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The Gift I’m Not Pushing

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Dateline: Friday July 27, Cinemark Theatres complex. I’d been in Tacoma since Tuesday, visiting daughter Belle, helping her out after she’d had foot surgery the previous week, and I was feeling lousy. The cold/fever virus which was plaguing MH apparently hitchhiked with me, and by Friday morning I felt like a cheap retread tire left on the side of a highway. But I had promised Belle a movie of her choice, in a theatre with Comfy Chairs –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No not that kind, the “Luxury Loungers” –  those roomy cinema seats with reclining backs and elevating footrests– perfect for Belle’s recovering-from-surgery, boot-encased foot.

After our movie was over,  [1] Belle and I were among the last to leave our theatre, what with her navigating on crutches. Thus, we were privy to the poignant sight of another couple exiting the theatre across the hall, where Dunkirk was playing.  A petite elderly woman, clutching the arm of an older-than-me-but-much-younger-than-her man, was trying but failing to stifle her emotions. She was overcome by wracking sobs. Movie patrons from both theatres quickly gave her and the man space and privacy, the patrons flashing looks of sympathy as they passed the couple by.

As Belle and I headed for the restrooms, I rummaged through my purse to retrieve a packet of travel-sized tissues. “Please, wait here for me,” I said to Belle. “I have to go back.”

I found the woman and her companion, whom I took to be her son, standing next to the theatre hall wall. The woman was leaning against the wall for support and the man had his hand on her shoulder.

“Excuse me; may I?” I extended the packet of tissues toward her. She accepted them with a look of gratitude, and I indicated the theatre from whence she’d come.

“You just saw ‘Dunkirk?’ “

She reached out and clutched my forearm, her grip surprising me with its strength. “I didn’t know it would affect me like this,” she gasped.

I nodded, smiled, and said softly, “You’re British?” It wasn’t really a question I was posing; I was confirming what I suspected.

Her voice quavering, she replied that yes, she had lived in London as a girl – lived through the bombings, through it all.

 

 

 

Britgirl

 

 

 

She began to talk about the movie, and the memories it had brought back.

“It is such a powerful story,” I said, “and sadly, one that few Americans seem to know about. But, maybe now that will change.”

She told me that as much as she was surprised by how much she was reliving those times, her tears were also tears of joy, to see the “rows of teenagers” sitting in the theatre. She was pleased to see young people watching such a movie; perhaps, she said, they would learn something new about the times back then, and have something different to aspire to, “…especially in this world, where things, where leaders, are so…” she wavered, “so mean, and nasty, and cruel…”

“And you are remembering bravery, and a time of service and honor,” I offered.  She nodded, dabbing at her eyes with the tissues. I told her to please keep the tissue packet, and thanked her for sharing her memories with me.

Her son had remained silent, gazing down at his mother with an expression of utmost love and tenderness, while she spoke. He patted her arm and thanked me for “coming back.” I told him that I had to…and then it was my time to struggle with how to put my feelings into words:

…because we’re all human, going through this world together.

And as I was returning to where I’d left Belle I realized I was grateful that neither the woman nor her son had asked me what movie I’d just seen. I still don’t know how I would have answered, had they done so. Would I have tried to deflect from the fact that while they were being blown away by the heart-rending reality of Dunkirk, I was squirming through the raunchy, nonstop booty/fuck-fest joke-filled Girls Trip?

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s A New Community In Town, And They’re Nuts

 

Opening ad in a Live From the Poundstone Institute, [2] podcast:

“Support for this podcast…comes from Almond Board of California. Did you know that the almond community generates more than one hundred thousand jobs in ….”

Not only did I not know about the job generation, I had no idea there was an almond community…in California or anywhere else.   Almonds grow on trees, so I figured there are almond orchards, and therefore a certain critical mass of almond growers, pickers, and packers and shippers…. But the community thing has thrown me. I just can’t picture it.

 

 

 

almondjpg

The Mayor of the Almond Community considers the upcoming Town Hall Meeting agenda.

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Department Of You Had Me Until The WTF?!?! Part

Got a new cookbook, and was enjoying perusing the recipes until I read the author’s [3]  comments on a chard-red bean-peanut stew:

“This is one of my favourite foods to eat on a cold, autumn day…”

Okay; stop, right there. Add a period after day and you’re fine. But noooooooooooo, she had to insert a comma, and….

“This is one of my favourite foods to eat on a cold, autumn day, while wearing a cosy, knitted jumper.”

 

 

confused lady

 

 

Apparently, this is Yet Another Thing About Which I Am Both Unaware And Unimpressed ® . Enhance your appreciation of your meal – perhaps even increase its nutrient density – by wearing the right outfit?

 

Also – a knitted jumper? A garment which is flattering to Cabbage patch dolls no one ever?  I feel like putting on my Mom Voice ® and advising the author, Honey, you may feel cozy cosy, sitting at the kitchen table dressed in your knitted jumper but you look like an ottoman. There, there now, dry your eyes and have some yummy chard stew.

 

 

ottoman

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Department Of You’ve Got To Be Fucking Kidding

When I read the letter to the Dear Abby column, I thought I must be hallucinating. It’s the fever (from the previously mentioned virus) I reassured myself. Then the next day, when the fever had abated, I saw the same letter, in the same DA column, in another newspaper. It was from a husband seeking advice from DA. Husband and dad-to-be was concerned about being able to afford to give his pregnant wife a “push gift.” Which (until I read further   [4]) I had no idea what it was, or that it was even a thing.

Concerned Dad-to-be made no attempt to confront or reject this supposed tradition, but just meekly wondered if it was indeed a thing, and if so, how can he do it when he and his wife are tapped out financially?

 

 

 

alfienshock

Is this the galaxy’s most vile tradition, or what?

 

 

 

Now.  I have a husband. I have been a pregnant wife. I have heard of many strange customs (most of them religion-related or mandated) related to the social milestones of marriage and childbirth, ranging from the odd (Bundling or Tarrying[5]) to the shocking (Indian Baby-Tossing [6] ) to the stupid and potentially dangerous (The Tidong Bathroom Ban  [7] ). But I’d never heard of this push gift, which for many reasons strikes me as one of the more ultimately distasteful “traditions.”

I received no push gift after the birth of son K, nor three years later, when I Tarzan-yelled daughter Belle into this world.

 

 

 

 

It is fortunate that no wretched fool had gotten a hold of MH and convinced him that such a thing was necessary. If I had been given some bauble presented as a push gift it is highly likely I would have told MH where to push it.

And what about father and labor partner extraordinaire MH, who never left my side during my 13 hour hospital labor with our first child, even though, as MH confessed after the delivery, he really, really, really had to pee?  [8]  Should I have gotten him a holding-it-in gift?

And the name – push gift?

 

 

REALLY

 

Yeah, really?

Thank you honey, for your sacrifice in bringing our child into the world and thereby ruining your anatomy. I know your vagina and pelvic floor continence will never be the same again – here’s a charm bracelet.

And does this “tradition” not apply to women who are unable or do not have to push out their babies– i.e., those who undergo C-sections? Or do they get a runner-up trinket?

 

 

crackerjack

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May we remember we go through life together with our fellow humans;
May you tell the well-meaning but clueless humans where to push their push gifts;
May you remember that friends don’t let friends wear knitted jumpers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Praaaaaaaaaaaise de lawd when it was indeed over. It made me feel so uncomfortable…I’ll just say this: is a movie still pandering to stereotypes if a member of the group being stereotyped freely participates in it? I can’t imagine a white production team getting away with Girls Trip.

[2] A show with the inspiring mission “to gather all of the world’s knowledge,” or, as host Poundstone puts it, “to get less stupid, one topic at a time.”

[3] Brit, as you may notice re the spelling of certain words.

[4] A push gift is a present, often but not always an expensive item of jewelry, given by the husband to the wife on the occasion of her giving birth to their child.

[5] Bundling, aka, tarrying, is..oh, look it up if you’re interested.

[6] A centuries-old ritual in certain Indian towns in the first week of December, wherein babies (from both Hindu and Muslim families – this is interfaith idiocy) are tossed from a temple tower onto a cloth, held by men standing below the tower, and then the babies are passed to their mother. ..

[7] wherein tradition in the Indonesian Tidong community mandates newlyweds must not defecate or urinate for three days after the wedding, lest they bring bad luck upon their marital union

[8] And there was a bathroom, right in the room where I labored. I told him that was so sweet – his staying by my side – but  frankly, had our positions been reversed, I would have left for a minute to pee and he could have done so (like during one of the man times when my eyes were squinted shut and I was yelling invectives) without my noticing.

The Reality I’m Not Dreaming

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Department Of Been There Done That…
(And Done It Poorly)

I washed my car last Saturday.

 

 

cheering crowds

 

 

Thank you.

I mean hand washed it – something I have not done in years. Clarification: my car is a little over six months old, so I haven’t done or not done anything to that car in years. I meant, it’s been years since I’ve hand-washed any car we’ve had.

Not to imply my car resembles a college dorm room – far from it. I regularly and thoroughly clean and vacuum out the inside of whatever car I’m driving, but when it comes to the outside, I run it through the local car wash, and I urged family members to do the same.  Commercial car washes use less water than home-washing, and treat and recycle the water they use, and when we wash our cars at home, in the driveway, the runoff soapy water goes into the sewer and ends up in the rivers. So, by patronizing a car wash I am being a good citizen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…no, really, THAT’S THE ONLY REASON I DO IT….  It’s not that I’m lazy.

Anyway, so I hand washed my car.  And now, I am so over that.  Forget the eco warrior consciousness [1] pretensions – having not done it for years, I’d forgotten what a mind-numbingly tedious task it is. I’d also apparently forgotten what shoddy results are obtained when a car is washed by moiself.

 

 

dirty car

It looked a little better than this when I was done.

 

 

 

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Department Of Why I Am In Tacoma
And Thus By Extension Or Implication, Why This Blog Is So Relatively  Lame Short

 

Belle had foot surgery.

I’m doing the Mom Thing ® , helping out with errands and taking her to her post surgery appointment. Most importantly, I am helping my daughter come up with some better-than-the-truth [2]  stories for her to emit in response to the inevitable, what-happened-to-you? queries she receives when people, from friends to strangers in the grocery store, get a look at her snazzy boot & crutches combo.

 

 

Blleboot

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Last Friday I had a very vivid, unusual dream, where in Senator John McCain, yes, he of the recently diagnosed glioblastoma,was giving a speech.

Vivid dreams are the norm for moiself; stylistically, they tend to be more Dali than documentary.  What was unusual was the tone or setting for the dream: it was total realism – cinema vérité, as opposed to my typical night reveries which start out with plausible scenarios and quickly morph into Cecil B. DeMille goes Dada, cast-of-thousands spectacles. If the particular dream to which I refer had unfolded according to my “usual” REM reveries, at some point jars of peanut butter would have suddenly appeared out of the proverbial nowhere and flipped open in front of the podium where McCain was speaking, and Carmen Miranda and a chorus line of bare-chested Brazilian boy toys would have popped out of the jars and joined McCain on stage.

 

 

 

carmen

Mccain

Whom would you rather hear give a stirring political address?

 

 

 

So. I had a dream that Senator John McCain rose to the occasion. Sen. McCain still wore the bandages from the recent operation which revealed his brain tumor, at a press conference where he gave the speech of his – of any politician’s – life.

Sen. McCain spoke of treasuring his lucidity while it was still present, and of how his biggest disappointment was not of his impending death, but of leaving public service at a time when the delusional ethics and behavior of the current administration were more mind-scrambling than any hallucinations a brain tumor would likely produce. He announced his retirement from politics, and gave an impassioned call to action to his fellow senators and to the American people to demand the resignation and/or impeachment of Trump and Pence, citing Section 4of the 25th Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution).  His last request was that he could retire in peace, live his remaining days with his family, secure in the knowledge that the country was not in the hands of a madman and his lap dogs.

And then, I woke up.

 

 

*   *   *

May certain of your most vivid dreams soon become reality;
May you never lack for entertaining responses to what-happened-to-you? queries;
May you know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em;   [3]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] If I were really a warrior fanatic in that regard I probably wouldn’t’ have a car.

[2] Since the reality – corrective surgery for a bunion – is not nearly so entertaining as, “This guy was about to stomp on some puppies so I kicked him in the teeth and now the puppies are safe but the would-be-stomper’s teeth got imbedded in my foot…”

[3] Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. And yes, that KR song reference is apropos of nothing, and frankly, I’m embarrassed that the song just popped into my mind as I was trying to end this post. Must have been a tangent from thinking about brain tumors.

The Beer I’m Not Buying

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Department Of Except That It Was

Another week, another celebrity demise, another chance for everyone to get it wrong. But not in the way most people think.

I refer to friends and former coworkers of Erin Moran (best known for playing Joanie on Happy Days), who received a bit o’ splash back for their comments after her death. Some of the comments either directly mentioned or alluded to the actor’s well-known struggles with substance abuse as the likely cause of her death.

Indeed, the rush to remark upon and speculate about a famous person’s death is worthy of a modicum of scorn. It seems celebs often Twitter-trip over themselves to see who can be the first to express condolences and…opinions.  If, for whatever reasons, you feel the world needs your commentary within hours of the death notice, can you just say to her family and friends that you’re sorry for their loss, and leave it at that?

There’s more to the story. In my mind, at least. When it was revealed that Moran had been diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer, the self-righteous gotcha! critics took aim at the self-righteous she-died-from-substance-abuse speculators:  Aha! Shame on you! It was cancer, it wasn’t drugs!

Except that it was.

There’s more ways to die from substance abuse or drug overdose or to have a drug-related death than by choking on your own vomit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of this writing, it appears that Moran died from throat cancer. Throat cancer is one of many cancers caused by cigarette smoking. Moran was a longtime cigarette smoker.

Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, DeeDee Ramone, Philip Michael Hoffman, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley – we’ve all heard or seen the list of hundreds if not thousands of musicians and actors, politicians and reporters and others in the public eye who’ve died of drug overdose/substance abuse.

George Harrison‘s name never appears on those lists, and that frosts my butt.

The Beatles’ lead guitarist and far too many of his comrades died from their chronic use of arguably the most powerful addictive substance – nicotine – known to humanity. However, their names do not appear in the annual toll of drug/substance abuse deaths.

Also not appearing on those lists: Yul Brynner, Spencer Tracey, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Peter Jennings, Desi Arnaz, Humphrey Bogart, Rosemary Clooney, Bob Fosse, Warren Zevon, Sarah Vaughn, and the other musicians, actors and artists who died from lung cancer and other cigarette-related diseases.  Is it because their deaths were due to their addiction to a toxin which happens to be legal?  [1]

 

 

cig

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Department of Prom Dress Rugby

Because how much fun is that?

 

 

 

Last weekend  MH and I made a road trip up to Tacoma, to visit daughter Belle,  [2]  who lives in a rental house off-campus. As always during our visits with her  [3]  we found an excuse to go onto the college campus, such as:

(1)  it is a beautiful campus, so who needs an excuse?

(2)  to view and/or participate in Some Interesting Event ®

(3)  see reason (1)

(4)  there is no reason (4)

In the case of (2), Some Interesting Event ® turned out to be Belle’s (former) rugby teammates suiting up for their annual Prom Dress Rugby match. A tradition amongst many college women’s – and some men’s – rugby teams, a PDR match is pretty much what it sounds like. The women get decked out in formal finery (worn over their usual game uniforms) and play serious rugby…or as serious as you can be while charging up the pitch with your feather boa dangling behind you or trying not to grind your tiara in your teammate’s ass during a scrum.

Referees of any gender – and often the men’s rugby team members, in solidarity – also don the festive attire (I imagine thrift shop owners local to colleges with PDR events are pleased at the spike in used formal wear sales).  Sometimes PDR events are mixed gender: not quite the Battle of the Sexes, more like The Battle Of Tuxes And Dresses, wherein the men’s team wear prom dresses and the women’s tuxedos, and the teams play an exhibition match against one another, usually to raise money for charity.

While Belle remains an active supporter of her school’s rugby teams, her class and work schedules have not allowed her to be a member of the women’s rugby team this year. I have mixed feelings about that. I love the fact that she has taken advantage of the opportunities around her, to try/learn new skills and activities (that’s what you do in college, right?), from lumberjack axe-throwing to rugby to kick boxing to being a disc jockey at her school’s radio station. I also and decidedly do not miss the weekly (no exaggeration  [4] ) bills MH and I  received, during her sophomore year, from various doctors, hospital, physical therapy, urgent care and other medical facilities – bills which resulted from an enthusiastic and but relatively petite young woman participating in so physical an activity.

 

 

rugbygirl

Image not to scale.

Department Of How Can I Make This About Moiself

Via Belle’s participation in the sport, the more I learned about the forthright and festive and playful “culture” of college rugby, the more I wish I had further pursued an invitation to join the UC Davis women’s rugby team.

 

 

 

 

tellmemore

 

 

 

I was involved in athletics throughout high school. During my senior year, after I had been accepted at The University of My Choice ® (aka UC Davis), I received a letter from the UCD Athletic department. The letter was both brief and fawning – a note saying they’d heard of my athletic “accomplishments” and were thus extending me the honor of an invitation to try out for their field hockey team.  [5]  I had a good laugh showing the letter to my family, and then responded with a letter of my own, in which I briefly and non-fawningly declined the invitation.

I’d enjoyed my various school sport adventures, from field hockey to volleyball to track & field to badminton, but I’d had enough of schedules and practices. While I intended to try out the occasional intramural sport while in college – and is there any game more fun than inner tube water polo[6] – I viewed my continuing participation in team sports as…well, as so high school. College was going to be a new thing, much more intense academically than high school, I assumed (and hoped), and I didn’t want to tie myself down to any other time-consuming extracurricular schedule.

I can’t exactly recall how she found me, but early in my first quarter of my college freshman year a short but strapping young woman knocked on my dorm room door one afternoon.  She said she was on the women’s rugby team, and asked if I’d be interested in attending a rugby scrimmage, as an observer. She’d gotten my name from the UCD field hockey coach, and while she was aware that I wasn’t interested in being on the UCD field hockey team, she figured that my having been a hockey player meant I must like sports requiring running and endurance, and the rugby team was seeking new players….

What the heck; I had a free afternoon. Like most Americans then (or now, I’d wager), I knew next to nothing about rugby, and thought it might be a jolly good show to watch something that required an effort of concentration for moiself, as a spectator, to try and figure out what the heck was going on.

 

 

       

rugbydance

Watched it; still didn’t know what the heck was going on.

 

 

 

 

While not vain about my appearance, [7]  I was fond of (most of) my body parts and in particular my teeth; thus, after observing two scrums, I thought, I’m outta here.

A minute after coming to that conclusion I chided moiself for making such a snap judgment – or for, as The Young People Of Today ® say, for getting’ all judgy.

I stayed for the rest of the practice. In an attempt to be cordial and to also learn more about the sport, I made conversation with She Who Had Invited Me. It turns out SWHIM didn’t know much more about the rules than what I, a newbie observer, was deducing moment by moment. Still, SWHIM was filled with enthusiasm for her new sport. She told me she’d participated in everything from field hockey to basketball to softball to swimming in high school, and had decided that rugby was the best game, ever.

I stopped prodding her about regulations and strategy, and asked what she personally found so enjoyable about rugby. The skills required? The workouts? The strategy? The…?

“Oh, it’s just the best!” she gushed. “After every game, we party with the men’s team. AND THEY BUY ALL THE BEER !!”

 

promrugby

 

*   *   *

May you be cognizant of which drugs you use or abuse;
May you realize that the best use for a prom dress has nothing to do with the prom;
May the other team always buy all the beer;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] But alcohol is legal, and alcohol poisoning and related deaths are included on those lists.

[2] A junior at the University of Puget  Sound.

[3] And prior to that, with her brother, K, who graduated from the same school three years ago.

[4] I thought we check into running a tab at the Tacoma Urgent care clinics.

[5] The honor did not include mention of a scholarship or any $$$.

[6] Which was invented at UC Davis, ahem and hurrah!

[7] Then, as now, I walked around looking like…well…looking like moiself.

The Subject I’m Not Avoiding

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…except that I almost sorta kinda am. It’s later in this post.

 

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Department Of My Work Here Is Done

…is what I could be saying, if I only I had written that one certain…thing.

But, I didn’t.

I wrote other stuff, and am currently on a fiction writing hiatus, after having published sixty-one short stories, one theatrical play, three books, various essays and anthology works and poems and children’s verse  [1] (and one Country/Western-type song, which mercifully remains unrecorded  [2]  ).

And then, there’s that thing I didn’t write. Listening to the local ham operated radio station that has recently caught my attention, I heard a Dead Teen Song ® parody with which I was hitherto unfamiliar.

 

 

teen tragedy2

 

 

 

Y’all are familiar with the genre Dead Teen Songs ®, even if you might not instantaneously recognize the label. Also known as teenage tragedy songs, death discs, splatter platters and the like, these ditties had their radio play heyday in the late 50s and early 60s. DTS are defined by shared literary clichés, including doomed/star-crossed and eternally devoted teenaged lovers kept apart by disapproving parents or peers, and tragic accidents  (usually involving motorcycles and cars) befalling those same reckless teens….  Think Teen Angel, Leader of the Pack, Tell Laura I Love Her.

Some of the best songs to come from the DTS craze were those that satirized the genre. Including, the send-up to which I refer.

I would feel artistically and culturally fulfilled, I could leave this world with my head held high, had I only composed this tender ballad, the mind-numbing heart-wrenching lyrics of which include:

My Johnny, oh how I love him
but he is caught in a teen age trap
he couldn’t turn down any drag race through town
and now all I have left is his hubcap

Chorus:
Please Johnny please, stay in my tender embrace
Please Johnny please, I don’t want you to drag race

My Johnny, oh I can see him
coming ’round the last lap
handsome and brave, if only he didn’t wave
I’d have more of him left than his hubcap

My Johnny, oh how I’ll miss him
and although he and my dreams lay in scrap
I’ll do what he’d expect and wear it around my neck
My Johnny’s, my Johnny’s hubcap

(All I Have Left Is) My Johnny’s Hubcap, performed by The Dellwoods

 

 

 

teen tragedy

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Department Of Why It’s A Good Thing I’m Not The Surgeon General
Nor Capable In Any Way Of Influencing National Health Care Decisions

Content warning: TMI

Las

t Thursday, after my routine annual physical exam, because I am Of A Certain Age ® my doctor suggested a screening colonoscopy. I bargained her down to letting me start with something less invasive, and thus I was sent home with the equipment to gather a sample for a Fecal Immunochemical Test[3] The next day, while out for my morning walk, I strode past a chunk of a dog’s bm, which an irresponsible dog owner had neglected to scoop.  My first thought   [4]  was, What if I pick that up, take it home and send it in – would the test be able to distinguish between canine and human fecal matter?

 

 

REALLY

*   *   *

 

I met Jim Olwell during my sophomore year at UC Davis. Jim was a freshman; we lived on the same dorm floor (the legendary 3rd floor Bixby), and he became my adored and admired friend even before I saw him in the Herbivorous Man costume he concocted for a Halloween party. We kept in touch through the years; his emails and letters  [5]  were always a combination of heartfelt and hilarious, even – and especially – during the last ten years, when he was beset with multiple cancers.  His “ride to beat Multiple Myleoma” ended early last Saturday morning, April 15.

Anyone who knew and loved Jim (and if you knew him, you loved him) realized that this was coming; still, the news of his death was a boot to the gut.  Dearly loved husband to his wife and devoted father to his three young adult sons; loyal friend and brother; much-admired community charity activist; motivating math teacher to thousands of high school students…he’d lived and done so much. He was only 58.  Some people leave a big hole to fill when they’re gone.  Or big shoes to fill. Jim would have preferred the latter metaphor, especially coming from moiself, as I used to tease him about his really big feet.

Another UCD alum, Robin E., wrote a tribute to him Jim on FB that is so eloquent and touching I have forgiven her (yet again) for spelling her name wrong. I found this excerpt of RE’s tribute particularly affecting, in that years ago I had also used the George Bailey character as a comparison when describing Jim to my children:

Have you met anyone in your life that you would genuinely, authentically, say was kind of like the George Bailey character in “It’s a Wonderful Life?” Someone who made a difference in SO many people’s lives, cherished by everyone, loved deeply by his wife and children, who would do anything for him, humble, hard working, always sacrificing and doing for others, always a smile on his face, even through the worst of it? I haven’t either. Except for Jim.

People have offered sincere and kind words to me, for my loss of Jim as a friend, and also for what yet another loss represents. Even as I cherish these sentiments I realize that my loss is so little in comparison to Jim’s wife and sons and brothers….  I know it’s not a contest; nevertheless; Jim’s loss is anything but representational to his family.

I want to share more stories of him in this space, and I hope that I will have the energy to do so in the coming weeks, but right now, thinking about it makes me feel tired in ways I can’t quite express. Which is too bad, because Jim so loved to hear anyone’s and everyone’s stories. He was the best audience, ever.

 

*   *   *

May you find pleasure in novelty songs and their parodies;
May you never for one moment think of switching medical samples;
May you cherish the stories and memories of friends and family;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Ah, but who’s counting? Oh yeah….

[2] “If you Can’t Live Without me Then Why Aren’t you Dead?”

[3] Which consists of collecting a sample of just what it sounds like.

[4] Immediately followed by my second thought, Why do I think such things?

[5] Jim was a great letter writer, and, unlike so many others, did not eschew that form of communication once he discovered email.

The Friendly Skies I’m Not Flying

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Department Of This Never Would Have Happened On Alaska Airlines

Ah, United Airlines, where customer service goes to die.

Unless y’all have recently emerged from a persistent vegetative state, it is likely you are familiar with recent headlines along the lines of

* Two Girls Barred from United Flight For Wearing Leggings

* Passengers ‘shaky and so disgusted’ as United forces screaming doctor off a plane

 

 

united1

 

Once again, the internet comes to the rescue: satire wafts from the ashes of tragedy and shame, as per these new slogans people have suggested for United Airlines:

* United Airlines: You Carry On, We Carry Off.

* United Airlines: The Captain Has Turned On The No Passenger Sign.

* United Airlines: Other Flights Have Cabin Crews. We Have Bouncers.

* United Airlines: Board As a Doctor, Leave As a Patient.

* United Airlines: You Can Run But You Cannot Fly.

* United Airlines: Would You Like a Neck Pillow or a Neck Brace?

* United Airlines:  If We Overbook You’ll Catch a Right Hook.

* United Airlines: Now Serving Punch.

* United Airlines:  Tell Us Your Safe Word At Check-in.

* United Airlines: We Have First Class, Business Class, and No Class.

* United Airlines: We’ll Drag You All Over The World.

 

Years ago (decades, actually) I stopped voluntarily [1] flying United Airlines, due to what I perceived as their cattle-car treatment of passengers. As for the (latest) incident, it is turd-twirlingly mind-scrambling to think of how many ways United fucked up.

I recall standing in an airline’s boarding area, listening to the announcement that the flight is full, and wishing I’d hear a, We’ve-overbooked-would-anyone-volunteer-their-seat-for-the-following-compensation? announcement, because although it would inconvenience me it was the one time when I could have taken the free trip anywhere plus hotel voucher and rebooked for a later flight to my destination.

I can recall many more times when I have heard the, We’ve overbooked announcement but could not take the offer because I really had to be at a certain some place at a certain time. Being at a certain place by a certain time is why I had booked that particular flight – why 99.9% of passengers book any flights – in the first place.

 

 

DUH

 

 

 

Flying hasn’t been fun, or even a mildly pleasurable form of transportation, for years. Unless you can manage/afford to fly first class you’re basically boarding a bus with wings after having the write-home-to-grandma experience of the bus station employees giving you a body cavity search. People generally don’t book airline flights on a whim; they book a particular flight because they need to get to a particular place by a particular time. Thus, it is understandable that the United flight in question had no takers when the pilot or whomever announced that they’d overbooked the flight and needed four seats for their standby crew.

According to the news stories, the give-up-your-seat offer was $400 and a night at a hotel – no takers. United upped the cash to $800 – still no takers. Then a manager came on board the plane and announced that a computer would randomly select four people to be kicked off de-boarded.

Now then: why did United wait until the plane was already boarded to make the announcement/do the selection? We’re supposed to believe they didn’t know until the very last minute about the standby flight crew wanting a ride, or just didn’t announce it until later? Everyone knows you do the, We’re overbooked thing while passengers are still in the airport, impatiently milling about the gate – you do this BEFORE boarding the damn  plane, to save time/avoid hassle and embarrassment of having to de-board already boarded passengers. Major Fuckup #1.

Major Fuckup #2 – No takers on getting people to surrender a seat they’ve already paid for? You keep upping the amount until someone agrees to reschedule their flight. Sweeten the pot enough, eventually, someone will accept the offer.  By overbooking in the first place, you, the airline, have screwed this up, so you’re going to have to suck it up financially  in order to get someone to give up their seat.

Major Fuckup #3: random selection by computer may sound like the fairest option in a bad situation, but such measures will always need human triage, in the form of oversight and tweaking. What if the computer selects a single parent traveling with minor children, which would leave the children flying alone? Nope; move on to the next roll of the dice.  A person with a disability which makes boarding problematic, or a frail, easily confused elderly man flying with his attendant? Move on to someone else. A shell-shocked woman who is rushing to be with her mother after the sudden and unexpected death of her father,  [2] or a physician who has patients to treat…. The human components of reviewing circumstances and applying compassion must overrule random selection.

I’ll stop at that. In this era of instantaneous Twitter posts passing for reporting, the incident is already old news by now. Other minds more articulate and reflective than mine will continue to investigate and dissect the incident…but knowing this does not “un-rattle” me about what happened. It so Did Not Have To Be That Way. ®

 

 

united

May I show you our complimentary involuntary deplaning menu items?

*   *   *

Department Of That WooWoo That You Do So Well  [3]

Do you want to try something “woo” this Friday?

This is how I text-invited MH, last Wednesday, to an event about which I knew next to nothing. When I Googled What is a Crystal Sound Bath one of the first descriptions I ran across contained the advice to “…think of it as a woo-woo horizontal concert.”

The event, held at the yoga studio where I take classes, had the following description on the studio’s website:

“Come join us for an evening of sound healing and relaxation. A crystal bowl sound bath offers the participant the ability to completely release any stress or tension in the mind and body allowing one to relax, balance, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
During this sound bath the participant will relax comfortably on their back, while the sounds and resonance of the pure crystal bowls engulf the room and move through and around you; feeling like an energetic massage from the inside out.”

It’s not like the crystal bowls resonate themselves…which you might wonder after reading that lacking-in-some-essential-details-description. There was a person, [4]  a self-described “musical artist”  [5]  playing the crystal bowls, and also drums and chimes and a few other percussion-type objects, while attendees were supine, eyes closed, on yoga mats.

I did find it a most pleasant and relaxing way to spend an hour. Bonus woo: the entertainment value of the “sharing” afterwards of participants’ experiences, wherein MH and I had an unspoken pact not to make eye contact when a very few other participants hopped the Woo Train and shared their experiences, including one person who claimed to have opened her eyes at one point and seeing – not imagining nor hallucinating, but seeing – “ethereal beings hovering” over the people in the studio…

 

 

 

beans

Ahem, ’twas BEINGS hovering, she said….

 

 

 

…while the sound of chimes engulfed the room.

Crystal Sound Bath.  I figured out the bath reference – one’s body is “bathed” in the sensation of sounds. Although when I first heard the term Crystal Sound Bath, for some reason I pictured moiself sitting in a really large bathtub with other participants and a guy holding one of those crystal bowls. Which, of course, took me right back to a tune from long ago.

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub.
My how interesting – move over, boys.

BTW, if anyone can help me identify the novelty song  from whence those ever-so-lightly-naughty lyrics stem (a song played on the Dr. Demento radio show), you will have my eternal gratitude.  [6]   Thanking you in advance, I offer this Dr. D all time-favorite, for your listening pleasure:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Sometimes It Hits Me With No Warning

Dateline: Saturday morning. While exercising, I looked out at the window to our backyard, surveying the remnants of the wind apocalypse that hit northwest Oregon from the coast to the Columbia Gorge last Friday. Just for a moment, I thought, in the present tense, I can’t wait to tell Mom about this.

The weather – that most bland, mundane and seemingly impersonal of subjects – was actually one of the best thing to talk about with my mother in her later (Read: “declining”) years. Mom loved hearing about the rain, or the glorious autumn foliage, or first sunny day in Spring and the unexpected snowstorm to blanket the Portland  area. She in turn seemed to enjoy sharing details of the latest (read: ongoing) drought in SoCal, the same weather she’d told me about the previous week.

In her last two years, all conversational roads with my mother circled around and back to the weather.  It was her way of keeping grounded, of telling me how she was doing, when the simple, basic “How are you doing/what’s up with you?” conversational queries were no longer so simple.   [7].

When she couldn’t remember the names of my children; when she couldn’t remember her own age or how many children she had or the fact that she was living in Southern California and not Minnesota or that she was talking with me and not another of my sisters, or that her husband was not with her because he had died and not deserted her – or if she could remember just enough to know that she was forgetful ,and was physically and cognitively deteriorating, which made her fearful – she could still understand and appreciate the weather.

Oh, tell me about it! Do you think you’ll get more ____ (rain, snow, wind, sunshine)? We really need the rain down here, even though, as you know, I love the sun….

And so on Saturday morning, for the briefest of moments, I was happy thinking about my next phone call to her – happy to have a “safe” topic to share…followed by my brain’s gut-clenching reminder to my heart that I now have no obligation – nor opportunity –  to share the weather report with my mother, who died last Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

MarionatOliveSt.

Marion Parnell, in the days when she didn’t have to pretend to care about the weather.

 

 

*   *   *

May all your airplane de-boardings be voluntary;
May your sound baths be as woo-filled or wee-free as you like;
May you never lack for safe topics to share with your loved ones;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I have flown United once since making that vow; on a flight booked by someone else.

[2] I have been that passenger, and can’t imagine the additional heartache of being “randomly selected” to be thrown off the plane.

[3] If you’re too young to get the Frank Sinatra lyrical reference, just keep that to yourself, okay?

[4] A yoga teacher and “healer” type person specializing in “energy work.” Yeah, MH and I cringed a bit, but he was quite nice.

[5] As in, neither true musician or artist?

[6] Could it be The Moustache Song  (sp?)?  Here is a sample, but where is the entire song?  a sample here…where is the song? And no, not the one from that A Million Ways to Die in the West movie.

[7] Such questions are not recommended – in fact, they can be (unintentionally) cruel – for people suffering from memory impairment.

The Longer Post I’m Not Writing

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Department Of Words That Make Me Cringe

Edibles.

It used to be a fine term, with respectable Latin origins – an enjoyable three-syllable word to utter with a simple, non-entendre meaning: something that is appropriate or safe to eat.

Now, thanks to marijuana legalization, you can’t assume that a person using the word is referring to foods that are edible, or “edibles.”  And that annoys me.

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

 

Never was a toker, not even in my younger days. However, unlike Bill Clinton I did inhale (it was either that or suffocate at many a Led Zeppelin concert). I wasn’t fond of the effects cannabis [1] visited upon those whom I observed imbibing it; I don’t use the stuff now, and its legalization in my state doesn’t alter my opinion of or interest in it.

 

 

 

edibles

Edibles…or edibles?

 

 

I gladly voted for legalization/decriminalization of cannabis in Oregon, and I hope other states will do the same. Still, sans a compelling medical reason to partake, for moiself adding edibles to edibles ‘twould be a pitiful way to turn a formerly delectable edible into a skunk-smelling maryjanedible.

 

On the other hand,  [2]  if the minister performing my mother’s funeral service is the same dude who performed my father’s funeral service, or takes a similar approach, [3]  then I may need some sort of reality-altering substance to help me bite my tongue and/or not eviscerate his.

 

 

 

rude

*   *   *

Department of The Moving Sidewalk Of Life  [4]

 

My mother’s graveside funeral service is tomorrow. Just sayin.’

*   *   *

 

I wasn’t yet blogging when my father died. If so, this would have been the second post wherein I would try to convince readers that brevity is the soul of wit. Or failing that: sorry, no can much do this week.

 

*   *   *

 

 

May you enjoy that which is truly edible;
May you inhale when necessary;
May you never have to bite your tongue at your parent’s funeral;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] whether smoked or consumed, whether the usage was sporadic or habitual.

[2] …you have other fingers.

[3]  Hey, I’ve got a captive audience! Good time to lecture the Jews and atheists and others present “who do not know Jesus” about how there can be “little joy” and “no singing” at their memorial services. Yep, Holy Fuck and WTF, this happened.

[4] Alternative to symbolic philosophical representation aka The Circle of Life.

The Blog Title I’m Not Remembering

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Department Of Why This Is Such A Short/Lame Post

In the past week I have spent innumerable hours:

(1) planning the beginning of what will be multiple trips to take care of The Things Which Must Be Done When The Last Of A Generation Dies, ® including attending the funeral service and going-through-the-house-and-estate trips, complicated endeavors no matter what, but especially when multiple siblings and their families’ schedules are involved;

(2) driving Belle back to Tacoma (where she will start her second semester of her junior year after the MLK holiday weekend) on Day 1; driving up to Seattle to catch a flight to a city in eastern Washington to pick up a cat (of a breed reputed to produce less of the protein in its saliva to which people “allergic to cats” are actually allergic, [1] this same cat also meant to be an emotional support animal [2] …both reasons accounting for why Belle is not simply adopting one from a local shelter  [3]  ) and then flying back to Seattle and driving back down to Tacoma on the same day, Day 2.; Day 3, me leaving daughter and cat in Tacoma and driving down to Hillsboro.

 

 

sadiecat1-3-17

Belle’s (as-of-yet-unnamed) kitty makes herself at home.

 

(3) Oh yeah, and there is another memorial service on the books, this one in February, for a Caltech friend of MH’s who died in late 2016;  

(4) Thinking about yet another memorial service I will likely be attending soon…thinking about the logistics of that, as a distraction from thinking about the fact that a friend of 30+ years, one of the best people I have had the privilege to know, has chosen to take control of his death (in contrast to the multiple cancers that have controlled his life for the past too many years), and thus has entered home hospice care.

(4a) Fuck you Billy Joel, but yeah, it’s true, Only The Good Die Young.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Welcome Distractions

Aka, is It Possible To Watch Too Much Star Trek…?

 

As per the afore-mentioned Kitty Acquisition Trip, one of my Christmas presents to Belle was this cat exercise wheel, originally designed for a breed of cat known for its active disposition. [4]

 

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My first reaction, after the exercise wheel device was assembled by MH & Belle – It’s a time portal for cats! She’ll have her own Guardian Of Forever!

 

guardian

You may need to use your imagination re the comparison.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Somebody Should Say Something

Aka, Killing Time By People-Watching When Your Flight Has Been Delayed.

Scenario 1: A woman is darkly dressed –  black hat, gray coat, black scarf, black shirt, black leggings, gray-black shoes –  save for a pair of brilliant crimson/red gloves. Somebody should tell her how beautiful, how striking those gloves are (in and of themselves, but especially in contrast to her black/gray ensemble).

I do that. I am that somebody.

 

 

somebody

This is exactly what Jesse was talking about…right?

 

 

Scenario 2: A middle-aged man with a greasy, gray-black comb-over plastered across his dome. Isn’t there anyone is his life who loves him enough to tell him the truth: that such a “do” only attracts attention to his MPB?  [5]   Somebody should tell him that a well-executed trim would be much more flattering and would not scream the equivalent of I AM NOT LOSING MY HAIR NO SIREEE BOB NOT ON YOUR LIFE WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT.

I do…nothing. Nope. That Somebody will not be moiself[6]

 

 

*   *   *

May you consider that it may indeed be possible to watch too much Star Trek;
May you remember this: if you are overwhelmed with memorial trips to be made, you may have been fortunate enough to know the kind of people whose loss is deeply felt;
May you be the Somebody somebody needs you to be;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] In yet another one of Life’s Great Ironies © Belle, the ultimate cat lover, seems to have developed a cat allergy.

[2] For reasons that are NOYBBIPLITTYFA (None OF Your Business But I’ll Pretend Like I’m Thinking, “Thank You For Asking.”)

[3] And moiself, a volunteer for a pet adoption organization, actually considered how I might not tell my fellow volunteers, who are generally/as a matter of principle opposed to purebred/breeder adoptions for both cats and dogs when there are so many “mutts “who need homes.

[4] Read: train them to work out their excess energy on this device and they might not tear your house to shreds while you are at your Mammalian Cell Microanatomy class.

[5] Male Pattern Baldness. Or, Mostly Pathetic Buffoonery – choose your acronym.

[6] That’s enough footnotes for so early in the new year.

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