Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


Of children’s books and cognitive dissonance

Sugar here.  I haven’t posted in a while, but, hey, I’m still here, mostly reading along as Bionic writes.  I’ve been feeling a bit sad myself, these days.  I wouldn’t have thought of our library of children’s books as an emotional minefield, but it turns out that, yes, I can just start crying in the middle of say, Where Does the Garbage Go?  Because why?  Don’t ask kid, it’s too depressing.

Some favorites of the Bean that can really get me down while I try to read cheerfully along:

Bob and Otto: screw you, famous, successful friend

Oh the Places You’ll Go: or not. or we’re just all in the waiting place forever.

Giraffes Can’t Dance: but what if the music you love doesn’t pay enough to support you?

Frederick: isn’t this book about starving to death in winter?

Where does the garbage go? oh god, I don’t want to think about landfills.

Then there are the books that don’t push immediate emotional buttons, but I wonder about the wisdom of reading.  Sure, it’s great that the Bean loves books and loves cars and loves trains and wants to combine those loves. But. Danger at the Dieselworks, which keeps coming home from the library, has the worst subtext ever. (Don’t go hang out with those bad kids on the other side of the tracks. They are scary and mean because they are poor and have nasty stuff.  Also, they shouldn’t try to challenge authority either, because authority always means well…ahem) Does the Bean ever ask me questions about this set up? No!  Instead he wants to know why the Giraffe in Giraffe’s Can’t Dance learns to dance so quickly.  (Because he doesn’t.  He never learns to dance.  Now can we talk about systemic racism?)

I am also bothered by the fact that all books based on the Disney Cars franchise just make no actual sense.  They contain many sentences, but no sentence relates to any other.  Can it be good to read something that looks like a book, but acts like performance art?

Then there’s the work of changing the pronouns in Good Night Good Night Construction Site so that every other vehicle is a girl (come on, would it have been so hard to have even one girl in that book?).  I keep imagining a scenario where the Bean is old enough to read, catches me out, and tells Jackalope, who also loves trucks, that all the trucks in the book are really boys.  I hope he proves me wrong on this one.

Finally, there are books that fall into the category of questionable psychology.  For instance, Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day confuses me.  His day is bad.  It doesn’t get better.  Alexander was published in 1972.  I have this sense that in the 70s gritty, slightly depressing realism was thought to be good for a person, kind of like eating fiber but for the brain. But does this hold up? Do we still need to do this?

Perhaps the 80s were worse: In Gregory the Terrible Eater (published 1980) a goat’s parents encourage him to binge eat so that he will feel terrible and stop overeating.  Not only is this MESSED UP, but, as a former binge eater, I can tell you it won’t work.

It is not all horrors, of course. The Bean recently became enchanted with The Z was Zapped (the only difficult question — what is kidnapping, mommy?) so I am anticipating beginning to reread some books I really loved, like The Garden of Abdul Gasazi.  And the Bean made an awesome book for the Jackalope the other day, for when she needs to be cheered up, he said.  It is called Peekaboo Daniel, has two pages, and features a surprise picture of Daniel Tiger (Jackalope’s favorite) when you open it up.


Updates (actual) 

In list form, because darling Jackalope was up from roughly 12:30 to 4:30 last night and slept thereafter only while nursing.  No apparent reason, and she bit my right nipple so hard at about one that it hurt the whole time.  Even when I tried to ignore her and she came and sat on my rib cage.  Woke up fresh as a daisy, altogether too early.

Item: It appears I do not have thyroid maladies nor anything else weird in the blood test arena.  On the one hand, boo for the loss of a sensible, treatable explanation for the sudden rise in crazy.  On the other hand, yay for not having a serious physical health problem.  Dr. Wonderful says she will send me to a cardiologist if I really want, but that she really, really thinks I am healthy.

Item: It has meanwhile occurred to me that there are two things on top of my chest that could be implicated in the acute (but not agonizing) pains I am getting, namely my ribs and my boobs.  Is it possible some of the physical stuff is rib cartilage gone awry? My posture and so on is awful, and I spent a lot of the summer carrying a heavy baby and huge amounts of beach stuff in less than ergonomic ways.  Or could this be milk duct shenanigans?  As a side effect of My Summer Adventures With New Phobias, I discovered that my nipples no longer spasm at this level of nursing (yay) and therefore stopped taking the nifedipine.  But possibly there is still some spasm action at the duct level.  But this doesn’t really feel like that, so I don’t know.   I might go get a massage; I have a gift certificate and I don’t have to teach on Tuesday, thanks to the large Jewish population of this city. Edited to add: I mean thanks about Tuesday. To be clear, the gift certificate is from Sugar, though I am not opposed to gifts from entire peoples. Interested parties should inquire via email for terms.

Item: Welcome back, ability to safely eat grapefruit.  I missed you.

Item: I have met with Friend’s Therapist twice.  She is nice, even if she does have a slightly annoying poster about how great breastfeeding is.  The kind with 80’s drawings of glowing women.  Very Park Slope.  I want to take red pen to the parts that are overstating what the research shows, which is to say all of it, or at least say that isn’t the least upsetting thing to hand next to a therapy couch, but those minutes are expensive.  

Item: She is not ridiculous or annoying, and she has had one or two insightful things to suggest in terms of what kinds of things bother me.   

Item: I think I have to break up with her anyway.  

When we first exchanged emails, I said I was looking for someone who does CBT. She lists that on her website, but she cautioned me that she doesn’t primarily do that.  At the time, I was so desperate and relieved that someone had written me back that I said I didn’t care, but it turns out I care.  Her method of approaching this problem seems to be 1) techniques for feeling better right at the moment, and 2) talking a lot about the past.  The trouble with 2) is that I already have a degree in writing, which I increasingly think covers a lot of the same ground as this kind of therapy, and that the roots of my current problems don’t seem terribly complex from a literary perspective.  My mother died unexpectedly, suddenly, and alone, leaving me feeling very, very not okay; I subsequently develop a panic problem based around the belief that I am suddenly and unexpectedly dying (poison, heart attack) that is made worse by feeling terrified about leaving my children.  A disgusting amount of education went into making such a simple mind.

(And then there’s all the stuff about being raised with a sick mom, the responsibility/fear/resentment thing people always seem to think I won’t have realized.  I get very, very touchy about that.  Probably because: resentment/protectiveness, but also because yes, I realize that.  This isn’t the first time I am hearing this story.)

The trouble with 1) is harder to explain.  I have noticed that I am more likely to get panicky or have a true attack if I am underslept, hungry, or if I have alcohol, even in small amounts.  Likewise, places and things associated with a previous incident may raise my anxiety level and make another more likely.  Last Saturday night, for instance, we were visiting friends in Boston, where, in March, I thought I was dying from an overdose of my albuterol inhaler.  (Spoiler: I wasn’t. An extra puff isn’t enough to do that.  Moreover, I had not actually taken an extra puff.)  Jackalope had a very rough night, and I was up for most of it.  The next evening, very tired, I made myself a weak Salty Dog and proceeded to come apart at the seams.  

The following Tuesday, I sat down to talk goals with Nice Therapist.  I would like, I said, to be able to have a drink with close friends in a very safe environment without wigging out.  That’s a goal.  It’s a good goal, she said, but some people do need to make permanent lifestyle changes to avoid panic attacks.  

Look, I’m not opposed to the idea that clean living is generally a healthy idea.  Drinking less alcohol and caffeine, getting exercise, all that jazz.  But I’ve been doing that on my own.  I drink very little now.  I have about half a cup of coffee in the mornings.  And I think it’s making things worse.  This kind of anxiety appeasement just seems to make I more real, more scary.  Meanwhile, I see the sphere in which I live getting smaller and smaller, as every step outside the lines I am drawing around myself seems fraught with danger.  I’m terrified to do anything, lest my heart beat.  

Meanwhile, I watched this very convincing Scottish psychologist on YouTube make a case for a different approach.  He sends his patients out with orders to have a panic attack as soon as possible and then, rather than breathing into paper bags, telling themselves that the attack is uncomfortable but not dangerous.  I find this whole idea scary but intriguing, and I’ve been giving it a bit of a go.  It sort of works, and it’s much more appealing than teetotaling.

Item: So I suppose I will give that CBT shop another chance to find me someone at price level Mildy Outrageous. 

Item: I am not looking forward to writing this break up email.  She’s very kind, and sitting around talking about my life history isn’t unpleasant.  I’m just not sure it’s what I most need right now.

Item: What I suspect I could very most use is a whole lot more sleep.  I wonder if about 80% of what’s wrong with me isn’t 4.5 years of broken sleep wreaking havoc on my cognitive abilities.  Certainly it is true that being especially tired seems to undo some kind of executive function in charge of keeping a lid on things; I wonder if something on a grander scale no longer works properly.  

Item: But short of sending the children to boarding school, I don’t know how to make things better.  Sugar thinks I should wean Jackalope.  I’m certainly more than ready to night wean her, if only I could figure out how to do so in a in apartment with the Bean, who has just now started mosly sleeping pretty well.  Even the middling step of giving her a bottle won’t work, as she can’t for the life of her figure out how to use one, a different post for a different day.
Item: on that note, to bed.  In other news, The Bean started pre-kindergarten at our local public school, a subject about which we all have Feelings.  Be sure to tune in next time, when we analyze the roots of my crabbiness about school uniforms.



Update that isn’t 

Are you looking for something coherent?  It is not here.  This is just me, in a suburban mall burger joint, having a coke between orientation at Grad-ma mater (where I co-teach a class in Not My Field) and a faculty meeting.  I should be reading the book we’ve assigned our students as summer reading, and maybe I will in a few minutes.  It’s good, and full of the kind of history I emphatically did not get in any of my schooling.  Here, have a recommendation

We always have the students read a little of this at the end of the semester.  I love the idea of giving it to them at the beginning, as a little heads up that this isn’t going to be the history class they are expecting.  Plus there is just the greatest description of direct action in here, an eat-in, involving the welfare mothers bringing their kids to eat at the casinos (where they worked, whose owners made sure the state’s welfare laws were, to say the least, more favorable to the casinos than to their underpaid workers).  Lemme see if I can find it….

I’m feeling too lazy to type it, so here’s a picture of my favorite part: 

“Be sure not to jump on the craps tables!”  That’s my favorite part.  Can you even imagine being so brave, when the restaurant where you — and your children — have just eaten and tried to pay has called police in riot gear to arrest you?

I love this book.  It’s the kind of thing I wish Malcolm Gladwell would read before writing half-baked tripe like his New Yorker Katrina piece.  I’m tempted to assign that one to my undergrads just so I can hold forth for a good stretch on all the things wrong with it, starting with an apparent vacuum where his knowledge of history should be and a remarkable refusal to address, anywhere in the piece, black people’s right to agency.  HARUMPH.  You don’t want to get me started on the glossing over of everything problematic about firing the entire school system and replacing it with private charters, nor the casual conflation of black New Orleanians with drug dealers, white gentrifiers with “improved” neighborhoods.

Speaking of gentrification, dig this sign for an apartment broker in my neighborhood.  Yeah, that’s a tepee.  

 I just don’t understand how that waste of space got published in the same issue as Jelani Cobb’s careful and convincing Comment piece on echoes of the 1927 flood in Katrina, how social structures transform natural events into disasters. Let alone Sarah Broom’s “The Yellow House,” about why her family still hasn’t been able to rebuild her mother’s house.  Hint: it’s not because they are better off not doing so.  

I am happy to report that This American Life’s Katrina episode is a whole lot better.  I wish it suited my course (freshman comp, but with a focus this semester on how cities are made) better.  I might give them the part about predatory loans designed to strip residents of the Lower Ninth of their property, though.


Doctor’s appointment yesterday was fine.  I love that doctor, as I have said before.  I don’t know how she always seems to have so much time to talk to me, but I’m glad.  As several of you suggested, she thought it worthwhile to run a thyroid panel and, I think I saw over her shoulder, liver.  I’m having a measles titre, too, because Park Slope.  All my vitals were normal.  She said she could order an EKG and give me a halter monitor to wear, but that if this is all panic, more information is often not reassuring.  The old me would have found it reassuring, but this alien in my brain is a real asshole, it’s true.  There’s a Vonnegut (?) line to the effect that even if our brains were incredibly simple, we would still be too stupid to understand them.  The corollary here, it seems to me, is that even a very stupid brain is smart enough to scare the shit out of its person.  

Meanwhile, I have more xanax and instructions to discuss SSRIs with the therapist and call back.  I have not been impressed with what I have read about their use for anxiety, it’s true, but it is also true that this is no way to live.  So I don’t know.

In lieu of a satisfying conclusion to this post, have a picture of be-toweled, tool-wielding Jackalope.



3 a.m. Thoughts

Guess who got woken up by a ConEd truck, had/is having a panic attack, and has to teach at eight?  Two thumbs, also.

The truck was extremely loud.  What is that, I asked Sugar.  Some kind of tank, she said.  TANK TANK TANK TANK.  Clarification: she meant “a utility truck with a tank of some kind on it.” Not the “water carriers for the Tsar” kind of tank.  Oh.  How was I to assume that, on a small, residential street?  I mean.  Which is more likely?  

So now I have tea and what I am trying very hard to tell myself is not a heart attack.

I suppose, dear readers, that it gets old, hearing how crazy I am.  It gets old being this crazy, believe me.  I imagine it is frustrating, seeing me just sit here falling to pieces.  For the record, I am trying to get better, I really am.  Having spent the entire summer trying to get a therapist to call me back, I finally have an intake appointment with one on Thursday.  She doesn’t take my insurance or have a doctorate (which I toyed with adding to my requirements) or specialize in CBT, though she does do it.  

You know what she does really well, though?  Answer requests for contact.  I am at a loss to describe as ethical the many people (and clinics!) I’ve encountered this summer whose voice messages and websites promise a response within X days who simply never call or write back at all.  It leaves a person wondering what exactly she did wrong in that message/email/web form.
In the midst a very slow-paced and frustrating* series of emails with the first clinic that did (eventually) write back, a friend recommended her person, whom gmail pointed out was someone who had written a long and kind response back a hundred years ago when I had posted on the neighborhood parent board seeking PPD information for my back pocket, just in case I got it, what with the birth PTSD, the history of mental foibles, the suddenly dead mother.  (Good thing I dodged that bullet! Hollow laugh.) She responded quickly and kindly.  So here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, I have an appointment with my internist tomorrow (today!) for more xanax and some kind of assurance that I don’t have heart disease, actually.  Naturally, the convergence of these two sensible appointments and the always-stressful start of the school year has led my brain to go completely bananas.

*several emails in, punctuated by too much time: “we have clinicians at the following levels/prices.  Tell me your schedule and what leve you are interested in.” Here are several potential days and swaths of time.  I would like level Spendy or Rather Spendy. EPIC PAUSE OF DAYS AND DAYS. “Hi, I work at level Extremely Spendy.  When are you available?”
IN other news, the kids and I went to the zoo yesterday.  It was hot.  So hot the night herons were sitting in the water on their bony little butts, which just looks silly.



Micro-item Monday

item: we are home.  I wasn’t particularly sure I wanted to be, but it’s okay.

Item: but loud and smelly.

Item: both the local grocery and the food coop are out of celestial seasoning tension tamer tea. This is unacceptable.

Item: I took the kids to target today, the good one, not the hell-mouth nearer us.  They turned out to have these monstrous carts, manifest destiny carts, with room for three kids, which made my two kids extremely happy, all sitting there beside each other, watching the world roll by.  They were wearing their new matching dinosaur crossing shirts, at the Bean’s request.  They bump their bellies together and he says they are DINOMITE BLAST!  

Item: that was a lead in for a cute story about how baby-crazy my son is, but now it is very late.  He is baby-crazy and he loves his sister.  This makes up for a lot.

Otem: autocorrect is fine with that word.

Item: because the Bean loves his sister and I have a nice set of Allen wrenches and, hell, why not? he and I used Jackalope’s naptime today to convert her crib to a toddler bed.  (We also forgot that the monitor, whose receiver is right next to my bed, where she generally naps, was on.  Oop.  Short nap.) She is thrilled and ran around saying, “happy borfday!” for the rest of the day, because we told her it was a half-birthday present.  

Item: and then the weirdest thing happened.  After I nursed her for her customary 100 years tonight without a hint of drowsiness, she sat up and demanded water.  I said I would get it for her if she lay down in bed, and she nodded emphatically.  I came back with the bottle, and a little while later, she fell asleep holding my hand.  NOT NURSING.  This has happened approximately never.  



Thoughts from the road

Greetings from somewhere in Pennsylvania. I can’t be more specific, as the Bean has commandeered the the GPS device, it’s too mountainous for our phones to be speaking to us, and I have allowed technology to get the better of my map skills. Oh, here: mile 253.2 of Interstate 80. Some peculiarly specific mile markers around these parts. Somebody’s brother-in-law has a sweet contract.

Jackalope is sitting in a giant pile of chocolate cookies. And yet fussing! Not my genes, I tell you what.

We are en route to Chicago, where Sugar has pictures in a group show, and then to the the Sugar Family Manse in midMichigan. (Chicago friends, how I wish we could visit you! We will be under house arrest at the Sugar Family Pied-a-Terre, which is to say her late grandmother’s house on the far, far, far South Side.) We are driving because, well, money. It’s good to have a car, though. This would be a real drag on foot with the granny cart.

Summer, man. It’s a pretty good season.

Item: You know those free tourism magazines at rest stops? They have weird depths.



Item: We have continued the beach trips. The Bean is getting more comfortable with the water, in his incremental way. He likes me to carry him out into the water while Jackalope naps, and lately he will sometimes release his legs enough to kick wildly, as long as I grip his upper body to me. His friend S, who is a very strong and brave swimmer, dives into the waves around us while they both laugh. She has the sunniest nature, and they are an age when it does not seem to yet have occurred to them to let their differences in skills and constitution get in the way of their fun.

Item: It is now Saturday, and we are in Chicago. The opening was a real pleasure — in a fancy Mies Van de Rohe building and everything. Jackalope marched me directly to the cheese table, and the Bean got a Sprite after he and I examined all of the architecture students’ models. Most of the gallery guests were (like Sugar) alumni of the Institute of Design and true to type, brain-wise, to judge from their satisfied reactions to the Bean’s vigorous use of his name card to swipe them out of the gallery as they exited the porch. Systems people understand each other.


Also pleasant was visiting with Sugar’s first cousin and his family, which includes two girls, 9 and 5. Isn’t it funny how babies born three months apart are radically different until age 15 months or so, at which point they are functionally the same age? Neighbors of ours have a daughter eight months younger than the Bean, who suddenly became his age when he was three and a half. Likewise, the five-year-old cousin, who was older than the Bean at Christmas, is now his age. The nine-year-old remains amazingly cool. The Bean sat on the sofa next to her, saying hi. Hi, she replied, and returned to her book. They talked dot-to-dots later. Jackalope was beside herself.

Item: Remind me not to let my kids play with the ostensibly nice neighbor here, who helps keep up the lawn and makes generally friendly offers of, for instance, letting the kids come swim in his pool, followed by announcing that the girls — who are FIVE and NINE — don’t have to wear bathing suits. Actually, no need to remind me. I think I’ll remember. Between this and Swamplandia!, which I just finished and recommend highly, I am nauseatingly reminded of the dangers of girlhood, in particular the way you are never quite sure which things are dangers and which are jokes and which might become dangers if you don’t treat them as jokes and the way you are certain it’s your fault for not getting it.

Item: Apparently, Chicago has ended the social promotion of street trees. I assume this is a Rahm Emmanuel thing.


Item: On the topic of failure, I give the Ohio Turnpike website an F minus minus for their lyrical bullshit description of the history of Indian Meadows, the location of a service plaza in the eastern part of the state. It’s named for the redmen who lived there, you see, prior to the white men who, “unlike the red-skinned farmers, […] learned to conserve the soil.” European conquest was pretty much the least healthy thing to happen to the soil since glaciers, but in fairness, it is responsible for bringing to these lands the Gift of Sbarro.

Item: Guess how many hours we’d been with the Midwestern family before the first non-sequitur remark about the racist/awful South?  (Yes, the South is plenty racist.  It is not, however, uniquely racist, and the comfortable assumption on the part of white folks in the rest of the country that it is the home of all bad things perpetuates racism that doesn’t fly a confederate flag (which frankly, has far more power to harm than most of those flag-wavers) and gets on my last nerve.)

Item: My mental health still blows. A very brave friend with very significant head-demons recently noted that she can do all kinds of hard and scary things, yet have a panic attack at the idea of leaving her apartment. We made a list of panic attack triggers, the things our brains have evidently determined to be so dangerous that Attention Must Be Paid. My list included grapes, cinnamon, and bottled iced tea. Also guacamole and every medicine in pill form. Lo, how the mighty Better Living Through Chemistry have fallen! I can’t take an Advil without wondering if I am swallowing cyanide; I wish I were joking. The world seems so thin, so easily broken. I don’t know what’s become of me.

Item: I am, for the record, actively looking for a therapist. Criteria: does CBT, takes my insurance, is older than I am. I have some issues surrounding talking parental death stuff with chipper young people. Possibly unfair, but there you are.

Item: So far I haven’t even gotten anyone to call me back. This does not make me think good thoughts about the profession or humanity in general.

Item: The other things I think would help are sleeping more and creating things. I haven’t figured out how to manage either. Getting hungry makes everything radically worse. Looks like I will be dumpling-shaped for the foreseeable future, as eating my feelings seems far healthier than acting on them.

Uh, item: Not everything is misery. Jackalope is talking up a storm, which is my favorite, “LET’S HAVE ALL THE BABIES” aspect of child development. She calls her brother “Bam” or “The Bam” and our cat, Orson, “Ohrsine,” in a very French way. She can say “paleontologist,” but somehow not “yes.” “I see you, [person or item]” is a frequent announcement along with “wanna [x],” and “no biting,” usually right after biting me. She eats everything with gusto, followed by hurling it around the room with equal vigor.

She has in no way given up the idea that she should be allowed to nurse for any or all of a day’s 24 hours, despite my having officially stopped nursing on demand six months ago, and she’s come up with the most fiendishly clever way to ask: what’s the one thing a child of mine could request that I will always, but always, drop everything to help them with? That’s right: “wanna nap.”

Item: I have fallen for that a lot of times.

Item: The Bean is no less a marvel. He is tall and tan and proves to have a deep love of capoeira. Brooklyn being Brooklyn, we found a group that does lessons for four-year-olds and will give it a try in the fall. He is not a huge fan of the car, but has learned from our road trip with my Aunt Explorer the joys of chewing gum and washing the windows, which take the edge off.


“GUM! No gum,” says Jackalope. No gum for babies.

He remarked the other day how funny it is that everyone in our family has the same color skin, an observation whose logical basis I credit to his magical pre-school of the past year. He’s off to public pre-K in the fall, and even though I think that is the right choice — it’s free and around the corner and full time — it’s hard for all of us not to feel wistful. (He could technically go to his old school for another year, at great expense even for a part-time schedule, but he is demonstrably ready for more class time.) The local school is good, certainly fine for pre-K, but I have to take deep breaths when I think of my baby in a building where police officers run the front entrance. Plus the uniform is ugly, no matter how egalitarian in principle. I had a dream the other night that it was the picture for an article about ugly things.

Update: while I was nattering on, we got ready to leave Chicago for the Sugar’s childhood home in rural Michigan. Then the phone rang with the news that her father’s little brother, who, like the rest of the siblings, lives in suburban Chicago, had had a stroke. So we weren’t going anymore. Then, in the morning, his sister the nurse said no more visitors, as he tries to pull his feeding tube out to talk every time he recognizes anyone. So suddenly we were going again, with Sugar’s parents planning to come back in a week. (It is about a four-hour drive.) Everyone is being very sensible and stoic and Midwestern.

Uncle Little Brother is the family clown, the one who cheerfully submits to being the butt of the joke while making you a Manhattan, who somehow knows the perfect presents for the kids at Christmas, who in the pictures of the (large) family as children is always the one mysteriously in a cowboy costume or dressed for a children’s theatre production of Guys And Dolls, in the deep woods of northern Wisconsin. They say he is likely to recover, and I hope they are right.

Item: We are now in Sugar’s tiny hometown, in the house she grew up in, which is somehow also the very cleanest artists’ studio you ever saw. I’ve gotten used to the place over the years and forgotten how cool it is. I’d take a better picture, but I am sitting with a not-sleeping Bean. Update: too dark. You’ll have to take my word for it. Paintings, prints, sculptures everywhere, yet somehow extremely clean. Lots of books. A large cat named Teddy.

Here is the living room:


The air conditioning is broken, but after freezing my tail off at the Chicago house, my thin, Southern blood is finally coming in handy.

Update: a mighty thunderstorm. The green wet smell of summer camp insomnia.

Item: This is honest to God the sign at the edge of town. The town is too small for a stop light and recently removed its downtown flashing yellow, so you see how this kind of thing could get to emergency levels.


Item: MIL and I went to the new butcher shop at the edge of town — this is big news, as Carl’s grocery closed some time ago, leaving the town with zero food stores that aren’t a gas station. The new place sells great steaks, fifteen kinds of bratwurst (blueberry???), a smattering of produce, and a surprising array of bulk spices. They will also butcher your deer. Savvy business move, which I attribute to the owner’s wife working at the bank. The staff uniform is a camo hunting cap, which matches the wallpaper near the coolers; transactions are observed by a small black bear, a caribou, assorted fish, a fox, several whitetail, and some others I have forgotten. I have taken an immediate liking to the place. Good steaks, too.

Item: It turns out matching pajamas are crazy-cute. “We’re twins!!” says the Bean.


Item: I am supposed to go take a nap. Cheers for now.


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