“Shee, you guys are so unhip it’s a wonder your bums don’t fall off.”


School happened again a couple of weeks ago, as it does five times a year. Three weeks post-surgery, but I knew there was no way I could make it up. It was the second part of the architectural unit, and now we’re done with that. I was super dreading it because the first part of architecture week was pretty hard, and also it’s miserable being indoors with a bunch of guys who smell like flowers and cigarette smoke.

We usually start with a classroom test, but this time we started in the shop, a refresher on what we’d done for the first part of architecture. I made another piece of coping (the cap that protects the top of a parapet) and it was frankly terrible. For my coping final last time, I got a D on it. This time I got a C. I can do better, but I didn’t. I knew the measurements were off, but the big machines that we use to cut and bend metal were kicking my ass. I showed my teacher my light duty/surgery letter, and he said, “You’re on your own with that one.”

Morale was feeling extra poop-scented, because one of our classmates left at the beginning of the week for a job at Boeing with a major pay cut. We attend classes with the same people every time. We have each other’s phone numbers. I’ve started a homework group at my house that involves, “let’s get this done together and then have some damn dinner and yak.”

I’m smart; those who can’t, network. I think I’ll have a new high of 4-5 people over next month. I like these people so much. Our teachers marvel at how well we all get along and help each other. I hear about their jobs, their babies, their dying relatives. I catch them up on my life. When we get stressed out in the shop we yell lines from Silence of the Lambs at each other. I play Clarice.


This is the time when people start getting weeded out who can’t make it through the apprenticeship for whatever reason. I heard a teacher make a comment that they don’t even tell us the “secrets” of the union and our trade until next year, the third year, for this reason. Please please don’t let there be Xenu at the end of this tunnel. I can’t take it.

Making coping was a new low for me. I was worried about how the week would go because I knew our next task was to take what little we knew about mitering and cover a small house in metal so it would, in theory, shed and repel water. We split up into groups and I jumped into flashing. We made the supports that held other people’s parts, as well as the finishing touches that would cover roof seams and corners. I did the math for our group since we had to calculate measurements and square feet of material used, as well as turn in sketches for the drafting test on Friday.

I lobbied for an all black house with a death star theme, but some people wanted silver. Adding silver turned out to be a great idea. In my head I was thinking about Disaster Area’s all-black ship from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, but I figured no one would know what that was. Developing burnout motifs to decorate the house with kept the teacher busy, so he was happy (he encouraged us to make use of the burn table).

We almost ran out of time on Friday, but finished it with about five minutes to spare. The teacher bumped our grade because we all rallied around the guy who did an extremely elaborate dormer and helped him finish. It was like the British Bake-off but probably more swearing and screws flying everywhere. Less ice cream cake chucked in the trash.

The week followed a sharp uphill trajectory after Monday. I aced a quiz, and then got near-perfect scores on my Friday math (missed one) and 100 on my drafting. I have been averaging Bs, respectable, but barely limping through, miserable with being cooped up indoors and struggling to remember basic math stuff.

What changed? Repetition with the math certainly helps. We’re at that phase now where we’re building on what we’re learning. First year was triangle basics–critical, but pretty easy. Now we’re expected to apply triangles to things like the house project and more complicated math.

The other piece that’s helping is pain reduction and medication. I’m already doing so much better with daily pain levels post-hysterectomy and leg vein procedure. Strudel and I went to see a mast cell specialist in Oregon in late March and he prescribed some asthma medication and a rescue inhaler for me. It’s helping at work and school. Moringa and other flavinoids seem to be helping a lot as well–I have fewer hives now.

The one thing that’s still hard and exhausting is work. They threw me on harder stuff last week and I hit the wall and left before lunch on Friday. I thought I could handle it but it was too fast paced and heavy, and I started feeling pain in my lower abdomen, and making a lot of dumb mistakes. My body’s been dumping the fluid I accumulated post-surgery as well (I gained ten pounds almost instantly after surgery and my body’s been “puffy,” not just in my stomach area). I woke up a couple of days last week with my face visibly swollen, which was weird, and now have been peeing a lot. I’ve been sleeping A LOT. But overall I’m glad to be back to work. I’m going to push to be back on true light duty next week.


Around New Year’s I get reflective about what I’m doing and what I want to be doing. I’ve been thinking about starting a podcast for a long time, so I finally did. My friend Debbie and I are recapping the old TV show Roseanne. It’s called Queen for a Damn Day.

Kind of like when I was running the Victorian blog, it’s giving me a way to fuel one of my hobbies, as well as a closer collaboration with an old friend. I like that I’m more up on what she’s doing and thinking, rather than just peering through social media and talking too infrequently. She’s a very creative person who likes to develop ideas like I do. Our viewpoints are similar, but not identical, so while we are enjoying talking about feminism, class issues, sitcom history, the show, 80s fashions, and our dogs, we’re coming at things from different angles.

We’re mostly keeping politics out of it, even though I KNOW I KNOW there’s a LOT of issues with Roseanne Barr and politics. Debbie and I get a big heaping helping of that elsewhere so we’re trying to provide a respite from that for others to some extent.

It’s conversational and evolving over time. We’re discussing season 1 and season 10 concurrently, and will just keep going with it until we don’t want to anymore. Her husband pointed out that 10+ seasons could mean 4 years if we did them weekly, but right now we’re aiming for putting out three a week, which will go faster.

This is probably a small selection of the Venn diagram of people who still read this blog (hi!), like Roseanne still, and like podcasts, but I thought I’d let you know what I’m up to and that I’m not dead fro the neck up. There’s no ads (as usual I am a completely apathetic about monetizing myself outside of my, you know, actual job) and it’s available off our site to stream or DL or at almost any podcast spigot. We’re on twitter: @QFADDpod. I like to warn people that we are over-enthusiastic amateurs, so hopefully the production values will improve over time as we learn more.

I also like to tell people we’re the best Roseanne podcast out there. No matter that we are the only one out there. Happy spring.


The daisy deadheads are sprouting. That’s a new one.

I told myself I’d wait a week before posting and I barely made it, just to give a little time to let the chemicals start swishing around. I went to the doctor on Wednesday after posting and I got put through the same sized fun factory hole that most people diagnosed with adhd get. Go in as a delectable scented blob that never comes out of carpet, extrude out as Adderall-flavored spaghetti.

She gave me the “this is a controlled substance” spiel so there’s a couple of extra hoops and I guess I’m supposed to be on the lookout for medicine cabinet pirates. (Spoiler alert: keeping the bottle in the ol’ meat wallet because there’s nothing like popping a warm Adderall in the a.m.)

?? I don’t know either.

The good news is that people who actually have adhd are less likely to abuse it. The bad news is that I am now noticing stuff like this everywhere. (TL;DR: Writer chooses to take Adderall without diagnosis, has a bad time, presents self as n=1 study.) I am hearing the NYT generally has a hate-on for Adderall. I guess you can’t sell news about people who are having an OK time. This kind of shit always made me go, “Yeesh, Adderall sounds bad, mkay?”

I had been warned about EUPHORIA. Well. We’re no strangers to love (or stimulants), so Day 1 was more like Mr. Toad’s Moderately-Amusing-But-Home-Before-Curfew Ride. I don’t feel really happy or sad, just calm. If something happens, I do have an emotional response, so I’m not zombie’d out either. I told Pete I felt like I was on wheels, like the alien spy girl in Mars Attacks! I was pretty shocked at what I’ve been putting myself through by self-medicating for so many years, because this is far superior to that. People say Adderall is really harsh and the comedown was a bitch on the first day, only because I wasn’t able to eat on schedule. Once I ate I felt better. I had about three days of new afternoon headaches but now I feel fine. Right now I have to remember to eat and breakfast and lunch tastes like cardboard, but I am told this will pass too.

My doctor said, “Let’s try extended release every day for a month, instead of the weekend breaks some people take.” I am VERY glad about this, because when I’m with friends and family is when I least want to be a confused bitch. Historically, I’ve been most functional at work, since I know people are expecting me to produce something. I can feel it wearing off in the evening, but it’s such a relief to have had many hours of calm, accomplished focus that I think I’m happier at night knowing I’ve had a pretty good day.

Here’s what’s not happening: I am not accomplishing everything that’s been on my to-do list for the last three years. I’m not walking through glass doors. I haven’t plucked all the hairs out of my arm. Guilty as charged: I did write my friend a six-paragraph email this morning. But we DO have some things to discuss, honest.

Here’s what is happening that is surprising. I have realized I get frustrated approximately 7000 times a day. The first day, Thursday, I decided to wear some boots to the noir festival. They didn’t go on quite right and part of the boot turned inside out and went under my foot. I felt a little BZZT in my head. It was like a little placeholder: INSERT TITTY BABY MENTAL TANTRUM HERE. Normally this would really annoy me, to the point where I might swear. Instead I just…fixed it. WHAT. This keeps happening. Maybe someday I won’t get the placeholder anymore?

I drove Franny to school that morning. I have a long, LONG history of hating Seattle driving. It’s terrible. I have even become part of the problem as I find myself going ten under often for no reason. I did not care about traffic Thursday morning. It wasn’t horrendous or light. It was just there, and I drove through it. I realized I wasn’t bored, even though I could reason with myself and say, yes, this driving is routine and boring.

Here’s a funny one: I hate writing, like with a pen. I love typing (CLICKY NOISES! FAST!), but I actually feel a sense of dread if I have to write a card or note. My brain skips around, which causes me to omit letters or words. Somehow it feels like a struggle to even hold the pen and drive it around, like my fine motor skills don’t work quite right. This goes back to being a kid as I tried and failed to keep a journal several times. I really wanted to write about my life, but it was pretty hard (hooray for blogging!). I didn’t start consistently writing fiction until high school when I realized I could use word processing software.

As a result of all this, I have serial killer writing most of the time. On Sunday night I wrote a note for Strudel, and I felt that little BZZT in my brain. “This is going to be frustrating and I am probably going to misspell things.”

However, I composed a fine note, and when I sat back I noticed something: my writing was better. It was…kind of fun to write again. I decided to test this a little. Obviously I knew I was testing myself, but I tried to put myself in the frame of mind that I was writing a routine note or a letter.

OK, it’s a little blurry but maybe you can see what I’m getting at. Top is last night, bottom is this morning. The top is actually better than usual, sadly.

I went to the grocery store on Monday, started at one side, and hit every item on my list in order. It was so fast. This is embarrassing: I used to take lists to the store, sometimes grouped by section, and I would STILL miss items. I spent a lot of time in grocery stores, circling around, backtracking, “ONE MORE THING!”

And now, a weird thing, that I’m not sure that I like. My head feels like a huge chunk of ferrous metal and whatever is loudest and most attention-grabbing (the biggest magnet) is going to drag my head towards it. On Thursday I had to go to a mini-conference for work. What a perfect day to start taking a new psychotropic drug, the day you go off to be trapped in a ballroom with 50 new people! Naturally I was dreading this, because normally I suck at people’s names, dealing with the boredom of sitting for long periods of time, and stammering when I speak as I forget words. I can fill up multiple pages with doodles at functions like these, like I did during my week of orientation last month.

A folk singer was part of the programming, which I was not looking forward to. She was obviously talented and had been at her craft for a long time, but generally I just don’t care for folk music. This is normally the point where I look like I’m listening, but I’m actually on a spaceship with Samuel L. Jackson and a unicorn. Escape! My brain is the best at it. It has inbuilt peril-sensitive sunglasses! I was already feeling pretty good, because I hadn’t been wracked with anxiety while talking to people, like I normally am.

However, I could not get away. I tried to count things on the ceiling. I thought about doodling. But I heard every activist-y lyric, every folksy guitar strum. This is what was in my own Room 101, I thought. But I didn’t get irritated, and it ended. Things keep ending, and I can move on, calmer and less exhausted. I’ll be interested to see how I feel after a month of this, and I’ll try to update then. And probably before then, because it’s not currently a struggle to form a sentence.

Wood’s here

Spinning School Dropout

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

Still trying to decide on an actual banner. Indecisive!!

I am having a festival of exercise right now. I have time, programs are running HELLA specials, and I have about two months to get fitter before I get dumped out in a job site. I am told repeatedly that being a slow loris can really increase your odds of getting laid off. I have time and a wee bit of cash to throw at this, so why not get as fit as possible in the next eight weeks?

I decided to try spinning class on Monday. SPINNING. What? I haven’t been on a bike in about 15 years, no joke. I was like EHHH I can pedal in place for an hour.


“For those of you who are new…,” the instructor said, “Your butts will stop hurting after you come a few times.”

(That’s what she said)

I could not get comfortable right off the bat. Sit high? Ow. Sit forward? Ow. Stand up? TIRING! Spin class is not for little bitches. If you’re doing an activity that is supposed to be sitting down and you cannot, you’re gonna have a bad time.

To my credit (yeah right) I made it forty minutes. Then I was like, “Is this fun?” NO. Some exercise is not fun, and sometimes you’ll have a bad day no matter what. I’ve had terrible runs where I just give up. “This is now an adult walk. All runners please get out of the pool.” There are worse things than walking.

The most important question I asked myself was, “Will I feel a sense of accomplishment when the hour is up, and will I want to return to this?” NO. Deal breaker!

I did TRX yesterday, which is a cross between the circus and push ups. Uhhh…more fun than I just made that sound. It ticked my boxes for “fun” and “I will do this again.” I’m in a brief January series just to get started and the personal trainer is really nice. I found new muscles yesterday. Seriously, I wonder what these muscles are that are hurting??!!

One more thing–I’m also back in my old yoga series, this time with Pete. He went alone last month, and now we’re in together. When worlds collide! I always did so many things on my own for years because I had this weird anti-social territoriality somehow…like a dog that thinks its dinner is going to be taken away. Or a person who grew up compartmentalizing everything. Yoga was my city mistress and then I would come home and not talk about it. Sigh.

“How was yoga?”

“FINE.” *glares* *acts weird*

Pete came home and talked about yoga every day he went. He talks about things he does like a normal person, annoying me for years, which is completely unreasonable. I think I had this view of relationships that a person should strive to engage the other person and talk about only interesting or essential things, and be quiet otherwise, whereas he is very transparent and needs to brain dump and chatter. Two definitions of how a relationship works.

I spend a lot of time going “Mmmhmm” at home (but actually listening) because all the chatter flows my way. My children are finally reaching an age where they go, “Oh, how was your day?” It’s really nice. Sometimes I don’t have a lot to say, but sometimes a thing happened.

One time a few years ago I tried an experiment. “What if we don’t talk about work for a month? And see if we talk about other things?”

“Not at all?” he said, alarmed.

“Well, we should tell each other if we get fired or something.”

He ALMOST DIED. Of exploding. I felt bad and gave up, I think before the month was over. I was very happy, because tech world is boring, and we were pretty much in the same field. Now I feel much more patient about it, in part because I can follow and remember everything really well (no brain fog) and I feel helpful because I can remind him of past instances like “That sounds like when X did Y a few months ago” and he’s like “Ohhh yeah.” My head used to kind of swim like it always did when he’d tell me long stories about coding triumphs or a heinous meeting. It was hard to keep an oar in.

Point of all of this being, when my brain changed some I think I got more patient with what he needs from me, which is to be a repository of his day and be heard. That’s definitely something I can give.

I was raised to be seen and not heard, and preferably not seen, either. This is my chatter box. In 2001 I didn’t think anyone would read it, but I figured if someone told me to stop that babbling or to go to my room, it wouldn’t matter. And it hasn’t.

In Other News

1. Franny spent a week at her dad’s over New Year’s and has returned sick again, unfortunately. She is really messed up this time–super depressed, achy, congested, bloated. Her scalp was a flaky, itchy mess from shampoo that we’re allergic to. They use fabric softener and fragranced soaps there. I feel so bad for her. She seemed kind of okay at dinner and then burst into great sobbing tears and went to bed shortly after. She’s usually so chipper when she’s not glutened and corned. She’s having lung tightness like I do when I get corned and that coupled with a cold she picked up from her other sisters that is making her a little croupy (they are always ill), she is frustrated.

The night her dad dropped her off (Sunday) she was a little out of her mind and seemed drunk or stoned. She was rambling on and unable to finish her sentences or complete a thought, and was laughing at nothing, and running into walls.

“People were really nice for New Year’s and they brought me dishes I could eat.”

“That’s nice,” I said. “Do they keep wheat-free kitchens?”


“You seem glutened, honey,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said, and sighed.

I took over the dishes for her last night, but I had done so much exercise yesterday I could barely lift my arms, and then Pete tagged in.

I am trying to patch her up a little. I remind her to take magnesium, a bath, vitamins, eat some dark chocolate, vent. She knows what’s happening, and knows she doesn’t have an external event or situation depressing her, but it doesn’t make the depression less real. I had it about a month ago when I ate some bad nuts. I thought they were just coated with salt but in hindsight they were really too “dusty” looking. I crawled into bed and slept eleven hours. What was the point of getting up or dressed? I would never become an electrician. Would I even ever shower again? Eventually, I did.

She is lucky in that she’s going to a high school where if she needs to take a breather and step out in the halls and cry a little or just get some fresh air, she can. The penalty is that you miss part of your lesson, rather than getting slapped with detention. Her school is a “last chance” for some kids who have flunked out of regular public schools, or have had bullying problems, etc. She’s a good kid who does all her homework, but the flexibility there makes it the right place for her medical issues.

She spent years coming back from her dad’s house and being a teary wreck, and I thought a lot of it was the high amounts of sugar she would eat there. Now it’s even more extreme since she goes from being well to sick, instead of low-level sick/irritated to worse.

In summary, this is what the last four days have been like.

2. I liked this short story today from a long time internet acquaintance. Reminds me of when Franny was small. When Strudel was small, I was fielding questions about police justice and morality, how many ways there are to die, and what I thought she should study in college that would apply to becoming a supervillain. Now she’s just looking forward to swim lessons. WHEW. I come from dark genetics.

3. I have one more thing to say about yoga. I started yoga about ten years ago because I hurt myself in a kickboxing class, after an attempt to get really fit for the first time in my life. It turns out there was a reason I never did that before. I was just too fragile and prone to strains, joint pain, pulled muscles, and constant throbbing back pain. On Monday, for the first time ever in these past ten years, I did yoga without ANY pain. It was crazy. I kept expecting my wrists to go dead, my back to tweak, my hips to pop. Nothing. Before it was the lowest bar of what I could manage to do for exercise, and I felt like I had to “do something.” Now it’s fun and enjoyable. I GET IT. I GET YOGA NOW.

Came to a fork in the road, picked it up

I was getting to that point where I was really trying to figure out my next move, since I don’t really know what’s coming next. Another tech contract, keep looking for a manufacturing gig, what? Feeling a little silly about having quit my job a week ago as reality set back in, but extremely relieved at the same time.

Then I get an email, and assumed it was spam. NOPE. Invitation to interview at the electricians’. Thank god, I was getting increasingly pathetic. I mean, who doesn’t like being in their robe at 3 in the afternoon? But still.

So I am going to review everything I know about interviewing, interviewing for a trade, and interviewing for them. I think I can get picked up. I need to make sure I have the right outfit that fits. I’ve seen the dudes there on interview day literally in three-piece suits. It’s hard because anything that formal on the lady side gets pretty feminine usually. I’ll figure something out.

I’m hoping I will out on a job next month or February, or at least on the list. In the meantime, I have paid for all xmas presents already with my ill-gotten tech gains. When I came home last week and told the girls I’d quit, one of the first things Franny said was, “Are we going to be able to have…Christmas?” YES YOU GOOSE. That’s the news.

A Note Upon His Desk, P.S.

“There’s only one thing more boring than listening to other people’s dreams, and that’s listening to their problems.”

Sue Townsend/Adrian Mole

Ok remember last time on I, Asshole when there was little bitch whining? What, that was ALL the posts? Wow, you are cheeky, aren’t you? WHAT IS THE POINT IF NO DRAMZ?

Here is a thing that happened. I walked into work on Tuesday expecting a normal day, and got a fuckton of work piled on. “This is going to take all day,” I told my co-temp. How wrong I was; it was much more than a normal day. My boss left us, without clear instructions on how to finish. Over thirteen hours later, after helping my co-temp, I left, and left my badge on my boss’s desk, after cleaning the scant belongings out of my own desk.

The next day I talked to my recruiter, whom I’ve known since ’09, since I like to do-si-do between FTE work and contracts. “Well, it’s too bad you didn’t give notice,” he said. “You’re blacklisted with Amazon now.” I was worked over thirteen hours and have a black mark now for walking out. “Are you interested in X Other Company?” he asked. “Everything pays more than Amazon.”

NEAT. So I slept in after my walk off, and prepped some fangsgiving.

WHAT HAPPENED THO? The usual, a motherfucking car wreck.

“MA’AM were you involved in this accident?”

“No, I just live here. I heard the crash but I didn’t see anything.”



I have to say, learn to take a left across my street. Any street. It’s the same thing, over and over. I hear the crunch crash and I think to myself “Christ I hope I won’t have to see PETE performing CPR on someone’s lifeless body again. The son of a physician with a conscience…yes, he is going to run out and deal with someone’s ragdoll body. The die is cast once the crash happens. Apparently the neighbors have a first aid kit for this street. FUCK.

I heard the crash so loudly because we were in the backyard preparing to walk the dogs, since my food was prepped and it was very sunny. We left the scene and the dogs flushed a really beautiful speckled, but mostly white, pigeon from the bushes. When we came back I saw a hawk on the ground where it was with what looked like insulation or something…it was the pigeon exploded. Dreams of getting shot in the chest on my birthday and then death pigeons on Thanksgiving. I am getting weird(er).

I spatchcocked the turkey. Franny said, let’s give it a bikini tanline.

This means…wow…I cooked it for 80 minutes. So nice. I’m not sure about the tan lines. Franny said I should tell everyone it was a FAIL since I posted the pre-cooked turkey on Twitter. I think there’s no failures on the internet, only “so, that happened”s.

Anyway, we had a nice time.

I made my special dairy-free potatoes, which involves nutritional yeast, broth, and a lot of salt and pepper. I made “stuffing” out of rice and quinoa, and a lot of spices. I made two types of cranberry sauce. The turkey was VERY juicy.

Pete made a weird fruitcake that was “Jamaican” out of Moosewood. Rum, pineapples, molasses. I’m not going to explain this shit to you.

We’re watching Jessica Jones now, and I’m really excited to see some Marvel repulp that actually applies to me. I mean I will watch angsty dudes but I like to see women too. I love Krysten Ritter and I love hard-boiled, so it’s working for me. I too had SPECIAL ISSUES and used to be a peeping tom. The road not taken.

Waiting to hear on work tomorrow or Monday. What’s it like to be having the longest midlife crisis ever? What’s it like to feel like a crashing failure at this point? Line up and I will give interviews for a donkey ride or a coffee.

I know you’re hanging on tittyhooks but since I have souped out of my job like a little bitch I have time to finish getting the first podcast up tomorrow and apparently we are recording #2 as well. So. Stay tuned. Thanks for glancing awkwardly and acting like this is working.

Advice Wednesdays: August 11, 2009

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–”


“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.


“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.


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.


“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.”


“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.


“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.”


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

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.

Asshole Girl

And Introducing Monkey #10

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.

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

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.”


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.