Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Hangover

I'm not surprised that I got bored by the daily "journal your Christmas" prompts halfway through -- they started getting really redundant, and my decision to actually blog them was a mistake... I think they were intended to be pondered over more deeply than I usually do for a blog entry, but I hoped that blogging them would at least get me started, so I could then transfer them into my scrapbooks later.

So I have Christmas hangover this morning. That feeling of, "That's it??" Nothing a little spending of gift cards won't cure, though...

My friend Jason has posted his year-end Top 10 singles over at his blog -- you should check it out for some new and different music:

What else... not much. We just had the building maintenance guy over here for 45 minutes repairing our kitchen light fixture. He's so bizarre. He was basically throwing a temper tantrum the whole time because he had to come back after putting in new bulbs last week; he didn't put the cover back on properly, and the new bulbs were flickering like strobe lights. Once he finished up today, he was all, "Next time call sooner for new bulbs." Like it was our fault. And then he wanted to stay and chitchat about football and his shitty Christmas.

I'm not sure he's all there upstairs.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

O! Christmas Tree

It isn't Christmas if the tree isn't up and decorated.

We tried to skip it last year because we went away for the week after Thanksgiving, which is when I usually decorate the house. By the time we got back to town, it seemed so late, like we'd get it up and it'd be Christmas so soon after and then I'd just have to take it right back down. But it turns out it was depressing to not have it up. It didn't feel like Christmas at all. We were broke, my job wasn't going well, etc. etc. But the minute we finally got the tree up, things started to look up.

And that's the point. The tree isn't for other people to see. It isn't intended to impress anyone. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it's okay if it is. All it needs are some lights. It's your own personal beacon of hope in a world that can sometimes feel really dark.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Write about your favorite holiday movies or shows.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the original, cartoon version).

A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Snow (this is one of those cheesy ABC Family movies that came out a few years ago).

The Night They Saved Christmas.

The Brady Bunch Christmas episode.


The Polar Express.

The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude Law and Cameron Diaz).

Love, Actually.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Parties

We don't host a holiday party; we just attend the parties of other people. Or make an effort to get together with long-time friends for a meal or whatever. My son's dad hosts a Hanukkah party every year, so we usually go over there for that. My best friend's birthday is the 23rd and most years we do something to celebrate for her -- she likes Indian food and a visit to the Zoo Lights best, but sometimes it's too cold so we've taken all the kids to a movie instead. My friends Rob and Marci from high school have an annual Christmas party at their house and we went this year; it was fun -- lots of kids for The Pook to run around with and lots of old friends to catch up with!

After we moved to Colorado when I was 9, our friends the Leahys down the street always had a party on Christmas Eve, with lots of friends and food and fun. The only year it didn't happen was in 1982, the year of the Christmas blizzard, but we were able to go over anyway since we were just two doors away. I loved those Christmas Eve parties. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that sometimes, they were more fun than actual Christmas morning! I know that's crazy... you know how much I love presents...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Lights

When I was little, really little, after Christmas Eve service at church, my dad would drive us around town to look at Christmas lights. It would be the four of us -- eventually the five of us -- snuggled into our little car, looking for the best lights and the best decorations. Back then, people didn't get too crazy with the decorations, but there were always houses that were more lavishly decorated than others. Those were my favorites. Lots of colored lights, maybe a plastic Santa and reindeer.

And now that I'm a lot older I find that I love the houses where the people go all out and make a complete spectacle of their holiday lights. The whole point behind the "Holidays of Light" is that humans have always looked for a way to light up the darkest days of the year, and turned to annual rituals to do so. Christmas lights on houses are part of these rituals. My feeling, as someone who gets a little depressed by the dark days, is "the lighter, the better." And so it cheers me to see a house where the lights are nutty and overdone; I love that people do up their houses just to cheer up other people. I love to visit the Denver Zoo for the Zoo Lights; this year we're going to try the Botanic Gardens, which we've seen from the highway a few times and looks quite beautiful.

So my favorite holiday sight is the lights. I love it when I look at the lights of the city this time of year and they're brighter than usual.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

What is your favorite Christmas book?

I have enjoyed many Christmas books over the years -- The House Without a Christmas Tree. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The Gift of the Magi. A Christmas Carol. They're all great. But what I'm really, really a sucker for is lavish illustration and a cute story. So my very favorite is Jan Brett's The Wild Christmas Reindeer. It's about a little elf girl who is charged with prepping Santa's reindeer for the Christmas Eve voyage, but the reindeer don't want to cooperate. She learns how to be more patient and gentle, and the reindeer are ready on time.

I could look at the artwork in Jan Brett's books for hours. It's very Norwegian and colorful. There are all kinds of hidden details, including side panels featuring Hedgie the hedgehog looking for a cozy winter home or something like that. My son and I love Hedgie. Jan Brett visited his school when he was in kindergarten and gave all the kids a little beginning reader book about Hedgie.

Anyway, if you're looking for something to read with your kids for Christmas, Jan Brett's book are the best.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Write about the significance of at least one of your items of holiday decor.

Most of my holiday decor takes the form of Christmas tree ornaments. I have so many that are significant and cherished more than others -- see previous entry about all the stuff my son has made for our tree. And then my Mom gives me ornaments every year in my Christmas stocking, and the ones she gives me are particularly cherished. And then there are the ornaments I pick up when we travel, which is something I just vowed to begin doing a handful of years ago, so I don't have a ton yet. What we do have: a gold glass ball ornament with an Inukshuk painted inside of it that we got in Canada last time we went up; and a giant red glass Mickey Mouse head with Mickey clothes painted on it that we got at Disney World last year.

A few years back my Mom gave me some little glass ball ornaments with white snowy owls painted on them -- Hedwig from Harry Potter, essentially. I love them. Oh, and my favorite ornament is this little purple "love bus" I picked up at a Christmas store on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder a few years ago. It has flowers and peace symbols and hippie stuff on it; it's Dept. 56. I love it and always have to find a very prominent spot on the tree for it.

We also have a little statue of Mickey Mouse dressed as Santa that my Mom bought for Daniel the year the three of us went to Disney World together, to remind him of what a great time she had with him there. That's a special piece too. It's by my favorite Christmas artist, Jim Shore. He does folk art painting on wood figurines, in bright colors. We also have a Nativity scene by him that I like to just leave out all year long because it's so lovely.

Honestly? I'd leave the tree up all year long if I thought I could get away with it. And wouldn't have to find a way to dust it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Describe some of your favorite holiday foods.

Candy canes.

French Canadian Meat Pies.

Christmas nougat.


Hot chocolate.

Sugar cookies.

Tagliatelle with bolognese sauce.

Chocolate fondue.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Write about one symbol of the holidays that has particular meaning to you.

It's the Christmas tree, stupid.

I don't mean you're stupid. I just mean the question is a little daft.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved Christmas trees. When I was small, we still got real trees (my mom and I are deathly allergic, so now we all have fake trees), and the process would begin by the family heading out to a Christmas tree lot to pick out a tree. My sisters and I didn't really care about the tree, per se. We were more interested in running around through the maze of trees, playing hide and seek. Usually the tree choosing evening also included a meal at someplace like McDonald's, which was a treat for us.

But the real magic began when my mom pulled out the ornaments so we could start trimming the tree. All those lovely treasures that we hadn't seen for a year -- it was such fun to go through them and find the ones we'd missed the most. For me, it was the ceramic faeries, one for each of us (my mom tried to get rid of them a few years ago, but I rescued them and now they hang on our tree).

The lights are the most important part for me. I love the lights. The lights are the entire point. The Christmas tree is a holdover from pagan traditions to welcome the Winter Solstice. Lights were placed in trees to ward off evil spirits. In this day and age, I only know of one evil spirit that I need to ward off: the dark and cold that characterize this time of year. So I love to sit with the tree lights on and drink tea and read a book and listen to George Winston's December album. It fills me with peace.

Also, my Grandma McEwen loved Christmas trees. She used to try to teach me how to sing "O Tannenbaum" in German. I never quite grasped it, but she never stopped trying. Anything Grandma McEwen loved, I was willing to love.

The Christmas tree makes Christmas. As soon as it's up, it becomes the Christmas season.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Write about a specific holiday song that has meaning to you.

What, I have to choose just one? I don't think so.

Silent Night. Aside from just being an all around great song, there are a couple of recorded versions of it out there that I love -- Stevie Nicks' version from 1986 and Mahalia Jackson's gospel version. I could listen to those a thousand times. And then there was the church service at my church following the Columbine High School shootings. We sang "Silent Night" even though it was the middle of April, and candles were lit for all the victims of the shooting, and all the other lights were turned out, and it was one of the most beautiful moments of humanity I've ever been a part of. It was a special song to me before that, but ever since, it means just the slightest bit more. It's like a light in the darkness when all hope is lost...

O Holy Night. This one I love just because I do. It's a hell of a song. It is gorgeous. Even country singers can't manage to screw it up. I used to play an instrumental version of it on the piano when I was in high school that was totally awesome.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The U2 version, but also the original version with Darlene Love. I just love how U2 rocked this song out; it's perfect for their hard-driving sound, and Bono's vocals just soar. It was on the first volume of A Very Special Christmas, which I bought one early December on a lunch break from Youth In Government. I believe I bought it on cassette so I could listen to it right away on my Walkman, and I damn near wore the tape out listening to it over and over. It's not Christmas time for me until I hear this song.

Fairytale of New York. This is by the Pogues. Strictly speaking, it's not really a Christmas song, but it is a song about a particular Christmas, which in rock and roll terms, makes it a Christmas song. The thing that I love about it is how the lyrics contrast with the pure joyfulness of the music itself. And the lyrics are clever.

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. This was my first favorite Christmas hymn. I think my Grandma McEwen loved it, so I loved it too. We had an album of Christmas music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and I think it was the first time I understood how amazing choral music could be.

O Come O Come Emmanuel. This one, when properly done, is lovely. It should be simple and quiet. It's a prayer. It's not a bombastic "Christ is born!" chorus. I've heard a rash of crap versions of it lately, though, with too much going on, and that annoys me. Why mess with perfection?

Silver Bells. We sang this in 1st grade for our Christmas concert, which we took on the road to a couple of malls in Salt Lake City. I just remember loving the words, all about Christmas time in the city, and imagined how I would grow up and live in the city someday, and it would presumably be Christmas all the time. My mom drove all the way down to Salt Lake to see us sing, and then I got to go home with her instead of on the bus with the other kids. I loved that day.

I'm a sucker for Christmas music, but I'm also fussy about it. It can't be just ANY old Christmas music. It has to be good.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Talk about a sentimental piece of holiday decor.

My son is not into art. Or crafts. He will do art when threatened with a trip to Mrs. Gray, the assistant principal. He will do crafts if he is well compensated... with cash. So I don't get much from him in the way of artwork to adorn my walls or my fridge or my cubicle at work. When he does throw me a bone in the way of bringing something home that resembles a painting of a sunflower, I promptly display it in the most prominent location I can find and keep it there about 4 years longer than necessary (actually, the sunflower painting isn't ever getting put away). You can imagine, then, how I feel about any Christmas ornaments he's made for me.

When he was 3 years old, he made me a bell. This bell is a styrofoam cup painted with gold glitter paint, with a little jingle bell strung inside it and a pipe cleaner hanger. He's not big into color, so the gold glitter paint was used sparingly on this bell. It is, of course, the finest bell ornament ever created, and I always find a special spot front and center on the tree for its display.

The following year, he made me a gingerbread snowman and tree. They are scented with cinnamon, and I keep them in a tin box in storage so they won't break. They smell delicious. They are -- of course -- the finest gingerbread snowman and tree ever created.

When he was 5, he painted a little wooden Christmas tree and, in a departure from his usual spare use of color, he coated it with red and green from top to bottom. It is stunning and perfect.

When he was 6, he made a snowman pin. I wear it on my winter coat.

When he was 7, he made another gingerbread tree. It's larger and thicker than the first one, and doesn't have quite as much scent. It has some funny shaped branches, just like a real tree. It is also perfect.

This year, he made a snowflake out of salt crystals. It is sparkling on my tree as I type this, right near the front, two thirds of the way to the top. Right next to the bell and the gingerbread snowman. I love it.

It's difficult to choose a favorite, though.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What does the word "joy" mean to you? Does it play a part at the holidays?

I like the word "joy." I mean, it conveys joyfulness, doesn't it? Pure, unadulterated happiness and exuberance. That's my definition of it, anyway. And it's only three letters, but it means all that. I think the first place I ever heard the word "joy" was in the holiday carol "Joy to World." And that carol, when properly performed, epitomizes joy.

Joy is also the way a little kid feels on Christmas morning. After all the weeks of anticipation, the joy of wrapping paper flying, new gifts to discover, the excitement of what's inside the box... that's joy. Joy is also knowing you made your family happy. And it's the delight you take in your own little pile of presents. And it's the fun you have with your family for the rest of the day, sharing gifts, reminiscing, laughing at the geeky antics of your dad. It's the meal your mom spent days planning, and hours cooking, because it's her way of telling you she loves you to pieces. It's the rousing game of Trivial Pursuit, if you can convince everyone to play.

Joy is the sound of my favorite Christmas music, the way it lifts my soul. It's the lights. It's the peppermint candy canes. It's the cup of hot tea sipped as I sit in front of my lit up tree.

Joy is the light in the dark that leads us out of the cold.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Read the article "Welcome Home, for the Holidays," and write your thoughts...

Honestly? I am the opposite of the author of this article. I think there are two types of people: those who notice the cleanliness of the carpet in a home, and those who do not. I am the former, the author is clearly the latter. I grew up in a beautiful, clean house filled with lovely things. Lots of them we weren't allowed to touch, or mess with, but it doesn't make me feel cold or empty inside at the memory. I loved being surrounded by all that loveliness. My mom's Christmas decorations could kick the ass of any Manhattan store window display any day of the week, and are decidedly less tacky. Martha Stewart works hard at the same sort of thing that comes easily to my mom. And I still love being surrounded by it. My mom's house at Christmas is beautiful and perfect. There's no place I'd rather be during the season than in her living room, sipping a cup of tea and looking at the lights on the living room tree.

Did I just say living room tree, you ask? Yes, I did. Does that mean...?? Yes. There is more than one tree. There is also the family room tree. The origin of the two-tree scenario has its roots with our old house, the house I mostly grew up in when we moved to Colorado in 1979. The family room was not situated well to accommodate a Christmas tree, because of a wall of built-in bookcases that got a lot of use. The living room was filled with a lot of furniture and was kind of formal, so it was hard to imagine doing Christmas morning in there. So my parents decided to place the tree in the hallway between the two rooms. It was more a doorway-type opening than a hallway -- the floor plan of the house worked quite well for this. My mom being who she is felt that the living room side of the tree should be decorated to complement the living room decor, and the family room side decorated to complement the family room. Thus began her years of collecting ornaments for each side -- pinks and creams and whites and sparkles for the living room side, primary colors and more "fun" ornaments for the family room side.

When my parents moved to their new house, she realized she could actually just have two trees, since the living room is 6 miles away from the family room, give or take a few miles. (We are prone to making wisecracks about how much larger the new house is than the house we all grew up in, since when they moved there, all three of us girls were grown and moved on. Some of us have since made the occasional stopover for a month or three or even six, but basically, my parents live there alone.) So she set about collecting enough ornaments for two entire trees, rather than enough ornaments to fit on two sides of one tree. The family room tree is brightly colored and still sort of the "fun" tree, while the living room tree is more fancy looking, and much taller. I love both trees.

Anyway, I don't get a complex about the state of my house because of the impending holidays. Part of it is that I always have a complex about the state of my house because I live with two total slobs, and the other part is that I just do what I can do, and that's good enough. I did have an issue with my tree the first day we got it up, after Daniel had started the trimming and then lost interest. I wasn't in the mood to finish the job until several days later, and so the tree looked sort of half-assed and sad for those several days. But then as soon as I finished, the tree looked awesome and I took 50 pictures of it to share on Facebook.

And the kind of house I look forward to visiting during the holidays is a house like my mom's. Pretty and clean and free of pet dander... because there are no pets. Enough seating for everyone, and a large family room for the entire family to spread out in as we dig into our Christmas stockings and exchange gifts with each other. It's just the way I am.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Write about your family's holiday values...

"Values" can be such a loaded word for me, since I am a (Nearly) Bleeding-Heart Liberal who chafes regularly at the religious right's attempts to claim a monopoly on having values at all. But in my calmer moments, I can enumerate the things I think are important to me, and to Rob and me as a couple, and the things we want The Pook to grow to value as well. I can't say as they really change for the holidays, but a spotlight kind of shines on them this time of year. Here are the words that spring to mind most often when I think about our values:


We're no longer churchgoing, as the appeal of mass religion has waned for us, so our Christmas is more pagan than anything -- a holiday of light to guide us through the darkest nights of the year. Probably the most important aspect of our Christmas is the family togetherness we experience. I am lucky to have one of those rare families where we actually enjoy one another's company; occasionally there is a smidgen of drama over this or that, but it's never anything major, never anything you'd have to ask Dear Abby for advice in dealing with. Our Christmas days together are, for the most part, a blast. And it's mainly because we are together, laughing and carrying on, celebrating. So that's the crux of the holiday for us: family togetherness.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Understood Betsy

Oh. My. God. I was looking online for a copy of a book I loved as a girl called Understood Betsy, about a meek little girl living with an elderly aunt who gets sent to Vermont during an influenza outbreak, to live with some hardy farmer-type relatives not that well-known or well-spoken of by her aunt. And while there, of course, Betsy learns a lot about the world and herself and becomes brave and strong. It is one of the most awesome books ever (it's about an orphan, so, like, duhhh). And instead of finding a copy for sale -- well, I found that too, but -- it's available for free online at Google Books!

So that's what I'm doing tonight while Rob is out drinking. Please don't bother me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I don't "get" Thanksgiving.

I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving. I have come to understand this in recent years. Part of it is that I'm not really a fan of turkey, unless it's the turkey pastrami at the deli or that peppered turkey at King Soopers, and so it's difficult to work up enthusiasm for any meal that centers around a giant turkey. But I'm also a bit confused by the things other people express as being their favorite elements of the holiday -- time spent with family and friends; an opportunity to give thanks for all our blessings; yada yada yada.

First of all, I spend plenty of time with family and friends throughout the year. I adore my family and friends, and go out of my way often to be in close proximity to them. This is a priority for me in my life. So I get a bit snide inside when I hear people yammering on about how this is the one day of the year on which they get to "set aside issues" and spend time with their loved ones. I find this so disturbing. I mean, wow, I'm sorry your family sucks so badly that you can't stand to be near them any other time of the year. I guess I can cut some slack to those who don't live near their loved ones and so Thanksgiving becomes the one time of year you actually get to see them. If you don't get to be with your family, there's of course your friends to fall back on. But it's become more and more apparent to me in recent years that people my age (I'm a whopping 39-almost-40) don't make time for their friends any more. Which I think is sad, weird, and fucked up. And because they don't make time for their friends, they don't really have any friends to fall back on for a Thanksgiving celebration. And thus comes this pressure to find people to celebrate Thanksgiving with, because no one should be alone or in a tiny group for Thanksgiving.

Honestly? Thanksgiving makes me feel the same sort of pressure that bitter singles must feel on Valentine's Day (another useless excuse for a holiday... but that's a whole other story). It makes me feel like I'm weird if I don't profess to get excited about turkey, and it makes me feel even weirder that I wasn't all that disappointed yesterday upon realizing I have kind of a nasty cold and thus wouldn't be able to attend the family Thanksgiving gathering up in the mountains, because there is a newborn infant involved and I don't want to be getting any infants sick. I wasn't all that disappointed, and you know what? I kind of suspect my husband wasn't all that disappointed either. Except about the part where he might miss a really big and tasty meal. He does enjoy turkey. And stuffing. And all that stuff. Except mashed potatoes. He is oddly not a potato fan, which I think is bizarre. What kind of person doesn't love potatoes? Especially when they're mashed with butter and cream and spiced with a bit of rosemary and garlic. (That's a Thanksgiving dinner I could get excited about: a giant plate of mashed potatoes, and not much else.)

Part of it is surely my Canadian heritage. Canada didn't even have a national holiday of Thanksgiving until 1957, so my parents didn't really grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, and even if they did celebrate, it wasn't the huge deal it is now. In Canada, Thanksgiving takes place on a Monday, and no one I know actually even celebrates it on that Monday -- they all have their big meal on the Sunday. Because they have to go to work on Tuesday. No one gets dressed up; my aunt sets up tables in her garage to feed the huge crowd she gets, which is kind of awesome. For her, it seems like an excuse to finally try all the Thanksgiving recipes she's read about in her Martha Stewart magazines for years.

But I digress.

When we moved to the United States, my family no longer had family nearby. So friends became our family, and it was always with close friends that we celebrated Thanksgiving. Almost always at someone else's house. I can count on one hand the times we actually had Thanksgiving dinner at our own house. When we lived in Utah, we always went over to the Butwell's house. After moving to Colorado, we had Thanksgiving with the Leahy's. My mom reserved her meal-planning energies for Christmas and contributed a few side dishes. As a result, I think, the sides became my favorite parts of the meal... but again, not a turkey fan. But the main thing for me was always that whole day to spend with my friends. My family was there, in the same house, but the kids would always be off doing our thing in the basement rec room.

And then we all grew up, and that way of celebrating was over, and it seemed like it became this struggle every year to find something to do for Thanksgiving. In recent years, we've been going up to Granby, CO to celebrate at the home of my brother-in-law's parents, and that's been really nice. But for me, it's just another day with family -- awesome family that I love, sure, but it's nothing we don't get to do on a pretty regular basis. So it's not like I can single out Thanksgiving as being something uber-special and different, not like other days of the year.

I have to confess, one of my more favorite Thanksgivings ever was last year, when it was just The Pook, Rob and me, in our car, driving to Florida. The drive itself was so long and kind of shitty because I was exhausted, since we drove straight through. But the company was the best. We stopped somewhere in Tennessee for dinner at a Cracker Barrel, the only restaurant open on Thanksgiving Day in that part of the country. I was amused by how packed it was. Those were my kind of people, just saying "Screw all the bullshit -- I just want to be with my family and/or friends, I don't feel like cooking, and maybe I won't get the turkey! Maybe I'll get chicken and dumplings, because it's Thursday at the Cracker Barrel!" And even though we were doing something that carries with it a lot of risk -- driving on our nation's highways -- I felt really safe because Rob and The Pook were right there in the car with me. And there's really nothing in the world that makes me feel good the way a road trip with Rob and The Pook does. A road trip with Rob is great, but a road trip with Rob AND The Pook is priceless and awesome.

It looks as though this year we'll be at the Cracker Barrel again, although it will just be Rob and I, as Pook is at his Dad's house. And I don't mind that. And I'm not going to profess to love turkey because I don't. And I'm not going to update my status on Facebook with any messages about how thankful I am for my friends and family, because I show enough gratitude to all of them all year long. And I'm not even going to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I'm just going to sit here and watch the Macy's parade and make the occasional snarky comment about it on twitter.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Here's something I can't stand...

I can't stand it when people call my office and try to tell me how to do my job. I mean, I'm not gonna sit there and tell the guy at the car fix it shop how to fix my radiator, or how to do an oil change. I'm not gonna tell the bank teller how to enter my deposit. I wouldn't purport to know more about playing the guitar than The Edge or Eric Clapton. So why, oh why, do people think they can call an insurance office and tell me how to issue a certificate, or what form to use for an evidence of property, or without having ever seen the actual policy, tell me they have an insurable interest in someone's coverage?

Usually it's the mortgage lenders who are the worst offenders, or the loan closers. But occasionally, you'll get a caller who knows someone who knows someone who works in insurance, and that insurance "professional" has taken it upon themselves to advise this caller about a policy they've never seen and know nothing about. And then the caller calls me and tries to tell me what this other insurance "professional" has told them. And then it gets ugly, as it must, because none of what they've been told is based in reality.

Personally, my standards about my work are high enough that I would never advise a non-client about a coverage-related matter. I would never tell someone they had coverage or were entitled to coverage without intimate knowledge of their policy, or tell someone to call an insurance office and demand certain coverage before I knew the full story... that story being, who's the policy written with? Is this applicable to what the Insured does? Will the insurance company allow it? Ethically, it's inappropriate. In the state of Colorado, it's questionable as to whether or not it's even legal. Just because you have an insurance license doesn't mean you have carte blanche to advise everyone on the planet about insurance matters. It's ridiculous to make the leaps of logic it would take to think I'm doing the right thing by advising someone about insurance I don't even write, and haven't been asked to write.

All right... insurance rant done.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Diet Pepsi. Christmas lights. Warm brownies. The Pook. Robbie Roo. Books. HD. Canada Dry. Vaccines. Having a job. And health insurance. Stuffed animals. Chubby cheeked babies. Denver Broncos. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Scrapbooking paper. My camera. Geeks Who Drink. Zantac. U2. Puppies. Fine point pens. Mom and Dad. Chicken. Sunflower Market. Rolling Stone Magazine. Masterpiece Theatre. The Tattered Cover. President Obama. Sisters. Brothers-in-law. Princess and Burrito Boy. Glee. Soy Delicious ice creams. Le Creuset cookware. Comics. Black picture frames. Ford Focus. Pita chips. Friends. Words. Van Morrison. Red. Figure skating. Italy. Honeycrisp apples. Santa. Harry Potter. Outlander. Bad television advertising. Romantic comedies. Cake. Hockey. Canada. Family.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weird Phase and Some Thoughts on Twilight

I wonder why they didn't let Miranda Lambert use her gun for the new Cotton ad. I wonder if it was difficult for her to part with her guns for the length of time required to film the ad. I wonder why these things plague me the way they do.

I'm going through a weird phase this past week where I want nothing more than to sit down at my kitchen table and scrapbook, and at the same time I want to be working on my novel, and at the same time as that I want to be online shopping for Christmas gifts so I never have to go inside a mall again or join that holiday season line at the local Best Buy. And at the same time as all that I want the house to be clean and the laundry to be finished and the supper to taste delicious. And at the same time as that, I want to read the three books I've got lined up. And so because of all the thought processes involved in all that, I have no energy to actually do any of it. And I just sit in the chair and watch mediocre television and fuck around on Facebook.

My sensibilities are so offended by the trailers for the new Twilight movie. I love how Kristen Stewart was recently quoted as saying she doesn't want to be a celebrity, she wants to be an actress, but then she's signed up to do these Twilight movies, which require only that she can make that slightly tortured-looking face and occasionally scream. I get why teenage girls are into Twilight, I really do -- I'm sure it seems really romantic when you're, like, 15 and have no world view whatsoever. But I still cringe every time I hear another one of my grown up woman friends saying she loves Twilight. Part of it is that I feel a bit of "been there, done that" attitude over the whole vampire thing -- back in my day, we had Interview With the Vampire and that hottie Lestat. And the other part of it is that the Twilight books are some of the shittiest writing I've ever seen. Seriously. I can't decide who's cheesier -- Stephenie Meyer, or Judith McNaught -- she of Paradise and Perfect fame. It might be a toss up.

Plus I kind of wish Stephenie Meyer would spell her name correctly, because no one's fooled by that extra "e" -- we all know she was called Stephanie by her parents in a decade where 1 in 3 baby girls were called either Stephanie or Jennifer.

Also I was totally craving peppermint flavour salt water taffy over the weekend, but when I got to Sunflower to buy some, they had cinnamon in its place, mislabeled as peppermint. So I bought some Christmas Nougat at King Soopers in the hopes they'd be a worthy substitute, but it turns out the Christmas Nougat is too strongly pepperminty. So now, because I didn't get my proper taffy, I can't stop thinking about it. I might have even dreamed about it last night, but I can't confirm or deny.

We have our air conditioner on because our crazy ass neighbors apparently have their heat cranked up to 11.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Ahh, well, so much for that.

I knew I wouldn't be able to blog every day, even if it was just for one month. I am impressed by those who can do it. I don't have that much to say.

We're sitting here watching Frost/Nixon for the second time. What an excellent movie. I do enjoy power house performances by fine actors -- in this case, Frank Langella. We originally saw this at 2009's Best Picture Fest last February, and it was the last movie of the day and didn't begin until around 10pm. So it's kind of nice to see it again and pick up all the subtlety we missed.

Still having a problem with pantry moths. I thought I found the source, and I put away everything I thought they might have infested, but two more moths showed up tonight. I read on the internet that they love to get behind the fridge and make their nests back there. Uch. I don't know how we're going to fix that.

I also watched Apollo 13 for the 9 millionth time tonight. It's so unbelievable how good that movie is. It has the same ending every single time, but it's still gripping and tense.

I went to a crop last night and got a bunch of pages done and now I'm all antsy to keep going. But I need to get some photos printed, and I need to order some new albums.

I'm looking forward to the holidays. I'm hoping we can do some fun things... anything that involves looking at lights!

I've been really bitter about all the lying and bullshit surrounding the health care bill. I'm glad it passed the House. It'll be an uphill battle to pass it in the Senate, but here's hoping. We need good things to happen.

Friday, November 06, 2009

My New Nephew

Here are some photos of our new nephew, Owen Matthew. He was born on October 26, weighed in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and was 20 inches tall. He is a little fair-haired cutie pie.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It's already too complicated.

Three days in and I'm already at a loss for words.

I ate a bunch of Milk Duds tonight and they didn't hurt my stomach. But it was after I'd had a filling dinner, and I was at home and comfortable. I suspect my stomach only likes to punish me when I'm on vacation or at work, where I can't do what it takes to make it feel better. Which is basically to curl up in the fetal position and pass out.

I've signed up for a couple of Christmas-related online scrapbooking classes. They're supposed to help me focus on journaling about the season. I need to come up with fun stuff for us to do as a family leading up to Christmas, though. I've been kind of down during the holiday season the last couple of years because we were broke and couldn't afford to go to Zoo Lights and stuff, and so the season was sort of empty for me. Here's hoping we find ways to change that this year.

Ooh -- I finally found some accurately-sized clothes for The Pook, at Old Navy. So that was very exciting. He's tall, but not big, so most of the size 8s have been too short and too tight around the waist. But the Old Navy pants are sized pretty perfectly. Here's hoping they don't shrink.

Work has chilled. Someone who I back up was out for three weeks on a family emergency, and now she's back, and my life is so much better!

I'm not positive, but it looks like David Letterman is wearing purple-rimmed glasses. They make him look weirdly like Dominick Dunne.

Hmmm... late night talk show hosts don't seem to be in agreement as to who won the New Jersey gubernatorial election. That's odd.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Stuff I Hate That Everyone Else Seems to Love

Mad Men. So let me get this straight... it's a show about advertising execs in the 1960s and how crass they were to nearly everyone. Basically it's The Sopranos with fewer dead bodies and less foul language.

Twilight. Oh, don't get me started, because I know if I do get started, I will offend like 48 of my friends, and I already offended enough people when I said only boring people were obsessed with Michael Jackson back in the 1980s. So I'm just going to let it go at "I think Twilight sucks." And then someone told me there's Robert Pattison underwear you can buy. Why is that necessary in life? Are they Underoos? Are they in any way ironic? Or are they just disturbing? Thought so.

Dressing in costume for Halloween. Rob and I are not curmudgeons, but when it comes to dressing in costume, we are curmudgeonly. Personally, I haven't enjoyed dressing in costume since I was around 6 and my mother painted my face green for my witch costume and the makeup made me itch so badly I wanted to tear my face off. Also, the costume itself itched. That was back in the days when all the costumes were made of flammable plastics. Really comfy. If I could find a comfy costume made primarily of cotton, I think I'd be all set. That's why I don't mind dressing up for the Ren Fest -- my costume is cotton. 100% cotton. But also, I guess I just don't have the competitive drive required to pull off a good costume. It seems like you have to want your costume to be the very best one, and I know for a fact that no costume I ever wear will ever be the very best one.

Sting. Occasionally, Sting has a decent song, but more occasionally, Sting has a boring song. True story: I was in a restroom at a restaurant recently where they were playing canned music -- someplace between Muzak and Adult Contemporary -- and this one Sting song came on and I actually thought it was a Muzak version until he started to sing. That's Sting in a nutshell for me. Also, I listened to his new Christmas album, thinking it might be good because it has all these Old English songs and hymns on it, and it is the most dour, depressing thing I've heard in a long time. Horrible.

Rock Band and similar video games.
Sadly, I seem to know way too many people who seem to be laboring under the delusion that playing these games is in any way equivalent to actually playing a musical instrument.

Karaoke. I used to like karaoke, back when my sorority sisters would haul me out to a bar, buy me 6 shots, and sign me up to sing all their favorite hits of the 1970s. I was so drunk, I believed I sounded awesome, and they all egged me on, and it was easy not to pay attention to any of the people singing when it wasn't my turn. Nowadays, karaoke nights are so crowded with all the people ever told "Hell no!" when asked if they should ever sing in public, that you're obligated to sit through 100 horrible singers before you even get your turn, and there isn't enough alcohol in the world to make it remotely palatable. What's even worse is when one your friends gets up to sing and is just terrible, and you feel obligated to cheer them on, but feel horrible about encouraging someone that terrible at singing. I am a firm believer that not everyone should be given an opportunity to sing -- not at church, not in school, not on television, and certainly not at my favorite bar.

Dooce. I don't think she's that funny, and I don't think she's so good at parenting that I would ever turn there for support from the Mommy Blogosphere, and in fact, she's often so bitter and judgmental that she's more off-putting than anything else. I don't get what people adore and swoon over. Other bloggers that I love are always going on about how wonderful Dooce is, when they are in fact better -- better writers, better comedians, just... better. I wish people would stop. You don't HAVE to like Dooce. I'll like you more if you don't.

Crime procedural dramas on television. CSI This, CSI That, Law and Order This, Law and Order That. All plots ripped from headlines, making them all that much more realistic. I don't want my television realistic. I want it ridiculous, like Ugly Betty, Glee, and Heroes, or entirely implausible, like Chuck and Lost. Medical dramas run a close second.

Beach vacations. There's something to be said for laying around doing nothing for a week, but personally I'd prefer to do it in the privacy of my own home, with cable television and plenty of books around. I don't get even remotely jealous when someone in the office is heading off on a beach vacation. More power to them. I'll get jealous when someone's heading off to Disney World or Europe or road tripping the east coast.

Nickelback. Holy crap, what a horrible band. They give Canada such a bad name. So boring, and every single song sounds like the last one, which wasn't very good to begin with. And don't get me started on the lead singer's hair.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hello, and Welcome to November!

So apparently in November, there's this thing where you're supposed to blog every single day? It's got a weird name in which the first two letters of each word in the name of the thing become the actual name everyone refers to the thing as (for example, SoHo which means "South of Houston St." or LoDo which means "Lower Downtown")... but the name is, sadly, escaping me right now. Anyway, my point was that I thought I'd give it a try. Even though I've already missed a day, so I guess I'll blog on December 1 to make up for that.

We all know how well I do with blogging on even a semi-regular basis, so I'm not sure what makes me think I can actually update every single day. But I'm sure I can think of ways to offend all 8 of my readers between now and December 1.

This can't end well.

Edit: It's National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo for the weirdly lazy.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Things I Would Tweet If I Could Be Arsed Part II

Jesse Palmer's hand gestures are kind of gay-esque.

Hey, Jesse's fair game. He signed up for my abuse when he signed up for The Bachelor.

Want to know how I know you're gay? Because you act totally gay.

I bet football sportscasters have pools to bet on how many times they can use sexual-sounding words and phrases like "penetration" and "deep into the end zone" in any given broadcast.

Have I mentioned how excited I am about the U2 concert? I'm so excited!

Here's another one: "He was STIFF on that play." Total overemphasis on "stiff."

Even recaps of baseball are like watching paint dry.

Note to self: Laundry doesn't magically do itself if you leave it in color-coded piles on the bedroom floor.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Boring People Like Weird Celebrities

I've been developing this theory lately concerning the types of celebrities we're all attracted to, following the death of Michael Jackson and the inexplicable summer success of Lady Gaga, who are both total freaks. And I came to realize that when I was young and Michael Jackson was at the height of his success, what with the Thriller album and the Victory tour, that the people who were into him were the people I would have considered the boring people at my school -- the people with no imagination, the people who dressed exactly like the Guess ads told them to, the people who had no drama in their lives, the people who (due to their lack of imagination) didn't even know how to create drama. And so they turned to the heightened drama of a figure like Michael Jackson, who in those days cultivated a lot of mystique while at the same time being a huge, huge star. Back then, you could be the biggest star in the world and still not have anyone know anything real about you -- there were paparazzi, but they weren't yet following celebrities into the coffee shop or anything like that. So someone like Michael Jackson was fascinating to boring people; he did all the work for them, cultivating his persona as well as his mystique, controlling it all very carefully. And that worked for him, and he failed to evolve with the rest of us, and eventually the cracks appeared and that's when we were all treated to far too many glimpses into the freakshow that became his life.

And I submit that it is these same boring people (Perez Hilton is like their fucking King) who are fans of Lady Gaga. I mean, obviously someone's listening to her, but it's no one I know personally. Again, she does all the work for them, with her insane outfits and bizarre "statement" performances (she actually said that her VMA performance was a recreation of the death of Princess Diana, but no one seemed to grasp this -- everyone just thought it was fucked up and insane), and her bland earworm tunes. She has cleverly catered to the paparazzi -- they'll never catch her doing something fucked up because that's what she does "naturally;" there's nothing to catch her doing if her behavior is terrible from the get go. In fact, it would be a huge scandal if Lady Gaga were to be spied in public dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and buying a latte at Starbucks. It would ruin her career (and would thus be totally awesome).

Whereas my peeps are all recovered from some sort of past drama or another, and are creative and musical and artistic, and have had to actually work very hard at our dull thirtysomething existences, and thus we never saw any appeal in celebrities like Michael Jackson or Lady Gaga.

The only thing that messes up my theory is the fact that Heather is really into Michael Jackson, but her life has never been boring. However, she is way younger than those of us who knew Michael Jackson in his prime, so I suspect that she would have loathed him along with the rest of us if she had been a Child of the 80s. Her age is a factor.

Of course there are always way more boring people in the general population than interesting people, so that totally accounts for the vast popularity of weird celebrities.

And that's the theory I've been working up, and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Lotta Pacing Back and Forth, Not Much Material

That is a quote from David Spade, who was on a comedy show bill with Jon Stewart and Dennis Miller way back in 1993 -- one of the best comedy shows I've ever seen, incidentally. David Spade had so little material prepared for his 30-minute set that he started taking requests from the audience for bits, and I was in the front row and requested "Gap Girls," which he obliged. But that's a damn funny person -- someone who can come out in front of 2,000 people and make them laugh hysterically even though they've got nothing. Oh, and this was before Jon Stewart was way famous, but he had had his late night show on MTV, and he was wandering around before the show started and I was like, "Hey, you're Jon Stewart!" and he stopped to talk to me and my boyfriend, and made jokes about how it looked like we were all at a keg party because the theatre sold beer in red plastic cups like you get free with the purchase of a keg. And he was so nice and funny, and I remember thinking that I hoped he became a big huge star someday because he was not lame like so many of the big huge stars of that time.

So but that's how I feel right now -- lotta pacing, not much material. But I feel as if I should post SOMEthing. And I feel like posting. It's just that I feel like I have nothing to say. I mean, there are plenty of things I could rant about, sure. I'm so tired of all the lies and vitriol in the health care debate, for one -- perfectly normal, intelligent-seeming people have shown their true ignorant colors in the last few weeks, and it's really disturbing to me. And then there's this whole LUDICROUS "issue" with the address President Obama is sharing with schoolchildren. I mean, it's disgusting to me how some people have managed to completely turn it into some ugly political game, and made it look like he's some disgusting pervert being given unprecedented access to our children... I mean, if you've seen any of the debate, that's the issue that people seem to have, that the President of the United States shouldn't be allowed near their children. He might touch them inappropriately... through a television monitor, from thousands of miles away. Or he might instantaneously convert them to socialism.

Or he might turn them black. And I think you and I both know that that's what the "debate" really boils down to in this situation. I think there is a huge segment of the population who are still totally pissed off that they've gotten themselves stuck on a planet where a black man was allowed to become President of the United States. I made the unfortunate mistake of reading comments about the "issue" on MSNBC yesterday afternoon, and to a person, the people who were against the address being shown in schools were making hateful racist comments or channeling that moron Glen Beck and calling President Obama a racist. It takes one to know one, I guess.

But I don't really have anything to add or subtract from either of the political shitstorms raging right now, and I've gotten past my bitter hatred for the stupid people perpetuating all of it, so I'll just leave it now. I'm just glad I can come on my own blog and call people out for being stupid and moronic and assholey.

Hey, maybe that's what I'll do. Post this on my Facebook and tell everyone they don't have to play nice here.

Excellent plan.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stuff I Would Tweet If I Could Be Arsed

Chuck E. Cheese is close to my version of what hell is probably like. Chuck E. Cheese with lots of spiders.

An hour of homework in the third grade is stupid. We don't even go to private school.

Is my new office the McDonald's of insurance? I've been promoted after only two months.

No one gives a shit about your wedding planning. Just send me an invite and make sure there's lots of free booze.

You know, high school in the 1980s was really not attractive. Not at all.

As soon as my son goes to bed and before Rob gets home, I'm watching 17 Again. Prime Zac Efron viewing time.

I don't care what Heather says. Bandslam looks like an okay movie.

I could really go for some decent barbecue.

Also, one time last summer the Dahls made homemade salsa out of their homegrown heirloom tomatoes. Sometimes I dream about that salsa.

I can't even tell you how bad my hair looks right now. It's almost like I've given up. Almost.

If I was having a baby boy, I'd name him Aragorn. Just to annoy people.

How can Degrassi suck so bad and yet be so good?

I just took a really funny Facebook quiz that told me how much Jesus thinks I suck. Except it wasn't supposed to be funny.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Yay! Journalists Released!

I was excited this morning when I heard that Bill Clinton traveled solo to North Korea to meet with "so ronry" Kim Jong Il in an attempt to secure the release of Euna Kim and Laura Ling, the two American journalists sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean hard labor prison camp following their March arrest for "illegally entering North Korea" and "committing hostile acts." I had followed the case kind of obsessively owing to my secret fear that someday I will be arrested and imprisoned in a scary country that we have few diplomatic ties with... which is far fetched at best, given that I rarely leave the greater-North American area. Also, North Korea gives me the creeps. So I was heartened to see that someone was sent... although the Obama administration denies that Bill was "sent," or came bearing any messages from said administration.

Whatever. It worked and the two journalists are actually on their way home on the plane with Clinton and some fine looking Secret Service agents. They looked all right -- there was some footage of them walking toward the plane and boarding with President Clinton, and one of them (I think it was Laura Ling) smiled slightly as she declined one of his aide's offers to carry her bags.

Obviously I fall into the camp of people who believe it's better to send someone important to kiss Jong Il's ronry little ass and offer up a fake apology to secure the release of wrongly imprisoned American citizens, rather than not dealing with "these people" and letting our citizens rot in prison.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Morning and The Pook Is Annoyed

I just remembered that I left out the best part of the Interior Decorator story in my last entry: Not only was I in the middle of getting dressed for the choir concert when I wound up vomiting all over my floor. I was also in fact midway through pulling pantyhose on. You know what a challenge that is on a good day? So multiply it by the most ginormous hangover ever...

Luckily Thad's friend Jenny from their floor was also in choir and giving me a ride to the concert, and she had clearly "been there done that" with the whole "I am a freshman in college and drank way too much last night" thing, and she passed me mints in between dashes to the women's room for dry heaving during the concert breaks.

I've updated my blog roll if anyone cares. One I deleted because it's never updated; another I deleted because it annoys the shit out of me in its smug superiority. And substituted in Ain't It Cool. If I'm going to promote the blog of someone smug and superior, I've decided it will be smug and superior about shit that I actually care about.

The Pook is annoyed because he knows I went birthday shopping last night and I won't tell him what I got. He is also annoyed because I told him I got him something special that he can have right now, today... as soon as I can be arsed to get dressed and go down to the car and retrieve it. And obviously I am sitting here fucking around on the intarwebs. And he is also annoyed because Rob is sleeping in. This would normally not be an issue, but later this afternoon, when I go out to a crop, they are going to Amazing Jake's for their first Boy's Day Off in many months. Apparently The Pook is afraid that Rob is going to sleep right through this plan.

It's fun being a parent and getting to just annoy your child by doing NOTHING.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

College, Part One

I was just sitting here flipping through the television channels and saw Heaven Can Wait on one of the cable listings, and that made me think about the song of the same name by Meat Loaf, off the Bat Out of Hell album (that title has always seemed so much more heavy metal than the album is -- Meat Loaf is pure power pop rock all the way). And that made me think of college, because freshman year of college, that album was a big thing with our crowd. And I remembered how sometimes, my girls and I would just sit around in someone's room on a Monday afternoon and listen to melancholy songs, like "Heaven Can Wait" and "Two Out of Three" by Meat Loaf, and the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and "Yesterday" and "In My Life" by the Beatles. Our friend Jers was always making mix tapes -- you'd get one if he liked you. I had a huge crush on Jers for most of the year but never told anyone because he was first way into this one girl named Kimmie, and then he was way into our friend Lara, and I knew I didn't stand a chance. Anyway, it's better that we just remained friends, because we're still friends now and he doesn't speak to any of them. And I still have the five mix tapes he made for me over the years, even though they don't even work any more. He was my Secret Santa freshman year, and made me an awesome John Lennon tape.

Anyway, I was thinking about how big of a deal every little thing was back then. Is it the age? I guess it must be. The age, and the experience of being at college. College for me, and for most of my friends, was our first time away from home, our first taste of freedom, our first chance to make real choices, and either succeed or fuck up. Sometimes both. I loved almost every single minute of college. I was there for 4 years and one semester, and I can count on one hand the times that were so painful I hated being there; the rest of it was like magic. I had all these amazing friends I never would have made if I hadn't gone... even the boyfriend I hated by the time I graduated, I can kind of think of fondly now, like he was just a mild pain in the ass. In reality, he ripped out my heart and then stomped on it outside a packed bar at closing time, in front of everyone I knew, and I spent several months dreaming of ways I could kill him inside too. Eventually I figured out that he just didn't care, and the whole thing was pointless, and by that time I was ready to move on.

Everything was such a huge deal that we would sit in someone's room in the late afternoon as the sun began to set over the mountains, no lights on, no talking, and we would just listen to music and remind ourselves to breathe. Eventually we'd go down to dinner with the whole crowd, and pretend everything was fine, and laugh and flirt and carry on... ours was always the loudest table in the dining hall, even louder than the table of kids who lived on the theatre program floor -- in fact I'm sure we pissed them off, since we had more drama and noise in our lives than they ever did. And yet I'm sure everything was a huge deal to them as well. They probably hated us.

We always had these amazing football parties in Jers and Corey's room. Lots of beer. And we played Powder Puff Football, all the girls, coached by a rather too large coaching staff drawn from the guys' side of the floor. We kept challenging other floors to play us but I guess we looked too professional, with our thrice weekly practices and large coaching staff, so in the end only two other floors took us on. We kicked ass, of course.

The first time I ever got really, really wasted was a Saturday night about two or three months into the fall semester, and everyone had gone home for the weekend or gone out for the evening, and I had planned to stay in because I had a choir concert the next morning. I got bored and wandered over to see what Ranya and Kimmie and Melissa were up to, and they were sitting in Rany's room with a huge jug of shitty Gallo wine, plastic cups and a big bottle of Sprite, making poor man's spritzers. I settled in to enjoy one, and eventually Kimmie, Melissa and I polished off that entire bottle of wine, and then set about stumbling all over the dorm to "meet people." At one point we thought it would be a good idea to try to get onto the roof of the 12-story building; luckily it was kept padlocked due to a couple of suicides back in the 1970s. The next morning I had to get up really early for the choir concert, and as I was getting dressed in my bedroom, I realized I was about to vomit. I threw my robe back on and was on the point of walking out the door to rush to the restroom when I spewed all over the floor of my room. Eventually this incident earned me the nickname "Interior Decorator," since all I had to clean the carpet with was Comet and it bleached it out, thus leaving a giant bleached spot on the carpet for the rest of the year.

Miserable, and yet I wouldn't have missed out on the getting wasted part even if someone told me for certain that I was going to get sick the next day. It was too amazing, feeling that bliss and doing the drunk bonding with the other girls. It's probably partly why I joined a sorority in my sophomore year... although that was really out of loneliness more than anything else.

I took a lot of Political Science classes, thinking I was going to major in Journalism with Poli Sci as my area of focus, but then I didn't pass the typing test to get into the Journalism school. So I switched over to English/Creative Writing the second semester. I had weird times in the English department up at CSU. No one was friends, really -- it was too competitive -- but eventually, sophomore year, I made a couple of friends in the department and we stuck together till graduation.

My gang of friends and I were heartbroken on the last day of that year, when we all had to separate for the summer. There's a photo of us all in my scrapbook and everyone's crying, but trying to smile through the tears. We'd been through a great deal together in a school year. It's powerful stuff, getting to know and care about people you might otherwise have nothing in common with. That's one of the biggest lessons you learn in college -- how to deal with people. How to live with them, how not to live with them. How to let go of small stuff. How to work together, even if it's on something as stupid as a parade float or a powder puff football team.

Incidentally, I played Center.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Top 10 Hate List - Week of July 12, 2009

Back in college, freshman year in the dorms, a group of girlfriends and I used to post our top 10 Hate Lists on our doors every week. Sometimes my roommate and I would smoke too much pot and post Top 10 Like Lists instead, but usually we were haters. Herewith, my top 10 for the week, in no particular order:

1) Dirty laundry. Why can't it magically clean itself? Why must I slave over it? At the very least, I need a laundry folding robot. I can handle the washing and drying bit, it's the folding that gets old. I know what you're thinking: Don't bother folding it at all. Yeah right. You didn't grow up in my mother's house if you think that's a possibility.

2) Socks on the living room floor. Now, granted, Rob does not have disgusting, smelly, sweaty feet like a lot of men. The Pook's are occasionally a bit grimy given that he is a young boy, but I let him live inside me for almost 10 months about 8 years ago, so I tend to forgive a lot more than I might otherwise. But seriously. Why? Why do they have to be on the floor? Why do they have to come off at all? What possesses males to be sitting around doing nothing and suddenly think, "My feet must be liberated from these confining socks IMMEDIATELY!!" ?? Why can't they get up (since they are doing nothing to begin with) and take the socks to the dirty clothes hamper in one of the bathrooms? Or even simpler, take them to the laundry closet and deposit them there?

3) Allergies. I have them year round. They drive me crazy. I don't understand how any one body can produce as much mucus as mine does.

4) Use of the fake word "coverages." This is work-related. The insurance industry seems to think it can just make up words whenever it wants to or something. Everyone uses the fake word "coverages" when they are telling you about your insurance coverage and think they need to make it plural because there is more than one coverage part in the policy. Really, the word coverage is a word that describes a whole set, which means it can describe several policies all at once without the need for tacking on an "s" to make a fake word. Every form letter in every management system at every agency I've worked at the last few years uses the fake word "coverages" and it drives me so insane every time I see it and have to correct it. What annoys me most, though, is the fact that makers of insurance agency software have actually perpetuated use of this fake word and incorporated it into their forms, thus leading less informed souls down the path of believing it's a real word.

And people should know not to mess with me on this. I practically got into a fist fight over it with the receptionist in my new office the week before last.

5) Our couch. It looks fine and all, even if it's not necessarily my favorite color and all -- I mean, it's a neutral so it doesn't offend. It's passable, and some people probably even think it's nice. Until they sit down on it, that is. And then it's all over. Damn thing sags like it's 40 years old. It's not. It's 5 years old. Sorry, but I would expect a decent sofa to hold up for at least 10 years. It's a major purchase, a sofa. It should last a while. It's like when the iPod first came out and Apple thought they could get away with shitty batteries that only last about a year and after that you could just replace it for the low, low price of over $100, which meant you might as well just buy a whole new iPod, but consumers were like, "Fuck no! If I'm spending that much money on a music player, it better last a fucking long time!" and Apple started using better batteries that last way longer. This is what needs to happen with couches. I mean, this is a $500 couch. That's a lot of money for some of us. Maybe not in the grand scheme of things, but for most of us, it is a lot. And it should therefore last a bit longer than 5 years.

Plus I just hate that it's not the color I want it to be. Poor couch.

6) Weekend tv. There's never anything good on tv when all I have is time on my hands to watch tv.

7) People who drive like idiots. Look, it would take me three full days to detail the numerous ways in which idiots drive like idiots, so I'll just skip the description and leave it at the complaint. I just wish the licensing requirements were more stringent. Why should I have to share the road with these people??

8) My wardrobe. I stand in my closet at least three mornings a week going, "I have nothing to wear but crap." That means I have two decent shirts to wear to work. Two. This seems easily remedied, and yet, it always seems I'm spending that money on my son or groceries or whatever. I wish someone would just nominate me for What Not to Wear, but unfortunately the situation isn't so drastic that I actually qualify for that show. Oh well. I can probably afford new clothes in September. So there's that to look forward to.

9) No more Harry Potter books. Ever. So depressing. I mean, she could write new ones about their kids or something. Right?

10) Cold feet. My feet are always cold. It could be 90 degrees out, and my toes would still be freezing. It's ridiculous. I don't even have bad circulation or anything, so damned if I know why they are always cold. I'll wear slippers around the house all day until finally, after about 9 or 10 hours, my feet feel warm. And I'll remove the slippers, and three minutes later, my feet are freezing again.

Actually, it's kind of good that I had to stretch for 10 things to hate. It means I don't really hate much, which means things must be looking up. And let's face it, this list is more like a "Top 10 Irritants" list. But "Top 10 Hate List" makes for a better title.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Outside my window... I have no idea what's going on. I closed the blinds because I have a headache today, and the brightness of the sun really hurts my eyes and head.

I am thinking... about watching a movie in a little while. But not sure what I feel like watching.

I am thankful for... diet Pepsi, Pay Per View, Facebook, TweetDeck, and photo editing software.

From the kitchen... comes the smell of Ginger Peach Chicken baking in the oven for dinner. And it smells good.

I am wearing... jeans and my favorite Star Wars t-shirt. We watched Fanboys last night and it put me in the mood for this shirt.

I am creating... black and white photos for an album I'm making for my husband.

I am going... to the Renaissance Festival tomorrow! I love the Renaissance Festival.

I am reading... Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I am hoping... to finish that book and begin another within the next few hours.

I am hearing... the dryer, the X-Box 360 running but no game being played, the sound of the keyboard.

Around the house... it is too messy for my taste.

One of my favorite things... is scrapbook paper. I love the way it smells.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Tomorrow's the Ren Fest, then Monday it's back to work. I will finally get a paycheck on Wednesday, and we are going out for a nice dinner to celebrate. And The Pook and I have big plans to go to Build-A-Bear. We haven't gotten to go there in about 100 years. And on the weekend, we're going up to visit my sister and family for the 4th of July.

A picture to share... This one's from 1973, when we still lived in Britannia Beach, B.C. That's my older sister Lianne on the left, and my mom, and me. I know you are jealous of our pants. We are standing outside the train entrance of the Anaconda mine where my dad worked. My dad was always fond of posing us next to mines for group photos -- our family albums are littered with shots of my sister and I standing on the edge of places like Bingham Pit and Carr Fork Mine. Good times.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

For Today

Ali Edwards posted this on her blog and I thought it might be fun to do it too.

Outside my window... the sun is going to down and the sky is that grey shade of blue, with some clouds drifting past.

I am thinking... about all the movies I want to see. Harry Potter; Transformers; Bruno; all the ones we missed while I was unemployed... it could take weeks to get caught up!

I am thankful for... my new job. And The Pook and Rob.

From the kitchen... Nothing tonight. Ronald McDonald was at the local McDonald's and The Pook insisted on seeing him, so we ate there. I'll cook tomorrow night, I guess.

I am wearing... jammies. Roots t-shirt and cotton pants. And slippers. The a/c makes my feet freeze.

I am creating... just this blog entry. But I'm thinking awfully hard about scrapbook layouts...

I am going... to the Renaissance Festival this Sunday. That means it's finally truly summer!

I am hoping... that I can get some extra sleep this weekend, as I've been weirdly exhausted since starting the new job. I didn't realize that it would be so difficult to get back into the swing of using my brain all day.

I am hearing... a commercial for Fruit Loops on the television.

Around the house... it is reasonably tidy, save a basket of clean laundry here and there. And The Pook's room.

One of my favorite things... is goofing off with Genius playlists in iTunes.

A few plans for the rest of the week... work tomorrow and Friday, hang with Rob, The Pook off to his dad's for the weekend, Ren Fest on Sunday, bake Edyn a birthday cake on Sunday evening.

A picture to share...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lazy Sunday

And I don't even have any cupcakes.

I am cooking beef brisket in the slow cooker though. With my own doctored up barbecue sauce concoction. I'm going to feed this to my parents later, for our half-assed Father's Day dinner. So it's not cupcakes, but it IS red meat.

So, I just figured I should make a new post since I finally got a job and that last post is now obsolete. I started my new job last week, at an independent insurance agency, smaller than the one I left but larger than the one at which I originally started in the field. I think there are a total of about 15 of us at my new workplace, and I love that. One thing I did learn at my last job is that a larger office is probably not the best place for me. So that's nice to know, I guess. Also, all the other account manager-type people at my new job are hilariously sarcastic and bitter -- not in a bad, negative way, but in a really funny way. Of course I fit right in. And an old friend from high school also works there, which is an added bonus.

Working for most of the week just about frickin' killed me though. I did not realize that it would be such a huge shock to my system after 10 weeks off to get back to work. After all, I was quite bored and irritated by not working. But it damn near exhausted me. I started on a Tuesday and that was fine, but Thursday and Friday got really frighteningly sluggish toward the end of the day. I realized I'd been mostly laying on the couch snoozing through Ellen and Oprah beginning at 3pm for the better part of 10 weeks, and I have to assume my system will adjust once again to using my brain all the way to 5pm (Does the drive home count? Hope not, or we're really in trouble).

I woke at the crack of dawn today, owing to allergies, and have been parked in front of the television ever since, multitasking, watching crap with half an eye while reading literary blogs (meaning blogs that concern themselves with discussion of all things literary). I did take a brief break to put the brisket on, but otherwise, here's what I've watched already this morning:

- VH-1 Top 20 Video Countdown. Confused new Daughtry video with a generic Nickelback song till I actually saw Chris Daughtry in the video. Turns out this is the song he wrote with the lead singer of Nickelback. Just... ew. Also, realized that one only digs Katy Perry while Katy Perry is actually playing; then you just forget about her ten minutes later. I mean, Lady Gaga is totally irritating, but her songs are catchy enough to stick with you and sneak up on you later in the day. Not so with Katy Perry.

- America's Sweethearts (5 minutes). The totally crap movie starring John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Billy Crystal. With that cast, I'm sure the filmmakers assumed it would be awesome. But it's horrible. The problem with a cast loaded with heavy-hitters is that the moviegoer has no idea where to look. You've got John doing his thing, Billy doing his schtick, Catherine playing a bitch, and Julia convincing no one that she's a put-upon wallflower. The whole premise is ludicrous, but only because of the casting. Also, no one really wants to see movies in which Hollywood pretends it understands what's ridiculous about Hollywood.

- Six Pack (beginning about 20 minutes in). This movie, on the other hand, is awesome. Back before Kenny Rogers did that thing to his face, he played a down on his luck race car driver who finds himself saddled with the care of 6 youngsters who miraculously know everything about cars and racing, help him win a bunch of races, and capture his heart along the way. This movie is awesome.

- Mask (final 45 minutes). The 1985 classic starring Cher and Eric Stoltz. And the dad from Prancer. I love this movie but it is pretty depressing. I guess I never noticed before how depressing it is. Also, I didn't know anything about the Grateful Dead the last time I saw this movie, so I only just noticed that Ripple is playing at the end, when Rocky is dead and Cher goes in and finds him. Which makes it sadder. Dude, though, it's totally awesome that she trashes her house. I think I might actually trash my house if anything ever happened to The Pook. I can totally relate to that reaction. Also, this movie no longer makes me cry. I used to sob uncontrollably at the end. No longer. Interesting. Also, "Roll Me Away" by Bob Seger, which plays over the end credits, is still a really killer song.

- Fuse Hit List. This is the video music channel that still plays music videos. Actually, they all still play music videos; you just have to know what time they play them. On the Hit List, they just play whatever's currently a hit. Doesn't matter if it's hip hop or metal or pop or whatever -- they just mix them all up. It's mostly rad with a bit of irritating thrown in. I can usually only stand this for about 45 minutes before I have to change the channel. Rob and I have learned from the Hit List about how Canadian bands can always be identified by their shitty videos that follow some kind of stupid plotline about a kid who's fixing to run away from home because his or her family doesn't understand them. We have also learned that hip hop is more effective when you stay away from "singing" along with AutoTune. We have also learned that the Killers are no substitute for Bruce Springsteen, hard as they may try, and that Paula Abdul did the Rebel Without a Cause video most effectively with Keanu, so no one should bother trying to redo it.

I was hoping for a marathon of Locked Up Abroad on the National Geographic network, but no such luck. And today's Degrassi marathon doesn't even start until 4pm -- what good will that do me??

Now that Rob's awake, we're gonna watch Fanboys on pay per view. Yay!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dying of Boredom Seems to Be A Real Possibility

(I used to have a friend who would say, "It's a real possible" when you asked him if he was interested in doing something, like go out for drinks after class or whatever. Is this something that people say on a regular basis? He grew up in Wyoming.)

Anyway. I've been unemployed since late March. And I'm not gonna lie -- despite the underlying cold sweat of panic, it was awesome. Although I (mostly) liked my job and loved my coworkers to death, I hated the people I was working for -- a couple of the most morally bankrupt people disguising themselves as Christians who give a crap about everyone but really don't that I have ever had the misfortune to meet. So it was hard to be there. And I don't think the bad economy had really affected us till that point, so I foolishly thought I would find a job quickly. So I went on many, many interviews and was hopeful and confident, and met friends for lunch and even had one day where I just went to the local scrapbook store and scrapbooked all day long, all by myself. It was awesome. And don't get me wrong -- I am still hopeful and confident, but after 8 weeks, have finally managed to wrap my head around the fact that it's going to take longer this time to find a job than the last time I had to do it (that time, it took two weeks). So I continue to interview up a storm -- 4 this past week, 2 this coming week -- and apply for everything that looks like a good fit and many things that don't look like a good fit.

And it's difficult and it's depressing and sometimes I am discouraged to the point that I just lie on the couch and cry for a few minutes. Oh, and try getting results from the unemployment office -- what a cluster fuck that is! I loved seeing those people on Oprah's show this week who actually managed to collect unemployment, because I was starting to think unemployment was a myth, like unicorns and Zeus. But I am nothing if not a plucky heroine in the novel of my life, so this is not going to get me permanently down.

It's just that I'm super bored.

This is how I spend my days: drop The Pook off at school, come home and get ready for interview if I have one, and if not, seat myself at the computer for several hours of applying for jobs, making phone calls about jobs I've already applied for or to follow up on interviews, and occasionally working on my novel. In between, I tweet incessantly and screw around on Facebook, hoping for a brief contact with another human being -- something I always had at work, that human contact. I'll take it, even if it's just online.

At first, my Facebook friends thought it was funny. But now I suspect even they are becoming super bored by my constant status updates and lame quiz results. And frankly, I'm bored by it too. And there are only so many blogs I can stand to read, and only so many fan sites I can lurk around on, and only so many questions I can research the answers to. Sometimes I watch Ellen and Oprah, but honestly, most of the time it's not worth the horrible daytime television advertising one has to endure. Ugly attorneys fighting for your rights following a car accident! Study at home for a degree from a really crappy university! ProActiv... because you're probably covered in hideous zits if you're sitting home in the middle of the day!

So I've read about 15 books in the last 8 weeks, which is great but honestly? I'm kind of bored with reading now. Something I never thought I'd say. Plus if I finish all the books in my existing unread pile, I'll eventually have to hit the library for more, and I hate library books -- they've got other people's germs on them. It's a good way to pick up flesh eating bacteria (thanks, Oprah!).

I've gotten as caught up on scrapbooking as I can without having to buy more supplies, so scrapbooking is out for now, except for a couple of album completions I need to do.

The house is very clean and way more organized than ever.

The Pook and Rob have enjoyed many delicious home cooked meals.

I have this list in my head of all the things I could have accomplished with these 8 weeks:

1). Could have worked out every day and lost several pounds.
2). Could have made serious progress on my novel.
3). Could have done volunteer work and made the world a better place.

I don't know, the list seems longer in my head. But you get the point.

Instead of doing these things, I get trapped in the cycle of thinking I can't start something in case I get called for an interview, or in case I get a job offer, or in case some temp work comes up. So I confine myself mostly to the house to be available when the phone rings. Which it does, often enough. I just wish it would ring with an actual job offer.

Before I do actually die of boredom.

It could happen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Taking the Stage

So Rob and I have a new obsession (if by "obsession" you mean we watched it every week and dissected each episode at length and if by "at length" you mean 10 minutes or so) -- this show on MTV called Taking the Stage. It's this reality show about kids at a performing arts high school in Cinncinnati. Mostly it focuses on Tyler, a dancer, Jasmine, another dancer, Malik, also a dancer, and Mia, a singer/songwriter. Tyler and Jasmine were a couple until the second-to-last episode, when Tyler finally realized that their lack of decent conversations and eye contact were killing him slowly and he broke up with her. I'm sure Jasmine is a nice person, but she seems to be really shy and any niceness, if it exists, doesn't come across on camera. Sadly this will undermine her dance career, and hinder her in auditions and interviews. Jasmine is besties with Malik, who is gay and a really good dancer but a bit too Broadway -- he seems to want to be a hip hop dancer, but he doesn't quite get the style.

And then there's Mia. Mia is the real reason we watch the show. She's a singer and she plays guitar and piano, and writes all these beautiful songs about deep subjects, like how shallow she finds Tyler's relationship with Jasmine... because oh by the way, she has feelings for Tyler and he has feelings for her too but felt loyal to Jasmine, plus he's black and Mia's white, which was an unspoken undertone to the whole thing. In the season finale, Mia went to audition for this dickwad at Jive Records who ultimately decided she wasn't "ready" for a recording contract. Which might be true, but what annoying teenage/young adult recording "sensation" is ready? Is this moron telling me that Ashlee Simpson gets to have a career over someone with actual talent like my girl Mia? Yes, that's exactly what he's telling us. And it's sort of depressing, except I know that Mia is going places and she'll have that recording contract eventually, and Rob and I can buy all her albums. Also, she has red hair, and Rob would have been in love with her in high school, and she would have been nice to him but accidentally stomped all over his young heart because she wouldn't have felt the same way. Maybe.

The most amusing part of the show is where Jasmine goes around talking smack about Mia all the time because Mia and Tyler kissed at a party at some point after Jasmine and Tyler got together but Mia didn't know they were together, and the smack-talking just makes Jasmine look like an asshole when she seems to have been cast as the "nice girl." Like they'll cut to her in the audience of one of the many, many performances on this show, and she'll have this nasty-ass look on her face and be whispering what she thinks are snarky comments to her pal Malik. And so most proper-thinking people would have to assume she's kind of a bitch. Kind of. I think she just doesn't have anything else going on besides dancing; she doesn't seem to be very smart, and I think she liked the idea of having a boyfriend more than she liked the actual boyfriend. So now she's the bitch of the show, and she's so dumb she probably thinks that Mia is the bitch of the show because Mia speaks her mind and goes after what she wants and is a complete person, but totally not a bitch.

Oh, and Malik's drama is pretty good too. One audition, and he's all, "It's sooooo discouraging. They just didn't like me." And he's all set to quit and never dance again and his mom has to all build him back up again. When what the people at the audition really said was that he wasn't quite ready to be signed; he has a little more work to do. Isn't anyone teaching these kids to listen to what they're actually being told at these auditions? Apparently not. And then he also has some drama with this boyfriend he's had, but they're "taking a break" right now. I love, by the way, Malik's mom, who just totally seems to accept him as he is and loves him to death and is so supportive and everything. She's kind of awesome.

We can't wait for season two. This show is so much better than The Hills or Laguna Beach ever were. It's like someone finally realized that if we would all sit around and watch rich kids with nothing going for them other than their parents' money deliver half-sentences and shifty glances, we would be even more likely to watch kids with actual talents and lives who can speak in complete sentences! I'm so glad this was green-lit by someone.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Ceremony

Top: Daniel wasn't that interested in the poetry readings.
Middle: Our friend Sandy was one of our readers.