Shattered Illusions



Lawrence Krauss, Nebraska Wesleyan University, March 11, 2015; photo taken by yours truly.

Three years ago to the day, March 11, 2015, I and some close friends and fellow atheists sat in eager anticipation in the rapidly filling up auditorium at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and professor at Arizona State University was in town to give a lecture to fellow nerds and freethinkers.

I recall that particular March evening: unseasonably warm and the sun was shining brightly, as if the cosmos themselves were aware Krauss was there and wished to carry favor to all of us eager to hear him fill our minds with his words.

I wasn’t there for the physics portion obviously, as that particular section of science is far beyond my comprehension. I mean, I attribute the wind blowing to trees sneezing still, but rather, I was there to witness one of atheism’s most noteworthy members.

Being a nonbeliever isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, if you can believe it, just in the way that we are often considered social pariahs for our audacity to claim disbelief in the god many of us were raised to believe exists. Outcasts, society’s modern-day lepers, if you will. To have Krauss here in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the heart of conservatism and Red State politics was like atheist Christmas.

He spoke passionately and eloquently, was charismatic and affable, and to my surprise, I followed along with his lecture well, only having a what the fuck is he even talking about moment once during his two hours on stage. I snapped the above picture from my phone near the end of his talk and it is one of my favorite pictures. I even have a print of it hanging proudly on my wall of photos greeting you as you climb up the stairs to the second floor of my home. Lawrence fuckin’ Krauss, man. It was an honor and treat to get to see him in person, and I have nothing but admiration for an incredibly intelligent man who isn’t afraid to be a vocal proponent of atheism. We don’t have many heroes, but Krauss is on our side and it’s a comforting fact.

Then, on February 22, 2018, nearly three years from the day he was in our town, an article first shared by BuzzFeed News was published, accusing Krauss of several instances of sexual misconduct. I saw the article notification on my phone and my heart sunk into my stomach. “Goddamn it…” I whispered to myself as I started to read. 2017 to present has brought forth so many stories of notable men behaving poorly, and it appears Mr. Krauss is not exempt from this.

As expected, several members of the atheist group I belong to shared the article and it has caused quite the stir among the group and causing controversy. Some demand he not be convicted by anyone based on the fact it was a BuzzFeed News article and their clout, lack of factual reporting standards, and inability to remain unbiased when reporting is in question. Some began attacking the veracity of the women’s claims based on the news source. Some straight up objected the claims at all, which is what I’d like to further address here in a moment. Others began attacking our own members for daring to be feminists and being outraged by these accusations against Krauss. I’ll also further expound on that, as well, because of course I will.

First, let me go off course a little bit and discuss sexual harassment and misconduct. If some haven’t noticed, the world is an ever-changing place. Things that were once tolerated and accepted without much fuss probably isn’t so much anymore. I mean, doctors, nurses, patients, and visitors could all smoke in hospitals and offices back in the ’80s, for chrissakes. Now, on nearly all hospital and clinic campuses, smoking is prohibited and if your doctor finds out you smoke, you get a stern lecture about the perils and health risks of it and are urged to quit.

Take a look at the machismo and quintessentially masculine figure of James Bond as another example. Suave, dashing, shaken martinis, owner of super cool gadgets, driver of shit-hot cars, and looooooved the ladies. A man like James Bond would be an HR nightmare and would have been fired years ago for telling Moneypenny he wanted to undo her bow and get to know her.

And not to be outrageous here, but I’m trying to really drive the point home, but um, slaves. At one point in our history, it was totally cool to own another person or several persons and last time I checked, that hasn’t been a thing–and rightly so–for a real long time because gosh, it turns out kidnapping folks, stuffing them into rickety old wooden ships in deplorable conditions and forcing them into servitude and routinely beating them wasn’t exactly a shining moment in our historical timeline.

Times have a pesky way of a-changin’.

Getting back to the James Bonds and Mad Men of the world. At one time, when the workplace was predominantly male-centric, a little office butt-slapping and comment-making on how nice that polyester dress accentuates Margaret’s curves was no biggie. In fact, it might have even appeared that the ladies enjoyed the attention and encouraged it. They never said anything about it, so obviously it was all harmless fun and a way to kick back and relax at the office while Janice did some document filing. Great job on making sure all those papers are organized, Janice. And great job on that ass today, too! Oh, Janice. Go fetch a snifter of brandy and a pack of Lucky Strikes like a good girl.

Then, the ’70s happened and women got the crazy notion that they can be empowered and “anything you can do, I can do, too” came about. More women were leaving their homes for the workplace. Janice suddenly became an office manager and get your own goddamn booze and smokes, you big galoot, and touch my ass one more time and I’ll fuckin’ deck ya. Feminism was on the rise, my friends. Dig it.

And so were reports of sexual harassment on the job. Dave from Accounting made one too many lewd comments about Janice and well, we can’t abide by that anymore, Dave from Accounting. Pack up your calculator and turn in your name tag.

Let’s discuss feminism for a moment, shall we? And apologies for bouncing all over the place, but I get to thinking while I’m typing and yeah.

The dictionary defines feminism as such: (noun): the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Simple enough concept, right? Barebones definition is “you treat me like a normal human being, and I’ll return that favor. Don’t behave differently around me or expect that you can display dominance over me just because I am a woman. K thnx.” But goddamned if that word strikes fear into some people’s hearts still. Images of unruly women ripping off and burning their brassieres in fits of rage and contempt for men. Fuck men! We hate men! The only thing men are good for is nothing because men are worthless, vile pigs! That, friends, is not feminism. That is a stereotype of feminism perpetuated by people who long for the days of pinching Janice on the behind and innocently shrugging their shoulders in a “what? What’s wrong with that?” way. Let me drop another definition on y’all because I’m in a definin’ mood, I guess. Misandry (noun): dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e., the male sex). Fun fact: feminism =/= misandry. Are some feminists also misandrists? Absolutely they are. Are all feminists misandrists? Absolutely no they are not. I’m not. I love men. I think most y’all are great, save a few exceptions, but there’s always a few bad apples in the fruit salad, isn’t there? From my opinion in reading some of the comments posted to our group about the Krauss debacle, some fellas can’t make that distinction and someone actually so eloquently referred to feminists as “feminutty,” and gosh dang, that tickled me to bits. Clever, dude. Very clever, indeed.

Now, let’s talk about sexual misconduct and/or harassment. I’m sure some of you have the same picture in your heads like I do when I think of sexual harassment. Any job you’ve ever had over the last several decades makes you watch a video on sexual harassment. Do not touch, make gross comments to, tell dumb sexist jokes, try to proposition, send dick pics, etc, or risk being fired. Basically, remove all thoughts of sex from your mind once you clock in for the day. You’re here to work, not get laid, unless you’re a sex worker, then yes, it is literally your job to get laid. Again–always exceptions. I’ve been fortunate enough in my profession to be in a mostly female-dominant work environment, so I’ve never had to deal with harassment at my job, at least not from my coworkers, lucky me. From gross old men who are patients of mine, however? Oh yes, that’s a different story. I recall checking the pacemaker of an elderly man and while I was placing the wand over his device, he said to me with a sly grin on his face, “I think you better check down here,” as he pointed to his crotch. Classy, sir.

And your job isn’t the only place us dames have to worry about inappropriate behavior towards us. The simple act of walking down the street creates a perfect storm. Catcalling, and in other instances, being attacked and raped are very real threats to us. Have you ever had to walk to your car at night with your keys spiked between your fingers as a makeshift weapon in case someone tries to attack you? I have. Or, with the boom of social media over the last decade or more, have you ever had a complete stranger message your Facebook inbox and send you a picture of their erect penis and then call you a fat bitch for denying their penis and for what I assumed was a request to rate said penis on a scale of 1 to 10 (“2, which I also assume is how long it is” doesn’t seem to be a very popular response with some fellas). A recent incident with myself is I had posted a picture on Instagram of me wearing a low-cut shirt. Some guy I have zero clue who the fuck he is somehow found my profile and sent me a private message of “can I fuck your tits?” Well, golly, Random Stranger! Sure! Fortunately for me, this doesn’t happen very often, but the fact it even happens at all is very telling of how some men just think behaving like this is totally acceptable. I don’t know if it’s some primal instinct kicking in or just plain ol’ stupidity, but the entitlement some men feel to assert themselves on women baffles my mind.

Speaking of, and I’m sorry to have to resort to anecdote here, but it helps with the topic, so please bear with me. Five years ago, I got involved with a man online via a dating site. Due to a series of questionable decisions on my part, after knowing this guy for a whopping 2 months, I decided to move to Austin, Texas to be closer to him. Again, questionable decisions, but I was dealing with my recent divorce and was wooed by this guy. Online and over instant messaging, he was a charmer and I got sucked into it. Desperate for attention, desperate for a change of scenery, desperate to make sense of the life that I didn’t ever think I’d be forced into living as a divorcee, I packed up and moved to Texas. Please keep in mind I had only seen this guy in person once while on a trip to Texas a few weeks prior to moving, so I had no idea what he was like face-to-face as compared to behind a computer screen, but boy howdy golly gee, did I ever find out the hard way! Turns out–and please, I hope you’re sitting down while reading this–get this: he was a completely different animal in real life. I know, right?! Who fuckin’ knew?! I mean!!!

When I moved, I was living with my best gal pal in her apartment, but I would spend a few days a week at his house. On one such day, we became intimate. It was mutually agreed upon to do so. While engaged in the act, he forcibly rolled me over to my side and tried to stick his dick into a place I wasn’t comfortable with. I recoiled in pain and asked him to stop. He pulled me towards him again and tried to do it another time, and I said to please stop, it hurts. He was close to my ear and whispered it would be ok, just to let him do it. Knowing he wasn’t listening to me even after two times of saying no, I caved in and let him do what he wanted to do. Luckily, it didn’t last long (neither did he, for that matter) and it was over quickly. I’m using this as an example. An example of how something consensual can turn into something not in the blink of an eye. Based on what I’ve read about the Krauss case, this appears to be the instance in one of the encounters. Everything was fine and good and then something happened to make it not anymore, but sometimes it’s hard to stop a train even when one of the passengers wants off.

And here’s also the thing: if you had asked me if I had been the victim of something like sexual abuse like that, I’d have denied it. Why? Because I was so confused by what happened, how it went from good to bad, but was it really bad or am I blowing it out of proportion? I has hurt and angry that he didn’t listen to me and ashamed that I wasn’t more forceful in my desire for him to quit. I was mad he didn’t ask me first before doing what he did and just assumed it was ok. I pushed that incident out of my mind and tried to forget about it because we had other matters to attend to in that tumultuous “relationship,” like the verbal abuse I’d suffer from him once he had a few too many drinks, and homeboy loved the sauce, so it was frequent. Within a month of having moved, we had broken up and gotten back together two times. The second time was it for me and I ended up ghosting the sonuvabitch and that is the only solid and good decision I made regarding him.

To those people who demand to know why victims of sexual assault and misconduct don’t immediately come forward and yell for justice regarding what was done to them, reread my last paragraph. Shame. Guilt. Denial. Anger. Fear. That’s why. But because of that, women are rarely believed and are making stories up for some sort of sick perversion they have. They want the attention. They’re sick individuals and need help before they ruin another man’s life with these false allegations. “Why, if that had happened to me, I’d have gone to the police and reported it immediately!” Ok. In some instances, yes, that does happen. In situations like mine, no, it doesn’t happen and won’t happen until years later when all the emotions I listed earlier consume so much of you that you can’t deny it happened any longer. Then, it’s a case of he said-she said and so often, the he said wins.

Look, I don’t want to believe Krauss is capable or guilty of any of the things he is. As I mentioned several hundred words ago, I admire the man. I respect the man and what he’s done for atheism. But I demand these charges be taken as seriously as possible and for men to quit doubting the women involved. I’m also not so naive to realize sometimes, accessions are false because there are twisted people out there. I get the skepticism but that just unearths a deeper problem that some men just refuse to accept women as equal human beings and show the same respect to them as they would another man.

I would also to see an end to the whole falsehood that just because one woman might not find issue with comments or playful touching construed as “harmless flirtation” doesn’t mean that all women feel that way. It’s a person-to-person basis, of course, and if you have tested the waters and a red flag pops up that signals to proceed with caution, heed that warning instead of ignoring it and later finding yourself scratching your head, saying, “wha happen?” Take this, for example, an alleged comment made by Krauss to a university employee he works with: “that he would buy her birth control ‘so I don’t get pregnant and inconvenience him.'” 

If I had been told that, I’d have laughed at the joke. It’s funny to me, but I also have a weird sense of humor, so take that as you will. But to others, that’s the opposite of funny and an inappropriate thing to say to someone. Just because I find it humorous does not mean all women will find it equally as funny and to make that assumption that all women would find the comedy in something like that is a dangerous one to make as a person who had a position of power (at the time of writing this, Krauss has been placed on unpaid leave by ASU).

One more thing, and I’ll try to wrap it up. A major cause of argument in my group was the reliability of BuzzFeed News as a credible news source. I can see being wary of articles published by the same organization who offers quizzes like “Everyone Has A Breakfast Item That Matches Their Soul–Here’s Yours” or “Plan Your Dream Wedding and We’ll Tell You How You’ll Die.” (actual, for real quizzes on their site, and for the record: black coffee and drowning in acid). Since then, however, a number of media outlets have also published articles, one being the New York Times, and they’re more known for their credibility and dark, dry editorial cartoons and lack of quizzes about breakfast foods and carry a heftier weight in the news world than BuzzFeed. I’m not arguing that just because the NYT published it that is automatically means it’s 100% true and real and hang Krauss from his testicles. No. I’m just citing more sources like a good little writer.

Honestly, I don’t know where I stand in all of this. As I read this morning on a post to Facebook, the hits keep comin’ at Krauss, and it doesn’t look good for him. Of course, we want to avoid being armchair judge, jury, and executioner and avoid trial by social media, and if Krauss can maintain his innocence in all of this and be cleared of any wrongdoing, well, so be it. If not, then he must hold himself accountable and do better. That goes for everyone.

Do better.

Thank you for allowing me to write about this topic, and as always, thank you for reading.




February 28, 2018

Well, hey there!

Let me preface this post with a few things:

  1. I consider myself a fairly intelligent woman. I do have moments of marked stupidity, however. Like, I can go into pretty lengthy detail about the intricacies of how a pacemaker functions and have an in-depth conversation about various topics, but I also don’t know what causes the wind. Sneezing trees seems to be the only acceptable answer to me. I also cop to thinking one time that a dead raccoon on the side of the road was the severed head of a buffalo…so…take that as you will.
  2. I am extremely defensive about certain things, one of which I will be writing about this evening.

Spring is in the air and that can only mean one thing: it’s time I declare myself sick of smoking and by golly, this time I’ll nip it in the bud! I’ve been writing about quitting smoking for the last nine years. I’ve lost track of how many posts I’ve made about quitting, or how many times I’ve tried to quit, for that matter. Four serious attempts for sure, and countless other times where I’ve cried “enough!!” only to light up again a day later. Nicotine is a motherfucker. Habits also fuck their mothers, as well as the behaviors behind them that cause a self-proclaimed smart person to smoke despite knowing full well the harms and dangers of doing so.

I got sick with influenza a little over a month ago (quick aside: get your flu shot. I did and still got sick, but you should still get the goddamn thing because I said so) and then a week or so after I was free of the flu, I got bronchitis and have been stuck with a pesky cough ever since. I can’t get rid of the damn thing. Phlegm will get caught in my throat and I’ll have to cough a few times to get it out and it’s annoying and disgusting and gosh, if I didn’t smoke, I’m sure this would be a different story, but I smoke and I’m dumb. I also get wildly short of breath walking upstairs to my bedroom and I’m congested and blow all sorts of vile snot out of my nose daily. Sexy as fuck, right? Right! I’ve had enough of this shit, or so I tell myself and yet, I had to pause my rambling to go to the garage and light one up.

I will give myself some credit where it is due: I still have the desire to quit, even after umpteen failed attempts at doing so. I haven’t given up, which is ironic considering I have always given up staying quit. My more serious tries have yielded somewhat favorable results: 6 months, 3 months, and most recently 2 months off the sticks, but then I fall face-first off the quittin’ wagon and start up again. I am getting real sick of that, figuratively and literally. Oh, you have a persistent cough, Erin? Weird! Whatever could be causing this, I wonder? Hmm. Oh well! 

I have tried most of what there is to try to quit: the patches. Gum. Using a vaporizer. Two different medications. Cold turkey. Immense guilt and self-hatred. If I may be open and candid, my addiction isn’t just to nicotine. My addiction is deeply rooted mentally and out of sheer habit. I know I’ve discussed this before, but let me go over it again.

First, some history. As wild as it may be, I was a Good Kid. I didn’t smoke, drink, do any drugs as a precocious teen, save a wine cooler or two on occasion and always under the supervision of my parents. My first dabble in smoking came when I was 20 and I realized, “hey, I’m more than legal to smoke. Let’s give it a whirl.” I was with my pal Corey and we decided to buy a pack of cigarettes to see what the fuss was all about. We bought Marlboro Reds–unfiltered, even, because we were so, so stupid–and I hated every goddamn second of it. I couldn’t figure out how to smoke. So…you inhale it? Then what? I would “inhale” by filling up my chubby cheeks with smoke then comically blowing out the smoke. After that little stunt, I didn’t smoke for years, save the rare occasion my ex-husband (an occasional smoker) and I would go out to the bars downtown and he’d start smoking, and I wanted to be a “cool kid” and bum a smoke off him. I’d smoke maybe 8 cigarettes in as many months, if even that. I remember thinking at some point, “man, I don’t see why people get addicted to this shit. It’s disgusting!” Oh, ho ho ho. Sweet, naive Erin.

I officially became a smoker in November 2009. My marriage had taken a shit on itself. I no longer loved my then-husband. I recall vividly standing on the front porch of the house we were renting, wondering where the fuck he was and smoking. He happened to come home while I was puffing away, stopped to stare at me and say, “…you smoke now?” in a condescending manner, eyeballing me up and down as I puffed away. “Yep,” I said as I exhaled. What I wanted to have happen versus what actually happened is why I then began to rely more heavily on smoking. Instead of what I wanted him to do, which was snatch the cigarette out of my hand, break it in half and throw it off the side of the porch, demand the rest of the pack and lighter so he could run the cigarettes under the sink to destroy them and throw the lighter in the trash can, for him to grab me by my shoulders giving me a stern shake and passionately yell, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL YOURSELF?!?” he instead shrugged me off and went inside to the basement and got high while playing video games. If devastation had a face, I’m sure I was making it at that moment. He didn’t give a good-goddamn about me or what I did and in that moment, I convinced myself that if my own husband didn’t give two shits about me or what I was doing, then no one else was going to, either. Sound logic, no?

The shit of it is, I do have people who give a fuck if I smoke. My mom hassles me often. My dad used to, as well. My companion does, too. Several friends care enough to express their desire for me to quit. Yet, here I am. Something has got to give, Erin.

A huge deterrent in not quitting–and please, please accept my apologies for this and I did mention this makes me defensive, but that’s hardly a valid excuse, but go with it for the sake of this post–is people saying “oh, you should quit.” Well no fucking shit. I know I should! Like I haven’t had that thought a million times over the last 9 years. I don’t sit around thinking, “wait, what? You can QUIT?! Holy fucking shit!” Telling a smoker they should quit is equivalent and useful as telling a heroin addict to quit doing heroin. We know it will kill us but goddamn if there isn’t something holding us back to quit. Telling a smoker they should quit is like telling someone who’s undergone a tragedy in their life “sending you my thoughts and prayers.” Both are equally useless. It’s an addiction, not a goddamned board game. Well look at the time! It’s late and I have to work in the morning, so I should quit playing. Okay bye! 

I did mention I get extremely defensive about this, right? Yes? Good.

If it was that easy peasy to quit, believe you me, I’d have chucked the smokes years ago but it isn’t that easy. And please understand I also see it from the other side, too. To have someone you love knowingly and willingly continue to do something to themselves that will kill them eventually but still engage in such a dangerous thing has got to be heartbreaking for many reasons. I love this person, why don’t they love themselves as much as I do and quit smoking? Don’t they love me if they keep doing this horrible thing? Are cigarettes more important to them than I am? Do they not care about me at all that they keep smoking?

I have no answers for any of those, aside from the addiction thing, which again, is hardly a valid excuse. Robert Palmer was addicted to love and he turned out okay-ish.

The last few days, I’ve been searching for ways to quit and I came across something that again proves my dumbness. Sure, smoking is the physical addiction and the habitualness of it, but it’s also deeper than that. It’s a behavioral thing. For instance, I smoke far more when I’m stressed and anxious, when I’m bored and feeling lonely, etc. I know smoking doesn’t relieve stress but rather increases it due to the physiological effects it has on you like increased blood pressure and acting a vasoconstrictor, but…it’s also a constant friend. Feeling bored? Smoke! Feeling anxious? Smoke! Feeling sad? Smoke! Yay!

In order for me to quit, I have to dig deep into my psyche and pull out some tricks that I have serious reservations I can muster anymore. One being confidence. I have to KNOW I can kick the habit because I’m fucking amazing and will tell smoking to fuck right off because I don’t need it to make me feel ok about myself or need it to help me cope. Get fucked, cigarettes. Willpower is also a tough one. I have a very odd relationship with the voice inside my head and in general, we get along well, but every now and then the cunt tells me shit and I believe what she says, much to my dismay. Knowing I can quit, that I will stay quit, and that I will be stronger than the urges to smoke truly fucking sucks for me. I like to give in to myself sometimes, as is apparent by the whole still smoking thing.

This is going to take some serious work on my end. Am I willing to do it? I like to think so. I am worth the effort and fight even if some people failed to recognize that previously.

I can’t thank those who continue to support me during these times I cry wolf and try to quit. I can only imagine how annoying and infuriating it is to watch me say I’ll quit, do well for a bit, then crash and burn only to repeat the goddamn process over again and again and again and again. You’re the real protagonists in this tale. Your belief in me blows me away and please, keep doing so. I’ll keep fighting it if you keep fighting for me in the process.

And that’s it. Thank you. Thank you for reading, for thinking I’m worth the hassle, for all of it.


When You’re Dead.

I have always bought purses and bags from retail stores, never spending more than $40 for a bag. The people who can go out and spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for a purse baffle me. It seems like such a frivolous thing to do, especially knowing that these purses will be used for a while, then the owner will get tired of it, or demand the latest version to keep up with the ever-evolving world of fashion.

I, on the other hand, hold on to them for years. I’m not saying I don’t have several, because I do, but I often give them a rotation and use them until they are tattered, worn, and filthy and have seen far better days. I’m rough on my bags; they are with me every day and I stuff them to the gills with the odd assortment of items: at least four tubes of chapstick or lip balms (I have a problem); a small makeup bag with toothpaste and toothbrush and a small container of wax for my braces (when you have braces as an adult, you learn quickly to always carry this stuff with you); whatever book I’m pretending to read at the moment (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I don’t like it much); and the usual suspects–billfold (or wallet or pocketbook or whatever your regional dialect prefers), a pen or two because you are never sure if you have a pen or not, so you toss one in just in case, and keys. Recently, I found a Fruit Roll-Up at the bottom of my bag. I am still unsure how that got in there, but it made me happy to discover it because hey, Fruit Roll-up.

These bags get tossed around and beaten up. The lining of the one I’m currently reusing is shot. The seams have all ripped open and anything that was once nestled safely in a pocket is now stuck in the purgatory that is between the liner and outer shell of the purse. Nothing makes you more crazy than absolutely knowing for a fact that you have a certain item with you but cannot find it and end up dumping the contents out on a table to rummage through it, angry and annoyed.

It’s a treat when I decide to exchange bags, as I always find something I had been looking for in it, couldn’t find it, so dubbed it missing without hope of return. So that’s where that went! Welcome back, old friend! Favorite shades of lipstick reunited, favorite pens found again. It’s heartwarming, really.

Lately, the bag I’ve been using has definitely seen better days. It’s faux-leather, and the edges around the opening and long shoulder strap are wearing out and the once lovely tan color is allowing the ugly fabric to show through. This particular bag in question is also the one that keeps eating my things into its belly. I decided I needed to get a new one when I reached into a pocket to retrieve something and instead of what I was looking for, came up with fingers covered in an odd black, grainy substance. There was glitter thrown in there, too. Again, I have no idea what this was or how it got there. Perhaps my bags are going out on adventures when I’m sleeping, like Toy Story, but with bags. Oh, the stories they could tell each other. Oh god, remember that time she stuffed her underwear in here and forgot about it until she got to work? Well, I do now, bag. Thanks.

Several weeks ago at a meeting, a guy I know was carrying an absolutely incredible leather briefcase but it also had the long crossbody strap I covet in all my bags. His bag was gorgeous. A dark caramel and just enough scuffing and blemishes on the grain to give it character. If that thing could talk, I imagine it would sound just like the actor Sam Elliott. Gruff but soothing, a deep baritone of a voice with a flowing cadence. I asked him where he got it and how much it set him back, because I knew that thing had to have been expensive. It reeked of leather. I put my nose close to it and took a deep inhale, the neurons in my brain completely freaking out at the surge of serotonin breathing that amazing scent in does to a person. The smell is your father’s trusty old leather work boots, tarnished and worn from years outside. It smells like general stores, which is kind of odd because you’re a 36 year old woman who has never set foot in a general store, unless the one inside Cracker Barrel counts, which it probably doesn’t. It’s a masculine smell, and soothing. I had to have one of my own.

A few days ago during a lull at work, I brought up the website and browsed the bags and the other items for sale. My hunch was also correct: the bag my friend has was $600. Mother Mary of God. Never in my life have I spent that kind of money for an accessory. My mind went to those women carrying Coach bags, and I was torn: buy it or no. Knowing my ability to hold onto these things for decades, I knew it would be a sound investment. I’d never have to buy another bag ever again! I say that because this company boasts a 100 year guarantee–if something you buy from them fails in any way, shape, or form, they’ll replace it, no questions asked. They mean business. I looked at various styles and sizes and opted for the satchel they were selling. The dimensions were exact to the bag I am using now, so I knew it would suit my purposes. The shoulder strap was long and there’s this nifty thing where you can convert the shoulder strap method to a backpack and well, gosh dang if that isn’t the neatest thing ever. I clicked the button to add it to my cart, my heart speeding up at the price tag–not $600, but still ten times more than I’ve ever spent on a bag. I shared my story to Facebook, and my trusty companion told me to take the plunge and buy it. I snorted to myself, still unsure of the spendy purchase. After mulling it over all afternoon, I finally hit the “checkout” button, entered my information in, and hit “submit.” If you don’t think I didn’t have a mini panic attack about it, brothers and sisters, you’re wrong and don’t know me at all.

It arrived today. I got the email earlier this afternoon from UPS saying my package had been dropped off on the front porch. Oh my goodness. Holy cow. I opened up the box and there it was, even more spectacular than I imagined. That deep golden brown color I love and bright silver buckles. They were not messing around making this and I want to thank the cow who sacrificed itself in order to become this beautiful specimen. Thank you, cow.

But then, I noticed a cardboard tag attached to the strap with a piece of twine. They’ll fight over it when you’re dead it says. They being your family and friends, when you’re dead because as I mentioned earlier, it’s guaranteed for a century.

For some reason, this got to me. It made me sad, in a way. As it stands, I am not a “typical woman,” and never had kids. Both medical reasons and personal ones prevented this from happening. I like kids enough; they can be a hoot when they aren’t throwing tantrums and ruining your lives. Kids say the darnedest things! But I don’t have any, so who in the fuck is going to get this bag when I shed this mortal coil? Is it just going to sit abandoned in my house until someone not related to me sees it and decides to keep it? Will whomever cleans my house when I die keep it for themselves? Will looters break into my place, see it sitting and take it and try to get money for it from a pawn shop?

This isn’t “oh gosh, I regret not having kids!” This is just a weird little thing I think about from time-to-time. As it stands, I’m The Last Hoffmeyer, as in I’m the only product of the union between my mother and father. My dad’s older brother never had kids…that we know of, at least…and my mom had my older brother already when our parents married, so I am literally it. It’s just me left that’s riddled with Hoffmeyer genes, like big noses, a mess of thick hair, a giant German head, a propensity for severe depression, and cancer. I never regret not having kids, trust me. I just regret not having someone else to carry on the Hoffmeyer name and legacy, which is really ridiculous because that would mean having kids. And that’s awfully egotistical of me, as well. What makes us so great we need to keep going for generations? Um…nothing? The greatest thing I’ve ever done was not laugh when I was at work at a gastroenterologist’s office helping perform a colonoscopy and the patient farted as the scope was violating their anus. That’s it. That’s my short list of accomplishments in 36 years. Here lies Erin Elizabeth Hoffmeyer, July 4, 1981. She didn’t laugh when someone ripped ass that one time. Rest In Peace.

It’s amazing to me what arbitrary things will send you on a tangent like that. It’s a bag, for crissakes. A bag. A really incredible, finely-crafted bag, but a bag nonetheless. I am not a failure for failing to spread my genetic code. Trust me; that’s a blessing.

I just hope whoever ends up with this thing enjoys it as much as I am going to.

January 14, 2018

Well, hello there. Greetings from the frozen landscape that is currently looming outside the window of my office. Never being one to miss an opportunity to display a vaguely romantic way of thinking, it’s actually rather nice to look out and see a thin covering of snow and light grey skies. I have a large cup of cream with a splash of coffee at my side, and wrapped up in my fuzzy robe. This is how I picture what all legitimate writers do on their Sunday mornings.

I have two things I want to address today, but knowing me, I’ll end up discussing several other things because that is how my brain works. I’ll try to keep it on track and not flip around a lot, but again, it’s me and that’s cute of me to think I can actually do that.

First up, I’d like to make a statement that will be of no major surprise to anyone but it’s one of those things that I know about myself, but never really want to cop to: I am impulsive. Sometimes, that’s a neat characteristic of mine. Feel like going for a long drive on a day where I don’t have any solid plans and just want to stare out the windshield of my vehicle, having a personal karaoke day as I warble along to the music playing far too loud? Well, by golly, put some damn pants on and drive, lady!

Sometimes, the impulsivity is bad, usually when it comes to fairly major decisions. For example, last year at this time, I was looking for a place to live. I did the prerequisite searching various sites offering places for rent, set up a handful of appointments to view said places, quickly became annoyed with the process and how much rent was for some places that definitely were not worth that amount, and by the third showing I went to, I said, “fuck this!” and put in my offer. Don’t get me wrong; the townhouse I live in is nice. It’s in a good neighborhood. I have a lot of space for myself and was able to purchase furniture and whatnot that I wanted in an effort to make it my home. So, what’s wrong? The goddamn rent is too damn high! A year ago, suffering horrible credit and having had an experience where I was denied living at a place that ran my credit and said, “lol nope,” in order to assure I could live here, I brazenly offered a full year’s rent up front. That remains one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me because I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on the woman’s face when I said that. Her eyes got huge and I could actually see money signs in them and heard a faint ka-ching sound. But, it guaranteed my spot and avoided the dreaded credit check, so whatever, man.

Flash forward a year. My lease will be up at the end of February and I am entering panic mode. I’m stressin’ out! While this place is nice, it’s served me well for the last eleven months, as I mentioned, the rent is…high. Not to appear boastful, but it costs $1300/month. To those potentially reading this who do not live in Nebraska, I’m sure you’re all salivating at that number. $1300 for a 3 bedroom, 2.75 bath, 1.5 stall garage in a good area?!?! Shit!! I pay that much for a shitty one bedroom apartment and pretty sure some dude got shot out front of the building yesterday! As we are all painfully aware, the real estate market is, in a word, fucked. What I consider high rent is a goddamn bargain to others.

Not only is the rent situation a factor, but also my neighbors. Now, I realize The Perfect Neighbor is rare. You’re goddamn lucky to find yourself next-door to people who don’t ever need to give you shit about anything you do. How these townhouses are set up is there are four in a unit. I’m sandwiched between two, so I share walls. I don’t often hear the neighbors, save the gal on my right side who loves to bang round her kitchen cabinets, but other than that, nada. I’m actually the “problem neighbor” to these people. As you may know, I love music. Love it. To reflect my love, I happen to have 4′ tall speakers and a decent subwoofer. When springtime hit last year and I got myself some patio furniture, a favorite activity of mine is to open up the backdoor, crank up the tunes, and sit outside while enjoying a refreshing beverage. It’s ideal…for me, at least. The lady next door didn’t find it as great as I do and approached me several times to ask me to turn my music down. Now, granted, a few times, the music was loud. I’m not that big of an asshole to where I won’t admit I am in the wrong, because those times she did come over to ask for us to shut up, she was totally in her scope to do so. My only argument agains that is that every time she did, it was during early-to-mid evening hours. I am also not that big of an asshole to be blaring music at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night. No. She would fuss at like, 7:00pm on a Saturday night. There’s an unspoken law with people that noise complaints are totally valid after 10:00pm any day of the week. If you bitch any time before that, you’re just being a dick and a fun hater. Life is short: buy the Corvette and play loud music when it’s polite to do so.

The neighbor on the left side has taken to pounding on my walls, too, which is a treat. Again, I will admit it when I’m wrong, and the first time he pounded the wall was when I was watching There Will Be Blood and the subwoofer got a little hot and I”m sure the poor guy thought his place was crashing down, so that time was valid. Sorry, man. The other two times, I was like, “alright, dude. Really? Get your bloomers out of your butt. You’re fine, I’m fine, quit being a fuckface, fuckface.”

Anyway, I’m thinking about moving, not because of my neighbors, but the rent thing. I’ve been putting into this perspective: I could be putting the money I’m paying for rent into the down payment on a house and my mortgage will be hundreds of dollars less than renting this place for longer. I’m tweaking out because I’m thinking of my money situation and doing the math in my head, I’m just nervous about the whole thing. Again, not to be a braggart, I do have enough for a down payment and still be okay-ish afterwards. I’m factoring in other things like continuing going to school and paying for my old student loans, which is when I get all nervous. That’s when the money starts disappearing quickly and that freaks me out and then I convince myself I’m going to end up where I started and have to live with someone in their basement because I’m broke and I’ve seen too many E! True Hollywood Stories to know that is a very real possibility. I’m convinced I’m going to end up selling my car and everything else I have and living with my mom. I have x amount of dollars and I”m trying to be smart about those dollars, which is completely new and different for me.

On the one hand, staying here while I go to school makes sense to me. I’m a renter, so if something major fails, like the AC or the dishwasher floods or the hot water heater goes out, I just call up my landlords and they’re responsible for it. If I have my own house, that’s on me and I might as well light a pile of money on fire now as a symbol of how that will make me feel. On the other hand, what I would spend for two years more of living here is a goddamn down payment for a house. My own house. I can do what I want to the place. My sense of accomplishment would be overwhelming. This is mine. BUT…I’m worried about being able to qualify for a home loan. I’ve been able to improve my credit quite a bit over the last year, thanks to my dead father still looking out for me from beyond the Thunderdome, but it still isn’t the best. Ideally, in a perfect world, I’d want to keep working on the credit situation to hopefully raise it to a place where I won’t get fucked dry by a high APR or some shit.

As you can tell, I’m at odds. I’m stressing out. When I get stressed out, I tend to shut down and try to ignore the problem because it’s too hard and waaaa I don’t wanna. But I gotta. But I don’t wanna. I gotta, though. But still don’t wanna. And Jesus Christ, I should be grateful I’m even in this position to begin with. Oh, you poor baby! You were given this wonderful gift from your father and you’re whining about if you should buy a house or not while you go to school! Shut the fuck up. Good idea. I will.

Next up on the bitching agenda is the topic of friends. This has been weighing heavily on my addled mind for a while. In general, I am not good at making friends. I’m awkward and weird and crass and vulgar and clingy and not always the best person to be around. I also get easily annoyed by other people and being a master introvert, I need time for myself often as if I’m in a social situation, the effort I exert in trying to be a normal human being zaps all the energy from me. I’m a real treat, lemme tell ya what.

But here’s the shit of that: this is also the first time in my life I’ve lived by myself and while mostly great, I also get very lonely and bored. Half of the time, I can find things to do to occupy my time and mind so I don’t have to think about how lonely and bored I am, but the other half, as I sit in my living room constantly refreshing my Facebook news feed, I think to myself, “man, I need another person right now.”

Now, before you say it, I’m going to stop you right here. I bet you’re thinking to yourselves, “Erin, the solution to both problems you have laid out is simple: get a roommate. You can stay at your place, save money by splitting costs with someone else, and have an insta-friend!” That’s adorable, really. Don’t think I haven’t thought about that, because I have. But because it’s me, let me tell you some of the reasons why this won’t work for me.

While often lonely and bored, I don’t mind it that much, despite my bitching that I do. See? A real treat of a woman. I like my space now. I like how I have my place set up. I like that I can do what I want, when I want and not have to worry about interrupting another person’s routine or annoying them. Do you see the problem here? Aside from me, that is.

Anyway, the friend thing. As I said, I’m bad at making and keeping friends. I’m very selective about who gets my time and energy, but once I find those people, you’re fuckin’ stuck with me, man. So sorry. I’m not saying I don’t have friends, because I most certainly do, it’s just that these friends aren’t always available and that bums me out. They either live states away or have families and are busy with them, and that’s totally cool. I get it; life happens. Another thing is that because of who I am as a person, whenever someone asks me to do something, I’m usually not in the mood or something, so I miss a chance to hang out with people, which just annoys the fuck out of me about myself. Or if I’m the one wanting to hang out, I’ll talk myself out of asking because I assume my friends hate me? And don’t want to be around me? Which I mean, valid. So, here I sit.

And then there’s the friends I have had that we aren’t close anymore, which also bums be out, but that’s the ebb and flow of human interactions. I don’t know why that gets to me so badly when it happens, but it does. I should be used to it by now, considering I’m divorced. I lived with my best friend for years, but then oopsies, even he got tired of me and bailed. Oh well. That’s probably the root of my issues, which big wow, what a revelation, Erin. Of course it is. Divorce totally fucks a person up, y’all. My logic is apparently to never get close to anyone because I’ll end up doing something to push them away, so save yourself the heartache and avoid everyone. Or if I do get close to someone, which I have and my feelings for this person scares the shit out of me, but I am also fucking that up by being aloof and distant because oh ho ho, don’t get too close! I’ll ruin your life, I promise! Don’t believe me? Well, stick around and it’ll happen, guaranteed! Or as that delightful Cajun chef dude Justin Wilson used to say, “I gay-rone-tee!”

Oh, another reason I am bad at relationships is probably because instead of reaching out to someone to express my concerns and fears, I pull this shit and write about it instead! Terrific!

Well, isn’t this a fun, self-deprecating post? Golly. I need to chill, I think.

I’ve run out of steam now, thank god, so I’ll stop. Thank you for humoring me and letting me get some shit off my chest. I’m slightly embarrassed by this post, to be honest, but as always, thanks for reading it.



August 28, 2017

Good evening, friends.

I had started writing a post to FB, decided it was getting too “I want attention-y,” so I decided like every normal person who thinks they are engaging in sometimes harmful attention-seeking behaviors to head over to my blog because no one uses their blogs for this kind of shit. Nope. Not at all. Having said that, read about me and then comment on FB when this gets shared to my page as a passive-aggressive way to seek attention but doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, m’kay? M’kay.

It’s tremendously fun to be a constant ball of emotions but try desperately to not let any of those slip out. Like, so fun; the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my 36 years and I hope I keep doing it for 36 more years. And I wonder why people tend to pull away from me. What do you mean they can’t read my mind and act accordingly to what they read in my mind? Jesus, it’s 2017. Way to not be telepathic, you fuckin’ slackers. What is this? Amateur hour at the Apollo Theatre? You expect me to be open and honest and communicate? Oh, fuck that noise.

Would it blow your tits clean off to know that communication–or rather, lack thereof–was the number one cause of the demise of my marriage? Well, hold on to your tits, because it was.

I suck at talking. I’ve written about my inability to talk many, many times and yes, writing the line “I’ve written about my inability to talk” made me chuckle at the irony and stupidity of it.

I’ve tried to pinpoint the cause of this disgusting habit, and I’m coming up empty. I’ve always been like this. Ask my mother, whose tactic to getting me to talk to her was get me in the car and drive because she knew she had me held hostage. Eventually, I would open my gob and speak. Thinking about it now, that’s probably why I don’t speak–because I’m a passive-aggressive, stubborn asshole.

Allow me to explain: as a kid, my parents took a shine to walking around the house bare-ass naked. I apologize for this visual, but if I had to live with it for 19 years, you can suffer a moment of brief discomfort. Seeing them in their birthday suits constantly made me extremely self-conscious and prudish and “I am never going to be like my exhibitionist parents and wear clothes all the goddamn time!” I did, too. When I first moved into my current dwelling, so many people told me, “oh my gosh, you can walk around nakey whenever you want now!” Ha ha ha! Can I? Probably not. I do admit I’ve become much more comfortable doing that in my old age, and do sleep in the buff a lot now, but it has only become more of a thing for me to do within the last 5 years or so.

And hence why it’s hard to talk. Ma would corner me, I’d feel threatened or whatever, then shut up, taking the stubborn stance. I ain’t never talking as much as she does! Also, oddly enough and also ironic as all fucking get-out, in order to ever speak to my ex-husband, I’d employ my mother’s tactic and get him into the car and drive. Like a dog in a shock collar who got tired of getting buzzed, he wised up and learned to never go anywhere with me, ever. Shit. Foiled!

Dad, on the other hand, wasn’t a big talker, either. He and I are very much similar in many ways, which is both wonderful and are you fucking kidding me right now? I swear that when my parents were married, Dad hardly ever talked to me just to chat. There was always a reason to chat. I liked that I didn’t have to talk to him about stuff I didn’t want to. I had Mom to hassle me, so to have a “safe” parent was glorious.

Then, Ma and Pa got a one-way ticket to Splitsville and then suddenly my dad turned into a goddamn Chatty McChatterson. It was all about talking about feelings and he started to openly cry in front of me, which is also something he never, ever did growing up. For the record, I do not see that as a sign of weakness or being a sissy or any other derogatory thing people equate expressing emotions with. I admire people who wear their hearts on their sleeves like that. It’s a quality I posses only to myself, so to know there are people who unabashedly bawl at commercials or seeing a soft, fluffy puppy or hearing a song that slaps you across the face with its lyrics… I wish I had that. I wish I had zero filter with my emotions to be able to do that, as well. But, here I am.

Getting back to Dad, though…this sudden, flagrant display of emotions was jarring to me. Like…I’ve known you my entire life and never saw you like this up until now. What the fuck gives, old man? Did you get hit in the head and it jostled loose your ability to express yourself? It was seriously bizarre to me and I shamefully admit it made me pull away from him more because now this goofy motherfucker was going to start asking me about feelings and want to talk about them and hell no. Good day to you, sir. If I had a dollar for every time I left my father feeling exasperated with me, well, I’d have quite a lot of dollars.

But that definitely plays a factor in why I am the way I am for sure.

And let me address my former husband again, if I may. As I mentioned, we had the communication skills of two people who were under the impression that being open with your spouse was in violation of some sort of secret code. Oddly enough, I tried to talk to him, I really did. It was painful as fuck for me, but goddamn it, I tried. I recall vividly a point in time early in our marriage that we needed to have a Serious Adult Discussion about something; I think it was job-related to me. I had been working at Walmart and absolutely hated it and wanted to quit in the worst possible way, but wanted to get his say in the matter because that would mean he would be supporting us while I looked for a new job. This was extremely laborious for me to have to initiate, but I knew it had to be done. I recall laying on the bed with him because I guess I wanted a place that was comfortable for us both and it got rid of the confrontational aspect of it–we were in neutral territory or whatever. So, I began my talk. When I try to talk about something heavy, my words fail me. I take great pauses to gather my thoughts and force them out of my brain. I can fully understand how engaging in this type of conversation with me can be mentally taxing on a person because I can feel the other person’s intense exasperation and frustration with me to just. fucking. spit. it. out. already. god. damn. it. Needless to say, my darling husband ended up falling asleep during this, snoring and all. I was absolutely crushed and devastated by this. Incredulous, awestruck, furious, you have an adjective to express how flabbergasted I was, I experienced it. That was also the first time I ever truly became so blind with rage at the man, I was glad he was sawing logs because I thought I was going to kill him. I left his snoring ass and went to the living room couch to bawl my eyes out. I felt so betrayed and just…like he found me so skull-numbingly boring that his only defense mechanism was to pass out. In retrospect, that should have been a massive warning sign back then, but we were young and stupid and all that happy shit.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t an isolated incident. He never fell asleep on me again, lucky for him, but every time we had to have another Serious Adult Discussion or I was feeling frisky and uncharacteristically chatty (it happens on occasion), unless the conversation was specifically related to him, was about something he took an interest in, or pertained to him in any way, shape, or form, he’d ignore me. He’d focus on what he was doing and give me an occasional “yep” or “uh huh” and nod, but other than that, I was talking to a six foot tall brick wall with curly hair and a gap between its two front teeth. Eventually, I learned to not talk to him at all. Something needed done, I’d do it or ask Dad for help. Hard to believe we got divorced, isn’t it? I mean, golly. What a gold star relationship that was! But I was with the man for a total of ten years and that’s a long time to get used to not talking to someone. You’d think that after being ignored for 10 years, I’d be itching to talk peoples’ ears off, but nope. Why? Because that would mean I’d be like my dad and what do we feel about being like our fathers? That’s right! Fuck that noise!

I also hate talking because in a fair majority of any conversation I’ve ever had, there is always going to be someone who demands to be heard above everyone else and feel that what they have to say is the most amazing, interesting thing in the history of the universe and they will only be concerned about what they are saying. When you try to speak, they talk over you or try to bring the conversation back to them and let me tell you what: aside from arrogance, that is my #1 pet peeve. I detest people who constantly interrupt and/or just impatiently wait for their turn to talk without listening to a goddamn thing you have to say. My god, even writing about it fires me up. Fucking a. And they always talk about the same shit, like a broken, self-involved record. When this happens, guess what? I refuse to talk because what’s the fucking point? My thoughts won’t be validated or acknowledged, nor will I have a chance to even speak anyway, so fuck it. This is why I kind of don’t like being in a large group of people: too many conversations to keep track of, too many opportunities to be ignored, too many people who will think that what you have to say is stupid anyway. It makes me weary down to my bones, I swear. And there is always the inevitable “gosh, you’re sure quiet. You’re so different in person than you are online!” Yeah, okay, person who always takes selfies while holding their phone directly above their head as to diminish the 4 chins you have. Please tell me more about how I portray myself as something different online as compared to in person. Fuck me.

And that’s another thing I know about myself and have also written about to death: my writing is not only how I prefer to communicate, but I also like to think of it as how I would speak in public if I didn’t have so many goddamn hangups about it. I write in a funny way; it’s more conversational than informational, if that makes sense. It’s open and candid and I like to think not at all tedious to muddle through. It reads like a carefree talk with a close friend or something. Or I’m full of shit, which is entirely possible.

There is a way to get me to talk your ear off, and that is called alcohol and I am fully aware of how messed up that is. It’s the whole letting my inhibitions go and being able to remove that pesky brain-to-mouth filter I have. It also means I get really loud and will slur my words because alcohol, and it’s still highly frowned upon in our society to be shitfaced constantly. Oh, and it’s like, a terrible coping mechanism or whatever. *eyeroll*

If I had my way, I’d write all the time. Maybe I should fake being mute in order to achieve this. Come up with some sort of tragic backstory that has rendered me speechless and I can only communicate via writing and oh, that poor, precious woman! Here, give her a pen and paper and let her write! You write, darling! Write!

While that seems perfect to me, I also realize the absurdity of that and how I need to grow a pair of ovaries and just fucking talk. It’s goddamned agonizing for me sometimes, though. Okay–most of the time. A solid eighty percent, as least. Like I said, though–there are times when I get moved by the spirit and I do feel like jabbering away, but those are rare occasions and usually when that happens, I feel like I’d be bothering people, so I keep it to myself. Chalk that up to another nasty habit picked up in marriage: feeling like what I have to say is inconsequential and no one would care anyway.

Gosh, I’m a mess. I know I’m a mess. I’m trying to be less of a mess, I promise. Because I also realize how motherfucking infuriating it is to be with someone like me who can’t speak. It makes people feel like I don’t trust them, or that they don’t matter enough to me to open up and be vulnerable with. That breaks my heart because that is as far from the truth as it can be. I also tend to have a quiet speaking voice, and if someone doesn’t hear me right away, I get embarrassed and refuse to repeat myself because I am also the literal worst. (insert Jean-Ralphio “she’s the wooooooorrrrrssssttttt!” here)

For example, I recently spent the weekend with someone whom I have nothing but love for, but do you think I was able to hold any meaningful conversations with them? Of course not! Why would I go and do a silly thing like that! That’s preposterous! I laugh in your face! I’m sure they loved that, too! Oh goody! Over two days with someone who can’t talk their way out of a wet paper bag! This’ll be a goddamn hoot!

I know I write about this so much; it’s probably my second favorite topic. Depression would be the first, followed by my zany adventures in quitting smoking (not a smoke since July 18th, thankyouverymuch). I like to think the fact that I do write about it proves that a) it fucking bothers me tremendously and 2) by writing about it, maybe I’ll eventually finally realize how asinine it is of me to be so friggin stubborn about it and learn to talk. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m an optimist.

I started seeing Therapist again after a several month hiatus, and she asked me last time we met how my “self talk” has been. Yes, she’s kind of a hippie therapist, but not in the moon crystals and menstrual cycles sort of way, but the cool, eccentric English teacher sort of way. She also says “fuck” the same amount as I do, so we get along famously. Anyway, she asked me how I have been talking to myself, and I ell oh ell’ed at her to mock her silly question. I’m an asshole to myself. She was unfazed by this dazzling admission of guilt. She also then mocked me mocking myself and that one of the funniest things anyone has ever done to me, and again, why I adore this gal.

However, while I am a massive jerk to myself, I do it in a loving way. Let me explain: when I start getting down on myself for whatever reason, I say to myself, “you dumb bitch, it’s okay. Just keep at it. You fucked up, but it’s fine. At least you know you did and can fix it.” Take today, for instance. Today, I was getting on my own ass about  school. I’m kind of struggling to pay attention and with procrastinating with assignments. Goddamn it, Erin. If you would take the time to goddamn study at night instead of playing around on your goddamn phone, maybe more of this shit would make some goddamn sense to you. Realizing I was in full asshole mode, I then rebutted with: Erin, you’ve been out of school for twelve goddamn years. It’s going to take time to get back into the swing of things. Take it easy on yourself and yes, you do need to study more, but you can do that tonight after work. You’ll get there again, just cut yourself some goddamn slack, goddamn it. 

See? I am the nicest cunt to myself! Or maybe I’m truly bipolar because I don’t know if having these types of two-sided conversations with yourself is entirely the stuff of a person without a mental illness, but that’s okay. We are all painfully aware the neurons between my ears aren’t always on their best behavior. And yes, Therapist has mentioned in nearly every single session we have had in the last year about my tendencies to be highly self-deprecating, but she also enables it because she tells me it’s hilarious when I do it because I make it funny, so it’s her fault. So there.

I hope I’ve shed some light on me. If not, well, I’m sorry. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll freaking write about it again soon, so maybe then it’ll click.

I do want whomever is still reading to know that I am trying to get better; I really am. I mentioned Therapist and I had been on a hiatus–most of that was due to our schedules never matching up, the rest is that I got all cocky and thought that I had a pretty good grip on things after seeing her for a few months and I was well-equipped to go out into the world with my newly gained knowledge and dazzle the pants off everyone with my newfound confidence and willingness to work on myself. I did well with that for like, a month, then ttthhhbbbffftttt. My depression and anxiety have been kicking into overdrive as of late and I felt myself falling face first into my old ways again, so after several weeks of thinking I could kick these feelings in the crotch like I had been able to before, I finally conceded and contacted her. Yay me.

And there it is. I think I’ve prattled on long enough, and don’t think I’m not having a small panic attack about what I’ve just written and how much I’ve written and how easy it was for me to write and how I should take this same energy and focus and passion for writing and fucking somehow channel that into working on how to speak like an adult to other other adults, because Jack, I most certainly am freaking out about it. It’s just a joy and honor to be me, lemme tell you what.

I’m done now, I swear. As always, thank you from the bottom of my weird little heart to those who have stuck through all 3,200 words. You’re the real heroes. God bless.

Thank you for reading.


July 13, 2017

I honestly have no idea when the last time I wrote was. I hate that I’ve let something that I once loved and absolutely enjoyed doing fall by the wayside. Six years ago, I could be found hunched over the keyboard of my broke-ass laptop I got after my divorce at Wal-Mart for $250, my fingers tapping away diligently on the keyboard (that I fucked up by trying to clean out all of the dog hair; I pried half of the keys off before I realized a person could just unhinge them. I couldn’t get the ones I had ripped off back on, so I got an external keyboard and felt like a goddamn hobo whenever I used it. Classy, no?), the words flowing from my fingertips.

Ah. Those were the days.

Now? It’s been months since I’ve attempted to write; even longer for anything that resembled a fictional short story. I feel that when we were dealing with my father’s grim prognosis and death, I decided that is when nothing in my warped mind could possibly hold a candle to the fucked-up reality that was before me, so I stopped writing short stories.

And here we are tonight. I was rather taken aback by the long forgotten but still familiar tug at my brain to write something. Anything. A goddamn recipe would suffice, for crissakes. A friggin’ to-do list, anything that gets me in front of the soft glow of my computer screen. I recently started taking classes at my friendly local community college and have found myself plastered in front of the screen a few* hours a night, but we all know that isn’t the same.

*Six. Six hours a day because it’s been a miserable amount of time since I’ve attended academia and this bitch is rustier than a trombone. And I’m only taking two classes. God help me if/when I get into nursing school and have to learn how to not kill people and shit.

So, what should I discuss this evening? We all know the world is fucked right now, thanks to the pathetic excuse of a human being that barely resembles the president of the United States. (Fun aside: I took espanol in high school and it always delighted me to say the Spanish name for United States: Estados Unidos. It rolls off the tongue so fluidly. I love it. Te llamo Erin, soy de los Estados Unidos. Goddamn, that’s good).

I could prattle on about depression, like the sad little broken record I am.

Okay, I will for a second because goddamn depression and anxiety. I haven’t been on medications since the first of the year because I decided that having tried 11 different ones in the span of a few years was a wee bit excessive and to have maybe one work-ish wasn’t worth the hassle or the fabulous side effects of said medications, so I have been pharmaceutical-free for the last five months. In general, I applaud this decision. Don’t get me wrong; psych meds work wonders for many people. I just happen to not be one of those people, which is neato. I don’t make enough serotonin, but once you introduce an SSRI to me, I develop symptoms of serotonin syndrome, which is a hoot and a holler.

For the most part, I manage fairly well without medications. But then, and I should really start keeping track of this, but then every other month or so, I just lose it. I fall into a depression, my anxiety skyrockets to impressive heights, and I bury myself into reclusion. I know I should reach out to people who seem to genuinely care about my wellbeing and express to them, “hey, not doing so hot at the mo’,” but in lieu of serotonin, I seem to have a surplus of stubborn, and I opt to wallow in silent misery alone until I snap out of it and go into remission for a bit, only to have the vicious cycle start over again, which truth be told, is the reason I felt compelled to write this evening: I’m also notorious for having the worst communication skills in the state of Nebraska, and my go-to line for whenever anyone asks me how I’m doing is to plaster a fake smile on my chubby cheeks and say through clenched teeth, “fine! Thanks for asking! More importantly, how are you doing?

I’m a treat, lemme tell ya.

Why am I in my regularly schedule funk? Well, that’s a good question and I’m glad I asked it for you and am going to reply to myself/you via this blog post:

As I mentioned earlier, I started taking classes. I started the day before yesterday, actually. Microbiology and an online math refresher course, to be exact. The math is going to kill me, if I may be overdramatic for a minute, please. I suck at math. My brain does not compute math. I can squeak by with the basic fundamentals of arithmetic, but once you throw in exponents and square roots or anything over a 5th grade comprehension level, my eyes glaze over in dazed confusion and I forget what 2 + 2 is (x to the 5th, apparently). I’ve been out of school for about 11 years and obviously, have gotten rusty in the ol’ maths department, so in order for me to enroll for classes, I had to take a placement test. As expected, I scored abysmally low in the math department, which baffles me because when I was a student in 2005, I got asked to be a math tutor. Either I’ve gotten way more idiotic over the last 11 years, or that math class was ridiculously easy. Anyway, low score, but the college offers this neat program where you can do online self-study in math in an effort to prepare you to take the placement test again and hopefully score higher, meaning you can potentially skip a class or two. I hope all the fundamentals come back to me in a great big sweep of recollection and I test out of two classes, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m not denigrating myself; it’s the gosh honest truth: I was created with a more…not math-y brain. Math and fire baaaaaaad!!

Apologies for the sidetrack. Back on course now-isa. Anyway, as mentioned twice, I started classes. My ultimate goal, which hopefully comes sooner than later, is to apply for the nursing program and get my RN degree. People seem to think I have the tools necessary to cut the mustard for this advancement in my career, and I hope to shit y’all are right. I’m a flurry of emotions about this because it’s me and of course I am.

  1. Many late night thoughts of “what the motherfuck am I doing? What. Am. I. Doing.”
  2. I don’t need student loans this time around, thanks to my father. Granted, I’m still in debt from previous student loans, but as least I don’t have to add to that staggering amount this time around. Also: why in the fuck didn’t we elect Bernie Sanders and everyone can have free college tuition? Why? Oh, that’s right: we all suck assholes, that’s why.
  3. Because I am doing this finally…when I probably should have done this from the get go, but I’ve always been a slow learner. Why, people tell me things and I choose to ignore them until I’m ready accept it! What fun!
  4. My goddamn dad, man. All throughout his ordeal with colon cancer, he praised me and my knowledge of the medical field and expressed his desires for me to further my education and go back to school to become a nurse. I’d explain his labs to him (your LFTs are a little high, Dad. Your white count looks great this time, Dad! Silly stuff like that), and in return, he’d gush about how I need to get back to school and well, while stubborn and slow, I do eventually listen kinda, and here I am. I also might add that my mother and my sister-in-law have been verbally harassing me for the last 9 months about it, so I hope they kindly shut their damn faces now.
  5. I’m not old by conventional standards, but in college standards, I am old as eff. I fully understand that non-traditional students make up a large majority of the school place, but I’ll be goddamned if it still isn’t intimidating as fuck to see 18 year old babies crawling the halls of the school, which is also super dumb because I work with college kids at my job, and I guess I’ll never get used to the precious angels.

I’m overwhelmed, for real. I’m sure I need time to acclimate myself back to the flow of school, because it’s only been two days, but if you haven’t noticed, I can be bit difficult on myself and expect some semblance of perfection and when I’m a far cry from that, I get a bit pissy with myself.

So, school is stressing me out. Life is stressing me out. Relationships are stressing me out. Being stressed out is stressing me out. It’s been fabulous.

A life aspect is my uncle. Dude has smoked for around 40 years and this is probably a direct correlation to this, but the veins in his legs are just shot to shit and he had to have vein bypass surgery on his leg a week ago and he had a huge, gangrenous ulcer on the bottom of his foot due to the shitty circulation in his legs, and my mom lectured both my brother and me about quitting and while I saw my uncle’s wound up close and personal, I’m still like, “puff puff, baby! I hope I lose my right leg to shitty circulation, too, because that’s my bad knee leg and two birds, one stone!” I am so stupid, it causes me physical pain. While Ma was politely yelling at me to quit this past weekend, I did have the stronger than usual urge to quit. I had a pack left and I was giving myself mini pep talks that once that pack was done, I was done. Oh, ho ho ho. Precious Erin, you are such a delightful, foolish imp of a woman. So I guess the fact that a 3 inch patch of full-thickness dead tissue on the bottom of a foot due to years of smoking isn’t enough to snap me out of my goddamn stupidity. Cool. I hope I can do some sweet beat-boxing with my voice box when I have my goddamn tracheotomy in a few years. I. Am. A. Robot. Beep. Boop. Beep. And then I’ll fuckin’ inhale a cigarette through the stoma in my neck and scare little kids. It’ll be hilarious.

All I will say about relationships of any sort is that I am glad I am in school because now I have a valid excuse to hide out and hopefully people will take the hint that I am a rotten friends and slowly realize that I am not worth the time, energy, and effort it takes to remain in my life and they bail on their own accords. I won’t be upset or anything. My theory is that all of my friends have been looking for an easy out for years anyway, so I have provided them with the perfect opportunity to do just that: get out while you can! Save yourselves! Oh god!

Fun part of depression is the self-deprecation.

I should probably give Therapist a buzz here soon because whatever wonderful voodoo magic she sprinkled on me has worn off and I feel myself slipping into the bad habits of before, and I had come such an admirable length before I stopped going to see her. Damn it.

In summation, while this isn’t a short story, it isn’t fictitious in any way, shape, or form, nor does it start with a clear beginning or finish strong at the end, I goddamn wrote something and just remember that new mothers applaud when their kids can hold their giant bobble heads up for the first time, so don’t you judge me, Martha. I, too, am I giant bobble head baby.

That’s all for tonight. May your roads be straight and your days be short, and in the words of the immortal Red Green: “keep your stick on the ice.”

As usual and always, thank you for reading (mom).


May The Force Be With You

Good evening. It’s been a while…and a massive “eff you” to the band Staind for ruining that phrase for me, much like no one can resist yelling “YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR!!!1!!1!” whenever you say “hey now!” Goddamn shitty bands, I swear. 

It’s been so long since I’ve written anything, and I feel bad about that. Writing used to be my go-to outlet for expressing myself, but I haven’t picked up my laptop in many months; since December 2016, to be exact. Damn near five months. Sad! 

I felt compelled to dust off my fingers and muddle through a post tonight, though, and once you get to reading, you’ll all collectively nod your heads in understanding. I’m very transparent that way. I can be read like a book! Or blog post, as it were. But I’m going to take my time with this one, as I like to tease before I get straight to the deed. 

In general, I have a love/hate relationship with the “On This Day” feature on Facebook. The years 2009 to mid-2012 are just atrocious to read. I was dealing with infidelity, separation, divorce, and exploits in returning to the dating game. My posts during that time are god awful and weird (even for me), as I was obviously going through a bizarre “who the fuck am I now?” phase. Divorce is great. It doesn’t mess with your head at all. My entire body physically goes into a spasm whenever I scroll down to those years. Yes, I know I can hide them, but I’m a) dumb and can’t figure out how to do it, and 2) I am a punishment glutton and make myself read them. 

Oddly enough, it’s actually a bit comforting to do so; not because I find solace in them, but rather, Seven Years Ago Erin™ is wildly different than Current Erin™, and that, my friends, is a very good thing. Trust me on this one. 2009-2012 Erin was not dealing with the aforementioned troubles in her life very well and acting out in pretty ridiculous ways. Hey! Let’s get a DUI just for funsies! Let’s be wildly irresponsible with money and take advantage of your roommates! Let’s date total fuckface dickwads! Okay! Yay! 

I often joke that I am now the world’s oldest 35-year-old woman, but I’ve done some shit in my younger years that justifies this behavior now. I’m in bed at a reasonable hour, whereas before, I’d be out drinking until all hours of the night–on a school night, to boot! I also don’t drink nearly as much as I used to. I still drink, but not daily and not to dangerous levels of drunkenness. Now, it’s more like a couple times a month, and I can wake up in the morning bright-tailed and bushy-eyed* and not wish for a swift death due to hangovers. 

*Intentional mixup of expression for comedic value. I’m appearing on Jimmy Kimmel later next week. 

As you can see, time did me some changin’, thank goodness. 

That is the hate part of “On This Day.” 

The love comes from being shown genuinely good memories. Life seemed to start coming together while I did my time in Texas, and while 2013 to present day has seen its share of “Jesus fucking Christ, Erin…” moments, they’ve mostly been pleasant and I am grateful I have progressed to this point, and in an odd burst of enthusiastic optimism, I hope that trend continues upwards. 

Lately, however, Facebook has been bringing up things I would give up everything to never have to repeat in my mind. 

Tomorrow is May 4th. To the geek community, people stir in anticipation to post at 12:01am, “May The Fourth Be With You!” My timeline will be inundated with memes from my beloved Star Wars. Normally, I’d delight in this, but the day has taken on a new meaning to me: 

It marks the first 365 days without my dad. 

I know this is cliché as all fuck, but where did the time go? Why does it sometimes feel like he died only a few weeks ago, and others, like it has been years? 

I also didn’t realize how actively I’ve been trying to block all the painful events of late April to early May 2016 out of my head. 

Every morning, I go about my daily ritual which is get up at 5am, trudge downstairs to make a pot of coffee, and browse Facebook for the six minutes it takes to brew. I catch up on missed notifications from the night before, scroll through my timeline offering likes or hearts or comments, and when I’m finished with that, I go to “On This Day.” This fucking feature has been a thorn in my side since April 17th. This is when I started reading more posts about Dad’s rapidly declining health, my shenanigans involving his also rapidly changing mental status thanks to doping the poor bastard up with gallons of liquid morphine, and the days and hours leading up to his death. 

Yesterday’s memory really got to me, as I had shared about our failed attempt to “snow” Dad. He was becoming increasingly agitated and uncharacteristically aggressive to us, so it was suggested we just sedate the fuck out of him with pain medication and benzodiazepines. Instead of drift off into a controlled substance la-la land, that fucker did the opposite. If anyone has the gall to tell me my father wasn’t a fighter and probably too passive of a man, I would love to pull a time travel trip out of my hat and make you watch how he was towards the end. As I also had shared a year ago, “I have called my dad a motherfucker about 6 times in my life, and all of those times have been today.” 

And it isn’t just Facebook that’s bringing up all these things; shocking to no one I’m sure, my own brain is also conspiring against me. Hey, you’re having a pretty decent day today, Erin. Why dontcha think about how blotchy purple Dad’s feet got the day he died? And how the tube from his catheter to the collection bag at the foot of his bed turned red with blood, then to thick pink pus? 

I really fucking hate my brain sometimes. Super helpful, brain! Thanks! 

Ever have to pretend all is fine and dandy and put on a smile and joke around with your coworkers or friends when in reality, your mind’s eye is replaying scenes from your father’s death? If not, you are an innocent and must be spared these terrible things and protected at all costs. 

I’ve been dreading tomorrow for a while now, which is silly if you think about it. I don’t know why it’s silly, but I think I’m trying to be very nonchalant about it in an attempt to try to get through it. I’ll let you all know how well that works out for me later. Spoiler alert: I don’t think that’s going to go well. 


May 4, 2017

Good morning. I had to stop writing last night because I was getting emotional, which is dumb because pretty sure the first thing I did this morning–after I made myself some coffee…I think I’m an addict…anyway, the second thing I did was get emotional. Cool. 

It’ll be fine. If I burst into tears at any given moment, so be it. If not, that’s fine, too. 

I don’t have anything wise or profound to say. Words escape me for once. 

I do know that I miss my dad daily, and would give up all the things I have now to have him back. Well, almost all…if I can keep my record player and records and speakers because my god, these speakers…I think even Dad would be all, “yeah, no, totally keep that stuff.” 

Thank you for reading, thank you for allowing me to write, and thank you for everything in between. 

May the Force be with you.