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.
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.
4/20/2014 10:26:00 PM | | 0 Comments
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.
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...|
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.
4/14/2014 04:43:00 PM | | 2 Comments
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.
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.
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.
4/10/2014 05:18:00 PM | | 3 Comments
When Max talks about getting a Twinkie, either on his blog or on FB, this is what he's talking about:
Just a dab on my finger.
I do not feed my cats entire Twinkies.
4/07/2014 11:09:00 PM | | 6 Comments
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.|
|My dad on the left; he was probably around 22 years old.|
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.
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...
3/31/2014 10:52:00 PM | | 6 Comments
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?
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?
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…
3/30/2014 04:22:00 PM | | 7 Comments
But for whatever reason this morning, I was semi-awake at 4:45 and heard a noise a lot like a car door slamming. And within 5 seconds, he was there by my head, meowing at me. I rolled over just as he jumped down and ran off, so I followed him.
He headed straight for the front door, and looked out the narrow door-length window there...like he does at 7:15 when the Spouse Thingy usually gets home from work.
And it clicked: one of the neighbors is either leaving for work at o'dark-thirty or they're coming home, and he thinks it's the Spouse Thingy. He wakes me up because YAY! He's home!
I can only imagine his daily crushing disappointment when that door doesn't open. I don't know how long he waits there, but I'm guessing it's 20 minutes or so, based upon how long it took him to stand in the doorway to register his daily complaint.
He was back at 6:45 as usual, curling up next to me while he meowed every minute; I've always taken this as "get up...get up...get up...get up..." but now I wonder if it's really "where is he? where is he?"
So I think I get it now. I'm still not happy about it, because...sleep...but I get it.
3/24/2014 11:27:00 AM | | 2 Comments
Toodleoo, Fred...I truly hope God will have for you the forgiveness that the rest of us can't muster, and will show you depths of compassion and mercy that you didn't seem to have for others.
I don't believe in the literal definition of Hell, but I suspect when you get where you're going, you're going to see the tears in his eyes and feel the pain you've caused him, and your soul will absolutely clench.
3/20/2014 11:04:00 AM | | 2 Comments
If the bike were just a bike, I'd chuck the helmet, but it has a battery and pedal-assist, so theoretically I could pedal fast and hard, run the motor, and get the bike up to 15-20 mph (so far, I haven't done that, because I can only pedal steady and a tad better than slowish.)
If I wear the helmet, there's a 99.9% chance that I will overheat. This has resulted in me passing out, though not while on the bike. I did manage to get inside the house and my butt to the floor before the lights went out.
I did buy the most vented and well made helmet I could find. Still, overheating.
Definitely a conundrum for me.
3/19/2014 06:52:00 PM | | 2 Comments
|Yes, evil exists in this world, and he's the face of much of it.|
Facebook and Twitter and every other social space on the Internet is painting a picture of a world without much sympathy for the idea that Fred Phelps might not be with us much longer.
I won't rejoice when he's dead. I think what he's done with his life is nothing more than painting in lowlights and monochromatic flatness, bereft of contribution other than to his own bank accounts; that doesn't give me license to tapdance on the man's grave.
And that church is still out there. He was supposedly excommunicated by his own church, and I really want to know why, but whether he's with them or not it exists through his own efforts.
But no, when he dies, I will not cheer. I won't be happy about it. I'll shrug it off. But it's not something that will make me happy. A life lost is opportunity lost; he'll never have the chance at redemption in the eyes of most of humanity.
Hell, who knows, maybe that's why he was kicked out of his church. Maybe he had a nice one-on-one with the Big Guy and realized he was so, so very wrong. Maybe God looked right at him and told him simply, I don't hate anyone, but you broke my heart.
I doubt it, but still.
Whether he dies now or whether he dies a year from now, I would hope there aren't massive throngs of people gathering to celebrate.
What I really hope are that thousands of gay men and women gather together in a massive ring around the site of his funeral, where they will pray for his lost, misguided, angry soul.
It would be the right thing to do.
And it would piss him off so very, very much.
No, I won't rejoice; I won't be happy. But that would be a just sendoff, methinks.
3/16/2014 06:48:00 PM | | 0 Comments
Funny enough, my head feels cold. I didn't expect that, given that I have very short hair anyway, but after getting it shaved off...yep, walking around the mall, it was cold.
Overall there were 314 people registered for the event...and only 80 women. *Lots* of kids, though, and a surprising number of younger girls, getting shoulder length and longer hair shaved off.
Those are the ones I give major respect to. It takes a lot for a little girl to go bald, especially those who are around junior high age, when how you look is *everything.*
And something that surprised me...I was a little nervous.
After about 10 minutes, I was waiting to be the next one out onto the stage.
Yep, a little nervous.
This is KCRA (Sacramento channel 3, NBC) Chris Riva talking to me, and after getting my name and where I was from, the first thing he asked, "Why the purple."
Oh yeah, I threw you all under the bus and told him I have strange friends who donate money to see me do stupid things.
Will I do it again?
Ask me again in a couple of weeks, when I've had to deal with staring and questions...
3/15/2014 04:22:00 PM | | 4 Comments
It was just before Christmas, and I wasn't buying anything for myself. I made note of it, though, and when we were both back in Old Sac while I made the appointment for my Grumpy & Thumper tattoo, I decided I would get that picture if it was still there.
And it was.
She was politely interested when he mentioned making wood and acrylic pens and selling them on Etsy; she was less polite and far more interested when he was able to show her pictures; those were wonderful, she told him, perhaps he could consider submitting some of his work for consideration.
A couple of weeks later, after thinking about it for a bit, he took a few of his pens up to show her; not as a submission, but to see if she really thought it would be worth the time and effort to submit to their jury. While he was in the gallery, I was walking around outside, and as I passed the gallery (many times, it doesn't take long to walk around Old Sac) there was a guy out front on his phone, excitedly telling someone else "he works in acrylics, and what he has here is really good."
I was fairly sure it was the Spouse Thingy he was talking about, but it wasn't until I walked past again (hey, I got to the end of the building and turned around, because I needed to know) that I was sure: he was talking to someone in charge, and he was incredibly enthused about what he had seen
(Turns out that this guy was the woodworker, the one with the hand crafted table and rocking chair...and his stuff is amazing. If we didn't have cats, we would have that table.)
After seeing his samples, they both assured him that his pens and letter openers and bottle stoppers were not only worth submitting, but he had their vote. Consider it an official invitation to submit to the jury.
So last week, when the jury met, he submitted several pieces for consideration so they could get a clear idea what he does and what he would display. And he resigned himself to waiting to hear the results; just because they were meeting that evening, that doesn't mean their decision would be announced.
As soon as the jury was done, someone called: not only did he get in, it was unanimous. And he was being offered a display spot now, which was never a given. He knew from talking to other artists that he might be accepted, but it might be 2 or 4 or 6 months before he would be given actual space.
Basically, as soon as he could, they wanted him to start displaying.
So today he took a good selection of his pens, a few clocks, corkscrews, keychains, and some bottle stoppers up, and set up his display.
If you're in the area, you can see his display at the Artists' Collaborative Gallery in Old Sacramento. Everything is for sale...and there are some really beautiful things in the gallery.
3/12/2014 04:33:00 PM | | 2 Comments
All righty, the purple dye is on the hair, and I'm ready for the St. Baldrick's shaving event in 10 days.
I'm pretty sure I have dye stains on my scalp, so hopefully those will wear off before then; if not, y'all have something to mock me for.
But the big thing?
I think I need to worry more about actually going bald, not just getting my head shaved and being bald for a couple weeks.
Spouse Thingy and I are participating in the MS Walk in Solano County. He finally has a Saturday off on the 26th of April, and we're getting our asterisks up early and going to Suisun to walk and hopefully get a shiny medal.
If you're in the area, you're welcome to come walk with us!
3/05/2014 10:41:00 PM | | 5 Comments
“…yeah, write about it. I really want to know what other people think. My kid is only 21 and he’s planning out this elaborate tattoo. A quarter sleeve? From his shoulder to not quite his elbow. I don’t have an issue with the image he wants to get; it’s beautiful art. But he’s only 21; he’s not going to be the same person in 10 years. How can he choose something so permanent with so much of his life ahead?”
I’ve gotten close to the same question about my own ink; I suspect most people who get tattoos hear the same thing: how are you going to feel about that in 20 years?
Me? In 20 years I’ll be 72 and I doubt I’ll give a damn about the sags and wrinkles in my skin and what aging has done to my art. If I’ve taken care of the tattoos they should be fine in terms of fading and the like, but aging is what it is, and what it is going to do is thin out my skin, add wrinkles, add sagging, and who knows what else.
No one can change the fact that they’re going to age; if you choose to get tattoos you have to accept that those will change along with you.
After my last tattoo I uploaded it to Imgur so that I could show it to people on Reddit’s /r/tattoos subreddit; Imgur also allows comments, and when I went back to it a few days later someone had left the comment, you know that shit’s permanent, right?
I don’t know if they were trying to be sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn’t matter. I took it as the latter and responded in kind.
But yeah. This shit is permanent. And I get where my friend is coming from; at 21 her son isn’t done growing up and becoming himself. What he likes at 21 might not be what he likes at 31. Think about it; the band you absolutely loved at 15 is often cringe-worthy at 25. Through your 20s you make a lot of the same leaps in maturity and personal growth that you do in your teens. What seems vitally important at 21 might be laughable at 31.
I get that.
But from where I sit—and she knows this—is that if her son has been seriously considering this piece of art for more than six months, as long as a year, and he still wants it, he should get it.
A decade from now it might not be what he would choose. Or he might wish he’d done this one part a little bit differently. Or wish he’d gone to a better artist.
That doesn’t mean he’ll wish he’d never gotten it. Or even that he would change a thing about it.
I can see that now; I didn’t know nearly enough about how to look at a portfolio and determine good work from marginal and craptastic.
When you look at that first tattoo and compare it to the last one I got, the difference is astounding. In terms of quality, the first is a Yugo, the last is a Cadillac. During years between I learned a lot about tattoo quality and how to choose a decent artist.
In those years, I learned a lot, period.
Still, even though I have a fantastic artist now, I wouldn’t ask him to change it. I wouldn’t ask for anything beyond touching up the color. Everything else, I would leave the same.
When I got the tattoo, I knew what it meant to me, and what it means has never changed, even though I have. It’s a thousand colorful threads in the tapestry of my personal story; it’s a part of me, good or bad. I will always be able to look at it and have a feel for where I was in life when I got it.
Each tattoo, whether it had deep meaning when I got it or not, is a part of that tapestry. It’s my history, part of the evolution of becoming and being me.
The cats in the tree, for the rest of my life are testament to commitment and family; no matter what my parents honored the promises they made to each other and I can look at it and feel them together, even now. That family tree spring from the storybook of their lives; it’s not just for me, it’s for the sisters I have because of their commitment, for the wonderful memories of all they’ve been and done for me.
Pink ribbon feet…all the miles walked, the reminder that no matter how bad I might have it at times, someone out there needs my feet on the ground doing something, not sitting here feeling sorry for myself.
Karen Nichols for Max’s Mousebreath column is there to remind me that in the vast, echoing halls of the Internet, there are people who are creative and wonderfully generous. People who will bend over backwards for total strangers, who aren’t afraid to take that leap from the shadows into some fairly absurd fun. Max starting a blog brought into my life people who will matter to me until the bitter end.
And the latest one, purely for fun, but it’s totally the Spouse Thingy and me. The Grumpy who is rarely a grump, the laughter and the fun.
No matter where life takes me, how much I change, these images I carry with me are touchstones to who I was in the moment; they trigger cherished memories and feelings. I may not always be in love with the individual tattoos—I think anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo will ride waves of feeling about it over the years—but they will always remind me of that time in my life.
They’re always going to matter.
My friend’s 21 year old is going to change; we all do. But when he’s 40 that tattoo probably won’t be a regret, but a touchstone.
“What do you feel when you look down and see all that ink on your arms?”
In all honestly…I finally feel like me.
2/26/2014 04:21:00 PM | | 4 Comments
Every morning, even if I stumbled to the kitchen earlier to feed the cats, Max comes into the bedroom between 9-9:30 and wakes me up. He tends to take this job seriously, making sure that I get out of bed, get dressed, and take my meds. I almost rely on him; he seems to understand when I'm sick and doesn't get me up then, but otherwise it's pretty rare that my furry alarm doesn't jump on the bed and meow in my ear.
Then comes this morning. I rolled over and figured it had to be a little before 9, because there was no furry lump curled up by my head. I debated waiting for him--he does seem to enjoy being the one to get me up--or just going ahead, because dammit, I had to pee.
My small, often-faulty sense of logic kicked in: just check the time. If it was only 2-3 minutes before 9, I could probably wait. If it was 9:15, I'd be better off getting up.
So I rolled over again and looked at the clock.
Seriously...it was nearly 11 o'clock and no Max.
No, I was not worried. My first impulse was Hell yeah, I caught up on some sleep and my second was to feel a bit guilty because I was likely the reason he didn't wake me up. He was sound asleep in the living room, probably tired because I kept him up last night.
Now it's a little after midnight and I'm wide awake because...well, I got up at 10:45. Max is asleep in another room because I'm in the living room making noise. Which means tomorrow he's going to pry my ass out of bed around 8:45, just because he can.
2/24/2014 12:17:00 AM | | 0 Comments
"Penultimate" does not mean "the best" nor does it mean "most ultimate." It means the one before the last. Second to last. Not the last; not the best; not the squeal-with-happiness ending.
So if someone tells you "that was the penultimate sucker punch," you might want to brace yourself, because another one is coming.
(This aside is brought to you by the letter "Y," the number 6, and a teacher for whom the discussion on the word led to GREAT BIG GIANT SHOUTING LETTERS and I'M A TEACHER AND YOU'RE NOT SO LALALALA SHUDDUP*. Don't blame me; I just witnessed it. And I weep a little for her students.)
2/21/2014 03:07:00 PM | | 2 Comments
After getting a small bite of the Spouse Thingy's dinner--a beef brat--Max wandered over to the fireplace, pulled his nip banana close, and drifted off.
This isn't unusual; he loves the fireplace and likes to plop down there, bake on one side, flip over, bake, and then go cool off in his little hutch next to the fireplace.
But after a while, I realized he hadn't flipped over.
And a bit after that, he'd been there far longer than normal.
So I watched. And from where I sat, I couldn't tell if he was breathing or not. I picked up my phone and turned it on--that usually gets an eye open--and then took a picture, and he still didn't budge.
"Max," I whispered.
"Max." A little louder.
"Breathe, you little shit," at full volume.
I almost got up; I knew that if he was all right, just the sound of the recliner's footrest being lowered would wake him up, because it's loud and he doesn't like it. But the goal wasn't to really bother him...it was to just make sure he was alive.
So I whispered again.
His eyes popped open, he lifted his head, and looked at me like, "Did I hear that right? Treats?"
I sighed hard, and was =t h i s= close to getting up and getting him a couple of crunchy treats, when he pulled his banana even closer and set his head on it, closing his eyes.
He's pushing 13. So I worry. And I suspect he knows it.
2/17/2014 09:19:00 PM | | 4 Comments
So far, all my tattoos have had meaning, either something deeply personal or a memorial. But this time? This time I wanted something cool. Something fun. Something for the Spouse Thingy and me, but with no deep meaning behind it other than I wanted it.
The Spouse Thingy is Grumpy...or at least all his Disney t-shirts have Grumpy on them. I'm still Thumper. And that's pretty much all I told Big Greg about what I wanted. I had a picture to show him, but that was really only a reminder of what I wanted. Thumper, Grumpy, and awesome.
I'm thrilled with it.
This one was pretty ouchy, though; somewhere around the 3 hour mark I got light headed and for about half an hour wondered if I was going to have to tap out, but a 10 minute break and some sugar got me back in the seat. And at the 5.25 hour mark I was getting a little squirrely but Big Greg keeps lidocaine spray on hand and used a little to get me to the 5.45 hour mark and done.
It really does make my first Thumper tattoo look like crap...not that I love that one any less; it was my first and exactly what I wanted at the time. It's just that at the time I had no idea how to choose the right artist and didn't listen to the "Um, wait" voice in my head.
No, I'm not done.
I have nekkid legs, after all...
2/13/2014 10:30:00 PM | | 2 Comments
Random 6th grade memory:
For whatever reason—sadistics, statistics—when I was in 6th grade it was deemed necessary for the school nurse to drag a scale from classroom to classroom and get a weight for each of student. For “privacy” the scale was kept in the hallway near the door, and we were called out one by one; our teacher stayed in the hall with the nurse, dutifully recording each student’s weight as the nurse said it out loud. No whispers, no stage whispers; she said it loudly and clearly.
We were all 11 and 12 years old; pre-teens are not exactly kind nor are they particularly sensitive about their classmates’ feelings. When the 6’ tall kid weighed in at 170, no one blinked, but when the 5’1” kid weighed in at 186, there was laughter and snorting. It was covered up with a lot of general chatter, but he knew. He could hear us, and could hear the precise moment when the chatter turned to laughter. I’m sure the teacher and the nurse heard, too, but pretended there was nothing going on in that classroom other than a lot of nonsense talking.
Compared to the other 6th grade girls I was fairly tall, and when it was my turn, no one laughed. There was apparently nothing noteworthy about my weight; the kids didn’t burst out in abrupt laughter and the nurse had nothing to say to me about it. She’d spoken to kids who were a little on the heavy side and she’d spoken to kids who were on the light side. Not a word to me, other than, “Thank you, you can go back to your seat.”
When my mother picked me up from school, I think I reported the Major Event of the Day as soon as I slid into the car. “We got weighed today!”
Apparently it was that exciting for me, since I couldn’t wait to tell her, but before I could add onto that the harsh judgment of the poor kid upon whom so much ill will was heaped, she rushed out with, “How much do you weigh?”
One hundred twenty pounds.
Until that moment, it was just a personal fact. I had brown hair, green eyes, I was five feet five inches tall and I weighed one hundred and twenty pounds.
She recoiled, literally. When that number tumbled out of my mouth she blanched, pushing herself against the driver’s side door and she blurted out, “Oh my God, you weigh more than I do!”
She wasn’t just horrified; she was pissed off. This wasn’t the first time she’d been clear about having an issue with my weight: in 4th and 5th grade I had to hear *a lot* about how I’d been skinny until third grade and how I needed to quit eating so much junk. This was the first time, however, that she’d been so unbridled with her disgust about my weight. The first time that she didn’t bite back her anger, and the first time she was basically mean about it.
To be honest, I doubt she realized she was being mean. For whatever reason, she didn’t want to have a fat kid, and those numbers told her that’s what she had. And it horrified her.
It was also a lie.
Look, I was 11 years old, very active, 5’5”, 120 pounds. I walked all over the apartment complex with my friends just about every day, I was on the soccer team, I played basketball for the fun of it, and I joined the track team. I wasn’t a little cookie-snarfing slug. I know I didn’t weigh more than she did; she was 5’8” or so and if she weighed less than 140, I’d be very, very surprised. So I don’t really know why that’s what popped out of her mouth.
|At 16; I thought I was fat...|
There seems to be a theme to my life.
|At 30; I was sure I was HUGE.|
The truth is, I didn’t get truly overweight until I was around 35, and then it came on so fast it was kind of hard to believe. We moved from San Antonio where I was training in TKD 5 times a week to Illinois where I wasn’t. Without a change in diet, weight came on. It was still a few years before I was officially fat, and while I could blame chronic pain and hardly being able to move at times, I won’t. I like to eat; I don’t like to cook. So we eat out more than we should, and that results in some chub.
Do I have issues with it now?
Well, now I really am fat. But now I don’t really care most of the time. Somewhere along the line I figured out that the more important thing was to keep active and be healthy, and while I’ve done a less than spectacular job of living that way, at least now I know it. At least now I—for the most part; I do still have moments when I look in the mirror and am pissed off at myself—don’t give a damn what other people think.
There’s the key; I care what I think about myself. You, not so much. And I cared for far too long what my mother thought, and I know that more than once it was a reason why I didn’t work harder to save the money to go visit or why I didn’t shuffle my schedule around to make it happen. Because no matter what size I actually was, deep down I knew she thought I was fat, and the 11 year old me got a close up look at what she really thought about fat people.
I think if she had realized what that one moment had done, she’d have spent years back-pedaling hard, trying to undo it. She didn’t want to inflict the wounds and scars that she did; she just didn’t stop to think about it.
She’s not really alone in that; we all say things that cut our kids deeply without meaning to. Just take away from this one thing: your kids will see, sooner or later, how you react to and treat those who are different—fat, skinny, beautiful, ugly, nerd-geek-smart, slow or lacking obvious intelligence—and it will color how they see themselves. And you can change that color by a single sentence uttered in 4 seconds; whether that color is bright and wonderful or dark and painful is up to you.
Do I blame her? Sure. But I had some spectacular parental failures, probably worse, so there can’t be a lot of judgment with the blame.
And right now?
I have M&Ms, people, and I’m going to freaking enjoy them.
2/08/2014 04:43:00 PM | | 4 Comments
Then the Spouse Thingy wanted one, and they were backordered. It seems like lots of people want this thing. I finally found him one, just in time to go to Disneyland. From what I'm hearing, they're still hard to get.
The Boy has a brand new, in the box, Fitbit Force, and he's going to give it to one lucky person. If you want a shot at winning it, all you have to do is donate to his Special Olympics Polar Plunge Fundraiser.
Every $5 you donate gets you a shot at winning it. He's going to draw the winner on February 20th.
And no kidding, I really love mine. I liked the original, but this one is so much more convenient. I only have to charge it every 8-10 days, and it has the bonus of being able to set an alarm that buzzes me awake instead of using a loud, jarring alarm clock or phone ring. And every time I hit my daily goal, it buzzes and lets me know, and honestly, that's kind of a spiffy deal.
2/06/2014 06:17:00 PM | | 0 Comments
I sat here last night watching The Biggest Loser finale with my computer perched on my lap and my phone pretty much in my hand for most of it. I co-watched it with a friend who was watching it on a DVR across the country, and as we are wont to do, we commented. About everything.
The at-home contestants looked great. The woman who won that part of the whole thing dropped 175 pounds, losing somewhere around 52% of her body weight. She looked great, but she didn't look like she'd overdone it.
But then the 3 finalists came out, and it was jaw dropping.
And yeah, the look between Bob & Jillian said a lot: she went too far, she lost too much, and that loss was a train headed right for them.
But...I didn't think it was much of a problem. This is a woman who was losing weight to win a show, and she knew exactly how to do that. She knew how much weight the winners of this show typically lose, and she undoubtedly knew how far she was willing to go.
She was a competition-class swimmer before she gained weight, and it hasn't been that long since she gained it, just a few years. You know those 3 Month Progress advertisements a lot of weight loss systems used to run? The chubby guy who morphs in just 3 months into a muscle-bound stud?
They take someone who's fit, cut, and willing to chub out, don't let him work out for 5-6 months, shove 10,000 calories a day down his throat, and then take the Day 1 picture. Those few months are not enough to lose the metabolism and muscle memory, so they hit the gym and get back on their regular food plan, eating clean, and yeah, in 3 months they're cut again.
I don't think it's all too different here, other than the time between being an athlete and trying to lost the weight. It was harder at first because it had been a few years...but an athlete's body is pretty good at retaining the memory of being lean and being fit, and once the metabolism really gets back into gear, it works quiet well.
She had to work her ass off, for sure, but somewhere in her body was the memory of being that fit and that lean. She probably worked past where she would normally be for the sake of winning, and now that she's won, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she gained back as much as ten pounds for the sake of her health.
I don't think how she looked automatically means she's gone from one extreme of having body image issues to the other.
I think it only means she really wanted to win.
The Internets like to freak. A lot. And they already are. I saw a post on FB; Bob Harper is already trying to push back from it.
But my take? She was only 3-4% higher in weight loss than the guys she was competing against. Would I do the same thing?
Hell yes, if I could. You dangle that much money in front of me and if I can do it, I will.
I bet if someone offered me $250,000 I would find a way to lost 60% of my body weight. I really would like to find out...
2/05/2014 05:01:00 PM | | 1 Comments
On July 3rd, 2012, sometime around 11 a.m., I was lying in bed on my right side with my knees drawn up and my arms crossed at my belly as if to hold life itself in; I had a notion run through my head like a cranky toddler trying to avoid getting a vaccination: Oh, God, this is why some people want to die.
I didn’t want to die; I was in serious pain and nauseated as hell, but in one fleeting moment I thought I understood why some people choose to end their lives rather than endure any more pain. I knew that sooner or later there would be at least a modicum of relief. Sooner or later the Spouse Thingy was going to come into the darkened bedroom armed with Percoset and Phenergan and that the edge of the knife of pain would have its blade dulled, and I would be able to get a little sleep. I was sicker than I had ever been, but eventually I would recover.
The longer it took for him to show up with the pain meds, the more I understood the need to crawl away from pain.
I’ve been in pain of varying degrees since 1997, but this was new; this was the sort of pain that chews you up and spits you out in large, semi-chewed bites, and keeps coming at you as if you’re a never ending buffet of sadistic culinary delights. This was pain that, had I not known that there would likely be an end point, might have sent me over the edge.
It’s stuck with me. This is why some people want to die.
Over time it’s also why I’ve come to understand, just a little bit, why addiction seems so prevalent. Why anyone would choose the risk that comes with taking that drug the first time.
No one ever thinks they’ll become addicted.
Yet I’m sure that for most, it’s the gateway to taking that knife blade and dulling the edge before it reaches the point where death is the better idea.
I was curled up in bed waiting for relief, waiting for the one thing that stood between agony and rest. The one thing I knew would make a difference.
No, I didn’t become addicted to it. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have. I was in considerable pain and it went on long enough that I can easily see how that could have happened. Another week, another month, who knows? It worked just well enough to keep me sane, and combined with the anti-nausea medication kept me asleep enough to avoid most of the emotional drainage that comes with being in that much pain.
As I felt better I was able to ease off the Percoset; I consider myself lucky for that.
Pain is pain; whether it’s physical, mental, emotional…it’s pain. It’s draining. It robs you of your ability to see past what hurts. It becomes an entity to which attention must be paid, and while you’re trying to wrestle with it, there’s not much left. You’re pretty much lost to yourself. There’s the shell of your existence, and the pain.
The agony that left me thinking I understood why some people want to die didn’t have to be physical; I don’t imagine it’s any different for someone in deep emotional pain or crushing mental disease. And the thing I knew was coming to me to help dull that agony is the same thing thousands of people in pain reach for.
I knew that drug was going to help, and all I wanted, from the moment the drugs I’d been given in the ER wore off until the Spouse Thingy came into the room, was that drug.
Yesterday as the news of the death of one hell of a talented actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, was shared in stunned Facebook status updates and urgent-sounding Tweets and news bulletins, woven into the total shock came—as it always does—the grumbling from those who felt that he’d done this to himself, so there really should be no sympathy. He made a choice; he chose to take drugs in the first place, and he chose to fall off the proverbial wagon and go back to drug use.
Maybe he did.
I doubt it, though.
No one, save for those few who were privy to the personal demons of Hoffman, will ever know what made him reach for those first drugs.
The same could be said for any addict: no one takes that first drug thinking they’ll be addicted. But there’s almost always a reason they do reach for it, and I’m betting that at the bottom of the pile of detritus of their lives is a throbbing, relentless, oh-holy-hell knife of pain, the blade of which they only wanted to dull.
I don’t know the statistics; I don’t know how many people become addicted because they were young and stupid and just wanted to try sometime fun and it kicked back on them harder than they ever could have expected. I don’t know how many people slip from the occasional recreational drink to frequent social drinking to full bore alcoholism. I don’t know anything beyond my own experience and the small window it has allowed me to peek through.
There is pain so severe that you can just want to die. And there is the hope of relief so attainable that you willingly reach for it, and you simply don’t know what the end result will be.
You may recover and be able to leave the pharmaceutical help behind, or you may not. And when you’re in that kind of pain, I don’t think it’s your fault.
Sometimes you lose.
Sometimes, you die.
And when you do…it would be nice if it didn’t come with a lot of judgment, a lot of supposition about how and why, or with character assassinations.
Miss them, mourn them…but don’t judge them. Because one day it might be you curled up in a tight ball of oh-holy-hell, and you cannot, you absolutely cannot, predict how it will end.
2/03/2014 04:40:00 PM | | 4 Comments
File this under What the Frak???
Elementary school kids' lunches seized because of debt.
An elementary school in Salt Lake City handles outstanding school lunch debt by taking food away from kids, and then throwing that food away.
Kids are being humiliated because of something their parents need to handle.
Look, the lunches have to be paid for. I get that. But instead of throwing the food out, just let the kid have it and give them a note to take home reminding their parents that their accounts are out of money. Most parents will pay up.
When I was in second grade, school lunches were paid for with tickets; we bought them in booklets of 10 or 20, and traded one ticket for one hot lunch. One day I went through the lunch line and reached for my little booklet, and discovered I had no more tickets.
|I wish lunch had looked like this...|
The horrible mean man at the cash register looked at my empty ticket booklet, told me I needed to be more aware of how many tickets I had, then handed me a slip to give to my mom that basically said, "Your kid got a free lunch today, but please take care of this."
Did some parents take advantage of that policy, which made sure grade school kids still got their lunches?
I'm sure some did. I'm sure even more made sure that their kids had enough money to buy a new lunch ticket booklet, and to pay for the free lunch they'd been given (which, if I recall correctly, was never accepted. Because forgotten lunch money happens.)
But hell, you want to really invest in education, make an impact that will likely do more for kids' ability to learn? Give them ALL free lunch, every single day. Make breakfast available every single day. Because if you keep decent food in a kid during the school day, you have a kid who is less fidgety, more able to concentrate, and more willing to expend energy in learning.
But that would cost money.
Find the money. Look to the schools that have already been experimenting with this concept and find where they're getting the money--because it's being done.
Raise my taxes?
Hell yes. If I can be guaranteed that a .05 to .1% hike on my property taxes would go towards free hot lunches for every kid in school, I'd gladly pay it. With legal, law-bound assurances that it will always go towards that, and that it cannot ever be switched to something else, I would have zero problems with that.
But *I* don't have kids in school, why should I pay that? I don't want my taxes to go to schools.
Tough shit, sunshine. I don't have school-aged kids, either, but this is an investment in everyone's future, in the kids that will run the country someday. And not wanting tax money to go towards schools? I don't want my taxes to pay anyone remotely involved with the Tea Party, but I don't get a say in that. Other people don't want their taxes funding the military, but they don't get a say in that. We don't get to pick and choose exactly where our tax dollars go, so...suck on it.
Feed the kids, dammit. And don't take away food when it's only going to be thrown away. That's so wasteful, and in the end the kids are the ones hurt by it.
Yes, I am ticked off by this. Very, very ticked off by this.
1/30/2014 04:38:00 PM | | 7 Comments