good enough

I keep writing blog posts and then not posting them because they’re not good enough. In reality they’re fine, but in my head they’re not funny enough, they don’t make sense, they’re boring, they make me sound dickish (which isn’t untrue, but still)…and who the fuck knows what else.

This is the brain weasels talking. That stuff about not being good enough, I mean. Not this right now. This is me. The weasels haven’t completely taken over. At least, I don’t THINK they have. Maybe they’ve gone all dark ops and actually HAVE taken over and I just don’t realize it. Shit, that’s terrifying. Let’s back away from that one.

Point being…I’m still here and doing the thing. I’m just kind of lacking in my follow-through lately. And that’s ok. It’s not ideal…but it’s ok. It could be worse.

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“Yeah, I mean, you could have some crazy lady with a camera stalking you like a fucking paparazzi when you’re just minding your own business, trying to get your clover munch on. GOD.”  *woodchuck huff*

 

a little TOO quiet

My desk at work is an L shape, except the corner of the L is chopped off. The only reason I can think of for the builder to have chopped off the corner of the L is that it would have partially blocked the window behind it, but the whole far leg of the L blocks the next window in exactly the same manner, so why the fuck would it even MATTER, you know?

This isn’t even relevant to what I wanted to talk about, by the way. It’s just something I was thinking about when I took the picture I’m going to show you shortly, and also I didn’t sleep well last night so filtering my thoughts is right out the (partially blocked) window at this point. Har har har.

ANYWAY.

This is my workspace:

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None of that cutlery is currently clean. Don’t judge me. Also, I have no idea how my mouse pad got turned upside down. Weird.

Off to the extreme left of the picture, obscured by glare because I’m not a professional photographer and I was stealthily taking this picture while my boss was in the bathroom so I didn’t have time to re-position for 14 different shots, is a long, thin grey box called a network switch:

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It looks like it’s written on the window in blood. Mwa-hahaha. Ew.

The switch has been sitting there shunting electrons hither and thither around the office for at least the five years that I’ve been sitting at this desk. Probably longer. It’s always a fucking production when the IT guy comes in to replace or fix things, so I’m pretty sure the advent of the switch being changed out would have stuck in my mind.

Which brings me back around to my actual story.

The switch in the picture is a new one because the old one started to sound like a helicopter touching down. The degradation wasn’t a sudden thing by any means. The switch had been exhibiting a normal-ish electronic hum for many months…years, even. It would ramp up to more of a refrigerator-like hum when the weather got very warm, but it wasn’t really distracting. And that’s saying something, considering I am the QUEEN of getting distracted by noises. I can’t NOT hear every noise going on around me, especially at work…but the hum of the switch even on its loudest days was just kind of a wall of white noise off to my left and it didn’t bother me.

Fast forward to last week. We had a couple of warm days in a row, and on the third morning we came in to find that the hum of the switch had escalated to near air-conditioner levels. This thing is like four feet from me when I’m sitting at my desk and I started to get a little bit worried about it exploding or something. I don’t think they actually DO that, but still. Never hurts to fret, right? My boss walked in later that morning and asked where the noise was coming from. We pointed at the switch. He said he’d ask IT to change it out. We muttered about not holding our breaths and got back to work.

A week later, the IT guy showed up at my desk with a new switch and commenced with his usual over-dramatic explanation of what needed to be done, how much work it would be for him, how long we’d all be offline, and the general piss-poor state of all the electronics in the building (side-note: why do IT guys do this? It’s effectively saying ‘I’m shit at my job’). I nodded and smiled, then fucked off downstairs to get a cup of coffee, leaving him to unplug cables from one box and plug them all into another.

Ten minutes later, I returned to my desk…and to a gaping maw of silence. The new switch made no sound at all. Not even the barest hum! It was CREEPY. I commented to my office-mate that the silence was making me feel off-balance, like something that I’d been leaning against on the left was now gone. He looked at me like I had two heads (which is his usual response when I open my mouth).

“Do you want me to turn my music up louder to compensate?” he asked.

“NO NO, that’s ok, I’ll get used to it”, I said, trying my best not to look panicked at the idea of having to hear any more of his music than strictly necessary.

And, to be fair, I WILL get used to it…but in the meantime, it’s totally weirding me out. I didn’t realize just how much I relied on that background noise until it was gone. Even when I’ve got my headphones in, I SWEAR can notice the lack of white noise off to the left. And on a day like today, when office-mate and his terrible music aren’t around, the quiet is like a black hole threatening to suck me in, break me down to atoms of the elements that make up my body, and spit me out the other side into an alternate universe where the Big Bang hasn’t happened yet and I might end up being part of a rock in several billion years. Or something.

Also, not having the white noise means I can now hear every fart, groan and trickle from the adjacent bathroom.

Nobody wins when you can hear the boss’s Metformin poops, trust me.

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.

 

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

a curious hole

A couple weeks ago I was out in the back yard tending to the bird feeders when I saw A Curious Hole dug in between the roots of a giant maple tree.

 

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NOTE: The peanuts weren’t there when I found the Hole. Pretend you can’t see those yet.

 

I got all excited because I was fairly certain it was a Steve-hole (all chipmunks are Steve), and thus Steve-Watch 2017 officially kicked off.

Steve-Watch activities include, but are not limited to:

  • obsessively watching the suspected Steve-hole from the kitchen and bedroom windows at every opportunity,
  • getting overly excited whenever something moves in the leaf litter around the suspected Steve-hole and adjacent environs,
  • crushing disappointment and cursing of sparrows that have the nerve to look vaguely Steve-like in the leaf litter,
  • leaving handfuls of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and dried berries near the Steve-hole as tribute / Steve bait, while simultaneously making a specific clicking noise with my mouth so that any Steves in the area begin to associate said noise with me and also a bountiful supply of delicious snacks (this is rooted in science, people. I don’t just make this shit up. Well, not ALL of it, anyway),

…you get the picture.

It should be noted, by the way, that these are not whole-household activities. Mark will happily watch Steves out the window with me, but he participates in none of the pacing, muttering, or HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC baiting / grooming activities that I engage in. It’s fine. He has hobbies I don’t share. They’re hobbies that don’t include making friends with painfully adorable woodland creatures so clearly they’re INFERIOR hobbies, but that’s cool. Whatever floats his boat.

ANYWAY.

Yesterday afternoon I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing a frying pan to make dinner in, and I saw a scuttle in the leaf litter outside. Muttering about useless fucking sparrows, I leaned closer to the window and squinted (note to self: buy binoculars, and maybe also stronger glasses), trying to confirm my suspicions.

Except it wasn’t a sparrow at all.

“Steve!” I yelped, and then I went full Hodor: “Steve! Steve! STEVE! STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVE!”

As I watched one adorable Steve scuttle up the maple tree and perch on the edge of the abandoned bird house, more scuffling at the base of the trunk caught my eye.

Another Steve poked his / her head directly out of the Steve-hole. I jumped up and down.

“ohmigod, two! TWO STEVES! DOUBLE STEVE-AGE, OH MY GERDDDDD!”

Mark had gone upstairs a few minutes before to…I don’t know, something. Maybe he was in the bathroom? (Sorry if I interrupted your post-work poop, babe). He came thundering down the stairs to see what all the commotion was about and found me stuck in front of the kitchen window, pointing and doing my excited dance with a frying pan in my hand.

“Did I hear something about a Steve?” he asked.

“Two. TWO STEVES.”  I gestured toward the window with the frying pan. The Steve that had been in the Steve-hole ducked back down out of sight.

“Two? I only see one, up there on the bird house.”  Mark side-eyed me.

“THERE WERE TWO, I SAW THEM. The one in the hole just popped back down but it was totally there a second ago.”

He smirked.

“Are you sure you didn’t just get so excited that you started seeing Steves everywhere?”

“Absolutely not. You cannot gaslight me about Steves. There were DEFINITELY two. Look, look! There goes the second one off into the brush!”  I flailed at the window and then realized I should really put down the frying pan.

“Ok, if you say so.”

He patted me on the shoulder and then wandered back into the living room to do whatever whack-ass inferior non-Steve-related things he does.

I had been almost ready to start dinner when this whole thing started, by the way. Steak, salad fixings, potatoes, were all sitting on the counter waiting for me to do something with them. I looked at them, looked back out the window at the frolicking Steves, then turned to the other end of the counter and grabbed a handful of peanuts from the bag sitting there.

“I gotta go make friends, I’ll be back!” I said over my shoulder on my way out the door.

Out around the back corner of the building, I started making my very scientific clicking noise, alternating with talking in soothing, Steve-friendly, sing-songy tones.

“Steeeeves? St-EEEE-eeeves. I have delicious peanuts, Steeeeeves. I just want to be your friend, Steeeeves.”

It sounds creepy as fuck when it’s typed out, but I assure you, it was soothing. SCIENCE.

Birdhouse Steve eyed me from its perch. Steve-hole Steve was back at that point. It sniffed in my direction but didn’t move. I crept closer, crouching down as much as my fatness and bad knees would allow, continuing the (scientifically proven, patent pending) clicking noises. A rustle off to the right broke my concentration. I turned to look, just in time to see a third Steve poke its precious snoot out from under some leaves.

THREE STEVES, PEOPLE.

Troix Stéphanes.

Tres Estebans.

I about lost my god. damned. mind.

My stifled squeal of excitement sent Birdhouse Steve bolting down the tree and over the bank, but Steve-hole Steve and Leaf Steve both stood their ground. Leaf Steve was clearly a juvenile – not a BABY-baby (because holy shit, you’d have heard THAT screech around the fucking globe), but one young enough to not be hyper-vigilant yet. It skittered around under my lilies with very little concern, stopping to eye me now and then as it munched sunflower seeds. I crouched down more and offered an un-shelled peanut in Leaf Steve’s direction. It sniffed toward the peanut a few times and even came within about eight inches of me, but in the end wouldn’t take the peanut from my hand.

And that’s fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

My dream of a personal cadre of tiny chipmunk ninjas can wait.

World domination is worth being patient for.

insert awkward title here

The other day I had to pick up a prescription. When I got to the pharmacy, I opted for the drive-through prescription pick-up window, because why the hell would you get out of the car if you don’t have to, am I right? MURICA!

Anyway.

I pulled around the corner of the building toward the pick-up window and chortled with glee because there was no one waiting in line. What luck! I reached into my bag to grab my wallet while I waited for the friendly face of the drug-dispensing angel to appear in the big plate-glass window. Something felt a little off about the car as I was rooting through my bag, so I glanced up and realized that the ‘off’ feeling was, in fact, the car continuing to move after I had come to a stop.

“OH SHIT. I guess I’m not in Park”, I yelped as I hit the brakes.  I put the car in reverse and backed up until I was even with the window again, just in time to see the tech behind the window losing her shit laughing at me. Apparently I had been loud enough to hear over the little speaker that lets them talk to the outside world.

With a cheerful smile, I commenced to explain to her how I had pulled up and forgotten to put the car in park while I was looking for my wallet. You know, despite the fact that she clearly saw the entire performance, heard me yell, etc.

Because I am THAT woman. The one that is not only impossibly awkward to begin with, but that also then feels she needs to explain the awkwardness (awkwardly, no doubt) to the observing parties. Then, to marinate a little longer in the extra awkward sauce, I write about these experiences on the Internet. Awkwardly.  And I’m OK with that nowadays. Well, more OK with it than I was as a kid, at least. Being awkward used to feel like the worst, most unbearable, most embarrassing thing ever. Now it’s a lot easier to take it in stride, to tell myself: “you could be a LOT worse things than weird. Like, you could be a serial killer. Or a puppy kicker. Or, OMG, a flat-Earth-er. An evolution denier! OK, stop, you’re getting yourself all wound up. Think of otters…”.

In the eternal words of Maurice Moss:

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Preach, Brother Moss.

I miss Adderall, and other things I want you to know

Did you like how I posted a week ago and didn’t mention anything about where I’d been for like the six or seven or whatever number of previous weeks? I thought that was pretty well done, myself. That’s some advanced-level avoidance strategy shit right there. Learn from the master, friends. I’ll have you perfecting your own existential crises in no time!

ANYWAY.

Time has passed. Shit has gone down.

My mom got sick with some heart problems back at the beginning of March and spent basically the whole month in the hospital. You ever notice how time just kind of…falls apart when you’re staying in / visiting a hospital? Airports have the same effect, I’ve found. But at least with airports, you’re usually going to get somewhere eventually. Hospitals are like limbo. You step into this weird in-between world where you can’t do anything except wait for someone to come along and tell you what the next thing you’re waiting for is. Anyway, my mom got to come home for a while and was doing relatively well, but that all kind of went to shit this past weekend, so back to hospital limbo she went. We’ve been orbiting the cardiac care unit so much the last eight weeks that many of the nurses now recognize us and greet us with familiarity. On the one hand I’m grateful that such caring people work there, but on the other hand…well. There are far more preferable places to be recognized and greeted as a regular.  The words “surgery” and “bypass” were finally eased into conversation yesterday, as the minimally-invasive things they’ve been trying just aren’t consistently helping. So…that’s a thing that’s apparently going to happen, though we don’t know when yet. It’s not a situation where she needs the surgery very immediately, and I’m extraordinarily grateful for that (as is she, I’m sure). The flip-side is that the longer she puts it off, the harder it’s going to be on her physically…and it’s already going to be a hell of a slog as it is. I tend to take the view that it’s better to rip the proverbial band-aid off all in one go than to slowly pick and peel at it, prolonging the pain and amplifying the mental stress…but this isn’t my band-aid to rip.

Which, I suppose, is as good a segue as any into the fact that I, TOO, had an episode of atrial fibrillation, right around the same time my mom went into the hospital for it. In fact, I was woken at 6am on a Tuesday by a text about my mom being taken to the ER, when I had just spent the previous evening in the ER myself. My atrial fibrillation was paroxysmal – a freak thing, basically. Except, it turns out that it maybe wasn’t so freakish after all, as we’ve learned through this process with my mom that there’s actually a pretty strong family history of a-fib and that there may well be a genetic component at play. Anyway – I self-regulated out of my episode (and there’s a joke about that being the only time I’ve ever successfully self-regulated anything, surely)., and was sent home with advice to stop taking Adderall to treat my ADD, at least until after I met with cardiology. ‘Sure, no problem’, I thought, ‘it’s not like it helps me all that much anyway”. A battery of tests with cardiology determined that I wasn’t having regular bouts of a-fib and didn’t really need any special treatment for it (YAY!), but then there was the bad news: my cardiologist thought it would be best if I stayed off stimulant meds from now on. Adderall, as you likely know, is a stimulant, as is basically every other effective ADD med.

I had been off meds for about six weeks at that point and had been really struggling with…everything, basically. My particular flavor of ADD involves some classic focus problems, but it also comes with a big ol’ steaming pile of anxiety as well. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you know that it’s often irrational, and always very difficult to shut off once you get into that mode. It starts out as this little dinky toy train chugging along a track, spewing out thoughts like ‘hmm, what was that weird pain I just had’, and ‘Boss just closed the office door, he must be talking about me’. Eventually it grows into this gigantic roaring high-speed passenger train full of brain weasels, hurtling toward me with gems like ‘I can’t seem to accomplish even the most simple tasks without screwing up 14 times and clearly everyone thinks I’m a loser and they only hang around with me because they feel sorry for me and once I lose my job due to being a fuck-up I’ll be homeless and I won’t be able to take care of my dog and I’ll have to give him up and my husband will leave me because he’s only hanging around for the dog anyway and it’s not even going to matter because that weird twinge in my leg is clearly a blood clot that’s going to travel to my brain and I just wish it would happen already and get it over with so I can finally get some fucking rest oh my god normal people don’t think shit like that what the fuck is my problem maybe I need to be committed’… you get the picture. Adderall certainly didn’t CURE me of that constant barrage of mental fuckery, but it usually turned the volume down on it. It allowed me to more easily get shit done, which in turn made me feel like less of a failure in general and kept the doom-train at a reasonable size. But I can’t have Adderall anymore. So you see the problem there.

My doctors are great and they’re definitely trying to help. I started a new, non-stimulant med (Intuniv – apparently it’s not used much for ADD in adults, more-so in children) on Friday and it will take a few weeks to titrate up to a therapeutic dose of that. It’s already helping a little bit in that it makes me sleepy (I take it at night) and it seems to be making me actually sleep THROUGH the night, which I haven’t done on a regular basis like, ever. And I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, before we had smartphones and tablets and all this other shit, so when I wasn’t sleeping through the night at 12 years old, it wasn’t like anyone could blame Faceblotch or Snapcrack or whatever devil music whippersnappers are into these days. *shakes cane thoroughly*

Anyway – the point of word-barfing all this at you was just mostly to make myself feel a little better, I guess. Having focus problems makes me kind of a quitter (I even said it at the very beginning), or even worse, it makes me someone who just lets things peter out because I’ve lost interest / hit a road block / feel like I’m not good enough at it…and I fucking hate that. Every time I catch myself being like ‘meh, maybe I’ll just abandon the blog’, I get pissed off at myself and vow to MAKE myself post. Except, then I sometimes see a butterfly or some shiny tinfoil or a donut and get distracted, but I do get back here eventually…

…if only to make myself feel like less of a big quitting quitter McQuitface with Quits Disease and a massive deficiency of Vitamin Do The Thing.

Did I mention I miss Adderall? That’s where this whole thing was meant to be going.

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Also, we took a trip to Wales at the beginning of April. One of the fun things about Wales is that all the signs are bilingual. The word for ‘moron’ in Welsh is ‘carrots’!                                                I am easily amused.

 

one of these things is not like the others

Every once in a while I click over to the spam folder in my email to scan for non-spam emails, because computers are imperfect, etc.  Normally the subject lines are pretty predictable – lots of “OMG TEH WORLD IS ENDING” stuff from various political organizations I’ve been silly enough to give my address to, some promotions from various websites I’ve purchased things from, and the occasional offer for black-market Canadian boner pills or plea from a Nigerian prince to launder $2 million.

Today, however, there was something just a little bit different. See if you can spot it:

 

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I…have questions. Chief among them being, ‘is this a list that anyone in the real world actually requires in 2017?’.

If the answer to that is yes, then I have more questions, which I’ll be asking once I have constructed and stocked my panic room.

the new neighbors

We live in what I think of as the rural equivalent of an apartment complex. Instead of one big building with lots of units stacked on top of each other, there are several smaller buildings with two units each, plus one single unit in a stand-alone house with a garage (which, those people are clearly just showing off). The way our building is set up, there’s an apartment in each end and a maybe ten foot wide covered entryway in between that we share.

Over the two years we’ve been here, we’ve seen a few neighbors come and go in the unit we share the entryway with. There was the suspected tweaker, there was my boss from my high school job at the local general store (that was…awkward. Especially during his poker nights when a giant cloud of weed smoke would come rolling out his front door every time it was opened. Not that I have the slightest problem with people smoking weed…it just seems odd when it’s someone who was an authority figure in your young adult life, you know? It’s kind of like if you happened upon your high school principle or soccer coach packing a fat bowl. Part of your brain is like ‘coooool’ while the other part is like ‘wait, WHAT?’), and there was the last guy who just moved out at the end of February. We’ll call him D.

D was basically the perfect neighbor (at least, for us): he was a trucker so he was often gone for a week or more at a time. He was also quite hard of hearing, so even when he WAS home, he wasn’t bothered by our yappy dog, my husband’s propensity to sing along to music while he walks said yappy dog, or my propensity to talk to the neighborhood wildlife. He happened to also be a very nice guy, what little we knew of him, so we were sad to see him go.

The new neighbors moved in last weekend. Aside from a mysterious pile of cat vomit that materialized next to our welcome mat (which I strategically ignored until it disappeared about 24 hours later.WIN!) the day they moved in, and the fact that the female inhabitant smokes in our shared entryway, they’ve given me nothing to complain about.

Except…and I know how batshit crazy this is going to sound, but that’s never stopped me before…

…they leave their outside light on. Like, ALL the time. 24 hours a day.

I didn’t think much of it at first because they were in the process of moving and that’s stressful, you know? Half your shit is at one place, half is somewhere else, everything’s in boxes and all you want is to cook a grilled cheese but you have no cheese and you can’t find the right pan and the cat hates the new apartment so he’s spite-vomiting in inopportune places. I totally get it.

After three days, though…it seems like you should have probably bought some cheese. You should have probably put the pans away and found a place for all your shoes and gotten the cable hooked up and hung the curtains. You should probably be better acquainted with the location of light switches. You can probably remember to shut the outside light off, if not when you go to bed at night, then certainly when you get up in the morning and the sun is shining.

And yes, I know, I’m an asshole because I’m not considering that maybe one of them works odd hours or maybe they came from a place where shit would get stolen or vandalized if people thought you weren’t home or any number of other reasons why they might choose to leave the light on. Also, yes, it’s their electric bill not mine, so what the hell should I care whether they leave the light on or not.

You’re not wrong. Just for the record. I’m not saying you are.

But it still fucking bothers me. It makes my god damned teeth itch.

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Exhibit A, taken in broad daylight. Why wouldn’t you shut it off? JUST SHUT IT OFF. OMG, my teeth. I can’t even.

gifts from the cleaning lady

Most days at work I’ll have a cup of tea, or more rarely, coffee. Around mid-morning the perpetual cold in my office will start to seep into my bones and I’ll need to enact self-warming measures or risk going into torpor (I’m half pterodactyl, you know), so I’ll grab my coffee cup and head for the kitchen. I return a few minutes later with a nice, hot beverage to go along with my renewed dislike of mankind in general. I sit down. I return to the tasks at hand. I slurp the hot beverage and feel the threat of torpor lessen. When I finish my drink, I set the cup off to the side of my desk and promptly forget it exists until the next time I want a hot drink. Washing the cup out while I wait for the water to heat up is just part of the ritual.

Except on Mondays.

On Mondays, my cup is pristine. There’s no ring of dried tea. There’s no quarter-inch deep puddle of coffee that I’ve abandoned because it has become so thick with grounds that it’s undrinkable. The inside of my coffee cup gleams white like new-fallen snow, and it never fails to make me smile.

Now don’t be fooled into thinking that this small miracle of tidiness is in any way due to foresight on my part on Friday afternoon. Oh, no. That kind of planning ahead isn’t how my brain works. If it were solely up to me, the coffee cup would sit all weekend and the Monday hot drink ritual would be just like every other day.

No, the Monday Morning Clean Cup is a gift the cleaning ladies bestow upon me. On Saturdays they come in and whisk around changing bin liners and wiping down bathrooms. They vacuum the carpets, they dust behind our monitors, they haul out the trash. They have plenty to to keep them busy on Saturday mornings. And yet, one of them always takes a couple minutes to pick up my cup, carry it out to the bathroom on the landing outside my office, give it a wash and a dry, and set it back on my desk.

You could argue that it’s just part of her job. Or that she’s getting paid by the hour, so the time it takes her to collect, wash, dry, and return coffee cups is more money in her pocket at the end of the day. Those points are fair enough. But do they take any of the shine off my clean coffee cup? Do they cheapen the tiny joy I feel when I go to make my hot drink of a Monday morning?

Nope.

The clean cup is a gift because I decide to see it as such.

I’m by no means immune to cynicism, to assuming everyone has ulterior motives. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I have a dislike for mankind in general, and that’s not something I just throw out there for LOLs (the pterodactyl part is still up for debate until someone pays for me to have DNA testing done, though). I’m not refusing to believe that the cleaning lady is personally benefiting in some way from washing my coffee cup every Saturday. I choose to be thankful for it anyway. It’s not like my mug would be any cleaner if it had a final rinse of pure altruism. My tea wouldn’t taste any better if I knew that the person who cleaned my cup was doing so of their own volition with no monetary motivation or sense of duty. The gesture is no less meaningful because someone else is benefiting from it.

This unconditional thankfulness isn’t something I’m good at, but it’s something I think is worth trying to practice. I am reminded of this every Monday morning when I go to make my hot drink and find my cup sparkling clean.

So really, the cleaning lady has given me TWO gifts, one far deeper and more consequential than the other.

your Danzig is drooping…

Walking the dog is usually a business-like affair for me. I want to get it done and over with as quickly as possible so that I can get back to whatever it was I was doing (aka: sitting on the couch). Preparation is minimal: I put Junior’s harness on him, I step into whatever shoes require the least amount of effort to wear, and if it’s especially cold I’ll put a coat on. We probably average about 90 seconds between “come on, it’s walkies time” to stepping out the door, and a good 45 of that is trying to get Junie to hold still so that I can harness him up.

My husband, on the other hand, has a rather involved process which centers chiefly on picking what music he’s going to listen to. He’ll tell the dog it’s time to go out, then pick up his phone and spend five minutes scrolling through Pandora looking for inspiration. The funny part is that he almost invariably ends up picking one of like five songs. I know this because he always starts singing along as soon as the music starts. He walks around singing while he’s looking for his hat, gloves, coat, boots, harness. He then finds the dog, puts the harness on him and away they go, singing all the while.
Last night’s walkies selection happened to be ‘Mother’ by Danzig. Mark started out humming the opening guitar riff, then broke into the first verse:

     “Mother…Tell your children not to walk my way / Tell your children not to hear my words/ What they mean / What they say / Mother…”

I tend to sing along to whatever he’s singing, except that I sing along in my default silly voice, which is an exaggerated version of Droopy Dog. Junior happened to be on my lap when this whole thing started, so I grabbed his front legs and started waving them around, forcing him to do interpretive dance accompaniment to my Droopy Dog cover of Danzig. Mark was around the corner in the kitchen and couldn’t see or hear any of this, mind you. Junior eventually got fed up of my puppet-master act and broke free. He ran out to the kitchen to be harnessed and walked while I was reduced to a helpless giggle fit over the Droopy Dog version of “…and if you wanna find hell with me / I can show you what it’s like / til you’re bleeding”.
I’m pretty sure Glenn Danzig would NOT approve.
Also, side-note: I totally thought Glenn Danzig was dead until this morning when I Googled him. That is in fact WHY I Googled him. I was like “how long has he been dead, anyway?” TRICK QUESTION, apparently. Sorry, Glenn Danzig! For…well, everything really.
droopyflag