I’m very good at putting things off. For instance, I intended this to be written a month ago. I’m also working on my list of New Year’s resolutions. There’s a few holiday cards I haven’t sent yet… And filing papers … and dusting …

So many other activities and stuff to be done keep interfering with with this activity and other stuff to be done, however: housework. Brushing the cat. Spontaneously re-caulking the entire tub. Staring blankly into space.

You know, important things.

Of course, I never expect any amount of significant time to go by when I put things off. Last week, I finally got around to cleaning some of my art pens. The ink inside had dried to a crust, and it was only then that I realized I’d last used them an entire year ago.

I’m a master procrastinator.

(There should be a word for that. I should think up one. And I will. In a bit.)

I put off the things that don’t have a built-in reminder. For instance, laundry has a reminder: there’s only so long I can go without washing clothes before I’m out of clean socks to wear and can’t really justify buying another pack of socks again.

Not that I’d ever do that. Between paychecks, at least.

These types of activities have direct, immediate benefits: do laundry- fresh clothes. Clean house- clean house. Feed cat- less bleeding.

I need to develop a way to get rewards for doing the tasks I’d rather put off.

(Professional procrastinator? A pro-pro? Eh… no.)

Writing would attract my attention so much more if every sentence finished delivered a piece of candy. And yes, I know some things should be their “own reward”, that accomplishing a goal should simply deliver “satisfaction” etc., etc. However, I guarantee I’d enjoy a peanut butter cup a heck of a lot more.

I don’t think I lack in self-discipline, either. Sometimes, it’s not that I don’t want to do something, it’s just that there is so much more I’d rather be doing instead. There’s also times when I feel guilty about doing one thing when there’s other things I feel would be a better application of the time I have.

It’s hard to sit through a movie for two hours, when I could be reading for that same amount of time. And it’s hard to read for two hours when I could be playing a game instead. And it’s hard to play a game when I know there’s laundry that needs folded before the cat sheds on it because I really need to brush the cat right now but I could make cookies too.

Mmm, cookies.

(Promasternator? That … that could lead to confusion. And strange looks.)

I suppose I need to learn to focus. Try not to get distracted by all the things I want to do, but chose one thing, focus on it, stick to it, finish the task. Receive cookie. Assuming I haven’t already focused on all the cookies until they were finished as well.

Turns out I did.

Focus on baking more cookies.

(Now that’s an excellent example of an accomplishment that’s its own reward.)

Still, even once I know what tasks need to be taken care of and have decided where my focus should be, there’s also the time factor to, um, factor: there’s only so many hours in a weekend that can be dedicated to anything that isn’t baked goods.

To be more existential about it, the older I get, the more aware I am of the time I have available. I’m only going to have a finite number of weekends in the future, and I don’t know how many that will be, even. Sometimes, time isn’t so much precious as it is terrifying, especially with the faster it tends to pass with every minute that goes by – time has momentum, it’s running down hill, and no one’s bothered to put in any speed bumps.

I think the cat is also aware of the passing of time in its finite allocation, which is why he interrupts mine so frequently.

(Masterpro! No, that’s just redundant.)

I think the only way to slow the speed of time is, ironically, with accomplishments. Finishing a book, finishing a movie, each lends to a dedicated segment of time that can be easily measured and marked – I watched that movie; I read that book, and in my head I know how much time it took. And the next one doesn’t negate the last one – it just keeps building.

Writing a column, finishing a drawing, painting the garage, they’re not their own reward – the reward is that by spending time on doing something that in many ways has no reason to be done other than because I choose to do it, I’ve slowed down the passage of time by creating something that I can measure it against in terms of the achievement.

It’s not that time passed slower, but my perception of it did. Getting lost in the moment is far different than wasting a moment.

Still, it’s always going to be easier to focus on the concrete than the intangible. One cookie in the stomach is worth two in the hand … or something like that.

I’m always going to put things off.

But by being aware of the problem, I can work on finding a solution, so that eventually, I’ll be Mr. Get-to-it-and-do-it instead of a procrasti-master.

Ha! See? I knew I’d come up with something eventually. That first description though … it needs some more work.

Maybe tomorrow.


Being that Halloween is so recently put behind us, I have a confession to make.

I am the repository for all unwanted candy. That which is left behind in the bags of trick-or-treaters – it belongs in my stomach.

See, I don’t believe in bad candy- some candy is just better than others. This is a spectrum I’m sure I share with many people.

My spectrum, like so much else in my life, appears to be completely opposite that of many, or even most, of my peers.

Perhaps even all of humanity.

For my favorite candies are the ones others tend to not only dislike, but actively hate.

Here are some examples:

Circus peanuts: those slightly-indeterminately yellowishly-orangey spongy (marshmallow?) vaguely peanut-loaf-shaped candies that are always in the store but which no one but me ever seems to buy. I enjoy the way they collapse in my mouth in a yellowishly-orangey flavor, as well as that slight, almost flesh-like resistance as I chew on them.

Like all candies on this list, I can easily put away a bag of these in a short period of time.

Mary Janes. Yet another candy that tops the disgusting Halloween candy list of so many people, this very well may be my favorite taffy of all. As a lover of peanut butter, what can possibly be better than peanut butter taffy, especially when that peanut butter center bursts open on the first chew?

Granted, their longevity in the mouth is tempered by the tendency to stick to my teeth in a way that probably makes every dentist reading shudder (assuming they haven’t already turned away in disgust at the mention of candy. For all tooth-care practitioners that are still reading, not only do I salute you, but I promise to brush and floss.)

But still, that lingering peanutty sweetness in my mouth lasts for a significant time after I discard the slightly-oily candy wrapping. It’s blissful.

For a change of pace, I turn to the candy my fellow collegiates would lick and stick to the wall – Necco Wafers. I’ll admit, their chalky texture may not be for everyone, but for me, there’s a certain satisfaction to the crack they make (Dentists – look away!) as they shatter against my teeth. Each one has a subtle, unidentifiable flavor that ranges from almost-orange to barely-banana to probably-peppermint.

These wafers do have a preternatural ability to stick irremovably from a surface once they’ve been wetted with saliva; I’m fairly certain there are still a few attached to the ceiling of the Student Union lounge at my alma mater.

Similar in structure, I also enjoy Canada Mints, those Pepto-Bismol-pink wintergreen mints seemingly found in every elderly woman’s house, but which no one ever seems to eat (I sense a theme). Their color belies their taste, and while I haven’t eaten one in years, I can still bring to mind their minty, lightly medical flavor and the slight sting of the sinus when they finally begin to dissolve in the mouth.

Candy Corn seems to top the list of many as their most-disliked candy, but I adore these honey-flavored delights, whether corn- or pumpkin- shaped. The flavor never actually seems to change with the color of the corn, and while I’ve seen them recolored for different holidays throughout the year, they really come into prominence in the fall. The beginning of October can easily be determined with the arrival of candy corn on store shelves.

How can anyone possibly not enjoy these candies? They’re colorful, they resist just slightly when chewing them, and more importantly, they can easily be eaten by the handful.

Or simply poured from the bag straight into the mouth. Whatever works best.

I completely disregard as irrelevant anyone’s claim that these candies are “Chalky!” or “Too sweet!” or “Holy crap I just puncture the roof of my mouth on one of these suckers ahhhh I’m bleeding …”

People like that just need to develop their palate and stop raining on my candy corn parade. Eat a Canada Mint; they’re medicinal.

But topping my list, the creme of my crop, my absolute favorite candy flavor, spread across various types of candies, is black licorice. This delicacy waters my mouth like no other, whether found in the candy-coated pink and white Good & Plenties, or left behind in the bowl when all the other colors of gumdrops have been eaten, black licorice tastes like the best part of the soul. The darker, the better; but while the taste can be sugary and light à la anise, or heavy and dark like a shower of molasses; I’ll take any and all with gusto. Heaven to me is a cascade of black licorice mix, all types and colors coming together in one sweet, sweet tsunami of decadence.

Granted, my love for black licorice may be genetic, passed down to me by my paternal grandmother. She also had a fondness for black jelly beans and licorice sticks. I’m not sure anyone else in my family shares the same fondness, however.

But hands down, the best part about all of my favorite candies?

No one ever tries to take them from me. In fact, many people willingly try to give them to me. All the better.

Sadly, with Halloween behind us, many of these will become harder to find as the inevitable march of Christmas-themed candies take their place on the store shelves.

Including those colorful, Christmas ribbon candies.

Those, you can have.

They’re just nasty.

I’m 46 years old, and I’m teething.

It’s complicated.

My teeth and I have always had a casual relationship. I don’t remember spending a lot of time with them growing up, and really only noticed them when they started falling out- naturally, on their own, to be replaced by adult teeth.

I went through the entire tradition of having dangling teeth pulled by my parents and swallowing one or two accidentally (teeth, not parents), quarters from the Tooth Fairy (it was the 70s), gap-smile school pictures, trying to scam the Tooth Fairy (didn’t work), the weird feeling of an empty socket and how it was impossible not to explore it with my tongue, and finally discovering my parents were actually the Tooth Fairy after all (I pretty quickly had my doubts anyway.)

See, according to my mother, soon after losing my first tooth and receiving my first quarter under my pillow, I was overcome with greed and devised a plan with my brother to pull the teeth from a random jawbone we found in our yard (I don’t know where it came from; they just showed up periodically. Probably drug home by the dog. I doubt they were human jaw bones, but I never really checked.) and put them under our pillows, then rake in the cash.

Apparently, we were tripped up by our lack of strength and inability to extract the teeth from the jawbone.

I don’t remember this happening, but I was clever enough to have planned such a scheme, so I have no reason to doubt her story.

My teeth and I didn’t really talk much until I neared the end of my third senior year in college. Years of less than adequate concern and care caught up with me, and I needed a series of fillings done on my teeth. The dentist did a number of them at once, leaving me fantastically numb across the lower part of my face when he was done.

Hungry, I stopped for a roast beef sandwich, and ate it as best as I could manage with my compromised mouth control. The sandwich seemed to be of far lower quality than normal for this particular fast-food joint, with nearly every bite finding yet another piece of gristle grinding between my front teeth.

Finishing my meal, I discovered it wasn’t barbecue sauce I’d been dripping uncoordinatedly from my chin.

I’d been chewing on my lower lip the entire time.

For this and other reasons, including an irrational fear of having a dental tool dropped down my throat during an exam, I avoided dentists for the next few years.

As an adult, I bounced around a number of jobs that didn’t offer dental insurance. Even with the higher level of care I now gave my teeth at home, their condition worsened, until I had to face the choice of a root canal and a crown to save a tooth, or an extraction to remove it. The first usually cost more than I took home in an entire paycheck, so I invariably choose the latter.

By the time I’d reached a level of adult capability where I could actually pay to save a tooth, I’d already lost nearly all my molars, and one front tooth that I’d delayed work on for too long and needed to be removed because the bone in my jaw was dying off around it. My smile now permanently matches one of my grade-school pictures. Second grade, probably.

There were times I regretted my new level of responsibility, such as when I was having a crown put on one of my remaining back teeth. Suddenly, the dentist slipped, and $600 dollars worth of gold dropped down my throat. I bolted upright, my throat muscles clamped tightly, and somehow managed to cough it back up and out again. Thank goodness for that – I really didn’t want to have to delay the procedure for a day while waiting to retrieve the tooth from nature’s course.

There’s only so well something can be cleaned off. At least I confronted, and overcame, my fear of swallowing dental equipment.

But it almost bit me in the behind.

My wisdom teeth came out when I was 30, and that’s an adventure of which I remember little, but I’m told I giggled all the way home afterwards. (To me, this is even more far-fetched and difficult to believe than the story of trying to rip off the Tooth Fairy, but again, I don’t remember well enough to argue.)

Because one of my wisdom teeth had decided to drop down perfectly alongside a molar in such a way that it supported its roots, the oral surgeon decided to leave it in place as to not compromise the structural integrity of the molar, since it wasn’t causing any other issues.

I just giggled and agreed.

Years later, that molar finally decided it had had enough and it was time to come out. After numerous fillings and reconstructions, I wasn’t in the mood to argue with it any more, so in January out it came. Once again, yet another dentist had to dig out their extra-big tools for me. (I’ve always suspected at least one borrowed some from a local veterinarian.)

My dentist speculated that the wisdom tooth would either cause unspecified problems in the future, now that it had been freed, or it might decide to play nice, and slowly move its way into the gap left behind by the missing molar.

Seven months later, that seems to be what’s happening. It’s been so long since a tooth has broken through my gums that I actually didn’t realize what was happening. It’s sore, but nothing to cry over (take that, babies!) I’m looking forward to actually gaining a molar to finally replace one of the many I’ve lost, even though I’m planning on getting some dentures when I’ve finally reached that next level of adulthood where I’m able.

Especially since I want to replace that missing front tooth with a gold one. I think it will add a little bit of character to my smile.

Second-grade me would be delighted.

I don’t like children.

In general. For the most part. There have been exceptions, but considering how many children there are in the world, the exceptions make up such a small percentage that the result is negligible, and can simply be attributed to measurement error.

This isn’t just some random proclamation. I’ve had enough experience with children to rationalize my decision.

Some people are good with kids. I am not one of them.

(There are those that find this difficult to believe. I point out it’s difficult to believe baby oil is just mineral oil with artificial baby flavoring.)

It’s just as well then, that I don’t want to have children of my own.

(See? I do care about the world!)

This comes from experience, of course. Children are loud, random, and difficult to control or understand. While they have their amusing moments, so do many other things in the world that don’t demand nearly as much attention, or smell nearly as bad. Like monster truck rallies.

Although I don’t like those, either.

I have no interest in being around children or interacting with them. Annoyingly, many of them are attracted to my disinterest, and I end up becoming their best friend in the whole room. Their lack of comprehension and refusal to obey orders compounds my discomfort – this is the only rational explanation for how “Please don’t sit on my lap” is interpreted as “Fall asleep and stay there forever.” And it seems that if the child isn’t yours, it’s looked down upon if you shoo them away. Especially if it’s toward danger, no matter how inadvertently.

It’s an illogical reaction anyway, especially when it comes from the parents that ask if you want to hold their newborn. That just seems like a risky venture to me. What if I don’t want to give it back? What if I’m hungry? What if I’ve only been your friend for the past 20 years because I knew one day you’d turn your back after handing over your child and I could finally distract those hungry Russian wolves chasing my sleigh?

This willful placing of a child in danger is, in my mind, far more egregious than accidentally hip-checking a toddler into the side of a couch.

Even worse are the parents that don’t bother to ask before suddenly slinging their infant into my arms. My instinctual reflex is to pull away, not pull towards. I suppose some people enjoy seeing the look of horror on my face when I’m handed a child. Just like I enjoy the look of horror that results when it turns into a game of baby hot potato.

(No, I’ve never dropped a baby. I just resent being put into a position where it could easily happen. Seriously, for all they know, I just put lotion on my hands.)

I don’t begrudge other people for having children; I’m sure they have their reasons. I just can’t fathom what they are, any more than I ever understood the rationale that led to my own birth.

I’m guessing my parents must have been bored.

Really, really bored. And momentarily witless. Maybe the TV was broken.

They already had one child. That should have given them pause before creating me. Secretly, I’ve always believed they weren’t particularly happy with the outcome of the first, which is a possible reason for trying for the second.

(The third child that followed after me could only have been an oversight.)

I’ve had enough contact with kids to know that my lack of parenting ability isn’t going to be overcome. I can even list specifics. For instance, somehow, a friend convinced me to babysit once. (I’m guessing I was promised food.) I went into it with an open mind and every intention to do the best job possible.

I did well, until the unavoidable occurred and the child needed changed. I could only keep the baby’s diaper on by using duct tape. I thought this was a better solution than using a new diaper and letting one go to waste, just because the tabs weren’t nearly as strong as they look in commercials, but apparently only some creative solutions in parenting are acceptable and worth printing in motherhood magazines along with the hundred-and-one-things that can be done with an empty formula can.

This same child wouldn’t eat one evening. She did, however, express interest in what I was eating. While it was still in my mouth. After I had chewed it.

This was before she was old enough to use utensils. Which is just as well, as I don’t think I’d want a fork in my mouth not under my direct control.

At least she didn’t go hungry.

Children learn from their parents. Parental wisdom comes easily to some people. I don’t think I’m one of them, so I’d be stuck passing on the wisdom my parents gave me, or at least what little of it I remember, such as: don’t pick at it.

Granted, that’s good advice for a multitude of situations and circumstances, but I feel a parent should be able to offer up more. Heck, my mother was quick to turn anything into a learning situation, like when she told me that a dying child in a tv show had eaten a peach pit. Or the woman with the badly cut arm had been playing with a ripped soda can.

I wasn’t old enough to know that a child hit by a car wasn’t dying because he ate the seed out of a peach, but I was old enough to understand the peach tree in our backyard would kill me, and to avoid metal cans at all costs.

(This is the woman who also let me fry my own eggs for breakfast when I was three. So she had her off days, too.)

I guess lessons don’t have to make sense to teach a valuable point.

There are people who stumble into being parents and do a fantastic job at it, just as there are those who know their entire lives that they want to have children someday. I think it’s just as important that there are people (like myself) who are just as capable as recognizing that they’re not parental material, and recognize as well the wisdom of not trying to change the person’s mind.

So if there’s any kind of a valuable point in this nonsensical lesson, it’s that parenting is easy enough to screw up even with the best of intentions – why encourage it under the worse of circumstances?

Nobody really wants to see someone die from eating a peach pit when they’re cooking eggs, you know.

It’s the Holiday Season!


The holidays snuck up on me this year, managing to find me even though I tried to hide as best I could to ignore them in the hopes that they’d go away. Even so, I suddenly realized that I was getting into the holiday spirit when I was wandering around the grocery store last week humming “Monster Mash”.

Unfortunately, as it was now late December, this meant I missed out on all the good Halloween costumes available in stores. There was one bedraggled Bill Clinton mask that looked like it had been regularly marked down since 1993, but I passed.

(Too scary? Maybe.)

The thing about store bought costumes is they have a rather high mark of demarcation for quality- store bought costumes really don’t look good until a dangerously high amount of money is spent. Far higher than my bank account has ever reached, at least.

So for the most part, all of my Halloween costumes have been homemade.

The earliest costume I can remember having was probably around the age of of 3 or 4. I had a love for bears then, and I was given a bear mask and an adult sized, brown corduroy overcoat to wear. The next part I remember is arriving … somewhere .. and a woman asking me if she could take of my coat, and I reacted as well as a real bear being skinned.

A number of years passed before I would try the animal route once more. While going through a box of my mother’s things from growing up, a strange gray onesie was found. As it turned out, it was all that remained of a donkey costume from long before I was born. Two wonderful coincidences coincided with that discovery which led to my halloween costume that year: I was big enough (or the costume small enough) for it to fit, and I’d also developed a fondness for donkeys.

(Some would even say, an affinity.)

The original head long gone, my mother set to work making a new one. I’m not sure how long she spent, and I wasn’t allowed to watch, but somehow she managed to take a few paper grocery bags, some newspaper, and gray spray-paint and fashioned a donkey head that fit perfectly over my own. It even had big ears and a long nose, just like the real donkeys we owned at the time. Black gloves and boots finished the look to perfection.

I couldn’t see a thing out of the mask.

Either of the eye holes could be looked out of, but not both at the same time. Even then, the long nose dominated my field of vision.

Once again my mother came to the rescue, dressing my younger brother as a farmer leading me around with a rope.

(I don’t remember how either of us felt about this arrangement – it’s entirely possible we weren’t allowed to have any feelings about this arrangement.)

Halloween night, we went into town to walk in the Halloween parade. The parade was typical of small-town parades all over the country, with people winning prizes they didn’t deserve because they weren’t me. It especially stung that year, since I really felt like I was wearing a prize-winning costume, even occasionally making braying sounds.

Worse, my younger brother won the prize for “Best Cowboy”, when the only effort he’d put into his costume was putting on a straw cowboy hat. As it turned out, the prize he won was two hats, so we each got one.

(I don’t remember how either of us felt about this arrangement – because we definitely weren’t allowed to have feelings about this arrangement.)

During this time in my life, I had a pet ram. Not the most usual of childhood pets, but he had been bottle fed after being born and followed me around like the dog he thought he was. I decided one year that I was going to be Mary leading around my little lamb at school. I was in the fifth grade, and it was the last grade that still had holiday parties during school time. Once again I experienced a coincidence of my being big enough/my mother’s old square dancing dress being small enough that my costume was easily assembled. Even better, the dress came with a bonnet.

When the time came for all the students to put on their costumes and parade around the school before the festivities, my mother arrived with Snoopy the sheep, and the two of us walked around, certainly the sight to see.

Once again, I don’t remember winning any kind of award, though one was obviously deserved. Snoopy, however, was a resounding hit, even after he tried to eat another student’s costume.

My halloween costumes of the years that followed weren’t memorable enough to be anything more than forgotten blurs at this point. I vaguely remember trying to make a mummy costume in high school, discovering an awful lot of effort is necessary to make mummification bandages look convincing and even more effort is required to keep the bandages in place (which is probably why most mummies just lie around all the time.) On top of that, it’s also mostly impossible to mummify oneself. I would have had better luck crawling into a sleeping bag and going as a cocoon.

In college, I somehow ended up with a cow costume, udders and all, that served me well for a number of years, even though I never managed to work out a way for it to give milk.

But that really was the end of not only my animal-based costumes, but costumes in general for me. There were occasional exceptions, but considering how many of those costumes involved a black dress neither big enough for me nor I small enough for it that it’s probably best not to bring them up.

I doubt I’ll ever were a Halloween costume again, although that’s not to say that I don’t still have the little black dress, because I do. Rather, the older I become the less whimsical I am. No matter what Halloween costume a person chooses to wear, a certain whimsy is required to even consider dressing up as something else, and that kind of imagination requires more energy than I’m willing to expend these days.

Besides, after all this time, too many other people continue to win prizes that really should be mine.

I guess I do still have a little whimsy in me. A cow can dream, can’t he?

I smell.

Well, my nose does, at least.

How does it smell?


(That shouldn’t be a new joke for anyone, even those fresh from the womb.)

Of all our senses, smell tends to be given a lot less importance than others. I’m not sure anyone lives in fear of losing their sense of smell, like we may for losing any of the “major” senses, such as hearing, sight, and touch.

The way we smell is easy to take for granted.

Just like our other senses, we are bombarded daily with scents and odors. We develope favorites, and dislikes, and categories to sort them all into.

I don’t know of any personality tests based up smell, like there are for color or music. But there should be.

For instance, I like many floral scents. The sublime delicance of a daffodil. The exotic slice of a neroli blossom. The unforgettable power of a rose (and as a bonus, rose can even be a flavor!)

My favorite of all – the heady punch of a blooming lilac. For me, a deep inhale makes my head spin and my mind soar.

To base an analysis of my personality upon these favorites, however, brings a result that with I’m certain I will disagree. (I’m … earthy? Gentle? Passive?) I’ve already had far too many people tell me that I’ve the soul of an elderly woman with scented bath soaps no one is allowed to touch on the inside.

(The soaps. Don’t touch the soaps. Not that this means any of you can touch my insides, either.)

Leaving the flowers behind, there are other scents I enjoy as well, of course: baked goods. (Go away inner old lady!) Leather stores (Erm, really … go away.) The sharp stab of mothballs (farther … that should do it.) The metallic tang of electrical ozone. Burning coal. Brand new computer parts. Freshly poured asphalt on a hot day.

(I’m machine-like? Like an old lady on a motorcycle delivering cookies, maybe?)

My point being, if one tries to analyze a personality based upon favorite smells, it gets weird.


In the name of (pseudo)science, obviously the other side has to be factored in as well – those smells that are disliked.

There are universally disliked smells, of course: rotting food. Sewer gas. Bad breath. Sadly even the innate cuteness of a skunk is not enough to overcome their disastrous odor.

(Although they seem to be perfectly happy with it and its usefulness in defense from predators. And cuddlers.)

Unlike many people, I don’t mind the smell of cooking fish in a microwave. Or boiling cabbage, or frying onions, or many other food related smells. I don’t mind the aroma of gas being pumped,  cow farms, locker rooms, wet dogs … I can’t say I’m fond of them, but I’m not bothered by them.

(The cat box really gets to me sometimes, though.)

But the odor that bothers me more than anything – musty clothes.

(Maybe I fear stagnation. Or being folded up and shoved in a drawer.)

I don’t know why it bothers me so much. Perhaps it’s a sense of failure because my clothes always seem to have an underlying mustiness to them that I can’t get rid of, no matter how much fabric softener I use. I’ve always envied those people who can walk down a hall and leave behind an unmistakable April freshness in the air.

I’ve tried finding out how they do it, but as soon as I ask, “Do you ever feel … not-so-fresh?” they just look at me funny and back away.

So the mystery remains.

In the past, I’ve blamed it on the washing machine I used, or the detergent, or the fabric softener, or the dryer sheets … but the unfortunate consistency across all these variables can only lead to one conclusion:

Apparently, I stink.

I’m not sure if the smell originates from the clothes rubbing off on me, or I on the clothes. I’m all right as long as I don’t get sweaty or wet in the rain. But as soon as I do, I can begin to catch the first whiffs of the unmistakable moldy hair smell.

(I’m bitter from the number times I’ve been lied to by fabric softeners listing their scent as “fresh summer rain”.)

I haven’t given up. (Perseverance!) If the cat can smell like fresh fabric softener just from burrowing underneath the blankets on my roommate’s bed and sleeping there for a few hours, there must be hope for me as well.

(He used to be the control in my experiments, until I was firmly told I wasn’t allowed to sniff him any more. My roommate, not the cat. Although I’m not supposed to sniff the cat, either.)

My latest attempt is to eliminate fabric softener entirely. I read online to use a little distilled vinegar instead. Since it’s on the internet, it has to be true, so I figured it’s worth a shot. Maybe it will help balance my natural PH levels or some other vaguely scientific-sounding thingy. I figure the worst that can happen is I end up smelling like vinegar. Or moldy hair vinegar.

If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll try lemon juice next. (Curiousity!)

It may end up that the only solution will be to cut off my nose.

But then how will I smell?


(Of course.)

… well, that’s it, really. The end of the story.

The beginning takes a little more explanation.

To live is to know loss; it’s inevitable. Every person has lost or will lose, either expected or not, someone of importance to them; someone they love.

While returning to my ancestral home for my sister’s funeral, I learned that my uncle had also died. His death was somewhat expected, as a week previously I had learned he was entering hospice care after kidney failure.

It was this I was expecting to learn of when my brother called me late one night, only to instead be told of my sister’s unexpected death.

I am now the oldest surviving member of my immediate family, and second oldest in my father’s bloodline. The past five years saw the deaths of my mother, my father, my dog, my paternal grandmother, my brother-in-law, and now my uncle and my sister. I very nearly became part of that list myself. (Both grandfathers and my maternal grandmother died years ago.)

That’s a lot of punches with which to roll.

I am one of many who deal with personal tragedy through attempted humor- the deeper the pain, the greater the irreverence. When asking for time off from work to fly to the homestead, I told my boss that the silver lining is that there’s not many more family members left to go, so I shouldn’t need any more time off for quite awhile.

(My irreverence is frequently matched by my tastelessness, I suppose.)

As the now eldest of my family, I wanted to speak at the memorial service for my sister, something I had managed to avoid with all previous funerals. (I’ve lost track of the number, but I’m pretty sure we can turn in our punchcard and get the next one free!)

I’ve tried to avoid this because I’m not good at writing seriously.

(Yes, I also realize many don’t think I’m good at writing humorously, either. Or writing at all. Go complain in your own column.)

During my travels from halfway across the country, I’d occasionally toss ideas into the back of my head to simmer and hopefully turn into something worth sharing. This continued into the next day as well, leaving me with little time to cobble something together before the service the following day. Never has the word “deadline” held so much meaning to me.

(This doesn’t help dismiss my claims of lacking taste at all.)

After learning of my uncle’s death, I wanted to write something that could be meaningful not only to the friends attending my sister’s memorial but the rest of my family that would be dealing with two funerals in one weekend.

Once I began writing about my sister, I tried to work in my uncle as well, thinking of the various memories I could share, like the picture of my uncle that I remember best from when he helped my father build a swingset (for my sister, coincidentally) and was captured hanging from one hand on the swingset acting like a monkey. Or of the time my sister tried to impress her boyfriend by baking him biscuits, but ended up with pastry hockey pucks when she used the wrong flour.

Frustrated with the direction and unsatisfied with the results, especially since I was trying to be thoughtful and serious, I suddenly realized I didn’t want to write about my sister and/or my uncle at all. They weren’t the ones who needed to be reminded of my memories and given whatever comfort I could muster.

Funerals are for the living, it is said, and I needed to write for the people who would be there for hers. I already knew I’d never forget her, and I hoped that I could write something that would help everyone else remember her as well, and to make them feel a little better, and in the process, maybe make myself feel a little better as well.

And so I did.

Everyone knows loss. Even though this was written for my own, I hope that what follows can also help anyone else dealing with theirs, as well.

I’m not going to talk about my sister. Instead, I’d like to talk about each one of you.

Each one of you has your own reason for being here, and each one of you knew her in your own way. Each of you feel your own individual loss.

But instead of loss, I want each of you to think about what you’ve gained from knowing her.

Think of how you met her, of the conversations you had, the things you did together, how she looked when she was happy, and how it felt to be happy around her.

Because what is important now is not that she’s gone, but that she was here, and the impact she made, in some way, on each one of you.

As long as you remember her, and what she did for you, and how your life is different because of her, and how you’ve benefited from the time you knew her, and most importantly, what she meant to you – hold on to this, each one of you, and she’ll never truly be gone.

It’s one thing to not be forgotten; it’s another thing to be remembered.