The Help Desk: See you later, alligator

Dear readers,

If anyone should be thriving right now – besides the politicians making bank off of insider trading or the big businesses making bank off of small business loans – it should be me, the woman who spent a decade prepping for the end of the world, whose "life savings" are practical treasures most banks won't touch: the gold fillings of my forefathers, a bathtub full of dried beans and a cellar's worth of bottled urine.

Yet this pandemic has revealed hidden truths for all of us, has it not? I personally have been wallowing in an underground trough of truths:

  • There is no smoothie or cocktail strong enough to disguise the flavor of recycled urine.
  • Like my mother before me, I've discovered I am not cut out to be a mother.
  • My advice is no longer useful, given our current climate. This situation calls for something stronger (not urine).

Based on these truths, I've had to make some hard decisions this past month. For one, I've stopped hoarding urine and gave up on my dreams of launching my own brand of mouthwash. I also tried to return Beatrix to the purse farm I bought her from as a pup (or whatever), but they refused to take her. She's at a very difficult age – too big to be purses, too small to be boots – so it seems I'll remain a mother at least through Christmas.

I have made the difficult decision to stop writing this column after five years. Based on how often my spiders and daughter currently follow my advice, I have to acknowledge that people don't want to be lectured at right now. Which is why I'm pivoting to launch a new screamcore podcast with my human friend named Joe, who is real. It will feature human guests. The format will be thus:

"Our first guest is (insert name). Ok, take it away." And then they will just scream for as long as they want.

I know I was a little off with the urine thing but I really think this is what America needs from me right now.

For all of the readers who have read this column over the years, thank you for meticulously following my advice. To those who have written in and whose questions I have not yet answered, take heart: I answer them all below.

Dear Eric from Fauntleroy: Under non-pandemic circumstances, more than three per week separates dedicated book lovers from hermits; you're only misanthropic if at least one of those books is Journey to the End of Night or In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!

Dear Liam from Eastgate: I don't know about ever, but the gayest book I recently read was The Argonauts. It was good for me in that reminded me that there are bigger hurdles in life than attempting to get a small business loan (in this climate, no less!) for an artisanal urine mouthwash company.

Dear Rose in Ballard: I, too, often assume characters are white unless otherwise stated. If the Barnes and Noble campaign had been executed better, I think re-envisioning famous literary characters as people of color could be powerful. But the main criticism was that almost all of the books they were highlighting during Black History Month were written by white authors and that's just a big fat wet fart of a fail on their part.

Dear Estella from Admiral: Get your author photo refreshed every seven years, preferably in black and white.

Dear Devon from Renton: Nowadays I arrange my books like I would children, had I bought more of them from that alligator farm: favorite to least favorite. This allows me to obsessively rearrange them whenever my moods shift, which is often. In fact, I used to group them by moods. Just don't arrange your books alphabetically or the spiders in your new home will mock you.

Dear Pat from Sand Point: I would like to try Bilbo Baggins' seed cakes from The Hobbit. There used to be a bakery on Capitol Hill that made lemon semolina cakes and they were the best thing I've ever tasted – very tart and soft but kind of crunchy. I used to imagine they were like Baggins' seed cakes.

Dear Overworked SPL Librarian: As we are painfully witnessing right now, the hardest jobs, the most taxing jobs, the least financially rewarding jobs – these are often the most essential jobs. I personally consider librarians to be essential workers. I understand if you're suffering from burnout and if that's the case, I wouldn't want to convince you to stay in a job you are growing to resent. But on behalf of the millions of people who love libraries and value the work that you do, thanks for being an absolutely vital part of your community, for however long you choose to do it (and when you do switch careers, just be sure you can continue to be proud of yourself and the work you're doing).

Dear Ron from Frelard: You are correct: Cats the movie sucked, Cats the musical sucked, and the book they were both inspired by – authored by T.S. Eliot – also sucked. But I am not a cat person.

Dear Grace from Wedgewood: Where did all the blogs go? The blogs all died because, like newspapers, there is no funding. It takes a lot of emotional and creative energy to maintain a (great) blog. Without money to pay contributors, all great blogs are labors of love with limited shelf lives.

Finally, I would like to thank the creators of the Seattle Review of Books, Paul Constant and Martin McClellan, for being wise enough to recruit me for my good advice. As human beings go, they are both pretty tops.

And dear readers, always remember:

Find a spider,
set it free,
if it bites you,
think of me.

Final kisses,