what I would call a slow meltdown.

It all started with some painfully honest conversations with my literary agent. She gently explained to me that although she really loved my book and so did most of the editors who read it, that no one wants to publish it. I've been trying to be a writer since I was six years old. I only briefly flirted with two other career choices. Lawyer and Wonder Woman. I decided at the last moment not to go to law school. And I have never had the opportunity to go to Paradise Island to compete for the job of Wonder Woman. So that leaves scratching out a living on the blank page. And that has resulted in decades of people telling me that I can't get paid to do the only thing I've ever been good at. So I found a company that makes custom order toilet paper. And I sent them ten years of rejection letters so I can wipe my ass with "noble effort" and "not what we're looking for right now" and my personal favorite "current industry trends."

Then I ran into an ex-boyfriend and the girl he dumped me for. They attempted to make small talk with me while cooing and kissing. And it went like this:
John: Hey D----- We haven't seen you in forever. How are you?
The Merry Spinster: Nigga Please! Are we doing this?!?!?!?!
John: (perplexed because he is a pasty white boy stockbroker) Umm...Huh? Doing what?
The Merry Spinster: The thing where we pretend I don't think you're a dick. Seriously. Don't talk to me.

I was tempted to turn around and see what they were saying to each other but I didn't want to ruin my theatrical stomp off or engage in the silliness .I will go to my grave annoyed that guys dump me and then act like I'm a jerk because I won't be their friend. Friends don't break up with you on your 29th birthday leaving you to cry alone while you eat an entire sheet cake and and watch The  Muppets Take Manhattan.

But just when I thought the world was done messing with me and my continued mission to hold my head up and wait for my life to turn around, it got even more irritating. I was running and some obnoxious guy was making fun of my size and how slowly I was going (I had ran/walked 6 miles by the time he saw me) and he started running along side me. A year ago I would've just started crying and turned for home. But instead I turned to him and called him an "ignorant barking dog" and started growling and bearing my teeth and  he was so freaked he turned and ran. And I ran after him for a block loudly barking. I didn't know I could run that fast. But I was pissed. And I'm glad I didn't catch him because I think I would've bitten him. And I'm an adult I shouldn't bite people. My mom worked really hard to break me of the habit when I was three. If I went back to it now she'd be very disappointed.

My mother always tells me that the older a woman gets the less she cares what people think. A woman learns after years and years of trying to make herself small and endeavoring to not offend anyone, or look the wrong way, that she has the right to be and do anything she wants. At 22 you'd never wear sandals without a pedicure. At 45 you don't care if your polish is chipped and if someone doesn't like it, they don't have to look at your damn feet. If someone makes a remark about your cleavage they're only doing it because they wish they had your tits. And if someone says you talk too much they're upset because you're making them look stupid and boring. Because my mother says so many crazy things I'm not always good at filtering out the wisdom. So I didn't really get this until recently. But she's right. I'm only 35 but I've been to hell and back and no one gets to make me feel bad. Especially if all I'm doing is pursuing my dream or wasted love on them or I'm just enjoying the feeling of a spring day on my face while I train for my first race.  I have a shitty little life that I've made the best of. For the most part I'm a happy person.  And if you make me moody I will chase you and trying to bite you. And then I'll write about it. And then I'll spend six years plotting to sleep with all your friends. Don't let what happened to the three people mentioned above, happen to you.

The Merry Spinster

The Jedi 03/25/2012

I think if anyone dates long enough they’re bound to meet some odd balls. But I maintain that the number of crazy people in the world greatly increases in density and intensity the closer you get to one D.C. Martin.  But the prize of my crazy collection is a young man known only as the Jedi. We have a light rail system in Salt Lake City that mostly services people who work downtown but hate to park, and homeless people too smelly to be allowed to sleep at the library all day. So I tend to avoid eye-contact when I ride. But one day I looked up from my book to see Ashton Kutcher sitting across from me. Okay…not the real Ashton Kutcher, but a reasonable facsimile. And he was smiling at me.
 So forgetting that I’m chubby and socially awkward and my hair never does the right thing, I decided to flirt. And it went amazing. I was so drunk on just talking to him and him not fleeing that I proffered my phone number and asked him if he might want to get coffee with me sometime.
“I can’t. I have sworn my life to the Jedi and they do not allow me date. A Jedi cannot know love,” was his quite unexpected reply. He got off the train at the next stop and I spent the next week telling anyone who would listen how I had been rejected in a very creative and interesting way. “I have sworn my life to the Jedi” is much more interesting than a fictional girlfriend or fatal disease.
 I figured I’d never see him again but there he was the next week on a different train and at a different time of day. He sat next to me and said, “I have spoken to the Jedi Counsel and they have decided that we may see each socially. But we can’t have sex unless they all agree that it won’t affect my allegiance to the Jedi order.”
 I have to assume my mouth was agape and I was displaying surprise because he asked me if I was okay and whether I wanted some spaghetti while pointing to an Italian restaurant near the station. I hate Italian food but it hardly seemed like the time to discuss it. There were much more interesting topics to cover.
 In our first month of dating I learned the following things about how one lives as a Jedi in Utah in 2005.#
1) Jedi don’t drink hot liquids
2) They live in harmony with all life and are vegan
3) They consider Moab and other regions of Southern Utah to be a fine substitute for the Dagobah system for the purpose of finishing their training.
4) Working in IT and software engineering provides a safe place for such an unconventional lifestyle.
5) Being a Jedi is no weirder than being a Scientologist. The only difference is that most of the world is familiar with the source material for the religion.
6) George Lucas is nice to people who follow him to the dentist even if they’re dressed like Darth Tyranus. He’s a cool guy.
7) The Jedi Council is a really good rec league basketball team.
8) Love and sex are a temptation and distraction from one’s training and will prevent you from bringing balance to The Force.
9) Masturbation is strictly forbidden a Jedi because he needs to conserve energy and focus.
10) Naming your dog Yoda is considered inappropriate irreverence and you may be shunned.
 With so much ground to cover it is easy to see why it took him more than a month to kiss me. Once he did it was amazing and like many a woman before me, I was able to ignore the onslaught of crazy. Including having to visit him in a burn unit because he’d had a mishap while trying to construct a light saber using corrosive chemicals that had been incidentally heated by mirrors in the desert sun. I didn’t even walk away when he blew off a date because he had to go and settle a mining dispute in another galaxy at the last minute.
 He had the best excuse for being emotionally unavailable that any of my friends had ever heard. And we rationalized that he was a homeowner, he had a job, he had impeccable hygiene, and didn’t seem dangerous. Plus he was the best looking guy who was ever going to date me and he smelled really good.
 The last straw was when he informed me that the Jedi Council had decided that we shouldn’t have sexual intercourse because  they felt like I was giving off a Padme Amadala vibe and they were afraid I’d turn their sweet little Anakin into Darth Vader.
 Now I am not a woman to be denied my earthly pleasures so I refused to bow to the orders of six guys who were all divorced closeted woman haters. So I pushed the issue and more than once and heard such sweet nothings from my beloved as “Woman. Get off me! What the Fuck! I said No!” After my final attempt I texted my best gal pal this simple message, “The Force is strong with that one.”
 Although the official cause of our break-up was that he met a hotter girl and he ditched both me and the Jedi to make her happy. I feel the real cause of death was that he didn’t find my Yoda impression funny. I can’t be with someone who doesn’t think I’m funny.

The Closest I ever came to being a Prostitute 03/26/2012


        The life of a writer tends to be a very impecunious one. And before I discovered the joys of soulless corporate drone work, I struggled to make ends meet.

 I have a great phone voice which made me very successful doing telemarketing.  Plus the primary skill set required to be a telemarketer is fluency in English, rudimentary reading skills, and the ability not to internalize rejection. The parallels between the two careers are striking.

 But as much as I love having strangers tell me that “If you assholes ever call here again I’m going to get into my car drive to where you are, break down the door and rip off your head and shit down your neck,” I felt compelled to find a new job. I scoured the newspapers and found one…Phone sex.

 I made it through the interview despite being a virgin at the time with a knowledge of sex only slightly more compressive than that of a seventh grader. And I made it through three days of training without freaking out and running out of the room. I think my saving grace was that the stereotype of the middle-aged housewife wearing sweatpants is ultimately true to life. Lonely people of the world I come to tell you that the lusty busty blonde on the other end most likely looks like Roseanne Barr. I felt young and sexy in comparison.

 There is a pervert for every perversion, and those were the phone calls that paid the bills. So there was only one rule at the company, “Don’t Laugh.”  Acting disgusted was even acceptable because there was a 50/50 chance that the customer would be aroused by you implying he was dirty and/or bad. But you didn’t laugh.

 Most of the  phone calls were pretty standard. Naughty school girl in the principal’s office. Lonely housewife and the gardener. Secretary and the boss getting it on after hours. The days became pretty routine and I eventually began to feel like I was working in a factory that manufactured remote orgasms…at least until the dolphin phone call.

 Mike lived in Florida and was really into dolphins, and not the way ten year old girls like dolphins. I hope to never see the kind of pictures he must have doodled in his notebooks, because Mike was sexually aroused by dolphins. And he wanted me to role-play what it would be like to have sex with a woman who was half dolphin. I squeaked and did my best Flipper impression and managed not to laugh. I was offered a promotion and was allowed to assist in the training sessions for new hires. After a month of work I was climbing the ladder. The dolphin call really put me on the map. And then two weeks later I was out of work. Because I broke the rules. I laughed at a customer.

 I was reading the Bell Jar in between calls when the phone beeped, alerting me that I had a customer on the other end.

Me: Hello. This is Amber. What’s your Name?

Bobby: Umm…Robert. No wait- Bobby. You should call me Bobby.

Me: Is that what you want?

Bobby (slow and breathily); Yeah

Me: Okay. Bobby. Oohh. That’s sexy. That’s my favorite name.
Bobby, what’s your fantasy?

Bobby: I like sandwiches.

Me (warily) : Yeah I do too. Sandwiches are good.
Bobby: No. Sandwiches aren’t good. They’re amazing. They’re sexy. I really like sandwiches.

Me: Okay. What kind of sandwiches do you like?

Bobby: I like Amber sandwiches. I want a peanut-butter and jelly and Amber sandwich

Me: You can have one. Just tell me how to make it.

Bobby: Open the jar of grape jelly and put it down the right side of your pussy.

Me: Okay. Ooh the jelly is cold. I just took it out of the fridge.

Bobby: NO IT’S NOT! It’s a new jar. You can’t use an old jar of jelly.

Me: Oh baby you’re right. I’m sorry. It is a new jar. I had to have a big strong man like you open it for me.

Bobby: Yeah. You’re right. Now open the peanut-butter.

Me: I’m doing it.

Bobby: Lick the peanut-butter off the foil seal.

Me: Yeah. Okay I am.
Bobby: Now spread it down the left side of your pussy. NOW STICK THE SIDES TOGETHER. Make the sandwich!

Me: Okay I am. I just did.

Bobby: Is the peanut-butter crunchy? Or is it creamy (orgasm-like sounds.)

Me: (Uncontrollable laughter) It’s…Oh fuck man. What is going on here?

 Bobby hung up on me. And I laughed for almost five minutes straight.

 All the other women stopped paying attention to their calls to see what was wrong with me. If I’d broken the first rule of Fight Club I wouldn’t have felt more like I was about to get beaten up. And it got worse when Bobby called back and complained to my boss. I had to be made an example of. I was fired in front of everyone and reprimanded for my unprofessional behavior while I boxed up my stuff.

 I took my severance pay and partied for a few weeks before I ran out and got a new telemarketing job. My improved skills in customer service really came in handy and I made some pretty serious bonus money.

 To this day whenever I feel like I’m being asked to do something ridiculous or something that makes me feel like I’m selling my integrity
 at a bargain price, I ask myself, “Are they asking you to pretend your vagina is a PB&J? No? Then suck it up.”

I Am Not Afraid of Mark Ruffalo 05/28/2012

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to any of you that I was a terribly neurotic and fearful little girl…And a bit of hysteric as a teenager…And what could be fairly described as a nervous and emotionally unstable young adult. I wasn’t always the pulled together woman of the world holding it down like she’s trying to steal total awesomness’ lunch money. She said, pausing for laughter. Over the years I’ve managed to kick most of my lifelong fears: Heights; Fire; Death; Dogs; and The Incredible Hulk. Of those five I’m still only afraid of fire. 

My fear of fire was sparked by two events. The first was a very grisly fire safety assembly in first grade. A man who had received third degree burns over 95% of his body sat five feet away from me and explained what it was like to feel his left eye burn and the way he clawed at his face to put it out and essentially pulled out his own eye. It took him nearly an hour to tell an auditorium of children 5-11 years old about the horrors of nearly being burned alive. I assure you I didn’t sleep for three days. I kept a bucket of water in my room for a year. And I made my father buy me a rope ladder and go over fire safety plans with me weekly. The second precipitating event was my older brother’s habit of dunking his hand in rubbing alcohol and then lighting it on fire and chasing me around the house. I’m sure your first question is,  “Why would anyone light themselves on fire just to torture their little sister?” The answer is, my brother has the ability to commit to things even when they are batshit crazy and ill-advised. Trust me. This is for the most part actually an admirable quality. But it didn’t help my fear of fire.

I beat my fear of heights on accident. I got a Self Hypnosis for Weight Loss audiobook and listened to it for a month. A month later I was still fat but interestingly enough…no longer afraid of heights. It is nothing for me to walk to the edge of a cliff and lean over. But I’m still fat…

I kicked my fear of death by being diagnosed with a series of life-threatening diseases. Being sick sucks. But death is as normal as being born or going poop. Everybody does it.

I stopped being afraid of dogs when a neighbor and good friend forced me to spend time with her dog. A year later I got my own. Those who remember the terror I experienced growing up whenever the Putman Family dog Muffin got loose and chased me, were quite incredulous that I was myself a dog owner. I must confess Muffin was not at all tougher than her name. She likely weighed less than 10lbs and was white and fluffy.

But my fear of the Incredible Hulk still caused me to hide my face and flee the room. Until this week I barely tolerated the comic books or clips of the show whenever I accidentally landed on one because someone was profiling Bill Bixby or Lou Ferrigno. 

When I was a little girl my family really loved the Incredible Hulk television show. I on the hand would scream and hysterically weep whenever I even heard the theme song. I would hide behind the couch, and if that didn't work I would go in my room and hide under the bed. But everyone in my family is a bit hard of hearing so I would still hear Banner warn people not to make him angry. And I would think to myself, "Why do people keep making him mad? Why doesn't everybody know about him? It has to be on the news." I mean, sure my family could've chosen to to watch something we all enjoyed. But well, that's just crazy talk. Eventually my mom bought me a Walkman that I listened to during the show. 

Now this probably seems like a pretty typical childhood fear that one would grow out of. You would think huh? But I didn't. I was always more than a little scared of the Hulk.

My brother went with me to see the first Hulk movie starring Eric Bana. I made it through the film without crying but I was pretty scared and my brother actually had to let me hold his hand a little.  Because I don't believe in giving into one's fears I went alone to see the Edward Norton Hulk movie. I thought I could handle it. I was wrong. I was sitting next to a little old man and he heard me whimpering and noticed my shaking and offered me his hand. I don't know that little old man's name but I am grateful that he kept me from wasting $8 on a movie ticket, because I was going to have to leave. After that I stayed away from anything related to the Hulk. Until yesterday. 

I was desperate to see the Avengers. And again I went alone. And miraculously I enjoyed the movie. I was a little edgy but I worked it out. How? I don't know. Maybe I finally got it. The Hulk is a hero. He only beats the crap out of the bad guys. Inside he's just a nerdy guy who hates injustice and who turns the other cheek until he runs out of cheeks and then he turns into a enormous green rage monster. I always suspected that my fear of the Hulk was rooted in my fear of most people. That they're all nice and harmless until they show you there other side. But something about how Mark Ruffalo played Bruce Banner made me actually look forward to him turning into the Hulk. I wanted to see this seemingly mild-mannered guy let it out and harness his power and strength into something heroic. I'm not scared anymore. 
Interestingly enough, Chris Evans who plays the ever so dreamy Captain America also plays Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four. But when he played a man made of fire it didn't make me less afraid of fire. Maybe it's okay to be afraid of fire. Fire should be scary. 

Yours Bravely,
The Merry Spinster

How to Win at Russian Roulette 06/07/12


I would like to think that you my dear reader live a life in which playing Russian Roulette is a metaphorical activity that you engage in. Or you're doing it ironically with a loved one and a six pack of soda that fell on the floor. But should you ever find yourself with a revolver, one bullet, and a motherfucker who isn't backing down, here is how you can "win" at Russian roulette.

Always try to load the gun. Why do you ask? Because you can do the one thing that guarantees you don't become a cautionary tale about wasted youth...PALM THE BULLET. The other person will think it is loaded and will maybe fire once. Then you'll fire, and well...if they fire a second time. Just run away. Anyone playing Russian roulette is crazy, but anyone who fires TWICE is crazy and ready to die. There is no scenario in which you are alone with a gun and a crazy person ready to die, that ends well. But assuming you and your playmate are merely nuts and not ready to die, the trigger will not be pulled six times revealing that you palmed the bullet.

If you can't palm the bullet play the odds. GO FIRST! You'll have a 1 in 6 chance of ending up dead. Go second and you have a 1 in 5 chance of everyone you know standing around your mom's house eating potato salad asking, "Wow. What was going through his/her head? This is so surprising. I always thought he/she would die from eating supermarket sushi." If you decide to take that third shot you have a 1 in 4 chance i.e. 25% chance of becoming what everyone assumes is just an urban lesson. The probability of dying is 100% if you went second and you're the 6th person to fire the gun. This is of course if you play  No Spin Russian Roulette. And I personally think spinning the cylinder takes a moment of stupidity and takes away some of the drama.

I maintain that playing Russian Roulette is a no-win proposition on par with trying to win a land war in Asia, or a fighting with a lover in an IKEA. I only have six pieces of advice to pass on...
1) No matter how hungry you are, don't eat under-cooked chicken.
2) Never play a game of chance with someone named after a city e.g. Chicago Eddie
3) Comfortable shoes are more important than cute shoes
4) Don't fuck with the middle-east. They call it the graveyard of empires for a reason. But I'm from the mid-west and I'm pretty sure you can take them.
5) When faced with an ugly baby, LIE.
6) Don't play Russian Roulette. But if you must...PALM THE BULLET.

In Which I Compare Jet skis and Babies 07/1/2012


I love children. I truly do. And I love mothers. My mother is coincidentally a mother. And many of my friends have children. What I hate is the worship of motherhood. Marilyn Monroe was once asked by a reporter if she and her new husband planned to have children. She replied, "Of course. Manhood means many things, but womanhood means just one."  And I am presented with that notion nearly everyday of my life.

Yesterday, I went to a BBQ thrown by a coworker. And every person there insisted on introducing me to their spouse and children. Although I was tempted to declare, "I don't fucking care. I'm here for free beer and food. I don't need to meet your fuck trophies i.e. children. And the only thing I will have in common with your spouse is that we both know you."  But I didn't. I dutifully shook hands and said pleasantries.

The older I get the more I feel like there isn't a place for me in conventional society because I'm unmarried and childless. I can't engage in conversation with most women my age because they want to talk about their children. And although I know lots of children and have a niece and nephews, I know very little about them. I remember being a child, but I was such an abnormal one that it provides me with no context. So all I can do is nod. When someone brags about one of their child's milestones I have to ask if it is average or exceptional. I want to grab childless women who can speak at great length about diaper genies and what percentile a child is in and scream, "When did you learn this? Why have you made yourself a conversational handmaiden to someone else's life journey?"

I would like to have children. I just haven't. Mostly my life isn't conducive to children. I can't financially support one without a spouse. And I have no access to sperm, which is a key ingredient in human reproduction. No man in my life wants to have a child with me. Plus, I'm not conventionally sexy so I can't steal it from a one-night stand, because you have to know me for while before you want to have sex with me. And sperm banks are pricey. Moreover, I have a long history of mental and physically illness that makes me unqualified to adopt. So there are times that I ache for a child and feel cheated. But then there is the other 90% of my life when I'm gleefully childless. And I accept that the fact that I'm 35 and have let most of my childbearing years go unused because on some level, maybe unconsciously I knew I didn't necessarily need to have children to be happy.

What I can't tolerate is that being a parent is considered the natural state for an adult. There is something subversive about me conducting my life without panic or despair at my childlessness, and on occasion flaunting how happy I am.

The best way to explain how I feel most days is that imagine you don't have a jet ski. And you've never been on a jet ski. But every single person you know has 1 to 3 jet skis and it is all they ever talk about. They post ten pictures a week of their jet skis on Facebook. You can try to engage them in discussions of other topics but know that the conversation will return quickly to jet skis. The moment they got they got the jet ski they lost all interest in movies, music, art, or current events. If it doesn't involve their jet ski, it is frivolous and silly and if you had a jet ski you wouldn't waste time on such pointless things. That is how I feel about mothers.

All the celebrity magazines ever  focus on is what celebrity is pregnant. There are weekly unsolicited uterus updates on Jennifer Aniston. She is a rich beautiful movie star. She travels the world and buys mansions in which she usually lives with a handsome and interesting man. But she doesn't have a baby so her life is a miserable failure.

Given the opportunity I will always playfully nibble on a baby's chubby leg and try to make it laugh. And I want to always be a good ear for a friend. But although motherhood is a natural human experience and I'm told a fulfilling one, I don't find anything unnatural about a person not having children. So it would decrease the amount of time I spend rolling my eyes if we all talked about something else from time to time.

The Merry Spinster and her Empty Womb

The Secret Lives of Aunt Bea(s)...Merry Spinsters 07/7/2012

The death this week of Andy Griffith got me thinking about a woman I haven't really thought about since I was a kid...Aunt Bea.  I was never all that into Mayberry and her residents. The Andy Griffith Show was just too wholesome for me. But I've begun to think no one, not even a fictional person could've been as sweet and innocent as Aunt Bea.

I suspect that Aunt Bea craved the flesh of a man. She fell for every medicine man and con artist who passed through Mayberry. Some guy would toss a little flattery her way and she was ready to run off with him. And of course Andy being the sheriff, would sniff out that the guy was no good and ruin it. She was once even carried off by a mountain man. When Andy found her she was contentedly cooking and cleaning for him, but the mountain man was desperate to get rid of her. I imagine that Aunt Bea after the initial protests of a well-brought up and Christian woman, enthusiastically submitted to sexual depravity. And the poor mountain man could not keep up with 60 plus years of concentrated lust unleashed combined with all those nice casseroles, and sent her back to town.

Does anyone else wonder about Aunt Bea's obsession with food? What if Aunt Bea was a feeder. For those of you who don't read as much as I do...a feeder is someone who gets sexual gratification from watching other people eat. But not just a nice meal. They must stuff and stuff people to the point of discomfort. It is essentially an offshoot of S&M.

Goober Pyle: Aunt Bea brought me by one of her butterscotch pecan pies. I was just going to eat one piece but then she made me eat the whole thing. And then she invited me back to the house and made me fried chicken, mashed potatoes and country gravy, and peach cobbler with a scoop of homemade ice cream on top.
Opie: Did she eat?
Goober Pyle: No she just watched me. She kept filling the plate. SHE JUST KEPT WATCHING ME!!!!!
Opie: She watches us all. But I'm just a kid. She sends me out to play. But the others...oh the others. Poor Floyd the barber. He is her weak plaything of pleasure. She fed him an entire meatloaf last week and then the pies. THE PIES!!!!!!

But maybe it's not the food or the bad boys that kept Aunt Bea in a good mood...I once saw a t-shirt that said, "Maybe your sad spinster aunt, is a happy lesbian." Maybe Aunt Bea and her best-friend Clara were more than just friends. Their other friend Myrtle definitely felt left out a lot of the time. Bea and Clara knew each other since elementary school. They were a matched set. But maybe the time and the place never let them explore their relationship.

Most people have a rich internal life that you don't know anything about. Except maybe for Angelina Jolie. I think we know everything about her. She's very pretty and makes a ton of money doing something she likes. She has a handsome fiance who seems like a nice guy who treats her well. Six beautiful kids and she travels the world helping refugees and lives in a french chateau. Her external life is too rich for her to have a rich internal life. If she is somewhere in the world creating the binding theological concept that will unite people of all faiths and bring peace to this world, or even thinking up a really good tiramisu recipe, well, I'm going to kill us all. That would be unfair. But everyone else...there is more than meets the eye. I even think my dog has a rich internal life. When he spends ten minutes staring at the wall I like to think he is remembering his puppyhood in Arizona and longing for desert mesas and dreaming of the day I drop something really delicious on the floor.

When I see a woman like Aunt Bea I like to imagine what is going on below the surface. Maybe Aunt Bea wasn't a lesbian or lusty wench with an uncontrollable hunger for bad boys. Maybe she was just a lonely old maid looking for love. But I think my feeder theory holds water. Seriously!?!?!? Who is that into making pies? I don't do anything that often that doesn't lead to an orgasm.

Making pies and making eyes at bad boys,
The Merry Spinster

Everybody Poops 12/06/2012

The women in my office are trying to out me as a "Public Pooper." For reasons I am unclear on most of the women in my office refuse to poop at work. I on the other hand have tons of health problems and see poop as a triumph, not just of the body, but of the spirit. I poop because I am alive. I poop because I eat. I poop because I am free. Therefore I am defiant in my instance that when I get that special feeling I WILL find 3 convenient minutes and use the provided facilities.

 I recall never pooping at school when I was in high school. And I really doubt anyone else ever did. I would hold it all day. And I think some of my general surliness can be blamed on it. I may not have turned to drinking if my days had not been spent in intestinal turmoil as I clenched and listened to my body cry out for release. I wish I could say I didn't carry that particular neurosis into my adult life but I can’t. A few years back I went on a four day trip with a male friend. An attractive male friend, but just a friend nonetheless. So I shouldn't have cared if I pooped around him. But I did. And the only way I could guarantee that I never did was to eat lots of cheese. I am lactose-intolerant and even a little cheese blocks me up. I ate cheese three meals a day and all the snacks. My belly became swollen with gas. My bowels became so backed up that farts could not escape and died in my insides gurgling their quest for freedom.  On the fourth day I had a muffin and a second cup of coffee and the cogs began to work again. I pretended to take a really long shower to cover up the shame of my humanity.

I will never be that nuts again. I live my life by many codes and one of them is, “When ya gotta go. Ya’ gotta go.” But I take the appropriate actions to cause as little olfactory offense as possible. I do a courtesy flush the moment my deposit enters the bowl. I always used the bathroom furthest from the others that gets the least traffic. I use the spray that neutralizes the odor. Plus, I eat a plant based diet so to be honest with you my poopy doesn't smell really all that bad. I have tried to not rub my free-spirit and joie de vivre in the face of the others. But I frequently hear the following, “I think someone might have gone number 2 in the handicapped bathroom!?!?!?! Who does that at work? Gross.” Or “The seat was really warm. I think someone was you know, in there a while. Like seriously.” And the eyes keep pointing my way. But I do not speak up. If they want to accuse me they must say it. They must face me and ask, “Umm…Are you the one who is pooping at work?” And I shall stand up to my full height of 5 foot 8.75 inches. Puff out my ample bosom. Take a deep breath and give a bellow worthy of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” and say, “You’re GODDAMN RIGHT I DID.” You know why? Because everybody poops. It is even the title of a very popular children’s book. 

Happy Pooping,
The Merry Spinster

Jane Austen...Merry Spinster 9/25/2011

Jane Austen is responsible for some of the worst romantic decisions of my life. In her most popular book Pride and Prejudice she gives readers Mr Darcy to fall in love with. He is handsome but not a pretty boy. He is wealthy, dashing, and noble. But he is rude to our heroine Elizabeth Bennett. He repeatedly insults her and her family. If Lizzy was one of my girlfriends I would've told her "He's Just Not That Into You."  But in the end he is. REALLY!?!?!?!?! And therein lies the programming. No matter how much of a jerk a guy acts ,I think I can win him over with my awesomeness, the same way Lizzy landed Mr Darcy. But I will forgive Sister Jane because we Merry Spinsters need to stick together.

Jane Austen wrote the outline for every romantic comedy you've ever seen and most that you've ever read. The woman has been dead for nearly 200 years and is still one of the most widely read authors in English literature. And conventional wisdom says that was achieved at the cost of her ever getting married. She managed to write six novels before dying at age 41. It is unlikely she could've written with a husband and children. And she was smart enough to know that, and despite offers of marriage stuck to her guns.

I have no doubt that Jane, like myself, endured a shitload of teasing about being a spinster. It is not for sissies. And in her time an unmarried woman was even more of a joke because a woman's sole occupation was to acquire the best husband possible. In the eyes of her family and friends she must have seemed like a failure. But if she cared, I've never seen any evidence of it. And isn't that amazing? To be so certain of yourself and who you are, and what you want, that no one can convince you that you're wrong.  I don't plan to die anytime soon. But if I do, I will run up to Jane Austen in the afterlife and ask her how she did it. And I promise I will find a way to get the answer back to you.

I Googled Spinster 9/25/2011

You don't need a husband, but you do need a life. I've never been married. And that is something I have only about 50% control over. I've had a few chances to marry people who sucked. I could currently be married to someone I either didn't love, or someone I loved who treated me poorly. So, short of lowering my standards, there is nothing that I can do to get myself married. All I can do is have a amazing life that I love.

I choose to be happy in this life.

In Shakespeare's time it was said that unmarried women would be condemned to "lead apes into hell." I know that is supposed to be an insult but it actually sounds pretty cool. I mean how badass would it be to lead apes anywhere? But it does bring up one of my pet peeves with being unmarried, the stigma of it.

I reject the stigma attached to being a woman in her thirties who has never married. I am phenomenal and odds are so are you.

*I'm brilliant.

* Kinda Cute, if a more than a little chubby.

* I'm worldly and well read.

* I'm crafty

* I'm a faithful Chicago Bears fan

* I'm a great cook.

* I'm hilarious.

* I'm an animal rights advocate

* I'm the world's foremost expert in guilty pleasure music.

* I love old people, children, and dogs.

The only reason I'm not married is...Well...Simply because I'm just not. I do still assume I will get married at some point in my life. But it would be silly of me to not live in the meantime. I plan to be happy in this life, the one I am living right now. Join me will you?

I am a Spinster! I am reclaiming the pejorative.