Friday, February 20, 2015


I wrote a poem, wanna hear it?  Here it goes...  I wrote this circa 2008 on a Subway napkin.  Read it as fast as you can--that's best.

Bride-y, Bride-y, zill-y, zill-y
Going for the kill-y, kill-y
Meet her gaze, it's chilly, chilly
Try to flee her--silly, silly
She will rip you with her claws
Gnash you in her fearsome jaws
She will eat her fill-y, fill-y
Every Brian, Bob and Billy


Monday, February 16, 2015

25 my favorite number, and I know not why.  It always has been, even through the year I was age 25, in which some shitty things happened!  I remember thinking (irrationally), "This should have been my year!" and it wasn't.  The best things seem to have happened at 30 and beyond, and I'll take it. 


This is a little old-timey, but I came across this thing in the blogging world where you list 25 things about yourself, mostly semi-substantial things rather than quicky ones, and I figured I'd do it, having nothing else to write about.  So, without further ado...HERE ARE ALL OF THE THINGS.

1.  One time, I got lost in Ukraine.  I was with a group (missionary, but now in more secular times, I tell people that it was a humanitarian trip--and truly it was--if I don't want to get into a religious conversation), and part of that group had a presentation at a church one night.  Because I stayed later than the others, but left sooner than the few making the presentation, I got shoved in a cab, a native Ukrainian speaker spoke to the cabby, and we took off.  Now, I spoke some Russian that I'd learned in high school, which is very similar to Ukrainian, but I wasn't fluent, so I was trusting the individual giving directions and the cabby himself to get me where I needed to host family's apartment.  It was night, and so many apartment buildings in Simferopol, Ukraine looked EXACTLY the same.  The cabby seemed confused, but dropped me off, and I indicated that I'd get where I needed to be.  Wow, was I lost.  The building was wrong, and in 2002, anyway, they did not have street lighting in that city.  I eventually went into a building looking like mine, and a young couple was making out inside.  I knew just enough Russian to tell them that I was a dumb, confused American, and could they help me get to building number whatever it was.  They were charmed by my idiocy, and told me where to go.  I knew just enough of the language to follow their instructions, and bumble my way in the dark back to my Ukrainian home.  Thanks, Mr. Hylkema!  (He taught me Russian).  Thanks making out young couple!  Maybe they made a little Ukrainian that night, who knows?  Crap, I hope they're ok over there.

2.  One of the most moving moments of my life has been seeing the Bog Bodies at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.  Please look them up if you are interested, but I'll just say that they are like leather--beyond baseball glove-like--and they have gorgeous bright red hair in tiny braids...TINY braids, you guys.  They are very short in stature--you can tell, even though some of them are just in parts (it's not for the faint of heart).  When I saw those things (and that's what they are now--things) my atheism was nailed down for sure, though I wasn't fully conscious of that at the time.  Looking at them, I thought that any afterlife was an absolute pipe dream, and I loved them for that.  Oh, the fleeting nature of our lives.  Those were the freakiest and most beautiful objects that I've ever seen, and the most sacred.

3.  Right now I'm craving a steak, a big pile of greens and a glass of red wine.  Craving it really hard!

4.  My best friend is this guy who I never would have guessed or picked to be such.  In 1995, I was walking on my college campus by Crowe Hall, and he shouted out his window at me.  I could have been any one else, I suppose, but I was me.  He could have had a third floor room, and maybe I would have passed on by to avoid the bother, but he was on the first floor.  I went in, and I don't remember what we talked about or did.  We did nothing scandalous--he's gay.  I DO know, however, that a few weeks later he called me up at my dorm room and left a message.  I got it late one night.  He was singing Melissa Etheridge, and he grinded all of the first notes, "I WANNA COME hell with the CON-se-QUENCE..."  He did come over.  And for these twenty years, he never went to speak.

5.  I've been to exactly one gay wedding, and back then it wasn't legal.  It was in Arizona in...maybe...1998?  It was the best and most romantic wedding I've ever been to...two dudes.  It was on Halloween, and they encouraged everyone to dress in costume.  We stayed with the grooms in their home, and lots of other friends did, too.  My bff (above) was invited to sing at the wedding, and that's why I was there at all.  He is still in contact through Facebook with some of those with whom we camped out in the grooms' living room.  One of the fellas has since passed away.  We had a grand old time that four or so days, and then for about six more.  We combined it with a whirlwind road trip of western cities...Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego (to see our friend Liz), Tijuana.  That was  a damn good trip.  We were so young, Chris and I.  Once, in Nevada, we took our rental Taurus up to 100 mph, just to see what it was like.  Since it was flat open road, it didn't really feel like we were going that fast, but it was fun to try it and not get caught.

6.  When I was in my twenties, I developed the habit of going to the movies alone.  Of course, I go with friends, too, and sometimes my brother and sisters, but going alone can be cathartic.  I remember my only film professor in college (I only took one film class, and got an A+ from a prof who supposedly only gave up to an A-.  BOOM!) said that he sometimes went alone when he was moody or upset or knew a movie would have an effect on him and he wouldn't want to talk about it after.  I took that cue, and followed suit in my Louisville years.  I still go alone almost half the time.  This type of easy independence led me to be able to go to places like Boston and Chicago and London alone without blinking.  I remember in Louisville hearing a woman say that she wanted to go to the movies alone, and wished she had the courage.  She ended up going with a bunch of other women to the bars that night, and I thought, "Jesus Christ, how will you have the courage to do anything in life if you can't even show up to the movies alone?"

7.  I  have been proselytized into a Japanese literature group.  I'm out of my league.  That feels great, though.  They did it with good sushi.  I'm a sucker.

8.  I was Amy Grant's assistant for a day...sort of.  I was working at a Christian retail store, and she came to do a signing.  My boss told me to shadow Amy, and get her anything she needed.  She was super nice, as I knew she would be, and never asked for a thing.  I stood behind her at the autograph table, as I was told to do by my boss, and her water bottle tipped over and fell on the table.  I stepped forward, grabbed it by the cap, and placed it back erect.  That is the one service that I provided for Amy Grant that day, and I assume the only one that I will ever provide for her, though I would be more than happy to do anything she would ask of me to this day.

9.  I was considered "clergy" in the Emmaus community.  It's a retreat-type thing.  I don't know if I want to talk much more about that, but they were special weekends with other Christians in Louisville, and they have them in lots of other places, too.  If I ever got invited back, I would definitely go and talk about my deconversion.  Not holding my breath.

10.  I am really an embarrassingly obsessive and loyal fan...mostly of literature and movies and television shows, though this last offends my snobbery a little!  I have NEVER been an obsessive fan of sport.  My little joke is that the only spectator sports I like are quidditch and roller derby...and that is the truth!

11.  I never began drinking alcohol until I was age 30 or 31.  I'm not a heavy drinker, still, so I think a late start is not such a bad idea for some of us, anyway.  I was a complete teetotaler up until then.  I like pale ales (I know...I'm filled with shame, though I drank a pint of Guinness in fucking Dublin, so that has to count for something), and I like red or white wine, no difference, and I like some rum in cola (Cola?  Who am I?) or some vodka with varying juices.  It's all good).  Right this very moment, I have been drinking a few lemon easy cocktail that I can make for you.  I can make a lemon drop, a Blue Marilyn (a not so fictional drink) and a Moscow Mule.  A Cosmo, of course.  Others, too, if I follow a recipe, but I want to get better.

12.  I love a big dog.  Lab, Retriever, German Shepherd.  If I could work from home, I'd have one in a heartbeat.  I just am away too much with work, then social things in some evenings.  Maybe someday!

13.  I have attended services where people were speaking in tongues.  No joke.  That was never my particular faith's proclivities, but I went with friends who were borderline Pentecostals.  Oh, my.  I have seen some crazy shit, y'all.

14.  I like to hop on the Amtrak and go to Chicago.  The least planning before, the more fun it is.  I've even done the thing where you get on the train with no ticket, and buy one on the way.

15.  I took my first nephew's newborn photograph to second grade show-and-tell.  No, my sister wasn't a teen mom.  I was just the youngest in a large-ish family.

16.  In 2010, I joined a film buffs group, and it was the best thing I ever did for myself, but I didn't know it then.  I had been back in my small town for awhile, but really needed to branch out.  I'd Googled my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, only to find that he'd been in nearby Indianapolis that very day!  He was giving a speech at a high school an hour's drive away from me.  I was too late, but I noticed that a film group in Indy was attending.  I scoped them out, and saw that their next event was a cinema outing to the new Leo DiCaprio/Christopher Nolan film, Inception.  I RSVPed to go, and thought, "Oh, that group might be fun to attend once a month or every other month."  I attended, and oh, my.  These were my people.  In the nearly five years since, I've met some of my favorite pals.  Just like the title of that book, they are the "same kind of different as me."  I even took my childhood bff, Jennifer, to a cult movie night with the group when she was visiting from Iowa, circa 2013.  Crimeny, I love that group.  And I re-love her for fitting right in.

17.  The only dog I've ever really had was my childhood one, Angel.  She died when I was in college, two decades ago, and I still miss her sometimes.  She was a Fox Terrier.

18.  Little Okinawa is a fake place. friends and I in 8th grade found it on accident through much "Stand by Me"-esque adventure, and I never could totally tell you all about it.  I get a little weepy thinking about that day.  we re-emerged from being totally lost at this cornfield and this road...and my dad (now deceased...what?!) drove by in his rusty old green truck.  Of course he would have picked us up and taken us back to my friend's house, but hiding in the corn just seemed like part of the adventure (we were dumb).  We walked back to Jennifer's (yep, that one) road and arrived at her house so dirty and wet (we'd waded waist deep through a creek (we were dumb).  But we made it.  I think about that day every once in awhile.  We saw some weird stuff...

19.  If you want to trap me, seduce me into a periwinkle colored room, with periwinkle shelves and periwinkle books, also glass bottles filled with periwinkle perfume...all backlit.  I could stare at the color periwinkle all day long and be mesmerized.  It's very soothing.

20.  My first ever concert going experience was Billy Joel--Storm Front.  I was a junior in high school, and Billy wore a black suit, black shirt, black shoes, and red socks.  You could see them when he was jumping around, on and off of his piano.  He could do that back then.  And I could watch without thinking about how sore I would be the next day if I performed such antics.

21.  Pet peeve--on HGTV or wherever.  A couple is dissatisfied with their awesome home makeover.  I don't care what you ended up with!  It's way better than the shithole you started with!  Be grateful, you jerks!

22.  My brother and his family are totally moving within 20 miles of Orlando, and I'm totally going to miss them, and I totally can't wait to visit, and they are totally taking me to Harry Potter World.  ...Maybe on my birthday?  Or in October?  Totally.

23.  Woody Harrelson was a student at my alma mater a little over a decade before I was.  He came back during my time there, along with lots of other theater alumni, to be in the play The Diviners, which was really great.  He lived on campus for a month during rehearsals and performances.  I talked to him a few times, and once, he sat down across from me at lunch at a table for eight.  He was a very humble and gentle person, and people noticed several acts of kindness that he did during his time on campus.  A few years before, Cheers had its series finale, and the entire college population signed an enormous card for him.  He was also given some kind of a gift--maybe a letterman's jacket?  I don't know.  Lovely guy.  You'd walk through one of the basketball courts, and there he would be playing a pick up game.  He stayed at his old fraternity house, and honestly I think he just sacked out on the couch.  No reports of copious marijuana use.

24.  I am an introvert.  Introversion is so misunderstood!  I've rarely known an extrovert to actually understand what introversion means.

25.  All of my biological grandparents had passed away before I was born.  My maternal grandmother died when my mother was a young girl.  Her father remarried her second grade school teacher.  He later passed, and she remarried.  She and her second husband were the only two people that I knew as Grandma and Grandpa, and they lived into my college years.  I grew up with parents who are roughly a decade older than most of those of my peers, so in recent years, when coworkers have seen me taking my parents out to dinner, or something similar, they sometimes remarked later that they saw me with my grandparents.  I hold myself back from saying, "I know lots of people in this town are grandparents by the time they reach 30, but that's not how it worked in my family."  I know!  Terrible!

And that's 25.  Thinking of all of these was like squeezing blood from a turnip.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valenblogiversary!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!  This day reminds me that my blog has passed a milestone--I began it on February 12th, 2011.  I blogged a lot that first year, then not so much, but am picking up on the posts lately.  We'll see if I participate a little more this year.  I like doing it whether or not many people are reading, and I'm so grateful for those who I've encountered along the way and consider chums.  I think blogging provides me with a little bit of Doogie Howser-esque reflection whether I do it at the end of the day or not (and I definitely don't type while staring at a blue screen with dot matrix white letters).

Here's to another year of Vain Minutia.  Thanks for reading all of the random crap I put here.

The Valentine candy is for my mom.  The cheese and toilet
paper are for me.  ROMANCE!

I don't know who made this.  I love it! 

I really love this place!  My bookstore Valentine.

Again, I shouldn't post this, because I can't give props to
the artist.  I love this fan art for Orange is the New Black.
Well done, you, whoever you are!

I got this candy heart yesterday.  FINALLY.  A Valentine
that's my speed.  Read to me, baby!

I saw this and thought, "Ok.  There's no way two humans
can form themselves into that shape.  I looked it up,
and it's much less exciting than I imagined.  143!

Ha!  You did it again, College Humor!

Alright, that's all I've got.  Do something romantic today!

Prince a complete cheat of a title, because I'm talking about Anne Rice, not her Prince Lestat.  It fit the "P" thing I have going on (by accident), so there you go. 
This entire post is a cheat compared to the others, because I didn't really get this autograph whilst talking to her.  I happened upon this signed first edition amongst our freebie books at work (it's sort of funny--she didn't even sign one of the title pages, but instead, just the blank page just inside the cover).  I did, however attend a signing of hers once, completely by accident.
Way back when, circa 1998, I lived in Louisville, Kentucky.  I was two years out of college, and getting my bearings in the city and in my young adult life (that statement may be overindulgent, but I think it's true).  Sometimes I would feel overwhelmed and like I was drifting.  When I needed to drift, but stay tethered to something, I would do so by going to the movies or browsing endlessly in any number of bookstores around town.  I hadn't thought of this one in ages until just now, as I am typing--Hawley Cooke--which no longer exists.  That was the bookstore whose dark parking lot I was in, walking toward the door when my best friend of only 3 years then (20 now) called to me from across the way.  He was with his friend Courtney, who I'd met before, and they were there to buy Anne Rice's Pandora, and have it signed by the lady herself.  I'd had no idea she was there (drifting...drifting...).  I was so glad to see them, and of course I went in for the experience.  I had at least read Interview with the Vampire, and had seen the film in the theater, so I was at least not a complete Rice virgin.
Anne was dressed pretty eccentrically, like a character in one of her books.  I remember being surprised that she had gray hair.  She sat at a table and the line wound around the store.  I didn't buy a book, which I regret, but since I was so soon out of college, I was probably broke.  It was an exciting time when and where I was figuring stuff out, and one aspect of that process was figuring out how to pay the electric bill, and get a hardcover to be signed.  I would eventually figure that out with time and experience.  I don't have a picture of Anne, because we all didn't have cameras in our pockets back then. 
I had fun with my pals.  That's about all I remember from that night.  It was dark, the stars were out, and there was a lady who seemed like magic, and we were young.  And I didn't have to just drift through the aisles that time (though when I did, and do still, I really enjoy it).  I know I'm looking back on this and totally romanticizing it.  That's a thing that I do probably much more than I notice.
My signed book, though not the one from that night, eventually came around, so that's pretty cool, I guess.  A happy coincidence.  


Thursday, February 12, 2015


I'm sure you guys have already seen this, but here it is again!  Fantastic.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Going forward with book's one from Tamora Pierce.  She very randomly came to my small town's (then) new public library, and gave a little talk before signing.  She was hilarious and adorable.  I remember that I saw my friend Tracy there, and she sat with me.  She asked me if this book was good, and I told her that I hadn't read it yet, that I'd only gotten it that day (It was a free copy from work, as was Inheritance, as was Orange.  Shhhhhhh!).  She was in a book club, and only had time to read what was chosen by the group...and was slightly bemoaning that fact.  She's had a wild ride ever since...I don't see her much anymore, as she moved.  But I digress...
Tamora talked about the book biz, and how every once in awhile, Hollywood dumps some money in her yard trying to get her to sell her book(s) to 'them.'  To that point, and currently as far as I know, she has given a resounding, "NO," as she hasn't been pleased with any proposals.  You've got to respect that, as she said that they offer "Lots...and lots...and lots...and lots...of money." 
She also said that when they redo your book covers, it's always meant to make your characters look more sexy.  I thought that was funny and true.

I'm so glad that she put the date with her autograph!  I never would have remembered.  Eight plus years.  Jesus. 

The one thing I remember from going up to her and getting my book signed was that she said, "Oh, dear.  I'm suffering from major t-shirt envy right now."  Here, y'all, is the t-shirt in question.  I don't remember choosing it for its fantasy-ish quality, but perhaps I did.  We'll never know, you and I, because I simply don't remember.  It is pretty cool, though, and I'm glad I still have it and wear it.  It's a velveteen griffin.  I know.  High-end stuff.


That's what I remember from my brief Tamora Pierce encounter.  I remember reading and finishing that book whilst house-sitting in Prospect, Kentucky (a thing I used to do), and I remember thinking that the residents of that household would be shocked at some of the happenings in said YA book and at the fact that I read it while sunbathing upon their roof which was set up specifically for such.  I wasn't naked, though.
(I was naked).
Tamora was ornery, and I know she would approve.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Earlier this week I went bananas for the delightful Piper Kerman, and as I added hers to my collection of signed books (there's signed, and then there's signed while I was standing there).  It made me think of other moments where I felt like an idiot not knowing what to say, and I felt good about comparatively knocking it out of the park this time.  Here are some pictures of Christopher Paolini, the fellow who wrote his first hit at age 15 (though he was 17 before it became one--slouch!), and my book with his very own autograph in it.  This time, I pretty much stood there like a goon staring at him.  I think I said that it was a great end to the series and that I hoped he'd write more soon.  Christ on a crutch.

I'll probably post more of these soon just for kicks. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

What's Your Middle Name?

I told this story for the zillionth time today, and I just thought I'd tell it here for kicks. 

The thing about middle names is, I don’t have one.  It was just sort of a thing in the small community and time of my parents upbringing that people weren't necessarily given middle names--especially little girls.  Who knows was just a thing.  I've known several people who don't have one, and I've even heard more than one person say, "Yours must be a generation for not having middle names.  I know a lot of people your age who don't."  That seems weird to me, but whatever!

The cool thing is, that kind of makes up for my last name being so long, like on forms and stuff.  The bad thing is, especially when I was younger, people wouldn’t believe me when I said that I didn't have a middle name, and they would take guesses at what weird or horrible or old-timey thing it might be.  I’m like, “No, it isn’t ‘Phyllis.’  I really don’t have one.” 

One time in elementary school art class, we were making big block letters of our initials on paper.  The point was sort of learning how to draw something that looked three dimensional.  I started mine out, “MD” and I really liked it, and wanted to stick it up somewhere when we got to take them home.  My evil teacher saw it, and said, “No, you have to do all three.”  I told her I didn’t have a middle name.  She goes, “Well, make one up.  You have to do three letters.”  I was so pissed!  I didn’t have one, and I wanted to do my real initials!  I chose “A” for my middle initial, so it spelled out “MAD.”  I know--sticking it to the man at such a young age.  My friends Jeff and Peter chose my new middle name, Anastasia, which became funny later in life due to my affinity for this lady.

It was funny, too, because she pinned those up on the bulletin board in the entry way to the school (which is now an architectural firm across the road from where I currently work) during parent-teacher conference day.  There was my great big MAD in red and black—the colors of rebellion. 

RED...the blood of angry meeeeeennn...
BLACK...the dark of AGES paaaaaast...

And that's my middle name story that I've told a zillion times. 


Thursday, February 5, 2015


In the summer of last year, I immediately became obsessed with the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black upon viewing the first episode.  Therefore, I was a sloppy ball of fangirl nonsense last night when I went to DePauw University to hear/see Piper Kerman, author of the book of the same name, but with the subtitle: My Year in a Women's Prison

She was my two favorite things--smart and funny--as she told the story about drifting after college, entering an exciting affair, and ultimately carrying drug money over international borders...once.  The result was a fifteen-month sentence (reduced to 13 for good behavior), giving Piper experience within the corrupt U. S. penal system, and a surprising look into the sense of community that emerges particularly in prisons for women.

The series is based on the book, but diverges in a number of ways; however, according to the author herself, both have the same spirit.  You get stories of women who are incarcerated for very different reasons, and their backgrounds often set them up to enter prison and, in many cases, through a seemingly revolving door. 

Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of her entry into prison, and since she was released in March of 2006, she has become an advocate for reform in the prison system, particularly in the stunningly cruel, damaging and unnecessary use of solitary confinement.

I figured the book signing would be the typical deal where you're rushed through with just a "hi" across a table, so I was really pleased to see when I finally made my way to the front of the line that she was standing next to a tall, circular small-in diameter-table on which she could sign, making her accessible for an actual eye-to-eye conversation.  I walked up and she shook my hand.  As I introduced myself, she said, "Oh! I know you from Twitter, right?"  We'd had a few exchanges before, and she has favorited* a handful of my tweets, but I had no expectation that she would recognize me from there.  I mentioned my work which is associated with her book, and she was genuinely excited to talk about that.  So, I was super stoked when she signed my books, AND chatted me up, AND hugged me, y'all!  It was really cool of her to spend that much time with everyone after the event, which was two hours including the Q and A period.

Not sure how to close, other than to say that I'm in fangirl heaven.  Feeling very...well...


*Sorry.  I hate made-up social media words.  Whatteryagonnado?