Just beneath the surface of normal


Jesus Has My Motivation

You know how sometimes your to-do list sort of stacks up – especially the stuff you actually WANT to do – because all the crap you don’t want to do is more urgent will deliver unwanted consequences if you don’t do them first, but there’s too many of those too and before you know it your to-do list is threatening to avalanche on you and you don’t actually even remember what’s on the first page anymore? Yeah, I know -“sometimes.” Except only sometimes does this list make me feel like I don’t know how to adult, which is what’s happening right now. I blame Jesus. I know, “what the hell, Maya? That doesn’t even make any sense! You can’t just blame Jesus every time you can’t get it together.”

The feeling is totally mutual, Jesus.

But I can, and what’s more it will make perfect sense to you by task 3. So buckle up and prepare for a ride though the wild and fearsome jungle of my inner monologue.

To-do list for this blog:

1) finally make the damn Christmas ornament from my old Mirena already. You exorcised that demon two and a half years ago! Exactly how long do you intend to keep it a plastic bag in the bathroom cabinet? You’re never going to win the “it has to move with us” argument if it isn’t coated in glitter. There is glitter, there is glue. What exactly is the holdup? Oh, time-shame is it? It doesn’t roll backward, sweetcheeks, so you might as well do it now.

2) make a barbie-saurus. Seriously, somebody has to do it, and it should be you since it was your idea. If the leg sockets aren’t compatible there’s always x-acto knives and glue. And duct tape. And big poofy barbie dresses to cover the mess, which you’ll probably need anyway to cover the giant dino-hips. Better to do it badly than not at all. Goodwill is Right. Down. The Street. There’s not even snow anymore. Just go!

3) Make a t-shirt that allows wearers to decide what of theirs Jesus has today (for those following along, go read this post, just the part about the Jesus Easter Eggs; now go read comment 23. Now understand why I blame Jesus for stealing my motivation. He’s probably a kleptomaniac though, so don’t be too hard on Him because it’s an illness). The Bloggess hath spoken, and this t-shirt needs to be made. Okay, admittedly this one was more complicated than you might have guessed. It took a whole day to set up the (still empty) Zazzle shop, then there was the unsuccessful day spent trying to find a place to make custom patches that don’t belong on paramilitary gear, followed by exasperation and lust-shopping for embroidery machines. And then there was that wasted hour making custom Pantyhats™ that resulted in nothing because leggings aren’t in stock right now. This one is a puzzle. I totally forgive you for not finishing this one yet. [thanks, me!]

4) Eulogize Terry Pratchett. Okay, granted, this one’s been really hard. How do you finish a post when every time you try to write it everything goes all watery? I know it’s sad, but this is important – your writing deities don’t die every day (thankfully). So suck it up, buttercup, and honor the honorable already. What would Sam Vimes do? Agreed: bacon sandwiches (and yeah, Do What Must Be Done).

5) Write a post about Corinne turning 18 on Tuesday. Again with the weepy; it’s a wonder you’re not completely dessicated! It would have been way more meaningful to do it ON the birthday, but she’s no less 18 now than she was Tuesday. There’s good material in this story, you just have to remember to not go all maudlin, though admittedly the apple/tree issue makes that difficult. Still, time’s a-wastin. “My baby just turned 19″ has a much less dramatic ring to it. Hop to it.

The trouble is, that’s only one of like seven conversations happening in my head right now. It gets very noisy in here.

The upshot of all this is that these are all things you can look forward to here…at some point…hopefully soon. I have a day to myself on Saturday, so my fingers are crossed that I’ll get a bunch done and then stack up a bunch of posts to release over the next few weeks. OMG, it would be so nice to get ahead on posts. Yeah…this is me, holding my breath.

Jesus could at least be helpful and take my excuses or fatigue or something. Or figure out those damn t-shirts for me. You’d think He’d want the PR, or at least a convenient way to keep track of whose stuff He has right now.

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UPDATED: Shower of Awesomeness (now with much less awesome)

UPDATED: after I announced to the entire Internet how up I was, it was kind of inevitable that bad news would follow. It did, though shockingly in the form of the passing of the great Terry Pratchett. I feel somehow personally responsible (though obviously I’m not). Certainly I’m ridiculously sad because when I think of how I want to be in the world, he is the person I think of first. I’ll write another post shortly with my own personal remembrance, but it’s hard to write when your eyes are all swimmy. I think I mostly just wrote this update to appease the Internet gods so they won’t kill off anymore of my heroes.

The Internet is just spewing awesome at me this morning. Which is kind of nice, because yesterday was regression day and I made myself sort of miserable. But I guess sometimes you have to go back to see how far you’ve come. So I went home and had a good cry and a nap, and you guys I ATE DAIRY AND GLUTEN MAC AND CHEESE, which is like forbidden love and your first high all rolled into one creamy, glutinous orgasm when it’s off limits. How? Through the miracle of Gluten Cutter I am able to indulge once in a blue moon. Yesterday the moon was bluer than that stupid dress evidently is. It was glorious.

So this morning I got back on the journaling horse and sorted through the stuff crowding my brain and got my mind re-organized to function again. And then I went online, where the Internet was apparently conspiring to make today a whole lot better than yesterday. Also, this isn’t a sponsored post, just things I think are awesome that you, being still here, might also think are awesome.

1. Holy crap, you can now play Cards Against Humanity online!

The majority of my most inappropriate friends are far away, and the prospect of playing a not-exactly-MASSIVELY-but-not-small-either Multiplayer Online game of inappropriateness chicken with them from afar is just about the best birthday present you could give me. I envision it in conjunction with a big Google hangout with wine. I will be setting up a public game in the very, very near future. Look for information in a future post.

 2. Princess Rap Battles

I know I’m late to this show, but in case you are too: How have I never heard of Whitney Avalon before now? Aside from her work on TV, films, theater, web, etc., she writes these hilarious Rap Battles between characters, including Gladriel vs. Leia, Mrs. Claus vs. Mary Poppins, and Snow White vs. Elsa. Today she released a battle between Belle (played by Avalon) and Cinderella (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, y’all!), which is going viral as we speak – and not just because SMG could get views for picking her nose. This shit is the best since Garfunkel and Oates (who have their own show now – how did I not know that either?!). Thank goodness smart, funny women are a trend…if only online.

3. 90s Hip-Hop

Actually manages to hold up, and I suddenly find myself on a throwback hip-hop kick. I really object to the way Spotify treats musicians, but I can’t help but love the ability to make playlists that include awesomeness like The Humpty Dance and Ladies First. I dare you to feel bad listening to those songs. You will lose, because you simply cannot. Which is actually sort of a win. Except probably for Digital Underground and Queen Latifah. I should probably just go buy the tracks.

4. Prismatic Privacy Film

Sure, privacy, yeah, whatever. You can cast rainbows all the hell over the room. It’s like your bathroom is suddenly the setting for Dorothy Gale’s first acid trip**:

“you don’t have to GO ANYWHERE to get to rainbows, man! Rainbows are, like, everywhere. They’re on us right now. If you open your mouth and let them in, you can have rainbows INSIDE YOU! If I were lactating, rainbows would totally shoot out of my tits and I could feed them to the world! Whoa, that’s deep – I should write this shit down so I don’t forget it…. Hey, is that guy really a munchkin or is my vision just that distorted?”

Hopefully these things make your day as thoroughly as they made mine. You’re welcome. Unless you already knew about this stuff and didn’t tell me, in which case thanks a lot. Anyway, excuse me but I have to go buy rainbows for everywhere.

**not that I’m advocating taking illegal substances, because that would be wrong. Unless you’re using it medically. Because somehow that’s different. Also, I kind of miss being young enough to want to do crazy shit like that. Except not really, because then I’d have to be that fucked up again, and yesterday’s anxiety-hole would be permanent. So hooray for adhesive light-benders!

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Fifty Shades of Que?

I turned 40 today. It’s not nearly as bad as everyone makes it sound, not that that’s particularly difficult with all the “welcome to 40 – you’re actively dying now!” paraphernalia on the market. Personally I think that’s bullshit. Your forties is when you hit your stride; it’s when you really perfect not giving a fuck, and start living your life for yourself. Also, now that I’m 40, when people go, “no way – you can’t be a day older than 25!” it sounds like I’m TWO decades younger instead of one! (Don’t feel bad, though – the women in my family have a portrait in the attic made out of estrogen, and the day we hit menopause we go from Betty Boop to Betty White pretty much overnight. I’m rocking it while I have it, because I see the Bassett Hound jowls coming up the road at me.)

But the point of this post is that nobody knows you like your best friend. She’s the one who knows when it’s time to tease you, and when it’s time to just shut up and hold your hand; The one with whom you can pick up where you left off, no matter how long it’s been; The one who knows exactly what to give you for your birthday, even if you didn’t even know you wanted it. Mine is no different. Today she sent me this, with the comment “all I can think of is crochet bondage now…is that wrong?”:

Yes. Yes, it most certainly is.

Followed shortly by “yeah, I had to look it up”:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!! No, you really didn’t!

And that is how I learned about what my cousin calls “the dark underbelly of fiber arts.” Because evidently this isn’t just a thing, it’s a movement.

I have friends with all kinds of kinks – and a number in the BDSM and leather communities – it  makes them happy, so I ain’t judging. But something about crochet and bondage makes me think “grandma’s going to dominate you….WITH CUDDLES!” more than sexy fun time.

I thought it would be hilarious to put a teddy bear in bondage gear here? I was wrong. Trust me when I tell you it can’t be unseen. Instead, here’s Secret Bear to protect you. “Some secrets are better left alone, kids!”

WTF: it’s exactly what I wanted! Give WTF for any occasion, so that your loved one can spend the day chuckling quizzically and periodically dropping the laptop and running in amused terror. And maybe even pull a blog post out of it! Thanks, sweetie. You’re the absolute best.

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If You Liked it Then You Shoulda Put a…

I was raised Catholic. In the Midwest. By an alcoholic. I win the codependency trifecta if ever there was one. If there were a gold medal for codependency it would be mine; unless you want it and then you’re more than welcome to it – I wouldn’t want to hog it unfairly. Also, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble I’d really like to inhale and exhale maybe just once…but I don’t have to if it would really bother you or be inconvenient in any way! I’m sorry I even asked, but I’m sort of starting to pass out.

You can imagine about how well this kind of “relating” flies here in the Northeast, where the middle finger is more of a greeting than an act of aggression. By the time I’ve set up my apologetic proposal, I’ve already annoyed at least 3 counties with the waiting. My boss (bless her) doesn’t say a word when I ask her if she’s sure, she just waits for me to say “yes, of course you are – I’ll take care of that right away then,” and thanks me. I can suck the oxygen from any relationship in record time. If only I could use my powers for deep-sea diving. Or scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere. Or pretty much anything useful at all.

As I’ve said here before, my therapist keeps trying to get me to “own my power,” which I would totally do and be my own damn public utility if I could just figure out how it’s supposed to work. We talk about it week after week, in which he throws metaphors at me and I stare at them blankly as they fall to the floor, kind of like when I try to give my cat a treat and she doesn’t understand that it’s food because it’s a) not on the plate and b) smells/looks different than food so it must not be food, so she just sniffs it and looks at me with her special accusing/puzzled expression and then sadly walks away. She’s the only cat I’ve ever known who didn’t understand tuna water, people. And I cannot throw stones, because I am just like my cat, except the tuna water is being powerful.

Anyway, I had a particularly bad episode of anxious codependency that I brought up in our last session and it (sort of inevitably) came down to the fact that I am just giving way too many fucks about stuff that I actually want to give a fuck about but not to the point of damaging myself with anxiety and paralysis. So, to get to the punchline:

Steve: Codependency is a hemorrhaging of feminine energy – it’s over-caring – and it needs to be balanced with some more masculine, aggressive energy. Which is what’s so great about “not giving a fuck” because it’s a very playful expression of that energy.

Me: So…what you’re saying is, when I’m getting anxious and codependent, I should put a dick on it.

Steve:……..HA! YES! Yes, that’s EXACTLY what you should do!

Me: Oh my God, why didn’t you just SAY so!? HOW many angles have we tried to approach this problem from over the years? If you’d just made it something simple and disruptive that I wouldn’t forget, we’d have moved onto something else. Now I have “don’t give a fuck” AND “put a dick on it” – we might be close to done here.

Steve: probably not.

And that’s why I love Steve. I mean, aside from having helped me become a functional human being. Because without batting an eye, he just rolled with my thinking and called it progress.

More importantly, I have a new tool. And a new theme song**: “All the Codependents” (to the tune of “All the Single Ladies” of course). Because if you’re worried then you shoulda put a dick on it. Someday I might be drunk enough to create an awesome/terrifying video to go with it. If your follow-through is better than mine, please do feel free to make your own. There can’t be too many, in my opinion. Or maybe one is too many and a hundred is never enough…

“What. Have. You. DONE?!”

Bonus: I explained all this to Corinne, who said, “so when you’re being annoyingly over-caring I should just be like, ‘MOM. Put a dick on it!'”

At that moment I realized that my work here is done. And that I really, really like having an adult daughter.

UPDATE: I want to be clear that I am totally supportive of my variously-gendered friends and that this is an inner dick, so you don’t have to have one or put anyone else’s on it, so it’s totally gender-fluid. Except that was probably the wrongest place ever to put “fluid”. Sorry about that.

**It occurs to me that if you don’t respect artistry, you can always go with Bobby McFerrin’s classic “Don’t Worry, Put a Dick On It.”

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This Idea is CLAIMED, Y’all

Seems like all my best material goes to Facebook because they’re clever responses to other people, and it seems in some ways like a horrible waste of material since I’m sort of trying to cultivate a readership over here.  For now, I know most of you on Facebook so it’s kind of a rehash for you. Sorry about that. But for those who are sifting through my archives someday, I present:

1) If my last name were Khan I would totally get a PhD just so I could make people sing “Dr Khan let me rock you, let me rock you Dr Khan.” Because I’m the sort of person who makes expensive life-changing decisions for the sake of 30 year old song punnery. Let it never be said I lack conviction.

2) Someone on Facebook posted a picture of a legless off-brand Barbie and asked for tips.


In retrospect, she might have just been looking for help reattaching the legs.

My advice was to go buy off-brand dinosaurs (not that there are brand-name dinosaurs or anything), rip off their legs, and reattach them to the doll to make a Barbiesaurus. Or maybe a Centaurbie? I’m still working that out. And frankly, it could work with lots of animals, not just dinosaurs, so I should probably go for something generic. Do centaurs HAVE to be half-horse, or is it more focused on the “half” part?

Anyway, I searched the Internet for a picture to show how to do it….AND IT HASN’T BEEN DONE YET. For once in my life (well, maybe twice) I think I have come up with something actually original. Only this time it might catch on.

Now I have to go home and buy a barbie and a dinosaur and take pictures before someone else tries to steal it as their own. I’m posting it here before I do that so that I can prove that I thought of it first, because that’s the sort of thing you need when you’re in a copyright dispute over plastic toy chimeras. I’m also going to print this and mail it to myself, though I’ve never been entirely clear why that’s important. Except then I’d have to get stamps. And actually mail it. I can’t even get cards I’ve already filled out into the mail, though, so I’m probably being optimistic. Regardless, it’s mine, so move along. You’ll have to find other random things to smoosh together to claim as your own.

But so: updates to come when surgery is complete.

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It’s Not Plagiarism If You Cite It, or What I’m Reading Now

I spend a lot of time every week reading articles and essays. I read them on the train, I read them in the office when things get slow or there are too many interruptions to get any kind of work done, I read them while I’m waiting for something to finish cooking at night. I read a lot of really excellent work, and then I ruminate on it, and I incorporate it into my life.

If I’m going to write a lot more, I think it would be a fun weekly feature to share what I’ve read this week that got me thinking, and maybe comment on it or whatever, and get a whole blog post out of stuff other people did, which is kind of cheating, but I don’t actually give a fuck.

Without further ado, here’s my first edition.

1. Chuck Wendig doesn’t give a fuck about your pre-rejection excuses for not writing:

Pre-rejection is bullshit.

It’s a control thing, a power trip, a grotesquely pessimistic fantasy. I know, you’re saying, uhh, it’s not a fantasy, weirdo — except, au contraire, panda bear, it is a fantasy. It’s much easier to reject ourselves than it is to weather the crotch-kicks delivered by someone else. You could far easier slide a knife across your open palm than let someone else do it — it’s so much better when we control the pain that’s sure to come. It’s comforting, easy, lazy even to just get that rejection out of the way now rather than later.

Okay, first of all, I have never heard the phrase “au contraire, panda bear” but I am stealing it forever. This essay was worth it for that alone.

The most adorable disagreement ever.

Second of all, I am compulsively guilty of this thing, “pre-rejecting”, which sounds kind of like literary bulimia except without the life-threatening (usually. See: tortured writers). I can’t even tell you how many unfinished pieces are in my drafts folder because I deemed them not funny enough…or my anxiety was on overdrive in all directions that day…or who the hell am I to talk about how to be a good parent because I only have one incredibly easy kid half of the time? I think about that last topic especially, as I watch her and her high school friends struggle to have their own identities against the will of parents who think they can still control who their kids become this late in the game. But anyway, what this guy’s essay really gets to is how terrifying it is to be vulnerable sometimes. The silly, ego-based posts are easy because entertainment is my public form of safety; when everyone’s laughing, nobody’s criticizing. But what makes good writing good is vulnerability (well, and planning, but you can still make a wonderful plan that falls flat because the writer takes no risks). So maybe when I find myself stuck I should be asking myself where I’m avoiding vulnerability.

That’s certainly the real cause of the last few months’ silence.

2. I didn’t even watch the Grammys and I have zero skin in the Beyonce’ vs. Beck game (beyond my revulsion at the truly stunning displays of covert sexism and racism that ensued), but this made my whole last week:

I would SO pay to see them perform this live.

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The Zen of Fucklessness

Some things are just so simple and so abrupt that they change your life.

Like this, only actually important. Not that Obama isn’t important. I’m talking about the not-really life changing effects of vegetable juice. If you never see me again, it’s because I was detained for conflating the president and V8 because of bad grammar. And this is why education is important, people.

My V8 moment was The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck and if you have not yet read it, please go do so now. We’ll wait…

Welcome back!

Aside from having seriously the very best cover photo for an article ever, Mr. Manson basically discusses how giving too many fucks holds us back. Giving a fuck about being different is the cause of the majority of our anxiety. Giving a fuck about things not meeting our expectations is the cause of 99.9% of our irritations. Giving a fuck is the oil leak of our emotional engines. Not to say that there are not times when fucks are important to give, just that if we don’t pay attention they tend to explode everywhere and leave stains on our lives and our peace. –Except maybe not explode? I’m trying to extend the oil metaphor but I don’t really understand engines, so now it seems like I’m talking about a different sort of explosion, IFyaknowwhatimean. So you know what? Let’s just make this a Mad Libs moment: “It’s just that they tend to ____(verb)________ everywhere and leave ____(plural noun)____ on our lives and our peace.” — Whatever just happened there is on you, weirdo (but hopefully you picked something hilarious and didn’t give a single fuck about it seeming weird).

But see? Like half my blogging is essentially giving a fuck about you as an imaginary judge! What will I even write about if it’s not what a ridiculous wreck I am? (Answer: how much fun it is to be a ridiculous wreck who gives no fucks!)

So about 2 weeks ago, I saw that essay and suddenly my entire life popped into focus like one of those magic eye posters supposedly did back in the 90’s (admit it, you never managed to see a picture either). I have lived a like a giant snail, leaving trails of casually discarded fucks wherever I go (OMG, you can’t combine this metaphor with ANY-damn-thing without it turning dirty! Don’t lie, you know you laughed too). I was miserable. I hated the easiest job on the planet, I hated everything except being at home crocheting in bed. I may have been a little depressed.

Rather like the ocean is a little damp. Or Chernobyl was a little radiation problem. *shrug*

It’s funny how you have to get really sick of yourself before you’re ready to do something different. Like, it’s not as if stuff like journaling, meditation, and reflexology from fabulously wise friends wasn’t always there. I was just too attached to my suffering – too busy hemorrhaging fucks about my job, and tiny slights from random strangers, and how I imagined I’d rather my life looked – to pull it together and do them. But you know what? Suffering is really, really boring. And I have absolutely no aptitude for enduring boring things. If it was my aversion to suffering that made me miserable in the first place, it would be my aversion to suffering that would make it stop. So I started doing those things that were available to me, like journaling and meditation and leaning on friends (who seem to actually not mind, surprisingly enough).

And then, by the grace of the great tentacled god Facebook, my teacher appeared in the form of this Philosophy of Fucklessness, and I declared unto the world “Today I shall hoard my fucks and give them, like expensive truffles, only to those who are worth it.”

At the end of the day I still had every. last. one. of my fucks. And I was unusually productive. AND I got my sense of humor back, because not giving a fuck is ridiculously entertaining, because nothing is personal, and nothing is really about you. And suddenly I could see how everyone was just oozing fucks everywhere, and I was all “holy shit, is that what I’m like? That is NO way to live!”

Which is how I became an annoying evangelist for not giving a fuck. Everyone I know who has a problem now, I’m like, “why do you even give a fuck about that?! You do you!” Which may have something to do with why suddenly nobody wants my advice. But seriously, you guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how free this is. I feel like goddamn Neo walking through a matrix rain of fucks.

Acting? Pfft! Zero fucks given, bitches.

It’s not as if this is a new idea. The Greek philosophy of Stoicism is, at it’s core, all about not giving a fuck. No less than the philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius said, “Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together…” which translates into modern English as, “though people around me may positively weep fucks, I shall (with the utmost compassion) give no fucks which are not mine to give.”

And eastern philosophy is chock-full of non-attachment, because how the hell else do you survive wave after wave of invading empires and indifferent bureaucracies? The Tao Te Ching says “Fame or Self: Which matters more? Self or Wealth: Which is more precious? Gain or Loss: Which is more painful? He who is attached to things will suffer much. He who saves will suffer heavy loss. A contented man is rarely disappointed. He who knows when to stop does not find himself in trouble. He will stay forever safe,” which MARK MY WORDS means “seriously, quit giving a fuck – it’s completely awesome! Except occasionally when it isn’t, but don’t give a fuck about that either and you’ll be fine.”

“Shh! See that fuck over there? Don’t pick it up. Just. Leave it. Laugh at my brick cape & playing-card shoes all you want, but I still think they are the bomb-diggity because I ain’t pickin’ it up neither.” – Lao Tzu

So here’s what happened when I stopped giving a fuck: I had more energy and got more done, because giving a fuck all day long is exhausting. I started dancing better, because I didn’t give a fuck how I looked to anyone else. I started working on my novel again because I don’t give a fuck if it’s perfect, I give a fuck about writing and about making some progress. My anxiety levels dropped, and I became a better partner because I wasn’t paralyzed from fear of judgment so I was more able to speak my mind in a strong but loving way. And wonder of wonders, I suddenly felt like blogging again.

My therapist has been trying to get me to understand how much I give my power away for the past 2 years. If he had just come out and said, “why do you even give a fuck about what all these people think?” way back when we started, I’d be able to shoot lightning bolts from my fingers by now. Thanks a lot, Steve. These fingers are *boring!*

There’s only one problem I see with my new philosophy: people are seriously disconcerted by the word “fuck”. Like I know a lot of people who won’t even say it. And I did sort of find my chest collapsing when I tried to explain it to my dad. But you know what? I adore my dad, but that’s his fuck to give, not mine. It’s no longer never been my job to anticipate everyone’s discomfort and cut it off at the pass. I am not the emotional catcher in the damn rye. If people want to send their fucks running over the cliff, I can only ask if they’re sure about that.


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