Grumpy about the unfairness of it all (good bye Kim)

This past week, while I moaned and groaned and laughed about our construction project, and pondered gay marriage and vaccines, and grumbled about the craziness of being full-time with summer vacation kids, and otherwise filled my days with inanities, a really spectacular mom whose daughter goes to school with Jesse ended her battle against breast cancer. The medicine failed. She died today.

Kim and I crossed paths now and then, and I always enjoyed chatting with her. I liked her a good deal, but we weren’t exactly friends, just acquaintances. She was a veterinarian, and she volunteered at the local Audubon Center. She would come to the preschool classes there sometimes and work with the kids, including my own Jesse and Nick. She was brave and heroic about the cancer when we talked about it, committed to the fight and to staying alive for her kids. I was really inspired by her.

I thought Kim was going to make it. The initial treatments a few years ago were successful, with reports that her body was cancer-free. I didn’t know the cancer had returned.

We embrace this myth that we can find the causes for things, that we can fix things, that we have some control over the shit nature pulls on us. We think we can blame big pharm, vaccines, pesticides, big coal, the Koch brothers, plastics, over-fishing, global warming, technology, medical malpractice, gluten, red meat, on and on. And occasionally that’s true, there really is someone to blame. But more often it’s just random noise. Nature hits us with a bomb like cancer, and we go down. It’s unfair. 

I always have a feeling of guilt when I hear about someone like Kim passing. I know she didn’t deserve to die more than me. Why am I still here and not her? What did I do to earn this state of grace in which I live, at least for today? Nothing. The answer is, nothing.

In the face of someone else’s death, some people will say that it reminds them to appreciate their lives more, that it makes them enjoy their lives more. I don’t move in that direction. I can’t look at Kim’s suffering and her family’s loss and feel better about my own lot. It is all just a bitter pill, and I’m filled with a gut-twisting sadness for Kim and her family.

But when I go to bed tonight, I’ll definitely drop a few extra kisses on my kids and stare into their sleeping faces a little longer. And I guess I can be thankful for that. Namaste, Kim, and thanks for fighting the good fight. Good bye.

grumpy about the construction project (I’m still not over the ARB)

I can’t let go yet of what the asshats at the architectural review board were like.

Asshat 1 (I’ll call him A1) sat next to me in his denim shorts and was such a self-righteous jerk. His first sentence about this situation started like this: “I don’t want to be difficult, but…” ASSHOLE MOVE. we’re grown ups and shouldn’t be doing opposite-talk like juveniles. What if I had started by saying, “I don’t want to tell the ARB that you’re a bunch of fucking idiots, but…”


A1 claimed to be worried about what our next door neighbor would feel about wood siding on our back corner, instead of brick. I answered as dryly as I could, because I was close enough to head slap the guy and was tempted. “You mean the neighbors sitting on their dilapidated wood porch,” I showed him a photo, “attached to the house that’s covered randomly in wood and brick.” I showed him another photo. The house could win an ugly house contest.

“Not that neighbor,” he smarmed at me in the worst patronizing way. “The other neighbor.” I answered again. “You mean the neighbor on the other side of our property from the addition, who can’t even see the side of the house where you’re asking us to put bri—-”

A1 interrupted me. He was clearly full of shit and had no idea what he was talking about. “What if you use the sheet siding that they press and color to make it look like brick?”


I took an internal breath. This guy is claiming to be worried about what my neighbors think? He thinks they’d prefer cheap-ass fake imitation sheets to real wood? No wonder so many of the renovations in my town are butt-ugly with ugly siding materials! This joker is telling people to do it.

Architect Kristi slouched in her seat and I saw her hide her glare. She replied quietly and stiffly, “They can’t make that stuff look good.” I chimed in. “I don’t want to put cheap materials on the house. That’s the whole point. I want to match the materials that are already on it, brick and wood, not sheets or aluminum or vinyl. That’s why we can’t afford brick in the back corner.”

I’m not sure anyone heard me.

Asshat 2 (A2) sat in his short sleeve 80% poly button shirt micro-criticizing the project with a tired dopey look on his face. “I don’t like the way this window is so close to the change of materials,” he whined. No renovation is perfect, I shot back. He smarmed sagely, “I wondered why the windows were like this until I looked at the kitchen plan and saw what’s going on. The sink really should have been on this back wall and then you’d be able to look out at the yard from it through a big window blah blah blah.” He finished smugly along the lines of, “but who am I to tell you how to design your kitchen.”

Oh really, asshole? My womanly place is at the sink staring at the back yard with my fat ass pointed at the guests enjoying my fine fare at the island counter? I’ll tell you who you are to tell me how to design my kitchen. NOBODY.  NO. BO. DY. Go shove your bad ideas up your patronizing male ass. Jerk.

This is why I hired a woman designer who does things her own way and actually listens to her clients, instead of telling them exactly how things have to be because that’s how it’s done. My guess is, these guys on the ARB are insiders in our town’s construction trade, and they don’t know Kristi, so they’re giving us shit. Fuck them all. I’m not buying into the con. I’m going to be communicating with the city manager and mayor and my alderman. I don’t care that I got exactly what I wanted. They shouldn’t have been wankers about it, and they shouldn’t have pissed me off. I’m coming after them now.