31 August 2011

Yesterday's ten miles did not do the Spouse Thingy in--which is pretty impressive since his longest nonstop walk up until then was between 6-7 miles--but he did need to find some relief with some Ibuprofen in able to drag himself out of the house to run errands.

No, I'm not mean. I didn't force him anywhere. He needed a few things from the fabric store, and there was the lure of potentially good free samples at Costco (which kinda sucked today. No free lunch.)

While he was in the fabric store, I headed to a nearby department store; not that I don't totally enjoy being amongst the bolts of brightly colored fabrics and threads and ribbon like binding tape (cough) but we walked in and the air was heavy with a variety of aromas that probably smelled good to other people, but were perfumey enough to set my lungs on fire.

Since I enjoy breathing, I went elsewhere.

And promply found this jacket, which I coveted from 100 feet away:

A San Francisco 49ers jacket with hot pink sleeves; there's also a pink ribbon on the chest, though it's folded over and not visible here. They only had one, and it was $199...and a size 3XL.

That didn't keep me from trying it on and being  bummed out when it was way too big.

I took the picture to remind me to get online and check, because, hey! It's an NFL thing and if anyone's gonna have it, they will!

Except that it was apparently something from last year, and while they still have some things from their breast cancer awareness campaign, this was not one of them.

Amazon didn't have it.

Googling for it...nada.

I had just about given up, when eBay popped into my head. I thought if someone had it, it would be at a premium, but looking wouldn't hurt. Much.

Damned if I didn't find it within 15 seconds of signing in.

For $99.

Delivery estimated between Sept I should have it for the 3 Day. And it's gonna be chilly on Treasure Island, so a nice warm jacket is a good idea. Right. Ignore the 3 other jackets I already own.

Edit to add link for anyone who might want one. Looks like he has other teams, too....


29 August 2011

Two weeks from tonight I'll be sitting here, tired and sore and mumbling horrible things about my feet and how swollen they are, and probably questioning 1) my sanity and 2) why I signed up for two walks this year.

Still...I'm getting excited.

Tomorrow we're heading for SF for one last long training walk, going from Pier 39 to the Golden Gate Bridge and back, and then we'll see...the Spouse Thingy may plop down somewhere with his Kindle while I continue on for a bit.

The debate now is whether I dye my hair hot pink or not...


26 August 2011


I can remember when fifty seemed like such a big number. When fifty cents was an eye-popping amount, and could get me into a movie, buy popcorn, a drink, and a candy bar, and still have a few cents left over. When fifty dollars was such a huge amount of money that it was nearly two weeks’ pay, and later when it was what we spent on groceries for nearly a month. When fifty was an age that meant life was over, and certainly no fun.

And here I am.


Now fifty cents gets tossed into the change cup. Fifty dollars is dinner out. And fifty years seems like I’m just getting started.

Ten years ago I lost several friends in a short amount of time, and they were all between 50-54. I think then is when fifty years began to feel like not nearly enough time, and this odd certainty that fifty was all I was ever going to get began to worm its way into my brain. ..the same brain that had grown its own little alien in the form of a tumor that turned out to be essentially just a giant zit, but still…that didn’t help.

Fifty became a quiet obsession.

I knew my expectations were illogical and there was no foundation for the gnawing feeling (and yes, that’s why it worked its way into It’s Not About the Cookies) that fifty would be it for me. Too many friends not living to see 55, the medical issues I’ve been pushing against (aside from the tumor,) and the fact that I was so seriously out of shape… I thought I would hit 50, but never 51.

Then things happened that had nothing to do with my age or my quirky phobias. Nothing to do with tumors or thyroids or wicked, violent thirst. Walking things began happening. Things that got me off my asterisk and outside. Things that turned my quiet obsession about age and what the numbers might mean into distance and what the miles might mean.

Steps that began with uncertainty over the miles ahead turned into the foot-slapping of spiffy running shoes onto pavement with confidence.

Training that started with trepidation ended in completing all but a couple miles of last year’s 60 mile SGK.

A year and a half ago sixty was the fifty of my youth; a number almost too big to comprehend, certainly a distance almost frightening to complete.

Until I did.

There’s something to be said for self-fulfilling prophecy; if you think something long enough, you begin to believe it. If you believe it, you do things to make it happen. Fifty may have been my end game, but for a comment left on Max’s blog last year by the Grate Mister Jeter Harris, Hizself, wherein he extended an invitation to join his Mom’s team that was participating in the San Francisco 3 Day.

Yes, I know, I talk about that whole walking thing a lot. You think I blog about it a lot? ask my friend Sandy, who gets to hear about it 134.876% more than you do.

But here’s the thing…I think it might have saved my life.

So maybe I wasn’t going to drop dead at fifty. But if I had a plethora of years following fifty, they weren’t stacking up to be good ones. They were years that looked to be colored by increasing pain. They were years that were likely going to be limited by my decreasing physical abilities, and to be honest, I was too afraid of the pain to push against it very hard.

Pain always pushes back, and frequently results in doing the ugly cry.

I looked at people using walkers and made note of the spiffiest ones, because deep down I knew I’d need one. I paid attention to wheelchairs, because I figured that someday I would need one better than the one I already own.

Yeah. The one I already own.

The one I own because in the past the pain has been bad enough that walking was not happening.

When Jeter’s Mom plopped him down at the keyboard and had him offer me a place on her team (oh be quiet, he did too type it) there’s no way she could have known the snowball effect that would have for me. I don’t think anyone had peeked into that part of my psyche, except perhaps for the Spouse Thingy, and I don’t think I’d ever told even him that I was pretty sure that fifty was it for me. From the first steps out the door in my brand new running shoes to the moment when Blogger Babes 4 Boobies took their team picture at the finish line last year to a simple 5 mile walk in the mall yesterday…it’s all taken me away from that certainty that I wouldn’t see 51 to the certainty that I will.

It’s taken me away from the walker, away from the wheelchair, and away from the thought that if I did manage to get past 50, I’d be using both of those. The wheelchair is buried deep in the garage, because frankly, I doubt I’ll need it unless I do something stupid and break a leg.

If I die before I turn 51…chances are it will be from some driver turning left in front of me on the bike, or because I don’t pay attention and walk out into traffic, or most likely, because I die of embarrassment because of something stupid I’ve done.

It won’t be because of my health or the sorry shape I'm in.

I’ve been pretty lucky in life. I have an awesome Spouse Thingy and a wonderful son, and our family—immediate and extended—is pretty spiffy. My two guys support me like crazy, even when it is crazy; I don’t know too many men who would chew off chunks of their days off to wander around just so that their wives could get some miles under her feet. Men who wouldn’t complain about the cost of multiple pairs of running shoes and spendy magic socks and all the clothing experimented with while searching for perfection in sweat comfort.

I have some pretty wickedly incredible friends, too. Frustrating asterisks of friends who donate expensive things so that I can make fundraising fun. Friends who crack open their wallets to support the effort, even when they really can’t afford it. Friends who don’t complain when I talk endlessly about my training and the walk itself. Friends who do something that was probably a simple thing that turned out to be a major turning point in my life.

Ten years ago, when I was silently begging for a sign, I got the stereotypical fortune cookie: You will live a long and happy life.

It was a sign I needed, but one that didn’t take root deep enough, because I had that nagging fifty-is-it feeling.

Until I didn’t.

It’s been a gradual thing over the last year, but I can pinpoint when it began, and it began with a feline Yankees fan leaving a comment on Max’s blog.

You saved my life.

And here I am, celebrating my birthday, turning an age that once seemed impossible because it was so old, and them seemed terrifying because it was so final.


Happy birthday to me.


22 August 2011

Only 18 more days to the San Francisco SGK Walk for the Cure. I'm ready, other than packing. I'm pretty sure I've fullfilled all my promises about it.

I rode the bike in pink spandex in a public place.
I wandered around San Francisco in very public places in pink spandex.
Oh...I have not yet done a video tape with me singing, but I'll get to that.

There's four more days until someone wins the iPad. And the Kindle. And the Nano.


Most importantly, I have the cape.

The cape that will be worn on at least the first day of the Walk.

The cape that will bear The Names.

Names of those we've lost to breast cancer.

Names of those we love who survived.

I still have all the names from last year's cape and t-shirt, and will carry those, but if there is another name you would like me to add, please leave it in the comments. Those names, whether on the cape or a t-shirt, will go with me every step of the way.

Your mother.
Your father.
Your sister, best friend, cousin, aunt, uncle.

You. Especially you.


18 August 2011

Why Thump, you have surely thought, you rarely discuss the bones of writing. Most people talk about the nitty gritty of their jobs. Why do you not? Plus, I have this friend who wrote this thing and it’s really good, so I gave him your email address and he’s going to send it to you so you can admire it and tell him how wonderful it is.


Stop thinking.

Ok, I realize you’ve probably never wondered why I don’t frequently talk about the bones of writing. Why not? For the same reason I don’t typically talk about it. It’s kind of freaking boring. Writing, it’s fun. You get to make shit up. Talking about the details? Zzzzzz.

But Thump, you’re thinking. I love to write and I need help, especially with grammar and style, and the books I can find about it have these really big words and they’re all like, stupid and shit.

Yeah, I’ve noticed there are a whole lot of grammatically challenged people out there trying to write. How have I noticed? Because other people keep giving them my email address and telling their writer friends that OF COURSE Thump will read your magnificent tome and tell you it’s awesome, and then tell you how to fix it.

People? Stop doing that. Please. Let’s forget the fact that your friend can’t write his way out of a second grade spelling test; I have limited time to dedicate to reading, and I’d rather plop down with a good book than your second cousin’s best friend’s tale about zombie vampires saving the world during the apocalypse. Especially since your second cousin’s best friend can’t even spell “zombie” and has serious issues with pronouns, idioms, and kapitaliZation.


So you want to write, but the basics are a little mind boggling and books about grammar and story structure and the like make you want to scream.

Get this book.

The Elements of F*cking Style.

It hits every major point, and you won’t want to curl into a giant ball of Oh This Sucks while you read it. Bonus: you’ll get it. And you’ll laugh, because this is totally how you wanted your 8th grade English teacher to present the material.

You’re welcome.

And seriously…stop sending people my email address.


16 August 2011

Either he has his own store in San Francisco, or they just want him to remember his own name...

Nice elephant.

We were in San Francisco for a training walk...and promptly discovered there are some places we just don't want to wander around...


12 August 2011

Hey, ya walk 15 miles, you allow yourself a Twinkie. I'd forgotten an unwrapped Twinkie is like Kitty Krack x 10...

Determined, he was...

...or at least very focused...

(yes, he got a couple of very tiny bites; I'm mean but not cruel...)


11 August 2011

Our original plans for yesterday were to head for San Francisco so that I could get a really good training walk done there, but I was coming off a week of zero activity thanks to a bee sting, and had really just started to feel even remotely human, so we went to six Flags instead.

There I could walk, and there are tons of places to sit down if needed, and if it came to it, we could just head home.

This is one of the reasons I really like going there.


Better yet, tigers that aren't forced into performing tricks. They are encouraged to exhibit natural behaviors, but if they don't want to be the trainer standing there with meat in his hand, asking the tiger to come and get it.

This one...she made a point of ignoring him at first. She'd had a few chunks of meat, and that water looked cold. She made him beg for it practically, before she decided she'd do him a favor and go for a swim.

I seriously, seriously love watching these guys.

Totally know what my next tattoo will be ;)


8 August 2011


There I was, in bed and mostly asleep. The house was dark except for the odd lights glowing from nearly every damned electrical thing in the room, but it was still dark, and I'm used to those lights. Other than Max, and Buddah, I'm the only one home.

It was quiet.

Then the light in my office popped on, flooding the hallway with bright light, which spilled glaringly into the bedroom.

I sat up sharply, uttering, "What the fuck?" as I scrambled out of bed.

Sorry, but when presented with sudden light at 12:30 at night, I have a potty mouth.

I'm not stupid; I didn't automatically assume there was someone in the house. If there was, and it wasn't the Spouse Thingy trying to slip in quietly because he'd gotten sick at work or something and had to come home, then it was someone new at home invasion.

At least, I don't think the average burglar turns on lights by which to see what he's doing.

Here's the thing.

I wouldn't have given it a second thought if the light turned on via a wall switch. Max has, in the past, demonstrated an irritating ability to flip light switches. While I admire the talent, I do not when it gets flipped in the middle of the night.

The wall switch in my office is blocked by a lamp. One, because the overhead light went Zzzzzzt when turned on a while back and began to emit an awful smell, and it hasn't yet been fixed. And two...things need to be kept in front of wall switches to keep Max from playing at 3 a.m.

No, the lamp is turned on by a revolving switch.

You know the kind that required fingers to operate, and ideally opposable thumbs.

Max simply can't turn this light on.

Yet, it was suddenly on, and I was scrambling out of bed. I looked into the office and he was stretched out on the tower, and started bitching at me as soon as he saw me.

I turned the light off.

I turned it back on.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The lamp works; it was off when I went to bed. There are no signs of anything nefarious happening. Both cats--other than Max bitching me out--were relaxed so I know there are no gremlins running around here, getting into things.

So how did the damn light turn itself on?

And more importantly, how long am I going to be awake? Because there's no way in hell I'm going back to bed for a while...


6 August 2011

My email. I shares it.

Hi! I found your first book at Amazon and got it for my Kindle, loved it, and then bought all the others. I read them all in a week, and my eyes kind of hurt now. I Googled you and found your blog and want to be your stalker. Ha ha ha, not really, but I read back a ways and looked at your pink pictures. Anyway, is the flipside of here the last book? Is there going to be another one in the series? Can you be bribed? I won’t even ask you to wear spandex! :)

I love getting (nice) email about my work, truly I do. I often get email from fans of Max, but for myself, not so much. I’m not sure what that says about my work, but there we have it. Max is still far more popular (for a while last year I was outselling him 10 to 1. Karma bit me in the ass when I pointed at him and said, “There ya go, you little &$^#*@”.)

I tend to respond to positive “fan mail” (quotes because I’m not clear whether or not it counts as fan mail…and yeah, I’ve answered negative mail, too, but it’s hard to be nice when someone has just emailed YOU SUCK…) and a few times I’ve had fairly lengthy correspondences with the people who kindly take the time to find me and drop a line.

Almost always, there’s the question: will there be more to the Charybdis series?

The honest answer is, I don’t know. When I finished The King and Queen of Perfect Normal* I intended it to be the capstone; I didn’t think there was anything else there to explore, and I worried that a prequel would be tedious. The little parts of the story that occur before Charybdis were scattered throughout the first book, and I thought that was enough. I had doubts about my ability to bring a prequel together and not wind up with massive suckage.

It was all buried deep in my head, though. I knew the answers to all the questions I’d gotten over the years. How did Chip get anywhere near the agency as a teenager? How could his mother not know who his father was? How could Kris have been with Ron in the first place—he was a monster…right?

Random picture, I just like it. Carry on.
I had the story. I had far too much of the story, to be honest. If I’d written it all down it would have been a 900 page monstrosity.

But then came training for the SGK 3 Day last year, and when you’re walking mile after mile and you have a writer’s brain, things tend to happen. I can clearly remember where I was when the first paragraph of what would become The Flipside of Here settled into my head; I could see it in front of me. As I hitched up my Camelbak and shuffled down the bike path, the sun in my eyes, I saw the glittering water of the duck pond, I saw two people sitting on a bench, and I just knew.

Through the rest of training for last year’s walk, the story bubbled in my brain; I took notes, I coughed up the details of the things I already knew, and once the walk was over and I began to write the book.

But…now I’m back to where I was before that flash of an opening poked its way through my brain: I don’t know that there’s anything left of the story to tell. I know there’s more there—I could sit down and write another dozen books—but I don’t know if what’s left would be interesting to anyone but myself.

Still, I’ve learned to never say never. I may hit mile 15 of an 18 mile training walk and have another epiphany. Someone might utter a certain phrase and turn it in a certain way, and I’ll just know. I don’t want to declare the series over, yet I also don’t want to make anyone think there’s another book in the works.

I am writing. But at the moment, I am not writing anything that has any of the Charybdis characters in it.

Nope, I’m not bored with them.

I don’t want my readers to be, either.

So…we’ll see.

*Another thing I get: “It should be perfectly normal, not perfect normal!” But no…’perfectly normal’ and ‘perfect normal’ are two different things, and I fully intended the latter.