29 December 2013

I’m not sure how much walking I’ll be doing this year; I’m not sure yet if I’ll do a major breast cancer event in 2014 or not (the Pinks Slips, with whom I walked in Atlanta a couple years ago, are walking in San Diego…whether I walk or not I’m going down there. I could be a walker stalker for them) and I won’t be driving a sweep van for the Komen walk since they dropped SF from the schedule.

Still…I’ll be doing something. I’m looking for 5 and 10k events that can be walked and not run, and I’ve got my eye on a few virtual events for which I can set my own date and pace. I need to do things; I’m just not sure I have in me what I need to complete the necessary training for 60 miles. Not right now.

2013 was supposed to be the year of getting better, getting fit, feeling human…but it didn’t work out that way. So 2014 is in my sights; but rather than set these huge goals—knowing that at any time my own body might slap the shit out of me for presuming too much—I’m going to set smaller, attainable goals.

Cook more real food.

Ok, LEARN to cook more real food.

Move more.

Expand the things to which I hope to contribute more.

First up, at least the first thing I have committed to is the St. Baldrick’s Head Shaving Event. It raises money for research into children’s cancer; the premise is simple: I get donors, I show up, I get my head shaved in the middle of a very crowded mall. I’ve set a modest goal of $500, but y’all know me. I’ll do things for money.

Embarrassing things.

My initial offering: the first person to donate $100 or more gets to choose the neon hair color I’ll done for 3-4 weeks ahead of the event. Want to see me in purple? Green? Blue? I’ll do it…people around here expect pink from me and they’ll lose their shit over something a little more out there.

So go ahead. Make me uncomfortable for a few weeks.

Got another idea? Ask and chances are I’ll do it. I don’t mind performing pony tricks for donations.

Just want to donate a few bucks for something important and get me to shave the noggin as a result? I’m down with that, too.

No amount is too small, and DKM is going to tag along with me and take pictures.

As Max would say: it's for the Sticky People, people!


28 December 2013

As I wandered around the grocery store today, there was a woman pretty much following me as she shopped. She had sitting in her cart a little boy about 18 months-2 years old, wearing a drool soaked t-shirt, nostrils rimmed with all the wonderful things little boy nostrils get rimmed with, and he was squealing with delight.  He was adorable, truly. Happy, engaged, making everyone smile and wave their fingers at him...he was sweet and Mom beamed every time someone smiled at him and said hello, me included.

Delightful little kid...and I was so glad I was only going to be around him for a little while.

I just don't like being around little ones the way I used to. Small doses of toddlerhood is all I can take; after a while those high pitched little voices just grate on my nerves, and the volume at which little kids live turns into bomb-blasting thunder in my head.

When I was a teenager I couldn't fathom why so many older adults didn't like kids; I get it now. I don't dislike kids, but I'm sure as hell glad that mine is an adult now. If he ever has kids I'm sure I'll feel different about them...but for the most part, no, I don't want to hang with your sub-5 year old offspring.

Well, that's mean of you, Thump.

Yeah, maybe it is. But it is what it is and I'm not exactly motivated to change it.

I know its roots: too much time spent working drop-in daycare, watching other peoples' kids while thy worked out in the gym, putting up with their attitudes about their precious snowflakes--the biters, the kickers, the screamers--and the tens of thousands of diapers I changed. I think I chewed way too far into my personal allotment of patience for and enjoyment of little kids long before the Boy was much more than a toddler himself, and by the time he was grown, and we'd moved away from the neighborhood kids in Ohio, I was done.

The kids in OH...they were awesome. They were fun, I loved sitting outside watching them play, but they were probably at the tail end of my solid enjoyment of little ones. I'm glad that we had that time in OH and got to enjoy them...if we were in the same circumstances now, I'd probably be that grumpy old neighbor they run from.

Hell, they're in high school and junior high now; it's been a while.

I'm okay with not wanting to hang with the wee ones anymore. Other people...they don't get it. They tend towards a degree of upset because their kids are awesome.

Well, yeah, they are.  But that doesn't mean I have the patience for much of their awesomeness. How awesome there are isn't an indicator that they'll be different and I'll want to spend oodles of time with them.

Hell, I might be willing to bleed dry for your kid. Rip heads off to defend your kid. Beat the snot out of someone to protect your kid.

That's not the same as hanging with your kid.

It sounds personal, but it's not.

There's an indie publishing workshop coming up, being held in a venue where bringing ones' children is entirely appropriate. It's invitation only, and on the surface sounds like it will be informative, connections will be made, and it will be an incredible use of time and effort. But...I know there are writers and publishers planning on being there with their kids, and after the days' presentations they want to head out and have some fun.

As a group.

For three days.

Kill me now.


22 December 2013

I've emailed you four times and you just ignore it; what have I done to offend you?

That's paraphrasing, but it's a theme in the last year or so. Someone emails, I don't respond, they email again...feelings get hurt.

I'm not intentionally ignoring anyone; I get anywhere between 200-350 emails a day and I try to wade through them as best I can, but some fall through the cracks, some get shuffled into my spam folder and I don't check that as often as I should, some I tell myself I'll answer after I get to business email...some I have no idea what happened.

But I truly am not intentionally ignoring you, if you're someone who has emailed and expected a response.

If you are someone I've failed to respond to, I am truly sorry. You haven't offended me; I'm simply not as organized as I should be. I could use the excuse that I'm juggling my work, Max's work, the writers I work with, networking and marketing, but the truth is I'm often inattentive and I just lose track.

I am sorry, though; genuinely sorry.

2014 I will endeavor to do better, but I won't promise, because I am easily distracted by shiny things, and life has a lot of shiny things to show me.


18 December 2013

This guy

has dozens of different meows, and one of them sounds almost like "Yeah." Sort of a Mmyeah sound.

It makes for fun conversations with him sometimes, usually when it's time for food and he's working hard to get me to get up and open a can.

"Are you a hungry boy?"


"Do you want me to feed you?"


Tonight he started in on me early, about 45 minutes before snack time. It was non-stop whining, and I did my best to tune him out, not even acknowledge him, lest I encourage him to jack up the volume.

At about 9:55, five minutes before snack, he jumped up onto the back of my chair and stretched out...and finally shut up.

At 9:59 I told him it was time for snack, but he sure as hell had been awfully bitchy about it. And then I asked, "Are you a little bitch?"


At least he's honest. I kind of had to feed him after that. 


11 December 2013

Remember this?

It was my awesome (shuddup) first sketch of the tattoo I wanted to get in remembrance of my parents.

Then it became this:

and it morphed a couple more times, until I had a scribbled-out sketch of 2 cats that looked less like chipmunks, sitting under a tree, in front of the moon.

I took it to Big Greg, who did not laugh at my artistic endeavors.

He knew what I wanted from it: lots of color, and two cats, one leaning into the other; my parents were cat people, it made sense to represent them that way.

He had his own ideas, which sounded good because hey, he knows what works on the skin and how well certain things mesh together. HE said he'd come up with something kick-ass for me, and today was the day.

It was kick-ass, all right.

It blew me away, and that was before I saw the color.

He had an idea of two cats in the tree, a tree in full foliage, springing forth from a book...the story of their lives. And they're gazing into the sunset, together, where they should be.

He captured exactly what I hoped for.

It's on my left arm to the side of my bicep, near my tattoos for The Spouse Thingy's dad and mom.

My folks might not have liked tattoos, but I think they would appreciate this one, and how beautiful it turned out.

I couldn't be happier with it.

And no, I'm not done. There are more tattoos in my future, as I embark upon becoming the kind of person my mother was afraid of ;)


9 December 2013

The Spouse Thingy wanted a big tree. I wanted a small tree.

He wanted a nicely decorated big tree. I wanted a geeky Doctor Who themed tree.

We both got what we wanted.

I have my little tree that fits near the fireplace, decked out in Daleks, Cybermen heads, K-9s, and the TARDISes. At the very top is the 11th Doctor's sonic screwdriver. And around the fireplace and over the archway are lots of little TARDIS lights.

Merry Whovimas.

The tree in the front room--placed in front of the window so that it shows outside--is loaded with traditional ornaments and has a nice, soft, thick felt skirt. It's nine feet tall, the tallest I think we've ever had. The tree skirt is mostly for the cats, because in years past they've loved napping under the tree...which means that so far this year, there's been zero cat napping there.

But you notice, don't you, that I've only referred to them as trees. No adjective attached. Just trees.

Why? Because I can't fathom why anyone cares what I call my trees. And I can't fathom the annual outrage about what people "should" call their trees and how we should greet people this time of year.

"But it's Christmas!"


"They're CHRISTMAS trees!"

Not really. The bringing inside of a tree and calling it a Christmas tree is a relatively new concept, starting somewhere around the 16th century. Pagans used trees for holiday rituals long before Christians co-opted them. I don't seen an uprising of Pagans over this; they're trees, why the heck shouldn't we all enjoy them?

(aside: if you're looking to the Bible, take a peek at Jeremiah 10:2-4, wherein it pretty much says that heathens are the ones who cut down trees, drag 'em inside, and decorate them with shiny things.)

I've known a few Jewish people over the years who have used decorated trees in their house to celebrate that time period from Thanksgiving to New Year's...for the holidays. Should they not be allowed?

Now, the tree in our front room is a Christmas tree. Because that's what we celebrate.

The tree in the living room? That's a Whovimas tree, because that's just cool--the Doctor Who Christmas Special will play on the 25th, and you can be sure we're going to watch it.

I don't care what my neighbors call their trees, if they have them.

I don't care what you call your tree, even if you call it George. (If you have a "real" tree, you can ask everyone in the house, "Hey, did you water George today? Anyone feed George?" New holiday fun for the family...the running, groaner of a dad-joke.)

I also don't care if you say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, or Have a Nice Day. Not as long as you're nice about it.

My feelings might be hurt if you tell me to shove that Merry Christmas up my asterisk, but maybe not. Depends on how annoying I've been.

I'm not 8 years old; I'm not easily offended; I'm not walking around with a giant Christmas stick up my ass. I understand that a whole bunch of things a whole bunch of people try to claim as Christian have roots elsewhere. I'm not going to pretend that it really matters what you call your tree or how you greet people right now.

Because it really doesn't matter.

Oh, and if you're having a stroke about it because THIS IS CHRISTMAS, go hang a beautiful wreath on your door to compliment your tree. And know that the roots of that wreath are Wiccan.

Happy Holidays.



30 November 2013

Yesterday it seemed like the Intertoobs were all a-twitter over some reality show producer who live-tweeted someone else’s meltdown on an airplane he was suck in. And the general consensus iseems to be that the guy, Eli Langer, is some sort of heroic figure and damned funny to boot, having put that person in her place.

I enjoy reading Teh Funny, so I followed the link everyone was sharing and prepared to laugh my ass off.

I didn’t.

I didn’t even chuckle.

Instead, I spent some time trying to figure out what was so amusing about a guy taking to Twitter in order to show what a giant douche he can be. Because in the end, that’s all I saw. Someone who finds joy in picking on other people.

That’s what he did, folks. He wasn’t some champion of the Airplane Oppressed. He acted like a prepubescent troll, and offered it up live for mass consumption. And for God knows what reason, people found it funny.

Here’s the link [clicky here]. Go take a look. Laugh if you want to, but then really soak in what you’re reading.

The first few tweets are, I admit, a little interesting. They’re just over the top enough to wonder if he’s making it all up, but real enough to not care. Some woman is having a meltdown; all she wants is to get to her family for Thanksgiving, the flight is delayed, and she’s obviously a dozen kinds of upset and taking it out on the crew and everyone around her.

I was on his side (but not finding it funny) right up until the picture of the wine and first note he sent her. After that…you’re a jerk, mister. You had the chance to be nice, be the better person, to offer her the wine and a note that, while sympathetic, also let her know that enough was enough.

You can do stuff like that with kindness, you know. Instead he told her “Hopefully if you drink it, you won’t be able to use your mouth to talk.”

Real classy there.

He follows it up with two bottles of vodka. Sure, it pisses her off, and he thinks that’s just fine and dandy. She sends him a note telling him what she thinks, and for him, “this means war.”

And this is wear we learn a little bit about the woman. Her name is Diane, and she’s wearing a medical mask over her “idiot face.”

The medical mask wasn’t a clue? Like perhaps she’s got more crap going on than the stress of holiday travel? Like this trip wasn’t just important but important and that’s why she’s melting down?

So hey, let’s send her another note! Only this time, tell her “I hate you very much. Eat my dick.”

Let it go at that?

Of course not. Keep poking the bear. And make another dick-eating comment, because the first one was so mature.

I don’t see the humor in any of it. What I see is some guy bullying a woman who really can’t fight back.

Is she a douche, too?

Probably. The thing with this is we don’t get to know her side of the story. We get a narrow, one-sided look at a woman taking out her Very Bad Day on people who don’t deserve it.

And truly no one in that plane deserved it.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all right to bully her, and it’s really not all right to let the rest of the world pile on.

People like Diane are irritating. No one wants to be stuck where she is, complaining like she is, and it’s easy to say she got what she deserved.

We all think about doing just what Elan did, giving her a taste of her own medicine.

The problem with that? It’s mean. It makes us no better than the person at whom we’re poking back.

Elan Langer isn’t a hero.

He’s a jerk and a bully.

Picture yourself having a horrible, awful day; a soul crushing, can’t-get-much-worse-day. And you slip up, have a few minutes of a selfish, tantrum-tinged meltdown because you've hit your breaking point. Then someone like him comes along…

It’s not funny anymore, is it?


22 November 2013

From a friend, no context, no explanation, but worth sharing (and done so with permission...)

…in all those warnings from so-called friends about the “gay lifestyle” and how it meant drugs and promiscuity and heartache, I always wondered why, and how did their kids fall into that. Not being gay, but that “lifestyle.” But then my 14 year old son brought home his first boyfriend, and I realized something: he had no fear because he’s known his entire life that whomever he had a crush on, whomever he dated, whomever he fell in love with, we not only would accept it, we would cherish the person who cared that much about him. Our expectations, the things we’ve taught our children, are of respect, kindness, and family. Do I worry? Yes, I worry he’ll get his heart broken, even though I realistically know that will happen a time or two. But I don’t worry about that “lifestyle” because he knows the love he has here isn’t conditional; he knows he is free to be himself, love whom he loves, and we won’t bat an eye. He’s been raised to believe in commitment and family, but he’s also been raised to know that we don’t have the right or the will to define for him how that future family takes shape. We hold him to the same rules as his siblings: the curfew, the meeting of friends’ and potential dates families, the not sneaking around, the general obeying of the rules of the house. And the first rule of this house is that we love first, ask questions later, and the end result is, I hope, that there will be no drugs, no promiscuity, and the only heartache will come from the pains of growing up and having crushes and first loves. It won’t be because he’s gay…


21 November 2013

Wherein I was about as rude as I care to get...

I thought I wanted a change from sitting in Starbucks as a place to pretend to work, so I went back to McDonald's. I bought a soft drink, caved into the aroma of fresh fries, and sat at a tiny table near the door. There were larger tables available, and I prefer them, but the lines were long and I didn't want to take up any more space than I felt I was more or less entitled to take.

I wanted to read for a bit while I nommed the fries, before pulling out the laptop to type my afternoon (or an hour or two) away. And as I read, a woman in her 30s, maybe early 40s, sauntered in, and promptly dropped her sunglasses.

The noise of them hitting the flood made me look up, and before I could think, "Hey, she might want to pick those up" she looked at me and said "Pick those up for me."

Not a request, not even the least bit polite. It was an order. Pick them up.

I looked at her again; I'm a good 10-15 years older than she and considerably heavier, but what the hell, technically from my seated position I was closer to the floor. So I shoved my tablet into my backpack--I'm not stupid, I wasn't leaving the table and leaving my tablet and backpack with my laptop just sitting there; I fully intended to keep control of my possessions--and started to get up with the intent of picking up her damned glasses. But that apparently was not the correct action in the Princess's eyes, as she blurted out, "Where are you going? I need you to pick up my sunglasses."

All right, maybe she did need me to. Maybe there's something wrong with her spine and she can't bend over. But ordering me the first time was wrong enough; berating me and presuming I was going to leave was just the thing to do to keep me from picking them up.

"Um, no,"

Her eyes went wide. "Pick.Them.Up."

Now I'm thinking there's something seriously wrong with this person and that everyone's day would go a little better if I picked them up, but instead of asking her why she NEEDED me to, I sneered and told her to frak off.

Except, you know, I didn't say "frak."

I really thought she was going to sling her purse at my head. Instead, she looked to the teenager just behind me and ordered him to pick them up.

And he did.

He got up from his table, picked up her sunglasses, took two steps beyond her, and shoved them into the trashcan.

It occurred to me as I laughed my way out the door and to my car that I might have just been royally punked, but the greater chance is that I just happened to be there when the Princess wandered in, and having a Very Bad Day, she lost all common sense and civility. It happens. I can't imagine taking my Very Bad Day out on anyone in quite that manner, but who knows? I can get unintentionally bitchy at times.

So I went back to Starbucks, where there was a shortish line and lots of people milling about, and where Pete the barista made my drink as I was ordering it, so I didn't have to wait more than 5 seconds to get it, and where one of my favorite tables was open. I even went to the restroom and it was still open when I came back out.

'Course, now it occurs to me that I left my fries sitting on the table at McD's, but I'll survive that disappointment. Though I kind of wish I'd stuck around to see the fallout from the sunglasses being shoved into the very full, post-lunch-rush trash can.

I bet she screamed.


20 November 2013

About this thing going around:

If you have ever gone out to eat on Thanksgiving—
Gone to a movie on Thanksgiving—
Run to the grocery store for that one dinner thing you forgot—
Gotten gas on your way to see family on Thanksgiving—
Stayed in a hotel on Thanksgiving—
Made a phone call on Thanksgiving—
Watched TV, listened to the radio, used the Internet on Thanksgiving—

If you’ve ever done any of that on Thanksgiving, then you kinda need to stop being so self-righteous about retail stores being open and grousing how you're protecting the holiday for other people and preserving their right to have the day with their families. Because if you’ve done any of those—or any of a plethora of other things—you’re a hypocrite. Every single one of those requires that someone else works on Thanksgiving.

Theaters don’t open and the movies don’t run on magic. Grocery and convenience stores and gas stations all have to be staffed by living, breathing people. All those entertainment things you use in your own home—your phone, your TV, your Internet, the electricity that powers them all—are all run by someone who is at work.

Here’s the thing about the holiday shopping season: it traditionally starts the day after Thanksgiving, with Black Friday insanity. The problem with that is this year, Thanksgiving is several days later than usual, which seriously cuts into revenue generated.

For a lot of businesses, the revenue made during the holiday shopping season is make-or-break; with fewer days to make those sales, they have fewer opportunities to make moneymoney that in turn funds the economy and keeps people working.

So yes, businesses are going to open on Thanksgiving this year because the season is so shortened, so that they have the chance to make the money that keeps people working. Is it greed? Partly. Largely, it's a business decision.

It’s not a crime. It’s not a mortal sin. It’s the reality of business, and the reality of what creates jobs.

And you can flip the whole thing over to look at the other side, too: not everyone wants to sit at home on Thanksgiving, dealing with relatives they don’t really like. Not everyone HAS family to spend the day with. Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving. And a whole lot of people like working on it because it means holiday pay, 8-10 hours of pay and time and a half or better. For some it means much bigger tips than on other days. That holiday pay, the large tips, that might mean that their kids get more for Christmas than disappointment.

It’s not a cut and dried issue. Stay home if you want; go out if you want. But don’t pretend that it’s such a horrible thing if Macy’s is open and selling overpriced jeans or if Denny’s is open feeding people who don’t want to cook. Chances are, you’ve contributed to someone else working on Thanksgiving as it is…and the outcry is actually kind of absurd.


7 November 2013

This little shit...

...decided that my fingers tapping away on the keyboard was an invitation to jump in my lap and give writing a try of his own.

I don't know what he did, but Word opened a couple of extra windows...and closed out the one I was working in.

No horrible loss, I'd only tapped out about 1200 words and they were not great, so it was only an evening's worth of work. I poked his bony ass and made him move, closed out the extra windows, and opened the directory to where the manuscript is saved.

I opened the file...

...and nothing. Nothing since November 2nd.

Buddah managed to delete about 7,500 words worth of work. I was already behind on NaNo, now I'm really behind.

I was mad for about 15 seconds, and not at Buddah; he didn't do it on purpose, and I should have saved it to more than once source, like I did the first 1500 words, the ones I still have, in a cloud file.

Rather than throw the laptop across the room, I put it down, fed the cats 20 minutes early, eyed the booze in the fridge, and then decided the hell with it. What I'd written was nowhere near what I intended in the first place, and there are still 3 weeks left in NaNo. I've written a hell of a lot more than 50,000 words in less time before.

So it's a challenge.

I start over.


26 October 2013

My day has been made.

I took my rebel bad-ass wearing white after Labor Day self over to Starbucks for a little while, because...tea. My favorite table was open, and at the table next to it sat a little old lady clutching a laptop computer; I plopped myself down, started pulling my own laptop out of my backpack, when she leaned over asked asked, "Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the Whiffy?"

Now, this is a small town. I kind of know where almost everything is, even if I haven't been there, and I'd never heard of this place. I thought for just a moment and had to tell her I was sorry, but I wasn't familiar with the Whiffy.

She looked crestfallen. "Oh. My son usually helps me with these things. I wanted to check my email."

The the lightbulb went off. "Oh! You want to get online? I can help with that."

In less than a minute she was online, surfing the web and checking email at the Whiffy.

Too. Freaking. Adorable.


25 October 2013

Someone who recently purchased Max's first book, The Psychokitty Speaks Out: Diary of a Mad Housecat, found a typo. This typo was apparently distressing--I had typed "cat" when I should have typed "can"--and they felt compelled to complain to Amazon about it.

Amazon, wanting their end product to be clean, emailed me to tell me about it, with a request to fix it. Now, the request felt more like an order, but it was a polite enough email and it told me exactly where to find said typo. Well, where to find it in the file. First I had to find the freaking digital copy of the book in order to fix it.

Yeah, I'm not especially organized.

I admit, the formatting in the Kindle copy of the book was not the best; it was one of the first I worked on (if not the first) and I didn't have the software that I do now, so correcting that typo was a good time to re-format the whole thing.

He "helped."
I spent 9 freaking hours on that today. I went over it line by line (and caught a few more typos) and fixed some formatting errors, re-inserted the images, and started the conversion from InDesign to .mobi.

And then I looked at the final file.

All the images shifted a page. I have no idea why. But they're all in the wrong places, and there's giant white space where they should be.

I'm a bit grumpy right now.

But...I'll get back to it tomorrow. I'll surely figure it out, and by the end of the weekend I'll either tell Amazon to shove it, a few typos won't matter or I'll have a nice clean file and I can ask Amazon to notify everyone who has ever purchased it that they can get the new one.

It beats housework, in any case.

Plus, all this weekend Max is having a 10th blogoversary party on his blog, so I should keep an eye on that. I need to make sure no under age kitties get into the Niptinis.

Fun times.


24 October 2013

 Tonight's WTF email:
Why can't you just enjoy your cat as a CAT instead of making him earn you a living? Let him be already!

 Yes, and it's equally as awful that I spend his royalties on things he never even asked me for. I'm awful that way. Now excuse me, I have to go sit him down at the computer and make him write the next chapter.


22 October 2013

We have a general rule in this house: never intentionally scare the kitties. We don't pop balloons or make loud noises just to see them jump; we don't sneak up on them and yell "Boo!" That momentary LOL just isn't worth how it makes them feel.


I really laughed at this, and I'm not so sure I wouldn't do it...

Poor kitty.


11 October 2013

Random memory…

We left Texas when I was 14 years old, just before I turned 15, the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I felt like I’d been forced to leave a lot behind; Duncanville was the first place we’d lived that I really felt connected to, the first that felt like home. I had friends; I had good friends. It ticked me off to no end, once I realized what I would be leaving behind. Who I would be leaving behind.

When we got to CA we stayed in a multiplex while the hunt for a house to buy was on. I was bored out of my mind and spent a lot of time watching TV and writing, and one odd afternoon making up math problems, because God knows I loved math. I loved it the way one loves a root canal; that’s how bored I was.

Still, bored or not, I really didn’t want to go looking at random houses. In typical teenage wisdom, my thought was just go buy one and be done with it; it’s rooms and a kitchen and bathrooms, any one was just as good as another. I would have been happy to stay in my room with my pen and paper, writing my way out of the frustration wrought from being plucked out of a place where I was perfectly happy in order to move to someplace I might not be.

I often wasn’t given the option. If my dad said to get dressed, we’re going house hunting, I got dressed and went house hunting. He just was not someone to whom a kid said no.

I don’t remember how many houses we looked at; it was more than a few, I know that. I mostly remember finally getting a house and moving in, and settling in so well that it quickly became home. It was comfortable. I loved the school I went to. I made friends, lifelong friends. Orangevale is still what springs to mind when I think “home.”

Tonight I sat here playing online with the TV droning on across the room from me; I had it on mostly for the noise and wasn’t paying particular attention to it until a news story about Test Drive House Hunting came on. Some sellers are now offering potential buyers the chance to spend a day or two in the house so they get a better idea how it fits them; they can have a party, let their friends weigh in, or just sit in the yard and soak up the neighborhood atmosphere. Whatever works for them.

I blinked, and the squeaky door in my brain that I often keep locked to save my own sanity creaked open, and some very clear images clouded my vision.

Standing in a dark living room, watching my dad look out into the back yard, a teenaged boy I’d never see again spread out over a recliner as he oozed pretended disinterest in the people who might buy his house.

Wandering through empty bedrooms in a much brighter house, peeking in the closets to see how much room there was.

Cringing in an unclean kitchen, wondering if there was anything alive in the cupboards and drawers.

With every one of those I can see my dad; in the darkened living room he turned to me and semi-shrugged, telling the real estate agent that we’d think about it. When we were outside he said, “Sure was dark in there, wasn’t it? It didn’t feel right.”

“No room for your things,” in the house where I peered in closets.

Leaving the kitchen with the questionable wildlife, “Your mother would never let things get like that.”

I can hear his voice; I may have the exact words wrong—I surely do—but I can hear him speak, and more than that, right now I can see what I didn’t see then.

He was carefully gauging how I felt about the places we looked. We never made it to the bedrooms in the house with the too-dark living room. He turned and saw the look on my face, the near-fear that this would be the place they chose. He noted my disappointment with the house with the small closets. He acknowledged my disgust with the dirty kitchen, the reassurance that I would never live in a place like that, not under his watch.

When we looked at the house that became home…we looked the whole thing over. Inside and out. He and my mom listed the things they liked, but this time he came straight out and asked what I thought. Was this the one?

He could see I was actually excited. I’m sure he paid attention to my sister’s reaction, too, but what I see in front of me right now is my father brightening because I loved that house right off the bat. I was excited about it; I asked if we could keep the basketball backboard over the garage, and I said I would help paint the back patio cover.

He made an offer on the house right then and there.

I don’t pretend that he did it because I wanted to live there. But it was a major factor.

My dad was never demonstrative. I don’t remember ever hugging, not until I was an adult with a kid and we were moving away, courtesy of the USAF. I don’t think he ever came straight out and said he loved me. I don’t recall him ever touching my mom. Touchy-feely was just not how he was.

They didn’t drag me around to look at houses because they wanted to torture me; they didn’t do it because I needed to be ripped away from the story I was writing or from watching the Olympics on my tiny black and white TV.

They wanted me to like my next home. My dad in particular wanted me to feel safe there, to love it. He paid attention to the look in my eyes, the disappointment or excitement on my face.

Thirty seven years later, I see what I didn’t see then.

What I wanted mattered. What I needed mattered even more. I know that when’re you’re just barely 15 you’re supposed to by 80% brain challenged, but I wish I had seen it then.


10 October 2013

'Tis nearly that time of year again, when aspiring writers--and non-aspiring writers, hacks, dreamers, professionals, and word-droolers--commit to coughing up a 50,000 word literary hairball in just 30 days.

NaNoWriMo is coming, y'all! And I'm joining in this year; while work on Max's book is plodding (and I mean's been slow work) along, there's this whisper of a story that's been poking at the back of my brain for at least a year and a half, probably longer. It's also in a genre for which I typically don't write--Young Adult--and will not be especially long, so I've decided to set Max's work aside (don't tell him,it will only get his shorts in a wad) and spend a month getting the bones of the new story out of my head.

"But Thump," you're thinking, "won't a book written in just thirty days suck pond scum?"

Yes. Yes, it will.

And that's all right.

The point to NaNoWriMo is not to have a polished novel at the end of the month; the point is to sit yo' ass down every day and scribble out a minimum of 1,667 words and have it make enough sense that the end result is the foundation of what will eventually be an awesome book.

It's a place to start. It's a creatively freeing event: you have to let the inner editor go off somewhere else to play so that you can get the story out. There's no worrying about grammar and sentence structure. There's no worrying about catching mistakes right away. There's no second guessing. You just sit down and write and let the words fall where they may, because you know that the intention is not perfection.

Just sit down and write.

This will probably be where I spend a good chunk of my time throughout November, hopefully at the table under that picture on the far wall.

My favorite table.

Yes, I sit in the corner. It feels right.

Why, yes, I did spend a lot of time in the corner in 2nd grade. Why do you ask?

Come on. Let your inner writer out for the month and join me in writing some truly horrible fiction in November. It'll be fun!

3 October 2013

I'm not uber-religious; I have no stomach for organized religion anymore, but I have my beliefs and my faith, and those are pretty strong.

I try--and I stress try--to not judge people. I figure someone else's sin is no greater or different than my own, so I honestly try to not place judgment on someone else for the clothing they wear, the music they listen to, the words they choose when speaking, or their political bent. Face it, when you're looking down your nose at someone else, you stop seeing clearly. When you point a finger at someone...well, count how many are pointed back at you.

I know what being judged feels like, from the sneer about the clothes I wear, the tattoos I love, the pink hair, and the occasional potty-mouthed moment. I sense the hypocrisy in it, knowing that the person sneering at me or dismissing me probably has history littered with poor choices and outright stupid utterances.

We all have them. If it's something you've ever done, you don't really have a right to pass judgment of others doing the exact same thing. So I make a concentrated effort to not judge.

But. BUT...

...if you're a supporter of Tea Party politics and the complete crap Boehner and his cronies are pulling right now...oh yeah, I judge you. I judge you hard.

The Tea Party stranglehold is immature and selfish and beyond intelligent comprehension.

So yeah, if you side with them and are enjoying this governmental sideshow being manipulated by Boehner, if you think it's perfectly all right for women and kids in need going hungry because WIC is running out of funds fast; if you think it's terrific that military commissaries are closed, pushing our young active duty members--many of whom qualify for food stamps--into shopping on the economy where their food costs will be beyond their ability to afford; if it doesn't bother you that medical care is pushed aside for veterans and those who have military medical and therefore cannot now get an appointment with their doctors; if you're perfectly fine with the idea that this whole shutdown has the potential to make homeless a whole lot of people, all because of the Affordable Health Care Act that has already been passed by Congress, vetted by the SUPREME COURT, and its demise shot down over 40 times suck.


2 October 2013

Oddz N Endz #3,874,016.9x3

  • Saturday afternoon, after having come home in major disappointment from not walking in the Avon walk thanks to my stoopid gut, I was ready to get an appointment with the doc. That chit had been going on too long; it was time. But then Sunday rolled around and it was like a switch had flipped, and I felt a lot better. I was still not sure, still thinking I needed to go see him, but Monday rolled around, and I felt human. So...I decided to wait and see, and am still waiting. I'm not declaring anything resolved, just...waiting.
  • In the list of possible things it could have been/could still be: diverticulitis, colitis (just not as bad as last year), the start of Crohn's, soda withdrawal, or pineapple licorice. Seriously, it could have been the licorice. Over the last month I've had a few pieces just about every day because that chit is delicious, but oddly enough the last time I had it was around last Wednesday...which means any effects from the licorice extract would have run out right around Sunday.
  • In other news, pineapple licorice has actual licorice extract in it. I just figured it was named so because it's squishy twisted self is made to look like licorice.
  • I am also keeping firmly in my head that last year the gastroenterologist warned I might have the beginnings of a chronic inflammatory bowel issue.
  • I am getting far too comfortable discussing poop with people.
  • The Spouse Thingy is off this week, so I'm glad things are not awful. We can do things.
  • The weather is perfect, so that means lots of car-top-down driving.
  • We played miniature golf this afternoon, which was fun until someone's little brats--and they were brats--started running round, cutting through and over holes, including right onto the green where I was about to putt.
  • Yes, I yelled at the little shits.
  • I'm sure their mom heard.
  • No, she did nothing about them.
  • I just looked to my left, toward the floor, and realized I have nearly 400 mini candy canes. Keep them all, or hand them out on Halloween? We only get like 5 kids coming to the door. Hm.
  • I still have not sold my motorcycle. Haven't done anything about selling it; I haven't ridden it either. I really need to sell it.
  • Wanna buy a pretty motorcycle?
  • Sure, you do.
  • Fine.


28 September 2013

File under TMI, case #92,954

At 4:30 this morning, I named my future rage-rock band.

Thumper’s Throbbing Intestines.

That was about the same time I was questioning whether or not I would even make it to the opening ceremonies of the Avon Walk; I’d had about an hours’ sleep, possibly two—and not all at once—and couldn’t find a comfortable position to save my life. If I managed to find one that didn’t’ send my gut into spasms, it was killing my back. I’d gone to bed before 9 p.m. already tired; at 4:30 I knew I was beyond tired.

If it had just been fatigue, I could have pushed beyond that. The excitement in the air during opening ceremonies is pretty much enough to get a person through the first few miles, at least. I could have fed on that and gotten a good 9-10 miles in before feeling tired again.

However…I’ve been dealing with—to put it mildly—an overly upset GI tract for over a month and haven’t felt exactly wonderful. I refused to consider missing this walk regardless, and I got it into my head that I would be able to go to the walk, get up on day one and just load up with massive doses of Imodium, and then walk anywhere from 13.2 to 26 miles.

I hadn’t counted on how fatigue + whatever the hell is wrong with my digestive system was going to really feel like.

By 5 a.m. I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to go, and by the time DKM’s alarm went off, I was sure of it. I could have sucked up the fatigue and choked down a dose of Imodium probably not within the realm of a Good Idea and tried to walk…and I would have been miserable the entire time, wondering if the next step was going to be the one where I engaged in gross acts of public humiliation.

Yeah. I’m pretty sure you can figure out what I mean.

DKM was kind enough to get ready in the dark, being very quiet, so that I could try to get a little sleep; I managed to drift off for a couple of hours, and when I got up I was seriously second guessing my decision to not walk. I didn’t feel awful anymore; I didn’t feel great, but I also didn’t feel awful.

But then I packed up and headed towards the Starbucks across the street to get some tea for the drive home, and while I stood in line I broke out in a cold sweat and my gut started churning…I wasn’t so unsure then. That feeling plus walking…nope.

After I got my tea I headed across the other street to the parking garage, set my cup on top of the ticket machine while I paid for parking…and left it there. I realized that as I got to my car—dammit, the tea—but didn’t go back for it because, hell, if it was even still there who knows if someone spit in it or not; I hoped that some random street person saw me leave it there and grabbed it, because I’d rather think someone was enjoying it more than being pissed off at myself for losing it…and then realized that hey, I didn’t feel l so bad.

The 90ish minute drive home, I felt okay. And again began doubting myself.

But…then I stopped at the Starbucks near home, because TEA…yeah, it was uncomfortable. I got my tea and headed home, where no kitty was by the door to greet me. I plopped down into my chair, wondering when the twisting and turning was going to ease up, feeling really, really angry that I’ve missed yet another walk because of my damned gut—when I heard cat feet padding down the hall.

Max ran into the living room, and actually squealed when he saw me.

So that made me feel decent.

On the plus side for this weekend: I did make the drive to SF by myself (which is a bigger deal than it might seem) and I went to the Event Eve stuff, where I got a t-shirt for having raised X amount of dollars before the deadline (even though the shirt is not going to fit me unless I lose like 90 pounds) and while I waited in line for my too-small t-shirt, Jeanette Cereske—another dedicated walker and crazy cat lady—spotted me and we got to chat for a bit.

I also got to have dinner with DKM, which is always good (on my side…I don’t think I was the best company last night.) And she gave me crew t-shirts, and I’m a t-shirt whore.

But…now I’m home and annoyed and very, very glad I didn’t fundraise for this. At least this year’s non-walk is on me and not my donors. And damn, I am starting to feel cursed. Maybe I should stick to crewing…I’ve had luck crewing.

I do think that until I know what’s up with my gut—a visit to the doc is now in order, I think—I’m not committing to anything other than a virtual walk. I like those; I can do them at my leisure, pretty much. I need to get this under control no matter what; I am getting really tired of being the person who bails on everything.

Or it feels like I do.

The rest of today? While I second and third and fourth guess myself, I’m going to make a lap for the Psychokitty and watch whatever crap is on the DVR.


26 September 2013

Tomorrow I'm leaving the Spouse Thingy and the cats.

Really, I am.

Granted, it will only be for 3 days, but hey...I'm walking out that door with a packed bag, getting in my car, and heading for San Francisco.

Saturday marks the start of the Avon Breast Cancer Walk; it's 40 miles over 2 days, winding through SF and Marin County--which means walking over the Golden Gate Bridge, which is always fun...well, other than at 7 a.m. when it's cold and foggy--and while there's a camp at the end of the first day's route, I will get on a shuttle and head back to the hotel.

Yep, I'm feeling delicate. I want a real bed.

And no, I didn't do much in the way of fundraising this year. Since y'all were so generous last year and then I wound up not walking, I decided to self-fund this year to more or less make up those miles. I still feel like I owe them to you. And sure, over the year I've gone out and walked more than those miles, but not in the event. So...I'm walking. Hopefully the distance, but I'm not adverse to hopping on a sweep van if the need arises. And given the state of my digestive system lately...the need will likely arise.

Still... I do have one fundraising thing up my sleeve. I'm giving a t-shirt fundraiser a try, and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to another walker who still has an upcoming event this year.

The shirts are $22 and I have to sell 20 of them in order for it to go to print (don't worry; if you buy one and only 19 sell, you'll get your money back...) and there are only 13 days left to order one.

Why purple? It's the ribbon color for cancer. And the pink feet? Because...walking. Raising money for a cure.

Please buy one. I really want to sell 20 so that *I* can have one... Christmas is coming, and one of these shirts would be a terrific gift for your favorite walker!

Just click HERE and you'll go right to the page where you can check it out.


21 September 2013

Last night, while I contemplated cleaning the kitchen, I happily entered a discussion online (happily because hey, it was important and an excuse to not clean the kitchen) with a few indie writers. A couple of them are newbies, still trying to polish the first manuscript and agonizing over putting it out there where real people can read their work, and a couple of them have one or two books out now and the reviewer-generated scars to show for it.

[I felt like the old person sitting in the recliner in the corner; been there, done that, have the stories to tell but no real reason to tell them unless asked. And once asked…I might not shut up.]

Most of what we talked about was standard indie fare: what makes a good book cover? How many beta readers are necessary? Pay for an editor or talk a college kid into doing a copy-edit? (Answers: good, clear, creative images and DON’T USE COMIC SANS AS A FONT. As many as you’re willing to take criticism from. Pay a real editor.)

There was a little talk about sales—how to generate them—and it drifted into Rights Ownership. What to do if the Giant Corporation came knocking, offering a metric farkton of cash for All Rights?

That’s when I got quiet; I wanted to see what they thought, where they were in the process.

Typically, when you’re negotiating with a traditional publisher, you keep as many rights as you can, so that you can sell those separately. You offer First North American Rights first (unless you’re not in North America. We all are.) and try to keep second and serial rights, movie rights, etc. for yourself. New to the game are digital rights, something that if you can get you grab it. Even the big boys in writing and publishing can see the shiny in keeping digital rights to your own books: it’s easy to put the books out there yourself, and reap the much, much higher royalty rates.

I would never sell All Rights was the general consensus. That’s just giving your work away and losing future revenue.

That’s when I spoke up again. “What if your work had been in the market for a number of years? Would you consider it then?”

Hell no, from every one of them. Their work is worth something; their characters are like real people and they love them.

This is where I part ways with traditional thinking. If someone offered me enough money for the rights to the Charybdis series, I’d sign away in a heartbeat. Sure, I’d be gambling that I could earn far more by selling the rights individually, and by selling all rights away I would never be able to write those characters again (unless I managed to stick in a clause that allowed me future books) but I’m all right with that.

I wrote those books. I’m not saying I would never want to write another book in the series, but for the right amount of money? Hell yes.

Look, I know the potential of those books. I also know I’m about as likely to pursue selling the movie and TV rights as I am to go to the moon. I know how likely I am to try to publish in foreign countries, other than where Amazon already easily allows me to do so.

Basically, I’m kind of lazy. And the footwork to sell those rights requires more steps that I really want to take. So hell yes, if someone offers me the right dollar amount, I’ll sign them over.

Setting us up for the rest of our lives would make it worth giving up the rights. And make no mistake, it would not be easy because those are characters I’ve carried around since I was 14 years old, but I’d still do it.

I doubt I’d feel the same way about something I just published; I certainly wouldn’t give up all rights to Max’s books right now because…MAX…but the Charybdis books?


The writers I was talking to, they’re young enough and new enough to the market that holding onto their rights and seeing how far they can go is a good idea. But for someone like myself, whose books have been around for years and have sold well but will never reach life-changing sales numbers (and I’m okay with that; part of being indie is controlling the effort expanded into marketing, and I’ve sold well beyond my marketing efforts) being willing to sell all the rights is not a bad idea.

Would it bother me if I did that and someone else turned it around into a multi-million dollar franchise?


If I got what I wanted—enough for the Spouse Thingy to retire comfortably and for me to still buy the toys I love—and they could make a fortune from my work, good for them. I would always know that those stories were my creation, the characters wormed out of my brain, and if someone else can make them even better…that’s a good thing.

It’s also a pipe dream, but what the hell. That’s what writing is about.

Dreaming on paper.

Right now my dream is about $2.5 million.


15 September 2013

If you know me at all, you know I have a serious diet soda addiction.

We're talking 3+ liters a day.

But...I kinda wonder if it's half the reason I always feel like crap, so this weekend was a lot of not drinking that crap, and drinking water.

The effort right now is to not consume soft drinks at home, and not be a pain in the ass about it when we're out. If we need to share a drink, I'll indulge in a little diet soda. But for the most part...water.

Our water here, even filtered, tastes like crap, so there's going to be a lot of plastic bottle abuse, but I have to start somewhere.


Have to admit, it hasn't been difficult and I thought it would be...but my tongue feels funny. Go figure.


13 September 2013

Finally...we got out of the house and headed for something that wasn't HERE.

Leaving San Francisco; the view of the Bay Bridge behind us
We wandered around Union Square and China Town for a couple of hours; nope, I didn't spend all the Spouse Thingy's money even though I threatened to. Hell, he was the only one who bought anything. I was just happy to be out in semi-fresh air, and doing something that wasn't sitting here in my chair practically drooling, wondering if I was ever going to feel human again.

The weekend's planned activities involve mostly walking...which is a good thing since the Avon Walk is in only 2 weeks and I am not ready. If we do walking things 3-4 times a week I will be; the distance isn't the issue, it's reminding my feet that they will not die after mile 5.

At least I hope they won't.

I'd look awfully odd crawling over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Shuddup. Fine. Odder.


10 September 2013

The Spouse Thingy is on vacation this week--time off he put in for months ago--and we've made plans to do quite a few things: walk around SF, hike Muir Woods, hike a trail near Sausalito, just get out and enjoy the cooler temps near the coast, have fun. I need to walk more because the Avon Walk is coming up soon, and we both need to ramp up the activity a bit.

So of course, I woke up yesterday feeling tired and a little dizzy. And today I woke up a lot tired and a lot more dizzy.

I don't feel sick, so I'm guessing it's my sinuses or ears, but it's just enough to slap me back into bed for a couple extra hours a day and enough to have Max checking on me every 15 minutes.

Here's the thing about Nurse Max...he feels a deep need to check on me, but he can't do it quietly. He jumps on the bed, gets his face close to mine, and then meows loudly. Hey, you alive in there? I appreciate it, but it makes resting sort of problematic.

Right now, he's sitting on the back of the chair, snoopervising. I feel 90% better than I did this morning--the world is not spinning around me--but he keeps checking.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel normal, and I feel normal tomorrow the rest of the Spouse Thingy's vacation might not be spent hanging around the house being a giant lump, and Max can get some rest.

Granted, he might be working hard to get himself a Twinkie as a reward, but he is making an effort.

And in other news...remember the frog we went to SF looking for but had already been purchased? I found a picture of one on reddit, one that had been left outside and the arm broken, and posted it on Facebook. One of my old Monkey friends from the Wil Wheaton Soapbox days knew a friend who loves frogs, asked her about it, and she knew exactly what it was, and had the URL for the artist.

One link followed another, and bingo...I was able to order the frog.

It got here today...and holy carp, it's a lot bigger than I remembered.

Totally cool, though.


6 September 2013

Look, I'm special! I am now an official Guinness Book Of World Record record holder.

Me and 44,804 other people.

Hey. I take my thrills where I can get them.


2 September 2013

Don't marginalize the truth in an attempt to find some kind of relief in an uncomfortable reality. It diminishes my past experience and serves to tell me that I have no right to my own history, but that I instead need to substitute your revisionist expectations, even if they are well intended.


(Okay, that sped through my brain and I wanted to stick it somewhere I would find it again; it is a truthiness I may want to use in a manuscript at some, if it ran through my head, there must be a reason, so I need to hold onto it.)

Okay. Now discuss.


30 August 2013

My brain has been spectacularly blocked lately.  I’ve written a dozen blog posts and then deleted them because I was bored writing them so I presumed it would be boring to read them. I’ve written thousands of words for Max and then deleted them because they neither sounded like Max nor made for interesting reading.

Pretty much what I’ve been doing is sitting around staring at the laptop, feeling fat and not caring to do anything about it, and watching an incredible amount of bad TV.

“Why Thumper,” you’re thinking, “you must be depressed! That sounds like depression! Are you depressed?”

No. Really, I’m not.

Right now I’m just…lazy. And kind of liking it, to be honest. I’m not sitting around doing nothing because OMG life sucks. I’m sitting around doing nothing because playing online, surfing FARK and reddit and Facebook amuses me, and that bad TV is kind of fun.

On the Spouse Thingy’s days off I get off my asterisk and we go do things when we can think of things to do. Otherwise, I’ve pretty much enjoyed being a sloth.

But then I remembered I have a 40-mile walk coming up, and while the distance is not an issue my feet are not well prepped for it, and hills might be an issue.

On Wednesday we drove into San Francisco to walk around a bit, but mostly to get the giant ceramic frog I have wanted for about 3 years but had to talk myself into buying. Because, while it was awesome, it was also nearly $300 and I had a hard time justifying three hundred bucks for something that would just stand there by the fireplace freaking the cats out.

I finally decided the hell with it, I wanted the damn frog and the price wasn’t going to hurt us. So off to Pier 39 we went, where the frog had been standing in front of The Crystal Shop for as long as I could remember…and where it no longer was because someone else finally bought it.


Still, we were in SF, which I enjoy wandering around a lot more than I do Dixon. We stuck to the Wharf, so I didn’t exactly get any hills in, but we did around 6 miles and bought a couple of funny t-shirts. Next week we’re going back but heading for downtown, where there are hills, and where we can meet up with DKM for lunch.

I really should try to at least be somewhat prepared for the Avon Walk…even if it does cut into watching bad TV and playing online.

It would be easier if it weren’t so freaking hot out. I am not tolerating the heat well these days and anything over 75ish grinds me down. When I do think about setting the laptop aside and putting pants on to go outside where other people are, one look at the outside temperature is enough to make me click to the next website while muttering about the joys of having a working air conditioner.

I’m delicate, you know.

Yeah, this is boring as hell and I’m aware of it, but I need to actually not delete something for once.




10 August 2013

I spent most of today--from 9 am on--feeling like my liver was trying to exit my body through a nonexistent opening, and like my ribs were grabbing hard and refusing to let go.

I don't know what the real issue was. Could have been stomach irritation. Could have been that one spot in my colon that the GI doc couldn't explain last year. Could have been a dozen different things, but all I knew was that, while I didn't feel the least bit sick, I felt fairly awful because it hurt.

Not badly; it hurt just enough to be annoying and draining. I couldn't get into a comfortable position in my chair and I I tried to lie down for a bit to see if that would help, but no.

Around 9 p.m., when I was feeling pissed off about it, Max jumped into my lap. He usually does around then; he curls up and watches TV with me for a while, until it's time for his late night snack.

Tonight he didn't curl up; instead he practically crawled up my chest until I gave in and leaned back in the recliner, grumbling about watching Broadchurch off the DVR with his giant head in my way.

Funny thing Mr. Max did: he stretched out across my upper abdomen right where it hurt and purred his damn fool head off. The uncomfortable weight of him eased the more he purred, and the more he purred, the better I felt.

When Broadchurch was over (and holy crap, this is going to be good) and it was time for his snack, I felt 95% better. I still have no clue what the source of the pain was, but I know damn well what made it ease up.

Oh yeah, he got crunchy treats after his gooshy food.

And you'll never convince me that some animals just don't know.

3 August 2013

I had two thoughts tonight:

1) Grownups should sit down and color more often


2) I would totally own first grade art class.

Hey, at least now they look less like chipmunks and more like cats...


2 August 2013

Why join those walks? What’s the point? You’re never going to find a cure by walking for three days. You’re not kicking cancer’s ass. It’s futile; you’re raising money and exhausting yourself for nothing, really.

I wandered into Starbucks today intending to pretend to work on Max’s book while I played on Facebook and Fark; instead I bought my Venti black iced tea, unsweetened (so that I can add an amount of Equal to it that really is shameful), and sat down with another semi-regular who has noted the hair and the tattoo, and with a little additional information from one of the baristas put the pink puzzle together.

She doesn’t get it, though. She’s all for the eradication of cancer, but finds the notion that one can raise money, walk 60 miles, and honestly believe it will cure anything.

Let’s just suppose that you could find a cure by raising money; what’s the point of walking. Or biking, swimming, or any of the things people do in the name of curing a disease. Just donate money and be done with it.

Two years ago I couldn’t have answered that. In my little world friends just did it; they signed up for these multi-day walk events and asked for donations so that they would meet the minimum number of dollars required to participate. It was done For The Cure, so that future generations wouldn’t have to suffer through the long, agonizing fight needed to survive.

If walking could cure anything, it would have been cured by now.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think anyone who participates in these walks honestly thinks that 100% of their money raised goes toward the research that will one day find a cure. I don’t think that every walker, crew member, and volunteer is there with the belief that their efforts will be the difference in finding a cure in the near future or not. Not everyone involved has expectations beyond getting through the miles and collecting a t-shirt at the end.

And not every person participating is completely on board with the organization’s overall mission.

I doubt that there are many people in general who don’t want a cure for cancer, or MS, or heart disease, or any of the other myriad of causes some people raise money for. You’d have to be a particular kind of messed up to enjoy the idea that disease impacts harshly on some and destroys lives for others. If you polled 1000 people, I’m guessing that 999 would say they are most definitely not in favor of potentially fatal diseases. The remaining 1 probably mis-heard the question.

If you poll 1000 people who participate in walk events and asked them if they honestly expect this to be the year their efforts find the cure, I’m guessing 999 will say no, and the remaining 1 is simply hopeful.

So why bother?

Ask those walkers the same question and you’ll get as many different answers as there are people, but it probably boils down to one fundamental thing.

Why not?

We’re not naïve people, those of us who get involved in walk events. We understand that while we’re decked out in pink, training mile after mile, then putting one foot in front of the other while we sweat through three days and sixty miles of hills and broken sidewalks, all with the hope of finding a cure for breast cancer that there are so many kinds of breast cancer that even if a cure is found for one, we’ll be back next year to raise money and walk against all the other forms of the disease.

We’ll walk because it’s not JUST the disease we’re trying to stomp down.

All that money raised every year, the pinkwashing that annoys so many, the effort made to train to be able to walk that far…it really isn’t just about finding a cure. It’s also about raising money so that the 40-something year old without insurance can get a mammogram. It’s about funding programs that participate in community outreach, getting rides to appointments for women and men who are battling on their own without family support. It’s about putting food on the table for kids whose mothers are out of work because they need to focus every ounce of their energy on not dying.

It’s about drug trials, medications that might not work and might break a woman willing to go through the trial down to the very fibers of what makes her want to live.

It’s about walking with strands of pearls worn around the necks of people who have lost someone they cared about deeply, even if they never met her.

It’s about hope.

And more than hope, I think, it’s about being proactive. I will never be the person in the research lab, figuring out how to combine chemicals that will attack cancer cells and hopefully leave healthy ones alone. I will never have that kind of brain; I will never be that smart.

I can’t cure anything. I can’t do anything for the friends I have lost to breast cancer; I can’t do much for anyone I don’t personally know who is fighting for their own life.

But I can raise money; I can dye my hair pink because it makes my friends laugh; I can wear pink spandex even though I feel sorry for anyone who has to see that; I can put up with the sneers of the cold-hearted who think my pink is disgusting.

And I can walk.

Yes, I could just donate money. We do; the Spouse Thingy makes and sells pink ribbon pens and I wrote a book on doing a walk, and every penny made from those gets donated. We could end it there, reap the benefits of the tax deductions and be perfectly content with that. Donating alone is worth contentment. It’s doing something. It’s contributing, and I celebrate those who are willing to dig into their pockets and do just that.

I need people who do that. I need people who want to donate money. I need them because I need to sign up for these walks, and I need to reach a minimum to participate.

I cannot find a cure. I cannot do a million things I wish I could do, but I can walk in honor of my friends who didn’t make it, and I can walk in support of those who are gutting it out in chemotherapy. I can drive the sweep van and support others who are walking, because whatever their reasons are, it matters to them.

No. In September, when I walk for Avon, my fundraising won’t find a cure. My walking won’t find a cure. Every step taken over 40 miles will not mean that any particular person will get an injection of a wonder drug and their fight will then be over.

I know that.

But every dollar I raise might mean that a clinic tucked away into a run down neighborhood gets a mammography machine. Nickels and dimes might mean someone doesn’t have to pick between rent and food. The collection of pennies could very well mean someone without insurance gets to see a doctor about that tiny little lump and get it taken care of before it becomes the big lump that becomes the Big Bad. That money doesn’t line the pockets of the organizations; it goes somewhere, and most of it goes somewhere that matters.

And I walk because it’s the one thing I can do, even though the money is raised and donated. It’s the effort I can expend, something tangible that deep down, while I do it in the names of the people I care about, is only for me.

Why walk? For the hope, for the possibilities, and for ourselves.