If You Invite a Watson to a Wedding: A Guest Post

Watson wrote me a guest post, because her explanation of what she was doing was too good not to share.   It also might be a bribe to sit her dog while she’s away this weekend . . .


I gift-wrapped a plunger yesterday morning.

This is not the first, nor even the third, time I’ve done that. And I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

And no, it’s not a joke or OCD.

The daughter of my good friend Denise, whom I met at the race track years ago and adopted into my extended motorcycle family, is getting married this weekend.  So Celie will be receiving the customary Watson Wedding Gift this weekend.

You see, the Wesson family has a long-standing tradition of giving the essentials—the non-glamorous gifts that receive a WTF look when first opened,* but two years later get a heart-felt “that was the BEST PRESENT EVER!”

At baby showers, we give shop rags and carpet cleaner.  You know, those fabulously unfabulous essentials.

Bucket ListSetting up a household is expensive. And buying all the crap to keep a household running and clean is REALLY expensive. So I like to give cleaning brushes for the bathroom and kitchen, mops and brooms, sponges and reusable rubber gloves and disposable rubber gloves, all kinds of cleaning agents for kitchen and bath, toilet bowl cleaners and yes, a plunger—because lemme tell ya, when you don’t have one and you need one, wow.

There’s band aids and hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin in there too. And a roll of duct tape and a black sharpie.

This ain’t my first rodeo.

All of this fits nicely in a 5 gallon bucket, which every household also needs (see note about not having one and needing one).**

Bucket List 4And of course, because I am a Wesson, I have to be both practical AND obnoxious, so I individually gift wrapped EVERY PIECE.

In addition to the plunger, I gift wrapped the scrub brush. And a whisk broom set. And a bottle of Windex. And the sharpie. And yes, I’m going to buy two large lovely bows to top the plunger and the toilet bowl brush.

They’re just lucky I didn’t do what I did to my brother and wrap his gifts in duct tape (talk about your long-standing, really hard to explain family traditions).

And (big sigh) this present is going to be my introduction to the groom and his parents.

Welcome to the motorcycle racing family, y’all.

I had a ball running through Target, grabbing all the stuff. In that Classic Midwestern strike-up-a-conversation-with-a-stranger way, I even had a couple of little old ladies happily chipping in their two cents.

Bucket List 5

What else would you have included?


*Sarah’s note: My mother had her own tradition of buying underwear for potential sons-in-law.  I assume it was a test of some sort, or perhaps a warning.  My husband passed with remarkable aplomb; he didn’t even run, when I admitted that I had no idea how she knew his size.

**Sarah’s note:  This is so true—when I was first married, I didn’t know you had to buy buckets.  Buckets—like Pepto Bismol in the medicine cabinet—just happened. Except they really, really didn’t.


Sitting in a Tree, T-E-X-T-I-N-G: A Guest Post Update

Watson here, Sarah’s sister in law and intrepid substitute blogger.  When last you heard from me, I was embarking on a marvelous adventure called “online dating.” 

Since some of you have asked Sarah how I’ve been doing with that, I thought I’d give her a break today (Sarah’s note: alligators!) and describe my awesome experience.

Overview: Online Dating

There’s a certain fun freedom to online dating.  The Internet provides that marvelous anonymity– sure, folks hide behind it to become e-thugs or iThugs (depending on your operating system), but it also lets you lurk in relative safety.  Which, given some of the creepazoids online, is comforting while online dating.

For online dating, it also means you get to ask all of your qualifying questions before that awkward first date—you know the ones, the really important ones, the make or break questions, like Are you a DC or Marvel comics guy?  Hey, mixed marriages can be rough.  Oh, you’ve been married three times?  Next.  Oh, your profile says you’re six one but you’re really five seven?  Next.

Die alone TextIt’s a bit frustrating.  You have to weed through the freaks, the sexual deviants, and the flakes.  And the guys desperate for the American green card— let’s not forget those.  Not entirely sure how many times I was propositioned, or misled into a conversation only to find out all he was looking for was a little cybernookie.  Call me old fashioned, but I’m not a big fan of taking pictures of me naked and sending them out into the internet to be dug up ten years from now when I’m up for a curatorship at a major museum.

I met quite a few interesting people online—traveling contactors, teachers, businessmen, soldiers overseas in Iraq.  I was flattered by a 24 year old (not a cougar, sorry).  Sex freaks aside (that’s a post for an entirely different blog), most of the guys ended up duds and others didn’t seem to have enough of the kind of imagination required by the nut factory that is this family.

In the end, three guys made it past the first interview.

Pigeons in love

Guy the First: The Flake

We’ll call him Roger.

This guy was perfect for me— not only was he very smart, he was creative and fun and raced his Porsche at the track.  Like me, he was a bit of a speed freak.  It got even better—he was a comic book nerd.  He made a real good living.  His hobby was starting businesses.  He was the son of a diplomat.  He loved to travel. He was a foodie.  Did I mention he was a speed freak?  And wore glasses too?

Two months of texting and calling.  Really good rapport—even Sarah liked him.

So, we set up a Saturday date in Chicago—neutral territory as it were.  I’d planned to stay with friends, to ease Sarah’s fears of me being discovered in pieces in a garbage bag, and we talked three hours on the phone the week before The Big Date.  Everything was great.

And I never heard from him again.

Not an email, text, or phone call.  He just disappeared.

This is a family blog so I can’t record what my biker friends say of him. “Flake” is about as nice as they got.  Their anger on my behalf was heartening – and amusing.

So what did I learn?

Guys are flakes too . . . and looking back, he was probably married or otherwise committed.  Thank goodness I wasn’t too emotionally involved— sure I moped a bit (the guy was PERFECT after all) but no real skin off my nose.  Better to have him flake out after two months than after a year or more.

The only thing I missed out on with Roger?  I never got my ride around the track in his Porsche.  Dammit.

Pigeons in love

Guy The Second: The Drill Sergeant

We’ll call this guy Lance.

If Roger was creative and able to communicate his feelings (even if he was lying through his teeth), this guy was . . . not.  A career Marine, he was a Lt. Colonel in the Special Forces.  He was the guy you never hear about in the news, the fearless guy, the one who does the dirty work.  If it kept America safe, he did it.  Politics aside, you gotta admire a guy with that much conviction.

He started off nice— just a guy with two college aged kids about to retire, looking for someone to grow old with.  Perfect!  I’m in!  He wanted someone to help take care of him, and let’s face it, I’m a caretaker.  If you’re willing to watch my back, I got yours.

Then the questionable questions started rolling in.  The ones that made you blink and go hmmm.  Apparently what this guy really wanted was a housewife from the 1950s.  After a month of texting—I hadn’t met the guy, remember—he invited me to South Carolina for the weekend and was insulted when I asked about a decent hotel.  I changed my mind, asked him to Chicago instead, saying that my family was a little worried about me meeting a new man in an unfamiliar city.    He was the father of a college aged woman, and he was upset about that?  Really?

I won’t bore you with the details, but Sarah and I had a lot of Wow, are you KIDDING me? conversations about this guy.  He was like Jekyll and Hyde.  Lesson learned: avoid the hardwired military men.

Pigeons in love

Guy The Third: The Keeper (?)

We’ll call this one Steve.

I showed Steve’s smiling picture to Sarah.  Her first comment: “that’s the guy.  He’s the one.”  What. A. Smile.

He had a great profile too—he listed the usual things like I hate coconut, but there were some funny gems, too.  Number 22 made me laugh out loud: I got my cootie shot in second grade.

He found me first, as he’s a little bit younger than my search range, and contacted me.  This led to some soul searching on my part—just how low in the 30s could I go without entering cougar territory?—but the difference was under a decade so okay, let’s see where we end up.  Comic book fan (check).  Movie buff (his collection makes mine look tiny, check).  Motorcycle license (check).  Esoteric trivia (check).  Quirky sense of humor (check).  Dr. Who fan (check).  Not a Monty Python fan (red flag!).

Typical exchange:

Me: Steve, what are you up to tonight? 

Steve: Same thing we do every night, Pinky.

Told that one to Sarah, who was ready to ship me off to Texas the next morning (Sarah’s note:  Lies—we’d all starve).

We eventually set up a date in Chicago.  I expected a one day date—sure, it was a long way to travel, but online chemistry doesn’t necessarily translate into face to face chemistry.  You don’t want to get stuck all day with a wet fish, right?

LovetextSomehow, as we planned, the one day date turned into two days.  Then, suddenly, I was picking him up Friday afternoon at the airport and dropping him off Monday morning.

Did I just sign up for a three day first date?

This was either going to be epic good, or epic bad.  Really, there was no grey area on this one. Bravely I soldiered on.

I got the nails did with Sarah Friday morning, took off for Chicago, checked into my hotel, paced the floor for an hour, chewed my thumb (carefully, it was freshly manicured), and headed for Midway.  Butterflies were in full effect as I waited at the luggage carousel.

Steve found that highly amusing—he was cool as could be.

Friday night was a bit awkward.  We were both tired, both nervous (well I was, anyway), and it showed.  We went for pizza at a place Yelp recommended—wow, it was bad.  I cannot express how bad that place was.  I don’t care if it’s a cheeseburger pizza, ketchup is not an appropriate sauce substitute.  Luckily, we bonded over the horrible and ended up laughing.

Driving back to the hotel, I of course took a wrong turn despite the GPS.  They became our in-jokes—bad pizza and wrong turns.

Saturday, we went to the motorcycle shop, of course, then did some shopping and hit the zoo.  He laughed at my well-documented phobia of snakes, I impressed him in the open bat enclosure by laughing at his nerves, and we had a great time watching the gorillas interact.

That night we went on a ghost hunt— not a ghost tour, a ghost hunt.

Not the best idea.  I’m a skeptic, he’s a believer, but we’re both scientists at heart and found the experience irritating at best.  We both manipulated results despite trying to play along and not ruin any of the other participants’ experiences.  Lame, but we both learned that we handle these kinds of situations with humor.

I was determined that he was going to have a decent Chicago pizza before he left, so we hunted up a Lou Malnotti’s near the hotel for lunch.  It was only a take-out place, but I brought my DVD player (nerd) and he’d brought some DVDs, too, just in case, so we decided to eat back at the hotel.  We were told the pizza would take 30 minutes.

He stole my heart when he looked at me, somewhat shy, and said, “I saw a comic book shop a few doors down, you mind walking over there with me?”

Nerds of a feather, as the saying goes.

We wasted 40 minutes in the comic book store before my stomach reminded me we had to get some lunch, and headed back to the hotel with our pizza to watch City of God and City of Men (both HIGHLY recommended).  Anything else we’d decided to do was put off because I had to finish those movies, even though I fell asleep halfway through City of Men out of sheer exhaustion.

It was a sad parting Monday morning, and of course I took a wrong turn getting home after dropping him off at the airport, which is on the same street as the hotel.  Seriously.  Fifty percent chance of getting it right, and I went left.

While I rolled my eyes at myself, my phone buzzed with a text.  Given the usual post-first date moratorium on communication for three days, and it had only been ten minutes, I figured it would be anyone but him.  I was wrong.

I’m through security, let me know when you get back to the hotel. 

I responded at a red light that I took a wrong turn “for old time’s sake” and would let him know when I was at the hotel.

His response? That’s my girl lol

I let him know I was back at the hotel.  His response: Did you throw the deadbolt? Want to make sure you’re safe.

I’m not used to other people taking care of me, but this self-rescuing princess could seriously get used to it.

That was two weeks ago.  We’re still talking.  He still makes me laugh.

But our schedules are not easily aligning for a second date*, and it might be January before I see him again.  I have a wedding to attend in October, he’s moving November, then the holidays.

I might have a (for lack of a better word) boyfriend—though nothing official has been discussed—and I can’t see him for another six months to officially discuss it?

Then I got a text this past Sunday morning.  How soon can you come to Texas?  I don’t want to wait until next year to see you again.  Come see me in September.

Holy crap.

I think I have a boyfriend!


*If the first date was three days long, which in time spent probably equaled a month’s worth of dating, is our next meeting really only the second date?  You make the call.

Sister In Law for Sale, Slightly Used, Asking Price OBO: A Guest Post

No, it’s not Sarah today1.  It’s Watson, her intrepid cub reporter and SIL, or, as we like to say, “sister from another mister.”

Today’s will be a post to file under the Lifestyle Section.

It starts off with some depressing backstory, but ends up with a funny kick to the rear.

Sarah is nothing if not highly amused* by the entire process.

I imagine a few of her followers are curious about why, exactly, I popped into her life so suddenly last spring.  Basically, in a nutshell, I woke up and realized that the relationship I was in was beyond toxic.  I am a fixer by personality and extremely loyal, so I kept trying to make everything right, but I was the only one.

And, you know, a relationship takes two.

The last straw came the week I was laid off.  He was being his usual selfish, emotionally abusive self, only seeing what my unemployment would do to his fully-supported lifestyle, and for once, I wasn’t taking it well.

And then he said, for about the hundredth time, “I don’t know why I’m still with you. I should just leave!”  This was his standard way to get me to rush in and fix the situation.  This time, I decided I was going to fix the situation.

I said, “You know what?  That’s a great idea.  Please leave.”

Gobsmacked face.  “But where will I go?”

Epiphany face. “Not my problem.”

It was time to start over and the Universe seemed to be saying it was time to leave the DC metro area.   Which is how I ended up here, sitting on the guest bed of my mom’s basement apartment in Sarah’s house, technically living out of Storage Unit 75, licking my wounds and dissolving into puddles of major depression and anxiety attacks.**

Which, if you know me, is not remotely like me.***  My friends nicknamed me Smiley, because I’m literally always smiling.  Or, they used to call me that.  See the bit about toxic relationship above.

Which brings us to The Kick In The Pants.

Fast CarsI’m a motorcycle girl at heart.  Life is just better on two wheels, that’s all there is to it.  I have a ton of biker girlfriends and we all tend towards loud statements (might be deafness from the wind noise), though our actions definitely speak louder than words.

Truth be told, biker girl actions tend to SCREAM.

So how was this screaming kick delivered, and why is Sarah weeping with laughter behind my chair as I type?

I was told, very clearly by one of them to “get back out there,” an order that held a surprising amount of weight, considering it came from a woman who also threatened to fly halfway across the country, ring our doorbell, slap me upside the head, and then fly home.  She is nothing if not determined.  And loaded.

And when I didn’t follow her “advice,” she took the low road and signed me up for online dating.

And supplied the images.

I was honestly surprised she hadn’t already set up my profile for me.

And she also recruited our mutual friends and they got in on the Badgering of Watson, and sent their own advice, dating columns, ebooks, and other links to dating sites.   And also a shockingly long discussion of what specific star signs to look for.

There was much pushing for an Aries.

I looked that up, ladies, so I know what you were hinting.

Apparently, my friends think I need to get laid.^

Seriously?  Am I that pathetic?^^

You know what—I’m not going to ask a bunch of biker chicks that question, for fear that they will answer truthfully.

FriendsSo over the weekend there was much giggling by Sarah at the profiles on the site, as well as by me.  Honestly, wish you were here, it was ever so much fun.

Our personal favorite was the poor gentleman who selected the screen name “Dungo Love Chocolate.”

Seriously?  Seriously? “Dungo Love Chocolate” was the best you could think of?  I don’t think I’d take that, even if the only other choice was “BigMember4U.”

I need to find my fellow nerds and gearheads on the site:  a “BikerBoy” and “Red2standingBy” and “GeekLove” and “GearHead68.”^^^

Or, you know, just someone nice for a change.~

So you’re welcome to contact Sarah, who might end up my pimp~~ as she goes about her library duties.  “Oh well thank you, I’m flattered, you’re cute too, but I’m married.  You’re tall, though, would you like to meet my sister in law?”

I imagine my dating woes will be a continuing source of amusement for Sarah’s muse, ~~~so keep an eye out for it.

So here’s to hoping Hottie McHottiepants— the tall geeky Aries with a — emails me back.

And seriously, thanks for the kick in the rear, ladies.  I’m your classic Scorpio, so it’s not easy for me to admit this out loud:

You were right.



1Except in the footnotes.  Anyone surprised?

*Not true.  I am completely sympathetic to your plight.  I just choose to express this through snarky comments and uncontrollable laughter.

**And kick-ass movie marathons and spelling tests.

***Except for the movie marathons.

^This one thinks we’d better make sure your mother never sees this post.  Or mine, but mostly because she’ll help.  You are not to set her up with Paul, Mom. Or Ben. I mean it.

^^No.  And I’ll keep telling you until you believe me.Spiderweb Test

^^^Or “MathnSpanishtutor,” “Swissiedogguy,” or even “401KDude.”  Maybe I should go for “TallGuyWantsShortNerd”

~Or under 6’4″,  Ms. Picky. 

~~Please.  I am a yente.  And an unpaid one, by the way.  Please, I’m the yente’s homeless unpaid babysitter cook. True.  Looks good on you.

~~~Ohhhh, yeah.  One of the reasons I married your brother was so I would have an excuse not to date anymore.  Because it sucks in many wild and wonderful ways and is pure comedy gold to one’s friends.

Random Thursday: Now, With 84% more Watson

Random Thursday: the day when Sarah saves up all the weird wacky things that people have sent her and shares them in lieu of writing an actual post.

Only this time, it’s even more random: that’s right, your intrepid cub reporter Watson has stolen Sarah’s blog. Memes, memes, and more good memes!

I get random things emailed to me too, from my very random friends who include the “ladies” from my old all-girl biker gang (whose name cannot be mentioned on Sarah’s blog), a double PhD from MIT, a woman who sits on five corporate boards, and a guy with both a fine arts degree and a black belt in Krav Maga. Randomly, I appear to have an odd assortment of random friends.

Woe befall ye who read below.

Act I: On Superheroes

Just Be Cos-Play

Sarah might be (slightly) obsessed with the Avengers movie, but I’m slightly obsessed with comic books in general.

Janie IS Captain Obvious

I have this weird tendency to make up nicknames, generally on a comic book theme for people, and will refer to people in public as The Purple Shirt when pointing someone out. In Janie’s case, she is either the old classic, Captain Obvious, or Captain Non-Sequitur. I was forced to explain what Captain Obvious was, so I found this:

Which of course just backfired, as now she runs around the house loudly pointing out “look, that’s the vacuum!” and “look, there’s my sister!”

Act II: On Derping

Teaching Janie Math

Speaking of derping, Janie and I can have some serious derp battles over homework, and make the rest of the adults in the house wonder which of us is more mature (we might be tied at this point).  She’s great at math, but tries to weasel out of having to do the problems.  Problem is, she asks me ridiculous questions like “what’s 13 minus 8?” then gets mad when I don’t tell her.  What I generally do to her resembles this:

Act III:  This Picture Says It All

(Sarah’s note:  Thank you, Captain Obvious)

Act IV: On Movies

Technological Difficulties, Please Just Stop

Blue-ray.  Let’s take a moment to talk about blue-ray and the digital age.  I’m dying to see Keanu Reeves’ new documentary about Hollywood’s current technological shift from film to digital.  The Red system, a fully digital lightweight camera system, is cheap, by movie camera standards, and is therefore accessible to more and more filmmakers.  And without the need for film and processing, anyone can make a moderately-priced movie.

But that doesn’t mean you can just take this new awesome format and go mucking about with my favorite old movies.  Yes, please, transfer them to a new digital format so we don’t lose them in the first place!  Please, save all the old movies from the 20s and 30s!  I’m all for it.

But for the love of all that’s Hollywood, please stop trying to improve the movies as you transfer them.  Leave them alone, or else we’re going to end up with this:

Because No Movie Discussion is Complete Without Mentioning Sean Bean

Someone once made a graph about the multitude of ways that Sean Bean dies in movies.  It’s sort of a running joke around here.  Game of Thrones is announced starring Sean Bean—I get stoked, then realize they tapped him for Ned Stark and give up.  It’s bean years since I’ve seen him survive a movie.


Act V: On Nerd Alerts

I Present To You a T-Rex With No Game

Janie and I tried to do the two-person thing where one person slides their arms under the armpits of another person and gestures while they talk.  Janie was really bad at it, but Sunny decided she wanted to try.  Have you ever seen Jim Carrey’s T-Rex impersonation in Series of Unfortunate Events?  It looked a lot like that – short little stubby T-Rex arms.  Doing T-Rex arms around this house is a bit in vogue occasionally, including the slightly awkward “high three” in lieu of a human high five, so the following was immediately emailed to Sarah — and possibly explains why the dinosaurs went extinct.

I Really Can’t Explain Why This Makes Me Laugh

Every single time I see it.  It confirms my theory that ostriches are just funny.


Act VI: On This Defies Description

Mad skills?  Mad genius?  Just mad in general?  You make the call.

Poetry Wednesday Guest Post: How to Write a Really Fabulous Bad Poem

Some of you may know Independent “Indy” Clause through her perspicacious comments over at Forest for the Trees, Averil Dean‘s sandbox, and other fine sites or from her own terrific blog, Fangs and Clause, where she’s saving the world, one comma at a time.  If you don’t, what are you waiting for?  

She was the first to answer my Nanowrimo-fueled pleas for poetry guest posts, and although I’m pretty sure she couldn’t write a bad poem if she tried, I’m sure you’ll agree that fabulous is exactly the right word.

Thanks, Indy!


Thanks to Sarah W. for supporting good and bad poetry in all its forms! I’m Indy Clause, known better for ranting and raving about editorial issues, writing, and other things I can manage to connect to myself, editing, and/or writing. In respect to Sarah’s readers, I’m reigning in my usual foul mouth, and taking this as an opportunity to expand my vocabulary and exercising some creativity of expression. I’ve been told this is a character-building exercise.

But enough about me, let’s talk about poems we love to hate. Those of us with any interest in writing and literature have probably learned at least a little bit about what makes a good poem. A good poem is a collection of strong line breaks, an accumulation of powerful images, intense language, and possibly includes deft rhyme and meter, maybe some nice use of imagery and metaphor. Blah, blah blah.

But what is doggerel? My grandmother used to write us silly poems about the presents she gave us for December occasions. My next-oldest sister used to write them back. I don’t doubt that it was wanting to be like my next sister that made me write poems to begin with. (It also explains why purple is my favorite color, but moving on…)

Doggerel takes the conventions of poetry and applies them to subjects usually considered beneath the elevated perspective of poetry. According to the OED (which was the original Wikipedia), doggerel is “Of verse: comic, burlesque, and usually composed in irregular rhythm. Also: (of verse or writing) badly composed or expressed; trivial.” The first instance of the word appeared in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

How do you make a bad poem good and yet still retain its intrinsic badness? Here are two major principles to keep in mind.

1. Choose a suitably ridiculous topic.

Doggerel is very message-based. All good taste and any remaining shreds of pride are subverted by the overwhelming need to communicate the message. What is the message? It’s whatever [the curse word redacted] you want it to be. Think cliché. Think about making fun of something or someone. Think about occasions that need to be recorded for posterity.

Doggerel is made to be read out loud to great laughter and/or rotten vegetable projectiles. You want people to both groan and secretly applaud your brilliance. Great for friends, bad for job interviews or submissions to Hoity Toity Poetry Journals.

2. Maintain either rhyme or meter at any cost (this includes friendships, marriages, unbroken bones, etc.).

How do we know that doggerel is a poem? Why by its obvious meter and rhyme of course! It is certainly not recognizable as a poem because of its literary merit.

What’s funnier?

If you loved me,
my dear, you wouldn’t shrink
from my coffee breath.


The sun is rising, dear,
and the day is looking clear.
Like always I get up to make
the caffeinated beverage without which I shake.
You knew what I was like when we vowed
to love each other until we were each wrapped in a shroud,
so why then do you shrink
from ever-loving kisses when my breath smells of that drink?

Let’s see what we’ve learned from the above exercise: Sacrifice meaning, sense, regular meter, and credibility for rhyme.

3. Other hints

3a. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Borrow someone else’s meter and/or rhyme:

Let me not to the marriage of true mates
Admit impediments. Love is not love
which alters when one hates the coffee taste
of morning breath. O, no! it is an
ever-fixed mark, that participates
in kissing, neither shrinking away nor
shaking with disgust. It is the star
of every morning dream, the antidote
to sleepless nights. The opportunity
to shower you with kisses in the morn
is a delight. If this be overcaffeinated and proved
I never writ, nor no woman ever loved.

(Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 never looked so bad.)

3b. When in doubt, add something bawdy.
3c. When in doubt, write something political.
3d. When in doubt, be bawdy about politics, making sure your rhyme is impeccable.
3e. Read out loud to make sure that the poem sounds ridiculous enough.
3f. When reading out loud to your target audience, be sure to present your doggerel in the most pretentious manner possible.

What are your favorite doggerels? Any advice for the masses?