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!"