Dinner For Seven

My parents had three daughters. One was wanted, and has always been cherished:

Their Macy’s girl.

Guess It Was a Florida Macy’s.


We other two are their dime-store daughters.

Pecked From the Nest.


I am now close friends with my fellow dime-store outcast. Surprisingly, her own daughter has been accepted as a good friend of Macy-Girl’s daughter. The nonexistent sins of the mothers are not visited upon the daughters.

Lawrence Block and Ruth Rendell Wrote Versions, Too, But Using Either of Those Would Have Classed Up This Blog Too Much.

Not too long ago, the two cousins, who live on their own in different states, met up at Macy Girl’s house. She served dinner to the young women, as well as to her husband and his mom, and our own mother and father. Dinner for seven.

The next day, my mother and I are on the phone.

“And your sister did an amazing job. She managed to put on dinner for ALL of us!”

EVERYthing Macy-Girl Did Was Always Awesome.

My mother has never praised either of her dime-store daughters for a single one of our accomplishments as adults. Many are significantly more impressive than cooking a meal. I couldn’t stop myself:

“Wait just a minute, Mom. What is so ‘amazing’ about her making dinner?

“Well, she works, too!”

True. Macy Girl does work. Two grueling part-time days a week.

Though, To Hear HER Tell It, Her Two Part-Day Mole-Hills Require Full-Time Mountaineering Skills

“Well, Mom, I worked, too—only I worked full time. And I had lupus. And I chaired the PTA. And I prepared Sunday school lessons. And I STILL managed to cook.”

Here’s how the woman who wombed me and birthed me responds to my own amazing accomplishments:

“Oh, yeah? Who’d YOU ever cook for?”

What I Should Have Said.

I open my mouth but no sound emerges. Unsurprisingly, I left home at 17. I relocated on the far side of the fifty States. I’ve had therapy. Despite this, there are times this woman still manages to shock me into silence.

She decides to fill this by adding, sneeringly: “…besides your family!”

I Gave Her That Sweater Last Christmas. I Thought It Brought Out the Red In Her Eyes.

And as if I, also, find my family insignificant and my achievements worthless, I (yet again) find myself spitting into that glacial unmotherly wind, trying fruitlessly to convince the unconvince-able:

“I also prepared meals for more than my family, Mom. We DID throw parties in the early years of our marriage. Until my abusive spouse succeeded in socially isolating me.”

Ever-nurturing Mom responds.

“I don’t need to hear this!”


“Don’t tell me any more lies about your marvelous ex-husband.”

Yes.  The Real Work of One of My Real Sons.

“I am afraid of the dark. I am also afraid of my dad.” (Written In 1st Grade By One of My Sons About My Marvelous Ex-Husband.)

She ends the call.

Only later do I remember that, although my two-faced spouse always jumped to impress most visitors,

Hurriedly lifting up a sponge or broom just as folks drove up,

Striving to do all the cooking whenever my parents or in-laws visited,

My parents did still savor a couple of outstanding meals prepared by my own terribly-inadequate dime-store hands.

Don’t Pictures Like This Always Make You Want to Either Run and Cook It or Run and Eat It?

But I understand why Mom was still not impressed by my skills in comparison to Macy Girl’s.

Around my dining table would have been seated my parents, my spouse, my two children, and I. Dinner for six, not seven.

All this time, I’ve been only one dinner guest shy of gaining Mommy’s love.

Born of the Devil… Never Fully Alive… Controlled From Afar… Be Afwaid!!!!

Addendum Re: Emotional Abuse and Neglect
“That emotional abuse is more damaging than sexual and physical abuse may seem surprising, although they tend to go together.” [Yeah, our mommy and daddy whacked us, too. Meggie got her jaw cracked. You needed to be quick in our house!]

“A definitive analysis of the 41 best studies into the impact of childhood adversity on the risk of psychosis…broke down the role of different kinds of maltreatment. Emotional abuse meant exposure to behaviour such as harshness and name-calling from parents. Emotional neglect meant lack of love and responsiveness…emotional abuse increased the risk of psychosis the most (by 3.4 times), physical abuse and emotional neglect did so by 2.9, sexual abuse and bullying by peers by 2.4.”

“Similar findings come from studies of less extreme emotional distress. In the definitive one…90% of those who suffered early maltreatment qualified for a mental illness. Emotional neglect under the age of two was a critical predictor.”



2014-04-12–Added Guardian article excerpt on emotional abuse.

‘Kay, y’all, sorry it’s been awhile since I posted and that this is a “serious” one, but I’ve been Behcet’s-y and had no spare energy for this. Coming out of it, this post is just what came outa me. Gotta go where the fingers lead–they are the bosses of me. Tomorrow and next day, will catch up on comments and everybody ELSE’s blogs–have missed you guys! : )


Filed under memoir, serious

Learning to Cheat and Steal

Most kids play board games in three stages:

(1) Little kids ignore rules, or learn them but cheat anyway. They think their own cheating is okay, but not anyone else’s.


At this stage, parents let them win. As they should.

(2) By age six or seven, parents let kids start to lose a few games. Ouch! Cheating stops. Kids learn that games played by the rules can be fun!

Not Thinking “How Can I Cheat?”. Thinking “I’ve Got Him Beat!” (Poor Grammar, But Great Winning Attitude, Sugah!)


(3) When kids reach nine, or ten, say–cheating often starts again. Only this time, it’s creative.

Not Always That Creative.


Older kids understand there are subtle unwritten game rules. These are trickier to learn and master. Rules that tell which games do allow certain types of cheating, and which tricks you can get away with without getting “in trouble”–or perhaps just frowned upon by parents or peers.

Cheating at games is so accepted in our culture that it can be the most fun part of a game. Ned Cuthbert thought so in 1865 when he stole second base for (arguably) the first time.

And who hasn’t made backdoor Monopoly deals with a favored sibling (sister/brother) to borrow a hotel (or four!) for Park Place in order to drive another sibling out of the game with extortionate (too-high) rent?


As I child, I had some trouble with these ideas, having Asperger’s. We Aspies have trouble understanding which rules apply in which situations. When was it okay to cheat? Why could some kids get away with cheating, and others not?

How Do Some People Know That God Loves Them More Than the Rest of Us?


When I became a big grown-up and joined the corporate world, I discovered that most grown-ups learn corporate games in similar steps:

(1) They immediately cheat in little ways after learning the basic rules at their company: Taking home office supplies, lying on timesheets, playing games during work time, padding expense accounts.

(2) Some cheaters get caught and get their wrists slapped. They follow the rules for a while after that, and really put their nosies to backside posies.

Top-Notch Censorship Expert Currently Available For Hire. Bonus: Mouth Comes Pre-Puckered and Ready for Dorsal Docking.

(3) But after enough time at a company, the cheating often starts again. And it gets more creative.

It’s Not Lying, It’s Imaginative Truthiness.


Poor Aspie me had trouble again. I was shocked by level l “borrowing” of pencils from the stockroom. “That’s stealing!” Imagine me later when the generally-accepted lifting of supplies at one company where I worked extended to staff walking out the door with laptops and printers, and coming in on weekends to dig up the landscaping for their home gardens. The company simply kept replacing the hoovered plants.

To An Aspie, Corporate Game Rules Are Equally Ever-Changing.


The way the level 3 “creative winning” stuff was broadly admired across all the companies at which I worked was appalling to me. It still is. Even the prey beasts of nasty corporate gameplayers begrudgingly admired their predators. I don’t get it. I don’t understand you neurotypicals (non-Aspies)–and I never will.

One incident that occurred in my very first year as a programmer has stuck with me. I wish it hadn’t.

A very talented programmer, Mandy, had reached out to me and taken me under her wing to mentor, entirely of her own accord. I admired her tremendously. When she noticed someone floundering, she immediately assisted, no matter her own workload demands.

“And This Is How You Switch Back From Netflix When The Head Exec Walks By…”


Julie was struggling on the late afternoon of a three-day project due the next day. Mandy asked, “Can you use some help?”

“Oh, my gosh, yes!”

Julie described what was needed. (She basically needed to develop a cross-referenced index of data base variables found across multiple files.) Mandy gave Julie some suggestions on approach, and shortcuts to get it done.

“Great! Thank you SO much!” enthused a now-happy Julie.

The next morning, a frazzled-looking Julie showed up late for work.

Mandy: “Is everything all right, Julie?”
Julie: “No. I worked all night, and I just couldn’t do it.”
Mandy: “Well show me what you have.”
Julie: “I..I don’t have anything.”

Mandy: “……!”

(Mandy was trying to control her face. So was I, over in my eavesdropping corner.)

Wowzers! Julie’s Project Wasn’t Make-Work. There Were Real Customers Waiting For Real Stuff. (Sidebar: I am totally going to copy that Lego guy ring idea! How cute are they?)


Then, Mandy reached into her attaché case…and pulled out a hand-written preliminary draft version of Julie’s project.

Mandy: “I hope you won’t be upset with me, Julie, but you looked so worried yesterday, and since the project is due at lunch today, I went ahead and worked up a very rough outline to give you an idea of what I was talking about. You still have a few hours before you have to turn in your results. Maybe you can take this as a starting point and get your project done by fleshing this out and typing up your notes.”

Julie: “Mandy!” (throwing her arms around her)


• Julie turned straight around from Mandy’s arms,

• Typed up a new coversheet with HER name on the cover page,

• Hand-delivered “her” report a full three hours ahead of schedule.

Oh No She DIDN’T.


But that’s not the good part. The good part is that, obviously, Mandy found out almost immediately. Even the Vice-President who received the report from Julie’s hands knew it wasn’t Julie’s work, or handwriting. But he still praised Julie, PUBLICLY, for her great work on the project. AND GAVE HER A PROMOTION.

Oh No He DIDN’T!


And the entire staff–with the exception of Mandy and I–thought that what Julie had done took the “admirable” kind of chutzpah. Julie, and everyone else, expected that she and Mandy would still get along just as they had previously.

I Don’t Understand. I’ll Never Understand. I Don’t Want To Understand.

Addendums on Sexism

(1) Although the culprit in my tale is female, it is possible that the corporate climate I describe is more a male than female norm.

“Yes, Virginia, There IS (One) Demonstrated Biologic Gender Difference That Affects Judgement.”

“Research suggests that substantial benefits can be reaped from a more gender-balanced global workforce.”

“Paul J. Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont University, has found…Men under stress tend to secrete high levels of testosterone and become aggressive. Women under stress secrete oxytocin… Due to these hormonal differences, Zak says, women tend to be more effective than men when managing a team of people who have to work cooperatively. Oxytocin increases empathy, patience, and trust…”

“Economists are breaking important ground, too. In 2011, the French academic Marie-Pierre Dargnies’s mixed-gender competition study found that financial teams comprised of men only were less likely to perform well than mixed teams.”

So, it would appear that, contrary to the old (male) “wisdom” that women aren’t suited to be in charge of anything, pilot a plane, etc. due to their raging hormones, it is instead men who are ill-suited to be in charge of anything due to their own literally-raging hormone.

However, perhaps more females and increased teamwork won’t alter the cheating, thieving climate I see as amoral:

Oxytocin Doing Its Excellent Work.

(2) The only form of corporate cheating which was broadly despised at my companies? Women who had slept their way into a position—or who were assumed to have done so. This was considered an unfair advantage by both male and female employees. Yet the male who golfed and was drinking buds with the prez? S’cool. Another who was in line to marry his daughter? Copacetic.

Addendum on Comedy Writing

One of the funniest comedic pieces I’ve ever read is about a chess game played by penpals where both parties are cheating. (TOTAL SPOILER ALERTS HERE.) With no way for either to check the board of the other, and the games and claims growing more divergent, the worst cheater of the two finally suggests they throw in the towel and switch to Scrabble (!). He then announces that he has “just by happenstance” drawn the perfect tiles to play the highest-scoring possible eight-letter word in the game.

(I’d refer you to the piece—I know the title and author—but there is a personal reason I will not. This is why I also issued the spoiler without regret.)

Addendum on What Prompted Me to Write This Post

Last night, I momentarily neglected to credit Michelle at the green study with her great generosity in steering people toward my blog. One theft I despise is credit theft, and a close second is the sin of omission in this regard. My fault last night reminded me of what Julie had done to Mandy.

Today I learned that Maggie at The Zombies Ate My Brains has ALSO steered people to my blog!

Thank you so very much, Michelle and Maggie. Appreciative bows to you both! That the talented writers of two popular blogs have been so kind is deeply appreciated.

That this blog is STILL so lightly read after TWO boost-ups? Credit for THAT is entirely mine : )


Filed under Aspies, memoir, serious, sexism

Raped By My Boyfriend For Love

Sounds like a headline inquiring minds want to know, doesn’t it? But THIS really happened.

Randy and I had been dating a year before I went away to college. He was worried about me going away, and he had reason to be. I just wasn’t as into him as he was into me.

I’m Getting Really Uncomfortable Here…

It can’t have been a big surprise to him when I told him during his second visit that I had decided to end it between us. “No, there isn’t someone else”, I said in my usual tactful Asperger’s1 fashion (there wasn’t), “there just isn’t enough someone us.”

Randy took this much too calmly. In a flat, zombie-like voice, staring into my eyes as if he could convince me by using hypnosis, he said, “You’re wrong. You can’t do this. You’re making a mistake.

I’d seen enough old movies that I knew how to respond: “No, Randy, I’ve thought about this for some time. I’m sorry, but I’ve made up my mind.

Can’t You See Those Flowing Curtains? They Show I Mean Business.

No. You can’t!” Randy’s calm left him. His voice broke as it got louder. “I’m going to prove that you’re making a mistake!

Then he literally LEAPED on top of me on the bed and tried to thrust his tongue in my mouth. I turned my head away in disgust. He began unzipping his fly and pushing down my pants! I couldn’t believe it!

Randy, STOP!” I twisted my body and tried to arch my back to throw him off. I tried pushing his hands away. But, as I had learned during a rape attempt by a stranger when I was fourteen years old, boys are a LOT stronger than girls (most of them, more than most of us).

They’re Stronger Even When They’re Not Cheating Like This Boy (His Wrist Bent, Her Wrist Straight)

Stopping Randy was also complicated by two stupid, stupid facts:
(1) I felt sorry for him!
Yes! I really did! Because I could see that he was hurting so badly emotionally, I didn’t want to also hurt him physically–even though HE was hurting ME:

Randy always kept his nails long on one hand for guitar-picking, and these were now cutting into the small of my back as he thrust into me.

From That Time On, Guitar Nails On Guys Have Always Grossed Me Out.

I felt sick. I thought I might vomit.

But I still felt too sorry for my RAPIST to injure him to make him stop.

How effed up is THAT?

Pretty D#mned Effed Up–That’s How Effed Up.

(2) I was embarrassed.

At that time, seventeen years old, bony, skinny, not confident in myself or my physical appearance, I didn’t want the dozen kids out in the campus lounge to rush to my doorway and see me half-naked.

I preferred to be RAPED rather than be SEEN NAKED.

How effed up is THAT?

Effed up, but understandable:

Sure. Fine. Tell That To a 17-Year-Old After Males and the Media (and Some Females Too!) Have Told Her Otherwise For 17 Years.

What’s more, I didn’t want RANDY to be embarrassed, either.

I knew he was temporarily out of his mind. He was crying, even as he raped me. He was panicked, not just at losing me, but at the thought that he’d never have another girlfriend–I was his first.

And I recognized–even in the middle of being raped–that this pathetic boy–who was also at that moment a violent, selfish rapist caring only about what HE wanted–was a victim of our sexist culture.

Randy had bought into the media package presented repeatedly to us growing up:

  1. Man pushes his attentions on a resistant woman
  2. Woman gets turned on.
  3. Woman gives in.

Randy truly believed that if he could just force me to have sex again, I would “fall back in love” with him. How triple-sadly sad.

So I got raped.

I Didn’t Fall Back In Love With Him Afterward.

I still carry faint fingernail scars on my lower back to remind me of that very special afternoon–as if I could forget any of the many times males have been sexually abusive with me.

I think all women remember those times. Don’t you, ladies?


For years, I harbored a real fear that Randy, whom I considered unstable because of this incident and how it ended (I left that out), was going to show up at my door one day wielding an axe, blaming me for everything that had gone wrong in his life since that terrible afternoon. In reality, he probably healed and moved on, and never gave the rape another thought. He most likely did not even view himself as a rapist. Rapists can lie to themselves that way.
Second Addendum

If you feel like angrily commenting to lambast me, and tell me that rape is always and only about power, save your keystrokes. If you understood my piece, you know that I DID say this rape was (also) about power. Further, what I wrote here is MY reality. It was MY rape.

(1) Asperger’s syndrome is considered a high-functioning form of autism. One common feature about people with it is that we are typically not very good at reading social cues (facial expressions and hints–the things other people use to learn how to be tactful, to take turns in conversations, and to generally get along with each other).


Filed under memoir, serious, sexism

The Dentist and The Purse

I like going to the dentist.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about, you people. I sit in the chair being happy: That someone is taking care of me. That someone is grooming me. That someone is trying to be gentle with me. For me, it’s a lot like the pleasure I take in getting my hair done. The injections of Novacaine? Big deal.

Oh, Calm Down. Grow a Pair. (Of Breasts, Of Course. Woman Up!)

My dental student at UCLA this past year, Daramin, has been wonderful. He has worked around my mid-divorce scheduling craziness, and tolerated my miserable self-pitying ramblings. He has gone to bat for me with the school’s financial office. What is perhaps more important—my teeth are in the best shape they have ever been. I am the proud possessor of a total of five new caps that are a perfect match for my originals.

Hot? Or HOT?

Beyond all this, I have enjoyed Dara’s company. He is a sweet young man who has revealed a strong moral core. I try to figure out what small token I will bring to our last appointment to show him my appreciation of the time I have spent in his company. However, in the hectic two weeks leading up to the appointment, enmeshed in the viscous murk of my divorce, I entirely forget. I show up with absolutely nothing, shaming myself. I am further shamed when Dara presents ME with a gift.

I Really Hate the Box.

And then, I feel even worse. Dara has given me a quite expensive gift card to a department store—one at which I normally can’t afford to shop. Dara says that I am a very good patient, and he appreciates that. (I wonder what a bad dental patient is. Do some of us bite?) I am embarrassed. But not too embarrassed to use the gift!

Months prior, my years-old purse had finally taken that long journey to the land where old purses go to die.

Unsurprisingly, Some Aged-Out Professional Models Wind Up There, As Well.

I had shuddered at new purse prices—what is wrong with women, throwing away money like that? I had travelled to the nearest discount department store (it rhymes with “FLOSS”) and bought the least expensive plain black bag I could find. I had also bought a cheapie wallet. Although the wallet had survived my typical rough treatment, a few weeks later every thread of the FLOSS handbag’s stitching had broken. Thanks to Daramin’s gift, I now headed off to the better department store (it rhymes with “BRACIES”). They were having a huge sale. I had Dara’s card and two coupons.

Get Out of My Way.  I'm Ready to SHOP.

Get Out of My Way. I’m Ready to SHOP.

I am now the proud possessor of five new caps on my teeth, and one ridiculously-overpriced handbag for which I paid only a pittance. Thank you, Dara! I will think often of my student dentist and the dental school:
Every time I drop my FLOSS wallet into my BRACIES handbag.

The Perfect Place to Tuck Those Yummy Caramels!

A BRACIES Bag Bonus: Serves to Discourage Any Would-Be Pick-Purses.

Drafted 2009–finally got around to finishing!


Filed under lighter, memoir

Lookin’ For the Gold

We’re Explor-iman-iacs!
We have pray for pay contracts;
When we land on someone else’s land,
We always say “It’s mine!”

(music for all songs can be found at the bottom of the post)

So Much Easier Than Galleons

* * * DORK ALERT * * * DORK ALERT * * * DORK ALERT * * *
If you like this post, you am one of us. Welcome to the pocket-pencil club!
(No History fan? Skip to Thumbelina Rashomon or The “River-Bulldozer”)

Oh, Ba-by…

Music traditional (Turkey in the Straw)
Lyrics by O. Babe

The Dark Ages were a-endin’ and the Renaissance begun,
And Prince Henry wanted sailor men to have a little fun,
With their lanteen sails, their astrolabes, and sextants in their hands,
Everybody took their compasses and sailed for foreign lands!

Looking for the gold, gold, gold,
Spices to be sold, sold, sold,
Every European country wanted spices for their meat,
So it wouldn’t smell so stinky when it rotted in the heat.

“Or So Babes would Sleep With Men Who Never Bathed Or Washed Their Feet.”

Things accelerated quickly when the Muslim Middle East,
Told the Christians that Constantinople trading days had ceased,
If they wanted eastern spices they would have to sail around
Down past Africa and its Good Cape if Oriental-bound!

“Allah’s On OUR Side Now, Bubbeleh.”

Looking for the gold, gold, gold,
Spices to be sold, sold, sold,
So Bartholomew and Vasco set their sails and set their sights,
And they made it past the Cape and showed that they could do it right.

Then a little book by Polo made the searching get more hot,
All of Europe learned that Kublai Khan had everything they’d not,
Everybody got excited and more countries joined the fray,
Ferdinand and Isabella sent Columbus on his way!

Actual Top View of the Famous Pleasure Dome

Looking for the gold, gold, gold,
Spices to be sold, sold, sold,
Not even knowing longitude, or how far east or west,
Cristobal was good at measuring and guessing on his quest.

When Columbus showed the cool stuff that the New World had to share,
Like tomatoes and potatoes and the chili peppers there,
And they thought he’d proved by sailing west that he had reached the East,
All of Europe salivated for their spicy stink-free feast!

Hey–Don’t Point Fingers At ME. People Actually Get PAID To Write Textbooks With This Cr#p In ‘Em.

Looking for the gold, gold, gold,
Spices to be sold, sold, sold,
Columbus brought a little gold; they thought there’d be lots more,
So they started out for western shores and sailed here by the score!

Music (“The Mexican Hat Dance”),
Lyrics by O. Babe

Columbus gets credit, but Erik the Red, it
Was his son Leif Erikson who,
Departed from Iceland to find a more nice land
And landed where Scotia was New!

Big Deal. Looks Here Like It Only Took About a Day.

Bartolomew Dias and Vasco de Gama
The Cape of Good Hope sailed around,
Balboa left Cuba and crossed over Panama’s
Isthmus Pacifically-bound.

We got horses, sheeps, cows, and some piggies,
Bananas, pineapples, and cane,
Just try to imagine our life now,
Without those explorers from Spain!

I Know There’d Be Fewer Chipotles–Is THAT What the Lyric is Say’ng?

Of course, there’s Columbus, who started the whole fuss
Of trying to sail west for east,
Then a man named Amerigo found Chris’s error so
Circumference distance increased.

On Canada’s border in search for some water,
The Northwestern Passage the name,
Up the St. Lawrence went England’s John Cabot,
Then French Cartier and Champlain.

There was Ponce de Leon down in Florida,
Who was looking for Fountains of Youth;
And Hudson’s Half Moon up in New York,
Before all his men set him looth.

That Ole “Monkey Paw” Rule: There’s Always a Catch.

Cartier struck it rich with some rocks in a ditch
That were shiny and sparkly and grand;
When he sailed back to France, they could tell at a glance
Those were fake jewels he held in his hand.

Champlain and the Hurons fired up friendship neurons;
Quebec started out with a bang;
And it didn’t much hurt that the stones in the dirt
Were real diamonds—How Cartier complained!

Quit Your Gripin’, Jacques–Why Didn’t YOU Bring Along a Cubic Zirconium and Newspaper Like Samuel Did?

We got rouge, and garage, and mirages,
And Illinois spelled Illi-noise;
Just try to imagine our language
Without that French je nais ce “quois”!

Along Mississippi, LaSalle took a trip,
He sailed all of the way north to south;
While French men were down there,
They founded a town there:
New Orleans we find at the mouth.

“A Delta Below Sea Level, On a Storm-Tossed Coast? Let Us Found Our Town Here!”

DeSoto looked east there, and west Coronado,
But neither one found a darn thing,
So please tell me why
We named cars for those guys,
And their names are what we have to sing?

We got horses, sheeps, cows, and some piggies,
Bananas, pineapples, and cane,
Just try to imagine our life now,
Without those explorers from Spain!

In Mexico, Aztecs threw bloody hearts down steps,
And Cortes’s swords took their gold;
In Peru, F. Pizarro brought on Inca sorrow,
And more gold was stolen and sold!

Can There EVER Be Too Much?

Cabral missed a turn: In Brazil they now learn
Portugese ‘stead of Spanish today;
Cabrillo was really a man of the sea, and he
Visited Monterey Bay!

We got horses, sheeps, cows, and some piggies,
Bananas, pineapples, and cane,
Just try to imagine our life now,
Without those explorers from Spain!

I Wouldn’t Be Getting My Nooky–From Hottie-Boy Mexican Fang!

The Cath-o-lic leaders were selling forgiveness:
Indulgences let sinners through;
And young Martin Luther, a teller-of-truther,
Gave 95 reasons to boo!

So Protestants started, and soon they departed,
More freedom to have in the West,
And Puritans, Pilgrims, and Quakers, and Calvinists,
Even French Hu-ge-nots left!

We got Meth-odists, E-pis-co-palians,
Je-ho-vahs and Bap-tists galore,
Just try to imagine our life now,
Without those from Spain who explored!

We Maybe Would Get Along Better, ‘Cause Differences Would Be Ignored?

The music for “Explorimaniacs”:

The music for “Explorers of the World” (Mexican Hat Dance):

The music for “Lookin’ for the Gold”:

The Opening Lines to Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Here’s the Entire Poem
2014-03-20–Added Kubla Khan poem and name of Mexican Hat Dance.
2014-03-20–I haven’t finalized or final-proofed this post, but I’m tired of looking at it and I’ve got stuff to do, so out the door it goes!


Filed under history, lighter

Thumbelina Rashomon

Green eyes lead to dolly’s death;
Twice a dolly loses breath.
One girl delights, while one girl cries;
Each one’s truth, the other’s lies.

“You are SUCH a liar.”

Lies Vs. Truth

“I’M the liar?”

It is hard now to imagine, but dolls used to do nothing. No crawling, no digital burping. One day, however, along came the doll of the future: The first doll to move “like a real baby”.

A baby who’d had Jack Daniels:

“Ma-ma. Oooh, Mama!”

The doll’s head would loll and droop and slowly roll around on its shoulders. All you had to do was wind up a giant round crank on its back and ignore the giant loud cranking sound as the giant spring inside unwound. And because all the moving parts were so giant, so was the doll.

A shout-out to Ideal for their chutzpah in christening her “Thumbelina”—no bigger than a thumb. She was two armfuls of HUMONGUOUS.

A Thumb With Elephantiasis.

The first year Jumbolina was marketed, I received her as my Christmas gift. Despite her typical German doll face—squinched and angry-looking—I was thrilled. I lugged her huge hulk with me everywhere.

This D#mned Doll-Baby Weighs a Holy TON.

Yet, by my birthday in January, she was nowhere to be found.

Days and then weeks of searching failed to find her. I was desolate. My family cared not a whit. Only when the spring thaw came and the snow melted from our back yard was Thumbelina’s location revealed:

Her plastic head and limbs were distributed at far separate parts of the yard. Her empty cloth body lay limp at the base of a tree trunk, with her tossed stuffing looking like old dirty snow on the ground.

I Felt Like Someone Had Taken Out MY Stuffing.

What had happened? My brother spilled the beans:

My green-eyed younger sister Megan had taken my treasured Thumbelina, swung her by one leg, and bashed her repeatedly against the tree trunk until her helpless (yet zaftig) body burst asunder. Her firmer limbs had scattered to seek shelter from further abuse.

Meggie did not deny her evil deed. Yet my parents did nothing. Nor did they replace my doll.

W. T. F.?? (Where’s Thumbelina Fairness?)

Worse, for Megan’s May birthday, they presented to her the later, greater Baby Thumbelina. No creaky, cranky, monster, this was a wee-sized bundle of huggable, head-turnin’ love.


This Was The Last Straw. Baby Thumbelina Was No Bigger Than a BABY Thumb.

It is two weeks post-Meggie’s birthday. Visualize with me:

An older two-door car. To get into the back seat, you have to flip the front seat forward.

Your little sister is climbing in back. While the front seat is forward, there is a gap at the base of that seat. A gap exactly the size of a Baby-Thumbelina head.

Mere justice mandated that I match one head to one gap before slamming that front seat to its full and upright position. Which is when a wholly-satisfying crunch restored order to the universe.


Recently, I learned that by the time of her birthday, Megan had entirely forgotten that she had destroyed my doll first. All these decades, she has carried the memory of the day her big sister tore her treasured brand-new baby Thumbelina from her loving arms and crushed its skull, for absolutely no reason. And laughed maniacally when she began to cry. Each time I think of this, I am, at first, overswept with just a moment of deepest shame.

I Feel REALLY Guilty For How Mean I Was…

Then I laugh my ass off.

It’s a Good Thing My Sister Loves Me.


The Rashomon effect is a term that has been used by a number of different scholars, journalists and film critics to refer to contradictory interpretations of the same events by different persons, a problem that arises in the process of uncovering truth. The phrase derives from the movie Rashomon, where four witness’s accounts of a rape and murder are all different.–Wikipedia
2014-03-23–Added some pics, spaced out words a little better.


Filed under lighter, memoir

Don’t ALL Rivers Have Bulldozers?

The entire country (world?), if it’s heard of the L.A. River at all, knows of it only as a joke…

Just Your Typical River Dozer

Just Your Typical River Dozer (“Okay, Okay, ‘Skip-Loader’ Fang–Get Off My Case, Already…”)

…or as the site of occasional tragedy during flood season. Why, just this week, I passed another sort of tragedy along its banks:

I Doubt Any Passengers Walked Away From THIS Accident.

I grew up playing in the woods, every single day. Real woods, with wild apple trees, strawberries, blackberries, grapes, daylilies, roses, damp brown dirt, rich brown bark, and lots and lots of green: Deciduous trees and bushes everywhere you looked, and some pine tossed in for the smell. Water? We had a splashing stream, and a whole reservoir to fish in.

Now, the tradeoff for living in sun 10 months of the year is to give up ever seeing Mommy Nature at her finest. I live in a desert wasteland. Even in non-drought conditions, the hills are ALWAYS brown and ugly. The “woods” are barren. And what L.A. calls a river…

But this post is not about how awful the river is. I have learned to appreciate the L.A. River. I walk often along its riparian concrete banks. I am glad it’s there. Do I wish it were more attractive? Yes. So do lots of people.

The city plans to return a great swath of it to nature. Conveniently for the city, this is the part of it which is already closest to nature, already filled with greenery and wildlife–


Some Developer Must Have Been Napping. You Could Fit a HUGE Condominium Complex Here.

NOT the part where I live.
But although I am stuck with a graffiti’d concrete ditch, I needn’t focus on the ugly aspects of my walks. Instead, let me introduce you to my L.A. river:


You might have to look a just a bit more closely for them than when next to a “real” river (okay, it is just possible you might have to peer through fences, and over walls) but they’re there (really!).

Trumpet Vine Fluorescent Adolescents


Because you’re often at a distance from the water, you might need a German camera’s telefoto lens to see what KIND of avian creature is flying or wading by, but you will see winged wildlife on your walks. Down at the ritzy Santa Monica end of the ditch–oops, river–there are always lots of ducks and coots. When I walk west, I enjoy stopping to watch for a minute. Yesterday, the coots had exclusive use of the baby-bird rapids and were group-surfing:

"Get Ready...Here Comes Wave Number 1...2... What Comes After 2?"

“Get Ready…Here Comes Wave Number 1…2… What Comes After 2, Guys? Does Anyone Here Have Fingers?”

My favorite sight is of birds gliding low over the water:

Spit Overflight

But birds using their feetsies are nice, too:

These seagulls must be a special species with very long legs, for their feet are resting all the way on the bottom of the river, but their bodies are way up top:

"Now Get Out There Today, Men, And Show Those Pansy-#ssed Pigeons What Sh#tting on Things Is All About!"

Seagull Sergeant: “Let’s Get Out There Today, Men, And Show Those Pansy-#ssed Pigeons What Sh#tting on Things Is All About!”

"Have You Seen My Mommie?"

“Have You Seen My Mommie?”


So far, this is the only one I’ve spotted, but it’s a beaut:


This aspect of the concrete canal might not appeal to you neurotypicals (folks who don’t have Asperger’s), but for me, it is one of the saving graces of the otherwise almost-barren walk. There are many places along the route where the intersections of shapes form a beautiful geometry which, if you imagine the scene 2-dimensional and hung in a gallery (or my home!), could constitute world-class art:

Tell Me This Isn't Beautiful

Tell Me This Isn’t Beautiful


Can’t YOU Imagine It Flat on a Canvas?


Somehow, These Shapes Change Every Time I Go By


I’m Back In The Keys… Or In an Impressionist Painting.


Y’Know How Some Autistic Folk Are Train-spotters? I Could Easily Have Filled This Post Entirely With Bridge Pictures. “Bridges. OoooOOOOOooo.” (Caution: Total Dork Alert!

River Gothic

Let’s Pause a Moment Beside a River Gothic Cathedral


Yes! Intriguing mysteries! Well, at least for a total nerd. Inquiring mind wanted to know the answer to several geeky-type things, so I fired off an email to the Army Corps of Engineers. Literally not five minutes had passed before my phone rang and a Mr. Jay Field from the Los Angeles Corps office was kindly taking the time to try to answer my nerdiosity:
(1) WHAT are the big plugs spaced out along the riverbanks (about 2 feet in diameter)?

Are these there only to attach rescue lines for that one time a year when it rains so hard the water is dangerous to curious children and foolish adults? And were the plugs designed to be there originally, or were they added later?

ANSWER: Yes to the first question, and probably “added later”, to the second, because the special rescue team that does this didn’t exist when the Army Corps of Engineers first constructed the riverbed.

(2) WHAT are the square holes spaced out along the banks, cut through the concrete all the way down to the dirt? (Until someone disposed of their leftover cement in one–tsk.)

ANSWER: When the river is rushing and swollen, the pressure of the water is so great that even the concrete banks are threatened. These seep holes allow some of the water through to the soil to relieve some of the pressure.

(3) I was guessing that the double-yellow lines on the river bottom in Culver City were left over from the days the Army Corps drove up and down on the bed while forming it, but why do some of the lines lead a vehicle’s driver into the riverbank wall?!



ANSWER: Mr. Field wasn’t familiar with these lines until I mentioned them. Because there aren’t double-yellows all along the river, he guessed they might have been painted there for a film shoot, like “Terminator II”. I think that is an excellent guess, since I’ve seen them so far only in Culver City, known for its film studios.

Thank you, Mr. Field. What a nice man you are.
There is still one more mystery to uncover: One which likely falls outside the Army Corps’ area of expertise.

(4) WHAT is this backyard shrine a shrine TO?

Blessed Buddha of the Backyard

Blessed Buddha of the Backyard

The yard is packed full with yellow plastic lei-draped trees, bushes, and statuary, and many of the walkers and riders who pass stop to wonder aloud about its purpose. I’ve decided that I intend to find out. I’ll revise this post to let you know if I learn anything!

I’ll end now with two gifts for you:

First, I was unable to yet capture an image of a great heron striding near me so that you could see one in its natural cement environs, but the L.A. River administrators, it turns out, have one in an unnatural setting. Here is a heron in the lobby of their offices on San Fernando Road in Cypress Park:

Effing Run Like Hell If You See One of These.

Effing Run Like Hell If You See One of These.

When I arrived in said lobby, no one was to be found. All the staff had retreated to the upstairs offices. Can you blame them?
Finally, I’ll leave you with the sound of the river when it is low, like now: The gentle sound of falling water:

*** *** WARNING! *** WARNING! *** WARNING! *** ***

============ BEWARE RIVER SKEPS ===========


They Look All Small and Humpy and Innocent…

But When You Move Up Closer…

Can You IMAGINE The Size of the BEES?!

The All-Time Top River Credits

(1) All pics were taken (by yours truly) with an Iphone 4S or 5C.

(2) Thank you to the L.A. River office administrator whose name I was too impolite to note down who suggested I contact the Army Corps of Engineers directly with my questions.

The All-Time Top River Song Site
Top 20 River Songs of All Time

The All-Time Top River Documentary

The All-Time Top Helpful River Link for Angelinos
KCET’s River Notes: Latest River Improvements & Recreation News

The All-Time Top River Advice From Friends

2014-03-16–My friend A. said “Change the order of the opening–don’t open with the bulldozer.” So I did.
2014-03-17–Another friend J. said today said “Change the order of the opening–open with the bulldozer.” So I did.
Any more friends can just shut their faces.
Added the river song site that was supposed to be here from the get-go.

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Filed under lighter, serious