You just popped in the Kanye West get right for summer workout tape

A. Nobody Wants a Little Tight Ass

WARNING: There’s going to be pictures of my sad leg down this post. Trigger warning for white, Northern hemisphere, middle-aged lady leg, and to a lesser degree surgical incisions and bruising.

I just had minor varicose vein surgery in my left leg on Thursday. It’s kind of unfortunate timing, because I’m set to have my uterus out on Pi Day (March 14th). My veins started blowing out in my legs a couple of years before I got really sick, which doesn’t surprise me. Everything got pretty flimsy and inflamed and messed up then, and I felt like I wanted to put out all the fires but more kept popping up.

There is a PROCESS you go through to get a vein stripped. When I walked in to the clinic a few months ago, both of my legs hurt at the end of the day and sometimes all day, but I can’t see through my skin (YET!) so I didn’t know exactly what was happening. It turns out my right leg has a baby varicose vein going on but the left leg had a whole turnpike situation. Also it was leaking blood into my leg continuously (as they are wont to do) and so it hurt a lot and always looked like some gorilla had squeezed my calves for a minute or ten.

So, as we all know, the insurance companies do not want to pay for an actual existing condition that won’t get better. They want to say, “Here, bite this stick for three months, and in time you will be adjusted to biting the stick and you will love the stick so much you’ll forget you wanted us to pay for something in the system you pay for access to.”

The num-num stick was: support hose. I was supposed to undergo a trial of wearing them and hopefully at the end of three months I would forget all about my pain. That did not happen. In fact, most days the support hose on my left side felt worse, and I still had a lot of deep throbbing pain at the end of the day, even if I hadn’t worked a whole day. So when the nurse called me and asked if I was still having pain and did I want to proceed with the left leg I said YES.

To be fair, my right leg is improved. It doesn’t have pain at the end of the day. The bruising has greatly reduced. I will keep wearing a compression sleeve on that side.

Of course the only day my leg surgeon was available this month was six days before the hysterectomy. I thought about it for a bit because on one hand, I knew it would be hard to have two procedures done in one month, but on the other, I can only take so much time off work and they both involve some resting, so I might as well go for it.

Stripping is what it sounds like. They yank the vein out. For whatever reason they didn’t send me prescriptions for Xanax, an antibiotic, and numbing cream beforehand like they were supposed to, but I never let that hold me back from having a good time. The doctor had me check the ingredients in Versed and then dosed me up with a little of that. It was nice because I was nervous when I came in, and then in about five minutes I didn’t care about the tugging sensations and snapping noises I heard below my knee.

My heart rate went up really high for a few minutes (histamine dump?). I felt myself getting sleepy in the chair as they were working on me. My Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses were kicking in. I had to walk for 20 minutes post-procedure and then I was yawning and barely awake all the way home. I came home and shut the fuck down. My body went NOPE and I went to that really swift mast cell narcolepsy place where I’m asleep in 30 seconds. Minor trauma buys me a 20 minute trip to BuhByeport, but this had me out for an hour and a half. I did not get corned! No hives! Good job leg clinic! It was just regular old trauma that caused me to degranulate and knock out, ha ha.

Hole up and camp? Y

I have eight small incisions in my leg now. I had to wear bandages and thigh-high compression hose for 24 hours, and then I was allowed to take a shower last night. My nurse told me watery blood coming through the bandages was okay, because that was leakage from the saline solution they pump around the vein, but bright, original recipe blood was not. I did have some real deal breakthrough bleeding on one incision that came all the way through the gauze wrap, but it looked like it stopped pretty early. I’m guessing it happened the first afternoon/night when animals were jumping on me before I could stop them.

I’m already making it around okay, but I don’t want to overdo it. Just sitting here, or walking around the house, I’m not in any pain currently. I took the dogs for a short walk yesterday with my sister and it was fine. The nurse told me to “stay on top of pain” by taking pain killers 3x a day, because supposedly the pain peaks today or tomorrow. I am able to take Goody’s powders since they don’t seem to contain corn. Tonight is Strudel’s birthday dinner and I probably won’t be making sushi this year, but I’ll help with the menu.

This morning as I was waddling around like Danny Devito’s Penguin, I kept wondering why my left leg was messed up but not my right. What happened in there? Was it congenital? Did I stand and walk unevenly? Probably. It doesn’t matter. I go back in a week for a check in, then 60 days, then on 90 days they do laser cleanup with any bruising that’s still visible. So not only should I have way less pain, but it will also look like the gorilla stopped squeezing me.

After I took off the compression stocking and Coban. Ruh roh, blood.

Top of leg (duh)

Black line is a sharpie road map for the surgeon.

Don’t fight over me, boys and girls, there’s plenty to go around.

B. Give head, stop breathe, get up, check your weave

Surgery #2 rundown: it’s on like Donkey Kong. The plan is sutures, sutures, sutures instead of mesh, which is forever. They are dissolvable and probably made of corn, but it’s unavoidable I guess. So it could be a rocky 3-6 months. Or not. I have no idea! Basically my vagina and bladder are getting Croydon facelifts. They will make about five incisions and fish all the uterine and fallopian tube chunks out through those like a claw machine and the Operation game had a GD baby. My ovaries are staying put.

An amazing thing happened. They are going ahead with the mast cell surgical protocol, which involves Benadryl and Prednisone in the IV. I think we’ve found IV antibiotics without dextrose as well. They want to keep me overnight to observe my reactions to things. I’m bringing my own sheets, gowns, and food. I’m also bringing signs to remind people not to put dextrose in my IV. This is largely thanks to work Corn Allergy Girl has done.

I had my last pre-op call with a nurse and I asked her if I could have a private room to avoid other people’s fragrances, food, and whatnot. She said she would put a request in, but that most of the rooms were private. This of course triggered a nightmare that night where I was in a giant ward with 12 people, including a naked guy who was beating off in his bed when I came to. His dick was nightmarishly large, like an eggplant. WHAT. I tried to get back to sleep, but I realized my bed was covered in glittery powder that looked and smelled like LUSH bath bomb dust. The nurse was mean. Horace was there, but he was trying to stamp on my incisions. HELLO ANXIETY. I SEE YOU.

C. Cover your mouth up like you got SARS

Last weekend I went to California. I had a talk with myself and made a mini-bucket list before surgery. What do Asshole want to do?

1. Rice for dinner three nights in a row
2. Visit Shannon and see Jen if she’s not busy. I also saw Michael and we went to the Columbarium (as you do) and the Legion of Honor.

Tiny Bucket List Achieved!

Shan’s husband was giving Jen a ride home after dinner and I was riding along. She asked me why I showed up just then since I hadn’t visited anyone in, like, four years, and it’s hard (but not impossible) for me to stay with people.

“Uhh…you know, in case I die or something in surgery. It’s unlikely! But I wanted to see Shan.”

“So this is your End of the World Tour?”


“Oh that’s so nice. I want to be someone’s End of the World Tour.”

“Well, you were on my list too,” I said.

California is my place I’m always happy even if I’m a wreck. Which I wasn’t. The plane and airport gave me hives coming and going, but I had a great time at her house.

So if you see me tweeting/gramming on or after March 15th you’ll know I made it. I will also try to blog again soon as I am recovering. I have to recover, because Krumpy and I are planning to do a podcast together (first record tomorrow I hope!) and I HAVE to see that through.

Being 40 is going pretty well so far and I am doing a lot of maintenance and rehab on my broken parts that diet and prayers to Our Dark Lord cannot fix. Dig it: 1. ancient filling replaced with tooth crown finally ; 2. uterus OUT; 3. Painful legs OUT; 4. I’ve been getting my painful face flushy veins zapped, which I don’t think I mentioned, so my face doesn’t hurt 5x a day; 5. therapy ongoing and necessary; 6. Flying to Corvallis to see mast cell specialist later this month.

I’m not going down without a fight.

To all my people that be drug gobblin just to get by

To all my people that be drug gobblin just to get by
Stack your copays till they get sky hiiiigh

Okay, that’s enough, Kan-NAY. How do I summarize a summer in one post? Let’s find out.

A. is for being Motorboated by the Universe’s Anus

I’m just going to say this: I had a terrible summer. I had an awesome summer. There were high highs and then I was crying in the shower again. I am a cat with internal injuries. I say I’m going to walk it off and then crawl under the porch. I have designed my life so that no one can help me. My children will be surprised when I die at 109 because I am nigh invincible.

How did I get back? Why now? I had a tipping point. If I’m working alone, I am usually listening to podcasts, which is a very magical thing about my job. Hand use hammer; brain use ideas. I was enjoying my weekly injection of my NPR boyfriend, Shankar Vidantam, when this episode came up about getting unstuck. I was stuck. I’ve known I’ve been stuck for a few months now. Nothing creative was happening. I had never been to me.

As an aside, work often reminds me of when my girls were small and I would try to have a conversation with an adult, particularly one who had little kids with them as well. The conversations could never progress past the basics because we were constantly interrupted by something else that demanded most of our attention, it was loud, and we were sleep deprived. Work is like this, and as a result there is primarily a lot of Dude Culture happening.

At first I walked onto job sites with a bias. My logical brain told me, “Well, not all construction workers…” but I still thought I would be working with right-wing, unevolved cavemen, who are there because they didn’t know what their other options were. It’s more and less subtle than this. There are some guys, like people everywhere, who are constantly crude, and are not deep thinkers. But for a lot of people it’s a veneer. I work with guys who have college degrees, who have traveled the world, and who are screaming atheist liberals.

There’s just not much time to talk to anyone about anything interesting, and there’s Dude Culture, so the bar is low and it’s mostly dick jokes. Sometimes they talk to me about real stuff if we’re alone, and then explain to me they have to do performative masculinity in groups, or they won’t fit in. Some of them encourage me to act this way as well, but I know I won’t fit in, so I’m just myself, though I keep my mouth shut a lot. It’s complicated. I also keep an earbud in one ear and an earplug in another, so I don’t have to hear a lot of what passes for conversation. *

Anyway. I’d been feeling really antsy and stuck in life myself. Usually I have a bunch of projects and interests going, but I’ve been hyperfocused on the girls and their health for about a year now. I had the multiple whammies of probably 80% feeling depressed about what the girls were going through, which led to the other 20% being about neglecting myself and my interests. And then I had bonus depression because I felt selfish about being sad about neglecting myself. It’s fun in my head, which I have dubbed The Abattoir of Joy. I am a robot who makes medical appointments and does research and panics privately and says out loud: “HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY? ANY BETTER? CAN I MAKE YOU A SNACK?”

Long story long, I stepped back on blogging for a while because my personal project was my most personal things on the planet. In April Franny had a huge “mast attack” (I think of them this way now because of the amazing site Mast Attack) and health crack up and spent all of early April in bed. She was missing school and feeling so bad she was pretty checked out on life. I can relate to this feeling after my big break in Maui, and unfortunately it’s not uncommon with mast cell problems. Strudel was generally lagging along and getting worse after turning 12 last spring, which redoubled my resolve to make things better.

So I vowed to read the entire internet, summaries of studies on mast cell disorders (or the papers to the best of my limited abilities), talk to people, email people, march around to specialists until I found some who weren’t assholes, and try things as long as they weren’t magnets or diets involving one color group. You get the picture.

What is happening now? Some improvements and a change in attitude. I kept thinking about unsticking myself and I have a little reserve for that right now. I will drop it like it’s hot if there’s relapses when school starts next week though. It’s my job to launch them into the universe as legal adults running and screaming towards the first day of the rest of oblivion and not just let them go out with a little whimper like I limped out of my mother’s house.

After many years of thought, reflection, talking, therapy, vodka, ad marzipan the killer in the relationship with my mother wasn’t necessarily the mean, or the crazy, or the (later) blackout drinking/memory lapses. It was the lack of care. The universe dealt her a sick kid, and ignoring that didn’t make any of my problems go away, but it did make me go away. I’ve said this before but I will repeat it: I care about my girls, and more than that, I want them to feel cared for and believe their lives are worth improving and saving. And I want them to emerge into adulthood with the feeling that I tried my hardest for them.

What does all this yammery hand-waving mean on a practical level? I got Franny into physical therapy, with a recommendation in hand for Strudel. I’m just waiting to find out what her school schedule is like this year, and then I can start taking her. Franny was diagnosed with scoliosis for a second time, which can be a secondary effect of Ehlers-Danlos (connective tissue disorder). Her carriage has already improved and she’s feeling a lot better overall. Nutritional support via the ND is working out really well for both girls, with an emphasis on things that axe histamine in the system, like vitamin C and B-5. We’re still doing antihistamines, rescue inhalers, and histamine blockers.

Here is the attitude adjustment. Our NP left to join another institution after many years. She was always nice and well-meaning, but I was relieved to see her go in the end. She saw me through some of the hardest times and did very little for me except the same basic blood panels and puzzled shrugging. I had a visit with the NP who replaced her, because I still need quarterly follow ups to get my tired, narcoleptic mitts on Adderall. I don’t know what to do without something artificial to keep me awake and get me through a day.

For a while I was kind of dithery, like, “I think? This might be mast cell problems?” Now I’ve had the tests and enough confirmations to know. I’ve made the decision that we just go into places now like “WHAT? WHAT WHAT? We have mast cell disorder so that’s a thing you need to know.” So I did that with the new NP and she was like uhhh ok. If anyone’s ever again like, “that’s made up” I am walking out mid-appointment. I told the girls I am dealing with their medical stuff this way as well.

Okay I need to stop or I never will stop. I’ll be back to this, I know.

B. is for food that will make your teeth all grey

As always, I went to Twin Peaks with Franny and Morgan. I have a friend deficit right now, some of which is my fault, and some of which is drifting due to life and sickness. I remembered last summer that I also miss volunteering for things. So Franny and I volunteered at the Twin Peaks Festival. We worked the merch table and the banquet (since we can’t eat there), and I handled a celebrity.

I thought I would meet some people and talk with some people and just generally be in the world, and I was. I think I made beginning friends with one of the other volunteers. I’ve been kind of a ghost everywhere. A long time attendee introduced himself to me and asked me if it was my first festival, and I was like, “no, fifth.” He was amazed. Ha! Even Kimmy Robertson talked to me this year, and she doesn’t talk to many people overall. So I think I was being there.

Franny and Pete with camera obscura

Late one night in the Airbnb at Twin Peaks I told my sister all my stress and cried, it was just cracking open out of me. I try not to do this because I was raised to be a martyr and the family hero and she’s the baby, but she was very supportive and encouraged me to get back to myself and things I like. I feel like a gong went off when she turned 30 in July and now I don’t have to worry about her anymore. I threw her a surprise party in my backyard.

THEN, CHRIST, shortly after that, I saw her father (my stepfather) and his wife who I haven’t seen in 12 years. We spent about a day and a half hanging out and they met the girls and saw the house. Things ended so, so badly with my, well, childhood, and I just didn’t think I would see him again. Morgan had been telling me for years that he’d mellowed out a lot from the days of the epic fights he’d have with my mother, and that he felt terrible about what had happened. She kept telling me that she thought it would be good for me to see him.

To be brave I told myself a story, which was that my sister wanted me to see him, and I could do anything if it was important to her and I wouldn’t be scared. I think that was partly true, but that she was thinking about me as well. And it was a nice time and they thanked me for taking care of Morgan so much after our mother left her third husband and lived with me for a while. It was a little heartbreaking to leave home when she was six, and have her arrive at eleven, and see how messed up she was. For some high school summers Morgan was at my house every day and even spending the night on the couch.

When I saw him walk in, I felt my cells popping. I went cold, my skin crawled, my ears rang, and I got dizzy and I was dizzy for the rest of the day. The second time I saw him I was fine, but the damage was done. I crawled past it though, and now we can be back in each other’s lives again. I was pretty sick the day they left, so work was murder. Even my boss commented on it. “You gonna push through this?” he said. He probably thought I was hung over or something, which in a way I was.

“Fuck yes I will,” I said. “Things will be better tomorrow.”

“We didn’t know how bad things were until later,” Morgan’s stepmom told me at dinner. Understandable, since Morgan kept it pretty quiet. For one, like me, she thought weirdness was normal, but also didn’t want to rock the boat and be forced back to Illinois. She was taking root in Seattle.

And it turned out! Morgan has a career she loves and meaningful relationships. I was so happy to spend a bunch of time with her friends and coworkers and her birthday weekend to see how much they love her and how they are like family after so many years. Morgan did most of the heavy lifting herself, and she is really good at Showing Up and Giving it 110%, which is like most of success, but it was really nice to be acknowledged for the part I played too. Literally no one else on the planet understood what that meant or what I was doing and could say that. Except Morgan, and she does sometimes, which is sweet.

Now that I can downshift on FIXING ALL THE THINGS for my own girls, I’m going to work on patching myself up some. I’ve got some cool medical stuff happening I’ve been tolerating, as usual, but I don’t have to. My dentist has been nagging me forever to get my one thirty-three year old silver filling removed and have a crown put on. I saw him a couple of weeks ago and he said, “Welp, your tooth cracked finally.” I wasn’t surprised, since I’ve been clenching my jaw like crazy. I AM READY. But sad. I don’t want a crown.

There’s something else too. Strudel had a very minor cavity (as in, literally a deep natural depression in her tooth, not decay) and my dentist wanted to clean it and fill it. She didn’t need numbing but felt pretty crap after, and has been been sick and sleeping almost constantly for the past couple of days–her mast cells degranulated. I’m worried I’m going to get sick too even though I don’t need a root canal. I may just have to suck it up and be out of work for a couple of days.

I’ve been wanting to pick up painting again (a practice that predates this blog), but I go blank every time I think about what to paint or even how to start. I decided to take a drawing class this fall at a community college, so I hope that’ll knock something loose. One thing I remembered from vacation this summer is that it’s worth it to take the time to focus on something else for a while.

Orcas Island score

* A few days ago I was up on a lift, way up near the ceiling working on duct. I could hear some mudders in the hallway. One, a white guy, was talking loudly. The other guy I could sort of see on his lift was Mexican. This is relevant because in my experience Mexican guys on a site are either SUPER polite and friendly to me or ignore me. Either way, they are very aware of me and move aside if I’m coming through (as I would for them) or say hello.


My break alarm went off and I lowered my lift and climbed down. The Mexican guy glanced into the room and saw me coming, and said nothing.


I stepped out into the hallway and snaked between their lifts to get to the stairs. I gave the Mexican guy a little nod, since he moved his lift to let me out of the room. I glanced at the white guy, who looked like a 50-something Sam Rockwell, but busted. Sam Elliot mustache. Grizzled.

“Uhhh sorry,” he said quietly. I pretended I didn’t hear, and I didn’t CARE. I know what NEW PUSSY is. I’m married. I have children. I have a PUSSY. Christ. Own your no manners or shut your mouth.

Welcome Back to the Blog and Make it a Cool Font

Other than Pete, I’m going to talk to you about this first.

When I was younger, my weight fluctuated a lot. When I was poor, I ate less and lost weight. Then I had more money, and I shoveled in General Tso like there was no Tsomorrow and gained weight. I had a well-meaning but completely ignorant go at vegetarianism for about nine years. I was never what I derisively called a “french fry vegetarian” but there were many nights that were just salad and some French bread. Close enough. Like many people, I was also very uneducated about nutrition in general, which is something I tried to correct after I had Franny (how do you feed a kid? Let’s read several books on the topic and then get more confused).

So you take an ignorant person who’s not eating enough fat or protein, and combine that with mysterious and random pains and extreme tiredness, making it hard to exercise, and that person’s weight fluctuates. It was frustrating to me and of course I blamed myself. IF ONLY I could get my shit together and eat right and exercise, I would think. Everything would fall into place. That was the lie I told myself. I was on the right track, though. Everyone needs a good diet and exercise, but especially me, as it turns out.

For the most part, I fixed it. This is not news to you. The nutrition part was absolutely involuntary, but critical, and the exercise part is forced but, of course, voluntary with my career change. I’m very glad about those two things.

I thought some kind of magical transformation would take place once I started feeling better physically. I was super glad I was feeling so much better, and like I might want to and enjoy living past 50. But I felt like my progress bar was stuck on 79% or so, spinning, spinning…. I was depressed at times. Completely bored with my life but not wanting to or able to go back out into restaurants, bars, and movie theatres multiple times a week. I wasn’t suddenly going to discover rock climbing or anything. If I stayed home or worked outside, I felt better. But anxiety was still there, jabbing me, especially if I had to go out and function in the (corny) world. A visit to the movies could leave me in tears or vomiting, or both. I also knew I wasn’t functioning as well as I could be even after getting the corn out of my system.

I’m at a point now where I can’t struggle against myself anymore. It’s too hard. I’ve hacked and self-medicated myself for many years and I’m tired of doing it all on my own. I had a talk with myself. I’m super good at these.

BRAIN: Remember when we were on speed all the time and got so much stuff done and could remember people’s names and wanted to write bad scifi and there weren’t piles everywhere and people liked us and we could answer the phone?

Me: We don’t do that anymore, brain, now we have carrots and zinc supplements. Plus I think we were an acquired taste even then.

BRAIN: Yes but you have class coming up and things to memorize and your children are starting to work around your bad memory….


BRAIN: Maybe we could pretend…wait, what was I saying? You know what would be great right now? Getting into the shower and crying.

Me: We already did that today

BRAIN: You should get a tattoo! Or just start tatting. Tat-a-tat tippicanoe…

Me: ??? Thanks for nothing, asshole

Brain: *Hold please*

But my horrible, traitorous brain got me thinking. Speed and copious amounts of coffee was the only thing that kept me functional before I figured out I was allergic to life. Ready, this is where it gets REALLY pathetic.

Maybe…maybe I could FAKE adhd to get a legal script for speed. I started looking at signs and symptoms of adhd. I started reading message boards about people who have faked their way into the various drugs. I started reading people’s stories. Uh oh.

This was the lightbulb moment: I think…I actually HAVE adhd and wouldn’t need to fake anything. Shit.

I got tested a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Squirm factor rating was “Court” but with less emotional anguish. Think about a cavalcade of small tasks that you hate to do the most and do that for about three hours. For me it was things like mental math and memorizing, reordering, and reciting strings of letters and numbers. I kind of wanted to run out of the room. The battery was very thorough. And in the end, yes, inattentive adhd. I was honest about using stimulants for years and how they got me through graduate school and the doc said, “Yes, the fact that they work for you so well adds to the evidence that you have it.”

She said something insightful to me that made me feel a lot better and lose a lot of the guilt and shame of my lifelong, sad struggling. This goes way back, pretty much back to everything that happened after kindergarten. My complete disinterest in school, ever doing homework, complying with authority, being told I was smart but lazy. I was bored out of my mind, even in the face of new material (I had to really care about it to focus). Really my patterns of bad behavior were the origin for this blog. There are so many things I HAVEN’T told you about but that seal’s popping when Franny turns 18, ha.

What she said was pretty simple: “You told me you never did homework but skated into tests and passed them so they passed you on. You taught yourself what you wanted to out of books and ignored everything else. You’ve been successful at many things (referring to finishing grad school especially) and that’s because you’re smart. You’ve figured out how to cope.” She said she had one “aha” moment when I did well on the IQ test, pretty well on the memory tests, but as she watched me, she could see I was closing my eyes and chunking the numbers, like a phone number. I TANKED on the solo attention stuff. “You’re obviously better in a one-on-one setting,” she said, about my focus.

“This is the real me on no coffee,” I told her.

So now I get onto the (legal) medication-go-round. I feel so relieved. I am already having nicer conversations with my brain and trying to be more patient with it when I forget things right now or see a shiny thing. I am too old to think “YES THIS IS THE ANSWER NOW, we’re all done.” But based on my past experience I expect improvement. This is another lever I can pull.

Speaking of pulling people’s levers.

I did get Franny some actual factual birthday presents, but we hadn’t seen Mr. Coconut milk for a few months so I had to wrap it up. I was gratified by the “ARGGH” I was looking for.

I have a sixteen-year-old. Things are moving fast for her right now and it’s freaking her out. She’s leveling up. Her boyfriend has graduated and has a job. I took her to get a state ID the other day, which I figure she should have and will increasingly need. I turned over her social security card and implored her to memorize her number (she won’t). She is still volunteering at KEXP with her aunt but has just applied for her first paying job.

She asked me to shave part of her head last weekend, which I did. With the dog clippers, naturally.

I used to tease her about having a mohawk when she was little and it would always make her scream. I remember when my neighbor shaved most of my head in high school and my mother laughed at me until she was in tears. I still don’t get that reaction.

Franny’s flip phone is dying, and the “kid” service we have her on has gotten pretty lame. They no longer sell phones, and if you bring your own phone, it must meet a lot of criteria, like being older than one year, not certain models, etc. We don’t use any of the special features anymore either (we used to cut her texting off at a certain time of night so she would not have her sleep interrupted).

Pete, sensibly, doesn’t want to be a spurting artery of parental largesse for either of the girls, which is something I respect about him. We dithered about what to do. I thought about putting her on our phone service, but the reason it works for us is that it’s “pay for what you use” and we’re very light users (two lines, $45 a month on average). I knew her 5000+ monthly texts would really send us through the roof.

We made a deal with her. I told her I would buy her a very basic flip phone again, gratis, and she could pay for what she uses once she’s employed, which ideally will be before xmastime. I am also setting it up in the meantime so we get alert texts and features turn off if she goes near overages. Alternately she could buy herself a smartphone, and I would pay for text and talk, and when she gets a job we can turn on data and she can pay for the whole schmear. Naturally she went for the smart phone. I’m going to give her access to the usage page for our cell service as well so she can practice keeping an eye on that. As usual, trying to do the training wheels thing with her so adulthood doesn’t scream “BITE THE PILLOW, I’M GOING IN DRY” like it did for me.

Franny wanted to Do Something for her birthday, and we want to have more family trips, large or small, before she graduates. We haven’t gone anywhere since Maui Death Trip. We settled on a long weekend in L.A., which has Harry Potterport, Hollywood, and palm trees. Franny wanted to go to the Museum of Death as well. Strudel was tired a couple of days in and got headachey, especially after a day of roller coasters, so Franny and I took an afternoon to drive all of Mulholland Drive, which was really fun and beautiful. She sneaky peed at an overlook and I kept watch. “I’m a great outdoor pee-er!” she said.

We tried to hit LACMA after landing, but were tired and getting corned at the museum, so bailed out for the tar pits.

I skipped them the first time I went to LA, thinking they were pretty tourist trappy, but it was actually cool to see them bubbling.

One of my favorite parts was when we were on our way to Universal Studios and Pete realized that no one had packed sunscreen. We stopped at the West Hollywood Whole Foods and he ran in to get some. We watched a beautiful woman who had obviously just finished exercising pick out a selection of squashes and decorative corn. It was Friday morning.

“She’s having a dinner party,” I said.

“Her workout pants are very trendy right now,” Franny said. They had the little peekaboo mesh slashes. “I bet she’s a personal trainer.”

“I bet she doesn’t work,” I said. “Look at that ring.”

“Don’t pick that squash!” Strudel yelled from inside our car (windows rolled up). “It doesn’t go with the other ones!”

I was fascinated by the WeHo Whole Foods and I couldn’t figure out why. It was grubby. The produce really sucked. The clientele was weird looking in a LA way instead of in a Seattle way. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized…it actually looked and functioned like a city grocery store. Even the middle of town at Whole Foods here I feel like I’m in the suburbs somehow. Also we could not get much for gluten free beer (tiny violins, I know). Seattle is a very special bubble and I am very spoiled with great food and I know it.

It was nice to sneak in some 70s weather in the middle of October.

The air bnb was ADORABLE.

I know I have said next to nothing about Strudel, but she’s doing so, so well right now. She’s interested in picking up another day of violin, which we’re going to see if we can make work after xmas (also I am not working at the moment). She’s really a pleasure and taking to middle school beautifully. She looks a tiny bit stressed out every day because there’s still (always) Mean Girl drama. Recently a kid came back to her small school from the BIG cluster middle school, and we are so grateful to him because he gave everyone the lowdown about the fistfights and bullying and teachers completely phoning it in and she is glad to be where she is. Middle school is no picnic for anyone but she’s doing well. Challenged in math but a lot of the subjects are teaching the same units again.

She told me she goes to visit her incredible 5th grade teacher, the one who sorted them into Hogwarts houses and did math rpgs. He is back to having a group of very difficult kids this year, because this is the reward you get for being an amazing teacher apparently? Strudel’s group of gifted nerds was a brief respite year and cookie for him, we suspect.

“I’m bored,” she told him.

“Me too,” he said.

I feel like I can’t quite see who she’s going to be yet, which is how I felt about Franny in middle school. She’s still in the chrysalis. Franny is going to get more life experience, and more mature, but spending time with her solo in LA gave me a little preview of what our adult relationship will be like. Franny seems like she’s Alice, halfway through a wee door and trying to finish pulling through. She knows she’s the right size, but the door is kind of an odd size. Strudel is still Eat Me and Drink Me-ing herself dizzy. I’m not in a hurry, though. I’m enjoying Strudel and her weird tweeny ways now.

I’ll see you in the trees

The Twin Peaks festival has become a delineation for me. Leave for the festival in late July, and summer feels full of potential and as if we’re at the top of the hill, with endless fruit-gorging and hammock-laying ahead of us. The Monday I go back to work, the light looks different. The sun is already hanging lower and the day is shorter. People say (and it’s true) that Seattle summer starts July 5, and we often get beautiful days into October, but by early August something about the light reminds you that fall is coming.

Since the whole point of the festival is to discuss and celebrate a 25-year-old show that is partly about murder and is set in February, it serves as another reminder that the dark is always coming back. Weirdly, it ends up being a really comforting way to reflect on the seasons here and what makes this area special.

I don’t have pictures to post because I admit I have finally emerged into the present and was popping out pictures as we went. I did not pull out my trusty camera once. Franny dressed as the Log Lady, in part because Catherine E. Coulson died shortly after last year’s festival and she was a little sad. This year she didn’t place but she had a nice time being part of the contest.

With another year of living with food allergies under our belt, I think I did a little better at the food part of our trip. Staying at the festival is a little bit of a fox/corn/chicken/farmer problem since lodgings are limited. There’s cheap hotels with nothing around them and no amenities. B&Bs are pointless because we can’t eat there. There’s a hotel with a kitchenette but the festival takes it over and people party there all night. There’s the Salish, which is incredible, and where the “cool people” stay, but expensive and has nothing within walking distance.

Our compromise is a boutique inn that was a filming site in Fall City. I used to enjoy staying there because the restaurant and bar was good, it is a quiet area, and the inn and town is extremely cute. As I started to realize I had to make like Persephone everywhere I went, I still enjoyed the inn and its proximity to a small grocery store with a fruit stand full of Eastern Washington peaches and plums.

I was looking at feeding myself and Franny for three days in a room without a fridge or microwave. I brought our cooler full of hard boiled eggs, chicken breast, baked tofu, and sauces: Seattle-style teriyaki joint salad dressing, honey mustard, and a vinaigrette. I was looking for mayo- or oil-based sauces to make salads filling.

Yes, I hammered my protein by overbaking it. It was fine once it was cubed.

I also brought a ton of processed snack foods that we can eat: chips, dried fruit, nuts, and jerky.

We also brought dry goods like utensils and paper plates. I brought a french press and coffee I could drink for myself, since I don’t trust Keurig machines. I could run to the market up the street, buy fruit, buy a ready-made prewashed salad, and make a plate with lettuce, a protein, nuts, and dressing. Or we could just graze on fruits and jerky. Every time we left the room I cleaned up and “packed out,” throwing the remnants of our meal into the Dumpster rather than leaving a mess for the maid in the tiny trash cans.

With all of our care, gluten really isn’t the enemy anymore. The biggest obstacle is corn, and it was everywhere that weekend. I am lucky in that sometimes I can forget about our allergies for days at a time now that I work outside. Twin Peaks is fun but being in close proximity to people all weekend is hard. I greatly underestimated how much it would affect us.

First, the room of the inn had very strongly-scented sheets from detergent and fabric softener, so we were breathing that all night as we slept. Every time we gathered in a crowd people were covered in perfumes, fabric softeners, vaping, smoking. The movie night is held in a movie theatre in North Bend, lasts 4-plus hours, and the popcorn is flowing. We were getting achy legs and shoulders, it was hard to sleep well, and Franny was using her inhaler.

It’s very hard to motivate her to do much about halfway through the weekend because she gets run down and doesn’t combat it by drinking copious amounts of coffee like I do. Next year Morgan and I are talking about splitting a small house/cabin/condo thing that should have some kind of outdoor space to recharge in, as well as a kitchen for me to cook in. I think this will be nicer…it’s time to say goodbye to the inn since we can’t really use it properly and Morgan found herself eating meals alone some of the time since Franny was getting very sick in the dining room downstairs.

If you have read all this you may be asking yourself, why bother going? Our lives have changed so much in the last three years and everyday life now involves never eating out, or sitting in bars or coffee shops. Every time I go out I ask myself if it’s worth it to be in this particular crowd for this particular event…so many times the answer is “no.” So for now this is a thing that is really special and we rally and go.

I like that I can take a small trip alone with Franny every year too. We enjoy spending time together. We spent a lot of time between events in bed watching Forensic Files. Franny is obsessed with anything that involves modern crime solving.

The trip also reminded me of what Franny goes through every time she visits her dad now. I was feeling a little worried because she is spending less time over there, since she often gets glutened, always gets corned, and comes back with a cold, achy, tired, and in a terrible mood. I still don’t feel great about how she’s somewhat barred from spending time with that side of her family now, but it would be very hard for me to drag myself out to do the equivalent exposure of a festival weekend twice a month.

It’s further complicated by the fact that Franny has accepted a volunteer position as a DJ assistant for Morgan’s show on KEXP on Saturdays. This is great news for Franny, since she gets to do a cool gig, gets some aunt time, and gets the volunteer hours she needs to graduate, but it was supposed to be when she saw her dad. Franny’s also on a teen committee at the library this summer (at my insistence that she get some kind of job). She told me last night she’s happy I “made her” do something this summer and is meeting people outside of her high school.

I will say in brief that I am working my ass off this summer. Five tens and then eight hours on Saturday (Saturdays are somewhat optional but I try to work if I don’t have serious plans). I was a steadfast defender of the forty-hour workweek and am protective of my time and health, so I am actually surprising myself with what I’m capable of this summer. I’m in architectural sheet metal right now, which is basically installer work–get panels onto building.

I’m working on schools and am on roofs much of the time in a harness with a rope tail. I like the crew and get along with them well. I got “the talk” from the superintendent last Saturday. I swear there is some bylaw that says supers have to be assholes. “So, I was looking forward to firing you, but the guys like you and they say you’re doing a good job.” Um, thanks. Again I have lucked out and landed with a really nice foreman who is driven but does not verbally abuse people, use slurs, and can communicate. The age thing seems to make a difference. Anyone under about 45 is going to be more professional, generally.

I’m about to get my school schedule for the next year and am really excited about that as well. I’ll probably do a six month rotation with this company unless they lay me off when fall comes and school starts.

I shaved the dogs down again in anticipation of the hot month of August and it is gloomy and misty today!

So Edith dons her small sweater.

Sheeps, out of town, and straw boaters

β€œTo think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”
― Goethe

Time is passing quickly right now. I feel like I’m rarely idle now that the days have gotten longer–constantly moving or doing something, cooking or cleaning, or in the yard. All of which is not contributing to sitting and writing or blogging. I feel like we’ve turned a corner with the yard, and it’s starting to look like how we want it to, rather than just something we’ve been chipping away at or occasionally brutalizing.

I haven’t written in over a month and I don’t want to plod over the last five weeks, so I will give a short summary. I am still apprenticing at the same place, for the same company. I’m slowly adjusting to manual labor, and am less tired in the evenings and much less sore. My neck seems to have made a full recovery from whatever strain or sprain it sustained in February, though it is a little stiff in the mornings. What I’m left with is problems with my hands–switching careers has unveiled some nasty carpal tunnel that seems like it was just below the surface.

I got curious and took a peek and it seems some researchers think there is a correlation between Celiac and carpal tunnel. It seems like anything that can be inflamed, will be, if you’re having a sustained autoimmune reaction. I had a test last week at a sports medicine place involving having the nerves and muscles in my arms shocked, and then stuck with needles, and it looks like it’s pretty severe, with ongoing damage. This is unsurprising since my right pointer and thumb are still numb. So I’m seeing a hand surgeon this week for a consult.

But for now I want to talk about yesterday. We nicked off to Whidbey Island to visit a sheep farm.

I’ve discovered we can eat sheep milk without any bad effects, so I’ve been experimenting with brands. Buying it in the store has given mixed results–there was one brand that gave us a corn reaction (iodized salt?) and others that seem fine. I found a cheesemonger down at a farmers’ market and bought from them, and then we decided to take their tour and visit their store.

It was good to get out of town. I feel like we were halfway in survival mode for the last year or so, with me deciding to make a career change and doing spotty tech work. It seemed imprudent most of the time to go out of town and spend money.

I have to admit I got stunningly bored with this arrangement, and I’m glad I’ve had regular, if smaller, paychecks coming in for the last four months. So yesterday felt like a watershed, even though the whole trip ran about $100, including gas and a TERRIBLE book I bought at a cafe in Langley.

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question, What would a Judy Blume book be like if it was not interesting and nothing happens, I want that book? then this is the book for you. Pro: it has a character named “Puddles.” Con: If something doesn’t get pregnant or name a penis “Ralph” soon, I am throwing it across the room.

We wandered around Langley some, in and out of the tourist trappy shops and onto the beach.

LAZY HAZY CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER! I cannot see a straw boater without thinking of Gilmore Girls.

The antique store was WAY too classy, very disappointing. The proprietor was playing “Greensleeves” (??) and there was only one paint-by-number, a very sedate landscape (zzz). The trashy-looking antique shop had a popcorn machine, which is, of course, our kryptonite.

After Langley, we’d had enough and got back on the ferry. We have some other stuff planned this summer, too, like a camping trip and a short trip to Port Townsend while Strudel is at camp. It’s nice feel like life’s getting back to normal finally.

Climb Every Scaffold

Spaniel Horne welcomes you into a MEGA POST.

Whew I am a tired person. I wanted to tell you about my Twin Peaks weekend, but I was hung up by bad wifi at the Inn we stayed at and then went right back to Ladies Hammer Club when I returned. We did not even remotely get enough sleep over the weekend so I went to bed at 8:30 for something like three nights in a row. Last night I woke myself up three times in a massive puddle of drool. I am finally feeling better now!

So, let’s get to the meat here. I made a Twin Peaks 2015 album. It’s got pictures of the fest as well as pretty extensive pictures of us constructing our costumes. We decided to go balls deep this year and GUESS WHAT, Franny took first place.

This is her as the Audrey Horne Action Figure with one of the festival organizers. Her prizes were a vintage Twin Peaks poster that was put out way back in the day by ABC, an original drawing of David Bowie’s character from Fire Walk with Me, a log signed by the Log Lady, and some various other cool swag. Also she gets free entry to the festival next year.

I went as Windom Earle, master of disguise, in his horse costume with Leo Johnson in the back. I can’t find a full picture of my costume, but this was the idea. I took inspiration from centaur costumes I’ve seen and created a rolling harness to be my back end. I did not place, but nerds recognized me immediately. My sister was, if anything, more obscure. She wore a pig costume and chomped on a cigar, and declared herself Jerry Horne’s smoked cheese pig.

We had a little moment of drama on Friday morning before my sister showed up when I realized that Franny’s costume wouldn’t actually fit in my Honda (taking the Elco didn’t seem like a great idea because rain was forecasted and happened). P. thought we could cut two of the seams and fold it, and that I could duct tape it when I got there. I was very nervous about this because I knew there would be a large, drunken crowd and I didn’t want to do anything to tank the structural integrity. He was absolutely right and I’m glad we made this change since I was able to put it back together in the changing room at the golf course where the banquet was held.

Franny did A LOT of work decorating the box. I assembled it and figured out how to get the items into it. We went to Goodwill to get her costume, and used fabric markers to create Audrey’s reverse saddle shoes. This is the back of the box, before she highlighted the trees:

We started at Mt. Si High School for check in and trivia. Morgan got into the top 8 but couldn’t beat out the people with flashcards. The organizer later announced that at check in people ate 25 dozen doughnuts! WHAT. I had a cup of Good Morning America instead.

That night was the banquet. It was in a different venue this year, which was a very nice golf course in Snoqualmie Ridge. I was relived they had air conditioning, unlike the North Bend Community Center, which was the old venue. The drawback is that they decided to go from 6 p.m.-1 a.m. this year, so it was after 11 before we were instructed to get into our costumes and I think some of the older celebrity judges were quite tired. Franny and I brought snacks and ate dinner beforehand. The good news is that Franny met and got the signature of every person who was on the panel this year (Log Lady, Betty Briggs, Pierre Tremond from Fire Walk with Me, Mike Nelson, Dick Tremayne, and Lucy Moran).

We got back around 12:30 or so and took a while to fall asleep. Then we had a bus tour at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, which was very fun because we sat up front near the author of a book on the show and probably the #1 historian of facts from the show and movie, who were co-leading our tour. It was kind of funny because later at a hotel party the author put the moves on my sister who was thinking 1. UM NO and 2. So your book flap says you’re married?


Saturday night was the David Lynch movie night. They showed Fire Walk with Me again. which was okay because I hadn’t seen it in a year and Franny never had. A lot of people were disgruntled about the rerun though. We were also being talked about a bit because I brought full-sized patio chair cushions to sit on. I heard later on one of the Facebook groups people were posting “I was wondering why those women brought cushions until I sat in the North Bend theatre seats for a couple of hours….” Yeah, that’s called planning ahead. Next year I could probably rent cushions and make the price of the festival ticket back.

Sunday night was Leland Palmer Karaoke Night, which was canceled due to threat of rain. Everyone got medium to very drunk INSIDE the Roadhouse instead, which was where we were staying. I don’t think I’d had anything to drink in a couple of months. I ended up at a party at the Salish. Someone put on some good hiphop and the phone rang while I was on the toilet. Naturally I answered it and it was a noise complaint. I thought that might be a good time to leave. Then I realized there was no real way to get back from the Falls to Fall City (no cab service), where we were staying (and where Franny was snoozing in our room) so I said goodbye to Morgan and hoofed it back. Ran about two miles and walked the other two. Will I ever tire of drunk running? HELL NO.

However, I’m pushing drinking out to the very occasional category, and by that I mean, “There better be a serious occasion” like all the Twin Peaks weirdos are getting shitty, I’m out of town and in the fuck it bucket. Not anything special like an anniversary or birthday. I had some gastric distress and broke out in cool lesions in various places after months of great skin. I just don’t really have time to sabotage feeling great and getting shit done. But it was fun, and it wasn’t like a wheat knockout. We ate well all weekend, if monotonously. I brought a cooler with hardboiled eggs, jerky, a fancy aioli, tinned fish, nuts etc. We bought nice Yakima fruit in Fall City.

So the good thing is that I remembered I like running again. It was pitch black out there, partly cloudy, not a sound and only seldomly a passing car at midnight on a Sunday night. I forgot how much I love being out away from street lights. No animals, no owls, no BOB. Just me and my lungs. I got up this morning at 5:30 and ran my normal 5K loop like it was nothing. I have been cursing my case manager for making me run stairs at Ladies Hammer Club but apparently it’s paying off. I got back to the hotel room covered in blackberry scratches (hello ditch, I did not see you there) and Franny was snoring with her mouth open.

We took her home Monday morning because she wasn’t feeling great and went out to Kiana Lodge, where the scenes of Laura wrapped in plastic were filmed. We just kind of hung out for four hours and had a little tour there. The grounds are GORGEOUS.

So Monday I missed forklift cert day and jumped back in to a visit to the glazier’s union on Tuesday, and nailgunned siding to a Habitat for Humanity house yesterday. I was thinking as I lifted a scaffolding panel over my head for the umpteenth million time yesterday, how unafraid I am to do stuff like that, because I am very unlikely to hurt my back or tweak something doing it. I’m stronger in part because I’m more confident in my body now and not afraid to move or lift heavy things. I know if I get sore I will bounce back very fast as well. Hence me running this morning! Yes damn it does feel good to be a gangster.

“The only thing Columbus discovered was that he was lost!”

Windom Earle: Garland, what do you fear most… in the world?
Major Briggs: The possibility that love is not enough.

Time is zipping along right now. I’m getting into week four of hammer club this week, and this is where it lets up a little. At first we were kind of immersed, going five days a week, and now it will ease off to three days, which is great with me.

In the second week we visited the cement masons, and had a day of work with an older vet and a guy around my age who’d been working with concrete for half of his life now. I was pretty sure going into it that I didn’t want to be a mason, and I left thinking the same. The guys were really nice, and showed some onsite GoPro footage about what it has been like pouring slab at the ass crack of dawn in the to-be Amazon buildings downtown. They did let it slip that the men in their org pour the slab, while the women were downstairs, patching what had already been poured. I know it’s inevitable sometimes, but I don’t want to spend eight hours a day cleaning up mistakes or what was missed. Working outside before and as the sun comes up sounds like a dream, though, really. I guess the die was cast when I got my first job at 15 as a papergirl.

We were all shoveling sand and rocks, and moving wheelbarrows around. I volunteered to slit open a bag of cement to pour into the mixer. It was fine, like mochi flour, and I was overzealous when I picked up the bag halves, and the cement went POOF and coated my chest and went into my eyes, past my safety glasses. I felt ridiculous, like a child, having to admit that I had cement in my eyes and being led off to the sink and air hose by the nice older mason. He and I talked baking and children; he has daughters, too. The ladies and I made stepping stones with our mixed concrete, and that was fun, but has very little to do with things like pouring slab day-to-day.

After troweling and beveling the edges, the next step was to lay a stencil and color the top of the stepping stone. I thought the provided brick stencil pattern looked very boring, so I made my own out of a cardboard doughnut that I cut into a spiky sun shape. “The warranty’s off yours,” the younger mason told me. I sprinkled powdered pigment on the top of the concrete, over the top of my bespoke stencil, and worked it in with my trowel. When I pulled it off it looked marvelous and weird among my classmate’s staid brick patterns. “Rebel,” the woman next to me said, and smiled. She’s a football player with a high fade and heavy gold chains.

Both of the masons shook their heads. “You’re speechless,” I said. “You’re amazed.” I got silent high fives for that. I know they didn’t want me, and I don’t want them, so I’m glad I could inject a little amusement into their day of leading hammer club through its paces. I need to remember to bring my camera places. I might as well–I couldn’t feel more out of place really. I don’t care.

Last week we spoke to the electricians, and I didn’t get anything into my eyes, so things were looking up there. I bent and cut conduit and worked with wire. This week we’re going up North to visit the sheet metal workers, and we get two days in the shop to have a serious introduction to a large variety of tools. Our shop time is supposed to culminate in a project that we get to keep. I’m going to make a storage bench with small spaniel stairs for the end of the bed. Even if they choose not to use it all the time now, I think it will become valuable to them in the next ten years.

This weekend Franny and I are making a big push to finish our Twin Peaks costumes. She is doing a lot of painting and I am doing a lot of assembling. I need to and will finish tonight, since I have “school” this week. Franny has more time to paint and dick around if she needs it. She’s grounded for busting curfew recently and is working on a lot of art as a result. Her boyfriend is writing her letters since I’ve got her phone on ice, which I think is actually very sweet. My sister is quietly delighted that Franny will not have her phone next weekend when we’re out of town together. I blabbed this to Franny and she said, “Well I wouldn’t be texting the WHOLE time. This is a special trip.”

I know I should be running the drill myself this weekend, but I like working with P. so I tend to just hold the wood while he runs it. I am doing sawing and general assembling, which is fun. P. is invaluable for consulting with, since I’m not working with any existing plans. I think without him I would tend to overbuild, and I need my costume to be as light as is reasonable, while not falling apart. It’s a lot more fun than building the beehives, to be honest, since there was a lot of, “Oh god, actual creatures need to live here once we’re done” and it was funny angled boxes that needed to be pretty perfect. So the costumes–I’ll publish the pictures on Friday, here and Flickr, before we skate out of town that morning.

This year’s festival marks the 25 year anniversary of the show, so it’s slated to run through Monday, instead of just Fri-Sun. On Monday I’ll be missing my forklift certification, which is unfortunate, but I don’t think it will hurt me in the long run. Yah-tah! I’ll be back soon.

Advance to Dream Speaking

Twin Peaks! I went to Twin Peaks. And then I didn’t write about it until two weeks later. I am making a resolution to blog more, because I think it will be good for me right now, like when I was whacked out of my mind on steroids a few months ago. I drove the El Camino, which is VERY comfortable on long trips, and enabled me to have many conversations with 60-year-old white men, as usual.

I stayed in Fall City this time. In case you are not familiar, there are a few towns that are close together that were used as Twin Peaks filming locations, and Fall City is one of them. I stayed at the Roadhouse, which was the exterior site of the Bang Bang Bar in the show.

A river side room

My room was called a “river side” room and technically it was, I am aware there is a river out there somewhere. I just can’t see it. I suppose it would not do to call this the “biker bar and burned-out gas station view” room.

Friday night was Lynch movie night, and the fest was showing Fire Walk with Me, which I have never seen on the big screen. Charlotte Stewart sat right in front of me and Chris Mulkey was nearby. I didn’t want to bother him, but he was being monopolized anyway by a guy who writes TP fan fic, which is definitely an avenue worth exploring. I assume in his universe, Agent Cooper and Audrey Horn were crashing the custard truck from about day one, and if not, someone (cough) should rectify that.

I sat next to two men from Sweden, but I was feeling introverted so I kept my nose in my book since I arrived pretty early. Movie night is a long night that involves shorts and special features when the VIPs are there, and then the movie afterward. It can easily go four-plus hours in the most uncomfortable theatre seats known to man.

The RR Cafe, across from the theatre.

I tuned in and out of my book, eavesdropping on the conversations around me, especially the Swedes who were next to me. I gleaned that the one nearest me was a scientist, and had been working in another state for six weeks. His friend left during the intermission and when the theatre was almost empty the scientist let out a loud yawn and stretched a little.

“Oh, don’t do that,” I said, startling him. Whoops.

“What?” he said, looking alarmed.

“Yawn,” I said. “Sorry. It was a joke. You’re going to make me yawn.” And I did.

“Oh, I thought you meant don’t do this.” He yawned and fake stretched. “Like I was going to put my arm around you.” It made me laugh so hard.

“I am only offended by yawning,” I said.

I REALLY want a copy of this game.

The back of the instruction booklet.

Saturday morning I came down to breakfast at the restaurant below the inn’s rooms too early, before they had opened. The inn allows access to the dining room from the front stairs. I encountered a very nice waitress there who let me sit for the fifteen or so minutes it took to properly open, and she even poured me some coffee while I waited. I had spoken to her yesterday while I was waiting for my room to be ready, and she grilled me about the events of the festival.

An empty cafe with HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN? posters outside.

I was working on a Lawrence Block book, naturally, since I always buy him second-hand in whatever city I’m in. It’s vacation reading.

A few minutes later the other servers showed up. One woman who was not my waitress had a lot to say about the bus tour that would arrive twice that day.

“And they get out, and they take a picture of a WALL, and they get on the bus and leave. They don’t even come in. It’s about the dum–”

“SHE’S with the festival,” my waitress said, by way of dropping hint anvils on her moronic coworker. I looked up from my book to find the nice waitress pointing at me.

“Hi there,” I said, giving her a little wave.

“Oh but the festival’s awesome though,” the other woman finished.

“They kind of rush you on and off the bus,” I explained. “I did it last year. There’s a lot of sites to visit.”

“And now, look, she’s staying here this year,” my server said.

“Did you watch the show?” I asked the tour critic.

“No, that was the one with John Corbett, right?”

“I think you’re thinking of Northern Exposure? That was filmed in Washington, too.”

“Oh, okay, right,” she said. “What should I say if I see some of them today?”

“Ask them if they’ve seen Bob,” I said.

“Okay. Have you seen Bob,” she said to herself.

“And I’m not yanking your chain,” I said.

“Ha ha! I guess you could be and I’d have no idea!”

On Saturday afternoon I noodled around and ended up at Snoqualmie Falls. Last year when I was with Morgan, the hiking trail was closed due to rain, but it was open this year. I knew I would be exhausted but I was compelled to go anyway.

I was greatly reminded of the last time I had hiked in a beautiful park on a warm day, which was in Maui in February. I thought about how my calves were seizing up and my system was shutting down that day, and barfing and a high fever was eminent. I felt nervous but like I had to keep going.

No one knows who built these pipes or what they are for. Pudding?

I hiked down to the falls, slowly. I climbed over the wooden railing to the “emergency falls access” like dozens of other people were doing, including hugely pregnant women, people with toddlers, dogs, and so forth. It didn’t seem like a big deal, even though strictly speaking it was not allowed.

I triumphantly slumped on a rock in the middle of the river, an unenticing, tired mermaid. “Sure, steer your ship to the rocks, what do I care?”

My hair is so dry right now. I know I am still growing out bleached hair from a few months ago, but what is coming back in is finer and dry. Also it is coming out in clumps and wads. It’s maybe hard to tell from the picture, but my face was also swollen. Normally the cartilage at the end of my nose is kind of articulated and makes a divot. Totally gone here.

I found a Sophie Kinsella book in a second hand shop that morning and I chucked it in my purse in case I wanted to sit somewhere and read something mindless that did not involve pistol-whipping and triple-crosses. I pulled it out at the bottom of the falls so I could sit in the sun and listen to the whoosh whoosh sound and dip my feet in and out of the river when I got warm. What a mistake. I should know I only like romance novels for men, like Max Allen Collins or Block.

As an aside, I am watching The Sopranos fifteen years after it was popular, and there is so much he-said, he-said that it is like a butchy Desperate Housewives. Except they do actually blow up and start punching and shooting each other, which I guess separates it from chick lit.

So I did all this hiking in flip flops and a denim pencil skirt, because I am an idiot. I only scraped my knee a little and cut my hand on the “emergency access only past this point” sign.

This is “The Bookhouse,” a secret club in the Twin Peaks universe for good guys. I talked to the bartender about it and he said last year during the festival, there was a dust up with a squatter who was living there. I told him we had been shouted at by the squatter and we heard he was brandishing a gun, though I didn’t actually see it. Shortly afterwards, he had been chased out, and now it stands empty. Adjoining businesses have tried to purchase the lot, but the landowner won’t sell.

I felt safe approaching it from the Roadhouse parking lot this year.

When I came back I took a shower and loafed around for a bit, trying to decide if I was going to the banquet or not. I figured I had pretty much used up all my gas for that day, but I put on my dress and lipstick anyway. I have been trying to force myself to do social things since my desire to interact with other people has pretty much vanished for the moment.

Ultimately I decided I had had enough fun for one day and that it was too hot to bother. I took off my dress and lipstick and put on my summer robe, and cranked up the tiny AC unit in my window. Plus I figured the buffet-style dinner would be a lot of cheap stuff, like pasta and bread, that I couldn’t really eat. I heard later that the community center where they have the banquet was miserably, boiling hot and I felt that affirmed my decision.

I dressed later and went to the bar and had a Laura Palmer (tea, lemonade, strawberry puree, vodka), a salad, and some lamb chops. I took a walk around Fall City, nibbling blackberries off the vine here and there as the sun set, and then relaxed in my room, reading.

Unfortunately, I slept very poorly because my door kept rattling due to a vacuum effect from an outside door in the hallway. So when I woke up on Sunday morning at 6:30, I decided to skip the cherry pie picnic and just come home and see my people. I’d had my fill of solitude at that point, though I found it very refreshing to have an excuse go alone and noodle around. Next year Franny wants to come, so I will do more festival stuff then.

Franny, my sister, and I also have plans to do a viewing of Fire Walk with Me, and the recently released “missing pieces” soon, which will double the length of the movie and supposedly makes it all more understandable.

I was happy to come home to a giant crock of fermenting pickles.

P. said he was going to clean up before I came home (the kitchen had exploded some) but I was too early. I was glad to be home, mess and all.

In Other News

Okay, so, obviously I have gotten my thyroid results back by now, and they are “high normal.” This means that some endocrinologists will not see me at all. I have found a “liberal” one who is interested in the fact that my grandmother had hers out and my mother has Graves’ disease. Unfortunately he is booked until October. For sanity until then, I am back on my off label self-medication that kills a lot of my inflammation. My nose divots are back! I don’t want to stick my head in an oven due to pain! An infected wound that would not heal is finally flat and painless, healing! FML! I am also going to get allergy testing done on Tuesday, so I will be able to eliminate some foods as a ramp up to seeing this endocrinologist.

The basement is creeping along. Yay! P. bought some goop from Florida that is a by-product of juice oranges. It’s basically super Goo-Gone. It ate the mastic off the floor that glued on the sad, ugly floor tiles.

We’ve decided to acid etch/stain the original floor. This is going to be quite an experiment.

Greetings from sunny *hooooork*

I had a scheme that was percolating for a couple of years and it came to fruition a few days ago. I stayed on Maui in 2011, right before I had my IUD taken out, and right before I got plunged into court with SeaFed. This was also right before Strudel’s grandfather died. A momentous year. I knew that Hawaii would be a once in a blue moon thing, not a yearly thing, but I was hoping to go back someday after that nice trip. Before that I hadn’t been since 1996. As court dragged on and the calendar year flipped over to 2013, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice to celebrate being all done with court by going back to this peaceful place that made me so happy? It was my carrot, aside from just being done with court, of course.

So the girls had midwinter break, and we went for it.

Strudel was very excited, since it was her first flight ever. When we were on the plane getting ready to take off, I realized I had my first flight ever at eight as well, but it was about one of the many times my mother took me and ran off. It was scary and exciting and I felt like a fugitive, since we left very early in the morning. I was sad to leave my friends without saying goodbye. I remember getting a little Delta wings pin. A lot of my childhood was mixed happy-sad like that. This is terrifically corny but I actually teared up a little since I thought Strudel’s flight would just be happy.

Everything was going great until about a day and a half in. Franny got lashed by some jellyfish bits and was experiencing some joint swelling. I fretted, since she’d never been exposed before, waiting to see if she would have a bad reaction. Eventually, I had to lay down since I had somehow tired myself out with worrying. This was kind of weird, but I shrugged it off, figuring I was in a different timezone and tired out from swimming, so must have been a little off. We decided to stay out of the water for a while and drive up to ‘Iao Valley to hike around there.

On the way back I was not able to drive and drowsed in the front seat. We had stopped for some shave ice to revive the kids a little after a muggy hike and elevation climb. I was getting nauseated and was thinking about asking P. to pull the car over when Strudel went off in the back seat.

“HURF! HURF!” Here came the shave ice and the loco moco she’d had for breakfast. Dear god. We parked on the shoulder of the highway and I extracted her from the backseat of the rental car, her legs covered in pink rice. Welp, that did it for me. I joined her in the bushes for a sing-a-long. Franny remained in the backseat with her fingers in her ears and her eyes screwed shut. She has told me that vomiting on car rides is rampant at her dad’s house and she’s an old hand at tuning it all out. She was gone.

P. sacrificed his shirt getting the kid cleaned up. We climbed back into the car, shaky, wondering about what happens when you technicolor yawn into a rental car. Somehow we made it back to the hotel. My guts were full of lava and I could barely walk. Would I make it back to the room? I wondered how many old people I could horrify. Should I go for a discreet trashcan vom, or should I go whole hog, golf course lawn sprinkler style? I got back to the room and was in for 12 hours of fun after that. Strudel was sick at the same time I was. We spent the night alternating being sick with dozing. After I recovered, then it was P’s turn to go down. He was ill during the day and I entertained the girls on my own, still tired and a little shaky.

I’m pretty sure I traced it to some dodgy macaroni salad. Franny has the supertaster thing going on and I think she knew it was off, but she wasn’t sure how, exactly. All she knew was that she didn’t care for it, so she didn’t get ill. She did, however, have the virus. This was part two.

I had a couple of days’ respite after that, during which I ate fruit and more fruit and a little yogurt and was very tired. I had thrown up rice, meat, and fish so none of that sounded good. It still doesn’t, actually. I will ask, very dramatically, crap, what am I supposed to eat for the rest of my life now? I cannot live on fruit forever.

This is me attempting to have a nice dinner out a couple of days after food poisoning. I ordered tomato salad, cucumber salad, and a side of raw tofu in ponzu sauce. Yes, three salads for dinner, basically. I should look glowy and rested but instead I look waxy.

On the weekend weddings were happening in our “backyard.” This one was a noisy group. The girls had fun rubbernecking but many of the wedding guests glared at us for gawping. I guess they didn’t appreciate our cool “hanging out in towels” look.

Then the virus hit me. We figured out later that P. had food poisoning and the virus all at once, and he came out the other side in about twenty-four hours, which is so lucky for me, since I needed a lot of help, especially getting back. I ran a fever on the whole flight home and coughed myself hoarse in spite of being medicated to the gills.

So here I am sitting on the couch, still feeling like I was hit repeatedly with a bat three days after my “vacation.” What a weird trip! MAHALO BITCHES.

“More anything?”

“More everything!”

I left my hard-on in San Francisco

GEESH three posts this month. That is almost a new low. Well, no one said we at the offices of I, Asshole were some kind of cutting-edge hotbed of activity on the internezzzzz. But, things have been happening IRL. ONLY GOOD THINGS.

Actually something cool happened at work today, even. I had a breakthrough with some code I was doofusing through and I was actually high for about 15 minutes or so. This is something I’ve been worried about for a couple of weeks now. I could fucking see time. I love that feeling. Usually I have bad realizations, like why your butt actually hurt last Sunday morning (tequila) or how you actually look in those pants (like a cud-chewing badger).

SO. I was in San Francisco last weekend. Here are the highlights (if I was wearing my badger pants they would be THIGHLIGHTS WHAT UP).

1. I sweated. It is still summer there. *FNIFFFF*

2. I went to the Tenderloin and my friend got pickpocketed! (Lowlight.) This was a mural in a bar we were at before we realized my friend’s wallet was missing. Every mural in this bar looked like the people were having some kind of mind-bending experience, were demons, or were hell demons on acid. It was kind of cool, if you’re into that sort of thing I guess.

3. I went to tea at Lovejoy’s which was fucking amazebaws. I have not had Branston Pickle in a dog’s age. I actually got too full to finish.

4. I had a lot of coffee. A LOT. MORE THAN USUAL EVEN. Ritual (below) was better than this place, with its creepy unfinished murals.

Plus it decided to be Blowjob Week when I was there, so I was peeing about every ten seconds. When I went to Long Beach last month I forgot my usual “form” of “feminine” “protection”*, which is a rubber cup. I don’t care to soapbox about the cup at the moment, because Satan knows there’s enough literature out there already. But I’ve been using one for about 15 years now and I usually travel with it. I actually had to buy tampons, which are STILL AS HORRIBLE AS I REMEMBERED so I gave up and used pads. Which, also ugh. Way back in the day I used to augment my business with actual strips of cotton (har har I was on the rag) but ain’t no one got time for that shit now. I just sit down and squeeze all the blood out in about a half hour using secret tantric techniques. Tantra: Not Just for Sting Anymore.

Where was I again?

5. I always have a Major Revelation in California, and I have for years. In 2008 I thought I was a total asshole there and got into therapy (not cured of being an asshole but it was different before, trust me). When I was there in March I thought I wanted to write a book, so I did. Now it is sitting on my shelf in MS form. :'( I’ve discovered I am super good at writing at 5 a.m. but not super good at editing. Like, at all. In fact, that time sucks echidna scrote for editing for me.

Revelation: Doing Book Words Make SJ Happy, Make More Book Words. I’m moving on to book two. And maybe after that, three. And then I need to figure my shit out for editing (foreshadowing). My friend is passing a short story to an editor, though, so maybe if I suck I will just stop.

6. Every thing is super good right now, in general. All I am doing is eating and fucking and working sometimes. When I was young I thought I was a deep and tortured soul, but now I think I was just poor and disenfranchised. I may be again someday, though, so if this part is boring you, stay tuned. I’m sure something terrible will happen soon.