23 January 2015

I said it last year and I'll say it again (even though I did it anyway): Disneyland is not the place for a bunch of writers and indie publishers to try to be all professional and get things done, and I'm not doing it next year. Unless I change my mind, because, DISNEYLAND.

We got there late Monday afternoon, in time to meet up with the Boy and his fantabulous girlfriend (seriously, he has to keep her. We have decided) before they left (they were there over the weekend, couldn't stay an extra day) and then headed for the ticket booth to upgrade our 5 day park hopper tickets for season passes, so that we have an excuse to go there for something other than failed indie publishing things and then can meet up with the people we really want to see. We have family in the area, and friends, and so far have had time blocked off that's made it impossible to make any other plans. So now we'll be able to.

But...the Indie Pub Panel, which in spite of some wishes was not intended to be held in a bar, wound up being started in a bar, and I was not there to witness the best part of it.

The night before we got there, while those who were already there got together for drinks, The Queen called two of the male writers in attendance "flaming faggots," to which they took umbrage, and they called her on it. Her husband backed her up and got in their faces...words flew, then fists.

I missed the drunk writer fist fight. Dammit.

In any case, it set an unhappy tone and a lot of people left. I don't know if they went home or just decided to go into Disneyland and forget the panel, but if they went home they made a mistake, because the weather was perfect and the crowds were super light, so when The Spouse Thingy and I headed out to the parks in the afternoon, we had a great time.

We did so much in just 2 afternoons--got on pretty much every ride we wanted in less than 10 minutes, and then rode them 3-4 times--that yesterday we just kind of wandered around until our feet seriously hurt. We'd planned on trying to see a show or two in order to sit for a while, but somehow managed to be on the wrong side of the park every time...which was still fine, because we did everything we'd wanted and then some, and now that we have the passes we can go back and see those another time.

And in spite of saying we wouldn't buy more than one t-shirt each because we already have t-shirts, I think we both left with a couple of them.

But the one thing I almost bought but didn't?

 If I could have justified it--like where I would ever wear it--I totally would have.

Maybe next time. Not sure when that will be--don't want to impose on the Grandma to watch the cats too often even though they totally love her--but in order to make the passes worth it we kinda have to go back at least twice more this year. at Disneyland before it gets too hot? We should totally have a party.

16 January 2015

Dear Lady in the grocery store whose kid was having a total meltdown in the cart,

Look, every parent has to go through that. You head into the store to grocery shop, stick the kid in the seat of the cart, and all the sudden the earth is melting and OH HELL NO he’s not going to put up with that, so the crying starts.

He’s not even trying to get you to put things into the cart he wants you to get. He just doesn’t like the way the world is tilted on its axis today, and he’s going to let everyone in the store know about it. It’s not a temper tantrum and there’s nothing wrong; he’s just having a moment the only way his 20 month old brain can.

No one was glaring at you; I’m sure you felt the sting of a thousand dagger-like stares slam into you, but truly, no one really cared. He was loud, but kids are loud. It wasn’t a big deal. It especially wasn’t a big deal to me until I heard you lean over to say to him, “You are a bad boy. A BAD boy.”

I sighed, sad for him. And then a few minutes later when I heard it again, telling him he was such a bad boy, my heart broke for him.

Here’s the thing. He’s not a bad boy. He’s a toddler with no way to express himself when something is bothering him, other than to cry. He doesn’t have the words. He doesn’t have the cognitive ability to realize that the thing that is bothering him will be over with soon, and things will get better. There is nothing in his realm of existence to tell him that crying because something is just a little off is anything more than getting you to listen.

He’s not bad.

He’s a little boy.

But I guarantee you, if you keep telling him that he’s a bad boy, if that’s your go-to response when he acts in ways you wish he didn’t, at some point he’s going to believe that about himself. Kids will tuck the things said to them about themselves into a deep, dark place in their souls, and eventually it becomes Identity.

You are the person to whom he looks for not only the pieces to the puzzle that will form the picture of who he will be, but also the way those pieces fit together. Every time you tell him he’s bad becomes another piece to his puzzle. Piece after jagged piece after jagged piece.

How many pieces of that puzzle do you want to be colored with the idea I'm a bad person?

Look, I know you love him. I know you’re frustrated and probably embarrassed because his crying is that loud and that unwarranted, but he’s not going to stop because he doesn’t know what’s wrong. He’s just being an upset little boy, and that’s okay. Even though his cries are that loud, he still hears you…and what would you rather have settle into his brain? You’re a bad boy? Or maybe I know, we’ll be done soon, I’m sorry you’re upset.

It’s not a temper tantrum, He's not throwing things, hitting, kicking, yelling at you, flat-on-his-back-on-the-floor refusing to move; he’s just crying.

Over the next 20 years he will do endless things to upset you; he will engage in behaviors of which you will not approve. He will do things that could be called bad, but there’s a huge difference in doing the things kids do as they grow and learn and make mistakes and actually being bad.

There are no bad boys stuff into toddler sized shoes.

He’s not a bad boy.

He’s not.

Not yet.


12 January 2015

I understand that people online exaggerate, bluff, brag, and outright lie about the minutiae of their lives. Typically, that doesn’t bother me. I don’t care if you’re a 62 year old housewife from the Midwest who lives on the Internet as a 25 year old blonde with a huge rack. I don’t care if you’re a basement dweller who hasn’t seen much daylight for the last ten years but put yourself out there as a hard core biker with a farkled-out Harley Road Glide.

I don’t care because there’s not a lot of chance that someone will get hurt by whatever fantasy you’re living online. Suit yourself. If you’re not using your online persona for monetary gain, or to inflict pain on someone else, no big deal; if you do it to protect yourself, go for it.

But if you play the cancer card, or any serious illness card, if you put out there that you’re battling a horrific disease when the truth is that there’s not a damn thing wrong with you…I care about that. And I judge you HARD for it.

People do get hurt by that. You’re not only toying with peoples’ emotions and deep fears, you’re detracting from those who do have those illnesses. And when you’re found out, you also call into question the people whose lives are legitimately consumed by the simple act of trying to stay alive. You lie, you get caught, and people start looking hard at others who are fighting the fight you supposedly were. After all, if one person can try to get away with it, why wouldn’t someone else?

Here’s the thing: that lie isn’t sustainable. Face it, if you lie about having breast cancer, you’re going to trip up on the details and those who know a whole lot more about it than you do are going to figure it out. If you pile on top of that some fairly unlikely scenarios—oh, I had breast cancer for a few weeks last year but I’m all better now because I swallowed the red pill and had 3.2 x-rays while I hopped up and down on one foot—you’re adding flash to bring out the details of the picture you’re trying to get everyone to accept.

In the last year I’ve come to be made aware of three different people who are most likely lying about their diseases. Things just don’t add up. The devil is in the details, and these devils lack the highlights and lowlights that make their stories plausible. I’m not the only one sitting here puzzling it out; we’re all doing the same math and getting different answers.

Why does it matter?

It matters because we know others who truly are battling illness and disease, and our hearts break for what they’re going through.

It matters because things like this make people care, make people cry, make people hit their knees and beg the high power of their belief system to grant mercy to someone who’s just making up things as they go along.

It matters because it makes people feel impotent, being unable to do something to just fix it, to wish away the disease and everything it brings; it spurs people into getting online and checking every day, two or three or a dozen times, just for good news about the person they care about.

It matters because it’s mean.

Pretending to be John Doe, artist extraordinaire, doesn’t matter; that’s your own fantasy world and as long as you’re not asking people for money or other things, it hurts no one. Pretending to be Jane Doe, cancer victim, is so many kinds of wrong I can’t even begin to count them all.

If you are doing this, or have done this, you suck.

People know, and you suck.


10 January 2015

It's no secret that I have an unnatural and perhaps over-the-top love of Doctor Who. Just sitting here in my office, I can see three TARDISes without really looking. I own t-shirts and Who Monopoly and other assorted Who things. I have a Who tattoo.

So when I was gifted this--

--a leather-bound replica of River Song's journal, I'm frankly surprised I didn't wet myself.  It's solid and substantial, and has the feel of leather that once broken in will be so, so soft.

It also has this:

Pages that look weathered and worn.

I totally less than 3 this...but what am I going to use it for? Seriously. Whatever I write in it has to be worthy of using pages in it. Other journals I've used for scribbling notes about storyline and character traits. I've doodled in them. Tossed them aside once the manuscript was done.

But this...this has to be for something special, and right now I haven't a clue what that will be.


9 January 2015

Ramble, ramble...

I belong to a couple of smallish writers’ and indie publishers’ groups online. I lurk in a few, actively participate in those small ones, and have left behind at least a dozen because of the utter lack of professionalism in them. No, I don’t think it needs to be all business nor overly formal, but if we’re there to discuss and dissect the nuts and bolts of publishing, then let’s do just that and save the personal pokes and jabs for elsewhere.

That doesn’t mean I follow my own credo all the time. I am just as guilty of straying off topic and doing it in a less than professional manner as anyone else.

The Independent Publishers Panel (aka Indy Pub Panel) is coming up again, and in spite of what we all said last year—Disneyland is a bad place to try to be all adult and get work things accomplished—it’s being held in the same venue. Apparently the lesson learned there needs to be reinforced, something no one is really complaining about. But, no, I did not want to deliver the main “panel” at this thing.

I’m not sure talking about my cat writing books and actually making sales is something I could talk about for an hour. I’m not adverse to a hearty 10 minute discussion with a few people, but just me talking to 19 other people? No one really wants that. I doubt I could do it and maintain any sense of professionalism. Especially if given enough mojitos to get me to open my mouth.

And that’s the crux: being professional, even for an event involving people who mostly know each other. I don’t think it matters if the event is small or large, filled with people who know each other well or not; if we’re going to be involved in making indy publishing a established profession, then we need to act like it.

And I might be a little touchy about it, having been the target of a very unprofessional attack on my work this past year. I was not happy to get unsolicited criticism as it is, but it was the complete lack of professionalism in how that criticism was given that made me take a step back. It surprised me that someone putting themselves out there as a professional would engage in what was essentially an expletive-laden and unhelpful pseudo-review.

This indy group has one particular member who is bluntly opinionated and not kind about it. She really does deserve a reality call, and because she has some truly warped ideas about the content of character where people who have tattoos and brightly colored hair are concerned, that reality call could come from me. It might come from me. But I would hope that I, along with everyone else, can maintain some semblance of being an adult at work, and that none of us lose sight of the fact that we are in a growing industry, and if we can’t get a grasp on what it means to be a professional in it, we’re only going to contribute to its potential downfall.

The workday isn’t 24 hours; we can all go be true to our inner 8 year olds at the end of the day. Or by lunchtime, if last year was a predictor (and I suspect it might be.)

The Queen can be dethroned, just not during the conduct of business. And dethroning the Queen does not also mean being an ass about it.

(Although, it would give me a fleeting, very momentary thrill to pop off with Bitch, you might be the Arbiter Queen of Everyone’s Morality, but I’m the freaking Drag King of All, and my crown is a lot bigger and a whole lot more fabulous, so shutity shut up.)

Yeah, no. I wouldn’t ever actually say that because the .75 second thrill would be followed by the angst of having hurt someone’s feelings, and no matter how well deserved, I just don’t want to do that.

But hell yeah, I might think it.

Thinking but not saying…that’s professional, right?

(It's highly likely I won't even see Her Majesty, so...)

And yes, my hair will be pink. That’s totally professional.

Yes it is.


5 January 2015

File this under chit I absolutely don't need but really kinda want:

Not sure where to get it, but I might have to go surfing for it.


2 January 2015

All right, so I want to eat better in 2015. So what did I do today? I left the house after 1 pm without having eaten anything at all, so after mailing a package I swung by McD’s before heading to Starbucks, where I will endeavor to write as many run-on sentences as I can, because…the Influence of Buddah Pest.

It was pretty busy, but this McD’s is fairly efficient, so I didn’t have to wait long for my 6 chicken nuggets and small drink (no I don’t know why I ordered a small when a large is the same size.) I got my tray and say down, and as I bit into the first nugget a teenager with an attitude problem was at the counter, yelling—loudly—at the cashier because she handed him a medium cup instead of a large.

Same price and all that, but he’d ordered a combo meal, and that comes with a medium.

He didn’t care.

He yelled until he turned red, practically spitting as he ramped up, leaning into the counter with his hands flat on it. The cashier took a protective step back, the guy in line behind the kid took a step forward, the manager was running from the restroom, when at the door came a bellow that stopped everyone in their tracks.

Lesson this kid probably learned today? When you live in a small town, your Mom just might go to the same place as you for lunch.

The air crackled with the electricity of her anger, and it went quiet as she barked out his name, followed with a disappointment-laden, icy, loud, How dare you?

Yes, Markus, the rest of us wondered as well, How dare you?

She stomped toward her son, who stood there with his mouth hanging open and eyes turning red with tears he was fighting, and she lit into him.

I am so ashamed. I cannot believe that you would treat anyone like this.

Markus tried to defend himself, but with one swipe of an index finger pointed at him, she went on. I don’t care if she spit in your food. You do not treat anyone like this. You never treat someone without respect.

He managed to nod.

Your apology had better be real.

And it was. He was as apologetic as I have ever seen anyone, but the blow came afterward, when he had said he was really sorry, after she had told him to put his bicycle in the back of her car, and grounded him for two weeks.

You are not the man I thought you were.

Markus’s tears broke free, slipped over his cheeks, and he looked broken. He apologized again and ran out the store. His mother apologized profusely to the cashier and everyone around her before following him out.

By the time I finished my last chicken nugget, people had just begun to talk again, still stunned at the entire display. I got up, shoved my trash into the can and walked out toward my car.

Markus’s mother was parked two slots away; he was slumped in his seat, head leaning against the window, and she was crying her eyes out.

Markus wasn’t the only one broken today.

I truly hope they can heal.


1 January 2015

New year, new me, eat better, excessive more, yadda yadda yadda. 2014 went out with more of a sigh than a bang, which is perfectly fine with me. When the clock tripped over from 11:59 12/31/14 to 12:00 1/1/15, I was sitting in bed, reading with the TV on, listening to Buddah snore from his perch on top of the kitty tower in the corner, and that was exactly what I wanted to be doing.

We've never been big NYE partiers. There were a few memorable ones when we were in North Dakota and then Ohio, but otherwise we pretty much stick to home, even if the Spouse Thingy isn't working. It's quiet and boring, if you're looking in from the outside. But really, I think you want to spend the last moments of the old year with the person you want to spend the last moments of the new year with, and quiet and boring isn't so bad.

After over 3 decades, it's a nice place to be.

And 2014 was pretty good to me. Other than a couple of nuisance head colds and an ill-timed virus, I felt pretty good during the year. I went places; I had a blast at Disneyland--never mind the Indy Pub Panel, we had a good time--and I got on a plane by myself and didn't freak out. I got a book finished and into distribution. I participated in a few charity events and raised a bit of money for them. I reclaimed my want of riding and bought the bike I should have gotten 3 years ago. I got to see my son in a bunch of plays over the summer. I got to see him in the lead of Cuckoo's Nest and own the role.

It was a good year.

I'm not big on making resolutions, but I think 2015 will be the year of moving more and eating better, pretty much what I wanted for 2014 (and kinda did!). Doing and seeing more. No grand proclamations of dropping 100 pounds and tackling a marathon; I just want to do more for myself, go places and see things, even if that just means driving into SF and seeking out the lesser known things to do.

I might get on a plane again. Okay, well I know I will this month, but I won't be alone for that. I just might fly somewhere all by myself again. The Pink Slips are walking in Philadelphia this year and I'd like to be there. I'd like to slam dunk a 3 Day, walk in one without getting sick.

First up for this year is the Donna Virtual Half Marathon. And after that...I'll find new events and new endeavors, and have myself a truly spiffy, wonderful, amazing 2015.


24 December 2014

17 December 2014

Many years ago I received a card in the mail; I can't tell you if it was a birthday card, a Christmas card, or just a random thinking-of-you card. Those details were lost to the aftermath of what was in the card.


Not just a little glitter glued to the cardstock; no, the person who sent me the card filled it with loose glitter, and I assume laughed at the cleverness of it and the mental image of me opening the card and getting glitter all over myself.

The real problem was that I opened my mail while sitting at my desk, and all that glitter spilled onto my not-old-at-all laptop computer. One that at the time we could barley afford, but I was working on the last draft of my first book and had a deadline, and I was going to school at the same time, so a laptop became more of a necessity than a luxury. And back then, they weren't cheap; the equivalent system now would be three hundred tops, but that one cost us $1200. That was a freaking lot back then.

I opened that card, the glitter went everywhere, including the nether regions of that laptop, and it never worked the same.

Within a few weeks, it just sort of stopped.

I was not amused when I opened the card, not amused as I tried to clean the mess up, not amused as I desperately tried to get it out of the computer, not amused as the computer died. Not once was I amused.

Even if the laptop hadn't been right there and taken the brunt of the glitter bomb, I would not have been amused.

It's not funny, people.

I was reminded of this while poking through the Secret Santa subreddit on Reddit, when someone posted a picture of a card they're sending along with the gift; it's clearly labeled on the envelope that the card contains glitter, which is at least something...but still, I would not be a happy recipient.

Don't be the douche who thinks it's funny. It's not. That glitter gets everywhere, sticks to everything, it hard to clean up, and if you have little kids or pets, there's the additional worry that they'll get into it before it can be cleaned up.

It's one of those things that the mental image is funny but the reality is not. So please...don't.


13 December 2014

Things like this are why I love my friends, and also find them a little disturbing:


3 December 2014

I've had a story bubbling in the back of my head for over two years; it tends to work its way forward for a few minutes every night as I fall asleep, and I have a grasp on the bigger details of it, and of the characters...except for their names.

This is a first for me. I usually have names well in hand before I know much about the characters to which those names will be attached, but even though I can see their faces, know their ages and some of their quirks and likes, I've renamed them a dozen or more times.

I also know this will be a newer genre for me; it has the feel of a young adult novel, so instead of jumping right into it, I think I'll take he rest of this year to load my iPad with YA books and just enjoy myself without worrying about working. Max will also take a break and let his ideas simmer...and hopefully there will be another Max book.

And on that front...I've been taken to task a couple of times for the cost of the print version of his latest book. Amazon is not discounting it yet and at $11.95 for a 140 page book, yes, that price point is high.  Higher than I'd like, but other than essentially working for free, it's where the book had to priced.

Prices aren't just pulled out of a hat like a angry rabbit; there's the cost of printing and the costs associated with distribution. In order to get stores to make it available for order, they require a fairy hefty discount up front, generally 55%. Print costs run about $3.80 per book.

11.95 - 55% = 6.57 ... leaving 5.38
5.38 - 3.80 = 1.58

That's roughly the royalty on the sale of one copy of Epistle through distribution channels.

I still have to pay income tax on that.

I kinda think my work is worth a buck and a half a copy.

Still...twelve bucks is a lot for a book that short; we ordered 50 copies at cost and Max has been selling them for $6.50 + shipping on his blog. It's less money for interested readers and in the end nets about $2.70 pre-tax.

But I do hear you about the cost of a short book.

The Kindle version is a much better buy--especially if you have Amazon Prime. You can borrow it and read it for free.

I'd go that route, personally. And I generally preferring buying books, but I'm totally down with the masses reading it for free *if* they get it from Amazon. I'm not down with anyone sticking it online and sharing it that way. That's just...mean.


28 November 2014

Max woke me up at 6:30 this morning to announce that, while it was not yet Food O'clock, the hour was rapidly approaching and it would be a good idea if I started to wake up so that I'd be able to open a can without slicing my thumb open.

I assume that's what he meant when he jammed a paw full of fur up my nose and began meowing at me nonstop.

I rolled over and tried to ignore him because it was six-thirty in the freaking morning and I don't do morning, but he was persistent and the thought that just one week ago not only had I been awake at that hour, I'd been awake for a good 3 hours and I was standing in a mass of pink people, in the rain, ready for the 3 Day opening ceremonies to start.

We won't melt...I think
At the hotel, as we boarded the bus to the Del Mar fairground where opening was, the rain was coming down at a fairly steady rate, but by the time we got there it lifted quite a bit and then stopped. People gathered under gray clouds and dodged huge puddles in the parking lot, but the mood was overwhelmingly positive and the atmosphere bubbling with excitement.

If we were going to get wet, we were going to get wet, and there was no reason to be upset about it.

I'm usually mentally itchy during opening because I just want to get started, but it felt different this year. I did want to get going, but I also wanted to soak it all in; Nicole Hercules and Jim Hillman--people I admire--walked every event this year and were speaking at opening and I wanted to hear, so I pushed back the itch and paid attention.

Once we did get going, after slowly making our way out of the fairgrounds, trying to not step in the deep puddles that would have meant blisters early on, turning the corner and heading down the first street we would walk on, the clouds parted, the sun came up, and the most beautiful rainbow appeared.

The walkers might have been prepared to pound out all 22 miles of the day in the rain, but we weren't going to have to. It was absolutely beautiful and the temps were perfect.

Photo by DKM...I loved the view
More amazing than the temps were the views. Day 1 was filled with incredible beauty and I'm pretty sure that in the first ten miles I uttered more than once, "I have to come back here."

Seriously, I have to go back.

I did jump on the sweep van--there was no way this back was making it up the hill in Torrey Pines and my hat goes off to everyone who did it--which meant I got back to camp a little earlier than most of the rest of the team, which in turn meant I had time to set up our tents.

I got pretty freaking good and putting those little tents up. I think I feel more accomplished about that than anything else.

It's probably a good thing I have that to feel good about, because the rest of the walk didn't go anywhere near what I planned.

The view from my tent
Some context--around a week and a half before the 3 Day, I posted this on the San Diego page:

My annual PSA to newby walkers: if, in a short period of time, more than 3 people ask if you're all right, you're probably not all right. Learn from my Atlanta 2011 mistake: that many people asking means you look a bit off, and you might not realize you're heading into trouble. Take a moment to do a real assessment: am I really drinking enough, did I skip that last pit or grab-n-go and don't have enough fuel on board, am I just tired or is this the feeling of heading into Something Not Good?
And if in those people who are asking how you are someone suggests they get a sweep van for you...let them flag down a sweep for you. Don't let the want of walking every step of the 60 miles cloud your judgment. There's no shame in sweeping, and the van drivers need *someone* every now and then.
Your fellow walkers are your best friends on this walk. They have your back. And have an AWESOME 3 Day!

Now, you think I would keep my own advice in the forefront of my brain.

You probably know where this is going.

I felt a little off on the first day, but I chalked that up to having gotten up at 4:00 in the morning after not enough sleep, and also to a very long downhill we walked where there was little to no shade. Heat + me = yuck, so I assumed I was just feeling the effects of the heat. No big deal; I kept up on my fluids, so a little sleep would fix that.

I felt a little off when I got up, but of course I did. I slept in a tent and my sleeping bag zipper kept popping open, exposing my giant asterisk to the cold. I got dressed and headed for the dining tent, where the smell of food convinced me that I was not going to be able to eat, but hey, I'll take a granola bar with me and then chow down at the first pit stop.

As I headed for my team I got the first, "Are you all right?"

Then, "You don't look so hot."

Still...I headed out and only bent over to dry heave a couple of times. At one point I considered getting on the bus that skips the first part of the walk and heads for lunch, where I could walk out the rest of the day, but decided to push on.

As we scanned out of camp: Are you okay?

I walked on...until we reached a point where getting anywhere required going up some stairs and it hit me: I cannot make those stairs. I will pass out and then barf, choking to death on my own vomit.

I turned around and headed back to camp, determined to just get on that bus and walk the second half of the day. I pushed my way through the sea of walkers ("Hey, you're going the wrong way!") and bumped into a few people from my team, told them I was heading back, and was asked if I wanted to go to medical.

I was headed for the bus.

Jennifer, team co-captain, kindly escorted me back to camp and I'm pretty sure she mentioned more than once I should go to medical, but I was looking for the bus.

I ended up in medical.

I stayed in medical until 1 p.m., when I felt a little better and no longer looked like death warmed over. I was cleared to do whatever I wanted, but there was no way to get back out onto the route, so I walked around camp. I knocked out 8 miles just walking around camp, sticking close enough to the med tent and people to have help if I suddenly crashed and burned.

I felt decent--I ate dinner, stayed in the dining tent through the camp show and spent some time with my team--one major thing I wanted to do in the first place--and then went to bed secure in knowing I would be able to walk the last day.

Being red-carded involves an actual red card

I woke up feeling like crap, but hey, that was residual, right? I headed for the dining tent, passed a team mate who said I didn't look good at all, smelled the eggs and bacon and noped myself right out of there. I crawled back in my tent, hoping that resting a little bit more would work.

Not much later Jennifer was there... "You want to go to medical?"

No, I did not want to, but I finally took my own advice and listened to someone sane before trying to formulate my own plan for getting back out on the route.

The doctor in the tent determined I was not lacking physical or metal fortitude: I had a virus. I was actually ill. He took my credentials--necessary to walk--and red-carded me.

My Sunday view
I was officially done.

This was my view for most of the day...I spent it on a cot, looking out the front door of the lunch-area medical tent, watching other walkers stream through.

A couple hours into my boredom Terri Parsons, FB friend and Max fan, showed up to keep me company for a while. I started feeling better and was given a couple of tiny cookies to nibble on, then a sandwich I ate a part of, but I couldn't go anywhere until a team mate came to rescue me. I'm not sure of the logic, but I think they wanted to make sure I wasn't going to wander around and pass out somewhere alone, and that I wasn't going to try to sneak onto the route for the last 5 miles.

I kind of wanted to, to be honest. It was only 5 miles. I felt like I could do it, but by then I had accepted the inevitable. I knew I didn't not walk because I suck at it, I was actually sick. And I was pretty sure I was actually sick not because of the doc, but because the Spouse Thingy texted from home, where he was puking his toenails up...we both had it.

The Pink Slips
I did make it to the closing ceremony.

I did get to walk with my teammates.

Other than a lot of walking, I got to do pretty much everything that was important to me--I spent time with my team, I met a lot of new people, and witnessed some pretty amazing things.

According to my pedometer, I managed about 30 miles over the 3 days, and while those weren't largely out on the route with everyone else, I'm totally counting them. Half the distance is better than standing still. Half is about what I expected to do if I had been out there on the route.

So there was some disappointment, most of it in myself until I had confirmation that I didn't feel like crap because I just don't have what it takes to face that walk anymore--I really worried about that--and that the Spouse Thingy also had what I had, but overwhelmingly it was a wonderful weekend.

I'd stay here again!
I got on the plane. By myself. I wasn't happy, but I didn't throw up or pass out;  the Spouse Thingy dropped me off on Thursday and I got myself from bag check-in to actually being on the plane, and it didn't kill me (though to be honest, I was at my limit by the time we landed.)

DKM picked me up from the airport, sparing me having to find a cab; Jenna took me back on Monday, saving me the $$$ for a cab. But I got through the airport and flew home. That's a bigger deal than it seems.

And the view from my room Sunday night? Holy hell, cannot complain about that, not at all.


13 November 2014

One week from today I'm flying down to San Diego and one week from tomorrow is the first day of the 3 Day, and I think I'm more excited about this walk than I've been a in a couple of years. I'm not sick this year (knock on wood) which helps...the only iffy art for me is the whole getting on an airplane and flying thing.

Everyone on the team has met at least their minimums so we can all walk, and overall the team has raised (so far) $26,000.

Not too shabby!

A few people have mentioned on Facebook wanting to cheer the walkers on and bringing me cold drinks (because YOU LOVE ME! and support my addictions.) There are some designated places for people to wait and cheer walkers on each day, and from those places you an easily see where the walkers are headed (there are arrows.)

The official Spectator Info page is here [clicky]. It lists where all the cheering stations are and there's a link to email someone about setting up a private cheering station (but must be emailed by tomorrow, November 14th.)

My team is the Pink Slips...we have spiffy t-shirts which may or may not help in spotting us, but the front looks like the picture to the right.

I'd say look for my pink hair, but trust me, that won't be unusual amongst the potential 3000+ walkers.

One week, though! I wouldn't be going without all your incredible support, so THANK YOU! This walk means a lot to me, perhaps because I'm feeling pretty decent for the first time in a couple of years, and it's the launch point for a renewed Get Thumper In Better Shape effort. So for the next week keep your cooties away!


10 November 2014

In line at the 'Bux. Woman close to my age is behind me, making small talk, when seemingly out of nowhere:

Her: That's a lovely wedding ring. How long have you been married?

Me: Pushing thirty three years.

Her: Really? But..? [look of confusion] [awkward silence]
Her: But, I thought...

Me: I'm not gay.

Her: Well, that's  shame. You would be a FABULOUS gay.

Okay,  admit, I laughed. I WOULD make a fabulous gay person.


1 November 2014

Today would have been my mom's 83rd birthday. This afternoon when I was poking around online, feeling many regrets about the fact that I'd eaten apples 3 days in a row and for me that is a Mistake with a decided capital M, I started talking to a friend who remembered, and who mused that the day must make me miss her even more.

I do miss her.

It probably sounds hard-hearted, but birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day...those days don't make me miss her anymore than I do any other day. She's there in the ether of my brain every day--as is my dad and my father-in-law--and I think about her every day. I miss them all, but milestone days do not add to that.

Perhaps it's a personal defect; I don't know. I just know that the feeling of missing my mother is not increased by what particular day it happens to be.

 But it does make you wish she was still here, right?

No. really depends. Would she be here happy and healthy and whole, or would she be as she was just before she died, not quite all there and not really herself?

If she could be here happy and healthy, yes. I would like that very much. My world would feel a little bit more right if she were. But if she was here just to be here, that her continued existence meant her mind was still slipping and her body a mass of betrayal, my dad was gone, and she was miserable, then no.

Why would I wish that?

I will embrace the fact that I miss her every day, because it means that she mattered; the fact that it's her birthday? It's a day I can be grateful that she was ever alive, and grateful for what she left behind, my sisters and all the grandkids, and all the wonderful memories they have of her. We all miss her.

Every day.

But especially today? No. I'd rather think that today she made my dad hop from a cloud on which he was comfortable to a cloud she wanted to visit, where she partied on with her own parents and the brothers who are there with them, and their friends who have also passed on.

I suspect she's having a grand time.

Here's the thing...I think if we believe there's something after this, then holding onto grief so tightly that it impedes our lives is not only a disservice to ourselves, but a dishonor to the people we love. Yes, miss them. That hole where they were isn't going away...but it can be filled with things other than darkness and misery. It can be filled with gratefulness and happiness for the fact that not only did we get to love them in the first place, but that they're in a pretty spiffy place right now.

I miss my mom; I think about her every day. But I'm not steeped in grief, because I think that would be a huge dishonor to her and what she would want for me...that is not what she would want.

I'm happy that she's with my dad. With her parents. With some of her siblings. I'm happy that she's free of the body that was betraying her. And I know, without a shred of doubt, that she's having a happy birthday.


21 October 2014

From the This Weekend at the ‘Bux files…

Sitting here staring at the computer screen, pretending to be engrossed in work; at the long table in front of me are two women talking loudly, and I overheard one ooze, “Oh, hun, I’ve been married for five years. When you’ve been married as long as I have…”

It took great personal restraint to not laugh and then say, “Aww, that’s adorable.”

Five whole years!

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

There’s a guy across the room with his little girl. He has a tattoo running from his elbow to his wrist, nothing but outline. She has a pack of markers, and while he reads, she’s coloring in his tattoo. I may croak from the kyoot.

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Remember the lady who didn’t want to sit next to me while waiting for a haircut, who told her husband in a total stage whisper she didn’t want to sit next to “it?” And in another breath called me a faggot?

Yeah. Her. She came in and started to take the table next to me, looked and damn near flinched. I half shrugged and said, “Still not gay.”

She left. Imagine that.

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

There’s a line of people seated at the wall to my right, laptops and textbooks open, concentration and worry etched onto their faces. I think the one kid is giving up, based upon his frustrated faceplant onto his notebook. I’m kind of half watching to see when he sits up, because I’m betting his face will be lined with highlighter ink.

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Because I still can’t put sunscreen on the newest tattoo, I covered it with a hot pink forearm sleeve. A 13-14 year old kid came up to me to ask where I’d gotten it and how much was it, and when I told him he let out a deflated “Awww.” I felt bad enough that if I hadn’t really needed it I probably would have given it to him.

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

WooHoo, I have made enough purchases this year to maintain gold status on my Starbucks card. Which really only means I get free refills on my tea. Yes, I spent who knows how much just to get not have to spend 50 cents for each refill… Well, the gold card is pretty spiffy, too.

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Everyone working here is new. I have to TELL them what I want now. Sheesh.


12 October 2014

From a friend...

The 15 year old is helping my dad get his house ready to move into, and they were in the kitchen, looking at the work to be done. The sink is gross but salvageable, and the 15 year old mused about how to get it clean enough to use.

My dad: You can get that clean. Just use a little elbow grease.

The 15 year old nods in agreement, and then starts going through the cleaning supplies on hand.

15yo: You don’t have any.

Dad: Any what?

15yo: Elbow grease.

To his credit, my dad did not laugh or mock; no, he drove the boy to the nearest big-box hardware store, and had him peruse the aisles for the needed elbow grease. When he couldn’t find it, he didn’t even say anything to my dad, but marched up to the first person in a vest and asked with all seriousness where the elbow grease was.

At this point Dad is almost wetting himself trying to not laugh, but guy in the vest simply asked the boy what he needed it for, and then asked what type of sink he needed to clean, porcelain or stainless, and then guided him to an aisle of cleaning products and picked a strong cleaner off the shelf.

Guy in the vest: This works better than elbow grease, and takes less effort.

Cut to later, we’re having dinner and the 15yo mentioned off-handedly that elbow grease is hard to find, and related the entire story to his siblings. No one can keep from laughing now, and the 19yo explains to him exactly what elbow grease really is.

15yo turned around, looked at his grandfather, and said simply, “Laugh now, old man. I know where you live and I am very patient.”

I think war was just declared, and I can’t wait to see who wins.

This totally sounds like something my dad would have done...maybe not the trip to the store, but I guarantee he would have had me scouring the house for a can of elbow grease.  The difference is, I would have probably been bitching about it, because who wants to get grease all over them, and besides, it's not my sink and I didn't even want to move here.

Yeah, I was that kid.

Still might be.


8 October 2014

Another step along the path leading me to become one of those people my mom would have been afraid of.

This one took right around 5 hours, and wasn't terribly ouchy until the last 30-40 minutes. At one point I was relaxed enough that I kind of drifted off--not asleep but just drifting--and he moved the needle from one side of the tattoo to the other and when it touched my skin my brain went OHMY GOD MY SKIN JUST SPLIT...luckily I didn't jump enough to screw anything up, but I did jump a little.

I totally less than 3 this tattoo; Thumper just looks so happy to be kicking someone's asterisk.

In three weeks, I'm getting another one on the other arm. Not another Thumper (three might be enough, though I'll never say never) but a nice kitty tattoo.

Three weeks after that I was getting started on my legs, but because of the 3 Day--I wouldn't really be able to take care of a fresh tattoo--that one has been delayed until February.

Yep, Big Greg is enough in demand that if you make an appointment now, you're waiting 4 months. This makes me happy because he deserves the following, but I can be impatient and don't want to wait.

OTOH, me not being able to get the tattoo in November means the Spouse Thingy can take it and not have to wait 4 months. Yep, he's going to lose his ink virginity.

Maybe someday, I can get him to dye his hair pink, too.



6 October 2014...part deux

All apparently I was awake around 3 this morning, having had some insight about it not being the right time to die. Tattoos and Doctor Who, which are perfectly valid things to hang around for.


I have no memory of posting the 3:30-ish a.m. update.

In fact, when I got up this morning I was quite happy with the idea that I'd slept like a log, all the way through the night, for once uninterrupted. I suppose it's a good thing I didn't wake up wanting anything that would have had me either driving or burning down the house...

6 October 2014

3 a.m. waking-with-a-start thought:
I can't die now. I haven't gotten all the tattoos I want, and I can't miss Doctor Who.
Yeah. I have priorities, it seems.


5 October 2014

It's that time of year again.

Thumpa Goes Pink.

What started as a way to raise money and amused a few people who wound up donating a hell of a lot has turned into something I really like.

The pink hair, it makes me happy.

Now, a while back I made it pretty clear that I am not a fan of People of Walmart. I am not amused by its tone nor amused by the notion that there's anything fun or funny about taking verbal or photographic potshots at people.

It's just not nice.

So today I was sitting in Starbucks, minding my own business and not paying any particular attention to the two people to my left, other than to note that they had taken two tables meant for 3-4 people each and shoved them together, the two of them taking up enough space for several customers. The place wasn't packed, but it was busy enough that having the space for a group could have become an issue.

They weren't teenagers, either; this was an adult male and adult female, and as far as I could tell--an open laptop, a couple of textbooks and notebooks--they were there to study.

I went about my own business for an hour or so, noted the time and realized I needed to run to the grocery store, and as I was closing my laptop I heard them snicker, and out of the corner or my eye saw her take a picture.

Ostensibly, she was taking a selfie...with about 10% of her face in the shot. The rest was me.

Apparently I amused her. Probably the pink hair.

As I got up, I made a point of looking at them in a way that let them know I was looking; she was uploading the picture to either Facebook or Tumblr, hard to tell.

Now, to be fair, I don't know what her intent was. Maybe she really dug the hair. Maybe she had a moment of, "Do I know this person...?" and just took the picture. She could have been thinking a lot of things, but just based on the tone of that snicker, I'm guessing the intent was more like PoW. I suspect I am on someone's newsfeed or Tumblr with a snotty comment about the old lady with the pink hair, let's point and laugh.

As I left, I thought I should be annoyed or angry about it; I trust my gut and my gut says she was operating from a place far removed from kindness. I was not someone sitting there working, I was someone to be made fun of. Something, even. Just an object, out of the ordinary at the 'Bux.

But the truth is, I was borderline amused. She didn't make a point of saying anything snotty to me, as has happened before. She just took a picture.

And I kinda want to see that picture.

If you run across a picture of a chubby, pink-haired me wearing a maroon and gray striped shirt, let me know, especially if you find it at the source. I would so love to visit and leave a comment or two.


1 October 2014

“Pink is not going to cure anything. It’s just a damned color. Get over it already.”
It’s October 1st, the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The backlash has already started; I noticed it a few days ago online, people already complaining about it, grumbling about having to put up with all the “pink shit” for a full month.
“Yeah. We’re already aware of breast cancer.”
Allow me to interject.

No shit.
“Why should it get its own month? Men don’t get a month for anything.”
Know what September is? Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Why didn’t you know about that? There were events all over the world. This past weekend there was a global motorcycle ride to raise money, the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Motorcycle Ride, and it raised a couple million. If you shop for groceries at a particular national chain, you had the option to round up the cost of your purchases and donate that money towards prostate cancer research.

The events are out there. So why didn’t you know?

Because it’s not as big as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Give it time; in ten years you might be complaining about light blue. It’s just a color, after all. It’s not going to cure anything, either.

But think about it. You’ve become attuned to pink being the color for breast cancer because it’s been upfront every October for as long as you can remember, and it’s been well promoted. Breast cancer charities are well organized, and they’ve taken the time needed to get you to where you’re sick of it.

You should be sick of it.

The ultimate goal is for the color pink to again be nothing but a pretty color, and someday we’ll get there.

Someday we’ll be sick of light blue ribbons…and that’s a good thing. It means we’re trying harder to save lives. It deserves the passion that everything pink has earned.



This month is a reminder: do what you can. Fight it how you can. Check yourself—too many people just don’t think about it any other time of year—whether you’re male or female. Schedule a mammogram. Teach your kids about self-exams. Donate to your favorite charity.

You’re aware of breast cancer; that doesn’t mean you’ll do anything about it any other time of year.

That said…I’m not a fan of pinkwashing. I’m not a fan of every company out there slapping a pink ribbon on their product with the promise that a portion of sales will be donated to a breast cancer charity. I’m not a fan because I don’t think the amount donated adds up to much, as little as 2-5%, but it garners a whole lot of sales and profit for those companies.

Pick your own awareness endeavor. It doesn’t have to be monetary. Educate yourself, educate your kids, schedule the long-put-off exam. Support a friend going through treatment. Make this month a touchstone.

It is easier to donate; don’t buy a bunch of crap just because it has a pink ribbon it unless you really want that particular item. Find your charity of choice. Use Charity Navigator to help narrow the field down.
“Yeah, Thump, you’re a Komen freak…I’m not giving anything to them. Most of their money pays their CEOs, not to research.”
I’m not a Komen freak; I have my issues with them but overall I’m satisfied with where the money goes. As of 2013, 84% of the money they raised went directly to programs. Only 6.4% went to administrative costs—those salaries that are always getting bitched about. A little less than 11% went to fundraising efforts; it takes money to make money.

And no, not all of that 84% goes to research, though 80% of the money raised in the walks I participate in does. They do more than fund research; they fund mammograms, health screenings, education, and a plethora of other worthwhile endeavors.

I’m not 100% on board with them, but on the scale of good versus evil, they do far more good.

But there are other BC charities out there. is highly rated on Charity Navigator; they don’t spend as much on programs—80%—but they do a lot and they’re transparent about where the money goes.
“Pink is STILL just a color.”
Symbolism, guys. Red, white, and blue are just colors, too, but put them together in just the right way, and you have something people are willing to fight over.

Remember this shirt?

I wore it on my first 3 Day. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of names on it.

The next year, the number of names doubled.

Every year, the names I add give extra weight to the shirt.

This year, there are so many names that I don't think my shirt is big enough.

Try tell those people, or the family members of the people whose names are there but they are not, that pink is just a color and this is all just "pink shit."

Pink isn’t just a color, but the ultimate goal is that one day it will be.

Until then... Peoples' lives are more important than someone's offended sensibilities.