free fallin’

When I was a teenager, I had a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers greatest hits CD. I think I may actually still have it, in fact. Anyway – the CD had a defect that caused a tiny skip in the first track, ‘Free Fallin’ ‘:

All the vampires, walkin’ through the valley

move West down Ventura Boulevard

On my CD, the skip was in the word “boulevard”, making it sound like some kind of syncopated contraction….like Tom had taken all the vowels out and was literally singing the abbreviation, “blvd”.

I had heard the song on the radio plenty of times and I knew it didn’t actually go like that, that it was either a microscopic scratch or a manufacturing glitch causing it, but I listened to that CD and that song in particular so many times over the years that it got stuck in my head. To this day, when I hear ‘Free Fallin’ ‘ and the skip DOESN’T happen my brain notes it and judges that version of the song, that particular split-second sonic experience, as ever so slightly sub-standard.

I’m not a music critic or a biographer and I certainly didn’t know Tom Petty personally, so it feels silly to try and eulogize him. What I can say is that I loved Tom Petty for his plain-spoken lyrical style. I loved that he was smart and sly and also a stoner, and didn’t give a shit who knew it. I loved that he was so versatile, writing everything from hard-charging rock like ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’ to sensitive, almost bluegrassy-sounding diddies like ‘Wildflowers’. I loved his ridiculously nasal voice and his Scarecrow-goes-to-Hollywood looks, and I’ll miss him very, very much.

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

‘Wildflowers’ by Tom Petty

wildflowers

re: peanut butter

Peanut butter is basically the perfect food.

Unless you’re allergic to peanuts, in which case, we probably shouldn’t ever share close physical contact because I’m basically 68% peanut butter. Plus I don’t like strangers touching me, and respecting boundaries is important. But mostly because of the peanut butter thing.

Peanut butter is one of those foodstuffs that I don’t buy very often because, if it’s in the house, it calls my name until I have consumed it. All of it. In as short a time as possible. I’m like a peanut butter Hoover. All I need is a spoon and some privacy, and I can actually do without the privacy if necessary.

This sudden and frankly uncalled-for exposition about my peanut butter habits, by the way, is being brought to you by my having an apple left over from something I was baking earlier in the week. Because you see, if an apple isn’t being cut up and incorporated into a dish or baked good somehow, then its only other purpose is as a vehicle for peanut butter. I mean…I know there are people who eat apples out of hand without slathering them in peanut butter first, and that’s fine. It’s WRONG…but it’s fine. More peanut butter for me.

Apples aren’t the only foodstuffs I’ll use as peanut butter delivery devices, oh no! Bananas, banana bread, biscuits, brownies, carrots, celery, crackers, cookies, dates, ice cream…I’ve gleefully smeared peanut butter on, or stuffed peanut butter in, all of them. I’ve put peanut butter on pancakes, muffins, even tortillas (both flour ones and corn ones. The corn ones were a mistake, but hey, mistakes are how we learn).

The most holy form of peanut butter consumption is on toasted bread, of course. I have a deep and abiding love for English muffins and I feel their highest calling is to be toasted and smeared with peanut butter. Second to English muffins would be a good whole wheat or sourdough. I’m not afraid to put peanut butter on rye toast if my hand is forced, though. You think I won’t do it? Oh trust me, I will, and it will be DELICIOUS.

The only person I know who likes peanut butter almost as much as I do is my dad. Maybe it’s a genetic thing? Maybe our DNA has made it so that our brains register the taste of peanut butter as a magical explosion of delicious joy? Maybe we’ve got some kind of peanut butter werewolf curse, where instead of turning into werewolves on the full moon, we…just really like peanut butter a lot. That one might need some work. BUT STILL. You get my drift.

My preferred brand of peanut-based crack is Teddie, preferably the super chunky variety. Teddie is just roasted peanuts and salt. No added sugar, no hydrogenated oils, 100% amazing. This post isn’t sponsored by Teddie, but I’ve never in my blogging life wished more that a company would see me promoting their product and decide to send me some.

Teddie, if you’re reading this, drop me a line. I’m sure we could work something out.

 

teddie

*heavy breathing*

 

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*

 

creature of habit

The bathroom door isn’t allowed to be closed in our home. Not because there’s anything wrong with the door that prevents it from closing. Not because either of us harbor some kind of potty fetish. No, the bathroom door actually gets shut every time one of us goes in there…but then Junior comes along and kicks it open.

Why? Because he doesn’t want it closed. Plain and simple.

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“Mahm, do you ever feel, you know, not-so-fresh?”

At first we thought it was a separation thing. Like, “aww, Junie missed me so he came running into the bathroom to see me”. Except, he usually doesn’t. He’ll just come up the stairs, cuff the bathroom door until it swings open, and then walk away. He’ll do it to guests with an equal measure of nonchalance. He gives no fucks who’s IN there. He just doesn’t want that door closed.

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“HEY. HEY DO MY PARENTS KNOW YOU’RE IN HERE? DO YOU HAVE A PERMIT TO USE OUR TERLIT? I NEED TO SEE YOUR PAPERS RIGHT NOW MISTER.”

The bedroom door gets much the same treatment. If I go to bed earlier than Mark does, I’ll often shut the bedroom door like 90% so that I can’t see the light from the TV reflecting out in the hallway (it’s a small apartment and I’m a special snowflake when it comes to sleeping conditions). I always try to get Junior to come in and get on the bed while I’m changing into my pajamas or whatever, but he’ll often just mill around in the hallway or the spare bedroom looking offended. After a few minutes I give up, shutting the curtain and turning on the white noise machine, then crawling into bed. Just about the time my head hits the pillow, BAM. Junior cuffs the door and it swings open wide. He stands there in the doorway, a tiny white tyrant bathed in the somewhat eerie glow of the orange bulb in our bedside lamp, triumphant and unyielding. I can almost hear him declaring, Gandalf-like, “YOU. SHALL. NOT. CLOSE”.  Then I have to get back out of bed, go over to the door and try to find a balance between closing it enough that the light doesn’t bother me, but having it open enough to avoid further insult to His Royal Highness. While I’m doing this, by the way, that little fucker will sashay in, jump up on the bed and nest down in the covers I’ve thrown off while getting up. This in turn causes at least one round of tense blanket negotiations, several canine sighs that drip with disappointment, and the eventual Great Resettling, before I can shut the light off.

Closing the doors all the way (as in, until they latch) doesn’t do any good either, because when Junior can’t cuff a door open, he gets upset. “Let him fuss, he’ll eventually self-soothe and calm down”, you say, rolling your eyes. Oh no, dear reader. This dog does not self-soothe and calm down. THIS dog will whine, and when whining doesn’t work, he’ll bark. When barking at the problem door doesn’t work, he’ll go downstairs and start barking by the living room windows or the kitchen door, both of which are adjacent to close neighbors. He knows we’ll do just about anything to shut him up from barking where it’s going to bother the neighbors, so that’s his trump card, and he’s not afraid to play it.

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“She’s made of lies, everyone. I am a sweet tiny unicorn angel who does no wrong. Leave me now and let me rest. I must prepare for a long night of guarding my beloved parents from the terrors of the dark.”

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.

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.

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:

 

Capture

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.

how to life

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

How does she do all this and still stay sane?

Fucked if I know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

escape from FUCK NO Island

One of my coworkers is always coming up with ideas for company outings. Most of them don’t come to fruition because our boss has weird ideas about how we should be ‘in the office’ and ‘being productive’, but that doesn’t stop said coworker from dreaming.

Most of the suggestions are pretty innocuous and well-received. They usually involve going somewhere other than the office and eating / drinking, sometimes with the addition of low-key outdoor activities (like, kick-ball or Frisbee golf. We’re totes not a rock wall climbing crowd). And to be fair, I feel the commitment to the cause of getting paid to do fun stuff on company time is admirable.

Their latest suggestion, however, is enough to make me want to run screaming. They have suggested that we do an escape room.

Escape rooms are pretty much what they sound like: a group of people gets locked in a room and has to try to figure out how to escape via solving puzzles and/or riddles within the room, within a certain time limit. If time runs out, you fail.

You may recall that I did True Dungeon, which is a somewhat similar thing, with my friends back in the summer and a good time was had by all. The key word there is ‘friends’. Friends are people I choose to spend time with because I LIKE being around them. Coworkers…not so much. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are fine in small doses, but the idea of being  TRAPPED IN A ROOM with a bunch of them makes my throat feel like it’s starting to close up. Call it anxiety, call it anaphylaxis…either way, it gets filed under D for ‘Do Not Want’.

Also? The idea of this particular group of people trying to problem-solve their way out of anything is borderline absurd. Most of the people I work with are sales reps who work on a commission-only basis. They have literally no motivation to work as a team – in fact, up until a few years ago, they were actively encouraged to compete against each other. Plus, there are a lot of strong personalities at play. You don’t take a commission-only job in a competitive environment unless you’re pretty confident and most of my coworkers are no exception. So, imagine taking six people who are very used to trying to best each other and sticking them in a room with nothing but some vague clues to part of an even more vague larger puzzle, and leaving them for hours. It would be like a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Office.

No fucking thank you.

impotent rage…and holiday cards!

On Mondays we still have some of the after-glow of the weekend to get us through. Wednesday are the mid-point in the work week and we’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. Thursdays often involve starting to plan for the impending weekend. Fridays practically ARE the weekend – any time after noon on Friday is pretty much gravy.

But Tuesdays…Tuesdays are for impotent rage, I’m convinced of it.

On Tuesdays you can’t just throw your hands up and blame shit on still being hung over from the weekend, and you have way too many days left in the week to just bury your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. If Monday is a dumpster fire, Tuesday is the fully involved three-alarm structure fire that the flash-over from the dumpster has caused. It’s not just a little smoke and the lingering smell of burnt hair…it’s your propane tank blowing up in an eye-searing blaze while you stand at the end of the driveway clutching your shivering dog and wondering what the fuck went wrong.

I don’t like Tuesdays, in case that wasn’t clear. And this particular Tuesday has been especially rife with fuckery of highly non-amusing sorts (although my propane tank didn’t actually blow up or anything, thankfully). It’s mostly work stuff so I can’t really get into it, but just trust me when I tell you that if I could procure a boat right now, I’d name it the S.S. Fuck Right Off, pack it with as many boxes of Pop Tarts and bottles of Rex Goliath merlot as I could afford, and shove off from the nearest dock to start my career as a small-time pirate queen. Imagine an obese female version of Jack Sparrow. That would be me. I’ve already got the eyeliner and the struggling to remember words down pat.

ANYWAY.

I need to do something to counteract the angry. Sending people mail makes me happy, so tonight I’m going to go home and address a bunch of holiday cards.

If you’d like a holiday card from me, you can add your mailing address to my address book here and I’ll happily send you one.

Although, caveat: if you’re international, the card may not get there by Christmas because I’m very bad at judging how long international mail takes to get from point A to point B and also sometimes I have every intention of getting my ass to the post office but then get distracted and end up carrying a bunch of cards around in my bag for an extra week. Just so we’re all on the same page.

Also, you have my solemn oath that I will not sell your address or use it for any other purposes, nefarious or otherwise.

And if you don’t want to give me your address, that’s totally cool. I still love you, and I’ll just beam you holiday cheer with my mind instead.

I should probably pick a specific day and time to do it though, otherwise you’ll spend the next few weeks wondering if every random warm tingle and whiff of gingerbread you notice is me beaming you that cheer I promised you.

Or you might maybe start to worry that you’re having a seizure or a stroke, and I don’t want to do that to you, because after all, I might be a small-time pirate queen, but I’m not a dick.

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Mmm, cheer.