45 minutes

I have a self-imposed deadline. 45 minutes. Formerly enough time to write a shorty place holder…BUT almost all the lettering is worn off my keyboard and I have to constantly backspace and correct. Yes, despite typing upwards of 9 million words just from blogging alone I have never learned to touch type.

I am not proud of this.

Well why not buy a new keyboard or at least put stickers on the keys saying which letter they are? Because I am cheap and I am stubborn. I also have self-esteem issues about not being a touch typist, it’s just something I should be able to do by now. Part of the competent person package along with stuff like making decent risotto or hemming trousers, there’s a skill set that I believe I should have by now. So my nearly naked keyboard is part punishment and part teaching tool. I figure if I use this damn thing long enough my fingers will know their shit no matter how much my stuttering brain interferes.

My son returned to Red Bank, NJ this morning for a Kevin Smith thing at the comic shop. He got to see the man but didn’t get the hoped for autographs. Communication breakdown about advance tickets or somesuch. Now Seb is on his way to Port Jervis. Garden spot (heh) which is the NY part of the triangle where NJ, PA, and NY come together. It’s possible to make a 4 mile loop and buy cheap cigarettes and fireworks in PA, swing into NJ for a full-service yet cheapest gas, and scoot back into NY where’s there’s NOTHING in Port Jervis except a depressed housing market, a shuttered KFC, and lead in the water, but once inside the border you get to put on your snotty superior “I’m a New Yorker” attitude anyway.

My son’s foray into the View Askew universe continues with Brian O’Halloran (Dante from Clerks 1 & 2) doing some kind of reading/show this afternoon in PJ of all places.

On Wednesday Sebastian asked my advice about attending these events. He was dithering because last weekend we’d gone to ‘Chiller’ and here was more money going out on frivolity. I told him to GO. “Look. Kid, I spent my whole life talking myself out of things because I was being ‘responsible’ and all I’ve got are a few sparkly memories in a big empty basket of regrets. I guarantee that I’d be right where I am today even if I’d gone to a few concerts and saw a couple plays. Don’t do like me, okay?

He nodded and gave me a hug.

 

And I am out of time. Love you lots! ~LA

 

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Stopping on the stream of consciousness for tacos.

Status. That’s kind of a loaded word. As most of you know, I don’t pay much attention to ‘things’ and I don’t measure myself against what others do or how they live. And I certainly don’t bother wondering what others think of me. I buy fully into the notion that what other people think about me is none of my damn business. Gosh what a waste of time that would be trying to suss out whether people think I’m weird or cool or biggity or whatever. And an even bigger waste of time trying to bend myself around into something ‘they’ approve of. I can tell you this: ‘they’ are NEVER going to approve of you. Not ever.

After 35 years of living with autistic people and their *coff* charming *coff* ability to home in on the one thing you desperately do NOT want anyone to notice or talk about and they expound on that very thing at the top of their lungs, “WOW! You have a really big zit on your chin! It’s HUGE! People get zits when they eat junk food and don’t wash their faces! I saw you eating Cheetos last week! Is that why you have that HUGE ZIT?”, well, you get hardened to outside criticism.

So I do my own thing. Took decades to do but I am wholly myself these days. And what I am is a scheming manipulative bitch. But I’m really fucking charming about it.

Just yesterday a co-worker asked me, “How do you DO that?” Uh, what exactly? “You had Mrs X (customer- known crank ass and picky pants bruja) laughing! She was nice! She’s never nice! She made Dan cry once and he was a Marine!”

I smiled.

grinch 2

“Honestly? I don’t have time for her bullshit so I made her behave.”

Truth. I didn’t need Mrs X stinking up my day so I got the drop on her. Before she can start I cut her off with a combo of flattery, genuine concern, and silliness. Since I’m not monitoring myself and double/triple/GAH! overthinking what I say I can see her. Mrs X. She got ALL of my attention.

And that, my darlings, is a rare, rare thing nowadays. In a world where distractions are growing exponentially offering a welcoming smile and honest acknowledgement of someone’s presence is a subversive act.

The prevailing mindset of our corporate overlords is to keep us struggling like potential drowning victims. All of us flailing around frightened and exhausted and financially one car repair away from going under. If somehow we have any energy left they heartlessly turn us on each other with cynically crafted ‘wedge’ issues like gay wedding cakes and Starbucks cups. The more ridiculous, the better. Otherwise we get up to all kinds of hijinks like Black Lives Matter, and MeToo, and a plethora of environmental causes. From there we might figure out we’re not so different from each other as we are held down by the 20 or so people who own all the money and thus the power. And when that happens out come the guillotines.

Something else about myself I’ve discovered since going back to work is that I am a gregarious loner. I like people. A lot. I like hearing their stories. People always bring me something new and I love that. Makes my world bigger, the boundaries of my imagination stretch. Makes my community larger too. Fun fact: One of my customers is the granddaughter of the guy who standardized loom loops. You know, the things you made potholders out of at camp. The potholders were too small and if they hadn’t already died an unraveling death early on they lurked around the kitchen all scorched and sullen for years. Anyway, that’s her grandpa who helped revolutionize the kid-made potholder industry and I think that’s all kinds of cool.

‘Loner’ was not used by accident, I also need copious amounts of alone time. Which is a story for another time, back to Mrs X. Each customer gets eye contact and a smile. A pause in my work to say hello. And the sneaky bit, if I need to short-circuit a crank I ask a question that forces a positive answer or a laugh. Yesterday the weather was stupid – a new thing every 15 minutes. When Mrs X came in it had just stopped snowing and had begun raining. She blew in the door in a gust of wet wearing her usual ferocious frown. I threw up my hands, “Holy cats! You’re a warrior to come through that! Wow! So, did you come by dog sled or did you bring an ark?” Laughs all around and I’ve acknowledged Mrs X’s trip through the crap weather. I’ve also subtly implied that she’s both brave and a good sport. LA – 1, Mrs X – 0. She’d look foolish if she complained now.

This doesn’t always work, but it works often enough that the produce boys say I’m a little scary, sort of a jedi grandma. “These are not the potatoes you’re looking for…” and the crew in my department have occasionally asked me to handle a difficult customer for them.

Life is hard. The overlords will not be content to hoard money and buy outlandish things for much longer, pretty soon they’re gonna want to spend people. Whether it’s another civil one here in the States or it’s WWIII, war is coming. There are just so many yachts, sports teams, and governments you can buy, you know? War just works in all kinds of ways. Provides sport and thrills for the jaded billionaires, weeds out troublemakers amongst the throng of peasants, gives license to do even more unconstitutional stuff – suspend habeas corpus (yay! gulags!), universal stop and frisk, etc, etc. Plus the orgasmic profit of building things, building things that destroy the things, destroying the things and being paid for everything.

Even if you don’t think war is inevitable you can see and feel how stressed out everybody is these days. Stressed out people are unpleasant. I have zero patience with unpleasantness. I have plenty shit of my own, I don’t want any of yours. Is my finessing the grumps into better behavior a little on the shady side? Yeah. A bit. Mostly I feel it’s a win all around. Mrs X feels good, I feel good, the store makes money. Just because I wear a name tag and am paid to fetch things does NOT mean I have to be still and let the public scolds and offended jerks unload their mess all over me. Yes, you may return your wilty lettuce. Yes, for refund or replacement. No, you may not be a venom-toothed blowhard about it. Imma kill you with kindness, so lay down your arms, Crankenpuss, you will not win.

Time for tacos!

c-abuela

 

Much love from your ‘nice but no time for nonsense’ pal, ~LA

 

 

 

Albums I have known (and loved).

One of my most musically savvy friends, Dawn, (Hello, she’s got writing credit on her brother’s first album as well as authoring some of the finest music-as-memory blog posts evah.) she threw out a challenge to list 10 favorite albums and why. I don’t know if I have ten. Maybe. We’ll see. But first have a listen to this…

 

This is her brother’s work and it’s all kinds of fine.

 

I’m going to skip ‘Yellow Brick Road’ if only because I can think of three posts devoted to it and the surrounding memories I’ve put up here and back in D-Land already. There’s more music in my life than Sir Elton’s most best-est vinyl, honest!

american graff

A long time ago in a galaxy far away…long before Ron Howard went bald and Cindy Williams ‘schlemiel schlimazel-ed’ into TV history, and he had the oddest neck beard ever George Lucas made a movie. It was about growing up, and cars, and small towns and whether you ever actually leave them even if you physically go away. This movie had a soundtrack, a wonderful soundtrack! The rights were bought for a song (heh) because nobody was doing oldies yet and all that early rock-n-roll was just out there in the public domain. Years later George Lucas admitted he’d chosen the soundtrack less for its atmosphere than for its cheapness. No matter. I love ‘American Graffiti’ and think its soundtrack is glorious.

 

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Y’all know about my most excellent high school boyfriend, Richard. Richard had a Mustang. The Mustang had an 8-track player. (I shit you not.) And the 8-track player had exactly two tapes- Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’ and The Moody Blues’ ‘Days of Future Passed’. (I further shit you not. TWO!) Of course we listened to the radio a lot. And he got a booster so we could pull in stations from the city on that mysterious new FM thing, but when nothing else was shaking we listened to those two 8-tracks. For years. To this day when I hear ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ I time travel. The year is 1978. It’s an absolutely gorgeous October day- the sky a deep rich cerulean blue and the surrounding mountain sides BLAZING with color. Rich and I are rocketing down Rt 32 debating whether to attend the high school football game or head up Rt 6 into Harriman State Park (our favorite stomping grounds) and do some climbing on Perkin’s Peak. The park won and we were rewarded with a pair of bagpipers practicing on a rock outcrop about 2/3’s the way up. The pipes sounded much as they must have back in the highlands of Scotland. Every note echoed and mellowed and came back and bounced away again. Glorious.

 

Camper_Van_Beethoven_Key_Lime_Pie

The Book Store Years. This album is THE musical score of my bookstore adventures. The store’s boombox sat on a sewing machine cabinet just inside the front door. It shared space with the coffee maker. I had a decent amount of cassettes, both mix tapes and purchased ones, but somehow that one in its bright green goofiness sums up my bookstore and the time spent there. Everything about my store was hopeful and cheerfully ignorant of must-haves and should-dos.

 

DrDemento20thAnniversary

The Alex Years. Before he was even born Alex was listening to Dr Demento. During my nearly endless pregnancy in the actually endless sweltering summer of central Texas (bleh) on Sunday nights Mike and I would take our ‘fun’ money over to the 7-11 and splurge- a giant Slurpee for him and a Super Big Gulp of orange soda for me and we’d go cruising in our Tijuana blue 66 VW Bug. Back windows popped, sun roof open, and the wing windows angled for max ventilation we’d roll a couple hundred miles in the dark night sipping our icy drinks and listening to the Dr Demento Show on A&M’s campus radio station. I don’t know how much baby Alex understood through the timpani of my distended belly but my boy always, always loved novelty songs. This particular double album got A LOT of play at our house. Lyrics from its playlist were part of the family language. A members-only dialect pulled from movies, cartoons, TV shows, and Dr Demento’s strange offerings. That Alex’s first real concert was seeing Weird Al at the Poughkeepsie Civic Center is telling.

 

tammy wynette

Oh man. I have to back up here and include this. Consider it the umbrella beneath which are all the heartbreak songs my mother listened to pretty much continuously from 1969 to 1976 when she married my Pop. I don’t know if there was another despair-a-palooza when she divorced Pop, I was gone by then, but this and Tammy’s other dripping tears songs like ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E’ and ‘Til I Can Make It On My Own’ plus goodies by Connie Francis and Lynn Anderson and Loretta Lynn…oy, enough pining to forest all of Oregon. So angrily lachrymose that by comparison Alanis Morrisette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ is a collection of party anthems. All the pain of being the chick who got dumped distilled into three verses and a refrain with a catchy hook and a steel pedal guitar.

 

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My absolute favorite cooking songs for over a decade. ‘Time Bomb’ of course is a classic, but ‘She’s Automatic’ is the perfect length for frying an egg from cracking til flipping. Many is the weekend morning I’d do my fancy one-handed crack and drop four eggs into my big egg pan and then pogo around the kitchen to Rancid until it was time to give ’em a flip. Since I was their only example the exchange students believed ALL Americans danced while they cooked. And why not? Cooking is kind of a holy thing for me and what is worship without music?

 

big easy

This movie is absurdly sexy. I say ‘absurdly’ because almost all of the lovemaking happens off-screen. But there is dancing and hoo baby I do not wonder why Baptists insist it’s sinful. Anyway, this album is great even without the movie. A terrific collection of cajun and zydeco crossovers in an equal measure of ballads and up-tempo dance tunes. Good for driving to. Or housecleaning to. Or just enjoying.

 

Green_Day_-_American_Idiot_cover

The death of my marriage undid me. For a long, long time I felt like one of those exploded diagrams- clearly you could see all of my components but each piece was off in its own space separate from the others. Not one thing was connected to any other. I wasn’t broken, not exactly, but I was in bits. My emotions were the same. I was frightened. Also sad. But I was exhilarated. Delighted. Hurt. Hopeful. Mourning. Planning. Bereft. Gleeful. Gathering all those pieces was truly like herding cats. Not a one of them wanted to listen or go where I pointed. Most of the songs on this album are pretty grim, but being in such shambles grim made the most sense. Even if the future might turn out shiny right then too much of me was in free fall to care. Grim was good. Grim was solid. The marriage I’d thrown everything into for almost 25 years was over and I craved concrete. Green Day delivered with ‘American Idiot’ and I am grateful.

 

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Yeah, it’s trite. It’s also Damone. But never mind him and his dopey 5 point plan. Also never mind the quasi-mystical, elf lore bullshit attached to this album. Unless that’s truly your thing, then get your runes on and more power to you. For me, along with ‘Stairway To Heaven’ being the closing song to EVERY school dance I attended, the main thing about IV is ‘Black Dog’. The drumming! I feel about John Bonham’s work on this track like other people feel about the Gospels. Or string theory. Or ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’. It’s revelatory. Listening to this is auditory joy. It’s the insane madness of life with love and cruelty and the everyday and the transcendent all stirred together with finely milled hickory sticks. And the hands and rhythm of a percussion genius.

I made nine. If offered these as my only music forever I’d be content. Sorry, because there’s so much more, I didn’t even touch on classical music or the blues or Motown, but I’d manage on these nine. And singing in the shower, of course, where no rules apply.

Thanks, BTM, your challenge passed a happy afternoon for me on a bad, bad pain day so I am grateful.

Watch this one, you know you want to, if only for the happy tears.

 

 

Happy Easter, Passover, Spring, your joy of the change of season, ~LA

Fishy

Mick and I are going to the Mystic Aquarium tomorrow. I like aquariums, partly because it feels like fish mind being held captive less than land animals do. Maybe this is wrong and right now there’s a sad fish playing the harmonica and his tank mates are harmonizing ‘The Prisoner’s Song’ and there’s that one crazy fish plotting his 43rd escape attempt. Hey, I’ve seen ‘Finding Nemo’ and its sequel. But, I still enjoy aquariums. To be honest I think people get their panties in a wad over the wrong animals anyhow. You really care about animals? Then work on reversing climate change. Help elect people who will bust up the fossil fuel oligarchy. Join an organization that targets China and its hideous pollution and how its newly rich middle class is decimating endangered species in its pursuit of status purses and quack medicine Viagra. The Central Park carriage horses are fine and have better working conditions and healthcare than you do. Sheesh.

Everyone’s thrilled they shut the circuses down and yet no one is truly stopping the ivory poachers. The LAST male white rhino died this week, people, but hey let’s pee ourselves with joy that the Ringling Bros’ pampered and protected pachyderms are unemployed.

Feh.

Colors. 

Crossovers on FB will already know that I’ve colored my hair again. I finally got the coveted silver. Or I had, anyway. After a couple washes my gorgeous metallic faded into a sad watery blonde. Boo on you, Schwarzkopf, for delivering silver and then tarnishing so quickly. I’ve salvaged my color somewhat with spray color applied in the morning, but now my brown roots are beginning to show and I’ve been making a plan about how to proceed from here. I’m going to keep spray painting my coif for a few more weeks and then attempt to strip the brown and reapply the permanent (ha!) silver again. If it ends up a miserable mess the weather will be warm enough to just mow it all off. I don’t mind the occasional buzz cut. I’ve gone as short as 1/2″ all over my head and aside from a few well-meaning souls assuming I was recovering from chemo the blowback from a baldy haircut has been minimal.

Speaking of chemo, there are 4 or 5 regular customers coming in with scarves, knit hats, and/or wigs and the blanched skin and deep under-eye circles of cancer warriors. I greet them as I do all my customers and make the same chit-chat about the weather or the great selection of berries or whatever as I always do. I do NOT say anything about their chemo headgear. Not out of squeamishness or because I’m afraid to say the difficult thing, but because it must be fucking exhausting and even boring to talk about cancer all the time. A convo about how best to roast brussels sprouts is more useful and interesting.  I hope this is right. As a person with auto-immune issues I appreciate being seen and spoken to as a whole person. I might have a disease but I also want tasty sprouts.

Did my register training last week. It only took 3 years to get there. My first manager dangled it but never allowed me to learn. (She who loathed me irrationally and was so cruel I spun down into the Worst Place and it took new meds and 5 months of intense therapy to get my mojo back and return to work.) Next boss was poor Rue who’d been tossed to the wolves and we all were just scrambling to keep up. No time for niceties like extra skill training. Newest boss is young. And very small. 5′ nothing and maybe 100 lbs, EXACTLY the kind of woman who formerly reduced me to emotional dog poop. Tiny women defeated me from the get-go. I’m holding my own so far with Teeny Boss. Go me! (And yes, her fiance is 6’4″. What IS it with really big guys and their fascination with miniature women?) Steph, the HR manager, wanted to give me a red shirt to wear when I work on the front end. RED! No thank you. Fortunately she didn’t have any red shirts large enough. Red, of course, being the color every other department wears. Only Shop From Home has the snazzy black shirts. Since my training I’ve been rooked in to run a register a couple times when the store is extra-busy but I will be damned if I will doff my black for red. Not ever.

All around my neighborhood the colors of Spring keep trying. The snowdrops came up only to be buried under a shin-high blanket of snow. The willow withes and the forsythia are all poking tips and anxious swelling. The skies, when the cloud cover parts, are the particularly heartbreaking shade of blue that only comes when desire outstrips the actual. On the farm harrowing has begun churning up deep brown earth rich with moisture and fertilizer and in the marsh the peepers are clearing their throats in the evening awaiting that first truly warm night to begin their auditory courtship in earnest.

Everything and everyone is poised…

 

I know YouTubes are mostly ignored but honestly this one will do your heart good. Give yourself 4.35 minutes to enjoy some gorgeous music matched with nature photography.

 

Or if you prefer something more dramatic try the Moody Blues…

 

In a springtime state of mind, ~LA

I (heart) You

So yeah, Valentine’s Day. Wore my Pandora to work, its once yearly outing. Made my annual donation to our local PBS. (Not sure how it started, smart thing would be to do this during a pledge drive and score WNET swag, but my monetary love token is always a Valentine.) Wished co-workers and customers the compliments of the day, and was told more than a few times that Cupid had to wait, today is also Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten fast.

Lent is odd for me. As an atheist I could ignore the whole business. But I am also a thoughtful person. (Um, one who thinks a lot, not the ‘always remembers birthdays and my friends’ favorite ice cream flavors’ kind of thoughtful.) I grew up Catholic and identify as a cultural Jew-Witch so the idea of abstention, intention, and sacrifice as a path toward being a better person is not a foreign concept. I prefer a Lenten offering to be a ‘doing something’ gig rather than a ‘giving up’ thing though. It serves no one if I don’t eat jelly beans for 40 days. However if I make an effort to DO something for 40 days it has value beyond my own sugar jones.

My quiet unannounced New Year’s resolution this year was to be kinder. In whatever form it took. Brush the dog more often. Wave someone into traffic. Give that off-putting person the benefit of the doubt. To take the time to thoroughly lotion my legs after a shower and forestall the madly itchy skin that night. Be kind to others and myself.

Poolie’s death kicked my resolution up. A lot. Mostly in the form of SAYING things. Give the compliment. Offer the recipe. Just fricken TELL people how much they mean and how they matter. It’s too easy to let opportunities slide. You figure your friends know, right? And maybe they do. But what does it hurt to say how much you enjoy their sunset pics? Or liked the book they reviewed on Good Reads?

I’m trying not to be strident here. My mission this year is not to be a weight. I want to be a lifter. A lifter of spirit. An unexpected light on a gloomy day. There’s so, so, SO much wrong right now- hate and violence and corruption and misery…feh. Why add to it?

It’s not about ignoring the problems. Truly. I do speak politely to Senator Gillibrand and Rep. Maloney, but they hear from me more often than Sebastian does. I don’t hesitate to present my ideas at work. And take advantage of buttonholing our town selectmen when I see them at the store. But I am always giving solutions. At the very least offering up ideas to make things better- more cost efficient, more accessible, more inclusive. It’s easy to complain about what’s wrong, it’s far more challenging to figure out ways for things to go right.

And that’s what I’m about this year. Poolie and I didn’t always get along, she and I had divergent views on many things and her high-handed ideas about child-rearing always chapped my butt to the extreme (there’s no ‘expert’ more certain than the one who’s never done it), that being said, Paula was 100% correct about adventure. If it harms no one…why not? Dance, take a trip, have a pixel pal come stay for a visit, write the book, paint the pic, be on TV.

If there’s a takeaway here it’s to believe. Believe your words count. Believe your friends are doing fabulous things. Believe YOU are making the world a better, smarter, happier, less burdensome place.

Make the right choice…

 

 

Much love in all its configurations, ~LA

 

All Memes, All the Time

Why, hello there! Quite a few things happened since we last spoke. Mick and I are having marriage growing pains. Sucks, but we come out the other side better and stronger for it. This is one of the nicer things about being older – recognizing that not everything is a be all, end all situation and that sometimes you simply have to shovel shit for a while before the mess clears.

Speaking of older…I had my 55th birthday last Sunday! It was a mellow and relaxed birthday with pizza and family and some pretty cool loot. Got the birthday blizzard out of the way earlier in the week so by the 21st it was actually almost balmy outside. By far the nicest weather on my birthday EVER. And if discussing how the weather on one’s birthday was is deplorably boring then you do not have a winter birthday. Have most of your birthday plans derailed by a lashing ice storm or 9 feet of snow or sub-zero temps and a power failure then get back to me, m’kay? As it was I was delighted to go out for pizza wearing the neoprene and knit cool-ass jacket my son got me and not freezing my tushie off.

As predicted I have a new department manager. She’s VERY young. Seems nice enough. One upside – the regional manager is spending the entire week training her and establishing procedures, something NOT offered to the previous manager. Poor Rue was tossed in feet-first and then got blamed for the resultant chaos. Shitty deal and one I resent on her behalf. Me? I’m doing my job as always. Helping where I can. I’ve accepted I am always seen as a leader and whether I have the official title or not am always a ‘boss’. I struggled with this in the past. Problems owning my power. Believing people deferring to me was some kind of slur and insult because of my physical size. Whatever. Realized most of my problem was a lack of being nurtured. Nobody takes care of the caretakers, you know? If I was always forced to be in charge then no one was ever going to help me or fuss over me or pat me when I was feeling small and low. This was true until Mick. But my guy absolutely acknowledges my strength and size and prowess and still treats me as someone fragile and precious. The former doesn’t negate the latter at all. In Mick’s view it’s because I Do All The Things that I deserve cossetting and coddling and spoiling. See why I keep shoveling when it’s shitty? All worth it in the end.

Onward with the meme! This one is courtesy of that amazing bright light, Karyl.

1. What bill do you hate paying the most? I don’t pay the bills, Mick does. My job is to renegotiate our payments and keep my eye on our overall spending. If there’s a payment I resent I shop for a better deal, haggle, and adjust things on our end as best I can.

2. When was the last time you had a romantic dinner? Food is a love offering with us. So in that sense every meal is a romantic one. Sebastian and I will whomp up a terrific dinner or a weekend brunch and we all sit at the table together having family time. Mick comes in late and half-frozen from deliveries and I’m waiting with a hot dinner. He makes me tea and toast EVERY morning. I come home completely out of gas and Mick bundles me off to the diner or runs out for Chinese. Meals are one tangible way we say, “I love you.”

3. What do you really want to be doing right now? Aside from not dreading yet another kidney surgery next month? I am doing pretty much what I want to be doing. Just cruising. Working. Enjoying my life. Doing memes.

4. How many colleges did you attend? Two. Starting in the 6th grade I took extension courses through the state university system as the regular coursework was absurd. I ran the entire year’s curriculum in a couple weeks and would otherwise sit twiddling my thumbs for the next ten months. The only class I attended with grade peers was math. I had a math block. After graduating high school with 90% of a bachelor’s degree I went to Central Texas College and took any and every course that caught my fancy. Without a declared major I never did get an actual degree in anything. This is what happens when you’re really, really smart and incredibly dumb.

5. Why did you choose the shirt you have on? I am not wearing a shirt, I’m wearing a plaid bathrobe. I chose it because my other robe needs washing.

6. Thoughts on gas prices? Aside from being an artificial construct raised and lowered by a handful of disgusting greedy sacks of filth wearing human skin suits? Again, Mick gasses my car and I rarely pay attention to gas prices except when it’s time to renegotiate my utility bill or make adjustments to the overall budget.

7. First thought when the alarm goes off in the morning? “Wait. What? Which reality is this?” My night world is vivid and visceral. The only reason I concede that this is the ‘real’ world is that it tends to follow the rules of physics more consistently. And that my cats don’t speak Spanish in this reality. “Buenos dias, Senora LA. Meow Mix y’ agua, por favor.” The only thing more irksome than a nudging cat first thing in the morning is one that does it in a foreign language.

8. Last thought you have before you go to sleep? “Ahhh….David Attenborough….”

9. Do you miss being a child? I don’t think I’ve ever been a child. Not really. Seriously. Being a child was never offered.

10. What errand/chore do you despise the most? Crazily enough I actually enjoy cleaning. What I despise is sifting through junk. GAH! Getting rid of, finding homes for, and otherwise dealing with CRAP drives me batshit. Clear away the junk and I will scrub until everything gleams.

11. Up early or sleep in? Sleep is my favorite drug.

12. Found love yet? Well, duh! Not just Mick. I have Sebastian. I have you guys. I have a dog who thinks I’m wonderful. You bet I have love.

13. Favorite lunch meat? I usually say bologna from the deli, and this is still true, but right now I’m having a fling with Boar’s Head teriyaki chicken. Yummy.

14. What do you get every time at Target? Oy, unfortunately I am not in the cult of Target. I wish I were. It sounds great. However Target and Kohl’s just don’t do it for me. Don’t have my sizes. Don’t cough up the goodies. Maddening, especially because I have a black belt in bargain shopping. Ask me about mining the clearance racks at Old Navy or Barnes & Noble or Macy’s and you’ll get a treatise on going home with $200+ of stuff for $11.00.

15. Beach or lake? I miss lake swimming. Growing up there were several lakes we swam in. Some public places with concessions stands and bathrooms and others were just local water holes with a rope swing and a scrap of shoreline without a lot of poison ivy. But lakes have gone away. Insurance and liability woes, probably. The ocean is as essential as ever. And now I’ve swum in the English (fucking!) Channel! Not to knock my beloved Jersey Shore, but check me out with my international sea cred.

16. Is marriage overrated? Um..what? Overrated how? Held up as the only way to have a relationship? Ya, sure. Relationships are yours to make or break regardless of official sanction from the government. But as a legal construct with rights and responsibilities and protections under the law I think marriage is damn important. This is why I have always been a proponent of marriage equality. Unlike the ignorant and religious chuckleheads who saw marriage rights for all as some kind of ‘special’ thing granted to gay people I believe legal marriage is a right everyone should have because it protects people. It gives the law a place to operate from in regards to property and child custody. It’s about being fair.

17. Ever crashed your vehicle? I’ve never been a serious car accident. I have, however, done the same dopey thing three times. When approaching a yield I’d see the person in front of me had time to go and would look to the left to see if I also had a clear lane. Clutch in and rolling slow I’d bump into the person in front of me because they (freaking) stopped dead instead of going through the yield as anticipated by me. Never any damage, just surprise on both party’s parts. I’d always pop out with apologies and and negating hand waving, hiding my fury that the nervous nelly incompetent dimwit in front of me didn’t understand how a yield worked.

18. How long have you and your best friend been friends? I am currently without a female bestie. I have great friends. Wonderful friends. Friends I’d call from jail for bail. But that singular best pal? Nope. And this is okay.

19. Somewhere you’ve never been but want to go? Y’all know my thirst for travel. One place I want to go is the Winter Market in Vienna, Austria. I see myself wandering the stalls with a wurst in a bun in one hand and a steaming mug of gluhwein in the other. I’d buy glass Christmas tree ornaments. And beautifully iced gingerbread cookies. And mirrors in carved wooden frames. In my mind there’s waltz music and the smell of roasting meat and there’s sparkling snow skirling down.

20. At this point in your life would you want to start a new career? This seems to come up a lot in memes. I like my current job very much. And really, how many people get to say they are professional grocery shoppers? But, if we’re talking dream job then I would like to have a small catering business which specializes in cannabis-laced confections. Not your average rookie cookie or jolly lolly, I’m talking about lovely little treasures of spun sugar, wee bitty cakes, candied violets and fruit slices, tiny works of edible art that produce the happiest, most fanciful of highs. I see my goodies being wedding favors and book club treats and the desserts at select B&Bs. I don’t know if I’d grow my own marijuana or work with boutique breeders/growers, but I do see my product as very niche and upscale. Not exactly for the snob status, but so I can craft delicacies rather than churn out assembly line stoner snax.

21. Do you have a go-to person? Besides Mick? I’m fortunate to have friends in any number fields and disciplines so it depends on the problem, but I don’t hesitate to ask advice from my cadre of learned pals. Lucky, lucky, lucky! Sometimes I think MY best talent is making really smart and talented friends.

22. Are you where you want to be in life? This would involve Goal Setting and Fulfilling Expectations. Not really my brand of burgers. My whole life has been one really slow and mostly lousy surprise party.

23. Growing up, what were your favorite cartoons? Looney Tunes, of course. The original “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?”. I watched ‘UnderDog’ and ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ – though honestly my favorite things about those shows were the oddball filler shorts like ‘Fractured Fairytales’ and ‘Aesop and Son Fables’.

24. What has changed since you were a child? Got a week? It would take me at least that long to name the changes. I’ll go with just one – the loss of true American exceptionalism. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s there was the Space Race and the Civil and Women’s Rights movements. My formative years were all about how the US would keep getting smarter, and more inclusive and fair, and would use those ever-expanding fields of talent and scientific progress to help and improve life for EVERYBODY. Crash cut to 40 years later and the US is a quagmire of deliberate idiocy and fanaticism of dogma over facts, belief in the invisible over the provable, and irrational pride in being stupid, selfish, and cruel. Add to that the monetization of services which by now should be subsidized from the common pot (taxes, paid by ALL including billionaires and industry), the choking off of education by the tyranny of standardized testing, and the steady chipping away at our infrastructure until lousy, unsafe, and just plain vanished are the norm, and here we are in the sci-fi fantasy year of 2018 and we live in the world’s largest shithole. I continue to be heartbroken, gobsmacked, and humiliated every single day. If 9 year old me who imagined herself striding into the Senate wearing a cool hat like her hero, Bella Abzug, after having lunch with a Nobel prize winner, a couple of constituents, and Cass Elliot, rolling up her sleeves ready to get shit done, if 9 year old LA could see what became of her country and the absolute triumph of hatefulness and greed she’d have curled up and died on the spot. Sometimes I think she did and this LA is just a zombie too dumb to understand she’s dead.

And that, my darlings, is where I will leave off. Other questions await other days.

Much love, ~LA

A Snowy Night and a Meme

A dear friend and one of my longest tenured pixel pals did this and I HAD to do it too. (Btw, you should visit my dear one’s shop and buy her lovely soaps. Sorry if this isn’t a hot link, WP confuses me. It sure ain’t D-land.)

Anyhoodle, y’all know me and memes. Irresistible. Especially on a snowy night after a chaotic day at work. The weather made many people anxious- including the department manager and several dozen hysterical clients whose deliveries were moved, rescheduled, and otherwise jostled because of the crappy weather. Feels like I’ve done nothing but soothe upset folk all day long. I know the current department manager is not long for the job. She’s a terrific person but ill equipped for the position. I do mind the chaos, but I mind a stranger coming in from another store even more. I’d take over the position myself but going full-time and agreeing to management training means they’re allowed to ship me off to ANY store. Seriously. Like Maryland. Or Ohio. No. Especially since I’ve gotten to know a new transfer from another store and the stories I’ve heard from her confirm every ugly suspicion I held about the other ShopRites. They are NOT my ShopRite. Our new ninja has worked for the company for 20 years and is totally gobsmacked by how friendly, welcoming, helpful, and all around nice everyone is at our place. Employees and customers both. I had her giggling at break time telling her about the ‘Don’t Be an Asshole’ pledge and how our #1 rule is ‘Kill ’em with Kindness’. Those might not be actual dictates issued by corporate, but they are words we live by nonetheless.

Onward to the meme.

1. What was last thing you drank? A beer, believe it or not. Not a whole beer, just a few healthy glugs from the Rolling Rock tallboy I was braising the pot roast in. While it was cold that ordinary cheap brew tasted like Heaven. I’d just gotten home and it was icy from being in the back of the fridge. Yum. A couple hours later it was warm and boring and not worth finishing. Meh.

2. Where was your profile picture taken? At the salon. I’d just gotten a haircut and wanted pics to use as a guide next time.

3. Worst pain? Emotionally? Knowing I’ve hurt others and let them down. Physically? Kidney stones/infections. Relentless pain. Makes me shrieky and mean.

4. Favorite places to eat? Diners. We are diner people. I’ve never found diners like ours outside of the tri-state area. Other parts of the country have luncheonettes. And cafes. And even places called ‘diners’. But they are not our diners. No disrespect to your hometown eateries. Even if it’s a DQ.  Where you get your fries and your drunk food and go for weekend breakfast is insanely personal, I dig it. Our local diners are simply a species unto themselves. Far removed from their chromed railroad car origins our diners are luxe. 24 hour palaces with acres of booths and gaudy ceiling fixtures and menus that have EVERYTHING. Fabulous food served in gargantuan portions at unbeatable bargain prices. I luuuuuurve diners and they are a hefty part of the reason I never want to live outside the Hudson Valley ever, ever again. Having lived away I know that without diners one cannot get scampi, poached eggs and rye toast, and goulash at 3:00 am on demand. YAY diners!

5. How late did you stay up last night? 11:00. I usually go to bed around then, at least on work nights. I know older people are supposed to require less sleep but so far since Sebastian graduated high school and has been in charge of his time I’ve found my body absolutely craves 8-9 hours a night. If undisturbed I can sleep for 14-16 hours on my days off. This is a far cry from the anxious, broken short sleep I’d gotten for the previous 30+ years. Autistic children + Aspie incompetent husband + job/responsibilities = perpetually sleep-deprived LA. Nowadays I revel in sleep. My bed is a womb. A memory-foam padded, pillow-topped, 400 thread count haven of nocturnal bliss.

6. What kind of car do you drive? I drive a Nissan Rogue. It’s my second Rogue. The first was a swanky up market one with many (but not all) upgrades. I loved my first Rogue. I loved its bubble shape and its champagne colored paint. Because it came with I discovered Sirius radio and have become a devotee. This newer Rogue is beefier and it’s painted an aggressive gunmetal grey. It’s a baseline model and I don’t think the build-quality is the same (there’s A LOT of window leak noise) but overall when the lease is up on this one I will probably lease a 2019 (2020?) model. I like the Rogues because they are a good size. Small and light enough to get 32+ gas mileage but large enough not to be scared or feel dwarfed in traffic. I’d driven iconic and seriously cool ass cars all of my life. Vintage Mustangs, VW Beetles and Buses. Jeeps, Broncos, a Trans-Am. I did my time with “Holy shit! Didja see that?” cars. Rogues are nicely anonymous. Just one more Mom car among the herd. It’s peaceful not to be leading a parade of one anymore.

7. Who took your profile pic? My hairdresser. Hazel is a good cutter. Not especially inspired or creative, but I can count on her to give me the cut I ask for. And she works at the salon in the same plaza as the store. Easy enough to clock out and toddle on down to the salon on Wednesdays. (Wash and cut special. I adore having my hair washed.)

8. What’s your favorite season? Fall. After the long brutal summer I am soooo happy to have crisp temps and breezy golden days! I love sweaters and having the tip of my nose be chilly and bright shouts of color from the leaves and the smell of apples and watching the squirrels bury their treasures. And yet, I have feelings for the other seasons too. Even horrible, melty, stinky summer. In the summer there’s fireworks. And swap meets. And farmer’s markets. Spring? How gorgeous is it when those first warm nights come on and the whole world drips and runs with water freed from its ice prison? And peepers? Their homely song inspires deep breaths and stopping to just be for a minute or two. Winter. Sure, it can be a trial and a slog. But there are the holidays. Lights, white twinkle lights and jewel-colored extravaganzas. Everyone is a little happier and wherever you go someone wishes you the compliments of the season. Maybe I’m getting old, but I can find reasons to enjoy just about anything.

9. If you could change your profession? Nope. I genuinely, honestly like what I do. It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t pay much. I have to wear a dopey shirt. But I provide a service. I get to use all my skills. I am useful. I am knowledgeable. I am reassuring. I get to discuss cooking. I can help customers save money. What’s not to like?

10. Favorite childhood TV show? My immediate impulse is to say ‘The Brady Bunch’ and be done with it. I do and will always love the Brady Family. Their weekly (and rerun) stories about such innocent stuff helped me through a truly ugly time in my life. Scarring and one that echoed for decades. The Brady’s made my life less awful. But honestly? I adored police procedurals. Why? Well, for one thing the bad guys ALWAYS got caught. And punished. For someone like me who had no fairness or justice I liked that at least SOMEBODY got theirs, even if they were fictional. Plus, with procedurals sometimes it came to a shoot-out, but mostly the crimes were solved with brains. Another gratifying thing for me, the one always being mocked and punished for being brainy.

11. The thing you are most afraid of? Finding out for certain that I’ve never helped anyone. To go to my death knowing I’d never taught something that made someone’s life better. Or given affection to someone at their ragged end. Or not even that dramatic, I just want to have made a difference toward the good. Finding out the sum of my life has been to the negative…no, I couldn’t bear it.

12. If you could travel anywhere? Now that I’ve actually (FINALLY!) gone across the Atlantic Ocean and trotted around England I think I’d like to go somewhere that English is not the native language. Yeah, yeah, I’ve been to Mexico, but only to the gringo resort places like Tex-Mex border towns and Cancun. I’ve yet to be somewhere that doesn’t give a warm crap about speaking English to make a buck. To totally rely on my ability to communicate sans common language would be cool. Tiring and more than a little frightening, but cool.

13. Favorite animal? See, this is too vague. Favorite animal for what? To eat? Pigs. I like eating pigs. Their meat produces some of my favorite things. Sausage. Pork chops. Bacon. To look at? Horses. I like watching horses. I like watching them work. The Budweiser Clydesdale team. Central Park carriage horses. At the track at Aqueduct. Circus horses with sparkly acrobats on their backs. For companionship? I like cats. Dogs remind me too much of myself. Slobbering, grateful things doing tricks and not minding if they’re foolish and laughed at. Blech. Cats? Cats will always demand what they want and make no concessions or apologies. I am trying to be more cat-like in my attitude.

And that, my friends, is today’s meme.

 

 

Thanks, Michelle. This was fun.

 

Borrow, steal, copy, whatev. You write, I’ll read, ~LA