Just beneath the surface of normal


I Am So Proud of Myself Right Now

Y’all I just managed to keep my mouth shut appropriately for maybe the first time ever. Obviously I have to tell you all about it.

I just visited the campus’s ubiquitous purveyor of coffee beverages to get myself a large soy chai, which I’m not allowed to call large because forcing you to say it Italian somehow makes it worth the $4 they charge you for the privilege. And their Italian large is really a medium anyway, which is just confusing. If we’re going for Italian, can’t we just be consistent? Piccolo, medio, & grande. It even manages to sound less pretentious because it doesn’t insult your intelligence by trying to tell you that a short cup is tall.

Anyway, I landed there between classes so there was a bit of a wait for my beverage. Which is okay because it means that I get paid to just stand there and zone out for a few minutes, which I really needed after a day in the air seated behind a kid with untreated ADHD. Which is a whole ‘nother saga, because his parents didn’t want to sit with him so his poor teenage sister was left being responsible for his erratic behavior, and I totally get it – there’s no way to fly easily with a kid with developmental difficulties, but I’m pretty sure giving him two Cokes and passing idle threats across the seats isn’t your go-to method of child management.

Wow, I have no attention span this morning. So tired.

Okay, let’s try this again: the person in front of me ordered an iced coffee with whip. The barista was so generous with the whip that it pushed itself up and out the center hole of the dome lid in a column which then flopped over to one side, managing to look exactly like a flaccid penis. When I was a student here just two years ago, I would have blurted out, “dude that TOTALLY looks exactly like a whipped cream penis!” without a thought, but now I’m staff and I have to wear nice clothes and pretend to be a grownup. So I managed to stifle my *snerk* and keep my grin at least marginally sardonic.

penis mold

I don’t have an actual photo because if anyone else has posted this phenomenon online, they have avoided the expected keywords. I wasn’t going to ask, because how do you say “excuse me, can I take a picture of your hilarious whipped cream dick sculpture” in a professional manner? So just know that it was exactly like this, only over-full. Think “whipped cream meets pornographic play-dough fun factory.”

But people, when the orderer’s girlfriend asked if she could lick off some of the whipped cream, I nearly lost it. Because seriously, that is a LOT to ask someone to contain. My brain was screaming at me to let loose with “OMG, she just licked off her boyfriend’s whipped cream dick! That’s probably the most sadly misplaced preposition a man has ever known. Wordplay like this doesn’t come along every day. ” but I managed to hold my tongue and stifle the cackle of amusement rising in my chest. I averted my eyes, searching desperately for someone to share a knowing grin with, but there was nothing but students and if any of them noticed it they weren’t letting on. I felt so desolate.

Fortunately there’s you. Because I know I can count on you to also have the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old boy (or at least tolerate mine, because if you were bothered you wouldn’t still be here). And you never expect me to act like I don’t. Because of you I get to hold a job like a regular person. Thanks for that. You’re pretty awesome.

And frankly, so am I, because that’s some ninja-level decorum I just pulled off for five whole minutes there.


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I am My Own Internet Troll

Jim and I were in the car yesterday afternoon running errands when one of those random things slipped out of my mouth. I can’t tell you what happened in my brain the split second before except to say that I was looking at a moire pattern made by pine needles. The next thing I know I’m singing, “when a series of rays intersect and make waves, that’s a moire!” because that’s just how my brain works.

Jim drove in stunned silence for a moment. Then he shook his head and said, “only you.”

Since we had time to kill at the Jiffy Lube, I made my very first macro:

A Moire

Except in this image they’re not rays because all the straight line moire patterns made it too hard to read the words. Also, if this makes you have a seizure, I’m really, really sorry.


But I’m not at all happy with it because of course those aren’t rays at all, but concentric circles. And of course they make a perfectly lovely moiré pattern, so my definition isn’t even accurate, which totally opens me up for trolling. But I was shooting for a rhyme. Strictly speaking, I didn’t really even do that very well, so I’m pretty sure by troll logic I should go ahead and throw myself off a bridge.* But I was so pleased with “that’s a moiré” that I decided to run with it anyway, because supposedly succeeding at the internet means having a thick skin for the haters so I should probably practice (does that still work when it’s internally generated, or does it just make a thicker barrier to better retain the misanthropy?) before the actual trolls show up.

Technically, the definition for moiré is “a secondary and visually evident superimposed pattern created, for example, when two identical (usually transparent) patterns on a flat or curved surface (such as closely spaced straight lines drawn radiating from a point or taking the form of a grid) are overlaid while displaced or rotated a small amount from one another.” But that rhymes even less than “rays” and “waves” and totally lacks the proper rhythm. Also, cut me some slack, people – I came up with this out of  nowhere! Creativity takes a lot of revision. But I don’t usually have the patience for revision, which is why I mostly avoid creating things, because the first attempt is sort of a mess and I just give up. Because of imaginary trolls.

So if you can come up with a more apt rhyme and definition, feel free to revise it. Because it’s almost-but-not-quite meme-worthy. Eat that, trolls – I beat you to the punch. Consider this the “First!” post.


*don’t worry, I neither intend to throw myself off a bridge or really hate myself. I was just running with the troll metaphor. In case you were worried. Which you probably weren’t, because your skin is thicker than mine.

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My Own Special Brand of Gratitude

My morning got off to a horrible start. I wanted to hide in bed, all my clothes showed every one of the 15 pounds I’ve gained since I started this job and (because clearly someone replaced my normal mirror with a fun-house mirror) about 30 extra just for fun. Also I missed the train by seconds. So I spent my morning under a giant stormy raincloud of “fuck all of this”. But for some reason, the Internet seems determined to help me get over it. My Facebook feed was inexplicably full of things that made me laugh or smile. Or breathe.

First, there was this commercial for Thai life insurance that made me all squishy over being kind just because it feels good. It’s nice to see that at least someone in the world doesn’t always sell things to people by making them feel afraid and inadequate. Anyway, it kind of made me want to be nice helpful again, instead of keeping a death-ray behind my desk. Not that I’m giving up my death-ray (not that I have one – not that I’d tell you if I did).

Then there was goats playing on sheet metal. I laughed so much that I watched it three times. Because one of those goats is a total dick. The other two are like, “look at our awesome synchronized jump-balance” and the brown one’s all “nope”  like that kid who knocks down your gravity-defying sandcastle. I don’t know what’s up with the bystander. I guess there’s always one.

Sprinked liberally among these treasures were images of people making choices to be happy, grateful, loved, etc. Barring mornings after half of my friends inexplicably had insomnia on the same night, my feed never has such a carefully curated message: get over it and choose to enjoy your damn day.

Since gratitude is one of those things that’s supposed to help (ed note: it totally did), I’ve decided to write about what I’m most grateful for right now: that someone else cleans my house.

It was over a year in coming. My friend Susie has been trying to get me to call the girl who cleans her apartment since she found her on Craigslist – possibly the only honest, enthusiastic, affordable independent housekeeper ever to post on Craigslist (sorry if you are also all of those things – I totally wasn’t talking about you because you’re obviously also the only…..on Craigslist). “It’s not your gift,” she told me, “leave it to someone who loves it and needs the money and spend your energy elsewhere. Everyone is more productive in a clean house – think of all the things you like doing that could finally get done!” I agreed, but there’s a lot of conditioned shame around being a woman who doesn’t keep a spotless and gracious house – especially when she’s also unemployed – and I avoided facing the reality for as long as possible. All of that new domestic goddess porn all over Pinterest doesn’t help. I keep thinking that if I pin enough pictures of organized spaces, it will magically happen (it hasn’t). I think Susie even gave me a cleaning for my birthday last year, but I never got around to it.

Time went by. We made a few attempts to schedule, but I am terrible at phone calls and I finally had to just text her in order to make it happen. Thank goodness for the 21st century. I would be a damn hermit without it.

It helped that my dad and step-mom were coming for a visit and my house was in terrifying condition. I’m not sharing pictures because I didn’t take any, because why would anyone take a picture of their messy house? But I did an image search of “messy house” and at least discovered that it could be much worse – well, maybe not in the kitchen. I mean, it’s not hoarders bad, and I do clean when company is coming (which is at least twice a year and sometimes I invite strangers over just so I’ll have to clean), but there was just no way I was going to be able to catch up in time. Every pile – every stampeding herd of dust bunnies – mocked me and sent me to the couch in a stupor of overwhelm and frantic crochet-soothing.

AJ finally came on the day my folks were due to fly in. Yes, under the wire IS my favorite place – why do you ask?

She stayed for six hours. I have a small 1920’s catalog house with 3 microscopic bedrooms and one cavernous pink-tiled bathroom. The whole thing is 7 rooms. We skipped the bedrooms, because they’re not clean enough to be cleaned yet (which makes the most perverted sense in the world, but whatever). So the magical power of math tells me that’s 4 rooms in 6 hours, and the magical power of deduction tells you that I’m not being modest about the condition of my house. But here’s the most remarkable part, and the thing that keeps me in reverent gratitude almost a week later: she washed the walls. THE WALLS, you guys. It never even occurred to me to wash walls. I’ve been cleaning my house wrong (on the rare occasion I do it) my entire life. I don’t even know what to believe anymore.

I think I understand now what Susie meant about it not being my gift. Because AJ evidently loves to clean. And doesn’t like to sit still. Which I can barely comprehend, because I didn’t even know there were people who don’t like to sit. It’s like she’s my dark half – or maybe I’m hers. Either way, my gifts are cooking, crocheting, writing, daydreaming, connecting with people, being a supportive friend, having adventures, having a good relationship with both my husband and teenage daughter, and healing from a whole host of childhood/early adult traumas. I like doing those things. I like them unfathomably more than cleaning – yes, even therapy. But she’s the one who decided my walls needed washing – it’s her gift, who am I to question our differences? She makes decent money by doing what she’s good at, and I make decent money sitting behind a desk and being nice to people all day (even when they’re being petulant assholes). I’m happy to give her some of it to never, ever have to scrub a wall. Ever.


It still wound up being a lot of work for me, running around in the room she’d be working on next to triage enough clutter to allow her to clean. But I would work for a bit and then take a break while she scrubbed away and I watched with crippling (or possibly just beer-drinking, relaxing) shame as I sat there while someone else did the job I’m “supposed to” be able to stay on top of because of my vast trove of innate uterus-having abilities. I’ve scheduled her for an upcoming Sunday to help me organize and declutter so that I can do even less when she comes and she can hopefully escape us in less time.

All of this is to say that I have come home from work every day to a clean, soothing home (well, except for the bedroom and TV room but that’s all on me), and I am grateful beyond words for the ability to pay someone to take that stress away. Once upon a time, long long ago, my family and I were a few bucks from homelessness. I grew up on public assistance. Maybe some people need a life of impossible luxury to feel like a princess, but I just need someone to clean my house.

Which just goes to show, it pays to have low standards.


+4 Nerdplay

It’s registration week, so you get another IM transcript.

Background: I’ve been having some anxiety lately because I made some mistakes* at work, and I can’t really tell the difference between “hey, don’t do that again, okay?” and “I will smite you with the firepower of a thousand dragons for your minor clerical error!”

Jim: Hey just checking in. Hope you’re doing okay.

Me: I’m alright. Less freaked than in the past, but not where I want to be. So I don’t feel awesome, but I’m not totally collapsed into the pit of despair either.

Jim: Okay. Remember to breathe, it really helps. <u>

Me: Thanks. {{u}}
Curious why you’ve moved to caret hugs from bracket hugs
Not that it matters

Jim: Dunno. carets are squeezes, braces are hugs

Me: OH! I thought maybe you were HTMLing me

Jim: LOL no
that would be <hug>Maya</hug>

Me: I guess I shouldn’t worry until you type </u>
or maybe that just means you’re underlining me

I do sort of like <hug>Maya</hug> though.

OMG, I actually just felt my nerd stats level me up.


*In defense of my anxiety response, it was one of those times when every minor, unnoticed mistake I’ve made for the past 4 months came back to haunt me all in the same week, so I looked like a completely incompetent flakeball instead of an intermittently competent flakeball, which I’ve pretty much learned to live with.