Friday, November 14, 2014

The Post that Gets Rebecca Fired (or, "On Teaching Online")

Okay, not really. At least I hope not. 

It is just that it is really difficult to write a humorous article about your current employment because the only way to make it any good involves heaping ridicule upon one’s bosses, clients, or co-workers (hi, guys!) and that shit, as I mentioned before, will get you fired.

So we’ll see how this goes.

Technically, I’m not doing anything wrong. Except that I routinely use my closed laptop as a means to convey food and beverages from room to room and up and down stairs. That is going to backfire catastrophically at some point.

Teaching online freaking rocks, especially if your hygienic comfort zone is somewhere in the range of “slovenly”, as mine generally is.

The isolation makes us strange, though. It really does. A few times a year we all meet for training. We creep into the hotel ballroom like the munchkins emerging from among Technicolor flowers in the MGM movie The Wizard of Oz. We huddle in small groups, talking about how strange and terrifying all the traffic was.  Everyone’s outfit is elaborately coordinated, as though the product of hours of absentminded contemplation while various programs took forever to load.

Teaching online is like dating online. The extent of the information people have about you is a photo, some email interaction, and your voice in the live classroom setting.

That is a looooooooooooooooot of leeway. Some might argue: too much. Not me, though.

Things I have done while actively participating in staff meetings and/or while teaching a 10th grade English class:

·         Treated gaping flesh wounds
·         Signed for various incoming parcels and packages
·         Peed
·         Been vomited on
·         Conveyed elaborate instructions to various repairpersons using exclusively body language
·         Pursued a two-year-old in a horse costume down the sidewalk in a rainstorm (my headset has amazing range)
·         Mopped things you don’t want to know about off of the floor
·         Picked out an outfit a la 80’s-movie-style montage

Try any of that shit at your office and see what happens to you.

It is a two way street, though. At any given time, my students can do what so many of us would have given anything to do in the middle of a high school English class: walk the eff away.

And they do. They don’t tell you either. I could not even hazard a guess as to how many times I have wrapped up an eloquent five-minute-long response, (to a question the student asked, mind you) asked if that made sense, and been met with silence.

My solution is to be as strange as possible. My secret hope is that my student’s recently acquired girlfriend is sitting on the couch.

Yeah, babe, online school is pretty okay. I can do whatever I want. It’s pretty sweet.

Then I start singing into the computer microphone.

Oh Tyyyylerrrrrrrrrrr, we really need to finish your eeeeeeeessssssayyyyyyyyy……
Your main points are pretty goooooooooood….
but let’s look at that concluuuuuuuussssssiiiionnnnnn.

Even when they are actually paying attention communication can get a bit snarled.

During one session, while discussing the Civil Rights Movement, I listed several examples of manifestations of Jim Crow laws. Instead of the combination of quotation marks and the end parenthesis I had typed, the program auto-filled a perky little emoticon.

My message read, “Several examples of this were segregated seating on buses, as well as restaurants with signs reading ‘whites only *winky face*.”

As if to say, wouldn’t that be hilarious and fun?

Backpedaling out of an involuntary emoticon situation is something I never thought I would have to do. 

And finally, the three chaos factors that are in perpetual orbit around my desk: the children. These spilling, throwing, smashing, screaming juggernauts are bloody determined to get me fired.

The middle one has been known to  (in the forty five seconds it takes me to get to the restroom and back) climb up onto my desk, grab my office phone, poke the redial button and gibber in her strange alien tongue into the receiver until she sees me running at her. Fortunately, my deranged phone thinks that when you hit redial, you actually want to call the staff member whose extension happens to be the first four digits of the last number you called. And all of the teachers already know I'm weird. 

Nothing derails a live online lesson on citing your sources like a tiny voice saying, Mommee, remember when Ishmael lived in your belly and then came out of your crotch?

Or screaming from the upstairs restroom, 


And so on.

I can state categorically and without guile that there is never a dull day in my line of business. Both in spite of this and because of it, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Very Short Horror Story by Rebecca

The Rat

It all started with an ingrown toenail. Sierra was repulsed by malformations of any kind. The prospect of having to cross paths with an amputee would be enough to drive her to the other side of the street. Even a large scar or a lazy eye would make her shudder and turn away. This was why she ignored and ignored the toe until it was so swollen and throbbing that she could scarcely ease it into a sandal and hobble in to the doctor’s office.

Once there, she flinched and moaned until the doctor, out of exasperation, injected sufficient anesthesia to numb her to all sensation well past her ankle. One would not characterize Sierra as being robust of spirit. Soon, her toe yellow with iodine and packed in gauze, she limped back out to her car.

She arranged her deadened foot safely out of the way of the pedals and got on the highway. To complicate things, she had agreed to house-sit for her brother that weekend, which involved a two-hour-long drive. She had reached cruising speed and the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon to her left when her phone rang in her bag. Her brother.

“Have you left yet? I tried to reach you before you left. I’m sorry. Can you do me a favor?”

“You mean besides watching your house for you all weekend?”

“Har. Yes. Lucifer needs to be fed and I forgot. Will you stop at a pet store and get him a rat?”

“Are you serious? After the day I have already had? I just had minor surgery on my toe!” she snapped.

“What happened? Are you okay?” he said, sounding regretful, “You can cancel on the house. I didn’t know you were injured.”

 She sighed, enjoying making him feel bad for a moment.

“No, it’s fine. Just a gross ingrown toenail. But I’m not buying a rat!”

“Fine,” he replied, “then you can spend the weekend alone in a house with a hungry python.”

“Aarrgh! You are so annoying!” she hit the steering wheel with a fist, “fine! I’ll go buy a disgusting rat for your disgusting snake, you disgusting person!”

And she hung up the phone.

At the next exit that promised commerce, she pulled off and drove around until she found a chain pet store.

“I need a rat,” she mumbled to the perky clerk who asked brightly if he could help her with anything.

“What size would you like? I can let you pick it out,” he chirped, trying to lead her to a cage that was writhing with rodents.

“No! Just get one. I don’t care what size,” she growled, feeling herself beginning to sweat. 

The clerk walked rapidly away. She leaned her weight on her right leg. Her foot did not seem to be coming back to life at all.

“Is this one okay?” asked a voice at her elbow.

She whirled, startled, and found herself face to face with a rat.

It had round, red eyes and huge, yellow front incisors. Its body was covered with thick, coarse, off-white fur. It clung to the hand of the clerk with red, scaled claws, and its repulsive, ropey tail wrapped around his wrist like a serpent.

“Yes! It’s fine!” she shut her eyes, but the image of the rat stayed in her mind.

The clerk calmly put the rat into a small cardboard box, closed it, and punched holes in the top and sides with a pair of blunt scissors. Immediately, the rat stuck his nose out of one of the holes.

“It can’t get out, can it?” she asked, and the clerk just stared at her.

Sierra paid and limped away as fast as she could, panic and humiliation washing over her in waves.

Sierra put the box in the passenger seat. The rat was completely contained, but the mere sight of the box made her jumpy.

Once again, she arranged her numb foot on the floor board, and put the key in the ignition. Back on the highway, she turned on the radio, hoping to take her mind off of her cargo. She managed to find a station with some pop country that came in distant and fuzzy.

Sunlight was beginning to fail and headlights were winking on in cars all around her when she heard it. A slowly, steady grinding sound. Of course! The perfect ending to the perfect day. Car trouble. 

She snapped off the radio and tipped her ear toward the dashboard, trying to find its origin.

Suddenly Sierra felt a chill. She realized where the grinding sound was coming from.

 It was the box.

The rat was chewing the box. But something about the sound was terrifying. 

It wasn't the frantic attempts of a primitive creature that smelled its own death in the corners of its cardboard prison. No; it was the slow, methodical execution of a plan. The rat was slowly, steadily, gnawing at the box. It was only a matter of time. The rat was going to escape.

And it seemed to know it.

Sierra screamed and swerved. Her breath came quickly.

Grind, grind, grind.

At this point it was nearly dark. The interior lights of Sierra’s car had gone out long ago. She realized with mounting panic that very soon she and the rat would be in a completely dark car together. She rolled down the window, ready to fling the box to the will of the Fates in the median of the highway.

She took a deep breath and shifted her anesthetized foot. She was being irrational. The cardboard box was thick. It was just a rat. She had about an hour left in her drive. Surely the box would last that long.

Grind, grind, grind.

She leaned back in her seat and stepped on the gas. Everything was going to be fine. As if to confirm this, the grinding, gnawing sound abated. The prisoner had given up. She imagined it curled inside the box, placidly awaiting its doom.

But…what if it had stopped chewing, not because it had given up, but because it had already escaped?

She reached out to touch the box, to check if was still sound. But then she recoiled, imagining the rat, crouching on top of the conquered box, its nose quivering through the darkness toward her outstretched hand…

She shrieked again, resolving to pull off at the first exit and drive to the sanctuary of a lit gas station. But the miles were desolate, and the signs on the side of the highway gave no hope of rescue.

As minutes passed, her heart thundered and her imagination went wild. Her mind began to vividly animate the rodent's escape. She was sure the rat was perched on the back of her seat, slinky tail wrapped around the head rest, filthy claws clinging to the upholstery, whiskers nearly brushing her neck…

But then she heard it- grind, grind grind.

The sound sent ripples of relief through her taut and shaking body. The rat had begun to chew the box again. The gnawing noises sounded softer and wetter than before. The box was probably nearly shredded, but at least she knew where the rat was. She was twenty-five minutes from her brother’s house, surely the box would last that long.

Sierra sat up straight and drove, strangely soothed by the foul, moist sounds of the rat gnawing at its soggy and disintegrating prison.

At last, she turned onto her brother’s street, thinking how she couldn't wait to take a shower. Even her jeans were soaked in sweat.

As she pulled up to his house, and the motion-sensing light snapped on, Sierra began to scream. In the yellow light she would see that her jeans from the knees down were black with blood. Shredded gauze, sticky with clotted yellow matter littered the floor.

Five pointed, white bones protruded from a tangle of flesh. The rat, now slick and crimson with gore, perched, satiated, on the ruin of what had once been her left foot.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Babysitters: A Call to Arms

People with kids hate people without kids. Sorry, but it’s true. You say cruel things like, “We watched the best movie the other night,” and, “Look at my new sweater!”

We like other people with kids, especially as babysitters. You are nonplussed when my daughter tries to convince you that she is allowed to play outside with no pants on. You get us.  But it is that uncomfortable affection; when you are keenly aware that both parties are a tiny bit lame. Like making friends with someone in your chess club. Or at a They Might Be Giants concert.

Then there is a third group. Couples who want, or are planning to have, or just really really like kids. They are the types who actually look at, like, and even comment on the legions and legions of kid pictures that we put up on Facebook (which, if we were honest with ourselves would acknowledge are nearly identical) . They too are great babysitters. They are fresh meat, not all leathery and tired and gamey like parent-meat.

Ah, babysitters. There is a special place in paradise for you. With a chocolate fountain and…I don’t know what people like…fuzzy socks? One of those scooped-out watermelons but full of cocaine? I’m just trying to make everyone happy here.

But let’s be clear: the interview process will be rigorous and harrowing. I AM scrutinizing you. I didn't haul those things around in my guts for ten months each for you to go and drop them on their heads or let them get into the moonshine. Wait, what moonshine?

So, the interview.

Don’t swagger. Don’t act all self-assured.  Don’t say, “I've got this. Don’t worry about a thing. You guys go have a good time.”

Arrogance is ignorance. And ignorance…that shit will get you killed.

Among your charges is a child who once closed herself in the bathroom, stripped naked, and began systematically dumping water down a heating duct into the expensive, expensive furnace below.

Among your charges is a child who took off her own diaper, then peed, then tried to run from the pee and slipped, crashing to the ground, and lay there, writhing and flailing, resembling the hardwood-and-urine version of a snow angel.

Among your charges is a child who silently and in plain sight built an elaborate structure, climbed it, and crashed through a screened window six feet down into the bushes below, practically at the feet of three adults and two dogs with judgy eyes.

I am stopping myself here; but I could go on and on.

The point is, when you arrive at my door to babysit, there should be a sheen of panic-sweat on your forehead. You should be pallid; your voice should be quavering. A damp, wrinkled notecard of emergency numbers should be clutched in your shaking fist; you should be unable to meet my gaze.

Then you are ready.

On the other end of the spectrum, I also will be reassured by seeing any or all of the following:

  • Paperwork documenting your experience wrangling vicious simians
  • You solving a Rubik’s cube reallyreallyfast
  • An up-to-date hypnotist license
  • The blow gun and tranquilizer darts you are willing to use if things get out of hand
  • A resume that includes foreign diplomacy
  • Scars of any kind

Even with these credentials, every fifteen minutes or so you’re going to want to cup your hand under the middle child’s chin and say, “Pit it out. Pit it out right now.” You know, just to be proactive. Because you can never tell with that one.

Good luck, and we’ll see you on the other side.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Bartending Tip: Upsetting Inedible Garnishes

I do not have the time or money to host sexy cocktail parties.

I will, however, tell you how you can make your (presumably mediocre) sexy cocktail parties better.

While other cocktail party hosts are googling “simple syrup” or jamming sprigs of lavender into vodka bottles, you can make your party the most memorable of them all with this one easy concept:

Upsetting inedible garnishes.

Limes can suck it. There are myriad random objects that can be used as garnishes. They will confuse and alarm your guests. They will have lasting, vivid memories of your party that will surface later in some therapy session.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Dismembered doll bits: this idea is cost-effective, because one doll can go a long way. Also, no one ever forgets finding a Barbie leg in his or her Tequila Sunrise.
  2. Unpaid traffic tickets folded into various origami creatures. This one has layers, man.
  3. I don’t recommend putting anything in the actual drink unless you have guests sign some sort of waiver first. But if you must, I think plastic aquarium plants or old house keys would be fun.
  4. A fishing float: if your guest nervously asks if there is any additional tackle in the drink, dart your eyes back and forth and walk away without answering. 
  5. Cicada exoskeletons.
  6. Tape an inflated balloon to the rim of the glass. At first it seems festive; but it makes the cocktail impossible to drink with any dignity.
  7. Old hotel key cards: use a box cutter to make two parallel cuts about two inches long so that the key card will sort of clip to the rim of the cocktail glass. Give the person you serve this drink to a long, sultry look and whisper a random room number. Hopefully the recipient will make it all the way to the hotel like an idiot before he or she realizes how odd it is that you got a hotel room when the party was at your house.
  8. False eyelashes. I couldn’t even type that without gagging.
  9. Ominous Tarot cards.
  10. *Somehow* affix the string and tag from a tea bag to the rim of the cocktail glass, giving the impression that perhaps Bloody Mary and Earl Grey are getting frisky in there.

If you decide to actually try any of these ridiculous concepts out there in what we perceive to be reality, I hope that  a) no one presses charges, and b) you have the good sense to tell us all about it in the comments.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Mushrooms & Polenta

I have observed that cool people occasionally have recipes on their blogs. I want to be cool. Here is a recipe. I made it up.

Go get:

1 ½ cups of corn meal
½ lb white mushrooms per serving
Some coarsely chopped onion
Some coarsely chopped garlic cloves
Some butter
Some balsamic vinegar
Some goat cheese
Some delicious herbs that you enjoy (fresh)

I know these amounts are vague; but the ratios are really about personal taste. I don’t presume to know how into balsamic vinegar you are.

Mkay. The thing about this recipe is, the two main parts A) take forever, and B) have a nice long counter life. Therefore, you can make them one at a time in whichever order you wish, or, you can try to multitask and make both simultaneously. You can’t lose.

Part 1: Polenta

Apply some sort of lubricant to a 9 x 13” casserole dish.

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a stockpot. Add, I don’t know, maybe 2 tsp salt? I never measure and also never add enough salt to my polenta.

Here is the hard part. Somehow, slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the boiling water while stirring constantly. I have tried a whisk, a wooden spoon, and an electric mixer. I have tried putting the corn meal in a sifter and stirring with the other hand. None of these scenarios could be labelled a success. You are going to burn yourself on this step. Just come to terms with it.

Turn the heat down and keep stirring until it is smooth. Pour it into the casserole dish and smooth the top with a spatula.

It doesn’t take long at all for the polenta to set up. Poke it for fun and also to check it. Cut it into squares, or if you are feeling fancy, use a biscuit cutter to make cute little circles.

Brown each side of the polenta. This takes FOR-E-VER!! I recommend using a griddle: a buttery, buttery griddle. Then you can do a bunch at a time. The sexy toasty corn smell when they start to brown is totally worth the INSANE AMOUNT OF TIME THIS STEP REQUIRES.

Part 2: Delicious Mushroom Stuff

Clean and do whatever you do to mushrooms. Stem them, quarter them, slice them, leave them whole:  I authentically don’t care. SautĂ© them over medium heat in a fat of your choice. I like a nice blend of butter and olive oil.

Bout ten minutes in, add the onion and garlic. This is so they will still have texture and structure at the end.

After a bit (I don’t know how long because I don’t know how hot your stove is and how you cut up your mushrooms) the mushrooms will start emitting their mushroomy juices. Add more butter or olive oil, and a decent amount of balsamic vinegar. The sauce consists of the mushroomy juices, butter, and balsamic vinegar, so consider that. Also, if your heat is too high, some of the balsamic vinegar will evaporate instantly into your face and make your eyes all watery and tingly.

Reduce the liquid until it is a little thicker. You can also use flour or cornstarch if you’re into that.

Now to plate this business.

Put down a piece of sexy toasty polenta. Ladle the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sauce over.  Now do you see why I was vague about the amounts? Mushroom stuff to polenta ratio.

Now top with big glorious chunks of goat cheese and your favorite fresh herb, coarsely chopped (or hand torn, if you are that variety of d-bag). My first choice is basil; but thyme is also quite nice.

OR, if you are feeling ambitious, fry whole sage leaves in half an inch of canola oil for 10-20 seconds. Really no more than 20 seconds. They burn. Your mother in law will not be impressed by your burned sage leaves. She thinks you’re strange enough as it is. Pull them out with chopsticks and drain them on a paper towel.  Arrange artfully atop.

Because of its low protein content, this is really more of a side dish. Perhaps you could main dish it up by putting the whole situation on a bed of arugula and topping it with a nicely-cooked cut of your favorite mammal or fowl. (Favorite EDIBLE mammal or fowl. This dish is good; but it isn’t pet-butcherin’ good.)

Or, God forbid, tofu.

Nom nom nom.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Inevitable Feminist Rant

This might not be what you expect.

The Two-Pronged Attack

My perspective on gender equality is similar to my perspective on equality for any marginalized people. The world does not treat you as it ought. The world thinks less of you than your whiter, straighter, wealthier, more phallus-riddled counterparts. The world needs to change. Yes: protest, litigate, write. Yell and scream at the world. Get in its face. But consider a two-pronged attack. The second prong is YOU.

I believe that the most effective thing that women can do to further the feminist cause is to be An Epic Human Female. If everywhere young people look they see women doing monumental things, they are less likely to grow up assuming that their doctor or mechanic or boss is going to be male. The next generation of women will have more opportunities, and the courage to take advantage of them. The world will be a better place.

If you join the ranks of Epic Human Females, there are no days off. Every day, you must be the best accountant, engineer, teacher, mother, manager, or business owner that you can be. It is exhausting work.

If you are inclined, eschew the status quo. Have you always wanted to coach football? Join the Navy SEALS? Start a construction company? Become a firefighter? Make it happen. You will have to fight hard for it. You may have to get a lawyer. You might make some enemies. However, the next woman will have it a little easier. And the next and the next.

Choose the college major that you actually want, even if you know for a fact that you will be the only woman in all of your classes.

Here is the hard part, though. You don’t get your Feminist Pioneer Patch by simply signing up. You have to kick wholesale ass. This means working harder than you have ever worked before. Like all other marginalized groups, you have to exceed expectations before people will acknowledge that you have met them.


While it might be easy and fun to play the “I’m cute; do this for me” game (okay, really easy and really fun,) you are not doing the women of future generations any favors.

Carry your own heavy shit.

Open your own pickle jars.

Hook up your own Blu-ray player.

Figure out how to work a cordless drill.

Smush (or relocate) your own spidies.

Hold the door open for a guy once, just to see what happens. (They freak out.)

Consider familiarizing yourself with the basics of your automobile. Then your mechanic (of whichever gender) might be less likely to say, “See, your gastric serpentine turbine needs a new photon oscillator plug,” and then charge you $800 for something that doesn’t exist. Just cause you’re a chick.

Hey, you don’t have to do any of this. But if you are at all disgruntled by how women are treated, give it a thinky-thinky.


Please stop using the word “pussy” as a synonym for something weak. It doesn’t even make sense. As my idiotic male friends in college repeatedly demonstrated, a mere well-aimed finger flick can fell The Mighty Dick & Balls. (But who doesn’t enjoy a bracing round of Bag Tag?) Meanwhile women shove entire small people out of their…pussies. No one that I know has ever gotten anything more interesting than a kidney stone to come out of his wiener.

I know I said I wouldn't judge you but

If I overhear you at the bar telling your friends that you have to wait until your boyfriend gets home so he can put your framed picture of your kitty on the wall, or put together your bloody Ikea bookshelf for you, I swear by my own ovaries that I will purchase the most caustic drink the bar has to offer, fill it with toothpicks, and then pretend to trip and pour it on your face.

Get out there and be amazing, ladies. I love you all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lying to Children by Susanna Grubb

I have been told that cool people have guest authors write articles for their blogs. To that end, I respectfully and temporarily relinquish the stage to my sister and fellow circus freak, Susanna!

Let me begin by saying that as someone who both has a child of her own, and personally knows the children of this blogger: I would salute her if I didn't think she would mistake it for encouragement and have another one. I hope she knows we all expect to someday walk in and find her gnawed-upon skeletal remains on the living room floor with her babies crawling all over her, like those people who live alone and are eaten by their cats when they die.
Lying to children is a divisive subject, raising issues of morality, social mores, and cultural values. While each person’s position is highly nuanced, those nuances are extremely boring and everyone can pretty much be put into one of three categories: those who deceive their children about painful or embarrassing things until they are old enough to handle it (most people); those who are completely honest and answer all of their kids’ questions without mincing words, resulting in children who know what genocide is and who talk openly about their vaginas and penes (that’s right, penes), to the horror of the other children (progressive types); and those who abuse the trusting relationship inherent to parenthood and lie to their children recreationally.
            It should come as no surprise that I fall into the latter category. I am what you call a “bad mom,” mostly because I am a bad person who happens to be a mom. And it turns out that if you want to openly lie to your offspring, nobody will stop you. I don’t bother to lie about stupid stuff like Santa Claus (speaking of which, why do we perpetuate a massive falsehood that only produces disappointment when it ends, and prevents parents from getting the credit they deserve for choosing and buying presents? Dumb.), but lying to kids about other stuff is perfect for getting out of explaining awkward stuff, and also for entertainment.
            For example, when my kid asked me where babies came from, I told her I didn't know where other people’s babies came from, but she came from the experimental fetus the aliens implanted in mommy when they took her up in their spaceship. I put her on the lookout for developing alien powers, so sometimes she tries to levitate, or makes me check her for wings, or asks me to turn the light out in her room and see if she is glowing.
            So if you are someone who isn't particularly hampered by a sense of right and wrong, try lying to your children recreationally today. Chances are you have already been lying to them about things that are much more meaningful, so you might as well have fun with it. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Twins Are Creepy

As children, my sister and I were less The Parent Trap and more The Shining. I think twins are creepy. Why are there two of them? If nature couldn't afford two faces, what else do they share? A soul? If you pinch one, does the other one feel it? Why are they looking at me like that? They have sharp little teeth.

In northern Ohio there is a city called Twinsburg. Every year this city hosts The Twins Day Festival, and the city is flooded with these genetic anomalies and their hangers-on. There is an alarming number of sets of twins that marry sets of twins. Eesh. Have fun spending the rest of your days living out a gimmick, weirdos.

What most people don’t consider is that being a twin is not all Doublemint commercials and switching classes to see if anyone notices. (They don’t.)

Your mother dresses you the same until you figure out how to sharpen a stick to fight her off. 

You spend your whole life with that eerie feeling that someday you are going to stumble across a warehouse full of tanks with thousands more of you floating in suspended animation. Waiting to awaken and spread across the landscape like locusts.

At any given moment someone could wander up to you and start a conversation, only revealing once you are too far in to explain that you aren't your sister that the two of you had some sort of connection that you really should be able to recall and give specific details about. Sorry, confused coffee shop guy.

These are the things I live with every day.

By the way, you are a total jerk if you have ever:

      1. Squinted at each twin in turn, rubbed your eyes, and then asked, “Am I seeing double?”
2. Asked which one is the evil twin
3. Sighed and said, “I always wished I had a twin.”
4. Hit on twins as if they were a unit, or possibly some sort of buy one get one free deal. 
          Contrary to what the porn industry would like for you to believe, we aren't into that.

Having said all of this, I will reveal to you that the sole purpose of this article was to introduce the guest author for my next article. Keep your eyes peeled for my next post, because it will feature the unholy sass of my own personal duplicate.

And by my estimation, she is (give or take) 105 pounds of grade-A biotch. So this should be interesting.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rebecca on Tattoos & Piercings

I like my nose; it is cute like a button.  So I did what BeyoncĂ© told me to and put a ring on it. I felt the same way about my tongue, the entire length of both earlobes, both nipples, and that little nub that stands guard over my ear canal. Tragus?

Most of those piercings went away in favor of things like nursing babies and successfully pronouncing words that contain lingual phonemes*. However, I still think, in general, that piercings and tattoos are pretty neat, suckas.

Why do it? Both tattoos and piercings, by my logic, fall into the category of expressive self-decoration. Throughout history, cultures around the world have altered their bodies for decorative purposes. I would argue that if you have ever straightened your hair, applied lipstick, or even donned an article of clothing for its form rather than its function, then you should probably shut your silly noise hole about tattoos and piercings.

That shit ain’t washin’ off.  The majority of people’s objections to tattoos center on their permanent nature. What could possibly be so important, they wail, that you must INJECT IT INTO YOUR SKIN FOR ALL TIME? I say that is what makes tattoos that much more interesting. Unless your local tattoo artist did a very bad job of explaining things, you are pretty aware that that shit ain’t washin’ off.  This lends a great deal of gravity to the content that you choose.

Tattoos are art. This is what makes me love them.  One must transform an important idea, a facet of one’s personality, or an event that merits commemoration, into a visual symbol. The body as a canvas is a nuanced concept. It is a living surface. The tattoo interacts with the contours of the body, the lines of clothing. Gestures, posture, even muscle tone become part of it.

Although… Having said all of that, I will secretly roll my eyes if you do the following:

1.       Get super drunk at Parents’ Weekend at your daughter’s college and get the footprint of the university mascot tattooed on your butt cheek. Really wild, mom.

2.       Get anything off the wall at the tattoo shop. Ever. Ever. For any reason. Ever. Think for yourself, you lemming.

3.       Get any symbol representing a sports team or band unless you are a member of, own, coach, or manage said organization. I don’t care how big of a fan you are. It’s not okay.

Accept the Consequences. You can do whatever you want. You are free like that. But you live in mixed company. If you decide that your bliss is to pierce everything that protrudes and get “We come in peace” tattooed in runes on your neck, I say go for it. When the diner owner won’t hire you, it isn’t because she is an a-hole. It’s because she is not an idiot. I like tattoos and piercings; you like tattoos and piercings, but there are a lot of Americans who don’t.  And it is money out of the cash register if a customer is put off of his tuna melt because his server looks like that guy from Hellraiser.

*Look it up.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rebecca Likes Swears

Profanity is tits. “Tits” isn’t profanity, but I wish it was.

I was really, really not allowed to use profanity as a child. I still don’t curse around my parents. I sincerely hope my mother does not read this. Ever. But as I became an avid reader and sometimes writer, I developed affection for the spectrum of words. Profanity makes good things great. It is the MSG of language.

Don’t act all offended. I believe that if you looked into your heart, you would agree with me. Your favorite line from Gone with the Wind contains profanity. Your favorite line from Die Hard contains profanity. The dialogue of The Big Lebowski (according to unlicensed, unbonded sources on the interwebs) includes 271 incidences of the word “fuck,” and it is the best movie ever made.

Now, it should be noted that there is a time and a place for such juicy vocabulary choices. People betray their ignorance when they cannot differentiate betwixt formal and informal communication. I am a high school English teacher. I would never, ever use profanity in the classroom, in written or spoken feedback to students, or in conversation with my colleagues. This blog, by contrast, is quite informal. Its objective is to amuse and possibly generate thought and conversation. You dipshits.

Here are my thoughts on profanity:

·         Words are words. I wish I could mutter “lumos,” all Harry Potter-style and illuminate my darkened bathroom in the dead of night. But sadly, words are just words. “Shit” and “poo” mean the same thing. If the objective of language is to communicate, profanity succeeds in doing so. All profanity that I know has synonyms. None exclusively represents a concept so reprehensible that avoiding it would brighten humanity’s existence in any way.

·         Variety is good. Language is like food, in that it is best to seek out the widest variety of both that can be acquired without causing harm. I would prefer to eschew food that results from force-feeding geese or putting calves in boxes or gutting pregnant fish; meanwhile, extended exposure to profanity fails to even blister the skin.

·         Profanity drinks the blood of its enemies. What do I mean by this? Connotation. Let’s say Ned comes across the word “bitch” in the novel he is perusing. In that instant, he recalls every annoying tsk noise, every lowered brow, every shaken head, every “Oh dear, oh my,” that he has witnessed in association with this word. Then he thinks, “Well damn! The author must really mean what he or she says here.” The more people react, the more of an effect the word will have. It’s brilliant, really. Like Chinese finger cuffs. Or quicksand, maybe.

My editor tells me to add more profanity to make the article edgier.


Fine. I don’t have an editor.

Strangely, I am interested in my readers’ thoughts on this.

I may have been arrogant in putting the apostrophe after the “s” there. Time will tell. Leave a comment!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Personality Quiz

What sort of person are you? Your existence can be summarized and analyzed once and for all by taking this quiz! It makes perfect sense.

1.  Which organization would you most like to join? 

               a)      Cirque de Soleil
               b)      The Borg
               c)       The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

2.  Alcohol and peer pressure are most likely to induce you to:

              a)      Eat gum from the underside of the bar
              b)      Get the lyrics of “Danny Boy” tattooed on your back
              c)       Marry a drifter

3. You would rather visit:

              a)      Oz
              b)      Middle Earth
              c)       Narnia

4. Which clouds are the cutest? 
              a)      Cirrus
              b)      Cumulus
              c)       Stratus

5. If you were going to catfish someone, you would pose as:

              a)      Me
              b)      A black market art dealer
              c)       President Obama

6. What is the best thing about David Bowie?

              a)      His music
              b)      The Labyrinth
              c)       The fact that you can’t tell if he is a boy or a girl and you LIKE IT!
               (okay, b and c are pretty much the same)

Mostly A’s:

You will have no idea what to do with yourself once this hipster thing is over. Go crouch behind a food truck, stroke your handlebar mustache, and listen to Sun Kil Moon.  I loathe you.

Mostly B’s:

You are the worst kind of person. If people were places, you would be Flint, Michigan. Sit down. Make a list of the last five major life decisions you made. Then go back and do exactly the opposite.

Mostly C’s:

You have the class and subtlety of a set of trailer hitch testicles. Let’s be best friends.

Please Note: There is no actual correlation between the questions and, well, anything. It was just a thinly-veiled excuse to insult you. Although you should definitely let everyone know which one you were in the comments.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rebecca Hates Sports

I am not a girly girl. I know the difference between a miter saw and a router, and I am pretty sure I have been wearing eyeliner incorrectly for the past fifteen years. But if someone so much as underhand throws a partially deflated beach ball in my direction, I instantly sprout press-on nails and a mini skirt and squeal, “Eeeeeeeeeeeeee! That ball-thing is going to kill meeeee!”

How do I hate sports? Let me count the ways:

1.       I hate playing sports. I have foggy memories of some sort of T-ball set up, but I don’t know how that panned out. And maybe Bocce? Hmmm. That seems unlikely. I really should interview my parents on the subject and get back to you.
      Yes, college freshman three weeks into your Psych 101 class, I hate sports because I am bad at them. Good job. Clap, clap, clap. 

      You would think I would be a good athlete. I am a good runner and have oddly long legs for my height. My husband can’t get into fifth gear when I am in the passenger seat. I wish that was a reference to some strange sex move, but it isn’t. Anyway, he has dubbed me “The Crane Wife”. Again, not a sex move. Pervs.

2.       I hate watching sporting events. Whether live or televised, being a spectator at a sporting event is my idea of Dante-style Purgatory. American football is particularly dreadful. Everything happens in fifteen-second intervals. Then it all stops and thick-necked men in suits bray unsolicited conjecture on what they should have done, and which player is most valuable. Games last for hours. The viewers get angry and eat lots of chips. I have often thought that one could put a herd of bison in jerseys and let them wander around the field, grazing and pooping and getting spooked by air horns and it would look pretty much the same. 

      Because of my membership in the marching band, I attended every single football game for my four years of high school. The ONLY THING I REMEMBER from those four years is the low brass getting in trouble for playing “Another One Bites the Dust” when football players got injured and had to be taken off the field.
      I went to a Cincinnati Reds game once and found it such a bewildering cacophony of advertisements and giant screens that I could barely focus on the microscopic players scurrying around, spitting, and slapping one another’s rears far below.

3.       Sports movies are all terrible. They are all exactly the same and horribly predictable. A motley crew of mismatched losers and a coach with some personal problem come together and either Win the Big Game Against All Odds OR Lose the Big Game But It Doesn’t Matter Because They Grew So Much As People. Lots of balls flying through the air in slow motion. Gah. 

      The only exception would be A League of Their Own, for obvious reasons. Field of Dreams is okay. 

      Does Alien vs. Predator count as a sports movie? 

      I think it should. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chuck Wendig Fills Me With Ire

For you sillies who don’t know, Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. I was lured in by one of his blog posts that my sister-in-law put up on Facebook. It was about raising small children and it was irreverently hilarious, unlike most parenting blogs, which are sentimental, boring, and preachy. Like a sucker, I subscribed to it, Well. He does write about funny kid stuff; but primarily he dishes out writerly wisdom for the Ambitiously Scribulous. That, that is the salt in the wound, the sriracha in the tear duct, the sand in the bikini bottoms. Let me tell you a bit about myself.

In college, I worked at a coffee shop, didn’t shave anything or wear a bra, and thought that having children contributed to overpopulation and was evil. Since then I have revised my personal philosophy and spawned three ridiculous children who will almost certainly make the world a better place. Well, the middle one might explode it. I caught her frenching an electrical outlet the other day. And before you say anything, there was an outlet cover. She knows how to pull those out. Anyway.

At this juncture in the space-time continuum, I am teaching high school English online whilst mommying said three children. I would not change it for the world; but it is pretty stressful. I work in say, four to ten minute-long intervals, bookended by someone needing something. Crackers, Neosporin, rescue from mortal peril. All day every day. I mean, I’m not going to Shutter Island them or anything; but they drive me legit bonkers.

Like every English teacher worth her or his salt, I secretly think I am a good writer. I would commit messy, badly-planned murder for a year to just WRITE. I wanna be Annie Proulx, Douglas Adams, Chuck Palahniuk, Charlotte Bronte, Kurt Vonnegut. But who doesn’t? I tell myself that all of the little outlines hanging out in the “Writing” folder on my desktop could be fleshed out into some really good stuff. I tell myself I could bang out a short novel in a few months, if I had the chance to just write.  In the meantime, and because I fear failure, I tell no one about the writing. Shhhh. Enter Chuck Wendig.

If you are serious about writing, you’ll make it happen, he says. 

Saying you don’t have enough time is just an excuse, he says.

Get to it and write, he says. 

And that, that is why Chuck Wendig Fills Me With Ire. Since I have subscribed to his devil-blog, his spirit has been wafting about my house on Cupid wings, peppering me with delightfully crass anatomical insults like Dick Tit and Ass Gnome. Actually, I came up with those, but he would totally say them.

But the point is he bothers me because I want to write but I am REALLY QUITE BUSY. I honestly think that I don’t have the physical coordination to cram anything else into my life. Right now, for example, I am gazing at what appears to be an underfed spider monkey demonstrating the Pile Driver on an indifferent pony keg. My eyes focus and I realize that it is just the middle child repeatedly body-slamming the baby. Should probably attend to that.

To silence the Wendig-demon, I have decided to join the league of d-bags who have a blog. I make no commitment to post on a regular basis. I might not ever post again. Who knows?

My three year old pops her curly blonde head up next to my computer.
“Whatcha doin’, Mommeee?”
I minimize the browser with the guilty start of a busted porn connoisseur.
“What? Nothing. Drugs. Mommy’s doing drugs.”
So there you have it.

Bloggity blog.