catchphrase

Prompt: Word/phrase you use constantly

I honestly cannot think of one that is unique to me on this. In casual conversation, I don’t think my speech is drastically different from that of my peers. For the blog, I tend to write in a pretty stream-of-conscious style, so my writing is a pretty good indication of my speaking style.

I do have what some have termed a “reader’s vocabulary,” which is when I know a plethora of words, but my pronunciation isn’t always on par. It can make for some amusing conversational errors. Well, amusing to other people. Usually just kind of embarrassing to me, though I manage to scramble up a stiff smile in the moment and learn to laugh at the incident later.

I think it’s probably always embarrassing for someone to be loudly called out on a pronunciation error in the midst of a group, though, regardless of whether it’s their first language or their second or third. It’s just rather rude. I don’t mind a gentle correction–I know I can mispronounce certain words–but I do hate when someone loudly says, “X?! Did you just say X?! It’s pronounced ‘x’, you know,” so that the flow of the conversation is interrupted and everyone’s attention is drawn to the error. Plus, I’ve had regional variation/ accent differences corrected, and that’s just … lame.

Anywho, so I can’t really think of a word/ phrase I use constantly. I guess maybe awesome possum? I’ve been known to say that more than a couple times a year. More than a couple times a month, ha. Possibly amazepants. Also, every variation that “fuck” can be used in: fuckwit, fuckpants, fuckity fuck, fucker, fuckwad, fuckweed, douchefuck, fucknugget, fucknog, etc. etc.– You get the point.

Also, because I was raised in a non-swearing home, I will do this thing where I randomly switch mid-conversation (sometimes mid-sentence) between my swearing and not-swearing vocabularies for some reason, so it’s entirely feasible to hear something like, “Holy geez, she’s a total fucking b, I can’t even–” or, “Jumping jehosaphats, that’s fucking crazy.”

I don’t know where I picked up the old-fashioned idiom jumping jehosaphats, but I’m going to assume it was something along the lines of Huck Finn, Anne of Green Gables, or Caddie Woodlawn. Regardless, it became a part of my swear-substitution vocabulary, along with the old standbys like, geez, golly, gosh, frig, freak, B, witch, darn, crap, crud, heck, and shucks. There are other old-fashioned idioms that occasionally pop up, too, like what in tarnation. 

Oh, and my parents always spoke German when they were having private conversations around the the house, and sometimes if my mom was really frustrated because we’d been asking her over and over (and over) for permission to do the same thing, she’d say, “Bitte! Bitte, bitte, bitte,” which apparently means, “you’re welcome,” in German, but in the context mom was using it was roughly translated to mean, “You’re welcome to do whatever you want, since you’re either going to bother me until I give you permission or do it anyway.”

Sometimes I accidentally drop a smattering of German into my everyday speech–words like, bitte, or danke (sometimes danke schoen), or Nicht anfassen (heard that one a lot as a kid). The problem with that is I live in an area with a fairly high German immigrant population, and I don’t actually speak German, so this is a bad habit to have. Occasionally  (about once a year) some old German lady gets really excited and begins to babble at me in German, and I have to go, “Nein, nein, Nicht sprechen sie Deutsch,” while waving my hands in frantic negating apology.

my town

Generally not a fan of country music, but there’s this one country song that resonates with me–echoes through my head as I drive the familiar roads of my hometown.

This is my town

where I was born, where I was raised

where I keep all my yesterdays

Where I ran off, ’cause I got mad, and it came to blows with my old man

Where I came back to settle down, it’s where they’ll put me in the ground

This is my town

(my town–montgomery gentry)

I wasn’t born here. I was actually born overseas in a military hospital. But I was raised here. I say “town,” but really I guess I mean “towns,” because the city I was raised in officially only has a population around 45,000 or so, but the boundaries bleed together with two other towns so the combined population of all three is 111,500. This is my town.

My town is linked by an Intercity Transit System–a bus route that will take me all the way from one end to the other. There is a train station, two bus stations, an historic downtown shopping area,  an awesome comic book shop, two Costcos, two Fred Meyers, six Safeways, and (collectively) about 30 other grocery stores–co-ops and local chains and market stalls and whatnot. There are the usual big box-store shopping options, a mall, a now-thriving shopping center that used to be a dead mall.

When I was a kid, the mall–the one that’s still functioning– used to host this Christmas/ Holiday village or train every December. It was really cool. They’d set up a series of train cars or a village row along the hallway, and the kids could go through the little rooms doing different crafts. Volunteers dressed in elf costumes would sort of guide/ corral the throng, and there was a table for gift wrapping.

I guess it was free, or very low cost, because I remember my parents taking us every year. We’d make things like cotton ball snowmen and paper snowflakes and foam-cutout ornaments, and at the end we could get a picture taken with Santa at the Sears studio setup (that did cost something–my parents never did that part). They don’t do that any more. I don’t know why– maybe because for a while there in the 90’s, the mall was trying to rebrand and be all cool and updated and a lot of their community involvement seemed to go by the wayside during that time? Changed their signage, tried to get everyone to call it something something shopping center, I dunno. We all just kept calling it Capital Mall, like always. Recently I noticed they have the old signage back up, from the 80s.

There are approximately 30ish elementary schools, and about 20ish middle and high schools (combined), and three colleges–one community, one public, and one private. There’s a ridiculous amount of churches. Someone once told me–I don’t know if this is true or not–that Washington has the most amount of church buildings per square capita in the United States, but the lowest church attendance. If true, it’s certainly amusing.

There are two hospitals. Soon to be three. Six funeral homes. Two public cemeteries and one (possibly two) private/ religious ones, that I’m aware of. Technically, each of the three cities has a separate police force, and there’s also a county sheriff’s office, as well as the Washington State Patrol. So  I guess we actually have five separate police precincts in the area. For most of my life, it’s felt like a safe and generally crime-free area.

Growing up, I used to sneak out of my bedroom window late at night and walk around the neighborhood. I wasn’t up to anything, I just couldn’t sleep and felt restless. I lived in a split level suburban house, in a neighborhood that was pretty evenly divided between owned and rented homes. Down the street was an elementary school, and up the way was a public park and the post office. The neighborhood had no street lamps to speak of (still doesn’t); no light pollution to drown out the stars. I would walk in the cool dark night, alone and unafraid.

In high school, most days I walked home– 2.7 miles, stopping at the library on the way home. I could’ve ridden the bus, but I hated the bus and I like walking. So I walked instead.

Foolish, I guess.

There have been several rapes and sexual assaults reported on trails in the area over the past year or so.

They are on trails I used to walk on. Trails I used to rollerblade on. I used to rollerblade at night with a friend, from our neighborhood to the state capital campus and back home again, for hours and hours in the summer nights; unconcerned by the darkness or presence of strangers.

The other night my husband and I went downtown for a #blacklivesmatter rally. Neo nazis lined up in opposition, trying to drown out our solidarity by screaming invective and hate. Several others milled about, trying to simultaneously distance themselves from the neo nazis and convince us to discard the #blacklivesmatter movement because #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter. It was an impossible argument to make.

I feel like, when your allies are neo nazis, you should re-examine your position. Maybe consider the somewhat confrontational and uncomfortable notion that you don’t actually have all the information and historical context you think you do.

I remember when I was 17 or so, my older sister taking me downtown for a concert or something … I was supposed to be her chaperone, ha. She wore a long sweater over opaque tights, like a minidress, and lent me her button-down brown leather skirt, which I wore with a cream crop top. So 90s. There as an alt band playing, something in the vein of Sleater Kinney grunge. The door was black with stickers on it, and the air smelled like weed and cigarettes–both of which I smoked back then, although I pretended not to, around my family. The crowd was too noisy for me, and when my sister found her date, I bummed a smoke from a stranger in the crowd and slipped out the door to stand in the alley, which was quiet and smelled like weed. I’ve never been a fan of concerts or live music.

The downtown core was littered with used needles. There have always been drugs in downtown, but I swear the drugs are different now. When I was 18/19, I lived downtown for a while, as part of the drifting/ homeless scene, while I dated one of the downtowners. Harder drugs were available, and a lot of my friends used them (I stuck with weed and cigarettes), but mostly I recall people being into weed, hallucinogens, and maybe a little cocaine. I never tried anything like that–cocaine, heroin–completely off-limits to me. D.A.R.E. had well and truly frightened me with their narrative of the one-time-use addictive properties. I can’t even recall meth. It must have been on the scene, by then, but I just don’t remember it.

Today weed is legal, which is good, and (ironically) I no longer use it. I’m generally pro-drug legalization, as I believe in taxation and regulation. When I walk through downtown, the smell of weed no longer seems to permeate each alley and doorway–probably because, as part of the legalization process, restrictions were placed on public usage, but there are used needles everywhere. I guess we must not have well-funded needle exchange program.

I feel tired.

There was a shooting in my neighborhood in June. Three people were killed. There was another shooting in downtown in July, over a traffic disagreement–a pedestrian and a motorist disagreed about right-of-way, and the motorist shot the pedestrian, then drove away and called 911. The pedestrian is in critical condition at the hospital.

Side note–the disagreement started when the motorist allegedly violated the pedestrian’s crossing space, and the pedestrian slapped the car hood, then used their skateboard in anger and slammed it against the motorists’ vehicle, causing the driver’s side window to shatter. While I admit this would be frightening (having been inside a car in the driver’s seat when an abusive ex kicked the window of the car in on my face), I would also point out that the motorist was still able to drive away from the scene, as evidenced by them doing just that moments later. 

The shooting was unnecessary–they were inside a steel cage of a vehicle powered by gasoline. The pedestrian was, well, pedestrian. A year ago, a police officer in the city used a similar defense (felt threatened by a skateboard) to justify shooting a black youth in the back. Skateboards: A real threat.

There was a quadruple shooting in a home of one of our towns in July. The officer on the scene said it was the first such shooting in the town’s history.

Apparently, 2012 public records showed about 10 percent (rounding up) of adults in this county having a concealed carry permit. That’s a lot of guns. Pew surveys show that most Americans who own weapons, own multiples.

I think about that, when my son goes to a friends house. I think about the news story about the kids on the military base just a year or so ago, about my sons age–around 12-16–and they were goofing off, playing in a field. One of them had found their dad’s handgun, and the familiar story played out.

There was a shooting at my old high school in 2015. My nephew will go to that school. My son practices drills at school, in case a disgruntled classmate brings a parents’ gun to school and tries to kill his classmates and teachers. In the past four years, he’s been sent home three separate times because of gun threats to the school.

My brother owns guns. He doesn’t speak to me for unrelated reasons. Sometimes I wonder if the next time we hear about each other will be a news article about a school shooting where one of us has lost a child, or a mass shooter at his place of work, or someone going road-rage on me and shooting me while I’m riding my motorcycle.

It’s weird to live so close to someone, and be so far apart.

It feels like a metaphor, almost, for the town. Like all my yesterdays are laid out in landmarks, mapped out close to the touch in happy memories across this beautiful place with its awesome parks and trails and libraries and shopping and everything I love … but then, there are also used needles and a growing white supremacist movement. There’s a subtle racism I didn’t really notice when I was growing up, because, well, I’m white. There’s a disturbing amount of unsecured guns. There are school shootings and threats. There’s classism and unemployment and homelessness, and all these other awful things I hate, things tainting my adoration of this place. Things that make me feel far apart from the community, things that make me want to scream for the pain of it.

I’m furious at the inequalities inherent in the system. I want to scream, because trying to engage with the status quo is so frustrating–the business owners, the politicians, the community members. Trying to support and fund actionable, research-based solutions to systemic institutional inequalities is seen as unfair–“welfare,” “rewarding laziness,” “encouraging drug use,” “affirmative action,” “harmful to small business owners,” “unconstitutional,” and their just interested in preserving their financial security and social privilege.

 

things you’d like to say

Prompt: Things you’d like to say to an ex

Honestly? I am not in contact with any of my ex’s, and I can’t really think of anything I’d say if I ran into one of them. Most of them were just high school flings, barely memorable. One is dead, shot in a hunting accident. The last boyfriend I had before John was a toxic and abusive relationship, and the only thing I’d say to that guy if I ran into him would be, “Oh, no. I can’t talk,” and then walk away very quickly.

These days, it seems to be a very popular notion to remain friends with one’s ex’s. I don’t really get that. Unless you have kids or work together, it just doesn’t seem like the wisest plan. I mean, in those two specific scenarios, you have to at least stay civil, obviously … but outside of those two situations, I just don’t understand all the pressure people seem to feel to be friends with an ex.

Like, yeah, sure, I’m sure there are those occasional relationships where two people are like, “Ya know, we just don’t work as a couple. How about we remove the sex and try it as friends?” and that actually works for them, and that’s fine!

But I think–mostly from observation, granted, because my sex-boyfriends-exes-trying-to-be-friends-phase was pretty brief and from basically 17-20 (add two years if oral sex counts)–that most of the time people become ex’s for a reason, and that it’s just way too complicated to try and remove sex but stay friends. There are too many feelings and weird dynamics and emotions and jealousies, and it’s all uncomfortable. Then it becomes like a weird power-play dynamic if you try to acknowledge or discuss them, with all the attendant misread signals/ expectations and the humiliation and rejection, and it usually seems that there’s ultimately a second breakup, anyway–the “friend” breakup, or the friend fade.

It’s just better to end things with an ex as cleanly as possible and be like, “Okay, well that was a life lesson learned, and now we move on.”

 

 

one, two, three, four

Prompt: Four weird traits you have

Can people even really assess their own weird traits? I don’t think they can. I think most of us are oblivious to our truly weird traits. Still, I’ll try. I can think of at least one I’ve been informed of by others … I’ll try to think of more.

ONE.

A few years ago, I was told by several friend/ coworkers that it is weird that I use the overtype/ insert key to edit on the fly. I explained that it’s not at all weird, it’s efficient–that I am skim-reading the previous paragraph as I’m typing the next one, and it’s just faster to use the insert to dart back and make corrections than it is to use the backspace or delete buttons. One of the group said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed you doing that, too, and that’s not just weird, that’s straight-up unnatural. Nobody edits while they type.”

I disagree. Obviously, there are plenty of people out there who use the insert key: Why else would it exist? However, it’s clearly an unusual enough behavior that my habit had drawn attention and remark from others. It was, in a word, weird.

So that’s weird behavior number one.

TWO.

I haven’t exactly been told noticing qualifiers in colloquial speech and finding them situationally funny is weird, but from the way people react when I giggle at them or point them out, I think it might be.

For example, my mom once wrote me a letter with the lines,

I love you because you are you. You are bubbly and enthusiastic and you can be kind and compassionate. 

This always make me snicker. I mean, it’s really sweet and I love it, but it also makes me grin every time I read it.

If you think it’s funny, then you get me. If you don’t then … yeah, you probably think I’m weird to be laughing at something like that.

THREE.

Interpreting hypothetical scenario questions to the most extreme example.

Again, I don’t think this is necessarily “weird” so much as “fun mental exercise“. However, it quickly goes from “fun mental exercise” to “bad habit” and “weird” when you’re in serious pain at the hospital and the nurse asks you, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your pain right now?”

“What’s a 10?” you whimper.

“The worst pain imaginable,” she says.

Well. The worst pain imaginable? Geez. I’ve only given birth and been in a motorcycle accident. On balance, those aren’t actually that bad. I mean, I’ve never been flayed alive, or tarred and feathered, or had boiling oil poured on me, or been waterboarded for 48 hours straight, or had sharpened poison sticks driven through my flesh, or had a limb amputated without any sort of pain management, or been mauled by a shark or a bear or a wild pig … no, on balance, I’ve actually lived a pretty comfortable life.

“Two,” I whimper, curled around the spiking agony in my abdomen. The nurse straightened, looking relieved and little disgusted at my noises of pain.

My husband, standing nearby and knowing how both my mind and body works, looks exasperated. “She means the worst pain you’ve actually experienced,” he translates.

“Ooooh,” I say. “Well, then, seven.”

FOUR. 

After consulting with my friend DJ, we decided I am a weird cat owner. Apparently when my cats climb into my lap and I then lift them upright and hold out their upper legs and give them a “voice” so they can hold forth with opinions on various household goings-on, that is not normal cat-ownership behavior. She also said most cat owners do not do the pull-squish of, “my mommy pulled my braids too tight/ I ate too much spaghetti,” to their cats’ face. So. Yeah.

Weird cat owner, here.

 

 

 

 

something

Prompt: something you miss

Brownie Bear.

When I was little, I got Brownie Bear for Christmas. My kid sister, who I shared a room with, received an identical bear, except for it was a very light pink. She did not name hers Pinkie Bear. Somewhat more creatively, she named it Sunshine.

They were massive bears. In the photographs of us the Christmas we received them, they are almost as large as we are–my arms are wrapped around Brownie’s midsection, hugging him tight, and I am beaming over his head, my chin digging into the soft space between his ears. His feet dangle just above mine. He is wearing a bright red calico dress with white flowers.

Brownie Bear became an installation, an auxiliary pillow on my bed. He had stars in his eyes–literally. I used sparkly stars from one of those Lisa Frank sticker sets to put stars in his eyes. When I moved bedrooms, he came with me. When I went to college, he came with, carelessly packed and tossed forgotten on the floor at the foot of my bed. When I had a medical emergency and came home, Brownie Bear was there, stuffed in the bottom of my luggage. When I went to the psychiatric ward for medication readjustment, my mom brought the comforter from my bedroom and Brownie Bear to make the hospital room feel more like home.

When I met and married John, Brownie Bear came with us. He mostly stayed in a suitcase, because we moved pretty frequently those first few years. After we moved into our first house, Brownie Bear came out of storage and was placed, initially, on our sons bed. Then he migrated to the living room, and sort of became a family bear/ living room pillow.

Then the 2007 flood happened, and Brownie Bear was on the floor when we evacuated. We didn’t actually think the house would flood … it hadn’t flooded in something like 75 years, and it was raised 18 inches off the ground. It wasn’t even supposed to be that bad of a flood, but then the dam in a nearby river broke and it just went to hell.

Anyway, flood water is pretty toxic stuff. Its not just the rain and river water–it’s oil and sewage and garbage and just all manner of grossness. Really awful sludge to have in your house. Access into town was limited even in the best of times, and in the aftermath of the flood the roads were a) flooded, b) closed because they were flooded, and c) manned by patrols making sure idiots didn’t try to drive through the closed, flooded streets.

So we had to wait a few days after the flood to get in and check on our hour, which meant a few days that Brownie Bear laid on the floor in that garbage flood soup.

Needless to say, there’s no rescuing that. I bid him a sad farewell. I couldn’t even give him a last hug goodbye.

 

that guy

Prompt: A family member you dislike

Ahaha haha ha … there’s only one person in my family I really dislike. That guy.

Ah, that guy.

I’ve known him for 18 years. The last time I saw him was, what, 7 years ago? I think? I expect the next time I’ll see him will be at a family funeral or wedding. I actually kind of avoid a lot of extended family gatherings, knowing he’ll probably be there. I mean, it’s not the sole reason, but it’s definitely in the top 10–under travel costs and lodging concerns and vacation time and I don’t like to travel alone.

I started to write out this long entry detailing my interactions with that guy over the years–I seriously cannot think of one positive interaction I’ve ever had with him–but it just made me sad and angry. It was super depressing because whenever he pops up in my life, he’s just this unremittingly awful presence, and I prefer not to think about him at all because it’s so negative.

It’s funny. I imagine from the perspective of that guy things probably look very different. I’ve heard versions of his perspective, relayed third-party from people who spend more time with them; from his wife; from my own interactions and conversations with him. I can layer the different slices of story on top of one another, like variously-colored slides of a photograph, and get an idea of his worldview. The way he sees things, the way he see me.

FB_IMG_1464034541051

Let’s just say, we definitely see the world through different lenses. I suspect he thinks I am too opinionated, too angry, too unwilling to follow the wisdom of those I should–like the church elders, or priesthood leaders. Like him.

Actually, I don’t think he’s necessarily alone in that opinion. I get the impression a lot of people wish I would be less … vocal. That I would set fewer “politically correct” boundaries on behavior, or be willing to let more “silly” offenses slide. That I would be more conciliatory, more passive. That I be more ladylike, I guess.

Anyway, I think it’s fascinating, because all my slices of that guy are bad. Like, every single one. His conversation is dull, his worldview his offensive, his jokes are dumb, and his advice is just … ugh. Do the opposite. I honestly do not understand how anyone can stand to be around him for more than 15 minutes voluntarily, and haven’t since the first time I met him.

But for someone else, he’s got redeeming qualities that make him worth loving. For someone else, the good outweighs the bad on a regular basis. There are people who like him, love him, and even respect him. think he’s an awful joke of a human being, but there are people who think he’s pretty cool.

What’s interesting to think about is that I’m that person to someone out there. We all are. I think that’s kind of fascinating. Like, my husband and my best friend and my son and my loved ones might think I’m pretty cool. They enjoy spending time with me. They think my goods outweigh my bads.

But there is probably someone out there who could write up an entry detailing every single interaction they’ve had with me, and each entry would be, “Man she is such a bitch. I hate her face.”

Don’t believe me? Check out Mother Teresa. She is both loved and reviled–seriously. Even Ghandi has his detractors, people who are all like, “Yeah, Ghandi’s cool and all … but did you hear what a dick he was to his wife?”

good morning!

Prompt: Your morning routine.

So, here’s a secret–I’m actually filling these prompts out in advance, and scheduling the entries with my scheduling tool. Neat, huh? Anyway, this entry was written on May 20, when school was still in session. That means a typical weekday morning looked like this:

7:00 a.m.     Alarm goes off

7:01 a.m.     Having fumbled at my bedside table, knocked my phone onto the floor, and located it, I turn my alarm off.

7:05 a.m.     If it is a particularly bad morning, I discover I actually only turned it to snooze.

7:25 a.m.     I shoot upright in bed, grab my phone to check the time, and breath a sigh of relief that it’s still before 8:00 in the morning. Also, thank god it’s spring and the sun is rising at a rational hour, which means it’s waking me up. I wish school ran year ’round. Sometimes John is already awake and playing on his phone. Sometimes he has slept through the sunshine and my multiple alarms and fumblings.

7:30 a.m.     I open the door to my son’s room and say, “Wakey, wakey, lemon snakey!” or, if I’m in a less convivial mood, “Kiddo. Get up.” For some reason, the sound of my voice rouses him in a way his alarm clock never has. Perhaps we should record my voice and use that as his alarm.

7:35 a.m.     While my son blinks himself awake, stretches, and checks his phone under the covers, I let his dog out to go pee and toss yesterday’s coffee grounds. Before I can add the water to the pot for today’s coffee, the dog is already pawing at the door. I look to my son’s room, but there is no movement. Some mornings he will let the dog in first, but most mornings I do. I call my son’s name as I walk to the sliding door. He calls back, “I know, I know.”

7:37 a.m.    As I grind the coffee beans and add them to the pot, my son uses the restroom and feeds the dog. I start the coffee brewing, then turn to his breakfast. Some mornings I pour him a bowl of cereal and cut up fresh fruit on top, if we have it. Some mornings I make a protein-heavy breakfast of sausage and eggs. I set out his ADHD medication and a glass of juice. He comes into the kitchen at the tail end of the preparations and watches me, sleepy-eyed. I hug him one-armed and drop a kiss on his forehead, tell him I love him.

7:40 a.m.    We head to the living room, where he eats breakfast while reading on his phone as he sits at the low coffee table in front of the couch, and I curl up in the corner of the couch to scroll through reddit and FB while I drink coffee … or I just curl up in the corner of the couch and drowse. The dog finishes eating and interrupts Kiddo, wanting to be let out.

7:41 a.m.     The dog wants back in.

7:43 a.m.     The dog wants back out.

7:45 a.m.     The dog wants back in.

7:47 a.m.     The dog wants back out, but this time we tell it no. It pads to the back bedroom to snuffle at John’s face. Kiddo finishes his breakfast and goes back to his bedroom.

7:58 a.m.    It suddenly occurs to me that I haven’t heard any movement-type noises indicating “getting ready” for ten minutes or so. I either text or call out to Kiddo, depending on how bad my morning headache is. He promises he will come start his morning chores at exactly 8:05.

8:00 a.m.    John pads out from the bedroom, accompanied by the dogs. If I already poured the coffees, he heats up his by-now-cooled-mug. If I have just been lazily drowsing on the couch coffee-less, he pours me a mug and checks to see if I’ve taken my medicine.

8:05 a.m.     Kiddo comes out and begins to unload the dishwasher, as promised. When he finishes, he flosses and brushes his teeth and changes his shirt.

8:10 – 8:45 a.m.     Laziness and quiet. Browsing on the internets. Then Kiddo grabs his pre-packed backpack and leaves for the bus stop so he can catch the bus, which apparently arrives at 8:55.

 ~*~

In the summer, our morning routines involve sleeping in sometimes and waking up super early sometimes. Sometimes we go crabbing and sometimes we go clamming. Sometimes we go to yard sales and sometimes we go on motorbike rides. Sometimes we stay inside and veg while drinking coffee and staring at the internet screens.

zodiac blah blah blah

Prompt: Your zodiac/ horoscope and whether you think it fits you.

I’m an Aquarius. According to Google, traits range from truthfulness, just, curious, affectionate personality, frank and imaginative to “negative qualities” such as unpredictable, detached, tendency to go off-track, and inefficient.

It also provides possible health concerns–apparently I must be very careful of any kind of addiction. I find that mildly hilarious.

On the Chinese Zodiac, I’m born in the year of the goat or ram or some such bullshit. Traits run the gamut of calm, gentle, creative, thoughtful, amicable, persevering, frank, and honest.

If I recall correctly, my blood type is O positive, which is what the Japanese use for fortune telling, so if we’re doing a prompt based on random bullshitty coincidental information … apparently my blood type means I am socially active, glib, and curious.

So, there you go. To recap:

  • Truthfulness
  • Just
  • Curious (x2)
  • Affectionate personality
  • Frank (x2)
  • Imaginative
  • Unpredictable
  • Detached
  • Tendency to go off track
  • Inefficient
  • Potential addict
  • Calm
  • Gentle
  • Creative
  • Thoughtful
  • Amicable
  • Persevering
  • Honest
  • Socially active
  • Glib

“Frank” has come up twice, so I guess that’s my new name. Notice how neither of these descriptions say that I’m rude or hot tempered, and the flowery praise bits are not only pretty inaccurate/ hit and miss, they completely neglect to mention “skeptical”?

No, I don’t think it fits. Not exactly. I mean, it does and it doesn’t–the pieces that fit only fit because of confirmation bias. Think about it: The entire list is nice traits. Even the so-called negative traits.

There aren’t negative traits like, “self-absorbed,” or “narcissistic,” or “borderline sociopath,” or “serial killer in the making,” or “born under the murder moon RUN RUN RUN.”

These are all traits you associate with creative artists and geniuses. These are traits that popular culture holds up as laudable, overall. Oh, this person is so detached and unpredictable. They have a tendency to go off track and do crazy things. Even inefficient is a term that sounds almost … artsy. And it’s so vague! Who, at some point, hasn’t complained about how they’re wasting time, or procrastinating. It applies to, like, everyone.

So, yeah. I mean, sure, some of the traits may apply to my personality at times. But this astrology bullshit irritates me almost as much as religious voodoo.

Shuffle Prompt

Prompt: Put your music player on shuffle and put the first three songs that play and what your initial thought is.

Song 1: Girls Want Rock, Free Energy

I think this was a free Google download. It reminds me of something … like that 90s movie Can’t Hardly Wait, or one of the songs from Clueless or something. It’s peppy and upbeat that way. Right now it’s doing this line, “She’s in love-love-love (video style)” that kinda reminds me of the film Shrek. Anyway, it’s an upbeat song that reminds me of a lot of the fun films of my teen years.

Song 2: Young and Beautiful, Lana Del Rey

I always feel kind of sad when I listen to this song, but it’s a sweet and achey sort of sadness. I already feel like I’m no longer “young and beautiful.” It’s funny how relative it all is, you know? I’ve seen pictures of my mom at 36. She had four kids by then, and she looked tired and worn out. My brother leans against her side, and she holds me in her pink-suited lap, a frozen smile fixed on her face. Compared to her at the same age, only a generation later, my skin is smoother and tauter; younger and springier. I am a little heavier, but there are fewer stress lines. We are the same age in photographs, but I am younger. You go back in the photographs, and people get older the further back you go. It gets harder to guess their ages. Exposure to the sun and wind, poor diet, all that sort of thing … after awhile, you start thinking, “Hmmm, 27?” and you turn over the photograph and are surprised to see it marked as an 18 year old. The women in their 30s look like what you would imagine a woman in her 40s or 50s to look like. It’s crazy.

Song 3: Stronger, Kanye West

Ah, gods, this is embarrassing. Just, I don’t even … it was a different time. I dunno. Can I get a do-over? Do-over? Lets do a do-over.

Song 3: Self-Preservation, The Lucksmiths

Oooooh! I love this song! I kind of think of this as “our” song, John’s and mine. It’s right up there with Tim Minchin’s “If I Didn’t Have You.” First verse of Self-Preservation says it all:

Breakfast, sat on a Japanese mattress
Getting this happy takes practice
The world would be duller without us
Blacklist anyone who tries to attack this
They can say what they like but the fact is
They know nothing about us