Category Archives: Grunts

Mother’s Day…It’s Complicated

My mom died when I was 28. She had issues—hell, she had a lifetime subscription, but I always knew she loved me. She wasn’t always good at showing it in a way that spoke to me, but I always knew that it was there.

When I was a teen, I became furious with her. Why hadn’t she taught me all the things that I would need to know as an adult? Why hadn’t she said the words I needed to hear? Or did the things that I needed her to do?

In my twenties, I figured out that she would never teach me these things, and I would have to muddle through. Some of the things, I seriously had to unlearn what she taught me, before I could move forward as a functioning adult in this society. Most of the things I had to teach myself how to do from scratch. Some of them I’m still not so solid on. (Housekeeping comes to mind—and to my house every month.) 

The year she died was a bad one for me. It started with me being #4 in a five-car pile-up (#5 hit and ran, and so the insurance companies were trying to blame it all on me, until the inspector came and saw the steel frame of my car literally bent in half), and ended with the double-whammy of deciding to separate from my then-husband, and two days later, my mom passing from cancer. 

Untethered, I traveled for the first half of the following year—sofa surfing some, and staying in hotels and hostels for some. It was kind of a blur, although I do remember staying with some dear friends, one of who was Very Pregnant. She went into labor, and they asked me to watch their toddler while she was giving birth at the hospital. I was so angry that this kid, crying on my shoulder because she wanted her mommy, got to have a mom (and such an awesome one, at that) while I didn’t have any.

Eventually I settled down to live with my grandpa and get myself sorted out. When my money ran out, I got a job answering phones for a service. I was in the pilot program for a potential client. We were going to take calls during their busy time, and if we did well enough, they’d hire my company on a permanent basis.

I trained for weeks, not knowing who the client was. It was top-secret, you know. And in the last week of training they announced… that we’d be taking orders for a major flower company! For their Mother’s Day rush! Everyone was so excited. And I was…not.

So I spent my work days listening to people tell me how awesome their mom is—or at least how obligated they felt to say so. I spoke with the people who bought the largest basket with all the bells and whistles, but didn’t know what their mom’s favorite flower was, and I spoke with the people who, when they heard what the delivery fees were, needed to get a smaller arrangement, but as long as there were some of this particular flower, it would still be good. Because all of them loved their moms.

It sucked, but it was a crash course in not hurting every time someone mentioned their mom.

Eventually, I left the job to take care of my grandpa full-time. He mostly just needed a physical presence, which gave me plenty of time to gaze at my navel, and it was in this period that I realized the important thing. Her whole life, my mom did the best she could. It wasn’t always what I needed. It often wasn’t what I wanted. But it was everything she had. And when she didn’t teach me something, I realized, it was because she didn’t know it. And when she didn’t say the right words or do the right things, it was because the way her world had molded her, she didn’t have the tools to support me. But she always wanted what was best for me. And she loved me. And at the end of the day, I turned out okay. Fait accompli. 

To all the moms out there, doing your best at whatever capacity you can, I see you. I admire you. And I thank you for taking on the mantle and responsibility of influencing humanity’s future. 

My Story

I don’t have time to be doing this. I have a major deadline just around the corner, and I need to be working on that, but at the same time, I feel like I need to tell this story.
It happened many years ago. I was dating this awesome guy. In so many ways, we just clicked, you know? And the two of us went on a double-date with his brother and the brother’s girlfriend—would it be rude of me to refer to her as The Wildebeest? It would? Good. I couldn’t stand that woman. Let her be so named forever more.

Continue reading My Story

I don’t know how to flirt

You have probably noticed that my posts have become more sporadic lately.

Oh, man! I have seen those words on so many blogs, usually right before the blogger announces their newest book! 😀

No, I’m not announcing my newest book. Yet. But I’m working on it. And I’m announcing that I’m working on it. I have deadlines and everything. Oh, gods! What have I done?

What it comes down to is that I am still writing, pretty much every day. I have to finish 20K words by summer. For people who have done NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 30 days), that might not sound like much—and for people who don’t write at all, it probably doesn’t sound like anything—but it’s a lot for me. This is my first serious attempt at something salable, and it has to be finished in a timely manner, and it has to be good readable.

My rule is to write at least two sentences each day. It usually turns into more than that, but it’s a lot easier to convince myself that I have energy for two sentences than for onethousandwordsperday ohmygaaaaah!!! And some days, all I have in me is two sentences, but that’s okay, because that’s my minimum. Anyway, it works for me and keeps me progressing.

The other day I hit a block, because I don’t know how to flirt. You see, both of my characters are expert flirts and charmers, and I am not, so I didn’t know how to write their dialog. I sat on it for a day (and put two sentences in earlier paragraphs), and then I realized I should focus on how, even though this is old hat for them, they’re both out of their element, because there’s more than just physical attraction, and neither of them knows how to deal with that. So instead of dialog, I did this:

Electric. Her fingers were as chill as the bottle, and yet when he enclosed them with his much larger hand, he felt warm tingles shoot through his entire body. The world narrowed down to this moment. He saw her eyes, felt her fingers warming under his. He was smiling. He was saying something to her, and she was smiling back, flirting back. And he had no idea what either of them was talking about, but it didn’t matter, because she was here, with him.

“Come out with me tonight. Say yes.”

With a shy half-grin she looked at him through lowered lashes. “I—”

 I’m not sure if it’s stronger— Well, it’s stronger than me trying to pretend to know how to flirt, but I can get advice on that later. I’m not sure if this approach is a stronger way to structure this part of the story, but that’s okay, because it allowed me to keep moving forward. It felt good to jump that hurdle, and then everything flowed again.

So, I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to update this blog for a while. I’ve got a few more days of two sentences to knock out. But rest assured that I’m still writing. Because that is what this blog is about for me– a place to make sure that as a writer, I keep writing.

Image found here.
Frédéric Soulacroix [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less. {{PD-US-no notice}} – any work first published without copyright notice prior to 1978.

Why I don’t want to eat at your party

“Can’t you just pick out the parts you don’t want to eat?”

Considering that I can neither see, taste, nor smell the parts that make me sick, I’m gonna go with No. I’ll just eat the stuff I know is safe for me, thanks.

“Oh, well, a little bit never hurt anybody, right?”

Would you please tell that to my gut? It still hasn’t clued in on this concept. The last time I thought that, I had the most horrific bathroom problems for three solid days, I didn’t sleep right for about a week, had awful Depression that whole time–which cleared up once the gluten got out of my system–and was losing nutrition in my body for that entire time, since my GI tract was so inflamed that it couldn’t absorb anything, thereby throwing my body into starvation mode, no matter how much I did or didn’t eat. I had brain fog for a week, where I just couldn’t think, and I could barely function at my job. I had insomnia and fatigue at the same time, and during all of that, I was driving on the same roads as you. But hey, you know what? Thanks for your expert  advice, and congratulations on your new medical degree. I’m sure you’ve been studying up on this WAY more than I have since my diagnosis three years ago.

“I know you have gluten issues, so I made this thing just for you.”

You made this for me? You thought me when you didn’t have to? I’m so grateful I could burst into tears. Thank you. Thank you so much! It’s just…before I take a bite, did you check all of the other ingredients, too? Besides the most obvious ones?  Your marinade was made with soy sauce, whose second ingredient is usually wheat. And this has white vinegar in it, which could have been made with malt (barley), but we have no way of knowing–sometimes even the manufacturer doesn’t even know. And you’re right: oats are naturally gluten-free, but here in the states, oats are stored, transported, and processed in the same facilities as wheat, rye, and barley, which means by the time they hit the shelves, it is entirely possible that the oats have more gluten ON them than wheat has IN it. I know, this is weird and gluten has no business being in these things, but it is. Welcome to my world. It took me about two years to find all the hidden ways gluten was still sneaking into my diet. I don’t expect you to pick it all up in one afternoon. But what that means is that while I am SO GRATEFUL that you brought this dish with me in mind–seriously, you have no idea!–I cannot safely eat it. Unless it was prepared by someone who understands what gluten is and where it hides, I don’t want to eat it. But thank you so deeply for thinking of me.

“Well, we have a salad. You can eat that, right?”

Oh, gods. Another one? Why can’t I eat a normal meal like I used to? So sick of salad. This party is full of the most amazing foods. I mean, the smells alone are sending me into heaven, and breaking bread together is such an important part of human community building, and I so want to take part in that. I’m not on a diet. You guys are all eating these fried/breaded/baked delicacies, and I wish I could have just one more bite, one more taste of golden, greasy goodness, to share in the communal offerings… But not even one bite is worth the health risks I’m facing. I don’t want to eat myself into dying from malnutrition or even just having bones so brittle they snap under any stress. I don’t want to get osteoporosis or anemia. I’ve seen what that does to people. I don’t want to lose so many nutrients that my hair falls out or I can no longer think straight. And I really don’t want to spend the next three days in the bathroom. Besides, checking the salad dressing you’re offering, I see that it was made in a facility where the manufacturer cannot guarantee that some wheat didn’t get into the mix, meaning this stuff may be horribly contaminated for me, even though you cannot tell the difference. This means I get to eat my veggies raw. Again. But there is literally nothing else here that is safe for me, so Salad would be lovely. Thank you for thinking of me.   

Photo found here:

Lies, Damned Lies, and Politics

I have been engaging in political discussions with someone who sits on the other side of the fence from me. (In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m pretty damn liberal.) She has been absolutely wonderful. She is usually clear and generally well-studied and doesn’t foam at the mouth. I love talking with her about this stuff, because I am learning from her. I am learning about the concerns and perspectives of the people on “the other side”—when they are thinking, rational people, rather than the ones that just repeat rhetoric, because that’s what someone else on “their side” said.

I’m also learning about myself. I’m learning that I do that. I’ve been doing all of it. I’ve been foaming at the mouth, and I’ve been repeating things people on “my side” said without doing any fact checking. I’ve been waiting for her to finish her argument, so that I could prove her wrong, rather than actively listening to the points she’s been trying to make. In short, I’ve been acting as horribly as the “Them” I claim are out there.

Sunshyne, thank you for your patience with me. And I’m sorry if for when I got too aggressive.

And here’s what I have learned from this incredibly humbling experience.

I have been so busy trying to be Right in the last few weeks that I haven’t been listening. I acted as if I thought her concerns weren’t valid at all, when the fact is, they are. Her concerns are every bit as valid as mine. I have absolutely no right to walk over hers—or worse yet, to walk over hers while announcing that I’m angry that people are walking over mine.

I have learned/remembered that angry people shout because they feel unheard. I do feel unheard. And I think she does too. People don’t share, and they certainly don’t concede, when they feel like they don’t have enough for their own well-being. This applies to food, this applies to money, and it certainly applies to attention.

The fact is, we live in a complicated society. There are a LOT of people here, from every walk of life, from every religion, every nationality. State and federal governments have the responsibility of protecting the rights of all of us—even the ones we don’t agree with. And that is what makes our nation great. We don’t have a theocracy. We don’t have one to rule them all. We govern ourselves. Together.

Part of this wake-up came about when she and I were discussing the Oregonian bakers who refused service to a gay couple on religious grounds. I spouted opinions. She spouted opinions. And then we both went and read the final filing from the court ruling, and really, my opinions on what the case were about were dead-wrong. Hers were off-based, too, but not nearly as much as mine. I realized I had fallen victim to “headline reading”. Scratch that. I chose to only read headlines, and since you cannot trust all of those guys who spout opposing opinions, because they’re all wrong, I only read headlines that seemed like they probably agree with me.

In an environment where you can Like, Share, Upvote, Downvote and Pin something with just one click, it’s becoming more challenging to do due diligence. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I just wanted to move on to my next headline. The problem was, the headlines were very, very misleading.

I know. Yellow journalism is not news. It never was. But that’s not what I’m actually here to say. What I want to say is I’ll be doing my best to do a little more reading and a little less shouting in the coming days. As old saw goes, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” (And, no, Mark Twain didn’t say it first. Neither did Abraham Lincoln. I know this, because I did my research.)


Image found here:


I have to keep reminding myself that it was ALWAYS thus. Whether you’re watching today’s news or reading about ancient history, the stories are remarkably the same.

There have always been people in the world who will take advantage of others. Sometimes, it is politically, sometimes economically, sometimes physically. Continue reading Always

When I really, really wanted the thing.

The other day, I realized with a start that I was ready to start interacting with hoomans again. You see, I have been avoiding leaving the house pretty much since January. At first I thought it was just because I needed to recover from a very busy, albeit wonderful, December. But then the feeling never ended. In fact, it got worse! I didn’t want to leave the house. I barely saw my friends. I didn’t even want to leave the house to go get food, unless it was to bring it back to the house to eat. And I certainly didn’t want to go shopping, no matter how threadbare my work clothes were getting. Amazon Prime was my friend, and Netflix my companion. I had retired from the human race.

And then I started getting angry all the time. And then I started getting mean all the time.

And then I realized, I need a vacation. Not like, “Oh, gee, I should go somewhere.” More like, “I had better take some freaking time off NOW, before I commit some unspeakable acts– you know, the kinds that are illegal, immoral, or the greatest American sin of all: fattening.” (That last bit had actually already started happening, now that I think about it.) Continue reading When I really, really wanted the thing.

Dangers untold and hardships unnumbered 

Shortly after we moved to our current neighborhood, a lot of stressful changes started hitting me, one after the other. I mean, there were obvious ones: moving—and not just moving, but moving in with my then-boyfriend, Honey, and then the two of us establishing a home together in a neighborhood that was new to both of us. The day Honey and I each turned in our keys to our old apartments, I got laid off from my boring-but-well-paying job. In addition, I started noticing some pretty severe health issues that cropped up fairly suddenly, which ultimately led me to the gluten-free diet I’ll now be on for the rest of my life. This lead me to deeply challenge my identity as a Pretty Good Baker. And eventually I got a new job temping for a woman who made it her life’s ambition to tear me apart, piece by piece, but we needed the money to pay the rent on the apartment we had JUST signed a lease on. In short, 2013 was a challenging year for me.

Right after I landed that new job, I met one of my neighbors for the first time. She lives on the same block as us, so it’s pretty hard to avoid her space. She is one of the most caustic people I have ever had the misfortune to meet. That first time I met her, her opening words to me were so venomous and her attitude so devoid of any sort of humanity, I felt like I had been physically attacked, which is a pretty strong greeting for someone you’ve never met before. Her behavior was such a shock—how can any human being act that way toward a total stranger?!?!—that it literally ruined my whole day. I spent the whole time wondering “How dare she!” and “Why would she?” and “Who seriously worries about getting their lawn dirty? How does she deal with feral cats and raccoons, who relieve themselves wherever they damn well please? And why doesn’t she put up a stupid sign if it’s that important to her?” Continue reading Dangers untold and hardships unnumbered 

On vacation

Dang! I missed posting yesterday, because I’m on vacation, and my brain was so excited about vacation, that’s all you get this week.
See you next week!

New Acquisitions

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a gadget slut. There has always been a computer in my household, since I was 5 years old. (The Apple IIe was our first of many.) I got this passion from my dad– for my whole life, he has always collected and/or built a Thing That Does The Thing. In fact, back in the day, we used to bond over building Ham Radio gadgets. …I know: I’m a geek. I was never very good at hiding it.

Continue reading New Acquisitions