Friday, December 25, 2009

Xmas Dinner Review

Via text...from Jeff...

"I don't think that you heard me
as I drove off in the night,
The meal was delish'
and the evening a delight!
The pork was amazing and oh!
what a duck!
The event overall
was funny as..."

Many thanks and much love to everyone who joined me on the Victorian Christmas Feast adventure!! Happy Holidays & a FABULOUS new year to all!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Traditional Victorian S#@t!!


I have finalized my sanity-challenged Victorian dinner menu (sans goose--I was denied!):

Oysters
Liver Pate
Cheese & Crackers
Mini-caprese appetizers (NOT traditional)
Roasted Duck with Port Wine Sauce
Apple-stuffed Roasted Pork Loin
Roasted Brussels Sprouts in Cream & Butter
Sage & Onion Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Macaroni & Cheese (NOT traditional--for kids)
Christmas Pudding with Hard Sauce (butter, sugar, rum, brandy & white wine) (Jeff will set on fire!)
Cranberries
Chocolate Ganache Cake (courtesy of Terri & her awesome cake ways!)
Shrub (traditional brandy & orange juice punch)
Kid punch
Eggnog
Wine
Soda

Last weekend Savannah & I boiled the pudding & mixed up the shrub. Today I will make the pate and cranberries.

It should be awesome--or an awesome story if all else fails!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Buy Underwear! Underwear! Underwear!

Oh the traffic outside is frightful
But the sales are so delightful
And since we've no time to spare
Buy underwear! underwear! underwear!

It doesn't show signs of slowing
And the bills just keep on growing
Santa greets tots in his chair
Buy underwear! underwear! underwear!

The shops will close for the night
But I still have some treasures to find
I shall never win this Christmas fight
So I'll just have a drink (they won't mind!)

My patience is slowly dying
And yet, I am still buying
But until I've reached all I can bear
I'll buy underwear! underwear! underwear!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Joyful Noise


Last Friday nite I went to Darien's Holiday Piano Recital. As my eyes fought their way through a sea of balding dad heads, I was able to watch this boy--who I took care of for the first six months of his life, who would always stop crying when I sang "Hey Big Spender"--make beautiful music all by himself.

Terri & Jeff didn't have designs to make him play the piano. He just sat down at his grandparents' piano one day and showed a natural aptitude. I've listened to him practice on the Fridays I pick him up from school, and I've listened to him try and beg his way out of practicing.

In his tie and starched, white shirt, sitting at the piano and arranging his sheet music, he looks so grown up--and his face shows an expression of concentration and focus that I've rarely seen unless inspired by Disney or video games.

The thing about piano recitals is that you really only care about the kid you came to see--but you have to sit through all the other ones too.

Gabi's Holiday Choir Concert was tonite. She loves choir, and music is the one thing at school that feels right to her. Every time there is an audition for a solo, she tries out--sweaty palms, tummy aches, and other nerve-riddled side effects aside. And every time she doesn't get the part.

Until tonite.

Tonite Gabi had a solo in "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." It was more of a comic, acting-type solo than a singing solo, but still it was hers--and she was perfect.

In fact, the choir as a whole was pretty darn close to perfect--it was the best they've ever sounded. Every song was pleasant to hear and entertaining.

A bonus that we were unaware of before we arrived (Gabi had a slew of supporters show up to cheer her on--thanks everyone, it meant the world to her!) was that the school orchestra AND band would also be playing. All in all there were 16 songs performed--and Gabi's choir was only six of them.

When Savannah was in the orchestra in Jr. High, I was always shocked to hear them play at their concerts. They weren't horrible. They were actually enjoyable most of the time--a phenomenon that never ceased to amaze me.

The program showed that Savannah's former orchestra teacher was now the teacher for BJH's orchestra (Savvi went to a different Jr. High). That gave me hope.

My hope was mislaid.

God love them, the kids and the teachers poured their hearts and souls into each number, but no one knew when to say when. Mrs. Kravanic forced these kids to play lengthy (I mean L E N G T H Y), lethargic, dissonant song after lengthy, lethargic, dissonant song.

As I was considering the sad circumstances (or mental disease) that drive one to become a Jr. High School music teacher, Savannah looked at me--revelation written all over her face--and said, "I think THIS is why I hate Christmas music."

I almost peed my pants.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yes, [Insert Name], There IS a Santa Claus!

It's sort of insanely reassuring in an infuriating way that no matter how old my children get, they can still find ways to nitpick and nag and annoy one another mercilessly and with extreme prejudice.

Savannah's car overheated again and she needs to take the bus tomorrow. Gabi's been dreadfully sick and miserable for four days. Those things can make even the best of us grumpy, but tonite their disdain went into full bloom--each in the other's direction.

Christmas used to come with the fool-proof promise of effective threats that could be flung by me (at them) at will. With Santa quite clearly out of the equation, what weapon do I have?

Losing their belief in Santa Claus has resulted not in tearful nostalgia for young innocence lost, but in parental impotence at naughty behavior.

As they hurled snarky (and downright ridiculous) taunts (oozing sarcasm tinged with mean) at one another like the final match at Wimbledon, I could do nothing but pour a glass of wine and creep up the stairs to hide in the warm, soothing womb of my bathtub--where I wouldn't be able to hear their nastiness.

I want my tale of woe to be a warning to other parents: NEVER LET SANTA DIE!!

I know, I know--I got sick of the fat guy stealing all the credit for my hard work, empty bank account and awesome Christmas morning experience, too. But, believe me, it's all worth it when you can elicit a Pavlovian response from your children that results in pleasant attitudes and considerate behavior at the threat of losing their good standing with Kris Kringle.

Am I romanticizing things a bit? Maybe. But this one fact holds true: parents need things with which to threaten and terrify their children. Santa has proven one of the most effective ways to fulfill this need. Don't let your kids' belief wane before you have found an apt replacement.

It's never too late to use hollow threats and (let's just admit it) bribes to manipulate our children. After all, they are the future--we owe it to them to remain strong and deceitful (all in their best interest, of course) and indulgent. So, Fellow Parents--heed my call--keep Santa going as long as you can! After that, it's all up to us.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Naughty List

Marius put me on the Naughty List this year. After putting everyone else we know on the Nice List--I got relegated to the Naughty List. So, in honor of the occasion, I thought I'd come up with some of the top reasons why I may be on the Naughty List this year:

Bloglessness:
I have failed to make good on my "blog a day" proclamation. Friday and Saturday were entirely blogless. I have many reasons and excuses for why, but it's still naughty.

Felicidal Thoughts:
Casper is extra stir-crazy because of the weather. He sits and looks at me and whines. And whines. And whines. I fantasize about doing many, many evil things to him--most of them involving me throwing various implements at his head from across the room.

Road Rage:
Today as I drove up and down the SLC freeways--from Fruit Heights to Sugar House and back home--during the worst weather we've seen so far this year, I swore a blue-streak at the pompous, self-involved SUV-driving jackasses who think that a) the laws of physics couldn't possibly apply to them and b) that their asinine driving practices don't put everyone else on the road at risk. I hate them.

Holidays on Ice and You Better Not Cry:
Oh, and don't forget The Stupidest Angel. There's no heartwarming "Night Before Christmas" or "Polar Express" on my Christmas reading list. I relish the pithy, cynical take on the holidays as presented by my dear, dear favorites David Sedaris & Augusten Burroughs. Not only do these tales of yuletide woe and wonderment from the naked, dirty world of reality make me laugh out loud, but they pull at my little heartstrings as well--Augusten even drove me to wipe away a tear after something he said "got in my eye."

Lying to Little Children:
This may actually be a contributor to Marius' judgment. I have told him (and his brother Darien) a variety of untruths over the past year (all in good fun of course, and to motivate them to behave well, etc.). My favorite being that if they didn't start keeping their hands to themselves, I was going to chop them off. When they didn't believe me, Terri joined in and told them that their hands would be added to my collection. Now that we were in the zone, I decided to continue embellishing the tale. By the time we were finished, Savannah and Gabi were on their fourth or fifth pair of hands each: their current ones are robotic. If those boys didn't leave each other alone, they were going to become cyborgs just like my girls.

I'm sure that there are many other reasons for me being placed on the Naughty List, but those are the top ones that sprang to mind. Feel free to share your reasons for my Naughty List status or your arguments for why I might be able to slide onto the Nice List--there's still time for my fate to be changed!

Holly Jolly & all that Jazz! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's not for me...it's for a friend


Today I bought something I never thought I would buy.

I was talking to Shal on the phone when I found myself standing in front of the "as sold on TV" section at my neighborhood Wal-Mart (I KNOW!!!).

Shal is getting ready for her 3rd annual pervy Christmas party with her work colleague Jason. Every year he throws a bash and the featured attraction is who can bring the most disgustingly perverted and sexually deviant "white elephant" gift.

Last year I went shopping with her. We thought her gift (including certain anatomically correct lollipops and a very wrong edition of 'poetry' magnets) was hilarious and TOTALLY naughty--but it fell flat at the party, and she ended up taking it home because no one fully appreciated our tongue-in-cheek deviancy.

While Shal was bemoaning her fatigue in the face of yet another dirty holiday party gift exchange, I was struck with inspiration at the Wal-Mart Wall of TV-schlepped crap.

I suggested that she consider taking a gift that only sounds dirty, but really isn't. Hoping, once again, that the apparently mentally-challenged party guests would get the joke. I started naming off items.

"Smooth Away: Works Wonders on Sensitive Areas!"

"Ped Egg: Designed to Use Anywhere with No Mess!"

"Bumpits: From Flat to Fabulous in Seconds!"

Before I could continue, she stopped me, "Did you say Bumpits?"

"Yeah, Bumpits."

"They have Bumpits?"


(Now I was getting scared.)

"...Yeah...Why? Do you want one?"

"Actually, I do."


I almost dropped the phone.

"How much is it?"

Shal continued to explain that she wanted the Bumpits as a gag gift for another colleague at work. She also mentioned that she had been at another Wal-Mart earlier and hadn't seen the mind-bogglingly appealing Bumpits.

Needless to say, I offered to pick up the Bumpits for her. When I approached the cashier I felt like a kid buying condoms for the first time. Obvious, naked, and an object of lightly-veiled sniggering mixed with a slightly shameful jealousy.

As I handed my pink Bumpits box to the cashier I was overcome with the desire to blurt out, "It's not for me! It's for a friend!"

Amazingly, I held my tongue. I mean, come on--who would ever believe it?

Walking out of the store, pink box of shame secured within my giant purse, I called Shal.

"I've got your Bumpits in the bag."

Her exuberant laughter was my reward.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...


Today was mighty, mighty cold.

Tonite was even colder!

I took the opportunity to wear a pair of leggings under a pair of tights under a pair of knee socks under a pair of riding boots.

On top of all that I layered on a wool scarf, a velvet jacket, a knitted cap and cozy gloves.

Amazingly enough, I didn't end up looking like Frosty the Snowman--I retained my girlish figure!

Other than cuddling up under flannel sheets and down comforters (or snuggling next to a hot, crackling fire), I love layering on the warm, wooly, fuzzy, cozy, heavy layers and textures that are only really appropriate in atrociously freezing weather.

I like the feel of my scarf nuzzling my neck.

I like the smell of my gloves after getting a little bit too wet scraping off the car or throwing snowballs at my girlies.

I like that achingly subtle itch and relief after taking off my cap and giving my head a thorough scratch.

Then, after peeling off all of those layers, rubbing out my hair, and stripping down to my birthday suit...dipping that first toe into a hot, steamy tub and settling in for a nice candlelit soak with a hot chocolate or a glass of red wine.

Yes, the cold makes us contract and shiver and shake...but it gives us the best excuse to get close, layer up, and turn up the heat.

What more can you ask of a winter's day?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

For the first time in my life I am singing and smiling in the wake of a major dump of the fluffy white stuff.

Although I have lived in it all of my life (ALL. OF. MY. LIFE!) I have no real use for snow.

I don't like the cold. I don't like driving in it. I don't ski. Well, I did try downhill once (I basically flew down the mountain really fast & then crashed to stop) and cross country once (I'm just not in that good of shape--it's hard!), but I'm really more about looking cute and sipping a drink next to a fire.

I will go sledding (like, maybe once a year) and I dig ice skating--but is snow really necessary for that?

There are only two reasons that I have ever been happy to see snow: Christmas and when it covers up all the ugly left in the wake of Winter's cruel and unusual punishment of everything.

However, for some unknown reason, I am in a good mood that started a couple days ago and is still going strong--even in the face of my buried car, stir-crazy cats, and winter wear strewn across my living room, stairs, and dining room table.

I scraped off my car to go buy ice melter for the porch and sang a jolly tune as I worked away. I stepped carefully across ice (so much more slowly than my usual quick pace) and smiled at those I passed instead of muttering my impatience under my breath.

I even noticed the amazing sparkle in the snow dragged into my house on my boots and thought for a minute I must be hallucinating because the dazzle was SOOOOO dazzling.

Snow blindness is something I've heard of, and I must be experiencing it because I am actually grateful to see the snow today. The frigging freezing temps we've been having (with nothing to show for it) were beginning to get to me.

If I'm going to be freezing my ass off, I want something tangible to blame--and a bright, sunny, blue sky is not good enough. In fact, it's downright confusing. When Savannah was about three years old, one frigid, sunny day she burst out the front door in her bare feet and no coat as I watched her look of exultation melt into one of horror.

She didn't understand.

It was sunny. The sky was blue. How could it not be summer? She looked at me and, with an incredulous look on her face, said, "Has this ever happened before?"

Sadly, I explained to her that it had. And it would happen again. And again. And again.

But not today!

Today we got our reward for living in these gorgeous mountains--a healthy dose of Christmas Cheer dumped right on our doorstep from the heavens above.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rock, Paper, Jesus



Since Christmas is the day we observe the birth of Jesus, then I thought it would be appropriate to commit at least one entry to Him that has nothing at all to do with the holiday.

Marius, my little friend who many of you may remember from Halloween (I'm not really Spiderman, either), is a seemingly unending source of quality blog fodder.

The other day he and his brother, Darien, were playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. Marius is the kind of kid who always likes to win--and will bend the rules as needed to ensure his victory. Sometimes this passionate quest for glory ends in smiles and laughter, and other times it ends with violence and tears.

On the auspicious occasion of the game in question, Marius' determination to win was as vibrant as ever. After several turns of winning and several more of losing, he decided he had had enough.

Terri was half-way listening to the interminable rounds of Rock, Paper, Scissors, when she heard something she didn't expect.

Darien and Marius were saying, in unison, "Rock...Paper..." and when it was time to reveal their weapon of choice and see who came out the victor, she heard Marius say (without a hint of mischief, if you can believe it!) "JESUS!"

When she asked him what he had said (just to make sure she had heard correctly--she had) and why he had said it, he told her "Jesus beats everything!"

Darien thought it was unfair, but Terri (Christian woman that she is) couldn't help her firstborn out this time--she had to agree with Marius' insightful (if devious) observation.

So many parts of me love this incident. I think of how many times in my life I've been playing a futile game and needed to cry out, "Jesus!" Foolishly enough, I have to admit that I probably don't pull that card as often as I should. But, every time I do--even after months (or years) of ignoring His willingness and eagerness to answer my call--I always win.

Fa la la la la...la la la la

(Okay--this is kind of a cheat, but my stupid Internet was freaking out last night, so I had to improvise. For those who saw this post last year, enjoy again--for those who did not, hope you like it!)

I love Christmas music. I like the jazzy, jaunty tunes by Bing and Ella and Andy Williams. I like the traditional carols, beautiful and reverent (although ALWAYS a bit too high for me at some point!) I like the Mickey's Christmas CD that my girls loved to hear over and over when they were little.

But this year, my most favorite type of Christmas music is a sub-genre that I've discovered: "Pervy Christmas Songs." And it is more pervasive than you might think (if you're listening for the right things, that is!) In the spirit of the season, I offer this gift to you--my top three Pervy Christmas Songs--for your enjoyment:

#3--Santa Claus Is Coming To Town: This classic children's favorite boasts among its famous lyrics, this key pervy line: "He sees you when you're sleeping/he knows when you're awake/he knows if you've been bad or good/so be good for goodness sake." I think that the Santa of this fine tune must have been the inspiration for the obsessed stalker in the Police song Every Breath You Take. And not only does this cheery tune boast advanced stalker imagery, but there is the lightly-veiled threat at the end about being good...or else.

#2--A Kiss A Toy from the 1970 animated TV classic "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town": Every year Gabi and I hold our own version of MST3K and make merciless fun of this ridiculously silly show. We impress ourselves with our ability to come up with new witty barbs each year and, of course, pull out our favorite insults from years past. ("You must not play with toys children, you must play with fire!" --Gabi) But the piece de resistance of this entire production is the song Good Ol' St. Nick sings to the sad children of SomberTown. "If you sit on my lap today/a kiss a toy is the price you'll pay/when you tell what you wish for in a whisper/be prepared to pay/so give a little love/get a little love back/" Do I really need to say anything more?

#1--Baby, It's Cold Outside: Don't get me wrong--I LOVE this song. It's one of my favorites. However, it has become impossible for me to listen to the persuasive insistence of the "gentleman" without thinking of it as the consummate date-rape song. The more the woman insists on leaving, the more he pushes her to go against her own wishes. He offers her booze, the threat of freezing to death, and pushes her to feel guilty with lines like "How can you do this thing to me?" It's a textbook example of how to NOT take no for an answer.

So, at this most WONDERFUL time of the year, take a few moments to lend a different kind of ear to your favorite tunes and see what fun discoveries (and perversions) you can discover!Happy Holidays!!! :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Deck the Halls!





Today we Christmased up the place.

I love decorating for Christmas. I always have.

I remember hounding my mother to let us decorate the house. She was always reluctant, but I loved to be able to mine for holiday treasures. No matter how many times I came across the ice cream cone ornament I made in second grade or the rocking horse I got from Japanese business men my dad had entertained for work one year, I delighted at the sight of them again and again.

It was like drinking something really bubbly and feeling those bubbles travel across my tongue, down my throat, past my heart and finally settling somewhere near my belly button.

I still have that same feeling when I unpack the Christmas garb that my girls and I have collected over the years.

This year everything is kind of awesomely tragic for me. It's Savannah's last legally-obligated year to live with me, decorate the house with me, be home for Christmas. As I looked at the different ornaments and pictures from the Ghost of Christmas Past that I like to display every year, I couldn't help but feel the tug of times a-changing.

After my divorce I decided that we needed a new Christmas tradition that wouldn't leave us hemorrhaging from the gaping hole where our former family structure used to be. Since the tree had always been a pretty significant part of our Christmas ritual, that's where I focused my attention.

I thought it would be cool to get everyone their own, personal Christmas tree. I had seen darling, potted Norfolk Pines at the grocery store and wanted to get three of those instead of one big tree. After a little convincing (and bribing them with new lights, garland, etc.) the girls were on board.

When we got home from picking out our trees and decorations Gabi, in all her innocent excitement, proclaimed, "This is better than when Dad was here!" It broke my heart.

Since that first year of multiple trees, we have alternated between one big tree and three small ones. This year, we went with the little ones. Savannah and I decorated ours today--Gabi is going to get to hers when she doesn't have a better offer to occupy her time and attention.

Now, I'm sitting in the glow of Christmas lights, listening to holiday tunes by Frank, Bing and Ella, and I feel those same, familiar bubbles traveling downward to tickle my belly button.

Please Put a Penny in the Old Man's Hat...

Savannah has adopted Jesus this Christmas.

She figures this makes her the Virgin Mary.

At Weber State the Salvation Army put up an Angel Tree, and Savannah (after perusing the names of the children hoping for an "Angel" this Christmas) couldn't resist the appeal of 14 year-old Jesus (we know it's 'Hey-seuss' but the correlation is irresistible!) who wanted a remote control helicopter and needed winter clothes.

Savannah snatched Jesus off the Angel Tree and went straight to Toys R Us to answer his Christmas wish for a helicopter. The helicopter tapped out her unemployed high school senior budget, so she decided to ask for contributions to get Jesus a winter coat.

I decided that there was room in the figurative inn of my Christmas budget to take in Jesus.

Savannah and I went to look for a coat. I had doubts about whether a coat actually fulfilled the requirements of "winter clothes." I felt that if he already had a coat, another would be useless to him--but jeans and a sweatshirt are something a teenager can always use more of.

After listening to my brilliant argument in favor of actual clothes to meet the need of winter clothes, she agreed.

That was the easy part.

It is difficult enough to pick out clothes for teenagers that you live with daily (Gabi) let alone guess what some unknown Jesus would think was cool. We didn't want to give him clothes that he would feel foolish to wear--or worse, would NEVER wear!

We didn't want to give clothes that seemed like they were for someone who was "needy." We didn't want them to seem stereotypically picked for a kid named Jesus, either.

This was tricky.

After ruling out most of the clothes we came across ("Grey is too depressing." "That's totally a skater shirt--what if he isn't a skater?" "It's a football team, I don't even believe in football!"), we finally settled on a pair of distressed, relaxed-fit jeans--they even came with a belt--a red hoody that was a skate brand, but not overbearingly skate-ish, a grey thermal shirt with a cool design on the chest, socks & gloves.

We felt pretty proud of our outfit and were sure that Jesus would be proud to don this gay apparel come Christmas day.

Then we showed Gabi.

She was hiding her smirk behind her hand.

"What?"

"Those pants are...different."

This from a girl who only wears skinny jeans--and I mean skinny. Apparently, from where she's sitting in her skin-tight legwear, it looks like everyone else is buttering up their legs and jumping off the roof to get into their pants too.

I believe that skinny jeans are a lifestyle choice--and one that no one else can make for you.

Savannah delivered the goods to the keepers of the Angel Tree, and we'll never know if Jesus digs his new duds or not. But I kind of think he will.

Savannah is a girl whom I worried about in her younger years. I was afraid she was becoming a consumerist monster. She got everything she ever wanted, and didn't seem thankful for any of it. She would tear through the packages, give the gift a cursory glance, push it to the side and ask, "Next?"

For that little chica to have grown into a young woman willing to spend all her extra cash on a remote control helicopter for a kid who has it worse off than her, I have to believe in miracles.

And she's spreading the love this year--making Christmas a little bit merrier for a teenage boy who will get the toy he really wanted and an outfit that will not only be warm, but (hopefully) something he can wear proudly.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Goose is Getting Fat

I have a wild hair up my arse about creating a traditional, Victorian English Christmas dinner this year.

The cornerstone of this fantasy dinner should be a goose; however, I have found that finding a goose ain't that easy. I can get one online for around $105 plus shipping, and Terri found a frozen one at Target for $50. This seems like a big investment for something I'm not sure will even taste good.

My mom suggested that I find a hunter. She cooked goose one year and the bird was able to grace our table courtesy of her boyfriend at the time who had shot it himself.

Considering my friends and acquaintances, I quickly deduced that I was unlikely to find a hunter to provide my holiday goose.

Then a Christmas miracle happened.

I was working on a project with another consultant at work, and she informed me that her husband was gone for a week. When I asked her why, she said that he was hunting geese in Montana.

"Really?" I asked. "Geese?"

"Yes, do you want one?" she answered.

As I eagerly confirmed that I did, indeed, want one, it slowly dawned on me that if her husband was to deliver a goose to me I would have to deal with it: feathers, innards, head.

Was I that committed to my idea of a traditional, Victorian feast? Did I have the stomach for it? Part of me instantly felt certain that I could--and WOULD--do it. I would be amazingly, mind-bogglingly, genuinely triumphant in my quest to take an actual animal and turn it into something served beautifully on a festive platter.

Then I thought about it some more.

I started determining who I knew that could do the dastardly deed for me and return the bird to me looking more like food and less like wildlife. I made plans to ask for a second goose from the husband so that I could use it to barter my way out of de-feathering the thing myself. I began calculating how I could come up with the money I previously eschewed spending on the gamble of a goose in order to pay someone to de-goosify the goose.

Even without me doing the hard work, this goose quest was turning out to be quite a pain in my stubborn, determined arse. In the bright light of freshly-hunted bird reality I don't know what I'll do if I actually get a dead bird delivered to me. But I'm pretty sure it will be memorable--and, hopefully, tasty.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas is Coming...


December is finally upon us (actually, it came amazingly quickly this year) and I can now launch unabashedly into the holiday season—belting out jaunty Christmas tunes and swigging back the eggnog, wassail, or other festive beverage to which copious amounts of alcohol can be added!

My darling daughter jump-started my Scrooge-after-the –ghosts enthusiasm with her naked, heartfelt confession of love and gratitude at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

We were able to spend this Thanksgiving with our urban family at LaRiesse’s condo at the Gaystone. Thanks to her girlfriend Michele (whom Terri has aptly dubbed the Martha Stewart of lesbians), we were all able to sit down together at one long table—and there was even a butter dish! (you had to be there)


As we started to dig into the hodge-podge collection of traditional and non-traditional fare (sushi, bourbon sweet potatoes, ham, risotto & funeral potatoes) Shalamar suggested that we go around the table and have each person share what they were thankful for this year.

It went along smoothly, humorously, and sincerely—and then there was Gabi. She brought the table to tears.


She decided to say what she was grateful for about each person at the table. Jeff was seated to her left and she started with him.


“I’m thankful for Jeff because he is like a dad to me when my dad isn’t there.”

She went on from there and said equally wonderful things about everyone; however, as I recall this a week later (with tears glistening in my eyes) that’s where my heart—and my memory—stops.


(I will be posting a blog a day until Christmas—so don’t forget to check back or subscribe!)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not Real Brains?


I went trick-or-treating tonite with my best friend and her boys. Terri was doing her makeup for her mummy costume, and even though I had decided not to dress up, when I watched her turning her already pale face even paler, I wanted to play too.

Zombies have been my secret shame as of late--I'm really digging the ravenous un-dead. I decided that being a zombie would be perfect because they're just regular people who are dead. And gross.

We deadened-up my pallor and blackened my eyes, but one thing was missing: blood. In a pinch, Terri found some old red, gel frosting in a little tube. It was perfect. I smeared it over my mouth and down my chin and decided I was done.

Marius was hiding in the living room and I decided to go show him my face. His eyes almost popped out of his head.

"What are you?"

"A zombie."

"Why do you have blood on your mouth?"

"Because I eat brains."

"Gross."

He continued to be fascinated and disturbed by my face throughout the night. He would look at me intensely and then gesture toward my mouth and say things like "freaky," or "you need to get rid of that right now."

"You really don't like this, do you?" I asked him.

"No."

"It's not real."

"Not real brains?"

"No," I couldn't help but laugh, "Not real brains."

He leaned close to me and whispered, "I'm not really spiderman, either."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The first day of snow...

O, curse-ed day when snow first flies
O, dreaded sky my heart screams “why?!”
Your wet, white flakes fall down with scorn
Such a cruel welcome to a new day’s morn
I will try, but to no avail
To keep my cool, and not to wail
And, against your truth I will close my eyes
To hide my sorrow and drown my cries
As my boot-ed foot steps out with care
Into the (ugh!) squishy wet everywhere

Monday, October 26, 2009

You can take the blonde out of the hair, but you can't take the blonde out of the girl

I was getting ready to sink the orange ball in a corner pocket (I'm a real pool shark!) when Crishawn walked up and handed me my cell phone.

"You need to talk to Savannah," she said. "She can't find the car."

We were spending the weekend in Park City at Savannah's grandparent's condo to celebrate Crishawn's (Savannah's aunt) birthday. We had just finished the birthday feast and Savannah was heading down the canyon to take Shalamar home (her pesky pooch needed tending) and spend the night in her own bed for easier access to her 8am class at Weber in the morning.

Three things immediately went through my mind:

1-Savannah hasn't looked far enough up the road for the car

2-She accidentally parked in a towing zone and we got towed

3-Someone stole the car (but WHO would bother to steal THAT car?)

Savannah had parked on the street after driving back into the city (with her grandma) on the night of our arrival to rescue Crishawn from running out of gas. Since she had returned, we hadn't moved or even checked on our car, but we both swore that we had seen it that morning as we left to get lunch and take a drive to Sundance.

Cell phone pinned to my ear, I walked out into the crisp, fall night in my bare feet, quizzing Savannah as I went: "Did you lock the car?" "Maybe you parked it further up than you thought." "Did you park in front of a no parking sign?"

As I met her (and Shalamar and Abi schlepping all their bags and other weekend getaway detritus up and down the empty, dark, sharply inclined street) where we thought the car had last been seen, I just couldn't fathom what to do next. I felt strangely calm--and somewhat giddy.

Savannah looked at me pensively, pleading for mercy. We hiked our booties up that hill one more time.

I could not see my car.

I did not see a no parking or tow away sign.

I shrugged and sort of laughed, and kept saying, "I just don't know what to do."

There are times in life when, for no very good reason, your common sense takes leave of you. Hopefully, when that happens, someone else's common sense will charge to the front and take over. Savannah and I met Shal, Abi, and Grandpa Bob at the bottom of the hill. Grandpa Bob was the bearer of common sense.

He and I both discussed the possibilities, and reviewed mine & Savannah's trek up and down the hill. We both said over and over, "I just don't think anyone would steal that car--do you?"

We walked back to the front desk, and Bob asked for the number of the towing company that usually tows around there. As he waited on hold for either confirmation or denial of my car's towed status, I felt my mind drifting away...my auto insurance policy floated by: "full coverage" it said. Even though I knew I would only get what my car is worth, I didn't think I could end up worse off. We had another car--Savannah's. We live right by a FrontRunner station. This wasn't so bad. In fact, having the car stolen would be better in the short-run than having to come up with the money to bail my car out of towing jail.

"You don't have it?" Bob's confident voice jolted me back to reality. "Okay, thanks. I'll try them." Three towing companies later (and one call to law enforcement) yielding no results, we decided to hop into Bob's car and take another look around--this time with the advantage of headlights.

We drove up the street that just minutes ago Savannah and I had scoured. Discouragingly, our earlier assessment was confirmed: the car was not there.

For the hell of it, we decided to drive down to the next street and look there. We hadn't even rounded the corner when those brilliant, BMW headlights landed on our crappy car. Cheers rang out amid several "Hallelujahs!" and at least one "Praise Jesus!"

Savannah had just forgotten on which street she had parked the car. She felt foolish. She was relieved and embarrassed and that led to copious tears. Later, when I called Jeff and Terri to share the excitement of the evening, Jeff (amid raucous laughter) immediately knew what I needed to tell Savannah to make her feel better: "You'll have to tell her about the time you and Terri wandered around five levels of the parking garage at Crossroads Mall for an hour-and-a-half looking for the car."

How quickly the mighty/haughty/gleefully entertained do fall!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Midlife Crisis?

Lately certain concerns have been expressed by my teenage daughters. Concerns that lead them to question whether I am having a "midlife crisis."

Their concerns include the following:
1. Nail Polish: I have been painting my nails in fashionable, trendy colors
like emerald green and midnight blue
2. Skinny Jeans: I have some skinny jeans and I wear them tucked into boots
3. General Teen Scrutiny: e.g. "What's up with your hair? And those boots? And those shorts?

There are a few times in the past ten years or so (sadly) where I have felt like I've been in some kind of pre-midlife crisis--mostly times when I felt compelled to uproot my career and pursue something more "fulfilling."

But painting my nails--and wearing jeans, boots, and shorts--doesn't feel like an outlet for middle-aged rebellion or lost-youth nostalgia.

I asked Terri what she thought. Thankfully, she affirmed my assessment--stating that my nails and jeans seemed "like me," not like some desperate facsimile of me trying to reclaim a piece of my past.

Upon reflection, I had to agree with her. I think that my kids have just started to notice me. As a person. Not just their mom. I think they are seeing me as a woman who has a sense of self-expression and style that they just never noticed before. I think part of them actually likes it, but another part is kind of freaked out.

I don't exactly remember the moment I realized my mom was an actual person--not just some idea of authority and security that constantly buzzed in the background of my life like white noise. But I know that the realization led me to view my mother with more generosity than I had previously. I hope that my kids' realization will lead them down the same path--that this initial judgement and recoiling will give birth to understanding and appreciation.

But maybe that's just wishful thinking. Or, knowing me, I might be skipping right past midlife crisis and jumping straight into dementia.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some days "pretty" is all you have

I woke up with a niggling feeling of dissatisfaction and ennui.

My alarm didn't go off. I stubbed my toe on the corner of my bed. And I had to find different shoes to wear because my throbbing toe wouldn't fit into the ones I had planned to wear.

On the freeway I was behind a blockade of idiots and all that was playing on the radio was Nickleback, Nirvana or Miley Cyrus.

When I was almost at my exit I realized that I left my jump drive at home and had to turn around and go back to get it.

My gas light had come on the night before and it nearly blinded me with its glare as I raced home to retrieve said jump drive.

I finally got to my borrowed desk and sat back to catch my breath and take a swig of water. It missed my mouth and dribbled down my neck, chest, stomach.

A few minutes later I basically stabbed myself with my pen as I edited a document and left an indignant ink mark on my right breast.

I threw my pen down on my desk and stomped down the hall toward the bathroom to assess the double-whammy damage of my drinking problem and attempted stabbing by writing instrument.

On my way back (after limited damage control) I heard something completely unexpected:

"You look pretty today."

Four words.

Four words that stopped me in my tracks. Made me smile. Helped me catch my breath.

I sat back down at my desk and started fiddling with one of my bracelets. It instantly burst into an inconcievable number of tiny beads and baubles--sprayed all over my work area.

I tossed my head back and let out a laugh that may have been a symptom of dementia

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Hope My Neighbors Love Their Children Too

As someone who is not of the political or religious majority in Utah, people are often surprised to find me defending Utah against the stereotypical ideas that people tend to have about the Beehive State. However, when things happen like the recent upset over the "I Pledge" video shown by the PTA at a local elementary school, I wonder why I ever wasted my breath.

"So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."


Those are the opening words (spoken by the President of the United States) of the controversial video that five parents out of 850 complained about and led to a formal apology by the principal and a permission slip being sent home to allow students to view an educational address by the president encouraging setting goals and working hard.

My kids never brought home a permission slip for a presidential address before--and I would have been appalled, even when George W. was the Commander-in-Chief. I didn't like him (at all), but he was the leader of our country and I tried to respect the office, and teach my kids to do the same.

The outrage over this video in which celebrities state what they, personally, pledge to do (smile, meet my neighbors, stop using plastic bags) to be of service is that some of the things that are important to these Americans (celebrity or not--they are still Americans) are not important to other Americans (even the crazy, paranoid parents of Eagle Bay Elementary are fellow Americans).

Oh, and some say that they pledge to serve the president.

I think all of our service men and women also pledge to serve the president. Are they part of a leftist agenda to turn America into a communist/socialist/Nazi (insert your favorite paranoid political system) state? I don't think so. (And, yes--those are all apocalyptic predictions actually made in the comments to the Deseret News article about the service video snafu!)

It's been so long since we had a leader that was invested in inspiring us to unify and become better tomorrow than we are today, that the mere idea that leadership is about moving people to action (instead of covering your ass) is terrifying.

Or is it the fact that this particular president is a black man?

I don't buy the assertion that race has nothing to do with it.

There is no other reason for the democratically elected leader of our country--who has made education, service, and healthcare top priorities--to be so vehemently hated.

I have read online that Utah isn't the only place where the president's speech to the nation's school children is a topic of fear, paranoia, and outright, ignorant, venomous anger. Part of me would be comforted if this was, in fact, only happening here. After all, many strange and scary things DO only happen here, and I am always reassured to learn that beyond the state lines there is intelligent life out there (for the most part).

It is terrifying to see what's happening in our country. I hope and pray that sense and logic will soon overpower hatred and fear--on all sides. No one is innocent, or immune. We all need to stop looking at one another through liberal or conservative glasses, and start looking through human or American ones.

When I was growing up in the 80's--the cold war, the Berlin Wall, the ever-present fear of a red button being pushed somewhere--America knew who our enemies were, and they were out there in other hemispheres speaking different native tongues. Sting wrote a song that said "I hope the Russians love their children too."

That same terror once inspired by foreign governments and oppressive dictators is now being inspired by our neighbors, our PTA presidents, our cashier at the grocery store, our own leader. It isn't right, it isn't healthy, and this (more than any presidential address or video) will destroy us.

I would like to hear a new version of that Sting song: "I hope my neighbors love their children too."

"Russians" by Sting (edited by me)

In Red and Blue America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Pundits
The right-wing says we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If my neighbors love their children too

How can I save my little boy from ignorance and prejudice
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope my neighbors love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie that we don't believe anymore
The left-wing says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope my neighbors love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if my neighbors love their children too

Monday, August 24, 2009

A love letter to my darling 17-year-old daughter



This may be the last year we celebrate your birthday while you live with me.

I know that this makes you excited, and it makes me excited too...and sad. I love knowing you and your life every day, and I can't imagine the space that will be left when I don't get to assure myself that you are safe every nite by peeking into your bedroom just to make sure.

You got your first car this weekend, and you started your senior year of high school (sophomore year of college).

Every day it seems like another piece of the life you will have that belongs only to you (and in which I will become a visitor) is put into place.

It is as it should be. And it is wonderful for you. And it is bittersweet for me.

I am continually in awe of the amazing creature that you are.

This was true 17 years ago when you charged into this world (without aid of an epidural!) and instantly claimed the adoration and devotion of the nurses in the hospital nursery. They were so excited about your abundant, white "locks" that you were afflicted with an ungodly number of infant bow assaults (utilizing the ever-popular karo syrup or honey technique) during your first 48 hours.

This was true when you burst out the front door in the dead of winter in a tanktop, shorts, and bare feet and were stopped in your tracks by the bitter cold. Your eyes were like saucers as you looked around yourself incredulously at the brilliant blue sky and blinding sunlight and said, "Has this ever happened before?"

This was true when you figured out the joy of trick-or-treating. With a wicked gleam in your eye, and wily upturn of your lip you said, "THIS is life!"

One night, after singing you a song and kissing you goodnite, you looked into my eyes and said in the purest voice, "Your kisses fly straight from your lips to my heart."

You have always had a way with words. Terri and I were with you at the airport one nite and you were getting bored. You stretched your miniature body out across three seats--and as you extended from fingertip to toe said, "I'm a strange kind of cat."

I loved running on the moonlit beach of Maui with you and Gabi and squealing because we were scared of being pinched by all the crabs that had been left as the tide went out.

I love every time the three of us go to Taco Time or stay up too late and get out-of-control silly for no reason that any of us can remember--but we know that it made us laugh until our bellies ached.

Lately, I like hearing the quiet voices of you and your sister as you talk about hair and what to wear and other, whispered things that I never quite catch. It makes me smile and my heart swells just a little bit (so grinch-like!) every time I am lucky enough to catch a snippet of your sisterly conversations.

I appreciate your patience with my crazy control issues and other, just-plain-crazy issues.

I am simultaneously relieved and impressed by your choices in friends and boys.

You are all the best things I ever wanted--in a walking, talking (slightly ditzy, but very grounded) package.

When you were a baby you would stay asleep in your little carrier at the movies or out to coffee. Now you stay awake to share a movie, have a random chat, or drive me home from Terri's after a couple of drinks.

You have a great sense of humor. You are patient. You are neat and organized (thanks to the influences of Grandma Phyllis and Terri!). You are willing to try new things.

It rocks that you took a hip-hop dance camp this summer. While I secretly knew inside (okay, not so secretly) that you are the whitest girl I've ever known, I was fascinated to see your passion and fearlessness.

Part of me wants to hold on to you. And part of me always will. The thought of you leaving the warm (hopefully safe) fold of my daily diligence is something I can't really think about for too long (but is ever-present, nonetheless). This year is--despite all of my best efforts to change my perspective--a countdown.

My very soul feels each moment, event, milestone...and recognizes it as a collector's item. This birthday, this Christmas, this surprise day when we all decide to play hooky--these are now limited editions.

Thank you for letting me be your mom...and for sharing your clothes (and shoes!) with me. If you find your black, suede boots missing a year from now, I'm sure I will not be able to help you find them--they must have been lost in the move to your new life!

Happy Birthday, Savannah-monk. I can't believe we've been doing this family thing for 17 years!

I love you more than hot baths, dirty martinis, and perfect, rainy days.

Loves,
Mom

Monday, July 20, 2009

Double D's

I've been haunted by them lately. They won't leave me alone. I am PLAGUED by them!!

And not the soft, squishy, fun kind.

I'm talking about Disappointment and Depression.

Lately that seems to be all I have to dole out to those I love.

I say I'll go to the concert, and then I cancel.

I say I'm coming to the family reunion, and then I cancel.

I invite a friend along to the family reunion and once she calls to ask when we're leaving I realize I forgot to tell her...I CANCELED!

I don't plan to cancel. I don't want to cancel. But I didn't want to say yes in the first place.

Not that I don't want to spend time with people I love. I do. I just don't want to spend time with ME right now--and the thought of inflicting that ME (that I don't even like) on others seems like cruel and unusual punishment.

Admittedly, I ain't the sweetest grape in the bunch on the BEST of days...so imagine how unbearable I am when the voices in my head (that usually laugh at all my jokes and say how charming--no, funny--no, absolutely undeniably irresistible I am) are talking about what a snarky bitch I can be.

I've started writing an "open letter to the dipshit in the green BMW." Stay tuned: it will be premiering soon! In fact, I could write an open letter to every idiot I drive behind, because every person I find myself on the road with, IS. AN. IDIOT.

I think the same thing in the grocery store. And watching the news. And hiding behind my blinds from the neighbor who wants to smile and wave at me.

All of my life part of me has been attracted to the "sweet spirit." To those women who are always sunshine and light, and even after visiting the loo, leave butterflies and flowers in their wake. Part of me wants to be like them. Wants to be the woman that makes people say, "Oh, she is just SO nice!"

But I'm not.

And, as my ex-husband once said (after a quite rabid rant on being the "sweet one"), "You don't really want to be like them. You're far too interesting." (I KNEW I had good reasons for marrying him--he often knew just what to say!)

Yet, as I sit here typing away and sipping a glass of chardonnay, while the litter box needs to be cleaned and the fridge is full of (only) condiments (and soda--there was a great sale!) and the floor needs to be vacuumed and there's a pile of unfolded laundry on my bed, I have a fantasy.

And in that fantasy, I AM that other woman.

The one who's never as happy as when she's cleaning and baking. The woman who would NEVER serve her family processed food (and ramen? Forget it!) In these horrible, Delusional (that's another D--now I'm up there with Terri in the Triples!) fits of Donna Reed nostalgia I feel like everything I've ever done has been sub-par--and the fact that I'm writing this instead of dealing with any of that other, CONFIRMS that I will ALWAYS be sub-par.

And I'm almost out of time. Can I even make up for the past with my kids half-way (if only!) out the door to adulthood? And what about when they ARE gone? My time as a divorced woman is breathing down the neck of my time as a wife.

But before I start to hyperventilate and spiral even more deeply into despair, I need to fill my wine glass...get a bath started...find my book...and light a candle. I need to tell my girls goodnite and that I love them. I need to thank the Lord above for the roof over our heads and my continued ability to keep it there with work that I am passionate about.

And after I do all of that, and lean back into the steamy water, take a deep breath, and close my eyes for just a moment, I know that those Double D's are only temporary--and I'll be back to my own, comfortable B's (Becky, bubbly, boozy?) soon enough!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Excuse me...are you on the VIP list?

When I was a little girl I was afraid that I wouldn't recognize my family in heaven. I heard a lot about how we would have new bodies after we died and I was worried about not knowing my parents or brothers once we had all shuffled off this mortal coil.

My mom assured me that even though we would have new bodies we would recognize one another.

After I watched the memorial service for Michael Jackson, I vowed to stop my obsessive viewing of the non-stop coverage of his life. I was doing really well until tonite...I'm weak!

While watching the E! True Hollywood Story and seeing, once again, the repeated denials of plastic surgery and child molestation it occurred to me that we would never know the complete truth until the afterlife.

Then I wondered if we would recognize celebrities in heaven. If they make it past that most important of all velvet (or is it pearly?) ropes, will we recognize them as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, or Elvis Presley? Will we still be in awe of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the ever-fabulous Jackie O?

It may be a sad reflection of the state of my soul that my mind wanders to celebrities even when pondering the great hereafter, but I have already admitted that I have a problem. I take some small comfort in the fact that I not only pay attention to the daily trials and travails of pop-culture icons, but I am also interested in the state of their eternal souls...that's gotta count for something, right?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Recently I was given a pretty nice compliment:

"There's nothing pretentious about you at all."

I was almost giddy at the words. Not that I necessarily think of myself as pretentious, but I don't think I'm NOT pretentious.

I shared this compliment with Terri and she said that she never thought of me as pretentious; she thinks arrogant or condescending might be better words to describe me. Then, on second thought, she said what I thought was, "Nah, those words are too nice to describe you."

Wow!

If pretentious and arrogant are too nice for me, what must my best friend of 17+ years think of me? I mean, I'm all about honesty, but sometimes it can go too far. And I don't care how many rhymes you use to comfort me, words can hurt.

When Jeff walked in the door I let him know what his wife had just said to me. As she listened to me repeat her words, she clarified. Apparently, I had misheard. What she actually said was that I was too nice to be described by those words. That's better!

But it got me thinking. What were the right not-so-nice words to describe me--and was I really too nice, or had we just not come upon the right adjective yet?

A few days later I was regaling another friend with this tale when she asked me what not-so-nice words I would use to describe her. This is a tricky situation. You need to tread carefully. I thought about it for a while and came up with the following:

"I think that you are an elitist lesbian."

I explained that I think there is a strong penchant for elitism in any circle, but the lesbians (many of whom I love) have their own, special brand of it. LaRiesse laughed, and added that it usually comes with soy milk and a Subaru.

At this point, we had to cut our conversation short because she had to run in to Whole Foods to pick up some organic pepper-jack cheese for a party she was headed to. (Need I say more?)

I do believe that elitism or pretension does exist in many forms--and I bet most of us are pretentious about something. As for me, I'm going to go with grammatically pretentious. And, yes, I'm proud of it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

10 reasons I'm proud to be an American


Those of you who know me, know that I have a tendency to get all teary-eyed at things like the Olympics, the flag being carried in a parade, and the national anthem. While this may seem strange, it is one of the many bizarre things that makes me (hopefully) moderately entertaining.


Even though I didn't get teary-eyed at yesterday's parade (I got lotion in my eye!), I did at church this morning when we sang "America the Beautiful." So, in honor of the 4th of July ( I KNOW today is the 5th) here's a little countdown of why I firmly believe that America is still the greatest country on earth:


10. E!--yes...I love the E! network, and only in America can you find such a proudly blatant tribute to gross narcisism and celebrity whoredom.


9. NYC--we are the proud "owners" of the modern-day Rome--after my first 10 minutes in the city, I knew without a doubt that I HEART NYC!!


8. Johnny Depp--i know he doesn't really live here anymore, but he came from the good, ol' U-S-of-A and he does us proud in every role (besides, he DID partner with ultra-American Disney to be a certain pirate inspired by Keith Richards)


7. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart--in my opinion, the most reliable source for news and commentary on events both national and worldwide. I'll take my moment of zen over CNN, MSNBC, or any other "news" channel out there (you know who are...FOX"news"!)


6. The Wasatch Mountains--when I first moved to Utah I noticed the mountains, but after a while I got used to them...every time my dad came for a visit, he would say "I can't believe you live right at the base of these mountains." Thanks to the relentless praise of my awe-struck father, I notice those mountains every day--and how gorgeous they look in the different light of the day, how they change with the seasons...and during those awful days of inversion, I know that if I just drive up high enough, the sky is always blue.


5. Reality TV--i started out as a hater, but then I realized that some of my most inspired insults, barbs, and witty social commentary comes out of the fury so often instigated by watching this self-promoting drivel.


4. David Sedaris--here's another one who opts to live much of his life on other soil, but he is not only my favorite writer, but my inspiration to write good, funny, entertaining stuff that I hope people enjoy.


3. The first amendment--hello! That's what it's all about...journalism, blogging, news, pop-culture overload, etc. I LOVE that I can say whatever the hell I think about whatever the hell I want...and I LOVE that everyone else can do that too. When I think of situations like what the Dixie Chicks had to deal with several years ago, it's makes me sick. Those who thought that they were un-American for saying what they thought are the saddest thing about America--they just don't get it, and they taint this freedom for all of us.


2. President Barak Obama--not only has he brought smart back, but he truly makes me feel proud to be an American, and inspires me to be a better citizen. After so many years struggling to be loyal to our Commander-in-Chief, I am so happy to have it finally be a pleasure and an honor.


1. My brother, my grandfathers, my stepfather, and all others who serve our country--okay, this is the part where I get teary-eyed. I am overwhelmed with gratitude, love, and awe for the men and women who risk--and give--their lives so I can watch E! and drink beer and blow up fireworks with my friends and family every year and have the life that I take for granted far more often than I should. When my brother saluted our grandfather before they closed his casket, and later presented the flag to my grandmother at the graveside, I was so grateful that he was back home with us after 18 months in Afghanistan, and that my grandfather came back from WWII to be the honorable man that showed me what I should be looking for in a guy. No words can ever equal the blood, sweat, and tears of these amazing people who face things I can't imagine to preserve the life that I experience every day and the future I hope for, for my daughters.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Coming out of the closet...

...no, not THAT closet. The "I heart Michael Jackson" closet.

I wanted to marry Michael Jackson when I was a little girl. In fact, my best friend Michelle and I would fight over him--and the loser got to marry Rick Springfield.

When I received a text from my older daughter that said, "Michael Jackson died. Cardiac arrest." I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

I was the first of my crowd to get the news--and from my daughter, no less. Later, when I asked her how she heard, she said that her best friend called her and told her that she should let her mom know.

"Why?" Savannah asked her friend.

"Because it seems like something your mom would want to know."

Amanda didn't know I had a deep-rooted fondness for the King of Pop, but she did know that I'm a pop-culture whore.

That night I found myself glued to 8 different channels, holding my own personal vigil for the gloved one, until 3am. I didn't want to be watching 8 channels into the wee hours of the morning, but I couldn't stop myself.

For someone who grew up in the MTV generation, there isn't much that's as fascinating as watching the video to Billie Jean, Beat It, or Thriller. In fact, I saw the full-length version of Thriller that night for the first time in over a decade--and I still found it scary.

When I called my mom to tell her that Michael Jackson had died she said it reminded her of how she felt when she'd learned that Elivis died, or John Lennon. We talked about the funeral of Princess Diana. The most profound thing for me is how these people, who very few ever know personally, make such a huge impact--on a global level--an impact that allows people to feel their loss personally.

The other thing that I realized as I watched video after video was that the Michael Jackson that I had been so fanatical about had been gone for a very long time. And this finally gave me permission to mourn the loss of that bright star.

There is no question that Michael was bizarre and did many good--and many highly suspect--things. He was a sad and strange man, who lived and died under the eyes of the world, for better or for worse.

Just as he was not only his artistic genius, he was not only his freakish appearance or suspected pedophelia.

My brother reminded me of the time our mother called us from work (she was a waitress at Marie Callendar's in Idaho Falls) and told us that Michael Jackson was at the restaurant. We didn't believe her. She said she was coming home to get us. I screamed all the way to the restaurant. When we got there we saw a Michael Jackson impersonator. My mom thought it was hilarious. I wanted to cry.

The man that I watched in tabloids and news coverage over the past fifteen years or so was not the man I screamed at the thought of meeting. I don't know if it was a result of my own innocence, his amazing talent, or the simple desire to want to be part of something that looks, and feels, and seems...great.

For whatever reason, the passing of this icon has impacted me. And that, in itself, I don't really understand. But when I watch him do the moonwalk, or perform any number of other dance moves that only he can do justice to, all I feel is that same excitement and awe that my younger self felt as I tried to memorize and duplicate just a little bit of the magic that Michael Jackson shared with all of us.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

MTV, FCC, WTF???

Lately I have been extremely disturbed by something I saw on MTV. Surprisingly, it is actually related to watching actual videos--which is much more difficult to do on MTV than you may realize.

Since I have no stereo in my bedroom "suite," and I have no iPod (lame, I know...I'm so out of touch!) I have been turning on MTV in the mornings so I can have some music when I get ready. After my initial delight at discovering that MTV actually plays videos in the mornings, my balloon of joy was quickly deflated when I heard a strangely edited version of a familiar song.

I thought perhaps I had been mistaken, but then another song came on and it, too, was edited. I know that sometimes songs have to be edited, and that there are FCC regulations...yada, yada, yada. But the part that shocked me was that these songs are not edited on the radio--just on MTV.

For someone who remembers when MTV debuted, had an "I want my MTV" t-shirt and was even prohibited from watching it because it was uber-inappropriate--this editing situation was akin to blasphemy.

MTV is about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It's supposed to be for pushing the envelope, for being rebellious--not leading the way in censorship and political correctness. I had to exclaim, 'WTF!?!"

The words that were edited are as follows:

1. "Ho"
Really???--for how many years did MTV play NOTHING but rap--are you telling me that they edited out every "ho" in those songs?

2. "Russian"
Granted, it was preceding the word "roulette" but, come on!

3. "Gun"
Please refer to #1.

4. "Muffin"
I thought that the word "muffin" was used as a euphemism to avoid having to be edited...apparently not on MTV.

Since uncovering this disturbing MTV trend, I have heard these words and the very songs they came from on the radio--entirely unedited. I don't know what's going on at MTV but I don't trust it.

Again, I have to say, "WTF!?!"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's new pussycat?


If Happiness is a warm puppy, then Neurosis must be a bulimic cat!


For a person not particularly in love with pet ownership and all that comes along with it, I have a strong tendency to collect cats. We currently have two. About a year ago we had seven...twice! We had a hot-mama slut kitty who could not stay un-pregnant long enough to get fixed. I decided that she needed to go live on a farm where she could roam free and multiply to her heart's content, so we traded her in for one of her babies.


It is this baby to which I am now referring. I have noticed for the past week or so, that in addition to his usual erratic and slightly terrifying behavior (flying up and down the stairs like he just had 5 Red Bulls, making the most terrible noises that will not abate--no matter what you do--and basically just being a crazy cat), he has been throwing up...A LOT.

We have all come to recognize the warning signs (and sounds) that let us know he is about to blow. The other day Savannah caught him in time to make sure that as she ran down the stairs to get him off the carpet he was able to spray a nice-sized portion of the carpet at the bottom of the stairs. It was pretty artistic actually--like a lawn sprinkler only with a cat and there wasn't any water.

Upon examining the detritus, I noticed that nearly all the waste is whole--not chewed and certainly not digested. I also noticed that whenever he gets the chance he is running over to his food bowl and scarfing down copious amounts of dry food in record time. It is after these binging incidents that the ensuing vomiting commences.

Gabi observed this last nite and declared that he must be bulimic. I can't fault her logic--the evidence does point in that direction. I wonder if I should consult a pet psychiatrist or even a pet psychic. Is there a cat whisperer who could find out what his major malfunction is and clue me in so I can save his sad, pathetic kitty soul?

Is his eating disorder a symptom of being exposed to too many ridiculously thin model cats on TV and in magazines? Is he crying out for attention? OR (and this one I hate to consider) is his behavior a reflection of neurosis and psychosis and whatever other "osis" means I'M nutty and that I NEED HELP?

Am I transferring my own issues to this poor, not-so-innocent feline? Am I somehow creating an environment that makes him want to off himself? And since he isn't very bright he's using a really long, painful, and roundabout process like bulimia? Am I...wait...Oh my gosh, I did it again...it really IS all about me, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Wish to Build a Dream On...or Help Make Me the Sego Lilly Blogger!


Rarely in life does the perfect opportunity come along at the perfect time and offer the perfect reward for a job well done. One such gem was waiting for me this morning in my hotmail inbox: The Utah Search for the Sego Lilly Blogger. As I walk/run/drag my feet each day on my current path of gratitude and humility I never cease to be amazed by those who are looking out for me and sending not only encouragement my way but leads for cool ways for me to be my most authentic self--(no, not a highly functioning lush!) a writer.

Here's the skinny:
Sego Lilly Mind Body Spa Sego Lilly Mind Body Spa is looking for a blogger. To choose said blogger, they are having a blogging contest. All the entries will be posted and then YOU, dear reader, will get to vote for the blogger that leaves you wanting more! My bid to be that blogger follows--a little vignette to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

Sounds of the rainforest, yummy smells, soft lighting, and reprieve from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life: these are things I associate with a spa—but it was not always so. When I was a spa-virgin, instead of conjuring images of Solitude, Peace, and Ahhhh…I was filled with Silly Paranoid Anxiety. On some level I knew my apprehensions were ridiculous, but I just couldn’t shake them.

Not only did the world of spas seem like an exclusive club that would never accept me as a member; I was really worried about my panties. Should they stay or should they go? What was the protocol? I didn’t want to leave them on and further clue the Glamorous Spa Tribe in to the fact that they should never have let me cross the threshold—but I didn’t want to take them off for the very same reason. I couldn’t ask anyone because then it would look like I’d never been to a spa before (regardless of the fact that I HAD never been to a spa before!)

I decided to go for modesty (a shock, I know) and keep the panties on. I finished putting my clothes and belongings in my locker and cozied up in a plush, white robe. My therapist came and took me to the room where I’d be having my first treatment—an aromatherapy bath. As I looked at the tub I saw the crystal-clear answer to the panty enigma—worse than being caught with no undies on, is trying to covertly peel them off and stuff them into the pocket of a complementary robe.

My fears did not end with underwear protocol. I have a pair of boots that I love; however, these particular boots are olfactory-challenged. I don’t know if it’s the materials they are made from, but my feet tend to be a little bit funky after spending the day in these boots. Needless to say I found myself at a spa, ready to get a much-needed massage, when I looked down and realized which shoes I had on. Ugh. Why did I wear these boots today?

I was terrified of unleashing my feet and the unholy smell that would accompany them. No one would be willing to touch me now—you just can’t expect people to work under these kinds of conditions! Thank heavens for locker rooms and showers—but I still always wonder if I somehow offend when I’m receiving a service and they give my feet the hot towel treatment.

Now that I am a fairly seasoned spa-goer, I have less anxiety attacks and fewer embarrassing moments. I attribute my comfort level and confidence not to myself and my fabulous personal growth and maturity, but to the gifted members of the Glamorous Spa Tribe. A truly fantastic spa experience leaves you feeling like you are the most important person in the world and that no matter what you do with your underwear or aromatic feet, you are perfect—just as you are.

If you want to hear more spa adventures from this 21st Century WonderWoman, then be sure to stay tuned for how you can vote for my blog & help make me the
Sego Lilly Blogger !! (If that link doesn't work, go to http://segolilyspa.com/blog/contest-entry/ to find out more!)


Monday, March 30, 2009

Calling in sick

It started with the chills and a pathetic, little cough. Four feverish days, sleepless nights, and unending hours of suffering later I was the sickest person in the doctor's office. I had it all: fever, body aches, chills, sweats, stiffness, headache, congestion, the most powerful death-rattle cough and, sadly, diarrhea.

There were moments when I truly wanted it all to end--not the least of them occurring during my visit to the doctor. I was medication-free (not that it helped anyway!) because I didn't want any of my suffering to be masked when the doctor looked at me. I wanted to be sure that she was fully aware of my torment and, subsequently, very willing to give me some killer meds that would give me the sweet release of slumber. My fever was over 101, my eyesight was blurry, my nose so congested I was convinced my whole head had turned into a solid, and that damn cough wouldn't give me a moment's peace.

It was the cough that led to the afore-mentioned deathwish. I was waiting for the doctor after having a deceptively sweet medical assistant try to prepare me for mummification. I know she wasn't just swabbing me to test for influenza--she was trying to scramble my brains and pull them out through my nose. As I sat there on the exam table, fully grasping why people used to die so often from illnesses such as mine and admiring my own bravery in the face of such a daunting plague, the coughing fit to end all coughing fits struck.

While I was suffocating from the fury of the fit, the worst thing imaginable happened: I leaked. Yes, you heard me. I leaked. I coughed so hard that my innocent bodily fluids were forced violently in every direction--some of that between my legs, through my underwear, my jeans, and onto the lovely white paper used to make sure patients are sitting on a sterile exam table. I jumped up in a panic to see if there was some way I was mistaken. I was not. This was it. The end. I was either going to be struck dead from this horrid illness or the mortification of just having entered the Depends era of my life.

I looked around like a lunatic searching for a corner in a round room. How could I dispose of the evidence? I grabbed some tissues and tried dabbing at and then covering up the evidence. Out damn spot! But to no avail--I needed to do something more drastic. Before I could rip off the paper and wad it up small enough so that no one would notice it hadn't been in the tiny wastepaper basket before, there was a knock on the door. I leaped back onto the table.

One negative influenza result and one positive diagnosis of pneumonia later, I was once again alone in the room. With my shame. I fiercely clutched my three blessed prescriptions and, head hanging low, shimmied down from the exam table. I looked at the defiant, little, wet spot. A strangely rational vice in my head told me that this was probably not the worst thing ever found on an exam table paper. With a deep breath, a gasping cough, and a defeated sense of resignation I threw a tissue onto the table and left the room.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sweet Surprises

Life with my beautiful, headstrong, creative, and challenging 13-year-old has been more intense than usual for the past four weeks: she's been grounded. And any parent knows that what that really means is that WE are grounded. It is impossible to ground your child without simultaneously punishing yourself.

Gabi has been in the proverbial doghouse due to typical teenage crimes like lying, failing classes, throwing attitude, and lying some more just for good measure. This week is the last week of her original sentence...and she is itching for release. The youth group at church is participating in a community-wide lock-in Friday night and she wants to go SOOOOOOO badly.

Please, mom, PLEASE!!!

Being the merciful parental figure that I am, I struck a bargain with her. If she got all of her current and late assignments completed--and turned in (it's not an obvious follow up to doing homework, no matter how much it seems it should be)--and finishes a list of Cinderella-like chores, she can earn an early release date and be given freedom three days in advance to attend the lock-in.

Another of my parenting philosophies has been to ensure that my girls have a strong grasp on the value of effectively (not pathetically) kissing some ass when the occasion calls for it. This has led to many ridiculous and hilarious efforts on their parts--and, after last night, I know the lesson has been well-learned.

I was returning home for a long day hard at work (over 12 hours, due to the multiple directions of my employ these days) when I received this text from the indomitable teenager:

"let me know when you are 10 minutes away, I have a surprise for you"

My curiosity was definitely peaked. When I was almost home, I texted her of my impending arrival. I had a few ideas of what the surprise may be, but I was totally off-base.

When I got home, she greeted me and asked me to come up to my room. One of her slave tasks had been to clean my bathroom (parenting does have perks!) so I figured she wanted to show off a job well done.

I walked into my room and saw a candlelit glow emanating from my bathroom. The sunken garden tub was filled with hot, yummy-smelling water and was surrounded with candles. Where a huge pile of laundry had been collecting for the past 10 days or so, there was nothing. Where makeup and lotion had been scattered, there was order.

This sweet (albeit manipulative) girlie had transformed my favorite room in the house into a relaxing, spa getaway at the end of a hard day. There were tears in my eyes. Ass-kissing be damned!--she had done something that was thoughtfully committed to nothing but me and my enjoyment.

And she topped it off with the piece de resistance: an ice-cold beer brought to me as I luxuriated in the hot water and melted away not just the stress of the day, but the stress of the grounding, the stress of worrying that I'm doing everything wrong, and the stress that I don't know what my relationship is with this enigmatic, beguiling, little nymph. In one gesture she let me know that, at the end of the day, we're okay--and that was the best surprise of all!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Hunchback of SLC

Today I am hunched over--literally, not figuratively. I awoke with the usual stiffness in my lower lumbar region and it has yet to dissipate from stretching, movement, time. I am in my not-quite-upright state, and that, combined with my severely pulled back hair (too lazy to wash, dry & straighten/curl this morning) and old-lady sweater, makes me imagine myself as a curmudgeonly witch looking for a prince to turn into a toad or a gluttonous child to shove into my oven. It's not a bad feeling--in fact, I kind of like it. If I could, I would jump on my broomstick and fly to a little cottage in the woods, build a fire, and cozy up with a strong potion and an ancient tome of original fairy tales!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

21st Century Melodrama

It is so hard to be a parent alone. To be the one who sees everything, who lives with everything, who knows the day-to-day of the world in which both you and your children live--but to be judged, undermined, and counter-acted by someone who can act the sympathetic ear, the understanding "friend," the distanced advisor.

It has crossed my mind many times this past week, that as April approaches my marriage would have been 14 years old this year. I can hardly believe it. And as I take inventory of the current state of relationship and partnered parenting between me and my former husband, I find myself with no words, no thoughts, no breath.

As much as I like to think that I am not alone--that my daughters have other parental allies out there fighting for their innocence, their protection, their best interests--I realize that I am, indeed NOT alone. But not because of their fathers. Because of my friends, and the rest of our family who have only ever been diligent in their guardianship of my beloved children.

It kills me that a deliberate or careless word by one of these men--targeted to poison--can so often meet its mark. That no matter how much time goes by, I am always vulnerable in relationship to my children and my stewardship of their precious lives. I want to be above it, beyond it, better than it--but time and time again I come to tears.

I know that it will not always be this way. That I am not truly alone--and that as time goes by, my children will have the scales removed from their eyes and they will see me with more clarity. But even if they don't, I know that acting in their best interest--whether it makes me liked or not--is always the right choice. And I am so grateful for the instantly accepting arms (and protective indignation) of my best friend when I am reduced to blubbering and tears in her kitchen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Grandma

My grandmother missed her 88th birthday by two days. Saying goodbye to her has brought up a plethora of childhood memories. Her orange juice was always the best I had ever tasted. She made it in the blender and it came out cold, frothy, and with the perfect amount of pulp. She shared many culinary delights with me, and her pie crust is the only pie crust I have ever bothered to make from scratch. In fact, despite the effects of divorce and time, my mother still makes her former mother-in-law’s lemon meringue pie—to rave reviews.

Out of the kitchen, my grandmother was a seamstress extraordinaire. She made me beautiful clothes—from twirly dresses (the twirlier the better!) to Gunny Sax outfits to prom dresses. Whatever I had in mind, she could bring to life; and I was always so proud to wear something she had created. If I needed to feel pretty, putting on one of my twirly dresses always did the trick.

The yard at my grandparents’ house was gorgeous. The gardening prowess of both my grandfather AND grandmother was considerable. There were huge roses, bleeding hearts, and—my favorite—sweet peas along the fence. I planted both bleeding hearts and sweet peas in the yard of my first home. I thought of my grandparents as I dug in the dirt and later as I enjoyed the results of my labors. My grandmother shared with me the magical, fairy secrets of the bleeding heart plant. Next time you see one, pluck one of the pink hearts and see if you can find the tiny slippers and fairy jewelry hidden inside.

My grandmother had three sons, so she reveled in her granddaughters. She loved to fix our hair, make us matching outfits, and let us rifle through her treasure of costume jewelry and fancy hats made with velvet and veils.

As women, we can easily move away from the things that were so precious in our little-girl worlds: twirly dresses, garden adventures, and playing dress up. What a powerful gift my grandmother has given me through these memories, and I cherish this chance to revive the little-girl-spirit within. I am grateful to be able to celebrate Marjorie Pearl—my grandmother. Grandma, you are remembered in love, gratitude, and with a warm heart.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Get Rich Quick...Yeah, Right!

As one of the many unemployed in recent months, I have devoted a huge portion of time to looking for, applying for, and begging for work. When I first started out I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—even somewhat excited about the possibility of something new. Since I had been a career counselor and coach for over ten years, I felt that I knew exactly what to do to land my next gig. I polished up my resume, spread the word, and started searching every possible venue for the most recent job openings in fields that matched my skills and interests.

Needless to say, I am still not (after almost four months of looking) gainfully employed. What started out as selectivity and hope has, at times, turned into desperation and fear. In those valleys of despair I found myself sending out my resume in response to ads that, in a less frantic state of mind, would have seemed a bit “off.”

Here’s an example:

**Help Change Others' Lives Effectively Through Education** (SLC area)

We are in search of business consultants that can teach people how to develop their own business and utilize a business network. If you're passioinate about the power of education, and want to earn an income that would allow you to change your life, interview with us!

Since my background is primarily in education, I was very intrigued by the first headline. Obviously, they aren’t too serious about education, or they may have spelled “passionate” correctly; however, I thought I had nothing to lose by finding out more. I received a call right away—from about eight of these types of companies—all of which had spun their angle in a slightly different way. I had applied for sales positions, office manager positions, business manager positions, education positions, and even assistant positions that all turned out to be one form or another of a get-rich-quick or pyramid scheme.

During the initial phone conversation regarding this “education” position, I was given the impression that there was a company actually building a Salt Lake City office and they needed people to head up the management and sales aspects. The gentleman I spoke with was very complimentary of my resume and experience, and being such a sucker for flattery, I ended up scheduling an interview to meet with “Bill.”

A few days later I arrived for my interview. It was at a conference center. I could tell immediately that this was not going to be an intimate one-on-one between me and Bill. There were about six perky greeters who wanted to know my name, who had invited me, and even tried to get me to don a nametag. I told them there must be a mistake, as I was here to meet with Bill for an INTERVIEW…for a JOB. I slowed down and spoke louder as if I were addressing a group of people who were hard of hearing. They smiled and said, “Yes, we’ll let Bill know you’re here. In the meantime, go on in and join everyone—our company owner is about to speak—you’re really in for a treat.” Against all odds and common sense, I actually went in and sat down. I quickly recognized the self-help, feel-good, use our system and you’ll be a millionaire by next month rhetoric. I stayed about 15 minutes, and then quietly excused myself.

This happened to me two more times. Even when I asked explicitly before scheduling the interview if there would indeed be an actual interview for an actual job. I heard people bear their testimonies that this was the one true get-rich opportunity. I saw people cry as they explained how destitute they were before and how nothing but this service/product/scam had been able to save them. I have no doubt that people can make money doing some of these things: selling an investment system, selling natural, earth-friendly products, selling financial analysis consultations, etc. But what they don’t tell you is:

  • Most of these opportunities require an up-front investment of anywhere from $100 to $6,000
  • No real money is made until you sign up other rubes to be part of your team/group/pod/cult
  • It can be very hard to get out of one of these “opportunities” after you “try it out.” One company that sells natural products automatically ships you new products every month for which they charge you a minimum of $60 and which you can only cancel in writing and only if they receive your letter during certain days of the month.

Now that I have become savvy to these types of schemes, I don’t apply for anything that gives me any reason to question the validity of the ad, and the veracity of the actual “job.” These companies seem to be everywhere right now, and the combination of unemployment, economic downturn, and fear provides the perfect climate for them to flourish. I don’t think all companies like this are evil, but I think that many of them are unscrupulous and are taking advantage of desperate people who feel they have nothing to lose.

Read more about MLM and pyramid schemes in my story on www.utahstories.com & don't forget to check out my other blog at www.wasatchwoman.com as well!