Just beneath the surface of normal

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A Solid Foundation of Puns and Dick Jokes

It all started with a texted picture of a hat.You know, like it does.


“my first Guernsey project” – Katrina

It’s a lovely hat, but I totally had no idea what Guernsey knitting is. Not that I let that stop me from running with it…


When we went out to visit in August, Jim looked across the table at us and said, “it’s so good to see you two together,” and we both smiled and affectionately tilted our heads to one side…and bonked them together with an audible clunk, which made each of us laugh, which made us giggle uncontrollably, because this is us. Like sisters, except better because we never had to compete for attention or resources.

I miss her more than usual because it’s only been a handful of weeks since I saw her so I’m still in withdrawal. The best thing about the 21st century so far is the text app that lets us silently pop in and crack each other up at pretty much any time across 3,000 miles and 3 hours of time difference. I don’t mean to gloat…except I totally do – because holy hell wouldn’t you? We are goddamn brilliant together.





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Story Time

I won’t lie: it was a rough summer. Between Corinne being in Europe all summer/deciding to move to Spain next year to finish her degree (eeeeeeek!), and the unfortunately wide variety of soul-sickening news, I’ve been a bit at a loss for words. I still want to say…something…about those things, but I’m struggling.

In the meantime, let’s talk about my best friend – my daughter’s semi-namesake and the primary person who helped me refine my sense of humor (so any complaints should definitely be directed at her). She’s also the woman who taught me about crocheted fetish-wear. QED.

Her daughter is in kindergarten, so she’s still square in the world of story books. Which means I get these texts that go something like “I have to share this with someone – I’m so proud of myself for keeping a straight face on this page!” followed by some of the most blatantly inappropriate content that can only have gotten past editors & publishers as a sort of easter-egg gift to parents who have read this book 63 nights in a row and need something to prevent them from lighting the book on fire.

I have to admit, I was too overwhelmed with figuring out parenting when Corinne was small to notice the funny little things that would have gone a long way to keeping my spirits up. This is just one of the many secret benefits of waiting to breed worth trading in for the ability to get by on minimal sleep (really the only benefit of starting young).

Seeing her and her adorable daughter was one of the highlights of my summer (getting caught up in the Delta debacle on the way home was much less so). Since I’m fresh off a healthy dose of best friend, you should probably prepare yourself for more than one Why-I-Love-My-BFF. Yes, know – I keep avoiding naming her here because she’s a teacher; but that’s difficult, so now we shall call her Katrina. That’s not her name, but it’s close enough, and gives me something easier to type than “my best friend”.

Here are some of the actual book pages Katrina has sent me:


That…sea lion? Loch ness monster…? whatever it is is definitely UP to something, IFyaknowwhatI’msayin!


This is from a Norwegian book so popular that they built a whole theme park about it. One assumes kids can even extract their own ass-breads!


This is a sketchier out-of-context book, because I’m not sure how one could even do a goat in front. Though I guess props for asking first?


Katrina: “Do you think Mr. Vagin is compensating?” Yes. Yes I do.

Have you ever had to stifle a laugh reading a kids’ book? Come on, share the wealth!


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Return of Dicktater

Somewhere, my friends, there is a pornographic sweet potato farm, and Whole Foods has bought exclusive rights (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, new readers, this has happened before. Now it’s somehow an industry). In what may be one of the stranger sentences I’ve ever uttered, I can no longer buy sweet potatoes without getting sort of confusingly turned on.

I defy you to contradict me:

son of dicktater

Son of Dicktater: bigger, straighter, more…veiny. I am not entirely comfortable with chopping that up to roast.


big veiny

Seriously. Veiny sweet potatoes. How does that even happen? I really don’t think that’s how tubers’ circulatory systems work. It’s not even suggestive, it’s just a scary ‘roid-neck tater. But VEINS!

And lastly, y’all, – and I think this proves that I’m not just making up some kind of weird tuberous conspiracy theory – I give you:


Where do baby dicktaters come from? Why, vagtater poontato, of course!

To be fair, that last one could also be Our Lady of Guadalupe.

But I don’t think it is.


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To Give Is Human

Today is Giving Tuesday, which I think is an incredibly awesome idea. That a Friday pseudo-holiday dedicated to shopping is a thing is beyond disturbing to me. Holidays are commodified enough without rubbing away the thin veneer of illusion that holidays are about anything other than consumerism.

Though I have to admit, I do like to shop for gifts. I would pretty much always rather buy things for other people than for myself.

I learned to love giving when I was about eight. It was the first time I had any money, and I biked my three dollars and change a mile down a major road (because it was the early 80s and people didn’t freak out about kids running about on their own yet) to the Hallmark store and bought stickers for everyone on my Christmas list. Stickers, in case you didn’t know, were EVERYTHING in 1983. Hallmark had a wall with dozens of rolls of fancy stickers and you could buy them one at a time for your sticker collection, most for less than a dollar.


Hush – we didn’t have the Internet to keep us occupied yet. Also, don’t judge until you’ve known the brilliant shine of a new City Cats sticker.

I spent hours at the sticker rolls trying to select just the right sticker for each person, never once stopping to think that pretty much no adult on the planet particularly wanted a foil-backed rainbow sticker, no matter how carefully chosen. All I knew was how good it felt to be giving things to people I loved.

Likewise, my first inappropriate credit card binge/debt hole was from buying really nice Christmas presents for everyone I loved (proving that yes, Virginia, you CAN make giving a narcissistic activity).

Fast forward to today: my mom is sick. The short version is that she was born with a whole lot of issues with her large intestine. Sometimes they put her in bed for extended periods of time. Having been in bed for extended periods of time myself, I know how depressing that is. So I sent her a care package. Before you go “aww,” the care package included this:


Because of course it exists.

In addition to cheering her up, I now get to say “mother, don’t wear your colon like a scarf,” AND I get a lovely (if rather plushily graphic) picture of her suggesting that I kiss her ass to use as her contact photo. See? Generosity just pays and pays.

But even when you never find out who benefits or how much joy or relief it brought them, giving is always still worth it. Giving helps us remember that we’re all connected by our humanity and part of a community far larger than our brains are capable of comprehending. And as Terry Pratchett said, “sin…is when you treat people as things.” Today’s as good a day as any to remember to treat people like people by making sure they have the things they need to get by.

Whether you want to give to someone’s personal crisis fundraiser, or a well-rated charity in someone’s name or memory, or donate fancy gourmet brownie mix to your local food pantry/shelter/kitchen, or a pair of novelty Bad-Ass socks to a random homeless person on the street, go exercise your humanity today by acknowledging theirs. And then maybe again tomorrow. And the day after that. And maybe we could just start treating everybody like people every day. that would be something to celebrate.


Or, you know, not.

But for real: don’t wear your colon like a scarf.

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Sometimes You Just Have to Maraud

Every marriage has its own weird language that’s kind of hard to explain to outsiders. I’m going to try to explain a bit of ours so that I can tell you a story.

First of all, Jim came to me with the nickname Bear. That’s what Corinne called him, which conveniently sidestepped the whole complicated “what do you call the step-dad” mess. Together we have a number of bears, and there are many stories told about their antics, including the absurd lengths to which they will go to procure hidden sweets in the house. When something is askew, we nod to each other knowingly and whisper, “bears.” When I get overwhelmed – which happens to me sometimes – he says “your bear is right here if you need him,” and it is really incredibly comforting.

Early on, I tried to be a bear too. It never quite fit, though I had my momma bear moments when the world would fuck with my kid. We tried on a few things, and I don’t even remember any more how we landed on tiger, or why it was a secret. But I am the Secret Tiger (except it’s not a secret any more, I guess – I’ve always been horrible with secrets. Never give me secrets unless you explicitly tell me to forget as soon as you’re done telling me, which I can do, but I can’t hold onto a secret for any period of time. This is why I do my holiday shopping at the last minute).  When Jim gets overwhelmed, I say “tigers are standing by” and he finds it incredibly comforting.

It’s not THAT unusual.

After a decade, a whole lore and language has arisen around our alter-egos. I have other friends who have evolved other versions, and I suspect it’s a common thing in intimate relationships.

Anyway, today we had to run errands, but we were both feeling overwhelmed. Unfortunately, the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon was pretty much unavoidable, even though we just needed one thing. We made a plan:

Jim: We’re just going to get in and get out. No browsing today.
Me: Right. We’re marauding.
Jim: YES! Let’s maraud!
Me: Rawr!
Jim: we’re more-odding. Those people are less-odding, but we’re more-odding.
Me: none more odd!

And that’s how we made it through there in 10 minutes with nobody dropping everything and running. Afterwards there were celebratory fist bumps. Now we are sitting at home in the quiet for a few minutes before we do the next Thing Which Must Be Done.

There really is nothing in the world like someone you can be vulnerable with.


Almost – But Not Entirely – Unlike Soup

I’ve come down with some kind of yuck that makes it very hard for me to think clearly, but unless my friends are pranking me and this is complete gibberish, I’m still expressing myself well enough to blog about an incredibly pressing issue: the sad dearth of pre-made gluten-free chicken noodle soup.

Do not for a moment, ye gluten eaters, take for granted how easy it is to get your hands on passable chicken noodle soup when you get sick. It is a privilege – a luxury even. If not for the bloating and dehydration that comes with gluten, even when I take Gluten Cutter (which only avoids the migraine part of the adventure), I would be eating real chicken noodle soup even now. But bloating and dehydration are not a sick person’s friend.

Soup is good-GOD, what just happened to your waistline?! Are you possessed?

Last time I got sick, I lamented my situation such that I vowed, with God as my witness, that I would never go soupless again. I bought a couple of cans of gluten free chicken noodle soup (which will henceforth be referred to as CNS, because typing is hard when you’re sick) and smiled smugly to myself every time I saw them in the pantry, knowing they would be there in my time of need.

My time of need arrived today. Jim dutifully heated me up said CNS upon my request, and I was excited enough that I even came downstairs to eat it. Which was frankly a lot more fanfare than that soup of the damned deserved.

Pictured: an abomination.

Aside from the inevitable spongy cubes of chicken-like material – which certainly serve their purpose in providing chicken flavoring to the soup, but are not edible in their own right – that seem to grace most canned soups, this soup was…wrong. It was almost like CNS, except…not. It is the uncanny valley of sick food. Not wrong enough to stop me from eating it, but definitely wrong enough to stop me from enjoying it, or from accepting it as The Real Deal.

Once my head stops unleashing lightning bolts of pain, I will have to make goddamn GFCNS from goddamn scratch and freeze it so that I can eat reasonably decent soup like a civilized sniffling zombie in a bathrobe the next time I get sick. Except by then it will probably be freezer-burned, and I’ll have that to resent instead – but It will still be better than this depressing canned horror.

Take it from me: next time you get sick, remember to deeply appreciate your soup being there for you. Because there may come a day when it won’t be. May your day never, ever come.


This is Probably Why I Don’t Get Invited to Parties Much

Jim and I are pretty hardcore homebodies. If there were an Olympic-level competition for Couples’ Introverting, we’d be guaranteed to at least bring home the bronze. That said, a friend of mine has an annual pumpkin carving party that we’ve never made it to, and we decided to finally go this year. It was BYOP(umpkin), so I decided to pick out the most misshapen pumpkin Aldi had on offer for $2.99. I was not disappointed.

Me: OMG, it looks like a butt!
Jim: (accusingly) are you going to carve a butt-pumpkin?
Me: No, that’s the low-hanging fruit. Surely I can do something more creative than that. Also, holy crap, the stem looks like a boner! Choices, choices.
Jim: Are you really going to get that thing?
Me: TOTALLY!!! How could you not?! Also, nobody else will. It’s like the gimpy cat at the shelter that nobody wants. Isn’t that sad?

Fast forward to Saturday night at the carving table, with me turning the pumpkin in all sorts of directions, waiting for inspiration. My friend Jodi walks up.

Jodi: Whatcha doin?
Me: Trying to figure out how I want to carve this suggestive pumpkin.
Jodi:  Oh! just turn it on its side, like this…., draw a hand *here* and *here* and pop them out 3-D like. Voila!
Me: Oh. My. God. That is BRILLIANT. Thank you!!
Jodi: See, this is why we’re friends.

I had some trouble with dismembered fingers, but in the end (ha!), I think it was a success.

Butt Pumpkin

I give you: Goatse Pumpkin. The red candle wax was totally accidental – there had been another pumpkin there earlier, and I guess it leaked. I did not make some kind of bloody santorum pumpkin, because that would be gross. Unlike my gourd butthole, which is comparatively classy.

And then I stepped back and looked at it in among the happy, family-friendly pumpkins (because there were a TON of kids there) and the creative masterpieces and I thought, “yeah, this might have something to do with my empty dance card.”

pumpkin party

Pictured: how normal people carve pumpkins. Not pictured: butt pumpkin.