The Chupacabra of Inflammatory Foods

Written last night:

I have eaten nothing but wholesome, nutritious foods for the past two days, having eliminated sugar, dairy, gluten, grains, and (my preciousssssss!) wine. Red meat, citrus fruits, and soy are other random items on the verboten list. I could tell you more, but there is not a person on earth who under any circumstances cares what another person on earth is eating; my entire agenda for bringing it up was as a prelude for announcing that I feel like shite. Shite, I say! Yes, I know that eliminating processed foods and genetically modified foods and potential allergens and whatnot is supposed to make you feel as perky and joyful as an angel’s boobs, but that smug and blissful state comes on the other side of the WITHDRAWAL. OMG, THE WITHDRAWAL!!!!!!!!! Headache, malaise, lack of focus, depression, bouts of rage, intense cravings. In. Tense. Cravings. Let’s just say that if Twinkie the Kid were passing by, I would take him in every way a boy can take a Twinkie.

Written today:

Whew. Perky and joyful, that’s me. I felt a little off in the morning, but have been energetic, cheerful, and focused since then. Breathing easier, thinking clearer, and I think my back even feels a bit better now that I’ve gotten that damned chupacabra off of it. The chupacabra of inflammatory foods! That is the worst kind of chupacabra.


A Transition

Yesterday, after having my hair cut by Fabulous New Stylist Cara, I decided to drop into the adjacent dog grooming studio—not because I felt the need to have Cara’s work adjusted, but because the same woman who owns the dog grooming studio sold me an eight-week-old Goblin Foo Uvula on October 7, 2000, and I wanted to say hello. She was delighted to learn that Goblin is alive and well and full of sass and pizzazz, and to inform that Goblin’s older brother, Bob, is alive, although now deaf and mostly blind.

Goblin’s mother, Annie, died a couple of years ago.

It was information that weighed on me for the rest of the day. At bedtime, as we were getting comfortable, I scooped Goblin into my arms and broke the news as gently as I could. She took it placidly, her cloudy eyes meeting my gaze for several seconds. Maybe she didn’t remember her mother, or maybe she had already known, somehow, in the way dogs seem to know things. And we snuggled extra close under the covers. And I was still rubbing her tummy when she started snoring.



“I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about chupacabras—with the comparatively few who have always understood the dangers of chupacabras, but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who, until recently, saw chupacabras as a distant and imaginary species. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State Capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Chupacabra regulations, etc., couched for the most part in cryptozoological and military terms, should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and terrors of the Chupacabra Red Alert. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about, I shall continue to have your cooperation and not have to order that you be shot on sight.”

—President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 12 March 1933


The Species that Dare Not Speak Its Name

I don’t know why chupacabras are not a part of our national discourse. They did not get a shout-out in President Obama’s stirring inaugural speech. There are no hot chupacabra-oriented questions on Quora. It’s as if they don’t exist. And from my self-appointed throne as America’s Chupacabra Expert, I declare this omission unacceptable. I declare it unAmerican. 

In other news, I woke up today with the kind of headache that comes from wildly underestimating how much Bailey’s Irish Cream is left in the bottle when you think you might as well pour the rest of it into a glass to finish it off. Also, my visit to the skeleton doctor went swimmingly, and I had an encouraging meeting about my upcoming wellness practices book.


That’s What Happens

Are you still here? I confess, I thought one of us would have given up on this thing by now. I am running out of material.

Today, I ate a black bean burger and a little bag of potato chips and went into a blood sugar coma that knocked me out for hours. My brain synapses are still flickering tentatively back on one by one. In contrast, whenever I drink a cup of coffee, I am awake for days. And don’t get me started on the heroin. I am so delicate, like a flower. But not an ugly flower like the daffodil. I think I would make a nice daisy, if you want to know the truth. Maybe a tulip. Sleek and uncomplicated, that’s what I would be, and that’s what you should be, too.

Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to go climb Kilimanjaro.



Happy Inauguration Day! Hey, do you remember that time that little girl on “Love Sidney” was playing with matches and accidentally burned down the couch? Or was that Punky Brewster. Anyway, in the interim, we got into some wars and financial crises and then we got a black president. (One of these things is not like the others.) I am not at the festivities because I have a patient later, and also because I can’t leave Goblin unsupervised for that long. If nineteen-eighties sitcoms have taught us anything, it is that plucky little girls are a danger to us all.

My memory, or lack thereof, is a familiar topic around these here parts. Why can I remember the words to every 1980s sitcom theme but not, I don’t know, Spanish? Why can I remember that “BJ and the Bear” was preempted the day they released the Iran hostages but not what the new movie about the Iran hostages is called? These are mysterious times. I will put on my paranoia cap and blame our black president. First he came for my memory, and I did not speak out because I forgot to. Then he came for my guns, and hoo boy!


Sign Right Here, Mr. Jones

I have made a deal with the devil. The devil requires that I perform certain rituals to initially heighten and eventually alleviate my suffering. The devil knows that the only way out is through.

Whereas, etc. etc., in this year of 2013, blah blah . . . hmm, oh, here we go . . . David solemnly promises to do the following on a daily basis: (1) Write one page of his wellness practices book, until such a time as it is completed. (2) Write one page of his ancient, languishing novel, until such a time as it is completed, OR (3) write one blog entry. (4) Study for ninety minutes for the national acupuncture board exams, until such a time that he has passed all three of them. (5) Meditate for fifteen minutes.

In exchange for participation in these rituals, etc. etc., the devil agrees to provide: (1) A completed wellness practices book, (2) a completed novel, (3) many thousands of loving blog readers who send me many thousands of presents, (4) some additional letters after my name (Dipl.Ac.) that will allow me to practice acupuncture in most states outside of Maryland, (5) complete peace of mind.

This is my fifth day into the agreement, and I think I need to call my lawyer.


A Social Life

I do, so, leave the house. Last night, I went to a party attended by all of the people I have been too otherwise-focused to meet for the past decade. Buffeted by a wave of alcohol, I navigated my own intense social awkwardness, the drinks spilled in my vicinity, and yes, that man who hit on me without shame. That last was actually the easiest to deal with because of my past life as a slut who was simultaneously hard to get, whereas I’ve never known how to get red wine out of wool.

Something else that happened was a kind party-goer complimented me on my store, which shut down during the recession. I usually avoid this topic—an emotionally bloody one for the past four years—at all costs; in this instance, as I do when it comes up without warning, I prepared myself for an Ocean Of Regret and was surprised when it was barely a River Of Regret. Possibly a Creek Of Regret. Maybe in another four years, it will be something I can integrate more comfortably into the wider tapestry of my life, a mere Thread Of Regret I use as a conversation starter at parties the way I used the ancient Chinese theory of immunology  last night. (And maybe it is something that won’t send my fellow guests running for the booze table to escape. See again: last night.)

By the way, the guy who hit on me insisted I take his email address and call him daddy, both of which I had drunk enough to do, if only ironically on the latter. Maybe I should stay home more often.



I am going to go on the record as having no idea what to make of this chupacabra. This chupacabra is All Over The Place. You may accuse me of being a chupacabra racist, but where are her eyes? What is that honeycomb thing in the background? Do chupacabras live in bee colonies now? Also: those are the pointiest elbows in town.

I know, I know. Who am I to go around critiquing other people’s chupacabras? Who died and made me the grand poobah of all the chupacabras? I will tell you who: the Internet. Behold the search results for this very blog.

I know what you’re going to say, that I could perhaps pull in some extra income by advertising as a chupacabra consultant, but that is a game for the young. At 15,001 days old, I have bigger fish to fry.


Since Before Your Sun Burned Hot in Space

It is my 15,000th Day Alive! I can’t calculate my exact time on earth any more granularly than that since my mother claims she forgot what time of day I was born, an unlikely story no doubt concocted to cover the involvement of space aliens. Let us say it is somewhere around 360,016 hours or 1,296,000,000 seconds, give or take a few. I refuse to lament here over how much of that time was unproductive, although the idea is certainly on my mind. There is something about my encroaching middle age that leads to a reflexive review of my decisions to date. In general, I think I have done the best I can with what I’ve had, but at the same time, vanishing in a puff of smoke is an increasingly appealing lifestyle choice.

But you’re stuck with me for the time being.



Are you there, god? It’s me, Margaret. Do you know how many times I’ve made that joke in these pages? And my name isn’t even Margaret, for god’s sake. But I do keep sort of trailing off and then bursting back onto the blogging scene, better than ever. Quite possibly not bursting, but sort of appearing stealthily and largely ignored? And quite possibly not better?

In any case, as a part of my plan to dust off some cobwebby aspects of my life that I’ve been missing, as well as to inspire myself to keep going in some new and exciting directions . . .

Ta da!

So what’s new with me is that I went from being in arguably the best shape of my life to being an inert puddle of goo in the past month thanks to a mysterious stabby pain that has appeared in the middle of my back, which no acupuncture or rolfing adventure has yet cured. Nonetheless, my acupuncture business is taking off in fits and starts, I’m finally able to focus on a book that I am supposedly writing, and I plan to stop putting off studying for the national acupuncture board exams any day now thanks to my new Accountability Buddy of Doom. (She does not know about the Doom part yet.)

What’s new with you?


Happy Horrordays! (Part Five)

Two posts in one day?! Hey, you, don’t get used to this. This one is brought to you by Kraken brand spiced rum. It may be apocryphal to the canon, I’m not sure.



O come all ye mummies,
Wrapped in strips of linen,
O come ye, O come ye to terrorize the populace.
Although it’s unclear
What you will do if you catch them.
You don’t have any fangs,
You don’t have any talons,
You don’t have a machine gun,
You are a mummy.

O, hey, here an idea!
Linens make a good noose!
Maybe if you braid some strips toge-e-ether,
You can choke someone
Or give a nasty bru-u-uise
Around a person’s neck.
Oh, really, what the heck
Are you gonna to do
To earn your street cred?

O sad little mummies,
Former glorious pharaohs,
Why this caree-eer change so la-ate in life?
Maybe you won’t go
Into the monster hall of fame,
But you’re still plenty scary,
Or maybe you’re just dusty.
Well, you can give a hankie
When I-I-I-I sneeze!


It’s going to be my birthday in a couple of hours, so yeah.


Happy Horrordays! (Part 4)

Once upon a time, I proclaimed myself the Antichristmas and acted as the scourge of holiday crassness and commercialism masked as cheer. This year, I have been too lazy and preoccupied. But oh, my little candy canes, did I knock myself out for you this morning! I present here, for the first time in ages, a new monster carol. You can find my previous efforts, parts one through three, here.

And now, with no further ado . . .



Said the night wind to the little goat
Do you smell what I smell? (Do you smell what I smell?)
Wafting through the air, little goat?
Do you smell what I smell? (Do you smell what I smell?)
A stench, a stench,
A permeating smell
That tells me all is not well
Yes, it tells me all is not well!

Said the little goat to his little friends
Do you fear what I fear? (Do you fear what I fear?)
On this cold, dark night, little friends?
Do you fear what I fear? (Do you fear what I fear?)
A fearsome beast
Devourer of goats
And we all should protect our throats
Yes, everyone, cover your throats!

Said the chupacabra to the frightened herd
Do you taste what I taste? (Do you taste what I taste?)
Coursing through your veins, little goats?
Do you taste what I taste? (Do you taste what I taste?)
It’s blood! Sweet blood!
My favorite delicacy!
I shall suck it from you into me
Yes, I’ll suck it all into me!

Said the crime scene detectives the next day
Do you see what I see? (Do you see what I see?)
Spread across this desolate field? 
Do you see what I see? (Do you see what I see?)
Entrails! Corpses! 
And we haven’t any leads
It must have been a coyote
Yes, it must have been a coyote!


And now, a special bonus chupacabra, enjoying the season (with a link to where you can purchase this heirloom-quality ornament):


Harpy Diem

This morning, upon awakening, I posted some self-directed inspirational messages on Facebook of the do-it-now!, get-things-done!, get-off-your-lazy-ass! variety. I am going to seize this day, I told myself. I am going to jump out of bed, drink a glass of water, accomplish three important things, and start a gratitude journal. I am as grateful as fuck, and it’s time a journal knew about it. 

Then I sort of lurched out of bed, went to lunch at a brewery, developed a headache, and took a nap for the rest of the afternoon.

I am so totally going to seize tomorrow if I feel like it.



Autumn turns to winter,
And winter turns to spring.
It doesn’t go just for seasons you know,
It goes for everything.

Oh, wise Brady kids, avatars of the cosmos, you summed up the three years of my latest degree so poetically. Autumn turns to winter, turns to spring, turns to summer, turns to late summer, turns to autumn. This is the cycle of creation, the circle of all life, and life is movement. When it’s time to change, it’s time to rearrange—and oh, my little turnips, oh, how I have changed, how I have rearranged.

I chose as my default browser Google Chrome.

Safari, dear Safari, you crashed one too many times. You eliminated the features I cherished. You became ordinary. Once, you were the backbone of my existence, and I love you dearly, but the time has come for tough love and tough choices. Winter is coming. Mayans are in the air, apocalyptic and apoplectic. Whereas I must be nimble to cope with these dangers and the uncertainties that lie beyond them, you held me back. You weighed me down. You wandered off the path.

And so, for now, we part ways. It is better that spend some time apart, a few weeks, a few months. The autumn air will crisp into the bitter winter’s cold of your absence. Separately, we will fight for survival. We will grow tougher. We will struggle to adapt and adapt to struggle. And at night, those desolate nights as the trains howl in the forlorn distance, we will look out into the dark void, dimly lit by the cold pinpricks of Orion the Hunter, and we will think of each other, and we will take strength from our time together, and we will dream of spring.

Support for this blog was provided by the Chupacabra Foundation, creating a better world through sucking one goat at a time. 


Mr. Sandman?

It recently occurred to me that I don’t have enough to worry about in my life, and on top of everything that I do during the day, I should spend the nighttime micromanaging my unconscious, as well. So I downloaded an app that is supposed to facilitate lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when one realizes that he is dreaming and takes active control of the storyline. I have managed to do this a few times on my own, by accident, but imagine what I could accomplish on purpose. A few nights ago, I dreamed about werecrickets infesting my old elementary school, but these creatures actually resembled grasshoppers, an observation that caused my dream self no end of consternation. But I now have the ability to correct the entomology in my dreams in real time. With great power comes great responsibility.

The lucid dreaming app is an elaborate affair that requires positioning your iPhone under the sheets to monitor your movement with its all-knowing accelerometer. When, through whatever arcane calculation, it suspects you are in REM sleep, it plays a preselected sound bite in hopes your unconscious mind will hear it and understand the significance. I don’t know if it works or not because it does not go off when I’m asleep; it goes off when I am tossing and turning in my regular battles with insomnia. But of course, when I hear it, I am forced to wonder if I am actually just dreaming the insomnia, and I spend several moments trying to change the scenario from my bedroom to a spaceship or a meadow or Matt Damon’s shower stall. The resulting anxiety when nothing happens does not do wonders for my sleepless nights, but I feel I must persist until I achieve a glimmer of success, at which point I will drop it entirely, because why should this be different than anything else I do?

I am very thankful for the technology that allows my neuroses to extend to the full twenty-four hours.



It is getting harder and harder to keep up with this Friday chupacabra documentation, as the universe increasingly torments me with existential dilemmas. Is it Friday? Is there a chupacabra available? Blah blah blah. I just want to stay in bed with a bottle of wine and a download of Angry Birds Star Wars. When Matt Damon drops by asking about me, just send him up on up.

Anyway, what a week. The mighty chupobama won the election contest, the religious right lost the cultural contest, and the predictable moderate scolds issued their predictable moderate monishments about predictable moderation. Celebrate, don’t gloat. Let’s all put aside our differences and work together. Now the president is in a much stronger position to ignore everything his supporters believe in, in the name of moderate compromise!

My little parsnips, I must confess, I gloated like a mofo, and so did this chupacabra.* Work with that.

*Pictured above, gloating.



Friday, Monday, Tuesday. Whatever. I just finished the first two meditations in Deepak Chopra’s twenty-one-day challenge, and the very air abounds in chupacabras.

Deepak Chopra says that if you believe in abundance, all of your needs and desires will be met, a concept illustrated above. Our friend the mighty chupacabra needed a goat (pictured on left, needing goat), and thus the goat was manifest (pictured on right, sucking on manifested goat). You may not know this, but chupacabras have very abundant mindsets. Why, look at those piercing eyes, that portentous squat, those strong talons ready to grasp its rightful destiny, those vigorous fangs prepared to penetrate any prize. Chupacabras do not doubt themselves. They have no shame. They are confident in their abilities and secure in their contribution. They do not hesitate.

When looking for acupuncture clients, the mighty chupacabra will distribute infinite business cards. When running for president, the mighty chupacabra’s sons will purchase every voting machine and install mysterious, unregulated software on the eve of the election. The little voice that worries about being judged, that holds it back from giving one hundred present of itself toward its own advancement, is not present within a chupacabra, or in Deepak Chopra for that matter.

Today is election day. By the time you read this, we may have a brand new overlord-elect . . . or the same old overlord we had yesterday. The Unified Field of Abundance and Chupacabras giveth, and the Unified Field of Abundance and Chupacabras taketh away.



My, those are celebratory chupacabras. This couple has been wining and dining me since I graduated from acupuncture school last week and subsequently became licensed by a rogue Maryland state agency to embed steel spikes into the unsuspecting public. My attempts to work chupacabras and steel spikes into my advertising campaigns have proven unsatisfying, however, and I therefore resort to “qi” and “harmony” and other bromides meant to be murmured over the trickling water fountains of your local wellness center. But this is a kick-ass healing system, people. Do you see those chupacabras merrily sipping that pinot noir in the above documentary photo? Here is what they looked like before they sought refuge in my steel spikes of healing love:

And for reference, here is a steel spike of healing love, an Excalibur of rejuvenation embedded in crisp cotton bedding, fit to be be wielded only by a true M.Ac. who has endured three arduous years of . . .

Blah blah blah. Anyway. Whatever. No time for chitchat. Word of my miraculous chupacabra-vivifying abilities is getting out. And look, pinot noir.


Decades, Lost and Found

Hello, my little celery stalks. How are you? It’s been a while. I probably owe you a chupacabra or three, but I have other priorities.

This week, after three challenging years, I achieved my Master of Acupuncture degree. I have long been entranced with the way this is abbreviated and am secretly working on my Justin Long impression: “Hello, I’m a M.Ac….” Ha ha. Ha.

Anyway, that’s over with, and I am once again on the precipice of the unknown. You know, like those times when I graduated from high school, earned my B.A. and moved to Chicago, moved back to Baltimore for my first M.A., started my first business, started my second business, moved to New York City, started my third business, etc. It’s been over eight years since I last found myself in this position: Rob and I moved to Baltimore and got married, and I opened the store that was to consume my life until it was, in turn, consumed by the economic recession. That chain of events was a volcanic heartache I did my best to ignore by plunging into acupuncture school, but which still erupts at random intervals to leave me breathless with furious abasement. Now, I am back at square one with little to show for a decade of intense and focused labor. My bank accounts are empty, my home is in shambles, and I can’t seem to conjure a recollection of what I ever did for fun.

And yet, once again at a new beginning, I have hope. I am remembering who I am. I am connecting to who I want to be. There is a spark in my heart that seems not to be the familiar pain or resignation, and may even be akin to excitement.

I am ready to create a new reality.

And here, my little dandelions, is a chupacabra.




I am pondering the existence of Goblin Foo Uvula; Goblin Foo Uvula is gnawing on a bone at my feet. She has enough bones scattered around the house to assemble an army of skeletal cattle, reanimate them in a lightning storm, and march them around the neighborhood in menacing formation, a message to all who dare cross her. She can immerse herself in a single task, but she never loses sight of the big picture.

Goblin turned twelve this week, a monumental achievement for both of us. Nothing has ever relied upon me for twelve years and lived to tell the tale. A stalk of ornamental bamboo came the next closest, but that stalk of ornamental bamboo did not need to be fed and walked daily, chauffeured to the acupuncturist, and provided with an army of unassembled cows. Compared to the simple requirements of the stalk of ornamental bamboo, Goblin is the Maharincess of Franistan.

Every day, I look at my dog, give her a kiss on the head, and appreciate being together with her in that moment. One day, as Dianne says, that will not be so, a fact I have been keenly aware of since the first time I beheld her, when she was but a few weeks old and chewing on my belt buckle. Watching her age has been bittersweet, appreciating new depths of her character, trying not to dwell on her encroaching infirmities such as the cataracts that are dimming her eager eyes or the back leg that trembles with the slightest effort.

I love her.



Against all odds, we shall discuss the mighty chupacabra. MIGHTY CHUPACABRA FACT: 78.21 percent of all search inquiries to this very website are for keyword chupacabra. If you include misspellings and other modifiers, the total leaps to over 85 percent.

Okay, granted, I have been known to digress for a moment or two onto the topic of this noble species. But 85 percent? This web log is an exhaustive record of my life for the past ten years, give or take a year or three in the middle; my life has involved living in multiple homes in multiple cities, working in multiple businesses, going to multiple movies, petting multiple dogs (“What?!?” –GFU). Eighty-five percent of that time has not revolved around the mighty chupacabra. This proportionality is most improbable.

And now, we interrupt this post to bring you a mighty chupacabra.



Checking In with the Chupacabras

The above is a link to an article by William Geraldi about why people are so fascinated by monsters, and why there are probably no monsters, and yet why it’s good that people are fascinated by them. The main monster featured therein is Bigfoot, which I am not particularly oriented toward even though I saw one cross the road on the first morning I ever spent in Washington State. Wide-eyed, I mentioned it to everyone I saw that day, although this didn’t earn a second glance from anyone except one wackaloon who postulated I had seen a giant bird, and the barista at Starbucks who gave me a free cup of tea for my trouble.

I know you are all wondering how this impacts the chupacabra community, and I say unto ye it does not, except, of course, in that they resent being classified as monsters. Like humans, chupacabras have evolved into efficient societies based on logic, science, the arts, and ruthlessly shedding the blood of the next society over that is hoarding all the good grazing land.

Contrary to popular belief, chupacabras are vegans.


Passion Play

When my husband checked in on Facebook yesterday at a vacuum cleaner museum in some Midwestern state that begins with an M, I confess my first thought was along the lines of, I hope you pick up some hints for vacuuming the floors at home, which is an activity that has never happened since before our sun burned hot in space.

But then he posted this:

This might be too long for a status, but I’ll try and be concise. The Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Missouri, was really inspiring. Like, transformationally inspiring. Of course I went because, ho ho, a vacuum cleaner museum! On my road trips, I like to seek out the oddities. Got a big ball of string? I will come see it. Take my money! This museum is attached to a warehouse/factory. It’s free … just sign the guest book. It was empty today, except for the two employees, Tom and Connie, and an intern. I wandered through (I’ll post a photo album soon) … it’s small, but well put together. The machines are organized by decade, interspersed with ads from the period. So I took pictures – especially of the ads – whoever put it together had a real sense of humor. So when I was done, I asked Connie how this place came to be – was this some kind of corporate exhibit or something? No, she said, these machines all belonged to Tom. It was his thing. So I went back to talk to Tom in his little office. Now – this guy was not what you might imagine. He was about my age – had a goatee, brush cut, some tattoos on his arms & calves. Just my guess from our conversation, I think he was gay but who knows. But he had a passion. He owns six hundred and forty two vacuum cleaners: he has restored them all – they all work. He can tell you that the machines they were using in the early 1900s are essentially the same as one you’d buy today. He knows James Dyson – in fact, bought #46 of the first fifty machines Dyson built when he was just trying to break into the world of vacuums. He knew that the “revolutionary” technology that Dyson was promoting had actually been done in the 20s in a particular kind of canister vacuum which used water to capture the coal dust and ashes that were in carpets then. He knew everything about the ads (they were his, too.) He had a spiel down for the whole place that he used when tour buses dropped by (which they occasionally do.) He could tell you why the Eureka canister was great (it can sit on a stair tread and not fall) and why some new vacuums are over-technologized (too many circuit boards, all vulnerable to heat and dust …) I would have bought a vacuum from this guy.

Amazingly, this museum has only been around for three years. Apparently, the factory where he works was building some kind of new revolving brush mechanism – he said, well, that’s like the so-and-so brush from the 1920s. They said, how do you know? And then the fact that he had six hundred working vacuum cleaners came out. So: a museum was born.

This guy has a passion. I don’t know why he particularly attached to vacuums, but he is The Guy. The love of it is palpable. It’s not strange or weird or unrelatable – he makes the connections apparent between the evolving technology and the changes in American culture – what was going on in the home – and you nod and go, of course!

I think he’s used to people barging in ready to say, haw haw, a vacuum museum, get a load of that, Francine. He was cheerful but guarded when I came in – another dude with a camera from who knows where. But when I talked to him about it at the end, he absolutely came alive.

After he kept me spellbound for about 25 minutes, the phone rang and he had to go take the call. The intern – a young Ron-Weasley-of-the-Ozarks guy – looked at me, enthralled at having seen Tom convey his passion, and said, “I’m sort of in training.”

I drove away, just thinking about Tom and that place. The passion that he pursued – which found expression – there’s something there, a great, great thing. I can still feel the aliveness – something in the heart chakra. When theater feels like a pointless pursuit, when the insanities and anxieties and pain feel overwhelming and absurd and why-do-this … I’ll think about this guy’s museum. We all have to build our museum – to create an experience that can envelop someone – somebody like me, who came in maybe looking for a fast laugh to post on Facebook – somebody like me who came away changed. Build a museum.

Yes, I choked up, a reaction that, even after eleven years, Rob has the power to provoke in me with his words and music. And the topic of passion is an important one, something I’ve spent my adult life pursing like a naturalist with a butterfly net. Is this it? I have wondered as I write or design a book, open a café, attend a graduate school, start a love affair, pick out a puppy. Unlike our friend Tom, who was struck by a very specific sort of lightning, I never had anything concrete to use as a yardstick, but I think I am coming closer and closer to a quiet understanding of passion, where I am called to aliveness and where I shut down.

In the acupuncture treatment room, I am so interested in what brings people to life because I really do believe that illness doesn’t have a chance in the presence of passion. Getting a person to recognize that area of their life—and expand its influence—is one of the most powerful things I can do to help a person heal. Even if their physical body doesn’t get better, their spirit does. You can have a symptom, even be dying, and still feel good, my mentor, Bob, will say. It depends on what you focus on. You would be surprised if I told you how many of my patients can’t name a passion in their life or don’t even recognize its potential; some can’t even say a single thing that is going well. I know how to begin to treat this with words and needles.

On the other hand, if someone announced that their passion was the six hundred forty-two functional vacuum cleaners they’ve got stashed in the basement, I would wonder where the line is between passion and mental illness. I’ve seen hoarders who are equally attracted to the stack of newspapers blocking the bathroom door, but perhaps the difference is visible in the heart. Do you possess a passion, or does a passion possess you? Do you come to life in its presence and enjoy sharing it, or does it lead you to close yourself off from the world? Is it in proportion to your life? Maybe we all have to be a little bit crazy to get by.

Tom is lucky that he was given an outlet for his vacuum cleaners. I suppose we all are.



You are a chupacabra who walks with purpose. You are a chupacabra with somewhere to be. You are a chupacabra with pizzazz and curiously curled toes. Seriously, what is with those toes? Did they evolve that way? Did god make them?

Speaking of chupacabras, I just read some books about Henry VIII and was struck by something. Traditionally, only marriageable women had to fear for their heads around this guy, but he actually had just about everyone else executed, as well, including some of his most brilliant and beloved associates. Wosley, More, Fisher, Cromwell . . . sure, Archbishop Cranmer escaped his clutches, but he was executed by Catholic sourpuss Mary I not long into her reign. You might think they would have realized, as civilized folk do today, it was better to be safe in the subjugated masses, with only starvation and plague to worry about, than to be an ambitious bluestocking subject to the murderous whimsy of an all-powerful whale of greed. But I understand David Koch is actually a lamb when you get to know him.


Wisdom for the Ages

In honor of Thursday being my last day of classes at Ye Olde Acupuncture School,* I have decided to share with you a master work of philosophical genius that has been lost in the mists of time for at least a year, until the world was ready for such an offering. I refer to one of the most influential pieces of classical literature ever composed, the foundation of great civilization, the inspiration of great culture, the cornerstone of great religion, the cosmology of great healing, and the impetus for great learning: the Tao Te Ching.

Rewritten into jaunty limerick form by yours truly.


The Tao Te Ching

A new translation of the first 12 chapters, by David



Tao. An unnameable notion:
The eternal, original ocean
From which Earth and Heaven
And all mysteries have been
Revealed as just nothing in motion.



Yin and yang – ugly, attractive –
Arise mutually and remain active.
You can’t have just one, no:
The wisdom’s to let go.
The holding on’s what’s most distractive.



Here we investigate worth.
Preferring abundance to dearth
Just creates stealing,
Robbing, freewheeling.
Wanting nothing is Mastery’s birth.



Now to return to the Tao,
And it’s quite paradoxical how
The source of all matter
And celestial chatter
Is magnificent emptiness. Wow.



The galaxy’s not sentimental,
And Mastery isn’t judgmental.
Be empty, impartial.
The secret’s to marshal
Nothing: it’s so transcendental.



The Tao, inexhaustible Mother:
The subtle kind, not one to smother
A child with attention.
That’s not her convention.
Her power is something quite other.



What never starts will never end.
Those who move back will always ascend.
The secret’s to detach,
Be selfless and then match
The giving of Heaven. Transcend!



What benefits all without trying,
Is humble and simple, low-lying?
To accomplish the best good,
The aspiring Sage should
Mimic water’s unselfish supplying.



The opposite of your desires
Will come to you if it transpires
That you keep up your wishes
For overfilled dishes.
Detachment is what peace requires.



Lead without being controlling.
Let things happen and keep the ball rolling.
Seeing only the good stuff
Won’t make you a cream puff.
You’ll be virtuous, prime for extolling.



Like the empty inside a clay pot,
What’s there’s less of use then what’s not.
While the tangible’s fine,
It’s the space that’s divine:
A detail we’ve clearly forgot.



As the ear can be deafened by sound,
The heart hurts when desires abound.
To increase your vibration,
Please reduce stimulation
And keep your mind’s focus profound.


 * It is my last day of classes, but I will not be able to graduate until I finish up my clinical internship. Make your appointment today.



Is it just me, or are these chupacabras getting more improbable? They evolved for sucking goats’ blood, for goodness sake, a profession that does not require porcupine spikes and mosquito eyes. Wings? OK, maybe; there is a theory that the chupacabra is related to the Jersey Devil, which is of course a winged species. But all of those random boils on its flesh do not strike me as sufficiently aerodynamic.

That is my expert critique of this chupacabra.

How are you? I am fine. Fine-ish.

Here’s my news: the classes for my Master’s degree in acupuncture end next week; there is only one left, actually. And then a potluck. And then I have to finish my clinical hours. And then maybe another potluck. And then . . . a new career.

Ninth time’s the charm, they say.


A Research Project

Just after his second election as president, Abraham Lincoln saw a reflection of himself that had two entirely separate faces, one looking normal and the other much paler, which he took as a mystic warning he would not survive his second term. A few days before he was assassinated, he had a dream about a state funeral in the White House. Was this prescience or just pessimism?

A haruspex told Julius Caesar to beware the Ides of March, a notion he pooh-poohed until he was stabbed 23 times on the floor of the Roman Senate on the afternoon of March 15. Less willing to accept an omen than Lincoln would be almost two thousand years later, he nonetheless met the same fate.

In Ireland, a bean sí, or banshee, is a fairy woman or ghost who foretells a death by appearing before the family and wailing inconsolably. If several banshees show up at once, the deceased-to-be is a great person.

The Wild Hunt, a hunting party composed of specters, fairies, or other terrifying figures—in full accoutrements, complete with horses, hounds, and brandished weapons—in mad pursuit of prey, across the landscape or across the sky, is said to be a portent of death, war, or catastrophe.

Witnessed by dozens of ordinary people in Point Pleasant, WV before the Silver Bridge collapsed in December 1967, the Mothman—a large, brown flying creature with a seven-foot wingspan and large, reflective red eyes—has also been seen in the vicinity immediately prior to other horrific disasters, such as the an earthquake in Mexico City and the Chernobyl meltdown.

Other flying creatures­—birds—are much more common than giant humanoid moths as augurs of death. Crows, cuckoos, doves, eagles, geese, hens, jackdaws, larks, magpies, owls, pigeons, plovers, ravens, robins, gulls, sparrows, swallows, vultures, and whippoorwills all have portentous capabilities. To be taken seriously, some must display elaborate or unlikely behaviors, such as having a jackdaw climb down your chimney or a hen laying a double-yoked egg, but others, like the whippoorwill, need only be glimpsed, and the plover only needs to be heard.

I hope you all have a nice week.



Hello? Is it still Friday? Was it ever Friday?

Well, who is to say we can’t have chupcabras on other days? I mean, besides their labor union, the International Brotherhood of Chupacabras and Assorted Improbable Creatures, which was recently denied collective bargaining rights by Deformed Play-Doh Sculpture Scott Walker (WI). Why should those union layabouts get six days a week off and all the goats they can suck? My friend Christina bought Goblin a plush toy shaped like either a sloth or a bigfoot (the jury is still out), and it crossed the IBCAIA picket line on the way in here.

How are you, my little artichoke hearts? I am making a list and checking it twice. It is a list of things I have to do in order to graduate from Ye Olde Acupuncture School in a couple of months. A long list. I am making arrangements for some preposterously overdue renovations in The House That Is Collapsing Around My Ears. I am embarking on a new thirty-day fitness routine—a thirty-day fitness routine I started last week, diligently performed for two days, and then forgot all about, so maybe the second time is the charm on that one. I am a busy little bumblebee, but not the kind that is dying off because of environmental evils. I am a bumblebee who survives and eventually contributes to its 401(k) again.

Here is a chupacabra.


Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln…?

I recently went to Florida for a few days to see the opening night of Rob’s show. Florida is a swamp of a state, both environmentally and politically, but one area where it excels is bugs, which diligently line every surface with their webs and slime trails and cocoons and in their spare time jump up and attack you. There is one bizarre kind of spider with a black butt and a big green head that is particularly pesky. Rob’s mother was loathe to clear the walkway of their striated webbing because she said they ate mosquitos, however I came home with a mosquito bite on one arm and a spider bite on the other, so it is clear that my body is a battleground for more than just dysmorphic disorder.



Ten years ago today, I sat down at the computer in my noisy Jackson Heights apartment and started a blog called Upside-down Hippopotamus, named for the snaggle-toothed Boston terrier who had wriggled her way into my heart two years before. No, I did not have another snaggle-toothed Boston terrier before this one; it had merely been noted that Goblin Foo Uvula, mistress of disguises, resembles a baby hippo when lying on her back.

Goblin and I lived with my friend Tiffany and were still getting to know the handsome lunatic whom I would eventually marry. I was unemployed, which I called “freelancing.” Various business ventures, advanced degrees, and mythological creatures were still in our future.

What possessed me to narrate my ongoing autobiography to the masses I couldn’t tell you, but I barely missed a day for years. I certainly can’t recall thinking that the masses would pay attention, although a surprising number of people eventually did. Looking back at my writing, I can’t recall being quite so interesting a person, which leads me to wonder if I made it all up.

A hectic schedule of graduate school, treating in the student acupuncture clinic, and helping to run a café is not exactly conducive to keeping this story current, but I have no plans to disappear again. I hope you don’t, either. I get by with a little help from my chupacabras.