Monday, June 30, 2008

Grown-Up Job

Sometimes the hardest part for me is the staying put part. I rebel so hard against structure and schedules and routine. I don't like to do anything in the same order I did it in the day before. For example: I mess with my alarm clock every night before I go to sleep just to make sure I don't somehow fall into an accidently complacent waking-up habit. It doesn't really seem like a terrible thing to have happen—a regular wake-up schedule—but for me that starts the slow walk toward death. (Okay, maybe death is a little dramatic, but glassy-eyed stupor might describe it.) And to me, complacency seems a fate worse than death.

A little bit of contented and settled might be nice once in a while though. Sometimes I walk really close to that line and get a short whiff of security—a heady scent in itself. It draws me in with its long finger and its warm blanket making alluring promises of stability and discipline and ladder-climbing. With whispers of dental benefits and 401ks and expense accounts. And really, what is the cost? Just a little bit of freedom, a tiny bit of autonomy, a small amount of choice, and a generous chunk of your soul. And many promises of, "It will all be worth it in the end."

That is, if this isn't it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Westley vs. Buttercup

Westley? Damn. That's unfortunate. I think Buttercup wins.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Meanderific Words

Here are some new and incredibly descriptive words provided by the multi-talented Quincie Bean. Webster's will be picking these up any time.

1. Weirtarded: That thing you call your big brother when he dresses like he's English and acts both weird and retarded. Also can be used to describe WalMart clothing choices.

2. Meanderific: Used to describe the journey when it starts out meandering and unplanned and ends with something terrific and extraordinary. (Like today's shopping trip ending at Pirate O's.)

3. Crapolatte: Best used in the place of f*** or S*** or whoops-a-daisy.

4. Lamesauce: What I am because I can't seem to remember this word long enough to even go home and blog about it. This one was contributed by Quincie's friend Alexa.

These are better than anything taught in Shakespearean slam class. Now you have, "Crapolatte, you are such a weirtarded lamesauce" at your fingertips.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Friendship Chain

I mark my life with my friends. Some people have scrapbooks filled with memories of their life, but my memories are almost all wrapped firmly around my friends. I collect them. Like a trail along my life, I mark every twist and turn in my path with the people I picked up along the way. And my life has had more twists and turns than the Snake River. From every wildly divergent, hair-brained experiment in rediscovery, I have a friend or two who keep walking along this meandering journey with me. Whenever I feel alone I just have to count back.

It started on the first day of first grade. I picked up my first very best, sleepover and giggling friend on that day. I have dragged her along with me through junior high, high school, living together in college and beyond. My life wouldn't be my life without her. When she and her little boy got in a terrible crash last year I thought about just how empty the world would be if she weren't in it.

From there I just kept adding to my collection. My first college roommate, the Statesman people, my mission buddies, the China crew, my world trip partners, the Habitours, the Covey crowd, the law school trio, the WOWs, my chakra sisters, the cycle chicks and Provo people, the daiquiri darlings, the book-club beauties, the boy brokers, the bunko babes and most recently my SunCrest soul mates.

This has been a stellar friend year. My mates on the mountain have already changed me and now my life just wouldn't be my life without them either. Lucky me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lizard Lips

My nephews and I found the cutest little, fattest little, shyest little lizard today in my backyard. It turns out he is a horny toad. You can see info here. He ran up and down our arms and walked around on our legs. He was just about as cute as my two nephews and their friend PJ. The boys named him Larry and loved the tickley feeling of his little toes on their palms. I hope he stays in my yard even though we scared him with our gentle examination.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

En Pointe

My young friend Quincie is the most beautiful dancer I've ever seen. She is breathtaking to watch on stage in every style and technique from tap to contemporary to lyrical to hip hop. She dances for hours and hours every week and competes all over the country. I can't wait until she is famous and I can say I knew her when she was just a little girl.

Tonight I was watching as she was breaking in her new pointe shoes. Literally. She was slamming these beautiful, pink, satin shoes in the pantry door, banging the toes on the cement floor and hammering on the arch. She even had to sew on the satin ties herself.

I think something is wrong here. It's a well-known fact that pointe = pain. And not the good kind of building-muscles-getting-stronger pain, but real pain pain. In fact, a quick search on Wikipedia includes a short list of injuries that pointe dancers can suffer.

Achilles tendinitis
Athlete's foot
Bruised toenails
Cuts between the toes
Dancer's heel (Plantar fasciitis)
Dorsal exostosis
Extensor tendinitis
Fungus nails
Hallux limitus and rigidus
Hammer toes
Heel bruises
Heel spurs
Ingrown toenails
Jammed big toes
Posterior Impingement Syndrome
Plantar warts
Sprained ankles
Stress fractures
Thickened toenails

I didn't make this list up, Wikipedia did. But it all sounds very bad to me. I think it's the pointe shoe's fault. The lovely pink satin wrapping is unfairly deceptive. Dancers cram their feet into these stiff, brutal foot corsets. They have to stuff the ends of the shoes with special padding or lamb's wool just to keep their toenails from falling off.

I think it's time to call Nike.

If boys were dancing en pointe the shoes would definitely not be this painful. Nike or Adidas or Reebok would have come up with a special pointe shoe that enhances performance and is much more comfortable. Come on! What about air pockets in the end that blow up and conform to the dancer's toes? Or some kind of springy rubber end with floor grips?

Solidarity girls. It's time to stand up and revolutionize pointe shoes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

There's No Place Like Wendover.

I’m wondering just exactly when you become one of those Wendover ladies. Do you sign up for the gig at the same time you sign up for your casino frequent-flyer card on the springy, yellow cord that tethers all the blue-haired ladies to the slot machines? Or do they give you the credentials the moment you step foot on the Wendover “fun” bus?

A more important question would probably be: do you know if you are one of those ladies? Or is that just one of those things you don't know you don't know?

I've commissioned my friend Kim to be the one to tell me to "step away from the slot machine" and forcibly drag me and my free cocktail out of there if I ever get close to joining the ranks of those terminally Wendover ladies. (Just for the record, Kim is much closer to becoming one of them than I am.)

So anyway...knowing I was stressed out, Kim decided a quick trip to smoke-bell-and-buzzer land would be just what I needed. So we packed our swimming suits and toothbrushes and headed to The Montego Bay.

That place put the swank in swanky.

Kim is so close to being one of those ladies that she got comped an electric blue, tropical paradise room with two king beds. We got mood lighting, our very own palm tree and dusky mirrors on two walls. I don't even want to think about what has gone on in that room.

Feeling pretty lucky, we skipped our way down to the casino. Kim has a theory about this certain progressive machine she wanted to test out and I was ready to pretend to gamble so I could take advantage of the open bar at the penny slots.

What I didn't know was that "Cocktails?" is really code for: "You are not in Utah any more, but the drinks are just as weak."

Just one of those weak drinks later I had already lost my whole stash of pennies and sat through a harsh tongue lashing and a lesson on casino etiquette from a couple of those ladies. It turns out that the "on-your-feet-lose-your-seat" rule most definitely does NOT apply to progressive, diamond, three-spin slots. Who knew?

I did learn a few new things from this trip though. I learned that just because it's a penny machine does not mean that you lose money slower. It just involves more math.

I learned that those ladies can play three machines at once while smoking with both hands and saving two machines for their mother-in-law.

And I learned that just because the pile of shrimp at the buffet is taller than you does not mean that you should try to eat your weight in seafood.

Oh, and I learned to never, ever, ever get one of those frequent-flyer casino cards. They are just pure trickery and lead only to becoming one of those ladies.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's All Perspective

A while ago my sister and I were driving down 4th North in Salt Lake when we noticed a man in a suburban in front of us kept turning around and shaking a little girl in the back seat. He was violently grabbing her and it looked like he was yelling. His face was getting red and he kept banging on the little girl's shoulder.

We couldn't believe it and started excitedly talking about what we should do. "Look at that guy up there, we've got to do something. He's hurting that little girl."

All of a sudden he pulled dramatically with two wheels onto the island in the middle of the street and jumped out of the car. We were stuck behind him and still trying to figure out what to do when we saw him grab the little girl violently out of the back of the car.

Just as we started to jump out to stop him, we watched him as he grabbed her around the waist and did the Heimlich Maneuver on her. A bright red jaw-breaker popped out of her mouth and suddenly she was breathing and smiling and they were hugging and crying.

This man turned immediately from a monster child-abuser in our eyes to the world's best SUPER DAD, saving his darling little girl from choking.

You just never know what's going on for people. It's all perspective.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Finely Honed Avoidance Techniques

I know I have an excruciatingly difficult decision looming. The best way to tell is from the cleanliness of my drawers and cupboards. I've cleaned out my sock drawer, my paper catch-all drawer in the kitchen, and my potting bench in the garage. They've never been so clean. I've even organized my random-cosmetics-hair-products-and-perfume-samples drawer. This obviously must be a gut-wrenching decision.

I've been perfecting the art of avoidance for years now. It started in college when I would notice how anally clean my bedroom seemed to get during finals. Things that hadn't seen the light of day since they were unloaded from my parent's car and stashed under the less-than-twin bed in my microscopic dorm room were suddenly aired out, fresh, and sparkling. The harder the exam--the cleaner the floor in the bathroom. The more intense the final-paper pressure--the more organized the shoe pile became.

It must have something to do with control. When my life seems a bit out of my control I need my environment to be tightly buttoned up. When my mind is cluttered, my spoons all have to be facing the same way in the silverware drawer.

It's a little psychotic I know. But I think until this decision is made, my house is just going to get neater. I'd write more about this, but my bookshelf is calling. Those books really should be arranged by topic and size. Don't you think?

Sex and the City

Here is a toast to incredible girlfriends, perfect cosmopolitans and fun new connections! I'm only a few short minutes late posting, but my girlfriends said it should still count as posting on Saturday when you consider the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law. I'm all about spirit baby.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Our Troubles Fill Us Up

I have two aunts who live within a few blocks of each other. They are best friends and have surprisingly similar lives. One bought a new house, the other bought a house around the corner. One got a government job, the other got a government job. One lost a bunch of weight, the other lost a bunch of weight. They look just alike and sound eerily similar on the phone. And their kids grew up practically as siblings.

But there is one big difference between them. My one aunt, we'll call her Emily, has a boy who is the All-American kid. He's tall and blond and athletic and the picture of health. The other aunt, we'll call her Anna, has a boy who is the same age, but had terrible health problems from the day he was born. His heart was backwards, on the wrong side, and full of holes. His spine was crooked and his lungs were weak. He started his young life with surgery after surgery that continued year after year after year. I remember watching my aunt Anna going through heart-wrenching stress and fear each time her boy would go in for another surgery. It never seemed to get any better and it was always one thing after another. It was a constant struggle to keep this little boy alive and well.

Then one day my Aunt Emily's boy got sick. The boy who had never been sick a day in his life was going into surgery. He had to have his appendix out and Emily was beside herself with worry. I remember thinking at the time that this should be no big deal for her. How could she be so worried and scared? It was just an appendix--people had this surgery all the time. And besides that, look at all that Anna had gone through with her son. How could that compare?

But then I watched Emily cry and pray for her son and I realized that her trouble--right then--was filling her up. I couldn't compare the trouble Anna had gone through with the trouble Emily was going through now. There was just no comparison. Her trouble, at that time while much different than Anna's, filled her with just as much pain and anxiety.

I know this is a long way to get to my point. But for me this experience illustrated how easy it is to judge other people's circumstances and compare. We say, "But my troubles are so much worse than hers." or conversely, "My troubles are so insignificant compared to hers."

But maybe we just can't judge trouble that way. Maybe whatever trouble we are experiencing at the time fills us up and the difference is really just how we choose to react to it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Laundry Lists

I love doing laundry.

I'm sure I wouldn't be quite as excited about it if I had 5-year-old triplet boys like my friend does. But it's just me and I like the whole laundry ritual. I like the way it smells, I like the folding and the sorting and the putting away. I'm not too keen on vacuuming and I absolutely abhor cleaning the bathroom, but laundry I like.

Plus, all the words that go along with doing the wash are great too. So, I decided to make a laundry list of laundry words.

1. Laundry list. (May as well start with that one.)
2. Dirty laundry.
3. Hang her out to dry.
4. Laundry basket.
5. Laundromat.
6. Money Laundering.
7. It will all come out in the wash.
8. Washed out.
9. All washed up.
10. Work yourself into a lather. (Okay, that's a stretch.)
11. Wash your hands of her.

You can add some when you think of them. Meanwhile I'm going to go fold clean towels.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No More Time for Milking

[Waking up John Book]
Eli Lapp: 4:30. Time for milking.

--From the movie Witness

I'm a milk maid.

Okay, that's not exactly accurate now because it's been years since I left the dairy farm, but my dad still milks cows every morning and every night at 4:30--twice a day, 365 days a year. Cows don't take a day off, so neither does my dad. And with very, very few exceptions, he hasn't take a day off since he started dairying in 1979.

So, imagine my surprise when he suddenly announced on the phone on Father's Day that he might have just sold his herd. SOLD THEM! Just like that. There are a couple of young farmer brothers up the road a piece who are looking for a herd. (I like to say, up the road a piece because it's just so darn farmy.) My dad just casually mentioned to his dairy rep that he may be ready to sell and a few hours later he got a call and then a visit from these next-generation dairymen.

My brothers and sister and I would all be pretty elated to see my dad take a day off. We have already started whispering about all the possible camping trips and fishing forays and basement finishing we could do with him. "Let's have him help us build a cabin." "Let's go on a cruise." "Let's have him just come and hang out with us for a while!" "Let's have him work on my car!" I don't think we can think of anything cooler than having our dad at our disposal for play (and some pseudo-work) time.

But sell the cows? It's kind of strangely bitter sweet. I have such a strong and grounded identification with being a dairy-farmer's daughter. My identity is tightly wound up around that. I'm not very patriotic about the United States. (Can't in fact stomach much hand-on-your-heart elitism). But get me talking about Southeast Idaho farm life and I get a little teary and sentimental. It's a hard life, but it's a good life.

I got to grow up with the best of both world's. I had an idyllic childhood with a cookie-baking, jam-making, story-reading mother and a father who was just outside when I got home from school. My dad has a Master's Degree and my mom's an RN, so I got an appreciation for education as well as a daily lesson on hard work. I'll never be able to thank my parents enough for that.

And no matter what happens to the cows in the next few weeks, I'll always be a dairy-farmer's daughter.

Monday, June 16, 2008

World Peace

My plant has a shiny new leaf.

I know this wouldn't normally be earth-shaking news, but hell, I have a blog now and I can write about any stupid shit I want. That's the beauty of blogging--the most inane things become monumental while world hunger, peace in the middle east, and the AIDS epidemic get moved right into that boring pile of...actual news.

Don't get me wrong. That leaf is a beauty. It's newsworthy. I've watched it unfurling for a few days now. It started out tightly wound and hiding behind all the big-brother leaves, but then with a distinct act of courage it poked its tiny, curled-up self right through the masses and started making its way. I think it knew it was shinier and greener and more capable of oxygen production that all those other average-joe leaves.

Then in an act of defiance it unfurled its glossy greenness and jettisoned around the corner of the wall so that it would be recognized as the rebel leaf that it is. It's the best really is. Most sunlight, better air and more focused, individual talk-time by me--its proud steward and conservator. This leaf knows how to get it when the getting's good. It's bigger, it stands up straighter, and it's out in front.

The thing is, it probably doesn't realize how much its individual success has benefited the entire plant. It gathered a whole lotta sunshine today and shared its photosynthetic abundance with the roots. It pioneered an exciting new direction and broke ground on uncharted territory. And better yet, it got noticed, which got the rest of the plant watered by me.

I love this leaf. If I had a camera I'd take a picture. I might even name it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I've been thinking a lot lately about stuff. Physical stuff, emotional stuff, relationship stuff and stuff stuff. I realize I'm a Johnny-come-lately to this whole blog thing, but there is some great stuff in the-land-of-blog about stuff.

Time Magazine just did an article about a guy who is embarking on a "100 thing challenge." This guy is cutting his personal possessions down to just 100 things. Here is a link to his blog if you are interested. The idea of getting down to the basics is very appealing to me right now. I don't want to waste any more of my time moving, dusting, rearranging, cleaning, fixing, monkeying with or taking care of stuff than I have to. At some point the stuff just seems to own you instead of you owning the stuff.

For a while now I have been going at this de-cluttering in a half-hearted way saying I only want stuff that I either use all the time or love. All the other just-in-case stuff has to go. But it's a lot harder than it seems. Getting rid of stuff responsibly take a fair amount of effort and planning. There is the sorting and the cleaning and the donating and the tossing and the selling and the trading and the giving away. But the emotional clearing and energy charge I get from getting rid of things is pretty addictive. It's a short-cut to an emotional freedom that's generally hard to come by--opening the door to fresh new stuff coming in. But hopefully less of the stuff stuff and more of the good stuff--the people stuff.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

And I went crazy again today,
Looking for a strand to climb
Looking for a little hope
Baby said he couldn't stay, wouldn't put his lips to mine,
And a fail to kiss is a fail to cope
I said, 'Honey, I don't feel so good, don't feel justified
Come on put a little love here in my void,' he said
'It's all in your head,' and I said, 'So's everything'
But he didn't get it
I thought he was a man
But he was just a little boy
Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh it kills
'Cause I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up
I got to fold 'cause these hands are too shaky to hold
Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love
~ Fiona Apple

The Heartbreaking Mr. Darcy

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saying Goodbye to a Journalistic Role Model

I can't think of another journalist I have admired and respected as much as Tim Russert. His death is an unimaginable loss and I feel it personally. As a former print journalist, I was indoctrinated with an arrogance and annoyance at broadcasters. We viewed the broadcast industry as journalism-lite and scoffed at the dumbed-down TV version of news. So, in order for a talking head to break into the status of "real" journalist, they had to have something more than a pretty face. Russert was the consummate news man, a tough interviewer and seemingly beautiful person--if maybe not a pretty face.

Political journalism will not be the same, especially this close to a historical presidential election. His skill in the television political interview is unparallelled. He could ask the direct and pertinent questions without being confrontational or disrespectful. Who can ever forget his famous whiteboard during the 2000 election fiasco. It's so iconic of his down-to-earth ability to relate to everyman (and woman).

Very few broadcast journalists can so much as capture my attention, let alone my respect, but Russert did and I'm sad to lose him as a journalistic role model.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Permission Preemption

I hereby revoke permission to comment on my life. I realize you feel it's your duty and god-given right, but without my consent your opinions are no longer legal. I won't listen when you tell me I'm doing it wrong. I won't comply when you try to get me to conform to a standard I didn't create. I'm done molding myself to fit into a box that is way too small and confining and I won't allow you to fabricate doubt.

Just because you live loudly and rowdily in my head does not give you the right to instill fear and loathing. From now on I'm only listening to the voices outside my head that make much more sense.

At least most of them.