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.


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.)

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.

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.


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.


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.)


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.)


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?!)


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.


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.)


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.


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.


Don’t go breaking my heart. (I couldn’t if I tried.)

(Let me get this out of the way: When I was poking hot needles through the hands of plastic babies last week, it was because Meredith needed plastic baby earrings for her Halloween costume. “If I’m going to inhale the toxic fumes that are produced when one sticks a hot needle through the hand of a plastic baby,” I whispered, “you will wear those plastic babies for more than just one day!” She wears them often, and I haven’t yet coughed up any melted baby residue. You pierce plastic babies and what do you get? Another year older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.)

The last time we were here, I mentioned that my dad was going to be a patient in a hospital. He had a quintuple bypass eight days ago. (Quintuple! Three arteries were 100% blocked and two arteries were 90% blocked. Over time, his heart created new pathways for blood to flow, but those new pathways weren’t completely effective.) The surgery went exactly as planned (Earlier today I watched a bypass surgery from start to finish on YouTube. Magic.), and Dad went home three days ago where he is recovering away from the constant beeps and dings and pokes that are always part of a hospital stay. His surgeon was a tiny-handed Dansko-wearing gem who didn’t roll her eyes at all when I asked her to explain how a vein is removed from a leg and attached to a heart, so I think I might be knitting a cowl for her.


Insert a bunch of crap sentences about stress and anxiety and gaining weight (again!) and not having a healthy relationship with food and something about screwed up body image issues and the only jeans that fit well are the ones that are full of holes, so I’m once again stepping back into the 90s and wearing waffle long underwear (as well as regular underwear, obviously) under my pants. Blown to hell…crash! I’m the last splash!


I’ve always thought that I look a little like Jeff Goldblum. This is better.


One year from today we’ll wake up knowing who our next president is.

I drove Harper to school this morning and as I listened to Quichotte on the way home, an Italian cricket started talking to the imaginary black-and-white boy who is now able to stay awake when the man who imagines him is asleep—and it was just so wonderful. When I pulled into the garage and searched for the blue peanut M&M that Harper had dropped (she’s 14 and can choose her own breakfast food), I decided I would visit Fluid Pudding today. (I didn’t yet find the M&M, and the key word in this sentence is YET.)

It has been a while, hasn’t it? Here’s a gigantic photo of my nose taken to show you that I added another hole to it.

I told myself I’m entirely too old for a double-pierced nose, but then I told myself that California is on fire. And then I thought about the Kurdish student who talked to our political science class back in 1991 and I bet his family has better things to worry about than noses. Just remember: Nobody cares about your nose.

I tried to do Inktober during October, but then I accepted the fact that I can be lazy with commitments.





After graduating from college, I worked as a unit secretary in a surgical intensive care ward. When patients returned to the ICU from heart surgery, I was the one who ordered chest x-rays and EKGs and post-op meds. I knew that Dr. C’s patients required much less aftercare than Dr. S’s patients. I was working when the on-call anesthesiologist showed up drunk in the middle of the night as a patient was being prepped for emergency surgery. (Fun side notes: An orderly who also volunteered for the eye bank once asked me on a date to join him as he harvested eyeballs. I declined. I sometimes wore a stethoscope.)

Anyway, tomorrow my dad is going to be a patient and I’m going to be bringing annoying nervous energy to the waiting room for at least four hours. (I wouldn’t choose my nervous self as a friend. I don’t like her very much.) Dad’s surgeon is very good and the hospital is very good and isn’t it so strange how things can feel far away and close up at the same time?


Last weekend I spent some time heating up needles and poking them through the hands of tiny plastic babies. We have 180 tiny plastic babies in the house and each and every one of them is delightful, as tiny plastic babies often are.



She may be a Lucy, but is probably a Bertie.

When my phone shoots this at me, it makes me crazy happy.



I participated in a gnome knit-along last month and now I’m an old lady who knits gnomes. Because gnomes are my latest flapdoodling flumadiddle, I spent some time doing a little research. (If one says they are into something, one must be prepared to have a conversation about that thing. To not be prepared is to be ridiculous.)

Four Fun Facts About Gnomes:
1. They’re vegetarians, and they love potatoes.
2. They can run 35 miles per hour and are seven times stronger than the average human.
3. Garden gnomes like to tell sad stories.
4. Siberian gnomes have sex with trolls and are big on revenge.

My gnome doesn’t yet have a gname (HA HA HA HA HA!), but when a name comes to her it will reflect the fact that she’s got tickets to the Fishbone show. She just might have sex with a troll, but it will be on her own terms and whatever, man. Dave Eggers mentions her in his latest novel, and that’s cool but it doesn’t make her like him any more. She’ll see you this weekend at the Lebanese nacho dump.


Her friends are strongly recommending that she get a restraining order against this guy.


What they don’t know is that she can make two phone calls and have him dead by morning.

Ennui didn’t start the fire.

I’ve been going through a thing lately, and I’m trying to not use words I typically rely on (also known as words on which I typically rely), so I will NOT describe it as a funk. Here: I’m napping in a tub filled with cold and slimy doldrums, and it’s a deep tub and I’m avoiding things I typically love and this needs to stop.


Please join me on a doldrum-beating adventure. It begins now. (You’re already here. You may as well stay.)

Here we have sourdough toast with goat cheese, cucumber slices, and honey. I ate it a few weeks back at Upshot, and it fit my mood perfectly. Toast that fits your mood. Not many people can say they’ve had perfect mood-matching toast.

I’m currently dressed like a goldfish cracker. Proof:

A friend saw these socks and thought of me, and a sock compliment feels just as good as perfect mood-matching toast.

Six months ago, my migraine doctor told me to lose ten pounds, get back to yoga, and start practicing mindfulness. I have done none of those things. NONE OF THEM. A few months ago, I decided to reward myself with overalls when the ten pounds were gone, and then a few weeks ago I found a pair I loved: So I ordered them anyway! They’re slightly too small, so that whole ten pounds thing is definitely still a thing. BUT I love these overalls as much as anyone can love a pair of jeans from Gap with a flap and straps. (And poetry.)

I went to an outdoor market with a friend yesterday, and we came across a number (that number might be five or six) of perfect spots for gathering with enjoyable people. I have so many imaginary plans for this very spot, and one of them includes a kerosene lamp and bread pudding:

Finally, it’s my favorite time of year. Despite the fact that the temperatures are still hitting 90° and I’m not sure we’ll ever have another proper cardigan season, we do have these:

Update: I’m still marching to the beat of my own doldrums. (Such clever wordplay!) I’ll keep working on it. Thai food for lunch and gnome knit-alongs and Fiona Apple on my Chill Mix… Gah.

I wear my satins like a lady, Strutter.

The last time I visited with you, I said something about updating the site every day in September. It didn’t happen, and my excuse is a good one. You see, I’ve been contending with some peculiar feelings since September 1, and it’s because of this:


My very first album was Kiss Alive! and if I remember correctly, it was given to me for Christmas in 1975. Last week, on the morning of September 1, I pulled up the album and my 5-year-old brain (now 44 years old) remembered the lyrics AND the song order. (My brain is messed up in so many ways, but it has held on to the fact that “She” comes after “Parasite”. I’m so intrigued with the things that are gone and the things that remain.)


I remember having such a crush on Peter Criss when I watched Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park with my sister when I was eight years old. (That’s me on the left with the cardigan and turtleneck. My mom made the pants I was wearing.)


I went to my very first KISS concert last week and Paul Stanley is now 67 and Gene Simmons is 70, and when Gene Simmons did the “God of Thunder” bloody mouth thing in the 70s, it was spooky because of Satan. Now it’s spooky because it smells like it could be a pulmonary embolism.


Also, just so you know, Paul Stanley still sucks on his finger. I didn’t know how to react to it in the 70s, and I don’t know how to react to it now.


So, I’ve become a little obsessed with KISS. Did you know that Paul Stanley was born without an ear? Did you know that his speaking voice sounds like this?

There are so many other things we could be talking about right now. I’m in the midst of a gnome knit-along. I’ve been on an eyebrow adventure. I’ve been knitting and watching Downton Abbey and I bought some overalls and I removed a birthmark from my leg using only a pair of scissors! (It’s not healing very well, so I may save that story until I’ve led it toward a happy ending.)

But also, this is happening.


Thank you, Krystofer.