Thursday, March 15, 2018

Beware the Unguarded Heart

I think it's the uncertainty of social media feedback that makes it so compelling. And it's not only that you don't know whether you are going to get Likes or hearts or whatever, it's also that even when you do get them, you don't know what the hell they mean.

Let's say you post something one day about the whole household having the flu, and Aunt Melba gives it a heart. Ideally she'd drop off some of her famous chicken soup to help out in a quaintly old-fashioned (i.e., meaningful) way, but she's 105 and lives in another town so that e-heart is all you've got to work with. Is Aunt Melba sending love to help us get over the flu, or does she love that we all have the flu, or is she just 105 and confused about the Facebook?

Unless it is well established that Aunt Melba is a crusty old bitch, I'd tend to assume she is sending love. But not every Like is so straightforward, and not every person seems to subscribe to the same social media philosophy. I, for instance, only press the heart button when I truly heart something - like, I pause each time and carefully consider, Do I really love this? Is this worthy of my love? - but other people are out there throwing hearts around like Oprah throws out cars: YOU get a heart, and YOU get a heart, and EVERYBODY GETS A HEART! (Cut this shit out, people - it's causing heart inflation and devaluing all the other hearts out there.)

Further-further confounding things is that we - messy humans - view everything through a self-centric lens, whether it's incoming or outgoing. Aunt Melba can intend whatever she wants with that heart, but I am going to interpret it however I am inclined to interpret it. Conversely, I can hit Like or heart or angry face with whatever muddled and endlessly variable rationale driving me in that moment, but all anyone gets out of it is an opaque little icon. Am I angry along with you at the injustice detailed in the article you shared, or angry at you for posting something I disagree with, or just an angry person in general and why are you even friends with me anyway? You get to be the judge and the jury - and yes, even the victim, if you wish.

I propose a classic yet classically onerous solution: crosswalk tables. I suspect we're going to need to perfect the Vulcan mind-meld in order to get sufficiently detailed personal classification matrices in place and cross-correlated, and I predict a lot of hurt feelings coming out of that process, but it will all be worth it to have a perfect, icon-based communication system in place on social media platforms. I mean, we could try using our words and stuff, but that would take up so much valuable Facebook time plus potentially mean having to interact with other humans in person or - heaven forbid - over the phone. Ew!

In the meantime I guess we're 100% stuck communicating using only Likes and hearts. So be sure to leave me a Like. Or not. Your choice. Regardless, I will definitely be racking my brains wondering why.

Like mice to a food lever with a random interval reward schedule, these are the days of our lives.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


There's a fine line between ripped jeans, and jeans that are ripped. I am familiar with this line because I can't seem to stop jamming my feet through my ripped jeans when I'm putting them on, and thus I own several pairs of jeans that are ripped.

I used to feel trendy and stylish in my ripped jeans, but now I just feel the accusatory gaze of the pasty blobs of thigh that sortof bulge out of the rips a little as if to say, Why don't you get out your sewing machine and patch this up, you slob? (Shut up, thigh. What do you know about my busy life?) You can classy up ripped jeans because the rips are intentional, and thus cool, but jeans that are ripped just drag everything down to their level. With jeans that are ripped, you might as well slap on the same holey grey sweatshirt every day and accept that you are now a person who has given up on their appearance. Thankfully, I work from home, that proud bastion of folks who have given up on their appearances, so it matters not whether my jeans are ripped or ripped.

Actually, that particular bastion might be a little too proud: I notice DH has started to compliment me every time I get dressed. It doesn't even matter what I'm wearing, just that I'm not wearing my de facto basement-office uniform (holey grey sweatshirt, jeans-that-are-ripped, and "comfy" [i.e., saggy old] bra). If I so much as put on a t-shirt and comb my hair he's like, "Wow, you look nice today, dear." One day last week I went as far as to wash my hair and put on a cardigan and he accused me of dressing up: "Did you have a lunch date or something?" I did, actually, but the fact that a shower and a cardigan seemed to bump me up several rungs of dressiness in his estimation really opened my eyes to just how far my standards have fallen since I left my old office job.

He even seemed slightly envious that I had "dressed up" for someone else, although he also gets a little envious that I turn on the heat in the house for guests and not for him so I wouldn't put much stock in that reaction. (Interesting note: I recently learned that normal room temperature is actually 21C, not 20C as I believed, so the lucky recipients of my house-heating beneficence have probably all still been chilly. Being a perpetually-warm person has its advantages I guess.) I admit I got a little defensive about my cardigan - dressed is clearly not the same as dressed up! - until I realized that his argument cut both ways: "Waaaait a minute - by that logic you come home after work every day and dress down for me!"

"But I don't want my work clothes to smell like cooking supper!"

"I don't want my cardigans to smell like that either!"

"Hm... okay, fair enough. Anyway, you look really nice today, dear. Hey, is it cold in here?"

"No. Go put on another sweater, you wuss."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Putting the Sham in Shampoo

Studies have shown that people who are told their placebo is more expensive experience greater placebo effects.

Like, let that sink in for a minute. It is literally mind-boggling. I think most people would read that and think, What?! Surely that would never work on me. I am way too smart/sensible/whatever I tell myself to get through the day to fall for a price tag, let alone on a placebo!

I know I definitely had that reaction. And it was an easy thing to tell myself, given that I have never participated in any clinical trials for Parkinson's disease (... for instance). But then one day in the shower I realized: if I actually believed what my shampoo was telling me, I would not in a million years use the leftover suds to wash the ol' pits & bits.

Just think about all the things your shampoo promises you: thicker... fuller... shinier... for the love of Pete, enhanced curls? This thought now consumes my every shower. It's antithetical to every grooming objective I enforce from my eyebrows on down, and still my shower is stocked with mega bottles of salon product so ridiculously expensive that I secretly sniff my kids' hair - under the pretext of "Give mommy a hug!" - to make sure they're not using it. (Don't judge me - it's way out of their pay grade.)

I swear that this shampoo makes my head hair better, while at the same time having no discernible effects on, say, my leg hair.  

The shampoo conundrum haunts me because it's such a blatant example of my own dissonant beliefs, all wrapped up in a tidy mint-green bottle**: I have to look at the bottle every day and be angry at myself for spending so much money on it, yet I still manage to feel good about putting it in my hair, yet somehow completely neutral about allowing the magical suds to trickle down my ass crack, purportedly enhancing volume and curls all the way. The whole situation completely defies logic.

**Actually, it's a pair of bottles: I have the conditioner, too. Heaven help me, I let that trickle down as well.

**Aaaaactually, it's a quartet: I also have two bottles of matching product, but since I don't apply those - actively or passively - to the rest of my body, I seem to experience less internal struggle over their mystical claims.

Oh shit - I just realized something truly terrible. *checks knuckle hair* Okay, nevermind. No worse than usual.

My brain has a little battle with itself over this issue basically every time I have a shower, and each time reaches only a strained detente thanks to one tiny, hopeful nugget: the products smell really good.

Tiny, niggling brain voice: Like... $300 good?

Louder brain voice: STFU, brain. I'm sick of justifying everything to you.


All the brains: Aaaaaahhhhh...

Nose (quietly): Until tomorrow, you crazy bastards.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Girlfriend Experience

I have this terrible habit of forgetting the joke that goes along with the punchline. Here's one of my favourite disembodied punchlines: "If I had known we had more time, darling, I would have taken off my pantyhose." It's a great punchline, right? Too bad I have no idea what the hell it's about.

I also experience this problem with advertisements. I'm probably an advertiser's worst nightmare, actually. For instance, there used to be this ad on TV with the tagline, "One is often enough." It was a long time ago and I can't actually remember the product being peddled - pain medication seems likely, or maybe an antacid? - but for years I have heard that fellow's voice in my head whenever I've experienced things that I'm not interested in experiencing ever again: "One is often enough."

Divorce is one of the things that I was convinced I'd had enough of after just a single try, and DH and I are not married for exactly this reason: can't get divorced if you were never married in the first place! He says I have a bad attitude, with the possible implication that I also have bad logic, but I contend I simply have a high degree of self-awareness around how many divorces I'm able to cope with in my lifetime. "One is often enough." (Maybe it was an ad for a divorce lawyer...?)

I suspect DH is secretly disappointed in this situation, so I try to point out the positives to him. I recently learned of a thing called "the girlfriend experience" which seemed very positive to me. I learned about it by reading Craigslist personal ads, which are utterly chock-a-block with fascinating insights into humanity. Plus some pretty disturbing insights... I've also learned to check Urban Dictionary first to find out whether I really want to Google a term/acronym/euphemism, as some things can't be unseen. (Silly me, I thought that poor M4M 52 was seeking some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy!)

The girlfriend experience of course means a certain thing, but for DH's benefit I've decided to ascribe my own meaning to it: since we aren't married you could feasibly call me his girlfriend, in which case everything I do qualifies as this much-sought-after Girlfriend Experience! Lucky him!

He couldn't sleep because I was snoring? Girlfriend experience! Long orange hairs clogging the drains? Couldn't get that experience without a girlfriend, could ya? Infuriatingly obtuse anti-logical arguments? People pay good money for that kind of thing, you know!

The possibility exists that I am a total pain in the ass to live with, but I contend that it's simply my way of ensuring DH never has the energy or inclination to pursue any "extracurriculars" on Craigslist or otherwise: The Girlfriend Experience - One is Often Enough.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Judging by what I see on the internet, "meal prepping" is all the rage these days. In case you haven't heard of meal prepping, it goes like this: people cook food, then put the food into containers to eat later in the week. Oh yeah, then they take photos of the food-in-containers and post the photos on social media with a stupid hashtag, to much admiration and "Liking" from their peers.

I'm having one of those milestone sorts of birthdays this year so it pains me slightly to have to say this, but - social media aspect aside - back in my day we called that "leftovers." I think it's well understood that every generation believes they've invented sex, but it boggles the mind to think an entire generation seriously believes they invented leftovers. Even more so that anyone else would care to see your leftovers in their Instagram feed, or that you are somehow deserving of praise for the blindingly obvious time- and cost-saving measure of producing said leftovers. My foolish young friends: what do you think you were eating for lunch the next day your whole childhood?

Can you just envision our pioneer forebears, kneading up the week's bread and being all like, "Hashtag MealPrepMonday!" Then maybe getting out a sketchbook to draw each step from three different angles and write a smarmy blog a mile long before finally giving you the damn bread recipe. Hell, maybe some did, and so quickly succumbed to natural selection pressures that no one's heard of them...

I like to think about all the things that, in retrospect, will be understood to have been signs of the pending fall of modern civilisation. We've heard about the excess of the Romans and the environmental collapse of the Mayans; what will our downfall be? The more time I spend on Reddit et al. the more I think the pointless farming of Likes/upvotes/etc. by whatever ridiculous trendy means necessary is a serious contender for the honour - the only people left after the fall will be the ones who had been successfully eating meatloaf sandwiches for lunch the next day without ever having taken a photo or said a damn thing about it to anyone. Because #honestlywhowouldevencareaboutmyleftovers?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What's for Supper?

A friend of mine recently posted a Facebook status seeking someone who would like to rent a room from him. It was one of those everyday things that unexpectedly captures the imagination, and I've been thinking about the room ever since.

Realistically, the room is probably 8x10' with low-pile beige carpet and plastic blinds, but I prefer to envision it as a spa-like space: airy fabrics; delicious herbal teas that sell for like $36 dollars a box; soft nature-ish music with some sort of... panflute? softly tootling along with the birds. Or sometimes I see it more like Pinterest's idea of an opium den: rich brocades; moody lighting; a metric pantload of pillows. Regardless of the decor, someone is usually rubbing my feet in my imaginings of this room.

My favourite design feature, however, is that no one would ask me what's for supper in the room. I get asked about supper a lot. (Also breakfast, lunch, and multiple snacks every day - not that I'm counting.) If I had a secret room somewhere, no one could saunter into it and say, "What's for supper?" as if I was not presently working at my job and no one else in the house could possibly be capable of defrosting a pound of beef without my managerial involvement.

"What's for supper?" follows me on family vacation, too. I seem to be only person on vacation that is consistently assumed not to be on vacation - or not really, because obviously no one else in the house is capable of meal planning or preparation without my managerial involvement. They just stare at me with their mouths open all day, like hungry nestlings. "Hop to it, lady. We're not gonna feed ourselves."

I like to leverage my resentment at being the only person who has both paid for the vacation and is expected to continue to provide service to everyone else while on the vacation, into ostensible "couple's time." In fact, it accounts for several of my Top Ten Couple's Activities to Help Keep the Magic Alive During a Family Vacation:

10. Make a grocery list together. I have to use my brain on vacation? Well guess what, dear, now you bloody well do, too. Get your thinking cap on mofo, 'cause we all need to eat.

9. Go grocery shopping together. Oooh, we left the kids at home! Now it's like a real date! Isn't grocery shopping on vacation fun?

8. Cook breakfast together.

7. Cook lunch together.

6. Decide where to go out for supper together because you're both already sick of cooking while on vacation and it's only been two days.

5. Put the big one in charge of the little one out on the beach, and retreat inside to have a nice nap together.

4. Check how bad the weather is back home each morning, then enjoy the sunrise on the dock with a cup of coffee and bask in your mutual sense of having achieved excellent value-for-money.

3a. Sensually Liberally apply sunscreen to exposed areas, and you had better not miss any spots! Get under those straps! Did you rub it in?

3b. Sensually Gingerly apply Solarcaine to affected areas. (Optional: bring up how you told him he should have put on sunscreen, too.)

2. Offer to pee on your significant other's jellyfish stings. I say "offer" because apparently, it's not necessarily something your significant other will be interested in taking you up on. No, not even the one on his arm just to see if it really works, and not even for science, and definitely not the one on his face you fucking pervert what is wrong with you quit cackling like a maniac.

1. Check each other for sand infestations.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Peach Beach

Since it's mostly my friends and family who read these posts, you probably already know I got back from vacation a few days ago. It was a real beach vacation, in the sense that there wasn't much to do besides find ourselves a new beach to hang out at each day, so that's what we did. Shout out to the Bahamian out-islands: each beach was more beautiful than the last, yet we hardly saw another person at any of them. Overall I would characterize the trip as "therapeutic", because I don't feel words like "relaxing" or "nice" really get at the experience: I slept well, I stressed zero, I didn't check my email for almost three full weeks. My blood pressure literally dropped ten points! 10/10 would recommend.

I've been on vacations where beaches were involved, but I've never had a truly beach-centric vacation like that before. One thing that occuurred to me as my thoughts swam dreamily past was that, in all the "summer reading"-type novels I have read - admit it, you know what I mean - I don't think the authors have been entirely honest about the invasive properties of sand.

There was, like, a lot of sand. Everywhere - sand. An infestation of sand, really. There was sand in the beds, sand in the furniture, sand somehow in the dinners I lovingly and (I swear!) hygienically prepared. I would peel off my swimsuit at the end of each day and find I was wearing a swimsuit-shaped garment of sand underneath. Sand was in places it shouldn't ever be (see title) and lemme tell you, it was reluctant to be evicted. We had been home three days when Small Fry found sand still in his ear. I'm not even going to tell you where I found some.

Maybe you've been reading different summer novels than I have so this was perfectly apparent to you, but I felt slightly deceived by all those romantic portrayals of beach houses and summer flings. Sand is not just not romantic, it is anti-romantic (some things don't need exfoliating!). And for a clean-floors afficionado like myself, it is also a little bit anti-sanity - if I had to live with it every day and couldn't simply remind myself that it was only a temporary situation, it would be a lot anti-sanity.

I'm convinced the whole reason behind that laid-back "island vibe" people talk about is that if you walk too quickly, you're going to get sand everywhere. Or maybe it already is everywhere and you're (rightly) concerned about chafing key anatomical regions... either way, sand is the driver. Conversely, the reason behind the brisk-and-stressed vibe back home is that if you walk too slowly, you're going to freeze to death.

Which reminds me: I got a sand-load of feedback from y'all regarding my last post. For those of you who were offended by DH's desire for poor home weather while we were away, you should know that we came back to one of his least-favourite things in the world: shoveling snow. Our first morning home I gave him a cheery, "Morning, dear!" To which he replied, "Shoveling snow can kiss my ass," and slammed the door.

I hope that warms your heart, if not your toes.