Weekly Round Up and Uber Bits, Finally-Drying Out Edition

Yesterday was the first day in like two weeks that I didn’t drive in the rain. Driving in the rain is a pain in the ass for several reasons:

  • Drivers in San Antonio aren’t very good on dry pavement but on wet pavement they’re a hundred times worse. Either they drive a hundred miles an hour and flip their cars, or they drive twenty miles an hour (on the freeway!) and back traffic up for miles.
  • Drainage is not a priority in city infrastructure and never has been so puddles and low-water crossings are a given.
  • Grass will still be mowed even when it’s wet and muddy because people are stupid and don’t give a damn about allergy suffers like myself.

I told a guy yesterday as I took him home to cookie-cutter suburbia after he said he had to mow his grass that it could wait because his grass wasn’t going anywhere. Grass and other chores won’t run off if you won’t do them though God knows I wish they would just say: “Fuck it! I’m running away.” If that was the case I’d pack them a bag of snacks and send them on their way. And another thing, the movie ‘Cinderella’ set totally unrealistic expectations about what forest animals were capable of doing.

Speaking of Uber… sometimes I have to wonder why my passengers make the request of me to drop them in the back of the building. Sometimes I know it’s a back entrance for employees but when it’s not I have to wonder: are they trying to avoid their Lumbergh-like boss? Or trying to see if their girlfriend/boyfriend is there along with their side-piece? Or if the loan-shark they owe money to is waiting for them? Yes, I do think creatively about my passengers but I’m sure there is a story there sometimes, too.

As a writer, being an Uber is a pretty good job to have because I get to hear people talk all day long (though not every passenger talks). I talk with them, they talk with each other, or they talk on their phones to someone else. I’ve heard at least half a dozen languages spoken in my car and some of them I still don’t what language they were. I’ve heard banal conversations, dumb conversations, and some that are a bit awkward though nothing filthy and disgusting (no, that was just one time with my masturbator-dude). But hearing lots of different people talk is a good way to help write dialogue or get a feel for what’s going in the world beyond screaming news headlines and the dumb-ass brigade on social media.

Now I’m grateful to have satellite radio back in the car because although local radio can be entertaining, hearing the same old commercials over and over can start turning a brain into jell-o. Here the majority of radio commercials were for heating and air-conditioning outfits and personal-injury lawyers (Jim Adler, aka ‘The Texas Hammer’ was always quite entertaining). And local traffic was pretty much always the same, too with the idiot brigade crashing at the usual spots around town. And the music… corporate radio at its finest (though the disco played on KONO-FM here made some passengers happy though they were surprised to hear that in the first place- I didn’t tell them disco never died in San Antonio).

Another thing that contributes to my imagination and diverse character voices is motel-living. I’ve seen and heard a lot of interesting stuff living in these over the last few years. One time a group of young men set up a recording studio in the room next to mine and had to be told to keep it down more than once- talk about recording on a budget. I’ve heard screaming arguments that just made me want to just say, “Dump this asshole and get on with your life.” I think a guy did that after he and his lady moved out then he came back alone for a while. And yes, I’ve seen a body carted out of a room. And seen the cops come by a few times and people hauled off in the back of cop cars (and I saw this kind of stuff living in apartments, too so don’t give me any grief like my father would have over being ‘unsafe’.)

Another thing about living in motels and apartments is the stray cats you get to know. Every place has them and people are pretty good about taking care of them. But yesterday, the little female that had kittens a few weeks ago got into it with a dog that got off-leash and she died. My neighbors are taking in her kittens and maybe the dog got out accidently but still… My Darcy was traumatized by dogs charging off-leash at her and to this day she doesn’t like dogs that bark at her or are off-leash. And don’t even think about defending letting a dog go off-leash outside of an enclosed and secure space.

And tonight for the first time in a long, long time I’m planning to do a Saturday evening Uber run. Hopefully evening people are just as nice as they were before all this pandemic-shit started. I’m not staying out late but I want to see what it’s like after the sun goes down for a while. Hopefully I’ll hear some stories about various shenanigans people get into.

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but doesn’t sell out) – Part Five: Kicking and Screaming into Middle-Age

Back in the 1980’s ‘selling out’ was like when a rock star gave the okay to have their songs used in commercials for stuff like soda and stuff. In fact, Neil Young wrote a song called ‘This Note’s For You’ explaining that quite well. But selling out to Madison Avenue is one thing. Selling out your beliefs and past is another.

I’ve heard over the years that people tend to get more conservative as they get older. For me, that’s not true at all. I’ve always been aligned with liberal progressive ideals but now can define them so much better than before.

So how did I see myself in middle age?

One way was living in a stone house out in the middle of nowhere writing and raising a ton of rescue animals. I’d wander into town once a week in a flowing hippie dress and get my stuff but go nowhere else. Another way was being a self-confident best-selling author traveling the world and looking pretty good at it.

At no time did I see myself as a suburban wife or single-mom (because if I had married suburban-Ken he probably would have dumped me when I hit forty). And I didn’t see myself as career-woman workaholic middle-manager either.

So in relation to my demographic generation, where do I think I stand? Somewhere between a rock and a hard place. We’re about as poor as the generation behind us (Millennials) and we’re also a ‘sandwich generation’ taking care of kids and aging parents. Yet I think we’re also the generation that sold out the least. I mean, we have red-hat assholes but we knew them as Young Republicans so no change there.

As for Generation X women, in the words of three of our musical icons known as The Chicks, we’re not ready to make nice. And now we call out gaslighters and deniers more than ever like The Chicks sing about so well. Because I think we tried to be nice and silent and neither one was received very well. And because of that, I think the generations on either side of us on the age-scale haven’t known where to put us. I do: in front of a tv or a radio with some food and a pair of headphones.

Middle-age for women (40+) is a fucked up time. It’s when a woman’s ovaries began the shutdown process in a way that is anything but graceful and smooth. Your body goes even crazier than it did with fully-working ovaries but at least we have doctors who are writing books that tell it like it is (Dr. Jen Gunter for the win!). We’ve all been touched by cancer so we don’t need the ‘awareness’ and pink-bullshit but a God-damn cure for it (which might be in mRNA like that used in the covid-19 vaccines- yeah science!). Most of all, we know most of the world would love to see us slink off into the dark woods though most of us don’t have that luxury. But the real reason I think the assholes of this world want middle-age women to shut up and go away is that we’ve run out of fucks to give.

But we also know we’re carrying around a lot of baggage, too and that we need to work through it. In the Netflix movie, ‘Wine Country’ there’s a scene with psychic who says this:

“Get over all your shit because it is much later than you think.”

That’s not easy to deal with knowing you’re carrying around a lot of crap and don’t have as much time to deal with as you’d like to. What I’ve learned is that you can unpack and sort it out and get rid of a ton of it. And you can let people know you’ve done that or not. It’s up to you and I will respect anyone’s choice either way. It’s not easy to do this but us middle-age women know nothing is easy past a certain point.

I think this discarding of trash and bullshit is what is leading a good number of us to tiny houses and living on the road. I’m tired of having stuff around that I don’t want or need. And I don’t feel like I need to stay in one place if I have the ability to move around. So why hang on to that crap when you don’t have to?

For me, middle-age is dealing with ever-more fucked up body than usual, an intense need to roam in a turtle shell on wheels, and an ability to write and create day by day. And most of all, it’s leaving a lot of garbage behind and not looking back.

I’ve got my music, books, tv and movies, and a self-confidence that grows by the day. And most of all, I know I haven’t sold out to greed and self-righteous right-wing bullshit. I’ve held on to what I believe in the most: love, hope, kindness, and good rock ‘n’ roll (and punk, new wave, alternative, heavy metal, and country music).

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but doesn’t sell out) – Part Four: Trying to Be a Grown-Up

In my thirties, I thought I’d try being a grown-up. I had my own apartment, car, decent-paying job. But I still had no social life and was afraid of having one because I was still a caregiver to my widowed father. Yes, like the idiot I was back then I thought if I somehow developed a social life that word would get back to my father that I intended to run off to Bora-Bora and live in a hut with my loser hunk of a boyfriend. Or some bullshit like that. Or worse than that, I’d run off to Bora-Bora with some hot woman I’d fallen for.

(My sexual orientation definitely leans heterosexual more than anything but I’m more than open and accepting of other orientations including in my own life because if I met someone of either gender and they were a good person and attracted to me, I’d pursue that relationship. If this freaks anyone out, get over yourself.)

But when I look back on thirties in the first decade of the twenty-first century, I see a shit-ton of missed opportunities. I thought I was doing the right thing by working at my soul-sucking call-center jobs and piddling around on my writing and not making waves of any kind. In reality, I wanted so much more and I had the means to pursue that.

So why didn’t I?

After my mom died, I became my father’s sole caregiver. He gave me all the legal power to do so in the event he became incapacitated (which I had to exercise when he had a stroke two years before he died). I felt like I was the only person other than my late mother who could truly handle him and I think I was even better than my mother was considering what I had to do for him. I miss him terribly with all of his stories and advice (but I don’t miss his mood swings and lashing out at me, either). But he was also over-protective as hell of me and I felt like if he was told enough shit about me he might not believe me over the lies and misinformation. I never wanted him to think I would ever abandon him. And it wasn’t just because I made a promise to my mother to take care of him after she died. I knew how to be a caregiver and I was damn good at it.

But also I still felt like I was a useless sack of shit and not worthy of a social life either. I know now that was due to a lack of self-confidence that I’m just now starting to regain. Back then I just felt like a social idiot.

Also in my early thirties I got a case of baby-fever. But because of my physical issues (scoliosis and weight) a pregnancy for me would have been very high-risk so that put the kibosh on that. And fostering and adopting were very expensive and difficult and I didn’t have the financial wherewithal for that. So I had to nurse this pain alone and I’ve dealt with it in private ever since.

I think us Gen X women knew the shit our mothers were told that they could have it all was a lie. But I think we wanted to believe we could have the good job and the family and somehow balance it all out. In reality, I think you juggle as best as you can and learn to let go of things that you can afford to have fall and bounce.

In my thirties, I got the best-paying job of my working career without a college degree but left after five and a half years. About a year and a half before I quit that job, my dad had his stroke and if it hadn’t been for a manager who really cared about me, I would have lost that job then. I told myself not to make any decisions for a while but a little over a year later there was talk of a reorganization. That didn’t feel right to me and in a decision I didn’t talk about with anyone, I decided to quit that job with nothing else to go to. Looking back, I’m glad I did it because I later learned the reorganization did not go well.

I ended my thirties on what I thought was a pretty good note- a little apartment, paid-off car, and still piddling around on the writing. But little did I know then that when I began to realize I wasn’t such a fuck-up like I’d believed for so long my life would change in the way it has been over the last few years. I had no idea I was about to start breaking my silence once and for all.

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – Part Three: My Secret Longing to be a Riot Grrrl

In the 1990’s, the Riot Grrrl movement was born. It was a movement of women who played loud punk music, wore black Doc Marten shit-stomping boots, and didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought about them. They stood up to the patriarchy and for women everywhere.

And I wanted to be one so damn badly.

But in my twenties, I brutally suppressed so much of myself in the name of keeping the peace. When I was nineteen my dad had his first heart attack and would later retire early within the next couple of years. When I was twenty-one my mother was diagnosed with cancer that would slowly kill her seven years later. Without telling anyone, I became a caregiver and was more than willing to give up a lot of my life. What I didn’t intend to do, and should have never have done, was give up almost all of my own life because I knew people were mouthing off to my parents behind my back about them letting me live at home while I was helping out as much as I could.

Back then, I felt like I could not find my own way like most people start to do in their twenties. I didn’t go out and raise hell, or even have more than one drink at a time. I didn’t socialize in any way that was meaningful and long-lasting. I felt like I was not allowed to slip, stumble, and fall like most people do. And not because people were over-protective of me, but because these well-intentioned people thought that I couldn’t handle falling on my ass. And also if I wasn’t at their beck-and-call I was a selfish bitch.

This is why after all these years I want to be a Riot Grrrl. I want to stand up and yell and scream and tell the assholes of this world to ‘fuck off!’ more than anything. I do it here on my own website-blog as an act of defiance. And so far, no one has reached out to me to tell me to shut the hell up with well-intentioned words and bullshit. But hey, if anyone wants to do that I will unleash my inner Riot Grrrl on you.

I am comforted to see a new generation embracing the Riot Grrrl aesthetic today. And I’m also comforted by those of us entering middle-age kicking and screaming along with them because you’re never too old to be a Riot Grrrl. And I think if I had embraced my inner Riot Grrrl back then I wouldn’t be working so hard now to regain the self-confidence I so foolishly gave away back then. Maybe I would have ended up out on my ass and alone but I would have survived, just with more scars than I already have.

Recently, I saw a question asked: what would you tell your eighteen year-old self if you could?

I’d tell her the following:

1) You are so much stronger than you will ever realize.

2) You have the right to stand up for yourself and call out the shit-talkers in your life. Because if you do that, you’ll call their bluff.

3) Five minutes after someone is done ripping you to shreds, they won’t remember what they did it for in the first place. Don’t let them do that to you.

4) Do not be ashamed to do the right thing even if it means sacrificing your own personal life to do it. There is no shame in spending time with people you love as they’re dying, like all the time I spent with my mother.

5) Start saving up for a pair of Doc Marten boots and a black leather jacket.

I think my experiences in the 1990’s mirrored what was going on in the world, especially how a presidential administration elected on a lot of hope and rock ‘n’ roll music ended in a trial over a stained blue dress that could have been avoided had a sitting president read about Alexander Hamilton and his ‘Reynold Pamphlet’ (Alexander Hamilton had an affair while US Treasury Secretary and wrote that pamphlet to clear his name of allegations of embezzlement, which he was innocent of. All Bill Clinton had to do was call a press conference instead to clear his name). For me, it was like ‘family values’ bullshit reaching an extreme hypocritical apex in American society.

This is why I think the Riot Grrrl aesthetic survives and thrives today because it’s about calling out bullshit and hypocrisy. I highly recommend it and have vowed to be like it in the ways I can.

And yes, I’m still saving up for a pair of Doc Marten boots and a black leather jacket. Preferably with lots of zippers or sharp-studs.

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – Part Two: Smelled Like Teen Spirit

One morning a couple of years before my dad died, 2010 (I can’t remember exactly what year this happened), I was in the grocery store one morning and as I was standing at the checkout the song ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana came over the store speakers (yes, this store does play music that cool). The girl checking me out started grooving out on the song and said she loved Nirvana. I told her it was a cool song and I remembered when it came out back when I was in high school. She then looked at me with very wide eyes and went, “I’m in high school.”

At that moment, I felt like I was seen as an old person for the first time. I later told my father about this and he started laughing his head off (yes, I went looking for sympathy from the wrong person). He then told me, “Now you know how old I feel sometimes.”

Looking back, I have to say junior high and the first two years of high school really sucked for me. The bullying in elementary school was tame compared to the razor-sharp precision it was carried out on me in junior high and the first two years of high school. When I started junior high, I was put into advanced classes and those kids just really made me feel like shit. I was smart enough to be in those classes but for some damn reason, they didn’t think I was worthy of being there. I eventually started dropping out of advanced classes and at the time I felt like it was the right decision but looking back now I’d love to go back and kick some ass because I had valuable opportunities denied to me because of that bullying-bullshit.

But I also look back and wonder if I would have survived those times if there had been social media to stalk me with, and also being told to go kill myself like kids are told to today. Back then I was just told to go away and that if it looked like I was going to cry that made it worse. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with social media back then and I got real good at not showing my emotions to anyone past a certain point.

Now junior and senior year of high school were a lot better. I was in regular classes and I got to know a lot of good people. These were fellow students who were just genuinely nice and kind to me. I even showed them some of my writing and they were blown away by it. I had people come to me for help and who worked well in groups together. I didn’t hang out with anyone too much or date but I liked the people I went to school with in those years a lot.

One thing I remember though about my senior year in high school was how the school administration was a bunch of threatening bullies. There were always whispers that if anyone tried anything like a walkout protest or something we’d be suspended or some shit. And at graduation rehearsal we were told multiple times not to do any crazy shit, or clap since there were seven-hundred and thirty-nine people in our class. But at graduation we gave each person a single clap as an act of defiance then cheered when the last student walked the stage. I graduated high school with a healthy disrespect for authority.

And another thing, I think even back then we knew our education could have been a hell of a lot better. History was a whitewash job and bad teachers were hard as hell to get rid of. Also, girls were treated worse than boys and yes, there was a shit-ton of racist crap, too. I look back and don’t feel discussions in class were nowhere near as honest or as though-provoking as they should have been. Here in Texas where I went to school, standardized testing was emerging as the be-all-end-all of student life back then in the public school system and I’d love to see that completely dismantled.

My adolescent and teen years were like my childhood in that I still felt like there was so much shit you couldn’t talk about. I think a lot of us knew the Regan-era 1980’s were based on a lot of conservative bullshit that has just gotten so damn much worse now. It’s why I think we latched on to Bill Clinton and Al Gore as hard as we did yet didn’t call Bill out on his behavior like we should have either.

I think we wanted to change the world and be rabble-rousers like the kids of the sixties were but I think we also saw how so many of those sixties-hippies turned into eighties-yuppies that we thought the same would happen to us. Or that it didn’t matter if you raised hell when you were younger because eventually you’d become an adult and have to stop believing you could really change things.

In my next decade, I would see a lot of my idealism destroyed by a president who couldn’t tell the truth about a blow job. And also, bullying would take on a new form against me that made what I’d been through before look pretty good.

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – A Latchkey Childhood

I think I was about eight or nine years old when I learned the term ‘latchkey kid’. It was a big thing in the early 1980’s for parents to have their kids come home to an empty house. I suspect some serious shaming went on with those parents for that but my mom once told me if she hadn’t gone back to work when she did she would have gone nuts (she was a stay-at-home mom from 1970 to 1977 – I turned three in 1977). Because as my mom put it, there was only so much Dr. Seuss you could read before you went nuts.

My dad had this book I remember called something like ‘Raising Latchkey Kids’ and all I could think was why did you need a book to learn how to raise kids? I honestly thought back then adults had their act together but also knew they didn’t just like now and back then, and before then, too.

We lived in middle-class suburbia so it wasn’t like my brother and I were on the mean streets of New York City or someplace like that. You just had to remember to carry your house key with you to school and not lose it (I forgot mine one day and had to sit outside till my brother got home about half an hour or so after me). Personally, I liked coming home to an empty house because I got first dibs on the refrigerator and the tv remote. Snacks were whatever I could find and the remote always went to MTV first in the hopes of seeing a Duran Duran video.

As a kid, I never went without anything but I also knew my parents struggled, too. In fact, for more than a few years, my mom was the sole breadwinner in the family (that’s a story for another time and place). I didn’t do as much as I wanted to and since I got paid an allowance I made sure I did my chores to earn it. Back then, I spent most of my money on books and magazines.

Looking back, I feel like there was so much that wasn’t talked about. I’ve said recently that we weren’t having the conversations back then like we are now. I need to alter that slightly to say we weren’t having any conversations at all about the seriously-fucked up shit that was going down. I mean, a lot of kids grew up thinking that parents not being around or assuming too much responsibility was normal and alright. Learning how to do stuff is one thing, but for me there were times when I felt like I was just expected to know something and if I didn’t then I got landed on. I know now that’s just someone being a complete dumb-ass in assuming someone knows something even if they say they don’t. But it’s why I have so much trouble asking for help with anything.

Another thing that was considered a compliment for your kids was being told they had ‘good coping skills’. Yeah, we coped with shit by not talking about it or blowing our lights out (and if someone did commit suicide you didn’t really talk about it either).

Recently on Twitter a discussion was had about Gen X kids watching tv shows and movies that weren’t ‘kids stuff’. I will freely admit here I was watching R-rated movies in my single-digit years and no adults were freaking out about that to my face. I thought it was just watching cool grown-up stuff because back then I felt like the goal was to want to grow up and be an adult and do your own thing. I mean, we were already doing our own thing by coming home alone, roaming our neighborhoods with no adult supervision, and amusing ourselves in addition to taking care of ourselves, too. I think this is why those Gen X’ers who were able to work from home welcomed that last year because we’d been training for it a lot longer than most Olympic athletes ever trained for anything.

I think the biggest takeaway I have from my latchkey childhood is having an overactive imagination. I was teased and bullied horribly because I was fat, shy, and ugly as a kid (and still am as an adult). It took me a while to realize that most people don’t have overactive imaginations and create fanfic in their heads so much. Back then, it was just what I did. Now I see it for what it really was: a tool for survival.

Now it wasn’t all shit back then. We had MTV, cable television if you were lucky, good music on the radio, and a bike to ride. And most of all, cooler heads prevailed in the White House and the Kremlin so we didn’t get blown to Kingdom Come in a nuclear war (though we watched enough post-apocalyptic movies and stuff to know what to do if weren’t at Ground Zero and vaporized).

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – Introduction

I’ve always said to myself I never wanted to be defined by numbers or anything like that. But where you fit in population demographics and what happened during your childhood and adolescence, and adulthood for that matter does shape you. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get put into a demographic category that might not be overlooked as much as mine is.

Generation X as it is called are those born between 1965 and 1980. We were the children of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945 according to Google Search) and the first generation of kids born to the Baby Boomers (1946 to 1965). We were also the first generation to grow up with parents who had a fifty percent chance of divorcing (mine almost did), had both parents who worked a lot, and who came home alone and tried not to burn the house down.

It was that independence given so early in life that shaped a generation to my way of thinking. Or at least it did for me because I felt like from as far back as I could remember that I had to do things for myself. I was expected to get myself up, dressed, fed, and off to school. And when I came home I was expected to have my key, feed myself, do my homework, and do chores. But once that was all done my time was my own.

I also think Generation X is unique because we came of age in the 70’s and 80’s right before everything went digital and online. We remember life before cellphones, the internet, and social media. We remember actual print newspapers, going to libraries to do research, and buying music on record, cassette, or compact disk. And as for ordering stuff to be mailed to you, you had to do that with catalogs or flyers you had to mail in first with your order (Scholastic Book Club forever!)

But despite this independence and ability we had to transition from paper to plastic-electronica, we were also called ‘slackers’ due to a movie made about aimless wanders in Austin, Texas, a city where you can’t even be an aimless wanderer anymore. I always felt like we were ignored until we were deemed worthy of attention by some asshole-adult. I also think that’s why we gravitated so heavily to adults who weren’t assholes, like writers and musicians and so forth who wrote and produced brilliant stuff we love with an endless soul-deep passion.

Another thing was that members of our generation took basic computer tech from the 70’s and 80’s and made it viable in the 90’s and beyond. I just wished we hadn’t dropped the ball on social media and let the Zuckerberg’s of the world have that one (and no, do NOT put him in with Generation X- he’s a geriatric millennial). But at least Gen X’ers gave the world Google.

Also, I think we knew who the assholes in our age group were from a very early age. These were the preppie-poseurs who tried only as hard as they had to try and get laid but are now red-hat MAGA wearing jack-asses in polo shirts (which I think should be recycled into something so much better because to me they’re a fashion abomination). These were the people who wanted to be punks but weren’t, skaters who fell on their asses more often than not, and tried to be Alex P. Keaton without any of the charm of Michael J. Fox.

As for the women… well I think we knew who would turn into raging middle-age Karens from Hell. Valley Girls who married well then got dumped and married not-so-well and who have helmet hair and serious misdirected anger issues because of that. They’re the ones who are uptight conservative bitches who rail against anything LBGTQ+ and make retail workers lives absolute hell. Just listen to them rant and rave then top it off with a single, “Whatever.” In your best Daria imitation.

And now Generation X women are entering middle-age and we’re not having the bullshit associated with that. We know the rest of the world would love to just push middle-age women into some dark forest and leave us there, which is a good thing if we can get that. But for most of us, that’s not on the table as an option. But what is on the table as an option is teaching the generation we’re raising now, Generation Z, to be tough and not tolerate bullshit like we did more than we ever should. I love Generation Z because they’re smart and have a great ability to see through the bullshit in this world. And they love Generation X’s culture (music, movies, tv, etc.) and have good culture of their own.

This coming week though is about me and how my own life story fits into the overall story of Generation X as written by a member of said generation. It’s a mix of what I did, wanted to do, and am wanting to be going forward. It’s about surviving, living through shit-jobs and shit-lives, and rocking out no matter what.

Weekly Round-Up and Uber Bits

Just tried this for the first time this week and it’s good!

Where in the world did the month of May go? It seems like time is flying now and I can’t figure out why. We’ve got wonky weather here in San Antonio (crazy-ass storm last night with blowing rain that knocked out power for me for about three hours- a power outage I slept through), people itching for summer to get started but every time it rains it drops temperatures to late Spring. But everything is lush and green here though my allergies sure do hate it when people mow the grass.

I’ve been on the road a lot this week and have seen on average at least two accidents a day, construction that pops up without notice, traffic jams for no other reason than people don’t know how to merge or where they’re going, and worst of all texting while driving. That last one I hate the most because who in the hell thinks they can do that shit behind the wheel? Newsflash to those morons: you can’t.

As a round-up of Uber, here are my bits from the week:

Standard questions every day:

How long have I been driving for Uber? Four years.

Do I like it? Yes then I talk about flexibility and such. In reality I really want to say: “Uh yeah, or I wouldn’t be doing it.”

Longest trip? Three hours from northeast San Antonio to about ten miles south of Waco- trip would have been three and a half hours if not for the toll road around Austin.

Biggest tip? Current record is still $100 after I took a guy to Austin’s airport from San Antonio’s airport because he’d originally flown out of there and his truck was there- he was incredibly generous even if he felt sorry for me.

Questions I don’t get asked so I’ll ask and answer them here:

Most indecent proposal I’ve gotten? Not many to begin with but the worst was the guy sitting in the front passenger seat who asked if he could masturbate in the car. Not only did I tell him ‘no’, I also asked him several times why he wanted to do that in the first place and the creep couldn’t answer that one. He was damn lucky we were close to his destination because if not I would have pulled over and dumped him out somewhere.

Most disgusting drunk passenger? Two-way tie between guy in the front passenger seat (I’ve pretty much banned front-seat passengers unless I have a fourth passenger because of this shit) who was drunk as hell and kept putting his hands on me. I flipped out and told him if did that one more time I’d stop and dump him out somewhere then call the cops and have him busted for assault. After that he shut the hell up and kept his hands to himself. Second one was this drunk asshole with two other dudes who talked a bunch of shit about himself (and proudly proclaimed he was a Trump supporter) who then wouldn’t get out of my car when we reached the destination. He asked me if I would date him and I told him ‘no’ and to get out of my car. This is why I quit driving in the evenings because drunk people are not funny- they’re disgusting as shit for the most part.

Best carpool karaoke? Two-way tie between the guy I picked up one Sunday afternoon who had a few but just wanted to sing along in the car. First song was by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) then ‘I Touch Myself’ by The Divinyls started up and I went with an enormous self-confidence I never have: “Oh, I’ve got this.” And I proceed to get down to that song and after we pull up to his place he sits with me till the mid-point of the song when he goes, “Oh crap!” and slaps something into my hand before he dashed out of my car. He put $20 in my hand on a $5 far (we weren’t going far). Then I picked up four guys one afternoon and they’d had a few but were really friendly and polite. Guy up front with me hooked his cell phone into my car radio and we sang along to country, classic rock, and even rapped along to Snoop Dog. In between songs, the guys told stories of their wild and misspent youth that had me laughing. Then we got to their destination hey invited me in for a beer but I declined since I had to keep working. Then one guy went, “Alright, let’s give this nice lady a big tip for putting up with us.” And they did ($20).

Best compliments: Being called the coolest Uber driver by a passenger for talking about something they’ve never talked about with an Uber driver. A couple of months ago it was baseball movies and yesterday it was New Wave/Punk music.

Here’s hoping today is a good day for me and you.

The Rest of the Way, Part Five: Age Is More Than a Number

I just turned forty-seven this month so for the next year my age will be a prime number. It wasn’t so bad because I get free stuff now on my birthday because of app on my phone (Starbucks and Taco Cabana). Personally, I’m looking forward to turning fifty when I can officially start getting my senior discount and my AARP card.

Yes, I’m looking forward to getting older. I know this flies in the face of the conventional-asshole wisdom of this world but here’s why:

One: senior discount. Yes, I look forward to becoming an old cheapskate though I promise with all my heart and soul never to turn into a raging Karen.

Two: Why not celebrate making it a few more years on this planet? Between pandemics, environmental catastrophe, and conservative politics, it’s a real battle these days to survive in this world. At least I’m past childbearing age so my uterus is off-limits to Republican legislators.

On the last seven birthdays I’ve had, I’ve grown contemplative and I look back and on each birthday I realized the following:

At forty, I realized I wasn’t such an idiot and that I was pretty good at taking care of myself.

At forty-one, I realized everyone else was just as full of shit as I was sometimes but I wasn’t a bad person either.

At forty-two, I was the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything for one year and said so long to my last call-center job.

At forty-three, I realized I liked gig work but that I was also sliding into a pretty deep abyss, too.

At forty-four, I didn’t release a smash-hit record like Tina Turner did at the same age but I knew I wanted to release a book someday that may sell a few copies.

At forty-five, I realized I had a pretty big storage unit in my mind full of crap to go through once and for all.

At forty-six, I cast the most important votes in my life in an election that came to matter more than any election ever had.

And at forty-seven I realized I have the advice I’ve been looking for and now I just need to really start taking it. And I’ve also begun to realize I’ve earned my hermit badge, too and that’s okay.

For me, age is a double-edge sword because on one hand I’ve always felt older than I was on the calendar because I had a lot of responsibility dumped on me at an early age. And on the other hand, I felt like I was treated like a kid who barely knew how to tie her own shoes by being told not to do this or that for some dumb-ass reason. So it was like grow up but you’ll never be seen as a grown-up.

But the thing I’ve learned most as I crossed the threshold into middle-age is that all those fucks I gave I shouldn’t have given out in the first place. Because they were disproportionally given to people who didn’t deserve them, or acted like ungrateful shits and were never satisfied with what you did give them. And because of that, I’ve realized I wasn’t put on this earth to work, suffer in silence, then die for some asshole.

Most of all, I’m not afraid of death. It’s coming whether I like it or not though I don’t know when or how and I’m not going to waste time thinking about that. I’m also not going to waste time thinking about what I didn’t do before because I’m not a time-traveler and I don’t have the ability to go back and change things. My goal now is to live in the present after having sorted out a ton of past crap and put all that past crap to bed in my writing.

My advice here then is this: don’t let your age stop you from doing something. Especially if you’re over forty because if you’re over forty or even past fifty, you’ve run out of fucks to give and you don’t get a refill on those. And enjoy your senior discounts.

The Rest of the Way, Part Four: Putting On Grown-Up Clothes

Recently I’ve begun to tell myself something that helps to quell some lingering anxiety and it’s this:

If someone has a problem with me, they can put on their grown-up clothes and come talk to me about it.

One of the things my anxiety does to me is get me thinking people are wanting to land on me but holding back waiting for the right moment. In reality, I’m over-thinking crap I shouldn’t be and that unless someone is madly in love with me or obsessed with me, they’re not going to think about me very much.

Now the roots of this date back to my time in call-center Hell. There I was mostly ignored until I did something wrong or when some customer decided to grind an axe on my back and give me a low rating. Then it was off the races and I felt like I was always looking over my shoulder. But that rat-race in my mind ended six years ago after being told I should have known better when I made a simple mistake that anyone could have made when I realized this about people in general and myself:

Everyone else is just as full of shit as I am sometimes, but I’m not a bad person either.

What this means is that no one has all the answers all the time even if they act they do or say they do. I used to think if I made a mistake that it made me the worst person in the world and it wiped all the good things I’d ever done. I thought if I could beat the crap out of myself first then no one else would do that to me. In reality, if someone mouthed off at me five minutes after they were done, they’d forgotten what they’d said to me in the first place.

I know I’ve been talking about a lot of negative shit here these past few days but this has been a large part of the work I’ve been doing on myself over the last few years. As an anxious over-thinker, I internalized way too much bullshit like this and have been working to extricate it from my psyche ever since. And one big thought is that I don’t need to sit around and clench my hands in nervous anticipation thinking someone is gearing up to make my life miserable. If someone is hesitating to come to me with some problem, that’s on them.

Now I’m not good at dealing with people or coming at them with something. And I’m absolutely terrible at asking for help. But I hope to overcome this to some small degree someday. But at the same time, if someone does have a problem with something I’m doing, they can come and talk to me about it. I have vowed to own my shit and blame no one else for my mistakes. All I want is to be given an opportunity to know what I did wrong and to fix it as much as possible.

Yesterday I talked about misdirected anger and one way this manifests is by passive-aggressive behavior. This is when someone hints at something then gets mad at you when you don’t put the rest of the pieces together even though you don’t have all the information you need. People who do this are freaking idiots at best and assholes at worst, including myself. With me, it was a fear of putting what I needed to on the table and getting blasted for it. This goes back to not being good at asking for help or stating what I want or need very well.

So I’m working on putting on my grown-up clothes (nothing stained or torn as my mother would advise me to wear) and doing my best to state my needs or ask the questions I need to. In turn, I’m also telling myself when I get anxious about someone lying in wait to land on me (when they’re definitely not doing that) is to tell myself that if someone does have a problem with me, they can put on their clean grown-up clothes and come talk to me about that. I’ll listen and take ownership of any mistakes I make.

But under no circumstances is it justified to make people think they have to be mind-readers when telepathy is still confined to the realm of science-fiction. And if someone does come right out and tell you what they want, need, or give you the information you need, don’t blast them for it. This ties back to yesterday’s piece of advice not to make someone your personal ass-cream. Clean clothes and all the words needed will do just fine. Or as my dad would say, “Grow the fuck up.”