Tuesday, August 30, 2016

White Food

Not to be confused with White People Food. More on that, later.


Probably not.

In a diet like the one I follow, there is a sort of unspoken "no white food" stipulation.

Before I continue I should probably mention my "diet" isn't full of hard rules. I am not a rules person. I have been known, on more than a couple of occasions, to enjoy a dinner consisting entirely of Castelvetrano olives and beer. Maybe you prefer a saltier olive. Go nuts.

I like to keep things do-able, so, I have "guidelines" more than rules, and because those guidelines are expressed within my writing/speaking style, they may sound something like, "Eat what appears to be an absurd amount of vegetables," or, "Only itty bits of sugar."

All of this relies rather heavily on you knowing what an "itty bit" of sugar looks like, because fuck measuring. For me it looks like I don't get to eat Little Debbie Nutty Bars for breakfast. When I was in radio, that's all I ever ate for breakfast. Morning radio...where, "I had to get up at 3:30AM," is your excuse for everything.

Radio Me would roll her eyes at Now Me, and probably light up a cigarette as an exclamation point.

Oh, cigarettes...I miss your stimulating...stimulants. If I never quit you, I might still be able to eat white food. But you stink, and everyone associated with you stinks, and I didn't spend $75 for a fucking bottle of Dolce Rosa Exelsa so I could smell like a loser.

Anyway...white food.

"White food" in my case includes sugar, white bread (white flour in general), white rice, and potatoes. It also includes corn--not white in the strictest sense, but...it's white food. It can include sauces in which white flour is used, and definitely includes any "snacks" like pretzels or chips which involve the frying or baking of the white flour or the potato, or the corn. The frying fat is fine, it's the starch I'm avoiding.

So...hear this in my I-swear-nothing-is-a-big-deal voice and it comes out to like, "Every day, eat tons of vegetables. Like an insane amount. And maybe some meat. And you can have bread, but have it first thing so you have time to work it off, and it should be multi-grain bread. Eat fruit and/or nuts where you would normally eat a candy bar. Have cheese, as long as it is real cheese. Good cheese. Don't fuck around when it comes to the cheese. Very limited starches/sugars (white food). And once every couple weeks you can break any or all of these rules so you don't go bat-shit crazy. Except the cheese. Don't eat bad cheese. Oh, and every December, you get to eat braunschweiger on white bread."

As relaxed as this all is for me, I still end up acting like a bowl of mashed potatoes is an illicit love affair I'm trying to hide from the broccoli.

Yeah, baby...put some cream cheese in there...butter....salt....a pinch of garlic powder.

Mmmmm....You're the best I've ever had.

So very, very wrong, but...so right.

I may like mashed potatoes more than I like pizza, and my gawd I love pizza. I tell anyone who will listen that the Punch Pizza Siciliana changed my life, but I don't make half the amorous noises eating that pizza as I do eating potatoes.

That might be because when I eat Siciliana, I'm sitting at Punch, and when I eat mashed potatoes, I'm sitting in my room, cross-legged on the bed with the lights dimmed.


I heard someone say that the only time you should eat white bread is if you are standing next to the bakery that made it...in Italy.

I'll add that to the bucket list. Now, where do I go to eat potatoes, free of shame? Wyoming?

The worst part about the "white food" guideline is that it works, and, I've had a lot of success in limiting those things.  I keep having to buy new pants because I'm shrinking out of them. It's actually getting to be a pain in the a$$, but I'll suck it up because it's better than the alternative. My standing joke with my doctor is, "I know none of this weight loss is due to cancer because ever time I eat white food I gain a pound--do I still have to come in for my appointment?" It's an awful joke, but he is a good sport, and yes, I do still have to come in. Damn it.

One day, when I'm old, and probably under doctor's orders to do so, I'll eat white foods all day every day, just to keep my weight up. People will probably encourage me to eat all day.

"Here, Mom, have some of this starch covered in gravy. Would you like more macaroni salad? Please eat more."

It'll be socially acceptable.

Until then, I'll keep my secret boyfriend mashed potatoes for as long as I can ride it. There ain't no reins on this one.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I wrote approximately 80 billion words in 2008-2009. My life was crazy--falling apart by some definition--but for me, I had eyes on a prize and was incredibly focused. It was not money, or a hot career, or hunky boyfriend that I wanted, it was just...peaceful sanity where I could be my true self and follow my inspiration without having it constantly questioned or belittled, most of all by me.

I am a writer, and, I need to do it. I have been scribbling gobs of crap on pages since high school. I'm 106 years old now. It is ever-present. It permeates everything, It may mean nothing to anyone but me, but to me, it is everything, and I dare say my whole life was created based on me thinking, "what would be a good thing to happen in the story right here?" You wouldn't think putting words on a page would have an effect on things, but it does. There are entire fields of study surrounding the idea that observing a thing creates a change in that thing, or, an observer creates a reality that would not have been there in the absence of the observer. The idea that I create my own reality is strong within me, and the idea that I can change my reality goes hand in hand with it. Of course I can--all I need to do observe, think about, and write about it.

So that's what was happening in 2008-2009. My marriage was ending, I moved completely across the country two times and was camping out at a friends house with my two daughters in tow, getting them to school, trying to find a job...insanity. Writing about it helped me direct it to a place where I wanted it to be. I've been reading those archives, and enjoying them. I love the girl I was--the one who had the courage to make a dramatic change, damn the consequences. I'm still her, I just haven't needed to be so dramatic lately because I'm generally happy, now, but, WOW. The things she taught me. Amazing.

But I didn't do it alone.

Who's With Me? 
(originally published 8/28/2009)

I always picture the guy in the movies...the guy pushed into leadership. Sometimes, he's an unlikely hero. Sometimes he is reluctant. Sometimes, he was born for this kind of thing, but in the movies, it is always the same--he's been put down or held down, and he's watched as the people he cares about are put down or held down. Finally, toward the end of the movie, he gives an inspirational speech decrying the wrong of it all, and declares that he's going to fight.

Then he says, "Who's with me?" and the whole place erupts in a loud battle cry. Everyone is with him.

After all, if they have each other and are united for a cause, there is nothing that can stop them. In fact, they don't really need to go into battle at all--truly they are free, at the very moment they decided it was worth fighting for. The momentum, and the energy is there, and, it carries them through the worst "the enemy" can throw at them.

Don't you just love the movies?

In real life, too, we rise or fall based on who, if anybody, is with us. Nobody wants to go it alone.

I find that I am usually the first one to get pissed off enough to act. And yes, sometimes, I end up going it alone, which sucks.

OK, most of the time, I end up going it alone, and sometimes, it sucks. Honestly, at this stage, I'm so used to going it alone that I usually skip the formality of asking "who's with me?" and just assume that it's no one.

There are certain rewards that come with being that kind of person. When you have an effect, and create a positive change, you get to feel damn good about yourself, or at least I do. Also, if other people know that you were the one responsible for the positive change, they might say nice things to/about you....after the fact, that is...when they've got nothing to lose by agreeing with you.

Of course, there are also some risks, but I find that the risks involved with staying true to your convictions, in all but the most extreme cases, are no worse than the risks involved with, say...bungee jumping. Very slight chance of injury or death. 100% chance of exhilaration.

But I haven't been going it alone. Not really.

Let me tell you a story--true story, and no, it isn't about me. A friend of mine is a relationship that I don't understand, at all. She doesn't get beat up or anything, but her mate is just mean (my word, no particulars, just...not nice to her). She is mean enough to her that, well, if anybody ever said those things to me, even once, they could kiss my ass goodbye, forever--they might possibly even kiss their own ass goodbye, depending on my mood that day.

Many years ago, I told my friend that I thought she needed to leave--I told her that in my opinion, she was being abused and she should get the hell out of there.

She didn't.

Also, she didn't speak to me for about two years after that. I don't know if she wasn't "allowed" to speak to me or what, but, my guess is that the mate considered me a threat, which...I'm not sure how to take, but OK, fine. I'm a threat. A threat to your bullshit.

Fast forward over ten years. My friend is still with the mean one. She is a great person and gets her fair share of positive attention from lots of nice people who would love to go out with her, but...she's stuck on the "what have you got to lose" part of the equation. She is convinced that she couldn't make it on her own, or maybe that she's such an awful person that nobody but this meanie could ever love her.

But then, one day, the man arrived.

Enter one very cute, very smart, sweet and kind gentleman who, as it would happen, is CRAZY about my friend. He thinks she is awesome.

He's "with" her. He's soooo "with" her. And you know what? It's incredibly empowering. Finally, after 15 years, someone out there is making my friend feel like she could be happy. Really happy. Finally, she is examining the possibilities. Finally, she is accepting the fact that she is worth it.

The very cute, very smart, sweet and kind gentleman did not roll into town on on his fine steed and sweep her up and away from danger. They are not "together" as a couple, and they likely never will be--it doesn't appear to be his role. What is his role? His very presence has planted the seed of the idea, and is making my friend stand up for herself, even though she never had the courage to before.

She still has a long journey ahead of her, but the simple fact that she has started walking, is huge. That makes this goof-ball boy a very big deal--Divine Intervention--and way more of a threat to the status quo than I could ever be, no matter how much time I spend postulating on whether or not my friend is in a "good" relationship.

When I talk about inspiration on this blog, that is the kind of thing that I mean. Not just "oh, I saw that painting and it inspired me to decorate my whole apartment around it." I'm talking about, "I had an interaction with that person and then my whole damn life changed." There are people just walking among us whose role it is to force us to be that reluctant hero in our own lives--to bring us to question why things are the way they are, and, give us the courage to change if change is needed, by letting us know they are there--they are "with" us.

Sometimes, they do this in a subtle way--they might be the person at the office who is always nice to you, and you always feel good after talking to them.

Sometimes, they'll knock you flat on your ass with no subtlety whatsoever, usually at the exact moment the universe tells you, "Oh, by the way? Change of plans. Person X has now been introduced into the story line...." and just like that, you are shocked into wakefulness, with not a damn thing you can do about it.

This exact scenario has played for my friend, and for me, because this is the thing that happened to us both--she with her cute, smart man, and me with someone else. Picture being pushed off a cliff (don't worry, you have your bungee chords) into incredible exhilaration and excitement and googly-eye silliness and Happy To Be Alive-ness, peppered with heaping gobs of, "This is so fucking scary!" because they pushed you into believing you were worth it, and you do hate it sometimes and wish they would have just let you remain unconscious--it was so much simpler to accept things as they were and remain asleep.

It requires less action of you to pretend that everything is fine than to contemplate that maybe you deserve something better, whatever that "something" may be--especially if that "something" is...really nothing more than an absence of the bad thing.

One day after 3 years of influence from that particular muse, I woke and recognized that I had become the reluctant hero in my life. What had I done since seeing him, and speaking to him? Everything. I had changed my entire life--not necessarily because of the warm interactions we had, but because knowing he existed somehow made me think, "I can do better," so, I did better. He had no idea. He didn't know I kept a little picture of him that I took, where he was smiling at me, just to remind me to do better. I'm sure he still doesn't know, and I have no plans to ever tell him.

I put the picture away when I realized that I feel pretty damn good about myself. I had successfully saved myself from personal heartache that would slowly kill me. Finally, I was at ease--better and stronger now than I was, and not content to sleepwalk through life, ever again. I survived having cried more tears than I thought my body could ever handle, as old perspectives, fairy tales and conventional "happy endings" were revealed to be untrue.

Now I know that amazing days lie ahead.

Who's with me?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bad Metaphorical Scotch

There used to be a sub-category on this blog titled, "In Which She Drones On and On About Justin-Fucking-Currie." In that sub-category you could find warm and loving tributes to the man, such as, "I hate that prolific little fucker," and my personal favorite, "I'd lock him in the garage for the month of February to assure he is sufficiently miserable to write songs."

This is how I talk about people when I think they're pretty great.

No, I don't wonder why I'm single: It's because I'm awful. It's well established.

Another thing I wrote: "He ain't pretty. When you listen to his music, though, you get the strong impression he is actually so beautiful that he has to shaggy-up so the whole world doesn't paw him to death in adoration."

The compliment wrapped in an insult. Classic. I slip out the side door during the ensuing confusion.

OK...it wasn't all bad:

When you have been listening to a musician for a long time, and, if they're any good, you can't help but feel their progression, album to album. It’s like watching your kids grow up, I suppose. You've always liked them, from the first moment, and as they get older and get better, you find yourself feeling proud. It warms your soul.

Some days...I feel very much like I watched Justin grow up. And calling it 'growing up,' while somewhat insulting, may be the only way to describe it. He simply came to know a few things that he didn’t know before.

We all start off toddling, don't we?

Things Del Amitri recorded 20 and 30 years ago, I liked a lot, back then, but he was a fucking infant by comparison. Babies…they positively glow with potential. I hope he knew what an incredibly skilled songwriter he would one day become.

I sometimes joke he's my second longest relationship, right behind Paul McCartney. Men in real life? 3-4 years and my eyes start to glaze over. Random musicians I never have to meet? 30+ years of carved-in-stone loyalty. Let's face it--it is a lot easier to adore Paul McCartney from afar than it is to love anyone up close...up to and including Paul McCartney himself.

Limited exposure. It's a beautiful thing. The entire relationship consists of them saying, "Hey, I wrote this song," and me saying, "Shut up and take my money." Even a dysfunctional fuckhead like me can handle that level of commitment.

I've long since stopped trying to figure any of this out. You like what you like. I like the way his writing brain works. He is as cleverly caustic as Paul is sweetly coy. I like most of his characters (not that irredeemable cheating dirtbag from Be My Downfall, though...fuck that guy).

However...that bloggy sub-category no longer exists and won't be revived. Sorry. Those words I wrote over the course of many years are tucked in a draft folder--just like a lot of things I peeled off in a flippant flurry and later reconsidered. Honestly, I think it was maybe 10 mentions in over 500 entries...? (Much like on the shelves of music I own, there are around a dozen pieces with his name on it and some 500 without.) Yet, that name was somehow the #3 searched topic on this stupid blog.

First of all...who are you? Searchers never say "hi." Jerks. Second, I must be so terribly disappointing...probably why they never say "hi."  I mostly talk about other stuff, like that time on my wedding anniversary where I got dressed up for dinner but ended up busting up a frog orgy in my back yard, and, not surprisingly, never had another wedding anniversary after that. It's not exactly fan site material. Plus I re-read every piece in the J-to-the-fucking-C category and was underwhelmed. We all start off toddling. I have the great luxury of un-publishing things I no longer enjoy, so off you go. Don't get me wrong, I think the line about locking him in the garage is fucking hilarious, but you know how things get once they're out of context...people begin huddling and murmuring and acting like it's all so serious. It's not.

I will say that for the most part, I am incredibly jealous of Justin--good stuff seems to pour out of him like it's nothing, and it holds up for ages. (Except The Heart is a Bad Design. That one doesn't hold up...and probably a couple others, but I can't get started talking about this shit or I'll end up having to devote a fucking category to it. And if I do that, then I'll end up having to confess how I excuse myself to the beer booth whenever Queenie Eye comes up in Paul's set list, because I can't stand that song. I realize all of this makes me a terrible fan in worshippers' circles. I'm prepared for my stoning--I've probably already been ostracized, I just haven't received the paperwork, yet.)

Maybe Justin's writing isn't as easy as he makes it look. Maybe he sweats word choices and chords.

I don't know. I don't particularly care. Shut up and take my money.

The rest of you? Please enjoy this hilarious story about sex-starved frogs and their insidious plot to destroy my marriage. It's funny because it's true.

***Bad Metaphorical Scotch = A reference to getting rid of things that are not of your preferred quality, based on that time my sister found a gallon jug of Scotch with the words "Aged 3 years" on the label, in one of the cupboards of her house. She wondered if she should save it, just in case someone might want some one day. We all have stuff like that sitting around. It might be bad whiskey, might be a bad blog post. The answer to "Should I save this?" is No. The answer is always No. Keep only that which makes you happy--chuck the rest.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Grief Tacos

A quick zip across two states:

  • Barely out of Minneapolis and we stopped for Second Breakfast. (I know people who claim they don't eat Second Breakfast, but those people are lying.) We're at a fast food place and a lady walks in wearing designer from head to toe, with an expensive handbag nestled artfully in the crook of her arm. She was looking quite perfect with her neatly coordinated top and skirt, shiny coral shoes, baubles in her hair, and lipstick on. I was not bothered by her presence at a fast food place--hey, sometimes you just want a fucking Whopper and that's OK. What got me was her look of confusion: She wandered up and down the row of tables where we sat, looking as if it was all so beneath her while simultaneously looking as if she needed help understanding it. This was the most impressive performance I witnessed on the entire trip. I was traveling for a funeral, so you know that's a high bar, and she set it early.
  • You can't do a road trip without music, right? I thought so, but it seems there are people (my sister, namely) who often drive with no music playing at all! Weird, right? Thank god she wasn't driving.
  • My traveling companion had never heard 80% of the music I played on this trip, including:
    • Punch Brothers Phosphorescent Blues
    • case/lang/viers (eponymous)
    • Indigo Girls Despite Our Differences
    • del amitri Change Everything (yes...she is related to me. I don't know what the hell happened to cause this gaping hole in her life, but I fixed it. Now she's heard it. Twice. I'm thorough.), and
    • A super rando mix disc I made with everything from Sinead O'Connor to Jack White to 123, to What Made Milwaukee Famous to Jesse McCartney to Prince to Jill Scott to Heartless Bastards to...you get the idea. Somehow it works. I'm the queen of segues.
  • She liked all of it. Of course she liked all of it--how could she not like all of that stuff? Only mutants don't like that stuff.
  • Kummerspeck: The German word for weight gained from stress eating, introduced to me by my friend Lauri. We silly Americans have coined the somewhat equivalent phrase "Grief Bacon" to excuse ourselves to eat. Let's face it...we're always making up excuses to eat. We're Americans...this is what we do. The service I attended on Friday was in a funeral home located on the same block as a taco stand. I parked my car, looked to the left, saw a sign with a dude wearing a sombrero, and immediately thought, "Wow...Grief Tacos. That's convenient."
  • I did a tiny bit of research (Read: I asked my Ansbach-native sister-in-law) and discovered the German word for "taco" is just "taco" so, "grief tacos" is...kummertacos. Those jokes write themselves. Go nuts.
    • OK, OK...Eating tacos because you’re sad is more like, "Ich esse Tacos , weil ich trauernde," but I’m an American, so...Grief Tacos.
  • The Grief Tacos (yes, I had tacos. This is me we’re talking about.) were not good. At all. Boring and inauthentic.  Luckily, there was INSANE Grief Brisket at the dinner, made by an authentic Mexican woman. Nobody is hungry at the funeral of a Mexican person...and if they’re smart, they're not eating Grief Tacos.
  • My parents, brothers, sister and I went to the grave sites of the Grands--my mom's parents and my dad's parents--about 40 yards from each other on a hillside. There was told, once again, the tale of how my maternal grandmother and grandfather were married. It seems sweet Rosanna, having been previously married and divorced, was pregnant with my aunt. Scandal! She and Oscar could not find anyone to marry them in their town, what with her being a ruined woman and all, so they hopped on a motorcycle and drove around to other towns where nobody knew them until they found someone who would make it legal. I love thinking about my grandparents this way. Young, making "mistakes," living life, taking risks. They were together until their deaths and were a sweet, playful, fun couple. Theirs is my favorite family story. So far.
  • I was raised a Lutheran and I know me some Lutheran Pastors. I can spot them a mile away--they're the one genuinely nice person in the room, calling everyone by their names whenever possible, and telling corny jokes while happily tucking in to the pot-luck. Easy-peasy. They are practically wearing signs around their necks. I don't know who was reading verses at that service, but they were lacking all of the Lutheran Pastor markers. He didn't even call Lisa by her name, and she was the reason we were all there. I call bullshit. You gotta get a Lutheran Pastor for this stuff. I'm just saying.
  • Humor. It pulls us through. Some might say things like "now is not the time," but I was raised among, and by, smart-asses. We virtually never say that. I would go so far as to say that when you die and the people gather, if they are not laughing, maybe you failed at life. People should be free to think of stupid shit like grief tacos in the presence of your urn, then turn around and tell someone to score a laugh. If your friends and family are not there yet, help them along while you still have time. (Hint: You don't have very much time.) Thanks, Lisa, for being a part of our family, and for bringing your good humor and warmth with you when you did.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

You're Late

Too long to tweet, to tempting not to mention:

  • Malia...Yeah...I remember when I had The Talk with my kids about marijuana. It went like this: "Nobody really gives a shit about marijuana..."  OK, OK...I did expand on that somewhat, due to my deeply held belief that you need to have a job, and one should not interfere with the other, blah, blah, blah, but honestly, I have attended funerals of young people caught up in real shit, and there are some very scary things out there, killing kids. Pot is not one of them. Now, we can argue about the developing brain til we all keel over--I find those points valid and I'm personally a "moderation in most things" type, but in a billion years, you will never convince me that occasional pot use is going to ruin anybody.
  • This would be a good time to insert the story about how, after having to get up in the middle of the night to drag my sorry ass home after I was arrested for underage drinking, my father's advice to me was, "You're gonna do some shit, I get that...just don't get caught." Thanks, dad.
  • In case anyone is wondering, yes, my mother wanted to kill the both of us.
  • Meanwhile, I discovered that my mother still thinks my 3 brothers are perfect, which is great news! 
  • I have four brothers, by the way. Other Brother and I will be over in the corner, rolling our eyes and drinking beer.
  • This would be a good time to mention that one of the perfect brothers smokes a LOT of pot...not sure what that means in terms of parenting skill, but I'm 100% certain his mom never had the super-awesome Drugs Talk with her kids that I did with mine.
  • The working title of this post was "Bad Metaphorical Scotch". Kind of like how "Scrambled Eggs" was the working title of "Yesterday." (Random Beatles trivia for days, people...)
  • Things That Make You Go Grrr: People who are late to everything. A person who works with me, one with whom I have most of my meetings, is late to virtually every meeting. OK, not virtually--I actually mean EVERY meeting. When it is a bunch of other people in the meeting, we chat amongst ourselves until the person shows up. When it is just the two of us? There is smoke rolling out of my ears.
  • Oh rats, someone asked me to peer eval that Late to Every Meeting person. Bummer.
  • Here's a cool pic I took.
  • This would be a good time to talk about that camera! I don't really have one. I just have my phone in my back pocket. On Instagram or Twitter there is other evidence of me being able to squeeze out an OK photo using only a phone, so if you like that kind of thing, go nuts. Sorry, no Facebook, unless we actually know each other in real life or if you had some level of previous access (I think there are exactly 2 "friends" of mine on Facebook that I have never met in real life--they apparently know people I know. I have no plans to meet either of them. Well, one of them is a Dallas Cowboys fan, and there's really not much you can do with that...)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


I have a small group of friends that I refer to as the "Fortified Inner Circle."

FIC, if you will.

There are exactly 4 of them, and I have known each of them since at least 1985, so you know they've earned their medals. People come and go--these people came and stayed. Here's how the 4 break down:
  • Two men, two women
  • Two "conservatives", two "not conservative"
  • One openly gay person
  • Three are current or former radio people and one should have been a media personality and totally missed a calling
  • One of them has seen me naked (several times...) Two others wanted to in the past, but never did.
  • I have lived with three of them, separately, for short periods of time in my life (but for some reason, never lived with the one who saw me naked...hmmm...)
  • One teacher
  • One beer drinker
  • One whiskey drinker
  • One dad
  • One mom
  • One dog owner
  • Two cat owners
  • Three Vikings fans
  • Three of them never married, one married 3 times, and one is currently in a 25 year relationship that puts the rest of our various relationship bullshit to shame
  • Three of them live in Minnesota, one moved somewhere warm.
  • All of them:
    • Make me laugh
    • Are smart
    • Are creative
    • Get me
    • Respect me (while still gleefully giving me shit about anything and everything)
    • Have hauled my drunk ass home a time or two
    • Did I mention make me laugh? Yeah...that's important. It's probably THE most important thing.
Those are my people.  My core. My sanity.

Oh, I forgot...there is one thing they all have in common: They all know that one guy who really messed up my head for a few years during college.

They were there, pulling that bottle out of my hand (or putting one in it, depending on the scenario...) when it was happening.

Two (perhaps 3) of them still refer to this person as "Fucking (his name here)" or some variation thereof, and 30 years later, still throw up their hands at the mere mention of him, even though none of us have seen or spoken to him in at least 20 years.

All of this disgust is because...they were there, and they loved me, and THE ONLY THING I wanted in my life at the time was that guy, and, that guy was not to be obtained (by me, anyway), and therefore he was out of compliance with Rule #1, which is "Shelly gets what she wants." I had a good number of friends in my life who abided by that rule, but...not him. Of course, that only made him infinitely more attractive to me.

I'm just going to take a short break right now to say I'm really glad I didn't get what I wanted, but we'll talk more about that some other day...

There is a line from a song that goes, "There's only tension between two centers of attention," and that is as near as I will ever get to describing those years. I was a diva, and he was a diva. I still am, and as near as I can figure, so is he. It would have only been a complete disaster.

Oh, who am I kidding? It was a complete disaster. Think college: Hanging out a lot, followed by much speculation on the part of everyone, followed by "what are you guys talking about? We're not doing this!" followed by drunken make-out session(s?), followed by ignoring each other, followed by "maybe we should try this," followed by "I'm not doing this," followed by "what the fuck are we even doing?" Nothing was ever resolved except that we were both dreadfully unhappy with everything.

Drag that out over the space of a couple years. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We were idiots.

That's the back story.

Last weekend, I was at the home of one of the FIC. I drank wine and she drank Long Island Teas and we had a great evening sitting out by the fire, but in the morning, with the creeping headaches, the real work of the weekend began. When my brain needs re-alignment, I go to her. She is incredibly thoughtful, and honest. She lets me vent, then gently puts me in my place. When you are an arrogant, aggressive loud-mouth like I am, you need someone like that. I need it because I still expect to get what I want in many situations and I get stressed out if I want something and don't get it--somebody has to smack some sense into me, sometimes.

I whined about my latest bullshit and together we tried to determine if I was crazy or if someone else was being an asshole.

For those keeping score at home, the answer was the same as usual: "both are true."

Then, because we were talking about my general demeanor and how it messes me up sometimes, That Guy's name came up. We virtually never talk about him--no reason to--but something going on in my life right now is similar enough that I brought it up as a point of reference for her.

As if on cue, my friend threw up her hands and said "Fucking (his name here)."

I laughed.

For 30 years, I've been watching her do that. For the first 5, I didn't like it because I was sad about it--I considered the whole thing a huge failure on my part. I laugh now because it's in the past, so I can laugh. It was stupid and I was stupid at the time--I no longer care. You can't give this kind of thing any ongoing power.

But, you know what?  That dude? The one that caused so much confusion for young and stupid me? He may have single-handedly created the Fortified Inner Circle. He definitely strengthened the bond, if nothing else. For the 4, he became, not a common enemy, but really the only thing they all four had in common, besides me--a joke they could all share just by uttering his name, even though they all knew him in different ways. Of course my reaction to him sent me running to my friends time and time again. 30 years later, I still go running to them when something feels even remotely similar to how I felt back then.

I'll give him his due--he did wield a lot of power, and to an extent, he still does, though it's not really him. He turns up every 3-4 years or so, in the form of some other guy, or some other situation, and I'm reminded to turn tail and run for my life.

I hope he has friends like mine. It's not easy being difficult; I should know. We arrogant loud mouths need people to talk us down sometimes, and there's no one better than an old friend, for that.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Virtually Nothing To Do with Sting or The Police, But, Since You're Here...

I found this piece on the old blog. Wow, I used a lot of words back in 2008. Also? An insane amount of commas. This required a hard brushing.


Or don't.

Like an Incurable - (Now with 30% Less Words!)
(Original publish October 6, 2008)

My friend got a song stuck in her head and was seeking a cure.

It was the type of song where, if you were at a party and somebody played it, every single person in the room would know it. Probably many of them would sing it, depending on states of drunkenness. Young, old….every-freaking-body.

To exorcise the Song Stuck in the Head demon, my friend decided she must hear the song in question. You know the drill: Just listen to it, and after that, you’ll be fine!

The song was Reminiscing.

Oh, hell...

....Reminiscing...catchy like the flu and no preventive vaccine on the market. If somebody plays that song, anywhere, at any time, you are Completely. Screwed.

My friend's boyfriend located the appropriate Little River Band collection, and popped on Reminiscing.

You know what happened next, right?

Immediately upon hearing it, I had it stuck in MY head.

I think you should know it’s a much worse condition for us obsessive people than it is for you normal people, to get a song stuck in your head. At least when YOU get a song stuck in your head, you are treatable. It takes me weeks to rid myself.

I am fully aware that I'm a mutant. I spent 14 years working in Top 40 radio. I had to smile through a lot of songs I was sick of, all of which I heard 17 times a day. Listeners never got sick of them because they only heard them maybe once a day, or, it didn’t matter to them because to them, listening to music should be…easy.


My friend’s LRB cure was followed by an hour of ticking through and playing some "great old songs", which were all in what I would call the Adult Contemporary format. They all agreed those songs were just "the BEST" and they wish people made music like that now.

On the very next morning, I caught my friend sitting through an infomercial for an Adult Contemporary song collection offered by Time/Life.


It's not that I thought the songs didn’t have value, or the artists didn’t have appeal. It's that when you say "Music, 1978" to me, I think about The Police, not the Little River Band. Or maybe not The Police…maybe…just…any of a number of other musicians making noises at the time that might have worried peoples parents…a little.

The thing about huge hit songs is this: They ARE easy. Just like it is easy to love a star quarterback, with all the hunky athleticism, it is easy to love a huge hit song. It takes very little effort on the part of the listener. It's everywhere and all your friends are doing it.

One could say that it takes a good amount of skill for a song-writer, to be able to come up with a big hit song like that. That may be true, or, it may be entirely a Luck + Timing + Work thing. In 1978 and for several years after, we were in the mood for what LRB was serving up, so they served it.

Luck + Timing + Work = Easy!

Most of us didn't get into a Police mood until we were into the 80s. By then, the Police had finished much of their snarling (except at each other) and were all driving nice cars and such.

While the band had little to prove by the time Synchronicity came out, Outlandos d'Amour screamed "We've got nothing to lose by trying," which I find so much more appealing on a personal level. The band didn't have any money or a record contract at that time, so they made the particular brand of art that one makes while nobody is watching.

You know…the BEST kind.

I never went for the quarterback. Try to act surprised.

I think life would be easier if I only listened to big radio hits. I wouldn't feel as if I have to explain every band, every musician and every song--there would be no effort involved with me enjoying music. I could just drink the fucking Kool-Aid.

But I'm the one, where, when I start the car and the music is on, people say things like, "What the hell are you listening to?"

I don’t call it music snobbery. Mostly, it’s just rooting for the underdog. You maybe haven’t heard that thing before, but, it’s as good (usually better) than the thing you heard, just not as many people have heard it. Welcome to our exclusive club! I think we can all get along.

Just don’t play Reminiscing. I'm still in recovery.


Nothing to do with anything, but, let's peel off a rapid list the Best Damned Police Songs, as determined by me, a non-expert if ever there was one.


No particular order, and, as always, feel free to chime in…

Can't Stand Losing You: "...and your brother's gonna kill me and he's six feet ten." Huh...he writes about the potential for having the shit kicked out of him on a few occasions in my immediate memory. I don't know why I find that so charming.

Next To You: Loud. Fast.

So Lonely: Somewhere around an eleven.

Does Everyone Stare: I like the construction of this and the fact that it is a pre-"Every Breath You Take" stalkery song. I also don't know why that is so charming. I don't think people are used to singers talking about themselves as nervous wrecks that stare at girls from a distance, but I've met that character a couple of dozen times in real life.

Man In A Suitcase
Bombs Away
Canary In A Coal Mine: Pop. Pop. Pop

On Any Other Day: He's right--some of the other ones *were* complete bullshit.

Hungry For You: Don't speak French? Not important.

Secret Journey: BEST drum part on any Police song. I'm standing by that. Go listen to it right now--absolutely fucking glorious.

Miss Gradenko: Things work together beautifully but are so separate that they could all be playing completely different songs. Best song on Synchronicity. Standing by that, too.

Synchronicity I: NOT II, I. Still makes me drive my car too fast, to this day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Eye Roll Injury

Minnesotans have this thing where we say, "Oh fer dumb"

Yes...that *is* how we say it. "Fer." 

FER, as in fur.

Hopefully it is self-exploratory but to those just waking up, we say it when we think something is dumb.

And we don't notice we're saying it but if someone played us back a recording of ourselves talking and we heard it a hundred times from our own lips (a low-ball estimate) we would be mortified.

I tried to train myself to say, "That's just fucking stupid," instead, but there are a surprisingly large number of situations that don't allow for you to say, "That's just fucking stupid."

Oh fer dumb.

Social media, the place where "oh fer dumb" is perhaps most called for, what with its bottomless pit of dumb, is not a welcoming place for either the phrase itself, nor the preferred, "That's just fucking stupid."

People react so strangely, as if you've insulted them in some way.

Fer dumb!

(Hang on...we have to wait while all the people from other countries check to see if Duo Lingo offers a course in Minnesota-speak.)

And we're back!

I tried, "Insert eye roll," which I thought was genius with its gentle visual humor and slight ambiguity, but found as things got stupider and stupider I had to perform harder and harder virtual eye rolls until eventually I was virtually injuring myself from virtually rolling my eyes so hard.

And that, I think we can all agree, is just fucking stupid.


No shortage of dumb, and no shortage of people calling it out. No shortage of people wanting to call it out but afraid to, and thankfully no shortage of smarter-than-me folks to do the heavy hilarious quip lifting in that arena while I sit and wish I would have thought of that line.

Fer dumb.

Monday, August 1, 2016

In Which People Like Me In Spite of Myself and For No Good Reason Whatsoever

I left the house wearing a 3 dollar hat, a company swag shirt and Adventure Pants.

  • The adventure pants, what can I say...just buy a pair in every color and thank Eddie Bauer for making your life easier. I have a lot of pairs, and twice as many of the capris. You, me, and capris, AmIRight ladies?
  • The swag shirt was a freebie, with a company logo. It is of "workout"  and/or "sleep" quality, if you know what I mean. If it's not in a drawer, it's busy getting sweaty or wrinkly, possibly painted on.
  • The $3 hat is also known as the best bargain on Hawaii Island. Do you know how many reminder emails I sent to my travel group about bringing, among many other things, a hat, to Hawaii? Do you know how much stuff I forgot to bring to Hawaii? Yeah. 

I was hoofing it down the road, and someone passed me. (Everybody passes me except guys in their first week of cardiac rehab, and young lovers holding hands. Those people are slow as hell and bless them for making me look good.)

"Hey, Shell!"

My neighbor, out for a run. I can never remember her name, for some reason.


I cover with the generic. I'll remember her name as I'm drifting off to sleep, I'm sure.

A half mile later, I meet a dude wearing a Hawaii t-shirt. He points at the honu on my hat and says, "Hey, which island?" in an attempt to have a Fellow Tourist moment. We're moving in opposite directions, and the moment is gone before I comprehend that he is speaking to me. He gets a quick smile, instead.

Further on, up the trail, a guy zips past me and says "Let's go (company name)!" like he's acknowledging a football jersey and not the logo of a huge multi-national corporation on a sweaty t-shirt.

Huh. Wasn't expecting that.

Wasn't expecting any of that, come to think of it. People don't talk to me out there.  It's not the hat and sunglasses and dramatic Don't Talk To Me down-dressing, it's just...people don't talk to me out there.

Mostly, getting out to put some miles on is solitary business for me, and for a lot of other people. This is a large part of the value of it.

Head full of dynamite today? Go. Run. Walk. Hike. Do something not involving typing or tapping on anything. A couple hours later, I'm a human again and ready to rejoin society.

And by society I mostly mean Twitter.

It's not as if these excursions are devoid of other humans--mostly I stick to a well-used path full of every type of person you could imagine. I spend my time listening in on snippets of conversations as people and I move around each other. I overhear bad parenting, interesting investment advice, bloviating morons, funny dads, over-achiever moms, kids saying the darndest things, and some delicious gossip.

And the dog talk...like the lady who took her yellow lab off the leash and sent it diving into Lake Harriet while calling after it to "Be careful!"

Or does that count as bad parenting?

Hearing 40 seconds of someone's story as we pass...it sparks the imagination. You can really go anywhere with it--the truth is their burden, not yours. Maybe the truth is that yellow lab understands English perfectly, and he telepathically sent his owner a reply that he would, indeed, take care while swimming, and here I am, making fun of her because I don't know their story.  But...none of that matters, because I'm an opportunistic smart-ass, so I made a joke.  See how this works?


This has been my routine 4 times a week for the last two years. I have changed dramatically during that time but the schedule has not. "Eat vegetables and go outside." If it wasn't simple, I would have abandoned it long ago.

The cynic in me (about 92% of the total)  thinks this new attention has something to do with the fact that I am skinnier and happier-looking than I was 2 years ago.

Fine, if that's what it is. Another reason to be cynical.

(Don't worry, I was deeply cynical before I got fat, and while I was fat, too. I'm not suddenly embittered by people who assume fat folks have no value just because I had the personal experience of being fat--I have had those jack-asses on my radar for years.)

I've been the "Everyone knows who you are" and I've been the "Nobody knows who you are." I've been, "Everyone feels like they can talk to you" and I have also been, "Nobody wants to talk to you."

My ego is a huge fan of, "Everyone wants to talk to you."

Of course it is.

I think I'm finally achieving some balance: Public, but not, engaging, but not...? Acquiring a manageable cache of nice, cool people without inspiring the whackos who hide out in dumpsters to spy in you...? (Yeah...) Understanding I may be physically incapable of not trying to draw attention to myself in some way, I think I can maintain Neighborhood Person Others Seem To Like for a while. It's weird though. I was given a forum (read: live microphone) when I was 18 years old. Now, I'm 50 and I can't think of any 18 year olds I would turn on a radio to hear. The thing that made me valuable? I don't see the value in it.

I think this might be that thing I heard about called "Maturity." I'll have to do some research and get back to you on that...