Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Advice Wednesdays: August 11, 2009

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

DEAR ABBY: My 18-year-old sister, “Cheryl,” left home abruptly a week ago. She suddenly stopped taking all her medications, shut off her cell phone and left town with her underage boyfriend. She is a delightful person who also happens to be diabetic, asthmatic and bipolar. Mom received one phone call (from a landline) mentioning that she “might” be heading toward the East Coast.

I consider my sister dangerous to herself and others because she has a history of reckless violence when she’s off her meds. My question is, how can you find someone who doesn’t want to be found when they NEED to be found? — HEARTBROKEN SISTER IN INDIANA

You know one of those nights when you stay up too late and everything starts jumping around, just out of your line of sight? This was one of those nights, except, like, it started three nights ago. We hadn’t slept, we had to keep moving.

We were in a small town so far outside of Chicago it was more accurate to say we were in the next state. I say it was small, but it had all the trappings of everywhere else in this country: strip malls, the one megamart that never closes unless there’s a quarantine. We sat in the parking lot of that megamart now, listening to the car’s engine tick and cool.

I was on my fifth burner phone and I was staring at it now, wondering who I could call, and if I should bother. I scratched at my face, knowing I was at that in between place between respectable and complete hobo. I missed four check-ins so I knew I was beyond AWOL. I hoped my last message had gotten in or I knew they’d be hunting for me as well.

I turned to the cause of all of this trouble.

“How’re you holding up?” I asked her. She sighed, fidgeted with her book, dogeared a page. She was always glued to her phone in school and in the hallways, but I had backed over it as we were leaving town. Now I knew that the fact of the matter was she just needed to be glued to something, like she didn’t trust her hands if they were unoccupied. As we drove through the nights, too dark to read, she played with rubber bands, made little origami creatures, and finger knitted string into long, useless braids.

“I’m okay,” she said. Her voice bounced off the windshield and struck my ears, making me jump a little. I realized it had been several hours since we’d spoken. Her dark hair was braided back elaborately, more of her hands’ busywork, the long part held in place by nothing that I could see, but loose bits of her bangs covered most of her eyes.

When she shifted in the passenger seat I caught the coppery, dirty smell of old blood. My father’s truck always smelled a little like it for months after the fall hunts, no matter how much he hosed it out. There’d been no time to bathe after we blew town.

“I thought I’d go in first,” I said, pointing in the direction of the megamart that was beyond my fogged windshield. “Make sure this is the right one.”

“I know this is the right one.”

“Well, let’s just–”

“Wilson.” I knew what she was going to say. “I’d like to come in.”

“It’s too–”

“Wilson.”

“Kat. There are cameras everywhere,” I reminded her.

“I’m untagged. You know I’m untagged.”

“They’re going to look for you harder since they can’t just scan you. Let me go in and check it out first.”

Kat shrugged, turned away. “My hair’s dark, I look like shit, and I’m with a strange scumbag. They won’t look twice.”

I smiled. It was true, as far as anyone knew I was a stranger. We hadn’t talked at all in school, not until that last couple of days before everything went sideways.

“Okay,” I said, while feeling it was the wrong call. I had a nagging feeling she was getting so stir crazy that if I kept telling her no this close to our goal I would come back to the car and find it empty.

The megamart’s doors made their customary hiss and suck to admit us, chattering away all the while.

“HELLO VALUED SHOPPER. DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN NOW USE YOUR BENEFITS FOR MORE ITEMS THAN EVER BEFORE, LIKE VITAMINLIQUOR AND CHICKIENOBS? HELLO PETER FLAXMAN, HELLO VALUED SHOPPER.”

“Flaxman?” she asked me.

“I dunno. My personal address is set to rotate every fifteen minutes or so,” I said, tapping my arm. “Maybe I’ll find out more at checkout.” I was looking forward to collecting my paycheck, leaving her, doing a little shopping, and getting seriously drunk a safe distance from her radius of dysfunction. Maybe a couple towns from here. Then I would sleep it off and check in with HQ to see if I was still employed.

The store, other than its announcements and talking displays everywhere, was fairly quiet. The autochecks stood idle, except for the stand nearest us. It jerked slightly, repeatedly turning what served as its head towards us, big scanners looking us over.

“DO YOU HAVE A RETURN? STORE CREDIT IS NOW UNAVAILABLE FOR MOST ITEMS.”

I ignored it. There were no people in the front of the store, which seemed unusual, but maybe the autocheck manager was doing maintenance nearby.

“Look,” Kat said, pointing at the wall just inside the door. She walked to a screen displaying a loop of a man giving every valued shopper a politician’s smile and a thumbs-up as they entered. Words coalesced over his head: Store Manager, Todd Van Buren.

“I told you this was the right place,” she said.

“I don’t see the resemblance,” I said. Their hair was the same, but at least one of them was faking it. I had covered Kat’s light hair in the bathroom of a gas station a couple of days ago.

“Well, he’s my half brother. And a lot fatter than he was a few years ago,” she said, with amusement. “He looks like his mother.”

I took a look around the store. The ceiling stretched up fifty feet, shelves towering upwards almost as high, with just a little space for the skylights. My arm twitched and I glanced at my screen reflexively; the store’s map had dropped in. It was a typical setup: government services to the right, worker housing near the back behind that, and an unlabeled area near the back where I imagined we’d find Kat’s brother.

I was itching to get moving “Do you want to take the tram back, or–”

“Let’s look around some before we go into the back,” Kat said. I agreed with her–it seemed like a good idea to get the lay of the land before we went into an area requiring higher authorization.

We started in the main area of the store, in Personal Care, avoiding the Villages for now. It was the usual squalor I’d come to expect from a megamart–malfunctioning vending screens with flickering images of giant lipsticked mouths or made up eyes. Other displays were completely shattered, jagged shreds of screen hanging out. Spills on the floor with varying levels of stickiness. One brown puddle looked like it might be cola syrup, but was so sticky it had entrapped the plastic coating of the sole of a large shoe.

“This place has really gone into the shitter,” Kat said.

“Really? This one actually looks pretty average to me.” A broken screen next to me popped and issued a small spray of sparks, making us both jump back. Kat laughed.

“Did you want to pick up some razors?” she asked.

“Yeah, maybe, if we can find them,” I said. We set off walking, passing through several aisles before getting to the shaving department.

“It’s really empty in here,” Kat said, stepping around a floor-cleaning bot that seemed to have somehow avoided the first aisle for a few months.

“I noticed that.”

A whoop-whoop rolled to the end of our aisle and turned its head towards us making its distinct siren sound. It had a stout body like an antique vacuum cleaner and a flashing light on top of its head to alert shoppers to current specials. Some of them issued discount codes or stickers for the kiddies. Others, I knew, were more like store bulls and were armed to protect against vandalism or theft.

“HELLO FLAXMAN, HELLO VALUED SHOPPER. I’D LIKE TO TELL YOU ABOUT SOME OF OUR SALES TODAY” –the whoop-whoop gave a judder here and its voice changed timbe, lowering– “BUT THIS IS A QUARANTINE SITUATION AND WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ASK YOU TO PROCEED TO THE EXIT AT THIS TIME.

“Oh shit,” I said.

“Don’t worry about this,” Kat said. “My brother doesn’t keep a dangerous store.” She switched to the over-enunciation you use on particularly stupid machines, just in case. “Thank you, bot, list sales.”

“AUTOCHECK IS DEACTIVATED AT THIS TIME WITHOUT THE PROPER OVERRIDE PROTOCOL. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ASK YOU TO PROCEED TO THE EXIT AT THIS TIME.”

“Bot, call store manager,” she said, trying a new tack. I heard a noise and looked behind us; a second bot rolled up at the other end of the aisle, and gave the signature “whoop-whoop” of its siren that they were named for.

“PROTOCOL UNAVAILABLE,” the first bot said. “WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ASK YOU TO PROCEED TO THE EXIT AT THIS TIME.” The clamps it had as quasi-hands that were used to clear the aisle of debris and errant children were clicking at us menacingly.

“Wilson, what should we do?” Kat asked. I stepped between her and the bot so it couldn’t pick up what we were saying.

“You think we can just ignore it?” I asked quietly. “Do you know any other codes?” She shook her head. On our drive she’d told me stories about spending her summers in the store when she was much younger, getting to know her other side of the family. I looked around–there was nothing in the aisle to slow the bots’ progress if and when they decided to move on us.

The first bot gave its siren another couple of blasts, followed by a whooshing noise. I felt a sharp pain in my left buttcheek, and turned in circles trying to remove it. It pinned my coat and my pants to my ass so every move I made wiggled it around a little, making it more painful.

“JESUS FUCK!” I said.

“HELLO VALUED CUSTOMER, PLEASE ENJOY A COMPLIMENTARY FLU SHOT, COURTESY OF TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENT EAST.”

“Oh my god, it darted you!” Kat said.

“Is this thing going to just annoy us until we leave?” I said.

“Probably,” Kat said. She gave me a slow blink then, and I saw one of her blue eyes drift down her cheek and give her chin a little nip. It drifted back up to its proper place on her face like a fish lazily being carried by a river’s current.

“I’ve got a plan,” I said. It took me ages to get it out, and I hoped she understood me. “Follow my lead, tell it we’re leaving.”

“Bot, we are exiting the store, thank you.”

“THANK YOU VALUED CUSTOMER,” it replied.

I dropped to my knees and crawled over the cracked linoleum to the first bot. The specks in the flooring were so beautiful, flicking along like a whole school of small fish. I dove towards them. I was a majestic kestrel. They tasted of dust and bubblebath.

“I’ve got him, Kat. You run!” I wrapped myself around his rollers like a doughnut and hugged it with my whole body.

She followed me over to where I lay, bent down, and pulled the dart out of my ass. “This is your plan? To hug this whoop-whoop to death?”

“It’s foolproof,” I said. So tired. There were spots in front of my eyes, like beautiful drifting snow. They made me sleepier.

“I don’t think that was a flu shot,” Kat said. That was the last thing I heard before everything went black….

Turn to page 98 to dream about spawning herring

Turn to page 164 to have Kat feed Wilson the antidote

Turn to page 31 to change the space-time continuum and turn right at the entrance instead of left

Once more with phlebotomy, OR, Asshole, Heal Thyself

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Up betimes Saturday morning and off to get blood labs done again. Honestly, I don’t think the results will bring answers, except I am guessing they will show I am inflamed again (CRP results), but probably not as bad as in March. I will be interested to see if I am low on any kind of vitamin, that should help.

I was having thoughts about this as I was troubleshooting the Elco this morning. It leaks transmission fluid, just a little, and slowly, over time. It’s the kind of thing I could spend thousands on (replacing the transmission) or hundreds on, at least, trying to locate the source of the leak. Or I could spend $7 on a bottle of tranny fluid every few months and roll with it. It runs great. It kind of doesn’t matter what’s wrong with the transmission.

You see where this is going. I’ve found a handful of things that seem to be working, and it kind of doesn’t matter what’s wrong, even if they could figure it out. I sometimes take a drug that acts as an anti-inflammatory (though that is a very off-label use for it, and yes, I wish it was bourbon or Darkside Skittles but it is not), and it seems to make the engine go okay. As long as I am eating well also and eating very little sugar, in the form of cake or booze. What’s going on with me looks like hypothyroid, or Hashimoto’s even, but I bet it’s not to do with my thyroid. I bet my thyroid levels will be normal.

This is all fun guessing, though. I will find out for real in a few days. Sometimes I just like to throw a message in a bottle where I cannot retrieve it and see if I was right later. One thing I’m thinking of doing is getting an allergy test(s), because it is obvious I am very intolerant to certain foods.

I was feeling VERY sorry for myself and pathetic on Friday because it hurt to move and live and I knew I was going back to the doctor so I went to a coffee shop and got a coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, which is something I have not had in months and months. It was SO FREAKING DELICIOUS and I relished every bite, and even licked cream cheese off the wrapper, hunched down in my car like some kind of disgusting garbage-eating sewer kobold. I spent the rest of the day sick like a dog who finds a whole pie and gobbles it up. Yes, I am so dumb. A boatload of dumb.

Soooo. I need to watch what I eat and get onto something anti-inflammatory that interferes as little as possible with the weird science project that is my body. I am looking into medical marijuana now as an anti-inflammatory, and if nothing else I think being stoned a medium amount of time would greatly improve my outlook.

In the meantime, I keep cooking and noodling around my house, even if I can’t eat all of it. This weekend’s ice cream is Baracky Road and Elvis (the fat years).

Franny requested Baracky road, which is a lot like what it sounds like (rocky road). The ice cream base has caramel added to it, and there are walnuts instead of almonds. I kind of blew it and didn’t add the dark chocolate to the base like I was supposed to, so it was much sweeter than it was supposed to be, which greatly pleased the girls. I added more dark chocolate as “chips” at the end when it was done spinning as a compromise. It’s much more of a kid flavor than most of the recipes are intended to be.

P. went to his gaming night last night and brought a store-bought bucket of Heath bar crunch to be a nice guest.

“It was gross,” he said. It is so easy to get spoiled with homemade stuff.

I was home with the girls and we watched Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It is hard for me to express in my native language or in any other how terribly, terribly, incredibly bad this movie is. They are excited to see the fifth and final one in the series. :[ FROWN TIMES INFINITY. Yet it’s kind of hilarious how into it they are. I was thinking about how I was blogging recently about what a garbage disposal I was for any sci-fi when I was a kid, up to a including dandelion porn. So I guess I can relate. (They see classics, too, I swear.)

The Elvis flavor is interesting to me. I see it referred to around the web as “peanut butter ice cream” but the only peanut butter is in the bacon peanut brittle. The base is really banana flavor.

It all starts off pretty dark, because you cook bananas with brown sugar, kind of like bananas foster. Bananas foster is a thing I used to see mentioned in passing in old books and yearned to try in college, when I was on cultural ice in Phoenix, pretending it was 1959. Restaurants in Phoenix and Seattle did not serve it in the 90’s.

I think I even searched ye olde internets for a recipe sometime around that time and it was just not up on the linkable web yet. I was not smart enough to go find a cookbook from the 1950s then like I might now if there was no internet. I go find those cookbooks sometimes anyway, for fun. You know.

So you have this banana slurry, which is awesome and smells amazing. The recipe says to add the banana slurry to the egg and sugar mixture, which becomes the custard when you add hot cream in the other recipes. I didn’t think adding something so thick to the egg yolks and sugar would go as well as adding it in once you had your normal custard. I was afraid I’d end up with hot sweet scrambled eggs, basically.

So I did as normal and added half the hot cream mixture, taken off heat, and whisked it into the eggs and sugar as usual, and then added the banana mixture. It’s a small quibble but I didn’t want to have to unbreak custard. Yuck. Jibblies. The banana base is in the fridge now, and I will spin it tonight and fold peanut bacon brittle into it, which is sitting on my counter now, lying in wait to clog everyone’s arteries, but especially my sister’s, who is coming over to have Indian food tomorrow night.

I made paneer for that.


Start with hot milk.


Get excited like a fool as always when the cream melts and creates a butter galaxy.


Then add the juice of three lemons and be horrified when it encurdinates. Cooking is gross, special magic.

Then I strained it in a butter muslin and captured the lemony whey out of it. I let the paneer block sit for another hour with this pot and a gallon of distilled water on it so it would keep pressing and draining. Now it’s chilling and waiting to be sacrificed to a curry tomorrow. I am supposed to make naan dough as well, but I have exploded the kitchen and there is no more room. I do not feel like doing dishes. I AM A CULINARY ARTISTE MAN.

I doled out some of the whey into bowls and gave it to greedy animals, who were thrilled. The rest goes back in the fridge in a milk bottle where I will continue to give it out as treats all week.

There is some balking because it is so tart.

This morning I loafed in bed before the dump opened (my life is G-L-A amorous flossy flossy this summer) and watched Michael Pollan talk about why cooking has become alternately something people don’t do, or completely weirdly fetishized. I thought about it again when I dropped a couple of Bon Fronklins and didn’t even leave with any junk food. ARGH. Now that I have seen into the processed food portal that is Trader Joe’s I know I could be spending less money and less time…. INFINITY ARGHS.

I have to remember that I may not live longer, but at least I will feel somewhat better as I do live on. I really, really, really hope that at least one of my children picks up cooking. I know too many people without any interesting, just for the fuck of it skills. It’s a bummer.

Til next time, Upper Northeast siders.

xo,
Asshole Girl

And Introducing Monkey #10

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Last night, Monkey Number 10 took the stage in some kind of weird mashup of Caps for Sale, The Musicians of Bremen, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and something about a magic fish. It was all lumped into this amalgamated play called “Stories from Under the Big Top.” There was some sarcastic dialog written to hold it together, and some moralizing thrown in throughout, and BAM, that is how you get something like 35 grade schoolers onto one stage in thirty minutes. Drama club! What a racket. Strudel had a blast.

Morgan came and we had dinner first and then some cake at home. Why not make a little celebration of it?


A grocery store cake with the world’s most slapdash Thursday night icing.

Tonight Strudel is having her first violin lesson, at her behest. Kid wants to take music lessons? OKAY, CAN I SIGN HER UP NOW?? I did not want to take music lessons. My mother got a wild hair and bought a piano. “Doesn’t this sound fun?” My answer was always, “I’d rather have art lessons.” I’m a big fan of kid-led interests as long as they are a. not too expensive and b. something they commit to for a while. I can provide some nagging, it’s okay.

A month ago when I knew this play was coming up, I was afraid I was not going to be able to get out of bed and get there. Now I am around walking and talking like an asshole, though I will tell you that I am SO TIRED. I am working part time briefly, which is so right for now. I get to hour 3.5 at work and I am nodding off in meetings.

So this begs the questions, how I am doing and what the hell happened? Well, it’s kind of a mystery. I tested negative for errrthing they could think of to test me for. I bounced to Infectious Diseases and to to a rheumatologist this week. The rheumatologist said, “I don’t want to diagnose you with anything just yet, because I don’t think you have anything diagnosable, per se.”

These experts put their heads together about the test results and the history and said, ok, food poisoning. Probably turned into a viral/bacterial gut infection. This is a thing that can cause your body to hit the e-brake and go all autoimmune and attack everything, including yourself. This is where the myalgia/fevers/not being able to walk was coming from. I am told an overboard autoimmune response is more common in women. What I am very very lucky about is that it doesn’t seem to have a permanent result. It didn’t destroy my joints, or perforate my guts.

I am on my second taper down with Prednisone, and the rheumatologist is taking me off very, very slowly so my body can kind of figure out what is normal again and ack right. It seems the infection is gone (fingers crossed) and I haven’t had a fever in a couple of days. So what kind of good news is that six weeks later?

My only complaint now is that my brain is dum, like dummer than usual. I am grasping for the right word always. I said “status” instead of “stasis” this morning. I know this happens to all of us, but it’s like I cannot even access the correct word. I think as the tiredness lifts I will be able to let the bon mots fly again. In the meantime, I am going lente, lente.

Here is a fucked up thing that is not a complaint: this is SUCH a cliche, to the point where I hate to even waste finger motions on them, BUT. I am kind of grateful to have a little perspective reset. Did I want my vacation “ruined”? NO. Did I want pain pain pain and fear for six weeks. Um, no. But I feel like I’ve broken out of some little ruts and it’s changing my view. Okay, this is a super stupid one: I had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I LOVE oatmeal. I never have it. Mostly because I know I am a protein machine and I will be hungry again in an hour. Just carbs, generally, make me crashy and puffy, both temporarily and in the “oh dear these pants seem to have shrunk” sort of way. I am ruthless about looking for the most efficient nutrient bang for my buck.

This morning I said, YOU KNOW WHAT? BIG FUCKING DEAL. I AM GOING TO EAT THE CRAP OUT OF THIS OATMEAL. It was delicious. This is not a barrel of zen wisdom, I am sorry. Just monkeys.

In Other News
Yesterday I accidentally discovered via my bank account that I am getting royalties for some porn I published for Kindle last summer. I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if I had died a month ago and that was my legacy for P. to find? Sorry your babymother died, here is your $12 autopayment for March. HA HA.


My piece said, “rats.” Proper.

Give them an inch and they swim all over you

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Luncheon in bed.

Edith Ann.

Escandelo! Poor Horace, always eyepologizing for his sister.

A Guide to the Gentle Art of Driving in Seattle, Washington

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Many people are confused about the art, nay, the very concept of driving in Seattle, Washington. Never fear! I have been driving in Seattle since the amazing year 1996 and present myself as your humble guide to a world fraught with inconsistencies and potholes, metaphoric and literal.

I hear you ask, what, are there no established, official rules of the road in your fine berg? HA! HA! HA! Seriously, don’t be stupid. Those booklets are printed so the MVD will not suffer budget cuts, and to distract people from thoughts of suicide while they are waiting seven hours to have their driver’s license photo snapped.

Here are the rules:

1. There is a depressible button or panel in the middle of your steering that makes a sound colloquially known as a “honk” or “beep.” Take my word for that, because trust me, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO EVER USE THIS BUTTON. Doing so will result in distress and confusion among your fellow drivers or wayward pedestrians. You may discover that these pedestrians will also stop in front of you and take a photo of your license plate with a promise of “hella tweet-shaming” you. You should be ashamed of yourself, you noisy piece of wombat excrement.

2. If approaching a four-way stop, wait. And wait and wait. Do not make eye contact. It is okay to slouch slightly in your seat; maybe the other drivers will think you are not in your car and that you just parked “assertively.” Eventually the other cars will probably leave. Don’t worry, no one else really knows what to do at these things; just try to endure them until they put a proper stoplight in.

3. If approaching a five-way stop–no. Just no. Take a different route to your destination.

4. Freeway/Interstate. This has its own special subset of rules. The 60 mph speed “limit” is a suggestion, but it is suspected your car will explode if actually driven that fast. 45 mph is much better, at least in the fast lane (in other cities and states, the “fast” or “passing” lane is all the way to the left). If anyone is tailgating you in the fast lane, do not, under any circumstances, move over for them. This is a democracy, for God’s sake, and you got there first. It is your responsibility as a Seattle ambassador to teach others about right-lane passing.

Anything goes in the other lanes! You’ll get there eventually, right?

5. Merging. If a car arrives before you, it is permissible to let them merge first, UNLESS: you disagree with their “initiative” bumper stickers; unironic use of “baby on board” sign; they are driving a hybrid and are merging smugly; out-of-state license plate. As with all Seattle driving, do not make eye contact and cut them off as slowly as possible. This way, you simultaneously do not see them and are not culpable for the accident you may cause.

6. Native Customs. “Traffic was terrible” is a local empty pleasantry, like “How are you?” and “I think you gave me herpes.”

FAQs.

If I cannot honk, then can I use impolite gestures to communicate my displeasure with the complete ineptitude of these morons?

Yes, but watch our lips. If it is the rainy season and car windows are up, you will make out the phrase “fucking Californian.” If it is August (summer) and the windows are down, you will make out and possibly hear, “Well ‘Namaste’ to you as well, Ms./Mr./Ze Impatientpants.”

What should I do if I am at a stop sign and do not have the right of way? I should wait until it’s clear, right?

INCORRECT. Wait until a vehicle is approaching, and then ease out reaaaally slowly in front of the oncoming traffic, so they have to slow down or stop. Bonus points for crossing double yellows or multiple lanes.

Bikes should be treated as vehicles, correct?

Yes, until they leave the road and start swerving around on sidewalks, only to return to the street depending on what the stoplights are doing. Then they should be treated as supporting arguments for mass public sterilization.

What the fuck is the haps exactly; or, Cool Toilet Lives

Monday, September 9th, 2013

WHAT IS HAPPENING MY PEOPLE! School started. I’M REALLY HAPPY. It’s purely selfish. Okay, it’s medium selfish. The girls were bored, too. They were ready for school to start.

This daguerreotype is from the day that I blasted the girls awake with the Lion King. FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, Y’ALL.

FURCE, GIRLS. Way to go.

It’s going okay, except for the fact that they tried to slap Franny into an additional math class that starts before the actual start of school. To quote Buffy, “A world of no.” This in spite of the fact she is getting As and Bs. I sent an email to the principal asking her to remove Franny, in light of her grades and the fact that she is a year younger than her peers. Aaaand…crickets. You know, I am not interested in your test scores if it kills my kid’s interest in school. I’m just not.

On Saturday P. went hiking somewheres near Gold Bar and incidentally saw chanterelles as he went along and brought a few home. I was busy sauteeing them and putting them into eggs with green onions and sharp white cheddar on Sunday morning when BAM, krumpy walked in from PERU. How often does that happen? She brought the girls cute hats with llamas on and she brought me these, because clearly I am a fucking pimp with a limp:

What Krumpy doesn’t know (/secret camera show guy voice) is that I used to actually smoke cigarillos in high school. I mean, of course I did. Any ridiculous, sleazy thing I could think of to do, I would try. I cannot tell you what habits stuck; it’s a breach of my contract.

I met Krumpy in Internetsport about seven (!!) years ago when she lived on the East Coast and now she’s working in Eastern Washington. I visited her in August before we went to Long Beach and I got to drive the Elco. I had that tense new car feeling on the way out, but on the way back, I was broken in and really learned how to drive it. That’s the best feeling for someone who loves to drive I think. I smiled most of the way home, even all 3,000 times I had to stop for gas. (I have a new appreciation for the Honda, which I realize is my wife. The Elco is my mistress.) My only regret is forgetting my camera! But I will visit her again, soon I hope.

So she napped in my bed, because, seriously, Machu Piccu and then like 18 hours of travel and then took off to her work function thing downtown. And tweeted about food. Everyone who visits tweets about the food. It’s either obligation or terror. I don’t care much either way. Anyway this gives me hope as the proud future owner of a B&B.

Let’s talk about GUEST ROOMS, which I will have to put Krumpy in by Decmeber or so. This is all very germane because my contractor, who reminds me of Mike Ehrmantrout, emailed me today and says he has designs for my basement. This could not come a second too soon, because I parked the Elco tonight (no, I will never tire of saying that, but I will suppress the urge soon, I promise) and walked into the basement where I heard the unsettling sound of running water.

I froze. Was it the sink? No such luck. I have this sad little john in a tiny room (not referring to P. here) that is going to be replaced and BAM! It cracked.

Have you ever seen a toilet tank just crack like this? There have not been weather extremes or anything. This motherfucking toilet was just like FUCK IT, #YOLO, SNAP. The water flowed out of the tank onto the floor so I turned off the valve leading into the tank and flushed, to get a lot of the water out of the tank. Then I mopped and ran a fan into the water closet. So eh. Good timing that Mike E. is coming by in a couple of months to wreck shop.

Fortunately it was not the disaster I thought it might be and I was still able to go running. I am miraculously not injured in my old age at the moment so I am running again.

And then something amazing happened involving a Sharpie. When shit gets shitbozzled you can draw on it, it’s a rule.

Let’s rewind. Okay so in March I met Cool Toilet at 8 a.m., the mascot of my work neighborhood.

Then a few days later, SOMEONE SMASH COOL TOILET.

I was legit sad.

So tonight, I dropped broken sad john into the Fuckit Bucket. COOL TOILET LIVES!!!

NSA,

SJ

Poop Diamond and a Tiny Open P.S.

Friday, June 28th, 2013

An old friend of mine said something to me a few months ago that really resonated with me. Hard. She’s good about that sort of thing. She can see truths right through to their heart. I don’t think she would be friends with me if I was constantly delusional about everything, but once in a while she can give me a really good, loving shove that I need.

Sometimes I feel sorry for my friend (in a weird way), because I think 99% of the time she sees the truth of her own life so fricking clearly. Harsh-light-of-day clearly. I’ve never seen her let a bad relationship go on, or carry on lying to herself. She is her own Cassandra. Ok, maybe that’s a bad analogy, because she listens to herself. It’s better to have self-insight, I know, than the alternative.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to tell you what she said, but I had to shove that piece of coal up my ass for a while and see what came out. I was telling her about an unpleasant run-in I’d had with someone I used to know (I didn’t write about it–too much going on really). I was lamenting that I had let myself get into relationships in my twenties with a lot of people who were not so good for me, which, if I am being honest with myself, was a nice way of saying, “Were huge assholes who didn’t really respect or understand me.” I knew this was a pattern, and I’d had a nagging feeling there was a code I was not quite cracking there.

Some of the people I was attracted to were just not nice–one-sided relationships all the way. They would make me happy for a while. “Wow,” I’d tell myself. “They certainly have an interesting take on the world. Maybe I can learn how to be more assertive (or decisive, or less worried about what other people thought about me, or whatever) from them.” Oh, Narcissus, I could watch you watch yourself for hours! You really are the grooviest. I’d take in what they’d say and feel the little pings of red flags pop up. Then things would not go so well. That strong trait or traits they exhibited that I thought I could learn from would be turned on me once. Ouch. And then several more times. Well, we’re going to have to call it a day, then.

It made me nervous because I had seen my mother run through people like mad over the years–husbands, fiances, friends. Umm…her children. I thought maybe I didn’t really know how to be friends with people. Something was certainly wrong with me. Hadn’t I been told that over and over again growing up? And then again for years by my husband? I was “not funny.” I was “weird.” When I got up the courage to actually show my ex my writing it “did not make sense.” (Okay, that is certainly true sometimes.) Lucky for me I made some friends with people who were nice and not broken. These were also people I decided to pattern my grown-up self on as I moved through my twenties and beyond. And wow, I am still friends with most of them, in a pretty normal, mutually-accepting way.

So to get back to my friend and what she said–I was kind of lamenting the fact that this creep ex-friend had made a little pecking intrusion back into my life via an email, and why was I always so bad at relationships (present company I was moaning to excepted). Then she said it. “You know, SJ, I don’t want to pathologize you, but you really didn’t have the best examples for normal relationships growing up.”

Saying that this was a light bulb moment would be greatly oversimplifying things, but it rung, like a clear little bell, and then kept ringing and resonating. I’ve heard similar from other people, and I’ve told myself that, but that sentence was exactly what I needed to hear from that friend on that day. I kept getting into relationships with people who were like my mother: self-involved, mean, unaccepting. I tried to pull away from her multiple times in my teens and twenties only to have my ex really disapprove of that choice, because he was a mirror of her.

Reader, I married my mother.

For a long time I thought my ex was a sociopath, because of the lack of empathy and some of his interesting life and moral choices, but lately, after following one disjointed thought and coincidence and conversation scrap after another–you know that feeling where you are kind of chaining along to some kind of conclusion? Just me? I hope not. Anyway, I’ve been reading about narcissists and I think I may have a bingo there. Or the closest I’l get to a bingo, anyway. I could tell you dozens of anecdotes and how they relate to each symptom, and at some point I might, for my own entertainment.

Anyway, I tell you this because I like to say when I have realized things, even if I think I might reevaluate things later. But these feels pretty right; it feels like some information I was missing, or at least a label on things. The good news is that on my own over the years I’ve developed coping techniques that are pretty similar to what’s recommended for dealing with a narcissist. Keeping things very brief, like our last exchange before school let out, when he had to scold me one more time and I basically gave him no reaction.

His wife is now opening calling him a lazy asshole in front of the children. Girl, I am breaking the fourth wall, okay? If you can read this a) you are driving too close and b) you should probably read this. All of it. Good fuck’n luck comrade.

I do wonder how Franny’s doing over there for her month! P. sent her a care package and I’ve texted but it is silent. I’m hoping she’s tired and happy.

In Other News

“If you come in to this room without knocking I will make meatballs out of you.”

Have you been to small claims court? Advice?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Okay, two things. I was wrong about who the killer was in my Miss Marple book. I peeped ahead because I was trying to see the strings. Next time I will peep ahead harder. Or maybe just read a summary. I am moving on to The Magician’s Wife now, a lesser James M. Cain. Still feels like him though. I would like to punch people with words like that. I feel like I can see grime on people in his stories.

Thing two is, have you been to small claims court? Do you know someone who has? I know every district and judge differs somewhat, but I am looking for any experience I can take away. I know it’s supposed to be “layperson-friendly” but I don’t want to step in anything.

Weekend at Fogcon

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

This weekend was a cavalcade of contradictions. I was really, really excited to be out of town and with geeks and in a terrible hotel (terrible in the way that all national chains that hold conferences can be) and yet I was feeling very shy and introverted. Other than my one friend who invited me down, I didn’t know anyone there. The theme was “law, order, and crime,” and it featured panels like “Charismatic Criminals — Why We Love Them ” and “Anarchists! Innnn! Spaaaaace!” As I said this morning I think the best thing that happened is that it resuscitated my love of writing and for that it was worth all the costs of the trip, both financial and social.

I mostly went to panels and talked to people on occasion, and spent a lot of time by myself reading, or people watching at the bar at night, which I love. I met some new people I really liked and found out about cons in Seattle that I didn’t know about. On Friday night the bar was full of middle-aged people, mostly white, with a sick cover band composed of older gentlemen (always a good sign for quality). They started with mellower jazz covers and as the bar got drunker they started to crank it up and cover Barry White and so on. There was grinding in the Marriott. I slept well (unground).

On Sunday night the conference was over, but due to circumstances beyond my control I didn’t have a place to stay, so I stayed over in the hotel again.

“Old-fashioned?” the bartender said as I sat down.

“Yep.”

I was reading the book of an author I was lucky enough to meet over the weekend at the con on my phone when the bar erupted in applause. I turned to see a crowd of people dressed formally. A bride walked in holding a baby in one of those baby bucket things. An older gentleman raised a glass and announced, “I’ve gained a grandson and a daughter-in-law all at once!” Everyone applauded again. Did she have the baby as soon as she was married? DURING? Was it not his son’s baby? Was the baby not acknowledged until the wedding? It is a mystery.

In other news

Strudel is 8!!!!

“Music and woman I cannot but give way to, whatever my business is.”

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
― Dorothy Parker

Sometimes, not very often (I hope), I am in denial about something pretty major. This is typically when I am in some kind of holding pattern, waiting for something to change. I think that’s somewhat normal–do you want to spend a bunch of time really chewing at something if you know it will go away in a month or two? You have to decide how to aim yourself, how to prioritize.

I think that’s what happened with this court thing. It all flared up, like the worst case of roids ever, in the fall of 2011, when SeaFed arbitrarily decided it would be marvy to have Franny half of the time again. Then I had a date dangled in front of me: October 2012. That would be the trial–the final, drop dead, leave no forwarding address because this would be OVER. And then we got probably the world’s worst GAL in the history of them. I am not talking about any kind of judgement or decision against me, since I see that on legal bulletin boards around: “How do I get rid of my GAL (who is finding against me).” No. There were no findings at all. Poof! She vanished.

Felling the apple tree

So we continued, and continued…got passed to another commissioner. Franny is now so old she needs to sign the court paperwork as well, at least some of it. My lawyer, Lady Jesse Pinkman, has found a new GAL, who is also a lawyer and who I hope understands professional integrity and shit. “Yo this new GAL totally has her shit together BITCH.” I have not met with her just yet because I found out SeaFed is holding things up.

The emails that are flying around tell kind of an interesting story. Last week I get a forward from my lawyer and it’s a conciliatory communication between her and the court, apologizing that deadlines have not been met, and asking if we’ve done everything we needed to, and no, she has not heard anything at all from Mr. SeaFed. He’s missing deadlines and ignoring emails. The new trial date is set for June, but he fuffed a deadline last month for signing off and any GAL, our pick or otherwise. He did not suggest his own, as far as I know.

I think something else is going on, besides his attention span waning. I keep hearing sad reports from the other house about empty refrigerator and her stepmother sleeping until noon, which, I know at one point she held down a nine to five. I am obviously projecting so hard that hang up a sheet, I can show Life of Pi out my ass, but it sounds like 2003 at my old house over there. How can I describe to you the feeling of having a body next to you who acts human but isn’t really there? Like some kind of meat golem who can, when prompted, carpool children and make easy dinners (assuming there is more than one potato and a couple of backyard eggs in the fridge), but who you can’t really connect with. Is something missing? What could be wrong when you have everything? Is it your fault? Do you really need that intimacy with someone (A: yes).

Chickens peck the wreckage

“They talk about money, money, not enough money, I spent the money, oldest daughter over there [name redacted], money…and that’s about it,” Franny told me one night in the car when I gently suggested that maybe her stepmother was not “lazy” but sad instead. “I think my stepmom doesn’t cry ever because she knows it won’t help anything and my dad won’t do anything about it. Well, she cried when her dad died, but that’s about all I’ve seen.” I bet she cries.

Anyway, here it is 2013, and I am still in that holding pattern. I killed my cookbook in 2011 when court came up, prioritizing Franny’s happiness over creative endeavors. My heart broke over that a little, but my heart was breaking over all kinds of things, so I let it go. You know, I have not done a fucking thing since then. Um, okay, bought a house and that has sucked up some time. But I’ve had a million ideas for terrible short stories, blogs, projects, etc. And here I stew in my own juices.

So, out of denial I guess. There is a part of me that is tiny depressed because I have nothing outside of work and the girls. Getting out of denial is kind of an extra pain, like scraping yourself while shoving through a hole in a fence. I am practically a hermit this winter, which I am enjoying fussing with my house, yet, where did that extroverted asshole go who can accept social engagements and meet new people? I am very quiet and my shadow is very light. I am having nightmares about not creating anything. I think about painting, like I used to do one million years ago. I got a book on home taxidermy. My consolation right now is that I am tearing through books like a fiend, which tells me something may turn around soon. At my nadir last fall I was not even reading anything of substance. At least I am getting interested in the world again. I think I am operating at about 40% of my capacity. My businesslike self that can deal with children and bills and work and my core friendships is doing pretty well…it’s just the creative side of me that’s depressed.

Recently I steeled myself and finally walked into Book Larder, which, yes, is a very Seattle bookstore that sells mostly cookbooks. I dreamed of having my cookbook in the front window as they were opening. I walked in and I immediately encountered someone’s books who had broken out chapters of Beeton’s book in an small and easily-digestible format. Beeton’s Book of Desserts, Beeton’s Book of Meats, etc. It was okay to see that. I found a terrible update of the book of household management that was Frankensteined into something 1920sish well after her death. It was very expensive as it was a collectible and irritated me, as if someone was selling paintings done in shit that were supposed to be reinterpretations of Sketches of Spain. SIT DOWN, syphilitic Samuel Beeton.

But something good happened there at the Book Larder, and it was this painful week that I was crawling out of denial that my creativity, at least, was depressed, when my eye lit on a book about beekeeping for beginners, which is something I have been thinking about since I lived in Fremont. I think this is the year. I have energy to give to bees, and in a couple of years, they will have honey to give to me. And someday this whole court thing will be over and I will be on fire again.

The apple tree’s rot went through to the middle. But I am resilient as ever.

Love,
SJ

Coda