My strange addiction

It’s a dangerous time to spout unprovable, subjective claims. We’re all waiting with bated breath to see if last week’s attempted violent coup in my backyard, fueled by internet madness, will repeat next week in everyone’s backyard.

But I’m here to write about conspiracy theorists and their theories (again), and in that spirit, I can’t let a lack of expertise, or the presence of prudence, hold me back.

Consider it method blogging.

These guys’ bizarre fanfics are proliferating at an amazing speed on the internet these days, so you may be far more familiar with them than you’d like. (Or, if you’re one of them, you’re furious at me for using the “c” word about you, in which case, let’s talk!)

But me? I was fascinated by this weirdness for a long time before it unfortunately reached mainstream consciousness. Back when it seemed more like a funny curiosity than like the stupidity that’s going to drag us all under with it. Just yesterday, someone gave me the dubious honor of saying I was the the first person who introduced him to the idea of “QAnon” just a few short, innocent years ago.

It’s because I have a compulsion to read the comments, as I’ve confessed here before. Even though I don’t know any of these people in the real world, I see them daily, in places like the comments sections of innocuous Instagram posts, where everybody else is just lolling and flinging emojis around and tagging their friends, these people will come in hot screaming



They have no chill. And, as someone who outwardly has chill but inwardly has no chill, I find this total-bananas way to be completely fascinating in a horrifying way. Probably the same way a lot of you like true crime.

So stay tuned. I have theories about theories, coming soon.

Let me overthink about it

My brain, which is pretty sure it’s the star of every show, likes to do gymnastics when it thinks I’m trying to ignore it. When I try to sleep or meditate or give the rest of my organs a chance to do their thing without the brain cracking the whip and jumping up and down for attention, it likes to jerk on the reins a bit and show us all who’s boss.

This is simply what it does. As someone said (my clever brain has no idea now where I heard it; if you know, please tell me), “the brain secretes thoughts like the stomach secretes acid.”

But sometimes I don’t want to be a hostage to the thought parade, just like I wouldn’t want to be hostage to an acid parade. I try to calm the brain down so that other things can happen.

It’s sneaky, though.

I’ll sit down to the piano at night for my pre-bedtime noodle, and it will be going really well. You can’t play fluidly while you are in conscious control of all ten of your fingers and your pedaling foot, so this means you have to let your body take over the flow.

It’s right when I notice I’m in a nice state of flow that my brain knocks on the door and says, “Ah, this is going well!”

Clang. Wrong notes. Lost place.

Then the brain tries to put the apple-cart right, micromanaging, and soon there are apples flying everywhere and I forgot how to count.

Still, thank you for your service, brain. You do a lot. Sometimes you can take a breather, though.

From @morganharpernichols

2021 goals

In case you’re looking for inspiration, I made some sample 2021 resolutions:

  • Finally remember the password to that one bank account. Consider checking the balance.
  • Reduce the house plant death count (Story time: I think I killed four of mine in 2020. Two orchids I basically ripped apart with some flush of Hulk strength while trying to water them, and this is especially sad as I was watching them for a friend (sorry Elizabeth); and the spider plant and the Bolivian Wandering Jew decided they had been miserable for long enough and I clearly didn’t understand their needs, maybe I didn’t even want to understand their needs, and they were finally going. So this year my plan is to kill three or fewer.)
  • Meditate without playing Sudoku
  • Read that book you have been meaning to since you borrowed it from a friend in 2009
  • Follow your laundry’s care instructions
  • Get the vaccine
  • Eat more soup
  • Eat less soup
  • Brush teeth before noon
  • Stop reading the comments
  • Unpack that one box of random stuff from the last time(s) you moved

Hopefully those give you something to work with!

In seriousness, here’s what I plan for 2021:

  • Do one thing at a time
  • Speed up 5k running pace by 2 minutes per mile
  • Journal by hand 5 times a week
  • Keep writing Book Three

What are your intentions for this new year?

Proposing new curse words

You know how rude words are formed, right? A word is banned from polite society and thereafter, only the gauche dare use it (for a while).

This means that we have a mechanism if we are extremely sick of certain words and want a very long break from hearing them: all you have to do is clutch your pearls, grimace, or gasp next time you hear it, and if enough of us play along, pretty soon everyone-who’s-anyone avoiding such vulgarities.

Here are some terms I’m going to be fanning myself and bleeping out starting in 2021:

  1. “New normal” ?
  2. “Unprecedented” ?
  3. “Virtual” ?
  4. “Socially distanced” ?
  5. “Zoom,” as any part of speech. I don’t care if you’re talking about how quickly you plan to drive. Do not say this in mixed company!
  6. “Safe” or “safely” (see my previous post about people’s insane semantic drift on this one. It is and has been meaningless and we should be ashamed to say it.)

Will you join me? Remember, we can only collectively shun words if we act collectively.

What words will you be fleeing from next year?

2020: finishing strong? finishing.

Six months ago, I set the following goals for the second half of 2020:

  • Take an online course on intuitive eating: ✔️, and I developed a Lot of Feelings about food and eating.
  • Play the piano at least three days per week, and be able to play one specific song fluently by the end of the year: I never decided on One Big Song to perfect, but I’ve been playing most nights and getting out the old song books I had as a kid and it’s a huge joy for me and maybe the neighbor I share a wall with.
  • Write a SFD (shitty first draft) of Book Three: I’m on my way, but the first draft is not close to done. Then again, I did a lot of research and I’m having a bit of a love affair with the writing it right now (to borrow an image from Elizabeth Gilbert). That feeling is the pinnacle of delight for a creative hobby. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s recognition. No, the best it gets is the itchy pull all day to get back to creating, and then the rush and the flow when it’s time to do it.
  • Perfect my query letter and send 60 queries for Book One: I did not make the query letter perfect, nor did I send anywhere near 60 queries. I sent a few, and then put it aside, and then woke up one morning with my soul telling me it was time to send more, so I did, and now I’ve put it aside again.

Six months later I’m noticing how these goals mostly seem a bit pushy, achievement-oriented, perfection- and recognition-bait. Finish the class! Do the song good! Finish the draft! Make the letter perfect and then snow New York under with it! (“That seems normal, as they’re goals,” you might say, raising your eyebrow.)

I’ll think about that the next few days. How to set goals that are specific and measurable but also more oriented around a state of being than around constant doing? Looking for balance in the immense sweet spot between “bored and aimless” and “overstretched.”

Let me know some things you’re proud of yourself for in 2020!

My covid-safe gatherings

I’ve been doing a lot of covid-safe gathering recently. Let me tell you about a recent event:

It was a small group—just me and a few safe friends. We rarely see anyone, so we see each other a lot.

That’s how I choose all the groups I see: I make sure that they’re all full of people who don’t see people. All of the people in my groups limit their contact to people who they see. We’re all really safe this way!

But we know that’s not enough. We also kept six feet apart except when we got closer than six feet, and we kept masks on at all times except when we were actively eating, drinking, taking photos, yelling, singing, talking, or breathing near each other. 

With just a few alterations, such as seeing only people who you want to see and wearing masks except when you don’t want to wear masks and staying six feet apart except when you want to get closer than six feet, you too can have a covid-safe gathering.

(Disclaimer 1: This is satire.)

(Disclaimer 2: If you feel attacked, please know that I don’t mean to be attacking anyone specifically. I am far from perfect. But also if the shoe fits maybe you should think about that.)

(Disclaimer 3: If your mental health is suffering due to isolation, please reach out to your support network (or add to it) in a way that aligns with the public health guidance. We’re in the home stretch.)

A Christmas crossroads

It’s Christmas night. ⠀

A choice now stands before you.⠀

If you are totally done—whether because you’re overwhelmed, sad, broke, lonely, furious, hung over, stuffed to the gills, or sick to death of sleigh-bell songs—you may be done. Take down the lights, heave the tree to the curb, turn on normal music, avoid wearing red for a few months. You made it! Congratulations!⠀

Or, if you’re not done—if you feel like you haven’t gotten your fill of Christmas movies or songs, or you have tons of treats left to eat, or you love how the lights look in the deepest dark of winter, or the festive trimmings make you feel better in a hard time, or you are so close to some insight about the nature of divine incarnation—I have great news. You’re just getting started! All the “Christmas” you had before yesterday was a heretical bonus. Christmas has just started today, and it’s twelve days long, so feel free to kick up your feet and get settled in. ⠀

In case you’re wondering, I’m in the second camp, and I don’t plan to take down the lights maybe ever, but I anticipate the Christmas-music hangover to set in pretty shortly.

Wherever you are, I send love and best wishes. Be kind to yourself and to others.

The soul can speak but it whispers

I’ve been trying to get very quiet sometimes lately, like as still and quiet as you’d get if you were crouching in the forest hoping a beautiful wild thing would come wander over and lay its head in your hand. It takes a bit of practice. The general volume inside and out of my head is historically a bit more “auctioneer” than “anchorite.”

But I’m trying. I’m turning down various knobs and finding more room for quiet, more of the time.

This way, sometimes, I can hear my soul. She doesn’t say much, but if I get quiet enough, I’ll move toward something and she’ll say one of two things:




Maybe in time she’ll move on to full sentences—or I’ll turn down the knobs even more so I can hear her at length.

But for now all she does is turn me subtly like a divining rod, and whether it’s her moving me or me, I’m grateful.

Little house projects for weathering the pandemic winter

Are you looking for little house projects for now that the weather is cold and the pandemic is raging horribly and it’s (maybe) vacation time? Are you someone who wants to go to bed with a little smug smile at having knocked something off of a to-do list and doesn’t actually want to do real projects? I’ve got your back, and I’ll provide the estimated time-intensity of each project so you can work them into your schedule.

1. Untangling the blinds pull cord. Estimated time: five hours. Estimated bandaids needed on the raw stumps that your fingers will be: ten.

2. Organizing the files on your computer, which you’ve ported from computer to computer for the last fifteen years. Estimated time: two hours (initial attempt); a month (fresh hell of seeing evidence of the half-completed organizational attempt on your desktop); indefinite (abandoning the project and saying you’ll get back to it next time you have a minute)

3. Deep cleaning. Tier 1 deep clean: actually dusting the molding or whatever you call the thing at the base of the wall, in the places where there is no furniture blocking it so it poses no difficulty: One hour. Tier 2 deep clean: Moving the furniture to properly clean the floors underneath: Three to six hours depending on square footage. Tier 3 deep clean: I have no idea what this consists of and I don’t want to know. Infinite hours; impossible task.

4. Taking everything off your streaming queue that you put there sometime in a fugue state for some reason, as though you really wanted to watch that Flemish-language sitcom about an unhappy family: thirty minutes.

5. Scrolling through the entirety of the streaming services (all of them) adding everything you might want to ever watch to the queue that you have just emptied: a further thirty minutes.

6. Lying on the floor, wondering about how carpet is made: until bedtime

This one goes out to the history majors

There’s only so much we can hold in our feeble meat brains.

That’s why generations lose things. They slough off language and stories and places they loved, all to make way for the riches the present holds.

After three generations we have forgotten even the names of those who went before. There are too many of them, and the tangle of who they all knew and loved and what they ate and thought and felt is too heavy to carry into the future.

But that’s why there are people like us who remember for all of you. We trail the line like pack mules, our satchels full of your discards. Hungry and starving and grateful for what you no longer want. We pass it back and back to the back of the line, long after any of us are gone, not really knowing why. Only knowing “this might be important,” and we stuff it into the sack and press on.