Science Fiction, American-Style

Have you ever pondered the possibility of time travel? Are the fantastically portrayed ideas of alternate realities and parallel timelines something you enjoy reading about or watching at movies and on TV? Is Dr. Who and his timey-wimey stuff something you could imagine happening? I dunno how it happens: you are given a tiny, little green pill to swallow, which will send you to a future not of your choosing, or HG Wells will have built a working time machine somewhere and you’ll get to take a ride; possibly there’s a real-life T.A R D.I S. with your name on it. Maybe there’s a rip in the time continuum and you fall through the hole. I am clearly just riffing, and completely unknowledgeable about time travel. That’s not the point, though. The how of getting to this future isn’t important. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s just say you were able to.

I did. It was altogether alarming, and I almost hesitated to write it, lest it become an actual possibility. Some might read it and think, “Oh, come on! This can never happen here!” I may be told, point-blank, that I’ve got one fucked-up imagination. (I do not deny this, by the way.) I would then invite them to have an honest look at the state of the union today. Take a good look, if you have, thus far, been able to fracture your world from that which is happening all around you and affecting people you know. As an aside, if you have been able to separate your life from the dumpster fire that is the United States throughout the last 3 or more years, please: tell us your secret. We beseech you.

Really examine just the events of the past six months, if the whole Trump presidency is too much for you to rehash. Then, tell me that this scenario I offer below doesn’t at least stand a very real chance of becoming true as things stand today.

This is not for the faint of heart. Continue……

I wake up. My bed is the same soft, cozy surface. The room is the same. Everything around me is normal, the house, the cats, and, I assume, the humans. Let’s say that I forego the morning routine of looking at social media and checking out the news. That’s not likely to happen, but since this is my little work of science fiction, let’s say it does. I suddenly have a craving for a breakfast burrito, and I walk down to a place where I would normally get a breakfast burrito. Names aren’t important here. Context, people. Use your imagination.

When I get to the entrance, I don my face mask. There’s a sort of big, red, symbol on the door that closely resembles an elephant. I pay it no mind; I’m hungry, and my stomach is growling like a fucking angry bear. I get to the counter, standing the usual 6 feet away; the associate’s eyes go up, and she gestures to my face. “We don’t do that here, and you don’t have to, either,” she says. I shake my head and say, “Better to be safe.”  Then I peer back into the kitchen area. There’s one guy back there, wearing gloves and a hairnet, but neither he nor this girl have a face mask on. Pick your battles, I say to myself. “I would appreciate you wearing a mask to make my food,” I say, and she rolls her eyes. She asks me if she can help me. I order what I usually do: a breakfast burrito with sausage, cheese, peppers, onions, and tomato, with salsa and sour cream on the side.  Oh, and a large, black coffee. We cannot forget that most important item. She places the order and begins ringing it up, after asking “For here or to go?”  Obviously to go, lady. Then, it gets strange.

“I need to see your card,” she says.

“Oh! I’m using cash. Besides, I could just use the swiper you have here,” I answer, not troubled by her assumption that I would be using a debit card. Most people do, these days. She purses her lips tightly and says, “No, not your debit card. Your card.” I look at her, not comprehending. My ID? My library card? Do people still have those? My {insert restaurant’s corporate name} points card? Seeing my confusion, she rolls her eyes again and calls back to her manager. “Hey Frank? Can you come here a minute? We might have a situation.”

A “situation”? What is the situation? Why am I a situation? Is there suddenly a ban on cash, or green peppers, or sour cream? I mean, I know coins are becoming scarce, but I want to give you cash, which will help with the national shortage, at least. Clearly, I should have checked the news this morning.

The guy who is all hair netted-up strips off his gloves and walks up to her. “Again?” he asks? She gives him a look and he regards me with a sort of bland, slightly disinterested gaze.

“Ma’am,” he begins pleasantly, “she has to see your card. With the mask on and all, it’s a red flag.  It’s necessary.” 

What? Just……what?

“You mean, since you can’t see my face, you need an ID for a burrito and coffee?” I sputter, completely exasperated. What he says next in reply sends my head spinning.

“No, not your photo ID. Your voter ID.” He seems perfectly serious about this. He does not seem batshit crazy. He seems to think that am batshit crazy, though. When he sees my eyes widen in a way that must make me resemble a Bratz doll, he elaborates in a sort of bored, I’ve-memorized-this-spiel-before monotone.

“This is a Republican-owned restaurant. We must see your United States Voter Identification and Party Affiliation Card in order to serve you. Come on…. you know that. Why do you people have to be so difficult, with your masks and your shields and your outrage? I mean, we have 331,000,000 Americans in this country and only 14 million have died of the ‘Rona so far. It’s a big, fake story.” The associate next to him nods like a bobble head as he says this to me. I remain standing there, incredulous, wondering just what the hell happened while I was sleeping or if maybe I am still sleeping, and this is all a jacked-up nightmare. I take a deep, shuddering breath. Easy, my inner voice warns. Don’t lose your shit.

The manager holds his hand up swiftly. “I need to warn you that I will call the authorities. The Federal Karen Act of 2021 makes it unlawful for you to express any so-called “outrage” about any and all regulations. So please, don’t make me have to call them. No card? No service. If you’re a Democrat or an Independent, go to their restaurants. You know who they are.”  He shakes his head, clearly exasperated with me. Bobble head just keeps bobbling. Turning to her, he asks, “You got this? I have to step out for about 15 minutes to run my mom to the doctor for her test. She’s had the ‘Rona 3 times now and they keep saying they don’t know why. I mean, my uncle only had it once before he got it that last time and died. I think there’s some secret stuff going on. That Dr. Fauci might really be the descendent of the Nazi doctors.” Bobble head replies. “I hear they’re giving you the test so they can inject a time-release capsule up in there, so you keep getting sick and the numbers stay high.” He shrugs, then nods his head nervously. “I mean, I don’t want my mom having the test again, but her insurance company is owned by  Democrats.” 

I back out of that restaurant slowly but steadily, not trusting them and not really trusting myself. Outside the restaurant, I pull my phone out of my pocket. The news is easily accessed; I search words on Google. I don’t even realize that I’ve sunk to the grass in front of the store until I look up from my haze. 

Somehow, I lost 2 years of my life and somehow, I woke up in an alternate reality where Donald Trump is still President, having declared martial law back in 2020 when Joe Biden won a decisive victory over him in the election.  Biden was assassinated on December 18th, 2020, before he could ever take the oath of office. The date was horrifying: it was the same day his wife and daughter had died in a car accident in 1972. The nation had become gripped in what was nearly a civil war, and Trump had declared that it “wasn’t safe” to have another election. The borders remained closed and we were at war with China now. The United States was being funded by Russia, with Vladimir Putin having his own office in the White House for his frequent visits to “advise”. Somehow, the US was trying to function in a way that allowed citizens their simple freedoms, but also allowed racism, prejudice, and bigotry to run free.  

I learned that my assigned “times” to be able to shop at Walmart and most big box, “bipartisan” stores were from 12pm-5pm. Republicans shopped from 6am – 11am.  Independents got 6pm-11pm. The store closed from 11am to 12pm, and again from 5pm to 6pm, to restock. Small, local businesses were permitted to choose how they wanted to do business. A red elephant symbol appeared on Republican-owned and operated stores, and a blue donkey symbol appeared on ones owned and operated by Democrats. The Independents had an eagle with an “I” symbol affixed at their locations. The government refused to address the needs of Libertarians, and there was a lot of civil unrest because of that. They were lumped in with the Independents, a fact that irked both parties.

There were federal troops in every large city now, dispatched to try and stifle protests. There had been one defining protest during a week in July of 2020, in Portland, Oregon. Some women who called themselves “The Wall of Mothers” had formed in response to Federal interference and occupation of that city.

They had appeared in front of a federal building, locked arms, and stood, chanting. Suddenly, strangely camouflaged soldiers had appeared out of nowhere and mowed them all down, using rubber bullets. One pregnant woman had been hit by three bullets and had gone into premature labor, losing her baby.

Another was shot in the face and lost an eye. One had been trampled in the ensuing chaos and died at the hospital later. The rest were loaded into vans and driven away. Three were still missing “in custody”, despite pleas from their families and demands for transparency by the Oregon Attorney General and many other officials. It was said that they had been taken “where the Mexicans go.” Tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets were the rule of thumb, but there were lots of class-action suits being brought against the companies who manufactured these things. Apparently scores of Americans had been gravely injured or died as a result of peacefully protesting and being shot or sprayed by these federal troops. Trump didn’t care how the suits went; he was a big supporter of “a person’s right to sue.”

As I read the absolute chaos the country has descended into, I begin to cry.

We had lost one Supreme Court Justice in 2021, and another conservative had been named. When calls for a fair and balanced Supreme Court were vociferously voiced by both Democrats and Independents, Trump had merely answered, in a two-word tweet:

”Make me.”

The ”Great Pandemic of 2020” was called, simply, that. Most news outlets had simple, stark tickers at the top or bottoms of their pages and channels that continued to keep track of the numbers of those infected with COVID-19 and those who had died: state by state and national totals. Apparently, there was a vaccine, but it was only 45-52% effective, and a full one-third of the country refused to get it, because Trump had stated, “It’s not for me, I don’t think.” He continued to refuse to wear a mask, and only went out to golf, having completely given up on rallies and appearances over a fear that “some Left Wing Nutjob” would target him, “and very unfairly.”  At his last appearance on Fox National Television, interviewed by Tucker Carlson, he had appeared to weigh an estimated 390 lbs. He drooled from one side of his mouth and slurred his words. It was said he could not walk unassisted. He refused to address his immobility, insisting, instead, that he never be seen attempting to walk. Sources at the White House refused to comment on his appearance or health, declaring Trump to be “as fit as a 30-year-old.”

I rise to my feet. I cannot read any more. I need to get home and to make sure everyone I love is okay. The incredible reality – that I was somehow caught up in an alternate universe – has settled deep within the pit of my stomach, where it pours black terror into my veins. The how and the why don’t matter right now.  I stumble up the hill as quickly as I can, aware that I am running on no caffeine or food. It doesn’t matter; I am functioning on pure adrenaline.

 As I near the front of my house, a white ATA van pulls in front of it. The driver smiles and waves to me as the door slides open. I hear the sound of a lift, and suddenly, a figure pushing a walker slowly makes his way off the lift and out onto the sidewalk.

It is The Male Sibling Unit.

He grins tiredly at me and shuffles slowly to the front door. The bus driver calls out to me.

“He had a really good day at work! He’ll be tired. He’s really getting around good with that walker now!” The look on my face must startle her, because she turns off the van. “Hey,” she says, compassionately, “Chin up! I know how hard it has to be to see him have to fight so hard every time he’s gotten the virus. You do all you can to keep him safe. No one could have known he’d have a stroke this last time. But look at him! He’s such a fighter! He never gets down! I’ll bet he could get it a fourth time, and a fifth. He’s a strong guy. I admire how he just says that life’s too short and you gotta live.” Winking at me, she turns the key in the ignition. “I’ll see you Wednesday! I have to go pick up a crew at the Elm Street group home for testing.” With a short beep of the horn, she pulls slowly away.

The next thing I remember, I am coming to on a gurney in an ambulance. A figure, clad head to toe in blue and with a full-face shield and mask works over me. A neighbor found me on the pavement. I had passed out. “Hey, no worries,” he says to me as I jump at the sight of him. ”Your husband gave us all your info. He’ll follow in your car. Just relax for now. We’ll be at D-UPMC Erie before you know it.”

“E-Erie? Am I that sick?” I stammer. “What’s the matter with Bradford Hospital?” He rubs my shoulder softly. “You really did hit your head, didn’t you, Dear? Remember, Bradford closed a year ago. Budget cuts on the federal level. Insurance costs skyrocketed. Everyone goes to Erie or Buffalo now, depending on their party affiliations. It’s okay – let me give you something to help you sleep. It’s just a little, green pill.”

No.

It is not okay.

*******************************

I know, I know. It can’t happen here. The thing is, we said that about a whole host of things that did, indeed, happen. Here’s a great article on how the Trump Administration is corrupting government. And here’s a Trump timeline of shame, in case you need one.

We have less than 4 months to neutralize the batshit crazy and inject some sanity into this country’s leadership. If we allow what is happening to continue unchecked, my fear is that my science fiction will become less the musings of a writer who drank too much caffeine and allowed some of her darkest thoughts to make it onto the page and more of a prediction and a premonition.

No, it’s not reality. Let’s keep it that way.

Chapter Two: Nefarious Beginnings

The Mad King had come into power in quite a farcical manner.

He was not royalty; not a royal subject, nor relation. He was not of a lineage to rule over the land. The only claim to heir that he could make was to be that of Dr. Crookenspiel’s Traveling Medicine Show; his father before him had amassed a fortune in promising poor “marks” miraculous cures for what ailed them. This financed what he truly desired to be: a land baron. After making his money off the backs of these people, he began to build “affordable cottages” on land he bought for a song. He would rent these cottages to those unwitting victims of his fake elixirs, promising them in his smooth, conversational way, “warm, cozy nights” and a small tract of land with each for them to plant a “fruitful” garden in. What he did not tell them was that he had used the cheapest materials imaginable to build these cottages, and that they were drafty, the roofs leaked, and vermin could easily invade. The soil for the gardens was made up of clay and rock, and little could grow. He charged them extra for passage across his land to the stream that flowed nearby, so that fresh water had to be collected in rain barrels – which he also collected an extra charge for, since he alone provided the barrels.

Every year, the rent seemed to rise, but when you’re poor, with no claim to your own land, something is better than nothing, even if your children have runny noses and chilblains and your front is warmed by the fire even as your backside has goosebumps from the draft.

When Fred Crookenspiel had children of his own, he instilled in them a sense of overblown entitlement, even though he himself had grown up in a dirt floor shack, the son of immigrants who had fled religious persecution in their own land. He whitewashed over the petty details, and his children grew up spoiled, and loud, and filled with bullish tendencies. His second oldest son – The Mad King – was the worst of the lot. In those days, narcissistic personality disorder only existed in examples, and The Mad King was afflicted with this in spades.

While his brothers and one sister were, in fact, awful humans, they never rose to the level of despicable rogue that he did. He was a bully from day one who cared not for school, or hard work, or anyone but himself. He was only kind when he could be rewarded, or when he could wrestle the reward away. He cried the loudest, shouted the most profane blasphemies, and could not tell the truth about anything to save his life. It was often ruefully said, amongst his peers, “If Aul’ Fred’s kid says the sky is blue, I’ll go have a look for m’self.”

He did, however, understand his father’s business model, and swore to build a bigger, and better empire. He declared himself, and his family, to be tycoons of the highest repute, and could often be found in the most popular taverns and homes, holding court, so to speak. He would travel to other kingdoms under the guise of “making deals” but often left before his debts could be paid. “Holding court” with the wealthy wasn’t the kind of court he felt he aspired to, and his criticisms were often directed at the current king or about rulers in other lands. He had an opinion about everything, whether asked for it or not.

Throughout the years, he gambled heavily and bought into risky business ventures. He often lost the riches he invested, because despite understanding his father’s ways, he himself was not a very good businessman at all. His need for bigger and better consumed him, and and although he would praise his father for his “modest” successes, in private he raged with all the greediness of his 6 year-old self. He wanted all the cookies, Mummy – not just one or two.

When he began to muse, “I should be king,” people laughed into their pints. Sure, he seemed to be rich, if all that gold decor he surrounded himself with

and all those furs his wives and daughters wore was any indication; but surely he wasn’t smart enough to become king?


“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things… I know what I’m doing and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are. But I speak to a lot of people. My primary consultant is myself, and I have, you know, I have a good instinct for this stuff,” he would assure those who doubted his ability to become ruler of the kingdom. “Plus, I’m like really smart.”

Over the years, the kingdom went through many transformations: there was a king who led the country into war and quadrupled the country’s debt. A great many soldiers lost their lives, throwing families into chaos and poverty. The people began to complain amongst themselves, wanting change. They were tired of being poor, and being oppressed because they were poor, or had sought freedom from oppression in other countries, only to be dragged down by the crushing weight of racism and prejudice that prevailed throughout the warmonger king’s rule. “We need HOPE,” they cried. And so the country was thrown into a revolution, and for 8 years, a benevolent king had ruled.

However, it was hard for the benevolent king, because while his supporters were many, his enemies had money, and power. The rich in the land saw him as a threat, because he was asking them to pay their fair share and to help their fellow man. One of his enemies was Aul’ Fred’s son, who raged that this usurper must be stopped. “Why, he isn’t even one of us,” he would claim, to anyone listening. “He was born in Africa!” At this point, Fred’s son was knee-deep in murky, financial waters, having needed to travel to mysterious, far-away lands to beg and barter in order to save face. As has been stressed before, he was not very smart, and didn’t care that, in asking oligarchs in far-away lands to bankroll his lifestyle, he was actually giving them the power to control his own country. As long as he looked good, and could still claim to be the biggest and the best mostest, they could do whatever they wanted.

Which was music to their ears.

Covfefe: A Fairytale

The Mad King awoke in a fury one morning.

His realm was in chaos ever since the villagers had discovered that, instead of using the goods he regularly required them to donate – the chickens and livestock, part of their harvests, assorted leather and iron goods crafted by artisans, and the fine, strong broadcloth the women weaved over the winter months with the wool he allowed them to retain – he was using it for himself, the Queen, his five homely, gluttonous children,

and his assorted mistresses in court. He did not support his mistresses, but instead, paid them handsomely for their silence.

Instead of making good trades with other kingdoms, he would promise them payment in return for the things he desired from them, be it support on the battlefield, goods, information about his enemies, and safe passage through their lands in search of the elusive covfefe bush. He would make these “deals” but then renege on most of them.

Now, the hungry villagers were realizing that while their children starved and their faithful menfolk went off to do battle for a King who cared not about the danger he was putting them in, the Mad King and his lazy family were becoming richer and fatter by the day.

How had the villagers discovered his duplicitousness? He raged within the castle walls, his fury unhinged, his demands to know “who blew the whistle” met with silence. His advisers sought to calm him, placing great platters of hamberders in front of him, and sweet drinks, and desserts, and whispering in his ear;

“Your very stable genius is unmatched, Sire.”

“You have the biggest brain, my liege.”

“You possess the best words, your Majesty.”

This would calm him for a moment, but then he would spy someone in court looking slyly his way and then whispering something furtively to another subject, and he would erupt with anger, spittle spraying from his lips as he decried, “YOU SPREAD FAKE NEWS! YOU ARE HUMAN SCUM!”

At least 5 times a day, official proclamations would be dispatched to be announced by the town crier in the village square and missives would be sent by messengers on horses to the more remote areas of his realm. Sometimes, there were more, but his advisers would group these proclamations together so that the messengers wouldn’t have to make a dozen or more trips. As a result, one proclamation often contradicted the one right before it. It was not uncommon for the villagers to be told “I solemnly swear, as your king, that I will not send our soldiers to war” and then, in the next official announcement, hear that “We may need to go to war in order to stop the war.” At times, he was cryptic, proclaiming only “Wait for my words!” with ellipses…only the villagers did not know what ellipses were. Despite his claims of “the best education gold and silver could buy”, neither did he.

This morning, he instructed his Royal dresser to powder his face with extra color, so as to convey strength, health, and vigor, and donned his best, most golden wig, crafted by the virgin hair of a 13 year-old lass – this was the type he liked best. He was draped in voluminous robes to attempt to disguise his ever-widening backside and his rotund stomach, his sash hanging most unfashionably below his portly knees. Surveying himself in his looking glass, he murmured, “Who is the smartest guy? Who has said a lot of things? Me. I am the most bigly, huge leader!” Satisfied with his morning pep talk, he convened his most salacious, bottom-dwelling, foxy advisors to his drawing room.

“Tell me the news!” he demanded.

“We have sent spies to the other, far-off lands, Sire. They are to collect the information about those who wish to see you fail. We await their return,” said one.

“The witch hunt will not see you falter, my illustrious King! It is all false information, spread by those who are jealous of your great, powerful brain. They are unable to handle your genius!” gushed another.

“Perhaps,” said the quietest one, “it is time for a distraction from this terrible travesty, this attempt to destroy all of the wondrous things you have accomplished. Why, haven’t you built a strong wall around our kingdom to keep the dirty, maggot-encrusted beggars out? Have you not made the rich richer and taught the poor the most valuable lesson: to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and to never expect a handout? All wise, most useful points of knowledge, Sire! My fear, however, is that the evil, crafty opposition will take advantage of the weak and sow more lies about you.”

The Mad King leaned forward, his eyes shining like the scales of a fish in the sun. “What do you suggest?” he asked his adviser. The adviser’s bald pate reflected the torch light as he looked up from his templed fingers.

“Sire, as you well know, there are bandits outside the kingdom walls who take part in this great witch hunt, as well as having their own delusions of grandeur about toppling your monarchy and taking your riches for themselves. I have knowledge that one of the most ardent thieves – one who has set fire to cottages, stolen artifacts from the churches to boil down into gold bars, and who has attacked our forces while on the road – may be holed up in a cave to the east. I think we should send our best knights to kill him, and then display his head in the town square. The word will spread throughout the kingdom that you have toppled the enemy, making them safer, and they will be so filled with gratitude that they will forget this inconvenient, distasteful business about your family growing wealthier due to their donation of wares to the cause of the monarchy. Why, Sire, they will be happy to give you everything they own!”

The Mad King’s brow furrowed as he contemplated this idea. Finally, he spoke.

“Will I receive the credit? You know, I never do, but that’s okay. As long as the kingdom knows that I was the mastermind, I guess I can live with that.” he mused.

The ferret-faced adviser bowed to the Mad King. “Of course, Your Majesty. You will receive all of the credit. The villagers are idiots, if I may be so bold. None of them possesses your magnificent intellectual gifts! They believe anything we tell them.”

The Mad King mugged for his advisers, making a face and pantomiming, ‘I’m a dumb villager! I’m so stupid!”

His advisers laughed loudly and politely. Then, he held his hand up for silence and spoke.
“I’m not changing. I went to the best schools, I’m, like, a very smart person. I’m going to represent our kingdom with dignity and very well. I don’t want to change my personality – it got me here,” he addressed them. “Have my knights get the fella. He’ll die like a dog, crying and whimpering. Have them whisper in his ear, ‘This is from the King’ before they cut off his head.”

Dismissing his advisers, the Mad King suddenly felt more ravenously hungry than he had in weeks. “Didn’t we receive more chickens from the villagers for our deal in Nipple and Nambia? Prepare me some straight away. I could eat a bucket of the stuff.”

Winning the lottery

I have always maintained that, if I ever won the lottery, I would first sign the ticket and secret it in a safety deposit box, lawyer up, then collect my winnings in anonymity, swearing the state to secrecy.

I would commence to disperse with the amounts that I would have earmarked for family and friends, cut the checks and execute the trusts, and deliver them to each recipient via special concierge service, with a brief explanation and a “This is my gift to you” sort of statement. The post-script would simply say, “Have a wonderful life; I’ll be in touch.” Then I’ll get a new phone number.

“In touch” might mean next week, or it could mean 2024.

Then, I would collect the husband, The Male Sibling Unit, the Army of Meowness, and we would escape to our dream haven at a yet-to-be-determined location.

This could be Virginia Beach or the Norfolk area – despite the husband’s quiet ruminations about “courting hurricanes”, to which I replied, ‘You mean playing chicken? I’m willing to put my mobility to the test.” First, I’d need to get some more shots in my C-spine, but I’m game, and we’ll be able to afford it.

It could be Colorado, close to the beloved Rockies, because my soul truly felt like it might soar out of my body the first time I glimpsed a view of those white-capped mountains majesty. This was despite the husband’s dubious look when I assured him we would actually incur less winter than we do here, according to my daughter, who is anxiously awaiting my permanent migration to her out west.

“Less winter in the Rockies?” he questioned mildly, certainly mindful of the things he has seen on tv and in movies where people get stranded in cars on blocked mountain passes and have to resort to eating their shoe inserts and snow to stay alive, and bears chasing them when they need to pee; besides, a blizzard could render you snowed-in at any time. Oh, and the possibility that you might have to stay at a hotel where blood flows like a river down the hall, the bartender is a ghost, two twin girls in matching dresses keep appearing to stare at you, and you find yourself barricaded inside a bathroom while your mad-as-all-fuck spouse takes a hatchet to the door. You know – fun times.

By the way, I’ve actually been to the grounds of that hotel – the inspiration for The Overlook Hotel in The Shining was The Stanley in Estes Park, Colorado. My kids knew that they might need to make me wear a Depends when they took me to see it last year, but it is a Holy Grail destination for a Stephen King fanatic. I took lots of cool photos, but this is my favorite:

I happen to think my photo puts this stock photo to shame, except for the stunning mountains captured:

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be holed up in such a beautiful place during a Snowpocalypse? The ghosts are just an added bonus.

One thing is certain; we won’t be moving into my personal dream home, because it is in Alaska. At the foot of a glacier. If you’re curious about that home, you can see it here. “I’ll come visit,” the husband stated firmly, “but I am not moving to Alaska.” The fact that I did not reply, “Okay, great! I’ll see you in the Spring!” should give you an idea about how much I love him and where my priorities are, because I felt that house in my soul. I’ll just keep trying to recreate it, and build the damn thing if I have to.

You might be scratching your head, wondering where all this lottery talk is coming from. After all of this explanation about how I prefer anonymity and then to bug-out once my loved, cherished ones are looked after, I find myself unable to keep a secret.

Yesterday, I impulse-bought two Pennsylvania Lottery Instant games from one of those lottery ATMs.

I never do this. This was absolutely the first time. I don’t even buy Powerball tickets; I leave that task to the husband to do. I’m not a gambler in any way, having entered a casino exactly three times in my life:

Once, to indulge the husband’s love of gambling on his birthday, where he spent $100 and miraculously departed with something like $375; we were clueless about one game he was playing so we were just giggling and saying, ‘Ahhh, what the fuck,” and pushing buttons randomly until he had a premonition that he should cash out and he was right.

The second time was to take my newly-pregnant with her second child daughter to the buffet for her birthday, because that was where she wanted to go. She spent the dinner in a foul mood because she was having morning sickness, but I crushed it at the chocolate fountain.

The last time, the same daughter and I accompanied my youngest daughter to a bridal convention, where we oohed and ahhed at dresses, place settings, and tried samples of canapes and other reception fare. We left with business cards, pamphlets, and unsettling trepidation about just how expensive dream weddings could be (or maybe that was just the crab puffs). Her wedding was breathtaking and perfect without all those fancy-shmancy ideas and wedding planners.

It could be argued that I will do anything but gamble at a casino, although critics of buffets at casinos would argue that you are, indeed, gambling with your digestive health if you choose to partake of that sort of gastronomical wheel of fortune.

For me to part with $2 at a Lottery ATM is such a rare occurence, you have a better chance at seeing a Yeti. And yet, I did.

To my shock and utter, euphoric delight, once I figure out how to actually play the tickets I’d chosen (one Halloween-themed and the other, well duhhhhhhh, Grumpy Cat-themed) I discovered that I was a winner! My first time gambling, and I had won! What a story for the grandkids to tell their grandkids, right?!? But yes, it’s true: I won!

I would ask that you please respect my privacy, and that of my family’s, while we digest this spectacular change in fortune and learn to cope with this tremendous wave of good luck. Please, no requests for loans; I know who all my cousins are now due to my Ancestry DNA test, so don’t come at me with that angle, either.

Excuse me now, as I try to figure out how to contact David Bromstad, of My Lottery Dream Home. I really hope he can find me a dream home in either Virginia or Colorado with my winnings. I’m going to thrill him when I tell him my budget:

Yes, the entire $5.

The shit has hit the elliptical.

I know that lately, I’ve been very serious here. I mean, it’s hard to ignore the fact that my country is a dumpster fire, and that so many systems in place seem to be failing us: healthcare, justice, government, education – the whole gamut. It’s dangerous to get groceries, and not because when you see the total, your blood pressure skyrockets into stroke territory, or you wonder if maybe you might need to resort to a life of crime just to be able to eat. Situational awareness means identifying every, single angry, young, white male you see in public and wondering if he just published his manifesto calling for the white race to rise up to defeat the brown man or published a kill list of every girl who refused to fuck him, and is now grabbing a frozen burrito for sustenance before he straps on and mows down a bunch of innocent people doing the same thing you are: just living their lives.

There! In my roundabout, socially-conscious way of reminding you that I do not think any of this is okay and asking why have we not taken to the streets, I got to it. Life. That’s the subject here. And I’m going to attempt to do it in a light-hearted way. Because shit has been on the heavy side.

Literally, shit has been on the heavy side. On Monday morning, I came down with what can only be characterized as the END OF DAYS FOR MY COLON. I had risen at butt-crack of dawn o’clock to feed my starving cats, who routinely choose the largest of them to sit on my chest and just stare at my face while the littlest nuzzles my closed eyes and meows plaintively. All was well then, and I settled back down for a couple of additional hours of rest.

Something wicked this way comes.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re dreaming about something, and throughout the dream, you realize that your stomach is very, very upset. We all know that horrible feeling that comes before an explosive outburst either at the North entry/exit or at the Southern exit (or entry, if that’s your jam, although it needs to be established right here that mine is exclusively Exit Only and yes OF COURSE, I am experienced in the ways of butthole pleasures, and no, I don’t find them horrific; just too much work and I don’t think pleasure should ever feel like work) or that perfect storm: both. You’re trying to sleep but you know that as soon as you open your eyes, it will be a race to the bathroom/kitchen sink/garbage can; the distance versus need will be quickly deduced by your sleep-muddied, pain-filled, cramping legs and you will lurch to that destination, praying that you won’t be surprised by both exits as you grip the sink or clutch the toilet bowl and your guts evacuate the premises. Sometimes you know the whole building is going to be evacuated and you have time to grab some kind of catch-all to hold on your lap once you reach the commode: an empty bowl, your purse, a potted plant, or maybe you’re one of those perfect, always fucking prepared people who have a decorative puke bucket sitting beside their toilet that matches the shower curtain beautifully. By the way? Fuck you, you Pinterest-loving cow. You make the rest of us look like Neanderthals and we’re just tired of it.

A cow found on Pinterest; not to be mistaken for a Pinterest-loving cow.

This was me, Monday morning. In my particular evacuation situation, the fire was most decidely sending the evacuation to the South exit, though I began to wish for a Northern one as the stomach cramps continued, and continued, and continued. Many desperate words of bargaining were uttered that day; I lacked the strength to actually shove my fingers down my throat. Throughout the day, I lay, prone, on the couch, hoping for a reprieve and trying desperately to consume a Powerade. The Male Sibling Unit had walked down to the store for me and purchased two of the sports drinks, then quickly deposited them in the fridge before getting the hell out of Dodge. He is not good in a crisis and I wanted to minimize his exposure. The only thing worse than having the stomach flu is if The Male Sibling Unit gets the stomach flu. He will stand in the doorway of his room and whimper and whoop: “Uh, uh, uh!” Then he will go into the bathroom and stand over the toilet, crying, “No, no, no. I donwantto.” And then barf all over the toilet and floor. Do not ask me to describe the horrors of a double-exit situation. Hazmat must be called, and then there are months of counseling.

The husband went to the store and got me some chicken ramen and ginger ale when he got up for work, per my request. I drank some broth and took two sips of the ginger ale, thinking “Maybe yes?”

“Definitely no,” My stomach replied. I tried sleeping that night, but my stomach wasn’t having it. I began to wonder if this was an ulcer starting, because my consumption of pain meds has been high lately, and I have resorted to Nsaids and aspirin, which are big no-nos due to my peptic ulcer disease. What can I say? When you hurt, you hurt. I’d done it sparingly, but maybe I’d fucked up. I texted the husband, who was working, and asked him to bring me home some Prevacid. When he arrived home Tuesday morning, I was a mess. He said, “If you need to go to the ER” and I ripped his lips off and threw them into the corner as I clawed desperately at the pill box. He resisted kissing my forehead (no lips) and retreated to sleep. I took two pills and fell into a merciful 3 hours of unconsciousness. When I awoke, it was a little calmer down South, and so I began to try and drink the Powerade I had begun consuming the day before but still had not yet gotten to the halfway mark. The trips to the bathroom continued, and with every mouthful of liquid, I would be wracked with new cramps. My entire gut was being assaulted by one of those old-fashioned wringer washers.

I cried. I contorted. I rocked. I bargained with my large intestine and offered it gifts. Then, I passed out. About 90 minutes later, I awoke mid-spasm, convinced that I had stopped breathing. My heart was beating so hard at this point that it felt like I had ran a 5k. The only problem with that? There was no sweat. None. I’ve worked in healthcare; I know the signs of dehydration. I had them in spades. For one, lucid moment, I thought, “Bitch? You’re in serious trouble.” Then the delusions took over and I thought I could call 911 and then somehow meet them at the door, which was locked. That way I wouldn’t bother anyone in my family, although the ambulance might wake up the neighbors, but fuck them, anyway. Then, I thought, maybe I could ride it out until the husband arrived home at about 8 :30am? That was only about 8 hours. My delusional brain, who for once was acting in my best interest, brought forth the idea that people who get too dehydrated go into cardiac arrest.

This brings me to another relevant subject: cardiac health. You know what one of the biggest symptoms of heart attack in women is? It’s not the clutching of the chest and staggering around dramatically, calling out “Olivia! I’m coming, Olivia!”

It’s flu-like symptoms.

Yeah, it did cross my mind throughout the two days of hell. I have the family history; by my age, my mother was well on her way to a congestive heart failure diagnosis, which was official before she was 60. She was already a Type 2 diabetic. I have none of these things, but menopause has inflicted upon me the gift that keeps on giving (pounds, specifically): a metabolism at a near-standstill. Menopause can go stand over there with Perfect Pinterest cow and the neighbors, because fuck you, Menopause. In short, I need to get off my fluffy ass and defluff, and now. That perfectly good, gym-quality elliptical I found, discarded, at the side of the road by my son’s apartment in early May and dragged uphill and have yet to actually use judges me every day. And I say fuck you, elliptical, as I think about how clever I was to make little deep-fried cheesecakes ahead of time and stock them into the freezer. I’m gonna have to eat those words and not the cheesecake.

So anyway, for those two days, that thought – maybe I’m having a cardiac event – played on repeat in the back of my mind. In my usual, procrastinating way (a quality I save only for myself and not others, because I still operate under the misguided belief that somehow the health of everyone else – even a Facebook friend I may have never even met – is more important than my own) I pushed down that fear. Until it began to use a hammer to knock down the door that I had closed it behind. I had another moment of clarity: “Get a hold of husband” and I was delusional enough to forget exactly how. I hurriedly sent off a text to him, knowing he might not get it for some time, and cried a little, and then remembered the refrigerator magnet. On it was a contact number for him in case of emergency. I staggered out to get it and then back to lay on the bed, wondering which extension was better, because there were two. It is humorous me now to recall this with perfect clarity. Thanks, brain, for showing me just how ridiculous I am. Oh, and fuck you, too. Finally, I chose the first, dialed, squeaked his name to the person who answered the phone, and waited. When he got on, all I could say was, “I gotta go,” and whimpered as he assured me he’d just gotten my text and he was on his way. I thought to myself, “Well, no turning back now. If it’s a heart attack, you’re about to own it.”

Thank the merciful, suffering Christ, it wasn’t. I knew that when they took my blood pressure and hooked me up to the pulse-ox. I could calm down a bit more then, despite the fact that two midgets were at that moment using my intestine as a jump rope while a third jumped on my stomach. In football cleats.When the nurse put in an IV and started the first of three bags of fluid, and then administered anti-nausea medication intravenously before she administered my first-ever dose of dilaudid, or “Hospital Heroin” because that shit is EXACTLY like you see heroin addicts on TV after they shoot up; I felt almost serene. While these machinations were happening, I closed my eyes and listened to the music coming over the speaker in the hallway; the staff had on some Sirius XM channel that played all early 2000s rock and pop. It was both nostalgic and horrible to be laying there, held hostage by the sounds of Smash Mouth, Nickelback, Semisonic, and Sugar Ray. Before she took me to sedated heaven, “Learn To Fly” by The Foo Fighters came on, and I tried not to cry, because all I could think about was that I love them so much and it was so wonderful to hear them and know that I wasn’t going to code and never hear them again. Because that? Would be heartbreaking. I made a vow to myself then that growing older wasn’t going to kill me until I was good and ready.

Dave Grohl, I love you.

It’s been a slow climb out of gastroenteritis hell; Zofran has been my friend, along with little anti-diarrhea pills and fluids, fluids, alllllll the fluids. It has never taken me a week to recover; I blame this on Donald Trump because why the fuck not? He’s responsible for the current shitshow, so why not blame him for my shitshow?

I could have gone on a rant about people who don’t wash their fucking hands but that’s been done, hasn’t it?

Instead, I’m eyeing up that elliptical, forking my fingers from my eyes to it, silently saying, “You and me, fucker,” and checking the prices of blenders because one can’t make green smoothies without one. The next time I shit my brains out of my colon, it will be because there was too much spinach in the mixture and my flax seed measurement was off.

You and me, bitch.

Because fuck you, heart disease.

Vampires I have known, or NEW NEIGHBOR ALERT

I have been chronicling my observances of my newish neighbors on social media lately, and it’s become something of a sensation.

In covertly watching them, I have entertained the thought that they may be vampires, and listed my reasoning thusly. Being supernaturally-inclined myself, one has a feel for such things, you know?

Our house has rentals on either side of it, and we get to see many different types of people. The newish neighbors are living in the basement apartment to the left of us. It is a tiny, one bedroom place with maybe three windows. Since it is a basement apartment, very little sunlight penetrates, giving it a tomb-like feel.

It is a perfect abode for a vampire.

I know very little about this couple, who moved in stealthily and with very little in the way of possessions save a few pieces of furniture and some trash bags of stuff. (No coffins were brought in, but since I am not awake all night, it is possible that they could have at some point.)

So, I have set this up in journal-like form, although it is not nearly as detailed as Jonathan Harker’s account was when writing to his dear Wilhelmina while he was held captive by Count Dracula.

Perhaps some of my readers have had interactions with the undead. If so, I welcome your input, and I hope you enjoy.

**********

So, we have new neighbors in the little apartment next door, underneath the main house. They’re an older couple – I think. You know how sometimes, you can’t tell if a person is maybe 30, or 40, or 50, or 60+….because that’s how old they look? Hard life, bad genes, who knows? Anyway, they sit outside on the stairs in the mornings, coughing and smoking. (Might be why they have an ambiguous age issue 🤔)

They are at least old enough to have grown children because one of them drives them everywhere and she appears to have dentures. This does not help me to figure out how old they are.

A short while ago, she brought them back from shopping, I assume, and there was a dude who was helping them with their bags. He, too, could be 30-40-50. I’m beginning to wonder if we have nosferatu inhabiting this apartment and they require the blood of the innocents to regenerate.

This guy helping them was carrying things up and down the stairs to the apartment and at one point, he dropped a bag and tried to catch it as it fell. He was unsuccessful, so before it hit the ground, he kicked it in frustration. It landed close to the porch. I hope it was not fragile. He continued to bring bags from the car, occasionally kicking this bag but never retrieving it. Finally, some other woman exited the car, she with a Karen-who-wants-to-speak-with-the-manager haircut, and picked up the bruised and battered bag. She placed it on the porch. They departed.

There, it sits, on the porch. I feel almost sorry for it. I also realize that I am nuts.

**********

Sitting in my garden with coffee and a piece of apple danish, watching as my solar dark fairy world comes to life. The bag I felt so sorry for is no longer on the neighbor’s porch.

I hope someone gave it a good home.

😉

**********

The toothless daughter of the Nosferatu couple next door is back, bringing with her two shady dudes who won’t make eye contact with me. Now I know they are the undead because they know that if you look a witch right in the eye, she will decipher your true intentions and then work a spell to bind you. 😏

No bags of unknown contents were harmed today, but some lawn chairs that my mother had back in the 70s were retrieved from the nosferatu lair and carted away in their Chevy Suburban with six different body colors. A Suburban IS large enough to hold at least one coffin. 🤔

I’m onto these undead. 😉

***********

The Nosferatu actively engaged with the sun a short while ago, sitting on the stoop of the porch while they smoked. I guess they shouldn’t have given those vintage lawn chairs to the toothless female spawn and her undead minions. They seemed to tolerate it well, but it IS overcast. Perhaps this is indicative of their age, which I could surmise as being ancient: thus, they can tolerate some rays.

I was treated to the male Nosferatu coughing wetly for about 3 minutes before he spit something out. Probably a coagulated blood clot from his last feeding, although I didn’t dare to look. I didn’t have my protective eye coverings on so that I could mask my witch eyes, which have been known to turn a nosferatu into dust. Not mine, of course, but in ancient times, allegedly.

Suddenly, the nosferatu spawn from yesterday – Karen and her I-want-to-speak-to-your-manager hair

and the bag-kicking scoundrel, accompanied by squealing grand-spawn (they kept shouting “Grandma! Grandma!” from the car so that’s how I knew they were grands) parked precariously in front of my car and they all tumbled out. I pretended to be asleep in my garden so they would not suspect that I was collecting intelligence on them.

The kids commenced to dance around and squawk while scoundrel stood, sullenly, grunting at the blood clot nosferatu and the two females stood, each talking on their phones. Then, the kids went out back after the youngest was told, “Quit eatin’ the grass! Some dog’s probably pissed there.” Small male spawn said, plainly, “But I’m hungry.” Instead of getting him a snack, he was sent to play out back, where there are any number of rodents or snakes to gnaw on. See? Undead.

Soon enough, Karen and her hair headed to the car, making some comment about “not hitting this car when I park” and I was ALL EARS. She saw me sit up and I think she jumped a little, certainly because she was afraid that I would fork my fingers at her and hiss. Nervously, she stammered, “I’m always so careful parking because I don’t want to hit this car. Is it yours?” I nodded, and deadpanned, “I certainly do appreciate you not hitting it, because it’s new and I’d be very unhappy.” She understood my meaning (I have a wooden stake at the ready for you, Karen with the hair nosferatu, and NO MANAGER is on duty) and hurried to her car. The scoundrel followed, and the nosferatu elders had to yell to the kids to come up from hunting for their afternoon snack because “Your mom’s in the car and she’s leaving.” I don’t know what they would have done had they not been alerted; turned into bats at sundown and flown home?

Then, a dark SUV pulled up and the nosferatu elders got in. I imagine they’re going to hunt their next victims. I’ll be listening for the tell-tale return, which will be heralded by the hacking rattle as they have their last smoke of the night out on their steps.

Should have kept those ancient chairs.

**********

The Nosferatu may not be Nosferatu. It is possible that they might be some sort of “good” Nosferatu, but after this morning, I think they may just be ordinary people with nocturnal habits (see: me) who have a toothless daughter and goony minions, a son with anger issues who takes them out on innocent, unassuming bags of merchandise while his wife, Karen with the I-want-to speak-to-a-manager hair tries not to hit cars when she parks.

My sweet boy, Lucifer, slipped outside last night sometime and I was out early to call for him. I had little fear; when one of my dumbasses, who never go out, manage to find themselves out there, they are always drawn to the back yard, under the house, or under the stairs leading to the Nosferatu Lair. I began my search first on the far side of the house, and then the other, nearer the blood sucking cave of doom. I called to him, and he returned a frightened meow. Now, to ascertain where it came from.

“Loo-See-Furrrrr.….Satanas, where are you?” He cried again. Just then, the Nosferatu’s door opened and for a moment, I wondered if my little Satan Kitty had been lured within. The female Nosferatu appeared and asked, mildly, “Are you lookin’ for a kitty?” I answered, “Yeah, he got out last night, bright orange, with a collar.”

How I feel when one of my babies is in danger.

She nodded. “My husband said he was sleepin’ up on the steps, early this morning.”

Was she warning me, in an ominous Nosferatu code, that he might have become breakfast had the male Nosferatu been so inclined?

I continued to speak to her, explaining that he had meowed and wasn’t far, because he would only go around the house if he managed to escape. At this point, the male Nosferatu emerged, and I saw that he had gotten a haircut and looked very normal. Upon closer inspection, she, too, appeared normal.

Now, I am not jumping to conclusions here; I know that they could just be deflecting suspicion by appearing to be human, so as to throw me off their scent. (Actually, Nosferatu have no scent, being fastidiously clean. At least, that’s what Bram Stoker and Anne Rice say. Anne and I have exchanged messages and emails before, so I know she would concur.)

But then, the female exclaimed, “Oh, doesn’t he ever go out?” The male commented, “He was up on the stairs this morning, sleeping. When he saw me, he went down under the house.” Whereas the female has almost a “down-home” way of speaking, the male is more articulate and cultivated in the way he speaks. Neither raised their voices or seemed the least bit alarmed at having a witch nearly at their door. Dare I say they seemed helpful?

“No, he has never been out,” I replied to the female, and she began to fuss worriedly. “Oh my gosh, I hope he didn’t get near the road!” she exclaimed. I assured her I had heard him. As I called to him again, he began to answer me, sounding frantic. It was coming from the other side of the house but I couldn’t see him, so I thanked the Nosferatu and made my way over there.

Lucifer appeared on my path in front of me, crying fearfully, and then retreated underneath the back deck. I called to him again, softly, and he emerged, this time not crying out of fear, but meowing in an accusatory tone, as if to say, “You let me stay out ALL NIGHT and I was SCARED.” As I scooped up my big, 10 lbs of traumatized kitten, for he is not quite a year old, I answered his outrage. “Who told you going outside was a brilliant idea?”

Now, I am left with uncertainty. The Nosferatu could be diverting my suspicion, of course. Vampires don’t get to live hundreds of years by being fast and loose with their true identities. They did appear to not mind the morning sun at all, which could just mean that they are extremely ancient and that sun no longer affects them. Or, they could just be an older couple with some strange kids who have had bad luck and now live in a teeny, tiny little apartment with maybe three windows total, in the basement of a house. Also, note my horoscope this morning:

Hi Lori,

There’s an entertaining mystery for you to solve today. Luckily, you will get some helpful, exciting clues early on in the day. Someone who you don’t usually take very seriously will say something that strikes you as a deep truth. This confuses you a bit-it looks like you’ll have to revise your opinion of them! Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks, and this includes you! Give a person a second chance and they’ll give you another important clue. Something will suddenly start making sense.

The Nosferatu angle is STILL much more entertaining.

When your blog site posts a draft, you finish it.

Seriously! Either my cats commandeered an electronic device (they once changed the font size of my phone and rearranged my icons) or my blog host had a momentary brain fart. I awoke to find a draft published, and a poem I was very much not done with published. And get this…..it happened somehow before my last blog, but I swear it wasn’t there last week. I either need acute mental care or I time-traveled and forgot. Anyway, here’s my ode to weirdness, because I certainly own that today.

I am in such a weird place right now. It’s a complex mix of emotions caused by shifts in my life. It’s in the way this world has become so bizarre that it resembles a dystopian, futuredoom novel. It’s in the subtle changes that age brings about to both physical and mental awareness. It’s just in everything. Weirdness abounds, and I am no stranger to weird, having had that label all my life. I’ve embraced it, inasmuch as I think we all have weird within us. Some consider it a compliment; others seek to cloak their weirdness in “normal”. Sooner or later, though, that cloak falls off or there’s a gust of wind and we glimpse their weird, even if only for a moment. Weird is unique; it is to become a part of a community where there is acceptance; it is human at its very core.

Let’s not gloss over the fact that weird – or the perception if such – is a negatively polarizing idea, too. That weirdness I embrace could be seen as offensive or unacceptable to someone else, and they may seek to change my mind or, more alarmingly, silence my weirdness. Weird is a broad term, too; it can pertain to self, lifestyle, religion, community, mindset; it adapts to whomever is regarding it. Being weird can mean anything. And to some, that’s just unacceptable.

I suppose that I have embraced weird. But weird still feels very isolating. I guess weird is kind of an island.

But, this is weird, and I like it:

And this:

My garden is weird:

Am I weird for dissolving into a puddle at the sight of cat teefs?

He’s weird, but he is also a silver medalist at the State Special Olympics, so his kind of weird is very acceptable:

Weird?

I dunno. Anyway, I guess it’s better to be weird than to be Republican, so I’ve got that going for me.

You were expecting champagne and hors d’oeuvres?

Well, shit. Here it is, the end of another year. If you came here looking to read delightful recaps of a life gone completely sideways, or me waxing poetic about making it through another year despite some pretty heavy blows and some awfully deep, dark holes I found myself in without a rope, well, I apologize: that’s not happening here. I’ll bet it is at other blogs, though, so if that’s the kind of schmaltz you’re craving, just do a quick Google search, putting in any combination of the words “2018 blog recap” or “I made it through 2018” or “2018 pity party” and it’ll take you right the fuck outta this space. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, but do me a favor and hit the Like button. It’s the least you can do for assuming that I’m like all the other blogs. I’m a loner, and a rebel.

If I seem a bit ambivalent, a tad, let’s say, combative, it’s probably because I am. I abhor playing by the rules set forth by whoever made the rules that we must feel nostalgic, and list all of the ways in which we were anally violated by 2018 without lube. After doing so, then of course we say, “Let’s drink to the end of 2018 and toast to 2019!” After all that reliving the shit sandwiches we ate throughout the year, the raw deals, the sad situations, and the tragic circumstances, who wouldn’t want to drink themselves unconscious? It never occurred to me, until now, that this is the real reason why people drink on New Year’s Eve. It’s not really to welcome the new year, but to help you forget the old one.

Of course, you’re reminded, every time you look at social media, that this a time for reflection, soul-searching, and to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Resolutions abound; New Year’s Day is the day to begin anew.

Except, it really is just another day in which the year has changed. The shitty things that happened to you in January, March, and June 2018 still happened. The bills you owed on December 31, 2018, were the same ones you owe on January 1, 2019. The weight you gained because you ate like shit over the holidays didn’t magically disappear. Your problems are still there, hanging on your back like whatever monkey is proportional to your problems; maybe you have a spider monkey, maybe you have a gorilla, and, most unfortunately, a few of you have one of those chimps that will eat a bitch’s face off.

And then, there’s this meme:

Thanks ever so much, Robert Downey Jr, for making this face so that people could make memes about being so over whatever it is that they’re over. Granted, it’s a very effective face, and it’s been used by just about everyone, for everything:

It is annoying, isn’t it? “Here’s Junior, in a cardboard box.” “Junior again, in a cardboard box with his teddy! Soooo adorable!”

Apparently, phlebotomists have their own brand of sarcasm.

Okay, so this is actually true.

Every year since this photo was discovered, my social media is flooded with this image by the same, jaded, glass-is-at-an-ambiguous-level people. The nihilists, the ones who’ve seen it all, the loners; the rebels, Dottie.

Then, there’s this slightly newer, snappier one:

Thanks for the warning.

I know, those who post this one are delighting in their level of blase, devil-may-care, flippant attitudes about the whole, messy New Year situation. It may actually be true! But unfortunately, it was only true the first few times I saw it; now, it is merely redundant.

Why can’t the New Year memes reflect the truth? You know, the things we think, but politely refrain from saying even though we pride ourselves in being the awkward, sarcastic, foul-mouth delights that everyone has come to know and love? I’ve come up with a few that I think have the potential to really catch on and blast me into the stratosphere of “Famous Meme Creators” because if this writing gig doesn’t ever take off, at least I’ll be posthumously known as “that crazy cat lady with the worst example of resting bitch face who made some pretty honest memes that said what we were thinking, but were too busy cultivating a reasonable degree of sarcastic wit to even dare to post because let’s face it, those memes were true AF but who is that savage?”

I think they’re brilliant and I encourage you to share. In fact, I dare you:

We all know at least one person like this. We refrain from wishing them “Happy New Year to you and Steve” because Steve might be Ron, or Bob, or Dan.

This person also posts multiple duckface (fuckface, if you’re MY autocorrect) selfies a week.

Okay, so I condensed this one from half a dozen, individual memes to one, because it’s possible that they all refer to one person.

My craptastic year is all reflected in this collection of writing. The craptastic year before that is, too. If you’re hankering for my musings about a life gone wrong, or upside down, or veered slightly off course, it’s all there. I don’t want or need to recall, with a rueful chuckle, the strange and unsettling things that happened in my life. I don’t need to reread the happy stuff, either. I lived it, and I wrote it down for you and for that guy in the back who’s been sitting there with popcorn, waiting for the movie to start while he picks the cat hair off his clothes. It’s all a part of what makes me who I am, that delightfully awkward, sarcastic foul-mouthed mess of a crazy cat lady who says what you’re thinking and who has a great future in writing memes.

Happy New Year, my friends, and please, be yourself in 2019. I happen to think you are pretty, fucking cool. (Except you, voyeur guy in the back. Go home and watch Netflix.)

Farschnistickelphyffer.

Last minute details fill my brain as I move about on this Friday before Christmas. It is also the Solstice, so I want to take the day to reflect and be grateful for the year and the blessings the universe has bestowed upon me. Quiet observation and reflection are needed, along with some finishing touches to some gifts I have been crafting. I also have the last wave of brown boxes scheduled to land on my doorstep, which is good timing, because most are for a certain 43-year-old who still believes in Santa.

 

Today, The Male Sibling Unit is off to his former place of employment to take part in their annual Christmas fete. Then, he will spend one last evening at his community center before the holiday. He was very concerned about the bus schedule because the party began at 11:30 am and he wouldn’t be actually getting on the bus until that time for his approximately ten-minute ride to the workshop.

“What will they do?” he asked me worriedly yesterday. We had been out, doing some shopping, and were lugging many heavy bags the short distance up the hill to the house. By short, I mean 2 small blocks, and I was slightly winded and overwhelmingly affected by the chaos in the stores and The Male Sibling Unit’s “butt talk”, as The Husband and I lovingly (exasperatedly) refer to anything that comes out of a person’s mouth that we deem a crock of shit. I stopped, set my bags on the ground, and eyed him.

“What will who do?” I asked, genuinely mystified.

“My friends!” he replied in an annoyed tone, as if I should have presumed this. “The workers! The bosses!” At this, I did “get it”, which both irritated and amused me, as most acts of narcissism on the part of The Male Sibling Unit do. Nevertheless, I persisted in acting clueless. It’s more fun.

“What do you mean, exactly?” I asked, waiting for it.

“The party starts at 11:30! I won’t be there yet. What will they do without me?”

Bingo!

“Do you think they should wait for you? It’s only ten minutes. What, are you the Grand Puba of Christmas?”

The Male Sibling Unit giggled and actually looked a bit sheepish. “No,” he answered, his voice rising as if it was actually a question. Satisfied that I had imparted a bit of selflessness into him and that this was a lesson that had penetrated his eternally me-centric psyche, I picked up my bags and we resumed the trek up the hill. I was just feeling the burn again, about three-quarters of the way up, when he shattered any self-satisfied assumptions I may have harbored.

In a quiet voice, more to himself than to anyone in general, he said, “I still don’t know what they’re gonna do ’til I get there.” I may have choke-exclaimed something unintelligible similar to one of The Old Man’s expletives in the classic The Christmas Story. Then, I huffed the rest of the way home, The Male Sibling Unit following me silently, until we were nearly home and he laughed at my death-rattle as we crossed the threshold of the porch. “Tired?” he asked mildly, a smile on his face.

I will say only this: The Old Man has nothing on my ability to craft new swear words.

Nadda fingah!