No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It was Thanksgiving weekend 2009, a typical 75 degrees, and I was sitting on the front porch in my pajamas watching a very little Riley and Aidan ride their bikes in the driveway. A man in his early 60s got out of his car and stopped at the edge of our driveway. He explained that he had grown up in the house. Could he come up and speak to me?

Against type, I said sure. He was polite, well dressed and groomed. 

We spoke for probably 30 minutes. He knew everything about the house, including the location of strange knots in the dining room wood paneling that I came to find out were the result of him and his brother shooting each other in the house with BB guns. Side note; we have extensively remodeled and the 1950’s wood paneling is thankfully gone.

I also learned and confirmed later that he had held a top spot at one of our country’s security agencies. I decline to mention which one because I don’t want to disappear in case he ever reads this story. 

Dave was home so I invited him inside to look around. He was excited to walk around and regale us with stories of his childhood. He also answered the mystery of why our entire backyard had been poured with concrete; his parents moved from Minnesota and they refused to believe that grass would be able to grow year round.

As he was leaving, he commented on our majestic orange tree, recalling the juicy sweetness and the miraculous annual abundance of the fruit. I told him to wait a second, ran inside, grabbed a grocery bag and filled it high for him. When I handed him the bag, he had tears in his eyes. He was going to see his mom who was in a home. He was sure this would bring her tremendous joy.

I told him to stop by anytime. I never saw him again.

Last week a letter came hand-addressed to the man in old people’s scribble. Generally I relish throwing out mail addressed to previous owners who should have notified their annuity issuers of their new address 20 years ago. But this was different. For starters, I liked this guy. Also, we had never received anything for him or his family confirming my belief that they were responsible individuals that took care of their shit. 

So I scoured the googler and I was able to figure out his current employer but there wasn’t an email for him. I puzzled out what I thought it would be only to have my email bounce. In a last ditch effort, I asked Dave to check Linked In and see if he could track him down and get an address. Success! Sort of.

Dave and the man have been corresponding all morning and we do have an address to forward the letter to. But the man had a request.

Can he sprinkle his dead mother’s ashes under my orange tree. Record screeches.

For those of you immediately horrified, thank you. For those of you who are sentimental assholes let me paint a picture.

I do not not want to be eating the nutrients of a decrepit old woman when my oranges bloom next fall.

I do not wish to invite a poltergeist into my home.

I do not want to spar with an angry spector as to who is the rightful mistress of this manor.

I’m fairly certain that the return gift for a bag of oranges is not your dead mother. 

I look forward to clearing my name after my impending investigation for some trumped up international conspiracy charges and perhaps an IRS audit. 

I Know How I’m Going To Die And It’s Not From COVID

It’s a blessing and curse. I love competition.

Well in truth, I loathe competition. I love to win. So naturally I gravitate towards activities I’m good at. So many to choose from!

So why do I love the Peloton? I am not built to ride. I consider myself to be at a huge disadvantage because of my size. It’s physics. I simply cannot exert enough downward force at large resistance to produce the output numbers needed to sit atop the leaderboard. 

It doesn’t stop me from creating imaginary matchups. In order to even the playing field a bit, I limit my ride view to women in their 40s currently participating in my same ride. In every ride, I have 3 enemies. 

The first is the woman right ahead of me. I believe she knows I’m there watching her and plotting her demise. I keep in close range, waiting for her to burnout trying to protect her lead. It’s most satisfying if she’s about 30 seconds ahead of me in the program. That way I time my final push until right before she ends her program so that she knows I passed her just as her time runs out with no way to redeem herself. Enjoy your day @siouxie from Iowa!

The next opponent is the chick behind me. I see you @milfof4 gunning for me. You’ll get close, within 2 points. But I know you lack strategy. You’ll exert too much energy too soon and you still can’t close the gap. You’ll be left exhausted and demoralized and I’ll end up smoking you by 8 kilojoules. I may even send you a little virtual high five. You know, for good sportsmanship. 

The most destructive opponent I have is my own Personal Record. It sits there in mocking parenthesis next to my name and marks to the actual time ridden. Most days I slip further and further behind the elusive pace until it is unreachable. What did I eat that day? What time of day did I ride? Was I heavily cross training or was it after many days off? Shouldn’t I be stronger and faster each time? 

Even worse is the days I do set a new PR. The finish line keeps moving. This is a game I can never win.

The fresh faced deputy walks in. And promptly vomits.

My twisted body hangs from my cycling shoes still clipped in. I’m not even tall enough to have hit my head on the ground when I collapsed. My knee joints have popped and sinewy cartilage and tendons are exposed like half eaten Buffalo Wild Wings.

The weathered Coroner, 35 years on the job turns, laughs and asks, “What, no ranch?”.

My phone dings in the corner. It’s the Peleton app. Congratulations! You’ve hit a new Personal Record.

I Should Probably Fly Private

Well folks, I’m on the move again so you know what that means; travel travails. 

I have a strict policy against going barefoot in public places, especially airport security. It’s simply not sanitary. Should I be traveling and happen to be wearing a shoe that doesn’t require a sock, I always keep a pair handy to slip on as I go through security. After today, I now realize a simple cotton sock is no measure against the foot filth at the X-ray machine. Expect to see me on Shark Tank soon with a haz-mat travel sock. 

The man in front of me (MIFOM) at security today was too well dressed and too old to be a travel rookie and yet he was a total disaster as we prepared our personal items for the conveyer belt. 

First, a few common sense etiquette rules. 

You simply do not fill the bins while they are still stacked. Take your required number of bins, place them on the table and begin to fill and slide as the line progresses. Fill and slide. Got it?

Next, the human TSA recording telling you to place any electronic items larger than a phone in a separate bin is actually speaking to you. 

MIFOM had already filled the two bins on the top of the two stacks and was finally moving forward but I could see he was having a hard time processing this information. He looked back and forth between his two bins already piled high with items and glanced at the piles of empty bins. No way, buddy. This is a one way street. 

My mother’s instinct kicked in. I grabbed an empty bin from behind me and not so gently tossed it next to him. He did not take the suggestion and went back and grabbed another bin. The TSA agent and I shared a moment, simultaneously rolling our eyes as I restacked the extra bin. 

MIFOM entered the X-ray machine, assumed the position and exited… leaving his sweaty footprints. I entered the cancer chamber and had no choice but to place my delicate, clean-socked feet in the moist murder outline. My feet will receive a Silkwood-esque shower upon check-in. 

I waited and watched the screen for my “OK” so I could be discharged by security. Instead, a yellow rectangle popped up on the occipital lob of the display person. 

A few words about my travel hairstyle today; it is stick straight. For starters, my hair requires planning. Like days in advance. Seriously. 

We’re skiing tomorrow. That means if I leave it curly, it will whip around in the wind, rub up against the collar of my jacket and knot itself into a ball so tight that I may need to borrow Britney’s clippers to extricate it. 

Also, I believe you should travel just a little bit dressed up. It’s a vestigial trait I inherited from my grandparents.  So in an effort to look a little more presentable, I am not sporting my natural ‘fro. That means unless I have a removable plate in my head, absolutely nothing could be occupying the alarming yellow rectangle. 

The female TSA asked if she could pat my head. In my mind I was screaming “nooooooo” in that deep, slow motiony voice as her blue gloved hand descended on my pristine hair. 

PTSD is real. Anyone who knows me well knows that you do not touch my hair. Not even the people I love the most are allowed to. 

Family folklore has it that not only did I speak in complete sentences at a relatively young age, but that my first complete sentence was “Don’t touch my hair”.  

Let me explain; people have no fucking boundaries. And apparently upon seeing a tiny creature in a stroller with hair somewhere between pink and orange, they were compelled to comment and pet. 

I did not like this and expressed my discontent. Can you even imagine me uttering a sharp and biting comment to repel people? Whatever. I am who I’ve always been. You know what you’re getting and I think you like it. 

So I would have rather consented to a full body cavity search than submit to the TSA examination. It’s been almost three hours since the assault and my head is still burning from her touch. 

I was clearly confused after security and stood a full minute at the gate listings next to a man that turned out not to be my husband. I was dangerously close to uttering something about how long it was taking him to find our flight.

We’ve landed safely and my bourbon has an ETA of less than hour. 

I’m sure I’ll be checking in from the slopes. 

xo, K

Saugus Strong

There’s a common refrain in a basketball game, “I’ve got shooter”. 

Today Aidan’s JV Basketball team played Saugus High School in the last day of a week long tournament. Saugus High School was the site of the 44th school shooting of 2019.

Some of you may not know, but my nice Jewish boys go to the most loving Catholic school. As is tradition, our team prays privately before each game. Today, Aidan’s team arranged to pray with the Saugus team at half court. It was one of those moments that shows how critical sports are to our human experience and a reminder of why you cry at every sports movie you’ve ever seen. 

All week I saw the Saugus team marching in and out of the gym. As I looked at every face, I wondered “we’re you already at school that fateful morning? Did you hear shots? Did you see it happen? We’re any of the victims in your classes or a friend of yours?”

We knew we’d meet them at some point during the tournament and Aidan lamented all week; what was he supposed to say if he was the man assigned to block out the free throw shooter?

And then it happened. Saugus lined up at the free throw line. I heard a mumble from the court and saw Aidan answer by raising his hand and taping his chest. He wouldn’t say it. 

As I’ve written before, I wholeheartedly stand by my assertion that this epidemic is cured not by gun control but by advocacy for the mental health of our children. 

I’ve said it 1000 times before but I better say it again. Yes, I believe in common sense gun control. Of course this shooter shouldn’t have been able to buy a “Ghost Gun” off the internet and assemble it himself. But also, it would have been great if his father wasn’t an alcoholic that died prematurely and if police hadn’t been called to the family home to arrest the father on charges of domestic abuse against his mother. Oh and maybe if this child would have been on someone’s radar because all of that trauma was sure to affect him.

The pressure, the sadness, the loneliness, the drug abuse, the suicide, the perpetration of violence. When are we going to implement a systemic support network to nurture the emotional development of our youth?

Who’s got shooter?

Brotherly Love

When someone asks me if I have any siblings, I usually joke that I’m an only child. Then I feel compelled to explain that I have 3 estranged brothers; 2 older step brothers and one younger natural brother and that it’s a long (and painful, though I’ll rarely admit it) story.

I always marvel at the sibling relationships I see Dave and my friends have. I knew it must be good. I knew I was missing out on something. But frankly, I didn’t really get it. Until now.

Riley is a little over 3 years older than Aidan. When they were about 4 and 1, Riley was being terrible to Aidan. I remember sitting on the floor of our playroom in Austin watching Aidan desperately try to get his brother’s attention and Riley swatting him away with disdain.

I was overcome with sadness. This was not the relationship I wanted for them. Echoes of my childhood rang.

I stopped Riley and pleaded with him:

This is your brother. This is the only one you’ve got. (Obviously, I’m not as psychic as I think I am.) He is your blood and he will be your lifelong best friend. That guy will always have your back no matter what. Don’t treat him like this. I was terrible to my brother. I feel awful about it. And now we have no relationship.

Riley’s response, his wisdom beyond his years:

Then you should call him. You should apologize.

FUCK! What choice did I have? I had to set the right example for my children. I called my brother in Hong Kong, explained what had happened, swallowed my pride and apologized.

I wish I could tell you there’s a happy ending to that story, but my brother and I continue to have no relationship. The primary reason being that I believe him to be suffering from undiagnosed mental illness.

However, the foundation for that dysfunction started out of the gate. When I reflect back on the constant fighting and true intent to inflict grave injury, I am sick.

But we grew up in a household that only had two potential outcomes; band together and survive or every man for himself. In the absence of nurture, my nature dominated. The mother in me is nauseous to think of that little boy that I tormented and abandoned. My only consolation; hey, at only 2 1/2 years older, I was just a kid too.

So like we all do, you try to do better for your children. Not to be too self congratulatory, but I think Dave and I did a good job of celebrating their individual accomplishments but not lording them over the other child. And we insisted on an all for one and one for all mentality.

Things between Riley and Aidan were pretty good until Riley hit middle school. There are just some evolutionary tendencies that you have to fight through. Even with their substantial age difference, Aidan was almost always as big as Riley, his athletic ability dominating. I think that upped the competition between them.

It wasn’t until Riley hit about sixteen that the alpha male war was over and they could coexist, each secure and comfortable in the spectacular individuals they are. And when Aidan came to the same high school, the love affair was in full bloom. Riley seemed to take true pride in claiming Aidan as “his”.

This past weekend, we all went to visit Riley for Parents’ Weekend. At Riley’s urging, Aidan stayed in the dorms, seamlessly integrating into the student body. After what I estimate to be 20 hrs of straight partying minus a power nap in between venues, I was softly interrogating Riley.

Was Aidan fun?

He’s always fun.

In that exchange is everything I ever needed. If I can’t be a sister, at least I can be the mother of brothers.

There is of course the third wheel that is never a third wheel. Maybe no one was more excited to see Riley than Tyler who leapt into his arms upon sighting.

What a crazy dynamic that relationship overlays; part brother, part party trick, part son I think for the big boys. He was a huge hit with the college kids. What? Your first fraternity party wasn’t at age 7?

But leaving…ouch. Tyler, our tough guy, Mr. Too Cool For School, was inconsolable for over an hour when we dropped Riley off for the final time of our trip.

Brotherly love. What a gift to have nurtured. What a gift to behold.

Window War I

Recently there’s been debate and strong feelings about reclining your seat on an airplane. I would agree that a Full Recline is aggressive. I do, however, believe you are entitled to put your seat back to at least the 90 degree position. Am I the only one who feels like you are forced into a sustained abdominal crunch with my seat in its “upright” position?

But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about today. My pressing issue is a real life Axis and Allies. A fight to retain my rightful territory. My personal Manifest Destiny. 

Windows on an airplane are not spaced in line with your rows. I think once upon a time they probably were, but now with rows so close together even my 5ft, one and 1/4 inch frame feels smushed. Yes the 1/4 inch matters. 

Now you get 1+ window per seat. The “+” is the issue. 

When we boarded the flight this morning to take Riley to Michigan (insert sobs here), the view from my window was such:

As we waited on the tarmac deep in conversation, troops were apparently moved into position. When I turned my gaze back to this glorious morning I was met with this:

Oh hell no. 

I conferred with my generals. Usually they try to pacify me. Make me try peaceful protest. Seek Congressional approval and all. This time I had surprising support for my campaign. 

The 5 star felt I was squarely on their 30 yard line and could easily move into the red zone with a seat recline. The 4 star was more reticent and was concerned about retaliation. After all they had been speaking Russian. 

I’m in no emotional state to be fucked with so zzziiipppp; up went the window shade. Ahhhh, so much better. 

We took off on time and headed out over the Pacific Ocean, the new day’s sun gleaming over empty beaches.  As we made a sweeping turn back towards the east a hand reached forward PAST my seat back and shut the shade. 

Woman, you are going to long for Putin oppression if this goes on. 

I turned around, flipped the shade back up, glared at the woman… and then weakly mumbled something about being claustrophobic. 

First of all, not true. Second of all, what a sniveling, pathetic thing to say. Forgive me. I’m clearly in a vulnerable state with the changes afoot. 

The win is so much less satisfying having compromised my methods. Perhaps I’ll redeem me to myself but shutting the shades upon landing. 

xo, Kimby

Summer Vacay, Part I

With Riley headed off to college, I felt compelled to plan a last family hurrah. We thought about exotic locales or another European vacation but at the end of the day, we settled on Hawaii.

Settled is hardly the right word but I wanted to mix things up a bit so we exchanged our typical Big Island lounging for an urban experience on Oahu. There will be lounging for the second part of the trip but I panicked that my children haven’t seen Pearl Harbor and that felt like a parenting fail with Riley exiting the nest. 

The trip started off with my name being called as we waited to board the plane. At 8am in an obscenely crowded LAX terminal, I was in no mood. 

Ken was a particularly perky United representative that wanted to confirm that I was in fact Kimberly. Since there was no official arresting police personnel visible, I confirmed. 

Well now I got to spin some prize wheel! And 10,000 United miles are mine! Thank you very much, Ken!

I had to give Ken my email. Because it has “tx” in the address we started talking about Texas. Turns out Ken’s husband graduated from UT a year after me from the school of Architecture. They haven’t been back for a football game in a couple of years but are planning on it this season. Ken is now my BFF. 

And here’s the picture they made us take.

You can see how thrilled I am to be having my photo taken. I’ll be mortified if we’re on some United promotional site. I prostituted my likeness for 10,000 miles. It was worth it. 

I used to be a very nervous flyer, even as a kid. My mom would often put me on a PSA flight alone to San Francisco to visit my grandparents. I had a whole OCD routine that involved carefully studying the emergency card and scanning the flight for infants. Because if there was a baby on board, it couldn’t crash. I had a peaceful, carefree childhood. 

I have completely rehabbed myself when it comes to my fear of flying and only had one morbid thought as I boarded the massive 777, “Will I be stuck at some sort of death check-in with all these uninteresting looking people?”

Thankfully we landed safely and checked into the uber fancy Ritz Carlton. (Thank you Marriot points). We are not beachside. It’s sort of like Miami Beach meets New York meets Tokyo; a cultural experience for sure. We may also be subject to Yen exchange rates because lunch was $150. 

Only one room was ready so while we were waiting all together, the day’s travel took a toll on all of us, if you know what I’m saying. 

In catering to the Asian clientele, our bathroom is outfitted with a state of the art Toto bidet toilet. I’m up first and fascinated by this amenity. The remote seemed detailed but self explanatory.

I activated the stream, heard the motor, but nothing. I figure I need to up the water pressure. 

As you know, I’m not a patient person. It never occurred to me that there may be a delay. 

So now the water is going full blast and I’m pushing a button that says “on/off” but that must have been mis-translated from Japanese because it’s not turning off. And I can’t get up because the water will go everywhere all over the bathroom. So I’m laughing and screaming at the same time until I find a button on top labeled STOP. 

Let’s just say everything can be made better with a warm dryer feature. 

Riley was up next. I think he summed it up best when he exited the restroom. 

“I’m starting to question who won the war. I just let a Japanese toilet shoot water up my ass.”

Signing off from Day 1. 

Xo, Kimby

Another Mass Shooting, Another Rant: Gilroy

Calling for gun control after every mass shooting is the equivalent of demanding pools be drained after every drowning.

The weapon was purchased legally and the shooter was dead within minutes because of the quick response of on-duty police.

Do I believe in common sense gun laws? ABSOLUTELY!! But this is a crisis of mental health and disenfranchisement.

I am so sick and tired of people/politicians and their respective rallying cries. Our society is unraveling. People and ideas are being forced to the extreme for the sake of votes and power. And no one really has the balls to identify the true problems and work on the difficult answers. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t involve free college or illegal immigration.

We, as a society, are failing at our most basic level; creating community. From tiny family unit to basic human interaction with the people who share your city.

I am saddened by the propagation of hate and I am terrified by its outcome. I am exhausted by the redirection of personal responsibility to media and politicians and wide sweeping generalizations of groups.

I have no answers or stirring conclusion beyond teach your children to swim (metaphorically). Thanks for reading.

PS Sadly this is the fourth time I have written about mass shootings. Feel free to check out

Thank You For Your Service

Gun Control, Abortion, Freedom of Speech, Oh My!

Bullets and Sudafed

Why Are We Celebrating Tiger Woods?

I’m Looking At You Barack

You’re so fucking predictable, America. You’ll fall for any story of redemption. I get it. We are all starved for any feel good news. Even I’m watching cat videos. And I hate cats. My Facebook feed is crammed with feline follies entitled, “Because You’ve Interacted With Videos Like This”. It makes me feel dirty and shameful.

Speaking of dirty and shameful, Tiger Woods was fucking prostitutes and groupies. Remember???????

Do you recall his darling wife, mother of his two beautiful children, moved to rage and teeing off at him and his car. Literally. She grabbed the nearest iron and tried to make his head and fender a dog leg left.

As Tiger’s shameful infidelities were exposed, stories started to surface that Tiger wasn’t the man we thought we married either. Long protected as golf’s savior, the Tiger facade started to crack. This initial fissure gave rise to tales of rude and entitled behavior. Rather than being the golden boy of the tour, people thought he was a dick.

Oh and then he was suspected of using performance enhancing drugs to manage knee and back problems. He sought the assistance of disgraced Canadian doctor, Mark Lindsay whose other notable client was A Rod. Side note: hoping for J Lo’s sake Alex has ditched the peepee shrinkers.

Lest we not forget the DUI? Toxicology reports uncovered a sundae of Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and good old-fashioned pot as the cherry on top.

But last weekend Tiger Woods won the most prestigious golf tournament on the PGA Tour, The Masters. It’s a feat to win it once, let alone a 5th time…after a THIRTEEN years hiatus.

But does he deserve a congratulatory tweet from Barack Obama, devoted husband, father and humble public servant? Come back, Barack. We miss you.

Does he deserve a Medal of Freedom? Consider the decision maker on that one…

Let’s give credit where credit is due. Tiger Woods, The Athlete, is the greatest golfer of our generation. Now that he is back playing to his full athletic potential, he may be capable of breaking all records of the greats that went before him. For that, I’m willing to acknowledge and congratulate his athletic prowess and achievements.

But in my book, Tiger Woods, The Man, is a lying, cheating, weak and dishonorable cad. We need to stop celebrating an athletic trophy as proof of a moral redemption. To me, a tiger can’t change his stripes.

Thank You For Your Service

This morning we all woke up to the news of another mass shooting. This one is in my backyard, at a restaurant/bar I have been to. Many of the victims yet to be named will be young people; it was college night, 18 and up. Many of the “regulars” hale from local colleges my children’s school sends kids off to, Pepperdine and Cal Lutheran. I am bracing to hear of families I may know directly affected.

This morning I woke up and showered quickly, made breakfasts and lunches, no two alike because they’re picky little fuckers, and rushed to Tyler’s 1st Grade Class Veterans Performance. 

Sadly, this morning’s event and last night’s tragedy are linked.

I think I’m not alone in this. When I hear of a mass shooting, I am enraged at the gun lobby influence and Congress’ ineffectiveness to put sensible gun laws in place. Well, guys, you’re off the hook on this one.

Today is brought to you by a 28 year old Marine who had previously shown signs of PTSD. He legally purchased a .45 Glock pistol and murdered 10 innocent kids out dancing for the evening and one sheriff sergeant who had devoted the last 29 years of his life to protecting and serving his community.

Today, my 6 year old son sang and danced his heart out. His eyes never left his two grandfathers as he thanked them for their service with awkward choreography and 2 out of every 3 words of the songs.

My dad and father-in-law are proud to have served. One was militarily engaged (story for another time), one was in the reserves. Both voluntarily enlisted and they deserve, and enjoy, the reverence afforded to them on this holiday. I know Tyler was proud to have them in the audience too.

But neither of them give me concern that they have PTSD, that they may harm themselves or someone else. What has changed since they served? I certainly don’t have the answer but I sure as hell know that “thank you for your service” isn’t cutting it anymore.

Tyler and his classmates sang of our freedom and safety and choices. These darling little faces in all shapes, sizes and colors, poetically reminded us of the sacrifice others have made so that we can worship freely, vote, assemble and verbally destroy each other on Facebook. I think we take it all for granted. And I know for certain that our government is not taking care of our veterans. 

I realize we have a lot of fronts to fight right now but I believe veterans deserve better. Better because they served. Better because their families also sacrificed. And if it’s the only thing that motivates us, better because they are bringing the wars back to our shores. PTSD is the root of epidemic levels of veteran drug abuse, unconscionable homelessness and now mass shootings. 

There has been a trend in recent years not to exhaustingly name the shooters. This one should be different. We will come to understand that Ian Long was a victim of his mental illness. I’ll be surprised if it’s not directly connected to his service as Marine. My wish would be for Congress to fund a mental health initiative in his name for veterans. One that provides therapists immediately upon re-entry and with benefits that never run out. That’s how we can thank our military for their service.