Monday, March 31, 2014

Ask Reticula: I Feel Pretty

Dear Reticula. Last week, I found myself googling 'best dating sites to not get raped.' Seriously. Because, you know, I want to meet new people, but being raped? Not even close to making my bucket list. That's why I'm boring and have never had a bar hook-up. Or hitchhiked. Or gotten stunningly drunk around strangers. God, I AM boring! Sigh. Anyway, you need to hear about this and give me WISDOM.

I got on this dating app that feels like a Hot-Or-Not game, but then people MESSAGE you. Or they don't, but if you say they're hot and they say the same about you, the App goes all Price is Right crazy with 'Congrats! You have a match! Go forth and embarrass yourself!' Okay, it might not say that last part, but...yeah. So, after a week, I need advice. I get a face (might not really be his face), a name (same), an age (again I say, same), and the number of miles from my current location (GPS don't lie, yo!). What happens if these guys want to talk to me? WHAT IF THEY DON'T? Should I feel rejected before the games even begin? What do I say/type if they want to talk to me? I need ice cream! Help!

I Feel Pretty

Dear I Feel Pretty,

I was hoping you’d steer me toward the rape-free dating sites. Right off the bat I’m discouraged to find out they don’t exist, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get out there and try to find your man. Let me answer your letter in 2 parts.

Part 1. All of those things you said make you boring simply make you smart. I’ve sought out a significant number of ill-advised adventures in my life, but I’ve never done any of those things never done most of those things. And the hitchhiking was decades ago, back when I thought I was invincible.

Here’s the thing: You’re not boring just because you don’t put your life and your vagina in danger. Doing so would be stupid. So which do you want to be? Boring (by your definition) or stupid? Please choose boring. Rape is not fun.

You can play plenty of dangerous games and still stay in control. So my wisdom about your boringness is that you redefine it. Make a list of those things that make you unusual, appealing, and exciting. Focus on the things that make you not boring, and play to those strengths.

If you really want to experiment with being a stupid bad girl, enlist a wingman to go to a hotel bar with you. She can stay sober and watch from a safe distance while you get shitfaced with a bunch of strangers who are in town for a convention. You’ll never have to see them again. Go crazy.

Or, let's say one of your strengths is acting. When you do meet someone, play out your fantasy of meeting a stranger at a bar, taking him to a hotel and fucking his brains out. Wear a wig. Bring your handcuffs. Get dressed and slip out of the room while he’s still sleeping. Take the cash from his wallet and leave him to pay the hotel bill. Don’t forget to tip the bellboy.

Or play out the same fantasy hitchhiking. Make sure the guy who picks you up is the guy you want to play that game with. You can go all kinds of directions with that one.

There’s nothing wrong with bad-girl fantasies, nor is there anything wrong with playing them out as long as you do it under your own control. Leaving that shit to the vagaries of real life isn’t the way to go.

Part 2: My first reaction to the dating app is that it seems a little like choosing a dog from a puppy mill. It also seems like the most shallow way possible to meet someone (although I love your clever description. You kind of did my job for me). From what I understand, you sit in your yoga pants on your couch scrolling through one photo after another until you find a face that appeals to you and click it. On the other side of the city, a guy is sitting on the toilet scrolling through photos of women until he finds one that appeals to him and clicks it. If you both click on each other, you get a chance to text each other and see if there’s enough chemistry to chance a meeting. Is that right?

I too would be concerned about the bait and switch. In fact, I would expect it. Even more though, I would be concerned that I would click on the only 10 guys who were even remotely a possibility and none of them would click on me …. which would then lead me to believe nobody had clicked on me, even though it’s possible every man on the site except those 10 guys had clicked on me. Maybe your best bet is to click on every one and not leave it to chance, because with this app you’re only going to get one chance as he scrolls by.

Also, you’d better post a really great photo, but one that portrays just what you want to portray. Too sexy and you’ll get a bunch of guys who just want to get laid. Which, if that’s what you’re looking for … OK, then. For me, there’s a difference between a bootie call and a date. But if your photo makes you look like an Amish housewife, you’re probably going to get zero action from men who drive cars.

I have to admit, my initial reaction when I consider doing something like this myself is simply one of defeat. I take the worst photos. I have friends who are professional photographers who have sworn they could take a good photo of me. So I get my hopes up and let them take the photos, and then I never see them, nor does the friend ever mention them again. This has happened more than twice. And this is one big reason I haven’t completed the process on any online dating site. Whatever the word for anti-photogenic is, I’m that. I see no reason to scare a bunch of men away from me.

It's so bad one professional photographer who was trying to take photos of my family told me she hated me. She meant it, and I didn’t blame her. Even cute kids couldn't save me.

However, I think you should put up your best head shots and let the clicking begin. What have you got to lose? …. OK, let’s not talk about how many crazy fuckers there are out there and how hard they can be to shake out of your life. A lot of people simply aren’t normal. And sometimes refusing to date a guy once you’ve made contact is as bad as dating him and then breaking it off. Either one is likely to go whack job on you. Nobody said this would be easy though.

In fact, most women say it’s excruciating, and then again  some eventually find bliss. So, yes, 99% of the men you see as you scroll by might be lying assholes, and you might will get your feelings hurt. Only you can decide if it’s worth looking for the few guys who really click with you. (Get that pun?) And out of those you can narrow it down even further to the ones who aren’t married or in a relationship, or raging alcoholics, or unemployed and still living with their mothers. Or all of the above.

The other danger is that you’ll scroll right on by the perfect guy because he put up some stupid selfie of himself letting his dog lick his ears. Or wearing one of those hats with the beer cans and straws. Or with his ex-girlfriend, only he cut out all except the side of her face that was pressed up against his. Or with no shirt on in a sexy pose that’s not sexy. From what I’ve observed, a lot of men don’t give much thought to how they present themselves. And maybe they don’t deserve to date, given that. Or maybe they’re fine in person, but a failure at dressing themselves up for the dating sites.

All I know is, I get emails from one dating site that I joined just enough to look at photos and to get emails suggesting I pay the money to really join. I get an email with 5 choices every couple of days, and most of the time I skim it and delete it with what I suspect is a horrified look on my face. The grim staring expressions, the weird beards and hair (at least comb your hair if you want to get a second look), the photos that were obviously taken 25 years ago (you’re lucky you don’t have to worry about that), the bathroom selfies.

And then there are the names! Here are some from just one email: rascalmydog, coolnotbadfor58, GhengisJohn, and BrattyBoy57. Some women may be looking for a dog or a murderer or a brat – seriously, a brat? what are we, 5? – but I’m not. Unfortunately most of the photos don’t make up for the names.* The choices are discouraging, but I suspect you’ll have a better selection.

And yet, all that to say this: Fuck, no, you shouldn’t feel rejected. Especially if you’re on a dating app that gives guys one chance to choose you from the photo that’s one of many they scroll by while they’re watching a football game. You can’t take this shit too seriously. They don’t know you.

But let’s say a guy, or 2 or 4 or 10, contacts you. Well then, let the games begin. If you’re interested, text him back. Be yourself, and if he’s a good possibility, you’ll know it. If he’s not, be honest and tell him you’re not feeling it. You don’t owe anybody your attention if you’re not feeling any chemistry. This is your game to play your way.

And then if you want to meet him, take the proper precautions. Let at least one friend  know where you’ll be. Check in periodically. Go someplace public. All those common sense rules that we all know and should follow.

And if you feel discouraged – and you will – definitely eat ice cream. You are pretty. You do deserve someone wonderful. And even if the search takes a while, you can have some adventures along the way, gather some good stories, maybe make some friends. (Although that’s not likely. Men aren’t looking for friends. Most of them want vaginas.)

Good luck. Stay safe. Let me know how it goes.
And keep feeling pretty!

*I’m still debating whether I’ll put up photos as examples in future posts. While it seems like bad karma to mock anybody when I have already said I’m a photo failure, some of these guys are really working against themselves. One guy who keeps popping up has the most ridiculous facial hair, and I guess if he likes it that’s what matters, but I wouldn’t go out with him. There might be someone else out there for him, but I’m not her.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The dog ate my homework

Buy me this here:
Know what’s hard about making a commitment to write here every day? I’ll tell you what’s hard about it. Sometimes I’m working diligently writing other things that don’t fit here or that I’m not ready to publish, and it’s the last night of spring break, and then the clock passes midnight, and I realize I haven’t given my attention to my commitment here, and I’m going to make yet another excuse because that’s what writer’s do best. We make excuses. Here’s mine.

At the bootcampFriday, I worked on a piece that I’ll post here soon that’s about bar napkins and rape culture. I just need to finish it.

I also worked on two poems that I wanted to update, because I’m an idiot. See, I judged at the last poetry slam I went to. I didn’t read or slam, just gave scores to other poets. The guy who won has hosted poetry slams for years, and I’ve known him for years, so he knew if he performed my favorite poem, which is about a pocket pussy*, I’d give him a 10. So he did, and I did, and he won. Like a dumbass, I told him the next time he slammed in May, I was going to slam too, and I would kick his ass. I wasn’t even drinking yet.  Maybe I bumped up against a testosterone lick block. I’m not sure why I issued that challenge.

I’ll be honest: my kicking his ass is about as likely as my getting up the courage to join an online dating site any time soon … No, it’s less likely. But I opened my big fucking mouth, so I will at least have to take the mic and try. And that’s why I’m working on spoken word poems instead of vagina posts lately.

Anyway, I’m happy with the work I did on those two poems at the bootcamp, and I continued to polish a couple of other poems tonight with some degree of success. Meaning I think they’re finished … at least until next time I turn my critical raven’s eye on them. I don’t think they’ll win a slam, but I don’t think I’ll embarrass myself either. There's no predicting what will happen until the judges turn their score boards around, but it’s hard to beat a pocket pussy poem.

Also, I’m my own worst critic, so I never know if anything I write is good or if it’s a shitpile of introspective drivel that has so contaminated the poor innocent words they can’t ever be recycled, must less reused.

I do wish working on poetry hadn’t prevented me from writing the post I intended to write here tonight, because I’m excited about it, because LISTEN UP! Somebody sent me a Dear Reticula letter! How fucking cool is that? And it’s about dating, which we all know I’m a bitter, miserable failure at, but let’s not tell, shall we? Somebody wants my advice! So tomorrow night, on the last night of March**, I will stop working on poems and write my one and only reticulated advice column. On dating, no less. Wait for it.

* I was going to insert a photo of a pocket pussy here, but I googled pocket pussies ... and .... yeah, no. There may be a not-so-hidden metaphor here, but you're on your own if you want to look at photos of pocket pussies.

** I realize I missed about 3 days of writing this month. I do intend to make up those posts, and that’s no April Fool’s joke.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A fact about chickens

I confess I stayed too late at a party soaking in a hot tub in spite of the earlier rain and snow and and temperatures in the lower 30's. I have many deep and thoughtful posts weighing heavy on my mind ..... No, really I do! But for tonight, as a coda to last night's post about people who fuck pit bulls, I have simply this fact:

In San Francisco, it's illegal to teach a chicken to play tic tac toe. To do so is considered animal abuse. I heard this on public radio, so I know it's true. This did not come from the internets ... except that I listened to the show in the internet. Otherwise, this information came from a source.

I'm not sure I have any readers at all who live in San Francisco, but if you do, don't teach your chicken to play tic tac toe or you could be in big trouble, mister. I'm not sure if this is illegal in other cities, so if you live anywhere at all where first world problems exist, and should you get the idea (not from me) to teach your chicken to play tic tac toe, maybe you'll want to check first and make sure you won't get thrown in jail where you'll become somebody's pit bull bitch.

You're welcome. 

( )

Friday, March 28, 2014

Random thoughts on sex with pit bulls (Not safe for animal-lovers.)

You know how sometimes you'll see an article about a topic, and then you'll see another different article about the same topic, and you think, Hmmm. Maybe I should pay attention to this. And then you see it come up again, and you think, What the hell? Are that many people really fucking pit bulls? And if that many people are getting caught -- because some of them apparently think their backyard is the sexy spot -- how many people are doing it in the privacy of their own homes and nobody ever sees them? And why did I have to see these articles, because now I can't get these images out of my head?

I pay attention to patterns. It's a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder a hobby of sorts. I'm actually kind of brilliant at it, but there are times when my attention to recurrences leaves me flabbergasted .... and wondering about people who have sex with pit bulls. Like this guy, who wouldn't stop even while his neighbors begged him to because they were so disturbed. Of course, they couldn't look away. Of course they couldn't. Somebody had to bear witness!

And this woman, who apparently had to explain that she was mentally ill ... because that wasn't obvious. And this guy, who got 15 years after his neighbor claimed she caught him twice. At least he wasn't doing it in the backyard, but 15 years? That's a harsher sentence than he would have gotten for raping his neighbor! What the fuck?

I neither appreciate nor do I understand why these pitbull fuckers keep coming (shut up) to my attention. Is this a thing? Is it only pit bulls? Why not poodles? Poodles are pretty. Or golden retrievers? Or old English sheepdogs? Why would a person choose a pit bull out of all the breeds he or she could mate with? Because this, to me, is not a face that says, "Rape me."

This face, in fact, says to me, "If you fuck with me, I will fuck you up. And I can fuck you up. So don't fuck with me, so I don't have to fuck you up." 

I'm not saying I approve of people having sex with pit bulls -- I'd say sex with any dog, but pit bulls seem to be the short-skirt-wearing breed that attracts the crazy fuckers. I don't approve of people having sex with dogs at all, although to be honest, I can't say why. Most of us just agree it's not a good thing to do. On the other hand, if that dog up there was as disturbed as crazy fucker #1's neighbors, crazy fucker #1 would be walking around without a dick, and that dog up there would be licking his lips and asking for dessert. The neighbors might not have been able to stop the guy, but we can be fairly certain the dog could have if it had chosen to.

This reminds me of a story my brother told me about a high school friend of his who was showing off and fucked a pig in front of his friends. Again, not a traditionally sexy animal, although plenty are available in Iowa. But more than that ... listen, forget any PETA-sponsored bullshit you've heard about how Wilbur is cute and cuddly and smarter than a dog. Spiders lie. Hogs are one of the dirtiest, meanest, most disgusting animals on the planet, and their only redeeming quality is bacon. If you don't believe me, you obviously haven't been around pigs enough.

My point is that no pig would stand still for something that caused it discomfort. They're skittish, short-tempered, and they have disproportionately large teeth that they know how to use. They eat their own babies, and they will eat yours too. Pigs can be far more dangerous to people than people are to them, given the chance.

But I'm not advocating that anybody put his penis in one. They're filthy, and we have social mores about crossing that line. We'll kill and eat them, but damn it, nobody ought to poke one. That's just wrong. (Unless the pig is a human dressed up as a pig, but I'll leave the furries alone.)

On the other hand, even that line can be blurry, right? I once had a friend who was a very kinky girl. She encouraged her fancy Himalayan kitty cat to lick her nipples while she masturbated. Often. It doesn't do anything for me (I won't even let a dog lick my hand), but I've heard of far weirder kinks. Was she having sex with her cat? I think that was her intention, but I can't see the harm.

And I have another friend who felt so sorry for her cat when the poor thing was in heat and screaming for some tomcat action, that she gave her kitty some relief with a cotton swab. Surely that was an act of compassion.

I dunno. I can't get over that guy getting 15 years for doing something that didn't seem to bother the dog. I wouldn't say this about a woman, but the dog might have liked it. It certainly had options if it didn't. Like clamping down on any random body part and refusing to let go. Pit bulls can do that.

We have laws against animal abuse for good reasons, but Michael Vick only got 21 months for his vicious treatment of dogs. And the most time a rapist will serve under federal law for drugging his victim first is .... did you guess 15 years? Ding! Ding! Ding! You win a ham sandwich.

Here's what I hope. I hope that by writing about this I will have derailed the sex-with-pit-bulls train that pulled into the station, and something else will catch my attention. It's been a long time since I've written about vaginas, hasn't it? Human vaginas, I mean? I need some attention-seeking vaginas to catch my eye next.

I'm not sure I even want to hit the publish button tonight. No hating!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sexy food

I'm lame tonight. I've been preparing to lead a writer's bootcamp tomorrow, and making hummus and paleo chocolate to take and share. I am otherwise brain dead and without inspiration. My muse Dolores ran off hours ago to drink bourbon and listen to the blues and tease married men who want her to have sex with their wives while they watch (more of that story later). I'm going to work her mythical ass off tomorrow at bootcamp, so she'd better have her fun while she can, and she'd better bring me some fucking stories.

Consequently, in lieu of my usual brilliant commentary on the state of the vagina, I am going to share recipes for hummus and paleo chocolate. And then I'm going to bed before 3:00 am in the morning for once.


Dump into a food processor about 2 cups of chick peas (I cooked a bag of dried chick peas so I could make a shit ton of hummus, but you can just use a can), 3 tablespoons of tahini, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a mushed up clove of garlic, salt and pepper, and enough water to make it all smooth. And if you want your hummus to be even smoother than smooth, you can skin the chick peas. Yeah, I didn't think you'd want to do that either.

Whirrrr it around until it looks like hummus. Scrape it into a bowl. Dress it up with some olive oil and smoked paprika on top. Done.

Paleo Chocolate 
I didn't say it was pretty.

In a bowl, combine 1 cup of cocoa (I use a mixture of regular and dark), 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil, and 1/3 cup of honey. Spread the mixture on a piece of parchment paper (1/4" thick or so, but you decide), sprinkle on coarse sea salt (if you like your chocolate salted like I do), and put it in the freezer until it gets hard. Cut it up with a butcher knife and store it in the freezer ... if it lasts that long. Don't blame me if you become addicted. If anyone else lives with you, don't share it. Don't even let him or her or them know you made it. You'll thank me later.

On the other hand, this is some sexy chocolate because it has a low melt point. Which means, you can get messy with it. I'm not going to draw you a picture though, because I'm a nice girl. Use only with other consenting adults and report back to me in the morning.

Good night.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The weight of being alone

A few months ago my future daughter-in-law Montana brought her best friend Arden over to see my house before I moved in. After we'd walked through the empty rooms she asked me, "Who's going to live here with you?"

I said, "Nobody. I'm going to live here by myself."

"What? You can't live here in this big house alone! Won't you be scared?" she asked.

I wasn't sure what the size of the house had to do with my living alone. Houses aren't like jeans or rings or shoes or condoms. They don't have to fit a certain way. A house can't be too big to live in alone. "No," I said, "I've lived alone for several years now. I'm not afraid to live here alone." I was turning off the lights so we could leave and go out dancing at a club.

"I would be," she said. "I would be afraid to live here alone. It's so big."

"You'd probably get used to it," I said. "It's one of those things I find easier than I would have thought when I was married and living with my kids and husband."

"Hmmm," she said. I don't think she was convinced.

"Even if you're not scared, won't you be lonely?" she asked. "I couldn't live here alone because I'd be lonely." We walked out the front door into the frigid winter air.

"Yes, sometimes I'll be lonely. Sometimes I am now," I said, pulling the heavy front door shut. 

"I couldn't take that," she said.

"I was married for decades," I said, "and I was often lonely. I'd rather be lonely by myself here in my own house than lonely in the same room with someone who is close enough to touch. Also, it's much easier to do something about feeling lonely if I'm alone. It never lasts long now."

"Ahh," she said. "That makes sense. See you at the club." She and Montana headed to her car, and I toward mine. Alone, but not lonely.

Someone sent me a message about the post I wrote recently about dating. More on that conversation soon, but that conversation reminded me of the conversation with Arden.

And it reminded me that a lot of people date or stay in relationships because they think they can't stand to be alone. Possibly one of the reasons I don't date is because I'm fine alone. Not that I don't miss certain aspects of being in an intimate relationship. I do .... and sometimes that missing is sharp and insistent.

But I really would rather be alone than enter into the wrong relationship, or into a relationship for the wrong reasons. I won't settle for that just because I'm alone, or even because I'm lonely.

One friend suggested I haven't dated in a long time because I'm not ready, but nothing could be further from the truth. I haven't dated because I'm not willing to let the wrong guy onto my island .... again -- not that the shores of my island are teaming with willing victims suitors. That, though, is the topic of another post.

The real reason I haven't dated in so long is because I feel no urgency to do so. The worst loneliness doesn't come from being alone. The worst loneliness comes from needing someone who is emotionally unavailable. I've watched too many people tilt at that windmill, and done it myself too many times too. I intend to avoid that, even if it means I'm alone in my big house.

What are your thoughts on being alone? Does the idea make you lonely? Or is it your normal, like it is mine?

(Photo credit:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Three weird things about me: #3. sex shops

With zero ideas of what to write about tonight, I opened up my drafts folder to see if I had anything there I needed to finish and post. Turns out there are several -- one about a repulsive bar napkin, another about my first 3-way, last year's Christmas post -- but this one floated to the top. I decided to finish it up and post it, because I'd started this trio of posts titled "Three weird things about me ..." last September and never posted the third one. Here are numbers one and two, in case you're interested. Number three happened last fall, but it could just as easily have happened last weekend.

3. In the same vein as number 2 (hee. I said number 2), I'm also not a normal future mother-in-law (nor is my future daughter-in-law Montana normal; she's exceptional). (Oh, fuck me. Two parentheticals in one sentence. Who taught me to write?)

Friday night my son Drake and his fiance Montana were in town, so we decided to check out a blues bar that had just opened up downtown. The bar was almost empty when we arrived, but the guy playing slide guitar was doing his job, while his drunk bass player phoned it in beside him. The lights were way too bright, and the bartender couldn't make me a Manhattan because they didn't have any bitters.

I ordered a glass of wine instead, wishing not for the first time that I liked beer, but I don't so wine it was. The server went to the back, then returned and said they only had red. I said I could live with that. She went to the back again, and when she came back she asked if I minded it chilled. I even agreed to that, although a gin and tonic was sounding better and better. She brought me the chilled red wine, and it was worth the $3 I paid for it.

(For those readers who are local to me, I'll just say the place was all East Side. Through and through.)

A curvy woman with a giant tattoo of the sun on her upper back -- I'll call her Lucy -- in shorts and a low-cut t-shirt  came wiggling up and pulled me out into the space in front of the musicians to dance. She seemed to be a regular, but maybe she was just that gregarious. I felt a little awkward, but what the fuck. I'll dance with almost anybody. Eventually she got Drake and Montana up too, and tried to get the few other patrons up and dancing, but with limited success. It wasn't for lack of energy and ambition though. She was working the room like a down-and-out stand-up comedian.

Lucy was one of those women who probably seems like she's tipsy even when she hasn't been drinking, but that night she'd started early, and it was after midnight. She asked about our relationships, expressed surprise that Drake was my son because he looks so old and I look so young, and wondered what we were doing later. Montana told her we were going to the dance club after we left there.

She said to me, "You're going out dancing with your son and his girl?" I nodded, and she turned to Montana and said in her loud voice, "I tell you what! You'd better appreciate that. You don't see that too often, a mom who does that. You'd better appreciate her." She winked at me.

Montana just smiled and nodded. She appreciates me, and I appreciate her. We're good.

Then Lucy leaned in like she wanted to tell us a secret and said, "You two ought to go down there on 5th Street to that sex shop. You should do that together tonight." And then she laughed and laughed.

Montana escaped slipped back to our table and sat down. Lucy held onto my arm and whispered in my ear, "I just was trying to stir up a little trouble." She laughed loudly again and returned to her spot at the bar.

I sat down, choked down a swallow of chilled red wine and said to Montana, "We'd go to a sex shop together, wouldn't we?"

She said, "Sure, why wouldn't we?"

"I don't know," I said. "Lucy thought she was stirring up trouble by suggesting it."

Montana just smiled, and so did I. Later when I thought of it I wondered how Lucy would have reacted if I'd told her this story about how Montana got me up on the pole at the same club we were going to that night.

I decided that would probably be too much for her. Or worse, she'd want to go with us and get up on the pole herself. I've had to learn the hard way not to get too friendly with the natives, and this seemed like a good time to practice.

So that's my third weird thing. I would go to a sex store with my son's fiance, and she would go with me. And her mom would probably go with us too. And so would my daughter Elvira. Hell, we'd all go together, so maybe I'm not as weird as I thought. I mean that's four of us. Seems like a quorum to me.

I don't know if I'd actually be able to buy anything if I went to the sex store with them though. I do have boundaries.

Confession time is over for me, at least for the next 3 days. What are 3 weird things about you? Would you go to a sex shop with me?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Unpacking the music

A couple of weeks ago my son Drake was here for the weekend with his roommate K. I was bemoaning the length of time I was taking to unpack from my move. It has become embarrassing for me, but in order to unpack some things I have to wait to hire a contractor to do some work. And then there are some other things I just haven't known how to deal with.

I pointed at 3 big boxes of CD's that were sitting in the small parlor beside the art I haven't hung. I said, "I definitely don't want to keep all of those CD's. I need to sort through them and get rid of a bunch, but I don't know what to do with the ones I don't want."

Drake said, "You can try taking them to a second-hand music shop, and see if they'll give you something for them."

"I thought of that," I said, "but a lot of them aren't and never were popular music. It's not like I'm going to get rid of my Monkees CD's."

"You could use them for skeet shooting," K said.

Drake and I stared at him. He has an unusual sense of humor -- dark and dry. But he seemed serious.

"I can't use them for skeet shooting," I said. "They have music on them. Somebody else might want to listen to them."

He shrugged. "If you don't want them, skeet shooting is as good a use as any for them."

I just shook my head at him. Ridiculous. You don't ruin perfectly good music by shooting at your CD's with a gun. Not that I'm a skeet shooter anyway. Besides, these CD's were precious. Somebody wrote and sang those songs, and I listened and sang along and danced to them, and sometimes I cried to them. Skeet shooting my ass.

The next time I looked at those boxes though, I remembered what K had said. And it struck me like a shard from a shattered clay pigeon that I was refusing to unpack because I thought something I didn't want had value .... which meant I had to either keep it or get the value back. And I was wrong.

If I never listen to them again, those CD's have no value at all. In fact, they are costing me space and worry. They have negative value. It doesn't matter if I take them to the resale store, where I might not get enough to cover my gas and time, or if I drop them at Goodwill or if I take them to Best Buy to recycle them for the aluminum and plastic (yes, you can do that) or if I stop one of the neighborhood cart pushers and ask if he can recycle them. It doesn't fucking matter. The music and the memories that are tied to them shouldn't tie me to them.
Then again, I thought, if I'm not going to use them for music, I could make other shit with them. Turns out Pinterest is full of CD crafts and projects. Like this homemade disco ball. I found a shit ton of ideas for purses and clocks and Christmas ornaments and mosaic tables. Endless.

And stupid for someone like me who does not need one more fucking project.

No, the CD's were not -- are not -- precious. And that's that. I needed to change my thinking, not change the CD's into desk accessories.

So I finally started going through them. It took me several hours to sort them into piles: keep, sell or recycle, give away to a friend, or throw away. At the end of it, I added the "give away to a friend" pile to the "get rid of however I can" pile.

I probably could have done the job faster, but a lot of those CD's had strong memories attached to them. Some were ripped and burned copies that friends or former lovers made for me. Some of them were thoughtful gifts from people who are long gone from my life now. Some of them were from concerts I'd gone to where I'd loved the live music, but the CD didn't give me the same thrill. Or I bought the CD just to support the artist. Some of those weren't even unwrapped.

I persisted though and culled about a third from the herd. That's not bad. What I kept will fit into one section of my TV cabinet.

And the others are in a box waiting to go .... somewhere. I still can't decide, but I'm on spring break, and my deadline for getting them out is Friday. If I get close enough to a cart pusher and he wants them, then that's where they will go. Otherwise, I'm leaning toward Goodwill. I just don't want to deal with hauling them someplace and finding out the young clerk will offer me $5 just to get rid of me.

Sorting and getting rid of those CD's has been a valuable unpacking lesson, and one that will prepare me for doing the same difficult job with books. I realized that I don't have to keep an object that has memories tied to it. The object isn't the memory, and it's not disloyal to the memory to let go of the object.

But I also learned that the music on those CD's doesn't have to be kept. The songs still belong to the people who wrote and recorded them, but they don't physically have to either stay with me or be sold, or even given, to other people. Their only value comes when someone actually listens to them. And I don't. I haven't for years in some cases. The CD's aren't really the songs.

It seems so simple and logical when I write it, but obviously I had an urge to hoard emotions tied up in those CD's that needed to be unpacked. And unpacking I am. Slow and steady.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fuck It Friday: Spring Break Edition

That's right. It's Fuck It Friday, and I'm not writing anything tonight. I've been spinning and spinning and spinning topics and ideas and first sentences, and they're all either too personal (believe it or not, I've got filters) or too stupid or too bitter or too insipid, or are about people fucking pitbulls in their backyards (more true stories than you would believe), or will take too long to write and I have to be up early for an all-day TEDx retreat tomorrow so I need to get to bed by 2:00, or ... they're too personal. So fuck it. I'm not writing anything. Give me a fucking F, teacher. And a U .... and a C .... and a K.

Spring break started about 7:30 tonight after a poetry slam some of my students were in, and I'm taking advantage of it. I really have no excuse for my lousy attitude, but nevertheless I think I'll pour myself a Manhattan, watch the last half of an episode of House of Cards and not worry about it.

Photo credit: stolen from the internets

Thursday, March 20, 2014

If you don't want that, I'll take it

The person I can't stop thinking about tonight is a guy named Henry Wolf. Poor guy. For the past couple of years he's been trying to sue BMW and Corbin-Pacific, a motorcycle seat manufacturer, because he rode his new motorcycle for 4 hours and ended up with a 20-month erection. I guess it's hard for me to believe he's trying to stick it to these companies
You want one.
something most men would celebrate. A perpetual hard-on? That's a good thing, right? Do you know how much money Pfizer makes on Viagra? How is it he thinks he got the shaft?

Seems to me if he had put his problem in his profile, he might have found a number of women who were willing to fall on that sword -- over and over and over -- to help him deflate his balloon. And yet somehow he felt like he got screwed because his dick got hard and stayed that way. He claimed he couldn't work, suffered emotional damage, could possibly have put somebody's eye out with that thing, and incurred medical expenses. Evidently his lawsuit didn't include any damages for damages, if you know what I mean.

The condition, once the problem boner lasts a mere 4-6 hours, is called priapism. (Google that word, and the top 4 suggestions for a second search word are "treatment," "definition," "pictures," and "in dogs." I won't look if you won't.) Evidently getting an unceasing erection can cause all sorts of problems from turning a guy into a fucking jackhammer who fully satisfies his wife and his girlfriend and the women in his office all in one day blood clots to gangrene to ... well, nothing good cums comes after that. (Women can get priapism too, although I'm not sure how one would tell. I might like to find out though, just for a few months.)

In any case, the judge ruled that Wolf didn't present enough hard evidence. A doctor testified that he did have a perpetual boner that might have been caused by vibrations, but nobody else seems to have been similarly affected by the seat (or their Hitachi wands, for that matter). And seriously? Does anybody have any doubt why he rode that motorcycle for 4 hours the first time out? I suspect he straddled that motorized hand-job until the bike ran out of gas, and he didn't complain until he found out he didn't run out of gas for over a year and a half.

And yet, unless other guys simply aren't complaining about the raging hard-ons this bike allegedly causes -- which seems entirely possible -- he's the only victim to come forward.

That doesn't mean it's not worth a try, guys. If any of my male readers are thinking about getting a mid-life crisis to squeeze between their legs, I recommend that cute cherry-red number above. On your first trip out though, maybe only ride for a few minutes at a time. Otherwise I might be writing about your perpetual divining rod 20 months from now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

No, really. Life isn't fair.

The hour is late -- or early, depending on your perspective. I'm struggling to focus after grading papers way past midnight. And I'm obsessing about an unexpected phone call I got from my son Drake this afternoon -- while he knew I was teaching and when he should have been in school. A phone call that left me crying in the parking lot of the base medical center, because one of the hardest things about being a parent is when shit that shouldn't happen does happen to your kids. Even when your kid is 29 years old the urge to protect still runs strong.

Some of you know Drake and know that he's spent the past three years studying to become a national park ranger. I wrote about the day I helped him and his fiance Montana move away in 2011. I won't repeat that story here. I'll just say he has worked his ass off the past three years to achieve his goals, and so has Montana, who is now working three jobs as a paramedic. I'm so proud of them.

Drake is in his last and hardest semester of the program: law enforcement academy. It's both mentally and physically demanding, but he's dedicated and sure of his path. Or he was until he found out his entire class of future national park rangers have been unexpectedly fucked by the National Park Service.

Their classes were cancelled late last week and yesterday with no explanation. Today, Tuesday, they were supposed to come in late at 1:30. When he got there, one of his teachers told him their program had been discontinued. Three months from graduation .... after three years of training in all kinds of things from search and rescue to chain saw management to EMT training to fish identification (not easy for a guy who's color blind).

The end was in sight and the party was planned, and now they simply aren't going to get to finish. They have no chance of earning their certification. Drake has little chance of earning his national park ranger certification ever.

I don't know all the details. Something about the NPS revamping the program in 2015 so this class wouldn't be current if they were allowed to graduate. Something about the programs at 8 of the 12 schools that offer the certification being closed. I'm sure more will come out in the days to follow. 

In the meantime .... I'm just so fucking pissed that my kid got fucked over like that. I know life isn't fair, but sometimes a thing is so unethical, so cold, so fucking shitty that it defies all logic. This is one of those things. It was bad enough he lost his dream of becoming a pilot when he was five and we found out he was color blind. That is, at least, a choice of nature. Nobody to blame.

This though required somebody to make a decision to just cut off all of these young future rangers at the knees. Somebody decided it. And here's what I  hope happens to that person.

Anyway, I'm sorry. It's 3:00 am, and I'm having trouble thinking of anything else to write about tonight. Drake had calmed down and was already considering other options when I talked to him. He and his buddies were planning on building a bonfire, drinking a lot, and burning their textbooks tonight.

Tomorrow, he'll go in and continue his work to finish the law enforcement academy. That part he can still do, and he has a variety of employment options other than the National Park Service after that. Fuck them anyway. Fuck them.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Would you like butter on that?

From time to time readers will send me vaginas suggestions for items they think I'd like to put on my Christmas list things I might want to write about here. One  suggestion, which will go into the growing "things I wish I'd thought to invent + vagina" category, is the vagina toaster (the kind that toasts bread, not vaginas), which is marketed by a company called Burnt Impressions.

Vagina toaster
It makes what I can only imagine is yummy vagina toast. Subtitled "Eye of Sauron's Vulva" toast. That last bit didn't make sense, so I had to have a conversation with myself about it, which led to .... you'll see.

So, which is it? Is it a vagina or the Eye of Sauron's vulva? Because a vagina is found on a woman, but the Eye of Sauron belongs to a man. And an eye doesn't have a vulva, but even if it did, surely only women's eyes would have vulvas. So even though it only kind of vaguely resembles a vagina, it sure as fuck can't be the Eye of Sauron's vulva. It has to either be a vagina or the Eye of Sauron. Not both.

Maybe we're overthinking this? (Yes, I do refer to myself in some convoluted plural first/second person point of view in my head. Queens do that.) It's just a toaster. Who cares what they call it as long as it toasts the bread? It doesn't matter if they made up a stupid subtitle. Just spread the lube butter, maybe drizzle on some honey or spoon on some jam,
and eat the vagina toast.

I wonder if this would be more effective than that tongue-training phone app for teaching men to polish the pearl. We could put the butter on just the right spot and tell  the almost right  guy, "Hey, you could use some practice. Just go to work on that dab of butter there ...." No, the toast would get soggy. That wouldn't work.

Seriously? It's fucking toast .....!

Euww. You don't suppose men would really ....?

No, I don't suppose men would do anything but eat it. It's not like a blow-up doll or a pocket pussy. It's just toast. Toast.

You're right. That wouldn't be very sexy would it? Toast would be scratchy, unless you put lots of butter on it.

Jesus Christ, will you just stop thinking about vagina toast? Find something else to do.

Speaking of Jesus, I wonder if they make a Jesus toaster for all the wanna be saints out there. Oh. That doesn't sound good, does it? A Jesus toaster? Who would want to toast Jesus? I have to look.

Of course you do.

Penis toaster
Oh, my god. You won't believe this! They make a penis toaster too. Wouldn't that be a cute wedding gift? Matching vagina and penis toasters? Who do we know who's getting married? They should have these on their registration.

Why would anybody need 2 toasters?

I guess they wouldn't if they were gay.

We're not getting anybody either a vagina toaster or a penis toaster. Jesus!

Oh, they don't have a Jesus toaster. They're kind of weird about their religious toast. They have the Virgin Mary, Buddha, Ganesha, and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but no Jesus.

That's probably Obama's fault.

No, they have him too.

We're done here. Nothing more can be said about toasters tonight. We're going to bed now.

But I'm hungry for buttered toast now. Aren't you?

Toast is the last thing I want to eat right now. Bed. Let's go. It's after 2:00 am .... again.

You're right. Good night ..... Hey.


Let's put this on our birthday list. It's only 4 months away.

Which one? The vagina or the penis?

The vagina! Who wants penis toast? It just doesn't sound the same. I wonder why that is ....?

Don't start up again. Bed. Now. Good night.

OK. Good night. Sweet vagina toast dreams!

Smiley Face Toaster

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I told you it was a conspiracy!

I reported yesterday that my break-up with Time Warner's cable service had been relatively painless. I watched the first episode of House of Cards and the first part of The Sapphires last night on Netflix, so the methadone worked. Everything was groovy.

Until my son Drake's friend K tried to sign on to my wireless network and couldn't find it. My computers are hooked up to my Ethernet, and I hadn't noticed my phone was using 3-G instead of wireless. I unplugged the modem to reset it. Nothing, although the modem was still sending a signal to my Ethernet. We decided to go out for a while; I figured it would resolve while we were gone, because even though hope is stupid I will carry some dusty scraps of it around for old time's sake.

We still couldn't find the wireless network later when we tried to watch Orange Is the New Black on Netflix, and resetting the modem didn't work the second time. Fuck me. I had to call Time Warner on a Sunday afternoon. I had already spend 20 minutes on the phone with a really slow guy at IKEA because a bookcase came with the wrong hardware. Now I had to run the TWC button-pressing marathon again.


"I just know this is happening because I cancelled my cable. They're spanking me for refusing to keep it," I said.

"That's ridiculous," Drake said. "They wouldn't do that." K shook his head in agreement.

"It might be unlikely, but I would hardly call it ridiculous," I said. "You have to admit the timing is funny."

"You probably bumped something on the modem when you unplugged the DVR."

"No, I didn't. I've checked everything on the modem. Besides why would I get a signal, but no wireless? The modem is fine. They're fucking with me, you guys. I predicted this might happen. They don't want me to watch Netflix. They're trying to lure me back."

Drake shook his head and lay down on the big chair to take a nap.

I finally got through to a real person with only minor carpel tunnel in my index finger. She ascertained that my modem was getting a signal. I could have told her that. I wouldn't have been talking to her on my land line if it hadn't been. She bumped me up to technical support.

The woman in tier one technical support checked my modem, and she too gave the thumbs up to my signal, but couldn't find my wireless. Now I was either 2 for 2 or 0 for 2 depending on whether you give importance to the signal or to the wireless. She bumped me all too easily all the way up to tier three  ..... whose name was Tad.

Tad pinged my modem and told me I had a signal. I agreed, and told him my Ethernet would not work if it didn't. He told me I didn't have wireless though. I agreed. He asked me to hold on while he ran some tests ..... Then he said he had to restart my modem. "You'll lose me if you ...," I said, but he was already gone.

He called back. Ooops. He hadn't realized I was on my land line, even though he asked me what number I was calling from as soon as we got on the line. Whatever he did though, it worked. I found my wireless on my phone and signed in ..... for about 5 seconds.

"Your wireless is gone again," he said. Wash, rinse, repeat.

He ran more tests .... They didn't work. Or they worked, but didn't stick.

He did a factory reset .... It didn't work.

"I cancelled my cable TV yesterday," I said. "Do you think that has anything to do with it?"

"No, I can see you made an adjustment to your account, but that wouldn't cause this," he replied. My instincts told me he was lying.

I put my hand over the phone and said to K, "I think he's in on it too." K just rolled his eyes. He's a man of few words. "I'm not crazy," I said. He didn't look at me.

In the meantime, Tad ran still more tests .... or claimed he did. Sometimes my network would pop up for a few seconds, but it always disappeared again. Suspicious.

Every time he shut down my modem and then called me back he said, "Hello, Ms Reticula. This is Tad with Time Warner Cable's technical support team." Every single time he called me back.

Which turned out to be about a dozen times over the course of 3 hours half an hour. Everything he tried failed. I started to hear frustration in his voice.

Finally he did something and my phone picked up my wireless signal. And kept it. K's laptop found it, and after a few minutes so did mine. The issue seemed to be fixed.

"What was wrong?" I asked Tad.

"Somehow when your cable was turned off, a code was entered that turned off your wireless too."

"So you're saying there was a conspiracy?" I said, checking to make sure K was paying attention. He wasn't.

"Oh, it totally was a conspiracy," he said.

I knew it!

"Really? So I was right? Somebody did it on purpose?" I love being right. I put my hand over the phone and hissed at K, "See? I told you they did it on purpose!"

"Yes, it was me," Tad confided. "I sent secret agents to your house and had them mess up just the wireless in your modem. I did it just so you would have to call and talk to me ..."

"Oh! Really?" Was Tad flirting with me?

".... because I was bored," he finished.

"Well, it worked," I said. Nope, not flirting. Bored. "I've talked to you quite a bit."

 "And I'm not bored any more," he said. "Is there anything else I can do for you today? Anything else at all?"

"No, you've done everything I needed you to do. Thank you." I wondered what someone named Tad would look like. I decided to go with Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike.  When it doesn't matter, might as well go big and sexy.

Tad encouraged me to answer an automated questionnaire about his service, and I promised to give him all A's. We hung up a final time.

And now, unless secret Time Warner Cable agents have sneaked back into my house and messed with my modem again, my ordeal with TWC is over .... until the next time.

Maybe now I can focus on writing about vaginas.