easier listening

My office-mate listens to music over a set of small speakers on his desk. Normally he listens to a Jimmy Buffett channel, which I qualify under the heading of ‘easy listening. Today, however, he has switched to something I can only describe as…easier listening? But not in a good way.  Like, the grocery store I shop at has better, more up-beat tunes than what is playing in my office right now. My dentist’s reception area plays harder shit than this.

I’m actually a real classic rock nerd and most of the bands this station is playing are recognizable to me: Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, Clapton, Van Morrison…all groups / performers that have vast catalogs of perfectly listenable music to their names. But this station has for some sick reason taken all the softest, sleepiest, most boring, most utterly mind-numbing tracks they could find from all these bands (plus a bunch of genuinely shitty other ones), and coalesced them into one extraordinary, unholy stream of sonic tranquilizer.

brain

It feels like an actual waste of the energy my brain is burning to convert the waves of sound vibrating my ear drums into something recognizable to me as music. I want those three calories back. I can find a better use for them, I’m sure of it.

Could I put my headset on and listen to something more tolerable? Certainly. But every once in a while I have to take my headset off and be assaulted by the tide of blandness that threatens to pull me under. Twenty minutes ago I had to take my ears out of their safe space in order to answer someone’s face-to-face question (savages, this is what email is for. LIVE IN THE NOW, JANET), and I noticed there was a particularly odious song playing across the room. It ended just as I was about to retreat back to playlist land, but then another, even WORSE track came on…and I’ll admit it, curiosity got the better of me. As it often does.

“This isn’t his normal station”, I thought. “This is something far, far worse. I wonder how many shitty songs in a row they’ll play”.

They’re all shitty songs, Brent. ALL OF THEM. I lost count when my brain actually browned out momentarily during Clapton’s ‘Let It Grow’. I came back as Elton John’s ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ was starting and I knew I had to tell the world about it.

Sweet pole-dancing Christ, they just brought out the big guns: ‘Dog and Butterfly’ by Heart.

I can’t. I’m not strong enough.

The madness is descending.

Only the spirit of Chris Cornell can save me now…

lust for pie

On Sunday, my lust for pie landed me at Urgent Care.

If you follow me on any other social media platforms, you may already be familiar with this saga. For the benefit of those wise subscribers who don’t follow me elsewhere, and for the sake of posterity, I’m about to re-tell the tale here in long form.  Probably too long.

Anyway. Here goes.

We used to have this neighbor – he moved out a couple years ago. We called him Crazy Gary. I feel pretty OK with labeling him as crazy since I’m sort of crazy too and also he was definitely, obviously a little bit not right in the head. Which is fine, nothing wrong with being crazy if it works for you and you’re not hurting anybody…which I’m relatively sure he wasn’t.

Crazy Gary lived in this little house on a bit of property that’s bordered on two sides by our quiet, dead-end road. The other two sides are bordered by our landlord’s property, which is mostly a woodchuck wonderland of lawn and vegetable patches. Crazy Gary was a hoarder and a tinkerer. He had every kind of engine you could imagine sitting around in his tiny back yard, and could often be found fabricating strange hybridized lawnmower-garden tiller-tree trimmer things out of like, spare bike parts and twine. The guy was clearly some sort of mechanical genius. What he was NOT, however, was a responsible custodian of the house he lived in. The house actually belonged to Crazy Gary’s absentee mother and I guess she eventually got sick of the place being trashed and full of boxes of greasy sprockets whenever anyone went to check on it, so she had him evicted. Technically the house is now for sale as a ‘fixer upper’, but it’s really more of a ‘faller inner’. They cleaned out a lot of Crazy Gary’s hoard (like four huge rolling dumpsters worth, plus I don’t even know how many truck loads. It took them a couple weeks), but there are still piles of junk hanging around. The house has some broken windows. One of the exterior doors came unlatched at some point in the winter and now the woodchucks are using it as a clubhouse. Most mornings when I drive by on my way to work, there’s at least one woodchuck out on the front step sunning itself, giving me side-eye like “yeah, you keep moving, bi-ped. This place is four legger territory now.”

Point being…the property is abandoned.

Which conveniently relieves me of any qualms I might have had about appropriating the odd armful of stalks from Crazy Gary’s huge, beautiful rhubarb patch. It’s not stealing if it doesn’t belong to anybody in the first place, right? And it’s just going to go to seed and spread further across the lawn if someone DOESN’T harvest it, so really, I’m doing them a favor, right?

Right.

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This patch is easily 6’X8′. Trust me, there’s enough. Also? Someone else had been in it before me, so I feel almost entirely absolved of guilt.

Sunday afternoon was actually the first time I made a rhubarb run this season. It had been ready to make delicious things with for a few weeks but I kept either forgetting or running out of time in the day (you don’t go into woodchuck country at night. They’re like bats but worse. 10 gold Internet doubloons if you get that awkward and unskillful reference), or just plain lacked the ambition to walk the 50 yards out around the corner and pull some. But this past Sunday the weather was glorious, I was in a mood to cook, and the siren song of pie was just too much to ignore…so off I went.

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On the way back home with my only-marginally-ill-gotten gains. You see that knife glinting out from the rose-tinged stalks in my hand there? I sharpened it up real good before this whole endeavor kicked off. Foreshadowing? POSSIBLY.

My bounty and I made a quick stop at the compost pile to get rid of its leaves and stem ends, and then it was back to the kitchen to transmute this bunch of inedible hell-stalks into a toothsome pie.

Rhubarb pie is dead simple to make, especially if you’re a pastry slacker like me and use store bought pie crust (life is too short to fuck with pie crust from scratch. Don’t come at me with your tips and tricks because I’ve tried them all and they work fine, I just completely detest rolling out pie crust and I’m not going to do it. Save the wear on your finger joints. I love you). The majority of the work is in slicing the stalks and mixing them with sugar. Super easy.

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There’s that very sharp knife again. It’s a Henckels, and I’ve had it for nigh on 15 years. I cook A LOT and this knife is essentially an extension of my right hand.

One of the things about my ADHD is that it often takes me on tangents. The beat up jalopy of my mind is always taking turns down sketchy, winding side roads, often on two wheels at a high rate of speed, when it is least convenient. It can get very frustrating because I feel like I’m not the driver but rather, just one of those little smiley-face balls people sometimes stick on the end of their radio antennas. Sometimes I’m just along for the ride and I have very little say in direction or velocity, and that gets exhausting. I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I find helpful in terms of regaining a feeling of control over my brain is to make things. The creative process burns a lot of gas for me (big on the automotive metaphors today, I guess. Crazy Gary would approve), which helps slow things down a little. Making also often involves repetitive motions: the under-and-through under-and-through of knitting, the stab and draw of the needle and thread when embroidering…and of course, the methodical motions of chopping up ingredients for a dish.

Some people are afraid of very sharp knives, but anyone who has spent any time in a professional kitchen will tell you that the sharper the knife the better. Sharp knives are safer to work with, and they’re far more satisfying. There’s a specific swish that a good sharp knife makes when it cuts through veg, a specific feeling when I’m motoring through a stalk of whatever and making nice even cuts. It’s like everything else falls away, including the static in my head, and I’m in a state of flow. It’s just the knife and the veg dancing across the board, with my hands guiding via pure muscle memory. I don’t have to think about anything when I chop. I just have to show up and make the motions. It’s like a tiny glimpse of nirvana.

Another thing about ADHD is that it there are no guarantees. Something that helped you relax and focus one day might not work the next. And that hyper-focus, that Zen-like state of flow where everything seems like it’s happening almost without you, like some beautiful out-of-body experience where you get to just sit back and watch? That can vanish in an instant, in mid-motion, leaving you feeling lost and bemused until you realize, oh yes, I’ve fallen out of The Flow and I’m back on planet Earth.

And the thing about sharp knives is, they’re made of metal and thus very unforgiving. They have ZERO fucks to give about your mental state. They demand constant respect and utmost focus. A sharp knife can do a lot of damage if you’re distracted for even a split second.

Which, as you may have guessed, is how I ended up crumpled in a kitchen chair with my head between my knees, trying desperately to not pass out while I squeezed a wad of paper towel against the side of my left index finger in an attempt to staunch a rather alarming flow of blood.

The knife was in my finger, completely through my flesh and out the other side before I even registered anything. I tried to give it a quick rinse under cold water but I could immediately tell that it was deep and bad, so I went for paper towel and pressure instead. I’ve cut myself plenty of times in the past and I knew all the things to do – hold firm pressure on the wound, keep my hand above the level of my heart, sit down and stop pacing. I breathed my way through the massive urge to throw up and the torrent  of cold sweat that an adrenaline come-down always leaves me with, then I made my way to the couch so I could put my feet up. Mark wasn’t home and Keppo was pretty sure that he could fix everything by adamantly licking my face, which was as endearing as it was ineffective.

The blood wasn’t seeping through the paper towel, but the wound was getting re-opened every time I moved the paper towel to try and see if the bleeding was stopped. After about 40 minutes or so of repeating that cycle, I finally admitted that I may need stitches. I probably COULD have driven myself one-handed to Urgent Care, which is about 30 min away almost entirely by interstate, but I was still feeling a little wobbly from shock so I called my dad for a ride instead.

About twenty minutes after I went in, I emerged from the Urgent Care facility with a finger held together by superglue and steri-strips, and wrapped with elasticated gauze to roughly the size of the average corn dog.

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The doctor pointed out that it kind of looked like a dick and I couldn’t not see it after that. He used the term ‘winky’ though, which was more charming.

I’m grateful that I didn’t need stitches. I’m even MORE grateful that I didn’t sever an artery or a tendon. I’m still going to keep my knives sharp, but I might not do any serious slicing or chopping while I’m home alone for a while.
And I’m definitely going to steal more of Crazy Gary’s rhubarb.

not today, Satan

This morning when I logged on to WordPress to catch up on reading some blogs, I noticed something odd. The display name next to my avatar was no longer showing as “Rhubarb Swank”, but rather “sexy.jvhrt.ru”.

Cue mild panic.

Not that I have years of irreplaceable material here, and not that the whole thing probably doesn’t deserve to be put to rest in a giant dumpster fire, of course…but I do pay for this domain, so my credit card info is squirreled away in the depths of my account somewhere. I don’t need some hacker slurping that up and selling it on, thank you very much!

After a few minutes of clicking around I managed to restore my display name, update my password and tweak a few other settings that will hopefully keep things more secure going forward.

Hopefully no one is gleefully dildo shopping with my credit card. Actually, scratch that. If they DID end up stealing it, I hope they DO use it for dildo shopping. Just so long as the bank doesn’t make me pay for it.

Anyway, that’s what I get for using crap-ass passwords and not updating them regularly.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. Unless you like buying other people dildos. In which case, you’re probably doing the world a service, really.

Now please enjoy this picture of our new dog Keppo:

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He’s the one with the whiskers. Apparently I had remembered to shave mine that day.

He came home with us from the shelter almost two weeks ago and we are, frankly, fucking exhausted. We were 8 years younger the last time we had a puppy and I think we both forgot just how much work it is. Worth it, certainly…but holy hell.

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.