make your own happiness…while I punch you in the face.

You know what I hate?

Besides Kokomo, anyway…

I hate these “make your own happiness” memes that are all over Facebook and Pinterest. You know the type:


It’s so easy. Why can’t you see that it’s so easy, Shelby? Just choose to be happy! SMILE, DAMN IT!

First of all, way to fucking grammar, (says the queen of the fragmented sentence. I KNOW. Shut up).

Second of all: this shit might have made the person who made it feel better about themselves in some ego-stroking way, but it’s sure as hell not helping me or really anybody else I know who is clinically anxious, depressed, or has some other alternate brain chemistry reality.

One of the biggest things a clinically depressed person often deals with is a sense of loneliness or isolation, even when they’re surrounded by people they care about. When you already feel deeply, utterly alone, the last thing you need to hear is another way in which you’re failing at life. That’s how these memes always make me feel – like I’m even MORE abnormal because I can’t just choose to be happy and step out of the mist-shrouded labyrinth that has been the last ten years of my life. The more of them I see, the more irrationally inferior and isolated I feel.

Telling someone who is depressed to just buck up and be positive is, at best, misguided. At worst, it’s pretty fucking offensive. If someone confined to a wheelchair told you that they wished they could walk again, would you tell them they just aren’t trying hard enough? That the ability is there within them, they just have to dig deep and find it? No you wouldn’t. At least, not unless you’re a very special kind of asshole.

Just like it’s very easy for an able-bodied person to take for granted all the things they can do physically, it’s very easy for someone with a chemically normal brain to assume that depression is a choice.

Depression is not a choice.

If it was, most of us would have chosen to get the fuck away from it by now, trust us.





I married a cookie licker

I made peanut butter cookies this afternoon. That was a mistake, since both my husband and I are weak, weak people…who really like cookies. Especially peanut butter ones. I doled out a few over the course of the afternoon, then bagged the rest up and stashed them in the microwave in the hopes that out of sight really WOULD equal out of mind (which is hit and miss with us, at best).

About half an hour ago, Mark started edging toward the kitchen, looking sketchy. Just as I noticed what he was doing, he caught my eye and put on his “hopeful” look, which is kind of a cross between puppy-dog eyes and a guilty grimace. The following exchange occurred:

Me, suspicious: “What are you doing?”

Him: just standing there silently, contorting his face further to try and make ‘the look’ more convincing, presumably.

Me, laughing now: “Do you have to crap? You kind of look like you’re clenching to keep from crapping your pants.”

Him: “Can we have cookies?”

Me: “We had cookies earlier. We don’t need more cookies.”

Him: “Right, but I want cookies.”

Me: “Fiiiiiiine…”

Him, scurrying out to the kitchen, yelling back over his shoulder: “Did you want one?”

Me: “Well, YEAH.”

He came in a couple seconds later and handed me a single cookie, sheltering his other hand against his body, clearly hiding it and the cookies (plural, I’m not stupid) it contained.

Me: “How many cookies do you HAVE?”

Him, looking slightly panicked: “Three.”

Me: “THREE?!”

And then, with a look of sheer panic on his face, he took the stack of three cookies and LICKED THEM. Then, with a note of triumph in his voice he said, “And now I’ve LICKED THEM so no one else can HAVE THEM!”

I completely lost it – the kind of heaving, uncontrollable laughter where you don’t make any sound and you can’t breathe. He started laughing too, which only served to further feed the hilarity. I seriously haven’t laughed so hard since the pterodactyl incident. Half an hour later, I’m still sitting here having random outbursts of giggles over it.


“I’m surrounded by idiots. Help me.” – Junior


better living through psychopharmacology

You know how when you were a kid and it was like, mid-January, and you were spacing out at your desk during Social Studies class, trying to work out how many more weeks it was until summer vacation, and then when you figured it out it kind of made you want to cry a little?

(just play along)

That’s how I’ve felt all day long.

There are glaciers moving faster than today has progressed.

I’ve sat in this chair so long that I have actually aged all the way to the end of my life, died, been REINCARNATED AND BORN AGAIN INTO A NEW EXISTENCE EXACTLY THE SAME AS MY OLD ONE, and aged all the way back up to my present age.


I don’t even know what this is, but it’s exactly what today has felt like. Also, it’s making me kind of dizzy.


This is what it’s like when I don’t take my ADD medication on a work day.

On a day when I’m at home it’s not a big deal if I don’t take them because a) there’s all kinds of interesting and shiny things to work on at home and if not, there’s video games, b)no one really expects me to be all that productive at home (my husband was disabused of that notion very early on in our marriage), and c) the things that I do at home, generally, do not require a high degree of accuracy or the staring at of columns of numbers for hours on end.

Work days without meds, though? They’re fucking HARD, and having to tough one out every once in a while reminds me just how obnoxious and frustrating life was for me (and probably everyone around me, to be fair) before ADD meds.

I would write more, but there’s been a squirrel in my brain doing the Macarena in double time for the last eight hours and I am frigging BURNT. OUT.

fuck Kokomo

When I was in elementary school, music class was basically my everything. Some kids live for recess…I LIVED for music class.

We went through a few music teachers during my years in school (which, after a brief stint of thinking I wanted to be a music teacher myself and spending a very small amount of time in a classroom with a bunch of howling banshees…I mean, children…I can totally understand why). My favorite by far was an exotic (for late ’80’s rural Vermont, anyway) Latina woman named Maricel.

I’m not sure how old Maricel was when she was teaching us, but looking back on some of the songs she taught us, I have to figure she was probably fairly young. She taught us some traditional Spanish-language songs, but her main thing was pop music. For instance, for the spring concert circa 1989 or 1990, she had the 8th grade class learn and sing Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. I was a lowly 4th grader at that point and I was so impressed because geez, that song was like, EDGY. To a ten year old, anyway.

Maricel’s song selection for MY class that year was “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys. I was kind of obsessed with the Beach Boys at the time (mostly their older catalog – I was snob even back then), so “Kokomo” was right up my alley.

Or so I thought.

Part of the problem was that even as a young kid, I had a good ear for music. I could usually sing a melody back accurately after hearing it just once or twice. If you’ve ever heard “Kokomo”, you know it’s a very simple melody with a ton of repetition. So basically, I learned to sing “Kokomo” in one 45-minute class period.

Enter the second part of the problem: I was (and still am) very, VERY impatient. I didn’t understand why we had to keep beating the “Kokomo” horse after the third or fourth class because it was very clearly dead to me at that point. The horse, I mean. I are phrase good.

Anyway – you can probably guess how it went. Because we were performing the song at the big spring concert, it had to be PERFECT, so we rehearsed it SUPER EXTRA A LOT TIMES A MILLIONTY…and I got really fucking bored, really fucking quickly.

A bored Shelby is not generally a disruptive Shelby – I wasn’t the kid who would start singing a different song or take off running around the room or something. I’d just kind of slip off into la-la land and do my own thing inside my head until something more shiny and interesting came along. The thing about daydreaming though, is that you often absorb bits of what’s going on around you in real life even though you’re essentially off with the fairies. So the whole time I was standing there going through the motions in class while secretly planning out my unicorn ranch, my brain was still being subjected to the song “Kokomo” being repeated over and over…and over…

…and over…

…and 25(ish) years later? I CANNOT FUCKING STAND THAT SONG. It annoys me to an irrational degree. All I have to hear is that first breathy phrase, “Aaaa-ruba, Jamaica…”, and I’m scrambling to switch the station. Gah, it made me twitch even just hearing it in my head when I typed it just then!

By the way, did I mention that my co-worker listens exclusively to the Margaritaville XM Radio station at work? EXCLUSIVELY. Not on headphones, either. Margaritaville refers, of course, to the Jimmy Buffett song of the same name, and the station’s playlist is comprised of similar beachy, laid-back, Caribbean-feeling tunes.

Like, for instance, “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys…



how about…no


again with the bears!


You may have noticed that I lasted all of A WEEK AND A HALF using the NaBloPoMo writing prompts.

First of, ADD motherfuckers. I warned you.

Second of all, you can’t blame me, really, when this week’s prompts sound like a bunch of fucking Miss America pageant interview questions:

Monday, November 16 – Pretending you have the expertise to make the product a reality, what do you wish you could invent?

Answer: I’d invent a life-sized doll of your mom. 

Tuesday, November 17 – What is one place you need to see to feel like your life is complete?

Answer: I need to see…your mom.

Wednesday, November 18 – What do you hope people remember about you after you’re gone?

Answer:  My razor sharp wit. I know your mom will.

Thursday, November 19 – Where would you want to retire if money wasn’t an issue?

Answer: Your mom’s house.

Friday, November 20 – What do you hope happens by the end of this year?

Answer: I hope that rash your mom has clears up so she can hang out again.


I don’t want to sound like I’m directly bashing the BlogHer people who came up with the list because I get it, it’s not easy.  Shit, I do a thing called the Friday Five on a knitting forum, where I come up with five usually at least tenuously themed questions to ask everyone once a week and even THAT gets really hard sometimes.  Like, to the point where I start avoiding the internet some Fridays so that I can claim I was sick and didn’t, uhh, internet at all that day, and that’s why I didn’t do the Friday Five.  *shifty look*

Basically, I’m cool with the writing prompts until they start getting  DEEP…and making me have to like, THINK.  Or worse, FEEL.  I feel more than enough on a day to day basis already, believe you me.  I feel shit that isn’t even appropriate or, in some cases, applicable.




Friend tells me exciting news?  I will not only be happy and excited for them but I will then proceed to WELL UP WITH TEARS BECAUSE LIFE IS SO BEAUTIFUL I JUST CAN’T HANDLE IT.

Sooo, yeah.  Sorry BlogHer writing prompts, but I feel enough feels that I can’t turn the volume down on to begin with.  Trying to expound upon how I’d invent a way to feed the world…

…or how I don’t think I’ll ever feel like my life is complete because there’s so much to see and do that it’s overwhelming and makes me really sad that I’m going to miss a whole lot of it no matter how hard I try…

…or that I’m afraid that no one will remember me for ANYTHING after I die because no one will have really known me…

…or that I can’t fathom picking a place to retire because I can’t fucking fathom retiring at all…

…or that my only hope for the end of every single year ever is that people will somehow come to their senses and stop fucking HATING AND KILLING each other…

…just isn’t something that I’ve got the emotional stamina to handle.

At least, not on the average weekday, where it’s “inappropriate” to start drinking at 10am.







on heredity, crafting and keeping (relatively) sane

I forgot to post yesterday.  I meant to do it when I got home last night but then I got waylaid cooking dinner and doing work baking.  Then, I sat down to watch TV with my husband and, as usual, picked up the nearest craft project to start working on.


Tiny baked goods and kitchen implements, hooray!


At that point, any chance of getting some writing done went straight down the drain.

Crafting, or as I like to call it, “making shit“, is something that I’m genetically predisposed to.  My dad’s always been a builder, making everything from birdhouses to, well…people houses!  My paternal grandmother was a talented knitter, quilter and seamstress, and even designed and sold dress patterns as a young woman in the early 1950’s.  Her mother before her also made braided rugs as well as knit, crocheted, sewed, and embroidered.  My great-grandmother’s specialty as a young woman was crocheted lace.  I have many examples of her very fine handiwork on the edging of finished embroidery projects like table runners and antimacassars, as well as some doilies and even a small fabric book full of swatches and motifs she did as she learned new patterns.

Making things is clearly in my blood – it’s something I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) fight – but it’s also something that helps keep me sane, a form of meditation for me.  When my ADD-and-anxiety-plagued imagination is bombarding me with a million bajillion completely unfeasible scenarios of how badly everything can go, knitting or stitching give me a way to step out of that crazy feedback loop for a while and just focus on one stitch at a time.  When I’m so, so sad or angry and I feel like I can’t do anything right, making little lines of stitches with a needle and thread or yarn shows me that actually, yes, I CAN do at least this one tiny thing right in this one moment.

Moments eventually build up to minutes, which pile up to hours, and suddenly I’ve made it through another day.

Many mental health problems are hereditary, just like other traits and predispositions.  I know my grandmother suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression throughout her life, though it was not something that was considered appropriate to talk about when she was elderly, let alone when she was my age.  I didn’t know my great-grandmother well enough to know whether she had similar issues as well. But, it does sometimes make me wonder if these women’s legacies of prolific crafting and fiber artistry may have stemmed not just from a need to express themselves creatively but also a need to self-soothe or to step out of their own mental feedback loops for a time like I do now.


Sundays with Junior

There are certain things I do on Sundays.

I grocery shop on Sundays, because that’s when the week’s flyer goes into effect.  I like to go early before the godly post-church crowds clog up the aisles.  It’s less about the fact that they all just came from church and more about the fact that I don’t like seething masses of humanity.

Sundays are laundry day, too.  I’m capable of doing laundry other days of the week but frankly, why wash today what you can put off until Sunday?  I have a carefully curated supply of clean clothes (all laid out on the spare room bed, in fact!), that will last me the whole work week without needing to do laundry so long as nothing, uhhh, untoward happens.  Like random pants-shitting.  Which I’m NOT in the habit of doing currently, I feel it necessary to point out.

Sunday also involves trying to appease our tiny white overlord, Junior.  As much as I would love for him to be, Junior is not work-dog material.  The last time I tried to take him to work with me on a weekday when the office was fully staffed, he peed on my office-mate’s chair leg, barked incessantly any time someone came up or down the stairs adjacent to my office, and growled at my boss.  So, Junior stays home instead of coming to work with me.  It probably breaks my heart more than it breaks his, but none the less, Sunday is the day I usually try to make it up to him ahead of having to leave him home alone for 40 more hours in the coming week.

As far as appeasement goes, Junior is generally a pretty simple overlord to work for:

He wants walkies, during which he will exert his authority over the world at large by peeing on any upright structures he encounters and barking at the neighbor cats.

He wants bites of whatever anyone eats, especially if it’s almond butter.

He wants a warm lap to curl up in if he so chooses, but he will be neither forced nor cajoled into cuddling, no sir!

He wants a car ride of appropriate length (none of that “once round the driveway” nonsense he used to settle for as a puppy), and there will be bonus virgins for you in Heaven if the ride happens to be punctuated by a visit to Nana’s house.

And, above all, he wants to play.  Acceptable games include “Chase Junior Around The Apartment”, “Throw This Thing That Junior Has Brought You”, and “Try To Get This Thing From Junior So You Can Throw It But End Up Mostly Just Chasing Him Around The Apartment”.

"Quit lollygagging and throw that thing, Mahm!"

“Quit lollygagging and throw that thing, Mahm!”

"Look, if you're not going to throw it, then at least put your hand in it and wiggle it around enticingly."  (That's what she said)

“Look, if you’re not going to throw it, then at least put your hand in it and wiggle it around enticingly.” (That’s what she said)



blanket forting

There are days when I find it really, really hard to put one foot in front of the other, figuratively speaking.  Today is very much one of those days.

Instead of boring you with the myriad ways in which I detest myself and the endless stream of things I am afraid of, I’m going to make some hot chocolate, find a documentary or three about dinosaurs to watch on NetFlix, wrap up in my blankie, and possibly hide some treats in my pocket so the dog is compelled to come sit on my lap.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.


(I was at 99 words and I couldn’t leave without taking it over 100. I could have just written another actual, topical sentence, but why do that when you can randomly say “dicks” instead?  Plus, I needed the laugh. )

puppies are the answer

I’m meant to describe an ideal day off for today’s post.  Thinking about the ideal day off immediately gave me Ferris Bueller on the brain, so now all I can think about is hijacking a parade float and singing Danke Schoen.

Which, to be fair, is something I’d at least attempt if presented with the opportunity.

But anyway…

I’m finding this a lot harder than I thought I would, possibly because what I like to do with my free time varies wildly depending on my mood.  Some days I just want to be left alone with a book or a video game and some frozen pizza.  Some days I want to have people over, cook a big dinner, and sit around drinking wine and laughing.  Some days I want to take off to a beach and just chase seagulls and pick up shells all day.  Some days I want to get in the car and just drive and drive, seeing what I can see along the way.

On the other hand, if I could somehow line up a day-off gig where I got to just hang out with a whole bunch of puppies all day long, that would be pretty sweet and would probably take precedence over anything else anybody invited me to do that day.

“Oh hey, did you want to fly on this private jet to Paris with me to check out the Louvre this afternoon?”

“Nah, man.  I’ve got plans to lay on the floor in the middle of a bunch of puppies and just let them jump all over me.  It’s going to be amazing.  But thanks for thinking of me!”

Yes.  Puppies are definitely the answer.

Rescue team deployed!

Rescue team deployed!

the personal assistant of my dreams

Today’s prompt is asking me which tasks I would assign to a personal assistant who would do my most dreaded tasks.

Now, THIS is a subject I can warm to!

This is what I look like on the inside.

This is what I look like on the inside.

First and foremost, my personal assistant would need to address the laundro-bed situation, because gods know I’M not addressing it.

Once they got done sorting out and putting away clean laundry, I’d need for them to clean the fridge. It’s not particularly manky or anything. I just figure if I’ve got the chance to have someone else do it, I’m sure as hell not wasting it!

I would need the personal assistant to hang around at work with me and answer the phone whenever it rings, because I detest talking on the phone. There’s this thing called email, people. WHY CAN’T YOU EMAIL? ARE YOUR FINGERS BROKEN? I DON’T THINK THEY ARE!

If I could also get the personal assistant to do the legwork involved with getting my name off the mailing lists for all the bazillions of credit card solicitations we get in the mail, that would be wonderful. And, it wouldn’t be entirely selfish, because we’d be saving trees!

Personal assistant should also be available for dog-walking during inclement weather (mostly during the hot and muggy months and also the cold and snowy months. Since we live in Vermont, that’s basically…every month bar May and October, and even those are iffy, frankly).

Personal assistant may also be called upon for these and other to-be-determined as-needed duties:

– explaining to my father how the Internet works (as often as necessary)

– relocating and/or dispatching of various insect life forms (saves my husband the trouble. See? Again with the not being selfish!)

– trips to WalMart and/or other large stores and shopping malls where many people congregate

– cleaning the dust off the weird squiggly curvy part of the bottom and sides of the toilet

– washing windows

I could probably think of more things, but the ones I came up with are already kind of horrifying me in terms of how truly lazy I could really be if given the chance. Now I feel like I should go load the dishwasher and clean the stove-top as some sort of penance for even THINKING about being so slovenly.

Ahh, good ol’ Puritan guilt…