free form media

August 6, 2014 | 5:51 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Baily Memorial

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

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

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

Life is delicious.

the post i’ve been waiting for

July 11, 2014 | 4:41 pm

true as of 7/11/14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

have a great summer see you next fall

June 2, 2014 | 5:01 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now cue the Alice Cooper song in your brain.

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

* and TASTES :p

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


How-o-lee Laa Haa-now to me

May 6, 2014 | 12:01 pm

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

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


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


Here is a view outside our jungle cottage.

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

Oh so much more later.

the restorative properties of a good night’s sleep

May 1, 2014 | 1:12 pm

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

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

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

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

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

letting go/letting in

April 30, 2014 | 2:13 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


brand new car

April 22, 2014 | 11:45 am

[direct link]

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

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

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

New car

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

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

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

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

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

floating through spring

April 15, 2014 | 11:25 am

Blood moon + eclipse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


i’ve got new shoots

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.

fiddle leaf fig tree

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.

blue couch

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.

daffodils at linda's house

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.

i've got new shoots

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:

  • Harold and Maude (my favorite movie and second only to Terms of Endearment when I need to cry big, complicated tears)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (in the theatre, I liked this so much. I have some criticism but have no articulation right now)
  • Before Sunrise (weird before-bed rental choice. never seen it before, in fact had avoided it. but liked it just fine. perhaps i had an ESP moment as today I got invited to a tribute to Richard Linklater at a film fest next month)

Lastly, from an email I JUST received:



quarterly report, march 2014

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:

  • I got a bunch of crap moved out
  • I had to move a bunch of crap back in (Elderly Relative’s possessions, the last of my storage space clearout)
  • Lots of bellyaching, UNTIL
  • A friend from the Bay Area arranged a visit with me down here soon. And she’s a professional organizer. And since she wants to write off her trip, she wants to give me a free consultation. WHAT? Thanks, universe!

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.

I believe this was Elbo Room at the start of the millennium

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:

norma desmond. i have a lot in common with her.

So yeah. Time passes.


My stepdad’s singular, supremely organized packrat lifestyle as evidenced on this box label. I miss him.