April 22, 2014 | 11:45 am
April 22, 2014 | 11:45 am
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.
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.
April 15, 2014 | 11:25 am
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:
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.
March 31, 2014 | 12:41 pm
I feel skinless and trembly and just-molted in an exciting/uncomfortable way. I think I can safely say that I often feel this way at the start of spring. Not that we have had ANY differentiation between winter, spring, summer or fall in this weirdo, always-72° non-weather zone, but the shift of the light, the smell of flowers, the massive amounts of pollen, etc. lead me to be in a headspace that is unique. With lots of complicated tears.
Here are some things tied together by nothing but that they have all happened to me/near me recently, prompted by pictures on my iPhone.
Here is a picture of a fish. I am a little nervous around fish, although as the years have gone by I have downgraded my fear from “phobia” to “slight unease”.
One phobia that has stayed 100% intact is fear of dentists. I really can’t discuss the whole … thing … in any rational way. However, recently, some events conspired that led me to face that fear, mouth on. It was brutal for everyone. I was that insane patient, the one that forces the dentist and assistant to regret their career choices. I burn in shame at the whole debacle. However! I can safely say I endured pretty much the “as bad as it’s ever gonna get” scenario and am alive, plan to go back for further treatment, and feel deeply relieved that I’m reporting from the other side.
I know I need to back away from Pinterest and home design blogs when I pass an innocent plant at a conference center and think “pffft, I am so over Fiddle Leaf Fig trees”. I’m sorry, ficus lyrata. You are an unironically beautiful, living thing. It’s we humanoid, slave-to-trends morons that are withering and failing to thrive.
In other plant news: yowza, daffodil season! Sizzles the eyes and gives me that aforementioned trembly, verdant, skinless feeling. I love how audacious they are — they’re just everywhere, Von’s almost has to give them away. I always bring an offering to my accountant at tax time and this time, BAM here’s a big bunch of YELLOW. I feel that they contributed to a mildly positive outcome to my my tax appointment — I shot for zero and got pretty much zero. huzzah, emphasis on the zzzzzz.
New couch, holy guac. It looks shorter here than it is, and in reality it is the most beautiful couch perhaps ever. I camped out in the living room on the fold out bed recently, which is comfortable and delightful but OOF I get still that zinging anxiousness, mostly over the cost, the money! The manufacturer himself delivered it, gave me the touching story of how he got into business (his foster father pulled him off the streets, gave him a home and a vocation and ultimately a successful business), I gave delivery cost and hugs and what is not for me to love?
I get nervous around love. That is a post for another lifetime. I’m babbling. This is a side effect of the springy sproingy feeling. Bear with me here.
More daffedge. My friend Linda sent me this pic yesterday with the words: “Wanted to show that your mom’s vase is in full bloom.” I tried not to dump stuff on loved ones when I was purging possessions in the old house, but did think that Linda and this vase was a potential good fit. And so it is. My heart is warm. Uh oh, some complicated tears are threatening.
Well, this has obviously turned into a plant post. SPRING!
More from the plant/mom/grief/renewal department: This bromeliad had been living in only water in a yogurt container at the old house for at least 11 years. I’m sure it was meant to be a temporary situation, my mom was always starting and planting seeds and sprouts and shoots. With tremendous trepidation, I used my two black thumbs to plant the plant in soil and pray that I didn’t have to have yet another guilt-laden tiny funeral for yet another non-thriver. And well, looka here — little new shoots shooting up. Renewal, regeneration, life, death, etc!
Some non-plant, non-photo-oriented news: I watched three movies yesterday, perhaps perfectly showing the current contours of my brain:
Lastly, from an email I JUST received:
March 6, 2014 | 12:49 pm
This free wifi in my apartment is less than … well, good .. and I lost a bunch of revisions to a blog post that got so bogged down and boring that I had to nap just writing it. Maybe it’s a sign that the post shall be eternally in Draft mode. In essence:
So, yeah, that was the blog post. I’m just going to run down the state of the Becky union now, and I almost guarantee this won’t be scintillating writing either, since I’m going to start with OATMEAL!
I have been eating this, or a close variation of this, almost every day since the start of the year. I realized there was nothing stopping me from making the long-cooked steel cut oats in the morning. What, it was going to interfere with my hectic, work-from-home-in-my-underwear mornings? Half a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt, a banana. I’ve long said that regular AM oatmeal consumption is my contract with myself — I may fuck up in a variety of ways, nutrition-wise, over the day, but I can promise myself something non-confrontational at the start, to appease my dainty system. Results? I go through a lot of yogurts, bananas and oatmeal! And maybe my overall GI health is steadier. I dunno.
I have been making my bed every day. Results? My bed is made every day. It does seem to keep me from from creeping back under the covers during times I should be upright. Another thing that helps with that is that my laptop does not come to bed with me, only the iPad. I’ll cover that more another time.. trying to level out recreational screen time and work screen time and device addiction, etc.
As I had hoped, I am becoming comfortable with the thought of my birthday in May. The photo above is from some time around the start of the millennium. I am wearing a crown but there are no guarantees that it was my birthday. That’s Brian, Jackie and Jake from whom I’m stealing the spotlight. Chances are that’s the photobooth at Elbo Room in SF, and I immediately blush at all the shenanigans that took place there. I guess memories of shenanigans of yore are the things that keep an old lady warm in her dotage.
In May, I shall be turning 50. So there you go. I am smart enough to schedule a trip, so that on the actual birthdate I will have ready access to sun, sea, a large hat, a cocktail and Molly. Just in case I have a Norma Desmond-style meltdown:
So yeah. Time passes.
My stepdad’s singular, supremely organized packrat lifestyle as evidenced on this box label. I miss him.
February 19, 2014 | 3:34 pm
I had to get out of town. I do not lie when I say dealing with a will is brain-crackingly hard and the opposite of fun. Ugh. UGH.
So YAY my friend and former roommate L and I went to the Bay Area — she to visit a buddy in Alameda, me to lie motionless on Molly’s couch and play Candy Crush, with periodic bursts of buying expensive foods and drinks and putting them in my mouth. Next time I will be more social and seek out my buddies, but this time the most cerebral thinking I did was laughing at the pants in Her.
Happily, L has a large car and a wonderful willingness to be a helping and lovely person, and that STUPID TABLE, that family heirloom I was paying 80 bucks/mo to keep in storage, the one that didn’t fit into the car I especially rented, THAT STUPID TABLE… well, that table got shuttled to SF and to my brother and voila, I never have to think about that stupid table ever again in my life!
Bonus: I had a* pleasant visit with my brother and his family, and had quality time with my 25-year-old nephew who I have not seen in 11 years. I will tell you that I was dazzled — he is kind, smart, handsome, interesting, ambitious, funny. Hoo boy. Well done and thumbs up to my sib — for picking a really good woman to have kids with.
[*the word surprisingly was typed here, them removed. then typed again and removed again.]
[I know I'm biased but honestly, every one of my nieces and nephews, every dang 9 of them, are spectacular. all of my sibs knew to marry up]
After the family visit in the Castro, I walked towards Molly in the Mission, who was walking toward me, both of us hoping for a mid-point brunch place stopping point. While on Valencia I stopped into Therapy, with which I have a long history (haha insert therapy joke here).. Wayne had his first Therapy shop downstairs from where I lived on 14th St. in the late 80s and twothousand-teens Wayne is still rocking it bigshot style with expanded locations success all over.
Then in there I saw really great couches. Then I saw the great prices, then I saw you could custom order (frantically texting my levelheaded and practical Molly to PLEASE MEET ME AT THERAPY UH OH) and then I saw that you could order sleepers and then they told me the factory’s in LA so I could avoid delivery charges and pick it up myself and suddenly oh yes falling in love four easy monthly payments and swatches and leg stain colors and credit card and handshakes and
NOW I HAVE A COUCH ON ORDER. I don’t do well with large ticket purchases and periodically panic but then I think of the beautiful teal then I freak out but then I remember this couch got Molly-approved and I feel a little less anxious every time.
What am I going to do with all that time that I used to use up being angry at Craigslist? And that was a lot of time — witness my angry-at-ugly-craigslist-couches rant all the way from 2007. Yup. I have been putting off buying a couch, something I need and want, for over 7 years. Oh, 11 years. 12, actually.
Now, of course, several decent couches appeared on Craigslist this week.. but not as decently fantastic as mine, specifically assembled and customized for my very own ass. And, like that stupid family table, I never have to think about Craigslist couches again, though I totally will, if just to gloat, gloat, gloat!
I am grateful for this purchase happening, too, because it made me move forward on getting some money stuff done that I was putting off — that’s for another post but let’s just say some big checks were written and some debt was disappeared — to make way for this couchy debt, but couchy debt is much less (c)ouchy that that other debt and well, my writing quality is degrading because I haven’t eaten protein for a while because I’m not THAT much of a grownup to remember to eat lunch in a timely manner so that my friend is that.
February 14, 2014 | 6:38 pm
I was trying to sleuth out some info about my stepdad which entailed digging into some poorly labeled (by me) boxes in my closet. I came across a box marked “letters”, and instead of them being John’s and providing information about a key relative’s whereabouts, the letters were mine.
And of course that killed my industrious night, as the letters were from various people to a very young me and were very entertaining.
Little did I know I was going to have to keep sleuthing, because in that box I found these:
Tiny envelopes addressed in my childish handwriting. And inside the envelopes:
But why were they totally addressed but never sent? And why all boys (except maybe for Chris?)
I looked carefully at the names. Rusty was the only standout, there was only one Rusty, the Rusty of the Day School I attended in Phoenix during grades 4-6. Okay, but still: why are these in my keep?
Then I remembered. This is the most likely and most adorable explanation: When I was 9, my mom was preparing to travel from our home in Arizona to my sister Lisa’s family home in Massachusetts in anticipation of the birth of Lisa’s second child, Sarah. I was to stay home with dad, but just before mom’s trip, dad’s father died. Since dad had to travel to California, I went with mom to the east coast.
After a few days of mom and Lisa helping me with fractions and state capitals, and my small nephew making me feel utterly omnipotent and adored, my niece Sarah was born — on February 11.
Hence the never-distributed valentines — I was far and away, getting to hold my tiny sweet little niecey.
Still can’t figure out why all boys, though, except that I was and continue to be boy crazy beyond belief.
Now, here’s something fun! Guess the answers to these riddles. All are absolutely hilarious, at least to the intended audience. Highlight the text under each to reveal the answer.
Answer (highlight this line to reveal): In February, because it’s the shortest month!
Answer (highlight this line to reveal): It has a head on one side and a tail on the other.
Answer (highlight this line to reveal): None.
Answer (highlight this line to reveal): Your comb.
Answer (highlight this line to reveal): It’s all right, but a sidewalk is better.
Answer (highlight this line to reveal): When he’s a-blinkin’!
February 9, 2014 | 2:13 pm
My stepdad John B died this past Tuesday at dawn, February 4. Sudden but not unexpected. I got to spend time with him, After the Fact. I was overwhelmed by gratitude, mostly. I’m go grateful he was so goodhearted, that he adored and took care of my mother, that he was in my life and I in his.
And now the familiar drumbeat of grief begins. I am angry, sad, volatile, indifferent, thin-skinned. I sail through some potential grief landmines (dealing with the idiots from the society who picked him up; picking out an urn) and get destroyed by others (fitting his entire existence into three file boxes; that picture, above).
I feel the relentlessness of time passing. The grief triggers the other, older griefs in a tragic chain reaction. Boom boom boom. Gone gone gone.
I punish others because I’m feeling the way I feel. I feel put upon, but at the same time am grateful for all the stuff that needs to be done. Getting wiser-older and more angry-toddler simultaneously.
At least I know by now that grief is this … thing. A lumpy unpredictable thing that comes and goes on its own selfish agenda. I know it’s not depression or anger, it’s just grief. Thank goodness others know this too, so when I grind to a stop, or when tears spring unbidden, or I get really mad at something really unimportant — they know. They may or may not empathize, but they know. And they deal the best they can.
John asked that his “dear adopted family” and friends have a party, on him, in his memory. Now that I can do. I have my many doubts, but the idea that perhaps there’s a party going on in his realm is a very nice thought. And happy reunions. And joy. And peace, finally.
January 31, 2014 | 3:12 pm
My cousin Nora and I used to make collages together. We shared the same fascination with paper ephemera and would clip the tiniest, weirdest things out of newspapers and magazines to create epic, dada art. We would die laughing while reading the dumbest Ann Landers and Ask Heloise columns, and marvel at the bizarre bazaar at the back of every New Yorker.
So it was with great happiness that I found this calendar that she made for me, back in 1986, floating around in one of the many boxes.
And it was with insane JOY that I realized that 1986 and 2014 occur on the same days, so that I can actually use this calendar this year!
PS. Wow, as I type this I realize this is another generational thing that will separate me from those who are 20 (10?) years younger.
This is on the heels of counseling a friend not to use reference to Dear Abby in a book for young people. Not only wouldn’t they know of her, but they do not use newspapers nor columns nor any single source of information anymore in order to seek advice.
This is not an “I’m old” post. This is very much an “I’m LUCKY!” post! I got to make collages with my cousin!
January 24, 2014 | 8:40 pm
It’s the cast of Hackers! 1995.
I am lucky in my current living situation. I not only do not pay any utilities, but there is free wifi for the building, which so far has been reliable.
After the past few weeks something eventually went clik in my head. I became very aware that I was on a shared network with dozens of strangers. My phone, my computer, my iPad. Blithely typing in my credit card numbers, logging into my bank accounts, pushing a lot of information to the cloud. Not to mention that our router’s name and password is pretty dumbed down. It wouldn’t take a whole lot of teen Hackers (1990s movie style) nor much techno soundtrack to crack the codes.
I’ve been victim to identity theft several times (even pre-internet!) but the cases always seemed to trace to appropriation of my cards or some such where getting new account numbers and changing passwords seemed to plug the leak.
You’d THINK since I’m an early adopter/technologically savvy lady that internet safety would have been a much higher priority than it has been. My friend Rebecca can remember me lecturing her on the importance on backing up data on Bernoulli drives way back in the early 90s. Maybe with a different techno track. Do it, you know you want to click play.
So finally I found myself, after lots of reading with furrowed brow, finally understanding what a virtual private network (VPN) is. Go ahead, wiki it, I’ll wait (read only the first bits, your brain will melt with too much nerdery farther down). I always had a vague notion about VPN being a way workers could access their intranet, but bottom line, it can also serve as a way for ordinary folk to protect their online identity. It’s all about proxy, yo! Someone using a VPN is assured that all the info you’re sending and receiving is encrypted and safe from evil prying eyes, you read me?
Read this, too: VPNs: What They Do, How They Work, and Why You’re Dumb for Not Using One. After reading several shame-inducing articles like that one and making some service comparisons, I found a likely-looking company through this helpful Lifehacker article. Then I gave them 30 bucks for a year of service, installed some stuff and boom, now I am a HELL of a lot more secure online than I was before.
NOW COMES A RANT
I may be WAY off base, but there’s something wrong with this whole picture. Why didn’t I know how easy it was to protect my identity? Possibly partly because I’m not sunk fully into the geek culture and only touch upon the more readable blogs here and there. And maybe partly because I’m a female, maybe?
I read a lot and it’s mostly for entertainment. What reading I do for work tends to be more non-profit and local news stuff and less tech news. Obviously I read a lot of home design and craft blogs — areas that are traditionally (and erroneously) perceived as “female” pursuits. So, if I’m looking at something like Real Simple, and if there is an article about online security, it would be totally non-tech softball advice along the lines of “hide your fingers when you punch in your pin” or “do some research about the online stores you use” or “consider going back to basics” (whatever the eff that means). There’s not a lot of useful stuff like “why https is good” and “hey you, use a VPN” — even though this stuff is not hard to understand, it is NOT. Perceived difficulty is not an excuse to keep people, women, old people, whoever, from knowing this stuff.
I’m sure I’ve commented upon/ranted about the scary width of the technological playing field. I see it all the time; friends with $250/month cell phone bills who don’t understand the basics about using wireless vs. cell network; colleagues who are trying to make do with a donated, decade old laptop; young people who give not one shit about their online persona and the impact it will have in their college-going, job-seeking futures. Not to mention vast swathes of people who do not have the economic ability to consume technology.
I am not calling anybody dumb. It is very easy to be kept in the dark and misled about a vast spectrum of issues in our day and age. Perhaps instead of this issue being about sexism, it’s more about indifference to — and hostility towards — anyone trying to protect or better themselves, to save money, to get more aware.
Am I on the right track here? If so, what the hell do we do about it?
January 21, 2014 | 4:34 pm
We talk about “shape of show” a lot in our improv group .. basically if you got kind of a U-shape going, that’s a good shape of show — start high-energy, engage the audience, get maybe a little lower energy and a bit more cerebral through the middle half (this is an okay place to fail a lot!) Then get on the upswing after the break, rising in engagement and energy until blam, we’re at the peak of our game and the show ends, leaving the audience wanting more. I think that’s close to what we mean when we talk about a good shape of show.
I was going to launch into how my day yesterday took a very satisfying shape, but it involves a lot of stories about my apartment and the organization thereof, and the mention of boxes, Craigslist and emails. And then I died of boredom.
I do, I do, I DO have a life outside of the immediate space in which I live! So, I’ll bore us all with the story I scrubbed at another time.
It’s the ephemeral nature of improv that attracts me, but that also makes it hard to reference solid examples of past shows or scenes, as an almost instant amnesia descends, obscuring details and, well, pretty much everything.
I am rapidly getting less and less able to recall this last Saturday’s show, but I sure remember this. We spent almost all of our warm up time trying to get a picture where David (blur at left) appears to be leaping into our arms. It was so stupid and hilarious and a total waste of time.
Or was it? Warmups are crucial to a show (at least, most people think so). I find if we do anything too esoteric, or something that has too many opportunities to display wit, or something that’s too hard, I really don’t know if there’s much of a point. But when we just are together, cracking up, agreeing with each other, being free and silly — well, that’s a winwinwinwinwinwin situation.
Did we have a good show? Started off strong, really got weird and unsuccessful, then got good right at the end. Right shape!