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Can You Tell Me What is Troubling Me?

November 3, 2016

My new doctor is a trip. Her office is in a little old house and looks like a rococo antique shop. The furniture is not medical office at all. Every piece is ornamented and upholstered. I perched on a striped mahogany loveseat topped by a bower of carved roses. The restroom has a marble-topped table with half a dozen delicate vases of purple roses. Yes, real roses.

The good doctor herself came in wearing a black and white hat worthy of the Kentucky Derby. A tidy Chanel suit. Heels, of course, and dark red lipstick.

So not your ordinary medical office.

That may be to my advantage, though, because she was the first doctor to ever test my vitamin levels. Anemic! Who knew that 30 years of vegetarianism could leave you a little light on iron reserves? And low on B12 as well.

I have only been supplementing for 3 days, yet this was the first day in years where I haven’t taken a nap.

So keep wearing the hats and decorating all crazy, doc. You seem to know what you’re doing.

The Story of Tonight

November 2, 2016

I have been walking around the house for 20 minutes laughing and saying “The Cubs won the World Series.”

And I am going to wake up in the morning, and the Cubs will still have won the World Series. What is life?


Leaving Early: A Primer

November 1, 2016


I am the person who leaves early. Before the event is over. Long before other people start thinking about leaving. I get a notion. I get itchy. I get bored. I get tired. I get, as my sister would say “cooked.”

If you need to leave early, here is my expert advice

Do not telegraph your moves. Be stealthy. Take a moment to map the escape route, carefully considering everything you need to do on your way out.

  • Spring suddenly into action, alerting as few people as possible. The longer you dilly-dally, the more “Oh, don’t go!” steam can build up. Speed is key.
  • Explain very little. “I’m sorry, I have to go,” is perfect. No one can come up with a counter-argument and you are left looking like an international person of mystery. Or maybe someone with irritable bowel syndrome. Who knows?
  • Do not argue if someone tries to stop you. Keep moving swiftly and silently toward the exit. If someone asks “Why are you leaving?” just give a sad little shake of your head and say “I’m sorry.”
  • Do NOT be pulled into long goodbyes. If someone says “You must say goodbye to Uncle Kevin,” just say “Oh, please tell him goodbye for me. He’ll understand.”

That’s it. Swift, silent, mysterious. It may seem hard and awkward at first, but believe me, in 5 minutes, they will have forgotten you left, and you’ll be breathing free air. Good luck.

Adventures in Dogwalking, Part 253

October 11, 2016

Abbie and I often have a big disagreement about her going out in the middle of the night. I have to get up to let her out – there is no dog door.

I know what it is like to have a tiny bladder, so if she wants to go out, I consider it carefully.

If she gets to the door and starts wagging madly, she has to stay in. This is because the mad wagging is a sign she is going outside to bark at cats or possums or what-have-you.

Last night I awoke at 4 a.m. She wanted to go out.

I started thinking – I had done errands for most of the evening, and then when I came home, she didn’t go out. But the air smelled strongly of skunk. I didn’t want to let her out to get sprayed.

So damn it. I put on my boots, got the leash, and took her out front.

I paced with her up and down the driveway, her happily inspecting every bush but NOT GOING.

I was chanting “GO GO GO” under my breath.

It was at this point that we popped around the front hedge, only to confront Abbie’s sworn nemeses, two Great Pyrenees dogs and their elderly owner.

Abbie lost her mind and started barking like she was going to kill all of them, which is probably the very reason they were out walking at 4 a.m. – to avoid maniacs like us.

Too bad, lady. The maniacs are out at all hours.

Animal Liberation Now

September 3, 2016

The shaggy guy at the organic booth this morning had an “Animal Liberation Now” shirt on. It didn’t surprise me. He’s the white guy with dreadlocks who holds forth about the wonders of kombucha and Bob Marley.

I always wanted Goldie to sit on my lap. I didn’t care that she was a 60-pound, long-legged greyhound mix. I thought it would be cool to snuggle her that way. But she wasn’t having it. She wouldn’t sit on me or sleep with me. She was a leaner, though, and spent thousands of hours pressing her spine to my legs as she sat next to me.

Abbie Lynn is a 60-pound, stocky-bodied something mix. And she is a lap dog. She is not only a lap dog, she is an insistent, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer lapdog. This morning, she tried to get up while I had a computer on my lap.

“NO NO NO,” I said, pushing on her chest.

She leapt over the arm of the chair anyway. Lap. Dog.

A computer is barely visible over the head of a white dog sitting in my lap.

The view from my lap

It’s funny because mostly she completely ignores me, but when she wants the lap, the lap she will have.

I think I need Animal Liberation, too. Somebody, come liberate me. I’m being oppressed!

Learning to Love the Inside of Me

September 2, 2016

Well, it finally happened. I only delayed it for five years, but I did it.

The dreaded colonoscopy.

DO NOT WORRY. WE WILL NOT DISCUSS POOP IN THIS POST. Do you not know me by now? Yeesh.

A good friend got a colon cancer diagnosis the first time she got a colonoscopy, at age 50. Even then, I put it off another few years.

Here’s the embarrassing part: I just didn’t want to bug someone to give me a ride home. I hate to ask favors like that.

At work, we talk about barriers to health care all the time. It’s pretty ridiculous that my barrier was stubborn independence.

I got the paperwork a couple times. Every time, there it was. YOU MUST HAVE TRANSPORTATION. Every time, I whiffed. I just never scheduled it.

Guess what? This time, I scheduled it and still did not have transportation. Yeah, I have friends. They all have jobs.

I talked to my friends and they said they could have driven themselves home, easily, even after the sedation. I didn’t want to take chances on that because I am the most sensitive person to each and every chemical thing on earth. If anyone were voted Most Likely to Act Like David After the Dentist, it would be me.

I planned to Uber it home, but I also knew they wouldn’t like that plan. So I told CC I was going to tell them she was my ride, and if they called her, for her not to come get me. I told her if it was an emergency, I would call her and then could she please pick me up?

I wrote down what I thought was CC’s work number and told the nurse that yes, indeedy, my friend was picking me up. My friends, I lied.

I also asked the doc not to sedate me much, so I got to watch the whole procedure. Hey, there’s my guts! In some places, people pay to have stuff put up their butts. I figured I might as well enjoy the show while I was there.

I got compliments on my colon prep. That’s a first. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve new highs after age 50.

When I got done, the nurse said “I tried to call your friend, but it says the number has been changed.” I told her I would get an Uber.

“Oh, no, you can’t do that!” she said. “You never know who will pick you up!”

I have Ubered all over the place, and I feel pretty comfortable Ubering in my own town.

I told her, “I will dig up my friend’s cell number.” Then I went in the bathroom and requested an Uber.

I lurked near the back door, checking my phone until the app showed the Uber guy was 1 minute away. I glanced around and made a break for it!

I spotted the Red Jetta just as he pulled up. I jumped in! No colonoscopy center could contain me!

Some people run from bank robberies. Other people run to catch trains in romantic movies. Me? I just run from nurses wielding clipboards. I hope they don’t remember me when I go back in 2026.




Sitting in the shade, getting kind of chilly

August 30, 2016

Instant Messaging with our IT guy, which is how we do it now.

IT Guy: So here’s how you do it [explains first step]

Suebob: [waiting for steps 2-5]: Then?

IT Guy: What do you need? You asked me what do and I told you.

Suebob: [thinking] Aw, hell no. You did NOT just say that. MUST MAINTAIN COMPOSURE. DO NOT HURT IT GUY.

Suebob: [IMing] I need to know what I do after I do the first step. Do I do X, do I do Y [giving examples of actions I might take].

IT Guy: You’ll have to talk to the person who suggested this project. I don’t have an answer.

Suebob: [With all the shade in shadedom] Oh, okay. I didn’t realize you wouldn’t know how to do it.

IT Guy: No problem.

Suebob: [thinking] Of course not. No brain, no problem.

Suebob: [I am the real Suebob Shady]: You tried! I appreciate that!

Mariah knows how to do shade, too.

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.”


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