Posts by Mandi Harris

Mandi’s Reads: Scorpio and Pisces: Rethinking my Spinsterhood and Romantic Agnosticism

Mandi's Reads: Scorpio and Pisces: Rethinking my Spinsterhood and Romantic Agnosticism

I’m in the mood for love. Happy, smile-won’t-leave-my-face love. Oh, how I just I died a little bit writing that. You see I’m a big fan of heartbreak. There’s nothing better than a good emotional devastation. I love falling hard for the wrong person and then crying my eyes out while listening to Wonderwall by Oasis and Untouchable Face by Ani DiFranco on a loop for days on end. I honestly feel sorry for people who have never had their hearts broken. I know several people who married the first person they dated and live lives of quiet romantic contentment. Where is the fun in that? There’s no “scope for the imagination” (Anne Shirley quote) in romantic contentment. To quote Anne again, “I can’t help flying up on the wings of anticipation. It’s as glorious as soaring through a sunset…almost pays for the thud.” I agree. The glory of letting your imagination soar in romantic anticipation almost makes up for the thud of romantic rejection. I would even take Anne’s quote a step farther and say that the thud of romantic rejection has its own masochistic pleasure. (I am clearly not meant for tranquil domesticity. The stormy seas of emotionally devastating affairs just may be my lot in life.)

I had a few thuds that left me gun-shy (please pardon the clumsiness of that mixed metaphor) enough to only seek romantic entanglements of a lukewarm variety. However, now I am ready for an honest-to-goodness emotionally overwhelming love affair that hopefully begins with a case of [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: Tell all the truth but tell it slant

Mandi's Reads: Tell all the truth but tell it slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant” is one of my favorite lines of poetry. Like Emily Dickinson, I believe in telling the truth, but at an angle. My angle is humor. I have found the truth is far less frightening when I can make a joke out of it.

A few years ago, I became extremely ill. I lost a bunch of weight, my hair fell out, and I was tired all the time. My left eyelid receded into my head at the same time that its corresponding eyeball protruded out of its socket. My heart was beating in excess of 140 beats per minute, twice as fast as it should. On the morning of my 21st birthday, I got the diagnosis: an endocrine disorder. I started taking medicine and promptly gained thirty pounds in just a few weeks. There I was, balding, chubby, and bulgy-eyed. Fortunately, this was when I made one of the best decisions of my life. I chose to react with humor and put on my big girl panties, both figuratively and literally. (They literally were my big girl panties because throughout my weight gain, I had insisted on wearing the same Target size small underwear that I had worn through my illness-induced emaciation. It wasn’t until the chafing grew [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: Only Boring People Are Bored

Mandi's Reads: Only Boring People Are Bored

Did you know that July is National Anti-Boredom Month? Here are some of my tips for avoiding boredom:

Hang out with the elderly. A few weeks ago, an approximately eighty-five-year-old man stared at my butt for a disconcertingly long time, then yelled, “What the hell is that?!”

Hang out with little kids. I was spending time with my seven-year-old nephew when he asked me, “Mandi, how come you decided to grow a mustache?”

When you’re in a situation, ask yourself, “Can this be helped by me being emotionally unstable?” The answer is always “yes.” Every moment is an opportunity for tears, I always say.

Join Twitter. If you’ve never felt the breathless exhilaration of being favorited or retweeted (or, more accurately, followed by @KrazySexx69Girl and propositioned via direct message by @MiddleAgedMarriedGuy), then you haven’t really lived.

Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I don’t care who you are or what is happening in your life, the unpredictable joys of IBS will mean you are never bored, especially if you are enjoying a cheese-filled dinner with someone you are attracted to.

Watch Firefly or Battlestar Galactica. It really is that simple.

Perform everyday activities drunk.* Have you ever vacuumed while drunk? I highly recommend it.

*Except for the following: Driving, being pregnant, flying an airplane, captaining a boat, piloting a submarine, posting Facebook statuses, writing private Facebook messages to people you are secretly in love with, or texting people you find sexually desirable. None of the above will end well if you do them while drunk. (Regarding the [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: Incoherent Ramblings of a Hysterical Woman

Mandi's Reads: Incoherent Ramblings of a Hysterical Woman

When I was in elementary school, I got in big trouble when a fellow classmate told me that people could only have babies if they were married. Drawing on the photographic evidence of me as the flower girl at my parents’ wedding, I contradicted my classmate with an eloquent “Nuh-uh.”

Don’t be fooled by my elementary school knowledge. Like many Americans, I learned everything worth knowing from television. In my case, most of my knowledge of human sexuality came from period BBC miniseries and the will they/won’t they tensions of mid-nineties procedural dramas.

Getting most of my information from the American public school system and films based on 19th century novels left me with a spotty sex education, so I decided to rectify the situation. (Side note: the word rectify makes me giggle. Rectify. Hehehe.) I went to the library and checked out a couple of books. I wound up with one book on syphilis and one on vibrators. I am confident those two topics really cover all the bases. Bonus: June 18th is International Panic Day, and what could cause more panic than syphilis (seriously, just google pictures of it) or the thought of women using vibrators/taking charge of their own sexuality?

Pox: Genius, Madness, And The Mysteries Of Syphilis

By Deborah Hayden

Poe. Lincoln (both Abraham and Mary Todd). Beethoven. Columbus. Mozart. Baudelaire. Darwin. Lenin. Meriwether Lewis. Isak Dinesen. Hitler. Woodrow Wilson. Oscar Wilde. Idi Amin. The author of Pox implies [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: Old Maid’s Day

Mandi's Reads: Old Maid's Day

Let us hearken back to the distant mid-to-late 2000s, when I was still a wee college lass at the University of Oregon. ‘Twas in the days when people still used ye olde Myspace. (Doesn’t that feel like such an innocent, quaint time?) One day, I logged into Myspace only to see that I had a message from a gentleman admirer, a man I had never met. This was no random getting-to-know-you message. Nope, the message contained a higher purpose: an offer to pay me for pictures of my feet. There weren’t any pictures of my feet on the internet (at the time), so I have no idea why he decided to solicit me. (Maybe foot fetishists have some formula whereby they use a person’s face, chest, and arm ratios to calculate the sexual attractiveness of feet?) I rejected this man’s proposition for several reasons. First of all, I was totally skeeved out. Secondly, being paid for pictures of my feet would have felt wrong. Seeing as I have grossly antisexual Hobbit feet (not hairy like a Hobbit, just disproportionately big), I would have been cheating a middle-aged man out of his hard-earned entertainment money. Whatever pleasure he sought would have been for naught, as I firmly believe pharmaceutical companies could bottle my finger-like toes (yes, I use them to pick things up off the floor) in pill form and use them as the opposite of Viagra (then market them to silver fox men for whom baseball and cars are not sexual metaphors and who, if [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: An Oregon Childhood

Mandi's Reads: An Oregon Childhood

When I compare my childhood to those of my friends who also grew up in the 1990s, I realize I had an unusual upbringing. The first years of my life were spent next door to my grandparents’ sheep and cattle ranch. Even after my parents and I moved away from the ranch, most holidays and summer weekends were spent there, swimming in the creek, picking berries, or racing barefoot through thick undergrowth with one of my 31 cousins. (It is a miracle that none of us were ever bitten by a rattlesnake.) One sweltering summer day, my minister uncle baptized my brother, two of my sisters, and me in the muddy creek. Every Fourth of July, we had enormous fireworks displays, which were set off, for the sake of fire safety, in one of the heavily irrigated pastures. (I can neither confirm nor deny that said fireworks were indeed illegal in Oregon. They may or may not have been smuggled in from another state.) There was one memorable summer when my parents’ house didn’t have electricity. In order to make sure that I had warm baths at night, my mom would leave a hose in the sun all day to heat up. Around sunset, she would fill a large metal washtub with the solar-heated hose water, and I would bathe in the backyard, watching the deer graze on the other side of the fence.

For many years, my parents couldn’t afford cable, so instead of watching television, I read. And read. And read. I read [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: Make Up Your Own Holiday

Mandi's Reads: Make Up Your Own Holiday

I recently took a solo train journey from Portland to Spokane. Seven hours alone on a train, and I quite enjoyed myself. Sure, the bathroom smelled as if, to quote my friend Jeff, “someone vomited urine.” OK, OK, the man across the aisle from me got progressively more intoxicated as he drank can after can of Miller Lite. And yes, that drunk man kept offering me his nuts (well, it turned out they were Blue Diamond almonds from a can, but still his phrasing was…disconcerting). Despite all this, I had a wonderful time. You see, I decided ahead of time that it would be awesome, and awesome it was. Traveling alone always makes me feel adventurous and epic, as if I will look back on each solo journey as a defining moment in my life. Plus, I was wearing a leather jacket, which made me feel like Johnny Cash.

Never underestimate the importance of attitude and imagination on your life. With enough daydreaming and lack of attention to your mundane surroundings, you can transform any regular day into an extraordinary one. When I read that March 26 is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day, I knew that it was an obscure holiday I could get behind. So, I have a couple of made up holiday party ideas for you, as well as two books to serve as inspiration.

No Sh!t, Sherlock

I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and I can think of [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: National Potato Chip Day

Mandi's Reads: National Potato Chip Day

I have to tell you a horrifying story. Last week, I was walking down the sidewalk when I felt a drop of rain hit my right cheek just below my eye. Oddly enough, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so I was confused as to the source of the rain. However, my confusion quickly disappeared when I saw a gentleman urinating upwind of me (insert obvious Kim Kardashian joke here). I experienced all of the clichťs someone getting splashed in the face with strange urine would experience: The ground fell away, the sky closed in, and I heard someone screaming only to realize it was me.

I can’t convey to you the shaking terror I felt at that moment. (I am hypochondriacal to the point where my gynecologist once called me crazy and made me download a stress control app on my phone.) There was only one way to dissolve my dread, the same solution I use whenever I feel like collapsing entirely: I took to my bed, cracked open a bag of chips, and delved into a comfort book. Ahhh, comfort books. How I love comfort books. They serve a very specific purpose. I don’t turn to them when I want to think or be enlightened. I turn to them when I need to escape or be entertained.

Everyone has her or his own version of what constitutes a comfort book. Mine tend to be sweeping epics, books where I can get lost in the decades-spanning exploits, foibles, intrigues, and romances of those [...]
continue reading >>

Confessions of a Romantic Agnostic

Confessions of a Romantic Agnostic

I recently posted the following comment on a friend’s Facebook page: “I once made a first date take me to Carl’s Jr. My reasons were twofold: 1) I wanted to convey that I wasn’t remotely interested in him and 2) I really wanted a Western Bacon BBQ Burger.”

I’m sharing this because I want you to know what a cynical spinster I am. (Although, not totally cynical because I did get that Western Bacon BBQ Burger for free. While gnawing on the burger, I also told my date, “Don’t think this means I’m going to put out. Because I’m not.”) However, cynicism wasn’t always my romantic modus operandi. Oh, no, no, no. As a young girl, I was incredibly romantic. I collected love letter anthologies, nifty little things with facsimiles of love letters written by the famous and should-be-famous. I daydreamed, I fantasized, I pined, and then I actually started going on dates. Here’s a brief overview of the best interactions:

I once showed up to a date with a guy, only to see three other ladies at the table. That’s right: it was a Bachelor-style group date.

After a 30 Rock marathon, I channeled Liz Lemon and told the object of my affection to “suck it, monkey!”

I don’t buy into the belief that on a guy/girl date, the guy automatically has to pay. Nevertheless, I do believe there should be a discussion about paying, especially after the experience I had when, after the waitress brought dinner, my date gave me a fake panicked [...]
continue reading >>

Mandi’s Reads: Global Belly Laugh Day is January 24th

Mandi's Reads: Global Belly Laugh Day is January 24th

I was standing in line waiting for the bathroom. While I didn’t know the woman ahead of me in line very well, I did know one thing about her: she never smiled. Not grin nor smirk nor upside-down-frown ever marred her face. So, there we were, just me and Expressionless McBlankFace, when all of a sudden, she farted! A tiny little squeak of a fart, but a fart nonetheless. I heard it, and she knew I heard it. Her reaction? She faced me with a serious expression, coughed, and said, “Excuse me.” That’s right. She said, “Excuse me,” as if she had merely burped. A fart is not a burp! I’ll say that again: A FART IS NOT A BURP! The only way to react to a public fart, either yours or someone else’s, is laughter. You can’t be dignified about a fart; a sense of humor is required.

Laughter is the only way to get through life. I don’t care what kind of humor tickles one’s fancy: gallows, potty, slapstick, cultural reference, or self-deprecating. A sense of humor is a vital thing to have. Life is tough. Life is rough. Sometimes life just plain sucks. Yet, somehow, finding a way to laugh at life (and most importantly, at yourself) makes all the bits of BS that come your way a little more bearable. Because I believe in belly laughs. I believe in having a sense of humor. And above all, I believe that nothing is funnier than farts. Here are some books to tickle [...]
continue reading >>