27 July 2013

Instead of real work lately, I've been sketching--badly--a few tattoo ideas. I've had one in my head for at least 10 years, but lacking the skills to draw it out, I've left it simmering in my brain. I knew that once I found the right artist I would be able adequately articulate what I wanted, and the end result would be a kick ass tattoo.

I found the right artist over a year ago but still haven't made a consult appointment; he's in San Francisco and a few times a year heads home to Vancouver to work there, and every time I've thought to make the appointment, he's not here. Well, that and I just haven't asked anyone to make the actual call for me.

While he was in Vancouver the last couple of weeks I picked up a sketch pad and pens, because poorly or not, I like to scribble. The worst thing that could happen? I'd draw a stick figure tiger, crumple the paper up, and then toss it out. I looked at pictures of tigers online, then sat down to sketch out what I'd had in my brain for years.

Go ahead and laugh. I sure as hell did.
After I was done laughing at myself, I decided that was more than enough to take to an artist, and it insured that (unlike my first two tattoos...which I love but they could be so much better) he wouldn't work directly off my drawing. I set it aside and sketched out something else (another tattoo idea, one I want for my parents since they're no longer here to grumble what did you do??? I'm not 100% sure but I don't think they liked my ink...) and while I drew, a little voice in the back of my head told me to get back online and look at tigers again, but change the search term from just "tiger" to "tiger sitting."

Lo and behold.

I'm taking this as a sign that it's time to get this. Now I just need to bribe the Boy into calling for consult appointments for both of us,* since he knows what he wants for his next one, too.

Funny, but not funny ha-ha, I've known for a long time I wanted a tattoo for my parents, and really did put it off because I doubted it would go over well, but it wasn't until my mom died that the exact image came to me. I've had something abstract in my head; it had to do with cats. I just had to. But everything I'd thought of fell just short of being right.

It's a cliche kind of image for a tattoo and not exactly original, but it's the right one.

Okay, don't laugh at this one. This one makes me weepy.
I couldn't get it right before, because they had to be together.

I don't know what colors I'll go with, but each cat will be a different color. The moon will be the moon, and I'm hoping to get 4 stars in there. 

Exactly 4.


I can hear my mom, though. My butt's not that big!


*Not that I'm hinting or anything...


20 July 2013

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is in two months…I suppose I should start training for it, eh? I’m pretty confident that I could lace up my shoes and walk it right now, but it wouldn’t be pretty and I would be crying by the end. I need to get it in gear, and I need to go face some hills, preferably in San Francisco, where there are interesting things with which to distract myself while plodding along, and where it’s not so fricking hot.

Yeah, the heat and I are not friends anymore. I used to be fine at 85-90, these days when it’s over 72 I’m not exactly comfortable.

But, in the spirit of training, and because I’m a sucker for a medal, I signed up for a virtual half marathon* to benefit the Boston Marathon Victims Relief, but the cool part is that the people who set it up are Doctor Who fans and it’s also intended to honor the 50th anniversary…and the medal is a total Whovian must-have. So my intents are not completely charitable; I want that medal. It’s not a t-shirt, but hey…it’s a shiny. It’s a DOCTOR WHO shiny.

Things lately have had me thinking about my parents a lot—which isn’t surprising—and with that I’ve started looking for other walk events. In October there’s a Light Up The Night walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the American Cancer Society has a virtual walk available; my mom had more than one heart attack and during the time I was dealing with the pituitary tumor she was kicking the shit out of lymphoma, so those are important to me.

It would matter to my mom, too, that I walk against the things that turned the tide of her life. She was thrilled when I participated in my first SGK 3 Day, though I imagine the donning of the pink spandex as I paraded around San Francisco the next year left her a bit perplexed. I’m not sure what she thought about the pink hair, but one some level it probably amused her.

So yeah…I want to do a few walks in her honor.

I just wish it would cool down so training wouldn’t feel like walking through the pits of hell…

*There's also a virtual 5K. You can register for it by checking out their Facebook page and clicking on "About."


19 July 2013

Hey, now, smile! What could be that bad?

If you’re one of those people who walks up to random strangers and says stuff like that, stop it. You might think you’re being friendly or outgoing, but the truth is, you’re being mean. What you might see as an icebreaker or a friendly way to start some small talk with someone is actually a verbal attack.

Random Dude just planted himself near me while he waited for his drink at Starbucks; I’m sitting here working (or pretending to; Facebook and Fark are attracting a lot of my attention) and not engaging in either happy or sad thoughts. I’m just sitting here, minding my own business. For whatever reason, he felt compelled to tell me to not frown; I should smile, life is good!

Well…fark you, Random Dude. This is my face, like it or not. My mouth has a slight natural downturn to it, so no; I’m not always sitting here with a perpetual smile on my face. I’m not sad, I’m not angry; this is what I look like. Insinuating I must be upset is akin to telling me I’ve hit a couple of branches while swinging around the ugly tree.

This isn’t the first time this has happened; off the top of my head I can think of two other times in the last year alone someone has come up to me and told me to smile. Hey, nothing is that bad. When I was younger I used to plaster on a fake smile for the hell of it; now I either shrug or tell them life might be good, but yeah, it can suck sometimes.

Random Guy today, though? Something about him irritated the snot out of me, and without thinking I grumbled, “Yeah, my mom died recently.”

[For the record, I apologize to my weeks-dead mother for using her, but being that she had the same set of her mouth and surely got the same crap once in a while, she’d appreciate it.

Granted, she would suck in a sharp breath and blurt, “You didn’t!” but then she would laugh her asterisk off.]

It caught Random Guy off guard, in any case. His eyes went wide, he mumbled an apology, and couldn’t grab his drink and get out of there fast enough.

So, yeah. Don’t tell someone to smile. Chances are they’re neither unhappy nor sad; it’s just their face. And if they are sad, telling them to smile is discounting their feelings. If they’re not, telling them to smile is discounting their appearance.

Don’t be Random Guy.


14 July 2013

More years ago than I care to count back, I took a business law class; the teacher was engaging and effective, and spent time on things that were less about business and more about general law. I think he was looking for, in his younger students, the few who might be interested in law as a career and who not there to simply fulfill an elective requirement.

He often used news stories to illustrate his points and initiate discussions; I don’t remember what case specifically brought about the topic of someone who seemed obviously guilty to the class being found not guilty, but I do remember two very specific things he had to say about it.

1 – being found not guilty is not the same thing as being declared innocent. The jury has to work with the information and evidence they’ve been given, not the suppositions we tend to insert into the media opinions we’re fed on TV and the newspapers.

2 – one of the cornerstones upon which our judicial system is built is the fundamental belief that it is far better to allow a few guilty men to go free than to imprison one person who is truly innocent.

Those are the things that bubbled up from the depths of my brain yesterday when the guy who killed Trayvon Martin was found not guilty. It doesn’t mean he’s innocent, it just means the prosecution failed to make their case effectively, for whatever reasons. Perhaps they didn’t do well their due diligence. Perhaps they chose the wrong charges to bring against him and trying to wedge manslaughter as a consideration in at pretty much the last minute worked against them. I’m not a lawyer; I don’t even pretend to understand how the particulars work. The end result is that the guy walked.

Forget Florida’s stand-your-ground law; as far as I’m concerned he was culpable the moment he ignored the dispatcher’s order to stay put and wait for the police and he began to follow Martin. The moment he made that decision, he was not standing his ground, but he instead forced a teenager to stand his own, and the kid lost. It doesn’t matter if the teen was up to no good or not; George Zimmerman acted as judge, jury, and executioner.

That’s not standing ones’ ground. That’s being a vigilante.

So hell yeah, *I* think he’s guilty, but I wasn’t on that jury and did not have to make the decision weighted by the evidence presented to me. I don’t have to allow for any measure of reasonable doubt. I think the guy is a racist farkwad and deserves some serious punishment.

But do I think that justice was served?

I do.

Justice isn’t necessarily finding someone guilty who is not innocent; it’s the whole process of due process; it’s allowing for the notion that sometimes you let the bad guy get away, because in the end you don’t want to imprison someone truly innocent.

Zimmerman walked, but he isn’t free. He’ll never be free.


13 July 2013

Okay, so on my way home from Starbucks yesterday, I decided to stop and get my hair cut. I just wanted it cleaned up a little, because the back of the top of my head was a little longer than the front, and it was looking bad. All in all, a quarter of an inch at most would do the trick.

I got the haircut from hell. I went from a nice messy kind of spiked hair to this:

Normally when I get a bad haircut, I figure it'll grow out, no big deal. But this was bad enough that I was horrified. I wore a hat when I went out today and still felt all weird and self conscious.

It wasn't even that the dye job made the cut bad; the choppiness and unevenness made it cringe worthy. So after the Spouse Thingy got up and had food, we went out to the back patio, where Fix Thumper's Hair commenced.

He did this a lot when he was in Saudi...they buzzed each others' hair just because it was a hell of a lot cooler than having any.

Just one tiny hair sticking already feels 1000% better. Once he got that stray hair...well, it's the shortest I've ever gone, but I like it a hell of a lot better.

He may have himself a new summer job.


12 July 2013

I'm sitting in Starbucks--surprise!--and trying very hard to not look up and stare at the women who are sitting just in front of me. They've been talking at a normal volume for quite a while, but in the last five minutes whatever they're discussing has become quite heated. Well, one of them is upset, the other just looks a little annoyed.

It was my idea and she's getting credit!

No, she just corrected a few of the errors.

I didn't ask her to, and she needs to shut the hell up!

I'm not looking, but I imagine spittle is flying as she barks out her hurt feelings. I also imagine bulging eyes and throbbing forehead veins, but that's because I read too much drama type fiction, I think.

The gold, though...there's a little girl, maybe 5 years old, sitting a couple tables over who just leaned toward her mom and whispered quite loudly, "Well now, that behavior is unacceptable."

Biting my tongue, biting my tongue, because that did make me want to laugh.


7 July 2013

It only took a smidge over three weeks, but I got my first real snotty comment about the pink hair today. Sure, people have stared, laughed, pointed, and have been taken aback--and I expect that, because hey, chubby middle aged woman with very pink hair--but I didn't expect the first rude comment to be thrown in my face like a cup of scalding-hot-frak-you.

Guys, I wish I was making this shit up.

As I was leaving Walmart, having purchased the Spouse Thingy's requested bubble wrap and baby oil (speculation as to why he needs them is occurring on Facebook RIGHT NOW! Go join!), an old woman was inching her way through the crosswalk, leaning heavily on a cane. She took one look at me, scowled, and then spit out, "How can you do that to yourself? You should be ashamed."

I actually looked behind me, because really? What the frak?

My intelligent retort? "Whut?"

"You look like a damned fool with that hair and those...tattoos."


"You ruined the skin God gave you and that hair is disgusting."

A flash of the tagline on reddit's tattoo subreddit zipped through my head. My body is a temple and I'm just decorating the walls. I wish I'd said it, but all that came out was, "Yeah, well..."

At this point, I don't even know why I'm still standing there. If she'd been my age, I would have shrugged and walked off, probably with an expletive or two. Truthfully, I haven't outgrown the whole respect your elders thing, and tend to let people that much older than myself off the hook for some of the vile crap that spews forth.

Not sure what I'll do when I'm that old.

"Your. Hair."

"Is none of your business."

And that's when I walked off, because the next words out of my mouth would have been ill-spirited and very she had that cane and I was fairly certain she wouldn't have a problem about whacking me with it. There is no defending yourself against a fragile old woman; even if it's warranted, you wind up looking like the bad guy.

Not that I've ever beaten up an old person...but you know I'm right.

The thing is, a couple years ago that might have really bothered me. Now...sure, she's a bigoted dipwad who has probably just lost the filters that years ago would have kept that opinion teetering on the tip of her tongue as she bit down hard with her front teeth, but it didn't tick me off.

It's almost--almost--funny.

And if my feelings had been hurt, the teenager two minutes later would have totally made up for it. As I loaded the Spouse Thingy's baby oil and bubblewrap into the trunk--keep guessing, you kinky little freaks--a 15-16 year old walked by with her mother and squealed, "OhymygodIloveyourhair!"

As I thanked her, she turned to her mother and said, "You should do that! You would look great!"

Mom muttered about not having the nerve and they continued on. If my brain worked fast enough I think I might have asked them to find the old lady and run her over with a shopping cart, but I suppose it's a good thing I can't think that fast.

Oh, come on. I wouldn't have.

I think.


6 July 2013

My dad would have had a love/hate thing going on today. He was a news and weather junky; the TV was often on the local news, then CNN when cable became mainstream, and he freaking loved the Weather Channel. It was almost unnatural, his joy in all things weather, to the point where I thought he was a bit of a meteorological savant. The man could look outside, watch the way the trees moved in the breeze, note the color of the sky, and tell you what would happen and when.

Seriously; the last time I saw him he looked out the open front door and noted the way the trees across the street were moving and mused that we would be getting rain later that night. His dementia had taken a pretty good hold by then, but that part of him was still there...and damned if the sky didn't open up at 10 p.m., with thunder and lightning and pouring rain.

I don't pretend to be half as smart as he was or have even a sliver of his ability to weigh the things he was seeing on TV and come to logical (and usually correct) conclusions, but I realized today that I really take after him when something big happens. I am glued to the TV, changing channels every now and then, hoping for a fresh perspective and new information.

I want real information; I don't want useless speculation (even though I am aware I fully engage in speculation when talking with people online about what's happening.) I want the points to connect logically, and I want to be able to make sense of it.

The difference between us...I have a breaking point. Where he could immerse himself in the news for hours, I have to disconnect and get away from it all after a while if I can.

When today's news of the Asiana Airlines 777 wrecking on landing in San Francisco hit today, I had been on my way out the door, but stopped and sat back, picked up my laptop to connect with people online and find out new info, and I watched for an hour. When I realized I was talking to the TV--please let people be okay, please let people be okay--I decided I needed to turn it off and go to Starbucks.

Sure, I would still be getting info online while I was there, but I would be distracted by the people around me and the work I was pecking away at.

I snapped this photo from the TV before I left, because...reasons.
I was home a couple of hours later, and went right back to watching news coverage. I expected things to get so much worse, and was relieved when things didn't. No, two people dead isn't great, 100+ injured isn't wonderful...but it could have been so much worse.

 And I'll be honest, there were so many times today when I muttered to myself that I would never fly again. Nope, nope, nope. Granted, I might fly again, but it sure as hell won't be any time soon, and I'll probably have to be drugged out of my gourd to do it.

Next vacation...road trip in the Bug.

Yeah, I don't really know where I'm going with this. Maybe just that the events of today reminded me of my dad, and reminded me of how freaking smart he was.


4 July 2013

I miss my mom.

I don't know where the feeling came from, but it slapped me into my chair tonight, and it hasn't let go. It's not mourning, exactly, but it is sadness and it was abrupt.

All right, maybe I do know where it came from. The phone rang, and while I had no intention of answering it I did go over to see who Caller ID said it was. It was a familiar number, but nothing I'd pick up for; just some spam caller who has been calling, letting it ring twice, and then hanging up.

It's rare that I will actually answer the phone anymore. There are only two people I know for sure I'll have a fair shot at understanding, the Spouse Thingy and the Boy. And understanding them is not a guarantee, but I don't feel bad asking them to repeat over and over.

It doesn't help if the person on the other end speaks louder; it's a frequency issue. You can call me and speak at a volume so high you're on the edge of shouting, but that won't help. Then all I hear is a loud jumble of sounds. And face it, you can only ask someone to repeat themselves a certain number of times before they get frustrated.

Hell, I get frustrated, too.

But...the phone rang and I checked to see who it was, knowing I probably wouldn't answer. Anyone who knows me well enough knows my issues and would only call in a real emergency. I shuffled back to my chair, where I was surfing through FARK, and as I sat down it hit me hard.

I'm never going to talk to my mom on the phone again.

I hadn't talked to her on the phone for over a year before she died, because her age-weakened voice was less than a whisper to me, and I couldn't make heads or tails out of what she was saying. I've felt bad about it but not guilty, because there's not a lot I can do about it. It is what it is, even though what it is kind of sucks.

I don't know if she truly grasped my hearing problems for what they were; she had slipped into early dementia by that last phone call, and while she likely understood, she might not have actually understood, if that makes sense.

I last spoke to her on Christmas Day 2011. It was a shorter call than normal, because we were headed out the door. I intended to call back in a week or two, but by then the ringing in my ears had increased, and phones were more problematic than ever. I had hopes of finding something to fix that, but some things aren't so easily fixed.

I can still her hear voice. I'm not worried that it will fade from my memory; I can still hear my dad's voice and he's been gone since 2010. I think those sounds are hard wired into my brain and the right triggers will always bring them forward. I just hate that my damned hearing robbed me of any chance to add to that audible memory bank, and stripped me of any chance to make her laugh just one more time.

I'm going to squash it down with chocolate ice cream...she would approve, especially knowing I'm lactose intolerant and there will be a price to pay.

But...the damned phone rang tonight, and now I miss my mom.


3 July 2013

Here's the thing... I think it's fairly normal for a person to change their mind about something based on new information, or even the same information presented in a new light. Some people do this quietly, chewing on data as they process it; some people do it loudly, practically shouting in an in-your-face kind of way.

Some take the middle ground; they don't spit it out at volume 11, but they don't hold it in tightly.

I tend towards quiet rumination--by the time I start speaking about some things, like buying a car or selling a bike, I've been pondering it and researching online and whatnot, for a very long time. Other times I plop myself down and write it out without lengthy and deliberate consideration. And then I shove it out into the ether, the Internet, and let people pick it apart or add to it, as they are wont to do.

There's a reason the blog is titled Thumper Thinks Out Loud.

Sometimes I put things out there and then have to take it back, more or less. Sometimes what I put out there is my knee-jerk reaction, and I'm wrong. Sometimes I'm right, but not 100% right. I still write about it and hit 'publish' and whatever happens, happens.

If you Google "think out loud" you get this...
 That's what's happened with Komen over the last year and a half, and it might happen again. I get irritated with some of what the organization does at the national level, and write about it. They take steps to remedy the screw ups, and I have to acknowledge that. I declare myself done because I'm annoyed, but then I get to see things in a different light and I'm not quite done after all.

It's one of the things I think out loud about, because it matters to me. The people matter to me; those who have lost loved ones, those who are fighting for others while undergoing treatment for themselves, those who have benefited from and those who will need help from Komen. No, I don't think I'll ever be 100% content with them...I'm not sure anyone ever should be, not with any big organization. There has to be a balancing of the scales, the good they do versus the stupid--in any charity.

Thinking out loud helps keep me sane.

These suckers hurt my feet.
Call it a flip flop if you need to; I get it. I accept it.

I'm not sure I would understand either side if I'd never walked the walk and then worked the crew. It provides a whole different perspective.

In a little over two and a half months, I'm walking again, but this time for Avon. I want to see how different it is, how alike it is. I want to see how it feels. And face it, with Komen pulling the San Francisco walk from their itinerary for the foreseeable future (they'll bring it back some day, I'm sure...and yes, I'll be there on the crew) Avon is the most convenient option for me.

But who knows? I may change my mind about that, too, once I experience it for myself.

As long as I get a t-shirt out of it, it won't be horrible. If there's no shirt, well, expect public whining. And then expect me to take it back.

It's what I do, right?

Hypocritical, flip-flopping; you can call it anything you want. But truly, I'm just thinking, and letting whomever wants to see it take a look.