I met a superhero.

Let’s think about some of the qualities of superheroes.

  • They become heroic as a result of a mishap or suffering. (Spider-Man, Captain America)
  • They work to help people – especially people they’ve never met. (Wonder Woman)
  • They develop tools to enhance natural abilities and learn new skills. (Tony Stark, Batman)
  • They’re really, ridiculously, tremendously smart. (Bruce Banner, Susan Storm)
  • They’re just plain awesome. (Hawkeye)

You might remember my Walk for Hunger a few years back. I was participating in a program called SuperBetter, trying to overcome all kinds of self-doubt, depression, inertia, and aimlessness. After several smaller personal victories, I registered for a 20-mile fundraising walk and shocked myself to the core when I completed the full distance.

I have a previous post about that experience, which the creator of SuperBetter, Jane McGonigal, asked for permission to use during the writing of her book “SuperBetter.”

Dr. McGonigal’s book came out this past fall. I follow her on Twitter (because I am a creepy stalker) and while I had preordered it, things had gotten so crazy in my work life that I had forgotten when, exactly, it was going to be released. After months of three-hours-round-trip commutes, nine or ten or thirteen hours of work per day, and discovering an unhealthy relationship with working from home (two in the morning is not working time), I was drained. Some people are capable of functioning with long hours and little sleep; I am not one of them. Where my sister manages her career and family and high level of exhaustion and still manages to be put together and fierce, my inner 90-year-old demands eight hours of sleep minimum and Tired Meg gets waspish and snappy with tunnel vision and dark circles no makeup has ever successfully covered (I gave up trying years ago). 

So it was with blank confusion that I registered the knocking on my door one morning at 6:30. I was running late and about to hop into the shower when it happened. I confess to a moment of standing in my bathroom, foot raised, completely unable to place the sound.

My upstairs neighbor had been the one knocking. “This came for you last night,” he told me, and handed me a small box.

Continuing the theme of inability to process anything, I stood in my apartment for a while simply staring down at the package. When I finally gathered the wherewithal to open it, what greeted me was bright and striking and startling. I stared down at the cover. Then, “Wait. She messaged me about this. I wonder if I’m in here.”

I was late for work that day. 

There are many others like it but this one is mine.


(For reference, I am page 300 in the hardcover edition.)

A handful of days later, I was scrolling through the websites of some of my favorite local haunts when I noticed a special event being hosted at MIT: a conversation with Jane McGonigal followed by a signing.

When was the last time something in your life was so abundantly straightforward?

I went directly from work, my copy of the book tucked into my bag, to the venue. I sat in one of the first few rows of the auditorium, on the very edge. I stared at the walls, my fingers, the frayed ends of my hair, wondering what I should say to her if I got a chance to say anything. Wondering if I’d be arrested if I threw myself at her and cried. Wondering if anyone else in that room had the same dazed, excited, complete disbelief I had roiling in the pit of my stomach.

And then Jane and a staff member walked in. There was idle chatter, there were last minute technical adjustments, there was an assistant walking around with a bag filled with letter tiles. Jane and the event host sat down and had their discussion. We played Massively Multiplayer Scrabble (I was unable to find to a “word” near the front of the auditorium that needed my S in the third round but I gave it the old college try). There were questions and answers. And then, suddenly, the talk was over and it was time for the book signing.

As I’ve mentioned nineteen times already, I had my copy of the book in hand. While a large portion of the audience went to purchase copies from a table in the lobby, I was able to slip directly into the signing line and try to keep myself calm. An assistant came down the line, wrote everyone’s name on a sticky note and placed it in their books, and moved on. It became clear to me that this line was going to try to move efficiently.

Unfortunately, the event organizers planned without me. I am sincerely sorry for disrupting their efforts.

I was about fifth in line and when yet another event assistant slid my book in front of her to sign, I blurted out, “Jane…I’m Meg of the 20-mile walk.”

There was a moment when we both paused, her Sharpie in the air, my breath held, two or three puzzled assistants exchanging looks, and then the information processed. I processed that I had spoken at all; she processed who I was. Then she started making a sound that I’m not sure I’d ever actually heard a human make before, an inhalation in a tone of realization and surprise. The assistants looked startled, she dropped the Sharpie, I remembered I needed to breathe, and suddenly she had gotten up and come around the signing table and she was hugging me.

I needed that hug like I have never needed a hug before. I was fairly incoherent at her for a time, while she expressed insanely nice and encouraging things at me. I thanked her for giving me a platform to learn about myself (at least, that’s what I tried to say – I’m not sure I was actually speaking words at that point). She told me she had thought about me at Mile 20 of her first marathon. The book signing was well and truly derailed for several long minutes. Then, because she is both incredible and a professional, she gathered herself and wrote a message in my book while my brain took up the chant, “She knows me! She recognized my story!” and I continued babbling at the assistants and the person behind me in line about how much SuperBetter had changed my concept of self.

My shameless (obsessive) fangirling aside, let’s return to the premise of this post: superheroes have distinctive qualities. 

  • Jane McGonigal suffered a concussion and had a protracted, difficult recovery.
  • She turned the coping mechanisms she developed during her recovery into a game and shared it with the world.
  • She created practical, approachable mechanisms for recognizing challenges and quantifying both struggles and growth.
  • She established her own PhD field, for crying out loud!
  • She has the most fabulous shoes. (I covet glittery sneakers.)

I have met a superhero and she knew my story. She has changed my life from afar and helped me grow. She is warm and kind and enthusiastic and gives wonderful hugs. She has done incredible things and, in so doing, has enabled me to discover and remember myself in times of sadness, exhaustion, frustration, apathy, and despair. Whenever I have doubts, I have a framed certificate of completion to look at, a blog post to reread, a solid book to hold, a page to turn to, and words of kindness to trace my fingers over.

Jane, in case I didn’t manage to get the words out right that night, thank you. You are amazing.



This is where my childhood trauma comes back to haunt me: 



I would rather have the mice back!!

(I can’t even imagine being near one long enough to take a photograph. Thanks, Google imagine search, for contributing to my nightmares after I disposed of the real thing.)

I have not had much of a life lately. My days have consisted largely of working, sitting in buses and the subway for three hours a day, and spending way too much money on food because my brain is too sapped to think about actually cooking meals  and ordering is honestly healthier when I get that way (more than once, dinner has consisted of kimchee straight from the jar and pretzels with peanut butter).

Every weekend, I try to do at least one thing that gets me out of the apartment and into a social situation. Over the course of June, that largely meant watching World Cup games (did the Women’s National Team play the long con or what?! They really had me worried!) and the occasional board game day with old friends. July so far has been a social-in-the-sun month, with a party in the Boston Public Garden and volunteering at the WGBH Ice Cream FunFest.

I’ve also tried to spend some time each weekend doing something crafty. So far, I have three jars with little silver dinosaurs on their lids, another several feet of yarn wound around the drop spindle, planted a mini pollinator garden in a deck planter out on the sidewalk, and have frogged three rows of blanket and knit back up four. 
The crafting and social things have done a world of good for me, meaning I feel an awful lot less like a zombie each Monday morning when I head back to the bus to spend my commute deafening myself in an effort to listen to podcasts over shrieking metal subway noises. 

What has not made me feel super awesome is the fact that I watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s and lost all of the cultural mystique that I had built up in my mind about a movie that is widely proclaimed as a classic.

Let me tell you something about Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Everyone – EVERYONE – in that movie is a complete ratfink. The only characters I have any good feelings about are the Tiffany’s salesman and the poor cat! 

  • Holly Golightly is the selfish manic pixie dream girl, self-absorbed and willfully ignorant, self-serving and usurious. When her own actions have her world falling down around her ears, she throws the cat – for whom she has been his only friend and home – out into the rain, yelling abuse at him.
  • The men Holly goes on dates with are drunkards, abusers, entitled, certain they have “rights” to her body.  
  • Paul is whoring himself to a married woman, living off her husband’s money and claiming Holly “belongs to [him].” 
  • Doc, Holly’s ex-husband, took a naive child bride and refuses to recognize their divorce, leaping to emotional blackmail to try to control her. 
  • 2-E, the married woman, flaunts her affair and makes every situation about herself, determined to own Paul as a plaything.
  • José wants only a pretty bride, not an invested relationship. He’s a coward and flees any sign of trouble, thinking only of his reputation and never of the feelings of another human being.
  • O.J. is a drunk whose primary occupation is insulting and exposing people to their mutual acquaintances.
  • Mr. Yunioshi is a raging, screaming, hermit who only emerges from his cave to yell at other people for existing.

I hadn’t known Mickey Rooney was even in the cast and I wanted to be delighted by his presence but his portrayal (and, largely, the scripting) of Mr. Yunioshi was made the role a racist cartoon. 
That’s two hours of my life I will never get back. It’s been a week and I’m still angry at everyone other than the poor cat and the man at Tiffany’s who is willing to them engrave a junk ring from a CrackerJack box. 

Today has been iffy but I have successfully staved off a sinus migraine. Huzzah! Also, while I didn’t actually use any of the items I have purchased over the past few weeks to encourage myself to make my own freaking food, I did make a couple of meals today! With nutritional value, even!! A chowder-inspired fish soup and buckwheat noodles with mixed vegetables in Parmesan-laden tomato sauce. Frankly, that was more productivity than I expected to get out of myself over the course of the day. My original plans involved a lot more flopping around in bed with a pillow over my eyes.

I have one final thought for the day, and that is: I should have listened to my uncle all those years ago when he told me that Dungeons & Dragons was something he thought I might enjoy. I am now currently following three D&D campaigns being podcasted (Acquisitions Inc is slow to come out so I got into The Adventure Zone and Total Party Kill), one full of professional voice actors (amazing!) being videocasted for charity (Critical Role), and Wil Wheaton’s non-D&D Titansgrave (both Titansgrave and Critical Role are shows on Geek&Sundry).

Okay, one final final thought: my adolescent ambitions were correct – I should have been a bard.


If you were a package of coffee filters purchased one week ago…

…Where the heck would you be?!

Moving on.

One of my best features, of which I have been unabashedly proud my entire life, is my hair. It is silky, it is thick, it is so straight not even a professional perm lasts longer than the first wash, and it is ideally suited to my “wash it, brush it, rub it with a towel, and run out the door” lifestyle. It also grows insanely quickly.

I had long hair all through middle school and high school, cut my hair incredibly short senior year of high school and mourned for months, then proceeded to spend most of college with long hair. College, though, brought with it a sense that because I no longer had time to volunteer for things, and because I was paying $63,000 for tuition and couldn’t afford to give money, the least I could do was donate my hair every year or so to whichever group accepted the various lengths I was cutting off.  I stopped during grad school and my first few years of working full-time because classy haircuts are ideal for interviews and a sense of professionalism. 

Then, 2013 happened. I was so, so busy in my new job. I was so, so tight on cash because of my months of unemployment, my ongoing student loan payments, and the three years I’d spent working at a soulless for-profit college with no cost of living or merit increases, no title changes, and six additional jobs added to my duties that legitimately should have brought title and wage increases. I had no time, no money for nice salons, no energy for anything that wasn’t going to help pay my bills. I managed to afford a couple of trims but, here near Boston, a respectable salon that doesn’t make your skin crawl and make you think you might lose a kidney as well as an inch of hair costs about $30 for a trim and around $50 for anything substantial. I saved up and made a special appointment before my friends’ wedding because I wanted to look my best for it.

Things got better as I settled into my job and started making time for myself again, especially during 2014. I picked back up with volunteering opportunities, I rediscovered a number of hobbies, and I was finally able to move money into my savings account with each paycheck so that my loan payments wouldn’t automatically bounce.

I went in for haircuts periodically over the last couple of years but there was always a reason to not cut it back to my favored length. It was getting colder, I wanted to keep using my pretty new hair clip, I’d already made it this  far into the summer so why not keep going…! By July 2014 I’d decided that it was worthwhile to keep growing my hair out and donate it again, just like I had in college.

I learned something in this experience.

I no longer have the patience for long hair. The length of time spent washing it, the tangles in the brushing, the inspections for split ends, the twice-per-shower clearing of the drain!

I’ve been wanting to cut it all off since about last October, but it wasn’t quite long enough then, and winter was approaching. Then January happened, and then February, and Boston was buried under snow and ice and the cold weather stayed and stayed and stayed. I kept getting compliments about my hair, how nice it looked, how amazingly long it was, and I kept replying, “Thanks, but it’s going away.” Unfortunately, I am chronically bad at carrying a hat around and longer the cold and wind lingered, the longer I was glad I had some built-in insulation to tuck into my coats.

Last week, I checked noaa.gov just before leaving work and abruptly realized that the temperature had been above freezing for two solid weeks. Time!! It was finally time!!

This was my hair at 8:30 Saturday morning. I did one last, ceremonial, deep conditioning treatment. I used a blow dryer for the about the third time in a year. I looked at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth and I said, “Hair, you’re so pretty. I’m so glad you’re going away.”

And then I sang Fanfare for the Common Man as I walked to the salon.

This is my hair as of 9:45 Saturday morning.

I think I shocked the stylist. She kept asking subtle questions while gathering my hair into tails to cut. “Something just above the shoulder would look nice, don’t you think?” “Should we move the band down a bit?” “Would you like to give eleven inches? We can do the standard ten.”

I finally made an um noise until she met my eyes in the mirror, at which point I instructed (rather fiercely), “Take as much as you can.”

My comfort zone is chin-length. I like the way my hair is short enough to move freely but long enough that it frames my face. Apparently, not many girls and women who cut significant amounts of hair off are prepared for the reality of the change. I, on the other hand, was reveling in it from the moment the stylist first brought scissors to hair. When she asked if I was ready, I responded with a heartfelt PLEASE! Salon employees kept pausing as they passed to tell me how nice the cut was looking and what a good thing I was doing by donating my hair. I kept thinking, “You really don’t need to reassure me, I am so happy to finally be getting rid of it,” but I can definitely understand that some women would need that support. For my part, it just made me even happier!

I’d taken along a plastic baggie to put the donation in but the batch of hair just sat there, on the counter, shiny and pretty and soft-looking, and I just sat there, in the chair, beaming at the pile of hair, for the entire time the stylist was working her magic. I probably would have looked far less maniacal if the hair had gone into the bag and into my purse when it first came off but it was so deliciously disturbing to just gaze at a pile of human hair and realize that strangers would have no knowledge of its origins. Just a supply of human hair. Don’t worry about it. I have my sources…!

After the hair cut, I went and got a celebratory latte. Because I’d forgotten to ask the stylist to measure it, I went and bought a tape measure for that sole purpose. I absolutely delayed going to the post office just so I could maximize the amount of time the words I am walking around with a bag of human hair were applicable. 

Fourteen inches of hair. Roughly 19 months since my last real hair cut.

I am incredibly delighted with my shorter hair.  No longer will I pull on my scalp every time I lean back in my desk chair! No more shall I wince when I move my head on the bus and my hair gets caught in loose screws and bolts. I will be able to go more than a week without needing to clean my brush! For the last couple of months, I’ve been looking around at other women on the subway and wondering why they were doing this to themselves. Especially girls whose hair is not so straight that an entire bottle of hairspray only holds the work of a curling iron for a couple of hours, whose hair needs mousses and gels and straightening irons and pomades.

My hair is on its way to Locks of Love, in Florida, to be made into wigs for children suffering from diseases and syndromes and medical treatments that cause their own hair to fall out and stop growing. Being a child is hard enough – no one should have to deal with the questions and worries of being the only bald kid in school. I still don’t have much money, I still haven’t got much time, but I have lots of hair that just keeps on keeping on. I will probably grow it out and donate it again, more than once, and help provide a child who is suffering and struggling and fighting for her life with a head full of soft, real hair. 

But…it will probably be a while. That or I need to drink a lot more alcohol than I usually do and wipe the memory of the frustration and impatience out of my brain! The good news is: all kinds of hair are needed. All kinds of hair are accepted. Groups exist to help make wigs for the sufferers of all kinds of hair loss, of all kinds of ages. Even groups who don’t make wigs with short or gray hair, like Locks of Love, accept those in donations and sell off what is unusable to help offset the costs off manufacturing and administrative operations. It’s worth doing a little research and deciding where to send my hair whenever I’m ready again.

In summary, I had a Saturday morning exceedingly well spent.

Although…I do kind of wish I could still grin mysteriously at a stranger and whisper, “Want to see my bag of human hair?”

A gray morning’s introspection.

There is a fairly complex, multi-faceted reason I grow plants. What it boils down to is: depression.

Living things offer a balm to my particular brand of depression. When I’m feeling down, greenery and colorful blossoms remind me of simple pleasures, present simple joys that I don’t have to think about and search for. Studying my plants’ leaves for spider mites or molds gives me a tangible task to use as an interruption for the cycle of destructive, obsessive, intrusive thoughts that have so much inherent darkness. Breaking that cycle is difficult and I discovered years ago that simple physical tasks or chores were not as effective for me as working on something that would benefit another living thing.

I’ve never had an apartment that allowed pets, so my craving for companionship had to be diverted to green things. Pets are widely known to be beneficial to sufferers of depression. They offer physical contact, affection, a sense of responsibility and purpose, lower blood pressure, increase emotional resilience…a brief glance through the scientific literature reveals a list that goes on and on. Where pets are not allowed, renters with depression face a challenge in the form of isolation and loneliness.

At this point, years into my battle with depression, I tend to find solace in solitude more than loneliness. In addition, I worked very hard at pushing my social fears and boundaries a few years back and I have developed a couple of distinct groups of truly magnificent friends that I can turn to in times of low emotional confidence. They are incredible and I value their love and support more than I could ever say. However, while they are all wonderful, warm, caring, and intelligent people, they are not pets to play with and exercise my caretaker tendencies toward.

So, several apartments ago, I turned to plants. 

I’ve always enjoyed gardening. Something about digging in the dirt and helping make my environment beautiful had always appealed to me. I have memories of being very young and patting rather ineffectually at the soil around plants my mother had already planted, “helping” her. One of my Mothers’ Day presents to her while I was in high school was a garden plot along the back of the house, which remains to this day one my favorite gifts that I’ve given to anyone, ever. It was fun to plan and plant and take her to buy more flowers (although I suspect she took me in this particular instance) and I am still proud of it even though groundhogs devoured most of the plants and we eventually gave up and stopped planting it (and now it’s mostly gravel around a mini deck).

Plants can’t make noises at you or cuddle with you on the couch to express affection but they do need care and attention. Some of my very best gardening has been done in the throes of deep depression, when the plants were the only things I could bring myself to talk to and thought of stepping out of the front door seemed insurmountable. Some of my very worst gardening has been done when I am healthier and happier, as I leave the house more and get interested in other things and more or less forget that plants can’t mewl or bark to remind me that they need food and water. 

What calls all of this to mind is the fact that I made a rather large mistake in the care of my zinnias yesterday. I was concerned about overwatering them so I opted to skip the daily morning watering and decided I would check on them before I went to bed in the evening and water them then, if they were dry.

The problem with this plan was two-fold: (1) I needed to remember that I changed the routine and (2) I needed to not get distracted by other pursuits when I went to close the shades and check over the plants.

Unfortunately for every living thing in my apartment, I spent last night vacuuming shards of metal out of my carpets and picking more shards of metal out of the fabric of my footstool. Thanks, tremendously terrible extermination company that the outrageously obnoxious management company keeps hiring to apparently only treat my apartment instead of the entire building. Picking splinters of steel wool out of my feet has been a truly engaging pastime.

I completely forgot that I even had plants in my apartment last night.

As of this morning, the seedlings in the plastic containers are still going strong and I may have managed to save a few of the stems in one of the the egg cartons but at least two dozen of my seedlings were shriveled and collapsed and thread-thin and will never more grace my windowsill. 

One of the many contributing factors of my depression is a fear of failure. A nearly debilitating fear of failure that keeps me from singing along with recorded renditions of “The Best Is Yet To Come” because I once screwed it up during a concert and have yet to recover my ability to enjoy that song (which is one of my favorites) through the heaps of embarrassment and disappointment in myself. One of the many ironies of my climb out of depression is that when I feel good my gardening suffers and when my gardening suffers I feel bad.

Thank you, Joseph Heller.

So: I have now failed at least two dozen seedlings. Killed them dead. And yet…I am absolutely getting so much better because my reaction this morning was essentially, “aw, plants” instead of “I AM A HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE MURDERER” and some tears. These days, that emotion seems to be reserved for emptying mousetraps.

When I called my father this morning to say “I am sad” and “I’m a terrible plant parent” I wasn’t busy feeling like a failure. Instead, I was thinking about what other plants would go well in a windowsill with some zinnias and whether it would be better to start those from seed or to buy some sturdy plants from a nursery.

I do desperately wish I could have a cat. If I had one already, I could have worked to get it registered as an emotional support animal. Unfortunately, starting from scratch and obtaining a pet in the hopes that I could get away with it long enough to go through the process of registering is untenable and would not be fair to the cat. As this mouse situation goes on, though, I’m more and more inclined to demand a foster situation be approved by the management so that I can house a mouser. The extermination company is clearly not doing it.

We can all agree that this shouldn’t happen, right? 

That’s the magnetic edge of an iPad cover after I hovered it a quarter of an inch over my footstool and moved it across the width of one end, once.

Anywho, the State of the Meg is this: gardening helps, I’m not awesome at changing routines, I owe some flowers an apology, and I’m still going to have bright, beautiful blooms in my windowsill (just not quite as many as originally anticipated), and I have tangible emotional proof that failures have become merely momentary setbacks. Overall, I consider this morning a big win.

Still want a cat, though.

I have no self-control, chapter eight zillion and two: gardening.

I have exceeeeeeeedingly little self-control.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met me. A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at a CVS to buy some conditioner. I have a tremendously reprehensible habit of wandering among the aisles of a convenience store with the vague intention of laughing at all of the bizarre items the store’s decision-makers seem to think I won’t be able to live without. Often, this turns into me toying with the idea of spending four dollars on yet another coloring book. That day, it turned into me deciding that, yes, I really did want something to replace the basil which gave up the ghost a couple of months ago.

$1.99 for a tiny terra cotta pot labeled “Zinnia Grow Kit” and instructions to plant 5 seeds in the pot? Well, $2 is steep for the, what, maybe 8 seeds I could expect to find in that itty bitty little packet, but…I want plantlife. So I bought it. I took the little package home, set the plastic bag on my table, and forgot about it for the rest of the week.

Last Sunday was my elder nephew’s birthday. Because he lives on the west coast for some godforsaken reason, I had to wait until he might feasibly be awake before calling to wish him Happy. As I pondered my choices for filling my time between the consumption of coffee and three-year-old-awakeness, I recalled the Zinnia Grow Kit. When I tore it open I was bemused to find that the eeny weeny packet of seeds held more than eight seeds. Exactly how many, I couldn’t have said, but I was content to consider it a nebulous “more than expected” number.

I planted five seeds in the tiny pot as instructed then pulled the old Cool Whip containers I’d originally started the basil out in to plant the rest. Potting soil in the hall closet, plastic wrap from the kitchen to cover the containers, doot-dee-doo, humhumhum, planting planting planting pla….wait. I now had two fully seeded containers and the itty bitty pot but there were more seeds waiting in the packet.

I dithered a bit, played a game on my computer, drank more coffee, and folded the seed packet up so the leftover seeds wouldn’t fall out. I got up and brushed my teeth. I checked the clock and decided it was still too early to call California. I perched on the couch with a Games magazine. I twitched. I got halfway through a puzzle. I threw the magazine down and went to dig through my recycling.

One of the problems with the embarrassment of winter weather we’ve had here in the Boston area is that the recycling bins of the apartment building vanished under snow and ice back in early February and remained AWOL until last week. I’ve been able to haul trash out to the dumpster but there hasn’t been anywhere to put recycling other than “out of the path of foot traffic.” I knew there was an egg carton in there somewhere…!

A seed in every well, a plastic bag under it to protect the windowsill from moisture, a thorough watering, aaaaand there were still more seeds left in the packet. Again I folded the packet over and made an effort to do other things. The seed packet sat on the footstool next to my laptop. Staring at me.

This is when I gave up and called my mother. “This is ludicrous,” I said, turning the camera view around so she could see the assemblage of containers (thank heavens for video chat), “there are more. I know there’s another egg carton in the fridge but I’d have to eat the eggs first!”

“Eggs fit nicely into bowls,” my mother pointed out.

Too much helping, Mum.

Not long after we ended the phone call, I gave in and put the eggs into a plastic bowl and absconded with the carton. This time, I planted a minimum of two seeds in every egg well. And I exclaimed, aloud, “What!” when I still had seven seeds sitting in my hand. I was officially out of bowl-shaped things I was willing to punch drainage holes into. It was time to get creative.

Spelunking through the recycling turned up a couple of empty bottles from quarts of orange juice or milk, lots of empty tomato cans, two large strawberry containers, and, finally, a one-pint container that had originally held blueberries. Fruit containers are not ideal planters. They have large gaps to allow water to spill out which also would allow expensive seed-starting potting soil to fall out. You know by now that I’m obsessive compulsive to the point of not being able to leave seven seeds unplanted but another thing I am is: fiendishly addicted to coffee.

What does a coffee drinker have lying around on her counters? Filters for Mr. Coffee.

I am here to inform you that a coffee filter fits just fine into a pint blueberry container and does a bang-up job of keeping soil from washing away from the seeds and into your living room carpet.

The last seven seeds were finally planted. I arranged everything on my windowsill, then blinked. It dawned on me: I had at least a dozen seeds here, two dozen there, five in the pot, seven over here, who knows how many in either of the Cool Whip containers…! For $2, I had gotten at least 5 dozen seeds.

After three days, the first green was appearing. Stems are now pushing up against the plastic wrap of their containers while more seedlings continue to appear. As of this afternoon I have 57 visible seedlings and five or six egg wells across the two egg cartons that show no signs of growth yet but may still develop something.

I have bought seeds at supermarkets, at hardware stores, at garden supply centers, gathered them lovingly from seedpods. I have never had this rate of success! As ridiculous as my windowsill looks right now, with its assortment of shoddy plant holders, I am utterly delighted with my “garden.” I believe my first words to my father when he answered my phone call the other day were, “I am a proud plant parent!” This morning, of course, on the last day of the week the seeds were planted, I sat on my sofa and I munched on my leftover soda bread and I wondered vaguely what the future might hold for my little plantlings.

When asked on Sunday what I planned to do with them when they got big enough to transplant to a garden, I had responded, “I don’t know. Maybe give them to friends?”


Thank you for existing, Amazon.com.

I bought a window box. And more potting soil. And some spikes and tubing for a container-garden self-watering system. Because I have no self-control.

Yea, and I shall hoard my zinnias to myself like a particularly floral dragon, raining fire on all who come near as clearly they desire my bounty for themselves. Those plants shall be glamorous and they are mine, all mine, precious, yessssss, gol-lum, gol-lum!

And the next time I find myself eyeballing a packet of organic heirloom seeds, I’ll poke myself in that eye and then go to CVS.


SALT – it does a body good!

I am not in traction but I am definitely flat on my back.

There was a flurry Tuesday night and I headed out of my apartment carefully on Wednesday morning. I made it down my street, across an intersection, and roughly two-thirds of the way down another street before meeting a particularly vicious driveway. Snow over two inches of ice does not good traction provide.

I wound up on my right side, limbs flung out most attractively. When I managed to regain my feet and skitter forward, I took note of some sore muscles in my back, brushed the snow off my hands, and decided I wasn’t hurt enough to miss the bus. Off I went, as carefully as before, but with the added advantage that there were businesses on the cross street I was approaching and the sidewalks were increasingly dusted with more salt than snow.

I was supposed to be getting some fasting bloodwork done before work that morning. It did not happen.

The fall took up enough time that the bus I was hoping to catch had been and gone. I caught a bus from a different route and headed underground at the first subway station it reached. Huzzah, I thought as I rubbed my hip, I may still get that blood draw.

Joy lasted the duration of the escalator ride. Upon arrival at the platform I discovered a sea of bodies. A “medical emergency” was being announced as the cause of northbound delays (in my experience, medical emergencies are primarily vagrants choosing to exercise their bladder skills). What was not being announced is that if no northbound trains exist, the system runs out of trains to send southbound! It was a long, long wait on that platform. My lower back hurt more and more as I shifted from side to side, trying to find a comfortable stance. I looked at the station clock and resigned myself to missing the blood work and trying again another day.

At long last, a southbound train arrived. I didn’t manage to get on it but I did manage to crowd into the next one several minutes later. I squeezed in and pressed myself against the side of the seat guard, trying to avoid leaning on the gentleman who was actually sitting there. I had to twist a bit to reach a pole to hang on to but, luckily, the platforms at the next several stations were on the opposite side of the train and I could settle back a bit against the door.

Then, on the bridge over the Charles River, the train stopped. A disable train ahead, we were told.

I’ve never understood why they can’t just call it what it is: broken.

I, for one, was certainly starting to feel broken. I now had brief flares of pain down my left leg to my knee and my upper back and shoulders were complaining about the jarring of the fall and the twist I was in to hold that pole.

I am supposed to be at work at 8:30. At 8:28, we finally crossed the bridge. I texted my boss: “I am so close. Sooo close.”

She laughed at me. Someday I will figure out what I have to do to regularly get to work on time (I suspect it will involve chanting and blood sacrifices) but until that day dawns my boss gets frequent reminders how wise she was to move away from the greater Boston area.

I got to work fifteen minutes late. I had left my house at 6:50. I let everyone know I had finally made it in and started sucking down coffee and Advil.

Caffeine and painkillers helped. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself they did. By afternoon I had given in and called the chiropractor I hadn’t seen in a few years. By the end of the day, I was moving between sitting and standing in roughly ten minute intervals.

Thursday was more of the same with the exception that it was a much, much shorter work day because I was scheduled to go see my chiropractor.

My chiropractor tested my balance (I stumbled), my reflexes (unremarkable), my leg muscle strength (left roughly half of right). He promptly wrote an order for me to have some X-rays and give me an ice pack and fifteen minutes with a TENS unit. He promised me that he didn’t think anything was broken but, understandably, he was reluctant to do any manipulation without proof of that.

I understand his reasoning, I do, but I just wanted him to fix me! I didn’t really need him to tell me that my “pelvis is…really out of place” (I had rather figured that out on my own) and I’d been hoping against hope that he would just shove my spine back into alignment and the aches and the pains would start to fade.

I am not a medical professional but I didn’t identify any cracks or gaps in the X-rays. My fingers are crossed that when I return to his office tomorrow afternoon he’ll wave a magic wand, put me through a fair amount of pain and force my spinal column to return to its regularly scheduled programming.

For those of us keeping track, last week tied my record of 10 days in a row without medical issue in 2015. I have yet to survive two full weeks without inexplicable illness or accident.

I’ve spent the weekend drifting between prone and vaguely upright, knitting-unknitting-and-reknitting much of a sock, and watching a great deal of Netflix (bumming on the generosity of a friend because it is not in my budget – I’m definitely getting his money’s worth!), particularly Star Trek.

I didn’t discover Star Trek until a few years ago and I have been utterly in love ever since I hit “play” on that first episode. My father sent me a Valentine’s Day present which was an image for my computer backdrop of the original bridge crew as a rock band. The passing of Leonard Nimoy has had me saluting my computer every time Spock comes on screen at the start of an episode. Spock was the character that enraptured me from the start and while I grew to adore Bones and Scotty and the others it is still Spock that I coo aloud at when something clever is done. I’m impressed with Nimoy’s character choices and I’ve been toying with the idea of devoting more of my idle time to his other performances. I’m considering it for Deforest Kelley’s work, too, although I have a slight aversion to Westerns from childhood overexposure.

The show was kitschy and goofy and took a lot of risks and I am so, so, so glad for the technologies that allowed it to be produced, stored, and made available today. What an incredible, fabulous time to be a geek, that allows me to text my father while I giggle at onscreen antics and allows him to respond with comments about his memories of watching the show years ago.


Snowday HEY!

Conclusion: I like beet greens a heck of a lot more than I like beets.

Corollary: Beet chips are delicious…but so far I’ve yet to find a method of preparing beets that doesn’t fill me with feelings of “meh.”

I suffered yet another bout of illness this past weekend, bringing my health score for 2015 to Germs: 4; Meg: 0. I’ve yet to make it a full week without some kind something making me feel like death.

Hopefully I’m on the mend again, though. I’m trying to keep an eye on my nutritional intake this year (which is possibly my problem? Maybe I should stop…) so once the crackers and ginger ale had done their job, I decided on a root vegetable roast. Also, roasted root vegetables seemed like a reasonably in your face, blizzard! meal for a snowday.  Then, of course, I was left with a couple of hours to wait for things to roast and three bunches of beet greens and, well, that is some valuable vitamin territory even though I’ve always thrown them out because I’ve been told beet greens are bitter.

Soooooooo! Blanched, sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes, omnomnom’d: delicious!

Well, cheers, snowday, for letting me get a little bit caught up on the housework I couldn’t do this weekend because I was flat in bed. And also for bringing light to the Boston Yeti. Hot damn, I love this city.