Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm on Vacation, Including from My Hobby

My laptop and I are currently attracting all of the insects in Texas.

We're sitting outside at one of the few electrical outlets that fall within the narrow beam of internet connectivity at the 40th annual Kerrville Folk Festival, surrounded by guitar-playing hippies. Neither I nor that Wikipedia link are any good at explaining why it's so wonderful to camp in the chigger-infested Hill Country heat and listen to banjos at 3 a.m., so just understand that I'm doing those things instead of posting this week.

Until I get back next week, you can spend the time thinking about the lunch I watched someone eat today: Peanut butter straight from the jar, a brick of dry Ramen noodles (Oriental Flavor), and a tepid can of SpaghettiOs. I'm also pretty sure I saw him debating whether to use the spoon on the SpaghettiOs while it was still half full of peanut butter.

Camping. Yes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Naked Time

I am a big fan of clothes.

That’s not to say that I enjoy shopping for them or have any inkling of fashion sense, but rather that I staunchly advocate wearing clothing as frequently as possible.

That old stage fright technique of picturing the audience naked has always struck me as horrifyingly bad advice. If you already have a large crowd of potentially intimidating strangers, how could a dose of nudity possibly make anyone involved more comfortable?

The most unsettling thing about the underclothed is the way they tend to crop up unexpectedly, just when I’m feeling safe. One reason I’m fond of winter, along with the increase in available baked goods, is the drastically reduced chance of sudden exposure to Speedos.

Admittedly, I knowingly set myself up for an above-average risk of surprise naked people by belonging to a gym with locker rooms. Then again, this is not the YMCA. The showers all have individual stalls, and there’s a row of little curtained cubbies for changing clothes.

That’s why I was so startled to walk into the room one day and discover a woman lounging against the wall, carrying on a phone conversation while very, very naked.

I suppose conversations like this are the reason that video phones still aren’t very popular. I couldn’t help wondering if the other party knew where this woman was, and I felt a strong urge to help clarify the situation.

What struck me was the mundane nature of her conversation. I’m pretty sure it could have waited, at least for underwear. In the hierarchy of phone call importance, some admittedly rank above clothing, but not the majority. However, perhaps this poor woman does not have an internal gauge for nudity-appropriate conversations. If that’s true, she can use this helpful chart:

For any of you in the UK please substitute “trousers” where appropriate—or don’t, since that kind of pants are also pretty vital to success in the wider world.

Extra Credit: Variations on a theme, old, medium, and new.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Eyeball Adventure, or Another Reason to Hate Wal-Mart

There’s a tree outside my bedroom window.

Actually, for most of the winter “outside” hasn’t been the most accurate description. High winds last fall shredded my window screen, and since then I’ve been getting better acquainted with the nearby nature.

Last week, however, I finally accepted that it is okay to ask Maintenance to fix things sometimes, and now I have new screens. I think the tree misses our friendship, though, because it keeps trying to reestablish contact. For the last several nights, I’ve been discovering a fine spray of purple leaf litter blown across my pillow and down between the sheets.

I can’t find the hole, though, and I like keeping the window cracked, so every time I just go to bed and trust my arboreal companion not to shed at me too much. I guess that means it’s my fault that I woke up this morning with an entire branch inside my left eyeball.

I pawed at my scorching cornea until I had a really good cryface going.

Then I appealed to my roommates for eye drops, but none were to be found. I even fashioned an eyecup from a foam egg carton and tried to wash the interloper out, but all I got was water down my shirt to match the mucus all over my face.

The roommates left for work while visions of permanent optical scarring danced in my head.

Luckily, my parents live in the same town and are really good at answering distress calls. I called home and, while I worked on scaling down my panic enough to put on shoes, my mom drove up in her Minivan of Mercy.

She took me to the nearest optometrist, where we met the person I have chosen to blame for all my suffering.

It turns out that Wal-Mart’s optical department doesn’t open until 9:00. We decided to wait, since it was already about 8:30, and I did a pretty good job of not looking at stuff or dripping snot on anything.

Finally the receptionist who sells you miniature screwdrivers and clip-on sunglasses arrived. I didn’t check her heart rate or anything, but I’m pretty sure she was both present and conscious for the following conversation:

Let’s fast-forward fifteen minutes. Fifteen looong, bench-huddling, waiting room minutes. I could see a little better, but blinking still stung and I was anxious to make it to work instead of burning up my leave hours in Wal-Mart. Keep in mind that, at this point, my mother and I had been sitting ten feet from the receptionist, discussing eyeballs, for a quarter of an hour.

Possible reactions to this news:

Polite Response (suitable for nuns, Peace Corps volunteers, and other people who are legitimately as nice as I like to imagine myself)

Reasonable Response Under the Circumstances (suitable for someone who has been waiting an hour for an emergency visit to this weekend-loving doctor)

Actual Response (neither suitable nor effective)

The good thing about unanticipated public bawling is that it’s pretty useful against massive flakes of tree dander. By the time we got back to my mom’s car I had washed away both the leaf and my dignity, and I was ready to go to work and pretend that my face looked like that because of allergies.

The day turned out all right after that, though. This success is mostly thanks to my mother, who, as she took me back to my apartment, discovered a stash of leftover Valentines chocolate in the car console.

We can learn three lessons from this story, as follows:
  1. Leaves are not as innocent as they seem.
  2. Some people really suck at their jobs.
  3. Moms can fix a lot of stuff, especially when they augment their powers with chocolate.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Special Bonus Anniversary Double Post Spectacular!

Now that it’s technically May 10th because I still haven’t gone to bed yet, Clarafication is officially a year old!

Many thanks to everybody who’s been reading during that time. For those of you who have come on board recently, here’s a special look back to my humble early days…

…when I was just a girl with some free time and the face of a newt. I’m really glad my elbows have filled in since then—it makes typing easier.

In case you’re wondering, appropriate one-year blogiversary gifts include worldwide fame and tremendous quantities of money. I will also accept cake.

An Open Letter

Rot, Esq.
Enemy of Life and Goodness
1111 All Over Everything in the Kitchen Rd.

9 May 2011

Dear Rot,

I understand that you are responsible for certain things that I enjoy, such as blue Stilton cheese and a planet that is not shoulder-high in undecomposed carcasses. You’re also the inspiration for the words “putrescence” and “fester,” both of which are eminently satisfactory. But my appreciation for a small selection of your oeuvre does not mean I want to invite you for a sleepover and stay up braiding your hair. Your hair is gross.

Actually, all of you is gross. Just look at yourself: Spores. Fungus.* Mildew. Smut. Aren’t you disgusted with your way of life? Do you really think people want to meet someone like that when they break the skin on an orange or dig down to the bottom of the grapes? This is no way to make friends.

Also, do you have to affect every single thing in my kitchen at once? It’s jarring to go from “Don’t you want another pound of cantaloupe with your grapefruit?” to “I guess there’s still canned peaches.”

And the fruit flies were really uncalled for.

While we’re talking here, I do not find it clever when you sneak into bananas in the guise of “overripeness.” I know those soft, brown patches are your minions making way for your arrival. Could you rein in their enthusiasm a little bit? These bananas were so green when I bought them that I wasn’t even going to try eating them for another three days, and now you have them looking like a stack of old boots. I do not appreciate this behavior. My coworkers are refusing to eat any more banana bread.

Furthermore, isn’t the produce enough for you? Why do you have to attack my bread, too? I even find you sneaking up the corners of the fiber muffins I made, and no one else I know will touch them. It’s like you are the personal enemy of my bid for healthy eating. Everything wholesome I bring into the kitchen falls into your rapacious clutches before I can say “avocado sandwich.” If you could find a way to make water decay, I'm sure you would do it.

I would stay and insult you some more, but I have to go find the EZ Cheez and Oreos. I hope you’re happy.

Your victim,


P.S. I’ve just learned that you are now residing in the ceiling of my hall closet. If I have previously said anything to make you feel welcome, please hear this: STOP VIOLATING MY POSSESSIONS AND GO BACK TO THE COMPOST HEAP WHERE YOU BELONG!

*Note to humans: Do not do a Google Image search for this unless you are fond of Lamisil ads. I threw up in my mouth a little.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Follow me by email!

For those of you who have been asking (and trust me, the clamor from my tens of fans is constant), it's now possible to get automatic email updates every time I post something new!

It's great for me because now I can invade your personal inbox space over and over again if you make the mistake of inviting me in just once. I'll be like that coworker you talked to at the coffee pot one time when you were avoiding a phone call, and now you can't even go to the bathroom without getting an update on her cat's hemorrhoid treatment.

You can sign up by entering your email in the little box in the sidebar. This application is published by Blogger (the same people who host this whole site and are ultimately part of Google), so you're not giving your contact info to any weird third party. Though you're welcome to send me your checking account number and mother's maiden name if you so desire.

Usage Note: It looks like email is winning out over e-mail as the common form. I'm used to using the hyphen, but now I'm starting to feel outdated, kind of like the former English department secretary at my university who used to write 'phone with an apostrophe to indicate that it was short for telephone.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


This happened at my office last week. That's what I get for deviating from my green shirt uniform.