Another pleasant respite from the rain day, which always inspires me to go shopping. It doesn't really take a pleasant day; I just really like to bargain clothes shop. MissSix and Mr11's pants seem to be flood-watering these days, so I look for them as well. Children are expensive. Keep that in mind, you people who are thinking of having kids. They are really friggin' expensive, like a fancy dog that lives a lot longer than you expected and needs prescription food and plaid rain jackets and dog Prozac and special grooming. You can't just let them run around the neighborhood all naked and without their tags.

So I end up at the TJ Maxx again, and it appears to be Middle Age Woman Day there. Everyone looks a bit haggard, but has good hair. All of us are solo, focused, and move from proper section to proper section in the store, vaguely eyeing each other up. I feel confident that no one else is going to snare my goodies -- these look mainly like working women, and they are not going to be considering that hot pink tissue t-shirt with a dead-eyed smiley face with its tongue hanging out. I considered it, but I didn't get it. I have a lot of hot pink already.

It's not a kickass style day at TJ. A lot of frump about, and a lot of tired trends. I am not going along with the severely-distressed denim trend as no one wants to see this look on anyone over 25, including me. I am so not also going along with the revisit of 80s acid wash, shit was always ugly, like mold ate the pants. It occurs to me that I could buy up a pile of good $20 Levis here, get some bleach and a razor and distress them myself, and peddle them to some little hipster boutique in Seattle for a massive time profit. HMM. HMMMMMM. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

Anyway, I did do pretty well after all:

-- Calvin Klein black cargo shorts, $49.50 retail, I PAID $24.50

-- Free People funky grey baseball style shirt, $75.00 retail, I PAID $19.99

-- NY & Co. red camisole with a real built-in bra, not one of those mono-breast-inducing shelf bras, $18.00 retail, I PAID $7.99

-- 6-pk. low cut Anne Klein socks, retail $15.00, I PAID $5.99

-- Union Bay black fabric espadrilles with a cork wedge heel, retail $40.00, I PAID $16.99

-- Cole-Haan bronze brown sandals, retail $125.00, I PAID $49.99

A shirt and shorts for MissSix, some soap and Dead Sea Salt body wash and Bliss lotion, and socks for CouchTeen, and I check out at a little over $200. Not too shabby.

The woman at the checkout asks me, as they have to, if I want to save a billion percent by opening a TJ Maxx account today, and as always I say NO THANK YOU THOUGH. She continues and says to me, "Looks like you had a good haul today," and I reply that I agree, and that I usually have good luck here. She sighs and says, "I came in here 8 years ago to buy clothes for my grandsons and I never left." I think she is serious.

No luck on the pants for Mr11. Fortunately, unlike his brother and sister, he could give a crap about clothes and his high waters will do for another day.


Today it was my pleasure to hear about a new musical project by the New Jersey band, The Smithereens. If you do not know them, I can assure you that they are both talented musicians and the rare Nice Guys as well. I know them in two ways: for their own garage/power pop songs like “Only A Memory” and “A Girl Like You,” and also that they are huuuuuuuuuuuuge fans of many of my favorite bands, like the Beatles and the Kinks and the Who. Yes, I know there are many huge fans of these bands, but these guys are huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge fans, and back that right on up by doing very honorable covers of said bands’ work alongside their own. OK, I hear you, so these guys are fans and they do cover versions, like ALMOST ALL BANDS. Ah, but not like this, doubters, not like this.

On May5th, The Smithereens release their version of “Tommy” on E1 Entertainment (Koch Records). Yes, the Who song. And yes, not just that song but a whole bunch of the songs from that seminal double album, as a 40th anniversary tribute to the original issue. You can listen to bits of it all right here:

Is it wonderful, brave, silly, or what to take on what is probably the most well-known work of a world-famous rock band? For me, when looking at covering other artists’ songs, that question is always answered in the same way: do it better and/or bring something new to it. There are enough watery and weak cover versions in the world, as well as note-for-note faithful reproductions that seem to lack any of the original magic somehow. I would rather hear someone beating on a Campbell’s soup can with a stick singing along to “Yesterday” than the most studied perfect Paulie McSame version. Do something to make me listen, or think. I don’t even have to like it, but I can respect that you tried to do your thing with it.

But in this case, it is not so simple. All in all, here the Smithereens are staying very faithful to the Who’s original work. There are no vibraphones, no massive re-orchestrations, no goat choirs, and no Campbell’s soup cans, that I am aware of. The songs are done cleanly, with great heart, and with quite awesome professional chops. Believe me, I listen with an ultra-critical ear here. Keith Moon and John Entwistle are, respectively, my favorite drummer and bassist of the EVER. You can’t really copy them, replace them, and certainly can’t make that unique amazing magic of the team of them happen again, one, because you aren’t them, and two, they are dead. Roger Daltrey is technically out-singable, but it is most difficult to reach his level of passion and dedication to making the words work. Pete Townshend’s guitar playing, moving from delicate to roaring in the space of a few seconds, is completely unique as well.

So, what do I think we have here? What did the Smithereens bring to “Tommy” 40 years down the line? I know, and you are going to think I am silly for saying it, but I think I know.


It’s in every note, how much these guys love that band. I hear it in the way they play. I see in my mind the hours they spent as kids listening to “Tommy” with headphones on in their rooms, staring at the record cover, holding it in their hands. Sometimes you listen so much it is like the songs become part of your cell structure. It’s just in there. To be able to feel that, to play with such passion and depth and talent and capture it, and have someone else be able to feel it, is quite an accomplishment. It is what a real tribute is all about, Charlie Brown.

Not to mention that I bet they had a total blast doing it. Good on ya, Smithereens, good on ya. May 5th. Be there.


I have come to believe that the real value to having children is not to repopulate the earth, nor to grow your own character as a nurturing caregiver, nor to relive your childhood, nor to ensure someone might reluctantly help pay for your D+ rated nursing home in your dotage. No, it is to be randomly amused by them, and the way they see the world. This is only good until they hit their teen years, then their views became highly annoying and painfully stupid. The shelf life of cute is short; ask any Disney teen star, if you can get them away from the crack pipe for a sec.

But today I was most tickled. Once again, MissSix comes through, and the absurdity meter goes into the red:

MissSix: (in the backseat of the car driving home) Mom, you know that guy from the Fell In Love With A Girl song?

Me: Yes, Jack White.

MissSix: Is he a slug?

Me: WHAT? HAHAHAH! WHAT? A slug??? Like the insect??

MissSix: Yes, is he a slug?

Me: No! He's a guy! What are you thinking of?

MissSix: In that one video, he looks like a slug.

Me: Well, the Fell In Love With A Girl song has that Lego video, remember?

MissSix: I think he looks like a slug. I'm going to draw him like that, OK?

Me: Uh...OK! Ha ha ha! we are:

Sorry, Jack. You are now a slug. Drawn with great affection, I am sure.


To: Nature

From: Me

Re: the bald eagles behind my house

Dear Nature,


Yours sincerely,



Unlike many of my contemporaries, I still enjoy going to loud and energetically-obnoxious rock concerts. I am smart enough to know to bring earplugs, kleenex in case the rock toilet has no paper, to wear comfortable shoes suitable for standing and bouncing for several hours, and dumb enough to still expect people not to be total assholes. I do like the option of having an assigned seat, but then I am in for a whole 'nother level of frustration, AKA Ticketbastard and the fact that it's often impossible to snare a good seat anymore. When you have artists that actually will pull their own tickets pre-sale and give them to a premium reseller like Stubhub, wtf can someone like me do? I would like to see the government toss these artists to a German polar bear.

Anyway, tonight it was my wish to go and see the group My Bloody Valentine. They are part of the original "shoegazer" groups from the late '80s/early '90s, and their music is mainly known for a heavy, swirling, guitar-based sonic assault, hypnotic and powerful. I never had a chance to see them earlier, so I was all ready to go out and give it a go. But I reluctantly decided to stay home and make angel hair pasta with marinara sauce, Italian sausage, salad, and apples instead, while semi-pouting. Sometimes making a reasonable decision stinks.

Here's what went into my decision process:

Pros: cool, who knows when they'd be back, fun, possibility to grab a bleacher seat in the back if the front was too smashy, unique to anything I have seen, chance to see a very influential band

Cons: have to go alone, suck venue with terrible sound, suck venue also in bad neighborhood where waiting for a ride or walking somewhere else is not without risk, suck venue is the same one where I got into a fight last fall, band actually plays so loud that people have been known to faint or vomit

Here was the decider:

Me: Do you want to go with me to see My Bloody Valentine tonight?

CouchTeen: Are you kidding me?

Me: No, I like them!

CouchTeen: Oh, you don't want to go to that.

Me: Why?

CouchTeen: Because the whole audience will be drugged-out 15-year-old emo girls.

Me: Ha ha ha!

CouchTeen: Really.

So, I consoled myself by obtaining their entire recorded catalogue instead. There's just no way I want some eyeliner-girl throwing up on me while I attempt to avoid either fighting with men half my age or getting hit on by them in the spooky streets while I try to find a bathroom with toilet paper because I forgot to bring kleenex after all. I left that level of stupid behind in about 1985.

On the way to pick up the kids from school, a white Yukon pulled out in front of me, instead of me pulling out in front of a black Yukon. Heh.

At least this post was not a continuation of my unfortunate urethra story.

Here's exactly what I missed!

My Bloody Valentine -- "You Made Me Realize"


Another very nice and sunny day, had a long talky lunch at the OOGCP with a friend, took the dog for a splash in the lake and a quickly-paced mile walk back home, with skinny Mr11 jogging alongside. All the pretty people and their dogs were out and about, babies in thousand-dollar strollers, guys in their 50s in shiny '60s muscle cars that they finally could afford to buy already restored, joggers joggers joggers, ice cream eaters, latte sippers, hipsters, groovers, multi-nationals, Pleasant Valley Sunday updated to 2009 Seattle-ish.

In the middle of all this, rides a man with a long mullet with a trucker hat over it, in a comically-high monster truck with apparently no muffler. He drives around and around downtown going BUB BUB BUB BUB BUB BUB BUB BUB, gunning the engine when he wants more attention. I try to get inside the mind of Mullet Monster, I do. I think about him, maybe waking up hungover, surrounded by crushed beer cans and a smelly car litter box and a sheet hanging up crookedly over his window, videogames scattered on the floor with old pizza boxes and crusts and roach traps and cigarette butts and Old Spice. There's a TV on top of his clothes dresser precariously near the edge, along with a few coins, wadded up kleenex, an old ticket for a UFC match, and three inches of dust. Yes, he rises, slowly, enters his bathroom which is so filthy it would make even Britney Spears' maid wince and back away, takes a five-minute-long horse pee, shoves on his filthy jeans, Iron Maiden t-shirt, and the trucker hat, and decides that today, he is going to cruise the small, chic downtown area of a well-to-do suburb in his 15' high wobbling truck.

Now, wouldn't it be GREAT if I were completely wrong and that was actually Bill Gates in a wig, enjoying some fun?

Here are more amusing goats.


My ears. My ears. I haven't talked to my mom for a bit, so my ears are about ready to fall off from phone damage. She is a World-Class Champion Talker, she is, and there is no quick "Hey, how are you, what's up," oh no no no. When you have a conversation with my mom, you can expect to also have to 1. Prepare and eat a full meal; 2. Go to the bathroom, maybe even twice; 3. Take a short nap; 4. Hold a simultaneous conversation with another person, thoughtfully covering the telephone mouthpiece with your hand; and 5. Answer questions on topics ranging from politics to the rise in autism to the neighbor's pacemaker surgery to the daffodils coming up in the front garden to relief policy in Africa to the plate-spinning guy on Ed Sullivan. And MUCH MUCH MORE.

I really love my mom, but DAMN. TAKE A BREATH, MA. I'm exhausted now.

She likes to tell stories (big surprise)and especially likes to tell me stories about me when I was little, because she likes me. A small story, transcribed, before my eardrums bled out for the evening:

Mom: Do you remember when you were three and asked what "profit" meant?

Me: No, I do not.

Mom: Well. You were sitting and reading in the big chair one day, and you asked me, "Mom, what does "profit" mean? So I tried to explain it to you by saying, "Well, let's say you decided to bake a pie, and you got together all the ingredients, sugar and flour and a little salt and pie crust and cherry pie filling, and all that cost you a dollar. When you go to sell your pie to someone, you charge them, say, a dollar fifty. The dollar pays for the ingredients, and you keep the extra fifty cents for yourself. That's what profit is." And then you looked at me with this shocked look on your face and you said, "I think that is horrible and wrong!" You thought it was such a terrible thing!

Me: Maybe I just thought fifty cents was nowhere near enough.

Mom: Ha ha ha! Maybe!

Me: Did you think I was a Communist?

Mom: Oh no. Your father would never have stood for that.

Me: Ha ha! Like he had any say.

Mom: Ha ha! You are terrible.

Me: Ha ha! Let's go ask him. Oh...wait.

Mom: Ha! Oh, Mari, you are awful! Ha ha ha!

Me: He'd laugh.

Mom: Oh yes, probably so.

Me: Mom, I have to eat something, it's 8PM.

Mom: Oh! Well, go! Eat! What are you going to have?

Me: I have no idea. Whatever.

Mom: Did I tell you what I had tonight? The salmon in sugar and vinegar with white onion, new little baby potatoes, and peas?

Me: Yes. Yes, you did.

Mom: Oh! It's soooo good!

Me: Yes, it is.

Mom: Well, you take care of yourself! Don't push yourself too hard!

Me: No problem. Try to get outside and get some fresh air and sun, OK?

Mom: Oh yes! You too!

Me: Right. You are funny.

Mom: Ha ha!


Sometimes songs remind me in a roundabout way how many things have changed in my lifetime, and how what I thought was my future as a little girl ended up changing completely within a few years. Thank you, Massive Cultural Shift! Unless you have stood in this space, with one foot rooted in deep tradition and one in a limitless future, it is hard to describe, and hard to impress the conflict in integrating the two over time.

Oddly enough, the song that got me thinking about this was “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. It was a lyric that never sat quite right with me when I was a kid, and now I think I know why. As I interpret it, it is not a particularly pretty picture, despite the catchy chorus and the cheeky tones of cutie-pie Davy Jones. It is the story of a young couple, who come to find that the very real grind of daily life and the responsibilities of marriage are not all that romantic. At that time, it was the norm for women to be married by age 20; men just over 23, and to get right on with producing a family. Now, when it is common for people to delay getting married until their late 20s, 30s, 40s, or even to forgo the whole damn thing, getting married at 20 seems rushed and foolish.

In the song, the young married man begins his day, like every day, and wakes reluctantly to the relentless alarm bell, and uses that cold and stinging shaving razor to prepare himself for another day of tedious work. His bride, the Homecoming Queen, the Daydream Believer, the beautiful popular joyful glowing girl, the one he was lucky to get, begins her day too. It’s one of decidedly-unregal and non-dreamy housewifely tasks like cooking and cleaning and ironing and doing whatever she can to make her husband’s life easier, “without dollar one to spend.” He worries that he has let this lovely creature down. She wonders where her white knight and Prince Charming went. They are struggling, and they look different to each other now than they did on their wedding day, full of excitement and hope. They are playing house, and trying to pretend, or hope, that it will all be OK someday.

Sonny and Cher in “I Got You Babe” are in the same boat, but are a little more cheery about their poverty and isolation. They have each other, and that seems to be sufficient nourishment. They have rejected a typical life, know that there is a high cost to it, but are up for it. Of course, real-life couple Sonny and Cher didn’t make it. Behind the equanimity of “I Got You Babe” and shared sunny hippie sentiment, there was a controlling man and an unhappy woman, and she eventually broke away. They were one of the millions who came together in tradition and crumbled with the rise of feminism and changing times. They could not adapt nor grow as a couple. At Sonny’s funeral I remember seeing a broken Cher speak in such grief, in this cracking voice, saying how much she admired him and how much she loved him. Sad, especially so because I doubt she was ever able to tell him that after they split.

The lyrical couple in “Daydream Believer,” did they make it? I don’t know. Some couples just gritted though it, made do, worked and believed in the dream, and sometimes it came true. Some stayed together because they were afraid to make a change. Some divorced or annulled, and started over. Jobs for women slowly started to expand, making it possible for them to live independently from a man, and men also began to want more from a wife than a housefrau; they wanted a real partner, and friend.

When I was little, there was no option to not get married and not have children. Not really. You might someday go to college, but your real purpose in going would be to attract a quality husband who would support you and your future 3.5 children. If you had a job, it would be as a shopgirl or a teacher or a secretary, and you would be expected to give it up the minute you got married. Men were supposed to be the Almighty Protectors, providers of safety and solvency and surety, Mowers Of Lawn, Fixers Of Car, Smokers Of Pipe. But as we have all come to accept through endless pop psychology books, Phil Donohue and Marlo Thomas television specials, and common sense, men and women are more than a set bunch of gender roles. Tradition is part of most people, yes, but each human takes on the world in a unique way, and should be able to be free to choose the life that best suits him or her. That seems sensible, right?

Because I choose to be somewhat silly, I now give you this funny remake of “Daydream Believer.” Right on!

HA 10

MissSix commentary, watching "American Idol"

-- "Those chairs look like toilet bowls."

-- (seeing Vince Neil in the audience) "HA HA HA! That's a man-woman!"

-- (after watching Matt Giraud perform) "I didn't like that. It was un-active."

-- (close-up on Adam Lambert) "HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

-- (watching Simon Cowell react to Paula Abdul talking) "HA HA HA! He thinks what she says is dumb!"

Infinitely more entertaining for me, her.


There comes a time in every pantry where there is nothing remaining except molding sunflower seeds, a can of clam sauce, five half-eaten boxes of cereal, four loaves of bread with only the crusts left, and apple cider vinegar. Time to go to the Safeway. I didn't really feel up to it, but the sun decided to come out so I thought that was some encouragement on nature's part.

The same old cast of characters were there: Customer Service Girl, Meat Dept. Guy, Tard Bagger, Hard Rock Mom Checker, and I reacted to them just the same as I always do, with politeness and semi-avoidance and severe mocking when CSG gets on the PA. I loaded my cart with $400 worth of packaged consumer comestibles, remembering that Mr11 asked for "some new-tasting fruit," CouchTeen wants Vitamin Water that he can drink 1/3 of a bottle of and leave standing open on the carpet for the dog to knock over, and MissSix wants more paper and markers. I need some Extra-Strength Calgon bath salts in Valium Coma, but they are sold out. Celine Dion brays like a donkey with a firecracker up its ass over the PA after CSG is done whining, and I visibly wince. Stop yelling at me, Canadian Bellower.

I need new dryer sheets, but am picky about smell. I end up getting Arm & Hammer Mountain Rain because it smells like hash oil and patchouli mixed and it made me laugh. I don't care if the kids get called into the principal because they are hippie-scented. HA HA.

I check out and then poorer and cart-loaded, I get in the in-house Starbucks line to grab a coffee for the drive back home. It's only a 5 minute drive, but still. In front of me is Professional Suburban Homeless Guy, who orders a Frappucino, a Lemon Loaf, and picks up a copy of the New York Times. I then place my order and the pretty blonde tanned barista smiles at my cheapie t-shirt, a knock-off of the Starbucks logo design that says NEW YORK CITY with the statue of liberty replacing the famous Starbucks muse. She asks me about it and we get to talking and we both agree that it would be a great marketing idea for Starbucks to make these t-shirts for the baristas in all the major cities, with appropriate logo modifications. I tell her to submit the idea to corporate and she giggles and says, "I will! They need us, huh?" I hope she does, and I hope that they didn't already do this ten years ago or something. Heh.

When I drive out, the Pro Sub Home Guy is sipping and reading away at the Safeway exit, feet propped up on his belongings, Ray-Bans on his face, with his sign reading, "HOMELESS...PLEASE HELP...GOD BLESS." I sip my Latte, and he doesn't even look up from his paper as I drive past him and back home, to go put away my bounty in my atheist fancy home.


Every so often, it is good to express random appreciation. So today I give a round of applause to:

Paul McCartney: for having the strength to play such a massive gig like Coachella on the 11th anniversary of his wife Linda's death and still put on a great show, for still getting out there despite criticism and mistakes and personal heartache, for still caring about music and showing people a good time.

Stephen Hawking
: for being a genius with a wicked sense of humor, and showing the world that his disability was never going to kick his ass,and bringing a sense of wonder to millions.

My Dog, Ellie: she is so nice.

Longboat Key, Sarasota, Florida
: that one part of the beach you can only get to from the parking lot across from the Chevron station, where it is quiet and clean, with powder white sand, and pretty shells, bluest skies, and gentle waves. Ahhhh.

Apple: for building the coolest stuff, and caring about design too.

The Nation Of Finland
: for producing the best disco dancers in the world.

The City Of New York
: You are wonderful, and my son fell in love with you as well. Good job being so awesome. I don't care what anyone else says about you, I like you just the way you are.

Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
: this never ever fails to impress, making people drool and wax poetic about the brownies for years afterward. Little powdered sugar over the top sends them into the gastronomic stratosphere. Nom nom nomic.

: Almost good enough to start a religion over.

President Barack Obama
: I like smart people.

Sarah Lavely & Ed King: for coming up with the brilliant "Sarah's Smash Shack" in San Diego, CA., a place where you can safely release your pent up aggression and anger by breaking cool stuff like plates with your boss' name on them or any stuff you wish to bring in. No smashing real people, though.

I encourage everyone to take some time today and appreciate something publicly, whatever it may be, whether it's your wife's incredible fried chicken, the guy who uses his directionals in traffic flawlessly, or whomever it was who pulled that Beyonce iso audio from the Today show. Kudos!


A lovely, lovely sunny day here today, 70s and perfect. My plan to take the dog for a nice walk down to the lake, OF COURSE, was thwarted because even if it is sunny the black cloud of HA HA follows me, even if it may be invisible to others. My problem? My issue, you ask? Oh, just the minor inconvenience of a SUDDEN RAGING URINARY TRACT INFECTION, IS ALL.

Let me describe this for you, if you have never been so blessed with one. Imagine you go to take a regular pee. Then imagine that when you pee, it feels like BURNING FIRE LAVA FROM SATAN'S INNER SANCTUM OF EXTRA-SPECIAL HELL. Your toes fall off and your brain crackles and and even if you are the Pope or even the Pope's Mom, you go, "HOLY SHIT MOTHERFUCK ASS DICK! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?" Then, after the excruciating fire urine is done, leaving your urethra feeling like it's been on the grill, you look to see that you have in fact peed out what looks like an entire bottle of Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice. OH GREAT. JUST GREAT.

Because the world is stupid, I can't just call up my doctor's office or the pharmacy and say YEAH, THIS SHIT AGAIN and have them give me the antibiotics and pain-relievers that I need to patch together my shattered psyche. No, I have to GO IN. My doctor and her PA are never available on such short notice, this I know, so when I call into the practice I am already ready to do battle with the receptionist. I HAVE NEEDS. STOP FIRE PLEASE NOW. My lucky day; someone can see me at 2:20PM. I hop in the shower, cringing every few seconds, get dressed and head over. Because I am extremely cool and all strong like bull you would never guess to see me, dressed in brown cargo shorts and a tie-dye t-shirt, rocking the shades and impudent pink purse, that I am in AIEEEE mode. No, I look all casual, reading a magazine in the waiting room, when if I were only strong like, oh say, calf, I would be hopping around from foot to foot (or hoof to hoof) and screaming, "AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" No, I will read an article about antiquing at London's famous Portobello Market instead, and wait for my name to be called.

"Mhreuhn?" A nurse in chartreuse-green scrubs with a heavy Russian accent opens the door and smiles at me. I don't even care if she doesn't mean me; I am taking this appointment. She asks me to step on the scale, and I have a moment of inner YES! when it reads a couple pounds less then my scale at home. Sweet. Ow. She directs me to Exam Room 14, opens a laptop, asks me why I am there, gives the appropriate compassionate face when I tell her, then takes my temp and blood pressure. Then it is time to pee in a cup. She points me to the bathroom where an extremely-graphic representation of HOW TO PEE IN A CUP is plastered on the handtowel dispenser. I want to say, "Yeah, lady, I know how to do a clean catch, I'm a professional, but DAMN these sketches of genitals and urine are skeeving me RIGHT OUT." But I smile and nod instead.

Grab cup. Name write on with Sharpie. Sit. Wipe with wipe. FIRE PISS IN CUP. Note darkening hue of fire piss and wince. Wipe, flush, shorts on, put cup in Magic Pee Cup Door, wash hands, back to Exam Room 14 to sit on the table and read more about new elaborate hotels in Europe and China and South Africa that I will never stay in.

The doctor comes in, with a rap on the door preceding him. He is an Asian man, and looks to be about 15 years old. I realize this perception will just keep happening to me as I get older. He opens his laptop and quizzes me as well:

Young Asian Doctor: Any pain or urgency?

Me: Well, yeah. Heh.

YAD: Fever? Pain in kidney?

Me: No. I feel fine otherwise.

YAD: Hmm. There's a lot of blood in your urine.

Me: Eeeyup.

YAD: No pain in the kidneys, huh?

Me: No. None.

YAD: Hmm. Lie back for a second.

He prods my kidneys and stomach, and I tell him it is not uncomfortable. I do not add that, well, I don't exactly like have a stranger prod me with fingers and if we were on the street I would hit you for doing that and yell loudly, something like HEY WTF ARE YOU DOING? That is unnecessary information. As a Professional Patient, I am knowing it is mostly best to shut up and just get your drugs.

He is still skeptical and wants me to come back in a couple of weeks to pee again. I say, oh OK, and also please give me a scrip for pyridium as well as the Cipro, thanks. He sends the medicine request directly from his laptop to my local Walgreens and dismisses me for the day. My poorly-designed excretory system and I walk to the car and drive up to the OOGCP. It is still sunny and warm, and pain and urgency be damned, I am getting an Iced Latte and a sandwich while I wait for the prescriptions to be filled.

I sit outside with my stuff, legs stretched out on a second chair, and I read a recent issue of Rolling Stone. It has some interesting content, and my focus is taken off my predicament for a few minutes. A young fuzzy haired man is sitting with his girl at the table next to me. He has a laptop and a MIDI keyboard and is apparently composing something while she texts and giggles. Another man in a backwards baseball cap to my left looks so much like someone I know, I triple-take him. A man using a walker goes by with his latte. A large yellow schoolbus from the toniest private school on the Eastside drops a student off at Starbucks across the street. Only in Seattle-ish.

I stay until I think I should probably head home, get the drugs, and then write on the internet about my UTI. 2009 is really shaping up, huh?


The park was busy, filled with children and parents eager to be out of the house after a long grey winter, tourists with cameras taking pictures of the dogwoods, joggers, Frisbee players, bird feeders, homeless people with carts and signs and paper bags, dog walkers and their various canine charges, birds swooping and chirping, cars and buses pulsing around the perimeter. The sun shone down on it all, all this life and green in the middle of the city.

It was a lousy place to say goodbye. Too pretty, too public.

My head felt like a hammer was pounding from the inside, insistent, merciless pressure. Stunned and angry, and pushing down a fear that felt like a rising flood, I called to my daughter, who was playing on the climbing gym with another kindergarten friend. I called her once, irritated, twice with a rising ugly tone that got her attention. She dragged and whined while I grabbed her hand too tightly and tugged her to the car, which was parallel parked on the east side of the park. I didn’t hear what she said, just the rushing sound of the cars swooshing by and a replay of words, broken from context, that rattled and mocked me from inside my head. I snapped her seatbelt into place, shut her door with more force than was needed, then slammed my body into the driver’s seat and jammed the keys in the ignition, roaring the engine to life. I jerked the car into the road, kept to the right to get on the wide boulevard that ran the length of the north side of the park. I usually avoided the boulevard, because it was always so busy. I don’t like to drive.

The merge came up, right turn on red was clear. I turned my head over my left shoulder. There was a black Yukon barreling up, but I decided to go anyway. I didn’t feel like stopping and waiting for some endless line of traffic to pass, and it felt good to put the accelerator to the floor and feel the power of the engine push me back into my seat. It felt like everything inside me, the grief and the fury, spewed out in squealing tires and exhaust.

For those seconds, I never looked forward, kept my head turned back with an eye on the Yukon to see if he was going to get too close to my tail, as I heard the engine whine and wind, the turbo kicking in. I never looked forward until I heard the sound of a heavy fast thump on my front bumper, an odd sick sound, over as fast as it happened. I glanced at my speedometer. 50 MPH. I knew. I knew right then, braked and slowed the car, and pulled to the right, and stopped.

“Mama,” my daughter spoke, plain and matter-of-fact as if she were telling me what time it was, “You hit a man.”

I sat there as I began to understand, a heavy horrible black cloud settling in. I knew he would be dead. It was my fault. The police would be here soon, an ambulance, TV trucks, gawkers from the park, horns honking on the backed up boulevard, and I would be taken to jail.

My daughter calmly ate her snack in the back of the car, and began to sing the Alphabet Song to herself.

Easy dream to analyze, no?


I am a long-time fan of the musician Robyn Hitchcock. I first heard him when he was with the Soft Boys, a legendary British strange-pop band. The song that came over the crackling reception of Madison's WORT-FM was "Kingdom of Love," and I loved it immediately. Unfortunately for me, I didn't catch the name of the band as the DJ spoke it after the song, and I wandered aimlessly in the forests of Wisconsin for years until I made my way south to Wax Trax in Chicago and found a 12" single, coincidentally titled "Kingdom of Love." Could it be the same song, thought I? There are probably many other songs with the same title, probably by the Huntsville, Alabama First Baptist Ladies'Friends of Jeeheebah Choir or Robert Goulet or Grandmaster Flash. But lucky me, it turned out to be the song I remembered from the radio, and I immediately started buying up all the Soft Boys and Robyn Hitchcock records I could find.

Robyn Hitchcock has a very unique sound and style -- there is no mistaking him for anyone else once you hear him. There are many worthy musical references in his work -- notably the Beatles and Syd Barrett -- but his lyrics, surreal and silly and literary and thoughtful all at once, make the songs undeniably his. He is a wonderful live performer who is always effortlessly funny and interesting, whatever he does.

My considerable estimation of him only increased today, after reading this interview:

This is my favorite part:
CNN: I've heard you called "the alternative Bob Dylan."

Hitchcock: I wish! ...

I always say, the deeper your roots, the broader your branches. Dylan used to do many different kinds of music, read many plays and went to movies, drew pictures -- he still does. He absorbs a lot. But he goes down deep. If people get anything from my stuff, it would be nice if it's an emotional [reaction]. In the end, it's how you make people feel about your songs that lasts. If I have a fraction of that, then that's fantastic.

The "alternative Bob Dylan" tag I don't really agree with, but I love what Robyn says about his songs and what is important to him about them. Music is really about communication, as are all artistic ventures. You have succeeded in the best of what is possible to get from it if what you have created connects with someone else. Sometimes art says things for people that they cannot articulate fully, awakens feelings in them that were long buried or ignored, makes them feel a little less singular in an often frantic and confusing world. It doesn't always have to be profound. Sometimes, it can just be fun, and this has just as much worth.

Robyn Hitchcock totally gets that being able to write and play for people for a living is an immense privilege. He is comfortable in his own skin, loves what he does, appreciates what he has, and is not a giant asshole. What more could you want from a rock star?

Robyn Hitchcock -- "I Often Dream Of Trains"


I woke this morning from a dream wherein I was in an airplane that had to make an emergency landing in a large field full of concertgoers. I was all like WHOA we are landing in a field. By the time we were nearly to the ground, the plane had morphed into a Mini Cooper and my dog was in the front seat. The landing was flawless, everyone including myself was completely impressed with the pilot, but I was a little bummed that I was stuck wearing pajamas and a trucker hat and had no makeup on.

In that vain vein, I got up and took a shower. I don’t really like taking showers first thing in the morning. I am often still completely asleep and will occasionally forget to wash the conditioner out of my hair or I will just stand there, for how long I cannot be sure, and not do anything at all while the water runs to cold. Then I feel silly and annoyed that I have to finish washing with cold water and I frown at the shower walls. It’s really better if I get up and have some coffee first. It’s good to know things.

After my shower, I put on my ZIH jeans. This is not a brand; ZIH refers to the fact that these jeans have the world’s shortest zipper. It does not go zzzzzzzzzzzzzip. It does not go zzzzip. It does not even go zip. It, less than an inch long, goes zih. Why why why why why why have a zipper at all that short? Three big buttons, and a zih. This zipper struck me as so absurd and amusing that I simply had to purchase the jeans.

As you would guess, they are ridiculously low. It’s possible they do not even cover my hipbones or my ass valley. I must wear a belt with the ZIH pants or it is a Washington State misdemeanor. I do the general public a favor and also always wear a longish shirt over them because, frankly, no one wants to know the information given if I have to bend over and pick up a dropped restaurant napkin or something. I am thoughtful like that. All this effort, just for a zipper that makes me laugh. ZIH!

It’s been a really long time since I had such low pants, probably 1974 or 1975 or so. I don’t think I really even had hips to place them on then. But I liked them, they suited me better than the uncomfortable and unflattering high-waisted pants that arrived soon after. But there was no option to keep wearing the low pants; by the time the high pants came back, the low pants were sluttish and old-fashioned and hippie-ish, and were unacceptable in the Teenage Fashion Pavilion that was Oconomowoc Junior High School. Why did I care? Well, I know why I cared, but it is so silly. Waistband up, waistband down, jeans dark, jeans light, flares, no flares. They keep changing it, and we keep buying it.

But I am glad to say that it seems there is more choice in fashion than ever before. You can actually find something that both flatters you and seems fresh. Is this important? Does it cure cancer? Well, MAYBE IT DOES, MAYBE IT DOES, DAMMIT.

The next time I go flying in a Mini Cooper in my dreams I simply must remember to take along some makeup and a change of clothes. You’d think I’d have that down by now.


Today I went into Seattle to see a 13 minute and 29 second set by Say Hi, which is a group, which is really a dude named Eric Elbogen who gets some help from two other dudes when he plays live. KEXP, the grand independent radio station out of Seattle that you really should check out (see link to the side, lazy ass), has a Capitol Hill membership appreciation day today and tonight, with live bands and discounts in the neighborhood for members LIKE ME, and Say Hi were set to play at the un-rock hour of 11:30AM. This is nothing but good for me, as the kids were in school and I was somewhat awake. The last load of white laundry would have to JUST WAIT.

I got to the second floor of Cafe Vitta with five minutes to spare until the band began. To my right was a group of rather small schoolchildren, practicing covering their ears with their hands. If I had my set of Hear-O earplugs, I gladly would have given them to the group, or even if I had kleenex to wad up in their little ears, I would have helped wad. I asked their teacher where they were from -- Alternative School #1, in the Northgate area of Seattle. Well, that is pretty damn awesome, says me, so rock on AS #1, I salute you.

I first heard Say Hi on SIRIUS XMU a few months ago with the very catchy song, "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh." Yes, that's 8 Ohs. I was very intrigued and encouraged to find out that Mr. Elbogen records his music on a Mac, OMG JUST LIKE ME. Now, he is a whole lot better than beginner computer recorder me, but I felt a little kinship there. I wanted to see how a completely solo guy doing everything into a Mac translated his stuff to the live stage. Here's the answer:

Say Hi -- "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh"

Say Hi -- "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh,"

I was a little surprised that he went as basic as he did -- just one guitar, one bass, and one drum set. It sounded good, and I had a very fun 13 minutes and 29 seconds rocking out. Everyone seemed happy. How nice is that. Thanks, Say Hi and KEXP!


A usual Thursday morning here – get kids up for school, make kids breakfast, make kids lunches and pack them in their backpacks, nag kids to finish eating, remind kids to brush their teeth and hair and find their shoes and quit bickering and hey wait finish that sausage, and get them out the door. In the middle of this, today MissSix, out of nowhere and to no one in particular, said, “I liked what Obama said in that speech. Bill Gates shouldn't have all the money, the people who work should have the money because they work.”

I stopped shoving granola bars in insulated bags for a second and glanced up at her, and smiled. She had a rather earnest look on her face, seemed satisfied with her statement, then returned to her sausage-nomming. I have no idea whatsoever where she came up with her interesting mashup of information – certainly not from this Microsoft-powered household – but I delight in her 1st grade politics, and that she is thinking about such things. MissMarx.

I think, to her and probably a lot of other kids in the area, Bill Gates is The King of America. They know he lives in a mansion, has all the gold, and has thousands of minions toiling away for him in the bowels of concrete-and-glass buildings spread out all over his Land. He meets with Presidents and Prime Ministers and Kings and rock stars. Everything and anything is at his beck and call. He eats bon bons and drinks thick chocolate milkshakes from Burgermaster all day, delivered to him on a platinum platter from a diamond-encrusted hovercraft. He is mysterious and powerful, so much so that he can keep Daddy from getting home in time for tuck-in at night, sometimes.

Grade school children, developmentally, are all about rules and what is fair. They are beginning to see the world outside their own needs and wants, and this world is lacking nuance, abstraction, rationalization, or subtlety. It is starkly black-and-white. Things are right or wrong, period. MissSix can’t grasp the complexities of modern democracy, the redistribution of wealth beginning with the Industrial Revolution, the debate over compassionate social programs vs. the lingering apathy of the welfare state, Capitalism and the bell curve, or that you can have people starve to death in the middle of the candy store. That is no breakfast discussion; it is maybe best brought up over a seven-course dinner.

It will take her awhile to see for herself that the concept of what is “fair” is an endless argument, and that rules are often chameleon in nature, and are sometimes things to be paid great heed, or ignored completely, or smashed into pieces. For now, she can eat her healthy balanced breakfast, tie her shoes, and just think.


Now, I consider myself to be one lucky little cub. I was born at the very tail end of the Boomer generation, the baby of the Babies. For me, it was a phenomenal time to be a kid; the ‘60s were such a BIG decade and I was all about BIG. I wonder if that was just who I was or if the times made that in me. Maybe some of both.

Anyway, I think of it as nothing but a huge plus that I was very little and taking in all this very rich musical, social, and political content. Little kids have no filters yet; they soak up everything around them like a sponge. There is no overthinking, no cynicism, no context. Everything is literal and believed just as served, even if that is not the reality of said things. There is a kind of purity to it.

I was a radio brat, as I have mentioned before. This was the heydey of the AM pop personality DJs, and it was very exciting stuff to listen to. Things were a-happenin’, baby! The DJs made it sound like there was nothing cooler in the universe, that somewhere out there, far from my big green lawn with cows passing by in the pasture behind it, girls were doing a wicked Twist somewhere Downtown wearing Mondrian print minis and flirting with long-haired guitar players. How I wanted in! Just wait for me to grow up! Wait for me! Give me just ten more years or so! I’ll be right there, Frugging away! I am growing my hair as fast as I can!

I listened to all the songs, mainly Top 40 of course, with the occasional regional oddity tossed in. I just didn’t have too much of an idea about creative license yet, and I more or less believed that WHAT ROCK STARS SANG, WAS TRUE. Some of these songs, most of them, were pretty straightforward anyway and caused me no confusion. I believed that the Beatles wanted to hold my hand, or some other girl’s, and that seemed just fine. Other songs just confused me completely. I felt so bad for Mick Jagger. As I heard it over the transistor, he was raised by a toothless bearded hag with a strap right ‘cross his back! Aw! Even though he said he was “alright now,” I felt surely he must have suffered terribly and wondered how he got away from the mean old hag, whom I pictured as the witch from Hansel & Gretel.

Even more disturbing was Mr. Arthur Brown. In “Fire,” he wanted me to BURN! Oh, that was very bad indeed! He kept telling me I was going to burn, burn, burn, and even laughed about it. I vowed to avoid Mr. Brown and his arsonist ways. I figured someone would probably put him in the looney bin with Napoleon XIV, of “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha.” Good riddance! They were probably dirty crazy hippies anyway.

Scott McKenzie implored me to put flowers in my hair and I did, even though all I could find were dandelions in my yard and I was nowhere near San Francisco. The Guess Who told a story about a girl coming “Undone,” who I figured was the flying LSD-casualty Diane Linkletter. Drugs are bad, mmmkay? The Monkees were gonna get the hell out of Pleasant Valley and get on the last train to Clarksville, and I wondered why they didn’t just take the Monkeemobile. The Animals also wanted to get outta this place, which must have been the House of the Rising Sun, which sounded like an unhappy kind of joint anyway. Snoopy fought valiantly against the Red Baron, and maybe he could fly down in his Sopwith Camel to swoop up Sloopy, who was having a tough time hanging on.

Communication problems were rampant. The Yardbirds weren’t talkin’, and the Beatles kept trying to say hello when some other dunce kept saying goodbye. Who would ever say goodbye to the Beatles? Unthinkable. The Rascals didn’t know how they could be sure, but then figured it out by the last line of the song, which was a much better situation than that whole eating out their hearts anymore thing. Smokey Robinson’s clown makeup got all messed up by tears; his sadness camouflage wasn’t working. The Turtles imagined we could be happy together but didn’t do anything about it, and the Association told me I didn’t know how many times they wished they could mold me into someone who could cherish them as much as they cherished me. Speak up, guys!

Gary Lewis’ diamond ring got messed up. What does a guy do with a messed up diamond ring? I guess he could have sold it to buy his way out of Vietnam, but NO. I guess it wasn’t shiny enough. Marilyn McCoo was flat out bold in asking Bill for a ring. Gary could have sold it to Bill, who could have given it to Marilyn, who was so desperate to get married she would not even care if it was dulled. BEEEEELLLL! MARRY ME, BEEEEEELLL! The band of gold didn’t work at all for Freda Payne; that dude bailed out on her wedding night, ferchrissakes. If I had known what gay was back then, that is what I would have guessed was going on there. Poor Freda. Maybe Bill could buy up her ring, too. Marilyn is still braying.

Expert textpert choking smoker don’t you think the Joker laughs at you, ho ho ho, hee hee hee hee, ha ha ha? Well, duh, of course he’s laughing, he’s the Joker! But Batman will vanquish him tonight in Part Two, so Gotham City gets the last laugh.

These were all little stories to me, not much different than a Little Golden Book except the illustrations were in 16 Magazine and Tiger Beat. If I had been a little bit older, all of these songs would not have been quite so imagination-filled for me, and maybe not quite as magical. Still very cool, but not so filled with living, breathing characters from somewhere way way out there in Rock n’ Roll Land.

Time did not wait for me. By the time I grew my hair out to my butt, the DJs all sounded low and stoned and were into Glam or Anne Murray. But in my mind, I can still say hello to Paul McCartney, and he can push back my hair a little, and adjust that wilting dandelion behind my ear, as we ride the Monkeemobile into my pasture sunset.

The Beatles -- "Hello Goodbye"


From, the source of info for all us Kinks people left in the world:

Monday, 13th April, 2009
2:20 pm - Pete Quaife is taking himself out of the picture, with regards to any sort of Kinks reunion:

"I know that this might sound self centered but I have had enough of the transparent, overblown nonsense of what they call 'showbusiness'. This is where I want to be. Surrounded by my own friends and family and able to put the past behind me. As it is, I am more content and happy, painting the Danish countryside and seashore, talking with peers and relaxing as a pensionist should!"

Pete appreciates the support he has received from fans over the years, but he now wants his privacy. He hopes that fans and the press will respect this and no longer attempt to contact him.

Ah, Pete.

A little background for you non-Kinks fans. Pete Quaife was an original member of the Kinks, the bassist in the band, sang a little, was there with brothers Ray and Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory from the very start in ol’ Muswell Hill, North London. Those four guys went through the fire of becoming worldwide pop stars, creating music that became deeply influential and touched many millions of people. But in 1969, Pete left the band and never returned. He had briefly retired from the Kinks once before in 1966 after a serious car wreck, but came back to work on what most fans and critics believe were the band’s finest albums. It wasn’t enough for Pete to stay.

Pete has a big personality. All four of them do. When they were all pulling in the same direction, it was magic. When ego and exhaustion and inexperience and immaturity reared up, disaster. Pete, garrulous, dramatic, a natural raconteur, and nobody’s fool, often gave interviews in the band’s early days, more erudite than the teenage Dave Davies, less dry-humored and mush-mouthed than Mick Avory, and more outgoing than Ray Davies. But rather quickly the spotlight turned towards Ray, and remained there as he morphed from a shy pimply young man singing marginal blues covers into an extremely-gifted songwriter and a compelling and charming front man. His talent was utterly undeniable, backed by a very steely drive to do things his way.

You could ask all four men how things really were and why everything turned out the way it did, and you would get four different stories. Blame and bitterness hand in hand with an obvious respect for each others’ talents. It’s a rather sad combination to see, forty years past the breakup of the original band. It is my opinion that Ray Davies was extremely hurt by Pete leaving the band, like he abandoned ship, and he never forgave him for it. The Kinks continued on for many years, Mick Avory holding out between the battling Davies brothers until 1984, the band playing together the for last time in 1996.

So Pete has spent nearly all his life either in the Kinks or in the shadow of the Kinks, despite moving on with his life and becoming a graphic artist. The questions never stopped: would he ever rejoin the band and reunite the Kinks, be that wonderful thing that people loved so much? Forty years of questions about what it was like, and questions about Pete’s old school pals, one of whom became very wealthy and deeply admired. I can see why he has finally, at age 65, tired of it.

I was too little to see Pete play with the Kinks, and I very much regret that I never had the chance to meet him in person. I did have the great experience of speaking with him over the phone and writing back and forth for awhile when he began work on his book, Veritas, a fictionalized account of the 1960s Kinks, his take, his voice heard. Pete sent me his huge first-draft manuscript to read over, edit, and proof, and to give my opinion on character development, flow, etc. It was an honor. The book remains unpublished, sadly. I hope that he finished it, and I hope sometime he can return to it fresh and try again to get it out to the public.

But I suspect he will not. In just those few words from him above, it is clear to me that the sadness and bitterness is still there, enough that he finally had to pull the plug on any connection with the band or the music business. There was never going to be a Kinks reunion at this point. The brothers, also in their 60s and both having gone through life-threatening injury and illness, are still unable to get along enough to work together. Pete, on kidney dialysis since 1998, hardly needs to step into the same old misery. There just would never be enough return for him. It was never really about money, or fame, although that surely came into it, admitted or not. It was more about respect and peace of mind, priceless things. As strong a unit as those four guys were, as much joy as they gave people, it simply wasn’t enough to keep them working as a functional unit, and even the memories of when it was good, nostalgia, sentiment, recaptured youth, are not powerful enough for any of them to truly set aside their resentments to see if they could play together, even once more.

Pete, I am sorry I will never get the chance to shake your hand and thank you so much for being a part of something that was so very important to me. This will have to do. I wish you great happiness and an endless supply of paints and brushes, a comfortable stool to sit on, and the most lovely seashore sunsets…many, many more of them.

The Kinks -- "Starstruck"


That nap I wanted for today? FOUR FULL HOURS OF SWEET DELICIOUS COMA. As a load of laundry whirred and clunked away, the dog napped on the porch sheltered from the rain, and the construction guys apparently took the morning off, I rested without interruption. I don't think I dreamed, and if I did it probably was of sleeping.

I am trying not to be too much of a crank about the trip. Any time I can learn something or see something new, it is good. But I never was one of these 15-countries-in-10-days kind of person, that never ever appealed to me.I would rather miss out on seeing a few things, and instead really dig into one place more fully.

However, I will say this: this tour company, trading on the good name of the Smithsonian, offered a cut-rate experience on every front while charging hefty bucks. It is not at all what I or any of the other participants expected. There was zero benefit to going through Smithsonian Student Travel -- no perks for anything Smithsonian, no informed tour guide, no competent bus driver, no decent meals, nothing but shoving us on and off the bus, with often very little time to see anything, or no time -- the lines were too long. We had to share the tour with a group of 8th graders from Ventura, California, not told to us until the last minute. That could have been dodgy with our younger and rather naive group of 5th graders, but these kids were at all times quiet and polite and were a pleasure to travel with. I wish they could have had a better experience,too. They came from a public school and had to raise a whole lot of money for the trip, and it was a very big deal for them. Sigh.

It will be interesting for me to see how Mr11 processes the trip, what he gets from it all, what the lasting impressions will be. Right now, it's already in the past for him and he is thinking ahead to the Science Fair, and what he would like to make for that. MissSix announced she intends to make a pair of Walking Pants, so Mr11 better bring his A game.

As for me, when I return to New York City or Washington, D.C., I guarantee I will not be staying next to an adult store in the hinterlands or have the police handling a domestic disturbance call on my hotel floor, or eating in a restaurant with a cat sitting by the open bins of hot food. Unless I want to.


Yes, that was how it felt today, Sleepster instead of Easter. I slept, woke up long enough to eat a lovely cheese and avocado omelet, open my birthday presents, play a bit on the computer, then BAM! Total fatigue and back to bed. The kids were happy, the Bunny did indeed arrive with copious amounts of candy. I ate a tiny bag of jellybeans and marveled that it was more sugary than sugar itself.

I smiled all big over my presents. My family, who all know I am goofy, got me new stuff for Garage Band so I can continue making more music and fun: Jam Pack Rhythm Section, a midi keyboard, and a big control panel. OMG, I almost have a STUDIO! Ha ha, how great. It was a wonderful surprise, and as soon as I can lop 5GB off this seriously-loaded laptop I can begin to play with these goodies. YAY! Watch this space for more obnoxiousness soon!

I slept, took a shower, ate some decent take-out Easter dinner. Tomorrow will be quiet, with nothing more than the sounds of the laundry going, me transferring computer files to an external hard drive, and the blissful, rustling sounds of me taking a nap of grand and epic duration. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I can't wait to get to sleep tonight just to be able to take this nap. I tell ya.

Mr11, commenting from the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building, has the last word for tonight.


As a reminder that I was returning to Seattle today, the weather in New York City was chilly-ish and rainy. Of course. I cannot go anywhere without the cloud following me for some kind of duration. The good part is that I didn’t have to do any walking outside today in the rain. What I was allowed was a FORTY MINUTE trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Forty minutes to see one of the world’s most renowned museums (insert Benny Hill theme music here). Well, it was 40 more minutes than I ever had there, anyway.

So that I felt less agonized by what I missed, I limited myself to only viewing the Egyptian artifacts wing, the largest such collection in the Western Hemisphere, I hear. It was quite literally awesome in the antiquated use of the word – awe-inspiring, thought-provoking, wondrous. The items were so pristine, so varied, so many, that I had to remind myself these were not replicas; these were real pieces. It is hard to take in, Ancient History n’ stuff. Everything about the exhibit was so impressive not only in the artifacts themselves, but the layout and display. I so love production, what goes into creating something. When I think about all of that, it deepens any experience for me, to deconstruct the pieces and imagine all that had to be made from scratch, something from nothing. From the lighting, to the colors on the walls, to the display cases, the arrangement of things…ooh, it just thrills my little heart. Beautifully done, and worthy of the precious items.

I allotted seven minutes at the end to the gift shop, as I wanted to bring back something special for MissSix, and thought that the Newark airport would not be quite as good an opportunity for that task. With the tour director barking at me in her southern accent that WE REALLY NEED TO GET GOING NOW, I found my daughter a cute little Degas ballerina doll, and a pale pink t-shirt with a silver sparkly dancer on it. I also at the last second snared a hot pink t-shirt for ME that said POW! in lovely 60s Batman-style pop art letters. I hustled down the street in the rain to the bus, NOT LATE, GODDAMMIT, and we set off for the airport.

This was the first time that I went through the science-fiction-type AIR POOF machine at security. After you place your items on the security belt, you go inside this booth, and it shoots out little blasts of air and light at you, and smells like burning hair. Its function is to steal your very soul and to also check to see if you have any explosive residue on your person. Mr11 and I passed. I have been soulless for awhile now anyway so no great loss, but I was able to buy another for Mr11 at the Hudson newsstand, along with a couple of bottles of water and some trail mix.

Up in the air, off to Chicago, Starbucks run, bathroom stop, up in the air now to Seattle. Because United Airlines are REAL COMEDIANS, this time they didn’t show me a movie that made me cry, they showed me one of the two I already saw last year and already wrote about here, Frost/Nixon. I watched it again because I had enjoyed it before and was tired of my crap magazines and iPod. It did not have the same impact as on the big screen, of course, but it remained a good story. Frank Langella is the man.

I also watched a very poorly-written sitcom episode with some redheaded girl and remembered again why I do not bother to watch TV. Even the favorable mention of the Violent Femmes in the show did not redeem it. Oy.

I wish I had a week just to think and do nothing to process this whole trip. I wish I had a week straight to sleep. I hope that the Easter Bunny comes, because I sure as shit ain’t going out to Walgreens tonight. I am hopping across the entire United States, and that is enough for one day.


Last full day of the trip. I woke up about as fouled-mooded as I can get, but just tried to stay quiet. This was always going to be a tough week, I knew that. When you are dead tired and overwhelmed on top of it, it just doesn't make things better. There was nothing I could really do about it.

As we rode from New Jersey back into Manhattan, I slumped against the bus window, trying to push down a rising tide of morose, and the sky caught my eye. It was the prettiest puff pattern of clouds, so uniform,with the sun glowing right through the middle. I stared at it for awhile, looking way up as the bus rumbled past the strip malls and diners and big box stores and motels and the Meadowlands. I don't know if I had ever seen anything quite like it, but it did please me and I took a picture of it.

The day got better when a man named Laurent, a very sort of Alan Arkin type guy, boarded our bus and acted as our Manhattan tour guide for a couple of hours. He was funny and smart, and knew his city well, although he did get John Lennon's death date wrong. I did not correct him, as it seemed like if I did I would get the NYC-style stink eye. It's OK. Dates aren't important, really; the impact of the event was the point.

After a bit, Laurent had the bus pull over at a very nice, quiet, and manicured spot in Central Park on the Upper East Side. We all took a potty break, and let the kids run around for a bit. I decided to run too, to pretend for a little time like I was a jogger in Central Park. It felt good. It just felt good to move, despite my sore feet and pink purse banging on my side.

Went on the ferry over to Ellis Island (yes, I had to stand in more lines, but they were not so bad this time, nyah) ambled around looking at the exhibits, watched a movie there, went back and plotzed around Battery Park while talking to poor KT, many blocks away, nursing a cold and a cat bite on her hand. Mr11 asked if he could man the cannon and I told him the National Park Ranger standing nearby would not be all that happy about it.

Uptown again for a Korean buffet, then to Times Square, where I motored Mr11 around the very crowded streets like I MEAN BUISNESS, stopped at a terrible gift store which means great because it was so cheesy, and let the kid buy a NYC baseball hat that was probably made by a 5-year-old in Malaysia. Ran back to the New Amsterdam Theater to see the production of Mary Poppins. We had seats almost to the top of the house. It was a fun show with lots of energy and some pretty cool sets n' stuff. At the end, Mary flew right up to the ceiling, right in front of us nosebleeders, where I could see her twinkling eyes as she disappeared into the rafters. I personally would have to be paid a shitload of money to be on any damn wires up that high. I am sure the actress is making a fine salary.

New York City reminds me, anything can happen if you let it. So much is choice, and we are so often our own worst enemies. Don't waste any time. Respect it.

So much energy and power and creativity and fulfillment around, to be seen and felt.

Anything can happen if you let it
Sometimes things are difficult but you can bet it
Doesn't have to be so

Changes can be made

You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade

Anything can happen, it's a marvel

You can be a butterfly

Or just stay larval

Stretch your mind beyond fantastic
Dreams are made of strong elastic

Take some sound advice and don't forget it

Anything can happen if you let it

I wonder...

Anything can happen if you let it

You won't know a challenge until you've met it

No one does it for you

No one but yourself
Vacillating violets get left up on the shelf
Anything can happen, just imagine

That should be epitaph
I wear the badge in
Hhonour of this world's free thinkers

Those who see beyond their blinkers

Jelly isn't jelly

'Til you set it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
What good is a whistle

Unless you whet it

Broaden your horizons

Open different doors

You may find a you there that you never knew was yours

Anything can happen

Raise the curtain
Things you though impossible

Will soon seem certain
Thought at first it may sound clownish
See the world more upside-downish
Turn it on its head then pirouette it

Anything can happen if you let it

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we've found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in

You get the stars thrown in

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we've found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in

Anything can happen if you let it
Life is out there waiting so go and get it
Grab it by the collar, seize it by the scruff
Once you've started living life you just can't get enough

Anything can happen, it's official
You can choose the super or the superficial
Sally forth the way we're steering
Obstacles start disappearing
Go and chase your dreams you won't regret it
Anything can happen
(Anything can happen)
Anything can happen

Anything can happen

If you let it

Original Broadway Cast, Mary Poppins -- "Anything Can Happen"




Four hours waiting in line, eight hours travel time on a bus (2.5 hours of that stuck outside the Lincoln Tunnel)for NINETY MINUTES of actual time at the National Archive and the Observation Deck at the Empire State Building. TOTAL. Don't sit there, move along in line, hurry up, hurry up and wait.

I would say NO some more but I am so tired NOW that I am past Washington's death bed and into some other kind of surreal world, perhaps, oh maybe, HELL?

Plus side: weather was very nice today and I bought a t-shirt with the famous picture of Elvis meeting Nixon on it. I also didn't get killed when a semi nearly sideswiped us. A bunch of other people gasped and yelled, but I was too tired and went, "Oh. Yeah. Truck there."

Now I sit in New Jersey, with the ADULT EMPORIUM next to my hotel. My room smells like cat piss, my feet ache, Mr11 is passed out and begged me to not stand in more lines tomorrow.

Avast ye all, Pirate Mom to the rescue. Arr.


If I thought I was tired yesterday, today I am as tired as George Washington himself, listless on his death bed with pneumonia and 800,000 leeches attached to his body. You don't realize the depth of the tired until you stop moving for a bit, as I have done now, then get up again and stiffen like one of those wacky fainting goats. I saw both Mount Vernon and goats today, along with a slew of other memorials, monuments, presidential residentials, and some very amusing and elaborate chickens. I did more Rocky-style running up marble steps and the steep back lawn of Mount Vernon, and a mad Olympic-flame-style dash through a crowded local mall to find a hat and scarf with seven minutes to spare. Thank you, treadmill, because otherwise I would be a frigging goner here for sure, wheezing and hobbling and waving people to go on without me. I do wish I would have brought Mr11's spring shoes though, and do not doubt for one moment that I would not have employed them and perhaps rented them out for 5-minute intervals to dapper Italian tourists.

My day nearly was derailed completely, or should I say debussed, when in the hotel lobby this morning I returned from a quick bathroom stop to find every single member of our group and the bus GONE. OHHHH, I said to myself, THAT AIN'T GOOD. I called Mr11's teacher on her cell phone:


Teacher: Hello?

Me: Hi. It's Marianne.


Me: I am not there.

Teacher: No! I guess you aren't! Ha ha ha!

Me: Where are you? I don't see the bus.

Teacher: We are around the corner all the way to the right.

Me: I'll be right there. Heh.


First stop was Arlington National Cemetery. It was actually much larger than I imagined and much prettier, with rolling hills and big trees. I was glad to see it, and would have liked to have sat there awhile away from the crowds and groups to just sit and think and take it in for a bit. We were shooed away from JFK's gravesite after just a couple of minutes by a rather adamant security guy (they are all adamant here), but not told why. As we shooed and shuffled, some actual DC looking types walked quickly by us. It turned out we had to vacate so the Prime Minister of Lebanon could pay his respects for 2 minutes then motor out again in one of those big scary black vans. Well, I guess it was important enough for him to want to do, even if he didn't hang out for long. I suppose dignitaries have to do all kinds of dignified things on state visits, going through Washington much like I am, see-this-see-this-see-this-eat-some-shit-see-this-see-this-see-this-bathroom-break-see-this-see-this-drop.

I feel bad for saying this, but I am being honest here, because this is MY site and I can say what I like, and because my opinion doesn't matter whatsoever. Watching the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier kind of disturbed me. I understand that the guard positions are a great military honor, but the precision robotic perfection demanded, not to mention that the guards also cannot watch any TV, go on the net, listen to radio, or do anything but study about Arlington for six months. They can never swear or drink alcohol the rest of their lives. Really, I think the poor unknown souls lost in war would probably just say, "Hey, you know, I really wish I could have gone back to my family, but it's gonna be OK. I know you appreciate my service and sacrifice and I would have a beer with you and talk about stuff and laugh and enjoy life if I were still alive. Thanks and all." It just seemed kind of not American to me, not what any of those guys were fighting for, anyway.

Space shuttle disaster? Check. Jefferson? Check. WWII? Check. FDR? Check. Iwo Jima? Check. Don't get me wrong, I was glad to see them, particularly the Roosevelt site, because I am a real fan of his words and it is a really cool design as well, but I think the kids would have understood more about what it all stands for by just spending time and talking to some veterans and immigrants, and hearing their real stories. People who get what "Freedom is not free" is all about.

Front of the White House? Check. Drive by Pentagon and a billion other important places? Check. Go to Mount Vernon, not see the mansion because the line was too long? Check. But I did get to see the Dung Repository, have some nice conversations about life and travel and politics, watch my son run and wrestle and play on the big green lawn, and I laughed at the sounds of two tiny hungry black lambs.

Dinner? Oh my. Here's the list: HEY, ASSISTANT MANAGER/ORDER TAKER AT FUDDRUCKERS IN ALEXANDRIA, VA. ! 1. You Are A Giant Bitch 2. You Are The Single Worst Person I Have Ever Encountered At A Restaurant 3. Your Hair Is Overbleached And Your Grammar Is Poor 4. You Were So Shitty To All Of Those Nice Kids, FOR NOTHING 5. You Are Damn Lucky It Wasn't Me Who Told You That You SUCK, Because I Would Have Been Much Meaner And Blunter And Punched You In Your Hillbilly Teeth

An evening hour or so spent in the very lovely town of Alexandria, VA., listening to ghost stories from an early-1800s clad young lady was very enjoyable. Then I got back on the bus, got to the hotel, and did this.

More tomorrow, then to New York City. Time to sleep.


OH MAH GAWD, am I tired.

First day sightseeing in Washington, D.C. I am not even quite sure I know what I saw. I think I saw so many important things that I want to all call them by the wrong names, like the American Museum of Natural Koreans, The Archives of Thurmond Monument, The National Maul, and The United States Geritol Building. The wind was wicked today, and my face and hands were so cold, but sometimes the sun came out and it was not so bad. Poor sick Mr11 had a tough day. He was so exhausted that he actually came close to falling asleep several times during the day, the most dramatic at lunch as he dropped his PB&J sandwich and I had to say HEY! BUDDY! If I could have remanded him to the hotel I surely would have for some restoration, but that was not an option. We were out and about for 12 hours. So he just snotted and coughed and dragged his way through the day, not terribly unhappy even despite that. He is out like a light now, snuggled deep into some sort of Italianate pattern budget hotel comforter. We have to get up earlier tomorrow for MORE MORE MORE.

I think almost everyone I saw today around and about was either a European tourist or part of a school group, or a wealthy family with 2-to-4 pretty kids, or crabby elders, or even more school groups. I didn't really see anyone Washingtonian -- like some lawyer-looking suit dudes, or other huddling sorts plotting stuff. Maybe it was too windy for them to be out today. I think they don't like their hair to get mussed. The wind also kicked total ass on the cherry blossom trees, dammit.

It is surreal to be right in front of all these terribly important places, so close together. They all have SO MUCH to take in. I do feel overwhelmed. I would like to just spend some time staring at each one, and really thinking about it and what it is, what it means, really appreciate it. They are all so grand, in scope and design and meaning. I would like them to feel real to me: United States Citizen. I would like that for Mr11 as well, but he didn't even remember the names of where we went, just impressions. That's OK. We can fill in the blanks later, when his sinuses aren't sucking up his brain.

Last stop before dinner was the Lincoln Memorial. I Rocky-ed my way up the stairs, Mr11 keeping up gamely, and a nice woman offered to take our picture standing next to old 19' Abe. I told my son I thought this was a really cool place, and that I could see how it, more than almost any other place we had seen today, seemed to move people. My son nodded and then excused himself with, "I want to go read his words on the wall."

Woody Guthrie -- "This Land Is Your Land"


I am such a dumbass. I am sitting here on an airplane, a long flight to Washington, DC, and I decided to watch the in-flight movie, which was Marley and Me. I had read the book and enjoyed it, but had resisted seeing the film in the theater. Why? Because I am a big baby and I knew that I would end up crying. I cannot take any sad animal tales, and of course (SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE LIVING UNDER A CULTURAL ROCK) the dog dies at the end of the movie. Oh yes, you get the whole full-on lifecycle deal, from seeing Marley as an adorable yellow lab pup to white-furred frailty. So, I did end up with stupid tears flurping out of my eyes, staring at the screen mounted on the ceiling of the plane, people walking past me to the bathroom probably going, “Ha ha, you big woman baby, look at you.” There was no trying to even be sort of surreptitious – the tears were too many and came too fast. I was wiping them away like every ONE SECOND. Thank you, United Airlines, for MAKING YOUR PASSENGER WEEP. Dammit. I bet my mascara is now in total fail mode, which will give me that adorable zombie look. Ah, well. I caint hep it.

Maybe I was a little more sensitive than usual today to a visual of aging and death, as it is indeed once again my birthday. I am not at all unhappy about my birthday, or turning 40-cough, though. All those years, whatever they turned out to be, they all really did add and make and build something more of me. I can feel it. It’s just something you know. It’s like each one of them shores up the foundation a bit more, completes a puzzle, makes you feel a little bit more every year that you know some shit about shit. When I was younger, I knew I didn’t know shit all, and now I am like 2/3rds full of shit. It’s very satisfying. It’s also rather a chuff-moment to know, with no question, that I look better today, as a 40-hah? than I did ten years ago as a late-30s Immersion Mother. That’s a sweet trick to pull off. Alright for me! If I can say that in another ten years, I promise you I will start a cult or at least attempt to sell some sort of useless facial cream on an infomercial. Don’t hold your breath or anything, though.

But getting back to the movie, and tying it in with birthdays and dogs, because this is what we are supposed to do in essays is try to make some kind of flowing sense, it occurred to me which birthday was my very favorite. It was not one of mine. It was not my kids’ birth days, because that shit is really f-ing painful and messy, and even though it was super super super cool that they were all gorgeous and healthy, well GODDAMN that hurt. It was not Ray Davies 36th birthday, where Dena and I gave him 36 separate ridiculous gifts from Woolworth’s dollar-or-less bins in Philadelphia. It is not Jeebus’s birthday, even though December 25th has always benefited me pretty strongly in the present department as well. No, none of those, really, although I have enjoyed many great celebrations of birth.

The birthday that meant the most to me, that I appreciated with all my heart, was my dog Hannah’s 10th. She was the first dog I had owned on my own as an adult, a beautiful Leonberger, with a reddish-black mass of fur, a smooth black mask, and lovely brown eyes. She was a big dog, 125 pounds, strong as an ox but utterly reliable and gentle and funny and remarkably attuned to peoples’ feelings. She had a wonderful zest for life, like Marley did, without any of the destruction or willfulness, other than some mild overexcitable behaviors at the front door. She was a real gem of a dog, and I knew from the day she flew from California to come live with us at 12 weeks of age, that we were very lucky to have her.

She had a pretty good life, I think. She had a family who loved her, as we grew from one excited three-year-old boy peering in her crate at the airport, to another baby boy who loved to smile at her antics, to finally a baby girl who thought giant fuzzy dogs were just the norm. She got to go on walks around the neighborhood, go on vacations to the mountains to explore rocks and smell fascinating smells, long car trips back to Wisconsin to visit her extended human family, and even went to quite a few gatherings of other Leonbergers, where she got to see her mom and dad and brothers and sisters again. She was given the best food, the best care, was trained well, and just cared for. She deserved every bit of everything we could give her.

But. What we knew was going to come, came, just far too soon. It was always going to be too soon, but these big dogs, well. At age nine, she was the last alive of her siblings. Two weeks after we moved to Washington, she began to limp. After a month of misdiagnoses, the real one came. Bone cancer, which is a sure death sentence; dogs with osteosarcoma rarely last more than a few months. The cancer invariably travels to the lungs, despite all treatment. It was very hard to hear, harder to know what to do. Her pain rapidly began to get very serious – not even morphine was cutting it. Two choices, which had to be made immediately: put her down, or amputate the bad left leg at the hip.

How do you know what to do, what is right? How do you ever know? The vet was kind, and was also willing to give his opinion on he would do if it were his dog – the surgery – but totally understanding and upfront about the serious financial costs and the fact that we would not be buying her cure, only some time.

I didn’t want her to suffer. I wanted her pain to end. I sat next to her as she lay on the floor panting in agony, and I tried to get the answer from her. I tried as hard as I could, somehow, to hear her, as she seemed to always hear me. Was it time?

We chose the surgery.

Having a dog come home missing a leg is a very traumatic thing, far more for us than it seemed to be for her. After a few falls on the new wooden floors, she adjusted and was actually running outside the day she came home. Her pain was gone, and she seemed like her old happy self again, glad to be here, sniffing the air and eyeing up birds and chewing on the biggest yummiest bones we could find. She had many more days of dog happiness, most of which was really just being with her family.

The time came, though, when everything we did to extend her life, make her more comfortable, no longer worked. The cancer progressed, and she did not seem as jolly anymore, and spent most of her day sleeping or quietly relaxing outside. I wanted so badly for her to make it to her birthday, in just days. Of course, she knew nothing of it. It was a marker for me, to have that number – 10 – to say she got there, that she made it to that number, double digits. I wished for her to have one more special day.

I ordered her a dog cake from the local dog bakery, with “Happy 10th Birthday, Hannah” written on it in dog icing, like she could read it. As I paid for the cake, I talked with pride about my strong, sweet girl, and the girl behind the counter teared up, and filled a bag full of lovely dog cookies. “Here,” she said as she handed it to me, “No charge.” I thanked her, touched at the kindness, and walked out with the cake and cookies.

We had a party for her. The owners of her sister Heike lived close by, and wanted to come celebrate. Heike had died of cancer two years before, and they still had trouble talking about it. But the day was happy. We had a nice dinner, Hannah schnarfed down her cookies and cake, and loved all the extra patting hands and smiling faces. It felt good, and I know it felt good to her.

Two weeks later, she was gone. There was no further doubt in the decision. She was struggling and no longer seemed happy or comfortable. I held it together OK until I walked into the room where she would die, and saw that the vet had spread out a pretty green-and-white comforter on the floor for her to lie on. I wailed, and fell to my knees in complete grief, brokenhearted. She was my girl.

In June, it will be four years since she has been gone. I think about her often, wish she knew our new dog Ellie, a Newfoundland mix, because they would have been great pals. I think about how she used to try to comfort me when I cried by putting her head against mine and standing so still. I think about her jumping up on the bed like a runaway train. I think how she loved to play hide-and-seek. And I think about her birthday, that last one, that good day, good even despite being in the shadow of what was to come, and it makes me smile.

Damn movie.