Archive for the ‘Ah, Regrets’ Category

The other side of the hinge now; or, origin story

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

I keep thinking to myself that I feel like a baby, new. Not only is that one of the most hackneyed cliches in existence, but I also think that by all accounts I had a pretty horrible time as one, so I think I probably don’t feel like a baby. At least not a me-baby.

I’ve been told that when I wasn’t screaming, I was vomiting, or running a high fever, or all three, and I was covered in a rash. I was always sick and had terrible fevers, and I truly don’t know how many times I “had to be put in an oxygen tent” but I understood it was a big deal when I would overhear my grandmother telling people about it. I see pictures of myself from around the time my mother got her act together and showed up again and it was probably the worst. I looked like a six-year-old tiny Lydia Deetz, pallid with dark circles under my eyes.

I told myself I was going to take a break from whinging about my health for a while, and I’ve made somewhat good on that, but things are getting…a little weird. I’ve had tinnitus and vertigo since high school (twenty years) and it’s suddenly evaporated. I was holding my breath waiting for it to come back, but it’s been a couple of weeks now. Normally cessation for me is a couple of hours. Sometimes people would be talking and my hearing would just cut out and be replaced by the sounds you hear in a hearing test. I’d just watch their lips move and nod. Or guess.

“Yes, I would like it in the butt,” I would reply, my whole head going BEEEEEEEEEEEP HUUUUUM RIIIING.

“WHAT?”

“Wait. You feel like you’re in a rut? Sorry, keep going.”

Now I am an explorer on an exploration mission that is always christened, “What is making that noise, I don’t think it’s coming from inside my head.” [Spoiler: it is the refrigerator.]

Sometimes I like to play “DID YOU KNOW?”

Me: DID YOU KNOW the porch light makes a really loud buzzing noise?

P: Yes.

Me: DID YOU KNOW the dining room chandelier makes a humming noise?

P: Yes.

Me: DID YOU KNOW the toilet in the guest–

P: YES.

No one else likes this game. Sometimes it makes me cry a little, like in the case of the porch light, but not really in a bad way and I get over it quickly.

And now there’s the wiggling and stretching. I will be stuck in a waiting room and if I’m left for too long I start moving. I tell myself I want to stretch, and I do, but then it becomes a test. What if I do this? Does that still not hurt? What about my neck? Okay, neck’s okay. Shoulder joints are always bad, soo…nope, they’re like butter. By the time I am called I am practically rolling around on the floor, looking like a cat stoned out of its mind on the nip. “Ha ha, I was just testing the back of my knee (IS THE NURSE BUYING THIS??).”

I test myself in bed, too. I had that nasty nine month patch where my shoulder was just a little out of joint, causing constant pain. I didn’t realize until it was over that I was kind of rocking Bob Dole arm since it hurt so bad to move it. I had to get used to moving my arm again. So, just having this fixed, I felt much freer, but sleep was a strategic exercise in trying to minimize pain and praying that I would stay asleep for more then four hours at a time. I used to have very specific positions I could sleep in (sometimes) and if I was lucky I would not wake up with both of my hands dead. Now I sleep ON my hands sometimes, for kicks.

“I am sleeping on you, hand,” I say. “Just try something.”

“While this is probably not the best for our circulation, I am aware that you are sleeping on me because I am not wracked with nerve pain/burning from being dead asleep.”

“Okay see you tomorrow, when I will use you to hold up a book or do a project for more than three minutes without a break.”

I looked out the window on Sunday and realized I could read the street sign across the street. I can write words sequentially and without a million typos. I can write like it’s NBD, it’s just flowing out of me like diarrhea. Which is ironic, because what is NOT flowing out of me is diarrhea. HA. Sorry…I am not sorry.

I’m not wracked with anxiety or unexplained black moods. On nights that I slept deeply enough to dream, I would dream about break-ins, being held hostage, being tortured. I would snap awake at the slightest sound coming from outside. Slowly I am retraining myself that I don’t need to take more than normal precautions, that this house and neighborhood are normal and safe. I knew the fears I’ve had since moving into this house were irrational, but now I really believe it.

There’s actually more little things that have improved, like my nails don’t peel down to the beds anymore. No more pica. A year ago I was with a friend, putting my hair into a ponytail, when a clump of it just came out in my hand. A significant one, like a piece of fettuccine, like my weave was coming out. I was kind of embarrassed, but he was extremely unsettled. “I haven’t seen that since my wife had cancer,” he said.

“I’m fine. That was weird,” I said. I knew I couldn’t stop it so I just accepted it.

I had decent patches as a kid when I wasn’t anxious for no reason, and even as an adult where I would muscle myself into getting things done. But I always felt like something was missing, like normal was just out of sight somehow. This was just a crazy notion from hunchport but I didn’t think there was actually anything off with my brain. I tried anti-anxiety and depression meds when I was younger and nothing seemed to really help. I thought about my family history of thyroid issues, and strokes, and how they took one of my grandmother’s inner ears to “fix” her vertigo, and I thought I was just walking that path.

I think the weird exclamation point on all this that made me want to write about it again happened last night. I was in the kitchen and, naturally, the subject of head injuries and how much they bleed came up. I mentioned what was probably by biggest head injury, which was when one of those 300 pound dart machines you find in bars fell on my head and made a split in the skin. It didn’t bleed as expected, I think maybe because the machine was so heavy it sort of split the skin and then compressed the open vessels against my skull somehow? I was only about 25% Carrie on prom night until they started sewing me up in the ER and then it went full Carrie, blood running down my face.

“I was your age,” I told Strudel.

“WHOA!” she said.

“Your mom has a huge scar on her head, you should feel it,” P. said.

This scar has been with me since childhood, huge and raised. My stylist comments on it every couple of years or so, since it’s so obvious once my hair’s parted. She always asks if it’s recent. Occasionally it starts hurting again, especially in the presence of orcs. He prodded my head to show the kid, since I was up to my wrists in lemon juice.

“I can’t find it,” P. said.

“Hang on,” I said, rinsing. Then I couldn’t find it. It was flat. I immediately checked one of my other ancient scars, the infamous hole in the roof of my mouth. Still holey but no longer painful! I keep prodding it with my tongue, like my rolling around in waiting rooms. Does it still not hurt? HOW ABOUT NOW? Sometimes I like to sneak up on it when it’s not paying attention.

JAB JAB JAB

“Do you, like, need something, man,” my hole says. It’s the Dude now.

Now I have a new hole: a lack of all this shit I’ve been wrestling with for my whole life. What do I do with myself now? I feel like I’ve been playing on the hard setting for 36 years and someone just unlocked God mode. I don’t feel manic, though, just calm. Steady. Productive. Trying to figure out who the fuck I am and what I want. Everyday life is now super easy and not torture or battling back one symptom or another, but I am confused about the big picture. My goals actually seem attainable now, like doing a lot of writing and having my own business someday.

P. and I talked about it the other night and he was very, very honest with me and it made me happy but it almost made my heart break a little.

“Now that you’re feeling so much better, there’s a part of me that’s afraid you’ll decide you don’t need any of us and blow out of here,” he said.

I don’t think so. It’s no fun to cook for myself.

TL;DR: I have had celiac-induced malnutrition my whole life, it’s had an impact on things. Currently I cannot eat wheat, dairy, or corn, and my intestines are mostly a waterslide so this shit 100% does not apply to me. I am going to keep an eye on myself, keep taking vitamins and keep getting my thyroid tested.

An Actual Thing I Actually Just Said

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Week Two: the situation turns much, much worse for our party.

It’s the second week of school. I had been counting down to this all summer. A little time alone, which I desperately need as part of my “GET THIS STRESS AWAY FROM ME” regime right now. A little time to write and nap. Shit.

Last Saturday at the farmer’s market Strudel started asking some questions.

“Mom, didn’t you say you could sunburn your eyes? My eyes are burning so bad.”

“You can, but it takes a lot of light exposure, like working on a reflective surface all day or being on the water usually,” I said. We had only been out for about a half hour.

“It really hurts.”

BAM: pinkeye. So I knew she wasn’t going to school Monday, or Tuesday, probably. It cleared up quickly, and Franny caught it as soon as she came back from her dad’s island on Monday night. So now she is home for her second day.

They were fighting in the kitchen, shouting and butt-paddling each other, which is a thing now. Franny was wearing no pants but an apron (making bacon like that, SIGH), so Strudel took the opportunity to paddle at will. What can you do when there is prime rump in front of you and revenge is on your mind? Things escalated and Strudel was getting it good, since her arms are shorter, and she started giving up and fighting dirty. I stay out of these dumb things because they don’t listen to me, really, and they are not really getting hurt.

Yelling! So much yelling I am flinching through my headphones, trying to get my goddam VPN to work…

“MOM TELL FRANNY TO GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN SINCE I AM WORKING AND SHE IS DONE. ISN’T THAT THE RULE MOM ONE PERSON AT A TIME?”

I had reached my limit.

“STOP YELLING SO I CAN MAKE MONEY SO YOU HAVE ENERGY TO YELL.”

???

Crickets. Franny went to her room. The remaining dishes were unloaded from the dishwasher with no further comment.

My new technique is to confuse them into silence.

Sad Clown Good Summer

Friday, August 1st, 2014

I have been waiting to tell you for almost two months–I have quit my job. Well, I tried to quit. I handed in my resignation letter and everything. My last day in the office was yesterday.


I cleaned out my cubicle, which sent the message “how about send me an email instead.”

I was feeling a lot better around the time I resigned. I felt like I had a lot of clarity. That generic life kind of clarity and a lack of brain fog. I probably felt about 85% healthy at that point.


This is the closest I come to an Instagram filter.

And then they offered me a short-term contract that I could do in 15 hours a week until the end of the year. I’m only like medium stupid so even I knew that was a good deal. I’m keeping my hand in and avoiding a gap on my resume.

In the meantime, I will be writing. I have a terrible pornographic vampire novella to finish. I would also like to edit an unpornagraphic short story I wrote in a laundromat around xmastime when I had time off that I will kick out under my real name. So I need to see if I can do this–write and edit and self-publish when I have concentrated blocks of time. If I can consistently make enough royalties, then I can leave Techworld…FOREVER.

Now as an extra-curricular activity I will be working on my health too, which was another hard thing for me to do in an office.

So things could be a lot worse. I could live with someone who writes messages in eyeliner when my toothbrush head gets ancient.

Wait, that is me. I do that to people.

Anyway. I think I will be off the wifis this weekend in Twin Peaks, and I’m not really going to seek it out, so I’ll be out of touch. I’m bringing my laptop and I’ll probably be writing offline. And I will take pictures, lots of pictures. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.

Talk about pussy power

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

I HATE DANDELIONS! I know, I know, everyone does, unless you’re one of those twee morons who says things like, “But what is a weed, anyway, man?” or you’re an UBERFORAGER and you make underpants out of bark, or, most likely, you’ve never been forced to keep up a rental yard that the owner just won’t up and pave/gravel/whatever. A thing I hate even more than dandelions themselves is a landlord’s dandelions. It is a trial, like hanging out in a whale.

When I was in middle school my mother ran away from home for the third time and we ended up in middle of the city that was adjacent to the village I grew up in. There were actual city things there, like crosswalks and stores, and more than just bar, bar, church, bar.

Right down the street from our temporary robber’s cave was a big, decaying house that served as a media junk shop. It cemented my love of two things: Nixon political memorabilia, and science fiction and fantasy books. I would beg my mother for money or for the chance to do paid chores so I could buy deliciously stinky, shredding pulp novels by CJ Cherryh, Robert Asprin, or Terry Brooks.

I read EVERYTHING. All kinds of trash. Really good stuff that made me cry, like The Golden Apples of the Sun. I was completely non-discriminating in that way that kids are. Mostly I would dive into the sci fi/fantasy section, and pick things by cover and blurb. If I liked something, I would try to buy all of the books there by an author.

One day I picked up a book that had something very weird on the cover. It was a painting of a sexy dandelion, with boobs and feminized humanlike features under where the yellow flower part was. I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it was called or who wrote it, but I know it involved a time or space traveler who found himself in a world with lower tech and a bunch of political drama that could be solved in two minutes if anyone understood how to make a gun or how pregnancy worked. The part where the traveler was consulting with the sentient, lurid weed seemed tacked on, as if the editor said, “This is okay, but the painting for this book is already done. Your story needs a fuckable giant flower with tigol bitties that issue some kind of mind control sap.”

?? !!

I think this was my first encounter with any kind of interspecies sexytimes (though it was not the last, to both my delight and dismay), but this one broke the seal and made an impression. Every time I am out weeding, I think of this horrible book. I’m actually a little squicked by the larger ones that get away from you with the huge roots…just argh. I cannot knowingly eat any part of them.

That’s kind of generally insulting anyway. “Here, I found this crap at the side of the road that is kind of bitter and annoying and I made you a salad with it.” And yet I like wild mushrooms and berries and drugs I find on the ground. I DUNNO MAN. I am still a mystery to you.

My point being, dear diary, today I weeded my disaster of a front yard because I could not stand to look outside and see dandelions. And I planted sunflowers (acceptable yellow flower). The WORST flowers are ALWAYS yellow. It’s just a fact.

Acceptable yellow flowers: sunflowers, forsythia

Marginally acceptable yellow flowers that are ok but look cheap even if they’re not: lilies, roses, carnations

Unacceptable yellow flowers: marigolds (YUK), dandelions, everything else

IN OTHER NEWS

I love bags that are PSAs:

Here is your Zen riddle for today: if I had common sense, I would not have the contents of this bag. GOOOOOOONG!!! Goodbye.

You can fly

Friday, June 27th, 2014

We’re going to start with eggs and end with a BEEYOOTIFUL swan.

Recently I read that double yolkers are the results of first-year hens trying to get their albumens together. I think this must be one of Fruit Loops’s, who is around a year old. The eggs are big this year.

I ordered duck eggs recently, because they were on mega-sale through my CSA, and if you know duck eggs you know they are large.

The duck egg is in the middle and mine are flanking it. The biggest one on the left, which ended up being the double yolker.

Last weekend we popped out and picked up three more pullets, since I recently lost a couple of chickens again. We’re back up to eight again.

These are kind of my garden variety deviled eggs, except with some goddess dressing in place of lots of mayo, and with some beet horseradish and a pickled jalapeno on top. I found the horseradish at some random store called…The Europe Store (?), in Mill Creek, maybe, after an unsuccessful mushroom hunting trip in BFE. I am always sad when stores like that don’t sell what’s in their name. Imagine buckets full of dirt from Belgium or deeds to castles in file cabinets for sale at the Europe Store.

This sinister mess is custard steeping with coffee grounds. Beloved Shan stayed overnight almost a year ago on her way to a vacation elsewhere and she brought a really cool hostess present. I am cooking (ice creaming?) my way through it this summer and the first one is Vietnamese iced coffee ice cream. It is KAPOW. A good start.

It’s a pretty nice here, for June. Cloudy today but it’s been really sunny and the tomatoes are going crazy.

My scented geraniums are going bananas. I have flavors like nutmeg, mimosa, chocolate mint. I am trying to figure out how to overwinter them without bringing them indoors.

I’m also slowly digging up the front yard. This is a weird one, because there’s going to be an egress window from the basement happening in this yard, which will make kind of a big covered pit, so the plantings need to move out from the perimeters of the house.

So other than the quince tree behind the birdbath, and the boxwood hedge, I am not sure what’s going to stay. When we moved in, it was four square raised beds with pebbles between, centered with the birdbath, but the bed frames were rotting and it needs to be shifted. I want something kind of more organic and less formal, but I really don’t know what I’m doing here. I stopped digging it up, because I could feel the bees frowning at me. P. wants to transplant some of the herbs in the fall as well. So I am leaving it bee for now. GET IT BECAUSE “BEES.”

Finally, since it is early summer, they actually let my kid graduate. I got her report card and she mostly recovered from her disaster, EXCEPT her Japanese grade got WORSE. A complete flunk out there!

I have been wondering if she sabotaged her own trip, honestly. She was becoming increasingly anxious about going. I’m still sad, I really wish she would have pulled it off.

She’s been really clinging lately–to childhood, I guess. She’s been mad at me for lots of things, including insisting that she check her email once a week and suggesting that she start a book of faces account to keep track of her middle school friends. I want to hand her a crow feather and say, “Beat it to the mall like a normal kid and come back before dinner, ok.”

Her father, the notorious SeaFed, was there, which was a nice surprise. He was trailed by his three youngest daughters. Two of them look like toilet paper commercial angels and the other one looks like his wife. Strudel met them for the first time.

After graduation we were invited to the cafeteria to have cake and punch, but SeaFed fled to the parking lot, where he waited for Franny to come out so he could take her to ice cream. Franny ran back and forth between the cafeteria and the parking lot until I told her to STOP IT ALREADY, I would just come out and see her off with her father. She was obviously anxious about her worlds colliding and tried to slip off, to just leave, but I kept up.

I offered to take a picture of all of the SeaFederales, and he said, “You might be surprised to learn I remembered my camera.”

There was so much in that single sentence, it was kind of stunning. It was sort of a dig at me, because I used to have to keep on top of him about the tiniest shit (until I stopped and found that the world didn’t end, not even close). It was a dig at himself as well, famously forgetful and on Planet Mars half the time.

“Oh no, I meant all of you together,” I said.

“Oh!” He handed over the camera and I snapped him and his four girls.

Franny left a couple of days later and has not been in touch as usual. I don’t think she knows how to bridge the gap, to stay in touch. Just like her running back and forth between the parking lot and the cafeteria. I should be collecting her from the airport on July 15, but instead I will be meeting her at the ferry terminal as usual.

Here is a taco holding an Abe Lincoln.

Function is the key

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

UP BETIMES and writing for an hour. ~860 words. When I am at my peak I can crank out about 1,000 words an hour, preferably to the accompaniment of my 90’s R&B station on Pandora. Bel Biv Devoe really saut├ęs my scallions at 6 a.m., YAKNOWWHATIMEAN? When I was really pushing it I could barf out about 2,500 words a day in addition to working 40 hours and being generally awesome. I am writing under a new pseudonym since this is a new genre I’m writing in. This is how I want you to think of me, up at dawn listening to Color Me Badd and writing terrible fetish porn for money.

I almost feel like this should be my last entry ever ending with that sentence. BUT NO. Sorry. What is the end like? I think it’s death. I should probably do like the NYT and put my obituary in a drawer.

I’m morbid on this beautiful, sunny day. I think it’s because I was sifting through the long ago, trying to sort my way into the future. Now that the bathroom is done, P. is chomping at the bit to demo the other half of the basement.

“Do you have ALL MORNING?” I asked.

“What!” he said, innocently. “We just need to move some furniture.”

False. I knew there was sorting to do, and a Goodwill pile, and more things to go in boxes. It would require THINKING. That’s the worst kind of cleaning, isn’t it?

We spelunked into the file cabinet. Here is the Jacob Marley part, showing you his cobwebby scrabblebag:

Why, it’s my court paperwork! Most of it, anyway. This is all from the first action (divorce). I saved all this because I did not think the bullshit was over. I was right, because then he moved, and then child support, and THEN 2.5 years to settle the parenting plan, and FML. That’s the synopsis.

I had a friend who was considering her own divorce from her husband, about a year after mine was finalized in 2005. I remember pulling this stack out and saying, “Look, this is a physical representation of the shitstorm that’s coming.” Hers was worse than mine in some ways, though I don’t think her husband claimed she was a Satanist. (Hail Vigoda.)

So today all of this went into the recycling bin. Fuck it. It’s done. Things are so nailed down now there’s no reason to refer to this stuff. Any action going forward will be a new action. I think there was a point to keeping it all at one time. How much have I spent on lawyers…maybe $25k in the past ten years? That might be low. My advice is to stay in your house as much as possible and wear your helmet when you go out. There is no birth control like an ever-present helmet, plus safety.

Of course P. had to rip at some of the walls after most of the stuff was moved out.

It turns out the studs are laid flat side down, so there’s no room for modern insulation at a proper thickness. The idea is that the walls, which are just studs and this terrible cheap paneling (a pale shadow of the nice fir stuff that’s on the upstairs walls) will go. The ceiling is panels, but after some research and due diligence none of it seems to be asbestos. I am fond of the lights, but they’re just not very functional in a low-ceilinged space that is meant to be a bedroom. I’m thinking about kicking some of them upstairs to the kitchen to replace the dire boob lights.

The window to the right will become an up to code egress. I am thinking about lightly limewashing the fireplace, since that is reversible, and will lighten up the room. I’m really okay with a dim bedroom, since the living areas of the house are so bright.

He pulled some paneling on the east side of the room, where there is (was) a wall between the living room and the furnace room, but now there’s nothing!

Here’s a view into a finished bathroom. YAHOOEY! The closet will go on this side, and it’s going to have to do double duty as a linen closet for the basement. It should be fine.

I want to hang a couple more things in the bathroom and then I will snap it….probably tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Born to be a god among salesmen

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Hooboy. For those who are not familiar, in the popular video game The Sims 2, there is an item your avatar can use to literally suck the skill out of another Sim. I mean, I’ve definitely sucked the skills out of people before, but it’s usually temporary and they recover with a nap or some therapy. So I guess I am looking at my last post date and feeling like someone has done that to me. Time is flashing by again, and all I’m doing is working, in spite of having a grillion ideas about what to write. I’m going to figure this out, mark my words.

So, check this cray shit: my bathroom, as of Monday, is FINALLY done. I think it’s been more than a month since construction finished. We failed the plumbing inspection three times because the plumber is a cock. It all involved something very boring called a mixing valve, and him installing the wrong one, and then fighting city hall and the League of Inspectors and losing. All of this took time. In the meantime we took a shower a few times, because YAY NEW BATHROOM.

ASIDE: an exchange I just had with Franny.

Me: Are you going to eat those Cheerios dry?

F: I don’t like almond MALK, MOTHER.

Me: Why don’t you just put some cream on that business?

F: I’ll have the shits all day. DO YOU WANT ME TO HAVE THE SHITS ALL DAY?

Me: …Is this a trick question?

That kid yells everything now.

ANYWAY. After taking a shower less than ten times, water started coming out of the wall. So the plumber had to come fix that too. I am kind of afraid to take a bath because I am afraid of water in the wall. I better bite the bullet, though, because this room is only under warranty for year.

The good news is that once the plumber started his cavalcade of shittery, we have not paid for any of it, thanks to our contractor. He told us more than once that he’s not using this plumber again. I looked at his Yelp page and I’m sure his reviews are all fake.

I’d rather just have things done, of course, than have my contractor foot the bill. But now they are…maybe. P. took a wall panel down in the basement last night and nothing was behind it, so now we can see directly into the furnace room. I need to take some pictures. This weekend is going to be moving the furniture out of the basement “living room” so demolition can start properly in that room.

Moving furniture is a sucky thing I can do now, because I’m feeling pretty much back to normal. I’ve been realizing I feel like I had some kind of weird mental reset, and now I super care about stuff I didn’t before and I don’t care about other stuff I did. I’m still trying to sort out what goes in which column. It’s really alarming, in a way that’s completely unapparent to the casual observer. I suspect my reserves were really low in February and I was headed for some kind of crash. It’s not good when your whole family licks food poisoning and you can’t shake it off.

I’m eating well. Kind of a lazy Whole 30. I don’t want to join the food/exercise cultists, I just want to eat and feel okay. I have a work comrade I like to go out to lunch with, and I thought I’d get a Thai beef salad, but the lunch menu was all rice and noodles. I just went with it, but it was really surprising. Other than the curry, I didn’t really enjoy any of it. I guess it’s been about a month now on a lot of hardcore veg and it’s becoming a habit. It’s shifting the steroid weight gain and I’m having very few sugar crashes. Very few headaches. I don’t “need” coffee like I did and I don’t drink it most days. I don’t feel like I’m about 90 and I’m a fucking walking thesaurus on the fly in conversation like in ye olde thymes. I was actually getting quieter around the time I got sick because I was struggling for words or the complete parts of a story I wanted to tell.

Franny’s ramping up to middle school graduation next month, and her trip to Japan. I had to have a talk with her about how she busted her promise to keep her grades up this year as a condition of this trip. I calmly told her she would be fundraising completely on her own to have future opportunities like this one.

She went into a tirade about how the Japan trip was my idea (it wasn’t) and how she didn’t really want to go in the first place (lies). I told her that was all irrelevant once she’d decided to go and agreed to the conditions. Her plan lately is to start yelling and try to blame everything for whatever the problem is rather than take responsibility for her actions. In short, she’s acting like a young human being.

I’ll tell you the truth, though, she’s so histrionic lately it’s hard to keep a straight face. I know she’s really feeling these feelings, but it’s over the top. She had taken a deep breath and was at the start of some fresh tack when her nose started bleeding. Franny has a fair amount of nose bleeds in the spring and summer, much like her father, so I wasn’t super alarmed.

“Oh honey, your nose is bleeding. Have a tissue.” I found myself making schmoopy “poor baby” face at her. I didn’t mean to. She was just so funny with her crazy yelling and then she had hysteric’d herself into a nosebleed.

“WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING AT ME ARGH!” STOMP STOMP STOMP SLAM.

P. came home shortly thereafter and she had recovered and was yelling some phrase at the table in between our sentences. He told her to pipe down.

“WHY? I’m not INTERRUPTING.” ($PARENT takes ten points of OBNOXIOUS DAMAGE!)

“You know, I’m not exactly thrilled with you and your grades right now, and this is not helping,” he said.

This set off an episode of “EVERYONE HATES ME” that involved more hysterics and us trying to calmly and briefly state that we no one hated her, we were just unhappy with her actions. As if I needed more multitasking during dinner. I am such an asshole–I had to turn around at the sink so she wouldn’t see me smiling. I do not know what my problem was yesterday.

P. even called her out on using “POOR ME AND MY SMOOSHED FEELINGS” as a distraction from what the real problem was, which was the decisions she made. It was pretty awesome. I knew he was going to be a good dad. He was pretty much a grandpa when I met him already.

“Are we DONE?” she asked, when we had, in fact, said our piece.

“Not until you’re 18,” P. said. ZING!

Other than the fact that her general obnoxiousness level has risen significantly in the past few months, which I can pretty much ignore, she’s pretty cool to be around most of the time. It’s obvious she’s just absolutely intoxicated with hormones and barely able to deal most of the time. I feel for her. But I am not going to let her skate, either.

Strudel, on the other hand, is an absolute dream right now. She practices her violin and is polite and wants to play games with us and is doing pretty well at school considering she has an absolutely 5-car pileup of a teacher this year. She’s got some of that nine-year-old spaciness, but I’m going to enjoy the crap out of this now, because when she hits 13 it will be like living with a psychotic corporate lawyer who can beat you at Scrabble.

It’s Poofy, Bitch

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Hey, it’s my last steroid pill. Bye, jerk.

I am told it will take about a week for the Prednisone to leave my system completely. Once I realized I was going through withdrawal during the two week tapering process, which was causing joint pain and muscle soreness (ha ha the thing it was suppose to relieve) I felt better. Every three days I tapered down by half a pill and on that day it felt like someone came up behind me and gave me a good hard shove in the middle of the back off a curb. Brain fog, achiness, irritability.

So I want to say, as if this is my award speech, thank you to everyone who called, visited, emailed, texted, commented. It means a lot to me and it really did make me feel better. If you know someone else who is sick, do exactly what you did again for them.

My prize is a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni and ten pounds. I am distinctly more vibealicious than I enjoy being. However, if this is what I get over death or a chronic condition, I’ll take it. It’s a small setback in my four-year plan to become a furce cougar by forty with the ropy neck tendons and Courtney Cox weave and spray tan. At least all my clothes fit. Okay, most of them.

And this is much better than last week when I was so poofy due to the Prenisone bloat I looked like a 7 months pregnant Chipette giving a blowie. I discovered activated charcoal. I don’t care if it’s monkeyscience, it seemed to be depoofing my poor guts. I’m trying to do things like put in probiotics and take vitamin B.

Another upside of this is that I have barely noticed my last two periods. I think the steroids were having a good effect there on cramps, maybe? No cramps + menstrual cup= me forgetting I was on my period. Oops. I would wander off and not put it back in. The Gift of the Menstrual Cup. There, I have just named your bestselling self-help memoir. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I will be interested to see what life without a hammering heart is like again. I’ve been off coffee (drinking herbal tea or less caffeinated tea) but I bet that won’t last long. I’ve been having fewer frightening crashes as I’ve been tapering down, but I was in bed at 8:30 last night, which seemed like a “mini” crash. I predict a couple of days of a LOT of sleep. Yay.

In Other News: Edith at the Hotel

I anti-socialed out and hid at the hotel with the dogs, which was the best thing for everyone. I could not really carry on a conversation, I was so tired.

Edith was amazed by baths. I think she thought only she goes in there.


“What are you doing?”


“Horace, are you seeing this?”


“Seriously, what the fuck are you doing?”

Eventually she got close enough so I could grab her with my bucket. I washed her with the fancy shower gel and then looked down. My bathwater was brown. I am stupid. The dog was clean, though. Then I took a shower and put the lotion on my skin.


“Is that yuzu lemongrass I smell?”

I Shaved My Dog Now I’m Not Sad; Or, Where’d You Go, Asshole?

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

There is a lot of music that reminds me of other people, but the other people don’t know I was ever thinking about them, nor have they heard the music themselves. I realized this this morning when I was listening to Felicia Carter, who I haven’t listened to since last summer really. It’s like someone else wrote the secret poems for you.

Yep, we’re calling it spring. I even went outside in the 6 a.m.s and could see things. The birds are going crazy, but my chickens, who do get the pellet, not the worm, are sleeping in.

I think the plum tree is going to have a good year. I made like Obama with the turkey and gave it a pardon after its extremely lackluster performance last year. I figure if it wasn’t actively diseased or foaming at the trunk or anything it could stay.

“We could just plant a new one,” P. said.

“Let’s give it one more year,” I said. “It’s old. Maybe it’s just tired.” If plum trees ever sit in judgment of my root system I hope they will come to the same conclusion about me. Next year. One more year.

He sprayed it with salad oil. I don’t question these things, really. I mean, maybe he knows something, or maybe he is just crazy. (Cue the sound of “HEY” many hours later when he discovers this.) Something seems to have worked.

I am considering spraying salad oil all over my own face at the moment. I’ve got the Prednisone poof. I’m not full-on Om Nom Hamster but it’s not great, either. There’s this rise where the chipmunk action starts and then it stops and I can actually see normal face and cheekbone behind, so it’s not like when my face has just been fat. I woke up the other morning and my nose was swollen–I actually noticed it in my peripheral vision. I am down to one pill and I feel pretty normal and sleep isn’t too bad anymore. By Monday I will be on half a pill, and then done by Thursday. I hear it can take a couple of weeks for the swelling to go down. In the meantime I feel like I have grit in my eyes so I wear my sunglasses everywhere, but am considering a bag for my head. I think I have had more veins burst in my cheeks but it’s hard to tell at this point. When no one is looking I kind of fondle my fat cheek parts and they sort of feel like dumplings or like mochi or something. My anpan filling is: bile.

[As a fun aside, P. came by while I was editing this, marveling over how my face is totally back to normal now. He is insane and can somehow sense when I am feeling bad about myself and will take that moment to say the most untrue thing.]

Franny left on Friday morning and I happened to be here since I had a vet appointment for the spaniels, who had ear infections and ear mites. I kind of understood their ears were off when I was really sick and I was trying to keep them clean, but I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten until Horace yelped twice at work when people were petting him. They got shots and I have ear cream and I am getting drugs for them, all is well. I am ace at cats but still kind of a dog novice, sigh.

This is one of those things that is so easy to deal with when everything is normal. But getting sick, followed by lice, and now dogs. Whoosh. I think everything is under control now. (HA HA, did I really just type that.) After work I washed my car and made dinner and just that was exhausting, but not in a bad way. It’s weird to go from being able to do 12,000 things in a day to having to pick three things and then being forced to stop.

But this is all an aside to say that we decided to have a fight on the way out the door. I, Official Monitor of Toothbrushes, happened to notice that hers had been untouched for a couple of days, since I had put a replacement head in the bathroom for her. I should have left it alone. Am I actually capable of not answering the siren song of neglected oral hygiene? I am not.

“Hey, you went to bed early last night,” I said.

“Yeah, I was tired,” she said.

“You ate a bunch of candy and then I know you didn’t brush your teeth and then you went to bed.” Wait for it, it gets worse: “That is a recipe for cavities, friend.”

“I’m not going to GET cavities,” she said.

“SAY WHAT, CRACKER?”

“I don’t get them,” she rephrased.

“Well, if you keep up on your teeth you are less likely to get cavities. Magical thinking like that is not going to protect you from anything.”

“I need to be POSITIVE, MOM. I can’t tell myself I’m going to get cavities.”

“No one thinks they’re going to get them, honey,” I said. “But there’s steps you can take…”

“ARGH. It is so hard having divorced parents,” she said.

I think this bout of drama is coming from a friend at school whose parents are fighting unceasingly, causing the girl to worry her parents are splitting. It is also causing Franny to be in the ladies’ bathroom with her during 4th and 5th period while the girl cries, which I don’t love. Franny is the resident expert on divorce.

“I told her what it is like to go through a divorce,” she said, on Thursday evening.

“Do you remember?” I asked, innocently. “You were only three.”

“YESSSSSS,” she sighed at me.

But back to oral hygiene.

“So what is so hard about having divorced parents?” I asked.

“You’re so STRICT, Mom! If I forgot to brush my teeth, my dad would just say, ‘Oh well, do it tomorrow.”

This is where I interject in my head only: There’s an epitaph for you.

“Your dad and I are different people,” I said. “You know that.”

There was a little more scrabbling and then she stomped off to her room declaring she “didn’t want to talk about it anymore.” This is her tack lately–get very defensive about something, then declare the conversation over.

Strudel was sitting across from me at the table.

“Do you want to live somewhere else?” I asked her sotto voce.

“Where would I go? I belong here.”

“The train station?” I offered.

“There is no one who loves me at the train station.”

Later Franny came out to pack her backpack for school.

“You know, honey,” I tried again. “Your dad and I are so different, that even if we were still together, we would have drastically different ideas about how you should be raised and treated. We did when we were together and trying to raise you. This isn’t just a divorced parent thing. This is a different people thing.”

She said nothing. I went on, because when things are going down the crapper I like to enhance the situation by sticking my head in tiger mouths I guess.

“P. and I don’t always agree on you guys, but we find compromises. That’s the key.” Silence. “Um. So. We’re not going to see each other for a week. Are you sure you want to leave things like this?”

She walked out.

“Bye, Mom!” Strudel said, following her.

Franny was like this last summer as well. Really, really shitty before long breaks or vacations. This was bound to happen if I’d brought up the tooth brushing or not. I have heard all the theories and I’m not going to spend the week fretting. I assume we will have a talk at some point. I hope someday we can have more of a “Bye, have a nice trip, see you in a week,” interaction.

Later, after school, Strudel surmised that Franny was jealous we are taking a trip to Portland without her. Maybe so…maybe not. I know Franny is going to Walla Walla for spring break.

In other “stupid things I have done lately” news I decided to “loan” my sister my ye olde butcher block table.


VANISHED! Now all the plants have moved and are in a terrible jumble.

It’s actually really good because their apartment needed an additional countertop. Their space is like ours–50’s apartment, instead of house, with a galley kitchen and an open nook and no counterspace. So the butcher block will be a counter and a workspace in the nook. You can make bread on it and chop things, which is what it was used for when SeaFed’s mother had it in her kitchen. Since I’ve had it, it’s been off to the side somewhere, holding plants, not actually being used. It was acting as a plant stand in this house, which is a shame. I just gave her the whole “If you move and you think you want to get rid of it, let me know first,” but really we will be here a while, and this kitchen will never magically expand to hold it as an island, and my ass needs drawers and shit. I did give her the “This is an Alexander heirloom” lecture since we West Coast meanderers have such few possessions that actually mean anything. I did have a sigh when I tucked it away into a corner in another house yet again.

So P. is like, “Yo, what is your plan for this corner now that you have given away a thing we had that was working.” This is a very legitimate question. Sadly, I do not have an answer. Yet. I think I need a Countertop Solution. I really like what’s going on at this house. I’m imagining sealing the “permanent” counters that are by the sink and stove, and leaving my standalone guy sealed with food-grade oils so P. can continue making bread there as he likes. But maybe something in the corner too. Well, I have done it now. Godspeed, little butcher block table. You made my mother-in-law’s 80’s kitchen look fabulous, and I’m glad I inherited you when she remodeled in the aughties.

I’ve signed up for fruit and veg delivery, which was kind of a little epiphany I had when I was sick and getting stacks of frozen Trader Joe’s food in. It’s not a proper CSA in that they use multiple sources, but it’s nice. I’ve been meaning to do it for years but the time was never quite right. It’s making me really creative, because I take it as a challenge to use everything up before the next delivery. I’m thinking about going back to Amazon Fresh too. I may never leave my house again, except for work. (I am working on a secret mole tunnel; it’s only four miles).

Anyway, I forced myself to quick pickle this asparagus before I left town so it wouldn’t go bad.

HAVE A GOOD DAY.

“I have to get up at five o’clock in the morning and SPARKLE, Neely, SPARKLE!”

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

I wanted to show you my bathroom today, since it was supposed to be finished, but the plumbing inspection failed on Thursday. My least favorite plumber, aka Jackass Plumber, forgot to install a mixing valve on top of the hot water heater. Or perhaps he was not aware he needed to. It’s unclear.

The same inspector who approved the rough plumbing returned.

“Oh I see you went for the FANCY toilet,” he editorialized. There are way too many men in my house lately.

“Mmm hmm,” I said.

“Looks like this shower isn’t done.”

“It’s an open shower.”

“No door?” he asked.

“No door.”

He ran it.

“I guess the water’s staying in…”

And then a tick next to the word “failed.”

We get to try again next week. Also my vanity legs should be here by then. I bought vanity legs via my cabinet company. The legs–really more an idea of legs–were a very small black-and-white picture in the catalog that promised to be good metal companions to go with my retconned faux-nostalgic midcentury vanity that looks like something James Bond could have thrown up into, had vanities like this existed in the 1950’s. They did not. I’m enjoying this trend of thinking about what a credenza looks like and putting plumbing in.

But this isn’t Sears and Roebuck times. It is really bullshit to show me small black and white pictures at all. Sure enough, they arrived, and they are hideous. I didn’t really know what I was getting, which is not a defense. I asked for a picture or an internet link or a sample, but it didn’t really come to pass. First they sent two separate sets of black plastic legs, which was not what I ordered at all–so there was that delay.

Then what I did order showed up.


For size comparison, it cavorts among sauv blanc, water, and someone’s jank ass phone what needs a new case like whoa.

They were also kind of scratched or at least unevenly painted, and didn’t work at all with the actual vanity.

“Sooo the legs finally came,” I said, proffering them to my contractor. “Yay.” I was making bargains with myself at this point, just wanting to finish. I can do something else with the legs at some point, I told myself. He pulled one out.

“Do you like these legs?” he asked me, giving me a hard look.

“Well. Um. Maybe I can paint them, though?” He waited. “No. I don’t like them. And they’re kind of scratched up. I’ll go find some legs I actually like and have them sent immediately.” He nodded.

So I ordered legs from a site that does…midcentury legs. I figure they have ONE JOB, and they can do it well. RIGHT? Knock on knock-off legs.

It turns out the legs that we waited so long for and that I hated don’t even fit properly. So it was all moot.

We were hoping to start demoing the other half of the basement today, but it really needs to wait until the inspectors are done. One project at a time, please. So I have been futzing around the house today doing little odds and ends like painting a pillar on my porch that was getting very weather-ravaged, and test driving the DJ Roomba I bought with my tax refund. (R.I.P. Neato.)

Also I have been thinking about my kitchen today. There’s a couple of issues with it. It’s on the north side of the house, and gets a wee bit of sunlight in morning. It’s a candidate around here for a couple of those tubular skylights.

So this is what it looks like around 2 p.m. on an average April day. Dimmer than this picture makes it seem.

I decided to play up the primary colors feel between the yellow tile with the burgundy sizzle stripe and the teal-ish cabinets by adding a lot of primary red. The peace lily and the chevron bag is my sister’s for the little housewarming visit I made to her today. I had a squee. Among other things, I made her bacon peanut brittle and pickled eggs. I moved into that exact neighborhood when I was exactly her age, except her life is way less fucked up than mine was at 26. Yeh.

Also it’s L-shaped. Not much to be done about that. I like that it’s a one- or two-person kitchen and it’s pretty easy to convince people to beat it during parties so I can do my thing and get out.

Here it is with the lights on:

DEATH TO BOOB LIGHTS.

So here’s the tentative plan, but not for a while. Get ready for 50’s house heresy: I am taking out the countertops. I just cannot with the tiles any longer. Crud gets stuck in them constantly, liquid pools, and they always look dirty. I am thinking about doing wood but am not sure. I am keeping all the yellow backsplash, though. The cabinets are getting a new color scheme, and we have to redo the floors. The dishwasher leaked in January and it fucked up some of the underlayment. I feel lumps when I walk now. And the vinyl is going, of course. I am leaving the OG lights alone and the configuration, basically. It’s a nice cubey kitchen that is very 50’s sensible–no need to rip out the cabinets or anything. And it’s almost impossible to reconfigure an l-shaped kitchen so I am calling it good.

So now the question is how to work with yellow with a burgundy sizzle. I am thinking about doing something Frenchy Provencally after stumbling on a bathroom that is just like my kitchen, really (thank you, comments section).

Grey? Blue? Both? Cannot decide.

I am in the germinating phase now, since it’s far off.

This week was my last week of working part time. I’ve tapered down on Prednisone again today and it was a zap on my brain again. I dropped a bottle of rice vinegar on the back porch today–it was like it just left my hand somehow and shattered. I think I may actually sleep well tonight instead of my heart hammering at 2 a.m though. I’ve been sleeping 2-4 hours a night for several nights in a row and then I have a massive crash and sleep 12-14 hours and have a “good” day.

“How are you doing?” my contractor asked. It was before the plumbing inspector came, and we both thought we would pass with flying colors, and I would not see him again until maybe I asked him back to put in a gas insert in the basement fireplace.

“I’m okay,” I said. “The steroids are worse than the disease at this point.”

“Ah, I hear that,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with steroids for the last 25 years or so. I’m on my third heart.”

“Wow,” I said.

“And I’m a cancer survivor.”

“Holy cats, I’m glad you’re here.” We always say dumb things in the face of surprising information like this, right? Maybe just me, though.

“Me, too.” He said he owed it all to qigong and energy practice. I was not going to argue with that. I pretty much owe everything to obsessive attention to masturbation and the idea that tea tree oil can cure anything, including late-stage capitalism and jungle rot.

However. Cooking doesn’t require much thought at this point, which is pretty comforting. I can kind of just feel my way around. How many thousands of times have I sweated an onion? It sounds stupid but it really is so grounding to me. I had a little moment when I wasn’t able to walk or stand much where I was asking myself why I ever cooked, as we were hauling giant piles of frozen Trader Joe’s loot into the house that cost less than food that required marketing, planning, and chopping.

But now I’ve been doing a lot of cooking after work. On Thursday I made an asparagus and gruyere tart and then made Moroccan lamb shanks because why not? I’ve been cooking for so many years now that I think it’s keeping me from coming unhinged a little. Here is a normal thing. I was so anxious on Thursday afternoon I felt like I was going to have a panic attack, could not answer the phone, so I just focused on cooking. I had an alarm guy coming over and I felt like I was going to throw up, and made myself take an Atavan. It kind of freaks me out how I went from fish oil and an occasional Tylenol eight weeks ago to Valley of the Dolls so quickly. I hate this. I know it’s temporary, but I feel so trapped inside pointless, needless side-effectsy anxiety. I just kept rolling puff pastry dough and chopping garlic while he chit chatted at me about losing a cat from a hotel room during a cross country move.

I decided to see if I could bang together a Moroccan dish that tasted like Moroccan food with what I had in the cupboard and from memory. It was okay, really. I’d write it down, but I didn’t take a picture, so that would be kind of boring. It turned out. But here’s the tart:


Alien wiener tart.

I have been junking/thrift scoring plant stands for the house and bathroom. I liked my new snake plants but I thought they needed some levels to be finished. Behold my whirlwind life.

Now I’m happy with it.

Any thoughts about my kitchen are A. optional and B. would be welcomed.