Tuesday, December 31, 2019

a useful reminder

we lost Marguerite this year, and one of the things she bequeathed to us was this ring.
I'd rather have Marguerite, but instead we have five diamonds in an admittedly complicated setting.
it all seems metaphorical for life at the moment.
We intend to make something new of the ring. Keepsakes for dear ones and a re-casting of the gold.
a useful reminder

Saturday, December 21, 2019

blue moon

If there is a photo that represents this last and final month of 2019, this is it. The Blue Moon tavern on a rainy night, a beer and a shot at a distressed wooden table after a trying work day. I need to make real changes before I crash land into a deep ravine. Better the pain I have prepared for than an inadvertent and catastrophic collision. Friends, job, living situation, creativity. All of it. I am restless and hungry and need to remain so.

Saturday, December 14, 2019


Jingle All The Gay! from Kitten N' Lou on Vimeo.
The past few Decembers I have been lucky enough to usher for a drag holiday show called "Jingle all the Gay" (formerly "Homo for the Hoidays"). Last week was opening night and after an hour of frantic set-up--hauling risers and chairs across the Oddfellows' wooden floors, dragging trash down the freight elevator and dodging performers doing sound check--the doors opened and I stamped hands and gave out the bathroom code to a few hundred be-sparkled revelers. The first two smiling men in the door wore festive suit jackets and had glitter in their beards.
It's a colorful, happy event and one that always brings me to tears. For all the gaiety and sexiness and madcap song-and-dance numbers, there's an undercurrent of activism, a growing sense of alarm at the ugliness of the wider world. It's a time for togetherness and laughs and defiance. For what is comedy but the truth told with a smile?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

this most precious

We're only a few short weeks from the end of the decade.
Time is a construct and yet somehow it matters.
Doesn't it? Does it?
If I have assigned the construct meaning, then I suppose it does.
All this to say, I have reflected and felt some deep feelings about the ending of this decade.
I regained my freedom in so many ways, in this decade.
Became me again.
Became a new me.
I published stories and met new people and shed poisonous people.
I saw distant parts of the planet I never thought I'd see.
I was lonely and I made bad decisions and I scraped the bottom of my soul to create fiction and write about my childhood and say some true things.
I took a new job and a new 1/2 job and quit the new 1/2 job.
I learned things and forgot things.
I sang, "I love myself" in a Ballard brewery and smiled, knowing all the while it was untrue.
Meanwhile the world burns and sociopaths and billionaires are unashamed.
What does it all mean?
Meaning is also a construct, and the idea that my life has meaning or that existence has meaning -- well it's all a bit much for 12.43pm on a Saturday afternoon.
What means something today is friendship and a good night's rest and a completed crossword puzzle.
Dog boops and boo cuddles and laying on my couch with a good book.
What also means something is continuing to fight and giving money to the ACLU and standing on overpasses with signs.
I don't have a cute or meaningful ending and probably, neither does life.

Friday, November 15, 2019

flor de toloache

New to me mariachi band Flor de Toloache performed on KEXP just a few months ago. How I missed this I do not know but please enjoi.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

white sands

One of the places I went on my trip was White Sands National Monument. I'd never heard of it (or maybe I had, vaguely, without thinking much about it). A friend drove us and his dog out there for a day trip. 40 minutes or so from Las Cruces, through the Organ Mountains, past a border patrol stop (I'm still WTF about that whole situation) and into acres and acres of cream-colored gypsum sand. You can walk on it, the dog rolled delightedly in it, you can even picnic and overnight in it. It is beautiful and eerie and sometimes Highway 70, which leads to it, is closed for nearby US military missile testing. This mysterious beauty and occasional state-sanctioned violence is a perfect microcosm of our conflicted world.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


I spent about 10 days on holiday in the southwestern US. Getting away from work, home, the regular reg nature of things was exactly what I needed. I drove hundreds of miles through very unfamiliar landscapes, seeing new places and old friends. I wandered mountainous cities and read a Claire DeWitt detective novel and ate Hatch chilis a few different ways and wiggled my toes in cream-colored gypsum sand and came home on a train, exchanging the trials of airports and TSA for special brownies, spectacular West Coast views, naps, and the dining car.
What a treat.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

new missy

New music from Missy Elliott. You know she's my girl. I wasn't sure about Sum1 and visually I didn't care for her part of the video but damn can she sing. The video is fly and sly and fresh too. You could write a master's thesis on her visual imagery. You could = maybe I should.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

where u been

Gosh amighty, I been away for awhile, apparently.
Family in town last week.
Pedicures have been had.
Thrift shopping and early-Thanksgiving also done and had.
Folks are traveling but I'm not, yet anyway.
I've been reading up a storm and that is traveling in a way, isn't it?
The Kurt Cobain biography by Charles Cross.
Arresting. An obituary for a person, a soul, an ethos, a city.
Dervla Murphy's trek across Madagascar.
I marvel at her daughter's wry long-suffering.
And laughing along with and marveling at the lo-fi, clever artistry of this Literal MSPaint joint.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

teh hype

I managed to get my hands on the September British Vogue.
Interested in how Meghan Markle aka Duchess of Sussex performs as editor.
It's glossy, for sure. I haven't had time yet to settle in with it. (Although a cursory scan of the features includes a lot of the samo-samo whey-faces. Hmph.)
For context, I do buy most of the September fashion magazines. It's the biggest issue and for me, the best deal. I look at them year after year, sometimes cutting out intriguing designs.
I added Bust to the mix this year. Loving its strong feminist messaging.

Sunday, September 1, 2019


On the inside, I rage and seethe and plot multitudes of revenge.
Yet I am praised at work for "being professional."
Among friends I am known for "having it together."
To those closest to me, who knows?
Sometimes I rage and sometimes I simmer and sometimes, many times, I disassociate and feel nothing at all.
When I partially shaved my head last summer, my outside finally matched my inside.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

100% that fan

What a delightful week for music videos. (Or movies, if you're Lil Nas X.)
First, our one true queen of hip hop, Missy Elliott dropped a new album with this gem, Throw It Back. This is classic ME--the innovative costumes, deliberately provocative and referential yet post-modern makeup and grills, her relaxed, confident dance and rhyme--"Watch me."

The video went live August 22, and it's already at 4million views.
And then there's Old Town Road, continuing to dominate, inspire and embed itself in earholes, now in extended video/movie version, featuring LNX, Billy Ray, Chris Rock, a horse v. car drag race, and elderly bingo line dancing. I cackled aloud.

And there's the CupcaKKe remix, Old Town Hoe, as wonderfully nasty as it gets, because of course. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019


A shrink asked me this week if I have friends I can confide in. Happily, the answer is yes.
I feel so lucky for the beautiful souls in my life.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


Feeling like a glitch these past few days.
Weeks, really.
Trying to remember glitches can be beautiful, too.

Image courtesy SideFX

Saturday, July 27, 2019


I finally got around to seeing Spiderman: into the Spider Verse.
Holy cats, I need to re-watch this on a big screen. The plot was average but loved Miles and his family and super-loved the soundtrack. Visually it was stunning and the humor reminded me of Deadpool in all the best ways. Love any movie where I'm constantly saying, "What the--?"
Fresh frash frush.

Monday, July 15, 2019


I recently fired my shrink.
She's a nice person and I think means well, but I didn't feel like she was listening to me, towards the end.
I was paying her to listen. Why else sit on a faux velvet couch week after week, staring at the potted plants, wondering who else's ass crack has worn the same groove, and then forking over cash at the end of 55 minutes?
Sometimes she made me take a depression inventory, which--if you haven't ever taken one--is pretty depressing on its own. During our second to last visit, I was feeling pretty down--it's been a year of loss and travel and stress--and scored higher than I had in awhile. (Higher is not good.) She counted up the numbers, and then said, almost gaily, "Well your numbers are higher but you're here and you look fine, so let's move on!"
One of the questions on the inventory asks if I feel like I've failed more than the average person, and I nearly always put yes. I feel like I have failed a lot. I know I have failed a lot.
I'm writing, yes, and publishing again, but no one cares, not really.
My job is uber-stressful and frustrating. I dread each day. For weeks I had an eye twitch (until I took time off).
I see family and that's fine but it's not fine, there have been outbursts and yelling and mean things said, and it all just gets papered over and forgotten. My nieces have grown up and moved on and that feels lonely. Two of them won't even message me back, not without a double tap or some badgering, and wow does that feel not-good.
I want to make changes--major ones--and I'm trying, as hard as I can.
I hope I can survive the deluge.
Also, watching Pose puts my suffering into perspective and gives me hope.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


It's Pride weekend in the 206 and some friends and I went to the Trans Pride parade Friday night.
This was the biggest Trans Pride parade in Seattle history.
There were rumors that right wing groups would continue their harassment and hate. As my friend said, Hate is bullshit.
As she and I waited at light rail for the others to catch up, we witnessed a stream of marchers exiting Cal Anderson, on their way to line up for the march. It was a giddy assortment of folks, some with signs, some in costume or festive garb, others simply showing up in street clothes, as themselves.
Across the street at the construction site, the workers in their reflective vests and helmets had apparently just gotten off work and stood behind the chain link fence, watching in quiet fascination (I hope).
Worlds peacefully collided for a moment.
Later, as I stood on the curb cheering and chanting as the marchers went by, I saw many expressions reflected on the passing faces: pride, happiness, surprise, defiance, and maybe caution.
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and march.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

i want a president

This. Wow. If this piece by Zoe Leonard hurts your soul or puzzles you or provokes in you some contentious feelings, then thank a teacher somewhere that you can read, and remember the role of writers in this world, to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

tiredly happy happily tired

Just returning from a couple of days' staycation.
A restorative 48 hours.
Friends and beach time and bar-hopping in a couple of old-school neighborhoods.
Now, back at it.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

the consequences of truth

It's been weeks of emotional heavy lifting since losing Marguerite, realizing what she had left all of us, and then, two weeks ago, finding among her things a stack of handwritten note cards written by her mother, my great-grandmother. The cards seem to be preparation for writing a memoir--Nan noted she'd need 100,000 words--and are written in a fine, sometimes quite tiny, cursive, as though not quite giving herself permission to express what she was putting down on paper.
Because. There is death and despair, a murder, a suicide, and many tales of abuse and alcoholism. And also wonderfully frank observations of neighbors and lovely observations of nature--a pond, wildflowers, wagon rides.
It changes you, thinking about your relatives in this way. Staring at the black and white photographs from a hundred plus years ago, realizing that they are actual people and not quite the sainted relics we've imagined them to be. They loved and fought and hated and struggled and triumphed. My grandmother and great-grandmother are two of the strongest people I've ever known, and now, I'm realizing what all the hard times exerted and wrought on them, diamond-like.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

StC 51

Pleased to announce that I have a story out this month in Spank the Carp, a lively and interesting literary journal. This story--"The Accidental Contestant"--is one I wrote wondering What happens if?
Always a good jumping-off point for a writer.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

belltown what the hey

I had an old school 206 night recently in Belltown, of all places. I say "of all places" because this venerable Seattle neighborhood adjoining downtown had gotten hipsterized along with pretty much everything else. The recent openings of Jupiter and the Screwdriver have given me hope (along with the impending Shorty's/Rocco's move, i.e not a full-on closure. Side note: how is the former John John's now a 'gram-able plant shop? HOW.).
Anyway, the Belltown bar hop started at 5 Point, and chitchat with an unassuming guy. We laughed as a sixty-something couple got 86'ed for not having ID, and traded speeding ticket stories. He mentioned he's in a band, Gold Bar, and when they played Folklife a few years back, his mom didn't want to deal with downtown traffic to come and see their 11am set. With a couple of handshakes, he cashed out and headed out to see Tedeschi.
Later we wandered by the aforementioned new Shorty's location on Second Avenue, where a friend mentioned his art studio had previously existed, along with Galleria Potatohead. And Pearl Jam practiced nearby. As if on cue, a guy in dreads and paint-spattered clothes emerged, heard us talking, and invited us in to see his mural-in-progress (a glow in the dark shark!) and walk through the abandoned basement and art studio spot--mostly now film canisters, old posters, and a lot of dust. A few stops later we made it to the Belltown Yacht Club to see The Bitter.
Later still, a walk up Pine with stops for a slice and a veggie dog, feeling good about a low-key hangout of a night.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

festy life

I had the good fortune to peep Travis Thompson at the Fishermans Village Music Festival in Everett last weekend. I have not been in the partying mood, but this is the chillest, illest little festival in the PNW at the moment and some pals and I had been planning to get up there for awhile. It's just what we wanted. Old school 206'ers mingling with Day-Glo ravers and hip kids and old folks and it was sceney (girls in hats and booties) but not too sceney (the for-real beardy guys outweighed the statement-beardy guys). Chong the Nomad charmed us with her wacky set and meme-y dreamy visuals. Tilson XOXO was confident and exciting and didn't last way long enough. Anyway TT hit the main stage on a cool Friday evening and slayed, with a cameo by the luminous Parisalexa.This Ambaum kid is gonna make good, I can feel it.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Today, yes

I woke up to an e-mail saying yes.
It was a magazine editor I respect, happily accepting a story I had submitted.
Not on the first try.
Not on the first edit, or even the tenth.
So for a moment I forget the hard week.
Today, yes.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

I haven't, I thought, I didn't (I knew)

I haven't been able to write much, these past couple of weeks. My mind is faraway, in Kansas.
I thought I was ready for goodbye, and it turns out I was not.
I didn't know it would be this hard. (I knew: Dugie, Mom, Grampa. But I had forgotten.)
I haven't slept much since mid-March.
I thought she might make it to 100.
I didn't know at 97 she would fight so hard. To stay in the hospital and then to be let go. (I knew she was tough but not this tough.)
I haven't stopped feeling sad at a primal level for so long (Dugie, Mom, Grampa, now Her).
I thought you got over it--the loss--that you got closure, you moved on.
I didn't know that they stay with you always, in the beat of the heart and the glimpse of an old photo and the clasp of a hand. (I knew: Dugie, Mom, Grampa, now Her. But I had forgotten.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

over. it.

Today I write from a place of pain, and sadness.
This year has not been the friendliest.
Yes, duh, I know, but I don't mean in the cosmic sense, or Madness USA #wereallgonnadie sense.
(That's starting to feel like the norm--not normal--but, reality.)
For me personally, in my own private universe, things have just felt -- off.
Work is kind of a nightmare.
Last week I smashed up my knee, again. Every painful hobble is a reminder to slow down, to get some rest, to chill.
And this week, a person I love so dearly is not doing well, will probably not do well ever again, and I am feeling all the emotions.
I know I'll be okay and we'll be okay but this good-bye forever stuff is hard.
It takes me back 15 years and saying good-bye forever to my mother.
After the sleepless night and the hot tears and the chaotic decisions, and then -- the quiet. The cold despair.
Then, emerging from the hospital into the brilliant Arizona sun, and realizing in a flash that I would never walk the planet with my mother again.
I couldn't believe it, and yet I could never un-know it.
It was the most singularly painful moment of my life, so far, and still.
I did everything I could for her, and I don't regret it. The tears and sadness just remind me that she was a person, my person, and I will always miss her.
I wish I had a cheery adieu for this today, but I don't.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Saturday, March 2, 2019

welcome, Stranger

Today we congratulate The Stranger, Seattle's sort-of alt-weekly free newspaper, for putting down the vape and recognizing the Seattle hip-hop scene. To sum up the thoughts of myself and pretty much everyone with aural awareness in the 206, we been knowing this.
Still, nice to see a little hometown love for artists I have been keeping an ear on including Parisalexa and Kung Foo Grip.
New-ish to me was Travis Thompson, who just signed with Epic Records.

And the delightful Chong the Nomad!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

super duper supercut

One week ago, a motley assemblage of insanely talented rad comrades assembled at Hollow Earth Radio, to perform the 7th annual rad comrades super duper audio play.
Superhero Quantum Pax, her sidekicks and BFF's Loocy Paloochi and Jean Cluck Van Damme, join forces with Esperanto creator L.L. Zamendorf to calm Godzilla and fight 3 evil goons -- Creamsicle Crony, Barry Piroshky, and the Salad Prince--who are plotting to take over the world.
To listen to the entire play--you know you want to!--go to: tinyurl.com/superduperplay.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

super duper

Some pals and I (Team Ampersand) spent a good part of January working on a script for the 7th annual Super Duper Radio Play. There was a superhero, a Belgian rooster, the founder of Esperanto, Godzilla, and a trio of goons including Russian Barry Piroshky and orange-on-the-outside-white-on-the-inside Creamsicle Crony.
I'll post a video of "the making of" pretty soon but in the meantime here's a couple of pix from the day.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

surprise, mysteries!

I made a new video. This one's about a pair of novels I read recently, picked them up from the Seattle Public not quite realizing they were mysteries. Sometimes so-called "genre fiction" gets a bad rap, but as everyone around here at busysmartypants knows, I'm a huge fan of mystery/spy/thriller novels, genres be damned. Sometimes you want LeCarre, with all of his intricate plotting and subtle twists of the knife; and sometimes you want Lee Child--heavier on the action but none the less tense. Anyway, enjoy the vid and happy reading.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

how do i

It's been a 3-rejection week.
Even for me, that's a lot of no's.
I've been submitting a particular story draft weekly for months. The narrative felt ready. Even as I submit, I continue revising, all the while maintaining the heart of the story. I've found a thread, I think, and shaped the ending to provide satisfaction for the reader (if not a lot of personal growth for the somewhat unlikable main character).
And yet, still: three no's in a week.
That's roughly one no every three days.
That's .42 no's daily.
It's been a lot of no lately.
Second job-wise.
I know I'll keep going, I always do, but maybe I need a break.
A change is as good as a rest, they say.
I'm not quite sure who "they" are.
How do I carry on?

Saturday, January 12, 2019


While I'm working on new stories I continue to play with the kinds of images that make me happy. Twisted glamour. Luxe with a wink. Lush has connotations I love to contemplate.

bsp videos don't sleep on 'em