Misery in the Valley

A Pastoral Peace

It’s been a quiet week on the farm. Spring is a few months away. There is still winter misery in the valley. Over the winter Ray tore down the 9N and rebuilt it. The chicken coop needs an overhaul, including two tires. It’s been a couple years since the bearings have been changed. Father Thomas’ homily touched on Lamentations. Guys complain about their honey-do lists. Guys that live in 3500 sq ft homes at the end of a cul-de-sac. Men who would shut their mouth after a day of chores on the farm. My Dad offered to help Ray and got to a lawn chair in the barn before he had to sit a spell.

I never lived in a cul-de-sac. My Dad’s house is in a tree covered suburb of Philly. When I headed west in a Trailways bus out of Cherry Hill I was dazzled by the bright lights of the City 3,000 miles distant. The City by the Bay called to me and I answered with a bus ticket. I stopped on the east side of San Francisco Bay at my grandmother’s house in Albany, CA. My Dad said I’d never last living in the city.

It’s been forty years in the city. My Dad has a few chairs on the farm in Merida. One is in the living room with a shoe-box full of remote controls. He commands the entertainment from that chair. Another is an Amish made cane rocking chair with a commanding porch view of the farm. He used to take visitors and talk to the farm hands. Lately, he sleeps in that chair most of the day.

Shall I Stay With Misery in the Valley?

Sixteen years ago the reasons to stay in the East Bay disappeared. The Empress flew to Taiwan with my son. I lost another temp job. My landlord declared that he was converting the entire complex to Section 8 housing. Every tenant had to either move out or qualify for Section 8. Then and still the wait list for Section 8 is decades long. I make too much money so that left moving out.

Choices. Stay on the correct coast where my Dad’s family can trace their California story back through the San Bernadino Mormons or leave the golden state. Then there is the Mayan option—to live with my grandfather’s family on their farm in Yucatan. I chose the third option. I moved from Richmond, CA to Richmond, VA in 2002.

Even when I am in Yucatan I stay in Merida at a hotel. All those years watching the world pass by my taxi-cab windshield make the bustle & noise of the city feel right. Also, I’ve seldom lived in “good” places.  Home has been cars, friend’s couches, hotels and beggar shelters. The house in Richmond is the longest stint of stable living I’ve had since separating from the Empress. My Dad was wrong about me. I did last living in the city.

Tuning to Twilight

It’s twilight. Dinner service is wrapping up and the band is tuning up. I’ve got my Mccauley’s neat and a plate of barbacoa. The weatherman is telling the gringos that this monsoon season will be bad. The train of storms starting in Nigeria is strong. Already they have named 8 storms that have wandered near and then away from Merida.  The 9th, Ian, generated warnings to evacuate. I took another sip of my bourbon.

This is the wrong side of the tracks. It is populated by the bottom third of the bell curve. The normies and good folk fear this valley. They see the shadow of death over us and nod with complicity to their preacher who tells them that we are their fate if they don’t behave. We are good with that.

When I am not in Richmond, Philly or Merida I am here in the bar or in my flat upstairs. The flat used to be warehouse space for the bar. No amount of Pinesol is enough to erase the mix of old bourbon, piss, puke, stale beer, illicit sex, and cigarettes. It has two rooms, a former office in the back with a thrift store sourced kitchen.  Someone before me put a  cheap fiberglass shower with copper pipes green with age into the former office. I’ve tried to clean the toilet but even straight bleach won’t remove the years of beery piss and tossed smokes. The sink stinks of smoked heroin. The big room in front used to store liquor and also has thrift store furniture. It offers no escape from the stench of mortal sins.

Yes I Do

More than a few have climbed the stairs to my loft and exclaimed, “you like living here?!” I do. The noise of the bar plays a melody grounded by the sub-woofer beat of freight trains that pass by every couple hours. They hurry on to feed the hungry maw of the collected mass of normies who worry about me. Let them be scared.

Normie kids come to the bar to get their freak on. This place is exciting. Stuff happens. Girls show up ready to dance, drink and mayhaps give some. The music is awesome. The food is good, even better after a few drinks. People come here to play and then we send them home a little worse for it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. We don’t want to be less dangerous. It’s a long drive over the hills on two-lane gravel roads to get here. An hour out of town is a gas station inhabited by a shotgun-toting old man with a bad attitude. His nose for outsiders is unfailing. He’s put buckshot into the doors of more than a few who seemed like they were lost and ought to be headed back out of the valley.

Gasoline and Buckshot

Old man Saito does sell gas. You have to get past the initial curmudgeonly greeting. You can’t be in a hurry. Most of the normie kids out for a weekend in town know enough to either tank up before they cross the pass or invest a few hours in drinking rice wine (50 proof!) with him.  Those in the know bring a fifth of Makers Mark with them. He searches their car for contraband and finds it, upon which his attitude improves considerably. Also, let him find a carton of Marlboro Red 100’s. Sometimes the old bribes are still the best currency to buy some freedom.

There is freedom here you can’t find on the other side of the pass under the bright lights of the city. Somebody came to a twelve-step meeting and was nervous that they might be found out as a gender-queer psychiatry patient with a thick jacket of mental ward admittance and city jail time. We were not impressed. We are small enough to not need a recognizable municipal government.

The closest we have is Saito’s son, who can be seen drifting through the streets picking the trash for aluminum cans. He’s out on parole after collecting federal time for punching a US Marshall. Oh, it doesn’t stop there. Once inside a fellow inmate threatened to rape him so Ren killed him barehanded. You have to do better than liking both sausages and clams to be interesting here.

Hard Living

It’s a hard life here. We don’t have public schools, public health services, or a social safety net. There are Ren Saito’s friends and there are those who either die or leave because they pissed off Ren. Those that stay figure out a truce with Ren. To survive here you either need your own money or a way to earn a living. Ren found The last guy to try standing on a corner with a sign asking for money in a dumpster at the back of the bar badly bloodied. He was offered two choices: clean the bar after it closes or leave town. He stayed and is the first to greet fellow beggars with a warning.

You know this one, that when you hit bottom the only direction is up. Our townies leave here stronger, clean & sober. We do for each other. The reason we don’t have a lot of municipal services is that we are small, we know each other, and we don’t hesitate to do the needful for each other. It’s how a lot of small-town America works.

I’ve seen the world from the 31st floor of 101 California Street in San Francisco. My suits from back then cost me what I make in three months. I had a family, a two-bedroom condo with designer furniture and two cars. My travel mug costs a month’s wages for those who don’t live under the city lights. That was then. Things are better now.

Father Thomas

Last thing. The church is here. Father Thomas is a Cherokee, a Gulf War Vet, with a bronze twelve-step chip. He was accused by a parishioner of raping boys. Before all that he was convicted of tax evasion for selling moonshine. The county ADA could never find enough evidence to charge him with rape. The church offered to send him to Brazil. He left instead.

He went back to Seminary and was ordained in the Anglican Church. The rumblings of some that the church was out of sync with the times regarding abortion and standards of fidelity or chastity in marriage drove him to set out on his own. He planted a small monastic order in the valley. His order runs a local school, missions and mercy programs, as well as the usual services of a local parish.

Many have underestimated Father Thomas. One seeker accosted him, wanting to know if he used the KJV, “I do not.” Which one, then? “My own.” Your own copy of the KJV? “No, my own translation.” Oh. You will find the NABRE in the pews of the order’s chapel. The order lives under a modified Benedictine Rule.

Westboro Baptist showed up one weekend and sought out Father Thomas. They expected tv cameras and protestors. They got a church picnic in full swing. Father Thomas approached them with plates. The Westboro Baptist kids were hungry. It was a great time for all.

Bottom Third

Down here on the bottom third of the curve, with places to lay my head in Richmond, the Valley, Philly, and Merida I am happier than I was when I chased status and money. I am free. I may not be successful in building my personal brand such that I collect accolades from the normies. My virtue signal is noisy and dissonant. I’m good with it.

The band started up. Lighting Hopkins stuff. My floor is swaying to the music. It’s a good night for the normies downstairs chasing the light fantastic. I’ll sleep well tonight.


Aye Tonya Evil Bad

Maybe my first paid post. My buddy asked me to go see I, Tonya. Did that. I had a couple thoughts. First, the obligatory nod to Yoast SEO, aye tonya evil bad. Next, I tried talking to Felina about them. It did not go well. The first thing she said was, “chingada puta.” I thought she meant me. Tonya Harding was the puta.

I’m not ready to talk about the movie yet. So I’ll talk about Felina first. She’s in Puerto Rico helping the family rebuild. The little street market her Dad started grew into an office supply business selling to medical supply manufacturers. Her family’s building was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Their house was buried under several feet of mud. It took her Mom a couple weeks to find cell phone reception and call Felina. Felina was already planning to go home. When her Mom called a quick convo with Inger and a few clicks on a travel site settled the plans.

Bad Bae

All good, no? No. Bae, it seems, claimed that Felina was neither a good Madonna nor a bad Mary. This was a problem. Felina’s resistance to Bae’s ‘spose to’s caused their strife. Worst of all Felina put her family in Puerto Rico ahead of Bae. He wouldn’t leave Richmond with her. She wasn’t understanding. She wasn’t listening. She’s a character on this blog so . . . yeah.

Aye Tonya Evil BadFor Felina’s part, that Bae was deep into Call of Duty WWII, hadn’t helped pay a bill in six months, and his one job application hadn’t moved from the coffee table, was a reason his culo podrido should be peeled from its couch cocoon and put outside. She’d be good with an hour of weeding. He waved her off and went back to COD.

In the lobby of the theater when I walked out to pee the two of them were arguing about laundry. Bae claimed that she wasn’t doing it right and btw, had let it go too long. Felina figured, “él es capaz de llevar su trasero de mierda y su ropa putrefacta a la lavandería automática“. Beside’s if she loved him she’d love doing his laundry. Yeah, that . . . didn’t go well.

Aye Tonya Evil Bad

Ok, “I, Tonya.” First, it’s an awesome movie. Go spend the double sawbuck it costs to see it popcorn in hand. This is a movie about what Hollywood fears most. It is also a movie about abusive relationships. Last, it shows how deeply seductive and evil random reward systems are. It touches me because I’ve been both abused and an abuser. I feel Tonya’s pain.

Next, Hollywood wants you to have empathy for Tonya Harding. She’s the victim in this, so it goes. Her asshat husband and his crazy friends conspired to break the knee of Nancy Kerrigan. Tonya survived her Mom’s abuse and in turn, her husband’s abuse. Felina didn’t like the movie. For her, it made Tonya seem like a 19th-century waif suffering from a chronic case of the vapors. Felina wanted a little street justice for marido gilipollas y su amigo.

Felina and Bae were outside the auditorium bickering, “If you understood you wouldn’t leave me for Puerto Rico.” “Pene estúpido,” she swung and missed. He swung back and connected. Theater security saw him connect and that was it.

Triumphant Tonya

I’m good with Tonya as a survivor. She had it bad coming up. I get that. I have no truck with Tonya Harding, who triumphed over adversity and came close to Olympic gold. Hollywood . . . tho. The best villain is a white woman? Really? And men are stupid violent pigs on their face? Thanks, ‘preciate that.

Felina saw this draft. I got a 3am text from her, “las mujeres le temen a otras mujeres mucho más de lo que le temen a los hombres.” I never expected that. Most of my baddies are men. Men commit the majority of the domestic violence in this country. “Las mujeres saben cómo manejar a los hombres. Los hombres luchan con armas y puños. Las mujeres usan chismes y ataques a la reputación. Derrotar armas y puños es más fácil que pelear palabras.”

Ok . . . so the mom as the evilest fits Felina’s claim that women are more dangerous than men. Noted. I cheered for Tonya, cried with her and felt that catharsis possible with a good tragedy. Laments work best when you stay dark, stay in the misery, kill the hero at the end. I, Tonya is almost a good tragedy. It fails because Hollywood can’t stomach a deeply evil baddie, especially a woman. Baddies are just misunderstood.

Let’s Talk About Abuse

Aye Tonya Evil BadI, Tonya” shows us the victim’s side of the cycle. In case you forgot, it goes explosive event, apology, honeymoon, quiet period, tension builds and rinse repeat. The general trend is toward more violent and destructive acts of abuse. It seldom moves toward a healthier relationship. You see that in Tonya’s relationship with her husband. This won’t be news to us who are abusers/victims. Something deep gets rooted in us from abusive parents. We come to trust bitterness as normal. We can’t breathe in relationships that are healthy.

Bitterness tastes sweet to us. So much so that we hunger for it. Tonya Harding had that hunger for bitterness as a gift from her Mom. The hunger is powerful and even though we swear that the last thing we want is more bitter relationships there is something spiritual in us that attracts others who are also addicted to bitterness. We tend to find broken partners that reinforce our own lust for bitterness. I saw that in Tonya’s story.

Felina is an asshat magnet. She has “amo a los chicos malos” emblazoned on her soul. It frustrates her that every time she finds a guy he seems to come around to abuse after the initial heat dies down.  Felina went so far toward couch slug In choosing Bae that she picked someone who wore his sloth as an extra dick.  She found his tipping point once she started to fight with him about doing something more than consuming large bags of Cheetos and leveling up in COD. He’s done. The movie theater thing happened. Then the restraining order, criminal charges and such. The real test comes once he gets out and it’s, “baby I am sorry.”

Reward Systems

The last thing, “I, Tonya” is a stellar example of a powerful reward system—random. The devil knows that he doesn’t have to pay off on every promise. He just has to pay off on enough promises that his subjects remain dedicated to him. Random reward systems drive us to continue a behavior in the hopes that this is the iteration that will pay off. We know if we keep doing the behavior the reward will come. Because the payoff is random we can’t predict when we will be rewarded.

We know that Satan pays sometimes. We believe that we can influence the outcome and be rewarded with a higher payout rate than simply random payouts. So we will do anything to get a hint of the promised reward. The characters in “I, Tonya” were willing to do what it took to get the prize.

Tonya’s most desperate wish was for her Mom to love her unconditionally. This hunger for unconditional love is what her Mom used to get Tonya to work so hard at figure skating. Consciously or not, her Mom’s praise came randomly. Tonya Harding was raised under a random reward system. This instilled a desperate need for bitterness sweetened by the occasional reward of her Mom’s praise. This ache gave her husband the hook that let him keep her in spite of his abusive ways.

Don’t, Just . . . Don’t.

Before I wrap this up I have a plea. Being evil works. You can get people to do things they would never do in the cold light of day. We have enough of that. Please be light and salt.

Random reward systems, abusive people, women as the more frightening baddie, and Felina’s bae moving to the city jail. This is the end. Felina’s reaction to Tonya Harding is that she would have beat the shit out of both the boyfriend and the Mom. Maybe a bit of bravado. We don’t really know what we would do until evil has us in its teeth. With Felina, though, I kind of believe her.

Props to Allison Janney for being as evil as Hollywood allowed. Major, major, epic props to Margot Robbie for a stellar performance. It’s a movie worth the double sawbuck price to see it in a theater.


Are There Any Fun Things to do in Richmond?

Are There Any Fun Things to do in Richmond? Tourists stink. They ask stupid questions. Often they are too drunk to remember to tip. They dress funny. But . . . my cab costs money and I have important bills like my monthly subscription to sexycats.com. So I guess I should behave and answer the question.

Are there fun things to do in Richmondtbh, I don’t want to talk to you, dear cab customer. I really only want to know two things: where are you going and am I going to get paid? Of the two, whether I am getting paid is the important question. After that, I really don’t care. “You must meet some pretty interesting people,” she said. Not really. I meet a lot of people who can’t take transit or drive for one of many reasons. These are not interesting people. These are annoying people like you.

When I drove for Uber I met younger, inebriated people. I met young, inebriated women who heard the rumor that Uber drivers would hook up with them. Huge bad idea. So, not me. To repeat, if I have a passenger that wants to hook up with me she’s going home first, getting some sleep and we’ll do brunch while she’s still hung over. If there is a third date, then . . . maybe.

Are There Any Fun Things To Do In Richmond

Uber Hook Up

There have been Uber drivers who believed she did want to hook up with him that found out she was just drunk and momentarily lost her damned mind. The next morning these drivers found themselves under arrest and in the news. There is even a website: whoisdrivingyou.org. So, yeah, it’s a thing, sadly.

I am a veteran cab driver. All told I’ve driven over 500,000 passenger safe miles. Many young, drunk and attractive women have gotten home safe because of me. I see her, saw her, chose a long time ago to leave her alone and do my job. If you are her and your driver is creepy, end the ride.  Nothing is worth staying in a bad situation.


The big elephant on the street in Richmond is our place as one corner of the slave triangle and as the capital of the Confederacy. We have reasons to lament. It’s hard to tour this city and avoid the remains of the War for States Rights. I’m not with those who would pave over our regrettable past. I want us to remember. We are not 247365 morose about our dog in the fight against racism. There is a better answer to the question than just pissing on Monument Avenue statues and touring Hollywood Cemetary.

Are There Fun Things to do in Richmond?

So, on with the topic. There are many fun things to do in Richmond. Some of my favorites are:

Searching Yelp got me 2690 fun things to do in Richmond. I like cafes more than I like bars. Drunks are my money and by extension my food. Mom told me not to play with my food. I have a mercantile interest in making a drunk think I am friendly. But, it’s because you smell of money and look crunchy. By inference, bars are where my food can be found so I like them. As a place to socialize? No.

Are There Any Fun Things To Do In Richmond


You will find me in a few cafes around Richmond. The last time I was in a bar with a friend was ten years ago. I spent the whole time studying the crowd trying to decide which of these assholes would actually pay me if I found them on the street needing a cab. Conclusion? None of them. The fish & chips were tasty. It was not fun.

The closest I’ve found to Berkeley’s Au Coquelet is Richmond’s Black Hand Coffee. I want a place with good WiFi where I can write. Black Hand Coffee offers that. One other way it is like Au Coquelet is the lack of parking. I recommend riding an Uber or taking transit to Black Hand Coffee. Driving there is annoying. When I am not at Black Hand I can be found at Starbucks on Robinson Street or North Boulevard.

I spend too much money at Proper Pie. My favorite order is a savory, a pastie and a roll.  When I am feeling flush I’ll add something sweet to that order. Proper Pie changes their menu daily so check with them on what they are offering today. Their coffee is good as well.

Down the street is Captain Buzzy’s. This is another place where you can spend an afternoon nursing a coffee and using their WiFi. My son tried their hot chocolate a few years ago and declared it to be his best ever.

Are There Any Fun Things To Do In Richmond


I’m a huge movie goer. Richmond’s Byrd Theater is a surviving movie palace that kept its Wurlitzer pipe organ. They offer a different double feature each week for $4.00 per movie. $8.00 to see two movies and hear a pipe organ is a really good deal. The house organist only plays once a week on Saturdays. Plan accordingly. When I want to see a new release in a theater with an audience I go to Movieland.

I’ve only been to one Cinebistro. It was nice to have a beer and some fish & chips while I watched a movie. I haven’t been to the one at Stoney Point. But, P.F. Changs is there along with Cinebistro. Looking at the menu it’s a Benjamin for two people to eat and watch a movie. That’s a bit steep for me. It’s a couple hours of rides on an average day.

There is probably a MoviePass in my future. I let my Verizon FIOS subscription get canceled 18 months ago. I still have 4G on my phone & tablet. That’s where most of my movie viewing takes place. The other movie theaters nearby aren’t as good as Movieland.

Are There Any Fun Things To Do In Richmond


I’m settled in my ways. If I eat out it tends to be Proper Pie. Other places include Kuba Kuba, Hibachi Sushi, and Pho So 1. A coworker suggested Osaka Sushi & Steak. My favorite restaurant is actually my own kitchen. Featured menu items include French Omelettes with Home Fries, Red Beans & Rice, Roast Chicken, and Fried Rice. There is East Villa on East Main Street if I want authentic Chinese-American food. Last thing, the Empress found Full Kee on Horsepen Road almost twenty years ago. It’s as close to the Hong Kong Noodle & Barbeque style restaurant we liked in Oakland, Ca. as we could find.


West Main Street starting at Harrison and continuing up to Boulevard has the bar scene for VCU and those who think they are still twenty-something hot. I know Baja Bean because I get a lot of rides out of there. There is also Pearl Raw Bar, 3 Monkeys and Social 52Uptown Market is open after bar close. You’ll find the crowd that isn’t ready to end the night in line for late night drunk food.

Then there is Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom.  The trashier townie crowd that is sick of VCU gownies can be found on East Cary Street starting at 14th Street and continuing to 18th or so. UofR students like this four-block stretch of East Cary Street. It starts with Sine and ends at Buffalo Wild Wings. That’s not the really heavy dive bar scene, though.

To get the full dress code, metal detector, big Bubba bouncer experience you have to go a block over to East Main Street starting at 17th and continuing to 27th Street. The best of these is between 17th and 21st Street. Best of all the cops show up at bar close on weekends and close the street. Richmond had some bad gunfights inside these clubs a decade ago. As a result, the cops send everyone home at last call.

And All the Rest

Richmond is the capital of the Confederacy. We are a city with laments. Monument Avenue is an eyesore to those who can’t forgive, can’t forget what we did to brown people until the mid-twentieth century. When you ask us we tend to agree that there is a lot of history in our city. Then we ask you if you have tried the brunch at the Jefferson Hotel.

Lumpkins Jail is a VCU parking lot now. The river landing where the slave ships off-loaded isn’t recognizable. The visible architecture of slavery was erased in many places. The wound on the souls of some is still putrid. Those that would continue the destruction of the memorials, museums and markers of our bitter past are fools. Instead of trying to erase the visible symbols of hate we ought to build more memorials, museums, and markers to tell the whole story. We should rebuild Lumpkins Jail.

This isn’t a polemic. I’ve posted over 270 essays on this site. If it’s polemic you want there is plenty here. This is an answer to the question, “Are There Fun Things to do in Richmond?” There are more fun things to do here that will fit in a single blog post.  Even our AntiFa came here and had a good time.  My favorite things to do are to eat, to write and drink coffee, and to walk. Richmond has all three and so much more.


You Can’t Repent

You Can’t Repent. You are Irredeemable. Oprah, Queen of Kleenex has declared this. She has sent forth her Amazonian Army to castrate you. You need to get used to being a monster in the eyes of the Queen.  Being castrati won’t be enough. There is another who made a Way. Read on and find out.

Psalm 1:1-4—“1 Blessed is the man[a]
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
   and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Matthew 5:6—“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

I lost count the number of Sundays my ass stuck to the lacquer paint of a pew as another pastor droned on about the Beatitudes. This Sunday was one more. The pastor’s frame of reference was that these two passages were about us, about each of us and the ways that we should individually hunger for a deeper discipleship hewing closer to the law. Noble idea. And worthy. And for me . . . a bit annoying.

Israel, when Christ was alive, had the law.  They had/have commentary on the law as given by God. Ask a practicing Jew about how to honor the Sabbath. Though, block out some time for this because it will take a while. All of it focused on trying to get a thick-necked people to behave better. None of it much good for its intended purpose.

Get Out There

There is an introspective aspect to hungering for righteousness. We should deepen our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus of Nazareth. Then we ought to maintain our vigilance in living out that understanding. It doesn’t stop there, however. Jesus wasn’t commissioning a bunch of temple living hermits. He commissioned a bunch of troublemakers like himself who were to make all nations disciples of the Way. So, where activism, social justice work and the lot are within the practices of the Way, we ought to be doing that as well.

Jesus asked us to serve prisoners, the sick, the poor, the persecuted, among others. Go back and read the Sermon on the Mount again. It has both an inward, personal growth aspect and an SJW aspect. It’s not enough to grow personally. We have to get out there, afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

A Kleenex Empire

Lately, after a rousing acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey’s name was bandied about as a possible candidate for President. Oprah is the goddess of Kleenex, of the teary, emotional moment. The Kleenex Goddess made her wealth on leering at the miseries of others. She cannot afford to have a baddy repent. Though, people seem to be an infinite fount of bad behavior. She is in no danger of running out of baddies to excoriate on national TV.

You Can't RepentMy name is Alan Webb and I am a wife-beater. It’s been sixteen years since I last hit my ex-wife. I still worry that it is half-time for me and the next relationship will be just as destructive as my first marriage. For all my therapy, classes and introspection the jury is still out on whether my next girlfriend and I can navigate through a relationship that is safe and healthy for both of us.

You Can’t Repent

I have people in my life who will not let me repent. I am a monster. Nothing I say or do can change that. I learned a long time ago that there is no gain in fighting to a victory with someone who believes my nature as a monster is immutable.  It’s better to let them believe I am a monster and go about living an honorable life.

Two things of note regarding repentance. One, in our ADHD 247365 shitstorm propaganda cycles, repentance takes too long. The data stream we get is tuned to keep us amped on OMG. because while amped our reason is swamped by our reptilian brain. Our reptilian brain wants to stay alive and fuck. High minded ideas like repentance just don’t get on our reptilian radar. It makes us putty in the hands of those who lead us.

Stay Asleep

So, for the dear leaders, us holding resentment is part of the stew that keeps us compliant. To be woke is a thing for some. Let me suggest one way to be woke, to be aware of the ways that you are being led by a bull-ring made up of propaganda delivered through social media and more traditional news sources like print, broadcast and cable TV. That ring feeds you emo stories meant to keep your reptile brain afraid that it might die, might not be able to eat or worst of all, be unable to fuck.

One more thing. I saw this in my 1100 hours at the table at Boaz and Ruth. The guys that fell back into ripping and running were also guys who could not answer this question, “what do you want to do?” They were really good at their chaplain speeches. They were very clear that they did not want to do what got them arrested and a spot at the table at Boaz and Ruth. What did they want? That . . . that question was tough.

I don’t want to be a monster anymore” is an easy answer. Kind of. First, you are not allowed to stop being a monster. If you ever collected the ire of someone who believed you behaved in a monstrous way then you are a monster and like me, you cannot remove that moniker. At best you can gain a grudging trust that you haven’t been monstrous today.

Do What?

Second, you won’t last on the street unless you find your purpose. It’s not always some grand thing. Sometimes it’s as simple as line cooking or sewer pipe trenching. Mike Rowe made 169 episodes of dirty, skilled labor jobs. Those can be a purpose as noble as anything white collar that you think your parents would approve of. It can be something absurd like writing almost a half-million words ranting about what’s wrong with everybody. The key secret to life as a monster is finding that purpose. And . . . do us all a favor and pick something other than predatory behavior. Thanks, bunches.

Last, repentance takes time. Obvi, no? You would think so. But the town criers that fill our social media feed don’t want us calm enough to reflect on the time it takes to give life to a promise to repent. We are more malleable if we stay amped on the latest OMG to drop. It’s better for our dear leaders if we keep eating the bitterness they feed us.

Now, let’s talk about Purpose. This is one of the big hairy questions we all stumble into. I’ll let you in on a secret about me. I have no fucking clue. I made it through nearly six decades of life just following my nose. There are minor purposes, reptilian ones. But a big, elegant, life-giving purpose? Nah. Hold my covfefe. I mean, yeah, contribute to making the world more peas and fewer big-eyed, starving TV kids? Sure. Write too many words on a blog that no one reads. Did that, doing that. Bring a son into this world with a Taiwanese Mafia Princess? Check. Just . . . I never answered the question, “what do you want to do”?

No Answer is an Answer

I still don’t have an answer. I’m a bit like the other guys at that table at Boaz and Ruth. I know I don’t want to do monstrous things and collect prison time. I know I want to live a life that keeps me as safe as possible so the chances of doing monstrous things are minimized. But . . . as to what I want . . . I don’t know.

The small purposes I found, keeping my house and my car, seeking small acts of kindness done with great love, and embracing a stable life, these have been enough. One of the absurdities of God is those Egyptian monks who sought to isolate themselves as completely as possible and left behind words that became world famous. Something cliche and something true, that we are not to worry about what God does with our pittance of a life. We are to simply live. My pedestrian life driven by reptilian desires that sometimes rise to slight elegance in the small acts of kindness I have done will have to be enough.

Purpose, when you are young or misfortune has stolen your position and now your rock must be pushed up the hill one more time, is useful. It helps clarify which choices fit and which don’t. You begin to hear the siren call of the Queen of Kleenex as the dangerous clanging gong that it is. Truth is, we are finite. The day does come when we become legend only alive in the stories of those we leave behind. Choices get made that set a direction. So, being intentional about purpose is useful.

The World is Absurd

Lovely, no? I didn’t do that. I did whatever I damned pleased. My life never had a carefully crafted purpose beyond making sure I had a roof over my head and food to eat. I’m not MGTOW by choice. It just sort of worked out that way.

You Can't RepentPut me with those who find this shitshow I was born into to be absurd. Life has no grand purpose. We are pissing, shitting fucking beasts with a remarkable talent for hurting each other. Altruism, when it happens, is great. I’ll grant you that most of the Bell curve is unremarkable and never does anything story worthy. But . . . I am nearer to the monster end of the curve than I am to the untested saint end.

Except . . . this crazy, criminal, ghetto-boy carpenter born to a whore a couple thousand years ago started a revolution that continues to this day. He said we ought to hunger for righteousness. The world is absurd and God sent us an absurd leader of a new kingdom after all else failed. A criminal is crucified by the Romans at the request of his church leadership and three days later is alive? That’s cray-cray right there.

Oprah as president is a leadership rooted in bitter unforgiveness. Remember this? Some who worry that if we truly knew them we’d shun them. To which we in the church reply, if you really knew us you would stop worrying. Jesus offers us a cause to pursue and a purpose for our lives absent from the Kleenex Empire. We meet every Sunday, usually, around 10 am or so. I hope you will join us.


SJW Cat Ladies

Big Black Mama Won

SJW Cat Ladies, Cat LadyThis is a good read from my friend.  Source: SJW Cat Ladies

SJW Cat Ladies

Fail. At bottom, a zeitgeist grounded in idealism, in how the world ought to be, will disappoint. No amount of tantrum or sincere feeling can change certain facts. That said, a brown-skinned boy who makes no claim to be a victim is a boy who must be crazy. He can be made sane by re-educating him in the Catechism of the Left. Only then, upon graduating from re-education, can he assume is rightful place on Jacob’s ladder as a member of the unwashed proletariat.


Good Night Sweet December

Of Lost December Regrets

Good night sweet December. Another year, another season, another reason to talk about regrets. One more sunrise in which winter gives way to a hangover and promises to be better this year. It’s that reason for the season and the concomitant credit card debt. Christmas is my grumpy time. I’ve already phoned in the lament about our month-long binge of spending, feasting, and drinking that culminates on New Year’s Day with a solid hangover. If you want to read it, click here.

Good Night Sweet December TitheI was raised in the church. I’ve been a saved Presbyterian for most of my life. I know the reason for the season. And . . . you didn’t ask but my Google Search for the phrase, “the reason for the season” turned up 291 million hits. I think we have that topic covered.

I can say goodnight sweet December with a smile. My regrets faded to amusing stories of my salad years. My brand’s emotional melody resonates more love ballad than down and dirty blues. So, rather than blather on about how my cupboard is bare, my wallet wanting cash that isn’t there, I’ll live another day in my little heaven.

Y’All are All Pigs

Quickly, if you are a pig and are taking advantage of your privilege or position to get sex, you deserve every bit of consequence coming your way. Consent is a thing. Power imbalances are also a thing. Celebrate, flirt, do you. Just . . . the easy ignorance of boundaries was a boomer thing the youngins are not having. Defy that at your own peril.

Good Night Sweet December Naughty ListThat said, the noisy minority that is doing the usual and taking instances of the few to claim that the general is all like that, they need to check their narratives. Are there pigs? Sure. Do pigs deserve consequences? Yes. To say that the pigs are the way the rest of us are is not helpful. Saying that everyone is a pig just fills the headlines and does nothing to foment constructive change.

It’s all emo and whatever to scream at someone that they are a pedophile Nazi because they don’t agree with you in a manner pleasing to you. I know it feels good. Protip? All it does is make you look like an ignorant toddler. Merry Christmas Gene!

HanaKwanzaXMas from Us on the Naughty List

It’s Christmas Day as I type this. I’m at my usual Starbucks on Robinson Street. Inger’s place is an easy walk from here. She’s home but not the sort to appreciate an unannounced door knock. I texted her and got a Minions Merry Christmas gif in response.

Ray is with Itzel at the farm. I hear that Itzel got him a crocheted seat pad for his Ford 9N tractor. Ray arrived a nominal monk who knew a lot about meditation and squat about tractor farming. Since moving to Itzel’s farm he’s become enamored with old Ford tractors. Crocheted seat pad? Ask a farmer who has to spend 10 hours a day on a tractor during planting season.

Gene made it back to Oakland and the ashram. I hadn’t heard anything from him until my most recent piece. It seems I am a Nazi sexual predator. I was worried about Gene. He’s become almost normal in the last few years. It’s good to hear some passion in him.


I haven’t heard from Felina in a while. She’s back in Puerto Rico with her family trying to help rebuild. They got hit pretty hard.

As for me, I’m good. In 2016 I made the conversion from temp to permanent at work. This removed a layer between me and the client. It also solidified my status with my employer. I get PTO and health insurance in the deal. I also got a nice raise.

Normally on the Naughty List

I depict myself as an outlier in this space. At 19 I thought I understood what an evil hypocrite my Dad was. My troubles were his fault. Answer? Don’t live his life. Do something else. I never quite answered what else. Instead, I fell into cab driving and later, technology support. It’s been almost forty years. The recurring theme has been a tension between what I feel is the path my father set before me and my quest to find another less traveled road.

Since that cross-country bus ride to my grandma’s house in Albany, Ca. I’ve made a quixotic life following my nose. It came out ok, kind of. For the last decade, I’ve been regaining my seat at the table of my kin. We are WASP, from the landed gentry, found at interesting points in history making our small mark on crucial events. I inherited an expectation that I would settle into a white-collar union job, vote Democratic, marry, have some kids and stay in my lane until it was time to collect my gold watch and frequent flyer miles.

Something more interesting happened. Bits and pieces of it appear in this space. I wrote this if you want more than a hint.


Things are good. Yes, I am finishing the year with a mostly empty cupboard. But . . . the lights are on, the space heaters are making their annual feeble attempt at keeping the house warm, I still have my house and my Jeep.

My usual move at a time like this is to find a way to eat the comfort. I am alive when things are really shitty.  I’m absurd. I like it when things are fucked up. It’s my normal.

I want 2018 to be abnormal. Rather than live at the limit and sometimes over it, maybe inhale for a bit. Slow down I move to fast, got to make the moment last . . . sorry. In 2018 I want to solidify my position so that there is some ramp.


New Years Resolutions don’t usually make it past the month of January. Our normal grind catches up with us. I stuck with the one about working out. I didn’t lose weight. Money? Money is my kryptonite. That and consistently going to the gym before work. And lifting weights. Lifting weights are really my kryptonite. The cool thing about New Years Resolutions is that December repeats until we become worm food. We get to make the promises again.

You can lump my list of resolutions into one bucket: things that I am conflicted about doing and are good for me. Without further, the list:

  • Work out in the mornings
    • Lift weights
    • Lower body and core strength. Because you can’t make me do crunches and I should.
    • Swimming
  • Complete at least baby step 1 of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.
  • Tithe at least 5% of my money. Tithing is one of my major malfunctions. I have fought this since I was a kid. With that, stop doing the person-to-person small acts of kindness as my primary means of giving to God. It’s time to settle my beef with the church and surrender to Him at the offering plate.
  • Purchase tangible goods like gold to build a better fiscal foundation.
  • Do the needful to reduce my debt and improve my credit score.

Give First Fruits

So . . . I have a short list of things I have accused the church of which justify my refusal to tithe. They are bullshit. The church is not the institution. It is also not the building. The church is its people. We remain a thick-necked and ornery species.  It should not surprise me that the church reflects our thick-necked and ornery nature. But it did. I still carry that water as I near my sixth decade of life.

Jesus is an absurd king. His church is an absurd church. I am an idiot for expecting absurd, thick-necked and ornery disciples of a martyred carpenter to behave in a way pleasing to me. Yet I do. So . . . the tithing thing isn’t about the money. Nor is it about the ways in which the people of the church behave in ways I find obnoxious. It’s about trust and surrender.

After posting Hair Ache I had ambitions to live on $4.00/hr. less than what I make. I said I’d report back this month. This is that report. Did I accomplish my goal? No. Well . . . a little.

In 2016 I made my pilgrimage to Mount Pleasant, SC to see the eclipse.  Earlier in the year, I celebrated Chinese New Year with my first flight/hotel/rental car vacation. Bertha, my old cop car, got too expensive to fix and instead of adulting and getting another car I let the expired inspection tickets pile up until I was in danger of losing my license. Enter Arty, my Jeep Liberty. 2017 was a year of using my resourcefulness to keep the throttle on my life mashed to the floor.

Good Night Sweet December

So I need a year to catch my breath. The thing I never count on in these cyclical bust/boom things is inertia. It takes time to pay down the cost of my bad behavior. There are things I do when money is scarce that are not smart. But . . . in the moment they are necessary for survival. What’s new is that with my job and such I can relax a little. At least, I will be able to relax a little after I clean up some of the messes that piled up while I stayed in survival mode.

What has to change is a shift from FUB and survival to a more settled fiscal diet. Leave some assets in my life instead of burning through them. It’s a counter-intuitive revolution. Move toward more boring. One of the methods is to tithe.

I’ve been syncopating my giving by tithing directly to those I encounter who seem to need a little help. It is how I avoided my beef with my fellow thick-necked disciples of Christ. It’s time to quit avoiding the fight and engage. With that said the charitable giving I’ve done person-to-person has to stop. In its place is the thing I’ve said I am justified in refusing to do: tithe.

The Talk to Walk

As always, there is the plan and the execution. I’m smart. I write great plans. As I say goodnight sweet December the task remains to execute the plan well. More about my progress in a few months.


We Are Only Our Worst Moments

Shame! Shame!

We are only our worst moments. Most of us do not measure up when examined against the sins of today, of failing to have the liturgy memorized, of being out of uniform or of letting our virtue signal dim. Ever flirt with someone? Are you a cis-male wasp boomer? You are obvi evil incarnate, not worthy of a grave under the jail, you shameful, depraved sinner. Shame! Crucifixion would be too good for you.

As I make this edit, voters in Alabama voted for Doug Jones to replace Jeff Sessions. The Republican, Roy Moore, is accused of being a pig. All the usual tropes about white, boomer pigs shouted across traditional and social media. Shame! Moore is a pig and that is that.

Sin is weaponized. The current mortal sin is sexual misconduct. Everything from a hand casually brushing across the ass of a woman to full-on rape is treated the same. Anyone with the slightest mote of impropriety is labeled a predator. Give it time, though. The press will get bored with sexual misconduct and pick something else of gravitas to justify hating the target of the day. The sinner and sin will change. The need to keep you watching will not change. Leaders are rotten low hanging fruit.

The only possible leader is one who had an immaculate birth, was castrated before puberty and never even breathed anything remotely evil. Jesus of Nazareth was a bastard convicted criminal, so he’s out. Buddha was born a prince so he can’t understand because of his privilege. King David committed adultery. Though, Mohamed’s story qualifies him. He was an orphan. The surviving stories about his early life are free of any hint of sin. The Koran has a lot to offer the legalist left.

Far From Sans-Sin

Let’s run through my adjectives one more time. wife-beater, divorced father of one, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, conservative Christian, pro-life, homophobic, misogynist, boomer, would register Republican if I could, Trump supporter that’s a dozen, a good start. I come from quality stock, from a generations-old heritage of solid socialist and communist kin. Shame! Then I became apostate.

Hate me yet? No? I must be doing something wrong. I’d rather be what I am–shunned. Please don’t add me to the nice list. Woe to me should I ever become a public figure. Those twelve adjectives become mortars fired at my reputation.

Now Entering the Colesium

In this current gladiatorial battle for control of the empire, we keep asking our leaders to be sainted god-kings. There must not be a single mote of sin staining their face. Anything that can be used against them is fired at them with all possible force. It is beyond taboo to suggest that our logs enter the stadium. The orthodox axiom is that our leaders must be beyond reproach.

Roy Moore is a pedophile abuser of women. Al Franken was photographed with his hands over the tits of a sleeping news reporter. Harvey Weinstein has dozens of accusers. He is depicted as a massive dickhead unsafe around anyone. John Conyers, a candidate for sainthood, resigned on the day I wrote this. Shame! He is accused of demanding sexual favors and fondling several women.

33 men accused of sexual misconduct says a story recently published in the LA Times.  Obviously, men haven’t changed in spite of 169 years of feminist activism. Boys will be boys. Men are beyond redemption. Don’t trust a promise of repentance from a man, especially white, wasp, boomer men. Shame! Those men are despicable and always will be.

We Are Only Our Worst Moments

No one can repent. Words of repentance are meaningless. A tiger can’t change his stripes. Men will always be pigs and dogs. People are ugly and dangerous. White men are immutable racist, misogynist pigs. Nothing changes that. Shame! This is how it has been and always will be.

Some say we are only our worst moments. It is the law that matters. We must strive to please God through diligent adherence to the laws of Moses and Abraham. Even then humanity’s record with this is dismal. We are a thick-necked, stubborn and disobedient people. Our logs and motes become weapons used against us by those who hate us.

Moderation is a sin. One must zealously guard the brand. High achievers master the art of the virtue signal. They can safely stand above us because they keep their signal as a Philistine among Philistines. St. Paul is a piker.

Is That All There Is?


Clay Feet on Mount Olympus

I said this elsewhere, I trust a repentant sinner more than an untested saint. We keep searching for unblemished, untested saints only to discover that they too have sinned. Give me a Donald Trump or Ray Moore who has his one-year medallion. The god-king endorsed by Nancy Pelosi as one who is without blemish? I don’t trust him/her.

So, last night Inger came up for air. She’d been out with a guy who had the full costume. Mao jacket, Red-Army field cap, surplus cargo pants, Doc Martins, Galois cigarettes, fu-man-chu, you get the idea. What’s funny AF is he’s an Asian ginger. British Mom & Vietnamese Dad. South London accent. He’s macking on her, preening with his memorization of the Little Red Book and bits of Stalin. Again with the “sex is a need so sex is a right and I need sex with you so you should honor my right. Besides, someone said you were a feminist. You are not supposed to say no.” This is Inger. He’s lucky she didn’t make him bleed out.

Tumeric was full of righteous indignation at the horrors of Moore/Trump’s alleged nature as a pig, “Ray Moore should be impeached. Can we revolution now?” He was completely blind to his own slobbering hound behavior. His passion was his index finger radar locked on “those guys in the deep state who are secretly the worst ever, starting with Moore/Trump.” For him, draining the swamp meant re-education for anyone whose brand wasn’t brilliantly red. His brand was solid so of course, Inger should lift her skirt for him. Pro-tip: never come at Inger that way. Things will go bad for you.

What Pisses Me Off

The quivering, accusatory finger pointed at political enemies shuts down conversation about anything else. #metoo I understand but it is a bit frustrating. #metoo has become a mass hysteria where every man who behaved in the slightest way mayhaps sexually improper is thrown into the same lot as an accuses serial rapist like Harvey Weinstein.

This accomplishes two things. First, it makes the serious accusations of credible victims seem absurd. We can’t deal with actual harm because the pussy-hat clowns are too busy pointing a quivering finger at every swinging dick that walks by them and smiles. Second, it shuts down any conversation about our leaders that isn’t on the topic of piggish behavior. Everything has to be about sex. Protip: if everything must be about sex then the take-home is that nothing can be about sex.

Third, these pussy-hat clowns who are so enamored of their quivering fingers pointing at pigs ask for the absurd. Men must be eunuchs and virginal hermits. Fertile swinging dicks are a threat. In their hysterical accusations they also further a 19th-century notion of women as frail, delicate creatures needing protection from the cruelty of our fallen world. Men are pigs, always have been since Lilith ran out of Eden into the desert. They always will be and that is that. The cure for that is internment camps where men are taught Maoist doctrine and home economics.


Something I’ve noticed. The shrill, quivering, accusatory finger pointed at Roy Moore and others, only has strength while it can draw attention. Once the emo punch fades and we are all post-coitus sweaty the accusations don’t seem so serious. The news cycle moves on to other more emo-things. There are other erotic mountains to climb, other panty wetting stories to tell.

Because the political conversation has to be about pigs we can’t talk about anything else. Would Roy’s vision of an America made great again be any good? We won’t know because too many are nutting off on the latest teary-eyed ingenue accusing an old-white-pig of forcing her to give it up.

Let me be led by an absurdity. I surrender to a religious dissident whose words spoken to power got him killed. He reigns over me and through him, I am redeemed. Those who would point a shivering finger at me while reciting my litany of sins can just shut up. Would I vote for Roy Moore? Yes. I’ll take my chances on a guy who was a pig at one time but has become a follower of a crucified Nazarene carpenter. I don’t trust someone who paints himself as more pious. I’ll bet a bottle of shine that Doug Jones isn’t all that.


Forecast is Cloudy

Deep South Hot

The forecast is cloudy. It is the summer of 2017 in Mount Pleasant, SC. Jolana, her daughter and her husband are at the KOA with my Pappa and his dog, Dexter. It is hot, deep South hot. This is hours before the solar-eclipse began its traverse of the USofA. It’s not gone well.

So . . . see if this sounds like a plan. Pull a pop-up tent trailer behind a Toyota Hi-Lux 650 miles to a campground in Mount Pleasant, SC. This is Plan B. Plan A was to fly to Portland, Oregon, then hitchhike and walk to Lincoln Beach . . . with the little dog Dexter and my 86 year old Pappa. No problem.

About the tent trailer. Jolana bought it from someone on Craig’s List. It has a toilet, a sink, a two-burner propane stove and a refrigerator. Good, good, right? No. None of that works. The ceiling leaks. The tent has holes. South Carolina mosquitoes, just saying.

The Second Time is Never the Same

I feel for anyone who lives wanting the world to be the way they believe it should be. Jolana’s more perfect world was a two week road trip to see the eclipse on Prince Edward Island in the 1970’s. In the summer of 2017 a total eclipse traversed the continental United States of America. This was a chance for a do-over of a rose-tinted memory of the eclipse of her youth. Jolana wanted to get the signal right. Spoiler alert: she got it wrong.

Last Winter I booked a room in Mount Pleasant just in case I decided to make a road trip to see the eclipse. Richmond saw about 85% totality and I was good with that. What I wanted out of a weekend in Mt. Pleasant was some beer drinking, maybe eating somewhere nice, and rest. The eclipse was a side benefit. Jolana had other plans. It was a Prince Edward Island Redo.

Jolana’s fond memory is tinted by the fog of time. It was not so blissful. There was the fight  where Mamma took the station wagon and left us stranded at the campground. This is of no consequence to Jolana. She is a brilliant author of her fictional world that she inhabits as naturally as most of us breathe. In this world it was bollywood perfect utopia of family and storm free auspicious solar eclipse.

☀ ☀ ☀

It was a stormy drive to Prince Edward Island that only settled down after Pappa found a lobsterman who was offloading and had lobsters to sell. Mamma was soothed by a lobster dinner prepared by Pappa and Uncle Louie. My happiest moment was discovering easily caught flounder just offshore in knee deep water. That the god’s were grumbly was of small concern.

The event itself was magical. Jolana’s memory is of that moment when the sun slipped behind the moon and day became night. That’s do she wanted to redo.

Forecast is Cloudy Then Clear

Jolana and her crew arrived on Thursday to muggy, cloudy and afternoon stormy Mount Pleasant, SC. The KOA was 95% Class A motorhomes and one miserable tent-trailer and Toyota Hi-Lux that spewed out a gout of brown, spanish speaking people. Someone forgot to tell the gardeners that the employee sites were on the other side of the creek. That Jolana had a reservation . . . meant nothing until it did.

I took my time leaving Richmond on Friday and making my way to Mount Pleasant. The leg from Richmond to Kinston, NC was uneventful. I got to the Boiler Room after lunch. I had my butter-bean burger. It’s good. A bit too much like a grilled refried bean patty, but otherwise good. The second leg from Kinston, NC to Mount Pleasant took the rest of the day.

I made a visit to the campground Friday night. The hotel’s policy on pets was that they had to be in a smoking room and there was a nightly $25.00 charge. I told Jolana that it was a “apologize rather than ask permission” thing. For Jolana this was as good as permission granted. My mistake.

Pappy’s Gonna Die

It is Saturday morning. I’m comfortable under the blankets. It’s 6:00am. My phone rings. It’s Jolana, “Alan, escucha! Ésto es una emergencia. ¡Tenemos que venir ahora mismo! Pappa y Dexter se sobrecalientan.” She has a big speech prepared to explain why her crowd *has* to come over, “Estamos ardiendo. Son 93 ° F. Tenemos que tener aire acondicionado para Dexter y Pappa. No quiero poner a Pappa en el hospital. Él no puede hacerlo en este calor. Dexter también está sobrecalentado. No querrá dejar morir a Dexter, ¿lo haría?” Somehow my lazy Saturday has become an IRL telenovela.

Gotta love bipolar people. Everything is full-throttle. The move is to do a little tough love and let them steep in mosquitoes and Mount Pleasant heat. I invited them over. Punchline? Not even. It gets better.Forecast is Cloudy with a chance of cable tvMy Saturday now features a hotel room with Jolana, her husband and daughter and Pappa and the little dog Dexter. No worries, right? If the hotel doesn’t find out then no problem. They found out.

10:00am. Time for maid service. She knocked, spotted Dexter, and walked away. Then the phone in the room rang. It was the desk clerk, “please come to the front desk.” Busted. First of all, I was in a non-smoking room and there is a fine for having a pet in a non-smoking room. Second, it was Saturday and the clerk wanted to charge us for two days of pet presence.

Jolana’s move was obvious. She became coquettish and asked Pappa to pay the fine for Dexter with his card. He did. She promised to pay him back. She’s been promising to pay him back since I left in 1978. If Pappa could collect he’d be a rich man. He is not a rich man.

Punished Good Deed

Pappa and I talk to the desk clerk. It’s $150.00 for the dog. $100.00 fine for having the dog in a non-smoking room and $25.00/day extra for each day the dog is there, “Señor ten piedad. ¿Por qué mi hija es tan difícil? Jesús, ¿qué he hecho para merecerla?” Pappa pays and I hope we are done. We are not.

Jolana stopped at McDonald’s on the way down and got a 20 piece chicken nuggets meal. That was her food budget for a week on the road. Four people, three meals a day, five days, 20 chicken nuggets, a large order of french fries and a big diet Coke. The math doesn’t work for me either. Add me and it’s five people . . .

My plan was to find an open grocery store and buy a bunch of those salad kits. The ones that come in their own mixing bowl and even have a napkin and a fork. And a can of Bustelo coffee, a quart of orange juice, a box of Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, some lunch meat, sliced cheese, a loaf of bread, and whatever cheap beer the store had. Done and done, about $40.00 to eat for three days. Until Jolana and her crew.

Add One Hungry Maw

My brother-in-law went with me to the store. He only drinks Modelo. Woo. My niece ate all 20 chicken nuggets on the drive down. Jolana asked , “¿Cómo se supone que debemos comer si no tenemos comida?” My brother-in-law made me like him even more, “Nadie te garantizo comida Si te lo comiste todo, tendrás que rezar y ayunar hasta que lleguemos a casa.” We were in the store parking lot. He showed me the stash of beef jerky and corn tortillas in his bookbag. Smart man.

Final total at the checkout stand was almost a benjamin. Pushing triple what I budgeted for food. Between Dexter and a failure to plan I’m down over $200.00 on my budget for this event. I’ve gotten uncomfortable.

We got back to the room, unloaded and I left again to go drive around Charleston and take pictures (and calm down). When I got back Jolana and her family had eaten their fill. I had one breakfast sandwich left. The beer was gone.

One more thing. It was 7 miles or so between my hotel and the KOA. I got to Mount Pleasant with enough gas to make a good start on the drive home. I forgot to mention that Jolana’s HiLux was a sputtering embarrassment to the reputation for dependability of that truck. She didn’t want to drive it until it was time to hook the trailer to it and make the crawl north to home. Add 10 legs driving between hotel, KOA and grocery store and my gas didn’t look like it did when I got in on Saturday.


I am fond of saying that I live balanced at a precipice. A lot of my life looks like it will tip into disaster and then ends up working out ok. I’ve had my flights over the cliff to land in a patch of thistle. This leg is 15 years long climbing from the street to a few of the trappings of socially approved living. Along the way many have feared that I’ve hit a peak and am headed back to the street. It hasn’t happened yet.

So, trips like this one are done my way. I have what I need to make it happen. If nothing goes wrong. Add Jolana and my resourcefulness is tested to its limits. I’m the big brother so I’m the junior cash bull and shield from her foolish choices. This does not make me feel very fraternal.

1500 words, the bottom of most of my posts. Quickly, the eclipse was covered by clouds and not the event I had hoped. The cap on all this is Tuesday when I planned on driving back I was out of gas. Jolana hustled the campground to get up some gas money. I think she had to work under the table for a day cleaning latrines. I plead my case to Pappa who made Jolana reach into her bra for my gas money. Jolana had been telling everyone she had nothing left.

Home Safe

Tuesday Google Maps kept me on local roads until the Virginia border. I came home to a full-fridge and enough gas to get me to payday. One of the things I struggle with is the way Jolana seems to be ignorant of boundaries. She authors her truth with a willful defiance of objective fact or the truth of others. In that truth Pappa and I have what she needs. Because she needs it she feels she has a right to it. So, we don’t have a say in whether to provide. From our ability to her need.

I’m ok. It’s the weekend following Thanksgiving as I finish writing this piece. God provided. The hole Jolana dug in my life got filled by Christ’ providence. I’m used to scrambling when things are looking tough. But . . . by way of a conclusion, the above is an answer to why I live in Richmond.

Jolana is my opportunity to minister to my family. She tests my resolve to remain a faithful disciple of Christ. She stretches me in ways I complain about. Still, the “y luego las cosas terminan en armonía con Jesús” remains true.


Out of the Mouth of Boys

All Needs Are Rights

If you are underage and your survival depends on adults, many things feel like God given rights. To be fair, much is a right because two people had sex and here you are. Beyond the age of ?12? or so, beyond puberty when it is possible for you to procreate and fend for yourself, the case that all needs are rights gets weaker. If you are a thirty-something sofa-rodent subsisting on pork rinds and Mountain Dew surrounded by a nest of old tech . . . the case that all needs are rights is very weak. The phrase, “out of the mouths of babes . . .” needs to be “out of the mouth of boys.”

The boy has a name. Inger won’t name him because he is a family friend and her parents like him. They hoped that he would gain some cred house-sitting for her. It is a futile hope. He kept the camera-ready artifice upstairs and junked the 19th century basement kitchen and servant’s quarters. In its place is a shrine to virtual existence. There are 9 32″ 4K monitors on a huge Ergotron stand. The desk where the keyboard and mouse would go is covered in pork rind wrappers.On the chair are a VR headset and hand-controllers. Behind the monitors is a Medusa’s wig of cable traceable to a table-height server box emanating the drone of cooling fans. This is boy’s mecca and home.

Boy’s name is unremarkable: Charles. Some call him Chuck E Cheese just to get under his skin. He is pink the way German/Scots/Irish are. His hair is blond. He is lanky the way some boys are when height came first. UofR graduate in finance, MBA from Virginia Tech and an up and coming career with Wells Fargo Advisors. Devoutly Baptist. A perfect 10 for Inger’s parents.

The Perfect Zero

Which . . . makes him a perfect 0 for Inger. She’d done well enough in drug court that she was out on supervised release. She had weekly appointments at Probation and Parole on Oliver Hill Way. The first thing she did is put boy out. The temple of tech had to come out of the basement. Everything Inger needed to do with tech she did on her phone and her laptop. That shrine to sofa-rodent life he built was an offense on so many levels, all five figures of them.

Charles (Boy) was fine enough as roommate and protector of the house. If he lived upstairs and if he would stop acting like a gen-y techno rodent with a penchant for old Apple computers. He liked her so he moved one of his Powerbooks to a bedroom upstairs. That lasted an hour. Inger heard his speakers thumping in the basement as he shot his way through PlanetSide.

Inger hates a lot of things. High on the list is any roommate that leaves evidence of using the bathroom or the kitchen. She understood that people need to eat and shower. That’s fine. She doesn’t understand sauce spills stretching from stove to floor, old pizza rinds arrayed around the trashcan, or hot-glued beer can towers. These are evils to be battled and destroyed.

Boy’s particular junk food tastes were a bit more white trailer trash. Tall Pabst beer cans piled near the trashcan with the detritus of many Dominoes deliveries. And the Utz pork rind bags and the Mountain Dew and Cheerwine bottles. Gross.

Maslow Level 1

The bathroom. He had a bathroom in the basement that used to be part of the servant’s quarters. It was rather art-deco/shaker in its look & feel. You could imagine Frank Lloyd Wright as the designer. The designer was actually an undergrad Inger knew that needed something for her portfolio. It was ok. If you could get past the green stains from the copper that had leached out of the pipes. Or the manicured path from tech-rodent temple to toilet edged by Little Debbie Snack wrappers.

If he could just use that bathroom she might be ok. The house has 14′ ceilings. It’s 20′ of stairs to the second floor. Twice a day the tech rodent/boy named Charles climbed the stairs to her bathroom. He left the toilet seat up. She could see that he missed the toilet more than he hit it. His dick must look like a pig’s tail.

She had Febreeze prominently displayed on top of the toilet. Civilized people understood why. Her nose screamed that he had no idea.

Maslow Level 1-B

The kitchen. Should look like the picture of it in Richmond Magazine. Inger ate out a lot because of boy’s failure to respect the kitchen. Underneath the pizza boxes, chinese take-out boxes, Little Debbie wrappers, pork rind wrappers, Pabst empties, was an award winning kitchen design. A first semester culinary school student would kill for a kitchen like this, if it was taken care of. And . . . the cleaning service was very patient with boy. They’d put it right only to have the food debris grow back like black mold.

Inger came home after bar-close on Sunday morning. The basement windows glowed blue. She could hear the thump of PlanetSide from the porch. A pig had spilled his kamakazi on her dress and then stared at her as she tried to wipe the bourbon and beer off her silk dress. Asshole. That was his move, it seems. In quick succession she pinched a nerve in his wrist and hit him in the throat. It felt good.

She walked away as he crumpled to the floor crying that he had been stabbed in the throat by a dude trying to kill him. No . . . you are a little bitch who can’t imagine getting whooped by a girl you wanted to get with. So you try to save face and say a guy stabbed you. Sucks to be you. Your blood is from the Bloody Mary Inger threw in your face. And maybe a few superficial cuts from the broken pint glass.

Out of the Mouth of Boys

Boy wasn’t in his tech-rodent cave. He was in the living room with a PS4. The food debris had spawned all over her designer rug. Inger went to the breaker box and turned off the circuit for the living room, “what the fuck?” She killed the basement circuits for good measure, “what the hell did you do that for?”

The house was nicely quiet, “You are in my living room.”

“You have the bigger TV.”

“It is my TV. Your shit is downstairs. What are you doing up here?”

“I have a right to be here just as much as you. Your parent’s said so. Fuck, I was almost through the map.”

“Boy . . . listen. Your right to be here is because I tolerate your stinking ass. If I didn’t need you I’d kick the self-righteous white trash racist out of you from here to McDowell County. You need to understand your place,” words like that are usually shot at people with a deeper skin tone than pink boy.

“Inger, fuck you. You are the one in drug court and on probation. You are one phone call away from going back to jail. Besides, I need to be here and all needs are rights!”

Some Needs Are Not Right

Inger lost it. When the cops came the boy was shocked to find he was the one in cuffs. Inger is average mayhaps a bit thin. Tech rodent boy is a bit bigger than average but he’s awkwardly tall. Whatever. The cops believed her when she cried that he’d beat her. She had bruises. He had some wild story about pressure points and pain and joint locks and he didn’t know his body bent like that. But no marks. The one with marks wins. Inger knew this.

All needs are rights“, my ass. Boy’s tenancy concluded when he sent her a long e-mail from a gmail account claiming that sex is a need for men and thus, should be a right. In the middle of the message was some babble about how hot she was. Inger fought back the urge to get him fixed. He was gone. The cleaning service came out and put the house right. Her friend came back and helped clean out the basement.

All was well for a couple months. Until recently when the TV would come on just after bar-close and PlanetSide video playback thumped through the AV system. An attractive red-head’s stomach blew open in a video loop after being shot by a lanky, pink skinned soldier. Inger hadn’t thought much about a security system until this.


Liberty Can

That’s Not a Real Jeep

I bought a 2007 Jeep Liberty. The marketing material for it boasts of it as the most capable SUV of that year. The truth of that comes later.

There is only one Jeep for the enthusiast. You know the one. If you don’t, the picture below should be enough.

Liberty Can, 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited VLP Hero Rubicon
2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited VLP Hero Rubicon

I don’t own that Jeep. I own this Jeep:

For the custom Jeep fanboys, my Jeep is not a real Jeep because it’s not a JK. Fair enough. My Jeep has car seat mounts, air conditioning, heated seats, a cargo cover, power windows & door locks, power brakes, power steering, satellite radio . . . the kinds of things that make a girl want my Jeep. The fanboys declared my Liberty to be a chick car. A real man owns a JK.

The Spose To I Didn’t Do

A guy like me is supposed to graduate from honors from high school. Then it’s college, meet a girl whom I marry, graduate with a nice white collar degree, punch in at a white collar union job, some kids, a string of Sundays keeping a pew warm and stay in my lane until death kindly stops for me. A guy like me would own a JK. I didn’t check off all the expected items on the orthodox bucket list. I bought the wifey’s Jeep.

The US Navy sent me home after two weeks of bootcamp. For most of my twenty-something I kept quitting college until I got tired of watching life pass me by through the windshield of a taxicab. Even then my first semester as a math major was a spectacular fail. Switching to English Literature just meant I could graduate with something. It didn’t mean a real job.

Marriage and family. Was a mess. I’m surprised my son came through as well as he did. The Empress became a legend on this blog with claims of kinship to the Triad Mafia. I’ve bumped along a near-do-well for forty years. Though I am from privilege and my adjectives put me firmly in the evil bin, I didn’t do the spose to’s many expect of me.

Outlier Can

So . . . driving a chick car among guys who wonder if I am masculine enough is kind of awesome. I am also two years shy of my sixth decade of life. For most of human history 35 was ancient. I’m positively immortal. My days of angst over where I am in the dog pile are long past.

Once one is shunned you discover a freedom you didn’t have when trying to stay a member of the in-crowd meant angst, time & energy conforming to the expectations of others. It doesn’t matter if your shoes are from last season, your flannel shirt came out of the clearance pile at Goodwill, and your scent comes from body wash found in Dollar Tree’s trial size bin. You have time to do better things than fret because your card won’t get you that Nordies designer jean all your friends have.

My Liberty is shunned. It and I are free. We were measured against a gang of JK’s and held our own.

Liberty Can and Did

My Liberty and I were on an off-road trail with 5 other Jeeps of varying degrees of customization. Everyone completed the drive. My little chick SUV punched above its weight and won. Lesson? Do you. Do your best. If others trash what you are doing? Fuck ’em. This little Jeep of mine had a great day Saturday and shined. It is a very capable SUV.