Category Archives: Random Observations

Lost: One Pair Perspectacles, Slightly Used

FullSizeRenderDo you all read Glennon Doyle Melton, the woman behind Momastery? I bet a lot of you do. She’s pretty awesome, not least for being almost the only self-proclaimed christian writer I’ve read who has never, ever, I mean not once, come across as sanctimonious or preachy. That takes some skill, especially for readers like me who have an over-sensitive sancti-meter. Anyway, Glennon (we’re on a first name basis, in my mind) coined the term “perspectacles” to talk about the importance of being able to see your life with new eyes sometimes, to remember all that you have to be grateful for and not feel coerced into keeping up with any crazy external standard for your life or your body. This post explains it well. It’s a handy concept to invoke when I’m feeling pissy for no good reason (or, more often, when my kids are revealing their sense of entitlement to their horrified leftist mama). As a tryna-be Buddhist, perspectacles fit well into the precept of looking for the best in people and situations, and practicing gratitude. Good things to practice, for sure.

This month, however, I seem to have misplaced my perspectacles. I feel all oscar-the-grouchy about everything. Granted, there has been some shit happening the last two weeks that is worth grumping about, including but not limited to: the flu, the other kind of flu, Chad’s grandma almost dying, my kid getting sexually harrassed at school, and a dear friend getting diagnosed with breast cancer. I mean, no one in their right MIND would be grateful for any of that stuff. But the point of perspectacles isn’t to cover up or gloss over the shit; it’s to put it in PERSPECTIVE, as in: I no longer have any kind of flu, Chad’s grandma didn’t die, my kid handled herself like a rockstar, and my friend caught it early and will, we hope, have a good prognosis. And I can WRITE all that, and SAY it to myself, but it just isn’t working. Like, my brain is all, “But HEY: you got into GRAD SCHOOL!! With FUNDING!! In the SOUTH!!! Holy validation!!” and my heart is like, “Fuck you. David Bowie is STILL DEAD. FOR ALWAYS,” and my brain goes, “But you’re getting to go to the UK this summer!! For two weeks! Without your kids!! Don’t be a brat!” and my heart says, “I KNOW I’M A BRAT SHUT UP. Everyone is yelling all the time and I’m sick of this election season and I’m worried about money and I’m not getting to my to-do list and I won’t be ready for the move aaaaaahhhhh,” and my brain gets fed up and is like, “FINE. God, you’re such a Debbie Downer. Go read some Y.A. fiction or something, if you’re going to act like a twelve-year-old all the time,” and my heart yells, “DON’T YOU DISS Y.A. FICTION IT’S SOME OF THE BEST WRITING HAPPENING RIGHT NOW AND ANYWAY GENRES ARE AN ARTIFICIAL CONSTRUCT,” and then my brain and heart storm off into opposite corners in a huff and I immerse myself in a John Green novel which is lovely but I’m still grumpy.

I dunno. Probably I need to meditate or something, but also probably sometimes you just need to be grumpy for no good reason and let that happen. I’ve always hated it when I’m having a public meltdown (Facebook counts as public, right?) and some well-intentioned soul reminds me that things could be worse and there are starving children in China or something. I mean, has that ever helped ANYONE? Like, I still feel crabby but now I also feel SUPER GUILTY about it. Good job! So I’m trying to be kind to myself, while also looking like hell for those perspectacles because I do not wish to be an entitled, blind-to-my-own-privilege asshole. BALANCE.

In summation, I am grumpy, for no good reason. But I wanted to end this post on a more positive note, and I remembered a thing I’d posted on Facebook earlier this year that I’d been meaning to blog for posterity, but I couldn’t remember when I’d posted it so I just searched Facebook for “Elise Robinson peanuts sex.” Which is maybe the most awesome string of search terms I’ve ever personally used. Also, and I’m not sure how I feel about this, the search came up with two results, and only one of them was mine. I haven’t even looked at the other one because I don’t know if I can handle it right now. Anyway, here’s the post, from September 2015:

Oh, lawsy, I wish I had a video recording of the conversation I just had with the girls in the car. Highlights include:

– Eleanor advising Sylvia to get married to a boy instead of a girl if she wants to have babies, because if she marries a girl she’ll have to “get shots” to have a baby

– Sylvie asking me how you have babies with a boy and thinking I said”peanuts” instead of “penis”

– me uttering the phrase “NEVER PUT PEANUTS IN YOUR VAGINA”

– Ellie wondering how you have sex and guessing that you “just walk up to someone and ask them”

– Sylvie deciding she just wants to adopt

Never put peanuts in your vagina, y’all. You can take that to the bank.

Winter. Discontent. Is now.

This is the time of year I start planning my escape. I’m sitting here, watching the Vicar of Dibley – because that’s what I do when I’m feeling not-wanting-to-be-hereish, I watch British TV, usually Sherlock but I’ve just finished my 4th re-viewing so I felt it was time for a switch – and mulling over my (lack of) options for living somewhere that doesn’t make me want to off myself 3-4 months out of the year.

(Ed. note to my mother: this is one of those times where I’m using hyperbole for effect, and also alleviating depressive symptoms by writing about them. Pray do not take alarm: I do not actually want to off myself. For one thing, I just ordered some super cute shoes online.)


Of course, I realize that I’m nuts. Don’t think I don’t realize THAT by now! Let’s review the facts, shall we?

  1. Born in Athens, GA.
  2. At age of ten, ruthlessly uprooted from southern soil and forced to move to the wilds of St. Cloud, MN. Stupid academic job market.
  3. Middle school-High School years spent in central MN with brief exception of semester in Salzburg.
  4. College years also spent in central MN (thank you, tuition remission for faculty brats!) with brief exception of semester in London and summers in Michigan or New York.
  5. Graduate from college and high-tail it out of state for grad school, first to Columbus, OH, and then to Santa Barbara, CA.
  6. Get first real job offer from alma mater, move back to central MN.
  7. Meet future husband, fall in love, get married, move to Minneapolis, have kids, quit job, etc., etc., the rest is history.

So as you can see, even with the most generous accounting, I’ve spent about 25 of my 41 years here in this godforsaken tundra-like misbegotten land of ten-thousand lakes. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Continue reading

I Write Letters

woman-writing-letters-by-charles-dana-gibson Dear January,

Nice try with the rain and all, but I still hate you. Next time try some free first-class tickets to Belize.




Dear Idiots Out on the Lake Calhoun Ice,

Are you OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS? It rained all last night. It’s still above freezing today. There are large swaths of melty patches all around the lake surface. You really think it’s a good idea to hang out on the ice with your shitty collapsible chair and nothing but a bargain-bin parka to protect your ass? Really?! Well, don’t come bitching to me when you fall in and die of hypothermia. IT’S NO MORE THAN YOU DESERVE.

OK I don’t really want you to die but COME ON,



Dear Brain Chemicals,

AGAIN with the seasonally affected depression? Can we not move past this phase? I mean, winter blues are so early millennium. Plus, it’s hard to get anything done from a recumbent and/or fetal position on the sofa. Start a new trend.




Dear Oscar voters,

You guys, I haven’t even SEEN Argo yet and I know Ben Affleck was robbed. Ditto Kathyrn Bigelow, you misogynist douchebags. Nice job on Silver Linings Playbook, tho.

Now send me some best picture screeners, dammit,



The Spirit of Giving

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, stave 1

Like many people from a basically privileged background, I have a complicated relationship with poverty and homelessness. I mean, I’m against them, obviously, but when it comes to their eradication or even their alleviation, things can get a little … well, fraught. When I was little, and my dad was still in grad school, were definitely poor. Like foodstamps-and-subsidized-housing poor. Powdered-milk poor. In other words, grad-student-with-a-family-to-support poor. Which is a kind of poverty, for sure, and I’m sure it was stressful for my parents. But at the same time, as kids, my siblings and I never felt particularly deprived. We never had to worry about where our next meal was coming from, or where we’d be sleeping that night. We had clothes and shoes and enough money for school supplies. We were poor, but not destitute. Continue reading

True Story

One of my headlights went out about three weeks ago. Or at least I *noticed* it about three weeks ago, so it probably happened about six weeks ago, but whatever. So it was just getting annoying enough that I was actually going to do something about fixing it, and then one weekend evening I go out to run an errand and lo! I have two functional headlights. When I get home, I ask the spouse if he fixed it for me (which would be surprising, but not unprecedented). He gives me a “what are you talking about” look and says no, he didn’t fix it. And unless I’ve taken to some extremely crafty sleepwalking, *I* sure didn’t fix it. Yet fixed it most certainly is. Possible explanations:

  1. There’s a random-acts-of-kindness mechanic in our neighborhood.
  2. Squirrels.
  3. The spouse actually DID fix it, he just doesn’t want the cred – yeah, I can’t even finish writing that one without laughing. Never mind.
  4. A hot new teen trend in “reverse vandalism.”
  5. It’s a Christmas miracle.

Or it could be some kind of electrical short that suddenly reconnected. IF YOU’RE BORING.