Category Archives: Stupid things

Oh, this can be so many things, really. Actions, not people, usually.

The End of Days: Part 2

OK, I’ve never done a two-blog.  I try to be very concise.  Give you a nibble, not a 3-course meal with coffee.  But if I wrote ALL the strange things that happened to me on Saturday in one long blog, you’d hate me for taking up so much of your time.

So part two of my day.

Having survived a marauding lady deer, we continued our hike.  Anders loves to give me options of the routes we can take, and as I considered the two that he proposed, I wished that somehow we could end up walking past these houses that I’ve heard are perched up in the woods.  I mean that literally.  Occupants of these homes have to walk up long, winding dirt paths from the car park to get to their houses.  Cool in nice weather.  A bitch, I’m certain, in the rain with groceries and a crying child.   This thought had nothing really to do with the two options he gave me.  It just popped into my head.  I noticed it, and let it go.  Very Northern California of me.    We chose a direction and set off.

Now again, we do a lot of hiking.  Over the course of 20 years with this man, I’ve taken a million steps.  Most of them have been with a dog in tow.  Never has a dog of mine killed a defenseless bunny, but guess what?  Yup, today was the day.  She did one of her signature hop moves into a bush, I heard the distinctive crunching noise of something going very badly, and when I turned and gasped, she dropped the adorable, gray, still-trembling but very much in the last moments of its life bunny.   I stood there with my hands covering my mouth, muttering, “Oh noooo, nooo, nooo,” endlessly until Anders snapped me out of it and told me there was nothing to do.

My dog is now a bunny killer.  Certainly the world must be coming to an end soon, because this just was so not ok with me.  We continued on, and at this point figured there was nothing to lose to go down some new paths we had never tried before.  I mean, what are the odds of MORE strange things happening?  I let the man with the internal compass lead, and after having not passed another living soul for an hour of walking, we passed a mom and young girl in a deeply wooded area.  Soon thereafter the trail dead ended.  Unless this young girl was part goat, I’m at a loss to understand where they came from.   Because it seemed so … odd … we continued to look for the path.  Stomping through undergrowth and through a little creek, we realized that there was nothing on the other side and we needed to turn around.  As I looked down to pick my way back across the water, I noticed a submerged old glass bottle.  Now, I love finding old bottles in our yard.  It happens every so often, when we are digging somewhere, as our yard back during the turn of the century when this house was built was the dump.  And here were funky old bottles just half submerged in the muck, calling to me.  Cool.  Very very cool.  I dug up two and was going for my third when Anders told me it was getting dark and we needed to go back down the trail to find another way out.

Do you know where this is going?  The way out, a path we had never gone down before, was the SAME one I had wished to find.  We passed the houses tucked up on the hillside, and even some woman carrying up her groceries.  As we exited this area, there was a wedding reception in the grove of redwood trees, yellow lights twinkling and beautiful people in love.

Had my thought really manifested in this action?   On this day, it sure did.

So.  We made it home.  Didn’t get hit by a car, or see a streaker, or have any other animals burst into song.  It seemed that the crazy part of the day was over.  We made appetizers, I made a fire in the outdoor fireplace, we poured ourselves a nice glass of wine and sat down for a game of Scrabble.  A party at the house above us was in full swing, the happy conversations of young people laughing mixing with the music we had on the stereo.

I commented on how much I loved the moment.  Perfection.

Until the sound of something unexpected thunked off the wood trellis above our heads and smashed onto stone somewhere near.  And the party sounds above us ceased right about the time Anders screamed “Your Party is Over.”  My lame-o “That was so uncool” hardly encapsulated how un-cool it was.

Some dumb-ass drunk kid decided it was bright to try and pick us off with a missile of a glass Bud bottle thrown from 150 feet away off their deck.   Because it might have been the end of the world for one of us, and then it would have been the end of the world for the one left.

So, in review:  Deer.  Bunnies.  Glass bottles both old and uncovered from decades in the muck and new and thrown with a crash into our midst.  Ideas coming to life.  Weddings.  And yes, the cops.  In my house.  Any one of these situations would have made for a unique day.  You know, dinner table conversation.  But mixed together into a melange of strangeness, it qualified, at the end of the day, as quite a day indeed.

Was your Saturday as strange as mine?  Please tell me yes, it will make me feel better.


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Filed under Dead things, Silly things, Stupid things

What is Wrong With America

Need I say more?

First in the back seat of every mini-van driving up to Tahoe (because what kid could possibly just stare out the window and dream), then at the gas pump, then in my local Wells Fargo bank, and now in my bathroom.

True, it’s the Simpsons, but no.  No no no.


Filed under Stupid things

It’s the Middle of the Night

Why is the bathroom light on?  Why is the bathroom light on when I can hear snoring next to me?   Is Hans awake for some reason?  No, he’s right there in his bed.  So why is the bathroom light  on?  That’s weird.  Wait, there’s a light on downstairs too.  Jeeez.  AND the Christmas tree lights?  Power outage.  Anders is mumbling something about a power outage around midnight.  Man, people are going to be late for work and school tomorrow.  Glad I have one of those battery operated alarm clocks.  Don’t want those electro magnetic waves all up in my brain as I sleep.  Sleep?  Yeah, that would be nice.  Maybe if I roll over onto my side and tuck in the cool side of the pillow I will fall back to sleep.  I wonder what Sophie would like for Christmas?  I mean those gift cards are great for kids, because who do I think I am picking out something for a teenager?  I wonder if they even liked what I got them last year.  That was a nice shop I visited last year when I got her gift.  What in the world is blinking in my office?  Why does my printer blink like that?  And then pause, and then start blinking again?  I just saw those electro power off devices in the drawer in the kitchen today.  I wonder how much current and kilowatt hours those things draw during the night?  We have a SmartMeter now, and so I should probably do something about that.  Yes.  Definitely.  Tomorrow I will pull out those auto power shut off things from the kitchen cabinet and put my 2 phones in the office and that silly blinking printer … there it goes again … and the computer on one of those things.  And when I go to bed and GO TO SLEEP I will turn it off.  Well, actually, I could do that when I leave the office for the day.  Yeah.  I’ll do that tomorrow.  But what about the Airporter wifi that is right below Hans’ bed downstairs.  That article talked about that being bad for kids brains … and it is right below Hans’ bed.  Yeah, need to do the same thing with all that stuff downstairs.  Then when Anders COMES TO BED at night, he can turn it off when he comes up stairs.  Maybe if I find some velcro and put it right there by the light switch when he comes up stairs for the last time, he can just flick it off.  He won’t remember.  He’s going to think I’m a freak.  But that article.  Maybe if I show him that article.  What the heck is blinking on my ceiling.  That was a blink, right?  I’m not just seeing things?   I should roll over.  Yeah, I’ll roll over and snuggle with Anders, who is snoring so softly.  And there goes Roxy, with her long drawn out sigh.  How cute.  I should record that somehow.  How could I do that?  Bring a recorder to bed, and just record the silence? She’ll do it at some point.  I wish I had more sounds of Hans when he was little.  I should tell Cammie that.  Record the baby.  For old times sake.  They’re both asleep.  This feels night to be snuggling.  But I’m still awake.  Really really awake.  I always think this position will be good.  Like, how many times do I think this will feel good enough to fall asleep, but it never does.  Never does.  I’ve got to turn over on my right side, away from him, and tuck that comforter under my chin just so.  Or maybe on my back.  Yeah, let’s try the back.  What is blinking up there?  That is definitely a blink.  Fire alarm.  Yeah, cooking those pork chops tonight set of the fire alarm.  Crazy loud, that thing is.  I need to remember this year to get Kim something cool for Christmas.  Every year she does something nice for me and I don’t have anything for her.  God, that makes me feel stupid.  Can’t do that this year.   It feels nice that I have good friends.  Cammie is such a natural.  I mean, when she scooped up Jade like that and started tickling her?   Should I just get up? Pee.  I’ll go pee and this will be better.  And put on some lotion.  This bed is hot.  I have too many covers on.  What time is it?  Where is my clock? I bed Anders grabbed it before he went to bed. I hope he did, otherwise I never wake up in the morning.  Is that rain on the skylight above the bed?  Yup, definitely a bit of rain?  And some wind.  Why don’t I hear my wind chimes.  Isn’t that funny?  Thomas hates wind chimes … Tomorrow I’ll have to go and make sure they’re not wrapped up in the tree.  No.  Can’t hear them at all.  I can barely even hear the fish pond.  These double insulated windows are the best.  Really do their job. Keep the noise out.  I should probably get another fish for that poor lonely gold fish in the pond.  I mean, one day he’s got a mate, and the next day … blam … raccoon and no more friend.  He’s probably in some state of suspended animation because it’s getting cold now.  Where is Hans’ winter coat?   I wonder what time it is, really?  Why aren’t more people buying my book?  I should do more events.  And did those post cards that I sent out, I wonder if that woman is putting them out.  I need to call her.  Tomorrow.  I’ll call her tomorrow.  Ooop.  More rain.  Sounds nice.  Now THERE are the wind chimes.  Ok.  They aren’t hooked around the tree. That’s good.  I won’t need to fix that.  Should I do a Christmas card this year? It’s been a while.  Why can he snore like that?  Left side.  Try the left side.  Cannot drink tea like that at 3 pm.  I mean, stupid.  So stupid to do that.  Did I turn on the dishwasher before I went to bed?  I think so.  Oh no… did I put Hans new hat into the dryer?  I don’t think I saw it … because that is wool, right?  I think it’s wool.  And it would suck to shrink it.  I could put in a load of laundry, because with that Smart Meter it’s cheaper to do laundry at night.  Off peak. Yeah, this is definitely off peak.  Middle of the night, off peak.  How can he be sore asleep?  What is wrong with me.  This is not going away.  I should turn on the light and read.  But that might wake him up.  No.  No. It won’t wake him up.  I mean, listen to him.   Out.  He’s out.   Favorite position.  Go to the favorite position to sleep and just lie there.  And close your eyes.  You always tell Hans to close his eyes to sleep.  Can’t sleep with your eyes open.  I’m sure someone can sleep with their eyes open.  That mango was very ripe.   Maybe a book on … what … what would the girls like for Christmas.  Monkey mind. Monkey mind.  I should just get up.  This is stupid.  I should get up and do something.  Maybe I should get up and write about this.  Maybe.  Then maybe I’ll be really sleepy.  Finally.  And then I can go back to sleep.  Yeah.  That’s what I’ll do.


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Being Bald

Boy, if I didn’t already know that you don’t get what you don’t ask for, I certainly have been learning that in spades lately.

Having come from a family of “Oh, I don’t want to be a bother” and “You don’t have to if you don’t really want to,” it’s taken some getting used to this idea of promoting oneself.  Like it doesn’t come naturally.  At all.

I have to be reminded by my pr savvy girlfriends that I’m trying to do good work, and part of how I can help others is by shouting from the tallest branch with the most authentic message.  And shouting a lot.  Or maybe whistling.  Or making a video that rocks the shizzocks.

So there I was at the Zero Breast Cancer Dipsea Hike event the other Sunday, having been convinced by my one girlfriend to set up a table and at least hike the course.  So I did what I was told.  I set up my little card table, put out copies of my book, and stood behind it with my cup of coffee in my hands and a big smile on my face.  I sold 2, count ’em, 2 copies that day.  One to a teacher of young kids from Tahoe and another to a nice woman who kept tearing up when she looked at the pictures.

Not exactly a spike in sales.  But I have heard of such things, from other authors, who have talked of book signings where nobody shows up.   (Ouch!)

So I’m standing there post hike, and I notice that there is a woman who looks familiar not because she is a friend of a friend, but because I know she is on television.  Somewhere.  I know it.  And as I try to watch her without staring, her name pops into my head:  Gayle King.  That’s it, it’s Gayle King.  I know she is a television news reporter from San Francisco.   In that moment, my PR mavens jump on my shoulder and start whispering into my ear.

“Go talk to her, Sue”

“Give her a copy of your book.”

“It’s perfect.  This is a breast cancer event and you have a breast cancer book.”

I watch as she winds down from the run, as she peruses a table of free swag from another vendor, and as she goes and gets food to eat.  I try to do the mind meld where I ask her mentally to come over to my table, but that doesn’t work.  I even mention to my friends next to me, “Hey, that’s Gayle King, and she’s on tv.  Should I go and tell her about my book?”    They of course encourage this action on my part.

So, what the hell, I think.  And I grab a book, a business card, my proverbial nuts, and stride over to Gayle who is sitting in a chair flanked by some friends.

I don’t lead with “Hi, my name is Sue, ” or “Excuse me, I have something I’d like to share with you.”  I lead with “Is your name Gayle?”, which it turns out, is NOT her name.  She doesn’t offer her name, which is absolutely her right but leaves me with this terribly horrid feeling that I must have either a) thought she was someone famous and she isn’t or b) that she IS that famous person but she would rather not talk to some half-sweaty stranger obviously interested in showing her something.   The Not-Gayle woman tells me that if I’m looking for someone named Gayle, the women at the finishing table might be able to tell me whether she has come in from the hike yet.   And so I thank her for that information, and in another awkward moment decide on my next move.

“Well, I’m here, and you’re obviously moved in some way to support breast cancer awareness because you’re here, so let me show you what I’ve done.”

Thus ensued the pulling out of the book, which one of her friends asked to see and started to read with a couple of the other women.  Not-Gayle said that this is an important issue, and clearly a pretty book, and I said something about how I thought she was on television and that’s why I came to share it with her.  And that’s when she said,

“I am on television.”

And then I wanted to vomit.  Because that’s when she told me her name is Dana King, and I looked at her and her friends and smiled and realized in that split second that Gayle King is Oprah’s friend and not the Emmy-winning anchor of the CBS news affiliate in San Francisco that I was currently talking to.

So.  It blows when you make a fool of yourself.  But here’s the thing.  Dana ended up telling me that she would take the book and give it to one of the medical reporters at KPIX to check out, because “it’s breast cancer awareness month in October” and everyone is looking for an angle.  And indeed Dr. Kim Mulvihill called me a week later to ask if she could come and interview me, which she is doing next week.  When I told her about how I’d majorly blown Dana’s name, she said that Dana hadn’t mentioned that, and that she in fact had said that I was quite nice, which, Kim pointed out, is not always the way that famous people are approached at events.

So note to self.  Don’t think you know someone’s name.  Offer yours and go from there.  And sometimes being bald has nothing to do with how much hair you have on your head.  That Sunday, I was totally bald and just cloaked in my embarrassment.


Filed under Just something ..., Stupid things

Walking the Line

Was he sleepy?  Or did he just shoot up?

And why oh why did I stay in his cab?

I don’t know.  I don’t know the answer to any of those things, and it bugs me.

We were all in a great mood, having just experienced the Blue Man Group in Chicago.  And it wasn’t all that late, maybe midnight, when we hailed the cabbie.   I got the back middle seat, with my two guys on either side of me.  My seat allowed me the prime (and only) position of having a view of the eyes of the cabbie.  It wasn’t like I was focused on him at first.  We were talking about the show, the uses of yards of toilet paper and how many marshmallows a human being can actually fit in his mouth (it’s a lot more than you think …), when our man behind the wheel kind of lurched his car down the road.  It got my attention, but I brushed it off and went back to our conversation.  But then he sort of sagged into another lane, and then he really got my attention when he closed his eyes and stopped the car at a green light.  On a pretty busy street.

Sort of out of character for me, I reached through the open plexi between the front and back seat, touched his shoulder, and asked if he was alright.  He perked up, mumbled something, and then both Anders and Hans were looking at me like I was a lunatic.   They couldn’t understand why I had shook the guy.   I thought perhaps he was dying, actually.  And since he was the one at the controls of the car, it seemed a prudent move at the time.

And anyway, hadn’t they noticed how he was driving?  Couldn’t they see his eyes kept closing?

Apparently not.  Because it kept happening.

And instead of saying to them, “Holy crap, our driver keeps closing his eyes. I think we need to get the hell out of here!”, I gave Anders one of those googly-eyes that says, “Holy crap, something is very very wrong here!” but didn’t tell him what.

Because I thought it would embarrass the driver.

I mean, what is WRONG with me?  Either he had just shot up with heroin in the moments before we got in his cab, and probably wouldn’t have given a flying fart what we thought of him, or he was working on his 19th hour of constant cab driving to try to pay for his ailing mother’s new hearing aid, and should have been appreciative of someone calling him out.

So there we were, weaving our way ever closer to our hotel, completely at the mercy of some dude clearly not completely with it.  I was praying hard, “please please please let him stay in our lane please please please.”

It was a long few minutes, I’m telling you.   And instead of engaging him at the hotel, I walked away with Hans as fast as I could as Anders paid the bill.

Was I wrong?

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Do you like to go fast?  Do you like to be first?  Can you stand being beat?  By someone of the opposite sex?

So I like to swim.  I decided to swim in a competitive sense in high school, as it was freshman year and I wanted to join some sort of team.  I considered all the different options (track, basketball, volleyball, softball, swimming), and since I had no real ability in any of the other, I chose swimming.  I had swum on a team as a child for one summer at the club we belonged to, but that was when I was probably 10 and hardly competitive.   At least it was something.   I remember going to that first week of practice, learning how to do a real flip turn and getting used to the sting of water going up my nose.  It seemed as if the other end of the pool was so very far away.

I could do nothing but improve at that point, and there was my opportunity.  I dug in. By the end of that first season I clinched a spot on the 4×100 free relay, and we collectively were fast enough to qualify for the state meet.  We got creamed, but we competed.  Over the course of 4 years I put in so many laps at my high school pool, and also at the outdoor long course pool in Tacoma during the summer.  I became I good swimmer.

And then I went to Stanford, never to swim competitively again.  Because, as you might know, Stanford does Olympians.  And as fast as I could swim in Washington State, the fish pond I found myself in in California was to big to cross.

Fast forward 25 years or so, and I am convinced by a very fit girlfriend to get back in the pool and try a master’s workout.  You know, with a coach.  No pressure, just the idea that a coach on deck gives you things to occupy your time while in the pool, and the fact that you are there with others in your lane will make you swim faster.  And further.  It worked, and I have enjoyed swimming for fitness for the past 5 years. (Plus you get tan!)

So this past Saturday I jumped in the very new and very nice high school pool near my house to swim.  No, it wasn’t a master’s workout, but I can now motivate myself through an hour of swimming.  Unlike master’s swimming, where you circle in the lane (always on the right side), these lanes are usually split, so that one person swims on one side of the line, and another on the other side.  On Saturday, I had the lane to myself, until a man of about my age and physical fitness level approached.  He stopped at pool’s edge, fiddled with his bright green IRONMAN swim cap, and when I got to the wall I invited him in.

The IRONMAN cap freaked me a bit.   This was a billboard to his fitness level.  But I figured he would stay on his side of the lane, and I would do my thing on my side.  If he smoked me, so be it.  I had gotten used to the woman in the lane next to me, who had a subtle American flag on her cap, glide by me as if I was crippled.   I could also watch his form underwater and maybe learn something.

I was in the middle of doing a set where I (attempted) to swim a lap underwater, then recovered with 3 laps of freestyle easy/medium.  He jumped into the water and started swimming, and after a bit I pushed off the wall and did my best aqua-girl impression.   Not to belabor the point here, but I realized quickly that I was faster than he was.  I was catching up to him on the under water bit, and then on the freestyle, I closed the gap and passed him.  I made a point of not using my legs to kick much as I did go by, as I didn’t want him to think that I was TRYING to beat him.  (And as an aside, I am a 2-beat kicker, which means I don’t use my legs much at all when I swim.  Only when I sprint.)

On lap 3 of our duet, after I had passed him while we both were doing freestyle, he disappeared.   I figured maybe he had switched into another empty lane, but soon he re-entered our lane, this time with fins on.

Oh yes.  Fins.

Now, for those of you who don’t swim, the warm up of any workout NEVER involves fins.  And 3 laps is not a warm-up.  Fins serve one purpose, and one purpose only.  You go faster.  So my male colleague put on his bright blue fins and pushed away from the wall.

Well you know what I did next.  I passed him.  And yes, I was working at it this time.  Still no legs to speak of, and my turnover was the same “oh, I’m just out here for a sweet morning gentle glide”, but man, did I pull the water from above my head to out past my butt.  I mean, I dug in.  We did this dance for a few laps, and then, voila, Mr. Iron Man added yet another toy.  Hand paddles.   These are basically hard plastic scoops that you wear on your hands to pull more water. And go faster, of course.

Anyway, anyway, anyway.   I share this because I think it’s so interesting.   This man could not just swim his own swim.

I can sort of relate, but not really.  I spend most of my master’s workouts working very very hard to keep up with the men with whom I share my lane.  Most of these guys have been coming to swim workout, every day, for something like 20 years.  One guy swam the English Channel last year, and they are quite fast.  Some days I have no time on the wall to recover, and yes, some days I put on fins for the longer sets so that I can keep up.  But I am part of a lane that circles, so if I don’t keep up, I’m going to have someone on my ass in no time.   And while that is a wee bit humiliating, it also creates a logistical issue of how to let someone pass you within a lane.

But this rec swim on Saturday was us in our own little piece of water, two parallel lines that would never ever bump up against each other.

Except in ego land, which I guess is a painful place to visit.

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In Pursuit of Perfection

Finian, the man who helped us reclaim our house one board, post hole, retaining wall, and joist at a time, had a thing for great turns of phrase.  He would sing as he worked, swinging his hammer in rhythm to Helen Reddy.  There’s nothing like hearing an Irishman’s brogue warbling “I am woman, hear me roar.” One of my favorite Finian phrases would pop up when he had measured twice, cut precisely, and watched as the board or piece of sheet rock or whatever material slid right into place.  “Perfect,” his helper would say, and he’d reply, “Well, perfect will have to do.”

Perfection with building materials is rather straightforward.  Either it fits, or it doesn’t.  And if it doesn’t, and you force it, like those ridiculous IKEA instructions, something is going to break.  But with other things, it is not so easy to decide what is perfection.

I have been having this issue with the cover of my book.

I thought I was done.  I had carefully moved thing around, edging this piece of type up a smidge, or changing the color of that piece of type from latte-colored chocolate to espresso-colored chocolate.  Things got bigger.  They got smaller. They moved around.  It is enough to drive you crazy sometimes, but you hope that by the end you’ve come up with something good.  So I sent the cover off to Hong Kong and I got the proof back.  But it wasn’t perfect.  I knew I liked it … pretty much … but there was something that bugged me.  It was only after folding it onto the dummy book that I realized the chocolate color just wasn’t right for the type, and what WAS I thinking to make the headline type so huge, and it was too close to the edge.

I had to call the printer, tell them to stop work on the cover, and prepare for a new file.  In reality, they don’t care a whip.  They charge for any changes you make, and the slow down of the schedule due to your changes is very clear.  So why was it so hard to make that call?  Why did I think they (and this is so embarrassing to admit) wouldn’t like me as much if I became that kind of client who changed her mind all the time.  You know the type.  Demanding.

Why do I care?

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