Time’s Up

Time’s up !

So, I had a change of plans for my Manteca trip last week.

I was able to meet a friend from my online website, http://www.myCOPDteam.com, and while I talked way too much, we had a good time and it was lovely to meet in person. (In person meetings are always challenging, because you want to like this person in real life, but it’s easy to be appear to be more than you are while living online and throwing two cents over the internet fence to the other person).

So, despite my friend from Oregon cancelling her trip, I went ahead with the “staycation” in Manteca to both meet my online friend, as well as spend time with the boyfriend / FWB (whatever else you want to call a friend with whom you share physical relations and mental compatibility but don’t want to chain each other down). While enjoying the outdoor pool (despite the smoke-filled air), I was haunted / pestered / enthralled by 2-3 HUGE dragonflies hovering and dipping over the pool, and going back and forth among the crepe myrtle trees nearby.

(It could have been worse – those flowers usually attract a bunch of bees!).

But, I tell you all that to tell you this – I’m not one to believe in spirituality. I mean, it’s nice to believe all the symbolism that’s out there, but I have zip for preconceived notions as I’m more literal. I have to be able to see, feel and touch something in order to believe in it. Otherwise, it’s just another daydream or fantasy without a foot in reality.

In this case, I realized that I forgot my boyfriend’s stuff, forgot my fishing rod, and yet was still determined to make a nice couple hours over two days for driving to and from Manteca and hopefully going fishing while I was out and about. So, I spent money I didn’t have to get another folding fishing rod. And accessories. All with money that I didn’t have because I’m trying to do what I’m supposed to, and get on top of my taxes. Playing catchup costs big $$$. So I cut my trip by 3 days (from 4 down to 1), and I reduced expenses where I could.

But, the swimming pool was included in the deal, so there was no harm going out by the pool and trying to get in a workout. Ehhh… the pool was too shallow and too cold, but it was certainly refreshing, and I enjoyed drying off in the setting sun.

But, those dragonflies !

About 3″ long, maybe 1″ wide, and bulky !

So happy. So busy. I came home and had to look up their meaning, they were so enthralling:

“Dragonfly Spirit Animal”

The totem of a dragonfly carries a sense of identity. It ensures the virtue of living freely.

It unmasks the real personality that lies dormant within each individual. They remove any element that is not a part of real life. Often, people suffer from self-doubt. That may hinder their ability to move ahead. Here, a dragonfly urges people to get rid of their doubts and live life fully.

A “wonder animal” is the spirit animal of the dragonfly. It also represents the purity of being. The spirit animal urges people to take chances and realize the potential within them. It helps them understand that they can fully realize their potential. Many mystic people consider a dragonfly to be a messenger from the spirit guides. Their purpose is to real the magical path to people.

So, looking back over the past week, I began to wonder if there was more spirituality in the world than I was willing to accept. We’ll never know, but…

The boyfriend’s foster son was killed about 1:30am on Thursday morning, and I saw dragonflies everywhere while I was traveling to Manteca, as well as later, when I was by the pool. While I wasn’t part of his life directly, I am hoping for the boyfriend’s sake that J is happy and at peace.

As for me, I’m used to dragonflies as delicate insects, graceful, and relatively hard to spot unless you’re sitting still and looking for them. Certainly, very hard to photograph (at least, for me). So, while I don’t have a picture of what I was seeing, these mack truck sized dragonflies were like nothing I’d ever seen before, and they were flying up into the sun (making identification difficult, never mind photography), and they were playfully skittering all around the pool, joying in the afternoon.

Why do I tell you this? No idea. But, with the loss of the foster son from my boyfriend’s life, it seems like his young life should have much more meaning in retrospect than it does in reality.

J and his sister, G, came from a troubled background. They entered their Uncle’s life full time when when were 5 and 7-ish, respectively. Their other aunt was unable to foster or adopt the kids after they were taken away from their drug addicted parents (who later died). For whatever reason, Auntie (hereafter called “Grandma” in their story) could not adopt them out of the foster care system without two (2) years of training and related certifications. (Don’t ask me this part – I’m just telling you what I was told).

Anyway… Boyfriend was allowed to foster them for those same two (2) years while Grandma did what she needed to do to become their adoptive parent. I think they would have been better staying with him, however… He felt that they deserved a woman’s touch, and she was an actual relative, so he gave them up when it was time for them to be adopted and moved into her care.

The kids didn’t have an easy life, despite everyone’s best efforts once they were removed from the care of their parents. People are messy. Kids are the worst, when it comes to being messy and making life difficult.

Parent’s rule households with different styles.

Whatever it was, the kids were a handful and everyone did their best for them.

Sadly “Grandma” was a fire and brimstone Christian, who believed that “God’s gonna get ya!” was a legitimate parenting style, despite her training to the contrary, and both kids rebelled. The boyfriend kept seeing them after he was no longer their full time custodian, and that raised other issues with the Grandmother, who was all about controlling the kids and wrapping them up tightly in the supposed teachings of Jesus.

By the time they were teenagers, they could do nothing right and were on restriction more often than not.

” God’s gonna get you for that ! “

The boyfriend did what he could, but after he was no longer of use to her, and wouldn’t discipline the kids for things she considered outrageous infractions of her rules, he was cut out of their lives, too. For the most part. But, the kids would not tolerate that further change in their living circumstances. Despite all the forbids and restrictions, Grandma would still call on the boyfriend to be her problem solver when the kids got too much for her to deal with and handle.

By the time they were teenagers, they were counting the hours until they were old enough to leave their Grandmother’s house. G worked all hours known to teenagers, saving every cent she made, so that she was ready to leave her Grandmother’s house as soon as she was 18, even if that meant leaving her younger brother behind, and living with a girlfriend’s family in order to graduate high school, things were so hostile.

While everyone worries about kids, they were both good teens, and the boyfriend was still involved in their lives.

G and J both moved in with the boyfriend as soon as they were legal (or, Grandma agreed to give up custody of the boy, because she could no longer control his behavior to her satisfaction). I’ve only heard it second hand, but that woman has a tongue on her that can cut the strongest heart to ribbons. Sad, but that’s her version of how best to handle others and raise kids.

At any rate, I tell you all that to tell you this. The kids were doing well. G had married her high school sweetheart, whose family she loves and is loved by, and she’s following him from military base to military base as his postings evolve. They are currently in Kentucky, where they appear happy. She’s trained as a paramedic, and is seeking additional training to make her more employable as her husband’s postings evolve and they get reassigned by the powers-that-be in the military to other states and locations. They are enjoying the adventure of their lives together, exploring new places to live, and appear to be a solid couple with good heads on their shoulders despite their youth.

J was still struggling against growing up, but he was working, he was helping the boyfriend, his Uncle, out with caring for his mother (who has dementia and lives with him), and at 19 was a good kid if a bit immature. All things as it should be for each of them for their ages.

So, 14 years after these kids enter the boyfriend’s life full time, the boy dies. He’s only 19. While we know drugs and alcohol were NOT involved from the initial reports from the accident scene, (so thankful about this bit of news), he was apparently driving too fast, no seat belt, and took the exit ramp off the highway too fast, losing control of his car and losing his life through carelessness.

I prefer to think of J enjoying the warm Summer night, radio up loud, as he was cruising along the highway.

You never get enough time…

Sadly, the boyfriend never saw this heartbreaking news coming. We were together that night, and as he was packing up to get back home, because “J needs to go to work, and I can’t leave my Mom alone”, when he found out that not only was J already dead, hours earlier, but that he was mistaken in his belief that he’d heard his foster son come in around midnight, and that he’d missed him going out again that night, if he’d actually come home at all.

It’s never easy to lose someone you love. But losing someone so young is especially hard.

As for me, I’m only on the periphery of the boyfriend’s life, so I’m trying to be available while also not being underfoot (because we don’t have that kind of relationship). If the dragonflies were a realistic symbol of J’s spirit animal, then I hope that he is happy and enjoying whatever the next life has to offer. That kid had a tough life, despite everyone’s intention to fix it for him so that he could thrive and be all that he could be as he grew. I hope he’s happy and at peace.

It was hard to be there when the boyfriend had to figure out all the duty calls he had to make, once the police contacted him. Nothing was sadder than listening to him break the news to J’s sister. She answered the phone happy to talk to her Uncle, and then had her heart broken, again, with yet another tragedy in her young life.

I wish that they weren’t in Kentucky, so that the boyfriend was there to comfort her, but I know her own husband will be the rock she needs during this difficult time. It’s never easy to get those calls. I’m not sure if the kids were raised in the Greek Orthodox version of the Christian faith, but I hope the boyfriend’s faith helps him through this very difficult time. It’s just wrong to be burying a child you helped raise. Even if it was an accident. Even if it was just one of those stupid things that happens in life. If a dragonfly is truly joy which urges people to live their lives fully, I hope that’s what J is doing on whatever plane may come next after this life.

Unsupported, really?

I hate the fact that I get idiot notices like this, go through all the steps to ensure that my Safari browser is the latest version. That I’ve emptied all caches of cookies or other “helpful” data, and yet it still doesn’t like my browser.

Seriously?

The whole idea of avoiding apps and going in through browsers is to avoid bugs and other issues and simply OPERATE THE DANGED TOOL ! I’m from the dark ages, having been in the computer biz since I started “professional” work in 1979. The whole concept of multi-platform or platform-free software that could work on anything was the goal. So, imagine my frustration when, almost 40+ years later, we are still having idiot prompts tell us that the hardware-free or disassociated website is not accessible because your browser is “incompatible”. Really? It’s funny, because I’m also given the option to “continue loading the page anyway”, and able to complete a post without changing to a “supported” browser.

I’m good about updating my mac, hardware and software, and as of today there are no updates waiting to be installed.

So, what does wordpress know that Apple doesn’t about my browser?

Especially when I can ignore the prompt and proceed anyway.

If it truly was “unsupported” or “incompatible”, wouldn’t that presume that it would be NON-FUNCTIONAL ? ? ?

As I’m getting closer to my 61st birthday, I’m finding that I have much less patience for nonsense. Paperwork and computer nonsense, especially.

Mansplaining

So, I have a neighbor who is a nice enough guy. But.

You can drive a truck through the implications that echo through that “But”.

Background: The Bocce Ball court went in at our park about 4 years ago. Being skittish about crowds where people know me (because I can tick people off in under 60 seconds, and be clueless at the fury about to melt down in front of me), I generally avoid crowds of neighbors.

Generally, I take awhile to warm up to new folks, and my PTSD radar is always adding to my stress in social situations as I am a survivor of many physical attacks from 1st through 10th grade. (Something happened after I threw a desk at one guy and kicked another guy in the balls after both hit me in public and the observers and teachers in both cases did zip against the guy’s aggression, yet *I* got sent to detention for defending myself in stopping the assaults). So, even though I don’t know what changed to stop most of the attacks, I’m still leery of other folks and choose to keep my distance, almost 50 years on.

So, I met this guy at the bocce ball court and he’s nice enough. But.

He has delusions of grandeur, where he thinks he’s in the military for his volunteer activities, and every volunteer opportunity becomes a “deployment”. 👀 Self-aggrandizement, much? Anyway…

He’s a former marine. Retired.

He’s a financial consultant (loan officer).

He’s nice enough, but…

If you’re a female, he really doesn’t listen. He’s in his 70’s, so some of that is to be expected due to his age. But…

He’s he’s always talking about what “we” should do. “We” should organize a tournament. “We” should… 👀 I’m not in the military, so I mostly tune him out.

In getting to know this neighbor, I was myself. I told him personal facts and life choices as a way to get him to understand me AND get him to back off. Instead of hearing the boundaries I was setting, he’s apparently taken it as a personal mission to “fix” me. 👀

He’s also an avid supporter of the Cheeto Ex-President. 🤷

We’ve already had the, “stop sending me emails about politics, as you won’t respect my choices and we can’t seem to agree to disagree”, but most especially so long as he keeps being passive aggressive and harping on Cheeto’s “alternate facts”.

Anyway, I tell you all that to tell you this: he’s decided I’m his new mission (or something) and won’t just let me be to be me.

He’s a former tennis pro, among other things, and won’t respect my limits. Bossiness and authoritarianism has nothing on his level of alpha male dominance.

In prior conversations, he’s offered to take me walking on the nearby trails.

No. Absolutely not.

This guy is pushy at the best of times. No way am I going walking with him as it will trigger my inner competitor, and that’s before we take into account his need to passive-aggressively use teasing as a way to provoke a reaction and get folks to do things his way.

I talked to another female neighbor, 78 years old, who was a big fan of his and introduced us. She went walking with him, after he assured her that she would set the pace and turn back when she was ready. Sadly, he did just the opposite. Surprise, surprise, surprise. He went out with a fully loaded backpack (probably 80 pounds, as he prides himself on his level of fitness) and wouldn’t turn back when she said she’d had enough. 👀

Flash forward a few months, and the neighbor went from his biggest fan to someone who can’t stand for him to even breathe, she finds him so obnoxious.

So, he’s been concentrating on “improving” me. He refuses to accept that I was a girl scout (and an honorary boy scout), so I’ve had lots of training in compass use, reading maps, etc. He refuses to accept that I won’t go trail walking with him – even though I’ve told him he’s too pushy 1:1 in a crowd setting, so there is no way I’m going to allow him to get me off alone, as he’s a bully – even if he labels it as “encouragement”. He just ignores everything I have to say, and keeps trying to find new ways to manipulate me into doing things his way.

Yesterday was typical for his “mansplaining” efforts.

I missed bocce ball on Saturday because we had a show. A show where I got quite the workout hauling booth properties into the park to set up before the show, and then got another workout tearing everything down and hauling it back to the car after the show. 17k steps, or 7.25 miles worth of walking.

Normally, I’d skip the Sunday Bocce Ball socializing, and stay in bed as I battle exhaustion every day, but I like the socializing, so I hauled my butt up (I was awake and in pain, anyway, and the only cure that helps that is gentle, repetitive movements).

Once at the court, everyone was playing 4 people to a side (vs. the normal teams of 4, broken up as two players to a side), and I was content to sit in the sun (I was freezing) and just observe.

Mansplainer, being bossy, didn’t like me sitting on the bench. Lazy (his view). Restful and relaxed (my view). So, he starts reorganizing so that I can play. Even though I told him I was fine watching. Even though I told him I’d walked 7+ miles the day before. Whatever I told him, it wasn’t enough for his need to get me off the bench and moving. 👀

Even though I’d snidely said to another neighbor, with a tease of my own, “He doesn’t believe I walked yesterday, because he didn’t see me do it”. Yes, Mansplainer is *that* controlling.

Previously, we’d had an email exchange about me not finding his teasing at all funny, and that he needed to stop his passive aggressive emails as I know how to use a compass and read a map, but that the map is not something that sticks in my head (learning disability for translating paper and numerical data into experiential data) until I actually walk a trail. I just consider it a dead zone, as I’ve had all the training, but I need to walk the trail for myself as other folks’ easy peasey is my Mt Killamanjaro.

Anyway, he sent me this:

Being tired of Mansplainer’s need to control, and not being in a good frame of mind, this passive-aggressive bit of nonsense just hit me the wrong way. So:

I like him despite his managing tendencies, but he won’t be schooled, either, that he’s irritating the heck out of my limited patience.

Instead of accepting the rebuke and letting go, he had to push back. Am I wrong in thinking he’s trying to gaslight me into seeing things his way, so that he can “rescue” another inferior being / helpless little woman?

How can you deal with someone wearing multiple “hats”, (neighbor, companion, safety ranger) and who changes the dialog to suit his own agenda?

I mean the guy means well, but must always operate from some position of “authority” vs. hearing what you’d actually said.

I’d previously told him our neighbor, M, confirmed that Mansplainer would not take “No” for an answer when she was done walking and ready to go home. Instead, he kept pushing her to do more. In his version of events, whatever she had said to me was “nonsense” vs. factual data of her viewpoint about what transpired.

Next, he wears his “authority” hat for being a park ranger trying to help a struggling park visitor ! Or, an incapable neighbor clearly in distress while sleeping in her own car in her own driveway. 🤷

Finally, he turns it into an ego question. Not about me knowing my limits, but about him having no interest in talking to narcissistic, self-involved me about my physical challenges while we walk.

While I absolutely own my share of narcissism, I note the smooth delivery of the third slap to stop the conversation as we’ve both said what we must and neither is able to hear the others’ point of view. I am not any jock’s rehab case to be made better. If I want that kind of attention, I will hire a professional. I certainly don’t want my words used against me.

Time to agree to disagree and let it go. He’s never going to understand how patronizing he is being.

* * * * * * * * * *

If you can see something I’m missing, please feel free to help me see some redeeming value in his comments…

Chauvinism? Mysoginy?

Today’s female gamers

I play a few slots / casino games.

Some process of elimination games.

Lots of word games.

Many of the games are free, but you have to put up with ads.

Sexist, stereotypical gender role ads.

Not pretty enough for the occasion? You misread the cues and failed.
Redesigning a house? You misread Grandma’s taste and failed.
Trying to play “Farm Family Adventure”, and it’s all about failure
If the first image doesn’t compel you to play, how about further disasters?
Maybe finding out the guy who cheated on you before you married kept on cheating?
What’s really crazy, though, is how little the storylines have to do with the underlying game.

Why spend all this time and money marketing to me in an offensive manner, when the game in question has zip to do with the advertisements?

In my case, I play Lily’s garden, skipping the storyline completely, and focusing on killing time with the occasional game play. It can’t keep me engaged because it’s boring, and I use it as a tool to tire myself out enough to sleep (yes, it truly *is* mind-numbing).

I’m heading out to the Silicon Valley Comic book convention next weekend, and it will be interesting to see if the newer stuff all relies on outdated stereotypes to pedal their wares.

I haven’t been to a comic book convention since I moved to CA in 1985. Should be interesting to see what the next generation of art fans looks like…

As for me, WaRP Graphics (Wendy and Richard Pini, the creators of ElfQuest should be there.

Should be interesting to travel back in time for a day.

My Marie Kondo Moment

(6 shelves, reduced to 2 of mixed media)

(Anything to procrastinate before making calls to find my missing tax filing paperwork, LOL).

Have to laugh at my Marie Kondo moment…

Getting rid of media is never my favorite thing, but my iPad has replaced EVERYTHING as the film, music and audio stories repository, so it was long past time. Filled 3+ shopping bags with media to sell (hopefully). Also kept a few DVDs back for when the cable or internet is down (but, most of the stuff that’s not on the iPad is hosted by FandangoNOW / Vudu for instant jukebox gratification in any room when I don’t want to deal with the DVD player).

Still can’t bring myself to part with my now antique iTouch (China translation and travel companion, 2009), nor my iPod and sound system (2006?) or my Bondi blue iMac (2000?) stashed in my curio cabinet, LOL. Who knew how many Apple brand products would be so hard to part with? 🤷

The IRS doesn’t care

Burying your head and avoiding problems doesn’t work

I have, from time to time, delayed filing my taxes as a way to get a very large refund over a period of 2-3 years. Sadly, I did that again starting in 2016, and found that my failing energy levels, plus my natural inclination to avoid paperwork, has caught me in the middle of a tax nightmare.

According to the IRS, I am in arrears for filing from 2017 – 2020, and they have issued a levy against my assets. (Assets? I have assets???)

So, Friday the 13th I finally bit the bullet and gave up on the Massachusetts tax folks as I just could not get them to complete my taxes despite:

  • multiple calls
  • loading data into their portal
  • etc., etc., etc.

At the end of the day, the IRS just wants one to file their taxes (payment is also important, but secondary), and they get very unhappy if one does not do so in a timely manner.

“Yeah I’ll get right on that…”

At any rate, I met with the new tax folks who agreed to represent me. All while giving me the hairy eyeball that I bring my taxes up to date and keep them up to date.

“Aye, Aye, Sir!” Even without words, I’m told my face betrays me, every time…

So, I will owe at a minimum:

  • $3,500 to deal with the IRS
  • plus $500 (avg) to do the actual filings per year
  • and can only hope I truly don’t owe any money
  • and can hope for overpayment refunds (because I *never* want to have to pay the IRS a cent)

At this point, I’ve contacted my former employer, who’s HR helpdesk is a joke.

“Go to the portal and download” – except that they refuse to hear me that the data is too old and not on the portal…

“Let me email you some forms, and we’ll see if we can fix the problem and get you that data”

… all of this times the various banks, the 401k people, and now the various healthcare / matching salary / long term disability plans to chase down to get them to document what I was paid (never mind finding out what I paid out in taxes and medical expenses – a whole other issue).

I’m trying to be grateful that I’m no longer being an ostrich and have taken the necessary steps to clean up this mess so that it won’t be a nightmare when resolving my estate at some point.

But… money !

Who has $3,500 just sitting around?

I’ll make it work, but it’s not going to be pretty. Whatever is coming from Las Vegas Auntie’s estate won’t be here until November or December, earliest, so that’s not an escape option for not feeling the pain.

Thank heavens I buy ahead on my medication so that I can skip order it this month (saving $214 on the Theo-dur alone!), and still have enough money to cover gas and other expenses.

Of course, the IRS has to contact me in the same month when my car renewal is due. When I’ve scheduled dental work for which I’m making pre-payments… oh, and we’ve added two shows to our list of activities, so booth space fees. And, the PO Box is up for renewal and they have raised the price $100 year over year. Sheesh !

Whatever you’re doing today, I hope you’re making time for fun. I’m heading out to get in my bowling practice before I sit back down at the phone and begin calling the various help lines for tax forms. Oh, joy !

Arrogant? Moi?

American Mah Jongg with unnecessary tiles X’d out

Can I tell you that I don’t mind being wrong?

I’m out of step often, but mostly because I don’t have a lot of passion around being right when there’s no blood, and there’s no dead body involved in whatever topic is under discussion.

In my lifetime, I’ve become quite aware that I am not normal (whatever that means).

I can make people bezerk, purple with rage, and it often doesn’t even hit my radar. Not because I don’t care about their emotions, but because I just don’t think the same way they do. I don’t have passion for the same items they care about, so I irritate them by just being me. I tell you all of that to recount a drama that popped up tonight, which apparently left a neighbor, “Switzerland”, apoplectic with rage.

Just up from my nap on a beautiful Sunday evening, and realized that I needed to go water the tomatoes that I’d neglected for the last few days of drama and intrigue.

As I’m coming out the door, an 80-odd year old neighbor pops up (was she lying in wait while walking her dog?!) calling my name. 

“I just wanted to check.  How many flowers are you playing with?”  she demanded to know, regarding my efforts to learn mah jongg.  “Hmmm.  Well, good evening to you, too, Switzerland.” I thought.

“Don’t know.” I replied, lazily.

“Well, I’m sure you’re playing it wrong.” she intoned, importantly.  “Unless you’re mis-using Birds (bams, for the Mah jongg uninitiated) you have too many.” she informed me, determined to correct my error.  From a practice game she invited herself to join.  Last Thursday.

“I just play with what’s in the two boxes.” I replied easily, uncaring of her focus and frustration with my laid-back attitude.

“You know they give you extra pieces in case you lose some, right?” she challenged.

“Yes, and those pieces are still wrapped in plastic, separately, and don’t fit in the two large, black, storage trays” I tell her.  I think I’m playing with the right number of pieces as there’s nothing left over when I dump the two trays to shuffle the pieces.”

“How many flowers are you using?” she challenges, frustrated because I learn differently than she, and don’t have the piece counts memorized.

“No idea.” I reply flippantly.  “I use what’s in the box” I say, trying to pacify her.

Incensed, she storms off.  “That’s why no one wants to play with you!” she imparts as she’s leaving.  “You’re too arrogant and don’t take direction at all well !” she jibes.

“Ok, Switzerland” I reply. “Have a good night.” I say to her departing back as she storms off, and go back around the corner to pick tomatoes and water my garden, determined not to ket her attitude ruin my evening.  I didn’t start this fight, and it’s like some crazy episode of manners a la Pride and Prejudice every time she sees me. She’s flamboyant, dressed just so. I’m casual, happy to be in unisex wear of jeans and a tee shirt. We are VERY different types of people.

This woman started to teach me to play Mah Jongg outdoors last Summer, as we were all bored and looking for anything reasonable to do.

She invited a number of neighbors to learn, and two of the ladies I currently practice learning with refused her attempts to get them to play just because she was so determined that they were the “right” kind of people for her gaming soiree.

Once we could no longer play outdoors due to weather issues, I did what she suggested and purchased a mah jongg set and a turntable, and practiced the 2020 card patterns, trying to learn the moves and pieces.  Anything to make shelter-in-place restrictions more tolerable while stuck at home over the Winter.

The American Mah Jongg Card changes each year, challenging players to learn new tile patterns.

Starting in March, as the weather improved, I asked Switzerland if she was going to restart the games.  “No, not until everyone has had their vaccinnations”.  (I’d had mine, and was fully vaccinated and ready to socialize cautiously as of February 28th).  She was waiting for another, more experienced player to set the conditions of play, and wasn’t willing to play until this other woman’s criteria had been met. Ok. Whatever.

Anyway, I tell you all this as background to what happened next.

Mexican Train Dominoes

I’m in the clubhouse at the seniors park where I live, playing dominoes with another friend, and a different neighbor stops by to ask if I know how to play mah jongg.  “Just learning,” I reply, and proceed to tell her about killing time over the Winter trying to memorize the patterns, and that I’m trying to be ready for when Switzerland is willing to host the games again.  She wants to play, but not with Switzerland. The upshot is, I’m not good enough to teach her, but I’m willing to practice with her as we try and understand the rules and winning hand combinations better. ANYTHING to make the long days pass more enjoyably.

Fast forward a few weeks, and Switzerland corners me as I’m trying to get yardwork done in the cool of the evening.  “You have no business teaching anyone mah jongg!” she informs me as her opening salvo.

“I’m not,” I correct her.  “As I said in the email I sent you a few weeks back, we’re practicing together until you’re ready to invite folks to play”.  I defended myself.  “I told you we were getting together weekly in the clubhouse, and invited you to join us once you felt it was safe to do so.”  (I so don’t need this neighbor mad at me, and certainly not about stupidity).

“I never saw your email, and I think you have quite a nerve thinking you can teach anyone anything.” she informed me, baldly.

You did what?!!

“Well,” I disagreed, “I’m not teaching anyone anything.  We’re literally practicing together.”  I said, holding my own ground.  “Like I said at the time, you’re more than welcome to join us, as we only improve if we play against better players.” I said, trying to pacify her.

So, that was back in May 2021.  Fast forward to July and August, and Switzerland isn’t going to rest until we stop playing without her support and guidance.

We been playing in the clubhouse library on Thursdays, and Switzerland informed me that she had permanently reserved the Library room for her own mah jongg soiree, and not only weren’t we invited to play, we were not even allowed in the clubhouse because she needed all the floor space for her Thursday gathering. 👀 Ok. Whatever.

Rather than fuss, we simply moved our game practice date to Wednesdays.  No harm.  No foul.

Then the nitpicking started.  “You need to put the Library back the way you found it.” she informed me, as self-appointed Librarian.  “No one can see the magazines with the table runner covering them!” she chided me, during another early evening run in while I was trying to get yardwork done.

“Sorry, I didn’t prep the table, so I don’t know what was on it.  We’ll try and remember.”

A couple more weeks pass, she’s continuing to fuss at me if we forget the table runner, and she is finding excuses to be working in the Library any time we are playing.  Both of my neighbors (one of whom is also a volunteer Librarian and junior in the pecking order to Switzerland) want nothing to do with Switzerland and her fluttering around us when we are trying to play and learn, so we continue to play with a dummy hand, instead of inviting her to join us.

Last week was the breaking point.

Switzerland sees that we don’t just play the 4th wall without a dummy hand, and insists on telling us the way we are set up is “statistically wrong!”  Not being one to debate math, I shrug and tell her that most mah jongg games consist of 4 players, and that it helps us all to see an open, dummy, hand so that we can see (and discuss) strategy for how to put a hand together while we’re practicing.

Switzerland starts to flutter, her voice rises as she stands over the table and scolds me for being too ignorant to even know that I’m wrong.  Again, I tolerate her because she’s probably right. But. I. Still. Don’t. Care. I just want to play. Then, irritated (probably because she failed to provoke me) she goes back to supposedly working on sorting the books. 

We start the Charleston (a trade of 3 tiles, 3 times, from right, to opposite, to left), and she is again outraged because we don’t do a courtesy trade or a second Charleston.  (One of my players, the Jr Librarian, doesn’t see the point in the courtesy trade or the second Charleston, so we skip that practice step because the rules clearly state that it doesn’t have to happen if anyone objects.  One objection is all it takes to stop that part of the game).

So, we get through a game or two with our goal being to speed up our play to 15 minutes a hand, the timing Switzerland told us is the goal of more experienced players.

We finish our second round, and Switzerland offers to sit in as our 4th. Seeing no way to gracefully decline, I accept. If the looks from the other ladies could kill, I’d be dead. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all mostly friendly, but our living situation is very much like being in Summer Camp or high school. 166 mobile home sites in our park, and lots of people with nothing but time on their hands. A tiny microcosm of society, and a great opportunity to have stupid arguments about petty stuff. Just like high school cliques, and with the addition of clubs and games, just like Summer Camp. So, it behooves one to not put all their marbles into socializing at the park, or one gets mixed up in petty dramas. As the saying goes, though, it’s not my monkeys and not my circus. I just want to get along and not fight with anybody.

Switzerland *is* a good player, even if her pedantic personality makes it homework vs fun.  She informs us that we misunderstood the meaning of “any like numbers” for different suits of the NEWS hand, and I appreciate the opportunity to correct my error and learn properly how to play that configuration.  It wasn’t enough to have:

FF 5555 NEWS 1111 (2 different suits (dots, cracks or bams) with 4 of the same tile)

Rather, it’s more accurate (and challenging) to have to obtain:

FF 5555 (cracks) NEWS 5555 (bams) for mah jongg

That error, though it should be understandable as a novice mistake, brings us to tonight’s ambush, 4 days after we’d last played.

Apparently, I’m using too many jokers and too many flowers (FF’s) in my setup, so now I have to take my arrogant self back to the internet to research if I’m setting up with too many tiles. Will do. But first, I need to finish what I set out to do this evening – water the garden before I lose the tomato crop.

See, you were WRONG !

Once I get the new cable boxes and the internet set up again, I’m going to have to research tonight’s accusation to see if there’s anything which says how many tiles are to be used in the American version of mah jongg, and if we’re allowed to use both the seasonal as well as numbered Flower tiles, or if we need to use less to make our practice accurate.

Ditto with the Joker tiles.  I have to see if any are held in reserve, if I’m using too many, or if my viewpoint that the extra pieces don’t fit into the black plastic storage boxes so I’m correct in using all the pieces in the black trays.

Nothing like homework to avoid antagonizing the neighbors over a relaxing pastime, right?

(Update: she was right, technically, as I was using 16 flowers vs. 8). I was using the correct amount of jokers, though, as those extra tiles were provided separately, in a shrink wrapped package, which I hadn’t opened).

One of my practice players has already decided we need to move the game out of the clubhouse library and into our private homes so that she doesn’t have to deal with Switzerland’s impassioned critiques of how we’re going about learning. Especially since she can’t stand being ridiculed by Switzerland.

It’s sad that people get so obsessed about playing a game, so much so that they can’t relax and enjoy the ebb and flow of each player while suggesting better strategies or ways to play so that the game remains fun and not stressful work.

We’re not going to get better if we don’t challenge ourselves to real play with superior players.  Sadly, though, it’s the superior “gotcha!” attitude that ruins the learning process.  People are naturally competitive, and don’t like their nose being rubbed in their errors while they are trying to learn.

Guy Torrey Blew My Friendzone

Guy Torrey, Comic

My friend, R******, is in the friendzone and has been for years. He had a significant other, K**, who died this year at 86. They’d been together for 30+ years. Naturally, he’s devastated.

No kids.

No significant other.

Her children treated him like crap (while one of the adult children was living in his property, rent-free, and trashing R’s own home).

Her children forced him out of the home that belonged to their mother, disrespecting her wishes to leave him alone for a minimum of ninety (90) days after her passing.

They didn’t even wait for the sheets on her bed too cool before they had realtors in, evaluating the home, and began stripping the property of assets.

So, I tell you all that to say that I’d been talking to K about our similar issues with end of life complications, and how to handle the eventual end when you weren’t yet ready to admit that the party was over. I don’t recall which conversations included R or were with K alone (they’d often both be on the phone on different handsets while she was asking me questions). Anyway, I tell you that to tell you this – R is a nice guy, but I have a guy of my own, so R is permanently in the friendzone for me.

And not just because I don’t want to complicate either of our lives with another woman who is at the end of her quality of life, and who doesn’t want the care and feeding of the American male to be part of her daily routine.

Yes, I look out for him.

Yes, I made dinners and such for them / him when she was dying last Fall, and I did what FRIENDS do – I looked out for them both in ways that were simple for me, and what a decent human being would do for another.

Anyway, she passed away in January 2021, and I’ve been hanging out with him occasionally, and trying to get him re-interested in the world while also staying firmly in the friendzone in his eyes.

Patton Oswalt’s performance, “Annihilation”

If you’ve seen Patton Oswalt’s standup, “Annihilation”, you will understand that grief comes in waves, and that even when we make a recovery, so many things go into that mourning process that dating really shouldn’t be part of the process for the first year or two.

If you need sex, go for it. But, in many ways you just want to grab any warm body and hold on to them to know that you’re still alive, so you have to be careful of rebound relationships.

As I discussed with my business partner, I’m not in the market for a relationship. I have to be very careful in dealing with R that he not see me as a possible sexual partner. Not because I’m all that. Not because I’m sending out “available” vibes. Just because he’s *that* vulnerable.

I see him a couple of times a month. I mention my FWB as a boyfriend so that he knows I have someone in my life. We go to the movies or out to dinner. I try and encourage him to follow-up with his men’s group that kind of died off due to the pandemic and his all-encompassing focus on K’s illness and passing. I do what I can to encourage him to keep on living and focusing on rebuilding his life without K.

He’s firmly in the friendzone, if nothing else, because taking up with me would be cruel, as I’m not planning to stick around. It’s like asking him to adopt a puppy with an extra short life span. So not going to do it.

So many reasons as to why he’s friendzoned.

Last night, however, we went out to a comedy club. I asked other friends, too, but he was the only one who wanted to go out. Fine. I enjoy his company. We had a good time. But…

Stage-side seats – hoping this wasn’t a bad place to be…
Empty. Less than 25% capacity. No wonder we got free tickets…

They sat us at a table for 2 at the side of the stage, directly in the line of sight for the comic. While this was excellent when I and another friendzoned guy friend saw Gabriel Inglesias “Fluffy” in 2012, R****** was somehow seeing this as a date, so it was unfortunate.

Gabriel Inglesias, May 25th, 2012

See, I have plenty of friends of both sexes, and I like going out. I’ve even been known to go places by myself if no one else is interested in going with me.

My other friend, Re****, loves Fluffy, and I’d invited him to go with us last night, but he had no interest in the comic. So, we went and I was having a great time until the comic ran out of material and focused on the audience. Especially the stage-side audience

I think it’s sad when a talented comedian uses curse words just to shock (not that he did that).

I think it’s sad when a talented comedian disrespects his audience so much that he performs drunk (never seeing Carlos Mencia again, I was so disappointed in his drunken performance while out in Las Vegas with Auntie and her friend, and he cursed up a storm during his drunken rant).

Carlos Mencia

Now, I can handle profanity fine (heck, I am known to curse like a sailor upon occasion), but it has to be central to the story. And, I’m not doing it drunk. And, I have a point to emphasize through the cursing. Otherwise, profanity in stand up performances is fine, and to be expected. Just don’t be drunk. And, don’t be a lazy comic.

Anyway… I tell you all that to tell you this – Guy Torrey chose to be a lazy comic last night. Instead of having an act (he’d told us that he hadn’t performed during the pandemic shutdown, and was working on some new material), but I was very disappointed to be the brunt of his focus as it was embarassing to my 70+ year old friend.

A man who hadn’t dated in 30+ years, so his manners were stuck around 1985, when men were still (mostly) mannered around women, and made an effort to be on their best behavior.

1970’s dating chic, Cowboy style

I had no problem rolling with the punches and being called a “side piece” since I said I’d left the boyfriend at home and was out with another male friend. But, R****** tried to roll with the challenges offered by the comic for MFM sex, etc., and was very embarrassed today. He was afraid he’d offended me by saying that he’d thought about “slapping that thang”, and that Guy Torrey had gotten him to say way more than he would otherwise have said.

We got through the conversation today, and we’re going out to the movies on Tuesday with my business partner (M. Night Shamalayan has a new film, “Old”, that each of us wants to see), but while it had to be done at some point, I didn’t care for Guy Torrey emphasizing that R****** was in the friendzone and giving him a hard time for dating a slut who wasn’t interested in being a wife.

There were so many non-funny moments in last nights’ show as he pulled various audience members on stage (I still feel bad for the guy, Marlo, who was there with his first-time date), that it just came off as lazy or desperate vs. funny.

Being a pain in the butt, I sent him a private message on facebook to say that I enjoyed the show but felt that he could do better than be a lazy comic. Yep. If you’re going to start with me, I’m going to finish it with you. Politely. Privately. But I will have my say. And I will hope that you’ll fix your routine because I want you to succeed and not be lazy.

Done. Fried. Finite.

My new bowling ball, “Galaxy Sparkle” by TZone

I think I’ve said it a few times, but it bears repeating – I’m done with being “the patient”. Not suicidal. Not being foolish about the choices I make which might jeopardize my quality of life. But, since the spine damage from the car accident was and is a quality-of-life-ruining fact that is a gift that keeps on giving, and there is nothing that can be done to control my pain or breathing difficulties without causing other health risks, I have chosen to endure the painful days without opioids (similar to how I have chosen to endure difficult breathing days without inhalers) because everything that can be done to aid my pain or breathing difficulties has unacceptable side effects and / or health risks.

I made this decision over the past year, when my endocrinologist was offering (demanding, actually) that I begin injectable insulin.

Being a big baby over the pin pricks of my diabetes meter / testing efforts, there is no way I’m wrapping my head around the need for injectable insulin. Total balk over sticking a needle in my body, which includes the glucose / insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitoring (which DOES include sticking a needle in your breast or leg or back of your arm), etc.

Adding to my stubbornness is the outrageous cost of insulin, and the fact that I don’t want the reality of an insulin miscalculation to get me dead or give me the option to “accidentally” overdose myself when I’m having a bad day, pain wise. Yes, the Claude Von Bulow murder charge sticks with me. Was Sunny’s death an accident or murder? We’ll never know for sure, but I’d rather be sure I’m going when I’m done and ready, and that it actually works when I decide it’s time, than to die by inches because my personality is changing due to an unrelenting focus on mythical, less-than-perfect, “stable” health for a disabled person with multiple comorbidities.

My health / disability house of cards is a constant juggling act.

Surrounded by 80 and 90 year olds who go from medical appointment to medical appointment, I watch them lose joy in life as their world gets smaller and smaller, and they leave the house less and less. It’s a fact of life that our bodies all wear out. The only question is when that wear and tear will get to the point of removing joy.

I’m there, and I don’t want to be.

I’m there, and the quality of life end is coming too soon and not soon enough.

With my best option being a focus on the joy in life and quality of life, I fired my liver doc (the endocrinologist is next, once I get someone to sign me up for palliative care without accelerating my death at this point in time).

In our discussion on Tuesday, we agreed that I’m not part of a clinical study, that my use of the dietary supplement, Reservatrol, is doing the best possible to protect my liver function, and that, once we determined that there was nothing to be done for my phantom right side liver pain (because NASH and NAFLD aren’t supposed to be diseases where the patient notices or feels any pain) I’m not interested in additional, aggressive, care.

Should liver cancer be discovered, I would not opt for surgery, so it’s foolish to waste the doctor’s time with more aggressive care (and related expenses). The doctor was shocked, but gracious, and that’s one less expense and hassle I need to fit into my life.

I tell you all that to tell you this, though. I’m not giving up. I’m just turning my attention to things that bring me joy and not wasting time on things that frustrate me.

I believe I lost my 6 pound, handicapped-level custom bowling ball. It was probably lost in the car accident that totaled my car, but I haven’t been able to go bowling due to the pandemic restrictions for the last year and a half, so I did not discover the issue until this Summer. Ca-ching ! More money to replace, and such money competing with juggling expenses for medical co-pays.

On top of all of this, my left upper teeth in the rear (molars?) are a problem. $3,300 to “explore” and “hope” we can find the source of the pain and eliminate. 👀 (Digressing here)…

So, I’m lining up things to do that bring me joy vs. obsessing over my iffy health.

The only thing I have some passion around, my breathing abilities, aren’t being addressed by my pulmonologist. He thinks the loss of oxygen saturation is due to mucus clogs while sleeping, and is being stubborn in insisting on waiting for the non-responsive palliative care team to address my concerns. 👀 so, I’m doing my own version of fiddling while Rome burns since he doesn’t seem to have the same level of anxiety around my worries for organ and brain damage as the oxygen deprivations get longer when I sleep.


So, I am busy finding other activities to keep busy and distract myself. So far, I bought tickets to Hamilton in October, and hope to scrounge a single ticket to Bonnie Raitt in November. I already want to see River Dance in February, and it’s all just a matter of timing for financing for what I will do vs what I want to do.

PG&E is still working in our park on the electrical and gas services upgrade, which will cost me $5k to $15k to replace my HVAC system, (depending on how I decide to replace the heater unit), and that’s not mentioning the kitchen sink replacement that the plumber damaged in September 2020, when he installed the new vanity in the pine cone themed bathroom (and he thought he could fix a non-dripping squeak in the kitchen sink, but only managed to create an actual leak while fixing the noise – ugh !).

Missed another one !

(and, back to the dental part of my crazy expenses saga)…


As discussed with the office manager for the dentist, “Is there any way to reduce that cost?” We made a joke out of it, but the reality is that I’d much rather spend my money on experiences such as seeing “Hamilton” or going to a concert (hoping to make it to Bonnie Raitt in November, even though it’s currently sold out), or going out to a comedy show (finally seeing Paul Rodriguez, now that the Improv has re-opened)

I can be sick any time, anywhere. I’d much rather concentrate on fun and finding joy every day to have a reason to get out of bed and ignore my pain, working through the kinks and stiffness, and have a good time.

In reading SparksFromACombustibleMind’s decision about her own A1C choices in comments replying to earlier posts… I am still interested in following my empirical beliefs and testing my gut over whether or not tight control of my A1C is even warranted given all my other comorbidities (my Better Breathers Club breathing test said I had the breathing quality of an 81 year old when I was 58 !), so my world view is a bit jaundiced when compared to an otherwise healthy 60 year old.

As this A1C study says, they (the powers that be) are finding that controlling the A1C levels too tightly is detrimental, Elderly A1C Targets, plus, the NIH 2008 article, Effects of Aging on A1C Levels on Individuals Without Diabetes, and I’m going to (hopefully) be participating in a diabetes study later this month to see what more I can learn about new research without making my life all about doctors appointments and tests. I like tests MUCH better when they pay me to participate.

So, I told you all that to tell you this; the days are getting shorter. It’s starting to get dark by 8:30pm, and I feel Fall coming in fast, boo, hiss !

Whether it’s my health or the passing of seasons into dormancy, Fall is fast approaching, and I’m not going further into year 2 of the continued pandemic with another year wasted on things I can’t control.

Life is passing whether or not I’m ready for it to do so, and I am done with this years’ pointless wellness expenses. I’ve got my new bowling ball. I’ve joined a league (starting in September). I’m taking a break and having fun while the sun is shining.

I hope anyone reading this is doing the same. Life is too short to waste on pointless worry.

Diabetic Eye Exams

I “finally” got an update to my diabetic eye exam.

Can I tell you how much I hate those maddening “reminders” on your healthcare providers portal, mindlessly nagging you about yet more tests you “should” have done?

In my case, I got my eyes checked (and all new glasses) in 2018.

I am religious about getting my eyes examined, as I have zero interest in going blind.

Zero interest.

So, I was told to get my eyes checked every two (2) years, and my 2nd eye exam was due in 2020 – in the midst of the pandemic state-wide shutdown. First, the endocrinologist lectured me. Every single appointment during the pandemic when nothing was open. Seriously ?!!!

Next, the portal started lecturing me.

Background: Trying to get the right class of eye exams is challenging. I had my first eye surgery at 2-1/2 years old, to correct crossed eyes / lazy eyes, so I have *NEVER* neglected my eye care. Even when money was tight due to being between jobs, etc.

So, being the thrifty type, when I couldn’t get an exam prior to now, I looked into who had the best eldercare, reasonable-cost services overall, and was surprised to learn that many of my senior friends go to Costco for Glasses, Pharmacy and Hearing needs. Ok. I have a membership, so why not give them a try?

November is diabetes eye care awareness month, and my eye exam is usually scheduled for October (because I have so many issues to track, I choose certain months to highlight various issues), and I chose October because then I can congratulate myself when Diabetes Eye Care Awareness month rolls around, not feel nagged or neglectful.

Any sane person will do what they need to in order to protect those parts of their bodies they care about the most. In my case, eyes and hearing are right up there.

Now that my Grandniece has cochlear implants, you know that I just double-checked to see if there is a particular time of year to have your hearing checked (not protected, but checked), and there still isn’t one. However, since I have the hearing of a dog when a cookie is dropped, I think I’m safe.

Did someone call me ?

Should I notice my extremely sensitive hearing dropping out (oh, I WISH I didn’t hear every little sound and irritant), you now I’m going to go get my hearing checked. Costco has some great programs for hearing aids, if you don’t know where else to start, so I would start there.

At any rate, I tell you that to tell you this – I have birth defects. It’s not an excuse, but an explanation. So, to go to a brand new to me Doc for the “Diabetic-specific eye exam” and have him give me the hairy eyeball was yet another aggravation.

“What’s your A1C?” he asked upon meeting me.

“8.4” I replied, refusing to be shamed.

“You know that’s really high, right?” he asked me

“You know that’s really high, right?”

“Doc, I’m at the end of my life. Compared to a failing liver, constant pain, lungs that don’t work right, high blood pressure caused by the medications I use to breathe, pain from foot neuropathy, etc., etc., etc., I’m doing the best I can. Seriously.” I reply.

So, we start the exam, and he’s outfitted with the newest Optomap exam equipment, so that I can skip the dilation (unless he finds something that requires that extra, aggravating, step).

But, for anyone with a risk of diabetic retinopathy, the Optomap is the BEST tool to start with, as it can usually find things (and keep photographic records vs. fallible memory records) so that you can track your history over time.

So, he runs the scan (thank heavens they no longer waste time on the grey space / white dot “peripheral vision” exam. That test would put me to sleep at the best of times. Never mind when I’m already fighting fatigue each day).

Sticking my head in this machine = nap time. 15 minutes chasing white dots on a grey background is crazily mind-numbing.

So, after getting lectured, I loved the fact that my eye results surprised him. No signs of retinal neuropathy, macular degeneration, and no broken blood vessels in the back of my eye. Yay, me !

Four(4) images like this, and a report.

Surprising the doc was a bonus round, but the report says that I’m fine.

That’s two win’s against the powers-that-be this month that I actually know what I’m doing and care about my body’s issues despite any preconception to the contrary that they might have that the short, obese, old woman doesn’t know how to take care of herself.

Yay, me !