the frenzy.

Hey hi hello this is the frenzy speaking. This is the voice of the frenzy.

What is the frenzy? I don’t really know but it’s how I explain my anxiety sometimes so other people can understand it better and to convey to them that I’m not just “worried” and “everyone worries” and I should “just calm down.” I tried to talk to my boyfriend about it today and he was like “Talk to your mom about it” but Barbara the golden comet chicken died and my dad slipped on ice and hurt his shoulder and my sister is having AN ACTUAL HUMAN BABY so I think my mom is busy right now so I’ll write about it here and talk to you about it. And maybe you’ve felt this too. I hope you have, so you can relate. But I also hope you haven’t, because it’s terrible.

Like there is a frenzy going on inside of my mind and it feels like I have to do everything and can do everything but at the same time I am paralyzed with fear and can’t do anything. I sit here for hours and feel like I’m “doing things” and make a list in my head of all the things I need to do and it freaks me out and makes me more frenzied that I’m not doing them but I just can’t do them.

I just can’t.

My mind will not stop with the frenzy and there is no calming the storm and I have to ride it out. Taking a lot of deep breaths is supposed to help and I guess it does but I’m taking them now as I write this and the frenzy continues, electrifying the tips of my fingers as they sail across my keyboard. As I focus on them I relish the speed at which they move. “I AM DOING THIIIIINGS! THINGS ARE GETTING DONEEEE! COUNT THE WORDS, BABY.”

Unfortunately writing this blog post is not “getting things done” and is completely arbitrary. I try to turn my attention to actual tasks and it bounces back into the frenzy, ricocheting off the corners of my brain again and again, growing more frenzied with each bounce as if my attention and focus will never come to settle anywhere and continue bouncing around forever and ever until I eventually go insane.

I get inspired to google “what does mania feel like?” but I don’t think the definition is this feeling. I’m no doctor but I’ve never been diagnosed as bipolar and the frenzy has been churning my whole life long so I don’t think that’s what this is. Mania seems more productive. I feel like I’m simultaneously doing everything and getting nothing done and it cancels each other out and I sit here neutrally impotent and completely freaked out.

Did I maybe drink too much coffee?

I DON’T KNOW, DID YOU?!

There was a time when I could harness the frenzy and use it as fuel to power anything I set my mind to. My workouts were stronger, my writing was better (at least it seemed better to me), I felt funnier and more fun, all good things. Then the frenzy got tricky and changed in some way and I could no longer make it work for me. And I hate that. It’s super inconvenient.

So for now I will cope with the frenzy and take deep breaths and think about everything and do almost nothing until the frenzy fades away. I’ll see you there.

I wrote this a couple of months ago and forgot about it but I found it today so there ya go. The frenzy continues to churn but not at the same hurricane level that it was churning that day. Whew.

vocal fry, do or die.

Vocal fry and up-talk are a part of our lives. A big part, for some. There’s likely some statistic about how common or uncommon it is and when and how it became common and what your grandma and your parents and your boss and your AP English teacher think about it. I know for sure that there is information out there about how listeners FULLY HATED ON some gals from NPR whose vocals inched too close to fry and whose speaking went up in a way they did not approve of. Because I read it and it pissed me off. Like a lot.

As a little kid I wanted to be a reporter when I grew up. I guess like a “journalist” but I was mostly inspired by April O’Neill, of being-in-the-periphery-of-the-teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles fame. I looked up to her because I was obsessed with the ninja turtles and wanted to date Michelangelo (because he ate pizza and had a skateboard…ughhhh so hot), but also because she was a smart and resourceful gal on the beat and I wanted to BE THAT.

April’s yellow jumpsuit and boots were impeccably fashionable but also functional. She was curious and intelligent and also knew how to have fun, and her camera person followed her dutifully and did every thing she said.

SHE WAS LIVING THE DREAM. Well, A dream. MY dream, to be exact.

As a teenager I attended “shoots” at the MTV Beach House in Seaside Heights one summer and I saw another side of television and another type of job I could aspire to – reality TV and live hosting. And I was like, “This is cool AF let’s do it.”

MTV Beach House, 2002

So then I did. The end.

Just kidding because at 18 years old I started my college career at Rutgers New Brunswick and I was pumped up to be a journalism major. I really still had my big April O’Neil dreams in mind.

Me digging in some sand by the MTV Beach House rocking a (henna!) tramp stamp...2002.

Rutgers provided a liberal arts education so we didn’t get INTO THE THICK OF IT until senior year, when we split up into groups to ostensibly “make television.” We had a great time running around on the banks of the ‘ol Raritan and made a fun video and I was on camera a bit. But it was during this project that I realized I have an “undesirable for news” voice and also an accent.

There were a few other girls/women in my class working with the same set of New Jersey millennial vocal cords and we were told by our well-meaning professor that we would have to “work with a voice coach and/or an ear nose and throat doctor” to achieve the much desired “mid-atlantic” accent and eradicate our nasally tone.

Wow. That seemed like a lot of work. AND I WASN’T GONNA DO IT. NO FREAKIN WAY. I also realized that if I was going to be on camera I would have to think about what I looked like and how much I weighed for the rest of my life and I was fully not on board. I was already sick of the pressure to look “good” in my cheerleading uniform, a pressure I never felt until those last years of college but it was super annoying and I wanted it to go away.

The cheerleading world is, of course, a loyal and historical stronghold of up-talk, so that didn’t really help me either.

So I retreated behind the scenes. And I loved it! It was great. Working in reality TV as a producer was an interesting, fulfilling, and exciting job and I’m glad I did it. I could gain as much weight as I wanted…AND I DID. I’ve eaten burritos in every state and they were all incredible. We can talk about all that another time though.

What I really wanted to say here is that I think it’s ridiculous that you’re expected to change your voice to sound more “credible.” Like, it’s your voice. You’re conveying the same information. It’s fine. I could understand if you weren’t saying things clearly or people couldn’t understand you, but that’s not what this is about.

This is about the fact that there is a certain way that you NEED to be to deliver the news and you NEED to conform or give up. It’s the idea that one sound/tone of voice or type of accent sets another person higher than another; that they’re smarter, more professional and credible…and also more WORTHY. And I really don’t think it’s cool. Perhaps those gals from NPR broke the mold because they ended up on NPR! I mean people got rude about it, but they still got in the door. And that says a lot.

Personally I love accents. LOVE THEM. I love to hear different regional dialects and the different words they have for things and really break down every nuance of vowel, consonant, and sentence structure (or lack thereof). It’s great! I’ve recently started watching Mare of Easttown on HBO and Kate Winslet has MASTERED the Philadelphia/Delaware County accent and it is a BEAUTIFUL THING. It makes the story and her character FULLER and RICHER and is WAY better than if she was just doing a vague “American” accent. I’m really so impressed.

Different types of speech make the world interesting and relatable and amusing and I expect they would do the same for the news. But I did come across a study that was like, “People hate vocal fry,” so maybe I’m wrong.

But maybe I’m NOT and EVERYONE needs to change their perception and stop with this useless value judgement. The tone or sound or accent associated with a person’s voice doesn’t mean anything about how “intelligent” or “trustworthy” or “credible” they are. This is my place to say the things I’m thinking about so there I said it.

And I’m not changing my voice. I will NEVER change my voice. And you shouldn’t either. As long as you have a good vocabulary and you talk about things that are interesting and I can understand you…NO CHANGES NECESSARY. EVEN IF YOU’RE ON NPR. thx.

notable animal residents of jersey city – lincoln park turtles.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything, and it’s been a longer while since I wrote about notable animal residents of Jersey City. So I would like to bring to your attention the Lincoln Park turtles.

YOU GUYS. THESE GOSH DARN TURTLES. HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE THEM?!

I don’t know what kind they are. Don’t ask me what kind they are. Maybe YOU can tell ME what kind they are?

My biggest thing with them is that they live in the middle of Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is an urban park! And it’s a lot of fields of sport and also regular fields and that doesn’t say “turtle,” to me. BUT they do have a seemingly man made (but I don’t know its life) lake/pond/small body of water and THAT is where the turtles of Lincoln Park reside.

Are they always there? Even when it’s cold? The truth is, I don’t know, you guys. I’ve recently been googling “torpor” and what that means for some types of animal pals and I have a feeling turtles are involved in a torpor-like situation once the temperatures drop. I mean, AT THE VERY LEAST, torpor ADJACENT.

JK I think it’s just straight up regular torpor. And if they’re doing what that post says they have been in the lake/pond/small body of water THIS ENTIRE TIME. THEY WINTER AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WATER WHERE THE WATER DOESN’T FREEZE AND THEY GET OXYGEN FROM THE WATER HOLY SHIT.

So that’s where they must go! NOWHERE. So freaking cool!

Either way they’re back now and they are SUNNING THEIR COLD-BLOODED BUNS right there on the cement shores of the Lincoln Park Lake.

AND THEY ARE LOVING IT.

They climb up out of the water to sunbathe AND I GOT A VID OF THE CLIMB TODAY AND IT WAS SO ADORABLE.

It did have this kind of Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High vibe but I’m not mad about it.

Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a TREASURE. Not like in Drop Dead Fred where she is a WIMP who SUCKS for most of the film.

But back to the turtles of Lincoln Park. I’m so happy to see them. I look forward to learning their spring and summer habits as I go to the park at different times of day and communing with them when they’re feeling brave and don’t jump off the cement and back into the water when humans approach. I know children like to commune with the turtles too but the turtles are braver when children aren’t around so do with that what you will.

Stay away from my turtles, kids. Is what I’m saying.

Okay, okay I’m sorry, it’s fine. The turtles of Lincoln Park are notable animal residents of Jersey City and we all deserve to be among them. Go check them out! BUT DO NOT SCARE THEM I WILL BE SO PISSED.

i got covid.

If it seems like I’ve been quiet for the last week or so, it’s because I got covid. Yes, I almost made it a full year and even had an appointment set up for my first dose of the vaccine! But my plans were destroyed because I got covid.

Covid: destroyer of plans forever and ever and the pain will never end.

I’m pretty sure I got covid at the Barge Inn in Jersey City. I’m actually 99.9% sure that I got covid at the Barge Inn in Jersey City. It’s fair to say it’s my fault for going there and removing my mask to drink inside, but it’s also fair to say there were no covid restrictions in place.

Just a friendly neighborhood warning: if you don’t want covid, don’t go to the Barge Inn. Or go after you get vaccinated. Or wear a hazmat suit. Either way, a ton of people told me it was a covid fest over there and I still went. So I got covid.

There’s a certain kind of shame you feel when you get covid, and also a feeling that you lost some kind of game. Like how could you be SO IRRESPONSIBLE as to expose yourself?! What is wrong with you?! There’s a lot of guilt, which kind of pisses me off because it’s socially constructed. A judgement comes down: you failed at protecting your own health, and you are trash.

Take your trash life and hide inside and don’t show your face until you won’t infect the rest of us.

About 2 weeks ago I started to feel a little weird. I went for a run in the morning and I felt extra sweaty and dizzy. It didn’t seem right. I went about my regular business and started work. A few hours into the day, my head was POUNDING and I couldn’t even look at my computer screen. I actually couldn’t even look at my phone screen either, which has never happened.

It seemed like something serious was afoot.

I took the rest of the day off work and tried to sleep it all away, but it didn’t go away. Oh no, it did not. The next day I had the pounding headache again and I also had a fever. The fever made me nervous because I haven’t had a fever for over a decade. I always get the flu shot so I haven’t had the flu in a long time, and I guess I just haven’t had a fever for any other reason. I STAY FEVER FREE.

Except for 2 weeks ago, because I had a fever. I went to get a covid test and I felt awful and I was PISSED because I had JUST MADE my vaccine appointment and I felt pretty sure I got covid and was going to have to cancel it.

I did have to cancel it.

I was pissed.

Once I had the positive test result I had to accept my fate and start the process of hydration, sleeping, and taking the various medicines that this type of illness demands. It was exhausting. Just taking care of myself was a lot of work.

Ugh.

I ended up having a fever for about 3 days and I know this because I obsessively took my temperature until it was normal again. It got up to 100.3 and that was hot enough for me.

I slept and slept and slept, and got very, very sweaty. The sweatiness I really wasn’t expecting, but it was better than having to throw up.

The one good thing about covid is that it does not involve barfing. No barfing at all! At least not for me…but “vomiting” isn’t really on the list of symptoms so I don’t think barfing is involved for anyone sick with covid. Which is good because barfing is completely unbearable and I simply won’t stand for it.

I took two days off work, then it was the weekend and I slept my life away, then I also had to take off Monday. I didn’t have to use any of my vacay days though, BECAUSE THE MAN HAS GRANTED US SPECIAL PAID DAYS OFF FOR COVID. Make sure you look into it! I wasn’t aware and the HR gal at my work came through and let me know, a true heroine of the times.

Once I started to feel better, I promptly lost my taste. I couldn’t taste or smell anything for about a week. It was annoying but helped me not to binge eat since a big part of my binge eating is taste-based. So I didn’t even feel like eating which I NEVER FEEL and it was SO WEIRD and I COULDN’T EVEN STAND IT.

Now that I’ve spent my time convalescing and I’m no longer contagious I have returned to the outdoors and also the gym. The outdoors felt overwhelming at first but I comfortably settled in to enjoy sunshine and flowers and other natural charms we are offered this time of year.

The gym is another story. IT IS SO INCREDIBLY HARD TO WORK OUT. I usually love working out because I’m good at it or at least I FEEL good at it and I love to feel strong and like I can kick anyone’s ass that gives me any kind of problem. Right now I feel so incredibly weak. I can’t lift as much, and I get out of breath easily.

AND I’M PISSED.

It’s a real struggle to make it through the day when I don’t feel like myself. A REAL, TERRIBLE STRUGGLE.

As far as not feeling like myself, covid can also make you depressed or have like, “blues” for a while after. I’m not making this up. Although I will take any and every opportunity to feel depressed and diagnose myself with some kind of mental health crisis, this is science, I swear. So I’ve been dealing with that too, just feeling kind of slow and foggy and not interested in anything.

The other day I told my boyfriend I felt sad because I haven’t been getting excited about anything and that’s not like me, and he said “YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET EXCITED ABOUT EVERYTHING,” and I was like…”I DO.” Like I don’t feel like myself if I’m not excited. If I’m not excited, something is wrong.

And I’m dealing with that.

So, I got covid. It sucked and I’m still depressed and I don’t fully have my taste back. I need to make a vaccine appointment and currently can’t find one so if you have any leads please let me know.

jump rope is hard.

I’m a reasonably fit adult that enjoys working out but I can’t jump rope because jump rope is hard. It is completely impossible for me to do. Which is really frustrating for me! Because it’s good exercise and it definitely seems fun for those that have it figured out.

But jump rope is hard and I can’t do it.

As a kid I loved watching Sesame Street, like most kids. But the main reason I loved Sesame Street was because it had the little live video interludes where it showed kids in cities. City kids! I had a thing for city kids. Even at a young age I was bored as hell in my rural town and I loved everything city related. So if I saw kids in a place with concrete and a lot of buildings and not as many trees as the places I saw every day, I was like OMG CITY KIDS.

One of the things the “city kids” (based on my definition as a 5 year old), did in these interludes was jump rope. And they were so good at it! And they did it as a whole group! With some kids manning the rope and some kids jumping in and my mind was blown. I couldn’t wait to go to real school and have recess and learn to jump rope.

I knew I was gonna kill it.

Obviously I was wrong because I can’t jump rope at all to this day. Because jump rope is hard.

On the playground at recess and during gym class we were given these weird plastic jump ropes that made a loud ass sound when they hit the ground and that made me really nervous. I also realized that jumping up and then throwing a rope under myself at foot level and then jumping up again was a recipe for tripping myself and a guaranteed way to face plant.

I did not want to face plant. That’s the moneymaker, baby.

So I kind of gave up on jump rope after that. I watched others and sometimes flopped around with the rope, especially if it was gym class and they forced me to for a grade. But I no longer felt the excitement I felt while watching the city kids on Sesame Street. The love was gone.

A little later in childhood they came out with SkipIt, which was different than a jump rope but utilized the same skills. Needless to say I was not able to master the SkipIt or even get any reps around. It counted the reps I think? Bossy little thing.

We didn’t have it at our house because I thought it was trash but sometimes I would see a dormant SkipIt in the grass or the garage at a friend’s house and silently project into the universe, “My friend BETTER NOT make me use that SkipIt today because I will be PISSED.”

I think they got the message. My friends knew I was no athlete and I just wanted to play dress up and create elaborate historical narratives. I mean come on.

Later in high school when I WAS an actual athlete, I still could not jump rope. During this time time I was practicing cheerleading 6 days a week and had a competition or game on the 7th day. It was a lot. My body was very strong and in constant motion. I also didn’t drink so my fuel was relatively pure if you overlook my constant intake of bagels, spaghetti-o’s, and Oreos.

I still could not jump rope. And if they made us at cheerleading practice as part of conditioning I was PISSED.

Stuff I can’t do really pisses me off.

Jump rope didn’t really cross my mind again until a couple of years ago when it came up at the gym one day during a cardio song. They were like “Grab your jump ropes! Yay!” And I was like, “Not yay but okay.”

I struggled through this part of the class while mostly everyone else casually and expertly and happily jumped rope. This was fun and nostalgic for them! They remembered the happy times on the playground!

Those times did not come to my mind. I just struggled and got more pissed and gave up and just jumped up and down while holding the rope and hoped no one would notice.

The jump rope came up again at the gym this morning and I think I handled it a little better. I just did my own personal jump rope move that involves hopping over one foot at a time and tried to focus on not tripping and falling on my face and dying.

Because that DOES happen.

It’s possible I could learn how to do it, I guess. I do think people can learn new things as they get older. I like to think there’s not a cap on that. Even physical things! But within reason, like I’m not going to be able to teach my peers to do backflips because that time has passed. But jump rope seems like a reasonable and possible thing to learn if I tried hard enough, had a good teacher, and put in the reps/took the time to do it.

Maybe I’ll try.

Maybe.

At some point in the history of time I knew a guy that told me he went to a pier to jump rope on his breaks from working at a bar in Manhattan. This really charmed me for some reason. I guess I really admired his skill since I don’t have that skill.

Of course I never SAW him jump rope, I just assumed he had to be good at it if he was enjoying it on a pier in his free time.

As with everything, I created a story of him in my mind and defined him solely by my perception of him and I need to stop doing that and I’m sorry. But I pictured a pier in the Hudson River in front of the Manhattan skyline and the sun was setting and it was summer, and there he was, a city kid grinning and jumping rope in the golden light.

PS I’m unclear on the grammar/verb/sentence structure of this activity and was unsure if it was “jump rope” or “jumping rope” or whatever and I’m sorry.

first day of spring 2021.

YOU GUYS, it’s the first day of spring 2021. This feels like a really big day. A really important day. I’m not sure why but I’d like to explore it here.

Last year, the year 2020, we did not have a spring. We were trapped inside for WEEKS. We could go for walks but we couldn’t go outside for too long and we couldn’t GO ANYWHERE. Last spring was really, really hard. Everyone really, really hated it. Okay, you get it.

I remember going to Target one day last spring, it was the only place I felt I could go that was fun but also a grocery store. Because we weren’t supposed to go to fun places. We weren’t welcome there.

JK because fun places WERE NOT EVEN OPEN. THERE WAS NOWHERE TO GO. TARGET WAS ALL THAT I HAD.

So anyway I went there and the last time I had been there the trees had been bare but then this particular time they had flowers and I realized in this moment that all of my fav spring trees around the town were currently flowering AND I WAS MISSING IT.

This is from April 2020. Knife in my heart.

And then I cried. Just cried right there in front of Target, waiting in line for my turn to go inside wearing a mask and feeling weird and sad about everything.

Flowering trees are important to me.

But more than that, spring is important to me and I think spring 2021 is going to make up for last spring and also be its own spring and we’re going to have a great time.

We’ve already figured out some safe ways to do fun shit and in some ways the fun shit is more fun than before. for example, I LOVE SITTING OUTSIDE. I want to sit outside and eat every day forever and ever, amen. It brings me so much joy and I’m glad it kind of became a year-round thing even here in the northeast.

Let’s keep it! CAN WE PLZ KEEP IT.

It’s also now normal to meet up in parks in a big group as a social event. Maybe that was normal for some people in the before times but for me personally it wasn’t something I saw happen often. I guess for folks without kids it was more like “let’s do drunk brunch at a restaurant establishment.” But now ALL people are into drunk brunch BYOB picnic in the park type events and I am HERE FOR IT, as they say.

We have so many options for fun and safe things to do this spring and our cups runneth over and again it brings a tear to my eye. I can’t wait to get out there and greedily drink in everything this spring has to offer.

It’s going to be double spring so bring your allergy medicine and rain boots and baby chickens and I’ll see you there.

*I wrote this on Saturday 3/20. I know THAT was the first day of spring and not today. Thx.

madame claude at white eagle hall.

During Normal Times™️ White Eagle Hall was a fun, fab, fantastic place to see live music in Jersey City. I saw some of my most favs there: Best Coast, Waxahatchee, The Black Lips. LIFE WAS GOOD.

Life isn’t that good now but we DO have the option of dining at Madame Claude AT White Eagle Hall and I think that’s pretty great, you guys.

We can eat food and drink drinks AND hear live music! The folks playing the music walk around and play the music! We can be inside this really cool historic building that I actually really, REALLY missed and have a great night!

Last night we really had a great night.

I had a TON of La vie en rose cocktails. Definitely lost count but it was a ton.

A TON.

The La vie en rose cocktail has lychee and vodka and some other stuff but I was mostly in it for the lychee. And the lychee was in it for ME.

We had a charcuterie board as an appetizer. Because we do what we must.

For my entree I chose the salmon. IT WAS INCRED. GET THE SALMON YOU GUYS.

They were kind enough to allow us to outsource dessert because it was my friend’s bday. Like they let her bring in a tray of banana pudding from baonanas and a delicious cake. The birthday desserts were EXCEPTIONAL and I was glad we got to have them.

All night the band played jazzy music on stage and it set a wonderful mood.

It was a great choice of birthday venue for my pal and I’d love to go back.

The end.

i love a casserole.

I love a casserole, is that wrong? If it’s wrong I don’t wanna be right. I love it. Just throw all that shit in there together and bake it up. Boom. Food for days. You wanna talk about “meal prep”? This is meal prep INCARNATE. Midwestern grandmas have been meal prepping since at least 1907.

Tuna casserole, green bean casserole, and egg/breakfast casserole (I recently made one WITH GRITS) have obviously always been my favorites. But the appeal of a casserole goes beyond the shine of the MVPs in its category. The beauty of a casserole comes from its simplicity, the ease with which it can be prepared, the fact that you bake it inside the oven where the heat is safely kept away from you instead of cooking it over an open flame, and its ability to last as multiple delicious meals for at least a week.

A breakfast casserole I made recently. WITH GRITS.

The ingredients are simple! Just a couple of things! Most of them you don’t even have to prepare, YOU JUST THROW THEM IN. “Just throwing things in” is incredibly appealing to me. I hate cooking. It’s not fun or relaxing and by the time it’s ready I want to take a nap and I’m not in the right state of mind to even enjoy eating what I’ve just slaved over and gone out of my way to prepare. But casseroles help ease that feeling of disgust and aversion toward cooking. They’re like, “Hello friend! I am simple! JUST THROW THAT SHIT IN AND I WILL DO THE REST.”

Thank you, casseroles.

In addition to hating cooking overall, I am terrified of fire and extreme heat in any form. Fire KILLS people, destroys property, and is an ever-present danger that has been lurking around every corner waiting to claim us and everything we love since the beginning of time. I live in constant fear of the perils of fire and I’m not sorry.

Baking is okay, because the heat is contained in the oven. I still get scared and often do get small burns when I have to take things in and out, but the cumulative exposure to fire during a baking sesh is way less.

AND CASSEROLES ARE BAKED.

Most importantly, when you make a casserole it contains many servings! Like usually at least 6 or 8, if I have any idea of the math of it. Which like, don’t quote me on that. But it’s great that you just have to cook ONE TIME and you get enough food for MULTIPLE TIMES so later in your week or month or life when you really, REALLY don’t feel like cooking anything you can whip out the casserole to save the day.

Last year I made “Amy’s Hot Dish” when Amy Klobuchar was in the presidential race because I saw it on some website and I wanted to try it. I had never eaten or even heard of “hot dish” before so it was an exciting anthropological moment for me. There is some debate about “hot dish” vs “casserole” and what each one means but in the end they’re essentially the same in that they are both AMAZING. It’s worth noting that the sacred ancestral food of my forebears and the great and powerful Garfield, lasagna, is also a casserole.

Yes, it’s a casserole, calm down.

It’s some delicious shit all mixed together and congealed into a rectangular shape that yields multiple servings.

And I love a casserole.

listening is hard.

I’d just like to express an idea, and maybe some of you will be able to relate, but listening is hard. Listening is like, really, REALLY hard. I honestly have a really terribly hard time with it.

I am not a natural listener. I am naturally inquisitive, and I love to ask a ton of questions and I love finding out new information a ton more. But parsing through what I’m listening to in order to glean that information is quite difficult for me.

It could be because I’m deaf in one ear, and I do think that has a lot to do with it. But I also think it has to do with the way my brain works. In that naturally I am one of those much maligned “waiting for their turn to talk” people. OMG the WORST people. I am one. Hi, hello.

Talking is easy! Talking COMES easy. It’s very easy to find something to talk about. It’s very, VERY easy to find something to say in response to something someone else says. Opinions! I love them!

Well, I love mine.

For a long time I told very, VERY long stories. I think they’re still pretty long but either way they are now shorter than they were before. Because I had to take a long, hard look at how I communicate and I saw I was kind of being a dick. And a really boring one. The most boring kind, someone who tells long stories that never, ever end and everyone listening wants to escape and they don’t know how to do it without seeming mean.

And I’m SORRY. I’m sorry I put some of you in that position, and I hope I’m doing better. It’s something I work on! But I also work on being an “active listener.”

I read about “active listening” once and I was like wow that sounds like a great thing that I am 100% NOT doing so I’m going to start trying it. And I did! And I have seen improvement in my listening skills, since I started working on them. But that doesn’t mean listening isn’t still hard.

BECAUSE LISTENING IS SO HARD.

You have to use your entire brain, YOUR ENTIRE BEING, to really give someone your full attention in the most respectful and appropriate way. And I’ll do it. Yes, I will do that for you. But I will be very tired at the end.

Recently I was out and about and suddenly I got very tired and couldn’t stand to be out among people for another second. I really just had to leave, I couldn’t take it anymore. And when I asked myself why I was so tired, I realized I was tired of listening. IT WAS EXHAUSTING. And I don’t think we should be expected to do it all the time. Or at least we should get some breaks from listening at that level. Because it’s a lot to deal with.

Now that I think about it, this is what happens every time I’m out and about. I will always end up reaching a saturation point where I can no longer listen to another word another person says. I need to leave. I need to leave FAST. Because listening is hard and I can’t do it anymore.

So the next time we’re hanging out and I all of a sudden have to go, it’s not you. Well actually in a way it IS you, but it’s my fault in that I no longer have the capacity to listen to what you’re saying. My ears are full, my head is full, and I need to go home and sit in blissful silence and stare into sweet nothingness to recharge. I’ll catch you next time.

humane mouse trap.

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about my humane mouse trap. I set it a couple of weeks ago and finally caught a mouse this morning. It seems like there’s a certain amount of staking out the area that the mice do so it didn’t work right away. But it worked now because here is the mouse!

This mouse…IS SO INCREDIBLY CUTE, you guys. I can’t even look at him. It brought tears to my eyes to see how big his little ears are compared to his little body. His big-little ears? Either way, THE EARS.

And I forgot how very tiny mice are up close. Just so so delicate with tiny little feet and eyes and whiskers. I’m going to cry again ugh.

We started having a “mouse problem” a couple of months ago. They kind of just hung out a little at first and I would see them run along the wall sometimes early in the morning and I’d be like “haha mouse!” But I honestly didn’t really care because I looked around and cleaned and they hadn’t made a mess or any trouble anywhere so it didn’t seem like a big deal.

But about a month ago some mice ate a WHOLE LOAF of wheat bread on the counter. Like they didn’t eat the entire thing but they started at both ends and tunneled through it. They had a FEAST and they met in the middle and probably had sex on it. That’s expected behavior. And they also BROKE INTO a box of coconut Belvitas and chewed up some and took some to go and left them strewn about.

Although I’m not afraid of mice and I think they’re adorable and actually enjoy their company, I do know that they’re filled with terrifying bacteria and germs due to their life on and under the ground and inside of walls and among garbage. Like you can get pretty sick from a mouse or stuff that lives on a mouse and that’s not ideal.

So the fact that they had infiltrated the apartment’s food supply led me to order some traps online.

These mice lost their little rodent minds and normally it wouldn’t bother me too much BUT THEY MESSED WITH MY FOOD AND NO ONE MESSES WITH MY FOOD.

I know mice have to eat too, I get it. But I don’t want them to eat my food that I have not offered to them. They broke the rules and are being bad friends so they gotta go.

But I cannot BEAR to see a dead animal in my home under any circumstances and it’s simply not good for my mental health to set a TRAP OF DEATH rigged with a TRICK SNACK so that another LIVING BEING can go to try to eat the snack and get its NECK BROKEN.

I just CANNOT be the cause of that.

If it gets eaten by a cat, fine. That’s the circle of life. A hawk, even better. EVEN MORE BADASS.

Do you know what’s NOT badass? Tricking them into death. I won’t stand for it. I can’t do it. I’m going to barf just thinking about it.

I’m sorry.

So the humane trap! I ordered some! I set one up! First I put peanut butter in as bait and no mice came by. After a week I tried more peanut butter. Still no customers.

Then I got an idea! Belvitas! They loved those and even tried to carry them away! Let’s get em!

During this same time period I also put all foods present in the apartment inside air tight plastic bins, which is what I’ve done to get rid of mice in the past and it’s always worked. Now that I’ve caught this mouse maybe I should just stop trying to lure more here and stick to the plastic bin thing? I’m not sure. Because one did not show up for literally weeks.

But eventually, this guy came to visit and I trapped him, safely AND HUMANELY. I studied him for a moment and looked up some facts. He was a house mouse. That’s an actual species of mouse. They can breed at 1 month old, have a gestation period of 21 days, and litters of 5 or 6 babies…and they can have a litter of UP TO 14.

This is why they are snacks for other animals. Like rabbits and other rodents, THERE ARE SO MANY AND THEY QUICKLY MAKE MORE. Their whole community is essentially a bag of chips. Or maybe like a box of donuts. I guess it depends on how big the predator is.

I also learned that they only live 16-18 months, which is interesting and kind of made me sad.

I vowed that I would make sure this mouse lived his best life. Or something like that. Basically I just carried him a little over a mile from my house and released him in a large, vacant grassy lot. I think the best idea would have been to bring him to Lincoln Park but it takes me 15 mins to walk over there and I had other shit to do so I dropped him on my way.

He ran right into the road and under a blue minivan, because no good deed goes unpunished. But then he came out on the other side and dove safely into a gutter. He was on his way!

I’m pleased with the results of the humane mouse trap and would use it again. WILL use it again if I notice other mice poking around and eating my food that I DID NOT OFFER THEM.

Mice aren’t ideal to have inside your home but they’re very cute so I forgive them. It’s always fun and exciting to see local wildlife so I’m still riding high from this morning’s encounter.

HOUSE MOUSE!