feeling that sweet spot of youth

January 23, 2015 | 11:18 am

I dreamt last night that one of my brothers — the one 10 years older that me, the one I don’t have a lot of contact with — and I wandered around our old home town. Of course, this home town was an odd amalgam of locations that presented as a small, hilly, old-fashioned village. Our old house was a fabulous mid-century modern ranch house (again based in only dream-reality), which we were free to wander through.

At times, I was an adult, having a realistically awkward conversation with this brother, complete with uncomfortable pauses and a lot of un-shared memories — since I am so much younger than my siblings, I was too young to remember anything formative that went on in their youths. In real life, when my brother and I do make a rare connection in person, it is as cordial and bloodless and vaguely pleasant as our dream encounter.

But at other times in this dream, I was a kid, and my brother was the young adult as I knew him then — open and adventurous and full of ideas, delighting in the energy a curious and precocious kid can provide.

And I found myself really feeling like a child again — not in any silly or simplistic way, but in a quiet space of pure absorption. A place a kid can get to when a loving adult gives them their attention and time and ear. I felt completely open to new ideas, free to state my own, and was aware of how important this was. This wasn’t just a mindless afternoon — I was growing and learning real-time from this encounter.

I felt like I got to time travel in the best way. I am grateful to all the kids whom I encounter through my work, and my great-niece and nephew who I spent time with this holiday. They have allowed me to feel, however briefly, what’s it’s like to be them, and it will make me a better adult.


pretty pictures

December 18, 2014 | 2:22 pm

I couldn’t face my stupid and boring and businessy post I just posted, below, so I wrote another better one and have posted that, too. Here you go!

Have I mentioned I’m in more of a Christmas spirit than since I don’t know when? That I hauled a full-size, Silver-Tipped Birch up my stairs? That I’ve been listening to Christmas music voluntarily? Who am I?

Someone that is feeling somewhat carefree and is trying to redefine the concept of holiday, family, and happiness for herself, that’s who. And maybe it took her nearly 12 years to work through some of the deep, intense grief and sadness that this time of year brings, since, you know — mom.

Here are some proof in pictures. Maybe I’ll see you before I head out for my yearly reconnection with really frosty weather. If not, have a nice, nice time.


One of the many odd creatures that my mom liked to have around her, especially at Christmas. This one might be my favorite! Who is this holly-covered little beast with a party hat and no features? I don’t know but I love him.


The Christmas tree lot was staffed by burly, manly, bearded, lumberjacky dudes from Oregon. Happy merriment to ME!


Angel with the giant hands/Upon my Christmas tree you lands. Surprisingly not from mom but from a weird and wonderful ornament exchange party, which I’m happy to say is resuming after a hiatus in 2013. A hint to what I’m bringing, below.


I made these ornaments! They are not wooden throwing stars, you snarky internet friends. I designed, laser cut, sanded, stained, assembled and glued them, all without losing a finger or mind!

I made this!

Here’s a poor picture of a completed one in action. Lots of laser wood projects going on around here!


I had a great Thanksgiving in Palm Springs. Here’s Molly in Joshua Tree.


What a trip! I get to write the coda of my dishware saga, thanks to seeing and purchasing what was juuuuuust under these decanters.


One more picture from Palm Springs, summing it all up: A one man band playing bluesy Christmas originals and singing into a red megaphone at a Tiki Bar.

Happy sigh.

big fat sigh of relief

December 18, 2014 | 1:51 pm

I have tried to keep on top of things, obligations, chores. So far, it has (sort of!) worked. A 4-year bootcamp of taking care of another adult yet helpless human has really changed things for me. (for the most part!)

Oh, except. Except. Yeah, except a few things, most notably a massive procrastination effort that almost screwed me, big time. It’s complicated, as anything to do with HEALTH CARE PREMIUMS is!

Really? I’m going to be a dull gasbag who is about to drone on about health care premiums? During the holiday season? When I post, like once every other month?

OK. Let’s just say:

  • My health care provider (HCP) did not adjust well to the health care coverage reform in 2013 in pretty much every way.
  • I delayed getting on the phone with my HCP to get everything fixed. Because I couldn’t face the torture.
  • I was getting deeper into hot water every month that I delayed getting everything straightened out, including the possibility of not getting reimbursed many many dollars.

I finally broke down and confessed to my boss that I had put off all of this crap, time was almost out, I was going to owe a whole lot of money, I’m a terrible person, etc. She paused and then confessed pretty much the exact same story to me.

So, hand in hand, we faced our worst fears, which were not that bad, ultimately (which is an outcome that often happens). With a whole lot of elbow grease, we got everything back into motion, with pretty much zero repercussions. Hooray!

Not only that, but she came over the other day and started poking around my apartment and opened a closet (I should mention here that we’ve been good friends far longer than we’ve worked together). I shrieked, because it happened to be my closet of shame where a lot of unfiled papers have been living (procrastination project #2). She actually SNORTED DERISIVELY, because it was such a small mess compared to her mess at home, generated by a home office and six children.

So, not only do I feel better, since my shames turned out not to be very shameful things in the big picture, but ALSO MY GOD the feeling of relief flooding my system!!!! So good. So good! I have missed that feeling of finally getting to something, and finishing it successfully against all the self-imposed odds, after all that heartache.

Not enough to make it a habit (again!), though.

And, with one last backward horrified look at the grammar of that last sentence, I move on.


the give you give

December 2, 2014 | 1:29 pm

[Expanded from my Facebook Post from Tuesday, December 2 – also known suddenly by the internet as Giving Tuesday]

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about giving and about being of service and how, within a couple generations, a lot of people (including myself) have ceased to weave charity into the fabric of their existence. A lot of people my parents’ age sure seemed to have it down. At the end of the year, my parents would sit at their desks with their checkbooks out, and methodically give to all the charities that sent them letters. Not only that, but volunteering in a very community minded way was a given, not an option.

I certainly know people who are younger than my parents who too have it down and also sit down at the end of the year with their laptops and credit cards. Who volunteer their time with no other intention but to do what they can. Not to post a video on Facebook, not to show the world their selflessness, they JUST DO.

Personally, it took me a long time to figure it out and to fit it into my life — going from a lower middle class to a middle middle class citizen helped a lot; realizing that giving back (both by providing service and financially) improves my life on so many levels; and focusing on a few specific causes helped me not feel overwhelmed.

My humility falls somewhere between my non-Facebooking selfless friends, and the icebucket-dumping knuckleheads that infested my timeline last summer. I try to use social networking to entice and excite people into giving, themselves. And I am not shy about directing people to the causes I personally believe in. See below!

Take a leap and try directing your hard-earned simoleans to a worthy cause. Volunteer your precious time! Raise some awareness! It stings a little, but you are helping in a very real sense.

If you can’t think of causes to help, well, here you go!

  • Straight Up – a youth development organization serving 12-25 year olds in my county, raising awareness and creating change around such issues as alcohol, drugs and tobacco use. Someone you know and love is Employee #2 for this org! We had to take a budget cut hit last year and we are finding ourselves pay for way too many work items out of our own pockets.
  • Ventura Improv Company – a 25-year-old non-profit theatre in Ventura, CA, offering improv shows and classes for all ages. Someone you know and love has been volunteering for and performing with this group since 1996! We struggle, how we do struggle. If you know small theatres, our being around for a quarter century is a miracle, but we need a lot more to keep on for another 25 years.
  • WFMU – the very best radio station in the entire universe. Someone you know and love has been listening for years, married two of the DJs to each other, made out with another DJ in the past, and would FALL APART if this non-profit free-form station goes under.

oh um hi

November 24, 2014 | 12:02 am

Being a blogger (not a monetized blogger or gun for hire blogger) is being adrift on a silent sea.

But hey hello, I am very busy (and not in the superficial, half-lying, “oh gosh I’m just so active and popular”). It is hard to make time for this because I am not sure what it is I am making time for. If you are reading this, thank you for reading this!

To continue. Here are some things.

This year’s theme has “I’m not myself,” has it not? I think I’ve mentioned it plenty. I have been grappling with my new life, my new life with many fewer obligations and the fact that the only person that depended on me doesn’t anymore (his being dead and all). After the heartbreak of last year, the backbreaking will execution, and the planning/organizing of the family thing this summer, suddenly everything screeched to a halt. Family left, obligations settled, stepdad fully interred in the ground.

I’m starting to realize that I was seeking my old self, my pre-taking-care-of-John self, and that person is no longer. It’s new self and new chapter that I am struggling to find and define.

Over the fall, I crashed deeper into depression, it going from a little sullen (but relatively quiet) demon on my shoulder to a lead weightedness that made it hard to swim with. It’s getting better but I’ve had a few hard weeks. I thought I was hiding it well but there was an undeniable sadness about me that only a few people accurately identified as depression (and not stick-in-the-mud-ness, or boring-tiredness).

So I’ve made an attempt to be busier with new obligations, to be of service in various ways, to rededicate myself to my support group, and to start caring for myself again. Hard road! Hard hard road! So hard!

A lot of remarkable things have happened in a short amount of time, things that I planned on mentioning in breezy detail in this post (but no, this post had a downer mind of its own). One good thing that happened is that I’m not feeling blank horror at the holidays that we are hurtling toward, for the first time in … when? Maybe it’s because I don’t have enough time to think about all the shit I should be doing, if that makes sense, or maybe my support group work is working (despite my best efforts!), or maybe I’ve learned to make do with it all. I dunno.

Another good thing is that I still have this quiet, happy, clean home.

And another thing is that I feel valued for my knowledge and my talents.

And there are more things. But I’ll leave you to ponder this sort of sad, sort of hopeful, sort of grateful post. Happy Thanksgiving if I don’t check in before.

big blue marble

October 20, 2014 | 11:05 am

[direct link]

About 20 years ago, I went to a self-actualizing weekend workshop. A lot of crying and writing and woo and meditating and “I” statements. It was okay. I did have a revelation that I was as angry at my mother as I was at my dad, but that is so totally a different subject. At any rate, it was a very typical 1990’s Marin County happening.

At one point, we were encouraged to go up to a microphone and talk about our biggest issue (or something like that).

A very earnest, very tie-dyed lady stood up and tearfully said something like “I don’t know how to save Mother Earth!”

And the still-smirky punk nihilistic in my soul rolled her eyes a little bit. Not so much at the notion but more at the delivery. Same mental place from which I ordered “Save the Whales” checks ironically in the 1980s.

I smirked, even though some troubling articles had come out already, about the puzzling and concerning global temperature increase.

I smirked, even though I knew better. And BOY do I know better now.

fucking hell

Human destruction of earth, ladies and gentlemen. All in my little lifetime.

[direct link]

things i sure wish weren’t facts

October 2, 2014 | 10:16 pm

  1. I’m on a first-name basis with my exterminator.
  2. I have loud, nightly reminders that my neighbor across the way has a new girlfriend.
  3. I get nervous if I neglect my Sims (and it’s Sims Freeplay, the horrible second rate game)
  4. I have a Groupon for a toenail fungus laser treatment.
  5. I am a gum lover who has given up gum.
  6. That Fact about That Friend which is super weird and distracting and makes me want to go back in time, just before he revealed said fact, and shush the hell out of him.
  7. I know what it’s like to get Shingles twice!

This post and the last post were designed make you love me despite everything!

all matters repugnant

September 23, 2014 | 3:47 pm

I like the word repugnant and I think I know what it means. I’m a little unclear on how it’s pronounced, and probably won’t ever use the word in spoken conversation. I think probably that’s because when one expresses disgust, one doesn’t need fancy words — just the ability to arrange one’s facial muscles in an appropriate horrified grimace.

[note: I originally wrote the paragraph above about the word puerile, which I thought mean “disgusting” but it totally does not! I’M LEARNING THINGS]

Let’s make a list of grossness. I’m sorry or you’re welcome, depending on if you like talking about what I like talking about. Consider this my therapy. Hang onto your hat.

  1. Mary Roach mentions in her book Gulp that a group of researchers agreed that old saliva was the grossest smell possible. I would find and reprint the actual passage from this very, very entertaining book, but that would involve reloading the book onto my iPad, and just typing that made me fall asleep, so no.
  2. The Haycox family group agreed that this summer’s Sierras Garbage Incident qualified as the grossest smell possible. As we were all cleaning up in the cabin, a forgotten garbage bag was pulled out of a neglected can in the back of the hallway. Little did we know it contained fish guts, mostly liquified from time and heat. Too bad an unlucky family member tore the bag as he ran from the house to the front yard, and sprayed this vile cologne everywhere, just everywhere. I laugh about it now, but even the longest-fused kin were furious and in a most impotent fashion, since the fish-gutting culprits were long gone.
  3. Last night I happened to arrive at my supermarket just as a big tank truck lifted a lid set into the surface of the parking lot and started vacuuming up whatever was in there into the truck. By the time I got my purchases and went outside, the smell (which I verify as sewage) was incomprehensible. I actually dry-heaved in my car as I sped away.
  4. Speaking of cars! I touched upon it briefly in this blog post, but my new, improved migraine behavior is to ramp from nausea to vomiting in a distressingly short amount of time. This happened over the summer while driving. I pulled into a parking spot at my apartment building about 1.5 seconds too late to unbuckle and exit before hurling. My poor car! (and steering wheel and clothes and door and me) Best $100 I spent ever was to get my car detailed, because I’ll tell you, no amount of civilian sweat and tears can un-throwup a car. But the professionals can! And those dudes have seen it all. “There was a vomiting incident…” I timidly peeped as I handed over the keys. The guy barely blinked and just asked me to point out the trajectory and coverage areas. My car came back to me totally odor-free and even more beautiful than the day I drove it off the lot, and that went a long way towards feeling less awful and weird about the whole event. You may ask: did anyone witness this? To this I say maybe, as the vomiting kept on keeping on after I had staggered out of the car — but then the space was magically whistle-clean the next day and not done by me. Thanks to whomever did the anonymous-neighbor equivalent of holding my hair.

Wow, I’m getting the whirls! I’m going to stop here and not even going into my fascination with infectious diseases.

I do have to say that my two public vomiting experiences as an adult have reduced the general anxiety that most people have around the idea of vomiting in public, but increased my anxiety about the (likely) likelihood of it happening again. But this is something I can prepare for — with planned exit routes, stashed plastic bags, and an earnest search for migraine medication that works for me.

Yep, a post about vomit, dedicated to Polly.

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.