An Open Letter to Glade

Dear Glade,

I thought we were friends. I thought we really had something, but you went and pulled my favorite fragrance. The 2011 limited edition cinnamon chiffon candles were the most glorious candle you ever released and now I have depleted my stash and only have 2½ candles left.  These candles have been my signature fragrance between the months of October and February since 2011. My home smells deliciously of this frothy cinnamon concoction. The smell is heavy enough that it fills my living area, but light enough that I don’t feel overpowered. As I burn my candles, each passing hour brings me both joy and despair as I know our time is coming to an end.

I have done my research, Glade, and I know that I can buy the oils from a seller on eBay. I know that I can buy bottles of the spray as well, but let’s be clear, it is not the same. I have spent hours sniffing candles to find a scent as fabulous as cinnamon chiffon. I dip my nose into jars of cold wax and inhale deeply trying to match the happiness that your cinnamon chiffon brought me.  The feeling has not yet been replicated. Last night I had a moment of happiness when I smelled The Bath and Body Works candle titled Champaign Toast. For a moment I thought this could be the replacement, but alas, it is still not the glory that is cinnamon chiffon.

Glade, you and I have been friends for years. In my mid-twenties I took great comfort in the banana pear candles I would burn. They had a lovely light sent and filled my little apartment with much joy. As a longtime customer I want you to be aware that people like me exist. We enjoy our routines and are most content when our homes smell fresh and inviting. Perhaps, once you release a fragrance you could also list when the limited edition items will no longer be available, so people like me can create a stockpile much like a doomsday prepper.

Thank you,

Heather Carvell

 

PS: Cashmere Woods is good, Glade, but it just isn’t the same and we both know it.

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When You Give a Mouse Napalm

There is a mouse in my house. I found the evidence, evidence that came in the form of extreme mouse dietary issues. I could immediately smell a dank mustiness that I associate with mice, and I immediately imagined a little gray mouse behind our microwave waiting to dash out and murder me with its tiny diseased hands. I waited for DSS to knock on the door and take the children into foster care. This was not the cute little mouse of Christmas ornament lore, no tiny Santa hat with a small block of cheese, this mouse was all fangs and Black Death. I could smell its ill intent.

I found the evidence next to one of the 12 unopened jars of barbeque sauce on the counter closest to the refrigerator. You may ask why I have 12 jars of barbeque sauce and my answer would simply be:  husband. For Trey every day is a barbeque and now that is how I picture the mouse. What if the mouse is a husband, cooking ribs for his friends on a Saturday? What if the mouse poop by the unopened sauce was a sure sign that there is a tiny gross mouse world where tiny gross mice husbands wear cargo shorts and Nike shoes, drink beer and smoke meats? I truly don’t care about this progenitor, I needed that mouse dead.

I cleaned my counters with every product in the house: Pine Sol, bathroom cleaner, Mean Green, Lysol, and vinegar spray. I have used them all until a nice cloud of chemicals rose from the counters like fog from a Stephen King novel. I was satisfied with my cleaning until I reached into a cabinet and knocked a PAM cooking spray lid over and from that lid it rained mouse poop upon my clean counters. It was at this point I developed a rage that could only be controlled by pharmaceuticals. No natural and friendly means of removing this mouse would do, only powerful poison. No catch and release traps for this murderous rage. I needed the kind of poison that made Dolly and her friends believe that Dabney Coleman had died in his office chair. We needed a poison so strong that I would be afraid for my children and animals.

I started with your basic d-Con, three wedge-shaped containers containing tiny blue pellets. According to the overly informative Wal-Mart employee, “You don’t look the type to rip down drywall (he was correct), but sometimes you find dried out mice. These poisons dry them out and make them mummies.” Well, that is exactly what I need! I don’t want to see the mouse or smell the mouse. I want it to die and wither away while I watch reruns of Veronica Mars. PETA is not an organization I will soon be joining. Sure, wanting this animal to dehydrate like mouse jerky is an asshole move, but know what is also an asshole move? This mouse plotting against me in its sleep, total asshole move.

Three mouse poison wedges didn’t seem enough. I needed something more. That more was a box of poison covered with skulls and crossbones. In fact, there are so many skulls and crossbones on the package it may have been designed by Hot Topic and sold to me by a girl with kohl eyeliner and a Dandy Warhols shirt. I picked up the new solid blue sections of poison with a paper towel and threw them behind furniture. I was like a morbid flower girl spreading cubes of death. I was Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now.”

Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that?

Lance: What?

Kilgore: Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that.

Kilgore: I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours.

We are a week out from my finding the mouse evidence. After two days I stopped finding the droppings which had become the same blue as the poison. I assume the mouse is dead, but that hasn’t stopped my paranoia. I glimpse something moving and I jump out of my skin. If my hair touches my face I know that I have been transported to the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie finds a mouse in her bed and calls Aleksandr Petrovsky to come and save her. Aleksandr, really? He was never a good fit for Carrie even if he did help with the mouse. A shoestring is now a tail and I become Augusten Burroughs murdering a mouse in his bathroom in Magical Thinking.

I cannot deal with rodents on top of the stress of everyday life. I am ill equipped for such thing. I once had someone drive 15 miles to remove what I thought was a dead mouse from my room. It was actually just dog hair reflecting from a Playboy magazine, but I was 100% sure it was a mouse playing dead and planning an attack. Again, I am ill equipped for such things.

Tonight when I clean the kitchen I will hear “Ride of the Valkyries” playing faintly and I won’t believe that I am over reacting at all. As much as I hate that little asshole mouse he also helped me write almost 900 words. So, shout out to that hopefully dead dehydrated mouse in his tiny cargo shorts and Nikes.

My Words Need Viagra

I am a NaNoWriMo failure. This month I was going to sit down and write a novel; the goal of the program is 50,000 words. I signed up and created an account. I choose a genre and created a short idea of what my book would be about. I was ready to go. The world, or at least close friends, would be forced to read my 50,000 words about anxiety and bad decisions. The book would be a somewhat autobiographical account of a woman nearing her 40th birthday.

I never wrote a single word. As of the writing of this blog post it is November 10. I suppose I could try to catch up, but I am really discouraged at this point. I have been playing a little blame game trying to make excuses for why I haven’t been writing, not just not writing the novel, but not writing in general. What if I have already run out of things to say? Maybe we have a limited number of words in us and I have used most of mine up.

Depression probably plays a part in my lack of writing. The holidays are coming in fast: Thanksgiving, Mom’s birthday, and Christmas lead to a general sense of “bah humbugness” in our house. Work has been busy lately and at the end of the day I feel like I have no more words to give. Saidee has been sick. School has been consuming with an online class I’m taking. All of these are excuses for why I haven’t been writing, but they aren’t good excuses I know that.

If I am not capable of writing 50,000 words in one month, I could surely keep the blog updated with a once a week post. But to be honest I am having a problem with that as well. On my phone I have a list of blogs I have started and not finished.

  1. NoblePark and the magnificent haunted house.
  2. That time a boyfriend accidently caught my pubic hair on fire.
  3. The illegal purse trade or that time Kara and I were pretty sure we had entered an underground sex trade organization.
  4. Am I a bad feminist because I tell my children to not drink at parties?
  5. That time I pierced my vulva.
  6. That time I think my dead Grandpa talked to me.

I have ideas; I am just currently lacking the ability to get them on the page. What if I am word impotent? What if I can’t get the words up anymore? What if my words are sitting in matching bathtubs and holding hands while looking at a scenic view? Do other people feel like this and worry?

This is a blog I write for me as an outlet and for my friends for their entertainment. How much pressure must it be to actually write for a living? In a perfect world one of the pitches I send to xojane.com (first person and real life experiences, hell yes, please) would be picked up and I would start writing freelance and be a beloved commentator. However, this is not a perfect world and I am attempting to write 750 words on how I have nothing to write about. This is a sure sign that I am trapped in a strange Seinfeld-like world where nothing is really something.

So to recap: I failed at NaNoWriMo. I haven’t had a good blog post in a while. I am in a slump. I let my clothes sour in the dryer (that was not part of the blog post, but they smell of sour hell and you should know). I will now put on my Lane Bryant big girl panties and attempt to get over myself.

Thank you for listening to this pity party.

Love, Heather

PS: I didn’t hit 750 words, better luck next time.

me eating something

Until I am able to give you a better post please enjoy this photo of me eating.

Zombies in Jodhpurs

As of late I have been reading a lot. Not books, articles, because I am grossly unaware of the world around me. I have read articles about the Weiner/Franzen/everybody feud, and deduced that Franzen is a giant douche. Who calls out Salman Rushdie for using Twitter? The guy lives with a bounty on him, let him use 140 characters without taking crap for it. There have been articles about fat acceptance and health and a dozen articles about rape. One article was about a professor who doesn’t teach female authors except one short story by Virginia Wolfe. And really it was a short story, so does he even count that as literature? Two articles were about voting fraud, and another was about a cold case that was recently solved. This has been a depressing venture, and it makes me feel too much. So today I am blogging about what I feel is an important topic – zombie pants.

I am an avid watcher of The Walking Dead. I have never read the books, although they are on our book shelf. So, the twist and plot turns are still surprises for me and I don’t feel bogged down by the “it didn’t happen that way in the book” mentality. It is a good show with lots of drama and action. There are a couple of things that drive me crazy and one of those things is the way the zombies are dressed.  If I am to believe that a zombie apocalypse has occurred, it would be safe to assume that many of those zombies would have no pants on or be in some state of undress.

Let me start by saying that this zombie pants fixation I am currently suffering with is strictly within The Walking Dead world.  In this world, an unknown pathogen/virus has infected the human race. We do not know the origins of the illness, but we do know that everyone is infected and it may lay dormant in the brain until a person dies. At that time of reanimation, the virus would reactivate the brainstem, so the reanimated zombie would have no higher mental functioning. Zombies do not have problem solving skills (this will be important later). The original outbreak seems to have started with flu-like symptoms that progressed fairly quickly. When I am sick I am generally pants-less. I want to be as comfortable as possible, and not having pants on is the way I am most comfortable.  In theory thousands of people were at home with fever and body aches but somehow remained fully dressed.  Nope, I am not buying that. There were patients in the hospital, including Rick himself, who would have been dressed in hospital gowns.  Want to know what you normally don’t wear with a hospital gown? Yep, a pair of dungarees.

Dependent also on the time that you were overtaken by the pathogen it is safe to assume that people were asleep when they died and reanimated. Guess what I don’t sleep in. Yep, trousers. It is safe to assume that people died/reanimated in the shower. Guess what you don’t wear in the shower. Yep, chinos. I have showered in socks, however. We see the zombies in suits, jeans, overalls, cords, blue jeans, and a shocking amount of Laura Ashley dresses, but I cannot recall ever seeing a zombie in a pair of tighty-whiteys a la Walter White.

Another issue I have about the show is that a zombie would not have the power to problem solve. The only thing kicking up in their noggins is the brain stem. So, a zombie trapped in a room would not have the power to find the door, he may happen upon the door, but if he was facing a wall he would continue to walk into the wall.

Zombies cannot climb stairs.

They just can’t. A few years ago I broke my leg pretty badly. I was in a cast for a few months, and in all that time I never figured out how to step into my house. I was incapable of figuring it. I would hop from my car to the door where I would than throw myself into a waiting wheelchair. I would like to believe that I am slightly more intelligent than a zombie. There is some possibility that if a bunch of “walkers” fell into a stairwell, a zombie could walk over them while standing up, but it seems unlikely. Something else that drives me crazy is when the undead are walking in the woods they make almost no noise and are unsusceptible to changes in terrain. The point (if there is a point) is that I dislike when the undead show more social constraint and grace than me. But soon on a Sunday night I will be perched in front of my television (without pants on) to watch Rick and Daryl fight the good fight. I am a slave to my television. I may even be the pants-less undead.

In Defense of Autumn or Pumpkin Haters Gonna Hate

I have seen them lately: fall haters. They are lurking around social media posting memes about yoga pants and sweatshirts. They are on Pinterest, right now, turning their noses up at the white chocolate cinnamon pumpkin latte as we speak. “Ugh,” they say, “Can we wait until at least October before we start with the pumpkin?” My answer is, “No, fuck you; I want my damn pumpkin now.” And if I so choose I will drink my white chocolate cinnamon pumpkin latte while singing a Christmas song and decorating my house with festive gourds. I may drink my white chocolate cinnamon pumpkin latte while singing the national anthem; we just don’t know the craziness that will happen when I finally get my first pumpkin fix of the season. I am one of the pumpkin people. I truly love it, and my friend Rachel is the one who brought me on the pumpkin bandwagon. She brought me a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie to work one day and I never looked back.

Even before pumpkin-infused everything, fall has always been my favorite time of year. Fall means no more sweating. Fall means new school supplies and the delicious hunt to find the perfect Trapper Keeper. Fall is new clothes and blue jeans so dark that your fingernails, underpants, and thighs are indigo, almost the same color as a plump blueberry or the night sky. Fall is driving through neighborhoods with dads and kids raking leaves into ditches. Every one of these things brings me back to living in Farley in the fifth grade. In the fifth grade I wanted to own a blue jean jacket more than I wanted almost anything; it was the thing to have. I wanted to roll the sleeves up and cover the front with buttons of my favorite bands and funny sayings. These buttons would open doors for me. They would let the world know just how cool and original I was. People would see my decorated jacket and clear the way for me. Other girls would want to emulate my style. This denim jacket was going to change my life – that is if my parents ever decided to buy me one.

That denim jacket wasn’t a dream for long. One fall afternoon I rode home with a stomach full of worry. The teacher had given us our mid-term grades and it wasn’t good. I had a D in math, my lack of interest and ADD had won, multiplication was the big loser. My anxiety increased as the bus rumbled through the neighborhoods. Each bus stop brought me closer to my impending doom. The squeak of the breaks said, “Mom is going to be mad.” The release of the hydraulics as the door opened said, “They are going to be disappointed in you.” The bus kept moving and my fear grew. When the bus got to our house, I exited slowly trying to buy myself time and a plan. I was the James Bond of lying, the best, surely I could find a way around this D.  Mom met me at the door with a denim jacket in hand. I broke down and cried; I loved the jacket but she needed to return it. I confessed my D and cried until my eyes were red and my nose was snotty. Mom, of course, acted disappointed and said she would tell Dad, but I could keep the jacket. That jacket had lost some of its mojo, and it didn’t make me one of the cool kids, but it and that day are a firm and unwavering autumn memory.

That is what fall is to me, redemption.

With each passing season I get to shake off the sins that I committed and start fresh. Starting at the beginning of September I look ahead to football games and cheering for our town’s high school team. Although I hate being around that many people, I get excited for the kids’ excitement. Every year I wait for that one night where the air smells like burning leaves. On that night, I inhale deeply and then hold the air in my lungs. I let go of summer in that moment. Until I smell the leaves, I will fill my Pinterest boards with soups, sweaters, and pumpkin latte pictures. I will obsess about that moment when I turn my heat on and the house is filled with the smell of dust burning off the coils. I will continue to think about coats, jackets, and sweaters. I will wait patiently for a cup of hot chocolate and a bowl of chili. That is autumn to me, a season filled with dark cool nights, and want.

Somewhere at the beginning of March I will start to want flip flops and skirts. I will have a day when the urge to put my hands in potting soil is so overwhelming that I almost can’t control myself. I will want long days, thunderstorms, and the sound of lawn mowers to consume me. I love how our wants and needs change with the season. Sometimes we have to wait for the planet to give us exactly what we need.

To read the absolute best thing ever written about fall, follow this link:

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/its-decorative-gourd-season-motherfuckers

Advice I Gave to My College Age Daughters

This world is a tough place. Sometimes it is the bully tripping you as you walk between the rows of desks in the sixth grade. You trip and your face flushes with embarrassment. Other times the world is the loving mother making you brownies for after school, without even knowing a bully had tripped you. This ebb and flow is what makes life both fantastic and frustrating. When Kiaya went to college I had the idea of leaving her Post-It notes all over her dorm, gentle reminders of advice that I had given her over the years.

The first note stated: Do not do anything that would make me call you an asshole. While other parents may give specific advice, I preferred to cover everything with a simple rule; I started using this personal golden rule when they were very young. I simply told the girls to do nothing that would make me think they were an asshole. I thought of this as a blanket statement as it covered almost everything:

Talking too loud on your cell,

Standing in a busy walkway,

Loudly cursing,

Being those asshole kids who put their hands in each others back pockets,

Being racist or homophobic,

Flunking out of college.

My asshole Post-It covered all that with one simple sentence.

Kiaya’s second Post-It stated: Always wear a cardigan. It will make you look cool. This note worked on multiple levels. First I am mildly obsessed with a casual coolness that I feel I lack. Cool kids wear cardigans; it is just a fact of life to me. Right now open a Google search and type “cool people wearing cardigans”; one of the people will be The Dude from The Big Lebowski. I personally can think of no one cooler than The Dude, his coolness traipses time as even my five-year-old sees Jeff Bridges and says, “Hey Momma, look it’s The Dude.” My thought was if Kiaya feels awkward (and if you know her, you know she does) she could wear the coolness of a cardigan as a shield. The other thing is that a cardigan will keep you a magic comfortable temperature, neither to hot or too cold nor too heavy or light. Cardigans are the perfect accessory.

My third Post-It said: Do not become an alcoholic trollop. College is a time for living and experimenting and I get that, but I also know that dependency can be a bitch. I do not live in a world where I think my children will never have sex or try alcohol. I just don’t want either act to be consuming. The Post-It could have read, “Please, don’t be the hung over girl doing the walk of shame with her panties in her purse,” but that seemed rather long.

I left Kiaya other notes as well, one simply said, “Kiaya, Stop talking. Love, Mom.” If you know her, you know that it was good advice.

Selena left for college the following year and she too received Post-It advice. While both of my children are intelligent (naturally – hah!), Selena has a sense of whimsy while Kiaya is very linear in her thought process.

For the first note I wrote: Condoms are cheaper than diapers. It has been my personal goal that my children get past the age when I got pregnant without being pregnant. Kiaya sailed past hers with no problem. Selena has now passed hers as well and I couldn’t be happier. Babies are expensive and easier to prevent than to care for. I want my daughters to have experiences that I didn’t get to have. Go to school, travel, have adventures, and do it without having a baby attached to your hip is the message of that particular Post-It.

Selena’s next note said: Boys will rape. Never drink from a glass a boy hands you. I have seen Veronica Mars so I feel I am an expert on date rape drugs. Of course, I do not believe that all boys rape, nor do I believe in victim blaming, but I think that being diligent about your surroundings is important. Walking in pairs and letting someone know where you are is just a smart way to live on a college campus. Really, it is a good idea for almost every living situation. My current parenting advice is to forbid my children from traveling to India, as India has been a little rapey recently.

The third note stated: Only I know everything, remember that. This was written tongue in cheek because Selena has a history of thinking she knows everything. She was my very own Clarissa Explains It All. I wanted Selena to know that it is okay to take advice from other people and it is okay to admit that you don’t know or understand something. It is normal and how we grow as people. Accept input, if you don’t like the advice you receive, discard it.

Just like with Kiaya, I left Selena other notes as well. One simply said, “Selena, Shhh…not so loud. Love, Mom.” If you know her, you know it was good advice.

Saidee leaves for college in 13 years. I need to start working on her advice now.

The Commute

She wore her anxiety like a name badge: Hello, my name is self doubt with occasional loathing and sadness. But really, deep down, Rachel wasn’t sad, morose, or languishing; she was just anxious. Sometimes she thought her blood felt like driver ants consuming her insides like they would cattle in an African village. When she thought of that comparison she smiled a guileful smile knowing that she was a pretender. The only reason she knew of driver ants was from an Oprah Book Club book she had read in her twenties. In the car on her morning commute Rachel would think back to the moments that she felt defined her; moments that if she had made a different decision would have possibly altered her life. It was her own personal butterfly effect and she knew that it was senseless.

On this morning drive Rachel flicked at her wedding band. A steady rhythm of nerves: flick, flick, flick, her thumb against the white gold band. A physical manifestation of her inner agitation. The radio played; the morning radio show did their ridiculous voices and callers called to discuss the topic on hand. The air conditioner was on three of four and blew her hair. For a split second Rachel stopped the flicking to pretend her hair was being blown by fans at an InStyle photo shoot. In the fantasy would be her smiling face, her hair shoulder length and artfully wind blown. On her thin wrists would be Jennifer Myer bracelets, each bracelet as dainty as the women in the picture. In this fantasy she was thin, dainty, and graceful, with the kind of beauty that was accepted by other women. She had originally found popularity as a twitter personality and eventually became a regular on Jimmy Fallon, who had offered her a cameo in an upcoming movie.  Another caller to the radio show breaks the fantasy and she moves on to thinking about her decisions. How many had been hers to make and in how many had she been just a silent participant?

The first time she had sex had been a misunderstanding; an ill attempt at talking dirty had led to the quickest sex ever on record. Sure, she could see how it happened. They had been making out for what seemed like hours, mostly naked and pressed against each other on a comforter that was beige with small pink roses.

“I love you,” he whispered.

“I love you too,” she whispered back.

Rachel was sure that more needed to be said.

“I wish you could be inside me,” she decided to add.

And with that her virginity was gone, him on top and pumping. Her body was scootched off the side of the bed. With the last pump she could see the digital clock; it read 3:48. Her virginity was gone in under a minute. Like any good control freak, the next logical step was to make him sit with her and read a pamphlet on teen sex and pregnancy. Which, of course, he did with no complaint, mostly because he was in love and a little sticky. Her accidental deflowering aside, sex was something that Rachel thought about often on her commute.

Now that she had recounted the accidental deflowering, the flick, flick, flick of her ring once again started and Rachel marked that experience into the her-mistake-to-make category. She had said the words that led to the act. This one was a clear mark in her column. The recalling made her smile; virginity was there to be lost and really there was no regret here.

The radio was pulling a phone prank and it made her skin crawl. The idea of intentionally making someone uncomfortable and angry made little sense. It seemed mean, but the intended victim always laughed in the end with an added, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Flick, flick, flick went the thumb against the wedding band as the pre-recorded laugh track played behind the gag. The insistent laughter saying, “don’t be uncomfortable; it is all in good fun.”

Every morning Rachel commutes and every morning she dissects her life events. In fourth grade she cried when her paper wasn’t perfect and the teacher mentioned it to the class. In the sixth grade she gave a boy her bracelet so he would like her. Each individual act probed for a better solution. This was her commute.

The idea behind this post is that I am interested in the small amounts of time that this character spends rethinking her decisions and fantasizing about what could have been. How many small, thirty minute periods, are lost to rehashing our old life events?