And Now I Am One

I’ve always been scornful of those bathroom phone people. You’ve heard them, blathering away in the next stall. I’ve always laughed at them a little as I tinkled away merrily, fastidiously avoiding hand-to-face activities. I laughed at the end of the conversations I could hear, and tried to imagine the gist of the whole thing to use as writing exercises, and would think loftily that you’ll never catch me admitting to the Sprint guy that I need a new phone because I dropped mine in the toilet. Not to mention the types of germs…well, I said I wasn’t going to mention it, so I won’t.

Except now I’m one of them.

It’s a lifestyle thing, I now realize. At least for me. My new job has a strict no-phones-at-the-desk rule, because all day long I have people’s health care information splayed across two monitors, and I just might be dumb enough to accidentally enter my phone’s security code and then accidentally push the camera button and then accidentally take a picture of some woman’s Social Security number and her bill for chlamydia treatment, and then accidentally tweet it. I know I am not that dumb, but a lot of things have happened lately that I’d have thought impossible, so there it is. The only time I can quick-check email and text messages and see what’s up with my tribe is on my breaks.

I have become a toilet texter.

It’s hilarious.

It’s still better, though, because I finally figured out how, post-election, I can stand to be on Facebook once again. I know, I know, a woman’s place is in the resistance, and I need to be aware of what’s going on, and write to my representatives and call my representatives, and I would have been all over the Women’s March if I hadn’t ruined my knees and feet with decades of awesome shoes.

Shoes like these. Beautiful, fabulous shoes. I used to live in gorgeous shoes like these, and I ruined my feet, and it was totally worth it. Photo courtesy of rhythmuswege/Pixabay.

I am proud to know a dozen women who did march, and I’m very much aware that they marched for me as well as for them, they marched for every woman in this country, every woman in the world, and they are amazing and I love them for it. I’m still sorry I couldn’t do it too. That’s one of my regrets – in my life, I’ve never taken part in a protest. I suppose I could do a sit-in.

Anyway, I was avoiding social media after the election because I simply cannot take any more of that goddamned fuuuugly orange mug. It makes me feel physically ill. Literally. I do stay informed, from established, trusted sources including the Seattle Times and the Washington Post, the BBC and NPR. I don’t want to see Der Pumpkinfuhrer on Facebook partly because it’s social media, where I connect with people I like, to talk about things we like and see my horoscope and pictures of llamas and other people’s sunsets and desserts and shoes I can no longer wear, but mostly because if people are going to post about the White Kanye then I’d prefer it to be from reliable sources, and I can’t take any more stupid memes and dubious news articles from the likes of Brietbart and Buzzfeed. I don’t need alternate facts when the real facts are bad enough. (You’ll notice I picked clickbait news sources from each slant of the political spectrum. I try to be fair about this stuff, and it’s too easy for any of us to go with news that reinforces how we already think rather than swallow distasteful information, no matter how accurate. This is important. I cannot stress it enough.)

My return to Facebook is possible because of this awesome Chrome extension I found that blocks our Asshole in Chief when you’re net-surfing. I know, right? Want to know how well it works? When I was previewing my last blog post prior to publishing, the sentence I wrote about Captain Chaos didn’t even show up, and I thought WordPress was wigging out, or maybe I somehow wasn’t typing it right. I typed it again. Still not there. So I disabled the blocking extension, and the sentence showed up fine. Enabled it again, and the sentence disappeared. I had to use code names (which are more fun anyway) in order to put this post together for you. And it works with pictures too, so I don’t have to look at that fucking ugly face at all.

It’s awesome!

You’re welcome.

So, yeah, I am now a toilet texter. Who’d a thunk it? With everything going on in the world, it gives me a feeling of subterfuge, like my bathroom connections are more nefarious than reading about my friend’s son’s acceptance to a nice college. I’m hunkered down, reading and tapping out replies, and it feels like they should be in code. The moral of the story is to be careful what you laugh at because you think it’s outside all realms of possibility. I mean, really. Me liking someone’s margarita while sitting on my porcelain throne and the Cheeto Jesus shredding the Constitution on what he evidently views as his own throne. What is the world coming to.

The other moral of the story is no matter what kind of shoes you wear or where you check your email, carry on.



*This post is tagged “Kim Kardashian” because, once again, I am amazed that I could miss the silly twit, and I don’t even have her blocked.

I Never Thought I Could Miss Kim Kardashian

I can’t sleep. I’ve used up all my Candy Crush lives and the dog’s too (yes, she has a Facebook account, and spends way too much time playing stupid games). So it’s a good time to write about annoying fads.

I shouldn’t knock stuff, I suppose. If it makes people happy, who am I to complain? Except some things are so faddish as to be downright irritating (I could almost be a hipster, but they’re too mainstream  for me).

“Sourcing.” A pretentious way of saying “getting,” “obtaining,” “acquiring,” or whatever. “We source our organic ingredients from a farm in the Andes nobody’s ever heard of, accessible only by specially trained yak*, with native and sustainable methods you wouldn’t understand if you don’t speak Quechua” is the implication here. It just sounds so much…sourcier…than saying you get your stuff from the places that give you the best price, which are the same old places everybody else gets their stuff from. You’re not fooling me. To “source” something, as a verb, has become almost as ubiquitous as the infernal “hack,” the annoying new usage of which I could not find among sixteen different definitions of “hack” in any dictionary. But that’s another rant.

Branding, but not like livestock. It used to be that writers had voice, artists had idiom. Now everybody’s talking about their “brand.” I’m not sure I want my personal style likened to a trademark logo. I understand that artists have to eat too, especially the ones looking to break through and give up the soul-scarring day job in Corporate America, but for things creative, I think “branding” is an unfortunate cross between art and the commercial.

Trilogies. I suspect Tolkien started this, although he probably had no idea at the time and may well be spinning in his grave now. Scrolling through books on Goodreads, I swear everything is part of a trilogy these days. I’ve read the first installments of many of these, mainly from writers I’ve never heard of and who, I believe, are trying to establish themselves. Sadly, most of these books left a lot to be desired, so that I’ve stopped reading anything touted as “the brilliantly imagined first installment of the thrilling vampire werewolf steampunk urban fantasy romance mystery young adult dystopian trilogy that will keep you awake and leave you breathless!” I think writers are doing themselves a disservice here, trying to jump onto the Hunger Games and Twilight** trilogy gravy train with stories that would be much better if boiled down and presented as one solid book. Or maybe they want to be like Rocky, with its forty-eleven sequels. Either way, like “branding,” I find it to be a bad marriage of art and business.

bykst/Pixabay, CC0 PD

Steel-cut oatmeal. Who knew you could make a fad out of oatmeal? I see this stuff everywhere I go just lately. Google does not make it sound appetizing and I refuse to even try it, already being a non-oatmeal-fan; my mom will gladly tell you how my aversion to lumpy food became manifest at a very early age. Given the spitting-back prowess I displayed, you’d think she’d have stopped trying to feed me tapioca a lot sooner than she did.

I haven’t yet seen steel-cut oatmeal in pumpkin spice flavor, although I’m not really looking, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Toothpaste too, probably.

Spotted by my cousin Mem in Montrose, Colorado.

Which brings us to “pumpkin spice” anything. Yes, I am a pumpkin spice hater, but only because it’s so typically American, to overuse or misuse a good thing and run it into the ground (witness fossil fuels, social media, technology, pithy Facebook quotes, fen-phen). Pumpkin pie has earned its exalted place on Thanksgiving menus, but why can’t we just leave it there, where it’s special? For cripes sake, “pumpkin spice” dog food? *** What self-respecting dog has been waiting to be treated just like its hoomans with pumpkin spice kibble?  And that’s not a dig against dogs. Dogs are superior to humans, for reasons it will be pointless to list if you don’t already know what they are. I like most dogs more than I like most people.****

Which leads me to humanizing dogs, which includes giving the dog a birthday party every year, complete with presents and fancy hats, and considering owners who do not provide doggie day care to be unfit pet parents. Stop trying to make dogs like people! Dogs are better than that! (And I’m frankly jealous of anyone with the money to piss away on a Milk Bone cake.)

And last but not least, the Kardashians. Although I’m lightening up a little. I was surprised to find myself happy to see Kim in my news again the other day. I’ve gotten so sick of seeing that “Cheeto-faced ferret wearing shitgibbon”***** Donald Trump everywhere that I was actually missing Kim and Kanye ,who are just as qualified as The Donald and Melania for a White House run, but a lot less scary.

And so I don’t sound so incessantly negative, here are a few of the many things I like and approve of:

“Swoop,” defined as zooming in to pick someone up and zooming away again almost before they have the car door closed. Dream Girl’s friends swoop her to go to the beach.

I’m not a huge Starbucks fan, but no one else makes these yummilicious green tea frappuccinos. I took a picture of this one because (1) they got the right name, instead of the Barbara/Brenda/Rhonda I so often get, and (2) they spelled it correctly! So that’s a twofer good thing.


Dogs who have their own dogs. Or their own cats. Or cats who have their own dogs. There was a dog my brother used to think was his, but that dog actually belonged to my sister’s cat.

Enough positivity!  It’s almost time to actually get up and ready for work. I have just enough time for a quick round of Words With Friends with Lilly the FatDog (who does not have her own cat because she would eat it, and I worry it’s not gluten-free******).

Welcome back, Kim Kardashian! I never thought I could miss you.

*Except that yaks are native to the Himalayas and parts north, not South America, but I really like the word “yak” so I’m using yaks instead of the indigenously correct llama. Poetic license.

* *Twilight is actually four books,  and I’m sorry,  but only Douglas Adams can pull off the four-book trilogy. I don’t care if Twilight isn’t billed as a trilogy; this is something else to dislike about it so I’m running with it.

I loved The Hunger Games. I read the Twilight books but not where anyone could see me doing it, and the most I got out of them was an enhanced appreciation for Bad Lip-Reading’s lampoon videos. I have never watched, and will never watch, a Twilight movie. As for LOTR, I have been destined to marry Aragorn since we first met in the shabby paperbacks I hid inside my textbook during eighth grade math lectures, which explains why I needed remedial math when I started college.

***Although there’s deep-fried Starbucks PSL! I’m not going to make it, mainly because its two ingredients are sugar and oil and I’m trying to lose weight and keep my cardiac patient husband alive and, oh yeah, I’m a lazy cook at heart, but it still tickled me. Redneck meets basic.

****Except for Dachshunds. That’s the only breed of dog I’ve been bitten by, and I’ve been bitten by three of them. By all means love your wiener dog, but keep it far away from me.

******Nobody does insults like the British. Nobody. They’re Olympic.

******Oh Lord, let’s not even go there.

The Accidental Unplug

Due to a billing glitch, I’ve been without a cell phone for the last several days. I had no idea how dependent on that stupid little hand-held electronic gadget I’d become.

It takes me back to, oh, 1980 or so, when microwave ovens started becoming very popular. “Who on earth needs one of those?” I said. I didn’t get one until after my son was born in 1988, and even then I was scared to heat his bottles in it because of some story I’d heard somewhere about radiation or exoplanetary death rays or something. Now, of course, it would be difficult to live without a microwave. I almost did, back when I took my kids and left the Troll, taking few kitchen implements and little money, but my mom showed up at the doorstep of my new apartment with several bags of badly needed groceries, cleaning supplies, and — ta-daah! — a microwave oven. Moms, keeping us clean, fed, and civilized, since forever.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I’m seeing all these cool people with their cell phones, on their hips in holsters, like six-shooters. “Good lord, no,” I said, more than once. I don’t like talking on the phone and will avoid it even when I’m stuck in the same room with one; why in hell do I want one everywhere I go? When I got my very first apartment, I didn’t have a phone, because the phone company wanted an outrageous deposit even though I worked for them. I didn’t care, but my mother was appalled. “What if a rapist breaks in? How will you call the police?” Umm right, Mom. I’m sure the rapist will stop and let me call the police, then rape me. Maybe I can hit him over the head with the phone. Whatever. Mom gave me the money for the deposit, I got a phone, and my world has seldom been entirely quiet since.

It looked exactly like this. Exactly. Even the color. It was usually unplugged. If people really wanted to talk to me, they could come over. Yes, I am an introvert. No, I never had to hit a burglar over the head with it, although I did throw it at a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend once.

Public Domain.

And eventually, like pretty much everyone I know, I gave in to the cell phone. The whole shebang, with music and the ‘net and a picture of the French raspberry tart I’m having for dessert and apps for every damn thing you can think of. I succumbed.

Just how far, I had not known.

So here I am, these last few days. No cell service. No checking email. No balance alerts from my bank. No playing Dumb Ways To Die while waiting for the bus. No Metro app, or plugging into Pandora to shut out the obnoxious drunk three rows behind me. No online Washington Post. No texting Monster when we’re both supposed to be working. No texting Dream Girl about what she wants for dinner and why she has to, for a few months more at least, consider finding x to be one of life’s most important missions. No graphing calculator website. No setting appointments and reminder alarms. No texts from the Tominator reminding me that I’m gawjuss. No writing flash fiction. No looking up microwave ovens on Google to see if they transmit radiation into baby bottles. No reserving books at the library, or putting my book down to look up an unfamiliar word or term. And if it weren’t for the small screen and my getting-old eyes, I’d read books on my phone too.

Just about the only thing I don’t do with my phone is talk. Some things don’t change.

Still. It’s a monster.

I’m maintaining well, all things considered. We switched from monthly plans for three different lines to a family plan, and the company ignored the two weeks we’d already prepaid and moved our payment due date up, but didn’t tell us any of that. Surprise, no phone! Yes, the Tominator talked to the nice woman at the local provider store (because the rep at 1-800-WE-SUCK cared not a whit) and got us the credit we deserve. But there’s all that inconvenience, all that missed communication, all that withdrawal. A credit, yes, thank you so much for the credit, but what about these days I’ve had to slog through with no phone? You can’t give that back to me!

Wait…give what back?

Well, instead of playing Zombie Highway at the Metro stop, I looked around at the trees and the morning sky and the moon, hanging low and fading. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds chirping. Instead of writing flash fiction in Google Docs, I wrote in a notebook, with a pen, and laughed because it felt like I was trying to draw hieroglyphs. I left the Tominator a note with x’s and o’s, instead of sending a text with a heart emoji. I read a real book, that smelled like binding glue and dusty paper and had that wondrous, solid, secret, book feel in my hands. OK, I do that a lot anyway, but still. It felt so 2005, you know? I checked email on my laptop at home. I didn’t read the news at all, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss much. I know the world didn’t end; it’s right there, outside my window. I didn’t see one word about Kim Kardashian anywhere. I feel lighter of heart.

Tomorrow is payday, and I should have my phone back in service.


But I do need to call my mom.

The First Annual (or Whatever) 99 Monkeys Stupidest Random Awards

The Stupidest Song You Can’t Not Sing Along With: Daydream Believer. That song is as impossible to break away from as the Borg. And I’m not bagging on the Monkees. I love the Monkees. I had as big a crush on Davy Jones as any other girl.

The Stupidest Best Philosophy I Just Might Adopt Immediately: WWKRD? What Would Keith Richards Do? Say what you want about the man, he’s a survivor. “Keep calm, get blazed, and play the riff ” has a simple purity to it.

Of course I am not the first to have thought of this. It’s a real book, and I want it.

I am aware that Keith Richards and Davy Jones are sort of the antithesis of each other, and I’m okay with that.

Elegantly wasted, indeed.

The Stupidest Dictionary: The one in my phone. It absolutely will not learn the word “damn,” but regularly tries to autofill “fisting” for any number of normal, everyday words. Are you fucking kidding me, Samsung? Learn “fuck,” too.
The Stupidest Super Power: My inability to sleep adequately for years on end. I can sleep only 10 minutes a night for a week at a time, and somehow my body thinks a 10-hour collapse once a week is sufficient for me to catch up and somehow avoid a psychotic break from sleep deprivation.

Unless, of course, this is due to a psychic awakening because I am, in fact, one of the Star People from the Pleiades. If that’s true, then I’d just like to go home now, please. A pair of ruby slippers would make short work of the 445 light-year trip.

The Stupidest Ostrich Argument: All these inane social media posts about wonderful white cops and wonderful black detainees and just all-around warm and fuzzy racial wonderfulness. It’s like posting about all the people who don’t have cancer to “remind us the world isn’t completely bad,” which really means “allow us to pretend the bad thing isn’t there.” No matter how many people don’t have cancer, cancer is still an ugly plague. So is racism. Stop trying to pretty it up or shrug away from it.

Of course. Racism solved.

The Stupidest “News”: That two little kids held hands. I don’t know what’s stupider, that someone actually got paid for writing this crap, or that people continue to eat up anything about the Kardashians. But that’s our society these days: the most money and the biggest boobs.

The Stupidest Place to Get Your News: Facebook. Remember, what you read is only as accurate as the most ignorant user.

This prank meme, Steven Spielberg posing with
a fake dinosaur from the Jurassic Park set,
was taken seriously by a disturbingly large number of people.

The Stupidest Alert System: Whoever invented obnoxious car alarms should be shot. OK, maybe not shot, but perhaps forced to be awakened by this rude noise every 15 minutes for the rest of his life. Nobody goes running out to catch the car burglar when these things go off, and go off, and go off, and go off, ad insaniam. What they do is start looking for the baseball bat they will use to shut the damned thing up, when it turns out the car’s owner is away on a three-week tour of Russia and the Balkan lands.

The runner-up is whoever thought up using a car horn as an alert to tell you that you’ve locked or unlocked your vehicle. Do it the old-fashioned way, by, um, remembering where you parked it. And if you can’t remember, then you’re missing out on the fun of trying to find your beat-up ride in the sea of a coliseum parking lot, with your ears still ringing from the concert and your head swimming from the ganja. Where’s your sense of adventure?

Overall, I think car horns are far too subject to rude usage, and should therefore be un-invented.
That’s it for this installment. Here’s the earworm. You’re welcome.

Poof! You’re a Tree: #1000Speak

Acceptance is so very, very hard. The one thing it absolutely requires is suspension of judgment, true absence of judgment, something few of us are very good at.
One thing I am learning, slowly, as I struggle uphill through my haphazard life, is that if we’re going to be able at all to accept the world around us and the people in it, the first thing we need to be able to accept is ourselves.
This month’s #1000Speak post is not a how-to or a how-I-got-here or a here-is-what-I’ve-learned. It’s random thoughts, mainly, on something I need to get a lot better at. But I didn’t realize that at first. As usual, I was struggling with what to write this month.
And then I saw this on Facebook the other day, and it was perfect:

I can’t credit the author of the meme, but I can tell you that it came from the Facebook page of Tree Sisters, and I love it. Trees and Ram Dass; what’s not to love?
I struggle horribly with acceptance. Like so many, I’m a lot more forgiving and accepting of others than I am of myself. (Well, except for bigots and Kardashian fans. We’ve got nothing to talk about.)
The different body types. Oh Lord, is this a peeve of mine, the notion that an imperfect body denotes a imperfect person, and don’t even get me started on my loathing for the ridiculous standards of beauty rampant in this country. I’m the first to defend anybody else for not being physically “perfect” (whatever that’s supposed to be anyway), but I’m the first to criticize myself. I remember when Dream Girl was little and she asked me why people love other people who are ugly, and I told her that no one who is loved is ugly, because love makes people beautiful. I would do well to remember that I am loved, and therefore I am beautiful.
Personal faults. How silly is it, to be accepting and understanding of the faults of others but not to extend that same grace to myself? This is not an excuse to decide I don’t need to try to become a better person. I believe that’s one of the things we’re living this life for – to evolve. But it is a reminder that as much as I want to be better, I am also exactly where I’m supposed to be. If I was supposed to be somewhere else, that’s where I’d be. As long as I don’t stop striving, it’s okay to cut myself some slack.
The views and opinions of others. Yes, even bigots and Kardashian fans. Each of us here is evolving, in our way and in our own time, with our own unique histories and memories and battle scars and fears and windmills to tilt at. No perception of the world around us is without stain or skew. We’re all learning. Some of us are a little further along than others, and not for one second am I claiming I’m any further than anyone else. Except Kardashian fans. No, wait — them too. And yes, even bigots.
So, back to Ram Dass. How awesome is that quote, how perfectly true? We see a tree, or a flower, or a star, and we don’t criticize it. We may analyze it and classify it and place it in a certain context, as it paints part of our picture of the world for us, but we don’t criticize it. It just is.
And that’s how I’m going to look at this from now on.
I’m a tree.
You’re a tree.
And how much do I love trees?
Some of my favorite trees. Founders Grove, Humboldt Redwoods
State Park, California.
Time, and judgment, stand still.

Bullshit, Kim.

I publish a post about what a waste of news space you are, and now you’re everywhere even worse than you were. An app for your stupid Hollywood game is banner-style down the side of my Facebook page. An ad for your gacky perfume, and I hate perfume anyway as I made clear in this post, is now big and fat in the middle of my news feed.

OK, I get it. You’re rich. You’re insidious. You’re crafty. You will make me pay for mocking you.

That’s okay. Please note that I use apostrophes correctly. I am the apostrophe champion. I don’t know for certain that you misuse apostrophes, but I’m guessing. I know it’s pathetic, but it’s all I have.

I’m not even really that irritated. It’s just that I have a head cold and I don’t want to do my statistics homework and tomorrow’s Monday. If you weren’t everywhere I go you wouldn’t be such a handy scapegoat.