Disagree is not the same as disapprove


So today I was mulling something over that was kind of bugging me.  I’d even had a dream about it the other night.  I’d chased someone around in the dream angrily demanding answers.

There I was, driving along perseverating on this thing that was bugging me and then this number popped into my head:  FORTY-EIGHT.

I am FORTY-EIGHT years old.

Aren’t I a little too old, AT FORTY-EIGHT, to let something bug me like this?  Because this thing is not something with an easy answer and angrily demanding one won’t get me anywhere, in dreams or in reality.

Chances are good that I’m misinterpreting part of the situation.  Chances are also good  that even if I’m not, nothing will really change the outcome.  It is what it is, and I’m not going to change it by confronting anybody.

It turns out that you’re never going to be anybody but who you are, and if somebody doesn’t like who you are they can just move along.  Sometimes you just have to make peace with that and get on with your life.  I’m not saying it won’t still hurt.  I’m just saying that it’s not worth my time anymore.

So here’s an open message to anybody who reads it: If I’m not good enough, or my family isn’t good enough, or my house isn’t good enough, or the way I live my life isn’t good enough, or virtually anything that is about me isn’t good enough for YOU, that is of no concern to ME at all.  I’m not living my life for you and you don’t get a say in how I live or whether I’m happy.

If you’re wondering if this is about you, just ask yourself: do you disapprove of me in any major way?  If so, do you also love me despite whatever it is that you disapprove of?  Do you express your disapproval to me in some way, whether out loud or silently?  (Note: disagree is not the same as disapprove)  Do you make decisions about spending time with me based on your love, or is it more based on your disapproval?

If the disapproval outweighs the love, then yes, maybe this is about you.

I spend a lot of time in my work with people who are so broken and sick that they have no one.  If you have a choice, your choice should be to love everybody who can stand you, because you don’t know when that might get taken away from you.  If I love you, I love you despite anything about you that I may not agree with. That is my superpower.

If your disapproval outweighs your love, move it along.  There is no room for you here.



So tonight The Lovely Rhonda and I attended a stage production beloved the world over which, for reasons of wishing to avoid unnecessary stern correspondence from copyright infringement attorneys, I’ll refer to here as “Liverpants.”

Once, long ago when we were young and I was far more foolish than I am now, I confessed (possibly in a drunken whisper, although I can neither explain, confirm, or deny this) that should a polished stage production featuring sprightly Caucasians jigging around in short costumes to vaguely Celtic music ever come to town, I could possibly be interested in attending.  Thus technically only one of us was really attending voluntarily, although TLR pointed out that she does these things for me because she loves me and wants to be happy.

Should the opportunity present itself again, however, she will be staying home on account of that one time in the first half of the show where she rested her head on my shoulder briefly and whispered, “I am dying inside.”

Featuring as it did a great deal of ominous narration about the sun and the moon and the various things the sun and the moon meant to the hapless primitive villagers of the unnamed lands alluded to therein, I was prepared for a lot of woo-woo New Age crap, and to be sure there was a bit of it, but pretty soon we were all settling in for what we all came for: white people tap dancing in the most repressed way possible, i.e. without moving anything above and including the pelvis.  This was punctuated by musical numbers occasionally featuring, unfortunately, a soprano saxophone which thanks to a certain curly haired guy popular in the mid-1980’s is pretty much the kiss of easy listening death to the American audience.  Nonetheless we all soldiered on.

It went as one might expect, with nicely syncopated lines of fit young dancers tippity-tapping their way across the stage so effortlessly that I wanted to take off one of my orthopedic shoes and lob it at them in old-lady irritation.  At one point they brought out a couple of black guys and had a somewhat comedic dance-off between them and a trio of Irish guys.

I could picture the auditions: “Can ye merely throw your ankle above your head without bending anything, and does this velvet bodice fit ye?”

I did get scolded briefly by a Nice but Firm Usher Lady who informed me that Photography Is Strictly Forbidden despite the fact that I have taken probably a hundred photos in this very auditorium.  The offending photo, displayed here for your viewing pleasure, was of a friend who happened to be seated directly below us in the box seats.  Chantelle at the show

It was a good show despite the soprano sax and the mean lady who scolded me, and TLR dying inside, and the only other things I have to say are that I saw a guy in the lobby wearing flip-flops even though it’s in the 30’s tonight, plus also we park near the stage entrance so we often mill through the performers as they leave the building so we saw a lot of the dancers and dear God are they thin.  I supposed if you’re going to regularly throw your leg over your own shoulder you’d better be.  We wanted to make conversation: “Is it true you can lick the back of your own knee?  Asking for a friend.”

Fractal owl wars


So my boss and I have an amusing pastime which is to torment one another over owls.

I like owls.  I have kind of a thing for owls.  It’s a thing.  Don’t judge me.

A while ago we bought a little print of an owl at a street fair and I took it to work to hang on my office wall.  My boss was not a fan.  “It looks mean!” she said.  I had it sitting on my desk and she’d stand there talking to me and my office mate and then oh so casually she’d reach over and turn it around so its back was to us.

Eventually I put it up on the wall, over where she couldn’t easily reach it, but before I did I made a single color copy and a black and white copy.  I used the primitive Office version of Paint to cut, paste and resize the b&w owl image to many sizes, printed a few sheets of this, and cut all the little pictures out.  She happened to be out of the office on a Friday so I taped them up all over her office, onto her framed pictures, behind things, under the phone receiver, you name it. I dragged my office mate in as witness because I was nervous about anyone thinking I’d prowled around in her office inappropriately (aside of course from bombing it with owl pictures).

On Monday I was sick and laid around at home fretting: What if she didn’t think it was funny?  Oh God, what have I done?!

Finally I received a text: Oh, you’re diabolical.

Then another: But you have met your match.  Watch out!  I’ll get you back when you least expect it. 

A few weeks later she tried to get me back by having various staff pretend to call in sick, but I didn’t get as excited about it as I probably should have so she dropped it.

Months passed.  Finally I was out shopping for the program one glorious, sunny Friday afternoon.  I was at Walgreens buying vitamins or something.  My boss was in California at a corporate meeting, after which she would be going on vacation to the East Coast for two weeks.  I’d be in charge while she’s gone, and I was nervous about this.

I get a text from her:  Did you see my email?  Why is DBHR calling?  Are they there yet?

Uh, DBHR is the state.

Then: I’m trying to get an earlier flight back. This meeting is boring anyway. 

What?!  I reply that I’m shopping but I think I’ll just pop back to the program and make sure everything is okay.

No, she texts back.  Not an emergency!  Finish your shopping. 

A minute later: Wonder who could be complaining to them about us?

I wonder if it’s a patient we’d had recently who is known to file grievances; he’d been upset that we wouldn’t allow him to use electronics like his cell phone or tablet.  He enjoyed threatening to sue us.

Nah, she says.  The state wouldn’t care about that.  They only care about abuse, neglect, death.

Abuse?!  Neglect?!  DEATH?!!  Now I am freely panicking.  Sweat is starting to bead up on my forehead.  I feel faint.

….Yeah, they would care about abuse.  Like maybe abuse of a DON who richly deserved it, maybe for covering someone’s office in owls or something. 

Oh internets.  You know when you ride a really scary roller coaster, and you’re not so sure you should be doing this, and you’re pretty sure you’re going to die?  And you don’t die, and afterward you’re so giddy with relief that you can’t stop laughing and smiling?  You’re like, hysterical with relief?  You know that feeling?  Yeah.  That was the feeling.  I laughed for about thirty full minutes.  I walked through the store laughing and smiling uncontrollably with relief such that total strangers laughed along with me.  I probably looked like a candidate for my workplace.

Oh, you got me good, I texted to her.  You got me real good.  But you’d better start sleeping with one eye open.

Recently we had a “getting to know you” activity posted in the hallway at work.  Each of us listed three interesting facts about ourselves.  My boss’s last fact: Not fond of owls.

I promptly printed up a little something and pasted it over that line: I love owls with every fiber of my being.

Shortly thereafter I found pictures of owls with the red circle/slash symbol over them pasted to things in my office.  There was one in my fridge.

Today she sent me a link to a site about fractal art.  It was a picture of a hawk or some other type of raptor, which she had mistaken for an owl.  I googled “fractal art owl” and sent her that link.  She replied:  Ugly!!!

I emailed her:  Oh, did I show you my new wallpaper?

desktop owl

It’s Fun to Wear a Patch


So last year The Lovely Rhonda and I attempted to join an iconic women’s motorcycle club.  We learned of a local chapter and we were excited.

Oh.  The disappointment.  It was awful.

In the middle of this attempt a group of the club’s members split off and we found ourselves swept up in the drama.  It was like a soap opera, complete with arch-villains and intrigue and stuff like that.  I’d say more but these are litigious folk.  So we’ll just leave it at that.

In the end, we opted not to join and instead became friends with the women who had split off.  We have found them to be loyal, compassionate, strong women whom we are proud to call friends.

A while back we decided to form a rider’s group.  This is not a club — a club has to have rules and dues and all kinds of things.  We are just a group of friends who thought it would be fun to wear a patch.

Recently the patches arrived, and most of us went out to a leather shop to have them sewn on vests.  (Sadly, we just put a new roof on the rental house and it was not cheap, so we will be getting vests at a later date.  And TLR had to stay home and write a paper.  But I went along.)



Biker names

Biker names



Some of the so-called ladies

Some of the so-called ladies

Bad Idea


So I and The Lovely Rhonda found ourselves in San Diego for a long weekend a couple of weeks ago, and decided to jaunt up to an amusement park north of Los Angeles. We’ll call it “No Flags Non-Magical Molehill.”

Owing to my sad, poorly-designed feets, I rented a scooter.  I have a disabled parking pass, it’s cool.  This is how it is for me now.

We attempted to board a ride, but were turned away for lack of an “equal access pass.”  This is a photocopied pamphlet full of rules and information.  They mark it with the frequency one may access the attractions, which evidently varies from day to day.  On this day it was marked as “45 minutes.”  The attendant is to then mark the ride and time each time you access an attraction.  The wait times for many rides was 30 minutes or less — resulting in fewer rides for a disabled person than non-disabled.

We then attempted to board another ride.  We went up the exit lane, as instructed on tiny lettering on the standard-disclaimer sign on the ride’s entrance, only to find a dusty elevator bearing a sign instructing us to notify an attendant to use the elevator.  But, there was no way to do so, no bell or anything.  We backtracked to the photo counter where they try to sell you the pictures they take of you screaming your way down the big money shot hill, if that is you are so fortunate as to find yourself actually riding the attraction.  The girl there did not know how to summon an attendant.

At this point I was angry and wanted to leave, frustrated by attempting to access the attractions — arguably the whole point of a theme park — for an hour with no success.  We filed a complaint with guest services, who by the way are most assuredly unable to issue refunds or in any way try to make things right other than to say things like, “I can get you on any four attractions that you want right now, ma’am.”  I said no, I don’t want to have to beg you people to ride the damn rides.

We did ride one ride before giving it up.  Once again we made our way up the very narrow exit lane where we found an actual, functioning elevator that did not require an attendant to use.  At the top, I found a couple of women with baby strollers occupying the very tiny landing.  I had to ask them to please move so that I could get through.  Then we had to wait for the ride to get out and all the passengers to squeeze past us.  There was no shade or shelter here, unlike the areas for the able-bodied.  We rode the ride, and on exiting found the same ladies waiting.  The attendant was chatting with people sitting in the front of the ride, who were not being required to exit, so I surmised that he knew them and was allowing them to ride repeatedly, and these women were part of their party.  He did not pay any attention or ask the ladies to move.

We left at this point.  Why bother?

I was told that “someone” from the park would contact me regarding my complaint, but no one has and it’s been more than a week.  Today I contacted them via their website and just to be thorough, registered a complaint through ada.gov.

Tickets: $100

Scooter rental: $40

Parking: $20

Filing complaints with the feds: PRICELESS.

Priscilla, Queen of Everything


A long time ago I lived in a really crappy neighborhood.  And this cat showed up and looked so pitiful that I had to feed her, she was so raggedy and sad.

I told my friend Mark about her and he decided to take her in.  Somehow he remembers the date:  July 25, 1997.

That cat.  Mark took her to the vet and she got the Cadillac treatment.  She needed some expensive dental work among other things, and Mark commented that she was gold-plated now.  So she remained in my head:  Priscilla, the Gold-Plated Cat.

A few months of good grub and her coat came in.  Gone was the raggedy little thing.  She had the most glorious, soft, luxurious coat.

Today Mark had to say goodbye to her.  Her little body finally wore out.  He gave her the calm, gracious exit that we all deserve.  Here is his farewell to her:

On July 25, 1997, a friend of mine, Debra Robertson, rescued a starving stray kitty and offered me the chance to become a cat dad. At the time, I think Deb and I had watched the very slightly offbeat movie, “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. The poor recovering stray kitty didn’t have any voice left due to outdoor misadventure. She had this really gravelly voice, like one would expect from a drag queen who had spent their entire life in a smoky bar. She even had big hair. Thus I dubbed stray kitty as Priscilla. Made sense at the time… You had to be there.

For the first two weeks she spent the entire time under the sofa in the living room. I had to sit down next to the sofa every night after work to talk to her and set out tempting treats. Eventually she acclimated and laid claim to the house. She and I have had many adventures in moving and home projects over the years. She had developed into a very social cat that worked the room when guests came over. Quite the Deva.

She helped to keep me grounded during some very difficult times. Cats (and dogs) are very much in the moment. There is very little worry about abstract concepts like grief, aging, or fear of job loss. They persevere because that is what life tells them to do and they take joy in the moment.

She had a few close calls and emergency visits to the vet, but overall she maintained very good health in her advanced years. Not being able to climb the fence anymore, she was content to patrol the backyard. I had landscaped many trees and bushes back there for stealthy rodent ambushing. The pond became her favorite water supply and source of entertainment.

Over the last few months Priscilla had been steadily declining. I knew things were changing and time was catching up. This week she took a further turn and stopped eating. Last night she let me know that it was time. I spent the whole night going back and forth on what to do. I didn’t want to be premature if she was still enjoying life. But I also wanted to do right by her and not make her go through further discomfort. Her systems were shutting down and she couldn’t get comfortable.

Today we had our last morning ritual together. Something we’ve been doing for years. We made our way to the pond, sat for coffee in the garden, then had treats on the patio (her favorite chicken & gravy baby food).

The very kind vet lady came over at 8am and explained the process. We went upstairs to Priscilla, rather than move her about. Priscilla passed away on the bed, on her favorite fake fur blanket, receiving scritches and pets. There was no fear, pain, or unfamiliar surroundings. It was very peaceful.

The vet wrapped her in a special blanket and took her to the crematorium. I plan to have a memorial marker made and will place it in one of her favorite spots in the garden. I miss her even now.

When I get home from work tonight I will begin the process of cleaning up/packing/throwing out all the things I’ve grown accustomed to supporting; food dish, water bowl, litter box, toys, and favorite blankets. It already feels strange. It’s going to be a rough week.”

Rest in peace, beautiful, merciless Priscilla.  Until we meet again.

3 Legs on the Fourth. And a Torso.


So about 12-ish years ago I was hanging around on one of the campuses of the local community college, for reasons I can’t even recall.  Probably I was enrolling in a class?  And this musical group was playing a free noontime concert, and it was so compelling that I sat down and listened to it.  And that was 3 Leg Torso, and it was magical and stuff.

Years later I found a website and downloaded a few songs that were up for free.  And have lovingly loaded them onto each computer and mp3 player and phone that I have ever used.

Last fall they played with Storm Large and it was so fantastic I was practically schvitzing.  It was the first time I’d ever actually seen them since that noontime concert all those years ago.  They did not disappoint.

I got a new job last fall and it has been stressful.  Christmas was all set to whiz past in a blur, and I had a hard time getting into it because I was so busy and stressed.  I had one. single. day. off.

Then The Lovely Rhonda found this:  3 Leg Torso xmasAnd we went to see it and Christmas came bizarrely alive.

This year we found ourselves at loose ends for the 4th of July.  Usually we are at family camp at Camp Adams for the 4th, but this year we were home owing to the fact that the 4th fell on Saturday, the day camp was over.  We pawned the children off on their other households under the guise of “since we’ve hogged it these past five years you can have a turn, you’re welcome” and savored the idea of a leisurely day of holiday barbecues or similar.

But then.

A few days before we left for camp, TLR found an event: 3 Leg Torso, playing on the rooftop of what used to be a high school but has been transformed into a swanky multi use type of thing with a music venue inside. Fully catered, bar available, view of the fireworks.  And, a wedding was taking place.  A same-sex wedding, which is relevant to our interests as well.

We took a friend, Marie, and her exchange student from Osaka, and we braved the heat.

Did I mention how expensive the tickets were?  They were expensive.  Like, crazy expensive.

We arrive, feeling very much not cool enough for this event in both ways:  it was hot, and we are not the cool kids.

And we head up front to get seats and Marie sidles up to one of the guys and OMG.  Marie knows this guy.  And we start talking to them and they sit down and eat with us and it’s all fangirl up in here.

And because the event was kind of last-minute, and the tickets were so spendy, there weren’t that many people there to see the show.  it was like attending a private show.  It was seriously so much fun, you guys.  It was surreal.

3 Leg Torso rooftopSeven years ago TLR and I shacked up together on the 4th of July.

Best anniversary ever.