leonard maltin, we love you

March 16, 2015 | 4:28 pm

From the game of "Maltin"

Way to go, 1990s Becky, for saving the chits from a rousing/legendary game of Maltin with friends Danny, Alison, and not sure who else.

Maltin is a game similar to Dictionary (or Balderdash, to those of a certain younger age), in which someone picks a title from the ubiquitous Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, a title that no one has heard of. Everyone then makes up a Maltin-esque synopis and review of the movie. The title-picker writes down the real review, as well. The whole group, sans the one in the know, choose what they think is the real review. Hilarity and the awarding of points ensues.

The one pictured is from the mind of Danny P., from a movie titled something like “Journey of the Heart.” This paragraph made it into friend-lore — the phrase “big-eyed baby turtle” is inserted into the occasional conversation to this day.

While in the midst of the most recent purging of possessions, I came across time-capsule/envelope stuffed full of these snarky bits from 1994-ish. I was instantaneously overwhelmed with nostalgia. Danny, Alison and I, already friends for years at that point, were as thick as thieves. They lived in the Mission and I lived on Nob Hill, and most weekend nights I crashed on their couch, too wiped out to make the endless trek northeast to my lonely little apartment. We played games, we overdosed on pop culture of all kinds, we created, we read so much. Music and film were everything. Play was king; I can’t believe* how many photos I earthed up of our pumpkin patch excursions, road trips, parties, camping trips. I found a stack of postcards from Danny that were just so hilariously rude; I’m sure Danny received similar missives from me in equal quantity.

So I sent the Maltin pack to Danny, who is recuperating from an operation, along with a handwritten letter penned on 1990s stationery, with postage made up of 1990s stamps. Did I mention I saved everything? 1990s Becky sure created a lot of work for c. 2015 Becky.

I’m glad Danny got to walk down memory lane, too. I am not sad that the 1990s (and 80s and beyooond) are so long ago. Instead I’m proud that I have maintained so many friendships with so many good people; that is not easy to do.

Alison and Danny

Yeah, I’m talkin to you two.

*yes I can

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.

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.

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?


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.

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.