Archives: General

Motherhood: The Beta Version


I have about half an hour left in me tonight before I need to put teabags or cucumbers or whatever it is you put on burning eyeballs and I want to save that half an hour for an episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Because mindless TV sounds soooo good right now.

You people? With the kids and the jobs? Both at the same time? HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?

Burdy and I agreed, while their parents are out of town, to watch Giggles and Little Man for the next four days.

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking: but what about the whole worm thing? Aren’t you afraid you’ll give them your parasites? Well, I’ve sworn off serving poop sandwiches for dinner, so I think we’re all safe.

So, seriously now. I feel like I have whiplash. IN MY BRAIN. Yesterday I was just a single person, living my single person life, doing my single person work… and today… today I was inside a tumbleweed of schedules and snacks and pleads for toys from the toy store and dinner and homework and car seats and late night work hours and coordinating, coordinating, coordinating.

Yesterday I had visions of taking a bath. TAKING A BATH! And going to the gym. At NINE o’clock at night. BECAUSE I COULD. And today? Today I was calling Burdy to make sure he knew that it was half an hour till tooth brushing time and did he start story time yet?

Okay. I’m done with the whiny part. I mean, I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to do this. I love those kids to death. And they love Mr. Burdy and me. I guess I just hadn’t really done the math on what it would mean to go from single… to the legal guardian of a nine year old and a four year old overnight. All my gritty, urban styling is going to have to take a back seat for a few days while I pack coloring books in my messenger bag and bend over in my skinny jeans to wipe noses and tie tiny shoelaces.

I guess I’m not entirely unprepared for this. I am the aunty with all the cool stuff in her house. I’ve got a collection of manual typewriters that still work (always a hit with kids. “Where’ the ‘print’ button?” they always want to know) and stickers and wacky stationary I pick up at estate sales. So, what I may lack in experience, I more than make up for with my obsolete technology and sparkly pipe cleaners. My elementary school art teacher persona kicked in to high gear this afternoon during our urban nature walk. We collected a bunch of goodies from the ground and made sculptures with pipe cleaners and hot glue when we got home.

Little Man insisted on calling the chestnuts “prickly balls”. And I insisted that I would tell him when he was much, much older why I thought that was funny.

Hawaiian Odyssey, Part I

You didn’t think I was going to just drop the f-bomb on you like that and not have a good story to go along with it, did you?

Honestly, I have been saving this post up for about two weeks now. I have been trying to figure out just how to say this all. And there is more to say than I ever imagined I would want to say about the subject of marriage.

Let’s just start this epic tale from the beginning, shall we?

Let’s start by calling CLH by his new name: Burdy. That’s what I call him at home (it’s what he calls me too for reasons that are too over-the-top cutesy to explain right now) . Anyway, that’s what we’ll call him on this site from now on. He will no longer be “common-law”. He’ll just be my “husband”. We are hereby removing the “CL” from “CLH”, Internet. Weird. This will not be the last time I will see the word “husband” and think “weird”.

So, Burdy left for Mexico about 8 weeks ago. He was to get on a boat and sail, with three other men, from Puerta Vallarta, Mexico to Hilo, Hawaii*. He did this because just about a year ago, I left for my own little adventure in a land-of-little-hygiene, and the deal was that if I got to go to Burning Man without him, then he was allowed to go on his own life- changing shindig a year later. So, he agreed to be crew for a 47′ long boat named the Jolly Roger.

I was excited for him, but, I also tried to be as hands-off with his experience as he had been with mine.

Truth be told, I was WAY hands off. When it came time to prepare for his trip, I sort of tuned out. Did I care how many hundreds of pounds of rigging they would have to fly to Mexico to re-rig the boat? Not really. Was I concerned that he would have to brace himself in a tiny, rollicking, closet whenever he needed to answer nature’s call? Not so much. Could I really conceptualized three WEEKS at sea with no land in sight? Nope. Was I excited to sleep in our bed ALL BY MYSELF? You bet your sweet ass I was.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t thinking about his safety- I was, in fact, but I was trying to not freak out. I was trying really hard not to think about shark attacks, and bad storms, and holes being punched in the hull by random crap and the guys having to hang on to floating debris and drinking seawater because they were dying of thirst and then going mad and murdering each other with sharpened pieces of decking. We all know that my adrenal glands did not need any more punishment, and I knew that by focusing on all the things that could go WRONG, I would a) make him more nervous about this trip than he needed to be and b) I would exclude the possibility that he might have a WONDERFULLY LIFE CHANGING, positive experience on his trip. So, I sent him off with a wave and a kiss and told him to say Hi to the sun for me.

Then I prepared myself for four weeks of glorious bachelorette-dom.

And by week three, I was really bored.

On Day One, I missed him. I cried at a little at the sight of his balled up pajama bottoms on our bed. On Day Three, I was LOVING living by myself. By day five, I had found my groove. I was garage sale shopping on the weekends, eating really well, avoiding caffeine and going to bed early (wow. on second thought… that isn’t really a “groove”; it’s the way quadruple bypass survivors spend their recovery period. What a bag o’ fun I am. Jeezus.) Anywho, by week two, I was starting to get lonely. Shopping for goofy old records is fun and all, but it’s more fun if there’s someone by your side. ‘Cause, you know. Snickering with your manfriend in public is normal. Snickering by yourself is sort of weird. I was finding myself having a thought, and turning to the empty space beside me where he normally would be standing… and then remembering. Oh yeah. He’s on the ocean. And I can’t talk to him right now.

And that sucked.

By the beginning of week three, I was feeling this feeling that I hadn’t really ever felt before. It was this… I-don’t-want-to-ever-be-without-you-feeling. Not in a desperate I-can’t- live-without-you sort of way. Just sort of a practical “hey, this is stupid for us not to be together” way.

Can I get a little woo-woo with you, Internet?

The older I get, the more I believe that the Universe speaks to us just like we speak to each other. If you listen closely, you can hear what It’s saying to you. Sometimes the Universe whispers. It says: you might want to get those cute shoes at that boutique you just passed on the street. They’re not going to be here next week and you’re going to kick yourself for not buying them.

And sometimes the Universe cold cocks you right in the face. It gives you a heart attack in the middle of the freeway to remind you to call your kids more often, or it makes your adrenal glands stop working properly to remind you that you’re not living the way you should. The point is that the Universe has a cadence just like our spoken language does. And not all revelatory messages from the Universe are light-bulb-over-your-head moments. Sometimes our moments of truth come in very subtle, very quiet ways. And this was one of those times. When I thought about being without Mr. Burdy, the Universe just very quietly and matter of factly said: you should be with this guy for a long, long time. It’s that simple. Stop fighting the simple and beautiful truth of your life: you have built an amazing life with this man who treats you well, who loves you for all you are and is excited to meet your future self too. He is generous, he is kind, he is going to make an amazing father, he listens to you when you talk about what needs improving, and he knows how to celebrate what is good in life.

A word about the institution of marriage and the the non-linear nature of my life:
not being married was, on the surface, a part of my fist-raised-to-The-Man defiance of the conventional… but it wasn’t the whole story. Sure, I think it’s utterly ridiculous that being gay in this country means that you can’t be married legally, and, yes, I was making a political statement by not engaging in a practice that was being denied other perfectly qualified members of our society. But, really, my biggest reason for not being married was that I couldn’t define what marriage MEANT to me. And my reasoning was that so long as I didn’t really know what marriage meant, I didn’t have any business being married.

Our friends have teased us over the years about not being married (we’ve been together for just about twelve years now)… about how were were probably secretly plotting to never be married. Or that maybe we had some plan to be the very last people in our circle of friends to be married just to prove a point. The truth is far less entertaining. Plain and simple: we were just children who weren’t ready. Children who had not really figured out how marriage would make our lives any different. Life was comfortable and we’d never really had to make a decision. We were together and that’s all that mattered, right?

I can’t say we’re any closer to understanding what marriage means. I just know we’re committed to finding out together.

When we made the announcement to my family, two of the questions my little (taller) brother shot back at us were: why did it take so long, and why now? And those are the two most profound questions we’ve been asked since making this decision. I think it occurred to each of us, independently and simultaneously, that this is what we should do. Something changed in each of us while Mr. Burdy was on that god-forsaken sailboat.

Victoria asked me before I boarded that plane for Hawaii whether or not I would say yes if Mr. Burdy asked. I said, without hesitating, yes, of course I would. But if I am going to be totally honest, I have to admit that I’d spent many hours thinking of ways to say no. I’m spilling the beans here, on the Internet, because I think it’s necessary to talk about this stuff in our marrying culture. Our relationship has meandered through quite a few profound twists and turns. We have been through couples therapy, and through individual counseling. We’ve broken up and we’ve gotten back together. We’ve had some awesome times together, and we’ve had some truly dark moments together. We both come from wounded families, and that has played no small part in delaying our decision to take the next step in our relationship. I have gone back and forth in my mind for years about whether or not I’ve made the right decision in being in this relationship for this long.

As a writer, I am moved to draw out and dwell upon ALL the feelings associated with commitment- not just the rosy invitation and dress-picking-out euphoric ones (though, euphoria definitely has a place in this whole thing!) I want to claim a spot at the marriage table for those of us who are still trying to figure this out as we go along. I want to be totally honest about this whole experience because I want to expose love for the journey it is. I want to use more than “scared nervous happy excited” to describe my feelings. Because sometimes I feel three of these at once. And other times I feel nothing at all. I feel completely neutral. Sometimes I feel solid and grounded and like I’m making the most natural decision of my life, it feels that effortless. And sometimes I start to literally hyperventilate thinking about about being with one man for the rest of my life. Scared and nervous don’t even being to cover these emotions.

Before Hawaii, I thought about telling CLH things like: you’re too late, sucka. Or, that he’d already had me for this long…. so what the hell would a commitment ceremony really mean when he’d gotten the milk without having to buy the farm for thirteen years or so? Besides which… there were logistics to think about. What coast to be married on, for beginners. The thought of having to suggest hotels and plane fares and pick out flowers made me want to stick my head under a pillow. One thing you can do really well out here amongst the evergreens here in the Pacific Northwest is delay your adulthood indefinitely. And we were doing that very well, thank you very much.

But in the moment, when he actually asked me, when it came right down to it, none of the “no” reasons came into my head. Of course, I might have been thinking HOLY SHIT WHAT AM I AGREEING TO, but I was feeling that right alongside YES! FINALLY! I’M SO EXCITED AND HAPPY! and the decision was obvious: of course I would marry him.

So here we are. Muddling our way through what it means to have nothing change and everything change all at the same time.

I’ll tell you all about how he did it (and how I saw it coming but was still surprised) in Part II.

*You can read Mr. Burdy’s version of events here.

Love Is In The Air… Literally

Thanks to my fiance* for taking this. I happened to notice this while I was on the phone with Quickbooks customer service this morning. See what happens when you pace while you’re on the phone? You notice insects having sex on your windowsill.

Also? The velvet plant has sprung a few new blooms!

*Wait. Did I just type that? Yes, Internet. Yes, I did. WEEEEEEEIRD.

Letter To A Tropical Fruit

Dear Papaya,

Let’s just start over, shall we? I know I called you all those horrible names at that breakfast bar at Macchu Picchu, but I think we should move on. I know, I know. You have every right to hate me. I practically projectile vomited you all over my traveling companions, but, so what, Papaya? Every friendship goes through a few rough patches, right? Okay, so, maybe “You taste like puke” is not something you say to a fruit you’ve just met. I apologize. I was young. I didn’t know.

Brazil? Why are you bringing up Brazil? Alright, so I was much older then. It was many years after Peru, you’re right. So I avoided you in Brazil like the plague. So what? Let’s face it, Papaya. You taste like throw-up when you’re overripe. And Peru scarred me for life. Plus, that lady at the hotel was feeding you to the local birds, so, really, how good could you have been? Imagine if you were all excited to eat fresh tropical fruit for the first time and it was early in the morning (and you don’t do mornings) and you were standing in the midst of an ancient mountain range and you had piled your plate high with eggs and toast and brightly colored chunks of juicy, beautiful fruit as you prepared your body and spirit for a trek into those mountains. And then you closed your eyes slowly and bit into those exotic pieces of fruit, and instead of tasting God’s candy, you tasted… well, you know what you tasted like, Papaya. I know you’re trying to emulate your svelte relative, the mango, but, ummm.. you are not a mango. You are mango’s ugly cousin in a stained muumuu and you really just don’t smell that good. I’m sorry, Papaya! Somebody had to tell you! I KNOW I’m supposed to be apologizing! Calm down! I’m just trying to be honest with you! You see? This is why we haven’t spoken in almost fifteen years.

I know you feed a good portion of the equatorial world, and that you’re rich in all the sorts of digestive enzymes that my body needs, but ever since that time in Peru, I have not wanted to go near you. Your green self I can handle. Covered in lime and salt and fresh chilies and tossed with onions and maybe a string bean or ten? Awesome, Papaya. We can totally hang. But that mushy fruit thing you do? Gross, dude.

I’m over it now. I’m a changed woman, Papaya. I just recently found a variety of you in Hawaii that I really like: the strawberry papaya. And for two dollars for SIX of you, well, even if you DO taste a little like stomach acid, I can’t resist a bargain. You know what goes really well with you? Strawberries. And mint. In the blender. Yum.

So let’s be friends, Papaya. I promise not to hate on you any more.

Now, if I can just get Guava to answer my emails…


Internets, I have about five minutes in here before two small children figure out I’m awake and available to play another round of Baby T-Rex vs the Power Cord (or whatever the hell superhero name the kid is calling himself), so this post is going to be a slapdash mess of bullet points.

I’m in New Mexico with Victoria, Dan, and their two lovable children. I’m playing part nanny, part friend, and part punching bag on this trip. Victoria invited me along because her mom, at the age of 53, is graduating college (Go, Mom!) and the whole family is convening to celebrate. I get to spend the next few days taking in the beautiful scenery of the desert, soaking up the sun, and avoiding “shark bites” (Oh, you don’t know what a shark bite is? Ask a nine year old). The youngest of Victoria’s kids has one of those classic kid laughs, the kind a sound effects guy would pay millions for. Anyone who hears it laughs too, it’s that contagious. The air sickness, the turbulence through Tuscon, the whining and the constant demands for stories? It’s all worth it to hear that laugh.

The little guy LOVES to be told a good story. He regularly asks me to tell him stories. And since I am a master at weaving together hyperbole and moral values, I oblige. We started the day yesterday with the tale of Bozo The Pickle who gets lost in the desert and mistakes a saguaro cactus for his mother. Somehow, via the magic that is a small child’s imagination, “Bozo” morphed into “Bonzo“, which morphed into “B-Bonzo-Bean”. So this morning, I woke to the sound of small children thumping around in the next room and “B-BONZO-BEAN!!!” You’re welcome, Victoria.

I went through another round of blood tests and a two hour medical interrogation from a new doctor a few days before I left for this trip. We are no closer to figuring out why my ear and neck feel like they are stuffed with fiberglass insulation, but we did find out that my iron and cholesterol levels are dangerously low. Did you hear that America? MY CHOLESTEROL IS TOO LOW! I’m pretty sure this gives me license to eat an unlimited amount of cheeze puffs and onion rings. I’m on an iron supplement right now, but I also (drum roll please) have agreed to eat small amounts of meat here and there. Did you hear that, mom? Mother of mine who thankfully doesn’t read this blog because I would be able to hear the I TOLD YOU SO from across the country? I am going to have a tiny bit of bacon for breakfast. Because my cholesterol is too low! Because I haven’t eaten meat, except for the tiniest bits here and there, in FIFTEEN YEARS. And because I lay in bed at night and think about the end of the world and whether or not burglars might take all my shit while I’m at work and whether or not that stain is going to come out of my shirt. It wasn’t just that I’ve eaten a mostly organic, high fiber low fat vegetarian diet for the past fifteen years. I WORRIED the cholesterol out of my system, Internet. I fucking dissolved the stuff right out of my veins because that’s what chronic stress will do to your body. It will eat up the very building blocks of your body until you a trembling mass of overworked nerves. I suddenly doesn’t feel so bad having that second helping of nachos yesterday.

CLH is more than halfway home! I miss the hell out of him. I was given the okay by the captain’s wife about a week ago to send daily text messages to the satellite phone on the boat, so I have been sending a haiku every day for the past week. The update from the boat is that the crew is apparently craving hot showers. They encountered FOURTEEN FOOT swells earlier this week (I had to fight back the urge to pass out, puke, and convulse all at once typing that), and they are having a BLAST talking to the Flying Pigs ham radio operators. Thank goodness they have more than each other to talk to. I’ve heard that the waves, the sea-sickness, the hard work, the lack of fresh fruit, the sunburn, the constant movement…. it’s all manageable after a while. It’s the monotony that eventually does you in as a sailor. So, thank goodness for people who understand how to work a radio. I’m sure it’s the altitude change, the fact that my neck is a compacted mess, and the fact that we really haven’t stopped moving since we landed in Arizona 48 hours ago, but I think I’m feeling sympathy sea-sickness pains. Can that be? Burdy? I miss you too, but quit rockin‘ the boat, would ya?

I Heart The Sixties

I’m a real sucker for the advertising stylings of the Sixties. The extra lengths advertising executives went to to make you feel like you’d just purchased the world’s greatest whatever-it-was… Astonishing, really. Sixties, you had me at Gold Tassels On Your Owner’s Manual. Check out this little gem:

The Lady Shavex. There were actually two of them on display at the estate sale. The other one was baby blue and looked like it had been used maybe once or twice. But this one? It looked it had never been opened. Just to keep the whole thing contained on my way to the checkout table, I stuck the razor, the cord and the tiny, tiny container of “hair powder” into the handsome gold carrying case. When I got to the register, the lady charged me for a “clutch”, which I thought was charming. I paid for a clutch and I got a razor for free.

What in the hell would make a person buy such a thing? Nostalgia, people. Plain and simple. My mother, when I turned 13 or so, handed me a very similar box, and told me it was a gift from my grandmother. I was “becoming a woman” back then, and apparently, I would be needing an antique shaving device that worked by vibrating the hair out of your follicles, it was that fucking loud. I tucked that thing down, way down, beneath the pantyhose and slips in my sock drawer and vowed never to shave my legs (or whatever other region of my body it was for… arms? neck? belly button?) It went missing in the era between “We Are The World” and Young MC’s “Bust A Move” and I never thought about it again.

Fast forward to this weekend. I’m standing knee deep in a room full of Christmas decorations and books about weight loss at an estate sale and all of a sudden I see the Lady Shavex and I am overcome with this burning need to replace that razor of my youth with this shiny new one. I convince myself that having an electric razor would be preferable to the disposable plastic razor I currently use. I fork over a dollar for the privilege of ownership, and I am in seventh heaven.

Sometimes I wonder how far women have come in being able to announce our hygiene routines to the world. I mean, the men’s razor CLH owns rests in hard-backed silver briefcase, for God’s sake. The thing weighs something like 14 pounds. And the razor itself? A massive black buzzing phallus. If they could find a way to engineer it without imposing bodily harm, I’m pretty sure men’s razors would be shaped like mini-chainsaws and would come with leather work gloves and a tool belt. Why do women have to hide the fact that they ALSO remove hair from their bodies by putting the instrument in a gold bag? (Suddenly, Mad Men is making a whole lot more sense to me. This is Peggy Olson’s doing, isn’t it?)

I showed the whole set to my friend Ruth who immediately burst out with, “OMIGOD! It’s the GOLD BAG!” Turns out, growing up, her family must have owned the Lady Shavex too… only the bag had been requisitioned for things like tweezers and nail files and the Lady Shavex was free to roam the linen closet. That’s right. HER Lady Shavex was all “WHAT?? THAT’S RIGHT! I’m A RAZOR, suckas! I don’t hide in no carrying case! I don’t know why that particular razor talked like Rosie Perez. Sometimes razors are tough like that.

I gave it the test. There were two settings: legs and underarms. To be honest, I didn’t give it much of a chance. I thought: well, it’s not going to cut as close as my disposable lavender colored Lady Schick, is it? Well, Ladies, it did. My legs are silky smooth and I didn’t even have to use the icky hair powder!

Another Sixties favorite of mine at estate sales: cookbooks. The pictures of creamed EVERYthing in casserole dishes accented by things like silver coffee services and doilies just DOES something to me. Maybe it makes me long for the days when everything could be solved by just the right ratio of cottage cheese to pineapple rings. There is just something so reassuring about these recipes. The text around them is always so damned encouraging. There was no concern for any one’s impacted colon, just the way their reaction to your sour cherry and lamb souffle made you feel. “Your hot dog casserole will be sure to please the WHOLE crowd, young and old alike!” “Your teens will sing your praises if you interrupt their yearbook committee meeting with a tray of Tang and deviled ham sandwiches!” “Your husband’s poker buddies might be tempted to ask you to join them with this ham and artichoke bake!”

Johnny probably won’t have any problems snagging a girlfriend later on in life after THIS cake.

THIS cookbook, however, had some “advice” for the new housewife. Little nuggets of wisdom to help her through her day of dumping cans of cream of mushroom soup over cans of ham before she hit up the medicine cabinet for her “headache” pills. Take this one:

The text reads: “Dr. Samuel Johnson once said, “A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek”. Most families would agree with Dr. J.”

Good point, Dr. J. Better to be full of Mayonnaise, Frankfurters, and Olive Puffs than to listen to your wife. After all, what could SHE possibly have to say? It’s all Greek to us anyway! Am I right, fellas? Am I right?

When I was growing up, I almost never saw my mother consult a cookbook. She pulled out the tattered ol’ Betty Crocker Cookbook around Christmastime to get her cookie recipes out (I still use those same exact recipes today when I make Christmas cookies), but I never saw her actually read a cookbook the way I read my cookbooks. Thank God, too. I mean, my cookbooks are full of feel good advice about food and community and health tips and measurement conversions and whole sections dedicated to mail order addresses for unusual grains and beans and spices. No one’s telling me to shut my mouth and put a roast on the table because 9 out of 10 families agree that that’s my job.

Sally never took her chances with roving gangs of root vegetables. She always fired twice. Especially at the turnips.

See how far we’ve come? We still hide away all the accoutrement of our daily routine, but we can at least serve salad for dinner and not feel like complete failures.

I Can Now Cross “Help Birth Baby” Off the Bucket List

I hardly feel like I have the right to complain about how tired I am right now. After all, I’m not the rock star who birthed a baby in the middle of her living room last night. That honor goes to my friend Layla, who, while clutching the hands of some of her best women friends, her husband at her back, and her first child at her side, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Layla asked me some weeks ago to be a part of her home birth. My duty was to babysit her first child, whom I affectionately call “Neener“, while the new baby was being born. Neener didn’t need much hand-holding, though. She was as big a rock star as her mommy.

I, on the other hand, fell apart at the seams. I could hardly keep my eyes open past 4 am. I couldn’t sleep, either, as every capillary in my body was surging with adrenaline. I spent the rest of the night in my “catjamas” (as Neener dubbed them) alternating between heightened alertness and utter exhaustion.

But it was worth it. Oh, man, was it worth it. If I had any doubts left about what the human body is capable of, they were all dispelled last night at 3 am.

Welcome to the world, Kai Lucca.

Special thanks to Andrea for capturing this gorgeous shot.

Bye Bye, Burdy

Well, CLH finally left for Mexico this morning. Between the rants about garage sales and panic attacks, I think I forgot to mention this, um, enormous factoid: CLH is sailing 2800 miles from Mexico to Hawaii with three other men on a 47 foot sailboat and will be gone for about a month.

Hey! Guess what? I’m going to sleep diagonally in my bed for thirty days straight!

I spent the day volleying back and forth from smiling giddily over being a “free” woman for thirty days, and crying like a baby. ‘Cause, you know. I’m stable like that. NPR reports on a day of mourning for earthquake victims in China? Okay with me. Hearing the Eels song “Fresh Feeling”? Totally not okay. Total tearjerker.

I’ve been rattling around the house all day, which does not help at all with this sudden feeling of loneliness. I count on small things, like the smell of CLH’s coffee in the morning, and the soft computer glow and tinny music coming from his side of the office when I wake up, to get me through the day. When I woke up this morning (after driving CLH to the airport at the ungodly hour of 5:45 am. Seriously, how do you people with the jobs do it?) the office was cold and quiet and then it set in: no CLH for 30 days.

It usually goes like this for me: whenever we are apart for long periods of time, I miss him and weep intermittently for about four days. By day seven I’m like “Stan? Stan who?” Last year when I left for Burning Man, I cried silently behind the novel I was reading on the bus. I don’t know why I get so freaking emotional. It’s not like he was dead, or that I wasn’t going to see him ever again. It’s just that we spend a LOT of time together, and being apart for the first time in a long time was just felt, well, devastating.

Of course, the last time I left, I knew CLH wasn’t going anywhere. I knew he’d be at our apartment when I got back in ten days. This time around, it’s a little more serious. There’s all kinds of shit that can go wrong. Things like capsizing and shark attacks and injury and shit that only the Discovery Channel can design a mini-series around.

I have been trying VERY hard not to focus on all the things that can go wrong on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Did you notice I wrote the words “shark attack” and didn’t have to faint? That’s the NEW me talking. The new me who is reading a book she found at Goodwill in the self help section of the book department about panic attacks and anxiety. The old me would have needed to be cradled like a baby and told that shark attacks are few and far between (probably as frequent as alien abductions is my guess) and that CLH and his crew are going to be fine. The new me is convinced that everything’s going to be just fine WITHOUT needing to be cradled like a baby. Take THAT, anxiety! (high fives with adrenal glands).

Now, to make sure I’m using my Single Lady time to its utmost potential while CLH is gone, I’ve got a bucket list going (and I’m not even sure I’m using “bucket list” correctly here so excuse me while I go use the Internet. {here’s me clicking open another window in Mozilla and Googling “bucket list” and grimacing}. Okay, I’m back. Um. I don’t want to give anyone the idea that I’m terminally ill. So maybe I shouldn’t call it a bucket list. Maybe it’s more of a finite to-do list.)

Alright, I’m so exhausted from lack of sleep my eyes burn. So here’s just a few things:

Do a detox diet
Take trapeze lessons
Lose ten pounds
Write a children’s book
Update this blog more often
Clean out the ‘fridge

Some of the things are more thrilling than others. You can’t believe how excited I am to clean out the ‘fridge.

Goodnight, sweet Burdy. I hope you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Greg, You Loser

It’s Saturday, so that means CLH and I have our own breakfasts. (He has a lumberjack’s plate of eggs and potatoes and bacon and toast and coffee and I had a cup of tea and some old M&M’s I find in the bottom of our snack drawer). I do what I do every Saturday morning after I make my tea: I sit with my laptop at the kitchen table scouring the Internet for estate sales in my neighborhood.

Estate sales, in my opinion, are very different from garage sales. I’ve spent lots of time rooting around in dilapidated produce boxes full of old Christmas decorations and doilies like a hungry raccoon in a garbage can, so I should know.

Garage sales are goldmines for people who want to refurnish their apartments with dated, well-worn couches or who have lost every cord to every electronic appliance they have ever owned and need replacements. If you ever need either of those two things (or several dozen novelty mugs or maybe a gajillion books on how to lose weight, find Jesus, or how to program in HTML), then garage sales are for you.

But if you want to find a framed painting of president Kennedy, 27 pristine vinyl albums of Scandinavian Folk Songs, and a decades old collection of Avon men’s cologne bottles shaped like ram’s horns, antique cars, and various sports equipment* in one house, then estate sales are your thing.

*real things I’ve found at estate sales.

I don’t usually “do” garage sales unless I’ve thoroughly investigated the estate sales in the area. I think it’s because the estate sale people are different than the garage sale people. The words are in their ads are spelled correctly, their lists of items for sale aren’t fifty unreadable miles long, and the ads are usually inviting, friendly even. They include phrases like “Lots of good stuff” and “Great deals to be had” (a nice departure from the usual non-grammatical run-ons for garage sales that include vague threats in all caps like “I WON’T HELP YOU CARRY THIS STUFF OUT SO YOU’D BETTER BRING YOUR FRIENDS. AND A TRUCK. I WON’T HELP YOU. SERIOUSLY. I’M PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE”.)

I think it’s because the estate sale people are type As. And borderline hoarders. And that’s cool with me. I like visiting with “my people” on the weekends.

Today, though, I skipped the usual estate sales and since the weather was getting nicer (you know, fifty-degrees-instead-of-forty-nicer. Nicer as in I’ll-wear-my-scarf-and-winter-coat-but skip-the-hat-today nicer) I decided to visit only the outside sales.

And, oh boy.

There was the lady who wove (is it even possible to weave going 11 miles an hour?) down the street clearly looking for the same garage sale we were. I parked almost half a block away, walked, and still beat her there. She was, meanwhile, using up half the street and all of her might to parallel park in a space about 75 feet long. ‘Cause, you know. She pays taxes. Why not use the whole road?

There was nothing good at this sale. Terrible Parking Job Lady, though, seemed VERY interested in an old-school compression powered paint gun. As part of her punishment for making me wait in the middle of the street for a totally not-worth-it garage sale, I was secretly hoping the thing would discharge in her face while she stared down the barrel. Garage saling makes me competitive. Forget sports. And academics. If you really want to unleash my inner tiger, put me in a starting gate alongside a half dozen middle aged women in mom jeans and appliqued sweaters and see who comes running out of there first. I am NOT afraid to shove when there’s cheap crap at stake.

The next to last garage sale featured a a garage sale classic: Mr. This Stuff Is Too Good For You Guy.

“Greg” was sitting in his garage wearing sunglasses and listening to his Walkman when we walked up (I know his name because he shook my hand after our deal and told me his name and that I should check out his “other stuff” tomorrow as well, at the Fremont Sunday Market). There were like maybe 20 things for sale, and they were all jumbled in boxes, stacked in no particular order, sprawled out over one quarter of the garage. The rest of the garage was full of boxes of… wood. I think. Something an urban garage shouldn’t be full of. Weird. Anywho, the whole time we were there, he kept talking about how awesome this “other” stuff was that he had somewhere else.

This guy was a pro. He must have been able to smell when we were about to direct our attention elsewhere, because as soon as we did, he launched into a oral history of the thing we were looking at, waxed poetic about how it was one of a kind, and did we need a replica of the Starship Enterprise? Because if we did, he had one. It was worth a lot but that he would be willing to let it go for less. And then, if he we even so much as opened our mouths to protest about the price, or the “need” for whatever he was offering, he vacillated between wanting to stroke the thing lovingly and letting it go for a bargain. And if there’s one thing I hate more than the people who write garage sale ads with bad punctuation, it’s people who try to convince me that the crap I’m rooting through like a hungry raccoon is worth hundreds of dollars and that I should feel bad for offering them less than that for their crap. You know what, Greg? If this record of Kabuki music I’m holding in my hand is so rare and expensive, why is it here, in this mildewy box, next to a car buffer and a golf ball puzzle? You don’t want to take my lousy dollar bill for your stupid record? Then why are you selling it? If you like it so much, why don’t you keep it? WHY DON’T YOU MARRY IT, GREG? Oh, you’ve got more stuff, Greg? Oh, I’m sorry. Your buddy has more? Well, where is your buddy and his “stuff”, Greg? See, this is the way capitalism** works: If you want me to give you money for something, you need have your goods in front of you, in real time, with a price tag on it. When I go to the supermarket, I usually make sure my bag of oranges is in my cart before I hand the cashier my credit card. And when I fill up my car with gas, I buy it from a gas station that has gas to offer, not one whose “buddy” has some more gas around here somewhere…

**Okay, this is not how capitalism actually works. This is how it should work. Collateralized Debt Obligations and Credit Default Swaps? Yeah. They don’t count as capitalism. They’re just straight up gambling hall adrenaline junkie bullshit. Just sayin’.

Anywho, we managed to convince Greg to take our crumpled five dollar bill for the records we picked out, and I have to say, they’ve been worth every cent. Especially this one:

It’s worth two bucks just to stare in awe at this guy’s cigarette ash and wonder what Jedi mind tricks he was using at the time to stand so still. Or what in the hell they make cigarettes in Asia out of…

Warning: Side Effects May Cause You To Vividly Recall The 5th Grade

I don’t know if it was because of clairvoyance or pure dumb luck that I asked for an asymmetrical haircut this last round at the salon. Because guess what’s good for hiding a forehead soon to be festooned with angry red pimples? Cute, sweeping bangs, that’s what.

My doctor warned me that the drugs I would be taking to help out with my poor, exhausted adrenal glands *might* make me develop adult acne. The drugs are hormones, after all. And what makes your adrenal glands able to finally put their heads between their knees and take a breather from all that running they’ve been doing for the last five years so also makes your skin return to its former pubescent state. Hallelujah. The body is a magical thing.

So, the diagnosis is this: I’ve been experiencing what’s called Adrenal Exhaustion. All that crankiness, that loss of libido, that tiredness, those panic attacks, the fainting, the insomnia… it’s all because my adrenal glands are overworked. Why? Because I’m a stress case. Quite literally. Most people’s adrenal glands are supposed to be used every once in a while when, you know, their child is about to be mauled by, say, a saber tooth tiger. (I think that’s what they told us in science class). Anywho, when your adrenal glands release adrenaline into your bloodstream you’re filled with an enormous, sudden, and temporary amount of strength and energy so you can punch that sonofabitch saber tooth tiger right in the snout, grab your baby, and then run 82 miles at top speed in the opposite direction.

MY adrenal glands, because I am prone to anxiety and because I can’t manage my stress properly, are squirting adrenaline 24 hours a day. And those adrenal glands are tired. Like tiiiiiiiii-red. Like dog tired. And this causes me to feel both panicked and unable to move at the same time. MY adrenal glands are exhausted from making adrenaline around the clock. To boot, the adrenaline-producing part of my brain is actually STEALING hormone-building chemicals from OTHER hormone-producing areas of my brain so it can keep making that slow trickle of adrenaline constantly. So, the hormones (like serotonin) that make me feel all good and loosey-goosey? Not being made. And the sex hormones? Well, let’s just say CLH has had a very rough year.

To illustrate: Your adrenal glands are probably being manned by two 1930’s era circus strongmen who smash them occasionally with comically large mallets, thus releasing adrenaline when danger approaches. My adrenal glands are manned by Droopy Dog and probably look like two crusty dried up balloons.

And there’s your science lesson for the day.

Thanks to my new doctor, though, I FINALLY feel restored and alive. Eh, so what’s a few pimples? I mean, sure, getting ready for work in the morning is a bit of a joke. No amount of sophisticated black dress and chunky, modern jewelry hides the fact that my skin is blotchy and red like a 13 year old’s. I’ve never been one to wear a ton of makeup, but these days I go through several ROUNDS of cover-up.

Given all the bizarre medical tests I’ve had to endure, the months and years of not knowing what the hell was wrong with me, the chronic ear pain, a few zits is a very small price to pay for feeling better. And I DO feel better. That “depleted” feeling I was experiencing is all but gone. My energy levels feel restored. I’m working out at the gym several days a week. I’m seeing a new chiropractor now, too, so maybe my neck bones (which currently look like a crushed soda can) will get straightened out. And then maybe my ear will get the hint that the REST of me is tired of being broken and it will step into line.

For now, I’m reducing (at my doctor’s advice) my dosage of the hormones, and I’m styling my hair so that it hides a good chunk of my face in a melodramatic, angry punk rocker sort of way. If I’m going to be sporting the skin of a 5th grader, I think I should be able to sport a hairstyle from one, too.