People do Zany Shit on the Internet & Notes from the Cosmos

Child started playing this game, Tapfish, on my first generation Galaxy Tab.

I’m kind of into it, too.  I’m babysitting our two tanks while she visits Grandma this week.

This game is mildly frustrating because the cool stuff costs real money (in the form of fish bucks), but I’m in the middle of an “event” right now where you breed these two special clown fish that the game puts in your tank for free over and over again and you get all these other special clown fish.

There are challenges like raising sea turtles which take two weeks to grow.

And selling multiples of adult fish.

And breeding specific kinds of fish that become available as you ascend the levels.

I’m not really sure what constitutes ascension, it just says once in a while, “congratulations you’re on level X! Have some free coins!  Also a fish buck!”

One of the features is that you can visit other people’s tanks.  If you help them by cleaning or feeding their fish (or reviving their dead fish), you earn coins and experience points.

Sometimes visiting someone else’s tank feels a little like snooping in their drawer of underpants.

We visited this tank last week.

Dirty Screen, yeah, but you get the picture.

And all I can think about is some webcam-furry-antisocial-internet-people romance, where Sally Interwebs made this special tank for Henry Interwebs, and paid real money to get the bride and groom divers, and how sweet Lord, the whole thing strikes me as, well, creepy.  Yes.  Creepy.

And I am an internet dater.

But seriously.  Look.

Sally & Henry Interwebs

I picture greasy-haired embrace, awkward, saliva-rich kisses.  I picture acne scars and sweatsuits.  Think People of Walmart.

And that makes me a horrible, horrible snob.  I know it.  Especially since I have done somewhat extensive internet dating.  Especially since I spend more hours than I care to admit staring at screens.  Especially since I am really digging Tapfish!  But my oh my.

Also last week, on the same day, this little fella flew into our house, landed on my bed.


The last time I saw a Katydid that close was when I was a child.

Child said, “What is it, mommy?!”

“A Katydid, Child.”



“What is it?”

“It’s a bug that looks like a leaf so it is safe from being eaten.”

“Oh. What should we do with it?”

“We’re going to capture it and put it outside.”

We did.  Katydid lives to die another day.

Child’s totally a city kid.  We visited friends who live in the hills who practice burning of trash, and Child asked, “Why are you making fire?”

And I’m left wondering what the Universe wants me to know about my life, sending me the sensation of being a judgmental ass the same day she sends me and Child the gift of nature and the privilege to free it.

Anybody else with incongruous missives from The Universe (or God or gods or the cosmos or whomever you observe)?

Child Gets Attacked By a Tiny Dog

Our neighbors have a tiny, angry dog.

It appears to be a Doberman trapped in a Chihuahua’s body.

Sorta like this:

from flickr user glenn_e_wilson

For some reason, Brutus, this puppy–and puppy he is, he’s only a few months old–has nipped me before, scratched Child’s back another time (though this was when Brutus was put on the top bunk with Child by the other children who live with Brutus in an effort to help Child overcome her fear of Brutus–but Child is not afraid of dogs, she likes them, she is only afraid of THIS dog). Brutus needs to be held whenever a stranger even approaches the neighbor’s yard for it will fly over and attach itself like a cartoon wimp biting into the Incredible Hulk.

Brutus’s family treats it with this queer kind of awe and permissiveness.  Explaining its poor behavior, saying things like, “He doesn’t like men.”  And, “For some reason, he doesn’t like Child.”

I call bullshit.

But then I’m not really a pets person.  I do not understand how people love pets.  I find puppies to be more tiring than infants, only puppies never learn to talk and can never do cool things like ride subways or go to State College or read books and snuggle or ham it up for the camera.

Here’s a picture of Child’s wounds from Brutus a few days in:

These are on her upper thigh

And I am really annoyed about this.  Maybe I am even angry.

Child is lovely and adaptable as always.  She’s been noticing how the bruises look like a face and enjoys pretending that they are talking.

I am telling myself not to be annoyed and angry.  I am telling myself that kids used to scrape themselves and break arms playing with neighbors and neighbors’ kids and parents didn’t make big stinks about it, and I am nostalgic for a time when neighbors were more neighborly.  So I don’t want to cause a bunch of crap, call the police and force the neighbors to execute their poorly behaved pooch.

But I’m not a litigious sort.

But then I wonder if I’m being an okay mom.  Should I have raised a ruckus?  Am I showing Child that it’s okay for pets to hurt people?  Or that it’s okay for people to let other people’s pets hurt them?  She’s been forbidden from going inside the neighbors’ house at all, and she is not allowed to go next door if Brutus is out, either.

But then I wonder if I am enabling the neighbors to continue to have a dog that’s a tiny menace?  Risking another person’s health and well-being?  If I should have been thinking globally–about the neighborhood–instead of about our so far really copacetic relationship with our neighbors, and at least filed a report with the SPCA or something?

But we had a yard sale the other day, and I saw a pair of people walking their dog, first by our house, then an hour or more later back the other way, and they carried a plastic bag of shit the size of my head.  And they allowed their dog to piss in our yard, in front of the yard sale, as if it’s a perfectly acceptable thing.  Last year, I went to the beach with my mom, and she has this tiny pooch, and it was this whole other sociological order of humans who are beholden to animals, I was and am mystified, and I feel I cannot expect rational behavior from pets people.

What do you think, blog readers?  Instead of dispensing advice about parenting, I’m asking for it.  Or about pets.

Our Ballsy Mouse

Not Human Bites

Our house is big and old and we live in town, but have a nice yard and trees and things.  Having a mouse buddy is nothing terribly surprising, and fortunately, both Fella and I grew up in houses with mice, so we’re not freaking out.

We also both think that ethical treatment of living critters is important, so we’re the kind of people who catch spiders and take them outside, and who would rather not poison the mice who care to share our domicile.

But our mouse–I’ve only seen one, though I am sure there are more–has become ballsy.

A short week ago, she (I like to think of her as a mama mouse, though I know this means that we’ll have additional mice before the cold is up if we do not already) was a frightened speck of a thing.  Darting out onto the counter to grab a crumb of bread or to travel between the stove and our drawer with plastic wrap where she likes to leave us her turds.  Our food was un-molested.

Not anymore.

Lady Mousington did a number to the butter last week (we leave the butter on the counter in the winter).  I forgot to take a picture, but it looked like someone had scraped it a thousand tiny scrapes with a two-pronged stick.  We tossed away the butter and bought a butter dish with a cover.

Then the pita which was on top of the microwave (and not in a cabinet, silly me).  And she did that wonderful, almost-human looking snacking.

The Scene of the Crime

I left a corn chip on top of the microwave after the pita incident.  I explained, “I’m training her to eat only the food we say is okay.”

Of course I know that is silly.  Mice are only smart in Flowers for Algernon.

But here’s the stuff: I am not rich enough to let Lady Mousington eat our grub.  Butter and pita are pretty expensive.

Also, I am rather tired of the mouse turds.

So I think we are going to get traps.

I do not like the idea of taking the mice out into the woods to become food for mammals higher on the food chain, or to freeze owing to inadequate shelter.  I do not know if that is more humane than poison.

Child has asked to catch them and keep them for pets.

My mother suggested a constrictor.  I used to keep pet snakes when I was younger.  I think that’s a brilliant idea, but we don’t live in warm enough clime for leaving a snake loose.  Poor thing would freeze to death.

Anybody have any good, humane, mouse-deterring tricks??

Insomnia at Child Pageant in Nowhere New York

This is from

I just spent about 2 hours reading Penelope Trunk‘s blog.  I woke up at 1:00 (really 2:00), and now it’s 3:30 (really 4:30), and thank god because after I get this burning need to tell all you good people about this amazing sleep interruption out of me, I will still be able to get some sleep before I have to get up to go watch the crowning at Angel Face Pageants in Owego, New York.  Penelope is my new girl crush.  I mean major.  I think I would probably have difficulty forming sentences if I met her.

Social Networking is hard but worth it.

Here’s the back story:  All 20 of you know that I am working my face off to rock this self-employment thing.  This blog represents me and my business (badly, I just learned, or at least not optimally), so in addition to pursuing clients & writing work, I have been following people on Twitter and tweeting and reading Copy Blogger, and The Wealthy Freelancer sends me its free webinars, and I’m doing all these “right” things.

So after my super lucky guest post on Jane Friedman’s Blog, this lovely woman, Jamie Chavez, linked me to a post about her son learning to really love reading after sixth grade.  And Jamie and I, kindred spirits I think, have been exchanging emails.  She pointed me to Penelope’s blog.

What I love about Penelope

  1. Everything.  No, really.  She is brilliant and funny and thoughtful and deep and good at life and all the things I want to be publicly.  Now, only you 20 people know this about me, and mostly because you know me personally, not because you read my blog.
  2. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, which means that she probably stands on the same tile floor Lorrie Moore stands on to order coffee, at least sometimes.  Maybe they shop at the same Trader Joe’s.
  3. She started out writing fiction with sex in it.  I did that, too.
  4. She is a mom.
  5. She makes a pile of money writing.
  6. She has an MFA, but doesn’t talk about it.
  7. She has this rare ability to make vulnerability and shitty life moments readable, engaging, without even a sliver of self-pity.
  8. She is frank.
  9. She lives on a farm.

What I hate about Penelope

  • She told me I have to focus.
She’s right.  I know she is.  But here are the things I get excited about writing about:  writing, books, being a mom, movies, TV, child pageants (at least for a week), my life as a rock star, beer, vacations, cooking, eating, dreaming, fictions/stories.  Go.  Look at my archives.  They’re nuts.  I seem like an insane person.
Here are the things people read:  Anything with Dead Babies in the title, anything with the words penis, vagina, or sex in the body, my posts about writing, humorous anecdotes about me and/or my kid.

Diagnosis after Penelope Therapy

I need better titles.

I need to keep on keeping on.  Not that there was any doubt.

I need a clever euphemism for my domestic partner, like The Farmer, but different.  I learned that, too, recently from my domestic partner, he has difficulty with my writing openly on the internet about our life.  He is a private guy.  But Penelope tells me that if I’m funnier about it, it might work better for me.  I doubt that’s true in my case, but I’ll give it a whirl.

I need to be more artful about linking.

Dead Babies IV: Snail Mommy

We have fish tanks. We have one 30-gallon tank, and a smaller tank that gets its inhabitants today.

These little fellas:


I understand that keeping a shrimp tank is kind of trendy right now in Asia, and the Fish Tank Proprietor (henceforth FTP) in our house is kind of into (read wild crazy full of love for) Asian stuff.

Critter Love/Hate

I am somewhat antagonistic toward the notion of pets.  I suspect that this stems primarily from the fact that I wanted pets when I was a child, but my parents said no.  Then when my sisters, who are 8- and 10-years younger, were 8 and 6 respectively, they were allowed to have cats.  I brought one home, too, but I was 16 at the time, and wasn’t used to it, and felt like I already missed out, and frankly,  I just haven’t had time to get over it.

Still.  I enjoy the fish tanks quite a bit.  I think snails are super neat.  So we went to petco last weekend, and they had these groovy snails:

Ellis & Sigmund

I know they’re hard to see, but if you look closely, there’s Ellis kind of under the rock to the left, sporting the spotty, reddish shell; and you can see just a bit of Sigmund’s stripey shell to the right, behind the leaves.

I named the snails thusly:  Those with stripes are Sigmund, Ferdinand (or Francis, depending on my mood), and Lazarus who is so named because he rose from the presumed dead, and is now hanging out in the will-be shrimp tank.  The red, spotty ones are Ellis, Currer, and Acton.  This is because of my love for the Bronte sisters.

Here’s a picture of Lazarus:

Back from the dead!

Loach: Doing what comes natural.

We have a loach.  He’s a little bottom sucker, but he also eats the very, very tiny snails that arrive in our plants.  These breed like mad, and there is constantly a population of them.  The loach is named Princess, and is called so because my sweet child (who is six) named the loach.  She named all of the other fish we have  Castle (there are about twenty of varying types: tetras, barbs, danios, etc).

The FTP didn’t think that  the loach would eat Ferdinand, Sigmund, Ellis, Currer, and Acton, but thought it was an outside possibility.  Ferdinand has a little crack in his shell, and FTP said that might’ve come from Princess.

Princess used to be the underdog in my mind.  He’s changed color a bit, and I feel like he’s lonely (even though he hides under the driftwood most of the time).  I have often lobbied for more ethical treatment for him (getting him a friend) and special treats (freezedried blood worms), but now that he’s presenting a potential threat to my little snails, I look at him with murder in my heart.  I find his behavior to be suspicious, and I am often worried about his intentions.

He’s already black-and-white striped, and I kind of want to put him in fish tank jail.  This is him:


Reckless Snails

But my snails hang out with him.  They feed on his driftwood cave, and taunt him with their succulent mollusk innards that he seems only-too-willing to attempt to conquer.  Even though there are many, many easier meals for Princess.

I feel like I should ground the snails, make them dress less slutty and come home by 10 p.m.

Sometimes, they cluster up and I imagine they are plotting to overthrow Princess.  I cheer them on in my mind.  I say, “Damn the man! Kill the Loach!”  I recognize this is probably irrational.

And I also recognize that our little loach is probably not big enough yet to kill my snails.  He’s about 3 inches.  But he’ll grow a bit more, and FTP thinks the snails are probably as big as they’ll get, even though there’s no shortage of algae upon which they may (and do) feast madly.

So I find myself puzzled by my odd, maternal impulses toward these snails, and my bloodlust for Princess.  Last night, I had a dream that we got a big, ugly snail after Princess ate all my small, pretty snails.  He moved fast, and was chasing Princess with murder on his feelers.

I woke up before the snail got Princess.

I wonder what it all means.