The world is still an OK place, explosions and all

When news of the Boston explosions hit the Internet, Facebook and Twitter flooded with comments like, "What is wrong with the world today?" (*) The answer: Nothing. Nothing is wrong with the world today that wasn't wrong yesterday and won't be wrong tomorrow. Bad things happen to good people. Or, at least, random people. If you're over the age of 20 and you still haven't wrestled this truth to the ground, then you're brain-damaged, lying, or you've lived an exceptionally sheltered life.

I know jack about what happened in Boston at this point. Maybe it was terrorism, foreign or domestic. Maybe it was something else. Maybe some guy was a shitty runner and decided to take it out on Boston. We'll know more in the days and weeks to come. I saw videos of people running into danger to help other people, and I saw countless well wishes and prayers for the victims online. That's what's important to me.

A friend of mine noted that some of her friends have said they would never bring kids into "this world." One wanted to apologize to her child for the state of the world.

Fuck that noise. This world is awesome.

This world is full of ice cream and sunshine and great wine and push-up bras. It's also full of terrorism and rapists and dead babies and heart attacks. It's always been that way and it will always be that way. I might wind up with a raft of things for which I'll need to apologize to my daughter, but the state of the world I brought her into isn't one of them. I suspect her life will be a mix of ice cream and terror (and, with my genes, probably the push-up bra), but that's the price of admission. I'd rather teach her how to dodge and roll than how to get the vapors every time she boots up her computer.

Notes:

(*) I hesitate to say how terrible something like this is because duh, of course it is. Whoever purposely killed, injured and terrified people doing nothing more offensive than littering should be ... well, should be arrested and tried before a jury of his peers. Even if he wasn't born here. I'm a freak like that. I add it anyway, here in the notes, because people act like you ate a puppy if you don't say the obvious about stuff like this. To the people of Boston and the runners and spectators from everywhere, my horror and sympathy are as sincere as anything I've ever experienced. (**)

(**) I say "he" because shitfaces like this are usually "he." It's not sexist. It's statistically accurate. Women are generally shitfaces in other ways. If the shitface responsible for this has a vagina, I will retract.

One girl, one cup

I'm taking the plunge. I'm gonna try The Diva Cup. The Diva Cup is a reusable menstrual cup that keeps her side of the bed from looking like a crime scene, supposedly. It replaces pads and tampons.

Now you know.

It comes in two sizes: One for women under 30 who have never had a child and another for women over 30 who have had one or more children, vaginally or via c-section.

Diva

They should have just named the second one "cavernous hole." Let's not dance around this shit.

Mass Effect 2 crew need therapy

Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 finally got cheap enough for me to buy off of Steam, and Mass Effect 2 is rocking my world right now. But I couldn’t help but notice that everyone on my team is a psychological wreck, mostly related to unresolved childhood issues. That’s why I’m renaming the game Mass Effect 2: Daddy Issues.

Miranda: A Cerberus operative in a skintight Seven of Nine catsuit. She was genetically engineered by her father to ensure his legacy and ran away because he was a controlling dick. Her loyalty mission involves keeping her younger but genetically identical twin sister hidden from their father.

Tali: A quarian who was on your team in the first Mass Effect. Her father is an admiral in the migrant fleet. In her mission, you discover her dead father was a war criminal who was experimenting on Geth. Depending on how you play it, Tali can be exiled for treason to protect his reputation.

Jacob: He hasn’t spoken to his father in 13 years. Ten years ago, his father, an alliance officer, disappeared with the rest of his crew on a mission. You find out Jacob’s Dad has been playing Lord of the Flies on a jungle world, where he coveted all the healthy food for himself, let his crew eat the tainted food that made them drooling morons, and killed anyone who opposed him. In my game, he’s rotting in an Alliance prison, trying desperately not to drop the soap.

Thane: Thane is a spiritually-inclined drell hitman who is dying of some mysterious disease. He finds out his estranged son has taken a contract in an attempt to follow in his dad’s footsteps and wants to stop him. This mission requires you to track down Thane’s son and turn him back to the path of righteousness.

Samara: I’ll call this one Mommy Issues. Samara is an asari justicar (basically, a Paladin) who is hunting down her daughter, Morinth. Morinth has a genetic defect that makes her a space succubus, and you need to help Samara kill her.

Grunt: Grunt was genetically engineered in a tank. His “father” was a Krogen scientist who created Grunt to be an instrument of destruction. Grunt’s loyalty mission involves proving to the rest of the Krogen that he’s a violent psycho just like them.

Jack: Jack is a tattooed, half-naked whack job who was terrorized as a child by Cerberus agents in an attempt to build a super biotic. In the end, she just needs to be loved. And kill people.

The writing staff of Mass Effect 2 needs serious therapy. Or a hug. I’m not sure. But I guess the crew has to be nuts to follow my resurrected ass around the galaxy.

The Scone Wars

Recently, Devon and I discovered the magic of the baby swing. It shuts off the crying and makes the baby sleep, which has been just short of miraculous. A true miracle would have been a swing that cleans poop out of our baby's vajayjay. With some of the extra time I'm no longer spending bopping up and down the hallway, I've been baking. These whole wheat scones are part of my effort to become to the scone master. It's a lot like a Jedi master but with less baby-stealing.

Whole wheat scones / Photo: Monica Jones

This recipe is modified from "How to Bake: Complete Guide to Perfect Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Tarts, Breads, Pizzas, Muffins" by Nick Malgieri.

Whole Wheat Scones

* This recipe works fine at sea level and about 5300 feet altitude. I haven't tested it higher. ** I used a scone pan because I don't play, but you can use a cookie sheet if you're a normal personal and don't have one. *** You can use 3 cups all-purpose flour instead of 2 cups AP flour and 1 cup whole wheat. If you do, increase the milk to 3/4 cup.

2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup whole-wheat flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 5 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 eggs 1/2 cup milk egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt

Set the rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 450 F.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Cut the butter into a dozen small pieces and rub evenly into the dry mix until it looks like fine cornmeal. I use a pastry cutter or a few pulses in a food processor for this step, but you can criss-cross two forks if you feel like slumming it.

Whisk the eggs and milk together and stir into the flour/butter mixture to form a smooth dough.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces if you have a scone pan. If you're a savage and you're using a cookie sheet, grease the cookie sheet with butter. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, then form each into a 5-inch disk. Using a sharp, floured knife, quarter each disk into 4 wedges. Place the wedges wide apart on the prepared pan.

Apply the egg wash evenly. Allow the eggs wash to dry, then apply again.

Bake the scones for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are firm but not dry.

The Digital Age is here. Check your spam folder.

Back in my day, we knew how to prioritize. Like, if you signed on to Prodigy, you had just enough time to make a sandwich, clean your room, feed the dog and close the door before your Mom heard the modem connect for your 2 am chat session. Kids today like to think they invented staying up all night fucking around online. I don't think I'm becoming a technophobe in my old age. I have yet to yell at anyone to get off my Sim Lawn. With my desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone, I'm more plugged in than ever. I've whiled away many an afternoon with a baby in one hand, a breast pump in the other and my laptop balanced between my knees so I can read books and surf Facebook. That's why I hope a recent New York Times column by Nick Bilton is mostly for funsies. If it's not, then I fear the older generations might be right: My generation might be filled with douche weasels.

Bilton writes about digital etiquette and how it has changed from the old days of answering machines and dead trees. He has some good points, which I'll get to, but he makes the mistake of starting his piece bitching about people who send email and text messages just to say thank you.

Dude, seriously, if you're too busy to deal with someone thanking you, you need to take a step back from your insane lifestyle before you have a stroke and die. No one is too busy to read "thank you." No one.

He sounds even worse when he admits he let his father leave a dozen unanswered voicemail messages, and his sister finally had to tell their Dad to text him. Nice way to treat the guy who contributed half your DNA. To be fair, I never answered my biological mother's voicemail messages, either. But that's because she was a pain in the ass who called me all the time. I've since arranged to call her once a month, and I think we're both happier for it. If someone's bombarding you with messages in a format you don't like, call him and ask him to do something different. Especially if his jizz made you who you are today. It's only fair.

Bilton goes on to quote Baratunde Thurston, co-creator of Creative Wit, a "comedic creative company," whatever that is. Thurston is peeved because people ask him online how they can buy his book when they can just as easily Google the information themselves. How sad. People want to know how they can give Thurston money, and that just sucks up his time like you wouldn't believe. Let me break this tiny violin out of my pill case.

Bilton does have a good point, which I promised I would get to: Know your audience. Odds are good that if you're talking to someone under 30, they'd rather get a text than a voicemail. Find information yourself if it's trivial to do so. That sort of thing. My father-in-law prefers to talk to customer-service reps on the phone. I feel like if I need to talk to a person, the business has failed me.

I have some advice for people at the top of the digital food chain, like Bilton: Don't be surprised if your audience isn't who you think it is. Just because someone chats on Facebook doesn't mean he knows how to use Google Maps. Just because she is 30 doesn't mean she shops online. I have plenty of friends who still use feature phones and pay per text message. Why would they text when email is free?

Throw people a bone when you know they're not riding your digital groove -- you know, people like your Dad.

You just might need more sleep when...

You go all Happy Gilmore on your child's arms. Long-sleeved onesies are an abomination and of the devil at 2 am when your squirmy 2-week-old has just soaked through a diaper. Me to Aurelia's arms: Why don't you just go HOME? That's your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME? ANSWER ME! SUCK MY WHITE ASS, ARM!

We've got her on a pretty regular feeding schedule now. There's nothing quite like looking down at my little angel's face while I feed her -- and listen to her last meal explode out of her ass. Shitting right after we've changed her diaper is her super power. I'm sorry my kid has a lame super power, but at least it's harmless.

Sleep is for weenies

Y'all are probably thinking I abandoned the blog. Nope. I decided to take a few months off to do some things before the baby was born, since I knew the few months after the baby would be a blur of sore nipples and diaper explosions. Aurelia was born six days ago, and so far that prediction has held up.

Labor and delivery ended up being a wild ride. We'd planned on an unmedicated birth, but, sadly, she appears to have my sense of direction. After 50 hours of trying to deliver a baby positioned backward and then sideways, I went for a c-section. She's healthy and wonderful. I'm sore and tired but also doing well.

My thoughts on the labor and delivery are still coalescing into something coherent, but here are some noteworthy items from the first few days post-birth:

-- In the realm of TMI, the first poop after a c-section is a lot like having a contraction -- out of your ass. -- Shitting and peeing yourself in front of strangers annihilates all sense of modesty. My boobs are the world's boobs now. -- Hospital gowns designed for nursing mothers suck. There are two slits for whipping out boobies, but they're not big enough to get a breast through comfortably. I'm not bragging here. I'm pretty average in the size department. So you can't breastfeed with them, but they leave you oddly exposed the rest of the time. -- We have amazing friends and family -- people who visited us in the hospital, gave us lovely baby presents, brought us food and wished us well on Facebook and via email. We are very lucky.

Even nostalgia can't kill Christmas

This last Christmas was my third without Mom and my second without Dad. At the risk of sounding like a jerk, the holidays aren't as difficult as I expected them to be. Veteran's Day is always hard without Dad, which is a weird holiday to feel melancholy about, but it makes sense when you understand how much Dad's world revolved around his four years in the Army. The first Christmas without Mom was difficult, but I find the unexpected moments to be the worst. I'm prepared for the holidays. I'm not always prepared for quiet moments waiting for a plane to take off or spying little old ladies built like bowling balls rummaging through produce at the supermarket. It won't ever be the same as it was when 30 people crammed into my mother's living room to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I won't spend any more days making Christmas cookies with my mother or helping my father decorate the tree. (A neighbor once joked that Dad's 40-year-old Christmas ornaments weren't the oldest balls in the house.) I miss those times, but I think I've retained their spirit.

The decorations and gifts and food were wonderful, but not because they were decorations and gifts and food. I've walked by spectacular displays and barely noticed them. I don't remember many specific gifts. I've eaten good food that I barely tasted. What made holidays special was knowing I was loved and cared for, and I still have that.

I still have a lot of that.

I have aunts and uncles and cousins and old friends who ground me to my past and remind me that I have always been loved. I have a husband and new friends who remind me that the present is worthwhile, and that the future is too important to get lost in the weeds.

Some things are better now than they were then. I don't have to spend the day watching every word I say in fear that it's going to set off World War III. Christmas dinners aren't going to end in drunken cursing matches. Nostalgia often makes things warmer and fuzzier than they ever really were.

I think again about those days making Christmas cookies with Mom. Sometimes she would cry, and when I asked her why she was crying, she said it was because she missed her own mother so much. My daughter will be named after my grandmother, a woman I can barely remember but who helped shape an entire lifetime of Christmases.

Shaping the holidays for my daughter is my job now, and as I think about the task in front of me, I find myself calling on my mother's memory. Knowing she won't be here to see my daughter's face or show pictures of her new granddaughter to her friends makes me feel like I've been robbed, much like she must have felt felt when I admitted that I didn't remember very much of my grandmother, who died when I was 2. I don't believe in God, but I believe in an afterlife where my parents are OK, where they can see that I'm happy. I know I'm deluding myself, but I need it and I don't care.

But it's OK. Even the good stuff is bittersweet when you're an adult. Holidays are better now than they were 25 years ago -- sadder, with less sheer exuberance, but with more texture because of what my parents left behind.

Jesus is the light, motherfucker

Those were the words on a Precious Moments spoon I got for Christmas from a friend. Maybe the "motherfucker" part wasn't there, but it was implied. Maybe that's because Samuel L Jackson narrates my internal monologue. Those are also the words I mumbled to Devon as his uncle read a passage from the Bible about the birth of Jesus. Devon held my hand and squeezed it affectionately. I'm interpreting it as an affectionate squeeze. He might have been willing me to shut the hell up before we got banned from Christmas dinner for the next six generations. I don't know why adding a "motherfucker" to something makes it wrong. I was talking about Jesus! It was Christmas! That's what I'm supposed to do!

Of course, at that moment, his uncle was complaining that the light over the sink was blocking him from seeing his brother in law. So in this case, Jesus was an asshole who wouldn't get out of the way, which is rude and Jesus should know better.

You don't get to be an asshole just because it's your birthday, Jesus.

This is TMI. No one should read this.

Dear Unborn Daughter, You are the reason I had to drive to Home Depot to buy an auger, a high-end plunger and enzyme solution. You are also the reason I spent two hours on my hands and knees in front of the porcelain god trying to make things right. I hadn't done that since my last bender, several years ago. I didn't want to admit to a plumber what evil I had wrought.

Yet somehow I can tell everyone on the Internet.

You're not even born yet and already you're kind of a jerk. I promise I'll still feed you, but I consider naked baby photos my revenge. I hope you don't mind the scrapbook I'm going to show to all your boyfriends or girlfriends.

Love, Mom

P.S. If you're not my daughter and you got this far, it's because you hate yourself. Rethink your life.

Social Me Facebook stalks you like your ex

I came across Zeebly's Social Me on Facebook and took the bait. It analyses your Facebook status updates and tells you about yourself. It's kind of like those quizzes in Teen Beat magazine that would tell you which New Kid on the Block you should marry based on your favorite ice cream and how often you changed your underwear. (BTW, it's over between us, Jon Knight. You never returned my telepathic messages.) Apparently, I use less punctuation and longer words than about 93% of Facebook users, which is weird, because it's not like I'm rocking the SAT words in my status updates, so the rest of Facebook must be using pictographs or something.

SocialMe

SocialMe

SocialMe

SocialMe

Nothing parties like a dead squirrel

At a going-away party for some friends moving to Seattle, Devon and I were chatting with a couple planning to get married next year, and they mentioned they were considering doing it at a bowling alley, which is kind of awesome in part because all the guests can rent really cheap shoes. I suggested how much more awesome it would be if, instead of pins, you knocked down taxidermied squirrels on strings. It would be like bowling meets hunting, but with fewer bullets and more vending machines. Devon was like, "Yeah, and it should have a soundtrack where every time you hit a squirrel, there's a blood-curdling scream." And I was like, "Totally, and if you got a strike or a spare, you'd hear, 'WHY, GOD, WHY?! OH SWEET ZOMBIE JESUS!'" That's why Devon and I work well together. We tag-team that shit like a motherfucker.

Now I'm sitting here with a friend in New Jersey, where we're staying until after Thanksgiving. Her 11-year-old son just said something that sounded like, "I don't think penises are a viable ..." We didn't hear the rest, so we're trying to figure it out. We came up with:

a) form of transportation b) fuel source c) means of resetting taxidermied squirrel bowling pins.

Now he's insisting he didn't say "penises," that he said "phoenixes," but that's retarded. Why would anyone say "phoenixes"?

In other news, I've grown too big to see my own vagina. There's no going back.

I'm not a whore, I'm a snuggler

Awhile back, I told Devon that to prevent a lengthy gap in my resume, I could be a hooker. Not a crocheter, like in this blog, but an actual prostitute. I could set my own hours and make a little cash on the side. He was all, "No, you're not going to be a prostitute," because he thinks he owns me or something. Just another case of The Man telling a woman her place in the world, I guess. I don't know why he has a problem with me living my dreams. Like, I could even get my name on Craig's List. But then I saw The Snuggery. At first I thought it was the factory where they make Snuggies, and I was like, "Why would anyone give a fuck about this?" But then I realized what was going on, and I saw the potential. And the dollar signs. But mostly the potential, because I have a forward-thinking entrepreneurial spirit. I could totally be a snuggler!

I'm looking at the benefits. Despite my desire to rebel against Devon's totalitarian judgment on what I can do with my vagina, I know that for a while after the baby's born, no one's going near my vajayjay anyway, and I mean no one. But snuggling is vagina-free, and it's legal, so I won't end up spending the night sharing a toilet with a meth whore named Candy.

From the pic on the website, it looks like I also get to wear a long, flowing Ren Faire skirt to work, which is a bonus.

Other posts you might like:

I’m not ‘adopted.’ I’m a ‘gently used human from a third-party uterus.’ This cat is STILL an asshole Wake-up call from Chase Bank

The things I learn from child murders

I've been following the story of the nanny accused of killing two kids in NYC, and I've learned a lot -- not from the story itself, but from the media coverage and the comments on several websites. I thought I'd share, in case you weren't following. 1) Good mothers don't leave their children with anyone, ever. If you're a good mom, you surgically attach your children to your leg so you can say you are ALWAYS there for them.

2) It's OK if good mothers conveniently forget that they often leave their kids with family and friends, who, statistically, are much more likely to hurt their children than paid help.

3) Being rich means you deserve whatever terrible things happen to you. Fuck the rich, even if they earned their money honestly. Their lifestyles lead to dead kids, which is what you get when you have money. Fuck the poor and working class, too, who can't afford to gaze lovingly at their kids all day and need to work if they want to eat. They should have considered that before they made babies. And fuck people who live in cities and struggle with a high cost of living. Good parents live on farms. We should depopulate all our cities so children don't have to live in them.

4) We all have access to free, abundant child care. We all have living, healthy family members who live within a few miles of our home and are eager to help. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying.

5) Fathers are irrelevant in child care. If something bad happens to a kid, it's always the mother's fault.

6) If a family pays for child care, it must be because the mother is a ladder-climbing money-grubber. It couldn't be that they really need the money; that she does something worthwhile and rewarding; that she's the only or primary breadwinner; or that she needs time alone, with friends or her partner, or with other children.

7) If something terrible happens to you, it's because you did something to deserve it. We're all a little Catholic sometimes.

8) Few things are as satisfying as blaming the victim. It's better than chocolate.

9) If my life is torn apart in a horrific act of violence, I need to watch what I say in my unspeakable grief, lest judgmental strangers on the Internet rip me a new asshole for it.

This has all been especially enlightening as I prepare for the birth of my first child. Until now, I figured, if a kid hasn't been abducted by a stranger on the way home from school, killed by a child care worker or suffered brain damage from falling onto the corner of a table, it's because:

1) That stuff is obscenely rare. 2) That kid and his parents got lucky.

Silly me.

Other posts you might like: Yarn and monkeys just don't mix This blog post is full of spoilers for The Avengers, and there’s some cursing Open letter to chicks wearing leg warmers

Am I fat enough to smother a grown man?

Devon: You're looking mighty pregnant. France called. They want their Venus of Willendorf back.Me: I knew we should have just watched TV that night. Devon: I'm probably one of the only people to make a Venus of Willendorf joke. Me: By the way, the Venus of Willendorf is from Austria. Devon: I'm still pretty pleased with myself for making the joke. Me: Yes. I'm very proud of you.

Summary of the week I disappeared

I'm not dead. The fact that this post is here is strong evidence that I am alive. I suppose someone could have killed me and begun impersonating me on the Internet, but seriously, how crazy and paranoid are you? Jesus, get a grip. I was in Boston and then New York for a week with Devon on his business trip. While Devon was in training, I tooled around Boston doing my best to cripple myself, which I accomplished pretty successfully by repeatedly ramming my foot into uneven pavement. I managed to not break anything, because I maxed my CON score when I created my character, and holy shit, I think I lost even some of my hardcore nerds with that one, but if you were looking for the opportunity to chase me down and steal my shit, you missed it. Your window is closed.

Unless you work for the TSA, which managed to steal our shit on both legs of this flight. Denver International Airport stole Devon's Leatherman, which he'd forgotten in his bag, and LaGuardia stole a jar of my friend's homemade peach jam, which should be in my belly but instead is sitting somewhere in a TSA facility, or in some TSA asshole's belly, which makes me even more pissed. Devon might get the Leatherman back. We'll see. But the jam, sadly, is gone.

I'm glad we spend $8.1 billion a year on the TSA. While they've never caught a single terrorist, at least the country is safe from my friend's peach jam.

While I was in New York, my family and friends gave me a baby shower, which was awesome and I can't say enough nice things about the people who showed up (and the people who wanted to be there but couldn't for various reasons). I mean that sincerely. I'm not always a dick.

My yarn addiction be gettin' all crazy up in here

This is some yarn I hand dyed at a class at Fancy Tiger, a yarn-and-fabric shop in Denver. Hand-dyed yarn

I've been told dyeing your own yarn is a gateway drug to spinning your own yarn, which is a gateway drug to owning a sheep farm in Ireland and giving up all contact with the modern world. I'm sure you can see the logical progression.

I learned two techniques for dyeing yarn: kettle dyeing, which involves placing the yarn in a water bath and adding dye to the bath; and hand-painting, which is pretty much what it sounds like.

You can heat set the yarn in a microwave, which is much faster than using a stove or a slow cooker, but if you use dyes that aren't food grade, have a separate one for dyeing. That goes for pretty much all of your supplies.

For materials, check out:

Dharma Trading Co. Knit Picks

I sincerely regret to inform you ...

To the guy on Facebook who asked whether he could get me pregnant: Thank you for your application to be my baby daddy. Due to the overwhelming demand for this position, I must respectfully decline your offer to inseminate me with your seed. While I am sure you produce the highest quality sperm, my uterus is as full as it is going to be at this time.

The applicant chosen for this position had prior experience knocking me up and approached this endeavor with great enthusiasm.

I wish you the best of luck in your future attempts to obtain a genetic legacy. I am certain you will meet with success in finding a willing pair of ovaries to aid you in this task.

Sincerely, Dirty Hooker

Other posts you might like:

Everyone gets a little crotch sweat sometimes Kidnapping gynecologists is not OK I'm like Stephen Hawking -- if Hawking were retarded and had a vagina