Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day 30: A post mortem

Photo credit: Reticulated Writer

I did it! I finished my 5th year in a row of NaBloPoMo. Of course, I do commit to writing a post a day during other random months, but November is a hard one to finish, mostly because of Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep, which has been rare this month. I'm lazy and I procrastinate, so I end up starting to write when I should be crawling into bed most nights. And then when the alarm clock starts beeping at 6:00 am, I'm a sorry tigger.

I don't have anything exciting to say about the genitals of either sex tonight. Those aren't the posts people seem to like best anyway. In fact, the post that got the most views this month was day 4, the one about not putting corn meal in the cornbread. I should share either more embarrassing stories or more recipes. I suspect it's the former. No problem. I have plenty of those.

The post that came in second for views (and not even close, which I cannot explain) was the one about finding a note on my van on day 21. However, that one got by far the most likes and shares on Facebook, as well as the most comments in various places where I shared it. It was also my favorite, if I get a vote. Probably one of my favorites ever.

A not very close third was the one about voting for Hillary's vagina on day 6. A day when I was still innocently sure I'd finally see a woman sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. Turns out it doesn't really matter how many of us voted for her vagina .... well, nevermind. I'm bitter, that's all.

The biggest surprise of the month -- in Reticuland, not nationally -- came after I posted about my art journaling on day 27. I came close to pulling that one in the middle of the night after I went to bed with a rock in my stomach. Real artists read here, you guys! But I didn't delete it. I stayed in bed and left it there and probably had a dream that I went to school naked and forgot my locker combination, and then had to pee in public. My dread was for naught. Thank you for being kind. More of you left positive comments on Facebook than I could have imagined. And, yes, even a couple of the real artists did. I blushed and teared up several times. 

And then a truly crazy thing happened. My friend Starfish said she wanted to buy one of them. She said it spoke to her of our friendship and what we'd gone through in the past. I was kind of stunned. I'd made no plan for such a thing. I asked an artist friend about pricing. And I also had to get used to the idea of letting go. Selling words is one thing. They're always still mine, in a way. Selling art ... well, I had to realize it's no different. And it creates a unique connection between the artist and the buyer. Just like the words on each of these blog posts represents something about who I was that day, so too does a work of art represent in a visual way where the artist was that day. And with the art journaling, the words I incorporate are often linked to something that is happening or has happened in my life. So .... yeah. That was unexpected and very cool.

And inspiring. Just like writing here and then engaging in conversations about the things I write about inspires me to write more, so did sharing my little art journals inspire me to want to create more. I've got ideas for several I'm working on now.

I hope you all went out and bought some Native deodorant. I know some of you did. I'm still bummed that I didn't hear back from them after I sent a link to my post. So if you get a chance when you order, please tell them where you heard of it. Or not. It doesn't really matter, now that I think of it.

John Cheever said, "I can't write without a reader. It's precisely like a kiss. You can't do it alone." I'll finish tonight by thanking you for kissing me back, and even slipping me some tongue every once in a while. Thank you for your likes and your comments, which are like a trail of breadcrumbs to the next post for me, and the times you shared a post with your friends. Shares are always welcome and flattering.

If it weren't for you I'd have no reason to come here to my little piece of the blogosphere and write in the late hours of the night. I don't make money from it (except the $250 I won the first year I did this). I don't get free products or invitations to speak at conferences. (Hell, I didn't even win one of the 4 free scholarships to the big Blogher conference in Orlando that were given away this month.) It's just you and me here on Free Parking, and I'm doing most of the talking. Just as I like it.

I'm taking a short break to get some sleep and maybe make some art. See you in a few days. Promise!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Day 29: If you don't count your own blessings, who will?

Photo credit: Reticulated Writer

Did you ever have one of those days that require you to either baste yourself with pity all day, or to grab yourself up by the lapels, give yourself a hard shake and set yourself down inside a new attitude? I know you have. Today was one of those damn days, and even though we all have them, I'm going to tell you about mine.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I've been going to some doctors at the base to clear up a few minor health issues. Today was dermatology day. I got Coraline off to school, got ready to go, and walked out the door with a good half hour before my appointment. Plenty of time. I had my Kindle with me, because I knew I'd be early.

I hit the unlock on my van with my key fob and nothing happened. Tried again. Nothing. Must need a new battery, I thought. First time in 14 years, but OK. I used the key and got in, automatically hit the button to lock the van and .... nothing. Put the key in the ignition and turned it .... nothing. Looked at the stupid, easy-to-bump button for the 30 interior lights and it was rocked forward. I'd left the lights on when I came home Saturday night. Probably bumped the button with my purse, and not the first time.

I called my son Drake, woke him up, explained the situation, and he said he'd be right over. I ran through the house and out to the garage for my jumper cables and got everything set up to jump my van. Fifteen minutes later he pulled up. I looked at my phone. Twelve minutes until my appointment. "Just take my car," he said. "Montana is on her way over. We'll jump your van with her car. Go!"

So I did. And I was 10 minutes late for my appointment, which meant I had to wait almost 20 minutes for the doctor on an examining table in one of those backless gowns , because she took the patient who was early ahead of me. Can't blame her.

I had asked for a skin cancer screening, because I'm a redhead and I can be a bit of a hypochondriac -- even though I rarely go to the doctor. I just worry -- so I wanted her to look at a few spots and secretly laugh at me for worrying about my freckles and bumps.

Except she didn't laugh. She was quite serious. And she wants to biopsy a spot on my face next week to see if it's basal cell carcinoma. Out of the 5 spots I showed her, of course it's the one on my face she's worried about.  Sigh. I really wanted to be a hypochondriac.

Next I went to the pharmacy. She'd given me a prescription for a new medicine for a rash around my eyes, and she told me I'd have to ask them to order it for me. When I told the tech, he started laughing a loud, booming fake laugh and said. "Well, that's not the way we do things around here. You don't just walk up and ask me to order you something. We have procedures that have to be followed. This is not the way you do it." He looked at my prescription and continued, "Looks like I'm going to have to have a talk with Lydia about this. Lydia. Lydia. Lydia. You are going to have to learn how we do things here, and this is not the way we do things, Lydia. You need to get with our program, Lydia, and not be sending patients down here talking about special orders, Lydia. You need to learn a lesson, Lydia." And he laughed his fake, booming laugh again.

Now I don't know if you're familiar with the military, but his use of her first name was shockingly inappropriate. Even though he was a no-ranking civilian, he should have known better. And I don't think if he'd looked down and seen that my doctor's name was James or John or David he would have spoken so condescendingly nor would he have used her first name. That pissed me off.

I said, "I'm sure Dr. Smith* thought you would be able to lead me through the proper procedure for getting this prescription." I was not smiling.

He simply grabbed a cordless phone and said, "I'm going to talk to Lydia now and tell her how WE do things here, and it's not the way she does things."

I opened my mouth to say, "Her name is either Dr. Smith or Lt. Col. Smith to you," but he'd already walked away. He talked to 3 other techs, and then reached into a bin on the shelf and pulled out a box, which he then dropped, kicked, and had to pick up. I don't think he made that phone call.

When he came back over to me, I said, "Is that my prescription?" He had to admit it was. I said, "So Lt. Col. Smith wasn't so far off giving me the prescription and asking me to bring it to you?"

"Not this time," he said. "You can have a seat. We'll call you up when it's ready."

I'm so super sensitive right now to sexist slights like that. I really wanted to call him out. And then again, I'd already been waiting for 45 minutes, and I just wanted to get out of there. So I didn't. I waited another 15 minutes, got my prescription and left.

I drove Drake's car to his house to trade for my van. We talked a while. I got into my van and drove home. I was just waiting for the next shitty thing to happen, even though the sun was shining, and the temperature was mild and in the 50's. A beautiful day, and I hadn't even noticed it until 2:00 in the afternoon. And that's when I decided I needed to take inventory on my perspective.

My battery was dead on my good old reliable van, yes, but I don't need a new one. I also had someone I could call who came right over and helped me out. He could have left my van sitting there dead and let me call roadside assistance or jump it with my trickle charger, but he fixed it for me. I am loved.

And as for the impending biopsy, I am hooked into some of the best socialized medicine in the world at one of the best military hospitals. I hope I don't have skin cancer on my face. Of course, I'm freaked out about that. But if I do, I will receive good medical care, and I pay very little for it. I won't have to fill out tons of paperwork or beg for an insurance company to pay for my care.  I am one of the fortunate ones.

As for that asshole at the pharmacy, fuck him. He's a sexist loudmouth, and that's that. At least I don't have to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with him.

After Coraline got home from school, we went out to run some errands. We had to drive out to the suburbs to return some boots I'd bought her that broke the first time she wore them. A 40-minute round trip. But I didn't have to pay postage to send them back, and by the time I got home Amazon had credited my account.

Coraline's school is doing a canned goods drive, and the class that donates the most gets a doughnut party. I don't really want Coraline having doughnut parties at school. They give her a ridiculous amount of sugar there. But I do want her to know generosity. So we made an unplanned stop at Kroger, and I asked her how many she thought she'd bring. "A dozen," she said.

"A dozen! You know you have to carry them on the bus, right?" I said. 

"How much is a dozen again?" she asked.

"Well, I want to take a dozen," she said.

And so we picked out a dozen cans of tuna, broth, soup, fruit, and beans. Because lots of people are hungry, and we are blessed with a big pot of homemade turkey soup in our fridge made from the carcass of our Thanksgiving turkey. So if she wants to haul a dozen cans of food in to school on the bus, a dozen it is.

At the library, I was grateful that we had our choice of thousands of books, CD's, and DVD's. Imagine what that would look like to most people in the world.

2016 has been a difficult year. November has been an especially difficult month, especially for those of us who were sure we were going to see our first woman president .... It's been hard to feel grateful even during this month when we focus on it so much. So many days I have to give myself a shake like I did today, and remind me to appreciate the support and the love I have beneath and around me. It's so easy to get pulled down by .... well, by all the things that pull us down.

November is almost over, but I'm making a vow -- because I think we're headed for a devastating crisis in this country -- that I'm going to hold on to the good things, the loving acts, the generous gifts. And I'm going to fight even harder for what is right and necessary for the safety of my family and friends and even strangers who could be friends.

Damn, I got all preachy there, didn't I? Well, it happens. I needed to see it in writing tonight. I know I'm going to have a pall over my head until I find out the results of that biopsy. And then ... well, I can't see around that curve. So until then, I'm just going to be glad for what I've got, which right now is one almost finished blog post, a nasty woman cocktail, and the dregs of a bag of potato chips. I don't have to get on the scale until morning, so right now, I'm OK.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Day 28: Don't drink from that. It's Grandma.

You know what's weird? Taking the cremains of 200 people, making a glaze. and creating dinnerware so that people can drink their morning coffee from cups made out of Grandma's ashes. I'm not even kidding. Here's proof.

OK, nothing is as bizarre as the idea that Donald Trump -- remember when we used to call him "The Donald"? -- could become the President of the United States. I mean, all the weird things I used to write about ... not even contenders for real life in this country any more. So let's pretend that The Donald isn't involved in Top Secret security meetings (when he shows up) and act like this is pre-DT.

How fucking weird would it be to drink out of a cup that was made from Grandpa's ashes? I realize ashes are sterile, and then even more sterile after kiln-firing, and then they are, I suppose, sealed into the glaze as well ... But you don't know! You don't know when you take that sip of coffee what part of Grandpa's body is up against your lips! And it might not even be Grandpa. It might be some stranger's ..... whatever up against your lips.

I watched that video, and it looked like maybe a family of young adults who .... I don't know. Maybe they needed that really large set of dinnerware so they had to get rid of everybody over 35 and under 20 in the family to make all of those dishes.

And parts of the video are so sensual, the dragging of the bread through the oil. The sipping of the wine. It's like they're having sex with the burned, crushed bones of their dead relatives. So romantic, am I right?

And they're so mellow and quiet, like they're at a funeral, but you know that wine is going to eventually kick in, and families are going to act like families act.  What happens when cousin Tina gets mad and throws Grandma her goblet at her sister Darla's head? And it breaks! Do they just sweep up their loved ones' remains and throw them in the trash? Or do they put the shards into an urn? Bury them in the back yard? Isn't that illegal?

And then what happens when they don't have enough cups to go around. Do they fight over who gets to drink from Grandma?

I watched another video with the guy who makes this human dinnerware. (Below.) He says the pieces he makes are "interactive, and they let you integrate the memories into everyday life." Ummm, no. I don't think those bits of crushed ash and bones are actually memories. I can see wanting keep a physical memento -- a lock of hair, or a bit of ash, or even some semen. But drinking your coffee every morning from a cup made partially of your loved one's cremains, along with those of 199 strangers?!?! I don't get it.

Death is hard. I know that. But healthy grieving leads to letting go and accepting, no matter how long that takes. I don't see how making your loved one's cremated body into the wine goblet or a dinner plate is a healthy reaction. You're not drinking memories.

I could be wrong though. Just because I can't imagine doing it doesn't mean it wouldn't bring other people comfort. What do you think? Would you find meaning in using your loved one's cremains this way? Or would you gag at the idea of eating your salad off the ashes and bones of 200 dead people?

You know where I stand. Tell me I'm wrong.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 27: A new passion

Twenty-seven posts down and three to go. For this month anyway. I do love writing here. And I do love sleeping more than 5 hours a night. Conflict! I just never have enough time for everything.

I have taken some time the past few months though to do something new. I'm not really an artist, but I have over the years dabbled in a few different visual art genres: oil painting, watercolors, drawing (I'm terrible at drawing). I even had a little jewelry business for a while. I'm not good at any of it. In fact, I may not even reach the mediocre line on the chart, but I like doing it -- whatever "it" is at the time.

Most recently it's been art journaling, which means I can combine the art (using the broadest definition of the word) and writing. I enjoy the flexibility of it. The lack of rules. It's meditative and yet messy. It's something Coraline and I can do together, each at our own level, on opposite sides of the dining room table, although it's hard to tell sometimes which one of us is 5. Also, I love buying art supplies and hoarding them, so back when I could afford to do that, I did. And now I've been opening boxes I packed up 7 years ago and finding treasures I can use now. Bonus!

I've been reading a new blog lately, The Badass Widow, and she had the courage to post some of the mandalas she's been drawing in a class she's taking. So I thought, What the hell. I'm going to post my little art journal pages some night when I don't feel like writing a lot. Like tonight.

So here they are. Don't judge! I'm neither an artist nor a photographer. I'm just a writer who sometimes likes to do something a little different with words and paper and shit.

I started out with these altered playing cards. I thought I was on to something new. Turned out it was already a thing. Oh well. 

"She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them." ~~ Zora Neale Hurston

"There comes a time when you have to choose between turning a page and closing the book." ~~ Author unknown (to me)

The journaling I obscured on this one. Not everything is meant to be read.

Coraline and I collaborated on this one.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Day 26: Be without sin like t-rex

I have never understood why masturbating is considered a sin in so many religions and families. I was raised in the Methodist church, and I was never told that masturbating was a sin. At some point I was taught not to play with my lady bits in public, but I don't remember being told they were off limits if nobody was around to witness the act. Then again, the Methodists can be pretty liberal. There are definitely other churches who are preaching the evils of the wank. Masturbation got its bad reputation from somewhere, even if it wasn't the Methodists.

I was curious so I googled that shit. Not the images. The religious shit. And lo and behold, the Bible doesn't actually forbid masturbation. Oh, there's some stuff about lust and pure thoughts and thy neighbor's wife, but nothing about masturbation. Zero. Even Jesus didn't weigh in on masturbation, which I'm sure was a relief to the Disciples. All those men, and no women. You have to assume there were some hairy palms and near-sightedness among the chosen 12.

So once again we've been lied to. Turns out Hillary Rodham Clinton is not a crook, and it's OK to masturbate if you're a Christian. If you're not a Christian, I don't know why you would worry about it, but people do. And now they don't have to, because there are no rules against it, and everybody does it. And if they don't, they should, because it feels good.

Which is the only reason I can think of for why people started saying it was a sin. Because it feels good. Surely anything that feels good must be a sin. Also, there's that whole rule about not having sex unless you're married, and not having sex outside of marriage, and .... are there other rules? I can't keep track.

Anyway, somebody must have extrapolated a little too far out and thought that having sex with oneself was just as bad as having sex outside of marriage. Which just makes my head hurt. Obviously you can't cheat on your wife or husband with yourself. That's ridiculous.

And this is why people give up on religion. Because it's as ridiculous as is the idea of t-rex masturbating. And because Jesus didn't say not to and the Bible doesn't say not to, but it's still used to shame people. Children. And I know for a fact that Jesus didn't have time for that. He was walking on water (which takes some practice) and overturning tables and turning water into wine, which makes him alright in my book. But he was not peeking into people's bedrooms to see if they were jacking off or rubbing one out. That all came later.

Years ago my son Drake, then 12 years old, took a year-long sex class through our church called About Your Sexuality. It's quite thorough. So thorough it was even featured on a Geraldo Rivera expose. Nothing was left to the imagination in those classes, because we believe that people can't make good choices without all of the information. Radical, I know.

On our way home one Sunday night I asked Drake if he wanted to talk about anything they'd discussed in AYS that night. He said they'd talked about masturbation. I thought, OK, that's an easy one. Not much to say there. I was pretty sure his long excursions to the bathroom meant he'd already discovered that little pleasure.

He said, "We talked about how it's OK in some families and not OK in others. And we should go by our family's rules."

"You already know what your family thinks about it though, right?" I said.

"No, not really," he said. "I don't think we've ever talked about it, so I wasn't sure if it was OK in our family or not."

That was a wake-up call. I just assumed since we never told him not to, he would know it was OK. That it's his penis, and he could do what he wanted with it, within reason. Kind of like if it felt good to rub his big toe. he should to ahead and rub his big toe.

"I'm sorry we never talked about that," I said. "But since we are, I'll tell you it's not only OK, it's normal and healthy. And when you're older, and you start dating, I hope you will use it as a way to take off the pressure of the strong sexual feelings you will have so you can make good decisions about sex. Just don't .... you know, do it in front of people."

"Mom! I knew that!" he said. "But thanks for letting me know it's OK. I really wasn't sure."

"I'm glad we talked about it," I said.

After we got home he disappeared into the bathroom, and we didn't see him again for 4 years. And there's nothing wrong with that!

What were you taught about masturbation? Sin or no sin? Does it make you uncomfortable talking about it? Or were you idly diddling yourself as you read this post and wondering what the big deal is?

While you think about those questions, I'll just be in the other room reading my Bible. Pay no attention to that buzzing sound.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Day 25: If we were sharing a box of wine from Aldi....

It's time once again for the what-the-fuck-should-I-write-about-tonight day night of the month when I invite you to sit down, pour a glass of wine from the box (which keeps the wine fresh for 4 weeks), and listen to me prattle on about some shit, which I haven't even decided to write about yet. I promised myself I wouldn't write about national politics over the Thanksgiving weekend, so you can relax and take refuge from that shit for a few minutes.

The first thing I would do if we were sharing this box of wine, and I weren't simply drinking it all by myself, is apologize for this box of wine, which I bought at Aldi. I don't think it has any alcohol in it, which is probably why it cost $12 and the fucking owl is winking. You would probably want to switch to bourbon, and I wouldn't blame you. Also, my refrigerator is too full to put the box of Chardonnay in, so we have to drink our wine with ice. Don't leave!  I have potato chips and lime tortilla chips. Everything will be OK. We'll just drop a shot of bourbon in the wine, and we'll be good to go.

I was sitting here trying to decide what to write, and I found myself watching this stupid video of an excavator digging a hole. Wow, you would say. How did you know what that thing is called? Easy, I would reply. I googled "what is that heavy machine that digs a hole called?" Cards Against Humanity sent me an email today with a link to the video. Apparently they will continue to dig the hole as long as people continue to send them money. And people do continue to send them money. Here. Watch it. It's live at the time of this writing, and it's been going on for 11 hours.

(Click the link to watch it if you give a shit, because here's what just happened: I had a bunchof other stuff written and somehow the live link I embedded here made my blog software go nuts and refuse to save anything, and then I accidentally hit publish and I lost it all. So now I'm really pissed and tired and I probably need another glass of wine and some potato chips if I'm going to try to rewrite all of this lost cleverness. Please don't let me eat any more pumpkin pie though.)

As for that hole though, they've been digging it for half a day and people are still sending money. Money they could send to Standing Rock or Habitat for Humanity or Planned Parenthood or even to me to fund my trip to DC for the Million Women March in January, because I'll need to be prepared with a gas mask and goggles and probably even a trained German shepherd. But these people are sending money to them for digging a hole. Fuck me, I need a better life plan.

Also, they say it's just a bare spot and digging the hole doesn't hurt anything, but I suspect if they had a voice about a bazillion little organisms and fungi would disagree. Humans are so fucking destructive. Not that I didn't like to dig holes in the dirt when I was a kid, but I didn't have an excavator and nobody gave me money for it. Like the election didn't already prove there are millions of idiots in this country. Moving on.


And now an update on the nice review I wrote 2 weeks ago about Native deodorant. I sent them a link to the review, because, first, it was a positive review and my only criticism was the number of emails they send. I wanted them to know how much I appreciate their product. And second, because I hoped they would comp me a stick in each scent so I could try them all. Not that anybody has ever comped me anything before for writing something on this blog, but it's about fucking time somebody did. 

They didn't. Nobody even responded, except that I stopped getting emails. Yesterday my friend ZC told me she'd ordered some of the seasonal jasmine and cedar, and that she was going to order more in case they stopped carrying it. I told her my tale of woe.

Today, I got a fucking email offering me a free travel-size something with a purchase blah blah blah. Obviously they didn't even read my fucking review. But I still like their deodorant so I'm going to not give a shit, although not enough that I'd send money to some guys who are digging a hole.


As I was sitting here tonight cutting up old magazines and watching Kathleen Madigan on Netflix, wondering what the hell I had to write about that wouldn't bore everybody into a snooze, and considering pouring a glass of wine and "accidentally" spilling it into my computer so I'd have an excuse for not writing a single fucking word tonight .... my daughter-in-law Montana sent me a suggestion for next year's Thanksgiving dinner.

Hey, I don't take this as a criticism of my annual traditional turkey dinner, although it is a bit painful to watch. If I'd ever thought to carve a vagina into the turkey, I would have already done it. Same with the butter and the green bean casserole and even the squash. But I do draw the line at canned cranberry sauce. That shit is vile, and it does not deserve a vagina.

And before any fucking mansplainer starts screaming for equal time for the penis, here's a fucking carrot. Have at it. Not that anybody wants to look at yet another orange dick. I digress.

Here's my suggestion. If your Thanksgiving was dry and over-represented by dicks, why not suggest to your mother-in-law that she too carve vaginas into the food. That way when your obnoxious Republican uncle starts in about the gays and the blacks and the Mexicans and how we all need to get along now that President Trump has destroyed civility, you can say, "Shut the fuck up, Uncle Asshole, and eat a vagina like the rest of us." I guarantee he will be speechless for a least a few minutes. Maybe long enough for you to make your escape.


Looks like our box of wine is gone with nary a buzz to be had. Same with the chips. Party size my ass. If you want a real laugh, watch this video of Kathleen Madigan. This Iowa girl never thought anybody could make Missouri this funny.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Day 24: Giving thanks 2016

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday, even though I'm disgusted by the fabricated story about the Indians and the Pilgrims that casts a pall over it. Coraline came home stuffed with tales of Squanto and the first Thanksgiving. We'll have to keep working on that. She thinks she has to believe everything she's taught in school. She does not get that from my side of the family. Anyway .... I like Thanksgiving because it follows Earth traditions for celebrating the harvest. And there are no gifts. And no religion too. And turkey dinner with leftovers. 

I do hate the Christmas greed has usurped the day, but the most I can do about that is to not participate. And I don't. OK, we ate early because my son Drake had to go sell camping gear from 5:00-midnight today, but I'm not buying any shit at any shitty corporate-owned stores today or tomorrow. And I'll be working at a locally owned store that sells local products tomorrow, so that's my "fuck you" to corporate America and all the greedy fuckers who feed those pigs on turkey day.

And without even planning it, off I went on a rant. I did try to avoid politics today. I do not feel grateful for the political situation in the US right now, and I keep the protesters at Standing Rock in thoughts and heart.

Today I feel grateful for what I have right here at home. My family, always. (Although, honestly, they could have been a little more interesting. Not a Republican at my table today. Not one. We were so genial we were boring. I was tempted to go out and try to find one of those famous Republican uncles to invite over just so we'd have somebody to fight with.) My friends, who often love me in spite of myself. An old van that runs and is paid off. A big old house that keeps us warm and safe. A refrigerator full of food, and a bunch in the freezer too. My CSA was good to me this year. A couple of jobs that allow me to live my principles and get paid a little bit too. An autistic 90-pound poodle who keeps us safe and loves us in his own way. And my city, which offers me endless entertainment in the form of live music, theater, bike paths, funky little stores and markets .... I am blessed to have landed here. Thank you, US Air Force.

And a lot of other stuff. A lot. I need to remember that as this day for gratitude passes and all the other shit is still there on the other side. I need to remember to be grateful for those things that are closest to me, because it's to easy to let my perspective focus on the macroshit that too much Facebook brings into my life. It's important, all of it. So are hugs from a little girl and grabbing 15 minutes with a good book.

I hope you all had a peaceful Thanksgiving. And if not, I hope you threw the gravy boat at your Republican uncle so you have a great story to tell.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Day 22: Coralineisms #11

First, before I turn this blog post over to Coraline, I'd like to thank everyone who read yesterday's post about the note someone put on my van, and especially those who liked it, hearted it, shared it and commented on Facebook and here. Sometimes I wonder if my late-night ramblings are falling into a black hole as I hit publish late late at night. I very much appreciate how many of you read, and even more, how many of you intend to share your own notes with strangers. We are stronger together.

At least once every time I do one of these post-a-day NaBloPoMo marathons I like to turn the blog over to my granddaughter, Coraline. She's only 5, so she can't literally take over and write a blog post, although, she is already putting words to paper and calling it a blog post, practicing for when she can. It won't be long. For now, I will simply transcribe some of our conversations here for your entertainment. Her school schedule has greatly limited our time together, so these Coralineisms are becoming more scarce. Because of that, I'm going to be a little more stingy tonight. As always, you get what you pay for here in Reticuland.

Better than losing it

Me: Will you run upstairs and get the book we’re reading while I finish cleaning up the kitchen, please?
Coraline: I don’t know if I want to.
Me: Why? I thought you wanted us to read it tonight. Did you change your mind?

Coraline: No, I just don’t really know if I want to change my mind or keep my mind.

Yeah, but I'll bet Jocelyn didn't vote for Trump

Coraline: Jocelyn is mean to everybody.
Me: Is she mean to you?
Coraline: Oh, yes. She's mean to everybody. Even me, and I'm her friend.
Me: Have you ever thought about telling her you can't be friends with her if she's going to be mean to you?
Coraline: Oh, no. I don't break up with somebody once I'm friends with somebody. I mean, once I meet somebody .... boom, we're friends and that's it.

Consider me schooled

Coraline: 2 + 2 is 4.
Me: Is it? Are you sure?
Coraline: Yes, it is. And if you don't believe me, I'll write it down for you.

At least she doesn't want to be president

Coraline: I want to be a lightning fairy when I grow up.
Me: OK.
Coraline: Do you have a big magic lightning fairy wand?
Me: No, it doesn’t really work that way.
Coraline: Why? I’m afraid I won’t be able to really be a lightning fairy.

Me: It’s like anything else you really want. You have to work hard to get it.
Coraline: I will, Mamá. I can do it.
Me: I know you can, Lovies. I know you can.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Day 21: Note from a stranger

Something happened to me today. I've kind of been expecting it. Fearing it, in fact. That's a real photo of my 14-year-old van, except for the license plate. You can see it has stickers from both of Obama's elections, Planned Parenthood, and Hillary 2016, which I carried in my van for a couple of weeks before I gathered the courage to stick it on there. I've openly supported HRC from the beginning, even from the last election. But putting that on, and now leaving it on after the election .... it's been hard. I feel like a target. I feel paranoid. And yet I refuse to take it off, my Hillary sticker. She won the election as far as I'm concerned, so I'm leaving the winner on my van.

And yet, I know my van sticks out. Most people didn't put up yard signs, didn't apply bumper stickers like they have in past elections. I'm one of the rare ones. And I know a lot of people have taken theirs off. They don't feel safe. We're all hearing and reading the stories. Today it was a 75-year-old Florida man was pulled from his car and attacked because of his rainbow bumper stickers. The attacker yelled over and over, "You know my new president says we can kill all you faggots now." An isolated incident? Maybe.

My story happened at the Air Force base, which is a place where I definitely feel conspicuous in my van. The majority of military people tend toward the right, some pretty far right. I don't understand it, because we've got this Republican congress that keeps cutting benefits and embroiling us in wars. I could go on, but I'll just say that my van really sticks out in the medical center parking lot on base. As I drove through looking for a parking space this morning, I saw hardly any bumper stickers on any cars there.

And again when I left I noticed how the back of my van stuck out like a woman in Congress. I felt conspicuous getting into it, and I admit that's all on me. Nobody said or did anything to me. I'm just feeling paranoid, and I think with good cause.

It wasn't until I was sitting at a stop light waiting to turn and go to the commissary that I saw the note somebody had slipped under my windshield wiper. A hand-written note on a small piece of white paper. I couldn't read what was on it. There was underlining, and I could just make out the word "nation."

Oh, great. I thought. Somebody's probably giving me shit because of my bumper stickers. I wonder how nasty it's going to be.

I made my turn and as I drove down the short highway, I couldn't stop looking at that note. On the one hand, I was curious. On the other, I kind of wished it would blow away so I wouldn't have to feel the reaction I just knew I was going to have. I've been expecting this, so I couldn't be surprised by whatever was on it. I wanted to see it and I didn't, and yet, I knew I'd be writing about it tonight, no matter what it said.

I finally got to the commissary and found a parking space. I got out, lifted the wiper and pulled out the note. On one side were what looked like printed directions. I cringed as I turned it over. This is what I saw.

"You are not alone. We're still stronger together. #pantsuitnation

My eyes filled with tears. I looked around as if I hadn't just driven a couple of miles away from the medical center parking lot. I read it again. And again, as I stood there in the chilly winter sunshine. And then I tucked it into the pocket of my jeans and walked across the parking lot to the commissary. I felt about a foot taller. I still had tears in my eyes, but I felt a surge of confidence. Of sisterhood. That no matter what happens, I'm not alone. I felt like I could breathe, really breathe, for the first time in almost 2 weeks.

I pulled that note out of my pocket several times as I shopped, and I felt the same swell of pride and connection I'd felt the first time I read it. I couldn't wait to show it to Coraline and suggest we do the same thing if we ever saw another car with a Hillary bumper sticker.

Later, as I was driving home on the freeway I passed a big black dual-cab pickup. I was going quite a bit faster than he was. I passed him on the left and didn't really pay much attention. I had my cruise control set at 10 over, and I was passing a lot of people. After I had passed this guy though, he sped up and pulled alongside me and just stayed there. I needed to get over so I could exit, so I sped up a little to get in front of him. He sped up too. I slowed down to slide in behind him. He slowed down. He was obviously doing it on purpose. I hit the gas, shot ahead of him, and managed to get in front of him. I was going 80 in a 60, but my exit was only 1/4 mile ahead.

He exited behind me, and of course as luck would have it, I had to stop at a red light at the end of the ramp. He pulled up as close to my bumper as he could and glared at me the whole time we sat there. Finally the light turned green, and I turned left. As the pickup pulled up where I'd been, I noticed he rolled down his window and shouted something at the panhandler who was sitting on the curb with his begging box. I expected him to turn behind me, but he went straight and then he was gone and so was I.

I am not crazy. I don't really know what that guy's problem was. Maybe he's just one of those assholes who can't stand to be passed. And maybe he wasn't glaring at me. Maybe he was just angry because his wife had asked him for a divorce that morning because he voted for Trump. I hear that's a thing. 

And you know what? It doesn't matter. Because we are still here and we are still stronger together. Our story may have taken a tragic turn, but we will not lose our momentum. We will not let a man like Donald Trump become our new normal in the White House. And we will force a return to civility in spite of him.

I'm going to suggest this: If you get a chance, leave somebody a note during this week of giving thanks. Leave a stranger a note or leave one for someone you love. Do both. You never know what a difference it can make in someone's life.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Day 20: I just wanted to say .....

An old post from 2013 popped up because some asshole posted a spam comment on it today. In it I had written to a prompt I'd picked up from some other bloggers. "Pick 10 people and write out one thing you wish you could say to them. Do not identify who the people are. Just write them in list form. A number and then what you want to say."

As I looked back at that post, I realized a lot of those things I wished I could say were so far removed from my life now, I can't even remember why I cared. A lot has happened between then and now, so why not write a new list? And then 3 years from now, I can look back on it and wonder about some of them why I'd even bothered to care in the first place.

To be fair, others of those things on that old list are still true today. I'm not going to repeat them, but I will say it's the nicer ones that are still true. I should probably ponder that some day. But not tonight. Tonight ... the list.

1. I'm sorry people keep telling you everything will be OK instead of listening to your real and logical concerns. Everything is not OK. You are afraid for good reasons. All I can do is stand with you. I wish it were enough. We won't give up though.

2. Fuck right off. Own your actions and the consequences.

3. I admire your courage and your grit and your compassionate spirit. I wish I'd known you when you were younger. I'm glad we're friends now.

4. I can't believe you said that to me. It's going to change our relationship, whether you ever realize it or not.

5. I will always be here for you like a rock ... no, like a boulder. You're the one who will leave one day.

6. All the fine ideals and righteous anger in the world is worth nothing if you don't do the hard work that is right in front of you. It's too easy to say you'd stand up for strangers you'll never meet. Protect the people you know.

7. Thank you for listening. I feel less lonely and unlikeable knowing you hear me and you even agree with me much of the time.

8. I can't wait to see where your life takes you next. I know it's hard to see more than a few steps ahead, but you'll end up somewhere interesting, which is truly both a curse and a blessing. I believe in you.

9. Actually ...... just shut the fuck up.

10. You're a bully. Nobody will tell you because the awful fact is that people tend to like bullies. Or they pretend to like them so they won't get bullied themselves. It can go either way. Just know that I'm not afraid of you. I'll be back, and next time I'll be better prepared.

11. Nothing I've written here is about you, so stop trying to figure out which one it is. It's not all about you. And number 11 doesn't count, so even this isn't about you!

How about you? What are 10 things you'd like to say to people. Feel free to post in the comments. I promise I'll read and respond.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Day 19: 2:23 AM

One of those nights when the day has been so long, and the night has been so long, that the blog post simply can't be long. So somebody suggests posting the best thing written on a bar napkin that night, and it's an idea that seems as good as any other. 

I think maybe you had to be there. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Day 18: Shootin' up in my kitchen

I gave myself a shot for the first time tonight. My daughter-in-law Montana is a paramedic, and she showed me how to do it last week and then oversaw me this week. Next week, I'm confident I can fill a syringe and shoot myself up in my thigh muscle all by myself. It wasn't really that bad. In fact, it didn't even hurt, which is good since I'll be doing it again. No, I haven't joined the heroin epidemic. And I usually don't write about health issues, because who gives a fuck? We've all got our own shit, AIR? I'm going to share this one though, because you might have symptoms too and not know what the problem is.

It all started when my second left toe went numb. I consulted my doctor, Dr. Google. Probably a pinched nerve, he advised. Nothing can be done. So I did nothing. And then the toe next to it slowly went numb and the one on the other side .... and then on my right foot, a little less .... and then -- oh, fuck -- my fingertips, especially my right thumb and forefinger. 

Well, shit. This time Dr. Google gave me possibilities that I didn't like to contemplate. Possibilities that required going to the doctor. Best case, it was a B-12 deficiency. Worst case, I don't remember now. Repressed.

I hate going to the doctor. There are sick people there. Contagious people. And I don't even like my doctor for reasons I won't go into, because joy of all joys when I called to make an appointment, I found out she was gone, and I hadn't been assigned another doctor because it had been well over a year since I'd been to that clinic.

The appointment clerk at the base hospital asked me why I needed the appointment. I had decided I might as well get everything done at once, so I told her about my numb fingers and toes. "OK," she said. "So tingling and numbness in your extremities."

"No," I said. "No tingling. Just numbness."

"I can't make that appointment for you. You'll have to go to the emergency room."

"No way," I said. "I've had this for about 3 weeks. It's not an emergency."

"They don't want to see numb fingers and toes in the clinic. You'll have to go to the ER."

"But I have other things I want to see the doctor about besides just this." We go around a few times. If I'd really needed the emergency room, I'd probably have died while I was arguing with her. I refused to give in.

Heavy sigh. "Fine. I'm going to transfer you to someone else. Hold on."

Someone from the clinic came on the line. We had the same conversation, but this one gave in and said she'd make the appointment. 

"OK," she said. "Is that all? Just the numbness?"

"No, I have a rash on my eyelids that's been there since May. And I want a referral to dermatology for a skin cancer screening. And my ears have been ringing  more than ..."

She interrupted. "Ma'am, you can only see the doctor for one thing at a time. They don't want you to bring up several things at one appointment. You'll need to make an appointment for each of those things."

"So, I need to make an appointment for each symptom when they might come from the same cause?" I hate stupid. This is why I don't go to the doctor. I hadn't even told her about the fatigue, foggy brain, and joint pain, not that I had intended to. I've been complaining about those symptoms for almost 3 years. Nobody wants to hear that shit.

"They just don't want you to bring up more than one problem during your appointment," she said.

"OK, just make the appointment, and I'll handle it from there," I said.

"I can do that, but if you try to bring up all of these things, please don't throw me under the bus and tell the doctor I said it was OK," she said.

"I won't throw you under the bus. Who's the appointment with?"

"Dr. Bevofiutonero."

"Again, please."

"Dr. Bevineoghsoypehhfouh."

"Will you spell that please?"


"Beverage? My doctor's name is Dr. Beverage? Like a drink?"

"I never noticed that before, but yes, her name is Dr. Beverage."

Now I felt a little better about going to the doctor. At least my doctor had a cool name. A name that could be literary. I started feeling better about the upcoming appointment.

A few days later, I tell Dr. Beverage about my fingers and toes. She checks my reflexes and strength. I'm good at both. She tells me she's going to run some blood tests and check my B-12, magnesium, electrolytes, and a bunch of other similar stuff. And that she'll call me. Anything else?

I decide not to tell her about the other symptoms, because I really want that referral to dermatology. So I tell her about the rash and that I want a skin cancer screening. She types on her computer and tells me where to go to make that appointment and gives me some cream to use on my eyelids until I can get in to the dermatologist. She doesn't seem mad at all, so I don't get a chance to throw anybody under the bus. (The cream made the rash a million times worse, so she didn't bowl a 300 on that.)

A few days later, her nurse calls and says I have vitamins B-12 and D deficiencies. She says I'll have to have B-12 shots for a few months and blah blah blah. You don't care about that, nor about the 2 hours I waited at the pharmacy the next day because Dr. Beverage didn't prescribe syringes with my little bottles of B-12. I never did get those syringes, but Montana brought me some from the hospital where she works. Shhh.

So, after all that, here's the thing you might want to know. The symptoms of B-12 deficiency are many and varied. For me it took neuropathy in my fingers and toes to finally make someone check for it. I've been complaining to my GYN's for almost 3 years about my foggy brain (I tell my kids I've got the dementia. They laugh, but I'm not kidding), joint pain, and fatigue. They've messed with my hormone dosage, added testosterone, even put me on thyroid hormone for several months, and none if it had an effect at all on those symptoms. The ringing in my ears started about the same time as the numbness. I always have a degree of tinnitus, but this is much worse. Like after a loud concert, all the time. Turns out that too can be a symptom of B-12 deficiency.

As for the vitamin D deficiency, some of my symptoms, like fatigue and fogginess, can also be attributed to that. But so can ..... wait for it! Weight gain! YES! OK, I'm not putting too much hope into vitamin D to help me lose weight. Probably losing some chocolate and wine consumption would help more, but a girl can hope.

Anyway, this is what led to Montana shooting me up with some evil-looking red liquid in my kitchen last week, and to me doing it to myself tonight, and to my writing this post that sounds like your 83-year-old great-aunt. If you've been experiencing any of these symptoms, you should know that vitamin B-12 deficiency is pretty common. And it might be worth checking out while you've still got medical insurance, especially if you've just reserved yourself a room in the nursing home.

So far, I don't know which, if any, of my symptoms these shots will alleviate. It takes a while to get the levels up. I'll keep you updated though. If nothing else, I now have a new medical skill for the zombie apocalypse. That's never a bad thing.