Women Trapped in Gender Roles and Under Cats

I can’t blog tonight because I am physically trapped in a ridiculous situation.


I’m not kidding. It’s absurd.

I can’t blog, but I can post this. It’s got everything:

  • Ladies!
  • Ghosts!
  • Ladies who ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

Pretty much just those things, actually, plus a novelty T-shirt and some rage sweat.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to get this cat off of my face.

Clean the Pain Away

I like lists. I like color-coding. I like Google Calendar and neatly arranged bulletin boards. I think a good spreadsheet can be unspeakably beautiful, and that the coffee table book on organization that my grandma gave me for Christmas might be the greatest gift ever. I have two Martha Stewart books on hold at the library (but I should probably buy them, right, so I can turn to them at any time?) and “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” magically changed my life.


Which I honestly did not see coming.

I’m particular, is what I’m saying. Fastidious, even. Anal retentive, if you’re a mean psychoanalyst. I’m an orderly lady and I keep an orderly house.

I’ve always liked organization (“Alphabetize your spice drawer, Mom?! What a delight!”), but the housecleaning thing is relatively new. I wasn’t a tidy kid. The inside of my car in high school was a disaster. My dorm room was an experiment in how high a person can pile dirty laundry. Pretty high!

But sometime after graduating college, I became a person who must live in a clean house. Not a person who wants to live in a clean house. A person who must. Like a fish choking in an algae-covered pond, I suspect living in clutter would slowly suffocate me and ultimately end in my body being found, belly-up, doing its best to float through the top of the gunk. Not to be too dramatic or anything.


I will have order.

How did this happen to me?

  1. I became aware of other humans. And in an effort to be considerate towards them/not drive them off with my disgusting garbage self, I started to keep the area around me clean.
  2. I am an oldest child. The perfectionism that rears its ugly (perfect) head in every other area of my life was bound to turn up in this area eventually.
  3. I started to rent or own my own stuff. It’s a much bigger deal when my carpet is the one that’s getting stained, and it’s my house that will get ants.
  4. I developed some other issues. Like an obsessive need to be as efficient as possible at all times, which is easier when you know exactly where everything is. Also some control issues. Some people get weird with food; I control my experience with Clorox wipes.
  5. I wanted to be more adult. A clean house fits my mental image of adulthood more than a cluttered one does.
  6. I watched Hoarders. No. Nope. No.

It was a combination of all of those things, mixed with the seductive smell of Murphy’s Oil that got me. I became a clean person. The Felix in any Odd Couple situation. An order Muppet.


My other interests include paper clip-collecting and pigeon-watching.

But it gets weirder. Now I don’t just clean to have a clean house. I clean to get through things — anger, sadness, obsessive thought loops. I clear my house to clear my head, and since my head is a real weird place, I clean a lot. If you’d like to clean until you stop thinking, too, I put together a brief how-to:

Clean the pain away

  1. Pick a room. Any room! You’ll go throughout the whole house, but maybe mix the order up a little to keep things spicy. Have you ever started cleaning in the hallway before? Who does that?! You do, you saucy minx.
  2. Collect all the things that shouldn’t be in that room and put them away. Away away, not just piled in the room where they go. You’ll thank me when you get there.
  3. Get out your duster. I recommend Swiffer’s disposable variety because it does a great job of trapping dust, cobwebs, and despair, and when you’re done, you can tie the whole mess up in a trash bag and send it far, far away from you. Plus they smell nice!
  4. Wipe every surface with your Clorox wipes. Use some elbow grease to get the sticky, grubby spots. The ones on your soul, I mean.
  5. Give your windows a good cleaning. Wouldn’t it be nice if your twisted-up insides had the same streak-free shine?
  6. Sweep every corner of the floor and gather it all into a dustpan. It’s like gathering your thoughts, isn’t it? Your nasty, petty, unspeakable thoughts. Throw that dirt in the trash can and get it out of your house as soon as you can. It’s evil and it has soiled you.
  7. Vacuum the rugs. You’ll need a good vacuum because there’s food, and dirt, and dreams crushed in there. Trap everything in your vacuum like you’re Peter Venkman trapping a class 3 vaporous full-torso apparition. It can’t haunt you anymore.
  8. Pay special attention to those hard-to-clean places like toilets. Scrub hard! Harder! Scrub until you can no longer hear the person who used to yell at you to clean your room calling you “persnickety” at the last family gathering. Say persnickety out loud. Yell it into the toilet bowl as you fill it with cleaning fluid. Embrace persnickety. Become persnickety. You’re not hurt by it anymore — you’re persnickety and powerful.
  9. Look around. Your house is sparkling. Mr. Clean is nodding approvingly in a corner. You did it! Your house is clean, and now your body, mind, and soul are, too. You healed yourself! There was nothing wrong with you that a little bleach wouldn’t kill.
  10. Watch a dust mote fall slowly in a sunbeam. Begin to silently cry.
  11. Repeat.

Have Your Best Morning Ever

Look, I’m just a girl trying to live my best life. I do my best to eat right, although my green-smoothies-for-breakfast phase ended when I decided human beings have teeth for a reason (and it’s not just to catch chia seeds). I strive for a work-life balance so I can spend less time at the office and more time with my family cats. I’m 18-months into DIYing my entire living room, and the asbestos tests came back negative. I even recently took up meditation to get my spiritual self in order. So far my spiritual self likes falling asleep cross-legged and being mindful of how mindful I’m not being.


Maybe I should get more open flames involved.

Like any best life-living person, I am subscribed to more than a dozen email newsletters that are trying to coach me towards living an even better best life. They are mostly from Oprah. It’s nice to start the day with Oprah’s thoughts, but according to her own newsletters (including her OWN newsletter, which is a joke for Oprah Winfrey fans) and the many, many other best life-related newsletters I subscribe to, there are other good ways to start the day and they are all extremely important.

How to Spend Your Mornings if You’re Living Your Best Life

  1. Do not ever hit the snooze button!
  2. Wake up at 4 a.m.!
  3. Before you do anything, write three pages!
  4. Before you do anything, meditate for 15 minutes!
  5. Before you do anything, go for a run!
  6. Go for a walk!
  7. Stretch!
  8. Answer your emails!
  9. Take the time for yourself!
  10. Do your most thoughtful work of the day!
  11. Eat a nutritious breakfast!
  12. Read a book (and write down three things you’re grateful for)!
  13. Pack your lunch!

There is nothing I want more than to live my best life. I want to live it better than anyone has ever lived before, is what I’m saying. But I’m not super sure how to do it, because I’m not super sure how to even start my day. My BEST day.

I mean, maybe you could multitask (People living their best lives do not multitask, say the newsletters) and knock out a few things on that list at the same time, like answering your emails while running, or reading while you cook breakfast.

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Although that’s how these Pop Tarts died.

But even if you were hyper-efficient, making tea while writing your morning pages and the things you’re grateful for, doing intervals so you get both a walk and a run in at the same time, and stretching while you meditate (something tells me that’s not mindful), by my calculation you still wouldn’t be done with everything before 9am. And even though you’ve really best-lifed it up, at that point you’re an hour late for work and still not even dressed.

Maybe once you’re finally living your self-actualized best life, you level up and can bend the laws of time and space. Or maybe it’s possible. To find out, I tried it all this morning. I thought maybe I could squeeze it in.

How I Spent My Morning, in Pursuit of My Best Life

  1. Hit the snooze button.
  2. Hit the snooze button.
  3. Turned the alarm off and trusted my body to wake up five minutes later.
  4. Woke up 15 minutes later because my body is a traitor.
  5. Checked Twitter.
  6. Read a news story about someone stealing cows in New Zealand.
  7. Shuffled to the bathroom.
  8. Shuffled to the closet and stared at my clothes.
  9. Checked the weather.
  10. Checked the closet again in case new clothes had suddenly appeared.
  11. Decided to wear pants because I haven’t shaved my legs in a while.
  12. Petted the cats.
  13. Bit by a cat.
  14. Changed out of my pajamas.
  15. Checked the time.
  16. Panicked.
  17. Shoved my head under the sink while brushing my teeth.
  18. Poked myself in the eye with my mascara wand.
  19. Said goodbye to the cats in a crazy person’s voice.
  20. Ran to the car.
  21. Cursed.
  22. Ran back in the house for my purse and a granola bar.
  23. Choked on the granola bar in the car on the way to work.

Not exactly best life stuff.


I never meant to hurt you, Oprah.

But when I look at how I spent my morning and how the newsletters say I should spend my morning, I think I came out on top. In my version, I got to pet cats, read about cows, and sleep. In Oprah’s version, I would just be running, and working, and giving myself paper cuts on journals.

I don’t think I want my best life after all. I’ll settle for pretty okay.

How to Be a Polite Human on Instagram

I practiced for the school spelling bee for weeks in the fifth grade, and when the big day came, I spelled my way to safety through a dozen rounds. Eventually it was down to me and one other kid, standing in the front of the auditorium while the whole school sat and watched. My opponent had just flubbed a word, and if I spelled the next one correctly, I’d win the whole thing. A kindergartner in the front row held her breath while I walked up to the microphone.

“Corral,” I said. “C-O-R-R-A-L. Corral.”

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Pictured: a dramatic pause.

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Life inside a Slapstick Routine

On my way to work on Monday, I shut a part of my body in the car door.

This happens often, actually. I’ve shut my fingers in there more than once, and when I had long hair, it would get caught in the door all the time. I wouldn’t notice this until I whipped my head around to try to execute a tricky merge. I’d merge alright, but I’d have to check later for bald spots.

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This kind of thing has decreased by 4,000% since I got a pixie cut. I recommend them for that reason alone.

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