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.

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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?

level four event

Over the weekend we had a Level Four Steve Event and it was spectacular. I was standing there at the kitchen sink watching two Steves root around for snacks under the bird feeder when there was a rustle off to the left and a third Steve descended the trunk of the big maple tree and started his own snuffle quest. As I announced to the household that we were in the midst of a Level Three Event, also known as a Triple Blessing, a fourth Steve poked its precious snoot out from the underbrush on the extreme right perimeter of the bird feeder area. It proceeded with caution up the pole to the bird feeder and began stuffing its pouches.

All chipmunks are named Steve, by the way – I should remind newcomers of this.

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This was the actual best day of my life. This was OG Steve, who would happily bounce up to me and take peanuts and even let me pet him. RIP, OG Steve.

For context, it’s worth pointing out that Level Two Events, also known as Double Stevenings, are pretty common at our place. Triple Blessings are more rare but they do happen with some regularity. Level Four Events happen maybe twice or three times a summer, tops. We’ve had one Level Five Event in the three summers we’ve lived at this place and I nearly passed out from excitement at the time. Mark still doesn’t entirely believe that it actually happened but I saw it with my own eyes and no one can take that away from me.

The Level Four Event on Sunday was actually the second one we’ve seen this summer. The first one was a few weeks ago, just before what we’re sadly calling The Culling. Our next door neighbors have three cats, you see – two giant ginger tanks and a little smoke-grey ghost. The grey cat is an actual hunter – I’ve seen it launch out of the bushes to pluck song birds out of air in mid-flight. It also regularly catches field mice, voles, and even the occasional mole. The ginger cats are far less industrious but, perhaps out of some small inkling of shame about becoming the sedentary gits that they are, they will sometimes attempt to “hunt”. Since they’re lazy and don’t want to go very far, “hunting” means parking their fluffy arses in the middle of my lilies or daffodils and half napping while they wait for a Steve to pop up from a burrow and scurry past them. I kid you not, I have watched one of the ginger cats doze off while humped up next to a Steve-hole, “hunting”. And eight times out of ten, even when they’re wide awake, they miss the Steves. A couple weeks ago someone had a hot streak though, because we found two Steve corpses over the span of about seven days. Since all Steves look pretty much the same (it has taken me three years to be able to differentiate the adults from the juveniles, and I’m not even super sure that I’m right about that – it’s just that some of them are bigger and have more grey on their  hind ends and so I assume those are adults. Being an adult certainly makes my hind end feel grey, anyway), and since we had only seen four Steves prior to The Culling, we were certain that the population had been halved. To suddenly see four all at once again was pretty fantastic.

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A Steve stuffing his face in the feeder a week or so ago. The audio got lost when I converted the video to a GIF so you can’t hear my patented, based-on-science, soothing sing-songy murmur of “SteeeEEEEeeeeve” in the background. Also, this one won’t take snacks from me. YET.

 

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.

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

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.