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Before yesterdayfun

09/25/18 PHD comic: 'Soonish SMBC PHD Crossover Comic!'

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Soonish SMBC PHD Crossover Comic!" - originally published 9/25/2018

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

  • September 26th 2019 at 07:17

Book tour wrap-up

Thank you to everyone who came to events on my book tour! If you weren't able to make it to any of my tour events, How To is now available everywhere, including at Barnes and Noble, Target, Amazon, local independents, and more. Some Barnes and Noble locations and indies have special signed copies, so you can check with your bookseller to see if those are available.
  • September 25th 2019 at 00:00
  • September 25th 2019 at 00:00

so pine fresh

By mimi smartypants


The double-edged sword: but aren’t all swords double-edged? It is possible I don’t know a lot about swords. It seems reasonable that you would want a sword to cut both ways, swish swish slice slice slice, otherwise there is a lot of wasted motion because I have to “reset” in order to continue chopping at you. No? 

Anyway, the double-edged sword of over-the-counter cold medicine. It certainly has drained the fluid from my nose, but it also seems to have drained the fluid from my whole head, and I needed some of that to lubricate thoughts, have saliva, and keep my joints moving without creaky noises. Instead I am a dusty paper-mache heap, a sentient piñata, and every time I turn my head there’s a nearly audible click as my eyeballs roll and slide to catch up. Breathe from both nostrils? Or lose your humanity? The Tylenol Severe Cold + Sinus devil’s bargain.  


I am subscribed to so many of your newsletters. The free versions, that is. I suppose I understand where you are coming from, you produce amazing content that I love and if anyone out there wants to pay for it, they should certainly be welcome to do so. Pro: It is nice to get mail, and to have a nice blog post to read right there in the old in-box. Con: There are an awful lot of these nice blog posts, and while lots of them might be worth $50/year for special subscriber-only content, one can not reasonably subscribe to a whole bunch of $50/year newsletters. Why do you want to make me choose? Hey I have an idea: you put this amazing content in an INTERNET LOCATION, where I can go read it. I just invented blogs! What a great idea, damn.

Deja vu, incoming: there will be a ton of anger about my very mild criticism of newsletters, just as there was when, long ago in the “blogosphere,” I dared to opine that sponsored posts dilute a writer’s voice and make me uninterested in and suspicious of the other things they have to say, and that sidebar ads on a personal blog are ugly and lame and do you really want to talk about your personal precious life right next to a Duncan Hines cake mix video. I still have emails saved in a folder called SELLOUTS GET SENSITIVE: people who got really mad at that and wrote me full of righteous indignation and I HAVE A RIGHT TO MAKE A LIVING. Of course you do! Never said otherwise!

As for the newsletter thing, I don’t necessarily hate it. It is just strange, that’s all—when I have always conceived of my online diary as a sort of letter to whoever reads it—that the “new” model of writing online is literally writing a letter to subscribers. With (presumably?) slightly better letters going to those who choose to pay. 

Whatever. It has officially, as I pompously announced on Twitter, been 20 years since I started putting my diary (this one right here!) online, and it is not moving to newsletter format. There won’t be ads, there won’t be sponsored posts, you don’t have to pay to read it. That is not because I am so fucking punk rock by any means (remember, I was an early sellout to the blog-into-(terrible)-book gold rush!) It is just because I don’t know any other way, and I like to type about what I am doing, and I don’t need your money because I do other stuff for money. Keep your money! Use it to pay your bills and buy candy and drugs. 


Seeing this year’s English homework is giving me bad flashbacks to a kind of writing that I never have to do again—that sort of “essay question” response writing that calls out its tricks in order to be successfully graded. Parallel sentence structure? Check. Introductions, conclusions, transitions? Check. Narrative strategies? Check. These things (which are woefully lacking here!) are definitely part of “good writing,” but it sort of grinds my gears to see it all deconstructed and naked like that. Some people like deep dives—they like to note-by-note analyze a Bach Mass or a Prince guitar solo and see “why” it is so perfect and great—but it’s a bit of a bait-and-switch, no? Like if you know how it works you will automatically be able to do it. Maybe (hopefully) you can learn enough to get a good AP exam score, or to faithfully play the notes of the Prince guitar solo, but by no means have you mastered the craft. Oh listen to me, “the craft.” I’m such an asshole. A Tylenol Severe Cold + Sinus asshole. 


Here is an article that I think did a decent job of detailing the tension between the obvious need for psychiatric drugs and the blunt-force-instrument nature of their effects. Everyone is trying to figure themselves out and figure out how to live. Medication can be necessary to let people get on with the business of that (instead of, you know, spending all day hyperventilating in bed), but it does nothing to show you HOW to do it. 

Speaking of figuring out how to live, how about we watch the video for “Just” again? This video may be where I really fell in love with Thom Yorke (long-time David Byrne fangirl; you know I love me a twitchy dancing man). 

Also, recently unearthed: my little first-grade dude climbing the bus stop sign. He still has forearms of steel. 

—mimi smartypants, while symptoms last. 

  • September 23rd 2019 at 00:00
  • September 20th 2019 at 00:00
  • September 18th 2019 at 00:00

along the coast

By mimi smartypants


The teen’s high school is on my way to the train so we walk a few blocks together. The rest of my commute is normally very introspective, solitary, and earbuds-and-reading-material intensive, with nary a word spoken until I get to my office and usually not even then. (Until about an hour in, when colleagues both near and distant start to realize they can ask me to solve their problems rather than making the slightest twitch toward self-sufficiency. Oh sorry do I sound bitter? START AGAIN.) 

Today was very different! Near the train station, a kid headed toward (and wearing an ID from) the high school was zipping down the sidewalk on one of those weird skateboards with the bend in the middle. He was weaving all over the place and getting way too close to people on foot, and he then swerved right toward me, to the point where I had to step off into the parkway, so I said, calmly, “Careful.” The kid then spun around and yelled, “Fuck you, cunt!”

Which is QUITE the escalation!

I am not going to let that go, especially from a child, and especially when I did nothing wrong, so I also turned around and yelled, “Shut up and get your tiny dick to school!” I don’t know what happened after that. Hopefully he and his micropenis made it to class as it would be a shame to mess up your attendance record so early in the year. 

After getting off the train I realized I had my very nice iced coffee cup with me but had forgotten to fill it with cold brew at home, so I stopped at one of the seventeen thousand Starbucks on the way to the office. There was a bit of a traffic jam at the coffee-additives bar and a lot of people seemed hell-bent on being FIRST to get to the half-and-half, but I had a pretty chill playlist going in my ears so just waited my turn. 

A guy held the door for me on the way out and started talking about the scene inside, people just have no common courtesy, you know? Just say excuse me! What is the rush? We’re all trying to do the same thing and get on our way, sometimes you have to be patient! Normally my reaction would be ugh, why do we have to speak, but he was actually pretty pleasant and funny about it, so I pulled the earbuds out and we congenially bitched about the entitled rudeness of River North Starbucks customers for about half a block before parting ways. 

So that was way more interaction than usual on a Thursday morning, plus way more trading of sexually charged insults than I ever expected, and now I am tired. No-Delete Thursday means you get all this plus (too much) more, without the benefit of reflection. 


I realized that the very exasperating Big Questions from the teen (last entry) are just another way in which this age mimics toddlerhood. Toddlers are great at asking questions like “Why are apples?” and “Is five a lot?” Usually when you’re trying to parallel-park in the snow or something like that. Mom? Is five a lot? Um…it’s not a lot of M&Ms. It is a lot of severed heads. I realize all toddlers and all teens are different but in my case see also: increased need for sleep, dramatic expansion of palate/types of acceptable foods, more sophisticated sense of humor. 

I have also come to learn that teenagers can take nothing, absolutely nothing, in stride. My kid is relatively drama-free and still, setbacks or everyday irritants get crabbed about. On the other hand, clearly no one ever really grows out of this behavior (may I direct the jury’s attention to Exhibit A: Twitter). I am far from the ideal practitioner of mindfulness but I find myself espousing its techniques on a weekly basis. My advice is just a drop in the fake-high-stakes bucket that modern teenagers are drowning in, though, with all these artificial SUCCESS DEADLINES like college admission, standardized tests, and deciding what to do with the rest of your life. 


  • Books where you can somehow tell the author was simultaneously thinking of the screenplay/movie of the book
  • Makeup: excessive use of facial highlighter, particularly way up past the cheekbones and onto the temples
  • Referring to anything and everything as a “journey” and any negative emotion as being “devastated”
  • The fact that there are so many Skarsgards—I’m not convinced that Big Skarsgard isn’t secretly adding a new one each year to see if we notice
  • The media’s attention to UK politics: not to be rude but we are busy having our own constitutional crisis over here
  • The media’s attention to new Apple products
  • My stupidity whenever I entertain, and how I completely forget that guests are polite and will bring alcohol to a party; so I buy too much alcohol and then everyone brings alcohol and WOW, TOO MUCH ALCOHOL: MY HOUSE IS NOW A WINE STORE
  • The fact that some popular thinking about mental illness has failed to acknowledge that you can be both mentally ill AND an asshole, and that mental illness is no excuse for poor behavior; I propose we work to  #endthestigma but also #takenoshit

—hashtag mimi smartypants.

plant-based portfolio

By mimi smartypants


Some people get all hopeful and excited when school starts. On the one hand I get it: New year! New me! New chances! On the other hand, maybe those people are just high on permanent markers and or poisoned by mechanical-pencil lead. For me the beginning of this school year has been nothing but an anxiety spiral. The tension between trying to provide Aaron with everything he needs to be successful vs letting him figure it all out independently (and possibly fail).* The horror of trying to help a shorter, stylish teen boy find clothes when he is as picky about fit as an elderly Italian tailor. The big unknown of college and how do you even start narrowing the options? The fun layer of gender anxiety on top of the normal teen anxieties. 

*Inevitable! Not very high-stakes! Not really, at the end of the day, my problem! But parent feelings get all mixed up with kid feelings when bad things happen. 

I also took about a million vacation days this year, between the London fun and the Pacific Northwest adventure. I do not regret one bit of it; but I have to pretty much work straight through 2019 now, particularly if I want to save vacation days for a thing that I do not want to talk about right now. VAGUEDIARY: ACTIVATE! (You know I’ll blab eventually. Be patient with me.)

The kid is feeling the anxiety too, in many small and large ways. Apparently one was supposed to have saved all the materials from a previous class in a binder to use in the next class—although this was literally never mentioned until the first day—so he is being punished for Marie Kondo-ing his schoolwork over the summer. (The teacher seems unable to give a straight answer as to how big a deal this is.) He is supposed to take an online class to fulfill an art credit that his aggressive schedule does not allow time for, but has a counselor explained how this works, despite diligent teen emailing? No. I hear reports that his Spanish teacher speaks in a Castilian monotone mumble that makes understanding difficult for the indifferent language-learner. And so on.

Then there was our whole existential conversation last night, when I was very tired and crabby and Not In The Mood. Do you have to “love” something to do it for a living? Do you have to have a “passion” for something to study it in college? How do you know if it’s the right thing? What if you change your mind? What if you get a job and it turns out you did not even need your degree at all? What if you are good at your job but you like it only okay; do you just do it until you die? Isn’t that kind of sad? Isn’t life kind of sad? How do you feel okay about that? How do you stop worrying and then getting mad at yourself for worrying? 

My answers were much longer (and sometimes crabby), but generally thus—no; no; you don’t; that’s fine; check out your very own father, the “nearly-a-history-PhD” computer programmer; check out your very own mother, who has an entire successful career that she finds merely tolerable; meh, debatable: the idea is to have other good stuff in your life besides paid work; yes but so what, it’s what we’ve got; million-dollar question; I don’t know, DRUGS? SEX? ICE CREAM? 

I’m sympathetic but sometimes I just cannot wrestle with the Big Questions out loud, especially when I am probably expected to impart some parental wisdom or (at least) comfort. Do you think I would have obfuscated my human despair with 20 years and 100 million words of published diary content if I felt content about these things? I love you! I’m sorry it sucks! Do what I do when it sucks: go to bed!


In my upstairs bathroom I have a metal vertical thing that holds three extra rolls of toilet paper. As a proactive housekeeper and a fan of toilet paper, I usually grab two more rolls and fill the thing when there is only one roll left. After a few rounds of this I start to feel sorry for the bottom roll, coming close to having its time on the big stage and then BOOM, two more rolls dumped on its head. I have started to rotate Bottom Roll up to the top when this happens, and putting the new rolls on the bottom. Bottom Roll has been patient. Fair is fair. 


Besides the yelly orange cat in the last entry, I forgot to make note of some of the other animals we saw on the Oregon/California trip. Elk! Lots of birds of prey! A cute skinny black snake that quickly got out of my way in the redwood forest! The snake was just lying there on the trail, in full sun, and went quickly back into the shadows as we approached. It was probably like ah fuck, I just got warmed up. Sorry snake.

Also, apologies if you saw my Twitter post and know this already but a mouse (apparently) got in our house and Murphy cat took care of it. I came downstairs at Ridiculous O’Clock in the morning and saw a weird something in the corner of the hall. What is that? Is it a cat toy? NO! (But also: YES! It used to be!) It was a small mouse, twisted and broken-necked and slightly damp, and Murphy was like YES YES IT WAS ME OH MY GOD SO COOL YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE. I am sure he has told the story four thousand times to the other cats by now and they are so sick of it. 

I was seriously grossed out, but LT helped me clean up, and after thoroughly inspecting every bit of the house for poop, chewed-on things, and mouse urine (via blacklight), I do not believe we actually have a mouse problem. Why did this one come in? How did this one come in? How much, and how quickly, did it regret its mistake? (Murphy says: more mice please! It was awesome. Also look at my claws I’m totally the best.) 


Recently finished books: We Cast A Shadow, The Impossible Climb, and Molly Fox’s Birthday.

I also highly recommend that you listen to the monotonous-in-a-good-way, hazy-methadone-twilight, acoustic-droney-shoegaze album I Declare Nothing by Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe (of Brian Jonestown Massacre + other projects fame). Or maybe don’t listen to it if you have stuff to do as it quickly leads to lighting candles, popping 50 or so milligrams of THC, pouring some red wine, and wishing you still smoked cigarettes. 

Other things I recommend: working out in the morning (it sounds like it sucks but it really doesn’t), reading more “young adult” books, using sticky velcro things to hang stuff instead of putting holes in your walls, solar-powered string lights, blue shop towels instead of paper towels for terrible messes, reaching out to your friends and planning a meet instead of waiting to be asked, and changing your frequently-barfing cat’s diet to 100% cans and cutting out the kibble cold turkey, no matter how pitifully she whimpers. 

—mimi smartypants needs the amino acid taurine in order to thrive. 

pinned to the open road

By mimi smartypants

I took a trip with my family. Then we came back home. Then I went back to work and remembered that working is not as much fun as traveling. Weird.

Anyway, we flew to Portland and then drove down to San Francisco, stopping to hike and stay in some very odd Airbnbs along the way. At the end of the trip a bad thing happened. However, thinking about how the bad thing could have been much worse has given me all sorts of cheesy-cliché gratitude feelings. So come with me! First: to Portland!

The Portland sleeping spot was a tiny little doll’s house of an apartment, 600 square feet but somehow also two bedrooms, with lots of clever storage and perfectly proportioned built-in furniture. It awakened a long-dormant fantasy in me of living alone and having a dedicated place for everything; a life where everything gets put back in exactly that dedicated place, AHEM, no that is not at all a shout-out to my husband and child. Why would you ask that. This place was the apartment equivalent of having literal outlines of tools on the garage-wall pegboard. THE PEGBOARD LIFE, I (OCCASIONALLY) LONG FOR IT. 

First we explored a Portland park to find the “Witch’s Castle” (which I noticed that all official Portland websites were careful to call the “Stone House”). Graffiti! Urine! 


For a less urban experience, we drove out to the Mount Hood area and hiked a small part of the 2600-mile Pacific Crest trail, the part near Timberline Lodge. I guess the exterior of this lodge was used in The Shining, but I fall asleep when I try to watch that movie so it was not familiar to me. The views were very dramatic. 

There were lots of chipmunks. I liked walking under the ski lifts. On the way out we saw a huge patch of dirty snow (in August!) and on the way back it was gone. WACKY. Wacky how the sun works in mountain-world.

Portland food: Hogan’s Goat pizza, Gateway Breakfast House, marijuana edibles. (For the adults.) 

The next house was picked just because it was about halfway between Portland and where we wanted to be next, and because I never want to spend too long in the car. That said, I feel compelled to point out that LT was the one who picked it and booked it, out of a limited set of accommodations in the middle of nowhere (aka Wolf Creek, Oregon). I also feel that some of the features of the house, such as the outhouse and the upstairs-deck pee bucket (for nighttime), probably should have been listed more prominently in the description.

This place was a teeny cob house owned by elderly lesbians in a very, very remote location in the woods. Follow the emailed directions (since Google had not a clue), engage the 4-wheel drive on the rental car, go a mile down a dirt road past some chickens and a blue school bus with someone living in it, let yourself in the gate and you are home. No wifi, no phone service, just you and a pee bucket and a whole lot of Starhawk books. I worried a bit about meth’d-up Nazis coming to kill us in the night—the lock was a joke and no one would hear you scream—but honestly how would they even find the place. 

Food here (since no restaurants for miles): salami, cheese, crackers, fruit, and wine we bought on the way. Evening entertainment: Sunset, weird animal noises in the dark, Aaron reading us Trivial Pursuit questions, drinking wine. Nighttime entertainment: me trying to use the pee bucket after all that wine. Morning entertainment:  looking out the window and seeing a large orange cat patiently waiting at the gate. Aaron went down there to open it and the cat followed us into the house, yelling for salami and hard-boiled egg and everything else we were having for breakfast. 

oh hello
finish the banana and move on to the hard-boiled egg. I too enjoy hard-boiled eggs

Next, several different redwood forest hikes. I like the big trees very much. 

In Crescent City we ate more pizza and walked on the beach. It was low tide and thus CRABPOCALYPSE. Yum, say the seagulls. We ate the middles out of you. 

nobody home

Crescent City house was a grandpa-style house on the river. Redwood tree in the front yard, this in the backyard. We spent a solid hour just standing here and throwing rocks. 


This house probably had the best shower of the trip. It is possible my appreciation of that shower was heightened after the night of the pee bucket. 

Next we continued south, with lots of ocean views while driving, to the Mendocino/Little River area. Snuck through a cemetery to look at a blowhole/punch bowl.

The hotel had a fire pit so we did the usual, with beer. 

beer not pictured

Around this time LT started to feel unwell, with gradually worsening abdominal pain in a specific spot and none of the usual other symptoms that one can knock out with antacids or whatnot. As it got worse, we began to talk about medical care. Although it made me feel like a jerk, I proposed going driving the rest of the way to San Francisco if at all possible, because hospitals in an extremely small town? When you’re not at all sure what’s wrong? Maybe not. So it sucked, but we pushed on, straight to a (useless) urgent care that advised us to go to the emergency room. (Interestingly, when I asked the urgent-care nurse which hospital was closest, she said, “Zuckerberg is closest but…I wouldn’t go there.” Thanks! I will take your word for it!)

The ER we did take him to, in Bernal Heights, was not too bad; only a handful of people bleeding or vomiting or threatening to kill themselves. (It’s an emergency room in a big city—there’s always going to be SOME.) Scans, blood draw, elevated white cells = diverticulitis! How fun. How novel. How unexpected.

LT told us to go on to the apartment because there was really nothing more to be done. It was sad, but true, so Aaron and I took ourselves out for gelato and then back to our nice apartment in the Mission. Is that right? Do people say “the Mission”? Adding “District” like the maps do sounds stupid.) The apartment had a weird steep stairs (more of a ladder, really) behind a closed door, going up to an attic/crawlspace area. I was too chicken to investigate but Aaron wasn’t, and he reported that (a) the ceilings were too low to stand upright but (b) there was a twin mattress on the floor up there, a lamp with an extension cord, and a box of kleenex. San Francisco luxury! I was surprised that the creepy attic space was even part of our Airbnb and not being rented out separately to a Google employee for $1500/month. 

Around dinnertime LT texted to say he was being kept overnight. Bad! Bad in a normal, human way—I don’t want LT to be in the hospital—but also bad in a weird, logistical, uniquely San Francisco way! We had planned to ditch the car on the way in to San Francisco, but since we ended up driving right to the hospital, it was now in a semi-sketchy unattended lot to the tune of $50/day, as well as being overdue at the rental place. This meant that I (a somewhat nervous driver under ideal circumstances) had to return it myself, in a city I don’t know, in a car I don’t understand, to a place I have never been. Aaron and Google Maps were my navigators to a tiny, very poorly marked, car rental return in SoMa (again: is this something people actually say?) I did not cry and hyperventilated only once, after multiple instances of overshooting the rental place due to the lack of signage, insane number of one-way streets, skateboarders, bus-only lanes (except not really because everyone goes in them to turn right), and old people in electric wheelchairs zooming out into traffic. 

Ultimately, it worked! Car gone! Things were much better. Aaron and I walked down to the water and texted poor LT lots of photos. We’re looking at seals, you’re looking at your IV antibiotic drip! That’s fair, right?

He was discharged later the next day, just in time to get to our apartment and see us before we left for the Lights acoustic show. Which was so chill! She gave away signed prints, there were folding chairs on the main floor (although we went up to stand on the balcony rail because, as Aaron put it, “What if we get stuck behind someone with a huge head”), and she played for nearly two hours. The crowd was pleasant, bathrooms were clean, and I wasn’t even the oldest one there. Concert success. 

We flew home to needy cats (YOU GAVE SALAMI TO A STRANGER????) and a ten-day supply of antibiotics for LT. No redwoods or ocean here, but on the other hand no pee bucket. 

—mimi smartypants was very brave in the woods. 

come closer and see/see into the trees

By mimi smartypants
  • Here’s something I will never understand: donating, or worse, selling, extremely small-ticket and random items on the internet. You see this on all manner of neighborhood social media, Craigslist, etc. “New-with-tags dishtowel, $2, porch pickup.” “Half-tube of diaper cream, free, message me mornings only.” “Picture frame, $4 obo.” “Free hot dog buns, we only used two.” How can anyone spend energy, both mental and otherwise, on making and replying to these posts? How can anyone lift fingers from keyboard—“Ah! Finished!”—wait for inbox to fill, respond, greet a stranger at the door, exchange dishtowel for wrinkled singles? Who is the person who replies and goes off to collect said dishtowel? Why was dishtowel not used? Donated? Draped over a fencepost? Thrown in the trash? Used to clean up cat barf and THEN thrown in the trash? Literally set on fire during a night of drunken merriment? The life-minutes devoted to microtransactions of this most worthless kind bother me more than they probably should. 
  • I had a very literal and wordy dream that a horror movie was released called The Unseen. In the dream this led to a lot of funny bad reviews (“I wish this movie had remained…Unseen”). Also, the Unseen of the title referred to an actual scary entity in the film, which caused a lot of dialogue problems. 

There it is! 


The Unseen! I saw it!

But you literally could not have! 

I did! The Unseen is real! And it was…seen!

  • Last week I had to talk into a microphone in place of my boss, which is a lot more talking into a microphone at this type of meeting than I normally do. It was not a big deal except that the schedule got pushed around and we ended up with my bit being during the “working lunch.” This meant no lunch for me because I am not going to give a report into a microphone in between bites of taco salad; it is just not the most professional look. “If you’ll look at the graph on page 92 [guacamole noises].” I came home and ate a block of cheese, more or less. 
  • I also went to a fancy cocktail bar with a friend and had a gin drink I really liked. I did not put my drink on Instagram although that was what everyone around us was doing. This bar serves the kind of cocktails that have at least one ingredient you have to google (Singani 63? Veev? Gustoso?) and one ingredient that is not actually an ingredient at all but a feeling (insert the largest jerkoff gesture ever here). My not-an-ingredient was “rock and roll” and I really wanted to ask the bartender if that meant “jism,” but I refrained.
  • On a not-really-related note, LT and I have a private bit we do where we pretend we are founders of a small sports-drink/Joe-Rogan-tough-guy-style beverage startup called Grizzly Jizz. We lament how we keep losing engineers and product managers who are mauled while trying to collect grizzly bear semen, and discuss how maybe we should consider using artificial grizzly bear semen, get some scientists to synthesize the flavor, but no, the real thing is what sets us apart from all the other ursine-ejaculate-based drinks out there. 
  • Thanks a lot for telling me that Katharine Hepburn was bisexual and possibly non-binary, internet. Like I’m not going to think about THAT forever now. Like I’m not going to put my chin on my fist and stare out the window dreamily for like an hour and then retire to my bed for a “nap.” Sheesh. 

—mimi smartypants is going to get us all killed. 

another heartbeat in the room

By mimi smartypants


The universe must have heard my whining in the last entry because suddenly everything’s coming up Mimi. Well, not work. If work were fun and fulfilling it would be called something else. But some things I was under-the-surface fretting about have resolved themselves, I got kind of serious about exercise and hydration and the right kind of socializing, and Chicago weather seems to be getting back to normal, meaning swinging between ABSOLUTELY LOVELY and WAY TOO HOT. I will take it over the every-other-hour tropical rainstorms of a few weeks ago. 

I had brunch three weekends in a row, which was literally a New Year’s resolution. One brunch was at this Lincoln Park place that was VERY Lincoln Park. I could imagine Tinsley Mortimer and her amazing mom* eating there every Sunday. The food was good but I felt terrible for the waitstaff because the best-selling rosé was named “Sex” and how many times a day does some botox’d matron or shrieking sentient manicure “hilariously” order more Sex. God. I would slit my throat. 

*If you watch RHONY, and you give me some alcohol, I will (with very little prompting) start talking like Dale Mercer because I find her rude comments, spoken in a very posh Virginia accent, to be the best thing ever. In fact it may be hard to get me to stop talking like that. 

One of my other brunches was pre-Pride parade, with Aaron and my sister-in-law. We walked down to a reasonably shady place to stand and noted the incredible amount of balloons involved this year. Some investigative reporter needs to EXPOSE the Big Gay Balloon Monopoly! There did not used to be this many balloons at Pride; I am not kidding.

I got in a minor argument with a lady who kept telling me to move over (nowhere to move to, we’re in a crowd situation in case you had not noticed) and that she was “stepping on my foot.” I replied pleasantly that no, she was fine standing where she was and was not at all stepping on my foot, and she started yelling about how she should know if she’s stepping on my foot or not. But conversely, I should know if my foot is being stepped on, yes? Oh the unknowable perceptions of the Other!

If it had gone on much longer I was going to offer her a THC edible to chill the fuck out but she abruptly left, to go not-step on someone else’s foot I guess. We got back to my sister-in-law’s place just before the rain and finished the day with rosé on the deck. (Not Sex.) 


We take our cats to a fancy cats-only vet practice. The upside of this is that the vets are, you know, full of cat knowledge. The downside is that they often come up with More Things You Should Do For Your Cats. Lola’s last batch o’ bloodwork showed that she might not be absorbing all the nutrients she needs from food, so the vet recommended we give her B12 injections. I probably will do this, as it is cheap and can be done at home, but damn. Is Lola a Edie-Sedgwick-style superstar in Warhol’s Factory? Or JFK reincarnated? Paging Dr Feelgood!


But Toy Story 4 is definitely implying a MFF throuple with Woody/Bo Peep/the Polly Pocket-esque Giggle McDimples—yes? (I will let you work on the Polly Pocket/polyamarous joke yourself.) 


The New York Review of Books reissued “classics” is kind of a mishmash; some of the “forgotten” novels could happily have remained forgotten, but every once in a while there is a book where I wonder why I didn’t read it before, or why I was not assigned it in a literature class. Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban is in the latter category. Very short, very dry, very depressing in a wry British way (but not ultimately despairing). It kind of reminded me both of (the original) The Office and a less-horny Nicholson Baker. Representative amusing bit, when William G, one of the protagonists, is at the aquarium: 

The sign said: “The Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, is the source of turtle soup…” I am the source of William G. soup if it comes to that. Everyone is the source of his or her kind of soup. In a town as big as London that’s a lot of soup walking about. 

He also refers to another aquarium resident as a “poor little civil-servant-looking leopard shark.” Anyway I am sure this book is not everyone’s cup of mopey-smirky tea but you can see why I like it. 


Two personal-grooming recommendations: 

  1. The original Baby Foot foot peel. It is not cheap but it is the one that works and it was a delightful experience for me. At first there are several days of “this is not working.” Then there are several days of wanting to call in sick so you can stay home and peel your feet. DELIGHTFUL. 
  2. As someone who does not love foundation but who also does not like my face with nothing on it, I am now all about this tinted face oil. (That is a Bon Appetit link but I don’t know why. Don’t eat the tinted face oil.) It is perfect for my dumb dehydrated face skin and feels like nothing at all! (Stupid Sexy Flanders!) I used the shade finder on Sephora’s website based on a foundation I already had and it worked well. 

Happy Friday! Make something today. A sandwich, a sentence. A baby! A photo. A joke. A paper bag puppet! Make anything. I think it will help. 

—mimi smartypants uses her fangs to inject digestive fluid directly into the prey; liquifying the insides but leaving the exoskeleton more or less intact. 

maneuver on the mic or lose heads like John the Baptist

By mimi smartypants


Honestly I am so sad today. There is no reason for it. Someone reached into my brain and let out all the bathwater and HEY I WAS USING THAT BATHWATER it was where the happy chemicals were stored. Gone now, down the drain along with the soap scum and the remnants of that bath bomb from the Christmas stocking. I am so so so-so, a frog behind glass, an argument going in circles. My mouth is the smallest wavy line and I am wearing the Depression Cardigan (a shapeless olive thing). Brackish, messy, monstrous. I feel like the stuff in the Roomba’s dirt cup.

The following are not precipitating factors but they are contributing in their own small way:

  • The cats had another stupid fight last night which makes me CRAZY. Conflict-free for days, even weeks, and then suddenly there is nonsense. EVERYBODY CHILL OUT.
  • My “sleep” is a joke. It is hilarious. If a good night’s sleep is a thorough soapy shower with a loofah, my sleep is a lightly moistened washcloth, gingerly applied to maybe one dirty knee. (Where are all these bathing metaphors coming from?) I want someone to forcibly strap me in a car seat and drive me around the highways, humming shoegaze melodies, until I sleep properly.
  • As a result I am snappish and grim at work, and I have a new direct report who somehow manages to drop by to ask me questions at all the worst possible times. That is not remotely this person’s fault nor is my terrible mood their problem, but I feel like I am not being as helpful or mentor-y as I should be and then: guilt spiral, etc.
  • There is a sense of looming disarray. I make to-do lists. I do not do the things, or I do only a few of them, or I do them and then it turns out the things are not done after all and need to be re-added to the bottom of the list.

The good news is that this is definitely a Mood and not a Condition. I know the difference. Maybe I should just take off this fucking cardigan, make and eat a pan of macaroni and cheese, take a Xanax, burn a PTO day to sleep all day.

Observed: I was eating dinner at a brewery and had an obstructed view of the sign listing all the beers. From my vantage point I could see that one of them had a name ending in “SWIPE” and I sincerely hoped for ASSWIPE (mmm, so hoppy!) but it turned out to be SIDESWIPE. Oh well.

Also observed: a dog that looked like Bjork. Sadly I could not get a photo.

Culture, written, except no thank you: I get a daily email of what ebooks have suddenly gone on sale (the microeconomics of that publishing phenomenon are fascinating, btw: but we don’t have time for that now). Occasionally something on my to-read list pops up on there and I get it for cheap, but it is mostly a roundup of that have a very good reason to be priced at $1.99. Honestly for some of them you’d need to pay me $1.99 to read it. I feel sorry for the person who writes the descriptions—here is a sampling of phrases, all from different books you can unfortunately buy.

  • …she encounters two ghosts! [exclamation marks in original]
  • a delightfully witty cozy mystery
  • a devastated, perilous world…but the greatest danger is within
  • a bold woman with a tragic past
  • forced to turn renegade to clear his name
  • spellbinding whodunit
  • a bizarre dognapping
  • evil sorcerers, romantic dilemmas, and the challenge of riding her very own dragon

Culture, musical: I am on a concert ticket buying spree; now all someone has to do is supply me with methamphetamine so I have the energy for all these shows. Lithics! Colleen Green and Dressy Bessy! Lights! Adult Mom! Various festivals!* And Sleater-Kinney, of course! I was a little “hmmm” about the single that came out but it has grown on me a bit, and honestly S-K could probably put out a track of free-form didgeridoo** jazz and I would give it a chance. Fangirl 4 Lyfe, sorry/not sorry.

*Neighborhood ones that happen that have like one or two good bands playing. I don’t do the giant festivals because that is way too much outdoor-bathroom action.

**The worst instrument. Petition to rename it the didgeriDON’T. Or to misquote Freckle, “Sometimes things that are indigenous…are worse.”

Culture, musical, soundtrack: Five songs that played while I wrote this diary entry.

  1. Queen Zee, “Loner”
  2. Drahla, “Fictional Decision”
  3. The Octopus Project, “Small Hundred”
  4. Stars, “Ageless Beauty”
  5. Enjoy, “Two Extra Pumps of Bliss”


Co-worker, on the elevator: Wow, the fog this morning! Just a solid wall of gray.

Me: Yeah, it’s like being dead.

C: …

Me [at my floor]: Welp, have a good day!

—mimi smartypants is still the thug that you love to hate.

  • June 19th 2019 at 04:00
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