Monday, September 30, 2013

This One's For The Gays


A piece I wrote recently for the New Wave Feminists blog explains why homosexuals should be pro-life.

Dear Gay People,

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I am Catholic. I am a conservative libertarian. I am pro-life. I love the Constitution and Jesus and guns and all that stuff.

I also love you, gay people. I don't know why all you gay people are gay. If God wanted me to know, maybe He would have told me. Perhaps God put all of us different types of people on earth as some sort of crazy test to see if we can really do that whole "love thy neighbor" thing. Who knows?

I'm fine if someone doesn't want their kids around gay people - that's a parent's prerogative. I'm fine if someone doesn't like gay people. That's a personal decision. We shouldn't be forced to participate in something we don't believe in, but neither can we deny free will and individual liberty.

Keep reading here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The ABCs of Autumn

 
 
Remember when you were a kid and October would roll around? You'd just be starting to really feel the weariness of the school year set in, when all the sudden you'd walk into your Social Studies class and see a beautiful sight: a rolling TV stand in front of the chalkboard.
 
The teacher would seem unusually relaxed. There would be no dreaded stack of worksheets on the desk, but something else: a plastic jack-o-lantern with a black handle. 
 
You'd feel a little tingle, thinking: there's candy in there. (All children have candar.)
 
Everyone would sit on the floor, the lights would go out, the candy would get passed around, and a Halloween movie, like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, would enthrall you.
 
That's the day you knew the holiday season was unofficially starting. From now on there would be cool weather at recess, and extra little something - a delicious combination of festivity and laziness - in every class, lasting all the way up to the Christmas break.
 
As you get older, it gets harder to conjure up that feeling. But when I woke up today, two things were happening:
 
1. There was a "South Park" marathon on Comedy Central. In anticipation of the new season beginning this Wednesday, the station decided to bless my life with literally an entire day of Cartman & co.
 
God loves me.
 
2. The other thing happening when I woke up? Gorgeous weather. It's not exactly cool out, but it's almost there.
 
These two signs of fall- new "South Park" and good weather - inspired me to inspire you with the Chronicles of Radness ABCs of Autumn.

 

A is for Ass

Mine is about to get bigger. I am committed to a zero carb diet, but I fully admit I will cheat on the following days: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. I know it's only four days, but every gram of carb will become a gram of ass. Mark my words.

B is for Broke

Even if I'm not broke in the fall, I feel broke when I contemplate coming up with Christmas gifts for all 433 of my friends and relatives. It would be so helpful if I didn't love people and want to give them things.


C is for Cartman

Speaking of sociopaths, like I said, the new season of "South Park" premieres this Wednesday! There is once again a reason to turn on the TV. (Besides "Friends" and "Orphan Black" reruns.)

D is for Dipshits

This is my favorite time of year, but my how the stores and malls and everywhere else become clogged with assholes. November is when they really start to crawl out of the woodwork, but it won't be until mid-December that people start shanking each other in Bed Bath & Beyond over the last electric foot spa.

E is for Eating

I've said goodbye to carbs, but this time of year I become obsessed with all the shit I can't eat. Having recently read all the Harry Potter books, I am now obsessed not only with existing foodstuffs, but imaginary ones: how fucking good does a pumpkin pasty sound?


F is for Fall Fashion

Finally. Finally. Leggings, tights, scarves, sweaters, cardigans, knee socks, boots, hats... After spending months schlepping around in the lightest knits you can find, layering is finally back in your vocab.

So it's time to head on over to Pinterest and feel that feeling I call "pinspiration," which is a combination of soaring creative inspiration and abject despair. All those outfits I totally appreciate and deserve cost more than my truck and are intended for people who land in a very different body fat category.


G is for Guns

Fall is the best shooting weather. Don't be a sissy. Strap up and get your bang-bang on.

H is for Home

The best part of the holidays is seeing family, but the worst part is figuring out how to divide a very small amount of time between Mom, Dad, and in-laws, who in an apparent effort to make everything complicated, insist on living in three different states.

I used to have this dream that everybody I love would live on the same street. Better yet, all together in a giant house with various wings and whatnot. Oh, and a room made of trampolines. And a heated pool with a glass dome for a ceiling.

Not everything works out like you imagine.



I is for It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Those classic Peanuts cartoons are still hilarious and poignant, and the story of the Great Pumpkin is one of the best. If you were to put on some knee-high orange-and-black-striped socks, curl up on the couch with a blanket, and drink a pumpkin spice latte while watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, you might achieve nirvana.

J is for Jackets

Outerwear, baby. Bust it on out.

My goal is to find and afford an authentic vintage black leather motorcycle jacket. So if you wanna buy me one... You just go ahead and feel free.

K is for Keeping Warm

Fireplaces, hot chocolate and cider, cozy clothes, coffee... All the various methods of staying warm are most of what make fall so magical for those of us who live in places with really hot summers.

It really is like a magic trick when those first cool days show up. "How is it possible that I'm turning off the A/C in my truck?" I thought to myself today. That first time I turn the heater on... It's a beautiful moment every year.


L is for Lattes

Breve lattes, to be exact. If you've never had a latte or cappuccino made with half-and-half instead of milk, go directly to your friendly neighborhood coffee shop and ask for one. You can thank me later. Then put on an adorable fall outfit and have someone take a photo of you with your to-go cup and put it on Pinterest, because apparently that is required by law now.


M is for Martha Stewart Living

Does anybody else want to murder Martha Stewart while she sleeps? Here is what happens in your brain when you look through an issue of Martha Stewart Living:

1. Wow, look at how gorgeous this pumpkin-related project looks. And it's so easy! I'll just turn down the corner of this page...
2. Wait, this project looks cool, too. Ooh, and these party decorations... I should have a party... This recipe would be perfect to make if I just had coriander seeds...
3. *Bzzztzzztzfjfhghfjfh OVERLOAD OVERLOAD OVERLOAD*
4. FUCK IT.


N is for The Nightmare Before Christmas

The truth is, I always get bored like an hour into this movie and quit watching, but the imagery is perfection, and Jack Skellington's voice is like buttah.

O is for October

Quite simply the best month of the year: it's just turning cool outside, so it feels like it'll be years before you're tired of jacket weather. There are Halloween decorations everywhere, and you realize Hobby Lobby wants every penny of your paycheck. You have all the glorious anticipation of the holidays and none of the disappointment... yet.

Oh, and my wedding anniversary! Speaking of which...

 

P is for Pumpkins

As you already know if you attended or have seen photos of my wedding, such as the one above, pumpkins are pretty much my favorite.


Q is for Quidditch

At some point between now and Christmas, do yourself a favor and have a Harry Potter movie marathon. Better yet, read all the books. I did this at age 33, and it was a fantastic idea.

All the stories start at the beginning of the school year - i.e., the fall - and most of the films include a gloriously festive Christmas celebration. When you add all the pumpkin-related goodies and butterbeer, not to mention the magic, you have the perfect fall and winter entertainment.

R is for Recipes

For every major holiday I swear I'm going to make some incredible recipe from scratch. How do you think that turns out? If you guessed "hahaha yeah right," you are correct.


S is for Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, that is! Bare branches against a big white moon, pumpkin patches, and spooky music? Yes please. Unfortunately, that classic cartoon is hard to find unless you want a $50 VHS tape. While I'm not a huge fan of the Tim Burton version from 1999, starring Johnny Depp and his cheekbone hollows, it's pretty satisfying on a cold October night.

T is for Trick or Treating

My friend Brooklyn and I used to go trick or treating together when we were in elementary school. Her mom would leave the door to the mini-van open and just roll from block to block, and the whole big group of us would hop out and back in repeatedly. (Brooke's mom would also take us out in that same mini-van to wrap houses with toilet paper, but that's another post.)

There is very little in life more magical than being a kid on Halloween, dressed up like Elvira Mistress of the Dark and trick-or-treating with your friends. As an adult, it seems like Halloween never quite lives up to the hype, and I know deep down it's because a 34-year-old trick-or-treating is frowned upon.

U is for Up Yours, January

January is the worst month of the year. It means the holidays are over. It means the cold weather will stop feeling refreshing and start feeling like Seasonal Affective Disorder. But it's not January yet! It's autumn! Rejoice!


V is for Viggo

'Tis the season for curling up with some fam or your best mates and watching The Lord of the Rings. If you've never seen the extended versions, do it. Want one good reason? Aragorn sings. Yeah. You're welcome.



W is for Winter Is Coming

As the Starks so simply and eloquently tell us, winter is right around the corner. In my part of the world, that means blessedly cool (and occasionally even cold) weather, and all the badassery and beauty that is Christmas.

X is for X- ray

October is the only month of the year you can walk around in X-ray clothing without looking like you listened to too much Nine Inch Nails as a teenager. Enjoy it while you can.

Also - if you're pregnant in October and don't wear the maternity skeleton shirt, I don't want to know you.

Y is for Yams

Cut up some yams and boil them with the skin still on. Mash them up. Mix in real butter, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Put a big pile in a bowl. Now crumble some goat cheese or feta over the top. If you want, add grape halves and chopped pecans. Then drizzle with honey. You owe me money for this.



Z is for Zombies

I know, I know. You're sick of zombies. So am I. But they're a part of our culture now, and 'tis the season to be undead. Embrace the zed word and watch at least one zombie-related movie or TV show this year.


Here's wishing you an autumn literally crammed full of radness!

What's your favorite letter of the Chronicles of Radness ABCs of Autumn? What would you add?

Friday, September 20, 2013

That Time I Got Drunk and Met Viggo Mortensen



This is a story about how I took advantage of a mentally challenged person in order to meet a celebrity. But it's not nearly as bad as it sounds.

Probably.

Many years ago, I went to a community college and worked for their journalism department. I wrote all kinds of stuff, but my opinion columns are what made me well-known. I even got fan mail from professors. Most of my columns were about how George W. Bush was an asshole, or something along those lines.

Anyway, for a while I was the editor of the Arts & Entertainment section, and during that time, I had a writer whom I'll call Jimmy. Jimmy had once been a professional film critic for a well-known local magazine, but a car wreck had left him with a brain injury that ended his career.

Jimmy was in his 30s or so, but he functioned like a child. His dad would drop him off at school every day and pick him up in the afternoon. He walked with a slow, shuffling step, hands clenched at his sides, and spoke with an inappropriately loud voice. I still remember him yelling, "HI, KRISTEN!"

And, God help me, I would cringe. Because Jimmy still loved movies and he loved writing and he wanted to write movie reviews. As the A&E editor, Jimmy's attempts at reviewing movies became my problem.

I have a heart, and I appreciated that this man had once been, by all accounts, one hell of a writer. I felt like he deserved all the respect and help I could give him, but I also had the responsibility to put quality content in my section of the paper. I swear I did my best to work with the broken and incoherent "stories" he submitted, but most of them were simply not publishable without being completely rewritten.

Here's some heart-warming shit, though: Jimmy's old friends and connections still retained a lot of affection for him, and despite the tragic end to his career, they kept him on their mailing lists, so he got emails and media kits and invitations and press releases and passes none of us got. This dude was connected.

He still went to a lot of screenings and other functions, shuffling along with his red backpack, everyone clapping him on the back and saying, "Hey Jimmy!" and feeling fucking horrible inside.

Now, around this time, the third movie in the Lord of the Rings franchise was not long out, and it was common knowledge around the newsroom that I was a total freak for those films. So one day I walked into the newsroom and I heard Jimmy's voice: "HI, KRISTEN!"

"Hi, Jimmy," I said.

"VIGGO'S COMING."

That stopped me in my tracks. "What?" I said.

"VIGGO MORTENSEN IS COMING TO TOWN FOR AN INTERVIEW FOR HIS NEW MOVIE."

"Holy shit, Jimmy," I said. "Jimmy. You have to get me into that interview."

"OKAY, KRISTEN," he said. He was a real sweetheart.

"Jimmy, listen to me. I need to be at that interview."

"OKAY, KRISTEN," he said.

So Jimmy forwarded me an e-mail, but he also RSVPed for the event himself. That led to a situation where I was told that only a certain number of college journalists were allowed to the group interview, and since Jimmy was already on the list for our school, he couldn't let me in.

So I gently explained to the dude - who was really snooty and appropriately named Todd - that Jimmy was not able to adequately report for us, so I would need to be there. I tried to make myself sound kind but professional, just a dispassionate journalist trying to make sure the story got covered.

Todd never responded.

So I did what intrepid reporters have done from time immemorial: I decided to go anyway. Because fuck the man.

But you should probably know I had little to no interest in reporting, and all kinds of interest in basking in the presence of Viggo, because I was borderline in love with him.

I made it my business, in the weeks between being e-snubbed by Todd and the day of the interview, learning every single solitary thing about Viggo Mortensen that I didn't already know, from his fluency in Spanish to his dislike of bathing to his poetry and painting and beyond. I knew he had a son with his ex-wife Exene Cervenka, the lead singer of the punk-rock band, X. (I even started listening to their music and remain a huge fan.) I knew he spent much of his childhood in Argentina. I knew he was Danish and spoke Danish. I knew he was super bad-ass at his stunts as Aragorn and was an accomplished swordsman and horseman. I knew, I knew, I knew. All kinds of shit.

I also knew he was a liberal like me. He had links on his website to groups like Code Pink. He loved Cindy Sheehan and Dennis Kucinich and Noam Chomsky.

Since we were meant to be, I wanted him to know it. I bought Noam Chomsky's new book, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Empire, and read (almost) all of it. I was going to be prepared.

***
 
The day of the interview arrived. The purpose of the media round-table was to promote Viggo's new movie, Hidalgo, and it was to take place at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas.

I almost didn't go, because I was in no way invited or technically allowed. But the part of me that has shame was defeated by the part of me that says "Hey, you know what? Fuck it." So I went.

I came up with this plan. The plan went like this: I would show up at the hotel, and then I would... be... at the hotel. And that was about it.

My roommate Michaela drove me because the clutch was out on my old Altima. She and I went into the bar for drinks beforehand. I needed the liquid courage. As we entered the lobby of the luxurious hotel, me clutching my thrift-store bag and my copy of Chomsky's book, we felt incredibly poor. I was standing on a rug that cost more than me, in frayed corduroys, with a nose piercing.

"We don't belong here," I whispered.

As we made our way to the empty bar for $12 cocktails, Michaela and I decided that if anyone asked who we were, we would pretend to be the daughters of a wealthy businessman who dressed shabbily to express disdain for our massive inheritance.

That's how unused to the whole culture of wealth we were: we didn't realize that as long as you act like you belong, no one is going to bug you in a fancy hotel. It's part of what you're paying for.

As we drank martinis, we pretended to discuss our imaginary daddy's birthday present, a mini-humidor for his office. We also systematically ate an entire bowl of complementary nuts. We were hungry, and this shit was dee-lux. They had Brazil nuts!

Then it was time for me to go upstairs and face my destiny. Michaela left to pick up her daughter from school, promising to collect me in a couple hours. Which meant if I got kicked out of the interview by Todd - a very real possibility - I would just have to go back downstairs and drink by myself, which is something I'm even better at than journalism.

So I headed upstairs, belly sloshing with Planter's Deluxe Mix and gin. As I ascended, I realized the fashionably voluminous wool scarf I was wearing, and which was essential to my ensemble, was conspiring with the alcohol in my bloodstream to raise my body temperature to about 108 degrees. But I couldn't take it off. It was part of the awesomeness I wanted Viggo to understand about me.

By the time I got to the press room, I knew I was kinda drunk. I saw a room full of round tables with white tablecloths, and journalists milling around eating finger foods. Jimmy was sitting with some of his old friends. ("HI, KRISTEN!" "Hi, Jimmy.") There was his trusty backpack, and a shopping bag full of Lord of the Rings toys which he was going to ask Viggo to sign.

I stumbled over to the complimentary spread, ignored the cheese cubes and Clif bars, and grabbed myself a bottle of cold water. My body temp was approaching 114 degrees and I was sweating like a lumberjack.

I found a seat and got my little notebook and voice recorder out. Then I realized: there was no tape in my recorder. I was so concerned about bringing the right book and presenting the right image that I forgot to be a fucking journalist. But it was okay, because gin.

I remember literally shrugging and sitting back in my chair. This made some of the other journalists realize I was probably cool, and pretty soon some guy with tattoos and a baseball cap who wrote for a major newspaper was talking to me about something or other.

About this time, Todd came into the room. I had never seen him, but I knew it was him. He was wearing a nice suit - I could tell it was nice because he looked like he knew it was nice - and carrying a clipboard. He looked like someone had put something uncomfortable in his ass a long time ago, and he had just learned to deal with it. I sat there sweating and staring at him, gulping my water, as he looked at each person in the room and checked something off on his clipboard.

Someone came up behind him and said something, and he abruptly left the room. He had never looked at me. I breathed.

Several interminable minutes later, as I attempted to have a conversation while pretending not to be a perspiring drunk person, Todd came back into the room and apologized for the delay. He said it was time for the interview, and would we please follow him. I got up and joined the herd filing past Todd into hallway, as he busily looked at us and ticked things off on the clipboard again.

I was almost past him when he saw me. I had been doing my best to become invisible, trying to tuck my face into my huge wool scarf, which had become so hot it was like wearing a lava flow around my neck.

But Todd's beady little eyes had fixed on me.

"What's your name?" he snapped.

I stopped walking abruptly and almost fell down. I turned to Todd, choosing to ignore the fact that I had almost just fallen to the floor, and told him my first name, which is not the name I go by. Why did I do that? I don't know. It seemed like it might be a neat trick. Because gin.

Todd consulted his list. "I don't have you on here," he lisped menacingly, still sneering at me.

"I might be on there as Kristen," I said.

He looked at the clipboard again, then asked, "Who are you with?"

I told him. His eyes narrowed. He sneered at me again, or more accurately, he never stopped sneering.

"Oh," he said. That "oh" said everything. He knew who I was. He knew I had not been approved. He knew why I wasn't on the list.

I watched the knowledge dawn on him: I was crashing his interview.

At that moment I was ready to run Todd down to get into that room. I was going to present myself before the one they call Viggo if it meant I had to chew Todd's jugular out of his neck with my bare human teeth.

My drunk mind tried to assert its will silently on Todd's consciousness. I'm pretty sure there was visible sweat on my face, and my eyes were probably blazing as I thought "YOU'RE LETTING ME IN THAT ROOM, TODD."

Todd sighed tragically. Maybe he was afraid of the crazy redhead with the facial piercing and the enormous scarf who was sweating freely and glaring at him. Maybe he was just tired. He seemed tired. So he said, "If there's enough room..."

I managed to smile and nod somewhat professionally, then turned and followed everyone else in, hoping against hope. The room was small and narrow, with a window at the opposite end, filled almost completely by a large, rectangular, handsome conference table and about twelve chairs. I went in and sat down in a seat at the far end. I looked around. Everyone had a seat, and one chair at the end of the table was empty. It was the throne of Gondor, waiting for its King.

I looked at Todd. He looked at me. His lips pursed. Then he looked around the room, nodded, said, "Viggo will be just a moment," and shut the door.

I was in.

***


What happens next is this:

Viggo Mortensen walks into the room. I am struck by how small he is. He is not a big, strapping dude: under six feet tall and somewhat wiry. His straight, fine, sandy hair is longish and almost sweeps the collar of his red Hidalgo T-shirt in the back. He has 5 o'clock shadow. His eyes are a piercing grey-turquoise, visible from across the room. He wears jeans. He is barefoot and carries a little wooden ball with a silver pipe sticking out of it.

Because I've done my Viggo homework, I know this is a device they use in Argentina for drinking tea for some fucking reason. One of the first things Viggo says, in fact, is a little joke about having his super rad Argentine tea ball scrutinized at airports, and it does indeed look like a primitive hand grenade or a homemade bong.

The overall impression is of a strikingly handsome hippie in his early 40s, who knows he is terribly good-looking and feels a little apologetic about it.

First thing's first: Viggo says hello, sits down, and invites everyone to pass up their voice recorders, which he carefully arranges in a semi-circle around himself in an adorable manner.

I try to make myself invisible during all this. I have decided not to pass forward my worthless, tape-less recorder, because if Viggo notices I have no tape, he might helpfully point this out, and then I will have to pretend like I didn't know, and then pretend to search for a tape... You get the idea. It could be super awful. So I just disappear behind my scarf and ready my pen above my notebook. Luckily, no one notices.

Most of the interview consists of Viggo talking and three middle-aged fat ladies from suburban newspapers, who are sitting right across from me, giggling their heads off.

I don't remember a lot of what he says. He is talking about Hidalgo, and seriously who cares? I do what all the other women in the room are doing: I stare at him. He has a mellow, slightly high voice. Todd had told us right before he let Viggo in the room that Viggo liked to talk, and there would not be time for us all to ask a question. Todd did not lie: Viggo likes to talk. And everybody is totally cool with listening.

He talks a lot about the horses on Hidalgo and Lord of the Rings. He talks about shooting in the desert and dealing with sand. He talks about how he likes that Disney made a movie about a white guy who goes to the Middle East not to go to war, but just to compete in a race. Blah blah blah.

I just stare at him. Occasionally he inadvertently makes eye contact with me, and it's like being pierced with a turquoise laser beam. Every once in a while, I find a way to casually touch my copy of Chomsky's book, which is sitting prominently on the table in front of me, to draw attention to it.

After about 30 minutes, Todd comes in and declares the interview over. This is the part where we all get to line up for autographs. Jimmy, who is sitting right next to Viggo - I'm telling you, the guy was connected - waits to go last, clutching his shopping bag full of Aragorn figurines still in their pristine boxes.

I line up behind the giggling fat ladies and wait patiently, appearing unconcerned, even slightly bored. I watch him sign each of their photos: "Best wishes, (Name). Viggo."

Now here's something you should know about me: I have been around celebrities a few times, and I always play it totally cool. Not because I am cool, but out of pride. I refuse to admit I am not on their level. I could run into Robert DeNiro at Target, and I'd probably behave as if he should want my autograph. My pride will not let me admit I am anyone's fan.

So when I get up to Viggo, standing as close to him as you are to your computer, and he says, "What's your name?" I do not say "My name is Kristen, and I absolutely loved you as Aragorn, and my favorite painting of yours is the one called 'Selva,' and I love your poetry and I love that you had to go buy a TV so your family could watch you on the Oscars. I understand you in a way others don't. Take me with you to your home in Topanga Canyon. I love you."

Instead I say, "Kristen."

He says, "How do you spell that?"

I spell it.

And as he is writing, something magical happens: he sees my Noam Chomsky book. (It helped that I was holding it down and facing towards him in a very unnatural way so he would see it.)

I see him see it. He does a double take. He looks up at my face. I give him a pleasant, cool half-smile, raising my eyebrows as if to say, "Yes? You wanted something?"

God, I am cool. Also: gin.

"That's a good book," he says, nodding at the book.

"It really is," I say coolly. "I'm enjoying it."

He nods, and looks back down at his half-finished autograph. It says, so far, "Best wishes, Kristen." His Sharpie hovers over the black and white photo of himself riding a horse, and then he writes: "(Heart), Viggo."

I still have it. As far as I know, I'm the only one that day who got a heart. And all I had to do was embrace the beliefs of Noam Chomsky.

I thank him. We make eye contact. He gives me a little half-smile, and the one I return him is the most radiant-yet-dismissive "You don't know what you're missing but, hey, your loss" smile I can muster, as I turn and walk away.

I am triumphant.

Because I write fast, I have enough verbatim quotes to fill out a story. Voice recorder, shmoice shmecorder.

But most importantly: I got into that fucking room. I imposed my will upon the universe. I overcame

I met Viggo.

***


Ten years later, I have come to find that being "in love" with people you don't actually know is overrated, and my days of celebrity crushes are over. I am married to an actual dude who is as different from Viggo Mortensen as night is from day, and holy shit am I happy about it.

You see, my worldview was destined to diverge from Viggo's. It would have ended badly, with me screaming that Cindy Sheehan and Dennis Kucinich are fucktards, and that Noam Chomsky is at least 80% full of shit, and him writing mean poetry about Sarah Palin just to spite me. It wouldn't have worked.

But I still have a lot of affection for Viggo. I heard later that he sat and patiently signed all of Jimmy's toys. That'll bring a tear to your eye. And of course, I still admire him as an actor and artist.

But most of all, I'll never forget the day Viggo Mortensen gave me his heart.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Trip to Wal-Mart, As Told By Jennifer Lawrence GIFs

I had to go to Wal-Mart the other day, and it was bad, you guys. It was so bad.

See what happened was, I married this guy with a lot of stuff.

I'm not 100% sure what all the stuff is. There are a lot of crates and tubs and duffel bags. I know most of it is military and gun-related, because my husband is a member of a white nationalist militia.


Kidding, kidding. Calm down. He's in the Army.

Anyway, he has tons and tons of shit, and while I'm not one of those vicious controlling bitches who wants to erase all traces of her husband's personality from the home, our apartment has become more storage space than living space. It's seriously time for some of this stuff to GTFO.

Rather than rent a storage space, Husbo and I went to his parents' house in a nearby small town, where they keep, behind their house, brooding menacingly in a copse of trees, The Shed.

The Shed is fucking horrible. Every once in a while, when you're in The Shed, you get a "Look at this stuff / Isn't it neat?" moment. Occasionally I see something and I'm like OMG PLEASE LET ME KEEP THIS. (By which I mean sell it for a shitload of money on Etsy.)


But mostly when you're in the shed you just sneeze and wish there were a Dumpster within throwing distance.

Being a Southern couple in their 60s, my in-laws are not tub-and-crate people. They're "Put it in The Shed" people. Shit got thrown in The Shed for ten or fifteen years and promptly forgotten about.

Husbo inherited his pack-rat tendencies from his mother and his organizational tendencies from somewhere else. My mother-in-law is the nicest person in the world, but throwing shit away is not one of her life skills, and neither is Appropriate Storage Solutions, so after about five minutes in The Shed, as a person who loves throwing shit away and hates clutter, I start to hulk out.


My husband is an only child. There is no sibling to guilt trip into helping. So he rolled up his sleeves and started cleaning out The Shed, so he can refill it with all the shit I want out of our apartment.

Not long into the cleaning adventure, Husbo reached the layer between the stuff and the floor, which is comprised of a dazzling array of roach crap. So he asked me to go to Wal-Mart for Raid.

When I realized I got to leave the 127-degree shit-packed Shed while still being somehow useful, inside I felt like this.


But I played it cool. "Sure, babe, I'll run to Wal-Mart for ya."


This is where our adventure begins. And because the adventure involves me, it starts with getting lost.

Here is a fun fact about me: I cannot remember how to get places. I'm a good driver, but when it comes to sense of direction, I'm just... I'm lost.


I have driven from my in-laws' to Wal-Mart more times than I can count (yeah, I just admitted that) but my husband takes some fancy-pants back way every time, and if relied upon to recall it at gunpoint I would just have to shrug and get shot.


The town is small and semi-rural so the iPhone navigation system is useless. I was on my own. But eventually, after about ten minutes, I found the Wal-Mart, which was a mile and a half away.

I'm great.

So I go in, and I'm looking for Raid. That's what Husbo wants. Raid roach killer. Sounds easy enough.


I go to where they keep the paper plates and garbage bags and shit, since that seems about right. On the way there, I grab some turlet paper and milk, since we need those things.

I don't see the Raid, so I ask a Helpful Wal-Mart Employee where the Raid is. She directs me to the Lawn & Garden section, which is at literally the opposite end of the store. I am at one far, far, remote corner, and the Raid is supposedly at exactly the other. So I'm like


But I trek over there with my turlet paper and milk and I look around. For a long time. They have all kinds of bug-killing shit, but no Raid. And I need fucking Raid.

So I walk around for about five more minutes. I find everything but a Helpful Wal-Mart Employee. And then I spot one, and it's like I'm a bird-watcher who finally spotted a lump-footed bungler or whatever the fuck. So I get to her and I'm like yo where's the Raid and she's like it's over there by the paper plates and I'm like I was just back there. All the fucking way back there.


So she says, "Follow me." And we have one of those awkward, silent employee-following experiences. I hate those.

It was around this time that I realized something. I needed to poop.

See, I am on a zero carb diet, and it's really great and wonderful and it works and it's super healthy, but sometimes I go to CVS and buy a bag of sugar-free chocolate-covered toffee. Why? BECAUSE SATAN EXISTS, okay? I'm fucking sorry. But they're so delicious I can't stop myself.


The problem with this sugar-free chocolate-covered toffee is it has a profound laxative effect. First you get a feeling in your stomach like a new and exciting creature has moved into it and is growling at you. Then you poop in a manner that should be prohibited by law.


Once you rid your body of it, you're like, "Never again." But then a few days later, you realize:


So I'm following this girl to the Raid, and I start to feel Russell Stover's Revenge coming on. Strong. But I have to get the Raid. And get out of Wal-Mart. Because I am not a dude. I'm certainly not a military dude. I can't just shit in a public restroom stall like it's no big deal.

So we get back to the cleaning section, where I had originally been, and the Helpful Wal-Mart Employee takes me EXACTLY ONE AISLE FROM WHERE I STARTED and points to the Raid.

I grab four cans of unscented roach killer and start hauling ass to the registers. Because about now, I'm starting to have that feeling, you know what I'm talking, where a turlet is literally all you can think about. Just getting to a turlet. Nothing else matters. Shame is gone. The sugar-free chocolate-covered toffee has taken over, and now life is different.

 
On the way to the register - and I swear I am not making this up - the original Helpful Wal-Mart Employee, the one who sent me to the Lawn & Garden section in the first place, sees me practically sprinting past her and says, "Did you find it okay?" And I'm like
 

But not really. THERE'S NO TIME. I just nod and keep sprinting.
 
The woman in front of me in line is buying ALL the things, and she is having trouble paying with a combination of an EBT card and a debit card. Brandi behind the register is throwing major attitude every which-a-way.
 
 
And I am dying. The world is about to end in my pants.
 
It's finally my turn. As I'm swiping the card, I'm asking Brandi if there is a bathroom.
 
"There's one right behind you, by the deli. It's only one stall because the big one in the back is broken."
 
And I'm like
 
 
Because I'm thinking a one-person bathroom where you lock the door and everyone has to wait outside while you unload. I grab my stuff, I run over there, I swing the door open... and I see that it is not at all a one-person bathroom, but one STALL with about four people standing just outside it waiting to pee.
 
 
I drive the mile and a half back to The Shed in a sort of agony. I give Husbo his Raid, and I briefly consider going inside to use the bathroom. But four adults live in that house and share one bathroom. I just... I don't think even this Level IV Shitmergency is enough to kill that kind of shame.
 
I look at my husband with real pain in my eyes. And he goes, "The candy?" And I go, "Baby, YES." And he goes, "Just go home. I'm gonna be a while anyway." And I'm like
 
 
I no longer even really care if he stores all his man-goods in our apartment. I mean, I do, but I'm being cool about it. Because a dude that rad, who lets you off the hook cleaning The Shed so you can go home and poop in comfort... he's a keeper.
 
And about that candy? This is the honest-to-God truth: I'm eating it RIGHT. NOW.
 
 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Breast Lumps And You: A Horrible Journey of Discovery

 
I had just gotten finished miscarrying the hell out of my baby when I felt a lump in my right bewb.

I was feeling really sad, because I loved that baby, even though it was only the size of a blueberry when it abruptly left my body. If s/he were still alive, s/he would be the size of an X-box controller. Or maybe a bag of M&Ms. I don't know, but I should know, because the assholes at BabyCenter continue to send me e-mails about my imaginary fetus's development, despite the fact that I've opted out of their e-mails THREE TIMES.

Are you reading this, BabyCenter? You people suck so hard.

Anyway. My little embryo died. It was horrible. But that's another story.

So about a week after the D&C I was doing what real-ass niggaz do when they're really sad: reading Harry Potter. And I shifted on the couch and accidentally applied pressure to my bewb and felt a lump.

So I freaked out. Because I'm a hypochondriac.

I called the doctor and the nurse said to wait three weeks to see if it went away. I marked the day on the calendar. Three weeks away was my birthday. It would also have been the day I entered my second trimester. And I was like, uh, wow. Thanks, life.



I spent the next three weeks obsessively feeling the lump and googling all different kinds of breast cancer and obsessing and being really scared. I imagined what it would be like to be dying in a hospital bed. I worried about my family. What would they do? Their lives would be scarred by tragedy. They'd have to watch me die before my time. I felt an inexplicable urge to call them and apologize, just in case.

My birthday came and went. I waited another week for good measure, but the lump was still there. So I went to the doctor. He said it felt like nothing dangerous, but I should have a mammogram.

When you have a mammogram, you put on a robe and you sit in a room with a lot of old ladies with long, flat titties filling their identical robes. You read magazines with Julia Roberts on the cover. Then you go in a room and a delightful young woman in turquoise scrubs flattens your boob like a pancake in a machine that costs more than your home.

"This will fucking hurt."

Then you go back to said home and wait for results. And then, if you're me, they call you and say there's a "suspicious" spot on your mammogram and you need a biopsy.

There are three parts to a biopsy:

1. Waiting an entire hour in the exam room because they've scheduled 422 people for procedures at the exact same time as yours.

2. Lying on a table that was bought from Guantanamo Bay at a surplus sale because using it on prisoners would be too mean. The table involves a hole through which your tit hangs in what I'm sure is a very sexy manner. The table is harder than the kind of diamonds rappers rap about, and it was designed so that the edge of the tit hole digs directly into your ribs. They clamp your boob into a boob-clamping device, very tightly. You cannot move or they will miss the tiny area. You get to lie there for 30 minutes. Congratulations.

3. The doctor gives you a shot in your bewb. It hurts. Then he gives you another shot deeper into your bewb. It hurts more. Then you are numb. Mostly. You can still feel the light slamming as a computer-guided contraption jabs a needle into the deepest part of your tit to extract the "suspicious" part.


If you are me, you are too proud to evince any pain, discomfort or even consternation about medical procedures, so you talk to the kind-hearted young women in scrubs about The Lord of the Rings. They are trained, you see, to distract you from the fact that you are lying on a hard table with your boob hanging through a hole and clamped to a device that is jabbing a needle through it.

When they turned on the "soothing music" that was supposed to help me get through the procedure, I quickly recognized that it was the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, and I knew Jesus was with me. He is so rad like that. The turquoise girls, meanwhile, realized I was a nerd, and proceeded to talk to me about nerdy things while I got jabbed.

What happens next is: you get exactly one suture in your ta-ta, a bandage, an ice pack, another mammogram (yes, they flatten your boob after they stab it), and instructions to take Tylenol.

Then you wait four days. You almost go completely fucking insane during those four days. And finally you can't take it anymore and you call and leave a message for the nurse and then she calls you back and says you don't have cancer.



It turns out the lump was nothing, and the little spots behind it which they biopsied were something called fatty tissue necrosis, which sounds like a Nine Inch Nails song, and is a common result of breast reduction surgery. Which I have had.

About eight seconds after she told me I didn't have cancer, I hung up on the nurse and sobbed. Then I skipped up and down the hallway while sobbing. Then I texted and/or called everyone I know.

I felt invincible for several days. I still kinda feel it. There's no guarantee that I won't die tomorrow, but when you have a brush with death - or what feels like one to your crazy hypochondriac mind - the narrow escape makes you nothing short of euphoric.

I now know all sorts of facts about breast cancer. Did you know 80% of lumps are benign? That's right: 4 out of 5 biopsies are negative. I also know my own personal risk for breast cancer based on my genetic profile and medical history is -1%. Neato!

Cancer is real ass shit. I don't mean to make light of it. But as a person who deals with health anxiety, I spend a lot of time contemplating my own death. Which is lame. And I need to stop. It's a daily struggle. But we all have our assorted crosses to bear.

The thing is, every single thing you feel on your body, from a tingle in your uvula (that is not dirty; it just sounds dirty) to a lump in your boob could be something that will kill you, or something that is 100% harmless. So if you go around assuming the worst, your life will be consumed by worry and you'll never enjoy anything. (Ask me how I know this.)

At least I've had a mammogram, though. That's pretty cool, to get that out of the way at 34. I asked the nurse if I could have a copy of it to frame on my wall and she said, "Sure!" She didn't seem the least bit surprised. I think that would be a rad thing to put in a front entryway: "Here's Jamie at baseball camp. Here's Mindy on Santa's lap. And here's the inside of my titty."

Sorry I made you think about mortality and shit. To make up for it, this: