Saturday, November 16, 2013

It's Just South of Schnauzerville


It's me, Winston J. Schmidt.

I've been keeping pretty busy with this new thing I wanna talk to you guys about. It's pretty exciting. Suzanne and Mr. Wolf went out of town a few weeks ago, and I got to go to this really awesome place and hang out for a couple of days. There were other dogs, and all kinds of smells, and you'll never guess what happened next.

They made me the Mayor of Chihuahua Town.

First, I tried out for the office assistant position, and I thought I did a pretty good job of it, because I didn't eat any of the office supplies, but they said that I was there to have social time with other dogs, not be an office assistant.

I make friends wherever I go, but I wasn't expecting to be this popular. The nice lady put me in with the huskies and shepherds, and I hung out with them for a bit, but then I thought, "Hey, you know what? Other dogs might like to get in on the Winston action, and I could use a break."

The fences at the most exciting place on Earth are kinda low (standard dog park height, and this is why we don't go to dog parks - ed.), so I hopped over them until I found a bunch of guys who were more my speed, and we hung out. When the nice lady came looking for me, she found me with a couple of mini schnauzers, a Pomeranian, a dog that looked kinda like my favorite fleece toy, and some chihuahuas. They ran around me and barked, which I didn't used to like, but then I figured it was O.K. because we were all having so much fun. It was the coolest.

The nice lady tried to put me back with the big dogs, but I kept jumping, so she finally gave up.

When Suzanne and Mr. Wolf came to get me, I jumped over another fence and ran to the door to greet them. I told them all about the other dogs, and how much fun I had there, and then I climbed into the back seat and fell asleep for two days, because, you know, a guy gets tired. Being the Mayor of Chihuahua Town is exhausting.

In conclusion, I really like that place, and I hope I get to go back there more, because they need a guy like me to keep things lively.


Winston J. ‘Bug’ Schmidt

Friday, November 15, 2013


"My skirt looks short because I have long shins," I'd said, and now, water rising around me, I laughed as I remembered her disapproving scowl.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Also Known As

I used to wish I had a different name. I'd pick a friend's name and pretend it was mine, testing out being a Jill or a Michelle. I'd say my own name repeatedly, until the sounds didn't make sense anymore and it sounded strange. I don't know who I thought should be a Suzanne, but it wasn't me. 

I've had people try to modify it, especially recently. Red calls me Suz, which I'm surprised that I like. Jeri's older son called me Zanne before he could say my full name. I'm trying to get the twins used to it, so that they'll use it when they start talking. 

At Starbucks, Black Bart always gives his name as Rocco. It's nowhere near his real name. The clerks get it wrong most of the time. 

"It doesn't have a K!"

"It's not your real name. Why do you care?"

"Who spells Rocco with a K?!?"

I tried out Audrey for a few weeks, but couldn't keep up the charade. "With an E?" they'd ask. Not quick enough to lie effectively, I'd say, "No, no E." Audry. Who spells it like that? I went back to my own name,but the barista at my morning Starbucks was too embarrassed to admit that she didn't know it without being prompted. 

So I got this. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Yes, I STILL Knit

"The only thing I can see us disagreeing about is that I'm an aggressive minimalist," he said.

"I kind of am, too. I mean, I don't have stuff falling out of closets, or five storage units that I'm not telling you about, or anything. But...I have a lot of yarn. And I don't knit very much anymore, because I spend a lot of time hanging out with you and talking, and it seems kind of rude to knit instead of looking at you. And, well, I have a LOT of yarn."

"How much is 'a lot'?"


I should get back into knitting. This little hat is the only project I've completed this year.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Metro


"Uh huh?"




"Oh my God, what?"

"I need a Manhattan. Mr. Wolf just said that he wants to go out with me, and I think I want to go out with him, and we were just at Metro, and that's why you couldn't go, because he wanted to tell me, and you couldn't go anyway because of the babbies, but anyway, you weren't there, so it was just us, and he said that he'd always--"

"Drink this."

Gulp. "--always had a thing for me, but - that was delicious, thanks - BUT we'd always been with other people, and now we're not, but he's moving to Las Vegas in, like, two weeks, so I'm going to have to figure out how to fit bi-weekly flights from Oakland into my budget, and I had to drive right over here and tell you, because holy SHIT."


"Mister. Wolf. Wants. To. Date. ME."

"Now I need a drink."

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Battery Drain

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Dude! You just got Rijned!

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"You got two Vermeers and a Frans Hals! Why is that only worth 45 cents?" said nobody on a gaming floor, ever.

"See, babe, what makes that funny is that Rembrandt died destitute, and...wait, that's not funny. That's not funny at all. Now I'm sad," said I.

Meanwhile, somewhere on the UCSB campus, an Art History grad student is knocking on a locked door during office hours and getting no response. On the other side of the door, head in her hands, Dr. Ann Adams is quietly weeping.

Friday, November 01, 2013


If I found a million dollars, I don't think I'd be any happier than I was in this moment, playing with these little guys. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Canon Fire

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I treated myself to a new camera earlier this week. I haven't had one of my own in years.

The Nikon was Peter's, and I encouraged him to take it with him when he left. When we met, he'd just decided to give up being a photographer in favor of a more practical field of study. Business economics is about as far away from the creative arts as you can get.

Over the years, I'd try to get him to pick the camera up and take pictures of anything. Everything. Just shoot. "It doesn't even cost money anymore, not like when we were kids and we had to buy film and paper and chemicals. Just go out there and press the shutter a few dozen times. See what happens!"

He couldn't do it, though. He had the photographer's version of writer's block. We'd go into the City for the day, and he'd take maybe half a dozen shots, then put the camera back in the bag. He just didn't feel it anymore. He loved being an artist, but he denied that part of himself for so long that I don't think he remembered what that passion felt like anymore. I sent the camera away with him in the hope that he'd get it back. I still hope for that for him.

The first thing I did after I unpacked my new Canon was race outside to get a good picture of the Molly Flowers. My phone camera can't capture red yarns or pink flowers without making them look like they're florescing, so I haven't been able to share them before now. They make me think of her. They make me happy.

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Burnt Chocolate

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Chocolate Cosmos

One year ago today, I was up in Seattle, alone in a bar at the Sheraton, getting very, very drunk.

I'm still wrapping my head around how much had happened by that point last year, and how much has happened since.

So much has changed in my life. I've changed so much. Most of these things, for example, aren't true anymore. I wear skirts most of the time now. I paint my nails. My hair is longer than it's been since early in college; the Execu-Bob is a thing of the past. More than that, I felt like I knew exactly who I was back then. I'm not so sure of that now.

At least there is one constant about me, one thing that never wavers. I don't remember to water plants. Not long after I took the above picture, that chocolate cosmos suffered a fatal blow. I moved it to a sunnier spot on the deck, because it was getting powdery mildew. I then forgot to water it for the three hottest days in August. Maybe it'll come back next spring.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The New Season

Thanks, fortune cookie! I think you're onto something.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Maraschino Red

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"You should knit a Bitter Sweater of Self Gratification!" said Red.

"A what?"

"A sweater that says, 'You're an idiot for leaving me, but I don't care, because I look totally hot in this sweater.'"

That sounded like a fine idea, so I started Joan McGowan Michael's 'Laced Front Sweater' from 'Knitting Lingerie Style'. The problem? It's taking forever to make any progress. All that ribbing is a real bitch. I've been working on it since Black Bart broke up with me. By the time it's finished, even factoring dating hiatuses, the hotness of the BSoSG might be directed at any one of half a dozen dudes. Maybe it won't be directed at anyone by then, because I'll be done being bitter. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


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For a few weeks earlier this year, I was seeing the guy who developed the app pictured above. I guess I'm not seeing him anymore; it's been a month since I've heard from him. It's a thing I'm learning. People are capable of vanishing from each other's lives without explanation.

Anyway, he developed the app, and I downloaded it the day it was released. The next day at my desk, I aimed the camera in four different directions and captured four different palettes. These are the colors the camera picked up.

Later that evening, I showed him the results. He looked at me thoughtfully through a cloud of peach-scented vapor from his electronic cigarette. "How does this make you feel?"

"Dead inside!" I replied with false brightness. He was still staring at me, so I continued talking. I knew if I thought about it any more deeply than that, I'd start crying, and that wasn't something we shared, he and I. "Whatever creativity left in me is being sucked away, and my thoughts are becoming grey. I think I'm getting...stupider? Is that a word? I don't even know anymore. So...dinner?"

I've been thinking about it a lot lately, how far away from myself I've grown, how to come back around to where I want to be, to who I want to be. I feel like I keep stepping off in the wrong direction.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Road Noise

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Why do I think of all of the best words to write while I'm driving? Where do they go when I get out of my car?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Black Bart took this picture of me a few weeks ago.  We'd already broken up at this point, but we still got together for coffee and cocktails.

Our romance didn't last long enough for me to write about it.  Still, there was a comfort in whatever our relationship was and had become, a familiarity wholly disproportionate to the length of time we'd known each other. I felt like I'd been his friend forever.  I still feel that way. I hope that doesn't change, although I know that it's already shifting.  He pushed me away, but can't stand the idea of me moving toward anyone else.  It's only a matter of time.

"You look beautiful in this light," he said.  I didn't see it, but I let him take my picture anyway.  Not a serious picture, of course.  I can't allow that.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Comfortably Numb

Seattle, October 2, 2012
It almost happened without me realizing it.

I'd always despised it in other people, drinking when they were upset, or bored, or alone. I had never been one of those people. I never drank by myself. I never followed the phrase, "God, I could use a drink," by actually drinking. I'd say it as a joke, then quickly dismiss it as such. Many evenings, Peter would open a bottle of wine, and I'd drink a Coke instead of having a glass with him, to quietly prove to myself that it was a choice, that it was always a choice.

"It's a false comfort. Whatever's wrong is still going to be wrong in the morning. You deal with it or you don't, but getting shit-faced isn't going to magically set everything right." I tried to drink myself to sleep the night that Molly was killed, but, in truth, I only got through a beer and a half before stopping myself. "It's not going to help. I'm just going to wake up in a few hours and be hung over as well as horrified. I need to feel this."

But something in me cracked last year, after losing Mol, and Uncle Warbucks dying, and the stress of being awakened at 3:00 almost every morning for work, and the aftermath of what I refer to as "The Montebello Incident." It was a helluva summer, and I dealt with it on my own as best I could, given that I couldn't talk to Doc about any of it, because, as everyone saw coming months before I did, Doc and Peter had started dating.  By the time October rolled around, they were in the middle of a long, romantic trip across the south of France.

Sitting in the hotel bar in Seattle while Hardt attended several days of conferences, I quickly became very comfortable with drinking by myself. I'd drink waiting for him to finish for the day, and we'd have a drink before falling into bed, asleep before we could even say goodnight to each other. I'd wake up at three in the morning, work for an hour or two to fix whatever had broken, take a nap, get up after Hardt had left for the morning session, and start over again. I drank because I was stressed, because I was bored, and because I was all alone and far from home.

That particular morning, I took my computer down to the restaurant with me, because I had to do yet another writeup of the Montebello Incident. ("We were sitting at a table in the hotel lobby, and he suddenly reached across the table and asked if he could kiss me. When I told him no, he did it anyway. Yes, it made me uncomfortable. No, I didn't tell anyone right away, because we had work to do, and I needed him there to do it, and I'm a professional.") I ordered a Bloody Mary, because it seemed like the thing to do. When it was finished before I'd completed my writeup, I ordered another one. I'd ordered the first one because I thought it would be a funny story - enjoying a drink that had so much garnish on it, including three olives and a couple of cocktail shrimp, that I could barely get a straw through it, while typing out the ridiculous encounter from a couple of weeks prior. One Bloody Mary made for a funny anecdote.  But there was no good reason for ordering two.

I don't remember if Hardt and I even saw each other that day. He might have gone to dinner with other members of his leadership class, while I sat in the bar and drank Salty Dogs and the beer pictured above. I know that I paid for all of them myself, because we were there on his company's dime, and I couldn't charge anything to the room. I could go back and look at my credit card statements, because everything I personally charged while we were up there was liquor, but there's no point. I know that it was a lot.

The next day, after downing several vodka martinis while Hardt grew increasingly distant, I fell apart completely. Total emotional breakdown that culminated in him telling me that I should take Ambien so that I could sleep, because I was "turning into a little crazy person."

"I'm not crazy!" I wailed. "I don't want to be crazy!"

He stood at the foot of the bed while I curled into an anguished ball, then walked away. There had been no comfort in the drinking, and now, frustrated and pissed off, he wasn't going to give me any, either. We broke up not long afterward, for a number of reasons, that day being a big one, at least for me. I was so ashamed of where I'd gone with it.

When I got home from Seattle and looked back at that trip, I was mortified. I hadn't done anything like that before, and I haven't done anything like it since. I have a full bar, thirteen cases of wine, and three kegs of beer in my house, but I rarely drink more than half a pint of ale a week. I don't even joke about "needing" one anymore.

 Comfort, No Joy
My mother is an alcoholic. For as long as I can remember, I've been disappointed by her unwillingness to acknowledge it, and her inability to do anything about it. My childhood friends tell stories about her drunken proclamations that they were like daughters to her, and they laugh when they tell the stories. I laugh along with them, although it isn't funny to me. They haven't been around it as adults. They haven't seen her get mean. The last time she got drunk in front of me was the last time that we spoke. It's been more than a year.

So much of my life has been spent trying to be different from her, trying to be what I think of as stronger. But I can see how it would be so easy to let go of the reins.

It almost happened without me realizing it. Almost.

Monday, May 06, 2013


This is where I find him when I wake up on the couch at five in the morning.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Couch

June 7, 2012 - the beers I drank the night she died.

"Because it's all on me. There is literally nobody else who can take any of it from me," I said.

"What if, even though you think nobody can take any of it off of you, you allowed someone to be near you, holding you up while you carried all of it? What would that feel like?"

"I don't know," I replied. "Weakness."

"Take a look at how you're sitting right now."

I'd only been seeing Amy for a week. I'd made the appointment after Molly died, after she was killed in the street sixty yards from my house. I thought that I needed someone to help me deal with the trauma, and that was the only reason I was there, but as I'd imagine is often the case with therapy, it wasn't really about that one specific thing. She knew that as soon as I walked in and sat on her couch. That's where I was perched, leaning forward, hands on my elbows, elbows on my knees, sturdy in my pose, but also guarded.

"You are hugging yourself, supporting yourself. Do you ever let anyone else do that for you?"

"No, because I don't need it. I'm strong enough to not need it."


"Because if I let someone do that for me, I've given them the power to wound me when they take the support away. That's what happens. That's what always happens, if you think about it. No matter how long someone stands with you, there's always an end to it. I mean, ultimately, you die alone, right? That's not bitterness or mistrust. It's a fact. And everybody has their own shit to deal with. How can I, in good conscience, ask someone to take mine on in addition to their own, when I'm perfectly capable of handling it all myself? I'm stronger than most people. I'm the strongest person I know. I shouldn't need that. Need is bullshit."

She let me go on like that for a couple of minutes, my hands tightening around my elbows, my spine straight and stiffening as I pressed harder against my knees, not collapsing over myself so much as readying for the next thing to come at me.

"I want you to think about what it would feel like for you to relax your shoulders against somebody," she said. "Let go of yourself, lean back against the couch right now, and just see what that feels like."

I thought that was the dopiest thing I'd ever heard. Let the couch hug me. Jesus. Still, I didn't want to dismiss what she was saying, because what I'd been doing wasn't working.

I gingerly touched my back to the pillows, in much the same way I would have put a toe into a hot bath, testing for pain. Slowly, I pressed deeper, until I felt the chenille wrapping around my arms, conforming to the shape of me, almost like hands squeezing my shoulders. I closed my eyes and let go of my elbows, laying my palms flat on the cushion.

"What does that feel like, being supported?"

I couldn't answer her for a few moments, because I suddenly found myself sobbing. Finally, I choked out, "Comfort."

"Can you allow someone else to do that for you?"


Monday, March 25, 2013

Yes, I Still Knit

So much catching up to do!