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Bruce Sinclair Swasey

August 25, 2016

Bruce is still dead, dang it.

I miss him every day.

The most important thing Bruce taught me was about the power of being welcoming.

You can change the world for the better just by acknowledging that people are there. That you see them. That you’re happy they stopped by.

Say hello to your server. Your cashier. Your classmate. The person in the pew.

Ask them how they are. Listen.

It is so simple. And it is so much of what we want.

I miss Bruce so much. We should all live so that people miss us when we are gone.

The Pacific they said never gives up her dead…

August 14, 2016

Fishing pier in Ventura, California looking toward land.

I watched a toddler walking on the pier, looking fascinated down at the green ocean between the rough planks. I remembered being a child and the cracks looked so big. I always thought I might fall through and the thought terrified me. It seemed so possible!

I wanted to warn the people never to make jokes about falling through the cracks with their sweet daughter, so she might be spared the terror I felt. But then I thought that the people would probably be freaked out by a weird lady talking to them about something like this, and I decided not to.

The day was windy and I was wearing a light knit skirt. I was kept busy clinging at my skirt, trying to keep it from flying up around my waist. I was also hunting Pokémon, because our pier, the longest and, in my opinion, finest, fishing pier in California, is a Pokémon hot spot.

There are seven Pokestops on the pier and a gym, and usually several, if not all of the Pokéstops are luring. My apologies to non-Poke-people here.

I went out and captured a glorious number of mon. I got beat twice at the gym, but it is held by my team (Mystic!) so no matter.

On the way back, I dropped my phone. It landed almost flat but then, almost magically, sprang up and, with perfect precision, dove sideways down through the crack in the pier. It didn’t touch either board. It just disappeared silently between them. I looked at the crack and at my empty hand.

I may have sworn at this point. Maybe.

Two teen girls said “OMG! Did you just lose your phone?”

“I KNOW!” I said. “Did you SEE that?”

It seemed so clearly like the phone NEEDED to dive through the crack that I was more stunned than upset.

I have a new phone. It looks like all my contacts didn’t move over, so you may need to call me.

I may not play Pokemon on the pier anymore. And I’m going to wear my big shoes so I don’t slip through the cracks. You never know.


Simone and the Ghosts

August 12, 2016

We celebrate these great Olympic victories. Last night, Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an individual swimming gold, and my Facebook feed went wild.

There’s always that one person, though.

“Why does it have to be the first black this or the first Mexican-American that? Why can’t we all be just Americans?”

First, here’s the homework: read Jeff Wiltse’s “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.”

Now we can talk.

It’s a big deal because Simone Manuel is not standing on the podium alone. She is standing there surrounded by ghosts, those potential winners who were never allowed to compete – or worse yet, to never imagine they could.

Simone, because of when she was born, was able to achieve her Olympic dream. Who knows how many dreams were lost along the way when children were told:

  • You can’t come in here
  • It is illegal for you to use this facility
  • Don’t get above yourself
  • Your kind aren’t good at this
  • This isn’t for you
  • You don’t have the type of body that will enable you to win
  • Go back where you came from

The same person asking “Why the first black…?” will probably now wonder “Why do you keep talking about this stuff? All you are doing is dividing us.”

You know how when someone does something that really pisses you off and then you confront them and they say “Yeah, yeah, what happened, happened and you need to get over it and move on”? Does that make you feel better? No, it makes you even more mad because they’re acting like it is you who have the problem.

What you need is for them to say “I’m sorry, that was awful, I should not have done that and I promise to never let it happen again.”

That’s what we need to do as a country. Not brush past our racist past and present, but take a clear look and acknowledge the past while working for a better future.

So while I’m celebrating  Simone Manuel (and Simone Biles and Michael Phelps and all the other Olympians who have worked so hard to get to the top), I’m listening to the whispers of the ghosts around her, gathering them in my arms and saying, “I’m sorry. It was awful. You deserved better. I will do what I can to make sure it never happens again.”


Chemicals 1; Humans 0

May 7, 2016


I went to the Mom 2.0 conference last week. I didn’t attend the conference itself, just drove down and spent the night nearby so I could see a few friends, most especially Schmutzie, who is well worth driving for.

A bunch of people didn’t recognize me. I know it has been a while, but I recognized THEM. I wondered if it was my haircut or my glasses or the fact that I am fat again. But on the other hand, I wasn’t that surprised.

When I was sitting on the table at my doctor’s office, getting my hormones changed up for the third time (it’s as much of an art as a science, people), I complained to my physician’s assistant, Karen “I don’t feel like myself anymore.”

“That’s what all my menopausal patients tell me,” she said.

It was kind of a relief to hear external validation. No one feels like themselves.

It’s not US. It’s the chemicals.

I am here to admit that I haven’t felt like myself for over a year now and it has pretty much sucked. I haven’t been myself. I feel like a drone circling an empty parking lot, endlessly, my little video camera waiting for something interesting to happen.

The hormones are starting to kick in. I can feel it. There’s still a bunch of parking-lot-circling going on, but I can see something on the horizon. Maybe at BlogHer, I will be recognizable again.



Museum of Confoundment

February 27, 2016

Situated on a sun-blasted section of Venice Boulevard, the Museum of Jurassic Technology looks out of place among the Qwik-Marts and tire stores. A tiny doorknob set high opens a door into a darkened room…which leads to another darkened room, and another, connected by narrow hallways lined with odd objects.

The displays are accompanied by giant explanations with blocks of text in brown print on black backgrounds in very dark rooms (I busted out the flashlight at one point, just so I didn’t trip and hurt myself), much of the “factual” information made up or falsified somehow.

The whole “museum” is some kind of weird post-modernist joke lacking a punchline. My overwhelming feeling was:

It reminded me of a game of Apples to Apples I played with some college kids a few years ago. The usual notion of the game is that the dealer has a word or phrase and everyone else has cards with other random words, phrases or names on them, and the players submit one of the ideas on their cards as the one that goes best with the dealer’s.

This works best when the crowd is witty and loves wordplay. The problem with playing with these students was that they would submit their ideas seemingly at random, and the dealer would pick without reason, just saying something like “That’s the one I liked.”

Everyone else seemed content with this system, which led me to believe I might have been experiencing my first unsurmountable generation gap. I was left on my emotional porch, silently screaming at these annoying kids to get off my lawn.

Ok, I’ll say it. I want things to make sense. I may be an old fuddy-duddy who uses terms like “old fuddy-duddy,” but that’s all right by me. I’ll be over here studying my encyclopedia and looking at the Monet waterlily ponds. The kids can go to the Museum of Jurassic Technology (no the name doesn’t mean anything) without me.

The Currency of Friendship is Time

December 26, 2015


The world measures in money, but the heart measures in time.

I have a friend who has become sort of a punchline with her other friends. “Oh, we really HAVE to get together!” we imitate, rolling our eyes.

She is literally always “busy.” She tells us with great specificity what she wants to do: “Oh, we’re going to get together for a spa day. We’ll drink mimosas and get massages at this great place I know. Oh, you’re going to LOVE it. Let me check my schedule and I will call you!”

She never calls, so she has become a FINO – friend in name only. I like her. I think she’s smart and funny and interesting and pretty. But she has become Lucy to my Charlie Brown, and I am just never going to try to kick the football again. If she shows up on my doorstep, fine, she is invited inside. Until then, I’m not hoping.

If you love someone, if you cherish them, you will make time for them. Love is an action verb, as they say. Being there is showing you care.

Don’t be Lucy to your friends. Hold the ball steady. There is only so many times people will fall for the same thing.


Knock Knock…

December 8, 2015

I went to the doctor today. Nothing remarkable in that. I told CC the other day that my aging body is like driving a crappy old car. A few years back all I had to do was provide fuel and tires, and the occasional tune-up. Now the thing is in the shop all the time, and it is costing me money.

I had to wait almost an hour to see the doc, but I didn’t care. I had my phone and Jenny Lawson’s book, so I had to stifle hysterical laughter over and over, lest they think I needed mood stabilizers.

When she saw me, she looked at my lab results and said “Well, you look good on paper.”

That’s my new slogan.

Afterward, I stopped at the desk to get orders for Xrays (ankle) and a prescription (hormones). There was some confusion and I got the Xray orders, but not the prescription, a fact I realized when I was 10 steps out the door, blinking at the darkness – I had been in there so long the sun had set.

I walked back and the door was locked. They must have locked it right behind me,

Knock, knock, I went softly, knowing they were right on the other side of the door and they could quickly open.


Knock knock, I went louder.




Suddenly, I became utterly and completely focused on the single task of getting them to open the damn door. They could NOT do this to me. They could not make me wait one hour to see the doctor, then refuse to give me my damned prescription 10 seconds after I left.

I tried calling. No answer. Called again. No answer.

BANG BANG BANG BANG on the door in a big scary noise.

And yet…nothing.

It was like I was the field goal kicker at the end of a tied championship game. Every fiber of my being was on task. I was ready to stalk them out into the parking lot.

I suddenly realized the back office door was right there. And there was a buzzer. I stepped over, raised my hand and…the door jerked open.

The office manager, looking sheepish, began blathering about “Being in the back.”

It was a good thing I went back, because they had electronically transmitted my Rx to a pharmacy that I hadn’t used in years, so I might never have found it.

But let this be a warning. Do not mess with a woman who wants her hormone medications.


Winter Warps My Brain

December 1, 2015

Part of me is delighted that December is here. Just 3 weeks until the solstice, until the days start getting longer.

Then I think “In 6 weeks, the days will only be as long as today? Oh my god, help me.”

I read recently that Norwegians look forward to winter. Maybe if I had the northern lights and liked skiing?

Nah, it would still be horrible.

And I’m still having hot flashes. I get a tantalizing month off, then they return with a vengeance.

I’m about ready to carve a thermometer shape into my forehead and take on a permanent blank gaze, a la Charlie Manson.

Is it 8 pm yet? Good! Time for bed!

Joke is On Me

November 30, 2015

After limping my way through NaBloPoMo, I find that I did not publish one day, due to a technical error. On the 26th, I thought I published a draft of an old post, but it is gone with the Schwinn – now neither on my blog nor in my drafts folder.

So it’s NaBloAlmostPoMo for me.

And you get a new header. You’re welcome.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

November 29, 2015

Today was Pajama Sunday at church. It was a fun, silly idea for the Sunday after Thanksgiving – elastic waistbands and too much food going hand-in-hand, you see.

The only problem was that Pajama Sunday was not well-publicized, though about 10 of us got the memo.

Friends, do you know how awkward it is to greet your neighbor when it is the neighbor’s first day at your church and you are wearing a red flannel nightgown imprinted with fat white snowmen?


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