i’m a grouchy hermit

Goodbye To All That


It has been a difficult year for most people.

Things have been hard for my family and me, too.

I deleted some social media accounts. Not because they are 100% bad or lacking utility, but I have a lot of personal gardens to tend, and these platforms were leaving me otherwise spent in ways that I can ill afford.

Mainly, I have to be more available to my family, and less with the world at large. Having people chiming in on my life choices has never been something I’m short of, and I am not built to manage the constant influx of forceful opinion that Twitter and Facebook serve up. Maybe I’ve never been shy about sharing my thoughts and feelings with people, but that doesn’t mean I like being engaged with them at all times.

If you’re wondering where I remain online, well, look at the rest of this website. There are links to other platforms that I find more amusing/less invasive.

For the foreseeable future, I’ll be at home, loving on Matilda and Adrian, working with my annoying biting puppy, setting things up in our house now that it’s basically remodeled and liveable, talking to Christa Desir about our podcast and all our other quotidian strife, and writing my 5th book, which is due out sometime in 2018.

(By the way: my fourth book, Just A Girl, is coming out in March; here’s a review.  You can pre-order it if you want. Or request that your local library purchase it.  Or buy it when it comes out March 28th. Or not. I’ll never know, right?)

But just go read something, okay? We need more readers in this world. Read a book to a kid, give books as gifts, visit or volunteer at your local library, advocate for reading as a lifelong activity, start a book club or just talk about books you read wherever you interact with others. Make reading visible and important, even if it’s something we tend to do alone, in silence, and in private. I think more than ever, we need thoughtfulness, we need reflection, we need imagination and empathy, and certainly, when things get overwhelming, we need hedonistic pleasure and escape. Please note that you don’t have to spend money on books! I use my library constantly, because I could never afford to buy all the books I want to read.

Do something revolutionary: be a reader.

(If you read this, and are down for more like it, please note that this was also sent out to my TinyLetter subscribers. TinyLetters = newsletters you receive as email. If you’d like to subscribe, go here. If not, it’s cool. You always know where to find me.)


Amusements I Can’t Get Into

Ask me to do any of the following and I’m gonna pack up my jack-o-lantern and light out for the territory.

Parades. Crowds + Waiting + Summer Heat  = No Thanks

Firework displays. (Unless I’m very, very far away. I don’t mind seeing them. It’s the noise + crowds that shits me out.)

Carnivals. These send me into a tailspin of depression. The port-a-potties, the harassed, drunken parents, the wasted money on tacky prizes, the camper vans of the people who work there all lined up around the edges. BAAAARRRRRRRFFFFFF.

Casinos. Come on into our dark world of people with oxygen tanks feeding their disability checks, coin by coin, into slot machines! You’ll probably lose all your money in the first 15 minutes, but come on! The buffet’s really good and it’s only $4.99! They even have crab legs! What’s not to love?

On My Suburban Wonderland

So, on our street we have that one house where there’s a couple who hate kids and you can’t even breathe on their lawn and they are assholes and nobody likes them. It’s a man and a woman and we refer to them as “Dick” and “Bitch.”

As in: “Oh no, Pablo’s running straight for Dick and Bitch’s house to crap! Stop him!”

Anyway, what fuels life for Dick and Bitch is one part Miller Lite, one part cigarettes and one part bitterness. Bitch is the kinda lady who gets home from her job (she’s probably, like, the manager of Service or Parts at a car dealership, and you can just imagine her being a stickler about rules and everyone counting down the days until she retires) and lights a cig and then gets on her cell phone and stomps around her yard watering all her perfect plants. She, like, HATE-waters them, though, because she’s not gliding about her lawn in a relaxed way, sighing and barefoot, but in a way that shows she kind of HATES the plants for requiring all the goddamn water.

Then she goes inside and gets loaded with Dick, who hasn’t had a job in years. He also hasn’t had any teeth in years.

Bitch only then comes outside if one of Sid or Owen’s* wiffleballs lands in her perfect grass. (Which I’m surprised isn’t covered in land-mines.) Then she launches out holding her Miller Lite to bitch her face off.

After Bitch is done, well, BITCHING, Dick sometimes slithers out when he’s fully in his cups to apologize for the missus and Sid and Owen sit there and marvel at how he can speak with no teeth while my brother-in-law Jeff stands in the background and waits for Bitch to come back out so he can tell her what-for. Jeff doesn’t tolerate Bitch’s bitchiness when it comes to his sons.

Anyway, they suck and are fuckfaces but that’s not the story. The story is that Sid fell asleep on the sofa on Superbowl Sunday and was woken up at 4 am by ambulance lights flashing through the window. He looks to see Dick being wheeled out on a stretcher. Then the ambulance beat it and Bitch went and followed it in her car.

(Bitch’s car is a WHITE sport utility vehicle that she washes every week. Of course it is, you’re saying.)

My sister calls me up the next morning.

“Did you hear what happened to Dick and Bitch?” she asks. Then tells me what Sid saw, reports that Bitch and her white SUV have returned home, sans Dick. Then she suggests that Adrian and me should keep our eyes open and see if we can get the scoop. She thinks Dick maybe had a heart attack. I wonder if Bitch just shot him dead.

“But then she would be arrested, right?” my sister asks. “I would have gone over there to ask if he was okay but I don’t know her name.”

I told her that that’s what you get when you’re the Neighborhood Dick & Bitch. Nobody knows your real name or bothers to ask if your husband dropped dead.

The story might end there, with some moral about ‘being neighborly’ and blah. Except, I’m a pretty indifferent neighbor and don’t really do much to foster community beyond the people I know or am already related to. I’m a big fan of benign indifference when it comes to my neighbors and I work at it really hard. Our houses are very close together, you see.

But! Then my extroverted husband was outside shoveling snow and stuff and he somehow ran into Dick, who was miraculously recovered and was also shoveling snow. Of course, Adrian bellied right up to Dick and got the whole story, which was some garbled nonsense about him having a fever and passing out in the bathroom – Huh? How’d That Happen? – and then?


Then he actually discovered their True Names.

*pause for reverential cooing*

Which I will not reveal, lest the universe crack open or Hellboy’s horns grow back to full strength.

*Sid & Owen = nephews, age 17 and 13, respectively

On My Fabled Hermitage

I know I always talk about how hermitty I am. How crowds and strangers bug me. How I wish I lived in the country with no neighbors or in the city with anonymity to protect me from all the skin-crawling social interactions that take place in driveways and yards.

But it’s all a bullshit dream, I think. I don’t think escaping into some Ted Kazcynski hole is the answer for me.

I mean, I teach classes. To people. In person. And I really like it.

Also, I’m inexplicably comfortable when it comes to public speaking.

Plus, how the hell do I ever make note of all these juicy tidbits involved in all the clutter that is Human Nature if I’m not around people?

So I’m here to stay, I guess. On this block, where I know most of my neighbors, who are all good, friendly, nice people that I’ll run into at the grocery or the YMCA or Walgreens. Where I can have a backyard potluck with my friends Amber and Travis with all my leftovers and garden vegetables. Where my sister lives three doors down, a perma-babysitter, for my kid and my dog, both, and with whom we share a lawnmower and snowblower.

Being alone only feels good when it’s a choice. Next time I get all misanthropic, remind me of this.

These Are My Thoughts, Let Me Show You Them

The Grateful Dead is just so gross.

I would like to own approximately 7 new pairs of jeans. One for every day of the week.

Today Matilda was telling me a story and used this phrase: “…and that is just total HOGWASH!”

Adrian smashed open Matilda’s piggy bank and now they’re depositing a million coins.

If someone gave me a bucket of popcorn chicken right now, I would totally eat it.

Goodreads makes me feel upset about all the stuff I want to read and how I have to waste all this time bathing and sleeping and eating and whatever when I could be absorbing all these good stories.

I hate lifting weights because you have to be so close to other people the whole time. Especially giant men who watch themselves in the mirror while they do a million curls. Men who never wash their athletic garments, either. Yuck.

What I want to do for Christmas is watch The Ref with my family and eat shrimp cocktail in my pajamas.

I am avoiding many things that I ought to be attending.