That moment …

So many of us have been there. At least, so many of us women have been there. You’re in your day, you’re minding your business, harming no one. And then it happens.

For me it happened in a meeting. I reached into the oddments pocket of my purse to pull out my lip balm. Instead, I discovered that my hand lotion had opened and spread itself liberally over and into all my bits of whatnot, all over my fingers.


There’s no graceful exit from that moment. You have to pull your hand out of the bag or people will begin to notice that you’re sitting in a meeting with your hand awkwardly stuck in your bag. And when you pull your hand back into the light, it will broadcast its lotion-befouled stickiness to everyone.

The woman across from me smiled sympathetically. She had clearly had that moment and she understood. I pulled off my rings so I could de-goop them and somehow only two other people at the table seemed aware of my messy mishap.

And that is a good result, but it’s also true that I spent the rest of the meeting thinking about the mess in my purse, wondering if lotion had gotten into my business card case, wondering how easily it would be cleaned from the lining fabric, if it was in the zipper teeth of the little interior pocket. Yuck.

But my hands? Super moisturized and soft! :/

It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! With hundreds of folks participating, there’s more than a little something for everyone … and plenty of room for you to join in!

A place for everything and everything in its place.

So, we have:

Woman without her man is nothing.

And also:

Come and eat grandma!

And slowly, even the most stubborn souls begin to see the value of punctuation.

Woman: without her, man is nothing.

Come and eat, grandma!

Oh, what a different a few dots and squiggles can make.

These are famous ones, of course. I was trying to remember a really wonderful one that wound up in print a while ago, and finally found it:

And this is all silly and a good reminder that commas are life savers (I know Ray’s family and dog are grateful for them!) … but there was a story the other day that also proved that a well-placed comma can mean the difference between winning and losing a legal battle.

I’ll admit that I’m a latecomer to the Oxford comma. I was forced to use it in grade school. But I was forced to do a lot of things with my writing in grade school, and many of them I heartily disagreed with and despised. Once I had a little more freedom to write how I wanted, I began to jettison those things I didn’t care for, and the Oxford comma fell by the wayside with the other castoffs. People have argued with me about it quite a bit over the years — which maybe says something about the folks I hang with¹ — but I have remained stubbornly against. I taught English for many years, and I taught the Oxford comma … but also made it clear that a) I didn’t use it myself and b) no one’s grade would be damaged by the decision not to use it.

But then I got my current job. I got this job, and one of the first things I had to do was edit the big, serious report we were producing. And before the editing began, I was asked to put together a style guide so that all of the people who were adding writing could try to have the same set of rules in mind as they worked and so that changes I made to text would all follow clear guidelines.

Making that style guide was, I have to admit, fun for me (which most definitely says something about the kind of person I am!). I saw the guide as my chance to lay down the law, list out my writing pet peeves, make our sleek and shiny report conform to my writing style. (Oh yes, a little power is truly a dangerous thing!)

Pretty quickly in my style-guiding I ran smack into the Oxford comma. And somehow, for reasons I couldn’t explain and can’t explain now, that comma suddenly made sense. Made perfect, why-didn’t-I-ever-see-this-before sense. And I’ve been using it ever since. (Somewhere, my 6th grade teacher is pointing, laughing, and saying, “I told you so!”)

It’s the 10th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head over to Two Writing Teachers to see all of today’s slices


¹ This wacky-grammarians-on-my-friend-list business did not extend to the guy who came to a party I threw years ago … who smugly diagrammed the sentences of the people who spoke to him. You may think this is a clever party trick. Trust me when I tell you that it really isn’t.


Feeling a little distant from myself tonight.  Nothing’s happened, at least nothing too terribly serious.  I let myself miss out on something I’d really been looking forward to, and I can’t quite forgive myself just yet.  Instead, I see all the ways my unending exhaustion of the last six weeks led right here.  Frustrated. Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a “pop culture” poem.  I don’t have one of those in me right now, but I did include”selfies” in a poem last week.  That should count for something!

Tonight’s Arun is a little awkward and uncomfortable … kind of like how I’m feeling.  I wanted to mess with the form a little while still keeping to the rules.  I’m not sure it works, exactly, but I’m keeping it.


Spent. Tired.
Though, more than that.
And not really that.

change                              of place,
mindset, order.

I want change — of heart,
of taste.
To be full,
to feed myself,
to let in more joy.


Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer. Thank you!


An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

Ah, don’t we all feel so very much better now that Anthony Weiner has finally admitted to being not only the subject of the crude twitpic, but also the sender?  I know I’ll be sleeping better tonight.  This whole story is so predictable, stupid, annoying, tired.  Why can’t these men figure it out?  No, I will refrain from adding to the 4,273,899 Weiner jokes that have made the rounds lately.  I do hope, however, that Weiner has learned to keep his mouse in its house and spare the rest of us.

But there are two things this story is making me think.  Plenty of people are calling for Weiner to resign.  Plenty of others are saying resignation would be the second mistake of this whole pathetic episode (really the third: sending the picture and lying about sending the picture would seem to hold the first two slots).  I’m on both sides.  Do I think a man shouldn’t hold public office if he can’t keep his pants on?  Not really.  But do I think someone who is foolish enough to send crotch shots of himself over Twitter should hold public office?  I’m thinking maybe not.  He couldn’t figure out what a stupid move that was?

This next bit isn’t just for Anthony Weiner.  It’s more of a public service announcement for men in general.¹  Women really and truly don’t want to see your penises.  We don’t want them flashed at us on the subway or in the park.  We don’t want to open an email and find photos of them.  Know this, men: your penis isn’t pretty.   If we are wildly attracted to you, madly in love with you … then your penis would have some appeal (and even then that’s really only true some of the time, often it will just make us chuckle because it’s such a strange little appendage).  But even if we’re in love with you, we still don’t want to see your little congressman without prior invitation.  Trust me.

Men don’t seem to know this.  It’s something I realized during the craziness of e-dating.  I wish I had five dollars and a memory eraser for every time some man sent me a photo of his penis after one email exchange, after one phone call. What is that supposed to do for me?  Is there really a woman somewhere who gets excited by the sight of a penis?  Sure, we might look at the guys in Playgirl, but we are looking at the whole guy, not just one little bit of him (though I have to say: for me, a naked guy reclining under a willow tree or hanging out of a police cruiser looks more comical than come-hither).

I know that men can’t help the fact that they think like men.  They know how thrilled they would be if the women they liked — or perhaps just any woman — sent them unsolicited topless photos.  But you know what?  Women aren’t men.  And breasts are a lot prettier than penises anyway.  Penises are a private matter.  No one is ever going to love them as much as you do, so you need to keep them to yourselves.  When we want to see them, we’ll let you know.


¹ And yes, I know all men aren’t the same.  I know and appreciate that fact.  Still, sometimes a little generalizing more appropriately fits the bill.

Update, thanks to Molly: If you haven’t yet seen Kristen Schaal’s hilarious piece that makes the same point, go check it out!

SOL: Hair today, gone tomorrow.

On my way home I stopped at a pet store.  Not my usual place, but one I’d been meaning to go out of my way to visit because I knew they stocked this supposedly amazing pet-grooming tool.  As I pulled out my credit card, I thought, “It had better be amazing because for $40 I’m going to be pissed if it doesn’t make any difference!”

I have two cats.  One, Tristan, is a regular cat.  He and I live together in much the same way I’ve lived with every other cat I’ve ever had.  I comb him, I brush his fur off my black wardrobe, I throw my clothes and sheets in the laundry and they come back hair free.  Totally normal existence.

And then there’s Beau:

Before bringing this pretty boy into my home, I had no idea that life with a long-haired cat was any different from life with a regular cat.  In the four years we’ve lived together, Beau has transformed my home into a giant fur ball.  No matter what I do, I can’t keep up with his hair.  No matter how much I comb him, there’s still so much shedding.  No matter how many times I wash things, I’m still finding his long silky locks on them.  I’ve spent a fortune on tape rollers, spent hours checking my hair for his hair.  Nothing has been strong enough to beat back the wafting clouds of fur that have become standard in my rooms.

On top of the fur-cloud trauma is the fact that Beau hates to be combed.  Grooming your cat is supposed to be a nice, loving, bonding time, like a fancy kind of petting.  Tristan loves being combed.  Beau, not so much.  I have to clip his nails before I get out the comb so that my scratches won’t be so bad.  Combing is an ears-flat-back, growling-deep-in-his-throat time for Beau.  Instead of a sweet bonding moment I get the promise that he’d take my face off if I’d just let him get at me.

But then I heard about this comb.  It was supposed to be a miracle product, able to make grooming a boy like Beau not only easier but a quintillion times more effective.  I wasn’t sure I believed it, but I’d tried everything else, why not this?

Let me just say: that picture above? Taken after I combed him tonight.  Notice how not crazed and enraged he looks.  Notice how he’s sitting somewhere near me and not hiding behind the bed or in the window to escape my ministrations.  And notice this:

That hair in the front?  I separated it to show how much fur I might have gotten using the old comb in the same amount of time (we would have lasted about 15 or 20 minutes and lasting that long would have included at least one scratch and several carefully-evaded bites).  The picture barely does it justice.  I think I have enough fur to create a whole other cat … to start spinning cat-fur yarn … to stuff a pillow … to circumnavigate the globe if I lay out each strand end to end.

Just as importantly, I have not one scratch.  I could have kept combing and gotten more hair, but Beau was reaching the end of his patience, and I was starting to sneeze (yes, because on top of everything else, I’m allergic to my cats!), so it was time to stop.  Can’t wait to comb him a little more tomorrow.  My relationship with my plush boy is moving into new territory!

Check out the rest of today’s slices over at Two Writing Teachers (Stacey’s back!)