Random answers to unasked questions and thoughts about changing light bulbs.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad . . . .Polonius, Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. . . .Ferris Bueller

Laughter is the best medicine. . . . Abraham Lincoln

Ow, my arm hurts. . . .Hippie Cahier

I really wanted to spare you the melodrama, but the fact of the matter is that approximately every other one of these keystrokes is causing me pain. And yet here I am, tap-tap-tapping away, bless my heart, because — as is far too often the case — I feel compelled to explain myself. One entire side of my body hurts and my wrist is in a brace as a reminder that putting the slightest pressure on it is most uncomfortable indeed. This, combined with certain other realities, technical and otherwise, has led to short bursts of social media time, most of it by way of a 4 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ smartphone screen. Neither of those circumstances is conducive to extended reading or writing.

Hence what I expect to be a passing addiction to Twitter hashtag games, which have been a fun challenge to my own creative thinking and an opportunity to enjoy others’ creativity and humor.  I can pop in and out whenever time and WiFi access allow, say something, read something, and walk away.

You may have noticed that brevity doesn’t come naturally to me. Ask me what time it is and I’ll tell you the history of clocks. It’s ridiculous.  Training myself to abbreviate my thoughts is another challenge, one that I clearly have not yet mastered, as evidenced by the fact that we are now three paragraphs into this and I have still not arrived at my point.

So let’s get to that.

This week I started my own Twitter hashtag based on the oft-used theme “#Ask____”.   These hashtags usually start out as humorous and satirical, or maybe sometimes heartfelt questions for celebrities, and too often (d)evolve into something less than good-natured. I was pretty sure mine wouldn’t go that far, but I was willing to risk it anyway, and so #AskHippieCahier was born for no particular reason.

The idea came to me only partially formed on Monday morning. I figured I’d go for it and see what developed because –and it probably won’t surprise you to know this– I’m not getting paid for this. There’s no real measure of success or failure. For me it’s just a break from the real world. For anyone disappointed by the lack of depth or of any particular social value, I would offer that sometimes a person just needs to chill, especially a person whose wrist is currently experiencing excruciating pain. (Strike up the violins.)

Throughout the week I posted the answers to #AskHippieCahier: random answers to random questions that I invented myself.

I did get a few questions, notably from the girl in the glasses, “How many bloggers does it take to change a light bulb?”  

My immediate, abbreviated response, typed against the clock as a commuter train sped toward a tunnel and  lost WiFi connection, went along the lines of the answer depending on how much the light bulb is willing to change. The irony of entering the darkness of the tunnel was not lost on me.

Pondering the question for at least another five or six station stops, it occurred to me that it would take at least one uplifting blogger to encourage the light bulb in its journey, one informative blogger to share the scientific evolution of light bulbs from fluorescent to halogen and beyond, one literary blogger to explore the semiotics of light bulb change,  one home design blogger to offer DIY tips on ways to change your lighting, one foodie blogger to explain how to photograph arugula under different light bulb options, one emo blogger to remind the light bulb of the futility and despair inherent to any struggle with darkness, and one humor blogger to finish this paragraph because this is my train station (and the emo blogger does not appear to be amused).

Try as I might, I could not condense that to 140 characters.

I went back to posting random answers that occurred to me, based on real-life events, to questions no one really asked. Here’s what came of that.

Answer: “Testosterone, exchange-traded funds, and clowns.”
Question: “What are three things that, despite your best efforts, you will never comprehend?”

Answer: “Nellie Bly had a pet monkey (reportedly).”
Question: “What is something you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?”

Answer: “Backgammon.”
Question: ” “Have you ever excelled at something that you no longer know how to do?”

Answer: “Sunday television coverage of NASCAR.”
Question:“What, in your opinion, is the #1 reason that Monday morning has the highest number traffic accidents?” (fake statistic)

Answer: “The never-ending power struggle over how many spaces follow a period.”
Question: “What is most likely to one day cause you to snap, have a Norma Rae tantrum, & storm out of your office?”

Answer: “Dark Wednesday”
Question, posed by everyone’s favorite curmudgeon: “What do you call it when a science experiment goes wrong in the middle of the week?”
Question that inspired the answer: “No #AskHippieCahier tweets b/c I left my phone at home (on Wednesday). Social media blackout.” So, the curmudgeon was close.

Answer: “A nursing home where Saturday night entertainment is Megadeth and Insane Clown Posse cover bands.”
Question: “What is your greatest ‘irrational’ fear about the direction your life is headed?”

Answer: “Personalized stationery embossed with the signature, ‘Sassypants, Esq.’”
Question: “What are you planning to give your daughter for law school graduation?”

Answer: “The one with the blue uniform.”
Question: “Which team will win NCAA Division 1 Championship?”
(Answer elaborated: I don’t know much about college basketball. There’s a much longer story there. When I do get around to picking March Madness brackets, I tend to favor teams in blue, because it seems like the winner is always in blue.)

Answer: “Save the bees!”
Question, again the curmudgeon speaks: “What’s wrong with the 25-Letter Alphabet Movement?” (Funny guy.)
Question that inspired the answer but which is not as funny as the curmudgeon’s: “Of all the political pleas to Pres.Obama in Metro stations, which one tickles your fancy?”
(Answer elaborated: Billboards in DC’s Metro stations are often aimed at the attention of policymakers and others. They are often serious, frequently depressing, and usually urgent. I understand that the issue is all three of those (so please don’t write to school me on the facts), but juxtaposed with anti-Israel sentiments, for example, it just strikes me as humorous: “Dear President Obama – Please help save the bees.”)

Answer: The Swedish chef making salad.
Question: Favorite moment in Muppets history? Question: “Favorite moment in Muppets history?”
(Answer elaborated: Upon further thought, the chocolate mousse episode was pretty hilarious.)
Answer: Augustus Jackson
Question: Who is the most recent addition to your Imaginary Dinner Party guest list?

Answer: Ronald Reagan
Question: “Which PoTUS rides shotgun with you every day?”
(Answer elaborated: Somehow a Ronald Reagan calendar came into my possession and it is tucked into my work bag. I can keep track in important moments in Reagan history. It’s not penguins, but it’s fun.)
Answer:“Just that one time, but I am confident history will show it was justified.”
Question: “Have you ever wished your eyeballs had death rays that you could shoot at someone, instantly disintegrating them?”

Answer: “Maybe she’s trying to tell us she’s a selkie.”
Question: “Do you have a theory that can’t be reduced to 140 characters that explains Kim Kardashian?
(Answer elaborated: A certain hashtag game brought the movie The Secrets of Roan Inish to my mind, which in turn brought to mind the fact that you don’t see a lot of selkie selfies on the Internet (yet). Selfies made me think of Kim Kardashian, Queen of the Selfies. The thought of Kim Kardashian led to That Picture, which, if you think about it in the right light, which may in fact require you to change the bulb, resembles certain depictions of selkies. Maybe she confused the terms and she’s really Queen of the Selkies. It’s all a big . . . misunderstanding.)

And, finally, kindhearted reader Brickhouse Chick, probably sensing that the #AskHippieCahier needed some help, queried, “What makes Hippie, Hippie?”
I don’t know that there will ever be an acceptable answer for that, but I’m sure it has something to do with the type of brain that makes the quantum leap from The Secrets of Roan Inish to Kim Kardashian as Queen of the Selkies in considerably less time than it takes to change a light bulb.

The view from my window.

It’s an icy day here. The view from my window is lovely, if treacherous. To get pictures from the other side of the window screen, I ventured outside.

It’s cold . . . and icy, which brings me back to where I started.

It’s an icy day here.


The unexpected dangers of sleeping with your smartphone.

“She who goes to sleep with a smartphone at night allows the smartphone to control her life by morning.” ~~ Abraham Lincoln

This really happened. Or most of it did. I can’t speak to the facts vis-à-vis the coin toss. I wasn’t there, unless DNA counts.

Over the past several days, an informal détente seems to have settled into place and now that cooler heads prevail, it’s a good time to share the lesson I have learned, in the hope of helping even one lost soul understand the dangers of sleeping with one’s smartphone too close to the bed.

While I’m not what you’d call an “app” person, I do like my phone’s alarm clock as the solution to a lifelong aversion to the inhumanity of that early morning BUZZZZZ. Instead, I can awaken to pleasant musical tones of my choosing. So, I sleep with the phone on my nightstand. Therein lie certain social dangers.

And so my tale begins.

In an effort to remain relevant, I have adapted to new means of communicating — and therefore  validating my existence–  in the 21st century. I have a Twitter presence, a Facebook presence, and a LinkedIn account* that I remember to check every couple of months, usually after I get an email that “people are checking out (my) profile,” which, quite frankly, freaks me out. But it’s necessary. Because, you know, relevance and validation.

In addition, after a year and a half of learning how to text message, I realized that it might be the solution to another lifelong aversion: to telephone conversation. When I reached my goal of typing “Hell no, would you’re live kumquats four dime store?”  in under 30 minutes, I treated myself to a phone with a QWERTY keyboard, a so-called smartphone, in the hopes that I might eventually communicate, “Hello, would you like to come for dinner?” As we all know by the plethora of failed auto-corrects posted on the Internet, that was but a sod pipeline sad pipe dream.

Not if you use it while you sleep.

Not if you write it while you sleep.

Text-messaging isn’t always convenient, so I had every reason to believe that my new car’s BlueTooth would come in handy on occasion. Sadly, this is not the case.  BlueTooth and I (we’ll call her “Hedy,” for reasons that later become obvious) don’t have what you would call a “healthy” relationship.

While she doesn’t seem to care for me very much, Hedy does tend to favor one of my children.  Specifically, my son.  Often, but not all the time, I’ll say, “Call Daughter.” Hedy’s firm, no-nonsense, female voice confirms, “Calling Son.”

I say “Correction. Call Daughter.”

She says, “Calling Son.”

We argue like that until she says (in a huff, I might add),  “I’m sorry. I can’t understand your command.” Not only do I think she’s not really sorry, I think she can understand my command perfectly well.

Sometimes her judgmental passive-aggression is more succinct.  I say, “Call Chinese Takeout.” She says, “I’m sorry. I can’t understand your command.” Click.

I suppose maybe if you were reading her side of the story, she’d say that just once in a while she’d like Mexican.  Maybe if she had her way, we’d be chowing down on chimichangas and swilling margaritas on a regular basis, but only with my son, never my daughter.  Which might be why I do not have a Mexican takeout number in my contacts. I will not have her choosing favorites.

You might say things have been strained between us for a while.

Lately signs have surfaced that her passive-aggression has turned to outright aggression, with a sinister Single White Female vibe.  And my smartphone is her accomplice.  Whether this is by coercion or persuasion is as yet undetermined.

The first occasion was ok. Weird, but ok. Out of the blue, my son texted, “Hey, mom. Why don’t I come over Saturday and we can watch the game together. I’ll come early and we can go to the store for snacks. It’ll be fun.” Like I said: weird, but ok.

We were somewhere in the chip aisle when I couldn’t hold back my curiosity any longer. “So, did you lose a coin toss with your sister over who was going to watch the game with me?”

“Yeah, but it was also that bizarre text you sent us at 3:30 in the morning.  What was that all about?”

First, I might have been hurt, but honestly, I’m kind of proud that my son is twenty-something and does not know  how to lie to a woman.

Points me.

But then. . . .

“What text?”

“About how proud you are of us and how much you love us. . . .”

I remember dreaming that I was telling them that, but texting it?  Nope. However, evidence suggests that such texts were indeed sent . . .  from my phone . . . at about 3:30 a.m..

Hmmm. I haven’t figured out how, but I’m convinced Hedy is behind this.

Not long after that, Hedy went unhinged. Maybe we should’ve invited her to join us for nachos. Anyway.  First she refused to call anyone, not even my son, employing her flimsy pretense, “I’m (not really) sorry. I can’t understand your command. Please try again.”

I would try again. She would repeat herself.

I admit to eventually losing my own temper and shouting, “Oh . . . JUST. . . NEVER MIND!” Click.

After a few days of this, things went from bad to worse.


(I do not have five phones. I have had a lifelong aversion to phones. Owning five would be a personal nightmare. But not my worst personal nightmare. That was yet to come.**)

I’d say, “Whatever,” and would just keep driving, but she kept repeating herself.  It was madness. Madness, I tell you.

Eventually, I turned off my phone whenever I drove and Hedy and I  stopped communicating altogether. It was sad, but these things happen. I was over it and I thought Hedy was, too.

Apparently, she wasn’t. I awoke one morning a few weeks ago to a troubling mix of pleasant musical tones and absolute panic.

Please let that be a dream. It was just a dream, right?  Just a dream. Please, please, PLEASE!!

I had dreamed, as I occasionally do, of a boy I dated in high school. But this time, instead of driving in his car or walking along the boardwalk, I was sending him a LinkedIn connection request. To my surprise, he accepted.

I rushed to my desktop and logged in, desperate for it to be just a dream.

It was not a dream.

“Name Deleted is now a connection.”

I — or “someone on my behalf”– sent a LinkedIn connection request to someone I haven’t seen or talked to in decades. . . .while I was sleeping.

Points Hedy.

* Real Me has a LinkedIn account. Hippie Cahier does not. Regretfully, Hippie Cahier cannot accept LinkedIn connection requests, because, like Relationship George and Independent George, Real Me and Hippie Cahier cannot co-exist. A hippie divided against herself cannot stand.

** Hey, foreshadowing!


This video  is not at all funny. Au contraire. It is R-rated and raw, but it (a) provides some context for those who haven’t seen Birdman  and (b) demonstrates why Emma Stone deserved an Oscar:

Ten minutes of love, more or less

Like so many others, you’re probably wondering what my position is on Valentine’s Day.  I know what some of you are tempted to say in response  to that sentence and that’s exactly why I’m not changing it.  At this very moment, my position is seated. In a few minutes, it will be upright, and a little later, it will be curled up on the sofa/couch/divan (adjust to your own belief system and home decor).

As to how I feel about Valentine’s Day, for those multitudes among you who  breathlessly await that revelation, I shall not delay, not for one more second.

Well, perhaps just this one aside. It seems to me that Valentine’s Day has become as polarizing as any other topic in our culture. That’s the only thing about Valentine’s Day that I dislike. Why do we have to take sides? It’s not Arbor Day, for Pete’s sake.

As with many other topics (except Arbor Day, because I mean, geez, a person has to take a stand sometimes), I can see both sides and find myself pretty much in the middle. If you love Valentine’s Day and all the trappings, good for you!  If you hate Valentine’s Day and all the trappings, I get that. If you used to love Valentine’s Day but have been jaded by years of high expectations and low follow-through, here’s the good news: It’s only 24 hours and you can sleep through most of it. In fact, this year, you can sleep through all of it. Winning!

Nonetheless, seeing how love is one-third of my “brand,” I should probably give it its time on the stage. Scoot over, peace and hyperbole. It’s the L word’s big day.

This morning the first two things I read gave me an idea.One was this groovy #ShareTheLove idea, and the other was this far out I Believe list (which, btdubs, put the line “I believe I can fly” in my head and it won’t go away, even though I can say in all sincerity that do not, in fact,  believe I can fly). I’m not saying it’s a good idea, and as a matter of fact, since I’m the one who came up with it, chances are it’s not a good idea.  But what the heck. It’s Valentine’s Day and this is probably only being read by a tree that fell in a forest somewhere and has nothing better to do until Arbor Day.

The idea: Share the love.

The plan: Do a focused free-write on “love” and then share it.

What will I need? Is this going to require a trip to the hipster market?: Nope, just some way to write things down and a way to time 10 minutes.

What next: Set your timer for 10 minutes. Then, ready-set-go, free-write a list of things you love. Try not to edit yourself.

And then?: Post it and share the link and the love.  Share it (a link or your list) in the comments section below or on the Share the Love post. (Or nowhere. Don’t let me be the boss of you.)

A word about editing: I’d suggest not editing during the 10 minutes, which is always the thought behind free-writing. Let your mind go where it will. As to editing before posting, that’s up to you. Some things are better left a mystery.

Here’s my list, slightly  edited to protect the innocent. What’s yours?

pictures of my children as babiespictures of my childrenmy childrenDunkin Donuts coffee black turtleneckselegant evening gownswearing boots in winter and flip-flops in summerdangly earringsdogs (except that one that might have been trying to kill me)chocolate, of course, but since you’ve asked, I’m especially fond of dark, Belgian)french fries — and any variation of potato for that matterthe smell of freshly baked bread (especially pumpernickel)avocadoscozy fires in wintercampfires in summerreading the Sunday papermusicsunshinesinging along with Sinatra in the car when spring has freshly sprunglemonadecontagious giggles and belly laughsriding my bikeimpromptu road tripsfalling asleep reading a bookstaying up too late reading a bookbooksbeing snowed in (sorry, New Englanders)crayonsbrand new notebookscolorful, smooth, round river rocksthe ferry ride to that place or that other placesunsetssunrisesfull moonswatersunsets, sunrises, and full moons over the waterwordskayakingintelligent, funny menintelligent, funny peopleholding handshugs(Ok, it’s getting dangerous. . .changing topics . . .)fortune cookiesexpressions of kindnesssolitudespy thrillersromcomshappy endingsthe color orangewalkingquiet conversationsinside jokespop culture quoteslisteninglibrariesmuseumsDegas’ dancers and Rothko’s colorslearning new thingsdaydreamingwatching baseball. . . 

So there you have it. My ten minutes of love.  Please stop by on April 24 for the big reveal of my position on Arbor Day. (Spoiler alert:  Probably crouched down planting flowers.)


(I found this steampunk heart at “lucky978″‘s deviant art page. I don’t know that person, but it’s a lovely piece. )


Famous Abraham Lincoln quotes

(Not really.)

For a little context, read the long version here. For some fun, add your own in the comments section.

"Happy birthday, Mr. President." -- Abraham Lincoln

“Happy birthday, Mr. President.” — Abraham Lincoln

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

“Where’s the beef?”

“I was for the war before I was against it.”

“Suppose you were a member of Congress and suppose you were an idiot. But I repeat myself.”

“I am not a crook.”

“Yes we can.”

“Don’t cry for me Argentina.”

“It depends on what your meaning of ‘is’ is.”

“Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

“The Eagle has landed.”

“Don’t make that face. It’ll freeze like that.”

“I believe you have my stapler. ”

“A penny saved is a penny . . . hey, that’s me!”

“Bygones.” *

“You can’t start a fire without a spark.”

“Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!”


*”That was Richard Fish on Ally McBeal. You’re going to need to know that if we’re going to be friends.” — Hippie Cahier.