Best Day and Worst Day

In City Slickers, Bruno Kirby tells Billy Crystal that the best day of his life and the worst day of his life is the same day. I had one of those days yesterday – not the best and worst, but both good and bad.

In the morning, I recorded backup vocals to a song that we discussed in songwriting class by a former student who is recording and performing in L.A. I was excited by the results, although I need to do some editing/rerecording of a couple of spots. I hope to have some friends preview it as my first public singing debut in decades. :)

By afternoon, though, I was faced, once again, with the fact that my father has his family and my mother has hers and I don’t belong in either. I was hurt and annoyed that this situation can still hurt me – shouldn’t I be “over” it? I am, for the most part, but sometimes, old hurts can surprise you when triggered by something.

So, of course, I reached out to FB, which was my second mistake (the first was poking around where I shouldn’t have and why I was faced with the old pain). And then I felt the fool so I deleted my comments and logged out, vowing to never log in there again. Of course, I will, if only to announce my conquests – that’s really how people like to see me. They’re not there for me when I’m down – only when I’m up.

Maybe that’s just as well. As much as I sometimes long for a listening ear from a friend, I’m not sure I’m all that comfortable with it either. So I turn to my blog in the middle of the night as a place to make sense of my sometimes contradictory feelings.

And just as my half-sister wrote on FB that her dad (our dad) is “bigger than life,” well, maybe I’m secretly bigger than life for her, too. Because now that our dad has been reading all of my books and raving about them, I’ve discovered she’s now calling herself a “self-proclaimed writer.” (Not the first time she’s been jealous of attention he gives to me). Well, you know what they say about imitation being flattery and all that…

There’s my motivation to keep writing. :)

Revisiting Silicon Valley Programmer with a Biker Girl Attitude

The world has become boring for this retro girl because our culture is so in love with many things I was exposed to decades ago! Of course, I love many things retro and I’m here to remind us of those things – but it isn’t retro when it’s treated as if it’s new. But I guess that’s what happens when you get older – especially when you grew up in California.

The Bay Area is especially progressive – and then it moves across the country. I’ve really had enough of these being in the spotlight – can we just get on with the next new thing?

  • Revolving door of redux – the list is ever-changing – from Atkins to the HCG injection (pregnant woman’s uterus shot) – too numerous to mention each one.
  • The Gay community (see San Francisco Dive Bars) – my boss and his partner considered themselves married – this had nothing to do with how I lived my life (don’t assume you know where I stand on this issue – it’s too complex to go into here).
  • Tattoos (yep, worked with a guy in the 80s who had full body tattoos).
  • The “F” word – the surprise factor has long faded and now you just sound like a moron (watched Romancing the Stone again the other night and it was so refreshing to hear the phrase “screw it” instead).

It totally seems appropriate, then, to repost the following blog post about the Silicon Valley Programmer Biker Girl who tried so hard to get me to say the “F” word publicly. Now everybody says it – how boring! (It’s become so common, I see nice Christian girls on FB posting stuff from “I f***ing love science.”

Silicon Valley Programmer with a Biker Girl Attitude

(First posted last year when we were catching up with the Bay Area living in Hotel California.)

beltramosThis weekend, we drove down Memory Lane on El Camino and couldn’t help but notice how much things had changed. It bore little resemblance to the El Camino we once knew. Gone were the eclectic shops, restaurants, and book stores. Printer’s Ink in Palo Alto, the first book store that we had ever seen with a coffee bar, was still there but it was simply Printer’s Cafe, their web site giving no hint it had ever been anything else.

So when we saw Beltramo’s Wine Shop, well, we had to stop and see what it was like now – what it would be like to be inside that store again.

We walked into Beltramo’s and we were transported back to 1996. As soon as we opened the door, we were whisked back in time. We were seventeen years younger, excitedly preparing for our wedding, purchasing the champagne for our reception. I don’t remember what we chose but I do remember it was on the recommendation of a co-worker named Barbara.

emmylouBarbara was tall, long-legged, and slender with long, wild, wiry grey hair, and a smoker who welcomed you into her outdoor patio smoking circle if you had any wit about you at all. A typical Silicon Valley programmer with a biker girl attitude (think Emmy Lou Harris/Outlaw country), she gave you the impression that if you were in her company, you were cooler than most. Like so many smart women in Silicon Valley at that time, she had a biker boyfriend. No suffering fools gladly with little patience for those she deemed too stupid to live, she could surprise you with the compliment of her presence.

Holding her cigarette to her lips, inhaling deeply, and then exhaling into the air, she instructed, “Just say it, Kathy, say the “F” word.”

Blank stare…

“Come on, repeat after me. F***.”

Nervous giggle.

“You can do it – come on, F***.”

“Ha, ha, ha, Barbara.”

“Park those morals at the door, girl! Repeat after me – F---*. Come on, Kathy, you can do it!”

“Yes, Barbara, I can – but I choose not to.” :)

There are 3 kinds of SMEs (subject matter experts) I’ve known during my technical writing career:

  1. Those who are arrogant because they’re bright and think they’re brilliant (they may be but the arrogance is such a turn-off – that’s not so brilliant)
  2. Those who are bright but respect you if you show any intelligence at all or willingness to ask smart questions
  3. Those who are smart and good at their job but you don’t even think about that because they’re just all-around nice, down-to-earth people

Barbara was #2. She kept you on your toes and if you were prepared and showed any sign of intelligence, she was in your corner. Believe me, that was a good thing. It made your job so much better. And it provided an experience and memories you will never forget.

When I told Barbara that Rich and I were engaged, what did she do? She took a puff, exhaled, and said, “He’s a nice guy without being boring.”

Ah, high praise, yes, high praise, indeed, coming from Barbara.

Motherhood is Not a Club

There’s something not quite right with Motherhood today and I can’t quite put my finger on it. But that won’t stop me from trying. We’re forgetting our history as women, and I’m here to remind us. :)

There’s something about the backlash of our mothers and grandmothers, feeling overburdened by motherhood, and the subsequent Liberated Women movement, birth control, and zero population growth that has led to a skewed form of motherhood today. Now we’ve got supermoms. Motherhood today has become super sacred, as if it’s a religion.

Social media has brought the neighborhood coffee klatch into full view. Motherhood has become a club and mothers everywhere have joined up, to the detriment of women as a whole. It’s us vs. them instead of women united as a sisterhood, no matter your mother status.

It all came into focus for me yesterday when I stumbled upon the Anonymous Was a Woman web site. The post was “Will the Childfree Regret Their Choice Later?” and the tongue-in-cheek video was “No Children, No Guilt” by author Sylvia D. Lucas – it totally cracked me up. And I recalled some very familiar ideas during my own coming of age.

As a Catholic Convert, my experience of Mary may be different than that of a Cradle Catholic. My experience has been woman-to-woman – not as a mother. In fact, that’s how I see Mary – a woman who said yes to God’s plan for her – the same as I may say yes to being married without children, teaming with the Great Artist in my writing and music pursuits. Viewing me as anything less than a woman answering my call is disrespecting me.

It’s not us vs. them. We’re all in this together. It’s about time we lived a full life as secure women and not segregated into groups or clubs. Motherhood is a part of life – not a club.