how not to make a dress

September 13, 2014 | 7:49 pm

how not to make a dress

  1. Impulsively commit a precious weekend day and a large handful of money towards a class, pattern and a large pile of (admittedly awesome) fabric
  2. Make sure to have insomnia the night before class
  3. Bring your lunch to eat later. Neglect to put your name on the takeout box and put box in kitchen
  4. Assume that your size means your size in this pattern and avoid taking actual measurements of your body
  5. Piece and sew the main part of the dress; try it on to find it is too small then feel fat
  6. Let your blood sugar get nice and low before going to the kitchen to find that your unmarked lunch was inadvertently thrown away
  7. Feel hangry tears forming
  8. Grab at the snacks others hastily assemble for you
  9. Rip a lot of seams
  10. Feel time running out; sew a new seam, but sew the wrong pieces together
  11. Run out of time before even starting the sleeves, collar, cuffs, hems
  12. Trudge home with your large and sad pile of scraps

… et voila! How not to make a dress!

[I had fun anyway, weirdly. Just some circumstances as well as limited brain function on my part. And lovely teacher is committed to making sure we'll learn what we need to learn to actually finish this gosh darned garment. Gosh darned ass-accommodating besleeved garment.]

my love’s like the warmth of the sun

September 2, 2014 | 5:10 pm

Here is your soundtrack to this post. Good ol’ Beachies. Hit play then read on.

It’s Labor Day, a grim-sounding day that takes on the grim task of being the unofficial end of summer. And I can feel a long-shadow melancholy, even though A. there’s three more weeks of summer technically; B. (but) the summer ended weeks ago for the majority of kids going to school in the area; and C. it’s hotter and sunnier than ever in this drought-stricken, perpetually sunny socal weirdo weather.

What has occurred since my last post in this spindly, neglected blog? The west coast finally had to give up my nephew Peter so he could return to Massachusetts and to school. It was an outstanding July and August with that man, and our relationship will never be the same, for the absolute better. I’ll miss you, funky spaceman.

Then our little theater had an improv festival (as we do every year) just to exhaust everyone completely before the end of the season. It was good this year, a little dialed back, a little disorganized, a little FUCKING SWELTERINGLY SCORCHINGLY HOT ON STAGE, and a success. I was struggling with a little bit of a health thing that is new and not welcome and rhymes with banic battacks (what the hell!) but managed to rock my time on the stage, have some fun, and pause for a moment to appreciate my hard, marketing-monkey toil which resulted in getting decent numbers of of asses into the seats.

A picture before our Friday show. I’ve been very much enjoying marveling at the specific facial muscles I employed to make my face do this:


Saved that one to the ol’ Pinterest board reserved for things that make my sister and me laugh a lot.

I am partial to this take, as well, because Kyle’s face in the center (hi Kyle!) is extra good.


There are actually some smiling “come to our show” friendly takes, as well, but what’s the fun in that?

We can all agree this has been a good summer for me, yes? I agree!

So, just to bring things down whu-whuuuuu style as is my favorite thing to do, here are some bad things that happened this summer.

  • Screw you, apartment building living #1: cockroaches. I can’t keep things much cleaner but I’ll bet my neighbors don’t! Thanks, everybody else, for keeping the infestation happenin’!
  • Screw you, apartment building living #2: no laundry facilities in the apartment nor building nor immediate area. I sort of have a system now where I can take advantage of super-cheap weekday mornings at “Coin Laundry” while I bring my laptop and work, and get the grocery shopping done at the same time. But going from having garage laundry facilities (and a garage) back to scrounging quarters and dropping chonies is a straight-up life demotion.
  • [Oh no my ardor has not cooled for the actual apartment. I live in the cutest apartment ever!]
  • Screw you, migraines. I thought my 2012 Christmas night plane-and-airport vomit spree brought me as low as I could go, but oh that was just child’s play. Apparently these days my migraine induced nausea comes on so suddenly I do not have time to make, um, arrangements before the onslaught. Don’t worry, I’m seeking help. And Wet-Wipes.
  • Getting back into some kind of dedicated exercise regime in this muggy heat. Or, like, in any weather. Stupid horse. Why can’t I just stay on you?

Oh wait! I also had a fantastic visit from my friend Ellen and she brought me a box of Miette and she spotted what was to become my new plates and coffee cups at Super Thrift, and we did this!


And earlier in the summer my nephew and I caught the glory that is La Gloria Market.


Ok, NOW I’m done.

free form media

August 6, 2014 | 5:51 pm

I had to poke around the ol’ hamblog today, sending links to my epic “health care, we have a problem” series to a person I recently met who is starting a nonprofit related to end-of-life matters and I am SO EXCITED for it to come to fruition. For if there is one takeaway from my experiences as a caregiver, things need to be a lot BETTER and EASIER for the dying. And that is what she hopes to accomplish.

But never mind that, I am writing because I’m all logged in to WordPress and my poor blog is neglected and blinking-cursor-ing at me and well, hi. Here are some things in my head.

This “I’m not feeling myself” refrain of the last few blog posts continues, but I’m working hard on getting reattached to me. In fact, I’ve been seeking out — and receiving — outside support and it’s going really well. This past month could have been so anxious and complicated and hard; I have been in person-to-person contact with many family members in many configurations over the past few weeks, and will continue to be for a few more. This could have just done me in, since family = stress (usually), but instead I’m, well, kind of dealing with it like a grown up and EVEN ENJOYING MYSELF. 

In related news: wow, I sure have been angry for the past dozen or so years!

Yoga is back to kick my non-yogaed ass. This ass thought the “Yoga Over 50″ class would be easy on me, but no, I was just schooled by a bunch of ripped and flexible 70-year-olds. And so it goes, one wobbly half moon pose at a time.

The memorial for my stepdad was lovely. I am proud of the eulogy I wrote, proud that it came together really well, and so grateful for friends and family who showed up to make it awesome. I put together a slide show of utter gems found in the photo box.

John Baily Memorial

Just John and his sister with a goat and a cart, 1929.

I just got back from the eastern Sierras. I was a soft weak sea-level baby, compared to my siblings and nephew, who fal-do-ree and fal-doh-rah’ed circles around me as I gasped in the thin air and demanded lots of hiking breaks. But: heaven! So beautiful! No picture available: us, lying in natural hot springs of graduating heat. One could soak deliciously, while keeping one’s head shaded inside a small cave, letting cool rivulets cascade from the rock above down upon one’s face. When the heat became too much, one could plunge into the crystal clear rushing river and scream like a banshee. This is before both a heard of cows and of sheep decided to join the fun — dozens of livestock crashing down the hillside, mooing and baaing and splashing into the river and chasing us away.

I brought back my nephew P from the Sierras. He is an east coast nephew, and I usually only see him in conjunction with the rest of his family, so this one-on-one time is incredibly special. These weeks are full of excitement — so far, he tried his first jicama, we nearly vomited on the Zipper at the Ventura County Fair, he walked 16 miles in one day, and we talk talk talk talk talk about everything under the sun. He is going with his other cousin to Outside Lands in San Francisco this weekend, and will get to see two additional cousins — all of them are offspring of different siblings, and two of them have never met. This fills my heart in ways I can’t express here — to see all these fine young adults connecting and reconnecting. I know, I just know, my mom is smiling about this, wherever she is.

Life is delicious.

the post i’ve been waiting for

July 11, 2014 | 4:41 pm

true as of 7/11/14

American Express sent me a card 25 years ago. I was unprepared for that kind of power. Shortly thereafter (even though I neglected to pay the AmEx in full on time every month) my bank sent me a Visa card. I was extraextra, horrifically unprepared for that kind of power.

I was very naive about money and finances. Long story short, I had a rich person’s approach towards money, then I had a poor person’s approach towards money — both approaches being distorted and unrealistic. And it took me a long time to figure it out, stabilize the boat, work hard and get a grip. I mean, here’s a blog post from 2006 all about debt and the desire to do something about it.

But well you know. I tried to consolidate my debt onto one interest-free card, then screwed it up, and somehow ended up with two maxed cards with interest rates that sometimes were as high as 30%. Then the economy got challenging. And I was still dum about money. And so the debt persisted, just another stupid American albatross weighing down my psyche.

Then I caught a break. Thanks to reducing my expenses while living with John, I was able to get a few steps ahead. I saved, I consolidated on a REAL interest-free card, and for a while I was a stone’s throw away from free and clear. And then a couch and dental work and new car said hi and I had to delay the final debt-death for a bit. And then I got scared (like one does when one has been poor) to use my savings, to spend money for something smart.

Today, I pushed that magic button* and paid off the last bit and felt the quease one feels at spending real hard-earned money on something invisible and sort of imaginary. And then it felt really, really good.

My first big purchase on my brand new Visa all those years ago was a television. I feel like I have finally paid for that TV. That big, boxy, clunky, outdated TV on which I watched that new Simpsons show.

Whew, finally. Onward and upward with eyes wide open.

*”Magic”, hahaha. No more magical thinking in this mind-arena, friend.

have a great summer see you next fall

June 2, 2014 | 5:01 pm

How many times have you or I written that out in a yearbook — scrawled feverishly while still in motion, looking for that girl or that boy to sign yours. And most likely, s/he signed with the same old silliness. Until, of course, once you arrive at your very best friend’s yearbook, the multiple page novel begins, full of “we’ll be friends 4ever”s. I skimmed through the epic my stepsister wrote in my senior yearbook, and have yet to puzzle my way past the walls of inside jokes that are … well … meaningless now.

Hi diary! How I’ve missed you. I have not yet written about Birthday nor Hawaii nor the recent shooting spree nor puppies nor kittens nor ongoing preoccupations with death and fear.

What was that, now? Oh, never mind me.

I’ve been going deep, lately, trying to feel like myself again, which is not who I’ve been feeling like for a while. This entity in which I’m living looks and acts* like Becky but isn’t completely her.

This is not an identity crisis with a threat level of any kind. In fact, I’m pretty cheerful. I’m just in a certain headspace.

In the meantime, marvel at me employing the word “headspace” and enjoy with me a headlong jump into having a summery summer** by

  • wearing flipflops to EVERYTHING, even work meetings!
  • walking in the ocean (hey! I leave on the coast! so the pacific may not be the pacific of KAUAI THE PERFECT PLACE, I still live a five minute drive from a beach).
  • inviting myself to every barbecue ever
  • enjoying the spectacle of distracted, nuts, nearly vibrating classrooms full of kids waitingwaitingwaiting for school to be out for the summer.

Now cue the Alice Cooper song in your brain.

Thanks, brain. Whoever you are. BFF!!!

* and TASTES :p

** I did not go outside recreationally last summer due to, you know. That house?


How-o-lee Laa Haa-now to me

May 6, 2014 | 12:01 pm

It’s my birthday. I am in Kauai. I highly recommend doing this for your next birthday, and inviting me along.

I’m about to get on a helicopter then later, get on some roast pig at a luau. USA! USA!


Here’s an apple banana and something called a chico.


Here is a view outside our jungle cottage.

Bad coffee so far, excellent swimming, views so perfect they almost make me angry, happy humans everywhere, weird one way bridges, critters everywhere, humidity and salt making my skin and hair oddly happy, and flowers flowers flowers.

Oh so much more later.

the restorative properties of a good night’s sleep

May 1, 2014 | 1:12 pm

I only woke to my sister calling this morning and asking me where she should overnight her present to me because “I might want to use it for the party.”

And to this amazing comment on the last post by Jeana:

Another one of my Beckys (Beckies?) described her birthday (yesterday) as the griefiest day of every year. I’m so impressed by both of you. Your honesty, the ability to process the hard emotions…I learn a lot from you. Sending love and cool thoughts your way, friend!

And two MOST amazing gifts arrived, deserving of their own posts.

How can I go wrong with all this in my corner! I love my friends.

letting go/letting in

April 30, 2014 | 2:13 pm

Always, always a pre-birthday mental maelstrom. Always. Never not. The click of the odometer to a “milestone” birthday makes the evils thoughts spin even faster, deeper.

Fortunately, the very process that trips me up — getting older — is the very thing that helps me get through it. Oh, crazy thoughts, you’ve hassled me before, plenty. So let’s feel these feelings then POOF, let them go.

But this was not where I wanted to be, crazy thoughts whine. I have a self-imposed deadline of being BETTER!

What does that even mean? Why can’t I offer myself the kindness I offer to others? We can all bear witness to the fact that 2013 and part of 2014 was an absolute shitstorm. Of course I’m still recovering! Yet here I am, mourning my lost routines and inability to keep all the plates spinning, even though there are a truly unreasonable number of plates.

And I’m about to see a whole bunch of people I love deeply, people that are good-naturedly cringing as I post pictures of them doing things in their teens and twenties. People that are going to happily don the tiny hats I will bring. People that love me back. So why the weirdness and tears and tearedness?

Because. Just because. I have these false expectations and a whole lot of doubts and a level of anxiety that keeps out the obvious love and support that I receive all day, every day, from people that really, really care.

And, really, even though it sounds trivial, this is pushing along my madness: this shitty, hot, windy, horrible, allergen-filled weather. I stood out in a horrible roaring wind literally all day last weekend, and now we’re just being blasted by this evil dry horror. Can’t sleep, can’t stay awake. I’m sorry about complaining about any other weather type, because THIS, my friend, is the worst.

And I’m trying to get some work done before I leave so I don’t have to work while I’m away, and it’s work that is complicated and labor-intensive and WELL I’M JUST A BIG BABY.

A big birthday baby! I’m going to post again on Friday morning, hopefully with a major attitude adjustment, as I embark on my giant birthday trip and start to feel grateful for things like my HEALTH, my FRIENDS, my PLANS and all the good that’s in my life.

And now my BAD MOOD is derailed, thanks to my friend Dan D, just now, sending me the below. The good thing about me is that even though my shit is complicated, I can snap out of it by any number of bright, shiny objects.


brand new car

April 22, 2014 | 11:45 am

[direct link]

Oh good god. I bought a new car, as in: 7 miles on the odometer when I drove it off the lot. As in: I actually don’t own a car, the financers own the car, but this is what people mean when they say they own a car. As in: no more horrible cars for me throw money into just to function. As in: it feels like I am living in the future!

RIP 1996 Honda Accord. The dealer barely accepted it for trade-in. Hilariously, they discovered that the odometer had been rolled back as many as 100,000 miles and that there were a variety of deeply bad problems that I didn’t know about. These new revelations — along with the general, shuddering/smoking ancient-jalopy behavior — made sliding into my brand new car (brand new car!) that much sweeter.

I did not know how admirably my friends had been holding back on their feelings. Everyone, upon hearing the news of my new car, has visibly relaxed with an “IT’S ABOUT TIME” then launched into their favorite anecdote involving me and one of the total wrecks that I have driven over the past 14 years.

New car

Here is my new car. It is a Kia Soul. My surprisingly-awesome car sales guy very calmly said “you are about to have your mind blown” as he listed off the features and helped me sync my phone with my car and had me talk to my car which talked back and now I can have conversations into my steering wheel and watch TV while backing up up and touch lots of touchscreens just like every other crazy modern person.

I would not have been able to do this without a couple things, for which I feel really lucky. Really lucky. One is the money, duh, money that has come to me from the house sale last summer (you know the one). I hate hate hate car financing but I understand the concept of necessary evil and have means now to not sweat the payments. And of course I wonder how single, lower-to-mid middle class people afford this kind of shit without serious outside help.

The other thing is having a smart car-buddy. My friend Jim knows a lot if not everything about cars and has been with me since the start, test-driving various cars (Honda Fit, sigh, I wish you were cuter), talking with me about my wants and expectations and intentions, greenlighting my choices, and guiding me through the not terrible (but nowhere near wonderful) purchase process. I felt like all the right questions had been asked and answered, and that I understood pretty much what was going on. It’s not like new car-buying is a super shady thing any more (oh but used car-buying still sure is see above), but Jim was able to make sure I was getting the most reasonable possible price at every stage. And ultimately he left me to make my own decisions. Everyone should have a Jim.

I do have to mention I lucked out with the sales guy, too. He was young but very un-Glengarry Glen Ross about selling me the car. The finance guy was cut more from the slimy, shiny-suit salesman category, and I was sick of him in about a second. This is where Jim really shone, at one point saying “OK, let’s cut the pitch, all right?” when the extended warranty negotiations began.

Counting these blessings helps in my ongoing efforts to quell my panic and general anxiety about money, cars, life, and how well everything is going right now. Excuse me, I shall now open my car door with a button and not a soft-edged key that takes 45 seconds of jiggling to make work.

floating through spring

April 15, 2014 | 11:25 am

Blood moon + eclipse

Blood moon lunar eclipse last night. Apt, since there was plenty of blood on my moonface yesterday.

If I had the faculties to pay attention during my many springs in California, I probably would have noticed a pattern of feeling like … this … every year. This sentence is one of those snakes-swallowing-its-own-tail feedback loops that I can’t get out of. Because I feel like this I fail to remember that I feel like this because I feel like this. AND SO ON.

There’s nothing wrong with me except for this hay fever which is making the this feeling. Awful lightheaded sinus throb crazy city. This might contribute to the raw skinless trembly feeling referenced in last post.

Oh, by the way: when I say “there’s nothing wrong with me except” I actually mean “there’s so many things wrong with me I’ve lost count.”

The horrors of dental work continue on. And now, with the facial throbby-ness from all the sessions of peoples’ hands jammed in my mouth PLUS every sinus and adenoid screaming with histamines, I am feeling like every remaining tooth in my head is about to go bad. I’m on high-alert paranoia with every twitch/twinge/throb — oh my god, is it another tooth that will have to be probed while I sob into the faces of everyone just trying to do their job?

(Actually, things have gotten much better on that front. Anxiety decreased by about 35% at appointment #2 and to about 10%  of that at #3. Good thing too, as appointments are stretching out ahead of me like that part of I-10 that’s permanently under construction and makes you want to die just on the approach.)

Oh, by the way: when I say “there’s so many things wrong with me I’ve lost count” I am totally lying. If you remove teeth (haha) and facial glands (ew) from the equation, things are going just fine. TO WIT, TWIT:

  • I’m going to Arizona tomorrow! I’m driving to Phoenix by way of Prescott (I’m delivering artwork to a gallery, I feel fancy saying that) and then attending the Phoenix Improv Festival and seeing friends. Easter time in the desert, one of my favorite things. And I get to test drive my tropical wardrobe, assembled in anticipation of my
  • Birthday trip to Kauai in May! I’ll embark in a hungover state due to the previous night’s
  • Giant birthday party in San Francisco! Ugh, I’m so braggy about everything great I’m doing but
  • I don’t care!

Have I mentioned I’ve entertained more in the past 4 months than I have in the last decade of living here in SoCal? I’ve hosted two game nights (Hi Kyle!!), several dinners and other get togethers, and Polly, the best houseguest period. This is keeping me happy, socialized and sane, no lie. Not to mention, it keeps my home clean.

In conclusion. I am veering between traumatic, invasive events and happy, exciting events; my face hurts; I am having a friend-naissance; I could really use a vacation; my workplace is a very forgiving place; adrenaline is being squirted into my system in bad amounts lately; I must use self-subterfuge to get things done; I’m buying a car next week (!); je regrette tout; blogging may be dead.