Archive for the ‘Ah, Regrets’ Category

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.

I am guessing I have now paid off about 7/10s of the temples I burned down in a past life

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

I take some steroids for breakfast, some codeine for DIZ-sert/
By the time they bring the pancakes, I’m only partly alert

(With non-apologies to Kanye West but I will link to the lyrics page because that seems to make them send me emails to ask me to stop linking to them. Jolly times.)

Up betimes and pretending to do my taxes, except actually emailing with my contractor, Jolly Mike Ehrmantrout, about some last minute plumbing stuff. It turns out the pipes under the bathroom sink faucet are not long enough to make a connection to the water below. Ha! Solutions are being solicited and bandied. I had to ride my tauntaun to the outlands of West Seattle yesterday to see if they carried a faucet that would come with long pipes.

Also:

Me neither, JME! This means I get to see Jackass Plumber again. The last time I saw him around Xmas he “fixed” my laundry set up, then left, and my basement trench flooded. I was not supposed to see Jackass Plumber on Thursday when he was here and was to be finishing everything up, since I was supposed to be at work, but I got derailed again (more on that soon). He came up to talk at me about pipe problems and give me some bizarre recommendations for faucet brands. I brought one recommendation to the plumbing store in West Seattle and they pulled out the catalog and said, “Er…see, that brand doesn’t really do residential, just mostly pretty plain industrial-purpose stuff.” Er okay.

Since Jackass Plumber woke me up, he kind of figured out I was sick. That and the giant pile of pill bottles on the table, which were not arranged so artfully then.

If we are keeping score at home, that’s two types of steroids now, an inhaler, Tylenol 3, Vicodin, and Ativan for sleeping. Last month I was taking the occasional Advil, and now look at me. My pill regime comes with a booklet with FUCK YES CAPLOCKS instructions on how and when to take all of these pills. Stapled onto it is a helpful pamphlet titled: “Will You Ever Poop Again? Your Guess is as Good as Ours.”

This could be the motto for blogging, yes? I should cross stitch this onto something.

I told the plumber, briefly, that it happened in Hawaii last month and was still kind of a mystery. He launched into a story about Kehei and how his wife tried snorkling but her fake boobs were too big and she kept popping up again? He said something about saline, but it seemed just as likely somehow that he thought that’s what regular boobs are made of. I am barely standing, here, bub. I don’t want to hear about The Wife’s (I think that may be her actual given name) “pontoons.”

Jackass Plumber promised to be quiet, but I was really worried about P., who was trying to sleep so he could function well when the girls got home. We are trying to stay very engaged with them in a normal way. For the first two weeks I was home when I was sleeping, sleeping (pre-steroid wakies) I would force myself to get up around the end of school and let them yam on about their day and ask questions and sign field trip forms and make promises for upcoming kid functions I hoped at least one of us could fulfill.

P. was so tired because he had gotten up with me Thursday morning at 3:30 to take me to the ER, since my breath was getting so short I was wheezing. This was one on my list of red flags supplied by urgent care on Thursday. “Go if your breathing gets worse or is labored.” This won’t get any worse, I thought. And then it woke me up. I’ve never had asthma, but I was told that’s what it looked like and sounded like. The ER is pretty nice at four a.m. on a Thursday. Apparently no one was out getting their arms sliced off or anything, so I had the joint to myself.

They checked for congestive heart failure, since the inflammation is traveling inward and that is a likely place for it to go, and cleared that. I had a CT scan on my lungs to look for blood clots. Being injected with iodine, if you’ve never experienced it, was not fun. It really burned going in, which I was not warned about, since it wasn’t supposed to happen. The pain hit my toes and I started crying. The tech started out by warning me that when it went into my veins it was very warming and I would feel like I was peeing myself, but I wasn’t. That hit me suddenly, and I did have to go, and I was convinced it was happened. “Well, this is it. I’m going to have to tell her now that I actually did it.” But I hadn’t. Dark magicks!

This bad boy took four jabs and two nurses to get in, but thank heavens it worked so they could proceed to poison me with iodine.

I was also given some kind of breathing mask thing that issues a mist that I was supposed to suck down for ten minutes to open me up. “I’m skeptical that this will work,” the ER doctor said, “since I don’t think this is an asthma-type reaction but some other kind of inflammation. But it won’t hurt.”

The nurse removed the mask when the medicine was gone. “Now how’s that?” she asked.

“Are my lungs supposed to hurt now?” I asked, in the most polite tone I could muster. No, she told me, surprised. I knew they were trying to help. Holy hell did I spend the rest of the day annoyed about that every time I coughed. Lung rage. I told them I felt like I had a small cat on my chest now instead of a great big one. I was back to wheezing by last night but now I have an inhaler which seems to be helping?

Also as of yesterday I am losing my voice, so I assume my vocal chords are inflamed as well? My nose is bleeding too (lightly), but I think it’s because my whole body is dry. I douse myself in the take-no-prisoners, wait fifteen minutes before sitting on a slippery surface, industrial-strength moisturizer anyway, because that is how my skin rolls, and it usually is happy for twenty-four hours or so. But my skin on my legs and arms is peeling off in sheets and pills, as if I sustained a bad sunburn weeks ago.

Everyone I see says the same thing–they cannot decide if it is auto-immune attacks (extreme body pain and inflammation), or if I still have an infection (extreme body pain and fevers). Or both. The roulette wheel has been spun and my primary care doc has referred me to an infectious diseases specialist. So I’m going to pay him a visit on Monday. More tests have rolled in–no dengue, no HIV. Still waiting on Lyme’s.

I’m thinking about writing up a little history of this to bring in since it’s long. The timeline. What I feel like now. What I felt like when it was acting like “normal” flu at first. What I feel like when they taper me off steroids right now. (Like this: ;;;;____;;;;) There’s a lot there.

I’m trying to get on part time at work next week and for the next little while. I tried to work full time last week and the first half of the day was decent and productive and the second part of the day was extremely painful and distracting. It’s pretty weird being on a double dose of steroids, now though. I think it’s making me a little manic. So I am shuffling around very productively. I cleaned the leather in my house, and busted out the Murphy’s oil soap and went to town on a midcentury tiled tray that needed some spiffing up. I used to eyeball trays like these at Antika (r.i.p) but they were always four times as much there. But now I have the hook up. I also oil soaped a giant tiki shield that I am going to hang in the bathroom as well, in case some Visigoths invade and I cannot find a towel. Basically I want to oil soap all of the old wood in my house now, especially my velvet painting frames which I can never quite undust completely. I think spring is making me projecty, which I will do very sloooowly.

I’ve been hitting my hook up spot for ye olde crap in search of tiki theme thinggummies for the basement bathroom, which is going to be a janked up fruity paradise wherein I could entice magically undead Gauguin in take a bath with me. (Note to self: procure Gauguin prints.) But of course I see other things there. Like the tray.

No scotch, which is for the best right now, but still kind of a sad look. Part of me wants to fill them with tea or pus or something decorative for just now.

Also, asking for a friend, do you know anything about the care and feeding of these jobbers? This is a lamp, which, when turned on, oil beads cascade down the strings. It is very classy, like courvoisier and pina colada butt lotion However, alas, a couple of strings are “jammed” and the spice does not flow. Also her center needs to be dusted so it’s off for now.

Observant readers will notice that this “friend” also has decided with her impeccable taste and infinite wisdom to paint her dining room bronze as well. Quelle coïncidence!

Seriously though I am going to have to sign P. up for some clubs or something so he can be gone more at dinner time, so he will not obstruct my view of her perfectness.

Okay, I don’t appear to be receiving my life’s guarantee of death today, so I better start its counterpart, taxes.

Superpower: Smug Designated Driving

Friday, March 14th, 2014

You ever see someone from the past, or the not-so-distant past, and just get a BLEAH feeling? Isn’t that funny how a long time later you can still get that?

A couple of weeks ago, when I was kind of hovering between getting over regular flu and lurching into “it hurts to walk” I stopped at the grocery with my sister. There I saw one of my ye olde Seattle roommates. I recognized her immediately–she looked exactly the same. Same terrible clothes, same stumpy self. Just older.

It’s a paradox, really. I find when I dislike someone, they become unattractive to me, no matter how conventionally attractive they are objectively. So of course if I see them again, they are still going to seem unattractive and leave me with a smug and shallow feeling. Of course if I like someone they are quite fetching, even if they have a Nazi penis antler protruding from their forehead. It’s science.

Where was I? Oh yes: BLEAH. I turned down the aisle and pulled a face.

“WHAT?” Morgan asked.

“Oh. Glenda’s here,” I said.

“Her? Christ! You always run into terrible people at this grocery store.”

“I know, and this is my grocery store, so this is really uncool.”

But I was not planning on running into Glenda at all. It would be easy to avoid the aisles she was doing her sinister shopping in.

Glenda was not supposed to be my roommate at all, but she was the best choice among a few bad options. I was being (justifiably) kicked out of my apartment in Illinois and had nowhere to go, really. I wasn’t even eighteen yet. Glenda expressed interest in having a roommate and I jumped to Seattle, turning my upcoming visit with her into a one-way trip.

There was already some bad blood under the bridge, to mangle some metaphors. Before she had moved to Seattle and when we all hung out together, she had slept with one of my boyfriends, basically just because she had felt like it. I never really talked to her about it, because I didn’t know how to handle things like that then. He told me he’d slept with her, and I knew it was his choice as well, and I guess I was just supposed to take it on the chin because it was just sex and now it was over, and hey, wasn’t it great that we were all being honest?

I spent a lot of time crying in secret and plotting revenge, because if there was one thing I was learning from my new older friends and the world of adult work was that you had to pretend you were cool with everything. I learned that the movies were lying liars, and you couldn’t really assume monogamy, and I was the super unreasonable one, not them.

The two of them knew each other before I showed up, and I realized later I was horning in on her unrequited situation. It set this weird dynamic of Glenda seeming to have crushes on guys I was into and dated, and her spending a lot of time subtly negging and slut-shaming me for dating people. I had gotten a weird vibe that Glenda was after him before they slept together, but I didn’t see her as a “threat” because she was straight-edge and acted weird and uptight. My high school boyfriend sleeping with her was just kind of doofusy collateral–he told himself it was just a one-night stand. It meant more to her.

Then Glenda and high school boyfriend drove away together to start a new life in Seattle, while I was left behind, sentenced to one more year of high school. As I watched her car and trailer disappear into the horizon with him in it I had a twinge of jealousy, and a bigger twinge of sadness over missing my toxic friend and ex-boyfriend. I had an image of her as Tantalus–she would have him all the time now, as a roommate, but I was certain that as soon as he entered the limits of a large city with public transit he would become the Hottentot of Twat and she would be just a friend. He moved out again for other reasons, but things were souring, as I heard from both of them separately via whispered conversations on the telephone.

So I had an idea of what living with her was like (terrible, and involved dozens of identical unshared and labeled bottles of sauce), but as I said, I was desperate once I had been kicked out. I was game to make the best of it. She had spent a year living in a big city–I had been disowned by my mother a few months prior–we both had been through some shit and I was sure we’d grown and changed. At least her former roommate and my ex-boyfriend was behind us. We could laugh about that now.

Once we found an apartment together, her number one move was to claim the only bedroom, and to assign me the living room. Reasoning: I was a whorey slutbag, and she didn’t want to be disturbed by the queue of suitors who would be waiting in the hall, clutching onto their paper numbers like in a deli, waiting for me to shout, “NEXT FUCK!” Looking back, I’m really not sure what the thought was there. I mean, she had enough game to sleep with my boyfriend, why was this the agreement? And why did I agree to split the rent evenly in exchange for no privacy?

The other big issue with us was food. Surprise, white girls in the United States having food issues. I’ll bet you’ve never heard this one. I was a french fry vegetarian at the time, which is to say I didn’t know about tofu or beans or vegetables that weren’t canned or frozen. I started branching out a little, and began buying mushrooms (which was a thing that was always canned, limp, and slightly odd-colored when I was a kid) and small onions. Being a lazy vegetarian suited my situation quite well, since it was probably one of the cheapest ways I could have eaten at the time, and I was broke, of course. I bought tiny frozen “meals,” three for a dollar for lunch, and marveled at my sexy protruding hipbones, which were actually saying, “Hey, nutrition moron, you are actually not eating enough calories or protein.” I attributed it to all the walking I was doing, which I’m sure helped.

Glenda generously took me to Safeway with her in her car once a week to shop, for which I was very grateful. She was a vegetarian as well, teetering on the edge of veganism–eschewing dairy and eggs. The fridge was full of “smart” “cheese” and other soy products. We both obtained copies of the weekly coupon circular beforehand and would dutifully tear out coupons we needed. I had discovered before she moved to Seattle that she split checks down to the penny at restaurants, which has never, ever been my way. What I think none of my friends know is that sometimes they will go to the loo and I will SNEAK ATTACK and pick up the bill, in part because of Glenda’s inability to say, “You can make up the difference next time” or “I am not going to make a fuss over thirteen cents.” It was NOT POSSIBLE for her to do this. However, it made me discover that I like treating people, as well as being treated, and I like saying things like, “Next time it will be my turn.”

This annoying penny-splitting propensity of hers carried to the grocery store somehow. We would leave the store and she would demand to see my receipt. What had I spent this week?

“Uh…$47.63?” I’d say.

“HA!” she’d shout. “I spent $46.18!”

I’d look at her, my face nonplussed, but secretly annoyed underneath. What kind of weird game was this? And was the ride to the grocery store worth it?

Then there was my cooking. I was an indolent kid, and sometimes I would scramble some eggs with cheese and then flee off into the sunset. I should have washed my pan, I know. Glenda gave me lots of grief about the torment of having to smell cooked eggs and real cheddar in the kitchen, and how disgusting it was, and therefore how disgusting I was by extension. She did not like meat, eggs, dairy, alcohol, chocolate, or drugs, and informed me of all of this on a regular basis. Then she would retreat to her vestal virgin fortress of smugitude, muttering something about chicken abortions before closing her door and blasting Pearl Jam.

I turned eighteen in that apartment, and Glenda, two years older than me, turned twenty. The summer after high school in Illinois I worked with a friend who turned twenty-one, and she kicked down a still-unexpired ID of a woman from Minnesota, who was a good match for me. We both had black hair and were similar sized, and our faces were close enough. I memorized every detail of it and practiced her signature. I even knew her star sign. Naturally I brought this with me to Seattle, of course, and used it to get into shows. Occasionally I used it to buy a terrible jug of Carlos Rossi or Gato Negro, but that was a rare thing.

One of Glenda’s favorite bands was touring when she was about two months shy of twenty-one. In spite of the fact that she had frizzy blonde hair to my dyed black, and outclassed me by at least 50 pounds, I let her borrow it. It never came back again.

“They confiscated it.” No offer to try to find me another one, and no offer to make it up in some other way. She was mostly mad she couldn’t get in and bootleg the show. Seattle didn’t have much of an all-ages scene then, and suddenly I found myself at home most nights, reading.

I had introduced her to another high school ex-boyfriend of mine while we were still all together in Illinois, and interestingly he had moved away at about the same time she had, but to Phoenix instead of Seattle. I couldn’t really blame all of my young adult friends for fleeing, but it still sucked. Ecstatic to get away from Illinois on my school breaks, I visited him during my senior year a couple of times and he talked about us getting back together after I graduated, but I wasn’t totally keen on this idea. I had heard him drop some racist slurs when he lost his temper on one visit, and I knew we weren’t a great match in other ways. I wanted a fresh start after high school and was hoping to meet some new douchebags in my shiny new future before I ended up in jail or whatever was coming.

After I moved to Seattle to live with Glenda he almost immediately came to visit, hoping to rekindle things. Glenda orchestrated the visit–it really wasn’t really discussed with me. It was made clear to me that she had decided that her friend was visiting her. I expressed my displeasure at having to share close quarters with him. She worked during the day and I was so newly arrived that I was still job hunting. When I was not turning in applications, he spent his visit following me around on the bus and trying to be extra perfect nice guy. I was so, so not feeling it. I wanted to be alone, to explore Seattle by myself. He told me he was considering moving to Seattle. Meanwhile I got the same creepy feeling that she had a huge crush on him, much like with my other boyfriend. They can have each other, I thought.

But he wasn’t interested in Glenda. He spent one of the last nights of his visit talking at me for hours about how we should get back together and how great it would be and how we could get an apartment and make horror films and get tattoos together and by the way could he see my labia piercing? He had heard about it.

NO. NO. Also, no. He went back to Phoenix for a couple of months and got hit by a car when he was bicycling to work, which made me sad, but he was okay. I think that was kind of a last straw for him, because as soon as he recovered he moved here.

“So I was thinking he could live with us for a while until he can find his own place,” Glenda said. “He can stay in my room.” She always had a bunk bed–why? WHY?

“NO NO NO NO NO,” I protested. “He CANNOT live here! We’re not getting along! He’s being creepy right now! He has a HEAD INJURY!” This last part was technically true, from the car accident, but he was acting weird before that. He had pushed me over the edge with his last visit and the four-hour attempt to “wear me down” into getting back together with him.

“Well, I’ve decided. He’s coming to live with us.”

UGH. I knew I had to move out, pronto. I looked around for a second job so I could save some money.

Living with him did not go well. Sometimes we would sit on my bed and read comics together. Other times there was so much tension we would literally fistfight (I won). I was so stressed out I was getting weird and would do things like drunkenly roll around on hallway floor, singing PJ Harvey at the top of my lungs, no doubt picking up loose kitty litter while my fake eyelashes fell off. (I was going through kind of a a Dorothy Vallens from Blue Velvet thing then.) (Token goth.)

A good thing that happened was that Glenda began to keep her door closed at night, after my ex began sleeping in her room on the top bunk. This meant she could no longer wait until I’d gone to bed to call Nietzsche into her room and keep her there with treats so Nietzsche would sleep with her. That’s NACHO CAT, lady. I would lay in bed and steam as I would hear her call, “Here kitty, kitty” so softly. I was such a doormat then.

In the midst of all of this tension, the three of us were all still attempting to be friends. We still hung out and went bowling and talked, and did other pre-dotcom hip urban grungy Seattle youth things with other local Seattle youths. My relationship with SeaFed was coming along, though no one knew he was haranguing me about marriage, so I saw that there was an end in sight of living with Glenda, at least.

One day she called me from work about something and we chatted for a few minutes.

“Did you still want to borrow that Henry Rollins book?” she asked. “I’ve finished it.”

She told me it was just under her bunk bed and I could go into her room and grab it. I was rarely in her room at that point and I felt kind of weird coming in. My ex was going out more, and had found a job, and was preparing to move into his own place, finally. I knew he had spent the last night out at show and that she and I were alone in the apartment. I didn’t immediately see the book. I walked to her bed, got down on my knees and took a look.

I saw it there–the corner of it, and reached for it. The book was surrounded by some kind of trash, I noticed, which surprised me. Glenda was a packrat but I didn’t think of her as a person who would keep garbage in her room. Then I figured out what it was. Fast food wrappers, dozens of them. Wrappers for burgers made with real beef, egg sandwich wrappers, all with congealed American cheese stuck on them. Next to that, giant bags of bulk Valentine’s chocolates and empty foil wrappers everywhere. I pictured my quasi-vegan roommate, alone in her room, chowing down on burgers and chocolate, two things she claimed to despise. I thought of the months of grief I’d gotten for scrambling eggs and shamed for being indulgent enough to buy half of a pudding cake on sale at Safeway. I suddenly felt very, very tired.

My perspective changed then and became less combative, more compassionate. I didn’t really understand what was going on with her, but it was obvious there was a lot of conflict there. I don’t believe for one second that Glenda wanted to be me, but maybe she wanted to be a little freer. I have often thought over the years about how she surrounded herself with people who used drugs, often hard ones, who drank, who smoked, who enjoyed chocolate and sex. I know what when we’re young we often find ourselves with people who are bad matches (case in point), but I still wonder about her weird guilt/vicarious living thing.

I hope she’s happy now, and can do what she wants without guilt. Maybe she grew up into not-an-asshole, but I wasn’t going to find out. I kind of lingered around the grocery store, letting her go through the line first, and then we spied on her like creeps from inside as she loaded her groceries into her car.

“She looks so old,” my sister observed.

“I know, it’s weird, isn’t it? She’s only a couple of years older than me.”

“Really? Wow.”

“Well, it’s our evil genes on Mom’s side that causes more of a contrast,” I said, patting my unlined, petal-like cheek.

“Ha!”

“She was a bad friend to me,” I said, watching her drive off. But it was complicated.

It’s only a flesh wound

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

THE PROBLEM with effective medication is that when it is working I somehow manage to tell myself I was kind of imagining the whole thing in the first place. I felt pretty good last night, except for my poor pounding head, but I stayed in bed anyway, sensibly. Still, part of me was going, “Wow, what a drama queen. I knew I would get better. Too bad I wasted everyone’s time. I bet I’ll be back to work tomorrow.” Likewise if I saw my severed head across the room somewhere I’d be like “Eh I must have an ingrown, bring me a tweezer.” It’s stupid.

I did the same thing in Hawaii recently. I mentioned we went on a short hike in a pretty national park after the jellyfish stings and before we all started having the 2014 Asshole Ranch Sing-a-long. While I lay in bed and in between trips to the hotel room’s loo I noticed my calves were stiffening up.

“You’re limping,” P. said.

“Am I?” I asked. LYING. Could anyone be more annoying? JUST ADMIT YOU ARE LIMPING, idiot. I probably even said something like, “I can still fight you.”

My calves knotted up and he insisted on rubbing them, which was really nice. After three really gentle tries (the skin was painful to touch) he got them to loosen a little so the muscles resembled normal calf muscles again, and not lumpy steel bars.

“I have a problem with those stupid shortie stairs,” I said. “I bet this is why I’m sore.” You know those weenie stairs that are supposed to make a climb easier but they are just annoying and make you feel like you’re skittering along like Pekingese or a centipede or something. WHO ARE THOSE FOR? The park was riddled with them up to the lookout area.

So that was the beginning, I guess, which I kind of ignored.

“I feel like I’ve been poisoned,” I told the doctor yesterday. I actually kind of know what that’s like. I told him the only other time I’ve had a headache like this when when I was about Strudel’s age and I had blood sepsis. I will never forget that headache.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I had keratosis pilaris as a kid, which I was very self-conscious about. My friends always noticed and asked about them, and some people thought it was contagious. I had no idea what it was, that it was no big deal, really, and that a large percentage of the population has it. I asked my mother about it when I was little but it was considered one of the great mysteries of our time.

“I have no idea,” she would say for the umpteenth time, exhaling her cigarette at me impatiently. “All I know is that it appeared two hours after you were born and never went away.” Translation: I had a stupid baby and then it got covered in an ugly rash. Once, for reasons I cannot fathom, I was fretting about “leg bumps” and she told me that she got them too. MAN, what a relief! I wasn’t just a mystery mutant. Years later in high school I told her how nice that was to hear.

“Oh, that,” she said. “Well, I don’t remember that, but I think I was just lying to make you feel better.”

Strudel has inherited my KP but she’s fairly philosophical about it since we know what it is and how to manage it somewhat. She went through a phase of ripping her arms up like I did, and was always covered in a few scabs. I wore long tee shirts and no tank tops for years to hide the damage. She is less self-conscious. I have gently pointed out the results of her excavations and the scars and she tries to leave them alone. I keep a loofah for her for when she can be cajoled into showering, and we talk about the importance of moisturizing.

Needless to say, I was not allowed to pick at myself. I have an early memory of sobbing and trying to read a book with mittens on, which I was forced to wear sometimes. On a good day, my parents were rather Victorian in their parenting techniques.

So when one of my little bumps went awry on my arm, I kept it a secret. I think I was almost ten. I guess I got some dirt in it from my disgusting kid fingernails, because it went toxic. My grandmother was visiting and I remember we went to a little former mining town that had become one of those cute tourist traps. We had lunch and toured old homes which had been turned into museums. There is a picture of me in the corner of one of these preserved Victorian homes, pale and strained-looking.

“Why won’t you smile?” my mother asked, wielding the camera at me. Because I feel like laying down and dying but I think it’s my fault and I don’t want to be punished. I had gotten over a lot of things on my own, in secret, even lying about how ill I was. I could lick this as well.

But my body couldn’t fight it off. I woke up in the middle of the night, my head pounding. I knew I would be in trouble if I woke my parents up over a trifle like this. I came to my grandmother, crying, who sensibly woke my parents up when she discovered I was on fire and crying from the pain I was in.

“Do you have any idea why you’re so sick?” the doctor at the hospital asked. I shrugged. I had my suspicions. I reluctantly pulled back my sleeve to reveal the throbbing source of pain on my arm. I uncovered a festering scab, only about the size of a pencil eraser, the skin around it red and tender, with a three-inch red streak that was snaking its way up to find my heart. His eyes went wide.

“What happened there?” he asked, alarmed.

“I think it was a bug bite,” I lied.

“WHY didn’t you tell us?” my mother hissed at me after the doctor left.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” I said.

My poor grandmother had to spend the rest of her visit minding a sick kid, but she was probably happy in a way to have a captive audience to watch her soaps with. I remember her being on the phone with my Aunt Kesa from back home while I convalesced on the couch.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” she said, sotto voce. “I have never seen a kid cry silently before.”

So this is that headache. And the Predisone is only lasting about 18 hours. I hear back about my first round of bloodwork today so I hope this will be short-lived. If not, I’ll just walk it off. Ha!

The Bad Neighbor

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I’ve moved five times in the past ten years, as I could afford something better, as we were outgrowing places, and so forth. Pretty standard for renters with young kids, I’d imagine.

As a result, I’ve had a lot of neighbors. Some places I didn’t know them at all, and some I knew all of them. I had a neighbor throw a two-day party under my bedroom window in the summer who later threatened to kill my indoors-only cat for pooping in his bushes (it was just Nietzsche, you see, who could go incorporeal at will, and not all the other outdoor cats in the neighborhood). This was probably the worst one. I had a sweet old Swedish grandma type. I had a Moonpants. I’ve tried to be a good neighbor when I could, and most people have done the same.

However, I am now, decidedly, The Bad Neighbor.

This is funny to me, because we moved to a neighborhood where you barely see your neighbors. This, no doubt, lent a hand in our immediate robbery after moving in. To this day I cannot get the neighbor across the street to even acknowledge my existence as his neighbor, in spite of directly greeting him multiple times and very obviously coming in and out of my fence. He does talk to P. so I suppose that’s something. Point being, it’s just not a very social street.

It took eight months, but I finally made contact recently with the lady next door. It turns out she’s the one who left an anonymous cake on our porch right before Christmas. I thought about going door-to-door and asking who was nice enough to leave us a “welcome cake” as the unsigned note said, but then it was Christmas and I didn’t want to bother anyone. I was weeding the front bed when she walked up.

“Hi, I’m the one who left you the cake on your porch for Christmas,” she said first thing.

“Oh, that was you. I wondered. Thanks!”

“Well, there was a note.”

“I’m sorry, it was unsigned. I wasn’t sure,” I said.

“Hmmph.”

Strike one: I was an Anonacake Ingrate.

She went on to ask about my cats and told me they were pooping in her flowerbeds.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. “I can give you some tips…” She interrupted me then and took her leave shortly thereafter, but not before she took in the giant gold vampire head on my porch and my children and me and my flaming red door. I got the picture we were not her first choice for neighbors.

On the border of our mildly conflicted nations there is a laurel hedge. P. has been working to cut it back over time since it was about eight feet wider than it needed to be to still provide a privacy hedge. I wasn’t thrilled with how it looked at first, especially as I saw holes appearing, but it has filled in quickly as they usually do. Then he moved on to another shrub and proudly showed me the bonafide face-height hole which exposed one of her windows. When we moved in you could not even see her house. I panicked.

“We have to go to the hardware store NOW!” I said.

“Wha? Why?” he asked.

“NO TIME TO EXPLAIN, GET IN THE CAR.”

As it turns out, there was time to explain, since the hardware store is five minutes away.

“We need a bamboo screen thingie or something,” I said.

“Okay, why?”

“Well, we’re looking at ten years here, probably. She’s not that old. She’s already mad about the anonacake and our cats. I think we should plug that hole.”

He got it and we did.

Then there is the matter of my address. I filled out the little form to change my address before moving, as you do. I filled out P’s at the same time, since address changes were on my to-do list for moving. I double checked the address before dropping them in the mail. They were both the same, and correct, and as neatly printed as my deformed-from-years-of-typing hand could make them. P. started getting mail, and I started getting *some* mail. At first I didn’t think I was missing anything, since I got the deluge of catalogs you get when your mortgage broker and real estate agency sells you out.

Within a couple of weeks, our letter carrier figured it out–all my mail was going a couple of blocks up the street. One number had been entered incorrectly at the post office. Of course the letter carrier told me I filled out the form wrong, to which I said nothing, because it doesn’t matter. She put in for a change and all my first class mail started being forwarded correctly. The poor neighbor whose house my mail was going to had dutifully bundled some of my mail and had passed it along to the letter carrier, along with an angry note scrawled in pencil, “Figure out your mail forwarding! I’m going to start sending this back!!” Actually I’d prefer that to the note and the puddle my mail had been dropped into. Then the sender would know the mail was going to the wrong place.

Because of this early mistake, apparently this neighbor is now doomed to get my junk mail for all time. I still get junk mail forwarded with angry pencil scrawl, which I recycle. I know my neighbor isn’t walking it up the street, because I have a locked mailbox. The letter carrier is “forwarding” these pieces up the street. I thought about dropping them a note letting the neighbor know what the situation is, but I am not sure I want someone who is this angry to know where I live. So I will keep recycling the junk.

This weekend I am going to finish up an application for a writing fellowship that’s due Monday. It’s drafted, I just need to make sure it’s perfect. And then I will enjoy this lovely rainy weather. Happy summer. :(

I hope this is the worst GAL in Seattle

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

I have wanted to tell you about this for MONTHS. Fortunately I wrote it all down in a much more professional and concise format because I knew I was going to be reporting what follows to the appropriate board when it was over, so I have not forgotten anything.

I believe I mentioned my guardian ad litem for our case was removed by the court in January. Here is what I say to you: if you are faced with a list of GALs outside of a courtroom, after being ordered to use one, and there is no more information on said list than their name and prices, I SAY TO YOU, take 5 and search that shit. Even if your lawyer is saying, “I’ve worked with this person, they’re fine.” I know not everyone has a smart phone, but do your best. There’s crackpots out there who will review, you know, DMVs and post offices, but if you see a pattern in the reviews, think twice. I was too trusting in choosing from a list of people who work with a vulnerable population that was provided by the family court. This is your kid, you know?

I think I have said this before, but to be clear about why all this was happening…the purpose of the GAL in our case was to have a “neutral party” to speak with us and Franny and advocate for what Franny wanted and what would be best for her as far as the visitation schedule goes. Franny is not old enough to testify in court in Washington State. The GAL was to testify in court and submit a report of her conclusions about these issues.

The GAL that came to the top of the list was Karin Ballantyne. Karin was appointed way back in December 2011, when it was first decided we could change the parenting plan. We were supposed to go through mediation, and if we could not settle by those means we would avail ourselves of the GAL option. We got to that point in August 2012 and finally, I had to retain her (SeaFed refused to pay his half). Karin said she would do a “short” report since we didn’t have a lot of time before our trial date in early October, so her normal retainer was cut almost in half.

I was to meet with her alone first and there was a hiccup from the get go. We set an appointment via email and she told me what time to meet her at her office, but didn’t specify which day. There was a range of days and it was unclear if it was supposed to be the next day or the day after. I sent her a final clarifying email, expecting to hear back quickly, to the effect of, “Sorry, tomorrow or Thursday?” No response, so I sent her an email telling her I would assume the appointment was for the first day unless I heard back from her. I came to her office the next day, and she did not. I called her and left a message and sent her an email telling her I was there. I felt like I should be careful about giving every appearance of taking this seriously, since I was, of course.

I bring this up because it set the pattern. I was willing to give her a pass on the first time, because we all communicate poorly sometimes, and my motto is usually “shit happens, man,” which has to be said in the voice of The Dude, naturally. Later that day, she replied to the email with (I summarize): “Whoops, see you tomorrow.” She never got back to me in less than twenty-four hours in the beginning, which is fine if appointments are clear. (I find in life that the people who set clear appointments in the first place are generally the ones who are willing to get back to you if you have questions.)

Before the first meeting I spent four hours filling out her short and long intake forms. The long form had about 120 questions and I provided about a paragraph for most questions. There were questions like “What led to the ultimate break-up of the relationship with the other parent? Who initiated the decision and action to end the relationship? What impact has this had on the current situation?” My lawyer encouraged me to paint a complete picture of the situation and it was hard to delve way back into the past. A lot of the questions applied to events that had happened over ten years ago.

I didn’t know what to expect with our meeting. I’ve met with therapists, psychologists, lawyers, drug and alcohol assessment counselors inside and outside of court orders. The usual protocol is to show up, keep your pants on, and tell your side of things.

Once we sat down, Karin hit me with this one: “Sooo I have a new assistant and she seems to have LOST your paperwork. Can you remind me who the people are in this case?” I thought at first this might be some kind of test to see how I handled weird curve balls like this, seriously. Why was I meeting with her if she had no idea who I was, and what the issues were? How could she lose paperwork that I had emailed and posted to her? My understanding was that SeaFed had not bothered to fill his out, so at least she did not just have his side of things. I had to get organized in my head, QUICKLY, and stay on point with what we wanted from a parenting plan.

I started speaking and she asked if SeaFed was a different person with the same last name whose case she was also handling. Then she went on to give me the details of that family’s case, including their names, the age and gender of their child, and where they lived. Alarm bells. What a breach of confidentiality! Holy shit, this lady was crazy! And she was appointed to our case! Fuck fuck fuck. Could I walk out? Could I just be nice and pray since at that point she had all the power and we didn’t have time to get a new person? Maybe this was all a mindfuck and she was great, like I’d been told.

I spent the next hour trying to cram in anything she wanted to know about the case. I didn’t expect anyone with an eidetic memory to handle our case, but I was hoping this shit would at least sound familiar to her. She scribbled notes, obviously hearing about everything for the first time. Somehow it came up that I am gay, that it’s part of my identity.

“What!” she scoffed. “You can’t be gay. You have two children by two different men.”

I thought of telling her how, a woman who looks “straight” (Well, do I? I don’t know. I think I look like myself. I don’t get hit on in straight meat-market clubs, that’s for sure, never have), who doesn’t have a strong preference for any gender is going to be likely to, statistically speaking, meet and settle with a straight man. Because unless you really do have a preference and seek a certain type of person out, then straight men are what’s falling out of trees around you. I did say something about dating women in the past, and did not tell her that one of my worst heartbreaks was at the hands of an ice princess Betty Draper type years ago. Grace Kelly, you are my kryptonite. I felt very much like not a whole or real person at that moment. However, I knew I was only one piece of this puzzle, and that I was there for Franny, and endeavored to move on.

“So you’re bisexual,” she told me.

Again I thought of all the delightful and sexy transmen I have been fortunate to know over the years, and have had connections with…you know what, oh fuck it. This was not my Norma Rae moment. This was not the first time I’ve heard I’m not gay, or am a certain type. I’m pretty frickin gay. Bring in a muffin, I will butter it. Is there a casual way to tell someone you just met that you’re Jerri Blank with slightly better teeth?

“…Okay,” I said.

We got to what court had been like in the wayback, and I told her it was challenging, because there were crazy allegations and statements flying around in 2004, and it was obfuscating what I felt was the heart of the matter. She wanted to know what the dirty stuff flying around was. I was like hey, he’s not really paying attention to this kid when she’s in his care, and it’s dangerous sometimes. What came back in court from his side was, “SJ is a satanist/zoosexual who was so bad her parents had to abuse her. Also she eats too much ice cream.”

Okay. You got me. I love ice cream.

Karin began talking about how she read some really wild erotica in the 70s or something about having sex with animals and how that “freaky” stuff could be really sexy sometimes if it was just in the realm of fantasy. I felt like she was expecting me to say…something? About this? Like she was making a safe space for my true confessions? I had nothing to say. This all seemed about as safe as a stampeding bull covered in hypodermic needles of questionable origin.

Outwardly I sighed. Inwardly I imagined myself fleeing so fast that my bones, organs, and muscles would rip free of the rest of me, leaving a deflated sack of skin and some sad pink weave in her chair. The rest of my time was spent being regaled with tales of how amicable her divorce was. That’s marvy. Really. Uh huh. Wait, you had more to ask me but our time’s up? Okay.

SO THAT WENT WELL. DON’T YOU THINK? I went home and felt like this for about three days:”AAAAAAH!!!!!” I immediately emailed my lawyer a complete account of what had happened, and that I had taken it very seriously but had extreme reservations about Karin’s competence. My lawyer said she thought that was all very strange, and hoped that obtaining the report would give us what we wanted since court was zooming right up.

Then she was supposed to meet with SeaFed, but he gave her some busy-and-important jive and they had a phone interview instead. This is after she gave me a big spiel about how she would be handling both parties absolutely equally. “If I inspect your house, I will go and inspect his as well.” And so on. Then Karin met with him and Franny together in her office to watch her interact with her parents separately. It was a Sunday night and Karin asked me if I could pick Franny up from her office since SeaFed was to return her Monday morning. Could I do him that favor? Of course. I was assured he would be gone.

I rounded the corner to the street that her building’s door opened out to, and BANG, there was SeaFed with Karin and Franny. I felt the blood drain out of my face. I really don’t enjoy running into him unexpectedly. My face always goes all “AMG, VOLDEMORT!” which, come on SJ, get a fucking grip already. I stammered a few pleasantries and took Franny away. It was obvious Karin saw me blanch.

“Well, that was weird,” Franny said, as we walked away to where I was parked.

“What?” I said, recovering slightly and becoming a human with loose joints and regular circulation again.

“She’s just weird, Mom. I don’t like her. And I know you weren’t expecting to see my dad just then, I could tell.”

“It’s okay, it’s just your dad. It was a surprise, is all. How did it go?”

“My dad was acting faaaaake. He asked me before we left his house this afternoon what I want for the schedule and I told him, and then in the meeting he acted like he didn’t know any of that.”

“Jesus, I’m sorry. Let’s go get some sushi.”

Then I had my kid-parent meeting with Karin. She called me the day of to tell me she did not have time to meet at her office because she was coming from somewhere on the Eastside, and could we meet someplace “neutral” in my neighborhood? I suggested a coffee shop. Franny was filled with dread at going through everything again. Karin was an hour late. Basically we played a few word and story games and she watched us interact. Karin asked to be alone with her at the end and spoke to Franny about what she wanted. She met me at the door of the coffee shop with Franny and said she would be submitting the report in a week, in plenty of time for the final paperwork like the brief to be due in early September.

And I never saw or heard from her again. DUN DUN DUNNN.

What happened after that, I can cover pretty quickly. We were ready for court in October and SeaFed even turned in his hilarious bag of mess he called his legal brief so we were locked and loaded. Karin did not produce the report and gave several excuses about being ill/on vacation. We had two continuances because of her, and she was finally removed in January. All of my legal fees from October to January were due to her delays.

My lawyer did get in touch with her a couple of times. Karin said she would be “crafting a communication plan” for me and SeaFed, to which my lawyer responded that we had been communicating pretty well up until this recent action thanks. Karin was concerned about how “scared” I looked upon seeing him unexpectedly. No comment. Karin also wanted to know, oh, was this the supervised custody case? To which I say: Facepalm.

In late February I emailed her briefly, telling her that as she knew by now, she had been removed from the case over a month ago, and I would like my money refunded since no report was provided, and I expected it in my mailbox by March 15. I could hear her cackling upon receipt of this email in my head, but I had to officially ask. March 15th came and went, and the following Monday I went to the courthouse and filed a small claim to recover the retainer and some of the legal fees.

She did respond to my email with more batshit smokescreenery in the form of, I kid you not, “I just found the paperwork removing me from your case in my closet this weekend.” (???!!!) Lady, if your letter carrier is sending your mail to your CLOSET and not telling you, you might want to get a new owl, I’m just saying. How is this an excuse? She also blamed my lawyer for sending emails to an old email address. Really. I happened to know her legal assistant had called Karin’s office several times, and had reached her for some of them. Also that Karin was apprised of the case schedule, and so on. She said of course she would return my money–she did want to do right by me. Karin said she had the report ready, did I want it now? Umm, no thanks. I did not reply.

I took a spin online to find her home address via public real estate records (librarian powers activate) so I would have something to write on the small claims form. I knew her office hours were sporadic and self-set, so it would be almost impossible to have her served there. In my searching I found where she was going to be later that week–bankruptcy court! FAAABULOUS. Was there even a point in trying to recover my money?

Ultimately I decided it was worth a try, since personal bankruptcy did not protect one from things like fees owed, was my understanding, but from “unsecured loans” like credit card debt. I don’t think I will ever see my fees but I would like it to be part of public record that Karin took my money, worked with my child, and did jack shit but prolong this process and stress my kid out further. I’ve taken a lot of bullpucky in the pooper during this process, but NOBODY FUCKS WITH THE FRANNY. When I was searching for her address I also found other online reviews like “Karin is of exceptionally low personal character” and “Karin will take your check and do nothing.” That sounds familiar.

After I paid the fee to file the claim, I went to the sheriff’s clerk’s office, where I could pay another fee to engage them to serve the papers for me.

“Can I tell you if I know exactly where she’s going to be on a certain day this week?”

“Sure,” the clerk said. “But there’s no guarantee we’ll have someone available at that time to come to that place. Where is it?”

I gave him the deets of when and where her bankruptcy court was and he wrote it down.

“I hope it works out, since it’s at this courthouse,” I said.

So I have ANOTHER court date in May. Wow I love court. I’m going to set up a yurt outside of the sheriff’s office. And what I really hope is that this lady loses her license and is not allowed to work with vulnerable people any longer.

This basically summarizes my experience in court so far:

Prattling about writing and stalkers and Non-Yum

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

I think I struck a chord with my last post. Thanks, everyone who commented. I really wish it was a comment section full of, “As usual, SJ, we have no idea what you’re talking about.” But life’s not like that, is it?

I have pictures to post this weekend and more writings to make and I wrote for two hours this morning. Boy howdy! Shauny was telling me that she’s using something called 750 Words sometimes. I thought, shit bitches, I am not writing anything close to that! Maybe just a page…. I decided to pay attention to my word count for a couple of days. 1500 one day, and 2100 this morning when I had two hours to write.

Of course, it’s not the word count that’s the primary point. It’s just that it’s fairly easy to knock out and make progress pretty fast. I forgot about this. My mindhack (oh yes I did) for this is to time myself. I started with ten-minute bursts because I cannot justify my way out of ten minutes. Now I am on 30-minute solid bursts where I don’t talk to anyone or look at the internet for “research” or stop unless I really need to. I was really worried about being sick or tired, so if that happens I am going to cut back to ten minutes and see if I can do more from there. The tiniest amount of progress will keep the story fresh in my head.

This story is running on its own steam now–I’ve got it charted (in my head, at least) from start to finish. It’s nice to have one of those periods where you can see it all like a movie and you’re just transcribing what happened. I’ll spend more time this weekend and I suspect it might top out around 20k words in another week or so. I have promised one of my very favorite people that I will put it up somewhere else NOT on iasshole so it has a home and doesn’t get lost and people can download it. The antidote to my mother’s voice in my head calling my writing pretentious is bossy people who I love. Bossing me. The muscle’s coming back fast and it’s like I never stopped now.

Now I have something embarrassing to tell you, which is an unusual occurrence around here, I know. This, however, does not involve things getting stuck in my vagina or whatever, so feel free to wander off. Some time ago I stumbled upon this article, about, yes, Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret. I’ll summarize, since it really doesn’t need to even have an article’s worth of words attached to it. .5 Think about the thing you want to make progress on and do every day. 1. Get a full year’s wall calendar (“year-at-a-glance”) 2. Make an X every day you do the thing you want to do. 3. Don’t break the chain. Now that I am over a week in, it is already hard to think about breaking it.

I have a growing wall of red Xs hanging inside the door of my pantry and it is making me happy. When I walk into work in the morning, I feel like even if I lay under my desk all day (WHICH I WOULD NEVER DREAM OF DOING, COUGH) I would have accomplished enough for the day.

I know what I am writing about after this first story, and then I will have to figure something else out after that, but I have time.

I realized that I have been writing steadily for half my life now. I wrote my first story when I was nine about some cat detectives in the future who have fedoras and Model-Ts except, twist, they are Model-T hovercars. And then 25 years or so later I discovered I basically wrote Meow, The Jury, except shorter. I guess I have always loved noir the best.

As an aside, Jerry Seinfeld always gives me a cringe because when I was a barista in college in Phoenix there was a guy who came in every day, Ted. Ted became very fixated on me and chatted me up most days I worked. He saw me in my terrible Coffee Plantation uniform with my hair in a ponytail every day. I remember Seinfeld was in its last season then, and the media was kind of spacking out about it all and it was kind of idle small talk. This is the time I informally think of as “before pop culture went kablooie” via the internet being what it is today and 50 gajillion cable channels. The splintering. Lots of people were watching Seinfeld.

As an aside within my aside, I was thinking that hardly anyone comes really close to an almost complete overlap in pop culture interests anymore, but at the same time, you can catch someone up in 30 seconds via your pocket computer. So that’s a trade. I realized my Feral Dwarf doesn’t really grok Bugs Bunny references and it may not matter. Bugs Bunny is kind of an asshole. But she can quote Strong Bad, who is an entertaining asshole.

Anyway. My stalker. He was quoting classic Seinfeldy quotes at me and trying to make me laugh and whatnot. I was trying to smile and make as many tips off the tightwads who came through Phoenix’s “fancy” mall as possible. [Actual customer quote: "I have socks that are worth more than you."] Of course he inquired about my relationship status none-to-subtly with my five a.m. opening shift buddy, who was a peach and a really hard worker, and reignited my love of hiphop via one of those restaurant satellite stations. You have not lived until you have ground several pounds of coffee for the drip urns in preparation to the morning rush by 5:20 a.m., getting some kind of weird contact high from the powdered beans floating in the air while dancing to “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” Actually, that is a lie. Even if you have not done that I believe you when you say you’ve lived.

So it’s that thing where you have young girl with nametag who is trapped behind counter and is actually paid to smile, or at least not spit at you. Why does this equal consent? When I was younger I really had issues with men in their 50s-60s hitting on me (I know, I know, this is not an uncommon phenomenon), however, it would really throw fuel on the fire when they would pry into my interests and discover I was basically a 50-year-old woman who looked 20. I did things like dinner theatre, martinis, watercolor classes, Frank Sinatra, gardening, and “being in bed by 9 p.m.” Wait, once when I was 21 or so I accidentally drank red wine AND NyQuil within an hour of each other, and had a really far-out time listening to “Sketches of Spain.” (I had kind of a wild couple of months when I was about 27-and-a-half but I am basically back to being 50 again.) I should have said that I was totally like into parasailing and whatever was on the radio in 1998?? Aguilera?? I don’t know. Ted started getting really overt in the guise of (loudly) talking to himself as he would stir sugar into his coffee: “Yeppers, I could really use an SJ in my life.” I am getting freaked out just typing that fifteen years later.

“Does he not have a job?” I asked my opening buddy one morning as we sliced bagels. She had told me Ted was asking about me and what my schedule was.

“Oh no, he used to come in here a lot before, but then he won the lottery and quit his job. Now he’s here every day.”

“The lottery-lottery?”

“Yeah, he’s loaded.”

This made it sadder, somehow. ASU was a stone’s throw away and he could have pulled any one of hundreds of Britney clones there, but instead he was bothering a sweaty, dairy-vomit-smelling child bride who dyed her hair brown on purpose, and not for any smart reason, like covering grey. I just wanted it browner.

One day on my day off I came in to pick up my paper paycheck so I could spend it on sensible shoes or vegetables or something. Ted was sitting outdoors, which was unusual, because he usually sat within earshot of where I would work on the hot machine.

“Hi SJ!” he shouted at me across the parking lot. Ted’s weaselly face lit up as I pushed my goggles up on top of my head and swung my leg over my scooter. Man, this was his lucky week. He got six days of SJ! As I approached him his face changed and became very confused-looking.

“Hey, Ted,” I replied when I got within polite talking distance. I was never one to shout across parking lots unless someone was in danger or something. “What’s crackin?”

“Uh, nothing…” He blanched a little in the toasty Phoenix springtime sun and looked down into his coffee.

“Okay, see you later, Mr. Chatty.”

As I walked into my store I forgot I was wearing short shorts and a shirt I had picked up at one of the only piercing shops in Honolulu in 1996. It featured cartoony, Coop-like scantily-clad women. One was bent over and trussed up with a ball gag in her mouth, and the other woman was flogging her. The name of the shop, which I believe was Sin, was featured over the picture.

Ted rarely spoke to me after that. I should have thought of it months before!

In Other News.

My old boss sent me this picture today and I captioned it. Oh Friday.

What’s Happening to My Body? / UP BETIMES AND GREATLY CHEERED

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Why do I have hair in funny places? Is it wrong to want to look under the vicar’s cassock? CAN I GET ASS PREGNANT BY SOMEONE OUTSIDE OF MY PROFESSIONAL FIELD, i.e. DMV WORKERS?

I have something to add to the annals me not being able to figure out what is happening to my body. I think I mentioned recently I hurt my shoulder in September and that I was going to physical therapy. I think I hurt myself in yoga, which is like the most pathetic white lady thing that could ever happen to anyone, except for recently when my heels were too high and I edged off the sidewalk and went ASS OVER TEAKETTLE and splashed my face with my short double soy mocha, why no lid? PNW white lady environmentalism. Flying Spaghetti God smite me now. I went down like LiLo after you tell her you think you dropped some crack crumbs in your pubes.

Wow, where was I? After Christmas my shoulder was slowly improving week by week, but I was afraid I was broken. Numbness, pain at rest, trouble sleeping, limited range of motion in the arm, an inability to lift it from a laying position. I was literally moving my arm around at times with my right arm, which is not so great itself thanks to carpel tunnel (en Francais: tunnale with cheese). My co-dependent dog slept with Franny the other night and was FRANTIC about seeing me in the morning after an excruciating separation of 8 (unconscious) hours. I was turned away from him on my side and he was dancing and snuffling and whining to try to get me to turn over so he could lay on my (bad) arm. Horace is the king of spooning.

I lifted my arm slowly and carefully as I rolled over. When I got about halfway there, I heard this incredible CRACK in the joint–the loudest pop I have ever heard in a joint in my body. That knuckle cracky-endorphin feeling flooded through my entire body. I sat still for a moment, trying to figure out what happened. I moved my arm slowly and it moved, without help. I stood up and my range of motion was back. I was still kind of sore in the joint, but it felt like residual soreness and not like something that continued to be cranky. The next day was even better. I have discovered something, though, in walking around work yesterday. I’ve stopped swinging my arm when I walk. And I hold it differently when I stand and type. I’ve been swinging my arm around (gently) for no real reason. And you know what else? In about a week these five or so months will be forgotten because that is how I roll.

Confidential to someone who would probably be embarrassed if I called her out by name. *cough* Here is a boring set of charts about employment outcomes for people during this depression we’re in. I know a lot of people are underemployed, but some work is better than no work? I know, I know, who knows what things will be like in 4 years. College isn’t for everyone, nor is it needed by everyone. But hey, you are already there.

In summary:
1. What else could you be doing right now? If you answer “chick sexor” then can I job shadow you and you have my permission to drop out, but this is the only exception. Stay warm and dry while you’re sucking up some learnings and not just trapped behind a cash register with little hope of improvement.
2. College can make you interesting. Yeah, you can absorb up learnings on your own, but those survey classes you are suffering through now will get you into the pants of someone at a party later, or get you a job because you can talk about a breadth of subjects. It’s great for making connections. You will have depth of whatever your focus was to keep that job once you get it.
3. Seattle sucks in January. Everyone knows it. It can really fuck with your perspective and energy. Look at me. My Halloween post is still visible on my blog and that’s sad, but I am out of gas. I go to work, I come home, I try to let my friends know I am not dead and make sure they have not died under hoarder piles or something. I will come out of my crypt again in April.

Complain about it like we all do, drink juice, visit the Sun Shoppe, take your vitamin D and pray for Pineapple Express in February this year. Listen to your body–schedule more sleep when you need it, but try to exercise too. Things will start blooming very soon, which is so cool.

ALSO STAY OFF THE PCP. SANDY, BE A BUMMER. WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR FIRST MILLION, CUT ME A CHECK. BECAUSE I WILL BE LIVING ON CAT FOOD THEN.