Since moving far, far away from a Starbucks that was so close I could pretty much reach it with a ginormous straw from the balcony of my lair, I have been tirelessly conducting important research in the field of grocery-store coffees. For you. From which I have concluded as follows:
1.) Grinders are worth it. You know I am right. Because nothing says “fancy living” like inconvenience.
3.) Starbucks Brand Beans/Ground = LOL. NOT THE SAME.
4.) Dunkin Donuts Brand. Tastes Like Bojangles’ coffee, from which all should rightly flee. Unless you were born in the Great Depression, in which case, that shit is like liquid gold. Miss you every single day, Memaw. ❤
5.) McDonald’s Brand = PrEying Mantis Piss.
6.) Taster’s Choice Instant “Coffee.” Yeah. Why not? When every moment counts because the Zombies are coming and/or the power is out and/or you’re too worn out from death-battling the citizenry for the last gallon of milk and/or loaf of bread to wait. Taster’s Choice is what you get for not getting the fuck off the grid while you had the chance.
7.) Maxwell House. AKA “Roundup in a Cup.” Mmmmmm, Monsanto! Your future children will be sterile. Or you will be. All part of their plan.
8.) Folgers “Black Silk.” When you like your coffee like you like your Presidential Elect’s heart. No amount of cream and sugar shall temper this injustice.
9.) Chock Full O’ Nuts. What does that even mean?! Nope.
10.) ANY brand “Cocoa Roast.” Tastes like a cup of lies. Will never make anything close to a Venti Mocha. Never.
11.) Food Lion Brand “Morning Blend.” A happy surprise. Presumably due to the .125 percent ground-up lion.
12.) By which I mean #1. Seattle’s Best. Enjoy A Cup Of Smooth-Roasted Seattle’s Best Coffee® At Home. Upgrade Your Day. I paid the iron price for the previous two sentences. And the following:
Seattle’s Best Coffee LLC is an American coffee retailer and wholesaler based in Seattle, Washington. Since 2003, they have been a subsidiary of American coffeehouse chain Starbucks.
Seattle’s Best Coffee is generally cheaper than that of its parent, and is marketed as more of a working class coffee compared to the upmarket Starbucks.
Upgrade Your Day Stay In Your Lane with Seattle’s Best, you working-class piece of shit.
But, seriously, Seattle’s Best is the grocery store best. Much gratitude to my constant reader and Obi-Wan for the recommendation.
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If I had a nickel for every time I assured a particular individual that we ALL – and I mean *every single one of us* are pathologically something, I would have at least enough to buy a fancy new handbag – which is a thing I did not even know to want until I was given one. Don’t get me started on how many conversations this bag has started. Or how my pre-fancy bag was made of recycled materials and covered in elephants, and what *that’s* all about. Don’t judge me.
I use (assuring people of things) joining as an intervention when it is beneficial to alliance-building, and never cavalierly, since every move I make in the professional context is purposeful. Psychopathology is defined as the study of the origin, development and/or manifestations of mental or behavioral disorders. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been diagnosed a few times in my life by those who are (fortunately) not qualified to assess my mental status or impose any consequences that would infringe upon my civil liberties. For example, during the tumultuous time between introducing them to feminine hygiene products and introducing them to the set of luggage they should use to pack their stuff in and get out, I was diagnosed by my progeny as “Bipolar” because “One day you’re all nice and the next day you’re like this!” Nevermind that one day someone decided to go to school and one day someone did not – or that none of the verbal or nonverbal characteristics I ever displayed when refusing to co-sign my beloved progeny’s bullshit and/or imposing real world consequences met the criteria for severe and persistent mental illness. Nice try! I was also diagnosed as a “hoarder,” and this is the subject of today’s righting. That, and the fact that not just anybody is qualified to judge. Though some evidence of [psycho] pathology may be…evident, even to the untrained/unqualified eye, that evidence is not – as they say — sufficient to “convict.” And that is important.
Another truth I live by is “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.” What separates the diagnostician and the diagnosed is the severity of the symptomology, when such exists, and the ability to manage it. Well, that, plus a whole lotta credentials. But the true measure is the functionality test. Period. What does this thing that you are doing prevent you from also doing? My emotional attachment to things I do not need has no impact on my ability to function as a super-human. Nothing stops me except the various plagues imposed upon me by the population I choose to serve, and I expect to be able to shut that shit down soon with sheer willpower – not unlike Dwight K. Shrute, with the raising and lowering of his cholesterol.
I had occasion recently to rediscover two things I had forgotten I “hoarded,” pictured hereinabove. What we have here are (1) some random cards from a game called “Slamwich” that I once purchased and played with my progeny; and (2) some chess pieces I allegedly stole as a juvenile. I do not have all the cards. I do not have all the chess pieces. But, for some reason, I have kept these things for years. I made the decision today to let the cards go. But only after taking a picture of them and sending it to my progeny like “Remember this?! <3!” The truth is that I don’t remember how this game was even played. What is up with that “guy-eating-a-sandwich” card? What does the “2” mean? It is a mystery. What I remember is the slamming. And how we laughed. I maintain that letting my little birds fly is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
The first thing I learned to do after my dad died when I was ten years old was play chess. I joined the chess club at school and played every moment of every day that I could, which was only at school since that was the only place anyone cared about my desires to do anything, including but not limited to surviving my incomprehensible grief and playing chess. I caught on quick and played well enough, although my “strategy” is nothing anyone would ever want to mimic, as it is best described as having none. I play chess like I play pool, or blackjack – with a belief in *magic* that infuriates people who understand things like “math.” It is a practice that I am told may one day get me murdered, but I like to live on the edge. Plus, it’s not like I sit around in a pool hall all day playing chess and blackjack. I don’t have to math to understand that the odds of not being murdered are in my favor.
I remember that I allegedly stole the chess pieces when I was 14 years old, whilst one of my associates in orphanry was pawning some other things I allegedly stole. I recall wandering around the shop wondering how many of the things in it were stolen and happening upon this thing I was allegedly compelled to (re?)steal. The pieces were in a plastic bag. I remember allegedly thinking that they were really asking for it (the alleged theft of the thing) by making it so convenient. And that I allegedly despaired that I could not allegedly steal the board, as it could not allegedly be concealed upon my person.
At the time I somehow acquired those chess pieces, I had not played chess in years. I could have bought the whole set for $10. But that was like…three packs of cigarettes. Or two packs of cigarettes and two Mountain Dews. I remember standing there, looking at that chess set, and imagining I had discovered an ancient treasure because look at the carving. I recall that I carried these around for awhile, insisting that various persons who did not care one goddamned bit about a bag of chess pieces look at them and speculate on the magic and mystery of the rudimentary, medieval-esque carving! I liked to imagine that it was a mini-set that was hand-carved by torchlight by some hardworking dwarf father, or magicked into existence by a forest elf mother for their offspring. I knew it wasn’t super-fancy – by which I mean to say that I understood the materials were not precious. But “precious” is subjective, isn’t it? And how do you put a price on *magic?* I knew that these pieces knew I would take care of them. And that they wanted to be mine. Allegedly.
Over the next 25 years, through many, many moves, some of (the earlier ones) which were hurried, unanticipated affairs, I kept dragging these pieces around and eventually putting them in the top drawer of my dressers – losing a few here and a few there along the way. Sadly. What became of the bag they were in, or why I did not put them all together in any type of container like anybody with any goddamned sense at all would do is unknown. These are all that remain. I never played with them – not even once, though I imagined that one day I would – with my own prince and/or progeny. Alas, that this did not come to pass, for that would have been epic.
I do look at them from time to time. And hold them. At least every time I pack or unpack from a move. And I remember how I felt the day they allegedly illegally became mine. Again, it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove. Or sometimes it’s what you can convince a relatively decent thief/juvenile delinquent (who is unfortunately not a good liar) what you can prove, after which there is a stipulation that the evidence is sufficient to convict. Nolo contendere, or the last vestige of the damned, is the only hope for those who have or know they will crumble under interrogation. Temet nosce.
I hold onto some things I do not need because I am compelled to hold on to them, but this does not satisfy the test for diagnosis of a psychological disorder because, for one, there is no coexisting functional impairment. It is a commonly observed phenomenon for orphans to have attachments to things and stuff – the severity of the compulsion and corresponding impairment/adverse impact to functionality typically correlates with the severity and duration of the childhood trauma. It does not have to be this way because people have the power to learn, grow, and become what they choose to learn, where they choose to grow, and who they want to become. This is the most important thing I teach: resilience is a superpower that can be learned.
I let go of some things I do not need because I learned that what separates the diagnostician from the diagnosed is the ability to manage the symptoms/behaviors. I understand that I could not function as a superhuman if my lair overflowed with ticket stubs or programs or flyers for that awesome thing I did with that awesome person. Or the outfit I wore that time to the thing. Or the thing that reminded me of how much I loved the other thing. I cannot have all of the things. But I can have some of them. What distinguishes a memory from a madness is whether you’re holding onto it, or it has a hold on you. In the words of a certain Fight Club founder, if “the things you own end up owning you,” you have a psychological impairment for which professional treatment is recommended.
Abraham Maslow, the brain wizard who made it clear that one must know where one’s next meal is coming from before one can focus on becoming one’s best self, said “What we call normal in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic and so widely spread that we don’t even notice it ordinarily.” In other words, we are all pathogically something. Might as well be awesome.
I hold onto the chess pieces because I remember that learning to play chess saved me from drowning in a grief that was beyond my 10-year-old ability to process. They remind me of the importance of the long game. And that it is okay if a coping skill is a distraction; a thing that holds you over until you are able to process the thing that is preventing you from growing, or growing up – until you are ready and able to get the fuck out of your own way. And that it is okay if you play like you are *magic* despite the existence of proven variations, defenses and strategies –so long as you possess sufficient charm necessary to avoid being murdered by those you infuriate along the way.
Just as you are only as guilty as those who are empowered to decide the matter *have* decided it, you are only as “crazy” as those who are actually qualified to diagnose you have decided you are. It is not what anyone knows, or thinks they know, about you — it’s what they can prove. Yet, in the interest of keeping it 100, technical errors could occur in your favor from time to time. In your heart of hearts, you know what you did or what you continue to do is not right. If you don’t – let’s just say your situation is not exactly situated, and you need to get some professional help. If the things you hold onto are preventing you from getting out there – or maybe even in there (you know damned good and well if your lair looks like a Hoarding Barbie Dreamhouse) and learning and growing and becoming, you have a psychological impairment for which professional treatment is recommended. Otherwise, you are sentimental, which — congratulations! — is the pathology of the awesome. So you can tell everybody who does not have the credentials to infringe upon your civil liberties to shut their face(s).
I tossed out the cards. It did not hurt my feelings to do it. But I am holding onto all of the chess pieces that remain of the set that wanted to be mine when I was young and afraid and didn’t know where my next *anything* was coming from. They remind me of where I started and how far I’ve come. They remind me to be grateful. And that is worth holding onto.
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I lost my beloved Memaw last Fall. She was a queen. More about that later. For now, I would focus on continuing her legacy via the sharing with my progeny and The World of one of the many things she was ridiculously good at, that is, making biscuits.
What *is* a biscuit? I am aware that some of you are not aware of some of the things we eat around here, of which a biscuit is one. Now I’m not talking about the cookie “biscuits” that your Downton Abbey or other fancypants types enjoy with high tea. Do not mistake me, here. I love fancy living, including but not limited to pants, and I also enjoy tea. But the things we are making today are a southern menu staple. Especially at breakfast. Let’s get started!
You will need:
3c. + 1/2 c. Self rising flour. I use Virginia’s Best, since Memaw said it was the only kind worth a damn. In her later years, she switched to their biscuit mix, which has leavening agents, but DO NOT confuse this for “Bisquick. It is not the same thing.
1 stick salted butter. Real butter.
1 c. Buttermilk. If you do not have buttermilk, you can substitute by stirring 1 tbsp of white vinegar into 1c. milk and letting it sit for 5 minutes. I do this all the time whereas Memaw never did because she was a superior being.
Pour your 3 cups of flour in a large bowl. Add butter. Another thing I do that Memaw never did (because she was fast) is grate VERY COLD butter into the mixture as such:
Listen, you don’t have time to fool around here and let everything get all warm. Cold ingredients = baking science. Look it up. I know what I am talking about. Cut the butter into the flour using knives, until mixture appears crumbly, like so:
Next, stir in your COLD buttermilk using a fork, a little at a time, until soft dough forms and separates from the side of the bowl, like this:
Sprinkle some of your remaining flour on your cutting surface. Turn dough onto surface, sprinkling a little flour on top, and knead LIGHTLY. Three or four turns, at most. Again, no fooling around! Pat out to 1/2″ thickness. Now you can cut them out. I actually do have a biscuit cutter somewhere. Don’t judge me.
Reformed dough = more biscuits! I should not have to tell you how this is done. With as little fooling around as possible. But I should and will tell you that these “seconds” will not turn out as cute as your first round biscuits. Give these to people you hate. You know what — YOU eat those. Or throw them off a cliff. Because it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove. And the last thing you need right now is somebody talking shit about your biscuits.
Place biscuits on foil-lined (or not) pan. I used foil because I always have better things to do than wash pans. If the biscuits touch, they will rise higher. More science.
Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 12 minutes, at which time you will look at them and think they are not done. And you will be right. But the bottoms *are* done, and that is what matters here. See?
Turn your oven on mid-range broil. This is the crucial part that requires CONSTANT VIGILANCE! I don’t care if your offspring is eyeballing the goldfish bowl with a carton of all-natural orange juice in hand, or eyeballing the…electrical socket with fork in hand. Hey, that’s life. These things happen sometimes. But those biscuits will burn the moment you drop your guard. And who wants that?! But if your vigilance is constant, a couple minutes later you will be rewarded with these…Memaw Masterpieces! Yay!
My Memaw liked to eat these with sliced tomatoes. And sometimes with apple butter. I do, too. She also liked to make gravy, which is about as southern as it gets. She taught me that there is an art to this, and countless things more. I can make gravy, although I don’t often do so, thanks to (science class) and the Biscuit and Gravy Strike of 1986, wherein I determined that “gravy” was, in fact, “biscuit” in liquid form, and therefore, bullshit. Or just…wrong. Not that anyone gave a rat’s ass about my hypothesis, and rightly so. But I digress.
Once upon a time, I had a Memaw, and she taught me things that are becoming lost. I am pleased to share these things with you who were (and especially those who were not) as fortunate. ❤
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Did you know that the first Tuesday in August is National Asshole Bee Day? You do now! In celebration of this brand new holiday that only non-government employees will be paid to celebrate on a Monday so they can have a three-day weekend, please enjoy the following comic representation of my simultaneous awareness of three things:
Bees are total assholes
I have been stung five (5) times in August
August doesn’t have any holidays
Five times, and plenty of August left. I don’t even care! Because the way I see it, pretty soon I will have bee powers. That is, if I am not destroyed in my epic quest to destroy bees or get bee powers. BUT FIRST! Some useful information about bees:
Bees are assholes. I’m not talking about the pollinators. Those are fluffy and cute; we need those. And nevermind that they’re not *all* “technically” bees, Mr. Scientist.
Bees will completely fuck your shit up by any means necessary — including but not limited to hijacking the balcony of your lair, or flying into your car when you are at a stoplight and stinging you in the arm. They hope you will swerve off of the road and wreck, so they can lay their eggs in you while you are incapacitated because A) some bees are too lazy to build a nest; and 2) they don’t understand that you’re not going to swerve off the road when you’re stopped at a red light because bees are stupid assholes.
When those bee eggs hatch, they will eat you. That is the entire point of you, according to asshole bees. Upside: You might still have a chance at that point. I mean, since you know they are there. And they’re like…little. And pretty much defenseless. Downside: Unless the reason you know they are there is because they’ve hatched inside your brain, where they will eat your hopes and dreams, essentially making your last day on earth feel like another day at the office.
In addition to you, bees eat other bugs that are also trying to murder and/or eat you, chase you around with more legs than you have, and/or stare at you with more eyes than you have, wishing they could eat you. That is pretty much the only good thing about asshole bees, since there are over a billion bugs for every one of us. If bees don’t get you — and, ohhh they want to, they will get every living thing that is too stupid, too slow, or too asleep at a stop light to get the living fuck out of their way.
In tribute to the unparalleled badassedness that is Game of Thrones, I submit (for my daughter Samantha, and for my beloved readers) a parody of the emo anthem classic from my youth: Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.”
So close behind the ice wall
White walkers come to kill ’em all
Seven Kingdoms are soon to fall
And nothing else matters
Terrors, yes, but not just for dark
Winter comes; not just words for Starks
Tyrion, we will miss your snark!
And that’s all that matters
Long night comes, and the dead come too
Free folk, crows, they’re all zombie food
One giant?! How much can he do?!
And nothing else matters
We can’t know where all they’ll go!
Can they march where there’s no snow?!
We don’t know!
Broken Reek, who once was Theon
Arya serves a vengeful God
Where the fuck are Bran and Rickon?!
I don’t think it matters…
Dragons chained and cannot fly!
Dragon glass in short supply!
Jorah Mormont won’t leave Mereen
Dungeons full of remorseless queens
Lannister is Hand of the King
None of this shit matters…
Podrick Payne and Lady Brienne
Bolton versus Baratheon
Ramsay’s boast of “20 good men”
Like that’s going to matter?!
They don’t care bout words they say!
They don’t care bout games they play!
They don’t care bout Iron Thrones!
They don’t care who made Jon Snow!
But I know…
Red-haired whores and their Lords of Light
Black-robed crows watching walls at night
All are snacks for creepy kid wights
And nothing else matters…
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Have you recently had a terrible day? And did your terrible day (or two) leave you feeling sad and comfortless? Do you feel the need to consume food — or not, but figure, “Meh. Might as well”? Consider corn on the cob. Corn on the cob is having none of your sadness. In fact, it dares you to try to eat it and be sad, after which it will say “Nice try,” and laugh at your (even) sad(der) attempt to win at that which is unwinnable; that is, eating corn on the cob while being sad. Then probably you will laugh too, because you appreciate and delight in absurdity, and that your situational sadness has led you down the road that ended with you being pw3nd by corn on the cob is funny — I don’t care who you are.
Corn on the cob is yellow, therefore you cannot be sad while eating it. I don’t make the rules. Sorry, those are the rules. You can be as sad as you want to be crying into your dreary gray oatmeal or…staring into your morbid-ass bowl of whatever-colored PROGRESSO “Soup” you have sadly and mistakenly chosen over the time-honored goodness produced by Campbell’s, but you’ll never get away with that nonsense while eating the cylindrical sunshine that is corn on the cob! No one ever has and no one ever will. It is known.
When I bite into a corn on the cob, I get the sensation that I am an Apex Predator, stomping around an impossibly verdant Mesozoic Era landscape, scream-hissing at and/or bite-clawing into everything that made me sad, inasmuch as I understood sadness with my bird-sized brain, which I did not. Ever onward, I roam — unhesitatingly tearing everything apart that I encounter whilst enroute to destrume (new word!) as many things that make me feel ?!! as possible before passing out from sheer exhaustion, secure in the knowledge that nothing exists that would dare try to destrume me…
Or I am nine years old, sitting on the top of a weathered red picnic table with my brothers in the backyard of a world of endless summer Saturdays, eating corn straight from the garden without a care in the world. With hours of death-defying adventures awaiting — clubhouses to construct, trees to climb, kingdoms to defend, battles to fight, and records to break before we are called home by our dad’s whistle, which we never failed to hear no matter how far we wandered. I stopped trying to learn/mimic that whistle when I turned 10. I cannot be sad about that when I am eating corn on the cob, that is my point.
Get the sensation.
Knowledge is power. Become empowered HERE and also HERE by learning the secrets of perfect corn on the cob preparation, and right HERE by learning about the king of the dromaeosaurids. DO let this knowledge/power go right to your head, and use it to further your interests in whatever way seems meet. Be sure that corn on the cob as a non-pharmacological intervention for the temporary treatment of situational sadness will tide you over until you can draw upon the strength of your inner dinosaur.
Corn on the cob is not for everyone. People without teeth should not attempt to eat corn on the cob, as their inability to do so has been linked in clinical trials to validation and /or exacerbations of feelings of inadequacy. In addition to temporarily suspending feelings of sadness, corn on the cob may cause an uncontrollable urge to floss upon consuming corn on the cob. Corn on the cob has been attributed to choking in infants and small children born of criminally negligent persons, whom everybody knows goddamned good and well (but nobody likes to say) should have never been allowed to breed. People taking Mirapex (generic name Pramipexole) for Restless Legs Syndrome may experience increased gambling, sexual, or other overpowering urges, and may attempt to blame this on corn on the cob due to co-occurring Mirapex-induced amnesia, which has also reportedly been experienced by persons taking prescriptions statins for high cholesterol. Those taking Abilify may experience coma or death AND difficulty swallowing, for which corn on the cob is also not to blame. Women who are taking birth control pills will experience increased risk of liver cancer, and may experience benign but dangerous liver tumors that may rupture and cause fatal internal bleeding for which corn on the cob is not a remedy. Asthma-related deaths attributed to the asthma treatment medication drug Advair cannot be prevented by consuming corn on the cob. Suicidal ideation experienced by those suffering from major depression and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treated by Paxil (generic name Paroxetine), or those whose Nicotine Dependence is treated by Chantix may, in fact, have better luck with corn on the cob, as would Viagra consumers whose sexual partners just want to get some for-Christ’s-sake sleep, already. Corn on the cob cannot provide you with the emotional support you lack in interpersonal relationships. The way corn on the cob works is not entirely understood by anyone. Ask your doctor if corn on the cob is right for you.
Wherein we discover that not only I am compelled to become entangled only with the really, really ridiculously smart Ones; but that during the Zombiepocalypse, or in situations totally unlike that in every conceivable way, I may be even more compelled to destroy what I love.
Life can be…challenging. Sometimes the things you want or need to build come with instructions. Sometimes the instructions are written in another language, or the print is so small that you cannot read it. Sometimes there are no instructions at all. What will you do then? Give up? Cry? Complain about how unfair it is that there are no instructions — or that they are incomprehensible or damned-near invisible to the human eye? NOT have a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur skeleton friend of your very own? No. Hell no. You build it anyway.
There may come a day when knowing and doing intersect, and the pieces perfectly connect in such a way that the product of your labor is indistinguishable from the picture on the packaging. But it is not this day…
An hour of lost and scattered pieces, when skeletons of dinosaurs come crashing down, and you get your ass handed to you by a piece of shit that costs a dollar, but it is NOT THIS DAY.
This day you fight! And by fight, I mean that by assembling the pieces in whatever manner pleases you best — regardless of what the instructions may say, if they even exist, or if you could make any sense of them, which you cannot — you will have the glow-in-the-dark dinosaur skeleton that you deserve. And it will be splendid; much better than anyone else’s could be. You don’t need directions! Trust yourself; you will learn as you go. Hey, what’s that piece right there? Who cares?! ‘Cause guess what? Unicorn horn! And what about those things? Your dinosaur doesn’t need whatever the hell those things were supposed to be. They are guns now. And it doesn’t matter one bit that one of the actual arm pieces is broken —
use that piece right there. Your dinosaur is infinitely more badass and better than anyone else’s with one actual arm and one hook-type appendage! The better to drag forth its/your enemies for…reprimands and fisticuffs! And nevermind those pieces over there — those pieces are for those who lack conviction! It is finished.
I’ve said this before: It is what it is, but it will become what you make it. Life is sometimes like a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur skeleton puzzle.
In my life, there have been occasions where I have wished for instructions. Days when I had to look at the two little people who mattered most in the whole world and say, “I’m sorry! I’m doing the best I can!” and hope that they would know how much I meant it — someday, if not that day. There were hours when I didn’t say it or couldn’t say it to anyone but myself before tears and/or exhaustion gave way to sleep — and those were the hardest times of all, because I wondered if it was true or if it was something I said to comfort myself. But every night breaks. And each dawn would inevitably see my faith in my ability to prevail renewed. And so I continued — to do the best I could do with the information and resources I possessed. I continue still. What else would I do? Give up? Complain at the absence or inferiority of direction? No. Hell no. If I know anything — and I know quite a number of things, at least two of which are true and applicable here; e.g., 1) dark is scary; and 2) it’s a whole hell of a lot less dark and less scary with a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur skeleton by your side.
Do what you must. It doesn’t matter if you know how. If there are no instructions. If there is no one to help you. Trust yourself. Learn as you go. Build it anyway.
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A common dilemma frequently discussed amongst girlfriends and confidantes concerns contact between significant others and their exes. How much contact is too much contact? Where do you draw the line? How can you trust that it is over between them? What do you do now? Even I have had occasion to consider this issue once upon a time, at which point it became necessary to come up with a definitive solution to prevent the onset of batshit craziness. Since I trust my beloved readers to be satisfied by what satisfies me, I share my solution here.
How much contact is too much contact?
There is no point in even asking yourself or anyone else this question, since if everyone is being completely honest, they all have the same answer, which is “any.” With obvious exceptions. For instance, if your love interest has children with the ex, and your answer is still “any,” I am afraid the batshit crazy has already taken hold, for it is not only necessary but right that there is communication between separated parents. Another example that would make some form of contact necessary are shared assets, but this is typically of a foreseeably limited duration. If you’re asking this question, you already know there is some contact, which is unfortunately more than none, but you’ve yet to embark upon a quest to find a new “One.” Hmmm. So the question you’re really asking is
Where do you draw the line?
The answer to this question is entirely subjective and answerable with another question. What are your boundaries? There is no right or wrong answer here, so long as you understand that boundaries do not exist to define what someone else does, but what you do. Boundaries that promote and protect your integrity are set by you and you alone. Or me. With this post. Which is just as good as you setting them — or better, if the batshit craziness has already crept in.
When you are feeling hurt and/or confused, it is understandable that you would seek solace, guidance, and validation from your friends and loved ones. It is possible, even, that you will receive advice when you do not solicit it, such as when your confidante pronounces the object of your affection to be “shady as shit,” and insists that you “have fun, but don’t fall in love.” Amusing. And actually not bad advice at all, all things considered. Especially when/if one finds oneself entangled with one of those ridiculously handsome, absurdly charming, and unquestionably brilliant bastards who happens to be shady as shit. The point is that although everyone will have an opinion, ultimately it is you who must decide. Explore the depths of your own intuition and govern yourself accordingly. The fact is that whether you love and whom and how much does not require anyone else’s permission. It does not even require reciprocation, for all that it is expected or desired, and rightly so. If you aren’t getting what you need from this thing, why is this still a thing? Do not limit your sharing, however, to confidantes. Particularly since, as they love you, their first instinct is to kick the shit out of anyone who would cause you a moment’s consternation, followed closely by demanding that you get the hell out of there without further ado. Been there, done that — and you know you have, too. Because solving other people’s problems is sooo easy, right? I know! That is what I like about it.
Disclose your boundaries to your love interest and move forward from that point. It is natural to rebel against and/or want to protect yourself from what you think may hurt you. But continuing to react from a place of insecurity will cause you to behave in way that will assure you achieve the opposite of what you desire. Trust yourself first. Say what you need to say. Then trust your partner. Until such time as you have proof that they cannot be trusted. At which time you shall rain hell down upon him and/or move on.
I, for one, insist upon being shocked if ever I am wronged. Obviously, I will recover and get on with the necessary vengeance of living well and trusting in karma. I am a pathological optimist. So can you be. It is what it is, but it will become what you make it.
How can you trust that it’s over between them?
This question is at the heart of the matter, and is born of your own fears. Fear that he/she may still have feelings for his/her ex and/or fear that said ex will somehow (probably using witchery) right the wrongs or somehow persuade your partner to right the wrongs that drove them apart. I get it. But you cannot stop this. Fear that you’re not [good] enough. While I have for damned sure never entertained that last notion, I included it because I am sadly aware that some people suffer from such toxic delusions. And while the first two fears are completely understandable and/or valid, particularly concerning witchery, they are all yours to conquer. What he/she does with his/her ex is not about you. Unresolved issues with exes are theirs to conquer.
I’m going to stop being gender-neutral now because it interrupts my flow. My beloved readers must trust that I write universally-applicable truths.
She is his ex for a reason. (Undoubtedly a myriad of reasons, which he may not mind disclosing, though I suggest you never speak of your former partners, or if you must, only as described here.) And you — well, look at you! You are amazing! What decent human being would ever want to hurt you? I don’t know about you, but I have yet to encounter a single One who could “trade up” after me. Such a thing is outside the realm of what is possible. Even for witchery. And if you don’t think I find that both amusing and comforting, think again. It is a good idea to adopt this mindset at once — even if upon reflection you find it does not apply to you, since there is no time like the present to make it applicable by being the sort of person you want to be — and the sort of person you want to be with.
If he does not show you that he cares for you — and you know goddamned good and well what that means — then why are you with him? It should (but sadly does not) go without saying that if the content of his communication with his ex contains sexual or romantic ideation, denies his current relationship status, or in anyway discredits his previous characterization of his level of involvement with his ex, then you have an entirely different problem that begs a different question, namely,
“Why are you hitting yourself?” Walk away. Because the real issue here is trusting HIM not IT. Yes, it will hurt like hell, but its gonna hurt a whole lot more the longer you tolerate it in the hope that he will come to his senses and stop cultivating her interest versus merely being amicable. You will recognize that shit when you see it. Shade will out. That being said, whereas you are merely speculating about the content of his communications with his ex, know this: It is not necessary to know the content of his communications with his ex to know how good things are between the two of you. If things are good when you are together, you have a good relationship. If it can only be good when you are together if you ignore all of the red flags constantly smacking you upside the head, you don’t have a relationship at all. You have an association. And not a healthy one.
With regard to communication with his ex, it is necessary to distinguish between the feelings you have and the feelings you (project) ascribe to him; between what you fear and what is actually happening. Otherwise, you are “borrowing trouble,” and that way lies madness — a phenomenal waste of precious time and energy that is better spent appreciating/enjoying the moment you’re in — which is all you really have. You must not interpret someone else’s actions (be they his or his ex’s) as a reflection on you. He is going to do what he’s going to do, and no amount of hell-raising or guilt-tripping, or logic and
reason will prevent it. Why would you even want to? Babysitters are for babies. If what is yours can be taken from you, you should not want it — and you sure as hell do not need it. Let it go. While I would not hesitate to battle a witch for what is mine, when/if what is mine is defenseless, my babies are grown-ups now, and there is no world in which I wish to be bound to a defenseless man. That is just — Christ. No.
What do you do now?
We have all heard it said — usually at the worst possible time by someone we want to punch right in the face — that if you love someone you should set them free, and if they return they are yours. Taken in the literal sense, this is complete bullshit. I have already described the circumstances under which you should let “it” go. Literally speaking, if you let It go and It comes back, shoot It. Because It is up to no goddamned good. And you were warned. As ol’ Crandall tried to tell those fools in Pet Sematary, “Sometimes dead is better.” That little maxim, however, takes on a whole new meaning in the figurative context. Setting someone free of your expectations is an entirely desirable and achievable action from which any relationship (I said RELATIONSHIP not ASSOCIATION) will immediately and substantially benefit. Loving someone means loving who they are, as they are — and not burdening them with your expectations to satisfy your ego. Or conquer your fears.
If you cannot love someone as they are, they are not one of your Ones, and you are not one of theirs. Not this time. Don’t let it devastate you.
WITH REGARD TO WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW about your love interest’s communication with his ex, once you have put your cards on the table YOU SHOULD DO NOTHING. A word to the wise is said to be sufficient, and if he is not wise — again, what the hell? No. I hope I have taught you better than that. Focusing on the foundation, rather than the future, sets you free to live in the moment and accept any eventuality. Having established your boundaries, defend them. Do not let your heart be broken if things do not work out. It’s not you — it’s the two of you together, or likely just him. Unless, of course, you are an evil witch, in which case, it’s you.
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“Methadone treatment” is an oxymoron. These edifices for enabling masquerading as medical clinics are a JOKE. And by “joke,” I of course mean “bullshit,” ’cause since when is addiction treatment palliative? Treatment is rightly concerned with and directed toward recovery; i.e., a cure, and includes interventions to address comorbidity, triggers, coping mechanisms, barriers, etc. Maintaining one’s dependency should not be an option. It’s like sending a diabetic to a cookie clinic and being all, “What?! They’re SNACKWELLS!” Lol. Remember when everybody thought they could eat cookies all day because they were Snackwells? Christ, those were some terrible cookies! But they sold like mad, because people want to believe they can have their cookie and eat it, too. Same principle applies here.
Methadone is a (Schedule II narcotic) synthetic opiate that was invented as an alternative to the “high-test” surgical analgesics of the WWII era, and failed to live up to its hype. Considered inferior to morphine, et al., yet nevertheless…um…continuing to exist, it was marketed by Big Pharma as a substitute for heroin — and later — other opiates. Interestingly, it was (and sometimes is) also used, and used effectively, for the treatment of schizophrenia, although this practice waned with the introduction of second generational atypicals — largely because of the tolerance threshold. Eventually, one will require more. And more. And one will require it forever. But the reality of “forever meds” are well-known to the schizophrenic patient, as are the reality of atypical side-effects such as zombification — and all that that implies, except for maybe super speed, and eating people, and flinging yourself against a wall and/or other zombies in Israel in order to breach that wall and eat the prematurely celebratory citizenry — yet there are some, I’d wager, who’d find even that preferable to gynecomastia. But I digress.
Methadone produces a less-intense (heroin/morphine-like), but nevertheless sustained euphoria that outlasts heroin for hours and hours. It is absolutely, positively, and unquestionably addictive. Any user who takes it will have a monkey on their back that they cannot shake without hurting. A lot. And the clinics know this. And the regulatory agencies know this. They have to know this because I know this. And although I’m pretty smart, I have to reluctantly admit that this is not “top-secret” information. Nor am I the only person who knows how to read. All of this stuff I am righting right now doesn’t even require research! And I’m not doing any! As the Dothraki say, “It is known.” NEWSFLASH: If it has a “street value,” (and it does — around fifty cents per mg) it’s not something you want to be taking on the regular unless you’re damned-near dead. Methadone itself has a whole shit-ton of side effects, including but not limited to a false or unusual sense of well-being, anxiety, chest pain, cardiac toxicity, confusion, extreme fatigue, hives, weight changes, difficulty sleeping, difficulty urinating, difficulty breathing, decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm. You’ll never convince me that’s a fair trade. It is also worth noting that although Methadone “treatment” is marketed as the “gold standard” for pregnant women with addiction disorders (because quitting cold turkey might cause one to miscarry, and that would be tragic) Methadone is actually a Class C Pregnancy Drug, meaning that it “its risk to the unborn is not known.” *Cough* bullshit *Cough* The withdrawal symptoms suffered by the newly born are pretty well known — and of particular interest to Child Protective Services, who typically has a representative standing by for such deliveries. Finally, Methadone, taken improperly and/or with the wrong “chaser” can and will kill you. Moving on.
Hey, remember that time I said “And one will require it forever”? That is key. Chris Rock addressed this in some stand-up special when he said,
“Ain’t no money in the cure! The money’s in the medicine! That’s how a drug dealer makes his money — on the comeback!”
Methadone “maintenance” costs an average of $12 per day. Cash. Only. No insurance accepted. Can’t come up with the cash? Sorry! You’re out. There’s no “comprehensive” to these clinics, and there sure as hell isn’t any “contingency.” Don’t even get me started on their “counseling.” I called a local clinic to ask what would happen to a person who could no longer pay, and was told, and I quote, “I mean, they could probably get like a referral to counseling or something.” Okay…so if you’re lucky, and whether you are lucky is entirely subjective, you COULD get (like) a referral to someone or someplace, which you may or may not be able to afford, who will certainly NOT give you methadone. Which begs the question — if “counseling or something” will do the trick (and it can absolutely do the trick if one is determined) why not start there?
By the way, this particular clinic has had 48 violations in the last two years and is still fully operational, despite that their overseeing physician was arrested for child pornography. Their spokesperson’s response to media inquiry made reference to addiction treatment being “complicated and difficult...” I don’t remember how the rest of that response went, but I like to imagine that it was something to the effect of, “…I mean…who knew? Am I right?!” Because that’s how goddamned ridiculous the first part of the response was. Complicated and difficult, indeed.
Proponents argue that the cost of Methadone maintenance is far less the money addicts will spend, beg, borrow, steal, rob, kill, or prostitute themselves for to “maintain” their dependency illegally. By that logic, we might also assume that the installment of a methadone clinic near you will actually reduce crime. Ain’t nobody tryna rob nobody if their check will cover it! Speaking of disability, I read somewhere once that most of the “for profit” methadone clinics are in the areas where prescription drug-abuse is most widespread. But guess what? I’m not going to cite that source either, because — no! Plus, it’s too…perfectly absurd to be wrong. It is known.
I have known people who are serving twenty years for possession and those who are serving more or less than that for distributing. None of these people deserved to be imprisoned. NOT A ONE. If you can support your habit through your own efforts without committing a crime, and commit no crimes under the influence of your habit, you may have a problem, but you do not deserve to be imprisoned. If you cannot support your habit without depending on government subsidies for income, housing, food, etc., you definitely have at least one problem — and that is the inability to support your habit. In such cases, certain sanctions may need to be imposed to encourage you to reconsider/reprioritize your life choices, but imprisonment should not be one of them. It is known. To anyone with any sense.
Methadone clinics are to medicine what payday lenders are to banking; i.e., predators. The “Rent-A-Centers” of treatment, they are entrepreneurs capitalizing on the instability of the most vulnerable. They’ll give you what you want — or what you think you need. But there’s hell to pay, and you will be paying 5-ever.
At the heart of any addiction, state-supported or otherwise, is an overwhelming and pathological need to escape. To feel differently/better about one’s life and circumstances than one would feel without pharmacological enhancement. The key to recovery is not finding a more cost-effective or legal form of escape. The key is building a life from which you won’t want/need to escape. This is not the easiest thing — far from it. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But it is possible. It is known.
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As I was flipping through stations the other day on my way to save someone from something, I encountered a ballad the likes of which the world has never known — so miserably wretched that it should never be heard by anyone. That song is “Girl Crush” by a band called “Little Big Town.” Yes, I looked it up. That is their name. It began with
I got a girl crush
Hate to admit it but
I got a hard rush
It’s slowing down
It started out okay. Simple, soothing melody…soon joined by a not-terrible girl voice telling us a little something that we may or may not want to hear about her feelings for other girls — you know, depending on what you’re into. And I, personally, am into understanding (human behavior, generally, and) the thoughts and feelings of any oppressed persons emerging from the dark, hateful closets of the world — which is EXACTLY what I thought this was about. But then
I got it real bad
Want everything she has
That smile and that midnight laugh
She’s giving you now
Plot twist: Nope. Even bigger plot twist: It gets worse.
I want to taste her lips
Yeah, ‘cause they taste like you
I want to drown myself
In a bottle of her perfume
I want her long blonde hair
I want her magic touch
Yeah, ‘cause maybe then
You’d want me just as much
I’ve got a girl crush.
As a Rolling Stone article on the subject states, “…it isn’t long before listeners realize the character…[is full of shit]…because the MAN SHE PINES FOR is sharing a bed with this other woman.” [emphasis/opinion added]
The article goes on to quote one of the band members saying “It could be a bit of a game changer on country radio right now. There are not many women on the radio and not many ballads with that kind of lyrical content.”
I don’t get no sleep
I don’t get no peace
Thinking about her
Under your bed sheets
The way she’s whispering
The way that she’s pulling you in
Lord knows I’ve tried
I can’t get her off my mind
Now I don’t know what kind of “game” country radio is playing, or how this is going to “change” it (unless it is The Grammatically Correct Song Lyrics Game) but I do know that what we “got” here is not lyrical genius; far from it. What we have here is mass *yawn* marketing of sensationalistic attention-whoring at its pity-partying finest; an insult to women (and men — and not just the kind who are hoping to hear some hot lesbian action set to music!) of all walks of life because it is so damned sad. And no amount of telling us how “cutting edge” and “controversial” it is can [make it so] undo The Sad.
Don’t take my word for it. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe I almost wrote that.
In addition to my word, which you can literally take to the bank in printed form and trade in for bricks of solid gold, I also submit for your consideration the review of real-life lesbian expert and friend of mine, with whom I consulted, who described this song as “disappointing,” to say the least:
“Like you, I thought it had promise in the beginning,” my expert source stated. “Then I was like….what in the actual fuck? No! Why?” [paraphrased]
We went on to discuss another terrible song by the same bunch talking about how “God made girls to…wear skirts and flirt,” which pretty much made us both want to set fire to this sorry nest of songwriting succubi and make delicious S’mores from the marshmallows we would roast over the charred remains of both their corpses and the mountains of Lisa Frank ™ notebooks in which they compose their “feminine masterpieces.”
Far worse than Katy Perry’s waaay overplayed lipstick-lesbian anthem, “Girl Crush” doesn’t even try to turn anyone on. At least, I don’t suppose it does. Does it? I shudder at the thought. The lesbianism is the hook. Or maybe the bait. Probably the bait, because the hook is the gutwrenching exposure to this woman’s pretense…and self-abasing obsession with her ex-lover and his new lover. Or the agonizing certainty that there is nothing you can do to get the two minutes of your life back that you spent listening to this terrible song. Nothing. They’re just gone. Forever. This song doesn’t try to do anything except make sane people wish that girls would just for-Christ’s-sake stop it already with the (lipstick) lesbian innuendo. Do or do not, as the saying partially goes. Stop trying to trick people!
I took “Girl Crush” to the streets to ask random men what they thought of it. “Ahh, God! This song is bullshit!” opined a self-described lover of women at downtown’s gay Macados. “I mean, at first, you’re all like ‘Yeaaahhh…alright.‘ Then you’re just like, ‘What? No! Why is this happening?!‘”
Why, indeed? Is THIS a video/song you want your 13-year old daughter seeing/singing while getting ready for school, as I used to watch/sing Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” with the curling iron stretched as far as it would go from the bathroom so I would not miss a moment whilst sculpting my bangs into a ginormous impenetrable puff? Hell no, it is not. What would a ‘Girl Crush’ video even LOOK like? I bet it would look really sad.
It falls to me, naturally, to rewrite this song — to try to undo some of the hurt it has caused. I do this for you, beloved readers. And for America.
That’s Not A Girl Crush – by Me
That’s not a girl crush
Don’t have a mic but
I’ll sing with my hairbrush
Of how it brought me down
At first I thought, “Not bad…”
And then I was so mad!
‘Cause no one is as sad
As Little Big Town
I want to hit my screen
With my brand new coffee cup
I want to sue this song
For making my brain throw up
I want to tell all girls
This is not how it must be
I want them all to run
From such codependency
That’s not a girl crush
That’s not a girl crush
I don’t get this song
Lyrics are all wrong
Thinking about how
It cannot be long
‘Til radio drops this shit
‘Til people say, “Just stop it.”
I hate these lies
And how hard this song tries
I want to tell all girls
That life is sometimes unfair
And if he’s not the “One”
There’s plenty of “Ones” out there
And to the girls who dream
Of “girl crushes” they’d explore
Don’t do it for men, girls —
That’s just an attention whore
That’s not a “girl” crush
That’s not a girl crush
It’s clearly a straight flush
A farcical gold rush
That brings us all down
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Quarter after five on Friday and I had a few minutes to kill before meeting some friends for dinner. So I decided to head to the closest store in search of the ever-elusive metal measuring cups my Memaw requires. Upon arriving, I notice this older man in Army green slumped over on the sidewalk near the door. I can’t tell if he’s awake or even alive — a beard obscures much of his face. I mean, a beard of sorts. The same way you might refer to the grass you haven’t mowed all summer as a lawn. He has a cardboard sign in his lap. I watch him for a few seconds. The store is busy. Lots of foot traffic. People are stepping around — some almost over him. No one stops. He doesn’t move. I turn off the car, put it in gear, and get out. Sigh. Goddammit.
I approach the store somewhat slower than normal. A little warily, since he’s awfully close to the door. I have to know what that sign says. My internal dialogue during the seconds it takes me to reach him goes a little something like:
“You have to do something.”
“Wrong. I’m off the clock.”
“Wtf? Is he dead?!
“He’s probably drunk.”
“That’s pretty fucked up. Stereotype much?”
“Stereotype much when he grabs your ankle and starts gnawing on it like a dinosaur?”
“Lol! Aww, looook at It…”
Number one, “It” is a pronoun of endearment in my family; and two, I looked at It, alright — long enough to see in the half-instant before he turns his head that he is, in fact, awake. Two tiny sparks glimmered in the depths of the forest that is his face. He looks away. A second half-instant to note the collection container he has inexplicably fashioned from white plastic shopping bags, and that I can make no sense of the word salad/scribbles on his sign. The word help jumps out at me. As does thank you for anything or nothing. The rest is a puzzle. An incredibly frustrating puzzle that I want to stop and solve. My pace does not falter, although I can hardly walk any slower. I am aware of how much we are both pretending that we don’t notice each other. Like we are *whistling a tune* and
“Just taking a little break here on the sidewalk in the freezing cold with a damned near indecipherable sign that asks for help. Nothing to see here…”
“Just walking in the store, trying to find some measuring cups. Nothing to see here….”
I am aware of the horrific irony of politeness in this instance.
I wander the store aimlessly for a few minutes. I don’t look for measuring cups. I look for the line of people purchasing refill cards for their cellphones to be gone so I can speak to the cashier about the man in front of the store. I pick through a display of marked down fingernail polish near the register as I wait. 60 cents each. Good deal. I wonder if I ought to be thinking about fingernail polish, and I feel a little ashamed to have money to spend on such things. But the polishes have…astrological names. And I am me. As I wait, I listen to two men debate the merits of a pay-as-you-go phone behind me, and find myself amused by the assurances of the man who is familiar with the phone in question when he wraps it up with, “None better.” I don’t know why, but I liked that part. “None better?” I think. “Well, alright then. Case closed.”
Finally my turn, and I put five packages of fingernail polish on the counter, asking, “Are you aware that there is a man with a sign sitting in front of your store?”
“Really? Is he right out front? Oh.” She sighs, then frowns. She is maybe 40, with a friendly face. Her updo is failing. She is tired.
“Homeless,” offers one of the phone debaters. I never saw either of them.
“Yeah.” says the cashier.
“What’s his story?” I asked, “I mean, is he alright?” <– YES. I ACTUALLY SAID THAT. And before anybody says anything smart, know that my inner dialogue had a fucking field day with that shit. Somehow we got past it.
“It’s sad,” she replied. “I mean, when I was at the shelter, he helped me. He helped my whole family. He just…wanders around. Sometimes he has money to come in here and buy him a little soup or something. I warm it up in the microwave for him. I don’t care if they fire me for it.”
I am painfully aware of her reference to living at the shelter, and I feel…absurdly proud of her for having this job and, I reason, probably not living there anymore. “Anybody who would fire you for that is a piece of shit.”
“I know, right? Sad.”
“It is sad,” I agree. “It hurts my heart to see it.”
“Well…thank you. Have a good night.”
I exit the store through the Out door, a few feet away from where the homeless man has not moved and does not look at me. As I reach into my pocket for all the actual money I have — which isn’t much, really, I observe two men approaching the In door. The one on the inside nearly trips over the homeless man, and shouts, “[Get] the FUCK out my way!” and half-turns to kick the homeless man’s legs and
His companion is laughing, and I hear myself shout, “HEY!” Inadvertently.
They pause. Turn to me. “The fuck YOU want?” His companion says nothing.
I want you to watch where you’re fucking going, have a little compassion, not kick a homeless person, not murder me. I want to fight you. I say none of these things.
Two little sparks in the forest. He sees me now.
A moment to gauge their time and distance from me. There is no question that these assholes are alive. And drunk. And fucking impolite.
I just…get in my car and leave. I drive to the bank. I was going there anyway because I needed some cash for dinner.
I am ashamed of myself. Hate myself a little bit, actually. But…?!?!
As I wait for my receipt, I am aware that my breathing is wrong. Any minute now I’ll be crying. Not happening. Two minutes ago I was late to meet my friends. I feel…an overwhelming sense of grief; the suffocating weight of injustice, my suppressed fury, and worse — inadequacy. Everything I could have said and done plays like a movie in my mind.
I breathe. I think about Liam Neeson, and what he would have done. I think about all the martial arts skills, and weapons, and psychic/super powers I do not possess and what might have happened if I did possess those things. I need to go to dinner, but instead I drive back to the store, and of course he’s still there. I see him and he sees me very well. This time, I approach him purposefully.
“Here,” I say, putting a ten dollar bill in his container. Then I say nothing. Because I can’t think of what to say.
He looks down at it briefly — shakes his head like he is saying yes. He opens his mouth as though he is going to speak and closes it again. I notice his hands tremble as he picks up the bill. I notice his hands, and how hurt-looking and worn they are, and I do not know if they trembled from the cold or from something worse. He shakes his head yes again. He does not look up again. So I stupidly say, “Take care,” and walk away. Drive away. I pick up my phone and see a missed call, missed messages. I call my friend back and tell her I am on my way.
A saying came to my unquestionably agnostic mind as I was driving, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Don’t get me wrong, I admire faith and certain ones of those who have it. I understand its purpose and benefits. But I cannot and do not credit God’s mercy with my successes, such as they are. Nor do I blame God (or the Devil) for my failures. My brain cannot reconcile the idea of a merciful God or a competent Devil picking and choosing the way they do. Come on. But it was and is clear to me that “There but for the [blank] of [blank] go all of us.” Filling in those blanks have puzzled greater minds than mine. But my mind, such as it is, is nonetheless concerned with solutions. And implementing them. This is where my heart is. This is my particular passion.
Or it will be again, as soon as I stop obsessing about the beatdown I wish — so desperately — that I could have administered to the piece of shit (and his laughing companion) who would have kicked — and may, in fact, have kicked, a man while he was down — literally and figuratively. Because at the risk of stereotyping SOME MORE I am relatively certain that I can fill in some of tonight’s blanks with “There, but for the absence of ninja skills went I,” and “There, but for the absence of ass-whippings, went they.”
But for my lack of relevant skills and/or physical presence, I am absolutely the right person to fight people who fight homeless people.
“Thank you for anything or nothing.”
If it’s the thought that counts, I’m pretty much alright, although I do believe that thoughts (like words) without deeds are meaningless. When I reflect upon numerous actions and courses of events in my past, I comfort myself with the notion that I have always done the best I could do with the information and resources I have possessed at any given time. I trust my heart — always, to be in the right place. I hope it somehow shows. Even when words and deeds fail. But not dreams…
I will dream tonight of fighting people who fight homeless people. Be sure, beloved readers, that I shall emerge victorious.
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Dear Stupid Drunk Asshole Who Is Visiting The People Downstairs:
There is a reason I live at the top of the tower. Not just so I might gaze benevolently downward from the balcony of my lair upon the comings and goings of the populace under my protection whilst enjoying a magical beverage and pondering the mysteries of the universe, but also so I will not be disturbed. And I was not. That is, until you and some of your buddies came to visit, and I awakened to your fucking terrible karaoke rendition of “Kryptonite” at eight-goddamned-thirty this morning. Why are you even here? I thought those classy gals downstairs were lesbians! If they weren’t, they for damn sure will be by the time you leave. As I sit here, listening to you repeatedly yell the word “CHUG” interspersed with “WOOOOs!” (and that following your querulous musings on “fat chicks” and your need to “hit the gym” after the holidays) I, too, am considering the lesbian path. That is how stupid you are, and how much you discredit your entire gender.
I had occasion to note and marvel that your outside voice doesn’t at all match your inside voice when you interrupted my evening reverie to have a heart to heart convo with your buddy on the balcony. Inside, where the “chicks” are, you turn the bass waaaay up. Outside with your buddy, you’re all treble, and everything you say ends with a question mark. Interesting. Remember this little tête-à-tête? I do.
You: Man, what’s the deal with all those chicks getting fatter? It’s like all the time, every time you see some. It’s like…what? I don’t know?
Buddy: Shhh, man, stop! Haha! Seriously, look at me, man — haha, look at you!
You: I can’t stand fat chicks, man? It’s like, what are you supposed to do?
Buddy: Yeah, what can you do, man? I know I need to hit the gym…
You: I don’t know? It’s like, different in the summer? You know, when I wear like shirts and polos and stuff? Not like a hoodie or sweater? You know how it is around the holiday? Moms all like preparing the feast? I need to hit that gym up? It’s like I shed my winter coat?
Your heart to heart convo was interrupted at that point — not only by my brain throwing up, but by some other asshole opening the door and screaming “Beer PONNNNGG!” to which you both responded in (bass) unison with “OHHHHH!” which, of course, was echoed by the army of fat(ter?) chicks, and possibly some lesbians (who were certainly not fat the last time I saw them, though I suppose that is subjective — especially if you are a stupid asshole) and certainly some more assholes inside.
I don’t need to tell you how many things were wrong with that conversation, beginning with every single thing you said and the tone you said it in, and ending with all those fucking question marks, but I CAN solve the mystery of what you are supposed to do and/or what you can do with all of those fat (possibly partially lesbian) chicks, and that is pray. Pray to the gods that one or many of them become drunk enough to forsake the lesbian path, or the path of…having any sort of standards whatsoever, and shut you the fuck up for a minute or two by giving you something to do with your stupid mouth besides question-talk, or yell, or chug — or even worse, sing. Christ. None of y’all can sing worth a shit.
Pray that one or more of those chicks become blind drunk enough to overlook the “winter coat” you’ve yet to shed in anticipation of the coming days of “shirts and polos?” (stupid) and/or your too-close-together eyes (Yes, I saw you. That was me you almost knocked backwards down the stairs to the parking lot earlier with your case of Natty Light, asshole) and teaches you what you’re “supposed to do” — what you should PRAY TO THE GODS for a chance to someday do for ANY WOMAN who has the grace and wherewithal to tolerate your company for five goddamned minutes, much less going on 14 hours. This is how you grow. And become useful. If the gods and/or womankind be merciful.
Alas, I am not so merciful. And I say to you now that an ocean of Natty Light is not sufficient to douse the flames of my fury if y’all keep fucking around down there in your mosh pit and knock my irreplaceable mosaic mirror off the wall. My Wondertwin bought me that, and there will be hell to pay if any harm befalls it OR the classy gals who used to inhabit the apartment downstairs. I will kick your door in and I will fight you. And then I will staple this letter to your shirt so your “Moms” will know what a stupid, drunk asshole you have been when you get home. Settle down.
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TRAFFIC LIGHT DISABLED FOR 1.5 DAYS, HUNDREDS NEARLY KILLED
Roanoke, VA: According to a frequent traveler of a busy intersection at Orange Avenue and Gainsboro, a traffic light outage in the wake of a recent flood spanning a terrifying one-and-a-half days nearly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of motorists.
“It was like something out of a nightmare,” the traveler reports. “What do you do when a traffic light is out? You stop, right?! Normal 4-way-stop rules apply, right?!! WRONG. These motherfuckers are crazy.”
Reporters on the scene observed that the complete and utter bafflement on the faces of many motorists was superseded only by the incomprehensible fury of the majority, who could not bear to stop long enough to consider whether it was their turn to go.
“Why is it always the guy making a left-hand turn that thinks he gets to go?” a commuter laments. “I mean, he’s the LAST guy who gets to go – but there he goes! Nevermind that there are people already driving straight across.”
“OH, SHUT UP!” the commuter yells at the motorist beeping their horn behind her. “I can’t fucking go right now! How do you not see that it is impossible for me to go right now?!”
“It’s not my turn, ” she explains, “The person in the other lane stopped first. Unreal.”
Or very real. According to psychologists, cognitive impairment is common in times of crises, and the ability to reason is the first thing to go in the event of catastrophes of this magnitude. Survival instinct, including but not limited to the irrepressible need for immediate purchase and consumption of MTO sandwiches and sundries at the newly renovated Sheetz at the corner of Orange and Williamson, trumps logic. Experts agree that only the most disciplined minds can maintain the ability to determine whose turn it is to go during traffic light malfunctions.
“Ain’t nobody tryna commit no vehicular manslaughter,” an extremely frustrated motorist is heard screaming into her cellphone, “But why they ain’t let me go? Ima go!” she exclaims, stomping the gas and causing the near-death of the driver who actually had the right of way.
“Oh, it was definitely my turn,” the driver with the right of way responded, “but it didn’t matter. Because Ford Expedition didn’t understand that it wasn’t her turn. So she just stops in the middle of the intersection and starts waving her hands around like a crazy person. Well, one hand. She had her cellphone in the other hand yelling something about vehicular manslaughter.”
“Maybe it just looked crazier because her fingernails were like 4 inches long and curved like talons. How did she dial her phone? I’m just saying, I let her go. The people behind me were going off, but hey — better to be late than carved up with one of those talons. Those things could snag you on the drive-by.”
Sometime during the 5:00 rush hour, local police, in response to reports of unprecedented near-fatalities, dispatched a uniformed officer to direct the traffic at this busy intersection.
“It mighta helped some,” a motorist reports. “I mean, I guess. I tried I mean, I think somebody mighta tried to run his ass over. ‘Cause it was my they turn to go. I mean, why he didn’t know? But, hey, that’s the chance they take, you know what I mean? You gotta pay the cost to be the boss. I’m just sayin’. Occupational hazards and shit.”
Apparently too hazardous to repeat, reporters noted, considering the city replaced the uniformed officer with makeshift stop signs the following day, which clearly created more confusion than having no one or nothing there at all. It is unknown whether the officer fell victim to motorist confusion/rage, or if he had, like, other/more important things to do than prevent thousands of near-fatalities at this treacherous intersection.
“The second day was worse than the first,” a motorist reports, “I would say the percentage increase in the number of near-deaths was directly proportionate to the percentage increase in placement of makeshift stop signs. One time I was heading toward Vinton and saw a Sheetz employee with a can of spraypaint turning the “T” into an “H” and adding “at Sheetz” with an arrow pointing toward the store. Then another time when I was going toward Melrose, I observed another person shoot a sign on their way to Sheetz. That sorta stuff definitely drives up the near-death stats.”
Department of Transportation technicians had the signal repaired by noon on the second day.
“We apologize for the thousands of near-deaths that occurred over the course of the past one-and-a-half days,” a local highway official stated. Our technicians have been working around the clock to repair outages created by recent flooding. We saved this one for last, since we fully expected to nearly-die here, and we need every tech to combat the outages predicted to occur in the wake of the next storm.”
Sheetz officials could not be reached for comment.
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Dear Road Raging Douchebags Who Lay On The Horn The Second The Light Turns Green:
Ohhh, I’m sorry — am I holding you up by not killing these pedestrians? Settle down a little bit! I KNOW the light is green, but I can’t exactly GO when the sign clearly says turning vehicles must yield to foot traffic, can I?! Look at that old lady — not even halfway across and trying her damnedest to get to Yarn World, or whatever has moved into that building across the street. What is wrong with you? I am pretty sure you are the reason they had to put up that sign, since the rest of us learned in high school driver’s ed that pedestrians have the right of way. If you mow people down in a crosswalk so you can get to wherever you’re going (i.e. Starbucks) twenty seconds sooner than you might have by sparing lives, can you really expect a jury of your peers to consider that involuntary manslaughter? No, you can’t. You are a douchebag. Also — You. Need. Anger. Management. Oh, hey — speaking of Starbucks:
Dear People at Starbucks with Laptops:
Hey, wow – I can’t help but notice that you are annoyed, seeing how you’ve made it so blatantly obvious ever since that empty sugar packet drifted to the floor and broke your concentration/ruined your life. I’m so sorry to interrupt your work on the Great American Novel (or whatever the fuck you’re doing on your laptop) with my coffee shop patronage. Believe me, I wouldn’t even be here it if my companion didn’t consider it the most special of special treats. Not to worry — that is one of the beliefs I covertly attempt to change while overtly attempting to change the ones that brought them to me in the first place. After all, it’s just coffee. And I’ve had better.
“That’s what she said.” – Michael Scott
Anyway, Laptoppers, my point is that if your “work” is at such a crucial stage that it can bear no interruption, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing your “work” in a COFFEESHOP. Go home! Or go to the library, where everybody has to be quiet or they get in trouble. Is the library not hip enough for you? Might you not get noticed there? Hey, I get it. There’s no point in being a writer if there’s nobody to watch you do it. But I betcha that homeless guy at the library will notice you. Even if only to note that his computer is waaayy cooler than yours. And he is further along with his book.
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