Monday, December 29, 2014

Real Conversation with Mom: the Transporter Room

The Coolest Christmas Gift Ever!

Me:  I can't believe that Gretchen actually got me a transporter room shower curtain for Christmas!

Mom:  Me either.  I cry every time I go in there.

Me:  Cry?  Why would you cry?

Mom:  It is ugly.

Me:  Mom, it is a transporter room!  When you get in the shower, you can beam to strange new worlds!  Don't you have any imagination?

Mom:  I like this world.  And I like a fancy bathroom.

Me:  Fancy?!  Mother, don't you realize that a transporter room has a lever that compensates for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?  There is nothing fancier than a transporter room. 

Mom:  That is bullsh!t.  Besides, now you come in there too much and try to interrupt my pee time.  It's bad enough that the kitties won't let me use the bathroom alone, but now you stand out there jiggling and talking about beaming away.  It is very bad.

Me:  Okay, I will try to stop that.  But you have to admit, we now have a very cool bathroom.

Mom:  I will not admit that. 

Me:  But...

Mom:  And your sister is in serious trouble.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Real Conversations with Mom: Copycat Christmas Decorations


Upon reading this post, my friend Mark expressed some outrage that it was not accompanied by photos of his decorations.  Not wishing to outrage that Mark (which would put me in the company of some extremely unsavory people), I splashed through the Christmas mud this morning to bring you these images of his festive abode:

The Peanuts characters that so entrance Mom

The Grinch whose gaze she finds rather disturbing
Mom:  "Look at that!  Did you see that!  Wait.  Back up!"

Me:  "Back up?  Mom, I'm trying to drive here."

Mom: "There is no traffic on this street.   You back up right now and look at what's in front of that house."

Me:  "Okay, okay.  What?"

Mom:  "Do you see that?!"

Me:  "They have the Peanuts characters in the yard.  I like Peanuts."

Mom:  "Those are the same decorations that Riley's daddy has!*"

Me:  "Yes, that is true.  He has Peanuts characters and the Grinch."

Mom:  "These people have copycatted him!  That is not right.  He had his decorations first."

Me:  "Well, honestly, I think there is room in this neighborhood for more than one house with Peanuts characters."

Mom:  "No, there is not!  What will the little kids think?"

Me:  "?!"

Mom:  "They will not know which house Charlie Brown lives at.  They will be all confused."

Me:  "Um, Mom..."

Mom:  "I mean, think of the poor children.  We should go to that house and tell them to take down those decorations."

Me:  "We will not be doing that."

Mom: "You know what you are?  You are a boring bummer.  You are afraid to tell people what you think."

Me:  "That is so very untrue that, that...there is no more untruer thing in the universe."

Mom:  "Hah!"

Me:  "Really, no one has ever said that to me before.  Ever."

Mom:  "Hey, do you have Riley's daddy's phone number?"

Me:  "Yes, but I'm not giving it to you.  You are just going to cause trouble."

Mom:  "I do not know where I went wrong with you."

*"Riley's daddy" = my friend, Mark.  Riley is his dog.  Mom does not remember the names of my friends, but she does remember the names of their pets.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Things People Have Said to Me This Week

It is finals week, beloved readers, and that means that we (students, professors, people-who-have-to-be-exposed-to-students-or-professors) are a bit crazed.  And you know me well enough by now, precious ones, to know that I keep you all in mind during such weeks, for, lo! they provide much fodder for the blog. 

Things People Have Said 
(or posted or emailed or texted) to Me This Week

  • My doctor, turning to his computer after having removed a sliver of glass from my foot:  "C'mon, y'all, where did you hide the foreign bodies?"
  • My dear friend Kim, who is responsible for this blog's existence, upon watching me struggle to fasten my seat belt while simultaneously disentangling my purse from my jacket:  "That happens to Remy all the time!" [Note: Remy is 18 months old]
  • My friend Liz, shamelessly pandering: "Humping is always interesting."  "I'm just hoping I get quoted in Natalie's blog as being funnier than grading" "I find Natalie needs a nudge now and then."  "Natalie, note humping comment above."  Noted, Liz.  Repeatedly.
  • My mom, who had a pinched nerve, upon being told, by me, that moaning "Oh, God!" was starting to get repetitive:  "You asshole!  You asshole, asshole, asshole!"  
  • Campus safety officer, upon seeing me attempt to parallel park:  "Huh.  I thought you were getting better at that."
  • My sister, after receiving six successive texts that were supposed to go to my friend Kim:  "U need help, serious help..."
  • Deno, my wonderful colleague, to Sally, another wonderful colleague, during a department meeting:  "Smack her, please.  I can't reach that far."
  • My colleague Amy, in response to my "Ow, ow, ow!" floating toward her down a hallway:  "Good morning, Gnat.  When I hear 'ow,' I always know it's you."
Now, for the fun part, says I:  let's put all of these comments together and see what it reveals about my week:

C'mon, y'all, where did you hide the foreign bodies?  That happens to Remy all the time! Humping is always interesting.  Natalie, note humping comment above. You asshole!  You asshole, asshole, asshole!  Huh.  I thought you were getting better at that.  U need help, serious help...Smack her, please.  I can't reach that far.  Good morning, Gnat.  When I hear 'ow,' I always know it's you.

All in all, I'd prefer more humping and fewer assholes and slivers of glass next week.  If it's all the same to you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

More Office Door Signs!

I can't help it.  I now have an endless supply of these door hangers, and the temptation is just too great:

Because we NEED the Oxford comma, dammit!
No one really wants to know the details anyway
It's a serious illness, you know.
Establishing priorities is important
Showing off my linguistic facility
Really, either one would be welcome.
Because watching you text is not what I consider a productive meeting
You have to say it with a Scottish accent

Hee-hee!  For everyone, my humor is not.
And in what others do not know.
Especially for finals week

Saturday, November 29, 2014

This Year's Funniest Responses to My Facebook Posts

So several of you have decided to use the spirit of this holiday weekend to chastise me for not posting more often.  I am, now, deeply ashamed.  However, Mom has decreed that ALL the laundry shall be done before Monday, so I really didn't have the time or energy to be creative today.  It was a serious conundrum, my friends, which vexed me for almost thirty-five unbearable minutes.  Then it finally occurred to me that you all are both energetic and creative, especially when it comes to writing snarky, humorous or confounding responses to my status updates on facebook.  Hence, I collected my ten favorite from 2014, and I present them to you for your amusement:

This Year's Funniest Responses to My Facebook Posts

  1. How many squirrels had to make the ultimate sacrifice for those Christmas towels to be purchased? 
  2.  I've never thought about threatening to burn skin off of faces. The things I learn from my online colleagues.
  3. All I got was a piece of candy cane stuck to my foot.
  4. Hey, Troilus, is that a love letter in your pocket, or...well...sorry.
  5. Perhaps one of the extra stockings belongs to Flamingo?
  6. I hesitate to wonder what a Dalek bathroom would entail.  Eliminate! Eliminate!!
  7. It looks like it would hold plenty of dead squirrels.
  8. Gnat, a raging angel.  Just right. [Note:  this one is funny because it was posted by my provost.  Who understands me all too well.]
  9. Well, we all know that penis-sucking-vaginas are real people-pleasers.  [Note:  not posted by my provost.] 
  10. I have plenty of unused lampshades since I have given up wearing them lately.
Actually, these aren't as funny out of context as I thought they would be.  In fact, this whole post kind of sucks.  But I'm going to hit the little "publish" button anyway, so I can go do more laundry and throw some pots without some guilt-trip bringing me down. Satisfied?  Good.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Texts to My Cousin Beth

Greetings and Happy Holidays, Beloved Readers!  It has been too, too long.  As I compose this cheery missive, I am curled up in Mom's broken recliner (the new one is being delivered this afternoon, the fourth in ten years.  Don't ask me.  I  have no idea what she gets up to when I'm at work, but whatever it is, it's rough on those recliners), sipping holiday tea and recovering from an exhilarating* morning Christmas shopping or, as many of my friends will no doubt remind me, contributing to the consumerist destruction of civilized society.

I wore black and red.  You know, because if sales are good, then shops go from being in the red to being in the black?  Get it?  That's okay.  Nobody else did either.

My cousin Beth had planned to engage in this same ritual, but she was feeling sick today and had to stay at home.  I, therefore, decided to amuse and appall her by sending periodic text messages updating her on the progress of my own shopping expedition.  And now, because I love you all so much, I present those texts to you as well.

6:57am:  Off to the stores!  First stop:  the bookstore!

7:15am:  Ah! My hunt was delayed, for I had to turn around and go back to put out the garbage can.  The holiday schedule is my bane.

7:25am:  I have now run over a squirrel, poor victim of crass consumerism.

7:42am:  The ad said that this book store opened at 6am, but they are not opening until 8am.  Great is the wrath of impatient shoppers crowding the sidewalk!  I will leave this place and venture into the most dangerous realm of all:  the Mall.

8:45am:  Have been shopping for over an hour now.  Everything I've bought so far has been for me.  I am going to have a good Christmas, apparently.

9:03am:  Thought about getting a cinnebon,**  but it looks too much like the squirrel I have slain.

9:20am:  People keep waving me into good parking spaces.  Just realized that I have Mom's car and am displaying her handicapped tag.***  The guilt just keeps piling up.

9:59am:  Stray dog just peed on the tire of Mom's car.  Don't tell her.

10:12am:  Dog made me need to pee.  Headed back to bookstore.

10:33am: Successfully peed, thanks for asking.  Put Mom's tag in glove compartment.  Got flipped off by someone in a Lexis.  Feel better about myself.

10:37am:  Starting to get crowded out here.  Everyone must have finally found what they wanted at Best Buy.

10:48am:  Stopped for tea.  My parents couldn't afford to buy me legos when I was a kid, and now that I am an adult, I can't afford to buy the expensive adult lego sets of famous buildings.  Lego might be my arch nemesis.

11:22am:  Almost all shopping done, except for Mom.  Now entering the terror which is the Kohl's parking lot.

11:39am: Kohl's is vicious.  Heard a manager begging customers to stop yelling at him.  Thought about giving him a hug, but didn't want to lose my place in line.

11:57am:  Stepped in gum.  Tried to get it off and kicked shoe across parking lot.  Car ran over shoe.  Time to call it a day.

*Did everybody else know that there were two A's in that word? 
**This word should have a U, but it doesn't.  I am orthographically confused today.
***I did not park in any handicapped spaces.  I am a squirrel-murderer, but not a sociopath.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Real Conversations with Mom: Gardening

Mom:  "Listen!  If you don't do what I tell you, your ass is grass, and I am the lawnmower!"

Me:  "Mom!  Where did you hear that?"

Mom:  "I've known it for a long time.  A long, long time."

Me:  "Fine, well, could you carry this folder inside while I get the bags?"

Mom:  "I don't know.  That might be too heavy for me.  I am delicate, you know."

Me:  "The sarcasm is running pretty thick today."

Mom:  "Vroom-vroom!  Vroom-vroom!"

Me:  "What?"

Mom:  "Vroom-vroom!  I am the lawnmower, and don't you forget it!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Office Door

Hello, beloved readers!  Today, I must confess, I have gotten a bit out of hand.  You know how sometimes you have a good idea, one that is slightly funny or witty, but which, once you get it going, you find yourself unable to stop until you swerve into a fast lane of ridiculousness that overwhelms your sense of self preservation, dignity and good sense?

Okay, well, it happens to me all the time.

For example, I am teaching an independent study this fall on Old English (no, not Shakespeare.  No, not Chaucer.  Never mind.  If you want to know, you can take the class), and, unfortunately, my dedicated and brilliant students kept getting interrupted by people wandering into my office.   So the solution we came up with was to hang a little sign on my office door.  Voilà!

Of course, once I had such a sign, and I saw that it was reversible, I had to add something to the, well, reverse:

But there's more!  You see, these lovely door signs came in a package of eight, so, of course, I had to fill them out with increasingly stranger and more inappropriate messages.  I tried to stop.  I really did.  But I just couldn't.  Please don't judge me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Worlds Collide

Hello, delightful readers!  Today was an unusual day, for I find myself in a quandary, a confusing confluence of events, and I need your help.

In preparing for class today, I noticed these lines from a 15th century Middle English romance about King Arthur (I have translated them for you, good readers, as some of you, sadly, do not read of the Middle English):

"Sir Perceval and Sir Gawain;
Sir Gaheris and Sir Agravain;
And Sir Lancelot du Lake;
Sir Kay and Sir Yvain
(who could fight well on the field
and undertake battles!)
King Ban and King Bors
(who had a such a great reputation
that men never saw their like)
Sir Galafré and Sir Launfal,
About whom a noble tale
awakens for us!"

Now, some of you, loyal readers, are thinking, "Okay, so what?  Nothing actually happens in those lines.  It's just a list of knights."  But others of you, those who bear the weight of heavy nerdosity, are thinking, "Wait!  Wait!  Sir who?!"

To which I respond, "Sir Galafré, that's who!  Or, possibly, Who!"

And now, many of you are thinking, "I don't get it.  What is this post about?  Can't we hear more about your mom? I like those posts."  But others, those dearest to my heart, are standing up and shouting, "?!?!"

And indeed, those who are speechlessly shouting in punctuation, you are my people.  For the rest of you, let me explain:  Galafré--or, in Modern English, Gallifrey, is the home planet of the Time Lords.

Moreover, when I first read this romance, precious readers, generally referred to as Sir Launfal, for my oral examinations in grad school, I read it repeatedly, and I read it well.   And yet, I have no memory of this Sir Gallifrey.  And why do I have no memory of him?  Is it because I am getting old and forgetting those things I once knew? it because a certain Man with a Blue Box, not satisfied with his role as Merlin (see "Battlefield," Season 26) also became, between the time I got my Ph.D. and now, a knight of the round table?!

Now, I know what you're thinking, beloved readers.  You're thinking, "But nay!  If such a thing had happened, your memories would have been altered, just as the text of yon medieval romance was altered."  And, yes, they should have been!  So why, why have my memories of an alternate version of the romance with no Sir Gallifrey remained intact?  There can be only one conclusion.

At some point in my future, I too will enter the Blue Box, journey to the time of Arthur and meet this Sir Gallifrey, therefore becoming a part of what is clearly a fixed point in time.

So from now on, you may call me Sir Natalie, Knight of the Decorated Pots.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Greetings, oh, readers of mine!  Today has not been a happy day.  Today has been a day of technical difficulties.  This morning I bent a spade in half, and then a wheel came off of my garbage can and rolled around desultorily before collapsing with exhaustion in a compost pile.

That was not an enjoyable sight.

Then I came to work and, well, there are computers here, and they are not doing what they are supposed to do, or, rather, they are only doing what humans tell them to do, and humans are apparently telling them to frak with my life.  Repeatedly.

Luckily, when the machines let you down, there is always human contact to billow you up, and today's billowiness comes from my beloved mother, who left a note in my lunch.  Looking at it, I thought, "More adults should get notes from their parents in their lunches.  And cute little indecipherable drawings.  I know!  I will billow up everyone's mood by sharing a collection of napkins from Mom!"  And as it was thought, so it is done.  Enjoy!

Mom's happiness on Mondays can be disconcerting

Mom had an injured hand and wanted me to think of her suffering
Mom does not approve of Black Friday
Mom does approve of Spike the Cat
And Mom likes to leave warnings when I get out of hand

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Danger of Accessories

My doctor:  "So, it says here that you've come in today because you think you have a brain tumor?"

Me:  "Yes!  There are two lumps growing on the back of my head!"

My doctor:  "Have you had any other symptoms?"

Me:  "Anxiety, steadily increasing towards panic."

My doctor:  "Let's take a look.  Ah.  Hmm.  Right here?"

Me:  "Yes!  That's it!"

My doctor:  "Okay, well, let me ask you something:  how often do you wear this hair barrette?"

Me:  "The one I have in now?  Lots!  It's my favorite."

My doctor:  "This exact hair barrette?  This metal hair barrette with very pointed edges?"

[Long pause]

Me:  "Oh.  Wow."

My doctor:  "Maybe you could rotate hair accessories from day to day."

Me:  "Um.  So my diagnosis is hair barrette too pointy.  That's what you're saying?"

My doctor:  "Yes.  In fact, I'm putting it right into your patient file:  avoid pointy hair accessories for one week."

Me:  "This is a pretty humiliating experience."

My doctor:  "At least you don't have a brain tumor."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

An Unholy Conversation in the Grocery Store

Me:  "Mom, this is Ben.  You haven't met him before, but he works at Wofford."

Mom:  "Hello, Ben!  Are you a football fan?"

Ben:  "No, although I like European football.  Soccer."

Mom:  "Just soccer?"

Ben:  "Soccer."

Mom:  "Oh, well, my silly daughter is a Cubs fan."

Ben:  "Is that a baseball team?"




Alas, me:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Reasons for Never Giving Me Your Cell Number

Greetings, beloved readers!  It has been too, too long, and I have neglected you frightfully.  But I am back in the groove.  Well, more or less.  Last night, I was at a most delightful gathering when several of my so-called friends began to ritually humiliate me by sharing a plenitude of misdirected and/or misspelled / autocorrected texts that have appeared without warning on their respective phones.  From me.

I am not good with the texting.

I am good with stealing the amusing ideas of others, however, so here, my precious ones, is a list of the, strange?...text messages that I have sent to the wrong person or persons over the last few years.  I will point out that, naturally, almost all of them made perfect sense in context, a context which, alas, the textees did not in fact have.

Natalie's Worst Misdirected Texts
 (some with Amusing Autocorrect Fails included!)

  • It's the cab that has been shamed.
  • I am mad at the rabbit
  • Getting dressed then going to meet a feather striker.  Stroker.  Whatever.
  • Dildos on Wednesday night, yes?
  • No, no!  Klingon.  Silurians don't need them due to claws.
  • I have cut myself in the face with my debit card.
  • Might have to start calling you Sir.  Or Batman.
  • To all the people who received my misdirected text:  please do not be alarmed.  I do not have cholera.
  • If I planned better, I would have minions for when I get dick.
  • The humid air outside is just a nighthawk when you have brontosaurus
  • Mom is drinking mudslides at airport. I have a cherry cough drop.
  • Godzilla RAWR!
  • Frustrated by that reign today.
  • Everyone's arguing about the length of their pants.  Feel like stabbing myself in the eye.
  • Creepy lights stopped.  Resume normal operations.
  • The migraines are little people trying to escape from their heads.
  • Not with sugar, no.
  • It zips!
  • Getting rid of the last of the fetuses and old electric outlets
  • Don't ever touch it if it's wet.
  • No, the little puppet version was naked in the cage.
  • I really think that approach is, aside from boring, paleographically unsound.
  • I seem to have sent that text to ten people.  I suck at sexting.
  • Elastic druids are the hot new toy.
  • I am quite stunned by all of these dragon vaginas. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

happy days, happy feet, the crazy ones
absolutely anything shakes the clown
seize the day
the best of times, man of the the year, the fisher king
everyone’s hero.
goodnight, Vietnam.  the birdcage insomnia.  the night listener.
the timekeeper
mrs. doubtfire
the awakenings being human.
the final cut, the big white:
what dreams may come...stage left

Monday, July 14, 2014

Real Conversation with Mom: On Mustangs

Mom:  "Look at that!  Look at that!  That is not right!"

Me:  "What now?"

Mom:  "That car in front of us; that is a Mustang."

Me:  "Okay."

Mom:  "So why is it that pissy-shit color?!"

Me:  "It is green."

Mom:  "It is icky-green!  That is not the color of a Mustang.  Look, I see the little horse!  That is definitely a Mustang."

Me:  "Okay."

Mom:  "Why aren't you upset about this?  Look at that color!"

Me:  "I already quoted Star Trek at you.  Shall I repeat myself?"

Mom:  "This is not a star trekkie thing!  Look!  Mustangs are black or white or red.  And that is it."

Me:  "Well, this one is lime green."

Mom:  "They have ruined the Mustang!"

Me:  "Maybe the owners wanted a lime green Mustang."

Mom:  "The owners can [multiple expletives deleted].  This is not right!"

Me:  "Would you like me to write to the Ford Motor Company to express your outrage?"

Mom:  "Yes!  Also, ram that car and ruin that ugly paint job."

Me:  "I will not be ramming any cars today."

Mom:  "You do not understand what's important in life.  Lime green Mustangs are wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong!"

Me:  "I'm sorry.  But don't you think people should be able to have whatever color car they want?"

Mom:  "No, I do not!  The rest of us have to look at those cars.  And this is a Mustang."

Me:  "So you have said.  I don't get it."

Mom:  "Won't you ram that car for your poor mother?"

Me: "No."

Mom:  "Fine.  I like your sister better anyway."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Real Conversation with Mom: A Deli-cate Situation

Mom:  "I'm still mad at that guy who cut the cheese."

Me:  "Um..what?"

Mom:  "That guy who cut the cheese!  He stood there for half an hour, doing it over and over to get it just right.  I wanted to smack him."

Me:  "Maybe you should have called him a doctor."

Mom:  "What the hell are you talking about?!  He was cutting the cheese!"

Me:  "Half an hour is a long time to perform that bodily function."

Mom:  "What are you talking about?"

Me:  "What are you talking about?"

Mom:  "The guy who cut my cheese at the deli."

Me:  "Oh.  I thought it was some random guy farting."

Mom:  "Farting?"

Me:  "You know, cutting the cheese?"

Mom:  "Great.  Now there are two people I want to slap today."

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Good evening, gentle readers!  In my on-going quest to be a weak, less-funny version of the great Jenny Lawson, I have taken the Bloggess's advice today, and put my name in a site called "googlism" which is supposed to tell you what google thinks about you.

The first results were complimentary, but disappointing:

  • natalie grinnell is fabulous
  • natalie grinnell is probably the cutest sweetest girl i know glad to have her as a friend ? pic
  • natalie grinnell is the founder and creative director of studio 41 creative
So google thinks I'm fabulous (of course), that I'm a cute, sweet friend whose pic it wants (sorry, google, I'm just not that into you),  and the founder of a company I've never heard of.  Huh.

So I took off the last name and just entered "Natalie."  Here are my favorite results:
  • natalie is now classicnatalie
  • natalie is a single ukrainian woman
  • natalie is still really stupid
  • natalie is a pseudonym for heather
  • natalie is a lot of woman
  • natalie is seen here with a portable burner doing some hands on heating of green copper carbonate which turned to black copper oxide
  • natalie is tall and lithe
  • natalie is a full professor
  • natalie is a tough cookie
  • natalie is hot and she's in freakin' star wars
  • natalie is going to run the entire world
  • natalie is captured by an evil spellmage called hawk
  • natalie is also a former shadow of herself
  • natalie is a goddess unregistered user
  • natalie is a magnificent magpie
And this Natalie is going to pretend that Natalie Portman and Natalie Wood and Natalie from the Dixie Chicks don't exist, so that she can imagine that google really does think she's all of these things at once.

Except for a pseudonym for Heather.  That's one's obviously ridiculous.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Real Conversation with Mom: Being Creepy

Me:  "Mom, if you could have a superpower, what would it be?"

Mom:  "Oh, I have to think about that."

[long, long pause involving much kissing of cats]

Mom:  "Okay, I think Supergirl."

Me:  "No, not what superhero would you be, but which super power would you have.  You only get one."

Mom:  "Oh!  I would turn invisible."

Me:  "You can't answer like that!  That's creepy!"

Mom:  "I would like to be creepy.  I would go invisible, and I would go to school and see what you do.  And then I would watch the students.  And I would watch the neighbors.  And I would go down and watch your sister too."

Me:  "You would spy on your own children."

Mom:  "Yes, I would."

Me:  "Why?!"

Mom:  "So I could blackmail you, of course."

Me:  "You would blackmail your own children?!"

Mom:  "Yes, and my kitties would come with me, and they would be invisible too, and I would hold one under one arm and one under the other, and no one could see us.  And I would go to football games, and if they were bad to my guys, we would come up and punch them and run away, and they couldn't see us."

Me:  "It sounds creepy."

Mom:  "Yes, yes, it is creepy."

Me:  "In fact, it sounds like you want to be a super villain."

Mom:  "Yeah!  That is what I want!  I will be a super villain, and I will kick ass!"

Me:  "Good lord."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cuddles the Unkillable Cat

Hello, again, my loyal friends and admirers and anyone who stumbled across this blog on accident while looking for porn, how are you this evening?  I'm still in beautiful Ohio, staying with my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Buck and hearing all sorts of family tales, most of which I dare not share with you lest someone panic and call Homeland Security*.  

Tonight's post is dedicated to a rather remarkable person and all around cool cat, Cuddles!

Do not be alarmed:  this cat is not dead.
Now, I know that Cuddles doesn't look like much.  In fact, she looks like even less in person.  This cat, not to put too fine a point on it, has two feet in grave, which is quite a lot considering that she only has three legs.

I have known Cuddles for many years, and there was a time when she was a fat, sleek, fluffy cat who loved to curl up on any lap in the immediate vicinity.  That was, alas, many years ago, and when I arrived at my Aunt Nancy's house this week and settled myself on her lovely new sofa, I was shocked--nay, horrified--when this fur-covered bag of bones jumped awkwardly onto my legs and demanded attention.  My first reaction, in fact, was to turn to my Aunt Nancy and protest:  "Why is there a dead cat on my lap?!"

 It turns out that Cuddles, who is seventeen years old this year (which is something like 780 in cat years) is not dead, though she certainly looks and feels like she is except for the part where she breathes and hops around on three legs and meows really, really loudly to be petted or fed.

I guess that doesn't sound very dead, but you have to take my word for it.  Petting this cat is terrifying.  You can feel every elderly bone about to snap under your fingers. 

Nevertheless, she has been to the vet many times, and she's not suffering from anything other than old age.  She can hear and see and hop out to the pond every day.  She knows what she wants and when she wants it, and she will yell very very loudly if she doesn't get it.  Just look at those eyes!

Actually, don't look at those eyes.  They've been freaking me out all week.  My theory is that one of my cousin Beth's dozens of children actually found Cuddles' corpse and buried it in the local pet cemetary, and Cuddles came back and is now a zombie cat.

Sleeping or dead?  Hard to tell
My cousin Bekah (the lovely and deadly) wants me to point out that Cuddles has had a rough life.  When she was rescued from the animal shelter, she was the worst looking cat in the place, full of fleas and worms and probably severe psychological problems.  And after they brought her home, she got caught up a tree for days where she was covered with horrible tree sap.  And then she caught an upper respiratory infection that usually kills cats, and indeed the flies came and hovered around her expecting her to die.  But she pulled through all of that, only to have her foot cut off in a car engine.  And she survived that to go on to a long, long life full of lots of pettings and food and snuggles.

So, all-in-all, Cuddles has had a long, adventurous life, and she should be admired for the way that she slowly, slowly hops along the fence in the backyard, under the watchful eye of Lucy the dog.  Or the way that she can survive evenings outside among the coyotes and badgers and unicorns, all of which clearly want nothing to do with taking on this grand old lady.

Of course, what she does not deserve is for some asshole who has seen too many zombie movies to make fun of her on the internet.   Thank goodness that could never happen.

*Please do not call Homeland Security.  They won't find it funny, and neither will any of us.  Especially me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Entrance, Pursued by Birds

Good morning, wonderful readers!  Mom and I are in beautiful Ohio, here to visit my aunts, my uncle and our many cousins.  Several years ago one of those cousins, the lovely but deadly Bekah, tried to encourage me to add more anecdotes about my extended family to this blog, but I was too cowardly to do so.   But it's 1:30am and the Miami valley is quaking with a thunderstorm, making it impossible for me to sleep, and I find myself inspired to transcribe for you a conversation that I had tonight with my Aunt Nancy.  Everyone, of course, should have an Aunt Nancy, but no one has an Aunt Nancy like my Aunt Nancy, as this little interlude shall reveal.

My Aunt Nancy:  "Do you remember the parakeets we had?"

Mom:  "Oh, yes!  Those were great parakeets!"

My Aunt Nancy:  "Butchy was a great parakeet, but Timmy was not.  Do you remember what Timmy used to do to me?"

Mom:  "Chase you into the pantry!"

Me:  "What?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "Timmy was mean.  He would come after me and chase me into the pantry."

Me:  "He was a parakeet, right?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "Yes, a parakeet.  He would bite me and fly at me and make me bleed, and I had to run away and hide in the pantry."

Me:  "How big was this parakeet?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "What do you mean?  He was parakeet size."

Me:  "So five inches long maybe?  How old were you?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "I don't know.  Ten or twelve."

Me:  "So you were forty or fifty times the size of this parakeet."

[significant pause]

My Aunt Nancy:  "He was a really mean bird!  You just don't know.  He was mean!"

Me:  "Mom, was he mean to you?"

Mom:  "No, not really."

My Aunt Nancy:  "It was just me.  He made me bleed!"

Me:  "Right.  A parakeet."

Mom:  "Tell her about that chicken."

Me:  "You had a chicken?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "The chicken lived in Kentucky, and it attacked me in the outhouse."

Me:  [blank look]

My Aunt Nancy:  "When I went down to Kentucky, I used to wait until everyone else was in bed before I went to the outhouse because I didn't want anyone to know I was using it."

Me:  "You went to the outhouse in secret?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "Yes.  I just couldn't stand for anyone to know.  I was like that for years.  I didn't like to use our own bathroom with the window open in case someone might hear me pee."

Me: "So you hid your need to urinate from everyone.  Proceed."

My Aunt Nancy:  "Anyway, one night I scurried out there, and I saw what looked like a pile of papers in the outhouse.  You know how they would have magazines and stuff for when the toilet paper ran out?"

Me:  "No, I did not know that."

My Aunt Nancy:  "Yes.  The Sears and Roebuck Catalogue.  So I left my contact lenses behind, and I saw this pile that I thought was magazines or something, and I started using the outhouse, but this it made this AWERK sound, and..."

Me: "Wait.  Do that sound again."

My Aunt Nancy:  "AWERK.  It's the sound hens make when they lay an egg."

Me:  "I see.  Please continue."

My Aunt Nancy:  "So it made this sound, and I thought I was alone in there, so I jumped up, and I hit my head on the tin roof, and that scared the chicken, and she attacked me."

Me:  "The chicken attacked you.  How big was this chicken."

My Aunt Nancy:  "Normal hen size."

Me:  "So you were maybe twenty times the size of the chicken."

[Second significant pause]

My Aunt Nancy:  "You don't understand!  It was a little outhouse and the chicken went crazy and I was trapped inside!"

Me:  "Right."

My Aunt Nancy:  "So when the hen started screaming, I hear my mother-in-law yell that a fox has gotten after her best laying hen, and then my father-in-law gets his rifle and comes running out, but instead of a fox, they find me running out of the outhouse with my pants around my ankles being chased by a chicken."

Me:  "Bare-assed."

My Aunt Nancy:  "Exactly!  It was so embarrassing."

Me:  "So have you been the victim of other bird attacks?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "Well, when I was a tiny girl, a bird pooped on my head, and my mother had to take out my braid and wash my hair."

Me:  "Okay..."

My Aunt Nancy:  "And then there's the time Buck and I were fishing at Hueston Woods, and these geese attacked me."

Me:  "Geese?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "Not Canada geese.  White geese.  I started feeding them bread, but when I ran out, they got really mad and came at me.  They were biting and pinching and chasing me, and Buck tried to throw stones at them, but eventually we had to leave that part of the park because they wouldn't leave me alone."

Me:  "Was this a flock of geese?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "I think there were three."

Me:  "Three geese?"

My Aunt Nancy:  "Yes, but one was really aggressive.  He was the ring-leader."

Me:  "One goose.  And there were two of you?"

[Third significant pause.]

My Aunt Nancy:  "They pinched really hard!"

Me:  "I'm sure."

My Aunt Nancy:  "And when I was in you remember this, Buck?  Do you remember when I got chased by that peacock in Germany?"

Me:  "I'm not sure I can take any more of this.  You are clearly a victim of repeated bird-on-human violence.  I'm surprised that you aren't terrified of anything with wings."

My Aunt Nancy: "I'm not afraid of birds.  Lots of bad things have happened to me in outhouses, too."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This Week's Funniest Facebook Posts: End of Semester Edition

Ah, today is graduation day, beloved readers, so I am in my office very, very early in order to get a decent parking spot.  Also, I am dripping all over the floor from the chilly rain that I sauntered through at 7am.

But, fear not!  Even on a gloomy-looking day, there is humor on the internets!

This Week's Funniest Facebook Posts:  End of Semester Edition
  1. Tepid.  Everything today is tepid.  Even my shoes.
  2. I thought it was a completely sketchy song about coming alone to meet someone in a room and then turning all lovey dovey because someone brought them some fruit. 
  3. If I had a clone, that clone would do all of my grading.  But then again, I am a bastard.
  4. So it turns out that a Manhattan is basically a big glass of whiskey. 
  5. "You can still post while offline." Oddly encouraging. 
  6. Just got done doing laundry. She ate two more pairs of my goddamn underwear TODAY! 
  7. Graduation is like this big cliff thing, and you have to jump off of it, and you don’t have enough beer. 
  8.  "Please don't let your teardrops smudge your work." --me, handing out my Linear Algebra exams. 
  9. You are not the cruise director for the library. 
  10. According to Martha Stewart, bourbon marshmallows exist.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Real Conversation with Mom: Poof!

Me:  "You are in big trouble, Madame!"

Mom:  "No, I am not.  I am your sweet and wonderful mother."

Me:  "My sweet and wonderful mother would not tell me to take a nap and then steal my glass of wine."

Mom:  "That glass is right where you left it."

Me:  "True. Yet it no longer holds any wine.  That was my celebration glass of wine!"

Mom:  "No, it was my it's-raining-and-my-arthritis-hurts glass of wine. If I drank it.  I did not drink it."

Me:  "Are you saying that one of the cats drank it?"

Mom:  "No, no.  It must have just disappeared--poof!"

Me:  "Poof?!"

Mom:  "Poof.  And you know why it did that?"

Me:  "It did not do that; you drank my wine!"

Mom:  "It went poof because you went around bragging that you turned your grades in and made all of the other professors feel bad.  You do that every time, and finally you are being punished.  Poof!"

Me:  "You are a terrible mother who drank my wine!  Admit it!"

Mom:  "Poof!  Poof poof poof!"

Me:  "My head hurts."

Mom: "See?  You are being punished.  Pain and poof.  Next time you will treat people better."

Me:  "Next time, I will drink the wine faster!"

Mom:  "Tee-hee!  Poof!"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Overheard at Kalamazoo

Once again, loyal readers, I greet you from an airport, specifically the Kalamazoo / Battlecreek Airport, which is a lovely, if exhausted place this Sunday morning, filled with bleary-eyed medievalists recovering from serious scholarship and the midnight dance.

I, on the other hand, am chipper as a chipmunk, having had a stimulating mug of English breakfast tea an hour ago, so I decided to compose for you my last missive from the 49th International Congress of Medieval Studies.

Best Lines Overheard At Kalamazoo 2014,
or, Why I Kept Grinning Like a Maniac When Medievalists Were Talking

  • "Didn't someone want to paint with your blood?"  "Yes, that was a medievalist."
  • "Is this your....ointment?"
  • "Oh, there's your psycho friend!"  "Which one?"
  • "Don't forget:  you forced a duck penis on me, Natalie."
  • "We were all nerds in high school; the only question is, how much of a nerd were you?  And you, you were a member of the A-V club."
  • "I don't eat fish, but whales are mammals."
  • "Wow. She ripped Margery Kempe a new one."
  • "Apparently, I'm slippery."
  • "I like my bazoombas to be up and out.  Winking at people."
  • "Our dough has risen!"
  • "Listen, I do not care what they say about me.  They can say that I'm totally wrong and dead between the ears, just as long as they cite me correctly."
  • "How comfortable are you with night terrors?"
  • "I do have a cute pussy.  In fact, I have three."
  • "Beware, Natalie! Goose ahead!  Goose ahead!"
  • "They always publish everything together.  It's kind of nauseating."
  • "First, you take a dead puffin, and you insert it into a seal..."
  • "Geese mate for life.  You have doomed that goose to celibacy."
  • "Somebody else please say something ridiculous.  I'm tired of hearing about the rising dough."
  • "Never, ever let your family interfere with John Gower."
  • "I always wear pointy shoes at the book exhibits on Sunday morning.  What do you mean,'why?'  What are you, a grad student?  You have to kick some kneecaps to get to the half-price bargains."
  • "I don't know.  He seemed pretty smart when he was reading his paper, but later he couldn't tell Gandalf from Dumbledore, if you know what I mean."
  • "Are you offering your cherry to everyone at the table?"

Friday, May 9, 2014

So Much Depends on a Broken G-string

Greetings, beloved readers!  I am posting to you from Kalamazoo, specifically, the International Congress of Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University in Room 121 of the Valley III dorm, which is a lovely place to sleep for four nights, provided you want to spend very little money and receive very few amenities, including, I must point out, a shower curtain.  Which I do not have.

Now I realize that I have posted about Kalamazoo before, gentle readers, multiple times, in fact, but I have decided that it is time to cast a brief, but bright ray of light upon this most mysterious of gatherings and provide you with a vision of the true nature of the medieval conference.  Here, therefore, is a description of my day:

  • 5:30am:  Wake up in pain because I have fallen asleep in a very uncomfortable spot, specifically, the bed in room 121 of Valley III dorm.
  • 6:00am: Ibid.
  • 7:00am:  Ibid again.
  • 8:00am:  Wake up to shouting from my suite mate, Michelle, as someone has dared to phone her at 8am during Kalamazoo which is a Thing Which Is Not Done.
  • 8:30-9:15am:  Speak with various beloved relatives
  • 9:20am:  Call the organizers of the conference to confirm that I do not need a ride to the emergency room this morning.*
  • 10:00am-4:45pm:  Listen to brilliant papers presented by brilliant scholars of medieval studies, interrupted by visits to the book exhibitors and lunch at Subway.
  • 5:00-6:00pm:  wine hour
  • 6:00-6:45pm:  argue about whose turn it is to call a cab to get to dinner.  Make Susannah call cab.  Cab fails to come.  Make Michelle call cab instead.  Cab comes.
  • 7:00-8:45pm:  dinner.
  • 9:00-9:20pm:  open bar
  • 9:30pm:  group sing-along
Yes, precious readers, you read that right:  group sing-along.  This is one of the deep, dark secrets of medieval studies:  hold a congress of medievalists, and, inevitably, a Guy Named Joe will show up with a guitar and a mandolin and a harmonica and a group sing-along will ensue.

I know that some of you are thinking, "WTF?  Is this or is this not an academic event?  I have heard about the dance.  I have heard about the swords. I have even heard about the vicious swans,** but this group sing-along, this is an altogether new and frightening revelation!"

And you are right, my wonderful ones, for this is a secret rarely shared outside of the medievalist community:  we have a group sing-along.  If you come to Kalamazoo, you may find yourself innocently sipping a beer from your red solo cup, when the Venerable Pete will quietly approach.  "Next room over, " he will whisper.  And if you are wise (and have imbibed sufficient beer), you will follow that Pete to the next room over and witness....nay! you will the most amazing group sing-along in all of academe.

There will be songs from Peter, Paul and Mary, songs from Ireland, even songs from Johnny Cash.  They will not be sung well, precious readers, but they will be sung thoroughly.  The Guy Named Joe, he can play those instruments, and he will valiantly introduce his fellow medievalists to a key.  But what is a key to a medievalist?  A mere suggestion, a drop of sound, as soon lost as heard, for when medievalists sing together, we make use of all of the notes, often all at once.

Tonight, however, the group sing-along faced a peril unforeseen:  the Guy Named Joe broke his g-string.  Alas, what would we do?  I must tell you honestly, loyal readers, that I was worried.  But, fool that I am, after all of these years, I still underestimate my fellow medievalists.  Did we scatter while the Guy Named Joe struggled to replace his g-string?  We did not!  For we are medievalists.

While the Guy Named Joe repaired his instrument, his fellow medievalists boldly stepped forth to lead us in singing sea shanties (sea shanties, my dears, are like songs except more shouty).  And when we ran out of sea shanties, another medievalist held our rapt attention by reciting a poem he had penned about an Abundance of Overweight Cats.  It was a moving poem, and when it ended, That Guy Named Joe returned to us, his instrument once again whole, to lead us in a very vox clamantis of Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons."

This is my twenty-first Kalamazoo conference, my friends, and I still feel the same way I did when I attended my very first one:  being a medievalist is the very best thing a person can be.  Well, next to Batman.  It might be better to be Batman.  But if you can't be Batman, being a medievalist is the very best thing a person can be.

*Because the previous evening I was attacked by a bunny rabbit and took a great fall and that Michelle was forced to file an incident report in order to get extra towels and some ice for my knee. 
**The swans are vicious, dear readers, but they do not leap out at you in the dark, causing you to plummet to the ground, roll down a hill, and alarm security personnel.  Remember: it's the rabbits that will git you!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Real Conversations with Mom: On Not Stapling One's Pants

Mom: "You know, I really need to teach you to put in a hem.  Some day I might not be here to do this."

Me:  "You have tried to teach me to hem twice.  Both times you ended up cursing.  Loudly."

Mom:  "That's just ridiculous!  What are you going to do when I am dead?"

Me:  "You are not allowed to die."

Mom:  "I will die if I want to die!  Now, what are you going to do about hemming?"

Me:  "I will do what I did in grad school:  I will staple my pants."

Mom:  "You are very stupid for someone with a doctor's degree.  You cannot staple your pants!"

Me:  "Why not?"

Mom:  "Because when you wash those pants, the staples will rust."

Me:  "Surely not.  Aren't staples rust-proof nowadays?"

Mom:  "No, they are not.  Normal people staple paper.  Do you wash your paper?"

Me:  "Not on purpose."

Mom: "So?  Staples rust. Look it up on your computer thing."

Me:  "Hmmm...there seem to be rust-proof staples, but they are special staples worthy of much advertising.  I doubt they are what I have in my stapler."

Mom: "See?  And when they rust, the rust will get on your pants and stain them.  You cannot staple your pants!"

Me:  "Some people...people I know...have suggested duct tape."

Mom:  "Duct tape?!  I do not think that will work."

Me:  "It worked on Apollo 13."

Mom:  "Listen, you dumbhead, duct tape on Apollo 13 was not put in the washing machine."

Me:  "Duct tape can do anything!"

Mom:  "It cannot hem.  You are a lost cause.  If I decide to die, you will trip over all of your pants and have broken legs and everyone will make fun of you.  You will have to pay someone to hem your pants."

Me:  "I will not do that.  I'd rather not wear pants."

Mom:  "Hah!  I'm glad I will be dead and not have to see that."

Me:  "Mom!"

Mom:  "Teehee!"

Sunday, April 27, 2014

On Not Being Stalked at the Grocery Store

Good morning, lovely readers!  I am up and bouncing around early today because my house is a mess, my yard is a mess, and sixteen Chaucer students are coming for dinner and a Monty Python movie tonight.  So there is much to do!

One of the things I had to do was go to the grocery store, and I am posting this brief tale at Mom's insistence.  She says it was "as embarrassing as sh!t" and that "you'd better put it on your computer thing so everyone can see what I have to put up with!"

This is called tough love, I believe.

So here's what happened:  Mom and I went to the Lowe's to get the really heavy duty cleaning supplies, and then we went to the Publix.  We go with a list, precious readers, because if we don't, we come home with three kinds of milk but no bread and have to go back.  And that makes us grumpy.

Having given Mom the half of the list labeled "salad stuff" (because Mom is the queen of salad making), I began to flit around the store, grabbing items in order off of the list.  Now, that is not the order in which they appear in the grocery store.  My list is, of course, alphabetical.  The grocery store is not.  So I was zigzagging around, grabbing things and carrying them to Mom's cart when I noticed that I was being stalked.

You see, everywhere I went, there was a nice young man in a Publix vest.  The same nice young man.  Around corners, near the freezers, by the sale items---everywhere.  I started to get nervous.  Surely, he wasn't following me?  I started flitting around faster, snatching items and then backtracking, to see if I could lose him.  No dice.  The more erratic my movements, the more quickly he followed.  It was creepy.  I started to grow alarmed.  Why was this Publix guy pursuing me with such vigor?  Did he think I was shoplifting?  Is there a rule against flitting in Publix?  Against shopping alphabetically?  I tell you, beloved readers, my heart was pounding, and not just because I was shopping at a near gallop.

Eventually, I stopped next to Mom and Mom's cart to rest and plan my next move.  That's when she gave me Exasperated Look #3 and said, "Do you realize that you have coffee dripping down the front of your shirt?"  And, lo! dearest readers, I did have coffee dripping down the front of my shirt.  Not just any coffee, but the coffee you can get for free if you get to Publix before 10am.  And, as you have probably guessed by now, I could see that the coffee was not only dripping down my shirt, but it had made a little trail on the floor.

I suppose you're giggling now, loyal readers, but honestly, I did not notice until that moment that 1. my hand was burning slightly from hot coffee, and 2. my stalker was carrying a mop.  It was a shameful moment, a horrible shameful moment when I realized that I had spent the last half hour darting through the aisles of the grocery store like Pac-Man in reverse, trailing little wet dots behind me that this dedicated employee was desperately trying to mop up before some other customer was gravely injured.  It is a terrible, dark day when you realize that the shopper from hell, she is you.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Brief Conversation with Mom: It's All in Her Mind

Me:  "Stop that right now!"

Mom:  "What?"

Me:  "You are flipping me the bird!"

Mom:  "No, I'm not."

Me:  "Not with your hands, but with your mind.  I can see it!  In your mind, you are giving me a giant middle finger."

Mom:  "I am very disappointed in you."

Me:  "Because I am wrong?"

Mom:  "Because it took you over forty years to notice."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Friend Liz's Funniest Facebook Posts

Well, gentle readers, I was not planning to post tonight.  I have grading to do, and laundry, and torturing myself about having bought a book by George Will.*  However, my friend Liz is repeatedly hinting, prodding and even begging to be a part of one of my Funniest Facebook Statuses posts.  But instead of posting increasingly amusing statuses, Liz is just making more and more remarkable comments all over my facebook feed.

So here are my ten favorite posts from Liz; I have rearranged them into a paragraph so that they make a little story.  A suspicious, ambiguous story with lots of penises.  This is for you, Liz.  Just remember:  you asked for it.

My Friend Liz's Funniest Facebook Posts

No wonder you can't hit the green. You seem to think that my yard is part of the fairway.  Evil Fat-Laden potatoes.  Well, you ought to stop looking at their penises.  You'll have to pry that out of my cold, dean hands.  I have yet to see an unpretty penis.  Just have at it.  If I vaccinate the fish, they'll get autism. Everyone knows that. And autistic fish just swim in circles and stare aimlessly.  Oh, wait.  He has three layers of fur. He can only tolerate so much girl heat.  SACS is tough. It's kind of the raccoon of the regional accreditors.  Man. I was hoping for a duck penis.

*It's about Wrigley Field.  I must have all the books about the Cubs, so just you shut up right now.