30 December 2012

For no real pretending to work
Things I keep thinking about instead of the work I’m supposedly doing as I sit here in a crowded Starbucks.

  • Mister, it was kind of mean to tell your little boy there’s a frog on his head, but I am enjoying watching him spin, twist, and turn as he tries to fine it. And you have a very realistic “ribbet.”
  • Come on, phone, stop buzzing like I’ve got a text message when I don’t have a text message. Especially at 2 in the morning.
  • I think I want to re-pierce my left ear.
  • Guy with hair down to your waist and visible neck tattoos…think about the irony of you telling the woman you’re with to “get a load of” me.
  • Yes, my dandruff is pink, thank you for speculating.
  • The music in here is actually loud enough to drown out the ringing in my ears.
  • There’s a lady waiting for her order who is dancing in place. I think she’s about 75 years old. Rock on, old lady…even if the music is instrumental jazz.
  • If I stick my brain with my pen via my ear, will it get back into work mode?
  • Yes, I am here a lot. No, I do not know if the sandwiches are any good or how long they’ve been out. If you try one and like it, please let me know. I’ve been wanting to try the egg salad but don’t have the nerve.
  • New ink. I need to make an appointment. Or sweet talk someone into making it for me, because…phones.
  • Apparently, today is Talk to Thumper Day at the Dixon Starbucks.
  • Yes, I like my MacAir. Yes, it was worth the bucks. No, I wouldn’t give one to a 13 year old.
  • I have the munchies. It’s a good thing the line here is long, because they have donuts today.
  • Thank you for apologizing, but the word “fuck” does not offend me, especially when following the dropping of your scone. I would have sworn, too.
  • People who can leave their laptops sitting on the table here while they run to the restroom are either brave or foolish, can’t decide which. I pack mine up and take it with me, just in case…
  • I wonder how carbonated tea would taste. I have a Sodastream now…I need to find out.
  • Guy running across the parking lot looks a lot like the Boy; for just a moment I wondered what the hell he was doing here, and who was he chasing?
  • If you’re still reading, you win a cookie. Here, take this $10 bill and I’ll hold the table while you wait in line. Get me a donut while you’re at it, okay?
  • Holy hell, I really have the munchies…


29 December 2012

Bridget Spence doesn't know me from any of the other thousands of 3 Day participants that she's never met. She has no clue I exist, and that's fine; I know of her and I've been following her blog for a while, to the point where I got a weird little thrill when I looked up during a Komen commercial and there she was.

I don't know her, but I could still squeal I read her blog!

She's been fighting like hell for years; she's not quite 30 years old, but she's been battling breast cancer since she was 21 years old. She's somewhat of an icon in the 3 Day Community, especially those connected by Facebook. Many have had the chance to hear her speak, many have become her friends and allies.

She's touched all of us.

Her fight has not been easy, and now she's asking that we let her go. And that she not be forgotten.

We won't forget her; we can't. We can't do much of anything, but remembering her, that we can do. And because she loves pearls, many 3 Dayers are wearing their pearls in honor of her. Many of my friends, just because I asked, have donned theirs in honor of her.

I don't own any pearls and am not likely to, but I had one thing I could do.

I could get my freak on, and rock the pink again.

My plans for this weekend had originally been to dye my hair back to its natural color, but instead I got my very gay haircut, and last night I bleached it so that today I could go back to the neon pink.

Good intentions, and all that.

I messed up on the dye job--I should have waited for the Spouse Thingy, since he always helps me get those spots I can't see--and the haircut isn't quite as spiffy today. It's going to take some practice to get those spikes right; right now it looks like I lost a fight with a pissed off weed whacker.

I am so not pulling off this hair style.

But, it is what it is, and it is what I could do.

What you can do...go read Bridget's blog, at least her goodbye entry, and send some mojo her way. And then sear her into your brain, and then never, ever, forget her.


28 December 2012

I needed a haircut. Badly. Or badly for me; most people would probably look at me and think it was short enough already, but I like it short enough to not have to fuss with it.

So off to Pro Clips I went, because after trial and error and so many really bad haircuts, I found a place that has people who don’t routinely screw up. And the same two people cut my hair every time (well, okay, not at the same time…but they’re the only two who cut it.)

There were a couple people ahead of me, so I had to wait. No problem. I sat in a chair against the far wall; there are 4 chairs there, and I sat in chair #2. This left one empty chair to my left and 2 empty chairs to my right…there are more across the waiting area, but were mostly full. There are a good six inches between the chairs, so you get plenty of personal space while you wait.

So I sat there playing solitaire on my phone, waiting my turn, when an older couple came in. He sat in the chair furthest to my right while she signed in, and when she stepped over she hesitated, then leaned down and whispered to him loudly, “I don’t want to sit next to a faggot!”

He told her to just sit. He wasn’t budging. I suppose he didn’t want to sit next to a faggot, either.

There was a little boy ahead of me; he was maybe 5 years old and getting his hair buzzed, so it wasn’t going to take long. While he giggled because the clippers tickled, the lad next to me whispered again, “I really don’t want to sit next to it.”


So you know what I had to do.

I scooted the chair about an inch closer to her.

And a minute later, a tiny bit more.

I might have done it again—maybe not, I didn’t want to be the reason they got up and walked out—but the little boy’s haircut was done and Peter (haircut dude) called me up.

“Where’s your husband today?”


I heard that old lady practically gasp.

I kind of hope she choked on a little spit.

I swapped some small talk with Peter, and proceeded to get the gayest haircut I think I’ve ever had.

That lady, though? When I paid and started to leave, I looked at her, and she was sitting there with a hand over her mouth, though I can’t honestly say if it was in shame or disbelief.

I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m gay. It’s not offensive. But that attitude?


Don’t care much now, though. I love my gay haircut. And tonight, I dye again.


25 December 2012


He was very into things today...trying to take over a toy meant for Butters, helping unwrap gifts and playing Monopoly. By the time that bow went on his head, he was probably 4 kinds of nipped out.

No, no Buddah pictures. He slept through it all. But was like he didn't want to miss a thing.

And I'm pretty sure he knows he looks spiffy with the bow.


22 December 2012

My hero...
All right, first, you need to go read Max's blog post for today. Go ahead. I'll wait.

The little shit has every right to brag. He worked his ass off to get me out of bed and into the living room, and when I finally followed him, he stopped in front of the fireplace and looked at me like, "I love this thing, but I know this isn't right."

And yes, he earned more crunchy treats than he normally gets.

The thing is, it's not the first time. When he was only about a year and a half old, he quite possibly saved our lives.

At least this time he didn't have to bite me, but I have no doubt that he would have if he needed to.


21 December 2012

Dressed a lot like this...ThumpaElf
I’m sitting here in Starbucks, supposedly working, but there’s a table not too far from me with a couple of women and their kids, three little girls who all look to be about 6-7 years old. They’re all being very good, but they’re also obviously wound up—hopped up on caffeine, sugar, and expectation—and are wiggling around in their chairs like 3 little girls are wont to do.

I had been sitting here for all of five minutes when I realized they were talking about me. Granted, they are all trying very hard to not speak loudly and point, but they’re also very young and their whispers make a stage whisper sound muffled. And bear in mind, I’m dressed pretty much like an elf: red pants, green sweatshirt, and my Santa hat.

Hey, it's festive. This is the only time of year I can get away with this. And I love my red pants, dammit.

Girl 1: I think that’s Santa’s wife! That’s Mrs. Claus!

Girl 2: Why is she here?

Girl 3: She likes coffee!

Girl 1: No! She’s taking notes!

Girl 3: Mrs. Claus has pink hair! Look!

Girl 2: I’m being good.

Girl 1: Mommy, are we still being good if we ask for another cookie?

I’ve only been here for about 30 minutes, but I’ve overheard each of them being called by their names…if any of them walk past me to go into the bathroom, I am going to be sorely tempted to say hello and use their names.

That’ll freak the little rugrats out.


16 December 2012

Ok, so for far too many people, crappy week was…crappy. One farkwad shot up a mall, followed by another shooting up a school...The enormity is hard to comprehend; the loss of so many kids is especially hard to understand.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s difficult to comprehend shooting anyone. For anything. I cannot wrap my head around being so broken that I would pick up a weapon and take out so many innocent people. I’ve been angry enough to want to bitchslap a person back into the 1800s, but have never felt like I wanted someone dead.

But…that’s not even what this is about. This is about the collective pain felt around the world. I doubt unless you’ve been in that situation, you can really empathize with the victims or their families and friends, but you can still feel buried in sorrow, disbelief, anger…and impotence.

That impotence, the wanting so desperately to be able to do something for someone you can really do nothing for, I understand that. I would think that we all do, because there aren’t many people out there who haven’t wanted to reach out in a situation where one simply cannot.

In spite of the violence of this past week, I still stand firmly in my belief that most people are basically good. There is evil in this world, but more than that, there is good.

If you look hard enough, it’s all around you.

A few weeks ago, someone on reddit posted a question: what’s the nicest thing someone has done for you?

A lot of people have done a lot of nice things for me, but the one that immediately popped into my head… First off, if you’ve read my blog from the beginning, or near it, you know that I have diabetes insipidus, one of the lingering issues from a pituitary tumor in 2002. The result of that is that I am frequently thirsty. Very thirsty. It’s a violent thirst that until I experienced it, I never would have imagined it possible.

I take medication for it, but sometimes it wears off early, and I turn into a drinking and peeing machine.

One afternoon I was at Walmart, and started feeling the thirst ramp up. So on my way out, before it reached proportions of Oh Holy Hell, I stopped at the vending machine to get a soft drink. Hey, 50 cent Walmart brand diet cola-like product, not so shabby, and it would do the trick.

I stood there, wrist deep into my pocket trying to find enough change, muttering to myself because all I could feel bouncing off my fingertips were a couple of dimes and a few pennies, when this guy reached over my shoulder and dropped a couple of quarters into the machine and said it was on him.

Before I could protest—I had a dollar in my wallet and the machine took bills, too—or even really thank him, he had turned and was walking away at a pretty good clip.

This guy had no way of knowing that I wasn’t just some chubby, middle aged housewife caving into a sweet tooth and getting a sugar-laden can of crap. He had no way of knowing that I was truly thirsty, deep down painfully thirsty. He just saw someone struggling to come up with a couple of quarters, and was thoughtful enough, and generous enough, to buy her a no-return-expectations drink.

It was such a small gesture, yet for me huge in the generosity of it, that it stuck with me.

Random act of kindness.

I’ve thought about that question posed on reddit on and off since. As I recall, there were thousands of answers, but that didn’t and doesn’t surprise me. People do nice things for other people all the time, all these seemingly little things that add up to making others—and yourself—feel good.

In the last week, two major things have made us all feel horrible. You know it’s a special kind of awful when the news anchors and the President are choking back tears. You know it’s heinous when you sit there watching news you don’t want to see yet can’t turn away from, with your hands held tightly over your mouth in utter disbelief. You know it’s a collective agony when you find yourself mourning people you never had a personal connection to, crying for someone else’s children, battling the thoughts of how horrible it all is.

The shoes by the door that will never again be worn. Underwear wadded up in that little-kid way in dresser drawers that might stay there untouched for a decade. Toys left scattered in back yards that will never again be played with. Christmas presents under the tree that will be put away, never unwrapped. Laughter that will never again tease a parent’s ear.

It hurts so much because we can all connect ourselves to the idea of loss, the deep terror of losing a child, the depth of the something we never want to experience. The depth of what no parent should ever experience.

We can’t take the pain away from the parents, families, friends, spouses, and significant others of those ripped away in the last two weeks.

But we can do something.

Even little things.

Make this the week you do random acts of kindness. From tomorrow, December 17th until December 23rd, deliberately do things, large or small, for someone else.

Tip your waiters and waitresses a little bit heavy.

Make a grocery run just for your local food bank.

Wave your skepticism aside and hand over $5 to the guy on the corner with the cardboard sign.

Buy a few extra toys for Toys for Tots.

Pay for a stranger’s coffee.

Buy dinner for that young couple three tables over.

Rake the leaves in your elderly neighbor’s yard.

Visit random acts of pizza, feed someone.

Shove a couple of quarters into a vending machine for someone you don’t know, and walk away quietly.

Just for a week, make the effort to see what small things you can do for someone else.

I promise, you’ll feel good.

And if the world really does end on the 21st, well, at least you’ll go out knowing your last days were spent trying to make this a better place, even for just a few random people.

Share the idea with your friends. Let's really do this.

Kindness needs to win.


14 December 2012

On days like this, when the news is just one horrific, heartbreaking story, heading out and seeing the shiny things is not a bad way to spend the day.

It also doesn't hurt to be able to go see kitties up for adoption from the SPCA in the Macy's store window.


7 December 2012

I asked for a prayer not mojo. I need God’s help. I don’t need some throwback to Austin Powers.

And thusly began a conversation that never should have occurred…

It’s semantics. If you post a status on Facebook asking for prayers because your son’s teacher’s cousin’s hamster has wet tail, what you’ll get from me is “Sending tons of Mojo.”

It’s the same thing. Those prayers, well wishes, Mojo—it’s all the same thing. It goes to the same place. And it’s really not up to anyone else to define for me how I express that. If I had posted “Suck it up, Sunshine,” then sure, you should have a problem with that (unless you’re one of my personal little sideshow freaks that likes to make me dance and do tricks for donations, then I will totally call you Sunshine and tell you what to suck, where, when, and how hard.) But sending Mojo—and meaning it—is, in my book, every bit as valid as saying I’ll pray for someone.

In my case, it’s far more genuine.

You’re not Christian. You might say you are, but you’re not. I’ve never, not once, seen you post anything calling to God’s glory or offering a genuine prayer.

No, and you probably never will. I might blog about my religious leanings, but I’m not going to get on Facebook or anywhere else and wax religious. I will not post a prayer. I will not post “Oh, glory be to God” or anything like it.

Why not?

Read the Book of Matthew.

Matthew 6:5 -- And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:6 -- But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

King James Version

Pretentious piety; I’ve been accused of it before, in a weird sort of way. But I truly have little stomach for those who wave religion like a banner, who seem to have a need to make sure every single person in their personal atmosphere knows how they pray, to whom they pray, and for what they pray.

Yes, ask me to pray for you, or for anything that’s important to you; I believe in the power of prayer and have no issue with those who ask for it. But don’t tell me how to respond to that. Mojo, prayer; same thing. You’re getting offended by the answer you wanted; I just don’t phrase it in the manner you choose.

Suppose I was an atheist and offered you Mojo or well wishes? Would you still be offended?

Probably. And I don’t find that especially charitable.

You’re not a real Christian. That’s my point. You don’t live by the Bible. For God’s sake, you support gay marriage, which is so anti-Christian I don’t even know where to start. Marriage is a Christian institution.

Yes, I support gay marriage. And it has a great deal to do with religion, and protecting religious freedoms. It’s because I deeply value freedom of and freedom from religion. It’s because marriage is not a Christian institution; marriage is, fundamentally, a covenant between two people and whomever or whatever they believe. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

By defining marriage as a Christian institution, you’re basically saying that most of the world has no right to marry. No one Jewish, Muslim, Hindi, Buddhist, Sheikh… very few people in this world, by that definition, would be allowed to marry.

Does anyone seriously believe that only Christians should marry?

And let’s be honest; you’re picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to follow, and deciding everyone else needs to follow it the way you do.

Think about it.

Look at the people around you. Even the ones you only know peripherally. Have any of them ever committed adultery?

Everyone knows someone who has.

G'head...pick one up and chuck it...
What did you do about it? I’m guessing not much. You certainly didn’t start chucking rocks at them, yet that’s what the Bible tells you to do: those who commit adultery are supposed to be stoned, and not in the happy Mary-Jane kind of way.

Ever wear a lycra sports bra under your cotton shirt? You’re mixing fabrics. That’s a no-no.

The Bible tells us to do a lot of things we won’t, because in today’s climate they feel wrong. We don’t sell our daughters into slavery. We don’t conduct ritual animal sacrifice. We just don’t do those things…but the Bible tells us to.

So the argument that I should not support gay marriage because it’s a violation of a biblical principle doesn’t wash with me. And I find those who use it as an argument to banish the mere notion of gay marriage to be horrifically hypocritical.

Don’t use the Bible as your foundation for your point of view unless you are truly following it.

No one is asking you to believe that gay marriage is fine; many are, however, asking that you allow them the same religious freedoms you enjoy, and to stop blocking them from practicing religion in the manner they see fit. You’re picking and choosing the parts of the Bible that are important to you and your life; give that same freedom to everyone else.

Even if it is fundamentally wrong in God’s eyes, it’s not up to you to stand in someone else’s way on His behalf. God will sort everyone out in the end…and that includes you.

You have no testimony. None.

But I do. I just don’t put it out there publically. If I attended a church, I would share my testimony there. What I won’t do is anything that I would interpret as being a public show of piety. Again, go read the Book of Matthew.

You’re supposed to glorify God. You’re suppose to bring others to Him, not guide them away. Anything less is offensive to God, and I don’t see why anyone would want to anger Him.

I don’t think you can bring someone to faith and to God by denying them basic human civil rights. I don’t think you can bring someone to faith by beating them over the head with yours. I really don’t think you can bring someone to faith telling them that they are less than you believe yourself to be, and because they don’t share your religion that they’re going to burn in hell.

I think God is a better man than that.

I think you can bring a person closer to faith by leading by example.

I think bringing someone to faith is done quietly and compassionately.

I think more than anything written on pages that have been translated and interpreted more times than can be counted, what matters is basic human kindness.

If you can nail down the innate kindness thing, you’re doing it right.

So…no, I will rarely say in a public venue that I am praying for you. I will offer up my own brand of it; I will wish for you all the Mojo the cosmos has for you. I will wish you well, and I will mean it. But I will not type out a prayer, because that is just not me.

I will not squash someone else’s freedom to be who they are, simply because I don’t understand it, or because it doesn’t exactly mesh with my idea of perfect right.

You're not him; don't be him.
If you want to base everything on what the Bible says, look to Matthew 7:1-2 -- Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again.

Look to Luke 6:31 -- And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

In other words, don’t deny people the same things you have as a matter of course. It’s not very…Christian.

Don’t you believe in anything?

I believe in compassion. Parity. Equality. Fairness. And kindness.

Most of all, I believe in kindness.

Be kind, and let others find and define their own relationship with God. Even if it does bug you.


2 December 2012

You guys know my cats have blogs, and that pretty much puts me right smack dab into the middle of Crazy Cat Lady territory. In my head, Max writes his own blog entries. He writes his own books. I just type the words out for him.

Cat blogging, as funny as it sounds and as odd as it seems, got huge in the last few years. When Max started, I couldn’t find any other cat-written blogs. Afterward, I found two, Prince Muddy Paws and Timothy Dickens, but it was a while before I found anymore of them. People found Max, and began their own cat blogs. People found those people…now there are so many that I only know a relative few of them. I have nearly 300 in a newsfeed, but that’s a fraction of the cat blogs out there—and that doesn’t count the cat-oriented blogs that are written by humans about cats.

A funny thing happened while the cat blogosphere expanded. People started peeking out from behind their cat facades and began talking to each other. Sometimes in email, sometimes in texts or chat rooms, but when Facebook exploded, the people behind the cat blogs really started to connect.

You can’t convince me that real friendships cannot be developed online. You can’t convince me that people have to meet face to face in order to sincerely care about each other. I have friends—not necessarily cat bloggers—who met online, then in person, and eventually got married. I have friends who have found their BFFs online. I have made some of the best friends of my life, people in whom I have a considerable amount of trust, and I have reconnected with old friends.

Sandy, Ian (aka Murf, aka Undr), Char, Michelle (aka DKM), Roberta (mom to the Grate Jeter Harris Hizzelf)…I have come to know and love a whole bunch of people I never would have known or reconnected with if not for being online.

Being online, and being a part of the cat blogosphere, has given me some solid relationships that have endured and undoubtedly will endure. Hell, Sandy and I met on Prodigy over 20 years ago. Remember Prodigy? It was one of the first online services, with its Crayola-colored pages and black and white message boards; it was the first to usher out a web browser. It was slow and clunky, but it predated AOL and people began to connect there. It’s been gone for years, but Sandy and I are still friends. We still email each other nearly every day.

The cat blogosphere has given me Michelle and Roberta and Karen and so many other friends. By extension, it’s given me the 3 Day, and all the walking that goes with preparing for that. And that has given me back mobility I was surely losing.

So to keep beating you over the head with it…the online connections matter. They are every bit as real as friendships fostered IRL.

That realness, the very tangible emotional threads that people use to bind themselves in increasing degrees to others, has made the Cat Blogosphere a sad place this week. There is a rawness of sorrow, grief mixed with both relief and puzzlement. There have been genuine, gut-wrenching tears, as we find ourselves having to murmur “See you on the flipside” to two wonderful people.

One loss was expected, a battle against cancer hard-fought and surrounded by whispers and prayers of hope; that the end was expected didn’t diminish the profundity of sadness or volume of tears shed. She was treasured and she was loved by so many people who never had the chance to meet her face to face. Her loss will be felt for a very long time.

Another loss came like a slap in the face, a cold wet hand swung unexpectedly in the dark, the sting such a surprise that at first there was numbness, that electric tingling that blankets a person before the pain sets in. It was a loss that will forever engender questions of “Why?” and “What did we not see? What could we have done?

I admit, I did not know either of these women well, but their passing has rocked the CB, and deeply affected people to whom I am close. I ache for them; my grief is largely for them. There are no words adequate enough to act as a salve for their wounds; there is nothing I could say or do to really lessen the pain.

I knew their cats. That seems like an odd thing to think or say out loud, but I read their blogs and developed affection for the furry kids they loved. I will not pretend my feelings sting as much as do those who knew them well, but there’s an honesty in the tears that form in a lump in my throat and the ones I try to blink back.

I hurt for my friends, for their enormous losses.

I ache for the questions that will be left unanswered.

Death by any means just sucks. It doesn’t matter if someone passes in degrees, pushing back hard against a disease that is picking away at them piece by piece. It doesn’t matter if someone dies by his or her own hand. It matters that they are gone, and there are deep, black, empty holes where their laughter and smiles should be.

It’s a pain I understand; I’ve lost too many friends over the years—IRL and online--and I can feel the losses still. That pain will always linger in the back of my mind, and when a week like this happens, when the losses are huge—even if I did not know them well—I can feel it pushing back at me. I can taste the memory of loss, the bitterness that can’t be covered with a hot drink nor spit out like a bit of bad food.

Two very wonderful women are gone in this last week; hundreds of people who never met them in person are feeling grief that is every bit as real as the grief felt by the lucky few who did.

The cat blogosphere may be a quiet place for a few days; instead of our cats chattering about the misery of having to live with people, there will be tributes to both bloggers, women who will be sorely missed. There will be worry over their families, and worry over their furballs. There will be wishes for peace and the relief from pain, and prayers offered out of genuine love and affection.

I have doubts about many things involving religion and how we perceive God and God’s love, but I have no doubt that there is something after this, something wonderful.

I also have no doubt that both women will find their way there, and there will be someone to greet them, and to offer them the warmth of a tight, loving hug.

It does not matter how you die; what matters is how you lived.

JudiBug and Jan…they lived well and were loved, and even those of us who did not get to know them well will miss them.

And you can be sure, if I know you, even “just online” and something happens, I will feel every stab of grief there is. And if I have come to treasure you—and there are so many people that I do—I will be gutted.

Please don’t die.

Please live.


30 November 2012

I’m sitting here in Starbucks, supposedly working, but there are a bunch of people in here who are far more interesting than anything I could cough up onto the virtual piece of paper. Aside from the one wall where every single space is taken up by someone with an Macbook laptop—all those little glowing apples in a row—I have people on either side of me engaged in conversation that keeps pulling me away from what I’m working on.

I can’t hear Max’s voice over them; if I can’t hear him dictating to me, I can’t write. That’s all right, though, because listening to other people engaging each other, that’s just as important to a writer as the words that eventually become a written story.

There you go, something to make you feel a little bit self conscious about what you’re discussing with your friends over coffee. That person sitting nearby with a laptop, typing away furiously? They’re probably listening to you, not necessarily because they’re nosey, but because the ebb and flow of your conversation, the cadences in which you speak, the words you use either by choice or habit, those are tools. They’re inviting. They’re an audible picture that sticks in that writer’s head, something he or she can call up later, when there’s a need to hear how other people speak…because people don’t really speak the way your brain often tells you they do.

You know all those funny FMLs and DYAC images? Read them out loud. You can usually tell the real ones from the fake, because they just don’t sound right. And a whole bunch of them…sooo fake.

In any case, I’m being distracted by a couple people next to me who are wearing uniforms from the pizza place across the street. I like that place, though it has nothing to do with anything, really. I noticed them when I came in, probably because I like their pizza and kind of wish I hadn’t had lunch before I left the house, because that would be a good excuse to wander across the street for a personal sized pizza.

Every weekday afternoon they have an all-you-can-eat buffet; it’s something like $6 person, and they put out some decent things, salad bar included. I think we’ve been there for the buffet once, maybe twice. They’ll even ask you when you’re paying if there’s a particular kind of pizza you’d like; if it’s not out there, they’ll make one.

Apparently it’s a very popular buffet…with one customer. He’s there almost every day, from the time the buffet opens until just before the last pizza is gone. He’s there for nearly three hours, eating slice after slice, consuming roughly two large pizzas by himself.

He is, by description, quite a large fellow, though neither of them described him with dismissiveness. It was said quite matter-of-factly; the dude is massively obese.

This is where I expected the sad jokes. “Yo, man, it’s all you can eat. Stop. Go home. This is all you can eat.”

There are no mean or snide remarks coming from them. They’re worried about him. They can’t refuse him service, but they’d like to, because he’s a very nice guy and they’re afraid he’s going to just…die.

I have a little insight into how a regular customer dying impacts people, even if it doesn’t happen right there. I was a semi-regular at the Barnes & Noble café when we lived in Ohio, and was there when news filtered in that one of the regulars—a beautiful young man in a wheelchair—had been hit by a minivan. Some woman chose the moment he was crossing the street—he had the light—to answer her cell phone. She ran the red and plowed right into him.

Everyone was devastated, especially the employees.

So yeah, I imagine their concern for this guy and the huge amounts he’s consuming worry them. They’re not grossed out, they’re not making fun of his size; they’re scared for him.

One day he might not show up, and they won’t think much of it, because not even the most regular of regulars shows up every day. But then one day will slide into two, then three, and they’ll begin to wonder. And when one week slides into two, someone makes an effort to find out, and when it’s bad news, they’ll begin to grieve.

But they can’t really do anything to save this guy from himself. He’s an adult; he makes his own choices. He undoubtedly knows what he’s doing to himself. He knows how it looks; he knows how he looks.

But I bet he has no idea that the people who take his money, who greet him with a smile, who clean up the table after he leaves, genuinely care about what happens to him.

You learn more by listening to the people around you than just the way they speak, the way words turn and tumble from their lips. You learn that most people are basically good, and in spite of the awfulness that the news suggests, on the whole future generations are going to be all right.

Then again, there’s the kids at another table, wondering out loud how funny it would be to put dye in the soap dispensers in the restroom…


28 November 2012

Dye your hair red, Murf said.

Go shopping wearing green, Murf said.

Be all Christmassy, Murf said.

So I dyed my hair red...though I'm told it has some major fuchsia overtones. Which I totally like, and it's red enough.

And I put on my green jeans, which have pockets so shallow I kinda freak out about losing my keys and wallet, and a green hoodie, AND a red t-shirt, because that was just festive. And then shopping we went.

I looked CHRISTMASSY, dammit.

The hot pink shoes, though? Maybe not my best choice,but since Murf's thing seems to be getting people to stare at me, they probably worked.

By Monday night, we had totally changed our plans. We went from planning on staying overnight in San Francisco and walking/shopping for two days, to not staying overnight and just walking/shopping on Tuesday in San Francisco, to not going into SF at all.

Because of a rumor about a protest involving nudists upset about the changes in SF's public nudity laws and the BART stations, we decided to shop elsewhere. It was just a rumor, but I heard it from two different sources, so I figured better safe than sorry...and as far as I can find out, the protest never happened, so we would have been fine going into the city, but... we didn't go.

And in hindsight, if the idea was to make people stare and try to not mockingly laugh at me, shopping elsewhere was probably the better idea. Dressed like that in SF? Not a big deal. I would have looked downright normal in SF.

In Sacramento? Yeah, I stood out a little bit.

Mission accomplished.

We shopped and walked for a long time, though I didn't have my pedometer so I'm not sure how far we actually went, and we only found a couple of small gifts. But that's all right, too, because if the weather predictions for next week are nice, we'll go into SF then and do some mega-shopping.

Maybe I'll find another Christmas Pimp hat.

I probably should have bought this.

And I probably should have paid closer attention to the display I was standing in front of when the Spouse Thingy took this picture.

I promise, it was not a sex shop.

Really. Swearsies.


26 November 2012

This week's plan to go to San Francisco, walk and shop and shop and walk, spend the night in a really nice hotel, and the walk and shop some more, has been trimmed down a bit.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to walk and shop friendly, but Wednesday looks like it will be horrible. High winds and heavy rain, which makes walking not so much fun, and sucks any joy out of shopping.

So we're going tomorrow to shop and walk a little, but the major miles I intended on racking up will have to wait. I still owe y'all some time pounding the pavement, but I'm delicate, ya know.

Instead, I'll make good on Murf's donation bait for the Boy's Polar Plunge.

$500 to dye my hair red and then go shopping dressed all Christmassy.

Well...the hair is red.

I have green jeans, a red t-shirt, and green hoodie.

So tomorrow we'll go to SF and shop, thereby honoring my end of the deal.

Get ready to cough up half a grand, Glowboy.

We'll check the weather for next week and see how well that'll work for getting some decent miles in. If it looks good, we'll reserve another room and shoot for that. But tomorrow, instead of concentrating on the miles, I'll be concentrating on how much I can spend.

Fun time, fun times ;)


25 November 2012

When I got up this morning, one of the first things I did was check the temperature outside, determined that by lunchtime it would be in the low 60s, and decided that when I ventured out today, it would be on the bike. I had one thing I needed to pick up at Walmart (bleach kit for my hair, since the one I bought the other day turned out to be missing things. Like, the bleach part) and then I wanted to go to Starbucks for a couple of hours to hog a table while I sipped at my Venti Black Icea Tea and worked on Max's book.

The best part of the day, I was sure, would be the short motorcycle ride.

But then I got online, and poked through parts of reddit, looking at pictures on the motorcycle subreddit. I like looking at other peoples' bikes and some of the short videos they post. I clicked on one link, not noticing that it was clearly marked NSFW; even if I had noted that, I probably would have clicked anyway, assuming that I'd be subject to a little flesh as someone rode their bike down the road.

It happens. I'm not easily offended.

Instead, what I watched was a short clip of footage from a security camera. It captured a rider on a 3 lane highway with a semi right behind him. As he started to move into the next lane, the semi clipped him, and he went down.

It wasn't until it looped through a second time that I realized that while the bike went one way, the rider went right under the truck's wheels.

Before I could click off, I watched that poor son of a bitch get pulled under two more times. He was ripped apart, and by the time the truck stopped, parts of his body were smeared behind the semi, while his arm jutted out from under one of the wheels.

That wasn't something I was prepared for.

I still can't get it out of my head.

And I couldn't force myself onto that bike today. I doubt I'll be able to tomorrow. I don't know when I'll be able to.

I've loved riding, but...damn.


23 November 2012


So...we're still going into SF next week to walk and walk and walk some more. But I won't be rocking the pink hair, after all.

No, I'll be rocking the red instead.

It's not that I no longer like the pink and have some deep seeded desire to go neon red, but Murf made an offer I choose to not refuse.

If I go red, then wander around in green clothes--all Christmassy--he'll donate $500 to the Boy's Special Olympic Polar Plunge.

Now, see, Murf thinks he's being funny. I think it's an easy $500 for the Special Olympics. I'm pretty sure that means I win.

Sooner or later he'll figure out the dyeing of my hair is costing him more money than he gets in returns of fun and embarrassment of Thumper. Meanwhile...Thumpa gets some cold hard cash for some decent causes.

On Sunday, the Boy is drawing the name of one of his donors to win a new Kindle Fire HD. Just $5 gets you a shot at it. And anything you donate is also tax deductible for 2012. Who would you rather give money to...Special Olympics, or Uncle Sam?

Tsk. Don't think about it! Think about that 6'2" bearded Princess Peach jumping into the cold, cold waters of the Bay!



18 November 2012

Ok, the cold seems to be easing up on me. I'm still coughing and annoying the carp out of Max with it, but I'm not sneezing nearly as much and I managed to stay (and feel) awake all day today.

Might as well stay someplace comfy...
So...a week from Tuesday we're heading into SF, where I will attempt to walk the miles from the Avon Walk that I was unable to in July. I do feel like I owe those miles to my donors, even though they were all very understanding about it, and I kinda feel like I owe a few miles to myself.

I think I'll miss the vibe that goes along with being among the masses walking for an event, but I'll have the advantage of walking my own route, and I'm probably going to avoid the major hills.

G'head, call me a wuss. I admit it.

Tuesday night we're staying at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel at Union Square, because...well, why not? That was the host hotel for the Avon Walk, and I was kinda looking forward to staying in it, so stay in it we shall. I kind of hope we have a room that faces Union Square for the view, but even if we don't, I get the impression it's still a decent hotel. It should make the Harrah's we stayed at in Vegas look pretty scummy.

Yes, I believe I will still be rocking the pink hair. I might as well keep it for this. And I kinda like it. Actually, I kinda like it a lot, so in the future it probably isn't the best thing to dangle in front of me for fundraising.

But still...on the 27th and 28th, your donations will be honored with as many of the Avon Miles as possible. You guys rock. So I shall deliver. And shop. I did mention I might shop on my breaks, right...?


16 November 2012

Should have expected it, but I didn't...the post-travel head cold. I might feel physically wrecked on the first leg of a trip, but it seems like I always get sick once I'm home. Which, if you think about it, it better than getting sick while I'm gone... and it's just a cold, so it's not too horrible. Still...all I want to do is sleep, and I'm not getting any work done.

Better to get the winter cold out of the way now. In a couple of weeks, the Spouse Thingy and I plan on heading into SF, where I will spend a couple of days walking to rack up the 40 miles I wasn't able to do for the Avon Walk in July. I'm hoping the city will already be decorated for the holidays, because it would be spiffy to be out walking under some twinkling lights.

It will be fun!

In other news..or a February the Boy is again jumping into cold, cold water to raise funds for the Special Olympics. His team is doing a Super Marios Brother theme and he's set to jumo as Luigi, BUT, if he reaches his $2000 goal, he'll go as Princess Peach.

< -- Princess Peach

This has to happen!

In about 10 days (I'm not 100% sure of the exact date) one of his donors is going to win a Kindle Fire HD. For every $5 you donate, you get a shot at it! With the holidays coming, it's a chance to win a really sweet gift for yourself, or someone you want to make squeal with delight.

The money goes to a really good gives Special Olympians the things they need to compete, from equipment all the way to the costs associated with participation. But mostly...I want to see my kid dressed like Princess Peach...


13 November 2012

In spite of a few hiccups—like the less than ideal hotel and the ethereal client—we had a great time in Vegas. We did a lot of walking—just a tad under 40 miles—and a little gambling (slots still hate me), and we saw almost everything we wanted to see. There are some things on the north end of the Strip we didn’t get to, but I doubt those things will vanish anytime soon and we can see them another time.

The not so good: the writer I was supposed to meet never showed. Never contacted me. Never answered messages. Now, this would almost be forgivable if it wasn’t the first time…but it’s the second time and in this game there’s no third strike. My rules; you’re out at the second strike. If we hadn’t turned this into a family vacation, I’d probably be going after her to recover expenses (and then wishing we’d stayed in a much nicer hotel…)

Never again...
The hotel sucked, too. We weren’t looking for anything 5-star and expensive, just something centrally located, comfortable, and fun. Harrah’s in Las Vegas is centrally located on the Strip, but that’s about it. Our irritations began from the time we tried to check in until the night before we left.

On check-in…look, they know people are traveling to get there, and sometimes the travel arrangements have them arriving before the 4 pm check-in time. But instead of being accommodating to people who spent a not-so-tiny sum of money to stay there, they give you three choices: pay $28 for each room to get early check-in, get a Player’s Card (which thereby gives them a lot of your personal info, like an email address to spam the ever-loving frakk out of), or stand there in the lobby and wait until 4 o’clock.

The rooms were ready. They were obviously ready. But let us in? Not without cash or info. We opted for the Player’s Cards, because those at least had the small benefit of minute discounts on food and drinks in the casino. But we were not happy, not in the least. Harrah’s in Reno? They let us check in early, no questions asked, no extra cash required.

I don’t get the logic behind that. Hell, people are there early and the rooms are ready? Let them in, then entice them to the casino where they’ll blow far more than that $28. Don’t tick off the customers from them moment they arrive.

The rooms were all right. Older, but not in a bad way. They were clean, and the beds were reasonably comfortable…right up to the point where we realized that the bar wedged between Harrah’s and next-door Imperial Palace has a live band every night. And that live band plays loudly until well after 2 a.m. which made sleeping a damn near impossibility.

I don’t even hold that against the hotel. It is what it is, and unless they remodel with some better sound proofing, it’ll be an ongoing problem.

What I do hold against them, in addition to the check-in extortion… Thursday night we got back to the hotel late and decided to eat in The Café, a restaurant in the casino that doesn’t even open until 11 pm. It was 11:15 when we got there and there were already a few other people there eating, and we were shown a table right off the bat.

This was a fun place...that's a 64 oz drink
But then? We sat there until 11:40, having never even seen a server. Not even so much as one going by to say she would be right with us. We gave up, and on the way out let the manager (I’m guessing…he was wearing a suit) that we’d never seen “Marjorie,” our supposed server, and we were leaving. An apology? Phhfft. Kind of a halfhearted “sorry” but barely even that.

The next night we decided to give KGB Burgers in the hotel a try…but we stood there at the entrance next to the Please Wait To Be Seated sign, and never saw a hostess. We didn’t wait as long this time…we bailed and went elsewhere.

To top it all off, the dealers on the floor were rude; the Boy decided to give a new game a try and mentioned to the dealer he was unfamiliar with it. Instead of getting even a cursory explanation of the rules—something he’s gotten every other place he’s played—he pretty much just got “Tough.” He took his money to the Bellagio instead, where they were more than happy to be nice.

All in all, we felt like we were intruders there and not guests…we won’t be going back. There are a dozen other options in Vegas on the Strip, and I think next time we’ll avail ourselves of something a little better, even if it costs a bit more.

White tiger at the Mirage
Still, we had a good time. Out of the hotel, it was awesome. We walked up and down the Strip, spent a little too much in the M&M Store, saw a Monet exhibit in the Bellagio’s Fine Art Gallery, saw tigers and lions and dolphins at the Mirage’s Secret Garden, and wandered through 3 malls. Having a river with gondolas on it in a mall, pretty cool, even if the stores are so high-end you don’t really want to set foot in them.

Highlights had to be going to see Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles tribute LOVE—that show was jaw-dropping amazing—and Lewis Black. Black was funny as hell, but LOVE was one of those extravaganzas that you pretty much have to see more than once to take it all in. And it’s a show that makes you want to see all the other Cirque du Soleil shows…all nine of them.

In front of the Bellagio Fountains...yep, with my back toward them

I did have some issues with fatigue—Thursday afternoon was spent sleeping instead of wandering around—and once home it’s taken me until today to feel even halfway human. But the fatigue didn’t take away from the fun, and my feet and back held up for all the walking. (Oddly enough, 40 miles over 4 days, when you’re doing a lot of meandering and not just walking, is about as tough as 60 over 3 days.)

Now, I was not drinking on this trip and the Boy said he would drink my share, but I don’t think that happened. None of us drank our way across Vegas, and we didn’t even eat our way across it…which means we have to go back, because there’s booze still to be consumed, and I’m pretty sure there’s a few desserts I missed.


2 November 2012

Okay, let's say I finish NaNoWriMo, finish my book, edit it, polish it, and publish it. What's the best thing I can do in order to drive readers to it?

Write another book.

No, I'm not being a smartass. The best way to drum up readers is to get another book out there; while you want readers finding your first book before your next is available, the numbers with multiple books available work in your favor. If you have more than one book in distribution, the more likely it is that readers will take a chance on you.

There are a lot of things you can do to publicize and market yourself, definitely. Make use of social media without being an attention whore about it; send out advanced reader copies; solicit legitimate reviews (and don't take offense at the bad ones. Everyone gets bad reviews...and never reply to a bad review someplace like Amazon. It freaks readers out.)

But mostly, you need to build your audience, and the best way to do that is by getting your next book out there.

My two cents.


1 November 2012

November 1st...that means it's the start of National Novel Writing Month--NaNoWriMo--during which writers around the world will make the attempt to cough up a novel in the span of 30 days.

Some will make it; some will give up; some will keep trying right until the bitter end. It sounds easy enough--just sit down every day and write 1700 words, and by the end of the month you'll have over 50,000 words written down, good or bad.

It's not as easy as it sounds, though, because your inner editor tends to kick in and you start over thinking things, worrying about the quality of your story and whether or not it will be worth the effort at the end of the month, much less whether anyone will ever want to read it.

Take my advice: tell your inner editor to shut the frak up. Quiet that annoying voice with chocolate or cookies, popcorn or rice krispy treats, whatever it takes. Just sit down and write, and come December you can take put your editor hat back on and get to work of fixing the massive volume of mistakes.

Oh yeah, there will be a metric ton of oopsies, but that's all right. Just get the story out on to virtual paper; it doesn't matter if it's wonderful or the biggest pile of suck ever created. All that matters is that you write.

You're creating a habit; that's a good thing. 

Just as important as sitting down and getting the writing done is insisting that the people around you respect the time you need in order to get it done; you really only need a couple of hours a day, make sure you take it and that everyone knows that they have to leave you alone during that time. Make sure they grasp that this isn't just a "thing" you're doing, but that you're actively engaged in actual work. Work that may later become income-producing.

Your work deserves respect.

Keep the NaNo flowing…in 30 days you’ll have the bones of your book done, and then can flesh it out, fix it up, make it longer, and make it awesome.

I’m not doing it this year—again—because I already have two projects going on and I started working on one long before November. Technically I could turn the other one into a NaNo project—all I’ve done on it is some character outlining and bare bones plot descriptions—but I’m deep enough into the first one that I need to focus in it.

It’s Max’s book. If I work on anything else…poop on my pillow, toothy death to things I love. You know the drill.

So I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, but I am working along with you guys, and I’m paying attention to my daily word count as if I were doing it.

Write on, peoples. Just 48,000 more words to go, right?


29 October 2012

A while back, maybe 3 weeks or so, Murf’s best friend—who was on pain meds from recent surgery—got on the phone with Murf—who was 3 beers tipsy—and they decided it would be the funniest thing ever to put Thumper’s dedication to the whole walking-for-breast-cancer-fundraising to the test.

If I would go pink again, Dack agreed to fully fund a walker in one of the remaining Komen 3 Day walks or someone doing the Avon walk. The caveat…it had to be someone I didn’t know. A total stranger. They knew I’d go pink in a heartbeat for a friend, but a total stranger?

They also made side bets. Dack bet $100 I would do it, Murf bet $100 I wouldn’t, and Char got it on it, figuring I would.

I dragged my feet on this. And honestly, I was a little miffed and felt a bit used; if Dack wanted to pony up that kind of money, why didn’t he just do it? His sister in law is a survivor; I really did think that if he had the money and was thinking about donating, he should just do it. This wasn’t like making me do tricks for my own or a friend's fundraising, this was making me feel guilty about not being sure I wanted to take on the stares and pointed fingers and laughing from other people.

A week and a half or so into it, when I was still pondering it and potential walks (along with the donation window) were ending, Char quietly assured me in a PM that Dack had already donated over $5000 in his SIL's name. This was really just a couple guys getting giggly over the idea of seeing what I would do.

He still would, regardless, find walkers who still needed money, and fund them if I went pink.

When it seemed like I really didn’t want to do it, he amended the offer. Just go white-blonde. That would get $2300 donated to one or more walker in one of the 3 remaining 3 Day walks. If I then went pink, he was offering an additional $1200.

 Fine, so I did it.

I went blonde.

And in doing it, I upped the ante. If he wanted me to go pink, it had to be an additional $2000. All total he would be in it for around $9000…how badly did he want to see pink on my head?

Apparently, he wanted it pretty badly.

He called my semi-bluff and not only went $2000, he went a little bit more. Two people from TK’s dojang who have been training for the San Diego 3 Day were each over $1000 short and needed travel funds. He found several walkers by lurking on FB and donated to them anonymously.

All in all, he’s in for $10,000.

And my hair is PINK.

So's my ear...

This chit stains.


25 October 2012

If you were on Facebook last night, and happen to be FB friends with me, you were subjected to the likes of this:

And this

And this

And this

And I'm sorry LOL

On a whim last night, we decided--while grocery shopping no less--to go to Cattlemen's for dinner. We had a cart loaded with things we could have had for dinner, but Cattlemen's has what home does not.

A killer bar.

And Thumpa needed to drink. For science.

Granted, I'm not a heavy drinker. I imbibe anywhere for 2-4 times a year, I get drunk easily and quickly, which makes me a cheap bar date. The last time I had anything was (I think) in May, when the Boy took us to Reno. I had one small Long Island Tea and a Spiced Rum while we were there, and the next morning I had horrible issues of the digestive nature. We had to check out of the hotel room by 11, and because of that we headed home rather than hang around for a while as planned.

I didn't think there was necessarily a connection at the time; from Christmas last year on I was having issues 2-3 times a month, thinking I was just catching one bug after another, but then came July and colitis, and the numbers added up, so to speak.

One of the thing we all talked about when we were there was the possibility of a family trip to Vegas this winter; I have a potential client in the area who has really needed to be pinned down with a deadline, and this seemed like a good way to kick her butt into gear. It's a half hour to 45 minute meeting, and then it's all vacation time for us.

I think the last time the 3 of us went somewhere was when we lived in North Dakota; we met friends in Minneapolis at the Mall of America, and later took Curt and his friend Wyatt there and to an amusement park.

He was 14 or 15; he's almost 30 now, so that's a long time.

In any about a week and a half we're heading to Vegas.*

Vegas has booze.

Thump was no longer sure that she could handle any alcohol at all, and it seemed like a goood idea to have a couple of really strong drinks here, where any problems resulting from the consumption of said alcohol would happen at home, where I would at least be comfortable in my discomfort.

I downed two very stong Long Island Teas with dinner, and was drunk before I was 2 sips into the second one.

By the time we left, I was hammered...and then got on Facebook to play.

You make me laugh so hard when I'm drunk that I dang near peed a couple of times.

I enjoyed the drinks a lot, and my friends a hell of a lot, and went to bed hoping that all would be well in the morning.

Now, I don't get hangovers.


I was not the happiest of campers today. It wasn't horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to let me know that booze is, for the most part, in my past. If I drink in the future, it will be close to home when I know I'll be home the next day, and maybe not even then because, hell, who wants that?'s not likely I'll be drinking much in Vegas.

But on the plus side, the Boy assured me he would drink my share.

It warms my heart to know I raised such a considerate young man.

*Unlike Disney in December--which was an early celebration of our 30th anniversary--y'all can come play with us if you want!


24 October 2012

THis is me, drinking for sceince.

We needed me to drink because we don't know if it will make my intestines explode and we're going to Vegas in 2 weesk/

Because. VEGAS BABY!

And there's booze in vegas and my intestines BETRAYED MY THUSLY in July, so...test run.

With steak.


We had dessert, too

Did you know tha a chocoalte chip cookie with ice cream on top of it IS FREAKING AWESOME?
It is.

I hope they have this in Vegas.


And shit.

I should drink more then twice a year.


I'm sorry.

17 October 2012

I miss Borders. I really do. I think I got far more writing there accomplished than anywhere else. I enjoy the local McD's, where I've been trying to write, but I'm just not getting as much done.

Today, after dental appointments (replaced a filling, no big whoop), errands, getting my flu shot (I did not cry!) we stopped at the local Starbucks to check it out. It's been there the entire time we've lived here, but it was in a small store space, and frankly, I don't like coffee.

But...nearly two years ago the Quiznos that was right next to it went under, and the space was never leased. Last month Starbucks shut down for about two weeks to remodel and expand into that space, so I kind of wanted to check it out.

View from the front door
 It's big, a lot bigger than I expected, and this doesn't show the area with the big comfy chairs and tables, and toward the back where there's a sofa and chairs and table.

The two back walls are lined with tables for one, bench seating, and outlets lined up with every table.

View from where I sat in the corner

I bought a small iced tea--which is inexplicably called a "tall" and we sat in the back corner, just long enough for me to get a feel for how the vibe in the place is. The tea tasted exactly like the kind I got at Borders' coffee shop (I'd heard Starbucks owned it, but wasn't sure) and they have way too many things like scones and cookies for sale, but it feels like a place to write.

This makes Max happy, as I have not made the progress on his book that he feels I should have, but he'll be bummed to find out that not only do they not serve crunchy treats, they don't serve cats.

He'll be whining about speciism, I'm sure.

I'll give it a whirl tomorrow morning, see if my muse follows me. If not...they have free wi-fi, I can find something to do.


13 October 2012

It’s not substitute for Borders, but at least once a week I find myself heading to McDonald’s with my laptop in an attempt to get a few pages of work done. Sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it’s busy as hell, but it’s usually a control kind of chaos that usually works for me.

Once in a while the chaos comes in the form of busloads of kids swarming the place—it’s located conveniently off I-80 and this McD’s has no issue with a couple hundred people coming in to use the restroom and to refill water bottles (this happened last week; I was a little amazed but not really surprised)—and the noise levels are just too high to concentrate, but typically I can sit there and write even when the place is crowded.

Usually I eat before I go over there to avoid the fast food temptations, buy a large Diet Coke, and take a table in the back where I’m out of the way, but today I skipped breakfast (unintentionally…time gets away from you when you have to wait an hour after meds before eating anything) and decided a couple of chicken strips would be all right.

Hey, don’t judge me.

Okay, well fine, judge me. It’s still greasy crap and while it tasted fine, I’m paying for it a couple hours later.

Today was one of those The Place Is Packed days. I didn’t have to wait long in line, but there were few tables to choose from and I was just glad I got anything, much less the booth I scored near the restroom. My only other choice was a bigger table near the front, and I wasn’t taking that much space.

A few minutes after I pulled my laptop out and had Max’s manuscript open, a 30-something young woman asked if she could share my table; in just a few minutes the place went to overflowing and the only other apparent open seat was at a table with an elderly gentleman who was trying to hork something out of his sinuses at regular intervals.

Of course I told her of course. She could sit there and eat her lunch while I poked at the keys on the keyboard and munch on a chicken strip. I made sure I had a few napkins between my food and computer, took my sweatshirt off, and was just taking a bite when she noticed my tattoos.

Specifically, my pink ribbon feet.

The usual small talk ensued: what made you want that, why shape the ribbon like feet? I told her about participating in the 3 Day, how after my third I decided I wanted a tattoo, but not the typical pink ribbon, especially since I was not a survivor, I was nothing more than a walker and crew member.

“I’m a survivor.”

Diagnosed at 26, mastectomy, chemo—she underwent the whole works. She also expressed a keen appreciation for those who have no immediate tie to the disease, but still get out there and pound the asphalt step after step, with not much to show for it other than blisters and sore muscles.

The 33% drop in donations to walkers this year, she was aware of. The entire dust-up with Planned Parenthood and the fallout was very familiar to her. The sneers that Komen is a big business without a clear direction to find a cure bothers her as much as does the vitriol on either side of the controversy.

People throw around statistics, she said, as if they matter. People look to the amounts put towards research to find a cure and spit out vindictives about the seemingly small amount, without stepping back to see the bigger picture.

“I am the bigger picture.”

When she was diagnosed, she had no medical insurance. A lump was found during a routine exam—done at Planned Parenthood, because she knew no of other place to obtain basic care—and the wheels were set in motion. She was directed to a place she could get a Komen-funded mammogram, and everything that followed was a blur of this isn’t happening to me layered in fear, agony, vomiting, hair loss, and a very small glimmer of hope.

Komen was with her every step of the way. Uninsured, she was sure she would wind up dying, but the local Komen office found her the care she needed, from the initial terrifying appointments to surgery and chemotherapy. When she couldn’t pay her rent because she couldn’t work, Komen found the money to keep a roof over her head and food on the table.

“Komen kept me alive. That’s the bigger picture. I’m alive.”

On the whole, she said she thinks Komen made a tremendous blunder when they first withdrew the possibility for further funding to Planned Parenthood, and couldn’t win when they reversed the decision. They can’t win because the statistics of where the money people donate goes isn’t painfully obvious to everyone. They can’t win because too many people refuse to look past Planned Parenthood’s statistics and equate any money at all going to them as being available for abortion services, even though that’s far from the truth. They can’t win because people are tired of pinkwashing and are suffering from compassion apathy.

“I wish they’d get over it, because there are things more important than their offended sensibilities.”

And she’s right.

There are things far more important.

Her name is Heather, and she’s alive.