The Rationale and Musings of a Paranoid


I am not sure I qualify anymore as having a true paranoia of arachnids – as I have been forced to encounter them for over 50 years now and believe desensitization has chipped away at it.  However I can say, without pause, a healthy aversion remains.  Take last night.

I was walking to the kitchen to refill my drinking glass when I spied a rather large spider preparing for attack near the refrigerator.  Its location upon discovery put me well within jumping distance for said arachnid.  Now, the younger me would have gone toes up with a little squeak.  The Desensitized me gave it a wide berth and watched in horror as it skittled on those spindly legs to turn itself so it was always facing me.  I think I passed a bit of gas in fear – so, still squeaking after all.

Now, my sons are grown and out of the house.  My husband was asleep.  (Oh, I thought about waking him up to kill the spider.  I thought about it HARD).  But love conquers all, so I fell back on Plan B.  I tossed a dishtowel on it and then jumped on the dishtowel and did the Watusi.  Then I left the dishtowel on the floor because that is my modus operandi.

When called upon to dispatch of the vermin myself, I normally drop large, heavy books (phone books were great!) on them and then walk away.  I have depended on room mates, husbands, sons, best friends, etc. to pick up after me.   When I was single and without a room mate, I simply let it lie for about a week.  My husband once asked my why I did not pick up after myself once the deed was done.  I explained, “Because, hopefully it’s dead.  But if it’s not, it’s going to be REALLY pissed”.

This morning, I was the first one up.  Again, considered waking my protector.  There lay the dishtowel in the disheveled condition I had left it in.  Was it dead?  Dare I?  I bent to pick it up with every hair follicle on my body standing at attention.  I balled the dishtowel up HARD and quickly, into the size of about a plum. I tossed it into the dirty linens basket on top of the washer.  Then, exhaled.

When Fred gets up, I’m going to have him move the dirty linens into the washer.  I am also going to place large books in every room of the house and stock up on brandy.


The Fine Print


Raising animals is fun….in large print.  You see signs like “KITTENS!”, “PUPPIES!”, “PIGLETS!”, “BABY CHICKS!” and some maternal gong goes off in your head and you think, “I MUST see it”.  You fool yourself and possibly others by saying, “I just want to look”.  And then you look at these helpless mewling, yipping, snorting, peeping things and the desire to protect blooms in your heart like a rose.  Ah, but roses come with thorns.  Do they not?

Here’s the fine print:

  1. All living things must eat and have fresh water daily.
  2. Most of the animals listed above require food that must be bought often and for the life of the animal.
  3. Exception to rule #2 is pigs – they will eat ANYTHING.
  4. Addendum to rule #3 – you cannot keep up with the appetite of a pig.  Supplemental feed is required.
  5. Supplemental feed must be bought often and for the life of the animal.
  6. What goes into an animal is going to come out of the other end.
  7. Animals do not clean up after themselves – that’s your job until they die.
  8. Some can be trained to perform #6 in a specific area (dogs/cats) BUT see # 9 and # 10.
  9. If they live with you, they cannot excuse themselves like we do – you must take them to the designated spot.
  10. If they have access to said designated spot in the house – you are required to move it out of the house.

What to see the whole document, fine print and all?  Spend the day with someone who has the animal you are pining for and see what is required of you in just one day of care.  Now multiply that by 4-18 years.  Yeah.


The idiot that did not read the fine print and now finds herself broke and up to her elbows in #6.



Described as “dark” by some readers.  If you are all about unicorns and rainbows, this very short story is not for you.

Mr. Right’s Wrong

She had been pushed into it, really. If she was not mistaken, coerced was the legal term she was looking for. Yes, that was it. She remembered a Law & Order episode where the savvy DA was able to prosecute based on coercion. She was pleased with herself for thinking of the word so quickly, given the circumstances. She was always looking for ways to increase her vocabulary. She had spent many hours reading and watching “informative” TV, as she liked to call it. Now, she had plenty of time on her hands; nothing but time.

Yes, that’s right, she told herself, not my fault at all.

She had been quite happy living her quiet, non-invasive life. Noninvasive, now that’s a nice word. Quite content had she been employed as a wordsmith or a writer of crossword puzzles. In reality, Romeo, her tuxedo long-haired cat, had been the only one to share in her accomplishments. Crossword puzzles, acrostics, and the daily jumble in the paper – she had devoured them all,  ever hungry for more knowledge.  How she wished she had a crossword puzzle now to occupy her time.

Oooooh, the New York Times Sunday puzzle! That would take her hours! She almost salivated at the thought of it.

But, in truth, she had succumbed (another nice word, rarely used today) to peer pressure. She would never find anyone sitting at home night after night, her working friend Nicole had scolded. Didn’t she want somebody to take her out once in a while?

Well, yes, that would be quite nice.

Didn’t she want somebody to send her flowers and buy her chocolates for Valentine’s Day?

Mmmmm, chocolate.

Wasn’t she just horny “as all get out”? She still blushed at the mere memory of that question.

“Damn girl! Even Cinderella had to get all dressed up, leave the house in a pimped out pumpkin, and crash a damn party to find her Mr. Right!” said wise and many-dated Nicole.

And she had to admit there was crude logic in what Nicole had to say. True, Cinderella was a fictional character, but still. If a fairy tale has someone leaving the house, then reality would dictate going over and beyond, wouldn’t it? Lately, she felt just like Cinderella, enslaved by fate to be at the mercy of a cruel benefactor. Before she could finish digesting this bit of wisdom, her neighbor, Mrs. Berringdon, said almost the same thing in a very colorful way.

“When my Henry was alive”, the old bag said, stopping briefly to cross herself, “he was quite the fisherman. He could catch anything he put a mind to. Salt water, fresh water, pier fishing, surf fishing, deep sea fishing….why there wasn’t a fish Henry couldn’t catch”.

At the time she wondered why she had to take this particular trip down memory lane with Mrs. Berringdon; other than the proximity of their two front stoops and poor timing. She had gone out to call in Romeo for the evening and seen Mrs. Berringdon smoking a cigarette on the stoop next door. She had cringed when she realized it was too late to duck back into the house as Mrs. Berringdon opened with her usual, “What? A Friday night and no date again?”

She couldn’t imagine what fishing had to do with someone whose only association to worms was to be called a bookworm as a child. She only hoped Mrs. Berringdon would get to her point soon because Jeopardy was coming on in ten minutes and she wanted to microwave some popcorn.  As Romeo, sauntered by her unshaven legs, Mrs. Berringdon continued, “He would be the first one to tell you that with all of his luck, not one time did a fish just jump onto his plate. No ma’am! He had to throw a little bait in the water, wait for one to bite and then slowly reel them in. A pretty thing like you needs to throw some bait in the water, honey. Mr. Right’s not gonna just jump in your lap!”

She had mumbled something like, “You’re probably right, Mrs. Berringdon. But, I need to feed Romeo, so if you’ll excuse me…” and quickly ducked back into the safety of her house. But Mrs. Berringdon’s weird analogy served to season the stew already cooking in her brain and she couldn’t concentrate on Jeopardy that night. In fact, she missed over ten questions! And wouldn’t you know, she pondered, I finally get a date and Mrs. Berringdon’s nowhere to be found. No smoking that night. No spying through her not-quite-sheer curtains to see who was calling. Figures! Now, she’ll never know that a handsome man, a prince out of a young girl’s storybook, came to call on me. How pretty I looked in my new sundress chosen just for him.

She had met him at the library – her favorite fishing hole. She smiled a little at her own wit. She should have been a writer. She always had a way with words – a real wordsmith they called her. Oh, how she wished she had some paper right now. She could start a journal! A journal someone would find one day, like Anne Frank’s, long after she was gone. She’d be famous! At least she could be doing something besides waiting on him to come back around.

He was everything she would have required in a man; had someone actually taken the time to ask. He was all- American good-looking; naturally and evidently unaware of it. He was intelligent and had kind eyes. His smile brightened his whole face, making his eyes crinkle as if blinded by his own shine. He was of average height and build, but had a great walk – easy and sure of himself and his path.  They had begun talking about a book they both happened to be looking for that day; which is why they found themselves in the same aisle. They talked about the author and his other works, authors in the same genre, authors who strayed from their genre and so on. Finally, after getting some very stern looks from a few of the more serious patrons, they moved their conversation outside.  It was a beautiful day (oh, how she missed the sun!).

As the light chased the shadows from dancing tree leaves across his face, she found herself thinking, Oh, please don’t stop talking to me. Don’t stop being interested in me. Stay with me. Let you be my forever man. Let you be Mr. Right for me.  How hungry for attention she must have seemed to him. How pathetic! How easy to seduce and trick! As she picked at a filthy fingernail, she had to admit to herself, once again, that perhaps she had brought this all upon herself. She had no one to blame after all. But she couldn’t dwell too long on that. Dwelling didn’t do here, she had found. It was best to move on and think of other things.

So eager to keep him, save him, savor him, (savior for her) she had thrown out all decorum and etiquette training and said yes to a date that very night! She had only a few hours to prepare. She had splurged on a sundress NOT ON SALE because she had believed he was worth every penny. She had gone on and on to the salesgirl about their chance encounter and how he must not be able to let her out of his sight demanding a date that very night. Sure, she had embellished a bit, she thought as she swatted at a cockroach skittering across her foot, but it felt good to brag for once. She wondered if the salesgirl would recall that conversation. It really wouldn’t matter now anyway.

That had been eight days ago….no nine….no, no…Eight days ago now. The dress was so dirty and torn in some places; it hardly seemed the same beautiful dress that she had worn that first night. The shoes were long gone. She thought she had probably lost the shoes while struggling with him on the basement stairs. She wished she had them now, though, because sometimes her feet became very, very cold.

She couldn’t remember now the last time she had seen him. It had been the last time he had brought her food. However, she was pretty sure a couple of days had passed. She was also sure that he was quite done with her. She was smart enough to realize that his long absence meant that he was putting off killing her, maybe hoping she would die of starvation. But she knew, after much reading and many a documentary that starvation could take over a month. Of course, she didn’t have any water left either, so that would speed things up.

But she would rather he return and kill her quickly. Yes, she quite thought so. If he came back….no, no when he came back, she would let him know that she realized that they were not well suited for each other and perhaps it would be better if they just ended things here.

Oh my glory! She almost laughed at the irony. How many times had she been on the receiving end of that speech? Well, she could thank him for that, she thought as she smoothed out the filthy wrinkles of her stained and stiff dress skirt. But she did wish he would hurry, because night must be falling. At night, the rats came scavenging and the cockroaches became braver. She could hear them closing in around her, whispering with their padded and exoskeleton feet. She hoped he came soon, while she remained sane enough to beg for death.



Then THIS happened


Picture it, if you will.  There my husband and I were standing, having one of those quiet and deep conversations that only two people who have lived together longer than they ever lived single can have.  We were standing out between the chicken coop and the fenced-in kennel, just talking about nothing and everything.

I was leaning against the fence of the kennel which is, at that point in the side yard, as high as I am and am backlit by an amazing sunset.  The sun is setting low in the trees across the pasture and the golden light amid the magenta sky must have made me look especially delicious.  The talk turned to soft compliments, secret smiles and twinkling eyes.  “Ah“, I thought, “It’s like we dating again….what a great feeling“.

Suddenly, he gets a serious look on his face and I think, “I know that look“.  He looks into my eyes, smiles that slow smile that got me all those years ago and says, “Come over here to me, baby”.   Who am I to deny a man that desires me so?  I stepped toward him to embrace him and look up….and then this happened –

He gently put me to his side and slightly behind him to step forward quickly and bring his boot down on a fairly large black snake, not two feet from where I was just standing.  BAM!  BAM!  Twisting grind….BAM!

Sometimes, he just gets me… know?



Better Late than Never


Those that know me will tell you that I am never late.  I will arrive an hour early, but not a minute late.  In fact, some of my travel buddies that live in the same city I do and therefore fly out of the same airport make fun of the fact that I am sitting at the gate as far ahead as an hour before a flight is scheduled to leave.  Hey! I like to be prepared.  Alright?

Then there are times like this that very few people know about, so consider yourself privileged.  Every once in awhile – boy! this is hard to admit – I let things slip.  They fall off my radar and well…there it is.

This tends to happen more when my cup runneth over – with responsibilities.  I am concentrating so much of finishing up this MSN and working ahead (aha!  she’s still doing it – in some places anyway) to keep from falling behind, everything else went on the back burner.

I still got the exercise in, I just did not take the time to expand on that topic.  I did it.  I hated it.  End of story.  I cannot wait until it gets warmer and I can walk/run outside and have some variety in my view.  This walk/running on a treadmill is about to drive me to drink with boredom.  Being out of town this week, I did not even get to reward myself with a little Zumba!

So there it is.  Better late than never, I guess.  Rewind this weekend and repeat next week — in Boston which is expecting temperatures in the teens.  Can you feel the excitement?


I am No Angel


Okay, so Friday came and went and I did not go to the gym.  I can hear the three of you gasp, but I am no angel.  I had every intention of going….wait!  I really mean that.  I was even trying to figure out how I could get by the 45 minute minimum on the treadmill gym rule ~ kinda sneaky like, when into my head popped “Kathy’s birthday was January 8th and guess who forgot?”  And my stomach dropped.

See, Kathy is my best friend.  We have been friends since we were 13 years old.  Never mind how long that’s been.  Suffice it to say, it’s been awhile.  But in berating myself for being such a poor excuse of a friend, I looked back to see what in the world happened.  It was the “Agony of Defeat” week and I was suffering from a moderate concussion.  Boy!  That sounds pretty good.  Yeah, lead with that.

But the truth of the matter is, I just plain forgot – for, like, a whole month!  Wow.  So, I touched base with her and humbly apologized and begged her forgiveness.  She just laughed it off, saying something like, “Oh, I knew you were busy with work and trying to finish school.  It’s okay”.  Well, after that response, who now felt lower than dirt ->this kid.

“Whatever you want”, I said, “We will do whatever you want to do; even if it’s wrong”.

She sent back, “Want to get together Friday night?”

And, I’m not even lying, part of me said, “Um….Friday?  But, I kind of got this thing going where I work out and…”.  On the inside.  On the outside, I said, “You bet!  What are we doing?”

So, I decided to straighten my halo and think about someone else for a change.  Guess what?  As is often the case, when you lay aside your petty worries and just bask in the glow of friendship and the love of others, things just look up.  We laughed until I had to blow my nose.  We had a 3 hour dinner just catching up with each other and remembering that it is the folks who know us best and STILL want to be seen with us that we have the BEST time with.

Beats walking on a treadmill with a stick!

P.S. Kathy laughed her butt off when I described the great “Agony of Defeat” incident and for the first time, I realized how very funny it actually was.  Thanks, girl!  🙂

I…am a Genius!


It’s true.  I don’t toot my own horn often, but when I do, I do it loud and proud.  Part of this new you thing that I began, with its many mishaps, was the grand adjustment to just about everything.  When they talk about turning over a new leaf, they tend to leave out the part about how in order to do that you have to flip the whole tree upside down.

So pleased with myself, am I, that I am having a celebratory drink in my own honor:  a Dang!  Whatever could cause such jubilee on my part?  Well, I will tell you.  I have figured out a way that I can go to the gym every night, six nights a week and still put dinner on the table before I go.  In fact, I will eat a small serving of said dinner before I go and I am home by now (for the close-by gym) or 7:45 if it is the other one.  And I work until 5:00P – 5:30P M-F.  I work from home when not on the road, but still, I am at the gym by  or 5:45 – 6:30 (depending on travel time).

“Blasphemy!”, you cry out.  Nope, the other “B” word – Brains! I have an hour for lunch.  Tada!  That’s right.  Every day this week, I have cooked dinner during my lunch break and still have time to eat some tuna on a cracker or peanut butter toast AND get the dishes done.  What?! You heard me!

And if you have befriended me on Facebook, you know that I’m not talking about some slimy hot dogs swimming in tepid pink water (nod to my sisters and bowling night long ago).  I am talking some real deal meals!  It is SO nice to finish work, sit down to a lovely meal (warmed up and cooked by a chef – toot toot), go to the gym and come home to a clean kitchen.  Yep!  One shining star in the black sky that is getting-in-shape-when-starting-out-as-a-lump drama.  Last night Zumba in the dark with disco colored lights and tonight walking off Philly Cheesesteak pockets to some pumping tunes.  Woohoo!

**Disclaimer: Endorphins remaining in the bloodstream mixed with the desperation to cling to a win makes Karen a might too cheerful.  Just roll with.