You didn’t really think I was going to write about dating, did you? Here are numbers 396-398 of the reasons I don’t date. 


396. I don’t want to worry about farts — mine or his. Also, the bathroom. I don’t want to share my bathroom. At. All. At least farts are kind of funny. Poop. Nope.

And then there’s this happy couple. She found out he had been cheating on her for months before their wedding, while they were dating …. and she found out the night before. Of course the cunt helpful homewrecker he was cheating with sent the happy bride their texts, but he still has no excuse. She read the texts instead of her vows at their wedding the next day. Never would have happened if she’d stayed off Tinder.

397. I don’t need to become any more cynical than I already am.

And then there’s this guy who know what he wants and won’t settle for less. Misogynist dog turd. 

398. I don’t meet the criteria. Thank you, Baby Jesus.

So far, even after lots of conversations about the topic, I’ve come up with hundreds of reasons not to date, and not a single reason why I should. I do like swiping on Tinder for other people though.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Goodbye to Cousin X: Day 15

Tonight’s Throwback Thursday post is one that got a lot of attention, although it’s hard to tell by looking at the original post. No comments on it at all. But there were tons of comments on Facebook, and it was one of my top five posts for views. In fact, one of my brother’s friends in Minneapolis sent it to him, not knowing it was about him. That’s viral in my world!

Some things have changed since I wrote this post. To begin with, I unfriended Cousin X, and so did my sisters and even my mom. The Supreme Court did the right thing and upheld the right of gay people to marry, and yet also upheld the baker’s right to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple. But the state where he lives elected a gay governor this month. There’s change. But the religious right is always pushing back and trying to erode progress. I’ll never understand what people are so afraid of, and frankly, it’s their problem. They need to deal with it and leave the rest of us out of it. And on we go with Throwback Thursday.

_________

 

I wish people would think about who they might hurt when they let loose their bigoted, repressive, cutting words on the world of Facebook. Real people read these words. Real people react with their real feelings. Their hurt feelings. Their feelings of despair. This goes out to all of my LGBTQ friends. I’m sorry for some of the shit you endure here. I’m sorry for some of the shit we all have to see here.

P.S. I love my baby brother with all my heart. Don’t bake him a fucking cake if you don’t want to. I’ll bake him a cake, and I’ll bake it with love. Keep your hate to yourself.

I posted this on Facebook tonight. I was so pissed, and I wanted to make a vague statement about a conversation I had with my little brother early this evening, just as I was finishing up a ham dinner to eat with Drake and Montana, my son and daughter-in-law. We’d shared a good day: birthday brunch for Montana, a visit with her adorable 9-month-old nephew, a long hike along the river in a nearby state park with our dogs. While I grilled ham and mashed potatoes, they grabbed a quick nap before their 2 1/2-hour drive home.

I almost didn’t answer the phone. I almost didn’t even check to see who was calling, but I did, and when I saw it was my youngest brother, probably on his long drive home from Easter dinner at Mom’s, I picked up the phone. I intended to just let him say “Happy Easter” and get right off, but instead we had this conversation. (Note: My brother is not on Facebook and never has been. For that I am grateful, for reasons that will become clear. Oh, and also, my  brother is gay. Not that that’s any of your business.)

Bro’: Did we talk about Cousin X the last time we talked or the time before? Did you say you weren’t really in touch with her any more? Because I can understand why now.

Me: I don’t remember talking about it, but it’s true. We don’t have much in common any more.

Bro’: Yeah, well I have even less in common with her. You’re Facebook friends with her, right?

Me: I am …. or I think I still am. I have her set on “show as little as possible without unfriending.” Too much right-wing bullshit for me. Why? What happened?

Bro’: I was at Mom’s setting up her phone. I put her on my plan so she’d get better reception there.

Me: Yeah, any reception at all would be welcome, I’m sure. I didn’t get any bars the entire time I was home for [her husband’s] funeral last summer.

Bro’: So I was setting up her phone, and I had to load her Facebook app for her. And I saw the kind of shit Cousin X posts on her Facebook. I couldn’t believe it.

Me: I haven’t seen anything from her in months. What did you see?

Bro’: A bunch of stuff. Some really ugly stuff about Obama. And a post about … well, about me. It said something like making a Christian bake a cake for a gay person is like making a black person bake a cake for the KKK.

Me: Wow. That’s …. that’s horrible.

Bro’: Yeah. I …. I don’t know what I ever did to her …. I don’t know how she could compare me to the KKK. I didn’t know that was who she is now. I won’t keep you. I just had to tell you … It hurts, you know?

Me: I know. It’s awful. I don’t even know what to say about it. I’m so sorry you saw that.

Bro’: I was so upset I almost responded to it right there …

Me: Yeah, but it would have looked like Mom was responding. Not that she wouldn’t have supported you.

Bro’: And then I thought I’d send her an email when I got home, but the further down the road I got, the more I realized it would be like teaching a pig to sing. It would waste my time and just annoy the pig.

Me: You’re right. You’re not going to change her stupid, bigoted opinions.

Bro’: I know. I just want to … I don’t know. Tell her I’m a real person, someone she knows, and that’s a vile way to talk about me and my friends and a lot of people she doesn’t even know.

Me: It is. I just doubt you’d get any satisfaction from contacting her. Maybe … but probably not.

Bro’: I’m not going to. I decided to call you instead. I’ll let you go now.

Me: OK. I’m just getting dinner on the table. Sorry.

Bro’: It’s OK. I just needed to tell you.

Me: I love you. Drive safe.

Bro’: Love you too. Talk to you soon.


I have so much to say about this, I can barely think straight. I’ll try to be concise though. Joining the KKK is a choice. A vile choice. Being a Christian is a choice. And the result of that choice sometimes results in vile actions, like posting shit like this on Facebook.

I’m not sure who Cousin X thinks she’s talking about when she compares a gay wedding to the KKK (the irony can’t escape any of you), but if I cared to have the conversation with her, I would remind her that she’s talking about real people. Real people who have the same human desires and failings, the same needs and feelings that she does. Real people who include her younger cousin  who shared holiday dinners and birthdays with her at my house for several years when we all lived close to each other and far from other family. A real person who used to think she cared a great deal for him. 

Apparently she does not. Does not care about him, and does not see him as a real person with the same rights she has.

You know what though? It’s none of her damn business who he loves or who he shares a wedding cake with or even who he fucks. None. Of. Her. Business. Nor mine. Nor yours. Nobody’s business but his own.

But since people insist on making my brother their business, let me tell you something about his weekend. He drove 10 hours to and from to spend Easter with our recently widowed mother. He’s probably made that trip 25 times in the past year. Maybe more. While he was there he told stupid jokes, cooked, cleaned up, did several handyman chores that Mom needed done, watched some TV, set up her cell phone, teased his sisters, let a few odorous farts, laughed too loud and cried too easily, reminisced about those of us who weren’t there, saw something cruel on Facebook that cut him to his soul …. 

Here’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t discriminate refuse to show common courtesy to anybody, including straight people, who are not like him in that way that’s so important to some straight people. He didn’t rape any children. Most pedophiles are straight men anyway. He didn’t shame any little girls who wanted to wear a suit for Easter. I doubt very much he compelled anybody to commit suicide, although if you’ve ever endured one of his farts … I digress. And he did not post a quick, yet heart-wrenchingly cruel, quotation on Facebook about anybody at all, but especially not about somebody he thought might remember him with fondness, if not love. 

Who wouldn’t want to bake this man a wedding cake? (He’s single, btw!)

I have to ask: Are there really good people who think their savior rose from the dead on a day like this one a couple thousand years ago just so they could use the religion they named after him to crush people who don’t love the same gender of person they love? Really? Is that what they got from Jesus? Is that what they distilled from his words?

From what I know of Jesus, he accepted everybody. In fact, I think that radical, liberal young rabbi would have been out there performing gay weddings if such a thing had even been a thing. Oh, I know he would have. He certainly wouldn’t have been quoting John Hawkins’ words of hate on Facebook.

I’m rambling. It’s hard to watch someone I love step on a landmine like that one up there. It’s hard to see people I love and people I don’t even know try to defend who they are, who they were born to be. It’s hard to watch people carry on conversations about them — about them — as if they weren’t real live human beings who shouldn’t have to defend their relationships to anybody.

So I’ll stop rambling and say it again to people like Cousin X (who won’t be on my Facebook friend list after this): Don’t bake my brother a fucking cake if you can’t treat him like a human being who has all the same feelings and rights as you. I will bake him all the cakes he can eat, and I will make them with love. You hit him today with your words, and you hurt him. But don’t think that means you will oppress him forever. Your dehumanizing hatred is going to cause a backlash like you’ve never even imagined. A backlash of people loving and supporting and fighting for their gay relatives and friends, and yes, even strangers.

Wait for it. It’s already headed your way. Bam!

The joy of plugs: Day 13

Princess-Butt-Plugs
Princess model

If you’ve been reading here long, or even if you’re reading here now, you may have noticed something is missing from my blog that you often see on other blogs. Any guesses what that is? If you answered ads …. ding! ding! ding! No ads. Which means I derive no income from this here blog, which is why I don’t write here as often as I should because I’m out there working for dollars. Here all I get is adoration. 

Not that I’m opposed to earning income from this blog. I’ll take money from pretty much anybody for pretty much anything. I’m not saying I’m a whore, but draw your own conclusions. (I’m not a whore.) To be honest, I don’t run ads or earn income here for pretty much the same reason I’m not a prostitute: nobody has ever offered. Until now.

Some time before my life ran off the tracks I received an email from Jessica who works for a startup in Portland, Oregon, where all the cool kids live, and she wanted to pay me $20 to mention her product on this little blog. Exciting, huh? Finally I’m getting some recognition from corporate America! Any guesses what she wanted me to mention? Anybody?

Well, I won’t leave you hanging, because I wasn’t sure at first myself. And it says something about my sex life that I didn’t really know from looking at the name of the company: Plugjoy. I had to Google it.

Oh. Um.

Butt plugs.

OK. Uh huh. Somebody wants me to plug butt plugs. (I stole that.) I always thought my first ad would have something to do with vaginas. Or wine. Or both. I never considered butt plugs. But OK …

I’m cool with that. I mean I’ve never used  … worn? … inserted? … or even held a butt plug before, but see above. Nobody’s ever asked me to, and furthermore, they don’t sell them at Kroger or Goodwill, my two hometown-shopping besties. Don’t judge. I’m not nearly as cool as everybody nobody thinks I am.

I wondered what my readers would think about suddenly seeing an ad for butt plugs on my blog, so I asked on my Reticulated Writer Facebook page*. The responses were 100% positive, and the reasons were reasonable. 1. Anybody who would be shocked by butt plugs has probably already run screaming from the building. 2. I have no other advertisers to piss off. 3. It’s an opportunity to educate myself my public about butt plugs. And honestly, no tongue in cheek at all, I’m all for educating people about safe and fun sex toys. People who aren’t educated can end up in the emergency room.

Several people at church cornered me engaged me in a conversation about the possibility of butt plug plugging. Two of them, women in their 60’s, said they had to look them up, because they’d never heard of them. And that they had no idea people used such devices, but it seemed like good, clean fun. I looked around to see who was listening every time one of us said “butt plug” and we all broke into laughter. The general consensus at church was that I should take the money and write about butt plugs.

Before I committed though, I decided I’d ask our resident expert, my daughter Elvira. The conversation went something like this.

Me: What can you tell me about butt plugs. I might write a blog post about them and even get paid.

Elvira: One thing I can tell you is this: If you’re going to buy rhinestones, buy online, because the markup is outrageous in the retail stores.

Me: Obviously I’m not an expert on the plugging of the butt, but even using the word “rhinestone” in the same sentence with the words “butt” and “plug” sounds painful.

Elvira: The rhinestone is on the end. It sticks out.

Me: I don’t understand the appeal. I lack anal imagination apparently.

Elvira: So your butt is a jewel. It makes your butt look cute. Here, I’ll show you.

Me: (alarms go off!) OH! That’s OK, sweetie. I’m not even going to try to imagine.

Elvira: Not on me! Jeez, Mommers. I’m not walking around with a rhinestone butt plug in my ass. Look. Here on Amazon. They’re only $2.99 so you can get one in every color of the rainbow if you want.

Me: Oh, I see. Kind of like a gaudy wine bottle stopper, only bigger.

Elvira: Yeah, like that. One time I was drunk and I ordered eight of them on Wish. They were only 50 cents so you had to take random colors. I got red and green, so I threw them away.

Me: Ick. Those sound like the worst colors for butt plugs. That would make your butt look …. well, not pretty.

Elvira: Right? I wanted clear or pink or purple. I think I even got a yellow one.

Me: OK, I’ve imagined enough about you and butt plugs for the time being. Do you think I should write a sponsored post about butt plugs on my blog?

Elvira: Sure. Why not? 

OK, I thought. I’ll do it. It’s not like they’re asking me to write a review with personal photos. And I’d make enough money to buy a box of wine. Or a good bottle of Butter chardonnay. Why not splurge?

Here’s what you need to know about Plugjoy. You can buy your butt plugs online or at their brick-and-mortar store in Portland, Oregon, which looks nice, like a realtor’s office or a travel agency. You will see the jeweled butt plugs Elvira fancies — one is even pink — on their home page. They sell a variety of plugs, like inflatable plugs, his-and-her plugs, animal tail butt plugs of various animals (like bunnies, raccoons, and foxes) and other butt toys, like beads, vibrators, and hooks. (I’m not going to ask about that last one.) And, as you might expect, you can choose from a number of sizes.

You’ll find a selection of articles on their website, with topics like how to use a butt plug, how to DIY your butt plug, and how to use good hygiene. If you’re interested in further information, check out some of the reviews at Oh Joy Sex Toy as well. They write cartoon reviews of sex toys that are both hilarious and informative.

There you go. I don’t know if I’ll actually get paid, but that’s what an ad looks like here in Reticuland. By the way, none of those are affiliate links. In other words, I don’t get a kickback if you buy something after you click on a link. I’m not going crazy here.

Feel free to share you experiences in the comments. As always.

* If you want to participate in scintillating conversations about butt plugs and other topics, please like my Reticulated Writer Facebook page.

Dear me: Day 11

15 year old selr

Once again it’s almost midnight and I’m just sitting down to my computer to write. I’m a terrible procrastinator. Terrible. It’s probably the thing I dislike most about myself … even more than my weight. I could have sat down to write earlier today, but I went to church and then raked the yard and then transferred the compost from the bin to a barrel. After that I sat down on the couch with a cup of tea and read the latest Barbara Kingsolver novel until I fell asleep and my book bonked the cat on my lap. Sorry, Gandalf. Obviously I needed a nap. So I took a nap. Then more reading of Kingsolver. Dinner cooked and consumed. Watched Coraline’s new favorite show Brainchild with her. Bedtime reading. Watched an episode of the new Sabrina with Elvira until she fell asleep in the chair. And now here I am. Trying to think of something to say that will make somebody want to comment and then come back and read again tomorrow and the next day and the next.

For inspiration, I checked out the NaBloPoMo prompt for the day. “[I]f you could go back & say one thing to your 15 year old self, what would it be & how do you think it might have changed your life now?”

That’s an easy one.

Dear Fifteen-Year-Old Reticula,

Stop partying so much and earn the highest grades you can from now on. Insist that someone help you find scholarships to colleges and get yourself a full ride. You have the rest of your life to drink and smoke pot, but you only have 3 years now to get yourself to college on time. (Also, the pot will start giving you panic attacks that will haunt you for years. It’s not worth being so cool.) As for that boy you’re dating, that relationship has the lifespan of a fruit fly. He just wants to touch your boobs anyway. Don’t give him your precious time, and certainly don’t give him your virginity. (I didn’t.) Go for the full ride because you’ll want to live in the dorms, even though you hate the idea. You’ll survive. Do not major in psychology or English or education. Start now and maybe the report card for your life won’t read “doesn’t live up to her potential.” Please love yourself enough to do this, because nobody else will do it for you. Don’t procrastinate even a minute. Hit the books.

Love, 

Future Reticula

That’s my one thing. I thought of others, but this is the biggest one. It’s the one I can’t believe I didn’t do. I always wanted to go to college. Insisted I would go to college in spite of my family’s apathy. I’m not sure why. Nobody else in my family of origin had even a bachelor’s degree, then or now. I just knew I was supposed to go to college. It was my destiny.

It wasn’t to spite my parents, although it infuriated me when my dad told me I didn’t need to go to college because I’d end up marrying a farm boy from my home town and living there all my life anyway. Fuck that. I did marry a farm boy from a town 40 miles away, but one of our marriage vows was that we’d never go back to the farm. Obviously though, no help with college from my family would be forthcoming. Not just because my dad thought I was trying to be better than everybody else, but because I’m the oldest of five kids. We couldn’t afford toilet paper sometimes by the end of the month.

My guidance counselor tried to inspire me to buckle down, but I didn’t really understand how the system worked. Maybe I didn’t believe I’d ever do it. Fear of failure is the number one cause of failure. Maybe I was just lazy. Maybe I was scared. Or maybe I was just short-sighted. Whatever the reason, I didn’t do the work I needed to do in order to get a scholarship to college, and I certainly couldn’t afford to pay for it on my own. For being such a smart girl, I was a real dummy.

Anyway, second part of the question. How would it have changed my life? How the hell do I know? So much so I can’t imagine that path. Probably I wouldn’t have gotten married when I was 18. That’s for certain. These kinds of questions are difficult because I wouldn’t give up my family for anything, and inherent in the idea of going back in time and doing better is the trade-off that the same people would not be in my life. And that’s when I come to a skidding halt. 

Would my life have been radically different if I’d earned a full scholarship to a university? Oh. Hell. Yes.

Did I get that college degree anyway? Oh. Hell. Yes. And my almost-2-year-old son sat on my mom’s lap at my graduation ceremony. I was 28 years old and I went to colleges in three states, but I did it. And then he was at another graduation ceremony 23 years later when I earned my master’s degree. Unfortunately my dad didn’t live to attend either — not that I think he would have. 

So that’s what I’d say to my 15-year-old self. But if I were to give her advice that wouldn’t so radically change her life, I’d tell her to go back and audition for swing choir again. And again if need be. One botched audition should not create decades of performance phobia. That shit’s a lot harder to work through as an adult. It gets entrenched. Don’t fucking give up. Do it again and do it better.

Oh. That’s a good one. Maybe I’ll just stick with that advice. 

Dear 15-year-old Reticula,

Don’t fucking give up.  Go after what you want and don’t fucking give up. And do it now. Procrastination is your enemy.

Love you,

Mumbledy-mumbledy-year-old Reticula

What would you tell your 15-year-old self? Or was your self already perfect then?

Happy birthday, Mom: Day 9

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Today is my mom’s birthday. Would have been my mom’s birthday. Her 81st. Happy Birthday, Mom. We threw her a bangin’ 80th birthday party last year, for which I’m grateful, but this year …. it’s been a tough day in that regard.

I was talking with a friend who also lost her mom recently, just a few weeks ago, about how hard it is to find time to grieve. About how we have to go on as if we didn’t just pass one of the biggest, most painful, milestones of our lives. It’s like standing on a speeding escalator watching those days and weeks that surrounded my mom’s death recede behind me way before I’m ready to let go. Long before I’ve had a chance to sit quietly for long spells and come to terms with the loss. I guess that’s why we call it loss though. Life moves on at its own pace.

Which got me to thinking about a couple of special times that did help me through it. The times when I felt some space open up around me where I found peace and felt cared for and comforted.

Of course I spent a lot of time with family and friends over the 3 weeks I was in Iowa, and we spent a lot of time reminiscing and laughing and crying.  The viewing the day before the funeral was seven hours long. I saw people I hadn’t seen since I left home when I was 17. And those people took care of us, my sisters and brother and me. They brought food — mostly beef and cookie bars. I had forgotten how people do death in a small town. Food is a remarkable gift to give a grieving family. I was so grateful it was almost painful to be cared for in such a way while I was there staying in my mom’s house. I miss that in my life. I digress though.

The Saturday afternoon between Mom’s death and her funeral my cousin, who was one of my best friends when we were growing up, drove over from Madison County to hang out with us. We talked about how Mom loved to color in adult coloring books with her colored pencils, and how precise her coloring was in spite of the stroke she suffered 18 years ago that greatly reduced her small motor skills in her right hand. My cousin said she loved to color too, and I told about the coloring party I’d had one evening for 11 women.

Pretty soon we were sitting at Mom’s kitchen table coloring in her coloring books with her pencils. laughing and talking. And it was like a space opened up in time where we could step away from the world and just sit together in our grief, coloring like we did when we were kids. My cousin’s dad, my mom’s middle brother, had also passed away not that long before and I hadn’t been able to come home for his funeral, so we were double grieving. That afternoon was a bubble that brings me comfort even today. It was healing.

The next day my cousin, who is a gorgeous quilter, brought 7 quilts so we could choose one to bury with Mom. After we chose, she gave each of us one of our own — five in all. Mine is shown in the photo above. Her generosity of both the quilt and her time made such precious memories during a time of sadness and loss.

When I got back home I felt like I was trying to keep up on a runaway treadmill. Getting back to work, getting Coraline back to school, picking up the pieces I’d dropped when I had to leave so suddenly. Two weeks is a long time to leave a life untended. I felt like I’d been through so much, and then I had to just go back to normal as if … as if normal existed.

I’d only been home a couple of days when a friend I’ll call Piano Man commented on my Facebook that we should get together and play some music. We’re always saying that, but we never do. Seven or eight years ago we played a show together, but he’s way out of my league and plays professionally. This time though he persisted. 

How about Wednesday? Does that work for you?  he wrote. It did. I told him to come over around 8:00 and I’d have Coraline in bed. 

When he got here, we didn’t get right down to the music. We sat on the couch and the cats came over to investigate and crawl around on him. Piano Man is a cat guy. He was digging it. We talked, and he asked me about my time in Iowa, what had happened.

I told him some of the story, and then I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to go on about this. You didn’t come here to listen to me talk about my stuff. We should play some music.”

“No,” he said. “You’re wrong. I did come here to hear this story. I want to hear it. Tell me what happened. It’s important.”

I still get teary remembering those words. Listening is a gift, but asking for the story, especially a story of a mother’s death and a daughter’s grief …. not many people ask for that.

So I told him what it was like to take my mom off the ventilator and to wait for her body to shut down over those days. And what her death was like as I sat beside her bed with her. And how she gave me a sign when I told her I loved her some time after she took her last breath. He listened to all of it as he calmly petted one of the cats.

And then we played music for almost three hours, and during that time I just focused on the music. Nothing else. Sure we talked and laughed. And we don’t have a common book of music, so mostly we ran through some of the songs I like to play by myself. He’s a talented, skilled jazz piano player and I’m mediocre at best, but it brought me home, grounded me. He even sang some harmony while I sang melody, which never happens.

It was exactly what I needed. Like maybe the Universe said, “She’s had enough for a minute. Let’s give her a break.” And for a few hours, I was in a bubble of music and harmony and the kindness of a friend asking to hear my story.

Words are my life, and yet I don’t have sufficient words for how powerful those bubbles of time were — the music and the coloring. The telling and the patient listening. And these are not the only times. Just the ones I’ve chosen to write about tonight.

The lesson is, I think, that we can’t know how such simple acts can bring great comfort and healing to someone who is sad and grieving, but we should be open to the opportunity to step into that bubble where time stops and the coloring or the music or the eating or the sharing of memories is all that matters. In the end, these connections are what I call God, the Divine, the Mystery. Or it’s just what makes us feel better. Either way.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.