Breaking Metaphor

In a previous post, I disclosed my insanity. It is a special kind of insanity born both of the raging chemical rave happening in my brain and the not-to-be-outdone chemical rave produced in tandem by my endocrine system and lady bits. I imagine my body like a dysfunctional city, complete with party houses (see above), DEA agents (my immune system, clearly), and chemistry teachers who cook meth with their former students (that’s those as yet undiscovered cancer cells.  You know you have them, too).  That’s my body. It also happens to be the social structure of  Breaking Bad.  But really, why do they need to be different?


Like a city that thrives on a not-so-socially-acceptable-but-highly-profitable drug trade, your body learns  largely to ignore the things that are wrong with it until it both literally and figuratively starts splitting at the seams.* So, what happens when you find out your neighbor is a meth dealer?  You move to a new neighborhood and the city lines are redrawn to include the ‘burbs.  In the case of my body, that means you gain weight as your body expands its territories.  35 lbs in 6 months to be precise. 5 of those in the last week.  Is that normal you ask?  5lbs doesn’t seem like that much, you say.  That means in 6 months I’ve gone from this

quiet, serene happy-looking community with an invisible seedy underbelly

to this

Now terrifying community in which the seedy underbelly erupted in flames and consumed what was once respectable living. Only fire could save it.

Beautiful suburbs abandoned as they turned to slums and eventually burn down. And the city limits pushed as the “nice” people move to the outskirts of town to start a new Stepford. Only in my body.  See?  No one want to spontaneously combust or  expand.

Eventually you hit the point of no return.  For me, that was when I gained 6 pounds in a month I was actively dieting and exercising. So, I did what any sane woman would do, I discontinued my birth control.

Good, you think.  Cut the supply off at the source. No more artificial hormone means no more artificial weight, right?  Well, in theory, yes.  But my body, like the drug economy (you didn’t think I was going to abandon the metaphor, did you?), was only using the meds as a cover.  Killing the drug lord just uncovers the real problem: a society of addicts desperate for more product. This was good news for our unlikely protagonists in Breaking Bad, as it opened up the market for them to produce and distribute their super meth.  Somewhere in my body is a microscopic Walt and his cellular slave Jesse cooking up more hormone for the greedy little fat- producing factory that can’t create more cellulite for their customers without them. Needless to say, this was not the result I was looking for.

When that didn’t work, I discontinued my anxiety meds. And then, my brain and this metaphor stopped working.  Because I gained 5 pounds in one week and I called the doctor crying because I was pretty sure none of my pants would fit and the skirt selection was getting sketchy and eventually there is no where left for the city to expand and the whole thing just needs to burn. Cleansing through fire: an age-old approach to what ails you.

No, I did not self-immolate. But I did learn that doctors, like the DEA, are slow.  Spell it out for them, and they tell you that you will need to wait 2 months for an appointment.  And in the meantime, I just know that my microcosmic Walt and Jesse are cooking more of their magic potion looking for new ways to continue their crimes undetected, cleaning their money as they go.  Because some men just like to watch the world burn.

And that, my friends, is how you break a metaphor. Good night and good luck.


*I sat down and tore a dress. It was my sexy secretary dress, the dress I wear when  I want to feel like Joan from Mad Men. Now I just feel like Ricki Lake from Hairspray. Although I have much better hair.


There are sentences. Sentences that start like this.

As someone who works in publishing, I periodically trip over clunky writing.  It interrupts my thoughts, upsets my zen, and just generally makes me feel like I have once again failed at embracing the Matthew McConaughey way.  Just how does one cope with bad writing?  One mocks it, of course.

Penelope Prudence: Writing habits I hate: “She gets a call. It’s from…”

Lovely Editor: you mean breaking it up like that?

Penelope Prudence: Yes. How about “She gets a call from…” Especially if it is a summary, I don’t need 16 extra sentences.

Lovely Editor: I know. It’s supposed to sound intriguing but it’s just stupid

Penelope Prudence: It really is.

Lovely Editor: someone’s at the door. It’s Charles. Charles from down the street. Charles, who went to Vietnam and was never the same. Charles, who once was your blood-brother, back when you were twelve.

Penelope Prudence: Charles who knew secrets. Secrets you couldn’t share. Secrets that belonged in attics and basements.  Secrets that did not belong in minds.

Lovely Editor: Secrets that only a mother should know. Only a mother who hates her children. Only a mother whose child, Charles, is her worst nightmare.

Penelope Prudence: But she didn’t know.  She didn’t know because it would kill her. She didn’t know because she would kill him. Kill him in the same way that she killed their daddy.

Lovely Editor: Their daddy, who lies in the dark. Who lies in the dark backyard. Who was still breathing when the last shovelful of dirt was shoveled onto him. Shoveled onto him by Charles, who did not know his father was gagged and still breathing. Charles, whose mother never told him that he, along with her, killed his own Daddy.

Charles didn’t look well. He didn’t look well, as in he’s been an another bender.

Penelope Prudence: And benders were Charles’ specialty.

Lovely Editor: Specialty meaning an every night affair. Every night, that is, until tonight. What is Charles doing at my door?


You are welcome.

A Positive Note on Dating (To Ryan)

I am fairly sure that a total of 4 people read this blog.  And 3 of them have administrative rights to its content.

So, funny story. I’ve been dating someone for 6 months.  6 months today, as a matter of fact.  Well, 6 months today according to some standards. See, there’s a story that goes with that. You may remember I went on a truly horrific date in December. It included stories of strippers, pipe-fitting, and scandalous photos. It was awful.

And yet, I proceeded forward.  I had a date but a week later.  A date with Ryan. I would give Ryan a pseudonym, but he has already posted on this blog, and I like the name Ryan. Otherwise I might end up calling him Scott or John or Ray or something else totally unfitting. So, Ryan and I go out.  And we close down a bookstore, and close down a restaurant talking and laughing and being idiots.

Then we go on a second date and similarly laugh and talk and close down another restaurant.

So I text him the next morning and tell him I don’t want to see him any more. That makes sense, right? Actually what I said was “I’m not sure I am feeling the elusive chemistry.”  Always count on an English major to let you down using obscure words.* It was December, 21st, my Mom’s birthday.  And, in short, I was tired.  Tired of dating, tired of the holidays, tired of trying to get up my hopes about men when I was clearly going to die alone with my cat.  Why get invested? It was easier to be alone.  I would continue forth—stoic, undatable.

He asked for a do-over.

I looked at my phone perplexed.  A do-over?

I was utterly confused.  I confessed to my friends that I wasn’t worth the chase.  They argued with me.  I did not believe them.  I noted that I wasn’t that cute.  My mother scoffed at me.  I declared that she was required by law to pretend that I was lovely at all times. I screamed that I was boring and he was just going to dump me anyway when he found out that I was a tightly-wound control troll with thunder thighs and kinky hair made of the souls of children.**

At this point, I was declaring reasons Ryan could not possibly want a do-over to my mother, my roommate, my mother’s lovely friend, a dozen restaurant patrons, and a bottle of wine. Really, anyone who would listen was polled.  And not one of them would listen to my logic. Not one of them saw the brilliance to my desire to dodge rejection.

So, we went out again and again.  And now we’ve been dating for six months and I am stupid happy and giddy about life and talking about rainbows and unicorns and sunshine and helped him buy a new couch because I both fell off and bled*** on the other one…not at the same time.  I hate those gushy people who post how much they love their significant others on Facebook.  It feels artificial and really like it as advertisement to everyone else about their blissful happiness when in fact she is sobbing in the corner nursing a bottle of gin. So I wrote a blog instead.

To Ryan:

I am an idiot.  An idiot for trying to dump you after the second date. And an idiot who loves you for proving it and even inspiring me to admit it semipublically. To six more months and many more.  *smooches*


*I once told an employer that another employee was often a bit abrasive.  His response? “That’s the nicest way anyone has ever called Kristen a bitch.”

**I went to see the movie Tangled in the movie theater.  My extremely curly hair was blown straight for this viewing, which is a good thing because the little girl behind me started weeping that such hair was scary when the curly-mopped villain threatened Rapunzel. It was going to “eat her.”

***There’s a really good story there. Oh, you thought I was going to share?  Yeah, not so much.

A Personal Note about Being Crazy

So, I am crazy.

I am not saying this to be hyperbolic; I am saying this because in the most basic medical sense it is true. The psychiatrist calls my particular kind of crazy anxiety disorder, which is a fairly manageable with medication, therapy, or both—and a tub of ice cream.   Anxiety disorder has to do with my brain.  My brain doesn’t make enough of a certain chemical or it makes too much of it (I’ve really given up on trying to make sense of just what my brain is doing), and as a result, I spend my life heavily scheduling things and being “tightly wound” so that there are no unanticipated deviations. I am Vulcan. Logical. Reasoned.  Unable to adapt to the unordered and unplanned, telling them to “Live long and prosper,” while inside I’m screaming “die in a fucking fire you megalomaniacs!” At least, that’s what I imagine what Spock does.  I think that’s the only way he could possibly put up with Kirk*.

But the problem is not with my anxiety.  I take pills for that. And I count to 100 slowly.  And I breathe. The problem is with my hormones.

The medical world, for all of its advances, knows shit about hormones.

I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. This means that my little eggs are angry about leaving the safe world of the ovary and try desperately to cling to the outside like dust bunnies  battening** down the hatches at the sight of the vacuum cleaner. Because my case is not too severe (and because I’ve been on birth control since I was 17), the doctors are largely able to manage my condition with hormonal contraceptives.  The pills make sure that the eggs make the long journey down the fallopian tube and keeps my girl bits healthy.  At least, that is what they are supposed to do.  My body doesn’t like artificial hormone.   After a length of time on the birth control pill, I start developing morning sickness every time I start a new pill cycle, then come the  migraines.  And then, just when things start to get predictable, I start having bleed through and headaches that last days. Then I start a new medication that confuses my body long enough for me to feel fantastic and to say things like “I’ve never felt so alive in my life” *twitch* or “I’ve harnessed the energy of 7 toddlers and paired it with my mind of steel.”

In short, I feel like this:

Courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half.

And I am HIGH on the feeling.  Until I return to the state of hormone rejection.  Like all rejection, hormone rejection sucks.  Your reproductive system is sobbing in a corner because Hormone*** has decided he likes Brain better.  She’s smarter, you know.  But Hormone is  emotionally confusing, and  makes Brain question her logic: Does he love me? Is he really just the asshole my kidney keeps telling me he is?  Is he worth the constant unrest and emotional pain? Until finally, like a parent, I have to step in, kick Hormone to the curb, and try again.

But today, on what have previously been happy hormone drugs, I do not feel happy.  I feel cranky/sad/happy/mournful/gleeful/sick/disgusted/elated/grumpy all at once.  Ok, more like a new one every 4-7 seconds.

The last time this happened, I was in the car with my roommate.  We were driving to the mall.  I love the mall because I am a shallow, fickle human being who would consider prostituting herself for a friends/family discount at Anthropologie. That is the level of my illness. Regardless, as we drove, she was talking about something on the radio when all of the sudden I started crying uncontrollably.

Roommate: What the hell just happened?
Me: *sobs* It’s not you.  I’m just *sobs* really *sobs* sad *blubbers*

Roommate:  Um…
Me: It’s the hormones *smiles* I feel fine now.

True story.

And that, my friends, is crazy. Because inside my body it’s a reenactment of 90210 but with more modern fashion.  And even though my Vulcan self knows that I am being unreasonable, my human self is weak to the hormones.  Mr. Spock should be glad he wasn’t a woman.

*It’s not really that I have issue with Captain Kirk.  It’s that I have issue with William Shatner. Perhaps, as a friend of mine claims, it is that Shatner is “too big” an actor for TV, that he belongs on the stage.  Perhaps it’s just that William Shatner is a one-dimensional actor. Just putting that out there.

**Ok.  The only time I have ever heard anyone use the word “batten,” it was in the phrase “batten down the hatches.”  Little did I know that is actually not the most common usage, which instead refers to fattening up.  Seriously.  The dictionary does not lie. Wikipedia might.

*** Hormone wears a wife beater and has Justin Bieber hair.  He is the James Dean of the emoverse.


Why I shouldn’t be allowed to speak at conferences….

Maybe it was just that I spent too much time online dating over the last year, but it seems I am constantly drawing analogies between the dating world and the publishing world. This last weekend, I attended a conference in Sierra Vista, AZ.  That’s right, a city that exists south of Tucson.  Things to know about Sierra Vista?  There is a working oil well in the middle of town. Texas Roadhouse is very popular and will have a 20 minute wait on a Friday night even if you are a party of one. Also, the people of Sierra Vista are very concerned about a party of one and will make every effort to provide you with discount food and snacks while you sit alone at your table.  Sierra Vista is not a place for those who prefer to dine alone and uninterrupted. People in Sierra Vista are unlikely to subscribe to the Matthew McConaughey way.

But I digress.

The reason for this post is to share my analogy.  For your consideration, I submit

“Publishing is like online dating—it’s awful. You put yourself out there and you get rejected.  You go home, you eat a bowl of ice cream, and you cry.  And you pull yourself together and you try again. But just because your date didn’t work out, doesn’t make you a bad person.  And just because your book wasn’t accepted, doesn’t make it a bad book.  Book publishing, like dating, is about chemistry.  You are looking for your soul mate…of publishing.”

That’s right. The soul mate of publishing.

Thank you, and goodnight.

Matthew McConaughey is My Power Animal

I have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to my emotional outbursts over injustice, contempt, and anger. I get this from my mother. We are both Sagittarius if you put any stock in that Zodiac business. We do — but only when it suits us.

Frequently my mom will call me, like today, simmering and just about ready to boil over about some perceived atrocity that has befallen her. I often call her in a similar state.

I’ve decided lately that this is no way to live and so I tried to talk her down. She kept saying her favorite saying, “I’m just going to be like water.” This of course is a total bastardization of the old proverb (or maybe Bruce Lee said it according to this website) that water doesn’t fight obstacles, it instead goes around them, over them, just wearing those obstacles to nothing and doesn’t let obstacles get it its way. This is great if you are a normal person or maybe Bruce Lee.

However, when we are “like water” my mom and I are really angry, indignant water. It’s not a calming motto or a way of being for my mom and I. Instead, it’s a passive way of dealing with something. Which really isn’t dealing with it at all.

So today I told her, “Don’t be like water. Don’t get all stone-faced and not say anything. This is not the way to be. You need to be like Matthew McConaughey.” And in that moment, I knew I was right.

What would Matthew McConaughey do? Maybe not the real MM, but the MM that lives in our perception. MM would just takes the news, shrug his shoulders, look out at the waves — gives his toes a little wiggle in the sand maybe, and then just say, “Cool. I’ll be over there,” and he’d point to a spot on the beach. “You let me know when you work that out.” And then he’d saunter off (I imagine MM saunters without attitude) to check out a Frisbee game.

This isn’t to say MM doesn’t know when to take a stand. He’s been embroiled in a few legal battles over paparazzi, he has been arrested for “resisting transportation” during the infamous nude-bongo-weed incident, and he’s involved in a lot of charity work, according to his official website.

In fact, he originally went to school to be a lawyer. So it isn’t that he isn’t into justice, a moron, or just wandering around in some catatonic state (well, maybe he is sometimes as he is known to enjoy a little weed here and there), but rather I imagine MM knows when to get cranked up and when to just shrug his shoulders, smile, and see how the waves are doing while everyone else sorts out their shit.

And that is why being like water is bullshit.

Be like McConaughey. Just. Keep. Living.

Happy Valentine’s Day

I haven’t done this Valentine’s Day thing in an extremely long time.  I think I remember something about hearts and flowers.  Neither exist in Detroit.

I thought about sending you flowers to your office, but paying a stranger to deliver a personal message seems very impersonal to me (a text message with a link to a website is somehow better? :P).  Instead, please enjoy this lovely chunk of web real estate and cheesy template.  It is yours to do with as you please.  Keep it hosted on the current system, or I can ship it off to your current blogspot page.

I’m not the best at expressing the mushy stuff, but the time I’ve spent with you over the last few months has rekindled some emotions that I had forgotten even existed.  Everyone at work gives me crap for being so happy lately.  I blame you.

I'm sure this image isn't copyrighted...

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Be mine?


Just what does it mean to be Republican

I work in an office with some crazy people. I say that in the most loving and understanding way possible. To put it simply, we are a weird and diverse bunch ranging the political spectrum and equally varied in our life outlooks. This leads to a number of interesting and enlightening conversations.

Coworker: Must be a day for weird stuff. I just had two guys here, while one was ringing my door bell the other was looking at my car. Some hail damage folks trying to drum up business. They couldn’t understand that I told them 1. get away from my car 2. they have no authority to be on my property thus trespassing, and 3. they are illegally parked across my driveway. When thy didn’t leave I said they had 30 seconds before i called the police. They asked me why I was yelling at them.
Me: That IS odd.
Coworker: I’m sure if my gate wasn’t locked they would have just opened it.
Coworker: I should have made note of the company and called the police anyway.
Me: Well, at least they left
Coworker: Yes, that was my goal.
Coworker: I can never understand why people think it is okay to help themselves


This was strange enough that I felt the need to share. After all, work place survival is about sharing and commiserating. Today it was also about learning what it is to be a Republican. I sent the conversation to a friend and received the following response:


Friend: she’s a liberal too


me: No. She’s a crazy right-winger.

WAY right wing

Friend: god dammit

she’s fired

you should tell her


me: hahahahahahahaha



Live and learn. Live and learn.

Stranger than Fiction….

A friend went out to dinner and witnessed the following. I feel this speaks for itself…

Friend: speaking of imminent death of children…

i went to dinner with Mike last night
and there were 3 early 20s girls at the table next to us
with a cake, kid’s bday plates, candles, etc
an obvious birthday celebration
the kicker
it was for one of their dead infants
i didn’t realize what was going on right away
Mike kind of butted in and said “oh cool a birthday! who’s birthday is it?”
and the mom said “my daughter’s”
which is when i noticed that she had a tshirt
with a picture of her daughter
and 12/27/07-9/something/08 printed on it


very quietly
but a guy at another table joined in
it was an extremely uncomfortable situation

Disasters in Dating…the Sequel

I’ve been on several dates since my last dating post. None of them was particularly special. There was the guy who looked like a turtle but who was really nice. There was also the guy who cringed every time I swore. I don’t have the cleanest mouth, but I do generally possess tact.


At a certain point, I just gave up. When the date started to go poorly, I began dropping the f-bomb to see him cringe. I wonder why he didn’t call…

But last night’s date was with a new man. A persistent man. A man about whom I was reticent because he had kids. It’s not that I don’t like kids. In fact, I love children. I paid for a trip to Europe on babysitting money. I have been vomited and shat upon in the name of new bookshelves. I have squealed when I saw baby socks. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to be someone’s parent. That requires a certain “togetherness” and financial security I’m not sure I have. Sometimes I eat chips for dinner. Or spaghetti sauce. Out of the jar.

And then there’s my liberal guilt. I can barely feed myself, how will I feed a kid? What about the planet’s resources? Is it fair to bring another child into the world? What of impending nuclear war? THE APOCALYPSE!! You see, I have stress and worries. You don’t really want me passing that on to a kid, do you?

But I digress.

I was worried. Moreover, he had horrible pictures on his dating profile. I’ve met with this problem before. Men choose pictures of themselves wearing horrible hats or making faces that even a mother can’t love. They find it amusing. I have one lovely friend who even posted pictures of himself on his dating profile with Sharpie-illustrated tattoos. For shame, sir. Don’t worry, he doesn’t even know this blog exists.

Date guy, we’ll call him Steve, was no exception. Steve had horrible pictures. But he was a moderately successful children’s book author (I cyberstalked him. I feel in the modern age you would be remiss to go on a date with someone without at least googling them). His blog was funny. His rants on Superman and the importance of good grammar in schools seemed promising. And his e-mail messages, though not terribly lengthy, were entertaining and seemed well-intentioned.

So, we arranged to meet. I was nervous that he had kids, but I’ve been trying this new thing where I attempt not to judge before I meet up with someone because I could be cutting off my options and no one really wants to die alone and probably naked because your cats were very sad when you didn’t get up to feed them and then in their depressed hunger consumed the clothes from your body purring in cold comfort. You see? This is why I’m single.

I arrived at the agreed upon location five minutes early. I looked around. No sign of Steve. Some 22-year-old who paid for his tab with travelers checks and suspiciously guarded his weathered blackberry checked me out. I text Steve. Steve notes that he is 20 minutes away because he took the light-rail and showering was time-consuming. He actually tells me that showering was time-consuming.

Rule 1: Do not be late to a date in general, but especially don’t be late to a first date. If you must be late, do not be more than 10 minutes late and prepare to grovel.

Steve shows up, and he looks like hell. He’s wearing a shirt that is decidedly middle-aged, ugly sneakers, and ripped jeans. He is 36. He does, however, appear to be clean, so I decide to be open-minded.

And then Steve speaks.

The first thing he tells me is how he is broke.

Rule 2: Don’t tell your date about your money woes. But especially don’t tell your date about your money woes in the first 10 minutes of the date.

He has started looking for holiday work, and as such he spent most of the day at a training session for the pipe fitters union. No shit. I nearly choked on my Shirley Temple. He’s telling me that they were putting him on the fast track for management because he has an MBA, but that he could earn $140K as a pipe fitter. Does he know anything about pipe fitting? Not really, but that’s ok because that’s what training is for.

Not to worry, though, because if this doesn’t work out, his mom will be able to find him more part-time work…as a stage hand for the shows that she helps run for a local theater.

Rule 3: Don’t tell your date that when all else fails, your mom bails you out–even if it is true. Just leave that out.

We are now 25 minutes into the date. I know this because I have checked my phone’s clock approximately 6,000 times. I have also received a text message from a gamer friend who knows I’m on a date (see, I have gamer friends. More reasons I’m single) and who is making Indiana Jones references (Bad dates…ha). I’m keeping a straight face. Barely. I’m not responding to the text message because I think it’s bad manners to text while on a date. Though I nearly break this rule when he answers a text message from his ex-wife.

Rule 4: Don’t answer text messages on dates. More importantly, don’t tell your date that it is your ex-wife texting you about a picture she found on your dating profile of you two having sex.

That’s right. He had a picture of her legs over his shoulders on one of his dating profiles. She found it and was shocked. He responded to her, while snickering. I check the time on my phone again. It has now been 45 minutes. I check my e-mail. He’s still texting. I consider for a minute of whom his mannerisms remind me. I can’t quite place it. I move on. I suddenly realize that he reminds me of an unfortunately unattractive friend with a tiny mouth. I of course can’t shake the image of tiny-mouth talking. His lips sticking together as he attempts to enunciate. Steve does not have a tiny mouth, but that is now of no importance.

He stops texting. The conversation progresses to more normal things. We talk about his kids. We talk about the publishing industry, we talk about our friends. He has not asked me a single question.

Rule 5: At least pretend to be interested. Ask your date questions. Make her feel like part of the conversation.

I’m asking all the questions. I’m driving the conversation. So I stop talking. I wait. And I wait another minute. Then it happens. He tells me a story about his friend, the 35-year-old virgin. I am pretty sure that I am now part of a Judd Apatow movie. So his 35-year-old friend is now dating a stripper….a virgin stripper. They met at the strip club. He was a regular customer. She is saving sex until marriage. He is smitten. Then one night she decides they should have sex, and invite another stripper to join them. So, he went from virgin to threesome.

And Steve is jealous. He tells me he is jealous. He waggles his eyebrows.

Rule 6: I’m sure there’s a rule in that story somewhere, but honestly, I was so dumbfounded at this date that I was just plotting escape routes.

I tell him I need to leave. I tell him it’s a long drive home. It is another 45 minutes before we manage to get the bill paid. He makes a joke that the stripper story might not have been the best material for a first date. He intimates at a second date. I consider spontaneously vomiting to get out of the restaurant.

I drive Steve to the light-rail stop. I tell him to have a good night. He asks if I want to see him again. I say “I haven’t decided yet.” I chickened out, but what was I supposed to say? He was in my car. I needed him to leave. I needed to drive home. I needed wine.

And so it ended. I have not heard from Steve. Though it’s only been 12 hours. I feel bad that he is lonely. But I don’t need a man. At least not that badly.