Here I sit, December 31, 2008. Another opportunity to mark another year past, another anniversary, another assessment day.

How I hate New Year’s Eve.

Maybe I am becoming Crusty McCrusterstein. I seem to have grown to hate all holidays now, mainly because they prevent the mail from coming and force me to do things I don’t want to. I don’t want to roast a turkey, I don’t want to blow my hand off with a firecracker, I don’t want to buy toys for children who will just say, “Is that all?” I don’t want to go to church, I don’t want to carve a pumpkin and scoop out all those disgusting guts, I don’t want to drink crappy sour champagne and toast the fact that I completely remember exactly what I was doing a year ago today, and it has been A WHOLE YEAR since then, and feel the substantial weight of each of those 365 days on my shoulders.

There are so few of us who can say they used their year well, to their best abilities, that they used this utterly precious time productively and positively. Instead, most of us watch too much terrible TV, eat and drink too much or too poorly, bicker endlessly with family, friends, and co-workers, worry about things too much, worry not enough about other things, do too many things because it seems expected, keep jobs that make you feel dull and sad, drive too fast, and repeat endlessly until another New Year’s Eve rolls around and some putz asks you, “So, what are your New Year’s resolutions, huh?” My immediate response would be, “I resolve that you should SHUT UP.” Ah, that would feel so good, like a long cool drink of water. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Resolutions are lame. Do or do not, but don’t set up some yearly hurdle that really has no meaning other than a calendar date. This is why these things fail so much; there is nothing driving the change other than January 1st and by the time it gets to be about March, who cares about a new year anymore, and you fall back into your old ways. Change is internal, and not based on someone’s else’s clock. Only you know when you can do it.

I did two things this year that took a fair amount of effort and focus. I got my health back by getting and staying on the treadmill, and I started writing this daily blog. For me, these are good and important steps in improving my lot as a Space Taking Resource Sucking Human. Oh, but it is so not enough. And the time passes and it’s New Year Eve and I am made to think by Old Father Time that I have, essentially, wasted another year. Fuck you, OFT, you bastard. I know I should not listen to him and I should appreciate the good things I have accomplished, that I have given. But I am not immune to his crackling whispering rasp, telling me “You failed, and one of these days I will bring my pal the Grim Reaper with me, and you will have no more years.”

You see why I feel a little testy today. Heh.

So I am not going to make any damn resolutions, not going to say I am just going to do my best, not going to start the stop watch on something when I know that each individual life is so ridiculously complex, so intertwined with the choices and decisions of everyone else out there, you just can’t really know what the hell is going to happen in a year. I can yap all confident to everyone YAS YAS I AM GOING TO DO THIS AND THIS AND THIS AND GO HERE AND BLAH DEE BLAH, but really. I might and I might not. Baby New Year could very well have explosive diarrhea, colic, and caustic drool. The only thing that I can try to do, day by day only, is stay truthful to myself and stick to what I think is valuable, and real. That is no resolution. It is necessity, and is sometimes incredibly difficult.

So to you all, all you friends and family and strangers out there all over the world, I wish for you the most pleasant, adorable, healthy, cherubic, and above-average Baby New Year ever. I’ll take a seat right over here.


I have spent the WHOLE DAMN DAY trying to figure out some travel things. So far, I have succeeded in nothing other than confusing myself and getting mild burns on my thighs from my laptop.

Yes, children, I remember the days before the Magic Internet, when you had to either spend several years on the phone to the airlines and hotels and car rental places, or enlist the services of a travel agent. Does that job even exist anymore? I used to think I would be really good at that because I knew so many of the three-letter airport codes and the SABRE and APOLLO booking systems they used seemed to be easy to figure out. And travel agents got great travel discounts for themselves, without having to serve fat sweaty businessman air cocktails and peanuts. I think my mom may still use a travel agent, as she refused the computer age completely, but then again she might just be dialing a random nice person from the phone book who is kind enough to get on the internet and help her with booking a flight. She still lives in Wisconsin, so this is entirely possible.

Bah. I don't know WTF to do. Too many options, too little money, funky time constraints, too many places to check to see what are the cheapest packages. I know, I should just PICK ONE and hit SUBMIT and move on. I try too hard for too little sometimes.

I know, stop whining. It's hardly the Gaza, huh.


I think I might make a good movie reviewer, precisely because I see so few of them. Honestly, I see maybe one or two a year, and that includes on TV too. I don't know exactly why that is, I used to see more films. As each successive child came along and it got harder and harder and more expensive to go out, it was hard to justify. It also become impossible to watch movies in my house, as there was always some kind of interruption or toilet disaster or dog wanting in-out-in-out-in-out which made it a hopeless quest for me to try and engage fully into the cinematic story.

Past those frustrations, so many times now I have been so disappointed with movies that I have come to expect that most of them will not be good, or outright suck, and are just not worth my time. I just hate it when I can see the infrastructure too plainly: the clunky heavy-handed Hollywood writing, the wooden shallow acting, too much action and too little plot, or something so bleak and intellectual that you feel the entire cast and crew probably shot themselves to death at the wrap party. I don't like it when I know in advance all the little tricks, or big ones, when I know how for the ONE MILLIONTH TIME that a Disney film is going to have a dead/missing parent, the bickering male/female leads are going to end up in bed together, or that some heavily-made-up actor playing some poor pathetic loner cancer victim, who is of course crusty and aloof yet vulnerable, is shedding that one single tear in close up to the 6000 members of The Association of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, not to me.

So today, with my fresh and un-movied eyes, I had the unfettered opportunity to see a movie in the theater, with a bottle of water and a popcorn, and I chose directer Ron Howard's adaptation of screenwriter Peter Morgan's hit play, "Frost/Nixon." There was a loud talker behind me at the start, but after a few head whips and glares in his direction, and him probably thinking about that movie shooter dude in Philadelphia, he shut up for the rest of the film. I think if he would've kept it up I would've relocated my seat right next to him and just peppered him with all kinds of questions and observations like, "DO YOU THINK IT IS CHILLY IN HERE?" and "TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR BANKRUPTCY THAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT BEFORE, THAT IS FUCKING FASCINATING!" and "HAVE YOU EVER HAD YOUR HEARING CHECKED?" and "MAN, NIXON HAD THE LIFE THERE IN CALIFORNIA, LOOK AT THAT SWEET HOUSE HE HAD!"


I wanted to see this film because it has some meaning to me as someone who is very interested in 20th Century culture and history, and as someone who remembers the interviews that David Frost did with Richard Nixon, remembers the endless endless endless TV and newspaper coverage of Watergate, Nixon's resignation and his helicopter flying off into the sky, so like the ones flying off at the end of the Vietnam war, loaded with the desperate and escaping. I was still a child then, of staunch Republican parents who believed Nixon was shamelessly and unfairly hounded out of office. But for me, having spent my whole life up until then seeing the very graphic depictions of the Vietnam War served to me via Walter Cronkite and LIFE Magazine, seeing the absolute fury of the young people who wanted no part of it and were being cut down by the thousands, I looked into the face of Richard Nixon and I saw a liar, of someone terrifically disconnected from so many of the people of the United States, of someone whose time was past. It was not a matter of debate in our house then, and my little child opinion would have been considered a great and unpatriotic offense by my dad, the WWII vet, so I said nothing.

But I watched, and I thought. The day Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon a full and absolute pardon was the moment where I decided for myself that politicians were never to be trusted. This is so much the real and devastating legacy of Richard Nixon: he smashed to pieces any last remaining ideal of American honesty, justice, selfless service, or clean government. He left the country jaded and disillusioned, never again to trust in leaders. Even worse, people stopped trying to care or change things. Most people,since that time, just expect nothing from anyone in government. People too young to remember this time or those not yet born have grown up with no other view. There is a hopelessness, a feeling that it is a game so big and so vicious behind the scenes, that we just for the most part go along and accept it now. How horrible. Nixon wasn't the first President to abuse his power in a big way, but in his arrogance even after being utterly laid open to the world as a scheming self-serving liar, history will always find him, in the end, a weak man who ended up a monster, banished to San Clemente, his only prison.

"Frost/Nixon" is, at the same time, both a magnificent and riveting film, and disappointing because of the rather hypocritical liberties it takes with the truth. The performances of Michael Sheen as British television host David Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon, are remarkable, no doubt perfectly honed from both actors reprising their roles from both the London and New York stage productions. I do not ever and at all lightly offer such praise, and I can hardly think of another performance that I would apply this to, but I felt Langella's portrayal was acting at its very finest. Playing such a character as Nixon is monumental endeavor; he is so recognizable and with such identifiable and well-known mannerisms, that there is but the thinnest of lines to send the performance into unmeaning farce. Yet for the entire film -- two hours plus -- there was not a moment where Langella faltered. He was Richard Nixon, period, which the entire film depended upon.

The film was so well-written and so well-paced that I did not feel manipulated, bored, frustrated, or talked-down-to whatsoever. The dialogue was natural, the time period kept true, the characters real and believable. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is actually so difficult to pull off. The writer must have a deep feeling for all kinds of people and personalities, a superb ear for conversation, an unerring sixth sense of what rings true and what doesn't,and the ease of language to be able to translate it onto paper. The actors have to be able to inhabit those people on the paper, make them come alive, make us believe they are them. Ron Howard, of course, is a rock solid director who is never afraid to let the story play out in such a natural way, and is always able to illuminate humanity, glorious or sad, in an intelligent and often beautiful manner.

I loved the film for these things. But the 20th Century maven in me, the documentarian, the completist, the stickler for accuracy, is let down by "Frost/Nixon." (Semi-spoiler alert NOW if you haven't seen the film, and you should see the film, so go see the film, then come back and finish reading this really damn long post.) Substantial changes were made in the dialogue from the original set of interviews, outright doing a 180 from what was actually said by Nixon in some cases, asummably, to get a more satisfactory climatic payoff for the film's end. Well, shit. I really wish they felt they didn't have to do that. It just does not at all seem right to me to so seriously change the language of a real piece of documented and important world history to suit a movie audience. It seems misguided and terribly misleading, as the vast number of people who see this movie, now and in the future, will take "Frost/Nixon" as gospel, transcribed faithfully. It just is not. If it were something of less import or less potential impact, I would let them have their creative license. But in this case, I believe it was a serious mistake, short-sighted, and, yes, arrogant. This could have been a truly great film, if it had only been able to be truthful in the spots where the truth is so easily checked and known.

I don't know when I will see another movie again, but when I do I doubt it will be as good as "Frost/Nixon," its faults included. I do know that during the writing of this blog, the phone rang three times, one child came through the room to shower, one child asked me where the step stool was, the dog let out a huge WOOF to come back in, and the mail came in with a lovely big package of books. It is easier to pause typing, I guess.


Rock n' roll music has not ever been known for quality enunciation. For instance, there is no more marble-mouthed singer than John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. There is no song I have ever heard him sing where more than 50% of the lyrics were intelligible. But I am not complaining; this has led to hours of entertainment far past the music, for the lyrics I thought I heard were always better than the real ones. Example: part of Creedence's "Down On The Corner" goes like this:

Down on the corner, out in the street,
Willy and the poorboys are playin;
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

You don't need a penny just to hang around,
But if you've got a nickel, wont you lay your money down?
Over on the corner there's a happy noise.
People come from all around to watch the magic boy.

What I hear is this:

Down on the corner, howdy in the street,
Silly and the punk boys are playin;
Bring a nick gull; happy feet.

You don't need a pinhead just to hang a row,
But if you've got a nick gull, wont you lay your money, Dow?
Ho there on the corner there's a happy goy.
Peep hole come from all around to watch the magic poi.

There are several books and websites devoted to these misheard lyrics, and they are often very amusing to read through. I was surprised and quite happy to see that so many people heard this one as I did when I was little: The Four Tops' "Bernadette" as "Burn To Death." HA HA! NICE! Oh, man, did that make me WONDER as a kid! WTF was going on out there??? Here are the lyrics, modified as I heard them then:

Burn To Death!
The Four Tops
Written by Holland- Dozier- Holland
Burn to death!, people are searchin' for
the kind of love that we possess.
Some go on searchin' their whole life through
and never find the love I've found in you.

And when I speak of you I see envy in other men's eyes,
and I'm well aware of what's on their minds.
They pretend to be my friend, when all the time
they long to persuade you from my side.
They'd give the world and all they own
for just one moment we have known.
Burn to death!, they want you because of the pride that it gives,
But burn to death!, I want you because I need you to live.
But while I live only to hold you,
Some other men, they long to control you.
But how can they control you burn to death!,
when they can not control themselves, burn to death!,
from wanting you, needing you,
But darling you belong to me.

I'll tell the world you belong to me,
I'll tell the world, you're the soul of me,
I'll tell the world you're a part of me, burn to death!

In your arms I find the kind of peace of mind
the world is searching for,
But you, you give me the joy this heart of mine
has always been longing for.

In you I have what other men long for.
All men need someone to worship and adore,
that's why I treasure you and place you high above,
for the only joy in life is to be loved.
So whatever you do, burn to death!, keep on loving me,
Burn to death!, keep on needing me,
burn to death!!
You're the soul of me, more than a dream.
You are planned to me.
And burn to death!,
You mean more to me than a woman was ever
meant to be
Burn to death!
My darling, burn to death!

Oh man oh man oh man! What the hell happened here? Did this girl really burn to death?? Did he want her to burn to death? Was it an accident? Did she not know how to stop, drop, and roll? Were there savage bands of Indians by The Four Tops? Damn! I don't think I even thought about the "burning love" kind of burn either; kids are so literal and I remember listening to the song and thinking OOOOHHHH, NOT GOOD. Ha ha.

As long as there are rock stars with mild speech impediments and listeners with substantial earwax, we shall all continue to enjoy these aural absurdities. Rock on.

Creedence Clearwater Revival -- "Down On The Corner"

The Four Tops -- "Bernadette"


I just finished a first read-through of a lovely new book I got for Christmas, "The Last Photographic Heroes: American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies" by Gilles Mora (Abrams Books, 2008). It is, as admitted by the author, a very subjective selection of "heroic" artists, those who devoted their lives to expanding the medium, most of whom I was unfamiliar with. I am always hungry to see new images, something presented that catches my eye or makes me think in a different way.

Prior to the mid-to-late 20th Century, photography was not particularly considered an art form, save for a few famous pioneers such as Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz. Working photographers more or less did illustrative work or plain photojournalism -- taking pictures of dresses or socks or toasters or lawn mowers for print ads,or of the burned-out house from last night's 3-alarm fire or a baby next to Farmer Brown's giant pumpkin for the Daily Bugle. Photographs were to always be properly lit and composed and in perfect focus, conveying only the very surface of what was being photographed.

Post-WWII America was ready to break free of what was, finally able to because people weren't out in the damn fields with Farmer Brown all day hauling pumpkins and spreading manure. There was just enough freedom and opportunity and time and energy for new kinds of expression to flourish -- rock n' roll, Beat writers, multi-media painters, and photography, which slowly opened up and accepted the work of those who made provocative images, which often took time and effort to understand and appreciate.

As I expected, I had mixed feelings about the book -- some of the images were clever, disturbing, beautiful, amusing, some of the work very interesting to me, and some I simply did not see as genius. I know I found the book too verbose and too laden with art critic terms for my taste; I would rather have seen more images and less text telling me about the bickering insularity of the art world. I just really want to see the pictures, and think about them in my own way, and I think most artists want people to do just that.

How photography has changed, even since I began taking little Instamatic photos as a kid, more than I think anyone could have dreamed. I think I got into taking pictures because I saw my dad digging it -- he had all kinds of odd little cameras. Even though he stopped taking pictures by the time I was about 8, it made an impression on me, the magic of freezing time, seeing how that looked, always different than you recalled. But taking pictures is really only part of the process of producing an image, as I found; the work done in the darkroom makes a huge difference in how the picture is perceived. Ask anyone who has done it -- you could spend forever tinkering with a single image in the darkroom, changing this or that, endlessly printing and reprinting while breathing in those chemicals, the smell of which I can still bring up on call in my olfactory memory.

Now -- now! -- with the advent of high-quality digital cameras and incredibly-powerful computer imaging programs, photography as a true art is available to nearly everyone. Things that used to take hours in the darkroom now take seconds in Photoshop. If you don't like what you did, you click Undo, and all is saved. Fantastic. That doesn't mean at all that everyone has the talent or ability or innovation to be a Great Artist, but how marvelous it is that so many more people have the opportunity to try, or even just explore the ideas of photography at their leisure.

Art, in whatever form, is the heartbeat of humanity. It shows the range of the human soul, things that take us to a higher level, to contemplate for a moment another's way of seeing the world. It is a gift when someone can touch people, many people, with their art.

The recent award-winning HP commercial featuring The Kinks' "Picture Book."


I accept that this country will always be a place of have and have nots. It was set up that way. It is the nature of capitalism -- there's a great deal of pie to be had but it is not unlimited, and some people for a variety of reasons will go without pie and sometimes dinner, lunch, and breakfast as well. It is not fair, and truthfully is sometimes deserved, but in general it seems like the pie folks could be doing a bit more to at least save some delicious crust crumbles for the non-pie folks. At the very very very least, have some clue to how other people are living and feeling day-to-day.

As I was eating my breakfast this morning, being all have-y and such, I was reading over the Best of 2008 issue of People Magazine (12/29/08). It is becoming increasingly meaningless to me, as I watch virtually no TV or movies now, but I do think Patrick Dempsey is attractive. Anyway, in this was an interview with George and Laura Bush and their two daughters. When I read this, I stopped eating and just sat and stared in disbelief:

PEOPLE: Which moments from the last eight years do you revisit most often?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I definitely think about the families I've met of the fallen soldiers -- about the compassion, love and determination of the families, to make sure that the Commander-In-Chief hears their stories and knows their pride. I think about throwing out that pitch at the World Series on (October 30) 2001. My heart was racing when I got to the mound. Didn't want to bounce it. Didn't want to let the fans down. My heart was pumping so hard, I wasn't sure if I could lift my arm. I never felt that anxious any other time during my presidency, curiously enough.


My god. Over eight years, THIS? This is what George Bush thinks about over everything he has seen and done, a PRESIDENT who has been all over the world, in office during 9-11, during wartime, Hurricane Katrina, a worldwide economic collapse? I sat there and felt my blood boil. George W. Bush is an entitled, vacuous, clueless boor.

Look at the way he structures what he says in the beginning part of his response. His politician reptile brain knows he has to first throw a bone to the devastated folks who have lost a son or daughter to a useless oil war, but it is so weak and shows him as an astoundingly self-centered shallow creep. Some Commander-In-Chief. Yeah, buddy, talk about all the families who want an ANSWER about why their children died, one you can never truthfully provide to them as you return to your cushy life in Texas, forget them and their questions and their faces. Nothing truly changes for the exceptionally privileged, it seems; even in the Great Depression or WWII, there were always people who had so much pie, they just rode it out. Yes, George, you will always be OK, while some poor dumb kid who got his legs blown off sits rotting in an underfunded VA hospital because he wasn't given adequate protection gear in Iraq. Think more about all that wonderful PRIDE the families have in their DEAD. Make that work for you.

The second comment is sheer comic absurdity. Out of ALL THE THINGS faced by a President in very trying times, this guy actually ADMITS that the most anxiety he ever felt in all that time was THROWING A BASEBALL, a month after one of the most horrific tragedies witnessed by the world. He's replaying THAT in his mind, thinking it MEANT SOMETHING to ANYONE?? It made me want to pound my head on the table in frustration, but he just isn't worth it.

PEOPLE: Mrs. Bush, are you hurt more by public opinion of your husband than he is?

MRS. BUSH: Probably. But both of us have a very strong sense of who we are. In a lot of ways, that's just chatter out there.

Um...Laura? No, it isn't:

Poll: 75% glad Bush is done

* Story Highlights
* CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll finds broad dissatisfaction with Bush presidency
* 31 percent say Bush has been good president; 40 percent call his presidency "poor"
* 28 percent rate Bush the worst president ever
* 82 percent say he did not unite the country; 17 percent say he did

It isn't "chatter." Face it, it is consensus. You married a creepy nasty clueless rich dope, and history will find little, if anything, to celebrate about him. He made the world worse for his efforts, or lack of them. But don't think about that. You know who you are, after all, stick with that.

It is not any crime to be wealthy; I don't give a damn whether people have money or don't and if you do, good for ya and enjoy the yummy pie. But to use your wealth and power and influence for your own agenda, your own families' selfish wants, and to utterly ignore the rest of the PLANET and what you have done, is obscene. The Bush family will retreat back to Texas, surround themselves with sycophants for the rest of their days, and everyone else is left to somehow try to pick up their very, very substantial mess.

It would be some kind of karma if Dubya caught a baseball to the forehead during a pleasant family game on the lawn someday, and it knocked him out cold.


Update to last night's UPS Truck Watch: like a great boxy hulking savior in the black of night, the UPS truck pulled up in front of my house late after the two littlest were asleep Christmas Eve. I whooped with delight, and ran to the kitchen to get some treats for the hard-working drivers. By the time I got back, the truck was gone. Like, GONE gone. I went WHA WHA WHA? and my teen told me that it appeared that the truck could not make it in the icy snow mess, went back down the hill, and left for GOOD. No packages left. I waited for the Men In Brown to return, carrying multiple festive parcels to my door by foot, but no one came.


Well, no matter, After 10PM or so, I finally got to wrapping what I did have to wrap, finished by midnight, got to sleep a couple hours later.

The kids started making some noise around 8AM, which seemed particularly kind and restrained of them. I had told the two little ones not to leave their rooms because they might frighten Santa away the night before (meaning: DO NOT CATCH ME BEING SANTA), and I was pleased they had listened. My smugness in parenting effectiveness was dashed completely when a waft of something-you-should-not-be-smelling-there came drifting out of my daughter's bedroom.

Me: What is THAT SMELL?
MissSix: I had to go, and you told me not to scare Santa.
MissSix: In a box.

Do they make litter boxes for children? DAMMIT.

The holiday crap was dealt with, which then had the unfortunate effect sending me into the bathroom for what seemed to be an hour. I should just not smell things, or eat things, apparently.

After several inquiries into the toilet asking if I had passed away or what, I recovered and we opened the presents. Everyone was very happy, and then went about grooving on their items. We ate donuts and drank coffee and milk and laughed at the dog eating her lovely decorated dog cookies and then eating a pile of snow after. I spent the day loading songs into my new and very unexpected iTouch, got up to the "N"s in iTunes and decided I needed a break, and ran a bath for a lovely long soak.

I don't often make time for the Soak Bath, with the candles and body scrub and bath salts, it just never seems to fit into the day. If I am going to be indulgent it is usually going to be by sitting on the internet yabbering or writing, or going out for coffee at 4 bucks a pop. But today I felt like I really needed it. I hoped the warm water would drain out all the toxins from my skin and brain and heart, kind of like a French press coffeemaker, where you would be left with only the good stuff and all the bad stuff would be down the drain.

I am not sure how I ended with with only Food-Smelling Things in my bathroom: blueberry bath salts, vanilla pound cake body scrub, and Butter Mint candles. In any case, it was all yummy. I turned on the Sirius radio to whatever the teen had on last, which was the blues channel, now playing all-blues Christmas music. The very late afternoon sky was a deep cobalt blue, the bathwater the lightest baby blue with a smooth white milky soap topping, blue everywhere. Ah-Ah-I'll Ha-Ah-Ave A Blue Christmas, sang Elvis. The only thing he is soaking up now is stagnant coffin air, I guess.

It occurs to me as I lie there contemplating my toes sticking out of the water, that I am a Soaker. I take things in deeply, good or bad, porous to a fault. I want to take every last bit of something I can, see it and feel it and touch it and know it, think about it, turn it over and around and upside down and inside out. I want this richness of experience in everything that I do, whether it is in music, or photography, or people, or anything. There doesn't seem to be any point to hanging out just to skim the surface, right? I want to dig for all the good stuff, but of course sometimes I hit intractable rock or, better still, a massive sewer pipe. I am not just talking Christmas Crap In A Box; I am talking Lake ShittiCaca, pouring over me in a great brown tsunami. It is part of the deal, I know, the cost to taking on the world bravely.

I let the bath water go tepid, then jump in the cool shower to wash my hair and face. I come out smelling like a delightful little dessert cafe, not entirely free of sewer remnants or UPS Fail, but at least I have really soft skin now.

Soak up the last of the season. A new year is coming...another truck pulls away.

"Blue Christmas" -- Elvis Presley


Is there anything more charming that a snowbound slushfest compounded by RAIN? Oh, yes, snow beneath me, rain peeing down on me from the very angels above, not even the bell ringers are out in this.

Seattle-ish-squish, Christmas Eve, 2008. I wait for ONE LAST UPS truck to come by with 50% of the gifts for tomorrow. It's 4PM. I haven't seen a truck all day. Sorry, kids, Santa Claus Has Got The AIDS this year, and it's nothing but socks, Tic-Tacs, and beef jerky for you all. Hey, beats Laura Ingalls Wilder's orange and a cornhusk doll. She was thrilled with that, all out on the prairie and such. Kids these days, they just don't appreciate a good piece of fruit.

A treacherous jaunt to the grocery store left me with a platter of deviled eggs that SOMEHOW got turned upside-down and now may end up as egg salad. I got a bottle of champagne to go with that. Mmm. Eggs and alcohol. Christmas-y.

I got the dog a great big nasty beef bone, and I am thinking the most amusing part of tomorrow morning will be watching her try to bury it in the snow. There was a beautiful black cat for adoption at the nice small pet food store who reminded me of my former beautiful black cat, Aja. This kitty was very friendly and very soft, and licked my hand and smiled at me. I asked for it, but Santa is a BITCH ASS MOFO and said no no no instead of ho ho ho. I suppose it is possible the dog would have attempted to bury the cat in the snow as well, I am not sure.

It's getting dark. Not even the slightest rumbling of a large brown truck.

Track your package

Date Time Location Event Details
December 24, 2008 08:23:00 AM REDMOND WA US Arrival Scan
December 23, 2008 06:29:00 PM REDMOND WA US Arrival Scan
December 23, 2008 02:27:00 PM PORTLAND OR US Departure Scan
December 20, 2008 02:42:00 PM SPARKS NV US Shipment received by carrier
December 20, 2008 12:53:08 PM US Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit

So close, yet so far. It's Christmas Eve, the driving sucks, and UPS workers have families to go home to as well, not spend the night delivering packages to me because I was lax in ordering them in a timely fashion.

It's OK. I did get a batch of those lovely sweet little Clementine oranges at the store today. I will tell the kids they are Atomic Awesome Nickelodeon-Brand oranges, and I will be a Christmas Hero, instead of Failed Mom Waiting For The Delivery Truck That Never Came.

Tiny Tim -- "Santa Claus Has Got The AIDS This Year"


I like getting all behind stuff. I am a real booster of what I think is awesome, whether it is The Kinks, the perfect skinny jeans, THE SUN, or a great cup of coffee. That said, I am going to give this place a plug, because it is THAT DAMN GOOD:

I am a major fan of their Hairbender blend, whether I drink it here at home or down the road at the OOGCP with the Hollywoods and the hipsters. It is the best coffee I have ever had, and I recommend it highly. Order a bag or two today, or stop by their locations in Seattle or Portland. I hear they are opening a couple more in NYC soon.

Time for another cup.


I am stuck in the house because of this friggin' snowstorm, more or less. I mean, I have good experience driving in this crap having been through the dump snows in Denver for years, but I'm not exactly jumping up and down to do it, so if I don't have to, I won't.

Something I Know: there is no win with ICE. All y'all in your trucks and all-wheel-drives and four-wheel-drives seem to forget this with astounding regularity. Your everything is USELESS against the shiny slick evil that is ICE on the road. Make the wrong move, or even the right move, and you are as helpless as a spinning toy top in the hands of a chortling giant red Lucifer. I know this first-hand, and I will tell you why now, because I don't at all feel like wrapping damn Christmas presents.

In Wisconsin, the snow comes early and generally makes itself at home for six months or so, just piling up in great dirty heaps at the side of the roads or in parking lots, pushed by constantly-working snowplow brigades. This was all I knew growing up, that snow was inevitable and you just got on with whatever despite it. There were a few times where it was actually impossible to leave the house because all the doors and windows were snowed shut, but the weirdness of that almost made it worth it.

The winter I was 16 my best friend had just gotten her license a few weeks before and her folks' gave her some giant shitbomb of a car to drive; I can't remember what it was other than it was about 9000 feet long with a burgundy exterior and black vinyl interior. Didn't matter, of course, because teenager + car = freedom/trouble. BEST THING EVAH!

One extremely sunny and cold day, my friend and I decided to leave the high school for lunch, inexplicably going to the ice cream shop, of all places. I would always get the same thing: sugar cone with one scoop of Watermelon and one scoop of Blue Moon, which was some turquoise-colored cheesecake-tasting thing. We finished, I stopped at the Walgreens to get a can of Pepsi Light to top off my nutritious lunch, and actually made an effort to get back to class on time. The car was skidding and sliding a bit as she drove the short distance back to school, and we smiled and giggled at the whirly feeling of it. I drank my soda as it sloshed in the can.

We were almost to the parking lot entrance of the school, and my friend was playing more with the car on the icy snow-packed road, fishtailing and straightening out, over and over as we yelled and whooped like we were on a carnival ride. There was not a single car in sight, everything dead quiet. I told her to put the car into a spin and do some snow donuts before we went back to the dull soul-crushing reality that was high school.


Oh, of course it was a mistake, and it just highlights the stupidity of the teenage brain. Here we were on a very slick road, my friend with barely any driving experience, and I goad her on because it was FUN. It stopped being fun almost immediately when, OF COURSE, my friend found herself at the wheel of a totally out-of-control large vehicle going about 30 MPH sideways towards a huge utility pole. That vision is burned into my brain for all time -- the jumping skidding car, seeing the pole coming up quickly, looking like it was heading straight for my friend's door, and was going to tear through the car, hit us both, and that would be that. Both of us screamed, and then there was this tremendous BOOM, and all the shapes changed for that fraction of a second. My head went BASH into the dashboard, up and back as fast as a slingshot, and I floated up, then back.

The first thing I can remember seeing was my own right hand, still gripping the stupid Pepsi Light can. The next was the rear view mirror laying on the floor of the car after I hit it with some part of me, and the ashtray and its ashy contents spilled everywhere. I was not exactly sure if I was alive. My head was throbbing in pain, which seemed to be a decent indicator of my non-cadaver status, and my face felt wet and hot. I took my left hand and wiped my eyes. Blood blood blood. I started to shake. I turned to my left. My friend was sitting there, just stunned, her door crumpled into her side. The pole had hit the pillar right in front of her door, and the car was wrapped around it like a big metal scarf, huge gashes into the wood.

She looked over at me and started to cry. Blood was pouring out of a gash at the top of my head and it was impossible to tell how bad it was. I thought maybe my brains were all spilling out like the dudes that went under the truck in that monstrous accident film they just showed us in Driver's Ed. I asked her if she was OK, and she said she thought so, and told me to just sit there and she would get help. She somehow scrambled into the backseat of the car and got out the non-crushed door and ran from house to house, banging on the doors screaming for help until someone let her in.

Later, she told me that she was terrified that I was going to die, there was so much blood everywhere, that she was running on pure adrenalin. When we got to the hospital, her pain came through. She had broken her left hip. I think of her running on that, her only thought being to help her friend. Remarkable. Just remarkable.

In the end, we healed, the car was dragged away to the junkyard, the utility pole still standing with the crash marks to remind me every time I passed it. I was left with a little dent in my skull at my hairline, and I did not get my driver's license for another 18 years. My dear friend over the next few years became more and more serious, started drinking too much, and we fell apart for good over a last vitriolic middle-of-the-night phone call. I have no idea what happened to her for the last 20 years.

So. There we are. I can stare at my snow-crushed patio set, watch a couple dudes in knit pointy hats snowboard down my street, get on with my regular work, and drink lots of coffee, and tell you all to be careful on the ice. Even wrapping presents is better than the whole ice thing.

Stay warm.


Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" might be the WORST Christmas song EVER. It makes me want to vomit eggnog and fruitcake out of my EYES. Maybe it was all the weed he was smoking.

I really, really hate it. Thank you.

This song by Eric Idle more accurately describes my feelings of the season. Turn the sound up, if you want to get fired or defile the ears of an impressionable youth.


It seems to be in the deep nature of people to make some kind of pilgrimage at some point in their lives. It could be somewhere they have never been but has deep importance to them, such as a religious trip to Jerusalem for those deity-following-types, or somewhere from your long-ago past, like a birthplace or a battleground. It is part of trying to put things in perspective, to give identity and order, and to answer questions. A trip to a mecca comes with the expectation of some kind of revelation, that some kind of unresolved something will be answered in you by the end of the journey.

But not all pilgrimages are of a serious nature, as I was reminded by today's little piece by Geoff Edgers:

As a fellow Kinks fan, I too visited the London landmarks he mentions in the article. Rock 'n Roll was my religion, and at this point in my life, as I turned 20 there, I was trying to figure out why that was, why music was so important to me. I had spent my whole life listening to the songs of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Hollies, the Who, but no band of the time painted more of a vivid picture of London, and of English life, than the Kinks. Ray Davies was able to exquisitely detail little aural miniatures of a place of gritty familiar pubs, 2-up 2-down semi-detached homes in neat red-bricked rows,nattering middle-aged ladies jittery from constant cups of warm milky tea, dark loud music clubs with skinny runaway girls and debauched young upper-class boys with pockets filled with purple hearts, green quiet hills overlooking the sprawl of a changing London, of an Empire, or the idea of an Empire, and the everyday people that made up the heart of it. I wanted to see for myself what it was, where this came from, to see if it all had the same resonance and charm and depth as I stood there, in the middle of the story itself.

I made my way around London on the tube and red and green buses mainly by myself that April, thrilled to be there at last, thrilled to be in an incredible city, trying to take everything in, to remember the feel of the air and the rain and the particular look to the sky and the light, so utterly different from the farmer's fields and isolation of rural Wisconsin. I walked and rode around and poked and prodded and looked until the city would close, then would get some excellent Indian take-away to bring back to my bed-and-breakfast room before passing out on the tiny neat bed.

Like Geoff, I saw the Archway Tavern, a few assorted Davies homes, Konk Studios, Denmark Street, Waterloo Bridge, and lots of other cool places. I rode in Dave Davies' black Mini Cooper, whipping through London with one of his children on my lap and two more in the back, scared out of my mind that we were going to crash into something on the tiny streets, toured a quiet Konk with its funny winding tiny rooms and fan drawings on the walls, spent part of a morning with a kind Davies sister looking at old family photos from a shoebox, seeing where this family came from, where the songs lived. Everything I had imagined in my mind was there, different but familiar at the same time.

Across from the old family home, #6, I stood one sunny afternoon and an elderly lady said hello to me as she crossed by me on the sidewalk. She smiled and asked if I was American, asked if I was there to see the Davies house. Somewhat surprised, I said yes to both, and after we chatted for awhile she asked if I would like to come in for a cup of tea, as she lived right there a couple of doors down. I thought for a second and said yes, that would be lovely.

She made the tea and served it in her tidy lace-curtained front room, pleased, it seemed, to have the company. She told me stories about "the boys" and how it was as they were growing up there, "always running in the street, in and out of the pub." She said how proud everyone in the neighborhood was of them when they became famous with "You Really Got Me," how good it was that regular people could make it in the world. I took small bites of the little dusty cookies she served with the tea, glanced at the sun streaming in through the curtains throwing lacy patterns on the floor, thinking of what she said and how I came to be there, drinking tea and chatting with a stranger 50 years older than me about a rock band in a foreign country. Crazy, and wonderful.

All these years later, fans still are flocking to Kinks-Land, hopeful for a chance to see sound expand to the vision, although the London of Ray Davies' songs is, for the most part, gone. In distilling the essence of his experience and the others around him, perhaps he made things more than they were, brightening and honing to make two or three minutes of recorded magic. Perhaps in reality that London, that England, was never quite as charming and compelling as it seemed to be to all of us listeners, but that is OK. The real story is that there is a bit of magic everywhere, and sometimes someone comes along with such a good eye for observation and way of telling a moment that it transcends the changes of a building or a road or a ballroom where a sister once joyfully danced. It lives on, as it is, to be enjoyed by generations.

And that was my revelation.

The Kinks -- Waterloo Sunset:


I failed.

I tried, but I failed.

Yesterday, I ordered a pile of crap from Amazon, then today I went to Target and spent $528.73 just in case the pile of crap from Amazon doesn't arrive by Christmas because we are getting a snow EVENT now.

Fail fail fail fail fail.

The alternative non-commercial Christmas I envisioned was lost to a vote-down, procrastination, and weakened willpower. If you buy for one, you are in for all, so that is what it is again. Hooray. Maybe I will cheer up after I finish wrapping and tagging all these things, and don't have to worry about high winds smashing a giant pine tree into my bedroom as I sleep. FANTASTIC.

As we got closer to Target, my mood went screeching downwards, beaten and crabby, anticipating orange-carted showdowns, screeching infants,and hundreds of grim-faced shoppers like myself, throwing toasters and Hannah Montana brand tampons and iPod dock/toilet paper dispensers, and all manner of plastic toys that make ugly electronic sounds into their baskets. Sigh. I am sure I looked as dull-eyed and robotic as everyone else, sizing up each aisle, no smiles, thinking about if I have enough tape at home.

The snow started to fall in earnest, night setting in as I left, roads already slippery. A stop to get extra food at Safeway was nixed after I saw the checkout lines, all open, all extending as far back as I could see with people stocking up for the storm. Bah, I said. We have plenty of uncooked pasta and frozen dog poop to live on for a few days, fuck dat. I got a coffee and slid home.

I hope someday I can like Christmas again. I think I will, but maybe not for awhile.


As much as I bitch at her about it, sometimes I am glad that my mother is a pack rat. She recently sent me a package containing some of my long-lost artifacts, such as my birth certificate with my little newborn footprints smashed upon it, an article from The Denver Post about Paul McCartney with a little Beatle story I had to tell (complete with a large picture of me with the most owl-like glasses, which is just a damn fine look with my very round nose, god), and this, something I composed for Mrs. Durnford's journalism class at age nine.

It is, of course, handwritten in loopy sloppy girl-cursive on wide lined paper, with eraser smudges and -- gasp! -- a spelling mistake. I read it now, and I know exactly what I did here: copped the first paragraph pretty much from the World Book Encyclopedia, and made the second paragraph smarmy and unctuous enough to seem like I was sincere. Not even in the double-digits yet and I am trying to scam a grade, ha ha. Here it is, typed as is, from that December:


Two aspects of Christmas are of the greatest importance to Christians everywhere. They feel reverence for the momentous event that took place nearly 2,000 years ago. Christmas is the happiest and busiest time of year for millions of Christians all over the world. They observe the holiday with religious ceremonies and prayer. Many persons look forward to happy family parties and exchanging gifts. Christians everywhere unite in their feelings of joy on Christ's birthday.

Really, isn't it a lot nicer giving gifts than reciving gifts? Isn't it wonderful when you see the joy on someone's face when you give them a gift on Christmas morn? The words that describe Christmas best are sharing and thankful.

by Marianne

EWWWWW. Shame on me for telling a teacher what I thought they wanted to hear instead of what I really thought, which would've been more like this:


I can't say I care too much about what Christians think is important at Christmastime, because I am 99% SURE there is no God and no Jesus. Nobody knows what happened 2,000 years ago, I don't, you don't, so why make stuff up? I don't get it. But if I say anything like that aloud, I will be SOL on the Christmas gifts and people will think I am terrible and bad and unruly and going to Hell, which I don't believe in either. There's only so much a nine-year-old can deal with, you know.

It is nice giving gifts, don't get me wrong. I like getting things for my family, and I try really hard to get them things they will like. But come on, Christmas is really just all about ME and MY PRESENTS. That is a WHOLE lot nicer. ME. ME ME ME ME ME ME. I put lots more effort into circling items from the Sears Wishbook than anything I do for anyone else. So, I guess I am grateful to Jesus, whoever he was, because I can get some really cool stuff once a year. And, I apologize to everyone for using the word "morn." What kid says "morn??" Oh, and I really, really like Christmas cookies, so thanks Jesus for that because people like to eat yummy stuff in his honor too.

by Marianne

My mother saved that piece because she thought it was so nice. Sigh. I won't tell her any differently at this point. That's WJWD.



MissSix: (insistently knocking on my bedroom door) MOM!
Me: mmmpghhrhnh…WHAT?
Me: (looking at clock, rolling eyes in the dark) WHAT?? You don’t have a leech on your hip.
MissSix: Yes I do! It’s a brown spot and it is a leech!
Me: It’s not a leech! GO BACK TO BED!
MissSix: HUH! (stalks off, slams her door)

I remind myself, in my comatard sleep state, that I am not a London druggist in 1835 and therefore it is extremely unlikely that any leech bloodletting would be going on in my house. I also am grateful that I don’t have nightmares about leeches on me. One more thing to add to the SHIT I AM THANKFUL FOR list that people say you should make every so often to build life perspective. People and their ideas…HUH!

But instead of falling back to sleep, I start thinking about leeches. How on earth did anyone convince ANYONE to actually allow the placement of live leeches inside their mouths and throat???? Good god! I don’t care what malady I had – if I had to choose between a nasty Dickensian gutter-style death with Wackford Squeers kicking me as I lie prone and pestilential, or wiggling repulsive leeches in my mouth, I am going straight for the gutter. No question.

From this I move on to thinking that people will pretty much go along with whatever some “expert” tells them to do, or be, or have, or enjoy, or not enjoy. I roam further into my half-sleep ponderings, and imagine setting up a restaurant that would serve only the most vile things on the planet, yet marketed in such a way that my customers would scramble to book a table years in advance. Oh, the fun one could have with this! The name of the restaurant would be LEECHES, and would have no address and no phone number, like a rave – you could only find it through word-of-mouth and it would constantly change at the last minute. It would have the cool and trendy DYING to get in. Prix Fixe, of course, upwardly changeable if I need a new pair of awesome thigh-high boots:


First Course: Pan Seared Hyena Anus With Pickled Milk
Salad Course: Field Greens, Scottish Organically-Farmed Leeches, Hand-Gathered Springbok Numbles, Durian Fruit, Drizzled With A Diesel Vinaigrette
Soup Course: Truffled Puree Of Mind
Main Course: Caramelized Kitten Au Jus, Pesto Algae Blooms, Poached And Frothed Pancreas
Cheese Course: Transient Fromunda, Aged Hay Crisps, Pear and Goat Testicle Chutney
Dessert Course: Crème Barium Sulfate, Boone’s Farm reduction, Trout Sorbet
Coffee: That Kind That That Little Jungle Animal Eats And Craps Out That Is Super-Expensive, HA HA

Eventually, I drift off back to sleep, no doubt guffawing in my dreams about my wonderful restaurant. When I wake up, it is another Snow Day, this time with actual snow. No leeches in sight. Other than the kids, of course. HA.


Today was the stupidest snow day EVER. All three kids home today, all school districts closed in the whole Seattle metro area. THERE WAS NO SNOW. No ice, no sleet, not even any rain. As a matter of fact, most of the remaining bits of snow melted away. The entire state of Wisconsin would sneer at this lame-ass snow day, and my very DNA is embarrassed.

So today instead of increasing their bases of knowledge, my kids did this:

-- the 17-year-old, SHOCKINGLY I KNOW, spent the entire day on the internet, and did not pretend to do homework. He got up once to ask me for food, I told him to make his own damn food, then told him I got him an excellent sandwich at the deli that was in the fridge and he grunted something like MMPHH;

-- the 10-year-old pretended to do homework for ten minutes then disappeared into Wii-land, surfacing for Campbell's Double Noodle Soup at lunchtime, and also yelled at his sister for stealing the Wii remotes;

-- the 6-year-old laughed when I asked her about her homework then harangued me mercilessly and cheerfully ALL DAY LONG about when-are-we-putting-up-the-christmas-tree and when-can-we-bake-muffins and what-does-it-feel-like-to-wear-glasses and how-does-that-one-part-to-96-Tears-go-again-on-the-piano and I-want-you-to-watch-me-do-15-yoga-poses-because-I-am-competitive-you-know and and and and and, which is her way.

Me? I baked the muffins, and watched the yoga poses, and made the soup, and plunked the piano, and did five loads of laundry and one of dishes, let the dog in and out of the house FIVE MILLION GODDAMN TIMES, and smiled a great big smile all day long when Geoff Edgers gave me the wonderful compliment of this shite site being mentioned on his not-shite-site for The Boston Globe, The Exhibitionist: Thank you, Geoff! It pleases me to no end to think of some crusty Back Bay blue blood possibly clicking on a link that says DIARRHEA ISLAND. HA HA. Actually, I have to admire anyone anywhere who has the nerve to click on it. It is the internet, after all, and there's a pretty decent chance something referencing loose stools would end up being some German scat porn site that you could never UNSEE again. Oh, if there were such a thing as eye bleach.

Another thing I did today was watch several high school talent show versions of OK GO's "Here It Goes Again" video, which was both a Grammy and an MTV award winner, and also probably my favorite rock video of EVER. It is so simple and silly and brilliant, and one of those things that I wish I would've or could've thought of myself. I am utterly charmed by the teens, who do a damn good job of copying the choreography, and even more so by their peers in the audience who cheer them on.

Alright,advance to this video. Really, my day, for a stupid no-snow day, was not so bad. Not so bad at all.


Ray Davies'"Morphine Song" has been twirling around in my head since I heard it played in concert last week. It is from his second solo album, "Working Man's Cafe," released earlier this year. It was written, as Ray tells the story, in the gritty New Orleans hospital where he landed after being shot by a robber in 2004. For those of you who do not know the backstory to this, Ray was living there at the time, had just finished a meal with his girlfriend, and was walking down a quiet street in the French Quarter. Two muggers appeared, demanded the girlfriend's purse, got it, Ray chased after them, and was shot in the leg. I know, I know...everyone knows, GIVE THE SHITBAGS THE PURSE AND LEAVE IT BE, don't argue, and for christ's sake, don't run after people who have guns and have threatened already to shoot you. No one knows this better than Ray, who ended up having a long, complicated recovery, and likely feels the injury still I would assume as he jumps and dances onstage now. You want to slap the guy upside the head for such a foolish error in judgment, yes?

Ah, but I have a great deal of compassion for him, him and his Rayness, that fierce anger bursting out. You never can predict how you are going to react in such a situation, you really can't. You may know all the right things to do, but some other part of your brain and adrenal system takes over and before you know it, you are running down the street. Briefly. My own experience with this sort of thing was when I was still living in my teeny rural craphole of a town in Wisconsin, and I was probably around 18 or 19 years old. My cat Otis had just had kittens (yes, Otis) and I had put them all in a nice cardboard box out in the garage. It was late, around 2AM or so, and I decided to check on them one more time before I went to bed. As I flicked on the lights, I saw A STRANGE MAN standing in the middle of the garage, hoisting a beer can to his lips. Instantly, I was just ENRAGED. WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS GUY DOING IN MY GARAGE??? THE NERVE!!! He whipped his head around to see me and I yelled WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? He dropped the beer and ran out the back door of the garage and down the street towards the Lutheran church, and I took off running after him as fast as I could. In the dark I lost sight of him, stopped and screamed at the very top of my lungs (which is damn loud let me tell you), MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!! My own voice echoed off the bricks of the church. It was just then that I realized I was dressed only in a Harvey Wallbanger t-shirt which barely covered my ass, and NOTHING else. No underwear, no shoes, nothing. Oops. I jogged back home, fairly mortified, and trying to hold my shirt down with my hands, still pissed as hell at that guy for invading my garage.

I told my folks what had happened, and they called the local cop, who was probably also the postman and the gas station attendant and the mayor. He caught the guy a couple of hours later as it was getting close to dawn. The dumbass burglar was passed out in a field drunk next to a big red toolbox. He confessed all: he had been going around into all the neighbors' garages looking for tools to steal and sell, and ended up drinking everyone's garage beer stash.

The cop also said the guy had a loaded pistol shoved down the waist of his pants. Well.

So maybe I dodged a bullet, Ray didn't, and there's really no particular reason why that is. Same kind of reaction, very different outcomes.

I like very much that Ray has said that "Morphine Song" was written there from his bed and left virtually the same as he put it on paper, unchanged, a moment simply captured. I think he likes that too, pleased with what he was able to do and get across in his lyrics even in what was surely one of the most frightening and painful times in his life. I am glad he left it alone, didn't mess with it, didn't pick at it or embellish. As he performs it now, it is a quieter song than on the album,as that version has a jauntier feel, with a musical nod to New Orleans brass and bounce. Now it feels softer, more reflective, more hazy-sweet, like the morphine itself, where the vocals hover over the song, distant yet comforting, the melody at times like a children's song. It is fitting, for surely Ray felt as helpless as a child, trying to understand what had happened to him, disoriented, in pain, needing others to survive.

I had just finished parking my car in front of a Great Cuts in Denver when I got the call on my cell phone that Ray had been shot. My heart sunk to the floor, my mind spun with the horror and disbelief of what I was hearing. My middle son, a kindergartener at the time and a sensitive little soul, sat buckled in his car seat in the back, silent, watching me, eyes wide, worry crossing his face. All I could think was, oh no, oh no, not again, not Ray, please please please no, tell me he is not dead. Please please please tell me he is not dead.

Ray did not die. He could've. He didn't. How damn great is that.

"Morphine Song" reminded me of the way things can change in a flash, for anyone, and that you make a choice to give in to life's bodyslams or make something from them, even from the charity ward of an inner city hospital, four days into a new year, a long way from home.

Listen to my heartbeat
Yeah, all fall down someone help me off of the ground
Listen to my heartbeat
Yeah, all fall down someone help me off of the ground

Nelson and Starr
He's got ten grandkids, she's the third missus
He grooves around intensive care, strutting his stuff
He's got a perfect mullet hanging down his back
And Starr walks in, gives a little wiggle
Makes old Nelson grin
He tucks me in, touches my feet
"Hey buddy, you know~you got a slow heartbeat"

Listen to my heartbeat
Yeah, listen to my heartbeat
And the marching band plays along
Plays the morphine song on the charity ward
Yeah the marching band plays its song

Yeah, all fall down someone help me off of the ground
Yeah, all fall down someone help me off of the ground

And opposite me Debra the alkie coughs so deep
It's the drugs and the drink
It could happen to anyone
Sure makes me think
And the bed beside her is full of cables and leads
Nobody visits, nobody grieves

Listen to my heartbeat
Yeah, listen to my heartbeat

Nelson and Starr
He's got ten grandkids, she's the third missus
Starr takes some blood out of my arm
Rolls me over just like that
Listen to my heartbeat, slow but clean
While Debra the alkie looks so mean
They wheel her out, she starts to cry
"If I don't get better, I'm gonna die
I'll go cold turkey till I'm clean
I'll go to jail but you get the morphine"

Listen to my heartbeat lalalala lalalala
Yeah, listen to my heartbeat lalalala lalalala
And the marching band song
Plays in the morgue at the charity ward
Yeah, the marching band plays its song

Yeah, all fall down someone help me off of the ground
Listen to my heartbeat
Yeah, all fall down someone help me off of the ground

-- Ray Davies, "Morphine Song"


There is always such a flurry of activity after returning Back after being Away. It is not just catching up, putting things back in place, planning what to do, doing what needs to be done, it is processing your trip, tying up the loose ends, decompressing from Aways that always seem to go so fast that they seem to be a dream even after a day. Was I really there? Well, yes I was, and I have the ordered and visually-meaningful pixels to prove it. Ah, time is such a bitch, never enough. It is difficult when I want to be in fifty different places at once. I would’ve made a really good Jet Setter, all Mod and cool, waving and blowing kisses to everyone and no one, carrying a BOAC bag as I traversed Europe, The Coasts, and possibly East Timor.

I got a nice batch of emails from my pals, making sure I got Back alright, and wanting to discuss Stuff and Things, mainly saying how much fun we all had and thank you and all. They have my Back, and that is a nice feeling. Everyone should have at least one person who will go to the mat for you, I think. Like if you ever had real trouble, not just oh waah waah waaah trouble, they would help you out, no questions asked. If you don’t have that in your life, you better ask some big questions to yourself like, DAMN, DO I SUCK? If you do, you should immediately stop sucking and try to be a good friend to another good person or at least start by being a good friend to yourself.

Back here, I get a welcome home card from my daughter, with the delightful phonetic and confused spelling of my trip location: U NORC SIDE. I think I will use that as a rule now. She also drew a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it, which looked much more like the Luxor hotel, and pasted a drinking straw on the paper. I think the straw was the Empire State Building.

My ten year old gave me a big hug, the dog lost her mind with joy, and even the teen gave me a disaffected shoulder pat. After five days, they all looked older and the dog looked fatter.

Back to the laundry, back to the grocery shopping, back to staring down the papers on my desk (I win, and they have to still sit there HA), and back to the horrifying reality that Christmas is ten days away and I haven’t really done jack shit. I know I said I was gearing down, but it feels more like a truck is bearing down on me, with a blaring airhorn going HO! HO! HO! Santa’s driving, and he never takes no for an answer. He should just go Back to the North Pole and leave me to unpacking my dirty clothes and uploading awesome YouTubes. Old bastard.

So, another regular Monday, and I sit here in the dark in my car waiting for my kid to finish martial arts, typing away and enjoying XM radio, which I missed while Away. It’s 20 damn degrees and my fingers are freezing, and my mind wanders to all my dear friends, scattered so far all over the country. Sometimes, you can go Back, and it is good.

3000 2

Today, 3000 the other way.

Right now I am over one of the Dakotas. The thin, sparse white clouds blend perfectly with the total blanket of untouched snow on the ground, making it difficult to tell which is which at times. It is rather dreamlike. There are no trees, no roads, no houses, nothing but white on white as I gaze out the window below me, just the jutting gray edge of the plane wing catching my eye away. It makes me think about how JFK Jr. died, how it was thought that at dusk he could no longer tell what was sky and what was water, nothing to give perspective, the horizon line lost. I wonder if there was any beauty in that, the melding of the air and the ocean, into something otherworldly. Even a millisecond’s pause to take in such a vision, before the fear came and certain death known, maybe not even consciously thought, just seen.

Everything is different up here.

On the ground, though, it is just another Sunday as I travel the length of the country. My cab driver, smart and interesting, talks to me about the economy and the city, and how so so many people he talks to in his taxi have lost their jobs or are worried that they are next in line. I tell him the city seems quite different than when I was here last: cleaner, friendlier, easier. He asks me if I think it seems like there is more money around now, and I answer yes. He agrees, and we both concur that there will be even more changes. All those fortunes made on bad business, money spent, money gone, bye bye high life. He tells me he and his wife, a schoolteacher, have 4-year-old triplets and they would like to buy a house soon. They have saved and squirreled away money here and there, and he thinks they will be able to do it. I imagine what it is like to have triplets in a small city apartment, and I wish him well.

When I get to my gate, I sit on the floor next to a mother and her adult daughter who are very very very very obviously Minnesotan. I know this because they have identical short haircuts, possibly cut at home by Aunt Ruth who has the sharp scissors and gives the exact same cut to all men and women, both are wearing sweatshirts that read I HEART NY, and, AND, I kid you not, every other word they say is YA. OAAAAAA, YAHHHH. YA YA YA. I remember this, the ya-ing, and it’s not like I can’t get going with the YA HEY thing myself when back in the Midwest. But they are ya-ing SO MUCH that I start giggling. When the mom goes YA YA YA YA YA, five times in a row!, I snort and burf into my Starbucks coffee I am drinking and spill some on my jeans. It was great.

There is another fascinating pair of ladies sitting next to me on the plane to Minneapolis: The Captain Obvious Sisters. They are in their early 20s and seemingly, possibly, have never been outside before and maybe never on a plane. I have tried my very best to recall their exchanges as completely as I can here, as we are getting ready to land:

COS1: We are in the air now, but soon we will be on the ground.
COS2: Yes, we are low to the ground. There are trees below us, not very far away.
COS1: I can see trees too. The plane will have to slow down some to land.
COS2: Yes, it won’t be able to stop if it doesn’t slow down and go even lower too.
COS1: It’s good we have seatbelts on the plane.
COS2: They will help us if the flight is bumpy some.
COS1: I was glad to have that tray to put my water on. It is a good thing to drink lots of water when you are flying.
COS2: I should take my pills now, while I still have some water left.

We land, a little fast in the slushy weather mix, and the plane takes a little hop up again after the first touch down. The Sisters loudly gasp and both reach out and hang onto the seat ahead of each of them for dear life. The plane settles again, smoothly, and continues to the jetway, a rather unremarkable descent, really. I look at the Sisters, now prying their fingers off the seats, no doubt appreciated by the people sitting in them.

COS2: Oh! That was a very rough landing!
COS1: It sure was! That was just awful!
COS2: I was worried we would never stop!
COS1: I felt like we could keep sliding!
COS2: Oh my gosh, yes!
COS1: I wonder if we will make our connecting flight.
COS2: Sometimes they will make planes wait. Maybe our plane will wait for us.
COS1: Gosh, I hope so!

I see the tag on one of the Sister’s bags. Orem, Utah. Ahhhhhh.

I hear from my daughter that there is snow in Seattle today. Well, of course there is. It is because I am flying in today, is why. Dammit.

An hour to go to ground, clouds above me once more, the land and the sky separated, perspective seen.


There are all kinds of great reasons to like Ray Davies. This was last night's.

Front a bit to the right, we had Fake Trent Reznor. Really, he looked like he gave "Closer" a call and said THAT MY LOOK and stuck with it all these years: straight long super-black dyed hair parted in the middle. black leather jacket. His face even looked A LOT like Trent. But. The Superman t-shirt which outlined the dude's paunch and his pajama pants sort of spoiled his '90s edgy vibe. He was also clearly drunk, high, or crazy, or all, and definitely a jerk.

Early in the night during one of Ray's jauntier songs, I think it was "Sunny Afternoon" maybe, Ray walked over closer to us all with his acoustic guitar, smiling and playfully interacting with the crowd. Fake Trent for no apparent reason at all during this nice little tune, decides to hold up his middle finger to Ray, keeping it raised until he was sure Ray had seen him. Ray went back to his microphone, and I saw only the teeny tiniest little hint of something on his face. Everyone around Fake Trent was appalled.

Near the end of the show, my favorite, "All Day and All Of The Night" was performed, which always energizes everyone, including Ray. Once again, he came over to the right side, dancing and pounding the stage with his feet like a maniac. Ray spots Fake Trent and leans right over and flips him the biggest bird ever, smiling hugely and mouthing, "Yeah? Yeah? You like this? FUCK YOU!!!" The entire crowd cheered and laughed, and everything was set right again.

See? Don't miss your chance to see Ray, wherever he might be.


Where you don't expect it, there is sometimes nice, and that is really the best isn't it? I am in the place known for Not Nice now, and I must say, I have seen quite a bit of Nice:

-- friendly people in stores
-- friendly people smiling at me on the street
-- friendly people in the subway!

Well, it is quite something.

What a day. My feet are aching but my legs are good. All the women are wearing the same tall fuzzy boots and fake-fur little parkas that I am. I am looking at people as I walk by, at their faces, which I didn't do before, and it is such a different experience. I get a tiny little bit of whoever THEY are as I go by, too fearful to look up before. They look at me too, which always surprises me. Everyone is in such a hurry, and I imagine that they have deeply important things to do. But maybe looking up and into the faces of all those people you pass humanizes your day somehow.

I went up to Koch Records today and there was an old friend of mine, and he very kindly gave me a little stack of CDs. He gave me writing work many years ago just because he thought I could do it. Nice.

But today's nicest person was the Very Tall Skinny Dude In The Jean Jacket at the Ray show. He was right up front. About a third of the way into the show he looked behind him and noticed a group of 4 really short women in their 40s or so behind him. He motioned them all in front of him, and moved a good six feet back so they could see. I looked at him, knowing he probably stood in line a long time to get that front row spot, and I told him he did A Nice Thing There.

I like that even now I am still surprised by things, and quite amazed that Nice is in this big big place, humming and pulsing with the beat of beauties, the lost, reluctant dogs, delivery men with carts piled high with boxes, couriers in yellow waterproof suits, rich women in wigs wearing furs, children in navy private school skirts, impeccable young men in expensive dark wool overcoats, and women in Tall Fuzzy Boots, with a bemused look to their faces.


After driving hours in terrible traffic in driving rain, walking hours in the same driving rain dodging cars and trucks and cabs and people and garbage piles, finally arriving back, taking off soaked shoes and jackets and mittens and hats, collapsing on chairs, spent...each one volunteers to go out again with me, gladly, to the Apple Store when I find I lost a part of my computer cord, so I could write this damn blog.

All for one, one for all, laughing and walking in the rain and the dark together.


Perhaps it's me. Maybe this does not happen to everyone. I have come to think that maybe, perhaps just maybe, I am a magnet for the Completely Drunk Wasted Superfan. At the Ray Davies show tonight, again RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, there were THREE OF THEM. I looked around. I didn't see any other Completely Drunk Wasted Superfans around to the left or the right or behind me or by the bar or in the balcony. They were just sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, AGAIN.

The first one, a man who looked like the dude from Midnight Oil if that dude was high, American, and a giant asshole, first showed his hand when Ray played "Apeman." He was so utterly thrilled to hear this song that he leapt out of his second-row seat, moved into the aisle and did his rather epileptic version of the Elaine Dance. Ray laughed in the middle of a lyric at him. His buddy in a burgundy sweater kept loudly calling out for songs by DAVE Davies. And the other guy, in a grey sweater, also felt compelled to dance, alone in the aisle to Ray, shaking his ass to the rest of us like a sad rabid hippo.

As it was loud and because I could get away with it, I yelled out all kind of things to these men like YOU TOOL SIT DOWN, and EVERYONE HATES YOU and FUCK YOU YOU PIECE OF SHIT. It was good therapy for me and I enjoyed it.

When two of them left to get more alcohol, Ray looked down and asked, "Where did those two guys go?" I made the I DON'T KNOW, MAN gesture and laughed.

I looked at my cup of water. I looked at the first Dude's jacket on his seat. I looked at my cup of water. I looked back at the jacket. Water. Jacket. Water. Jacket.

Yup. I did.

It was a great show, btw. Thanks, Ray.


Today I am traveling.

My bag, a bright red duffle, weighs 48.5 pounds. I will be gone from my closet for approximately five days. Also approximately, you could say that this works out to me needing 10 pounds worth of crap to wear every day, including shampoo, deodorant, and a layer of mineral makeup. No, the makeup isn’t made of IRON BARS, smart ass. I have three pairs of boots, a gallon of Chex Mix, and five pounds of delicious coffee in my bag too. I have outfits, fully accessorized, plus some extra outfits if I so happen to feel differently that day or I spill coffee on myself. I am an Overpacker, and I admit this with no shame. It relaxes me to bring OPTIONS. Oh, damn. I forget a computer cord and a hair dryer. It always bothers me more than it should when I forget things. I remind myself that I am not going to East Timor today, and that the United States has many many opportunities to buy things you might need.

When I arrived this morning at the Seattle airport I was fairly dismayed to note the very extremely bad long line for check-in. This is when the 48.5 lb. bag is a liability; there is no human way to shove that sucker through security. They would cavity-check me in revenge if I tried. The line wound past the counters, down the hall, around the corner, and allll the way down another hall. I had never seen anything like it. As I had only an hour and 15 until my flight, I figured I had deep trouble with this line, would miss the plane, would spend hours trying to get another one, fail, or pay a huge amount of money to get on another airline. I stood actually with my mouth a bit agape, similar to most of the other people in the line, like drugged and corralled cows uncertain of what is happening, but knowing it ain’t too good. Fortunately, my husband, who had no reason to be upset and panicked as he was not traveling, used his brain. He excused himself from the line, and returned with a confident stride a few moments later. He motioned for me to LEAVE THE LINE. ORLY? Hmmmmm. He nodded, and I walked out with the Jolly Red Bag, my fellow passengers looking very curiously at me.

“What?” I said.

“Curbside check-in, “ he said.

“OHHHHHHHHH,” I ohhhhhh’d.

We made our way to the oddly deserted curbside desk, and a pleasant and tall young man in a silly hat took my bag, my fifteen dollars for the privilege of checking a bag these damn days, tagged it, checked me in, gave me my boarding passes, and that was that.

As I now strode confidently and all smiles past The Line That Had Not Moved Even A Bit, I saw the man I had been standing next to in The Line stare at me as if he had large question and exclamation marks over his head, like this: ??!!??!!?? Poor guy. I made my plane with a few minutes to spare.

I watched though my little window as over the hours the sun began to fade and dim, with a wonderful and unusual sunset in Minneapolis. It was as wide as I could possibly view; a long perfectly horizontal line of thick neon red at the bottom, fading up to orange and yellow and white, then into the blue and purple and black of the night sky. Two planets shone like bright little pebbles, the moon in perfect detail in the icy cold and clear sky. I remember that sky in the winter and the feel of the crackling air that hurt to breathe as it hung at 10 degrees or so. Clean and cold and sharp and knife-like, with snow on the ground that sparkles and snaps under your feet. I think how I do not miss that, and that if you live in a place where your normal weather could actually KILL YOU if you hang out in it too long, that you are probably living in a place that people should not BE. It is beautiful, but uncivilized. Bah.

Deplane in Minneapolis, hit the bathroom, then grab a tuna salad sandwich, some chips, a brownie, and a water and shove it down rather quickly and uncomfortably, and get back to the gate just as the plane is re-loading. This leg of the flight is not crowded and I have a whole row to myself. I have a long way to go yet, so I get a coffee as the attendant comes by, and enjoy it with the brownie, which I had saved in my bag.

“Are you enjoying that chocolate?” the flightress asks me.

I look at the brownie, sitting on the tray next to me, then at her. “Yup.”

“Did you make it yourself?” she smiles with big red lips.

I look at the brownie wrapper, sitting RIGHT NEXT to the brownie with a big yellow label that says CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN on it. “Um. No.” I smile gamely.

“Oh! Well! It looks good!” She rolls the cart another few feet up the aisle. This is a typical Midwestern type of interaction. It takes me a moment to roll with it.

The plane lights go off, I pull out my laptop, and begin to type this. Today I am traveling, 3000, one side to the other.


One of the worst things about being in public during the holiday season is being forcefully exposed to horrible holiday music. Today it was at the nail salon. As the nice and pretty young girl scrubbed my feet and rubbed my hands with lotions and painted all my nails a very sparkly bubblegum pink, I sat and silently listened to the hideous selections from WARM RADIO, or whatever it was called. WARM RADIO = could not be more offensively bland. This sort of radio station is supposed to be soothing, but it has the opposite effect on me: I get irritable and uncomfortable the longer I listen to it.

Oh, here's Sheryl Crow singing some Christmas song. It was so very unremarkable that I cannot even recall what song it was. I sat there and thought, well there's Sheryl across a table from her manager and assistant and some record company doofs. One of the doofs says, yeah, we think you should make a Christmas album. Sheryl thinks, yeah, I guess I am at that point in my career. There's no getting out of it. She remembers when she felt all rock and roll, a long long long long time ago. She nods and says, OK. Some piece of the souls of all in the room depart for Hell.

Oh, but the next thing is even worse. Some happy-ass sing-along-with-Mitch version of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" Oh, man. Ouch. I roll my eyes to no one, as the girl is busy hacking away at my cuticles,looking intently down. I think about how much I am not liking the song, and then I remember. Twenty-eight years ago today, John Lennon was killed. The song keeps playing, and I reflect for a moment. He was only 40 years old. At the time, as a teenager, that seemed old to me. Now I think so differently, of course.

His death for many of my generation, younger and older too, was one of those big world-linked tragedies that is hard to explain to anyone who was not alive at the time or too little to remember. How utterly human John Lennon became that night; not a huge celebrity but a man who bled to death from the insult of a gun. All the money and fame in the world could not save him from being broken. All the love from the world could not heal him. He was a man, another man shot him, and he died. What died with him was so much more than his physical body. His family lost him as a father and husband and step-brother and friend, forever without his touch. People who loved his music lost any opportunity to hear what he would do in the future. The worst thing lost was not John Lennon the man, or John Lennon the musician. I am not sure that I have the right words, but it is a similar feeling many had when JFK was killed, or MLK. When someone who brought hope and light and goodness and healing to millions of people is hunted down and killed like an animal, some piece of hope in the heart dies. Nothing is ever really the same. In some way, everything is diminished, always.

I think about the Christmas when "Happy Xmas (War Is Over) came out, listening to it in the dark sitting in my mom's car on the AM radio, waiting for someone to finish an errand. I didn't like the song at the time, I thought it was too simplistic and of course didn't like anything where I could hear Yoko. I didn't understand it. What do you mean? War isn't over just if you want it to be! Nothing is like that! You can't just want things and have them happen. By this time, everyone wanted the Vietnam War to be over, of course they did, it had been dragging on forever and continued to destroy our people and our country. Not to mention Vietnam.

Sitting and listening to this shit version of the song, looking at my nails sparkle in the lights, I hear it more fully, with my adult perspective. It is Christmas, he says, and what have you done? In this time when people are to reflect and think of the goodness that can be given, what have you done to make things better? War is over, if you want it to be badly enough. If you want it, want to find others who want to join with you, and you just keep trying. If you really, really want it, you can change things. I hear it now. It is a simple thought, and behind it a simple truth, the gravity of what it really means to make a commitment to something larger than yourself, for good greater than you will know.

I am older now than John when he died. All these December 8th days passed, and to come. But I am still learning and growing, in part because of what I saw and felt in him. This is part of the piece of hope that lives on.

It is chilly, clear, and dark when I leave the salon. I imagine him that night breathing in the night air as I am, crisp into the lungs, fresh, the feel of Christmas to come.


Tonight I went to another sushi carousel restaurant, where the items go by you one by one on a conveyor belt and you pick the one you want. It is fun, and I wish all restaurants were like this. It is fast, efficient, reasonably priced, and tasty. I don't have to wait more than a few seconds for my food to arrive. This seems more American than Japanese, the idea of instant gratification, but leave it to the Japanese to make it more interesting than the old Dine-O-Mats of the mid-20th century. The few times I went to such a place as a small kid, I was always afraid that when I reached in to get something out of the compartments that a hand would grab me. I can't remember if this was pre- or post-Beatles "Help!" movie. If you've seen it, you know what I am saying. If you haven't go rent it or something, my god.

So the waiter comes by, a semi-waiter really because all he really does is bring the soup and drinks. Our chipper young guy squats down and informs us that tonight is Michael Jackson Night. I look at him and go OH and probably have some look like OH on my face, the OH of the sarcastic OH, GREAT. Michael Jackson Night consists solely of 80s-era Michael Jackson music being played at a fairly high volume. I look away from the chipper young guy, as it is not his fault, and I frown existentially towards a yellow wall with cartoon drawings of scowling sushi chefs on it. As he rises, chipperly, to get our waters and such, my daughter speaks to me, staring at the same wall, in the same way, as she pulls a tiny tail off a piece of shrimp:

MissSix: So...that's a guy singing.
Me: Yep.
MissSix: (long pause) I suppose he could be from Europe.

I smile and drop my salmon back on my plate, still smiling as I manage to put the rice and the fish back together to dip it in the soy sauce tray.



The guy lost his voice and his soul as time wrested him away from his child body, and was reduced to awful, constantly-repeated vocal tics, thin thin thin, weak weak weak, and if not for the work of Quincy Jones, his records would have flopped horribly. Well, maybe not -- there was the whole moonwalk and glove crap too. Emperor's New Clothes.


The sushi is of excellent quality and I focus on it rather than my annoyance at Michael Jackson Night. I see my daughter dance a little in her seat. She looks up at me.

MissSix: I heard this song before.
Me: I bet you did.
MissSix: It's OK. It's not great. It's OK.
Me: Yep.

Please to enjoy the Indian Michael Jackson:


I hurt my leg at the mall tonight and it hurts like a mofo. So all you get is a video of a clumsy person. OW.


driving past me left turn light
redhead red truck
perfect match, old blood color, rusty and deep
her hair long, smooth
perfect beauty
one hand turns, one hand holds a cigarette
perfect disaffection
she pulls the smoke into her mouth and holds it for a moment
squinting into the sun
takes a day away from herself
as the arrow turns red.


If I were wealthy, or even close to it, I would make sure this woman never wanted for another thing in her life. The least to be done.


Sometimes it is tolerable here, especially on a day went it must be close to 60 degrees, the sun is shining brightly all day, and I get to wear a light jacket and sandals. Anytime I am not getting pissed on by Mother Nature or anything else is a GOOD DAY. I went back this afternoon to the Safeway mentioned in my very first post here. I hadn't been there in quite awhile, and as I started rummaging through the pre-made salads, the dulcet tones of the Customer Service Girl came over the PA: "Shoppppppeerrrrrrrrrsssss, we have a twooooooooooooooooooo-for-wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnn saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale right now in our Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat Departmennnnnnnnnnnnt..." I burst out laughing, all BAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHA because I had forgotten her wildly up-and-down child voice for a second and then THERE IT WAS. BAAAAA HAHAHAHA, I went with a big smile. I hope someone thought I thought lettuce was hilarious, or that I was insane. Ha ha, man.

Mid-afternoon on any given weekday at the grocery store assures you lots and lots of Elder Cart Gridlock. I tell you, if I ever, EVER become one of those old people who parks their cart in the middle of the aisle while staring at a small can of green beans for THREE HOURS, KILL ME. Damn. The worst is when everyone is getting backed, can't get through, but everyone is too polite or chicken to say HEY! GRANDMA! HELLO! FIFTEEN PEOPLE ARE STARING AT YOU WAITING TO GET THROUGH! HEY! Again, cart-mounted airhorns would be SWEET SWEET SWEET, but would also cause heart attacks, subsequent lawsuits, and cranky elder complaints, so no go. People, if you want to stare at food for a bit, just move your cart all the way over. Thank yewwwwwww.

I pick up a box of Whole Grain Frosted Flakes and laugh at myself. Sugar on processed whole grain, ha. Oh, whatever. I get the organic Braeburn apples to counter it. Nothing I get can counter the Entenmann's donuts I also pick up, but since I am not eating them, I leave it to the kids to like, run around or something to burn off that crap. I give them those once a week, and they are so pleased. It is so easy to make a kid smile sometimes: here is a donut = grin.

My cart is obscenely full and heavy to push as I go past the little Starbucks kiosk in the store. I sort of absently note the holiday cups are back and the barista is wearing a Santa hat. I think for a second how another year has gone by, and that I guess I mark my time by Starbucks displays, the absence or presence of persistent rain, and how short the kids' pants are getting.

Little else to add to that.