Sunday, January 23, 2022

EZ Poetry, Busted Bubble, a Vision of Vision

I was delighted to get a surprise call this week from my long-time poetry mentor. Long story short, he encouraged me to start sending out work again, so the plan of publishing new works on this blog has now transformed into a plan to write and submit one new poem a month. I’ll still post a previously published poem once a month, but I’m going to save the new work for sending out. It feels like a strange journey to be embarking on again after all this time. I can’t pinpoint exactly why and when I stopped sending out submissions, but at some point, I just lost patience and got sick of the gatekeepers jealously guarding their insular little lit mags that are only read by a niche group of other poets, all bowing to each other in their exclusive mutual admiration circle. I want to write poetry for the people, man. Seriously though, I never had any patience for the snobbery and academic parochialism that pervades the poetry world. There is a reason why most non-poets are fearful and distrustful of poetry, or just plain find it incomprehensible. First off, the way it’s taught in school is awful. For people who do not naturally resonate with metaphorical language, bashing them over the head with a “gotcha” about the meaning of a poem is just cruel, not to mention unimaginative. And these weird little “schools” that proliferate for the sole purpose of encouraging incomprehensible poetry that only other academics can understand is the height of pretension if you ask me. The bottom line is that normal people want to read musical, ear-pleasing, relatable work that has a surprise or two thrown in. Maybe one day I’ll start the lit mag equivalent of those jumbo crossword puzzle books and call it “EZ Poetry.”

I literally never go anywhere but the work, the gym and the grocery store, so my world is quite small these days, and when there is a disturbance in one of those worlds, it resonates. I started deadlifting a few months ago. They only had one deadlifting mat, and there was often a wait to get it, but once I did, it was my little square bubble of space that no one else could invade. I could comfortably concentrate on my lift without being crowded or feeling like I was front and center for all to see. This week, suddenly out of nowhere, the deadlifting mat was gone and in its place was this giant, neon-orange, industrial monstrosity of a…rack? I don’t even know what to call it. It’s a big square cage of some sort, with pulleys and cables and giant plates hung all of over it. I took a fairly close look at it but I’m completely flummoxed as to how to use it. It seems I’m not the only one, because it’s been there for over a week and I have yet to see anyone actually use it. The deadlifting bar was haphazardly tossed onto the big rubber mat in the front, where it’s always crowded and people are everywhere doing their stool jumps and lateral band walks. So I lost my deadlifting bubble and now I have to do it front and center with people all around me. Ce la vie, I guess.

It’s only a week and a month before my insurance kicks in and I can go and get my new glasses. I cannot wait. I have been struggling mightily with a pair of ancient glasses in a long-defunct prescription, and I’m convinced these new glasses are going to change my life, increase my IQ, and make my hair shiny and glossy. I plan to show up at the optometrist at the stroke of midnight on March 1st and stare into the window until they open. Of course, they have to order them and fit them and all of that, so it will be mid-March at the earliest before I can put them on my face, but once I do, I expect the heavens to open and angels to sing.

Speaking of angels singing, here’s a solid hour of Gregorian chants. Enjoy!

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Learning How to Be Bad Again, The Illustrious Mango

To my surprise, ahead of my self-imposed schedule is the first poem from the Poem-a-Month series—a simple rhyming ode to mangoes, one of the few fruits I have found I like since embarking on my goal to add more fruit to my diet. I bought a mango for the first time in my life a few weeks ago, and I didn’t know how to slice it. I had to look it up on YouTube.

The hardest thing for me about diving into writing poetry again has been learning to embrace the crap. I wrote pages and pages of utter dreck this week and had to remind myself that the dreck is essential. It’s the fertilizer from which the good stuff grows. And who do I think I am anyway, that every word flowing from my pen shall be transcendent perfection? Anyway, I hope you enjoy this imperfect little ditty about the illustrious mango:

Meditation on My First Time Slicing a Mango


This flushed oval jewel, dense and dumb

Demands devotion to its common mystery.

Board and blade sing a reverent hum

to the cherished mango's sacred history.

I bury the blade in its flecked moon cheek

And yield a cradle of amber meat

I dice the pulp, sinewy-sleek

And sample its harvest, tang and sweet.

I rue the decades of my life deprived

of this incandescent, lavish glory.

My love of the luscious is thus revived

and the illustrious mango shall be my quarry!



--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Affairs of Honor, Poem Promise

As a side effect of my new-found interest in the American Revolutionary War, I recently went down an internet rabbit hole on the practice of pistol dueling. This is about the last thing I ever thought I would take an interest in, but I can’t stop reading about it. There was a highly complex and elaborate set of rules surrounding this extreme-by-today’s-standards ritual that I find fascinating. But more than that, I have been thinking about the parallels between the 17th and 18th century obsession with honor, and today’s obsession with respect. I try very hard not to apply the thought standards of today’s world to an era two or three hundred years ago, but as I was reading more about the infamous Burr vs. Hamilton duel, I found myself doing exactly that. The night before the duel, Hamilton wrote a mournful missive about how much pain and devastation it would cause his family and the country if he was killed in this duel. Knowing that his promising young son died in exactly the same manner only three years earlier, I found myself mentally beating my head against a wall and internally shouting, “You don’t have to go, Hamilton! Just don’t go. Don’t get killed over something as ephemeral and indefinitive as “honor.” But as I read more about that era and dueling, I came to understand that honor was indeed a very real thing. It may seem silly to us now, but to lose honor could hurl someone into career and financial ruin and cause never-ending shame. Honor was taken very seriously—so seriously that a pistol duel was considered a reasonable response to an insult.

To be fair, it seems that the majority of these duels were mostly just theatrical posing and were ended without harm to either party as soon as it was satisfied that both had saved face. If it went as far as firing, shots were usually “wasted”--fired into the ground (which is nonetheless very dangerous.) I’m hardly an expert, but my understanding is that most of the time neither person was intent on harming the other, but they had to go through the elaborate ritual anyway. However, this perilous practice was beginning to be banned in many states around the time of the Burr vs. Hamilton duel. Ironically, in New York, the penalty for dueling was death. Ah, the things one learns when one spends too much time on the internet.

At the behest of a long-time poetry mentor and friend of mine, I made a commitment recently that I’m both nervous and excited about. I’ve agreed to write and post one new poem per month on this blog. There, I’ve said it publically and now I’m accountable. For a number of reasons I’m not going to detail here, I’ve been in a hopeless funk for a long time about writing poetry and have struggled to find the calling. So I appreciate this nudge—or more like the light kick in the pants I needed to get going again. Because I am me, of course I decided to re-start this endeavor by writing a sestina about the Burr vs. Hamilton duel, but quickly discovered that this was far too ambitious a plan for my weakened, out-of-shape poetry muscles. It’s like when I go ham at the gym after a long absence and end up debilitatlingly sore the next day. So I’m going to start with something a little simpler and work my way up. I can’t guarantee when the first new poem will show up, but it will be some time in January. I also offer no guarantees as to the quality or literary worth of any new poem. However, if you insult one of my poems, I shall challenge you to a duel!

Enjoy this brief video on the basics of dueling:

--Kristen McHenry

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Days of Loafing, Re-Discovering Dorothy, History Buff

Years ago, I worked for an organization that always closed down during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and as such I became habituated to taking those days off and have made it something of a tradition. Nothing is going to get accomplished in that time anyway. It’s an informal national “down week” as it should be, because these are frozen, dead, throw-away days in which humans are not meant to be functional. Hence no post last week. I’ve been off since December 23rd, doing nothing but loafing around and making a full-time job of trying to keep warm in the 15-degree weather in our under-insulated apartment, shivering in a turtleneck (thanks, Mom!), a hoodie, a knit hat, and double socks.

During all of this shivering, I was delighted to receive from Mr. Typist the newest version of the Dorothy Parker compendium. I had her compendium before for many years, and after a while it just fell apart from use and eventually disappeared. I don’t know what happened to it, but I always missed it. I was thrilled to re-read my old favorite stories that I had all but forgotten about, and regularly came lurching into the computer room clutching the book and gasping with laughter as I recounted to Mr. Typist the plot of my favorite stories. My top two are: “Here We Are”, in which a women has an emotional breakdown on a train because she becomes convinced that her new husband hates her taste in hats, and “The Standard of Living”, in which two young women enter a shop to inquire about the price of a necklace and discover that it costs $10,000.00 dollars. Simple plots, hilarious results. Bear with me for a moment because this is related: It seems like a long time ago now, but some years back Gillian Flynn’s book “Gone Girl” was, rightfully, all the rage and I read it practically in one sitting. One oft-quoted and much-discussed passage in the book was about the “Cool Girl”, a mythical figure of easy-going femininity, a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer...and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth...while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding.” The passage goes into a lot more detail, and was fodder for many an irritated think piece among the bloggerati. It turns out that Dorothy Parker beat Gillian Flynn to the punch years ago with “Dusk Before Fireworks”, in which the main character spends the entire story attempting to convince a man that she’s a Cool Girl and nothing like those other jealous, controlling harridans he surrounds himself with. So the Cool Girl has been around since at least the 20’s, it seems, and I suspect even before that.

Besides leisure reading, the other vacation-y thing I did was spend an entire weekday afternoon watching a movie with Mr. Typist. For some reason, I have developed a recent and quite uncharacteristic interest in the American Revolutionary War. Don’t ask me why. I’ve never been much interested in history, which I know doesn’t speak well of me, but it always seemed so fist-gnawingly dull in school, and I didn’t care a whit about which Persian battle pushed back which neighboring army or who conquered who in the endless Battles of Whatever. But I did want to get more of a grip on some things I’ve been fuzzy about, so I started watching a series of videos by Cody Cain called “The Founding Fathers”, which has been fascinating. Mr. Typist was excited by my new-found interest and suggested that I would enjoy “The Patriot”, a three-hour long opus from 2000 about the life of Colonial militia leader Benjamin Martin. This astounding movie has now moved into my official top five favorite films of all time. I sobbed through a great deal of it. It is hands-down one of the best movies ever made. It is absolutely breathtaking, with Shakespearean themes of pride, rage, love, family, morality, war, and death. At one point, the main character says, “I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.” That is the emotional crux of the film—his sins do indeed return to visit him, and his sons and daughters, too, in unspeakable ways. I have a lot more to say about this movie, but this post is getting a bit on the long side and a more formal review will need to wait for another time. But if you find yourself with three hours to kick around, I strongly suggest firing up “The Patriot” and arming yourself with a box of tissues.


-Kristen McHenry

Sunday, December 19, 2021

John Denver Rabbit Hole, Bike Embroilment, Frozen Shoulder

To Mr. Typist’s great bemusement, I went down a John Denver rabbit hole this week thanks to a casual comment on one of my Facebook posts. I hadn’t listened to John Denver’s music or thought about him for many years, but the comment inspired to me go and watch his concert footage from the 70’s, and I was awash with memories. I tried to explain to Mr. Typist that when I lived in Alaska as a young child, during the summers hippies would emerge in the early evenings on porches with guitars and play John Denver songs, and all of us children would gather around and sing along. We had no idea what the lyrics meant, but we knew they felt good to sing. I don’t know why there were hippies on an Air Force base in Alaska, but there were, in greater numbers than you might imagine. And they have an unerring instinct for twilight and children and catchy, emotionally compelling songs about mountains and nature, so there you have it—spontaneous 70’s John Denver porch concerts on an Air Force base in the middle of Alaska.

The stationary bike company Peloton has managed to get itself into hot water again. The first time was over an ad a few years ago that had everyone up in arms because a dude bought his skinny wife the Peloton bike for Christmas. I didn’t understand what all of the fuss was about. It was an annoying ad in my opinion, but I didn’t find anything inherently outrageous about a man buying his wife some exercise equipment. I wouldn’t get mad if Mr. Typist bought me, say, a barbell set. (Ahem, hint, hint.) I just thought the woman was grating and weirdly neurotic. A I recall, they did some damage control with a counter-ad and the hubbub eventually died down, but now they are embroiled in controversy once again due to the Sex and The City reboot, in which Carrie’s husband Mr. Big dies of a heart attack during a Peloton workout in the premiere episode. Apparently, Peloton’s stock took an instant nose-dive and now they are threatening to sue. I’m not privy to the ins outs of whether or not they had a product placement deal with the show or if this was just a creative decision on the part of the producers, but I find it odd that a company’s stock would tank overnight because a mediocre character dies in a reboot of a mediocre show. And I’m annoyed that I’m thinking about it so much. I never loved SITC, but I did watch it more than I care to admit because I’m very interested in women’s friendship dynamics and thought that they did a good job portraying that, and that the writing was for the most part witty and intelligent. But I found all of the characters morally appalling, especially Carrie. It always irked me that she wrote one shallow, intellectually bankrupt column a week and somehow lived like a queen from the proceeds. This is more than I ever wanted to write or consider Peloton or SITC. Grr.

I find myself in a bit of a fitness quandary. I used to have all kinds of problems with my right shoulder, which have for the most part resolved over the years, but this week the shoulder issue came back with a vengeance. For unknown reasons, my right trapezius has completely locked up and is in an endless pain/spasm/pain cycle that no amount of hot water bottles, massage, Epsom salt baths or stretching has been able to stop. The muscle is bunched up in an stiff, angry, crunchy ball and is causing referral pain into my ear, and my neck, and even some numbness in the tips of my fingers. I have some Biofreeze coming today, which is a product I have great faith in, and I’m hoping it helps. But in the meantime, I can’t lift. The most I am going to be able to do is hop on an elliptical or do a Yoga video from home. I’m very much leaning towards the home video option. It’s cold and rainy out and I see no good reason to leave the apartment.

Enjoy this 70’s moment from John Denver. I certainly did!

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Unpacking “Unpacking”, Lens Relief, National Days of Lolling


As is my wont, I was poking around Steam last week trying to find a pleasant distraction when I came across a game called “Unpacking” which has a rather absurd premise that I refused to entertain at first. But as I read through the reviews, people really seemed to like it, and I got sucked into its orbit and finally gave in and laid down the fifteen bucks for it. It turned out to be a total delight. The premise is very simple—you move into an apartment, unpack your stuff, and put everything away in a semi-organized manner. I love a good puttering game, so this was right up my alley, but it turns out that as you progress through the game, it tells a very compelling story in a sweet and delightful way, with many little details that depict the story of the antagonist’s life and her growth and development. There are many mysteries to be solved—such as why so many plastic chickens, and what’s up with the walking cane that mysteriously appears halfway through the game—but it mainly tells the story of her life through the progression of her personal belongings. At one point, she moves in with a dude, which I knew immediately wasn’t going to work out, because he made no room for her and everything in his apartment was black and gray, whereas she loves color and ephemera. Over the years, her wardrobe gets more professional, and she develops an interest in Asian cooking, adding new and interesting things to unpack in her many different kitchens. At her low point, she ends up back home in her childhood bedroom before moving into a more adult apartment, where she lives for a very long time and the unpacking involves opening multiple boxes from overseas. Telling a story through the unpacking of personal possessions is very intimate, and it was a wonderful way to follow this person’s life. In the end, she truly does grow up and come into full adulthood, leaving her beloved childhood stuffed animals in the crib for her own children.

I still have not been able to sort out my glasses situation, but the contact lenses are finally good to go. Despite my skepticism, the optometrist managed to convince me to try progressive contact lenses. He said that the technology has greatly improved because contact lens manufacturers realized that people “our age” have increasingly bad eye sight, but are used to contact lenses and don’t wan to give them up. So they want to be sure to maintain their market share and keep us hapless Gen-X-ers purchasing contacts. The progressive lenses definitely took some getting used to and they still feel a bit strange, but I haven’t needed my reading glasses since using them, so I’m happy. Also, I’m making far fewer typos now. The glasses will come through in a few short months, and I can’t wait. As much as it pains me, I will probably go to wearing glasses full time once they are in. I’m trying to convince myself that glasses are hip now and that they don’t mean I’m ugly and defective, which is how I felt most of my childhood wearing them.

I am not generally prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, but this December has felt especially oppressive, dark, wet and cold. I find myself hiding under the covers when the alarm goes off, in profound disbelief that human beings are expected to be awake and functional at that time of the morning, when it’s literally pitch black outside and freezing rain is aggressively beating on the windows. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way, My trainer says that most of her clients are suffering from really bad winter blahs and are having a hard time getting to the gym. I get it. I awake in darkness and I arrive home in darkness after long days, and getting to my regular gym session requires iron will and a fair bit of nagging and prodding from Mr. Typist. My trainer, who I believe suffers a bit herself from the SAD, has given me cart blanche to bail on my sessions any time I want to in the name of winter blues. I think that’s because she doesn’t want to show up for them either, and I don’t blame her. I believe that there should be a total moratorium on human productivity from mid-November to mid-January. No alarms, no work, nothing. It should be a national time of Lolling Around Watching TV and Huddling Under Blankets. I plan to put a bill before Congress.

Enjoy this trailer for Unpacking. It was pure joy to play! 


--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Choke Me in the Shallow Waters

I feel like my blog posts have been especially flimsy of late, which frustrates me, because there is actually a lot going on in my life, but I am not at liberty to discuss most of it. Just know that I am having numerous internal and external meltdowns and yet I am forced to blog about things like tiny popcorn and bad contact lens prescriptions because I can’t tell you what’s really going on. There are days when I just want to move to a sunny Southern state and get a job as a friendly receptionist in a car dealership and live out the rest of my life in relative peace instead of struggling with the relentless and ever-increasing madness of working in an inner-city hospital during a pandemic. In addition, I’ve been experiencing the painful realization that I’m not some big, leader-y career woman. At heart, I’m just a friendly receptionist. I didn’t ask for advancement. I had advancement thrust onto me, and I’m it turns out I’m not a fan. I don’t see what’s wrong with simply being competent at what you do and sticking with it, but apparently no one can leave well enough alone these days.

On Friday night, trying to find a little mental relief, I plopped down in front of our rarely-used TV and started flipping through my options. We canceled our Netflix subscription a while back, so I was stuck with Amazon and other random streaming channels and I couldn’t find anything that captured my attention. I recently started watching “Frank of Ireland”, but I wasn’t in the mood for its overly-broad and crass humor that night, and I was having a hard time finding anything I was interested in. Then Mr. Typist flopped onto the couch chewing on a banana, which triggered my misophonia, and I stalked off in a huff. A few minutes later he called me back and said that he had found the perfect movie for me. In a genius move, he had pulled up “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, which I hadn’t watched in years. I relented and told him I would watch it with him once he finished his banana. It was an absolute delight. I read that book over and over again when it first came out, and devoured the sequel with equal enthusiasm. It’s just funny, shallow, enjoyable escapism with a witty and relatable main character. Even though it didn’t capture all of the subtleties of the book, I think they did a solidly good job with the movie. It provided a few hours of much-needed mental relief and laughter.

After the first two Bridget Jones books, the author, Helen Fielding, went on to write a Serious Book about an investigative journalist, which flopped miserably, then followed it up with a third sequel to Bridget Jones in which her husband Mark Darcy dies. That book was also a total flop and completely lacked the zippy humor and lightheartedness of the first two books. I don’t know why she felt the need to mess with the formula and get all serious and deep when that is not what her audience went to the Bridget Jones books for. There are plenty of deep and serious books in the world. We wanted zingy, shallow, relatable humor about our free-spirited heroine, Bridget Jones, not a didactic tome about death and mourning. But as much as it irks me, I do feel some sympathy for the author. It must be hard to write an iconic book with massively popularity and be stuck with that expectation for rest of your writing life, never to be able to expand or explore your literary range. This whole Bridget Jones foray makes me think about dusting off my latent novel and giving it a complete re-write. But I’m being really stubborn about it, so it will probably sit for another five years until I just delete the damn thing.

Enjoy this corny trailer from the now-classic movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary. 

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Night Snack Game, Eye Saga, Crafting Win

I like a good night snack and tend to cycle through a parade of popcorn, fancy crackers and blue corn chips with salsa as my favorites, swapping one out for the other when I get bored. Recently during a snack emergency (I ran out of fancy crackers), I stopped by my local drugstore and picked up a bag of something called “Pipcorn”, which I thought was just a cutesy name for popcorn. It turned out I was very wrong. I was puzzled when I opened the bag and found the tiniest kernels of popcorn I’d ever seen. When I looked at the back of the bag for an explanation, there was a long story about how this was a super-special, rare “heirloom” popcorn that had unique qualities and health benefits not possessed by normal, regular-sized popcorn. Unconvinced, I shook some into a cup and tried eating it, but the kernels were so tiny, mushy and tasteless I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. It was like eating the dust at the bottom of a normal popcorn bag--the undesirable dregs that sink down and get tossed out. Pipcorn, indeed. I can’t believe the manufacturer thought they would get away with such a stunt by calling it “heirloom popcorn.” I don’t appreciate having my night snack game messed with and I was miffed. Luckily, the next day was grocery shopping day, and I was able to obtain a bag of normal, right-sized popcorn of the kind that God intended.

My vision care saga continues. I was finally able to get an appointment with a new optometrist, but all is still not as it should be. I admit that in my desperation for a correct prescription, I deliberately attempted to trigger a bit of competitiveness by complaining copiously about my former optometrist and stating that I was looking for a new eye doctor who I could put my full trust in. Luckily, this doc knew an opportunity to peel off a patient from his competitor when he saw one, and stated that he, unlike my former eye doctor, believes in communicating with his patients and explaining to them the thought process behind his decision-making and ensuring that his patients are comfortable and happy with their eye care products. We went back and forth on contacts until he felt that he nailed the prescription, and gave me a sample of progressive contacts lenses to try out. I was just getting used to them when unfortunately, one of them got stuck on the lid in the case overnight and dried out and ripped, and I can’t get a replacement until they re-open on Monday. The second blow was that after an extensive consultation with their glasses expert, during which I found perfect, glorious frames and I was promised the moon for fantastic lenses that would help me see better when punch-needling, it turned out they would cost over a thousand dollars, and my insurance won’t cover the cost until March of next year. So now I have to call my insurance company this week and plead for an exception. I don’t think I can make it until March, so I’m hoping they take mercy on me.

Speaking of punch-needle, I made great headway over this long weekend on my tiger. He’s completely filled in and looking quite fierce. The only thing left now is the background, which I drew in free-hand yesterday. I will be making that trek to Joanne's soon, because I don’t like the shades of green of my current embroidery thread. I’m hoping to find full shelves brimming with goods this time, rather than alarmingly empty swathes of dusty space. 


For the punch-needle curious, enjoy this simple tutorial to help you get started.


--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Gym Impatience, Healthcare Fail, Bee Cop

I’ve gotten very impatient at the gym with my two big fitness goals—deadlifting and being able to do a pull-up. For months, my trainer had me lifting an unloaded bar on thick pads to decrease the lift distance, and recently in a fit of rashness I ditched the pads and put five-pound “baby” plates on the bar. When I told my trainer this at our last session, she immediately yanked two ten-pound plates out and loaded them onto the bar. They had height, and my trainer admitted that it “looked cool” to deadlift with them. She’s right--it all looks very official, like I am a proper deadlifter and have a rightful place on the mat. The ten-pound plates make for a 65-pound deadlift, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ll take it. I’ve also started lifting in sock feet because the flat shoes I bought some time ago are really uncomfortable, and I find that it’s helpful with balance to feel the soles of my feet supporting me during a lift. The pull-up is still a long ways away. I drastically lowered the weight on the assisted pull-up machine and am now able to get one or two pull-ups at 30 pounds of assist, but I’ve also gained a little weight, (not sure if it’s muscle or fat), so it’s a game of outrunning myself at this point. I have another big fitness goal to hit once I get that darn pull-up, which is a big one that I don’t feel ready to announce yet. Sometimes I think I’m crazy to be doing all of this in my fifties, but then I look back to only a few years ago when I couldn’t even do a single squat, and I feel pretty good about my progress—and so grateful to my first trainer, Akida, under who’s tutelage I gained physical confidence for the first time in my life.

In other physical news, I have an appointment with a new optometrist this week, which I am holding out high hopes for, having been deeply disappointed by my last guy. Something went completely haywire with my contact lens prescription, and between that and my glasses breaking, I’m a mess. I want a total visual do-over—new glasses, a correct contact lens prescription, and being able to sit at the computer without depending on my reading glasses to see anything. It’s ridiculous. In general, I have been very disappointed this year in most of my health care. I don’t go to the doctor very often, but I’ve had several medical calamities necessitating care, and I feel pretty let down by my providers. I think that COVID has done something to the medical field. It’s made providers inpatient and inattentive and unwilling to listen carefully. I’ve seen this across the board, with a nutritionist, a phone therapist, doctors, and my aforementioned optometrist. I maintain the belief that we all need to do the best we can to take control of our own health, because medicine cannot be counted on to protect us. Sometimes I wonder why I persist in the medical field and think about going to work for Amazon instead. Then I remember all of the volunteers I interview who are moving from Amazon into the healthcare field, and I decide to just stay put. If I seem gloomy and ambivalent, it’s because I am. I’ve been Going Through Things at my work, and have been unable to properly suss out my options.

To counteract that Debbie-Downer-esque last paragraph, I shall bring you this: The tale of the NYPD Bee Cop, Detective Robert Travis, who is the official bee-remover of the force. This brave and handsome young man recently removed 10,000 honeybees from a light pole on West 47th and 6th Ave, safely vacuuming them away for relocation to an upstate farm. You can read of his adventures here:

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Flippin’ Luxury, Rogue Restaurateur, Unfinished Business

I haven’t played my beloved House Flipper in some time, having grown bored with it after cycling through every house and design combination in the game numerous times, but it was recently announced that the long-anticipated Luxury Flipper content had finally been released, so I plunged right back in. The game opened with an announcement from the developers that they are super-proud of their amazing new content and in fact, worried that there may even be too much new content, and that they vowed to immediately fix any and all bugs. It was very sweet. However, quite annoyingly, they built in a mechanic that forces you to do “gigs” before you get access to the luxury houses. For each gig you do, you get to purchase one luxury house. The gigs involve a trek to the fictional town of fancy-pants Moonrise Bay, where the first job you are given is by the world’s most insufferable tech couple who wants you to design their loft and presents you with a “look book” that reflects their taste in color palettes and furnishings. I was immediately annoyed at this hipster couple and their unbearable smugness. I kept dutifully trying to finish the loft to their specifications, but finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I rebelled, quit the gig and bought a large cinder block building in a residential neighborhood.

And my friends, I am creating a masterpiece. I decided to go rogue and turn the building into a high-end restaurant and bar. I’ve never done that before, although lots of players have created diners and bars with amazing results. It’s been a labor of love and I am quite proud of the results so far, and very much enjoy fussing over every detail. I’m surprised at my own patience and fortitude. I usually flame out close to the end of a house flip, let things go and just sell the place to be done with it, but this one is my baby. I have endless tolerance for prevaricating over table knives and shelving and bottles and wine glasses and artwork. I have built out the dining area and the upstairs bar, and now I am working on outdoor seating in a beautiful English garden. When I’m done, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before and upload screenshots to Steam for bragging rights. Maybe this will be my new “thing” and I’ll only design restaurants and bars from here on out. Or maybe I’ll go back to school and get an actual degree in actual interior design...naw. House Flipper is much cheaper and way less work.

Meanwhile, as I am happily designing what I believe to be the most beautiful eatery in the world, my poor tiger punch needle project sits idle and unfinished due to a lack of embroidery thread. I have a perfectly good Joanne’s gift card that I need to use, but I have a small but pervasive feeling of dread about going to Joanne’s. The last few times I was there, huge swathes of their shelves were completely bare, and it was quite disconcerting. Joanne’s is my haven and I love spending time there, and seeing it empty and barren fills me with existential dread. I suppose I just need to brave it, because I want to get that project finished before Christmas and unbelievably, we’re already halfway through November. I would probably never finish projects if the looming threat of the end of the year wasn’t ever-present. I would feel like an abject failure if I couldn’t complete a crafting project within a year.

If I can figure how to get my screenshots to upload from Steam, I shall share with you the glory of my luxury eatery. In the mean time, this game trailer will have to do.

 --Kristen McHenry