April 17, 2013 § 62 Comments
The first time I said, “Fuck math,” I was in 8th grade. I haven’t stopped saying it since.
(For the record: It was algebra’s fault. What the hell are X and Y doing in the middle of a math problem? Math is supposed to be about numbers, not letters. Letters are my thing. Leave the letters alone and keep walking, math, you greedy sonofabitch.)
Don’t get me wrong. I see the value in numbers. I like balance and evidence and science. And I totally know that math education is important, so please, teachers, don’t get all over me for this one. Just let me make my case.
* * *
Fuck Math: Exhibit A
Gather ’round, ye fellow nerds. I need to shed a dorky little tear. A few weeks ago, I went into a big chain bookstore and tried to find a new novel that had just been glowingly reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. This place is the only bookseller anywhere near my part of town, so it was my only choice if I wanted the book in my hands that day. (We used to have a great independent bookstore, but it went out of business.)
They didn’t have the book in stock. They did, however, have 16 shelves of calendars (3 shelves just for the ones about cats) and a wide selection of coffee mugs, bookmarks, and chocolates. The sales associate explained it to me as such: “Well, it’s just, like, that’s kind of a weird book, so, like, if we don’t know how it’ll sell, we don’t order very many copies. It’s just, you know, math.”
Outwardly, I said: “Thank you.”
Inwardly, I said: FUCK MATH.
That’s not the first time I’ve had that book shopping experience. And look, I’m not going to get all You’ve Got Mail about it. I understand that superstores with the benefit of massive purchasing power can sell things for less than the cool little bookstores that actually curate a good inventory. That’s why the little places go under and the big places survive. Then, when the big places are the only ones left, they can sell or not sell whatever they want. I get that. I took economics. But still: FUCK MATH.
Oh hell, never mind. I AM going to get all You’ve Got Mail about it. In Nashville, where I don’t live but maybe should, there’s a glorious little bookshop called Parnassus Books. It’s co-owned by the novelist Ann Patchett. (Perhaps you’ve read about it.) It’s fantastic – a glorious selection of books, not to mention a delightful shopping experience. The well-read staff love what they do and can help you find what you want. I enjoyed it so much the first time I visited that now I call and order books from there sometimes, just because — even though I like Amazon and dig how I can have any book in the world on my doorstep the next day — I like to support a bookstore that puts some thought into what it sells. Maybe I pay a buck or two more, but you know what? FUCK MATH.
* * *
Fuck Math: Exhibit B
Recently, I went down to my favorite getaway spot – a little island off the Carolina coast where I’ve been spending summers and random weekends for 25 years. It’s home to me. Over the past dozen years or so, I’ve increasingly had to put my hands up like blinders as I crossed the bridge to the island, because where once there were unobstructed views of the water, there are now a CVS, a Chili’s, and a Bed, Bath & BeFuckingYond. Where once there was a sandy playground, there’s now a parking deck and a conference center. What once was a small, quirky, friendly community is now a “resort destination.” I understand that the economy is rough these days and that a place has to do what it has to do to keep cash rolling in. Money is important. But also: FUCK MATH.
One of my favorite things to do upon arrival on the island is to stop in at the Red & White, the only grocery store on the island itself. Sure, I could drive back over the bridge to a major chain store, but shopping at the tiny, bizarrely stocked, locally staffed Red & White is an experience. I have known my way around that store since I was a kid, and I could maneuver its aisles blindfolded, starting with the bin of colorfully worded drink can koozies.
So when I was out there this month, I headed straight over to the Red & White to get a magazine and a jug of wine (oh, I said jug, yes, I did) and maybe a box of waffles. But oh-sweet-humanity-save-my-soul, the place was closed. FOREVER.
I tried to explain my horror to someone else, and they said, “Well, yeah. That place had moldy produce and sticky floors and magazines that cost $7. There’s no way they could have stayed open in this economy.” So you know what I said, of course: FUCK MATH.
* * *
Anyway. I know I’m a big dummy to get all sad and enraged over things like this. The world turns on math, when it comes right down to it. And math is just doing what it does. It’s about numbers. (Except when it’s about letters.)
Some things cannot be quantified. Not properly anyway. So FUCK MATH.
* * *
PS: I’ve decided to add Fuck Math onto other catchphrases, thereby forming new, compound catchphrases which put forth helpful messages while also relaying a disdain for math-based living. Like so:
Save The Whales. Fuck Math.
Rock The Vote. Fuck Math.
It Takes a Village. Fuck Math.
Live and Let Live. Fuck Math.
Don’t Eat Yellow Snow. Fuck Math.
Give Blood. Fuck Math.
You get the idea.
* * *
PPS: The lovely folks over at YeahWrite invited me to share this post over there this week. (Thank you, YeahWrite.) They’re doing neat things. If you haven’t yet, you should check out YeahWrite, for several reasons:
1. If you like reading good blogs, you’ll enjoy clicking through their great weekly collection of posts. Good stuff.
2. If you’re a blogging writer, you might like sharing your own post there with their readers.
3. Just for fun, you can also vote on your favorite post of the week (voting is open on Thursday and Friday), and the bloggers there (that would include me, this week) can win prizes. I didn’t totally read through the contest details, but I’m pretty sure it’s like a pot of gold and a live unicorn and maybe the winner also gets to make out with one of the editors there? Something like that. So I’m in.
August 9, 2012 § 10 Comments
Fellow writers will understand what I’m talking about when I say the compulsion to edit is something that starts early and never goes away.
Did you sit at the breakfast table as a child, shoveling Cheerios into your face while staring at the cereal box and rewording that blurb about whole grain goodness to fix a split infinitive? Did you watch My Little Pony commercials and rewrite them in your head to convey more compellingly the true awesomeness of My Little Ponies? Then you know: you can’t help it. It happens all the time, anytime you look at something with words on it.
It even happens on vacation.
March 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Announcement: I am going to jail.
I realized late yesterday that I had failed to show up for jury duty. This is where my dislike of numbers becomes less of a joke and more of a life problem. Dates are numbers; I can’t remember numbers; ergo I can’t remember dates; therefore I never know what day it is. Ever. Here’s how I figured out what happened:
Other mom at soccer practice: Whew, what a long day – I’ve been downtown since this morning for jury duty.
Me: Oh, I have jury duty coming up!
Other mom: When?
Me: March 27th.
Other mom: That’s today.
I am so disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I find jury duty just as agonizing as the next gal. But I’m a big rule follower, and it’s a rule that you go to jury duty when you are called; so I think people should show up and not invent a bunch of wily reasons to get out of it. It’s part of the duty of being an American citizen. I mean, geez – there are Americans out in the world being shot at just to provide folks like me the freedom to say fuck on the internet*, and I can’t even remember to hold up the rules back home.
(* I totally realize that the freedom to say fuck on the internet isn’t really the main thing anyone’s fighting for. But I do appreciate that freedom, so I just want to say thanks.)
Anyway. Speaking of freedom, mine’s probably over.
I like to be prepared, but I don’t know much about prison other than what I gather from TV and movies, which leaves a few holes in my comprehensive understanding of incarcerated life. Feel free to chime in if you know the answer to any of these questions:
- BACON: Do they serve it in prison? If so, is it loaded with additives? My farmer’s market has fabulous bacon. Do you think they’d let me have it sent in weekly? I’m completely willing to throw some kind of fundraiser to stir up the cash to pay for enough bacon for all my fellow prisoners, too. Like, “Dancing With the Stars… of Prison.”
- TATTOOS: I don’t have any yet. I want to fit in. Can you get tattoos in prison? And if so, is that sanitary? Is the tattoo artist any good? (Again, I’d be happy to make arrangements to bring in a good artist not only for myself, but for others.) If they don’t offer this service in prison, will I be allowed adequate time to get tatted up before I get put away? I’m picturing a pastoral scene across my bosom, and I think it’s one of those things that has to be done in installments.
- POSTERS: I know I have to have a poster for my wall to cover the hole I’ll be chipping away at with my oatmeal spoon. The only poster I currently have is from an Avett Brothers concert. Is the alt-folk-quasi-country-rock scene cool in prison? Or am I just going to have to keep explaining it again and again? And will we have access to an iPod or CD player? Because you can’t really appreciate it until you hear it.
- SOCIAL GROUPS: How do you make friends in prison? Are there clubs for various interests? How can you tell who’s popular? I need to find that mid-level crowd. It’s no fun to be at the bottom of the food chain; but then again, top of the pyramid doesn’t seem like a good idea either. If I’m the homecoming queen of prison, everyone will want to hang out with me every day in the yard, which means that when I escape (and I will escape, because you know when I stop following the rules? when I’m in prison), my absence will be noticed.
So that’s the news. If I don’t post here again for the next 10-15 years, you’ll know why. I’ll just be doing pushups on the concrete floor and writing blues songs about my life in the slammer. And playing the harmonica if they let me have one. Which they probably won’t. Because it’s fucking* prison.
(* Thank you, America!)
March 19, 2012 § 3 Comments
So… just discovered a little stat-tracking tool that’s showing the number of blog visitors from other countries. Wow. Europeans are totally on board with this suspicion-of-hotel-robes thing. Especially the Irish, it seems. Apparently, we’re also being joined by visitors from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada. (Bobby, is that you?) I have no idea how you people got here, but please — pull up a chair and unroll a pack of Mentos.
I don’t know a soul in Ireland, despite having lived there for a short time a few years ago. Just goes to show, if you’re committed enough to your antisocial ways, you can live in a place for months and never make a new friend; but dip a toe into the internet, and bam. Irish buddies!
Irish people, I need to tell you: Your country is beautiful. I had a great time there. But I also learned some important lessons about traveling with small children.
For starters: Parents, when you are dropped off at your new front door by the airport cab with all your luggage at your feet and your two little children clinging to your jacket and wailing, in the blinding sideways rain, with blood pouring down your chin because your 1-year-old just head-butted you and split your lip open, and the cab drives off — you should already know where the nearest grocery store, restaurant, pub, or food establishment of any kind is and how the shit you’re going to get there without a car. If you are a woman, do not assume that your husband who has been working in this country for a year knows this kind of stuff. He does not.
Two small children who haven’t eaten anything since they boarded a plane the day before are likely to try to gnaw each other’s limbs off. And when that doesn’t work, they will come after you. When you realize that you have nothing but half a baggie of cheerios left over from the trip and you’re so exhausted you
could cry are crying, it might not occur to you that you’ve got tears and snot and rain all over your face and your lame attempt at a neighborly smile reveals a freaky-ass mouthful of bloody teeth. You can’t just knock on someone’s door and ask where the Harris Teeter is. Because they won’t know who Harris Teeter is. So they will assume he must be the dastardly villain who did this to you, and then they might call the police.
Do your research in advance.
Oh, also: Be aware that in some countries, what looks like the fridge is actually a freezer, and vice versa. It’s one thing to successfully set out on foot to find food, bring it back and put it away, then settle in for a 10-hour nap. It’s quite another to awaken to find your frozen goods all melted and your refrigerated ones all frozen. But if it does happen, be creative. “YAY, kids! Eggsicles!”
(These days, none of this would be a problem, because you could just pick up your iPhone and ask Siri to drop a steak dinner out of the sky. Still, take note. You never know when you might be out of range and need to be resourceful like in ye olden times.)
Other than all that, the next most interesting thing I learned is that blondes in Ireland are apparently as rare as true redheads are here. Either that, or maybe there’s a thing in Ireland where blondes are considered magical? I’m not sure. All I know is: (a) At least once a day, I got asked for directions to The Netherlands embassy, and (b) If I paused long enough with my baby in her stroller, old ladies would hobble over to touch her hair and call her an angel. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have given out a few blessings and promised to grant a few wishes if you were in my shoes.
So, just to recap: Still don’t really know what the hell I’m doing with the blog; you have no excuse for being as stupid as me when you travel now; and Ireland is lovely. Carry on.
March 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
Until I figure out what the hell I’m doing with this blog, allow me to share with you some images from my spring break on a farm.
First, what I did within five seconds of getting into my room at the QUIETEST farmhouse ever in the history of time: I spazzed out. Specifically, I went to close the door with my hip, unknowingly catching my belt loop on the door-lock, thereby yanking myself backward just when I thought I was going forward and flipping myself over, flinging my purse all over the floor, and somehow catching myself on my hands just *outside* the doorway, where the luggage guy was still standing.
Then it was time to Lysol the remote, phone, and faucets, as is my custom.
I also did what I always do when in the presence of a new bed:
Then I checked out the selection of toiletries. I was delighted to find this:
I thought about changing into the robe in the closet. It looked fluffy and white and full of promise for an afternoon lounging on a chaise or at a spa or by a pool or with Alec Baldwin and a magnum of champagne at noon on a Wednesday. And *probably* it was well laundered in boiling hot water with hotel bleach. But unfortunately, the imagination train had already left the station, so I couldn’t think of anything but this: What if the person in this room before me tried the robe on? Naked? And wore it just long enough to change bandaids on that pesky weeping sore; administer to himself/herself a Sally Hansen bikini wax; give a quick hug to the child laid out on the loveseat with a trashcan because the vomiting just won’t stop; and ultimately decide that it would really be better to go ahead and get dressed. AND THEN they took it off and hung it right back in the closet, nice and neat… so that when housekeeping came, they’d see that the robe appeared unworn and just leave it there. So I didn’t put it on. But I glanced at it with mixed feelings many times during my stay.
Here are some of the animals I hung out with:
This is the movie scene I re-enacted with extra dramatic flair when my husband got back from his day fly-fishing:
But I also mixed in scenes from other Brad Pitt movies, including when he gets killed by a bear at the end of Legends of the Fall and the first time he tastes peanut butter on a spoon in Meet Joe Black — just to keep things fresh and unexpected, but still kind of cohesive, what with the 1990s Brad Pitt references. A mash-up of sorts, if you will. I didn’t include “WHAT’S IN THE BOX?” from the end of Se7en, because I didn’t want to go that dark.
Anyway. That’s what we did.