There is a type of person that I call the Serial Confessor. This particular blight on humanity takes every single opportunity to turn any conversation -- college lecture, time share pitch, grocery checkout line, any situation where even one person can be forced to listen -- into a forum to SHARE HIS OR HER VERY, VERY PERSONAL ISSUES. I am not sure what the genesis of this phenomenon is, although I suspect it is a consequence of television shows such as Maury and Oprah and Springer where narcissistic misery is celebrated, broadcast, and explored to colonoscopy depth. It is normal now to tell complete strangers that you once tried to kill yourself by swallowing huge amounts of bubble gum, gin, and vitamins, your grandfather was a cross-dressing gambler, your brother is in rehab for airplane glue abuse, and you are having trouble with a persistent yeast infection.

Let me say this to you, Serial Confessor: Everyone on the planet loathes you. Shut up forever. No, really. Even the sweet old grandma sitting next to you on the bus, smiling politely and nodding, would strangle the very life out of you if her hands weren’t weakened by crippling arthritis. If she has a cane however, and can deliver even one decent blow, the joyous cheers from the rest of the bus passengers would be so loud that the windows would shatter and most would go deaf, but it would be worth it.

I’m done now.


Madonna! You have more money than the GNP of many nations, yet your hands look like the gnarled bony manos of a ninety-year-old toothless Peruvian peasant.


This morning I went shopping at a discount clothing store (in fact, these are the only stores where I shop to buy clothes, full retail can bite me bite me bite me). It is in a neighborhood heavily populated with recent Asian immigrants. My shopping was unremarkable and successful. It would’ve been really successful if it had been FREE DAY, but that never happens.

After I checked out, I waited outside in the slightly moist and chilly breeze to be picked up. To get over my irritation in feeling moistened and chilled, I people watched. A Chinese couple who looked to be in their 80s, came through the parking lot, bickering in the sing-songy twang of their language. I watched them, confused and mildly worried as they persisted in walking down the exact middle of the main road going through the parking lot. A sidewalk next to the stores was a mere 10 feet or so away, yet they stayed in the traffic, gesturing angrily at cars. They kept going and going, yet never made a move to get over to the safety of the sidewalk. They did not seem to be clinically demented, so I figured maybe this is how it is in China, a pedestrian/vehicle free-for-all. They seemed to have survived this far, so big props to them.

My ride came, and I decided I was in the mood for a rare sweetened treat, the Iced Venti Mocha Latte. There were three Starbucks within my visual periphery. This in itself is a ponderous thought. I chose the one that was inside the Fred Meyer superstore. It was very busy, with many Asian people, and a sprinkling of white and Hispanic folks. Ahead of me in the Starbucks line a pretty Latina baby, about six months old in a fuzzy pale yellow sleeper, held on to her young mommy, tiny fingers curling around the loose fabric of her mother’s grey Roxy hoodie. The mommy ordered a giant whipped-cream-topped Frappuccino, in which the baby seemed very interested. Babies are smart.

There were three young men behind the Starbucks counter, adding to the melting pot experience of my morning: Ming, Gorat, and Seanpaul. Ming was handsome, tall, broad-shouldered, and spoke like he had about 15 cotton balls in his mouth. Gorat was really tall, like almost 8 feet tall or way more, had virulent acne, but decent shaggy brown hair and a nice smile. Seanpaul had the exact look of someone who has spent most of his life playing videogames in a basement: pale, chubby around the chin, with a glazed-yet-hyper look to the eyes. Seanpaul made my drink and started joking around with me. I must look affable or, far more remotely, like I play videogames. I made the appropriate gestures, smiles, and laughing replies, took my grand beverage, and left Seanpaul, Gorat, and Ming to their mini-United Nations, in the far corner of Fred Meyer.

Where I grew up, 99.9% of people were white Lutherans, with a smattering of white Catholics to mix things up a bit. There was one family, the Zimmermans, that was Jewish, but we kids were so very very very WASP and insular that it didn’t even register what “Jewish” was. There was absolutely no racial or cultural awareness or political correctness much less the idea that it would be a good thing.

I haven’t got anything figured out about racial harmony or anything. But I am glad for differences. And similarities. And the insanely-easy availability of overpriced large coffee drinks.


The large "PRINCETON" decal in the back window of your '01 Accord tells me you have crushing student loans and/or you were a Anthropology major.


I do not enjoy puns, limericks, or jokes. I barely tolerate witticisms and droll banter. My mom calls me up and wants to tell me the latest very long long long long long joke she has heard and at this point I simply have to say, “Mom. I hate jokes. Please stop. No. Do not do it. For all that is holy, please God stop.” And she laughs and says, “Oh haha you are so funny,” and proceeds to tell me the joke. It is, of course, not at all funny. I do not crack the tiniest corner of a smirk or even make a small throat noise mimicking bemusement. She asks me, “SO, wasn’t that funny?” and I say, “No,” and she goes, “Ohhhh, well I thought it was, HA HA!”

This same thing happens about once a week. Fortunately, she is not at the point yet where she is telling me the exact same joke each time. I love my mom, even if she has this severe problem in liking jokes and also stuff that Regis says to Kelly Lee or whoever that is.

I can remember reading joke books when I was a kid, because I really am a laughing sort of person, and I would read every joke and wonder why they were so dumb. I thought maybe the writers of the books thought kids were dumb or that maybe dumb was supposed to be super funny. I don’t think I could write a joke. How do people do it? I think about comedians and that they have to actually sit down and write out funny lines that will be funny to lots of people lots of times. Wow. Is that a good job or a bad job? Both, right?

Here is something I thought was uproariously funny when I was a kid: the guy in the yellow raincoat falling off the tricycle at the end of Laugh-In each week. That shit was SOLID. A hahahaha…falling is funny. I am smiling right now thinking about that. HA!

Funny, to me, is the absurd. This is why I laugh a lot, because so very much of life is blatantly and horribly absurd. The incongruities are the gold. Irony is good, but not as good as absurdity. You’d better damn well laugh at that shit, because it is better than wailing or bemoaning or complaining.

Satire deals with absurdities, in a more elegant way. Satire is best when the person writing it both loves and loathes their subject, and knows it well. I think if I were a “satirist” I would have to take up smoking long cigarillos, live in a big city penthouse filled with excellent but run-down items, and know everyone who is important to know, give fabulous parties, and have absolutely no real friends. Someone would write a profile about me in The New Yorker, and conspiratorially tell the reader I was gracious, filled with marvelous anecdotes, served a delicious seared ahi salad with a sassy sauvignon blanc, and never gave up a single personal detail.

The satirist is, above all, desperate to avoid being satirized.

In summary, people falling down = funny. The very very silly or the very very awful = funny. Gallagher = NOT FUNNY. Garfield comics = SO NOT FUNNY.

Go ride a trike.


They look like horrible, child-filled beetles.


I. Just. Can't.


No, not baby cribs. There's not all that much to say about baby cribs other than to make sure they meet federal safety standards and that a cat once crapped in my crib while I was sleeping in it. I named him Timmy. The cat, not the crap.

I am talking about Cribs, of MTV fame: homes, abodes, dwellings, shelters, where you hang your hat, etc. I just watched an episode featuring the homes of rock stars Tommy Lee and Ted Nugent. Between the dead animal heads, sex swings, horrible murals, pine paneling, gun collections, and mirrored bedrooms, I was left unimpressed. Money does not buy taste, it is said. Yet, somehow I am sort of equally-appalled at the homes of the nouveau riche I see that are utterly perfect. Tasteful, elegant, everything coordinated and designed to the last tassel on the last silk throw pillow. At least Tommy and Ted know what they like and aren't afraid to show us their hideous visions. The perfect homes worry me. I don't know that I would be comfortable in a place where the things really didn't feel like they were mine, just suggestions from someone who has ASID after their name. I get nervous when things aren't just a little askew.

I have always tried to personalize where I lived, even if I really wasn't supposed to. When I was a preschooler, my parents built a house, or rather they had a shitty carpenter build it who took off to Florida for several months in the middle of the construction. I remember endless trips with my folks to hardware stores, wallpaper stores, and especially carpet stores, where I would lie on the big books of samples and pretend the Princess and the Pea story. Anyway, my mom had her own vision of what my bedroom should be and went full-speed ahead with it. I did not have the heart to tell her that her chosen color scheme of palest pink, white, and avocado green did not appeal to me at all. I wanted hot pink and flaming orange with black light posters and a mirror ball. I wanted groovy; she wanted sweet. I said nothing.

The day we moved in my mom proudly showed me my first very own room with its tiny pale striped wallpaper, pink that was so washed out it looked white, and that green, which reminded me of vegetables, which I did not like at all. I smiled at her and told her it was beautiful, or something like that, I am sure. I remember thinking after she left and as I poked around in my little new space, that she said it was "all mine." I started to get excited. It was mine, and mine meant that I could do whatever I wanted with it, right? Four year olds got "mine" down, ohh yes. I had recently joined the Official Batman Fan Club, and in my new Batkit was a giant Batdecal. With the surety of "mine" in mind, I found the decal and promptly slapped it on the freshly-painted door to my room, feeling Batcool and Batproud.

At the moment of discovery, her shriek was unexpected, and contained an interesting mix of utter horror, fury, dashed hope, and existential frustration. No amount of work ever got that decal off the door. I never stopped being sheepish about my ruination of the door and disappointing my mom, but the me in me was still a little Batproud.

Definition of home: noun
    1. An environment offering security and happiness.
    2. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.
Tommy and Ted seemed very happy with their homes, their Cribs, their valued places. Good for them, when all is said and done. A little weird and askew, well, a lot weird and askew, but never mind. We all need our very very own Batcaves.


CO. = dry
WA. = wet

CO. = sunny
WA. = cloudy

CO. = hail, lightening, tornadoes, wildfires
WA. = earthquakes, windstorms, ice, floods

CO. = cowtown
WA = geektown

CO. = mountains
WA. = bodies of water

CO. = light rail
WA. = monorail

That's pretty much that, really.


It is my belief that Marshmallow Peeps are made out of rubber cement, plutonium, and zombies.


Should not be taught.

Mechanisms for creating art, OK, I can buy that, but showing someone how to draw a friggin' still life just sucks. I so would rather see whatever it is that poor student would've come up with out of his or her own funky head. Even if a pear in a bowl ended up looking like Telly Savalas in a hot tub, I would prefer it. Let me see what YOU want to do, not what someone told you is "the right way." It's ART, not laser-assisted microsurgery. That, should be taught.

The best professor I ever had was a guy named Ernie Porps. There I sat in a huge lecture hall in Art 101 with every freshman idiot wanting to take an easy core class, and he comes in and tells us we will NOT MAKE ANY ART AT ALL here. !!??, I went. WOO HOO!, went the frat boys. He spent the semester talking about what art really is, which is a unique representation of how any one person sees the world or imagines something to be or even just a feeling, something intangible. As the weeks rolled by, the class, this giant lump of goofballs and business majors and tired work/study overachievers and me, fell in love with the guy. The discussions became truly thoughtful, lively, inspiring, fun, sometimes poignant, always interesting. We made no art, but came to think that art was in us all, and that was a terribly important and awesome thing. On the last day of class, Ernie Porps got a spontaneous standing ovation that seemed to go on quite a long time.

The main thing I remember Ernie saying was that most people completely stop making any kind of art at all by the time they are around 11 years old, because they begin to believe they are not any good at it. How many things have you shut off in your life because you aren't "good enough?" Granted, if you are blind, please do not drive. Your eyes aren't good enough, sorry 'bout that one. But you get what I am saying.

I would be terribly pleased if you made some kind of art again, like you used to, or like you always wanted to. Telly Savalas in a hot tub would look fantastic framed on my desk.


It doesn’t take long after you land on Planet Earth until someone tall and condescending bends down and inquires, “WELL, SWEETIE, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?” You look up and see some grotesquely-grinning giant face and think, well, what do I know, I’m a damn LITTLE KID, GOD! But you come up with something anyway. The first thing I wanted to be was a “cat hair cutter.” I knew that dogs went to the groomer and had whirring clippers used upon them, and in my toddler logic I figured cats needed hair services as well. I pictured myself lovingly washing, brushing, and artfully cutting the long fur of a languorous white Persian in Marianne’s Kool Kat Salon, where all was sparkly pink and silver with satin pillows. Rich ladies in animal print hats would pay me graciously, as I proudly returned to them a feline whose hair length was once-again perfect. The approximate millisecond after I mentioned my occupational vision, someone or three in my family went A HA HA HA, cats don’t get haircuts, HAAA, you stupid TWO YEAR OLD! Being the me that I am, I argued my point and did not really believe that cats did not require their fur to be scissorly-managed, but soon decided a WAY cooler thing was my real and true calling.

I decided to become a go-go dancer.

I mean, what could possibly be better? You get to dress up in a groovy spangly minidress with white go-go boots, flip out your hair and pile on the black eyeliner and white lipstick, and shake your stuff to the most awesome bands with those long-haired cute boys playing guitar. If you were super-cool, you would dance in a cage raised about 20 feet off the floor. Go-go girls knew every new dance and every old one and never ever EVER stopped dancing.

So, I got to working on my new career. I glued my big baby eyes to Shindig, and Hullaballoo, and Where The Action Is, and American Bandstand and watched the girls do their fab best. Then once a week, usually during a playdate with a confused friend, I would announce, ‘IT IS SUPER SECRET DANCE TIME!” I would jump up on my bed and tell outrageous lies wherein I stayed up ALL NIGHT LONG to watch a dance show where the very very latest moves were unveiled, and I would make up names for these little moves, like “The Shake Quake” or “Pink Kitty Girl” or “Jump Up Twice and Then Toss Your Hair Around. ” The confused friend would then have the opportunity for me to teach her these hot new dances, whether she liked it or not. I have always been persuasive. We’d both end up shimmying on top of my bed, imagining the glories of being a teenager at a discotheque, when life would truly begin. I did fall off my bed more than once, and was reprimanded by my mother, who never really could have imagined having a furiously-Frugging tiny daughter.

But the times, they went a-changin’ on me, and the fishnetted Mod girls morphed almost overnight into hippie chicks. Gone was the go-go cage; instead, the ladies writhed and swirled snake-like in muddy fields or in dark performance spaces with a projector trained on a lava light. I liked their headbands and fringy vests, but my heart was still locked in that cage. I gave up my dream, sadly, and thought maybe I would now become an actress, or a mom, or a playwright, or something, or nothing.

My teenage years arrived. Disco. It embittered me. I waited all that time to BECOME, and they gave me DISCO. I refused.

Another few years went by, punk and new wave thought I was cool again, and it was time to dance once more. I could again wear minidresses, find cool bands to dance to, even load on the eyeliner. I would dance and dance for hours, heart uncaged (or caged again?) at last, until I was sweaty and delighted and utterly satisfied. There is something about dancing when combined with music that you love that makes it transcendent. Really, you don’t have to be good, as most people including me do look like dorks when dancing. Who cares? It’s such a wonderful human thing to do. I had to wait a long time, but I got to do what I needed to do. No cats were harmed, either.

The whole point of me writing this was to direct you to Mike Long, who has been posting a new dance video every day for almost a year on his YouTube site:

I wish I could dance as well as the fearless, slinky, and talented Mike, or thought to do such an inspired and enjoyable performance project. Check him out, send him a few bucks if you can spare it, ‘cause coolness should always be rewarded.

Find some music you love and dance today, even if it’s just for a minute in your bedroom mirror. I promise you that you will smile, feel silly, and feel better.


Don’t think I didn’t notice, Target, that this is the order of women’s clothing placement upon entering your store:

1. Junior swimwear
2. Junior fashion (Mossimo)
3. Misses’ (Merona, Cherokee)
4. Maternity
5. Women’s Plus Size

It’s like the Walk of Shame. You start out with cute bikinis and end up at giant elastic waist pants.

In protest of your obvious marketing, I spent hundreds of dollars at your establishment this morning. NYAH NYAH!


Are all I have to take your heart away.

That’s what Barry Gibb says. His leonine confidence and sparkly white teeth make me think, indeed, that he means every single word he says.

This world has lost its glory, let’s start a brand-new story now, my love. There is a certain deliciousness to gathering up enough words in a lifetime to be able to say with pinpoint accuracy exactly what you mean to convey. After all, I don’t need the words for me so much, I need them for you. In the instance my leg should be crushed in a freak bowling accident, I do need my words to quickly and forcefully let another person know of my dilemma and for my imminent need for one of those cool new metal spring legs which would make me uber-awesome. I would be able to run and leap like a Thompson’s Gazelle or perhaps more realistically, Marion Jones sans steroids and in disgrace laden in crippling prison shackles. I could sue the bowling alley for zillions and spend my days leaping merrily into Prada or Fred Segal or the Whole Foods where Simon Cowell and Lionel Ritchie shop. It’s too bad that severe bowling accidents are extremely unusual.

Talk in everlasting words, and dedicate them all to me. Talking is not really as good as writing. Half the time, or three-quarters if we wish to be honest, most of the crap coming out of your mouth isn’t really any good. You censor, you stammer, you can’t access the right thing, say the wrong thing, then say the wrong thing again trying to explain why you said the wrong thing. Blah blah blah blah blah. No one is really truly listening to you anyway because they are busy thinking of what they are going to say themselves, or where to go for lunch, or a very very very very tiny bug crawling on the window behind you. When you write, you can edit – there is no “UNSAY, OH DEAR GOD, UNSAY!” button on your mouth. Writing, you are Lord of Words – it is all in your control and you can change or embellish or even smite away, and it’s all good. To the best of your ability you can create a statement of clarity and beauty, like, “Dear Online Swimwear Place, Please accept the return of this cheetah-print swimsuit that I ordered on February 15th and received on February 18th. When I tried on the swimsuit in the privacy of my own home and viewed myself in the mirror wearing the garment, my world was shattered into irreparable little shards, similar to a porcelain teacup flung from the top of the subzero chill of a Himalayan peak to the gritty jagged rocks below. Thank you for giving me this spandexed opportunity to fully register my shame and disgust in myself. Please credit my VISA for $120.78.”

Smile an everlasting smile, a smile can bring you near to me. Well, I don’t want an everlasting smile. It would make my cheeks hurt after awhile, and eventually be incredibly socially inappropriate. If you can write something that makes someone smile, they can keep it, more or less in an everlasting way depending on hard drive crashes or enforced paper recycling. Funny written words you can go back to over and over, and you do not have to strain to remember if it was indeed funny, unlike the hazy recollection of that raconteur at the bar who seemed hilarious because you were at the bottom of your seventh beer and had eaten nothing that day. I have smiled many times at words other people have written, even when they are not funny at all, sometimes quite the opposite. Sometimes the sentiment is so perfectly-expressed, you just have to shake your head, grin a little, and marvel that someone you do not even know has touched you with the way they strung together the words that you also use, just not quite as artfully.

You think that I don’t even mean a single word I say? HAH?

It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away.


I am back at the Atrium Starbucks. It is late, or late for me to ever be here at 8PM on a mild Saturday night. My younger son is attending a birthday party nearby at one of those giant indoor inflatable jumping party places, where kids fling themselves mercilessly at the inflatables and each other until someone is injured and weeps bitterly. This is a certainty of occurrence. I know this because I have attended approximately 8.5 million inflatable jumping party place birthday parties. The people who run the joint should just have a paramedic jumping around with the kids. I have noticed that most of the inflatables are blood-red. Hmm. But tonight, I escaped. I feel giddy. I will not be able to escape so easily when my son also has his birthday party there in a couple of weeks. Sigh.

So on this lovely Saturday night, when I think most adults should be out with their s/o seeing a movie or having a sinfully-late exotic dinner or, ideally, bowling, I look around at my fellow Starbuckians and wonder why they are here. There are three couples. One of them looks to be in their upper-40s-to-early-50s, and have the easy mirrored movements of a pair that have been together a long time. The woman’s moderately-unfashionable jeans and Seattle Seahawks hoodie match well with her husband’s forest-green fleece sweater and equally-unfashionable jeans. What did I tell you about hoodies and fleeces here, huh? They seem calm and close, not exactly writhing in ecstasy but pleased in their coffee purchase and each other. It is easy to see them in another ten years, where the man will be grayer and a little stooped with what remains of his butt completely flattened, and the woman will pull back her fluffy brown curls into a sensible do, and will give up her Dansko clogs for the safety of the heelless flat with a seriously-cushioned insole. Maybe they will bring in a small rambunctious grandchild to spill a milk and eat only two bites out of a big Starbucks cookie before deciding he wants to go to the park across the street.

Then there is Couple #2. A date! Look at that. The man, who I hesitated calling a man for a second because he looks like a boy, is about 20 and is as cute as a button. He is in casual-clean mode, with faded out jeans, a shrimp-colored polo shirt, a khaki baseball hat, and HA! He is wearing the identical black canvas Nikes as me! I am not at all sure what that means. His date is also adorable, with voluminous long brown hair, tall chunky black suede boots with dark skinny jeans perfectly tucked into them, and a plain black sweater that says, “I look appealing but not desperate for attention.” They are talking a mile a minute, and clearly finished their coffees quite some time ago. They lean slightly towards each other as they speak, sometimes talking over each other in a rush to get their words out. Every so often the girl laughs, the boy/man smiles at her, and they never stop talking even for a minute. They like each other. This somehow pleases me and I smile a small smile in their direction at the damn cuteness of it all, but of course they do not see me whatsoever. It seems they will have a nice night.

The last couple must be in their late 70s or 80s. I am already impressed that they are out and about at 8:27PM (look how times flies, people) instead of whining about their medications and falling asleep to a PBS fund pitch at home. They are a sharp-looking elder two, the man natty in an army-green parka, a brown suede driving hat, and a plaid scarf. I will forgive him his Birkenstocks and black socks, something I normally would never do. The woman has a cute, short, and no doubt expensive haircut, a lime-green long fleece (fleece, again), red suede loafers with a gold buckle that catches the light nicely, and is tall and thin. They sit, only occasionally talking, reading the Seattle Times, and sipping at their Grande Whatevers. Maybe they do this every Saturday. Maybe it is their Date Night. The woman drops a piece of the newspaper on the floor, and I rescue it for her. She smiles very nicely at me, and says, “Oh thank you, sweetheart,” and I say, “No problem,” and smile back. She is from a kinder time. Maybe I am as well. They get up to leave and I notice the man has some trouble walking -- he shuffles and seems a little uncomfortable. I think about when they won’t come to Starbucks at night anymore, and how time is a real bitch. Maybe 50 years ago they sat together yabbering at a diner on a first date, and leaned towards each other and smiled and laughed like there was no one else around. And whoosh! Here they are.

Jump jump jump jump jump. Keep flinging yourselves out there, all you couples of the caffeinated night.


I love to bowl. Not as much as some people that live for the alley life and kind of smell like alley all the time, but I do really like bowling. I am native to Wisconsin, therefore bowling, bratwurst, cheese, and beer are in my DNA. The Badger is the State Animal. Badgers are mean sunsabitches. I digress. Bowling is fun, because you do not have to be any good at it to enjoy it, and the smashing sounds of the pins going down is really therapeutic. Even the rattle of the ball shooting back from the ball return gives me a little thrill.

What I like most about bowling is that everyone does it a little differently. It is like dancing: each person has their own unique physical expression, be it elegant, manic, powerful, awkward, whatever. Go into a bowling alley, order up a brewski, and just observe sometime. It is quite amusing, and beautiful in its pseudo-sporting humanity.

There is a distinct difference between the male and female bowler. Males generally use much heavier bowling balls. There are two ways men throw these ponderous little orbs – clean and smooth, with the ball barely making a sound as it whips down the lane, or the Great Thunk, where the combination of the 15+ pound ball and some decent heft into the air from a reasonably-muscled man can seem like a small contained earthquake as the ball hits the lane after about 10 feet airborne. Bowling alley personnel often frown in the direction of Mr. Thunk, but he is also often Thunk Drunk, so it is a waste of facial muscle use. Mr. Smooth and Mr. Thunk, surprisingly, can get equally-good (or bad) bowling scores. This frustrates Mr. Smooth a lot, as he knows he has better form.

The young female bowler often will try to use the lightest and pinkest ball available, which is actually meant for a 4-year-old. Nonetheless, she will squeeze her fingers into it and giggle and wonder if her ass looks good as she is walking up to bowl. Many times, she will not put a lot of effort into her throw, simply choosing to walk up to the line and more or less drop the ball straight down, giggle again, and wait for the ball to fall into the gutter. The lighter balls that women use often take ages to make their way down to the pins, in which time you can eat a slice of pizza, play a game of pool, or flirt with the cute guy two lanes down. There are more-serious women bowlers, who pick a heavier ball (see, heavier ball = more serious and macho) and she often out-does Mr. Smooth, Mr. Thunk, and Miss Giggle, just by making a half-decent effort to aim the ball and wipe the pizza-grease off her fingers onto her jeans.

I do pretty well as a bowler, although inconsistent depending on how pissed I am at the crappy alley ball I have, how fast my right arm gets tired, and how much I feel like beating Mr. Smooth. I do, however, have seriously-demented bowling form. Actual strangers have pointed and laughed at me. I take more or less the proper amount of steps, swing the ball back with good force, but as I set the ball to roll, all of my weight is on my right side, with the right arm extended forward and my right foot holding together, somehow, this physics-defying construction. You are supposed to have your left foot out last, but I cannot do it. I have tried many times, and I either balk and lock up, or fall down. In my way of bowling, I end up looking like some odd listing flamingo with my rightness and left foot all up and tucked back. Try this sometime. Because you are normal, this will cause you to fall or at least have a good laugh at my expense. I love my bowling form. It says so much.

The only people I see that never look like they are having fun bowling are the pro bowlers, or those who fancy themselves pro-good. There he is, on an alley as far away from Flamingo Woman as possible, with his wrist guard and elbow guard and bowling glove and super-special cool ball and his custom orthotic bowling shoes and a little white personal towel to wipe his sweaty hands (no pizza or beer for him, thanks). He is deadly grim about his mission to leave no pin standing, no frame open. Strike after strike, his face registers no joy. It is impassive and hard-set at all times, even when the score screen has some dancing animated beer mug flashing, all excited about his efforts. If he happens to leave a single pin standing, his face becomes even that much more grim, and he picks it off, sharp and clean, like a BB-gun toting 12-year-old boy picks off his 7-year-old brother in the butt. I feel bad for Mr. Pro. There likely was a time he smiled when he bowled, until people told him he was really good. Sometimes people should shut up.

I bet you have not been bowling in a really long time. You should go. Gather up some fellow idiots, get your crappy alley balls, pepperoni pizzas and a pitcher of beer, and just enjoy watching each other, however wonderfully you all get the ball to the pins. I dare you to pinch Mr. Pro on the ass.


Even at my obscenely-tender age at the time, the high-pitched irony of Frankie Valli’s voice on the song “Walk Like A Man” did not escape me.


Platinum-blonde dyed hair artfully messed up with thick black roots, a French-cut black t-shirt, black and white checkerboard supertight superlow drainpipe pants, pink fluorescent pop beads, black aviator sunglasses. Let loose in Chicago.

I was still a good girl. Dammit.


An adjustment to living in the Pacific Northwest is that you must deny the existence of rain as an event. It is so prevalent as to become What Just Is. When I lived in Colorado, if there was rain you’d better get your ass inside soon because the likelihood was high that golf-ball-sized hail and lightening that comes out of nowhere and goes “PAP!! BOOOOOOM!!” is a-comin’. In Arizona, the monsoon rains meant getting drenched for 15 minutes in the 118 degree heat, and getting the top layer of dust washed off your car. In Wisconsin, rain was just another ridiculous weather happening, along with stagnant sweaty humidity, ice storms on top of snow dumps on top of sleet sheets on top of serial killer evidence, and toddler-tossing tornadoes.

But when it rains all the time or at least for the majority of the year, steady and light, you just get on with it. No one ever bothers with an umbrella. You are just going to get wet whatever you do. As a matter of fact, you really don’t see people wearing proper raincoats much. It’s usually a hoodie or a North Face fleece vest or some other such indifferent garment. MEH, people say to the rain here, MEH! I care not!

At least once a week, I am involved in a conversation with someone that takes place entirely in the rain. There is no move to go inside, or get in your car and talk, or even a comment that, “GEE, WE ARE GETTING REALLY WET, A HA HA.” We get wetter and chillier, the rain splats on my glasses, and all of this is utterly normal. There is no rain, heh heh, look how we speak and gesture as if the sun was shining!

A fabulous addition to the rain and the gray is that there are three million pedestrian crosswalks here. For some reason, people absolutely love to cross streets here anywhere and anytime except where they have a street light with properly-timed walk/don’t walk/run, you fat bastard signs. And the darker and rainier, the better, it seems. And you, if you are driving, must stop for them because it is a whole lot of points off your license to hit a dude and it takes paint off your front bumper. The city even places orange flags by the crosswalks for people to wave wildly as they are crossing to decrease the chances of being tossed into the air by a distracted cell-phone-using rain-soaked Hummer owner. So, as you are driving and to add to the fun that that already is, you must be ever vigilant for the Errant Crosswalker. Your eyes must be trained unfailingly to dart left then right then left at each and every crosswalk, or even when it looks like a pedestrian might suddenly decide that crossing the street NOW is the thing to do. My trust in the pedestrian is eroded, after living here. Or maybe I need new windshield wipers.

There are also a lot of Rain Bicyclists here. They slog alongside me, as I drive, in their rain gear and flashing lights and I wonder how that can even be worth it in any way. God.

I have a feeling that someday I will be somewhere, baking my elderly bones, skin like a distressed leather sofa, and I will still have nightmares about orange flags. By then, my hoodie should be dry.


Picture seeing a woman from behind or the side: she is in great shape, well-dressed in trendy fashiony stuff, great hair, and then you see her face and she is old. Like you think she’s gonna be 25 and she’s 55. The face doesn’t match and you kinda go, “oof,” even if she is decent-looking and has nice makeup and white teeth and an expensive purse and such.

So, is it better to slide into reasoned frumpery to match your face, or make everything else look hot and take the look of disappointment from people when they see you are well past youth and into the yellowing-to-golden years? And you know, even if you Botox the shit out of your face, your neck and hands still look crappy. And knees. Demi Moore fixed her saggy knees, but I think that might’ve been in her pre-nup.

I see quite a lot of these Trophy Elders, and I both admire and am a little disturbed by them. It just doesn’t seem quite exactly right for a woman old enough to be a grandma totally rocking a pair of pink terry sweatpants with “JUICY” written in big letters across her butt, but maybe I am just stodgy. Or confused. Or wishing I could wear those because I like them, or would like to like them.

The Baby Boomers are going to wring every good to the last drop ounce of youth out of themselves, that I know. It is their very identity, and to give it up means, at last, you have become The Man. There is not much worse than becoming The Man. And even when they become The Man, they are gonna say they are A Different The Man, because they are way cooler and once smoked hash with a second-cousin of Jimi Hendrix and even went to the office without a bra a couple times.

I don’t have the answer here. It was not in my pre-nup.


A slippery slope.

If you do not care for something, how ‘bout turning your attention to something you do approve of instead of requiring everyone else to think as you do? It’s pretty simple, really. There are a lot of different opinions, styles, attitudes, creative licenses, tastes, etc., in this big ol’ world, and you should really try to dig that. Plus censorship is un-American, you terrorist bastid. When you start trying to shut down others’ ideas, the cost is ultimately too high. Remember…”then they came for me.”

There are no exceptions. Lighten up.


OK. I am sitting at one of my local Starbucks. I, in fact, have three that I frequent often enough that the baristas know what I order and ask how I am doing today and make slightly more small talk than to the unknown customer. It makes me feel good, but a little creepy as well. To be an Internet Creep and a Coffee Creep is a lot to take in. Anyway. This particular Starbucks is the prettiest of the three, with a large airy atrium dome with a scattering of moderne maple tables and chairs about. The corporation is playing me some fairly pleasant piano jazz in the background, and there is the steady low hum of order taking, machine clanking, cup shuffling, and coffee grinding. The customers here are all well-dressed and good-looking and seem to be smiling more than people usually do in public. People here do really get jolly about coffee, I suppose. And every day is a good day if you are good-looking.

The guy sitting a table away from me is clearly here to stay for awhile. He has close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair, small brown plastic glasses, a reasonably tidy and functional mustache, and is dressed in the completely-business-safe uniform of a pressed light blue button-down shirt and khakis. His set-up includes a pager, a Bluetooth enabled cell phone that he occasionally speaks on, a small thin silver laptop, a legal pad and cheap pen, and a paperback novel of some sort, face-down and opened about halfway into the pages. His keys lay between the pad of paper and the book and I see his QFC Shopper Discount Card sticking up like a little red plastic flag. His brown microfiber jacket is carefully draped across the chair next to him. His plain shiny gold wedding band and particularly shiny silver watch catch my eye, as I am a bit of a shiny metal fan. He tap tap tap taps away at his laptop, as I am right now, and has no idea that the redheaded woman with Japanese-hawt glasses is sitting and staring at him and transcribing his visual essence and will post this description on an internet blog later in the morning. HA HA, sir.

A group of three East Indians have just come in, two men and a woman. They order no corporate coffee, nor tasty heated breakfast sandwich, not even a piece of reduced-fat cherry lemon coffee cake. The woman is wearing a very bright orange sari with a bland oatmeal-colored sweater over it and has her arms folded across her chest. She says nothing as the two older gentlemen speak. No one looks too happy. I would be happy if I were them, because then I would probably get to eat kickass Indian food more often. The woman occasionally touches her face lightly with two fingers, then slowly returns to her folded clench. The men both have tweedy sport jackets and sober black pants, and heavy black shoes that look somewhat weary. Indian Man #1 has pulled out his black Motorola Razr phone and seems puzzled by it. Indian Man #2 and the woman turn away from him and look even more uncomfortable. The woman has bright red toenails. The hep coolness of #1’s cell phone has apparently befuddled him so entirely that with a sharp nod from him as he snaps the phone shut, they all get up and leave.

We will never know what their stories are, or the tap tap tap laptop man, or the elderly lady with her Tall Chai Tea slowly unfolding the Seattle Times, alone, or the cute short Latina with a bubble butt, jangley silver hoop earrings. and hot pink lipstick who gets a Grande Mocha Frappuccino and bounces out the door, smiling.

I do know something. The couple that just sat down next to me are coughing up globs of phlegm, reminiscent of patients in a tuberculosis sanitorium. Time for me to go. The autumn moon does not light my way, just some oppressively-low gray clouds filtered through the tall atrium windows. Ramble on.


I go to Starbucks just about every day and even I think that you, Mr. Grande Two-Pump Vanilla No-Foam Extra-Hot Soy Latte, are less than manly.


I have a disaffection
For my mother's genuflexion
It's an imperfection
Upon much introspection
It's her predilection
And my recollection
Time for re-election
Jesus up for resurrection
In all retrospection
I think in great affection
About Mom's deflection
In a lower-type direction
I have no objection
It's her own selection
For one's own perfection
Brought to you by Exxon.


Do you want to know when I knew? That day at the football game.

After school, in the muddy field we would gather to play in the long-shadowed days when there was only a whisper of the icy sub-zero chill to come. For now, there was enough light to play until we got hungry or tired or both and many days we played past that. I was the last girl left -- the others had given up trying to throw or run, and would stand to the side in little groups of three or four. The next year, I would join them.

I could throw a straight pass, and dodge past the big, lumbering boys. I could take a hit -- a good one that would leave me gasping for knife-sharp air -- and not cry. You would play, but mostly always seemed to be exploring something or fiddling with the spokes on your knock-off copper-colored Stingray. You were there, but not. Do you know?

I was watching you absently, vague in my periphery, when the bobbling dark ball suddenly appeared, too close to for me to react with anything other than a gasp. I felt the clump of the clumsy football on my face, the sting in my nose, and heard the tiny sounds of clinking metal and glass as my glasses flew from my face to the brown ground. Then nervous, far-away laughs, someone touching my shoulder. I thought of Marcia Brady and checked my nose for blood but it seemed OK -- the glasses seemed to take the force of the ball. My cousin Joe chuckled and asked if I was hurt, and I told him no, I was fine and flashed a smile. He handed me my glasses, or what was left of them. I stared at them in my palm, dazed. One lens was out, the bridge was bent nearly in half, and the left stem completely broken off. My mother's angry voice started clanging in my head, "...why are you playing with them...miss a half-day of work...can't afford...your jeans are torn...".

I waved to the group and began to walk home as the game continued into dusk. Which meant I was late for dinner as well. I really couldn't see all that well without my glasses, but I saw you riding away. I watched you until you were just another gray fuzzy blob in the distance and sighed, feeling some kind of disconnected, odd loss. There wasn't any reason to walk quickly.

As I neared my house -- neat red brick with white trim standing perfect and impassive as always -- I squinted at something purple at the doorstep. Walking closer, squinting again, I bent down. Lilacs! Lilacs were my favorite flowers, all springtimey and heady with their pretty fragrance. Where could they have come from? They had been pressed, and looked funny all flattened and crumbly. I picked the little bunch up, and brought them to my nose, where just the tiniest glorious scent of them remained. I thought it was incredibly strange, yet I smiled at them as the fragile little blooms sat in my hands.

But how did I KNOW? How did I know for sure?

When I looked again at the step with my pathetic myopic eyes, I saw a small black-and-white-and-red packet. A bag of Pop Rocks.

Last spring, I had poured an entire bag into my mouth at recess, followed immediately by a giant slug of Diet Rite, while screaming, "MAD DOG MAD DOG!" and running in circles. You were the one in the crowd who laughed the loudest and smiled the widest. When I got detention, did I see you wink?

Did I see a bicycle tire track in the grass?

Were you there, somewhere? All along? Always?