24 November 2010

21 November 2010

Over there! Over there!

Kyran got a new url at Planting Dandelions. You should go read her there.

And my new url is, well, my name. Please bookmark accordingly.

Thank you.

15 November 2010

Some kind of depressing musings on life and burritos

I came home after the gym and Farmer's Market on Saturday and tossed all of my vegetables on the kitchen table and my wet gym bag on the floor.

They were all still there this morning. Monday morning. The vegetables were faded and limp and the swimsuit had that murky, not-so-fresh smell.

As soon as I had gotten home, I had thought "I'm so tired," and I laid down on the couch. Then I got up and went to bed. After about half an hour, I tried to convince myself to get up, but I couldn't move.

One of the great blessings of getting older is a certain amount of perspective. If I had been 20, I would have spent a great deal of time berating myself about what a lazy jerk I was, sleeping a beautiful Saturday - and it was a glorious, warm, sunny day - away.

But being Of A Certain Age, I realized "There must be something seriously wrong with me," and you know, Being of A Certain Age, I was right.

The fever and chills hit about 2 p.m. The cookie-tossing commenced shortly thereafter and lasted for the next 10 hours or so.

Thank God for twitter on my phone, because it was the only thing I could do to pass the long hours - I don't have a TV and reading a book made me even more nauseous. Sleeping led to weird hallucinatory dreams populated by the - I am not making this up - People of Wal-Mart. Standing up, other than to dash to the bathroom, was beyond my capabilities.

I usually love living alone. I don't get lonely. I seem perfectly suited to a solitary lifestyle, a room of my own, a house of my own, a life all my own.

I have to admit, though, as I lay there pinned down by the after-effects of an ill-conceived food stand burrito, that I questioned the wisdom of my decision. Being alone and healthy and happy isn't the same as being alone and sick and incapacitated, is it?

Flat on back, unable to move, helpless. Those were some long and lonely hours, despite my little glowing twitter connection. My tiny little house suddenly felt way too big for just one person.

But despite all of my fantasies of Brad Pitt carrying a cool cloth for my forehead, we never know what life may bring. We may get sick and get a Peter Mayhew, or we may have to be the hero when our loved one gets sick, the hero in ways that are tough and awful and scary.

Or, as happens all too frequently, we may walk out or get walked out upon in our hour of darkest need (no links here - I guess nobody ever blogs about that).

That's the crazy part about life. You just never know. But one thing is for certain: eating a bad burrito will give you a lot of time to think about it.

10 November 2010

A War Story (in honor of Veteran's Day)

My dad wanted to enlist in the Army during World War II. He was born in 1918, so he was a bit older than the average soldier when the war rolled around, but like every able-bodied man at the time, he wanted to go.

He signed up and kept reporting for duty, but was turned away several times because the Army had lost his paperwork.

In the meantime, he was working in Long Beach as a welder, building warships. Finally, he got tired of waiting.

He sold all of his possessions, including his car. He reported to the Army with the clothes on his back and $5 in his pocket.

"You have to take me now," he said. "I have nowhere else to go and no money to get there if I did."

They took him, and he served in the 3rd Army, 261st Field Artillery Battalion in Europe, including fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

Dad in Germany 1945
Dad in Germany, 1945 Click to see larger

Here is a poem my dad carried in his wallet along with pictures of the family. It obviously meant something special to him:
Soldiers
I was that which others did not want to be.
I went where others feared to go, and did what others failed to do.
I asked nothing of those who gave nothing,
and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness, should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror, felt the stinging cold of fear, and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment’s love.
I have cried, pained, and hoped…but most of all I have lived times that others would say were best forgotten.
At least some day I will be able to say that I was proud to be what I was…a soldier.

06 November 2010

You Give and You Get

Warning: BusyMom said this should have a tear-jerker warning. Consider yourself warned.

It's a long story, but Catherine of Her Bad Mother asked us to make tutus and run in Central Park at BlogHer 10 as a benefit for her nephew, Tanner.

I was taken with this idea, but I was a bit baffled about how to transport a whole tutu across the country without mangling it, so I came up with a brilliant plan.

I would buy yards of tulle, cut them into strips, and offer people at BlogHer the chance to assemble their own tutus before the benefit race.

I bought tulle. A LOT of it. It was pretty and cheap and I got a little over-enthusiastic, as I tend to do, and I bought about 110 yards:
The little princess in tulle
The tulle was Goldie-approved

I realized that cutting 110 yards of tulle in a hotel room in the compressed timeframe of BlogHer wasn't going to happen, so I had to cut it at home. 110 yards into 4-inch wide strips...It was a big deal.

I decided to cut tulle at my folks' house on the kitchen table, since my only table is too small. And because my parents are lovely, lovely people, they decided to help me.

You mom bloggers know how it is when your kids "help" you make cookies? It was kind of like that.

My mom has bad arthritis and couldn't work for very long, so my dad stepped in. My 90% blind, not terribly steady dad. But dang it, there was work to be done and he was going to do it. He and I fumbled and twisted tulle and cut at funny angles and made mistakes, and there were times I felt like either screaming or running away.

But I took deep breaths and took his help in the spirit it was offered. We got that damned tulle cut into strips and we looked good doing it.

By the time I got to Central Park, I had two sprained ankles and couldn't run. I did have a walk down 6th Ave. to the park in gorgeous, Lakers-colored tutu, and many others at BlogHer got tutus made by volunteers who did tutu construction at the People's Party.
Caffeinatrix and me, bright and early. Really early

IMG00141.jpg

Three weeks later my dad was dead.

Making those "Tutus for Tanner" was the last father-daughter project we ever worked on, and it turns out I'm thankful for those goofy, crazy hours of frustration and screwed-up teamwork.

That's life, isn't it? You just decide to do things and do your best under the circumstances, and sometimes you get a gift you don't expect, a gift that you wouldn't trade all the gold in Fort Knox for. And then you go on to write sentences that end in prepositions, and life goes on.

02 November 2010

Sometimes you get lucky

You know my sister's name was Laura.

At BlogHer 2007, I got a new friend, whose name is Laurie. Which is far enough from Laura to not squinch my heart up every time I say it, but close enough to make me think that sometimes families aren't necessarily made by genes.

It also makes me think that having someone you really love take your photograph somehow makes you prettier.

Photo by Laurie White. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

01 November 2010

Things I Can Say Because I Have PMS

Random Idjit: "The happiest people I know don't have blogs because they are too busy having real lives."
Suebob: "The reason people don't have blogs is because they don't have anything interesting to say."

Random Idjit: "You're exploiting your kids/your family/your friends/yourself to make money from your blog."
Suebob: "If you knew how to make money making anything more creative than Slurpees, maybe you wouldn't be so jealous."

Random Idjit: "I think people that need to put their lives on view all the time have something wrong with them."
Suebob: "Your pathological need to hide from the world is baffling to me."

Random Idjit: "What makes you think everyone wants to know your opinion all the time?"
Suebob: "The way they find out my opinion is by seeking it out. As far as I know, no one has ever been forced to come to my blog or twitterfeed at gunpoint."

Random Idjit: "I just don't understand what you're trying to accomplish."
Suebob: "YOU WOULDN'T."

30 October 2010

She was kind to dogs

One night at dinner, some friends and I stumbled onto the topic of Hitler. It was posited that Hitler had no redeeming qualities.

One person said "Well, he was kind to dogs."

That person became famous and derided as a Hitler apologist, all in jest of course. The capstone of the ridicule was when the exMrStapler created a birthday present - a book with a fake dustjacket that featured a large photo of the Fuhrer and the title "Hitler: Kind to Dogs."

Yesterday when I was working at home with the front door open, the neighbor's little dog Katie wandered in. This had happened once before. I have no idea how she gets through the fence, but she must get lonely, because she only comes in when her Mom is off at work.

The first time she came over, she immediately hid behind Goldie's bed and stayed there:
The neighbor's dog just wandered into my house and hid behind Goldie's bed.

This time, she felt a little more at home. She sniffed around a bit, walked into my bedroom, jumped up on the bed, got under the covers and fell asleep.

I left her there for a few hours before I had to leave, then carried her out and put her back under the fence.

It struck me that I must be some kinda sucka. Who lets a strange dog sleep under their covers?

Me. I do. Despite all my other flaws and shortcomings, at least I'm nice to animals.

Let it be known that I want my epitaph to read: She was kind to dogs.

29 October 2010

The poor student

Don't you just love it when you run into people who are absolutely unamused by you? People who you can tell are just really, really underimpressed by your whole existence?

Yeah. That's my physical therapist, Paul.

My last physical therapist, a few years ago, was a chatty, super-hyper Mormon guy who was great. He tortured me appropriately and fixed my shoulder, so it was all good.

Paul did my therapy with a kind of machine-like disaffection. It WAS after 5 on a Friday, so who can blame him? But it was still a bit unnerving to be such a disappointment.

My problem is with my ankles. I had a back injury that has impinged the nerves to my ankles, making them floppy as 3-day old fish. I sometimes fall off my feet just standing there. Honestly.

I sprained both ankles by falling off a curb.two days before BlogHer and I just have to say it is a good thing that being in NYC and at BlogHer don't involve any walking! Because that would be painful. Oh, wait, they DO. Totally do. Yeah. Every night at BlogHer I had cankles like a baby elephant.

Then three weeks ago I fell again going down the 2 stairs in front of my house and hurt my right ankle badly again. I didn't trip or anything - my ankle just refused to hold me up and I toppled over.

So Paul is to help me cure my fish ankles.

He made me do this thing where you lay on a slant board and balance one foot on this tippy thing and try to keep it steady while you use that leg to do a leg press. Not only could I not keep the tippy thing from tipping, I couldn't even feel that it was tipped.

I failed tippy board.

We moved on to something more remedial. Something suitable for even the terminally physically incapable, like me.

He laid these foam board shaped things on the floor, immediately giving me bad flashbacks to Junior High Gymnastics.

Yes, he was making me walk the balance beam. So guess how that went?

I failed balance beam.

He then gave up and put me on the stairmaster and went to chat up a cute athletic girl with a knee injury. And chat. And chat. Approximately 97 minutes later when he got done, he came to check on my progress.

Well, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that I don't have ankle problems anymore.

The bad news is that my legs fell off.

28 October 2010

Reunited and it feels so fine

Today was the semi-annual Sock Reconciliation Event at Casa de Suebob.

This is the joyous day when all the single socks floating around the place are lined up and carefully matched with their mates.

Results are thus: 16 pair of black socks were rejoined with their mates. One pair of blue socks and two pair of brown were also made whole.

Still unmatched are the not-quite brown rust colored sock that came from God-knows-where, the black sock with the subtle argyle-like pattern that I always think is solid black but only shows after I have put it on and gone to a meeting where I cross my legs, and a really good black spotted Smartwool sock that has remained unmatched for 2 years but is so great of a sock that I cannot betray its trust by tossing out.

Stand by for more exciting updates from Suebob's underwear drawer! Next up: will she ever get rid of those bras with the stretched-out elastic?

25 October 2010

Volunteer work should not cause post-traumatic stress

I have ideas, lots of them. That's one of the reasons my Rear-View Life List is so full of wonderful items. I get some nutty notion and then I feel compelled to do it.

It usually works out. Sometimes I convince people to go on a speed boat on Lake Michigan and I find myself flying across the water, laughing my ass off at a guy's ears flapping in the wind with Karen and the Queen of Spain's husband.
Kaiser and Karen on the lake

Other times, not so much. This weekend was SO not so much.

My work sends out a list of volunteer opportunities every so often. One of the opportunities was to go to this wildlife sanctuary and help them inventory fencing materials.

I asked the organizer if lifting would be required, because, after back surgery, I just don't lift.

"Oh, no," he said. "You can hold the measuring tape." (Spoiler alert: THIS WAS A LIE).

Okay then. CC, Ish and I headed out bright and early to a facility deep within the Angeles National Forest to help the animals.

We had been promised a tour of the place to go along with our labors. We were pointed toward our appointed task: hundreds of rolls of chain link fencing needed to be moved, unrolled, measured and re-rolled, then stacked in order of size.

There was another option: clean up the wood pile. We quickly volunteered for wood pile duty, correctly assuming that fencing duty would suck. About 15 of us took every piece of wood out of a disorganized pile, sorted it and re-organized while the other poor suckers dealt with the fencing.

Did I mention that rattlesnakes live in the woodpile? Oh, yes, they do. I looked down and one was about 6 inches from my foot. I managed not to freak the hell out and Volunteer Wrangler Bob soon moved the snake off into the bushes where he could live to menace volunteers on another day.

This place had the volunteer thing down, though. After about every 45 minutes of slave labor, they would bring a wild animal ambassador around to keep us interested - first a wild boar, then a coyote, then a grey wolf - just enough to give us a break and keep us working.

We finished the snake-infested woodpile and moved on to chain link fencing. After about 16 hours of work, more or less (ok, it was about 3 hours), they said "We just have one more hour, THEN LUNCH, then another hour of work, then the tour."

Lord help me. At that point, I was ready to quit, but CC insisted we stay for the tour. Dang her and her dedication and enthusiasm.

Lunchtime rolled around. We strolled up to get the proferred lunch...aaaaaand there WAS no lunch. Apparently we missed the memo that said we were supposed to bring lunch. We scavenged some stale granola bars from under the seats in the car and glumly chewed them at one of the rickety picnic tables.

Then it was back to work on the chain gang. All the measuring was done, so then it was just re-stacking chain link fence. The measuring-tape holding duty had been claimed by a young, fit guy named Wolf. Thanks for the gallantry, Wolf. You look good there holding that measuring tape while sweaty-faced office workers move heavy rolls of fencing.

I stood with the other girlie-girls and watched the men scratch themselves to hell on the fence wire and ruin their backs lifting rolls of fencing up onto these tall racks. Yay, men, and the three macho chicks. You go. I'll be over here, cheerleading.

After 6 more hours (more or less), tour time finally rolled around! Note: there will be no photos from the tour because the woman who owns the place doesn't allow photos. Whatevs. Here are some photos from their website.

We got bused down to the area where the big cats and predators are kept. We split into tour groups - for leaders, you either got Bob and Tony, the volunteer wranglers, or Heather, the crazy possum-lover. I tried to scooch CC and Ish over toward Bob and Tony, but they were clueless to my motionings. So Crazy Heather it was.

Heather had an officious proprietary crazy animal lady thing going on. I was all too familiar with the personality type from my time voluteering at the County Animal Shelter. For instance, she kept insisting we stay "THREE FEET AWAY" from all the cages, even the very secure cages where the animals rested calm, sleepy and bored.

I guess she had some kind of a point, though, because a lot of those animals were dangerous killing machines.

I don't know if I have ever been as chilled as when the grizzly bear - about 4 feet high at the shoulder, maybe more - regarded me with its piggy little eyes. It viewed me with the casual disregard with which one might inspect a Chick-Fil-A while one has a steaming pizza before them. You could just see it thinking "Not now. Maybe later."

It paced around, its 3-inch claws clicking on the pavement, staring us down, taking the measure of our mettle. I was glad for the extra large-gauge chain link right about then.

There were also cheetahs, tigers, ligers. Honest to Napoleon Dynamite, there were Ligers - which Heather told us were very sad animals "Because they don't know what they are, how they should behave." Right, Heather. Thank you for your keen insights on animal genetics and psychology.

There were also wolves and coyotes and Mountain Lions, who were elegant and fierce and, like the Grizzly, seemed to look at me more as food than anything else.

It was all heart-breaking and confusing. The place is trying to do good, rescuing animals who have worked in movies or who have been raised by Michael Jackson-style idiots who think that a tiger cub is so cute and who suddenly end up with a 600 pound cat with razor-sharp teeth and a $1000 a month food bill.

I was torn between being captivated by the beauty and power of the animals, feeling sad for them being in cages, and being terrified at being THREE FEET from killing machines.

The worst part was the chimps. They have about 30 chimps, mostly rescued from animal laboratories, and those dudes just aren't right in the head. We had to run the gauntlet between their cages, where they spit on the unfortunate tour members who happened to be at the back of the line.

They made this unearthly whooping/crying/moaning sound. It sounded like the voices of those descending to hell. And it was LOUD. I don't know when I have heard something more heartbreaking and more terrifying.

CC, Ish and I all agreed that we were disturbed to the bone. We left quiet, somber and more than a little angry. Why are people so stupid? Why do they think that chimps are babies and lions and tigers and mountain lions are kitties that they can just snuggle with and play with, when in reality they are wild beasts who would be better off wild?

None of us had been fans of zoos before, but we vowed to never visit one again. It is just too horrible. I know that place is the best hope for animals whose lives were ruined by the idiocy and cruelty of humans, but the sounds of those chimps keeps ringing through my head.

23 October 2010

The Raven Life List

My dear friend CC invented a new Life List today: Stuff I Have Done and Never Want to Do Again. Let's call it the Raven Life List ("Quoth the Raven: Nevermore"). Not quite as glamorous as some people's Life Lists, and certainly not sponsored by anyone, but worth considering nevertheless.

Get a haircut at Supercuts
Food poisoning from a suspect burrito
Be dumped for an ex-girlfriend
Have the ex-girlfriend come to a meeting I was leading - at my house
Dance with a guy who grabbed my boob
Break a high heel
Fart in a board meeting
Drop something valuable into a public toilet
Fly United Airlines
Have my car die on a freeway onramp
Pee my pants in public
Rent a room to a psycho
Be bullied in high school (hi, Jamie Lambert)
Fail a class
Be laid off
Deal with Charter Cable customer service
Eat leg of lamb
Lose my shoes in the mud
Have it rain for 28 days in a row
Live with an unmedicated person with bipolar disorder
Date someone who hated to brush their teeth
Have a landlord with boundary issues
Kill a rattlesnake
Be too cold to sleep
Go to a college on the quarter system
Lose an heirloom
Eat at Marie Callendars
Have the sewage back up in the yard
Go to small claims against idiots

Ok. Enough for now. You get the picture.

21 October 2010

More on the Rear-View Life List

I was talking to my brother-in-law about my blog post on the Rear-View Life List.

He said "You've done so much. When I look at my list, there isn't anything on it except 'Have dinner with Liberace.' That's it."

I said "Hey, wait a minute, you've done ALL KINDS of interesting things. You were a roadie for Bill Graham Productions, after all."

We talked for a bit and realized that his list includes:
- Holding Wolfman Jack's head while he puked
- Flying in a helicopter into a crowd of 500,000 people
- Getting a ride from Chuck Berry in Chuck's golf cart

That's what I love about this project. In two minutes, we had three amazing life stories that came flooding back.

And then, there's this:
Mikey Umping

17 October 2010

What's off my reverse life list

I found out that Dave had my reverse life list idea a long time ago. That does not make me feel stupid. Au contraire - it makes me feel great because it confirms that I am well-justified in having Dave as my not-so-secret blog crush.  (I plan on having my avatar marry his avatar and run away to Second Life, where they will live happily ever after, or as long as the Lindens last.) (Do people still do Second Life? It seems so 14 months ago).

ANYWAY...I am having a blast making my Reverse Life List. Every time I open my brain, something I did that was fun pops up. I recommend doing this - it's amazing what you remember, and how much cool stuff you have done without even realizing it.

So far I can cross off from my big Reverse Life List:

Fly in a hot air balloon
Ride a mule in Yosemite
Sue n ringo
Fly in a helicopter over Kauai
Walk a labyrinth
Take an award-winning photo

Build a Rose Parade Float
What building a float looks like
Pilot a helicopter (verrry briefly)
Pick macadamia nuts
Ride a recumbent tandem bike
See a horse being born
Drive a backhoe
Learn another language
Have the White House pastry chef make me dessert
Get a college degree
Volunteer on a presidential campaign
Make a good wine
Win a blue ribbon at the county fair
Drive halfway across the country
Be published on McSweeney's
Do the chicken dance
Drive sideways
Plant 20 kinds of sage in my yard
Climb a pyramid
Bigsteps
Buy a recumbent bike
Roast my own coffee
Go to Oaxaca
Drive a Caterpillar
See Buck Owens at the Crystal Palace
Snorkel with sea turtles
Get paid to write full-time
Make beer
Play roulette in Vegas
Adopt a shelter dog
Start a food blog
Eat shave ice in Hawaii
Design a book
Get a big grin from Buddy Guy
Heal a very old wound
Hug chef Michel Richard
Go body surfing
Visit Washington DC
Study A Course in Miracles
Sail in a catamaran in high seas
Have Barack Obama answer one of my questions
Save a lot of trees
Go to a pro soccer game
Interview Anthony Bourdain
Protest George W. Bush in his presence
Get stopped by Secret Service (see above)
Be the 9th caller
Paddle a canoe with my dad
Have a peak moment
Go to chef school
Start a life blog
Manage a crew of amazing people
Go to baseball Spring Training
Marvel at the redwoods
Hike in Zion National Park with my dad
Jump off the Pismo pier
Watch fireworks from a yacht
Meet cycling legend Davis Phinney
Visit San Miguel Island
Be in the middle of a huge electrical storm
Help get a prisoner of conscience out of jail
Go to the Rose Parade
See a live condor
Condor wings
Ring in the new millennium
Play in the snow
Buy $250,000 worth of paper
Celebrate the Harmonic Convergence
See "Starry Night"
Read at a poetry festival
Dance on the lawn to Los Lobos
Course Marshal a pro cycling race
Read at BlogHer Community Keynote
Live by myself
See a meteor shower
Dance like a maniac to Koko Taylor
Write front page, above-the-fold story
Hang out in a yurt
See Half Dome
Protest a war
Radicals
Interview a former first lady
Make mole negro
See a real autumn
Eat a grasshopper
Grasshoppers sauteed in oil with garlic
Dance to the Neville Brothers
Go to NYC
See the Grateful Dead
Ride in a speed boat
Go canyoning
Be a bleacher bum
Celebrate Samhain among 500 pagans
Take a yoga class from Judith Lasater
March for civil rights
Go to a nude beach
Attend Catholic mass
See a full eclipse of the sun

Take the Chicago architectural boat tour
Chicago River
Shop at LA's Grand Central Market
Help land a multi-million dollar account
Climb a mountain
Thank a great teacher from elementary school
See Bruce Springsteen
Learn street fighting
Experience an earthquake
Speak on a BlogHer panel
March in a Mardi Gras parade
Hear a symphony that makes me cry
Receive laying on of hands
See John Lee Hooker in a tiny venue
Do improv comedy
Make a bully back down
Hug George Foreman
Get hysterical
Receive an answer to a prayer
Give an award-winning speech
Hear Brian Wilson play "Smile"
Meet Rick Bayless and thank him
Fall in love with opera
Hike the Pinnacles
Eat bananas I grew myself
Learn to weld
Visit the Carizzo Plains
See Dave Chappelle
Participate in important scientific research
Swim with the US. Men's Olympic Waterpolo team
Raise a flower crop and sell it
See the day when the Berlin Wall falls

My Reverse Life List

Maggie Mason and her amazing hair have this thing about Life Lists.

(Well, maybe just Maggie does, and she might have just brought her hair along for the ride. I do not know for a fact that she consulted her hair.)

The idea is that you make a big list of things you want to do before you die, and then you do them. Simple.

The only problem is that I am too lazy and not at all goal-oriented, so even when I make those kind of lists, I lose the paper, or I forget about it even if it is right there on the fridge, or I change my mind, or I put stuff on the list that I think sounds cool at the time, but who do I think I'm fooling with the surfing lessons? I can't WALK without spraining both ankles.

So, I am doing a reverse life list. I am doing cool things first, and then crossing them off. This saves confusion and disappointment. Rather, it is entirely satisfying. Ah, one more item off my list! Why look, everything is off my list!

Hooray! Done! Until the next cool thing comes along that I can write down and then immediately cross off.  Instant gratification.

Reverse Life List:
1. Washing my hair in a waterfall.

16 October 2010

And get off my lawn!

I'm at the Creative Alliance 10 conference this weekend. I know it is kind of de rigeur to say, when attending a conference, especially a brand new conference, how amazing and wonderful and more special than any other conference it is and how you just can't imagine how you'd ever miss this because of the sisterhood and closeness and OK OK WILL YOU STOP BECAUSE WE WEREN'T THERE AND YOU'RE EITHER MAKING US JEALOUS OR IRRITATED AND WILL YOU PLEASE  NOW NOT GO INTO ALL THE SWAG YOU GOT BECAUSE THAT CRAP IS SERIOUSLY ANNOYING.

So I'm not going to do that. It is in a gorgeous posh home slash vacation rental slash retreat center, in the mountains above Ojai with a little creek and oak trees and white sage.

It is well-organized and there are great people there and there's a lot of talking and energy and sharing good information.

But I'm having a hard time and it's not them. It's me.

I'm off my game. I feel kind of unplugged and weird.

Part of it IS them. These are a bunch of amazing women who are smart and capable and who are making their blogs do tricks and jump around and make money, while my blog just sits here and looks at me.

So THAT's intimidating. I'm like "My blog? It has a URL and that's about it. BUT IT IS A GOOD BLOG AND TO ME IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BLOG IN THE WHOLE WIDE UNIVERSE SO THERE."

The other thing is that I don't get out much anymore. I've been working at home and not actually seeing many real live people, and I think I have fallen into some weird Pajama Zone where real life feels surreal and virtual life feels real.

So when I get out there in the real surreal world, my timing is off, the way I relate is just oddly filtered...It's like I have self-induced Asperger's or something (no insult to Aspie people or any wonderful Aspie children you may have. People with Asperger's are wonderful and unique and I love what they contribute to the world. Do not hurt me.)

And then I had to do the cranky old person thing. During introductions - which went on for approximately 16 hours yesterday, while we were sitting on the floor of a yurt (I am not making this up) (well not the yurt part anyway), I chided - chided!! - people for screwing around with their cell phones and laptops while other people talked.

I was just sick of ADD culture where it is ok to check your mail while someone is pouring out their deepest dreams to you. So I was the one to say it. "You damned kids and your technology! In my day, we had to PASS NOTES if we wanted to talk while someone was speaking."

Ok, I didn't say it that way. But still. I said it. In a group, everyone has to be something. The funny one, the organizer, the helpful one. I'm the cranky one. My name is Suebob. Glad to meet you.

10 October 2010

Animals Don't Have Feelings

I once volunteered at a county animal shelter that had a fabulously well-organized volunteer crew. It was in a wealthy area with lots of ladies who did not have day jobs, so they could spend hours a week at the shelter, looking after dogs and cats.

They did great work. In addition to the day-to-day dog walking, cage cleaning and customer helping, they would cough up thousands of dollars for crazy things, like hip replacements for young Golden Retrievers. Or for private vet care when the county vet was...oh, God knows what he was. He once cut open a male cat to spay him before he spotted the testicles. Enough said.

All of the ladies had also adopted multiple animals, many of them the hardest-luck cases. Cats with one eye and epilepsy. Dogs who needed shots 3x a day. Things like that.

So of course, because the volunteer crew was organized and functioning like an expensive Swiss watch, the county had to mess with us. They found one of the shelter directors who wanted to retire, but who wasn't quite of age, so instead they gave him a well-paid position as the "Volunteer Coordinator."

He decided to further organize us by having expensive volunteer binders printed and t-shirts (for which we had to pay) made. We all had to show up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday for our "training."

He then had to enlighten us with his theory of animal care.

"Remember, animals don't have feelings," he proclaimed. "It may seem like they do, but we are just projecting human emotions onto them."

All of the air left the room. Everyone glared at him. Every one of us was a stone-crazy animal lover.

Even if he had evidence to back up his proclamation, why would you say that to a room full of 40 women who chose to spend their spare hours covered in fur, dog spit and kitten vomit?

While we were on a break in the bathroom talking about the moron volunteer coordinator, someone stated the truth: "At least this will be the only time we ever see that jackass."

And they were right. Having done his training duty, Mr. Jackass slunk off to collect his county checks and wait for retirement. The volunteers went on running things just like always.

But I think of him often, especially when this happens: I put food in Goldie's bowl. She is hungry, but she does not like the food I have offered. So she walks into the kitchen, licks the edge of the bowl, and gazes at me mournfully.

The message is obvious. "I am hungry. However, I do not choose to eat this crap you have provided me. Please rectify this situation."

She not only HAS feelings. She tries to manipulate my feelings. Or maybe I'm just imagining this.
************
Note on the header: It is a photo of a day during my unemployment when I decided not to get out of bed. It was about 10 am and Goldie was seriously distressed at my horizontalness. In the photo, she is not resting comfortably. She is menacing me by thumping her head down on my side about every minute or so. Again, she has no feelings and no way to express them.

09 October 2010

Mom tells the squirrel story

We lived in that little house out on Santa Rosa Road. Dad and Bernie - Little Bernie [my cousin] somehow caught a squirrel. They brought it in the house and put it in the sink and were going to cut its throat.

– What?

Yes, they were going to kill it and I discovered them.

– For dinner?

Yes, or something. [She throws up her hands.]


But I really let them have it. I was pregnant and when you're pregnant things can really get to you in a different way. I really tore them up. I almost packed my bags. I wasn't meant for that kind of thing. I just knew that wasn't the life for me. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into.

My mom was a city girl and my dad was a country boy. Here's a photo of the men in my family on one of the happiest days in their lives:
Pheasant Hunting, San Joaquin valley
Click photo to embiggen.

06 October 2010

Sometimes I just write posts so you can feel better about yourself

I'm the first to admit that I'm not a great housekeeper any kind of housekeeper at all. Ok, let's face it, I'm terrible at housekeeping.

I once told Goon Squad Sarah "I realized that I'm just not interested in housework, so I'm not going to do very much of it."

This means that, when I tell you I'm doing housework? I'm probably reading blog posts. Full disclosure, people.

The thing I did - or didn't do really takes the cake. The lint-covered, fur-lined cake.

My vacuum had not been working well. It is a Sears canister vac and I mostly love it. It has a little powered hand tool that is great for upholstery.

I figured it needed a new belt and a new filter, because it was smelling kind of dusty and leaving little trails of dog fur on the floor. What with one thing an another, it took me a while to face going to the demonic Sears appliance department where Mitch is the only person who knows anything and Mitch isn't speaking to the other employees. When I finally got there, they didn't have any belts and yadayadayada a month (or three) passed.

I finally bought and installed the new belt and filter ALL BY MYSELF I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR AND USE A PHILLIPS-HEAD SCREWDRIVER.

The vacuum still sucked. Or didn't suck, to be more precise. I decided to further disassemble it and take a look.

Oh mah gah, my people. Are you sitting down?

I thought there was a little clog at the base of the tube that connects to the floor cleaner thingy. I took it out on the lawn to shake it out.

Eventually, a 4-foot dirt cylinder emerged like a germ-covered furry dust snake.

The tube that connects the floor cleaner thingy to the hose that leads to the canister had been PACKED FULL of dirt and dog hair and random filth and whatnot.

Sorry I have no photos to prove this. There are some things too horrifying for photos. There aren't many - but this was.

That dusty smell? Yeah, that was dirt flinging itself out of every little seam in my vacuum, trying to escape the fact that my vacuum tube had become a de facto bagless dirt catcher. Except the dirt, instead of being nicely contained, was just kind of hanging out.

I think you must agree that I win at sucking at housework. Just a warning so that you know. If you come over, a Tyvek suit and gloves are advised. Respirator is recommended but optional.

04 October 2010

My Ultimate Family Vacation

Sponsored By


Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine, Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.
*****************
Not having kids of my own, I don’t have a little family unit to define as mine. When I got assigned to write a post on my ultimate family vacation, it took me back a bit.

I feel lucky to have a family that is not so much defined by blood as by love. It doesn’t matter if someone was born into our family - if they hang around long enough, they get absorbed. Like Annie, the woman who has been vacuuming my folks’ house for the past 20 years. She started having a little sit-down before she got to cleaning. Then a longer sit-down. Then phone calls and visits and Facebook - and she’s one of us now and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Even the ultimate vacation idea is rough for me to narrow down, as I love to travel anywhere. I am happy whenever I wake up somewhere away from home, even if it is just 10 miles away. There’s always something cool to see. I always want to know everything about wherever I am and I'm happiest just wandering around with a camera, checking stuff out.

My travel wish list wraps around the world every which way. The only places I really don’t want to go are caves (ewwwwww) and ski resorts (because I am, as a bred in the bone Southern California girl who thinks snow is something Up With One Shall Not Put)…other than that, I’m packed and ready to go if you give me half an hour.

The idea for an Ultimate Family Vacation took some head scratching, but Dave from Blogography gave me inspiration with his most recent travel adventure.

The whole family. Me. Mom. My sisters and brother. Their spouses. As many of their 8 kids as I could round up. And might as well throw in their steps- and halfs, too. We love them all. And now the great-nieces and -nephews – I think we would be up to about 20-something little ones. And heck, let's grab Annie and her husband, too.

On a boat. A cruise ship, to be precise. If you’re going to have a large, unruly group, it is best to keep them somewhat contained so they can’t wander off, thus the cruise ship.

Watch out, world. The big extended Davis family is heading for the gangplank.

How awesome that would be. I have nieces and nephews who have never met each other. This would give them a chance to know their cousins. They could run around like little maniacs (what else is new?), play, swim and sun while the parents and grandparents got some relaxing in, too.

I think it would be so much fun that it wouldn’t much matter which itinerary we chose, but as long as I am having an impossible fantasy, the 11-night Mediterranean cruise that Dave did sounds awesome. Spain. Tunisia. I can almost feel the warm breezes and smell the spices. And maybe there’s an Armando or Felipe out there with an eye for a certain saucy older American woman…OlĂ©!
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Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

02 October 2010

The boundless and mysterious capacity for self-delusion

I smell a lie!
Bloodhound I met at a cafe




Do you listen to This American Life? You really should. It's the best thing on earth. No, I'm not exaggerating. Look how great technology is - you can listen to it right here. 



I was listening to this week's show, "Frenemies" and one of the stories, the one about the long-lost friend who had a problem with her daughter, triggered me to remember my days as a girl reporter.


I used to think that people knew what they were saying.

I used to believe them.

After being a reporter for a while, I knew why we catch politicians in stupid lies like when Hilary Clinton said "They were shooting at us when we landed in Sarajevo."

People don't even know when they are lying much of the time. This includes me.

Stories, bits of facts, embellishments, photos, other people's words - they all swirl around in our brains to make a fertile ground for new stories to sprout. Stories that SEEM to be absolutely real but may have little to no basis in fact.

And then there's the stuff we want to believe about ourselves. We want to think we are better people than we are, so we say we are better people than we are, never mind the truth. 

Let me give you two recent examples:

  • I met someone I know at the beach who was walking her off-leash dog. We started talking about dogs, as dog owners are wont to do, and I bemoaned the intractability and viciousness of the fleas this year. She said "Well, you know what I do? I keep my dog off the beach, which helps a lot!" Mind you, her dog was walking on the beach less than 20 feet from her.
  • I was having Italian dinner with a friend and he asked me about why I was a  vegetarian. We chatted for a while and then he said "Well, I really don't eat red meat at all anymore." While he was reaching for a slice of steaming pepperoni and sausage pizza. 

Sometimes I open my mouth and hear these sorts of things coming out. "Oh, I take vitamins every single day without fail." "I make all my dog's food." "I never talk on the phone when I'm driving anymore." 


The first one is patently untrue, though I think about taking vitamins all the time. The second is true when I have a lot of time on my hands. And the third is mostly true but there are exceptions. Still? None of them are really truly true like you might expect them to be, since you heard them come out of my mouth.

What about you? Do you have lies that you tell out of habit? Oh, do tell!
***********
Sorry about the way these past few posts have looked. I am fighting with the new Blogger post editor.



01 October 2010

Rise of the Poo-Flinging Monkeys

Internet trolls come in all shapes and sizes, but lately a super special kind of troll has popped up - the do-nothing troll.


This special member of internet society not only disapproves of what someone has done, but they disapprove that they have even done it.


My dear @grace134 on twitter got this comment the other day where the person told her she was "sad" for having to "exploit herself" on the internet.


Then Catherine of Her Bad Mother got one about her trip to Africa that is a real doozy:
Ack. Could any of this be a bigger cliche? Look, I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone’s personal experiences, I guess. I guess. But… come on. Every bit of this, and especially all the uber-cliched photos that come with it, I knew to recognize as one big cliche by the time I was four or five years old. No one is going to change the world or even their world with these kinds of stories. Just the opposite: the suffering-but-smiling black kids who smile in pictures with the “OMG-I’ll-never-be-the-same-again” white people who come visit them are a staple of our culture at this point. If they weren’t suffering-and-smiling like that, we wouldn’t get to take a nice vacation from our indulgent-but-frustrated lives once in a while to stand next to them and get to feel so simultaneously humbled and self-satisfied...


It goes on. And on.

I used to just shake my head and chuckle at these kinds of things, but now I'm mad. I'm really angry at the contention that it is better to do nothing than something. Or that if you try something, earnestly and with enthusiasm and love in your heart, it's ok for others to come spit on your parade just because they can.

It makes me want to go beat on these brats with a baseball bat.

The only reason I can see for these kind of comments - and I should know - is that these people have so little going on in their lives that all they are left with is their keyboards and a pile of steaming poo that they are too lazy to clean up, so they fling it at other people.

From now on, I refuse to call them "trolls" anymore. I'm calling them
"Poo-Flinging Monkeys."


I like the sound of that.


Photo by Ben and Laura Kreeger from Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

29 September 2010

Thank you

I finally went back to the post about my dad dying and read all your comments. Thank you, thank you. You are the best kind of people and the best readers anyone could hope for. Hugs.

And now some "Hallelujah"

25 September 2010

Becoming Creative

I'm taking a 12-week class on the book "The Artist's Way" at church. Everyone I tell says "Ooh, The Artist's Way is WONDERFUL."

I have had the book forever and have never gotten through it because that's the kind of person I am. The kind of person who buys self-help books and doesn't get through them.

The Artist's Way is designed to help you get rid of artistic blocks. If your mom was mean to you and told you that your fingerpaintings were awful, then this is the class you should take.

Or if, when you sang "Leaving on a Jet Plane" for the third year in a row at the school talent show and the emcee hit you in the face with a pie (this happened at my high school. Not to me. But I know the pie thrower. And I kind of love that he did it. I mean, THREE YEARS? Same song? Come ON. Bring on the whipped cream.) and you have never sung again, then this is the class for you.

It helps you look at what is keeping you from being more artistic and it challenges you to work through those blocks.

One of the tools the book suggests you use is "the artist date." Once a week, you are supposed to spend at least an hour by yourself doing something inspirational.

The other main tool is "the morning pages," three pages of stream-of-consciousness you write every morning when you first wake up. I find this loathesome. I would rather not do it. Bu tyet I do it. I am good with assignment on deadline. It's like a reflex I learned from newspapering. I think the morning pages may be doing me some good, but I can't pin an ROI on it just yet.

(That's a work joke. At work we are always looking for the ROI - return on investment. My boss said thoughtfully one day "You know, there's really no ROI on having kids").

We have class once a week in the fellowship hall at church, about 20 of us. We do a lot of guided meditations. I hate guided meditations. Always have. I figure that I wanted someone to tell me what to think, I would join the Nazi party.

Instead, I spend the meditation time making lists in my head. "Hmmm...laundry, bathe dog, clean the mold out of the shower, mail the cell phone bill, send a thank-you note to Liz..."

Meanwhile everyone else seems to be meditating intensely and following a sparkly unicorn down a path to CreativeLand or something. I don't know - I just know I can't do it. I belong to the rebel forces. The Mental Rebel forces.

The artist date is no joy for me, either. "Do something by yourself" is supposed to be all revolutionary and Room of Your Own-ish, but for me, it is just standard operating procedure. I do stuff by myself ALL the time.

You know what would be unique and inspirational? If I actually picked up the phone and organized something with a friend. Maybe that will be my Mental Rebel Forces (TOTALLY the name of my new band) way of handling this assignment.

Julia Cameron, the author of "The Artist's Way," seems to think that the reason most people aren't artistic is that they have been oppressed and put-upon by other people. Neither of those things is true for me.

I'm realizing that I may not have a mental block about creativity. No one was mean to me. No one discouraged me. No one cruelly crushed my hopes. Nobody is sucking the time I have to be creative.

So I'm coming to the realization that I may have paid $150 to figure out that I am lazy and undisciplined. Next time I want to pay $150 to be reminded, I will take CC and Ish to a nice dinner and ask them to tell me honestly. They will be able to help.

On my artist date this week, I went to the local museum. Where I spent my time taking pictures of these things to prevent skateboarding. I have a whole Flickr set in case you ever wanted to look at lots of ways to prevent skateboarding. What can I say? Weird brain.

22 September 2010

The best religions

Ranked in order from best to worst.
1. Buddhism
2. Neo-paganism
3. Judaism (reform)
4. Hinduism
5. Baha'i
6. Christianity (non-Catholic)
7. Islam
8. Confucianism
9. Animism
10. Catholic Christian

Is anyone NOT offended? I hope not.

Here's what puzzles me, and the point I'm clumsily trying to make - we get most angry and exercised about the BELIEFS we hold. Beliefs that cannot be proven by any empirical method. Does that strike anyone else as odd?

21 September 2010

Update

So the guy who sent the racist email resigned from the club we were in together.

I have seen him around town a few times.

When I was younger, I might have been tempted to make a friendly gesture, to be conciliatory.

Now that I am older and crankier, I don't feel the need to do that. He is out of my life and that is a good thing.

I'm thankful to be rid of someone who doesn't grasp basic concepts like prejudice and privilege, like not forwarding emails full of racially charged language.

I don't know why this incident reminds me of a woman my sister once encountered, who said:
"Money talks and bullshit walks. And I'm walking!"

Keep walking.

19 September 2010

Stretching that birthday thing out about as far as possible

I think my birthday is finally over. I used the LA Galaxy tickets last night that I bought with my birthday money from Mom. I know she was hoping I would get a nice twin set from Ann Taylor, but she may have to adopt someone to see that ever happen. So 2 1/2 months after my real birthday, I used my present.
I love this game!
A few notes on my first professional futbol match:
  • The stadium was so small and cozy. 28,000 seats, and the field is huge, so you are RIGHT there hearing the player's shoes slap against the ball.

  • Soccer fanatics - those real hardcore noisy fans - are fun. They sang and chanted the whole time. They even had a little brass band and a flag the size of a tennis court. At the end of the game, the Galaxy went to the end of the field and saluted the biggest group, who went bananas. It was all very interactive.

  • You give the foul ball BACK. So there is no need to dive for it and take out a stroller - thankfully unoccupied - the way that one guy did. I think that giving the foul ball back is very civilized.

  • When David Beckham came out during the second half, the roar of the crowd was loud enough to peel paint off the walls. People love them some Becks.

  • I kind of love me some Becks, too, even though he runs so painfully it looks like he might have been in trouble with the Mafia at one point..

  • Beckham entering the game was the third most exciting thing, right after Landon Donovan's two goals
    Here's Beckham now!
  • He has perhaps the finest little butt I have ever seen.

  • I don't think he wears undies.

  • I was NOT looking at Beckham's butt the whole time.

  • I was watching Landon Donovan score twice. Which is one more than the whole DC United team.

  • HA! Suck it, DC United.

  • I missed seeing DC United score because I was taking stupid pictures. Like this:

  • While taking this picture, DC United scored and we missed it.
  • I have bad timing. But I had a lot of fun.

I think my birthday is finally, finally over.

13 September 2010

Not necessarily reliable sources

Mom is flipping around the TV with the remote. She flips and cuts off a news promo for the latest "Crap to be Scared Of" story.

(You know the stories: your reusable grocery bags are trying to kill you. Don't touch that elevator button - it is covered in germs! Concrete-eating termites are invading Florida!)

"Oh, I already saw that one. The poisonous spiders one."

(I don't watch the news. I listen to NPR. NPR is big on the Greek Economic Crisis but not so much on Crap to be Scared Of.)

"Poison spiders, mom? Where? When? How?"

"Oh yeah. They're MORE poison than black widows. They are just everywhere."

"Everywhere WHERE?"

"Oh, I don't remember. Somewhere."

"What do they look like?"

"Spiders...I don't know. They just look like spiders. I wasn't paying attention."

"Ok, so you're telling me that there is an infestation of terribly deadly spiders, but you don't know where or what they look like?"

"Well, I can't remember EVERYTHING, can I?"

***********

Now go watch the brilliant Stephen Colbert/Stone Phillips gravitas-off.

12 September 2010

You're Ugly and other stories

You're ugly. There's something wrong with you. Perhaps your thighs, perhaps your nose. Maybe it is your crooked teeth or your bow legs.

Certainly you weigh too much. Maybe not a lot, but you could stand to lose at least 10 pounds.

You're not beautiful. No way. You would be crazy to think so. Look at that last photo someone took of you. It really shows every flaw you have. The other people in the photo look just like their regular selves, but you jump out as being a particularly messy specimen of humanity.

*********
Isn't that the way it goes in our heads? We absorb the messages, we repeat them and we believe them down to our bones. Not me. I can't be beautiful.

*********

Yesterday I saw something that put all that in perspective. My old church had a fundraising tea and lingerie show. The models were church members, including the pastor. Including my BFF, CC.

They were regular women, all over 30, and one almost 80. They were dressed in skimpy, lacy, fanciful underthings. Negligees and bras and corsets and panties.

And they all looked glorious. Not "okay for their body shape or size." Not "oh dear." Glorious. Shining. Beautiful.

I know they had all been super nervous before the show, but they had fun once they got out on stage. With an audience of about 100 cheering women, the models came out, strutted their stuff, shook their fannies, smiled, tossed their heads. Some had a hard time walking in thigh-high stockings and heels. Some had fat rolls, saggy bits, flawed skin. And no one cared.

We all appreciated their bravery and they fed on the appreciation. We were smiling, clapping, and laughing with love, not in a mocking way. The pastor dressed as an angel in white - including a halo AND fishnet stockings.

The 80-year-old tossed off her short satin robe and paraded in sky-blue panties and a bra, her wrinkles on show. And you know what? It was beautiful and sexy.

**********

I can't remember when I have seen anything more inspirational. Those women taught me something about showing off and owning what you have.

I'm so glad I have friends at a church that encourages its members and pastor to prance around in panties. I'm gonna go buy me some sexy undies.

10 September 2010

In memoriam: W. David Bauer

Once again, I am re-posting a tribute I wrote four years ago (and have edited as I found more information) as part of Project 2,996, a blogging effort to honor each of the people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

It is the least I can do. Each year, my stats show that, on this day, many people find this blog by searching for "W. David Bauer," so I know that they still remember and have him and his family in their thoughts every year on this day.

I collected this information from other articles and obituaries found online.

**********


The victims. We hear it over and over again about Sept. 11, 2001. The 2,996 victims.

The person that I am writing about, W. David Bauer, Jr., may have been a victim for one short moment of his life. But for the rest of his 45 years, he was clearly a winner. From what I have read about him, he was a player and a competitor, someone who took to the field of life with gusto and determination and who gave it all he had.

In the NY Times tribute article, it mentions that he competed in a triathlon on the weekend of Sept. 8-9, 2001 before coming home to watch his sons play football and then to grill steaks and to drink good red wine with his family and friends.

He also played football in college at Villanova and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. One of his friends from college said "His nickname was "Superman" because he could catch the bullet passes of our starting quarterback, Brian Sikorski, with one hand, either hand!"

He also had a lifelong love of basketball and volleyball. His teammate Tom Dooley said "I knew David as a competitor on the basketball court when we were both well past our prime playing days...[He] was a gentleman of the highest caliber on and off the court."

Mr. Bauer played professional football as a linebacker for the New York Giants and another team before being sidelined by an injury.

In business he competed and thrived. He climbed up through the ranks at Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse First Boston before becoming head of global sales for eSpeed, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald located on the 105th floor of the North Tower. He was one of 658 Cantor employees who died in the World Trade Center.

He also contributed to his community. He was a past President and Founding member of the Villanova Financial Club. He served on the Board of Family & Children's Services and he and his wife were honored with the Helen Hoffman Award for Community Service. He was a member of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Rumson, N.J., where he lived.

Mr. Bauer, who was 45 years old at the time of his death, was married to his wife Virginia "Ginny" and had three children, David, Steven and Jackie, who were 16, 14, and 12 when he died. He and Ginny had met in third grade.

So this is a man who lived, who really lived. He was someone who made good things happen for himself, his family and his friends. The type of hard-working, hard-playing family guy who is the backbone of our country and whom you would probably love as a neighbor.

Since Mr. Bauer's death, his wife has become a leading advocate for the families of victims of 9/11. His children followed in their father's footsteps, becoming championship athletes in their own right.

My very best wishes to the Bauer family. I am sorry for your loss and I hope this tribute did Mr. Bauer justice.

Here is a link to the 2,996 project.

09 September 2010

Some of us can move on

First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you. Your words of encouragement make it all worthwhile. Everything. All of it.

I am as good as one can be. I give thanks for the past five years of seeing my Dad twice daily. Not many people get that gift. I did, and even if it meant hearing the German submarine story for the 54th time, it was worth every minute (remind me to tell you how Dad saved 5200 soldiers from being sunk by the German submarine sometime. It is a great story.)

It helps that he passed away in such a relatively trauma-free manner. He was slipping further and further into dementia, and he knew it. So better to go than to stay.

I'm ok. Mom is ok. But someone is not ok.

Goldie is not ok.

My dad drank precisely 3 beers a day. So what if the first one was at 9:30 a.m.? He had been up for 4.5 hours by then, so in his mind it was practically lunchtime.

When I say 9:30, I mean 9:30. Not 9:15 or 9:45. What kind of Army do you think we are running here, soldier? Nope, it had to be on the dot.

The other day at about 9:33, Goldie bolted awake from a deep sleep. She ran to the back door and stood there, looking. Waiting for Dad to come in from the garage, where he kept the beer. The beer he went out to get at 9:30.
Goldie needed a pillow for her head...used my jacket

04 September 2010

I want to write this. I don't want to write this.

Sensitivity warning: My family may not want to read this.

I hadn't much thought about how my family views the fact that I live my life in the open, online. During this past week, when everyone was here, it became clear how at least one family member is troubled by my need to take my virtual underpants off in public all the time.

It sucked to learn that, but I suppose it is every writer's dilemma. Hide the truth and be a boring-ass writer, or let the demons out and watch friends and family recoil.

So I started thinking about writing about Dad's death and how it was for me and whether I should expose that nerve or not. If writing a blog has taught me anything, it is that the posts I can barely bring myself to write are exactly the ones that need to be written.

I may have to do this in several parts. I don't know if I have it in me to do it all at once.

So.

Mom called as I was getting out of the shower Wednesday morning and said Dad had had a stroke and that she had called the ambulance. Then she said, in her characteristically mom way "Don't hurry."

I know what she meant. I know she wanted to say "Don't panic and run your stupid head into a tree on the way like people always do," but it still made me shake my head and laugh. Dad is having a stroke, but don't hurry.

When I got to the emergency room, Dad was in distress, eyes open, chest heaving, trying to breathe, moaning "Harrrrrrr ahhhhhh" though his oxygen mask. His eyes were unseeing, though, and the first doc that talked to me let me know, subtly, that there wasn't much hope, something I could also see in the eyes of the nurses as they gazed at me.

The doctor, Dr. Kooros Samadzadeh, started talking to me about options for either "comfort care" or medical care. Meaning was it ok to let dad die, or should we make a foolish attempt to save his life.

Except he didn't put it that way. He had a long, long explanation full of long, long examples about different kinds of patients and their different kinds of needs based on all the variables in their lives. The examples he used were all 40-year-old men, which looked to be about his age.

I finally snapped. "Can you," I said, moving my hands from far apart to close together "Cut to the chase?"

"No, no," he said. "I want to be sure you fully understand what I am talking about. I couldn't sleep at night if I felt I didn't explain this to you." And he launched back in.

After about 3 more minutes, I said "EDIT."

But he refused. He kept talking on and on until plants grew up around my feet and the sun set and the birds took to roost. Ok, not that long, but almost.

I started hyperventilating and tears began squirting from my eyes as they do only when I am really, really angry and frustrated. When I am hurt, I bawl like a baby, but when I am mad, my eyes are wide open, fists clenched, and the tears just fly out of my eyes.

"I don't mean to distress you," he said. "We don't have to have this conversation."

So he was giving me two choices. Either listen to his long-winded doctor-blather or not make decisions about my dad's care.

"No," said. "I know what my dad wanted and what my mom wants. No extraordinary measures. Do not resuscitate. No intubation. Comfort care only."

I felt like a giant marble statue towering over a field of broken glass. I have never felt so alone, or so grown up. I was doing a terrible, adult thing but I knew exactly what it had to be. It was nothing about me. It was about my dad, who could not speak for himself, and for whom I had to make the right choice.

I had to be made of marble. I had to let my heart shatter inside my chest while the outside of me stood strong and the world fell away around me.

Thankfully and right on time, my cousin showed up and hugged me and held my hands, prayed and hung out with me. We got Dad moved up to a room and then the whole family showed up and then it was just waiting and breathing, forgetting to eat, drinking hospital coffee.

At about 10 pm everyone went home to sleep. I was going to stay for a while and then go home and then I knew I couldn't leave my dad alone. In case he died. The thought of him fading away into death alone was terrible to me, unthinkable, and I could not take that chance.

So I sat for that long night and talked to him and sang to him. I sang "Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this Place" and "El Rey," because the lyrics talk about how sad everyone will be when the guy dies, but also they say something that would make him laugh:
"With money and without money.
I always do what I want.
And my word is law.
I have no throne or queen.
Or anyone who understands me.
But I'm still the king."

If he could hear me, I apologize for my singing.

I also prayed, though Dad isn't much of a pray-er.
I had my 27-bead prayer mala, so I did the Prayer for Protection 108 times. 108 is a magic prayer number, or so they say.
"The light of God surrounds us.
The love of God enfolds us.
The power of God protects us.
Wherever we are, God is,
and all is well."

I'm afraid he may be mad at me about that one.

Then I looked up "The Walrus and the Carpenter," on my phone and read it all the way through, because Dad loved to quote from that poem:
"The time has come, the walrus said,
To talk of many things.
Of shoes, of ships, of sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings."

It was a long long long long night. The mist poured down over the hills and crept about the town. We were on the sixth floor. The hospital was quiet and the half-hours crept by like days. I tried to doze in the uncomfortable chairs and woke up every few minutes.

The worst part, other than the fact that my dad was dying, which was pretty bad indeed, was the fact that I had that stupid Kesha song stuck in my head:
"Before I leave, I brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back"

I guess it was the part about leaving and not coming back that made it relevant, but I was so mad that it kept playing on a loop in my head and I couldn't stop it and I couldn't tell anyone because it seemed awful and sacrilegious for one, and for another none of my family would know what I was talking about because they hate music like that and so do I, but they play it at the gym, so it is embedded in my brain like an evil unstoppable parasite.

At 5:30 a.m., my brother came in to find me nodding off. He jumped visibly at the site of me still sitting there and gave me a hard time about why I didn't tell him I was going to stay all night. I didn't know I was. It just happened, and I'm really glad it did because I'll always have those hours of just me and dad and the night.

Ok. I'm cooked from writing that. Maybe I will write the rest. Maybe I won't. You already know the end.

02 September 2010

My Parents Were Awesome - equal time for Mom

Since Dad got featured yesterday, I thought I would give Mom her time today. Dad had a picture similar to this in his wallet, 65 years after it was taken and 64 1/2 years after they were married.

Mom looking hot!

Inspired by the site My Parents Were Awesome.

01 September 2010

My Parents Were Awesome, Suebob edition

I love the blog My Parents Were Awesome.

In that vein, I present Bernie (my dad) 1975. I think he could have gotten a gig on Mad Men.

He was 57 at the time this was taken. Amazing.

26 August 2010

It will come to this for all of us

Just a short post. Dad had a big stroke and is slowly fading away.

The whole family is here and are being supportive, nurturing, polite and hilarious as only they can be.

I sat awake all night last night watching Dad breathe. It was strange and good and awful and dear. Some day I will try to capture it in words.

Update: He passed peacefully yesterday about 3 pm. We were all there. Rest in peace, dad, and have fun with Laura.

22 August 2010

Thanks to Facebook, I look like an idiot

Not that I need help looking like an idiot. But Facebook has given me a new way to be awkward.

Aside - do you know the Awkward Turtle sign?



Ok, enough digression.

I went on The Facebook and found, in my friend requests, a person from my childhood. He was a neighbor kid but his sister was my age and his older sister dated my brother for a while.

I thought "That's weird," but what the heck. I mean, he's from the old neighborhood, so I clicked "Confirm."

And then Facebook said "Friend Request Sent."

WHAT??

I did not want this guy as my friend. I have barely thought of him in 35 years, but I assumed he was keeping in touch with my old circle of neighbor people and he wanted me to be included too. Apparently not. Apparently FACEBOOK decided randomly to stick him in my friend request list so I could embarrass the hell out of myself.

The guy is going to think I am insane or trying to build a massive friend list...And there's no way to take it back.

Is this a feature?That someone thinks I need?

I'm making the awkward turtle right now.

21 August 2010

Post Racial


It's been a strange week, hasn't it? Dr. Laura claimed that her "First Amendment" rights were somehow violated by her quitting her own radio show after she made blatantly racist comments on the air.

She should look into that free speech First Amendment thing, but I'll break it down for her as I understand it in my simple-minded way: if you say something stupid and someone tells you to shut up, that's not a violation of your first amendment rights. If you say something (that doesn't provoke real danger) and the government tells you to shut up, that IS a violation of your first amendment rights. Done.

There is also is the whole "Mosque at Ground Zero" (not a mosque, not at Ground Zero) trumped-up controversy to keep us from thinking about things like how the economy is el Fuquito and the environment isn't much better.

In the midst of all this brouhaha, I got THIS from someone who is in a club with me. They sent it to the whole club email list and they are defending their "right" to do so. I have not corrected the punctuation or grammar, but I did, to spare you, dear readers, reduce it from the 72 point bright blue type in the email. My comments are [in red].
Proud to be White

Michael Richards makes his point...............

Michael Richards better known as Kramer from TVs Seinfeld does make a good point. [Ok, you have already repeated yourself. AND left out some commas. Way to start, genius].

This was his defense speech in court after making racial comments in his comedy act. He makes some very interesting points...[Didn't you just say that? Or are you not even paying attention to your own stupid email?]

Someone finally said it. How many are actually paying attention to this? There are African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, etc.

And then there are just Americans. [I guess you have never heard of Irish Americans. Or Italian Americans. Or Polish Americans. Do I need to continue?] You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction. You call me 'White boy,' 'Cracker,' 'Honkey,' 'Whitey,' 'Caveman'... and that's OK..[To whom is that ok? Have you asked everyone?]

But when I call you, Nigger, Kike, Towel head, Sand-nigger, Camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink .. You call me a racist. [And, one might think, beat your ass. Also, nice use, of misplaced, comma.]

You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you... so why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live? [Places with POOR people tend to be more dangerous, no matter who the residents are. This isn't a racial thing. This is an economic kind of thing.]

You have the United Negro College Fund. You have Martin Luther King Day.

You have Black History Month. You have Cesar Chavez Day.

You have Yom Hashoah. You have Ma'uled Al-Nabi. [I think someone with actual google skillz may have intervened here.]

You have the NAACP. You have BET.... If we had WET (White Entertainment Television), we'd be racists. If we had a White Pride Day, you would call us racists. [White people CREATED the racist structures that made special days, channels etc necessary. But forget all that.]

If we had White History Month, we'd be racists. [White history month is every month. I went through all of fourth grade learning about the California missions and I can't remember anyone ever mentioning the native people who built them.]

If we had any organization for only whites to 'advance' OUR lives, we'd be racists. [I'm old enough to remember organizations like Rotary, the Democratic National Convention and the Mormon church arguing over whether to admit Black people. But that was a long, long time ago. Like, whole decades.]

We have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Black Chamber of Commerce, and then we just have the plain Chamber of Commerce. Wonder who pays for that?? [Um, the members?]

A white woman could not be in the Miss Black American pageant, but any color can be in the Miss America pageant. [Miss Black America (not "American") was developed because black women could not be in the Miss America pageant in 1967. The contest rules of Miss Black America say nothing about race.]

If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships... You know we'd be racists. [Like when we barred people of color and Jews from many US universities all those years].

There are over 60 openly proclaimed Black Colleges in the US ..... Yet if there were 'White colleges', that would be a racist college. [The black colleges are now known as "historically black." This is because, while they admit students of all races, they were developed to give bright young African Americans a place to go to college - since there were few other opportunities for advanced education for them. So they develop these institutions to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and you want to put them down for that. Nice.]

In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists. [The Million Man March was about making people more politically aware and active. Is there a problem with that? And what rights, exactly, do you not have as white people? Just wondering.]

You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you're not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists. [Good call on the orange, but you forgot purple and green. Racists usually throw in purple and green.]

You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society, you call him a racist. [Not clear on the logic here. There is only minority-on-white crime? And that makes it ok for police to shoot gang members and beat up suspects? Um...you're going to have to clarify because I'm not following].

I am proud... But you call me a racist. [Maybe because you say racist stuff like the n word and towel-head??]

Why is it that only whites can be racists?? [Who is saying only white people can be racists?]

There is nothing improper about this e-mail.. [Except the logic, the fallacies, the generalizations and the racist language. That's all]. Let's see which of you are proud enough to send it on. [I only wish it were on paper so I could throw it in the fireplace]. I sadly don't think many will. [It's sad that you are an idiot]. That's why we have LOST most of OUR RIGHTS in this country. [Name two. Ok, just one. I'm waiting. ] We won't stand up for ourselves! [You're going to fight for the right to...do what? Party?]

BE PROUD TO BE WHITE! [I'm proud when I succeed at being decent and kind. My skin color is not that fabulous to me, and in any case, was an accident of birth. I would actually prefer something a little more Salma Hayek colored, but that's just because I would rather tan than burn.]
It's not a crime YET.... but getting very close! [How is it close? Tell me. Please, I'm all ears.]

It is estimated that ONLY 5% of those reaching this point in this e-mail will pass it on. [I'm kind of amazed I reached this point, since you don't have one. If I passed it on, I would expect to be scorned, laughed at and perhaps spat upon. So I will just make fun of it on my blog, instead.]

BTW, Michael Richards never said that. It is from an email that has been floating around forever, according to Snopes.com.

I guess it was good that I received the email, because it reminded me of how much work there is to be done. Sigh.

But if you have any energy for dealing with this, please comment and I will print the comments to give to the *PERSON* who sent me the email. We are due to hash it out in our club meeting since he feels his emailing rights have been violated because I asked him to never email me again unless it was official club business. Thanks.

Image is some poor kid from google.


*edited to add: I originally called the person who sent this a rude name, but I changed it to say *PERSON* because they protested. You see, it is ok for them to say the N-word and other racial epithets repeatedly, but it isn't ok for me to do any "name calling. " That makes about as much sense as everything else they said.
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