30 July 2014


http://www.the3day.org/goto/thumperwabbt

All righty.

I'm going to go for it again.

Three days, 60 miles, this time in San Diego.

Why San Diego? Well, San Francisco no longer has a 3 Day and even if they did I might be more apt to walker stalk or crew, because that's a ton of fun. San Diego is now the closest, but more important...friends.

Yep, DKM is walking, as well as some of my team mates from Atlanta 2011, and it'll be a blast to meet up with them again and pound out some miles on the pavement.

Yes, I am immature enough to have hanging with my friends as a reason to go.

But the biggest part of it hasn't changed since I accepted that first invitation to walk. I know too many people who have had to face that battle, and some have not survived. I think often about my friend Anne, who died when everything she wanted in life was right there at her fingertips; she was the friend with whom I share a birthdate, and I don't get through a birthday without thinking about her. I also think about Bridget Spence, who battled the disease nearly her entire adult life, and who just wanted to make it to age 30. She died a few months short of that, and that sucks.

There's also Heather, a woman I met at McDonald's about a year and a half ago. I haven't seen her since, but she crosses my mind every now and then, especially when the Komen-is-so-worng discussions begin. The two things she said that still stick with me:
“Komen kept me alive. That’s the bigger picture. I’m alive.”
“I wish they’d get over it, because there are things more important than their offended sensibilities.”

This walk matters to people for whom waking up in the morning is more than just a matter of course. It matters to people for whom that is not a certainty, and the organization as a whole--no matter what wrongs they may have committed--makes a difference every day.

And there are the personal things...I need something to get me off my asterisk again, and training for this walk will do it. I've been fighting a horrible case of plantar fasciitis which will probably make training all kinds of fun, but I'm hoping some new shoes and some KT Tape will help with that.

So. Yeah. I am walking again.

What weird things do you want me to do for donations? 'Cause y'all know, I will do just about anything legal.

26 July 2014

♦ All right, this is where I admit that the Spouse Thingy was right, and going ahead with the kitchen was a good idea, even if it did make me nauseated to drain that much from savings. It occurred to me tonight while I was making dinner that I didn't mind that I was making dinner; I didn't have that twitchy, claustrophobic feeling I always got when I was trying to cook before.I didn't even realize I had that feeling, until I no longer had it.

♦ This evening Max was on my lap and in order to give him thorough chin and neck skritches, I took his collar off; this is nothing new, I do it frequently. But when I started to rub my fingers through his fur I realized he had a spot where the fur had rubbed off. I wrapped it around his neck to test how it fit, and it wasn't tight but it also wasn't as loose as I would like and I suspect the spot has been bothering him some. He hasn't been bitey or shying away from being petted, but he has been a bit grumpy lately. So we'll see.

♦ He sat on my lap while I perused Amazon for a new collar and ignored me while I pointed out options...until I got to a spiffy hot pink one and then a red one. He pointedly looked at the screen then, so I ordered them both, plus one I like, and he can pick when they get here. Shut up, he will, too.

♦ Yes, we then checked Buddah's neck to make sure his still fit right.

♦ I dyed my hair blue. I do not like it. I suspect it's the length as much as the color, so Monday the Spouse Thingy will cut it for me, and we'll see. I was hoping for neon blue and this is really dark. It makes me sad.

♦ In another First World Problem; I've been seriously considering trading my bike in on something with ABS. I know the one I want, but I kept not going up to the dealership to test ride it. And now it's been sold. Yeah, no, don't feel sorry for me, it's a toy. Another toy will come along. But there was a lesson learned there...

♦ Man, if it were not so late, I would totally bake a cake. No reason.

23 July 2014


Overheard at the ‘Bux today:

If you’ve had 3 divorces you just don’t give marital advice. If you have just a toddler, you don’t give parenting advice. And for fuck’s sake if you’re a lifelong vegetarian, don’t try telling me how much better a sirloin tastes than a ribeye.

I know it’s not true that we only use 10% of our brains, but I swear to God, she only uses about half that amount.

Shut up. I’m old. I’ll fart in public if I want to.

Why are there so many kids in here? Why aren’t they in school? I don’t care if it’s summer vacation; I want peace and quiet while I sit here making fun of all the people with their Apple computers.

No, he’s your son today. He licked the floor, that’s why!

Smile!
Fuck off.

Enjoy today because by Saturday Satan will be belching ghost pepper fumes all over the damn place and we’re all going to melt.

OHMYGOD STOP LICKING THINGS!

19 July 2014

This is why I'm not a huge fan of text tattoos. You can stare at a stencil for 10 minutes and your brain keeps telling you "Yep, this is fine," no matter how well you can spell in any other situation. But once that mistake is on your skin, chances are it's there for good, because fixing it? Not as easy as getting it.

Hell, I am frequently guilty of typing "loosing" when I meant "losing" and I rarely catch it (it even made it into a book...the print version.) It's easy to gloss over "then" when it should be "than." Some of the brightest people I know type out "to" when they meant "too" and hit enter before realizing it.

This chit's permanent, people...find an image to symbolize your favorite quote. If you really, really, really want that quote, proofread, get a friend to proofread, get another friend to proofread, and if you don't have the spelling and grammar skills to put something on your skin forever, find someone who does. And then proofread again.

This rant brought to you by having to tell someone today that their tattoo of "This to shall pass; I would rather suffer then live life statically" was not quite right. Luckily, it's a tattoo big enough to fix, I think. I hope, anyway.

15 July 2014

We are now about 99% done with the remodel. We hit a hiccup with having one transformer fewer than needed for the under cabinet lighting, and Amazon was the only place to get it. The tile guy came this morning to grout the back splash tile but no one had told him he was also expected to paint the exterior wall where the window was removed, so that still hasn't been done. They keep forgetting to bring the screen door for the patio, and somehow in changing faceplates for outlets and the like, our phone line no longer works in the kitchen, but all that will be done by the end of the week.

The kitchen is useable, and it's pretty, and right now that's what we care about.

Click to biggify the pictures...

Main wall, before
Main wall, after
Yessssss...
Finally.
Instead of posting 60 pictures, there are a bunch of pictures from before and after on Flicker [clicky here], with a few more including the cats...because clearly, we did this for Buddah to have a place to plaster himself...

When this all started, the projected timeline was 2-3 weeks, so we were pretty sure that meant 4 weeks, and as of today it's been 4 weeks. We lost a day to an inspector that didn't show, a day to a holiday, and a couple to having the wrong grout for the back splash and not having 3 transformers for the lighting, but overall, it's been fairly painless. We'll be glad to not be tied to the house every day and the cats will really be glad to not be stuck in the back of the house so much.

Now...we get to clean up all the crap that got moved around, the rest of the dust (this is a damned dusty thing to go through) not yet cleaned up, and sort through all the things that are not going back into the kitchen. Goodwill is getting a couple of big boxes of stuff.

And tomorrow...finally, a real meal made at home.

On the grill.

Outside.

It's a start.


13 July 2014

Oddz N Enz #908,123.x2c

♦ The kitchen is still not done. As of this coming Tuesday it'll be 4 weeks since we started, overshooting the predicted 2-3 week mark by about a week. Which, honestly, we expected because chit always happens.

♦ We did lose a few days; one to an inspector who was supposed to be here on the first Friday but didn't come until Monday, two because the sink had not come in and they couldn't proceed until it had, and most of one because we bought the wrong kind of grout for the backsplash tile.

♦ We don't really mind; these delays are the very cliche of having First World Problems.

♦ It should be done by Tuesday. There are only a few things yet to be done that we can see, and then there's a final inspection of the electrical and no telling if he'll show up on time.

♦ I do appreciate y'all on my whine fest in the previous post. I just felt like I was being accused of being glad my mother is gone for the sake of getting a kitchen done, when that couldn't be further from the truth. The kitchen would have been done no matter what, but still.

♦ I was honestly surprised how many people commented, emailed, and messaged about using an inheritance to do home remodeling. It makes sense; at least if I were leaving someone a chunk of money, I would appreciate that they're getting substantial value from it.

♦ The Spouse Thingy had put in to get this weekend off a long time ago; he wanted to go see the Boy play Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet again, and I was supposed to be in San Francisco for the Avon walk. Between my foot still being 3 kinds of ouch and the remodel, I did not make it to the Avon walk, and am pretty sure I am doomed as far as that walk is concerned.

♦ We did make it to the play, and it was really good. It doesn't matter if you know the story backwards and forwards...when performed by actors who understand Shakespeare as opposed to just reciting lines, and they have serious talent on top of it, it's still a moving play. Every time I see it, I want the ending to be different, yet it never is.

♦ The Boy was born to play Mercutio. Shove parental pride aside, he owns that role. And I was still sitting there hoping Mercutio wouldn't die, and the Boy's wrenching emotions during that scene almost made me leak right there in the theater.

♦ I warned the Spouse Thingy that when we weren't stuck at the house this week, we were going shopping. I think he learned to not doubt me. Right now he's in the other room, trying to soothe and comfort his weeping wallet.

♦ The kitchen is going to be worth it, but I will be so glad when everything here isn't KITCHEN.

♦ I'm sure you will be, too.

♦ Kitchen.

2 July 2014

How to piss me off in just 2 sentences =or= Thumpa gonna rant

Your mom died a year ago so it looks like you got a inheritence. Must be nice to inherit money and dump it all on a remodel.

Um, what? Or rather, WTF?

Yeah, I'm a bit ticked off
Whether I got "a inheritence" or not, does it really matter? Just what makes you think we couldn't/wouldn't have done this without a sudden windfall?

We've talked about doing this since we bought the damned house. This was the 2nd house we looked at, and we walked out initially because of the kitchen; when we came back to look again, we decided the rest of the house was all right--not perfect but all right--and that eventually we would remodel the kitchen to make it more useable.

So why now?

Because the frakking thing was falling apart.

Because we were tired of not having storage and having too much crap on the counters.

Because whoever lived here before never cleaned the floors, so they always looked gross.

Because we damn well wanted to.

Really...I'm not sure why it matters to anyone else how we're paying for something we promised ourselves five and a half years ago that we would do and what we started saving for. I'm not sure why anyone would assume we didn't have money of our own to do it. But the thing is, if one person had the balls to say it, other people were thinking it.

Why the hell does it matter? To anyone?

Even if we were paying for this with an inheritance (oh hey, I can spell!) I'm not sure it would be "wrong." My parents worked long and hard for their money, and if they thought they could help us with something that will not only make our lives easier but add equity--actual value--to our house, they would be thrilled.

We farking saved a lot of money over the years to do this kitchen, but that doesn't matter one bit, because it doesn't matter how it was paid for. What matters is that we had and have parents that have always been so generous of heart and spirit that if we did use an inheritance on it, they would have been happy for us.

I know what my dad would say right now.

Mind your own goddamned business.

My dad was almost always right, too.

26 June 2014

When this whole kitchen thing is done, I'm going to have a chit load of cleaning to do.


Today was painting and the floor went down


Tomorrow the cabinets go in, so we're getting there...

21 June 2014

The views from my desk right now...


To my left is the gutted kitchen, with this spiffy plastic tarp that was supposed to hold dust in, but let out a whole bunch of it. It carried all the way to the back of the house, which means we're sneezing a lot.


I also get to look at the room o'junk, all the stuff pulled out of the kitchen before demo began.  I can see the Cheetos from here, so I have an ongoing case of the munchies.

I am getting zero work done, partly because my work computer spent the week covered to protect it from all the dust, and partly because, while I had my laptop with me, sitting on the bed and trying to reassure the cats that their lives are not over kind of detracts from any real creativity. Also, neither the Spouse Thingy nor I have felt all that great this week; he actually called into work sick one night, and he never calls in sick. We're on the mend, though, so it falls into the NBD category.

But work is progressing. It came to a screeching halt before noon yesterday when the inspector postponed until Monday--the electrical work already done, and where the window was removed have to be checked--and nothing else can proceed until he says so.

Still...lots done.


Under the curtain there is no longer a window...it's been boarded up and there's insulation, which is why the curtain is still there and the board is blocking it from curious kitties.


Towels are blocking any holes in the wall right now, because...Buddah. It looks odd to go in there and have nothing, but without the old cabinets and counters it's also easier to see how it's going to come together.

I'm still grumbling about the cost and nauseated when I think about it, but once it's done it'll be totally worth it. And then we can think about redoing the patio, which is going to be screened in for the cats. That's one I don't want to wait too long to get done, because they're not getting any younger, and I know they'd both love it.

Hell, we probably would have done that first if not for the whole cracking of cabinets and fracture lines in the tile that was going on.

I'll give someone $20 to come clean up all this dust...

Oh, and the cats are fine; Max is seriously chill about the whole thing, and Buddah's only thrown a few temper tantrums, and those are because he wants to go out and snoopervise, not because he's scared. No barfing, no hiding, just some yelling while standing at the screen door by Buddah. I'm pretty sure he just wants to go watch...but they're both fine.

15 June 2014

I have a dozen different things I should be doing--there are still things to be moved before Tuesday's kitchen start, plus some cleaning, plus Max's Mousebreath column, plus a book to work on--but instead I've been sitting here looking at porn.

Shuddup. My porn is not like other porn.

2014 BMW F700GS
I still prefer motorcycle porn.

The thing is, I was all set to sell my bike and be done with riding. But then one night the Spouse Thingy texted me wanting to know the price, because he had someone interested. I told him, and then felt all ooohnoo I'm not done yet.

Then he found out the person who was interested had found another bike and I was all yay!

It is soooo pretty...
But...I'm still not keen on jumping on that beautiful, beautiful bike and hitting the highway. I know that half the reason why I avoid it is because it IS a pretty bike; it's the dream bike. If I wreck it, I wreck the pretty. If I park it and it gets trashed or stolen, there's no replacing that exact bike. The paint job alone is unique enough that it can't be replicated, and I'm one of those odd people who can't ruin something that unique. The idea gets into my head--frak this up and you REALLY frak this up--that it affects the way I ride and the urge to ride.

So I mentioned that to a couple friends; one said to ride the shit out of it regardless. It's the dream bike, so get out there and ride the dream.

And she's not wrong.

Another, who sold her bike--not her dream bike, but her daily rider--has many regrets about it. And she thought I needed to really sit back and think about why I've avoided riding other than the risk of ruining the pretty bike. Think back to what I wanted before I saw the pretty bike and caved into the want of Spiffy and Shiny and Beautiful.

What did I say then about what I NEEDED in a bike? Why was I looking to replace the MP3 scooter and the Gladius I was riding? And what is it that goes through my brain when I'm not thinking about how pretty my current bike is?

I needed stability.
Antilock brakes.
A flexible, flickable bike.
Antilock brakes.
Upright seated position--0 to 2 degrees at most.
Antilock brakes.

There's a theme there...I don't completely trust my braking ability and wanted to get off a bike that killed my back (the Gladius was awesome but put me forward in a way that was not good for someone with a bad back) and the scooter had hydraulic issues that made riding it scary.

I was all set to pull the trigger on a BMW, but then went into a bike shop in Concord and lo and behold, there was the sales guy from the shop in Fairfield we used to go to, the guy that had sold me the MP3, the Gladius, and Mike's bike.

Super nice guy.

He showed me a few bikes, and showcased the pretty blue and white bike in the corner; it was custom, right down to the hand-painted pinstriping and hand-painted lettering.

It was the dream bike; the bike I'd had in my head since I was a kid.

So I bought it.

And I loved it. It was PRETTY, dammit.

But I rarely rode it. Granted, I got super sick the summer after getting it, which turned that entire year into not riding because of that, but getting back on it never seemed important. We rode once in a while, around town, to get gas through the lines, but I've had the bike for 3 years now and it has fewer than 2,000 miles on it.

I actually miss this...if only they'd bring it out with ABS...
I put 2,000 miles on my first bike in about 3 months.

I put 2,000 miles on my 2nd bike in about a month.

I put over 5,000 miles on the scooter in the first year.

But after getting the Bonneville...nope. I stopped reading much about bikes, stopped visiting bike forums online, stopped reading magazines. I just wasn't excited, and it all boils down to one thing.

I bought the wrong bike.

I bought the dream bike, but that dream was from when I was a kid and has nothing to do with what I need from a bike.

So for the last few weeks I've been poking around the forums, reading articles on motorcycles, and I keep coming back to the bike I was so close to buying before I saw the Pretty.

And I'm excited about the idea of it again.

No, I'm not going to rush right out and buy it. I need to mull it over a little more--not a lot, but a little--and then I need to wait a bit.

For one, I need to sell the Bonneville, but with no regrets because it will be replaced. And we probably need to get through the kitchen remodel.

But, yeah...I really do want to ride. But on the bike I need, not the bike I want.

13 June 2014

Oddz & Endz #17,204,742.3 part B

♦ We finally have a start date on the kitchen remodel: next Tuesday. Everything is in place--permits have been filed and issued, the cabinets are in, we picked out the granite for the counters and have bought floor tile, backsplash tile, grout, and new appliances--and we're a little itchy to get it over with.

♦ In order to not freak the cats out all at once we decided to do the things that most affect them one by one. Last week we moved the sideboard from the dining area window to the front room (and they enjoy it there more, since it means they can lounge on it and look out the window) and on another day we set up another water fountain in the back of the house; this morning I moved their crunchy food back there.

♦ What they don't seem thrilled with...the new screen door that separates the front of the house from the back. We figured this gives them the entire back half while the work is being done, and out worries about them being accidentally let out are lessened significantly.

♦ Bets are now being taken on how long it takes Buddah to try to climb the door.

♦ Other bets are being taken as to how long it will take Max to start stress-barfing, and on how many surfaces he'll barf and how often.

♦ Everything should take about 2 weeks to finish...which probably means 3 weeks after it starts it should be finished.

♦ It's going to be loud. I don't like loud.

♦ Maybe I'll hide in the closet with Max.

1 June 2014

I’m not a fan of “People of Walmart.” I don’t appreciate the viciousness it engenders, and I don’t see the humor behind it. I am as guilty as anyone else over the occasional amused and bemused Hmffph at some of the images that float out of that particular website, but I seriously dislike the venomous culture it supports.

Face it, I am outside the borders of normal for my age group; perhaps on some level I take it personally. Or maybe I just don’t like looking at someone and snapping to judgment. Or maybe I just don’t like being mean.

If you mock the people who are photographed without consent and slapped up on some website for the world to make fun of…yeah, that’s mean. And that’s why PoW exists: to make fun of people caught unaware, to mock them for not being “beautiful” or because they have their own idea of style and wear what to them is comfortable.

So I’m sitting here in Starbucks, probably putting off my own PoW vibe, and there was a 20-something at the table next to me, making fun of people coming and going, picking on the clothes they wear, the hair styles they’ve chosen, their height to weight ratio: anything and everything seems to be fair game.

I listened to her for a good 15 minutes, trying to ignore, but she’s been a particular kind of loud: stage whispers intended to be heard. None of the people she mocked deserved it. They’re just people going about their personal business on a warm Sunday afternoon, stopping at Starbucks for coffee or tea or whatever else floats their boat.

One woman, close to my age and perhaps a few pounds heavier than I waked past with a cup of whatever and a cookie; 20-something snorted and pseudo-muttered an insult that I’m sure she thought was humorous. Someone else walked past in shorts a little too big and a t-shirt a little too small, and 20-something turned to me, leaned over, and said with a twisted, mock-conspiratorial laugh, “We need a People of Starbucks thing, right?”

I could have pretended to not hear.

I should have pretended to not hear.

Instead, I barely glanced her way and replied in a very-much-not-a-stage-whisper, “Grow up.”

She was offended.

Imagine that.

She left in a huff of pretentious hurt feelings.

Imagine that.

I don’t know if anyone who was the target of her immature slams heard her; no one left here seeming as if they were offended, but I heard her, and I was offended on their behalf.

The whole idea behind People of Walmart is immature and offensive, and I neither understand nor appreciate how popular it is, and how people who otherwise seem perfectly normal and nice find it funny and acceptable.

Look, if you walk past me in a knee length purple dress with pink stripes, a blue hat, yellow Converse high tops, and have a full beard, I’m going to notice. But I will not mock you for it. If you’re of considerable weight and are seated near me in a restaurant and have ordered a huge platter of food, it’s none of my business. If you’re 75 years old and sport earlobes with half-dollar sized gauges and have tattoos all over your neck and half your face, so what?

I don’t know your story; I have no right to judgment beyond curiosity better left unvoiced.

All those who are plastered on PoW…those are people and they freaking have feelings.

Do I regret hurting 20-something’s feelings?

No.

Hypocritical?

Yep.

Do I care?

Nope.

She will survive, and maybe consider those hurt feelings the next time she wants to rag on someone for being different.

28 May 2014

One year.

One year ago, the Spouse Thingy and I took the bikes out for a ride; we needed to run gas through the lines, and decided that would be best accomplished with a ride into Vacaville and lunch at Mel’s.

One year ago I sat in a booth with a half-eaten French Dip in front of me, when my sister sent a text; she thought our mother had had a stroke. Or it might have been a heart attack; the truth is that I don’t clearly remember, I only remember telling the Spouse Thingy, and that this wasn’t going to be good.

One year ago I rode a motorcycle home on the Interstate at 70 mph, trying hard to focus on the ride and everything that can go wrong when you’re on a moving motorcycle; I fought to keep my head where it needed to be, and it needed to be clear in order to ride those 10 miles to home.

One year ago I sat in the living room, waiting for my sister to send a text what I didn’t want to see.

One year ago, my sister called and spoke to the Spouse Thingy, to confirm: our mother had died.

One year ago it was one day before what would have been my parents’ 64th wedding anniversary, and I tried to wrap my heart around the idea that they would get to spend it together, and that the timing of her death was not a coincidence.

One year ago I had a relationship with my mother that was complicated…until it wasn’t.

One year ago the chance for it to ever be uncomplicated left with her.

And that’s all right. In that one year I have spent countless hours thinking about her, mulling over all the what-ifs, and I know now that our relationship would have never been uncomplicated. There was no possibility for it to become anything other than what it was. She was never going to change, and not because of any lack of want on her part; she was never going to change because she couldn’t.

But I’m still here, and I can still change.

It’s taken the full year to pick through the detritus of our relationship; it’s taken the full year to stop being angry about the things that never should have happened and the things that would never have a chance to happen. It’s taken that much time to push past the things said that hurt, and get to the things that were good, and to remember the woman who was happy and social, for whom parenthood was a highlight and not a burden.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering when the tide turned; when did she stop being herself? When did those angry little voices worm their way into her head? How long ago did the demons of dementia start pulling on the strings of her soul, the threads that wound their way from her head to her heart? How hard did she fight them, purposely ignoring the whispers that told her hateful things about the people she loved? And when did she get tired, too tired to shield herself against them?

Hindsight is a hell of a thing, when you can see past your own fog. I can see her indifference creep up in little increments, starting from the time I was in 6th grade; it all happened in such minute, fragmented, tiny shuffle-steps that sometimes erupted into episodes of depression followed by periods of normal that I don’t think anyone could see it for what it was. Certainly no one living up close to her, and definitely not the doctors to whom she went time after time, unable to tell them anything other than “I don’t feel well,” and “I just don’t feel right.”

She could feel it sneaking up on her, but she couldn’t put her finger on what was wrong, and neither could anyone else.

I sometimes think that the adult me should have understood it better; the woman who barked into the phone that she didn’t want to talk to me anymore was not the woman who raised me. The woman who sat with a couple of her kids at the table, trash talking one of the others, was not the woman who years before would have had sharp words if she’d heard those same kids doing that exact thing. The woman who shouted at one of her own kids that she didn’t love them and never wanted to see them again was not the woman who had been once so proud of her kid’s accomplishments.

It took decades for my mother to be swallowed by those shadows, and because I was living in the middle of it, I don’t think it was possible for me to see it.

But in this last year, I think I’ve been able to sort some of it out. She went from being happy, to being bipolar, to suffering from dementia, and in all those years no matter what she wanted, she couldn’t control the direction she was headed.

It wasn’t really her fault; not all of it, not even most of it. And of the things she had control over…I can stay angry, or I can let it go.

One year ago, I don’t think I ever saw myself getting past being pissed off at all the little digs and insults, at trying to understand a mother who never had anything nice to say about just about anyone, especially her own kids. But now, it feels a lot like blaming someone with a broken leg for wanting something to smother the pain. She had demons picking at her that no one could see, demons that were sneaky enough to hide in the shadows where the people who should have been able to find them couldn’t see.

Staying angry, wrapping myself up in the disappointments of what could have and should have been, does absolutely no good.

There’s not even anything to forgive; life was what it was, and crap things happen to good people.

I’d give just about anything to still be frustrated over all the petty things, to know that if I picked up the phone and were able to understand anything she said I would hang up later upset. I would rather she still be here and cranky as hell, but that’s really just a selfish thing. I don’t think anyone wants their mother to die.

She didn’t like me, but she loved me. From the moment I drew my first breath, she loved me.

I miss her.

It looks a lot like this...
And yet…I have this picture in my head of my parents together again, both finally free of dementia and Parkinson’s and heart disease, happy and healthy and whole, and how can I wish for anything other than that?

I can’t.

My mother loved me, and I loved her, and in the grand, Technicolor, IMAX 3D scheme of things, that’s the only thing that matters.

I won’t sing it, but…

I’m letting it go.

15 May 2014

Last October I received a jury summons; the only moaning I did about it was the timing, because the report date was for mid-November and that time of year is not a good one when you’re night blind. I could get to the court house in Vallejo—40 miles away—but coming home would be a pain in the asterisk.

The nice thing about CA is that you can pop online and tell them you want to postpone and for how long (up to 6 months) and they allow it, no questions asked. So I did that, postponed until May, and my new summons came a few weeks ago. There was still the chance that I would check in the night before I was supposed to report and be told I was not needed, but there was an equal chance I would be told I was still required to show up.

No big deal; I would have preferred to get the court house closer to home, but the dice rolled for Vallejo again so on Tuesday morning I dragged my sorry self out of bed after little sleep at 6 a.m., was out the door by 7, and there before the report time of 8. Along with a bunch of other people I waited outside the locked jury assembly room, trying not to yawn too much, and engaged in some idle chat with a few.

One woman said she’d "been there done that with this whole thing 6 or 7 times" and served on several juries; she really didn’t want to be tapped for another one. She seemed a little amused when I said I kind of wanted to be picked; this was something new, and as long as it wasn’t gross or months-long, I wanted to be there for the duration.

I’m not one of those people looking to get out of jury service; I wanted to be there, though I would have been happier if things started at noon instead of OhFark O’clock. And it looked like a majority of the 150 or so other people there when the jury assembly room was finally unlocked felt the same thing.

We were all there for a single case; half of us would be the first into the court room, the other half would wait around to see if they were needed. The first 18 names called would line up and be seated in the jury box, and the rest of that half would sit in the audience chairs and listen to all the questions being asked of those in the jury box, because at any point they could find themselves there.

Our seats were a lot more comfy than these, I think...
My name was the 6th called. I wound up in the court room, in the juror box, in the 6th seat.

Juror number six.

Since I wasn’t looking to wiggle out of it, I was pretty sure the only thing that would keep me off the jury was having Diabetes Insipidus. We were asked if there were any hardships, medical issues, etc, that would be relevant, and if any issue was private or embarrassing, we could speak to the judge and attorneys privately…but I’m not shy about it and didn’t care if 80 other people knew I have a condition that frequently causes excessive thirst and urination as often as every 20 minutes.

I refrained from saying I pee like a freaking maniac and opted to use my big-girl words.

The judge was cool with that; I was allowed to bring as much water in with me as needed, and if I had to get up to use the restroom, I only needed to tell the bailiff.

So I was a shoe-in for this jury.

I knew I was. And I was counting on it, because I’d never done this and was curious about the whole thing, and while the case itself didn’t seem all that interesting, the process did.

A few people were dismissed right off the bat: some had childcare issues, some needed deferments because they had work things that couldn’t be missed but they would serve later, and a couple of people were dismissed because they had vacations planned and flights to catch before the predicted end of the trial.

Then the questioning began in earnest.

One of the first, from the judge…do you have any particular bias, either in favor or against, police officers, and how will that affect your perception of their testimony?

I answered it honestly; I do have a bit of a bias. If push comes to shove, I’m going to believe a cop over someone else. There was some back and forth with the judge as he wanted to understand exactly what I meant, and he seemed cool with it, and said what I opined was fair.

There are no right or wrong answers, he reminded everyone.

And the questions kept coming, for everyone. There were some who were either so jaded and hurt by the entire judicial process that simply being there was painful, or they were using anger as a way out. Some didn’t understand the questions asked, but tried to give the right answers anyway, even though they were reminded often that there was no right or wrong.

Then the lawyers began asking questions: from the defense, what did we think about the fact that the defendant was not present? Would we hold it against him for not testifying in his own behalf?

No one seemed to care, but we were asked individually. I mused that everyone has the right to not incriminate themselves, and not everyone has the eloquence to give well-thought-out testimony even with the exactly correct questions being asked of them. We all have the right to face our accuser, but I thought that also meant we are not required to; I would not hold it against the defendant at all, and presumed it was his right to not be there.

Others answered basically the same thing, in varying degrees of confidence; there was quite a bit of Ummm and Uhhh as they searched for words, but everyone made their point. It was fine if the defendant was absent from his own trial.

I thought I was done; what else could they ask me?

But the defense attorney came back to me.

Why did I think a police officer’s testimony should be given more weight than someone else’s? As a jury, we are supposed to follow the rule of equal consideration in testimony. What makes an officer more truthful to me?

*See footnote
We all have varying degrees of perception bias, I said. Right or wrong, we all have an inclination towards one thing or another or to feel more for something than another thing; to my mind, the cop on the stand testifying is just doing his job and has nothing to gain from presenting anything less than truthful. A witness who is friends with the defendant, on the other hand, could be more likely to sway his testimony to benefit his friend, whether he did so intentionally or not. It would come down to conflicting testimony, not general testimony, but if an officer stated one thing categorically and the witness contraindicated that, my gut is to believe the officer.

Does someone being a police officer automatically make them more truthful than someone else?

No. Again, it would be down to conflicting testimony. And I would do my best to give equal weight to all testimony.

It went on for a bit; this was obviously a sticking point. But she moved on to other people…until she came back to me, with a completely different questions.

You are married to someone who works in the medical field. What does he do? Does he ever deal with mental illness? Do you ever discuss cases?

I explained that he’s a registered nurse anesthetist; his job doesn’t deal directly with mental health patients on a daily basis but I assumed he occasionally has a patient with issues. And yes, we frequently talk about some of the things he does. Sometimes he tells me about cases, but he does not give me identifying details about the patients.

Then came the prosecutor…right back to me. Can you be fair?

Yes. I think I’m generally a fair person and will do everything I can to maintain that fairness. I would not intentionally abscond from a position of fairness.

I realized, as he moved on to someone else, I’d been fighting for my position on that jury, and I thought I’d garnered it.

We took a break, the third for the day, and it was only 2:10. I headed for the restroom, and then the assembly room, to wait to be called back in, still unsure what the rest of the day would be.

The woman I’d been talking to earlier sat down near me. You need to dumb it down if you really want to be on this jury. Half of what you’re saying is going over the heads of most of the people in the room. If they think you’re as smart as they are, you’re going home.

Apparently I needed to hem and haw a little more. And I was unsure if there was any truth to what she was telling me, although I’ve heard it before.

Ten minutes later we were back in the juror’s box; before anything else, the judge turned to me and asked point blank: can you set aside your inclination to believe a police officer over another witness?

I would do my best.

Can you say for sure? Yes, no, or not sure. There is no wrong answer.

I honestly do not know.

And I didn’t; I didn’t have any facts other than the charges against the absent defendant, I knew nothing about him, or the people scheduled to testify. I believed I could be as fair as is humanly possible, but I could not state 100% for sure that my personal belief that when there is conflicting testimony, I would give at least a small measure of weight to the cop.

I am dismissing you, Mrs. Thompson. This is not the trial for you.

And that’s all she wrote. By 2:40 I was in my car, texting the Spouse Thingy that I was on my way home.

I had a feeling early on, a small whisper in the back of my brain, that if I wavered and said I could give absolutely equal weight to testimony under the hypotheticals as described, I would have been on that jury. Afterward, I was fairly sure it was the defense that didn't want me. But I also knew I couldn’t be anything but honest about it.

My brother in law is a cop; I don’t believe for one minute he would get on the stand and say anything less than the truth just to convict someone. I don’t think there’s anything much to be gained from any officer under those circumstances.

So I’m done for the year; I won’t be summoned again until this time next year at the earliest. Hopefully next time it will be at the closer court house, and a case where perhaps my issue will not be an issue. And hopefully wherever I am summoned to, the vending machines will be full and fully functional, because when 2 out of 3 won’t take your dollar bills, and the one that does is out of bottled water, it’s a problem.


* Just before things got underway, when all 150+ people were in the assembly room, one of the prospective jurors was busted for having stolen a gavel. Seriously. They had his picture from the close circuit TV...he'd gotten into a court room and shoved it into the pocket of his way too big shorts.

11 May 2014

This is my mom; the picture was taken somewhere around 1970 while we were living in Germany.

Those are teabags pinned to her shirt.

It's her t-shirt.

Yes, she was a walking dad joke. And trust me, in 1970 that was hysterical, and shows just a fleeting glimpse of her sense of humor.

I think because there were more opportunities to be involved--the American communities overseas were pretty tight back then--she was an incredibly active and involved person. She loved being a member of the Wives' Club and for a time served as its president. She was a room mother, she chaperoned trips, once to Berlin when it was still a tricky trip to make. She organized fund raisers for the schools, and once even spearheaded a drive to raise money for a desperately needed fire truck in a town in Washington...and did it while we were still in Munich.

If I recall correctly, the money was raised.

When we moved back to the U.S., she wasn't nearly as involved, but a lot of that was because we were all older and there were fewer chances to do things for our classes and schools, though she did keep up with the Wives' Club.

She was as social as she could be, until the last 20 years, I think. I don't know if she got tired, lacked places to go with friends to whom she was close, or if she was just done. I used to think she was weighed down my my dad's increasing agoraphobia, but I'm not so sure now.

Maybe she wanted it that way.

I hope she did.

I miss her. Some of the time it surprises me how much I miss her. Still, I can't sit here and say I will miss her more on Mother's Day and feel terribly sad, because I won't.

How can I? I believe there's something after this life, and in that I believe she's where she's not old, not fighting dementia, not ill or angry or frightened. I believe that she's the woman standing on the stage, showing her t-shirt to the crowd, happy and clear-headed, and laughing her asterisk off.

This is her first Mother's Day not here.

Together, we tortured the poor kitty, Ataturk ;)
Her first in a very long time with her own mother.

Yes, it sucks that we don't have her here anymore, and the idea that it's Mother's Day and mine is gone feels a bit odd...but I can't feel sad about it, because she's just fine where she is.

I can't miss her more than I do on any other day.

But I do miss her.

I suspect I always will.

And that's a gift, my friends. That's one hell of a gift.


8 May 2014

Heh.


I admit, I LOL'd.

5 May 2014

Things that went through my brain and annoyed me before noon today and I share in an unnecessary display of passive-aggressive bitchiness, so if your feelings are hurt I'm sorry but only a little because I gotta get this out or I'll chew on things all day. Also, I'm apparently learning writing skills from Buddah:

I already know, okay?
♦ Seriously, do not look at a picture I've posted and then cave into your want of messaging me to say, "Hey you really do have resting bitch face!" 1 - I already know it, and 2 - I don't find it as amusing as you do. When several people apparently have some need to point it out, it's definitely not funny; you all might as well PM me and say, "Hey, you're kind of ugly." I know you didn't mean it to come across as it did, but damn...

♦ Yeah...that motorcycle you claim to have just purchased? Cropping the picture of it in an artful way did not conceal the fact that it's a charity event bike, one I have seen a couple of times already. What makes it even more bizarre is that you're the second person I know to claim to have bought this same bike in the last year.

I don't really care if you actually own a bike or not; there are no extra fake Internet points for having a motorcycle. I already like you; if you have a need to impress me... stop. I'm not worth that kind of effort. No one is. I don't understand it. But if you have a need to own an actual motorcycle? I have two in the garage and both are for sale. I'll even cut you a deal.

Not the posted tattoo...just one I like
♦ On that same note: that tattoo you got last night and posted to Twitter? It's beautiful. In fact, I liked it a lot the first time I saw it on reddit. Last year. On the same shoulder. With the exact same clutter in the background. And damn, when did you dye your hair blonde? As far as I knew, you were a brunette. I can understand sharing the picture as something you saw and loved, but come on...don't try to pass it off as your own.

♦ When I die, the first person to utter the words (or post them online) that I've "sprouted wings" or I've "gone to be with Jesus" will be haunted hard core for roughly 6-8 weeks. Don't use cotton-candy coated words. I'm dead. You can say it. She died. Euphemisms aren't necessary; if you HAVE to use one, I'm "headed for the Bridge to play with the cats and dogs" because that would  be my first stop if I had a choice. But really...those soft, saccharine ways of saying someone died are part of why I dislike institutional religion: the words, the whole mind-thought of the church, tends to infantalize people.

I won't have wings; I'll be dead. Simple as that.

If I do have wings, terrific, but I really don't think so. Somehow I doubt they're needed in the next life or afterlife or whatever you want to call it.

♦ Cat breath .25 mm from my face as I'm waking up. Dude, I know I feed you the stuff that makes your breath smell like death, but come on. I don't need to share in your joy of it.

♦ Stupid shit annoying me. Stupid shit should not annoy me, but it does.

♦ Not having a nice way to end this.

30 April 2014

The remodel ball is rolling... Kitchen Guy has been out here to measure, we picked out cabinets and have seen the computer mockup, and holy carp, it's going to be gorgeous.

Kitchen as is, from the living room
Mock up with the cabinets
I've been nervous as hell about this, but Monday we met with Kitchen Guy and then headed for a warehouse to look at granite and quartz slabs and backsplash tile and flooring, and I started to get really excited about it.  We found the counter surface we want, and thought we'd found the backsplash tile and flooring, but then yesterday we went to Home Depot and Lowes and found some better choices.

Y'all can play along if you want; I set up a Flickr album. There are a lot of pictures of the existing kitchen, the mock up, and a few of our choices.

The cabinets have been ordered and it looks like demo will start in 4-5 weeks. After that, 2-3 weeks, and we should have a brand new kitchen.

This means I have to start cooking, doesn't it...?

Not sure how much work I'll get done while this is going on. I am sure that the cats are going to be displeased, since they'll be locked in a room a lot of the time. I actually feel bad about that.

I feel bad, too, that Buddah will lose his access to the top of the cabinets.

Poor kitty.

25 April 2014

Lesson learned, education that I hope we'll never again have to act upon: when you buy a foreclosure, whoever owned it before you may not have been as careful about the maintenance of the house as you would like. You might see the surface things--like the kitchen floor that looks like it hasn't been cleaned in 5 years, but hey, you can clean that--but there are a lot of hidden things that don't pop up on inspection and you don't find out about until after you've moved in and are making payments.

Things like...the previous owner was an apparent DIY sort of person where electrical wiring is concerned. And you may have to have an electrician come out more than once to stop the sound of zzzzt happening when you flip a light switch (or to fix and entire room, as happened about a month after we moved in...)

And after a while, when you realize that in spite of repeatedly getting on your hands and knees to scrub the floor, in spite of steaming the tiles, and then using an acid wash, that floor is never coming clean, you begin to despise that damned floor. You already hated the freaking counters because they're basically bathroom tile to which every wayward cat hair sticks, but now you hate the floor, and by association, the entire kitchen.

So you muse about getting it remodeled, but never do anything about it because that seems like paying a lot of money for a lot of inconvenience. The kitchen is serviceable. Leave it.

But then cabinets start to crack, and counters start to fracture. And you start really looking at things, and realize structurally, things are not as sound as they should be.

They're also kind of ugly. With all the lights on, you can really see how faded the finish is on the cabinets; nothing looks really dirty, per se, but it all looks very old and very tired, and when you think about it you realize the house is 20 years old and this is all original and contractor grade materials, and it was never cared for properly.

Replacing the kitchen becomes not a want but pretty much a necessity, lest the cracks become fissures and swallow the first kitty to walk across them.

So...yeah. It's about time to replace the cabinets and counters and floor in the kitchen.

On one hand, I really really really don't want to do this because it will be a pain in the asterisk and I'm not in favor of pain, but on the other...we could have a kitchen I won't be embarrassed about.

We've found the company to do it, I think. Measurements have been taken, we have a really good idea of the colors we want, and Monday we're going to their showroom to see what they have to offer. We're not committed yet, no official contracts have been signed, but...

It would be a shame if the kitchen ate a kitty.


20 April 2014

Um. I know I said I wasn't going to do this in 2014, but I was feeling really squirrely about it and figured I would at least register and train, and see what happens.

2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in San Francisco.

I haven't had a lot of luck with the Avon; two years ago I was sicker than sick, and last year I got there and realized I was not up to it for similar reasons.

Still.

I have to try this year.

I won't be doing a lot of fundraising because of the odds of not walking, so no worries about me getting in your face with donation requests. But I am going to try to walk it, even if I only walk part of it.

Worst case scenario, I don't walk.

Not so bad scenario, I go there and follow my friends around in my topless little red car, mocking them as they sweat.

Good scenario, I walk the half marathon option Day 1 and finish Day 2. Or even chase people Day 1 and walk Day 2.

Best...I walk the whole damn thing, but really, I just want to get there, and be healthy enough to start the first day, even if I sweep a lot of it.

Training begins....well, soon, since the walk is in two and a half months.

14 April 2014

I had to get up at a normal-people hour this morning because of an annual show-up-prove-you're-not-dead appointment with my endocrinologist. This required getting bloodwork last Monday--which is rarely an easy thing for me because my veins are apparently shy--and today was really just a visit to have her look at the results, tell me I have wonderful things in my blood, refill my meds, and then schedule another appointment for one year from today at a normal-people hour.

But...now I have to get up at a normal-people hour tomorrow for one more blood test (nothing big, just seeing where my cortisol is right now; I've had some low blood sugar symptoms that are likely nothing, but given my history cortisol might be a culprit).

I don't like morning.

It burns.

Still...I've never been a morning person but I would like to be a morning person. Being a night person is kind of sucky when you're night blind. When you sleep until 9:30-10:00 and dark happens at 5ish during the winter, there's not much time to get things done and go places when you have to get home by 8-year-old-curfew times.

There's no snooze button on this alarm...
Now, I have a furry little alarm clock. He goes off every morning at 6:15 and then again at about 7:15. The first time it seems to be him just saying hello, pet me and I'll go away; the second is get up and feed me. On the mornings when the Spouse Thingy is coming home from work, I tell my furry little alarm clock to frak off, and I roll over and go back to sleep.

Other days I feed him and then go back to bed.

The only way I'm going to become a morning person is to get up when it burns. So tomorrow I will get up, whine, go get my blood drawn, come home, whine, and then try to get to bed at a normal-people hour tomorrow night. And maybe--maybe--I'll drag myself up on Wednesday and feed the furballs and not go back to bed. And then Thursday.

By Friday I will either be dead or used to it.

I will still whine.

You are forewarned.

10 April 2014

Because of...reasons, my dad gave me a healthy appreciation of avoiding fire. That tends to happen when your house burns down when you're a kid; we never had a fire in the fireplace--when we had one--or had Christmas lights outside when I was a kid. He relented on that latter thing later in life, but for all of my childhood he was a manical kind of careful where the potential for fire was concerned.

My mother was fully on board with that; there were times she would have liked a toasty fire crackling away in the fireplace and she wanted outside holiday decorations, but she couldn't imagine the horror of that particular scar on his childhood and wasn't about to push those limits. She knew his biggest concern wasn't necessarily of losing another home to a fire, but of losing his family. My dad was a quiet man, emotionally reserved, but he was a family man to the core. He lived for his wife and his kids, and then his grandkids, and was not risking anything.

So fire was limited to the BBQ grill, and he was pretty obsessive about making sure it was put out after he was done grilling.

I am not as obsessive, but he did drill some of that caution pretty deeply into my psyche. So, when I noticed the other night that one of the lights in my ceiling light continued to glow after I turned it off, I snapped to attention. When it kept glowing, I was more than concerned. When it continued for 20 minutes, I was online looking for answers.

It was the middle of the night but there was no way I was sleeping until I knew for sure there was nothing about that fixture that would lead to a fire.

Yes, CFLs can glow for a bit, but not 20 minutes.

That thing was not being turned on again. Blame my dad, but no. Not turning it on.

This meant replacing the entire thing--the fan part hasn't worked in a long time--and replacing it meant taking the bed apart and hauling it out into the front room.

Max was annoyed. His nap time was seriously disrupted.

Buddah, on the other hand...he was thrilled.

 He helped us drag the box springs out of the room by jumping on top and riding until we made him get down, but his disappointment over that was soon soothed by the discovery of the mattress standing in the front room.

He ran for it and climbed it like  tree.

He jumped down, and did it again...but this time decided he was staying put.

An hour later, he was still there, watching everything going on around him.

An hour after that, he was asleep, stretched out on that narrow strip of mattress.

After the Spouse Thingy got the new ceiling fan installed (with minimal help from me...I mainly just handed him a few screws and then played on Facebook) we ran out to get some lunch and to go to the grocery store; when we came back an hour later he was finally down, but the mattress was still warm.

I almost felt bad for him when we dragged everything back into the bedroom.

So now...I won't worry about turning the light on, and the fan on that thing is super quiet. I've been sleeping with a fan for over 30 years, but they've always been loud desk fans or floor fans on tall poles. They've provided enough white noise that I sometimes wonder if they've damaged my hearing, but I can't sleep without one.

Last night the quiet of this fan let me hear all the nighttime house noise, and as noisy as I've always thought Max is...he's worse. That little chit talks *a lot* during the night. I heard him on the other side of the house, probably bitching at Buddah. I heard him in the next room, announcing his decision to sleep on his tower in there for a while. I heard his feet pad up and down the hall.

No wonder he sleeps most of the day away. He wanders the house all night.

Well...he wanders when he's not curled up next to my head.

That horribly furry spot Buddah's on top of?

That's where Max waits in the morning for me to wake up. That's where Max waits for breakfast. It's where he waits for me to roll over and give him sleepy head skritches.

No, that's not a month's worth of fur. It's about a week's worth.

Yeah, you don't want to stay here if you have cat allergies.

The house won't burn down on you now, thanks to the Spouse Thingy's willingness to take seriously my want of a new ceiling fan because...fire...but you will probably swell up like a Macy's Parade Balloon, and while I keep lots of Benedryl on hand, it probably wouldn't be enough.


7 April 2014

When Max talks about getting a Twinkie, either on his blog or on FB, this is what he's talking about:


That's it.

Just a dab on my finger.

I do not feed my cats entire Twinkies.

All right?

All right.

31 March 2014

My sister has been sending me old family photos--really the only thing I wanted, and something that with technology today is pretty easy to share with everyone. My ultimate goal is to get everything scanned so that the rest of the family can get the pictures they want, but it's going to take a long time, I think. I've barely scratched the surface with about 75 pictures done.

Part of the process that I should have expected but didn't--most of the pictures are very, very old and are faded to being barely able to see. Some I won't be able to do anything with, but a lot of them...

My mom. With a bear in Germany. No, I don't know why.
  I can at least tone down the yellowing age has inflicted them with and try to enhance other colors. The old black and white photos--some 60 years old--only need brightening.

My dad on the left; he was probably around 22 years old.
 And some scratch removal.

Have to admit, it's been a lot of fun going through these pictures. Some I remember, most I do not, and some are kind of eye opening. I'd forgotten just how social my parents were when I was little--there are a lot of pictures from parties, of people I have absolutely no memory of. Judging by the drinking...I'm pretty sure my parents had no memory of them, either.

Heh.

And now we know for sure where I get it all from.


Yep. That's my mom on the left. On a tricycle. In a helmet. With a giant peace medallion around her neck on a thick chain.

We knew it had to come from somewhere...

30 March 2014

This is longer than I intended, might be better suited for when you have insomnia...Conversation with an UndrCvr Murfazoid, sometime in the last couple of weeks...

Not introverted. If anything you’re more of an ambivert: traits of both, and where you fall on the spectrum at any given time depends on the day, the sunlight, if you’re facing north or south, and how many zombies are chasing you.

But seriously, think about it. In junior high and in 9th grade? You were fearless. Even while you picked on me you defended me to everyone else and you stood up to jocks who towered over you. You never hesitated to be the first to give oral reports in class; you pushed unabashed editorial pieces through in journalism, even when you knew they were written with the absurd in mind (remember Cheezus from Planet Cheeto?); you didn’t blink at standing up in front of the music class with your guitar while you sang. You stood up to the she-devil teacher of junior high and you wanted the hardest history teacher in 8th grade—and then proceeded to challenge him in front of everyone. You were by no definition shy back then; it wasn’t until I knew you as an adult that I saw some of those traits, and honestly, I am curious what the triggers might have been, if there even were any.

Shyness, social anxiety, introversion; anxiety in general.

I don’t even know how we got on the topic, but the discussion went on a long time and left me awake most of the rest of the night as I tried to reach back into the very dusty corners of my brain and pick through cobweb-coated memories.

I wanted to say I’d had some level of social anxiety my entire life; going places the first time alone has always been hard. Meeting new people has always been terrifying. The idea of carrying on a conversation has been puzzling for…forever.

Yet, when I look back with a modicum of honesty…no. As a kid I jumped into life with reckless abandon. There was so much to do and not enough time to do it all before curfew called me inside. As a teenager, I was perhaps less reckless, but I didn’t cower from things.

Jump on the bus and head downtown alone? Not a problem.

Run to McD’s to meet up with a friend who was bringing along someone new? That was fun.

Jump into a school project with kids I didn’t know? Fine.

The aunt and uncle I don’t remember at all are coming for a visit? Sweet!

Those things today might just about paralyze me. I was a fairly extroverted kid who somewhere along the way became not only introverted to a degree, but also fearful. Meeting new people, the idea of having to carry on a conversation with them is actually painful. I can do it if I’m with someone I know and trust, but by myself?

Agony.

I tend toward the quiet; what the hell can I talk about? How will the empty spaces be filled? I don’t like awkward, and abrupt conversation is awkward. What if I don’t have anything to contribute? Everything will be wrong and it will be my fault. I’m a writer; I like being able to go back and edit; I need to be able to go back and edit. You just can’t do that when you’re speaking with someone.

I am going to say something stupid.

Getting involved in something with people I only know online, no matter how much I like them?

Terrifying.

You’ll do things the truly introverted will not; once you decided to join the 3 Day walk, it was something you truly looked forward to. You walk around with neon pink hair; you SHAVED YOUR HEAD in front of hundreds of people and were less concerned over the purple hair as one might have hoped (sorry.) Yet when you flip the coin over and examine the other side: you went to a conference in a very playful place, but you couldn’t have gone without Mike because of new people. You engage in business strictly by email and texting, and if you examine it closely, it’s because the very idea of having to do it in person scares the hell out of you.

This is marginally the truth.

That first 3 Day…The Spouse Thingy went with me to the hotel; he stayed with me as I met people I knew online. I didn’t jump into that alone. I’m as surprised as anyone else that I agreed to do it in the first place because—aside from my other issues—I knew it meant meeting several people.

It doesn’t even matter that I knew I would like them and they wouldn’t hate me. I still would have gone—I know that, not just think that—but it would have been roughly 500 times more difficult if the Spouse Thingy had not tagged along.

Have I met you? Than chances are I’ll be able to head off to hang with you all by myself. But you’ll also have to be someone I’m sure won’t take it personally if I stammer, stutter, or just don’t have a lot to say.

I’m not anti-social. I’m just awkwardly social.

Stereotype is to blame the mother; it’s always the mother’s fault.

The stereotype is bullshit.

This is not my mother’s doing; hell, the example I had growing up was of social interaction. My mom was a social butterfly; she had friends everywhere, she was active and involved, and her endeavors were wonderfully creative. By the time she stopped being social I was no longer living with them; I was married and the Air Force was bouncing us around.

And that may be the trigger right there. All that moving; the older you get, it seems like you forget to understand how one makes friends, and it’s more difficult to meet anyone as it is.

But I don’t really know. That might be it; that might be way off the mark.

Here’s the odd thing: people can come up to me while I sit in Starbucks and start a conversation; I’m fine with that. I don’t panic. I don’t think anything other than whatever they want to discuss.

However…I will never be the one initiating that conversation.

You pick on a kid in public and start shouting or hitting, I probably will say something/threaten something/get in over my head. I don’t stop to worry about what you think, feel, that you might not want me to bother you at that moment…I just react. If you pick on me I won’t hesitate (most of the time) to tell you to shove it, how hard, and how far.

I’m not anxious when I perhaps need to be.

But damn…even before my hearing got the better of me, I didn’t like the phone. Calling someone? It might take an hour to work up the nerve…and not just to strangers. To anyone. While it was inconsistent, I had a few times where I had to talk myself into calling my own mother. Why? Who the hell knows? I only know it was a lot of work to dial the damn thing.

To be fair, I do know the trigger for that…it doesn’t change anything, but I know where it stems from and it’s a fairly innocent thing, going back to when I was just a kid and we lived in Germany. There was no flat rate phone service; my parents had to pay for every call we made, so permission had to be granted before I could use the phone, and 99% of the time the answer was no. I was 6,7,8 years old; why the hell did I need to call anyone when my friends were in the same damned building? (That’s my “damned” not something I heard from either parent.) Go knock on their doors and see if they can come out and play.

Over the years that just warped from only being allowed necessary calls to being afraid to make them at all.

By the time I wanted to pick up the phone and call, I couldn’t hear on it. Karma or Kismet or whatever…it’s a bitch. It breeds its own concerns: what the hell will I do if a call needs to be made—an emergency—and there’s no one else here to do it? How many people think it’s and excuse and not a reason, and they take it personally?

There’s nothing wrong with being a quiet person; there is, perhaps, something wrong with not being able to participate in the normal back and forth of simple small talk, not asking of someone else what they have asked of you. But I understand this and take the blame; you’ve been conditioned to not ask questions because over the years I wouldn’t and couldn’t answer them. Not asking becomes habit. That’s still less than being introverted; you want to engage, you simply had a barrier placed in front of you and haven’t set it on fire and burned it down.

Fine, I’ll blame him for it.

Seriously, though, I do grasp that I fail in normal back and forth conversation sometimes. Those moments when you’re just getting to know someone and they ask you what you do for a living, how many kids you have, dogs or cats, where’d you go to school…I answer those questions but often don’t follow it up with a question in kind.

That’s either because I really have been conditioned to not ask, or I’m just a bit backwards. Or both. I accept that it might be both.

The curious element for me is the anxiety experienced when confronted with the known; you can hang out with someone you met while having your security blanket with you, yet you backpedal furiously if you have to meet them again knowing they will have someone new with them. The idea of meeting someone new seems to be like flying is for you: you can do it if you have no other choice, but you’d rather not and it might be best if you’re drunk. And the truly puzzling piece is that particular anxiety extends to family.

That’s only partially true. I wouldn’t feel anxious over the idea of meeting up with my sisters at all. Extended family, aunts and uncles, sure. I don’t know them, really. I don’t remember them other than their names and with only a couple exceptions haven’t seen them since I was a very young kid. I got reamed out on the phone by one when I had to cancel plans to go over to their house for dinner; they’d moved into the same area I lived in, but the Boy was a baby and had gotten sick. I don’t think she believed me, because the lasagna she made was apparently more important than why we had to cancel at the last minute.

I couldn’t change that. A baby with a 104o temp trumps someone else’s hurt feelings. But really, that’s neither here nor there and doesn’t have much to do with any of my quirks.

Still…these days I can only take in so much at once; if we’re going off to do something fun and I don’t invite you, it’s not because I don’t want you there, it’s because I know I’ll already be at my limit.

Or maybe it’s because we have a need to be alone.

It wasn’t too long ago we went somewhere and there were a lot of hurt feelings because we didn’t ask people to come hang with us. Seriously hurt feelings. But the truth was that—aside from the point that we did want to be alone, we were celebrating something personal (and we should have come right out with that but we didn’t)—in that one geographical area there were no fewer than 16 people who wanted to see us. We had 3 days, 16 people; some were friends who understood. Some were family, and I did hear but we’re family.

Yeah, well, they weren’t the only family in the area. If we’d visited everyone…well, it wouldn’t have been the private celebration we were shooting for.

And really…at some point, things like that stop being a vacation and become a trip to visit family.

People were going to be hurt no matter what. So we specifically went alone, and made it pretty clear that we weren’t looking anyone up while we were in the area.

And it really is more than wanting privacy. All those people…I would have been overwhelmed.

And that, to be honest, has nothing to do with all my weird little quirks and everything to do with the brain tumor of 2002 and the issues it left me with. That’s half the reason flying is a bad idea for me, and a lot of the reason I don’t cope well in certain situations. Cortisol goes up, blood sugar goes down, and bad things happen. If they don’t happen emergently, they just feel horrible.

I don’t do things to intentionally feel horrible.

And I’ve gone way off track.

You are who you are, and who you are is fundamentally a good person, ambiversion and all. It may do no good at all to pick apart the issues you know you have and the issues others see in you. Just accept that for the same reasons you overlook your friends’ issues, others overlook yours. And the friends who have caused you issues…are very sorry.

I totally paid him to say that.

I know you’ll write about it. It’s what you do. I’m fine with it.

That’s good, because I wasn’t going to ask permission…

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