mimi smartypants
Seriously, though: what's with the penguins?

just as just


I know I am the only one, but I will sort of miss the NFL replacement refs and their crazy shenanigans. I liked it when they would give contradictory calls at exactly the same time, or peek at each other before making a call at all, like an unprepared kid who can’t keep his eyes on his own paper. I liked when they pronounced “St. Louis” as “Saint Louie” and said things like, “The following play is under review.” (Wow! He can see the future!) There are so many things that are already hilarious about televised football (see below for my caffeine-fueled list), and the bumbling referees were just another addition. But I guess looking at the magnificent physique of Hochuli and the magnificent mustache of Mike Carey will make up for it.

1. Steaming heads.

2. Overblown shit like the majestic orchestral themes and talking to Mike Pereira from the “NFL Command Center.”

3. Although it’s dangerous as hell (tighten your chinstraps, dudes!), I love it when helmets come off because for a minute it looks like a head rolling around out there. OH GOD SOMEONE’S HEAD FELL OFF

4. The names! BenJarvus! D’Qwell! All the various Thigpens and Rices! Quentin Jammer! Kam Chancellor!

5. Players being “activated” (beep boop) or “neutralized” (you KILLED him?)

6. Being reminded, often, that the yellow line is not official. Also that it “depends on the spot.”


I have probably mentioned my ugly kitchen, which is a huge priority on the home-improvement list. Picture crappy plywood cabinets! Terrible laminate countertop! Pink, yes pink, tile backsplash! A strange phallus-shaped center island! A scalloped wooden frame around the window, which I am positive was someone’s labor of love with a basement bandsaw, but which is just insanely awful and MUST GO. We have our contractor all lined up. He has made plans, drawn up an estimate, etc. We will save for a few more months to get extra in the fund for the inevitable modeling surprises, and get started on the Big New Kitchen sometime in the spring or summer.

In the meantime, we have budgeted for a few smaller, cheaper projects, like putting a skylight in the staircase between the first and second floors. The stairs are all enclosed, Chicago-bungalow-style, and it makes for a dark and gloomy journey to our bedrooms. Kitchen contractor guy recommended a skylight/roofing guy, and I am ever so glad he did if only for the high amusement quotient. There could not be a more stereotypically South Side Guy than skylight guy. When I talk to him on the phone I hear bona fide “fugghedaboutits” and the main definite article is “da.” In person, skylight guy has finger tattoos, neck tattoos, and a shaved head. He talks really fast and he…well, he sniffs a lot. This concerned me a bit, because maybe I don’t want a coked-up dude running around my house with a ladder and power tools. But the more I talk to him the more I think he actually has some kind of sinus problem, which I guess could be the RESULT of previous or current nose candy consumption, but my generous nature + several glowing recommendations, from people who are neither South Side stereotypes nor drug addicts, have led to my giving the benefit of the doubt.


The park across from us is overrun with acorns and squirrels. (These things are related.) Nora spent an entire Sunday afternoon out there with her stomping foot and her pocket knife, cracking and peeling the acorns and putting them in rows under a tree, I guess to make it easier for squirrels to become obese. All-you-can-eat squirrel buffet. I love the persistence she applies to every task, no matter how meaningless, and I love the fact that she can make her own fun, but despite her recent cell phone acquisition I don’t yet feel comfortable leaving her over there alone while I go do something more interesting. With a friend it might be okay. Now all she has to do is find a friend willing to do all the mise en place for a bunch of wild rodents.


Today I am snarly and sleepy because of too many beers. Do you get those hangovers that have no physical symptoms except for a severe depressive episode? Hmm my head feels fine and food tastes great! Minor problem, though: I sort of want to lay down in front of a garbage truck. I’m hearing a constant anxious scrunchy-scritch-scritch noise like something in the background of a Thom Yorke solo joint. The landscape is hideously sad, people on the street have dead-black cigarette burn holes for eyes, everything is restriction and suffocation, no fresh air, no light. Am I being dramatic? I think being dramatic is another symptom of this thing. If anything ever makes me stop drinking alcohol entirely (shut your filthy whore mouth!), it will probably be feelings like this one, which curiously only seem to happen after excess beer. Never after wine. Maybe grains really are bad, just like all those tedious Paleo people say (and say, and say).

There is a children’s book called Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel, author of the truly wonderful Frog and Toad series. In one of the odder stories in the volume, Owl decides to make “tear-water tea.” But of course he has to cry in order to make it, so he sits around thinking of sad things. It is a children’s book, so he does not think of hunger or war or baby hippos being orphaned by tsunamis. He thinks mostly of forlorn, forgotten objects—the spoon that fell behind the stove, the book with a page missing, and so forth. Eventually he cries enough to fill the kettle and make his tea.

Nora used to scoff at this, and say that the sad things were not so very sad, and that Owl was sort of a doofus. (The other stories certainly bear this out.) But I feel you, Owl—maybe especially on days like today, but also just in general. I was the kid who never really drew with crayons, but fashioned intricate color-patterns using every single crayon, because I didn’t want the unused crayons to feel bad.  I like to think of my shoes being patient in the closet. I believe that the toaster is pleased to make toast, and that pushing the lever down wakes her up from sleep. I am a nutbag. If you will excuse me, I need to go cry with a fictional owl.

—mimi smartypants, not yet at home.