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.