My childhood … I suppose I had to go there. For the sake of my memoir, if nothing else. This one is about one of my earliest memories, and nearly my last: when I had a small misunderstanding with a tall bridge.

This one costars my mother via email — completely without her permission, I’m realizing at this late hour. I don’t know if she wanted me to share our conversation so publicly. Stay tuned for the blog where my mom rakes me over the coals for this.

It also depicts my late father from a less than a happy perspective, although I will vindicate him with realizations in a future piece. We all do our best with what he have to work with.

Meanwhile, my misunderstanding with the forces of gravity began  . . .

One of my earliest and fondest memories is the day I almost ended my already short life. As usual, I was trying to catch up with my sisters—a recurring theme in my life that I’m still dealing with today—running after them on a walk in the park with my parents. I realize now that I was too distracted before and after the event to pay the actual tragedy much mind. Nor was I much aware of the minor miracle that helped me survive it.

From my Mother’s email on February 2nd, 2010:

Great Falls Bridge“Great Falls, Maryland – a beautiful park on the edge of the Potomac, near the C. and O. towpath – where there is a large area of rocks and waterfalls. There is a path that leads thru the woods, over some rocky ravines by way of a walking bridge, and on to the rocks that border and overlook the river. We were all there – the [older] girls were running ahead (I don’t think Jim was with us-just a baby) – and you were running, too. When we got to the bridge and started across, you tripped and started to roll. It happened very fast. You were over the edge and hanging on with just your hands. Your Dad moved so fast I was amazed. He was in good shape then and strong. He grabbed your arms and lifted you right up and back on the bridge. I looked down into what looked like 15-20 feet of ravine – rocks below. The fall would have killed you. You were very young – probably around 3-4. The whole thing happened in less than a minute – but it could have been a disaster. Not long after that, and the next time we were there, they had installed wire along the sides of the handrail – it would not have happened if that wire had been in place before. I am sure the memory has triggered some nasty nightmares and a fear of falling. It sure gave me the creeps for a long time.”

I was a child dangling from the edge of a bridge, my tiny, weak three-year-old hands somehow miraculously holding me from certain death, rocks and white water visible miles below my tiny feet. I believe any normal person would have earned a healthy case of acrophobia to share with their therapist from this, but somehow the death-by-great-heights issue fell off the bridge without me.

The truth is that I have had no nightmares at all. I love heights. Tall buildings, cliffs and bridges excite me, while climbing lofty antenna towers and flying tiny airplanes were among my simplest pleasures.

The weirdness doesn’t stop there. Instead of discomfort when I recall my near-death experience, the memory only seems to warm my soul. It only took my father’s premature death and a long spell of tearless mourning on my part to figure out why.

My Mom’s reply email on February 25th, 2010:

“Interesting that you are not afraid of heights – I hate them. Remember when we went up on the cable car in New Mexico? I nearly died of fear that day. I don’t like tall ladders even. Maybe my mother dropped me (or threw me – I wouldn’t have put it past her). I am glad you can do all these things and continue to be active and try new stuff.

“The wire on bridge ??? – I am not sure what made them add that. I imagine your father told someone what happened. He was pretty upset – it was a near thing.”

To think that my father was upset for me… I could sit for hours racking my brain and completely fail to remember a time when my father was ever remotely excited to talk to me, or had a significant conversation with me. It was a habit he completely failed to break himself of the rest of his life. But at that moment in my life, after the wrench in my shoulder as he pulled me up over the lip of that bridge, I saw the look on his face. It was the most emotion I had ever seen in my father’s face.

It was concern. For me.

I’m not sure, but I think I held onto that memory—the look on my father’s face—holding it far above the significance of the near-tragedy, because it was such a rare and awesome thing for me. I’ve held onto that moment the rest of my life, because it was not soon to be repeated. Perhaps I might have gotten used to it, this absence of my father’s attention, except for clues that this was not business as usual for my father.

My mother, once more on the subject, March, 3rd, 2010:

“As for your father, I don’t think his inability to relate was particularly aimed at you. He was not very good at “relating” to anyone, really. He was busy with his own interests and I don’t remember that he was really very fatherly with any of you. He was not at home much and often went out in the evening by himself. Hanging around playing with us was not really his thing. We had Fran for that, thank goodness – he filled many spaces in our lives. I miss him, and Eleanor, too, very much. “

She may have a point. My siblings and I were well into adulthood, sharing fast food in a plastic booth, when the subject of relative age came up. We were all shocked to realize that both of my parents were barely seventeen when they perpetrated there first big “mistake”, culminating in my oldest sister. Neither of them were ready to be parents, especially when three more mistakes happened in the next six years. I guess my father took it the hardest, but he still did the right thing, in practice: he married the first woman he had ever been with, despite his libido, and stuck around.

But did he take out his regrets equally on everyone?

I remember playing in my father’s driveway on one of our post-divorce visits. I was probably eight or nine. My father was happily talking to Russel, the neighbor’s kid, while he had spent the last hour with me without so much as a word. Fast-forward to my adulthood, visiting with my brother or sisters at their homes. When he was there he became easily enthralled with their life, their families, while openly stoic about my own. I envied this attention and acceptance over the interim of years, wondering what I would have to do to earn some for myself one day.

It was not to be.

He died weeks before I had finally planned to talk to him openly about it. I’ve since realized what an anomaly I was on his radar. My shyness around him was not the culprit, as I’d often assumed. That was merely a symptom of the differences he may have gleaned about me, but not understood. How can I blame him if it took so many years to understand my own idiosyncrasies (i.e., my queerness). By that time my father was gone, my original plans to talk to him would have been premature anyway. And would it have made any difference to him?

I’ll never know. I only hope that wherever he is now, understanding went along as part of the package. But in life, my father and I never really knew each other.

My grandfather—my dad’s dad—was another story. He always believed in me, seeing me more for my intelligence and potential in life than the way I looked or acted. He and my grandmother took me in for a year after I graduated high school. He was the one who played chess with me every night, pushed me to find my career during the day, talked to me about my intelligence and potential in life. Like my mother, I remember him as a intensely positive force in my life.

My parents parted ways decades ago. So to hear my mother say she misses her in-laws after all this time is to find out something I never knew about her. It makes me realize that instead of regretting a connection I never made, perhaps I should be getting to know my mother a little better—while she’s still in a talkative mood.  =)

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program of silliness and current events. Please exit the memoir to the right after it comes to a full and complete stop. Thank you for riding around in my addled mind. Come back soon!

Okay, let’s get serious here. Yeah, you took one look at that title and you knew I was going to get all serious on you. I know, I’m sorry.

The thing is this: Wait . . . I forgot what I was going to talk about. Wouldn’t it be funny if I ended it here? ^_^

Uhm . . . So, the thing is this:

Say you go to the circus and the little car drives up, and the doors open, and suddenly a whole hoard of the most freakishly scary things you can imagine come piling out of it like . . . like cockroaches from wherever cockroaches come from. Yes, I mean clowns.

Raise your hands whoever doesn’t think clowns are scary.

Okay, you and . . . you.

clown-carRight. You see, you two are simply abnormal. I mean, look at you, sitting there all by yourself with your hand up in the air — that’s just strange. You’re both a closet clowns, aren’t you? You’re freaking me out here.

So, my serious question is this: Why clowns? Who thought this was a good idea? Clowns simply look far more natural skulking about with sharp butcher knives in dark alleys than crawling out of Mini Coopers. I suppose they could try butcher knives with the Mini Cooper, but it would be hell on the upholstery.

Why couldn’t they just use penguins or something? Penguins are cute. They have that cute walk waddle thing going on. They all come sporting a tux already–they’re practically always dressed for any formal occasion! They live in the coldest friggin’ place in the world, so you know they’re looking for work somewhere warmer. Did I mention they were cute?

But best of all, they have those flightless wing things that are totally unsuited for carrying butcher knives.

I’m just saying, it’s time we started calculating just how many penguins it takes to fill a Mini Cooper. I’m betting a lot more than the clowns can manage. I’m calling my congressman about this in the morning.

We can feed the clowns to the Orcas. Problem solved!

I’m going to earn that Nobel Prize yet!*

[ * Overlooked 889 times for a Nobel already. Grrrr. I don’t want to talk about it. ]

I live behind a bar.

There, I said it. Phew, what a load off my mind to finally be out about that.

Oh, wait . . . that’s not right. It was that queer thing I should be worried outing myself about. Good thing I didn’t mention that then, huh?

It’s a pretty respectable bar, as bars go: A sports pub actually, with tons of huge screens for people to drunkenly scream at for no apparent reason, as if the players can actually hear them–or each other for that matter, as loud as it gets over there. Recently renovated, pleasantly arranged, well-lit . .  it’s a friendly looking place in there, from what I can tell. If I actually drank or could fathom sports I might give you a better view of it than through its large shiny windows as I’m passing by each day. But I don’t, much, so there.

The pub is nestled on the ground floor of my comfortably appointed and friendly apartment building, with a lovely courtyard separating it from my cozy little apartment. I’m happy with the arrangement . . . for the most part . . .

Until about 1:00AM.

You’d think I’d be happy that the noise abates around this time of night. But if you know me (i.e., you pay attention to the posting times of these blog entries. No, if you could actually see the posting times of these blog entries), you’d deduce that it’s not really a fly in my bearnaise sauce. You may not deduce the bearnaise sauce bit, actually. But if you did, I’d send you a cookie and a one-way plane ticket to Siberia, because frankly you’re freaking me out.

No, what happens around the wee hours of the morning are conversations. Drunken ones. Directly under my window.

I don’t mind conversations actually. The daytime ones are quite entertaining. I’ve witnessed a plethora of phone calls, debates, arguments, diagnoses, theories, educated and uneducated guesses, prophecies and neural pathway cleaning exercises (otherwise known as self-monologues) beneath my windows that have affected me anywhere along the spectrum of Boredom level 0.2, to Rolling under my desk laughing until my head pops off level 92.8. Although not entirely sane, at least they were relatively sober.

BonNuR1CIAA2UeQ.jpg largeBut at night it gets a little scary. It’s not the slurring or the exclamations about why my building keeps moving that I find so frightening . . .  but the way in which the monumentally drunk are stripped down to their bare essence. Their true colors. Their actual selves.

Most of the participants of these verbal expectorations are male, with a few rare drunk women mixed in to amp up the frighteningness (yes, I’m glaringly guilty of adding “ness” to almost any word, without the actual benefit of feeling guilty. about it . . . because I can). Not to kill your buzz here, but if I were to get a nickel for every misogynistic comment I’ve heard under my window past a certain hour, along with all kinds of premeditated rape-like details, I’d be able to afford installing huge neon lights on the moon that spell out, “Hey guys, WTF?” (I originally had “is wrong with you!” added to the end, but I calculated I’d need another 7 cents per misogynist.

I don’t really want to talk about it, but it looks like I did anyway. I mean someone has to. These guys’ male friends who DO have scruples might want to step up here. Just saying.

I’m kind of hoping this phenomenon is rarer than it seems, though I will clearly not be holding my breath on this point anytime soon. Perhaps it takes a mentality that thinks getting this drunk is actually fun, for that person to also be unclear on the whole human empathy thing. I don’t really know.

Until I find a cure for stupid, I’m thinking the best thing I can probably do is either: A) Learn to sleep like a “normal” person (Side-splitting laugh level 85.3), or B) find another apartment that exhibits a complete lack of bar-ness*.

Anyone know of a modest apartment I can rent in NW Portland?

[ * Yes, I did it again. If Lock Ness or Eliot Ness can do it, so can I. So there. ]

Four out of five narcissists agree: the human race is an imperfect lot. Even our DNA earns its keep by making errors . . . what we call “evolution”. Like most humans, I carry with me a plethora of dysfunction wherever I go. A few are physical—most are not. They don’t eat much, but they help make me who I am, for better or worse, so I proudly call them my own.

This is their story …

Asparagus, Broccoli & Shellfish—Oh My!

Okay, I admit it. I eat like a five-year-old.

My texture issues followed me like hungry kittens into adulthood: where foods like kiwi or mushrooms or cooked squash are too slimy to be beheld; where my bitterness sensitivity make bell peppers (only the green ones), capers and grape leaves inedible; and where a strange genetic mutation transforms guacamole and sour cream into an inert, tasteless nothingness on my tongue.

But these maladjustments barely scratch the surface of my culinary weirdness …

Shellfish, no matter how gourmet in preparation, smells to me like decomposing garbage. To think of ingesting it as a food is to risk projectile vomiting. I had to type the previous sentence very carefully.

Asparagus, on the other hand, has nothing more than a bitter aroma to me, but my throat closes up just to be in the same room where it’s cooking. Attempting to eat any of it would be improbable at best. And asparagus has a unique way of taking over the sweat glands of its victims, so if you’ve eaten some of it in the last few days, please don’t be insulted when I move far away from you.

I don’t want to talk about broccoli, other than to warn you: Do not under any circumstances allow me to eat this in your presence . . . unless you wish to be among the crowd running for the hills soon after. If anyone has seen the movie Godzilla and the Smog Monster, you know what I mean. Failing to heed this advice may be construed in some countries as a terrorist act.

You have been warned.

“Foibles” was a creative writing class exercise that went awry. It was meant to brainstorm prompts for future writing projects, but I think my instructor stepped back in fright when she saw how long my list was getting. There’s enough foibles here to fuel a year long blog, but I think I’ll scale it back to a foible or two a week (welcome to Foibles Monday).

I don’t want to take you away from the normal things I usually write about here. ~giggle~

IMG_0226So I’m walking down the street to the coffee shop where I do all my serious writing (well, I think it’s serious), minding my own business, when I pass this sign outside of one of the restaurants there. I stop. I take two steps back and look again. Yup, that’s what it says.

Anyone who has actually read my “about” page knows I occasionally identify as a dork, so of course my first thought is:

What side would they serve with me?

Other questions soon follow (keep in mind I’m still standing out on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, probably staring all buggly-eyed, thinking these things, while the patrons inside are looking out wondering if I’ve popped a fuse):

  • How do they serve dorks? Do we come with a sauce?
  • Where do they harvest their dorks?
    • Should I run? Like, now?!
  • Should I be insulted I’m only worth $13.50, and with a side?
  • Would I be less upset about this turn of events if I was served with macaroni and cheese, or covered with a dark chocolate sauce?
  • What wine do you serve with a dork (I’m thinking something non-alcoholic).

After I reset my fuse and toddled along to the coffee shop to be prescribed my usual dose of caffeine, I began to wonder if they were in fact serving actual dorks or a dork substitute. Or perhaps they had an unfair opinion of dorks and charged them $13.50 extra (plus a side) if they ate there.

It wasn’t until I started writing this and my girlfriend walked past and saw the picture above that the truth was revealed–and it’s admittedly weirder than even I thought possible. But then this is Portland. So of course I turned to the Urban Dictionary, the fount of all knowledge and wisdom.

Sure enough she was right:

(n)a whale penis
“The blue whale has the biggest dork on earth.”
by Anonymous February 14, 2003

(Source: The Urban Dictionary, accessed 3/1/2015,

Well then . . . okay. It makes perfect sense now that this appears on the menu at a place called Dick’s Kitchen.

I’m thinking I don’t want to talk about it. What more could I possibly add to this .. other than:

Bon Appetit!