image: a succulent houseplant, genus unknown, in a decorative pot on a windowsill

I really thought this little guy was a goner. He was all shriveled up, most of his leaves had gone limp, some had even blackened, and I had no clue what was wrong. I usually kill houseplants by forgetting to water them, but I’d been watering this guy about every ten days, which ought to be enough for a succulent.

In desperation, I bought a bag of potting soil and repotted him in fresh soil. That was about three weeks ago. Before the first week was over he was no longer dying. He didn’t look great, but he wasn’t dying. By the end of the second week he was looking a little better. Still not great, but better. And this week he virtually sprung back to life. His stems and leaves are plump and green and he’s standing up proudly, reaching for the sunlight. I trimmed off all his dead leaves and he looks almost like he was never on the verge of death. There are a few iffy patches on a couple of his leaves but if you didn’t know he’d been almost dead you wouldn’t know what the patches were from.

“I am your density.”

Do you believe in fate/destiny?

Short answer: No, but also maybe, depending on what “destiny” means.

I want to. I’m so filled with anxiety over every decision I have to make, large and small, that it would be a great relief to know my whole life’s been planned ahead of time and I’m only playing a part that’s been written for me.

Also, I’m monumentally lazy, so the idea that I was destined to lay around all day today doing nothing would, again, be a huge relief. I could sleep peacefully tonight knowing I was not, in fact, supposed to do something better with my one precious life.

Finally, I believe the world and everything on it will be incinerated by the sun in ten billion years, give or take a few, so in the sense that the earth and everybody on it has a very predictable end that’s literally written in the stars (well, one star, in this case), that’s sort of a destiny.

But while the idea of fate and/or destiny appeals to the anxiety-ridden/lazy sides of me, I simply can’t believe we have a destiny to fulfill beyond “be nice to other people.” It would be a pretty great destiny and not really that easy for us to fulfill, when you consider the history of humanity, but I doubt that’s what people mean when they ask if I believe in destiny.

mom voice

I stuck my knife in the toaster because the toasted bread didn’t pop up high enough to grab it with my fingers. Yes, I know better, but for a second I completely forgot how stupid it was to do that and went ahead and did it anyway.

My Darling B happened to be in the kitchen while I was being stupid. Not only that, she was looking directly at me and just as I stuck the end of the knife into the toaster slot she shouted my full name using her Mom Voice. I know she used her Mom Voice because I jerked the knife out of the toaster and simultaneously jumped about a foot away from it without having consciously made myself do it. It was as if an entirely different person had taken over my body and made it do something before I knew what was happening. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have stopped myself.

I believe that was the one and only time she used her Mom Voice on me. It was honestly kind of a terrifying experience so I think I’d be able to recall if she did it more than once, but maybe Moms have a more subtle version of the Mom Voice that makes you obey them without scaring you. Or maybe they can rewrite your memories. That actually seems plausible now that I think of it.


All on January 22nd, 2023:
Monterey, CA: 1 man killed 10 people & wounded 10 more
Baton Rouge, LA: 1 man wounded 12 people
Shreveport, LA: 1 man wounded 5 adults and 8 children; 2 are in critical condition.


“Would you live your life over again if you could?”

I get that I’m supposed to say “yes” as a way of expressing the feeling that I have no regrets, but this is a dumb question no matter how you slice it.

If I could live my life over but I wouldn’t know that I was reliving it, what would be the point of that?

If I could live my life over and I knew I was reliving it, but couldn’t do anything to change it, I suppose that would be all right for the good times but when it came time to relive the parts that sucked, HOO-boy, I’m not sure I’d survive it the second time around. I’m kind of a nervous wreck to start with. That’s just the personality I’ve had the luck to draw. Coupled with that, I have one of those memories that makes me relive the parts of my life that sucked at random. “Hey remember that time you did that really embarrassing thing that everyone saw you do and they all said ‘geeze what’d you have to do that for?’ and you’ve never been able to live it down? Remember that?” If you’re around me and you see me grimace or hear me say “oh shit” out loud for seemingly no reason, that’s what’s happening to me. There are especially cringey episodes of my life that I have relived in memory several thousand times. If I were to literally relive my life, I’d probably ruin the good parts of it getting tied in emotional knots as I waited for the sucky parts.

Now, if I could relive my life and I knew I was reliving it AND I could change it, I’d definitely jump at the chance to enjoy the good times, maybe make a few more of them, and to iron out the bad times so maybe they weren’t so bad, or even to eliminate them if possible. Who wouldn’t say yes to an opportunity like that? But that’s not the point of asking the question, is it? The point of asking the question is so that I can affirm I like my life just the way it all turned out. But if I were to literally relive it in a way that allowed me to change the cringey parts, well, it wouldn’t be the life I had, would it? It’d be a completely different life because everyone has regrets they’d like to correct, and if I went back and corrected mine, I’d go down an entirely different path than the one I went down originally.

It also has to be said that if I could relive my life and I could make changes to it, I’d probably generate a whole new set of regrets that my neurotic brain would randomly force me to recall over and over, on top of the old memories of the previously-committed cringe moments, which I’m pretty sure I’d still have to recall even if I managed to make them less cringey or even if I overcame them. I know my brain pretty well at this point and I don’t see why it wouldn’t keep bringing up shit like that even if it didn’t happen the second time around, because it did happen the first time so I didn’t actually erase it, see? See how that works?

So no, I wouldn’t relive my life over if I could. Living it just the once was plenty satisfying for me, thanks anyway.

FB Bday

Everything is different now. I used to get birthday cards in the mail, now I get one from Mom. The rest of the mail I get is all catalogs for products I would never use and charities I gave money to once ten years ago. I get my birthday greetings on Facebook.

This is one of the changed things that I’m all right with. Nobody sends cards or writes letters, but through Facebook I reconnected to boatloads of people I’d lost touch with. I get to see their grandchildren, and photos of the places they visited on their travels, and hear about the books they’re reading. It’s genuinely enjoyable.

And, once each year, Facebook is good enough to remind them when my birthday is coming up. I get a flurry of birthday greetings on my day of destiny, and every year I respond to each and every one of them. I have to admit I enjoy the heck out of it.


And now, some inspirational words from comedian Tom Papa:

“I don’t know why we don’t feel like we’re doing great. You work hard, you do all the stuff you’re supposed to be doing. You’re doing your best and still, you feel like it’s not enough. I think it’s social media. Before social media, I thought I was kicking ass. Now every time I open my phone someone’s in my face. ‘Are you killing it today? Are you living your best life?’ No, I’m not. Because that’s not normal. You know what’s normal? How you feel right now. Right now in your funny little gassy bodies. A little achy, a little tired, light-headed, taking deep breaths so you don’t pass out in front of your friends, worried about your bills, worried about how you’re getting home, worried about that thing you found on your ass. That’s normal.

“And it’s exhausting. And that’s normal, too. Being tired, which I know you are, all the time, that’s normal. You don’t need a five-hour energy drink, you need to lay down once in a while. But we beat ourselves up about it all the time, right? All my friends: ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Two o’clock in the afternoon, every day, I get so tired. What’s wrong with me?’ Nothing. Nothing. You woke up in the dark, went to a job you don’t enjoy, already put in five hours, they gave you twenty minutes for lunch, and now you need a nap. And they won’t let you, so you’ve got to hide in the bathroom stall from your co-workers with your feet up and close your eyes for ten seconds so maybe you’ll get through the god-damned day.

“You’re doing fine.”

Tom Papa’s set “You’re Doing Great!” is on Netflix and it’s well worth one hour of your time.

dry eye

Everybody knows that old people are hard of hearing or that their eyesight has gone bad. It’s common knowledge because it comes up in conversation all the time, but for whatever reason I never heard anybody talk about dry eye. I never HEARD of dry eye until I was old myself and my own eyes dried out. And I want to tell you, that shit sucks.

Woke up in the middle of the night, rubbed my eyes to get the sleepers out of the corners. Stopped immediately because I felt like I was grinding broken shards of glass into my eyeballs. What the hell is this? Looked it up on WebMD the next day to make sure I didn’t have eyeball cancer. Nope, it’s only dry eye. Everybody gets it. Totally normal. Happens all the time to all kinds of people. Nothing you can do other than put some eyedrops in. Welcome to old age.

On the entire opposite end of the spectrum of eye moisture, my eyes get super weepy for an hour or so after I wake up, almost like they’re overcompensating for drying out. If you see me walking down the street in the early morning, tears steaming from my eyes, don’t worry at all about me, I’m okay. I’m not crying. Well, technically I guess I am crying, but it’s not because I’m heartbroken, it’s because I’m old. This is just how my crappy old eyes work in the morning now. I’m fine.

wakey wakey

I had to get out of bed early this morning because My Darling B wasn’t making any noise AT ALL. I woke up from a dream, made a quick visit to the bathroom, climbed back into bed and, while I was waiting to return to Slumberland for what I was sure would be several more hours, I realized that B was making absolutely no sound. I couldn’t even hear her breathing.

This is not normal. Normal, on any given night in our house, is lots and lots of snoring. I’m as guilty of it as she is, and I know this because she has made a recording of me snoring so I could hear that I sound like a diesel dump truck downshifting on an off-ramp when I snore. She sounds more like a cartoon Dagwood: SNXXXX! SNXXXX!

So when she makes absolutely no sound at all, it can weird me out. Not always. There are lots of nights when I’m so oblivious of what’s going on around me that I can easily return to sleep after any one of my six dozen visits to the loo in the middle of the night, and thank goodness. Having Old Man Bladder would be a million times worse if I couldn’t.

But on a night like tonight after waking from a dream full of super-creepy twists and turns, my lizard brain sometimes kicks in. “She’s not breathing,” it says to me.

“Oh stop it,” I say right back. “Of course she’s breathing.”

“Can you hear her breathing? No, you can’t.”

“Of course I can’t, my tinnitus is ringing off the hook.”

“Your tinnitus isn’t that loud.”

“Shrieking banshees aren’t as loud as my tinnitus. Quit bothering me.”

“So you’re not worried at all that she’s not breathing.”

“No, I’m not worried, because she is breathing and she’s fine.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. She’s perfectly fine. It’s just that tonight she’s really, really quiet. Happens all the time”

“No. It never happens. She’s never this quiet.”

“Well aren’t you going to do something about it then?”

“And what am I going to do? Give her a poke? That’d go over well I’m sure.”

“You don’t have to do anything as rude as poking her. Just roll over, yawn, scratch yourself, make a little noise, same as you do every night.”

That’s what I did: I made a little noise, then laid perfectly still to see what her reaction would be. Only she didn’t react at all. She continued to lie there, still as a statue, and made no sound. So I rolled over, yawned, stretched, adjusted the bed covers, did a little cat/cow, farted. Finally she made a tiny snuffling noise.

“There! See? She’s breathing.”

“Pffft. Corpses make a noise just like that when they get gassy.”

“You went there. I can’t believe you went there. How are you even part of my psyche?”

“Your psyche is totally screwed up and you know it. Now give her a poke to see if she’s alive.”

Well, dear reader, I didn’t poke her. At that point I gave up on sleep, rolled out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make some coffee. As I grabbed my pants on the way out, B whimpered in her sleep and shifted the blankets to get more comfortable.

Sleep well, B.