Don’t eat a banana around me unless the radio is on.

Working from home seems nice, doesn’t it?
Carol Channing seemed nice, too.

Peek into my world:
I don’t have a full-length mirror, so this is how I try on clothes.

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Every morning:
Get out of bed and shower.
Get dressed and look up all local pets who are currently missing, because if I see Melia, Lucy, or Olivia wandering around, I want to greet them by name.

Every night:
Wash face and put on pajamas.
Crawl into bed and arrange my legs into a diamond so the cats have a warm leg bed.
Look up all local pets who are currently missing. Think about how cold it is outside. Clench jaw. Tighter. Play Candy Crush until I fall asleep with my glasses on.

Unrelated, but sort of related:
My doctor (whom I adore) ((WHOM!!!)) switched up my medications this morning because I’ve been feeling challenged. Without giving you the actual details, let me just say this: If, in two weeks, you find me sitting in the corner chewing on frozen biscuits and listening to some bullshit Celine Dion sludge, please know that I need help. If, in two weeks, you find me sitting in the corner planning an adventure and listening to this, the proper switches have been flipped.

I bought this cleaning cloth last week when Jeff and I saw Ben Folds playing with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. (It was one dollar!) I’ve seen him (Ben Folds, but also Jeff) more than I’ve seen anyone, and his shows never get old. (Related: Photos of Jeff from 2003 look just like photos of Jeff from 2019. Like Ben Folds’s shows, Jeff never gets old. Dorian Gray.)

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I’ll come back in a few days to talk about knitting. Why? Because I’ve been knitting.

Buh-Buh-Buh-Buh-Buh-Bad. Bad to the (Ham)Bone!

Back in 2016 I told myself I would no longer tear apart one of the presidential candidates in order to promote the other. I’m going to try (my damndest) to do that again this year, but it might be difficult.

Similarly, I’m going to try (my damndest) to not dehumanize any of the candidates, but it’s important to note that personification is not the same as dehumanization.

Here’s an example. I recently finished reading Quichotte by Salman Rushdie. One of the quotes I enjoyed from the book is:

Our president looks like a Christmas ham and talks like Chucky.
We’re America, bitch. 

(Now, before you get all tied up in knots, please know that the book is a work of FICTION. 100% fiction, probably. Back to the example!)

It’s too easy to say our (hypothetical) president looks like a Christmas ham.

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However, it smells like delicious magical realism to say a Christmas ham looks like our (hypothetical) president.

I’m trying to be a better person during this election cycle. I would say I’m trying to be more like Jesus, but then I might be accused of using my faith as justification for doing what I know is wrong.
(All presidents in this entry are fictional, and any resemblance to presidents living or dead is purely coincidental.)

I’m not even going to mention Mitt Romney. (Except I just did.)

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Scout had a tumor removed from her left ear today. Last night we sat and told her what she could expect with surgery and recovery. She listened, but she refused to let our medical explanations bring her down. “Cauterization, schmauterization!” she laughed, before diving headfirst into a bowl of cheesy scrambled eggs. (It’s her favorite meal.) The surgery went well, we picked her up after the anesthesia wore off, and as I type this paragraph, she is sitting in the corner strung out on opiates and nerve blocks.

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Speaking of being strung out, I’m in the midst of a medication change. The first step? Cut my current meds in half. I’ve done the half dose thing for a week now, and I feel like I have cobwebs wrapped around my brain, so it seems like art therapy is a good idea, thus I’ve been drawing and painting. This habit may stick.

Also, I’m not a fan of doing the whole selfie thing, and when I post photos of myself on Instagram, I usually cut off my face because it’s my face. Ah, but earlier this week I discovered that I can use filters to make my selfies look magical, so maybe I’m a selfie person after all. The word selfie appears four times in this paragraph, and that’s probably three or four times too many.

Here I am as a baby!
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One more thing. I bought Kusama socks and then used photo editing stuff to throw my leg (and socks) into a Kusama room, and this is exactly how I want my life to be.
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Are free jeans ever really free?

About a week after Christmas, American Eagle sent an e-mail that said something like, “You just scored a free pair of jeans.” I immediately deleted the e-mail, because that’s what I do to crap liar messages. Early last week I received another e-mail from them that grabbed me by the shoulders and yelled, “Hey! Your free jeans thing is about to expire!”

I decided to call their bluff.

I went over to the website and spent around four minutes browsing through the jeans. I decided to go with the 90s Boyfriend Jeans, because I’m a bit of a dope for the music I listened to in the 90s and the clothes I wore in the 90s and a lot of the experiences I had in the 90s. I then decided to NOT go with the size I currently wear, but the size I WANT to wear. (We all have our problems, don’t we?) I put the jeans in my cart, and I was surprised to NOT receive any sort of pop-up saying “Nice work! You’re only $250 away from your free jeans!”

Over to the check-out info. I signed in and entered my address and flipped it over to the payment info where I kept waiting for the ball to drop, but it didn’t drop. This paragraph is boring, the jeans were free, and the shipping cost was $0.01.

Three days later the free jeans arrived. They did not fit, which is exactly what I expected. When I tried them on and buttoned the BUTTON FLY, my spaghetti octopus of intestines had nowhere to go, so it sucked itself INTO itself (imagine that!) and suddenly my rectum popped out of my left ear.

A few days later, I tried the jeans on right after I got out of bed (when my intestines are the least convoluted), and that’s when I took this photo.

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My goal is to wear the jeans comfortably (with my rectum right where it needs to be) on my 50th birthday. I have 104 days to get my shit together. Figuratively. (Also, maybe literally.)

I’m not sure I’ve ever been beyond furious.

This felt good: Yesterday I took my e-mail inbox from 2,658 messages down to 6 messages. I’m no longer sitting on alerts that say things like “The teabags you ordered in February of 2018 have shipped.”

Meredith has been working a mall job and it’s fun to see how she chooses to spend her money. (She recently purchased pants with faces on them!)
Meredith: Mom, do you care if I buy a tank top that says “Don’t do coke in the bathroom”?
Me: I guess that’s fine?
(She had no intention of buying the tank top. She just wanted to gauge and file my response for the future.)

School was called off today because of ice. The minute the cancellation was announced, many parents felt the need to jump over to the school’s Facebook page to get all angry-faced because, in their opinion, school should NOT have been cancelled. One woman typed that she is “beyond furious” that school is cancelled. BEYOND FURIOUS!!! I can’t even REMEMBER the last time I was beyond furious!

If you were given only 100 whines/complaints to use after age 18, would a school cancellation be worthy? What if we were all forced (by the government, obviously) to balance every whine/complaint with a positive thought? “I would like to complain about the media’s seemingly nonstop coverage of the royal family. With that said, they are all very pretty and/or handsome, aren’t they?”

I was texting with my sister last week, and the autofill feature on my phone was trying to make me choose between Jesus and balls when I wanted to say “sweet veggie-loving hogs”. (I was beyond furious, obviously.)

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Choking and Knitting. Monday!

I received the Slingshot 2020 Organizer for Christmas, and this morning it told me that today is the 18th anniversary of George W. Bush choking on a pretzel while watching football. I may not have voted for him, I may not have supported everything he did as president, but you know what? There are only four (or maybe five) people who I would like to see choke on a pretzel, and George W. Bush is definitely not one of them. (Disclaimer: I think you know me well enough to know that I really don’t want anyone to choke on a pretzel.)

1. I’ll never forget the evening my grandpa choked on ham and beans after I made a stupid joke about the beans being “sooie beans” and I remember my mom was drinking Faygo soda and we had to take Grandpa to the hospital. (He choked pretty often. It was just a Grandpa thing.)

2. I’ll never forget seeing my dad choke on his lunch two days after his bypass surgery. (Never is a big word. Dad choked only two months ago, and I haven’t yet forgotten.) I Flo-Jo’ed out of his room to the nurse station and by the time the nurse came in, everything was back to normal except for my anxiety levels.

3. I really didn’t intend to fill this post with choking stories. How about a song instead? (It’s just so catchy.)

The weekend was a decent one. We saw Little Women on Saturday, and the costumes made me giddy. In fact, my latest dream is to have a red cape just like this and a black hat just like this. (I can make the mittens when/if the pattern becomes available. Maybe.)

I also fell in love with a shawl that Beth wore, and once again: Knitters, man. (The shawl pattern is here.)

Cardigans are no substitute for eyelids.

When the back yard is flooding and the dogs are snoring and I’m just sort of “Blergh January Pbbbft”, the best way to proceed is to join Weight Watchers (again, damnit, just live and let live, my truth is different from your truth, et cetera), drink some hot tea (with rock sugar and honey), and start knitting a cardigan.

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I didn’t do a gauge swatch. I have no idea if this thing is going to be way too big or way too small. All I know is she will eventually look something like this and I have extremely high hopes for her. I’m going to take her out for coffee, and then I’ll take her to vote, and maybe we’ll see some movies or write some stories or something.

This is gross, but eczema is eating up my eyelids. In fact, in about three or four days I suspect I will maybe no longer have eyelids. I’ll then walk around town in an unchallenged and never-ending staring match—armed with a spray bottle of water to prevent my exposed eyeballs from turning into raisins. If you see me, just pretend nothing weird is going on. Deep down we both know that neither of us wants to talk about it.

I’ll keep you updated on the cardigan, because that’s what one tends to do when one is falling in love. The only difference is that my love interest is a rusty Throwback sweater and not some scuzz who has a defenseless eyeball fetish.

Let’s get the book recommendations out of the way.

I thought about putting together a list of my top ten favorite books from the past decade, but it’s one of those things where I want to invite Jhumpa to the party but then I can’t NOT invite Roxane or Mira. Elif, Erin, Nathan, and Amy absolutely have to be there. Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz. Olja Savicevic.

Ah, but then it occurred to me that no one is depending on me for a list of books. The pressure? It is off.

Fiction. I loved many, but especially these:
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
3. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
4. The Nix by Nathan Hill
5. Adios, Cowboy by Olja Savicevic
6. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
7. Amp’d by Ken Pisani
8. 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Here is a photo to break up this post a bit. Meredith ordered a few piercing kits and I know it’s super dangerous and terribly dirty and probably immoral, but I sat on the toilet and let her pierce my ear (after she pierced her own, obviously). Fun Fact: It’s not the first time I’ve sat on a toilet to let someone pierce my ear.)
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Memoirs always spark me.
1. Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (AKR inspires me every single day.)
2. Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
3. Hunger by Roxane Gay
4. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri (When I finished the book, I could sort of read Italian, and I’m not kidding.)
5. Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz (I recommend the audiobook. Crazy good.)
6. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
7. Calypso by David Sedaris

This woman was on Jeopardy a few weeks ago, and I just KNEW she knit her shawl, so I did a little research, and I now have the pattern. Knitters, man.
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I really should read more non-fiction.
1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
2. How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

Tell me some of your favorite books from the last year or decade or whatever. Or don’t. 2020 is not the year where I tell you what to do.

Grandma had tiny chocolate bottles of liquor.

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I went to the post office yesterday and it won’t surprise you to hear that (on December 19th, less than a week before Christmas) the place was crowded beyond my comfort level. I started feeling a little anxious and I was having trouble focusing and I was thinking about leaving and that’s when the nun walked in.

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She was super young and decked out in nun gear and she told me she needed international stamps and was wondering if they had them because she didn’t want to stand in the line if they were out. (She had already been to one post office that was out of international stamps.)

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She is originally from Memphis and went to college in Rhode Island and is fairly new to this area. She got turned around on her way to the post office and she had a book waiting at a library branch on the other side of town and she was worried about the time because she had to be back at the convent in less than an hour to eat dinner before a concert. (I say convent like I know. I don’t know.)

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I assured her that she would be fine and I told her the name of a fast back road she could take from the library back to the convent and I almost let her get in front of me in line, but there was a woman between us so I figured it wasn’t cool. (Right now I’m kicking myself for not offering to switch places in line with her. Damnit! Why didn’t I think of that?!)

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After I made it to the front of the line and mailed my package, she said goodbye to me and I wished her good luck and you might think I’m a goof, but I sort of believe she was sent to my post office to help me get through that line without having to pull my jacket over my face and practice alternate nostril breathing.

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This year has been a weird one for me. I’ve avoided involvement with band parent stuff and friend stuff and I’ve spent a lot of time alone on the couch. I can blame anxiety, but my anxiety is part of me just like the scar on my left arm and the extra weight I’m carrying around. It shouldn’t have to take the blame. Anyway, I appreciate the folks who have stuck with me, because some people haven’t and although it’s easy to sit here on the couch stressing out and feeling sorry for myself because I’ve been left off of several invitation lists, I think the better plan is to do something lame like setting a resolution for 2020. Something like: Be more engaged in 2020 by being a better friend and a better family member and just sort of a better person. (I do believe I’m quite a bit more good than bad. Sometimes at the grocery store I won’t buy something if there is only one left on the shelf because I’m afraid someone might come along who needs that thing more than I do. But still.)

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Anyway. I don’t think I’m sending Christmas cards this year and I’m not done with shopping and our tree isn’t really decorated the way it should be and the house is a huge mess, but none of those things make the world a worse place, so it’s okay. 2020: Clean more, eat less. Create more, sleep less. Connect more, freak out less. Help out and don’t be shitty.

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People see what they wish to see. I see sad people in overalls.

I drove my mom and dad to a follow-up appointment with the surgeon last week, and as I walked from the parking garage to the office to meet them, I thought about how the ratio of happy to worried people in the hospital is probably something like 3:17. I quickly decided to be a spirit raiser during the remainder of the (approximately) four minute walk.

Me (to everyone): Good morning!
Almost Everyone (to me): Good morning.

As I walked through the passageway between the main hospital and the heart hospital, I noticed a VERY stressed out/sad woman walking toward me. In my head, I wrote her story—This lady’s husband is maybe a patient here and maybe he is having emergency heart surgery RIGHT NOW and she is maybe heading to the cafeteria for coffee before settling in for the four hour wait…

Clearly, this lady needed more than just a good morning, because it’s most definitely NOT a good morning for her. Should I ask if she’s okay? Should I offer to walk with her to the cafeteria? (See how that story I made up in my head is slowly coming true in my head?)

Me: I love your overalls!!!

Her face went from sadness to confusion as we locked eyes. She passed by me and continued to walk.

She was not wearing overalls. I have no idea why I said it. (In the numbered bag of things I think about, overalls are probably somewhere in the 580s—nowhere near my frontal lobe.) I’m telling myself it’s fine because replacing her sadness with confusion even for five seconds is something.

I’ve been knitting red birds.

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