I may be the only one who finds this funny

Paradoxes, Pair of Sockses

I was walking to work one fresh morning between rains a week or so ago, enjoying my big warm coat and keeping the mist off my head with my fine fuchsia-colored umbrella, when I approached a man who was pushing a shopping cart full of some thoroughly damp belongings. And because I often deal with homeless folks at work I slowed down as I came up to him and I said, “Hey,” and he looked me in the eye to acknowledge my greeting, and the look in his eye told me he was fucking done with this rain shit.

I had nothing to give him but sympathy, but as I kept walking I started thinking about what I’d do if I had five million dollars. I would pay off my debt and I’d buy a house and I’d set up my finances so I could transition into a magnificently ordinary retirement at age 65. Then I would work with local government and buy a giant lot and fill it with tiny homes, a health clinic, a police shack, and laundry enough to comfortably house (spitballing here) 200 people who for one reason or another cannot catch a break in this town.

The gods must have heard my thoughts because I got to work and it wasn’t long before a nice seventy-ish-year-old lady appeared and sat down across from me at my desk and looked at me sweetly with her curly white hair and told me she needed my help getting into a shelter that night.

The problems of an unfamiliar lady off the street were not what I was hoping for that particular day, but let me tell you: when you work for a religious institution, no matter how small your function, some people look at you like you’re God’s right hand man.

I’ll admit, the miracles of the reception office are small and my ministry often centers on whatever speaks to you from the candy jar. But she came to me at the right time, and without getting into her personal specifics, I was able to help her get into a shelter. But if this nice lady on Social Security hadn’t found me she would have had to sleep in a bush somewhere, and if you haven’t noticed, the way our country treats its poorest people is incredibly fucked.


I have a tendency to want to “save” certain items of clothing by not wearing them too much, and this ethic is applied daily and tragically to my socks. I have probably five pairs of Happy Socks that I really like because they’re well made and they’re man-sized so they fit my big feet. I buy them half-price at Christmastime from Marshall’s, where everything’s a little imperfect or odd, but inevitably one or two fantastic Happy Socks sneak through to the bargain bin and I GRAB them and HIDE THEM underneath my half-price Christmas purchases so no one will see them until I get to the checkout stand and then they are MINE.

The navy Happy Socks with red cherries on them are my most precious favorites right now, so naturally I never wear them. They stay lovingly rolled up in my drawer while instead I wear the slightly unpleasant green-and-blue geometric socks that remind me of a dress my Barbie had in 1972.

tl;dr My cherry socks spark too much joy in me, and I haven’t heard Marie Kondo say what I’m supposed to do about that.


I realized this week while I was dishing out wet dog and cat food that I was also doing this thing where I’d break up the food and mix in the food-sauce, and generally try to make this hideous paté I feed my animals more attractive on the plate. My animals 100% do not care what their food looks like, and now that I’ve accepted that fact I just dump it out for them and their hearts still go pitter-pat at the sound of me clanking the spoon against their dishes to get the last bits off (I don’t want to actually touch it, of course, the horror paté I feed my animal companions) and they are still just as nourished as before, and they go shit in their boxes like it never mattered how much thought I put into whether they should have the Grandma’s Pot Pie or the Cowboy Cookout tonight.



I was at the thrift yesterday and I found a pair of intensely preppy patchwork Tommy Hilfiger men’s shorts for $2.99. I texted a photo of them to Jackson to see if he wanted them, but all he said in reply was: “Fancy.” (He thought they were women’s shorts for me. Communication is a fragile thing.) I bought them despite his indifference because what a bargain, right? And when I brought them home Jack lit up with ancient recognition of a distant tribe. (Jack spent many of his tender years in the New York/Connecticut MetroNorth corridor.) The shorts fit him like a dream, so he went and put on two Lacoste polo shirts and popped up the collars and began talking as though his jaw were wired shut. “Darling,” he’d say, “I’m going to the package store for some Rheingold.” Then he’d admire himself in the mirror and say, “Lovey, I’m going to the farm stand for some sweet corn and I’ll be back in June.”


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A progression of healing thoughts

This morning I was driving down Alamar when I saw a slightly ragged-looking couple on the street in front of the Alzheimer's home. The man looked upset and the woman waved at me violently and shrieked, "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO GO 35, BITCH!" with a horrifying expression on her face. I glanced at my speedometer -- I was going 37 m.p.h., and my first thought was a prim, "Clearly that woman does not know what a car going approximately 35 miles per hour looks like." I braked slightly and looked in my rear-view mirror -- she was still glaring at me, and my second thought was of a photograph from one of my dad's books about the Holocaust where a woman with the same expression of fury and disgust on her face was yelling at a group of Jews being rounded up.

And then I was mad that seeing my brake lights might have made her feel like she'd won. The truth was that I braked because the light on the corner was red and I didn't want to roll into oncoming traffic, and now I was thinking about Nazis.

Thought #3: "Nazis!"

Thought #4: "That bitch."

Then I forced myself to calm down because it's unhealthy to let a stranger fuck up your day when you weren't even doing anything wrong. (Anything that wrong. After all, she was correct in pointing out that I was not going the speed limit. LET'S GIVE HER THAT.)

Thought #5: "OK, wait. What if she's really upset about something, let's look at it from her point of view. Maybe her dog just got run over."

Thought #6: "OK, but it wasn't me who ran over her dog, or ran into her mother who wandered away from the Alzheimer's home, and all that anger should be directed toward the people who are truly responsible for her having to put her mother in a home where she's dying of Alzheimer's without remembering who her daughter is. I know how that feels, lady, but at some point you've got to suck it up and quit yelling at strangers driving by in the street."

Thought #7: "What Law of Attraction bullshit have I done to have a stranger yell at me like that?"

When we were about a mile away I asked Jackson if he'd remembered to put his homework in his backpack, and he hadn't. So we drove back home, got the homework, and passed the Alzheimer's place again but the woman was gone.

Thought #8: "I have no way of knowing what the truth of her situation is, so I need to let go of this whole thing, Byron Katie. She absolutely should have been in the street yelling at cars, that was exactly what needed to happen at that point in time, given a series of events that are totally invisible to me, and it would be insane for me to try to fly back in time with super mind control and try to change it. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE, COMRADE."

Then I had a happier thought.

Thought #9: "Maybe she has a superpower that enables her to detect when a car is going two miles over the speed limit."

Thought #10: "Well, at least I finally have something to blog about."


I'm not even sure what racism is anymore

Me: I need to go to the Water Store and get more distilled water.

Jackson: That is the whitest thing anyone, anywhere has ever said.

Me: Oh, well, excuse me, the first person who told me that we should all drink distilled water was black. His mom was super into it.

Jackson: It's still the whitest thing I've ever heard you say.

Me: Well, I am pretty white.

Jackson: Yes.

Me: But how can it be a white thing if black people drink distilled water, too?

Jackson: Are you calling me racist?

Me: I don't know, am I? Or are you saying that "white" is a synonym for "living in a privileged bubble."

Jackson: Yes, yes I am.

Me: And I am a privileged person who will pay for something that comes out of a faucet for free.

Jackson: Pretty much.

Me: OK, but if doing that is "white," are you saying that a privileged black person who buys distilled water is "white," or are you saying that black people can be just as privileged and deluded by health fads as white people?

Jackson: . . . the second one.

Me: So, maybe just say privileged in the future if that's what you mean.

Jackson: Mom, you are so white.

Me: Okey dokey!


So I might have been at this for a year now

This is for a person who wasn't sure what they wanted me to draw. "A hedgehog?" they wondered, or perhaps, "Peewee!" So I drew Peewee and two hedgehogs, and then I misspelled Peewee and painted the hedgehogs purple.

watercolor peewee

And now it's Day Ten

Today's drawings were done to accomplish two specific requests, one from a kind Twilight fan who asked for an Edward and Bella drawing, and that it not be sarcastic because she sincerely loves Twilight and she didn't want me being all, "Ha ha, Edward looks like a muffin with pointy teeth." But my first drawing was so terrible that I couldn't send it to her. I know I'm supposed to practice drawing people for this life list business (which perhaps means I shouldn't have used action figures as models), but I can't in good conscience send out something like this:

I went on to just try to copy the hands-and-apple Twilight book covers, but you know what else is hard to draw? Hands holding apples.

At the moment I'm reading the book What Was She Thinking? (Notes on a Scandal) by Zoë Heller (which is fantastic, especially if can forget you saw the movie), and she has a funny throw-away description of a student's drawing where the hands in it look like "odd, fingerless trowels." I, too, am working at Odd Fingerless Trowel level, so I backed out and drew this instead:

Secondly, for the lovely person who asked for a drawing of a sheep or a dog, I did this:

Can you see?? It's a sheep standing next to another sheep in sheep dog's clothing. It's funny because it's true. Also, I couldn't remember what sheep have on their feet, is it hooves? I just let them be little pegs instead. If you only had two sheep pegs to stand on it would be hard to keep your balance, but with four sheep pegs you're good.


I was looking around inside a 7-11 store today while Jackson was negotiating with the Coke nozzle on the Slurpee machine. (Are banana Slurpees new? I was disgusted at first, but then a wave of sense memory overcame me, and all my childhood summers of eating banana-flavored popsicles flooded my mouth, and icy fake-banana flavor sounds magnificent right now.) Jackson was struggling with getting the lid on his cup, and two older boys were waiting for him to get it together and get out of the way, and my first instinct was to help but then I thought I'd probably just embarrass him. So I wandered over to the refrigerator section with pre-made burritos, bologna, hotdogs, and ham, and I started thinking, "Those hotdogs definitely cause cancer and bologna makes me want to die, but I'd eat the ham. I wonder if I could live off of whatever I found in 7-11 for a month?" Thinking that, of course, tons of people make do with food from small markets, either by choice or because they don't have a larger grocery store nearby. Our 7-11 has apples and bananas, small bags of flour and sugar, charcoal, a few cleaning supplies, 500 kinds of chewing gum, 20 kinds of lottery tickets, milk, butter, and beer, but no eggs. So if I were to shop at 7-11 and try to continue doing the Paleo thing, I'd be eating mostly packaged ham, apples, and water. I like to think I could make do anywhere, but I'm sure I'd be all, "One little bag of Doritos won't hurt," and that would lead to "One little six pack won't hurt," and it wouldn't be long before I'd be practicing yoga in the nacho cheese dip aisle and living on Ben & Jerry's. Now I'm actually barricaded inside a 7-11, indefinitely. I have a cot in the back room and I'm armed to the teeth. I've constructed a catapult out of cannibalized metal shelving and I'm mounting an after-hours attack on the Chevron station across the street. I've never liked the way they're always .5 cents a gallon higher than the 76 station next to the freeway, where you can also get a free car wash. Yes, I'll join forces with the inmates of Taquería Rincon Alteño and the laundromat, and soon we'll control this whole exit. No one will use our restrooms except people who buy something first!

Day Nineteen

I was at work today looking around for books to add to the Staff Picks shelf. There are a few books that I'm continually putting up there, like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate and The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but when all my favorites are checked out I have to start grabbing stuff that you'd reasonably believe a middle-aged woman whose book club only keeps on their e-mail list out of pity would recommend to you. I was wandering through fiction hoping for inspiration when I found an old Wodehouse novel called Jeeves and the Tie That Binds. The inside flap said rather effusively that P.G. Wodehouse published this book on his ninetieth birthday, and that this was his best novel yet, and also that it was clever, delightful, uproarious, entertaining, and fun. Skeptically, I flipped the book over to see if there was more hyperbole on the back:

Nope! But he could still touch his toes. Best author photo ever.

Day Fifteen

Draw a squirrel choking a chipmunk. Why does the chipmunk look like Hitler?

Put sunglasses on the squirrel!

Put a fedora on the squirrel.

Now give him a beard.

Let me do something to the chipmunk! *Adds little mustache*

Yes, Chuck Norris squirrel with platypus feet is killing swollen Hitler chipmunk.

You are welcome to suffer through me learning how to draw cartoon characters, but it's not going to be pretty.

This is how I know my dog can read

Peewee had been eating the same canned food pretty happily for the last six months and then all of a sudden I couldn't find it in the store. After digging around a little while I realized that they'd changed the label on the can. Nutrisca food was now Dogswell. I bought the Dogswell, and yesterday I was trying to figure out why he won't eat it. We'd always mixed a few tablespoons of the canned food in with another brand of dry food and he'd always vacuumed it right up, but now he was walking away, leaving the whole mess untouched. Did they change the food inside the can along with the label? It looked the same. Was he just sick of it? He rejected all three different flavors. Was he feeling unwell? He was acting normal on all other counts. Was there something else going on?

More to the point: can my dog read?

I feel like they want us to read Dogswell in two ways: "dogs well" (Our dogs, they are well) or "dog swell" (My dog's doing swell, thanks). The second way is kind of a stretch, as I know no one who uses the word "swell" as a descriptor in the year 2011 unless maybe, MAYBE, they're over the age of 90. As a child of the 70s I've been known to say anachronistic things like "Right on," and a friend of mine who's slightly older says "Far out!" once in awhile, which reminds me of John Denver, who was once so earnest, singing about chickens down on the farm, and this friend of mine raises chickens.

But the third way I read Dogswell, and which had to have come up in a meeting or two, is "dog swell" as in Dear God, my dog is swelling, and if we don't do something soon he's going to burst.

I know nothing about creating brands beyond the fact that it must be terribly difficult. Even my non-swollen dog who can read knows that. (Not being a member of the Grammar Police, I'm not sure if you're supposed to use "who" when referring to a dog, but writing "Even my swollen dog that can read" seems callous. My dog, apart from being 7/8 human, reads human gestures and body language at at least a middle school level. He's no Albert Einstein (nor is he a swollen Albert Einstein) but I'd pit him head to head against any one of those mob wives on TV.)

My point is, if your brand name word play is successful in only two out of three interpretations, and the third one makes dogs who can read walk away from your food because all they can think about is puking or bursting, maybe you should dig a little deeper for a new name. Admittedly, this is coming from a woman who saddled herself with the name Fussy ten years ago, and half of whose search referrals come from people who are clearly misspelling the word pussy. So, yeah, measure twice, cut once.

I just went to their site and laughed out loud because they also have a "Catswell" line. Oh, God, I need to leave the house today.


Hulk last one to hear that new movie in works about Hulk's life, Hulk's struggles, Hulk's search for love in cold, indifferent universe. The usual. People already know this story, think Hulk to self! Why everybody co-opt Hulk's story, think they can make brutal poetry on the back of Hulk's pulp beginnings? They not Shakespeare.

Hulk get nostalgic looking at this photo. Hulk too old to keep shouting. Drunk Hulk, Feminist Hulk, asshole Hulks all Hulking it up on Tweeter. Brand now officially diluted. Hulk not green anymore, Hulk piss yellow.


Hulk think we can all agree that Eric Bana good kid but Ang Lee better suited to directing gay cowboy Jane Austin camping furniture adaptations than Marvel epic HULK SMASH, etc.

Hulk just sayin'.

Then, look out! Here come Edward Norton to fuck with my shit.

Hulk have nothing personal against Ed Norton. Can not beat him as a person. HA HA, actually can beat him. But he great environmentalist, smart guy -- take $130 off Hulk playing black jack. Okay, Ed Norton kind of a dick.

Now, NOW, sexy Mark Ruffalo sneak in back door, think Hulk not looking. Hulk smell sexy Mark Ruffalo two miles off. Cats smell, too, start spraying front porch.

Cats disgusting animals. Like boxes of shit in house? Get cat. Hulk get two from shelter, feel bad. Now just boxes of shit everywhere, cat hair all over throw pillows, sneezing! Hulk eat whole box of Claritin just to open eyes after can sleep on face all night.


So, okay, whole movie not about Hulk, movie called "Avengers," Hulk just co-starring. Hulk deal with it, ego fully under control. But not pleasing how charming actor Johnny Storm from Fantastic Four -- "Flame on!" -- that guy -- now suddenly Captain America? Hopes for Fantastic Four Part Three: Hulk Hold Hands with Jessica Alba now cruelly dashed.

Hulk need more purpose in life than Hollywood hamster wheel provide. Hulk e-mail full of spam. Hulk not need Viagra. (Hulk just sayin'.)