Of the Icebox

Words about stuff and sometimes things

The Legend of (Mac)Ribbons and (H)i(P)Hoppins: A PC/Mac Debate — September 4, 2019

The Legend of (Mac)Ribbons and (H)i(P)Hoppins: A PC/Mac Debate

About 6 years ago, in the early days of our relationship, my husband tried to convince me that Macs were superior to PCs. At that stage in life, I’d been using an old HP laptop, lets call her HiPHoppins, that worked about as well as a refurbished vending machine.

I was in desperate need of an upgrade but had no money. So, despite being a lifelong PC’er, when my husband offered to hook me up with PC’s much hotter cousin, I didn’t need much convincing. I laid HiPHoppins to rest and even gave my hot, new cousin a name, MacRibbons.

At that point in my life, Macs fell into the ‘too expensive for my broke ass’ category. I didn’t really need a Mac. It’s only advantages, as far as I was concerned, were its cool-kid looks, its price tag (free when you sleep with the guy who has a spare), and Scrivener. Prior to inheriting MacRibbons, I’d dreamt about the organizational marvels Scrivener could do for my writing. While there was a Windows version, I was told that the Windows version of Scrivener ‘sucked eggs’. (I will not reveal my source.)

Prior to inheriting MacRibbons, I didn’t think of myself as a computer pro, per say, but I knew my way around a PC. Every IT person I’d ever worked with had complimented my PC skills and not even in a sexual harassment kind of way. So I had that PC confidence going for me and I was sure it’d translate into Mac Prowess.

I wanted to love MacRibbons. I wanted to understand him the way I understood HiPHoppins but every time anything went wrong, I didn’t know how to perform the most basic CPR.

Where’s my ctrl+alt+delete? Where’s my task manager? Why can’t I change the default download location? Where’s my developer toolbar in Microsoft Office? Bloody effing hell!

Me, once monthly for the last 6 years.

I should note, my husband learned on a Mac. He’d been indoctrinated in the religion of Mac. He believed they were superior in all ways to Windows. He also knew a command to fix everything I ever broke, corrupted or otherwise ‘magically disappeared’ over the years. This is how he became my exclusive doctor to MacRibbons and this is how gender inequity crept into our otherwise pro-feminist household.

I know, Bey. I’m trying!

Even though I knew that he’d be asking me all sorts of silly PC questions if the tables were turned, it was a real blow to my ego to have to turn to Dr. Mac for IT assistance over and over again. In our Mac dominated house, I became the equivalent of my tech-illiterate grandmother. She used to call my Uncle every time the TiVo prompted her to update because she was worried the request to reboot would erase all her daytime soaps.

I mean, there was that one time when I thought something was very wrong with MacRibbons and Dr. Mac discovered I hadn’t installed any updates for a year and a half. But how was I supposed to know that Apple automatically gave away new versions of its OS? I thought it was just some random guitar app doing weird, independent, glitchy shit again. And I couldn’t uninstall it because I couldn’t remember my password. Oy vey. Now I really sound like my grandmother. (May she rest in TiVo peace.)

All of this is to say, I grew more bitter and angry at MacRibbons as the years progressed. MacRibbons took away my ability to delude myself into thinking that I was a computer-savvy tech goddess. My only consolation was Scrivener.

As far as consolation prizes go, Scrivener was awesome. I use/d it all the time. I’ve written and abandoned entire books on it. If my house was burning down and I could only grab the dog or MacRibbons, there would ensue a 10-second internal dialogue wherein I’d argue that my Scrivener babies don’t have legs and so need me more than the dog. I offer this confession so that you’ll know that even if I’m morally troubled, I’m still honest. And I can honestly say that I didn’t murder MacRibbons.

The Murder Of MacRibbons

So this is where I have to tell you MacRibbons died a dramatic and painful death over the weekend. While I confess that I struck the first blow, I’m not MacRibbons murderer. You remember, I loved Scrivener more than I hated MacRibbons.

No. It was not me. I swear it. The true MacMurderer was this villain: Panda Joe Funny-shorts (real name).

Maybe he heard my internal dialogue about house fires and got concerned. Maybe he was jealous because I spent more time looking at the screen than at his beautiful face. Or maybe, he hated MacRibbons as much as I did. We’ll never know, really, but we’ll keep hypothesizing for years to come.

Back to the murder. It started like this. I had to take a tinkle (it happens), so I placed MacRibbons on the ottoman as I always do but, in my urgency, I did not carefully check the placement of MacRibbons rump to ensure he couldn’t fall off the edge. I kind of tossed him, to be honest. He’d been with me for years. I’d become complacent, reckless even, but not a murderer.

As I exited the room, I heard a slide and crash of the screen against the tile floor. Panda Joe Funny-shorts, sitting 2 feet away, witnessed the entire spectacle. But even though Panda Joe was an eye-witness to this dramatic event that might have inspired his own hateful deed, I was the only one responsible for that initial blow.

I screamed, “No!” and other profanities so loud that Dr. Mac immediately ran to the scene of the crime where we both witnessed MacRibbons, slowly drowning in its own plasma.

At this moment, I had one thought on my mind and it wasn’t that my bladder was now at 120% capacity. It was that I needed to save my Scrivener babies from their untimely and eternal deaths.

Dr. Mac was stunned to discover I hadn’t been cross-saving my files on the Cloud as though I could remember my iCloud password. He also made an equally unhelpful comment about how I should’ve be more careful.

I didn’t have time for his nonsense. My babies were drowning. I scrambled around the house, hunting down a USB with enough space to save my files. I found one, thank the Mac gods, and returned to MacRibbons side, blindly diving beneath the spillage of MacRibbons perforated artery to locate Finder and raise my folders above the line of LCD devastation which grew a bar every 10 seconds.

I might have started verbalizing my prayers to the Mac gods at this point, begging that the files were properly transferring. I believe I did verbalize this because Dr. Mac started lecturing me about how there were no Mac gods. This, despite the fanatical Mac religion he’s a member of. But if that’s true, how do you explain this guys asexual reproduction?

Anyway, while I file transferred and tweeted Ashton Kutcher asking him if his transformation into Steve Jobs was his final contribution to Punk’d, Dr. Mac started searching for Mac repair stores in our area and getting quotes to replace MacRibbons screen. He’s practical, I’ll give him that.

It turns out that because Macs are the BMW’s of computers, the parts are way more expensive to replace than they would be if they were PCs. It was going to cost about USD$400 to replace the screen including service fees.

But while that knowledge hurt my wallet, it didn’t really matter to me because I had swum through the plasma of Mac screen death and I feared no evil capitalistic defeat. I had saved all my files. I placed MacRibbons on the coffee table in victory and turned him off to prevent the progress of visual devastation. This is when, quite unexpectedly, Panda Joe Funny-shorts murdered MacRibbons.

Having sensed my anxiety levels receding, Dr. Mac decided it was safe to return to the living room to offer consolation rather than his earlier attempts at advice. Smart men learn fast.

But it turned out his reappearance was too exciting for someone in our house. As soon as Dr. Mac sat down, Panda Joe Funny-shorts got excited. So excited to see his adopted father, in fact, that he quickly hopped off the sofa, wagging his tale with full vigor, and slung a glass of water across the coffee table. The water flew out like projectile vomit exploding all over MacRibbons.

So, you see, while I’d given MacRibbons the first knock, it was Panda Joe that delivered the death blow. Maybe he couldn’t stand to watch the poor fella’ suffer.

At that moment of shock, all I could think of was that my own bladder was now at 150% capacity. Panda Joe’s tornado tail was the final blow. There was no saving MacRibbons. There was no reason to even try. The dollar signs for repair were rolling ever higher. Rather than try to rescue MacRibbons, who was so obviously dead, I stood up and said “Wow, Panda Joe really hates Macs.”

I then ran to the bathroom to piss, leaving Dr. Mac to clean up the mess.

The Resurrection of HiPHoppins

When I returned, I saw Dr. Mac had snapped into action, flipping MacRibbons upside down as though in some sort of Mac Heimlich. He attempted to sop up the carnage dripping out of MacRibbons using a super absorbent cloth. But Panda Joe and I were certain, the motherboard had been compromised (or whatever you Apple-ites call hard drives) because when Panda Joe takes life into his hands, he doesn’t go half-tailed.

As far as I’m concerned, MacRibbons had a death wish and Panda Joe and I were determined to help him see it through. Dr. Mac was the only one committed to resurrection.

I googled new laptops on my Samsung phone as Dr. Mac sought out a dry and arid spot in the house, free from wives and dogs, to let MacRibbons fight the good fight in peace. But while MacRibbons fought for his life, I discovered that new, non-Mac laptops are dirt cheap compared to the old days.

So, I said, fuck this 6-year, failed domestic experiment. And my husband said, “What?! Don’t be rash, honey.” And I said, “I’m not talking about our marriage. I’m talking about the MacRibbons situation.” And because the defeat of MacRibbons was significantly less terrible than the defeat of our marriage, Dr. Mac encouraged me to spread my PC wings and take a trip to Best Buy, thus putting to rest Dr. Mac’s 6-year reign of IT-knowledge superiority and my fears of being a bad feminist.

It turns out, if someone was going to pick the best date to murder a computer, it’d be over Labor Day Weekend when stores offer significant sales. I’m not saying I whispered this fact into Panda Joe’s ears every night for the last 3 months. I would never encourage murder, no matter how much I support feminism. I’m just saying I got a very sweet deal and I have divided my household by introducing a new lady: Rosa HiPHopster.

The Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles — August 28, 2019

The Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles

As you should all know, I’m not a social media trend-setter. While I’ve worked in marketing for years and managed many corporate social media accounts and strategies, I’ve never really been interested or invested in any social media platform for my own personal purposes. I recently opened a Twitter account against my better judgment and even that feels like too much work (or too close to work, as the case might be).

What you might not know is that while I’m not a social media trend-setter, I am a social media trend-spotter. I see patterns and analyze social media data like no body’s business. I’ve done it professionally for years. And through my years of painstaking labor, I’ve birthed something for your enjoyment. (You’re welcome & I’m sorry for the birthing metaphor. At least I didn’t make you eat the placenta.)

Kardashian jokes aside, I’d like to present to you The Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles (hereafter, colloquially known as, TUTOS MPLC).

I was inspired to post this after watching a documentary on Hulu called Jawline. (Hulu=consolation prize for living in the US during the Trump era.) It’s about young people trying to become social media stars and it made me feel simultaneously old and worried for today’s youth despite being only 29 myself.

The thing that didn’t surprise me at all about Jawline was that the kids documented were popular on social media sites that I’d never heard of, and that these sites were being used as a measure of their success. Anyone heard of YouNow? Cause the young people in your life probably have. And you’ll probably have an account in 5 years. Why? It’s all in the unified theory. So without further ado, I present to you…

TUTOS MPLC

If you’re a kid/teen then TUTOS MPLC will be intuitive to you. You just don’t yet have the verbal reasoning skills to express it. Allow me to help.

But first, for those of you that are not verbal learners (how the heck did you end up on my blog?), a visual aide to help you along.

TUTOS MPLC visual aide.

TUTOS MPLC written theory.

TUTOS MPLC dictates that a social media platform is born when, first, the kids ‘discover’ it. Then companies/brands sign up for accounts trying to market to kids and prove their continued relevance. The only reason companies discover these sites before parents is because social media marketing teams are run almost exclusively by millennials and millennial marketers can sniff out a teen trend like they’re Edward Cullen in a biology lab. Please pause for Twilight tribute.

And, for a split second, kids and millennials and marketing vampires are all hanging out in a hip and edgy ‘cool kids’ club that no ones parents are monitoring. This was Instagram 8 years ago.

But then some parent started asking where you, the kid, have been spending all your time because you haven’t been posting on Facebook lately even though your phone is permanently glued to your palm. You send out an emergency alert to all your friends, warning them that the ‘rents are sniffing around and reminding everyone to shut their big, beautiful, invisaligned mouths but there’s always that one kid that snitches, usually a mama’s-boy named Chuck, and suddenly all the parents flock to the site to see what you and 200,000 of your vampiric friends have been up to.

Then one of the parents writes some investigative piece of ‘journalism’ about where the youth of today have been spending all of their time and it ends up in The Atlantic and a spin-off of that article is adapted for a story on 60 Minutes and a spin-off of that story becomes an integral plot element in a true crime documentary.

The next thing you know, Grandma and Grandpa are calling up your parents, asking if they’ve heard about this dangerous, new social media site or app or whatever that kids are into. Your grandparents are genuinely concerned because they heard that kids are being sexploited and pressured into all kinds of peer activities.

Your parents make some sarcastic joke about how paranoid your grandparents are because everyone has an account on this platform, even them, and for a split second, your parents feel cooler than their parents again. But then your Grandpa pulls a fast one on your mom and calls you up to ask you to help him and Grandma set up an account. And there you are, Chuck, fucking us all again.

At the exact same time that your Grandparents are opening an account, campaign managers from politicians offices across the country are watching reruns of 60 minutes and realizing there are millions of voters now frequenting this one website and there are almost no politicians currently using it because they’re all still on Twitter. It’s their opportunity to bring their message to the ‘youth’. But let’s be honest. All of the ‘youth’ vanished from that platform in search of the next parent-free zone shortly after Chuck snitched the first time. And so the cycle continues.

TUTOS MLPC Numerical Aide

If you’re more of a numbers person, you haven’t been left out. Please feast your eyes on the Quantified Unified Theory of Social Media Platform Life-Cycles:

And so I leave you with my unified theory that I expect will one day lead to a prestigious award and much notoriety.

Are you a hipster? Find out with this 10 question quiz. — August 21, 2019

Are you a hipster? Find out with this 10 question quiz.

I suppose you might suspect that this is an elaborate plot, utilizing my marketing knowledge that people are a sucker for a silly quizzes and labels, to get you to interact with my blog. And let’s face it, I might be doing that to collect your precious, personal data for my own nefarious purposes. But no matter how much data I collect from you during this quiz, you can rest assured that it’s not as much as Facebook is collecting.

Data Disclosure: To confirm, I’m collecting no (0) data from this quiz other than raw numbers from your answers. I have no interest in your data and have no buyers for it (sad but true). I can’t track the answers back to the responder and don’t want to. It was created purely for the sake of giving you 5 minutes of mindless, harmless internet fun. It was created using Google Forms. The form will ask to take you to a 3rd party website after completions to view your results. This 3rd party website is Google Forms.

The moment of truth. Your results indicate…

21-30 Points: You’re a Hipster

You’re a hipster through and through. What trend will you be supporting next year? Will you be chewing on whole honeycomb straight from the hive? Will you start a movement in support of mismatched socks? Will you decide that big box stores are more socially responsible than Amazon and become an unexpected advocate of Wal-Mart? Are you going to make crossword puzzles cool again? Pray tell, I’m looking to invest.

11-20 Points: You’re a Hippie

You’re a good old-fashioned hippie. Too bad they cancelled Woodstock this year. I know you resoled your Birkenstock’s in preparation. At least there’s always burning man to look forward to. You live in a state where Mary-Jane is legal for recreational use.

1-10 Points: You’re a Yuppie

You live by the rules of society but you live well. You enjoy life and luxury and fine food and if your grandparents were just starting out, they’d be living just like you. You dream of taking risks but rarely take them. You dream of making the world a better place but you’re not going to sacrifice your children or your straws or your pumpkin spiced lattes to get there.

0 Points: Grand(ma/pa)? Is that you?

Let’s face it. You’re probably over 60. You’ve never been cool. You’ve never wanted to be. You’re comfortable just as you are. You’re mild-moderately paranoid about becoming the victim of identity theft or a serial killer, you’re socially and politically conservative, and you don’t like to explore things that are outside of your comfort zone. You play one hell of an accordion and have a number of other talents under-valued by society.

On really wanting to be a psychic. And failing. — August 14, 2019

On really wanting to be a psychic. And failing.

When I was a younger youngster than I am now and psychics were a regular feature of daytime TV and commercials , I wanted to be a psychic. As a typical millennial, a belief that I could do whatever I put my mind to was fed to me daily at breakfast. So I ate my Froot Loops and put my mind to it. And so would begin my decade long journey towards repeated failure and disillusionment.

I didn’t go into this quest blind and dumb. No, friends. I knew I’d have to do more research than watch Sylvia Browne on Montel twice a week. I went to Barnes & Noble and Borders and browsed several books on the topic for several hours each. When one book suggested I try squinting and crossing my eyes until I saw auras forming around other people, I stood right in the middle of Barnes & Noble and did my darnedest to summon some auras. And, honest to G-d, it worked for a couple hours.

This convinced me that I might have the gift after all and would keep me on my wayward path for way too long. Eventually, one of the bookshop employees told me I needed to buy the book or get a library card because I was wearing out the spines and they promise people new books, not lovingly used books. I settled on a deck of tarot cards from Amazon and a library card which explains why America is where it’s at today–Borderless and B&N-less (that’s buns & nuts).

Anyway, after my aura experience, I was so convinced that I had the gift that I even talked to my PCP about it when he asked me what my goals were in life. I told him about my quest to psychic-dom and the auras I had summoned at B&N and he told me that seeing auras were a symptom of my migraines. My faith was shaken, friends, but not stirred.

So I told my PCP that I read a numerology book that had my moderately unusual name listed in it (what are the odds?) and it said that I was going to grow up to spend all my money on books and wine and that I wouldn’t settle in love until I met my soulmate and we were going to be passionate and loyal lovers.

He had nothing to say about this except that it sounded like a good life and he wished me luck but to remember that alcoholism runs in my family so I should take it easy on the wine. Small town PCP’s are the best. But I digress.  

When I failed to accurately predict anything in the lives of anyone I knew for the 1000th time, I was forced (via intervention by all my loved ones) to concede that I might not have the gift of foresight. I didn’t even have the 50% accuracy rate that would be expected by random chance. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t look backwards and summon up some dead people. I just had to change course.

So I spent the next several months trying really hard to see dead people. I even went to a metaphysical shop in Old Colorado City and the retail clerk suggested I wasn’t seeing them because my 3rd eye was blocked. I didn’t even know I had a 3rd eye which explains a lot. Anyway, after she opened it for me (like, bam!) and I told her I still wasn’t seeing them, she insinuated that I didn’t believe enough. But not to worry, she had a product that could clear away my doubt and transform me into a channel for the spirits. That’s when she presented to me a small vile of fairy dust hidden behind the counter that she had somehow come into possession of. She assured me it was by cruelty-free methods. No fairies lost their wings in the making of this dust.

She suggested I let myself be sprinkled in fairy dust to clear out the bad energy my doubt had created around me. ‘You don’t want to see bad spirits, honey,’ she said, ‘trust me.’ And I did trust her. Even though the fairy dust looked like purple glitter, I didn’t outwardly doubt her.

In my defense, let me just say that she was 19 and cool and I was 15-ish and wanted to be cool like her. Peer pressure is real. How do I know this? Because I let her sprinkle me with fairy dust and I walked around with purple glitter on my scalp for 4 days. Absolutely nothing in my life changed but if I were to go back, I’d let her do it again. That’s how I know peer pressure is real, unlike psychics or mediums or ghosts which I have yet to find proof of.

The moral of this story is that even though I tried my hardest for an amount of time that can only be categorized as abnormal, I never developed psychic or medium abilities.

That is, until this week.

This week I had a dream that I can only describe as prophetic. So, picture this. I’m in my dream, holding my phone, looking at the weather app and it says that here in Florida it’s going to be 113*F on one day and 115*F the next day. Naturally, when I woke up, the first thing I did was open my weather app to see if I was subconsciously replaying weather forecasts I’d previously looked up. But none of the highs even got close.

I have interpreted this to mean that I was dreaming of a future time in which temperatures in Florida will rise so high that they’ll reach 113* & 115* respectively in these parts that currently rarely exceed 93*. Given what I know about climate change, I think this is not too far off and I might have finally been visited by the spirits and bequeathed the gift of foresight that I’ve been asking Santa to grant me for over a decade now.

So, I consulted my deeply skeptical and staunchly logical and ever patient husband who just so happens to be a scientist (opposites attract, go figure) and guess what he said? He said if climate change models are right, this part of Florida is going to be under water in 30 years which means that even if it reaches 113* or 115* by then, no one’s going to be reporting about it on a weather app because there’s not going to be a city here. Then he told me I should probably stop eating ice cream before bed.

And so the dream dies again and, with it, my spirit animal is crushed.

Numbered lists for numbed out people — or — 9 Reasons Your Dentist Hates You More Than They Hate Themselves — July 25, 2019

Numbered lists for numbed out people — or — 9 Reasons Your Dentist Hates You More Than They Hate Themselves

Do you remember a time before the internet was over-saturated with numbered list articles (also known as list posts and listicles)?

Ever since HuffPo started feeding me daily doses of listicles such as, ’10 Legit Reasons to Stop Eating Nuts’ and ‘7 Ways to Get Healthy this Summer’ I’ve been unable to escape. We are collectively being driven by our curious clicks and Google’s a-curious algorithm towards a world in which no content exists without a numbered list attached.

I’m not the first to notice. If you pay to look behind the paywall of the New York Times, you might have even read an article justifying the existence of the listicle. Or if you’re like me and don’t believe that high-quality journalism deserves to be rewarded, you search for free opinions on the matter and have found this blog.

Maybe it’s easier to consume information in lists. Can we make this stop? Do we want to? I, for one, do but first I’ve gotta get busy on delivering the promise of this blog or my google ratings will drop from ‘invisible’ to ‘actively discouraged’.

I actually have a number of listicles that I’ve been wanting to write just to do my part and contribute to the blizzard-apocolypse of listicle doom (hereafter known as the blitzticle) that we’re all actively contributing to but I’ll just start with everyone’s favorite topic: dentists!

9 reasons your dentist hates you more than they hate themselves

  1. Floss.
    No matter how many times they’ve told you, no matter how many products they’ve invented to help with the situation, you still refuse to floss. They’ve tried everything: the floss pick, the water pick, the gosh-dang 360 Sonic Brush. You just refuse to do it.
  2. The fluoride wars of 2003.
    Remember that time you Googled ‘is fluoride safe?’ and then started stock-piling Tom’s fluoride-free toothpaste because you were afraid that every dentist in America was a part of a big conspiracy to poison Americans 1 teaspoon of fluoride at a time? Yeah. Dentists hate you for that.
  3. You’ve been a bad friend.
    Because even when you found out that all dentists wanted to kill themselves, you didn’t call your dentist to make sure they were okay. You just thought, ‘That makes sense. I’ve totally met a dentist like that before.’
  4. You never took his advice to heart.
    When you were 13 and your dentist told you on the same day that he removed your braces that you’d have to wear your retainer every night for the rest of your life, you laughed in his face.
  5. You assumed all dentists were men.
    Just because a woman walks in the room, that doesn’t mean she’s your hygienist. How about you tell your biases to Dr. Sheri Doniger who was told that by being in dental school, she was taking the place of a man. Dental schools haven’t been actively discriminating against women applicants since at least April 2018.
  6. You’re totally aggro in their chair.
    Really, a total aggressive jerk. And a wimp. Doctors have relocated shoulders without administering a drop of pain medicine, soldiers have amputated limbs with little more than a leather belt and a bottle of bourbon and yet you feel a pinch against your gums and you’re whining like a toddler? There’s a reason your dentist lets you drool all over yourself.
  7. You forgot to brush.
    That’s right. I’m calling you out for that time you figured, ‘What’s the use? They’re going to clean them for me anyway. Isn’t that what I’m paying them for?’ Just gross, dude. Would you decide not to wipe your butt before going to the gastroenterologist because you’re pretty sure they’ll want a sample?
  8. The collective ugh.
    They can hear the collective groans of everyone around you when you show up to work, or the breakfast table, or your friends bat mitzvah and say, ‘I have to go to the dentist today.’ Dentists are humans too. And I’m pretty sure they have emotion-like feelings.
  9. Treat yo-self culture.
    They get it. You’ve been a good, grown-a$s boy by going to the dentist today. That doesn’t mean you get to treat yourself with an ice-cream from DQ on the way back to work. At least let the fluoride set.

Unlike respectable journalists and writers, I’ll never use this blog to charge you for my witty insights and humorous truths. Even though you totally paid that homeless dude outside the local Aldi $0.50 for his poems. But if you ever want to feel like as good of a person while you’re surfing the internet as you do while you’re walking around your neighborhood, I support your journey to moral superiority and will gladly send you real life proof of your moral superiority for you to show all of your friends.

Alternatively, if you want to keep exploiting wordsmiths without dropping a cent, you can follow me on Twitter @oftheicebox where I dispense witticisms and more for free on a regular basis.

The problem with being directionless — July 12, 2019

The problem with being directionless

If you look at the date of my last post you might have thought this blog (or this blogger) had died. It’s been a long time, friends. I’ve spent much of the last few months consulting my Magic 8 Ball (Google), on important topics such as, ‘Is blogging dead?’ and ‘Does anyone read blogs anymore?’ and ‘Has Instagram replaced WordPress and Blogger?’

The answer to all of these questions, if you’re wondering, is as follows:

I’ve decided I might as well put aside my many doubts regarding if I’m wasting my time and what lies beyond the right swipe and start blogging again. I mean, really, so my cousin took me to prom. It doesn’t mean anything deeper.

In short, I’ve spent the last few months making much ado about nothing. If people are still reading blogs, some of them might eventually see this and if not, time will put my Google questions (and these words) to rest.

Another problem, for me at least, was that I had never clearly defined what this blog was intended to be and I thought that I had to. The first lesson in telling stories always includes limiting complexity. Complications are plot but complexity is confusing and disorienting.

Am I a lifestyle blog, a humor blog, a poetry blog, a rambling and wacky anecdote blog, a blog about dogs, a blog about food, a blog about binge-watching Japanese reality TV shows until both of our hearts are fluttering like teenage girls? The answer to this?

There’s another problem to take care of.

By being someone that is sometimes melancholic, sometimes funny, sometimes nonsensical (aka: human), I didn’t have a ‘brand’. I couldn’t market myself. And this, we are raised to believe in the blogosphere and social media-laden world, is what we must do if we ever want our words to be read. I couldn’t sell myself and mother always said ‘you have to sell yourself to make money, dear.’ Sorry, mom. You should have given me a bigger a$$.

Not to droll on indefinitely but I’ve decided to post what I want to post from now on and not worry if it doesn’t make sense or if it complicates my ‘brand’. Because let’s be real, I never had one to begin with. I had barely even begun when I had an identity crisis. I’ve decided to be more open about who I am and what I’m trying to do with my writing.

So here’s a start. A lot has changed in the last few months. I’ve moved back to the US from Australia and am now residing in Florida because I’ve gotta swing that vote, b!tches.

I’ve made the decision to focus on writing full-time. A decision, by the way, which I waffle on every other day like I’m Chick-fil-a trying to figure out my stance on being a corporate member of the 21st century.

Anyways, I’ve decided to try writing instead of pursuing yet another admin job that takes away from me being able to finish that next, mediocre American novel I’ve been working on for years. I’ve saved up a bit of money from my last over-committed job to be able to try this whole ‘living-the-dream like a Millennial’ thing (for a few months, at least). After that, I suppose I’ll have to revert to eating $0.50 ramen instead of $14 hipster ramen from the local chef who studied how to boil the perfect noodle in Tokyo for 3 years before being allowed to touch an egg.

In short, I guess you could say I’ve fought a lot of self-doubts and fear to get to the place where I could publish this post and consider eating $0.50 ramen again. I’m still fighting them.

I’m not sure what you will get when you follow this blog but I’m committed to posting regularly and will tell you when I’m spiraling into my next identity crisis so that you can take the necessary precautions and abandon ship before it’s too late.

I’m also not sure what I’m trying to sell to you but you can be sure that I’m trying to sell you something. Hopefully it’s the truth. Hopefully it’s my life, my reflections, my struggles and musings. And hopefully that’s enough to distract you, even if just for a few minutes, from the self-doubts and fears that are weighing you down. Because there’s only enough server space on this blog for one of our self-doubts and, goddammit, they’re going to be mine! And, also, hopefully all of this will be enough to pay my bills cause a gal in Florida needs A/C.

I want to be fearless, friends. I want to finish that novel I’ve been working on, then burying in the Cloud because I decided it wasn’t good enough to release to the world. I want to finish those spec scripts and submit applications for writing fellowships. I want to submit short stories for publication and make a real effort towards making this writing thing work because it’s the only thing I’ve ever truly loved (sorry husband and dog, hyperbole demands harsh truths be established). Maybe I’ll even apply for MFA programs despite the many warnings against following this course.

Honestly, I don’t know anything about the writing world that I want to be a part of and that scares me because I’ve already jumped off this bridge expecting to soar on the wings of my millennial optimism. Flotation device was not included. I guess it’s time to learn how to swim.

Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to meet a few people along the river that will be kind enough to teach me how to backstroke instead of doggy paddle. Maybe that person will be you. If it is, I humbly thank you in advance for your guidance and assure you there were no sexual connotations intended in that metaphor.

Onward and upwards, friends. As my hero says, Together We Can. That was either spoken by Michelle Obama or the Disney machine.

The Oxford Comma Debate — June 13, 2018

The Oxford Comma Debate

Unless you’re Cindy Knoke, you might be wondering why I’m dedicating a whole post to Oxford commas and subjecting you to the onslaughts of my full-blown philosophical panic attack about this relatively minor conundrum of the English language which occupies a significant portion of my non-productive hours. There’s a very good reason for this which I will likely fail to address. But onwards and upwards, as they say.

If you have read my About page, you will know that I have confessed to having the occasional philosophical panic attack over coffee-shop bloggers [editor’s interjection: Stop trying to guilt me into buying organic, free-trade, naturally decaffeinated early gray and lay off the sea salt hair spray already–if I want a latte full of fatty milk that belongs to the slaughtered calf I ate for dinner last night, I’m gonna pay my $5 and have it, gosh dang it], and Santa Claus [I can’t even talk about this one or it’ll make me so hot and bothered I’ll never get to the point of this post], and, you guessed it, Oxford commas.

What is the Oxford Comma?

Whether you have a hazy idea of what the Oxford comma is and need a quick refresher or are as intimately familiar with this hairy language mole as I am, I strongly encourage you to resist the urge to pull out a dictionary or conduct a Google search and just sit back and take my word for it. I am, after all, the resident Oxford comma expert on this blog and while you are here, the rest of the contextual world doesn’t exist.

Side Note: The Oxford comma is not to be confused with the Oxford coma, a deep-seated fear that gripped the heart of the English nation for 3 1/2 years in the 1950’s and led to this guys commitment to practice contemplative non-blinking.

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Let’s stop evading and define this melanoma, shall we?

Stage 1. Defining the growth.

The Oxford comma is when you have 3 or more items in a list, and you decide instead of letting the final conjunction (usually the word ‘and’) stand in place of a comma as is its entire reason for existing, you’re going to go ahead and add a comma anyway just for the heck of it.

Some will try to argue that it’s not just for the heck of it. It’s actually for clarity. I would argue that clarity is overrated. Some will also argue that if you have need of an Oxford comma, your sentence is already weak and you should rewrite it rather than trying to ‘rescue’ it with the Oxford comma. I would argue that I don’t believe in eradicating weak sentences, just as I don’t believe in eradicating weak children. You may choose designer babies but my writing is all natural and edit-proof, just as God intended.

Stage 2. Research the Prognosis.

You can read some fabulous examples (and more fabulous comments) on this Grammarly article. These lovely tidbits talk about Lady Gaga & Humpty Dumpty’s love child. Then an all out war breaks out in the comments section which starts with slanderous claims of one person being a terrible writer for asking a ‘proper use’ question and another person being accused of being a ‘grammar nazi’ (ahem…my spellcheck says that’s grammar Nazi, friend) for asserting a strong preference for the Oxford comma. It ends with the collective smelling of cheese and grass, as all good wars do.

I had prepared an example but I’ve lost all motivation to go on. The war was long. The cheese was aged. It was a good example too. It was about the size of the fourth dimension, ballerinas and Brad Pitt’s penis.

Or was it about the size of the fourth dimension, ballerinas, and Brad Pitt’s penis? You see here, I trust, the confusion I’ve created.

Was I talking about the size of ballerinas and the size of Brad Pitt’s penis in addition to the size of the fourth dimension? Or perhaps I was talking about Brad Pitt’s penis in relation to ballerinas, a separate topic of conversation entirely from the size of the fourth dimension. All distinct possibilities, friends. How many topics of conversation were there? Was it 2, 3, even 4? Was it as limitless as the dimensions we’re surrounded by? The world will never know.

Stage 3. Understand the origins.

Maybe you think this whole debate is an elaborate hazing ritual started by these dancing Oxford boys because it’s no longer enough for the elite to haze themselves. They must now haze all of us too.

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And maybe if you’re not bound by a style guide at school or work, it ultimately just comes down to personal style. But if it is just personal style, which is more stylish? Because let’s face it, I need to be ‘on trend’ if I’m going to be successful at this writing thing.

Stage 4. Embrace your inevitable fate.

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On the one hand, I could be loose like an American poet who embraces, nay delights in, the grey area of interpretation between the size of the fourth dimension, ballerinas and Brad Pitt’s penis. Heck, in this world, my ambiguous reference to Brad Pitt’s penis in relation to ballerinas shrinking waistline and the invisible fourth dimension was more than intentional. It was art.

On the other hand, maybe you care about context. Maybe you think that clarity must always win. Maybe you drink tea with your pinky up and insist on using an Oxford comma even when it isn’t necessary for clarity, just to make a point.

Maybe we will never agree with one another on this point (the we I refer to being the two severed halves of myself). Maybe I will continue to waffle between embracing and rejecting the Oxford comma for all my days, spreading mass confusion and being judged for my failure to master any individual style throughout all my writing. Because we all know mastering is just another word for ownership and I don’t want to own the Oxford comma.

End Stage. Stopping treatment.

I hope now that we’ve come to the end, if nothing else, I’ve successfully passed on my philosophical panic attack to you. I ask that you take up the torch and extinguish my fire because I’m tired of carrying it. It’s time for me to #Brexit from this conversation. Until next time.

Don’t Call Her No Tramp — May 29, 2018

Don’t Call Her No Tramp

In appreciation of bad-ass women who sometimes have to wear big-ass British hats.

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The indomitable, incomparable Ms Betty Davis. I don’t introduce her (despite what that past sentence may indicate) because a woman like this introduces herself.

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I have a new standard to decide if my life decisions are worthy. I simply think, “Would I shock Betty Davis?”

If the answer is no, I go back to the drawing board. If the answer is yes, I check with the hubby just to make sure I’m not about to do something that he would leave me for, then I proceed.

All of which is to say, I’m the proud owner of this garden as of 2 minutes ago (thanks Etsy):

giphy

#BAMF (had to Google that just to make sure it meant what I thought it meant. Urban Dictionary says yes.)

 

Solving Life: Bottles & Bottles — May 7, 2018

Solving Life: Bottles & Bottles

Do you ever browse blogs thinking, ‘What am I doing with my life and what the hell are all these random bloggers doing with their lives?” I can answer both of those questions for you.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought because, frankly, I know you’ve been worried. And not just about me, not even primarily about me and what I’m doing with my life. Mostly, you’ve been worried about yourself. Worry no longer! By explaining what I’m doing with my life, I guarantee at least one of you will spontaneously realize what you should be doing with your life. Don’t worry, what I’m going to tell you doesn’t involve cults, pyramid schemes or the morally grey area of testing goats milk soap on goats.

So what exactly am I doing? I’m thinking up creative business ideas that I have no desire to actually make a reality. For example, today’s business idea of the day is

Bottles and Bottles — Taproom and Nursery because every mom deserves a happy hour at least once a day.

Possible liabilities:

  • Nursery staff accidentally fill sippy cups from taps.
    • Workaround: Nursery staff prohibited from accessing the bar during working hours.
  • Nursery staff get drunk while on duty
    • Workaround: same as #1.
  • Mothers drive their children home after drinking a few too many and angry mombsters shame-picket the front of the establishment.
    • Workaround: Hire Ubers with car seats to wait out front during peak hours. If this is too expensive, hire counter-picketers who hold pictures of pints chanting, ‘Mom’s deserve to drink too.’ It’s uncertain if this second group are anti-dad protesters or if they’re against drunk-mom-shaming protesters, but all the attention will promote conversation.
  • It might already exist. I haven’t Googled it but it’s possible I’ve subconsciously stolen this whole idea like Madonna accidentally stole a dozen songs over the course of her career. These things happen sometimes.
    • Workaround: If you discover this is one of those times, the best thing to do is to buy an internet-sized rug and sweep this all underneath it.

I know you’re wondering why I’m not capitalizing on this brilliant idea right now, why I’m just giving it away for free. The answer is twofold. Firstly, I think this idea has a lot more gusto if it’s put into action by a mom. I do not fall into that category. Secondly, I’m not just giving it away for free. I fully expect that you will pay me a creative consultancy fee, preferably in cryptocurrency, for services rendered.

You might now be feeling dizzy and confused. It’s to be expected. After all, you’ve been unsure what you’re doing with your life for so long that the sudden realization that this is it–this is your ticket out of those endless cycles of treating Google like it’s a magic 8-ball–has left you feeling frazzled.

If you’ve spent the last five years Googling, top 10 careers that make a lot of money and what to do if you’re 30 and don’t know what you’re doing with your life and should I get a masters degree? and ethical porn; if you’ve been binge-watching all sorts of shows from all sorts of streaming services at all sorts of hours in an attempt to stop feeling like your life is meaningless and you are alone; I release you now to your new, fulfilled life. The search is over, bliends (that’s blogger friends). This is your chance to shine as the enlightened feminist-revolutionary for modern women. You are about to be the proud new owner of the hippest mom-bar in town. So shine, sister (and don’t forget to transfer my finders fee or I will join the picketers).

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