Wednesday

27 May 2015

If you’ve been hanging around since the first year of this blog (and if you have I LOVE YOU!) you know that in 2002 I had a pituitary tumor. If not…hey, in 2002 I had a pituitary tumor, which in the bigger picture is the tumor you want if you have to have a brain tumor. It's a pain, but is never cancer, and the other things it usually is are fairly treatable.

The tumor left me with some issues. Hypothyroidism, which overall is not a big deal. Diabetes Insipidus, which is a big deal but is not diabetes as one normally thinks of. The diabetes you normally think of is Diabetes Mellitus; in simple terms, that can be thought of as sugar diabetes. What I have can be thought of as water diabetes. My brain no long makes the hormone (Vasopressin) that tells the kidneys when to hold onto water and when to let it go. The end result is that without medication, I’m brutally thirsty and pee every 15 minutes. Luckily, the meds work well and I only have breakthrough occasionally.

Something that wasn’t apparent until relatively recently, though, is that I also have issues with reactive hypoglycemia and cortisol. It poked its head up a few years ago, making flying problematic (because I am a horrible flyer, my cortisol goes all OMG YOU’RE GONNA DIE! and my blood sugar chimes in with HERE LET ME HELP YOU DIE FASTER!) It’s become much more apparent in the last few years, as my levels of activity have increased, and been seriously noticeable lately, as I’ve started swimming for over an hour 4-5 days a week.

I exert, and my blood sugar sometimes just crashes. It doesn't happen every time, though, and that’s the conundrum.

I had my annual appointment with my endocrinologist today, and she’s trying to pinpoint what my core issue is. It could be related to lack of growth hormone—I was on it until a few years ago, when we stopped it because there’s such a strong family history of cancer and I’m edging closer to that age—or it could be related to cortisol levels post-exercise. It could be I’m just a very odd person who periodically bottoms out on the blood sugar, and certain diet tweaks will help.

It’s something that has to be figured out.

Because it has to be figured out, it’s probably not the greatest idea in the world for me to face something that causes me definite problems—flying—with something that likely causes problems—60 miles of walking.

I got sick during a 3 Day in San Francisco. I got sick during the San Diego walk last year. In both cases, it’s more than likely that I was not actually ill (SD med-tent doc thought it might be a virus, but now that seems less likely) but having trouble managing my electrolytes while battling blood sugar issues (at the least) along with potential cortisol issues.

To that end…I won’t be going to Philadelphia and participating in the 3 Day this year, after all. If it were a local event, I could go and walk just a part of it, but adding in the traveling and how beat up my body would be coming home, it was determined that going is just not in my best interests.
If we get this thing nailed down, I can probably walk next year.

There’s more testing to be done, specifically a post-exercise blood test, and then tweaking of pre-exercise diet and ongoing testing of blood sugar, but she did say to keep on with the swimming, racquetball, bike riding, and walking. My other blood work was “beautiful” and I’m apparently tolerating exercise well, but I do need to change a few things to lower my risks of post-exertion harm (like passing out in the pool, locker room, or behind the wheel of my car after) but I don’t have to stop.

I admit, I am a bit crushed by not being able to go to Philly, but I have to look at the bigger picture. By taking this year to get my crap together, I may be able to walk next year.

The bright side for you? I won’t be hard core fundraising. There might be a couple of fun things coming, but I’ll donate anything from those to members of my team.

The fight goes on, whether I’m there to walk the miles or not.

Saturday

16 May 2015

Starting number
Okay. So last week, for whatever reason, I'm not really sure what it was, I decided to try to use my Fitbit to track my kicks while I swim. I shoved it into a baggy, secured it to my ankle, and gave a it a whirl.

I really didn't have anything to lose; I use my Garmin Vivoactive for the most part now, and I knew it was a risk, but hey...I used a baggy, it was safe.

Spiffy, eh?
I sealed it shut tight, used athletic wrap to secure it to my ankle, and hit the pool.

It worked!

Not sure how long I was in the pool then, but it worked. The picture I have shows 2000ish on the Fitbit but I don't remember what it started with or how far I swam.

So Thursday I tried it again; I wanted to see how many kicks there are in 3000 meters, but thunder forced me out of the pool at 1250m.

I was disappointed, but it tracked my kicks.

So yesterday I went back, repeated the whole thing, and knocked out 3000 meters. After I finished, showered, and got dressed, I checked the Fitbit, and it was at 8300+ so I figure with steps taken before getting into the pool and then after, I kicked around 7500 times.

Not as many as I thought it might be, but I still got a weird little thrill out of counting them. I shoved it into my pocket, and went about my day, figuring it would register 10K soon.

But it didn't.

I got home, fished it from my pocket, and it was dead.

I whined on FB, where it was suggested I stick it in rice, and I did just that. Still wasn't particularly worried, because having it was fun but not necessary. The Garmin tracks my swimming and steps just fine. Almost all of my friends are all on Fitbit, but hey...I could still manually input swims there.

Then while I sat here today--the Fitbit is still dead--I got a message from someone I interact with on a writer's forum now and then. My FB posts propagate to Twitter, where they were following along and kinda laughing at me. Nicely.

I only know this person as The Swede. I don't even know gender, and they're quite happy to keep it that way.

They also work for a company that sells the toys I like. And because I like, I have ordered from there and my address is on file.

So The Swede decided that playtime must continue, and over-nighted a waterproof Fitbit Flex.

I did start to argue that it was too much, but The Swede made it clear they didn't have to pay for it, it's a job perk, and also, "People send you shit. It's fun."

All righty.

I also agreed to keep them apprised as to how effective a swim tool it is, and to give some water walking a try.

I can do that.

As soon as I figure out how to affix it to my ankle. The band is a hair too small and I'd like to not use the wrap.

But I'll figure it out.

Monday

11 May 2015

Many years ago, when we were living in Belleville, IL and had a membership at LiveRite Fitness, I got into a fight in the locker room. And not a hissing-at-each-other, verbal blast; this qualified as a fight, even though I never touched her.

I was changing clothes and in the next row of lockers over, there was a rather large woman drying off from her time doing laps in the pool. I wouldn't have even noticed her had Bleached Blonde Barbie not come over and whispered--loudly--that "those" people didn't belong in the gym.

You can imagine how well that went over with me. The end result was me ducking and her smashing her hand into the wall behind me, and then being thrown out of the gym (not me...I got to stay.)

I remembered it today when talking to a friend (see image; she knows I'm sharing it) about the anxiety of going to a gym when you're overweight. She has a membership to a good gym, but she never goes, because it feels like everyone is staring and judging, and the white-hot feeling of being the object of ridicule makes it unbearable.

I get that.

Here's the thing. I have worked at a gym, and that was during the height of gyms being meat markets. A large percentage of the people showing up every day weren't really there to work out; they were there to hook up. But of the people who were there to sweat...some were in fantastic shape, but many were not, and there was little talking behind peoples' backs about their weight issues.

I've been a member of several different gyms and fitness centers, and BBB was the only person I can recall being actively mean about another member's weight.

That doesn't mean there aren't those hanging around the gym who aren't thinking horrible things; there probably are, just like they're hanging round thinking horrible things about other people in the grocery store or post office or museum. People of Walmart? Those are the people who think and say awful things about others, and who mock them from the safety of their computers.

The majority of people in the gym aren't there to do anything other than get their own workouts done. If they think anything about the overweight person stretching in the corner, it's more likely to be "good for him" than anything else.

Every time I've hit the pool so far, I've been by far the largest one in the water. No one stares. No one mocks. I doubt they note anything other than there is someone in a nearby lane, which means there will be water displacement and its wake as they swim through it.

Okay, they may wonder about the snorkle I swim with. If they're going to mock anything, that's it.

And if someone was disturbed by my girth swaddled in lycra?

Tough for them. I'm there to swim, which I thoroughly enjoy, and I don't give a damn what they think. 

Go have fun doing the things you want to do, and anyone who has a problem? That's what you give them.

Nothing.

Zero Flying Phcks.

Sunday

10 May 2015

I was hoping that the gym would be pretty quiet today; I hadn't yet braved it on the weekend, but I hoped that with today being Mother's Day that people would be busy with that instead of working out, plus, how many times can I use "that" in a sentence? Too many, it seems.

The drive over made me marginally concerned: it took 15 minutes to get from the Interstate on-ramp to the exit two miles down, but then I remembered this tiny town was hosting a huge fair, and 63,000,892 people were likely headed that way.

Sheep and gross fried food don't appeal to me, so going to the Mayfair hadn't entered my mind.

I squealed a bit when I saw the near-empty gym parking lot, and might have squealed a little more when I got out to the pool and there was only one other person in it. I geared up (I wear way too much crap while swimming, but I love my gadgets so...shuddup) and slid in, and started what I thought would be 2000 meters.

w00t! 3000m
It's the distance I've been swimming; when I hit 2000 in under an hour, I mentally patted myself on the back. I may be slow, but I hit my first major goal within a few weeks of joining the gym. I didn't intend to go further than that, but today I got to 2K in 55 minutes and wasn't wasted, so I pushed on.

I was focused on my heart rate, so I didn't pay as close of attention to time and distance as I normally would, and at some point I glanced at my Garmin and realized I was over 2500 meters, so what the hell...let's go for 3K.

At 1:19ish, I reached it. I didn't cheer out loud, but I was happy enough that I forgot to turn the timer off, so it ran until 1:37...but I'd paused it, so my stats still show my actual swim time.

As I peeled all my gear off I had notions that I still had some energy left and almost decided to go a few hundred meters more, but it was getting late and I wanted to stop by the grocery store on the way home, so I got out and headed for the locker room. And then it hit me.

Oh holy hell, I got out of the pool and walked right into The Wall. As I peeled off my swim suit and dried off, I could feel it creeping up on me and thought I would need to sit in the lobby for a bit before driving home. But when I started getting dressed...let's just say it wasn't pretty and for a few minutes I thought I was going to have to ask someone for help. I was so drained that just getting a bra on was proving to be problematic.

Ever watched a little kid try to grab something stuck to their back? That was me, spinning in the aisle between lockers, trying to grab the back of my bra to pull it down.

Look! REAL SWEAT!
So glad no one walked in.

Getting my shirt on wasn't much better and I don't know why it didn't occur to me to just sit down on the bench by that point. When I finally did, to put my shoes on, the thought zipped through my head that feeling like that might be because my blood sugar was low...but I checked it, and it was exactly 100.

Nope, this was just the effect of being overweight and out of shape and pushing a bit. And the contortions to get clothes on was another workout in itself, but neither Garmin nor Fitbit gave me any activity time for that.

I feel cheated.

I mean, I broke a sweat!

I left the gym 5 hours ago and I'm still wiped out, and I can feel the soreness creeping into my shoulders and back. I'm either going to sleep like a rock tonight, or I won't be able to because it hurts too much.

Still...I'm really enjoying the swimming.

Oh, and Garmin...there is no way in hell I burned off 840 calories swimming for 80 minutes. I wish I had, but face it, I'm slow.

Besides, if I really believed I could burn off that much, I would totally follow it with pizza.

Damn. Now I want pizza.

Saturday

9 May 2015


I like getting presents; who honestly doesn't? And even more than getting them, I love picking out the right gift for someone else. Or even just picking something off their Amazon wishlist and surprising them. Gifts are fun from either side, which is probably why I love Christmas so much. Yes, I know, it's not supposed to be about the presents, but it's a good excuse for me to get a few key people a few things; I don't always hit the mark, but I love gift shopping and buying.

I love getting presents that make me laugh out loud and rush to take a picture so I can share it with the world, or at least my little slice of it on Facebook.

Yesterday the Boy's Mother's Day gift to me was delivered, and it was one of those that had me grabbing the camera. Who could not love this?

PYRAMID OF POPTARTS.

Twelve boxes of my favorite Poptarts, even. 96 of them. Blueberry, unfrosted. And half the gift is that he rememebered I specifically prefer the unfrosted kind (hush. You go right ahead and eat the frosted kind. I just don't want candy on top of my already sugar-laden treat.) It's one of those little details I wouldn't expect anyone, other than perhaps the Spouse Thingy (and then only because he sometimes does the shopping alone) to remember.

Last night a friend texted me, a giant LOL about the picture I posted on FB, and it turned into a discussion on Mother's Day in general. She's never known her mother, and until she had kids it was pretty much a foreign concept to her. This year two of her kids are away at school, and only one is at home but he's deeply involved in an end-of-the-year school project and has already apologized because he's squeezing her Mother's Day into about 2 hours tomorrow.

My mother has been gone for nearly two years; I didn't gift shop for her, not even pretend-shopping to find what I might have gotten her. The Boy has a life that has him working tomorrow, as usual.

And we're both fine with that.

I am not a huge fan of Mother's Day as it's become. The expectations are very high for a whole lot of people, it seems, and in the last few days I've read over and over musings about how someone's kids won't make time for them tomorrow (though the next day, or today, but not Sunday) or how hard it is to find a present for Mom that she'll be happy with, or how unfair it is to have this day shoved into someone's face because their mother is dead and it hurts.

I get it, I really do. But I also get that those feelings of hurt and frustration are as overwhelming as they are because Mother's Day has become this commercial powerhouse, and it's practically Christmas for Moms. There's stress over who will go where and do what, how will Mom like what I got her, did I get her enough, doesn't she understand that I'm a mom, too and I want to spend it with my kids...and on and on.

But for me? The Boy is a good son all the time. He's thoughtful--just look at my Poptarts--and treats me well all the time. All the time. Not just one day a year. So maybe that's why it's not a huge deal for me; I love the gift he sent and that's enough.

And no, tomorrow will not be more difficult for me because my mother is gone. It won't be any more difficult; I miss her every day, not one day more than another. It won't feel unfair because she's gone and so many other people still have their mothers. It's the opposite: I am quite happy for those who still have their parents, who can pick up the phone and call on a whim. (And hey... if your mother is gone, or you never knew her, or she was just a bad mother...it sucks. But mother's day is not an attack on your feelings. Make it a day for yourself; do something for yourself, grab a friend and do something together, but don't dread the day because other people have what you don't.)

If you can buy your mother something weird and wonderful, it's not unfair to me; it's wonderful for you and for her. I want for your mother what my son does for me: make her laugh, make your life a thing she's joyous about...and make it all the time, not just tomorrow.

And call your mom. Or text her, if she's like me and can't handle the phone. But don't just do it tomorrow... Mother's Day is supposed to be about honoring the person who gave birth to you, not just presents and candy. If you save it all for one day, it really doesn't mean as much. So connect, and connect often.

Trust me...if you don't, you will regret it when she's gone.

TL;DR: Go ahead. Pick up the phone. You're the reason she drinks, after all.



Wednesday

6 May 2015

Today’s random chit

Walking season hath begun: after a lot of contemplation (seriously, a lot a lot a lot,) I won’t be doing Avon this year. I have a horrible track record with it, and I really don’t want to be that person who does nothing but fundraise. So I’m only doing one, Philadelphia in early October. My teammates have a decent grasp on my limitations and they have my back, so it feels safe. I am starting to fundraise and I will be begging asking for donations, and y’all should know by now…there will be prizes. Don’t know what, yet, but I’ll try to make them good ones.

There will probably not, however, be pink hair. This makes me a sad wabbit, but I am swimming in earnest now and who knows what pool water would do to a dye job.

Y’all also know, the right donation could make me risk it.

Y’all know, too, I am willing to walk in spandex for the right donation. Or not…I got a good one for St. Baldrick’s if I promised to not show up in skin tight psycho-clothing.
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Yelling at me to “ride on the damned sidewalk” is not going to make me ride on the damned sidewalk. I am not 5; my bicycle has just as much right to be on the street as your car. And I’m not in your way as it is. Go the fark around me, you sanctimonious blowhard.

Yeah, I’m tired. I get cranky when I’m tired.
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If you and a couple other people want to dissect my work, please don’t include me. I know you think it’s a courtesy, but it makes me really uncomfortable.

Hence, I rarely read my own reviews. The bad ones stick with me and make me question my abilities as a writer. Well, the "call a WAAAHHHHMBULANCE" review almost made me laugh. Almost.

There are only about 4 people who can point out the flaws in my work and I don’t mind, mostly because they’re reading it pre-publication and I can change things. Once it’s out there…if you like it, fine, please buy the next book. If not, fine, but please don’t pick over it with me.

Also, if you ask me what that book is about, the answer you’ll probably get is, “about 400 pages.”
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I seriously can’t do heat anymore. When we painted last weekend it was 73F outside and not much warmer inside. After we prepped, I painted just one wall and had to take a break because I was so miserably hot and nauseated. It wasn’t until the Spouse Thingy put the a/c on at around 70 that I was able to finish.

It’s 74o in the house right now and I’m sweating and not very comfortable.

No, it’s not hot flashes. The Spouse Thingy thinks I’m just doing a slow burn instead and he might be right.
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He's in IKEA hell right now. Assembly of 3 wardrobes, a dresser, and a bookcase. I’ll help when he asks, but mostly my job is to stay out of the way.

I will finally have a linen closet. It’s the simple things…
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Applebee’s Clubhouse Grille sandwich = 1200 calories.

I wish I had known before I ate half of one. I’ve been trying to stick to about 1500 calories a day, but that’s not going to happen today. And since I am already over and a blow-out day is not a bad idea every now and then, I am also going to have ice cream tonight.

Ice cream = nasty digestive things. But so totally worth it. Pretty sure that makes it diet food, anyway.
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Maybe I’ll swim it off tomorrow. Holy fark, I’m loving the swimming.

Tuesday

5 May 2015

The Spouse Thingy was off work all last week and is still off until Friday. We had plans to go to Disneyland for his birthday, but we then found out what the temps were going to be, and since I no longer do heat well, we decided to bail on that and just do local things.

We talked about going a lot of places: SF a couple of times to see the Academy of Sciences, the DeYoung Museum, and just walking around. We could go to the Crocker Museum in Sacramento and the Classic Car Museum. We were going to take a couple of long bike rides. Maybe even go overnight to Monterrey.

We went to the Crocker. I don't think we did anything else we talked about. We never got to SF. Or the car museum. And the bikes never moved from their spots in the garage.

We did go to the gym, where I hit a personal best of 2000 meters in under an hour in the pool. The Spouse Thingy did a demo at the art gallery on Sunday. And we annoyed the cats.

It doesn't take much to annoy them, but we went all out by moving everything out of the living room and prepped it to be painted, during which Buddah had a minor freakout--pretty sure he thought we were moving again--and Max had a reaction of "meh."

We got it painted but didn't put everything back where it had been, making Buddah even a little more upset, and Max was just "meh."

Today we moved a really big piece of furniture from the back of the hallway to the living room and put one of the cat trees next to it, leading Buddah to practically squeal with joy as he jumped on top, and Max acting just, "meh."

I don't think we're going to get much reaction out of Max anymore, no matter what we do. He seems to have a memory much better than Buddah, and knows the difference between the rearranging of things and the implementation of the M-word. As long as he has his place in the big closet, a bed at the foot of my bed, and his living room nook, he's happy. He knows it's not going anywhere.

But poor Buddah...as soon as he relaxes--which will be around 10 tomorrow morning--the delivery guys from IKEA will show up bearing a stack of boxes of things that need to be assembled, and his little head is just going to pop.

And hopefully by tomorrow I will have recovered from painting...we did it on Sunday and all the going up and down the ladder introduced me to a whole new level of post-exertional pain.

Getting old sucks.

Beats the alternative, sure, but man that part of it sucks.


Thursday

23 April 2015

There are days I totally understand I can't even...


And some people wonder why I have issues with organized religion.

Tuesday

21 April 2015

Because I cannot pass up a potentially useful toy, when given the chance to get a just-released Garmin Vivoactive at a great price (seriously great) I jumped on it. It tracks a ton of things: steps, walking and running (with maps), biking (with maps), indoor treadmill and stationary bike, golf, and swimming.

Since I was planning on swimming...bonus.

And so far, this has been my favorite activity tracker. I connected it to my cell phone and get a gentle buzz when I get a text message (which I need because I can never hear the phone when it's in my pocket), I get a repeated buzz when I have a phone call (which is always a wrong number), and if I sit too long, I get 2 short buzzes to remind me that I should get up and move.

But damn, Garmin...when I get a movement reminder in the middle of a game of racquetball that's drenching me in sweat and making me think I want to drink half the swimming pool...that's kind of offensive.

I am moving, dammit.

So fine, I'm not moving all that well and I play a sucky game of racquetball but you don't need to rub it in. Sheesh.

Thursday

16 April 2015

Yesterday, for the first time in about 15 years, the Spouse Thingy and I decided to play racquetball. We used to love it and were pretty well matched in terms of skill (read: we were equally not very good) and figured that the new gym has a court, why not use it?

We didn't keep score or even play by the rules. It was really just an hour of bouncing the ball off the wall and trying to take turns hitting it, but we were both drenched in sweat and had pretty decent heart rates by the end.

I only shrieked at the ball zooming toward me a couple of times, and only ducked 3 or 4.

And for some reason, the Spouse Thingy did not like my idea of getting a GoPro and recording our efforts for the amusement of others. Go figure.

Like good little gymrats, after we played we hit the circuit equipment for half an hour. And decided that we'd go back today and I would swim and he would do whatever he wanted to do.

Then I got up this morning.

The Thumper's Freight Train O'Crap hath runneth me over. It's just a reminder that my brain likes to do things my body can't always manage and why we usually try to be flexible when we go places, so that I can have some time to crash and burn without feeling like I'm ruining everything. Luckily, the gym is not a vacation, and it's going to be there tomorrow and the day after.

I am having fun, though. Well, fun in general. I'm not thrilled at the moment, if only because I would rather be doing things other that sitting here. I'll go have real fun tomorrow, I hope.

Might even play racquetball using actual rules.

Or not. That might not be fun.

Tuesday

14 April 2015

Looks like an ordinary iPod shuffle; it has all the limitations of a iPod shuffle: only 2 GB, and no way to switch up what you're listening to other than either listening to albums in order or on shuffle. Pretty limited.

But this one is waterproof.

I use it today in the pool, and it was awesome. I don't mind being alone with my brain while I swim, but it was nice to have music to help push me alone, and I managed to hit 1500 meters in 4 minutes under what it took me to hit 1350.

It's still a new thing, but I'm still digging the swimming. The only downsides are the crushing want of sleep a couple hours later, and the marathon peeing.

Still digging the Garmin while I'm swimming--it makes keeping track of where I'm at so easy--and all the data, too. I might not like it as much when I hit a plateau, but for now? It's fun.


Friday

10 April 2015

Right now, we have two gym memberships, plus the Spouse Thingy has a membership at a rock climbing gym. You'd think we'd be in awesome shape, but no... Having gym memberships does not equal using those memberships. We have not been using the membership to the gym that's literally a 10 minute walk away, nor has he been rock climbing.

To be fair, he hurt his shoulder right after joining the rock gym, and hasn't been able to manage it.

But the gym around the corner? I never really bothered because it doesn't have the one thing I really needed: a pool. It has everything else (though in short supply) but no classes whatsoever. The machines and giant bouncy balls didn't really interest me, but going back to the old gym with the pool didn't, either, because actually getting a lane in that pool was a crapshoot.

It was big enough to have 4 lanes open all the time, but they only kept 2, and the rest of the pool was left for people to lounge around and for kids to play in.

I grasp the concept of family gym memberships, but I really hated dodging kids that wouldn't stay in the open area and kept darting in front of me, and I really hated having some blonde bubblehead yell at me because my swimming was getting her kid--her kid who was in the water--wet. After a few too many times of waiting over an hour just to get a lane and then having to deal with kids (whom I do not blame; they were just being kids), I gave up. We canceled that membership and joined the gym around the corner.

The gym I never went to because...no pool.

On Tuesday we sucked it up and went to check out another gym with a pool that's part of the same chain as the gym with the kids and DON'T GET MY SNOWFLAKE WET WHILE HE'S PLAYING IN THE POOL airheads. I knew it would also offer family memberships, but it's a much bigger gym so I had hopes that they would actually have 4 open lanes, at least most of the time.

It turned out to not only be bigger...it's HUGE. Circuit training, free weights, resistance weights, cardio equipment...all in much bigger rooms and there's a lot more of them. There's a racquetball court. Basketball court. Classes. Tennis Courts. Hot tub.

And three pools.

Seriously, 3 pools. One is a 6-feet deep pool used for aqua classes. One is a more shallow pool where people can splash and play. And the big one is a 6-lane, no-kids-allowed lap pool.

Hell, yes, we joined.

Swimming is probably one of the things I need to be doing for my back and hips, and I should have no trouble getting lanes here. I intentionally went at lunch time today, when the other gym was packed and there was no hope of swimming, just to see how bad it was. There were 4 lanes open when I got to the pool, and a ton of kids in the play pool, and that suited me just fine.

I am slow in the water, very slow, but after swimming on Wednesday and then again today, I'm pretty happy.

And hungry.

And peeing a lot.

Holy hell, swimming makes me pee a lot.

But one of the oddest things making me happy: data. I bought a Garmin Vivoactive (yes, I know, another activity tracker. I like toys! And I got it at a substantial discount!) and this sucker tracks a lot. Not only steps, but it will track runs and walks using GPS (so I get nifty maps) and will track indoor runs and walks on a treadmill, it will track bike rides (again, nifty maps!) and it's waterproof and tracks swimming.

This is just a small portion of the data I get. I set up today to do 150 meter intervals, and I can get a total breakdown of each one: how many strokes each 25 meters takes, how long the 150 meters takes, average times and graphs to make it all look pretty.

Totally digging the data, even though it proves how slow I am.

I don't really care about my speed; right now I'm focusing on getting back to the distances I was swimming a few years ago.

All right, I'm not sure I can get back to what I was doing in Ohio--6000 meters--but I'm pretty sure I can get back up to 3000, which is roughly what I was doing a couple of years ago. I started out with 1100 on Wednesday and did 1350 today, I might shoot for 1500 Sunday.

I technically could have hit 1500 today, but I was moving like molasses at that point and figured I might as well give myself a goal for this weekend.

I might be done peeing my brains out by then.

Sunday

15 March 2015

Last weekend, post shave, DKM and her mom and I were in the mall food court, grabbing some much needed food. I don’t remember how the subject came up (because my brain is basically swiss cheese at this stage of my life) but we were talking about the last time we’d worn dresses.

I had to admit…it’s been so long since I’ve worn a dress that if I were to put one on now, I would feel like a cross-dresser.

Later on I thought about that; it’s not just now. I clearly remember feeling like it was all kinds of wrong any time I had to wear a dress. I loathe dresses. I always have. It’s not a feeling that crept up on me with age and lack of wearing. Dresses were a major point of contention between my mother and I when I was little. I hated them, and it pissed her off to no end.

For a short time in 4th grade she instituted the Morning Dress Rule. I had to, no matter what I wanted, put on a dress in the morning for school, and I could change into pants at lunch before going back in the afternoon (yep, in Munich we were able to go home for lunch if we lived close enough to walk. I don’t see that happening now.)

I know now what she was going for, but then it was agony for me. And when I didn’t like something, I was a complete little shit. I think it lasted all of a month, maybe six weeks, before I wore her down. Or it could have been the volume of laundry, but I suspect my shitty little self bullied her into backing down.

I also know what she was afraid of; THAT was not what a kid should become, not in the late 60s and early 70s. All the things I hated—dresses, girly toys, anything frilly or pink or feminine—those all surely pointed to one thing, and apparently by forcing me into clothing that I despised, THAT was going to be corrected.

We can roll our eyes at the idea now, but I’m sure it made sense 40-45 years ago.

I was a hard-core tomboy, sure, but I was not THAT even though she couldn’t see it then.

And now I wonder: if such a huge issue had not been made of my preferences in clothing and toys and even colors, what would I like now?

There was a tipping point once puberty reared its ugly head and I was solidly into my early teen years. We were getting ready to move from Texas to California and it was suggested to me that “this would be a good time to change. You know, wear dresses and be more feminine. It’ll be easier because no one will know what you were like before.”

Surprisingly, it didn’t come from my mother, but she was on board with the idea.

Any inkling I might have had about it died with that. My (admittedly hurt) gut reaction was to wonder—out loud—what was so wrong with me that I needed to change? Why would I want to change? There was nothing wrong with me.

And there wasn’t. But I was just stubborn enough to decide that was it; I was going to be me and not give consideration to anything different. I didn’t have to be good enough for anyone else, because I was good enough for me.

My mother stopped pressing the matter by the time I was 15 or so, probably because it was clear I wasn’t turning into her worst fear, but I wonder now if left to my own choices, would I have gotten over my hatred of girly things and embraced at least a few of them?

I’ll never know, but I’ll probably always wonder.

I clearly got over my hate of things pink, though it still surprises some people to find out I don’t much care for it. Hot pink, I love it; pink-pink…no. Hell no.

I don’t even own a dress now; don’t expect me to, no matter what the event. I still mostly shop in the men’s department but not because of some weird loathing of women’s clothes; pants with useable pockets are rarely made for women, shirts are too short for women with any torso height, and most of them are—by design—clingy and face it, I don’t have the body for anything clingy. If I did, I would rock that chit so hard.

I am most comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, probably always will be.

My point? It’s not that my mother dropped the ball, so heap pity upon poor me. No, she coped as best she could with a stubborn kid whose tastes frightened her. It’s also not that I wish I were different. I’m fine with me; other people might not be, but that’s not my problem.

My point…let your kids be who they are. Don’t presume anything based on the clothes they want and the toys they play with. Let them explore without pressure to choose one thing over another. Give them the grace to know they can be whoever they think they are, and the freedom to change that without feeling judged.

And if they wind being something other than what you expected or hoped for, freaking embrace that shit, because life is hard enough as it is and not giving a damn about the little things makes it just a bit easier.

I will never know if I would have been any different if I hadn’t felt like I was expected to change the person I fundamentally was; there’s a whole other can of worms there I haven’t yet opened up to peek at, but the crux of it is that I spent a lot of years railing against what someone else wanted, even after she no longer wanted it.

Take a good look at your kid.

She’s fine just as she is, whether she’s pretending to be a princess or Ironman. He’s fine even if he wants those pink shoes and a tutu. Those choices don’t mean anything beyond this is what I like right now.

And even if they do, so what? You had a kid, not a promise.

You will love them no matter what.

Srsly.

Thumper’s unsolicited advice for the day.

8 March 2015

Not the ending to this weekend I expected...
Waiting to start...people in blue are volunteers.
At least this year I knew to expect my head to feel a little bit cold post-shave.

What I did differently this year was wait until just 2 days before to dye my hair. Last year, I think I did it 2 weeks ahead, but not being too sure how green hair would look on me, I opted to wait. After all, if I liked it, I could go green again later, right?

I should know better.

In any case, I got there nice and early, checked in and got my t-shirt, and marveled at how few people were there. The volunteers outnumbered the shavees about 15 to 1 at that point. It got better, but not by much.

Last year there were over 360 registered shavees. This year, 167. And looking at the list, only 140 or so raised any money, and most raised $100 or less and I'm not sure if any of them bothered to show up for it.

"Only thing I'm worried about are green stains"
When I went to bed Friday night you all had donated $875; a little under my goal but over what I raised last year, so I was thrilled.

I got up and checked one last time, and 3 people pushed me over goal; $1075 raised...color me happy, even if I was green.

I had no idea how green at that point.

So I got there, checked in, Michelle and her mom were there for support and to take pictures, and away we went...the ad who cut my hair did the sides and back first so that I would briefly have "a really cool mowhawk" ad as she finished she told me that yep, I had a few stains.

Well, chit.



Sure...just a few stains.

Good thing I brought a hat.

A few days after last year's shave I realized I loathed not having hair. I don't like having long hair, but I hated not having hair at all, and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do this again. It was, honestly, harder than walking. The 3 Day is a weekend filled with a lot of pain and sweat, but it's also a weekend filled with awesome and hanging with friends.

This...this is an attention-sucking finger-pointing, cringing sort of endeavor. People stare, whisper, mock, and not in a fun way. Some look sympathetic, thinking I have no hair because I'm the one that's sick.

I have to admit, while I can handle the reactions of the neon pink hair, no hair made me very, very uncomfortable.

But...I'm over it.

This is far easier than what people in treatment go through.

Besides, it also gave me this picture.

I wanted to see how bad the back of my head was stained, so I contorted myself to take a picture, and found myself laughing.

Not because of the green, but because of the scar.

I didn't realize it was still so prominent.

When I was 5, maybe 6, I was sitting in a folding metal chair in temporary housing in Germany, in my Grandfather's room. He was teasing me about taking the chair and said he was going to sit on my lap...and proceeded to do just that.

Her certainly never intended to put any weight on my lap, but somehow it was just enough to upset the chair and I went backwards, right into the radiator under the window.

I know he felt horrible. I was screaming in pain, screaming because I was scared, screaming because I was just a little kid and GRANDPA BROKE ME.

He scooped me up and sat on the edge of his bed with me on his lap, while my parents came running. He told me over and over I was okay, he was sorry, I was okay. And when my mother and father got into the room and I wiggled away because...MOMMY...he looked at his bright white dress shirt and said firmly, "Look what you did. You got blood all over my good shirt."

 I stopped crying instantly. Oh holy hell, I got blood on Grandpa's shirt and surely I was going to get one hell of a spanking.

For just that brief moment, I thought he was actually mad.

But no...he wasn't mad. He was just trying to make me laugh, and the distraction stopped me from crying long enough for me to understand I wasn't really hurt.

For a long time after that, he teased that I owed him a new shirt. Get a job. You owe me a new white shirt.

For a long time after that, he kept checking the back of my head, hoping that scar would vanish.

I know he hoped it would, because even though we both knew it was an accident, he always felt bad about being the reason I cracked my head on the radiator. He felt bad even though I wasn't really hurt. He wanted that scar to go away.

But me? I'm freaking glad it didn't. Because I have that scar I have a touchstone to my grandfather, and he was a pretty cool guy.

Even if it is surrounded by green splotches.

Or, as Dean McCaughan put it, leprechaun kisses.

I kinda like that.

Thursday

5 March 2015

Not the best dye job I've done, but we have green...


Oh, and I waited long enough to do this that for sure my scalp will be stained on Saturday when the hairs get shaved off.

I'll just tell people it's cooties, and then breathe heavily at them.

Monday

2 March 2015

Yeah...I don't think that pink is going to bleach out. I suspect that when I wash this out, my roots will be near white and I will have killer pink tips.

This would be awesome, except in the next couple of days I need to dye it neon green.

Just 5 more days until it all comes off, regardless of what color it actually ends up being...but since I'm dying it this week, y'all have a good shot at seeing green stains on my scalp.

And yep, this is the last fundraiser mention I will do for this event on this blog.

So far I've raised $390 of a $1000 goal. Did I mention donations are tax deductible? THEY'RE TAX DEDUCTIBLE, Y'ALL!

Get your deductible here.

Also, you get warm fuzzies, which is more than I'll have for a couple of weeks after this...

Friday

27 February 2015

I started writing Charybdis when I was 14 years old; we were getting ready to move from Texas to California, I was bored, and even then writing was what I turned to in order to fill all those adolescent, angsty empty spaces. The bones of that book had been simmering in my head for almost a year, and being moved away from my school and my friends, having a summer where I would know no one and live in strange surroundings, fostered an almost obsessive need to take pen to paper.

Writing, reading, and TV were about the only things I had to get through that summer. I penned a horrible mess of a manuscript—friends who later read it in high school can probably attest to that—but even after shoving it into a drawer, it stuck with me. I was never sure if that was because it was my lifeline to normalcy during that move (which was more than one move, in reality; there was a transient apartment while my parents looked for a house, so I didn’t even bother trying to meet anyone that summer) or just the beginning of what I knew I wanted and needed to do for the rest of my life, but there was one thing I was sure of.

One character in the book, the only one without a first person voice, the character whose storyline had to be told in third person, would be loosely based on an actor I never met and never would, someone whose portrayal of what would become an icon in pop culture. He is who I saw in my head every time I wrote; even as I later peeled way the layers of that character to get a better feel for who he really was, he is who I pictured.

And today he died.

Anyone who knew me in junior high (and remembers me, I never count on that) knows I was a huge Star Trek fan. I never saw it on its original run (we were in Germany) but I lived for the afternoon reruns every day. I was so invested in it that my mother actually gave up trying to peel me way from my 13” black and white TV to come to dinner, and allowed me to eat as soon as it was over.

I loved that show so much that it made me the butt of a few jokes (never really mean spirited, surprisingly) and even my favorite journalism and history teacher noticed it (probably because of all the Star Trek articles I submitted to the school paper) and poked fun at me for it. I don’t even remember what the subject on hand was, but I clearly remember him saying in front of the entire 8th grade history class that I was daydreaming about taking Captain Kirk in hand and skipping into the sunset.

Everyone laughed. I turned beet red, but I laughed, too. He wasn’t being mean and at the time it was freaking funny…and in the back of my head I was thinking he was so, so wrong.

If I was going to skip into the sunset, it was damn well going to be with Mr. Spock.

I still can’t tell you why I loved Spock so much; I loved everything Star Trek, but it was Spock that kept me hooked. It was Spock whom I heard in my head so many nights when I was agonizing over stupid things I’d said and stupid things that had been said to me. It was Spock I thought of when trying to puzzle over why who I was wasn’t good enough for anyone else, why—even those who were supposed to love me unconditionally—people kept telling me if I would just do THIS or I would just do THAT, I would be, you know, normal.

To be anyone other than myself would be…illogical.

I learned a lot about self-acceptance through Spock’s version of logic. As a consequence, I learned a lot about accepting other people for who they were, too.

The logical step after Star Trek, after totally trying to grok Spock, was to follow Leonard Nimoy. After all, he was Spock, no matter what his first memoir said. I started watching Mission Impossible reruns, and when he popped up as Paris, I was overjoyed. I watched the hell out of that, and thusly was the foundation for Ron Gallery formed.

He looked a lot like this guy
And yet…Ron was not the most stellar of characters. He was greatly flawed; he was the bad guy, right? How could I base him on someone I damn near worshiped?

It was easy; I knew things about him no one else did. I knew he wasn’t the horrible person he seemed to be. I knew his motives. I knew just how deeply he loved the people in his life and how hard he was contorting himself to protect them. I couldn’t put all of that into the book, because no one wants to read a 1000 page novel by a first time writer.

But anyone who stuck with the whole series, who read The Flipside of Here, knows who Ron Gallery really was.

And now they know who he looked like.

I was crushed when I got online this morning; the first thing I saw when getting onto Facebook was an RIP Spock update. That I knew Leonard Nimoy had been ill didn’t change that. That he was 83 didn’t change that. All I knew was that someone so fundamental to my adolescence, someone who literally helped form how I would learn to view the world, how to treat other people, and how to be a bit more comfortable with myself, was gone.

He wasn’t Spock. I know that.

He was Spock. I know that, too.

I know that I am nowhere near being alone in how his work affected personal growth, and in my sorrow that he’s gone.

I also know that I’m not the only one who shed a few real tears this morning. He lived long. He prospered. He was 83…and it wasn’t enough.


That was one hell of a final tweet. And I hope he knew that he'll be kept in a million memories for a very, very long time.


Wednesday

25 February 2015

In ten days, this:





will become this:


The big difference? The hair will not be purple when I arrive at the Galleria Mall in Roseville to get my head shaved.

No, it will be green.

Neon green.

Okay, well most of it will be green. I still have pinkish/purplish tips, so who knows what color the tips will be. Could be black, could be brown, could be my hair is just going to break off and I'll show up with all these weird patches of mange-like fuzz.


It's for a good cause. And there's still time to donate toward it. And remember, it's tax deductible, so you have that going for you.

https://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/750090/2015


Got something embarrassing you want me to do for a donation? Let me know...if the number is high enough, you know I'm game.

Well, other than shave my head, because...kind of defeats the purpose.

Monday

16 February 2015

Peoples...wanting me to use your name in a book could potentially end up with you hating me, because I might do terrible things to your namesake somewhere in the storyline.

However, knowing that, one friend really, really wants to be a fictional princess. So in the next manuscript--not sure how long it'll take to write or if it will even be publish-worthy--there shall be a Princess Oz.

So. Who wants to be a prince? Or king*? Queen*? Or the Scottish but not Scottish Emperor of San Francisco?

There's a cat. So far his name is Wick. Or Prints. I haven't decided for sure.

And hey, I never said it was going to be a GOOD manuscript. But the story has been in my head for 2-3 years and it's time to write it, suckage or not.


*minor characters.

Saturday

14 February 2015

Meet my new friend. I have seen her around town a thousand times, reached for things high on the shelves in the grocery store, but never really talked to her before.

Today I ran into her outside McDonald's--this will teach me to stop for diet sweet tea--and she asked for a ride to CVS.

Not a problem. I even went inside to get her meds; she called the pharmacist from the car and they were fine with letting me pick them up.

Now, I knew I was going to be taking her home; not a problem, either. But then...

"Could you take me to Walmart?"

Sure.

"I only have two dollars. Can you give me enough to get dinner?"

Sure.

I took her shopping--and everyone at Walmart seems to know her--and we met lots of people from her church, too.

Groceries for dinner turned into a full cart, which wasn't really a problem other than I have a tiny trunk and needed the back seat of my car for her walker. I put my foot down when she wanted to get a set of $60 lamps (which I heard about several more times..."Oh, I need light, I have no light in my apartment.")

Luckily as I was loading the car, a family came out of the store and while Mom helped me put things in the trunk, her son helped my new friend into the car, because I just didn't have the upper body strength to get her from the scooter-cart into my very low front seat. 

A whole lot of money later, I drove her home, carried 62 bazillion grocery bags halfway across the apartment complex (ok, it felt like that far. Really was just around the back of the building) and when I headed home I looked at my watch...two hours.

Oh yeah, I got played. I don't mind, other than now she knows my name and she knows my car, and she is not shy about asking people for things.

We totally have to move now.

7 February 2015

All right…so I’ve tried a bunch of different wearable tech to track steps and the like. So which did I think was the best?

It depends.

Both Garmin and Fitbit make good, accurate step counters. From there, it’s a matter of what else you want the device to do for you.

Fitbit One: it’s basically just a pedometer, but it also gives you the time, floors climbed, calories burned, distance covered, and activity level. You can clip it to your waistband, bra, or stick it in your pocket. Press a button and you can see what you’ve done for the day. It's simple and it works.

Fitbit Flex: pretty much like the One, except you wear it on your wrist and—as far as I know—you have to synch it to your computer or phone to see how many steps you’ve taken. That part never appealed to me so I never tried it. I want to be able to check where I'm at without using the phone or computer.

Fitbit Charge: does everything the One does, but you wear it on your wrist. It’s a good watch substitute, and you can see your data with a press of a button or tapping it twice. When you hit your step goal for the day, it vibrates. I used it for a while and found it to be pretty accurate.

Fitbit Charge HR: It’s the Charge with a heart rate monitor in it. No personal experience with it, but for someone active who wants to track HR while working out, it seems like a good deal.

Fitbit Surge: this is a powerhouse tech device. It looks like a watch and has a subdued clockface with a subtle backlight when tapped once (which is great for the middle of the night.) Aside from steps counted and all the other above things, it has GPS (I didn’t get around to testing that; I hear it works well but is a huge battery drain), and can be used to track several other exercises, including distance done on a treadmill. It also has a heart rate monitor. I really liked it, but had some issues, and a friend developed a rash and felt the HR monitor was wildly inaccurate. It’s supposed to also give you incoming text and phone notifications when paired with your phone, but it would not stay connected to my phone and the vibration intensity is so weak I couldn’t really feel it, so that was useless to me.

Garmin Vivofit: It’s a lot like the Fitbit One, but worn on your wrist. There’s no backlight, so you can’t see it in the dark…which doesn’t matter unless you also wear it at night and want to use it as a watch. The bonus with this one—the battery lasts for a year. Not having to charge it every 5-7 days gives it major points.

Garmin Vivosmart: worn on the wrist, it tracks steps, calories, and distance, and has a watch function. It looks like a plain band but turns on with two taps to its face, and also does text and call notifications, and the vibration intensity is very good. It’s also quite accurate.

Now, the thing with all the ones worn on the wrist are that they fail to count steps if you’re holding onto something that causes your arm to not move—like a shopping cart or if you’re wearing a backpack and holding onto the strap. Grocery shop for an hour and you can miss a lot of steps.

For me…I like the Fitbit One for ease of use. It’s simple and does what I need it to do, which is count my steps. But for getting text notifications, I also wear the Garmin Vivosmart band, because I can’t hear my phone in my pocket.

I’ve tried all but the Flex (and Charge HR, but it’s pretty much the same as the Charge.)

For someone wanting text and phone notifications, the Garmin Vivosmart works best.

If I didn’t need the notifications, I would go with the Fitbit One for accuracy and versatility (pocket or waistband or bra), or the Charge if a wristband is preferred. (The only reason the Charge is above the Vivofit on my list is being able to see it in the dark. They’re both excellent. The battery life on the Vivofit makes it a strong contender.)

So...the Fitbit One comes out on top for me After that (presuming one doesn't need text notifications), the Charge, the Vivofit, and the Surge is pretty much last until they work the kinks out of it.

Bonus...the Fitbit One is the least expensive out of those, too.



Friday

6 February 2015

Toward the end of last year I helped someone format a book for digital publishing; I was happy to do it for no reason other than she found my work a few years ago and devoured all of my books and emailed me about them, in a totally non-stalkerish way (I also made the mistake of sending her an Amazon gift card for her birthday about 4 years ago, resulting in Amazon pulling every review she'd left for my books. But that's neither here nor there.)

As a thank you, she sent me a new toy, one that had been resting on my Amazon wishlist since it was available for pre-order. I left it there as a reminder to keep checking the reviews on it, and when my current version of said toy croaked or I got tired of it, I would then be able to make an informed choice about its replacement.

It makes sense in my head. I certainly never expected anyone to get it for me.

The new toy? A Fitbit Surge. This sucker does a lot: steps, calories, and floors climbed, as well as having a heart rate monitor, GPS for runs and walks, treadmill tracking, and a bunch of other things. I was most interested in it for the call and text notifications; when my phone is in my pocket I often don't hear it when a text comes in, so something buzzing on my wrist is helpful.

It's the function I like the most on my Garmin Vivosmart; you text me, 90% of the time I'll know. The other 10% is because I'm in the bathroom and my phone is in the living room.

So I had very high hopes for the Surge, because Fitbit makes good stuff. I liked the original Fitbit, I liked the Fitbit One, the Fitbit Force, the Fitboit Charge, and I was sure I would love the Surge.

I sure as hell wasn't going to complain if it fell short, because...GIFT.

But then Oz texted me last night...she's not having a lot of luck with it.  It's missing a huge chunk of her steps, the heart rate monitor is inaccurate, and she's developed a rash from wearing it.

And the silent alarm--responsible for incoming call and text notifications--is weak.

I'd noticed that. I even poked around on the Fitbit forums to see if there was any way to increase the intensity of the alarm, because as it works now, it's pretty useless for me. I'm not the only one complaining about that...there are lots of mentions of not being able to feel it vibrate, an issue especially for those who were using it as a wake-up alarm.

There are also a lot of complaints about the HR monitor being way off.

I'd also noticed some wrist pain, but chalked that up to it being new and me not being used to it...until the pain crept up my arm, in a nice tight line from my wrist to my elbow. No rash for me, but...owies.

It won't stay connected to my phone, so even if the alarm worked, it wouldn't function.

Oz is sending hers back; for now I've just taken mine off and am recharging my older Fitbit One, and I'm wearning the Garmin Vivosmart on mt wrist so that I can get notifications. I'd go it with solely, but I do like using the Fitbit site, where there are friends to inspire me to get off my asterisk and walk more, for no other reason than I MUST WIN.*

The Surge is a great idea, but yeah...they need to iron the kinks out.


*I am so totally not winning because I have family members who I'm pretty sure are walking in their sleep every night...

Thursday

5 February 2015

Sometimes, it's terrific when someone else can put into words something that's in your head...

Sally Forth, written by Francesco Marciuliano*
It's nice if and when you can make bank with your passion, but it's never really about the money.

It's your voice. Fail to follow that, and you lose...yourself.

*He has a terrific blog, Medium Large, ad wrote a wonderful post about this today...

Friday

30 January 2015


I did not particularly enjoy this look. Until my hair grew back out, I was 13 kinds of uncomfortable, and was pretty sure I wouldn't do it again. Bald is a tricky thing for most women to pull off, and I am not one that does it well.

But.

My hair did grow back. I got over the discomfort. It was, in the grand scheme of things, pretty easy.

So I'm doing it again.

On March 7th, I will be at the Galleria Mall in Roseville, and I will sit in front of a crowd and let someone take clippers to my head, and shave me down to bare stubble. And I will again be 13 kinds of uncomfortable, and probably cold, too.

I set a goal of $1000 this year; last year you all donated $835, so I'm aiming for just a little higher.

First person to donate $150 or more gets to pick the hair color I'll hit the stage with.

Second person to donate $150 or more can decide whether or not I get on that stage wearing spandex.

It's open season on da Wabbit, peoples. I will DO THINGS for donations. You know I will.