Have you ever been cleaning out your closet (or, let’s say, putting away giant piles of laundry that may have accumulated on the guest room bed ) and found a zip up hoodie that you hadn’t seen in maybe years and you can’t imagine why the hoodie got taken out of regular rotation because it’s not stained up or damaged in any way and is a totally acceptable color and seems really comfy so you run it through the wash and start wearing it again only to discover halfway through the second wearing that this is actually the zip up hoodie that refuses to stay zipped because the zipper is weirdly heavy in relation to the fabric of the hoodie and so the zipper keeps just working its way down every time you move and it all sort of starts coming back to you why you banished the zip up hoodie to the back of the closet (or the bottom of the laundry pile) to begin with?
This is not a metaphor. I am currently wearing that hoodie. This is the third time I’ve put it on since I washed it and I now know FULL WELL what it is capable of, but it has weaseled its way back into the rotation and now it will take an act of Congress (or the acquisition of more new clothing, which is similarly expensive and time consuming) for it to be banished back to the dark depths of the closet from whence it came.
That’s basically all that has happened in the two months since I last posted. That and homework for this business law class I’m taking, because what I definitely needed in my life was more reasons to sit in front of a laptop staring at a blank page and hating myself for being unable to just…start. I mean, hating is a harsh term, I guess. It’s more like a loathing. Loathing is a step down from hating, right? The internet says they’re synonyms but I’ve decided that’s fake news.
– They are trying to compete with my dog for the coveted title of Yappiest Yapface of 2019.
– Their apartment is filled with spiders and they react to spiders the same way I do: yelling until someone comes and rescues
me the spider.
– They believe that he who prays loudest gets the most attention from Imaginary Sky Daddy.
– They’re actually a bunch of Siamese cats inhabiting human bodies, and it’s always ten minutes past feeding time.
– They were brought up in a cave behind a giant, roaring waterfall and had to yell everything just to be heard. The habit stuck.
– They have Fatal Ear Freezing Syndrome and have to wear ear protection at all times to keep from dying of the dreaded Freeze-Ear.
– They’re professional yodelers. Really bad ones.
– Their family hobby is acting out that popular meme of the Orange County Choppers guys yelling at each other.
– They all have terrible spatial awareness and keep stubbing their toes on every corner and piece of furniture they come near.
– Their carpet is full of tacks.
– They’re from Massachusetts and they’re also drunk a lot (not that people from Massachusetts are any more predisposed to getting drunk than anyone from anywhere else in New England (there’s not much to do here). But, in my experience, many people from Massachusetts DO seem predisposed to high levels of…personal loudness. NOT ALL, but many).
(Disclaimer: this post is mildly gross. Proceed at your own risk.)
Bodies are disgusting.
I mean, sure, they’re amazing and magical and whatever, but they also do some truly disgusting stuff…usually in the name of keeping us alive.
For instance: did you know that your tonsils can produce stones? Yep! When shit (well, presumably not actual shit, otherwise you’ve probably got bigger issues to contend with), builds up in your throat, bits of it often get stuck to / in your tonsils. The upside is that this keeps the shit (or whatever) from making it down your throat into your lungs! The downside is, your tonsils gotta do something with that stuff. Sometimes you just cough it out. Sometimes you swallow something that dislodges the junk and sends it down into your stomach to be blasted by digestion.
But, sometimes whatever is back there can’t be dislodged and it starts collecting more junk. You know, because being a gross little chunk of crap in someone’s throat is…lonely? Anyway, point being, the crap builds up in one of the little pockets or wrinkles on your tonsil, calcifies, and then you have yourself a tonsil stone. Or a tonsillolith, if you’re fancy.
Tonsilloliths are very common and lots of people have them without ever even knowing because the stones are situated back / down far enough that they’re not visible. So don’t judge. You may well have tonsil rocks you’ve never met.
I’ve always had stupidly big tonsils. Like, the kind of tonsils where every doctor who has ever looked down my throat has said something along the lines of “geez, those are monstrous, how do you even breathe?”. To which I have given up trying to reply snarkily and instead say some version of “I know. What do I have to do to get them taken out?”. The answer is usually that if I want insurance to cover it, I have to wait until it’s ‘medically necessary’ to have them removed. Which of course is doctor-ese for ‘they have to make you super sick’. And to their credit (the tonsils, not the doctors), they really haven’t done so yet….so I guess I’m stuck with them.
Anyway. Back to the stone.
I had a cold last week, which came with all the typical grossness. I also suffer from year-round allergies, so I have kind of a constant background level of cacky junk traveling between my sinuses and throat. There’s been no shortage of mank hanging around my tonsils the last week or so. So the other day when I looked down my throat with the flashlight (normal people do that on a regular basis, right? RIIIIIGHT.), I wasn’t especially shocked to see a little white spot on my left tonsil. I’ve had them before, usually right in that same spot. In the past I’ve been able to dislodge them with a little bit of semi-aggressive salt water gargling. In one VERY memorable case, I actually reached back with my toothbrush and managed to knock a stone loose with the bristles…but then my gag reflex took over and I booted up my breakfast. So nobody REALLY won that round.
I should note here: the stone in question doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, it’s still new enough that it probably hasn’t even calcified into stone form. It’s probably just a little pocket filled with grody smeg back there. A pocket of grody smeg that I happen to be able to see every single time I open my mouth in front of a mirror. It’s not like this is a matter of urgency, to get this junk off of my tonsil. It would be highly improbably that this spot morphed into something that made me ill in any way. It is literally just grossing me out every time I (far too frequently) see it and so I want it gone.
I want it gone so much, in fact, that while I was in the bathroom at work looking at it earlier, I decided to take action.
Did I go warm up some water, dump some salt in it, and have a nice soothing gargle?
Did I give myself a pep-talk about how some bodily functions really are best saved to be dealt with at home?
What I did was grab a handful of paper towels from the dispenser, twist them around my index finger, and reach back to try and manually scrape my tonsil with them.
As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, this move was unwise in several ways.
The first was that I made a total rookie mistake and didn’t wet the paper towel first, so it kind of stuck a bit when it made contact with my tonsil. The second was that, in my fervor, I forgot how strong my gag reflex is (it’s dry-heave-when-I-try-to-brush-my-tongue strong, for the record). The combination of these two very stupid things did NOT result in vomit, thankfully…but what it DID result in was a loud and somewhat confused choking, squawking animal noise issuing forth from my rightfully angry throat as I tried to fight said gag reflex long enough to knock the stone loose.
Several seconds later, when the stars in my vision had finally cleared and my tongue had returned to its normal position rather than trying to forcibly remove itself from my body, I shone my cell phone flashlight into my mouth to survey my work.
The stone hadn’t even budged.
I’ve learned my lesson at this point, I swear. I’m not going to try to mess with it any more until I get home and can have a good long gargle.
But I’ll be perfectly honest with you here, friends. There’s a drawer full of leftover take-out chopsticks in the break room that are going to be calling my name all afternoon.
Saturday while I was grocery shopping, I dropped a squash. And that’s not even a euphemism for anything crude, I promise. I literally dropped a squash. It was a small delicata squash, almost round whereas normally they’re elongated. The little bastard rolled like three feet and ended up under the floral display just at the end of the produce cooler.
Or so I thought.
I definitely SAW it roll under there. Not wanting to be the asshole who just drops / knocks over / fucks up things at the grocery store and then doesn’t at least attempt to right the situation (which, if my local small-town grocery store is any barometer, there are a LOT of those assholes around. Would it kill you to bend over and pick up the box of cereal your obnoxious child just knocked off the shelf in the midst of his tantrum about how he can’t have Rainbow Sucrose Nuggets for breakfast, Janet?), I went over to where the squash had last been spotted and bent down.
I looked back toward my cart and all along the bottom skirting of the produce cooler for three feet in either direction.
I bent way down and peered under the edge of the floral display to see if it had rolled under some flange or something down there.
Inky blackness. No squash.
At that point I started to feel like people were looking at me funny due to my muttering about the squash having disappeared. I told myself I’d done my best to retrieve it and there was nothing more I could do without creating an actual scene, and I moved on.
Over at Potato Onion Island (I call it that because it’s an island in the middle of the produce area where all the potatoes live in peace and harmony with their onion compatriots), I grabbed the two white onions I needed. Into the cart they went with no drama. Onions save all their drama for when you get them home and cut them, after all. I started inspecting the red skinned potatoes because I needed some of those as well. Normally I eschew the plastic bags available in the produce department because the idea of sea turtles inhaling plastic bags in the ocean and turtle-moaning things like ‘was this bag to segregate your three potatoes from the other items in your shopping bag really fucking necessary, two-legger?’ tends to keep me up at night…but for whatever reason, I hadn’t had a suffering sea turtle nightmare lately and ended up grabbing a produce bag for my potatoes. Sorry, sea turtles. I suck.
So, I grabbed a plastic bag and started putting potatoes in it. One potato, two potato, three potato, THUNK. A potato bounced off my sneaker. I looked down at the bag just as the side of it let go completely, spilling the other potatoes down onto my foot as well. Somewhere a sea turtle turtle-moaned in victory at that, I’m sure. Also, I don’t know why sea turtles do nothing but moan in my head. Maybe it’s because they always look vaguely upset. Plus, if you think about it, they’ve got plenty to moan about.
I grabbed a new bag, checked it for holes, then stooped down to pick up the run-away potatoes. One potato, two potato, three potato…
Where was the fourth potato? I definitely had put four in the original bag. I looked around my cart, my feet.
I bent way down and inspected the very roots of Potato Onion Island.
I was starting to worry that perhaps I had actually died and this supermarket was my personal version of hell, an eternity of caving to the weight of society’s opinion of me while I crawled under various shelving units and displays, searching for dropped produce that never showed up. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, then I used my toe to flip up the edge of the rug in front of Potato Onion Island, just in case.
In that moment, I decided two things:
1. If I couldn’t see the dropped produce, nobody else could either, so I probably looked weirder flailing around looking for it than just walking away like nothing had happened, and
2. This couldn’t actually be Grocery Store Hell because there were no screaming babies within earshot, and no old ladies that smelled strongly of lilac (and vaguely of poop) getting in my way every time I tried to move my cart.
And with that, I wheeled off to the deli with nary another backward glance.
I do still feel pretty bad about the sea turtles though.
…and you’re Mary Tyler Moore.
When I was a kid, personal computers weren’t a thing. Well, I guess they were for some people, but not really out in the sticks where I lived. We got three Macs at school when I was in 4th grade (circa 1990). By the time I got to 6th grade, the school had built a little computer lap with half a dozen PCs and we had “computer class” regularly, but almost nobody in my school had their own computers at home. I remember our high school computer teacher, Mr. Waste (that was seriously his name, I’m not making that up), showing us all how to use Netscape Navigator to access something called The Internet, and all of us scoffing about how it was interesting enough but we’d probably never USE it for anything. We then all went back to competing for who could program their computer to play the most annoying sequence of MIDI tones and make Mr. Waste yell at us the fastest. We called that (highly unsanctioned) activity the Waste Race. I’m sure it will shock you to learn that none of us ended up at MIT.
We got a PC at our house around 1996. I’m pretty sure my mom got it from Sears. We didn’t have Internet at first, just the computer. It was meant for school work you see. None of that electronic mail or chat room nonsense. Even back then companies had started putting junk on computers that nobody really needed, though. On my model there was a folder called ‘Fun Stuff’ that had a bunch of sample photos, music clips, and much to my interest, several full-length music videos.
One of the videos that came pre-loaded was Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’.
I swear, I must have watched that video about a thousand times…not necessarily out of any deep love of the song or band, but more just out of desire to somehow be connected to what was going on in the world outside of back-woods Vermont, maybe? Plus, in retrospect, at 16 years old I was really starting to hit my stride when it came to my talent for procrastination. Having a computer, even one without the Internet, offered a whole new universe of opportunities to fuck off and not get my algebra homework done. When I got sick of Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’, I could always drill down level after level of folders and files in the guts of Windows 95, building a mental map of where things went and why. I also got really good at Minesweeper and Solitaire. Best of all was the Encarta encyclopedia CD that came with the computer. I could load that up and read all about…well, everything. And I did. Often. That CD taught me how to say “my name is Michael” in Greek for instance. You wouldn’t think that a teenage girl in rural Vermont with no Greek family would need to know that for any reason, but you’d be WRONG because my dad’s name is Michael and he actually did some work for a guy who was married to a Greek lady back in ’97 and I TOTALLY came through in the clutch when my dad came home one day talking about how he wished he knew something in Greek that he could say to the lady.
(This post brought to you by a) knowing I haven’t written in a while and feeling like I really should but not knowing what to write about and b) Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’ popping up on the playlist I was listening to an hour ago.)
It’s hard to get started lately. Hard to start the day. Hard to start tasks other than ones I know that people would notice if I skipped. Hard to start making changes that would probably be helpful. I don’t know where to point myself or what words to use. The order of things gets scrambled and I wander off into dream-land rather than trying to untangle and clean up the messes I keep making.
I find myself wandering not just mentally but physically as well. Detours on routes I’m meant to be traveling. Wasting time and gas driving around looking for places I don’t need to go. I have no stake in these places. My brain is just always fishing for something to do other than what I really ought to be doing, and I don’t always have the ability to rein it back in, to stick to the path.
Part of this is down to my body adjusting to being (medically approved) off meds. Neither of the two meds I was on were working for me anymore – one was giving me panic attacks and the other one was making me wish I was dead (no planning, just the general ‘everyone would be better off without me’ feeling), in addition to causing some pretty serious gastric issues. So, over the course of the last few months, I’ve been working on getting off both meds. It will take some time for things to chemically settle back down in the brain meats, and I respect that.
Part of it is also big changes in routine. My partner found a job after almost six months of being unemployed. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m very happy about it, but it has also come with some scheduling turmoil for us and the hound. We’re still trying to get used to new time constraints, new traffic patterns, etc. Big changes aren’t easy for anybody, but when you’re someone who needs daily routines as anchors in order to not feel utterly untethered and overwhelmed, it’s particularly hard. There are things I can do to help with this, of course: stuff like giving myself a hard bedtime and wake time, doing meal prep on the weekends so that we have dinner stuff we can quickly throw together on weeknights, and making dog training time mandatory rather than optional (which is good for both him AND me). But, knowing what needs doing and actually doing it are often very different things in my world.
True to form, I don’t know where I was going with this and I don’t really know how to end it. I guess I just wanted to try and get back into the habit of writing even when there’s nothing really obvious to write about, because that’s supposedly how one becomes a better writer. Or something.
- one ballpoint pen: click style, orange, emblazoned with the words ‘Riverbank Church’, which I have never attended and don’t know the actual location of.
- lipstick: three different shades. I had a lip color phase which I have long since passed, but for some reason I still carry these around. Just in case of a pale lip emergency, I guess?
- small bottle of tylenol: because ibuprofen doesn’t work on my headaches, and headaches make me anxious, which makes my headaches worse. Welcome to my world.
- empty plastic bag from local grocery store: I think I might have used this to wrap a potentially leaky lunch container one day, and then felt bad about single-handedly ruining the environment if I threw it away, so back in the bag it went. I didn’t actually un-crumple it and check whether it contained remnants of leaked lunch. I haven’t developed a case of bag-ants, so I think it’s probably ok.
- work keys: ironically, these are all keys to the old office that I haven’t given back yet, but there’s also a security token on the key ring that I need to do some of my daily functions, and is therefore about the only thing in the bag that I ACTUALLY need to have with me on a day to day basis.
- small container of dental floss: having stuff stuck in my teeth makes me twitchy, so I like to have floss just in case.
- three barrettes: pop-style metal ones. These are for keeping my hair out of my face at yoga class. I only use one at a time, but I carry backups because they’re small and very lose-able.
- wallet: where all my plastic money access cards live. This is a hot mess too and could merit its own inventory post, frankly.
- two copies of a bill I need to pay: I brought the first one to work with me to argue with them about the charges, realized I was wrong before I even called them (thankfully), stuffed it in my bag, forgot about it, and didn’t pay it. The next month they kindly sent me a reminder copy. I thought to myself that the best place to put it in order to remember to pay it would be my bag, so in it went two weeks ago. Sidenote: I threw away the older copy while doing this inventory. Remind me to write a check for the newer copy when I’m done with this.
- Microsoft Office suite software box, empty: I have a semi-reasonable excuse for this one. It came from when I bought our laptop a couple years ago. All it has in it is the serial number for the copy of Office that I bought. I set up the new laptop at work so that my IT guy could do his VPN voodoo on it, entered the serial number for Office, then tossed the box in my desk drawer and forgot about it until we started moving the office and it came time to empty my drawers out. At that point I wasn’t sure whether the serial number was something I should keep a record of, so I saved the box to be on the safe side. Granted, that WAS like eight weeks ago, but still.
- small bottle of ibuprofen: because tylenol doesn’t work on my period cramps.
- passport: the last time I traveled internationally, I used this bag as my carry-on. That was April of 2017. Passport’s still in there.
- brush and comb: because sometimes I try to make my hair all travel in sort of the same direction, just to see what it looks like.
- sugar free honey lemon Ricola cough drops, half bag: these are another cleaning-out-old-desk holdover
- 2016 W2 tax form: I think I had this with me to validate my 2016 adjusted gross income so that I could file my 2017 taxes online. I did my taxes in February. It is now almost September.
- 2017 W2 tax form: see above.
- 2017 W2 tax form of my husband’s: see above.
- small tube of refill erasers for a Pentel mechanical pencil: I bought these through work with the intention of using them in my clicky pencils at home. Haven’t gotten there yet. I still use the pencils…I just erase with a different eraser. Guess I didn’t need them that bad?
- broken claw-style hair clip, small: it’s not completely broken – just one tooth got snapped off. Still totally viable in a hair emergency, which I feel the need to always be prepared for.
- my copy of my mom’s advance directive paperwork: my mom got really sick for a while back in early 2017. They made her fill out advance directive (living will) paperwork and since I’m her only kid and I’m named for everything in it along with my dad, I had to be given a copy. It doesn’t have any sensitive information on it or anything…it’s just a super weird thing to have been carrying around for like 18 months.
- letter from a friend, postmarked May 2017: When I went to renew my driver’s license in December 2017, I had to bring some pieces of mail with me to prove that I really do live where I say I live. Because, you know, that shit totally couldn’t be faked.
- 2017 car registration (now long expired): I THINK this may have been related to the last item, but I’m not positive.
- pay stub circa 12/2017: possibly also related to the license renewal thing? I get all my pay stubs electronically now, so at least I don’t have to worry about accumulating large piles of them anymore.
- receipt for coach tickets dated April 2017: this was from our trip to the UK. It was actually tucked into my passport folio thing but must have worked its way out during one of my many pawing-through-layers-of-shit-to-find-keys sessions.
- little card from flowers my husband sent me for our anniversary: which anniversary, I can’t be sure. Which number, I mean. I know that they were for our wedding anniversary, not like…the anniversary of that time I thought it would be a good idea to put raisins in the sweet potato mash (because trust me, that was NOT a celebratory experience for him).
- job application for local grocery store, blank: this was given to me to give to my husband when the owner of the local grocery store was trying to get him to come work for her. The fact that it’s still in my bag like four months later should tell you what he thought of that idea.
- book, entitled ‘Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself’: I bought this from Amazon and forgot to change my shipping address from work to home, so it got delivered at work. I took it out of the box, tucked it into my bag with the intention of starting it after I finished the book I was working on at the time. This was in January (I just checked Amazon). As you can clearly tell, I’ve not yet gotten over myself enough to actually crack this book.
- reusable plastic carrier bag from Asda: this is circa April 2017 when we were in the UK. We went to Asda to stock up on British candy before we headed home. I had my usual guilt over trashing a plastic bag once I got home, and then realized this was actually a pretty decent reusable bag. Why I felt that keeping it folded up in my purse was an appropriate use for it, I couldn’t tell you.
There you go. I’ve now wasted just over 2,000 words telling you about all the junk in my bag. 2008 to be exact. Well, before I wrote that. And that. Ok, I gotta go.
To say my partner is a good guy would be a profound understatement. He is truly one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met…and I’m not just saying that because I have to share a bathroom with him. For as long as I have known him, he has always made a point of giving to others. Whether it’s his time, his money, or even his most treasured belongings, he’s always happy to step up and help someone in need, and to do it with a smile.
Mark’s most outstanding physical trademark has always been a very long ginger ponytail. He’s always been into heavy metal music and long hair tends to come with that territory. Plus, having a long ponytail was something polite society didn’t really want him to do in the time and place that he grew up, so maintaining it was always kind of an act of defiance for him, a little way of flipping off said polite society and all it stood for.
After 30+ years of maintaining the long hair, he’s now ready to give it up, all in the name of charity. Because, like I said, he has a habit of taking being a good guy to a whole different level.
The charity he’s choosing to support with this endeavor is the National Immigration Law Center. Unless you’ve been living under an actual rock for the past couple years (is there room under there for me? Seriously, I can bring snacks), you understand why NILC has become so important to so many people. Even so, I still encourage you to click the link above and read more about what they do and how they are helping some of the most vulnerable among us. They are a vital resource in these days of seemingly constant shifting interpretations of immigration law and, quite frankly, human rights.
I’m going to throw up the link for Mark’s GoFundMe campaign below, but I’d like to point out here that NILC is a four star rated charity and has a direct funding agreement with GoFundMe, so any donations made to Mark’s campaign will go DIRECTLY to NILC, not to his or my bank account. I don’t want any ambiguity on this – we will not personally be benefiting financially from any donations made. Which, of course, is as it should be.
If you want to throw a few bucks at it, we’ll love you forever. If you don’t have any money spare but you want to share the link around to get more eyeballs on it, again…undying love. If you want to shut your browser window and forget you ever heard of the NILC, well…you do you. I don’t have the time or energy to be mad about it.
Thanks for your consideration!