Friday, November 06, 2015

Hot Wheels Hoolihan

I bought a new car today.

Which is technically an SUV so I’m now one of THOSE people.

I don’t mind being one of THOSE people. It’s awfully nice to be able to see in the sea of other SUVs. Which was kinda my point when I went looking for something to buy...being able to see. Not something one can easily do in this day and age when driving a sedan. Not when nearly every other car on the road is an SUV - aka THOSE people - or a truck (the other THOSE people).

My choice had nothing at all to do with my level of sporty. If it did, I’d be driving a Smart Car.

Instead, my choice - like so many of my choices lately - had nearly everything to do with visibility. Seeing and being seen. 

I should have gotten the Serrano Red one1. Heh.

But visibility (or invisibility as it were) is not the point of this post. That one’s coming. Maybe. Or it might just be in the book.


The point is actually about money. 

Long time readers, friends, will know that, at the end of 2010, I gave myself a stern talking to about debt. Specifically, a come to Jesus talk to get the hell out of debt. I even started (and never finished) a blog about my experiences with debt.

I am super duper ecstatic to report that, 4 years and several expectation/attitude adjustments later, I did just that. I clawed my way out of debt - and bought a HOUSE in the middle of it! - one paycheck at a time.

That happened just this spring. But I was too tired and sick to tell you about it. (Another post. Or, yannow, book about debt. We’ll just have to see.)

For the last couple of years then, really since I bought the house and found out my FICO was 724 and on the climb, I’ve been monitoring my credit and FICO via

Climb it did. 100 points, in fact.

Pretty much perfect credit.

So, since I had near perfect credit and no debt (aside from the mortgage), I started thinking about the last time I drove a new car off the lot in 2001 - a car that, after 14 years, had almost reached its useful life - and about buying a new car. 

Subsequently, I did extensive research (thank you, Interwebz!) about the various cars I wanted to buy, the incentives currently offered, best practices in car sales negotiation, and what it means to be truly “well qualified” for the best financing options.

And then? Then I got pre-approved for credit.

So, walking into the dealership this afternoon, armed with the knowledge of my excellent credit - no matter the measure, my pre-approval for the absolute best rate for my terms, and knowledge of the car sales industry, I should have been ridiculously confident...cocky even...about what they would do for me.

Instead, I was a nervous wreck driving over there.


Because I’m a woman. Without a husband who can negotiate on my behalf and “do the math”.

Because I was terrified that all the financial power I’d gifted myself and knowledge I had in my brain, sans man, would somehow fly right out the window during the test drive...while I was falling madly in love with the car. 

Or I’d somehow doubt myself under the influence of a more knowledgeable, capable salesperson. (WTF?! I don’t even.)

But something happened as I pulled into the parking lot of the dealership, taking one last, long satisfying drag off my cigarette. 

All of a sudden I said to myself, “Self?

Fuck that.
Fuck this attitude.
Fuck them.

I know what I know.”

And what I know is that I’ve worked damn hard for my credit score and that hard work should have them doing everything they can - within reason - to keep me from walking out the door.

What I know is what’s fair. For me. For them.

So I popped a couple of mini altoids in my mouth (yo, cigarette), walked through the door, and asked for John Francis (the internet manager I’d been speaking with about my Price Promise from

My experience was pretty typical for a woman, at least, at first...I think. Unfortunately.

It was all about the color...exterior...interior.

Which I cared about a little. I mean, at what point have any of you ever thought my personality just screamed “ORANGE!!!” aside from never? And, frankly, when I think of the word “beige”, I can’t help but think about that horrible sexist joke told to me in high school about painting the ceiling beige.

Once we’d established I wasn’t hung up on color (interior or exterior...except for that awful orange) and was more interested in driving feel, we took a test drive. Which was fabulous. And, in just 10 minutes, I was crazy in love (with the car, not John Francis...although he’s totally sweet and adorable and someone - who wouldn’t qualify as a cougar like me - should just scoop him up with a love spoon).

I was sold.

And then the finance guy pretended to run the Price Promise numbers.

Which came out to $100 a month more than I knew I should pay (because research).

And I said, “Uh...hrm. John Francis? This isn’t anything like the number I came up to when I ran the numbers every which way to Sunday.” 

And he was all, like, “What number did you come up with?”

So I told him. Because it was honest.
He said, “OK. Give me a few minutes and I’ll get back to you with what my finance manager says.”

10 minutes later - and a couple of quick double checking of my math and theirs on my smart phone (turns out they were attempting to get me to agree to finance the MSRP LOL) - John Francis came back to me with a number. THE number. The one I knew was 100% fair.

And I was all like, “OK yeah! There it is.”

So here we are.

I’ve got a crazy gorgeous new car.



On my terms. Which, in my opinion, are pretty damn fair.

And, as I was sitting there, signing the paperwork, I thought to myself, “Sticking up for myself, knowing what I know, wasn’t so hard. I did good. Dianne Juhl would be proud of me and my feminine face of money.”


I am the feminine face of money.

Don’t fuck with this face.


1: I didn’t get the red one - even though I strongly considered it - because Acr0nym has a Santa Fe in red (albeit several years older). Otherwise, the red one would have been mine!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's All Relative

My father fell.


On the same day - about 14 hours apart.

He has no recollection of the first fall. It happened in the middle of the night and he has no memory of getting out of bed, of going to the bathroom, or why he fell, landing half in the hall and half in the bathroom. When he came to, he tried to reach the emergency pull cord to alert staff at his independent living facility but couldn’t maneuver himself in any kind of meaningful way to be successful.

So he laid there.

For hours.

The fire department came, once the aide who’d come to assist him with his compression stockings around 9 a.m. discovered him, got him on his feet, checked his blood pressure and made sure he could walk. He declined a ride to the hospital and insisted he was fine.

And then, just a couple of hours later, while another aide was there to check up on him, he fell again.

This time, he’d gone into the bathroom but was a little too late, starting to urinate before he’d gotten fully seated, so the floor was wet. When he tried to stand, his feet went out from underneath him and there he was, once again, on the floor. Stuck.

The fire department - same crew - responded again1. This time, however, they weren’t letting him off the hook. They insisted on taking him to the emergency room for a thorough work up. 

That was just over two weeks ago. He was admitted to the hospital for observation for a variety of reasons. His heart rate was elevated, his blood pressure was ridiculously low, and his kidney functions had skyrocketed...mostly because of the muscle breakdown from the fall trauma and lying on the floor, unable to move, for so long.

It became painfully clear, even in the emergency room, that the falls had impacted his ability to move or walk even a little. He was unable to stand on his own, urinate on his own, or even adjust himself in the bed without a lot of assistance.

To be clear, my father is a large man - weighing in at nearly 350 pounds. His mobility and balance have been getting increasingly worse for the last couple of years - due, in large part, to his weight - which is why we moved him to independent living to begin with...for his own safety. My siblings and I, along with pretty much everyone else he regularly comes in contact with, have been urging him for months to consider a walker.

He refused.

He would throw an absolute hiss over the suggestion, claiming he hated walkers because everyone at his apartment building is totally inconsiderate with their walkers and he wanted none of it. Forget about suggesting he could lead by example with his own walker. Foot down. NO.

And then he fell. Twice. In one day.

Hello, Walker.

Using a walker for the first, certainly not the last, time.

He was in the hospital for a total of five days (including day 0...his arrival in the emergency room). He met with a physical therapist and an occupational therapist that first full day and both immediately recommended rehab upon discharge.

And so now he’s at rehab (for falls, not the Amy Winehouse kind). Now that his heart rate, blood pressure, and kidney functions have returned to normal-ish.

And he ain’t happy about it. Not even a little bit. 

Frankly, neither am I.

There’s a reason why I don’t talk much about my dad.

Mostly, I don’t talk about him because I don’t really like him very much. 

There. I said it. 

He’s one of the most negative people I’ve ever had occasion to know. His locus of control is so externally focused that, if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was my fault I was ever born. He’s extremely passive aggressive and controlling. He rarely has anything nice to say. 

Not about anything.

Most certainly not about me.

But that doesn’t matter. 

Based largely on proximity (my sisters both live out of state and my brother is 90 minutes away), I am his Power of Attorney, his Medical Durable Power of Attorney, his caretaker. When he is incapacitated, as he is now, I’m in charge. The Boss, as he likes to say.

That doesn’t sit well with someone who absolutely must be in control.

He doesn’t like it and, right now, I’m not sure he particularly likes me.

Especially when he found out that he couldn’t discharge himself against medical advice. Only I could as MDPA.

And I won’t. 

Because no. 

Because doing so means he has to have around-the-clock care and that’s not something I’m able or willing to do and I told him so. I told him that I would no longer provide any assistance to him if he even tried to get himself discharged before he was capable of caring for himself.

Hello, Boundary.

He’s not a fan of boundaries. He said, “Fine. Whatever.”

Hello, Passive Aggression.

My face when he said he was going to discharge himself against medical advice.

I’m not complaining.

Really! I’m not.

I’ve spent the last 30+ years in therapy, on and off, dealing with my feelings and attitudes toward my father (among other things). What would be hard for many people - the onslaught of negativity, criticisms, boundary pushing - isn’t particularly difficult for me. I figured out his number years ago, which is why we’ve been largely estranged for the last decade or so, so pretty much everything he does or says rolls right off my back or gets met with a solid boundary. 



I just really feel sorry for him.

  • I feel sorry for him that he has no will to live.
  • I feel sorry for him that he has no hobbies or interests outside of game shows...and porn2.
  • I feel sorry for him that he has no friends despite the fact that he has the ability to make and keep them if he would just. Let. Them. In.
  • I feel sorry for him that he’s spent the last 7 decades assuming everyone was out to get him instead of realizing just how often it’s not been about him.
  • I feel sorry for him that, no matter what anyone does or says, it won’t be good enough to suit him because, in the end, he doesn’t feel like he’s good enough to deserve it.
  • I feel sorry for him that he has held on to something I said over 30 years ago when I was 13 (“I’m not the one who abandoned my family!”) and let it cause him so much pain for so long without even trying to let it go.
  • I feel sorry for him that he can’t even enjoy the simply glorious feeling of warm, autumn sunshine on his shoulders without complaining about how he might burn.

He said, "How do you want me to smile? Funny or normal?" I said, "So it reaches your eyes." Fail.

I feel really really sorry for him.

His life, if he’d chosen it to be, could have been so much happier!

Instead, here we are. Nearing the end. And he’s so very very sad. Has been sad. Maybe always. Just waiting. Waiting. Waiting to die.

He’s working with a therapist for the first time my insistence. He thinks she’s snooty. I think she’s brilliant.

He’s getting physically stronger every day.

He knows he’s got to earn his way out of this one.

He’s been told more than once that he’s lucky to have me.

Whether he believes it or not.

I’m here.

Not bitter or resentful or obligated.



He’s lucky.

So am I.

In spite of him.

1: The City and County of Denver’s fire department provides a free service called Lift Assist to help people who have fallen and can’t get up.

2: I recently discovered that he was ordering pay-per-view porn nearly every day in addition to having subscribed to the Playboy and Hustler channels on cable. *shaking head* The internet is FULL of free porn, Dad. Seriously. Welcome to the 21st century.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Red is the New Black

It’s been a long time since I felt beautiful.

Years really.

And before you say or think anything...this isn’t a fish for compliments or affirmation or anything of the sort so, yannow, just let me finish.

When I say “felt beautiful”...that has very little to do with physical appearance - although physicality does play a small part. I think what I generally mean by feeling beautiful though is feeling good, positive, energetic, peaceful. 

I hadn’t felt beautiful or ugly or anything in between. I just...hadn’t given any thought to beauty or myself. At all. Completely disconnected. 


2013 was an epic year for major change - a series of (mostly) unrelated events - that would seem to change the trajectory of my life in ways I’d never anticipated. 

You know I bought a house.

You know I moved my dad to an independent/assisted living apartment.

I changed jobs.

What you don’t know is that Spux and I, well, we had a massive falling out. And someone who’d been such a huge presence in my life wasn’t there anymore and I started to withdraw from the places and scene where I might run into her to avoid conflict and discomfort.

You also don’t know that I quit Denhac. I didn’t have the time or energy or the enthusiasm to dedicate to the space anymore and I felt the members deserved a Board who could be there in ways I couldn’t. 

I suppose you might say I withdrew from that scene too.

So I was already feeling kind of lost at sea.

And then?

And then.

In November and December of that year, 2013, Acr0nym - my near constant companion, my non-sexual non-husband, my BFF - suffered a MAJOR mental health crisis. I mean, y’all, it got bad. And then it got worse. And then it got to New Year’s Eve and, well, I did the unthinkable. 

I had him committed.

It was dawn on New Year’s Day 2014 when I rolled back into my garage after having spent the entire night talking him down off the proverbial ledge and convincing him to go to the ER and subsequently sitting in the ER with him while waiting on pins and needles for the doctor to decide whether or not to place the 72-hour hold on him.

I fixed myself a cocktail at 7 a.m, watched the sunrise, and collapsed in ginormous racking sobs as the anxiety and terror and exhaustion of the prior weeks rolled right over the top of me in waves.

He was safe.

And I could shut down.

So that’s what I did. For many, many months.

Before I go any further, Acr0 was hospitalized for 13 days. During that time, his father died and so the staff worked to stabilize him enough to be able to release him so he could be with his family. It’s been a very long road since then but he is better now. So ever much better! For real!

2014 was a blur. There’s not much to say about it except to say, while my friendship with Acr0 was still intact, he had his hands full just trying to get by and so, for the first time in years, I was on my own. I think, after his father’s memorial service, I saw him a total of maybe six times throughout 2014 and even less in 2015. Also of note, my father, already declining in hearing, mobility, and function, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February and underwent radiation daily for 6 weeks (the treatment worked - he’s cancer free). 

Mostly, 2014 and the first part of 2015, as far as I can recall, didn’t actually happen. (Although something good did happen! Spux and I made amends and are, for real, great friends again!)

Shut down, beat down, withdrawn, disconnected, I had a vague sense of the passage of time but viewed it with apathy - like time was passing but it wasn’t related to me - I was moving on automatic right through it. The more tired I felt, the more invisible I tried to become, and, with invisibility comes silence...on the blog, on social media, on any platform where I might have been heard and/or seen.

I will, however, assert here that I don’t believe I was depressed. I’ve experienced depression and this wasn’t it. Rather, I believe I was physically and mentally exhausted and getting sick...sicker by the minute and much sicker than I realized.


In the spring of this year, I suffered a series of health problems. 

I won’t go into it least, not tonight...but it was an extremely loud and incredibly close wake up call to PAY ATTENTION! I wasn’t taking care of myself in any way. I thought withdrawing from people in my personal life would help me re-charge, re-energize and that would get me moving in the right direction - ANY direction - again. 

It didn’t.

The only purpose withdrawing did was to allow me an uninterrupted path to a complete physical break down. Woot.

That wake up call, as so often happens, was the exact call I needed to get moving in more ways than one. I started eating better. I started walking again. I bought a Fitbit. I started thinking more about myself and what was good for me and less about what others needed from me. I started to evaluate what was good, what was bad, what was necessary, and what was nonsense.

I started to care about and pay attention to me again.

I started to sleep again.

I started to really feel compassion again.

I started to forgive...everyone.

I started to emerge.

To see and be seen.

And THAT is how we come to now and feeling beautiful.

About a month ago, while I was on vacation, Acr0 took the day off to spend with me and he told me we could do whatever my heart desired.

I made a list. 

And so that’s what we did. It was a perfect day. The weather was gorgeous. There were no hiccups or tensions. Everything was entirely right with the world and incredibly easy in a way it hadn’t been in a couple of years.

At Tinkermill, where we ran into Monk earlier than we’d expected, the three of us walked out to the parking lot together and, as the sunlight hit me, Monk exclaimed, “You are beautiful!” completely out of the blue.

I was taken aback.

I hadn’t thought of myself as beautiful in what felt like forever. No one had thought to acknowledge me as beautiful in nearly as long.

And so I chewed on that for awhile.

And then I went shopping...for clothes...which I normally dread.

And all of a sudden what appealed to me wasn’t black, black, and some more black.

What caught my eye were reds and purples and blues. Oh my, yes. Lots of red.

I spent way too much money on clothes in colors and patterns...things I’ve abhorred in the past.

And then I wore them.

And, on the first day I wore red, as I drove toward work, I thought, “I feel really beautiful. I should wear more red.”

And so...I am.

Red. It’s the new black.

And I’m beautiful.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Virtual Friends, Meatspace Strangers

In high school, most of nearly every girl's time is either spent thinking about, talking about, or scheming up ways to best subtly approach boys.

I was no exception.

Well...except that I never could work up the courage to subtly approach anyone resembling a boy and, instead, used the not so successful tactic of pining away silently and hoping the object of my affection would notice.
It shouldn't surprise you then to learn my first serious boyfriend didn't come along until the year after I left high school.

But this story isn't about that first boyfriend.

There was a boy I liked - let's call him The Honorable Lord Vigo, Scourge of Carpathia and Sorrow of Moldavia1 - Vigo for short. I really only saw him a handful of times. We didn't attend the same school. Hell! By the time I met him, I lived in another town. So it wasn't one of those angsty, heart-wrenching, watching-him-lean-on-his-locker-and-slowly-dying-inside-day-after-day sort of crushes. It was simply one of those crushes where, from the moment I met him, I just really liked being near him. It felt good to be near him. He was adorable and funny. So, whenever I was in his town visiting, I was always super happy when our paths crossed.

Me, of course, being the shy, tongue-tied, type didn't ever hope to make an impression. If I recall correctly, I may have said all of 10 words to him during that time and likely they were monosyllabic. And, as one-by-one my closest friends from that town - Beasley, Brad, Nykki - moved up and out of it, I didn't see Vigo again...Not for nearly 25 years.

Eventually, the crush floated away on the winds of Wyoming as it blew in other boys who would become men.

Still...every once in awhile, I'd wonder what happened to him.

I would, rarely, get updates through the Beasley-Brad-Nykki vine. Eventually, they too lost touch with him. For many years there was nothing.

And then? Facebook happened. I think it was Brad's 40th birthday party invitation when I became aware of Vigo's online existence and knew he was physically present here, in Denver. He had a new last name and only recent pictures but it couldn't possibly be anyone but him. It was him. That was in 2010.

You have to understand...I wanted to send him a friend request back then. I really did! But! There are many people who date back from that time in my life - people I thought quite highly of - who, I fear, wouldn't even remember me. It was a time in my life I spent mostly in the corner, smoking, writing bad poetry, fearing rejection, deflecting attention. I didn't want anyone to see me...except that I really did...unless I knew they would like me. I was convinced no one actually liked me...except Beasley, Brad, Nykki.

Finally, at Beasley's insistence, near my birthday in 2013, I sent Vigo a friend request. It was weird. I felt weird. But he accepted right away.

Turns out? He did remember me.

Turns out? I intimidated him back then.

I blame it on resting bitch face.

Still got it.

And the fact that, since I couldn't actually formulate full sentences in the presence of testosterone then, I likely just grunted and growled and, occasionally, squeaked which probably made me seem a little whacko.


He accepted my friend request. Subsequently, I learned more about him and the man he's become through Facebook than I ever knew about the boy he was then.

But, even though he was here, in Denver, my adopted city, we weren't compelled to hang out until last week. We'd exchanged a few private messages prior to last week. Mostly about my dad, last summer, when I was looking for an elder care facility for him...something Vigo knows a lot about.

But then, last week, I was thinking a lot about being an empath. I stumbled across an article and, in reading the comments, I developed a theory about empaths. A theory that suggested empaths, including me, feel lonely, even in the presence of fellow empaths, because, in social situations, we are so used to feeling the feels of others and giving away our energy that it's all but impossible for us to know how to receive it. I wanted to test my theory - or discuss it with a fellow empath. So I posted something about it. Asked my friends on Facebook if they identified as an empath.Vigo said yes.

That's what started it. The conversation.

I think I started it - the private conversation - after he commented that he was an empath. We talked. A lot. We shared a lot via email. Not just about being empaths. About lots of things. And then he asked me to meet him on Friday for supper.

So...Friday night, we met, for the first time since 1989.

I was nervous. I was shaking as he approached. The high school crush thing wasn't the issue. It felt as though I was meeting him for the very first time. Virtual friends, meatspace strangers. What would he think of me? Would we have anything to say? Would we argue? Would we meet each other's expectations? Would we run out of conversation before we'd reviewed the menu? Would I forget my words and resort to prehistoric grunts and growls and squeaks?
I worry too much.

He got to the table, I stood up, and we hugged long and hard and then we both just started laughing.

The moment we sat down, we were on.

Words, his, mine, tumbling over the top of one another. Tell me this story, that story, OMG! That really happened?!

There were tears. There was laughter. There were stories galore!

Five hours we sat there asking, answering - empath to empath - about everything under the sun. We shared secrets. I told him things I haven't shared with anyone. It was a gloriously stimulating energy exchange the likes of which are exceedingly rare in my experience.

By the time I got home, there was an e-mail from him. We talked via e-mail for a couple more hours. I was so energized, I was practically giddy. I stayed up past 3, writing for the first time in months.
My theory was thoroughly debunked and in the best way possible. It would also seem that whatever that exchange was cured me of the constipation of the writing kind from which I'd been suffering since January. Pretty cool, huh?
So...that's the story. It's better than the first serious boyfriend one anyway. Trust me.
Thanks, Vigo. That was rad. Let's do it again soon.
1. I asked him how he'd like to be known for this entry. That's what he selected.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Story I Would Have Told If We Hadn't Been in Church

Speaking in front of an audience and, especially, at funerals is hard. And, frankly, it never occurred to me, in my frazzled state, that there would be an opportunity to speak at John's memorial today. So, as we sat there waiting, sometimes awkwardly, as people came up to say a few words, I was frantically racking my brain for a favorite story to share and kept drawing a blank. Until just as the minister was drawing to a close and the strains of the bagpiper at the back of the sanctuary began playing the first notes of "Amazing Grace" and I completely lost whatever vestiges of composure I had, I remembered this story...which is probably for the best.

It was Thanksgiving of 2012.

I decided I wasn't up to hosting the 5th annual Grotto Thanksgiving so, instead, a few of us Denhac-ians decided we should throw a Denhac Thanksgiving potluck. Everyone was invited - open to the public - I supplied the pies. Someone else, Sidragon, I think, wiped out his entire personal stash of single malt scotch and brought it over for our delightful consumption.

Acr0nym and TC, after stuffing themselves at the obligatory family get together, packed up TC's twin girls and his and Acr0nym's dad, John, and headed down to Denhac to join in the festivities.

Well. Turns out, John had a particular liking for two things: pie and single malt scotch, to which he helped himself to plenty.

As the evening progressed, normally quiet John became the life of the party. He entertained a number of us with several hilarious stories and jokes, his bright, blue eyes (so much like Acr0nym's) twinkling. He held a captive audience and it was clear we were all enjoying ourselves very much.

Until TC and Acr0nym realized their dad was on the slippery slope toward drunk.

And the consequences sunk in. 

One of them was going to have to return their quite lit father to their feisty mother and have lots of explaining to do.

An argument ensued1.

TC: You take him home.

Acr0: No, YOU take him home. You brought him. He's your responsibility.

TC: But I have the twins and I'll have to go home and I'd rather stay here for awhile longer.

Acr0: Yes, but you're the oldest and she won't be mad at YOU.

TC: Oh she'll be plenty mad no matter who takes him home. You should take him home because you have to come back this way anyway to get home.

Acr0: But if you take him home, you'll be within a mile of your own house.

Back and forth and back and forth they went. Both afraid to take him home and both with valid-ish arguments.

Meanwhile, John headed back to the "bar" for more scotch.

Eventually, TC drew the short straw and poured his hilariously happy father into his car, much to both their chagrin.

I never did learn of the outcome of that fateful trip. If Evelyn was pissed, I never heard about it. Regardless of the consequences, it's my favorite memory of one of the kindest, generous, most gentle men I've ever known. A memory in which he shined so brightly and so happily and held us all enthrall with his tales.

Rest in peace, John. I'm sorry I never got the chance to bake a cherry pie for you, my biggest pie fan. You are already sorely missed by so many.

Jane, in my infinite wisdom

1: This is, to the best of my recollection, the actual argument. I'm sure I am grossly paraphrasing but, knowing TC and Acr0nym as I do, I can promise you it's about as accurate as an actual transcript would be.