Dear Universe (The Addendum): Oops. My Bad…

So there I was, sitting down to dinner with my family one glorious night a few weeks ago to a sublime serving of steamed salmon and broccoli (or maybe it was Kraft Mac-n-Cheese with chopped Lil’ Smokies…I forget), and I found myself breaking the cardinal rule of the Byerman family dinner table.

My iPhone, which was buried in my pocket, dinged. Yet I did not ignore it, as per usual (and per written mandate, posted and affixed to every surface in my dining room. This is a serious rule, people.).

Instead, I dug it out of my pocket, slid the happy little slide-y button, and freaked the fuck out.

Because this is what I saw:

Yeah, the yellow arrow wasn’t exactly there. (This is a dramatic re-enactment, after all…bear with me…) But it might as well have been — because in that moment, the emails above and below were irrelevant. All I saw was the email from “Diet Coke Community.” And it was practically glowing. And flashing. And in my mind, it was most definitely mocking me. Like, loudly

Suddenly, it was as though I had that evil cartoon devil on one shoulder, and the incredulous angel on the other. I, my friends, come from a long line of avoiders, and I’m constantly subject to that loud-and-clear voice from within that directs me down a path of peaceful avoidance, toward my ultimate destination at an idyllic little spot I call “Ignorance.” Because it’s bliss. Seriously.

Typically, The Avoider voice generates a complicated and convoluted internal dialog that succinctly yet thoroughly brings to light the pros and cons of a stated course of action with unmatched eloquence. And it goes something like this:

Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Run! Don’t look! Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Avert your eyes! It will go away! Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Hide! Under the table will work! Crap.

Yet on the left shoulder resides The Confronter. Slightly less verbose, it simply said:

Shut the eff up, wussy girl. Just open the stupid email, will ya? Sheesh.

Guess who won? The Confronter, naturally (You just don’t call me “wussy girl” and get away with it. Take that, Stupid Confronter.).

And here is what the scary email said:

Oh. Crap.

Here’s the deal: In keeping with my insistence that The Universe isn’t really listening, I think I thought that the thought of Diet Coke listening was unthinkable.

I published my last post, went on about my business — never imagining that I’d receive a follow-up email after having brazenly called out the No. 2 soda (and No. 1 diet soda — take that, Pepsi people) in the whole-wideass-world.

Nay, The Universe

But apparently, The Universe is listening. And so was Diet Coke. Lesson learned.

So within a few days, this arrived on my porch:

And inside? A sparkly new intact drawer for my fun little fridge.

And all this…

And while I’m all kinds of grateful to Diet Coke, it was only through the act of taking this photo that I realized something truly frightening.

Can you see what I’m talking about? Look closely. My outfit? Black stripes, red accents, silver jewelry. My home décor? Black swirls, red and silver accents.

Oh. My. God.

I’m all matchy-matchy with the Diet Coke!

This picture single-handedly helped me realize: My house is decorated to coordinate with a Diet Coke can.

And clearly, my fashion sense takes a cue from Diet Coke as well.

Hell, even my BLOG COLOR SCHEME matches my favorite soda!!!!!

But I mean, come on…everyone uses cans as “can”dles, right?

They don't burn easily, and they kinda have a funky metallic scent to them when lit, but they're sure purty.

And everyone’s bedroom is done in hues of their favorite soda, right?

Ho-ly shitballs. I may have a problem.

Orrrrrr…some might suggest that I may have been sending messages to The Universe. This whole time. Begging for Diet Coke — even through my décor, fashion and bloggy background.

But those people would be bat-shit crazy.

Nope, I  still don’t consider myself a believer. Not even after a few days later, when I got a huge spike in visitors from a specific website, with a URL that indicated it was the University of California San Francisco (with which I’m not affiliated). I clicked the link and found this, on a page devoted to a class teaching … what else, blogging:

(Um...did you notice the Diet Coke color scheme? Just sayin'...)

Once again, the psycho-nut crowd devoted fans of The Secret would say, “You did this, you know. You asked for comments. Well here they are.”

(And yeah, alright, point taken: Perhaps I more like demanded comments. Whatev.).

Anyhow, here it was — feedback about my blog and this particularly brazen post, in all its glory, as part of an assignment, no less! I mean, where else would I have been able to glean this insight:

“…Mikalee’s Blog Post was entertaining and funny at the same time to read. It seems like she gets plenty of readers for her blogs, probably a good hundreds or maybe thousands of visitors per day.”

Try “millions or maybe bajillions.” That’s a much closer estimate.

And where else would I get to read the following analysis, which was just chock-full of awesomeness and shared details of the Death Squirrel (It’s exactly like the Death Star. Only different):

As I went into her blog, not because I wanted to, but cause I had to as part of the assignment I wasn’t that interested in reading so I just scrolled down the page. As I was scrolling down I noticed a picture with a book up on file on a tray but I kept scrolling down and finally got to a picture of a death squirrel. At that moment, I said to myself: “oh shit; is she barbequing squirrels?” Her use of dramatic pictures was effective to get me to read or be interested in her blog even before I had any idea of what the blog was about. As soon as I started reading, I read about the burning of some book, and I immediately told myself, ok this is one of those crazy people calling for banning of books that they disagree with. The smile on her face with a book burning on her hand make me think that she didn’t care about pain or suffering, but right then and there I read that she is aware and glad that Bett is watching with a fire extinguisher in case something goes wrong with the burning of the book. I smiled and was relieved that she was not a nut case and that perhaps she had something important to say.
These two initial reactions with pictures and words were enough to get me to read her blog with interest and ease.
As I kept reading I noticed her intensive use of the word “believe”, as if she doesn’t believe and if she does believe it is naïve to do so, as a fairy tale similar to A Christmas Story. However as she play around with this word, I noticed these initial capitalized words, REALLY YOU’RE LISTENING FUCK LOVES ALL. It sounds like she does believe and she is happy that her readers (universe) are listening to her.

She comes across as a friendly yet upset person with her choice of expression, short sentences and fragments. It makes me feel like I am listening to one of my nagging friends that want to dump their rage and disappointment on me, and yet I keep listening because I am intrigued.
The contradiction of ideas of what she wants from the universe. She dreams of being this supper human with expensive cars, diamonds and mansions, yet she is preoccupied with a meekly unsavory diet drink and a supper husband when she has the care and comfort of her boyfriend Brett.
Surprisingly, at the end, I was satisfied with her ramblings and ideas with her choice of short and blunt sentences.

My responses:

  1. May I share your assessment that I am “not a nut case” with certain people in my life? Thanks in advance.
  2. If you string together the capitalized words in my post, you really get “REALLY YOU’RE LISTENING FUCK LOVES ALL”?!?! Wow. (And did you also know that if you read that post backward, you’ll find three examples of “Paul is dead.” Forreals.)
  3. I come across as a friendly yet upset person? Mission accomplished. (Not really: I’d say more unfriendly yet happy, but I’m digging the free analysis.)
  4. Watch what you call a “meekly unsavory diet drink,” friend. Seriously. Watch it. The Universe is listening, and so is Diet Coke — after all…

And I had no idea about the following:

I despise her layout. Red on a computer screen can really damage my eyes. She also decided to add more red when she quotes a conversation. (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT LADY! Are you trying to destroy the only thing I pride in, my 20-20 vision?!)

Um. Yes. Yes I am. And here I am, posting your comment in an eye-destroying evil red box. How does that feel, huh?

OK, but here’s my favorite-favorite-FAVORITE comment:

“She is so interesting and hilarious. She rambles about one thing and then another, but she does it in a way that you want to keep reading her blog…I think that if she really wants a publisher the Universe should have one coming her way because she carries the personality and thoughts of a skilled writer that can keep a viewer to read.”

From your lips, adorable and astute UCSF student blogger, to The Universe’s giant ears…

And speaking of those giant ears, Dear Universe: You may want to invest in an ear-candling session. My post was addressed to “The Universe.” Not “The University.”

But yeah, cute little play on words…

(And if you’re remotely interested in other students’ comments from this class — or if you just want to verify that I’m not making this shit up — click here. Just don’t leave comments there, because that would make you look like a total creeper.)

So, your turn as usual:

  1. Please please please: Someone tell me they also have a house decorated like their favorite soda? Anyone? Anyone?
  2. Any feedback on my color scheme? Because the red and black was intentional (blood and death, baby — or was it Diet Coke?), though I certainly would never want to hurt my dear readers’ 20-20 vision and all…
  3. Did you happen to see that I’m now unemployed? Or rather, self-employed? I’m contemplating launching a new series called the “Brave or Stupid Project,” which would measure my take on how this whole self-imposed full-time freelance writing career is playing out while I’m figuring out the vast publishing world. So any feedback/advice on how not to eat Kraft Mac-n-Cheese with chopped Lil’ Smokies nightly would be much appreciated. Because that’s just disgusting. And I trust your insights. You guys never have steered me wrong…
  4. I’ve missed you all. And I’m happy to be back! 🙂

157 thoughts on “Dear Universe (The Addendum): Oops. My Bad…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Now that would be creepy — perhaps I only allow things/people/tastes/drinks into my life if they conform to my style, decor and fashion?

      Hmmm…something to ponder.

      But where would the dead squirrels fit into this equation? 😉

  1. jlmx2 says:

    Oh, goodness, how much I enjoy your blog!

    Whootie, whooo, whooo….gotta love college students! So many seemed to be lacking a sense of humor; perhaps they just haven’t lived enough life yet to appreciate its hilarity. I especially enjoyed the misuse of grammar and “mispelled” words in their critiques.

    On another, far more serious note: you clearly have a Diet Coke obsession. Like, maybe you need an intervention kind of obsession. Like, maybe your subconscious can only funtion when addled with artificial sweetener and caffeine. Like, maybe, JUST MAYBE, you should do something drastic to prove (if only to yourself) that you can break the cycle. I dunno, maybe something wild and crazy like painting the interior of your home in azure and citrine!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      An intervention is definitely in order — though I’ve taken a small step toward admitting I have a problem, which I’ll be sharing soon (hint: there may be some *gasp!* blue in my future ). Because I’m crazy like that.

      The students’ critiques were fun for me to read — I really enjoyed their perspectives! I had to keep in mind that the people who come to my blog and stick typically do so because they’ve been through a painful divorce/separation and can relate, or they’re just older people (typically) who just enjoy my particular brand of sarcastic humor. These students are younger, many are clearly from a different culture and most probably have never been divorced (though they may have seen some in their lives with their parents). Plus, they’ve been linked here through an assignment, which I know through my years of teaching at the college level means they’re going to be LOOKING for something. They want to find the problems, or the deep insights, or the thing they think the teacher wants them to find, so their exercise is less about fun and more about searching. And again, I had fun reading what they found — my fave “finding” was the stringing together of the capitalized words to form a sentence. Nice!

      Anyhow, jlmx2, thank you again for being here — I’m glad you enjoyed!

  2. Mimi says:

    Hey Mik,
    My living room is brown, and I drink coffee. Does that qualify? Because, in all honesty, I hardly ever (er, never), drink coffee in my living room. I mostly drink it in the kitchen, which is green, and yet, I don’t like green tea, but know it’s good for me, so I drink it, but only at work. And my office is dominated by glass, which of course brings to mind vodka, which I never drink at work, but do drink in both my living room and my kitchen.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:


      Perhaps the key lies in this: If you put brown and green and clear together, you get: baby poop green. Which means you need to have another baby.


      (Oh, no, maybe that’s not it at all…)

      And I do appreciate that your “walls dominated by glass” bring to mind vodka. To me, that brings to mind water — but apparently you need something far stronger! 😉

  3. Mark Petruska says:

    My living room walls are orange. And, what do you know…I love Orange Crush! Whoa there, sister. I never made that connection before. Orange Crush people, are you listening? Feel free to gift me with a mini fridge stocked full of your awesomely wonderful Orange Crush product!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Mark, it’s pathetic how much you’re selling your soul for an Orange Crush viral campaign. Truly pathetic. I mean you talk about it on your blog, you color your walls to match — next thing you know, you’re going to be taking pix of Orange Crush cans as candles and posting those. Classy…


      (Actually, Dear Universe: Please bring Mark Petruska a viral campaign for Orange Crush? Many thanks and XOXO, Mikalee)

      We’ll see if that works…

  4. Dana says:

    Ugh, the walls of my stupid rental apartment are stark, hospital white. Maybe that’s why I’m allergic to milk, though? My hatred of white walls mirrors my bowels’ hatred of white dairy products. You, miss, are BRILLIANT.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      There you go. My goal in life: Solving the world’s dietary cravings/restrictions, one silly little blog at a time…

      Perhaps if you paint them Pepto pink, your irritated bowels will be soothed and you can once again imbibe of the dairy? Just a thought… 😉

  5. utahstateaggiegirl says:

    You’re housing color scheme has inspired me to kick my Diet Coke addiction before I buy my own house and begin decorating accordingly… Ok just kidding.

    We all need a vice… if Diet Coke is yours, that’s way safer/healthier/milder than some. Now I’m going to grab a can out of my mini-fridge…


    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Haha — glad to be an inspiration. And I know, I definitely have a problem.

      The bigger problem is this: I stopped drinking Diet Coke for about two weeks a few weeks ago. But I couldn’t write, and I wasn’t functioning well. Of course, it was also at the same time that I was making huge life changes (like leaving my job and starting my business), so it could have been bad timing. But I’m terrified to try again!

      Maybe I’ll just go with it and assume The Universe knows what it’s doing…

  6. Stacey C says:

    I have not had one single solitary ounce of Diet Coke (Nor any other “soft drink”) since December 31st, 2008 and you make it sound so good and look so sexy, I am considering relapse! I’ve heard they have support groups for Coke addicts. Maybe I should check the yellow pages before popping the top! Sometimes I miss that quenched feeling that ONLY an icy cold DIET COKE can bring when guzzled on a hot summer afternoon. But of all the new year resolutions I have ever made, wouldn’t you know this would turn out to be the ONLY one I have ever managed to keep. Your writing is wonderful and I look forward to your blog. One might say it gives you that “quenched” feeling! You make me laugh and smile and I always anxiously await that next “episode”.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow. I mean, truly … WOW. I’m uber impressed. I can’t even imagine. I’m completely baffled at the thought. I don’t even really know what to say in response here…

      Except, perhaps, I wish I had your will power?

      Seriously, I don’t get it. I know it’s more a habit than anything else — I just wish “scientists” would definitively say whether Nutri-sweet is like nuclear-radiation harmful or more just hit-or-miss bad. That way I’d stop feeling so bad every time I drink it (because I’m envisioning the former, not the latter). But it’s SOOO good!

      Sorry. I shouldn’t say that to a recovering (diet) coke-head. That’s just mean.

      I wish you continued success — if you could only wish me stronger will power! 🙂

  7. Patti Ross says:

    OK. I seem to be in the minority here, but Coca Cola?! Really? I am a Diet Pepsi Girl. But I like the red and black color scheme, although not for my house–mainly comfortable clothes.

    But on the red and black causing problems with eye strain on your blog–no!

    Welcome back, by the way. Good luck on the freelancing. No ideas on low-cost meals that one can stand day after day after day. I make big pots of vegetable soup and make it a bit dfferent each meal with the add-ons–cheese or chicken, etc.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      *Gasp!* A diet pepsi fan among us? See, I don’t even deign to respect it enough be capitalizing it. It’s dead to me…

      Haha, just kidding — I think I told you all that I was Diet Pepsi all the way until my first pregnancy. Then after 9 months of no caffeine, I took my first sip of Diet Pepsi and almost gagged. It’s been Diet Coke ever since.

      Thanks for the veggie soup tip. Far better than mac-n-cheese — though Boyfriend Brett is definitely a foodie, so I’ll have to do some serious research to find recipes that appeal to his high-end tastes. Or just make a boatload of money and hire Rachael Ray to come cook for us nightly…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Aww, thank you — and yes, it is definitely freeing. I’m having a blast, though there’s quite a lot of stress and sleepless nights inherent to this transition.

      Thanks for the well wishes, though! Much appreciated — more than you know, in fact…

  8. Kate says:

    Oh Mik…. having the pleasure of knowing you now for nearly 17 years…. there are many things I know and love about you. Your ability to string words together in a VERY CLEVER, snarky, and yet kind and loving way is one of my favorite qualities… one that you have clearly worked at, and achieved expert level, I might add. As far as the decorating? You home is beautiful… and if it so happens to be all “Coked out” so be it. As far as the red blog? I say keep it. Just because it cold possibly ruin the eyesight of someone who clearly can’t see the forest for the trees. Dumbass.

    You know I love you!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Yes, you’ve definitely seen my evolution. I think most of my readers would be astounded to know the Mikalee of 17 years ago was rather meek and even demure — right, Kate?

      Thank you for the kind words, though — they’re so much appreciated.

      And my Coked out house and red blog are grateful too — always nice to have fans!


  9. slowoodworker says:

    For UCSF students, their grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc leaves a lot to be desired.
    You wouldn’t be related to my sister-in-law would you? Her color scheme may be different, but the choice of furniture & accessories would indicate a genetic connection of some kind.

    • slowoodworker says:

      MY GOD! I just looked at the blogging page you linked to. It’s a “400” level class, meaning it’s for Seniors! And probably, Senior English Majors!

      • jenougher says:

        Nope Dude. Wrong and Wrong again. Don’t get too ahead of yourself with all your assumptions and brazen judgments. Some of my students are not native English speakers. Check yourself, and try to go write in Spanish or something.

        • jlmx2 says:

          Whether the students are native English speakers or not, sentence structure and spelling should be accurate in a 400 level English course.
          Do you disagree?
          I make no insults, just observations.

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          We definitely need to be mindful, my blog friends, of the fact that these students are potentially from different cultures, at different levels of their college experience and bringing different backgrounds into the classrooms. I taught college journalism and writing courses for many years, and the pervasive frustration among teachers is the lack of a “baseline” from which to work. This makes the job of college instructors that much more difficult, because they’re trying to teach to the students at all different levels while engaging a deeper understanding of a specific topic (in this case, blogging) that can transcend those levels.

          I also taught online courses, which adds another element to the mix: Often, students try to type as they talk, and it’s difficult to communicate (and even grade on) standards for “casual” discussion like that which can happen in online classrooms. As you can imagine, formal papers submitted for this class would be far different (with any luck), as the medium of a formal paper communicates that higher standard. In other words, students are typically NOT engaging a proofreader for their post submissions, whereas they would for their papers/essays.

          Anyhow, I’m just grateful for the feedback — I thought it was a fun exercise, and I was happy to be included.


          • jlmx2 says:

            True enough. I happen to believe that many times we let our public school students down.
            My stepdaughter just graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA. HOWEVER, her thank you note for her gift read, “thank you for the neclas.” Ouch. When she tested at the local community college, her results determined she needed to take three, YES, THREE, remedial English classes before she would be at the 100 level. Double OUCH.
            She has no attention disorders, learning disabilities, etc.
            Personally, I find this to be a travesty. 😦

            • jenougher says:

              “YES, THREE, remedial English classes before she would be at the 100 level. Double OUCH. She has no attention disorders, learning disabilities, etc.
              Personally, I find this to be a travesty.”

              What I find to be the true travesty in our culture at large is the inability of Standard American English to allow for other world Englishes into the mix. It’s linguistic xenophobia/terrorism/tyranny, you choose. To disregard what someone has to say, just because his or her grammar is not perfect, well, that’s just a frightening way to treat people. What’s really frustrating, as a teacher, is the expectation to “drill and kill” your students with grammatical exercises, at the expense of engaging students in what (past college instructor) Mikalee terms “a deeper understanding of a specific topic”. Our cultural over-emphasis on correctness and “standards” is what’s really killing public education. I am not saying that grammar does not matter, but I am saying that it matters more than it ought to.

              I once studied abroad in Chile, and my grammar was by no means perfect, to say the least. I was quite fortunate, in that my professors rewarded my engagement in ideas, instead of penalizing me for my syntactic transgressions. To do so would have shut down my higher-order learning functions, and made me resistant to reading or writing in Spanish ever again. But, my grammar improved anyways, because I was reading and writing A LOT, and enjoying myself. Kids hate school because it’s a minefield of “correctness”, rather than a playground for ideas.

              • jlmx2 says:

                I do not believe in discounting one’s ideas simply because it’s grammatically incorrect. I believe that the value of ideas and thoughts does not rest in proper syntax.

                In the example I provided, my stepdaughter was born and raised as an English speaker. My emphasis was on the fact that she graduated with a 3.0 GPA and yet could not enroll in an entry level college English course. (She tested very low for math, too. In fact, she never passed the test required for graduation in my state, and had to receive special “permission” to graduate. With a 3.0 GPA!)

                THAT is what I claim is a travesty.

                • Mikalee Byerman says:

                  This IS a travesty. Your step daughter is a victim — our school systems are arbitrarily testing against obscure metrics in order to qualify for funding that doesn’t even come close to covering needs. All the while, our standards are becoming lower and lower — and the true victims are the students passing from grade to grade without a grasp on basic concepts — let alone a passion for education/creativity/critical thought.

              • Mikalee Byerman says:

                Agreed on many levels.

                However, I do have to say that through the process of watching my children navigate the public school system, it seems a lot of K-12 teachers have simply “given up” on the basics. I think this permeates our society, crossing over into every institution of higher education in the country. This then trickles down even to the non-native learners and their skills, as instructors/professors are overwhelmed with the sheer lack of understanding across the board exhibited by their students. I am frustrated by how much apathy I see toward basics, and this applies to grammar as well. I believe instructors can inspire passion for correct language while also inspiring engagement in critical thought. It’s tough work, but it’s possible.

                Of course, all of this is coming from a lover of language and a self-professed word nerd. And a “retired” college instructor, who learned too quickly that she cared too much while students cared too little. I applaud any and all teachers out there for tackling such incredible challenges presented by our clearly struggling society.

                • jlmx2 says:

                  I agree! Last semester, I did a full report on the NCLB requirements (and loopholes) in my state. It was eye-opening….and depressing.
                  My husband is currently running for a seat on our school board because he feels passionately about returning education to the basics.
                  I am amazed at how little critical thinking is taught. I am constantly encouraging my children to think outside of the box and look beyond what appears to be a simple fact.

                  • Mikalee Byerman says:

                    Good for you — and your husband!

                    I am also considering a run for my local school board. Ironically, I am a product of my school district, my kids are in the school district, I just quit my job in the school district — and now I’m considering running for a seat? Funny thing is, I think this blog is the main thing holding me back — I’m just not sure how much my unconventional views and expressions would be perceived in my very conservative, very traditionally oriented school district!

            • Mikalee Byerman says:

              We are in an oddly precarious place in terms of education in society: It seems that by and large, we are losing creativity, critical thinking and basic curiosity. Yet we’re also woefully deficient in the basics of grammar, writing and many other formative educational concepts.

              In terms of the handwriting debate, for example, I have a very specific bone to pick: “They” say that students don’t need to learn cursive because of society’s dependence on computer technology. And yet at my children’s public school — one of the best in my district — they have not taught them how to type. I taught them how to type, and I continue to teach them … it seems we are losing sight of the forest for the trees.

        • slowoodworker says:

          You’re right. I did go read all the comments. & it was clear that many are ESL students. No I don’t/can’t speak any languages other than English.
          Still, it is a 400 level class and if I took a 400 level English class when I went to college (state vs university) and spelled/wrote as shown in your blog, I would probably fail the assignment if not the class.

    • Damian Trasler says:

      Thank you for saying this first and not making me sound like a grammar/punctuation nazi. I’m a proofreader by day and playwright by night, and while I accept a certain level of typos due to the prevalence of commenting via phone/iPad, this was a class assignment. “the one thing I pride in”? Oh dear, dear me.

      • Damian Trasler says:

        Ha. Now I’ve read the following comments and feel very small. I share a pod at work with a man who speaks three languages and is learning a fourth. As a Brit, I struggle to make myself understood in my native language over here.

        Mind you, English MUST be an easy language – my kids learned to speak it when they were only babies…..

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          I’ve always heard that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn as a non-native — mostly because it has many seemingly random rules and few standard caveats. Practically EVERYTHING is an exception!

          I especially enjoy watching English learners trying to tackle idioms. We are a messed up culture, to be sure… 😉

  10. Carol Ann says:

    I heart you Mikalee. You make me laugh every single time, even when I don’t feel like laughing. And I don’t drink Diet Coke or any other soft drinks.

  11. Harold says:

    Well our color scheme is basically off-white and we drink a lot of milk!
    You and your thoughts are beautiful Mikalee! Don’t change a thing!
    I agree with Slowoodworker, English majors aren’t what they used to be. My son gave me one of his college papers to review after he had his English major wing buddies go over it. I found 6-12 more changes to make! He turned it in before I got back to him, trusting them to have gotten it all correctly. He was amazed at what I found and they didn’t.
    So if you ever need a proof reader….
    Glad you are back, don’t stay away so long k? I think you help a lot of worlds out there and I look forward to reading anything you do. Makes my world better!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      …I’m telling you, there’s something to this entire drinking-inspired decor concept. Sub-conscious, perhaps — but I think it has merit!

      Personally, I was disheartened at the level of writing many students illustrated when I was teaching college-level writing and journalism courses. I think so much of this speaks to an overarching lack of parental involvement/concern regarding children’s educations at young ages, as well as an overall disintegration of public education (primarily due to lack of funding as well as bizarre and arbitrary testing standards). By the time they get to college, many students are so far behind, there’s little to be done except focus on the basics. As a teacher, your goal is to inspire depth of learning in a given topic — hard to do when you’re trying to teach basic concepts that already should be mastered.

      Thanks as always for the supportive feedback, Harold — my world is definitely a happier place with all of you in it!

    • jennifer says:

      My students are not even English majors. That was an assumption made by a man who does not know my students, at all. Be careful with assumptions. You can really deflate people with all of this persnickety-ness. I’m an English major. How’s my grammar? I hope you approve of it…

  12. Catherine says:

    So I’d probably die if my blog was put on one of those sites for critique…. congrats on surviving!
    I too, love your use of pictures. They always crack me up. And I think you have a fun style of writing – you never know what you are going to write about!
    As far as the layout, well, I’ve never been a fan of a colored background. It hurts my eyes. but I generally read your blog in my Google Reader so it doesn’t bother me!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Catherine, you’re one of the bravest bloggers I know — I’m sure you’d survive a college critique unscathed! I mean, come on — the zombie pix? Hello? B-R-A-V-E! (and totally fun, might I add…)

      Thanks for the feedback — I do have fun with the pix. And I USED to have fun with my color scheme, but that was before I learned I was hurting everyone… 😉

  13. gvanguard says:

    Batshit crazy now this? My goodness, college students, Diet Coke, and burning eyes oh my! Wonder Woman couldn’t hold a candle to you, Mikalee. Being critiqued by college students is a Godsend and great press, no doubt. Thankfully, they were very well behaved and not grammar or punctuation Nazis. As I am a wizard at fixing dinner minus mac&cheese + beanie/weanies, I offer you a simple but delicious meal.
    You need a crockpot by the way, if you don’t have one, I would be happy to send one to you.
    Go outside to your neighbors garden and grab some rosemary, basil and thyme. Take a whole chicken, feathers preferably plucked if your borrowing one from your other neighbors yard. Dry said chicken with paper towels. Salt, salt, and salt, and pepper that chicken in every nook and cranny. Take whole chicken add some cut up onion, carrots, and celery (roughly chopped.) Put in crock pot, add water to cover whole chicken, add herbs, because they will make it taste good. Cook until the chicken is done, over setting low for about 3-4 hours. Utilizing your homemade chicken stock, add to a pot, cover until it boils add some tasty rice, cook, maybe 15 minutes. Finally, take chicken out of crockpot, add rice to plates, add chicken onto plates, devour tasty meal.
    As a side treat, take leftover chicken, shred to a nice consistency, add some noodles to your chicken stock, and wa la! Homemade chicken noodle soup.. There you have it.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You are a Godsend. A few questions, however:

      1. My neighbors do not have chickens, but they do have annoying cats. Will that work? I think I’d take joy in plucking them, after all…
      2. In lieu of herbs, will grass and pine needles work? Once again, it seems I have deficient neighbors.
      3. If I don’t have a crockpot, can I throw this all in a giant metal pot in the microwave?


      Actually, I’m quite the crockpot maven, though your recipe sounds even Martha Stewart-y-er than my cooking. I’m impressed!

  14. kk50 says:

    When you start decorating inthe colors of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and L’il Smokies, I will start to worry about you…LOL. Love your blog

  15. kitchenmudge says:

    Greetings from the land of green, yellow, and white (Do an image search for “Vernor’s” if you don’t know what I mean.) If I haven’t yet been excommunicated from the Church of Mikalee for expressing another soft drink preference, it might be because you have a certain affinity for that jolly red-bearded, rosy-cheeked, winking gnome. Prepare to be GIMPed again if I ever find the right pictures in which to meld a red beard with a penis tiara.

    If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m a Green, and whenever we design Party paraphernalia we have to decide between white and yellow lettering on the green background.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Excommunication? Nah…I choose to keep you around and study you like a rare bug. You Vernor’s types are bizarrely fascinating — and crazy good at photo manipulation!

      I ‘ll look forward to one day seeing a penis tiara-clad gnome. Of course, anyone wearing a penis tiara is funny, IMHO…

  16. salmart2 says:

    Ahh that so cute, being given for homework! Wow, you’ve really made it kid! And we have been counting on great things on topics you’re an expert on, like having a batshit crazy divorce. But obviously being a unorthodox blogger tops that! Huh. Who would have thought?

    And bless their innocent little souls worrying about you calling Brett ‘Boyfriend Brett’ instead of Brett your boyfriend or just Brett. So much better to be considering that than how to mend a crushed stamped on flung away heart.

    I hope the lecturer pointed out the pure pleasure of alliteration dating back to the very beginnings of the written/spoken word. Even if they’re not historians did they not enjoy Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck?? I reckon you only considered boyfriends whose name started with the letter B for our unadulterated pleasure. And if you ever marry him (whoops sorry for using the m word) it will only be if he agrees to change his name by deed poll to Harold! Or maybe Horace??

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow — you really do know me, don’t you? When I created my profile (which of course is where I met Boyfriend Brett), I included a line that read, “Men with names beginning with letter ‘B’ need only apply.” I definitely hadn’t thought through the whole “husband” idea (*shudder*), but should we ever get there (perhaps in a few decades or so), I think I shall just call him Husband Herbert — regardless of whether he changes his name or not. Or Horatio. Though I do like Horace, too. 😉

      And yes, I do love how so many of the students focused on the minutiae rather than the big picture. Of course, in their defense, these particular posts focus less on my bat-shit crazy, blindsiding divorce and more on my bat-shit crazy life! If only they’d read on and discover the story behind the brick, the Marilyn connection, the revelation of my blog stalker and my ex’s ex-ex’s ex story…

      Good times — and definitely fodder for a soap opera. College students still like those, right?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thank you so much. It definitely is a small, crazy world — and you can only imagine how shocked I was when Diet Coke reached out. Not only the first time, but then to follow up?!?! I’m now a fan of not only the soda, but the marketing team behind it.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed — thanks for reading!

  17. Ariel Havanah says:

    That’s awesome! I once discovered that my life was starting to revolve around two main colors as well! ha ha
    It is a little freaky…. Kinda made me tired of it, once I noticed it 😀
    The colors are a little crazy, especially in the dark, but I like it.
    It may be bad for the eyes though? Dunno…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      The funny part of the story really is the idea that I purged and created this new color palette as I evolved into my “2.0” version. However, now that I’m definitely feeling the onset of a 3.0, what the hell do I do with all this red, black and silver????

      So what were your two colors? I’m curious…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Exactly: Here I am, a “divorce blogger,” yet not many of them even really picked up on my theme. Granted, the post they were evaluating had little to do with the divorce … it’s just funny to realize that this label doesn’t permeate every post.

      I really am grateful for the feedback — and definitely considering a change to the color scheme, in homage to UCSF ENGL 414…

  18. leotapioca says:

    Wow! I am surprised that I am here to get right back at you since you got back to my class! First of all, congratulations on getting Coke to send you another mini-fridge that is fixed and not damaged. And filled with even more Diet Coke! You sure are crazy and a real fan of Diet Coke (and I mean not crazy, crazy, but an awesome, crazy!) It really shows how you and your blog and your life revolve around the colors of silver, red, and black. The colors of the Diet Coke can to be more specific! And I noticed you read my comment about the “visitors” per day. Haha. I believe you! I believe that you got “millions or maybe bajillion visitors.” And no, I don’t have a house where it’s the same colors as my favorite soda can, sorry to say this, but Diet Coke is not my favorite. It’s the crisp, lemon taste of 7-Up. Thanks for another great post Mikalee! The Universe must be listening for sure!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I think I’m more surprised than you all — but I’m so grateful for another chance to learn from you all and appreciate your feedback and perspective.

      So glad to hear that I’m “awesome, crazy” and not “crazy, crazy” — thanks for clarifying! Though you just might be “crazy, crazy” for liking 7-Up. Yuck! 😉

      If you happen to make it back by way of this blog, I’m curious: Why do you think your instructor has assigned your class to read my blog? As a male student (probably early 20s, I’m guessing?), do you enjoy this style of blogging — or not so much?

      Thanks for your honest feedback — as always!

      • leotapioca says:

        People have their preferences for what they drink. Harhar. My instructor wanted us to check out your blog on “Dear Universe” because she wanted us to make five points on what your tone and whatever stood out from your blog. I do enjoy your style of blogging because your sarcasm is funny. You really draw me in, as a reader, to your blogs. Your personal stories interest me also.

  19. ladymiryaa says:

    This scares me as I am a Diet Mtn Dew fan and if I start decorating like that can it might look like the 80’s has come back and thrown up on me. Hmmmmm. While being a teen in the 80’s was fun, I have no desire to dress like that again or decorate like it. Of course, I am not saying I don’t still have clothes like that in my closet….let’s just leave that where it is 🙂

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Haha! I was a child of the ’80s, too, and I wore entirely too many leg warmers, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts ala Olivia Newton John in the “Let’s Get Physical” video, giant feathers in my hair and day-glow colored beads around my neck!

      Come to think of it: I think those are all back in style. Crap.

      Well, at least you can dress in a Diet Mountain Dew motif, right?

  20. aoropeza89 says:

    It is crazy to think how much power writing has even if its a blog about diet coke and dead squirrels. It was interesting to see that picture of you with the diet coke because the color scheme is what hit me first about it I thought it was planned! Well at least you got a new mini fridge door and a ton of diet coke which seems like you had been secretly wanting more of by the look of your interior decorating

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      So true — though dead squirrels and Diet Coke stories are only the tip of my personal blogging iceberg, where the universal theme around here is a simple “You just can’t make this shit up.” And I think that’s why we all have so much fun as a “community” on this blog, because we all live examples of this mantra on a routine basis. The truth is far stranger than fiction, as they say.

      That’s too funny that you saw the complementary nature of the colors — I can honestly say I didn’t realize it until I saw the picture. Scary and bizarre, to say the least…

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  21. J. Eric Smith says:

    1. I don’t drink soda, which is probably a good thing, since the interior of my house is painted in a variety of fairly wild colors, and to match, I would have to drink something like “Diet Lime Doctor Persimmon With Cocoa Bubble Raspberry Mead Rite.”

    2. Red and black is way cool. So cool that Blue Oyster Cult wrote a song about it: . . . so cool that Kandinsky used it as the primary palette in his way influential Bauhaus architecture . . . so cool that it’s WORTH going blind to admire it . . .

    3. I am at T-minus seven days until joining you on the rolls of the self-employed, and hoping that brave doesn’t feel like stupid eight days from now. In preparation for this transition, I have been running a Living Off My Stuff project . . . clearing out attics and basements via Craigslist and then living within what I can generate in a cash economy that way. I’ve also been exclusively drinking 2008 Casa Santos Lima LAB wine from Portugal, which sells for $6.99/bottle in my town, so I can afford to buy PREMIUM Kraft Mac and Cheese (the kind you don’t need milk or butter to make).

    4. Welcome back!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      1. But just think: You have all new walls to color in your new home, right? Why not take a cue (and a hue) from your favorite drinks: My boyfriend’s walls would be Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale orange, I do believe…I’d better not let him make a trip to Home Depot alone any time soon…

      2. Good point about the universal appeal of red and black. Hadn’t really considered Blue Oyster Cult or Bauhaus architecture, but now I’m feeling at least some acknowledgement of my brilliance and vision…

      3. Congrats on joining me in the “Brave or Stupid?” project — I’m quite confident you’ll feel just fine in eight days. Check back in after 28 days, though…that’s the true test! And you may just be my new favorite person, what with your awesome Portuguese wine tip (I’m off to my local Cost Plus or Wine and More or corner Wine-o store to see if I can score some of my own!).

      …and hold your horses: They make mac-n-cheese to which you don’t add milk or butter? No wonder it’s called “premium”! I’m totally jealous or your elitist pedestrian tastes…

      4. THANK YOU!!! 🙂

      • J. Eric Smith says:

        Re: They make mac-n-cheese to which you don’t add milk or butter?

        Sho’nuff . . . it comes with a little silver magical bag filled with fluorescent orange pasturized cheese food product that you can just squeeze over the cooked noodles, no measuring, no mixing, no additional ingredients required.

        If you’re feeling TOTALLY fancy, you can even dump a can of tuna into it, Mmmmm . . . orangey AND fishy . . .

        Here’s a link in case you want to order a couple of crates to go with your Casa Santos Lima LAB wine:

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          Oooh, must get magical silver pouch filled with cheese(ish) sauce…

          And I knew you were a wild man: orangey and fishy … together? That’s just too much deliciousness, my friend. Too, too much…

          Thanks for the link. Must go order.

  22. Anne Schilde says:

    1. I really don’t like sodas, any of them, so I don’t have a favorite and there for no related decorations. About as close as it gets is Brittney decorating the counter with empty Pepsi cans until there are enough of them to justify a trip to the recycling bin. Does that help?
    2. I wish I could comment on your color scheme, but my eyesight seems to be damaged. I’m so sorry.
    3. This is the first time I’ve been to your blog so no I didn’t know about your employment status. You need to work out some way to get paid for comments on Freshly Pressed. You could retire! Watch what you call “just disgusting” friend. Seriously, watch it! The Universe is listening, and so are Kraft and Hillshire Farms. 🙂
    4. Welcome back, and I’ll be back! I thoroughly enjoyed your ramblings and ideas with your choice of short and blunt sentences.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Well, welcome Anne! Thank you for the comment, and thank you for trying to make me feel better about my soda-inspired fashion: Your Pepsis-on-the-counter story definitely makes me feel less alone…

      And yes, I’m a bit of a troll when it comes to Freshly Pressed … but it’s my daily dose of other people’s blogs, it expands my horizons and introduces me to new awesome bloggers. Now if only I could monetize that — you’re right, I’d be rolling in it!

      I laughed out loud when you mentioned Kraft and Hilshire Farms. Good point: Perhaps I’ll be a future beanie-weannie viral target. (Actually, that sounds really, really bad…)

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting — I’m glad you stopped by, and I hope to see you around again soon!

  23. Some one who cared says:

    Hi Mikalee,

    Now you might not want to post this reply.
    But , I met on a Big ATLANTA lake a guy high up in the COCA-COLA executive chain and showed him your post about the inappropriately stocked mini-fridge and the secrets of the UNIVERSE . He promised me he would get on it. I am glad to see he followed through.

    I am posting today under another name, (only you know the email ) so he doesn’t know about my interesting side issues I inappropriately have discussed here. Cause I bet he is reading your blog now. Next time I see him at the lake I will confirm my belief that he is the one behind this.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I love it! Thank you for taking my battle to the executive chain … I SO appreciate it!

      …and I hope he’s a new reader. Every little bit helps, and I love-love-love every one of my readers (especially the ones who send me gifts…).


  24. Caitlin says:

    Congratulations on your new drawer and stock of Diet Cokes! Did it fill all of your mini refrigerator this time?

    If you like red, you like red. It is a strange thing to complain about. Blogs are supposed to reflect the author, and as this post shows, it really reflects you. Personally I liked how the quotes stood out when I read Dear Universe. But no one thought anyone would be reading those comments. Some of the commenters on this post evidently wanted to even out the number of analysts: a class of 23 analyzed your post = you + commenters analyze the class’s comments.

    My decor is green & pink, and most of my clothes are blue & green; neither reflect my choice in beverages. I drink purple soda….er I mean grape soda. Subconsciously I choose to eat/drink anything artificially colored purple because I have been getting subliminal messages from my birth month, February, which is purple-fied: Amethyst birthstone & Violet birth flower. On top of that SFSU’s colors includes purple (Did I choose my school because it has my favorite color?!)

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thank you so much, Caitlin … and yes, the drinks definitely filled the fridge this time around. Yay!

      Yip, red is my color. Or at least, it has been my color. The whole philosophical underpinning of the blog — the concept of embracing my 2.0 version — was reflected through this dramatic color change in my life. I went from being all hearts-and-flowers and pastels to STARK RED AND BLACK. The problem is, I’m now finding myself entering what I’m calling version 3.0 … and it likes teal.

      So now what do I do with the blood red wall in my bedroom? 😉

      It definitely sounds like you’ve got a sub-conscious purple passion happening. I love that your school colors are even reflecting your grape cravings — perhaps Grape Crush will send you a mini-fridge? I hope so …

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

  25. chiamtang says:

    I have no idea, a blog can have such power, I’m surprise that they actually replace your fridge. That is a very good thing, that your mindful words, became a constraint to diet coke that they replace your fridge. Your words was just too strong, that even superman couldn’t break it. I’m glad that they did such things, it seem most company would not go out their way to replace such things. It seems everything has been a coincidence, that everything was just falling into place, the universe must be listening, because you put a dent in it.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Yeah, well … I’m not so sure about my power (nor would I ever deign to consider that Superman couldn’t break anything — unless kryptonite was involved, of course)…

      But what I will say: That Wieden+Kennedy is on top of it!

  26. izettesher says:

    Hi Mikalee,
    I really like how you took on our comments from a bunch of college students. It really wasn’t personal at all. We had to judge you by one single post and did not read any of your posts beforehand. In any case, since you are a blog that is educational-worthy, do you feel flattered? I hope you do because our professor advises us to learn from others writing to improve our own. Not exactly in the grammatical sense, but your writing style in particular was very engaging and it influenced the way I structure my own posts. You’re such a fun, spunky woman and with all the bajillion readers you have, I’m glad at least the universe equally loves you and listens to you too!!

    The “can”dles are creative and cool.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Why thank you — I certainly wasn’t offended by your comments; instead, I read every single one of them with complete interest, considering you were offering free analysis! I was definitely flattered.

      You know the real irony? While many of you commented on how grammatically incorrect my post was, would you believe that I used to teach — wait for it — grammar?!?! At the college level?!?!



      The moral to the story: Good grammar can sometimes stifle creative expression. Just know when to use it (say, for example, in your college papers) versus when you don’t have to (like in your blogs!).

  27. ecartano says:

    Hello Mikalee! The names Nikko. Never would I have thought Diet Coke would be listening to your insights of your package of Diet Coke nor would I have thought you would happen to see our English course’s post response to your post. I feel quite honored that you have responded to our post, more so if my comment was featured in your post, but let’s not get over our heads. (I’m just kidding or am I?) Any who, if I were you, I’d definitely feel a “oh shit” moment once I get emails like that especially in response to something I may have done or said where everyone can see! I mean, I’m only talking about you, not like you’ll see it anyway. My heart beat beats faster and I feel like I can’t breathe so I do anything to ignore or go around it but like so, freak, just go through it.

    Your posts are entertaining to read and your images just adds on screaming for me to read more! I’m surprised the Diet Coke company apologized and gave you more Diet Coke! So you underestimate the Universe now? Or.. Diet Coke? You should definitely blog more about any mishaps you have! The Universe may be following and listening to every word you say now!

    I’m totally digging the picture you took with the Diet Coke by the way! I find it so comforting to know my favorite drink matches my everyday home. The patterns, accents, colors just shout look at me and my Diet Coke! Don’t get me wrong, I definitely would be flaunting my nice interior of my household and the Diet Coke cans just adds on. I’m not being sarcastic, just saying how I’d feel if I were you.

    Well have a joyous night Mikalee! (:

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Hi back atcha, Nikko! Thank you so much for the comment (though I realize it was ASSIGNED and all… but I still appreciate it!).

      Yes, there was definitely an “oh shit” moment or two as I was watching my viewership spike — in addition to another few once I got the email from Diet Coke. But it all turned out ok…

      I hope you don’t feel too intimidated by the act of putting yourself out there in the blogosphere. It’s a fun place, and you can really build a community here — which is my focus. My blog focuses on reinvention after a major life change — in my case, my divorce, but there are many people here for a variety of reasons.

      …and yes, some are here just to see all the different ways in which The Universe effs with me. 😉

      Thank you again, and good luck in your class and with your blog!

  28. geejm says:

    I hope you (if you haven’t already) enjoy your newly repaired mini fridge and that amazing stack of diet coke. I’m more of classic coke kind of person! However, my decor is a disappointing fugly off white! I guess it’s expected when you’re a full-time student, part time retail slave, mother of one, wife to former Marine who’s currently “self-employed”, right?

    My husband LOVES the color red; he served the US Marine Corps whose color scheme includes red, and before serving, his life revolved around his first love: little red honda hatchback. This red loving husband of mine is, right now sitting comfortably on the sofa (accented with red), wearing a shirt in a red valet cake shade of red! Wow! That’s crazy!!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Well there you go — red is a powerful hue, and it seems to be pervasive in your life as well. But it doesn’t sound like you and your hubby are quite as obsessed as I seem to be!

      Congrats on the fugly white walls, the incredible opportunities ahead of you (I predict a future of being an awesome wife/mom without “retail slave” in your title …), and please accept my thanks to you and your family for your husband’s service.

      Now go buy him something red. Like a Honda hatchback. Because he deserves it. 😉

  29. kareee13 says:

    First of all, I would like to say congrats to coke giving you another drawer! and along with cans of diet cokes!!
    I would never thought that you would look at our class blog and see what we wrote. I’m sorry that I was one of the people that were affected by the color, red but I am not the one who you quoted. I admit that it does hurt my eyes. But hey it is your layout. I guess that is what draws the readers because red is bright besides that and your blog background has to do with your favorite soda! Also because what you blog about really interest some people and that why you get tons of readers. I do however, like you interior designs. Is there really no effect towards the cans when you put in the candles and light them?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      No worries at all — I was certainly never offended by the critique … rather, I was grateful for the feedback!

      The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll be changing the scheme. I may be modifying my design soon, and your class’s feedback will certainly be a factor in my decisions — so thank you!

      And just a few points of clarification:

      1. While the recent few posts are definitely about Diet Coke, the entire blog (I hope) serves a higher purpose: Encouraging people to reinvent themselves after a significant life change. You guys have only read a small snapshot of the full scope, so if you ever find yourself in a place in life where you need to reinvent, I hope you remember this blog and return to peruse the rest!

      2. Please don’t ever try the cans-instead-of-candles idea at home. That was just a joke. Seriously.


  30. Some one who cared... says:


    CAN-dles… ROTFLMAO

    sounds like a great product line for the Cola-Cola PR reps to put in “VERANDA”, House Beautiful and other AD magazines !

    Wieden +Kennedy on behalf of Diet Coke……..ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS UNIVERSE – NOW ?

    or do I have to go seek out “GREAT SCOTT” on LAKE LANIER again ? .. Hummm ?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Haha … I love it! You know, I’ll be making a trip to “Coca-Cola World” in a few weeks (there’s seriously a store in Las Vegas all about Coke and Diet Coke. It’s kinda bizarre, but people love it…)

      Maybe I should pitch them my “can”dles idea?!?!


  31. Phyu Phyu says:

    Hi Mikalee,
    How did you feel when the universe heard of what you had to say? I mean it’s the “UNIVERSE” that had answered what you had asked for. It must be AWESOME!!!
    Also, big congrats on all the Diet Cokes =)
    Red isn’t really my color but I like how you use it well on your blog, which makes it very unique. When I read your post “Dear Universe, Can You Hear Me Now?” as an English course assignment, I was very confused because you sounded like you were very mad with the universe yet you still wanted your voice to be heard. Why?
    Now that you got your answer, are you still mad at the universe? Just out of curiosity, are you going to keep asking the universe for things? If yes, what is the next thing going to be?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Haha — well, I’m not so sure “The Universe” responded as much as a very savvy marketing team did from Diet Coke — I’m still a skeptic!

      In terms of my tone: I think you’d have to read through a few more of my posts to understand the nuance — if you’re so inclined, that is. I’m really not “mad” — more just being facetious. In your English class, you’ll undoubtedly learn about “voice,” which is a very individual tone that writers manifest through their writing. Mine is somewhat bitter, a little jaded, dry … but I always try to have a humorous edge, which makes it more enjoyable than simply being a series of rants. I love life, and I’m a happy person — honest!

      So thank you again for the comment and feedback. And the only thing I’m wishing for from “The Universe” at this point is endless happiness for my kids. And the only reason I do that is JUST IN CASE The Universe really does have giant ears…


  32. onimoki says:

    Must be nice to finally be able to fill in that fridge hmm? I myself like the color red, though sometimes staring at it to long may cause some unwanted color blindness. Staring at a white a piece of paper on a bright day may also cause this unwanted harm. I have to say that it was pretty neat with the soda can and candle pun, and it fits on your candle holders! As for the color thing, I think most people have their own taste in style, which maybe lead you into making this blog into a diet-coke color theme. This may also include the colors within your house. As for me I like the colors of Halloween, dunno why, but black and orange is just awesome in my opinion. But if I were to do it based on favorite drink maybe sprite’s green and blue or A&W’s brown and red (?) or at least i think its read. And then maybe I’ll have a barrel full of A&W somewhere in house. The possibilities are endless! But that’s what I think.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      So true — I think my whole preference for red and silver was sub-conscrious more than conscious — but I had to laugh once I realized it was also the color scheme of Diet Coke! I’ve always joked with my friends that I’m going through my “blood and death” phase (red and black), which makes the whole Diet Coke connection even funnier…

      Halloween colors, eh? Cool scheme, but I must say it might be a bit heavy (or even retro) in a living room.


      Though every home could use a barrel of A&W…

  33. ekuang90 says:

    Hello Mikalee, you have the universe’s attention! Did you really think the Diet coke company just shipped you a mini-fridge with broken drawers and didn’t care? They are definitely listening to you; I think that’s pretty awesome! I liked how the picture of you and diet coke cans alone got you to notice the coke-theme around you–i mean even the layout of your blog. You must subconsciously be thinking about Coke or something. By the way, I love how you played around with the coke cans as a decor in your home! Very amusing, and I definitely saw the similarity. Anyway, how did you feel when you found out my class was assigned to read your blog and now that we’re actually commenting on your blog as part of another assignment? Do you still think the universe is not listening ? At least you have your favorite soda company listening to you.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      True enough — I’m definitely now more aware of the fact that “some people” are listening — not sure about The Universe, but I do think the written word can be a powerful thing!

      The fact that your class was once again assigned to read my blog absolutely cracked me up. I’m honored to be part of your curriculum, and I just hope you’ve all found some inspiration (through things I either do or do NOT do well) in the assignment.

      Thanks so much for the comment!

  34. carlosgreat says:

    (I wouldn’t want to offend nor steal anyone’s style or ideas but…….)
    “Dear Lord or whoever you are! here I am again! Not by choice but by my teacher’s request. My attention is being taken away from my “Multi Threading Software Programming” assignment and thrown into Mikalee’s blog. You know, I like Ginger Ale however; this crafty and enthusiastic lady (Mikalee) is very close to turning me towards the Dark-Red Side of the force. I haven’t taken an English class for almost a decade and my grammar at the beginning of the semester was and may yet be, horrible. While there is still so much room for improvement I can only hope that my time in this semester English class will save me. My teacher’s unquestionable dedication and my class mates’ support are helping me to think and write in English and not in Spanish which you know is my native language. But if you (the Universe) are so unforgiving and want to challenge me now, then you will have to challenge me on a Computer Science subject, and you will have to wait until the end of the semester to challenge me on my English grammar” it should be much better by then.
    My jaw dropped and so too did my little green can of Ginger Ale soda that I was holding in my left hand while my right hand was on top of the computer mouse. My finger started to scroll down the page very fast before reading the content of your blog, saw the yellow arrow, your picture, then my heart started to race faster as I came to our class blog picture and comments. I couldn’t believe you quoted my entire comment, since I was trying to hide away from the Universe :). I am very glad the universe answered you through our San Francisco State University (SFSU) site and through the minds of young people that enjoyed and analyzed your input, based on your style, skills and creativity. I went back to the top of the page and started to read and soon, I was waiting for your parents to demand that you sit down and finish your food. Later I was looking closer at your picture trying to figure it out; was it just a smirk on your face or a happy smile? At the end of your post and comments I started to crack up when I realized you are an adult and I was totally clueless. I am really enjoying your posts and glad to know a little more about you. I still think that you are rambling all over but with a good array of ideas and I love it! It works!!! Then again this is just a comment from someone that is still learning English of whom some believe doesn’t deserve to be on a college level English class.
    Carlos (I will have a taste of Diet coke one of these days : ) )

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Dear Carlos:

      The Universe should listen to your letter — it sounds like you’ve got quite the challenges ahead of you (including but not limited to “Multi-threading software programing,” about which I wouldn’t even know where to start…)

      So: congratulations. You are doing wonderful things by taking these courses, accepting the challenges and bettering yourself … I predict good things in your future (especially if you turn to the Diet Coke side … it’s far tastier…).

      Best of luck to you, and I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my blog. Feel free to stop by any time, even when NOT assigned to do so!

      Take care,


  35. margar7 says:

    Hello Mikalee,

    I am one of the students that commented on your post, and I am so glad for that experience. Because your blog is trully an experience. I felt like you were conveying some deep frustrations and just wanted somebody to listen. I am so glad to have been there for that. Our teacher just wanted to expose us to what a good blog looks like, and what we should strive to create with our own blogs. Since I am new to this whole blogging thing, I was really happy to see such an interesting example and was overall really drawn into your sarcasm and writting style. I thought it was really cool that you took some time to read what we had to say and that you included it into your new post. I’m glad you didn’t taked it into offense.

    As for your most recent blog:
    I am happy to see that the Universe was listening(even if you didn’t believe it) and that you were supplied with more of that carbonated goodness. Honestly I am not a diet-anything fan. I enjoy the real stuff and as for soda it would have to be Dr. Pepper. I guess I’m in the minority with that, haha. I don’t think that the red is a bad thing. Eventhough my favorite color is green, red comes in second, so if I were to decorate my house with that color scheme it would be christmas all year long. I won’t be doing that.

    I wish you the best with your new endeavors and look forward to your next post. 🙂

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      So my blog is “an experience,” huh? I’m hoping that’s a good thing… 😉

      In all seriousness, I’m so glad you’ve stopped by and commented, and I’m honored to be an example of a “good blog” for you and the other UCSF students. Though the irony is, I often tell people I’m a “writer who happens to blog,” certainly not a “blogger.” I wonder if anyone else sees the difference with these two descriptions? Perhaps I’ll just put it “out there,” and see if anyone responds…

      Thank you again for the comment — and you know what? I think nonstop-Christmas as thematic decor would be AWESOME!

  36. zohranaeemi says:


    I am also a student from English class that commented on your first blog. I realy enjoy reading this post as much I did the first one, I like your color schem for your blog and home. It is wonderful that COKE company sent you a new mini- fridge full of Diet Coke . I do not drink any soda, but I am sure it tests good since many of my friends are addicted to coke. I am new to the blogging and my first comment was in your blog as an assignment. It was a great experience because your blog is very interesting and I really like your writing sytle.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow — I was your first?!?! I’m honored.


      Seriously, I’m glad that you all stopped by, and I do hope you found some value in the experience. Of course, all bloggers adapt their own writing style to their personal blogs, but I would be honored to serve as inspiration.

      Best of luck to you as you tackle your own writing — I hope you find it as fulfilling and fun as I do!

  37. krystle says:

    Hey Mikalee,

    It took them long enough! (The Diet Coke Company, that is.) Congratulations though for your new drawer and stock of Diet Coke. I liked how you made the Diet Coke cans blend in with your candles. Although it may seem like you have a problem because your house and blog and outfit(s) all have the same color scheme; you really don’t have a problem. Unless you choose these colors because you have blood and death on your mind as you said (creepy). You are a very big fan of Diet Coke which lead you to like the colors on the can, and you now every time you purchase an item you tend to lean towards red or black. If you wanted to take a break from these colors to change your color scheme, then you should find another favorite item or drink.

    Don’t forget, the Universe is listening 🙂

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Haha — creepy, huh? Well, if you’ve ever been through a completely alarming, blindsiding divorce, you might favor blood and death, too. If only for a little bit…

      Actually, I’m kinda entering a new phase, one highlighted by teal tones. I’ve yet to find the personal inspiration for this color shift — I’ll let you all know if I figure it out. It’s more green than Smurfy and more blue than St. Patty’s Day … still searching…

      Actually, now that I’m looking at it: Maybe it’s WordPress teal!

  38. foo4ulul says:

    Yay for a happy ending. Do you still believe the Universe is not listening? Even if it isn’t, its okay because Coke is here for you, right? 🙂 I don’t think the Universe is listening because I’ve been screwed over plenty enough to be a non-believer. Since when was the last time we’ve found a suitcase full of cash? (I’m sure we’ve all asked for that.)

    I am a big fan of Sprite, but it HAS TO be in a can. It seem to have a different taste depending on which source it comes from. I am curious as to when would Diet Coke taste best. As a die hard Diet Coke fan, I’d thought you’d be the best person to ask. What is the best source for Diet Coke (Can, plastic bottle, soda machine)?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Oh, foo4ulul, we are kindred spirits: My Diet Coke does have an optimum source, but it is not a can. It is the fountain drink dispenser at McDonald’s.

      How’s that for specific?

      In all seriousness, I seek out McDonald’s Diet Cokes. I’m convinced there’s something about the mixture that McDonald’s uses. Every day, I go through the drive thru for one and only thing: A large Diet Coke, extra ice, for a total of $1.08.

      I love $1 Diet Coke!!!

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, and I wish you luck finding that suitcase of cash. It can’t hurt to keep asking, right?

  39. Rimy Chouhan says:

    Congrats on finally having Coke listen to you and giving you that damn refrigerator!! After all, you deserve for being such a huge fan of Diet Coke. I love the color scheme on your blog. It’s really screams at the reader and gives an insight into your blog and personality. From what I can remember, I loved how you had actual pictures of occurring events into your post. I thought that was pretty awesome. Keep up the good work and enjoy your Diet Coke!!!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thank you so much — it’s nice to be appreciated for being a fan. Diet Coke can send me anything, any ol’ time… 🙂

      And I’m glad you enjoy the blog … feel free to stop by any time, even when not required to do so.

      Take care!

  40. bigfish31886 says:

    Do you believe in Karma? Isn’t it funny how things worked out for you?Do you feel like you won? Do you feel you were be treated fairly now? Does complaining publicly always help? Are you happy that you got your way? What happens next? Does coke get an A for customer service? IS THE UNIVERSE LISTENING TO YOU?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Not sure about the whole karma thing, and nope — still not a believer in The Secret. But I do know that words have power, and that effective marketing campaigns are headed by brilliant people … so my hat’s off to Diet Coke!

      And nope, publicly complaining doesn’t always help. Though it probably doesn’t usually hurt…

  41. kitchenmudge says:

    Taking this to its logical conclusion, you could simply approach any number of manufaturers: fashion, auto, beef (Remember actual food?), propane and propane accessories, whatever you need, and offer to write a nice bit in your blog about them. It’s a time-honored tradition called “selling out”.

  42. Dana says:

    I think your decor is fab-don’t change it! And… I am also addicted to diet coke (about 6 a day) and mac and cheese. The boxed kind (hangs head in shame).

    Great blog (as usual)! Looking forward to the next one!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Aw, Dana — I knew we were kindred spirits! I try to limit myself to one (or two) per day. Of course, these are of the 32-ounce variety…

      Thanks for the support, my friend … as always!


  43. John says:

    Ok, a few things…

    1) Please please please wish for me to get a case of whiskey or something. Please?

    2) We all wish we could be supper human, which sort of sounds like a really crappy hilarious superhero who works at a soup kitchen. (I know, it’s lame to pick on spelling, but that one cracked me up)

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You got it: One case of whiskey “or something” coming right up (my guess: The Universe will send you the “or something.” So be prepared: This “something” could take many, many forms…)

      …and I know that I, for one, am “supper human.” Almost every night. When I make my mac–cheese and Lil’ Smokies…

      LOVE IT!

  44. Harper Faulkner says:

    My critique: I like your use of the word “fuck.” It’s never inappropriate and it always aids in the flow of your narrative. While some people might be offended by “fuck,” I am never fucking offended. (Notice the writing technique I used there.) In addition, you have taken the word “shit” to an entirely new level by adding “bat” in front of it. May I suggest in the future you try, “fucking batshit” thus raising the bar to an even greater height. As always, your writing has given me a “shit eating grin.” (Notice the writing technique I used there.) Keep up the good work. Your writing is fucking great and not shitty at all. (I am on a roll.)

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You, my friend, are FUCKING AWESOME. I shit you not.


      I’m glad you can appreciate my literary proficiencies. I know my writing can be a bit cerebral — but some people get it. To the rest — well, fuck ’em.

      Thanks so much for your fucking-batshit-rockin’ comment, Mr. F!

  45. jeanofalltrades says:

    Wow! I read the original post a few months back and this is the best follow-up post I could have ever imagined. Mail from Diet Coke, the realization that you’ve decorated your home to match your favorite soda, and a class assignment requiring students to post comments for credit! I love it all!

    I’ve also noticed that my living room decorated with the colors of a Hires Root Beer Can. This is purely coincidental.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      …you know, as I read your comment, I got to thinking: I’m surprised I didn’t have any readers commenting about how they’ve decorated their homes in beer can colors.

      I think you’re totally OK with the Hires Root Beer colors. That just makes you — well, cool

  46. marilynn99 says:

    I love this. Splendous to be noticed by the College, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps not. But I would.
    Second, I was recently told it is time to give up my Diet Coke. Bad for the health and all that. But then this week, the EU said that one can’t claim that water hydrates the body (seriously, check this link so I figure I may as well go back to my Diet Coke.
    Thirdly, red is my favourite colour so it naturally follows that I love the colour of your blog.
    ‘Nuff said.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I absolutely loved the feedback from the college — it was like a free analysis of my writing! And free is good…

      OK, I’m LOVING this research suggesting that water doesn’t hydrate the body. I’m totally with you: If water isn’t good for you, then might as well go to something that tastes amazing, right?

      Thanks so much for the comment!

  47. trailertrashdeluxe says:

    I love reading your blogs, but would love it more if you would write about the undeniable greatness of Pepsi, rather than Coke. Regular Pepsi, not girly Diet Pepsi. I can’t drink any cola late in the day because of my wussy stomach. I will spare you the gory details, except to say that cola doesn’t think it belongs in some stomachs any more than a whole big bunch of alchohol does. Having your body save your life, by waking you up from choking in the middle of the night, is a freaky experience that is not fun. I envy any cola addicts, Pepsi, Coke, RC, or any other, because they (whichever one’s favorite is) taste so damn good.

    I think that professor is leading his/her students down the wrong path, because it’s obvious (to me) that you have always put Z before W, NOT the other way around, and, right after that, when you talk about LMNOP rather than RSTUV (as an accomplished writer like you should just intrinsically know), that is SO fucked!

    My WordPress settings are screwed; I hadn’t been getting notifications that you were blogging vigorously lately, so I have to catch up now. This one is quite entertaining, as usual.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      WHAT???? PEPSI????

      I shuddered just typing the word. Ewww. But I do have major sympathy toward your cola plight — I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to live a sad, cola-less life. Well, in the afternoons, that is…

      I’m so glad you see the value of my “z before w” writing style. Totally agreed with you on that one!

      …and I’m so grateful you’re back. You’ve been missed!

  48. jenyphero says:

    LMFAO!! Okay, I found your blog through a Freshly Pressed blog on commenting this morning, in which you commented, thus verifying that commenting on other blogs does indeed lead to traffic on your own. I have been reading through your posts for the better part of an hour and am so genuinely entertained! I just felt the need to comment on this one, though, because of that amazingly astute discovery “REALLY YOU’RE LISTENING FUCK LOVES ALL!” Oh my goodness. I am seriously splitting my sides, and I have no idea why. I, too, am divorced, but never had to deal with any of the crazy shit you deal with. I do sympathize, though, because I’m pretty sure my divorce is simply an outlier in the majority of divorces. I’ve seen friends go through so much “you can’t make this shit up” shit, and it really makes me question humanity. Especially when it involves the children. That infuriates me beyond anything. I have to say, you are absolutely fantastic. So many blogs on divorces come across as bitter and jaded, and while you express your pain and frustration, you don’t come across as griping and whining. You just tell it like it is, and as much as I try not to laugh at other’s pain, your take on the bitter irony of it all leaves one entertained. I stand with you, sister, and wish you all the success the Universe has to offer you on becoming version 2.0!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow — what an amazing comment. Thank you so much! Reading feedback like this is what makes it all worth while, so I appreciate that you took the time to leave it for me.

      And I’m SO GLAD that your divorce was an outlier. It’s unbelievable what people put one another through during this process … especially considering we all stood in front of witnesses and vowed our eternal souls and whatnot. But a divorce truly reveals character, and I now know for certain that I’m FAR better off. I deserve better.

      Again, thank you for following the journey. I definitely hope to see you around these parts again and again!

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