Sunset Blvd


sunset from Rocky Butte in Portland

Last night, I found myself in possession of a few unscheduled hours between my work shift and a play date at the club. I went to Starbucks, first, for an iced coffee and a protein box, and I’d intended on staying there the full three hours, but there was this guy. Super creepy, mumbling in Russian, standing at the condiment counter. He stared at me, started to approach, hung back, and eventually flicked sugar packets at me, all while murmuring in Russian. Lets just say, my hackles were definitely up. When I’d made up my mind to do something, he left. I took a deep breath and could relax enough to eat my snack and start actually reading my book, instead of just hiding behind it.

Then a large group of political signature-capturers came in. I remembered these folks from a date at the same Starbucks many months ago. I knew they’d get loud.

So I decided to make to drive up to Rocky Butte and watch the sunset.

Rocky Butte is a lookout point high above Portland, mostly known for being a makeout spot. But the views of Portland, Vancouver, and the Cascade mountains are breathtaking, and I’d never seen the sun set from there.

It was worth the time.

Choosing to skip the regular lookout spot, I parked my SUV near a boulder and sat on the tailgate. I watched the city lights come on and the river take on a luminescent glow. It was hazy and simple and so lovely. I tried to clear my mind, to let go of the creep Starbucks dude and the anticipation of my date. To stop the ache for N and the worry over my kids and my mom. To ignore the muscle soreness from my workout, and just focus on being.

And memories flitted past.

My relationship with N isn’t the first long-distance relationship I’ve been in. Jason and I were long distance at the very start and I remember crying on his shoulder the first time he left for his military training in Arizona. It was sunset, then, and we promised each other we would be that old couple who still help hands and watched the sun rise and set together whenever we could. In the months that followed, I would get letters from him about the desert sunsets, once, even a gorgeous postcard of cactus and mountains silhouetted purple against a fire-red sky. Later, when we had cell phones, I would get pictures from his day and his travels “Still watching sunsets. I love you.” and I would send him the same.

We’ve watched the sun set from just south of the Canadian border to just North of Mexico. We’ve watched the Pacific Ocean turn dusky blue as the sun rose behind us, and rosy pink as the sun set in front of us. In Carlsbad, California the cliffs turn a blinding gold color in the dying light. At the top of Larch Mountain, in the Columba River Gorge, you are surrounded by the Cascade Range and the mountains turn pink as a periwinkle mist rises from the valleys. In Tucson, Arizona we watched the desert sky turn a bleached blue color as the sun just faded out. We were teenagers, then, and just engaged to one another. With our children, we’ve watched sunsets turn the Pacific silver and gold after days spent playing in the sand at Lincoln City or Seaside or Fort Stevens. We watched one magical sunset from a rooftop pool in Anaheim, and as soon as dark had settled, we watched the fireworks over Disneyland.

I’ve watched countless sunrises over Mount Hood, including the one on the morning my father breathed his last breath. I remember the golden light of a warm September morning filtering through the maple tree as I said goodbye. I’ve watched the oil fields of Oklahoma turn russet, the oil drills looking like strange sci-fi bugs in stark contrast to the bright sky. I roller-bladed through a cotton-candy sunset on the boardwalk in Long Beach, California, thinking of Jason and knowing he was watching the same sun set just a few miles south of me, at the Marine Corps base where he was stationed at the time. In Japan, I faced the ocean and experienced the novelty of the sun setting opposite the beach, something I’ve never experience before. I watched the sun set from the Tokyo airport, knowing it was headed around the world to my home in Portland, and that I would meet it again, shortly after sunrise there.

So many memories, so many pins on the map. Ever increasing reminders of the smallness of our world… That we all have the sun and moon and stars in common. hat no matter how far apart we are, we can watch the same sun set and rise, day after day, and still feel connected.



Mental Health Day

A couple days ago, I posted an incredibly raw bit of word vomit.

Let’s just say my weekend hasn’t gotten much better.

The situation at work hasn’t gotten better, and I still can’t talk about it. I wish I could; instead I’ll talk about how I’ve dealt with it.

When I wrote on Friday, I was already in bed. I purged my thoughts here, and curled up and went to sleep. I was exhausted from not sleeping well the night before, anxiety about the work situation keeping me up. I’d had to go through a year’s worth of someone else’s infractions, including some pretty nasty mental abuse thrown my way as well as at my associates. I had to relive the time last year I was called names for being queer. All of this in hope that the situation would be resolved on Friday.

It wasn’t.

The person in question is still there. Being given one more chance, after a year’s worth of one more chances.

And I just fucking broke.

Master had told me to wear my collar on Friday. First thing on, last thing off, photo proof. A normal protocol for us and a good way to keep the Ds side of things fresh during a 5000-mile separation. I put it on Friday morning, took my selfie to send to him, wore it happily through my shift, wore it to bed Friday afternoon and kept it on while I wrote.

And then my anxiety blossomed and I couldn’t keep it on and I couldn’t breath and my skin was crawling and I took it off and put it on my stuffed bunny from Tokyo Disney and I laid in bed and sobbed. And I spiraled.

I made it out of bed because kids needed to be fed and then I got back into bed and played Bubble Witch and finally texted Master to tell him I’d failed. He was bicycling in rural Japan at the time, so it took forever to finally get the words I needed to hear from him.

And your personal health and safety is tantamount in Ds. That’s why we have a safeword. That’s why I check in. That’s why I try to be ahead of things.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I disappointed in you? No, not at all.

I am disappointed that we didn’t have a good day together, but life will always come first. It has a way of doing that whether we like it or not

And that doesn’t make it your failure, or anything like that

Then I found out that the abusive coworker was being given another one last chance, and I took an Ativan and Jas held me while I cried. I decided to take the weekend off.

Words have been exchanged between myself and a supervisor, and I’ll have to deal with that on Monday. But I’m so glad I spoke up. I stayed in bed late on Saturday and then went to the gym. I knew I needed to burn off the extra adrenaline, so I blasted through an hour of weight training. I pushed myself to exhaustion, came home to shower, and then took Daph to the library and grocery shopping with me.

Then I came home and went back to bed. I read a while, and mostly slept the afternoon and evening away. Jason and his fiancée made sure I ate, and we had a movie night with the kids.

Then I went back to sleep and slept almost 10 hours.

Anxiety is exhausting.

Today I’m polishing my resume and looking for new work. I’m not quitting my store yet, but I need to know I have the option. I want to be there for my team if I can. But I won’t force myself to stay in an unhealthy place if I cannot.

Found out my old store in Beaverton is hiring… I’m tempted to apply except then I might actually get the job.


this is the face of mental illness. looks pretty normal, doesn’t it?


The week-ish in review

It’s been a bit of a week.

I’ve been feeling very down. Much of it s work stuff that I can’t talk about here and friend stuff that I also can’t share. I had an online friend threatening suicide for several days and now… nothing. I’ve not seen a post from them in a couple days and I’m terribly worried but I have no way of contacting them so I don’t fucking know anything. I’ve had another friend check herself into the psych ward and I have so much respect and love for her strength and spirit and, well, everything. It was all I could do to visit her a couple of times, but I’m glad I went. And I walked down the sunlit halls of the hospital with a sense of deja-vu, to a different hospital but the same time of year, last year.

It hit me when I heard the steel doors close behind me, after visiting hours were over and I was politely but firmly ushered out.

This week, last year, was when my mom tried to die.

Just. ugh.

It was when I had to tell her to put clothes on and I was taking her to the hospital. She was still in her house coat and nearly out of her head with pain from a horrific allergic reaction to a lotion she’d put on her legs. I told her she had exactly as long as it took me to put my groceries away before she was headed to my parking spot, or I was calling 911 and she was riding in an ambulance.

She chose my truck.

I made the second of many, many drives to Providence Milwaukie just past noon on that bright spring day. We’d been to the ER once the week before for the same condition, but she didn’t do the instructed aftercare correctly and the burns on her legs had gotten worse. They were hot to the touch, excruciatingly painful, and were starting to smell.

I got this down to an art form, at this point.

Hwy 212 to Hwy 224, go past Bob’s Red Mill and then turn right on (I think) Harrison. It’s the intersections with Mike’s Drive In. Follow the signs to the Emergency Department. Pull in to the turnabout in front, turn off your engine so the escaping carbon monoxide doesn’t harm the other people visiting the facility. Find a wheelchair and a nurse. Get Mom inside the building, started on check-in, and leave to park the truck in the spaces designated for emergency patients and their visitors only. Cry a little in the parking lot, text your husband, his girlfriend, and your other partner that you’re at the hospital again. Take a deep breath and a gulp of water while you wish it was gin, square your shoulders, and walk inside.

Inside, your mom looks old and broken in her wheelchair. Something is funny with her blood pressure. It’s where a normal person’s should be, which is very high for her. You have the first argument of the afternoon when the admitting nurse shrugs it off and you insist that something is wrong. They have to look at her legs, which are feverish and leaking fluid all over the chucks pad they put on the wheelchair’s footrest. She screams and moans whenever she is touched. She is babbling incoherently and you have to translate for her; she’s your mother and her language is the first you ever learned and you can still speak it even when she makes no sense to others.

They refuse to give her pain medication.

They refuse to give her food or water.

Both of these are just in case she needs surgery.

Every time the medical staff leave the room, she begs you for crackers or some sprite. She’s dizzy, having been in too much pain to eat that day.

You have to say no.

You have to be the bully.

You have to be the parent.

She cries out of the same brown eyes you face every morning in the mirror. DeBord eyes, she calls them, from the French side of the family, and you are the only child of 5 to have gotten them.

Doctors come and go. Her heart rate is too high. They begin to pump her full of drugs to stabilize her. They can’t even worry about the infected wounds on her legs because her heart is trying to give up.

You ask to speak to the dr. You tell him she can’t go home; it’s not safe; she won’t care for herself there.

They agree to admit her. They give her food and water at some point. You drink a cup of hospital coffee and realize you’ve tasted better paint thinners, and it sits heavy and full of acid in your stomach.

Your husband’s girlfriend offers to bring home pizza for the kids. Your other partner offers to bring you dinner. When he asks where you are, you tell him it’s the only fucking hospital in Milwaukie and he needs to figure it out himself.

You get your mom checked in and the ward nurse is your best friend from grade school. Stress and fatigue is giving this whole day a nightmarish cast. Somewhere in there, you’ve told your boss that you have to take family leave. Again. Your boyfriend brings you a hamburger and a chocolate shake from Burger King that tastes like cardboard and sticks in your throat. Your husband texts you that the kids are fine. You sit in the cargo area of your SUV with your boyfriend until he has determined you can drive safely. Then you drive home.

That night, your mom almost dies. Her roommate notices her acting funny and gets a nurse. Her blood pressure and pulse have dropped to terrifying levels. They tell you all of this the next day.

You spend the next 4 days arguing with your mother and the hospital staff. You live on Starbucks and snickers bars and you crochet endless green and blue granny squares. You keep your dentist appointment and find out that if you tell them your mother is in the hospital and you need them to be quick, they listen. You begin a long journey of hospital visits and wound care appointments and the crazy balance of full-time mom, full-time manager, and now full-time caretaker for an aging parent.

That was a year ago, this week. I know it because I just had my April dentist appointment a couple of days ago. And I looked at it like, holy shit, it’s been a year.

And my mom? She lived, but she lost that whole week. We were talking about it over lunch the other day. She has very few memories of that time, or of the few weeks following. And we’re starting the process of getting her into a retirement community now, because I can’t be on constant watch anymore. That awful week aged her and me both. Her memory has holes now. Her body is breaking down. I think, if I’m lucky, we might have another 5 years together, especially if she can go someplace with some extra care and services.

She doesn’t remember most of that week.

I remember every painful detail.

I think I always will.



Body Struggles

The past couple of days, I’ve been struggling with my body. I just don’t feel good in it.

I’m doing all the right things. I’m eating well again, taking my supplements, and keeping my gym appointments with the fervor of a new convert.

But I’m incredibly frustrated.

Instead of seeing a body that just went through a huge surgery, I’m seeing a weak body. I see someone who has to ask for help lifting and carrying at work, and for extra sit-down breaks. I see someone who still takes an oxy every once in a while, to stop the screaming of unused muscles. I see someone who falls asleep after breakfast and dozes until it’s time to work, works 8 or 9 hours, and falls asleep instantly when she gets home to bed.

Then I get angry. I had a huge surgery only 2 1/2 months ago. One that rearranged my insides and removed an organ that was slowly killing me and robbing me of my physical stamina and strength. This body fought the good fight and kept us going until I could get the surgery I needed… and that was after fighting for my mother’s health and safety and lets not forget my own mental illnesses… why on earth am I frustrated when my body and I are doing our best?

So then I cycle.

Feel bad about myself
Beat myself up for feeling bad about myself
Feel bad about beating myself up
Beat myself up over beating myself up
Feel bad about myself….

And I loop.

But let’s face it. This body isn’t the body I had last year, when the pain and life circumstances knocked me down. I’m fatter than I’ve ever been, at 278 pounds. My cholesterol is creeping up, which is frightening since heart disease runs on my mom’s side of the family. My body fat percentage is 46%, which falls in the dangerously high category. I don’t move the way I want to, I don’t look the way I want to, and I don’t feel the way I want to.

Hormonal changes are making it worse, I’m sure. I not longer get periods, but my body still cycles because they left me my ovaries. Instead of cramps, I get hot flashes and night sweats that leave me shivering and drenched and gross. My face and back are breaking out again, and my eczema is back on the bottoms of my feet.

I’m a mess.

Do I know this will eventually even out? The rational side of my brain does.

The irrational toddler with ADD and an anger management problem insists that things get fixed now or they will never be better at all.

The rational side of my brain says I have a one year goal that is attainable and I’m doing all the things to get my body and brain back in shape.

The irrational toddler wants to shut the rational side up with Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream and a nap.

The rational side says that’s a bad idea and recommends a salad with salmon and avocado. Healthy fats and all that.

The toddler throws a gin and tonic in the rational side’s face and screams in the corner.

Ok, I may have taken the analogy a little far, but you get the picture.

As always, writing this out helps.

I also want to put out there, I’m not saying fat is bad. I am saying my fat is currently bad for me and my well-being. You go be whoever you want to be at whatever size makes you happy and healthy. Be your beautiful self. I’m not at my best self, and I’m venting my frustrations with that.

I’ll be over here, eating lettuce and looking longingly at the peanut butter cups…



unedited gym selfie. angry hedgehog hair, sweaty face, double chins, broken out skin, and all.



Nine to Five

I’ve always loved the song “9 to 5”. Even before I saw the movie and before I starting seeing the world through a liberal feminist lens (yes there are conservative women who also label themselves feminists. I don’t get it either). I’ve loved the movie, too. Dolly Parton is my favorite, there, but I identify more with Lily Tomlin. Jane Fonda’s character reminds me greatly of one of my associates….

Anyhow, lets bring this back around.

This week, I returned to work.


I think they missed me a little

I posted this pic on Twitter and someone asked if I work in a broom closet.

A broom closet would be luxurious compared to our combined janitor closet/storage room/loading dock/breakroom/manager’s office I think. But it’s home. I shan’t complain too much.

Unless a big earthquake hits. Because I know those plywood shelves are coming down, and bringing heavy mannequins and boxes of hangers with them…

Let’s not think about that.

Just for reference, I work in what is often called in polite company a somewhat rundown neighborhood. Frequently, people who visit from other stores hear our neighborhood is a little out there, but don’t get the full impact of it until they actually work a full shift and enjoy some of our local color…

Arriving at work early for my shift Monday, I stopped at Starbucks to do some writing and ease into my day.

There was a crazy guy lifting up garbage can lids and screaming at the contents of the bins.

“It’s good to be back,” I thought as I sipped my Americano.


One of my associates bought me this as a welcome back treat… I have such a great team.

I think someone put out the word that I was back. Nearly every one of my regular customers came in and gave me a big hug.

I’ve laughed and smiled so much, my face hurt by the end of my shift Saturday.

One of my associates said “Chief,” she calls me Chief. It’s adorable. “Chief, it was so good to walk into the store today and hear your laugh. I’ve missed you so!”

Another said, “When I called for my schedule, I was so happy to hear you answer the phone.”

The one who bought me the fruit cup said it was good to see my car back in its usual spot.

And my store manager is ecstatic to have me back. The rest of the team said she was practically in mourning the past 2 months.

It’s so good to be back to  myself again. I love my customers and my store and my associates and the challenges of a retail management job. I love feeling productive and creating a shop where all women of size feel beautiful and comfortable shopping.

And I’m not saying this week hasn’t been rough. My body hurts. A lot. And even though I give the speech several times a year about how “if you’ve been out of the business for any length of time, it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust. retail is a physically strenuous job and blah blah blah…” I still had to have someone tell me the same thing when I got frustrated that everything hurt by mid week and all I wanted to do was sleep. My schedule changed twice in five days and I worked one unplanned open-to-close shift. Someone yelled at me because our racks were too full and it hurt her arms to look through all the clothing.

In other words, I’m back.

And it’s so good.