Tag Archives: new year

2013, Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

DSC_0089I only wrote 75 blog posts in 2013 (well, 76 considering this one is on the last day), partly because parenthood and partly because I was working on so many other things. My second child is due to arrive on March 1, my second book sometime before that (wish I had a date, ahem), and life at work is full of advocacy, budgeting, negotiations, and paperwork. I’m pretending I’m not stuck in the middle of a new novel project, because I can’t really call it new anymore if I’ve been working on it since 2012. I joined a board of directors for a former prisoner transition program that was desperate for funding before it was awarded nearly a million dollars in a settlement with AT&T for price gouging. I continue to field calls from people looking for resources or lawyers or therapists or a shoulder to lean on, and I wish I was a better connector for them. I would love to find some new music, or find music in a new way because Spotify’s recommendations can only take a person so far.

I’m doing my best to fit into Walla Walla and its tiny machinations of power and prestige, but I still dream about relocating all of us to a more metropolitan area where I won’t want to squeeze every person of color I see on the street and where we can meet other people like us who aren’t also urgently trying to find a way to leave. I keep having the sense that I’m in the middle of something, which is better than feeling like I’m at the end, I suppose. Maybe this is what middle age is—the experience of the mud in the middle. When I was 23 and dirt poor and on the edge of eviction, I dreamed that twenty years from now I’ll have it all handled, I’ll own a house and have a well paying job, and instead my future hasn’t met those class aspirations. I do value stuff a bit differently these days, which is either by design or by cause of condition. I get so much time with Emile and I have no regrets about that. Read More…

2013 New Year’s Resolutions

These are my personal resolutions, and my 2013 to do list. Feel free to share yours, comment, or examine. Thanks, 2012, for being a helluva year. And on to next year…

1. Be the best support I can be to the people around me who are suffering with depression–I’m tired and sad to keep hearing about acquaintances who have attempted or successfully commit suicide. So I am starting my list here, and I’m saying again in a public space that I’m around to listen, to troubleshoot, to talk, to help muster resources. I care about my friends and extended family, and I’ve been in that dark place. Life is so much better when one can get through those awful moments. Please talk to someone you trust when you really need a helping hand. If that’s me, I’m honored.

2. Be the best dad I can be for Emile–Parenthood, I’m learning, is about finding your kid where they are, and with the rapid learning curve my son has, I’m constantly on the move to ascertain where that is. He’s standing, walking, running, making sounds, then words, and last week, his first real sentence: “I want Momma.” Probably can’t go wrong there, kid. But I have to keep checking myself to keep my own issues out of his way, and I see that this is a lifelong tactic I’ll need to employ. So here goes.

3. Finish these two book projects–I’ve got a novel-in-progress and a nonfiction humor book, but darn it, there’s no reason I can’t put both to bed and complete them. I’d cross my fingers, but I need them to type. ALSO: Come up with some new damn jokes.

4. Get a pen pal–I have an idea where I’m going to start, with the Black and Pink program.

5. Make better connections to progressive thinkers and writers–Living in Walla Walla, 225 miles from Seattle and 210 miles from Portland, this is difficult. But I need to come up with something other than spending thousands of dollars flying around the country and going to the same writer’s conference. Better, more efficient, more purposeful are my goals. Maybe more regional meetups, maybe through setting up an event here in town, I’ll work on this. Read More…

How America Could Be Better in 10 Simple Steps

balloons, hot airPersonally, I’m not complaining about 2012. I published a book and one of my short stories was selected for the first transgender anthology in the US, and I’ve spent all kinds of wonderful moments with my baby, who is fast approaching the Defiant Toddler Years. 2012 was really pretty great for me, in that my candidate won another term as President, there are three more states with marriage equality on the board, and I got to go to some great cities, meet impressive people, run into Angela Davis and Alice Walker (sorry my stroller bag was in your way!), and read my writing to more than 500 people. But for many other reasons 2012 has been a terrible awful tragic year, and I lived through the trials, too. We all listened to that drawn-out, nasty election, filled with one sour sound bite after another, we saw the return of voting laws designed to stifle the electorate, and we watched a relentless attack on reproductive rights. The last two years have been nasty, with self-described conservatives vying for the attention of the most extreme right-wing ideals, their comments filling up the 24-hour news stations like a frothy volcano in a science experiment gone wildly wrong (which I suppose isn’t far from what their comments were). It’s hard to be inundated with incendiary rhetoric and news of the awful and still think we live in a great place. Forget best. We’re not the best country, we arguably never were, and I really don’t know why my fellow Americans keep insisting on this exceptionalism concept. But maybe if we can put our folly aside, we could carve out a renewed sense of community and “we’re in it together”ness that we sorely need these days. Here are 10 simple things we could do:

1. Turn off the pointed, partisan “news” shows—Most of us know that FoxNews isn’t either fair nor balanced, but MSNBC isn’t, either. It may feel good listening to talking heads from “your side” telling you what you want to hear, but it’s often inaccurate, and the skewed perspective only reinforces an “us/them” mentality that keeps us too distanced to listen to each other. I hate to use the word “old-fashioned” when talking about media outlets, but the old-fashioned, “objective” news rooms who fact-check every statement provides better reporting and has not set up its business model on the idea of partisanship. Who are these news outlets? That’s up to each of us to identify, frankly, because managements shift and reporters move around, but AP and UPI reporting are pretty steady, NPR has a mandate to be objective, and there are many foreign news organizations who are not beholden to US interests and so they tell it like it is. But please, shut off the Rush Limbaugh and the Chris Matthews. Go for a walk or something. Read More…

Drunk or Zombie? A New Year’s Guide

Many moons ago, back in Washington, DC, Susanne and I hosted a New Year’s Eve party. Without verbalizing it, we’d grown too old to find a night of uninterrupted dancing to a set of booming woofers interesting, much less achievable. I recognize that for some—I’m looking at you, 20somethings—it’s a painful realization. But my point isn’t about watching ourselves lose our Youth Cards, it’s about what happened after this party. At the time we lived a dozen blocks from Union Station, so I offered to give a couple of our guests a ride to the Metro, where they could travel the rest of the way to their homes. And we were nearly hijacked by a marauding band of zombies. No wait, they were merely drunk. Read More…

A smiley face seals the deal

Well, the surgery went well, and by “well” I mean that it took an expected two hours or so and ended with a repaired knee joint. The outpatient center was in its own way, beyond imagination — with comfy chairs and a fancy mocha bar (lest we forget we are in the Pacific Northwest). Susanne wondered if she shouldn’t just show up there from time to time to get some work done. 

After getting prepped via a series of 12,783 questions, 73 percent of which were “which knee is it,” I drew my initials on the left leg and added a smile. The surgeon was grateful I hadn’t sketched a frown, but honestly, how could I have gone into the experience with such negativity? After knowing this doctor for five months, he said he was a Christian and asked if we would mind if he said a prayer before the surgery. This inspired the following thoughts, in no particular order, but which occurred to me in something like 2.3 seconds:

1. All his training, residency, education, and experience, and he doesn’t find that sufficient? Is the prayer for the last nth percent chance that something will go wrong?

2. If a surgeon wants to have a prayer before going into the operating theater, for Pete’s sake, LET HIM DO IT. 

3. The Catholics pray so differently — so often for penance and nearly always from a standard script. Perhaps the Hail Holy Queen would suffice?

4. Was there a measurable quantity of irony I could point to here that this doctor was praying for my knee? Or just conceptual irony?

We told him to go ahead and pray, and he asked for good healing on my joint so I could go and serve others. That was a little presumptive of him, but I don’t technically have anything against that, per se, anyway.

I watched the ceiling go by as I was wheeled into operating suite 3. Now then, I understand that good doctors like to have their tools of the trade laid out neatly and orderly, but there is something about seeing the odd single-piece, stainless steel hammer on the table to give one pause. Great pause. I have had a lumbar puncture before, which means I have had a 10-inch needle inserted into my spine. Scratch that — I’ve had FIVE spinal taps in this life. I’ve had seven strabismus surgeries on my lazy eyes, one of which was, believe it or not, intentionally interrupted so that I could sit up and have the surgeon pull on plastic sutures she’d attached to my eye muscles so that she could “fine tune” her work. Having the sensation of one’s eye being tugged against the eye socket while having no actual feeling of pain has definitely been one of the odder moments in my 38.5 years on the planet.

But these surreal experiences pale in comparison to the hammer. Surgery was hammer time? Why was such an instrument necessary, exactly?* Gratefully, I was soon woozy with the poison — erm, anesthesia. The anesthesiologist seemed to get a kick out of not even asking me to count back from 10. I was there one second and gone the next.

Waking up some hours later I had the now-familiar queasiness from having whatever hellacious concoction poured into me. It took me three hours to get it together enough to get out of bed and get into the house, where I have now planted my derriere for the next three weeks or so. First the Blizzard of 2008, now the Knee Mending of 2009 begins. I’m sure it’s because I made no specific resolutions for the year other than to be open to new experiences. I should know to be extremely specific and not allow any definitional latitude. But nooooo, I had to say, “be open to new experiences,” blah blah blah, so that shiny hammers and titanium screws could wander their way into my life and my body and here I have to count them as wins in my exploration of new freaking experiences.

Be that as it may, I am on the mend. I have discovered, vicariously through Susanne, that Tallman’s Pharmacy on Main Street is chock full of friendly employees, that Oxycontin does not work with the needs of my stomach, that purple Gatorade Fierce turns green after only 20 minutes in one’s stomach, and that I was wrong when I thought that Washington State allowed marijuana for medical use.

So many lovely new experiences, it’s a joy to have arrived in this new year. Seriously, however, I am looking forward to four months from now, when my knee is expected to make a full recovery. Full recovery I can get behind quite easily.

*Those reading this who may know the answer to this question, please be alerted that I am asking it rhetorically only. I do not need any comments with technical answers.

Don’t let the door hit you

This time last year, Susanne was mulling a job offer to move out to what we thought at the time was the West Coast. And what we thought at the time would be a cute little house in a quaint little town with lots of promise of new adventure and experiences. Also last year around now I was finally starting to recover from a surgery and a subsequent major infection. I was itching to get back to the office and sink my teeth into some projects.


our xmas eve abode

our xmas eve abode



We received, in fact, all of our wishes. Susanne took the job, the house sure is cute from the outside, the town is indeed quaint, and we’ve had the new experience of purchasing and installing snow chains. We’ve also sampled some local wines and cuisine, met some new people, had a fun trip cross-country, and seen a major natural wonder up front and close.

Before we left DC, Susanne defended her dissertation and earned her Ph.D., we introduced our families to each other, we got married (twice, in fact), and hosted a whole slew of memorable parties and get-togethers with friends. I at least felt like a successful person loved by many and complete with two ACLs in my knees.

To say this past fall has been a let down would be a large understatement. It’s hard to move anywhere, let alone on the other side of a continent. It’s challenging to walk away from a very secure, well paying job and try to plant stakes with people who don’t know you or your reputation. It’s even more difficult to establish a new home on one good leg, and then you notice that all of these frustrations are combining with each other in this minestrone soup way and you can’t tell which flavor is which anymore, or what is really bugging you. Susanne had to get up to speed on the school, the climate of the college, the students, the new digs, and the increasingly grumpy partner. We have been stressed. We have been searching for the things that can sustain us — getting to know people, exploring our new environment, reveling in the nice things about our new town — but we do get tired and weary.

Spring holds promise. I know now that any such promise will come attached to things I’d rather not have to encounter, but it will be there nonetheless. Nothing so far in this life of mine has gone according to any sort of plan. I’ve learned more by trying to adapt or meet a challenge than I have in attempting to set things up a certain way and ticking off my lists item by item. So I adapt.

I remember the evening of my wedding, dancing with my darling, and thinking about all of what was ahead of us. Not just for 2008, but for 2018, and 28 and 38. There will be so much, and a lot of it won’t be easy, and I know that is tritely put. I am ready for the good things in 2009. They don’t have to come to me, necessarily, I’ll try to make them happen. I do seem to love a good struggle. There must be a fulfilling, good job out there for me. There must be a way to make our circumstances work — if not for 20 years, then maybe a few, in this town of many waters. I resolve to be positive-focused and forward-looking. But those things I thought of last July that I thought I would experience this fall — they haven’t happened, and either I adjust to new expectations, or I push harder to make things happen. In any case, I’m going to approach Spring 2009 differently than I did this fall. With the sense of adventure I felt on my wedding evening. Because life is what it is, and I might as well find a way to enjoy it.

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