30 June 2013

Bullet Abuse 3,289,122

  • According to one commenter, I am a "hypocriticle fucktard." It's always nice to have ones' efforts noted. AND to have ones' almost-favorite slur used. Though I generally change it to fark, because, why not?

  • It is hot as fark out there, and I willingly went outside. I do not know why. But I do know that days like today make me think a car with a black leather interior was not the greatest of ideas.

  • The heat is supposed to continue through the week, and get worse. We'd considered driving into San Francisco and enjoying the much cooler temps there, but there's a BART strike planned, which means traffic and parking shortages. The nice part of me doesn't want to take a parking space from someone else who really needs it because of the strike, but the bigger part just doesn't want to mess with the traffic.

  • Got to Starbucks this afternoon, and the line was surprisingly long for such a hot day. Within a minute some old lady looked up at me and declared my hair to be funny--I ageed--and very odd. I couldn't exactly dispute that, and she wasn't mean about it, just kind of curious (though I also offered no explanation.) A couple of minutes later a much younger woman approached and asked--no trepidation, either--if I was gay. When I said, "No, I'm not," she was actually disappointed because, "my mom would really dig you."

  • Yes, I was flattered.

  • I sat down and realized my mom has been gone for a little over a month. While I don't tend towards weepy displays, it did dig at me a little. I still really hate the idea of a world without her in it.

  • It's been a hard month, really. From the time she died to now, a couple friends have passed, and the much beloved Skeezix bounded off to the Bridge. I would like it if people would stop dying now. And cats. It hurts when they go, too, especially when they go so young.

  • No, I am not elevating a cat to the same level as a person. While I might refer to Max and Buddah as "my babies" they are not equal to my son. 

  • Man, I really hate it when I get up to use the restroom and someone takes my table. My table! Mine!

  • Honey, if every third word you speak is, "like" I am going to think unkind things as you speak and not be able to focus on what you're actually talking about. And I really hope I don't have a similar verbal tick like that I just don't notice.

  • No, bud, the tattoos didn't hurt. They went on like kitty kisses, but without the fishy breath.

  • OHMYGOD YOU CAN SEE A LITTLE BIT OF MY BRA! Better go wash your eyes before you go blind, dood.

  • I really don't think people realize how their voices carry in here.

  • Okay, guy to the right of me sneezing every other minute. Lady to the left coughing. I think I may take this as a clue to go home where the only cooties are family cooties.

  • After I go to the store. I suspect the Spouse Thingy will want to eat dinner tonight.

  • But ugh. It's already over 100 out there. =sob=


28 June 2013


This is NOT good top-down driving weather. Dangit. This is stay home and work weather.


Could be worse, though, it could also be humid. That would probably kill me, and I'm only partly kidding about that...


24 June 2013

The thing about having a knee jerk reaction to something is that if you jerk hard enough, you can kick yourself smack in the boobs and it stings enough that you just don’t think straight. It stings enough that you can’t really think straight and can’t really give a coherent answer when someone asks if you’re all right; if you can speak at all you cough out another jerk-like reaction and sputter, “I’m fine” even if you’re not.

That’s been pretty much my whole Komen thing over the last three weeks ago. Earlier in the month I was done with Komen, and if not for how close we were to the 3 Day event and not wanting to hose DKM, I would have bailed on it entirely.

I am so glad I didn’t.

A lot of that is selfishness, but a good part of it is seeing the event without a veil of upset clouding my sight. Like last year, I had a great time. It was long days of doing a lot on little sleep, but I had a blast. I got to be a little stupid and a lot goofy; I sang and danced and shook water and Gatorade jugs at walkers, I drove a lot and didn’t run anyone over, and I saw a lot of raw emotion.

I saw the bigger picture.

The bigger picture of the 3 Day isn’t Komen as a whole. It’s not Nancy Brinker and her outrageous pay raise; it’s not the whole Planned Parenthood fiasco. It’s not my possibly pretentious indignation over events that are far too easy to politicize and misunderstand. It has nothing to do with me or my feelings.

The bigger picture started to lose its fuzziness with every stop we made to pick up a walker needing to get to the next pit stop. It began to come into focus while we stood at the entry to Land’s End to remind the walkers there was no sweep access for the next 1.2 miles and that they had a giant staircase to ascend, as I danced like a rhythm impaired drunk and shook jugs filled with water and Gatorade for those who might not have enough to drink as they went onto the trail. I could really see it as we drove the van around town, trailing the caboose—a staff member who rides a bicycle, following the last walker, making sure they’re safe and that the route doesn’t close before they’re done—and seeing her gut out the tough hills and slow pace, without complaining and even hinting that it was an issue or even “just” her job.

Komen has problems; Komen knows it has problems. I really don’t like some of the things that have happened over the last couple of years and how those have been handled. I really don’t like some of that I’ve been hearing from people working closer to the inside than I’ll ever get. But those things really are just a handful of pixels in a fairly high-def image.

The 3 Day Walk isn’t about Komen; it’s about all the women and men to whom the fight matters. It’s about the agony of loss and hope of ending that pain.

It’s about doing.

Look, we’ve all lost someone to disease; heart disease, stroke, accidents, and cancer. We all know how helpless losing someone can make a person feel, and how being able to save someone else from that fate would take a bit of the sting away.

I’m guessing that not many of the people whose feet hit the pavement this weekend are in the position to actually find a cure for breast cancer, but all of them needed to do something about it, contribute in any way they could. And I’m pretty sure that all of them understood that not 100% of the money they raised goes directly into the research that will, someday, find that cure. Knowing that didn’t keep them from walking the 500+ training miles in preparation to tackle this walk, and it didn’t keep them from lacing up their shoes every very cold morning in the San Francisco Bay area and heading out to walk on often horrible pavement and gravel-covered trails. The pain and overwhelming emotions that can come with a 3 Day walk didn’t stop anyone. We saw more than one person limping along in obvious pain but they wouldn’t stop to take a sweep van, and we witnessed more than one struggling with tears and losing that fight as they pushed on.

This walk matters to these people. It matters more than the mistakes and more than the politics.

It’s very easy to sit back and criticize and complain, and to mutter things about finding a cure and how this should be done and that should be stopped and why the hell hasn’t a cure been found already, but it’s not so easy to DO something about it.

So, yeah…only twenty days ago I was done with Komen.

Now, perhaps not so much. I’m bummed that so many cities had to be cut for next year. I honestly understand why they needed to drop so many and I understand why San Francisco had to be one of them (it is seriously expensive to host a walk in SF.) I don’t like how they’ve conducted business over the last couple of years, but I have high hopes that with the new CEO at the helm, things will change.

Flip flop much, Thump?


Or maybe it just became clear that I can have serious issues with Komen but still support the cause, and support the people to whom that cause really matters.

Those people are the bigger picture.

Besides, where else can I dance with Hookers and paramedics while belting out Bohemian Rhapsody?

I feel bad that this was the last 3 Day in SF for the foreseeable future, and mostly I feel bad for all the participants, and how much it likely hurts them that their outlet, the biggest way they could make a difference, is no more.


16 June 2013

I’ve been sitting in Starbucks for about an hour, working (imagine that!) on Max’s mousebreath! column for tomorrow. There have been far more kids in here than usual, almost all of them shuffling behind their dads; their dads all have the same look: is this day over yet? Will a giant cup of caffeine make it better?

The kids all look excited as hell. The dads…very, very tired.

It amuses me.

Sitting next to me for a while, though, was a couple without kids in tow. They were very solemn, and it was apparent from the get-go that their father has passed away, and they’re struggling with it.

Today sucks for them.

There was talk of going to the cemetery and seeing him, putting flowers down, and saying a few things to him. There was also an undertone of guilt because it seemed like neither one really wanted to go there. They were trying to figure out a way around it, wondering if not going made them bad kids for skipping a visit on Father’s Day.

They didn’t ask me; I’m sure they weren’t even thinking about the idea that even though I was sitting here typing away, I could hear and take in their conversation. But had they asked?

No. You’re not bad kids for not wanting to visit your father’s grave. It doesn’t matter that today is Father’s Day or not. You are not horrible, awful, or any of the other adjectives that are threading through your brains.

Maybe it’s because my brain is wired differently that others’ brains are, but I have never visited a grave post-funeral. It’s not that I’m opposed to it; I just don’t see a point.

I don’t need to visit a grave to have a conversation with the now-gone person I care about. They’re not there. What remains is only the container; the soul I loved is wherever souls go: heaven or the ether or a whisper in the wind around me, but they’re not in that grave.

On the other hand, if visiting someone’s grave is important to you, I do see the point. I grasp that some people need a place to visit, where they have something tangible to see and a focal point to talk to. I understand that decorating a gravesite means something, and to not do it feels like a mistake.

I’m just not that person. And I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for not being that person and not wanting to go.

Even on Father’s Day.

There’s nothing magical about Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. It’s not as if I will miss my dad any more today than I do any other day. And the truth is that if I were in Texas where he is buried, I wouldn’t be visiting his grave, not unless my sisters wanted to and wanted me with them.

It would be for them. Not for me. Not for my father.

I imagine I’ll feel the same way on Mother’s Day. I’ll miss my mom…but not quantitatively more than I miss her on any other day.

I miss them every day.

I hate the idea of their not existing in this world. I hate that they didn’t get as many years as I wished for them, or that all the years they did have were not as kind to them as they deserved. I hate everything about dying and feel a bit robbed on their behalf. I was supposed to be an old, old woman before they died.

But…I can talk to them anywhere I happen to be. I can create a visit with them in my own home, on Ocean Beach or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in the middle of staring at incredible works of art in a museum, or hell, even here in Starbucks.

When I get to NY someday and go to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night in the MOMA, you can bet I’ll be carrying them with me.

A grave is not necessary for the communion of sharing with the dead. No one should feel guilty for not wanting to visit the grave of someone they loved. No one should feel weird or awkward because they want and need to, either.

Remember the people you loved on your own terms. That’s all that matters, as long as you remember them.


15 June 2013

Hard at work at the 'Bux
Next weekend is the 3 Day, and in spite of my current Komen reservations, I'm starting to get excited about it. It means hanging with DKM for 4 days, decorating the van stupid-fun, and meeting a bunch of walkers.

It also means it's time for the dying of the hair, even though I didn't have to fundraise for this one. I like the pink hair, so why the hell not?

And with the dying of the hair comes the inevitable comments from other people. So today I bring you:

Chit I Overheard At Starbucks.

In the parking lot:

Young teenaged boy: Ah, man. I want to do that.
Presumed Dad: Dye your hair pink?
YTB: Yeah. Why not?
PD: Kind of girly.
YTB: Naw. I like the car, too.
PD: Kind of girly.
YTB: I'd get a sex change for that car.
PD: Fine, dye your hair.
They followed me inside...kid was practically bouncing on his toes.

After I ordered:

Lady I don't recognize: Oh, thank God. You don't look right with normal hair.

While I sat at my table:

PD: Yes, I was serious, you can dye your hair.
YTB: I'll do it, you know.
PD: I know.
YTB: pauses You don't think I'm gay, right?
PD: I couldn't care less if you were.
YTB was speechless to that; I had to actually grit my teeth to keep from squealing.

While I surfed Facebook instead of working:

Very young girl, maybe 5 years old: I didn't know old people were allowed to have pink hair!

Not one mean comment so far... I expect them, because a lot of people just don't get it. Or they're simply total douchebags. But so far, so good.

And I hope there's not a law about it....

Time to head home before I anyone calls the cops. Just in case.



10 June 2013

The first step in letting go of the motorcycle:

It was more than preemptively replacing the bike, though. It was also more than the fact that the HHR steering wheel kills my hands and the seat in the Hyundai kills my back. It was even a little more than just I want.

For years, my mom wanted a Cadillac. For years, she didn't get one. My dad wanted a Blazer--I'm guessing because he needed a solid daily driver while also having the power to pull the boat he also had to have--so she settled for a much less expensive Oldsmobile, and even that was a concession to the fact that I was driving and taking over the Mustang inherited from my grandfather.

(Let's not dwell on the fact that 3 weeks after she got that Olds, I was driving it when someone plowed through a red light and hit it. So she wound up with a brand new car with front end damage. And to her credit and my dad's, the only thing they cared about was that I was all right.)

Later, my dad got (if I remember correctly) another Blazer. I wasn't living with them by then, so my memory is fuzzy, but it was still many years before she got that Cadillac.

By the time she got it, she was old. The kind of old where your reflexes stutter, and the kid of old where dementia creeping in makes driving a very bad idea. All those years she wanted her dream car, all those years she waited, and she didn't get to drive it for very long.

I don't need two dream vehicles; the Bonneville is the dream bike, but I have my issues with riding now. The dream car...yeah, this is it, I think. I can let go of the bike and never really look back with the dream car in the driveway.

Life's far too short to risk waiting too terribly long.

So in other news, this is for sale:

You want it, you know you do ;)


9 June 2013

This is long, it’s whiny, and it’s self-serving, so…you’ve been warned.

The amount of work I’ve gotten done over the last week amounts to zero words written, other than stuff on Facebook, and that doesn’t exactly count as work. Max’s book has come to a screeching halt, because every time I sit down and try to write, everything else starts clamoring for active space in my brain, and I can’t hear his voice.

Odd as it sounds, that’s how I write for him. I listen for that voice, the exasperated, snark-laden, sometimes compassionate but often bemused Max-voice. He’s just been very quiet this last week, and I’m not sure if it’s apathy or sympathy.

I suspect it’s because there are 1001 things that want to slip from my brain to my fingertips, and most of them are either boring, self-serving, unimportant, or unkind.

That last one, I try to avoid that more than the others.

A couple of evenings ago, I mentioned to a friend that I couldn’t seem to get started again; I have, somewhere in the back of my brain, most of the things that will eventually comprise Max’s next book, but I can’t reach them. Whatever is in the way refuses to move; it’s allowing for quite a bit of clutter to swirl around it, but it won’t get out of the way.

Grief does that, she stated simply. You wrote eloquently after your father-in-law and then when your father died. Maybe you need to sit down and write about your mother.

I’ve tried. But like I’ve said before, ours was a complicated relationship, and there’s no easy way to separate the good from the bad, or the pain from the joy.

I know. Sometimes it really is about the cookies, isn’t it?

And with that, she nailed it on the head.

I’m choking on cookies from when I was eight years old.

Look, I know we all screw up our kids. It’s a part of parenting; there’s no required class to take before you bring offspring into the world, no test to pass, no license to assure that you get it right. We’re all kind of floundering around, testing out our personal parental theories on the kids we spawn. We’re often wrong, sometimes horrifically wrong.

I cringe at some of the scars I likely left on my son. I don’t know any parent who doesn’t have a psychological trunk-load of mistakes, at least not parents who are honest with themselves. There are far too many instances of words I would like to take back, reactions I wish I hadn’t had, and stupid things I did.

For every one of them, I am a kind of sorry that there really are no words for.

I was filled with a lot of anger in my early 20s, anger that seeped into my 30s. I don’t think I realized it until the Boy was pushing 10 or so, and I don’t think I got a good grasp on it until he was a teenager; I don’t think I was really able to pinpoint where it came from until he was nearly grown, when I was trying to construct some simmering anger and uncertainty in a character I was writing for.

After one line in a book, where one character asks a specific question of another, and the answer that he responded with was not the answer I originally intended but one that burst out of me like a spent bubble, far too many pieces of my very own puzzle of angst fell into place.

When I wrote It’s Not About the Cookies part of my intention was to exorcise some of my own demons. Weaved into the fiction of that book is an incredible amount of truth; some of it is exaggerated, but much of it is not. My mother hated that book, and I understand why. What was supposed to be somewhat cathartic for me was pretty much like having her face shoved into a giant pile of Thumper-colored truths. As exaggerated as the realities spread through that book were, she recognized the kernels of truth, and hated them and hated that I would display them for public consumption. She was more than a little unhappy that anyone reading the book would think it was 100% true, and thought it painted her in an unfavorable light.

No matter how many assurances that 1) people are able to understand that there is always truth in fiction, but in the end it’s still fiction and 2) at least half the people who have read it hated it, too, and didn’t believe it was anything but a giant whine-fest with no truth to it, I don’t think she ever really forgave me for that book.

I’m all right with that. My intention was never to shove deep into her heart any daggers of my own insecurities and anger, but the facts woven into the fiction were undeniable. If she had been able to admit to any of it, she would have acknowledged that I barely covered the bases; if she had been able to see how big the little things really were, it might have made a difference, but I suspect her disappointment in the mere idea that I would publish anything at all like that clouded her vision.

Oh, hell yes, I am responsible for how that book made her feel. I don’t deny it. But I have to be all right with it, because in the end I wrote that book for myself. I’d hoped it would help me work through some of the issues I have.

It didn’t.

If anything, it’s created more gristle for me to chew on, tasting things I’ve never been able to swallow. It pulled open in my head doors that I had shut, and pushed forward memories I wanted to keep boxed and taped closed. And when that happens, when the scars you have are throbbing, it’s hard to feel anything that was good.

So yes, my relationship with her was complicated; I want to write about the myriad of good that made up most of my childhood and teen years, but I haven’t been able to see past the scars in a very long time. There are still things that echo in my brain that I can’t get rid of; words that were probably never meant to sting but instead left knife-like wounds, and off-hand comments made that later elicited firm denials but are carved into my deepest sense of self.

And all of that, everything I’ve written to this point…that’s my baggage. It’s the detritus that’s kept me from being able to really write about my mother.

I can tell you this: I know, without a doubt, that she loved me. She didn’t like me—and no, I don’t need anyone to tell me that she did, because I’ve heard the truth right from the source—but she did love me. And I know that more than half of the things said to me through my childhood and teen years were only symptoms of her own unhappiness, and she either didn’t realize how much of that she was pouring onto her kids or just didn’t see it.

I honestly think she didn’t know that a lot of what she did wrong was wrong, and I suspect that she would have taken it back if she had.

The legacy she left was rich. In spite of everything, she sent out into the world some pretty terrific kids. My sisters are people with whom I would choose to be friends even if I hadn’t been raised with them. We’re all vastly different people, but in good ways.

My sisters have raised kids who are everything a parent wants; I raised a son who is a good man, and he’s exceptional in spite of my own parental shortcomings. I think we were able to do that because we had an idea of what not to do, but more than that, we were able to raise such wonderful people because we all knew that no matter what, we were always, always loved.

I suspect that I will write more about it all later, while I work through it. Just know that in spite of how this all sounds, I know my issues are my own; I know she loved me, and I truly, deeply, loved her.


5 June 2013

We're pretty fortunate in that we have a 3 car garage. Now, no cars have actually lived in the nice 3 car garage, but we have the square footage that was intended for automobile storage.

Nope...the 1-car slot has been the Spouse Thingy's woodshop, and the 2-car slot has been where we've kept the bikes and assorted toys. But we're getting ambitious soon and are switching things around, so that he has the larger area for his shop, and the bikes will go into the single car slot...and if we sell them, which we're still pondering, the convertible I am determined to get will go in there.

The problem with fitting a car into that slot has been this weirdly configured water treatment container that we've never used, but that jutted out in a way that made the space useless for a car. The Spouse Thingy removed one of the tanks when we moved in, but because pipes and such ran into the second tank, we've left it alone.

Today he decided to finally take that tank down, after finding the valve that diverts our water past it.

It's not a little thing...maybe 4 feet tall and loaded with water, it was pretty heavy, so he set it on the ground with the idea of tipping it up and draining it.

What came out was not pretty.

And we realized that our water has been running through this tank.

Through this sludge.

It's kind of gross. Okay, it's a lot gross. And it explains why our water has always tasted funny and needed to be filtered. And possibly why cleaning the shower stall and tub has been damn near impossible.'s out and next week the Spouse Thingy can get the stuff to cap the pipes.

More a car will fit in there.

A nice, shiny, little convertible...


4 June 2013

With one email from Susan G. Komen to the 3 Day walkers and crew, Facebook and Twitter blew up yesterday. People were upset, people were angry, surprised, felt betrayed...and some just didn't care because they expected the delivered news sooner or later.

2013, last year for San Francisco...
Next year they're cutting half of the 3 Day events, trimming from 14 cities to 7, and San Francisco is among the cities being dropped.

I'd already decided I wasn't walking for Komen again, but I would crew and am on the sweep team again this year. But truthfully, if not for how close we are to the event--just a couple weeks away--and not hosing DKM, I would bail on it this year.

This isn't just a "oh they're betraying us" thing. I can understand the reasoning behind the cuts. Fundraising and participation last year was down 30% across the board, and this year looks to be worse. Hosting those walks is expensive, and at some point the expense benefit is gone. There's no point in having a walk in a city where money is lost.

But...Komen did this to itself. I don't care what excuses people cough up, it can all be traced back to the Planned Parenthood muckup. They lost far too many walkers because of it, and those who stayed had a hard time raising the minimum funds.

My issues with Komen are starting to run deeper. I have an online friend who works for a Komen affiliate, and the crap she and her co-workers are going through, the unreasonable demands the national organization are making on them--I can't give details without risking libel issues, but suffice to say it involves money and "reputation"--is all enough to sour me on what was a wonderful thing. I'm just done with them.

I will always support my friends who continue to walk for Komen; I understand why they do. But I think in the future my efforts will be spent on Avon.