Tailgating Seattle

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Where is this place? Let’s go! Photo by Aleksandr Kozlovskii on Unsplash

Tailgaters are the worst. In Seattle, tailgating is a lifestyle.

I’ve tried to figure out why so many drivers here ride bumpers. The only reason I can think of is, population density. Ever since the tech industry exploded (Amazon, Google, Microsoft), people keep moving in.

The tech boom has driven the real estate market sky-high as well. While this is a financial boon to the tech workers, the developers, and the real estate agents, the influx has wreaked havoc on the roads.

My son, 15, started drivers ed last month. Driving around with him behind the wheel’s been even more harrowing, because he’s had to deal with these asshole tailgaters constantly.

It’s not a case of one or two speed demons. It’s 90 percent of the driving population going 20 miles over the speed limit on average, converging into one bottle-neck after another, creating the perfect recipe for road rage.

A few nights ago, my son exited 525 toward North Everett with an aggressive tailgater on his back. This asshole was following so closely that my son couldn’t even see the flashing headlights. He did, however, nearly see the angry driver give him the finger before proceeding to cut him off from merging into the left lane.

Now, this tailgating driver had no idea he was being a dick to a student driver, and probably wouldn’t have given two shits, not at the rate everyone’s going.

Every day, there are several collisions holding up traffic even more, the result of speeding and tailgating — even though there are supposedly laws in place against both. Last night, my son drove by a car that had flipped over on I-405, causing a six–to-nine-minute hold-up.

Did you know that it should only take about 21 minutes to get from Mukilteo to Bellevue? Good luck making the trip in under 50. The average is about 59 minutes-1 hour, 5.

People are so uptight here that they can’t even let anyone in front of them. They literally will cut back in front, just to enjoy an unimpeded view up ahead.

Maybe they’re claustrophobic from all this traffic. I know I am.

Both my husband and I can’t wait to move somewhere quieter.

Recently, Gov. Inslee enacted a new law forbidding distracted driving by cell phone, and, secondarily, drinking beverages, eating, and smoking. That’s how bad it’s gotten.

I don’t have a problem with the cell phone crackdown — in effect since July 23 — but how the hell am I supposed to refrain from drinking my precious Starbucks to wake up on the many drives to and from my son’s soccer tournaments? Haven’t people been drinking coffee on the way to work since the automobile was invented?

What’s next, no talking? This is ridiculous.

I hear Deep Cove, Vancouver’s nice this time of year…

 

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The Woman on the Side of the Road

“I don’t even have words with which to properly articulate what it’s like when you become that deeply fucked up.” –ChristyShawFitness

“Faith can get you through anything.” –DIY Camper

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Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

Something tells me the Truthers aren’t living in their own fantasy world anymore.

Is it me, or is this place overpopulated? I’m feeling claustrophobic every time I step out of my house, on the roads full of tailgaters and in the stores jammed with last-minute, harried shoppers with hair-trigger tempers.

I live in a constant state of waiting for the next shoe to drop. I can only hope I’m ready, as ready as I’ll ever be.

But that’s not what this blog entry is about.

What this blog entry is about is my perennial self-doubt, especially when put on the spot.

I know I’m not alone. Everybody suffers from self-doubt. When the spotlight’s on us, we freeze, worried to death that we won’t come through, we can’t perform.

Even though I’ve never let myself down, there’s always that initial phase of almost-crippling self-doubt bordering on acute self-consciousness that I’m some fake, and that I’ll must assuredly let you down.

When it comes to writing, I always go through this phase. It’s a mix of extreme laziness — do I really have to do all this work? — and extreme insecurity — what if I fuck up?

A fellow writer in Spokane once told me, “We all go through the same insecurity. But then, you realize you know what you’re doing.”

He’s right.

The minute I start thinking about what I’m supposed to do, I’ve already set myself back.

Athletes go through this too. They overthink the shot, then they miss. They overthink the pitches, then they throw balls, or strike out. It’s called, getting in your head, and we’re real good at it.

Nowadays, society doesn’t really put much stock into feelings or gut instinct. But it’s saved my life numerous times.

I remember a few months ago seeing this homeless woman holding up a sign asking for money at the entrance to a Trader Joe’s. I’d see her every time I went there. The burden of guilt, and fear (that I would end up just like her), weighed down so heavily on me that one day I took $40 out, not much, and walked over there intending to simply hand it to her.

Instead, I looked up at her. We locked eyes, and my arms opened reflexively into an embrace. Keep in mind that I am not an affectionate person. I’m kind of a hypochondriac germaphobe. I have no idea where that came from, other than for once in my life I stopped living in my fucked-up head and focused outward, on someone else.

This love flowed through me and onto her. The words that tumbled out didn’t matter. She responded instantly. We both stood there hugging for what seemed like an eternity. Someone else saw us and came out, walking over $20 to her.

After that day, I never saw her again. I hope she’s doing better.

I need to live like that. I need to live. You know what I mean.

Portal

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She seemed so much younger. “That’s not— ”

“Yes, you. If you choose.”

The open console and the prismed, surround picture windows barely registered. But then I was always the kind to focus only on the task at hand while the rest of the world danced — at times, my downfall. That battle really could’ve been avoided if I’d only stayed longer…

“She’s too … pretty. I’m uncomfortable with reconciling such externals with what I’ve endured. I mean, I’ve split men open like pigs on a spit.”

The panels split into a living storyboard. The music rose with every page-turning evolution, a combination of jazz and pop, what I would chase in the next life — an ever-elusive lover bent on self-fulfillment over reciprocal annihilation.

“You decide.”

“I don’t deserve this one. I can’t.”

“Because you’ve killed?”

“Savagely.”

They leave me alone.

The last panel opened up with a view of sun, sky, and water — the Holy Trinity — her living testament in this dreamscape. I saw the pretty girl with a suitor, beloved, forever after, and their sweet, precocious son. The sea washed over their bare feet. A dog barked in the distance. I could almost feel the warm waves over the center of my heart.

But I’ve taken more than any soul could bear.

“I’m sorry. I can’t. Give me the worst one.” My final answer.

(Dream, July 21, 2017)

Plumeria

I will always associate Hawaii with plumeria.

My friends and I used to sew together leis with the milky sunset blossoms that fell around our Army barracks in Ft. Shafter. It was 1972.

I remember my father warning me not to put the milky white sap in my mouth or I would die. “It’s poison.” I think I put my tongue on a wet finger decades later, on my fourth or seventh visit — as a grown-up.

On the last visit, my husband almost died of bladder cancer. We caught it in time. The nick of time. He and our son went back home to Seattle after a week in paradise, leaving me to deal with the ghosts of my childhood for a few more days.

I couldn’t believe how much my island home had changed. Where were the plumeria? I hunted around for them in the streets of Waikiki. One pinkish-white blossom, absolutely no floral scent.

My childhood had gone, died in fact, somewhere between 1972 and today.

When I gazed up into the sky, all I could see were flowers of another kind, man-made flowers that gave off no pleasant smell and felt hot and hard to the touch.

I can hear the Honolulu Boys Choir and Jimmy Borges singing their hearts out, somewhere over the rainbow — far, far from my diminished return.

Newport FC

And sometimes, my predictions turn out to be just wishful thinking.

My son’s first tournament with Newport FC: two wins, one loss, one tie, they made it to the finals. He scored the second goal of the first game, passed, tackled, and kicked with the kind of abandon he once had as a little boy.

“How do you feel after your MCL injury?”

“I feel great. My knee feels even stronger than before.”

… Now, I sleep.

#SoundersFCCup2017

Tilapia with Eggs

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Photo by Timothy Ries on Unsplash

a severed head

maggots oozing pearly whites in their own special sweet-sour sauce (the day I chewed a fly in my Campbell’s Alphabet Soup)

tilapia’s mouth opening on little tiny gray-haired caviar

in one week’s time, a small orchard of U-Pick raspberries awaits before the children go back to school

this dream, mottled with traces of time, where it’s always early morning, the gauzy sore that never quite heals in my early childhood after I fell off a cliff and lay drowned underneath liquid layers of orange soda

my father called her a “cunt”

mother cursed in her ghetto-Korean, her own ball and chain staring, petulant, jagged razor sharp from the corner of our paper-thin room close to the hole I used to shit in outside

where am I now, and should I stay inside this endless gig at the 24-hour Irish marketplace waiting for the gypsy to play? the coffee here is always bracing hot, cream in clouds above the lip of my dishwasher-stained cup

I can’t forget the tilapia with the eggs, his whispery notes playing havoc with my memories

 

8 mm

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The second colonoscopy was… interesting.

I spent most of the procedure transfixed on the screen, where the doctor kept trying to find the polyp. She blew tons of air and washed the area a million times. I think I even saw a ghost of a yellow trail. That must’ve been it.

My doctor didn’t stress either. She had the Dave Matthews band playing in the background while chatting about something — a TV show? “Game of Thrones?” — with the two nurses.

Whenever I’m at the hospital for any reason, I find comfort in the conversations of strangers. When nurses are talking about their day, gardening, what they’re having for lunch, stupid shit, I come out of surgery a lot less nauseated. It’s the same with this colonoscopy.

As soon as I turned to my left side, they let the sedative medicine loose. What a wonderful feeling of release! Unfortunately, my curiosity always wins out, so the sleepiness disappeared abruptly as soon as the doctor casually remarked, “Where’d that polyp go?”

They found the polyp, 8 mm, smaller than a centimeter, smaller than my first two from my first colonoscopy Oct. 2015. Nothing at the site of my prolapsed hemorrhoid, the whole reason for this early follow-up.

I even got a snack this time, yay! The Shasta Cola and Saltines tasted like a Roman feast after a month of war.

The doctor came in afterward, breezed through the results and breezed out. Such a different experience from that first cancer scare. I’m glad I switched.

The nurse assured me that they vacuum up all the remaining liquid stool in the colon from the prep so there’s no danger of accidents. In fact, most people don’t have a bowel movement for several days.

I just had mine, as normal as can be.

The colonoscopy prep wasn’t as bad as it was the first time. I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up from the stool softener and the first drink of that nasty laxative. I actually drank the laxative quickly, no problem. It didn’t taste that bad, either. I wasn’t starving to the point where I resorted to the beef broth, just mostly subsisted on Ginger Ale, some white grape juice, and Gatorade.

I even got some sleep.

What was bad: the low-fiber diet I put myself on a week before. This time, I decided to enjoy myself and pig out on the decadent side of this diet.

Well, now I know that I’m allergic/intolerant to breads and excessive sugar, because I felt like crap, I was never hungry, and I broke out in hives. I also began snoring again, which only happens when I go to sleep so soon after eating and/or eat a lot of carbs.

After my son’s soccer practice today, I headed to the nearest Whole Foods to find cooked shrimp (they make the best cocktail sauce), berries, and a few vegetables to tide me over. Out of curiosity, I finally went over to the salad bar and really looked.

This was the greatest salad bar ever. Whole Foods had grilled asparagus, grilled bell peppers in every color, grilled garlic, onions, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli, edamame, shredded raw beets, shredded zucchini, every kind of lettuce under the sun, chunks of chicken or ham… It is a healthy person’s dream come true, and my salvation the next time I find myself at a soccer tournament in between games.

I’ve missed salad, Persian cucumbers, green tea, Rainier cherries, healthy, natural food.

Tomorrow, I’m taking a friend (Sarah) to one of the best Korean BBQ places ever, not far from where my son practices. She’s been checking in, like a good friend would. I know with her around, I’ll feel less lonely and afraid.

I’ve felt so lonely and afraid, the kind of lonely and afraid that I used to feel when a bully singled me out in grade school for a fight and nobody came to my defense (nobody ever would), or a bunch of popular girls whispered, giggled, pointed, and made slanty eyes at me as they walked by in middle school back in New Jersey.

A few days ago, I was on my husband’s Facebook when I read a few replies to an article I found and reposted about a old ex-CIA guy who supposedly confessed to being a part of a group that was ordered to take down the third World Trade Center building on 9/11. I found the article on Facebook with tons of replies about 9/11 being an inside job.

But when I reposted it, two men said it was fake, with one of them calling me “honey,” and a third telling me to visit a link before I make any more posts like this, like I was a child and he was my Maker. I didn’t appreciate the condescending manner in which they put me in my place for doing what everybody else was doing.

I felt lonely, and afraid that I don’t belong here, that I never belonged, and I never will… that maybe I have a normal chip missing that everyone else has.

I felt retarded, and I’m not making an insensitive slur. I mean actually retarded, like there’s something wrong with me developmentally. They made me feel that way. I’m sure they didn’t even give what they posted a second thought.

Nevertheless, it worked. I deleted the 9/11 thread out of shame.

Later, I read another Facebook thread where these young women (in their late 20s-early 30s) were uplifting one another about knowing when to leave a bad situation (job, place). They used fancy lingo and terms that were both delicate and elitist-sounding, way over my head… the kind of vocabulary ladies who lunch down in the South use to get to know one another in the pecking order, vocabulary I’m unfamiliar with as someone who was born in an extremely poor situation and grew up in a trailer park as an immigrant.

I know there’s something off about me every time I look in the mirror, or try to make conversation — even with the friendly nurses who forget me the minute I’m wheeled out (they forgot to take my weight this time btw). I know I don’t look or sound like everybody else. I know I’m not as smart as that Seattle trumpet player’s beautiful, social, pregnant wife who always knows what to say and writes like a dream. (I do know that I don’t really like either of them very much anymore.)

I just don’t know what to do with my feelings sometimes. I hope that’s okay.

As for my second colonoscopy in almost two years, I’m so very grateful I got through it and am able to get back into the groove of eating healthier.

One day at a time, right?

It’s 3:31 a.m. now. I think I’ll go to bed.

Good night.

Ridealong

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Alessio Lin

“Mom, did you see my goal?”

“Yes, I did. I looked up just as you came charging toward the net,” I replied, looking at him in the driver’s seat, about to charge down I-405 toward home. Then, I felt the tears well up, as I continued my thought. “You looked like you were flying, like some superhero. How’d it feel?”

He felt my emotion as directly as if I’d wrapped him a little too tightly in a blanket. Rather, he nervously endured it. “It felt great,” he smiled, knowing all of the trials we’ve endured led me to be teary.

Later on the drive home, we laughed when he missed an exit, then a U-turn, because of a grape (long story).

I cherish those moments a lot more now that I’m in my 50s — even if it means I’m a sobbing mess.

Tonight on Facebook, I watched a virtual real estate tour of a beautiful, expensive Kirkland, Wash. home. As the camera panned into and out of the palatial rooms, a nursery here, a huge, near-wraparound deck looking out toward Lake Washington, I realized I would never live there, that I made my choices, and it was done for the most part.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get to live out the remainder of my years in a roving RV, maybe a manufactured home for the mail. I’ll probably die of a heart attack somewhere between a campfire in the middle of New Mexico and the morning glories of a Nebraska dawn — with the man I’ve called my husband since Dec. 1, 1990.

It’s too late to teach my son how to play Jacks. I saw a line of snowboards in one of the rooms, and I thought, I’ll never be there when or if he learns to ride one of those things.

I’ve wasted so much of my life doing nothing. Born into this specific life with this specific body and this specific mind — a virtual prison at times.

So, I let my only son drive home after soccer practice — even though it scares me to watch him navigating traffic at over 60 mph. It’s one of the few moments I have left with this now-teenager, quality quality time, and I’ll be damned if I’ll give that up because of a little fear.

Tomorrow, I will make an appointment with a dermatologist to check out two spots on my back, one which scabs but never heals. I’ve had them since 2014.

Within a week, I’ll know what kind of 8 mm. polyp the doctor found in my ascending colon.

Today, though, I tried to enjoy the simple things. I went walking around a track. I ate an apple. I watched my son play soccer as the summer sun peeked through a line of trees.

It was nice. For awhile.

Live-Blogging My Colon Prep

It’s 4:19 p.m., the sun is out, and I’m about a half-hour away from destiny.

Four tablets of Bisacodyl and a glass of water, then the dreaded MiraLax.

I’ve done everything I could think of to prepare for my second colonoscopy in two years, maybe too much. Next time, I won’t go the dirty end of a low-fiber diet, as I’ve realized I’m most likely allergic/intolerant to sugar/bread.

I feel like shit inside and out, pun intended.

Vaguely aware that a lot of people a lot smarter and healthier than me refuse to get a colonoscopy, ever. Even if polyps are found, as in my case.

As my luck would have it, I happened upon a Facebook post warning against colon cleanses, because they destroy the good bacteria keeping us all alive and cancer-free. Of course, I had to go on Google to search for the drawbacks to colonoscopy preps.

Good ole Google. You never disappoint me.

My husband’s off to Bellingham for a gig. He wanted me to come enjoy the waterfront view and the live jazz again, but I had to remind him of the colon prep. Every time I start to feel really overwhelmed, I think of what he has to go through with the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) therapy and why he has to go through it. The man’s been my hero the past two years, facing death head on and doing whatever’s necessary to get through it.

It’s 4:27 p.m. already, and I’m starting to shake.

The first and last time I had to do a colonoscopy prep, well, it didn’t go well. I may have even blanked out the details of some of the trips to the bathroom.

You’d think I’d be used to sudden trips to the bathroom by now, what with my IBS-D and my myriad butt ailments. With IBS-D and my weakened sphincter from many anal surgeries, there’s always the risk of exacerbating/worsening/creating hemorrhoids. If I have too much diarrhea, those hemorrhoids tend to bleed and grow bigger.

One of those hemorrhoids grew until it prolapsed. The prolapsed hemorrhoid they removed in 2015 contained a tubular adenoma, a precancerous polyp — not the kind you leave behind. I developed prolapsed hemorrhoids early on, since I can remember.

Each and every time a doctor has removed one, another would grow in its place, bigger and more stubborn to treatment.

I remember these doctors telling me there’s nothing to be done other than living with them if they don’t really bother me. This is what I tried to tell the doctor who did my first colonoscopy. She dismissed me, outright, focusing on the suspicious mass. She might as well have wished cancer on me.

Had the previous doctors told me the prolapsed hemorrhoid should be removed, I wouldn’t have let it go so long.

I dreaded my first colonoscopy. I was afraid of the normal things normal people were afraid of. But then I was also afraid of triggering a major IBS-D flare that would last for years like the time right after my anal fistulectomy (to remove a fistula down there) in 1995. I couldn’t eat or drink without soiling myself badly. For over a decade.

Nobody could fix me, either.

The colon prep is possibly the worst thing someone like me could go through. I literally don’t know if I’ll be soiling myself all the way down to the clinic and on the examining table. I don’t know if I’ll start hemorrhaging from a bloody hemorrhoid or two from the diarrhea.

I don’t know what will happen.

Hunger and lack of sleep are the least of my concerns.

A week ago, I confided my fears to someone I thought would be compassionate. He just recited the usual Christian line about not fearing death since he’s already been saved by his Lord and Savior. IOW, he checked his humanity at the door and checked out. I’m sure he didn’t mean to, but he came off condescending, cold, and well, not much fucking help.

I’m scared of what I’m about to go through so soon after the first colonoscopy. I’m not supposed to have so many within two years. They’re usually spaced out three to five, even if they find polyps.

I’m scared about what they might find, even though the doctor assured me that waiting nine months past the due date (I was supposed to have a follow-up back in Oct.) wasn’t “unreasonable.” They need to monitor the site of the prolapsed hemorrhoid another surgeon removed. They’re not sure all of the adenoma got removed, you see, so I’m fucked again.

What would I rather be doing?

In my last dream, I found myself back in high school, staring at a freshly developed photograph of the old sugar mill in Aiea. I was young again, and this geeky boy liked me. My only concern was making the next deadline and dealing with an asshole principal who was trying to force us to sign over our rights to free speech.

I also wouldn’t mind a nice English tea on the deck of a friend’s beachside cottage, with a few people I know would show me compassion or, at the very least, a fun time.

Now, it’s 4:45 p.m., and I’m about to cry, so I’ll head downstairs soon to start the process and endure the long night ahead with my yarn and my conspiracy theories.

See you later.

4:57 p.m.