Friday, December 23, 2011

How to Disappear Completely

Two weeks tomorrow.

I spend most of the day clearing out the office, going through all of the drawers and little corners where things collect. I go through every pocket thoroughly, even when I get so weary of the task that I want nothing more than to close the drawer back up, put the lid back on the box, come back to it tomorrow. I sort through every stack of paper, pull down every picture and postcard off of the memo board, read every letter and birthday card. Many of them go into a box in the garage. I cannot bring myself to get rid of them, but I am compelled to pull all of them down.

I move around the rest of the house, but there isn't much left anyway. One drawer in the buffet and half a dozen snapshots in frames. I change out all but two of the pictures. If my printer worked, it would all have been done today. I resolve to find another printer tomorrow. I clear out the buffet, and there isn't even anything significant enough for me to set aside for him. Expired coupons and a handful of screws. Only clutter.

I wander around again with a home staging eye. Have I missed anything? If someone new walked through, someone who had never met us together, would they have any idea? Did I leave a note tacked on the refrigerator, or some little trinket that hinted at a marriage? But no, aside from those two photos on the stairs, there is nothing.

I have erased him.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Thoughts on a Wednesday Morning

"There's a point where 'I will show you how amazing I am, and you'll (love me more/be sorry you did this to me/be humbled by my coolness)' becomes simply 'I am amazing.' Not to make it all about me, but I know that feeling, because I've had it for a while now. It's why I know that I'm going to be O.K.

"And why I know that you are, too."

- Me to Doc, December 7, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011


You're never too old to make a hand turkey.

Maybe too drunk, but never too old.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winston's Review: Horstia Maulbeerseide-Schurwolle


It’s me, Winston J. Schmidt.

I finally got a chance to review another yarn, because Suzanne hasn't learned that I can reach as high as the top of the pub table, even though I dragged her 40-year-old Raggedy Ann down from there and, well, things happened. Look for my review of Raggedy Ann yarn hair in the future.

Squirted! Squirted right in the FACE! I like it when it's not me!

Molly? I didn't get squirted in the face, because I think Suzanne kinda wanted me to do that so that she wouldn't have to make tough decisions about her dirty, old doll. Also, you have to throw a whole bucket of water on me to get me to stop doing stuff, which makes the squirt bottle kinda useless. And she didn't catch me with the yarn, so there's no proving that it wasn't you, even though you're not tall enough to reach up on your hind legs like a velociraptor and grab stuff off the counter, and you don't like yarn. So you didn't get squirted in the face, thanks to me making it ambiguous. You're welcome.

Anyway, I got a chance to review this ball of yarn, so here's my assessment.

Yarn: Horstia Maulbeerseide-Schurwolle

Yardage/Weight: 50 grams per 100 meters

Fiber Content: 50% Silk / 50% Wool

Color: Like, um, pasta? You guys, it really did look like spaghetti, and if a guy can't tell the difference, then you can't hold it against him for trying to eat it, right?

Texture: Single-ply, and sort of shiny and squeaky, and I hate to keep saying it but it really did look just like cooked pasta when it was sitting on the floor, where it just happened to fall after I gently brushed it off of the tall bar table with my face. I watched Suzanne try to untangle and re-roll the ball, and it looked kinda like it was already getting fuzzy and felted, and I don't like that stuff getting stuck in my jowls.

Flavor: Disappointing, because it didn't taste buttery or salty. After my last review, where the yarn had notes of barnyard and grass, this one was kind of a let-down.

Mouth Feel: Silky and slippery, and a little past al dente.

Review: Suzanne really likes this yarn, I guess. She made a sweater out of some of it that didn't look like pasta a few years ago, but then she accidentally felted it, which I could have told her would happen, since I did it just by chewing on it. A few years ago, when she heard it was discontinued, she bought, like, fifteen balls of it in this mustard color, even though she thinks it's going to make her look like she has jaundice.

To me, it's just O.K. It doesn't break easily in my mouth, and it doesn't taste like much of anything. Once I tangled up the ball a little bit, I lost interest in it. If she does make something out of it pretty soon, I probably would try to eat another ball, but it wouldn't be as good as that sheepy stuff.

In conclusion, Suzanne thinks it's great, but I wish she'd let me review more angora.


Winston J. ‘Bug’ Schmidt

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Old Roses

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ween's Dahlias

Monday, November 14, 2011

Garage Door

I saw this while I was out stomping around today. I don't know why it affected me as much as it did, but I stood in front of it for several minutes before I took the picture and moved on. As I walked away, I thought, "I am a miracle. I AM."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Frosty Treat

Someday soon, the foot that made this print will be wearing a sock made out of this yarn.

Lake Tahoe Yarn Company Superwash Sock in Pink Roses and Milk Chocolate. It looks more like Neapolitan ice cream to me, which makes me just as happy.

The sample in the window was simple and very stripy, which wasn't bad, but I'm thinking of something with a little more texture. I'm open to suggestions, if anyone has a thought about it. I've got one skein.

Yes, it added to my stash, but I couldn't resist it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Three Wishes

I have three wishes you guys! The wishy thing was supposed to be yesterday, so I hope I'm not too late!

First, I wish that every day could be Burrito Monday, because that's when we get tortilla chips. I LOVE tortilla chips.

Second, I wish that I had a room full of red velvet throw pillows. I love those things!

Third, I wish everyone had it as good as I do, because you guys? I have it pretty good. I get chippy snacks, and nobody yells at me when I haul the red throw velvet throw pillows around the house, and Suzanne tells me I'm a BEAUTIFUL PUPPY, like, all the time! Yay!

Anyway, those are my wishes. Thanks!



p.s. I look all wrinkled because I'm wishing REALLY HARD.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pieces of What

Accountant Boy with Doc's dogs - November 11, 2011 - Truckee

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SuzannaBanana's First Snowman

Hey, kiddos! Belligero Clown again. This is me up in Truckee last summer. I'm not up there with the kids right now, on account of Doc's dogs maybe seeing me as a chew toy. I'm hoping next time, though. The little chick and I never even walked on snow before, so this was the first snowman she ever made. It was cool, no pun intended.

And check out how the snowman matches me. Dig those crazy eyes, would ya? Advil gel caplets. Yeah, the kids took 'em back down when we left. No mountain creatures took any anti-inflammatories on our watch.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Small Acts

Yesterday, I rescued a nightcrawler from the sidewalk. "Get back in the dirt, dumbass," I grumbled as it writhed away from the brittle oak leaf I was using to nudge it. It bucked away a bit longer, finally wrapping itself around the leaf's stem. I dropped it into the grass and watched it burrow down for a minute, then walked on.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Monday, November 07, 2011

The Great Train Caper

Hey, kids! Belligero Clown here, or, as I’m known on Facebook, “Belligero Klaun”, because the little chick doesn’t want anyone to catch on that I’m not a real goddamn boy or something and delete my account.

With all the kitchen sink drama and whatnot, you might be getting the impression that nothing fun is going on around here. It’s getting kinda morose, which is like a fist to the poly-filled jewels for a clown like me. What’s my raison d’etre if it’s not seeing people happy? Yeah, I said raison d’etre. I went to goddamn college.

Lately, the little chick’s been having a rough time, so I started whispering suggestions to her in her sleep. I might have failed to mention, but I moved up from the lingerie drawer a few years ago, and now I have a snazzy pad in the nightstand, so I’m pretty close to her ear. What? It’s not weird. It ain’t like I watch her dream or anything.

Anyway, I may have planted some ideas in that great big noggin. I’d say, “Work from home today. Haul your ass out into the sun, because that’s why laptops were invented.” Or, “Today, why not celebrate happy hour in Central time? You work with a bunch of broads from Nebraska. Who’s gonna know?” Or, “Go get that nose piercing you always wanted. You’re a wacky dame. Fly that flag, toots!”

This one is the one I’m most proud of pushing. “Jump on a train to anywhere. Drink some beer. What the Hell? You’re not driving the goddamn thing, am I right?” Damned if she didn’t do it. Here’s how it went down.

The little chick and her friend Ween were out in the cul-de-sac chatting, as dames do on a Thursday in the middle of the day…

Clown? No fair. Ween works nights, and I was on a lunch break during a work-from-home day.

…which was my idea, so you’re welcome. Like I was saying, The little chick and Ween were outside chatting about bon-bons and feminine products and, I dunno, chick stuff, and…

Hey! Knock it off with that sexist bullshit.

What? You want me to tell everyone you were having a roundtable about the economic crisis in Greece? How long’s that story gonna hold water, honey? I got the pictures.


Yeah, that’s what I thought. So the two of them hatched this plan to take the train to Sacramento the next day and wander around there. I don’t understand the appeal of wandering around a place that doesn’t have dancing girls and free booze, but whatever. It counts as travel, and I get to leave the drawer for travel, so I’m game.

They go to look at a rental house for Ween, because she and her old man are splitting up and moving out of the court. They spend a little longer than they should deciding that the place is an irredeemable shithole, and pull away forty-two minutes before the next train leaves. The little chick knows a thing or two about train travel, and she knows how long it takes to get from Hell-and-gone out beyond her old house to the train station in the next town, so it’s not like she ought to be surprised when it takes forty-five goddamn minutes to get from one spot to another. We get to the train station, and wouldn’t you know? The train’s pulling away. It’s not entirely an accident, is what I’m saying.

“Maybe that’s not our train?”

“Ween, that’s our train,” I hear the little chick say. “The trains out of this station follow a pretty accurate schedule. Trust me, we missed it. The next one isn’t for two hours. Hmmm…two hours in Martinez…and we’re not driving…”

I know where she’s going with this, so I’m not surprised when she pulls me out of the bag a few minutes later and we’re sitting at a bar.

Creek Monkey Tap House opens at eleven, and we roll in there at ten after. The place smells like Pine-Sol and dishwasher steam. Ween’s in the health care field, so she’s pretty jazzed about everything being so tidy. We set about screwing that up right off the bat.

At this point, the little chick’s had half a waffle and a cup of java, and not like she’s eating all that much anyway, because she carries all of her stress in her gut. So what’s the smart way to start off the day? With a whole bunch of samples and a pint of the house brown ale. They don’t list the ABV on her pint, and she doesn’t ask, but let’s assume it’s pretty f$%king high, based on how things go later.

They order chicken wings, but that’s not much of a lunch. Here’s a weird fact about the little chick. She was so traumatized as a child, when her mom explained anatomy and locomotion to her by making a roasted chicken “walk” across the kitchen counter, that she has a hard time eating chicken off the bone. So even as many wings as they get, delicious as they are, aren’t enough to fill her up, because she leaves a whole bunch of meat on the plate.

And orders another Creekwater Brown.Ale.

They talk with the head Monkey for a bit, getting advice on their garage beer fridges and the foam situation. Doc’s trying to buy Ween’s fridge when she moves, now that all of The Chemist’s shit isn’t in her garage anymore, on account of they split up, too. Yeah, it’s been that kind of a year. No wonder everybody’s drinking. Point being, Ween’s fridge is blowing foam, and the little chick’s taps aren’t much better, so the head monkey hands us his card and tells us to give him a call so he can come around and straighten them out. Nice guy.

Then we realize that we’re about to miss another goddamn train, so the little chick shoves me back in the bag and we run back across the bridge to the station, the two broads laughing like crazy. We make it on board right as the train’s pulling away.

Stay tuned for Part Two: Hell on Wheels.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Way We Get By

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Coping. Coping My Ass Off.

One positive out of everything that's happening is that I've discovered that I like walking.

I'd always considered it an activity for people who couldn't handle real physical activity. "Well, at least they're getting out," I'd smirk to myself. I'd read studies that found little difference between jogging and walking, but never really believed them. How could something so simple make any difference?

In early August, my company launched an employee wellness walking challenge. My friends in Nebraska added me to their walking team, and I took it upon myself to lead us to victory. I quickly realized that our team already had a ringer in a guy who regularly runs several miles a day, so I settled in behind him.

And then, all Hell broke loose.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The man wasn't kidding. This is fantastically aromatic garlic.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Does the Hole Define the Donut, or the Donut Describe the Hole?

People expect this kind of thing from me, and I like to deliver.

"I don't want to give you my trash, now..."

"Anita, I promise that none of them will see a bin liner."

All three donuts were gone within five minutes. It was as though the Help Desk kids could smell them from fifty yards away.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Keep Your Secrets, Soothsayers

I saw this sign while I was out walking the other day. I did not turn right.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Flying Apart: One in a Thirty Part Series

This is going to be hard. This is going to be a really hard month.

Our twelve-year wedding anniversary was last Sunday. I don't know that we'll be together for another. A.B. says that we've grown apart, and I guess I can't disagree with him if I didn't see this coming. How do you spend eighteen years with someone and not notice when the wall goes up between you? How did I not notice?

Everything is changing so fast, and I feel adrift on the sea with no sign of shore in any direction. If I've never mentioned it, one of my greatest fears is of the unfathomable deep.

So, it's November, and I'm going to try for NaBloPoMo again, but I don't know how it's going to turn out. Some days will probably be funny, some days will be angry, some days will be like this one. Some will just be pictures, since I got a new phone and am crazy about the camera. Some might even be about knitting. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saturday in the Park(ing Lot)

If you look out beyond the scarf-in-progress, you'll see Accountant Boy's back. If you look very closely, you'll see a rider on a bike even farther out. That's The Engineer, riding Doc's bike. He's bought a Harley, and is challenging himself to ride it every couple of days so that it doesn't get too intimidating, but he's getting his skills down on Doc's Ninja.

Me, I'm happy sitting in the shadow of the car, knitting and watching.

The scarf is longer than this now, about 17" and only a couple of rows into the second ball of five. I found a ball with the tag still attached, so now I can say that this is Ella Rae Camelsoft. It's lovely stuff.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Conversation via Text Message #2

August 28, 2011 - Operation: Absent Accountant Boy, day 5 -

Me: Deadbolt done, but the door’s giving me a little trouble.

Doc: Good news on the deadbolt! Which door – garage to outside world, or laundry to garage??

Me: Laundry to garage. The mechanism is too long, so the latch is sticking out. Wonder if it’s adjustable. Reading directions now.

Me: “Enlarge hole with file if necessary”? You f&$kers! F&$kity f&$k f&$k f&$k your f&$king file! I should probably stop and get a bite to eat, huh?

Doc: Which hole do you have to enlarge, btw?

Me: The round one. I think it has to be slightly more oblong so that the knob and the latch will fit.

Doc: That’s a big hole to make bigger. Does it have to be lots bigger?

Me: Figuring that out now. Weird how it doesn’t just work. The old and new are both Weslock.

Me: Ah! There is an adjustment. Yay!

Doc: Phew!!! That’s good news.

Me: Well, don’t get too excited, because I can’t figure it out. :-(

Me: Except that I just did. What is it with doorknobs and bad instructions???

Doc: Kind of like IKEA instructions. :-) Glad you got it, tho.

Me: I just pierced my own nose with a screwdriver. No kidding. Please come over.

Doc: O jesus.

You might be wondering how I managed to pierce my own nose, from the inside out, with a screwdriver while installing a doorknob. Here's the deal. I was trying to lever the mounting plate loose with a pair of slotted screwdrivers, because I didn’t realize that I could take the handle and the rose off after I’d snapped them into place - not having tried on the old knobs, because it was easier to cut the roses off with tin snips than to read the directions - and the smaller screwdriver snapped back and…you know what? It doesn’t make much sense when I try to explain it. The important part was that I pierced my nose from the inside out with a screwdriver, staunched the copious bleeding with a shop towel full of ice, then went looking for a bigger screwdriver so that I could exact my revenge on the doorknob. And by "copious bleeding" I mean "it won't stop long enough for me to tell if I've torn my whole nostril away from my face, so I guess we just keep going about our business and apply pressure". Which is what I did. Hardcore.

I was victorious, by the way. The new knob looks and works great, and my nose healed without too much trouble. I thought about popping a stud through there while it was open, a sort of jaunty reminder of my accomplishments, but the hole closed up too quicky.

When Accountant Boy saw the post on Facebook, he commented "Please for the love of God STOP! Somebody go over to our house and lock the tool chest!" I could almost hear him screaming from Australia. Sensitive to the fact that he might worry, being all the way on the other side of the world while I did God-knows-what to myself and the house, I managed to stay injury-free for the remainder of his trip. I got a lot of nagging projects tackled so that we wouldn't have to think about them every weekend.

I think he liked all of the work I did during Operation: AAA. I hope he did. It's hard to tell. Things have gone a little strange. But that's not today's story.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Return of the Ding

Odd summer. I don’t know where to start, so maybe I just won’t pick a starting point. We’ll jump in right here, right now, and we’ll catch up as we go along.

First things first, I won another contest! This lovely yarn, being modeled appropriately enough by our new friend Stone Turtle, came from Turtlegirl76. I was one of the many winners in her Heart Walk Donors’ Drawing. She did all of the hard work, and I got this gorgeous yarn. Not a bad trade-off. I think it’s going to become the center panel of Tenney Park.

“Wait, what? You mean you still knit? It’s not just a yarn collection out in the garage?”

Yes, as it usually does, knitting production slowed over the summer this year. It wasn’t for lack of trying; I did knit. I worked on Papeline for several weeks, stretching into months. When I finally got the body seamed together and worked the neckline, it was too small. This might have been casually related to me being too big. The jury’s still out on that one. Not debatable, the neckline was much too dinky. I think this was due to my gauge changing drastically between flat and circular knitting. I need to yank out that section and do something else, but I haven’t decided on the course of action yet. Finally, the arms are tight, really tight, because I have muscular arms for my size and…look, maybe it’s time to concede that I knit the wrong size, but I’m not ready to give up on it entirely just yet.

Thinking that knitting a great big tube sounded pretty good after the Papeline disappointment, I cast on for the Summertime Tunic. Back in July. Yeah, this is how far I’ve made it. It turns out that silk sort of tightens around Addi needles and cables in a particularly stubborn way, so it’s not easy to get into a grove and knit round after round. There’s a lot of shoving of stitches. I refuse, however, to stop knitting it, because I’m afraid that my gauge will change if I put it aside until next spring. I’m also a tad worried that I’ve knit the wrong size again, but I’m telling myself that this is not important right now.

Doc and I talked about “need-to” knitting versus “love-to” knitting a couple of weeks ago, as we both have a collection of each type, and the obvious point hit me like a screwdriver to the face. (That story’s coming soon.) I’m only going to get slower on the “need-to” projects, because my “love-to” itch isn’t being scratched. I have to have both, even if it seems like the “love-to” project is going to take time away from the “need-to” project.

Feeling good about this new direction, I went out to the garage and stuck my hand in a basket, drawing out a ball of this camel-blend yarn that I impulse-grabbed at Tuesday Morning last year. I saw a scarf at Forever 21 last weekend that looked lovely, cost about ten bucks. “I could make that scarf, and it’d be even better. Sure, it’ll cost more than ten bucks, and it’ll take me more than an hour to make it, but it’ll be camel instead of acrylic. Plus, it’s guaranteed to not be too small, because it’s a goddamn scarf. Confidence booster. I can’t lose, Doc.” We studied the stitches, which turned out to be simple K3,P1 across on all rows. I don’t know what it’s called, but it makes a neat rib. I’m now alternating between this and the Summertime Tunic, with no guesses about which I’m going to finish first. Probably this one. It feels good, and I’m having a good time knitting it. I sometimes forget that those are two important things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Morning News

"Hey, Winston! HEY WINSTON! Are you awake?"

"Not really, no..."

"Wanna hear a SECRET? A super-SPECIAL SECRET?"

"I'm kinda, you know, sleeping right now, and there's only a few minutes where we get to be on the bed before Suzanne and Accountant Boy go to work, so..."

"But it's the BEST secret EVER! Pleeeeaase? Please ask me what the secret is! C'mon!"

"O.K., but then can I go back to sleep?'Cause sometimes a guy likes to nap in the morning, and you're kind of loud, and..."

"I am NOT loud! I'm joyful! Everyone loves my exuberance. So can I tell you the greatest secret EVER?!?"

"Uh, sure?"

"'re my best friend..."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Joy of Making Doc Laugh

I don't know what they were talking about, because I was at the other end of the garage talking to my neighbors. Half of me wishes I were there, but the other half enjoys wondering. Sometimes the mystery is as good as the reveal.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Where Do I Put This Jacket?!

From: SuzannaBanana
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2011 11:06 AM
To: Doc
Subject: Reverie del Taco

I had a dream last night, a dream too involved for me to thumb-type it out. It’s already fading from memory, but here’s what’s left.

I’m backstage at some event, a dance or club, or maybe the EE Ball 1997. That seems about right, since it was at The Gift Center and this looks like an antechamber I passed on the way to the ladies’ room. The room is small, with primed but unpainted sheetrock and beige office carpet. There are clothes racks, a box that used to hold t-shirts, and a couple of chairs. People are queued up, presumably to drop off their smoky garments to be dry cleaned while they go back out to the darkened, noisy club. There are two girls working at this makeshift dry cleaner, and they are dressed like extras from an episode of Law and Order, any episode of Law and Order where Brisco and Curtis have to go to what Dick Wolf imagines a rave would look like. Plastic skirts, four or five asymmetrical pony tails each, purple lip gloss. The line isn’t moving, because everyone in the line is too intoxicated to figure out how to move.

I am holding the jacket from Accountant Boy's favorite suit, the silvery olive one that he wears to summer weddings. I walk up to one of the girls and ask, “Where do I put this jacket?” She stares at me stupidly. I look down at the white folding chair in front of us, which has another sport coat draped across the padded seat. “Look, I see other jackets, and I’ll put this one with them, but I need to know that this is where they go. Is this where we are supposed to put the jackets?” She blinks at me, then starts talking to her friend. I ask everyone else in the room, but it is as if they are unable to process the words I’m saying. It’s not that they’re ignoring me. It’s that they cannot comprehend what I’m asking, as though they don’t speak my language, so they stare at me after I say something, then just turn in another direction. I am so frustrated that I begin to cry.

The scene shifts subtly, and now you and I are the ones working. I get the impression that you’re wearing some type of Be-Dazzled™ bra top. It’s got dark sapphire “gems” all over it. It looks lovely against your skin and with your hair. I am wearing something similar, but I can’t remember what it looked like, other than that we look a bit like cocktail waitresses at the Stardust.

I am still holding the jacket, and I ask you where it’s supposed to go. You keep responding in a way that isn’t a completely relevant answer. “Where does this jacket go? THIS one? The one I’M HOLDING?”

“We take in jackets. That is a jacket.”

“WHERE DO I PUT IT?! Am I not asking the question correctly? O.K., Suzanne, be clear and concise.” I stop and take a deep breath. You look at me intently, ready to try to listen and understand. I say, in as slow and measured a voice as I can muster, “I am holding a jacket. I would like to put the jacket down. Where do I put the jacket?”

“We clean jackets.”


“There is a jacket on the chair.”

“But do I put THIS one there, too???”

“You are holding a jacket.”

This scene is interrupted, thank God. Two guys come in and drop a very large suitcase on the floor in front of us, the kind that zips open from the side, like a trunk. There is a pile of cloth tied into a long, crooked roll in the middle of the case. Something wriggles under the thin canvas, and at first we think that it is a person. We look up at the men as they walk away. “Hey, you can’t leave that here!” They keep walking. When we look back down at the suitcase, the canvas has changed into long bolts of silk in tropical colors, saffron, lime and blood orange. The wriggling continues, then a tiny, tawny dog pokes its head out from under the fabric.

“Chihuahuas! Look at that one! He’s a little badass!” The little badass Chihuahua steps out a bit further from under the silk and looks up at us. He has big ears, big head for his body, and enormous eyes, but he doesn’t look weird for it, not alien. He’s clearly a puppy, but he’s already got some pretty good muscles on him. He stares up at us with cheerful defiance and wags his tiny tail at us. We laugh, delighted at his bravado.

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Plan

Twelve days...twelve days...twelve days...

The 100th running of the Bay to Breakers is happening on May 15th. I've been training for it for weeks, with a little more than one more week to go before I have to rest in preparation for race day. I'm worried, readers. Excited, but worried.

Bay to Breakers and I have a stormy past. The first year we entered, AB and I finished in just over two hours. That's an average of about 3.8 miles an hour, even with the slog of the 11.5% grade of the Hayes Hill and a "mandatory" stop at the bison paddock so that I could take pictures of them. Even at that pace, I bruised my toenails so badly that two of them fell off. We had not prepared at all for the event. My running shoes were too short, and neither AB nor I had run more than a mile or two at one time. We hadn't done any training on pavement. He could have finished faster, but he slowed to keep pace with me, and I struggled to keep pace with him.

The second year, we trained a little harder. I did more cardio at the gym, and trained with weights twice a week. AB did at least a couple of full miles on the treadmill. We still raced together for the first few miles, but I encouraged him to run ahead at mile 6, and he gratefully sprinted away from me. He finished at 1:32, and I finished a few minutes later. We felt great.

And that's when things went horribly wrong. "Let's walk back along the race route and see all the floats." I knew what AB really meant was "let's walk back along the route because I want to see the party that's going on behind us." I often think that AB thinks he missed out on a whole lot of the college experience by meeting me when he was so young. We didn't go to keggers, and we never went to Cancun. We studied, and we had jobs. We were responsible adults, which feels like a synonym for "boring" in retrospect. I feel bad for him, bad that the opportunity to experience the Spring Break culture passed him by. So, when the opportunity to be among drunken revellers presents itself, I sometimes cave in to his wistful suggestions.

So we walked back a couple of miles, and then a couple more. We ended up all the way back at the panhandle, stepping around people passed out on the grass and urinating in the street. What we'd neglected to factor into the plan was that these people had been drinking for several hours by the time made our way back down the route. Some of them had been partying for the entire weekend. It wasn't as interesting as he'd hoped it would be. It was actually kind of gross. "You wanna walk back to the buses, or catch a cab? Remember, the bus line is back at the park, so we'd be walking in the wrong direction to wait in line for an overcrowded bus full of sweating drunks." When presented like that, the obvious choice is to get a cab, right? We thought we'd walk up a few blocks to the Haight and hail one. Easy. We felt smart.

Who would have thought that it would be impossible to get a cab on race day, with fifty-thousand people jammed into the park or passed out within a mile of it? People with forethought, that's who. The cabs stayed far away from that half of the city that day. Well, we didn't know. So we kept walking, thinking eventually we'd see one. We were not carrying phones for some reason, so we couldn't call a dispatcher. Walking, walking, walking, periodically pausing at bus stops in case we'd found a line that didn't go near the park and wouldn't be full. Dozens of packed buses lumbered past us. More walking. Eventually, we came down to Van Ness and started to see cabs and half-full buses. "Well, we're so close now that we might as well keep walking, right?" We agreed on this, not realizing that we were still two miles from our car. I don't know if it would have made a difference if we had known. We were marching for the pride of marching at that point. We laughed merrily at our own stupidity as we skipped across streets and past confused tourists. "I think we took a wrong turn somewhere! Do you know which way we go to get to the race?"

We got back to our car at the Metreon, turned the heated seats on and drove home. When we got out of the car, we realized how much damage we'd done. Everything stiffened on the drive home. AB's legs would not straighten out, and my foot felt like someone was hammering a railroad spike through the right edge of it. We hobbled into the house - him hunched over like he had a hernia, me hugging the wall and hobbling - and fell on the couches, unable to get back up for the rest of the day. I had to hop up the stairs on one leg, because I couldn't put weight on my foot. Later, sitting at my computer with my leg up on another chair, I used Google Maps to plot out the hike we'd done. The race is 7.5 miles. We'd covered more than seventeen miles on foot.

Still, that was my best run yet at 1:38. "Next year, we're going to CRUSH this thing!"

For one of us, this turned out to be true. AB finished the race in 2009 in under 1:30. I took considerably longer, in part because it was hot that day, but in larger part because I didn't have him to pace me. We'd decided to run the race separately right from the starting line. I was proud of him, but very disappointed in myself. Things went awry that summer, with Daisy moving, my job ending, and the house needing so much preparation before it could be rented again. I got out of the habit of working out, and eventually stopped going to the gym altogether.

Last year, we registered and paid to race, then slept in. Our excuse was that we'd just taken Molly in and didn't want to leave her at home, but the truth was that we'd done absolutely nothing to prepare for it. I hadn't made any effort to stay in shape in almost a year. I was in the worst shape of my 30s. It was depressing. "We'll decide tomorrow morning..." We stayed in bed with our eyes closed until 9:30 the next day, neither of us letting on to the other that we were awake. Once it was too late to make it to the race, we got up and went to Starbucks. "NEXT year, we're totally doing it."

And that's this year.

I've been running at least twice a week for a few weeks now. I bought a treadmill when my beloved chick gym abruptly closed, and The Amazon's been giving me running goals each week. AB has also been running, and doing the Insanity DVDs. I did my six miles last night and, while it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, I'm not feeling at all bad today. I'm running on the road tonight, so that race day won't be the first time in two years that I've tried it. It'll be good, no matter how I finish. I keep telling myself that it's just one event, and that my REAL goal is to finish and not be crippled with sore muscles or plantar fasciitis for weeks afterward, and that's true.

But still. I want to crush this thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


My finger is still in its round-the-clock splint, three weeks having turned into six. Last week, the hand surgeon said that it was healing up well after what was probably a mallet injury, and that the ruptured tendon was getting stronger again and...wait, what? New injury, months after Suzuki-tastrophe 2010? Ruptured tendon!? I might have taken the whole thing more seriously if the word "rupture" had come up sooner. I probably would also have freaked right the f&*k out about it and irritated everyone close to me by waving my hand around and wailing in a play for sympathy and free beer. Mostly the latter. Maybe it's a good thing he didn't bring it up before last week.

When the splint is taken off, for five seconds so that he can put on a fresh one and retape it, my finger does look better. "Look, Dr. Schilling! It straightens out after I bend it. It looks almost as good as the right one."

"No, no-no-no-no. Leave it straight the whole time." He's a mild-mannered guy. That's as close to yelling as he gets.

"O.K., but I'm not bending it now. I'm just fluffing up the knuckle wrinkles so that they'll match the other pinkie..." I do not add "...because I am a weirdo," as I'm certain that he has already realized this. He redoubles his efforts to quickly lash a fresh piece of aluminum to my hand.

I couldn't stand being idle any longer, so I figured out how to knit with the splint covering half my pinkie. All I have do do is double-wrap the yarn around the base of it, and it doesn't seem to migrate up and get caught in the tape. Work resumes on Papeline!

Saturday, April 02, 2011


"Dark days, Sword-face. We've shipwrecked here on this desolate place, no friendly flag on the horizon for many a month. Without my sextant, I cannot but guess where we've landed. I foresee no return to the glory times."

"Cap'n, yer wallowin' terrible deep in the bilge. Chin up, sir! Always keep a weather eye on the horizon. Ain't that whatcha always say to us mates?"

"Aye, Sword-face, aye. But this time I be feelin' too low to lift my gaze o'er the rail. We've seen naught but hardship. My adornments have all shriveled and dried up, and there's no hope for their return. We be among the naked savage every day, threatened by the slavering beasties, wi' no hope of rescue."

"I dunno, Cap'n. This here ain't so bad. Warm air, dry land, and the companionship ain't lackin' in looks..."

"If ye be talkin' about the wench behind us, ye've proved yerself a fool, Sword-face. She don't e'en have a head. Not too companionable, if ye ask me."

"Well, sir, if ye asked me, I'd tell ye it makes her more companionable."

Hey! Watch it with that, boys.

"Oh, so ye've finally decided to come to our aid in our time of dire need? Awfully kind of ye, lass."

You know, Pirate Skull Planter, if I didn't know better I'd say that you were being sarcastic. And what's this naked savage business? I put you in the master bathroom because it was the brightest spot in the house and I put you up on the counter to keep Molly and Winston from knocking you around. We're not going to turn you toward the backsplash every time we get into the shower, you privateering prude.

"Ye couldn't have moved us when you moved the Greek wench onto the credenza? She made out a'right in that deal."

She's in a dark corner, near a heating vent. Not a hospitable climate for you, Cap'n. I thought being in the moist air for part of the day would be good for your "adornments", but they slowly died anyway. I am sorry about that, by the way. Clearly, I don't know how to take care of the easiest plants in the world to care for. Speaking of which...

"Might I inquire as to why we're havin' this impromptu reunion on the cask lid, then, lass? If we've all made berth where ye've seen fit to strand us, what devilry is afoot now?"

Speaking of which...

"I ain't too concerned about it, Cap'n. Long as the Greek wench ain't too far out of me line o' sight."

Speaking of which...

"Πάρτε αυτούς τους δύο ανόητους μακρυά από με!"

SPEAKING OF WHICH, I brought you all down here because I have a surprise for you. Pirate Skull Planter? You are a fine and true planter once more. I have once again voyaged to faraway lands for you, my good sir.

"Beyond the map? Ye don't couldn't mean...the Straits of Martinez Home Depot?!"

Yes. After braving the Narrows of Self-Checkout and crossing the vast Sea of Asphalt Parking Lot, I have returned from this magical place with treasures. And I bought special air-plant adhesive and fertilizer, so that your finery will remain a source of pride for many a fortnight to come. I'm going to keep at this until I get it right, Cap'n.

"Lass, ye've made my black, miserable heart a little less dark. My apologies for th' insults and such."

"I ain't makin' no apologies. Seems to Sword-face that everyone's gettin' a good deal exceptin' for Sword-face."

Sword-face, you're not being left out of the dividing of the share. How would you like some adorning of your own? You've been a faithful mate to ol' Pirate Skull Planter for so long, and you've probably seen more travel than he has, since you came from the untamed lands of Treasure Island. You've earned it.

"Much obliged, ma'am! Aye, this ain't a bad day at all for Sword-face! I got this fancy headdress, I got to look up that pretty wench's dress, and the cap'n ain't in such a bleak mood no more. Ain't a bad day in any accounting."

"Μπορώ να πάω πίσω στο credenza, τώρα; Είχα αρκετών αυτών των δύο ηλιθίων."

I can't get you guys back to your home port, because the facilities manager...uh...harbor master says that we can't have plants in the office because their soil harbors pests, and I won't risk your safety by smuggling you in. It'd break my heart if he threw you out while I was away from my desk.

"Aye, but we be unsoiled, lass..."

He be a hard man, Pirate Skull Planter. There's no reasoning with him. Can you make go of it in this new place?

"Aye...but could ye perhaps turn us around some of the time when ye're indecently exposed to the elements?"

It's a deal, Cap'n. It's a deal.