i’m proud of that old man

My father recently was published in our local paper regarding a conflict on the east side with one of our local industries. In addition to sending that letter, he sent a personal one to the paper’s editor, Mr. John Hughes. Here is his letter in its entirety:

Dear John,

I have been meaning to write a letter to you personally for a long time. This is not really a letter for publication in your paper, but you are free to do so if you choose.

I have been troubled by a couple of trends that I have noticed in your paper. First, I feel that your paper is losing its focus on just what is news and what is not. I fear you are becoming a “tattler “type magazine, what with your articles about celebrities in rehab or some such. The check stands at the market are full of articles about the deeds (or misdeeds) of the rich and famous. Personally I do not think that finding out some social lions are, after all, just like everyone else with faults or feet of clay is really newsworthy. I think these kind of stories just contribute to feelings of everyone is bad and things are going all to hell in general. Does the story of Paris Hilton getting a DUI really help your readers to discern what things they need to be concerned about? I doubt it very much. I think you should leave these kinds of stories for others to bandy about.

The second and more important issue to me at least concerns your paper’s stance on issues that are more relevant to those whom your paper reaches. I find it shocking that your paper takes no stance toward the situation in Iraq. Personally I feel it is one of the most immoral things ever but I am willing to hear other viewpoints. I have never seen your paper or you come out specifically with a view on the war. Why is that, John? Do you think the newspaper should not express a personal opinion about it? Pity. I think the newspaper has a social responsibility to the public to present articles which are germane to the community well being. I also think our situation in Iraq is very important to the well being of our community. An even more disturbing aspect of your silence about social issues and responsibilities lies in the field of politics, both national and local. I have yet to see any meaningful discussions on your part concerning the upcoming national election. Your paper seems to sit on the sidelines and wait for some candidate to make a gaffe, which then you report with chortles of glee as if you have reached the heart of the issue, be it health care or defense or whatever. This does the community no service. Pointing out the faults and missteps of the candidates does not make an informed electorate. This is even more disturbing when you do this on a local level. I am a strong believer in the theory of “think globally-act locally”. In this latest election you really dropped the ball. Rather than present an in-depth series on the issues of the candidates, you took a more superficial approach. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Hoquiam Mayor’s race. Right off, let me say that I voted for Jen Anderson but I do not have any deep seated hatred toward Jack Durney. Like many people in Hoquiam, I have a different view of what our priorities should be as far as directions the city should pursue. There is a classism at work here and your paper fails to see it. Why is it the paper has never taken a position concerning Ocean Protein and whether the east side citizens have a valid complaint when they say it is a nuisance? You should interview people like Tom Coyle. You would find him fair minded and informative and, most of all, concerned about quality of life issues in his city. You know that citizen involvement in civic affairs is at a dismal level. Voter turnouts are a major source of shame for a country that allows all people a right to speak out about their government. Yet when the election was over, your on-line paper showed a smiling Jack Durney, surrounded by supporters and gave the impression that all was well and those upstarts who had the temerity to challenge the status quo were put in their proper place. Don’t you find it at all significant that so many people voted against the incumbent? Not just in Hoquiam but other communities as well. Was it not only about 25% of the population that elected the victorious? Hardly a landslide. Jack should spend some time meeting with those who opposed him and really listen to their concerns. I think your paper should do the same. This Ocean Protein conflict is not over by any means. You would do well to go out into the public domain and talk with average citizens rather than sit sequestered in your Daily World offices and sharing your opinions among yourselves.

One final thing. This letter is not meant to bust your ass so much as to express my feelings about the value of a free press. I do enjoy many articles in your paper. I like your Q and A articles where you nutshell someone who has impact on the community and also I like some of your Perspectives articles. Also, John, for the most part I like it when you write an article on the opinion page. I see you as a thinking person and not a knee-jerk reactionary who spouts off wild and crazy ideas. I think the press has a social responsibility that is a few rungs higher up the ladder than a lot of businesses. Your job is to inform the public about the world around them so they can make good decisions about our country’s direction. This is not something that is the responsibility of a company like Wal-Mart say. I am merely asking you to concentrate harder on your civic duty. I would like it if we end up having more conversations about you, me and Grays Harbor. My e-mail address is: deafman01@comcast.net. My home phone is 532-7150. I would enjoy hearing from you anytime. Thank you for putting up with my simple desultory philippic.

David Fisher

After publishing my father’s first letter, Mr. Hughes personally called my father to invite him on the Reader Advisory Board, a term that starts at the beginning of next year.

I can’t believe my dad wrote that many words without one of them being profane. Oh wait, he did say “hell” and “ass”. Good job.

the good, the bad, and the ugly

Today dawned another beautiful, clear, and cold day. My father and I walked our family’s favorite 3 mile route. While I walked with him I remembered how he used to run – used to run miles and miles, near every day. His ability to run was taken from him because of the medicine he’s on. I wondered how many more walks I’d have with him. I actually pray: I hope so many more years. He is precious to me. He has so many ideas now and is working to see some of them brought to fruition. He asks me if I want to be involved in a neighborhood canvassing he’s going to do. Yesterday, he helps me print my zine. We talk about all sorts of things, bit and small; when I listen to him now I listen for wisdom, because this is him offering it. Sometimes what he has to offer is silly or human or wrong-headed. I see him in a new light and appreciate all he has to offer.

Today I thought about how once my parents got back from their trip to the Lake we all joined back up as a family. My mom, despite a lack of sleep, asked the children over to help her install Christmas boughs in her living room (she’s using holiday decorating to liven her mood). We work and flow as a family and even if toes get stepped on now and then, we respect one another and show affection in ways that we did not do years ago. I am glad I moved close to my family. It feels draining not because my parents exhaust me, but because the weight of my father’s illness sullies my every evening in my home. However, the days and minutes I spend with them are a joy and I am daily grateful for them.

I wish I had more to write, more of my trademark foul-mouthed anecdotes that helped me get some readership started years ago. Or something wise and smart to say. I feel tapped out and sad today, even though it was a lovely day really. I feel sad because a few hours ago I learned of a misunderstanding and ugliness on the Thanksgiving holiday, the holiday I worked so hard for (I love how my brother told me – in jest I think – that no excuses, the kitchen is my domain and if something fails, it’s my responsibility). I feel sad because my father is sick and I will never escape feeling sad about this for such a long time. I feel sad because I can’t stop feeling sad at night.

I feel grateful for my children and my husband. I spoke with Ralph this morning about resentment. I told him I didn’t want him to resent my time with my family. I told him, and I tell him daily, how preoccupied I feel. That does not however exonerate me from the responsibilities in my marriage; to have and to hold. I do have him and I do hold him. Beard and all, heh heh.

thanks, giving, taking, illness, happiness

Thanksgiving is come and gone. There was a lot of food. There were visits from family and friends. Yesterday I worked for ten hours straight and didn’t even take a bathroom break. It was surreal. It was a nice day.

This morning we woke up with Nels in the bed (in between Ralph and I – how did that happen again?), and a curious kitty visiting each member of the family one by one with his snow paws until we all gradually had our eyes open and we all had our arms around one another. What’s nice is we get two more mornings like this in the weekend, mornings without Ralph having to rush off to work and me having to get the kids to school.

It seems there were a few people out for walks today as the weather was brilliant and clear. Our foursome walked a little under three miles and it was such a nice time talking with the family – well, especially Ralph who’s looking so especially handsome these days for some unknown reason – and viewing Skanky the Seal in the Hoquiam River. I finished Sophie’s two skirts but lost energy before I could start sewing the dresses.

My parents arrived back home today after their Thanksgiving at the family’s Mason Lake cabin. It was so nice to see them again tonight although being around them fills me with inner sadness I dare not show them. My father is having trouble swallowing because (we think) of the tumor growing just behind his stomach. He kept putting his hands to his face because his new medicine irritates the lining of his throat and mouth. I think it’s like having one’s entire mouth be a canker sore. The steroids are making him sleep poorly. He talked about waking up at 3 AM and being wide awake. I hated the thought of him being alone and wish I was in the house to sit with him. Despite all his suffering he was gentle and sweet tonight, chasing my children and hugging them. We talked about a recent ridiculous letter to the editor and laughed and laughed.

My mom was also bad off. We talked about some of the things bothering her for a while and she was, uncharacteristically, not able to feel better by the time I left. It isn’t just my father and his illness, but also some of her experiences with her own father and two of her siblings this weekend. I think my mom’s world is slowly crumbling in more than one way. I obviously know a lot more about her situation but there is no point to writing more about it here. These days I’m out and about I really will experience what people call “a chill around my heart”. When this coldness creeps into me it stays with me for hours at a time, even if I look like a loving mother or caring wife or a happy friend – I still feel it there.

My children are a saving grace. They give me focus, direction, and ground me in reality. Life goes on and my children are evidence. They are irrepressible, at turns incredibly wise and ridiculously irreverent, made of sturdier stuff than the rest of us. Give them a nap, tell them a story, feed them, wash their hands or play a game of 20 Questions and they are as good as new, able to handle a hike or bad news or a visit to the hospital or help with chores. They give us lessons in survival and unconditional love. I’m not sure what I’d do without them. I’m glad I have them.

we’re running, keep holding my hand / so we don’t get separated

(I’ve been getting a few emails lately in response to recent posts. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback and a lot of support. I want to take this opportunity to thank all who’ve written or said kind words. I will get back to you personally via email but it takes me a few days to catch up.)

This morning finds me walking with Nels in the jogging stroller. First we drop his sister off at school along with her AR reading book and the small collection of supplemental bread-making activities for this week (read=I am a big nerd. Breadmaking Hoga-book download: [here]). Walking, walking, walking. Nels was quiet and happy so I put my earbuds in and had some musical bliss.

We were headed to meet my parents at the hospital for my father’s PICC insertion. This will be the third time in seven years my father has had a long catheter inserted into his veins to deliver poison. I am not afraid of medical procedures and I don’t want my children to be, either; hence at any opportunity we accompany him if he’s willing (so far, he always has been). I have to admit it is a little alarming to watch a nurse pull a three-foot long wire out of my father’s body. It is a little sad to see him in that old-man-skinny look where he can cross his legs like a stork and waits patiently on the bed for whatever horror or annoyance they have for him today (in researching more about his new type of PICC I happen to think the flash screen on the PowerPICC site is actually kind of frightening rather than reassuring). His white socks are stained with smudges of blood from a rash his body is covered with, a skin irritation that lives on even though it’s been a couple weeks since his last type of medicine. He gets dosed again with something less pleasant tomorrow so he is no longer having time to heal and recover before he gets more help/poison.
Still, having Nels and I (and of course, my mother) attending seems to fortify him. Talking to him about the process and involving ourselves pulls him out of a depressive funk and makes him feel, if not fully alive and well, valued and loved and still interesting as a person. Staying away from the reality of medical intervention and treatment would keep it “not normal” which can feel scary. I don’t want him to be scared; I don’t want to be scared. And while talking to him and the attending nurse an inspiration struck: I will knit an armband for the PICC site to keep the area secure and warm. I give a little thank you prayer for what seems to me a good idea.

Nels for his part loves the hospital. Today he is doted on by nurses who give him a coloring book and crayons, fruit snacks and a special little table for drawing. It would have been nice to have Sophie there as the attending nurse tells me she would allow my child to view the procedure. Sophie is a scientist; a frame of mind and state of being that keeps even the most obscure or disturbing medical facts anchored in a rational, curious, and strong mind.

Tonight the family splits forces: Ralph and Nels to a website meeting for the preschool, Sophie and I to swim lessons and then a Knit Night at my LYS. I have a sweater to repair, socks for Suse to finish, and an arm-band to start.

counting the days

Today I went to my parents’ house as soon as I was done dropping off kids and fetching groceries. They were just back from the oncologist’s. They’d heard a number. The number represents the amount of time this doctor thinks my father would have if they “did nothing” in terms of medication or treatment. It wasn’t a very big number.

My parents and I sat at the kitchen table and talked about our options, our choices, the time we have left, all the medicine and treatments and our future plans. It was a good conversation; there was a lot of laughing, actually (my father’s insistence on a coffee-can ash receptacle inspiring recitations of scenes from The Big Lebowski). I felt a lot of hope. It’s also sad, and it just stays sad. It doesn’t suddenly one day get poetic or easy or anything.

In the afternoon after Sophie’s first-ever school conference (high marks, natch!) we went back to my parents’ where the children played and snacked while my mom and I baked up a huge amount of pumpkin pies – 24 miniature ones, and one large one – for Sophie’s school tomorrow. As soon as the pies were done we went to a house my mom is interested in buying (a downgrade from the large family house they are currently in). The house itself was a 1916 little cottage in a ghetto / river / industrial corner of town. The yard was amazing and even more so was the owner who’d built the garden – a jack-of-all-trades, an entrepreneur with glass-blue eyes and painter jeans, gesturing excitedly with his cigarette while talking to my father about solar power. He and his partner had formed the most amazing, beautiful garden I’d seen – orchards of cherry, fig, kiwi, pear, apple – bushes of beans and peas and carrots, potatoes, fennel, tomatillos, garlic – I mean literally almost anything you could think to grow. It was a really interesting part of our day. It was really lovely.

nels is across my lap and i’m spanking his tighty-whities to the beat of his favorite lily allen song

I’m nervous about tomorrow morning. My parents are meeting with my father’s oncologist to discuss his recent PET scan. I have been sad about something but haven’t yet said anything: we have some not-good news as of a couple weeks ago. My father’s CEA count (which is basically, a cancer indicator – read some medical jargon here if you really want to) jumped 20 points at the last test (hence the diagnostic PET). One thing this probably means is he will be off his “nice” chemo soon and back to a nasty one that makes him sick most of the week. Really sick. And full of rashes and nausea and all sorts of un-fun things.

I am dumb and superstitious about that CEA number. If it jumps, I think, He’s going to die. It feels like as hard a blow as it did seven years ago when he was first diagnosed. I am just as upset, and I have just as much of a denial reaction, I am angry at anyone who doesn’t understand what this feels like (which is a lot of people).

Yet I also feel like I’m supposed to have some sort of perfect balance of support, optimism, faith, and gritty realism. Somehow I’m required to have this perfect attitude that will tip the balance towards: longer survival. If I don’t stay vigilant (doing what?) then he will get sick and die. Then there are the days I know that no one is assured any number of days, the moments I am at peace with the inevitability of death, they days I am just glad to have another day. These are the days I walk with the kids in the sunlight and am filled with joy. But then the “can do” attitude admonishes me – not to give up, not to get complacent. Be a winner! – somehow… or… he’ll die. I will be partly to blame. It’s exhausting.

It’s also a helpless experience, because as much as I follow his health and ask how he’s doing and try to be there for him, I can’t help him. Not really. First off, he doesn’t ask for help in any clear way (very few people do). Secondly, I can’t take away the sickness and the poison in his veins no matter what I did (I just add other nourishing things like homemade meatballs and fresh lemon meringue pie).

We moved here in large part to be with family while family was sick and struggling. I am daily glad of this choice although it meant leaving things we loved. If I hadn’t moved here I’d get to avoid experiencing these troubling and exhilarating times. That would probably feel more comfortable than it feels right now. But I’m not really a person who seeks comfort above all else.

yes, i’m listening to confide in me: the irresistable kylie

When I ride or walk around my hometown a forgotten house, a sight of a neighborhood tree or the feel of the air, some small synapse gets triggered and I am suddenly reminded of someone I knew or something that happened I had completely forgot about until the moment it hits me. Today it was a surfaced memory of my brother and I. I think I was in ninth grade and going to go to a dance. I found this electric blue, fitted (but not whorish)* lace-overlayed dress. It was perfect for the semi-formal I was attending and my mom bought it for me from – what was the name of the shop? Jay Jacobs? It was just a bunch of shitily-made clothes for teens and young women but exciting to browse in the preoccupation of liberating oneself from kid-hood into female-ness.

So at home I put this dress on and was looking at myself in the mirror, my under-average-height 130-lb body and new perfect boobs and feeling very pretty and different. And my brother came into the room and I said, “What do you think?” and he said, “Oh…” and I said, “I feel kind of self-conscious because, you know,” and I gestured to what must have been the world’s least-significant slight potbelly (a “flaw” I sensed, rather than felt, would be a detriment). And my brother, Hades fuck him, said, “Well, yeah.”

I didn’t wear the dress; I returned it. Whatever burgeoning confidence I felt evaporated – maybe not because of what my brother says, who knows – and I remember what it felt like to hate my uncooperative and vaguely displeasing body. I of course excuse my brother who was as much a victim and participant in the gauntlet formed against young females as I was. What mostly I think is, I will kick my son’s ass if he ever says anything less than worshipful for his sister’s beautiful body (no worries so far; he loves her fully and completely). And of course, I remember how much I loved the blue of the frock, which I have never seen anywhere else (thank you, Taiwanese textile factory!).

Today I discovered my father is super-excited about Popular Science‘s DIY messenger-bag-cum-solar-cell-phone-charger. I don’t even know where he got the idea (it’s too bad the link doesn’t show a picture; it is kind of cute). Not only does he want to make one (with my husband’s help in choosing electronics), he thinks we should make them and sell them (WTF? I think maybe he was smoking some of his medicine). However despite the fact it is semi-strange for him to be soooo excited, Ralph and are actually so happy he has a project that involves us. I said, “You can show it to Ralph when he comes over tonight,” and he snorted, “What, time to borrow the lawnmower again?” (actually a software install for mi madre).

* Here’s another nice tidbit from dinner at my FOO’s the other night: totally unrelated to this story of the dress my mom, telling my husband how much she was glad I didn’t dress provocatively as a young woman. “I know, I know,” she crowed, “You’d think by her personality she’d be … you know … [a slut!] but she was actually very modest.” O-kay.

omg sweet sweet internet

Since late last night our internet connection has been down. I have always known that email, IM, and blogging keeps me from focussing on other household duties but this morning really proved it. By 11 AM I had roused, fed, and dressed each child, taken Sophie to school via bike, done two loads of laundry, made beds, finished the dishes and cleaned the refrigerator, made homemade pizza sauce for tonight’s dinner and brownies for dessert, and finished the machine-sewing for Nels’ latest pair of pants (there’s a story to these pants I will sew-blog later). The efficiency and pleasantness of the morning is almost enough to make me forgo Inter-Tron during my morning hours. Almost.

One reason I am a badass is that I biked Sophie to school in not only rain but gale-force winds (with the help of The Stills on iPod – thanks J. for the suggestion!). I suspect this will be my life for a while until I can figure out how to come up with $793 for my van and it’s fubar’d fuel pump. P.S. I just got the estimate yesterday by phone and tried to hold off telling Ralph who’s having mental and emotional problems with the realities of our financial situation. It’s too bad we couldn’t be down to one car during the lovely summer months we just spent.

Due to the storm I wasn’t feeling as excited about my normal modes of getting around (biking, walking, bussing). So this morning I’d called to ask my mom if she’d give Nels and I a ride to the library (my current locale as I type here). She was headed to a funeral today – my lifelong next-door neighbor died last week. So I asked for my dad and he agreed to pick us up.

My father is an intelligent, laconic, grumpy person who likes to rudely tease his three nuclear family members in some sort of twisted way to relate to them (example, “Got a job yet?” in a snotty tone to my brother who is currently living below poverty-level – albeit in a nice home with at least one month’s rent paid – while he searches for one and daily grows more anxious and sad). I have decided to choose to believe my father loves me, because his behavior towards me could / does indicate a lack of respect – often. I love him and will always love him. And yes, he can be helpful. When he took me out to my van last Friday he assited me in trying to get a jump and evaluating the problem to be needing a tow, or not (it did. Shit. P.S. I surmised fuel pump and was correct as it turns out. Perhaps I should try to hone my auto-psychic skills to make a quick buck). After we left my van to drive into town he not-so-helpfully treated me to a deriding monologue about how this van is a piece of shit and has been giving us problems from Day 1. When it comes to looking for advice and guidance this kind of meanness / weirdness really clouds my judgment at whether to look to him for assistance and mentorship, or not.

So today when he dropped me off as I packed my son out of the van he abruptly grunted, “What are you doing?” (which meant, “Dear daughter, I am concerned at how you will get home in the storm. Would you like me to pick you up and take you back home when you’re done?“). I said, “I’m just going to use their computer and pick up a hold.” He said, “You’re not coming over later?” I said, “No… I’ve got to get home and do some chores.” He said, “I could drive you back,” in his patented half-offer, half-belligerant delivery that is so uniquely Dave Fisher. I told him we’d bus home, I thanked him, and said I’d see him at 5 when they came over for dinner.

I love my father and that’s one of the major, and I mean major reasons we moved here – to be near my family while my father was facing the last days – or months, or years; whatever his cancer affords him – of his life. But sometimes he and my mother tire me out. His grumpiness, and even more so her excuses for it (for her own personal settling and to encourage my brother and I to settle for it as well). I still love them both and more than ever. I don’t feel victimized by them in any way; I am fully aware that I can bring my desire for different behavior to them at any time, and I have in the past. I am proud of Ralph and I for giving them the kindness of moving my family close to them. I am glad for their help, strings-attached as it sometimes seems. Today, I was glad for a trip to the library out of the wind and rain. That, and the bus-fare I stole out of their van for the trip back home.

car trubble

HQX, 8:15 AM on Saturday
Ralph took a photo walk this morning; he’s been checking out a camera from the college.

Yesterday didn’t go so well. Sure, it started out great. I’d planned a brief Portland roadtrip with Sophie to visit my brother (and maybe my sister too, if the schedule worked out). I woke very excited about a sunny-weather trip. I spent the morning with my kids (both off school for Professional’s Day) cleaning house and giving them their Spring Cleaning, a fun little ritual where we clip nails, clean ears, and do an extra squeaky-clean full body overhaul, the three of us splashing in the tub. Sophie brought out her two green vinyl suitcases and we packed. She rattled off the itinerary for our trip to see Uncle Billy. We went to a six-kid playdate at A.’s while I helped two girlfriends with Halloween sewing.

Then, leaving A.’s house just a tad bit later in my schedule – my car wouldn’t start. And in a, it’s-not-just-the-battery-nor-even-the-starter way. I got a ride into town and decided to feel in despair. My dad came back out with me to A.’s and we confirmed the diagnosis that I was kind of screwed.

By 4 PM I was still in Hoquiam (not happily cavorting with my brother), having paid most of my Portland budget to No No’s Tows. The roadtrip was scrapped. I had a hard time telling Sophie this because I was upset, she was upset, and I didn’t want her to “read” more upset than there needed to be.

At about 4:30 things slowly began to improve. The van – after lots of helpful suggestions and understanding plus phone calls from A.’s house – had made it to our trusted auto shop. My mom, kids and I went to our favorite cafe and I had some fresh coffee. My mom bought me a few homebaked cinnamon rolls to take home. The waitress at the cafe brought in hand-me-downs she’d reserved for Nels (OK, that’s just so sweet). Mom and I made a date to meet up for some sock-knitting tips at the LYS the next day.

I headed home, thankful for kind friends and family, knowing Ralph would be there soon to meet me and try to cheer me up.

having lived it, almost too tired to write it out

The tag on my mom’s bike handlebar claims, “6/30/07 – 1 week”. It had a bad tube and (possible) wheel burr. So after ample repair time two weeks ago I went into the (shall remain nameless) bike shop to check on the bike; not yet. OK. So last week I called to ask if the bike was ready; it was not – but, “I’ll have it done tomorrow. It’s probably a ten minute job.” OK.

This morning my parents, their dog, my children and I walked the family down to the shop, towing the bike trailer behind us and anticipating our first ride together in over a month, yay! (This neighborhood mongrel followed us half the way which really enraged my dad for some reason). We get to the shop and the bike is Still. Not. Done. This time the Goofy Bike Guy (I really need a good nickname for him) is very apologetic – he winces as he hears what bike I’m here for, because he knows it’s overdue twice over. Meanwhile I notice the bike shop – a truly amazing building with more clutter than you can imagine including a 15 foot tall pair of functional display Lee overalls – has filled up with lots, and I mean lots of bikes. More than half the bikes are ones waiting for repair. There are only two employees in the shop, including GBG, and they both seem (understandably) busy.

GBG asks me to come back in a couple hours (that would be 3 PM); I tell him I’ll be in at 4. I leave my trailer inside the shop and we haul our asses home. You know where this story is going, don’t you? Because at 4 PM I once again walk the kids down and we ring in and guess what? The bike isn’t done. Meanwhile, GBG is hurriedly doing a job for a customer who’d come in and said they had “immediate” needs. I have now officially noticed that to get your bike done you have to tell GBG you need it right now and literally stand in his shop while he does it – thereby arseing over the many people who were willing to wait a week or month (but in reality, will wait forever or until they themselves come inside the shop and stand there).

That’s what ends up happening. The kids and I hang out in the shop for the (as promised) 10-minute job. It’s taken up so much of my time today (not to mention the other trips), that by the time he’s done I’m just kind of sad and not even pissed. The total is just $10. Somehow I would have liked to be charged more, maybe because it would have energized me in some way.

Anecdotally: after the first trip to the shop today my mom, kids and I left the shop to immediately encounter a HQX panhandler of sorts (rare here; more common in Aberdeen) who told us the buses weren’t running and she needed gas money for a ride to Olympia to catch a train. “I don’t have any money,” I said (truthfully) and my mom demurred as well. The woman yelled abruptly, “NO! I mean I give YOU gas money and you give me a ride to Olympia!” “Oh,” I said, “No, sorry.” The woman half-stomped, half wandered into the street to flag down cars. Mom and I headed to the sandwich shop and my mom said, “She really did say it confusing,” in almost a hurt tone of voice. We go inside the Sweet Shoppe, sit down. Have to move tables because the top of the table wobbles fiercely. “What’s with this town?” I ask my mom and she laughs. I make a “root toot” farting clown sound with my mouth and jog my elbows up and down.

HQX was not in fine form today.