Category Archives: can’t take me anywhere

The Cough, a horror story.


Warning, this is gross.  Not quite as gross as that time I accidentally Carried my sex buddy, but if this story becomes a stage show, you’re definately going to want to stay out of the splash zone in the first few rows. 

Can I offer you one of my ..... tissues?

Getting over a nasty little cold has left me with a particularly bad Cough.  To understand why I’ve capitalized the C in cough, you have to understand that this is not the bodily function of the politely dying Victorian consumptive, this is more like a pull start motor in the throes of an exorcism.  From flubber demons.

"You're my new mommy!"

My Cough demands attention, and a certain begrudging respect.  Strangers stop and say “Woah.”  And then often cross themselves, scoot away and start googling “death rattle” on their phones.  My cat won’t have anything to do with me, she just hides and dreams of better days when I didn’t hack thunderclaps at her.  A trash truck driver actually stopped his work to look around for what the ruckus was.

"Do you hear something?"

And now that I’m moving through what my friend Helena politely calls the “expecterant phase,” it’s gotten messier.  And she’s pretty much the only person willing to be around me during it, bless her heart.  For her trouble, she and two of her unsuspecting friends got to witness the following this morning.

We’re driving and I start to feel the cough tickle come on.  It sounds and feels like a tick-tick-tick in my chest because I’m breathing through a film of semi-gelatized snot.  Once I start coughing, I have to finish, I have to hack it up or I feel like I’m going to choke on it.  (I did warn you this was going to be gross.)  I start hacking and my leg starts twitching like a dog getting it’s belly rubbed and then it ends with me with a mouthful of demon-snot.  I can feel it’s firmer consistancy floating in my salivia.  I’m out of tissues in my purse, so I try to sidetalk out of one side of my mouth with the debris and various Cough shrapnel floating in the other, “are your windows up back there in the back seat and does anyone mind if I spit out the window?”

They don’t so much agree as realize they have no real good choices here and say, “um sure?”  I roll down my window and wind up for the pitch but get firmly checked by the seatbelt’s shoulder strap.  I recoil and make a second windup but the whole missile launch has already been thrown dangerously offbalance.  In that slow-mo that only bad memories come in, I realize that it lacks the critical OUMPH! but there is no return. 

It's too late to take lessons.

I fall back into my seat with snot and salvia streaming across my right check and tendrils extending into my hair.  “Babies spit up more effectively than that,” I offer feebly.   A hand extending from the backseat, belonging to a girl I’ve just met moments before (and probably never again, now) offers me two crumpled Rubios napkins.  I realize that most of the damage is to the shoulder of my own top, where I’ve Jackson Pollocked a fist-sized green and yellow painting of my viral illness.

Not that I'm suggesting he's anything less than a genius.

I hear the two girls in the back seat discuss the contents of the one girl’s purse, from whence the napkins came, probably because they’re desperate to distract themselves from the horror of what they’ve just seen.

I continue to take stock of the damage.  One ambitious bit of snot has broken my body’s gravity and streaked away like a green comet of nasty across the back passenger side window.  This is now the view of a nice girl named Cynthia, whom I barely know.

But with a daytime background.

 At least I made sure that window was UP?  Small saving graces, I guess.

“That pretty much could not have gone worse.”

We arrive at my destination and I offer goodbyes.  “Ok, thanks and can we not talk about my harffing a snotball all over everything?”

………………. Silence.

“No,” I continued.  “That was so bad that I think it enters the realm of funny and we must joke about it.” 

“Yes,” came the chorus from the backseat, as the final word on the subject.

A Little’s Enough


I wrote fan mail once and I mean like once in my whole life. 

I facebooked Tom Delonge from Angels & Airwaves (also Blink 182) and tried at first to NOT sound like a deranged teenager and then gave up because who cares?  I wrote about what his music had meant to me at an especially wounded time.  I went ahead and threw in a “you saved my life.”  I’d be more ashamed except I really truly meant it.

Secret Crowds

Everything’s Magic

Love Like Rockets

A Little’s Enough


As I was writing a chat window popped up and “Tom” asked me for my info to send me free tickets.  It was obviously a hacker, and I don’t recall whether I bothered to hit send on my email or not.

All that to say that as much as I like to think of myself as someone who holds her shit together around people who are celebrities, Tom Delonge was above and beyond.  If I met him?  Pregnant and out on rape charges.  That’s how that would go down.

This weekend I had a mild inner ear infection.  The kind that make you dizzy, really, really dizzy.  I spent my weekend on the couch crocheting.  I was feeling better today and in yoga pants I’d put on Friday night and never bothered to change, I took my bike up to the corner grocery store.  It’s important to have a visual of my wet hair, sequined tshirt with cat hair, and bike helmet.  I had about 18 items in my cart but since I’m in that store like every third day I know that the express lanes are often waiting and totally accepting of more items.  I have the decency to pretend to care when I start unloading my items onto the counter. 

“I hope they don’t count past 15,” I mutter to the tattooed elbow in the corner of my vision, just so I don’t seem like the bitch who ignores signs.  Rocket ship tattoos, it registers.  Really awesome rocke- HOLYSHIT.




HOLYSHIT.  I know who that is.  I glance at the clock beyond his head.  Yep, that’s Tom Delonge.  I pretend to consult my blank wrist to the time on the clock.  Still very Tom Delonge.  Stop looking at a blank wrist.  Tom is buying groceries with his daughter Ava.  I am melting down while wearing cat hair, sequins and a bike helmet.  He’s attempting to do normal people things.  I’M attempting to do normal people things while watching him do normal people things.  Do not touch him.  DO NOT BURY YOUR FACE IN HIS TSHIRT AND CRY, VJ.  STOP MUTTERING THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO YOURSELF  TO YOURSELF UNDER YOUR BREATH HE MIGHT HEAR YOU.

He turns and looks at me.  I hope I wasn’t making strange strangled noises, I don’t think I was, but who really fucking knows?  His eyes meet mine and my face splits in an enormous smile and there was a moment of I-know-you-know-that-I-know-and-I-know-that-you-know-that-I-know and Ava said “Daddy!  something I didn’t catch.”



The cashier said “cash back?” and I stopped blinking. 
“That was Tom Delonge from Blink-182, you know.”
“Was it?”
“He’s kind of the only person that I don’t know that I totally care about.”
“You should catch him in the parking lot.  I’ll hold your stuff.”
“No ……. I don’t think I could do any better with words.”

Gosh, even Cash Cab lets you have one Phone-A-Friend.


I was waltzing into the grocery store the other night and yes, maybe I was actually waltzing.  It was 80 degrees warm and I was happy.

This trim, bright-eyed thing asks me right before the doors, “can I ask you just two questions for my sociology thesis?”  The only possible answer to that in my polite, sunset-beach world is yes, yes of course!

“Yay!  Ok.  Which immigrant group has been most beneficial to the US?”

I smiled an indulgent smile.  She must have misspoke.  We don’t ask questions like that.

I got blank brightness and realized that was really her question.  I mean …. goodness.   I stammered a bit around the word “diversity,” but I can’t recall a single coherent thought I expressed so it’s no shock she wasn’t making notes.   Finally I threw out “Canadians!  My boyfriend is a Canadian and he’s totally my favorite.”  And then mentally facepalmed at hearing myself sound so, like totally smart.

“Ok.  Great.  So.  Which immigrant group coming to the US causes the most problems.  In your opinion.”


I checked back two or three times at her face this time, the same innocent expectance on her features.  I suppose I should have seen that question coming but ….. she really expected me to Answer That Question.  With Words.  There was some more stammering from me about diversity being inherently valuable but it was probably less coherent that the last time.  

She really wasn’t going to let me off the hook, and to walk away seemed like it was saying “screw you and education along with it!” 

I flashed on saying, “Duh, WHITE PEOPLE,” but it was clear she was referring to the modern nation, not the continent as a whole.  (Although in hindsight that answer still doesn’t seem to be …. incorrect.)  So I flubbed out something about how our lack of understanding and appreciation for other cultures is really most often the problem.  Why, just for example I recently saw this video where muslims are gathering in LA to fundraise for local LA charities and they’re heckled by a bunch of  rednec……… oh shit, she’s going to take the short answer of what I said as “muslims.”


She nodded at my discomfort (finally!) but her pen was raising to her pad.  “I see,” she said.

As she wrote her lips seemed to mouth her words, “very uncomfortable,” and I can only PRAY her study wasn’t on American immigrants but on how retardedly silly white people are when they talk about it.

Plenty of cookie.


One of them, the accountants I worked with, one or another of them always remembered to bring me back one of the giant cookies from the monthly association meeting.  I think they must confer on it before they leave, ‘who’s got the cookies for the office girls?’

It’s sweet.  So is the cookie, which is no lie as big as my face. 

Half of it was still on my desk a few hours later, when I noticed an ant crawling towards it.  I’d never seen an ant in this building before.  It’s so clean! and marble! and beige!  I put the little plastic dome of a vending machine toy dispensor over him (yes, I carry these in my purse) but I wasn’t sure where to take him.  If his family was in our office – or anywhere on our floor – they were hella sneaky.  The only place I was certain an ant could live was downstairs, one floor and out to the parking lot, but that was too far to assume he’d come from there.  Last time I tried to move an office spider out to the parking lot he was too scared of the outdoors and ran directly under my foot.  Trying doesn’t always work, yo.

My boss surpressed the second blink when I told her where I was going, trying to pretend she doesn’t think that’s weird.  Bless.  The ant did flips around the inside of the plastic bubble while we waited for the elevator.  Was it really better than just squishing him, to exile him to the land of rival ant gangs?  Were there little ant friends somewhere that would miss him?  Yes, I do think about these things.  Yes, I do care.  I’m careful even with very small life. 

An ant is a social creature.  It might not miss it’s mama, per se, but it sure can express agitation at a survival problem when presented with an unfamiliar terrain.  And it did, up and down that concrete curb.  So I did a very sentimental, shortsighted (but if that’s not human what is?) thing. 

I left it the other half of the cookie.

And later, we learned that live animals aren’t accepted either.


Coordinator – “…. and lastly, don’t pick up any dead animals.”

Valancy Jane – “What if we don’t notice they’re dead until after we’ve picked them up?”

Coordinator – *looks at Bethany*

Bethany – *nods, rather seriously*

Coordinator – *blinks and moves on*  “We ask that you look out especially for cigarette butts…..”

Look here


There they were, lined up on the back seat of my car.

I’d just picked up my car from the car wash.  You know how when they vacuum out your car, it doesn’t matter how clean you think your car is, they find a few overlooked items, dandruff of daily life.  And they set whatever the find neatly in a row on the backseat.

When I settled into the front seat, I threw a glance over my shoulder, started the car, and then I turned again and really saw what I’d just seen.  SHIT.

I think I need to change car washes.  Also, if anyone cares, I can absolutely explain each of these items individually.

A coil of soft white rope.  A small kitchen knife.  A box of condoms, torn open across the front.  A Sarah McLachlin cd.

Did you know Van Gogh used to paint still life as portraits?  A collection of objects to represent a person?  Not that that thought really helps.  I’m sure even Van Gogh would think I was nuts if he saw my backseat, and he cut his ear off.

Do you ever get caught up wondering what some stranger makes of a tangible sliver of your life?  Like your grocery reciept, or your pile of dry cleaning?

I probably spend too much time worrying about it.  The fellow that vaccumed my car has prolly seen much, much weirder things.  And most likely he didn’t stop vaccuuming long enough to really see the items he handled in conjuction with each other in any meaning ful sense.   The world out there is not as obsessed with me as I’d secretly like them to be.  Right?

But then I recall an order I put in a few years back.  I joined one of those cd clubs (remember buying cds?  Now everything is an iTunes download) and after buying the required amount, I put in one more order.  If you’d reviewed my complete order history, you’d get a feel for my eclectic taste, but if you were the shipping guy who had to package my last order of two cds, you might be a bit confused.  I know this because when I opened the box, in between Barry Manilow and 50Cent was a hand written note.

“This is the first time these two cds have ever been shipped together,” it read.

So I guess, sometimes, there’s someone paying attention.