House Sold, South Park, and Gross Out Videos

Yippeekayyaiyay!  The couple who made the offer seem just perfect for this place.  The wrote me a letter with their offer describing their impressions upon moving in, how they could tell how much love has been put into the house, and how excited they are to live here.  I couldn’t ask for a better family for this lovely little place.  It has been my first, real home.  I’ve lived all over.  I’ve had lots of other houses.  But I made this place all mine.  I put real blood, sweat, and tears into remodeling it.  I showed it love and it has blossomed.  Now I pass it to a new family and I will start another phase in my life.

A tear rolled out of my eye after my agent called to tell me of the offer.  I thought suddenly of all the possibilities and changes to come.  I’ve been in a holding pattern for so long now, it’s amazing this is finally happening.  Amazing, exhiliarating, and terrifying.

While I am here, I would like to tell Maestro that I have been having an amazing bit of fun. I give you kudos.  You’ve been brilliant, thank you.

I encourage all who have a dark sense of humor to watch the South Park episode on Britney Spears.  It can be found here.  It’s truly priceless.  I laughed so hard I hurt a muscle in my tummy.  Oh, and another video to watch for sheer entertainment and gross out value can be found here. This video is truly sick and wrong.  It’s not sickeningly nasty like Two Girls and a Cup, but it’s still pretty foul.  Don’t watch it while eating ice cream or yogurt or having a milkshake.  I’m just warning you.  It might not be a good thing.

Pointless Rambling and My Review of the Tippy Canoe

What do you do when you make dinner for someone and they don’t like what you eat?  Don’t say anything, that’s what. But it’s still somewhat, I don’t know…humiliating? …face scrunch inducing?  I was so pleased to have created this chicken marinade with olive oil, crushed ginger, and garlic.  I personally thought it was delicious.  So did Milla.  Friend did not.  She didn’t say anything, but she took one bite and did not eat any more.  She also did not eat any of the plain steamed brocolli.  She did eat lots of salad.  I guess Nature cooks up better than I do.

Things that should be self-evident but apparently aren’t to me:  Don’t try to wash your face in a big sweater.  It gets wet.  Remove the sweater before washing the face, or at least rinsing.  Also, don’t keep scraping your tongue when it starts to hurt even if it’s still taking off goo.  It makes it hurt worse and you’ll also start to notice blood in the goo.

No one is buying my house.  It has been for sale now for three and a half weeks. People look at it all the time.  No one buys it.  My real estate agent said it is good that lots of people are looking at it because apparently other houses in their office are not getting nearly as much traffic.  And the average time to sell houses has been like 84 days or something, so I suppose 24 is about 2 months shy of average.  I don’t know.

Writing non-sequitur…this adorable little squirrel just ran by my window here past the computer monitor.  It jumped up on a bench and hunkered down to eat a nut.  Wow.  That was cute.

Last night I went to a restaurant that was so bad, I’d recommend it just to go in and see how bad it could really be.  It’s called Tippy Canoe and it is in Troutdale, Oregon.  Just the fact of its location should probably have been a tipoff (or Tippy off, as the case may be), but sometimes you can find some real gems in offbeat places.  This was not one of those instances.  The friend who told me about the place said he had read a review that the crab cakes were bad, but other than that, he had no information about it.  Well, since every item on the menu was exorbitantly expensive, I decided to go ahead and order those crab cakes, in spite of the poor review.  The cost for these tasty tidbits was $14.50.  This bought three silver-dollar sized lumps that were completely inedible.  Seriously like wet cat food in texture, and sort of grilled on either side.  As I began to eat the first cake, I attempted to ascertain whether the foul taste would continue with each forkful.  It did and worsened.  I felt obligated to eat the nasty things since they cost so damn much, so I slathered the second one in ketchup.  I couldn’t finish it and did not eat the third.  It was so horrible.  I may as well have eaten vomit.  They were the same texture and would have tasted better.

And the decor…well.  Wow.  Let’s just set the stage for you, shall we?  The walls are black wood paneling covered with planks.  The ceiling is metal roofing.  Faux-wooden salmon swim all over the walls towards fishing poles with loose fishing line hanging over the tables.  The plates have fly fishing lures painted on them.  The light is low, to add to the romantic ambience, you know.  Then, the piece de resistance….the bathrooms!  The bathrooms alone are worth the drive to the place just to see that such things actually exist and are used to enhance the character of a place.  The original toilet seat and cover have been removed.  In its place is an ill-fitting replacement made from clear plastic.  Molded into the clear plastic are actual fly-fishing lures, the double-hook variety.  As I said, the seats do not fit the toilets, so the basin extends out between one’s legs while seated, and the lid bangs one in the back.  It is possible to glance down and view two hooks between your thighs while doing your business.  Overall, the entire trip to the bathroom is a most enchanting experience.  When I finished using the toilet I closed the lid and looked through the clear plastic and lures into the bowl.  Good times.

Going to Tippy Canoe was entertaining.  Even though the food was so abominable, it was worth seeing such places are possible.  Oh, and I alluded earlier to the prices.  Unbelievably high.  Most menu items START at $25.  The crab cakes were some of the cheapest things there.  And the food looks terrible.  I passed several tables and the stuff wouldn’t pass muster at a Denny’s, seriously.  My friend ate a salad covered in croutons that had been soaked in lard.  I kid you not.  Gag.  Yikes.  But still, it was so much fun to make fun of the place, it was worth it.

Well I’m completely lazy and unproductive right now.  It’s pitiful.  I’m sitting here planning to write and instead I’m watching South Park videos and Chad Vader singing Chocolate Rain and ruminating on cat food cakes and lard-covered croutons.  Delish!  Such sloth goes all against my Virgo sensibilities.  Ah well.  I’m going to go watch another episode of South Park.

Molly

Woke up this morning to my dog Molly having a major seizure.  Her head was all twisted to the left her spine all to the right she could not stand she was shitting and pissing herself and her eyes were pointing in opposite directions.  It was horrible.  I’m kind of weirded out by the fact that last night I was writing about my other dog’s death, something I haven’t written about in months and I woke up to this happening.

I took her to the vet and she was not optimistic.  However since Molly seemed to improve over the course of the visit, we decided to allow her to come home and say bye to everyone.  Through the day, she improved to about 95% normal.  If you didn’t know her, you wouldn’t know she is still off.  She’s got this Picasso look to her eyes.  They’re kind of cattywompus.  I took her back to the vet this afternoon and we have adopted a wait and see attitude.  As long as she seems to be comfortable and her quality of life is decent, she gets to stay with us, but we’re clearly on a track out.  It is most likely Molly has a brain tumor.  I could spend a thousand bucks to try and find out what is wrong, but there is obviously neurologic damage and even knowing wouldn’t improve her long-term prognosis, so I’m just going to let what it is run its course.

I’m too tired to say any more than this.  I sobbed all morning long.  I’m spent.  Grief takes energy and now mine is gone.

Dogs, Blogs, and the Nice Manager at Target

My silly little dog hurt his back leg.  I suspect he injured it while jumping off the couch or the bed.  In any case, it appears to be a soft tissue injury and, while he is limping, he seems to be improving.  He does not like to step on it and walks gingerly.  Today I took him out to go potty and it was hilarious.  He wanted to lift the back left leg which would have forced him to stand on his back right, the injured leg.  He couldn’t do it.  I kept cracking up because he seemed so unwilling to lift the hurt leg to pee, even though he was holding it higher to keep from standing on it than he holds it while peeing.   Poor little guy.  He’s trying to pee and I’m laughing at him.

Now I’m sitting here typing and having to contend with greyhound nose.  Edna’s nose is just the right height to insist upon a pet from keyboard hands.  Yesterday I was practicing my new bass guitar (oh my gosh I’m hooked, it is so much fun!) and Edna kept coming over and nosing my hand while I plucked.  Maybe she wants to play too.  Silly thing.

Today Milla and I went to Target to buy her a new coat.  I normally do not shop at Target.  I think their business practices are as abhorrent as Walmart’s.  However, Milla received two gift cards for Target for Christmas and she needs a coat so I figured we could use the cards that way.  Well, while we were in the store, I put the cards in my pocket.  We found a jacket and headed up front to pay.  I reached into my pocket and one of the cards was gone.  I was so frustrated.  We combed the store looking everywhere, retracing our steps.  We did not find it.  I went up front to ask if the store had a lost and found, but the woman I asked just looked at me like I was a ghost or something and did not answer.  More frustrated, I asked a security guard who was walking by.  I didn’t have much hope it would have been turned in, but it was worth fifteen bucks so I thought we should try.  There was a rather young guy walking with the guard.  He asked us about the card, what happened, etcetera.  He then said he would look in lost and found.  In the meantime, Milla and I had picked up a cheaper jacket we had considered and were in line to pay for it.  While there, the young manager came over and gave us another fifteen dollar card.  I was speechless. We left the store and drove off.  I then realized I needed to go back and tell him thank you so we did.  He was really nice about it.  He said he thought they would find the card during cleanup after closing, but he wasn’t terribly concerned.  That guy earned bonus points from me.  I have never gotten that kind of service from Target.

While typing that my half Lab, half border collie dog, Molly, came over and said hi.  She shoved her nose under my hand for a pet.  I’m here, she said.  Pet me.  Now it’s Edna again.  I love my dogs.  Anyway, that was our afternoon.  Wasn’t that exciting?  And isn’t my life exciting that this is what I’m writing about?  Yep.  I know it is.

More Love Guru Love Letters

Here are some more letters to help ladies find their way to true love. Based on the sheer number of letters I’ve received, I am absolutely certain that many of you have similar questions and will find comfort in these answers I have provided.

Dear Love Guru,
My boyfriend says he doesn’t like the music I chose for him. He says I have zero taste and wouldn’t know a good song if it hit me in the head. I told him this hurts my feelings. He said so what? What should I do? Sincerely, Sally

Dear Sally,
I hate to tell you, darling, but your man is a mean clod and deserves to be put out on his head. Telling you that you have zero taste in music is not only not true, it’s just plain cruel. What does he know, anyway? He’s a man. Except in rare instances, men wouldn’t know musical taste if landed in their lap. Personally, I would take him out to the suburbs or the country and leave him there to figure his own way back to town, but if you love him like it seems you do, you are just going to have to change him. How? Well that’s simple. He’s going to have to spend some serious time in private quarters, the music is going to have to go a bit louder, the perfume is going to have to be sprayed a bit longer, and I hate to say this, but I think it is time to withhold some meals from this man. He really needs to learn that your love is what his life is all about and if he’s going to be critical of your choice in music, he should be thankful for every other wonderful aspect of your beautiful character. I would suggest starting out by feeding him only once a day in the late afternoon. He’ll be so grateful for the food, he won’t even notice the music. While he’s eating, turn the song up just a hair, while he’s still in the throes of tummy ecstacy. After about a week, go ahead and add another snack in the morning and when you do, bring the volume up on the music again right after he is through eating. Over the next several weeks, you can add in more meals, and also increase the size of the meals. Each time you do this, turn the musical volume up just a piece. He will begin to associate food with the song choice you made. If at any time he has something critical to say to you about your song choice, reduce the amount of food he receives for the next few days but do not lower the volume on your song. He’ll figure it out and you’ll be on your way to true love’s bliss in no time at all.

Dear Love Guru,
I hate to ask you this because you were probably intentional in leaving it out of your instructions, but what am I supposed to do with my fingernails? I have the hardest time keeping them tidy and I’m just afraid they detract from my entire sexy look. Do you have any advice? Thank you in advance, Nel
ly

Oh Nelly, Nelly,
What a fantastic question and you are so right that I should have addressed this earlier! What was I thinking? I just wasn’t, that’s all there is to it. I’m so sorry for leaving you out in the cold like this. Here’s the thing, dear. You are going to have to start using falsies. Men love a woman with long nails. They just do. Short nails remind them of their own unkempt manly hands and you know what happens when a man sees something that reminds him of himself…he begins to see you as a man. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we? So find a nice nail salon and have them apply the tips for you. If you can’t afford a salon, go ahead and apply them yourself, but be sure you use a strong adhesive so they don’t fall off. I wouldn’t use the stuff that comes with the nail kit, but go buy some serious glue from the hardware store. You can simply use a bit of sandpaper on them to even out the lumps the glue leaves. After you apply your nail tips, be sure to paint them fire engine red. Fire engine red fires up a man’s imagination like nothing else. He’ll be so hot after seeing those nails, you might not even need his private quarters for a week! Toenails actually need attention too, but they do not need to be very long. Just be sure to have them cleaned up with a lovely pedicure. Be sure to get rid of any unsightly skin or fungus. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: SOS pads. SOS pads are amazing for scrubbing nastiness off your toes and heels. If you get a little burned, put on some lotion. Your feet will be utterly amazing. Throw on some high heeled sandals and he’ll be so gaga for your gorgeous feet, he won’t be able to sleep with loving you.

Dear Love Guru,
My mother, church, God, and the Bible taught me that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Shame on you for advocating sinful bedding like this! Shame on you also for telling women to show skin! Don’t you know that God wants our bodies covered? He does not like us to show others our private parts! Even in the sanctity of the marriage bed, he would be shocked if I allowed my Husband to see my breasts during relations. Shame, shame, shame! I may be coming up on 48 years old, but God will find me a Husband when he sees fit, on His own time. And if I never find a Husband, the Lord Jesus will be happy to comply. Signed, Ruth

Dear Ruth,
I do not know how in the world you came to the conclusion that God would not want you to use your body for sex since He gave you a hoo hoo and breasts, and I’ll bet your lovely form is way sexier than even you can imagine. Plus, there is no reason you can’t follow my other advice for getting love, even without having sex early and often, you just need to modify things a little. I think maybe Jesus is a bit busy healing babies and going to church and all that to be working on being your husband, so it would be best if you found yourself a nice human man to love. It may take a bit more time for you than it will for the average girl, but you’ve got spunk and I know you’ll find true love with a man in no time just like Jesus intended.

Well how do I do that, Love Guru? I can just hear you asking me that right now, so I’m going to tell you. First of all, nothing says that a good Christian lady can’t have her hair attractively styled. In fact I have seen more Christian ladies with the hair style I advocate than I see at the mall. And having a built in support system could be quite useful for you all. You could get together and color one another’s hair! It could be so fun. After Church you could have pie and do hair. God also doesn’t mind if you wear makeup. He made men so that they aren’t bright enough to know you are a girl without makeup, so He must have intended you to use some. Makeup parties can be fun too, kind of like those candle party things you Christian girls go to, only putting makeup on instead of lighting up a bunch of wax. And if you’re feeling especially creative, you could combine one of your candle parties with a makeup and hair removal party, and use the candle wax on your bikini line, armpits, and legs. It could be so much fun! Sitting here I’m thinking perhaps I should go into the Christian lady party planning business. I think I would be good at it.

You also mentioned some concern at having to show your skin. Again, I have to wonder why the good Lord would make skin if He meant for us to cover it all the time, but I also recognize that He did give us the ability to create some fantastic clothing choices, so I suppose He intended us to be creative in this department. It is too bad that he didn’t make men with a bit more imagination so us girls wouldn’t have to make things like nipples and labia so obvious, but it is what it is. I am here to tell you that you can still follow my steps while allowing for a man’s inability to figure out a breast is a breast and not just a lump. Basically you just have to go with ill-fitting clothing all over your whole body. Wear a very tight blouse. It can have a high neck and long sleeves. Just make sure that the silhouette of your breasts is clearly visible. Since your man will not be able to see your areola, you will need to wear your shirts tight enough he can see the shape of them through the shirt. Since it sounds like short skirts would offend your religious sensibilities, simply wear your pants tight enough to see your labia. Dressing to find a man without showing skin really is not as difficult as it seems, now is it?

As you can see, there are many of my steps to love that you can follow even if you are unwilling to have sex early and often. And don’t underestimate private quarters to assist you in developing a good Christian relationship. Suppose you meet a man you really like, but he doesn’t share your devotion? You can use your private quarters to help him along. This is especially effective if you have a very cold basement or root cellar for your man’s private quarters space. Basically, make sure your man’s private quarters are good and cold. Put him in there and leave him for several days. Every few days sit with him and read to him from your Bible. After reading to him about the comfort of the Lord, give him a little something to help him warm up just a bit. Over time, he will begin to associate the comfort of the Lord with the warmth you have provided. You also have the added bonus of his associating this comfort with your love. In no time at all, he’ll love you and the Lord more than anything in the world. Religious hymns can also make an effective musical choice in a case like yours. He’ll associate the lovely hymn with his love for the both of you. What could be better than that?

Dear Love Guru,
I bought some sexy clothes like you suggested. What should I do with my old ones? I really don’t think it would be right to donate them since another woman might end up buying them and keep herself from finding love. I simply could not live with myself knowing I contributed to another woman’s unhappiness. Thanks, Dotty

Dearest Dotty,
You are truly a generous spirit and your kindness will be rewarded with true love. What to do with those clothes? That’s easy, use them to fill in the cracks of your man’s private quarters so he stays warm. There’s nothing like the softness of a nice cotton polo shirt to snuggle up against. And if he’s being naughty, you can use them to poke in his mouth until he’s quiet. Alternatively, you can give them to my previous letter writer or any other Christian ladies who need to encourage their men to be a bit more devotional.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For the first batch of Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

Single Mother, Foiled Again

There is a line in the film Bridget Jones’s Diary where she is talking to Mark.  She says to him, “You seem to go out of your way to make me feel like a complete idiot every time I see you and you REALLY needn’t bother.  I already feel like an idiot most of the time anyway.”

I feel like I am that line.  It is me.  I feel like an idiot most of the time anyway, so when I do something that seems to make this more self-evident, it just seems all the more obvious.  Spring break begins after school today.  I thought school ended at its usual time of 3.  I was pleased with myself for remembering there is no aftercare today.  I started my day and have been progressing towards that 3 o’clock pickup time.  At 12:49, Milla’s teacher called and asked if I knew school ended at 12:30.  Nope.  Missed that memo.  It was probably right there in the email telling me there would be no aftercare today, but I missed that part.

Nowhere in my abilities as a human do I feel like an idiot most of the time anyway than as a mom.  I feel like I’m constantly falling short.  I know other moms who are unbelievably busy, yet they seem to get things lined up and done.  Why can’t I?  Each time I take a misstep, I resolve to try harder.  I make better lists.  I go out of my way to make lunch the night before so we aren’t late in the morning.  I drag my ass out of bed to drag Milla’s ass out of bed.  I help her choose outfits and lay them out.  Yet again and again and again I keep missing things.

I just have to wonder if this is always how it’s going to be.

True Insight

Insight is shit with an ‘ing.

Random rant of the morning:  Today I got a parking ticket for staying in the bathroom too long (this was unplanned, by the way).  I was late 8 minutes.  It cost me $3 a minute.  The Oregon Supreme Court recently adopted a standard in punitive damage awards similar to that of the federal Supreme Court whereby punitive damage awards are limited to four times the original loss.  Since it normally costs .02 cents per minute to park, why is it okay to charge me 150 times that?  And how many times have I driven off before I used up my time?  Are they going to pay me back 150 times the time I didn’t use?  It’s bullshit is what it is.

Love Guru Love Letters

I received many questions after posting my recipe for love. Clearly finding love can be a touchy problem, and one about which many would like to find some answers. I regret that because of the incredible number of inquiries I received, I simply cannot answer most of them personally. However I have compiled some of the more common issues here, and will post more tomorrow. Hopefully these will help those who have not quite yet navigated love’s rough waters.

Dear Love Guru,
I read your instructions on how to get a man and I’m thinking it’s gonna work. However I am confused about one thing and that’s hair. I have a perm. I have been trying to grow it out so the ends are kinda curly and the middle is straight. Do you think I should just cut it all off and start short? Thanks, Candy.

Dear Candy,
Great question. Let me just get straight to it. If No and Hell No went for a boat ride and No fell out, who would be left? Hell No. I cannot stress enough the importance of hair length when it comes to men. They simply do not understand short hair on a woman, that’s all there is to it. I’m sorry men can be so obtuse, but that’s just how it is. If a man sees you with short hair, he’s going to think you are another man, and we don’t want that, now do we? Yours is a simple solution and it’s called straightening. Go to the salon and have your hair straightened. Better yet, go to the store and buy your own kit and do it yourself. If you are a black lady, simply follow the instructions on the kit. If you are a white lady, go for a few minutes less, that way your hair won’t fall out. You’ll be on your way to love in no time! Fabulous name, by the way. With a name like Candy, you’ll have men wanting to eat right out of your hand!

Dear Love Guru,
I have a question that’s of a rather personal nature. Actually, it has to do with pubic hair. You did not mention pubic hair in your instructions, and I’m quite curious whether or not it should be trimmed. Some of my girlfriends say it should be shaved all the way off. Others say it should be left au naturel. Personally, I prefer a simple trim. What’s a girl to do? Sincerely, Harley

Dear Harley,
Another simply magnificent question! The answer to that question is easy, and you’re going to like it because you’re already there, Hon. Trim it. I know there are some men who like things completely naked down there, but there is just something wrong with that. Think about it. Little girls have no hair down there. Shaving all the hair off makes your privates look like those of a little girl. Do you really think it is a good idea for your man to be thinking of some little girl when he’s with you? I don’t think so! Not only that, unless you plan to get waxed (oh my God, ouch!), then you’re going to have to keep up working on getting that hair gone all the time. If you miss a day, can you imagine the itchiness? The thought brings tears to my eyes. And if you cut yourself…I just won’t even go there. So shave your bikini line and trim the rest. As for going au naturel, I do realize there are those hirsute ladies who are into that and we all hope they can find a man who is as well, but I say good luck, Sister. It just is not going to happen. Remember how I told you that men are not very bright when it comes to the ladies? Do you honestly think he’s going to know what is under all that hair if you leave it on there? Hair is meant to be long on the head and that is it. Go for the nice trim. And don’t forget to shave your armpits as well. You’ll be glad you did.

Dear Love Guru,
I have a real problem. I took your advice and found the man I thought was of my dreams. I wore the clothes you suggested, attractively styled my hair, wore perfect makeup, and let my panties hang out. It worked! I snagged my highschool sweetheart, John Fangboner, in just under a month. I was able to create a great private quarters for him in my basement. I built it all by myself and play Michael McDonald for him 24 hours a day. He’s there now in fact. Only here’s my problem. While I was at my job as a toenail fungus specialist at Lulu’s Nails in Brooklyn, I met the most wonderful man! He’s come in several times for Lulu’s special fungus treatment and I’m pretty sure he likes me. I mean, he does wear a wedding band, but I think it’s so women don’t hit on him all the time because he is really handsome. And his fungus isn’t that bad. I’m wondering how I should handle this situation considering John is in my basement as I write this! Please help. Confused in Love, Mary Lou Pantzaroff

My Dearest Confused,
Get up this second, go down to Walgreen’s, buy yourself some reading glasses, and put them on right now! You will be seeing clearly in about three minutes, my dear. This is quite a common problem, I’m afraid. You would not believe the sheer volume of letters I’ve gotten on just this issue. I particularly chose yours because it includes a second, more subtle issue I would also like to address. First of all, girls simply change their minds. That is all there is to it. It happens. In the same way that men are known to run around, bang things, and throw balls, us girls are known for being fickle creatures. Don’t sweat it. Here’s what you need to do. Take Johnny out for a drive and leave him on a country road. Don’t go too far from town. If you live in the city, and it sounds like you do, the suburbs will work just as well. Kiss him on his cheek, give him enough money for bus fare home, and leave. Why? Because the walk and ride back to his place will clear his head. He will be slightly confused after the warmth of his private quarters, the loving music, and your sexual prowess. Walking will remind him of sports and beer. He’ll start to focus on those things and head back to his place. By the time he arrives, he will have forgotten all about you. Normally this would be catastrophic, which is why we keep our men in their private quarters, but since you want out, this is the perfect solution.

Now you mentioned another issue I would also like to discuss, and that is the new man you are interested in. Can I just say now, Congratulations! Sounds to me like he’s as interested in you as you are in him. That ring? That’s his way of practicing his marriage to you! He’s getting ready and he does not want other girls to think he’s available. So go for it! You’ve already nabbed one man, you are obviously quite successful in the man-nabbing department. This one should not be terribly difficult to snag as well, especially since it seems he’s already interested. He wouldn’t be coming into your salon all the time if he wasn’t. And just think, he’s sharing an intimate bodily problem he’s dealing with, so he already trusts you. Girlfriend, you are so on your way to love, I’m getting all shivery and excited just thinking about it. Good luck and let me know how the wedding goes!

Everyone, this girl’s predicament is a common one. They see a man wearing a wedding band and think he’s taken. Remember that little phrase that says assuming makes an ass out of you and me? Well assuming a man is married simply because he’s wearing a wedding band is a load of horse pucky and definitely gets a lot of donkeys wandering around. Men know wedding bands keep women away, so when they decide you are the girl for them, they might just start wearing one so they can be sure to snag you! Unless your guy shows you his wedding certificate and the wife, he is likely fair game. Just be sure to wear your hair attractively styled, beautiful makeup, and ill-fitting clothes with a nice peek of your panties. He’ll be yours in no time. And don’t forget those private quarters! They are a key ingredient in the recipe of love.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For more Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

Love Guru

There are clear steps to getting the man of your dreams. I am here today to provide you some insight into those steps. Finding true love is not difficult. With a little perseverance, you too can achieve true love and happiness. To get started, I suggest pulling together some supplies. These supplies include a computer with internet access, duct tape, a cage, a hammer, some music and candles, clothing, makeup, scissors, and shoes. If you have a basement, this can be helpful too. It works best if the basement is in your own house, but your neighbor’s basement works well too if they are amenable.

First things first, men like women who look good and sexy. This means if you are normally the type to wear something dowdy like waist high jeans and a polo shirt tucked in, along with some sports socks and sneakers, you are going to seriously have to rethink your wardrobe choices. Unfortunately, men are not able to see past clothes that look like another guy is wearing them, so unless you would like to catch a gay man, I suggest taking this strong piece of advice: tight and ill-fitting.

What does this mean exactly? It means that you want to go with clothes a size, or perhaps two, too small. I know, I know, I’ve read those articles in womens’ mags claiming we should wear clothes that fit and if we are plus-sized girls, it’s even more important. Whatever. I’m here to tell you from a man’s perspective, that is gobbledy-gook. The thing you have to remember is that boys are not very imaginative creatures. They can’t imagine what they can’t see. Why is it, do you think, that they need a nudey magazine to do business with themselves? Huh? It’s because they cannot for the life of them figure out that a breast under a shirt is a breast. They just think it’s a lump. So you have to provide them with a reminder. It’s pretty simple really. Wear shirts that are a bit too tight, preferably low cut if you have the chest to accommodate, making certain if there are buttons that they don’t quite line up to close. This way men can see through to your bra if you have one and to your skin if you don’t.

A side note on undergarments here. If you can go without, do. Especially bras. Men like nipples, and like I said before, men can’t imagine what they can’t see. A little areola goes a long way to tittilating a man’s heart. Same goes for underwear. The best look if you must indulge in panties is to wear the thong style with the back showing out the top of your pants or skirt. Now, if you do as I say and choose pants or a skirt a size or so too small, it will be easy for the panties to show out the top.

Back to clothes. Since we just mentioned pants, let me just say that the tighter, the better. You may have heard the term camel toe. This is when pants are tight enough to show the outline of your labia. You may have heard that camel toe is unattractive. Pshaw! I’m here again to tell you that is simply not true. Men want to be able to see what is underneath! Since our puritanical laws and bad weather do not allow us to go naked all the time, it is necessary to wear pants sometimes. Help those unimaginitive men along and wear your pants tight enough that the man can see both your underwear and the outlines of your labia. You will be the better for it, I assure you.

A better bet, if you can get away with it, is a short skirt. I’m sure you have all heard that after a certain age or weight, women shouldn’t wear short skirts, but things have changed. Men have changed. Ever hear that older women are more experienced or bbw? These terms imply that no matter what your age or size, you can and should flaunt your stuff. Skirts small enough to provide the view of a bit of hiney are all that. Wear them short, show off your panties, and you’ll be on your way to love in no time, honey.

Let’s recap. Tight and ill-fitting clothes are best. No undergarments if possible, but if you must, be sure they show. Now, on to hair.

You may not know this, but men do like hair that is attractively styled. To them, hair that is natural and hanging is just, well, hair. They want a cut and they want to be able to notice a cut. At the same time, they want length. How to achieve these seemingly disparate goals? It’s simple, really. Cut your hair on top to a shorter length. Blow it dry using lots of styling aids so that it fluffs up around your face, framing the lovely you. Leave the sides and back longer. This way, men can see the length of your hair, and can also see that you took the time to style it as well. The color you choose doesn’t matter, so if there is a color other than the one you were born with that appeals to you, go for it. Color can also be a way to get a man excited. Men know that women who show their hair has been colored because of a bit of root growth are the best in bed. It’s just obvious that being adventurous with hair color is akin to being adventurous in bed. Hair stylists will try and convince you to come in and get those roots done sooner rather than later. Again, pshaw! That’s just them trying to make some money. Better yet, save money on the stylist and do your own coloring at home. You can save money further by letting those roots grow just a wee bit longer to show your man your adventurous side. Saving money and getting some lovin’, what could be better than that?

Makeup. Men like makeup. They like lots of it. Of course, it must be expertly applied, but it should be evident. Why? Kind of like wearing clothes men wear, a naked face to a man is just like, well, another man. Like I said before, if you don’t want a gay man, wear a lot of makeup to accentuate your features. Begin with a flat pallette. This means a solid foundation to cover up any, ahem, imperfections so to speak. Take the foundation and apply it all over your face, behind your ears, and down your neck. Blend it into the skin of your chest. Powder all. Then take a colored eye shadow and apply it from your eyelashes to your eyebrow. Men need to be able to SEE your eyes; colored eye shadow is the way to help them. Avoid neutrals. Men will just think you have dark circles around your eyes. Apply a thick coat of mascara. Once it dries, apply again. Oh, and don’t forget the eyeliner. Ever see Amy Winehouse’s eyes? She goes for a dramatic look and see what she has acheived! Amy is an example for us all. After making your eyes stand out, apply blusher to your cheeks. You want to look fresh and excited, kind of like you just had sex, so make those cheeks rosy. Same with the lips. Apply lipliner first, around the edges of your lips to make them appear larger, then fill in. It works best if the lipstick shade is different from the liner shade. This way men can see where your lips begin. Now your makeup pallette is complete! Squirt a bit of perfume behind your ears, on your neck, on your arms, in your armpits, on your tummy and down there, preferably a strong rose scent. Men like a woman who smells fresh and perfume shows you took the time to care.

You are now dressed for love success! Men will come crawling to your feet, begging you to take them home if you dress right, wear enough makeup, and style your hair. It’s easy, really. Men simply cannot resist a woman who takes care of herself. Choosing clothes that show your body, styling your hair so it is long and shows you styled it, wearing makeup to accentuate your features, all these things go a long way to achieving true love’s bliss.

Well, you say, after I’ve gone to these lengths, how do I keep a man once he’s interested? That one’s easy and I think you know the answer: sex. Men love sex. If you want to keep that special guy, have sex with him. The sooner the better. Seriously. It is not true that men are not interested in women who put out early. Men want to know you care about their needs too and the way to do that is to get busy between the sheets.

There are those who will tell you that it really doesn’t matter whether you have sex at your place or his, or even in the car. However, having sex at your house provides a distinct advantage to sex at his place or elsewhere. First of all, you can control the lighting concept, the music, and generally direct the entire mood. Secondly, after your man has sex he is likely to fall asleep. It is best if he falls asleep at your place so he can get used to being with you, sharing your rhythms and sleep patterns. Finally, should your man prove to be one of the more, how shall we say it, difficult types, having him at your house can make it easier to move him into his own private quarters in the basement of your house or the neighbor’s until he is more sure of your love.

A little sidenote tip here. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, some men need a bit more coaxing than others. They have fears of commitment or are afraid of the depth of emotion they feel for you. It is your job to show them that you understand and to help them come to terms with their inner selves. This can be done in a variety of ways, including drugs, alcohol, food, and television. But the best method I’ve encountered is what I call the “private quarters” method. The private quarters method basically creates a space for your man to be alone when he is not with you. It is best to place these quarters in a basement, simply because your man likes to return to his caveman roots, and the dark and depth of a basement reminds him of his basest instincts and his ancestry in caves. Worry not if you don’t have a basement. I know there are many girls who like trailers, flats, and ranch homes where a basement can be nearly impossible to come by. Sometimes girls with trailers have a root cellar. If this is the case, by all means employ it. However an extra room with the windows covered will suffice. This is one place where duct tape can come in quite handy. Simply cover the entire window surface with duct tape to keep out all light. Make sure the door locks in case the special place you make for your man’s private quarters isn’t sufficient to provide him enough privacy. Girl neighbors can share basements, but it is important not to keep two or more men together at once because this can confuse them. They may not know which of you they belong to if a bunch of girls are coming down all the time, and you don’t want your man to fall for someone else. Only use the basement of a neighbor you trust implicitly not to steal your man’s heart from you. This can be quite distressing.

It is very important to create private quarters for your man. If you aren’t the handy type, I suggest doing some web searches on using simple tools because good solid private quarters is one of the best methods to keep a man. Simply put, this is just a small place for you to put your man and lock him in for a bit. Now, now, don’t get all excited. This is not a bad thing. In fact your man will thank you for it after he’s spent some time with himself. Some need to stay longer than others, but all of them will be your slave for life if you keep them in private quarters for any length of time. It is best if you know how to weld and can build your man’s private quarters out of metal, but welding really is messy business so good solid two by fours work as well. Be sure to use enough nails and screws so the private quarters don’t fall apart. It helps if you can bolt the private quarters to the floor using a chain or some other bolting method. Make sure the space is not large enough for your man to stand because standing makes him restless. Give him just enough room to sit with his legs comfortably bent in front of him and enough room above his head so he doesn’t bonk himself while sitting there. Men can be quite clumsy so if the top of the space isn’t high enough, he will hurt his head, and this is not good. Good private quarters are an invaluable tool in the dating woman’s toolkit. Use private quarters wisely and you cannot go wrong. Later, once you are safely ensconsed in your man’s heart, you may only need to handcuff him in one place occasionally to remind him of his private quarters. But many men see their private quarters as a safe haven away from the pressures of everyday living and quite enjoy taking time there at the end of a stressful day.

The final piece to the puzzle in keeping a man is music. Wise music choices are invaluable in ensuring your man doesn’t stray. I’m here to tell you a secret method I’ve developed for keeping a man using private quarters and music. First of all, make the right decision when it comes to which song to play. None of that hard rock music stuff that gets men all flustery and thinking they need to run around and throw balls or something. Bad idea if you’re aiming for a romantic tone. Better to go for the soft rock favorites like Michael McDonald’s Yah Mo Be There. This song is just about as perfect as you can get for the secret method I’m about to show you. Another fantastic choice is When I Fall in Love by Celine Dion and Clive Davis. You will be playing one song only, so a good music choice is essential. After making your song selection, you either need to get a player that will allow the song to play on repeat indefinitely, or you need to use your computer. Since the song will be playing in the basement, root cellar, or room where your man’s private quarters are located, the computer may prove to be impractical unless you can run speakers or use a laptop. The sound has to be quite loud, so do not use the laptop itself as a sound system, but attach speakers to it. Basically, the secret method is to play the song in your man’s private quarters over and over and over as loudly as possible without disturbing the neighbors. He will then come to associate the sound with his love for you. Later, when you wish to put him in a loving mood, turn on that song, and Presto! He’ll be so hot for you, you won’t believe it. The reason this works so well is that the song operates almost like hypnotism. Your man enters such a blissful state under the power of the music, it is almost as if he’s under a love spell. It helps if you can burn some scented candles in his private space as well, lavender or rose scents work best; men simply cannot resist either of these. Again, when your man comes up for some lovin’ you can burn a candle using your special smell while playing your special song, creating a mood that simply cannot be beat. Music and candles go a long way to making your man a happy, loving creature.

Let’s have a final recap here. Ill-fitting clothes are best. Wearing none is preferable, but if you must wear undergarments, make sure they show. Wear hair that is obviously styled, yet still long, by cutting the top shorter and leaving the sides and backs long. Use hair color to spark a man’s adventurous spirit. Wear enough makeup men can see your lovely features. Have sex early and often. Create a private quarters space to keep your man until he is yours forever. Finally, use a good solid love song played loudly and constantly. Music, as well as scented candles, imprint you on your man’s brain. Mark my words, girls. True love can be yours. Toss out those thick books on relationships and save your money for clothes, makeup, and private quarters supplies. Follow these simple rules for love, and you will be on your way to bliss until death do you part.

For Love Guru Love Letters, go here.  For more Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

Toilet Needs a New Home

I posted this ad on Craigslist last fall. A friend of mine asked me to repost it here, so here it is:
It is time that Toilet parted ways with our family. It has been in this house for longer than we’ve been here. When we arrived, the home inspector informed us that this toilet was “top of the line” in Europe and ordered by all the best home designers in the US. “Pozzi Gnorri,” he said. “Go look them up on the internet. They’re one of the best companies in the world for bathroom fixtures.” So I did and was duly impressed. However, I had to wonder what a toilet of this caliber was doing in my little 1920 bungalow in Milwaukie. But hey, some of us get riches to rags instead of the other way around, so who was I to question things or to remind Toilet of its brilliant beginnings?
To keep reading, click HERE.

Windows Needs to Fly Out the Window

Insomnia is sucking my brain dry.

I would like to warn any readers who are offended by cussing to stop reading right now.  Because I am writing about the product designed by Bill Gates et al, I cuss quite frequently in this post.

Fucking Windows makes me want to throw the computer.  Someone recently suggested Linux and once I figure out how to do everything, I’m switching.  Fucking Windows bullshit.  I bought this computer brand new last summer.  It came with Vista.  I wasn’t terribly pleased with this, wanting to wait to get Vista until after the bugs were a bit more worked out, but the damn stores charge you to keep XP so I went ahead and kept the Vista.  I have actually been quite pleased.  Compared to all the other annoying versions of fucking Windows, once I got used to navigating it, I liked it.

But of course you can’t have a fucking Windows computer without putting up with virus crap, so I bought McAfee.  Well, McAfee is a pain in the ass and seems to interfere with my wireless configurations.  After months of fighting with Qwest on the phone because my DSL would operate like a faucet shutting on and off, they sent out a tech.  His computer ran on my line just fine.  No water shutting off, just straight streaming.  We ran every troubleshoot in the book, to no avail.  Then something happened that caused me to turn off the McAfee protection to my wireless for some reason.  I can’t even remember why I did it.  But lo and behold, the problem went away.  At that point I did some searches and discovered others had this issue as well.  Since I had paid for a year of the stupid thing, I was stuck with it.  I just took it off wireless protection.  Then I got a virus.  Luckily I had Vista, so Vista would ask me if I wanted to download the virus.  Uh no.  Do I look stupid?  But it was annoying.  Every time I turned on a browser or turned it off, there was that message.  And I was afraid I was going to accidentally hit the go ahead and install button one of these days.

All along, I thought the virus came from the lack of wireless protection.  Worried I would get another virus, I turned back on the McAfee protection.  However, after spending a half an hour typing a WordPress post, then having it disappear into the ether when I hit save and continue because McAfee turned my DSL to shit, I decided I was done with the whole damn mess and decided to reinstall fucking Windows.  I have now spent an hour backing everything up to my external hard drive, then another hour and a half reinstalling fucking Windows, then another two hours waiting for it to configure all its crap and run its stupid updates, and another hour moving everything back from the external drive only to discover the damn virus that neither Norton nor McAfee can seem to get rid of was actually attached to a goddamned video file my brother downloaded even after I told him never to download anything to my computer because he has a knack for downloading shit like viruses.  And the thing I can’t friggin’ figure out is why neither virus protection pack can locate this shit and annihilate it.  I paid for the super deluxe we find anything and kill it version of McAfee.  The computer came with the entry level crap version of Norton.  You’d think between the two they could locate the thing.  I tried running just the Norton.  I tried running just the McAfee.  I tried running them at the same time (they won’t let you).  Neither one found the virus.  Useless.

Thanks to the kindness of Vista in asking permission before downloading the virus, I am able to see the file it wants to install.  It was because of this I was able to google it and determine what it was.  I tried all the steps involved for removing it from my computer, but they did not work.  Even after deleting it then shredding the deleted files with McAfee, it kept coming back.  I am hoping that my deletion after detection on the video file from Derek is successful.  If it isn’t, I’m going to have to go through the whole pain in the ass again, only this time with the thing not saved on my external hard drive.  Again, I just don’t get why the virus programs don’t find it during their scans.  I’ve updated the latest software.  I’ve gone through all the steps.  What’s the damn problem, anyway?  The virus shows on google searches.  People know what it is.  Why is it that Norton and McAfee don’t?  I just don’t get it.

So Linux here I come.  I need to do some further research.  I need to read the stuff my friend sent about it.  But I’ve had it up to here with fucking Windows and its bullshit.  If I don’t post anything again for three more days it means I wrote something and lost it then got sick of it all and reinstalled fucking Windows and went through all this crap again.  But no.  I won’t.  This is fucking Windows’s last chance with me.  Piece of crap.

Brain Robber

Insomnia is cruel.  Like an invisible burgler it crawls through the window of your brain robbing you of sleep.  The parts for sleep may all be there, but insomnia has stolen them.  You can try the tools, valerian root, guided imagery, good hard exercise during the day, earplugs, white-noise machines, eye covers, making certain not to drink any liquid before 8, but they operate like an average casino against Danny Ocean.  They just don’t work.

I manifest stress as insomnia.  I have for years.  Sometimes it feels as if I have spent as much time staring at the walls and ceiling in the dark as I have during the day.  I have learned to manage stress and all the techniques for its alleviation.  Above all, I have learned not to sweat the small stuff because it’s the small stuff that makes the big stuff even bigger.  Because I have had insomnia off and on for years, I have of course read all about it, in books and on the internet.  I have swapped stories with my other insomniac friends.  I learned there are two primary types of insomnia:  one in which the insomniac cannot fall asleep and the other where the insomniac has little difficulty drifting off, but awakens in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, then finally falls into a deep sleep right before it is time to get up.  This makes getting up and getting moving extremely difficult.  I have the second type.

I recognize different facets of insomnia.  If my brain is running in circles, I hear the same song over and over and over like a broken record, and I know I have to find some way to break the cycle to get back to sleep.  An insomniac friend told me of a technique whereby you roll your eyes back and forth while closed, mimicking REM sleep. This works in some instances, but only for the brain running kind of insomnia.  Other times my brain isn’t running in circles, it is just awake, moving from thought to thought.  In this instance, I try to focus very heavily on where I am:  the pillow, the blankets, being comfortable, being warm.  The only problem with this method is that if I have to go to the bathroom, it becomes immediately obvious.

I normally have a vivid, photographic and strong audial memory, but it disappears when I have not been able to sleep.  I turn into a zombie after a few days of this misery.  Staring into space, missing words, forgetting things.  It’s terrible.  Because I knew this about myself, I knew that if I was able to sleep while taking the bar exam, I would pass.  If I did not sleep, I would not pass.  It was as simple as that.  I had the experience of hundreds of tests prior to go on, as well as horse show competitions.  I knew my performance depended on my ability to sleep.  Because of this, I went to a hypnotist three times before taking the bar exam.  It worked.  I slept.  I passed.

Insomnia has not been nearly as big a problem for me for some time as it used to be.  I think my body just became so used to outside stressors it gave up even bothering to respond to them.  I’m sure my cortisol levels were through the roof.  But at some point, stuff really didn’t bug me anymore.  Some person pulls in front of me in their car.  Ah well, it’s not me, it’s them.  The dog tracked in poop?  Okay, guess I’ll clean that up.  I don’t know.  I suppose it just did not seem worth it to ruin a moment getting all worked up about something meaningless, something that would increase my stress level, and ultimately impede my ability to sleep.  I have even learned to relax about insomnia, and that step alone seems to have been the biggest contributor to ridding myself of it.  I wake up in the middle of the night.  Okay, fine.  Guess I’ll lie here.  I’ll be fine tomorrow.  And so it’s been.

Only now I have insomnia again and it is different.  First of all, I can’t go to sleep.  Falling asleep has never been so consistently difficult for me.  Then once I do fall asleep, it’s fitful.  I awake easily and also awaken at my old insomnia wakening time of 3 or 4 a.m.  And it is like I have multiple facets of insomnia manifesting at the same time.  The brain is running in circles and active.  Plus I have been getting anxious about having insomnia, and I haven’t been anxious about insomnia in years.  Last night for instance, I finally reached that relaxed point between sleep and wakefulness when my brain interceded with the thought, What if I don’t fall asleep? With that, I was instantly awake.  Damn brain.  Shut up already!  What is that?  Why did it do that to me?  And so it went for what felt like hours.  Time always feels longer when you are trying to go to sleep.  I finally did fall asleep, but I woke up several times.  This morning when the alarm went off it was torture to struggle out of bed.

So here I am.  I know what is going on.  I have a pile of bills and I can’t pay them.  I have dozens of outstanding job applications, even for mundane positions, and no one is calling.  My house is for sale and I need for it to sell so I can leave here.  I try not to get too excited about leaving, but it is hard not to want to escape when it feels like nothing works.  It doesn’t matter if the approach is to lay low for a while or go gung ho for a while or somewhere in between, nothing works.  Maybe I have been cursed.  But I don’t go around feeling that way.  I figure life hands you stuff, you deal with it.  It doesn’t help to go all martyr and negative and lament a lousy life.  I can want to leave more than anything and see if it’s better somewhere else, but I’m not going to ruin this moment hating it.  Only it seems my body hasn’t gotten the message.  It’s freaking out on me even as the mind says no.

I asked my counselor about this.  Why is it, I say, that my body is rebelling?  My mind is cool with this.  I’m getting these trials to become a stronger person.  I’m growing. I’m fine.  She says it is an enormous amount of stress not to be able to pay your bills because it goes to fundamental security.  Okay, fine.  I get that.  But if I’m not stressing about it when I’m awake, I don’t need to when I’m asleep either.  What is the point of getting to the point where you don’t sweat the small stuff when you are awake if your body freaks out when you’re supposed to be asleep?  I suppose it is something to do with the stress not necessarily being small stuff, but I just don’t want to sweat that either.  It’s not fun.

So I’ll keep on keeping on.  I’m sure this is a rambling incoherent post because I am kind of like a drugged person, I’m so tired.  I stop periodically and stare at the lamp.  I pause because I’ve forgotten a word.  I actually had to spell check thief.  That’s sad.  For me it’s sad. And then I come to the end and have nothing further to say.

More Confessions of a Fraudulent Cancer Patient

By the time I felt the lump in my breast, sometime in late October or early November 2006, I had experienced six months of my own personal hell. I became the person that my friends used as a yardstick against whom to measure their problems. We would have our conversations, and they would talk about their miserable jobs or problems with their partners. Then they would say, “But at least I’m not you.” Ah yes. Good thing, huh? And this was not about to change any time soon.

I do not know which day exactly I felt the lump in my breast. I was not a vigilant lump checker. Rather, I would periodically think to do a self-exam while in the shower or while dressing. I rarely did as thorough a job as the nurses would during my yearly annual exam. Actually, come to think of it, I never did that thorough a job. I would just remember sometimes to check and that is what I did one morning while getting ready for work. Sometimes I would find a lump and fiddle around with it and it would go away. I would realize it was a gland or a pimple or something else, but not something to worry about. And on that particular morning, I found a lump while I was in the shower. But when I started fiddling around with it, it did not go away. It stayed.

I got out of the shower and got dressed. The lump stayed. I asked my daughter if she could feel it and she could. I was not scared, but started to feel a little concern that perhaps I should have a doctor look at it. I would wait and see if it went away. Over the next few days the lump did not go away. I did not feel alarmed. I did not worry that this was cancer, but I finally decided to have it checked out by a doctor.

I do not have health insurance. I did not want to incur a large medical bill, especially for a lump that was likely nothing. A few years ago, I sprained my ankle and because I did not have insurance, Providence allowed me to fill out a form stating my financial situation and forgave the debt. I remembered this and called them to inquire about proactively getting coverage before seeking care.

The process was not easy. Ironically enough, it is easier to get assistance when you have more money than when you have less. I had been unemployed for nearly a year. I had drained the last of my savings paying an attorney in a court battle with Milla’s father. I had nothing left and Providence wanted to know how I could make it when I had nothing. They wanted to know how it was that I had a couple thousand dollars in the bank. I told them the truth. I had sold some furniture. I had sold Milla’s pony.

How had I gotten to a place of such desperation? I am an attorney. Everyone thinks attorneys are rich. That is so far from true, it’s laughable, especially when you factor in student loan debt. It’s obscene. Most of my friends owe near or over six figures, and I am no exception. When I left law school I worked for a firm, then I started my own practice. The first couple of months were tough, but soon after, the clients who had come in for initial consultations starting coming back to file, and new consultations were steady. I had more flexibility than I had dreamed possible, was earning a good living, and doing fairly well. Then Congress decided to change the bankruptcy laws and life as I knew it developed a deadline. No one knew exactly how things would be different after the laws changed, but we all knew business would experience a dramatic decline. I took as much business as I could in the months leading up to the law change. I took as many clients as I was capable of seeing. I worked seven days a week, often ten and eleven hours a day. Luckily since I was self-employed, I could bring Milla with me to the office. It was brutal, but I knew that the money I was earning would likely be the last I would earn for some time. I even found the time to apply for different jobs, but I got no interviews or opportunities.

Saying my life changed after the law changed would be a huge understatement. Other than child support, I had zero income. I closed my office and moved it home to save on overhead costs. I cut our expenses to the bare minimum. I did everything I could to ensure that every last dollar I had saved would stretch as far as I could stretch it. I was unemployed for nine months before I found a job as an executive assistant at an internet marketing company. Because of my law degree, they offered to pay me more in order to have me draft and review some of their contracts. The company’s books and operations were disorganized. I streamlined everything, reviewed and rewrote all of their contracts, and basically organized myself out of a job. Three months later they laid me off for lack of work.

The rest of the year did not fare much better. My daughter’s father took her and did not send her home. Custodial interference they call it. I call it feeling like my arms had been removed along with the capacity to do anything except lie in bed until three in the morning watching VH-1. It actually worked in my favor that I did not have a job because I would have been useless at it. The court case dragged on for months and cost thousands of dollars.

Through the fall I worked frantically on my house in an attempt to get it ready to sell as my savings drained away. By the time I found the lump, I was planning to put it on the market because I would only be able to pay the mortgage through the end of the year. So I set out to beg Providence to allow me a visit at reduced or no cost. I went ahead and made the appointment, figuring it was best to find out regardless whether I ended up with a huge bill.

As I waited in the examination room after the nurse had left me to change into a paper gown, I felt again to see whether the lump was there. I remembered all the times before I had felt lumps only to have them disappear within days. It was still there and I was still not worried. The nurse came in and asked me why I was there. I described the lump. I described finding it. She asked me to lie back on the bed with my right arm above my head and proceeded to examine my right breast. As she made the examination she described what she was doing. The room was passionless and clinical. November sun streamed in, enhancing the cold, blue florescent light. It was chilly and I wanted my turtleneck back.

She began to examine my left breast, moving in large circles from far outside what I considered breast tissue, working her way in. She explained that this was necessary because breast tissue is present in the areas surrounding the breast and that lumps could form there. As she moved closer to the lump, I wondered whether she would find it too. I still thought it was nothing. She moved her fingers back and forth and back and forth across the spot. “Is this it?” she asked me. I told her that it was. She asked me if it hurt. I told her it had not initially, but my prodding the spot for days had left it feeling bruised. She completed her examination and had me sit up.

“It is likely nothing,” she informed me, “But I want to get a mammogram and ultrasound to be completely sure.” I asked her then if she knew whether I had been approved for Providence assistance because I did not have insurance. She didn’t know. As she entered my information into the computer and waited for a printout, she said she thought there were places I could get a mammogram for reduced cost. She wrote some names and numbers on a piece of paper and handed me the printout ordering the tests.

Later that day I called all of the numbers she had given me. I left messages at a few of the places and waited. The ones I spoke to had no help for someone under forty. This was the story everywhere I called. Do you know how difficult it is to get someone to talk to you about getting financial assistance for a mammogram when you are under forty? In spite of having a lump and a doctor who wanted to see it, no one wanted to talk to me because I wasn’t yet old enough. It was crazy. I complained to my friends about the mammogram thing. With all the lip service paid to “finding a cure” why the hell can’t we find out if someone under forty has breast cancer in the first place? No one had an answer for me.

A few days later, the nurse practitioner called me to ask if I had scheduled a mammogram. I had to admit that I hadn’t. When she wanted to know why, I explained about not having insurance and that Providence was stalling on my application for assistance because I had too little income. I told her that all the providers I had called about free mammograms would only give me one if I was over forty.

She asked if I had called the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. The what? No. I did not have that number and had not called. She gave me the number and the name of a specific person. She told me to call her and she was sure my age would not be an issue. I called and left a message and a short time later a kind woman called me back. She asked me some questions about my income and said it appeared I qualified for the program. She told me to fax over the order for a mammogram and ultrasound, and assuming all was in order, I could schedule a mammogram.

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) is run by the Centers for Disease Control. It provides access to breast and cervical cancer screening services and diagnostic testing when the tests are positive for women who are not insured or cannot afford care. According to the CDC’s website, Congress passed the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Act of 1990. This statute directs the CDC to offer these screening services, presumably to do just as its title suggests, prevent deaths from breast and cervical cancer. What a great idea–preventative care. Imagine that! Whether or not the program prevented my death can’t be said for certain because who knows what would have happened had I never gotten screened, but I am alive today and my cancer is “cured,” so it accomplished that much. At the very least my detection ended up being so early I was spared chemotherapy and more drastic surgery.

After gaining approval for services, I scheduled my mammogram and ultrasound. The medical center scheduled them for the same day, the ultrasound to follow the mammogram. They told me not to wear deodorant or perfume because it could mess up the mammogram. The mammography center was in the hospital in my town. The entrance was designed like so many hospitals today: photos of all the busy and important people on the board of directors, photos of past busy and important people, muted, earthy-colored carpets, printed statements letting us patients know just how much the hospital cares about us. I headed past some low-slung chairs and asked the woman at the information desk where to go. I had to fill out some paperwork in the mammography area, as well as give them the paperwork the nurse practitioner had given me ordering the tests be done. A short time later, the technician called my name.

I wondered then, as I did many time later, why is it that the medical professions require nurses, techs, and other medical helper-people to wear smocks that look like they were designed for six year olds? Are they keeping them ever prepared on the off chance a child might walk in and find comfort in the infantile patterns and colors? This theory doesn’t make much sense when the person wearing such a garment works in a place like the mammography center where the likelihood of a child patient is slim to none. Perhaps they want to subtly remind the adult patients that we are being cared for and should not only feel safe, but accept our care like good children. I don’t know. It baffles me.

In spite of the fact that her garment was more suited for a jaunt on a kindergarten playground, the technician who assisted me that day was wonderful. In fact, every mammogram technician I had throughout my entire cancer experience was wonderful. I don’t know if it’s that those kind of people are drawn to that kind of a job, or if they just love what they do, but as a group, every one of them who helped me was just so cool. They were professional and did their jobs, but all of them just seemed to enjoy having me as a patient and doing what they did.

Getting a mammogram is not an enjoyable experience. Yes, there are lots of worse things. I admit it. And complaining about mammograms seems rather silly considering how helpful they are. But seriously, why can’t they design a machine that is shaped in such a way that accommodates the rest of the body?

First they hold your breast and pull it out from your chest as far as possible, laying it on a plastic tray. At this point, you’re thinking things aren’t so bad. Then the tech steps on a little lever and that plastic tray rises up under your breast in a manner that leaves you thinking maybe they are trying to slowly tear it from your body. This requires a slightly balletic toe dance as a method of self-preservation. The tech then pushes another lever and another plastic tray lowers down and squashes your breast as flat as it will go as she asks how you’re holding up. Fine. Yes, fine. As long as I don’t tip over backwards, I may avoid an unplanned masectomy. She then decides that your arms and shoulders are in the way. Relax your shoulders. What, they aren’t relaxed? They feel relaxed to me. But apparently not because she presses them down hard with her palms.

At this point I was on my toes to keep my breast from feeling like it was being ripped off from the top, shoving my shoulders down, and feeling very nearly like I might tip over backwards. This led me to grasp wildly for a bar along the back of the machine. Oops, no! Can’t do that. Then what are the bars there for? To taunt me? Ack! I was allowed to hold the bar with one arm. That was a bit of a comfort anyway, until it became apparent that my head was in the way. Lean your head back. Lift your chin. Oh my god, I’m going to fall over backwards, I just know it, and rip off my tit in the process! I felt like someone who had fallen of the top of a very tall building and was holding on with one pinky. It was kind of funny when the tech went over to a computer screen to take the picture and told me not to breathe. Breathe? I hadn’t breathed since the top plastic flattened my breast into a neat pancake for fear of its being torn off! After repeating the process with the breast from a side angle, she left to speak to the radiologist. I sat there, topless, reading a book.

A short time later she came back and said they needed some more films, up higher, in my arm pit. We did the whole thing over again, only the squishing process was more difficult because there just isn’t much flesh there for the machine to grab. She would struggle to position me so she could film as far into my armpit as possible, go take the photo, shake her head, and begin again. Over and over she tried in vain to see whatever it was she was looking for in that armpit region. Several times she left to consult with the radiologist.

This wasn’t where the lump was at. This was something different. What were they looking for? Each time she left I would stare entranced at the moon shaded breast on the computer monitor. It really was lovely and looked exactly like a little lunar surface traced with spidery trenches and occasional clouds. Mammogrammed breasts are beautiful.

Finally, after an extended absence with the radiologist the technician returned and announced that they wanted to film another place, towards the center of my chest, in the top quadrant of my left breast towards the center. If the armpit was a struggle, getting breast tissue from my flat chicken chest was even worse. There just wasn’t anything there for the machine to grab ahold of. However, she must have managed because it only took a couple of tries before she and the radiologist were satisfied.

Time for the ultrasound. I redressed and followed the technician through the perfectly manicured halls to the room where I would undergo an ultrasound. Unlike the mammography center, this room was much more clinical. Where the mammography center was a cozy, welcoming place where everyone could sing Kumbaya together, the ultrasound room was like a large hospital room. The floors were the same industrial tile that had lined my elementary school, speckled grey things with the occasional navy blue tossed in for fun.

I was introduced to the ultrasound technician who requested I go into the attached bathroom and change into a gown, front open. Okay, I know I’m digressing yet again, but I have to wonder sometimes what makes them decide whether your gown opens to the back or to the front. There were times, like this one, where the opening to the front made sense. We’re aiming for the breast. It’s in front. Open to the front. No brainer. But other times I would be told to leave the gown open to the back, like later, during radiation. In either case, the gowns were so big I had to wrap the strings around my neck twice or hold the whole thing shut so I wouldn’t flash the planet.

I went back into the main room. A bed sat in the middle of the floor, the television monitor on which the ultrasound image would appear beside it. Another television was mounted on the wall over to the left, presumably so the person lying on the table could see the images available to the technician. I waited for a few moments and the ultrasound technician returned. She was a plain woman wearing the usual babyish outfit. She told me to lie down on the table with my arm above my head. As she instructed me how to lie on the table and moved the ultrasound wand in cold rotations over my breast, I attempted to make small talk with her. I asked her questions about her job, about the machine, about what she was looking at on the screen. After a few moments she told me the ultrasound machine was quite sensitive and that it did not work properly if I spoke. Basically, she was telling me to shut up. I lay there quietly for the next forty-five minutes while she took photographs of my breast.

Weeks later when I had another ultrasound, the technician chatted amiably during the entire procedure. I asked him whether the machine was so sensitive it would not work if I were speaking. He laughed and asked me what made me think I couldn’t talk. That first ultrasound technician was the crankiest person I encountered during my entire cancer experience, and really, she wasn’t that bad. She just didn’t want to talk to me. Throughout the entire process, all the nurses, all the staff, all the doctors were as kind and professional as they could possibly be. All of my doctors seemed to respect my education and explained things to me in great scientific detail, usually in response to my fairly detailed questions. None of them treated me paternalistically. None of them were ever rude or unkind. I have never in my life had an experience where every single person along the way was as pleasant as the medical staffs I encountered during my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. They were truly astounding.

A couple of days after these procedures, the nurse from Providence called to inform me that I needed to schedule an appointment with a surgeon because the films showed something questionable. She said the lump I found appeared harmless, but there were other questionable things on the film that would need to be biopsied. She told me to call the Breast and Cervical Cancer lady and let her know. Then she provided me with the names of a couple of surgeons. I thanked her and hung up.

Thus began my journey into cancer. For some reason, from that point on, I knew it was cancer, yet I was never afraid. I told my counselor more than once that I knew I had it before I actually got the results. I marveled that I could remain so calm. I analyzed my feelings constantly. Was there some hidden emotion of which I was not aware? Was I stuffing how I felt? No. I was simply not afraid. It was weird. It is now a year since I began radiation and I have not once had any kind of meltdown or delayed emotional reaction. The doctors explained everything, sometimes such textbook detail my eyes glazed over. I read books and information on the internet. I had nothing to fear.

It was during the radiation process that I began feeling like a fraud. I conceived the idea to write an article about my experience to show women that cancer could be less than they fear.  I spoke to so many who had were terrified when they were diagnosed, terrified through the process, then wondered later what they had been so afraid of. I have heard many more stories of women who did not go get checked because they were afraid they would have the disease, and because of the wait it was more progressed into a place that justified these fears. I began to believe that if I could show that cancer could be my experience rather than bloating, oozing, pain, and fear, maybe more people would get checked sooner and avoid the later stage diagnoses. So here I am, doing this, telling my story.

My radiation oncologist told me that every cancer for which there is a screening process, if detected early, the cancer is curable. He agreed that cases like mine should become the faces of cancer, not the scary death-filled stories. Too many people don’t get checked because they don’t want what they fear and unwittingly create a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am here to tell you, go anyway. Get checked. Make those mammogram and prostate appointments. Wear your sunscreen and check funny looking moles. If you have something and it is caught early, your experience could be less traumatic than the flu.

I have made a few posts about my breast cancer experience.  If you are interested in reading them, just check my categories section or do a search.

Needle Biopsy: Another Way to Say Punch in the Chest

I lucked out with cancer.  I really did.  First of all, I was not a rabid lump checker.  I remembered to do it every few months, usually in the shower.  I did not schedule a monthly visit with myself in between periods lying in my bed as is recommended.  I would be showering or getting dressed and remember to check.  It didn’t matter what time of the month it was.  I had been told that some times of the month are lumpier than others.  So when I felt the lump, I thought it was one of those hormonal lumps, the kind that go away.  This one didn’t, so I had it mammogrammed.  It turned out to be nothing, but the mammogram found cancer.  Very early, very curable cancer.

After my initial biopsy and once the diagnosis had been made, my surgeon re-evaluated the ultrasound results and felt further examination of the original lump was warranted, the lump that led me to a mammogram in the first place.  She called and explained that she just wanted to ensure the lump was nothing. She thought perhaps it was something benign, but thought it better to be safe than sorry. She said that in 99 percent of cases, the lumps were a kind of harmless benign tumor. Normally they do not even biopsy these types of tumors. However, considering I already had a known cancer, my risk was higher, so she wanted to be 100 percent certain.

She gave me the name of a radiologist and told me to schedule a needle biopsy. She wanted it done quickly, before my surgery at the end of the week. We were under the gun because we wanted to get my lumpectomy out of the way before Christmas. Otherwise I would likely have to wait until after the first of the year.   I called the new doctor’s office and scheduled the biopsy for later that afternoon. I was not nervous. I have never been afraid of needles.

The office was in a strip mall. I have to say, it was the strangest doctor’s office I have ever visited. It looked like part of the strip mall, like it should be a store or something. But I went in and it was just a doctor’s office, albeit with really high ceilings.  I remember the day was cool and bright. The sun was shining and even though I was wearing winter clothes, the day felt fresh because of the bright sun. I had the feeling again, walking into that office, that I did not feel like a cancer patient.  I think at that point I still thought somewhere down the line I would turn into more of a cancer patient. I would have these moments where I would stop and think to myself, “Hey, I’m still me. I’m just me with cancer.” It was so surreal. I thought I should feel different or look different or something, but certainly not my normal regular self. Even going into the doctor’s office, it just did not feel like I belonged there.

I sat in the waiting room. My name was called a short time later. The fellow who took me back was an ultrasound technician. He led me to the examination area and showed me a dressing room. He handed me a gown and explained that he would search first for the questionable lump. Then the doctor would come in and perform the procedure.

As with most of the doctor’s offices I encountered, the room was freezing. Why is it that public buildings have to have the air conditioning turned up so high? It’s worse in summer. It’s like because it’s hot outside, the inside has to be colder. Or maybe it is because in summer we’re wearing less clothes. I don’t know. All I know is that in most doctor’s offices, I freeze, and this one was no exception.

I lay on the table in the darkened room, my arms above my head, my chest exposed. The technician covered my breast with warm KY goo and began to rub the wand all over, looking for the lumps.  He asked me questions. He showed me the screen. He told me what he was looking for. He talked about the weather.

I thought this was weird. When I went in for the initial ultrasound back before I was diagnosed, the technician then had told me I could not talk. But this tech was downright chatty, and he seemed to want to include me in the conversation.

I finally asked him, “Are we allowed to talk?” He looked at me strangely, laughed, and said, “Sure. Why not?”  I realized then that my previous technician was probably really just wanted me to shut up. Oh well.

After the technician found what he was looking for, he marked my boob with a Sharpie pen, turned on the light, and left to go get the doctor. I lay there, freezing, ruminating on lying there and freezing. Going to doctors for tests entails a lot of waiting around. Waiting in the waiting room. Waiting in the examination room. Waiting after changing clothes. Waiting with my breast on a mammogram machine. Waiting with slimy goo rapidly turning cold all over my chest.

The doctor came in and introduced himself. A shorter, slight man, he was friendly and talkative, and clearly able to do his job. He looked things over with the technician and the two discussed what they were seeing and where they were planning to biopsy, but he did not forget I was in the room with him, periodically explaining what the two of them were doing.

He finally put down the wand and briefly explained what my surgeon had already told me. She was concerned about the lumps seen on the original ultrasound and wanted a biopsy. They were going to insert a needle into the lumps and extract some of the tissue to analyze and determine whether the cells were cancerous.

To call the needle on the needle biopsy tool a needle is like calling a stalk of corn grass. The thing was huge! After the fact, I would tell people I had a straw biopsy.  The doctor told me he would insert the “needle” into my breast. He would then push a button and I would hear a series of pops, and feel pounding. Because the procedure was somewhat invasive, I would be getting a shot to numb the area. Afterwards, he said I would probably feel like I had been punched.

They were not kidding. I felt worse after the needle biopsy than I felt after any procedure during the entire process.  Nothing, neither surgery, the MRI, the CAT scan, or radiation left me hurting as much as that damn needle biopsy.  How weird is that?

Luckily the biopsy confirmed what my surgeon thought in the first place.  The lumps were benign.  My surgeon ended up removing them when she went in and got the cancer because it was easy for her to do so, but thank goodness, they were nothing.

My Refrigerator is Naked

Every third day or so there is a post on the frontpage of WordPress about white people and what they do.  I know they are supposed to be funny.  I am sure there is some truth to the witty observations about the white people subjects, although it is obvious that the group chosen is not typical to the area where I live or my social class because I have never met anyone who embodies the characteristics the blog author talks about, although I admit I didn’t read very many of them.  I read enough to know I wasn’t interested in reading more than a few.  Inherent in the posts is the social commentary at writing about white people in a stereotypical manner after so many centuries of stereotypes about other races and groups.  It’s kind of an interesting idea.

The thing is, I don’t think the posts are in any way funny.  Or annoying.  Or brilliant.  Or anything.  I read through the comments and person after person went on and on about how the writer has exactly captured the subjects (Whoever they are.  They aren’t like any white people I’ve ever met, although I do admit though that my experiences are limited and dull.).  They say that the posts are hilarious.  Others go on and on about how annoying they are, how stupid, blah blah blah. Whatever it is, a bunch of people are reading this stuff and commenting on it and I just don’t get it.  I just don’t.  I never thought Seinfeld was funny, but I could see why people would, I just couldn’t stand most of the characters.  But this.  I’m at a loss.

So my refrigerator is naked.  Some might think this is euphemism for my having no food, but it’s not.  I had to take all the stuff off of the front of it so people coming to look at my house who might want to buy it don’t stop and look at the things on my fridge but look at the house instead.  I go into the kitchen to get some grapes or make an egg and the refrigerator shocks me, all white and obvious.  It’s been covered for years now by all the crap I swore I wouldn’t have on my fridge before I had a daughter who wrote me notes telling me she loves me and drew five dollar bills.  Where else am I going to put that stuff?  I love her drawings.  I love her love notes to me.  She draws pictures of us holding hands then writes “I Love You, Mama” across the top.  How cute is that?  And once Milla was old enough to figure out that is where I hung stuff from her, she started hanging things there herself.

In fact, just yesterday, she hung up a note right at eye level so I could see it.  It said:  3-4-08  1) Go to the libaraery.  2) Watch Lady and the Cheramp.  3) Go to Starbucks.  4) Lara takes a nap, Milla watches c.cl.m.cw.t.t. (this last stands for Click, Clack Moo, Cows that Type).  It is spelled just like this and written in Milla’s atrocious handwriting.  I admit it.  My daughter has the worst handwriting in the world.  But she is smart enough to leave me misspelled notes explaining exactly how she wants our evenings to proceed, and thoughtful enough to include a provision allowing me to take a nap.  She is so smart and funny and perfect.  Of course I’m going to leave her notes on the refrigerator.

Or not.  When I looked at the web site showing photos of our house, the ones of the fridge do look pretty bad, so when my real estate agent said I should take the stuff down, I begrudgingly agreed.  It’s sad.  But of course I saved all of Milla’s wonderful notes and drawings.

Maybe I can do a white person post of my own, since I’m white, I can comment on the experiences of white people.  (Well, at least on this one white person, or two if I include Milla.)  White people cover their refrigerators with their child’s drawings and notes.  The children of white people are thoughtful, smart, and wonderful.  When the real estate agent tells them to take the stuff off the refrigerator, white people do so because they want to sell their house, but they save the stuff their children created.  After removing the creativity from the front of the refrigerator, when white people walk into the kitchen to get some grapes, the refrigerator seems naked in its glaring whiteness.

There. That was about as bland as the white people posts on the front page of WordPress.  And at least this time I can relate.

Fah Fah Away

030.jpgTomorrow morning my darling 1920 bungalow goes up for sale.  Once it is sold and Milla is done with school for the year I want to move far, far away from this city of unrequited love, toxic workplaces, illness, and too much unhappiness.  I loved Portland but it did not love me.

I have a friend who has had one thing after another after another after another happen to her here.  She wants to leave as well, but she told me she is worried somewhere else might be just as bad.  I told her if somewhere else is just as bad, then she wouldn’t have anything different, and it could very likely be better.  If it’s worse, well…  I guess I just figure I need to try.  Portland and I have worn out our welcomes on each other.

I am a tidy person, so it was not much difficult getting the place looking spiffy so I can sell it.  I touched up paint and finished some long overdue projects.  Today I spruced up the outdoors.  Luckily the weather has been quite springlike so it was easy to get things done.  I actually mowed the lawn for the first time this year.  I planted some flowers in pots that have been empty all winter.  I swept and blew with the leaf blower.  The house actually is quite lovely.  I will be sad to see it go.  Too bad I cannot pick it up and put it in another city.

So Unbelievable

 

My daughter likes box elder bugs. They are these harmless beetle things that only live for about a week. They have red stripes on their back and they fly, their wings little red capes whirring behind them in flight, kind of like little insectian super heroes.  They enjoy warmth, so they hang out in windows and places with heat. They do not bite. They do not sting. The do not emit smelly odors. They do not eat houseplants. They do not do anything whatsoever that harms humans or their dwellings. The biggest complaint about box elder bugs is that they like to come in the house where it is warm, and who can blame them? box-elder.jpg

I did a google search on box elder bugs for my daughter. She loves the things. They are fairly prolific around here in the fall and spring while it’s still warm but not terribly hot. She fills her pockets with them. I told her I was writing about her and box elder bugs and she said, “Oh, I haven’t played with them in a while, cute little things.” That should give you some idea of Milla’s persuasion towards box elder bugs.

Imagine my surprise then to learn that most sites about box elder bugs deal with how to kill them. They are called pests for wanting to come inside. One site listed some nasty poisons a person can use for box elder elimination, including bifenthrin (possible human carcinogen), cyfluthrin (moderate acute toxicity and suspected endocrine disruptor), deltamethrin (a neurotoxin that attacks the nervous system), lambda cyhalothrin (moderate acute toxicity and suspected endocrine disruptor), permethrin (highly toxic to fish and cats), and tralomethrin (effects include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, fatigue, and in severe cases, seizures may develop).  All of these insecticides are toxic poisons and can harm humans, sometimes even in smaller quantities. Many of them are quite harmful to the animals we share our lives with, as well as those we would rather avoid. What I find so unbelievable is that people would bring toxic chemicals into their homes, spray them, spread them, breathe them, rather than share their space with a harmless insect that does nothing except try to get warm and dies in under a week anyway.  Where is the sense in that?

When I was in law school, Milla’s father and I were still together. We wanted to buy our own house.  We took the advice of a well-meaning, but misguided friend who assisted us in making this purchase. She owned a wealthy home-building company whose clients consisted mainly of older, usually conservative people with lots of money. We did not take our lifestyle into account whatsoever when we took her advice to build our own house as far as possible from the center of town in a suburb.

What a mistake.  We ended up in this country suburb.  As is often the case in these developments, it was named for what it had been:  Big Meadow. The meadow was gone and in its place were stepford houses in limited shapes and sizes, with perfectly manicured lawns and neutral paint, as required by the unrelenting neighborhood regulations. We did not last long there. I quickly realized I was not suited for this. I needed a house to fix up, and since ours was brand new, there wasn’t a lot to do to it. I needed plants to love. We gave the house our love, built a fence and a dog run, but we simply did not fit in. The neighbors brought us proselytizing literature on a weekly basis.  Every visit to the store provided an invitation to our auto windshield to attend a local church play. We were one of only a handful of families who recycled.  Basically, we were major sore thumbs.

Our immediate next door neighbors were especially different from us. The main thing about them that I remember is that on periodic afternoons the woman of the house had her teenage sons out in the yard and driveway with square-nosed shovels to search for garter snakes to kill. She did not want them anywhere near her home. Since her house backed up to the edge of what had been the big meadow the neighborhood obliterated, garter snakes were frequently in evidence. After her sons killed a sufficient number of garter snakes, she would spread poison all over her yard to kill insects. She would kill the harmless garter snakes that would have eaten the insects and chose instead to cover her yard in toxic chemicals.  Insane.

I am constantly amazed at the irrationality of human beings. I am certain that irrational behaviors are likely part of my makeup simply because I am human. I would like to think though, that most of my ridiculousness isn’t destroying the planet.  I hope not. I can hear it now how someone just doesn’t like the legs on bugs. Spiders give them the creeps. They don’t like the “idea” of something coming into their bed. So they’ll spread toxic chemicals all over their house and lawn to rid themselves of “pests.” At least the chemicals aren’t creepy and crawly.

I find it ironic that acts of compassion and kindness are considered humane, as if placing the name of homo sapiens on such behavior distinguishes us from other creatures on earth. Yet the only thing that really distinguishes humanity is our ability to systematically annihillate ourselves and our planet because of silly things like insect legs or the possibility that another creature might come into our beds. I just don’t get it. Perhaps a better definition for humane would be anything except compassion and kindness since our race seems hell bent on destroying this place we call home. At least we can say that while we were on our way out we didn’t have to share our lives with the box elder bugs.

The Corporate Addiction Palace Has My Number

Yep.  It’s on speed dial.  LARA!  It calls. Come on down here for a bit.  You know you want to.  Stop writing and web surfing and come on down.  We’ve got a yummy chai tea waiting right here for you.  Oh, it’s not that expensive and you know you want it.  Imagine that warm feeling running through your veins.  Imagine the clarity in your head once the drug bathes those neurons.  Imagine all the fantastic things you’ll want to do and accomplish under the influence of the drug.  Mmmm, now isn’t that nice?  Don’t you want it?  You know you do.

I can’t do big caffeine.  A diet coke sends me into shivers for hours, I’m that much of a caffeine lightweight.  But my brain has most certainly made full use of the small amount I imbibe on a daily basis, spreading it around to all parts.  It might be thin, but it covers.

Okay, non-sequitur here, but human bodies have some aspects to them that are just so yucky.  I know it’s a marvel of engineering design and all that, but some things like mucous…yuck.  And farts.  What is that, Mother Nature’s sense of humor?  Something sent to remind us we aren’t busy and important?  And other things I won’t mention.  Gag.  I just had to point this out.  Yech.

One other pointless rant.  Windows.  You click on something and nothing happens and it gives you a nice message that says, Such and Such is Not Responding.  No fucking kidding?  I couldn’t fucking tell when I clicked on it 800 times and nothing happened.  The stupid message makes me want to throw the computer more than the fact the damn program froze.  Piece of crap.  Some Microsoft techie created that message just because s/he knew it would put people into fits.  They’re having fun at our expense.  I know it.

Black and White and Grey all Over

So the lady who wrote me about the girl who was mean to me in junior high and I had a little chat via email over a few days. I actually enjoyed chatting with her. She seems nice. Anyway, I kept thinking about that time in my life, maybe because my brother is living with me for the time being and I think about childhood, I don’t know. One thing I have thought a lot about was what kind of a kid I was back then, especially from about age 12 to age 14. Looking back, I still don’t think I like who I was. I know there are all these self-help growth books blah blah blah that tell us to go back and love our inner child and embrace that kid who felt so rotten about herself.

Whatever. I don’t mean to be dismissive when a person needs that, but for me, what a load of crap. I could perhaps feel some compassion for the kid who was picked on and whose stepfather had turned out to be mean instead of loving and possibly even for the big dork that I was as I tried to navigate through junior high, hormones, and popularity. But in some ways I was exactly like the mean girls, just trying to survive. Funny what humans will do when they think it will buy them some control.

I watch movies like Mean Girls, where the main characters come to the realization that they are selfish and shitty and shallow, and it’s great that this is how it comes to be for them. But in my life, I was not as enlightened. I decided not to be friends with Sandra Gordon based solely on the fact that the other girls I wanted to be friends with termed her a “scumbag.” I purposely pulled away from her for no other reason than that. I wanted to be included with more popular people and if that meant dumping Sandra, then I did it, even while the even more popular girls were picking on me.

And later I stopped being friends with Dee Roberts for the simple reason that I heard others thought we were gay, and I did not want anyone to think that. So stupid. So shallow. It was years before I grew any sort of personal backbone, years before I quit giving a shit what other people think and standing on my own. Luckily Dee and I have some friends in common so as adults we were able to reconnect.

I look back now and am amazed at my ability to cut my friendships off with such precision. Perhaps we would have grown apart anyway, but I will never know that because when I decided that I was not going to be friends with someone anymore, that was the end of the friendship. Thinking on it now, maybe some of that ability was just the age. I had friends who cut me off with the same sharp capacity when they saw me as a hindrance to their own popularity. Friends one minute, not friends the next.

I followed my friends Rae and Wendy around like a puppy, begging them to love me. Especially Rae. She was my best friend, in my eyes, but I wasn’t hers. I was there for her, but she wanted Shawna Peterson. And at some point Shawna Peterson decided that she hated me. So if Rae was hanging out with Shawna then she was not hanging out with me.  I guess I can hardly blame her.  In eighth grade all my friends had braces.  I had perfectly straight teeth.  So one day I wore tin foil to school.  I told Rae the dentist made me do it.  Seriously.  I did this.  Is it any wonder few people wanted me near them?

Rae never openly told me not to let anyone know I was her friend, but she did not hang out with me at school. I hung out with Sandra Gordon until Rae and Wendy told me I shouldn’t, then I didn’t hang out with anyone. Those years in junior high were utterly hopeless, utterly miserable. Then I went home and life there sucked too.

I wonder where the kids with a backbone get the backbone. In movies, the left out child that the others bully comes back with a vengeance, kicking ass and proving their inner strength. Often the bullies realize that they don’t have to be so mean either. In my real life, I did not have any such inner strength. I hated myself. I think I believed them.

Occasionally I would stand up for myself, but I was fucking scared to death of it. One time on the bus, a torture chamber if there ever was one, these girls put gum in my hair. They were perfect. They had perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect makeup. And they hated my guts, just because I wore the wrong clothes, the wrong hair, wore no makeup, and probably looked like I was waiting to be kicked. I told the bus driver. She told me to put gum in their hair the next day. I waited, planning to do so, but scared shitless to actually go through with it. I ended up just putting gum on the pants of the girl who instigated it all. I don’t think she even noticed.

Another time, the bus driver made me get off early and walk to my house. I was pissed. So I hid in the bushes in front of my house and when she drove by, I threw gravel at the bus. She pulled it over, brakes screeching. I hightailed it into the house and hid. My sister Melanie wouldn’t let her in. I think I got written up, but I don’t remember. Funny, that bus driver was a friend and an enemy. Mostly I did not like her. She let a lot happen on the bus that shouldn’t have.

It is also interesting that when I would stand up for myself and not chicken out, I was ruthless, kind of like with cutting off my friends. Where is that? Where does it come from, that ruthlessness? That ability to be so cold? I just don’t know. But I could do it. Maybe it’s that survival instinct, that belief in some control.

The main person able to incur my wrath without fear was Kim Dawson, Melanie’s friend. She hated me and I hated her. I don’t recall why. But she was constantly after me. The first time I fought back, I had gotten on the bus wearing purple cropped pants before they were in fashion. I think I just wore them because I liked them but had outgrown the length. As was typical in those days, I did not have a lot of clothes and my parents would not buy what was in fashion. My mom tried making me some pants like the other girls wore, but it didn’t make me popular. Nothing could have, I don’t think.

Anyway, Kim asked me if I was waiting for a flood. When she went to get off the bus, I stuck my foot out into the bus aisle as she walked by, smearing mud on her pants. She was pissed. She pulled my hair when I got off the bus. I pulled hers. The bus driver pulled us apart. We both got written up.

Then another time, the bus was really crowded. I sat in a seat near the front with a little boy. She was in the seat directly behind me. She leaned forward and made some comment about me and the little boy. I reached back and slapped her in the face. She grabbed my hair. I kept hitting her until she let go of my hair. I think we may have gotten written up then too.

Funny, I was written up three times in junior high, but all three times were so far apart that each time, the principal said since it was the only time I’d been written up, he’d let it go at that. Makes me laugh.

The final time I fought with Kim, I beat the crap out of her. I was twelve years old. She was at our house with my sister. The two were nagging me, picking at me, egging me on. Finally, Kim said something to me that I do not remember now. I jumped her. I sat on her and hit her. Melanie screamed. I finally got up and that was the last time Kim bugged me, but we hated each other to death.

Luckily for me, Rae hated Kim too, so we would order pizzas to her house and make hair appointments for her at salons in town. This was in the days before caller id and all that tracking. We knew her address and phone number so it was easy. Later, she got a boyfriend who was a really big dork, and Rae and Wendy would tease Kim about him. I just joined as a watcher. I loved it because I still hated Kim.

I can’t believe now that I got in hitting fights. Actually, my fights with Kim were the only fights I’ve ever had where hitting was involved. And mine wasn’t one of those situations where I saw open violence at home all the time or anything. Our home was filled with the stealthy kind of violence, like a gaseous poison that oozes through the walls; words laced with hate, looks of vile hatred, screaming matches between parents while children hid in their rooms, doors slammed. Except when I would get hit for doing something, which was somewhat infrequent, we didn’t witness hitting or slapping like some of my friends did. My fighting with Kim came from my own inner capacity to whack someone. I don’t know where she got hers.

Funny, I read back through this and it’s as though I’ve unintentionally continued the same theme that permeates all my posts lately: nothing is black and white, human behavior is mostly directed by an illusion of control or an attempt to garner control. Like I said, it has not been intentional. It just keeps coming up. Maybe there is some deep dark purpose behind this, but more likely it is just that these are central themes in human behavior and I happen to be noticing them in my attempt to reach a point. I don’t know. I do know that I’ve been writing for a hour now and my daughter is irritated at me because she wants to go bike riding and she says I “always write” and she can’t understand it. She wants me to stop and focus on her. So that is what I will do. Maybe I’ll have to show her the scene at the end of the movie Stand By Me where the dad is writing and his son who has obviously been waiting and waiting comes in and asks him when they are finally going to leave and the dad says in a minute. Then the boy turns and tells his friend his dad gets like that when he writes. See Milla? I’m not the only one.

Breaking My Addiction

greg.jpgI am addicted to listening to Greg Laswell’s Through Toledo cd.  Over and over and over and over.  I keep finding new meaning in the words.  The music has carved a groove in my brain.  I can separate out each instrument in every song and hear them individually.  I’ve done this before with other musicians, his just happens to be the one for right now. The words fit.

So today I’m trying to break the addiction.  I want to click on that album in my player so bad.  Instead I pick something else.  I went back to John Mayer.  For a while he was the musician of the moment.  I played some plain jazz.  Before that it was Irving Berlin.  Then in a couple of days when I go back to Greg it will be like seeing a lover after a few days.  It will be great.