Chelsea's Law & Order SVU drinking game

Take a drink when the following occurs. Items in quotation marks must be said out loud. 


“The People request remand, your honor.”

“My office, now.”

Any scene that takes place in a bar.


“She’s so young.”

“Hyoid bone.”


“That’s rape.” 

“Take the day, Olivia.” 

“My therapist says…”

(After getting a phone call) “She didn’t make it.”

“If you call a lawyer then we won’t get to know your side of the story.”

“I believe you.”

“Rat squad.”

“That address is in the Hudson River!”

“Don’t tell my parents.”

Any time a former cast member - from any of the L&O shows - does a cameo.

A character packs a box and leaves the precinct. 

A character has to temporarily turn over their gun and badge.


“Desk duty.”

Olivia drinks a glass of red wine. 

A child points out that Munch has a funny name.

An actor from a previous episode appears in a different role. 

It's not about the moths.

When I lost my husband and my house I thought, at least I won’t have to deal with the moths anymore. Pantry moths. A funny name, since they did not seem to have any interest in our pantry. In fact they were in the TV room, far off the kitchen. Nevertheless I did what the Internet told me and I threw away anything that wasn’t in a can or jar. I cleaned out the pantry on my hands and knees. I went through the drawers in the kitchen, and jettisoned rice and couscous and kettle chips. I wiped down the drawers with bleach. 

The moths laughed. 

These were fat brown moths. They hid in our rattan kitchen blinds and in our silk curtains and a lot of the time they didn’t bother to hide at all, they just sat there on the white walls, clear as day. I didn’t want to kill them at first. Isn’t that hysterical? I’m a vegan (well, a fish, cheese and chocolate eating vegan - don’t ask - it’s complicated). I don’t kill bugs, I trap them under water glasses and release them outside. Ha! 

That lasted a few days. 

Then I got the taste for it. I wetted paper towels and - smack! - a silent murder. The perfect crime. I told myself they didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t either. I could kill a moth and then kill another moth right next to it. Every night, I’d do a patrol. Ten, twenty of them. Every morning, another patrol, another twenty. I ran out of paper towels. 

My husband was already moving out, in his head. That’s the thing about marriages. They don’t end suddenly. The relationship falters, a little bit at a time, right there in plain sight. 

He didn’t seem bothered by the moths. Or maybe he didn’t let himself get bothered by the moths. Me? 

Some nights I felt crazy. Moths are wily, so just when you think you’ve got them all, you’ll see one, right there, on the eyeball of a portrait hanging on a wall, in the fold of a shower curtain, on the leaf of a plant.

When we had to sell the house, it was awful. We’d been there sixteen years. We’d raised our daughter there. I won’t get into that here. Just trust me. It was a thing. But the one bright side - the one silver lining - was that I could escape those moths. 

This would be a fresh start. 

I moved into an apartment in a shiny glass skyscraper with amazing views in downtown Portland. Industrial chic. Concrete ceilings, floor to ceiling windows. You can picture it, right? Can you see me there? Do I look cool? It was much smaller than the house, so I brought the bare minimum from my old life. My next phase, I thought, would be minimalist. I was going to be one of those women who wore black with a statement necklace, a woman with good art, and no clutter. You know the type. You’ve seen her in movies. 

We had a huge yard sale at the old house and I made fifty Goodwill runs and a dump run and I filled two dumpsters - I let go of a lot. My childhood stuffed animals. My baby teeth. My mother’s photographs. Piles of clothes. Hundreds of books. My sticker collection from fourth grade. It’s funny what we keep when we have room, isn’t? I donated a quarter of our furniture to an organization that sets up housing for refugees, or at least said they did. 

It was horrible and incredibly liberating.

I moved downtown. I hung the art. 

A few months later, there was a moth. 

I swear to God.

It was in the guest room. Just chilling on a wall, like it has always been there, not a care in the world. 

I killed it. I didn’t even hesitate.

A moth, smacked against a wall, leaves a stain like someone has just spit out cowboy coffee. 

There were others. Every day, a few more. I’d wake up to them. 

Had they followed me?

Had I brought them with me?

I must have. 

But I had no stored food. My pantry had a can of corn and some jarred pears. My husband had been the one who cooked. 

I was stymied. 

It seemed centered on the guest room. I washed all the bedding. I bought traps. I bought fly swatters. 

The moths seemed to spread from there. Soon they were in the hallway, the guest bathroom, the living room, my bedroom, my bathroom. 

The concrete ceilings? That once seemed so chic? Moth heaven. I had to stand on a chair and extend my fly swatter handles to be able to smack them. Sometimes they’d drop dead to the carpet, sometimes they’d stick up there, another carcass in my growing collection; sometimes I’d miss and they’d flutter, panicked, bouncing off my body as I swatted and squirmed and tried not to fall off the chair.

It’s still happening. 

I kill fifty moths a day.

Today two moths came at me in the shower. Me, naked, wet, batting at them with my hands. 

I can’t leave my apartment. Not overnight. Imagine what I’d come back to? If I didn’t kill them. If I didn't smack them against the wall, pinch them in toilet paper, what would happen? They’d multiply. They’d take over my whole apartment. 

These moths? They’re watching me. 

I was invited to spend two weeks at a writing retreat. I said no. Who would kill the moths? If I wasn’t here, and came back, after two weeks?! Moths would cover every surface, every last thing that’s mine. 

Just between us, they’re getting harder to kill. Like they’re evolving, like they know me. I guess I killed the dumb ones before they could breed. Now, when I pick up a fly swatter, they all scatter.

Finally, I did what people do in this situation. Every Reddit thread exhausted, every effort explored, I called a professional. My building has a pest control guy (another silver lining!). He was here today. He also was puzzled, and could not find the source of the moths, their secret nursery, their origin story. The pantry was clean, he said. He couldn’t find any evidence in the apartment of larvae or webbing. Maybe it was coming from a neighbor’s place? He set a few traps and will come by tomorrow with poison. He said it was best if the dog were out of the house until the poison dried. So the corgi is going to my husband’s apartment, where he’ll be safe. 


I Don't Want to Lose

I don't want to lose a single thread

from the intricate brocade of this happiness.

I want to remember everything.

Which is why I'm lying awake, sleepy

but not sleepy enough to give up.

Just now, a moment from years ago:

the early morning light, the drift, sweet

gesture of your hand

  reaching for me. 

I Don't Want to Lose

I don't want to lose a single thread

from the intricate brocade of this happiness.

I want to remember everything.

Which is why I'm lying awake, sleepy

but not sleepy enough to give up.

Just now, a moment from years ago:

the early morning light, the drift, sweet

gesture of your hand

  reaching for me. 

Want to go on vacation with me?

WE HAVE A FEW MORE SEATS AT: The Ed and Alta Smith Good Karma Writing Retreat in Maui 


Feb 6-11


Wailea, Maui (it’s on the sunny side of the island)

There are a lot of fancy hotels (like, literally, the hotel from White Lotus Season 1) and also cheap condos (hell, yeah, airbnb!) in the area. 

You can also find plenty of other accommodations nearby FOR A LOT LESS. I see a lot of 2-bedroom condos listed for $350 a night. So get on THAT.  Seriously. I’m happy to matchmake roommates. Many of you have been in zoom classes together. 

RETREAT FEE: $2,000. 


You will have to pay 2K for the retreat. (As always I am totally up for payment plans. Or “this is all I can pay” plans.) 

And then you also have to get your airfare and hotel/airbnb. (I have a couple of scholarship rooms, for a couple of nights, and maybe more coming in - I’m on a waitlist for openings.) (A friend has donated resort points.) 

You will NOT have to rent a car. I will have people doing airport pick-ups and drop-offs as well as pick-ups/drop-offs in Wailea (if you choose to stay somewhere other than the Andaz). That said, if you see yourself in a white convertible Mustang, go for it. I SEE you.


It can be what you want/need it to be! I’m going to be offering a late-morning daily meeting for writing talk and prompts, and a daily evening workshop. But also excursions and special guest talks. But hey, if you get there and start writing and decide you want to spend the five days on your balcony with your laptop, that is fine. You can be ALL IN. Or partially IN. Or “tell me when it’s happy hour” IN. I will also be available all-day to take a look at your pages, to cheer you on, to talk writing in a hot tub. 


Absolutely. Obviously your plus one will not be charged the retreat fee. But can still attend the “social” events. Erik is threatening to take you all on hikes. 


Nope. But you can if you want to. 


Nope. But you can if you want to. 


Airfare from Portland to Maui (eg) is $350. Lodging ranges from $175 to as much as you want to pay. 


My T.A., Erik Grove. Erik’s wife. Yours truly. Plus the husband and the daughter. Plus a couple of special guests. I don’t want to announce them until they’re 100% solid. But they’re people I know. And you will like them. 

Basically I’m inviting you all to go on vacation with me. 


Find me on my socials and message me. I’ll let you know my Venmo/PayPal/Zelle handles. Pay the fee to save a seat. Or, you know, some of the fee. 


There will be leis. 


Are you guys listening to The True Crime Enthusiast podcast? Because I'm a little obsessed. 

QUESTION: What are the names of the books in your Archie/Gretchen series?

Hi! Thanks for asking. This is SUCH a good question. And one that I get asked A LOT. So here you go. (I moved away from the "heart" theme three books in, and I think this confused some people. I'm sorry!) In order. 

They are:







The birdcage


When my mother was dying, she bought a bird.
It was a finch. Or maybe a parakeet.
She named the bird “Vida.” That’s Spanish for “life.” My mother embraced language with the recklessness of a poet, without fear of jinxes.
My mother put the bird in a cage.
It was a pretty cage. An Asian antique, all varnished wood, about the size of a carry-on roller bag.
But life finds a way, and Vida was an escape artist. She squeezed through the varnished wooden slats and fluttered around our apartment until my mother cupped Vida in her hands and slid her back through her cage door.
We had a problem. The space between the slats were too wide, or maybe the bird was too small.
My mother came up with a plan. She bought thin copper wire and hand blown glass beads and she started weaving the wire, over and under the slats, around the cage, threading beads along the way, filling the gaps.
If this sounds like it wouldn’t take long, you have never attempted to thread wire around a bird cage. Each trip around took twenty feet of wire. Then, a centimeter up, another circle of wire. Over and over again.
It took hours, every day. For the better part of a week. Friends and family would come over and help, fingers bleeding from the wire. We couldn’t do anything about the cancer ravaging my mother’s body, but we could sure as hell find a way to keep a bird in a cage.
Have I mentioned the cat?
Her name was Girlfriend.
She wasn’t our cat. She’d just appeared at the door to our apartment one day - a huge long-haired dog of a cat - probably a Maine Coon. She swaggered into our living room and stretched out on the couch.
Girlfriend wasn’t her real name. Her collar didn’t have one listed, just a telephone number. And she didn’t seem lost. So we never called it.
“Hello, girlfriend,” my mother called her. And it stuck.
After that the cat came to visit several times a week.
There is a superstition about cats visiting the dying. If a cat shows up and sleeps on your chest, you’ll be dead by morning. There’s science behind this it turns out - people who are dying have elevated body temperatures - and there’s nothing cats like more than a warm place to nap.
So maybe the cat knew that my mother was running hot.
We took to leaving the front window open, so the cat could come and go as she pleased.
When we came home to the empty bird cage we thought at first that Vida had managed to escape again. Then we found a single small green feather on the living room floor and Girlfriend grinning in the corner.
Maybe Vida made it out. It’s a nice story, right?
Maybe Girlfriend ate her.
We never found a trace of the bird, except for that one feather. The cage was wired as tight as a drum.
Life is mysterious.
I know this: My mother died a few weeks later.
I didn’t see Girlfriend again until after the funeral, after all the well-wishers had come and gone. Then one day she sauntered in. I burst into tears. I had missed her. I called the number. “Do you have a cat?” I asked.
“Yes,” a man said.
“I think I have it,” I said.
The man gave me his address and I carried the cat to a big old craftsman style house about five places away from us around the block. I was seized by a crazy desire to keep that cat. To explain that the cat had been ours, my mother’s and mine, and that my mother had just died and I would soon be moving, and could I take the cat with me to my new apartment?
An elderly man opened the door. “Milton!” he said when he saw the cat.
Girlfriend, it turned out, was not a girl.
“He gets out,” the man said.
Milton meowed at him and the man took Milton from my arms and held him close.
I never saw Milton again after that. I moved to a new apartment. Then to a new city. But, twenty years later, I still think of him fondly - or rather her, our cat, our Girlfriend.
Vida’s cage hangs in my home office, where I write.
Sometimes I think, maybe I should buy a bird?
But that’s ridiculous, right? These choices, they lead to heartache.
Instead - in the cage - there’s another kind of bird — it’s not real - it’s an old Christmas ornament - but it’s precious, because it was my mother’s.
We all hold onto things.



Syndicate content