The TV Show Song I’m Not Singing

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Department Of Rachel Bloom Needs To Thank Me

Content warning: awesomeness, and dick humor.

Yes, the afore-mentioned Ms. Bloom, she of multiple slash abilities (singer/songwriter/actor/comedian), might want to toss some gratitude my way for being way older than her. Because if I were Rachel Bloom’s age (and – minor point – if I also had her talent ) I would have composed, sang and posted those so-funny-you-laugh-so-hard-milk-squirts-out-of-your-nose-and-you-weren’t-even-drinking-any-milk videos (usually NSFW) before she did.

Like…maybe…this one.



*   *   *

Department Of Speculation: What Is “Stupid Shit” The Title Of?

Alas, it’s not the working title of my autobiography. [1]   It the name of a song by Andy Harrison I was listening to on Tuesday, while walking to lunch.

♫  There’s a world in your hands full of power and love
And the choice’s right here like a new pair of gloves
Whatcha gonna do, you can handle it.  ♫

I was reflecting on the inspiring words of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, spoken at a press conference announcing the Department of Justice lawsuit filed re North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation; I was reflecting on how frustrating it is, to me, that such eloquence had to be mustered for such nonsense. It’s a big world with big problems, yet some folks be getting’ their tighty whities in a knot about which public bathroom someone else can use…




  …and then, the song’s chorus is ringing in my ears: 

♫  But they want you to focus on stupid shit
So you don’t have a clue about what’s legit
They want you to focus on
 stupid shit.

Yeah they want you to focus on stupid shit
So you don’t find your power, your love, your wit
Take a look around
and don’t do it.  ♫


*   *   *

Department Of The Name Blame Game

Content warning: Tragedy For All Humanity ©


Ahoy, Boaty...in our dreams....

Ahoy, Boaty…in our dreams….


I am in mourning, for the lost of inarguably The. Best. Boat. Name. Ever.

You’ve been following the saga of how Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council invited the British public to name their new research vessel…haven’t you? [2]

Long story short, people submitted names and voted; Boaty Mcboat Face was the runaway winner.; the British Science Minister proved himself to be yet another Upper Class Twit by saying there were “more suitable” names and declaring that the NERC’s research vessel would be named for renowned naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough .

I’ve nothing against Sir David McDave Face; in fact, I’m a fan. But, he’s got all those wildlife harassment nature documentaries to be remembered for. Those sneaky Limeys asked for the people’s choice, they got it, and then, nooooooooooooooooooooooo.




You were saying something about suitable names?

You were saying something about suitable names?

*   *   *

Department Of Adventures In American Racism

Content warning: the n-word; stupid/offensive jokes.

♫ Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man.
He was brave he was fearless
And as tough as a mighty oak tree. ♫

It had been years since I’d heard that song, and there it was, on the radio. [3] Anyone else out there old enough to remember the Daniel Boone TV show? It aired on NBC in the mid-to-late 1960s. Its theme song had three or four verses, each one beginning with the same two lines, stressing what a big man Dan’l was.

♫ Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man…. ♫

The theme song was popular, easy-to-remember…



…and easy to lampoon.

I must have been in the third or fourth grade when two of my cousins pulled me aside at a family gathering. DB and his brother JB told me that if I’d ditch the appetizers table [4] and follow them out to the backyard I could hear some really funny stuff.

These cousins were the first (but not the last) people to tell me racist jokes – jokes I didn’t always “get.” Although I was only nine years old I considered myself pretty humor-hep; still, I didn’t understand why “Did you hear about the NFL’s plan to reduce the number of fumbles by running backs? They’re going to paint the footballs to look like watermelons!” was supposed to be funny.

I prepared myself for another round of my cousins’ alleged comedy. I was hoping for at least one fart story; no such luck. JB announced that he and DB were going to honor me by sharing the “secret last verse” to the Daniel Boone song.

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man
But the bear was bigger
So he ran like a nigger up a tree.

Get it? Do you get it?


Stone-faced, flummoxed silence on my part.

My cousins stopped their chortling and exchanged nervous glances. My delayed reaction had them worrying that I was shocked and offended by their use of the N-word (I was) and was going to tattle on them to their parents (I didn’t).

I did laugh. Sort of…eventually. But, not early enough for my cousins. And not for the reasons they’d hoped.

My chuckle, tardy as it was, was genuine. It was one of the first times I was conscious of…I’m not sure what to call it…what, in my mind, was the joke I saw behind the joke they wanted to tell.  And I knew there was no way I could explain my thinking to them.

The rhyming offensive word was almost superfluous to the meta/existentialism of the line:

“…but the bear was bigger…”

No need to go further. It still gets me.

Later on, at home, I asked my father about the altered verse. It wasn’t the first time I’d questioned my parents after hearing a racist comment, and it wasn’t the first time their response would include some variation of the Crabs in a Bucket story – a story I later realized didn’t really apply, although my parents obviously thought it did. [5]

It’s not that your cousins are prejudiced [6] or even mean-spirited, my father said, it’s that they’re ignorant. People who aren’t very smart, or who are insecure about their status…well, the only way some people know how to shore themselves up is to find someone below them on the totem pole, [7] and pull someone else back down in the bucket so that they can climb out, or at least not be left behind. Sometimes they do this by mocking people of a different race.

When I was a child, I never heard my parents express (overt) racist sentiments.   [8] I also never heard them openly contradict the bigotry freely expressed in front of me by a few of our neighbors and certain relatives. When a squirm-worthy comment would slither past my Aunt Erva’s cigarette, my parents would change the subject. Later, in private, they would tell me that Erva was not truly prejudiced,  [9] just ill-informed and insensitive.

But you said nothing, I thought. And people were listening.

My parents’ silence on such matters was one of many experiences which helped make me the judgmental bigmouth concerned citizen I am today. A guiding life principle I’ve tried to instill in son K and daughter Belle: if you are with a group of people and someone makes an ignorant/racist/hurtful/sexist/bullying/scientifically-stupid-disguised-as-religious-opinion remark, and you say nothing, others listening may rightfully assume you agree with, or are at least accepting of, the speaker’s sentiments.

Yes, you must choose your battles. But…silence implies acquiescence.


But the bear was bigger….

It still cracks me up. 



But the bear was bigger....So Fess Parker left the frontier and got into wine making.

But the bear was bigger….So Fess Parker left the frontier and got into wine making.

*   *   *

Is There Any Day As Happy….

As that day when you get new underwear? Let us all rejoice, as one big pile of 100% cotton loving humanity.



*   *   *

By The Way And For Your Information

If we’re going to be acquainted on this level you should know that it’s underwear or underpants, and never…never….”panties” (shudder).





*   *   *

May you focus on the shit that matters (or at least isn’t stupid);
May your silence never imply acquiescence (unless it does);
May new underwear raise your spirits (and never give you wedgies);
…and may the hijinks ensue. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] But nice guess, thanks.

[2] If not, stop reading this right now, go to your contemplative corner, and think about why you distance yourself from the vital issues that unite humanity.

[3] And I have no idea why. Channel-flipping, you hear all sorts of snippets.

[4] I could – and one time, I think, did – finish an entire jar of green olives by moiself.

[5] No parent wants their wiseass ten year old telling them, “Actually, you’re misusing the metaphor….”

[6] They were.

[7] I was never sure about how a totem pole could fit into a crab bucket.

[8] Although as I came to realize later, their political and social justice opinions were far more conservative than mine, and indicative of their respective, less than gracious and enlightened upbringings.

[9] Wrong again, folks.

The List I’m Not Making

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Haiku for Walking
While Listening to Nothing
Yet Hearing So Much

Early evening,
heading downtown, I greet the
others who walk past.

They nod, adjust their
earbuds, and return their gaze
downward, at their phones.
They have their iTunes,
podcasts, or conversations,
but miss the street songs:

Backyard wind chimes;
breeze rustling the birch leaves;
a child’s distant laugh.

Cars unseen but heard;
cheers from the nearby sports field;
crows rebuking jays.

Walking to downtown
to meet MH for dinner
cellphone in stasis.


*   *   *

Department Of Pissing In The Wind
Aka, Will It Do Any Good?

Briefly: I experienced buyer’s remorse after purchasing something online and, when the product arrived, was horrified by the excessive, totally unnecessary, wasteful, non-recyclable packaging. I sent an email to the company [1], with this picture, and advised/implored them to do better. [2]



*   *   *

Department of Even More Essential Than a Bucket List


Last Friday MH surprised us [3] by procuring dinner reservations at an mahhhvelous vegetarian restaurant, Natural Selection. The dining atmosphere was at once intimate and welcoming, and not at all twee or intimidating, despite the restaurant having the all-too-Portland description rustic chic applied to it by critic.

We spent over two hours enjoying a prix fixe, four course (with wine pairings for each course) dinner. We enjoyed the kind of meal that makes you feel ebullient and comrade-ic with your fellow diners, and you turn to those seated to your left and right and find an excuse to make conversation – the kind of meal that turns strangers into friends (“What did you choose for the second course?”).

It was the kind of meal that should have had me posting a picture of each course to a certain friend, but I was so into the repast I neglected to do so. By the way, if you have the good fortune to know Scott Duke Harris, intrepid Santa Ana, CA – Hanoi journalist, do send him pictures of your favorite meals. He’ll love it.





Once again, I digress.

As per the afore-mentioned, strangers-begin-talking-when-inspired-by-good-food impulse, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman seated at the table to my right. He and his Lovely and Talented Wife © were, like MH and I, first-timers at the restaurant. They were celebrating her retirement from 25 years with one job and moving on to the third act. He preceded her in retirement, and we began chatting about how he was filling his time, including trying new things – like a gourmet vegetarian restaurant – and yet not falling into the I-only-have-so-much-time-left-and-must-do-all-the-things-I-missed-doing-when-I-was-younger trap. We commiserated about the ever-increasing swiftness of the passage of time, and about avoiding the well-meaning advice of those people who have compiled their own bucket list and pressure you to do the same.

I told him how, while continuing to seek meaningful ways to contribute to society, I also seek to minimize time spent in activities I loathe. [4] For example, I know I will never be able to reclaim those hours, attending a “morale raising/teamwork-building” business workshop, or sitting in a committee, listening to someone ask a question that needn’t have be asked (or that had already been answered) but was put out there so that the asker could be seen as insightful or perceptive by his colleagues….

The gentleman concurred, and offered this sentiment: the older he gets, the more he realizes the importance of not doing certain things. That is, he recognizes what, for him, is the primacy of not the bucket list, but the fuck-it list.

Exactly! I resisted the urge to pound my fist on the (artisanal, hand- crafted) table in enthusiastic recognition of a kindred spirit.  And I told him I was going to steal his description.

No matter our age, we are all bound by the limits of lifespan. You may be compiling an inspiring bucket list, and if so, good for you!  I hope you are also keeping track of what you do not need to do anymore – including things you’ve never done, things that may be #1 on someone else’s bucket list but which you just don’t see as effort- or time- or money- or risk-worthy  [5]  .  As in, fuck it, I’m not going to squander my time on that.




*   *   *

Skepticism is hard.  How do you convince someone they’re not thinking clearly when they’re not thinking clearly?
Our brains are not “wired” for skeptical thinking; studies have shown that people who lose their “faith” tend to replace it with something else, with a different type of belief – with some other non-evidence-based reasoning.

(Phil Platt, astronomer, writer and science blogger, from his “Don’t be a Dick” talk at the TAM Conference , 2010)




Last week I came across a link to an article titled, Transgenderism: A Pathogenic Meme. The article was written by Paul McHugh, MD, a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, and published via the conservative thinktank, The Witherspoon Institute. The link to the article was posted by a FB friend who is a conservative Christian and who recently obtained an (on-line) degree in counseling from Liberty University.

Yep. That Liberty University – the one founded by Jerry Falwell. [6] Liberty is the kind of conservative religious institution that purports to offer an “education” and “the pursuit of knowledge in every discipline” – as long as said knowledge can be cherry-picked to conform to their frighteningly, medieval superstition relic doctrinal statement…in which Iron Age mythological beings are treated as serious 21st century driving forces.

So. FBF posted this intro to the link: “Very good article. If a person wants help, evidence-based intervention is always the best way to go.”

One of the article’s assertions about transgenderism –  that facts are more determinative than feelings –  is one I happen to agree with…about any subject. And so I couldn’t help but chuckle Oy vey, if only after reading FBF’s intro.

“For those who want to be helped, evidence based-reasoning….” Indeed. That would be a nice change and a pleasant surprise.

If only y’all religious believers would apply evidence-based reasoning across the entire spectrum of your lives, and not only when you (think you) can find or fashion evidence to suit a particular doctrinal tenet.

Facts are (or should be) more determinative than feelings, including the fact that religious/supernatural claims about the world are ultimately based on feelings – believers [7] live and walk by faith, as their own holy books tell them . The only fact-based thing about religion is the fact that all religions tells different stories as to how the world works and/or how and why their god(s) operate, and competing faiths use similar arguments to stake why theirs is the only true faith.





Meanwhile, Humanists, Brights, Freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and others who hold a reason-based worldview shake our heads and smile our holy shit?! smiles and say, Cool story, bro.

And for those religious believers who want to be helped, evidence-based reasoning can be found at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Recovering From Religion organization and hotline, and many, many other organizations which provide support for those who recognize they need to overcome religious indoctrination.


*   *   *

May you carefully and joyously compile your bucket and fuck-it lists;
May you remember to pull the plugs and listen to the nothing;
May you enjoy many a meal that Scott Harris would envy;
.. .and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] whose product line name rhymes with Soil of NoWay.

[2] The same advice I gave to myself, re checking out a product’s packaging before looking for a good price.

[3] Yes, both us; as in, I think he surprised himself by the awesomeness of his choice.

[4] Read: committees and meetings.

[5] Sky diving, anyone?

[6] Yep, that Jerry Falwell, the one who said, among numerous batshit crazy claims for Jesus, “Good Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.”

[7] Notice they are called, and call themselves, believers.

The Inspiration I’m Not Becoming

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Department Of With Friends Like These Who Needs Haldol

I recently received this email from my observant, always-pointing-me-toward-a-good-deal friend, SCM:

I’m just immature enough to giggle and consider buying these (I normally use .38 mm point pens and am convinced smaller is better—but perhaps not when the product is called Dong):

Being the more mature partner in our friendship, I of course had to make the purchase, sans giggling. I can honestly report that life is now…just… enhanced, in some incalculable way, when I whip out my Dong at lunch to do my crossword puzzle or KenKen puzzle.



*   *   *

Speaking Of Other Pastimes That Mitigate The Need For Antipsychotic Medication

While you’re reading this, it is possible I am attending the Oregon Potters Association’s annual whoopdedoo.[1] The Ceramic Showcase, which is “the nations’ largest show and sale of handmade pottery, sculpture, garden art, home accessories and other creative clay work,” is running through the weekend at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.   If you are a budding or veteran potter, or a collector of ceramics in particular or an admirer of art in general, or if you just need a new scrambled egg bowl, you owe it to yourself to see this show.

And sometimes, as what happened to MH and I two years ago, you find out you really need a bird-headed zipper face objet d’art to add some mojo to your hallway.



*   *   *

Department Of Apropos Of Nothing

Have y’all heard the phrase, inspiration porn?

The term, coined by the late [2] journalist, standup comedian [3]  and disability rights activist Stella Young, describes the patronizing experience common to many disabled people who hear themselves called “inspirational” when they accomplish things able-bodies people take for granted; thus, they are or have become inspirational mainly or solely due to their disability.

Young writes, “Let me be clear about the intent of this inspiration porn. It’s there so that non-disabled people can put their worries into perspective…It’s there so that non-disabled people can look at us and think ‘well, it could be worse… I could be that person.’”

In other words, inspiration porn paints people with disabilities as nothing more than modern-day Tiny Tims—pitiable people who help us put our own problems into perspective while making us smile with their courageous outlook on life. The problem with this is twofold: It not only assumes that disability automatically equals hardship, a tragedy that must be overcome, but it also incorrectly assumes that disability can actually be overcome with a smile and a little bit of determination.
(from Salon. Com, 2-2-15, “Inspiration porn is not ok: disability activists are not impressed with feel-good Superbowl ads“)


The first time I listened to Young’s TED talk on the subject, I’m Not Your Inspiration Thank You Very Much, I was, well, dammit, inspired…which of course immediately made me feel guilty. [4]

One of the reasons for my guilt was that Young’s talk reminded me of the time, many years ago, when someone asked me to name my biggest fear. My truthful answer was, [5] I fear being someone who inspires people.

Translation: I have never been praised for/accused of being an inspiration to others; therefore, if someone says that I have become “an inspiration” to them or others it likely means I have met with a devastating accident/injury/illness. As in,

“Robyn is such an inspiration. If she can ____
 (recite the alphabet;
tie her shoelaces without passing gas;
string three multisyllabic words together without aspirating her drool…)
then anyone can! 


*   *   *

Department Of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

Our dryer plays the harmonica.

That is, when it is in use, our clothes dryer sometimes produces a noise as if it were a harmonica player doing a sound check before a concert…if said harmonica player were a novice and the sound check consisted of the same note, blown at irregular intervals. [6]

International Person of Mystery ® that I am, I find this intriguing…or I used to, until I googled the phenomenon. Instead of what (in my mind) would be a logical response to my search (along the lines of, what a stupid question-have-you-tried-thinking-about-string-theory-or-something-more-profound?) I found…links.

It seem ours is not the only clothes dryer [7] with this talent. And I do consider it a talent.

Although I think it needs…something more. More cowbell?!




*   *   *

In last week’s post I mentioned my son K’s trip to Iceland. As of Monday eve K is back to the States safe and sound, and survived his partaking of the putrid slop that puts the concept of national culinary pride to shame country’s national delicacy, Hákarl.

K hasn’t exactly been Mr. Travelogue when it comes to recounting his adventures. My favorite comment of his, in response to MH and I asking him about his impression of the country:

“The (tap) water tastes like eggs and the showers smell like omelets.”

A nano-seconds worth of double take, then, aha, of course:  Iceland is an island/country that’s basically the tip top of a volcano.

And there’s nothing like a sulfur-infused beverage to wash down a mouthful of festering fermented shark meat.


Another Icelandic gourmand celebrates his culinary heritage.

Another Icelandic gourmand celebrates his culinary heritage.



*   *   *

Department Of Things I Missed

And she thinks of herself as a progressive!

And she thinks of herself as a progressive!


Earth Day! It was last Friday, and there was not one mention of it in this space.

My shame knows no bounds.  I’ll try to think of something entertaining and Earthy to make up for it.

Nope; nada.

How’s about something Eartha, instead?



*   *   *

May your home appliances serenade you;
May you be an inspiration…or not, as you choose;
May your showers be redolent of your favorite breakfast food;
..and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] Not the event’s official title.

[2] Sadly, late as in recently deceased, not as in habitually tardy.

[3] Let’s just make that “comedian,” seeing as how in Ms. Young’s case, although she did perform on stage it was from a wheelchair and she wasn’t technically standing up…a joke that, I like to think, she would have appreciated.

[4] Yep, it’s all about moiself.

[5] And still is…sort of.

[6] Kind of like a less nasal version of Bob Dylan’s current vocal stylings.

[7] DAMN!! I was hoping for an American’s Got Talent gig.

The Question I’m Not Posing



Department of Just Sayin’

Last week NPR’s Science Friday program contained a segment with a provocative premise. The segment featured an interview with “game researcher” Katherine Isbister, who makes the case in her book How Games Move Us that “…games can push us into new emotional territory.” According to Isbister, new video game designers are now crafting games that can make players more empathetic, by, e.g., putting players in the shoes of food cart vendors, immigrants seeking asylum, caretakers for someone with a terminal disease….

Isbister talked about how the designers of these “feel-good” video games write scenarios that encourage players to work together to solve problems, and how the designers also “harness character design, game mechanics, and movement to craft rich emotional experiences for players.”

Okay; sure, they do that. As do the designers of other scenarios that might be termed “feel-bad” games.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a video game that might encourage greater empathy in its players. But, listening to the interview, I sensed an elephant in the room that didn’t get its turn to trumpet. The host [1]  blew it by not asking a question/raising an issue that seemed obvious, IMHO.

The question/issue is in the That train runs both ways category.


But not like this.

But not like this.


Back when the industry was in its infancy, players and proponents of video games reacted with a combination of dismissive scornfulness and furious defensiveness when anyone – from psychologists to Concerned Average Citizens ® – dared to pose the question of whether playing a violent video game [2] might foster aggressive behavior, or at least dull players to the consequences of real life, anti-social behavior.

I remember well the indignant self-righteousness of video game-playing friends, colleagues and family members who were asked to even consider the possibility that violent games might induce violent thoughts:

Games don’t change how you feel. Thousands of kids play shooter video games – I play shooter video games – and we don’t go out and snipe students at the school playground. [3]

True, such a simplistic correlation (violent game = violent acting out) was likely an exaggeration. But now, smiley happy game = smiley happy people? Y’all can’t have it both ways.

If you are now saying video games can promote empathy and craft other “emotional experiences,” you are acknowledging that games can influence a person’s emotions, from which thoughts and actions spring.


Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I'll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!

Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I’ll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!



Violent video games alone likely didn’t cause (name redacted) to go on his rampage. But these games aren’t harmless, either….
My colleagues and I found that typical college students who played violent video games for 20 minutes at a time for three consecutive days showed increasingly higher levels of aggressive behavior each day they played….studies show that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior. Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. The effects occurred for males and females of all ages, regardless of what country they lived in.
“Do Violent Video Games Play a Role in Shootings?”
Brad Bushman, Ph.D., psychology professor specializing in “the causes, consequences, and solutions to the problem of human aggression and violence,” and author of “Why do people deny violent media effects?”


Both “good” and “bad” video games use similar techniques for attracting and holding the interest of their players. There is no magic formula for emotional manipulation, which would allow feel-good video games to stimulate positive emotions while preventing feel-bad games from stimulating negative emotions. That’s not how our limbic system works.


*   *   *

Department Of Parent Fail

Has there ever been a task, performance, assignment, an approaching life event, at which you anticipated you’d be superb – or at least competent – and then when it came time to get down to it, you massively sucked?

Last week I wrote about an April Fools’ Day joke I considered playing on a student driver… which got me to remembering that which I am about to confess: I was a lousy “teacher” for my own two student drivers.

Yes, I was an Awful Parent Driving Instructor. It was a role I had actually (as in, positively) anticipated. I thought I would be calm and positive mentor; I thought I would be the one to Set. A. Good. Example. ©

Instead, I was one of the worst things a driving teacher can be – nervous – which totally took me by surprise. My nervousness was evident, [4] and did not promote confidence in my student drivers. But my apprehension was not without cause. In my defense, as I was later to tell both son K and daughter Belle,

I take it personally when my own offspring are trying to kill me.

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!



Fortunately for my children, MH was a (comparatively) calm and patient instructor.

MH and I also thought it worthwhile for our student drivers to have other professional/adult instruction, and forked out for lessons for each of them with a local driving academy…an act ($$$) which made me appreciate growing up in California when I did, when mandatory driver’s education was part of the public high school curriculum.

The driver’s Ed class was included in a class called State Requirements, which most students took during their sophomore year. With its massive/ pervasive car culture, California thought it in the best interests of the state to have students enter the driving world with a modicum of driving experience and education.  Apparently, many other states’ public education systems used to have such a requirement, but some states have dropped or drastically cut back on offering driver’s ed (and some states have none at all), due in large part to the perpetual bugaboo known as Budget Cuts.

A moment of silence please, while We Oldsters recall the days of (what we thought were) adequate school funding. [5]





Thanks to the State Requirements and Driver’s Ed classes, not only did I and my high school peers have a common reference frame of how to drive, we also shared a legendary cultural touchstone: having to sit through don’t-reason-with-’em-just-scare-the-shit-out-of-’em documentaries like Red Asphalt.

Red Asphalt was astutely described by the Los Angeles Times‘ reporter Martin J. Smith as “The Reefer Madness of driving.” I think of it and others like it as a car accident snuff films –  ” horror shows of vehicular ultraviolence,” Smith wrote, “intended to scare the bejabbers out of fresh-faced and obliviously immortal teen drivers.”

“Red Asphalt” — the title says it all — is the flip side of California’s carefree car culture. ‘What you’re about to see is not going to entertain you,’ warns the host…. ‘There are scenes of human suffering and death in stark reality..’
Thus welcomed, you’re off on a joyless ride of grim highway fatality statistics, hectoring commentary about driving safely and bona fide hurl-your-cookies gore….you’re likely to come away with three unforgettable impressions:

* Driving at more than 10 mph is a seriously bad idea.
* Anyone who ever lobbied against seat belts and air bags as standard equipment should be arrested, tried and executed, ideally all in the same day.
* Not even George Romero has come close to replicating the sight and sound of human viscera being hand-scooped off damp pavement and into a plastic bag.

(“Thrills! Nausea! Bad Acting” by Martin J. Smith,  Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2006)





Red Asphalt, and another documentary called Signal 30 , used a combination of real footage taken by firefighters and other first responders and horrendously acted re-creations to depict the deadly consequences of speeding, negligent driving and/or failure to wear your seat belt – AND LEMME TELLYA, THOSE IDIOT DRIVERS ALL DESERVED TO DIE. [6]

The movies’ graphic images included ghastly scenes of mortally wounded and dismembered bodies, the screams of gravely injured and dying drivers and their passengers trapped in multiple vehicle pileups, and – my favorite, from Signal 30 – the footage of the charred remains of a driver who’d tried to race a train to railroad crossing.

I recall that only one student had to make a hasty vomit retreat during my Driver’s Ed class showing of the latter film. [7]


*   *   *


Department Of Trying To Find A Segue From Bloody Bodies to Blue Berries

Aka, The Frozen Blueberries I’m Not Buying

Oh wait – but I am.

I hate it when I lie to y’all.

Last week, for the first time in three years, I bought frozen blueberries from the grocery store. Three to four times a week I have blueberries and raspberries with breakfast, and for the past three years by the end of summer our garage freezer is full to bursting with bags of our homegrown blueberries and raspberries.

However, last season’s hotter-earlier weather [8] was one of several factors which led to our blueberry bushes being a bit skimpy on production. The raspberries were smaller than usual and not as prodigious, but I still have enough in the freezer to last until this summer’s crop is ripe for the picking.



*   *   *

May you recall with fondness (or at least tolerance, if not abject pity)
those who taught you to drive;
May the games you play foster the mental equanimity you seek;
May your berries be bountiful…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


*   *   *

[1] I’m talking to YOU, Ira Flatow.

[2] that is, a game where the objectives include murder/rape/robbery, ala Death Race, Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, etc.

[3] Ah, but at least one person did. I remember reading of about the many disturbing hobbies of Brenda Spencer, the infamous “I don’t like Mondays”‘ elementary school shooter (who also carries the dubious distinction of being one of the few such female shooters), which included, according to interviews with friends and neighbors, being obsessed with playing violent/shooter-type video games.

[4] “That’s a person in the crosswalk – DON’T RUN THEM OVER.”

[5] No footnote here; we’re still doing the moment of silence thing, okay?

[6] Good thing we didn’t have to rely on violent video games back then to provoke such feelings.

[7] Apparently, as per one driver’s ed teacher I spoke with, at least two scared straight barfers was the norm per screening of that film.

[8] Which we didn’t anticipate and forgot to account for when scheduling starting up our automated yard watering system.

The Common Ground I’m Not Seeking

Comments Off on The Common Ground I’m Not Seeking

On Tuesday MH and I were discussing the Hillsboro School Board meeting to be held later that day, during which the board would be taking public input regarding the topic of providing family planning services at school based health centers. We each separately emailed the board members with letters supporting the proposal. [1]

Two of the current school board members work at the same company as MH. I remembered asking MH, when those individuals were first running for their school board seats, what he knew about their respective political beliefs and temperaments. This led to a brief back and forth about the qualities we’d want to see in a decent, effective politician – even one running for a (allegedly) nonpartisan position, ala school board member. The ability to seek common ground or “reach across the aisle” was high on the list.

Many are the times I have considered how I lack a temperament (or even the desire to temper my temperament) which is even marginally suitable (read: electable) for public office, even an office as “small potatoes” as serving on a school board. I occasionally attended several meetings of my school board when I was in high school. What with the issues and tenor of the times,  [2] the meetings could get quite…entertaining…which made me wonder how the relatively sane members of the board managed to sit next to the whackadoodles, let alone have a rational discussion about educational policies.

That memory/idea must have gotten stuck in the space between my ears, because when I awoke the next morning (Wednesday), this was the first thought that came to mind:

I have no desire to seek common ground with morons.


*   *   *

Department of Despair to Come

We’ve a ways to go until the political parties hold their conventions, I know. Still, when I think of the prospects, I get a lump in my throat. I call it the Clump Lump, a mashup of the most likely two choices I do not want to choose.  Clinton, or Trump? Please, my fellow Americans, [3] don’t do this to me. Or to yourselves.

Clump. Clump. Clump. Thump.




Of course, there would be no contest re my choice of the Clump. Having not recently had a lobotomy or the intellectual equivalent of a compassion colonoscopy, it’s easy: I know Hillary R. Clinton is up to the task and I would gladly cast my vote for her.

But I wanted something new. Something Else.

Look, I know that much of what I think I may know about Clinton comes from 25 years of Republican slavering attack dog tactics:– “a quarter century of visceral GOP hatred.”

But, here’s the thing. What she said just before Nancy Reagan’s funeral – she did that all by herself.

I get it: you’re getting ready to attend a funeral of a public figure, you have to say something nice about the deceased.  But you don’t lie; you don’t forget or twist history.  I won’t belabor the point and you can look it up here and elsewhere, but Clinton’s WTF statement about Ronald and Nancy Reagan spurring “a national conversation, before anyone would talk about it,” [4]  about AIDS?!?!?!




So. Pathetically. Astonishingly. Not. True.

And I can’t think why HRC would say that…other than staying true to what seems to be a (political) life-long habit of saying what seems to be convenient and/or expedient.

*   *   *

Department Of Parents Are Never Too Old To Go Apeshit
Over Reminders of Childhood Cuteness

It has been a week of many celebrations, both national and personal. Belle is home for Spring Break. Pi day. The Ides of March. That Irish-American Thing. [5]  Many if not all of these festive days call for special feasts. I asked Belle if there was any special dinner she’d like, in honor of…whatever. While she was pondering her options, MH showed me a list Belle had made, quite a long time ago. He found it written on a (unfortunately, undated) notepad he discovered as he was going through old papers in the attic:




I told Belle all she had to do was say the word and we would endeavor to come up with a speshl desert and froot salid…and lots of Yum.


*   *   *

Department of They Said It Would Never Work

Content warning, PETA supporters: contains arguable mistreatment of select arthropods.

For the past couple of weeks, every morning I’ve come downstairs to the sight of a black ant – or sometimes two or three – creeping about the kitchen or dining nook. Like the steering wheel around the pirate’s genitals, it’s driving me nuts.

We have no idea how/where the ants are getting in. They find their way to the kitchen counters, where they are summarily and enthusiastically squished by moiself, a paper towel becoming their white shroud of doom. At most it seems as if they’re sending in a few “scouts” at a time. It’s isn’t a horde…but I know they’re out there.


As a warning to its tribe, I made an example of one scout. There was more than a bit of eye rolling skepticism from my family when I set the warning on the counter at night before going upstairs to bed.

The next morning was the first morning in over a week when there were no ants in the kitchen. Not a one.  Vindication was mine. [6]



*   *   *

Pearls From Sand: How Small Encounters Lead To Powerful Life Lessons



I recently read (and very much enjoyed)  the above book, written by My New Friend. As the title indicates, it is about how everyday, seemingly mundane conversations and encounters can lead to profound insights that shape how we act toward and think about ourselves and others.

The book’s Chapter 7 is titled Introverted is Something You Are, which got me to thinking [7] about that most common, and perhaps most commonly misunderstood, personality type division: that of Extrovert and Introvert.

It has long been my observation that the world can be divided into two types of people: those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t.




But seriously, Ladies and Germs, y’all know about one of the more popular “personality type” tests, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ? Chances are you’ve taken the test for fun, or at some point in your working life, when the new/overenthusiastic member of your company’s HR department decided it was a fun tool to use in that most jaw-clenching and tedious of workplace events, the Let’s All Try To Understand Each Other ®  workshop. [8]





The MBTI aims to elicit psychological preferences in how a person perceives the world and makes decisions. It does this through the use of a self-report questionnaire which then ranks your personality type based on your preferences in each of the test’s four dichotomies. Your preference in each dichotomy is also ranked as to its strength; e.g., your answers indicate you tend to be slightly, moderately or distinctively expressed in that categories.  One of the four dichotomies is Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

I’ve taken the test a few times over the years, [9] noting that, like most people who do so, my scores have varied within each dichotomy. One consistency over the years is that in the E/I dichotomy, I test as an E. This would come as no surprise to friends, family and co-workers, who’ve pegged me as an Extrovert over the years.  If the choice is I or E, she’s definitely an E. What might come as a surprise is that my scores on the MBTI Extraversion scale have been, consistently, only slightly expressed.

Moiself has never claimed the Extrovert label. [10]  I find it interesting that someone who would be (self- or otherwise identified as) an extrovert would chose the life/profession I have chosen, where I am alone for the majority of my day.

While no one enjoys time with friends – whether one-on-one or in group activities – more than I, my activities and interests tend to be solitary, or those which can be done with one or two people (e.g. reading, hiking, kayaking, archery, masturbation, [11]  KenKen and crossword puzzles). I try to avoid meetings/committees of any kind, and would rather trim my nose hairs with a week whacker than  give a reading of my work or do other writing-related professional appearances.

So, how do I think of, or label, moiself? Thanks for asking. I’ve yet to find my dichotomy: I am a Gregarious Loner.

Stick that in your MBTI pipe and smoke it.




*   *   *

May your personality dichotomies by freely expressed;
May you find words to praise the dead without lying your ass off;
May you find pearls in sand but no sand in your sandwich,
…and may the hijinks ensue.



Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 *   *   *



[1] We’d planned on attending the meeting, but Life events ©  intervened.

[2] It was the mid 1970s…Patty Hearst could have been hiding anywhere.

[3] I use that term not as an indicator of USA chauvinism – which I’ve been accused of on more than one occasion when doing so. I realize Canadians and Mexicans are (North) Americans, too. But our country has a rather clumsy name, especially when it comes to monikers for its citizens. If you live in Germany you are German; in France, you are French, In the USA you are…USA-ian? United Stateian? I’ve yet to run across a less clumsy descriptor than the one that uses the last part of the US of A.

[4] The Reagan reaction to the HIV/AIDS crisis is what phrases like “deafening silence”  and “turning a blind eye” were invented for. Reagan would not utter the name of the virus until late in his second term, and Nancy even refused to help her friend Rock Hudson get treatment when he was dying of “the gay disease.”

[5] On March 17 real Irish people in Ireland apparently do not affix paper shamrocks on their foreheads, don Kiss Me I’m Irish underpants and drink until they vomit green beer on their faux Leprechaun shoes and call it a celebration of their heritage.

[6] A wonderful feeling, however temporary. But really, the damn thing worked for about 12 hours.

[7] I tried to lie down on the couch; alas, the thinking continued.

[8] This is not another footnote. Move it along, folks – nothing here to see.

[9]  Mostly for fun, and mostly when for some reason it has been mentioned by someone – a friend who’s used it at work, for example. I find any sort of personality test somewhat rigid but think such tests can be useful as a starting point to understanding other people, as well as yourself…as long as you don’t take it as the be-all and end-all of psychological analysis. Many people claim the Myers-Briggs test has helped them become more aware of the differences between people, and to see such differences as just that –  different, not “wrong”…even though I remember reading somewhere that most of not many of the dimensions measured in the test have failed to hold up to consistent  research.

[10] nor have I vehemently denied it, so…yeah. What she said.

[11] Just checking to see if you’re reading, Belle and K. If so, your mother did not write that, okay?

The Grave I’m Not Dancing On




Department Of The Calm Before The Storm
Aka, I’m Supposed To Post This Kind Of Mindless Minutiae On Facebook…


After years of using our nondescript, Bed Bath & Beyond everyday flatware precious family heirloom silverware for scooping out cat food, I recently said to moiself, “Self,” I said, “the next time you pass a Dollar Tree store, why not pop inside and pick up a couple of forks?”

Two forks now reside upstairs by the cat food cans. The utensils are seemingly satisfied with – dare I guess, even proud of ? –  their singular, humble-yet-vital raison d’etre 

My contentment knows no bounds.





*   *   *

Department Of The Storm

Aka, I May Be A Terrible Person…

But damn, I wish I’d written this headline:

Justice Scalia Dead Following 30-Year Battle With Social Progress




Should I feel guilty for rejoicing upon hearing the news of someone’s death?  [1]  While I’m not exactly dancing on his grave, full disclosure: my first reaction upon hearing that SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia had died:

Pity it wasn’t a car crash and he didn’t take one or two of his buddies [2] with him.

Sound harsh? It’s “nothing personal,” as they say. Over the years I’ve said good riddance upon hearing the news of certain people’s deaths, for example, the architects of apartheid and Osama Bin Ladin, among other political and social tyrants. And yep, on a certain level I do equate them: Scalia was a judicial tyrant, hostile to those cherished American ideals of liberty, justice and equality for all.

Sure, I’ll miss Scalia’s batshit crazy rantings bizarre flights of phraseology and imagery (“jiggery-pokery” and “Platonic golf,” in particular) but I’ll not miss his retrograde, religion-soiled worldview and blatant hostility to the advancement of human rights.

As the Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor put it in her Freethought Now blog post, Why Scalia Was a Fugitive From Justice, Scalia was a “judicial version of a bible literalist…who dressed up the old ‘states’ rights’ arguments [3] in the bizarre new clothing he termed ‘originalist’ interpretations of the Constitution.”




The thing is, Scalia wasn’t just your blowhard bigot uncle pontificating at the neighborhood watering hole. He held a powerful position and thus had a loud and far-reaching megaphone, through which he advocated ideologies that do real harm to real people. [4] Unlike your drunk uncle, Scalia got to hide his prejudices, fear and loathing behind the skirts of a judge using an originalist interpretation of the US Constitution. [5]

A sampling of the many Scali-ism which reveal his bigoted, science-hostile, religiously-warped mindset, include him

* referring to voting rights as “racial entitlements;”

* equating homosexuality with “reprehensible” conduct including incest and murder;

* comparing the quest for LGBT human rights to flagpole sitting and saying it would be okay to jail gay people – i.e. criminalize gay “behavior” – because some (straight) people don’t like them;

* defending sentencing “retarded” people to death via the everybody’s doing it argument: i.e., if mentally-impaired people continue to receive death sentences from juries then that must be socially acceptable;

* dissing the establishment clause to an audience of schoolchildren and telling another group of children that that humanity was only in its 5,000th year of existence;

* arguing that African-Americans would be better off in slower schools;

* boasting that his refusal to recuse himself from a case about then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force — after he’d just returned on a duck-hunting trip with Cheney — was the “proudest thing” he’d done on the SCOTUS;

* saying the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause didn’t apply to females and thus there is no protection against discrimination for women in the US Constitution, and advising a female law student to skip taking “frill classes” like “law and women;”

* referring to a female SCOTUS justice (Sandra O’Connor), when she refused to join him in trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, as “irrational” and “not to be taken seriously;”

* dismissing the liberties and protections provided in the Bill of Rights (“The majority wins. If you don’t believe that, you don’t believe in democracy”) and equating the protection of minority interests with protecting pederasts and child abusers;

* cavalierly proclaiming [6] that torture wasn’t “punishment” and therefore couldn’t be considered “cruel and unusual;”

* rejecting the findings of science while believing that the existence of atheists is proof of a living, literal devil….

Okay; ding dong the witch is dead. And I feel a need to wash my hands after typing just a sample of the scary shit that man has done and said over the years.

Moving on: for something resembling demographic equality and representation, for the next SCOTUS nominee we need a justice who is female and who did not attend an Ivy League and/or East coast law school, who is originally or currently FROM THE WEST, and whose worldview background is secular/atheist…or, okay Jewish or Buddhist or Sikh or Baha’i or Hindu, anything but Christian and definitively not another Catholic.

Ah, if only The Onion’s dream came true:


"Obama Compiles Shortlist Of Gay, Transsexual Abortion Doctors To Replace Scalia."

“Obama Compiles Shortlist Of Gay, Transsexual Abortion Doctors To Replace Scalia.”

*   *   *

Department Of This Should Come As No Surprise

It turns out publication bias (that is, studies purporting to discover some phenomenon are more likely to be published than studies failing to find one), which is common throughout psychology, “is greatly exacerbated in sex/gender research,” found a 2014 paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, citing studies going back 20 years.
(from the article, Pink Brains, Blue Brains? Mindful magazine, February 2016




Translation: it’s more interesting to think you’ve found a difference than to confirm a non-difference. Ergo, a study which alleges to find a “sex difference”  in male and female __________ (cranial structures; interest in sports; capacity for empathy; penchant for eating one’s own naval lint) gets published and gets press, while the subsequent 19 studies which find no difference receive little-to-no attention.

BTW, the answer to the article’s title rhetorical question, which has been addressed in many other studies, is a resounding WTF? no – who made that claim? Brains do not have a gender. The idea that there’s anything fundamentally different about men’s and women’s brains is a myth, despite what $chlock-peddler$ like that Venus and Mars bull$hit arti$t would have you buy (literally), is codswallop.

Ain’t that right, Angry Tiki Man Man?


If everybody's brains are the same then they can all figure out how to STAY OFF MY LAWN.

If everybody’s brains are the same then they can all figure out how to STAY OFF MY LAWN.

*   *   *

Department of Ahhhh…….

This photo from daughter Belle illustrates her claim that “one of the perks of working in a natural history museum [7]  is that you and the specimens sometimes match.



*   *   *

May you find exceptional happiness in humble purchases;
May the perks of your workplace be artistically fulfilling;
May the color of your brain continue to be irrelevant;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Answer: it depends, both on the Someone and the death.

[2] Whose surnames rhyme with BombAss and A-flea-toe.

[3]States’ rights” is a code term, often used to shield the potentially offensive and controversial intentions of the person employing it. It is typically used by conservative politicians (remember George Wallace?) to bring racial images and attitudes to mind without actually having to say the words. Ronald Reagan infamously used that nudge nudge wink wink code to appeal to the racist ideology of the old white southerners whom he sought to bring into his coalition of voters (and without whom he would have lost the 1980 election).

[4] Including and especially, IMHO, re his attitudes toward gay people.

[5]  You know, the logic and justice of applying the mindset of 240 years ago – when women could not vote and blacks counted as 3/5 of a person – to contemporary society law and politics.

[6] In a 2004 Interview with CNN.

[7] In her case, that of her school’s (the University of Puget Sound) – Slater Museum .

The Dr. Seuss Book I’m Not Reading


Department Of I Really Don’t Want Us To Be Those People…

…who end up on the nightly news, as video clips of their car spinning out plays over and over again, entertaining viewers safe and sound at home who congratulate themselves on staying put and smugly if rhetorically wonder aloud, What kind of idiot goes out on the road in this weather if they don’t have to?

Yeah, well. That would be, this kind of idiot.

Although Belle’s second semester classes at the University of Puget Sound don’t begin until after MLK Day, Belle had a job in the UPS bookstore that started on January 4. She’d taken the train down from school for Winter Break but didn’t think she could handle the return trip schlepping all the stuff she’d brought with her plus all the loot she acquired at Christmas (the cast iron frypan and a case of spinach linguini were her tipping points).

So. MH and I agreed to drive her back up to Tacoma on the January 3rd ….the morning a rare snowstorm hit the Portland area and moved north to Washington.




We passed way too many vehicles post spin-out (or rollover, ugh) on I-5, and the going was slow, but we managed to safely deliver our girl back to her on-campus house. After helping her stock up on groceries, we began the trip south at around 4 pm.

Things were getting ugly on the return trip, and by that I do not mean MH and I hallucinated the visages of Republican presidential candidates in the snow eddies on the freeway. ..although happy heathen moiself did have an experience worthy of a Catholic mystic in that for a moment I thought saw the image of Gov. Chris Christie on the side of a Target ® truck that skidded past us in the (not-so) fast lane.


Storm – you call that a storm? C'mon, try crossing one of my Joisey bridges and I'll show you a storm.

Storm – you call that a storm? C’mon, tough lady, try crossing one of my Joisey bridges and I’ll show you a storm.


Once again, I digress.

The radar [1]  said we had a bunch of ice to get through, so I used my Smart Device ® to find us lodging in the nearest bed-big-ridden fleabag comfy motel. It was a good decision; the roads were better in the morning. We had a relaxing evening after a stressful day of driving, and stomped carefully from the motel to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner. The otherwise dark night was bright in the little town of Kelso, its downtown illuminated by streetlights reflecting off new-fallen snow, which can make the most mundane town resemble a quaint, magical, North Pole scenario.


 Follow the bright star to the taco stand.

Follow the bright star to the taco stand.

*   *   *

¿Cómo se dice WIMP en español?

Tuesday evening was supposed to be the first night of the “accelerated” Spanish One [2] class I’m taking this quarter at the local campus of Portland Community College. Tuesday was two days after the aforementioned winter storm. I noticed no unsafe conditions when driving to the PCC site, and one by one, would-be Spanish (and German and ASL and other “community education” classes) students entered the building and milled around our unlit classrooms until we compared notes and arrived at the same conclusion: although the building was open our particular classes were, apparently, cancelled…but why is there one occupied classroom, full of students speaking French?

Someone used his cellphone phone to check the PCC site, and that Someone reported that indeed, PCC classes were cancelled for the day. [3] Meanwhile, another Someone returned to the (unstaffed) site  information desk to check the small, a hand-written sign, which announced in barely legible Sharpie scrawl that any PSU – Portland State University, which, evidently, uses the PCC site for at least one French class – sessions would meet as scheduled… but all PCC classes were cancelled.

A few of the Accelerated Spanish One students, one of whom said she had lived in Buffalo (They think THIS is snow?!), shared our opinions as to the ridiculousness of the situation, and also bonded in that I-drove-all-this-way-for-THIS? way that only befuddled strangers can, as we groused about the inconvenience of the cancellation [4]  and the relative wimpiness of the PCC vs. PSU schedulers.





It wasn’t all for naught. While three of us aspiring estudiantes were waiting for what we hoped was the late arrival of the Spanish teacher, we shared our history/familiarity with speaking Spanish. When it was my turn I said what I remembered most were bits of rudimentary medical Spanish, or what I liked to think of as Planned Parenthood exam survival Spanish: e.g., Please remove your clothing from the waist down. The Woman Who Formerly Lived In Buffalo © grinned broadly, asked me to repeat the phrase, and thanked me. It might come in handy, she explained, seeing as how she’d recently started dating a man from Mexico.


*   *   *

My Mother’s Resumé

Last week my older sister forwarded a text she’d received from CG, one of our mother’s caregivers. The subject was, “Mom wants to pitch in.”

(It was a )Good day here. Your mom was making her resumé for a while in her office. She feels that she should be working. I didn’t want to dampen her hopes but we talked about being a volunteer which of course would be too much….

I got a kick out of it…for a moment. The image of my mother making her resumé –is cute, funny, sweet – make that, bittersweet. And now a part of me wants to know: did mom follow through, and what would be on it if she did? What would this 87 year old woman (who is not always cognizant of her own age [5] ) list on her resumé?




My mother was the youngest of four daughters – her parents’ midlife, “oops” baby. [6]

Like most women of her generation, my mother had little hope for independence as an adult and was, essentially, a sentenced to life with her parents until/unless she married.

She moved with her mother and father to Santa Ana (CA) after her father retired from his job in Cass Lake (MN), an event which coincided with Mom’s high school graduation.

Mom enrolled in the local community college, got an A.A. degree, and managed to land a job with the Post Office. I gathered from the stories she told me over the years that she loved her job. Although she still lived with her parents [7] she was thrilled by the promise of even a modicum of independence that arose from earning her own money – she was saving up to buy her very own car; she really liked the styling on the Chevy Bel Aire! – even as she was less than thrilled (read: downright resentful) to be privy to the status and higher salaries of her fellow Post Office employees, all older than her and male, whom she described as slack-off, ineffectual, Civil-Service-for-life “geezers” whose jobs she felt she could do so much better (and sometimes did, but without credit) but would never be hired for or promoted to.

And then she got married.

She transferred her savings into the account of he-who-would-be-my-father, and their joint monies went for the deposit for their apartment, and a couple of years later, after my older sister was born, the down payment for their first house.

Oh, and she had to quit her one and only “real” job after she got married.


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds...but married women give me the willies.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds…but married women give me the willies.



What do you mean, you had to quit your job when you got married? Why?

No matter how many times I asked that question [8] I never received a satisfactory answer. This was because

(a) there can be no satisfactory answer to a rational question about an absurd situation;
(b) my mother, hardly the bastion of feminist consciousness and one of the least introspective and politically conscious persons I’ve ever known, didn’t understand the why herself.

When I’d press her, she’d say that she didn’t know if it was codified Post Office policy, but it was common knowledge that only single women were hired for such clerical work. Her supervisor informed her, when she told him she was engaged, that she could remain at her position “until that time,” but that she’d have to quit her job when she got married.




It’s been 60 – sixty!? – years since my mother had worked for pay. She worked nonetheless and of course for all those years, in a job of total dependency – a job which wasn’t even called a job, and for which there was little-to-no recognition outside that from the family which “employed” her. She played by the rules; she heeded the porous platitudes from the male-worshipping culture which spawned, formed, defined and limited her:

We won’t let you be a scientist  [9] but you will have the-most-important-job-in-the-world-as-wife-and-mother!

That same ManSociety neglected to mention that, lofty rhetoric aside, it placed little value in that “most important” of jobs, which by the way and don’t you worry your pretty little head about this will leave you completely financially dependent upon your husband and without translatable, marketable experience and skills.




And now, ’tis 2016. Seemingly apropos of nothing, a sweet, memory-addled, elderly widow-woman wants to update her resumé. If she were physically and mentally able to seek employment, what would she be qualified to do?  [10]

I won’t ask, in my next phone call with her, how her resumé is shaping up. It would only confuse and upset her; she’ll have no memory that she mentioned her project to CG. She will have forgotten; I can’t. It’s gnawing at me, in a wistful way that makes me think about the last book Dr. Seuss never wrote: Oh, the Places You Could Have Gone.

I’d like to think that, if only for a moment, when my mother was thinking about writing her resumé she was reaching for the proverbial stars, and genuinely if only fleetingly thought she had a chance at applying for something important and exciting. Astronaut camp counselor? Postmaster general? Chevrolet design engineer?  Hell’s bells, what good is a stalling memory if you can’t jump start it and take a joy ride every now and then?


1954 Chevrolet Bel Aire

1954 Chevrolet Bel Aire


*   *   *

May you learn survival phrases in the foreign language of your choice;
May your life’s resumé be the stuff of sweet dreams,
And may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!





[1] Do you have the Accuweather app? You should.

[2] “Accelerated” meaning you’ve had some familiarity with Spanish however long ago, and, like in my case, when you can remember bits of what I refer to as Planned Parenthood Spanish (please remove your clothing from the waist down”) you might want a faster paced class than one which begins with “Uno, dos, tres….”

[3] It hadn’t occurred to those of us who showed up to check the status of the classes. Monday, maybe, but things seemed fine on Tuesday.

[4] We had to provide email addresses to register for the class. Would it have been too much to send out a mass email notifying us of the cancellation?

[5] My mother suffers from a variety of age-related ailments, including memory impairments.

[6] And the fact that she knows the history of her “embarrassing” birth – that she was told by her parents that her “arrival” was an embarrassment to them – explains a lot, IMHO, about many aspects of her personality.

[7] Apartment complexes/landlords would not rent units to unmarried women.

[8] I stopped asking around the time when I was in high school, when, thanks to the Second Wave of Feminism, I “got it.”

[9] My mother’s high school physics teacher announced on the first day of class that he would not teach science to female students wanted them to leave the classroom. My mother’s mother intervened with the principal, and the teacher begrudgingly let the girls stay in his classroom but continued to slight them (including my mother, who would go on to be her class valedictorian). He never looked at them during his lectures and ignored their raised hands when he asked for questions…with one exception. He agreed to teach my mother’s best friend, Dorothy, because “It was obvious Dorothy will never marry ” and thus she’d need to be educated to support herself (Dorothy had been facially disfigured at birth by the inept, forceps-wielding doctor who delivered her).  This story was first told to me when I was taking physics in high school. I’d commented on something we’d learned in class, and my mother told me she’d never found physics very interesting. Imagine that.

[10] Please don’t say, Walmart greeter. Gawdammit, I heard ya.

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