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.
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 12, 2014 | 1:23 pm
The “freshness factor” phrase gets tossed around in workplaces .. new employees with enthusiasm and fresh eyes can lead to new ideas and approaches.
I’m using it here in this context: I just moved into an apartment I am very jazzed about. I have energy, inspiration, and momentum. It’s new and fresh and this is a state that will not last forever, so I must take advantage. I want to get this home exactly the way I want it.
As we all know, I am experiencing a different relationship with things and possessions after this house-emptying summer, and this current reacquaintance phase with my just-liberated storage space items.
I have gotten a huge amount done, outside of the standard hard work of packing and moving. I have already created a wall of boxes of things to give away, which two friends have already pillaged. I have two large drawers full of things I’ve set aside to sell on eBay (to fund my dinnerware purchases — that is another blog post entirely). Kitchen is put away, Bedroom is getting adorable and cozy (and yes, it’s where the magic happens); everything (sort of) fits into the closets. One offsite storage space is totally closed, one is pending.
And this could be where I rest on my laurels, get complacent, start to overlook the little areas of disorganization. But no. I’m going deep. I want less stuff. I want to live smaller in lots of ways. So begins my usual overanalysis:
Furniture: All good. I appear to have the right amount and size of things to fit comfortably in my apartment. There is a couch, two lamps and a small table in the storage space which will be dispatched to charity.
The tchotchke issue: I have a beautiful teak hutch with three shelves. I have a 8-cubby Expedit unit, which I will donate one cubby space (12″ x 12″ x 12″) to display tchotchkes. If I can’t find room in those spaces for things (and this includes occasional/nonfunctioning dishware, toys, cute little useless dustcatchers), out they will go. Exception: I am putting the best of my robot collection in a small box intended for cold storage, and there is another small box of family nostalgic items not suitable for display, that is also intended for cold storage. There are still several boxes of crap to go through, and space is already running out in the allotted spaces, so this is going to get brutal.
The paper issue: Returning to me after several decades in my mother’s garage are several boxes marked “LETTERS.” I kept every fucking card and letter I received for many, so many years*. I have many family photos and a Groupon for digitizing. I have a big box of my mother’s address books. And rando office clear-outs shoved into boxes. Some family papers and all of John’s files. Magazines! I just took four boxes of business/old files stuff to be shredded. I have a half-empty large metal filing cabinet. My task is to cull everything so that it can all fit into the filing cabinet. Oof, this will be a fun one.
And the books: Wow, so many heavy boxes marked “BOOKS” jammed in my closets. Shit. I’m donating one more Expedit cubby and a small bookcase to the cause. All others will go out, out, out. Exception: my teenage diaries and family yearbooks/ephemera — I will allow two small boxes of that stuff for cold storage.
Things made of textiles and/or leather: Clothes/shoes are still in garbage bags in my closet! I feel overwhelmed. I’m between weights so everything’s too big or too small and so my motivation to get it hung and arranged is not there. I have no idea why I’m balking at getting rid of a majority of the pile. I’m in that weird girl state of I HATE EVERYTHING I OWN IN MY CLOSET (whether it fits or not). Time to get it boxed up and donated. Bleah. Oh, and extra blankets/linens/pillows/quilts (I know!) need the heave-ho.
TO DO LIST! now with no caps:
GADS WHAT ELSE
January 6, 2014 | 8:31 pm
Sorry, sorry, sorry for what I’m about to type!
My sinuses are all messed up. My entire system is all messed up. Too much enclosed spaces and dander and wind and dust and bad mojo and crappy genes. I was in a car with a friend last night and I casually mentioned that there’s something that grows near 5th and Gonzales that I’m insanely allergic to. Moments later, we both started sneezing — and yup, we were near 5th and Gonzales. I’m miserable; only three weeks ago I had to unceremoniously give up red wine, after one single glass gave me a hideous headache the day after; shades of my mom, who suffered the same fate at a similar age. My sensitivity to seafood has all but cleared up, but now too much dairy makes me puke.
I am a walking histamine.
I’ve been shooting warm saline once daily into my nasal cavities using a squeeze bottle specially created for the purpose. It works quite well to calm things down but I made a rookie mistake last night. After one performs the irrigation, one must blow one’s nose gently until the water is cleared. Gently! Too hard and something goes haywire with the Eustachian tube (maybe?) and painful pressure freakout can happen deep in the ear. And that’s what happened last night. So this morning (after my squeeze bottle ministrations) I blew extra gently. So then this happened: while taking a break during my workday to touch my toes, water suddenly poured from my nostrils all over the kitchen floor. So gross. I’m so gross.
And that’s it. I’m super happy and my apartment’s shaping up and things are good but it’s just my FACE, my FACE feels all BAD!
PS. Perhaps all this irrigating and blowing has shaken my sanity loose, but I RAN to my computer a few minutes ago because I had to see an image of an octopus playing drums right that second.
And, the end!
December 31, 2013 | 3:30 pm
I’m sitting in my longtime friend Lisa’s beautiful new home in San Francisco, trying to rest up and dry out (sinus wise) before we head out to see the Melvins and Redd Kross tonight at the Great American Music Hall. What year is this, now?
Like me, Lisa has a lot of positive changes happening after some not-so-positive ones. I think we’re both looking forward to the new year and more good things happening. I like that we’re together to usher in 2014 — and tomorrow we gather with other friends to start the Year of 50th Birthday Mania, starting with Moya.
This has been an outstanding trip! Notable moments amongst many:
Stopover in Phoenix on my way to Boston, just to add an extra layer of memory and introspection into things.
A half hour in my nephew’s home-made sensory deprivation tank in the basement in Cambridge. Epsom Salts made skin sting; occasional drops from ceiling would startle; tried not to think that I was in a big coffin in the basement. However! It was funner than I thought; it’s remarkable to have skin, water and air the exact same temperature; so floaty! I wriggled out, thinking “now I’m ready to try for real.”
Family-created Nativity scene, featuring Lady in the Diabetes Medication Print Ad as the baby J.
Had a brief lunch with old friend Margaret in Peekskill. Delightful to see her, and delightful to overhear a conversation between three young men on the train back, who were en route to a concert in Manhattan. Their manner, dress, and conversation was so very out of time — it could have been 19712, 1978, 1989, 1995, now. I imagined that they were train-riding ghosts, ever riding the Express to fun, adventure and rock n roll.
Got to see Twelfth Night on Broadway. So, so good. I don’t often alight in NY long enough to schedule in a play, and boy, am I glad Tamar and Rich gifted me this time. Wow.
Not pictured: Four adorable great nephews and one adorable great niece, all outstanding, gorgeous, intelligent and squeezable. Another insane and perfect shopping spree at Fever. A wonderful drive to NY with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew, who I love with all my heart. After-karaoke snacks at Churchill’s in the wee of the night with Chris making me double over with laughter.
Cheesy, but: togetherness, family, friends, love, gratitude. THAT’S what it’s all about.