Tag Archives: I am a Mountain Girl

If you could change one thing about your body…

Hold up.

This is not an attack on body image, it’s an answer to a question that comes up too often, even now when we should know better.

If you could change ONE thing about your body, what would it be?

I would have my nose hairs altered.

Why nose hairs?

On a biological level, I understand them. They filter things out so we don’t inhale rocks into our lungs. They are like little fur coats, helping to keep our mucous linings warm so we don’t freeze our brains while sucking in cold air (that is not a scientific explanation, by the way; don’t quote that on a test) Yet, I wonder why we have not evolved beyond such rudimentary protection methods. I know my life would be a lot better without the need for these dark strands of evil.

I loathe my nose hairs to such a degree that they represent the ultimate agitation in life, they are the the symbol of all things miserable. I can tell how stressed I am based on my dreams; when I begin to dream of nose hair, I know it is time to go to the hospital.

Here’s what I mean:

Mild Stress Indicator Dream: The standard going to class naked, forgetting the locker combo, getting lost in school and being late fare. This dream shows me I am under some stress but it’s generally superfluous and my brain will work it out on its own.

Medium Stress Indicator Dream: The ex-boyfriend who should have cancer based solely on the amount of ill-will I bear him starts showing up and trying to get my attention or assumes nothing has changed between us an can’t figure out why I won’t talk to him. This dream lets me know that my stress level is now noticeable and is something I should keep an eye on.

Strong Stress Indicator Dream: I find myself needing to poop but there’s some reason I can’t use the toilet or I’ll find a toilet in the middle of a giant, empty room and just as I start stinkin’ up the joint, all these people come in and want to talk to me and I’m pretending nothing is happening but I’m desperate to finish my business and I really want them to leave but they mill around and ask me to do stuff and I need to discreetly wipe before I stand up and there is panic. You can imagine my horror at the Poo-pourri commercial. Sometimes the toilet isn’t even a working toilet; it is there as a piece of art or because it needs to be installed in another room and then I have to figure out how to get rid of my horribly smelly evidence once I sneakily clean myself, pull up trow, and make it look like I was never evacuating wastes there in the first place. Now we are in serious dream territory. My stress levels are high and I need to manage them or else there will be problems. At the very least, I will get sick. At the worst, I will turn into Godzilla and kill the entire city of Tokyo.

Maximum Stress Indicator Dream: I feel a tickle on my upper lip. I am usually talking to someone important like my boss or the president of a country who could make war on us or sometimes even to Jenny Lawson. The tickle worsens and I stealthily brush it away with the back of my hand. The tickle continues and as it grows stronger, I begin to sweat, to worry, to freak out. There’s something on or hanging out of my nose and I need to rectify this immediately but can’t think of a graceful way to break from the person to whom I am speaking. Also, I can no longer let that terribly important person see my face so I am trying to have a conversation while averting everything under my eyes from their gaze. Things get awkward as I surreptitiously attempt to assess the damage. As I lightly, quickly brush the nostril area with curious fingers, I feel fur. Like a mouse. I think there is a mouse hanging out of my nose. On the next swipe, I search for a tail. I find none. As my stress levels rise and I continue to find a way to disengage from the conversation in the hopes of finding a private bathroom with good lighting and a clean mirror, I become more neurotic in my ninja-like fumblings around my nose holes and finally, horrifically, it becomes clear: I have an entire handlebar mustachio emerging from both nostrils made entirely of tickling nose hairs. I cover my nose and mouth and run away crying in shame. My life is terrible, bad things are happening, and I’m probably five seconds away from a heart attack. This is the end. It’s time to take down Tokyo.

This is what I think my nose hair looks like.

How my nose hair feels – and probably looks – in my dream.

Yes. Nose hairs are the pinnacle of awful personal worries, worse than showing up to class sans vestments, worse than being hounded by a hated ex, worse than pooping smellily in front of a crowd. No worry tops the  worry of nose hair.

The most terrible part is that my Maximum Stress dream all too often borders on reality. I’ll be driving to work, breathing, like people do, and I’ll feel a tickle just on the inside of my nostril. I always have reason to believe that I’ve inhaled a cat hair since I tend to smoosh my face into my cats’ bellies or backs, breathing deeply, on a regular basis. I often find cat hair on my person, in my billfold, in my underwear…it’s everywhere, including up my nose. So I’ll lightly pinch my nostrils together and gently pull downward, hoping to catch the tip of a feline fur and guide it to freedom. I would guess that 1 time out of 10, there really is a cat hair and it’s usually one that has wormed so far up that the other end is wrapped around my eyeball and pulling it free is a terrible and strange sensation, resulting in watering eyes and squeaky shrieks of something like pain that’s not actually pain.

Those other 9 times? It’s a nose hair. It’s an errant nose hair that has grown its way to sunlight and is blowing in the breeze of my breath, softly bouncing against the skin around my nostril. Why is this allowed to happen? Why don’t they just stop growing at .1 cm? WHY?

I try to ignore it. I try so hard. But I can feel it, wafting in and out on the tide of breath. Before long, it’s all I feel. There is no autumn sunset on my face, there are no fingertips thawing from scraping winter ice from the windshield, there is no wind in my hair on a beautiful summer morning. There is only the exquisite torture of a nose hair licking my tender skin with every intake and exhalation of oxygen through my nasal passages. Even breathing through my mouth sets the follicle a-quiver.

I lose all sense of sanity and decorum; I attack my face…in the car where other motorists can see me. Making tweezers of my thumbnail and the pad of my forefinger, I attempt to locate and dislodge the offending piece of hair. Often, I find it but lose it after my swift tug yields no result. I drive down the road, pecking at face with my own fingers, shrieking like a banshee as I fly at 75 MPH. There is nothing in the world but this battle.

Inevitably, I win, but success comes with a price. My fingerpad is sore and throbbing from having my pointy little thumbnail jammed into it for minutes on end. And when the root of the hair finally pulls free, it hurts. It’s always a deep root, one that goes straight to the bone of my nose, a bone most people don’t have but I know I do because I can feel the hair coming from there. It is such a sharp, swift pain, worse than a needle, worse than a burn. The pain brings tears. And yet, these minor miseries are nothing in comparison to the hair, itself. I roll it between my swollen fingerpad and thumb, relishing my victory. Then I look upon it with triumph and see that the little bastard is half an inch long.


If you are not alarmed, go get a ruler and look at the length of half an inch. Nothing that long should be up inside anyone’s nose.


I scream. I scream for minutes, in pain, in terror, in horrified fascination, and in complete disappointment that my body would let this happen. Again.

My fellow road-passengers hurry to pass me, wondering if I am an escapee from some asylum who will undoubtedly be on the news tonight, in the center of a multi-vehicle pile-up.

It doesn’t end there.

When I get home that night, I wage war. Me, the tweezers, and the bathroom mirror, we are the Allies. I pull out every damned hair in my nostrils, every single one I can see, feel, or whose presence I merely suspect. They all come out. I do not care that it hurts, I do not care if I make my nose bleed. I do not care that this results in minutes-long sneezing fits. Furthermore, I do not care if I start inhaling boulders into my lungs or if the air I breathe turns to ice when it passes my brain resulting in permanent neurological damage.

I. Do. Not. CARE.

The nose hairs have to go.

Do you know what my brother told me recently? He told me that he had this blemish on his nose that hurt like nothing he’d ever felt before. It lasted for weeks and would never come to a head. It was just a big, red, sore spot that persisted despite all his attempts to rid himself of said blight. The pain became unbearable and he was left with only one option: dig at the spot until something happened.

It runs in the family, ok? We’re all still alive, so just shut up.

Anyway, do you know what he found?

An ingrown nose hair. A nostril hair that he’d pulled months before had grown back on the inside of his nose, all curled up and evil. He said it was a good half inch long when he straightened it but that it would’t stay straight and kept springing back to its mutant form.

When he told me this, I passed out.

The only thing worse than a half-inch nose hair is the half inch nose hair you pulled out but that returned INGROWN.

Now that I know this, I suspect my Maximum Stress dreams are about to become that much more horrifying.

I hate nose hairs. 

And that is the one thing I would change about my body if I could.

**This post is lovingly dedicated to Sam from Normal For Norfolk as she is my sister in nose-hair hatred.


Filed under My Opinions on STUFF

Welcome to February

Well, hi there!

So this isn’t one of the posts I’ve got simmering in the hopper, it’s a freshly-written bit that I didn’t know I was going to write until just now.

It’s February! I hate this month! I always have. It’s dreary, cold, and the holiday I most resent pops up on the 14th; it’s just a bad month for me.

This year, February started out snowy for much of the nation.

This is a mostly-common sight right now except for maybe the blue sky. But it’s all snow, all the time, all over the nation right now. Yay.

I started the month with the flu. Not a stomach bug, but the flu that kills old people and children and is mentioned alongside the term “epidemic” in history books. Yeah, that flu. Because February can always get worse.

But you know what? It hasn’t been that bad. The snow kept me inside and we had a fire going so I could huddle near it when I had chills. We have a dog visiting for the month, perhaps one who will come stay with us for good come spring. It’s nice to have a dog in the house again; I still miss Daisy something fierce but this new guy is funny and keeps me active…even though active is the very last thing I need right now.

Gabe’s been taking fantastic care of me. The first night I was sick, he went out to get me food and whiskey (he got me Fireball for the extra burn)(if you’re wondering why I needed whiskey, it’s because I don’t like Nyquil so I made hot toddies – whiskey, fresh-squeezed lemon, honey all mixed together in hot water – to help with the cough and sore throat and the luxury of sleep) In a flash of brilliance, he also got me a video game. He came home and told me it was like I had a penis. I was all, “What? Where’d I get a penis?” He answered, “This is typically the kind of stuff you get a guy, not your sick wife.”

Good husband. Gooood husband!

The video game – Final Fantasy XIV – turned out to be more help than all the whiskey and cold/flu pills combined (don’t combine those, actually) See, my aches and pains and issues with breathing made it so I couldn’t lie in my bed for hours on end, asleep, like I normally do when I’m ill. I was uncomfortable in bed, on the couch, out in the snow with the dog, I was uncomfortable anywhere but in a chair that made me sit upright. I was still uncomfortable there but at least my ribs didn’t hurt when I breathed. But this video game, it made all the difference because it was a huge distraction. During my waking hours, I could sit there and steer a little person around, doing things, seeing things, hearing things, not noticing that my ears were so full of pressure that I got a stabbing pain when I swallowed.

Gabe already had the game and he rolled up a new character so we could play together; it’s like we went back to our origins. Anyhow, there’s a cat-like race and we made a couple of those, naming them Toki and Evie. Yes. We made our cats so we could play them in an online video game. This is how we roll.

This is what Evie and Toki would like like if they were cat + people. No, really, they totally would.

But thank goodness we do because I’m not sure how I’d have survived the past week without Gabe’s care-taking abilities, but, more importantly, his forethought.

I went to the doctor yesterday. My flu was on its way out but had decided to leave me with a sinus infection and upper respiratory infection. I’m on antibiotics and am taking decongestants and expectorants and things are getting better. I’m even going to go back to work (unless I get snowed in) which is good news.

So it’s February, my least-loved month. It started out with snow and the flu but you know what? It’s been a better February than most so … welcome to the second month of 2014!

Coming up later: stories about nose hair, what I’ve been doing since I’ve last posted, and more! Stay tuned!


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds

Well, crap. I’m becoming my mother.

My mom has this big worry  that she will die and no one in the family will know how to preserve food. I think it keeps her awake at nights, or used to, up until Little B started showing some interest in the kitchenly arts. Not to be upstaged by my suck-up neice, I spent Labor Day weekend in my mom’s cucina, canning things.

Ok, technically, I jarred things and, honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I always think it is. But there’s a reason I hate canning, believing it to be akin to medieval torture. My mom has always canned stuff from the garden as well as things found in the woods. Nice, right? No, not when you’re forced into summertime slave labor and have to work your child fingers to the bone, peeling and chopping and cold-bathing fruits and veggies, all the while asphyxiating on the toxic fumes of pickle brine. Seriously, it’s a horrible past time, especially if you really want to be outside playing.

It was bad enough Mom sent us to harvest choke- and pin-cherries down in  The Glen — She’d throw us out of the house with margarine tubs and tell us we weren’t allowed back until they were full. Chris would finish in half an hour, drop off his bucket, and go exploring. Noelle, Bedot, and I, though, it took us all day. Know why? Chris put his hand at the top of the cherry-laden limb and pulled downward, dumping everything into the bucket…leaves, twigs…Spike, but we girls, much like Mopsy, Flopsy, and Cottontail or whatever her name was, were very careful in our picking, taking only the ripe and juicy berries from the tree and leaving the shriveled ones, the green ones, the bitter ones for all our woodland friends. Also, we knew we’d have to sort through them later so may as well do the sorting first and save ourselves some time — Anyway, we harvested stuff and that should have been enough, but it wasn’t. We had to help preserve it, too, like we were Laura Ingalls Wilder or something. That, quite naturally, created within all of us a loathing of preserving food. I remember thinking it would be better to starve in the winter than to put up pickled things for those long, dark months. I may have been a slightly melodramatic kid. I really did hate canning, though. Even freezing became tainted simply because it was vaguely related.

Back to this weekend. I had a few extra zucchini hanging around (like a seven thousand) and Mom has a recipe for zucchini relish. Since she was going to have all the canning paraphernalia going anyhow, she asked if I’d like to come over to help her and also make some zucchini relish, myself. Being the amazingly dutiful daughter I am, I said, “Why, yes, that sounds…great.” I grabbed my zukes, along with my neighbor and her things-to-be-canned, and we went to put stuff in jars.

I want to make a big deal out of it, a tale of woe filled with blood and lost limbs but…it was really easy. And fast. Well, my relish was fast. My neighbor’s salsa was not as it was her first time canning ever and also my mom had never made salsa so it became a big experiment but the point here is, it wasn’t like I remembered. It wasn’t a torture session and I didn’t leave crying. I also didn’t get to help my mom with her canning because we ran out of time so I went back the next morning and we worked on the tomatoes. I remembered that I love peeling tomatoes! I could do that all day! (But only for one day out of the year; I wouldn’t want it as my career, or anything) We put up 5 pints of almost-overripe New Girls with basil and they look lovely. They’ll taste lovely when I make them into spaghetti sauce this winter.

These are 2 of my 7 jars of zucchini relish. They contain all of my own zucchini and garlic, some of my own onions and carrots, and storebought peppers because I didn’t grow any this year.

So maybe this canning business isn’t as horrible as my childhood memories tell me it is. Maybe this is something I could do with my mom every year. I’d get to learn how to make her pretty-much-famous sweet relish which I could then add to my collection of heirloom recipes and maybe I’d even bump Little B out of that coveted Favorite Child spot in the process! (ha ha, that’s a little canning humor, there)


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds, White trash childhood

Moon & Stars (not Danaerys)

Earlier in the month, I was driving home and noticed the star on the mountainside was all aglow as it had been every night since Independence Day. Normally, they turn it on the evening of the 4th after the fireworks, the lightbulbs are red, white, and blue, and we all celebrate. Then it’s off again until the end of the year. This year, the lights were white and they shone each night for 20 not-actually-consecutive nights in honor of the firefighters who lost their lives in Arizona in June (as Gabe found out when he asked at the library)

I thought I’d stop to take a picture. I used the camera on my tablet because it does better in the dark than my Adventure Olympus. Of course, it was important to post the pic to Facebook because, you know, proof and all. I walked from where I was parked over to the town library and sat by the door, sucking out wifi, uploading my starry-night goodness. Once I had finished the task, I stood, walked down the ramp, looked up and saw the star on the mountainside to my right and a crescent moon rising next to the mountain in front of me. It was an amazing sight.


The thing is, it was one of those moments, the kind I wish I could capture forever to replay in my future olden days. I regretted not having a better camera, one that does night pictures with grace and ease. It’s a regret I often have, actually, but it’s not something I want to use money to rectify because there are other things that need purchasing over a camera. You know, like my vast and crippling student loans.

Anyway, if I owned a good camera complete with filters and all that jazz, I would have been able to run home, grab it and the tripod, then run back down the street to an even better vantage point and get some seriously amazing shots. You have no idea what a phenomenal photographer I would be if only…
As it is, I have to make due with this and the memory of what I saw. And if you’re all, “Uh, no, that would be a stupid picture,” here it is without the graffiti, completely untouched. Can you not see the potential?



Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Phenomenal Fake Life

My tomatoes are turning into zombies but the cornflowers are cute.


So my tomatoes – you know, the Siberian one and the Czech one – are both infected with plague. I think it’s because Siberia and Czechoslovakia don’t have droughts and ridiculously high temperatures in their mountains whereas my backyard has both of those things this year.  I’ve babied these ungrateful plants and now all I can do is yell profanities at them and cry. I guess it’s like having a teenager come home with an STD or something.

I tried to cut off the badness but it just kept spreading. Now I’m taking pictures every week so as to be able to watch it die slowly and to remind myself that I should not even bother with tomatoes in the future.

Damnation. I am not amused by this. Not one little bit.

Being me, I freaked out and figured these two disease vectors would go after all the other plants in the yard just out of spite and malice so I moved them far away, over to the fence and to the neighbors’ stupid, invasive, evil acacia forest. The rest of my nightshades (ok, I’m showing off; they’re potatoes) seem to be doing fine as are the vine plants and the strawberries which is good because, apparently, they’re all susceptible to blight and other horrors.

Happy zukes, happy peas. No blight over here.

Ok, the cabbage isn’t at risk, I’m just bragging. They rarely do this in my garden but they seem to like heat and drought. I had no idea.

The strawberries, up there in the corner by my very classy animal-scarer-awayer, are thriving. And it appears the garlic will need harvesting this coming weekend.

As you can imagine, I’ve been bummed. Stupid tomatoes. However, my spirits were lifted on the 4th of July when Noelle and her family came over. She walked up to the door, saw my new Bachelor’s Buttons, and pretty much shrieked, “YOU HAVE CORNFLOWERS! I AM SO JEALOUS!” I always feel good when I can make her jealous.

We’ve loved these happy flowers since we moved to our little mountain town as children. I don’t think we’d ever seen them down in the city and they grew abundantly all through our new town along with the ornamental sweet peas, Oriental poppies, and wild roses. But the cornflowers were the most amazing; they’re bright and so round, like a wagon wheel that’s really fancy…and not on a wagon. They survive grubby child hands and they thrive even if you ride your bike over them every day. They’re wonderful little things and we fell madly in love with them, a love that has endured all this time.

Sadly, years later, they started to disappear. I don’t know what happened. The ones that did pop up were only blue, cornflower blue (that used to be a Crayola crayon color, do you remember?) and not the white-with-purple/pink-center or the light-pink-with-dark-pink-center or the megawatt-magenta (those are the most rare).  Just blue and few. Even now, I only see small patches of them in rocks or empty lots, not the proliferation from my childhood.

It was a happy day when they began blooming in my front yard, a whole new patch I’d seeded from the drought-resistant mix I bought this past spring. Even Noelle noticed their cuteness and I think I am going to Miss Rumphius their seeds up and down the roads this autumn so that my little mountain town will once again be colored with summer’s Bachelor’s Buttons which will, in turn, make me feel better about my failed tomatoes.

These were always my favorites.

Here’s a little pink Bachelor’s Button

This is where the term “Cornflower Blue” comes from, this here flower.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard