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.

not funny but important

There have been a few times I’ve let fly on here about politics, but mostly I don’t go there because honestly, I’m not a journalist. Anything I say is just opinion. I read a lot and listen to a lot of NPR, so it might sometimes be decently well-informed opinion…but still. Trying to string words together in that way has never been my jam. I do funny (well, sort of), not eloquent.

I posted something on Facebook this morning that I want to get out to a wider audience, though. My Facebook list is comprised mostly of politically like-minded friends who are well informed on current events. Some of them are actively involved in local and national politics, and I’m pretty sure most of them vote. However, there are a handful who “don’t follow politics”. Which, I get it, politics are fucking exhausting…but like it or not, America is a political beast of our own making. These people that don’t follow politics, that don’t pay any attention to the news, and especially the ones that don’t vote? They break my heart, regardless of whether we have a Cheeto-stained Russian operative in the Oval Office or not.

So, I wrote this little rant directed at them and I want to pass it on to the wider world in the hopes that it motivates even just a couple people to look up from their phones, see what’s going on around them, and maybe choose to participate in civic life in even the tiniest way possible.

The offers I make below stand for anyone reading this here as well.

****

For those of you who don’t follow politics, who feel like it’s all stupid and you can’t be bothered to get involved, know this: America cannot afford for you to keep your head in the sand any longer. If what you’re seeing / hearing on the news makes you uncomfortable, please take five minutes to fire off an email or a call to your members of Congress and BE HEARD. It might feel completely fruitless, but it’s something. If nothing else, it’s a written record of the fact that you didn’t just roll over and play dead.

You don’t have to call – you can email. If you need help finding your reps’ email address, let me know and I’ll happily find them for you. You don’t even have to email – you can use ResistBot to send a fax directly to your reps’ offices from your cell phone! Hit me up if you want help learning how to do that as well.

And if you’re not registered to vote, please, PLEASE remedy that immediately. If you need help understanding how to register, registration deadlines, etc, I would love to help you.

Please don’t just ignore everything going on lately and chalk it up to business as usual. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This is the result of a handful of very rich, very self-serving people doing their level best to create a new world order. And if you’ve been paying any kind of attention at all, you’re hopefully catching on to the fact that that new world order they’re envisioning is not going to benefit the vast majority of us. All this going on right now is a result of too many people ignoring too much stuff for far too long.

Don’t just roll over.

We have to fight.

Opossum2

Opossums are awesome, but don’t act like one, mmmkay?

the power of rhubarb compels you

Have you ever wondered how hard it is to become a minister? Well, wonder no more, friends and gawkers! For I, Rhubarb Tiberius Swank, Queen of Steves and Lego Dinosaurs, Starter of Many Things and Finisher of Few, Supreme Glittering Viscountess of Run-on Sentences and Abuser of Ellipsis…es?, have recently had holy orders conferred upon my person.
That’s right, I’m now officially an ordained minister!
Why, you ask? Well, that’s kind of a funny story. And, as with a fair number of my questionable ideas, it all starts with Facebook…
dissolve

If you don’t know what this means, I’m a) very sad for you, and b) think you’re probably up past your bedtime.

So, the other day I was skimming through my Facebook feed, as I am often wont to do of a weekday afternoon when the rigors of sending the same emails to the same people over and over again have inevitably brought my brain to teeter on the precipitous brink of madness. It was during the initial aftermath of the recent SCOTUS decision about the case where that asshole baker in Colorado decided they didn’t want to make wedding cakes for gay couples. There was a friend on my feed posting about how she’s ordained and would be happy to perform marriage ceremonies for any gay couples in any state, etc. That made me smile of course, because love is love. People should be able to marry whoever the frig they want (assuming both parties are down with it, obviously), and it ain’t nobody’s business what flavor of human another human likes to boink.

But it also got me thinking. Not the boinking thing, I mean (although…), but rather, the ordination part. The person who had posted this was someone I call a friend, but I’ve never met her in person. We’ve never had any talks about beliefs, philosophy, or religion, but given the avenues through which I became acquainted with her, I was pretty comfortable in assuming that she leaned pretty atheist. Rather than send her a message and start asking all kinds of probing questions about her personal beliefs and religious affiliations, I instead took myself over to trusty ol’ Google and typed in “how to get ordained”.

Side note here: if anyone ever truly hacks me, I’d be 97% willing to give up my credit card and bank account information in exchange for the solemn promise that they not compile and publish a comprehensive list of my lifetime Google search terms, because HOLY POLE DANCING CHRIST, I would never live it down. Like…you don’t even know. You don’t WANT to know. It’s that bad.
Aaaaaanyway.

One of the first things that came up in the results was a site called Universal Life Church. Having never heard of them, I was 50/50 on whether it was some kind of “every sperm is sacred” situation (you know, the ones who say you can’t even masturbate because THINK OF THE POTENTIAL CHILDREN), a cult like that one that starts with an S and ends with -ology and kind of sounds like the word ‘science’ (I am genuinely afraid of them and refuse to type out the whole name online. If you aren’t afraid of them, you need to watch Louis Theroux’s movie about them. Google it. I’m not even linking it because I’m convinced they keep track), or maybe just a nice, gentle, UU-type “don’t be a dick and everything will probably be alright” kind of thing.

Wait, that was three options, not two. So rather than 50/50 I was…33.3333/33.3333/33.3333…ish. Shout out to infinite decimals, heyyyyy.

Fucking A, where was I?

Ok, yes. Universal Life Church. I held my breath, clicked on the link, and was immediately greeted with a cheerful banner image of a dove in flight, with the words “We are all children of the same Universe”. Following this was a link to a video of Conan O’Brien proffering his own certificate of ordination from Universal Life Church. I exhaled. These were clearly my people.

There was a big blue button mid-page that said “Online Ordination”, flanked with what I originally thought were lightening bolts (me, internally: fuck yes, let’s get Norse up in this motherfucker! Zap me with some Odin-juice! Wait…), but what I now see are actually rough approximations of olive branches. Which make more sense, to be fair…but are a little on the boring side.

I clicked on the button. Through the dark arts of tiny HTML gnomes with pixel-axes (get it? Heeee), I was whisked to another page which said a bunch of stuff about how this ordination was legal in all states, how I couldn’t lie and give a fake name, some crap about online communities that were available if I had questions, etc. Much more interestingly, there was also a sidebar showing some of the other famous people in addition to Conan who had been ordained through the site. You know,  in case I needed more confirmation that I would be in truly esteemed company. The list included such luminaries as:

  •  Lady Gaga
  •  Stephen Colbert
  •  Ian McKellan
  •  Paul McCartney
  •  Richard Branson (maybe not as compelling of a selling point as they think)
  •  that Beneflick Clumbermonk guy, and…

…wait for it…

…waaaaaaitttt…

…Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who I personally have oft considered worshiping as a supreme being in and of himself.

sold

 I couldn’t hit that next big, blue, definitely-olive-branch-and-not-lightening-bolt-festooned button that said “Begin Ordination Now” fast enough.

The next step was a web form to fill in. First and last name, email address, state and country of residence, and password to use for the site. I filled it all in and read the fine print at the bottom, which was just some junk about being 18 years of age, and how to access your paperwork later on.

I hovered over the “Submit Ordination Request” button for a minute, wondering what I was getting myself info. Would there be a background check? Would I have to submit references who could vouch for the fact that I’m not secretly a puppy-kicker? Would I have to demonstrate my knowledge of…well, anything?

My gaze floated back up to the ecstatic pearly grin of Mr. The Rock. It was almost as if he was offering a benediction through the computer screen, a blessing for my interminable curiosity and the weird places it often takes me. And my roody-poo candy ass, of course.

f7bb86bbbe9353179a5bd66084e2220a

I’m shining it, Mr. The Rock. I’m shining it! (If you’re unfamiliar with The Rock’s wrestling catchphrases, that’s going to sound really sordid out of context. I acknowledge this, but I do not apologize.)

I don’t THINK I actually uttered the words “I’m doing this for you, Rock…” out loud as I hit the button. My co-worker didn’t ask what the shit I was talking about at least, so I’m probably safe.

A split second after I hit the button, the screen flashed up with a big certificate with my name across it (my real name…I didn’t lie to the church like I do to most of social media), proclaiming me officially ordained, legally capable of performing marriages…

…and starting my own ministry.

[ Imagine a picture of my official certificate here. I can’t actually show it to you because it costs $39.95 to download and I haven’t coughed that up yet. You’ll just have to trust me.]

That’s right. I could actually start a Church of Rhubarbology, if I so chose. Or a United Church of Swank. Or I could start a religion where there were ascending orders of holiness named after the chapters in The Hobbit, where you’d have to complete thematic initiation rites for each order. I could start an actual church devoted to the worship of perfect avocados. Or the smell of freshly cut hay.

I COULD CREATE THE CHURCH OF LATTER-DAY STEVES.

squirrel

Praise Nuts!

In all seriousness, though: I didn’t actually do this as a joke. I saw the potential for amusement in it, sure…but my sincere motivation was to be able to make myself available to conduct marriage ceremonies for people that might otherwise have a hard time finding someone to do so. It is remarkable and continually infuriating to me that we still live in a country where some people can’t love who they want to love without being given a load of shit about it. If my silly little ordination adventure can be counted as taking a stand against that oppression, then I’m truly proud to do it.

And if you’ve already got an officiant for your big gay wedding but are having trouble finding someone to bake you a cake, I can sort you out there, too.

I promise I won’t even make you have rhubarb as one of the flavors.

Gay_flag.svg

 Happy Pride!

history

Once upon a time there was  a woman named Rhubarb. Her name wasn’t REALLY Rhubarb but she was paranoid about getting found out and losing her job so she started calling herself Rhubarb online because she liked the sound of it and also rhubarb was her favorite type of pie and besides she’d always had kind of a thing for hiding behind screen names that sound cooler than she ever hoped to be in real life.

Anyway.

Rhubarb’s brain was full of weasels. Not real weasels, but thought-weasels. The weasels gnawed away at her insides by whispering terrible things:

“You’ll never amount to anything. You’re not as smart as they said you were as a child. No one likes you. They just hang out with you because they feel bad for you. They feel bad for you because they see how you struggle with the simplest things. They laugh behind your back. You can’t even speak in complete sentences half the time! You’re too slow, you take up too much space, you’re in everyone’s way. You’re a burden to those you care about. You’d be better off just walling yourself off and becoming a hermit. Don’t kill yourself because that would make you even MORE of a burden to those you care about. Just push everything inward, keep compacting yourself until you implode, like a neutron star. Except you probably couldn’t even do that right because nothing you do is ever good enough…”

She went to the doctor and got some medicine to try and purge the weasels, but all it did was muffle them on an inconsistent basis. Their whispers still broke through. Their gnawing still drew blood. The doctor gave her some other medicine, and some other medicine, and some other medicine. Some of the medicine worked some of the time, some of the medicine worked none of the time. None of the medicine worked for very long.

Rhubarb got sick of dealing with medicines that only sometimes sort of worked. She went to a different doctor who wanted to talk instead. Rhubarb talked and cried, and talked some more and cried a LOT more, because the weasels fought and bit and thrashed. They were not fans of the talking.

One of the things talk-doctor asked Rhubarb was what she liked to do. Rhubarb liked to make things with her hands: things with string, things with paint, things with wood and music and words and whatever else she could get to hang together in some precarious way. Making things gave Rhubarb’s motor some steering and wheels, it gave her the means to distance herself from the weasels, even if only for a short while. The talk-doctor suggested that Rhubarb try to cultivate a habit of making as a way of keeping the weasels at bay. That seemed like a decent idea so Rhubarb gave it a try. She was already making things with string or paint or food most days, though. She needed something new.

When Rhubarb was a girl, writing had been one of her favorite things. A couple of her teachers made noise about how she was OK at it, which made her feel good. Writing fell by the wayside for her not long after high school, though. Rhubarb went to college and got pretty brain-sick with a big weasel infestation not long after, then got kicked out of college, had to become an Adult (not recommended), and didn’t  have the time or energy to write for a long time after that. It was something that she often missed and was sad about having given up. When talk-doctor told her to find something to make a habit of making, she decided that writing could maybe be her making thing. Her brain-weasel fighting thing.

Rhubarb started a blog about cooking, which was another making thing she really enjoyed and was pretty good at. That blog was fun for a while but the weasels eventually found a way in. Rhubarb started to feel like the blog would never be good enough and was pointless if she wasn’t going to try to turn it into some kind of actual enterprise. Because, you see, the weasels do a really good job of convincing Rhubarb that having fun isn’t as important as getting peoples’ approval. So, she quit. She ran away from the cooking blog, giving herself up to the weasels’ picking and gnawing for a while.

One afternoon many months later, Rhubarb wrote an account of something amusing that had happened to her and posted it on Facebook. A friend from childhood, one that she had only recently reconnected with via the dark magic of social media, commented on the story that it reminded them of The Bloggess, and suggested that Rhubarb should write a blog about her (mis?)adventures. Rhubarb had heard of The Bloggess but hadn’t read a ton of her writing, so off she went to look her up, and down the rabbit hole she fell. The Bloggess was weird and hilarious and dark, and she was honest about her brokenness. The Bloggess held her busted bits up for the light to shine through, and Rhubarb saw a constellation that looked a lot like herself. She wanted to do that – use stories about the ridiculousness of life to make people laugh, and stories about her own brain weasels to make people maybe not feel quite so all alone.

So, Rhubarb bought a domain name called How Bad Can It Go and started venting some of her spleen on the internet. She hasn’t made a single dollar doing so as of yet and thus must keep using her fake name so that she doesn’t get found out, get fired, have to file for bankruptcy, lose everything, move into a tarp-and-stick tent in the woods, and spend her days trying to figure out how to make herself eat grubs for nourishment.

The End.

****

This post came about because I got nominated for one of those chain-letter-esque “blogger recognition awards” (by the inimitable Non-Euclidean Sofa – you should read her blog, it’s very funny). Those things always come with rules, and one of the rules of this one was to give a brief story of how your blog started. A thousand words is brief, right? I mean, in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s the complete listing of rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.  (check)

Give a brief story of how your blog started.  (cheeeeeeck?)

Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.  (1. Don’t, there are already way too many of us and the box the internet lives in only has so much space. 2. This is more of a life tip than a specific blogging tip: be yourself and be OK with that not being interesting to some people. I fucking hate spiders, but some people like them. There’s no accounting for taste. Just do you and don’t base your sense of self worth on whether anyone else likes it because life is bound to be eternally disappointing to you otherwise. I’m old and I’ve learned the hard way. Trust me on this.)

Select 10 other bloggers you want to give this award to. (No. I don’t even fucking have time to read five other blogs, let alone ten. What do you think I am, a kept woman lounging with her tablet and her box of bonbons by the poolside day in and day out?)

Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created. (Not applicable because I’m a jerk who isn’t participating in the circle-jerk portion of the proceedings. Which is not to say that anyone who does is lame, mind you. I’m the lame one for not participating, but I’m ok with that. Like my Twitter bio says, I’m Next Level Awful. Which, as an aside, I’ve been considering using as a new name for this blog. It’s probably already taken, though. Kids these days, snapping up all the good domain names. YOU RUINED THE INTERNET. GET OFF MY LAWN.)

Alright, I think we’re done here. Thanks again to Non-Euclidean Sofa for the nod. I make a lot of noise about these things being silly, but it’s still nice to know someone other than my three meat-space friends (Pterodactyl club for the win!) is occasionally enjoying what I write.

Peace out.

ice

Word to your mother.

ants

There are times, like this morning, when I can’t sit still. It’s a physical feeling: the proverbial ants in my pants. I don’t feel the sensation of actual bugs on my skin though (thankfully, because that kind of shit is pretty high on my Not Cool list). It’s more like kind of a low-level buzz under my skin, but not quite IN my muscles. Like in my fascia, I guess? I don’t know. I’m not a frigging doctor, Janet.

Sometimes I only feel it in one or two spots. That’s the best case scenario, because that often means I can find a way to shake it out. When it’s in my lower legs I might be able to clear it up with a bout of the classic leg-bouncing-under-the-desk, or as my mom refers to it, ‘jigging’. If it’s in my thighs or hips, doing squats may help. Shoulder and back twitchy-ness often responds well to wall yoga poses and stretches.

When the twitch hits everywhere all at once, it’s not quite so easy to manage. I usually start out fighting it, doing my best to stay in my chair and get my work done. It’s a fight I don’t often win though, because it almost never goes away on its own. Sometimes a trip downstairs to fill my water bottle or get a cup of coffee will help. Sometimes I walk laps around the conference room table, or go down to the shipping room two floors away and count the rolls of packing tape we have in stock. I have a convertible workstation and can pull my desk up to work from a standing position, but trying to stand still is often almost as bad as trying to sit still. I’ve been standing for almost an hour as I type this, and I’ve been alternating between knee bends, shuffling my feet back and forth, and stretching pretty much the whole time. Between the constant movement and making myself write this post (thus giving my hamster brain a new wheel to spin in for a while), the twitch is finally starting to calm down a little bit.

It’s all in my head. I don’t need a doctor to tell me that. The twitch is the physical manifestation of the anxiety my ADHD causes.

It’s the spill-over from when the always-brimming-full cup of word soup that wobbles precariously in my skull gets nudged and sloshes over the side.

It’s my body reminding me that the more I fight this faulty wiring in my head rather than trying to find ways to make it work for me, the harder I make things for myself.

 

ants

a month and a day

It’s been a month and a day since we lost Junior.

This morning on the way out the door to head to work, I almost turned to Mark and asked him to check if Junie’s water dish was full. The dish hasn’t been in its spot for a month and a day.

I don’t hear him anymore, at least. For the first few days, I’d swear I could hear him snuffling in the living room or at the foot of the bed at night. I think my brain just automatically knew what sounds he’d be making when, and was filling them in of its own accord. My brain only wants to be helpful with remembering things when it comes to me being haunted, I guess. Go figure.

We still have all of his stuff. His bowls got washed and tucked away in the cupboard almost as soon as we got home. His harness and leash are still on the back seat of the car, which seems perfectly fitting as going for rides was just about his favorite activity. Most of his toys are still piled up in the same place we always returned them to on the rare occasion we bothered to tidy them. A few of his special toys got put aside in other places – his little stuffed bantha sits atop the carved wooden box his ashes are in on the table-cum-altar in the living room. LeRoy, the wee squeaky giraffe whose squeaker gave out but who Junie still often picked up and tried to make squeak, now resides on the bookshelf with some other mementos. L’Alligator the stuffed alligator whose head I once had to surgically reattach due to Junie’s frequent, enthusiastic attentions, sits on the desk upstairs in our bedroom. He’s a far quieter night sentry than Junior ever was, but we do feel like he’s getting the job done OK so far.

His beds are still there, all four of them (one for each bedroom and two in the living room), though Mark moved the one from the foot of our bed into the spare bedroom, and I tucked the favorite living room bed under the other, deeply hated living room bed (he took after me and had a complicated relationship with beds), so that we wouldn’t have to see them empty. We really should get rid of at least two of the beds. One belonged to our old dog Buttons and predated Junior by several years. The faux sheepskin atop the other one bears the scars of much scuffing, as Maltese tend to like to scratch up their bedding into a suitable nest before settling down to nap. We should go through the dozens of toys and donate some of them to the local shelter as well…but we’re not there yet.

It’s only been a month and a day, after all.

 

 

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L’Alligator and Junior

we goat this

Today is my 8th wedding anniversary.

My husband got me a nice card  and wrote a heartfelt note in it, then wrote a further heartfelt post on Facebook and included a link to our wedding song.

The card I got him has two baby goats on the front and inside it says “we goat together”. It was completely selfish because I’m the one that loves goats, not him. I also don’t have the attention span to stand in the store and read all the lines of text on all the pretty, sentimental cards. I suck at heartfelt notes, too. I’m really more of a long-form person.

And yet, for some reason he thinks I’m a keeper. I have a feeling a lot of it is to do with my willingness to incorporate bacon and/or cheese into most dishes that I cook.

My husband is a lot of things. He’s smart, but he’ll tell you he’s not. He’s an excellent writer. He is kind and has a generous spirit – he’s forever helping people out, even people he doesn’t know and will never meet. He’s principled but also compassionate. He’s funny.  He sings his guts out no matter who might hear, because music is more important than what the neighbors think. He is sentimental and deeply sensitive. He has no time for close-minded, intolerant people, and yet he can somehow still be nice to them (which I am always in awe of, because it’s something I am utterly incapable of doing). He’s a champion-level trip planner, he’s incredible at cards (and most games in general, much to his poor-loser wife’s chagrin), and though he’d never in a million years admit it, he’s a natural leader. He’s wildly charming. He could sell ice to a polar bear at twice the normal mark-up and the polar bear would leave thinking she’d gotten such a good deal that she’d send all his friends over to buy ice from him as well. And, probably most important when it comes to being married to me, he has the patience of a god damned saint. Like, if there were a Nobel Prize for patience, they’d just rename it the Mark Armitage prize and stop even trying to give it to anyone else because no one else would ever even be in the running.

He keeps me afloat on days when all I can imagine doing is sinking. He laughs at my awful, puerile, completely inappropriate jokes. He drags me out of my shell and forces me to be social, but he’s also gentle and understands when I say I’m not up to it. He tolerates my inability to keep house and my (literal) piles of yarn. While he may not entirely understand my compulsive drive to always be making things, he never complains about the whiplash-inducing frequency with which I switch from craft to craft. He doesn’t hold my lack of executive functioning capability against me and he respects the weird routines I come up with to try and keep myself somewhat regulated. When I fall apart crying and can’t explain why, he doesn’t try to fix things and he doesn’t back away. He doesn’t think it’s weird that I stand outside for extended periods of time talking to the birds in the yard, or that I try to make friends with every animal that crosses my path (even when it’s maybe not super wise to do so), or that I sometimes repeat things over and over to myself in funny voices.

We’re not perfect. I’m still trying to learn how to not be alone inside my head all the damn time. Neither of us are A+ communicators, which is funny given that we both like to write. We’re both prone to making piles of stuff, and neither of us are super great at choosing to do chores when there’s fun stuff we could be doing instead. He takes really long baths and doesn’t like Led Zeppelin.  But at the end of the day, we don’t have to be perfect, because we have each other to lean on and that’s better anyway.

And I’m still convinced that he’ll come around on the Led Zeppelin thing some day…

i-goat-this

My first two goats are going to be named Page and Plant. Just saying.

sonic coping strategy

Music has always been important to me. Neither of my parents played instruments, at least not in my lifetime, but they both liked listening to music so it was a common feature in my early life. My mom liked contemporary rock – Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, John Cougar Mellencamp. Saturday mornings were for cleaning the house, and dancing around to ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ got us through many a post-cartoon bout of dusting and putting away laundry. My dad was into older, harder stuff – Z.Z. Top, Blue Oyster Cult, Cream, Pink Floyd, old Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin. He also liked country though, so I was just as likely to be singing along to ‘Mama, He’s Crazy’ by the Judds rather than Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ when I was with him.

When I was old enough to have my own little boombox as a kid, the first things I went for were pop – Michael Jackson (‘Bad’ was the very first tape I ever got) and Paula Abdul featured heavily – but I also started exploring a lot of my parents’ cassettes too. Albums like Aerosmith’s ‘Toys In The Attic’, The Grateful Dead’s ‘Shakedown Street’, and Billy Joel’s ‘An Innocent Man’, along with greatest hits compilations from Steppenwolf and The Beatles, all made it into my regular rotation. We didn’t have a lot of money so I couldn’t go out and buy new music very often, but it didn’t take me long to discover that time-honored 80’s tradition of taping music off the radio. I recorded the local rock station most often, as that’s what my little boom-box picked up with the best reception. This introduced me to such wonders as The Scorpions, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Guns ‘n Roses, and Metallica. By middle school I had a part-time job and a little pocket money, almost all of which was usually spent on music. Hip-hop was just starting to show up in the music stores up here around that time, and I embraced acts like MC Hammer, C+C Music Factory, and Digital Underground with the fervor only a newly minted teenager looking to set herself apart from the tastes of her parents’ generation can muster. High school ushered in my (predictable, in retrospect) transition to harder rock and goth music. I was obsessed with The Crow (again, predictable), and the soundtrack to that movie introduced me to groups like Nine Inch Nails, Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against The Machine – all groups I still adore more than two decades on. When ADHD first reared its head and I started having trouble concentrating as a teenager, music helped considerably. Counting Crows’ ‘August and Everything After’ got me through many hours of homework, and the first short story I ever wrote was to an endless loop of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’.

Today, I’m a grumpy middle-aged woman with a very boring day job. Alas, all those fantasies of becoming a musician didn’t pan out (not that I tried to make them, admittedly), but music is still a deeply important part of my day-to-day life. It has become my main coping strategy, not just in terms of dealing with my ADHD symptoms, but also my depression and anxiety. When I’m having a particularly anxious day, I’ll listen to a lot of Bow Thayer and Patrick Ross, wonderful local bluegrass / folk artists whose shows I’ve attended many times and who serve as anchors to the here-and-now for me. When I’m angry, I go for the catharsis of Rage Against The Machine, Incubus or Audioslave (I hope you found peace,Chris. You will be missed so much more than you could ever have imagined). If I need to power through piles of particularly boring data entry, I like the flow of older hip-hop and rap like A Tribe Called Quest, WuTang Clan, and The Beastie Boys, or the driving, trance-like beats of EDM.

If you have any favorite artists or playlists that help get you through the day, I’d love to hear about them. I use Spotify at work and enjoy exploring new music. I’ll listen to anything once! My main playlist, which is a super mixed up mess of everything from funk to metal to rap to comedy tracks, can be found here if you want to do some exploring of your own, or just want to listen along with me at work.

 

supernom

I’d claim this is a self-portrait, but my nails are nowhere near that long.

how to life

Jill is 37 years old. She’s married, has two children, and works full time. She has hobbies. She likes to socialize with her friends, and she makes sure to get an hour of exercise three times a week. She feeds herself responsibly and stays informed on current affairs. And she handles all of this while still managing to get a solid eight hours of sleep a night.

How does she do all this and still stay sane?

Fucked if I know.

For me, there aren’t actually enough hours in the day to live that life. I’m lucky if I can maintain any three of the items listed above for any given period of time. I can work, have hobbies, and feed myself. Or, I can exercise, have a social life, and sleep. If my hobbies were exercising and staying informed on current affairs, then I could probably also work and feed myself.  If socializing entailed doing hobbies with people, and my hobbies were working and feeding myself, then I could have hobbies, work, feed myself, AND socialize…?

This makes life feel like algebra to me. You know how in algebra class the teacher would solve a problem on the board step by step and it made perfect sense, but then when you went to do the homework, you’d be staring at the problems like they were some alien language and you didn’t have the first clue how to even start solving them? No, just me? Well I failed algebra twice, and now you know why. ANYWAY, my point is, lately it feels like I’m watching other adults live their lives and thinking “see? It’s not so hard. It makes sense! Just follow the steps”, but when I go to apply the steps to my own life, they’re suddenly written in alien and Mrs. Smith is writing a big red F on the report card that is my life.

Part of the problem, I know, is the mindset that life is somehow pass / fail. It’s not like if you fail at life, you have to go through a summer-school version of life…and there’s no honor roll for passing life. My particular brain chemistry and upbringing have combined to make me tend toward seeing things in very binary, black and white, either-or ways. You either pass or you fail. You’re either happy or you’re depressed. You either like lima beans or you’re sane. You get the picture. It’s something that I wrestle with regularly. When I find myself having those black-and-white thought patterns, I have to remind myself that very few things are actually that simple, that we all exist in various spectra and on various planes.

Society is also partially to blame. Society has taught a few generations of us that there are certain boxes you must check off to be considered successful in life: get married, have kids, own a home, get promoted at work, be healthy, be an engaged citizen. This road-map is so deeply ingrained in many of us that we never even stop to consider that NOT following it could actually be a viable option. It’s certainly better now than it was 50 years ago, but still. If you pay attention, you begin to notice all the subtle ways that we as a society have found to reinforce the idea of this road-map, and the ways we’ve come up with to punish those who don’t conform (either by choice or by circumstance).

All of this is to say, I’ve been down on myself about some of the ways I’ve been “failing at life” lately, but I need to remember that feeling like a failure is not requisite. Life is not black and white. I am not required to have a social life or to exercise if I don’t think I can handle that today. Not wanting children doesn’t make me a bad person, nor does eating take-out for dinner. Shutting off social media and not listening to the news for a few days will not result in my being punished. Letting one hobby languish while I pursue another one isn’t going to get me a big red F on the report card of life.

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“What? I wasn’t listening. Turns out I AM just a pretty face, Mahm. And I’m totally OK with that. Now give me a cookie.”