The Fool-Proof Guide to Failing with Flair

Everything you need to know about getting it wrong.

Category Archives: Flaws

It’s All Fun and Games Until . . .

Image found on by superfightpanda

Image found on by superfightpanda


Some people turn vicious when they get drunk. It’s as if the alcohol floats venom to the top of their personalities resulting in bitchiness, nastiness and/or violence. I am generally a congenial and socially acceptable drinker. My anger floats to the top via technology. And men. But men are not today’s topic. Printer/copier/fax machines, cable companies, and phone service providers are my poisons du jour.

I have an anything-computerized-curse. And a Titan sized anger management problem to go with it. I have spent most of the last two days engaged in a tech-fueled hissy fit. I have sworn my way through multiple calls to my internet service provider (several that mysteriously dropped–go figure), thrown lots of heavy objects around my apartment, and contemplated chucking everything wired and wireless out of my second story window à la David Letterman. My affliction also seems to include a compulsion to use French idioms in my writing. Merde!

It’s not possible to live conveniently in today’s world without computerized gadgets and internet access, but the idea of living off the grid in the backwoods of Montana looks more and more appealing every time I encounter a glitch. Which is frequently. The only thing holding me back is starvation, because I can’t keep a single plant alive, much less a whole garden full, and I’m sure as heck not going to take up hunting. Maybe if I just get a cow, a few goats and some chickens I can live off of eggs, butter and cheese? Perhaps there’s a nice commune or cult somewhere that needs a writer to keep a group memoir in exchange for food? These are the kinds of things I sincerely consider at times like this.

My rage is not always directed exclusively at electronic, inanimate objects. Trash cans and screen doors are also on my shit list, but mostly it’s computers and clueless customer service reps that end up on the receiving end of my frenzies of piqué. I once dropped my lap top on the floor, forcefully, and then told the accidental insurance people that the cat had knocked it off the counter. I did that because Microsoft Word kept quitting on me and I lost about 6 pages of a legal document I had been working on for hours. It was highly justified in my opinion. It wasn’t helpful or rational, but it did make me feel better for a few minutes, until I realized that I had scared my dog so badly she wouldn’t come out of the bathroom.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Microsoft, Comcast, AT&T, Brother and Apple are all out to “get me”. They are manipulative and deceitful. They seduce and entice with promises of faster downloading speeds and a more “connected”, happier and productive life. Then they become arbitrary and disconnected, like bad boyfriends, leaving me alone, frustrated, and wasting hours of my time trying to figure out just what went wrong and how I can make the relationship work again. I want to break up with them all, but there are no better options unless I go join that cult. And I am not religious or prone to easy brainwashing.

Or am I? I read somewhere that super-brands, like Apple, affect the brains of their devotees in the same way that religion affects fanatics’ brains. The same areas light up in response to stimuli of either Apple products or theistic imagery. I’m pretty sure that the sections in my brain related to violence and mayhem would light up if someone gave me an MRI and showed me pictures of iPhones and fax machines. The highly emotional sections of my brain would still react though, making it almost the same thing: obsession and devotion. My devotion is, of course, a devotion to technological animosity. I would call it a love-hate thing, but I only love gadgets because I hate to live without them. Thus my extreme reactions when they refuse to work properly.

I can’t do what I want to do without staying connected via the virtual world, and it will undoubtedly continue to piss me off, so I need to find more productive ways to manage my vexation. I will still probably swear at the useless boobs who pose as customer service reps and technicians because someone working at those companies needs to know they ruined my day, but throwing stuff has to stop. I have a large window in my living room. The copier manual I threw at it two days ago didn’t do any damage, but my iPhone would probably break it and winter is coming. That just won’t do. Maybe I should invest in some boxing gloves and see if my ceiling fan can support a heavy punching bag.

Au revoir for now. With any luck, this most recent episode of oft-interrupted internet service and fax machine Hell will be the last for a while. If you don’t hear from me again you can find me in Montana. You will need a horse and a bloodhound though.

Out to Lunch



For the record, I have never claimed to be mentally balanced. However, someone else’s lack of imagination does not disprove my sanity. Anyone inclined to hurl insults at me should be aware that I have honed the skill of cutting remarks to a fine edge. Calling me “crazy” simply demonstrates the dull wits of those who might attempt to cast aspersions. Even an effort to come up with a bad “your mama” put-down might suggest a bit of verbal inventiveness.

I’m not talking about anyone who laughingly refers to my thoughts and scribblings as “cracked”. I take those comments as compliments. I’m not shooting for intellectual dry-rot. And I don’t think most of you who read my deranged ramblings on a regular basis are inclined to be hateful about my mental health status. This post is not directed at you. I may be nuts, and prone to tart retorts when provoked, but I am not trying to berate or threaten my loyal audience. I love you guys. You put the light in my lexical day and the flourish in my fantasy.

I have a “campaign” with a search engine optimization company that, theoretically, is supposed to provide me with a wider audience. My site stats show me that I am getting lots of “hits” but I’m not sure this SEO has increased regular viewership. Yesterday I considered dropping my account after getting a nasty comment from someone who had obviously been reaped from my advertising efforts. It was only one comment out of thousands of views though, which makes the odds of receiving a lot more spiteful commentary pretty low, so I decided not to pull the plug. I couldn’t figure out how to respond to the comment without posting the thread, but I really did want to give this moron a piece of my mind since he doesn’t have much of one of his own. I don’t know if he will come back to troll my site for a response or if he decided I was too nuts for fruitcake, so this post might offer my only opportunity to quench my retaliative urges.

One of my flaws is getting easily riled by cruelty and stupidity. It’s something I need to work on. A lot. Because sometimes I’m just in a defensive mood for no good reason. I suppose I should welcome the less-flattering comments because it gives me the opportunity to work my natural frustrations out on strangers instead of people I would prefer to keep as friends. Rage therapy of a sort. I should take up yoga again or learn to meditate though, so I don’t let it bleed over into my personal life more than it already does.


Barbie Black Thumb

I did not grow this.

I did not grow this.


No bacon or button pushers today! I woke up feeling fresh and ready to take on a new subject so I spun the wheel of failure and it landed on gardening. Vegetation beware!

You may have already heard that I have a black thumb. I am currently mourning the suicide of my basil plant, the only plant I’ve had in years. My tomatoes (store bought) and mozzarella are lonely now but neither are long for this world anyway. Soon they will join hearts and hands with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil to become a tasty snack. They will all still be a little bereft without their basil brother but they will soldier on. Once they are gone I will mourn their loss as well but I will not live in fear or guilt over inviting more scrumptious tomatoes or creamy, fresh mozzarella into my home.

When I was growing up my mother kept a vegetable garden every summer. I loved to sneak out early in the morning and eat the baby carrots. They were not supposed to be baby carrots. They were supposed to grow up into mature, adult carrots with the help of my mother’s bright green thumb. I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb because I am adopted. At least that’s the excuse I’ve been using and I’m not going to abandon it now. My mother was an accomplished gardener. My father didn’t garden but when he got older he would refuse to mow whole sections of the lawn because that’s where the wildflowers grew. It was beautiful, if a little unkempt-looking, but he was beautiful and a bit unkempt himself so it suited him. I still can’t see wildflowers without thinking about him and his old-fashioned push-mower. I used to accuse him of using it to flatten the lawn rather than mow it. He only found that funny the first 300 times I said it . . .

Sorry. Off topic completely there for a minute. Back to my mother and my black thumb.

At some point my mother figured out that I was not going to follow in her gardening footsteps. She also figured out that any plant living in close proximity to my person had a tendency to die at a young age. When I got to college she would send me care packages with Big Red gum and real licorice. When she came to visit every Spring she would bring my roommates and friends pots of paperwhite flowers. You know. The kind of flower that can grow in a pile of stones or beach glass. She would bring me three-bean salad.

A few years ago some friends asked me if I would house and cat-sit while they went on vacation. I will call these friends J and D. J and D happen to have a whole house full of plants that they also expected me to water while I was there snuggling their three cats, scaring away would-be intruders, and scooping litter boxes endlessly. I told J she would have to call or text to remind me to water the plants. I also warned her that, even with reminders on her part and action on my part, I still feared for the survival of her poor houseplants while they were under my care. Despite my warnings and dire predictions of of death and destruction, J and D decided to leave the plants with me instead of bringing them to a local plant kennel (they have those, don’t they?). They also asked me to watch J’s prize-winning pumpkin plant. Which was growing outside. In the ground. I was beginning to question their sanity. Hadn’t I just told them they might return to find all their plants had been replaced with a hardier, Effie-proof, plastic variety? Who would put me in charge of anything green and growing, especially a prize-winning pumpkin plant?

OK, I’m exaggerating. Not about my plant-killing personality, but about the pumpkin plant. The seeds that J had planted came from a prize-winning pumpkin. A huge pumpkin. She wanted to grow her own giant pumpkins. There were a couple long, flowering stalks when J and D left on vacation and I vowed I would water them daily and send pictures of any progress the plants made. I didn’t say that I would conveniently forget to snap any photos if the plant suffered and died but I’m also not in the habit of photographing tragedy. [At the top of this post you will see a picture of the pumpkin plant in question. I think it was taken the second day I was there because it still looks healthy and pretty.]

J and D were gone for five weeks in the late summer and early fall that year. I was in charge of the house, cats, fish and plants the whole time they were gone. No one broke in. The house did not burn down. The cats were all fed and petted and snuggled. None were missing–though two were considerably fatter–when J and D got home. The fish were all still alive. The house plants, by some startling miracle, were also still all alive. The pumpkin plant? Not so much. The blossoms that were so pretty and plentiful when J and D had left, wilted and fell off after a few days. I thought that might be normal but there were no baby pumpkins to replace the blooms. Eventually the whole plant started to look sick. It knew I was there and had decided to try to give up the ghost. It didn’t manage to completely kick the bucket while I was there but not from lack of effort.

One night, shortly before J and D were scheduled to return home to their cats and dead pumpkin plant, I heard a noise outside. (Keep in mind here that I had been too much of a chicken to tell J and D that their pumpkin plant was a goner. I kept sending them pictures I had taken those first few days and wondering, with them, why there were no actual pumpkins. So sue me.) Anyway, back to the noise. I looked outside and our mutual friend, B, was out there with his van. He had backed it up to the pumpkin patch, unloaded a 300lb pumpkin, and nailed the nearly-dead pumpkin vine to the top of the pumpkin. WOW! I was saved! Of course now I would have to kill B, so he wouldn’t tell, and then explain to J and D that I had just wanted them to be surprised by my exceptional pumpkin-growing skills when they got home. I gave the plan some serious thought but eventually decided that it just wasn’t feasible. No one would ever believe I had grown a pumpkin that big.

I wish I had the whole goddess-of-the-earth thing going on but I don’t. I can’t even keep a basil plant alive on my kitchen windowsill. I’m not sure if I transmit some deadly plant virus, like the Typhoid Mary of green things but I have had to let go of the notion of moving to a remote location and living off the land. I cannot be responsible for a vegetable holocaust.

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