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You are NOT a plant killer!

I’m going to give you all a pep talk about houseplants!

First of all, nobody is born a “plant killer” or has a “black thumb.” Like children, plants have different needs from each other and each one’s needs need to be taken into consideration. However, unlike children, plants rarely need extensive and costly psychotherapy to survive into adulthood.

1. When you see a plant in a store, it has been born and raised in a greenhouse under optimum conditions. The plant grower’s main goal is to make the plant look pretty on the store shelves so that you will buy it. The grower’s responsibility stops the second the plant is sold to a store, so what happens to the plant beyond that is not his concern. This is why many plants you find for sale are not meant to grow in a regular house without extra grow lights and constant misting etc. (I’m looking at you primroses that the Star Market has every spring!). If you see a pretty flower in the grocery store, there is a 97% chance it will die in your house.

2. When you bring a plant home, it will most likely be in some sort of state of shock. It has just gone from a greenhouse where it got the exact amount of light, heat, and humidity it needs to your house (with probably a short stint in a store where it was in shock already), which most likely doesn’t have the same conditions. ALSO, there’s a good chance that the pot it has been living in is too small (I know some plant freaks who immediately re-pot all plants when they bring them home). This already has your plant at a disadvantage.

3. Remember that plants need 4 things: light, water, soil, humidity/non humidity. The plant should have some kind of tag saying what its light/water requirements are, but a lot of times there is no such thing, so you may have to look up its needs online or in a book. If the plant doesn’t even come with an identifying marker, there are lots of apps, books, and websites out there that can help you identify plants.

3a. LIGHT: High-light plants (i.e., cacti) like a south facing window. It is important to know which direction your windows face. Are there trees or overhangs outside the window that block the light? Do you close curtains during the day, blocking light? If so, then high-light plants are probably not for you. Remember, the farther you get from a window, the weaker the sun is, so even 2 feet back from a window will change the light coming in from “full sun” to “medium/partial sun”

3b. WATER: most plants do not need a lot of water. Overwatering is a more common plant killer than underwatering. A good rule of thumb for plants is to water them once a week, but depending on a plant’s needs, and how much sun it gets, it may need more or less. Most plants are happier in a pot with holes in the bottom to provide drainage. If water is left to collect in the bottom of a pot, it may get root rot, and all plants hate that.

3c. SOIL: congratulations, most plants come with this already! However, soil needs can vary with the the water needs of a plant. Cacti. and plants that don’t like a lot of water prefer a sandy soil that drains well. African violets are prissy and like their own special soil. Most plants will do just fine in basic potting soil you can find in the store, but double check to make sure you don’t have one that likes drier/moister soil.

3d. HUMIDITY: Some plants like high humidity. If this is the case, they will want to be misted, or live in a pebble tray (fill a tray or dish with pebbles, put water in it, put the pot on top of the tray–the evaporating water will provide extra humidity). Some plants (e.g., cacti) hate humidity, and an environment that is too humid will make then turn mushy. Bathrooms are also good places for plants that like high humidity, but make sure they are getting enough light.

4. Other things that can kill plants are bugs (there are numerous bugs that love to feast on plants, and chances are they came home from the greenhouse with them already). Getting rid of bugs is a whole other chapter, and there is a ton of information out there about it. You don’t need chemicals or other harmful things to get rid of bugs in most cases–don’t let this deter you. Another thing that can hurt plants is people/pets smacking into them. Try not to put plants in high-traffic areas where they are likely to get bumped into.

5. If this sounds scary, don’t worry– there are tons of houseplants out there that don’t require special anything. You too can be a plant person, you just need the right plants!

December 6, 2019 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Publishing drafts

I have a huge backlog of drafts that are mostly finished. I decided that, since I haven’t written anything on here in 2018, I’m going to try to finish up all the random drafts and publish them. Here’s #1…

There’s something I need to get off my chest. It’s… a BRA! (har har har)

No, seriously. Bras are stupid. Now, before I go any farther, I know you already throwing up your hands saying “BUT I HAVE BIG BOOBS AND I NEED TO CORRAL THEM” ok. I’m not talking about YOU. I’m talking about ME, and my bust is of minimal size, and does not need holstering. No, I’m not body shaming.

Whenever you talk about bras, it becomes this conversation fraught with opinions and accusations. Some women *like* bras. I understand that. I, on the other hand, do not. I find them uncomfortable and annoying “THAT’S BECAUSE YOU ARE WEARING THE WRONG KIND!” you say.

Listen, I don’t care how comfortable a bra is. It’s still dumb. I have to wear an extra article of clothing (which is not cheap, mind you) in order for my body parts to meet some vague notion of decency. In the summer, it’s hot under there! It gets sweaty and the straps chafe. When it’s hot, you want to wear sleeveless shirts, or other items of clothing that are cooler. However, if you do that, god forbid your bra straps show. One is obligated to wear one of these things, but you’re not supposed to let anyone see it.

What happens if you don’t wear a bra? Well, then people can see the outline of your nipples. They may poke out and make extra little bumps in your shirt, and we can’t have that. People stare. Random creepy guys on the subway take this as a sign you are on the prowl (because why else wouldn’t a female wear a bra?) and hit on you at twice the rate. I speak from experience.

Do you know what nobody cares about? Male nipples. Guys can go shirtless pretty much whenever they want. If they are not shirtless, they can wear shirts that reveal the outlines of their nipples all they want. They can wear white dress shirts that are see-through to the point where you can make out some male areola (I know, there’s a dude at my work who wears these with no problems). If anyone so much suggested that a female areola might be seen, there would be pandemonium!

I realize that literally the only reason I wear a bra is because you’re “supposed to.” Maybe I should just stop wearing them and deal with the inevitable stares and creepers.

November 20, 2018 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

You Can’t Say That On the Radio

I have a bone to pick with radio censorship… so usually they bleep out words that are swears, and also words referring to things that are illegal (drugs, guns in some cases). They bleep out “ass” but not “butt” or “booty,” makes sense– “ass” is a “bad” word. They replace “ho” with “trick” which is puzzling, but sort of makes sense because however weird it is, it’s illegal to be a ho, but not a trick. They replace “bitch” with “trick” which is kind of annoying, but I suppose it makes the cadence and rhyme scheme remain pretty much the same, I guess. HOWEVER, in the song “U and Dat,” they censor out the word “monkey” which refers to female nether regions. WTF? Monkey itself is not a swear word. Are we to believe that ladyparts are illegal or bad? The last time I checked, “anaconda” was OK to say on the radio in reference to dude parts. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MONKEY!?!?

November 20, 2018 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

Save the women and children!

Dear People Who Are Convinced that Men Are About To Rape Your Daughters In Public Bathrooms,
Lately you have been all in a tizzy about transgender people being allowed to use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable in. You have come up with a number of reasons for this that just don’t make sense. There are a few points I’d like to make.


If child predators are focused on attacking children in public toilets, do you really think they are so law-abiding that a gendered sign on a door is going to stop them? Are they really thinking,”OOH THAT KID LOOKS LIKE A GOOD TARGET! Oh phooey, she’s going into the girls’ bathroom. I’m not allowed in there. I’d better go fly a kite or something instead.” This seems unlikely. Also, most rapes and assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Strangers attacking people is a lot rarer than the nightly news would have you believe.

It seems that it is not necessarily transgender people you are worried about, as studies have shown that the number of transgender people attacking unsuspecting citizens in a public restroom is zero. It is cis-men dressing up like women in order to gain access to bathrooms to prey upon unsuspecting females that you’re so concerned about. So… why are we punishing transgender people for this? Shouldn’t we be concentrating on punishing the offenders, rather than barring an entire group from pooping in peace because a small number of a different group are jerks?  It’s kind of like saying “well, we should get rid of disabled parking spaces, because half the time they are just taken up by able-bodied people who borrowed their grandmother’s handicapped placard in order to get a better space.” Why punish handicapped people just because some non-handicapped people are jerks? Wouldn’t it be better to go after the offenders than to mess up things for the innocent parties involved?
2. All you guys saying “I would totally have dressed up like a girl in order to check out some titties when I was _ (in high school, at the gym, whatever)” in order to justify these laws– you do realize that’s totally creepy, right? you are basically saying I AM A CREEP, AND THEREFORE ALL GUYS ARE CREEPS. Not all guys are creeps. Don’t do this. You are just reinforcing the stereotype that men are inherently all rapists and given any opportunity they would act on their primal instincts, which is to rape and molest every helpless female they see. Look around you, you probably see people of all genders harmoniously walking down the street, working together, and other activities where they are intensely not-raping each other. In making the whole “well *I* would totally do that to view some ladysnatch,” you are basically saying that half the human adult population only keeps his pants on and doesn’t ogle strange women/girls because of a little sign on a bathroom door. Really? I don’t think so. Give yourselves some credit!
This is actually just a continuation of point #1, but it’s the one we keep hearing.

Assaulting people in restrooms is illegal, no matter what the perpretator’s gender. Assaulting people is illegal in general, whether in a bathroom or not. These laws do not provide carte blanche for sexual assault. Maybe we should concentrate on getting actual rapists off the streets, rather than crying about people who *might possibly* get raped. Most rapes go unreported for a variety of reasons, mostly from a stigma attached to the victim, and a doubt that authorities will take the matter seriously. If a woman wants to report a rape, sometimes she will have to pay for her own rape kit.  Yet suddenly when a group you don’t understand might not be discriminated against, rape becomes something you care about.


November 20, 2018 at 6:54 pm Leave a comment

Things I start writing in Internet forums but never finish/publish

If women got pregnant from washing dishes, and not from having sex (ooh, horrors!), abortion wouldn’t even be a debate. Once you bring sex into the equation, all rational thoughts are off the table because Oooh slutty women are stupid! We have to tell them how to behave! Honestly, abortion/birth control/abstinence/whatever is a personal decision and none of my business. If these hypothetical women who get 100 abortions a month stopped having sex altogether, they’d be frigid bitches in the eyes of society, and therefore less than human. The way to be an “acceptable” woman in this society is such a narrow path, I try to refrain from making judgments. Women spending all the taxpayers’ money on abortions! Oooh how terrible! Women spending all their own money on abortions! Oooh how terrible! Women spending their own money on going to NASCAR rallies and buying Twinkies! Oooh how terrible! Poor women keep having babies they can’t afford! Ooh how terrible! The government spent my hard earned tax dollars on subsidies for billion dollar corporations, yet we get all worked up about the hypothetical pennies spent on women. Oh no! We’re gonna have to pay for bitches’ birth control thanks to the ACA! Thanks, Obama! I don’t want my hard earned money to be set on fire so chix can be sluts! But wait, what’s the best preventative measure of abortion? That would be birth control. (for the record, you can’t use federal money for abortions in most states, though insurance covers Viagra, and nobody seems to have a problem with that.) Also, why should I have to pay for some stupid guy’s testicular cancer treatment? I will never have testicular cancer. Why should my hard earned tax dollars go to some dumb dick’s ‘nads?

In short:
1. how many abortions one gets
2. how “necessary” it is [i.e., was the embryo conceived happily in wedlock, but is medically defective for some reason? Is the woman’s life in danger? Is the prospect of motherhood just inconvenient for whatever reason?]
3. how one pays for said abortion
4. The circumstances of the conception [was the embryo created after a night of drunken debauchery in a barn? Was the woman raped by a stranger in an alley?]


Abortion is legal in the USA, and none of the above gives anyone more or less right to one.

Theft is illegal in the USA, yet nobody cares about circumstances of theft.
1. how many other people has the thief robbed?
2. is the thief just robbing to feed his or her starving children, or because he or she just likes that Rolex the victim was wearing?
3. what precautions did the victim take to ensure she was not robbed of her watch?

All irrelevant. Theft is still illegal.

On another note: why is there no male birth control widely available except condoms (which guys say they hate)?

Further note: I have proverbially “kept my knees together” (i.e., never been pregnant, never been a drain on taxpayers’ money to feed out of wedlock children) yet I am a selfish evil bitch because I don’t want to ever reproduce. Go figure. You can’t win. Stop judging.

September 15, 2016 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Gettin’ my nails done

I was a life long nail biter. My grandmother tried to bribe, shame, incentivize, enact consequences, and every other way coerce me to stop. I tried. I would stop for small periods of time, enough to collect the reward (or be disqualified from the vague punishment), but then I would relapse. It was a tough habit to break!

However, on February 2001, I decided to stop for good. I had the willpower. I was going to do it. I did! It took several years before I learned how to properly use nail clippers, scissors, and nail files and stuff (I still bit the nails when they got too long, what I considered “for maintenance” and not out of habit), but now I can say I have the knack!

Every year on my anti-nail biting anniversary, I make a tentative plan to get a manicure, but never do. I have always been fascinated by the concept of getting one’s nails done– it seemed to be something all women did, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, regional inhabitation etc. When I worked at Cornell, every woman, from the lowliest trailer dweller to the fanciest professor went to regular nail appointments. I was curious to see what a manicure was like, as manicures seemed to be the Great Social Equalizer. In a small city such as Ithaca, rich and poor alike went to the same nail salons, as there weren’t that many.

This year, I was determined to actually follow through on my manicure plan. I got my friend Athena to come with me, and I found a place not far from home to go. I was a little apprehensive because I had read this article, and didn’t want to support what is essentially slavery in the industry, but the place I picked seemed legit.

The place I went was in a building that used to be a real estate office where I had been contracted to take care of the plants when I was a plant care person years ago, so that was a little odd. It looked totally different now, though–the inside was well-lit and cheery, instead of the dark paneled “professional” look, staffed by disgruntled but immaculately dressed women who clearly hated their jobs of yore.

I sat down at the fingernail painting place, and the friendly Chinese women looked at my hands and said “oh, you have kids?”
“no,” I replied
“You don’t? No kids?” she seemed confused.
“No really. No kids.” Then I looked at my hands and discovered that they were covered in pink and green marker because I had been experimenting with coloring Barbie hair. This is business as usual for me, but I guess in the real world this is a sure sign of reproduction!
“Why no kids?” she asked.
“Too expensive.” I said. She laughed. Then asked
“You have boyfriend?”
“No,” I said, and she laughed again and patted my arm.
“Oh, but you so beautiful!” she said, and then, sadly “no boyfriend.”

Later, she kept saying “Next time you get red!” and held up a bottle of red nail polish and motioned to my fingernails.
“OK.” I said. “Maybe next time.” She laughed.
She brought up the red nail polish a few more times.
“Red is lucky. It’s a good color…” I said.
She laughed and said “Yes! Very lucky!” then she grabbed my shoulder and whispered in my ear “maybe you will be lucky and get boyfriend!” and then laughed.

Uh… I think it will take a little more than red fingernails for me to get lucky!
But hey, you never know. I never paint my nails red; I always paint them blue or green or purple or something. Maybe if I painted my nails red I would have to use those hands to fight off all the men who will be throwing themselves at me! Somehow I doubt it.

Anyway, my first nail experience was an interesting anthropological experiment. I’m not sure I will ever do it again, as it seems kind of a lot of money for what amounts to having your nails painted. I’m not sure I see the appeal. The people I used to work with would go to get their nails done on a regular basis! How often are you “supposed” to do this? I still have no clue. Maybe I should go and get long fake bejeweled fingernails with, like, sunsets airbrushed on them or something. Maybe then I will understand the allure.

2016-02-23 20.11.46

Athena (left) and I with our shiny new colorful finger and toenails!

February 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

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October 2, 2014 at 12:49 am Enter your password to view comments.

I am woman, smell me roar

Years and years ago I dated this Russian guy; we’ll call him Boris. He wondered why I never wore perfume. I didn’t really have an answer. He said that women were supposed to wear perfume, so that when a dude smelled it on something somewhere, it would make him think of her. I thought that was sweet, but kind of pooh-poohed the idea for myself because perfume made me think of old ladies and how it kind of annoyed me if I was in the grocery store or at a movie or something and had to constantly smell them.

I had a string of jobs where my supervisors were way into smelly candles and aromatherapy and things of that nature. I remember one job where the denizen of office to the left of me liked “energizing lemon” and the office on the right of me’s occupant constantly had a “calming lavender” thing going. I joked that my left half was wide awake while my right half was falling asleep. Altogether I felt like my personal airspace was being violated by other peoples’ scents. The scent I enjoyed most was nothing. I didn’t think it was fair that someone else’s particles of smelly shit should be able to attack my nostrils without my consent. It was like olfactory rape. Why couldn’t they make air fresheners that destroyed all smells and made the air smell completely blank? That’s what *I* wanted.

However, I kept the idea of the perfume in the back of my head. I experimented with essential oils, because I liked the smell of flowers. Not the flowery perfumey scents; the smell of actual flowers, and essential oils were the closest thing I could find. I liked jasmine a lot, but got accused of smelling like a hippie, so I switched to roses. That, of course, prompted people to think I smelled like their grandmother’s bathroom soap, so I eventually gave it up altogether.

Enter Klaus, my current beau. He is very scent-oriented, he says. While he doesn’t burn aromatherapy candles, thank goodness, he does like a good perfume. In fact, it was at his suggestion (bordering on insistence) that we go to The Mall and check out a department store perfume counter. The last time I had gone to a department store perfume counter, I was probably about 7 and was with my grandmother, who instructed the counter lady to spray me with something (probably “Charlie,” she always wore perfume called Charlie). I remember smelling like perfume all day and being slightly annoyed, but it also sort of made me feel vaguely like a grown-up.

Anyway, it must have been quite the sight at Macy’s in the Burlington Mall yesterday– Klaus was the one taking the lead on the perfume. Since this was Klaus’s project (and he was paying), I was totally fine with it all. He kept describing what he was smelling to the old ladies, who eventually drifted away to help other customers. “I smell grass… with some musk.” It turns out he likes super duper flowery things that are a little too sickeningly sweet for me. I like citrusy things, which make him think of being in the produce aisle. He doesn’t want “food smells,” as he put it. At one point the old lady who was showing us the perfumes said, somewhat sarcastically, “is SHE gonna be wearing this, or YOU?”

If, at age 22 when I was way into being an independent non-girly woman, you had told me that in nearly 20 years I would be at a Macy’s perfume counter with a dude who was going to buy expensive perfume for me, I would have scoffed. Why should I let some dude dictate what I smell like? Yet, here I was. After huffing like 20 different kinds of perfume, we finally settled on Chanel No. 5. Yes, we sniffed all these different things, only to come back to a perfume that has been around 95 years; that generations of women have worn. I smell like legions of dead flappers and grannies… and I kinda like it!

I am wearing it now, and it’s really weird– it doesn’t smell like me. I keep thinking there’s someone behind me that I’m smelling. I like how it smells a lot, but since I have spent a lot of my life thinking that the best smells are the absence of perfumes, I gotta get used to it!

August 4, 2014 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

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June 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm Enter your password to view comments.

Car Repairman Issues

My first car was a 1968 VW Beetle, which I bought in 1993. It had been sitting in someone’s barn for many years and only had 40k miles on it, which is unheard of. Anyway, I loved that car, but it broke down 3 times on the 4-hour drive home from college. This set the tone for the rest of the year I owned it– it needed some sort of repairs at least every month. Needless to say, I knew all the towtruck drivers by name in town. This was not my first shitty, car; I have never owned a new car, so I have had lots of experience with numerous car repairmen in two states in the past 20-odd years of car ownership. It is almost never good. 

Being female, I have gotten all manner of condescending, patronizing, and downright mean behavior from repairmen. I remember once I had a car with some kind of weird congenital brake problem that nobody could figure out. The brake pads would wear out faster on the inside than on the outside. Nobody knew why. However, when I described this issue to repairmen, they would roll their eyes and sometimes tell me to my face that I was crazy; that was impossible and that my brake pads were fine. Then, 3 weeks later the inside pads would wear out, the calipers would freeze up and I’d have to pull over and take my car to the nearest repair place only to get a lecture along the lines of “honey, didn’t your daddy tell you have to get your brake pads replaced when they wear out? Sweetie, you should have your boyfriend drive your car sometime. He’d know what to do.” This scenario happened at least 3 times. 

Because of my lifelong bad experiences with car repairmen, I have developed this crazy condition, where anything revolving around auto mechanics makes me really agitated and anxious. I tried to learn about cars, so I would sound knowledgeable, but obviously I would never know as much as a repairman, so if I tried to demonstrate my knowledge, the repairman would engage in a one-upping war until he won (which wasn’t hard, truthfully. I know about brakes, but that’s about it). So, even thinking about dealing with car mechanics is one of the few things that fills me with a special cocktail of anxiety, fear, apprehension and rage all bundled up into one little ball of me not wanting to deal. Thus I avoid car repairs if possible.

Wednesday, after waiting a year and a half, I finally got the windshield replaced on my car, because it needed it to pass inspection. I had taken it to shady places before that passed it with the crack (I had bought the car with the crack in the windshield), but the last place gave me the big red R rejection sticker. I had been driving around with a big red R for about a year and a half, yet only managed to get 2 tickets. When I took my car into the inspection place, I learned that In the time it took to save up the money to get the windshield repaired, more things broke that would render the car uninspectable (not surprising, since, made in 1999, my car is almost old enough to drive itself). So, I forked over a zillion dollars and had them fix all the things. Upon driving home I noticed that the car smelled like weird exhaust, and rattled and vibrated really loudly.

Here’s where my brain started freaking out. First of all, I was filled with rage for having been screwed over again. Then I searched for ways I could live with it so I wouldn’t have to talk to the repair people again. Then I thought “maybe it’s nothing. Maybe I am crazy and I’m just hearing things.” I agonized about this whole thing for far too long. 

In the end, I took the car back, explained it to the people, and they fixed it for free (something needed tightening), rendering all that angst pointless. The place where I take my car is actually really cool, and that’s why I’ve been going there for years. Why all the angst? I don’t know. I need a support group or something. Geez. Now I am beating myself up for being such a wimp about the whole thing. This may be a sign I should just get rid of the car!

April 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

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