Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How does one write about...dementia.

Frontotemporal Degeneration or FTD is an evil disease.

The thing is, you know something is wrong but you can't put your finger on it. Then you get a weird phone call asking to borrow a lot of money. Then you find out a parent spent all their retirement savings.

You have logical conversations with the parent, they sound intelligent and engaged.

And then through a long series of events, they end up in a Geriatric Psych ward at a hospital local to their Assisted Living facility. Fortunately the head of department finds him interesting and takes his case. This is where we are now, and we're waiting for enough information to make a decision about where my Dad will get the care he deserves.

What this disease does to people is brutal. Unless the peers or loved ones understand the illness, they can react poorly. Even with knowing that it is the disease talking, it is easy to get reactive.

The best thing for the FTD person is a solid plan, patience and reflecting back in a positive way. Agitating the person is bad for everyone. This is challenging to most people, especially with a loved one...and sometimes the most loving decision is to let the professionals do it.

It has been very challenging for my Mom. We're finding out what the options are, Dad gets released on Thursday.

I'm going to do a short bike tour to support a rad 12 year old raising money for the Sierra Club/Climate Change. Then I will go to South Carolina.

Dad's Happy plate! dad on bike

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kill Bill fun at Dr Sketchy's SF

Last night we had Mercy Beaucoup model for us as Beatrix Kiddo, from Kill Bill. If you are familiar with Vol. 1, the major supplies required to successfully render this character are yellow and RED.

For blood splatters, of course.

I think a super fun time was had by all. Everyone's work gravitated towards anime and anyone with watercolors splashed 'blood' all over their page. It was fascinating to see this phenomenon. Totes fun.

I liked my drawrrrings.
Mercy Beaucoup as Beatrix kiddo from kill bill #drsketchy #drsketchys
Lord have Mercy!

Diane and Olivia with blood splatters #drsketchy #drsketchys
Diane and Olivia, and blood.

 Beatrix Kiddo
This one feels a little stiff, but alright. I'll take it. Beatrix Kiddo 2
This was my favorite. Some of the proportions are off, but oh well. Still like the watercolor bits. I am likely my hardest critic.

If you like, there are more drawrrrings here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/drsketchyssf/

We do this every first Tuesday and third Tuesday. Next up is GI Joe vs. the Transformers. For real.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hit the reset button

The last 18 days have been very informative.

First of all, I have a lot to be grateful for...I have not had major sicknesses or injuries since I was a kid, my body is strong, I live in a transit rich area. Getting around without a car or bike is not a big deal, just have to refuel the Clipper card more often and budget more for transportation.

Having an injury give me more empathy for those who are challenged with mobility issues every day. My parents for example.

Two weeks of taking MUNI buses and trains were a nice reminder of why I commute on my bike. MUNI is fine, most buses for the commute were respectable and people were well behaved. I was bothered by one driver who kept driving in the bike lane and beeping at cyclists, likely because a bus beeped at me creating a sense of urgency right before I hit the tracks. I logged a complaint with 311.

Also, the mind does a lot of crazy shit when one goes from being really active to having an injury. My anxiety has been really high, no doubt due to less activity, and there is this flipping of the mind from 'should I push and do this'? or 'should I rest'? Fuck it is crazy making. I'm aware that my injury was not major, and my brain still did this. It is unpleasant.

Today my doctor gave me the all clear to do whatever activity I want. She wasn't restricting me before, it was up to me as to how much I could move my knee. But now I have some reassurance. Antibiotics will be done in 5 days. There is no need to amputate. Just kidding. There was never a threat of that sort of thing.

I got on the bike for the first time Saturday. At first the knee felt really stiff and I didn't want to bend it all the way, I found myself scooting back on the saddle to keep my leg straighter. The thing that was bothering me the most was how tight the bandage and my jeans felt at the bendiest point of the pedal rotation. There is a slight amount of mental trauma from the accident, but I'll work that out with my therapist eventually.

There is an overnight camping thingy this weekend. That should be fun and hopefully it will sort out the lingering anxiety and bullshit.

Endurance training and meditation have taught me to return to the breath, start over, hit the reset button.

Then roll on.

Knee is a little stiff so I'm taking it slow #rivendellbikes #samhillborne #sanfrancisco

Friday, July 05, 2013

Complicated Interest: Style

I have been interested in style my entire life. When I was a teenager, I used to pull the pages out of magazines and stick them on my walls. I felt somehow more 'me' when surrounded by reference and inspiration.

Color, shoes, fashion, pattern, style. Dark, sexy, handsome, pretty, thin, conflicting, well considered, appealing. Things that I thought were cool. People whom I thought were pretty. Musicians. Bands. Oh they all had a place.

I used to pull future concert listings out of the Indie/Artsy Atlanta paper Creative Loafing. Then I would post my ticket and any articles about the band as well. My walls were my story.

Making this space devoted to my interests kept me inspired and maybe sane. It definitely made me feel like I was figuring out who I was and what I liked. It was always difficult to find my voice in my family and in my life. From the outside, we had the typical American life...2 kids, 2 parents. We ate dinner together, we lived in the suburbs, it seemed normal and happy. But I wasn't happy. My mother was always ill. My family did the best it could. But I wasn't happy.

Asserting some control over my style and activities finally made me happier, or at least more fulfilled.

And oh did we show it during that era of post Punk, pre Goth. Our uniform was black tights, mary janes, plaid skirts, black sweaters, thigh highs, baby doll dresses, cat eyes, asymetrical bobs, Ghost World-ish I guess.

Right now I really love JCrew, Madewell and classic American sportswear. I like color. A lot. This has been a big shift for me as my go to tended to be...black. Pattern and I still don't understand each other. But I am determined to play with pattern matching. There is inspiration on my wall!

I have always appreciated well made, well tailored, beautiful things. Art pieces if you will. Especially bags and shoes. I firmly believe that you can wear jeans and a tshirt, but have great hair, shoes and a bag and be well put together.

In my 20s, I liked to shop for clothes on the weekends but it often left me feeling unhappy. Whatever missing piece that was looking for something couldn't find it in the shops. The newness only lasted so long and I got into debt. And out of debt. Twice.

Therapy helped me see my unhappiness for what it was. I uncovered the buried family stuff and gave it light. Meditation is helping me see that I suffer, like everyone else, from the human condition.

The question was and is, how to have long lasting and beautiful style in a sustainable way? Also how do I find clothing that fits well and brings me joy? What will continue to make me happy after the newness has worn off? How can I do this and also be healthy financially?

All of these questions led me to start making my own clothing. This made me a little happier. The hard part there was altering commercial patterns to fit. When one has an ample bust and hips one must change patterns. I find altering patterns to be very confusing.

A pivotal conversation was had one day with someone who has influenced a few of my choices, Gwen Lutz. Gwen went to Apparel Arts and studied pattern drafting. She also completed AIDS/LifeCycle last year. She designs patterns for Nooworks clothing and styles bicycle fashion shows.

Gwen talked to me about slopers and moulage and I had no idea WTF she was talking about. I was intrigued. I explored Apparel Arts and deciding to give it a shot. And 6 months later I can make skirts that fit me perfectly. JOY.

Another problem that I was trying to solve is shoes. I have wide feet and discerning tastes. I can tell you that there is no venn diagram where these two factors overlap.

I was influenced by this book to look for locally hand made shoes, but was coming up with high dollar signs for people who make custom shoes in SF. Enter Gwen again, she had gone to Al's Attire for her wedding shoes. Al's is very reasonable.

The process of working with Al and Sarah and Kelly was awesome. Custom hand made doesn't always turn out perfectly the first time, and this was the case. However, I am very pleased with the final product.

These shoes are the culmination of a lot well considered ideas:
• they sustain a local artisan/company here in SF/North Beach
• they are very well made and should last me for many many years
• they are repairable
• they fit me perfectly and are very comfortable
• they are beautiful and stylish
• I got to choose every detail

Pin this one up on the wall, babycakes. This is how it is done.

New shoes day! #alsattire #custom #local #handmadeThe label says: Alice Stribling @alsattire #handmade

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Last Wednesday I got my wheel stuck in the tracks on Market Street. Thankfully, I didn't break anything, I didn't hit my head and there were no cars involved.

I got 5 stitches on my knee and I get them out on Monday.

During my time at home, I was able to keep tabs on the riders doing the Gold Rush RandonĂ©e or GRR, a 1200k grand randonnĂ©e put on by the Davis Bike Club. A couple of Randonneurs that I have met were riding, and it was really cool to cheer them on from my couch and watch their progress on the site. It was also cool to see the SF Randonneurs' Google Group cheerlead their progress from David to the Oregon border and back.

The attitude that it takes to commit to and complete a brevet is fascinating. Along with chaintools, spare tires and zip ties, one needs tenacity, the ability to roll with punches, and a mental list of the criteria for when to quit. Oh and one needs a solid foundation and speed, which requires time devoted to training.

I feel like I'm just on the verge of understanding. I wanted to come out of ALC with no mental hurdles around what is possible on the bike. I find Randonneuring much more meditative and sometimes lonely than ALC.

We'll see what happens when I get my stitches out. I do miss the landscape.

Oh and this happened:
Roma Mafia at Dr Sketchy's.