My body language says “no” and so does my mouth.

I used to feel like I had a neon sign over my head that said, “Wackos and emotional cripples – come talk to this one!!!”  Many years ago, I even managed to attract the same utter nut-job twice over the course of two years, in two radically different zip codes. But it has been a long time since I was catnip to the people whose coat sleeves come with extra inches and buckles.  Maybe it’s one of the side effects of being older, or being married.  Whatever it is, I haven’t missed it.

And then came yesterday’s commute home.

I was sitting by the window, earbuds in my ears, knitting away on my latest sock, sublimely minding my own business, when someone sits down next to me.  I have an impression of weediness, but otherwise I don’t really pay attention (I try not to be completely in my own world: it is wise, after all, to pay some attention to what is going on around when on public transportation – but as long as you don’t smell, don’t fall asleep on me, and don’t intrude unduly on my personal space, I don’t care who you are).  After just a few moments, I get the impression I am being observed.  This isn’t completely uncommon: I have had some delightful conversations with other knitters, interested teenagers, and those just generally curious as a result of knitting on the Metro.  But there is that other feeling of being watched – if you’re female, you know what I mean.  That kind of creepy, weird, can’t-put-your-finger-on-it feeling.  Weedy Guy was giving this impression.

I also get the impression that I may have been spoken to.  I remove an earbud and say, “excuse me?”  Weedy Guy says, “Oh – I said hello.”  Great.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m on public transport I generally maintain the fiction that my fellow passengers are invisible, unless there is some sort of natural opening.  Sitting down next to someone who is wearing earbuds and is obviously engrossed in some sort of project – there’s no natural opening there.  So Weedy Guy also has inappropriate boundary issues.  I put my earbud back in and continue to knit and listen.  I also make sure my left hand is turned to prominently display my engagement and wedding rings.  Back off, Weedy Guy with Inappropriate Boundary Issues.

Oh, but Weedy Guy with Inappropriate Boundary Issues isn’t done.  A few minutes later, I get another impression that I am being spoken to again.  Again, the removal of earbud and, “Excuse me?”

“Is that going to be a sweater?”  Not an uncommon question – the cuff of a sock could easily be the cuff of a sweater sleeve.

“No, a sock,” I respond.  I am about to put the earbud back in when Weedy Guy with Inappropriate Boundary Issues says, “But where is the toe?”

I have about 2 inches of this sock worked at this point, but to me it clearly looks like the top of a sock if you orient your mind away from thoughts of sleeves and towards thoughts of socks.  I don’t know anyone outside of a newborn who might need a 2-inch sock, and the cuff on this sucker isn’t going to fit a newborn.  It is also clear that even on a knitting machine, an entire sock doesn’t just… materialize.  You have to start somewhere.  I gesture a few inches below the cuff and say, “Well, it’s going to be somewhere down here when I get to it.”

“But where is it?”  Oh, great.  He isn’t just Weedy Guy with Inappropriate Boundary Issues, he’s Stupid Weedy Guy with Inappropriate Boundary Issues.  He’s also slightly agitated, which is freaky.  It’s just a sock, dude.  A sock you will never see again, God willing.

“I haven’t knit it yet.  I’m knitting the sock from the top.”

“But how do you knit from the top?”

It is so self-evident to me how you knit from the top that I don’t even know how to answer this.  I mean, it exists – it’s there.  The top of the sock is in my hand.  I say, firmly (possibly rudely – by now, I know I’m deep into neon-sign territory), “YOU JUST DO.”

Earbud firmly jammed back in my ear, I am no longer at home to Stupid Weedy Guy with Inappropriate Boundary Issues.  After all, there are only so many adjectives you can append to a total stranger before things get out of hand.

Oh, sweet bandwidth, how I have missed you

We finally have our home internet service back.  It only took a week, a bunch of phone calls, another useless visit to our home (which told the tech that the problem was, in fact, outside — again), a bunch more calls, and a guy named Erroll with a shovel.

Of course, our cable TV box is now apparently busted, so we’re chained to the house this morning in the hopes that Comcast will fulfill its promise to deliver a new one.  We have 46 minutes left in our appointment window – who cares to wager that they’re actually going to show up?  Anyone?

ETA: Well ho-lee cow.  Not two minutes after I posted this, the guy showed up with the new box.  1 point to Comcast.

A few phrases I would be very happy to never hear again

What follows is a small catalog of annoyance.  I am sure I have uttered these words.  I am sure those I love have uttered and will utter these words.  Those of us who live on the planet are bound to irritate someone at some point.  But henceforth, anyone who hears these words uttered around me is going to know what’s going through my head, even if I am sporting a socially correct veneer of facial politeness.

“Doesn’t [person] have anything better to do?”

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, knitting, reality TV, insert your guilty pleasure here.  We all have them, but some killjoy is just dying to make you feel like a fool for your choices.  This cute little number is intended to make the target feel like a frivolous, time-wasting moron.  On the other hand, I suppose one is to infer that the speaker is a virtuous ascetic who only expends effort to create great beauty or value.  Right.  Get back to me when you’ve won the Nobel Prize.

It also makes me wonder, “Why do you care so much?  What about this activity gets up your nose so much that you feel the irresistible need to sneer?”

I would also venture to guess that the subset of people who are superciliously passing judgment and who have also tried that thing approaches zero in nearly every circumstance (which would tend to account for the fact that speakers of this phrase seem to think that typing out 140 characters a couple of times a day takes So Much Time).  Therefore, I shall now respond to all such questions by saying, “No, actually — and don’t you have anything better to do than to make fatuous judgments about stuff you don’t understand?”

“I am the kind of person who…”

This one reminds me of the quote often attributed to Margaret Thatcher, “Power is like being a lady; if you have to tell someone you are, you aren’t.”  (I can’t find an authoritative source for this — at least not swiftly).  The point is, all too often the quality that follows this statement would rarely be attributed to the speaker by anyone who knows them.  It’s almost a guarantee of willful blindness to one’s own personality.

A close cousin to this statement is a manager’s boast that he has an “open door policy.”  Generally, this person only has the door open the better to swing it firmly shut on your ass and your ideas.

“I have to be honest with you.”

After hearing this, I always think to myself, “Okay… how many lies did you tell me prior to this statement?”

“Get a life.”

You first.

Got any choice hateful phrases you would like to see banned from polite conversation?


I realized a while back that my daily dose of  “Get Fuzzy” wasn’t arriving in my RSS feed every day any more.  Figuring that some dope had meddled a bit and broken the thing, I went to your site today to re-subscribe to the feed.

Now, before I go on, nice job on the new site.  It’s still a little cluttered (understandable – you’re running a comics site), but the colors are lighter and the design is a lot cleaner and less intrusive.  So, well done to you.

Now here’s the rub: when you click on “RSS,” here’s the message that appears:

Login or register now to personalize your RSS feed with all your favorite strips and editorial cartoons!

Um… no.  Someone has a shaky grasp of the acronym.  Let me explain: “RSS” stands for “Really Simple Syndication.”  As in, “click to sign up, and have Bucky, Satchel, and Rob arrive automatically in your Google reader until you say nay.”

What you have here is, “click to create an ID and password, type the password twice to make sure your valuable comics-reading data is secure, enter a bunch of personal information, type a captcha,* log in, click to ‘add to my comics page,’ click….”

Are you starting to get the idea?  This is starting to look not so “really simple” anymore.  If you want to collect information about your readers, fine.  But you might consider that you’re getting fewer of them as a result.

*I’m assuming based on standard protocols, I didn’t actually sign up.

Early riser

Tosh and I take a short walk every morning at around 5:15 – we move out, with a sense of purpose: just long enough for Tosh to do his doggy business, but just short enough that I don’t freeze in the winter mornings.

The moon was bright this morning.  Not bright enough for me to completely see by (some less-fastidious dog walkers are not as courteous as I would like on our suburban woodland paths), but bright enough to marvel at, especially since it is past full.

Our path brings us into the sheltering woods and then out into an field of sorts – not a mowing field, as we had in the country, but green grass covering a suburban earthworks: a drainage pond fronted by a high, dramatic berm.  But the sky is a field’s sky – it is wide and open.  Coming out of the woods, my eyes played strange tricks on me – the expanse of sky was piebald with dark and light patches, but my brain could not make sense of them immediately.  The dark – clouds?  But the moon was so bright – aha.  The bright was reflection on the clouds against the dark, clear sky.  After this moment of disorientation, I snapped off my light to stand in the freezing air and watch the clouds.

Ever have that moment where you’re looking at a piece of art and you say, “Yes, very pretty – but not realistic.”  And then, months or years later, you see that “unrealistic” thing happen in nature?  Like the deep purple skies of a twighlight Maxfield Parrish painting.  “Maybe on Mars,” you think, “Or a place in a book – I’ll bet Narnia had twighlight skies like that in C.S. Lewis’ imagination.”  And then you’re out on a country road, and the molecules have lined up just right to give you a radiance-drenched, deep purple post-sunset sky right here on Earth?  These clouds were like that.  They looked like anime or the woodblock animations so often used to depict Native American legends.  Stately and stylized, they moved swiftly, like great cutouts of tissue, never changing shape in the predawn sky.


Like I said in my last post, I don’t do resolutions.  I also don’t usually find solace or meaning in ceremonies.  The big, grand statements of life do not move me.  The small moments, compounded together – the quiet moments of everyday life when you realize what they have added up to: that’s what creates meaning for me.  Change can happen any day – it doesn’t have to be the first of the year, or a big birthday, or any other artificial point on the calendar.

So why is it that in the first few days of this new year we have rearranged furniture, I have made moves toward brushing up my French, and I have this overwhelming awareness of the fact that I’m turning 40 in a few months?

Oh, and of course, I have had strong thoughts about rejuvenating my barely existent yoga practice.  Naturally.

I don’t do resolutions

So why did I just subscribe to a French-language instructional podcast? Hmmm.

I need to make myself a felted cloche, yes?

…to go with my new haircut?

New haircut

If I look wryly amused, it’s because John said, "It will be cute!" and I said, "When it grows out, or when you get used to it?"

He’s a nice boy and a good husband, so you can probably guess the answer.

Let me get this straight…

The Wall Street Journal is suddenly indulging in a fit of hand-wringing over privilege?  Pardon me, I think my head just exploded.

*Voluntary blogger disclosure: I attended private schools from sixth grade on, and my best friend works for the institution in question.

God help me, I giggled like a loon.

It seems that everyone is writing about that silly cat in Japan who dives headfirst into boxes.

Well, that’s about the level I’m working at this week, so enjoy: