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Whee! All The Way Home

Updated: 2018-02-07T14:44:50.758-08:00


Rides to Heaven on a Gyroscope


A couple of months ago, I saw a client I hadn't seen for a number of months. Like more than a dozen people have in the recent past, she commented on how thin I was. We chit-chatted, outside my office building, about stress and aging and health and weight. We talked of the many elderly women I'd encountered in Florida, visiting my spry 81-year-old mother, and she asked if I'd ever noticed how some women, when they get old, get skinny and stay skinny. I didn't really take offense at it, overall, but it definitely stuck with me, her comments, and I've shared them with other people.Yes, I have lost a lot of weight. Yes, some of it was intentional. Give up drinking, and you'll easily drop some. Set your steps goal to at least 14,000 steps per day, and, yeah, you'll drop some more. Try to eat slightly more healthy, and, yup, there goes another pound or two.And that's what it was like for me, until about February, when I got really sick with back-to-back viral infections, and then ended up with a raging ear infection, which caused me to go on a regimen of antibiotics, and all that time, the weight kept dropping. I started to eat high calorie foods with utter abandon, only my appetite was lackluster at best and the weight kept dropping.When I could start wearing my sister's size 2 shorts, I knew something was wrong. (Besides the fact that, clearly, clothes manufacturers have, over the year, tried to make us all feel good by calling a 1970's size 10 a 2017 size 8 (or 6).) So I reached out to my doctor, mentioning the weight loss (which was clearly detailed in my damn charts over the years), and asking for a test to see if my hyperthyroidism had kicked in as it had a number of years ago. When the doctor told me the test was normal, I messaged back, "I guess I'll just have to be happy I'm skinny."Only I wasn't. Happy, that is, to be skinny. I didn't even need my good Dr. Google to tell me that unintentional weight loss is a thing. So when there was another not-good sign, I turned to my ab-fab OB-GYN, and she took up my cause. And, thankfully, she took it up with a vengeance. Detailed blood tests, ultrasound, biopsy, CT scan and, come Monday, colonoscopy and upper (and maybe lower) endoscopy.For the record, nothing definitive yet, and the scariest (I think) things it could be have essentially been ruled out. In the end, perhaps my client is correct and this old lady has just reached her old-age weight. I will strive to continue to expect that to be the case, even as I chug through a gallon of some vile medication in advance of Monday's procedures, waking up at 3:30 a.m. to finish it as required.Exactly 30 years ago, as my dad fought a 3-month battle against a clearly winning brain tumor, I started getting massive headaches and had to see a doctor. We laughed -- really -- at the highly improbable likelihood that I, too, had a brain tumor. I didn't. It was TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome).While the doctor and I didn't laugh this time, there's nothing that says we won't be laughing later this week. I'm counting on it. *Guess where the title comes from? Yeah, Springsteen's "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street." [...]

The Old Angry White Woman


I am just an old white woman tired of bullies. And I am legion.

That's what I'm feeling right now. Maybe it was schlepping to the #MarchForTruth in San Jose yesterday, early so I could help with the set up. Maybe it was standing with hundreds of other people, listening to Americans from all backgrounds, talk about, really, saving the world. [Yeah, I really believe that. That's our purpose now.] Maybe it was the postcard I sent VOTUS the other day, asking him to "Fuck off."

But what pushed me over was something I saw in a closed group I'm part of. It referred to some antics on another closed (but less secret and discriminating) group that I also happen to be a member of. One of the women in the all-women's super secret group -- yes, anti-female-only screenings of a fucking movie, an ALL-WOMEN'S group --was being sniped at by some run-of-the-mill local crazies on that other group.

So, yeah, off I went to that group. And one of the biggest asshats in town, after my friend commented, went on to post information identifying her as a county employee working for the Board of Supervisors. Mind you, the issue at hand was not county-related. No, it was city-related. As in, the city we all happen to dwell in. And it's called "City in the Know," and people post items which are generally non-controversial. When the more controversial items start up, it mostly stays civil. But every so often, it's not so civil.

Like on that thread where the asshat posted my friend's career information. I wouldn't have necessarily seen the post at all, had I not been referred to it. I must admit my life has been consumed by larger battles of late, so I don't pay as much attention. But then I realize it's precisely because I haven't been paying that much attention locally that we're in the mess we're all in. Not just me, of course, but all of us, complacent in our bubble of contentment and kumbaya, as the crazies took over, by sanitation district by school board by planning commission, and we let them.

No more. So you want to know what I posted as a reply to that asshat? This:

"Where I live on the Internet, we call what you did 'doxxing,' ASSHAT'S NAME. 'Searching for and publishing private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.' It's an evil stunt. And you just did it with such ease. I'm impressed."

I am just an old white woman tired of bullies. And I am legion.

My Homegrown Punk


Newly 15-year-old Youngest was invited to go to an amusement park on the "teacher work day" that always seems to ring in an established three-day weekend, turning it into a four-day mini-vacation. Confirming the invite, the lad's mom, a friend of mine, texted this:

"The boys were messing with me today, saying Youngest was going to wear his VOTUS hat to Six Flags. I said, no, free speech is great, but not in my car."

I shared with him what she had said, and the two of us confirmed that it was just a joke and, no, he wasn't wearing that hat to the park.

But then the motherfucker did.

I only discovered that upon his return that evening. I have to give props to my friend, because, had I been her, at the first sight of that hat, I'd have been calling her and telling her to come fetch her son. And I would have fully expected her to read him the riot act, once she had come all the way to the park to retrieve his sorry ass.

It wasn't her son, though. It was demon spawn himself. At 15, you don't listen to what reasonable voices (or even your unreasonable mother's voice) tell you. At 15, you want to just have a good time and show off to the world how cool you are. At 15, your perception of what is cool is completely and utterly fucked up, which any of us who has ever survived her 15th year could confirm.

His defiant act of going against what I said obviously didn't sit well with me. You could say that my actions in response to the defiance aren't sitting nicely with him either. Good.

What the little fucker doesn't know is that it isn't a question of free speech. Not when you're 15 and a Trump-hat-wearing twat could be as easily knifed to death as the two defenders of hijab-wearing women facing off against an American terrorist were. In an instant, someone with a beef against Trump could spot you wearing that hat and... And we all wring our hands at the funeral of my son while we bemoan what this country has come to.

You know what this country is coming to? A remarkably uncivil war fought in the streets by completely unhinged masked lunatics on both sides. When I was his age, the Vietnam War had just ended and the only fighting going on around me was that of my parents amidst the (long-already crumbled) family at their feet. It was Northern Virginia, so we had more than our fair share of the country's fringes around us. But even wearing a Nixon hat or being in full-blown Commie Viet Cong gear would garner nothing more than stares. (Granted, as long as you were White.)

Those bucolic times -- and, yeah, they were bucolic in comparison today -- are long gone. Sadly, from my perspective, Youngest's absolutely horrible first years are looking pretty bucolic to me today. I guess if I go all weak with desire when I see photos of George W. nowadays, I'll have to accept the same when I think about that son of mine downstairs.

From Small Things, Mama!


It's no secret that I no longer listen to any radio whilst driving. With my good-friend, Google, I don't even need to check for traffic problems. It's just all Bruce, all the time. Thankfully, I've got that 10-CD changer in the back of my Jeep, so no distracted driving on my watch. Well, unless you consider dancing in the car and singing at the top of your lungs to be distracting. To other drivers, perhaps, but not to me.

I've rediscovered gems, and I've given another listening to a bunch of songs that never became hits. Oh, and the live stuff. Shit, Richie! Talk about pulling me back to past outings, each and every one of them the top events of my life. [Don't pity me, man, I am who I am because of him.]

Two of my three kids are away at college. One will be home for summer. The other is moving into an apartment near campus, and she'll be working at the Happiest Place on Earth. I am jealous, even more so as her roommate's parents and I discuss matching beds, dressers and night stands. And sad, of course, because when I dropped her off in August, I really didn't think she'd never come home to live again.

I made it home after my freshman year of college. I never lived at home again. In fairly rapid succession, I graduated and moved out to California, visiting my parents in places that were never my home. My mom stressed about my failing to stay in one place long: San Diego, Cambridge, Escondido, Berkeley, all racked up over the course of two years.

I've been stressing about my kids leaving me since Eldest's senior year of high school. (Okay, maybe since he was born. Bugger off.)  I had the most knock-down, dragged-out pity party going for quite awhile. I started off 2017 promising myself I'd do what Eldest had asked me to do a year prior. I made a few resolutions, but everything I set out to do came down to one thing: enjoy my life.

It's a damn fucking good thing I made that promise, because this year has held the worst for me that I ever anticipated. Just start with Voldemort Of The United States. Fuck! I #resist until my hands cramp from sending postcards, and creating databases, and emailing legislators, and rallying people, and making name tags for Swing Left, and attending rallies, and attending town halls, and on and on and on.

And, then, of course, my Mom.

As I replay "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)," as the days pass and turn into weeks, the song's meaning changes for me, too. I became jubilant, this morning, as I recognized that, yeah, we grow up, we leave, and our moms fret, but we go out, and we live glorious lives, and maybe someday, we will have kids of our own, and we will see that, yeah, from small things, mama, big things one day come.

I Could Use Less Excitement, Too


"So glad you were all able to be here. A little less excitement next time. Love all of you."

I received that text from my Mom as I sat in an airport Monday, making a long trek back to California after a whirlwind few days visiting her in Florida with husband and Youngest. During the course of four whole days with her, our motley crew managed to:

1. Knock over a glass of water at a restaurant with the ultimate result of our waiter rounding a corner and taking a dive, wrecking his knee in the process.

2. Make a conscious decision to not leave a bag in the car because it had chocolate in it and then take a stupid path of putting said bag on floor. Gorgeous hound dog nosed open the drawstring closure and proceeded to eat said item. Chocolate. Brownie. With cannabis.

3. Heading home from the dog-poisoning gathering the next day, shred a tire and have to change it on the red clay sand on the partial shoulder of a busy Florida highway.

Let's just argue that it was a good thing #3 happened when we were with Mom as two of her tires were ready to blow so at least it didn't happen when she was on her own.

And let's argue that you can't really blame #1 on me as I was the mere recipient of the water spilled by my sister. I was not even present for the great disaster befalling our poor waiter.

#2? No one to blame but myself. And while I do believe the possession of said cannabis can be explained to the degree that you, dear reader, would find it reasonable, I'll just let you think what you will. And acknowledge that, yes, I did poison a dog. With chocolate. And cannabis. Overall, I think she enjoyed the high.

Monolingual Soccer Players Have it Tough


Yes, Youngest is still all about the football. And, yes, I'm talking about real football, not the American battering sport of 300-pound men sucking oxygen after running 10 yards.I could probably search through the archives of this ancient blog and find many references to the battles he has fought on the field and the battles we have all fought off the field. The world of youth sports is exactly like the real world: fucked up by idiots.Our latest saga involves a competitive club he's been playing with for two years. The first year was mostly fantastic. The second year left a lot to be desired, but I understand that was the case for many youth soccer players as the national organization changed the age groupings, throwing all teams into chaos. So, last year was good only for getting the three 1.5-hour practices in each week. At least he didn't go backwards in skill.But if you're 14 and you have a goal of playing soccer for the rest of your life, you need to find a coach who is going to up your game, improve your strategic thinking about the game, and, damn it, get you to have at least some fun in the process. The third year with this club is now underway, and he's on a good team with, as always, a couple of exceptions.The Director of Coaching (AKA the head of the club) is listed as his coach, but in name only. The real coach is a fine fellow by the name of Jesus. There's just one little problem with Jesus (that I can discern at this early stage). He only speaks Spanish.Now, if Youngest were playing with the Bricenos or another Latino area club, that wouldn't be an issue. Of course, Youngest doesn't play for one of those clubs because he only speaks English (and first-year high school French). In fact, half of the kids on his team only speak English.Yup.Not surprisingly, the monolingual kids and their parents have been pushing the DOC to get us an English-speaking coach. The DOC has dug in his heels and essentially said, "Take it or leave it."Sigh.We head out to our second game of spring league in a few minutes. Our first game was yesterday. We got to witness the coach yelling out instructions to players who, upon hearing their name called, turn to listen and then...stare...and wait...until one of the bilingual kids on the bench translated the instructions. Thank GOD soccer is such a slow-paced game.My email to them this morning was as direct as I'm going to be, before we take our soccer ball and team bench and go elsewhere:"I want to reiterate the opinion expressed by Pete earlier: Jesus does not speak English well enough to communicate with my monolingual English son. That was evidenced 100% repeatedly in the first match of the season yesterday. We don't doubt he is a fine coach. But we don't know that because Youngest is unable to understand what he says to him. The need to have other players translate what is wanted is not feasible in the moment that communications is necessary as the players are on the field. I know David has made it clear that Jesus is the coach for that team. Pete and I need to make it clear that Youngest does not speak Spanish and needs a coach who speaks English. I will not speak for the many other monolingual boys on the team. I will only speak for Youngest. And I'm afraid I, too, can only speak it in English."[...]

Chasing Something in the Night


I couldn't find my "Darkness on the Edge of Town" CD, so it never got loaded onto my mp3 player years ago and it never got added into my repertoire of all-Bruce, only-Bruce whenever I am in the car alone, and so I never listened to some of the songs for a very long time. Given that I feel like I'm in an all-or-nothing fight on too many levels to count, I needed the damn music. So down to the local music store I went, like any old lady would, and bought another copy.

If you've never heard it, or if you haven't heard "Something in the Night" in a very long time, I recommend listening to it. I'll make it easier for you by putting a YouTube version here.

I wish I had lived in Germany when "Darkness" was first released. Why? Because the B-side for the massively overplayed "Badlands" was "Something in the Night" in Germany. (Those of us stateside got "Streets of Fire" as the B side.) I worked in a donut shop at the time, and my friend Viv had gotten a job there as well. She loved "Badlands" and played it all the bloody time, spending her hard-earned dime tips to play it on our jukebox again. And again. And again.


I turn the radio up loud so I don't have to think.

I look for a moment when the world seems right.

I was born with nothing and I'm better off that way.

Nothing is forgotten or forgiven.

But it's the last one that verse that truly speaks to me:

When we found the things we loved
They were crushed and dying in the dirt
We tried to pick up the pieces
And get away without getting hurt
But they caught us at the state line
And burned our cars in one last fight
And left us running burned and blind,
Chasing something in the night

I am feeling quite on the run, burned and blind. I just wish I knew if the price I will pay to keep on chasing it to ease this fear and dread, to hold true to this fervent belief I have that we've got to make our stand now or never, with all or nothing.

Now it is up to you to decide what I am chasing.

Let Them Bake Cakes


Last week, I baked a cake for no reason other than I had made brownies for an anti-VOTUS meeting I was attending. I had made the house smell like that delightful Ghirardelli chocolate and then taken most of the treats with me. I saw that recipe for a chocolate fudge cake on the back of the cocoa powder bag, and I said, "Oh, the boys won't be so annoyed about the lack of brownies if I bake a cake."It was a good cake. Actually, it was a great cake. As Pete helps to get the cake out of the pans, I bemoan once more the lack of cake pans like my mom has had for as long as I've known her. These are ordinary cake pans, mind you, but they have a built-in "spatula" type mechanism that cleanly cuts the cake out of the cake pan, leaving no trace of cake bottom in the pan. My cake pans are just ordinary cake pans without the all-important mechanism.About three weeks ago, my mom was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors that has metastasized to her liver and other lesser critical places. On Wednesday, I managed to attend her first appointment with the superhero oncologist she now can call her own. Along with her sister, my sister and my mom, we all managed to crowd into the patient room with the aforementioned superhero doctor and listen, enraptured, as he talked of hard-to-pronounce diagnoses and even harder-to-pronounce diagnostic tests and procedures coming down the pike.Feeling remarkably good post-visit, and happy to have her daughters hanging with her for a few days, my mom spent the past few days pretty much pain-free and hopeful. Attitudes are very important, particularly when your goal is to get as much as possible in order before you have to board the plane back to California and try to once again compartmentalize. In the midst of activity, I pull open the storage under the stove to grab a pan to make my ice cream dessert. I lift the cake pans out to reach the broiler pan."Dibs!" I shout. I exaggerate my movements to grab the newly purchased pack of multi-colored Post-it Notes so I can put one with my name on the cake pans. It is not unlike the "I call shotgun" and "I call window" and other childhood claims of rights shouted above the roar of the always loud crowd of five kids in six years. My two siblings in the house at the time join me in reverting back to childhood."No," my sister says, jokingly, "Why should you get them?""I'll just take them when you leave," my middle brother says.My mother says, "Just take them with you now, Patty." [Incidentally, she also tries to get me to disassemble a vacuum and take that back home with me, too.]The cake pans are, of course, in the storage drawer underneath the stove. They will remain there for a very long time, I hope. Every cake I make between now and when I have those cake pans, is a cake I will cherish, with every crumb of cake bottom sticking to the pan. I expect many cakes in the foreseeable future.[...]

The Purpose of a Squirrel's Appendix


It is as I try to fall asleep each night that my mind most often takes me to the shadow writing of a blog post. Thoughts swirl around me as I process the day's or week's or election cycle's events and emotions. As my husband will readily attest to, I make leaps from one subject to another, leaving him puzzling over how to answer my last point while also addressing something completely unrelated.

When I gave up the whole God bit, I was left wondering what the purpose of living is. It is something that I struggle with quite often. If this life is all that there is, why do we even exist at all? Youngest and I slow for a stupid squirrel to choose whether to end his life by continuing on his path in front of my Jeep or opt to turn around and go back to the relative safety of a tree whose roots have mangled the suburban sidewalk. Youngest does his best "Up" bit -- POINT! -- and we carry on, tires unscathed by squirrel guts.

Why does that squirrel exist? What's its purpose? Raised Catholic, I have long, by necessity, bought into the theory that other creatures are merely props on the human stage. Humans are superior, of course, because they have souls and the chance for eternal life.

Oh. If you take that little bit away, that we have souls and there is a God, then humans fall the way of squirrels. If humans are squirrels, I'm not sure exactly what the Jeep is in my analogy. I guess it's death, in whatever form it arrives. Death, the Jeep of Life.

Since the upheaval in the world, the country and, now, my own family, Youngest and I have spent a lot of time pondering the unanswerable. We have had hour-long discussions about anything and everything. Like, what the hell are we still doing with an appendix? Or wisdom teeth? What the hell is their purpose?

They don't have one, you know, not really. Not any purpose that humans need now. They are no longer necessary.

Which leaves me in a long, windy, roundabout way to the conclusion that maybe we are no longer necessary, too.

*Cartoon courtesy The New Yorker.

Blue Shield's Arrogance


The summary of the issue is contained in my email to California's Dept. of Managed Health Care:This is to the attention of Maggie. (Thank you, Maggie, for your very helpful conversation just now.)As I stated on the phone, my husband has a plan through Blue Shield through Covered California. I think it's a Silver PPO. He has had this plan since Day 1 of ACA, and we are grateful for the money saved and the stress we didn't have to experience for this period of time. Of course, rates went up dramatically, with my husband's plan going from about $550 to $941.31 per month beginning January 1, 2017. We received email notifications of that at the time I renewed his plan and have since received additional letters stating the amount (dated January 7 and January 26).On Tuesday, we received the attached letter from Blue Shield (backdated to February 10) advising that they would be withdrawing $1,882.62 (precisely double the premium amount) on Feb. 28, presumably as March payment. We called yesterday and the representative told us it was a mistake, that Blue Shield's "back room" was aware of the mistake, and, no, there was nothing more I could do beyond just getting the mistake fixed for my husband. She suggested cancelling the auto withdrawal so it wouldn't happen and instead make a one-time payment of the correct amount of $941.31 right then. I declined to pay, saying I would wait until it was due on February 28. But the auto withdrawal authorization was removed.It is stunning to my husband and me that Blue Shield can be so blase about an error that could have a tremendous effect on many, many people. I have no idea how many errors they've made. I can't find out. But you can. And the time to correct the error is BEFORE they start pillaging the accounts of people already stuck for health insurance because organizations like them.So, please, get going on this! While my husband and I would have weathered a storm of $941.31 suddenly disappearing -- illegally, I might add -- from our account, imagine those who can ill afford to do so.How about that, folks? See what Blue Shield is doing there? They have made a mistake that will have them withdrawing double the amount they are authorized by me to withdraw. And it ain't just me, folks. Heads up, you poor Blue Shield "customers," get ready for a doozy come Tuesday.And, yes, I did notify the Los Angeles Times as well. Seems I know someone there.[...]

The Atheist's Mother


I have a very good friend who is making a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. She is a fervent believer that the Virgin Mary appeared to six kids in 1981. She is going on a spiritual journey for her own reasons.

I am an atheist. I do not feign otherwise, to my very good friend nor to my family members, including my mom, Louise. [Hey, Mom!] Mom is a devout Catholic, just like my very good friend.

About a week ago, Mom was diagnosed with what turns out to be liver cancer. Tests are still being run, but that's where she sits now, in a hospital room in Florida, with no treatment plan in place yet as it is quite early in the process. By the time you read this, she'll probably be back home, possibly still waiting answers to questions we're not even sure we know we should be asking.

When I told my very good friend the news last week, pretty much as it unfolded, she asked me for a picture of Mom and something she can bring with her that was Mom's. I cried when she said this to me because, regardless of my own beliefs, what she is doing, to her, is tantamount to carrying my 80-year-old mother to Bosnia and Herzegovina. She's bringing my mom with her.

I don't believe. I will never believe. But I do believe in is the power of prayer: to lighten the load someone in need might be carrying. To that end, on Thursday, March 2, if you're not doing too much else in the 11 a.m. hour (EST), do me a favor, and send your very good wishes and thoughts and prayers to my mom, Louise. She might never know you, but she'll know of you.

Permit me an Indulgence


There is a house I pass on the twice-daily-walks with Corrie-the-wonder-mutt. About nine years ago, a family of four lived in it: an ex-SFPD cop out on disability, a high-powered working wife, a 17-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old daughter. As more than five, six, seven years passed, no matter when I walked by the house, the only person I ever saw, and that was a rare sighting, was the ex-cop. For the last couple of years, it's been rented out. The middle schooler son of a friend of mine, a nearby neighbor to that house, said they suspected the renters were drug dealers, what with all the activity going on.It's been vacant for awhile now, perhaps the ex-cop finally heard from some neighbors. Who knows? A few months back, sporadic renovations seemed to be starting, and about two weeks ago, I started noticing more activity around the house. I've seen some work people, and I've seen the ex-cop again as well. I walk the dog and approach his house and turn right up the street at the intersection where his house is on the corner. I see him and he sees me. I stare. I do nothing but stare. I stare the whole time I walk my dog by his house. He mostly looks away.About nine years ago, when that family of four lived there, that 17-year-old daughter had done a few babysitting gigs for us and, when our little family went to Tahoe for the three-day weekend, she stayed to take care of the dog and the house.It didn't end well.It occurs to me, a tad over nine years ago, that I expected something more as time went by. I expected that fucked up 17-year-old Saundra to grow up and mature and maybe make her way back to my house one day, mature-like, and acknowledge what she did. She hasn't.Her mother? The one who thought money is all it takes? Never heard from her again.Today, as I walked by that house with my dog and saw no one, it occurred to me that the amount of work that's being done means permits would have been pulled. Should have been pulled.Should have been pulled.Why are there permits, anyway? For the safety of others, as I'm sure any ex-cop knows. Should know.Should know.Trudging up the hill back home with the dog, I make a note to myself to head on down and take a gander at those permits when the government offices open Tuesday morning. I should do that.Should do that.I got home, fired up the old blog archives, and found the post I linked up there. Those archives are an amazing thing. I read that post, and I saw that ending where I express sorrow for the ex-cop. Travel back to my time, nine years on, and I realize something about that permit.They really should have one.Maybe not the ending you thought I'd come to. Maybe you thought I'd realize it's not really his fault. Maybe you thought nine years is a pretty long time.Hear me out.They're still married. They're still all one big happy family. [Or not, what the fuck do I care? I do know her very good friend Victoria is constantly in and out of jail, so for all I know, Saundra is doing hard time herself somewhere and that's why she can't come with sincere apologies. Good.]Lie down with evil, evil you are.Not sure if I hope he's a law-abiding citizen or not. Don't really care. Just know he should be.[...]

Conceding Privilege


I admit it. I've been intentionally taking actions that, if considered in their entirety, might put me on a watch list, if, you know, VOTUS was on the lookout for radicalized aging white women. And during all that, it struck me last night that I can do those things because of my privilege. I am an aging white woman, so it's unlikely if, for instance, I only use my Passport for identification from now on, that anyone would take notice. Or if I take part in marches. Or if I buy a burner phone. Or I register to buy a gun.

You get the drift.

While group messaging with two friends about rallies we are holding at school sites in our little burb Friday, I message another local friend about the illnesses hitting our two families. The two chat windows appear on my little screen side-by-side. In one, I joke about the NSA reviewing our texts in the coming years. [I'm funny that way.] In the other, we exchange illness updates.

Side-by-side, I should think nothing of the two conversations, beyond the amazement that I'm this old and can manage it and not accidentally send one message to one that is meant for the others. But side-by-side, in the era of VOTUS, Putin, and other scary motherfuckers charged with eavesdropping on pretty near everyone, I think something of it. And I'm in no way worried about me. But my foreign-born friend, an American citizen married to an American citizen with American-born children? I got a twinge of worry, which grew into a blog post, the act of which writing makes me firmer in my belief in two things.

1.  VOTUS and his death eaters need to go. And so does Putin.
2.  My friend should probably not text me anymore.

If I Should Die Before I Wake


In the throes of fever and such and amid trying to get a #resist activity going, I lie in bed thinking about, of all things, death. Because my reaction to recent celebrity deaths have almost always included the thought of, "Well, at least they don't have to live under a Trump presidency." Being sick [and, hey, also losing more weight than I would want to so maybe foreshadowing, kids], my mind veers to my own death. What if this is the illness I've been expecting since I was, oh, 8 or 9, finally come home to roost?

My expectations of my own death [and, sorry, everyone else's deaths, too] are that there is nothing more after that. Rather, at least there is nothing for my conscious being. Parts of me will live on for however long the universe lives on, just as they lived on ever since the universe was formed. Sadly, none of those parts can unite to come haunt some people. And, yeah, I'm talking about VOTUS or SCROTUS, for sure. [I lost that battle, too, didn't I? VOTUS never took on. It's because SCROTUS is just too fucking perfect. I was so close to online fame. Hah!]

I acknowledge the impact the death will have on the people I love most fiercely in my life. I can say truly that no one knows how any of them feel going through my death. No one does. No one will. No one ever does. No one ever will.

[Shit, now Pete is going to be pissed off that I put that in there. But hear me out. One of the several overpowering emotions I can call up at a moment's notice regarding my father's death relates to people coming up to me in the early hours, days, weeks and months saying, "I know just how you feel," as they then launched into something about some death of a loved one they had experienced. Fuck that shit, folks. It angered me then and it angers me now. No one can know. No one ever can. Now, Pete, teach them to put that "Cheshire Smile" on their faces when they encounter people saying that to them. Practice doing it yourself. Thankfully, the lot of you are far more sympathetic to the needs of others than I am. Maybe it won't anger you all. Or maybe you'll just bury it deep inside you and rage at a TSA agent in your future. You decide.]

Man, I just completely derailed the post I had hoped would sail me into post-mortem fame and (heir's) fortune. Okay. Nothing to see here, folks. Just more ramblings of someone who admits, that, yes, my mother is correct and I should get a flu shot every year. Remember, if it's already happened, it's not advice you're giving, it's judgement.

Conclusion to be Read Upon My Death. You'll all come back to this post, after I'm dead if I'm dead sooner rather than later, and you'll read the words again. Of course, the viralability [hey, did that become a standard term used after I wrote this but before I died or did it become after I died] will depend on the winds of progress.

So You Want to be FBriends


There's that pesky little friend request you've been meaning to send me via Facebook. Maybe you've already sent one and have been ignored. Maybe you sent a second, but also never heard back. I'm here to help.

Are you a relative of mine? Yes? Have we met at least six times over the course of our lives? Yes? You're in.

Are you a relatively local real life friend of mine? Like "friend" in the "friend" sense? Yes? Have we seen each other more than in passing at least six times over the last year? Yes? You're in.

Are you a long-lost friend from my past? Yes? Did we hang out together a lot in our past? Yes? When I come to town, do I make sure I tell you I'm there and make efforts to see you? Yes? You're in.

I can't imagine anyone else in my life with whom I'm not currently FBriends sending me that friend request who doesn't fall into one of those categories.

I'm not the FB user you think I am. I feed my twitter (@patois42) to FB. My FB page is public, so anyone can -- and does -- wander over, sometimes to my great amusement. Follow me on Twitter and I'll follow you back (assuming the follow-back is in keeping with my Twitter rules). Or follow me on FB and you can see all the Twitter crap that feeds into it and the random wholesome FB interacting I do.

Or not.

I Will Fight for You


During the frenzy that was the Women's March run-up and post-op, I read a piece by a woman that essentially told female opponents of the march that they don't have to believe in the need for the march because she would march for them, for their daughters and for their granddaughters. It was a very well written post. But it left me thinking that, were I an opponent of the march, I'd take her marching for me the same way, as an atheist, I respond to "I will pray for you." In short, it means nothing.It truly is so meaningless to me that you say you'll pray for me. I put my game face on, though, because I'm a goddamned human being, and I say, "Thank you." But I really think, "Fuck that shit." I don't believe. So your whispering words aloud or in your head? Good on you. You go.I'll try to explain it in that winding way I have of blabbering on and on.Pete is allergic to cilantro. Put a pinch of that evil weed in a big bowl of curry, and that's all it takes. If he doesn't spit it out quickly enough, the rest of us get to watch his face begin to flush. Hates the stuff, he does. Tastes like soap, he and others tell me.Me? I don't even know what the hell cilantro tastes like. It's nothing. It's another garnish that brings nothing to my palate.My Mexican-born colleague? Loves cilantro. Puts it in all the wonderful dishes she prepares. Swears of its glory.Here's your cilantro scale:1. No fucking way.2. Meh.3. Yes fucking way.Ain't no way you're going to convince Pete of #3 on the cilantro scale. And he's going to fight you to the death (possibly quite literally) on that. Ain't no way Martha is going to believe #1. No way. Me? Meh.How does this relate to fighting against that asshat in the White House and how does it relate to religion?Here's your #resist #VOTUS scale:1. No fucking way.2. Meh.3. Yes fucking way.Finally, here's your belief in a god scale:1. No fucking way.2. Meh.3. Yes fucking way.Any questions? [...]

Miss You


Eldest's departure for his freshman year of college coincided with the arrival of a long-lost friend in town to drop off her first-born son to college here. Two old ladies weeping about the loss of their children. It was both massively sad and outright hilarious at the same time. [All of which reminds me of high school days of us saying, "GYHTBT." That's pronounced ga-hid-bit. And it's an acronym from my youth: Guess You Had To Be There.]

Amy-of-the-Woods came to town and related what the dean said at the parent orientation session at her son's school. He was advocating for the parents to let the kids make their way on their own. Don't make them check in regularly. Don't contact them all the time. Don't try to find their way for them.

That really stuck with me. I hold it up as the mantra of my life without them here. It's not that I don't reach out to them from time-to-time. Hell, I troll Le Daughter, now in her freshman year at college, with pictures of me in front of crepe trucks and bunny rabbits. I troll Eldest as much, sharing photos of Pete's famous sausage rolls and the like.

I think of them all the time. I wonder what they're doing. I wonder how they're doing. I wonder if Eldest is as outraged at the hits that keep coming from he-who-shall-not-be-named. VOTUS! I look at the weather and wonder if Le Daughter has made her way to Disneyland yet again. Have they made progress in the romance department? Are classes interesting? What's the best Pokemon she's caught? Does he feel like he's in better shape now that he rides his bike everywhere? Is she buying the fruit we told her to get every week?

I guess I'll just have to give into my inner Mick and go back in time when, presumably, my own mother might have missed me. Here's not Bruce.


Use Your Voice


Dovetailing extremely well with my protest sign touting "I can NOT sit down. I will NOT shut up" are the words of Alison Malee, which now grace the front of my favorite homemade postcard. I mail the cards to those who need to speak up and those who have spoken up. We all need to use our voices to resist VOTUS.I tell my husband to unfollow me on Facebook as he already has to listen to me voice my outrage in real life. No need to force him to hear me in stereo. I have not checked to see if he has done the deed.I don't think I've ever hesitated to use my voice to end injustice. I have used it on a small scale -- "Hey, mayor, what the fuck you doing parking in a red zone to go to the library?" or "Come on, DPW, get your ass out here and remove the tree that crushed a fence and is on the school playground" -- and on a slightly larger scale -- "Dear School District Board of Trustees, don't even!" and "Look, another Brown Act violation." Now, I am shouting to anyone who will listen and whispering to those tuning out the crescendo of outrage throughout the land.The final JV soccer match was Thursday. There were some outrageously lousy calls, including a blatant red-card-appropriate take-down of one of our players in the box in the first minute of the match. My husband used his voice throughout the game to complain about the bad calls and missed calls. Youngest was taken down scoring our second goal, bringing us within one goal of equalizing. The equalization never happened, and the boys lost 3-2.After the game, Pete went to talk to the refs. If he is not the creator of the school of thought of "If you don't tell someone they're wrong, they'll think they're right," he is its biggest proponent. I cringed, maybe even outwardly, thinking this could go south real fast. Then I remembered something. I remembered something big.Use your voice.Use your voice.I'm not going to judge what your perceptions of injustice are. Well, of course, I will judge, actually. What I won't judge, though, is the act of using your voice. Stand up. Speak up.There's no other way to stop injustice.[...]

Revolutionary Fantasies


It is 9:08 Monday morning and as I pump gas at the local Chevron*, using my Safeway* rewards discount of 20 cents per gallon, I am clad in my crappiest jeans, on my way to the grocery store for baking ingredients and then to Staples* for ink for my Epson* printer to make my remaining #resist post cards. Standing at the pump, I answer my ringing LG* phone, ignoring the posted warnings about cell phone use around active gas pumps. It is the office. It is not good.

In less than 5 minutes, I am on my way into the office. The day supervisor who had two weeks previously given notice that she would leave Feb. 10 got a burr up her butt over the weekend, came in at 8:30 Monday morning and quit in a blaze of glory, walking out as employees arrived to start at 9 a.m. She left a lovely Sharpie*-written two-page resignation note filled with, of course, misspellings, grammatical errors, and a "big fuck you" to us.

I floor it to Oakland, blasting Springsteen at every moment that I am not on the phone scrambling to get passwords changed and trying to figure out how that damn bitch fucked up a critical part of our computer system on her way out. On that last part, I assume it was unintentional as every time she gets near the system, she fucks it up because, hello, druggie and stupid.

That's when the fantasy starts. What if she's fucked up the system to the point of we've lost months of survey data for our most important project and wreaked havoc in our second most important project which started earlier this month? What if we can't recover? What if my partner and I just decide, "Fuck it?" What if we just figure we've done enough and walk away from the whole thing? What if we just close the business? I'm not a legal partner, so I can't be held personally liable. And the company is incorporated and we make a point of never taking personal liability for anything on the business side, so she should be golden, too.

Man, if that happens, I can devote myself full time to the revolution! I can #resist #VOTUS 24/7. I can...

It's at that moment in the fantasy that I come to the harsh realization that I have no marketable skills for the revolution.

Given that the only New Year's Resolution I have that doesn't fix a defect of mine is to learn to play the harmonica, I don't know that I'll have any real skill in the foreseeable future. But don't let that stop you, leaders of the revolution, because I'll happily learn something new for you. And at least you'll have some fine accompaniment for rallying songs.

 *Nope, not paid to hawk, thanks.

Baking With a Side of Bruce


Since Election Day, I have only listened to Springsteen music in my car as I travel back and forth to work. I "turn the radio up loud, so I don't have to think." Rule setter and follower that I am, I allow myself only one album on the way there and only one album on the way back. If the commute takes longer, and sometimes it can take a lot longer, I listen to silence. It is how I have gotten through these last few months and have remained marginally mentally intact.

With the exception of "Darkness," I have every album he's released. Couldn't find that damn CD to save my life. Went to the local record store and bought another copy. [Fuck you, Amazon and your continued advertising on Breitbart and pimping of Ivanka's crap.]

As he's always done, Bruce has written a song for every emotion I feel or belief I hold dear. That means that, on the one hand, I've had some joyous uplifting outbursts of energy with some of his songs whilst commuting. On the other hand, my blood has boiled as his anger against the government's failures and misdeeds wails through the speakers. He is Bruce. I am Bruce.

I'm down to one kid again, as college sophomore left in early January and college freshman left on the day I was marching in D.C. I was otherwise engaged the week Le Daughter left with, you know, #VOTUS and finishing off work before being gone. Since I've been back, I've been catching up on work and doing my small part to #resist.

Baking, something I've seemed to rediscover a passion for since Eldest first was preparing to leave for college, has not happened. But I got a bug to bake yesterday. With just Pete, Youngest and me at home, a sour cream coffee cake would spoil before being finished. But, man, I fixated on making it. When a friend of mine whom I've not seen in ages came by Youngest's soccer game yesterday, I found my prey. I pounced on her, "Do you want half of a sour cream coffee cake? Huh? Huh? Do you?" She did.

I am full now, having delivered half a coffee cake and eaten a slice of my own.



A couple of days ago, I read this post by Cynthia McCabe in Medium. In a frenzy of information overload that is pouring into me and out of me, that sticks with me. I agree with her 100%. Thanks to her, the word "triage" has been bouncing around in my head. I want to take it a step beyond where Cynthia takes it, and widen my focus to make it about people, not "just" women. I want a strong women's movement, but I want more. I want a strong resistance movement. As Sean Spicer would say, "Period."

I went to that Women's March not because I'm a woman but because I believe with most of what we're fighting for. [As an aside here, let me acknowledge that I don't agree with every cause in this umbrella of resistance, but I will fight alongside anyone in their fight against #VOTUS. I might not join you in the streets if you go fight against the death penalty or against the deportation of those who commit crimes here. In fact, I definitely won't. But I'll march alongside you when we fight against priority for Christian refugees, against a Muslim registry, against mass deportations, and so on and so on and so on.]

Sadly, I would fail miserably in a MASH setting as I'm incapable of pinpointing those who have the most critical needs. They all need help before I need help. On a personal level, it's the elimination of the ACA that will bring my family to its proverbial knees. For all those individual anecdotes that pro-VOTUS folks spew about the impact on ACA on this small business owner in Ho-ho-kus, NJ, or this pastor in North Platte, NE, what about my anecdote?

I've worked my entire life. So has my husband. We've paid our taxes to the growing legions of fucking leeches. We've raised our children into high-functioning members of society. We've been involved in activities which have bettered not only our family, but our neighborhood, our schools, our city, our state, these United States of America, and, yes, our planet.

But I get it. I finally do get it, thanks to Cynthia. I'm going to fight for ACA and beyond. But I'm going to fight even harder for my fellow Muslim Americans, my hard-working long-time-contributing undocumented workers, the Anne Franks among the refugees, and freedom of the press. In this country I see hemorrhaging from a slash at its core, its femoral artery, if you will, I need to up my game. You do, too.

The Notebook


As I age, my ability to retain information and recall events steadily diminishes. Back in the old days of newly blogging, I carried a notebook with me at all times to write down random thoughts. When technology came a'knockin', I ultimately just had my handy phone with me in which to write quick thoughts. Which is all well and good, really, unless your eyesight is deteriorating and, although you do believe that you'll need to have lasik because you see doomsday fast approaching and you know those with contacts and glasses will be the first to suffer when we start over in our post-apocalyptic world, you still have reading glasses and can't see what you're writing without them on.Before I went to D.C., I not only bought a burner phone -- yes, intelligence community, I bought that just for you -- I threw a notebook in my purse so I didn't have to fumble around trying to keep a note of history happening before my very eyes. Wrote "#VOTUS" with a big-ass Sharpie across the front. Honestly, that was so I knew which way was up more than anything else.Bad weather, cancelled flights, changed airport of departure, rerouting and all the rest found me at Reagan National airport on Monday. [Thank you, Delta, by the way, in all sincerity, for everything your employees did to ensure all of us resisters made it home reasonably on time.]CNN posted a story about what happened next at National.It was electrifying when I realized who it was. Just before this photo was taken, I had shaken his hand, told him what an honor it was to meet him, and I told him to stand tough against VOTUS. Yes, I even said "VOTUS." Then, I pulled out my VOTUS notebook and asked him for his autograph. He obliged. I was teary-eyed. The crowd was pulsing. "Yes, we can!" started as a rolling rallying cry.For those of you not paying attention, that's Rebel Fighter Rep. John Lewis. I hope very few of you got this far without knowing that. [...]

It's Judgement


Sometimes, thoughts and events converge in my head and a germ of a blog post idea takes hold. I've been making a point of writing down amazing statements people make that cause me to give pause. One such statement was made by a client a few weeks ago as we were debriefing after conducting a focus group with some mothers of babies. It related to the use of cannabis while pregnant, and someone within our client project team said, "Do you think they know it's not good for the baby? Shouldn't we say it?""If it's already happened, it's not advice you're giving, it's judgement," said another woman.I had never heard anything like that said before. I am nearing 60, and I have never heard it put so succinctly well. The mother reporting having used marijuana while pregnant had already given birth to a healthy, thriving baby.[No, I am not advocating the use of cannabis while pregnant. If you are pregnant or become pregnant, please do not use cannabis unless under the care of a real doctor. If you used cannabis while you were pregnant, it's done. Move along.]In the world of VOTUS, there's a whole lot of judging going on. I don't deny that I am judging people. In fact, I'm shouting my judgement as loud as I can everywhere I can. And I'm being equally judged by others.Fair enough because I really don't have any advice for those of you who voted for him. I don't believe in repentance. I don't believe you can make it up in this lifetime and I don't believe there's anything after this lifetime we are living. I recognize that I should encourage you to own your decision and join the resistance now. As Bruce says, this train -- this life -- includes both losers and winners, saints and sinners, so I really should be encouraging you to come on board. But I hate you too much right now.More recently, as in just last night, that public judgement was heaped upon a FBriend who happens to also be my friend. She had copied and pasted something a day or so prior regarding what was happening with the ACA. The last line of the post was "This post is to drive awareness only, I plan to delete all comments supporting or slamming the post." Seven reacted and five (including me) posted a comment singing to the choir.The sixth comment? "When do you plan to 'delete all comments supporting...'?"Judgement? Yes. And I believe the woman who made that comment happens to also be a friend of my friend, as opposed to just your garden-variety fellow local parent FBriend. So feel free to add "public condemnation" to the thrust of her comment.I messaged my friend, told her I had considered replying to that comment, but then thought I'd be a true friend of hers and leave it to her to deal with publicly or not as she saw fit. My imagined reply morphed into blodder for my home here.What would my reply have been? Maybe this post. My life feels kind of circular like that right now.[...]

The Reality of Reality TV


I went to D.C. for the march. When I bought my plane tickets, I didn't care about anything but making sure I was there for the march. The best deal was to land at about 1:30 in the morning on inauguration day. As the trip neared, I decided I'd also make it for the inauguration itself, my "Free Pussy Riot" shirt at the ready.There's a lot of whinging on the part of our VOTUS (Voldemort Of The United States) and his death eaters about the attendance numbers being reported. I was in line for the secured section on the mall starting at about 9 a.m., having wandered first past those waiting with tickets. Being an old hand at Springsteen concerts, I ultimately made it through at 10:45 a.m. Those VOTUS supporters who waited patiently in line the entire time, as folks like me weaved and bobbed their way far in front of them, had been in line four hours at that point.When my feet hit the ground of the secured area, I stopped and took a picture facing the Washington Memorial and then flipped and took a picture of the Capitol. Here are the two I took at 10:50 a.m.When I arrived at my spot, right at the barrier separating the non-ticketed from the ticketed, I took two additional photos, both at 10:57 a.m. One is the direction I was facing and one was one in the other direction, about a football field's length away, where a Jumbotron was set up.The money shot was that last one. You don't really get a sense of the amount of space available for people to have been on the mall watching the events for real. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands could have joined. But none did. But the ones who did come to watch history in the making, to see their guy take his oaf of office, to take part in their fucked-up revolution? They all watched it on the big screen.They have made a reality TV star our VOTUS. And they are only comfortable seeing him on the screen.Reality TV bites.[...]

Every Day, in Some Small Way, Resist


Lots and lots to relate about my activities in D.C., from the inauguration to the march, from arrival to departure. But I'm too tired for that, as, math brain still kind of functioning, I realize I have slept a grand total of 19 hours out of 129. But, tired as I am, I still did a little thing today. Won't everyone reading this do the same to #resist #VOTUS (Voldemort Of The United States)?

Feel free to customize and send your very own email (with the subject line RE: Audit for President Trump's Financial Concerns) to:, and

Dear Ms. Siggerud and Mr. Minnelli,

I know this won't possibly stand out in a crowd among what I hope are a blizzard of messages from like-minded Americans. It's not going to stop me, though, from saying anything. In fact, as the protest sign I made on November 12, 2016, and have carried with me from my little Northern California burg to Washington, D.C., said itself on Saturday, "I can NOT sit down. I will NOT shut up." (I was also there for the inauguration. One of the very few people actually not watching on a big screen TV. Actually, one of the very few people there at all.)

I am in full support of Senator Elizabeth Warren's request for an audit of our illustrious new president's finances, to prohibit conflicts of interest that would prevent him from carrying out the responsibilities of the office without corrupt influence. I have no expectation that such an audit will stop the obvious shenanigans that are already going on, but maybe someone over in your neck of the woods could stem the flow. Stand with Badlands National Park, folks, and #resist.


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