One more commercial interruption, then back to our regularly scheduled programming

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Well, shit.  I can’t very well be gone for a while and then slink back in like no big deal. My last two posts were vague, melancholy, overwrought. I felt, after only a few months of blogging, like I had already seen it all. Built a readership, been Freshly Pressed, had a viral post, vanquished trolls and battled other bloggers. My eyes were blurry and dead from screen-staring. My arms were flaccid little popsicle sticks, my skin was paper.

I found a million different reasons not to write. Didn’t want to ignore my kid. Didn’t feel I had anything exciting to write. Felt overwhelmed at my readership, and overthought (to fucking death) your desires and perceptions. The internet felt like millions of people seated at long tables in some cosmic cafeteria, all yelling at each other, wet potato chip crumbs flying out of their mouths. I didn’t feel I had anything to add to the din.

Blogging seemed completely narcissistic. Really, who gives a fuck? I don’t even find my own life interesting for long stretches, why should anyone else? Lookatmelookatmelookatme. Pay attention to me. I’m alive. I think things, about things.

A blog is like a garden. Left untended, when you come back you have to pull some weeds.

While I’m at it, I’m fixing to churn up some dirt, and plant anew. I am afraid of my own possibility. It is my fatal flaw. The truth is I quit writing because I was afraid of how much I loved it. I feel exhilarated when I finish a good post, it’s like a drug. I envisioned writing more and more, stories, a memoir, a novel. I let myself think “what if”.

People perceive me as confident. I am confident…. of my charms and beauty. But I have never thought of myself as having any real merit as a writer. 38 years old. A bartender. A mom. Too old to let myself have a dream. Better to pour all my love and ambition into my daughter.

Fuck that. If she has to entertain herself for a few hours here and there she’ll live. Actually, she’ll thrive. Because having a mom who lives for something other than being her mom has to mean something. If nothing else, she’ll have a record of who we were at this time in our lives.

So, I, Nicki Daniels, hereby pledge to continue blogging. I will try to breathe life into some of these crazy ideas I have. I will write as much or as little as I want, about whatever I want, and I am sorry that I was gone so long.

I’ll make it up to you.

 

 

I’m too lazy to name you, post.

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I’m baaaaaack.

(insert photo of something cool)

I don’t feel like blogging. I told myself, one blog, one episode of Walking Dead. That’s the deal. Of course, I gave myself an out. If I was too tired, or too blah, or feeling PMS-y, or ugly, or boring, or coughing or sneezing or bloated, I could give myself a break and just maybe watch Walking Dead anyway. Be kind to yourself, you know.

So. That’s what I did for like 30 consecutive days. In that time, Sadie turned 3, and my brother and his wife had a baby boy, and somehow there are two guinea pigs living in my parlor. That, and I kind of got the blues. Not depressed, not like that. What happens to me is a little bit different. It’s not like I stop washing my hair and can’t get out of bed. It’s more like, my life starts feeling less real. I start feeling less real. I start feeling like I’m looking in the window at everything and I’m not in the same space as everyone else.

And I start drifting along in a sea of laziness. I don’t feel like making decisions. I don’t feel like doing anything I don’t have to do. I nest at home even more than usual. I feel easily overwhelmed. And overriding all this, is a self-flagellating irritation that I just can’t kick it in the dick. The logical part of myself is constantly calculating my blessings, offering up pithy little sayings to the more cynical and despondent me. My inner battle isn’t between good and evil, but between wonder and despair.

Despair because I feel like we’re all fucked. Micro fucked. Macro fucked. Fucked at the cellular level. I think that’s why I’m always dreaming about apocalyptic scenarios, they’re not nightmares, they are manifestations of my desire to start over.

Wonder because I feel like we are still on the cusp of being able to change it. I feel like there is some vast untapped something out there that I just haven’t stumbled across yet. Something that is humming right behind the fabric of my existence and I’m always waiting for that curtain to be ripped away. Even though, by all appearances, I’m just an ordinary person living an unremarkable life, I have never let go of the childish fantasy that someday someone would hand me my golden sword and whisper “It is time to begin.”

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So, pointlessness and malaise. And the last thing I want to do when my real life loses color and the fantasies recede, is immerse myself in a false reality where I can pretend to be something I’m not. So I’m not going to write and pretend that nothing is wrong, and I’m not going to write and put my life under a microscope for all to examine. So I went back to that old tree, and drank the elixir of the quiet. And drank deeply of that nectar of nectars, my love for my girl. I never want her to feel she comes second to a screen. And I’ve been listening to all my favorite music. Those old songs called my back to myself yet again.

There was a time not too long ago when I thought I was hot shit for half a second. I was thinking all, custom blog header, and candid photos, and videos, and collaborations. And now I’m thinking, maybe I’ll write some short stories and send them to some literary magazines. If I write a post it is because I am in the mood to share myself with you. I am feeling joyful, or playful, or angry. But please know there are parts of myself I don’t want to share with anyone.

I’m searching for something. Sometimes I look so long and so hard and come up empty-handed. Sometimes I leave my body and float away. Sometimes I come back from that dark place with a laugh bubbling up in my throat. But I always come back. It’s like I’m playing hide-and-go-seek with God. But I won’t play games with you. And I’m over thinking about branding myself or making an identity that makes sense to everyone. I need my words to be out of me, more than I need them to be understood.

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Snow. Slush. Sick. Suck.

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Forgive me, readers. It has been almost two weeks since my last confession.

I would love to tell you I have spent this time in some Bacchanal. Blissed-out, decadent. Trying new designer drugs, dancing with a slight sheen of sweat on my sun-kissed skin, having sex with my husband on some far-flung, pristine beach.

Bwahaha. Ha. In reality, The Daniels family was smote (smited?) by virus. Snowed in by Mother Nature. Gnawed on by a family of bears. Forgotten by God.

I have missed writing. I have missed you, readers. I have not even logged in to my WordPress account. I haven’t read your blogs, I haven’t looked at my stats. I needed a break, dude. Starting this blog and meeting other bloggers, collecting readers….it’s been like this huge surprise party. Balloons! Cake! But I was kinda at that point where all the food is gone and the DJ is playing “Careless Whisper” and I needed to go to the ladies’ room and sneak a smoke.

And I don’t even smoke.

But I did read books. Five of them. Nearly 3000 pages of luscious printed word. Reading blogs is fun. But they’re like snacks, you know? Even the really good ones. Sure some might be, like, kale crisps and some might be moon pies, but they’re bite sized. I wanted to GORGE. So I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and its sequel Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs. They’re YA, but they’re so freaking good.  Time travel, freaks of nature, and cool vintage photographs. I devoured them in a day and a half.

I also read Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, which was heartfelt and lovely but lacked a certain believability. (Says the girl who just read two books about time travel. Anyway.) I still love his novel She’s Come Undone, though. I’ve read it three times and enjoyed it immensely. Liane Moriarty’s   The Husband’s Secret was a damn fine whodunnit with a surprising layer of pathos and depth. And I’m almost finished with the short story collection Tenth of December by George Saunders. Now this book is making me super jealous. That fucker can write. Even the “Times” spewed man-juice all over it.

When I really get lost in a book I feel the different parts of my brain lighting up. I know it’s a big gray sponge, but for some reason I picture my mind like that old “Simon Says” game by Milton Bradley. Red blue yellow green. Blink, blink. Reading is awesome. And I can get all my feelings out empathizing with the characters, which allows me to be such a cool cucumber in real life.

So I read, and I binge watched Netflix. I saw a documentary about bees, and a bunch of episodes of “The Office” and “The Cleveland Show” and some not-really-okay movies. These were excellent distractions from the blizzard raging outside, and the fact that my whole family had typhoid.

OK, we got three inches. And it wasn’t typhoid. It was bubonic plague.

But this winter has been interminable. It’s been desperately cold. I was ready to trade my cool orange bicycle with whitewall tires for two sled dogs and a wood plank. I’ll never get to ride again with the wind in my hair! Or it feels that way. I am usually more than happy to nest. I love being home when it’s cold out. But we have all been sick. Our house is getting that cloistered, sick-people smell. Sadie’s toys are strewn everywhere from constant, frantic attempts to distract her from the river of green snot coming out of her.

It’s weird how your kids can’t gross you out. I remember thinking it was strange that my mom would let me use her sleeve to blow my nose. Humph. Well. I can’t tell you how many times in the last two weeks I have held out my open palm so that Sadie could hawk a loogie into it. Creme brûlée, anyone? Being sick and taking care of a sick kid is the worst. I wanted MY fucking Mommy. Hot soup. It’s hard being always “on” you know? I felt like a bombing comedian as she wailed and screamed and my head pounded in time. Jazz hands!

But, I can write about it, right? What a fucking gift. It’s like taking shit, and making a shit sandwich. Smear the bread with mustard, add some cheese, crushed up barbecue chips…sure, it’s still shit, but at least it’s palatable. We can munch on it together.

So, too bad I missed out on some cool stuff to write about! Valentine’s Day, the Olympics! So here are two mini-posts, in requiem:

The Olympics

Wow. That looks cool. I bet I could do that.

And….a Valentine haiku!

Trite words. Thoughtful gift.

Bring me your heart on a stick.

Be my Valentine?

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Ok, ok. Last thing. It is also Black History Month, of course. I don’t really feel like I have much to add to the discussion except really? The short month? And, this photo that my best girl Amanda snapped at our local Kroger grocery:

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She posted this on Facebook and I peed a little. I mean this was their display. In the front of the store. Someone commented “I didn’t know Abe Lincoln had a Jeri curl”. What is this supposed to mean? Here, people of color. Meet your heroes. And in aisle 5, check out our array of products to tame that African hair. Maybe they could add some bags of jumbo cotton balls, or some Aunt Jemima syrup, to make it a little more racist.

I’m feeling almost back to normal. Today the temperature was in the high forties, and it felt absolutely tropical. I took Sadie to the store. It was our first voyage out through the tundra in days. We stocked up on supplies. I bought her these little remote control hamsters that zip around and bump into the furniture. Candy for me, of course. Fruit. Hot soup. We waded through the melting slush, and I thought, it’s going to be over soon. This season, this winter of my discontent. And just like under the frozen ground, there are a million little shoots just waiting to thrust up green, I can feel a stirring in me too. A wildness, old as time itself. Resurrecting in me, year after year.

I’m ready. This old girl’s got some fire in her, yet.

“I guess I’m trying to say, grab anything that goes by. It may not come around again.”

John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

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The Troll

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“I’m going to find a troll today” said little Annie Rose McKay

“He’s been bothering me for nigh on a week!”

“I’m going to crush this beastly creep!”

She packed her bag with special care

A knife, some snacks, clean underwear

And set off walking through forest and glade

Her hand curled ’round her trusty blade

(and sucking down vodka-spiked lemonade!)

When suddenly, she came to a clearing

And stood perfectly still, what was she hearing?

‘Twas a tap, tap, tap- the tapping of keys!

And a distant cackle of fiendish glee!

She narrowed her eyes, and scanned the horizon

Her heart beating fast, her blood pressure risin’

“I spy the bridge where the troll makes his home!”

All day on his laptop, always alone

Eating children, and brushing his hair

How’s he get wifi under there?

Closer and closer, the wee lass drew near

Using her anger to conquer her fear

Through the woodsy scent of the knoll,

She smelt smelly socks, the aroma of troll

She came to the bridge, and took a deep breath

Time for the troll to meet his death!

She peeked around the mossy stones,

And there sat the troll, so very alone.

But he was not the beast she had come to slay

In fact her first thought was to run away!

Because before her sat a creature

With stooped shoulders and plain features,

With wispy arms and spindly legs

(Eating a plate of scrambled eggs!)

“Why you’re just a man!” She said with surprise

The man whipped around with fear in his eyes.

“Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me! I’m just a boy!”

“Yes! Just a boy with a favorite toy!”

“A magic computer that I can use

To bother and hurt, spam and abuse!”

Annie thought for a moment about simply leaving

But then she thought of the way she’d been grieving

This boy’s words, sent to hurt without reason

Were the worst forms of internet treason.

And so, I am sad to report,

That Annie did not even try to retort.

But stabbed his heart with her trusty blade,

And went off whistlin’, back through the glade.

I’m told she never shed a tear

In fact made earrings out of his ears!

So let this be a warning to trolls today,

REMEMBER LITTLE ANNE MCKAY!

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Philip Seymour Hoffman, heroin, and the death of my American Dream

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It’s no secret that I used to be a drug addict. I’ve used it as a punchline on this blog a few times already. But there’s something that makes me feel a little uneasy about that. Like I’m trying to say it’s all in the past. Like all that madness happened to someone else, someone not me. Like somewhere there is a calendar with a big red X on it, marking the date, denoting the before and after.

The simple fact is once an addict, always an addict. I will be an addict for the rest of my life. My dragon may not be breathing fire right now, but he is curled up in my belly, sleeping. Waiting. Waiting for me to fuck up. I have been wanting to address this, to write about it honestly, but I didn’t know how. I have a problem with gravity, in case you haven’t noticed. But then last Sunday, Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead with a needle in his arm.

Thanks, Phil, for the segue.

Hoffman was one of my favorite actors. He had the ability to reach through the screen and touch me with his humanity. He was gifted with presence, with nuance. His Scotty in “Boogie Nights” was the sad-sack lovelorn fool that I think we all are on the inside somewhere. His Capote took my breath away. How fitting, in retrospect, that his most lauded role was the one where he played a man whose genius was eclipsed only by his raging addiction.

I admired Hoffman, but I knew little about his personal life. I’ve been reading more about him in the last few days. I learned that he was a party boy in his early 20′s, and then was sober for over twenty years before relapsing last year. And what a relapse! From pills to snorting heroin to injecting heroin to dead in a year. Stuff like this scares the living shit out of me. But I need a reminder sometimes, of what’s waiting for me out there.

In AA they call a relapse “going back out”. I’ve always thought that was an apt description. Like you’ve been inside, safe and warm, and now you’re venturing out into the blackness. The last time I went back out, it almost killed me.

Opiates are the worst. Opiates are what finally brought me to my knees. There is something about being physically addicted to a drug that is just soul-crushing. Waking up in a cold sweat and knowing that you have to find something to put in your body to make you feel okay, is awful. Finding those drugs and feeling that warmth, the heaviness in your limbs, the utter lack of care, is something like heaven. Not finding those drugs and going into withdrawal is the worst kind of hell. Remember that scene in “Trainspotting” where Ewan McGregor is lying in bed, clutching the sheets, and the dead baby crawls across the ceiling? That’s exactly what it’s like.

I’ve heard it compared to a bad flu. That’s only halfway true. It’s the worst flu of your life, coupled with crippling depression. All your organs are on blast. Your nose is running like a faucet. Your heart beats so fast you think you will literally die. You sweat buckets of cold, oily sweat. Your ass is exploding diarrhea. Your skin is crawling. Your whole body is contracting, like you are inside some awful uterus getting ready to be born into some new reality. But the brain…

The brain is the fucking worst. Your brain vomits, in a technicolor spew, every horrible thing you ever did and every doubt you ever had. Every terrible possibility for your future is now a certainty. You are a waste of humanity and nothing good will ever happen to you again. It’s  like a horrible version of that old TV show “This Is Your Life”.

My last withdrawal, I actually made my husband take me to the emergency room, because I thought I was having a heart attack. They slapped a Clonodine patch on me to slow my racing heart, and urged me to go to detox. When we got home, my husband helped me pack a bag. Somehow, I was able to convince him that I could do this on my own. After he went to sleep, I biked to the store for a fifth of whiskey. I hadn’t had pills for days, I didn’t know where to score heroin, all I had was my whiskey and a bottle of Ativan.

When my husband woke up the whiskey and Ativan were almost gone. I was completely out of my head. He called the family over for an impromptu intervention. My mom says when she got there I looked like the girl from “The Exorcist”. I was throwing things and yelling. My mother in law held my face in her hands and told me I needed help. I called her the worst thing you can call a woman. I was threatening violence. The police were called. I went to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 or Nicki will use it to buy drugs. I made it to detox all right, but not until I spent a long 38 hours detoxing in the drunk tank first.

Please God, let that be the last time.

I’m smart. Street smart and book smart. But am I smart enough to outsmart my sleeping dragon? When a celebrity dies of a drug overdose, it shakes me up. These are people who supposedly have it all. And they’re just as miserable as everyone else. So for me, it’s been about managing my expectations. Somehow, I’ve figured out a way of life that works for me.

Addiction runs in my family. I’ve never understood why people say that. “Run” implies fluidity, something in motion. Addiction stagnates in my family. Addiction waits in my family. Two uncles, dead before their time. One with a needle, another with the bottle. The biological father I will never know, except for occasional checks on his arrest records. Even my husband has had his issues with excess. And then there’s me, hot mess extraordinaire.

It makes me scared for my daughter. I don’t want any of this for her. And so it’s up to me to teach her about life. Real life.

So first I’ll tell her, fuck the American Dream. I want her to have dreams, I just don’t want them sold to her, pre-packaged. We’re promised the “pursuit” of happiness, and that’s exactly what they want. They want us chasing, endlessly running after this half-remembered dream of something that never existed to begin with. Usually it starts with money, and power, and some nebulous idea of “having it all”.

Having it all means being happy with what you have. It means being content with not being extraordinary. I’m living proof of that. After everything I’ve been through, my happy little life is nothing short of a miracle. I enjoy my days. I have fun.  I can take pleasure in the smallest things. I breathe, I laugh, I work.  I write and eat and sleep. I am happy. I have lofty goals. But they do not define my happiness. My happiness is inside me, holding my dragon in a golden net.

I live in a community where heroin is epidemic. I see teenagers nodding out at stoplights and pinned pupils on the grocery store cashier. It’s easy to think it’s just here. But it’s everywhere. Everyone is looking for their American Dream. And not finding it, they are in despair.

Even Philip Seymour Hoffman. Maybe he didn’t like fame. Maybe he thought it wasn’t enough. Either way, he left a legacy. He impacted the world. His films will live on. He will be remembered. He was a gifted, important man. He lived an extraordinary life.

But I woke up today, and he didn’t.

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10 things I dislike about Super Bowl Sunday

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Hi guys,

Did you notice I typed “dislike” and not “hate”? That’s because I don’t hate it, Super Bowl Sunday. Why would I let myself get that worked up about it? I’ll leave that to the fans. You know, the millions of people sitting on couches, yelling at the flatscreen with hot sauce on their chins? The screen upon which very large, very rich, semi-metrosexual men grapple in a game of no real consequence?

And don’t give me that shit about how you played when you were younger. “But it takes me back to high school! Memories of my youth!” Yeah, yeah. I had fun when I was a teenager too, but I don’t have a party once a year to celebrate drinking Zima and dry-humping.

And if you never played football, that’s even weirder to me. “But they’re amazing to watch!” you cry. “Real life heroes!” Tell me then, how come when the fire trucks come screeching down the street, you never see a cavalcade of F150′s in hot pursuit, slurping beers and cheering while they battle the blaze? That shit’s pretty amazing to watch too. And free.

Here’s 10 more things that chap my ass about this tedious day:

1. The Announcers. I actually had to google this shit because I didn’t know if they were called “announcers” or “commentators” or what. I still don’t know. But I know this: those guys are way too fucking excited. They make me nervous, and not in a “Ryan Gosling’s in line in front of me at Target” kinda way, but a “my asshole is sweating and I feel like I just did two lines of cheap coke” kinda way. I like more serene entertainment. Like feeding ducks at a pond. Or something.

2. The Commercials. Can you say “emotional manipulation”? Jesus Christ. I just saw that Budweiser ad with the puppy and the horse and I was like, whaaassup? What does that have to do with the consumption of below-average American beer? I miss the days when beer commercials would be all, burly guy lifts can, takes a long swallow and says “It’s good”. No matter how funny or cool or heartwarming an advertisement might be, the company that funded it just wants your money. Burp.

3.Wife Beating. Do you know that SBS is one of the biggest days of the year for incidences of domestic violence and child abuse? That’s right. Daddy gets mad when his team loses, especially if he loses money, and someone must be punished. Throw your kids around, tackle ol’ Sally. You’ll feel better in the morning, I promise.

4. Human Sex Trafficking. More seedy underbelly of the Super Bowl! I just learned about this today. Apparently guys drive around looking for girls to kidnap and use as sex slaves at their parties. Silly guys. Everybody knows all you need to get sex slaves is a few sorority girls, a keg of Coors Light, and some ecstasy. They’ll be begging for your boner beer in no time. Duh.

5. Latent Homoeroticism. Football is so gay. There is so much locker room nudity, ball slapping, ass slapping, body to body holding and questionable bending-over- it’s seriously like a bath house. I’m not homophobic, like at all. But it cracks me up because most fans totally are. I mean these guys are the ones that screech “no homo” if their fingers accidentally brush against their buddies’ when they pass them a tall boy. Yet they watch, with rapt attention, two hours of what looks like foreplay for a gang bang.

6. The Halftime Show. Speaking of all things gay. These things are so over-the-top and cheesy they are clearly choreographed and arranged by a team of drag queens. Cue the aging pop star. Cue the teen pop star. Cue the high school marching bands. Cue the falling glitter. Watch them sing a song about freedom because…

7. Patriotism. God, we love America on SBS. So much money. So much violence. So many American flags. The young  man with Down’s Syndrome steps up to the mic, takes a tremulous breath, and sings “Star-Spangled Banner”. There isn’t a dry eye in the house! Personally,  I like to picture the Founding Fathers scoring touchdowns. Probably because it is about as absurd as linking this game to whatever it is we are supposed to represent as a country.

8. Female Fans. I don’t want to make any friends mad, but girl, I just don’t get it. I’ve been to the parties. I’ve been to NFL games with my Dad. I enjoyed the company, but not the game. But some of you act just as wild as the boys! Little jerseys! Team logo manicures! I have asked a few women, and I have yet to have one give me a convincing argument as to why they love this sport. Their mouths are saying “blah blah blah” but I’m hearing “But I look AMAZING in those colors!” If you just want to party, that’s totally cool. But don’t lie to a sister.

9. It takes FOREVER to get a fucking pizza delivered. 

10. Shit talking. I’m talking to you, COWORKERS. It was enough that I had to endure the whole fantasy football season. All that shit-talking, about something that is, admittedly, fantasy. I pretended to ignore you guys but I was tempted to scream “Look over there it’s two leprechauns tongue-kissing!” But now it’s all “I’m going to eat soooo much this Sunday! I’m going to drink sooooo much this Sunday!” I don’t want to be an asshole, but how is that different from the other 364 days of the year, exactly?

Jeez, Debbie Downer, is there anything you like about the Super Bowl?

Yes. The cheerleaders! I love them. They make me feel better about my own life choices. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff, but I’ve never been an orange person wearing lycra hot pants and clown makeup, just a half-second off beat, sadly twerking to a TLC medley. I mean, ok, I have been, but not on national TV.

Also, hot wings.

Be safe this Sunday!

Nicki

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Two cats, a killer, and Craigslist: Time Travel with Nicki Ep. 2

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It all started because I had two cats I needed to get rid of. And by get rid of, I mean give them away to a good home, not drown them in the bathtub or anything. I should tell you right now I am not a cat person. I am a bit of an attention whore and I need animals who will stare deeply into my eyes all day, follow me around, and laugh at my jokes. That’s why I have dogs now. Hell, it’s probably why I have a kid. But cats make you work for their love, and I just didn’t have the time.

It was 2003 and I was living completely alone for the first time ever. I had an adorable loft apartment across the street from a crack house on the outskirts of downtown. It was great. When your neighbors are prostitutes and drug dealers, no one cares if you have your stereo up loud at night. One afternoon I remarked to a fellow I was casually dating, “you know, I think I need a pet.”

The next time he came over he brought two tabby kittens. Obviously, Romeo didn’t know me very well. A sensible gentleman would have brought me a goldfish, or paid for me to go to rehab. But I bought all the necessary cat junk for the little fur balls and promised myself I would be a good cat mommy.

I used to break all my promises to myself.

Fast forward six months. Romeo is history, like many a Romeo before him, and I am dating Johnny Hollywood. (Remember him? The guy who bought me these.) I am spending most nights at his place, because it is nicer, and since he has a severe case of psychosomatic asthma, the cats are not invited. “Well, at least they have each other”, I thought, as I dumped three days worth of kitty chow into a bowl. I would even leave the TV on CNN so they could stay up to date with world events and not feel sequestered.

Two young cats left to their own devices can be real assholes. They shredded my vintage leather jacket. They shredded my Dad’s old Pottery Barn couch. They shit in weird places, like on my pillow and in my shoes. After a month of little human contact and sporadic feeding, they had become mostly feral and had taken to scrounging for old Taco Bell in the trash.

Meanwhile, Johnny Hollywood had invited me to move in. But first, the cats had to go. But where? Hollywood suggested I place an ad on Craigslist. I thought Craigslist was just something guys used to have secret gay sex, but he assured me it works like a charm for getting rid of unwanted pets. I placed my ad (adorable cats free to good home) and waited.

And waited. And waited some more. Two weeks passed. One Monday night, I was sitting at my laptop googling “how to humanely kill cats” when my email notification pinged. It was a message from someone calling himself Andy. He wanted to come see the cats, he said. He and his girlfriend would take them if they were healthy. I texted the number with my address and told him to come on over. Praise Jesus, I thought, breathing in the ammonia scented air, these jerks are out of my life for good.

Less than an hour later, my doorbell rang. I opened the door, and immediately I felt something was wrong.

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Ok, it wasn’t that wrong. It was more like this…

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He was a youngish white guy. Pasty, thin. Completely nondescript. But even as I was ushering him in, my spidey sense was tingling like crazy. He stuck his hands in his pockets, shrugged his shoulders, and smiled. With his mouth, not his eyes. His eyes were like two dead fish floating in a bowl.

“Hi. I’m Andy. I’m here to see those cute wittle kitties.”

I’m not kidding, he seriously said “wittle”. I started to feel panicky.

“Uh, yeah. Sure, sure. Um, let me go grab them. Uh, where’s your girlfriend? I figured she would want to check them out, too.”

“Sabrina’s at work. She trusts I’ll make the right decision. I always make the right decision. Ha! Well. We just really want…pets. Just some little things to love.”

“Umm, ok. They’re probably upstairs in my room. You just, um, hang out a minute and I’ll go get them.”

So I left him there, leaning creepily against the foyer wall while I climbed the spiral staircase to my bedroom. There were two thoughts swirling in my brain. One: something is up with this guy. He just doesn’t seem right. At all. Two: Once again I have proven to be too stupid to live. No one knows this guy is even here. Who invites some random Craigslist stranger into her home? All that reading up on serial killers, and I fall for the oldest trick in the book.

When I got to the top of the stairs, I stole a glance back down. “Andy” had moved over to the big windows on the other side of the room, and was peering outside through the slatted blinds. I crept into my bedroom and looked for the stupid cats. I finally found them sleeping in my closet, and stuffed one under each arm and crept back downstairs before Andy could locate the knife drawer.

“Aww, there’s the cute wittle guys! Hey, kitty kitty! Hey, kitty kitty!” He cooed in a strange, loud voice. He reached out a pale and flaccid arm toward me. Both cats jumped from my arms onto the couch. Their ears were laid straight back on their skulls. One was actually hissing.

“They’re actually total sweetie pies” I said idiotically. “They just need time to get used to people.”

“Ohhhh, I can tell. I can tell you wittle kitties are sweet. Samantha is going to love you guys.” He was still smiling that weird smile. His hands were balled into fists. A muscle twitched near his eye. I crossed over to the windows. The blinds were always closed, because I lived across the street from a crack house and all. I opened them now, and looked out.  A lone hooker stood on the corner, hot boxing a Newport. As I watched, she ground the butt under her heel and walked away. The street was utterly deserted. No one to bear witness to my grisly murder.

“I thought you said her name was Sabrina.”

“That’s what I SAID.” For the first time, his smile faltered, and he looked nonplussed. “You think I don’t know my own girlfriend’s NAME? You need to clean out your ears. Hahaha!” He reached for the cats again. They darted behind the couch. He threw his arms out wide and smiled a huge crazy smile.

“I’ll take ‘em!! This deal is too good to pass up. You said you would give me the carrier too, right?”

“Ummm, yeah, the carrier is included. I have half a bag of food too, and toys.”

“Just the carrier. Samantha already got them food and toys. And TREATS. Lots of treats for my new wittle kitties.”

“Ok, well. Ok. Like, you want to take them right now?”

“That’s what I SAID, isn’t it? I’m a busy guy. I took a break from my important JOB to come over here. Sabrina can’t wait to see these little guys, and I know better than to disappoint my Sabrina.”

My body was buzzy with adrenaline. My butt was all sweaty. I couldn’t think clearly. I just wanted this guy out of my apartment. And I hadn’t forgotten my objective, which was ridding myself of these cats.

“Their carrier is upstairs. I’ll go get it.” I climbed back up the stairs, back into my room, and was in the closet reaching for the carrier when I heard an unmistakeable noise. The light tread of footsteps on my wrought-iron stairs. I whipped around, holding the carrier out in front of me like a lion tamer with a stepstool, and he was in the doorway of my bedroom.

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“What are you doing?” I said in a choked voice.

“I just wanted to see what was up here.”

I pushed past him, still holding the carrier in front of me. “It’s my room. Just my room. Do you want something to drink? Let’s go downstairs so you can get something to drink.”

He followed me down the stairs, and for the whole 6 seconds I kept waiting for his hands to close around my throat. They didn’t. I gave him a can of Mountain Dew from the fridge which he slurped greedily while I wrestled the hissing beasts into the carrier.

“Please take good care of them.” I was almost in tears.

“You know I will.”

And with that, he was gone. After I slid the deadbolt, I realized he never even asked the cats’ names.

Oh, man, I hope he didn’t kill my cats.

Oh, shit, I kind of think he killed my cats.

So. That’s the story of the time I met a serial killer on Craigslist. I mean, I’m pretty sure he was a fledgling killer, and I think by now he’s probably killed at least a few people. And what did I learn? I learned to be a little more careful about strangers. I realize most people cover this territory in elementary school, but alas, I took the road less travelled to maturity and adulthood.

I also learned that I am a complete asshole. I sacrificed those poor animals to save my own precious hide. But it didn’t bother me for too long. A week later I was on a flight to Amsterdam with Johnny Hollywood, and Andy and the cats were just another memory shoved down into the vault.

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P.S. What do YOU think? Was Andy a killer or was this just my imagination gone horribly awry? Have you ever felt Stranger Danger? How did you deal with it? Tell me all about it in the comments.

P.S.S. Please don’t call PETA on me. I take lovely care of my animals these days.

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Nicki and the terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day

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I had the night sweats again so I woke up with my sheets sticking to me and my foot was asleep and my mouth tasted like I slept with a dead squirrel inside it and Sadie was yelling from her bedroom “Mama! Ma-maaaa! Miiiiilk! I want milk” and as I sat up in my bed I realized my head was pounding and I thought to myself

it’s going to be a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day.

As I walked into the bathroom to take a pee I stubbed my toe on Sadie’s stepstool and hopped around on one foot cursing while Sadie stood in the hallway yelling like a drill sergeant for her milk. Most days she is a little ray of morning sunshine but I could tell today was not going to be one of those days.

So we go downstairs and I get her a snack and try to make coffee but I left the creamer on the counter for a whole day and night so now it’s no good and so I put milk in it but I really don’t like it like that but oh well if I don’t have caffeine I might die. But then I’m messing around on Facebook while Sadie watches cartoons and while I’m not paying attention she drinks like half my coffee so now she’s in a bad mood and filled with terrible energy. Meanwhile I have zero energy and I’m looking around at the messy house that I’m constantly meaning to organize and out the windows at the frozen world outside and I realize I give zero fucks about accomplishing anything today because it’s pretty obvious that

it is a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day.

Now I know this is the point where I could have said attitude is everything and put good energy out there and good things will happen and it’s all about perspective and maybe I could just pray to Jesus but in case you haven’t noticed that’s not really me and sometimes it’s fun to just revel in your own depression so I just wasted time until it was time to get ready for work. And by waste time I mean stalk people I hate on Facebook while avoiding phone calls from people I actually like.

So as usual I didn’t give myself enough time to get ready and the shower water ran cold because my house is old and I’m pretty sure that instead of using shampoo and conditioner I used conditioner twice because my hair felt like an oiled pelt after I dried it. And I had a pimple in my forehead wrinkle which made me muse for a while about how sad it is that I am at an age where I have acne AND wrinkles. And as I was getting dressed I realized I am skinny fat from eating too many baked goods and where is my ass? I guess it’s hibernating for the winter because I can’t find it anywhere so I put on a long tunic and leggings to hide my lack of ass and couldn’t find my favorite necklace and my boots are covered in black snow sludge but fuck it I’m late.

But I had to stop for gas because of course I’m on empty because I have poor planning skills and even though I’m running late I stopped at The Coat Factory to see if I could find a new winter coat because I have a gift card and my parka is ripped up the back and looks very not professional. But even though they are called the fucking Coat Factory all they have are summer dresses, pink and yellow and blue, all hanging there mocking me because it is 7 degrees outside. I finally find one coat that is my size but it is a floor length faux fur with giant golden buttons and I’m sorry but that is just not happening. So I left and went to get a drive-thru burger and fries because I need something to make me happy in this

terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day.

But of course there is a traffic jam on the expressway because humanity is horrible so I sit there listening to NPR and some awful girl is talking about a support group she started so that incredibly rich young people can get together and talk about how hard it is to be incredibly rich and then the news comes on and they are talking about the NSA and privacy issues and I start thinking about all those google searches I did this week about brony porn and adult babies and I get nervous but not too nervous because I spilled gasoline on my boots and I think I’m kind of high.

So I pull up to work only 10 minutes late and find a spot only 3 blocks away so I go inside and clock in and eat my cold fries and burger with soggy bun. And they bought me a new serrated knife to cut lemon and lime slices with and I’m really excited because my old one was really dull and I was always afraid I’d cut my finger off so I slice a few lemons and it’s like cutting butter and I yell out to my coworker Nick “hey look how sharp my new knife is” and promptly slice my finger open. And it’s one of those little cuts that bleeds like crazy so I go in the kitchen to get a bandaid and the chef tells me we don’t have any bandaids and I’m like we’re a restaurant how do we not have any bandaids? And he’s all well we had a huge box of bandaids but they fell into a vat of oil. So I finally use a tampon from my purse to stanch the blood and after about an hour I realize that no one is coming into the restaurant because it’s a polar vortex and apparently people would rather stay home and eat pizza than venture out for fancy food and drinks. So they let me go home because it’s clear that I am in the midst of a

terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day.

And it takes forever to get home in the traffic because humanity is horrible and I stop at the grocery store to buy some fish sticks and everyone in the world is at the grocery store because god knows if we get an inch of snow everyone is confined to their homes indefinitely. But finally I get home and my head is still pounding and when I go upstairs to put my PJs on I realize my lousy pug took a shit in my bedroom and I think about beating him but even when you’re having a bad day violence is never the answer. And I don’t have clean PJs because I didn’t finish the laundry so I put on mismatched sweats and go downstairs and cuddle with Sadie who at least is being much nicer now.

And I was going to write a blog post about the time I met a serial killer on Craigslist but I just don’t feel like it and instead I watch Netflix and I marvel that they have literally thousands of options but most of them are stupid like Cupcake Boss and Extreme Treehouses. So I finally watch some documentary about ancient ruins but I’m not really paying attention because Sadie is telling me a long drawn-out story about fish that is more interesting anyway. And Joe is being pretty quiet because he is having a bad day too I think but I don’t ask because I’m having my me time and besides I’m the only one allowed to have a

terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day.

So finally it’s bedtime and Joe has to cuddle with Sadie until she falls asleep because she’s a daddy’s girl like that and as I’m brushing my teeth I hear a knock at the front door and it’s a man asking if he can borrow a cup of sugar but before I can answer he grabs me and throws me in the back of his stinky van and drives me to this shack in the middle of the woods to be his bitch for ever and ever.

Ok so that last part wasn’t true but I do think about things like that to try and put things into perspective because that would definitely be worse than the day I had. But it doesn’t really work because even though logically I realize my life is better than someone’s who gets raped every day and even though I’m not on death row or a quadriplegic or work in a button factory for a living and all my problems are minor first world problems they’re my problems, dammit, and I can feel sorry for myself if I want to.

So I climb in my big cozy bed and prop up some pillows to rest against and listen to the quiet nighttime sounds of dogs snoring and the furnace clicking on and the wind whistling outside and finally my mind quiets and I feel at peace and read a book until I fall asleep and it is, by far, the absolute best part of this

terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day.

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Saddle up! It’s time for a Brony Smackdown!

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We are living in the goddamned end times. I just know it. I’m not too religious, but the prophecies of the Book of Revelation are everywhere. The sun is scorching the Earth. Justin Bieber is the Antichrist. Miley Cyrus is the Whore of Babylon. But where are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you ask? Well, sometimes things get lost in translation.

Because they’re really PONIES.

Can you sprinkle a turd with pixie dust and call it a movement? Bronies seem to think so. If you haven’t heard the term, get caught up.  But the quick and dirty is this: My Little Pony are toys made by Hasbro since the 1980′s. I had them. They were cute and they smelled like plastic birthday cake. In 2010, Hasbro introduced a new generation of the toys and as a handy marketing tie-in, a show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Hasbro has a long history of this. GI Joe. The Transformers. Jem and the Holograms. Insipid little cartoons that were basically 20 minute commercials for their products. But this show found an unlikely legion of fans: adult males in their early to mid-20s. Hence, Bronies.

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This weekend I watched a documentary on Netflix, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. The film is fan produced, so it’s very pro-Brony and total clopaganda. I augmented my findings with some online research. I’m now sure of two things.

One: I may never have sex again. These bronies have killed my lady boner. The more I learn, the more my vagina gets very sad. She is now in full mourning and will only wear black panties. Even looking at pictures of Ryan Gosling could not coax her out of hiding.

Two: This is not hipster irony. Or even your average creepily virginal fandom. This is, 100%, a religious movement that is growing at an alarming rate. We MUST corral this herd of idiots before it’s too late.

In an informal survey, as many as 12 million Americans identify as Bronies. To put that in perspective, there are only 10 million Scientologists WORLDWIDE. These ponyboys have a MASSIVE online presence, attend conventions, and spread their message of Magical Friendship. They even have their own lexicon. “Everybody” becomes “everypony”.  A fist bump is a Bro-hoof. And their tagline? I’m gonna tolerate and love the shit out of you.

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Well, hay, Nicki, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? I mean lots of parents and even psychologists think the Brony message is a good one. It’s better than all that violent video gaming isn’t it? Better than looking at porn all day?

Do not google My Little Pony Rule 34.

OK, are you back? After your eyeballs finish rupturing, let’s continue. It would behoof you to listen next time. Sure, the porny ponies make up a small part of the fandom, along with the furries and the boys who wear tails that don’t require glue. Psychologists are quick to point out that the vast majority of bronies are white, heterosexual, college-educated males. Some have gone so far as to praise the Bronies for ushering in a new era of masculinity. Some call it the New Sincerity Movement.

Is this supposed to make me feel better? Look, my dismay has nothing to do with worrying about pedophiles living in their parents’ basements. I am really fucking FREAKED OUT that the hope of our collective future is spending their time making cupcake memes and farting rainbows and deluding themselves into thinking that it’s somehow relevant. I’m not having a knee-jerk reaction to gender bending, I’m having a visceral reaction to the utter pointlessness of it all.

And this is not revolutionary gender-bending either. Shit, David Bowie did it 30 years ago with a lot more swagger. At least Ziggy Stardust got laid. And if we’re going to start relaxing gender roles, can we at least start somewhere more significant? Like maybe we can stop calling God “Him”?

And what about this universal love? Are you seriously trying to tell me that we should love everyone, no matter what? “Hey Hitler, are you going to BronyCon?” That’s a terrible message! That’s why the stupid show is marketed to kids in the first place. By the time we reach middle school, most of us realize that the world is filled with assholes and the last thing they deserve is a fucking hug. This is a vapid philosophy devoid of logic.

That’s my problem. This is not….ANYTHING. There is a vast whistling emptiness at the heart of youth culture today. Some say things like Bronyism are a natural response to post-911 America. Some have compared them to hippies during the Vietnam War.

Hand me a beer, ya’ll, because my head is going to explode.

Hippies were fighting against something. Hippies were pushing back against authority. Hippies were trying to build a less materialistic, more free and open culture. Who really benefits from the Brony movement?

Fucking HASBRO, that’s who.

Let’s take a look at this beneficent company, shall we? It’s the largest toy company in the world. Nearly all of their production has been outsourced to East Asia, in factories they neither control nor oversee. We all know how that goes. They decimated ancient Indonesian forests for their packaging until Greenpeace jumped their shit. The state of Rhode Island gave them 1.6 million dollars to create more jobs, and instead they cut 10% of salaried employees. Meanwhile, CEO Brian Goldner just renewed his contract for an obscene amount of cash.

I mean, c’mon. This is the company that thought lawn darts were a good idea. This is the company that still packages Easy Bake Ovens in pink boxes and markets them exclusively to girls.

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So while these manchildren are spreading their message of friendship and inclusion, they are sacrificing their gifts on the altar of corporate greed, and urging consumer culture ever onward and upward. Blow me, Bronies.

This is the endgame of twenty years of drugging our kids with Ritalin and food additives. Search Bronies on Youtube. Look at their pasty, living-in-captivity faces. Their doughy, hyperactive bodies. Their vacant eyes. Their utter soullessness.

And nobody wants to say anything bad. Parents don’t want to be anything but accepting nowadays. Nobody wants the kids feeling bad about themselves. But guess what, feeling bad about yourself is not necessarily a bad thing if you are doing something profoundly stupid.

Trust me, I know. I felt bad about myself for twenty years, and then I grew up.

Grow up, Bronies.

Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

Go outside. Have sex with a girl, or a guy. Make some art that isn’t derivative. Read a fucking book. Eat a fucking vegetable.

But mostly, grow the fuck up. You’re not unique, or important. None of us are. We are all just warts on the asshole of the world. At least some of us know it.

I’ve sat through the cults of Christianity and CrossFit, but this is just too much. We are ripe for extinction. We are in fact, devolving.

Every generation has its moment when they pass the torch to the next generation. Not me. I’m hanging on to it until they prove they’re worthy. I’m not letting these dipshits play with fire.

Fish Stick dipped

Help! I’ve been Hooked!

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Actually, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t like an anal probe, or anything.

My blog is called The Nicki Daniels Interview and no one has asked me any fucking questions! Until now. Mosey on over to 5×5 with The Hook and read my very first interview HERE. Revel in my awesome and while you’re there, check out the archives to meet some other great bloggers.

This week on the NDI we’re getting back to fun time, ya’ll. It’s been entirely too somber around here and I’m over it! so bookmark this page and come back tomorrow, because I’m delivering the smackdown to the Brony movement.  It’s gonna be a cloppin’ good time! Friday is part 2 of Time Travel with Nicki where I will tell a harrowing tale about the time I met a serial killer on Craigslist.

Shameless plug, over.

Mmmm….fish sticks….