Thursday, December 5, 2013

Everything's...Gonna Be Alright?

This image, by Christopher Clark, has been my desktop wallpaper for about a year and a half now. I saw it exhibited as part of Cooper-Hewitt's "Graphic Design: Now in Production" show in May 2012. I was at the time gearing up for another major life change; I had decided, despite having a good job and being in a stable (at the time I would have probably said "good-ish") relationship, to uproot myself from Boston and move back to midwest after over a dozen years on the East Coast.

I felt stuck. I felt like I was going through the motions. While I loved my friends in Boston and was successfully supporting myself, something was not clicking. So I moved to Chicago. And as I wrote about nearly a year ago, I got very very depressed. I was lethargic, I felt utterly purposeless. On days when I didn't have to be anywhere, I stayed in pajamas and ordered pizza (and not even good pizza! I'm talking Dominos, which, when you live in Chicago, is a travesty to consume). 

So Clark's typographic art - the clash of the beauty of the image and its sad, sober message - really resonated with me. I looked at it a lot, when I was trying to convince myself to write poetry, or blog, or even just write a damn Yelp review, anything to get my brain functioning, to reconnect to my writing self.

Tonight, for the first time since May 2012, I am thinking about changing my desktop wallpaper. Because something kind of incredible and unexpected has happened and the message no longer strikes a chord.

On July 15 of this year, I got a phone call that changed everything - an offer to teach at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. I was a little terrified; until Eau Claire, I had only lived in major metropolitan areas. You know, places with amazing restaurants and good public transit and culture around every corner. I read Eau Claire's Wikipedia page and was not sure how I would fare in the Horseradish Capital of the World, population 65,000. Now, I know 65K is not tiny -- but compared to Chicago, it feels pretty podunk. When I visited the campus, there was a deer hanging out in the student parking lot. 

But it was a good job offer and I didn't have much going on in Chicago -- part-time teaching gigs supplemented by hostessing at a trendy late-night dining spot downtown. I loved living in Chicago but nothing was tethering me there, so once again, I decided to just move. My contract was only for a year, so I figured if I hated Wisconsin, I could always move back to Chicago after the school year.

I have now been here for 4 months. I have no plans to leave anytime soon. It actually feels like home to me, the girl who couldn't wait to live in NYC after graduating from college. The people I have met here feel like lifelong friends. I love my job and my colleagues. I love my little weird one-bedroom apartment. I love my "new" car (new to me - it's a 2004 Honda Civic. Her name is Loretta.). I am writing again. I'm singing in the shower again. Something inside tells me I could really be happy here, for a while. Forever? I'm not sure. I do miss some city stuff (mostly ethnic food and liquor stores that are open past 9pm and not having to drive everywhere) and I have yet to experience true "Wisconsin cold," but if I can stay here and keep teaching next year, I absolutely will. 

Oh, and another really unexpected thing: I'm in love! With a wonderful man who makes me so, so happy. I have been in a lot of different kinds of relationships over the years that offered some of the things I was looking for, but always with some compromises. I had pretty much given up on certain things and was starting to believe that if I wanted to get married and have a family, I would just have to settle for close enough, assuming I could find someone who would have me. But this is different. It's still a new relationship, so who knows - the last time I wrote on this blog about being happy and in love, the shit hit the fan almost immediately (and the guy in question turned out to be a total sociopath). So we'll see. Fingers crossed.

Yesterday, some psych students came by my office and asked if I would take a quick survey as part of a project they were doing, comparing beliefs/values of humanities vs. non-humanities faculty. The questions were about being satisfied with your life -- one statement that I had to rate on a scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree was "My life is very close to my ideal." Six months ago, I would have strongly disagreed with that statement. And now, after a momentary flash of "well, ideally I would be 10 lbs lighter, a millionaire, and have a book deal, and an apartment in Paris" I realized what I do have, which is pretty ideal: a job I love that is rewarding and pays me a living wage, a family that is healthy and speaking to one another, friends that care about me, an apartment I like to spend time in, enough money to get by, and a man who thinks I'm beautiful and smart and tells me so daily. If my ideal is to have a fulfilling, happy life filled with adventures and wonderful people, I'm getting pretty close.

I circled "somewhat agree". I mean, a book deal would still be nice.

Definitely have to find a new image for my desktop wallpaper. Being cynical about life no longer feels authentic. Don't worry, I don't think I'll ever look as happy as the people in this ad who are really ecstatic about the accredited nursing program that offers flexible night and online classes:

Come on, NO ONE is THAT happy (or has that group of wildly attractive, racially diverse friends).

Monday, November 4, 2013

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

First, a confession: I haven't been writing poetry lately. I haven't been in the right head space. Which is an excuse, I know, and not a very good one. I actually just felt ready to reread some of my thesis (a collection of 40 poems) and I'm surprised that I don't hate it all. There are poems in there I feel ready to revisit, perhaps revise. (Yeah, I know, they are supposedly "done" because they were part of my thesis, but a lot them aren't really done. And when is a poem done, anyway?)

So I read this poem today and I loved its negativity, its concession of futility. It's a downer of a poem, for sure...and yet, because it's good, it made me feel good. Counter to the message of the poem, the poem's very existence made me happy. I love reading good poems! I love that people are still writing good poems! Whenever I find a new poem I admire, I feel hopeful even if the poem's message is darkly Hobbesian, a.k.a. life is brutal and short and the world we live in is terrible. Natalie Shapero, the world is a little less terrible with this poem in it.

Not Horses

What I adore is not horses, with their modern
domestic life span of 25 years. What I adore
is a bug that lives only one day, especially if
it’s a terrible day, a day of train derailment or
chemical lake or cop admits to cover-up, a day
when no one thinks of anything else, least of all
that bug. I know how it feels, born as I’ve been
into these rotting times, as into sin. Everybody’s
busy, so distraught they forget to kill me,
and even that won’t keep me alive. I share
my home not with horses, but with a little dog
who sees poorly at dusk and menaces stumps,
makes her muscle known to every statue.
I wish she could have a single day of   language,
so that I might reassure her don’t be afraid —
our whole world is dead and so can do you no harm.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reasons Why I'm a Feminist This Week

Last week, I had the pleasure of getting to hear a personal hero of mine, Jessica Valenti, speak. She gave an inspiring and powerful talk that reaffirmed all the reasons that I call myself a feminist and am proud to do so. In my teaching work, I meet a lot of young, intelligent women who are hesitant about the label, usually because they imagine it means they have to stop shaving their legs and start attending man-hating rallies. Or just get a lot more pissed off about stuff. As Valenti noted, a quick Google image search confirms these stereotypes - the first subcategory that comes up is "angry."

Valenti began her talk addressing this issue of young women not wanting to call themselves or be called feminists. And then she explained why she was a feminist THIS week, as in, the recent events that fuel her to do the work she's doing (which is blogging about women's & gender issues for The Nation and generally being an awesome activist role model).

So I'm going to steal a page from Valenti's playbook and tell you why I'm a feminist this week.

1. The reports coming out of Emerson College (where I went to grad school) re: their failure to take sexual assault reports seriously. This is the case on far too many college campuses -- administrators prefer to handle the matter without actual police involvement, and as result, rapists get wrist-slaps and the female students brave enough to come forward and report their assault end up feeling traumatized all over again.

2. On a related note, this well-intentioned but highly problematic Slate article by "Dear Prudence" columnist Emily Yoffe, which implies that if college women get less drunk, they would get assaulted less frequently. So if you're drunk, you're kind of asking for it, maybe? A firestorm of debate has erupted over this piece (and some great satire, like this piece that reverses the genders and advises men to drink less so as to not end up raping women), and while obviously underage binge-drinking is a problem in its own right, suggesting causality (as opposed to correlation) is dangerous and dumb. If you need a refresher on causality vs. correlation, this graph does a good job: 

3. Speaking of rape culture, this video by an Indian sketch comedy group is the best thing I've watched on the internet in a while. It's funny and also incredibly disturbing.

4.  The fact that Plan B costs $50. I don't know why that's bugging me this week, but it is -- it's legal without a prescription, which is good, but it's not exactly in an accessible price range.

5. Finally, I came across this over the weekend when I was perusing a website listing 100 easy Halloween costume ideas.

                          53. Gift box or Christmas gift (suggested for a young girl)

Emphasis mine. I'm really dying to know why this is a great costume for little girls -- to further remind them that they are a prize waiting to be unwrapped? Sounds a lot like the subject of Valenti's 2009 book, The Purity Myth, which was also made into a documentary. Watch the trailer here:

Young women shouldn't grow up thinking that their self-worth and their sexual identities are intertwined. Your decision to have sex or not have sex does not impact your value as a human being. The whole mythos surrounding the hymen is out of control - as this excellent "How Stuff Works" podcast explains, it isn't, as most people think, a membrane that can be punctured, but rather a ring of tissue that gets stretched from a variety of activities (and never, even when "'intact," completely covers the vaginal opening). SCIENCE!  

So that's what's making me a feminist this week.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bright College Years

Two weeks ago, I celebrated the 10th anniversary of graduating from college by attending my reunion in good ol' still-crime-stricken New Haven. It was, in a word, surreal.

Compared to the 5th year reunion, this weekend was way more chill. There were some similarities -- mediocre food, weird/amazing dance parties (see above photo), pretty low-shelf booze considering how much we all spent on tuition (not to mention spent to attend the damn reunion -- $225!). You see some friends you've stayed in touch with, a few that you haven't and are genuinely delighted to reconnect with even though because of Facebook you know about their new job/spouse/baby/book/sexual orientation. And then there are tons of randos -- folks you literally haven't thought about for ten years and those you never met at college. In other words, complete fucking strangers. But that's okay, that's what the open bar is for.

But after only five years out, reunion felt more cutthroat; many of my peers were in law school or med school, or in the throes of applying to one or the other. We all looked relatively the same. Few had married and there was maybe one baby. We were all basically the same amount of mature at 27 that we were at 22. And instead of just being pleasantly filled with nostalgia, I remember actively longing to still be in college instead of working and paying bills and dealing with shitty Craigslist roommates.

Not so this time around -- now we're in our thirties. Lots of my classmates have "settled down," so to speak. A few are even on their second marriages. Instead of bragging about careers, we have funny stories of failure to share that we all can relate to. Because despite our expensive degrees, we fucked up as much as any other 20-somethings and now we can admit it and have a good laugh.

I appreciated the more mellow vibe. And instead of apologizing/justifying my career choice, like I felt I had to do at the last reunion (one person literally said, "wow, that's so brave!" when I said I was getting my MFA in poetry), I fully owned up to the fact that I am a poet. And instead of snickering, people seemed supportive and curious. Despite not having a ring on my finger or a pregnant belly (babies were THE must-have accessory of this reunion), I felt okay about my life.    

Of course, no Yale reunion would be complete without a ton of a cappella singing. Whiffenpoofs ranging from age 27 to 90 performed, and my senior women's group sang a few songs as well, despite the alumni association's utter inability to provide us with any concert logistics. 

And speaking of singing, I'm proud to say that I was able to refrain from drunkenly wailing Adele's "Someone Like You" to my college sweetheart, who was there with his wife. 

 College boyfriend on the left; the guy on the right is my current roommate. Picture taken Sept. '99. I still have those pajama pants.

I also finally learned the words to our school song, "Bright College Years," and have to admit, they resonate a lot more now.

Bright college years with pleasure rife
The shortest, gladdest years of life
How swiftly are ye gliding by

Oh, why doth time so quickly fly?
The seasons come, the seasons go
The earth is green or white with snow
But time and change cannot avail

To break the friendships formed at Yale.

In after years when troubles rise
To cloud the blue of sunny skies
How bright will seem through memory's haze
Those happy, golden bygone days.
Oh let us strive that ever we  
May let these words our watch-cry be,
Where'er upon life's sea we sail:
For God, for country, and for Yale!

When you are a Yale student and everything is coming up roses/the future seems blindingly bright/you feel invincible, it's hard to believe troubles will ever cloud your skies. But it's true that when that happens, there are friends from your bright college years that will stand by you and remind you that things could always be worse. For instance, you could have gone to Harvard.

At Yale, we sometimes drink alcohol out of giant trophy cups.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Top Ten Ways to Blow a Skype Interview

1) Watch porn simultaneously on your browser with the sound on

2) "It's a good thing you guys can't smell my breath!"

3) Casually sip a glass of wine during the interview

4) Introduce the interviewers to your adorable cat


5) Do the interview from the bathroom at Starbucks ("The wifi signal is really great in here.")

6) Live tweet the interview with hashtags #thisinterviewblows #skypemydick

7)Make a joke about the camera adding ten pounds

8) Talk about how Chat Roulette helped you prepare

9) Fall asleep

10) Google-stalk your interviewers during the interview and creep them out by asking personal questions

**Note: This post was inspired by my first actual Skype interview this morning, during which I did none of the above. I did, however, greatly enjoy not wearing shoes, but kept that information to myself.

Ok, maybe I also didn't brush my teeth. Don't tell.

Friday, May 17, 2013

That Silent, but Troublesome G

I *think* I have blogged before about how I deal with people who feel compelled to comment on the, er, unusualness of my last name. (It's not that I'm too lazy to check, I'm just blogging from my ipad and can't figure out how to search through my old posts. TECHNOLOGY.) The name for this blog encapsulates my philosophy of embracing the obvious word my name resembles, instead of trying to deny it. I've gotten pretty steely about it, but still, when I have to spell my name for anyone, in person or on the phone, I feel a nervous twinge that the person will either a) laugh or b) think I'm crudely pranking them and get mad. But overall, I have been impressed with customer service folks -- they must see a lot of crazy-ass names and be trained to not react.

In the category of Words Your Last Name Can Look Like, mine is pretty bad. On the plus side, it is memorable. And it's become enmeshed with my identity -- when people think of me, they think of my whole name (or so I've been told). Katie Vagnino. Even my closest friends and ex-boyfriends have admitted to this phenomenon of being unable to just think of me as "Katie."

I used to think about changing my name -- really, just getting rid of the "g". Back when I was fantasizing about being an Academy Award-winning actress, on the cover of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People issue, I saw my name appearing as KATIE VANINO. My father, when he ventured briefly into the world of winemaking, got rid of the "g". I guess he worried no one would want to drink vagina wine.

I really can't imagine getting rid of the "g" now -- it's grown on me. However, there are moments when it's a little annoying. Like when I applied for a Wikipedia account and requested the username KatieVagnino and got an e-mail telling me that my username did not comply with their username policies. Here's the entire e-mail thread, for your amusement:

On Sun, May 12, 2013 at 9:19 PM, <> wrote:
Many thanks for your interest in joining Wikipedia. Unfortunately the username that you have requested does not comply with our username policy, and so I am unable to create this account for you.

Please take a look at our username policy ( and choose a different username. You may be able to create the account with the new name you have chosen yourself at If so, I wish you all the best and hope you enjoy your time on Wikipedia.

If you are still unable to create the name yourself, we will gladly process your new request here, and I look forward to hearing from you again with your new choice of username.

From: [mailto:accounts-enwiki-l-bounces@lists.wikimedia.orgOn Behalf Of Katie Vagnino
Sent: Monday, 13 May 2013 1:46 PM
Subject: Re: [Accounts-enwiki-l] [ACC #99734] English Wikipedia Account Request

Is my last name, Vagnino, considered inappropriate?  I'm very confused. I just requested my name as my username: KatieVagnino. Katie Vagnino is my name.
I guess new username choice would be KatieV2013. But Vagnino is my last name, not an offensive word, and frankly, I find it a little offensive that you think my name is an inappropriate username!
Please respond,

From: "User:Callanecc" <>
Date: May 13, 2013, 7:53:50 AM CDT
To: "'Katie Vagnino'" <>, "'Internal discussion between the English Wikipedia's account creation team'" <>
Subject: RE: [Accounts-enwiki-l] [ACC #99734] English Wikipedia Account Request
Hi Katie,

My apologies, your explanation has changed my opinion of your request.

I apologies most sincerely for any offense caused, it certainly wasn’t intentional.

I have created your account with your originally requested username “KatieVagnino”, and again you have my sincere apologies.

Kind regards,

English Wikipedia Account Creation Team

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

In one of my first grad school poetry courses, I came across a Muriel Rukeyser poem that struck me as rather perfect -- simple, elegant, and effortless-seeming -- the kind of poem you instantly understand and enjoy reading the 1st time and the 1,000th time. I've continued to read her and the more I read, the more it seems downright criminal that she's not more well-known. At the AWP conference last week, I picked up a nonfiction book by her called The Life of Poetry. It was published in 1949, was out of print for a while, and then reissued by the Paris Press in the mid-90s. I started reading it on the plane home and it's mind-blowing. Everything she says about poetry is so relevant, so topical for today even though it was written over 60 years ago. She makes a case for why poetry is a cultural necessity, something all human beings need, and might in fact be the very thing that saves us from ourselves. 

So I'll share two of her poems with you here-- the one I discovered back in grad school, "Yes," and one I read for the first time last week, "Coney Island," which is awesome because I LOVE Coney Island (I've written a poem about it as well, though it's not as good as this one).


It’s like a tap-dance
Or a new pink dress,
A shit-naive feeling
Saying Yes

Some say Good morning
Say say God bless–
Some say Possibly
Some say Yes.

Some say Never
Some say Unless
It’s stupid and lovely
To rush into Yes.

What can it mean?
It’s just like life,
One thing to you
One to your wife.

Some go local
Some go express
Some can’t wait
To answer Yes.

Some complain
Of strain and stress
Their answer may be
No for Yes.

Some like failure
Some like success
Some like Yes Yes
Yes Yes Yes.

Open your eyes,
Dream but don’t guess.
Your biggest surprise
Comes after Yes.

Coney Island

Coney Island, Coney island,
No need to let me know,
No need to tell me so
I need you now to show me…

Show me what’s under the counter,
Show me what’s under your skin,
Show me the way to get out
And I’ll show you the way to get in.

Show me life, show me lives, people in dives,
Show me yells, show me smells, and grimy hotels,
Clams, yams, lobster and shrimps,
Sand, candy, panders and pimps,
Show me bim, show me bam, bamboozle me,
Booze me and use me and foozle me,
Show me rides, show me slides, people in tides,
Show me money, show me funny, show me the sea,
                                                             You, show, me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How the Other Half Flies

Let me start by stating something obvious: Flying sucks less when you're in First Class.

Is the captain pouring coffee?

I never fly First Class so I had forgotten that it was any different. I am pretty ambivalent about flying in general -- don't hate it, not scared of it, but certainly don't love it. Sometimes flights can be excellent for being productive/getting work done or catching up on reading. But sometimes you end up next to a crying baby or a chatty weirdo who wants to play 20 Questions.

When I was kid, I flew First Class a handful of times with my parents on long flights. The first plane ride I recall was when I was 6 and traveling to Switzerland. I sat next to my mom in the roomy leather TWA (R.I.P.) seats. I don't remember much about the flight, but I do remember receiving a chocolate-covered Oreo before take-off (presumably a bribe to keep me on my best behavior during the 7-hour flight) and thinking that the tray tables that came out of the arm rest were funny-looking.

Ever since I've been buying my own airfare, I have always opted for the cheapest seats available. I don't have long legs, so I don't even splurge for the EconomyPlus extra legroom seats. Just good ol' coach. With the rest of the non-rich plebes. I have to admit, I didn't get the allure of First Class -- we all arrive at the same destination at the same time. Okay, the First Class people get to get off first (and get on first, but I don't see the advantage of that. I want to minimize my time breathing recycled air in a confined space). And I suppose the ratio of lavatories to people is better, since they have their own bathroom that's off-limits to the masses.  

However, due to the generosity of a friend, I was able to experience First Class as an adult. And while I still don't think the extra expense is worth it/necessary, I have to admit, it made flying enjoyable as opposed to just a way to get from A to B. 

First of all, the getting-on-early has the perk of a free pre-flight drink. That's pretty nifty. Though if you get something alcoholic, you have to down it pretty quickly, which may lead to regret. Also, in First Class, the flight attendants make a point of knowing your name. It's like Cheers, at 35,000 feet. Pretty much everything in First Class is free. Oh, and blankets and pillows are still available, like in the old days. 

Speaking of the old days, apparently First Class used to be much more glamorous. A friend recalls on a flight to Hawaii watching a stewardess (they weren't called Flight Attendants back then) carve a prime rib roast right in the aisle mid-flight. That was sometime in the late 80s. Hot food is pretty much non-existent on most flights nowadays. And if there is food, it's not gratis.

My conclusion is that I think my money is better spent on things other than first class airfare. Traveling is already mighty expensive (remember when it was free to check a bag?) and for a little more comfort for a few hours, it doesn't seem justified unless you have truly disposable income. Still, it was a fun glimpse of the other side of the blue curtain. Which, for what it's worth, I agree with Kristin Wiig that it should be kept open "because of Civil Rights."    

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Single or not, gay or straight, young or old, I think we can all agree that this is a quality love song:

If you have a special someone, I hope that he/she is more attractive than Lisa/Johnny and that you have lots of rose-petal-covered sex tonight.
And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to rent or buy Tommy Wiseau's 2003 classic film The Room as soon as possible. If you purchase it from the official movie website, he'll sign it for you! Trust me that this movie is the gift that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jalapeno Hands

This person is in for a world of pain

Last Sunday, I experienced pretty severe pain due to my exposure to capsaicin, the compound in jalapeno peppers that makes them hot (and has been weaponized into pepper spray). Apparently, it was not wise of me to de-seed and slice two dozen giant Whole Foods jalapenos without wearing gloves. Thus I bring you the latest chapter in my unusual medical misfortunes (which have included a kidney stone, an allergic reaction to jellyfish and a bellybutton cyst).

My Super Bowl party was a classic Katie Vagnino hapless debacle even before the kick-off. As usual, what started out a small, low-key event escalated out of my control. The guest list went from less than six to ten people, and the menu expanded from just chili and chips, to chili, 9-layer dip, cornbread, guacamole, and bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. I really needed a sous chef. Especially when around 3pm, it dawned on me that when I had looked up the kickoff time online (6:30), that was in EST. I keep forgetting that I no longer live on the East Coast, you guys. So at 3pm, I had TWO hours before my guests would start arriving, not three. FML.

I lowered my head and got chopping and initially, I was making good time. I got the chili on first, then made the guac (one of the 9 layers in the dip). Around 4:30, I started prepping the poppers, figuring, we could eat them at half-time (they only need about 15 min in the oven). I cut up about 6 of them and then remembered that I hadn't yet put on any make-up. I know it's the Super Bowl and whatever, but I did not want to receive guests (some of whom I had never met) without my face on. So I washed my hands thoroughly (or so I thought) and went to the bathroom. Oh, VANITY.

You can probably guess what happened next -- I accidentally touched my eye and all hell broke loose. My face turned splotchy and red, my right eye clenched shut, and yes, I started screeching. My BF Chris was there and immediately got online to find the cure: milk. I needed to put milk IN MY EYE. Somehow, we managed it as a team effort -- I dribbled enough in that the pain started to abate. Then predictably, the doorbell rang. Party time!

I opened the door with a giant milk stain on my shirt and my right eye still swollen shut. Fortunately, my guests were gracious enough to not run away in terror. 

You would think the absurdity ends there, but it doesn't. I abandoned the poppers for a while, but the unfinished task bothered me. Those jalapenos had gotten the best of me. I had promised in the Facebook event invitation that there would be jalapeno poppers. SO GODDAMMIT, I was going to finish. I just wouldn't touch my face.

So I made them. And they were delicious, stuffed with a cream cheese and spicy mustard blend, and wrapped in bacon. They were gone in minutes. Everyone enjoyed the food, drank beer, watched the game. After a rocky start, the party ended up being okay, more than okay. 

Then about an hour after everyone left, my fingers started tingling and not in a good way. Tingling transitioned swiftly into burning and a Google search of "finger burns from peppers" confirmed that I had "jalapeno hands." 

There were dozens of sites where people told stories similar to mine -- chopped or handled jalapenos and had burning hands as a result. But the problem was the everyone had different suggestions as to how to best relieve the pain. Based on internet suggestions, I tried soaking my hands in:

--cold milk
--vegetable oil
--hot water with dishwasher soap
--lemon juice
--nail polish remover

Cold milk worked best, but only temporarily -- I soaked my hands for literally two hours but the second I took them out, the burning came back. Around 1am, I needed to try to find a solution in order to sleep. I couldn't bring a bowl of cold milk into bed with me (though I'm sure my cat would have been psyched). One woman on a website insisted that urine (because of the acid) would do the trick. I considered peeing on my hands. It was a dark hour.

But I didn't. And then another "natural" remedy caught my eye: saliva. As one commenter astutely noted, your mouth doesn't burn for hours when you eat jalapenos, so it must be doing something right.

I climbed into bed warily. And started sucking on my fingers. And holy Jesus, IT WORKED. The miracle of science!  My mouth did burn a little, but it was nothing compared to the pain on my fingers. Saliva is strong shit, man! After about thirty minutes of licking and sucking on my hands (yes, I know, gross), the pain subsided enough for me to pass out. And when I woke the next morning, it was totally gone.

Jalapeno hands. I don't recommend them.