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Sunday, June 16, 2019

**Quick Post** Hair & Skincare Tip

Sometimes, when you know something, you assume everyone knows that thing. Assumptions are not useful so I'm popping in to share a simple beauty tip with you all. This is for men and women. Here goes:

If you tend to have dry hair or skin, maybe try some of this:

this just happens to be the brand I ordered this time

It doesn't have to be that specific brand. I'm thrifty and have used several brands - all priced under $5. This just happens to be the one I ordered this time around.

You can use this right out of the bottle if you want or you can add it into your other hair and skin products. I rarely use it straight except for on these dry feet of mine. I like to add this to leave-in hair products and skin lotions. I almost don't know what lotion without glycerin feels like.

Glycerin is a humectant. It is ultra moisturizing. Straight out of the container, it feels thick and greasy. Don't freak. Once applied to dry skin, the greasy part goes away leaving a soft and dew-like feel.

Like I mentioned, I rarely use it right out of the bottle on my hair. That's only because it takes patience to apply it. My hair is kinky-curly and thick. When I apply straight glycerin, I have to take my time and apply it to really small sections. That's because you have to smooth the thick glycerin into the hair. It's a pain in the tail, but totally worth it. Applying to damp hair is easier. Mainly though, the easiest way is to apply when mixed in with some leave-in conditioner.

You can use glycerin on your lips and cuticles and rough elbows. I'm not sure of people can be allergic to it so... use common sense and maybe test-swatch or something.

I've been using glycerin for a while, but I did not know until recently that it seems to help perfume last longer on the skin. Score.

So there you go. I've reviewed different brands of glycerin before but assumed most people knew the general benefits. A neighbor of mine never heard of using it for the beauty benefits. It's cheap and versatile, which is why I keep some around.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

**Re-posting** Do I Really Want to be This Alone With My Thoughts?

I am doing a re-post because I don't feel like blogging today and I don't have any of my stashed posts ready to schedule yet... Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy this one (from May 28, 2013) dealing with my special brand of crazy. 

Ever since I saw a post on G+ about relaxation tanks and deprivation chambers, I've been fascinated with the idea.

It seems therapeutic to take a little time to clear your head and just think without all the distractions of life. I started thinking how nice it would be to experience this kind of restful solitude and I wondered if there were any local places that offered the chance to try it out.

You know that anytime you start a search for one thing, you have to wade through twenty-million other things, right? I always start my searches way too general and never do get around to specifics.

A check for deprivation chambers brought up the expected tidal wave of results. I ended up checking out a link to how the chambers work.

Oh boy.

I got exactly 14 seconds in with this video and damn near had to call 9-1-1. Did you see her nose going under water? I couldn't stand to watch any longer. I almost drowned by proxy.

This video is not as exciting and artistic-looking, but at least I got the point without needed follow-up therapy.

Hmmm. Sounds nice, right? Except I didn't hear anything about cost or time limits. Pretty sure these aren't the kind of setups that you can have in an apartment as small as mine, even if you could afford one. Still, I did like the idea of getting enough relaxation and stress-relief to replace hours of sleep.

I sincerely liked the idea until I realized that I would be locked into a tank with nothing but some quiet relaxation. And my thoughts.

Speaking of therapy.

I have trouble with too much relaxation. Seriously.

The other day, I started using background sound videos on YouTube. I've been playing 4 to 8 hours of rainfall, ocean waves, wind-chimes... It was starting to sound like some sort of temple in my bedroom, but the soothing noises to help me stay focused on writing tasks. I liked the effect so much that I decided to use a video of sounds to help me sleep.

Okay. Once again I need to bring up my strange personality - phobia, weirdities and all.

Night One: I drifted off to sleep to the sound of crickets and wind and something that gently ticked. I woke up having a screaming nightmare about insects crawling over my body while I stood naked in a dark windy field looking at a scarecrow that was dressed like the priest in The Exorcist.

Night Two: I tried dozing off to some meditation chants and that seemed to work. I slept longer but still woke up at around 3 in the morning with memories of having performed strange sex acts with someone who (in my dreams) reminded me of my ex. I doused my room with holy water, said some prayers and told Satan to get thee behind me.

If I react like that in my sleep when I get too relaxed, I can't imagine the counseling I'd need after an hour or two in a deprivation chamber. I write to get thoughts out of my head; nothing sane can come of spending too much time with them.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Little Word Art

I am feeling kind of wiped out today so there'll be no non-stop rambling and bitching. It's too hot out to rant. It's been so freaking warm and sunny here that I might have to get a darker shade of foundation... Anyway, I just wanted to share some poetry with you. I mentioned both poets in a previously written post (that might or might not have published yet. You know how I do.)

First up, something lovely by Nikki Giovanni (the flow reminds me of my nieces jumping Double Dutch). Next up, Gwendolyn Brooks will take over. Her piece makes me think of jazz music. By the way, I read somewhere a while back that they share(d) a birthday though Ms. Brooks is no longer alive. May she be resting in peace.

Now some word art for your ears.

And I Have You (by Nikki Giovanni)

Rain has drops
Sun has shine
Moon has beams
That make you mine

Rivers have banks
Sands for shores
Hearts have heartbeats
That make me yours

Needles have eyes
Though pins may prick
Elmer has glue
To make things stick

Winter has Spring
Stockings feet
Pepper has mint
To make it sweet

Teachers have lessons
Soup du jour
Lawyers sue bad folks
Doctors cure

All and all
This much is true
You have me
And I have you

We Real Cool (by Gwendolyn Brooks) 

               The Pool Players.
        Seven at the Golden Shovel.

            We real cool. We   
            Left school. We

            Lurk late. We
            Strike straight. We

            Sing sin. We   
            Thin gin. We

            Jazz June. We   
            Die soon.

(And, the line does read "thin gin" - not "think".)

Everyone have a beautiful day and enjoy your blessings.


I thought this was pretty. Sad but pretty.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Language is Awesome

(Note: today is a little blurry for me. I will make this post as coherent as I can.)

I was watching that show "Beyond Scared Straight" the other night and I'm ashamed to say that I found way too much humor in some of the episodes. One of the parents made a remark that was so funny I had to pause the show to call my girlfriend. First, I had to finish laughing.

First I have to tell you that back in the day, one of my mother's admonishments was "Your mouth's going to write a check your ass can't cash." Well, a parent on that show topped it. When her fast ass daughter was acting out, she told her that her alligator mouth was going to override her hummingbird ass. Man, that is freaking awesome. I'm saving that up for the next time I get to chastise a child.

In a recent post when I was discussing my potty mouth, I didn't get into how much I love the poetry of slang. I wonder if a lot of the popularity of pop music isn't more about the words than the beat. The first time I heard the phrases  "turn up" ( or "turnt" up) and "turn down", I knew they were going to be favorites. I heard "turn down" in a song by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. I'm not a huge Lil Jon fan and I still have no idea who DJ Snake is, but every now and then, I'll hear that song in my head and walk around for hours singing to myself, "Turn down for what?" One of my SILs - also too old or this mess - has started using the phrase.

Once, when my teenaged nephew accompanied me on a shopping trip, he introduced me to a trendy descriptor that I kind of love. I was looking for a specific brand of sandals but couldn't find a pair that I liked. Too pink, too orange, and too "why in the hell did they make a day-glo green pair?' Finally, I explained to the clerk the color I just had to have was muted pink on black. I wanted them to wear with a tracksuit of the same color scheme. I guess I was being just a little dramatic. My nephew made the remark that I was being "so extra". Listen. I knew immediately what he was saying about me. And I loved it. I was ashamed of being such a broke-ass drama queen, but I loved the phrase.

Words are just beautiful building blocks, aren't they? Each generation can change and rearrange them to fit the times. This is why we should read works of literature and prose from all time periods. We are missing out if we only focus on the here and now of art.

Speaking of the (not-too-distant) past, I was only about 13 o r14 when I first read Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "We Real Cool" and even then the intense wordplay aroused my brain. Later in my life, Nikki Giovanni's "And I Have You" and "Resignation" affected me in the same way. But those ladies are officially poets. What I also love is when wordplay just spills out of the streets and into the general lexicon. (By the way, I'm going to have to talk about those two ladies in another post.)

I enjoy just listening to people converse. Some of you might call that eavesdropping, but hear me out. It's not what people talk about but how they talk. The way a person uses language is such a part of their personality. I guess it's what comics call "delivery" It's why one of my nieces is so funny without even trying. (One of my favorite comedians is Kathleen Madigan. She mostly talks about her family and her fairly ordinary life. So why do I end up laughing until I can't breathe?)

Sometimes, when I am not eavesdropping, I pick up and decide to use slang words without knowing enough about them. I've always known that "bae" was a term of affection that older people don't (or shouldn't) use. What I didn't know is that it stands for "before anyone else". Well, damn. No matter what age you are, that's sweet.

To explain someone being upset by saying that they are "salty" is just too perfect. Back in the day, we'd explain someone angry as having their jaws tight or being "heated". I still use that one. I also personally love the term "slay". That so truly expresses someone on top of their game.

"Thirsty" is one of those terms I should not have used before I understood that it meant horny. I thought that when you were "thirsting" for someone, you were just attracted to them. Okay, so technically...

The first time I saw "GOAT" on social media, my silly ass automatically went into conspiracy theory mode. (Stop laughing.) When I found out it stands for "greatest of all time", I wasn't that impressed.

About 10 years back, my older nieces and nephews loved teasing me about staying up with current slang. Well, what goes around comes around and everybody ages. These days, they are getting the same teasing from my younger family members.

I wonder if most people even realize where a lot of the current social media slang comes from. Do they care? Or are they just slinging around phrases mindlessly (the way I did with "thirsty")?.

The now overused term "woke" has been appropriated by just about every internet hipster. I don't think many of them know anything about  William Melvin Kelley. Some of them might have learned about Marcus Garvey. My father taught me about the writings of Kelley and I was given an overview of Garvey at some point in school. I don't remember much about either. Now I have to add them to my list of things to research.

Of course, I know that a lot of black slang dribbled down from our slavery era ancestors. There are - or were - a lot of communities and groups of people who have their own patois.  A lot of us cobbled together languages made up of our mother tongue mated with American English. I think this is what Zora Neale Hurston was paying tribute to when writing phonetically.

Speaking of Hurston and cobbled language, if you really want your mind blown, go check out the Gullah language. My mother had relatives who grew up speaking what she called "Geechee". I wish now that I had paid more attention and asked questions when Mom talked about these people.  I met some of these relatives when I was very young so I don't remember much about their speaking style. (Now I have to go and look at the Gullah language Bible because... who knew?) Thank goodness for the internet.

Not knowing a language is one thing. You expect to feel excluded. What's crazy is that I can sit next to a person speaking English and have no idea what they are saying. I suppose every generation has its own sub-language made up out of their mother tongue. My younger nieces and nephews speak in 'slanguage' I call internet shorthand. Everything is acronyms and abbreviations spoken in rapid-fire bursts. And it's not just with the net-speak; it's the hieroglyphic texts. Adults who haven't kept up at all with internet slang can't read half the stuff on a kids phone.

We older folk should break out some of the slang we once used or at least were familiar with. I clearly remember my brothers and their friends using terms that would still work today. If someone was deeply in love, you'd say that their nose was wide open. Instead of expressing frustration by saying "doggone", you'd say "dag".

To go further back in history with black slang, check out this Glossary of Harlem Slang by Ms. Hurston. The term "jelly" was still in use when I was young and I had no idea what it meant until I was grown. As a matter of fact, a lot of music lovers have no idea what the term "jelly roll" means in the blues or why so many blues musicians include it in their names. I think Jelly Roll Morton is the most famous.

Update: A social media contact emailed to tell me that she and her friends say "Jelly" as shortspeak for "jealous". I cannot keep up with it, people. But now I know something new. Thanks, L.D.

Just for kicks, I'm going to link to this video of Bessie Smith singing "Nobody In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine". Enjoy.

So, yes, language is awesome, but only if we use it to include, not exclude. And that's the main point of this post. Or at least, I think it is. I don't know, I started it yesterday and kind of lost my way with it. Oh well. Now I think I am going to go and read up on that Gullah Bible I just discovered.


"I'd like to think I'm a mess you'd wear with pride."
Yes. Absolutely.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Quick Post for Couples

It's late and I should be sleeping but... I just watched the most amazing series of videos. The series is called "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage". BUT this is NOT just for marrieds. I think that it will be great for couples who are just seriously dating. The speaker is a pastor BUT (yes, I know) the information is NOT just for Christians and the pastor makes that clear at the beginning. The message is about communication and passion (he talks about sex, people) and the things that cause problems in those areas.

I just finished the last video and, even though it's late, texted the link to all my coupled nieces and friends. I think everyone can get something from this message.

By the way, did I mention that the speaker really is actually pretty funny? His delivery can be a little over the top but he made me laugh. And think.

Here is the first video. The other parts will follow on auto-play or by hitting the Next arrow. Enjoy and share it with everyone.


Cursed for Cursing?

This woman has been touching my heart for years.

NOTE: I was not well when writing this post. I just glanced back over it and... damn, I need to pay attention to Grammarly! I have no time do corrections now. I just wanted to apologize. (This is why I try not to re-read finished posts.) Peace.

Every time I think that my best friend and I have discussed everything under the sun, we come up with something new. The other day we started out discussing our need to clean up our language. We ended that conversation trying to figure out what constitutes "bad" language. Fuck if I know.

Seriously. We are both Christian. Also, we both curse. A lot. I have joked that cursing is my second language. I worry that I joke about it. I should not be joking about something that is considered "bad" or impolite. It's no secret that I have a tendency to be repressed. That's what a churchy childhood will do. I'm pretty sure I could benefit from therapy. I've worked out a lot of my issues but I still worry a lot about my cursing.

Here's the thing though: what makes a curse word a curse word? Think about that for a minute and then explain to me how telling someone to fuck off is cursing them.

What my friend and I have come up with so far is that the only wrong words to use are words that actually curse people. I don't want to curse anybody. Not at the moment.

When I curse, it's usually out of affection or camaraderie.

  • "Fuck if I know."
  • "Bitch, please" (Some people substitute that hot-topic N-word. Applies also to the next item.)
  •  "Biiitch" (translation: "You seeing this?" or "Hey, girl, what's up?" or "No you did not!" TMTL too many to list)
  • "Mother. Fuck" (for when I've slammed my hand in a door or tripped and fallen or... TMTL)
  • "Sonofabitch" (same as for above item)
Now that I am looking at that list, I realize I use my choice bad words sparingly. That's a good thing, right? Notice that I don't use words or phrases in anger. My top fave of "bitch" is only ever used with close friends and in extreme affection. It goes along nicely with the word "heifer" (aka heffa). I think I probably curse the most when I am with a bunch of women and we are all being drunky d'drunk drunks. You know, after the 3 glasses of wine.

"strike"? huh. who knew?

I'm not perfect. I do have a couple of words that I only pull out in private one-on-one conversations - and when I know that I'll be forgiven later. Also, I don't think of myself as angry at those times. Those "discussions" are just passionate. As a matter of fact, I can't wait to have another heated convo just so I can use that amazing phrase I learned from an Aussie pal: "Fucking hell." Man! That right there is perfect for so many situations...

Anyway. What is puzzling me and my friend is why is it not okay to use certain "dirty" words (~feeling like I'm ten years old saying it that way~). What made the word "fuck" into a bad word It's just letters strung together like "sex" or "making love" or "ow, I just hurt my toes". We users have made it dirty. But why? Did we just need a word for sex that sounded hotter than the none dirty words for the act of copulating?

Oh, my damn, I think I accidentally answered my own question. Answer: it's not about the words. It's about the emotions words can stir up.

As soon as I used the word "copulate" I totally understood. There is no way in hell that a lover asking if I wanted to copulate with him would sound enticing. "Baby girl, I'm about to copulate you so good..." 

And that, I suppose, is why we need alternate words that are a lot more arousing. Talk about easy population control. Shit.

Still, I don't plan to give up painting a little color into my personal conversations. There are some topics that just need a pop of "no the fuck I did not" or "are you shitting me" (Okay, maybe not that last one. That's one you don't want to think about too deeply.Ugh.")

While I was typing this, I remembered a phrase my late uncle used all the time. His signature line about almost everything was "shit hell" Not "shit and not "hell" but "shit hell". Coming from my uncle, it sounded more like shit tell. He used it for every situation: "Shit hell, Bob, I didn't know you'd been sick"; "Shit hell, I lost my keys"; and "Shit hell, there are my keys". I miss that guy. He would lose his manners in public and tell his disapproving wife: "Shit hell. It's better to be in shame than to be in pain." Fuck yeah.

Just because I like my colorful words and phrases, that doesn't mean I know when not to use them. The first time I meet someone and we hit it off, I let them lead. If they throw out a hot word, I'll give my brain editor some time off. That's a great feeling too. That is a bit of a bonding experience. Like when you reach a stage with a friend where you can unbutton that top button after a meal. Or when you don't mind that they know that you sleep with your mouth open just a little. (Okay, that last one shows how uptight I can be.)

Well, I need to go call my friend. I need to know what she thinks of all this. Hope that bitch is home.


Thursday, June 06, 2019

My Beautiful & Silly Family: The Ladies

(One of my play nieces told me that it would be cool if I put up a video for each post. Sounded cool. Go support an artist.)
I can NOT dance but I fell in love with Kinjaz & Jabbawockeez
after seeing the Jabbas' "Dreamz" show in Vegas. 
The choreographer for this performance
 is Keone. He and his wife are some badass dancers.

Today I feel especially blessed to have such a wonderful family. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have some family that I am embarrassed to claim, but... family is family and I could have done worse.
say "Cheese"

I think that the one thing my family has been blessed with is a sense of humor. The women in the family are definitely funnier than the guys, in my opinion.

This morning, I was talking with one of my nieces who still lives in Alaska. We talk almost every other day. She drives me crazy, I drive her crazy, and we love each other to pieces. She is also one of the funniest people I know. When I was telling her about the little mayflies that swarm around the back entrance of the building I live in, she teased that I was missing the Alaskan mosquitos. I asked if they were already getting bad up there this season. Her response: "One of them is knocking on my car window right now."

One time not too many years ago, this niece and I were at Walmart (as we were just about every other day) and somehow we got onto the subject of cheese (don't ask) and how many different varieties there were. She started goofing around and saying the word "cheese" with an accent somewhere between classy and drunk. I cracked up every time she said it until people around us probably were wondering if they needed to call Security. We carried on like that for at least half an hour because giggles never get old.

I have another niece who is just as hilarious. I always love to hear her tell about the first time she went to meet her then fiance's family. His whole entire family was there - from a great-grandmother down to a pre-teen cousin. It was a family get-together kind of situation and even though my niece is used to large gatherings because of our family, she was still nervous. I mean, this is the family of the love of her life, right? At dinner, my niece was glad to see that apparently, her future family-in-law could cook good food. Eating would give her something to do other than be nervous and she dug right in, picking up a dinner roll and dipping it into some gravy. She tells how, just as she had her mouth full with the first bite, she realized how quiet it had gotten. She looked up to see that everyone was waiting for her to join hands with them and say grace. She says the worst part was she had to finish chewing before she could join in. She and her husband are still together all these years later.

My other niece - who is the mother to that little piece of my heart that I call DJ - tends to have a potty mouth. She and her family were still in Alaska when I was about to move here. In the weeks before I left, I would remind my niece to watch her mouth in front of DJ and warned that he would start to repeat her swear words at the worst possible time. She was a stressed mom of two, trying to hold down the wife gig while working parttime in real estate. She was not doing well with cleaning up her language. I was over storing some of my things in their garage one day when I hear DJ getting scolded for something. I was too busy to pay much attention but when I went into the house, he ran over to me, just sobbing his little heart out. When I asked what was wrong (because I'm the fun lovable aunt this time around) he admitted to whatever bad thing he'd done. To quiet him down, I told him there was no reason to be so upset. These are the exact words he said to me in a very earnest voice: "Uh huh because when daddy gets home, he's gonna tear my ass up." I know I am a strong-willed woman because I managed not to fall out on the spot laughing. My niece heard for herself and couldn't deny that she was famous for using that threat. By the way, DJ's dad is a big old softie who only has to use his "daddy voice" to enforce the rules. My niece did learn a lesson that day though.

You've heard me talk about my sister. She was such a hoot. I have so many stories about her I don't know where to start. She was one of those people who could make you laugh just by the way she changed her expression. And whenever we were people-watching, she could look so innocent while she had me cracking up with comments she'd make. She also made up words that somehow made sense. For instance, she'd describe a fussy person as being "persticular" or a "sticular". Makes sense, doesn't it? She was also brutally honest. I remember once when I was wearing long braids and made the fashion choice to tie a bandana around my forehead one day. I really thought I was cute as could be until my sister asked why I was walking around "looking like a pirate." On the other hand, if my outfit was on point, she'd be the first to compliment me.

My sister and I had a mutual girlfriend (let's call her Liza) who was always doing something different and daring with her hair. You could see her wearing a short bob cut in the morning and by dinner, she might have curls down to her butt. If someone asked, she always said it was her hair. She rationalized that it was her hair since she'd paid for it. One time when my sister and I were out and walking somewhere downtown with Liza, my sister suddenly got so tickled about something that she stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and doubled over laughing. She was laughing so hard, she could hardly breathe. Liza and I had no idea what was so funny and we had to wait while my sister got herself under control. When she did, she stood up holding up one of the weaved in braids that had come loose and fallen from our Liza's head. That set it off and there we were, three grown women, standing on a street corner in downtown Anchorage laughing like loons. I'm pretty sure we made an impression on the tourists.

Liza once shaved off all her hair except for a little tuft at the very top that she (having been 3 shades darker than I am) dyed bright yellow. I don't know what style she was going for but my mother started calling her "Baby Buddha". Liza didn't care and I always admired her confidence.

My best friend (and surrogate sister) is unintentionally funny. When she gets excited or mad she has trouble finding the right words. She called me one day to tell me how busy she had been taking care of some business downtown. She was telling me that, to top everything, she'd had to use an inconvenient parking spot. She couldn't find one on the street and had to use (her words here) "You know - that place where they stack the cars". We are so connected that I knew right away that she was thinking of a parking garage.

My friend and I have cellphones and landlines. We call each other on whichever phone happens to be most convenient. Once when we were talking I could tell that she was distracted and rummaging around for something, She said she has lost her cellphone. She went on and on about not replacing it if she couldn't find it because she hated her service provider anyway and she was always losing the damn thing and blah blah blah. As she went on and on, I glanced down to see which number she was calling from. She was looking for her cellphone while she was talking on it. I almost didn't have the heart to tell her.

I can't tell you how much I love that I have (or had) these women in my life. Just thinking about them today has made me feel happy inside. I think I will go call my best friend now because we have a lot to laugh about.


NOTE: Mentioning "today" is not accurate since I am having to rearrange the scheduling of this post. My bad.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Raw & Exposed?

(One of my play nieces told me that it would be cool if I put up a video for each post. Sounded cool. Go support an artist.)

This is just so real. #songstothinkby
I listened to the live version during 
one of my deep blue moods and the song understood

I have just now scrapped the 16th manuscript of my book. It may be more than 16 but that's all I counted among the files on my computer. Yesterday, I got all sad and crazy for half an hour and even deleted the files from the computer. I just know that in a few weeks I'll be like a junkie looking for any crumbs that might be left somewhere.

Whoever said that writing was like giving birth probably knows what the hell they are talking about. I have never given birth but this book is long past due. This book is, seriously, festering inside me. Maybe it's more like a newborn because it's messing with my sleep and my nerves. One night not long ago, I woke up out of a dead sleep to go look at a particular passage that was lurking and re-writing itself in the back of my mind. I damn near broke my neck when I tripped over some slippers next to the bed. Now tell me if that doesn't sound like a mother irrationally worrying that her baby might have stopped breathing.

Maybe I shouldn't even worry about getting the book up on Amazon. Maybe the creation is enough in itself without being seen by anyone else? Maybe, right? (And don't even get me started on the nightmare that is Kindle Direct. I had just kind of gotten used to Create Space.)

So I am giving a lot of thought to just keeping my work to myself. I have wondered if I am even ready to share such a baring of myself. Sometimes I read a few paragraphs of the manuscript and feel mortified, Why?

I can remember reading a particular book where a character was having a sort of sexual awakening. And I kept wondering if that part of the fiction was a bit autobiographical. The character was a bit twisted in their thinking on love and connection and I wondered if the author was creating art or writing a self-portrait. Isn't all fiction a projection of the many personalities that make up the writer?

So when I am writing about something raw and exposed, I know that a reader will be examining me. I should be so lucky.

Anyway, lately, I have been grappling with my introverted nature. Everything that I am is what I am, but some of what I am cripples me. Does that make sense?

I don't know how some people do what they do as artists and creatives. How do you compartmentalize your personality? Like when an actor has on-screen sex, part of me is watching the scene as meant - an overall piece of the story - but part of me is wondering how someone can handle such exposure. (Yeah, I see what I unintentionally did there.) I would make a lousy swinger because I can't imagine having someone observe such a personal and sanctified act. I don't even like to trip in public where people can see it happen.

Have you ever seen someone in such emotional pain that they didn't care about being seen? Don't you think that takes a certain kind of honesty and realness? To just feel what you feel to the point that nothing else matters? Well, I don't lose control like that. I don't know how to. I was taught to be private with my grief but public with my joy. I always thought that was a good thing - a good way to be. It's a type of armor against a world that will exploit that kind of "weakness". But I think I've let that attitude - that emotional prudity (prudishness?) - seep into and infect the writer in me.

(And I apologize for slipping into some Ye Old English kind of language! I didn't even spell today. Grammarly is over here flashing red like DEFCON 5 but I don't have time to do a dictionary check. It's been a rough morning for my brain. Sorry.)

Writing should be, I think, raw and real. I think that as a writer, I shouldn't be afraid to "cry ugly" - you know, get all snotty nosed and red-eyed. The thing is, I have trained myself (or been trained) to hold in so much as a part of society. Now I am finding it really hard to loosen that valve a little bit when I write. And damn, I almost mentioned the "stiff upper lip" thing but I've had just about enough of Britain stalking my brain today...

So. Here I am. I need to find a way to take off my "draws" and do my nude scene. And that is going to be so difficult. If I can't do that, I might not be able to call myself a writer.

I have to go away and think about all of this some more.


Monday, June 03, 2019

Where the Loved Ones Go

Does anyone else get in a mood where they just sit and think about the people they've lost touch with or just lost? I don't mean in a sad way - like when you start grieving all over again like you never got a chance to in the first place. I mean, like when you just thought about one of the people you've loved, then think of another and another until you go ahead and give in to all the memories? That's the mood I was in earlier today.

It dawned on me long ago that I do my best thinking when I'm not trying to think. This is why I have notebooks and pens scattered all around my apartment. It's also why I have notes scribbled on pieces of scrap paper. If someone ever cleaned out my purse and tossed out all the gum wrappers and receipts, I'd break down and cry. Every now and then, I do have to go through my purses and backpack just to collect the bits of my "thinkings". I'll either transfer them to one of my journals or put them into a folder to be dealt with later. What's crazy about this is that, when I move, I have to make a box just for all that paper and the journals. Too many memories and story ideas are buried in them. I sometimes fantasize that when I die and someone is handling my belongings they will read those scribblings and think, "She wasn't crazy, she was trying to remain sane."

A lot of the notes I have are about the people I love. If I remember a story my mother or father told me, I'll hurry and write it down. My memory is bi-polar reliant so I've learned to take mental snapshots and then print them out of my brain onto a note asap. Anyway.

This morning when I was cleaning and gathering up laundry, I thought of my Auntie "Lenore". I had a scarf turbaned around my hair so I wouldn't mess up my twists. My aunt never wore a scarf like that but something about it reminded me of her. I used to call and talk with her at least a couple of times a year, then it was once a year and then it was once every other year. I hardly ever call anymore. That's because we have the exact same conversation that lasts about 3 minutes. We run through this checklist of how I and my siblings are doing, then she tells me she's doing fine, and then she wants to get off the phone because she thinks it's costing me too much money. I don't think she gets the whole AT&T gouges me really good once a month so I can make all the calls I want. The gouging does not get any more gentle if I never even touch my phone. And don't think I am heartless for not calling Auntie any more often. I have younger aunts who use social media and keep me up to date.

Once I thought about Auntie "Lenore", I thought about another of my aunties. I'm going to run out of fake names here, but let's call my other auntie "Rosa". She was killed about 15 years ago when a drunk driver ran her down. She was one of my favorite younger aunts. She was sweet as southern tea and so shy that she practically whispered when she spoke. She had a beautifully innocent smile that I will never forget. I remember how she had a habit of ducking her head if anyone paid attention to her. She was that shy. I already have some notes tucked away that I scribbled about her.

Of course, I also think a lot about the mother of one of my SIL's. I remember feeling so broken when I was leaving Alaska once because it was right when she was suffering from dementia. (By the way,  but I didn't mind sharing Marie's real name because her daughter and I decided that she would have wanted me to.) People use the term loosely but Marie really was so "full of life". I'm happy to say that if I concentrate, I can clearly hear her voice right now. I have not forgotten her sense of humor or the way she and my mother got along just enough to drive the rest of us crazy.

Anyway, there's something I started wondering about while I was in this mood. Do you suppose that when we are dying we are already glimpsing whatever is on the other side? And what do you think it feels like in your heart or soul as you realize that "this is it?"

I have very distinct memories of watching at least 2 people die. One was my mother and the other was my sister. Neither was awake for a while before the machines flatlined but they had been so still and peaceful for so long that I always wonder if their souls hadn't already gone on. With my sister, I know that at least for a while she was somehow aware of me sitting next to her. When I held her hand and talked to her, she squeezed my fingers once. But that was early in her last hours. Just before I dozed off on the night she died, I had combed her hair and talked to her. When I held her hand then, she didn't squeeze back. Like we had done with my mother, I told her she could let go because I would be okay without her. I'm such a liar

Are you afraid of dying? Why? I don't mean do you want to die. I don't think that anyone does on most days. I want to know if you are afraid of what it will mean to be dead? I have always joked that I'm more afraid of getting dead than being dead. That's true. I really would rather not see it coming. I don't want to have to stress about things left unsaid, undone,  or finished. If I had a say, I'd want to just be here one minute and gone the next. Let's make that the next second. No need stretching things out even a little bit.

On the other hand, there are times I think I'd like to get a chance to take care of a few things. Say that last "I love you" or "I'm so glad you were in my life."

Never mind. I take it back. I'd rather not have time to plan or think about it.

I also wonder what it must be like "on the other side" (and I hate that term!). I've read the Bible and some other books about the afterlife. I've never been very clear on the whole subject. Once I asked someone if they thought we were going to be instantly "aware" after death. They made a point that maybe only Christians will find interesting. They reminded me that the Bible teaches that the thief hanging next to Jesus was promised that he would be in paradise with the Lord "this day" - meaning no sleeping in his buried body or anything like that.

No matter what you choose to believe, I want to have all this stuff sorted out in my head and in my heart before I die.

When I think about sudden death, I remember one friend and former co-worker who died of a brain stem stroke. She was in her forties and had just fallen in love for probably the first time ever. "Sue" was damn near family because a cousin of hers was dating a brother of mine. She had this maniacal laugh that was freaking contagious. It sounded like Dudley Moore playing "Arthur" - only more feminine. She'd had some difficult times in her personal and work life and just when everything was coming together in a positive way, she was taken. There wasn't any time for her to ponder the situation. She woke up for work not feeling especially well but just assumed she was coming down with a cold or virus. She made it to work but developed such a bad headache that she returned home to sleep it off. And she died.

Sue and I had discussed more than once how sometimes life just didn't seem worth living. We were both dealing with heartache and disappointment. You go through enough of that as you are getting a little older and you start to feel like all your chances for happiness have passed you by. Sue struggled to live during the times she felt like dying would be better and then she died just when her life was getting good. This will make you examine your beliefs.

I always imagine that "Sue" probably laid down with that headache thinking of all the things she'd do once she felt better. Maybe she worried about the work that would have piled up on her desk in her absence. Maybe there was even one particular client she knew would be impatient about the holdup in their paperwork.  I wonder if she had gotten to kiss her boyfriend or lay down with him in love one last time. I wonder if she got to tell him she loved him before he left for work that last morning. These are not things that are easy to ask the ones who remain behind. These are things that we can only wonder about and hope the best for.

When my father died, he was almost 5000 miles away from me. On the morning he died - a couple of hours before my aunts called to tell me - I had mentioned to my mother that I thought I heard him calling my name. Of course, we knew he was sick and I had just come back from visiting him. My mother told me that it was probably just because I had him so much on my mind. I'm not sad about my father today (like I can sometimes be). Today I am thinking of his smile (much like his sister/my auntie) and how he pronounced "either" and "neither" as "eezer" and "neezer" because he never lost his Arkansas countrified accent. I inherited his flat fingernails and these nappy assed curls that have to be tamed with all kinds of products. But I also got his long-for-our-height legs and decent metabolism. And If I really get to missing my daddy, I can always go look in the mirror or visit my little brother who looks "the spitting image" of him.

So, yeah, I get in these moods where I can't help thinking about the people I've loved. I think about them and I wonder if they know how much I love and miss them even when they can't hear me saying it.

And not because I am sad today, but because I love this song and forgot to add it to my list. It's by Dani and Lizzy. Please go support them for sharing something beautiful with those of us who grieve the loss of loved ones.


Me and Somebody's Wine

(One of my play nieces told me that it would be cool if I put up a video for each post. Sounded cool. Go support an artist.)
Sing it, Melody. Making me want a cigarette and some bourbon...

So. We all should know by now that I'm not a champion drinker. I am actually the cheapest date on the planet. After a few mixed drinks, I am a fun gal. But if I go just one drink over... That's with mixed drinks - or shots of something I can handle the taste of, like Crown Apple. By the way, that stuff is like Kool-Aid for fools. It's tricky-good. Tasty but dangerous. I've discovered I have a 3 shot minimum on Crown.

Wine, though, turns me into a different kind of fun. Wine generally just makes me feel very mellow. After a moderate glass of sweet wine, I am great company. Not too chatty or hyper, but sober enough to be good company. That's if the wine is not too strong. One decent glass of anything stronger than church wine is better than any sleeping pill my docs know about. As a matter of fact, for a long time, I kept a bottle of wine around just to use as a nightly tonic. Then I worried that maybe I was getting a little too habitual about that.

Once some years back when I was staying with my best friend, her sister treated us to a holiday outing to spend an evening at a ranch turned winery. It was during the Christmas season. The plan was to take a tour of the winery, have some casual eats, then participate in a wine tasting before finishing the evening off with a hayride on horse-drawn wagons. I was excited about the hayride and super-excited to do my first wine tasting.


What had happened was... (and please don't laugh too hard at me) is that I made a rookie mistake. I was swallowing more of the wine than I was spitting out. And, yes, I knew to spit because that was part of the little lesson we were given beforehand. The problem is, I liked some of the wine too much to spit it out. Listen, we tasted a lot of wine. Yes, we did.

I never did make it to the hayride but I made really good friends with some guy at our table who was as drunk as I was and who kept squinting at me while we talked. I think he was trying to figure out which one of me he was talking to. Every now and then, he'd throw back his head and make this crazy cackle-laugh sound. And I wasn't saying anything especially funny. My girlfriend was as drunk as I was but she tends to stay classy and get quiet when she drinks. She only spoke long enough to whisper to me that I was talking with a guy who was probably a retired serial killer. Her poor sister could only shake her head and tell us to try to eat more food while she went on the hayride.

The best thing about having gotten drunk that night was it made the ride home fun. We'd driven probably two and a half hours to get to the ranch in the first place and we'd gotten lost twice on the way there. We didn't realize until someone mentioned it to my friend's sister that we would be driving right through one of those sundown towns on our way back home. There we were, sometime after one in the morning, driving super carefully. My friend's sister was stone-cold sober but worried about her two drunk passengers. She kept giving us instructions on what to do if we got pulled over. Let her do the talking; maybe just pretend to be asleep; and, please try holding our breath because we were damn near making her drunk from the fumes coming off of us. Thankfully, we didn't get stopped but my best friend almost popped her bladder trying to hold her pee the whole way home. That was the one time wine didn't put me to sleep.

Still, I'm not as bad a wine drunk as I am a Mother's Day drunk. Like I said, the most I do with wine is just fall asleep or - only occasionally - think I can sing and want to prove it. There were times during my sister's and my clubbing days when everyone made me stick to wine only. Because they knew what I was like on mixed drinks. A predator wouldn't have to slip me anything stronger than an extra shot of liquor. During those wine nights, I fell asleep at inappropriate times. Once, I fell asleep in a booth at a club. My friends just made a pillow and blanket with their coats for me and partied on. Back in my twenties, I fell asleep in places like Denny's and IHop. It took me a long time to learn my fun-but-not-narcoleptic limit of wine. By then,  was pretty much over it. For the most part.

I'm not proud of my drinking past and I never drank as much as it might sound like. I guess because I never even flirted with drugs, I made up for it with my drinking, such as it was. The only experience I have with drugs is the time I got a contact high and laughed uncontrollably for half an hour straight and the time I ate some weed brownies. Made with Alaskan grown weed. No thank you. Have you ever been to Alaska? This is what an Alaskan grown cabbage looks like.

Yeah, so Anchorage was like stoner heaven. For years, we had friends visit us just because the city was ahead of the game with personal use legalities. And some of the best weed ever. Or so I've been told.

I do think that drinking can be as dangerous as drugs. I'm lucky that I was young and stupid and living in Alaska when it was still a relatively safe place. Very, very lucky. I only went out with family or people I knew really well. It was my sister who left me sleeping in the backseat of the car once. I had apparently passed out into a drunk snooze on the way home and she and my sister-in-law couldn't wake me. They had the nerve to say later that I had been snotty about them trying to wake me. So, they left me in the car, in front of my brother's house, in the middle of winter. I wasn't cold because they had covered me up but I was still a little freaked out when I woke up a few hours later. I got out of the car because I thought I was sober. I wasn't. I got back in the car and went back to sleep. Good times.

Those days are so far behind me now. Thank everything in the heavens.

I was talking to my best friend just recently and she asked if I had plans to do anything special for my upcoming birthday. Other than thanking God that I've made it this far? I told her that I plan to maybe get a mani-pedi and probably just spend a few hours with the family. That's enough excitement for me. I had been kicking around the idea of going out for a drink with my sister-in-law but decided to keep any celebrations on the thankful and adult side. Once alcohol gets involved, who knows, I might have to move to a new town or change my identity.


NOTE: I'm going to have to schedule this post for another day along with some other backup posts so... ignore the mention of dates.  

Saturday, June 01, 2019

The Great Alcan Adventure: The Slow Goodbye

Okay. So I checked and saw that I left off last time telling you all about the snowfall that hit on the day before we were set to drive out of Anchorage.

I have to pause to tell you a little side story about me and that damned Subaru.

Not only were we leaving my brother and the SIL, but we were also leaving their newborn - my then newest niece. She had been born small and had issues with her esophagus. Something about it needing more time to fully develop. My mom, sister and I hated that we were going to miss her first months of life. Then - just before we were due to leave - we had a little family scare. We thought it was a big emergency but it turned out to be a little one.

On my last Friday at work, there had been a going-away celebration for me. I really loved the people I worked with and (as you will see later) they kind of loved me too. Because of the party, I got home about an hour later than usual. This was great because I'd missed the normal traffic and I was a lot more relaxed once I got home. That's such a good thing because my nerves got a great workout about an hour later.

Since most of our belongings had already been shipped off to Arizona, we were living like campers. The kids thought it was great and we all were having a nice bonding experience. All we had were pallets to sleep on, food and beverages in coolers, and the house phone that was going to be turned off on Monday. What a blessing it was that we had left it on because it rang while we were getting the kids washed up after dinner.

I don't remember now which one of my brother's kids called but they were pretty frantic, telling me to get there. I could hear my SIL in the background just freaking the hell out. All I could make out from the call was that something was wrong with "the baby". I yelled for them to call 9-1-1 right now. (Tells you something about our family dynamic that the kids called us first instead of emergency services.)

And then this is where I relayed to my mom and sister that we had to get to my brother's house right now. I think all they probably got from me was that something was wrong with the baby.

Now, here comes a lesson in the way the human brain works.

My mom, sister, and I leave my teen niece with the twins and run for the car. I have ZERO ideas about how I was the one who ended up in the driver's seat - may be just because I had stupidly grabbed the keys???

Listen, I jumped behind the wheel, started the car and drove like a maniac all the way from the Northwest side of town where we lived to South Anchorage where my brother and his family lived. The three of us jumped out of the car and ran inside to see that... the baby was now fine. Apparently, she'd had some baby slobber slide back down her throat the wrong way. The doctors had warned her mom and dad that it could happen. They'd also told them not to panic when it did. There were ways to hold the baby that would clear the passage - WHILE SOMEONE CALLED 9-1-1. I remember that that had been the most important part of the instructions.

We were all so relieved that my niece was okay that we didn't give her mom much of a hard time about calling us instead of the ambulance. She thanked us for getting there so fast. And then it hit all of us at the same time. Everybody looked around at me in amazement.

My mother would always tell this story later and remind everyone that "my baby drove the hell out of that car."

I never did drive a stick shift as smoothly as I did that day. As a matter of fact, my sister ended up driving us back home that night. Isn't the human mind a strange thing?

Anyway, back to the main story.

The drive down the Alcan started off kind of rough. I was really worried about that snow. My sister and I had just gotten the hang of driving our new (old) stick shift car on dry ground. Okay, let me quit lying. My sister had gotten the hang of it. I was just managing not to hurt myself while driving that Subaru.

Everyone hated when it was my turn behind the wheel. It wasn't that my driving was that bad, but I had to have complete silence. When my sister was driving, conversations could be held, music could be played, the kids could sing silly little songs. I, on the other hand, could not handle distractions of any kind. One of the things I hated about that car was that I couldn't listen to the radio while I drove. I'm too easily, well distracted. If there is a conversation, I must be a part of it. If the kids sing, I find it too adorable not to join in. But music is the worst for me. I am the person that cannot help dancing a little even if I just hear a catchy product jingle. So, as soon as I took the wheel, the twins took a nap, my older niece pulled out a book, and my mom and sister shut down like they'd been unplugged.


Anyway, we got to Whitehorse and spent the night, thinking that we would stop every few days, long enough for mom to stretch out and get some rest in a bed. Well, we got about 60 miles (I'm just guessing) out of Whitehorse when the craziest thing happened. The entire chassis dropped from underneath the car.

Thankfully, my sister was driving when it happened and she had felt a slight shaking just in time to pull off to the side of the road before CLUNK. Yeah. I didn't even know that was a thing that could happen - to drop the whole bottom of the car. It happened.

My niece and I had to hike back towards a closed-for-the-season campground we'd seen. I don't know how far back. It might only have been maybe three miles, but in my memories right now, it seems like it could have been ten miles.

We hopped the fence of the campground, hoping that there might be payphones. It turned out that there were caretakers living on site. They only spoke German. I knew 2 German words: bitte and Guttentag. However, I was fluent in charades. They called for a tow truck and a second vehicle to carry our family. At least I was able to say "thank you" in their native tongue.

We spent a couple of days in the same Whitehorse motel we'd just checked out of while mechanics figured out that the car was (and I am serious here) repairable. They said that some bolts had vibrated loose but they had soldered them.

Of course, I had called the brothers and discussed the situation. We had options of buying a car in Canada or getting on a plane. One of the brothers was insisting that he should fly into Canada and drive us the rest of the way in a different car.

If my mother didn't believe in the power of prayer (and if we didn't trust her belief), we would have either been digging into our budget for another car or plane tickets. But we Conway chicks were tough and we didn't want the boys in the family to forget that. We decided to keep driving in the Subaru.

There is a reason you see a lot of rusted out Subarus on the roads in Alaska. Believe this or not but we had no more trouble with ours (and, as a matter of fact, we gave that car to Arizona friends who might still be driving it to this day.)

We really didn't have to worry anymore about the Subaru breaking down. We did, however, almost slide her off the edge of a cliff. I can't even remember where we were in Canada when that happened but I remember that it was pitch-black nighttime. I also know that it's a good thing my cool-headed sister was driving and not me. And that there was only the slightest bit of slick snow on that part of the road.

What had happened was, we had started up one of those steep inclines that curved. We were steering around the curve just as we were getting to where the incline was about to level out. There was no guardrail to the driver's side of the road where there was a deep drop - which I why I used the word "cliff". On the passenger side was a slight ditch. In that ditch is where we saw the headlights of an upside down car.

We were startled and my sister's first thought was that people might be hurt. She slowed down enough to glance over but then our car started to slide just a little.

If we had been in an automatic transmission, my sister would have instinctively known how to turn with the slide and get some traction. Being in this new (to us) stickshift, she panicked a little and we were just... sliding.

I have no idea how she got hold of herself long enough to think, but she did. Somehow, she got traction and the Subaru whined a little and then the wheels caught and we made it the rest of the way up the incline. All of this happened within the space of maybe four or five seconds. A very long four or five seconds.

Have you ever caught your breath and forgot to breathe again? I think that's what happened to all of us. I know it's what happened to me because I was about to faint before I remembered to take a breath. My mother was the only one who just sat there, arms crossed under her breasts, eyes closed and (I'm sure) praying. When we made it up that hill, she just said, "Oh, thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord."

We were still really worried that someone might have been seriously injured in that other car. I mean, how the hell had it flipped like that? I was trying to remember if the wheels had still been spinning.

Just maybe a mile up the road, we saw a little shack-like motel or inn that had a light on. We stopped there and my sister and I went in to see about calling for some kind of emergency service or something. Guess what? The people at the desk told us that they knew about the wreck. The driver and passenger were okay and had been driving drunk.

I was pissed. Why the hell hadn't the drunken fools turned off their headlights? Why had they been driving drunk on such a bad stretch of road? (Not that anyone should drive drunk on a good stretch of road, but...) And, by the way, who the hell did you call if you got hurt out here in the middle of nowhere?

When we reported back to my mom, I was still really mad. Then she pointed out something I had thought about. Wasn't it a blessing that we hadn't been in the wrong spot when that car was careening around on a dark mountain road?

Okay. Score one for Mom.

The rest of the trip through the Yukon and into British Columbia wasn't too bad. There was that one long stretch between Watson Lake and (I think) Ft. Nelson that will make you happy to have a gas can. A lot of smaller stations and businesses shut down for the winter season so fuel stops have to be timed really well.

And then there was the time I was driving one morning and made the entire commuting population of a town hate me.

I can't remember the exact place but I was driving out of one little community and toward another one that was maybe 10 miles ahead. And because it was really early and still dark, I wasn't driving so much as I was creeping like an octogenarian with bad eyesight. I think I was going maybe 35. In my defense I was tired and the road was all gravelly and rutted. In addition to all that, there were all these blinding headlights behind me. At least it was quiet because everyone else in the car was asleep. Until my mother woke up.

She looked back at the lights behind us and asked, "What's happening?"

Happening? I had no idea what she meant. My sister had woken up now and she looked back at the lights behind us. She commented that it looked like we were leading a funeral procession.

Apparently, I might have been slowing up the morning work commute for some folks. And this time there was no nice lady riding behind me with her flashers on...

As soon as the little gravel road turned into a two-lane street, I couldn't even get over into the slow lane before cars beat me to it and started zooming past.

You know that stereotype about Canadians being some of the nicest people ever (I see you, Keanu). Well. They weren't very nice to me that morning. As a matter of fact, I've driven my bougie ass through gang territory in Oakland that had friendlier people. Shit.

There's really not much else to tell you about that drive. We didn't run into very much snow, thank God. Unlike back in the early seventies, most of the Alcan was paved - or at least not hobbled together with gravel and mud. The Alcan is an incredibly beautiful experience. I highly recommend it as a bucket list item. Kids will see so much natural beauty that they won't mind being in a car for days and days. I, however, have done that drive more than enough times and the only way I would ever do it again is if I was madly in love and the object of my affection wanted to drive it. And I do mean he'd have to be ready to do the whole damn drive!

Fun fact: One of my Iowan neighbors actually helped build the Alcan. When he found out I had moved here from Alaska, he was pretty psyched. He actually wrote a book about the Alcan.

The best thing is, when you are driving the Alcan out of Alaska, it gives you a chance to do a slow goodbye. It's like getting that last sweet and lingering kiss from a lover. I want all my goodbyes to be as beautiful. To this day, I miss some things about Alaska. Most of the family memories I have were made in that place.

The people of Alaska are a big part of the state's beauty, More and more lately, that is fading. Back then though, people who moved there became infected with the friendliness and laid-back attitude that is being Alaskan. The company I worked for there had come up to expand on their hubs in Portland, San Francisco, and Memphis. After just months of the transplanted employees being around us Alaskans, they fit in perfectly. As a matter of fact, I didn't last long in Arizona that time around (another story for later maybe) and ended up going back to the same employer after less than a year and a half. The company was one that I was associated with for a lot more years. Some of the people who moved to Alaska to work with that company stayed after the business was sold and incorporated into what is now FedEx Trade Networks.

Just to make you understand why people love Alaska the way they do (if they do) is to show it to you. It's a gorgeous place. And it's one of those places where you don't have to be rich to enjoy the loveliness. Even with the unzoned, unmatched architecture of Anchorage, you can ignore the manmade ugliness just by looking up at the mountains. Just a ten-minute drive out of Anchorage in any direction and you are in the middle of postcard territory. Seriously. Let me share just a little bit of the view.

This is Beluga Point - just about a 5-minute drive heading out on the Seward Highway.

I'm a horrible photographer and even my bad shot can't kill the beauty in that pic. I took the next one a few years ago just holding the camera out of the car window.

My niece - who still lives in Anchorage (and is a much better photog) took these recently to post on her Instagram:
While out walking her dogs

Just on a drive somewhere in town
 And this beauty right here. I think my niece was on her way back from a fishing trip. Tell me this isn't postcard-worthy. (And don't steal the photo like I did.)

I think you get the idea. Basically, you can live in the poorest, most run-down and depressing part of town and still be just a glance up or a short drive away from magnificence.

That beauty was one of the reasons I was sad to be leaving Alaska. That and having to drive that damned car.


Friday, May 31, 2019

Old & Vaping

Don't you hate when you do something so stupid that you hope no one in the world was looking? Maybe that's just me but I did such a thing just today.

I rarely use my smaller vape devices unless I am vaping a really strong or really flavorful juice. Otherwise, the flavors are just too muted. This is one of the reasons that, now I've run out of Snickerdoodle juice, I carry that beautiful Finic mainly for its looks and the compact size.

Remember, I won this lovely

Recently, I quit resisting and tried some mint-flavored juice. It's called Twin Mint and it's basically the flavor of mint gum. It's not overwhelming or harsh like menthol cigarettes can be but it's got a nice vibrant dazzle to it.

You remember being young and drinking Peppermint Schnapps while clubbing just so your breath smelled good? Again, maybe that's just me. Had vaping been a thing back then, I would have definitely been on this Twin Mint.

The mint in this juice is just strong enough to feel cooling. I couldn't wait to try it out in the Finic. I am in love all over again with the device. The Twin Mint is such a delicious vape in the device. It's way better than the Snickerdoodle because that one could be a little too intense.


At first - just to test it - I only put in enough of the juice to wet the coil. Once I fell in love, I was ready to fill the tank. Now, I have no idea why I did what I did here. I think that, sometimes, my brain only has a certain amount of smart in it and every now and then, I try working past that limit. I don't know, but what I did - instead of unscrewing the Finic cap to get to the fill holes - I just started squirting ejuice right down into the drip tip.

What an idiot I felt like. The good thing is, I immediately caught my goof and stopped before I did a lot of damage. Also, no one was around to see it happen.

I was able to laugh at myself (once I realized the device was okay and working) because I was reminded of something I saw on Reddit.

That is so hilarious. I liked it so much that I saved the Reddit post and now I'm glad I did. At least, I've never thrown out a device. Thank goodness. But there are days when I wonder why I'm still allowed to walk around unattended.


EDIT: I am so used to scheduling my posts, this one has been just sitting dormant for a while. So... not "today".