Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Who Wore it Best? Melania or Your Lady Junk?

What's new, Pussycat? Melania Trump and Your Vagina made powerful cases for dressing like a bearded clam as both ditched predictable little black cocktail dresses for separate events today.

Melania, 48, continued her slog as embittered arm candy to a fascist cantaloupe in New York City, wearing a much more Georgia O'Keefe-inspired look than the slew of safari jackets and stilettos she’s been spotted in during her whirlwind tour of the not-caused-by-climate-change-hurricane-ravaged Texas. 

The FLOTUS, who looks chronically miserable even when dressed as an engorged vajazzle, chose a bright pink labial ensemble by Giorgio Punani, teamed with a landing strip of bleached pubes and Jimmy Choo Lucy 100 pumps.

In the lobby of Trump Tower, Melania stared vacantly into space, contorted her face into a rictus of pain, and slapped Cheeto Satan's hand away, cringing in repulsion at the man she calls her husband and President of the United States. 

"Get me out of here," she whispered. "I didn't sign on for this shit. No seriously, no amount of jewelry and private jets is worth this shit show."

Meanwhile, down in your pants, Your Vagina, 40, hosted the opening of a toilet seat as you went to go pee and then just sat there "reading" on your phone, long after your bladder was empty, simply so no one would bother you. The Part of Your Anatomy and Source of All Life wore an unflattering style of almost Granny-panties with pubes coming out two three sides like some kind of fucking animal.

So, tell O.H.M.: Which suits your taste better, Melania or Your Lady Junk?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

No, I am Not "Curious About My Body Composition"

Today I received an offer from my health insurance inviting me to measure my body fat percentage and asking if I was "curious about [my] body composition."

The answer is no. No, I'm not.  Not even "Christy" my "onsite health coach" can pique my curiosity about this or get me excited about "setting goals for progress."

Like why would I go out of my way to spend my lunch hour just so Christy can put a number on my laziness? 

Here are 10 things I'm more curious about than my body composition:

1. What it feels like to put my finger in an electric socket.

2. The much-debated actual size of Donald Trump's peen.

3. What's on page 1,456 of the annotated tax code.

4. What happens if you drink a whole bottle of Sriracha.

5. If Bernie really would have won.

6. My aunt's most recent comment on Facebook.

7. The names and addresses of every person who hates me.

8. If my kids will ever stop fighting with each other.

9. What my head would look like if I shaved all my hair off tomorrow.

10. Christy's body fat percentage.

Monday, September 18, 2017

20 Things Bernie Would Have Done

1. Bernie would have stopped Hurricane Harvey from making landfall.

2. Bernie would have made pepperoni pizza have no calories.

3. Bernie would have wiped out all my library fines.

4. Bernie would have made my IRS refund arrive on time.

5. Bernie would have made every woman not have period cramps.

6. Bernie would have made me parallel park in a tight space on the first try every time.

7. Bernie would have made Kim Jong-Un (aka Rocket Man) solve global warming and turn North Korea into the world's chief exporter of weed.

8. Bernie would have made unicorn poo an alternative biofuel that would have replaced petroleum by 2020.

9. Bernie would have made that earthquake in Mexico a 3.5 instead of an 8.

10. Bernie would have made my kids stop singing Despacito, especially the remix version feat. Justin Bieber.

11. Bernie would have made the check engine light on my car stop coming on for no reason.

12. Bernie would have gotten me free tickets to see Coldplay.

13. Bernie would have made my kids' rooms not be shit holes anymore.

14. Bernie would have gone back in time and diverted the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs so that dinosaurs would never have gone extinct and we could have a real life Jurassic Park.

15. Bernie would have made my boobs perky and given me six pack abs without doing any exercise.

16. Bernie would have made me fluent in 10 languages and shred guitar better than Eddie Van Halen thus turning me into an instant YouTube sensation.

17. Bernie would have written a memoir with a better title than "What Happened," maybe like "Shit Happens."

18. Bernie would have helped me to better see the value in composting all my disgusting coffee grounds and banana peels. Same with washing ZipLocs.

19. Bernie would have washed all my ZipLocs.

20. Bernie would have made all my socks come out of the laundry in perfectly matched up pairs.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Mnuchin Paradox

My parents sent me to private school in first grade for one reason, and one reason only: They wanted me to learn. 

They felt I couldn't or wouldn't do that in the pre-gentrified New York City public school system, with its cinderblock walls and overcrowded classrooms and middling standards of achievement. I was hyperactive and defiant and restless. I wouldn't sit still. I would fall through the cracks.

They could afford (not easily) to send me to a school that would teach me how to deconstruct Shakespeare and solder stained glass and write a term paper in French and conduct chemistry experiments with shiny new lab equipment.

This was no Harvard tuition then, as it is now; but it was still a hefty chunk of change for a book editor and a public health doctor to part with.

I could not have wandered the manicured lawns of Riverdale Country School had my mother stayed home in bed on Park Avenue or in her "country house," as many of the bejeweled wives of Wall Street tycoons and surgeons seemed to do. A working mother at RCS in the 80s and even the early 90s was an anomaly--a curiosity almost to be pitied.

I tried to win the approval of their children, which sometimes briefly worked but never lasted, because the value of human connection here was measured mostly in dollars, something my parents naively failed to anticipate in enrolling me there.

My self-esteem diminished but regained some traction as I gravitated toward classmates of more modest means. Other plain-apartment-dwelling, one-home-having children from my neighborhood whose parents were making a steep financial investment in their education. 

Children of color, first generation kids from immigrant families who were vessels for their parents' hopes and faith in the American Dream. Kids whose sheer drive and intellect and hard work and sacrificed summers had earned them tuition-free access to this academic paradise and all the doors it unlocked amid the elms of Ivy League colleges and the limitless world beyond.

By early high school, I'd given up completely on trying to ingratiate myself with the rich and famous who drove BMWs at 90 miles an hour up the West Side Highway to school each morning or who were deposited there in private town cars with tinted windows.

I cultivated a genuine indifference to the lavish weekend parties in nightclubs and cavernous Upper Manhattan brownstones, bereft of responsible adults and attended by notorious rich kids from other private schools around the city who smoked cigarettes and had sex in the shower.

Ironically, my indifference led to new uneasy kinships with some of the kids who had maybe on some level begun to mature and question the value of their own popularity.

I put my head down and studied hard and played sports. I dutifully gained early admission to an Ivy League School, the plan all along and the only reason I had tolerated this place: for my parents' goals and for my own. If there'd ever been any daylight between the two, I couldn't see it. My classmates chose me (me?!) to speak at graduation?! My college-aged boyfriend from the west coast, whom I loved, was there to see me walk across the stage.

These boys with their smooth cologned faces and floppy hair and Ralph Lauren button down shirts thought they were too cool for me? What a joke. No. FUCK that. I was too cool for them, and I rolled my eyes behind their backs. Because I dated men, not boys. I didn't want them and I certainly didn't need them, and the feeling could not have been more mutual.

I knew I would finish college and bide my time until I could escape this world and I did. I wanted to go somewhere where no one cared about your income or your academic pedigree. 

Most of all, I wanted to spare my own kids the indignity of trying to maintain material standards that I was perhaps able--but would never be willing--to help them meet. Standards which, at the time, RCS couldn't help but encourage.

The adults there didn't meaningfully interfere with bullying or the social Darwinism that characterized every brush in the hallways. None of this "whole child" building "empathy" and "community," as seems to be in vogue now. It was more "nice guys finish last" and less "we're all on a journey of kinship as world citizens."

I had no feelings of loyalty for this institution then, and I certainly don't have any now. I was (and am) deeply grateful for the top-notch education I received there for its own sake, and to the wonderful teachers and coaches who gave it to me.

That's it. Full stop. End of story. En fin. Exeunt.

So I sort of raised a brow when I saw on Facebook and then read in the New York Times that former students of the school had written to Steve Mnuchin, Trump's treasury secretary and husband to vacuous she-demon Louise Linton, who berated an Oregon mom on Instagram for being a lowly plebe while flying to her own European honeymoon on a government plane.

The RCS letter, like the one from his Yale classmates, implored their fellow alum to condemn white supremacy and resign honorably from his post.

I admire the spirit of this letter and the good intentions of the 185 people who'd signed it, some of them friends of mine. But the idea that "equity, social justice, and doing the right thing" were somehow endemic values of RCS--especially in the uber-materialistic 1980s when Steve Mnuchin went there--is a bit daft.

Because we shouldn't kid ourselves.

Money--having it, making it, and keeping it--was, is, and always will be a top value of these elite prep schools, including RCS.

That's why Steve Mnuchin is in the White House. To make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, for rich people like himself. To perpetuate and protect the corporate-owned shell of a democracy we now have and will continue to have. That is, unless and until we are honest with ourselves about income inequality and the havoc that our slavish devotion to free market capitalism has wrought over the past 40 years, up to and including a generation of prescription heroin addicts and a burning, drowning planet.

So we can plead with Steve Mnuchin all we want, but shaming him over his silence about Charlottesville is futile. It's a "distraction," he said. 

Of course it is.

It's a distraction from the only thing that matters and the only thing that ever mattered to Steve Mnuchin and plenty of other people too. Just like his boss, he is shameless and beyond reproach in his pursuit of money.

Let's not pretend he didn't learn it in school.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

London Fatberg Demolition Might Literally be the World's Worst Job

Okay, so I've worked a lot of jobs in my life. I'm proud to say that with the exception of a few years in school, I haven't gone without an honest day's pay since I was 17. I've also grumbled under my breath and sometimes out loud about certain jobs, but without a doubt, "London Fatberg Demolition" is the worst job on earth.

The "Whitechapel Fatberg" is a "mass of fat, wipes, diapers and tampons that weighs more than 140 tons." Oh and condoms. There are also condoms in there, just because that was the very last thing the people of London could think to put down the toilet as a contribution. It's clogging up London's antiquated sewer system and will need to be somehow dissolved.

The man you see before you is identified in the article as a Thames Sewer supervisor, part of an 8-member team of people who will chisel away at the Fatberg manually using pressure hoses and hand tools over the course of three weeks. The Fatberg, it's said, smells like a combination of shit and rotten meat.

Can you imagine going into work one day to find out this will be your duty (er, doody) for the next three weeks? Like here's what that meeting must have sounded like from the head of sewers in London or whatever:

"G'day blokes! I, ah, I've got a mite of bad news, I'm afraid. You see, there's ah, well, how shall I put this? There's round about 140 tons of grease, wipes, diapers, tampons, and condoms--all used I'm sorry to say--amassed in a giant, er, how best might I say this? A Fatberg? And do forgive me if I sound daft but we'll all be descending down a hole you see, with these hand shovels and hoses, and well, we'll be sort of, um, hacking away at it by hand until all 140 bloody tons are gone."


Friday, September 15, 2017

Packing & To Do List for the Far Right Festival in Berkeley


1. Lit Tiki Torch
2. Pleated Khakis
3. #MAGA Hat
4. White Polo Shirt
5. "Free Julian Assange" Banner
6. Roofies to Drug the Girls Who Friendzoned You
7. Contact Info for All Your 4Chan Peeps
8. Organic Whole Milk
9. Confederate Flag
10. Toothpaste?


1. Remind Mom to Lock Basement
2. Feed Snake & Gerbil
3. Log Out of World of Warcraft
4. Suspend all Sense of Irony and Credulity
5. Rub One Out to Anne Coulter's Face to Get it Out of Your System in Case You Run Into Her and Get Lucky
6. Come Up With Alibi for When You Get Outed to Your Boss at H&R Block
7. Double-Check Wanted Status with FBI
8. Resolve Outstanding Stalking Warrant
9. Pay Back Child Support
10. Forget #9

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Baby Parts, Slaveowners, Nazis, "Jew Haters": Let's Talk About FreeSpeech for a Minute

Yesterday, I heard an ad on a commercial top-40 radio station here in Juneau during rush hour that was pretty shocking in terms of its content. It was sponsored by "Life Issues for Juneau" (or a similar name) and it was, I think (?) encouraging people not to buy Cecile Richards' forthcoming memoir.

Cecile Richards is the President of Planned Parenthood, an essential provider of women's health care services here in Juneau and around the country. But the ad took sort of a meandering, lunatic turn into ad-hominem attacks on Cecile Richards herself that made no sense and had nothing to do with abortion policy at all really.

It compared Cecile Richards to a Nazi death camp guard and a slave owner. It peddled the Alex Jones-level conspiracy theory that Planned Parenthood "sells baby parts," a lie that led to a criminal indictment of the people who spread it.

Although I am unapologetically pro-choice and I think people should have access to safe and legal abortion, I have never had an abortion and I wouldn't personally be able to go through with an abortion at this point in my life. 

I also think people are fully entitled to their objections--religious or otherwise--to abortion, and even to voice those objections on the radio if they want to without drawing public shock or ire. 

But conscientious objection can quickly shed all credibility amid lies and nonsense. Comparing Cecile Richards to a Nazi and a slave-owner and peddling an absolute outrageous lie that actually led to criminal charges?

Not so much. 

Facebook ran into a similar issue, as reported today by ProPublica. The gist of the story can be gleaned from the first few paragraphs:
Want to market Nazi memorabilia, or recruit marchers for a far-right rally? Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform had the right audience for you.

Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.'" 
To test if these ad categories were real, we paid $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” — in which a ProPublica article or post was displayed in their news feeds. Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes. 
After we contacted Facebook, it removed the anti-Semitic categories — which were created by an algorithm rather than by people — and said it would explore ways to fix the problem, such as limiting the number of categories available or scrutinizing them before they are displayed to buyers.
I guess this was good/bad news for me and my Jewish family?

This brings me to a point about the First Amendment. The "First Amendment" and "Free Speech" are terms that get brandished like some sort of constitutional talisman. People think they mean you can say whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want.

They don't. 

I spend a lot of time with both the state and federal constitutions. Like I read them often. And one thing the First Amendment requires is state action, which is true of the rest of the constitution too. The constitution restricts the conduct of the government. Not, as far as I'm aware, private media corporations like KINY radio or Facebook. 

This is known as the "state-action doctrine." It's con law 101.

And even the government is allowed to impose certain "time, place, and manner" restrictions on free speech. In other words, even the First Amendment has its limits.

First Amendment scholars have been studying the blurring line between the private and public spheres and its impact on the state action doctrine, an ever-shifting goalpost given our changing media climate and developing technology. 

The extent to which private companies that operate in a public forum might become increasingly subject to First Amendment strictures is sort of uncharted waters as far as I can tell, and certainly the subject of a lot of academic study and discussion.

But for now, absent some sort of government nexus, the First Amendment generally doesn't apply to private entities.

It boils down to this. 

Privately-owned radio stations and media companies can usually decide what ads they want to run or not run. Since corporations make the world go 'round, maybe they can do the rest of us plebes a favor and quit subjecting us to prime-time bullshit conspiracy theories and Nazi propaganda? 

Like do my kids need to hear some anonymous guy compare a professional woman--one who runs the most comprehensive women's health organization in America--to Nazi guards and slave owners? Do they need to hear bullshit lies about baby parts? Do they need that with their Katy Perry and their Taylor Swift? Do Facebook users need to be able to advertise to Nazis?

Probably not. They can probably skip all of that in good taste and in good conscience, without being reasonably criticized as "thought police" or risk descending down some slippery slope into fascist censorship.

That's really all I'm saying.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

American Girl Now Has a Bernie Bro Doll

The only good thing that ever shows up in my mailbox is the American Girl Doll catalogue. Everything else is bills, credit card offers, and pleas from politicians for money. For the most part, my mailbox is just a bucket I go to each day to remove some papers and put them in a different bucket. It's sort of a bizarre ritual that no one seems to question the ongoing necessity for.

But the American Girl Doll catalogue is the BEST because it is invariably hilarious. These dolls have cocoa stands and braces and trundle beds and novel-style life stories in this expensive, elaborate, and oddly compelling consumerist toy universe.

I opened my mailbox yesterday and was like YAAAASSSS KWEEEEEEEEN!! The American Girl Doll catalogue was here and I was stoked because the very first boy American Girl doll is a Bernie Bro named Logan Everett.

LOGAN EVERETT YOU GUYS. Check out the summary of his story as told in "Logan Takes the Stage," the third (!!) novel starring him and his Taylor Swift-alike:
In this third novel, Tenney has signed a recording contract and is ready to make the album of her dreams—she just wishes she didn’t have to do it with moody Logan Everett! They’re supposed to be songwriting partners, but Logan doesn't even seem to be trying. Just when it looks like they’ve found their harmony, Logan suddenly disappears, and Tenney wonders if he has bailed on their act. A couple of months ago, Tenney would have gladly taken the opportunity to go solo. But as she learns more of Logan’s story, she begins to wonder: Do she and Logan need each other—and their music—now more than ever before?
HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This is so amazing! I'm starting an American Girl Doll book club today and this will be our first assignment! It's okay, I've heard you can read them out of order and won't get lost if you skip "Tenney" and/or "Tenney in the Key of Friendship."

Logan looks like he just got friend-zoned by the girl who stole the band he started. As Jack Black sang in School of Rock, "HOW CAN SHE KICK ME OUT, OF WHAT IS MIIIIIIIEEEEEENNNEE?"

I haven't looked at all the accessories Bernie Bro Logan comes with, but I am guessing that for the sake of authenticity he at least needs to come with the following:

--Pour-over coffee setup & stovetop espresso maker
--Allllllllll the Bernie merch, including Feel the Bern bumper sticker magnets on his Leaf
--100 different troll accounts all over the internet
--Vast collection of trucker hats
--A bangin' Insta

I want to write the next novel starring Logan Everett and I will call it "Tenney Maybe Ghosts Logan." This is the summary:
In this fourth novel, Tenney is sick of late-night drunken bootie calls and flirty texts like "hey wyd." She just wants to get on with her life. She and Logan just finished their album, but he kept talking about the Man the whole time they were in the studio and wasn't even a very good drummer. They're supposed to be songwriting partners, but somehow she wrote all the songs and his name was the only one in the credits! Just when it looks like she's never going to get ahead, her album hits Platinum. She works harder than anyone in the band yet the whole crew thinks she's a bitch and somehow Logan still makes more money than her. A couple of months ago, Tenney would have gladly taken the opportunity to go solo, and now she knows she should. She begins to wonder: Should she ghost Logan? Is Tenney ready to sling her guitar over her shoulder and swipe-delete Logan from her life forever?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Coincidence? Or Mysteriously Linked?!

When I was a wee lass, my most favorite book (now out of print, I think) was called Monsters, Myths, and Mysteries

It was a beautifully-illustrated collection of short and easily digestible entries about stuff like the Sphinx, the Chupacabra, and the ancient twin cities of Pompei and Herculaneum buried in volcanic ash by Mt. Vesuvius erupting. I read this book so many times it literally crumbled to dust, and each true-ish story ended with this haunting question: 

"Coincidence? Or mysteriously linked?"

That's the same question I asked myself yesterday, when the internet and Divine Providence delivered the only two pieces of news that could possibly have cheered me or mitigated my annual 9/11-related PTSD.

(1) That sex robots will soon be capable of murder; and (2) that Ted Cruz faved boring porn on Twitter and got dragged to hell and back for it!

Now I'm no Alex Jones Infowars conspiracy theorist, but I HAVE to believe (or want to) that these two things are somehow connected because really, what are the odds?

A smug, hypocritical, and universally-reviled self-righteous boy-Cabbage Patch Kid's twitter "account" "accidentally" faves the most basic porn EV-ER (regular looking white dude bones blonde chick doggie style while other blonde chick secretly watches and masturbates).

His "office" then launches an "investigation" into whatever "staffer" was doing the thing that for some inexplicable reason no one with a peen can resist self-destructively doing at work: looking at porn. 
On 9/11, of all holy days!

At the very same time, the world learns that sex robots will soon be capable of murder.

This is where I'm forced to ask myself if this is a coincidence or mysteriously linked, and of course I am going to answer that question right now.

This is no coincidence. I submit to you that there is obviously a mysterious linkage between Ted Cruz's secret boring porn fetish, and sex robots soon becoming capable of exacting revenge on their sentient human overlords.

One look at Ted Cruz, and it's clear that the man's right hand is the only living organism that would ever willingly come into contact with his genitalia. 

Enter the sex robot (so to speak).

Since the only orificies (orifi?) Ted Cruz has consent to access are made of silicone, the sex robot community took a keen interest and would be marginalized no more. You see, anyone with $10,000-100,000 (model depending) to spare can go out and buy a sex robot, so such robots have historically served at the pleasure and whim of their owners.

No more. It was time to fight back. 

Even robots need to be able to defend themselves against Ted Cruz's repellent dry-humping. 

And so it was decided by the arbiters of tech-related sexual justice and equality that sex robots would soon gain the capacity to do exactly that.


Clearly the latter, for a just and loving God would have it no other way.

Monday, September 11, 2017

An Honest Return to Social Media

Here's what it would sound like if people actually returned to social media the way they leave it.

Oh heeeyyyy. Remember me? I’m guessing you probably do.

I’m that person who just last month announced my departure from Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram with a lengthy, self-reflective, and vaguely superior-sounding essay about Why I am Leaving Social Media Forever.

You might recall that this Dear John letter to everyone in cyberspace basically explained that social media is bringing me (and by implication you) down and wasting a ton of time that would be much better spent on real-life pursuits. 

Things like doing yoga and going to brunch while leaving my phone in a gun safe, instead of looking at other people’s pictures of yoga and brunch and/or posting my own pictures of yoga and brunch the second they happen.

Lots of studies have shown this is critical to one’s Happiness Journey, I helpfully pointed out.

Anyway, you may recall that, in florid language and with a tone suggesting I am the first person ever to wrestle with (and bravely overcome!) an addiction to the internet, I declared with self-satisfied sanctimony that I had done exactly that.

I told you and the rest of the world that I will be forever deleting all social media apps from my phone, and if you want to get in contact with me, you should try regular old-fashioned email or texting, which I asserted without evidence is very different from the social media I will now never use again. Better yet, let's plan some FACE TIME, and not on an iPhone!

What I did not do, however, was let you know I was back on every single one of these platforms.

Not three weeks after I insisted I was embarking on a forever “digital detox” and never wanted to see any of your tweets or your Instagram filters ever again—not even Mayfair or Valencia—I quietly skulked back into your newsfeeds and timelines with nary a word.

For some reason, my return to social media was ushered in with much less fanfare than my departure. I sort of just silently peeked back in and poked my digital head around the digital corner like, heeeeeeeeeeeeey, wyd?

You see, I came to realize that actually I missed—and maybe shouldn’t have been so quick to publicly malign—the nonstop, Pavlovian sensory input of your cats in costumes, your kid’s first day of school pictures, invitations to a book club/potluck, hashtags about 9/11, and the most recent clever tweets from famous-if-you-know-who-they-are internet luminaries mocking the last incomprehensibly stupid and offensive thing Donald Trump did.

Not to mention my own contributions to all of the above!

Also the absence of dings, bings, and little notification alerts made me feel really lonely and like a loser. 

You see, during my brief period of disengaging with the internet and re-engaging with the real world, I realized that social media makes me feel like a loser most of the time, but it also makes me feel like a winner some of the time, which makes all the feel-like-a-loser time worth it and which I need. Also the real world is mostly bleak and boring AF.

Mark Zuckerberg and @jack know this. That's why they're rich beyond comprehension.

However, this time I neglected to write another essay about how my first essay was strictly aspirational, and while everything I said in there was probably true, it was sanctimonious grand-standing, and the next time I decide to get internet-sober I should just go ahead and stop drinking instead of announcing to the world that I’m quitting because then I look really silly and hypocritical and kind of like a failure at self-righteousness.

Anyhooooooooo . .. great to see you again!

Sunday, September 10, 2017


There is a narrow range of acceptable reasons to leave Alaska, and the rest are stupid, cowardly, and lame. Acceptable: a death in the family, an experimental medical treatment available only Outside. Unacceptable: weariness of winter, the "bad economy."

That's what you tell yourself, even though you know it's bullshit.


You set aside the acceptable reasons. Fine. But the unacceptable reasons for leaving trigger in you a unique reflex caused by nothing else. A disquieting brew of contempt, superiority, and self-doubt bubbles up. One that curdles quickly into resignation, which in turn yields a certain hardening of the heart and a turning away.

For in each of these decisions to leave is an implicit rejection and abandonment of you, and nothing scares you more than rejection and abandonment. 

Viewed through this narcissistic lens, you see a reflection of your own heartiness or stupidity, you're not sure which. But you know the feeling. That familiar and uncomfortable stirring of insecurity. Because each of these choices is making some sort of statement about your life as well. The choices you've made. The things you can accept and handle. Whether they mean that you're brave or stupid.

Who needs them, is what you tell yourself each time, as if to validate your choice to remain rooted where you are.

You couldn't leave if you wanted to, though you suppose you could if you had to. You have a job (for now) and a house. You have kids with friends and attachments. You have a daily rhythm and a view and a seven-minute commute and the coveted, elusive "work-life balance."

All of which is the envy of every sucker driving in a rat-race on a freeway somewhere--the 95 or the 405 or whatever smog-choked artery is slowly clogging up with the plaque deposits of each driver's vanishing potential and narrowing range of life choices. 

You post plenty of pictures on social media to reinforce this comforting narrative.

Even as you think this, you know it is wrong-headed, small thinking. It is beneath you. It's not about you, of course you know this. 

You remember it when they come back to visit. Some of them say they miss Alaska, they would move back in a second if they could. To them you nod in sympathy, reaffirmed and soothed once more. 

The others are more problematic. They seem determined to insult your decisions as if to validate their own. The schools are bad. The weather sucks. The people are petty and provincial. The beach is covered in mine-tailings. Shut uuuuuuup, you think, bristling. You sneer inside because they are living in the places (or the kinds of places) you've rejected with good reason, you insist. 

You imagine in that moment a Rubik's Cube. 

Twisting it, turning it, trying to get all the sides to align but never solving the puzzle. You know that's what it means to come to terms with the choices you've made. You spent your twenties clumsily and sometimes blindly making choices, your thirties living out their consequences, and now you're prepared to just put down the Rubik's Cube and accept your failure to solve the puzzle. 

To put it on a shelf and just be okay with having orange, red, yellow, and blue, but not the white and green sides all lined up.

The same goes for the arrivals and departures of friends, both geographically and otherwise. You start to realize that people can suddenly come into your life for different reasons at different times, serve a limited purpose, and leave as quickly as they came. It's impossible to know when you first meet someone whether they will be a "forever" friend or just a "temporary" friend.

Which of course is a false distinction. Like the distinction between unacceptable and acceptable reasons to leave Alaska or anywhere else. There is no such thing. There is no acceptable/unacceptable dichotomy. No forever/temporary. It just is what it is. IIWII. (That's an acronym you use to abbreviate acceptance and resignation to the particular box that you are in and cannot realistically escape).

You suddenly remember that Edie Brickell song, Circle. The one whose lyrics you had printed in your high school yearbook and thought made you sound very deep at the time, but when you read them now you just roll your eyes at your angsty teenage self. 

"Everything is temporary anyway." 

The notes and Edie Brickell's lilting fairy-voice fill your head, summoned from the far-away recesses of whatever part of your brain stores such useless things, all these years later. 

And you smile.

The Stuff We Collect

One of my best friends in Juneau moved away. Again. Comings and goings of the people we love is part of life in Alaska.

Like snow, like no free shipping, like waxy tomatoes. It's part of the deal. You can't be mad about it any more than you can be mad at your driveway for icing over.

Before she left, Becca was part of a public art exhibit here in town. I refused to take the cast-off junk she tried to dump on me, but was later forced to admit that really the scooters were fun and Wonder was a great book and we'd already finished the leftover homemade granola she'd crammed into mismatched old yogurt containers.

I've put her portrait and her words here. I love and miss you, Becca.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Chicken Vigil Might be a Sign that Vigils Have Jumped the Shark

I don't want to be the kind of person who types the sentence "vigils have jumped the shark." I don't even want to be the kind of person who thinks that. 

Because what kind of person makes fun of vigils? A small, petty, mean little person. 

That's who. 

Vigils are serious business. Even the word suggests a solemn stoicism, a religious watchfulness. A vigilance, if you will. I don't want to be the kind of person that makes fun of vigils, and yet I am; and in the spirit of "owning my truth," which seems to be a very popular 2017 pastime, I'm just going to accept this as a character flaw.

I can't tell if this flaw is either magnified or minimized by the fact that the vigil I'll be making fun of tonight is a vigil for chickens who died in a fire in Utah. 

This isn't big enough news for me to confirm on Snopes. I did my due diligence there, and all I found was debunked rumors of rat meat being served as chicken wings

No, the AP is a legitimate news organization, so the fact that animal rights groups are standing vigil for 100,000 fried chickens is not the FAKE NEWS it would at first appear to be.

As it so happens, I wrote last week about chicken sashimi and my overall feeling about chicken. I think chickens are absolutely disgusting (but delicious!) when they're dead, and just plain old disgusting when they're alive. 

And at the risk of sounding like a sociopath, I wouldn't feel compelled to "honor the lives" of 100,000 chickens. Am I happy they died a fiery death, clucking and frightened in their likely inhumane conditions? Of course not. Like I said, I'm not a sociopath. I only maybe sound like one.


I just wouldn't go out of my way to stand vigil in order to honor the life of a chicken. Or 100. Or even 1,000 or even 100,000 chickens. Not unless it was a combination vigil-BBQ, which would be in this instance at once efficient, reverent, and tasty.

Like we could have the vigil and be sad for a second about all there is to be sad about with respect to chickens: 

Our broken food system; our corporate overlords; the terrible conditions under which they've made us keep chickens; the eggs that must be advertised as cage-free, lest we call to mind the squalid coop where this egg was disgorged from a chicken's cloaca and thus be put off our quiche; our very humanity receding into the gaping, insatiable maw of the agro-industrial complex.

All of it. 

We could stand there with furrowed brows and silent, pursed lips and think about all of this with our heads bowed respectfully. 

And then--and really I'm just spit-balling here--we could fetch the 100,000 dead chickens from inside the ruins of their smoldering prison and finish them on a grill, and put them on a sturdy paper plate with BBQ sauce, some potato salad (vinegar-based, no mayo please), and a side of some sort of red cabbage-based Asian slaw.

That sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Friday, September 8, 2017

The First Brain Rule for Aging Well

Let me tell you how and why I came to own this bookmark advertising a free audio book called "Brain Rules for Aging Well." Or why I think I came to own it, anyway.

My friend who teaches college in Denver always has great book recommendations, especially novels, and I needed a new one.

A novel that I could really invest in for a week, you understand. One I wouldn't be tempted to throw across the room in disgust in favor of binge-watching "Murderous Affairs" on Netflix or scrolling through social media in spiraling despair.

A long novel worthy of a prestigious literary prize, or at least a nomination for one? A novel whose every other turn of phrase I could marvel at in respect and awe. Like The Goldfinch or Middlesex or something substantive and memorable like that.

The Nix, by Nathan Hill. That would be my next fiction love affair, and I trusted my infallible matchmaker that it would not disappoint.

This wouldn't be another thin, dime-a-dozen diaspora memoir written by an orphaned lesbian llama farmer from Yemen, endorsed by Oprah, and discarded in the front seat pocket of 19D after a two-hour flight.

It was an 800-page paperweight by a boring 30-something white dude. And no one in publishing gives fiction book deals to boring, 30-something white dudes anymore, probably with good reason. So if Nathan Hill from Iowa wrote a national bestseller in 2017, the book had to be pretty good, is what I'm getting at here.

"I think there's a Tattered Cover in the airport," my friend offered helpfully. And it was with no small feeling of triumph that I found it not 50 feet from my gate, bleary-eyed and even more haggard-looking than usual at 5:47 a.m.

The problem was, it was closed.

Through the grated metal slats of the shuttered, sterile looking airport box store I could see a late-20s hipster with a manbun and a security badge on a lanyard. He was counting change in the cash register, and it was clear he had no plans to unlock the doors to this bookstore even one nanosecond before he had to, which according to the internet was 5:00 a.m., and as I said earlier it was now 5:47.

I made a soft but desperate scratching sound on the doors with the knuckle of my right forefinger. In my left hand I held a grande iced soy latte from Starbucks; beads of cold water were condensing around the black Sharpie of my misheard name: 


Manbun glanced up briefly with lazy disinterest, as if I was a stray alley cat prowling for fish scraps, and turned his head back down to the register. I backed away a few steps but firmly planted myself in front of the store, lurking there to let Manbun know that I knew that he was 47 minutes late for work.

A few moments later, Manbun opened the gates in a way that made clear he was just doing his job, albeit belatedly--not going out of his way to do me (of all people) any favors.

I found the Nix and went to pay for it. "Would you like a free bookmark?," Manbun asked. I thought I detected a passive aggressive undertone in his voice, and I think I was right.

Because of all the free bookmarks behind the counter--and I could see there were a few--this is the one Manbun handed to me.

I'm almost 40 now, so I know. The first brain rule for aging well is this: Always assume that a younger person is trying to insult your intelligence.

Jerry Bruckheimer is Executive Producing 2017

You guys. I finally figured out what the actual fuck is going on here. Jerry Bruckheimer is executive producing 2017. There's simply no other explanation for the past 8 months.

The successful Hollywood producer, best known for his epic popcorn disaster flicks, has now broken the fourth wall to delve into a new genre of reality-based meta cinema. 

The plot:

A lecherous real estate magnate and pathological liar is unexpectedly propelled into the presidency of the United States.

His election, clouded by a perfect storm of nefarious foreign influence, technological failings, and disorienting propaganda is facilitated by a shadowy cabal of Russian oligarchs, neo-Nazi quasi-intellectuals, and his icy adult children. 

His estranged wife, a former super model partial to wearing 7-inch stiletto heels at all times, is reluctantly along for the ride and separated from her lover, the head of security at a high-end jewelry store in one of her husband's leveraged-to-the-brink-of-bankruptcy skyscrapers.

At first, the divisive new president is bouyed by a revanchist, disaffected populace impoverished and made sick by the very tax, environmental, and health "policies" he is advancing. 

Chasing the ever-elusive high of public adulation, he regularly holds Hitler-style rallies with the complicity of a craven and ineffectual Congress bought and paid for by weapons lobbyists.

But soon, the scope of the president's ineptitude is laid bare by crisis after crisis.

The American people begin to turn on one another as nature's wrath, propelled by global warming, unleashes its fury. 

Unprecedented storms and earthquakes shatter records, destroy cities, and befuddle embattled scientists whom everyone in authority refuses to listen to. Desperately warning of the next cataclysm, they offer data and tweet warnings in vain.

Meanwhile, a petulant and vindictive dictator an ocean away keeps testing new and better long-range missiles, daring the semi-demented and impulsive sociopath at America's helm to blow up the planet in service of his own ego like some sort of Freudian suicide bomber.

Please, Mr. Bruckheimer. Only two words can save us now: Bruce Willis.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

These Tweets from Someone Named Prince Fuckboy Prove I Have No Idea What is Even Happening on This Planet

Sometimes I encounter something or someone, and I just have to shake my head and admit to myself that I basically have no fucking idea what is even happening on this planet. 

Like I'm in Denver for work, right, and in a six block radius no fewer than six hale and hearty aggressive white men with dogs demanded money of me and I'm just like WUUUUT. 

I mean, I grew up in NYC and I'm certainly no stranger to panhandling and I am fine with it. But these guys were seriously garnering ZEEERR-O sympathy. Like really dude? You were born a white man in America, you have a healthy dog on a leash, and you're asking me for quarters and then screaming at me when I ignore you? 

Like what is even happening on this planet right now. Which seems like an odd segue to Prince Fuckboy, but it's not.

I stumbled on Prince Fuckboy on Twitter and reading his timeline was proof positive that I really have no idea what is even going on on planet earth.

LEGIT there is a corner of the Internet and presumably the world in which speaking fluently and casually of fucking dragons and cryptids is a thing. I don't even know what a cryptid IS, and I'm afraid to Google it lest my browser cookies conclude that I want to fuck one.

Not only that, but apparently your choice of morning caffeine beverage determines what type of monster you are prone to fucking. The "classic" monsters like zombies and werewolves are for coffee and tea drinkers, dragons and cryptids are for tea drinkers, and robots and aliens are for coffee addicts.

I can't get enough coffee into my bloodstream fast enough between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m., and yet I've never considered fucking an alien OR a robot, unless you count like half the dudes I hooked up with in college. 

Then, yes. Of course then.

My point is this: there is a white dude with a pet dog screaming at me for a quarter, there's a community of tea drinkers who fuck cryptids and tweet about it, and I just give up on trying to make sense of planet earth anymore.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Level of Nope on Chicken Sashimi is Difficult to Quantify

"Chicken sashimi." Now there's two words I never thought I'd say in the same sentence. Unless of course that sentence was "Chicken and sashimi are two words that do not belong in the same sentence."

First let me say that I love chicken, but I'll fully admit that chicken is gross.

The animal itself is filthy, stupid, and eats its own shit. And that's under the best of circumstances--the Whole Foods/PETA best-practices circumstances. Under the worst, it's so full of hormones your kids will go through puberty before dessert arrives.

But chicken fat runs in my veins. It was the bread and butter of my people! Literally. Peasant Russian Jews and all their descendants used to put schmaltz on bread. That's Yiddish for rendered chicken fat whipped up into a Kosher butter substitute.

My great-grandmother, who spoke only Yiddish, bought a live chicken every week at a market in the Bronx where she watched the butcher cut its neck and bleed it out. Then she'd take it home, pluck its feathers, and turn every last bit of it into kreplach, which is a kind of dumpling. 

What peasant culture doesn't have a scary-looking dumpling?

All this to say, I can't escape my love of chicken. I love it in Caesar salads, I love it as Buffalo wings. I love it in General Tso's, I I love it in tacos and fajitas. I'm basically to chicken what Forrest Gump was to shrimp. It's like Green Eggs & Ham, all the ways and places in which I would eat chicken.

But one way in which I would NOT eat chicken is raw.

Raw chicken is like KRYPTONITE to Jewish mothers. If so much as one drop of raw chicken juice falls in a Jewish mother's kitchen, the whole place goes on lockdown like it was the CDC during Ebola.

So I really don't need Food & Wine magazine to tell me whether chicken sashimi is safe or unsafe. A hundred generations of overbearing, kerchief-wearing bubbies would rather handle battery acid than raw chicken, and really that's all I need to know. 

This whole thing sounds like something two macho foodies came up with on a dare and tried to pass of as a trendy fusion delicacy while they secretly laugh at everyone who orders it for $100 a plate.

FOH chicken sashimi.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Missed Connections: The Guy Who Flipped Me the Double (!) Bird on Industrial Blvd.: You Give Me Life!

You were wearing Wayfarers and riding in the passenger seat of a tan, late 90’s-model American SUV, which was merging at the intersection of Glacier Highway and Industrial Boulevard where Glacier turns into a one-lane road. 

I was in my forest green, beater 138,000 mile Subaru Forester with two 9 year-old girls--one in the front seat, one in the back, and a trunk full of bikes and camping crap.

I had to make a rather rapid choice (as one must at that particular intersection) whether to slow down and let you in (or in this case your girlfriend (?) who was driving), or rather speed up and get out in front of you.

I hesitate to use the verb “cut” in front, because that verb (if you're familiar with that part of speech) tends to have a pejorative connotation (if you’re familiar with that particular adjective and noun, or those parts of speech more generally) that isn’t exactly apt here. 

Really the choice one makes at that intersection—to get out in front or drop back—at least in my case, has less to do with an aggressive assertion of driver dominance and more with safety and split-second instinct. After all, I am a 40 year-old mother of two and my primary interest when I drive anywhere in Juneau is getting there safely and making sure my route intersects with the Lemon Creek Breeze-In so I can obtain a packet of Swedish Fish and three chicken tacos.

In this particular instance, I decided to get out in front as opposed to drop back. And what you did in that moment gave me such joy, such pleasure, and such a sense of just being HOME that I needed to reach out and find you again.

You gave me the finger, and not just one finger—but TWO. You hoisted both middle fingers on each of your hands high in the air, where I could clearly see them through my rear-view mirror, and you held them in position there for a good 30 seconds to be certain I wouldn’t miss the gesture.

I didn’t. I loved it. And if you can do that with just two fingers, who knows what else you can do with the rest of your hands BOWM CHICKA BOW WOWM, AMIRITE?!!?!

Since I live in Juneau (and presumably you do as well?) where people rarely honk, much less indulge in road rage, I frequently find myself pining wistfully for the gratuitous public hostility of my youth in New York City.

There, screaming SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!! out your 9th story window at a blaring car alarm was a common early morning salutation, and one’s middle finger was always ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice on the subway, street corner, or certainly—in a car. Indeed, my children's finest memory of visiting their grandparents in NYC is when, in their telling, grandpa Nicky inquired of a belligerent pedestrian on the corner of 42nd Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan, "You Wanna 'F-Word' With Me 'A-S-S-Hole?!'" 

This came on the heels of someone—perhaps an acquaintance of yours—recently screaming at my 6 year-old son from the window of a pickup truck that he was being a “little jerk” for holding a street-crossing flag in a confusing manner. It really just made my heart melt in homesick nostalgia; although if I'm honest, "little shit" would have sounded more authentic.

The way you rode (or got your girlfriend to ride?) my ass for six more miles until I pulled into the parking lot of Auke Bay Elementary School just so we could maybe exchange numbers and I could finally introduce myself. Well, heh heh, that really set my little heart a-flutter, but you sped on, content to let your two middle fingers do the talking. 

I wasn’t quick enough with my phone to snap a picture of your face or license plate, but I was able to do a quick sketch artist's rendering of your two beautiful middle fingers. I know my husband might not like me reaching out like this, so I am going to put this For yoU in Code, in language that I Know YOU will understand.



Monday, September 4, 2017

My Mom Was Born in 1945. I Asked Her Some Questions About the World Then and Now. She Had Some Fascinating Answers.

1. Do you think the world is a better place now than it used to be, and if so, how?

The world is a big place, and I feel most qualified to comment on the United States and, indirectly, on other resource-rich countries. Compared to life 100 years ago, on average we live much longer, in much greater comfort, and with many more opportunities to travel and acquire new knowledge. We can save the lives of people who once faced certain death. I believe that every ill we see now, whether it’s interpersonal violence, war, natural disaster, epidemics, drought, famine or any form of social injustice, has been there all along and is not worse now, bearing in mind that governments are constantly changing and people in any given location fare better or worse depending on those fluctuations. I’m happy to have lived at this time and not at any earlier time.

2. How is it worse? 

It’s worse in terms of our ability to annihilate our own existence and that of other species. We have sufficient weapons of mass destruction to destroy the world many times over and we are making our planet increasing less habitable.

3. What's your biggest regret? 

I don’t believe in regrets, so I don’t have them. People make the best decisions they can at the time they make them. There’s no point in looking back and wishing you had been a different person who knew then what you know now.

4. What's your greatest accomplishment? 

Having my wonderful daughter. Nothing in my life has ever seemed more important than that or given me greater happiness.

5. Do you feel responsible for the actions of the Baby Boomer generation?: 

I feel responsible for the ways in which I have participated in exacerbating the world’s problems or shown indifference to other people’s needs or suffering. But I think of that as my personal failings rather the failings of my “group." I feel guilty about living so well when so many others struggle. I know how much of my good fortune is sheer luck.

6. What contributions/problems do you think your generation has made/inflicted? 

I don’t think there are clear boundaries between generations—one generation blends into the next, and there are always important interactions between younger and older people. If I think about what defines my “generation” best, I think it was the sixties. In the liberal Northeast we were against the Vietnam war and in favor of civil rights and the war against poverty, which I think were contributions. We also were into sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. That was a bit foolish—serious epidemics of substance use problems and sexually transmitted infections have always been part of the world’s ills. Later, our generation was among those that actively or passively permitted corporations to severely compromise our democracy, proliferate weapons of war throughout the world, support dictatorships and destroy environments. We also passively watched genocides and other catastrophes take place. These are huge and disturbing failings.

7. How do you deal with living with your choices?

Because I don’t believe in regrets, I accept the choices that I’ve made.

8. How to you make peace with your limitations? 

I believe that humans are a highly flawed species with great capacity to inflict harm. I work to be the best person I can be given my particular strengths and weaknesses. I’ve always been highly motivated to know myself and this has included facing and accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly.

9. What is your overriding philosophy on adult friendships? 

I believe that the less you expect from people, the happier you’ll be in your relationships. I let “chemistry” guide my choice of friends. I strive to learn what they can and can’t offer and to accept that. I consider myself responsible for my own internal state, but I’ve been very appreciative when friends have been good and helpful to me in times of need.

10. What about romantic relationships? 

Everything I’ve said about friendships also applies to romantic relationships. In addition, the most important things to me in my 40+ year marriage to your dad have been his unconditional love in good times and bad times, his fidelity and reliability, his sense of humor, his love of the written and spoken word, his intellectual curiosity and keen observations about people, his unambivalent support of my career, and his problem-solving skills.

11. What is your biggest concern for the world after you die?

That it will become uninhabitable by humans as a result of environmental harms and climate change, and that this will affect the grandchildren I love so much in particular and future generations more generally. 

12. Are you afraid of dying? Why or why not? 

I was afraid when I was young and experienced the deaths of my parents, but after spending so many years processing their deaths, I don’t feel afraid now. However, who knows how I’ll feel when I’m actually dying—I just hope that I’m not disabled for a prolonged period of time.

13. What are your priorities for the next phase of your life and why? 

Since I spent much of my life believing that I could die at any minute, I always tried to do what I most wanted to do. I’ve been on the same mission since childhood, trying to understand the world and participate in it through the prism of the medical and psychiatric care that disadvantaged people need. That never changes. My relationships are more important to me now than ever. I adore spending time with Paige and Isaac and nurturing younger people in whatever ways I can. I find that having a 72-year-old-body is like driving an old car. It requires much more maintenance to keep it going, so of necessity I have to prioritize exercise and self-care.