dyna is here

Dyna came to visit us here in the Pacific Northwest. Us means me and Sarah, who is the friend who made the paella at my house a few weeks back. These details are not important. What’s important is that Dyna is the Gorey to my O’Hara. We were college roommates for a hot semester twenty years ago. Dyna is superlatively talented as an illustrator, and I apparently write novels, so Gorey : Dyna as O’Hara : Mo, and yeah, I know O’Hara was a poet, so shut up.

Here is a child-friendly drawing I made at the coffee shop:


I made a drawing that belongs on baby shirts, but Dyna, skilled artist, drew Lena from my book.

Dyna is ugly and a horrible person and has three breasts and a fart machine under her skirt. She burned my couch by looking at it with her evil butt eyes farting everywhere. She ate Massachusetts for breakfast and then had sex with Don Rickles.

(None of the above is true.)

Here is Dyna’s artists rendering of Lena from my novel: img_0079-jpg

As Portland is a very biscuit-drenched, I have been pushing biscuit-related foods on Dyna. Long ago, when we were very young, Dyna enjoyed a good biscuit, especially a chicken-in-a-biscuit sandwich. Dyna had opinions when McDonald’s attempted to compete with Chik-Fil-A by introducing their own rendition of the chicken biscuit. We walked by the Reel ’em Inn last night and I explained chicken and jo-jos, even though jo-jos have nothing to do with biscuits.

Dyna has thus far eaten one (1) biscuit. And 1/4 of that biscuit got thrown away.


you poor baby

This note I got from some dude on OKC hit at just the right time to piss me off. The online narcissistic abuse survivor group had been discussing the role of pity as one of the top tools of manipulation earlier that day, so when this SAD, LONELY guy wrote to me to tell me how miserable he is in his marriage, which he simply can’t leave, and could I help a guy out, a guy who is so sad and wants to feel alive again, just wants a woman to show him that life is worth living,


I was like, “OMG you did not choose ME to dump that on.”


Screenshot 2016-08-24 15.41.26

The thing that bugged me the most about that guy and his message wasn’t that he was cheating on his wife (and who knows what the story is there–I don’t believe able-bodied white men when they say they “can’t leave.” They either don’t want to leave, because there isn’t anything wrong with their wives other than they aren’t sexually exciting to them anymore, disrupting the house/kids would make them look like an asshole, etc. Unless she’s got a gun to your head, or you’re dependent on her income because you’re disabled, you can leave, buddy.). It wasn’t even that he was using this poor-me sob story to try to get someone to cheat with him.

No, the thing that bugged me the most is that some woman out there is going to fall for his pity party and give him what he wants. Some woman is going to believe that his misery is all the fault of his wife and open her nurturing mommy-legs to this man baby, never really asking what’s in it for her.

TRUE FACT: IKE TURNER HAD THREE WIVES AFTER TINA. That’s right, THREE women thought it was a good idea to marry Ike Turner when his name was synonymous with “beat the shit out of Tina.” Those three women were convinced they were different/special, Tina was the problem, and married THE GUY WHO IS MOST FAMOUS FOR BEATING HIS WIFE.

Wonder how Ike pulled that shit off? Maybe he used…PITY?

Men acting like little babies needing a woman to save them is very effective. It works! It worked on me! Poor me, no one will indulge my squicky kink (except that everyone did–that was a lie). Poor me, my girlfriend is sooooooo terrible will you be my much better girlfriend by never getting depressed and not asking me for any sort of compromise or to acknowledge that you have feelings of your own? Poor me, I never lie and my previous relationships failed because none of my exes ever took everything I said at face value and never questioned anything. Poor me, I lost friends for being poly, which is the word I use in place of “sociopath.”

These men are so masterful at pulling off the pity show that even WOMEN THEY ARE NOT FUCKING FALL FOR IT! Abuserface’s boss is so far up his ass that she once, completely seriously, told me she FELT SORRY FOR HIM BECAUSE HE HAD TO WORK. On one side of her mouth, she’d talk about how he actually isn’t that great at his job, but also that he’s so burned out and tired of it that she felt SORRY FOR HIM. FOR HAVING TO WORK FOR A LIVING. AT THE SAME JOB SHE HAS. AT HER BUSINESS. WHICH SHE ADMITS HE HAS NOT REACHED THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE PROFESSION. But still: she feels so sorry for him because no one has dumped a truckload of money on his front lawn for being so talented and deserving!


I get that this is very effective for a reason. I get that women are culturally attenuated to believe it when a guy they are attracted to, who is flirting with them, tells them “my girlfriend is terrible and crazy.” Because that means that you are so much different/special/better than this other woman who you don’t even know, and it’s fun to believe the worst about other women.

That whole “I just want someone who understands me” crap basically means “I just want someone who will put up with my bullshit unquestioned, who will endlessly sacrifice herself for me while asking for nothing in return.”

Got that, ladies?

If a guy’s marriage is making him soooooooo sad, then the question is, “then why aren’t you getting counseling or asking for a divorce?” The answer is he wants it both ways. The answer is he doesn’t think he has to be an adult and make a hard choice.

Narcissists and sociopaths are masters at the pity ploy. There is an entire chapter of the book The Sociopath Next Door about the manipulative uses of pity–one guy makes his five year old son feel sorry for him and uses him to make sure that the child’s mother doesn’t kick him out of the house, even though he was a mooch who quit his job and then acted like a the world was against him when he couldn’t find another one (hint: he wasn’t actually looking for a new job) and when she protested the expectation that she allow him to function as another child in the house.



This works because the worst thing a woman can be is not-giving of herself. Not being there to fix things. And if you’re not there to bare a milky tit of emotional labor, then he can just go out and find a woman who is.





the foremothers of smith lived to be very old

This past week, about a thousand alumni of my alma mater called me some variation of “awesome.”



“You’re a fucking rockstar!”

“I need to meet you. We would so be friends!”

“You are a queen!”

I think I sold some books based on a single posting I made in the online tea group.

I mean: yes, I am a rockstar. A queen. A national fucking treasure.

To women. Who went to a women’s college.

I don’t discount that, but the people in the world who are most like me are, well…like me.

Value-less thought of the week: Stovedump dumping me made me think a lot about Laura Woolsey Lord Scales, Smith Class of 1901. There is a dormitory on campus named after her.

No, really.


The foremothers of Smith (Ada Comstock, Mary Ellen Chase, Eleanor Duckett, et al) all lived to deliciously ripe old ages. Laura Scales wins for longevity, as she lived to see her 110th birthday and missed her 111th by a few weeks.

Laura Lord was married to Mr. Scales for only four years. He left her a young widow, and she spent the rest of her life in service to Smith.

Ada Comstock married in her sixties, after retiring as president of Radcliffe College.


(NOTE: I fucking love that photo of Ada Comstock rocking her Class of 1897 Ivy Day staff like a boss. I know exactly where on campus she is standing–in front of Seelye, with her back to Seelye Lawn and Dewey House. Neilson Library is to the left as we are looking at Ada. And OMG CAN WE GET CLASS SMOCKS FOR OUR TWENTIETH REUNION?)

Mary Ellen and Eleanor were a couple, though to what extent that was known or accepted back then I do not know. But there goes the legend of why their houses are connected in the back.

But all of them lived to be really stinkin’ old. There’s a picture of 108-year-old Laura Scales on the internet and whoa, she looks all of her years, but they must have been good ones for her to keep having them.

Laura Scales might have lived to 110 because of great genes, because she jogged and ate fruit and rarely spent a day doing something she didn’t want to do. Being at Smith her whole life might have had something to do with it–why leave Paradise for Paradise, right?

There wasn’t some man asking Laura Scales for his dinner, or being weird about her commitment to being the Warden of Smith. (The Warden is now the Dean of Students, but imagine, if you were a Smithie in the 1920s and 30s, it was to Mrs. Scales you would go to to have her sign the slip that said your parents grant you permission to go motoring off-campus with boys.)

She read books and signed slips and maybe drank port with Mary Ellen and Eleanor. Maybe she had lovers–she never would have let the record of history show that. Unlike me and probably you, too.

I don’t want to live to be 110, but she had to have been happy to hang on that long. Smith probably had something to do with that. Maybe she was awesome and funny and smart and people loved her, and that’s all she needed.

At Smith, one of my archives jobs was to do errands for Margaret Grierson, Class of 1922. (I almost typed ’22, but the Class of 2022 is about to rear its born-after-I-graduated head). She was 97 when I’d walk to her apartment and ask her a million questions about Smith in the 1920s.

She had no idea why she was still alive.

She was married for eight months in the 1930s, and she devoted the rest of her life to the Ladycollege.

The scientific answer to the science of female longevity is, obviously, never leave Smith.

They dragged me out of Baldwin House kicking and screaming. I lost my voice and use of my legs the week after graduation. Seriously: I couldn’t walk for, like, three days. I laid on my bed at home-home and watched TV and cried and crawled to the bathroom. I remember my family ditching me to go to Disneyland. (Little Bro was seven at the time.)

I bet if I swore off men and took a teaching or administrative post at Smith, stayed until I retired, and then moved into a Smithie-occupied retirement villa, I would live to be 120. Easy.


OMG, I saw a guy in Portland obviously out on a date with a woman ACTUALLY WEARING A T-SHIRT that said “I BRING NOTHING TO THE TABLE.” ACTUALLY WEARING A SHIRT THAT SAID THAT.

I bet I would be shunned for wearing a t-shirt that reads “I BRING A LOT TO THE TABLE.” Or I’d get some sexist snark, like “BRING A SANDWICH TO MY TABLE.”

That Smithie retirement villa is going to have one hell of a table.



fish balls

It’s a good thing that my most erudite friends, Sarah and Johnnycakes, had their long-scheduled convergence upon Portland this weekend, or I may not have been able to indulge so much time with other graduates of elite colleges who have read so much and can overanalyze everyday issues, bask in self-awareness, and speak to each other in a variety of world languages over a smattering of entrees from Pok Pok, including a yellow noodle soup full of both pineapple and fish balls. I had to be reminded of who my people are this weekend, and Sarah and John are the platonic ideal of Who My People Are. Why use just one language when you can use three plus a made up one? Current events? Si! Also: dumb fart memories of youth.

Here they are. Mo’s People. Imported from other points along the west coast! Faces of care and concern, and also of unbridled erudition:


My first impulse after the gentleman formerly known as R. Stove escaped my island of whimsy was to look into applying to PhD programs. There might be some classism behind that doctor of philosophy knee-jerk, but he did say I made him uncomfortable. I wondered about all the things about me that made him uncomfortable about me. I have my assumptions after a life of people reacting to me badly. The Michigan diploma on my wall? My vocabulary? That fucking 180 IQ? Talking about my agent? My film deal? The fact that I threw most of my previous life away to be able to write? I don’t drink much? I think centering your life around partying past the age of 23 is kinda lame-o? I worked really, really hard to not make my PTSD situation apparent, or an issue, because god forbid anyone call me crazy ever again?

Members of my community, including about a thousand Persons of the College on the weekly tea website, declared to have my back through this break-up, at which point I encouraged them to direct their vague threats of fake violence at the abuser, not at R. Stove, because at least R.S. didn’t abuse me.

Dating after surviving: you’ll sing this in the streets: AT LEAST HE DIDN’T ABUSE ME. AT LEAST HE DIDN’T ABUSE ME. HE DIDN’T ABUSE ME. I WASN’T ABUSED.

That’s a fucking low bar, of course. But it’s a bar you’ll love. It’s covered with marshmallows stars and dreamy pillows. The bar of He Didn’t Abuse Me.

But the good news is, folks, I did everything right, was incredibly careful, and was entirely reasonable thanks to the rearrangement of my neurotransmitters such that I do not fall in love anymore. I can like and appreciate someone, love them in the quiet way, but googlies? Nope. All gone. And I’m fine with that. The loss of the googlies. My googly bank account was drained and I’ve come to terms with the loss. It’s fine. Googlies, my brain tells me, lead to abuse and abuse leads to PTSD, and PTSD leads pills and therapy and to dating someone for little other reason than they’re not abusive, not ugly, not entirely unintelligent. Even if they’re not exactly like you. Even if th

When you’re a single-issue voter, you don’t get hurt.

Sarah and John and I celebrated twenty years of friendship this weekend. They say that the friends you make in your college years are the ones who remain the most special to you your whole life, and that adage is true. I think of all my college-era friends (mostly Smithies, and even the Smithies I became friends with after Smith, or who are older/younger than me and were there at different times, have a certain quality that feels like home–to clarify, Sarah and John are friends from my one-semester stint at Wesleyan.) and how we can go years without a face-to-face meeting and still pick up where we left off.

We knocked over that lefse cart on Belmont. So much lefse. Buttery/sugary.

Sarah made an abundance of paella, as she recently traveled to Espana and returned with a box of pimenton and xocolata. (Xocolata never turns out the same in the U.S. because our milk is full of crap.)


She bought legs-on shrimp and Washington clams for this saffron-y feast.

Team Erudite also consented to a lengthy line wait at Salt & Straw. I had parsnip sorbet. (PORTLAND!)

I’m going to leave you all with this video of David Richo. The thing I learned from dating R. Stove is that if you are dating someone and are afraid to give them a copy of Richo’s landmark book How to Be an Adult in Relationships, because you knew deep down they’d be threatened by it/wouldn’t read it and it would turn into one of those “did you read it? No? When are you going to?” things, you should probably just jump ship and go look into doing a Fulbright.




the pesky periphery

Narcissistic and emotional abuse! The topic that just won’t quit!

Time to address the Pesky Periphery of People you end up having to deal with if you choose to say “hey, this person was abusive towards me, and that’s why I refuse to be in their lives anymore.” These are friends of friends, or possibly new friends of this really great guy that they like, but have heard through the grapevine that he has been harmful to others.

But he’s so nice to me! I just can’t see him harming another human being.

Confirmation bias is the tendency for humans to seek out information that confirms what they already believe, or already want to believe. This is why you click on yet another article on how Trump said some atrocious thing, because you want to have your belief that he’s a trash fire confirmed. If there was an article with the headline TRUMP DONATES OWN KIDNEY TO HOMELESS WOMAN, GIVES MILLIONS TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD, you’d be crying bullshit all the way.

But he’s good friends with my friend! So that confirms that he’s not abusive!

Like the Wikipedia article on states, confirmation bias’s “effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.”

So here’s what we’re playing with:

“I do not believe I am a bad person + because of that I believe I would never have friends who would abuse others + this person has not abused me = this person is not an abuser.”

“If this other person is saying that they were abused by this person + I don’t know this other person very well = I am not a bad person, therefore they are lying/exaggerating/unreliable in some way.”

There’s also the icky inherent sexism that we, as a culture, often have a harder time believing women.

She must be crazy to say that.


Here’s some advice from me on what you should do if you happen to end up in the same space as the person who called out your friend.

  1. LEAVE HER ALONE. This shouldn’t be hard except it is. If you want to go on being friends with an abuser, go right ahead. But don’t draw a survivor, especially someone you don’t know very well, into a conversation about it. Chances are, they don’t want to talk about it in the first place, but expecting them to “offer proof,” or bullying them into “forgiveness” is unacceptable.
  2. IF YOU CAN’T HELP YOURSELF AND NEED TO FIGHT FOR YOUR VERSION OF REALITY: remember the following: a) Abusers are human beings like everyone else, i.e., they contain multitudes. b) Abusers are going to be charming, kind, decent people out in public. c) You don’t know for certain what goes on in other people’s relationships. d) There are other types of abuse besides physical. You can’t see the effects of emotional abuse. e) There is already so much pressure to “keep the peace” and look like a nice person that if someone was hurt badly enough to actually say something out loud, it was probably out of fear and in the interest of self-protection. f) Abusers don’t abuse everyone they know, nor are they abusive from the beginning of a relationship. They build trust first.
  3. BUT THIS PERSON MAKES ME SO ANGRY, CALLING MY FRIEND ABUSIVE! Again, you’re free to have a relationship with someone who is abusive, who doesn’t abuse you. You can also own a gun and drink Mad Dog from a paper sack. This is America. But this person who you don’t know very well or at all had a very different experience with this person, which caused them a lot of harm, and in a lot of cases (at least in mine) required years of professional help. You know how not everyone in the world loves you? Or likes you? Expect that others have a range of experiences with an abuser, and that in this case, it dipped pretty far down in to the dark side.
  4. MY FRIEND SAYS SHE’S A CRAZY LIAR! AND I BELIEVE THEM! Great! Leave the crazy liar alone. An abuse survivor has better things to do than use her limited energy to try to convince you of something you’re not willing to believe anyway. If you’re looking for a fight, look elsewhere. Leave them alone.
  5. BUT I’M A NICE PERSON AND SO ARE MY FRIENDS! Okay, well, Ann Rule wrote that it took her months before she came to believe her friend Ted Bundy was a murderer, even though she had access to police evidence, and they remained friends even after he was put on Death Row. Life’s complicated, okay? I’m just asking you not to be a dick to someone’s face.

Anyone looking to play an unwanted game of Confirmation Bias Smackdown with me will be summarily told to scram.

“But he’s/she’s/they’re my friend!” needs to die.

UPDATED 8/15/16: Another thought: by being friends with a known abuser, you’re basically vouching for them in your community. So you’re actually enabling their abuse of others when you sit there with your “he’s my friend” and “he’s nice to me!” You’re making it hard for other victims to come forward and expect any kind of support.
But you know, this is America, so you’re going to do what you’re going to do.


ADDENDUM FOR THE POLYAMORY COMMUNITY: I get that there is a certain level of defensiveness built into being poly. You don’t want people to think you’re a cheater or a perv, and are constantly on the defensive for people who want to claim that your lifestyle is immoral or untenable.

HOWEVER: I’m sick to death of hearing the line, “You knew he was poly” to excuse my abuser’s abuse, or to make me think I somehow deserved it.

It suggests that you believe that someone who gives themselves the label of “poly” is therefore categorically incapable of abuse.

It suggests that this self-given label means that this person is completely honest and ethical within those relationships 100% of the time.

It suggests that when you enter into a polyamorous relationship, that your complex human feelings completely disappear, or that your partner and the greater community has every right to expect them to.

So when you challenge a person on their proclamation that they were abused and you decide this is an opportunity to go to bat for polyamory? Because all people who claim to be poly are ethical and responsible just by claiming the label?

Confirmation bias is one hell of a drug.






my heart on high

A long time ago, early Austin years (2000-2001), my friend Omar gave me a CD of Jeff Buckley bootlegs, and a song from that years-lost disc popped into my head unannounced, so I had to spend an hour or so online tracking down Jeff Buckley bootlegs to find “How Long Will It Take,” a twingle-twangle Buckley tune that belongs to its era pretty hard. All I remembered, besides the twingly base line, was the line “my heart on high,” which Jeff sings falsetto.

So that my soul can be filled with joy. My heart on high!

Fuck yeah, July is over and August is so far pretty dang sweet! I have returned to my North Portland office space for the remainder of the year to finish up MP (new novel) and gaze out upon Most Favorite Street, through some trees, down onto the gorgeous people below.

Hung-like-Mt. Rainier superhuman sex bobomb Ron Stovepants* took me to one of our urban beaches last night for a sunset walk. I was improperly shod–R. Stove had on his black canvas sneakies and I was wearing leather-on-leather ortho-sandals that filled with coarse sand, making me wobbly on our descent down to the beach, which is on a river, not an ocean. I removed my sandals, but then I kind of regretted it, as this beach was not the cleanest, safest beach. I kept my eyes trained on the sand while I stepped over the following:

*sharp shards of shell

*broken bottle glass

*cigarette butts

*bottle caps

*rusty bottle caps

*sharp rocks

*a dead fish, yellow-silver scales, with its head mostly eaten away


*a full-sized canoe

This is not a beautiful beach, but R. Stove did provide me with a lecture on the subject of flotsam vs. jetsam, and we sat on a large hunk of concrete and contemplated a lonely, short tree growing out in the middle of the Columbia River surrounded by flotsam and/or jetsam.

R. Stove let me use his person as a balancing post while I fiddled with my shoes and swiped the dirt off the bottoms of my feet.

Prior to this, we had a moment of kismet at a pho restaurant. Neither of us ordered pho. R. Stove’s entree arrived smothered in green vegetables. Green veggies are my jam, not his, so I was like, “did you really order that broccoli-festooned entree?” and then mine arrived and he was like, “ooh, what’s that?” And I lustily purloined some of that broccoli and he was all wanna trade? And I was all YES I DO. So we traded and my heart was on high.

He ordered D-12 which was advertised as “stir-fry noodles with beef, chicken, pork or shrimps.”

Ugly beaches are okay. R. Stove calls it the hobo beach. I saw no actual hobos.



*R. Stove, in his humble way, is amused by this hyperbolic, outsized descriptions of himself on this here blog, and I fear I’m topping out on “hung-like-Mt.-Rainier.”


Bestie Jules, aka Julie G., aka “my friend in Austin who runs Bedpost Confessions,” moved with her family to Ashland, Oregon, earlier this month. When the Austin exodus suits me by placing my dearests within easy driving distance, I am into that. What I am not into are Oregon’s highway rest stops along I-5. They offer no luxury, and the women’s restrooms were often two-or-three-seater situations that had longish lines waiting for use of a commode. The commode itself was often a sparse metal edition, hence, deserving of the word “commode.”

Last night, after hugs and snacks and hellos and a brief driving tour of Ashland, Bestie Jules and I went off to do one of my most favorite things, which is to sit naked in a pool of geothermically warmed mineral water. Here in Ashland, there are two venues in which to do this activity: one, a fancy “resort” whose buildings are fresh and modern and looks like there are lots of stacks of fresh white towels. All of their signage is in a clean, sans-serif font. Jules told me they are a popular wedding venue.

Then, across the street, was where we were going, which was like driving into a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Soap. The verbose blue bottle and its teachings seemed to be everywhere, as was the smell of what I assumed was the burning of ceremonial herbs. The air smelled like that Dr. Bronner’s scent that I never buy, with the brown label, because who wants to smell like a burned tree all day?

The hot springs are housed in some sort of mish-mosh spiritual center place with lots of camping. The lawns were scattered with various tents, tipis, and the occasional yurt. Tibetan prayer flags were the only flags flying. Yoga is taught here, and there was an active drum circle upon our arrival. There was a statue of Ganesh overseeing the whole enterprise.

For a hot minute, Jules and I almost ditched the idea of going to this hot springs. Not because we were put off by the rustic hippie-ness of the place, but because as we pulled in, a shirtless older man driving a pick-up stopped and gave Jules and I A Look. A piercing look.

“Grandpa Earl wants to fuck us,” I told Jules when I pointed out the glint in this guy’s eye after he drove away.

We did not want to fuck Grandpa Earl. It was in that moment which lasted all of two seconds where I realized that even though it was Clothing Optional hours at the hot springs, I would opt for clothing. My bathing suit was wadded up in the back seat and lo, I would be wearing that bathing suit because Grandpa Earl gave us fuck-me eyes in the parking lot.

Do we ever feel good about locking our valuables in the trunk? I’d say no.

Jules and I took our required pre-soak showers in highly sulfuric egg-fart water and then ventured outside into the tub area.

There is a hot tub and there is a swimming pool. There were signs stating that this was a healing environment and to not talk loudly, which harshed my mellow because I was with Bestie Jules, which is an opportunity to be funny. I lowered my voice, though. While catching up. When stating that the place looked like the second best health spa in Sarajevo. The pool was of an old-style concrete construction and was crumbling and there was multicolored rotting spots here and there. I’ve never been to a health spa in Sarajevo or anywhere in Eastern Europe, but in the pool was a portly Slavic-looking gentleman, and he looked very serious.

Jules and I hung out in the hot tub for a spell. Grandpa Earl was not horndogging about. (They have rules against sexual activity, so whatev.) Our comrades were all clothed until the elderly gentlemen with the large, glinting-in-the-sunset Prince Albert entered the hot tub. “Everyone has a secret,” said Jules. Not that we go around staring at old men who we assume are free of penis piercings.

The hot tub had jets shooting out very hot water. It was a hot day and although the sun was going down it was still a hot, sweaty endeavor. I had read somewhere that people who live in places where there are trace amounts of lithium in the water suffer less depression. Indeed, I felt a lilt in my mood. Maybe it was the lithium. Maybe it was Jules. Maybe it was because I stood up and got a big, hot squirt of water on my lady area and started laughing even though it kind of hurt.

Seriously, I had a great time and would go again. There is no one I would rather scald my pussy with than Bestie Jules.