(** if you have found this post because you are having chipotle diarrhea, please go here)

I went to Chipotle for dinner tonight. If you are not familiar with it, it is a now-corporate-owned chain of basic Mexican food, mainly famous for its burritos, which are the size of a Chihuahua. A silver-paper-wrapped, cylindrical Chihuahua. It is not as gringo as Taco Bell, but is still derided by Mexisnobs as inauthentic. Should I care about this? I could go into the local hot dog joint and complain that their brats are weak and boiled and served without proper sauerkraut (always with caraway seeds, thanks) and brown mustard, but I don’t. WTF is “authentic food?” I don’t care who makes it or how, as long as I LIKE IT. I like those burritos. They are cheap and yummy and filling and taste fresh.

I also have a sentimental fondness for Chipotle. The first one was located in Denver on Evans Avenue by the University of Denver, down the block from my house, and across the street from my children’s schools on the campus. It is tiny with just a few seats, and you would often see people, mainly students, lined up far out the door to get their Chihuaburritos. It reminds me of a time and a place that was good. They also support sustainable agriculture, so nyah nyah, snobs.

I can’t even finish half of one of those burritos, but that’s OK. A half a burrito, a Corona Light, and some nice old feelings make for a good meal.


I am a fan of lakes. Proper lakes, of course. Let me be clear: reservoirs are NOT LAKES. They are man-made dirt holes filled with filthy stagnant water that are closed most of the summer from fecal contamination. They might be slightly more interesting to look at than the dirt hole with no water in it, but not by much. Reservoirs are a depressing water experience. No shade, no beach, just a nasty boring toilet bowl with Joe Jet Ski getting a mouthful of e.coli every time he wipes out on his buzz bomb.

Proper lakes are also not ponds. Ponds are usually green, small, weedy, and may or may not contain leeches or alligators or crappies. Ponds are often known as “the ol’ swimmin’ hole,” if you are a toothless hillbilly, or to be PC, a “dentally-challenged societally-oppressed rural dweller.” You have to be a little more brave to venture into a pond, like totally willing to emerge covered in algae and snapping turtles.

Rivers and streams are not lakes; they are smaller, generally, and go in a line. I also really like rivers and streams, but primarily just to float paper-and-twig boats down them. I like really really really tiny streams that I can dam up with rocks and cause a miniature ecological disaster. With rivers and streams, you must beware rocks and currents. The worst would be if you were pulled away by a current, then got smashed on some rocks. Actually, even worse than that would be if you discovered you were actually immersed in a sewer runoff.

Oceans, gulfs, and seas are also good. They have better beaches, and shells, make better noise, and have fun waves. However, they annoy the eyes with salt, are far too deep, and contain animals that might sting or consume you. I like the vastness of these bodies of water; they are calming to look at, or awesome in that old-style awesome way like WOW, but in the end they are not as friendly as lakes. They also can do the hurricane/tsunami thing, which is downright testy of them.

Fuck swamps.

Lakes, good, decent, reasonable lakes, should be of a large size, but never so big that you cannot get into shore quickly when a thunderstorm comes up. They should have an irregular rounded shape, and may be connected to the aforementioned rivers or streams. They should contain fish and plants, but not too many weeds. If you step on the lake bottom, you should not go up to your hips in silt. They should have lots and lots of big trees around them. The water should be clear and a bit chilly. A good lake has at least a couple of good swimming beaches, and a really good lake should have an island in the middle of it with no one living on it. Lakes should smell fresh and watery and not too too much like dead frogs. Everyone on the lake should follow Lake Etiquette: don’t bother the fishermen, don’t run over the swimmers with your motorized lake vehicle, try not to pee in the lake near other swimmers, never throw garbage in the lake, don’t vomit 50 Miller Lites into the lake, and do not ram your boat into your neighbor’s pier while shouting “OOOOPS! SORRY MAN!”

Now you know.


So I called to make my annual checkup appointment with my doctor, a pretty, sensible, and reasonably compassionate young woman from Chicago. The appointment slurdge on the other end of the phone informed me that she had no openings until October. ORLY? IS THAT SO? October. So I said well, NO. Slurdge tapped around on her computer and replied that I could see one of the physician assistants if I wanted to get in earlier. I was so very wanting to get my mams smashed before October, so I said fine, OK, whatever, yas yas. Doesn’t matter. Poke, prod, prod, poke, lift, smash, weigh, urgh. October? Come on now. Work more hours or take fewer patients, sweets.

I thought about being a doctor. I think I would’ve been a good doctor in many ways, and a terrible one in others. I like biology, I have a good memory, am interested in medicine, and affable, conscientious, and compassionate. However, I hate the crap – literal and figural -- that comes out of people and would flinch badly to hear their disgusting complaints. You really don’t want to be confessing some awful malady to your doctor and have him or her wince and say, “Oh, shit, that is vile, I gotta go! Good luck! EWWW!” I would’ve been too blunt with some people (“You are out of breath not because of the humidity, you are out of breath because you smoke and are 295 pounds! FACE IT!”). Or more likely, I would be reasoned and moderate to all in my practice, then would go home and smash plates for several hours. I would work tirelessly to solve everyone’s problems, and stay up all night every night looking for the answer if I could not. I would become Zombie Doctor, living on coffee and medical journals. When you are expected to be God, you have to put in a good effort.

What happens to those in the medical profession, I gather, is to compartmentalize. Physician, heal thyself! Oh, sure. I know a few. They all have some little, or big, spring loose. Smoke. Overweight. Obsessive. Unfeeling. Drunk. Workaholic. It’s too much. Everyone expects too much. Even to be able to get into the office before October. Bah. Obviously, you can’t fix everyone or everything, and of course then everyone dies at some point, which is like the Big Doctor Fail. People dying on you is not so good, Especially if they DIE RIGHT ON YOU, and you have to move them. So you have to build up walls, boundaries, tell yourself you did the best you could. There is a loss in that, a piece of your humanity gone to keep you from going crazy. In the end, that was the biggest problem for me. I wasn’t willing to cut off feeling for function.

I am sure whatever physician assistant I see will be just fine. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Say ahhhh.


Sir. I know you are retired and all, and enjoy keeping up your property, and like keeping busy and such, but you really really really really really really really do not need to use your leaf blower every single day at 8AM. There aren't that many leaves that need blowing in the entire State of Washington. Please go back to watching the Today Show and complaining about how Matt Lauer is a tool of the pussy Democrats. Inside your house. Thank you.

PS. Your flowers are lovely, but bring bees into my mailbox. Why do you hate me so? Thank you.


~KHJ Los Angeles!~ Portions of the day's programming are reproduced by means of electrical transcriptions or tape recordings.
You can hear the music on the AM radio
The VCR and the DVD
There wasn't none of that crap back in 1970
We didn't know about a World Wide Web
It was a whole different game being played back when I was a kid
Wanna get down in a cool way
Picture yourself on a beautiful day
Big bell bottoms and groovy long hair
Just walkin' in style with a portable CD player
No, you would listen to the music on the AM radio
Yeah, you could hear the music on a AM radio

Art Alexakis of Everclear pretty much sums it up with “AM Radio.” Another thing that is impossible for me to effectively explain to the youngsters – the HUGE importance of the radio in my life, and for so many others, too. There were fewer links to each other then, fewer ways to hook into the collective. I got my first transistor radio on my 2nd birthday. It was my best thing, a magic little red-and-gold box where I could spin the dial back and forth and the world would come right to me. I figured out where the pop stations were, took my little baby fingers and slowly, carefully, tuned…it…in. WOKY, The Mighty 92! The Beatles owned it all then.

I'd be in bed with the radio on
I would listen to it all night long
Just to hear my favorite song
You'd have to wait but you could hear it on the AM radio
Yeah, you could hear the music on an AM radio

The most exciting time was dusk. Some of the stations would sign off for the day, then the AM signals would go into free-for-all, and depending upon the time of the year and the weather, you would pick up stations from all over the country, which just thrilled me to no end. WLS was the big boy from Chicago, so I always got that in, but at night some of the 50,000 watt powerhouse stations would drift in and out, and who knows what else. I’d hear the famous DJs from New York City, funny call letters from Canada and Mexico, country music from Tennessee or Louisiana, sometimes one of the “K” stations from the Wild West. My mind would float out into the night sky, trying to ride the waves, closing my eyes, feeling the connection between me, the music, the spinning records, the people who sat and played the music, for me.

Things changed back in '75
We were all growing up on the in and the outside
We got in trouble with the police man
We got busted gettin' high in the back of my friend's van
I remember 1977
I started going to concerts and I saw the Led Zeppelin
I got a guitar on Christmas day
I dreamed that Jimmy Page would come from Santa Monica and teach me to play
Teach me to play...

By this time, AM radio was burnt and fried. Nothing can keep that kind of energy going, and as the industry changed, the music changed, Top 40 tightened to Top 20, and pop turned to schmaltz. Again. FM radio, at one time the haven of classical music with serious, droning DJs, switched over to Rock (as opposed to Pop), and the growing, changing audience went there. The serious, droning DJs stayed. Stereos instead of transistor radios, long album cuts instead of singles, laid-back instead of frenetic. I went, too.

Over the years, radio was eaten alive by corporate playlists, the FCC, music industry greed, and listener apathy. Terrestrial radio is now, more or less, a wasteland of dull talk radio, manic Spanish-language stations, bloated and aging NPR programs, computer-generated Oldies, and pop stations that play song after song after song from “artists” groomed to sound exactly like the last one who made a profit for the office dudes.

Well I never pray
But tonight I'm on my knees yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there's nobody singing to me now.

--Richard Ashcroft, “Bitter Sweet Symphony”

The revolution, or maybe the revision, is occurring now on satellite radio: XM and Sirius. If you loved radio, go there. Whatever you loved about it lives there, somewhere. For me, it is worth the money to pay the subscription, buy the equipment, to feel like those of us who really cared about the music, cared about sharing it, have a place to be. Connect.


A really nice way for you to honor all the men and women who have died in the service would be to actually vote in the upcoming Presidential election.


Sunday at the gym on a holiday weekend, you get some strange folks.
  • A tiny Chinese grandmother who, like me, alternated fast walking and running. I was worried her little leg bones would snap, but she kicked ass for about 20 minutes.
  • A person whose gender I am unsure of. If I had to guess, I would say it was a man who looked like an aging effeminate British rock n roller, with stringy thinning longish hair, stooped and skinny. He walked by me once and I am pretty sure s/he farted. Nasty man/woman.
  • A dwarf-like man who did wild scissor kicks on the floor.
  • A woman who was so tall and reedy that she reminded me of a giraffe in a green t-shirt.
  • A big dude who swung his arms wildly on the treadmill like Pete Townshend, ran really fast for 10 minutes, then pumped his fist in the air and left.
  • A pot-bellied bespectacled nerd walking on his treadmill, reading a large technical manual and EATING CHIPS.
  • A gangly teenage boy next to Chip Nerd who looked like all his arms and legs were going to fly off at any second, hopefully hitting Chip Nerd in the head and causing him to land flat on his face on the treadmill, then the floor.
  • An extremely-thin woman who was going as fast as a person could possibly go on the elliptical, longer than the hour I was on the treadmill. I think she was not a human.
  • A woman, who when she finished with the Stairmaster, sprayed antibacterial stuff on each stair and wiped it down.
  • An ancient Korean man in a gray suit who sat and read the paper.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I imagine I look just as strange. Today I was all in black: Coolmax shirt and capris, sweatbands, cardio gloves. Anyone could see me there when “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours came on my ipod, fwapping away on the tread, dancing with my head, and pounding on the arms to the beat. What a dork! I can see myself in the mirror there, and I never look as fast or sleek as I imagine I am. I just look like some mom chugging away like The Little Engine That Could. Hardly sleek, more utilitarian.

No one talks. Everyone does their thing.

*additional visual content from cj -- hahaha, thank you!


FUN FUN FUNNEL CLOUDS! What horrible, fascinating things they are. They have been featured as a life-long recurrent nightmare for me -- always essentially the same vision, a massive looming spinning pitch-black unavoidable terror closing in. I always wake up before the thing hits, but that feeling is still there, of helplessness and hopelessness. THANKS, BRAIN! What an ass the brain is, torturing you with tornadoes in what is supposed to be a nice peaceful rest. Stupid synapses.

Growing up in Wisconsin, I had my share of tornado fun. Wisconsin has some real weather issues. I am not exactly sure why people persist in living there after a few go-rounds of said tornadoes, the cloudy oppressive humidity, and the 1/2 year long blizzard season. Perhaps it is the excellent cheese that compels folks to stay. Mmm. Cheese. Anyway. The Looming Dread of the Tornado was drilled into my kiddie head with the town siren and the BRAP BRAP BRAP! of the tv and radio Emergency Warning System. I would watch the sky for some building fluffy swirling darkness, a rotation. You knew it was really gonna be bad when the sky turned kind of a seafoam green, the air hung sick and stagnant, the birds stopped singing, and time seemed to stop. The tv would run warnings across the bottom of the screen: “MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO SHELTER.”

One night, my mother scooped me up into her arms out of my bed. In my sleepy stupor I remember her saying, “tornado…basement…” She carried me there, where my father had already taken my brother. It was noisy and windy outside, the town siren was blaring, and the basement was even more stark than usual now, cement floor and single bare lightbulb. When I awoke a little more, a horrible panic hit me: “DADDY, WHERE IS SAM?” Sam was our sweet Great Pyrenees, mainly banished to a filthy doghouse in a pen far from the house. My father insisted the dog would be OK, and I started to cry and begged him to go get him and bring him to the basement. I pleaded and pleaded, looked at my mother who could only hold me tighter with her sad face. “I’LL GO! I’LL GO!!!” I cried. I pictured Sam taking off into the sky in his doghouse ala The Wizard of Oz and never seeing him again. I thought how frightened he must be. I hoped he would escape and run over to the farm next door and hide in the barn with the cows and horses. I cried and seethed with helpless anger.

The roar. There it was. The train sound, so loud. The house shook and creaked and I imagined any second the windows would explode, timbers would fly, and we would all be blenderized. Instead, the cellar doors to the outside flew open with a tremendous metal clatter, and down the stairs came a young tree, more leaves and branches and wood pieces. I think we all screamed but I don’t remember. I just recall the shock of seeing a tree in my basement. As I processed that, I realized that the noise and the wind had stopped. After a few minutes my dad got up and made his way through the mess and the ripped-off cellar doors, and said it looked like it had passed through and was done. The siren stopped. As my mother walked us back upstairs, I wondered if the rest of the house was gone. But it was fine, just a few roof tiles knocked off, laying outside scattered on the grass as the sunrise just began to emerge. My father brought Sam, very shaky but OK, into the garage as a silent kindness to me.

I am long-removed from the Land Of Tornadoes. Somebody tell that to my stupid brain.


I spent a very pleasant evening at the theatre this evening. My teenage son’s small school put on a production of the musical “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” staged at the local Performance Center. The kids ranged in age from 12 to 16, and were for the most part unflappable, brave, in tune, and quite charming. I smiled at them from my darkened seat. I am just – just – old enough to remember when the play first came out, when “Peanuts” mania was in full force. I think the musical made the cover of Life, and I since I read that religiously I recall seeing the stage photographs and being irritated that they had young adults playing children’s roles, and a person playing Snoopy. “WTF?” I said in my little mind, although the “F”would’ve been replaced by “H” for “heck” or something. I was a very sheltered little girl.

Tonight’s play reminded me of my play days. There weren’t any opportunities to be in plays when I was in early grade school, so I “wrote,” directed, and performed my own. The “wrote” is in quotes because what I did was take “Peanuts” comics from the paper, compile them for a few months, then write them as dialogue in some kind of logical order, and stage them, suited for the front of the 2nd Grade classroom blackboard, at the end of the day on a Friday, if allowed. I seem to remember them as going over well – god knows they were better than the stinking “Life Cycle Of A Monarch Butterfly” filmstrips that passed for entertainment.

A couple of years later I horned my way into proper school productions. I was the narrator in “Oliver!” because I was the best reader in the school – that was the casting qualification. This irked the older kids I think, but tough shit – read a book sometimes, you farm clods. Two years later, I was Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” By then I learned this: if you have a main role in a school play, you can get out of most any other schoolwork by simply saying, “I have to rehearse.” I spent most of 6th grade year “rehearsing,” which really was going into the hallway with Hermia and throwing pencils into the asbestos ceiling tiles and reading teen magazines. It was sweet.

Later on, the school talent shows were the thing, and I would write a sketch, dance in another, do a parody country song in another, and do makeup for my friends backstage. Another reason I have poor math skills – SHOWBIZ. If I was going to “rehearse," you can damn well bet Algebra was the class I was going to cut. Ah, such fun we had.

I stopped all that by 10th grade, stopped participating in anything at school at all. I am not exactly sure why I stopped, watched as my other friends continued on with the plays and shows, cheered them but would no longer go onstage. I wasn’t having fun any more at school, didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to give THE MAN anything. Show over.

I hope all the kids I saw this evening continue on just getting out there. It’s a good thing being part of a group, working together, making something happen. I see them now, the whole laughing, hopping, giddy lot of them, actors, crew, and orchestra, head out across the parking lot for their after-party. A big pickup truck goes by, loaded with Snoopy’s big red doghouse. It was good.


All I have wanted from this season's American Idol is one thing, just one: for David Archuleta to throw up violently onstage. I know he wants to, oh, he's holding back with all his teen might. Look at that poor kid: watery eyes, trembling lips, clammy pale skin, shuffling and bowing in humbled fear. It would be the single greatest moment ever on television, made even more fabulous if his projectile vomit would spew all over Ryan Seacrest, live. Ryan would handle it like the entertainment pro he is, all serious concern for the mortified boy and a quick cut to commercial. Oh, GOD, how I want this to happen! HAHAHAHA!


These are some of the clothes I can remember wearing in the 80s:
  • A Japanese wildly-painted turquoise, white, and orange jacket that turned into a skirt. I think Fee Waybill of the Tubes had one. Maybe his jacket turned into pants. Yes.
  • A neon-yellow sleeveless t-shirt with black bats and neon orange paint splatters on it that I wore with black leggings and neon orange gloves. I wore this to a Pee-Wee Herman show and he walked up to me and said, “Not looking for attention, huh?”
  • A “Go Greyhound!” bus t-shirt and a red miniskirt. The t-shirt sentiment was deeply sarcastic.
  • Z. Cavaricci washed out jeans with HUGE elaborate flaps on the sides that made my waist look teeny, and butt huge. I would wear a red cut-off t-shirt with those. I am sure they looked even more stupid than I now recall.
  • A washed-out pink sweatshirt with a black piano keyboard print running down the arms. I think Pat Benatar had one just like it.
  • Skintight dark stretch jeans from England, essentially painted-on. Impossible to find in the States. Left nothing to the imagination. I would tuck a t-shirt into them, even.
  • A 50s vintage cashmere houndstooth men’s jacket with the sleeves rolled up. This came from Aardvark’s on Melrose. I think it was $32.00. It went with everything and was very soft.
  • A long yellow knit skirt that once flew up and over my head completely with a gust of Chicago wind. I was so shocked at the sheer force of this and that the skirt stayed up and up and up and up that I didn’t immediately do something. I did eventually set down my two bags of groceries and pulled the skirt down. A passing young professional man grinned wildly as I blushed red-hot and hoped my underwear was not torn or something.
  • A pair of Levi’s that were so old and worn that both the knees and the butt were torn out. I think they were from the early 70s, and had been passed from friend to friend over the years. They died with me. I mourned them.
  • A red satin baseball jacket. I like baseball gear. A little too Bee Gees, in retrospect, the jacket. It ripped anyway.
  • Purple high Doc Martin boots with yellow laces. Incredibly uncomfortable.
  • White leather pants, which made me look like a whale. They were really expensive, and I felt like an idiot after I bought them. Worn once, with a horrid dark pink puffy shirt and a zig-zaggy white leather belt over that and white go-go boots. Oy.
  • Black pleated pleather pants, which did not look bad. Dave Davies of the Kinks complimented them, and that made them wear-worthy. They did get hot, though.
  • A white puffyshirt, ala Seinfeld. A lot of buttons and seams. Cute, if busy.
  • A strange white long skirt, top 15” was white satin, the rest see-through organza. This skirt was reserved for rock shows only. I suspect it was actually a slip.
  • Silver leather penny loafers. I wore them until they fell apart. I really like shiny shit.
  • A black lace see-though vintage dress, which underneath I wore red underwear. God. Stupid girl. That was an interesting evening out.
  • Red flat-heeled go-go boots. Again, worn them until they died.
  • A giant poofy fuchsia and black cheetah print winter jacket with black rabbit fur trim. Oddly enough, purchased at a store in Rochester, Minnesota when I was at the Mayo Clinic for a few days and saving my poop samples in a jar in the hotel room, which made the room smell like death and poop. I associated the coat with poop and never wore it much, especially after I figured out the rabbit fur was real.
  • A teeny-tiny butter-soft 13” black leather miniskirt, worn low on the hips. This took serious balls to wear, I think I did only once or twice. Once I was told not to wear it to a club, as my date said he did not want to get in a fight over me. That was a nice compliment, or a very slick way of saying it looked awful.

The only things I still have somewhere, I think, are the cashmere men’s jacket and the teeny leather skirt. My teen son would love the jacket, but I am hanging onto it for a bit more. He’d wear it in the rain and rip it playing basketball. The skirt? I think now I couldn’t get it past my butt, and also should not. Do I pass it on to my daughter someday? Hmmmmm.


At the Other Good Coffee Place this morning, they are playing very loud techno music. It’s 9AM. This would not be my first choice, especially prior to ingesting coffee. But, whatever. It’s different.

Right now, everyone in here is a woman. Two are in their late 20s, four in their 40s. The light streaming in from the big front window tells the story. Skin never lies. One of the 40-somethings is playing with her Blackberry and tapping her New Balance-clad foot to the techno music. One of the 20-somethings seems deep in thought, hunched over a book using a hot-pink highlighter pen, looking studious and serious with her blond ponytail and crisp plaid shirt. The techno-tap woman could’ve been her 20 years ago, but her own ponytail is now mostly gray. You could see them as a long-lost mother and daughter, sitting 10 feet away from each other, never knowing. I try to create mental drama wherever I go. It keeps me from drifting off.

My attention is diverted by a deliveryman from Food Services of America across the street. He has remarkable hair. On the back of his head he has a grapefruit-sized bald spot, surrounded by a massive poof of wild brown/gray hair. It looks like an overhead shot of Mt. St. Helen’s or something. How cruel fate is, to give him this fluffy thick hair, and take just a circle away. If I were H.R. Poofnspot, I would tattoo “KAPOW!” on the bald spot.

In comes a boy barista to work his shift. He has on a white t-shirt and a cowboy bandanna and looks about 14 with black short hair and a sweet smile. I wonder why he isn’t in school. Another man comes in maybe 30 or so, greek-ish, and sits down with a coffee and yogurt and watches the people walk by. No one seems in any hurry this Monday. The techno beats drives on, but this crowd is more “Moon River.”

As I finish my coffee, the crowd here is thinning out, moving on to whatever in next in their respective days as the clouds break apart and I see the blue sky again. The techno-beat goes on…sunny and share.


Today at the gym, I had a revelation, two actually. The first was that 5PM on a Saturday is a great time to go there because it is dead. The second occurred as I was watching a playback of the Preakness on the big tv as I slogged along on the tread. I thought: I want to be that horse. I want to run, and then from somewhere way deep inside, pull something out and lengthen my stride and pull away from the pack and keep going. The win wouldn't even be in question.It would be mine.

My revelation had nothing to do with running.


I’m a fan. I know this is a medically-unpopular thing to admit, liking the sun, but I DO I DO I DO I DO!

It is a stunningly beautiful warm sunny day here, the damp and the rain vanquished for at least today. Never have I been so appreciative of a bright, cloudless blue sky, a light breeze, and the feel of the sun on my skin at 10:30AM – a perfect 75 degrees. There were many of these nice days in the spring, fall, and some of the summer in Colorado. Here, they are relegated to the short summers and an occasional anomaly day like this one. I could sit all day very happy, here at a teak table outside at the Other Other Good Coffee Place, just watching the people and their assorted dogs go by. I don’t need to be anywhere else, doing anything in particular. This is quite, quite good.

A very loud blaring fire truck and an ambulance scream by. No one even turns to look. They are all bewitched by the weather, lazily walking along in shorts and sandals dug out from closets. There is a couple at the table to my right. The guy looks like, really looks like, Brad Pitt about 10 years ago. The similarity is striking, and I bet he gets told that a hundred times a day. He’s quite all perfect – yellow t-shirt and blue and white madras plaid shorts, flip flops, tan, expensive sunglasses, gym body deluxe but not obnoxiously-so, artfully poofed sandy blond hair, a small gold chain, expensive watch. His girlfriend is attractive, but nowhere in his league, not even close. She is very thin, but in kind of a bony bird way, and she looks pinched a bit in the face and more conservative, in sort of bland tennis-looking gear, a white visor on her dishwater blond hair, and white tank top and a black skort. I notice him checking out all the girls – and there are many – walking and lounging around outside the coffee shop. His birdfriend doesn’t seem to catch it. Someone very cynical once noted that men strive to get the most physically-attractive women they can possibly get, while women strive to snare the richest and most stable men possible. Now that is all very sexist and backwards. How much of that is true? I don’t know. I suppose feelings enter in to it all somewhere.

Looking around at all the couples it seems like people generally end up with their approximate match in looks and social status. When there is a striking anomaly, like Anna Nicole Smith and the million-year-old Texas guy, there’s a reason. Otherwise, people gravitate towards who they somehow intuit is in the league, so to speak. It is interesting.

There are psychological tests where you ask people to rate their own attractiveness. I think most people pick around a 7. Everyone likes to think they are above-average. That seems mentally-healthy, if inaccurate on the bell curve.

OK, here’s a very buff young guy walking a teeny little shivering terrier with a jeweled collar. I will bet you a zillion dollars he has some kind of fluffy hot gf and it’s her dog. AHAHAHAHAH! LOOK! I AM RIGHT! Here she comes, in a bright billowing yellow sundress, big gold heels, gold hoop earrings, very pretty. They sit at the table to my left and begin talking about their drinks, while Shakes starts running his leash around their table and panting.

Sundress: Why aren’t you drinking?
Buffboy: I don’t want a hot drink.
S: Well, why didn’t you tell me that!! I’ll go get you another one.
BB: No, Whatever. I won’t have a drink.
S: You should just drink it! God! They sell Mexican Coke here. I could get you that.
BB: What is that?
S: I think it’s like regular Coke, but sweeter?
BB: I don’t want that. Just forget it.
S: Oh, god, can you fix the fucking leash on him?

They sit and pout for awhile while Sundress finishes her drink and Buffboy unwraps Shakes, then they wander off into the perfect day. I give then a year more. Unless Shakes has an untimely demise.

There is laundry to do, oh is there laundry, the house needs vacuuming, the dishes are in the sink, I have 15 years worth of papers to go through, phone calls to return, and 300 emails sitting in my inbox. But all of that will have to wait. It is a beautiful sunny day, there are above-average people walking about, and I am just going to appreciate a bit more.


I know it was hot out today, and it looks like you were coming from the gym, but I gotta tell ya: you looked like a big strutting ass walking slowly through the shopping center and the parking lot with your shirt off.


Best ever. If it was ever on tv, I could die happy.

Not Safe For Work, Or Anywhere. Enjoy!


Today I went to get my hair done, which means cut and colored. I have been seriously messing with my hair color since I was 18, which I find fun and relaxing. I figure it is one of the things you can change about yourself on a freakish whim, and if you don’t like it, you can change it to another freakish whim. I have been through most of the available colors and variations in hair color and cut, but I always strive to improve my freak. Today’s selection was the razored mid-length bob, dark chocolate brown with violet highlights. I wish many more people would have funky hair, it would brighten up the landscape considerably. You chickens.

I worked at a salon in Chicago for about a year. I was the $4.50 per hour all-purpose grunt who was the receptionist, cashier, bank runner, client file keeper, shampoo girl, laundress, sweeper woman, and also was called upon to put color on some poor unknowing women occasionally, which was a total no-no. Whenever I did that, I pictured the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology Police breaking down the door and arresting everyone while, because this was Chicago, beating everyone senseless with their hair brooms.

The worst part of the job was washing out relaxer from the hair of a middle-aged Jewish woman from Old Town. Oh, god. This gunk was, I swear, made from heavy-weight axle grease and the feces of Satan. When it was time for it to be washed out, I felt like I was headed to Death Row. It was impossible, IMPOSSIBLE, to get out of her hair. Scrub scrub scrub scrub, lather rinse repeat a THOUSAND TIMES. The thick smelly horrible grease clung onto every strand of hair like some hideous gelatinous alien vomit. My arms would get so sore, her neck would kink from being in the stupid shampoo bowl, but that shit would NOT RINSE OUT!!! After about what seemed like an hour, I would either call it “good enough” or call one of the stylists over to relieve me. It got to the point where when I saw her name in the appointment book, I would come down with “relaxer flu” and stay home. Relaxer whupped my ass good. She should’ve just stuck with her natural jewfro and saved me and her neck the misery.

The best part of the job were the conversations, had or overheard. For some reason, when people get into a salon, they tend to spill their guts for all to hear, like they enter some sacred beauty confessional. It doesn’t matter who is around; start slapping on some bleach and foils and women start telling you everything. Sometimes it was personal -- love life, depression or illness, work issues, child stories -- sometimes some kickass travel rants or gossip. The best stories were about famous people and/or tales with great vitriol. It’s like the bleach would leech out the venom and common sense from the bowels of the client’s psyche, to be spewed upon the waiting ears of me, the stylists, Dandruff Man Who Tips Well, Brusque Lesbian Professional Woman, Shoulder Pad Ditz Girl, and of course Relaxer Woman, who never got the full story because her head was always in the stinking shampoo bowl.

It was a fun job, mostly, but after awhile I got tired of working for so little pay and regard. So I moved out West, went to college, got my degree, and then had a pile of children and never used it. HA HA, me.

I wonder what name the shampoo girl/receptionist gives to me when she sees my name in the appointment book. I do not even want to guess, but I bet I would think it was pretty funny.


Irony alert today at the gym. I am in the Cardio Cave, chugging along BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM as my feet whap on the treadmill. Right next to me is Ginormo Man, a great hulking beast of a guy, maybe 6’5” or so with huge muscles. He looks like a tank. He is hitting his treadmill so heavily that my bottle of water is sloshing around even more than usual, and my MP3 player is making little leaps of freedom in the air. As I take a slug from my water to lower its sloshability, I look up at the big tv screen and see video from CNN taken during the recent big earthquake in China of a swimming pool sloshing around wildly, water splashing out and onto the grass. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM go the feet at the gym, shaking, sloshing, while the pool scene on the tv switches to bodies being pulled from the rubble. I look down at my feet and feel the vibrations from Ginormo, and I wonder if he caught the irony deal. Probably not – he was likely thinking about his dead weight lifts. Oh. Extra black humored irony for you there.

I have been in a few earthquakes, which is interesting only for the fact that I am not a Pacific Rim native. Every time I have been to San Francisco, an earthquake. It is a bit disconcerting to think that maybe I have been getting worked over by the mischievous whims of plate tectonics. “Oh, here is Marianne, let’s set up a nice 5.0 for her eh, Shifty?” “Heh heh, wait until she gets up into her hotel room on the 40th floor, Slidey, let her see the buildings sway.” Assholes, those Plates.

So now I live in a place that sometimes has Big Earthquakes. Oh, hurray. Tornadoes, hurricanes, those you can usually get a little warning and either get the hell out of Dodge or lay down in the bathtub and eat crackers or something. Blizzards, run to the Shop n’ Save and buy up a bunch of comfort foods and logs and stay inside. Wildfires, again, get out of Dodge, wet down your house. Earthquakes, well. There is no good warning system for those bastards. You just have to deal.

Everyone has their own earthquakes in life to manage, something like Metaphorical Ginormo Man. He shakes things up, reminds you that nothing is ever as solid as it seems, makes you have to clean up your slosh, and wonder just when he’s coming into your gym next. Sometimes, if Ginormo Man is just Semi-Ginormo, the slosh he brings is not necessarily awful; it can be kind of fun, like a carnival ride. Granted, you still might shake in delayed fear at the end of the ride, but it could be cool. Earthquakes, be-muscled or skinny, bring change of some sort, change that is bigger than you and your water bottle.

Metaphor and irony aside, some people in China need more tangible assistance. Here are a couple of places that help you help them:


Of course, the weekend came and New Neighbor Woman called up and asked to do something with us. I could see her on her cell phone, smoking in her driveway. It begins. Every weekend it’ll be something, oh and then just WAIT until school lets out. The child boundaries will blur and I will find myself one night unexpectedly tucking in their 5-year-old-boy here instead of my 5-year-old-girl, as my daughter will be at the neighbors’ lighting small fires.

If it’s pissy of me, forgive me. I have had neighbors I have treasured, who have stayed good friends over many years and many moves later. You have to love a neighbor who comes over and chases an errant bat out of your bedroom, one who knows when to call time out on an obnoxious playdate, one who brings a delicious meal over after you bring a baby home then lets you sleep, and all who actually have mufflers on their cars. It takes time and some hovering about to get to know your neighbors. I don’t want to be anyone’s instant new best friend.

There are good reasons I feel this way, the primary one arising from my childhood. When I was around three, my parents bought an acre of land across the street from our house, and built a new house. They sold the old house, and bought a nightmare in the process. The couple they sold it to glommed onto us like barnacles on the S.S. Failboat. OMGOMGOMG. I kid you not, every single night after they ate dinner, they would show up at our house, usually drunk too. Didn’t matter if it was summer or winter, whether or not we were still eating dinner, doing homework, had other company over, my 4th birthday party, whatever. There they fucking were, ringing the doorbell, or sometimes just walked in if the door was unlocked. My tiny little heart grew to resent them greatly.

When I asked my mother why they had to come over every night she just looked at me sadly and said, “Well, they don’t have any other friends.” When I persisted, asking why she didn’t say something to them, she would just mumble something about well, it’s just very hard, they are neighbors, and lonely, and blahblahblah. She and my dad would whine about it, bemoan them, but never did anything about it. They’d stay until long after my bedtime, and I’d stay awake listening to them bray and yabber and drink all my folks’ gin until they staggered back to their own home again. OY. I would get up for school in the morning, bleary-eyed and exhausted, and my mother would apologize for all the noise. I would then go to school, go to the library, read for awhile, then find a secret corner and sleep. No one noticed, or if they did, they never said anything about it. The librarian liked me.

So, pardon damn ME, New Neighbors, I am SENSITIVE to your glom. Sigh.


This afternoon I am at the First Other Coffee Place With The Good Coffee. I am drinking the largest, most jacked latte they serve. It is good, as I noted, damn good. Maybe tomorrow I will go to the Other Other Coffee Place With The Good Coffee, and do a proper comparison. It is important information to know, where to get my drug of choice. I never have to panic.

I am sitting and facing the main street in town, busy on a Saturday. Well, busy for here anyway. This never compares to the misery of the Dan Ryan Expressway at any hour. Shoppers and lunchers walk by. Everyone looks clean and pleasant and well-off, as usual. There are flowers planted in the median strip, blooming wildly in yellow and purple and red. I would tell you what kind they were except that I know fuck all about plants. The red ones are tulips. There. It is cloudy but not raining, so everyone is out in force in gratitude and the need to burn off some nerd bucks. No one looks particularly happy or sad. The dogs walking by look the happiest.

Directly across the street is the Waxing Salon. It is delightful to watch who comes in and out of there, and wonder what services they are purchasing. Clearly, the young swarthy hip Italian dude is getting his back hair ripped off, the young girls or mid-age-girls probably everything off. Oh, but look. There goes Grandma into the salon! She looks to be decently into her 70s, very much Grandma Cookies and Milk, very regular and sweet and a bit frumpy. WHAT IS SHE HAVING DONE THERE???? OMG, I have to know. I could run across the street, waving a crosswalk flag of course, burst in their door and say, “I HAVE A BLOG AND I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THE ELDERLY WOMAN IS DOING HERE RIGHT NOW!” If I was with someone else here, someone devilish like me, I would dare that person to dare me, and then I would do it for sure. But I am alone, so I can only speculate. I want to think Grandma Norma McNormalson is having a full Brazilian done, and afterwards will don a hot pink thong under her elastic waist beige poly pants. OK, I know, she is probably having an upper-lip wax done, but let me range out here. I love the unexpected.

You never know about people. I like looking into homes at night as I drive or walk by if they have their lights on and drapes opened. Because I have one of those kind of minds and am almost always filled with coffee, I instantly start imagining who lives there and what they are doing and what other kind of stuff is in their house and what they do for a living and what they do there when they are there. It is fun. Sometimes I can get a good view in and see what they have for knick-knacks and art and such. This can tell you a lot. Single men generally do not collect porcelain unicorn figurines. Single women generally do not collect massive flat-screen televisions and gun cabinets. Poor people generally do not have post-modern angular furniture. Rich people generally do not have porch couches with holes bored into the arms to hold beer cans. You learn stuff about people, after awhile.

But really, you just never know. People are so odd. Who isn’t odd? You think someone isn’t odd, oh boy, I will bet you they are the oddest. I think sometimes the people who are outwardly different, say, the young goth sexually-ambiguous girl who served me my coffee, are not so odd underneath. They are who they are, present it right out front, and there are no secrets to be uncovered. It is the senators and the nuns and the teachers who always seem to have something wild going on. They should always close their drapes. There are blogs about.

This is officially the most tangent-filled thing I have written on here so far. It was unexpected, so I deem it good.


Fame fame fame fame fame fame fame. What’s your name?

Ah, Mr.Bowie and Mr. Lennon. They so knew about fame. Yet even Mr.Lennon, who paid the ultimate price for being famous, would be even more disturbed and depressed by the nature of fame these days. I would wish it on no one I cared for. I would not wish it on someone I felt neutral towards. I would only wish it on the most heinous of people, the most crass, soulless, handicapped-space parking stealers on earth, or Paris Hilton. I wish she would be running through some water and a dog would knock her down not once, but twice. And then the dog would pee on her while standing on her back, and then there would be a YouTube of it within five minutes with 1,000,000 hits within an hour. HA.

Celebrity, fame, infamy, notoriety. What makes the hunger for appreciation and attention, which we all have to some degree, turn into psychic hyperphagia? Because I am thoughtful, I will here provide you with the definition of hyperphagia so you don’t have to Google it and come back: “to eat without stopping.” This is what you must have to want to get famous to begin with, an insatiable need to HAVE IT. Think about what it must be like. You wake up, sleepy and groggy from a dream about being famous, then you realize OMG I AM REALLY FAMOUS! Because you worked hard for this by appearing in a short-lived FOX series about physically-attractive and sincere morons and threw up outside of the Roxy while fighting with Christian Bale, you are happy to know that your day will be filled with the attention of the world. Your five cell phones, ordered in your ginormous purse by hierarchy, will vibrate constantly, letting you know YOU ARE WANTED. Short, comb-over-with-ponytail-haired, schlubby paparazzi are camped outside your Hollywood Hills home, waiting to get a long-lensed blurry photo of you by 11AM to get over to People before deadline. They will get twice as much if you have any sort of cellulite showing. Your assistant, pretty but not prettier than you, will keep you moving from interview to the gym to the shrink to your agent’s cooler-than-cool office that still feels slimy, to lunch with one of the Olsen twins (who will not eat but will make pouty lips at the paparazzi), to your mani/pedi girl, and on and on and on. It is all about YOU. Your small dog will poop inside the Fred Segal on Melrose and a smiling young salesgirl will say, “Oh, ha ha, no problem, isn’t he so cuuuuute?” When she takes the poop outside to the dumpster, she will whip out her cell phone, speed dial The National Enquirer, where your dog’s poop will make Mike Walker’s gossip column, which kicks back a few bucks to the salesgirl, which is a pretty good payout for cleaning up Chihuahua scat.

It will end. Oh, it has to end. The wall comes earlier and earlier these days, and you will hit it before you are 30. Newer and stupider celebutards will come to take your place, and what will you do then? Totter around on higher heels, take on some fashionable anorexia, date an 18-year-old son of a movie mogul, and look for “serious dramatic work to show range.” The fear will be in your eyes. Your 15 minutes are up. Time to marry the 18-year-old’s dad and retire into drugged but luxurious obscurity. The mogul won’t even care if you do the pool boy on the side.

Fame, what you like is in the limo
Fame, what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, what you need you have to borrow

At least John Lennon left us with songs, and words, and ideas. You, Chihuahua-Clutching Pinhead, leave us poorer for knowing you.


For some reason I was just thinking about those salesmen at the mall who used to play the organ at the entrance of the Lowrey Organ Store. What a job. Show up in your Sansabelt brown plaid slacks, shiny brown wingtips, white short sleeved button-down shirt, grease back your hair with VO-5, and play Carpenters songs on the E-Z-Play Organ all day long for people passing by. All. Day. Long. Offering a free set of 10 organ lessons THAT’S FREE FOLKS with purchase THIS WEEK ONLY! ONLY $10 a month and this amazing instrument even a toddler can play can be yours!

How many people took the bait from Mr. Organ Man, as he effortlessly coaxed a virtual symphony out of that thing? The good folks, feeling like musicality was in their grasp at last, played it for a week and abandoned it in the living room, a dust-catcher for the rest of time. It is a great American story.

I see the Organ Man as a single guy who lived alone, ate Swanson Turkey tv dinners and drank cheap rye whiskey most every night and watched boxing on the set until the Indian head test pattern came on and he fell asleep in the Barcalounger. I salute you, Organ Man. Rock on.


So I went back to the gym today. It’s the same as it always been over the years, really: the fat and the fit, the show-offs and the red-faced miserables, all sweating to a tv screen on the wall showing “Days of Our Lives.” I smiled widely at the soap opera as I ran my miles. I hadn’t seen it in ages, and there’s friggin' John Black on there still after like a million years. I think his real name is Drake or Dirk or Drunk or something like that. He looked the same – handsome, fake-tanned, with a deepening of his brow furrow lines. I thought for a minute, well, why hasn’t he had those Botoxed out like the rest of his face? And then I realized, ah no, that is his character, all intense and serious. He keeps his two vertical lines. I really liked the juxtaposition of the Sex Pistols on my headphones and John and Marlena on the tv screen still making melodramatic faces at each other. It felt good.

The guy running next to me looked like Arlo Guthrie, with long gray wavy hair. Arlo walked for a couple minutes then ramped it up. I could not figure why he wanted to use the machine next to me when there were a bunch open with no one by them. Maybe it was his favorite. Maybe he does not understand gym machine etiquette. I really do not want anyone close to me as sweat runs into my eyes and I have to periodically swig great glugs of water and breathe through my mouth. Although there is something in me that would love to cause a great obnoxious scene by singing along loudly and tunelessly to “Can I Get A Witness” as I run, while letting a good ripping fart. I wish for such bravery, but I will never do it. Maybe.

With that in mind, this gym has a workout room, a huge one, where all the lights are dimmed, a cardio cave. You can sweat and have your ass jiggle hopelessly in darkened anonymity, with just the sounds of the fans overhead and the whirring machines. I think I will go in there next time and pretend I am running in outer space all by myself. With my luck Arlo will get on the machine next to me. He’ll be in for it if he does. Maybe I will start talking back to the characters on the soap opera. “HEY BITCH, WHY DON’T YOU LEAVE JENNIFER ALONE AND GET YOUR OWN MAN?” Oh, god. Now I might have to do it.

I’m gonna get famous at the gym.


Dear Brand-New Next-Door Neighbor,

Thank you for inviting me over this evening. It was very social of you. It was also very overwhelmingly social and impressively intimate of you to tell me:
  • You had cancer.
  • All about how your dogs – that’s multiple dogs, yes – were shot dead by an old neighbor.
  • That your childrens’ names are, essentially Georgette II, Georgette III, and George IV, and the Georgette V and George VI visit on alternate weekends per court order.
  • Everything I could ever ever ever want to know about nesting dolls, tiny ceramic tea sets, Jesus icons, what you picked out the city dump last week, horrible art, how you cannot get the greasy brown splatters off the kitchen cabinets, where you got your barbed wire tattoo, how you loved managing McDonald’s, and more things that I have already blocked out of my mind.
Whatever happened to talk about the weather and such? How about the local school? Good places to eat? HOW ABOUT NOT MAKING MY EARS BLEED, HAH?

When you leave someone’s house thinking, I AM SO SO SO SCREWED, it did NOT go well.



HA 2

There might be something funnier than a dog knocking down a kid running through some water -- not just once, but twice -- but I have no idea what that would be.



When I first moved to Denver, I lived in a loft in a converted warehouse. It was the first building to start the loft trend there, in the industrial district downtown, a 6-story red-brick monster built in 1905 that took up the better part of the block. Oh, when the agent showed it to me, how impressed I was! A big shiny new elevator took me up to #3G, where I took in the sight of an 1800 sq. ft. room with 25 ft. ceilings, 10 ft. high windows all over, and an elevated sleeping area. The hardwood floors were refinished and shining, the appliances the very-newly-chic stainless, there was a full-size washer/dryer in the bathroom, it had a rooftop sundeck, and was a short few blocks walk to the University of Colorado, where I was a student. It was totally, utterly, superly cool. Because I was a smart, responsible adult I asked the agent, “So, is it pretty quiet here? I need to study.” She replied, “Oh, yes, yes, it is a very quiet place, you will love it.”


Being new to Denver, and still retaining my Midwestern naivete , I just believed her. I did not talk to others in the building, didn’t really ask around, or LOOK. I signed a one-year lease and was all smug and thrilled that I could be such an urban hipster in my loft. I moved in.

The lesson that I would like to impart upon you is that you should always BOTHER to SEE what building is A MERE TEN FEET AWAY FROM YOUR WINDOWS before signing binding contracts. Yes, across the skinny alley was a DANCE CLUB. The most-popular, 7-nights-a-week –open-until-3AM dance club in town. Imagine. I am sitting down at night in my living room area with a high-caffeine iced coffee to try miserably to get through some basic math that is already freaking me out completely, and it begins. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. WHAAAAA???? The original single-pane windows vibrated visibly, and the mortar crumbled off the exposed brickwork. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. It was if you had your own stereo on in your own home, cranked to 11, with an elephant herd dancing in the kitchen.

ALL NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. “GROOVE IS IN THE HEARRRRRRTT, HAAA AA AA RRT!” “EVERYBODY DANCE NOW! CRUNK CRUCKCRUNKCRUNK CRUNK!” “PUMP THAT BODAAAYY, PUMP THAT BODAYYY!” Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. I would sit and seethe and read the stupid math problems over and over because I could not concentrate because GROOVE IS IN THE HAAAAAAAAARRRTTTTTT!” Calling that BITCH, the leasing agent, did no good. We signed, that was that, sorreeeeee. I wished horrible things upon here, that skinny nasty lying piece of crap, I did.

OH, and when I could finally go to bed, after the INCESSANT CONSTANT music stopped and the drunken dancers yelling sloppily finally all filtered out and back to the suburbs? The city garbage trucks would barrel down my alley to pick up the club trash including what sounded like HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF BEER BOTTLES. CLANK CRASH SMASH CLINK CLANK CLANG SMASH! Oh, but not just ONE truck, NOOOOO. There were THREE. One came at 4AM, one at 5:30AM, and one at 7AM. BEEP BEEP BEEP ROAR SMASH! It was almost too horribly comical to bear. I had classes during the day, I had to try to sleep, but come on. I turned into Student Zombie, putting my head down on my desk in class to rest, pouring down so much coffee I think I began hallucinating, and having to really concentrate to walk. My trendy loft laughed at me as I swept up the night’s mortar rubble from the shiny floors once again.

Something had to be done. Sublet.

Now here was a dilemma. Ethically, I really needed to tell a potential sublettor that unless you slept all day and DANCED ALL NIGHT, this was an awful place to live. That was the right thing to do, to not pass on the bad karma. But I needed to GET OUT NOW. I worried about this, drank more coffee, napped in the Student Union, and didn’t know what to do.

Fate and karma can work in wonderful ways sometimes.

A couple made a telephone call to me, made an appointment to see the loft at 7PM, before the club opened for the night. I cleaned up, made it look as good as possible, and hoped that they were hearing-impaired or blind or both. 7PM comes, and I buzz them up. WELL. Look. Here at my door is a local sports writer, known nationwide for being a complete jerk and an all-around Not Nice Guy. On his arm is his new girlfriend, a tall big-haired mighty-makeuped and beheeled spectacle. When I take in that she is wearing, in summer, a full-length red fox coat, my decision is made. Don’t ask, don’t tell. They sign the sublet paperwork immediately. They leave, and I am joyous. GOOD LUCK, ASSHOLES!

I moved to an apartment about a half-mile away, a silent 30 stories up in the sky, and passed the math class with an “A.”


I keep away from flags. They are trouble. I don’t fly a flag at my home, unless someone walks by and sticks a tiny one in the ground in front of my house on Independence Day. I hate that, because then I have to be responsible for it. Oh, god, there’s an American flag, now I have to make sure nothing bad happens to it. What if someone comes by and is walking their dog and the dog decides it wants to pee on it? I will have to watch constantly to make sure this does not occur. It is a burden, the tiny lawn flag. People should never put anything at all on my yard, hanging from my front door, pasted to my car, none of that. I mean, it’s my shit, get off! Would I come up to you and paste a bunch of stickies on your face with my blog URL? As good as a marketing idea as that may be, I would never. If I were going to cover a stranger with stickies, it would just be for fun.

I think I was thoroughly traumatized as a youngster about the flag. In grade school, they made a big deal about saying the Pledge Of Allegiance while raising the flag outside every morning. Kids took turns helping to unfold the flag, get it on the flagpole, and get it to the proper height. Oh, how I hated this task. I remember a teacher screaming her lungs out at some kid who let a corner of the flag drop in the springtime mud of the schoolyard. “PICK THAT UP! YOU LET IT TOUCH THE GROUND!” The poor boy turned white, then gray, then greenish and nearly jumped out of his Red Ball Jets. I was just really glad it wasn’t me. Stand at attention, hand over your heart, or else! I thought, what’s the deal, it’s a piece of fabric, you can’t throw it out when it gets old, you have to bury or burn it in some ceremony? Like it’s people? U.S. Flag Code says the flag should be treated as “a living thing.” Now really, try and say that to a kid and their eyes will get really big, and then narrow. It’s.A.Flag.

Now I get that the flag is a symbol for many people, especially those unfortunate souls that had to live through being in a war or two or three. It stands for America and all that sort of freedom we enjoy here. It was probably a really super great thing to see after you’d been held in a Japanese POW camp for years, although I would think a nice busty American woman with a pretty smile would be even greater. And food that was not rancid rice. A woman and fresh food, those are good things to fight for. So, yes, I get what people think about the flag. But I look at it and know that it is a piece of nylon fabric, stitched together in some flag factory in China. The world won’t stop if it falls to the floor, is made into a snappy Mod-style jacket, or even if that dumb little dog pees on it.

I don’t think much of symbols that someone has assigned extra power to. I would rather spend some time thinking about a few of the individuals who, whether they volunteered or were conscripted into service, had to leave Here and go There. I would rather not say the Pledge of Allegiance to anything; I would rather say thanks to a man or woman who tried to deal with the games of the sick-minded and power-mad, probably saw things no one should ever see, and had to come back Here and make some sense of it. My take on being an American is that I can question Symbols and Pledges and Rules if I like, respect that some people have powerful attachments to Symbols and Pledges and Rules, and feel totally free to tell someone to get their peeing dog the hell off my yard.


Where I sit in my home, when not out and about drinking life-sustaining coffee, is in front of a large bright window facing the street. When the weather becomes a bit warmer, every few minutes I will hear FWAP! PUNC! BAB! PAMM! These are the sounds of giant wobbly bees flying into the window. Over and over and over again, all summer long, they go top-speed into the glass. I have come to the realization that I have developmentally-disabled bees. They cannot learn. They bounce off the window, dazed, then repeat their futility until they are too stunned to continue or are dead. It is not a small sound they make either – every single time, it causes me to look up and frown. FWAP! PUNC! BAB! PAMM! My god, you stupid bees, you stupid stupid bees! Have the wasps and hornets taught you nothing?? They at least know to float warily and evilly around the perimeter of my home, rather than participate in this insect kamikaze display. Maybe a couple of times I will see a particularly dumb sparrow also fling into the glass, but it at least seems embarrassed and will move across town. But you stupid bees. You keep coming.

Why do you want in here so badly? I would just yell and kill you. There is nothing in here you want, you dumbasses. I will not make pets of you, let you watch TV with the kids, raid the pantry for honey and Rice Crispie Treats, or take a bath. You are supposed to live outside. You can try and try and try to break the glass but it will NEVER HAPPEN. If I thought you were smarter, I would admire your persistence, but I see now you are all just mindless ninnies. I am sorry if that is harsh.

When I was three, I was outside not drinking coffee and began pulling some wood off the Family Pile Of Wood to build Barbie’s Ammunition Hut or something, and you came after me. BEES! BEES! BEES! The other children surrounded me and yelled. “RUN!” and “NO, DON’T RUN, STAND STILL!” and “NO, RUN!” My response was to stand there, get stung, and weep. When you bees finished with me and the kids told me how stupid I was not to run away, I vowed that bees would never outsmart me ever again. The angry salty tears that ran down my little red face and into my mouth tasted of bitter resolve.

So I find myself, sitting here, and constantly being reminded that you, BEES, are but a few feet away from me, so incapable and wretched that you cannot not fly into my window. Bees, I call you out! You will not get me! I will put on headphones and will not hear you, forevermore! HA! Humans are smarter than bees! Mostly.