Category Archives: quickies

2021 is Here


And I still can’t get anything done.

There’s a bit of wisdom going around in social media circles: that the real New Year doesn’t begin — here in America, at least — until Jan 20 (not incidentally the day we have a new president). I like that and I need that, because so far, 2021 is delivering no relief from the constant, unrelenting pain 2020 wrought.

This Is Fine GIF

I mean, we’re still losing thousands of people every day (more than ever, in fact). And less than a week ago, our actual capitol was literally assaulted by people who somehow think that our soon-to-be-ex-president actually won re-election, despite zero evidence in favor of their argument and piles and piles of evidence against it. And, oh, by the way, they plan to come back in greater numbers in capitol cities across the nation in a week’s time. No big deal!

Everything Is Fine Reaction GIF

As is no great surprise, the turning of the page on the calendar offers little in the way of change for things in the world. These numbers and assignations are all made up, of course… January 1st, 2021, could just as easily have been Hunsplith the 89th, 86742, for all the care the universe has for our resolutions and the new year.

Yelling Kyle Hill GIF by Because Science

And I know some people out there and even our own backyards have managed to be productive and to make forward progress despite all this turbulence … but it’s been nigh impossible for me. To have any awareness of the news at all is like listening to ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles blasting down a residential street at three in the morning … all the time, every day.

this is fine GIF

Can we improve ourselves in times like these? Or is surviving, making it through one day to the next, all we can ask of ourselves?

This Is Fine Over It GIF by Film Riot


We Has It


COVID has come to my house.

Wife had symptoms at the beginning of the week, felt bad enough to get tested by the end of the week, and last night got her positive diagnosis. Meanwhile, I started feeling … ehh, not great about on Friday, and that’s developed into full-on yuckiness by today.

I got my nostrils roto-rootered out this morning, but that feels like a formality at this point. We have the bug.

And the big surprise about it is not that we have it, but rather how long it took for us to get it. Wife and I both work in schools, which — here in the South — have taken a bit more of a “we’ll take our chances” approach than schools in other parts of the country. Masks are optional. Social distancing is enforced “where possible”, etc.

But we — my wife and I — have tried a little harder than most, I think, to keep ourselves and others around us safe. And now we are forced (by our own sense of conscience more than anything else) to grapple with some tough questions. Who did we see in the past week? Where did we go? Did we really need to do those things? How many people might we have exposed, and how much responsibility do we bear?

This is a lot to think about, and for anxious sorts (like my wife and I — more so my wife than I but I, too), it snowballs pretty quick. So now we’re sitting at home with some unexpected days off, feeling gross because of this bug (though none of us, thankfully, are having any serious symptoms), but also feeling gross out of guilt and worry.

A plague on our house.

I’d love to bring something creative or insightful out of this, but I’m too cloudy-headed to think clearly about it.

Stay safe out there. Wear a mask.


Out, out, damned line


The more I write, the more I think about the craft of writing, and the more I think about the craft of writing, the more I think about how badly I screwed up by not thinking about it more when I was just starting.

Of course, when I was just starting, I hadn’t thought about it all that much, so I couldn’t have done otherwise… and yeah, thoughts like that are ultimately pretty useless.

The point of this is that I’ve got this story idea that I’ve been kicking around for a few years now and I’ve just started actually putting words to paper (or, y’know, words to pixels or whatever, you know what I mean) on it, and … I mean, the idea is nifty and all, but… okay, I have to digress further.

With my other stories, it sort of felt like, from the premise, the story just wanted to get up and go. Like the conflict started up and took off immediately, like a cat startled out of slumber by a zucchini squash.

netflix and chill GIF

With this one, there’s less of that immediate impulse to action. So it feels like the story needs something. It needs guidance. Or, I dunno, maybe it’s not fully formed yet and it needs more time to incubate.

So I spent my session today doing something I’ve never done — in advance, anyway — for a story: outlining it.

That’s right, I went back to high school and I made an outline.

The outline sucks, it’s vague as heck and it reads like every action / spy / thriller movie you’ve ever heard of, but y’know, it’s an outline. And once I had it down, I started fleshing it out with possibilities.

And man, it’s weird. Because in my other work, I usually don’t plan all that much. I just strap a lead on the story and try to hold on while it rushes off to wherever it’s gonna rush off to. But what I noticed is that, in my other stories, they end up wandering around, feeling lost in the middle.

I don’t want to get lost on this one. So I’m trying something new.

Will it work? I don’t have a clue.

Anyway, here’s another cat gif, because cat gifs are awesome and it’s Friday and that’s awesome.

cat attack GIF


Triskaidekaphobia


I know this will offend somebody out there, but I think — maybe — if it’s not possible for an animal to share your phobia, then your phobia is basically not a real thing.

Like, fear of the dark. Okay, it’s reasonable for an animal to be afraid of the dark — could be danger out there in the night, or down in that cave, and I, an animal, don’t want to get eaten — so I’d be dark-averse.

Likewise, claustrophobia. Yeah, what I want to do is break out and run free, so being unable to do exactly that thing, especially in a space that’s close and cramped and that I can see no way out of — that would be a detriment to my feelings of well-being.

Or heights. Animals seem to know that a fall from a great height would be bad for them and hence you don’t see a lot of them leaping off tall buildings or cliffs. Heck, my dog is ginger even getting down from the couch.

But triskaidekaphobia? Fear of the number 13? Impossible for an animal to be scared of 13 because they have no concept of 13, so they can’t have any baggage or lore associated with 13.

Same thing tells you why hating Monday is not a real thing. (I mean, it is in that we all hate Mondays, but only because of our sociological construct around Monday being the beginning of the working week for most of us.) Monday isn’t a thing if you’re an animal. You either woke up this morning or you didn’t, and if you did, then it’s a good day.

Anyway, today is Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th is dumb, so I hope yours is perfectly ordinary.

Also, triskaidekaphobia is really hard to type.


Germans Probably Have a Word for This


We need words for some of the various social discomforts that arise around public restrooms.

Like, how about that feeling when you walk into a public bathroom, and it’s just … horrific. Like it smells like a decomposing roadside deer crossed with a wretched witches’ brew and a healthy dose of eau de dumpster. And you handle your business in the fog of it, but then as you’re walking out, somebody else walks in, and they can only assume you’re responsible for the atrocity besetting their nostrils. This feeling — that panic where in your head you say hey this isn’t my fault, I did not do this thing, please don’t judge me but in reality you say nothing because to say something about it would be weirder and worse than being judged?

This feeling needs a name.

Or that feeling when you go into a public stall and have to sit down, and there’s no immediate sign that anybody else has been there recently, but when you sit down, the seat is warm. I mean, bathrooms are kinda like hotel rooms, right? You know other people use them — that’s kinda the whole point — but while you’re in there? That space is yours, and the thought of somebody else’s butt on your seat? It feels like a crime against decency.

This feeling needs a name.

Here’s another one: you go into the restroom, not to do business, but for something else. Like you had to check your face to make sure your co-workers haven’t failed to notify you that you have shaving cream on your ear. But on the way in, you pass by somebody just hanging in the hall outside, in a way that kinda says yeah, I’m gonna be here for a few minutes, on their phone, or chatting with a friend or whatever. So you go in there and you do whatever you need to. But this isn’t a hand-washing visit; you just had to pop in. But now you think, shoot, that person out there is gonna think I did my business and didn’t wash my hands. So you think about washing your hands, but then another part of your brain says, no, that’s stupid, nobody’s paying attention to whether you had enough time to wash your hands. But then you say to yourself maybe you should just wash them anyway, but then no, this was not a hand-washing operation, I’m not gonna be pressured to wash my hands just because somebody might notice that I didn’t. So you stand there staring yourself down in the mirror like a maniac because you won’t be self-pressured into washing your hands but you also won’t be socially shamed for not washing them.

This feeling needs a name.

Or, what about — and I’m a guy, so I grant that girls may play by different rules here — what about that feeling when you’re in a public restroom — doing anything, be it your business, washing up, checking your watch, whatever — and another guy in the restroom says literally anything to you? This is an egregious violation of the social contract, but this jerk has done it, so now, what do you do? Ignore the joker who has so little sense of the social order that he wants to open his mouth and say a single solitary word in this sacred profane place? But to do so seems to violate the other social contract which dictates that you speak and respond when spoken to. So do you break the unwritten laws of the restroom and respond, opening yourself up to the possibility of having an actual conversation with a stranger in the last place you want to have a conversation? No, you chuckle awkwardly and double-time it away from the weirdo.

This feeling needs a name.

I dunno. What are some others? Or better yet, some names for these feelings? I am desperate.

Bathroom, Toilet, Wc, Restroom, Outdoor, Forest, Autumn
A socially isolated toilet, the way nature intended. Sure there’s no plumbing, but thank heck there are no awkward interactions.

This post brought to you out of sheer bloody-minded determination to write something not even vaguely related to current events.


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