Thursday, August 30, 2012

Birthday Presents

It’s my best friend’s birthday today. One does not discuss a lady’s age without her permission, but I will say it’s a Big Deal Birthday. A Milestone birthday, as it were.

Not that it matters. As far as I’m concerned, every single one of her birthdays should be a milestone.

And so, every year, I end up playing the “What do I get you for your birthday” game. (Well, in my head, at least. I don’t actually ASK her that. Figuring out her present is my job, not hers.)

It’s tricky, because as I said, every one of her birthdays should be a milestone. It’s not an exaggeration to say that she saved my life. I was in a dark place and she showed up with some candles, looked around at the cave I had backed myself into, and declared, “This sucks. We’re going to the beach. Get your stuff.” I didn’t really WANT to go to the beach … or the mall … or out for burritos … at first, but you don’t argue with this woman, so I went. And before I knew it, I DID want to go out. Before I knew it, I was moving out of my cave – squinting in the sunlight, but outside. And laughing. Sometimes crying, but mostly laughing and remembering what it felt like to feel happy and ALIVE.

What do you give someone who’s given you THAT?

What do you give someone who thinks your stupid jokes are all funny? Who laughs every time – EVERY TIME – you say, “Hey, you know who’s in that movie? Matthew McConaughey-hey-HEY-hey!”?  Who believes that you deserve the best and that anyone who doesn’t agree with that statement is a complete asshole? Who not only tolerates your cat, but actually loves her as though she’s her own? Who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth gently when it’s required, and bluntly when it’s not getting through? What do you get that person?

I can’t tell you what I did get her (because I didn’t give it to her yet) but I can tell you this: whatever it is, it’s never enough.

Happy Birthday, Kristen Flink.

You’re the best.

Monday, August 27, 2012

SUMMAH! (That's "Summer" to You From-Away-ers)

It’s the last week of summer! I mean, not officially – I think that technically, summer doesn’t end until mid September or something? – but it’s the last week before Labour Day and back to school and all of that. So in my head, that makes it the last week of summer.

I have a lot of stuff to do this week. Good stuff, but man, a lot of STUFF. You probably do too.

So there won’t really be posts this week. Unless, of course, some whacked out politician type says something that makes me off the charts crazy. But that’s not likely to happen, right?*

In the meantime, go outside. Run around. Enjoy the last week of summer. And I’ll be back next week.


*I am so expecting this to happen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Come On, Vogue

Something you may not know about me (especially if you’ve seen me lately, since my new favorite uniform is knee length skirt, t shirt, hoodie, flip flops) is that I get Vogue magazine.

I’m faintly embarrassed by this, mostly because of WHY I get it. You know how a lot of fine upstanding fellas say that they read Playboy for the articles?

I read Vogue for the … ads.

I know it’s weird. I’ve mostly cancelled my fashion magazine subscriptions because I (again, mostly) don’t care what someone in New York or LA thinks that my New Hampshire dwelling self should be wearing. As much as I like pretty clothes, I don’t care that this is the year of the wedge boot, or the whatever else it’s the year of, since I’m pretty much going to be wearing my Wellies all winter long to keep my feet dry and cozy.

But oh MAN do I love a fashion advertisement. I love the choices involved – where does the product go? How is it featured? What’s the colour palette? Is there text? What does it say? Where is the text placed? I LOVE this kind of thing; I think it’s a holdover from my stint as the editor of my high school newspaper when I had to think about where the words and images would go on the page. It was fascinating. I loved it almost as much as I loved the writing.

The writing in Vogue? I don’t love. It annoys me. It’s the 1% writing for the 99% as though we should care about what the 1% do, where they go, and what they have. Frankly, most of that makes me feel gross about getting the magazine at all, like I’m lightly coated with slime. HAMPTONS slime, no less. Tossed at me from a Birkin bag by a woman who’s only famous because her daddy has money. Wheee! It’s off-putting.

The ads though. They’re amazing.

When I went to my mailbox this morning, the new issue of Vogue was hogging up the inside, forcing the rest of my mail to cower resentfully in the corner (the Kittery Trading Post flyer looked MAD) behind the 916 page (yes, you read that properly: nine hundred and sixteen pages) beast that is the fall fashion spectacular. 
I do love me some Lady Gaga, I won't lie
It’s thicker than my phone book, and frankly – since I mentioned the 1% -- I feel like it’s a demonstration of the excess and frivolity that both the 1% and Vogue itself represent.  There is NO REASON for a fashion magazine – especially a high fashion magazine, which includes clothes the average subscriber couldn’t possibly afford, especially in this economy -- to be 916 pages. NONE.  It’s a gross waste of trees.

Even if it is 80% of glorious, pretty, brilliantly designed ads. (Oh and it is—let’s not kid ourselves.)

So, I’m embarrassed.  I realize that by purchasing the magazine, I’m perpetuating what it stands for and also, sort of saying that I’m okay with cutting down an entire rainforest so that I can see the newest Chanel ad. (Which, by the way, is visual POETRY. I’m just saying.)

When this subscription ends next month, I’m not going to renew. It’s too much. I’m too embarrassed.

But until then? Prada ads for everyone!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Scaling Back

I have a confession to make: I’ve secretly been in a highly dysfunctional relationship for years.

With … it pains me to admit it … my bathroom scale.

My relationship with food and my body has been so disordered for so long that I don’t know how “normal” people interact with a bathroom scale, or if they even HAVE bathroom scales. I  only know how I interact with mine.

People: It’s not good.

I weigh myself every day. EVERY DAY. Sometimes, multiple times a day. The number that comes up on the scale is how I know how to feel about myself. If the number is smaller today than it was yesterday, I am allowed to like me, to feel as though I have some worth. If for some reason it is higher than it was yesterday, I am clearly a miserable failure and should not be allowed out of the house.

I think it goes without saying that the number on the scale also dictates whether or not I am allowed to eat, and what I am allowed to eat.

If this sounds fucked up, it’s because it is. 

When I was actively anorexic, I remember feeling relief as I watched the numbers on the scale get smaller and smaller, but I also felt anxious because I knew that they could never get small enough. You can never weigh NOTHING, but the closer the number could get to zero was the closer I could get to success. I know that makes NO sense, but getting smaller was like winning – only the Charlie Sheen kind, which meant that I was very close to self-destruction.

I may no longer be anorexic, but my eating is still disordered. I don’t really know how to see my body through a lens of reality. I don’t like photographs of myself. I don’t own a full length mirror. I am learning to celebrate the things that my body can do – run! Swim! Hike! Play games! – but I have yet to figure out how to be able to view it objectively. I can manage it for small spaces of time – look at me, I’m a curvy, fun woman! Whee! – and then that time passes and I am reduced to being portions of a whole, thighs and arms and stomach, and they all seem to weigh 300 pounds each.

So, the bathroom scale, to tell me what I’m worth.

I hate living under the tyranny of the scale, because I know all of the things it doesn’t measure – it doesn’t measure kindness, or love, or humour, not that any of those things are felt in its presence. It doesn’t measure joy, not that I ever feel joy in the moments while it calculates who I get to be today. It doesn’t, in fact, measure any of the things I want to be recognized for. It only measures weight.

The problem, I realize, is not the scale. The problem is that I allow myself to live like this. I need to stop. However, the idea of stopping makes me feel unhinged. What will happen if I no longer have an anchor? What will I do if I don’t have my numbers to tell me my worth?

The simple answer – that I will have to find my worth in the things that the scale doesn’t measure – terrifies me. I don’t know if I know how to do that.  But oh, do I want to.

I took the scale out of my bathroom this morning. I weighed myself one last time, and then stuffed the scale under the couch. I wanted to toss it out, but I can’t. The idea of not having it at all is much too frightening right now. I need to have it just in case.  (Just in case what? I have to ask myself. Just in case I need to punish myself for eating a sandwich? Just in case I start to feel good about myself? OH THE HORROR!)

It’s not a clean break, but it’s a step. Maybe, if I take enough steps, I can eventually walk away. Fingers crossed.

***UPDATED*** Some loving but insistent prodding did actually lead me to throw away the scale. I am not tall enough for a photo of this, but it did make a resounding thud. Of course, that could also have been the sound of my heart threatening to beat out of my chest with fear, so there's that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Know Thyself

Have you ever been hanging out with someone, and heard them say something about themselves that was  a great big whopper of a lie, but that they apparently believe to be absolutely true? Something like “Oh, I’m not very judgemental,” from the person who just hissed at you across the table, “OH MY GOD BECKY LOOK AT HER BUTT!”*

Yeah, me too.

So in the interest of full disclosure, here are ten things about me that I would like not to be true, but totally are. If I try to deny any of them later, feel free to call me out.

1.       I am a dork.

It’s important here that you not confuse “dork” with “nerd”. Nerds are having a moment. Nerds are cool.  You know when I’ve been cool? NEVER, that’s when.  I’m very much aware of it, every moment of my life, and I’m starting to embrace the “I don’t fit in” feeling that I have at nearly all times (And by at all times, I mean at all times, including with my family… there are a grand total of four people who I feel completely comfortable around) because if you don’t fit in? You can get away with doing pretty much anything because those people don’t really think you’re awesome anyway, so you don’t have to care. This is somewhat liberating.

2.       I am clumsy.

I might tell you “Oh I love to dance” and that will be true, but the unspoken follow up truth is this – I also fall down a lot. In public. While sober. Sometimes during dancing. There. Now you know.

3.       I am highly strung.

I would like to be able to be described as mellow, or laid back. I am neither mellow nor laid back or zen-like. I have achieved this state a few times, but mostly? There is a reason a previous employer called me “hair trigger” and that reason is that if you push my buttons I WILL flip out. I won’t stay flipped out for very long (see #7 for exceptions) but it will be briefly intense.

4.       I live like a college student.

I work from home. Therefore, “work appropriate wardrobe” has no meaning for me. Neither does “eating like an adult” because … it’s just me. Why bother? Ramen and a pudding cup? Oh heck why not.

5.       I will find ANY reason to get out of a relationship.

It continues to amaze the people who have known me for a long time that Mr Wrong and I ever got married, because no one ever thought I would stay in a relationship long enough for that eventuality. I can find a reason to break up with anyone.  It’s pathetic. Now, to be fair to me, some people must be broken up with, because they’re stalkers, or because they want things in life that you don’t want, but I recognize that those are valid reasons to break up with someone, as opposed to reasons like “he leaves the toilet seat up” or “he really really REALLY loves Rush.” **

6.       Once a grudge is created, I will hold it for the rest of time.

It’s incredibly difficult to push me over the edge into grudge territory. As I said, I’m hair trigger, but I’m also an insta-forgiver. If you and I have a fight? I will be upset with you for about 20 minutes, and then I will be done with it and will fully expect that we will both be able to go on merrily with our day.

Unless, of course, you have crossed the line into unforgivable territory.

In which case, you will become dead to me.  I’m big on forgiveness, but there are some transgressions that will not be forgiven, and what they are is case-specific, so I can’t even review them.

7.       I am disappointed when people I love don’t share my worldview.

I don’t get mad about this? But I get REALLLLLLLLLLLLY sad. Like, heartbroken sad. It’s weird

8.       I am a crier.

I used not to be a crier, which caused people to be like “Wow, you are an emotionless block of ice. That’s not awesome.” Sadly, now I AM a crier. I would like not to be, but happiness? Makes me cry. Sadness? Makes me cry. Rage? Makes me cry. I need stock in tissues and waterproof mascara.

9.       I am secretly a slob.

My house is immaculate because I know that, underneath it all? I am a MESS. That’s why everything is so clean. Weird, but true.

10.   I am not spontaneous.

I love adventures. Carefully planned and executed adventures. If I tell you that I threw caution to the wind? That would be a lie. I wear caution like a beloved cardigan. I WILL NEVER THROW IT TO THE WIND. I am a planner, people!

So there you are. 10 things about me that I might wish weren’t true, but that no amount of wishing has yet resolved. What are your truths?


*if you’re my age, that song is now in your head. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

** I made those up. I have not broken up with anyone for either of those reasons. But I have used equally ridiculous reasons in real life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Living In Oblivion

I should probably mention before I start sharing what is a long list of ridiculousness that “Living In Oblivion” is the name of a series of CDs that might be the source of all of the awesome in the world. If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.  You should check it out here:

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. But now I have a yen to listen to The Church, so it’s all good.

Yesterday. That’s what I wanted to tell you about.

Yesterday afternoon. I was sitting at my desk, working, windows open, singing along with Barry Manilow – “Ooooooh Maaaaaaandy! You came and you gave without Taaaaaaaaking! But I sent you away!” (By the way, what’s up with that? Hey, Mandy, STOP BEING A DOORMAT! And Barry, why are you such a jerk to poor Mandy? Seriously!) – when I heard sirens.

To be fair to me, this happens a lot. I don’t live very far from a fire station, so if there’s an accident or something, they go zooming past my house, sirens a-wailing.  I paused long enough in my (overly dramatic) Barry-Sing-A-Long to think, “Oh, I hope there wasn’t a bad accident,” and then resumed working and caterwauling  singing.

And then I heard MORE sirens. And MORE. It sounded like they were pretty close by, too, but there’s an Irving station down the road where people REGULARLY take their life into their hands by pulling out into traffic, so I thought, “Oh no, someone probably got hit at the Irving station, I should say a little prayer for whoever it is.” So I did.  And then I resumed my work. Lalalalalalala. That Barry Manilow sure knows how to help a girl get through a busy afternoon.

At one point, I did look out the window only to see a largeish group of people hanging out in the parking lot. Weird, I thought. But then I thought, you know, it’s time for college students to be moving in – maybe all of those people know each other. Yay for your little parking lot reunion! Have a good school year! Study hard! I mean, who am I to judge if a bunch of people want to stand around chatting. Standing around and chatting is one of my favourite things to do.

It was about 6:30 – day long over, Barry turned off – when Flinkie called me. “Dude, WHAT is going on at your house?”

“Uh, nothing?” I looked around. Nope, situation normal.

“I just drove by your street and there are like a zillion firetrucks and caution tape!”

“Oh,” I said. “Um, I did hear sirens earlier,” I added, as though that would make up for the fact that apparently, there had been some sort of situation outside my window, and I was unaware of it.

I got online and googled. Sure enough, the apartment complex next to mine? Had been on FIRE. How badly, you ask?

This badly.

If I had stepped onto my balcony, I would have been able to SEE this. But I didn’t. Not only did I not step outside, I never smelled any smoke or had any indication that there was anything at all going on except for the sound of sirens, which I did hear, but thought were further away.

I was oblivious.

I’m telling this story for a couple of reasons. First, because there are obviously some people in my area who are now without homes. The American Red Cross is doing their good work supporting them – if you would also like to help, you can donate to the Red Cross here:

I’m also telling this story because I am ashamed of my behaviour. I heard many sirens, indicating that someone was in trouble. And I did NOTHING. I couldn’t even be bothered to look out my window. I was comfortable, working in my office, singing along with iTunes, minding my own business while there was a building LITERALLY burning down next door.  And while this is kind of an extreme case, it makes me think of how many times I have passed by someone who was in distress and either not noticed them or decided it was not my business.

I’m not the only one who’s done this, I don’t think, but it’s a terrible thing to do; looking away consciously, or opting out by refusing to look out the window is not acceptable. And as I see the political ads, the political debates, the political DRAMA that is unfolding as this election progresses, I am only more convinced of this truth: we can’t count on our leaders to lift us up, to lend a hand, to reach out. We have to reach out to each other. And we can’t do that if we refuse to see each other.

I was oblivious yesterday. I won’t be oblivious again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

I woke up on Saturday in an outrageously good mood. There was no reason not to be in a good mood, really – I was comfy and cozy in my bed, and Beansie was cuddled up next to me, purring.


Because I can’t let a sleeping dog – or, apparently, potential moment of angst – rest, I poked at the idea of happy. Really? I thought. Are you REALLY happy?

I was. I am.

For that, I have Mr Aggressively Hateful Letter Guy to thank.

You might be thinking: Um. That makes NO sense.

However, when you get some “You SUCK” mail – and let’s be honest, I’ve been told that I suck before, though this was certainly the most eyeball searing example of that -- you have to ask yourself some questions. Questions like “Well, do I actually suck?” and “Do I want to keep doing this if these are the kinds of reactions I’m going to get?” and “Do I need to reassess the way I live my life?”-- questions that merit asking anyway, because it never hurts to examine your life a little bit.

It came to me, though, when considering what happened, and what should potentially happen next, that fundamentally? What happened last week didn’t hurt me in the way I think it was meant to. It hit me in a place where I felt outraged that someone would direct abusive, hurtful, HATEFUL garbage at another human being, but it didn’t hurt me personally. I didn’t leave my desk reeling and in emotional pain, scared and scarred, and resolve to change my life to live according to the standards of Mr Angrypants or anyone else.

And I clearly am not shutting my yapper anytime soon.

In fact, here’s what I have determined:  I’m fine just the way I am. Actually, I’m better than fine. I’m feeling pretty freaking amazing.  My life isn’t perfect, but it’s kind of fantastic just the way it is, and I don’t have to apologize or make excuses or try to live by anyone else’s code. I’m done with that. It’s not happening ever again – and for anyone who ever wanted me to be someone else, someone different or “better” or whatnot? I bear you no ill will. (And I’m not mad at myself anymore for failing to live up to your standards, either. Yay for both of us!)

Also, I realize that there are people who think I don’t suck. If you think I don’t suck? I love it, because I think YOU’RE awesome. We should hang out and toast our mutual awesomeness.

If you think I DO suck? Equally fine, and good on you. I bet you’ve got many awesome qualities, though we probably won’t hang out anytime soon, if that’s okay, because I just seem to rub you the wrong way.

I’m pretty sure that the intention of the “You SUCK” letter was not to shore up my belief that I’m walking down the right path, but that’s what it did.

Which makes me all kinds of happy.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Only Post I'll Flat Out Beg You to Read

Dear, Delightful Blog Readers,

My Facebook account isn’t private. I mean, I’ve blocked some people who, for various reasons, have demonstrated that they shouldn’t have access to any part of my life, but for the most part? Public. Why? Because I am careful about what I post. It’s the INTERNET, y’all. So if I wouldn’t do/say/whatever it on the street, I doesn’t go on my Facebook account. And since I do post things I would do/say/whatever on the street, there’s no reason for my account to be private. I’m okay with it being open.

This means, of course, that Facebook – like, well, walking down the street – leaves me open for trolls. But, again, so does walking down the street. That doesn’t mean I should never leave the house, and it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be who I am on Facebook – or here in this blog, or anywhere else. Because, trolls or no trolls, it should always be safe to be who you are.

Except that sometimes, it isn’t.

I received a friend request a couple of weeks ago from someone I went to high school with – someone I didn’t know very well, but who was a friend of friends and who I sort of know. I accepted the friend request, because I’ve received multiple friend requests from people I knew only casually who have ended up being very good friends indeed. I didn’t think very much of it.

But apparently, he’s been thinking about me. And not fun thoughts, filled with unicorns and rainbows.

No. These were thoughts about whether or not I am a lesbian. And since he’s decided that I AM a lesbian, based on the way I look, act, speak, whatever, he should probably send me messages and posts that are hateful and using speech that I can only describe as obscenely offensive.

I am not going to dignify or validate the message(s) by reposting any of it here. Hate speech is hate speech, and it’s not generally very creative or original. Hate speech directed at someone for his (or her) sexuality includes an indication that someone should be raped straight – a lovely thing to say to someone, no? – and a variety of ill thought out slurs, vulgarities, and obscenities, which are intended for – well, I don’t actually know. To change me? To make me afraid? To make me angry?

Because let’s be clear here, people. I’m not afraid of this asshat. I’m also not interested in being silenced on any level. However, I am BEYOND enraged.

And I want to say this: when you argue against equal rights for all people, when you argue against equal civil rights for everyone regardless of their sexuality, you feed the fire of people like this. I don’t know this man, really, but he thinks he knows something about me, and he’s decided that the thing he thinks he knows is not acceptable, and feels completely justified in sending me hate filled, angry, violent words about what should happen to me and people he thinks are like me.

It doesn’t offend me when people look at me and make decisions about my sexuality based on my appearance, because I don’t see anything shameful about homosexuality. Not a thing.

Hate, though, is shameful. In any manifestation. There is no justification for hate.

I will not allow the hatred of this person – or any person – force me to change who I am. My Facebook account – and this blog – and the way I live my life will remain public.  My hope is that someday soon, it will be safe for everyone to live their life honestly and openly and without shame or fear, and that doing so will not feed the trolls.

That’s what I want. It’s what we all deserve.

Much love,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Make It Work

People always tell me that working out is awesome, that I will come to love it, that there will come a time when I start to look forward to the workouts. That I will crave the workout.

I understand that they believe this, and that maybe, for them it is true.

But let me also say this:


There are things in life that I do truly look forward to. Here are some of them:

Happy hour

Friday afternoon


Starbucks Pumpkin Lattes

Here are things I do not look forward to, ever:


Lifting weights

Having people look at me while I move my uncoordinated self through a series of organized, maniacal dance moves

Any activity that involves an overly chipper person reminding me to breathe

Look, I get that exercise is good for you. I GET IT. But don’t tell me that I’ll come to love it, because I won’t.  That’s not how I’m wired. I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just being honest. Some of us really look forward  to jogging, and some of us can’t wait to have a refreshing nap.  You can guess which group I belong to.

As I said, though, I get that exercise is important.

So I have to trick myself into it.

You might be wondering how that is possible. Well, it’s like this: I like to shop. I like shoes, I like outfits, and I like tshirts. So, I told myself that if I would work out, if I’d give this whole exercise thing a shot, then I could buy myself some cute things.

I might not ever look forward to exercise, but I ALWAYS look forward to new shoes.

Like these:

Laugh all you want, if you feel you must, but these shoes and I will be running about 20 miles this week. This is up from 0 miles a couple of weeks ago.

I still don’t crave or look forward to the workout. I don’t have to. I don’t have to convince myself that I love something in order to do it. I just have to convince myself that there are things that make it worth it. Like being healthier, feeling better, and of course, the promise of new workout wear.

You know, fun shoes DO make everything better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Do You Measure A Year?

Last year at this time, I was unemployed. Sort of.

Here’s what happened:

I went to work in the morning, as usual. I rolled up my sleeves, sat down at my computer, and got cracking.

At about 11ish, my boss – the owner of the company – notified all of the employees that we had a conference call. We all dialed in. He was a chatty fellow, and he liked to touch base with everyone now and again. No big thing, I thought, but I was annoyed because I had stuff to do, and didn’t have the time for a pow-wow.

There was no pow-wow. Instead, he told us that we were all fired, because ownership of the company was reverting back to the original owner (who I was hired by in 2007) and that the new/old owner would have to hire us back.

Then the line went dead.

As you can imagine, this was distressing.  (This is such an understatement, I can’t even begin to tell you.)

It was especially distressing because the new/old owner called everyone to hire them back EXCEPT for me. So my fellow employees kept asking me: Did he hire you back yet? Did you talk to him yet? And I kept having to say no, no he hadn’t.

I also kept trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong in my summation of the guy who’d fired me in the morning, who had essentially negated my ownership in his company (which I had) with nary a word or a heads up, but that is, perhaps, a story for another day.

Eventually I got the call.

And so it goes.

I did, of course, spend some time in the bitter barn regarding this whole issue. Sometimes, a girl needs to camp out in the bitter barn for a while, and get cozy with her rage. But eventually, gradually, it gets boring in there, and a little dusty. So you have to come out where the other people are, where there is laughing and dancing and the occasional sing along.

I wouldn’t even be mentioning it, probably, except my mom said to me “Didn't we all get fired a year ago?” and I had to say “Yes, we did.”  It all came flooding back – the panic, the sense of desperation, the fear of “Oh my God, what do I do now?”

I know now, of course, that as inevitable as those feelings are, it’s also true that you just keep going. When you’re scared? Keep going. When you’re desperate? Keep going. When you don’t know what to do next? Focus on what you’re doing right now. You’ll get where you’re supposed to be. Even though the journey can be sucktastic. You’ll get there.

It took me a year, but I learned it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Joke's on Me

Am I the only person who occasionally wants to tell the universe to Bite Me?

After another run in with the StormTroopers yesterday  (for those of you who are not my friend on Facebook – and why aren’t you? Send me a friend request, I’ll totally be your friend! – their air conditioner started leaking on Thursday, but they didn’t think it was a problem until SUNDAY, at which point they became aware it was a problem because it was leaking through my ceiling. We had words. I had to call the building manager and may have uttered the phrase “I am SO SICK OF THING ONE AND THING TWO UP THERE” while she snickered), I was thinking some mean thoughts in their direction. Thoughts like “How is it possible that they’re so STUPID? “ and “Who plays BRUNO MARS as loud as they can? WHO?!” and “WHY DON’T THEY JUST MOOOOOOVVEEE FOR THE LOVE OF PETE AND ALL OF HIS FRIENDS BECAUSE I HATE THEM”, the universe (or God, or the fates, or whatever you prefer to call it) keeps throwing them in my path.

I don’t want them in my path.

I want them to be rendered invisible and unhearable and definitely I want them to stop causing water to drip through my ceiling.

But there they are. In the laundry room. When I go to the mailbox. When I go out on my balcony. StormTroopers EVERYWHERE.

And they keep being friendly and kind of charming.

I’m a sucker for friendly and charming. But I will NOT be swayed. I don’t like them. They are messing with my nicely ordered existence.

Except that they kind of remind me of puppies. They seem so YOUNG. And goofy. And poorly trained and housebroken.

Puppies, though a total pain, are lovable.

The StormTroopers might also be kind of loveable. In a “I’m going to ruin all of your stuff, but it’s not on purpose, it’s because I don’t have a freaking clue” way.

I want to universe to leave me alone. I have a good thing going with my loathing of the StormTroopers. Why mess with it? Why can’t I just loathe them in peace? I ask the universe, but it just gives me a nudge. Nudge, nudge, in the direction of trying to be understanding. Nudge, nudge, in the direction of maybe being nicer.

Not enjoying the lesson doesn’t mean not learning the lesson. Even when it’s a lesson you REALLY don’t  think you need, or want.

Maybe especially then.

Friday, August 10, 2012

All You Need Is Love

I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of hours.

First, I wanted to say something about how people who are getting married often hope for the perfect day. Perfect, cloudless sky; perfect temperature (not too hot, not too cold); perfectly dry; perfectly beautiful perfect day. And then I was going to say something about how you hold all of the elements of a perfect day within you.  That it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing as long as you have joy and love in your heart – that would make ANY wedding day the perfect day, no matter what the weather is doing. Because a wedding isn’t about weather.  It’s about people, and love.

Then I was thinking about how much WORK weddings can be, and how they can be so exhausting and crazy that sometimes the happy couple is the stressed out couple and they forget to enjoy themselves, and how I wish that more people would remember that the big day is just that – ONE day. One day in a series of days that comprise a lifetime, and that the lifetime’s worth of days? That’s important. ONE day? A drop in the bucket. It doesn’t have to be perfect – nothing ever is – but because it’s about a couple, and their love? It’s bound to be fabulous in all of its imperfection.
Then, I wanted to say something about being proud to live in New Hampshire, where all people are allowed to get married. YAY! EVERYONE COME TO THE WEDDING PARTY, Y’ALL!

But I think that what I’ve been trying to say all along is that I want to offer best wishes and big, BIG hugs to my friends Stephanie and Jaime. Your wedding day is magical because you are, you crazy kids.

Love. It really is all you need.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


“Hey, daaahlin,” someone said.

This was unusual. I looked around from my perch on my balcony, where I was drinking coffee and contemplating the eight gazillion things I had to do. Then I heard it again.

“Hey, daaahlin!”

I looked down. There was a man in a truck. He was looking at and talking to me. This was weird. My apartment complex has a code that is something like the first rule of Fight Club, and that rule is this: You don’t speak with someone who is out on her balcony. The second rule? You DO NOT SPEAK with someone who is out on her balcony.

Truck guy didn’t know the rules.

“Um, yeah?” I said, thinking that in addition to not knowing the rules, Truck Guy also apparently didn’t realize that no one ever calls me “darling” – except, of course, that he wasn’t calling me darling exactly, what with his significant Maine accent. He was calling me “daaaahlin.” Like when my nana called me “deah” and which I also would prefer not to be called by a strange man in a truck.

“Is this yoah caah?”

He gestured to one of the vehicles belonging to the Stormtroopers. “No sir,” I said. “I park away from the building.” Because of the asshat who owns that piece of crap, I added silently.

“Weah going to work on the roof today, and weah gonna be tossin stuff off for a bit. Don’t want yoah caah to get messed up.”

“No worries!” I said.

Four hours later I was, in fact, a little worried. Because “Tossing stuff off for a bit” didn’t exactly describe what the roofers were doing. It was more like, ripping off the entire roof and sending it flying past my windows. My balcony where I had previously enjoyed my coffee was hip deep in debris.  My cat, who initially thought the “stuff zooming through the air” game was fun became scared and was hiding in the bathroom.

The whole thing seemed a little excessive.

Adding to the fun of the noise and falling … roof stuff … was Truck Guy, who was apparently the foreman of the project. He spent his time on the ground, yelling up at the guys on the roof.

“Baaaawbaaaay!” pause. “Baaaaawbaaaay! Did I not TELL you to fill the coolah with watah?”

“Miiiiiikaaaaaay!... MIKAAAAAAAY! Watch weah youah droppin that stuff! These balconies are full o’craaaaap!”

All day.

I wanted not to mock him. But I couldn’t help it. I went into where the cat was hiding in the tub.

“Beaaaaaansaaaaay!” I said, softly. “Beaaaaansaaaaay! Didn’t I tell you that the roofah guys weah gonna drive us nuts? Didn’t I?”

She gave me a dirty look and turned to face the corner.

“Sorry,” I said.

I closed the windows and drew the blinds, trying to escape from the noise and chaos. Beansie stayed in the bathroom until the noise finally stopped.

I peeked outside. There was a giant yellow panel truck parked directly in front of my balcony, which had somehow been cleared of debris. It reflected the sunlight. I felt radioactive but I could now sit in my chairs, open the door, get some air. It was quiet.

Then I heard it.

“Heeeeeey, Daaaaahlin!”

Oh well, at least I got a new roof.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hopkins B. Frogington

When I turned one, my Aunt Judy gave me a stuffed frog for my birthday. Or Christmas. Since those two events are only two days apart, it hardly matters. The important part is the frog. Aunt Judy and my mom both love frogs, and I think Aunt Judy saw this guy in a store and thought, “OOOOHHHH, Danielle needs to have him.”

Little did she know what she was doing.

Hopkins B Frogington*… also known as Hoppy – became my constant companion. I went NOWHERE without him. And when I say nowhere, I mean … NOWHERE. Not even the bathroom. (Which is how he came to take an unexpected dip in the toilet once, and then had an adventure in the washing machine. We don’t talk about that much. It’s too traumatizing.)

It’s likely that most people outgrow their childhood buddies of the stuffed variety. That would be normal.

I have never pretended to be normal.

I am one of those people who likes to nest. I unpack my suitcase in hotel rooms. I personalize spaces. So when I travel, Hoppy comes too, because I can’t rest my head anywhere he isn’t. As a result, he’s very well traveled. When I was a kid, he went to camp, and to Virginia, DC, Florida, Ohio, New York City and everywhere in between.

Then he went to college.

To be honest, by the time we were old enough to go to college, he looked a little … sad. He used to be a plush toy. As in, fluffy. At 18, he was suffering from mild baldness.

But still handsome, I thought.

He went to college. And then he went to grad school. And then he lived in Boston, and Portland, Maine, and North Berwick again. We did some more travelling – Rhode Island and Seattle and San Francisco. I had to travel with co-workers, and room with co-workers, and I had a moment of “I’m a professional woman in my 20s and I’m going to pull a mangy stuffed frog out of my suitcase?”

And then I thought, HELLS YES, I’m going to.

So I did.

I moved in with my future ex-husband. So did Hoppy. The future ex-husband, who was used to Hoppy’s presence, said, “Does he need to sleep with us?”

“Can he sit on an end table?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Okay, then.”

He went to England with me. Thank goodness he did, too, because I had the worst case of food poisoning EVER while I was there and needed something to help me to feel like I would make it through.

That’s been his job. He’s a reminder that some things in life are constant. Oh sure, we’re both a little worse for the wear – who isn’t? – but we make it through, and we are loved.

I married future ex-husband. We went on our honeymoon.

Guess who came with?
Who doesn't enjoy a tropical beverage?

He moved out of the future ex-husband's house with me. He moved to North Carolina with me. I will admit that, shamefully, I had a moment of abject depression when I was packing for North Carolina when I thought about tossing him. Nothing is permanent, I thought. No one loves anything forever. I walked to the dumpster and then -- couldn't do it . I had a little meltdown that probably looked VERY weird to anyone who happened to be passing by – a grown woman, clutching a stuffed frog that has DEFINITELY seen better days and sobbing. Oh well.

We both went back up to the apartment.

I would never have forgiven myself.
As I type, Hoppy sits on my bed. I like to imagine that when I'm not around he and Bert the Farting Hippo, and Wally Monster and the Transformers in my office have fun, like in Toy Story. Only Hoppy gets to be the ringleader and the mastermind. After all, he's 35 years old.
He doesn't look his best, I guess. Neither do I. He's LITERALLY a little tattered and torn. He's been sewn back together and he's worn out in spots. Me too. But we're both still here, and that's the most important thing.
We're both still here.
And the adventures continue.

*His name was only Hoppy for a long time. Then I decided that a distinguished elder statesman such as himself probably had a longer name with more gravitas. If you're wondering what the B stands for? Forget it. He won't tell.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Lucky One

Sometimes, it just hits me.

I look around my apartment and I want to hug it.

I think about who I used to be, and how I let myself get boxed into a very tiny little life, and how painful it was to suddenly be released from that box when I didn’t know how to be myself anymore.

And I want to sing and dance around a little, so I do.

Whenever I want to.

Or I simply sit and listen to the wind chimes I hung outside and think, “I am so lucky.”

I am lucky.

Five years ago, if you had told me I was lucky, I probably would have wanted to punch you. I didn’t know I was lucky then, you see. I was tentative, hesitant. Like a zoo animal that had been released from captivity, I was afraid. You get used to the bars, and when they’re gone? You don’t quite know what to do. At least, I didn’t. So many choices. So many OPTIONS. I didn’t want them. I would have happily retreated back into the cage I was used to calling home.

That would have been a mistake.

I know that now.

That makes me lucky.

The fact that I am surrounded by things I love, by people I love?

That makes me lucky too.

It also hits me that there are a lot of people who are not lucky. You might know one, though it’s highly possible that you don’t know it.  Someone who is being boxed in.  Someone who isn’t allowed to dance and sing in her joy.

You can help her.

I know, because people helped me. They listened to the things I did say and the things I didn’t. They were there. They didn’t preach to me, they didn’t yell at me, they didn’t snap their fingers in front of my face or demand. They just let me know they were there for me and waited me out, and when I was ready? They helped me pack. They held my hand. They let me cry and made me laugh and reminded me that I hadn’t forgotten how to sing and dance with happiness.

Like I said, I’m lucky.

We should all be so lucky.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stink, Stank, Stunk

My house is near the woods. As in, parking lot, building, small grassy knoll, woods, river. This arrangement makes me happy – I am happiest when I’m near the water, and I grew up in a house in Maine that had a big chunk of woods behind it.

I like being near trees. What can I say?

Living near the woods is great. There are trails out there, it’s pretty, it’s calming,  and it generally smells great. All leafy and green and river-y.

Except, of course, when it doesn’t.

Like the other night, when a foul stench woke me out of a sound sleep.

“Whazzit?” I said, jerking awake. The cat was perched next to my head, as usual, and she was looking around as though she was trying to figure out what was going on. This is kind of her default, but at this moment I was pretty sure she had a point.

My house – my entire house, because the windows were open – REEKED.


You may not be aware of this, so please let me tell you: there were no skunks in North Carolina. NONE.  In New England, skunks are spotted regularly on the side of the road, stinking up the air. I used to see them in the woods. In fields. Hanging out under decks and sheds, waiting to spray the unsuspecting passerby. Here’s how many skunks I saw in North Carolina, alive or otherwise:


I’m telling you. North Carolina is skunk free.

It’s weird.

It’s also why it took me some time to identify the stank that was currently gagging me. If you’ve ever had the dubious pleasure of being sprayed by a skunk, or having a pet that was sprayed by one, you know that skunk … whatever it is … is not just an odor. It’s a TEXTURE. It’s like having a warm towel of stinky funk wrapped around your person.

Or, in this case, my person, my furniture, my curtains, my EVERYTHING.

I got up, but didn’t know what to do. I tried breathing through my mouth, but quickly remembered why that is a bad idea when it comes to Skunk – it doesn’t taste good. AND YOU CAN DEFINITELY TASTE IT.

I didn’t – and for that matter, still don’t – know if someone had struck a skunk with a car, if a skunk had sprayed an animal close by the building? I don’t know what happened. But I knew my house REEKED.

I closed the window.

I closed the other windows.

Now the skunk smell was trapped in the house.

Not ideal, but at least it wouldn’t get stronger, I thought.

The cat sniffed the air and then made a face. “mEEEWWW,” she said.

“I KNOW,” I said. And then realized that I realllllly need to stop talking to my cat.

I turned on the air conditioner. I febreezed. Then I laid back down because it was 2 am and I was tired.

The stinkiness remained.

I tossed and turned with it for a while. I tried burying my face in my pillow. I thought about putting blankets down right next to the cupcake air freshener and trying to sleep there.

A tip: Cupcake tinged skunk funk will put you off cupcakes for a good long while.

Finally, I fell asleep.

When I awoke, the stench was gone. I opened the windows, fully expecting a blast of odor. Nothing. Apparently, the skunk had toddled off and taken his noxious fumes with him.

The air smelled sweet, like growing things and water.

My cat jumped up into the window, sniffed. “Mrrrooowww,” she said, approvingly.

“Right?” I said in agreement, and breathed in the fresh morning air.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fast Food, Fundamentalism, and Free Speech

I’m relatively certain that anyone who reads this blog has been waiting for me to say something about Chik-Fil-A.

So here it is: first, I have a hard time patronizing any business that can’t freaking SPELL. (True story: I once refused to have my hair done at a very nice salon because there was a typo on their signage. I can’t HELP it, y’all.) So for that reason alone, delicious waffle fries aside, I had a hard time giving them my hard earned cash money.

Second: I don’t support bigotry.

There are many people – including people in my own family – who argue passionately that Mr Chik-Fil-A is allowed to say and believe what he wants, which I agree with WHOLEHEARTEDLY. This is America, people. You get to say and believe whatever you like. YAY!

You also get to bear the responsibility for what you say and believe.

However. I’m going to say it again: THIS IS AMERICA. Where we, in theory at least, should believe in equal rights. Our track record on “all people deserve the same bunch of rights” is, well, not so great, but we have made progress in the areas of gender and race and religion.

Many Americans get stuck on the issue of sexuality for religious reasons. And to that I call bullshit. Show me someone who says they follow all of the rules of their religion and I’ll show you a liar. The pastor at my church used to take bottles purchased in New Hampshire and redeem them in Maine – a practice which, last I checked, wasn’t entirely legal – and I’m pretty sure that “not breaking the law” is against his religion. I know lots of pious Christians with craptastic driving records. I know many a divorced Christian. I know Christians who gamble, Christians who drink, Christians who curse like sailors and who have affairs and who steal and who do any number of things because it’s what people do.

Here’s what I learned in my fundamentalist church, growing up: all sins are equal. If you’re mean to your sister, that’s the same as stabbing someone. Which, perhaps, is crazy, but since many people who oppose equal rights for the LGBTQ community are fundamentalists, let’s roll with that. Here’s the other thing they stressed: We’re all sinners. Every last one of us. Basically, to be a fundamentalist is to say that you’re a sucky human being and you’re going to keep right on sinning but God loves you anyway, and that your sins are the same as everyone else’s. They’re all equal.

Of course, my friends the fundies don’t necessarily attach that bit of wisdom to gay rights. Because apparently, they’re mostly willing to overlook the sins of themselves and their churchgoing friends, but not those of people they deem “other”.

To be honest, the issue for me has never been “gay marriage” but the fact that, as a nation, we continue to allow discrimination against a specific group of people based on who they’re sleeping with. Not only is this not awesome? It’s kind of dumb. What someone does in their bedroom (or wherever, I’m not judging) with another consenting adult is no one’s damn business. It hurts NO ONE. Two guys making out on a street corner is no more appalling than seeing a man and a woman make out on a street corner – either way, I’m going to yell “Get a ROOM!”

So by acknowledging that he doesn’t support gay rights, and that he gives money to groups that work to deny equal rights to gay people, Dan Cathy has outed himself as a bigot.

And as I said, I don’t knowingly support bigotry. Think of it this way: if he had come out and acknowledged that he gave money to groups trying to prevent people of colour from having equal rights, it would be denounced as horrific, archaic, unacceptable – because it would be.

It is unacceptable to work towards preventing civil rights for anyone in America, whether you agree with their lifestyle or not.

That’s the problem with Chik-Fil-A. That’s the issue.

I wish I could make more people understand.