Kelly in London with bronze statue of Hobbs, Samuel Johnson's beloved cat.

The last thing Kelly would have wanted would have been to have to talk about herself, especially if it were in the third person. It’s true that if you were talking to her, she’d frequently interrupt with “related stories,” but they were always in the first person. She liked to think of it as an endearing personality quirk—the stories were related—but in the end she figured that she likely was just annoying to the other speaker. She tried to control the impulse with only moderate success. The issue probably stemmed from her general enthusiasm for things she liked and her desire to seem relevant.

Which is not to say that she liked people—she’d be the first to tell you that she didn’t. But sometimes actions—or interruptions—spoke louder than words.

Kelly liked to say that she inherited the best from each of her parents. Her mother was an extrovert and loved talking to anybody who would listen, and even if they wouldn’t. She, too, was generally enthusiastic about most things. Kelly’s father, on the other hand, was a quieter, more reserved sort who never made a spectacle of himself. So though Kelly knew that she often was loud and boisterous in her enthusiasm, she pretended that she knew when to dial it back and stop the stampede. Moderate success.

Anybody who is a friend of Kelly’s knows that in recent years, two of the things she was most enthusiastic about were writing and craft beer. And if you asked Kelly herself, she’d tell you that one of her favorite activities was to write her blog while she was drinking beer—and getting kind of tipsy while doing it. If she were here right now, which we know she is in spirit, she’d want everyone to stop moping and go enjoy something you love.

One of the things Kelly wouldn’t hesitate to say she loved most was London, England. She had hoped to move there one day but unfortunately, that’s a dream which will now remain unfulfilled. And that seems like a good way to draw this to a conclusion. If she were here now and succumbing to clichés, she’d say, “Go for it!” One of her philosophies of life was that you won’t know if you don’t ask which, on occasion, led to awkward moments. But she felt that though the answer might have been no, it might well have been yes. And if it would have been yes, wouldn’t you be disappointed not to have found that out?

Ugh, letter to 16yo me, not

September 26, 2013

yearbook photo

Usually when I see that someone has written a letter to their something-year-old self I roll my eyes and move on immediately. And now I’m supposed to do that very thing. Groan.

There isn’t actually any reassurance or advice you can give your adolescent self because at that age, you’re going to think you know it all and not listen anyway. And that will just be frustrating for your current self. Nobody wins in this situation.

The thing I’ve always said with regard to this topic is that I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t lived my life the way I have and done the things I’ve done, and since I more or less like myself, I wouldn’t really advise myself to do much differently. And even if I had tried to advise myself, I certainly wouldn’t have listened to someone else giving me directions.

I still don’t.

Right. This is a dead-end.


8:15. It is, of course, a workday for me. I bike to work every day in the not-cold weather. I’ve wimped out. I used to bike all year, down to about 15F/-10C and/or unless it was slippery-slushy-treacherous. Not any more. Now I only go down to about 40F/5C, mostly because I prefer to walk, but when it’s nice outside I can’t overlook the time savings of biking, even though it’s more stressful. I have to cross from one side of downtown to the other. I forgot to start taking photos, so you get the original of one I took to post on Instagram.


8:30. I am at my desk. I’ve eaten my breakfast and checked in with the kitten cam (eating breakfast while I’m dong things like checking email saves me precious minutes at home). It’s time to dig in. I’m project managing and art directing a 500+-page illustrated children’s story bible. No time to waste!


9:30. Oh damn, nobody made coffee yet.


10:30. My boss asked me to read a thing. It’s a series of sort of spoofy, fake news stories written from the points of view of characters from other books that we’re publishing.


11:45. Lunch at my desk. I usually eat at my desk whether I pack or go out and bring something back. Today it’s the veggie pie recipe I posted last week. In this week’s version I used brown rice, a poblano pepper, a red bell pepper, an onion, and three tomatoes. Still versatile, still delicious!


12:45. Post-lunch. This is the first and last bathroom mirror selfie you will ever, EVAR see of me.


2:00. I drink a lot of water anyway, plus the air in our building is really dry, so I feel better if I drink even more water. At a minimum I drink one glass in the morning, one with lunch, and one or two in the afternoon. Lately I’ve been getting two in before lunch, partly as a result of the weather’s having been incredibly hot for a stretch.


2:45. We play hangman with dry erase markers on the kitchen window. I’m the wordmaster this time around. The word is hubbub.


3:45. Still slaving away.


4:45. Freedom! Or at least it will be when I make it back across downtown.


5:00. First destination of the evening, a neighborhood, er, microbrewery?… brewpub? This is Minnesota and we still have on the books antiquated liquor laws from the Prohibition Era that restrict how breweries may behave. Because this one is classified as a brewpub (I think that’s what they actually are), they must keep production below 3,500 barrels per year. They’ve gotten around this by exploiting a loophole which allows them to increase capacity if they have additional physical locations. So they’ve opened a tap bar and a bowling alley bar, which garners them an extra two 3,500s of capacity per year. But I digress.

The bowling alley venue just opened up and I am in one of the inaugural bowling leagues there. I was talking to the owner as I bowled against him and he said I should get to the brewery and try the limited release very limited quantity wee heavy ale that they had tapped a few days earlier which wouldn’t be around for long and which had turned out particularly well this year (each of the three locations serve all the regular beers, but each also has one or two brews that are exclusive to it). Since the brewery is across the street from my actual first destination on Wednesdays, I complied. It was, in fact, delicious as promised. Not as boozy as some wee heavies and with a pleasant brown sugar and prune taste.


5:45. Now I’m across the street waiting for my usual early activity, beer school. Yes, I said beer school. There’s a really nifty organization called the Better Beer Society that was formed to be an educational facilitator both for people who offer and serve beer and for people who drink beer. To that end, they put on two thirteen-week sessions per year of Beer University. I am a longtime student.


6:45. This week it was learning about three of the four basic ingredients of beer (malted grain, yeast, hops, and water), which kinds of flavors each imparts, and how to taste beer, presented by beer smartypants Michael Agnew. We sampled five without knowing what they were and had to identify what we tasted, and then make a guess about the style if not the actual brand. I correctly guessed the first sample to be Victory Prima Pils and the fourth to be Rodenbach Grand Cru. I am ashamed that I did not recognize that the third sample was Odell Myrcenary, one of my top favorite beers. It was fun and interesting as always.


8:00. Now I’m at another neighborhood venue where I kill two birds with one stone. First up is to drink the Midweek Beer Geek beer, which is usually something limited that’s just been released for the season or ever, or something less common that maybe is in extremely limited release. This week it was Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung (whoa, iOS, totally impressive that you predicted Götterdämmerung after just the Gött!). Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten pretty geeky with a lot of people who work in beer in town, so the local Stone Brewing brewery rep, Corey, was happy to mug it up with me for a photo. I’m going to leave the photo dark because he doesn’t know that I wanted the picture to post here.


9:30. The smartest thing I did in the context of beer, bars, and doing things was to defect from my Thursday bocce ball league to a Wednesday team (with one of my fellow Midweek Beer Geeks)—because I’m there anyway. There are two courts and four shifts, so our matches begin anywhere between 6:15 and 10:00 (there’s a schedule, of course). Tonight we played at 8:45. We actually won two of the three games. We’re very streaky.


10:30. As if I haven’t already had enough fun on Wednesdays, a year or so ago I realized that yet another other neighborhood bar has karaoke. If you’ve been with me on this blog for a long time, you may remember that I used to publish my Thursday Karaoke Report, where I’d share crappy iPhone recordings of my karaoke warblings after bowling. I still record every performance but I’m not currently doing that over here on WordPress, though I was thinking I might at least make a page to just list what I’ve sung each time.

Karaoke is where I get in trouble, because I love it so much that I tend to stay until the bitter end, and then I’m so amped up that it can sometimes be 2am by the time I get to sleep. That, of course, makes for some rather difficult Thursdays. Tonight, though I still felt compelled to go over there, oddly enough I wasn’t actually in the mood to sing, though of course I did. It was busy and I was tired already anyway, so I did actually hit the sidewalk after just the one song. Last week it was really fun because it was really slow, to the point that it was just me, another gal, and the bar staff, to Joel the host got it in his head that we all should. participate in running through the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. It was a blast! And yes, I recorded the whole thing.


Midnight. So I actually got home early for a Wednesday, though not nearly early enough for how tired I was the whole day. The cat’s got the right idea.

Good night!

Lies, lies, lies, yeah

September 1, 2013

I fib regularly. So do you. If you claim not to, then you’re lying! I massage the facts, I don’t tell the whole truth, I say I like the food or the beer when I didn’t quite. Everybody does it. Then there are the things that I’ll tell to health professionals in whatever field but about which I’ll keep stumm in casual conversation. You don’t need to know some of those details.

But have I ever told a whopper of a lie? I honestly can’t remember. Continuing on the theme that has cropped up the last couple of posts of remembering back to my youth (which is longer ago for me than it probably is for you), I imagine there must certainly have been things that I lied to my parents about. Well, no imagining about it. You’re a teenager, you lie to your parents.

Actually, going back to that list of things that I remember about where I grew up and the peeing along the side of the church incident, I know I lied to my mom about that. She, of course, wanted to know why I hadn’t just come home to use the bathroom. Home was two doors down. I told her that I just had to go so bad that I wet my pants. I didn’t confess that Lulu had shown me how she always did that and goaded me into doing it with her, sans pulling down my shorts.

When I was an older child, maybe eight or nine, I perpetrated some vandalism. I ended up being questioned about it by the administrators of the building and I did out and out lie and say I knew nothing about what happened. I imagine the adults all really did know it had been me because after it happened I was no longer taken along to that place. Don’t ask, I’m not telling more than that!

Some youthful indiscretions I didn’t get away with. The main one I remember was when I stole pocketfuls of penny candy from the drug store. Naturally, my parents wanted to know where I had gotten it all. I could maintain the subterfuge for only so long, and then it turned into a confession, and then into the inevitable kid learning experience of taking the unconsumed items back to the store and shaming myself to the owner.

The other one that I remember “getting away with” was in high school when I had entered into my rebellious phase the second year after we moved. I stayed out all night for the first time ever with my friend Kurt. When my parents and I were having the heart-to-heart in the aftermath I told them everything except where we had actually been, which was behind a rollaway bed in an upstairs back hallway in the Holiday Inn.

I can’t think of any major lies that I’ve told as an adult. Of course I pull the occasional sickie—again, who doesn’t? And I suppose I do have to count the times when I’ve proclaimed “I’m fine to drive” knowing I probably wasn’t actually.

Lying is an uncomfortable thing to think about. What’s your biggest lie?

photo of me not lying about anything

Age 6-1/2, amusing myself at home drawing a picture, which doesn’t require lying. Note how my mom artfully framed me off-center so that she also captured the Christmas decoration on the coffee table behind me.


I don’t exactly remember the day I moved out. By that I mean it was either when I moved into the boarding house or into the college dorm. I have a document at home (I’m writing from elsewhere) that I believe will shed light on the matter. I haven’t updated it for many years because I’ve lived at my last two addresses for eleven and eight years respectively, and I’ve had my job for over eighteen.

I’m inclined to think that it was the boarding house to which I moved when I first left the nest. When I get home and can refer to my sheet we may find that it was the dorm, but the boarding house is where I’ll start. The only thing I can say that I remember for sure without consulting the reference material is that I was at university for only two and a half weeks my first go-round. (Also, geez, life-changing high school occurrence and first moving out, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown remembering these things from my youth!)

I tried college for a couple of weeks. It didn’t work out. The following semester I tried again. I lasted a little longer but still nowhere near a full term. I think it was about then that I made my move.

It was my first experience, so I knew nothing about anything, not what “a room” meant, or “shared,” or “boarding,” or any of it. I just knew it was what seemed like an inexpensive price that meant I wouldn’t be living with my parents anymore. As a post-high school teenager, not living with your parents can seem like the most important thing.

I wasn’t savvy enough to have gone over and looked the place in advance. I only reacted to the “facts” in the newspaper ad. If I had been, I wouldn’t have been surprised when my part of the arrangement turned out to be as the (bed)roommate of another young lady. The “private” room was merely the semi-divided off area in between the stairs to upstairs and the other divided-off area beyond which my comrade and I slept. She and I had to go through “private” room to go back downstairs to the bathroom. There were not, as I recall, any doors in our upstairs area, just half-walls.

Here is where you will either roll your eyes or think, huh? One of my favorite memories of the place involves the house TV downstairs. By which I mean the television that we young squirts could watch after our older landlord-couple retired for the evening. When you’re eighteen or nineteen, the age I am now (fifty) seems like the end of the world. They were probably about that age then.

I remember coming home after work one night (again, I’d have to consult the document in order to say exactly where that was). It seemed that the old people had gone to bed so, it being the age when MTV actually played music videos (first half of the ’80s), I took advantage and turned the TV on real low to MTV. It was about two-thirds through Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” video when the old man came in and said the equivalent of “turn that long-haired hippy-freak music down you damned kids!”

That was the last time that I dared to turn the television on in that house.

It wasn’t long after that that my coccaine-snorting though good-looking acquaintance Jon sent some flowers to the house. Everybody got very excited and thought a proposal as imminent. I did not, but they were all a little sheltered.

It was a month-to-month arrangement, I stayed there only a few months. I think I also remember that I had bought some pans to use in the house kitchen, because we had to supply our own supplies. I think my two porcelain pots are those original equipment.

When I attempted to resume university the next time (after a year at a technical college where I learned some computer programming on punch cards), I decided it would be a good idea to move into a dorm. I didn’t go away but I still wanted to get away.

I had an adjustment or two of roommates, but it wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination. There are some boy things I could go into (like a crush starting a rumor about himself just to see how gossipy we all really were, and we were) but my fondest memory was about Def Leppard.

The album “Pyromania” had just come out. Pauline, who lived across the hall, and I both possessed it. For a few weeks we loved nothing more than to fire up our record players and play dealing turntables with Pyromania. I think we had fun just coordinating the synchronization, but I enjoyed also the imprecise phasing in and out of how the 33-1/3 revolutions per minute happened (you know, 33rpm) and how that sort of simulated cross-hall stereophonics. You know, hi-fi.

The other main memory about moving out over the years is that the first time (or two or three), everything I took with me fit in the back of my 1973 periwinkle AMC Gremlin—with the back seat folded down. Eight years ago for my last move (some twenty-five years later), I rented the largest U-Haul truck and filled it to capacity. Next time, I’ll probably have to hire an actual moving service.

I often have nightmares about having to move back in with my parents. Shiver me timbers. That would never work. That’s why it’s a nightmare!

– – – – – – – – –

me in the dorm

Now that I’ve been able to consult my sheet, I see that time has clouded my memories. I lived in that boarding house for only one month, it looks like, and I had two other addresses besides my parents’ house before I moved into the dorm two and a half years later.

I was going to give you the Street View shot of the boarding house, but the town doesn’t rate full coverage so there’s only a low resolution satellite view. Then I thought I’d show you the dorm, but Street View only goes on the parallel street a block away. So I guess you’ll have to make do with this photo of me in the dorm. One of my finer moments, for sure!


I really wouldn’t mind being just a little more buzzed as I write this because, you see, I have been prompted to ponder that thing that happened in high school that changed my life forever. I could pinpoint a few incidents* that more directly concern school time itself and the people I knew. But if it is to be boiled down to a basic essence, the only correct response is The Move.


From the time I was one and a half until I turned fifteen (or, more precisely, until two days before I turned fifteen), I lived in a small town in northwestern Ohio. We all were friends to one degree or another, and the way the nucleus divided into various functions as we grew up seemed only natural. I can’t say they’re all completely fond memories, but I remember a lot of things very vividly. (1)

If you actually scrolled down to read the list, you can see it didn’t take long to get to boys. That’s probably because I hadn’t been long into puberty when we moved to Wisconsin.


On the surface it seemed like The Move would be a good thing. I was well-familiar with the (larger) town because one set of grandparents lived there and every summer we’d visit for two weeks. A girl my age lived next door to my grandparents and we had become friends over the years, so I wasn’t starting from scratch. To this day I’m up for a good adventure and at first, then, that’s what it was.

It was a familiar, yet still new, place. I had the summer to hang out with my friend. We could spend more time together doing the things we liked—listening to music, walking to a nearby stream, teasing the boy on the other side of her house.

My sophomore year, my first school year there was a gas. I went from a class of 80 to a class of 750. It was all big and different and exciting. I made some friends and had decent kids in my classes. It was alright and I even ended up with a boyfriend by the end of the year. He had an old red Ford pickup truck. That’s not particularly important but I remember it. Well, okay, I lost my virginity in it.

The aftermath

During my junior year things went to pot. The big, different, exciting just seemed big and different. I began to resent having been yanked away from my childhood and friends and possibilities. I always refer to it as yanked away, even thinking about it thirty-five years later. I acted out in the typical ways. My circle of friends changed to parentally-perceived less desirable kids, including my second boyfriend, mainly because they weren’t that first boyfriend whom I had broken up with but whom my mom couldn’t let go of. I dared to stay out all night. I got drunk with friends who were in college (drinking age was 18 at the time). I smoked pot with a boy two years younger (a lifetime of difference in high school!). My grades dropped.

The other best friend of my original girlfriend got together with my first boyfriend, and my own new (post-move) best friend got together with my second boyfriend before we were out of school. As far as I know, both couples are still together. My mom is still friends with the first-boyfriend-circle of my former friends.

Meanwhile, I maintained a healthy correspondence with my Ohio friends, not only with my two best girlfriends BG and DH (sorry, gals, I’m going with maiden names) but with RB as well. (2) So I got all the lowdown on who was getting together with whom and how I was missing out on it all, which only cause me to feel that it should have been me but that never could be. It poured gasoline on the fire of my feelings of separation. I was sad and resentful and behaved like it.

My best friend BG in Ohio got me a senior yearbook and, bless her heart, took it around for everyone to sign. And bless their hearts, even former adversaries obliged. Of course, all the boys I had had crushes on were long gone (they had all been one and two years older than me), but everyone else was very nice about it. It should be telling that the only class reunions I’ve ever gone to (or attempted to go to—one year I drove all the way from Wisconsin to Ohio but chickened out once I got to the supper club parking lot)—were the Ohio ones. I haven’t kept in touch with anybody from Wisconsin (though I do occasionally “research” people online).


I was able to let go of a lot of it after I attended the fifteen-year class reunion of my Ohio school. Those were the people I still cared about the most and seeing many of them finally put to rest some unresolved feelings about the whole moving situation. There’s no going back (well, there was a little bit of going back with SB, that first kiss in fifth grade), but I was thrilled that they remembered me and seemed to still like me—even my adversaries who, it turns out, claimed not to remember most of my evil, song lyric-leaving deeds. It was the same sort of experience at the twenty-fifth-year reunion. And by then I had taken up golf, so once again it was easy to hang out with the boys.

There are many more related stories I could add to this on both sides of The Move but I think you get the idea. Does anybody know anything about RB?


Fingerpainting in nursery school in the Methodist Church.

LG encouraging me to drop my shorts and pee in the bushes alongside the Methodist Church. I wouldn’t pull my pants down but I peed anyway.

My mom picking some purple lilacs from the back yard and all the little white bugs that scattered out of them when she put them in water.

Being still required to take a nap and when I got up, discovering that all the neighborhood kids were playing on my swing set and my mom yelling at them.

Being told by TM while running a race in our late-gradeschool “Olympics” that I ran fast for someone with short legs.

SA mistaking my art class collage for his, and wrecking my neatly painted black border. LEM chiding me for retying my pigtails myself.

Being kept in from recess in fourth grade to be admonished by my teacher to play with girls more, looking at her with great earnestness, and declaring, “But Mrs Kelsey, I don’t like girls!”

Following that incident up with drawing a diagram of the playground and mapping out in different magic marker colors the different routes that my boy friends and I would take to our secret meeting behind the baseball field backstop.

Receiving my first boy-kiss ever from SB just beyond that backstop while wearing a dress with a gold top and turquoise plaid skirt.

Having to ride with LK to bowling on Saturday mornings, only he always drifted toward the center line and scared the wits out of me.

Playing the Eagles’ “New Kid in Town” on the bowling alley jukebox and wanting to be a bass player more than anything.

Having my sixth grade teacher set me up with RB who had been in her class the year before, for the start of what would be an ongoing, very adversarial, love-hate friendship.

Going out for track in 8th grade only because I had a raging crush on BW, a sophomore, which became awkward because he and RB were good enough friends and RB was also a (legitimate) runner.

Hours spent bike riding around town with RB.

Leaving song lyrics in the lockers of crushes and adversaries in order to convey my feelings, I’m sure not as anonymously as I thought.

In junior high having my best friend push me into boys I liked, such as BW.

Endless summer days spent at the pool with my friends, always with CKLW AM radio on the PA to entertain us.

(2) I suppose it’s telling that I gave you initials of the people in Ohio but not of the Wisconsinites.

*I’ve touched on related subjects to varying degrees previously in this blog, and if I hadn’t had to migrate services it would be a lot easier to find those references and link to them (though I did find this one and this one). On the other hand it’s been a couple years since I wrote regularly, so I guess I won’t beat myself up for repeating some things, and it will come out differently second time around anyway.

AARP enrollment


A while ago I declared that I was not ready to go au natural and give up coloring my hair, because I was in denial and freaking out about turning 50. At that time, the impending doom was a year and a half away. Now, the apocalypse is imminent and I remain in denial. The end of my life is merely three-and-a-half weeks away. Even if by some asteroid-collision-extinction chance I had forgotten when my birthday was, there are mechanisms in the general public to remind me. I’m not talking about Facebook’s helpful reminders that today is so-and-so’s birthday.

Two days ago, I received in the mail my temporary AARP membership card. That’s the American Association of Retired People.

They fool you into opening up the envelope. They put it in one of those unmarked things that looks official because you have to fold and tear the edge strips off of to get into it. It looks important. It looks like an income tax refund check. Or at least that $10 rebate from buying the 74-pack of batteries.

Turns out it is official—the official notification that your life is practically over.

According to their website, AARP was founded in 1958 by retired school principle Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus to (among other things) “to promote her philosophy of productive aging.” I guess at that point in US history, it was more likely that people kept their jobs for life and got a pension from their employer when they retired.

Beyond the fact that I personally will work until I drop dead because I am a poor planner of finances, in general people other than me are working many more hours per week than our relatives two generations ago did. And they continue to work far later in their lives.

These days, receiving your AARP card at age 50 seems a little premature. People are productive long beyond then. Age 60 would be much more reasonable. Not to mention that when you become whatever age seemed ancient when you were just a squirt ten years ago, you realize that it’s kind of just another day.

Sign me up for the discounts, Ethel!


After I went into denial about the $130 grocery tab yesterday and just started making stuff, I thought everything was fine. Until 3:00 a.m., that is.

I went to bed feeling pretty accomplished. I had:

– baked the chicken for the Tex-Mex soup
– concurrently baked the turkey sausage for the Sausage and Mushroom Strata
– concurrently cooked a bag of pinto beans, some of which to throw in the soup, the rest to freeze
– made the Tex-Mex soup
– cooked a bag of garbanzo beans, some of which to throw into the Greek Salad with Sardines, the rest to freeze
– made the three helpings of Greek Salad, hold the sardines until I’m read to eat it
– washed all the kitchenware as I went, as I have a tiny kitchen (I reused the Dutch oven for three jobs without having to wash it)
– relaxed with a delicious Bellatoria frozen pizza and several tasty beers that I picked up at the Ale Jail the day before
– relaxed with three hours of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece

However, it’s true that I did no housecleaning in preparation for having visitors, nor did I do any of the work overtime that I could and probably should have.

But, I was asleep before 11:00 and optimistic that I’d be perfectly able to get up early to go work out and then continue on with a productive Monday.

Enter 3:00 a.m.

Okay, fine, I have to get up to go to the bathroom. With the amount of water that I drink, that’s to be expected one to several times a night. Usually I’m able to fall back to sleep immediately upon regaining my horizontal position.

Not so last night.

I am a more than occasional sufferer of Sunday Night Insomnia. I’m not going to look it up now for a link to information, but it is a recognized condition in which you can’t sleep Sunday nights because you’re stressing out about the work week ahead. 

I am stressed out about work. Last week, the entire office ground to a halt on regular projects so that we could bang out this iPad app that we are making in time for the Christmas hangover. That means I am now a week further behind on the work that I’m already behind on. That means that I know it won’t be long until it starts being wondered if others should kick in to help me, and once again I won’t be able to finish a couple of jobs that I have good ideas for. That means I’m stressed  out. Couple that with my self-inflicted stress about my parents’ impending Christmas weekend visit, and blammo! I was awake until after 6:00 a.m.

It is not helpful when that happens.

I had a reasonably productive day today, but the specter of stress plus PMS was lurking in the background the whole time. I tried to minimize the level of interaction I had with people in order to prevent as much crankiness as possible. I don’t think I was entirely successful. I wasn’t the only one who was a little off their game today.

The evening was a brighter note, though, as I bowled well (808 for four games) and am getting to bed before midnight. Hopefully I’m tired enough that I will sleep all night and get up in the morning for that workout I missed today.


There are few things I do to apply the glamorized myth of beauty to myself, but coloring my hair is one thing I can’t give up, it seems.

The very first time I colored my hair was in about 1988. It had gotten quite long for the first time in a long time and I was bored and/or depressed. My M.O. had been to get out the scissors when bored and/or depressed but I decided that I didn’t want to cut my hair. I still was in the mood for a change, so I bought a box of hair color. My hair was young so I let that color grow out and life went on.

Fast forward to 1995. Same deal. Longer hair, bored and/or depressed, didn’t want to cut.

(I should mention that I have always cut my own hair. There’s enough body/curl to hide any mistakes I make. I can count on one hand the number of times as an adult that someone else has cut my hair. And I came to realize that my feelings of boredom and/or depression happened post-MS. Not too many PMS symptoms, but that restlessness afterwards. Please also see my previous post, Inertia, part 4.)


Once again I chose to color. And this time I repeated the deed. Several times. I did end up cutting my hair, too, but I realized somewhere along the line that it was fun changing the color every couple of months. So I kept on doing it.

And at some point, I also realized there were more grey hairs.

After one of those third-party haircuts, maybe eight or nine years ago, I almost stopped coloring. The haircut was practically down to the grown-out color.

I couldn’t stop.

My name is Kelly and I color my hair.


So I’ve been coloring ever since and now I have a lot of grey hairs, and unfortunately they’re concentrated in noticeable places such as my front hairline. My reason to color has changed from fun to denial.

I am a year and a half away from 50 at the time of this writing. I don’t feel that old, I don’t act that old. There are few things I do, by my actions, to bely my age. But when I think about the actual number—50—particularly as it pertains to entering my dotage—50—I freak the fuck out.



I cut my hair short a week ago. I briefly considered discontinuing with coloring as well.

Yeah, right.

People seem to think I look younger than I am. Thanks! My eyes are wrinkled, my skin is sagging. They can’t see how my body feels. I’ve been convinced for a number of years that my toes are arthritic, my right hip aches with air pressure changes or too many carbs, my left knee has its own issues (probably bowling-related), and I’m on my third bifocal glasses prescription. It must be my non-grey hair that creates the illusion of youth. 

I think I believe that if I look old, I’ll feel old. Revealing the grey hairs would be a nail or two in that coffin. I can’t go there yet.



I’m not sure I’d exactly call it progress on the moving-to-London dream, but I did do something useful last night. I looked at rents over there for the first time. I can’t believe I never did that before.

I was pleased to learn that it’s not as outrageously expensive as I had been psyching myself up for all this time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly cheap, and I don’t imagine home ownership will really be an option. But in the area where I stayed during my last visit in summer 2010, I could find a 1-bedroom place comparable to the apartment I lived in for eleven years before I bought my condo for maybe twenty percent more than I’d pay here. And anyway, London’s a big town. There will be something somewhere that’s within my budget.

So that part of the plan is going well.

Action taken: checked out rent prices.

Then I looked around my place. The stuff. Then I checked in on another unit in my building that has been for sale for well over a year, probably closer to two. The mortgage. The diminished selling price.


Action taken: I engaged in one of my known coping mechanisms for restlessness and “depression.” I just cut off all of my hair.

The other unit is currently listed for eighty percent of what I paid for mine. And she’s got it looking a whole lot better than mine not least because she has about ten percent of the possessions that I have. My decision to purchase was rash. If I had shown interest but not acted, I probably could have waited out a reduction in price, because I think the guy had been trying to sell for a while before I showed up. But me being me, I forged right ahead. This was right at the end of the housing boom. Double whammy to me.

It was right at the end of the housing boom. Within six months the bottom had fallen out of housing prices. The market, like me, is still depressed. So part of my procrastination about London has necessarily been a waiting game for selling prices to climb a little. They haven’t. I had currently been figuring that if I put it on the market today, I’d be able to get around what my neighbor has dropped her price to. I’m not thinking that any more. Like I said, hers is nicer. The only disadvantage it has over mine is that the main water shut-off for the entire building is in that unit. Maybe that’s a deal-breaker.

Action taken: I just emailed a different neighbor who also put his place up for sale. Difference is, his sold in weeks. I want to consult with his agent.

Regardless of any issues about price, I know that I need to do a lot of spiffing up in here. The first thing to do would be to replace the carpet that I have hated since Day One. Sure, it was brand new but it wasn’t very good quality, I don’t think, and in the intervening years, the animals have kind of had their way with it, not that most of that couldn’t be cleaned, but I hate the carpet. I’ve always thought that installing that fake hardwood stuff would be the way to go. But I wonder how that would work with my ground floor floor that is always sinking and cracking because things are always shifting and settling. I’ll probably end up just putting in new carpet again.


Actually the first thing to do will be to get rid of most of my worldly possessions, because I never even glance at most of them. I mean, look at all these books. When was the last time I touched one of them? It’s been a lo-o-o-ong time. I suppose I’d keep the ones I’ve written and some of the ones I’ve designed. But all the others? I’ll get a Kindle, motherfuckers.

Actions required: 1) Figure out where to eco-dispose of books. There probably aren’t that many that would interest the used book store. 2) Re-rip all of my music CDs at a higher bitrate, then jettison their asses, too. 3) Be realistic. Even if I could fit into all those clothes again some day in the distant future, I’m not going to want to wear them. And if it’s the distant future, I’ll be in London and it will have been cheaper to buy new stuff than move old stuff overseas. Donate, donate, donate.


There are a few large items I would take with me—my cuckoo clock, Grandma Doudna’s embroidered map of my grandparents’ travels, Grandma Hetzel’s platform rocking chair, and my rabbit lamp. All other bets are off.


In addition to things, there are two cats and a rabbit. The cats are young, they’ll be fine getting their pet passports stamped. But my rabbit is almost nine, which is up there for a bun. The unofficial influence on my London timeline has been waiting out my rabbit’s life. At first blush that sounds cold, I know, but I’m only thinking of him. Rabbits are not as sturdy as cats or dogs and though I would take him along in a heartbeat if he were young, he is not and at this point I’d never subject him to the stress of air travel. He’s still going strong, bless him (though his diminished litterbox habits are part of the new carpet equation). 

Eventually we must address the legal aspect to all of this. The general information that I have learned is that I must have a job lined up in advance so that my employer can get my work visa, or something like that. But artistic types such as musicians and authors seem to have plenty of wiggle room. Authors, you say? Why, I do have many author credits in the U.S. Library of Congress! It would just be too much to hope for that my kind of authoring would be the sort that would allow my to circumvent the usual employment requirements. I haven’t investigated in a number of years.

Action required: look at immigration rules again. See if I can take my US work self in a direction that allows me to take advantage of any UK immigration “other” options.

Then there’s the whole money part. I’m certain I would have enough cash to finance the move once I sold my place, even with a crummy selling price because a couple of years ago there was a significant pay-down on my principal. But before that, I’d have to pay for the improvements. To that end, I’m thinking that I ought not to spend my next tax refund on another visit to London like I would like to do. Rather, I ought to mostly put it toward the improvements. In addition to the carpet, I’m quite sure I’d be advised to get new appliances. And that’s something that would benefit me anyway. So even if I didn’t end up selling for a while, I’d be happy about that.

In addition, I was already thinking about not returning to bowling next year. That is, until I recently got a lesson and am more interested in it again. But if I didn’t bowl, I could instead put at least some of that $2700 for a year’s worth into the London Fund.

The same could be said for the money I’d save if I cancelled my cable television subscription. The added benefit would be that I wouldn’t be watching TV all the time and could concentrate on more useful activities, such as throwing out stuff or doing extra work to steer myself in the right immigration direction.


I think that about sums it up. The one thing I have the power to start doing now is getting rid of stuff. And that would be a good idea regardless.



To read my previous bemoaning on this topic, please refer to Inertia, part 1 (history of the dream in which I compare myself to a large, brick building), Inertia, part 2 (I am lazy like a potato sitting on the couch), and Inertia, part 3 (nothing’s changed for me but the large, brick building is making progress).

The large, brick building is now open for business as the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts. It got off its ass and did something.