March 6, 2014 | 12:49 pm
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!
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.