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A Sequence of Events Proving I Might Be a Responsible Adult and Why That Sucks

Yesterday, I saw a post on a poodle group on Facebook, showing a Blue Willow style porcelain plate, but in which the intricate Asian themed scene depicted contained zombie poodles.

Let me repeat. Zombie. Poodles.

To detail the many ways in which this is my perfect collectible, we’ll examine each component.

Zombies. Have I or have I not written two zombie novels? And yes, the third is in the hopper, but has to wait its turn. It’ll come out, I swear, as soon as I write the next rock star romance.

Am I not a devoted super-fan of The Walking Dead—and even Fear the Walking Dead? Did I not go to the huge Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta and spend an insane amount of time and money surrounding myself with all things zombie?

The answer to both of those questions is yes.


Additional evidence:

Poodles. Until February, I did not realize how much I needed a poodle. Specifically, a black standard poodle who is probably smarter than I am, and 1000% more charming. I’ve spent twenty-five years collecting golden retriever stuff. I need poodle stuff. Otherwise Oliver might think Mama doesn’t love him as much as his golden-brother Mozzie. And a displeased standard poodle can make a great many things happen, and every one will look like an accident.

Nostalgia. Everybody’s grandma had Blue Willow china, right? Or probably, since the real stuff is frighteningly expensive, a middle-class knock off. Not buying this would be a dishonor to every china-loving grandma who ever had a plate rail in her kitchen. Well, my dad’s mother had a plate rail which mostly contained plates depicting John F. Kennedy, the Pope, Jesus, and the Liberty Bell, but my other grandmother did have Blue Willow china. Or a reasonable facsimile, just not on a plate rail.

Cobalt blue. I love it. A lot. I wanted a kitchen with white cabinets and all cobalt blue accents, but ended up with a mostly brown kitchen, though all the accents I add are cobalt blue. I’m sure I can incorporate Blue Willow style zombie poodles in there. They will go nicely with all my empty liquor skulls.

Twisted humor. What is more awesome than a beautiful, artistic item that subtly includes something totally incongruous and unexpected? I have a t-shirt with a sugar skull on it, and the sugar skull is made of a collage of poodle heads. I love it. It’s kind of the opposite of the poodle plate because in the shirt, the skull is the obvious twisty thing, and it’s made of adorable poodle heads. Yeah, I don’t know why either. It’s just awesome.

So off I go to the Calamityware website, ready to click some artistic calamities into my life, and see the zombie poodle plate is $42. Not too terrible.

But wait.

There are twelve different calamities, all beautifully and hilariously depicted on plates. I’m not even kidding. There are also plates with—brace yourself, because this is so epically spectacular that you should probably be sitting down—flying monkeys, a vortex, a tentacle-monster, a UFO invasion, pirates, a sea monster, an erupting volcano, a pterodactyl, plague of frogs, a giant robot, and Sasquatch.

I want them. All of them. Grab phone, open calculator app. $42 x 12. Hmm. $504. That’s a lot. Shit.

Then I notice there are three sets of four different combinations of designs. Designs 1-4 in set 1, designs 5-8 in set 2, designs 9-12 in set 3. At $150 per set, that’s an $18 savings on buying four individual plates.

First thought: A bargain!

Second thought: That’s what they want you to think.

I sit and decide if I can somehow justify such a purchase. Despite my single-minded focus, I remain uncertain.

I look at the contents of each set. The zombie poodles plate is in set 3. But, if I had to choose the four designs I really want, they’re scattered over the three different sets. Rackenfrazzle.

My solution is to email the company. I inquire whether I can choose four designs and still get the “set” price. Wait for reply.

While waiting, I put the zombie poodles plate in the virtual shopping cart and start deciding which others I would want. Zombie poodles, tentacles, volcano, and flying monkeys, probably. Though the pirates one is cool. Also, I like frogs. Maybe the frog one? I spend a truly stupid amount of time shuffling designs in and out of the cart.

Then I notice they have mugs. A set of four identical mugs, titled “Things Could Be Worse.” These Blue Willow style mugs have all the calamities on each and every mug! The set is $48. More than a plate. But maybe if I got that and only one or two plates, that would satisfy my Calamity Craving.

I add mugs to my cart and remove some plates. Next, I study the current collection and try to decide if it would work. Unsure.

A thought starts to break through my calamity-lust, and though I resist as long as I can, I eventually realize I’m about to spend $150 on something I don’t need at all, even if I do really, really want it. I have a talk with myself about how I obsess over things, and should probably chill the hell out. Myself tells me I’m being a buzz-kill and I should shut up and click, and deal with the consequences later.

Myself and I are giving me a headache.

In a moment of heroic and possibly unprecedented self-restraint, I close the browser window.

Notice I did not, however, empty the cart first. Baby steps.

Which brings us to this morning when I log into my email as usual…

And there’s a reply from Calamityware. They would be happy to give me a special discount code, because I’m a new customer and maybe they sense I’m a little obsessive and have a twitchy “proceed to checkout” finger. It’s worth $18, so if I pick four plates, I’ll get them for the four-plate set price instead of the four individual plate price.


I remind myself I don’t need these things. Really. Myself snorts in derision.

But these items are created in an award-winning porcelain studio in Poland, using the in-glaze decoration process, which means the design is slightly melted into the surface, just like the fine porcelain you see in museums. If you go to museums to look at porcelain, which I don’t, but if I did, I could do so, smugly aware that my own zombie poodle plate, and all its little plate and mug siblings, were made with the same museum-worthy technique. How could I not want that?

Back to the handy-dandy calculator app. I figure the amount for three plates and the set of mugs. Add in the discount, then stare at the number and decide if I can live with it. I have that much; that’s not the issue. But can I justify the price for something that serves no purpose other than being made of fabulousness? What if I swap out the mugs and add a fourth plate? That saves a few bucks, but isn’t really relevant in the overall scheme of things. Plus, the mugs have all the calamities. Might prevent me from later buying all the plates. Because where would I even hang them? I’ll sort that out later.

Then I remember shipping, which turns out to be slightly over $21. There went the discount. And the number is back in butt-pucker territory.


But won’t the Calamityware people be sad, or even offended, if I don’t use the coupon code they so graciously sent me? It might be rude not to use it…

Then I think about all the stuff I have, and my already weighty concern that it’s all going to end up in a landfill or a junk shop when I die. I have one grown son and his wife, and they’re not having kids, and they don’t want to be saddled with all my crap. So, what? I look at this stuff for a few years, then someone pays $1.50 for my poodle plate in some antique and collectibles mall. Stupid.

Then I remember—and this is where the whole situation starts to suck pretty hard—I’m still paying the hospital bill from my lovely visit to the emergency room last Thanksgiving.

And I’m wearing glasses I think are about six years old, but which are probably at least eight years old because I’m old now and have a hard time getting a handle on how long ago things were.

And I think about the conversation I had with Tom just last night about how my bad tooth is probably reaching critical failure any day now, and I should really figure out how dental insurance works and get it taken care of. But I also know once they get in there, they’ll probably discover the only thing holding half my teeth in my head is all the calcified plaque, and I’m looking at many dental visits and more money than I care to contemplate.

Then I think about Mozzie and Oliver, and keeping them groomed and well-supplied with an abundance of healthy food and treats, which ain’t cheap, and I couldn’t bear their Elizabethan orphan expressions if I served them substandard meals.

Finally, I remember tax season, and how being self-employed means April is my least favorite month, and that any extra money really needs to go in the savings account so I don’t have to start selling organs to pay my taxes, which is for the best, because nobody would really want my organs anyway since they’re almost totally made of toxins and regret.

Here I am, being an adult. And not the zero-impulse-control, immediate gratification adult I usually am. I closed the tab again. I still did not empty the shopping cart. I’m pretty sure I’ll still buy the zombie poodles plate—because how could I not?—and maybe the mugs depicting all the calamities. But I haven’t…yet.

This is about 3000% more thought than I usually put into my online purchases, which generally involve quirky or whimsical t-shirts ordered after a few drinks and from sites that let me pay with PayPal or that auto-fill my credit card information.

Honestly, if I have $150 or so dollars (or more like $90 if I exercise a modicum of restraint), there are more acceptable ways to spend it. I’m sure I know plenty of people who could use it for something practical and necessary. Lots of rescue groups could use it to save a dog. I should put it in my freaking savings account so I don’t have to donate plasma in order to pay my taxes.

But I work hard, and sometimes I should buy something just because. Okay, I do that fairly regularly, but why should the zombie poodles suffer?

The battle going on in my head among generosity, altruism, practicality, and self-indulgence is exhausting.

Those who know me well are likely taking bets on how long until I cave, and how great the extent of the eventual cave-in. Come to think of it, I should probably find out who’s making book on this and get in on the action. Then, when I win, I can use the proceeds to buy my zombie poodles some adorable blue and white porcelain friends.

2 Responses to “A Sequence of Events Proving I Might Be a Responsible Adult and Why That Sucks”

  1. Don Moyer says:

    Love your story about Calamityware. The only part that sounded odd was when you referred to Calamityware as though it is some kind of global corporate juggernaut. In reality, Calamityware is and old, retired designer (me) who now has the time for self-inflicted projects.

    I draw every day to make myself laugh. Some of these drawings become Kickstarter projects. The store you found is just a place where people who missed the Kickstarter projects can catch up.

    I’m delighted that you found Calamityware and see the pleasure in products that are beautiful, useful, and funny.


    • Lori Whitwam says:

      To me, you have a company which is able to sell your art, that’s bigger than me. 🙂 I adore your art! I love the quirky, unexpected of the absurd and the beautiful joining in a way that make both amazing. Love. (LOVE!) As an author, I understand wanting to bring others to love our creations. And I first learned of the zombie poodles (and by the way, why Zombie POODLES, and not just zombies? Inquiring minds!) I was all in. I want all of it. ALL. But I’ll get what I can, and spread the word to others who are as similarly afflicted as I am. 🙂