why do my neighbors yell so much?

– They are trying to compete with my dog for the coveted title of Yappiest Yapface of 2019.

– Their apartment is filled with spiders and they react to spiders the same way I do: yelling until someone comes and rescues me the spider.

– They believe that he who prays loudest gets the most attention from Imaginary Sky Daddy.

– They’re actually a bunch of Siamese cats inhabiting human bodies, and it’s always ten minutes past feeding time.

– They were brought up in a cave behind a giant, roaring waterfall and had to yell everything just to be heard. The habit stuck.

– They have Fatal Ear Freezing Syndrome and have to wear ear protection at all times to keep from dying of the dreaded Freeze-Ear.

– They’re professional yodelers. Really bad ones.

– Their family hobby is acting out that popular meme of the Orange County Choppers guys yelling at each other.

– They all have terrible spatial awareness and keep stubbing their toes on every corner and piece of furniture they come near.

– Their carpet is full of tacks.

– They’re from Massachusetts and they’re also drunk a lot (not that people from Massachusetts are any more predisposed to getting drunk than anyone from anywhere else in New England (there’s not much to do here). But, in my experience, many people from Massachusetts DO seem predisposed to high levels of…personal loudness. NOT ALL, but many).

ocmeme

I didn’t make this meme, but I have lived this too many times to count.

chasing ghosts

(Let’s just pretend I haven’t posted in six months, mmkay? Mmkay.)

I believe in ghosts. Living things are made of energy and I believe some of that energy can cling to places, objects, and even people. As long as you invest your own energy into carrying the memory of someone, they’re living on in you, even if only a tiny bit.

We’re all haunted, for better or worse, by the people we choose to put energy into remembering, then. I am haunted by my Nana on the daily – whether by seeing a bird or flower she liked, smelling a scent that I associate with her, or thinking of a specific time I was with her. My paternal grandmother, Marion, haunts me often by way of my love for fiber arts and textiles. She was an amazing knitter and seamstress, and had aspirations in her early days of becoming a fashion designer. When I see a beautifully made piece of clothing or I sit down to knit for a while, her energy is there in my hands, if not my head, making me itch to create.

Can you be haunted by someone you’ve never met, though? Someone you have no memories of to feed your own energy into? I think in some cases, yes. Maybe you visit a place where someone’s energy is still clinging for whatever reason, like in a classic ghost story of a grisly death or unrequited love, where someone’s spirit can’t leave. Their energy might not even be trapped there due to bad circumstances – maybe it was a place that person loved so deeply or made it so much their own that they willed part of themselves to stay there long after their body had left. Perhaps there’s an item that was so important to someone that it ended up absorbing some of their energy. Whether a cherished object or a utilitarian one, the things we surround ourselves with and use on a daily basis can certainly carry echoes of us far into the future, I believe.

If you’ve gotten this far you’re probably wondering why I’m even blathering on about this woo shit. It’s not my normal LOL-fest, after all (please read that with the intended sarcasm. On no plane of existence would I have the audacity to judge my own writing an actual LOL-fest. Apparently I DO exist in a space where I refer to things as LOL-fests now, though? I’m not sure I’m ok with that, but I’m quickly sliding headlong into a black hole of parenthetical digression and I need to back away from that particular event horizon before it sucks me in and disintegrates me. I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about space lately, can you tell?).

Where was I? Oh yes, explaining why I’m talking about ghosty woo things.

So, the reason I bring all this up is that I’m being haunted. The spirit of one of my great-great-grandfathers, Harlan Godfrey, has been all up in my grill for quite some time now.

I’ve always been really interested in old stuff. I was never really great in history class in school because that involved a lot of memorizing names and dates, which put me right to sleep. But old STUFF? Stuff you can hold in your hands, or at least see in the context of the time in which it was created / used? That’s always been my jam. I wanted to be a paleontologist, then an archaeologist, for most of my childhood. Eventually I figured out that both professions a) spend a lot of time doing very physical work in some pretty inhospitable places (or worse, are in academia), and b) are not known for making big bucks. Or any bucks, really. Being physically uncomfortable and being poor have both always been pretty high on my Do Not Want list, so I eventually moved on to other dreams (none of which I have actually achieved either, but at least I learned to be more realistic? That’s a useful skill, surely). My love of old stuff and old stories never really went away, though. Eventually I started channeling it into genealogy. This was especially satisfying to me because it combined my love of old stuff with my ridiculously strong life-long urge to know other people’s business.

For a long time my genealogy fixes came from my Nana. She had lots of old pictures, lists of names and birth dates, and she knew where most of the bodies were buried. Literally. Her husband, my Bampa, was long gone at that point – he died when I was 11 – but she had stayed in close touch with that side of the family and had a lot of knowledge of their ancestry as well. My mom has always been interested in family history too, and with the advent of sites like Ancestry, being able to build an actual family tree and show her all kinds of cool stuff like census records and draft cards got her sort of sucked into my project as well. We ended up going to a family reunion together a few summers ago – NOT something that either of us would normally volunteer for, as we’re both card-carrying introverts – but several very elderly family members were going to be there and we were interested in seeing if they could confirm some details of some people for us. At the reunion my mom’s aunt Jan (my grandfather’s youngest sister) mentioned that she had some books I might be interested in, and that she’d get them to me eventually.

The following summer, Jan showed up one day with a smallish clear plastic tote bag – the kind that gift sets of shampoo and body wash come in. Rather than bottles, it was filled with small books.

“Here’s something to get you started. I want these back eventually, so please be careful with them,” she said, handing them over. I pulled out the first little book, smaller than most peoples’ cell phones today, and flipped open the cover.

‘Diary of Harlan F. Godfrey, 1910’

I went home that afternoon and lost at least three hours reading. The entries are all entirely utilitarian. Harlan was a subsistence farmer in turn-of-the-century Vermont. He used his diaries to keep track of weather, which heifers were bred and which ones were sold, when he bought feed and supplies and how much he paid for them, etc. Not exactly riveting reading for most people, but for whatever reason, I was hooked. I read through all the diaries over the space of a few days, then proceeded to bend the ear of every family member who showed even the remotest inkling of interest about them.

Jan’s words kept bouncing around in my head – “I want these back eventually”. But…but what if I some day had a burning need to know how much Harlan had paid for a hogshead of cracked corn at Chase’s store in Bradford in September of 1910? She wanted the books back, but I couldn’t handle the idea of losing that resource. I needed to preserve my hoard of the most banal treasure imaginable. So I decided to do the only reasonable thing, given the situation:

I decided to transcribe it. All six books worth.

It should be noted that, like with most plans I come up with, I decided I was going to do it and then immediately started four other things, which lead to three further projects, which in turn brought on an avalanche of roughly 17.6 million additional tasks. Before I knew it, a year had gone by. And then another one. That is 100% how I’ve made to to age 39, by the way. I swear the last time I looked, I was 27. This whole ‘time compressing as you age’ thing is pretty fucked, especially if your brain was pre-wired to have no real concept of time passing like mine is.

Anyway. Jan still hadn’t asked for the books back a couple weeks ago when the second anniversary of me having them whizzed past, but I know Jan and she is as dragon-esque with her hoard of precious old things as I am, so I know she won’t forget and I won’t be able to put her off for long once she decides she wants the books back.

So, last Friday when I had something else I really needed to be doing and thus was fair gagging for a procrastinatory escape hatch, I pulled up a Google doc, cracked open the first diary, and started transcribing. It’s going faster than I originally figured it would – it takes me about 30 minutes to get through a month of entries, provided I don’t run into any super scrawly bits that I have to try to decipher. Harlan’s penmanship was pretty decent but he wrote with a pencil, the point of which wears down periodically, making things harder and harder to read…to the point where I’ll find myself muttering ‘sharpen your god damned pencil, Gramps’ like he could somehow hear me from 110 years in the past. His grammar is also pretty suspect, which can be kind of amusing at times. He wrote very much how he would have spoken (must be genetic?), so there are entries like “Done choars this F”, meaning he did the chores this forenoon, and “drawed wood all day”, meaning not that he’s drawing pictures of wood but that he’s dragging it out of the forest with his horses. My favorite is that, almost every Sunday, his entry is “here to home”. Sometimes it’s accompanied by notes of people having visited that day, but mostly it’s just that one simple statement that sounds so…content. Like he’s taking a well-earned day off after a week of hard work. I mean, for all I know he spent his Sundays beating his kids and kicking the chickens…but I’d find it quite surprising if that were the case.

What used to be Harlan’s farm, and then his son Floyd (my great-grandfather)’s farm, is about a ten minute ride from where I live. It’s a spot I have been inexplicably drawn to for many years – since way before I knew which property my ancestors had owned, since before I stopped to look at the gravestones in the little cemetery tucked up on the side hill and noticed many names I recognized from my family tree. All that energy, all that love of place that three or four generations of my ancestors worked into the side of that hill… it’s like someone strikes a kind of cosmic tuning fork and the bits of those people that live on in my blood start singing that haunting note and I have to go back to harmonize for a little while.

IMG_20190823_100004901

Mmm, so old. Very book.

shine on

I made some cupcakes for work this week. They’re Valentines themed. Mostly it was all an excuse to teach myself how to make Swiss buttercream and play around with piping, if I’m honest. There was very little altruism toward my coworkers involved. It was more a case of “I will make these pretty things and give them to people, then enjoy them telling me how pretty they are”. And my therapist would tell me that there’s nothing inherently wrong with that motive, but admitting that was my motivation makes me feel like at least six different flavors of Awful Human Being.

But I digress.

So I made these cupcakes. Aren’t they pretty?

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Delicious emulsified sugar and fat

You can’t see it so well in the picture but the actual cake part is colored – it has swirls of white, pink and red. In order to get a true red cake batter, I had to use A LOT of red food coloring. The pink in the cake is pretty bright so that used a fair amount as well. There was only a little bit in the frosting, but still…all told, definitely a lot of artificial coloring going on.

One of the core tenets of baking is that you should check the finished product for poison by eating some of whatever you made. I mean, you don’t HAVE to, I guess…but then how would you know if your coworkers are actually enjoying the baked goods or just choking them down to be polite? Short of taking Susan aside and asking her if she was really being sincere when she said your buttercream was delicious, you have no way of knowing. So it’s a good idea to test the finished product and KNOW that it’s delicious, no matter what face Susan makes when she bites into it.

Point being, I ran a BUNCH of tests on the finished cupcakes yesterday, which means I consumed rather a large amount of red food dye.

You may be starting to suspect where this is going and you’re right, but stay with me. You might as well, you’ve come this far.

This morning my poop was predictably quite pink. Most food dyes end up turning your dookie green, but red stays pretty red through digestion. This is exactly why, when you prep for a colonoscopy, they tell you not to have anything with red food coloring in it for a few days before the test. The inside of your colon can get stained by the food dye and then the doctors have a hard time figuring out if the redness is due to disease or just somebody being overzealous about, say, eating Valentines cupcakes.

ANYWHO.

I have this one coworker who really likes baked goods. Honestly, she just likes free food in general, but she REALLY likes baked goods and has been known to consume quite a lot of whatever anybody brings in. Which, zero judgement here, but when she and another coworker were in my office and she was motoring through her second cupcake and talking about getting a third, it occurred to me that she probably didn’t realize just how much food dye was in them.

So of course I brought it up. Because that’s a reasonable thing to talk with your coworkers about, right? I mean, she engaged instead of running away or saying anything along the lines of “hey let’s not talk about poop”, so I don’t feel like I can be FULLY blamed. I may have also brought up the fact that you can make your poop sparkle by eating lots of edible food glitter (a theory I have tested and proven). It’s not like it was a completely unrelated subject at that point, after all.

One coworker, the cupcake fiend, thought it was pretty fantastic and vowed to go buy some edible food glitter to impress her kid and husband with in the near future.

The other coworker, who had been not exactly inching away but definitely leaning slowly further and further out the office door toward the hallway for the whole conversation, wore a look somewhere between bemusement and resignation as she examined her now empty cupcake wrapper.

I have a feeling she probably didn’t go back for seconds.

Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.

hanger-on

(Disclaimer: this post is mildly gross. Proceed at your own risk.)

Bodies are disgusting.

I mean, sure, they’re amazing and magical and whatever, but they also do some truly disgusting stuff…usually in the name of keeping us alive.

For instance: did you know that your tonsils can produce stones? Yep! When shit (well, presumably not actual shit, otherwise you’ve probably got bigger issues to contend with), builds up in your throat, bits of it often get stuck to / in your tonsils. The upside is that this keeps the shit (or whatever) from making it down your throat into your lungs! The downside is, your tonsils gotta do something with that stuff. Sometimes you just cough it out. Sometimes you swallow something that dislodges the junk and sends it down into your stomach to be blasted by digestion.

But, sometimes whatever is back there can’t be dislodged and it starts collecting more junk. You know, because being a gross little chunk of crap in someone’s throat is…lonely? Anyway, point being, the crap builds up in one of the little pockets or wrinkles on your tonsil, calcifies, and then you have yourself a tonsil stone. Or a tonsillolith, if you’re fancy.

Tonsilloliths are very common and lots of people have them without ever even knowing because the stones are situated back / down far enough that they’re not visible. So don’t judge. You may well have tonsil rocks you’ve never met.

I’ve always had stupidly big tonsils. Like, the kind of tonsils where every doctor who has ever looked down my throat has said something along the lines of “geez, those are monstrous, how do you even breathe?”. To which I have given up trying to reply snarkily and instead say some version of “I know. What do I have to do to get them taken out?”. The answer is usually that if I want insurance to cover it, I have to wait until it’s ‘medically necessary’ to have them removed. Which of course is doctor-ese for ‘they have to make you super sick’. And to their credit (the tonsils, not the doctors), they really haven’t done so yet….so I guess I’m stuck with them.

Anyway. Back to the stone.

I had a cold last week, which came with all the typical grossness. I also suffer from year-round allergies, so I have kind of a constant background level of cacky junk traveling between my sinuses and throat. There’s been no shortage of mank hanging around my tonsils the last week or so. So the other day when I looked down my throat with the flashlight (normal people do that on a regular basis, right? RIIIIIGHT.), I wasn’t especially shocked to see a little white spot on my left tonsil. I’ve had them before, usually right in that same spot. In the past I’ve been able to dislodge them with a little bit of semi-aggressive salt water gargling. In one VERY memorable case, I actually reached back with my toothbrush and managed to knock a stone loose with the bristles…but then my gag reflex took over and I booted up my breakfast. So nobody REALLY won that round.

I should note here: the stone in question doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, it’s still new enough that it probably hasn’t even calcified into stone form. It’s probably just a little pocket filled with grody smeg back there. A pocket of grody smeg that I happen to be able to see every single time I open my mouth in front of a mirror. It’s not like this is a matter of urgency, to get this junk off of my tonsil. It would be highly improbably that this spot morphed into something that made me ill in any way. It is literally just grossing me out every time I (far too frequently) see it and so I want it gone.

I want it gone so much, in fact, that while I was in the bathroom at work looking at it earlier, I decided to take action.

Did I go warm up some water, dump some salt in it, and have a nice soothing gargle?

No.

Did I give myself a pep-talk about how some bodily functions really are best saved to be dealt with at home?

Oh no.

What I did was grab a handful of paper towels from the dispenser, twist them around my index finger, and reach back to try and manually scrape my tonsil with them.

As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, this move was unwise in several ways.

The first was that I made a total rookie mistake and didn’t wet the paper towel first, so it kind of stuck a bit when it made contact with my tonsil. The second was that, in my fervor, I forgot how strong my gag reflex is (it’s dry-heave-when-I-try-to-brush-my-tongue strong, for the record). The combination of these two very stupid things did NOT result in vomit, thankfully…but what it DID result in was a loud and somewhat confused choking, squawking animal noise issuing forth from my rightfully angry throat as I tried to fight said gag reflex long enough to knock the stone loose.

Several seconds later, when the stars in my vision had finally cleared and my tongue had returned to its normal position rather than trying to forcibly remove itself from my body, I shone my cell phone flashlight into my mouth to survey my work.

The stone hadn’t even budged.

I’ve learned my lesson at this point, I swear. I’m not going to try to mess with it any more until I get home and can have a good long gargle.

But I’ll be perfectly honest with you here, friends. There’s a drawer full of leftover take-out chopsticks in the break room that are going to be calling my name all afternoon.

a5stalactite

I’m sorry for sullying your lovely photo with such a base discussion of bodily grossness, Fritz. I hope you can someday forgive me.

escape from Potato Onion Island

Saturday while I was grocery shopping, I dropped a squash. And that’s not even a euphemism for anything crude, I promise. I literally dropped a squash. It was a small delicata squash, almost round whereas normally they’re elongated. The little bastard rolled like three feet and ended up under the floral display just at the end of the produce cooler.

Or so I thought.

I definitely SAW it roll under there. Not wanting to be the asshole who just drops / knocks over / fucks up things at the grocery store and then doesn’t at least attempt to right the situation (which, if my local small-town grocery store is any barometer, there are a LOT of those assholes around. Would it kill you to bend over and pick up the box of cereal your obnoxious child just knocked off the shelf in the midst of his tantrum about how he can’t have Rainbow Sucrose Nuggets for breakfast, Janet?), I went over to where the squash had last been spotted and bent down.

No squash.

I looked back toward my cart and all along the bottom skirting of the produce cooler for three feet in either direction.

No squash.

I bent way down and peered under the edge of the floral display to see if it had rolled under some flange or something down there.

Inky blackness. No squash.

At that point I started to feel like people were looking at me funny due to my muttering about the squash having disappeared. I told myself I’d done my best to retrieve it and there was nothing more I could do without creating an actual scene, and I moved on.

Over at Potato Onion Island (I call it that because it’s an island in the middle of the produce area where all the potatoes live in peace and harmony with their onion compatriots), I grabbed the two white onions I needed. Into the cart they went with no drama. Onions save all their drama for when you get them home and cut them, after all. I started inspecting the red skinned potatoes because I needed some of those as well. Normally I eschew the plastic bags available in the produce department because the idea of sea turtles inhaling plastic bags in the ocean and turtle-moaning things like ‘was this bag to segregate your three potatoes from the other items in your shopping bag really fucking necessary, two-legger?’ tends to keep me up at night…but for whatever reason, I hadn’t had a suffering sea turtle nightmare lately and ended up grabbing a produce bag for my potatoes. Sorry, sea turtles. I suck.

ANYWAY.

So, I grabbed a plastic bag and started putting potatoes in it. One potato, two potato, three potato, THUNK. A potato bounced off my sneaker. I looked down at the bag just as the side of it let go completely, spilling the other potatoes down onto my foot as well. Somewhere a sea turtle turtle-moaned in victory at that, I’m sure. Also, I don’t know why sea turtles do nothing but moan in my head. Maybe it’s because they always look vaguely upset. Plus, if you think about it, they’ve got plenty to moan about.

I grabbed a new bag, checked it for holes, then stooped down to pick up the run-away potatoes. One potato, two potato, three potato…

…three potato…

Where was the fourth potato? I definitely had put four in the original bag. I looked around my cart, my feet.

No potato.

I bent way down and inspected the very roots of Potato Onion Island.

No potato.

I was starting to worry that perhaps I had actually died and this supermarket was my personal version of hell, an eternity of caving to the weight of society’s opinion of me while I crawled under various shelving units and displays, searching for dropped produce that never showed up. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, then I used my toe to flip up the edge of the rug in front of Potato Onion Island, just in case.

No potato.

In that moment, I decided two things:

1. If I couldn’t see the dropped produce, nobody else could either, so I probably looked weirder flailing around looking for it than just walking away like nothing had happened, and

2. This couldn’t actually be Grocery Store Hell because there were no screaming babies within earshot, and no old ladies that smelled strongly of lilac (and vaguely of poop) getting in my way every time I tried to move my cart.

And with that, I wheeled off to the deli with nary another backward glance.

I do still feel pretty bad about the sea turtles though.

turtle

She’s not mad. Just…disappointed. Moan.

victory

This one time, I got up from my desk to take a bathroom break after many (ok, one-ish) hours of soul-crushing data entry and left my headphones in because a good song was playing. I wandered down the hall and ducked into the bathroom. Turned around, unzipped my jeans, dropped trou for to get on with the peeing…and gasped in sudden shock as gravity, cruel mistress that she is, not only yanked the headphones right out of my ears, but also disconnected said headphones as my phone clattered from my pocket to the floor between my feet. There I was, hovering over the toilet with pants half down, panicking that everyone in the office next door would hear as Lorde’s ‘Royals’ blared its stirring crescendo in the echo-chamber that is the restroom. Instead of just turning the phone screen on and hitting pause to make the music stop, my brain decided the best course of action was to fumble around trying to reconnect the headphones that were now in a spaghetti pile of wires around one pant leg as my ass hung in the proverbial breeze. With a full bladder. Halfway sitting down onto the toilet.

That time was today, by the way. Like ten minutes ago.

No one ended up with pee on them and no one has yet come into my office asking why I was blaring Lorde in the bathroom, so I’m going to chalk that up as a victory. Gotta take ’em where we can get ’em.

 

trophy

Rhubarb Swank, winner of today’s Didn’t Pee Inappropriately Olympics.

I look just like Buddy Holly…

…and you’re Mary Tyler Moore.

When I was a kid, personal computers weren’t a thing. Well, I guess they were for some people, but not really out in the sticks where I lived. We got three Macs at school when I was in 4th grade (circa 1990). By the time I got to 6th grade, the school had built a little computer lap with half a dozen PCs and we had “computer class” regularly, but almost nobody in my school had their own computers at home. I remember our high school computer teacher, Mr. Waste (that was seriously his name, I’m not making that up), showing us all how to use Netscape Navigator to access something called The Internet, and all of us scoffing about how it was interesting enough but we’d probably never USE it for anything. We then all went back to competing for who could program their computer to play the most annoying sequence of MIDI tones and make Mr. Waste yell at us the fastest. We called that (highly unsanctioned) activity the Waste Race. I’m sure it will shock you to learn that none of us ended up at MIT.

Anyway.

We got a PC at our house around 1996. I’m pretty sure my mom got it from Sears. We didn’t have Internet at first, just the computer. It was meant for school work you see. None of that electronic mail or chat room nonsense. Even back then companies had started putting junk on computers that nobody really needed, though. On my model there was a folder called ‘Fun Stuff’ that had a bunch of sample photos, music clips, and much to my interest, several full-length music videos.

One of the videos that came pre-loaded was Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’.

bh

It was set in the diner from Happy Days and they made it look like The Fonz was jamming with the band at one point.

I swear, I must have watched that video about a thousand times…not necessarily out of any deep love of the song or band, but more just out of desire to somehow be connected to what was going on in the world outside of back-woods Vermont, maybe? Plus, in retrospect, at 16 years old I was really starting to hit my stride when it came to my talent for procrastination. Having a computer, even one without the Internet, offered a whole new universe of opportunities to fuck off and not get my algebra homework done. When I got sick of Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’, I could always drill down level after level of folders and files in the guts of Windows 95, building a mental map of where things went and why. I also got really good at Minesweeper and Solitaire. Best of all was the Encarta encyclopedia CD that came with the computer. I could load that up and read all about…well, everything. And I did. Often. That CD taught me how to say “my name is Michael” in Greek for instance. You wouldn’t think that a teenage girl in rural Vermont with no Greek family would need to know that for any reason, but you’d be WRONG because my dad’s name is Michael and he actually did some work for a guy who was married to a Greek lady back in ’97 and I TOTALLY came through in the clutch when my dad came home one day talking about how he wished he knew something in Greek that he could say to the lady.

smart

All those hours of trawling through Encarta instead of doing homework definitely paid off in the long run.

(This post brought to you by a) knowing I haven’t written in a while and feeling like I really should but not knowing what to write about and b) Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’ popping up on the playlist I was listening to an hour ago.)

wandering

It’s hard to get started lately. Hard to start the day. Hard to start tasks other than ones I know that people would notice if I skipped. Hard to start making changes that would probably be helpful. I don’t know where to point myself or what words to use. The order of things gets scrambled and I wander off into dream-land rather than trying to untangle and clean up the messes I keep making.

I find myself wandering not just mentally but physically as well. Detours on routes I’m meant to be traveling. Wasting time and gas driving around looking for places I don’t need to go. I have no stake in these places. My brain is just always fishing for something to do other than what I really ought to be doing, and I don’t always have the ability to rein it back in, to stick to the path.

Part of this is down to my body adjusting to being (medically approved) off meds. Neither of the two meds I was on were working for me anymore – one was giving me panic attacks and the other one was making me wish I was dead (no planning, just the general ‘everyone would be better off without me’ feeling), in addition to causing some pretty serious gastric issues. So, over the course of the last few months, I’ve been working on getting off both meds. It will take some time for things to chemically settle back down in the brain meats, and I respect that.

Part of it is also big changes in routine. My partner found a job after almost six months of being unemployed. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m very happy about it, but it has also come with some scheduling turmoil for us and the hound. We’re still trying to get used to new time constraints, new traffic patterns, etc. Big changes aren’t easy for anybody, but when you’re someone who needs daily routines as anchors in order to not feel utterly untethered and overwhelmed, it’s particularly hard. There are things I can do to help with this, of course: stuff like giving myself a hard bedtime and wake time, doing meal prep on the weekends so that we have dinner stuff we can quickly throw together on weeknights, and making dog training time mandatory rather than optional (which is good for both him AND me). But, knowing what needs doing and actually doing it are often very different things in my world.

True to form, I don’t know where I was going with this and I don’t really know how to end it. I guess I just wanted to try and get back into the habit of writing even when there’s nothing really obvious to write about, because that’s supposedly how one becomes a better writer. Or something.

 

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Sunset at the lake last Friday. I went to the store for ice cream and ended up at the town beach. At least I remembered I had ice cream in the car and didn’t stay long enough to let it melt.

origins

I started this blog three years ago today.

cake

OCD brain is annoyed that there are more than three candles in this picture. Calm your tits, OCD brain. We’ll just assume those blurry, far-away candles are for future blogiversaries off in the misty distance. Or past ones from other blogs. Who cares, just make like Elsa and let it go already. Gahd.

It doesn’t feel like that big of a deal to me because I’ve actually had a blog of some sort for close to fourteen years now. My original blog, which technically still exists but is pretty hard to find unless you know what you’re looking for, was started on 1/13/2004. I finally gave up posting there in  2009, then started my half-assed cooking blog in 2010. The half-assed cooking blog also still exists but I haven’t posted on it since July 2015. It was starting to feel like a chore, and it was also making me feel really inadequate in a lot of ways. Like, food blogs are all about good photography, and I had neither the time or the inclination to teach myself how to be a food stylist. I’m also really not good at measuring when I’m cooking, and I don’t always think in a linear fashion, so recipes are pretty hard for me to write…and that’s pretty much what people read food blogs for. There are only so many times someone is going to want to read about how good my meatloaf is before they’re like “OK, prove it. Either feed me meatloaf, give me your recipe so I can try it, or STFU”. In the end, I opted for S’ing the F.U.

I started How Bad Can It Go because a friend drew some casual similarities between my then Facebook-based rants about being a little touched in the head and the way Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) wrote about her own experiences with mental illness. The comparison was wildly flattering. I immediately started envisioning how I’d blog hilariously (but also earnestly) about my struggles with anxiety, depression, and ADHD for maybe a year or so, then be ‘discovered’ by some publisher. I’d be given a book deal and afforded the opportunity to tell my day job they could shove off.

Let’s just say the offers haven’t exactly been pouring in. Or trickling, even. Nary a drip. Not even the merest hint of moisture in the air. Dry as a 5,000 year old Egyptian’s desiccated, mummified femur buried under 47 feet of sand, in fact.

mummy

Ramses was the worst peek-a-boo partner EVER.

But that’s OK. I’ll keep on keepin’ on, because hey, how bad can it go?

inventory

note: sorry, I know the formatting is fucked up. I don’t know why WordPress does this sometimes, and I don’t know how to fix it without inserting break tags between paragraphs, which makes the spaces between them gigantic. Sorry, sorry. Please forward all complaints to the first person named Janet you have in your address book. She’ll love hearing them, I promise.

Hi, Hello, Guten Tag.

 

I haven’t jumped off a bridge, been abducted by Sasquatches (Sas…quati? Sasquaron? Sasquatillia? I could Google it but where’s the fun in that), or launched myself into space via the power of my own ass (YET). I’ve just been busy with getting caught up at work after vacation, trying to mentally adjust to no longer being on vacation, pining for more vacation, and wading through the daily struggle of trying not to think so much about why I exist. Those all take up a lot of time and mental energy, so I haven’t had much left of either to write.
BUT I’M HERE NOW!
There’s a post about GenCon coming, complete with discussions about the games I played, I swear…but this is not that.
This, amigos, is an exhaustive inventory of my purse. This post is being brought to you by the literal five minute struggle I had to find my work keys this morning as I pulled handful after handful of random fuckery out of my purse. At one point during the process I actually thought to myself, ‘maybe I should get a smaller shoulder-bag just for my work essentials. I could tuck it here into the bigger bag and everything would be contained right where I need it’.
Let that sink in for a minute. My bag is so big, and so full of shit, that I was seriously contemplating GETTING ANOTHER BAG to segregate the things I need to find easily, and putting it INSIDE THE TOO-BIG, TOO-FULL BAG.
nevermind_nathan_fillion

Exactly.

Here is the bag in question. It’s sitting on my size 11 shoes, which I didn’t actually do for scale, but feel free to make that connection if you’d like.
img_20180817_111011249_ll

It’s sort of Tardis blue, but it’s not really bigger on the inside.

I’m not actually a purse carrying type. When I’m leaving the house to run errands or something, I just grab my wallet, which is a checkbook clutch thing. I don’t like leaving my wallet hanging around unattended at work though, and I like the idea of it being unattended in my car even LESS, so I’ve always maintained some kind of smallish bag situation in order to tote the wallet, my keys, and my lunch back and forth to work. Sometimes it has been an actual purse, sometimes a messenger bag, and for a while I used one of those reusable bags you get for like $2.50 at the grocery store.
When I first got this blue bag many years ago, the intended use was as a carry-on for air travel, as it was big enough to fit even a large knitting project, a 1-liter bottle of water, my wallet, and my Kindle or a book, with a bit of room to spare. I’m not really sure quite how I ended up transitioning it from a carry-on to my daily lug-shit-around bag, honestly. It was probably after some trip we took where I was too tired and brain-dead to transfer my shit over from one bag to another the morning that I had to go back to work. That sounds like me.
Now, if you have ADHD or are close to someone who does, you may be able to see where this is going. The Second Law of ADHD Life is that The Mess Will Always Expand To Fill The Available Space. Get a bigger kitchen table because your old small one is always covered with piles of stuff? The mess will expand to fill the available space. Clean out the trash in the back seat of the car to build the illusion that you are a functioning adult? The mess will expand to fill the available space. Switch to a bigger hand bag for whatever reason? The mess will expand, blah blah blah. It’s like gravity, or my husband’s willingness to eat Taco Bell even though it makes him sick every time. It just IS. You can try to fight nature, but nature always wins. It doesn’t matter what kind of bag I end up with. I will always, ALWAYS, end up filling it with weird junk. I did it as a child, I did it even worse as a teenager, and I will likely continue to do it for as long as I have a bag that I leave the house with daily.
SO.
With all that said, here’s the full and truthful inventory of my bag as of this morning:
  • one ballpoint pen: click style, orange, emblazoned with the words ‘Riverbank Church’, which I have never attended and don’t know the actual location of.
  • lipstick: three different shades. I had a lip color phase which I have long since passed, but for some reason I still carry these around. Just in case of a pale lip emergency, I guess?
  • small bottle of tylenol: because ibuprofen doesn’t work on my headaches, and headaches make me anxious, which makes my headaches worse. Welcome to my world.
  • empty plastic bag from local grocery store: I think I might have used this to wrap a potentially leaky lunch container one day, and then felt bad about single-handedly ruining the environment if I threw it away, so back in the bag it went. I didn’t actually un-crumple it and check whether it contained remnants of leaked lunch. I haven’t developed a case of bag-ants, so I think it’s probably ok.
  • work keys: ironically, these are all keys to the old office that I haven’t given back yet, but there’s also a security token on the key ring that I need to do some of my daily functions, and is therefore about the only thing in the bag that I ACTUALLY need to have with me on a day to day basis.
  • small container of dental floss: having stuff stuck in my teeth makes me twitchy, so I like to have floss just in case.
  • three barrettes: pop-style metal ones. These are for keeping my hair out of my face at yoga class. I only use one at a time, but I carry backups because they’re small and very lose-able.
  • wallet: where all my plastic money access cards live. This is a hot mess too and could merit its own inventory post, frankly.
  • two copies of a bill I need to pay: I brought the first one to work with me to argue with them about the charges, realized I was wrong before I even called them (thankfully), stuffed it in my bag, forgot about it, and didn’t pay it. The next month they kindly sent me a reminder copy. I thought to myself that the best place to put it in order to remember to pay it would be my bag, so in it went two weeks ago. Sidenote: I threw away the older copy while doing this inventory. Remind me to write a check for the newer copy when I’m done with this.
  • Microsoft Office suite software box, empty: I have a semi-reasonable excuse for this one. It came from when I bought our laptop a couple years ago. All it has in it is the serial number for the copy of Office that I bought. I set up the new laptop at work so that my IT guy could do his VPN voodoo on it, entered the serial number for Office, then tossed the box in my desk drawer and forgot about it until we started moving the office and it came time to empty my drawers out. At that point I wasn’t sure whether the serial number was something I should keep a record of, so I saved the box to be on the safe side. Granted, that WAS like eight weeks ago, but still.
  • small bottle of ibuprofen: because tylenol doesn’t work on my period cramps.
  • passport: the last time I traveled internationally, I used this bag as my carry-on. That was April of 2017. Passport’s still in there.
  • brush and comb: because sometimes I try to make my hair all travel in sort of the same direction, just to see what it looks like.
  • sugar free honey lemon Ricola cough drops, half bag: these are another cleaning-out-old-desk holdover
  • 2016 W2 tax form: I think I had this with me to validate my 2016 adjusted gross income so that I could file my 2017 taxes online.  I did my taxes in February. It is now almost September.
  • 2017 W2 tax form: see above.
  • 2017 W2 tax form of my husband’s: see above.
  • small tube of refill erasers for a Pentel mechanical pencil: I bought these through work with the intention of using them in my clicky pencils at home. Haven’t gotten there yet. I still use the pencils…I just erase with a different eraser. Guess I didn’t need them that bad?
  • broken claw-style hair clip, small: it’s not completely broken – just one tooth got snapped off. Still totally viable in a hair emergency, which I feel the need to always be prepared for.
  • my copy of my mom’s advance directive paperwork: my mom got really sick for a while back in early 2017. They made her fill out advance directive (living will) paperwork and since I’m her only kid and I’m named for everything in it along with my dad, I had to be given a copy. It doesn’t have any sensitive information on it or anything…it’s just a super weird thing to have been carrying around for like 18 months.
  • letter from a friend, postmarked May 2017: When I went to renew my driver’s license in December 2017, I had to bring some pieces of mail with me to prove that I really do live where I say I live. Because, you know, that shit totally couldn’t be faked.
  • 2017 car registration (now long expired): I THINK this may have been related to the last item, but I’m not positive.
  • pay stub circa 12/2017: possibly also related to the license renewal thing? I get all my pay stubs electronically now, so at least I don’t have to worry about accumulating large piles of them anymore.
  • receipt for coach tickets dated April 2017: this was from our trip to the UK. It was actually tucked into my passport folio thing but must have worked its way out during one of my many pawing-through-layers-of-shit-to-find-keys sessions.
  • little card from flowers my husband sent me for our anniversary: which anniversary, I can’t be sure. Which number, I mean. I know that they were for our wedding anniversary, not like…the anniversary of that time I thought it would be a good idea to put raisins in the sweet potato mash (because trust me, that was NOT a celebratory experience for him).
  • job application for local grocery store, blank: this was given to me to give to my husband when the owner of the local grocery store was trying to get him to come work for her. The fact that it’s still in my bag like four months later should tell you what he thought of that idea.
  • book, entitled ‘Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself’: I bought this from Amazon and forgot to change my shipping address from work to home, so it got delivered at work. I took it out of the box, tucked it into my bag with the intention of starting it after I finished the book I was working on at the time. This was in January (I just checked Amazon). As you can clearly tell, I’ve not yet gotten over myself enough to actually crack this book.
  • reusable plastic carrier bag from Asda: this is circa April 2017 when we were in the UK. We went to Asda to stock up on British candy before we headed home. I had my usual guilt over trashing a plastic bag once I got home, and then realized this was actually a pretty decent reusable bag. Why I felt that keeping it folded up in my purse was an appropriate use for it, I couldn’t tell you.

There you go. I’ve now wasted just over 2,000 words telling you about all the junk in my bag. 2008 to be exact. Well, before I wrote that. And that. Ok, I gotta go.