A short list of things that are Extremely Worth It:

  • The glass deductible rider on your car insurance policy. I’ve had like, 6 windshields over the years, honest to God.
  • MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Foundation. Two words: Seriously Amazing. The other afternoon, my boss went out for lunch. While he was gone I applied my daily dose, and, upon his return, he kind of did a double-take and asked me if I had changed, somehow. PEOPLE, my (male) BOSS noticed. It’s that good. It is not sticky, it is not greasy, and it does not look like makeup. In short: it is everything you want out of life.
  • Mark Bittman’s cookbooks. That one and this one. I read them like novels. I mean, I’ll be honest, some of the recipes are not that great, but if you need to know how to debone a chicken, make DIY buttermilk, or create awesome 15-minute Kung Pao chicken, this guy is your man.
  • The BlacX Duet. I just purchased their single-drive model, and am kicking myself all the way down the street for not just spending the extra money and getting the full package. The potential for 4 live terabytes of storage with a price tag under $100. It makes me dizzy.

If you have a hard drive fetish, if you like to cook, if you like to look fantastic all the time, or if you like to not spend money on stupid crap, trust me here. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Glad it’s not MY job.


I’ve never understood businesses that put people in funny costumes and trot them around the sidewalk. Liberty Tax? The gentleman dressed up like the statue does nothing to instill my confidence in your tax prep capability. That Chicken Place down the street? The teenage girl outfitted as Big Bird makes me consider revisiting my days as a vegetarian. Unless you are a children’s store, and the subject in question is wearing a giant puppy suit, this notion that costumed mascots create some kind of uptick in business makes no earthly sense to me.

There’s this rug store on my way to work, and I always kind of feel bad for the place. They’re sort of on the outskirts of town, they always have a sign out front advertising “Rug Cleaning!”, and I’m steeling myself for the eventuality that there will one day be a liquidation sale banner hanging in the window. So I’m driving by the other day and there’s this giant box with legs waving at me.

It was a very confused few seconds before I realized that I was looking at a man in a carpet suit. A CARPET SUIT. I mean, really. Take a second to wrap your head around that! Like, someone was actually like, “Come on, Phyllis, let’s get the carpet suit out of the basement. Business is slow, it’s time to make some money.” I’m totally baffled.

How Not To Spend Your Time: Pt 1


B! and I went down to see my parents the other Saturday. Seeing the wretched state of my forearms, covered, as they were, in tiny red bumps, my mom gently steered me to the Minute Clinic at CVS. Together we waited there for about 40 minutes, observing the vast and varied pharmacy clientele, and were finally seen by a very nice Nurse Practitioner. After tallying off my boutique of psychoactive medications, she silently added “anxiety disorder” to my profile and then asked, in a very matter-of-fact way, if I was depressed.

“I think I might have mono,” I told the nurse.

The nurse produced a large binder from somewhere behind her computer, and flipped over to a page tabbed with “INFECTIOUS MONONUCLEOSIS”. It had more pictures than text. This did not instill confidence.

“We’ll do a test,” she said.

To me it seemed like spending a hundred dollars on nothing at all – there’s no cure for mono except just chilling out, and, realistically, I can’t afford to just chill out right now. But my mother persisted, and I gave in.

Carefully, with the air of a new hire navigating the supply closet, the nurse brought down a box labeled “MONO TEST” and began to read the printed directions. There was a needle, a vial, and three glass jars involved. She seemed a little confused.

“Um,” she said, squeezing dryly at the eyedropper bottle, and kind of trailed off. Turns out, they had run out of the solution that tests for mono, and so she couldn’t tell me anything at all.

Free advice: if you have a mysterious rash covering your entire body, are fairly sure you don’t have measles, and would like medical validation for why you’ve been sleeping 10 hours a day, don’t bother going to the Minute Clinic in my parents’ town. It’s totally not worth it.

This would have been better as a Facebook update:


Sometimes, I think life is hard. Then, I watch Lord of the Rings.


I mean, seriously.

In college, I just ran the waffle machine in the dining hall. That was OK.


Tuesday was the kind of day that made me glad to have weekly therapy sessions. I’ve gone off the Abilify again, bolstered now by an extra 75mg of Effexor, so I don’t know if it was that or just the whim of the wind that swayed me from “great” to “feh”. Either way, I arrived home from work feeling very out of sorts. The dinner I’d planned involved a lot of chopping, and I used the time like a meditation on life. Asparagus cut into perfect 1-inch segments on the bias. All cannot be lost. We ate dinner around 8:30pm, and, just as I was finishing up, my phone started buzzing.

“Hello, this is Erin,” I answered, as always.

“Hi Erin, this is Natalie, I’m a freshman at Syracuse University,” replied a cheerful, carefully scripted voice.

OK. It’s like, I know where she’s going. I know they want money. And we all know I don’t have money. But I don’t want to be rude to the poor girl. So I let her go on. She told me all about some new website the University has for alumni networking, and a way for me to “stay in touch with what’s going on at SU”, as though that’s some kind of top priority for me. And as she’s yambling on, I’m thinking about what *I* was up to at 8:30pm on any given Tuesday as a college freshman, and how it sure as hell wasn’t working some targeted telemarketing gig on work study. I felt bad for her, actually, and wanted to tell her so.

Until her script got awkward. “Another reason why we’re calling is just to catch up on what you’ve been up to since graduation…!” she read, with awkward inflection. “So, what have you been up to since graduation?”

I graduated college in 2001. And what’s happened since then defies description. Like, I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes trying to come up with something, but I just can’t. Part of me really wanted to give it to her: the cold, hard truth about how life just turns around and slaps you in the face. How you really can work yourself to death, even if you love your job. How you can go from being a happily married woman with a nice, comfortable life to an unemployed would-be divorcee in what seems like the blink of an eye. How you can rise up again, in spite of it all.

All these thoughts vectored like time-lapse in my brain, until, after a slightly uncomfortable pause, I laughed. “A lot has happened since graduation,” I said. “A lot. Right now I work as project manager for a nonprofit company. Before that I worked in documentary film.” I left out the mental institution, I left out the complicated divorce, I left out how, at 26 years old, my name appeared on screens nationwide as co producer of a major PBS documentary. I left out how I can teach myself anything, how I HAVE taught myself everything, how, when *I* was a freshman in college, I had no idea what I was in for.

In the end, she asked me for $150, and I said no, sorry, I can’t afford that, but the five minutes I spent on the phone with her really made me think. I’ve done a lot since 2001. And that’s pretty cool.


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