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 his 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.

what’s the password

My job is very password-intensive. There are a bunch of different websites and databases I need to access. At last count, my list of work-related passwords had 39 entries.

Of that 39 passwords, there are about a dozen that I use on an almost daily basis. Most of the sites I use have extra ridiculous security rules when it comes to setting up login info (for instance, at least two of them require a 15 character password minimum, plus a number, plus a capital letter, plus a special character, but your password also cannot contain more than four consecutive alpha or numeric characters, no repeating numeric characters, you need to provide exactly 6 mL of tear drops that fall within the personal salinity tolerance levels of your specific body every 90 days in order to keep the system from suspending your account, etc). Most of these websites and databases also require changing your log-in information every few months. Just when you get used to one, you can kiss it goodbye and spend the next 15 minutes trying to come up with a new one.

It’s a gigantic pain in the ass…especially when, like me, you have the short-term memory of a recently clubbed seal.

I was going to insert a picture of a cute baby seal here but frankly, I already feel bad about making the joke to begin with, and adding a picture would just make things worse. I’m a monster, undeserving of love or happiness.

ANYWAY.

Because of security concerns and the nature of the work I do, I’m not allowed to let my browser just remember all my passwords for me, so I have to keep a list stashed away in the bowels of my computer (which isn’t exactly a secure way of doing it either, but it’s at least a little better than just loading everything into Firefox and hoping for the best). This method has worked pretty effectively for going on 11 years now.

Except…there are times when, for whatever reason, my brain goes rogue and decides FUCK THAT LIST, I CAN REMEMBER THINGS GOD DAMN IT. I’ll sit there typing in password after password until the site eventually locks me out due to too many failed log-in attempts. For some sites, that’s like three attempts…but for others it’s like…15. And I still get locked out. Because I’m too fucking stubborn to look at THE LIST that has ALL THE APPLICABLE INFORMATION right on it.

Most sites I get locked out of then require that I call them, give them all my personal info, tell them half my life story, answer a series of archaic riddles, and promise them my first-born child (haha, joke’s on you, motherfuckers, I’m not procreating), before they will reset my login info. Many of them also require that I use a temporary password to log in and reset a new password, blah blah blah. The whole process ends up taking tens of minutes. It’s objectively far more of a pain in the ass than just pulling up the list and finding the correct information to begin with.

And yet, I continue to do this to myself on a regular basis. Something in my clubbed-seal brain keeps telling me that I’m above using the list, that at 38 years old I should still have the mental dexterity to remember a handful of god damned passwords.

In case you hadn’t guessed yet, I’ve written this post while waiting for a database manager to call me back about resetting my access because I just got myself locked out. Again.

password

Is that the red, or the white?

the persistent pecker

It started about an hour after I got to work this morning.

Above my head and off to the left, at the junction where the outside wall meets the slant of the roof.

tap

tap

taptap

taptaptaptaptaptaptap…

It wasn’t constant – just an occasional machine-gun like burst of taps. If anything, it was serving to break up the monotony of endless data entry. Plus, I like birds doing bird things, so I was happy for the woodpecker to have found something fun to hammer away at.

The first few times it happened, my boss, who sits in an adjacent office with the door between our spaces open, didn’t say anything. Eventually it got to him though, and he bellowed in to me:

“What the hell is THAT?”

“Pretty sure it’s a woodpecker working on the back corner of the building,” I responded.

He muttered something about stupid birds under his breath and went about his business.

Fast forward to ten minutes ago. The bird let loose with another tapping tirade above my head. I chuckled to myself because he sounded like he was having a good time. Boss came into my office, fixing the ceiling with a glare like he could perhaps intimidate the bird through many layers of wood, sheetrock, roofing, shingles, etc.

“Where IS IT?”

“It’s right out here on the corner somewhere,” I replied, gesturing toward the ceiling.

“Well, we can’t have this,” boss said, and stomped off downstairs. Boss owns the building, hence his vested interested in not having holes randomly drilled into it. Apparently the holes caused from water damage and rot are ok to keep around for years, but ones that birds peck are a no-no. BUT I DIGRESS.

From my desk I could hear Boss scuff out along the side of the building and pass under my window. With impeccable timing, the woodpecker started in again. Boss yelled at it:

“Hey. HEY! Cut it out, you little bastard! Go somewhere else!”

I didn’t actually look down at where he was standing, but having known Boss for nearly 11 years now, I feel relatively safe in suggesting there was arm-waving involved.

The tapping stopped.

“Yeah, YOU”, boss said triumphantly.

And then a magnificent thing happened:

The woodpecker shrieked an angry retort and immediately started hammering away at the side of the building again, with seemingly redoubled effort. There have been no less than four subsequent bursts of tapping since Boss sat back down at his desk.

Every time it starts in again, Boss grumbles and I giggle to myself, silently congratulating the sassy little woodpecker for standing its ground and sticking it to the man.

Or the man’s building, at least.

woodpecker

I peck where I want.

cookies god damn it

We had this lunch conference at work today.

Well, I say “we”, but nobody mentioned it to me until I was already warming up my leftovers from home, so I’m filing that under my not being invited and I therefore did not partake.

ANYWAY.

So, the place where the food came from always includes a load of cookies…REALLY GOOD cookies…when they cater a lunch for us. Usually when we have one of these things, it’ll be like an hour of people yakking in the conference room, then they’ll all eat, then they’ll fuck off back to their desks and leave the leftovers for us admin peons. So even though I didn’t partake of the lunch proper, I had a pretty reasonable expectation of being able to scam some of those fantastic cookies after everyone cleared out and went back downstairs.

Except, today, the people putting on the conference hung around.

And hung around.

And hung. The fuck. Around.

Every time they moved around in there I’d perk up and think “ooh, this is it! Cookie time soon!” BUT NO. They would settle back down and talk more. I’ve been waiting for my cookie opportunity for MULTIPLE HOURS while these dicks sit around jawing about who even knows what. Nothing important, that’s for damn sure.

It’s now 3:40pm EST and they are FINALLY starting to pack stuff up in the conference room and move toward getting the hell out. Hooray! COOKIE TIME, YES?

Uhh, no. Because you know what happened? My boss gave the leftovers to the lady who put on the conference.

INCLUDING THE MOTHER FUCKING COOKIES.

ADLKH OIJLKJFS SLKJSF DLKJSLD (insert image of me foaming at the mouth)

Literally all I wanted out of today was some of those cookies. Granted, I didn’t know the cookies were even going to be a thing until 12:30, but still. I looked forward to those damn cookies all afternoon.

You know what he said to the lady?

“Here, why don’t you take these cookies home, no one here will eat them.”

No one! No one will eat them! COOKIES! Are you MAD, sir? Have you taken a turn? DID YOUR MOMMA DROP YOU ON YOUR HEAD AS A BABY?!

Needless to say, I’m very disappointed.

And I’m probably going to buy cookies on the way home from work.

holding pattern

Keppo just wants to be held.

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Zzzzzz…

Sometimes he tries to eat his feet:

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ANG NYANG NYANG

Sometimes he likes to perch up high and creep on the neighbors:

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“12:30pm. Nothing to report.”

Sometimes he likes a good belly rub:

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“Never stop doing this, ever.”

But mostly, he just wants to be held:

The thing about Keppo is, if he wants to be held and for whatever reason you CAN’T hold him right that second (like, say, if you’re trying to work on the laptop, or you’re eating a sandwich), he doesn’t give a fuck. Your needs are irrelevant to Keppo. If he can’t force you to hold him, he will proceed to find a way to wedge himself up against your body, likely in the most awkward and uncomfortable way, and will have himself the nap he was planning to have before you tried to ruin it by doing human stuff.

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“Oh, you’re busy right now? It’s fine, I’ll just curl up here and look sad.”

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“Why work when we could be making out?”

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It took him a full five minutes of huffing, grunting and repositioning himself dramatically behind my head and shoulder before he finally settled here.

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I had to lean forward. He slid, and instead of going to sit somewhere else, he doubled down. It’s been 20 minutes and he’s still wedged in there.

 

Keppo’s name comes from a character in Legend of the Five Rings, a card game my husband and a lot of our friends play. In the game, Keppo was a resourceful little goblin who liked to steal things. He had a hoard of treasures in a cave, and always seemed to have a special something hidden away that could save his ass when he was in a jam. The Keppo character became a mascot for our playgroup – we’ve even had art pieces commissioned for T-shirts that include the goblin Keppo’s likeness. When Mark and I were trying to come up with names for the puppy, we wanted something suitably nerdy, but also something easy. The shelter had named him Cupid because he was surrendered on Valentine’s Day. The name Keppo had the distinct advantage of sounding kind of like the name the shelter had been using for the pup for the last six weeks. Plus, most puppies are at least a little bit thieving goblin, aren’t they? So far, our Keppo mostly just likes to steal personal space.

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 crimbo miracle

I was eating a cheese stick as I rolled up to the stop sign. I saw the NH State Police cruiser sitting there across from the little general store. It was pointed in my direction.

Setting the remains of the cheese stick aside so as not to look like I was driving distracted, I made extra sure to come to a complete stop at the sign. I even announced it out loud to the cruiser as I did so…because, honestly, it’s kind of an occasion. I’m queen of the rolling stop.

Smug with satisfaction regarding my (admittedly somewhat selective and opportunistic) ability to follow rules, I then looked both ways and proceeded through the intersection. I picked my cheese stick back up and took another bite.

Onward, to glory!

Force of habit made me flick my eyes up to the rear view mirror just in time to see the cruiser slowly pull out from its parking spot, headed in the opposite direction as me. I was mentally wishing the officer happy holidays when I saw the cruiser’s blinker turn on. The car executed a wide turn around in the parking lot of the store it had been parked across from and started traveling south, the same as me.

A second later, the blue lights started. The cheese stick was set aside once more.

I put my blinker on, pulled over…

…and immediately remembered that my car registration is like four months out of date.

“FUCK.”

Visions of large traffic tickets danced in my head. A slurry of coffee and cheap convenience store cheese bubbled threateningly in my tensing stomach. My pre-holiday festive mood was ebbing fast as the officer made his way to my window.

“Good morning ma’am. I’m Officer Whosiface from the New Hampshire State Police. Do you know why I stopped you this morning?”

“I’m sorry, Officer, I don’t.”  It wasn’t a lie. I knew damn well I had come to a complete stop at the sign because I made such a big deal out of it. What the hell else could I have done that would merit being pulled over? Surely it couldn’t have been the cheese stick.

“I stopped you because you failed to use your turn signal at the stop sign back there. Even when there are no other cars around, we need to use our turn signals for safety. Can I have your license and registration, please?”

Fucking turn signals! He saw that I’m from Vermont. Didn’t he know that the unofficial state motto of Vermont is “we don’t need no stinkin’ blinkers”? I decided not to bring it up, especially considering I was about to get spanked for having an out of date registration.

I handed over my license, went to grab the registration card from the center console…and came up empty. Shuffling through the CD’s and detritus in the little tray area underneath my stereo, I came up empty again. Well, super. No registration is even worse than an out of date registration! I was probably going to spend Christmas in jail. The cheese slurry menaced in my guts again.

“Sir, I’m so sorry, but I can’t seem to locate my registration at the moment.”

I braced for impact.

“That’s alright, I should be able to pull it up in my computer. It’s in your name, and registered to this address on your license?”

“It is.”

“And what year is the car, ma’am?”

“It’s a 2012.”

“Ok, I’ll be right back.”

He headed back toward the cruiser. I slumped dejectedly in my seat, picked up my phone and took a picture of the blue lights in my mirror, and looked at Facebook for a minute. Realizing it might not look great for me to be brandishing my cell phone when the officer came back, I set it down on the passenger seat next to the half-eaten cheese stick.

A few minutes later the officer returned and handed me back my license. There was no paperwork in his hand. I dared to dream the impossible dream: that I might in fact NOT be getting a ticket.

“Alright, I’m just issuing you a verbal warning today for failure to use your turn signal and for failure to produce your registration, ma’am. Again, please make sure you’re signalling any time you make a turn, even if there are no other cars around. And it would be a good idea to find your registration card as well.”

“Of course, sir. Thank you, sir. I will, sir. Blinkers, all the blinkers, sir.”

He handed my license back to me. I thanked him six more times than was necessary and wished him a Merry Christmas as he headed back to his car. I made extra sure to use my turn signal when easing back out into traffic, and looked up into the rear view again just in time to see him pull another wide turn in someone’s driveway and head back north.

I never did finish the cheese stick.

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If filthy dashboards were a crime, I’d be public enemy number one.